Data gathering process didn't seem to satify many of the parents; Central high school is the only one actively fighting to save their school.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2017



Part 3 of a 3 part series

The Halton District School Board held a public meeting to gather data on what people felt about how public educations are delivered and paid for.  The Gazette has run a three part series on the data collected.  This is the third of the series.

The 25 questions were asked of about 350 people attending the event.  256 were given hand held clickers to enter their responses.  58.6% of the responders were from Central high school; 16.8% from Pearson and 16.8% from Hayden; 2.7% from Aldershot ; 2.3% from Nelson; 2% from Bateman and .8% from Robinson.

Quite how the members of the PARC are going to evaluate and use data that is so heavily skewed to one school will be interesting to watch.

Question 18: The Board’s current walk distance for secondary students is a maximum of 3.2 km. How important is it that your child(ren) are within the Board mandated walking distance to reach school?
Very 78.3%; somewhat 8.7%; not very 8.3%; not at all 4.7%

Bikes at Beaudoin schoolQuestion 19: Which of the following is your child’s most common form of travel to school currently?
School bus 14.5%; car 8.6%; Public transit 0%; walk 68.8%; bike 6.6%; other 1.6%

Question 20: How important is it that the Board be fiscally responsible by reducing transportation to each school?
Very 61.1%; somewhat 17.8%; not very 8.9%; not at all 12.1%

Question 21: How important is it for your child(ren) to spend their secondary years in one school community?
Very 92.2%; somewhat 5.4%; Bot very 2.3%; not at all 0%

Question 22: The Ministry does not fund empty pupil places. To what extent do you agree that the Board should reallocate its limited budget to fund these places?
Strongly 52.6%; 21.6%; somewhat disagree 12.1%; strongly agree 8.3%

Question 23: The Board’s MYP (Define) states it will maintain a minimum overall averae of 90% building capacity. To what extent do you agree with this goal around future sustainability of Burlington’s secondary schools?
Strongly agree 8.3% ; somewhat agree 14.1%; somewhat disagree 22%; strongly disagree 55.6%

Question 24: The goal in the current MYP is to use innovative approaches to student learning spaces (e.g. classrooms, gymnasiums). To what extent do you feel the current situation in Burlington high schools is sustainable?
Very 47.6%; somewhat 28.8%; not very 10.5%; not at all 13.1%

Question 25: Of the four themes which is the most important to you?
The facilitator wanted to know which of the four themes the questions were put into was the most important to the audience
The themes were:

Programing and enrollment
Physical sate of existing school
Geographical and transportation issues
Fiscal responsibility and future planning

Data on the choices was not captured


Members of the PARC at a quick meeting after the first public meeting at Gary Allan high school early in December.

It took a little arm twisting to get the data from the Board of Education.  The Gazette was at first told it would be made available to the PARC and then released to the public.  The Gazette persuaded the Board that it was public information gathered at a public meeting and was therefore public – and they released it the following day.

portrait of Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac, a Board of Education Superintendent and Chair of the PARC

Scott Podrebarac, a Board of Education Superintendent and Chair of the PARC,  said a more fulsome report will be prepared before the first working meeting of the PARC in late January.

Parent comment varied – little of it all that positive:

One parent said: “My thoughts are that if the purpose of the meeting was to actually gather public input, it pretty much failed big-time. If the purpose was simply for the board to be able to check off a box that they satisfied Ministry or Board guidelines to hold a public session to say they gathered public input, I suppose they accomplished their mission. The meeting occurred, but that’s about it.


Parents and some students at the public meeting where data was gathered.

Another said: “We thought since it was billed as a chance for us to answer their questions and ask our own questions that (a) the questions we were answering would be non-biased and easy to understand. They were neither; and (b) that our own questions for them would be answered, not simply asked and then left to float off into the air.

I don’t see how they will be able to use the data to prove anything, since many schools were barely represented according to the attendance figures from each school, and since it was clearly publicly aired over the course of the entire evening that people were confused by the questions, found them biased, and felt they were not being heard at all with their own questions.

The fact that many Superintendents and senior staff and the Director all fled the meeting instead of offering to answer those questions, certainly did not go over well.

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series


Return to the Front page

Money doesn't win elections - all it really does is pollute the process.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 6th,2017



Money can’t buy me love. Well at least that’s what Paul McCartney told us. And money couldn’t win Hillary Clinton the US presidency either, even though she spent almost twice as much as her opponent. In fact that flamboyant and wealthy Trump guy also won the Republican nomination despite spending less than any of the other candidates. So maybe he is as good a money manager as he says – or maybe it just takes more than money to win.


Phone banks cost money – do they get the vote out?

Still, running a campaign isn’t free – advertising, phone banks, brochures, and all that jazz. In the 2015 federal election Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper burned close to a hundred million between them with Justin just topping out Stephen. But it was how the money was spent that took Trudeau to a majority win, according to his staff. And chances are he might have won with even less money.

Of course one never knows these things for sure – so the party people, all parties, keep on sending appeals to the faithful in hopes that the cash keeps rolling in. It’s almost as if raising money has become a fixation, a goal in itself, filling some hypothetical war chest fitted with neither bottom nor lid. Yet, as Trump has shown, one doesn’t need all that money to win a campaign.

Advertising takes up a lot of the campaign money, yet the truth is that fewer people today listen to or watch the expensive commercials on the networks, with the possible exception of live sports broadcasts. More folks are now using their PVR to zip past the commercials, or are switching to Net Flicks, Crave, Prime or public broadcasting to get their programming and avoid those annoying ads. For example, I could have missed all the political ads, had I not been covering this topic.


Tweeting has taken over the way people communicate.

And more folks are getting their news on-line or via Twitter and other social media, rather than the traditional newspapers and networks, where the worst they have to encounter are those annoying but less costly pop-up ads. Even radio listeners can now go to ad-free Sirius or other programming and avoid the attack ads and all that other garbage on the AM/FM stations.

This transformation does place more onus on the reader/watcher/listener to discriminate between fake and real news – but that is another issue. The point is that it shouldn’t cost as much to run a successful election campaign as it once did. And that means the spending limits for the political parties should be falling not increasing. Logically, if the spending starts coming down so will the need for all that money that gets raised.

Politics is largely funded by the government – and that means the tax payer. Half of the costs of all the election campaigns are eligible for subsidy. All eligible donations are tax deductible, starting at 75%, whether raised from spaghetti suppers, rubber chicken dinners or straight cash contributions. And the greater one’s income obviously the more valuable the deduction to him/her making it a regressive tax measure,


Money does not grow on trees.

In the early ‘90s Jean Chretien reduced the influence of money in politics by banning corporate and union contributions and slashing the amount which individuals could donate. With these savings, from reduced tax credits, he established a program to fund political parties on the basis of their popularity at the previous election – the per-vote subsidy. After all, a subsidy is a subsidy from a public accounts perspective. But this measure removed potential influence peddling and corruption from a public accountability perspective.

The federal Conservatives typically raise more money through donations than the other parties. So whether it was a strictly political maneuver or he was driven by ideology, Mr. Harper reversed the course Chretien had set by increasing both eligible contributions and election spending limits, and then he axed the per-vote subsidy. And so it is little wonder enthusiastic fundraisers in the political parties started playing the so-called ‘pay-to-play’ or ‘cash-for-access’ fundraising game.

And it is particularly shameful when it is the party in power selling access to senior ministers. Seriously, why would any business person cough up $1000 or more for a few minutes with a government minister unless they expected something tangible in return? There is no question that cash-for-access flies in the face of the electoral financing reforms that Mr. Chretien had enacted, and should be banned or outlawed.


It is the under the table funding that sets in the rot that destroys much of the political process.

Today there is a growing sentiment among Mr. Trudeau’s members and those of the third parties to re-instate the per-vote subsidy. Of course financing that subsidy would be more revenue neutral were the government to once again reduce individual contribution limits, perhaps even lower than before Harper had elevated them. And another upside would be that members of Parliament could use their time to attend to matters more in the public interest than raising money for the next election?

Finally if we care about our federal deficit, since half of the election expenses get subsidized, it is hard to justify current high election spending limits. This is especially true in light of the hard lesson Mr. Trump has just taught us. Victory is not only a matter of how much gets spent on a campaign. Sometimes ideas are more important than money.

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:

Can’t buy me love –   US Campaign Finances Federal Political Subsidies

Per-Vote Subsidy –   More Per-Vote Subsidies –   More Cash

TV Viewing vs Streaming –   Tax Deducibility –   Election Campaign Costs

Return to the Front page

Data collected on parent views about high school closings lacks balance but there are some interesting insights.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2017



Part 2 of a 3 part series.

