Council unable to agree on a budget for 2022 - returning next Thursday to have another go at it

By Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2021



Members of City Council met for two very full days and were expected to adjourn yesterday with a recommendation that would go to a Council meeting on the 14th at which the 2022 budget would be cast in stone.

It didn’t work out that way.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward during the 2022 budget debates.

When the Standing committee recessed yesterday, Thursday, they were able to whittle the Staff proposed tax increase down from 5.45% to 4.95% which wasn’t what they Mayor had in mind.

Mayor Meed Ward wanted a lower number and she wanted council to agree on a number.  The seven members of Councillors were not able to agree on that – worse they were not able to agree on what the recommendation would be.

In order for a recommendation to go to Council there had to be a majority of Councillors voting for it.

The four votes just weren’t there.

Council was stuck – unable to recommend a budget that Council could approve.

Budget Chair Rory Nisan

They figured out a way to recess the budget meeting and return on Thursday December 9th, hoping by that point they would have found the four votes needed to send a recommended budget to Council.  At the close of the meeting – there were just three votes for sending a recommendation to Council.

In Burlington all the heavy debates take place at Standing Committees where they do not make decisions – they make recommendations which are sent to Council where the decision is made.

When things get messy at Standing Committee  meetings they get procedural with amendments, points of order, points of personal privilege and challenges to the Chair.

In a follow up story we will tell what took place; what individual council members wanted and didn’t want and how the Mayor and the Chair of the budget committee wiggled and squirmed to get the result they wanted.