The gathering of the data from 256 parents who were responding to the 25 questions posed by Kirk Perris of Ipsos, the company hired by the Board of Education to facilitate the public meetings and the meetings of the PARC (Program accommodation Review Committee) was not a particularly friendly event.


HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

The parents were expecting a dialogue – with questions asked and answers given. The Board Director of Education chose not to stay for the meeting – he was at the Gary Allan high school greeting people but said he left before the meeting got underway on the advice of staff.

Stuart Miller is not the kind of man to avoid an issue – the public would have been better served if Miller had chosen to follow his own instincts.

The data gathered came from: 58.6% of the responders were from Central high school; 16.8% from Pearson and 16.8% from Hayden; 2.7% from Aldershot ; 2.3% from Nelson; 2% from Bateman and .8% from Robinson.

They were clearly skewed to how parents from Central high school felt.

Questions 1 to 8 were covered in the first part of this three part series.

Question 9: How concerned are you that your child(ren) has access to appropriate learning facilities (ie kitchens, science labs gyms, libraries)?
Very, 63.7%; somewhat 22.4%; not very 6.6%; not at all 7.3%

Question 10: How concerned are you that some high schools have large amounts of specialized learning spaces that remain underutilized?
Very 7%; somewhat 21.7%; not very 35.7%; Not at all 35.7%

Question 11: How important is it for your home school to have a full range of extra-curricular activities? (e.g. drama, arts, athletics, clubs) for your child(ren).

Very 46.4%; somewhat 35.2%; not very 13.4%; not at all 5%

Question 12: How likely are you to support your child(ren) participating in extracurricular activities at another school?
Very 27.9%; somewhat 26.7; not very 19%not at all 26.4%

Question 13: How important is it for your child to have access to the highest level of competition in athletics?
Very 7.3%; somewhat 11.5%; not very 26.9%; not at all54.2%

Given the number of people who responded to the question and the fact that more than 50% were from Central this question and the answers given should not be seen as the view for all the high schools. Nelson and Hayden parents would respond quite differently – which suggests there could perhaps be a couple of high schools that would have sports team with other high schools offering a different academic environment.


Central high students outside the provincial legislature.

Does an arts high school, a science focused high school make sense? Is there going to be an opportunity for parent’s city wide have a fulsome discussion about this?

There are all kinds of questions that come to the surface as the data captured is analyzed.  Serious question but the schedule set out doesn’t all all that much time for pauses and opportunities for the parents to gather and discuss amongst them selves with their trustees in the room in a less than formal format what they as a community wants. The existing schedule might not really be serving the public interest.

The parents may need some time to be educated on just what is possible and what doesn’t work from an educational point of view.

Question 14: How important is the physical condition of your existing school to you (e.g. environmental sustainability, energy consumption, safety)?
Very 31.4%; somewhat 15.5%; not very 13.4%; not at all 39.7%

Question 15: How important is it that the board ensures that schools have an up to date fully accessible learning environment, e.g. elevators, air-conditioning?
Very 23.1%; somewhat 15.7%; not very 13.2%; not at all 47.9%


Central high school – the oldest of the seven schools with a rich local history and a community deeply committed to keeping it open,

Do the answers to this question reveal the different realities different high schools face? At Central the students use classroom on the third floor where there is acceptable heat in the really cold weather. Are Occupational Health and Safety Policies going to require elevators or escalators in high schools? And can older high schools be upgraded at an acceptable cost?

Question 16: How important is it to you to preserve existing community partnerships at your child(rens) current school? (e.g. swimming pool. Library, community centre).
Very 38.6%; somewhat 14.3%; not very 19.5%; not at all 27.5%

Question 17: How important is it to you to minimize the use of portable classrooms?
Very 63.1%; somewhat 10.7%; not very 10.7%; not at all 15.5%

Did anyone expect much in the way of a different response to this question?

Questions 18 to 25 will be covered in the third part of this series.

Links to related articles:

Part 1 of a 3 part series.

Return to the Front page

One of the most refreshing minutes you will have today - the creatures we share this world with.

News 100 greenBy Staff

January 5th, 2017





Everyone likes nature – to be out for a walk in a forested area and suddenly see a young doe standing very still watching you. There is both an intimacy and a magic to it all.

Watching traffic stop while a flock of geese cross the road taking their sweet time aggravates for a moment until you begin to appreciate that we share this planet.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology sent out the following short video.

It will change the way you see the day – less than a minute to view – well worth the time.


Return to the Front page

How To Write Kick-Ass, Profit Pulling Adverts For Your Business

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

January 5th, 2017



How To Write Kick-Ass, Profit Pulling Adverts For Your Business

Doesn’t that just grab you by the eyeballs and make you stop dead in your tracks? I mean it’s a little harsh – grammatically speaking – but holy smokes, it does it have ‘stopping power’…

Jonathan Cairns dives at Sandycove in Dublin, while Rachel Armstrong awaits her turn December 25, 2008. You Witness News/Fiona Brophy

Diving right inPhoto byFiona Brophy

Now I’ll share with you a few secrets for creating good adverts. So let’s dive right in because we’re all busy people 😉

First you need to be introduced to AIDA.

– A stands for ATTENTION, as in get some or you lose your chance

– I stands for INTEREST, as in now keep me interested.

– D stands for DESIRE, as in ok, make me want what you’ve got.

– A stands for ACTION, because people need to take action for something to happen.

Got it? That’s all there is to it…Easy right?

If it were that easy we’d all be rich and you wouldn’t need marketing consultants like me. Truthfully, just invest a few thousand hours studying, read all the classic books on advertising that date as far back as 1920 (when advertising really became a science) and you’ll have the subject down cold.

On the off-chance you don’t have that much free time, I’ll give you some wickedly powerful pointers that will let you leapfrog over the other guys. So let’s begin…

Headlines R Us (or is that You?)

It all starts with a headline. You know, the first thing the prospect sees. The title at the top of the page, that’s the headline. The first few words they hear on the radio, that’s a ‘headline’ too. Take this article for example, the headline was the first thing you saw. A good headline can almost stand alone and you just ‘get it’. It’s an advert for the advert.

Studies have shown the headline results in approximately 80% of the results. So the headline makes all the difference. In one test a changed headline improved response over 2000% (over 21 times!)

Here’s an example of a really bad headline… YOUR COMPANY NAME


Your company name is not a headline.

That’s right, your company name is not a good headline. In fact your name, your contact details, how long you’ve been in business and all those other boring bits of data you often put at the top of adverts, is a waste of time…and money UNTIL the prospect wants to know who you are – only then are they important.

Next…Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Then you have to make a good offer. Don’t beat around the bush. People are busy, your headline stopped them, now they’re looking – so make your pitch. Give them the best you’ve got. Make them an offer they can’t refuse…

Describe the benefits of having your product or service in a way that the prospect can experience. Don’t focus on the specific features – focus on benefits. People buy benefits. Here’s an example:

[Feature] 1/4 Inch Masonry Drill Bit.

[Benefit] 1/4 Inch hole… Probably to hang a picture – so the real benefit was admiring the picture or proving to your spouse that you really are handy around the home…


And once you’ve helped them see themselves experiencing your product or service tell them what you want them to do – call, click or visit today. Or words to that effect. Remember, advertising that does anything other than sell is a waste of money for most of us – brand advertising is expensive.


This a headline – outrageous and direct. You probably read it twice and you might even mention it to someone.

Because headlines are so critical to the success of your adverts I wanted to sign-off with this formula for a good headline: SINC (Self Interest, Curiosity & News).

If you can make the headline show the reader what’s in it for them, make them curious to read more, and share something newsworthy you’ve likely got a winner on your hands.

Remember, the money is ALWAYS in the headline.

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.’getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

Developer is shocked - Mayor hasn't seen anything like this before - two 19 storey apartments in Alton lead to some less than friendly words - in Burlington?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2017



The Mayor hasn’t seen anything like it in his ten years in office and the developer is shocked.

The two are now trading strong words. A Burlington developer is telling it as he sees it – the city is playing “pay-back time” against the Adi Development Group when they rejected a staff supported decision to allow the creation of a development in the Alton community that would include two 19 storey apartment buildings in a community where two storey homes are the norm.


A graphic of the [proposed Adi development proposed for Alton. The graphic came from the web site of Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward – no friend of the Adi’s.

A Planning department report approved a 612-unit housing project for the Alton community last month. City council voted against the project and the developer now claims that this vote was a pay back for Adi taking the city to the OMB on another project.

Tariq Adi, CEO if the Adi Development group is reported to have said: “Oh yeah, absolutely. “Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, I know what’s going on here.”

Them’s fighting words.

City Council voted against the project located just north of Dundas Street in north Burlington.

Burlington’s planning staff had negotiated with the developer and thought they had a deal. Feelings are now hurt.

City planners recommended acceptance of the project after months of negotiations with the developer to modify the original proposal. The ward Councillor, Blair Lancaster, told the residents she would not support the development.

Residents of the Alton community, turned out in large numbers for a meeting in December and expressed their anger about the existing congestion in their neighbourhood, traffic issues and overcrowded schools.

Adi has now taken the city’s rejection of their Alton project to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Adi has a proposal for a 26 storey unit at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road that is also now before the Ontario Municipal Board. It is currently in an OMB guided mediation that took place December 15th and 16th. The outcome of that mediation is not yet known.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brohers, Tariq on the right, Saud on the left. It was Tariq who was shocked into taking their development to the OMB.

Tariq Adi is also reported to have said: “Yes, what happened at Martha absolutely has something to do with this. That’s fine, that’s part of doing business. We’ll just deal with it.”

The Mayor is reported to have denied that the votes against Adi are politically motivated and said the vote was based on the delegations made to city council.

Burlington is in the process of writing a new Official Plan. The decision to write a new plan rather than concentrate on revising the existing plan was to have it reflect the 25 year Strategic Plan that was approved last year.

The Planning department is also working up the rules and regulations that will apply to proposed mobility hubs at the downtown transit terminal, at the Appleby and Aldershot GO stations as well as at the Burlington GO station where the Molinaro Paradigm development, currently well underway with sales exceeding the original projection.

The Adi Development Group is relatively new to Burlington. They have a number of projects in different stages of development.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

The Station West development in Aldershot has yet to break ground. Their Moder’n project on Guelph Line was completed more than a year ago and fits into the community very nicely.

ADI Link development

The Adi Link development at Dundas and Sutton in north east Burlington.

Their Link project at Dundas and Sutton is well underway.

There are still disputes with the organization that paid for the initial infrastructure work in the Orchard community. The Adi people appear to not want to pay their share of those costs at this point in time.

Tariq Adi is reported to be shocked at the rejection of the Alton project and is quoted in the Spectator as saying: “The mayor is not a fan of me and I’m not a fan of the mayor, period. He’s walking around preaching intensification and he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Goldring + Jivan and son

Mayor Rick Goldring talking to an Alton resident during the last municipal election.

“He says this is not a good site for intensification when staff is saying this is the perfect site for intensification.

“We were proposing something that we believed was fair and reasonable and from a planning perspective conformed to all the official plans and growth plans that the City of Burlington was trying to do,” Adi said, “especially with the whole preaching of the intensification gospel.”

The city and the Adi people will now hire lawyers to argue before the OMB.

The one consistent factor in all this development activity is that if Adi is the company digging the hole in the ground – there will be major differences of opinion and, so far at least,  two of their developments are going to the OMB.

They are quite quick to sue when they don’t get what they want.

Return to the Front page

Brand name is used to entice the greedy and the vulnerable who could quickly become broke.

Crime 100By Staff

January 4th, 2017



When you see a well-known brand name you feel confident and you might read an email that came from that company.

Any email from someone you do not know – is an email you should treat with suspicion.


The head line talks about money – the greedy get pulled in by this. The content is quite different – the offer of a job, The pdf file is probably filled with malware that will do you great harm. If you don’t know the sender – don’t open the pdf and don’t respond.

The following came to us today:

“We are looking for receiving payment agent personal who will act as medium of reach between our customers and us. Their job is to receive payment from our customers within your country, Annual income:$24,000USD and 10% of any payment received from our clients.

“Our company will pay you $24,0000 as annual income, and you will get 10% of any payment you receive on behalf of our company.

Identity theft - many faces

Millions of dollars are stolen by thieves who want access to your identity.

“Please send us your personal information if you are interested. Names:Age: Telephone No:Sex:Occupation:Country:Bank Name:
email me at E-Mail:”

There were so many red flags with this email  the number of zeros in the dollar amount.  The headline bears little relationship to the content.  They used the brand name Kraft to catch your attention.

These thieves target the greedy and the vulnerable who get to add “broke” to how they are described.  Don’t be one of them.

If you don’t know the person who sent the email – don’t open it.getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

434 reports of vehicles being entered and property stolen from them in 2016.

Crime 100By Staff

January 4th, 2017



Between January 1st 2016 and December 31st 2016, there were 434 reports of vehicles being entered and property stolen from them throughout the city of Burlington.

In December alone there was 49 reports of vehicles being entered.

The majority of the vehicles entered were unlocked.


The majority of the cars that had property stolen from them in 2016 were unlocked

This is a crime of opportunity and most commonly occurs overnight in the cover of darkness where culprit(s) walk along residential neighbourhood streets trying door handles until an unlocked vehicle is located. Culprit(s) are stealing items such as change, electronics, wallets, purses, sunglasses, clothing and power tools.

Police are reminding the public of the following prevention tips:

• Ensure your unattended vehicle(s) are kept locked/secure
• Park in a well-lit and attended areas whenever possible
• Never leave spare keys in your vehicle
• Never leave personal identification or valuables in your vehicle
• If you have to leave valuables in your vehicle, lock them in your trunk. Don’t tempt thieves by leaving packages or purses in plain view or on the seat.
• Remove GPS navigation and cell phone devices & power cords from view when not in your vehicle
• Help police catch those responsible by keeping an eye out in your communities and immediately reporting any suspicious activity.getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

Transformation of Joseph Brant Museum awaits a January 25th decision from federal government.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 4, 2017



They want to be “shovel ready” should the federal government come through with the$5 million plus in funding that is needed to completely transform the Joseph Brant Museum

City council was asked to approve the process and strategy identified in capital works department report on the possible transformation of the Joseph Brant Museum from the single structure on the site to a 14,000 square foot creative Centre.


Architectural rendering of the transformed Joseph Brant Museum – view from the street level.

Staff did a 50% costing exercise for the Transformation Project, including the tasks that have been carried out to date and the remaining tasks to complete the proposed scope of works to be “shovel ready”.

The report also identifies a strategy for the Joseph Brant House should senior levels of government funding not be secured January 2017.

In April of this year Capital Works got approval to move forward with the detailed design for the Joseph Brant Museum Transformation Project funded entirely from the Joseph Brant Museum Transformation Reserve Fund. The reason to move forward with the detailed design was to be “shovel ready” should senior levels of government funding be realized to meet a funding condition to be substantially complete by March 2018.

The Burlington Museums Board (BMB) and the Joseph Brant Museum Foundation (JBMF) endorsed the initiation of detailed design requesting support from the Senior Project Manager from the city’s Capital Works Department.

There is an excellent very short video of how the site is to be transformed if federal funding gets to Burlington.  Video is near the end of this article.


An aerial architectural rendering of the transformed Joseph Brant Museum. House is moved west a short distance and the Creative Centre built underground – 14,000 square feet of space.

The project still remains contingent on funding from senior levels of government. Staff continues with the tasks associated with detailed design in preparation for tender to pre-qualified General Contractors in order to be “shovel ready” and achieve substantial completion by March 2018.

January 25th is a critical date. Should the senior levels of government funding not be realized by January 25, 2017, staff recommends that the secured funding that is available January 25, 2017, be utilized to renew the existing Joseph Brant House.

The table set out below identifies the revised project budget based on 50% costing at $10.3 million.


The $2.2 million from the Museum Foundation consists of a reported $1.4 million from the Helen Ireland Caldwell estate.

brant-museum-costsA separate table outlines the funding breakdown. The city’s portion has not changed from the prior approved budget funding of $2,120,000.  There was a grant of $1 million from the Burlington Foundation and a significant bequest, $1.4 million from the Estate of Helen Ireland Caldwell who passed away in August 2010.  She was the first cousin to Marie Ireland, the last Ireland family member to live in historic Ireland House before it was bought by the city and turned into a museum in 1987.

Staff reported in April 2016 that there would be public engagement in 2016. Since the funding has not been secured staff is recommending holding a public open house when senior level’s of government funding is 100% secured.

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.

Should funding not be realized staff recommend a strategy to suspend the current proposed project scope and direct efforts toward the existing Joseph Brant House renewal with the monies from City sources in combination with any additional secured funding to January 25, 2017. Staff will report back to Council on that scope of works.

The current annual operating cost for Burlington museums is $581,759 which includes Ireland House.

The plans for the transformation are not minor. The existing structure will be re positioned on the site and a large, very large underground creativity centre will be installed.

Very little has been said about just what that creative stuff will be about other than the following notes on the museum web site: The $10.8 million expansion will add 14,000 square feet including four exhibit halls that offer the opportunity to showcase special exhibits, two multi-purpose rooms, a lobby, shop, resource centre and storage for over 25,000 artifacts and historical treasures.

More importantly, it will enable the Joseph Brant Museum, Burlington’s Community Museum and Heritage Centre, to showcase blockbuster exhibitions from around the globe.

The existing Brant house will not be something the public can get into – it will be a location for administrative offices. Looks as if the only thing “Brant” about the new building will be the name.

Burlington Museums will be doing a themed newspaper on the War of 1812 for distribution in the community. Brant's son John will play a prominent part in the festivities this year.

The Joseph Brant Museum as it stands today.

The existing collection of Brant material is limited and the library in place truly pathetic. The role Brant played in the society he was part of was very significant – it looks as if it might be lost in the new structure.

An ongoing concern is the width of the re-constructed Lakeshore Road hat was raised close to a metre and curves around the existing structure. That road is a single lane and leads to the re-developed and enlarged Joseph Brant Hospital and its parking garage.

The video set out below will give you a sense as to just how big this transformation is – and just how small Lakeshore Road it.

Will that single lane road carry all the traffic if there is a major traffic disaster on the QEW; the 403 or on the railway tracks.

As you look at the video imaging a couple of dozen ambulances racing along that road.

Then consider the long long range plans the city and the Region have to turn the existing Beachway community into a theme park.

A lot of questions – and not that much in the way of public input.

Where will the Canada Day Strawberry social take place?


Return to the Front page

Burlington's Community Engagement Charter - passed by Council in 2013

Burlington Community Engagement Charter – April 8, 2013


The Burlington Community Engagement Charter is an agreement between and among Burlington City Council and the citizens of Burlington concerning citizen engagement with city government that establishes the commitments, responsibilities, and fundamental concepts of this relationship.

At the core of democratic government are two pillars that also form the basis of effective citizen engagement:

• That government belongs to the citizens within its political boundaries, and
• That the inhabitants of a city are “citizens” with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship based on justice, human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law.

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes - seldom more. Putting questions about the budget on line and letting a panel of 5,000 people respond would give city hall a much bigger picture. They may not like the response they get - then what do they do?

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes – seldom more.

Engaging people on issues that affect their lives and their city is a key component of democratic society. Public involvement encourages participation, actions and personal responsibility. The goal of community engagement is to lead to more informed and, therefore, better decision-making.

This Charter‟s overarching objective is to enhance communications and access to information for citizens, and to facilitate and enable meaningful engagement.

This Charter is composed of five sections:

1. Common Terms and Definitions
2. Vision and Mission Statements
3. City Commitments
4. Citizen Rights and Responsibilities
5. Public Participation Spectrum.

1. Common Terms and Definitions

As used in this document, the following terms are defined to mean:

Citizen: For the purposes of this Charter, the word citizen refers to a resident of the City, entitled to its rights and services and with a responsibility to take an active part in community decision-making. The words citizen and resident can be used interchangeably.

Citizen engagement: The right and responsibility of citizens to have an informed say in the decisions that affect their lives though a dialogue of mutual respect between government and citizen.

Community engagement: The process by which citizens, organizations, and government work collaboratively. It includes information sharing, consultation, and active involvement in decision- making.

Decision-making: The process followed by the City of Burlington’s City Council to reach decisions on those items that are presented in staff reports.

Meaningful engagement: Citizens and stakeholders have the opportunity to access information on the engagement topic that is timely, relevant, constructive and substantive. Their resulting input to decision-makers is expected to meet similar standards and is intended to ensure that a balance and range of public perspectives is available for consideration in the decision-making process.

City council at PAC

The members of Burlington’s city council at a photo-op at the Performing Arts Centre.

Stakeholder: An individual, organization or group that has an interest in an issue, will be or is likely to be affected, or has the ability to affect a decision or outcome. Organizations include non- governmental organizations, government, institutions and businesses.

Standing Committee: Committees comprised of members of City Council, established through the Procedural By-Law, with an ongoing mandate or purpose.



2. Charter Vision and Mission Statement Vision:

Burlington aspires to become increasingly more engaged and connected with its community.

To provide Burlington citizens, members of City Council and City staff a plain language, living policy document that guides and promotes active and meaningful citizen engagement in the City of Burlington‟s planning, policy-setting and decision-making processes.

3. City Commitments

To fulfill the vision and mission of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter, City Council makes the following commitments:

The City of Burlington will be responsible to its citizens and stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions.

Capacity Building
The City of Burlington will encourage the ability of its citizens and stakeholders to effectively participate in the development and implementation of engagement processes with respect to issues and decisions that affect their lives and their community.

Clear Language
The City of Burlington will use plain and clear language in documents and public communications that is more engaging and understandable for citizens than technical language and jargon.

City Feedback
The City of Burlington will inform citizens and stakeholders about how their input was considered and adopted or why it was not adopted in City projects, initiatives and policy development. Feedback will usually be provided in a summarized format rather than on an individual basis.

Delegation Process

Orchard PArk residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a citty staff recomendation for parkland in their community.

Orchard Park residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a city staff recommendation for parkland in their community.

The delegation process, which allows citizens to address Council and Standing Committees on issues, will be respectful and welcoming. Delegations can learn how their input affected decision-making by reading the minutes of Standing Committees and Council on the city’s website or by requesting a written copy, or by viewing webcasts of discussions on the topic of their delegation. However, it is suggested that citizens first explore alternatives such as approaching City staff or their ward Councillor to see if their issue can be resolved without escalation to a decision by Council.

Early and Widespread Notification
The City of Burlington will provide early and widespread notification to citizens and stakeholders about proposed developments, policies, initiatives and municipal projects. Widespread notification will not be given for purely localized issues such as neighbourhood traffic calming.

Inclusion and Accessibility
Every citizen has the right to participate in community engagement regarding issues of concern to them. Engaging and enabling the participation of all Burlington citizens is a goal of this Charter.

Openness and Access to Information
The City of Burlington will provide a variety of ways for citizens, city staff and members of City Council to access and share information and discuss ideas and options. The City of Burlington will provide open data and information to the public in recognized and useable formats, including routinely available information in on-line formats, print material, and face-to-face opportunities to facilitate healthy discussion of city issues.

The City of Burlington will support the Engagement Charter by ensuring that its engagement processes are adequately resourced. Charter requirements will be met by City Council, city employees, volunteers, agents and contractors in their efforts on behalf of the City of Burlington.

The city’s decision-making processes will be open and clear to the public and the city will actively encourage and facilitate citizen and stakeholder participation in them.

4. Citizen Rights and Responsibilities/Participation

Citizen Rights: Citizen Engagement is grounded on the premises that citizens have the right to have an informed say in decisions that affect their lives, the right to access information from their local government, and the right to transparent and open government that provides them opportunities for engagement.

Citizen Responsibilities/Participation:

Air Park - Stewart-+-Warren-+-Goulet-+-woodruff-+-Monte-+-Blue-1024x494

Citizens discussing a concern in the Council chamber with a staff member.

Along with rights come responsibilities Citizens who choose to do so can meet their responsibilities by being aware of community issues, exploring options with respect to those issues, meeting with City staff and Members of Council when necessary, and discussing issues with fellow citizens.

Mutual Respect: Successful community engagement requires mutual respect of all participants including citizens, staff, and members of council.

Respect is exemplified by:

• Listening with an open mind;
• Showing consideration and value for another person‟s point of view;
• Valuing the role each person plays in engagement processes; and
• Following meeting “guidelines for engagement”.

Successful citizen engagement requires meaningful interaction and dialogue between citizens and their local government resulting in a constructive relationship among the parties.

Burlington citizens elect a mayor and ward representative whose role is defined in the Municipal Act. Council must represent the public and consider the well-being and interest of the municipality.”

5. Public Participation Spectrum

The International Association for Public Participation‟s (IAP2) spectrum of participation is a recognized global standard for identifying the different levels of participation. Five levels of engagement, referenced from the IAP2‟s Public Participation Spectrum, will be used in City of Burlington community engagement activities.

IAP2‟s Public Participation Spectrum shows the possible types of engagement with stakeholders and communities. The spectrum also shows the increasing level of public impact progressing through the spectrum beginning with „inform” through to „empower‟. A complete description of the IAP2 Spectrum of Participation appears in the appendix to this charter.


Return to the Front page

Within the Strategic Plan there is the statement that the city actively encourages and welcomes collaboration with residents and stakeholders in the decision-making process.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2017



In 2013 city council approved a Community Engagement Charter

Purpose and function of the charter was to have a citizen’s voice at the table and make public involvement part of everyday practice within the City of Burlington. The ChAT team provides pre-consultation advice on public involvement issues or opportunities prior to launching a formal public involvement plan or activity.

Shortly after the Charter was approved the General Manager of Community Services assigned a task force of residents who had been involved in developing the Engagement Charter, as well as city staff responsible for coordinating engagement activities in the city to form ChAT. The team’s role is to ensure that community engagement is part of everyday practice at the City of Burlington.

In April 2014 City Council received the Charter Action Plan developed by ChAT which was to serve as a guide, created with input from staff and residents, which translated the Community Engagement Charter into a series of actions.

As ChAT continues its work in community engagement, staff is, at the same time, engaging in public involvement opportunities as part of everyday practice. This report reflects the work in which ChAT has had a direct involvement or influence.

Part C Community feedback

Portions of community feedback on a city commissioned survey.

Council adopted the 2015-2040 Strategic Plan, a blueprint for city-building.  To support and deliver the promise of true community engagement, the city, in 2016 created two new positions: Michelle Dwyer as the Corporate Public Involvement Lead, dedicated to community engagement, and Kwab Ako-Adjei a Senior Manager of Government Relations and Strategic Communications.

ChAT describes itself as an integral part of changing how city staff involve the community in important issues, projects and policy. The group has undergone a year of significant transition. Two citizen members left ChAT at the end of 2015 and a third citizen member left in late 2016. These members left due to personal commitments and relocation.

Chris Walker, an original member of SHAPE Burlington and Shaping Burlington and Bob Elliot, a new resident of Burlington are now citizen representatives on ChAT

There has been some delay in the 2016 work plan. ChAT has identified some new goals, including creating a standardized tool for public involvement and creating a larger, community-based group to help build community capacity.

This all really good stuff – what causes genuine concern is when three Council members worked as a committee and brought forward a motion to reduce the amount of time a citizen would have to delegate at a Standing Committee from ten minutes to five minutes.

John Searles, a citizen ChAT member delegated to a council meeting recently and advised them that if they did pass such a motion they would be violating the intent and purpose of the Engagement Charter.

If ChAT had real clout that motion would never have gotten on the agenda. But it did and it was heavily debated.
ChAT in principal is a nice document – in practice – don’t bet much more than the cost of a cup of coffee on it and expect them to really defend your rights. The current council, for the most part, takes the position that they were elected to run the city and they will do as they see fit and as long as the decisions they make serve their interests. Getting re-elected is in their best interests so from time to time they go along with a delegation.

The ChAT report makes mention of the first ever virtual meeting with the media (press conference) on July 6, 2016.  I was part of that event and was the only media person involved in the conference call – there was one other person representing a media outlet but not a reporter. He was just taking notes.

The media seldom hears anything about ChAT – which is because they don’t say very much.
Then look at the people who sit on the ChAT representing the city and then count the number of citizen’s there to represent your interests.

Part E community feed back

Portion of citizen feedback on a city commissioned survey. Link to the full report at the end of this article.

The following summarizes ChAT’s work plan and accomplishments in 2016:

Increase the number of people participating on the insight Burlington panel and Let’s Talk Burlington, our online survey tools.

Participation in both survey platforms was stable in 2016 and a third survey tool (iSurvey) was also used. It should be noted that Let’s Talk Burlington (MindMixer) contract will be completed as of December 31, 2016. The Insight Burlington (Vision Critical) contract will be completed as of February 28, 2017. Securing a successor online survey platform is a priority for 2017. Until then, our iSurvey tool will be used to engage with residents online.

Should there be agreement in 2017 to continue with the Community Survey (statistically valid telephone survey that asked residents their opinion on a number of topics including public involvement), we will be better able to gauge or benchmark movement in this area.

The community engagement plaques have been produced and are being installed in public buildings across the City.

There is going to be a community engagement checklist for staff to use in preparing community engagement plans for city projects and initiatives.

A terms of reference has been completed for the core group.

The 2017 workplan for the ChAT team is:
Finalize and roll out the staff checklist for community engagement no later than Q2 of 2017.

Recruit an additional citizen member for the ChAT core team, with an emphasis on reflecting Burlington’s diversity no later than Q1 of 2017. Following this, expand ChAT by recruiting and creating a larger, community-based group to help build community capacity.

Using ChAT’s leadership and in consultation with staff and residents, secure a new online survey platform no later than Q3 of 2017.

Meet with the appropriate citizen advisory committees to bring awareness of the community engagement charter and its’ associated rights and responsibilities throughout the year.

Committee Composition – Citizen Members
John Searles, Yvette Dhillon (until October 2016), Gloria Reid (until December 2015), Chris Walker (started March, 2016) and Bob Elliot (started May, 2016)

JC Bourque + Ridge + Dwyer

Centre: City manager James Ridge with Corporate Public Involvement Lead Michelle Dwyer talking to the KPMG consultant who helped the city draft the 25 year Strategic Plan

Staff Members: Michelle Dwyer (City Manager’s Office), Donna Kell (City Manager’s Office), Sean Kenny (Planning and Building), Doug Pladsen (Parks and Recreation), James Ridge, (City Manager – team champion), 2016), Wanda Tolone/Roxanne Gosse (admin support). Jeff Crowder, Kwab Ako-Adjei (October, 2016), Carla Marshall and Sharon Will (ad hoc members).

The Public Affairs department, which publishes City Talk, is run by Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs. She directs a staff of 2.5 people plus a summer intern.

Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs. She directs a staff of 2.5 people plus a summer intern.

ChAT sets out the following list of changes made to public policy due to community engagement and public involvement:
Survey Topics that were posted online through Insight Burlington, Let’s Talk Burlington or iSurvey:

1. Downtown Streetscapes (Insight Burlington: 314 responses/Let’s Talk: 37 participants)
2. Parking Signs (Insight Burlington 356: responses/Let’s Talk)
3. Art Gallery of Burlington – use and satisfaction (Insight Burlington: 343 responses)
4. Strategic Plan (draft stage) (Insight Burlington: 181 responses)
5. Burlington Public Library (Insight Burlington: 275 responses)
6. Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee (Let’s Talk: 5 participants)
7. Events Strategy (Insight Burlington: 413 responses)
8. Townhouse Development (Insight Burlington: 424 responses)
9. Official Plan Visuals and Tagline (Insight Burlington: 428 responses)
10. Insight Burlington Member Satisfaction (Insight Burlington: 277 responses)
11. 2017 Budget part 1 (Insight Burlington: 405 responses/Let’s Talk: 23 participants)
12. Canada 150 Mosaic Mural (Let’s Talk Burlington: 19 participants)
13. 2017 Budget – follow up survey (Insight Burlington: 316 responses)
14. City Apps – Survey live until November 21, 2016. As of November 15th, 303 surveys have been completed.

Part D community feedback

Portions of the community feedback on a city commissioned survey.

The following are some of the topics in 2016 that the public provided feedback using the iSurvey platform:

1. Burlington Transit South Service Road survey – 101 responses
2. Mapping youth friendly locations in Burlington – 6 responses
3. post launch survey – 35 responses
4. Yardstick survey – gauging park use and satisfaction survey – 33 responses
5. Parks & Recreation program surveys (skating, music lessons, golf, 55+ etc) surveys may still be open – 3,000 + responses
6. Carving a new path in Downtown Burlington – 40 responses
7. Space allocation in city recreation facilities – 23 responses
8. Canada 150 mosaic mural theme – 839 unique responses
9. Post delegation survey (still open) – 20 responses
10. Fire safety – school programs survey – 21 responses
11. Live and Play guide (vote for the cover) – 11 responses
12. Love your Playground survey – 1,229 responses
13. Sports field user – maintenance survey – 23 responses
14. Lakeside Vision Survey – 52 responses
Delegations: 171 people delegated (spoke to committee or council about an item on the agenda) to committees of council/council between November 2015 and November 2016.

Citizens delegate to Council when they are unhappy with what is taking place. Expect members of the current council to mention the number of delegations to show how accessible they have been.

Twitter is monitored by the city and responded to 7 days a week

ChAT communicates with the following city advisory committees:

Burlington Cycling Committee
Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee
Sustainable Development Committee
Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee
Burlington Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee
Heritage Advisory Committee
Burlington Mundialization Committee
Committee of Adjustment
Audit Standing Committee

One can only wonder how the conversation with the Cycling Committee went – there is a reported 2000 plus signatures on a petition to put an end to the New Street road diet.

Background links:

Details on a research report commissioned by the city

The Engagement Charter – complete document.

Return to the Front page

Watershed conditions - rain and melting snow will swell creeks.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 3rd, 2017



The kids are still out of school and the weather is a little on the mild side,

cons-halton-water-shed-safetyConservation Halton advises that Environment Canada is forecasting rainfall beginning late this evening and continuing through tomorrow into early Wednesday. Expected amounts will range up to approximately 20 mm.

Based on the forecast of mild temperatures and rainfall, combined with the partial melt of our existing snowpack, we may experience an increase in flows and water levels in our creeks throughout Halton. In addition, the snowpack melt may contribute to blockages at bridges and culverts and produce localized flooding concerns in low lying areas.

Widespread flooding is not currently anticipated. Our reservoirs are holding at winter levels which allow for larger storage capacity for circumstances of this nature.

Flood presentation - Burlington creeks

Creeks on the east side of the city.

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

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue further messages as necessary and will issue an update to this Watershed Condition Statement –Water Safety message only if significant changes in the forecasts occur.

This Watershed Condition Statement will be in effect through to Wednesday January 4, 2017.

Return to the Front page

What will trustees decide the rationale will be for any high school closings in Burlington?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 2nd, 2017



The next five months are going to be filled with a lot of meetings and conversations over whether or not two high schools in Burlington should be closed.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - CollardThe Halton District School Board trustees have a major decision to make – do they accept the recommendation that came from the Director of Education to close two Burlington high schools and shift some boundaries or do they craft a motion of their own and try to sell that to the people they represent?

The Gazette has put a number of questions before each of the 11 trustees to get a sense of what their thinking is and what they see as their prime role as trustees.

The Board of Education staff have put forward a convincing argument and a set of facts that are difficult to argue with – there are now 1800 seats in high school classrooms that do not have students in them. That just isn’t a sustainable model.

A number of Gazette readers have asked how a situation like this came about and they point to a period of time before the Hayden high school was opened in the Alton Village when they feel some major errors were made by the Board’s planning department. They might be right and at some point the Gazette will do a feature on how  decisions were made in the past.

The errors, if they were really made, would call for some changes in the staffing model at the Board but any mistakes made in the past can’t be corrected; the Director of Education has a significant problem which he has put in front of the elected trustees along with a proposed solution.

Closing a high school isn’t quite as drastic as closing a local hospital but when a high school closes it changes the fabric of a community and that is important – vital to some parents.

While not the prime argument, the closing of a high school impacts property values; the community wonders what the property will be used for should the buildings be demolished.

What do trustees base the decision they will make on?

Is it financial prudence – the cost of the decision they make?

Do the trustees first concern themselves about the academic soundness of any decision they make?

Where does community fall in their decision making?
Do they feel that schools are a vital part of a community and that every community should have a school in its neighbourhood?

Trustees - OLiver, Dilly, Shuttleworth

Trustee candidates Oliver, Dilly and Shuttleworth signed a pledge to “act with the highest level of integrity”. One of the three was elected – she was from Oakville.

While getting themselves elected every trustee will have said something about how important schools are and that every student should be given the opportunity to have the best possible elementary and high school experience with the richest mix of course offerings possible.

The four Burlington trustees are now facing an issues they probably didn’t expect to have to deal with when they ran for office. The pressure on the Burlington trustees will be intense.

Three of the four are new to school board politics – and make no mistake about it – the closing of a school is a political issue; one that involves the full community which includes city hall.

School are one of the brighter threads in the fabric of a community. Those who expect this decision to be made by the school board trustees without any input from the wider public are both naïve and fools.


Three of Burlington’s four school board trustees listening during the first city wide public meeting at which data on what an audience thought about school closings. From the left, Richelle Papin, Leah Reynolds and on the far right Andrea Grebenc.

Of the 11 trustees only three have more than a single term in office by way of experience.

The groups that want Central high school kept open are using traditional protest tools – petitions, lawn signs and taking part in public meetings.


Central high school students in the Santa Claus parade – some thought it was a controversial stand.

The time when those tools were effective is probably past.

The one event they held did make a very strong statement – the Silent Auction raised $14,000 – to the surprise of many. The strength of local support was made clearly evident. Their participation in the Santa Claus parade was seen as controversial by some – it was an excellent way to get their point across to a larger audience.

What that group does to grow that support and turn it into something that becomes more than compelling is the challenge they face. It is a daunting challenge.

So let us see where the current crop of school board trustees stands on a couple of fundamental questions: Is their decision rationale:

Academic offerings
Community input.

Background links:

That integrity pledge

Council member’s views on the politics of a school closing

getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

City councillor airs her views on just where the line on what is political should be drawn

opinionandcommentBy Marianne Mead Ward

January 2nd, 2017



Any time there’s a proposal to close a school, things are bound to get a bit bumpy.

Witness the uproar over Burlington Central High School (BCHS) students holding “Save Central High School” signs as part of their school float in the Santa Claus Parade. Enter “Float-gate.”

The Burlington Post ran an article raising concerns (as well as support) for the students’ actions, and followed that up with an editorial criticizing the students.


Students in the Santa Claus parade.

The mayor pledged to review the city’s policies. The students were accused of “politicizing” the event – never mind that elected officials ride in it every year – rather than praised for raising awareness about what’s happening in our own community and how they feel about it.

The majority of residents I heard from supported the students, as did I. As one resident summed it up: It’s okay to commercialize the parade with businesses, but not a student group advocating for their community. Huh?

Witness also the (lesser) uproar over my appointment on the Program & Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) studying the proposed school closures. I took heat from some of my colleagues and online commenters for accepting the Parent Council’s nomination as one of two parent representative for BCHS, where my son attends.

Keep politics out of it, was the theme, including from the mayor, who believes elected officials should stay out of this and chose the city manager as the municipal representative on the PARC.

Our city manager, James Ridge, will be terrific and I look forward to working with him. But the mayor missed an opportunity to sit on the committee himself and represent the entire community. I met with the mayor in advance to encourage him to be on the committee, and also spoke about this publicly during the council vote, so reading it here won’t be a surprise.

Why raise these two incidents? First, there seems to be an aversion to anything labelled “political” – which is a terrible way to treat our democracy.

Everything about the school closure process is already political. Elected trustees will make the final decision on any school closures, based on policies set by an elected provincial government. Governments advocate to different levels all the time. Several Ontario city councils are taking tangible action to save their schools. More on that in a future post. Earlier this year, a fellow councillor and myself both delegated at a meeting of Catholic trustees considering elementary school closures in Burlington. Happily, trustees voted not to close any schools.

All of this is democracy in action. Call it politics if you will, but people fought and died for the rights we enjoy to elect and expect our representatives to listen to us, and advocate for us.

Second, notice the criticism isn’t about the issue, the proposal to close schools, but rather about the manner in which people choose to be involved in that issue. This, too, is an attack on democracy. Every time someone is criticized for speaking up or getting involved, it creates a chilling effect on others doing likewise. Safer to keep your head down, and stay out of the issues. You won’t draw fire.

But you also won’t achieve much for your community. This is not a time for elected officials, our young people, or anyone to sit on the sidelines. We all must step up, get involved, and work for the best outcome for our students and our entire community.

Yes, it may get a bit bumpy. So it should. Schools are the heart of communities. We should care passionately about what happens in our schools, and to our schools. With passion, comes differing perspectives. Let’s welcome the discussion.


Central high school students and parents on the GO train to a demonstration in front of Queen’s Park.

Thank goodness our students are bold and bright and won’t be silenced. They showed courage in going public with their views and doing what they can to raise awareness to save their school. We should be celebrating these students, and encouraging all our young citizens to follow suit. These kids are embracing and acting on the privileges that come with living in a democracy. You make our community proud!

The final recommendation and decision by the trustees could be very different from the initial recommendation to close Central, close Pearson HS and make other program and boundary changes. It could be your school proposed to close instead.

Meed Ward H&S profileMarianne Meed Ward is the city Councillor for ward 2.  She is serving her second term on city council.  Central high school is located in ward 2.

Return to the Front page

AGB resident ceramist to hold her first solo exhibit - reception on Tuesday.

artsorange 100x100By Staff

January 2nd, 2017


Dawn Hackett-Burns is having her first solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The exhibit will be in the RBC Community Gallery and will run from January 3rd to the end of the month.

dawn-hacket-burnsHackett-Burns is the 2016/17 resident ceramic artist at the AGB where she has had access to a fully equipped that has allowed her to build a portfolio with diverse projects that support the Gallery’s programming.

The residency provides the artist with the opportunity to teach in community and studio programs, and to present new work in a solo exhibition in the RBC Community Gallery.

Dawn Hackett-Burns is described by the AGB as an emerging ceramic artist based in Greensville, Ontario. Mostly self-taught, she has honed her craft by attending workshops and receiving mentorship from ceramic artist Colleen O’Reilly. Her practice focuses on the use of pattern and repetition, and colours that speak to vibrant cultures observed in her travels.

The residency has allowed Hackett-Burns to explore different ideas and formats, and the work in this exhibition is a direct result of the residency.

The work presented in this exhibition is hand built and the patterning is elevated through low relief carving and hand-painted designs. Hackett-Burns has taught children’s classes at the Art Gallery of Burlington for the past eight years, and her teaching often intersects with her artistic practice.

The public reception is on Tuesday January 3, 6pm-8pm

Return to the Front page

Best words heard and reported on in 2016 - keep them in mind in October of 2018

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2017



One of the reasons we do what we do at the Gazette is to record what happens in the city. That doesn’t always result in our making a lot of friends – that isn’t our job.

At times it is tiring – Burlington has been poorly served by media in the past ten years – it doesn’t have a radio station, the one local television station tends to focus on Hamilton – its home base.  While there was a time when print was very evident in Burlington- that is not the case today.

In the five years plus we have been publishing, first as Our Burlington, then we re-branded and now use the name Gazette, we have listened to hundreds of citizens delegate to their city Councillor’s

News is news – at times it is fun to publish; on other occasions it is disappointing to report on what city council has decided to do or what an agency decides to do.

But there are times when ordinary people who care, who are passionate and have no self interest in what they are saying or writing comes to the attention of the public.

It was our pleasure to write about and report on what Tom Muir and Jim Young had to say during a debate on the amount of time citizens would be permitted to speak when addressing city council.  Their words were, without a doubt to this writer, the wisest words heard in the council chamber during 2016.  Something we could all be very proud of.

My colleague, Joan Little at the Spectator, described Tom Muir as “acerbic”. That would be about right.  Tom does his research and as he said in his delegation – he has been doing this for more than 20 years.

The issue before council was a motion to reduce the amount of time a citizen could spend delegating before a standing committee be reduced from 10 minutes to five minutes.

In November 2016  Muir said the following:

Muir making a point

Tom Muir: Acerbic for sure but still one of the best delegators the city has.

“I would hope that Council votes in favor of the 10 minutes unanimously, as a show of good faith. I will say that a vote to reduce to 5 minutes is something I see as an insult to citizens and their possible contribution to what we do as a city – our city.”

“Further, if Councillors still want to vote down the 10 minutes, I say this. If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit. I mean that, and will not forget how this vote goes tonight. “

“This Council is not your Council; it is the people’s Council.

“And these Council Chambers are not your Chambers, but are equally, the people’s Chambers. All the Councillors and Councils hold these offices and chambers in trust.

“So to vote to reduce the people’s time to speak in these chambers is to fail in that trust, in my opinion.

I ask therefore; herein fail not.”

No doubt what Muir was saying.

Jim Young, a man with a delightful Scottish brogue made his point very clearly. Jim was a little more philosophical but his words were no less pointed.

Jim Young

Jim Young – delegating to city council.

“When you deny constituents the reasonable opportunity to advise you during council term at meetings such as this, you leave them no other option but to voice their frustrations through the ballot box at election time.

Look at recent election results, where voters vented their frustration at the perception that politicians are not listening, do not provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, a perception that has given voice to the Fords, the Trumps and the Brexiteers who, bereft of policy or vision or even civil discourse, at least pretend to listen, pretend they will be the voice of the people.

Then proceed to undo all the good that has been done, the community that has been built by that slow and frustrating democratic process.

So far this delegation has taken about 5 minutes, and with more to say, I hope you can understand how limiting 5 minutes can be.

I will finish by challenging each of you who wish to limit the participation of citizens in the affairs of our city:

Will you please explain to this gathering tonight how limiting delegations to 5 minutes is good for our democracy, good for our city?

Will you then publish that explanation in your Newsletter for all your constituents to see and to judge for themselves?

Will you stand at your regular town hall gatherings and tell the people of your wards why you want to silence their voice?

Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

If you cannot, in conscience, address your constituents on this issue, then you have accept an amendment to rescind that decision and restore the full 10 minute allotment for citizen delegations, or better still do the right thing and propose such an amendment yourself.

The opportunity to listen to these two men and then report on what they had to say made all the trials and tribulations of the past few years’ worth every minute of it all.

Craven with gavel and papers

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven

Council voted 6-1 to maintain the 10 minute time allocation for delegations at Standing Committees. Councillor Craven was opposed.

The motion to limit the time to be available came out of a committee made up of Councillors Craven, Taylor and Lancaster. Craven is what he is; Lancaster doesn’t know any better, Taylor should be ashamed.

Return to the Front page

Burlington's Best nominations - an opportunity for the community to recognize those who have served.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2017



As a concept it is a really good idea.

Nominations for Burlington’s Best Awards come from the community and there have been some much deserved awards given in the past. There have some unfortunate choices when a husband nominated a wife or a Mother a son. The purpose was to have a community nominate one of their own.

For the most part the awards have been free from any political influence but there are political influencers on the committee that makes the choices. In the past there have been categories that didn’t draw much in the way of nominations.


The recipient of an award gets a unique plaque from the city along with a piece of art.

What the nominations committee has not done in our experience was decide not to make an award in a category and we don’t recall them ever retiring a category.  Accessibility was added as a category this year.

The ticket price could be a little lower; if not then give value for money and don’t let the buffet tables empty quite as quickly.

This is a social event where people who quietly serve their fellow citizens are recognized. There have been some who in the past were thickening their resumes for political purposes.

Nominations opened December 1 in eight award categories, including the new Accessibility Award. The winners in all categories are revealed at a celebration held in May each year.

There are eight award categories:

burlingtonbest-logoCitizen of the Year: A person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the Burlington community.

Junior Citizen of the year: A high school student 18 years or younger who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Senior Person of the year: A person 55 years or older who has advocated on behalf of seniors and/or made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Environmental Award: An individual or group that improved and/or protects Burlington’s environment.

Arts Person of the Year: An individual who has contributed to the arts in Burlington as an artist, patron or advocate including but not limited to, visual arts, media arts, musical arts, performing arts and literary arts.

Community Service Award: An individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community.

Heritage Award: An individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered their time in an effort to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage.

Accessibility Award (new category): An individual, organization or business that has made significant contributions to increase access and participation of people with disabilities in the Burlington community.


Winners of the 2015 Burlington Best awards

Nominations will be accepted until Feb. 17, 2017.

Nomination forms can be completed online at or by picking up a form at the clerks department at City Hall, 426 Brant St.


Mary Kay Aird, Chair; Burlington Best.

Members of the committee that evaluate the nominations are: Mary Kay Aird, Chair; Calah Brooks, vice chair; Keith Strong; Victor Lesnicki; Adam Smith; Ann Coburn; Matthew Cocklin; Sarah Dunsford and Vicki Singh.

Return to the Front page

Federal government pumps a little bit of money into Burlington's Canada 150 day events.

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2017



It was the place to be if you had kids with more energy than you had on this first day of th year 2017.
There were hundreds of kids running all over the place with almost every one of the rooms at Tansley Woods occupied with one children’s activity or another.

The occasion was used to announce what some of money the politicians were going to do with the tax money we gave them to look after our well being,


From the left Burlington MP Karina Gould, in the center Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville North Burlington and Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon who also serves as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sports for the province.

Burlington MP Karina Gould did most of the talking and reminded the audience that, January 1st, marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of our country’s Confederation.

The Government of Canada’s vision for the 150th anniversary centres upon four major key themes: diversity and inclusiveness, the environment, young people and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This anniversary is an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on our shared history, consider the path we have taken so far, while also looking to the future with optimism.

Gould announced that the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Halton District School Board and the city were to receive project funding.


Laura Martin – started the New Year painting faces.

The Canada 150 Fund, will provide $49,500 to the City of Burlington for its reaffirmation citizenship ceremony and the Art Gallery of Burlington Celebration Quilt.

The Government of Canada will also be providing $97,000 to the Halton District School Board for their Truth and Reconciliation project for their students.

The 150th anniversary of Canada is an opportunity to come together to celebrate our shared values, our achievements, our majestic environments and our place in the world. It is a time to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.


The city’s annual New Year’s Day event at Tansley Woods – hundreds of children scooting about the place.

Mayor Rick Goldring, Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Burlington, Robert Steven and Executive Director of the Sound of Music Festival, Dave Miller now have some of their funding for the year locked in.

The Canada Day citizenship ceremony should be a block buster.

Mayor Goldring told the small crowd that the city oversees or sponsors 168 events in the city each year.

The kids didn’t seem to care – they were scooting in and out of the small crowd listening to the politicians – they will be the ones to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the formal formation of this country – Canada.getting new - yellow

Return to the Front page

Rivers reviews the Obama presidencies; doesn't give him an A+.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 19th, 2017


America’s first black president. That is how Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered in the history books. His 2008 campaign logo, “Yes We Can”, was forgotten long ago. People might well ask what it really meant anyway.

Obama 1

The best orator the Western World has heard in decades.

It’s not that he was a bad president, like Nixon, the crook, or GW Bush, the war monger, or even Bill Clinton, the womanizer. Having achieved the highest honour the nation could bestow, he was someone to look-up to for his meteoric rise to power, particularly if the ones looking were non-white Americans.

Trump’s people called him an elite, and he was. He was consumed with the bigger picture, worried about the ins and outs and the every detail of everything he did. Analysis, vision and debate are his strengths. Articulate and a great speaker even if his speeches were dotted with enough pregnant pauses to start a new family. He’ll do well in academia and on the speaker circuit in days to come.

Obama, the idealist was also a compromiser, the art of the deal, something Trump should appreciate. Though history may disprove of his deals. His Obamacare was neither an efficient single payer system nor a purely private affair between an insurer and the patient. His was a costly compromise which will be axed, deservedly by the new administration.

President Bush meets in the Oval Office with Former President Jimmy Carter, Former President George H.W. Bush, Former President William J. Clinton, and the President-elect Sen. Barack Obama, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. ( (Doug Mills/ The New York Times)

President Bush meets in the Oval Office with Former President Jimmy Carter, Former President George H.W. Bush, Former President William J. Clinton, and the President-elect Sen. Barack Obama, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.  (Doug Mills/ The New York Times)

He settled for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in lieu of the destruction of its leader, and set up, for failure, the rebels he’d promised to support. In the interest of minimizing American casualties he fought the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen with drones or precision jet fighters and proxies, hurting but never really eliminating his enemies.

True enough, he succeeded in rescuing the US economy after the crash in 2008. And he got bin Laden. But he choked when it came to Russia, giving sway to that global lesser power in Syria and Ukraine. Having won the Nobel peace prize, in large part for his commitment to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, he should have made Ukraine a real red line.

Obama and trump

The expressions on their faces tells the story; there was no respect between these two men.

After all Ukraine, once with the third largest nuclear stockpile, gave up its weapons in exchange for written guarantees of security from the USA, UK and Russia, guarantees which were ignored by all the signatories following Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. In the face of that breach of trust why would any nation hesitate to develop its own nuclear defence arsenal, as North Korea has done?

There was the Paris climate change agreement which the US signed on, and on which Trump promises to white-out the words USA, once in office. And there was the multilateral Iran deal which Trump would like to re-negotiate but can’t – though everyone knows it is only a matter of time until Iran has its own nukes. And Cuba finally got formal diplomatic recognition, though GITMO is still operating and Guantanamo Bay is still occupied by the Americans, and the Cubans are wary that one day soon their little bit of progress will get Trumpled.

President Barack Obama receives a standing ovation from guests as he is introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

President Barack Obama receives a standing ovation from guests as he is introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

This relatively unimpressive record is reflected in his mixed popularity numbers. And in the end it’s hard to figure out what all the commotion was about, and why the celebrities loved him. But then, how many US presidents were really that much better? Maybe the problem is that being head of state and head of government is too big a job for one person – the imperfect American political system. Or maybe his heart wasn’t really in it after all – to be the leader of the free world.

They say it’s hard to turn around a big ship in a short water, but eight years in office is still a long time. Did he just give up convincing the Republicans and so many Americans of the wisdom of his ways, particularly after he lost Congress mid-way though his first term? That was perhaps his biggest failure – his inability to get people to share his vision, be they the Congressional Republicans, the Russians and Chinese or even the Israeli leadership which, despite its unveiled acrimony, will be receiving its largest US aid package ever under Obama.

Finally having helped elect one of their own, what did black Americans get out of this contract? To be fair Obama only ever promised to lift ethnic minorities with the same wave that lifted all the ships in the good fleet America. Still, today with a near booming economy, home ownership is on the decline generally and black ownership has fallen from 46% in 2009 to 43% 2014.

The poverty rate for blacks is 26% and fewer than half young black men have full time jobs, though unemployment has fallen to pre-2008 levels. But the median ethnic minority family’s income, at $18,100, is 20% lower than when Obama took office. At the same time national median wealth has increased by 1% to $142,000. And while white households were 7 times wealthier than black households back then, they are now 8 times richer.

Obama and Michelle

Michelle and Barack changed the way the world saw Presidential couple; she added to the Jackie legacy.

At the least one would have expected America’s first black president to have made an effort to raise the standard of living of those in need who share his minority status. Or was ‘Yes We Can’ just about winning the election. I’ll be expecting a better performance from Michelle Obama after she wins the presidential campaign in 2020. It should be an easy win in light of the upcoming Trump legacy.

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

Obama and African Americans –   Obama and Syria –     Obama and Drones –

Obama Foreign Policy –

Obama’s Popularity –

Return to the Front page

Will the future of Bronte Meadows become any clearer in 2017?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2016



It is a large piece of land that you drive by when you head for the Convention centre on Burloak – you pass it without realizing just how big it is.

Owned by the Paletta organization and zoned as “employment lands” the Paletta’s have wanted to convert it to residential for some time.

That doesn’t look as if it will ever happen.

The city planners describe the land as a “large, contiguous and un-serviced area of vacant employment lands that represents a significant and irreplaceable opportunity in the city and its citizens.


Bounded by Upper Middle Road on the north, Bronte Road on the east and Mainway on the south this xxx ha piece of property holds significant potential for the city – but no one has yet been able to put together an organization or an institution that wants to locate in Burlington.

“The site has the potential to be a candidate site for a major employer or large educational institution. A city-wide strategy should be initiated to attract a major employer and/or another post-secondary institution to the city, consistent with the Strategic Plan.”

The planners point out that there are “a number of strategic locations within the inventory which require municipal services and more detailed land use planning” including Bronte Creek Meadows. The study also noted that these large parcels of land should be the focus of future land use and infrastructure planning.

5164 Upper Middle Road; 5366 Upper Middle Road; 5470 Upper Middle Road; 5900 Upper Middle Road; and 5201 Mainway collectively are known as Bronte Meadows.

Paletta International Corporation (PIC) applied to amend the lands from “Office/Business Park” to “Land Use to be Determined”. That application was refused by the City. Paletta appealed to the OMB to be determined at the same time as PIC’s outstanding appeals of Official Plan Amendment.

The Bronte Creek Meadows constitutes about 40% of the vacant employment land supply (125 ha/308 ha) and 51% of the effective net supply in the entire City (125 ha/248.3 ha).

In 2009, through Minutes of Settlement the City and PIC agreed to identify a portion of the total lands (approximately 88 acres or 35 ha) to be called Burloak Employment Estates. This portion of the land can be described generally as the land abutting Burloak Drive (generally north of Mainway, west of Burloak, south of Upper Middle and bounded to the west by the proposed realignment of Sheldon Creek). The Minutes of Settlement detailed that PIC would withdraw its appeals related to an Official Plan Amendment and not appeal that portion of the site through OPA 73.

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquelle (Pat) Paletta

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquelle (Pat) Paletta

The Minutes of Settlement further described that PIC would actively market the lands for a period of at least 5 years. The Minutes of Settlement set out requirements for a sign on the site, disclosure to, and discussions with BEDC. The five year time period has elapsed.

The employment land conversion assessment (Burlington Employment Lands Policy Recommendations and Conversion Analysis report) analysis recommended that Bronte Creek Meadows be retained as employment land. Staff support this recommendation.

Since the writing of the 2015 report the Region of Halton commissioned a servicing study based on servicing for employment uses, for Bronte Creek Meadows. The study is currently in draft form. The preliminary findings suggest that there are no major barriers to servicing this area.

Proposed Direction from the planners is that the city should initiate an area specific plan in the near term. Partnership with the owner of the property to develop the land for employment uses will be an important element related to moving forward.


The Paletta organization is diversified and into food processing and entertainment. They are beleived to be the largest private land holder in the city. Five years ago they had a Christmas Day meeting with then newly elected Mayor Rick Goldring with a proposal to locate a stadium that would be home to the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Aldershot. That idea died an early death.

Efforts will be made to understand the potential of these lands to support the Strategic Plan of the city.
Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman has said he thought the lands should be a combination of employment lands with some residential permitted.

The struggle between the owners of the largest piece of employment land in the city and the city planners has been an ongoing for many years.

No one has come to the city with an interest in putting a large corporate operation on the site despite its close proximity to both the QEW and the 407.

Zoned commercial, spitting distance to the QEW, minutes from downtown - owner wants to rezone and make it residential.

Bronte Meadows from the Mainway side. Defined as Employments Lands, spitting distance to the QEW, minutes from downtown – owners would like to see some of it converted to residential. wants to rezone and make it residential.

In land development it is all about timing. While the general public perception is that developers reap huge profits from development few appreciate that the Paletta’s have carried this property for some time paying taxes and significant legal fees.

The Economic Development Corporation has not been able to market the property – one observer has said that the price Paletta is asking for the property relates to residential development. It is pretty clear at this point in time that the city is determined to retain the employment land purpose. It is a splendid piece of property but no one knows what to do with it from an employment aspect.

Return to the Front page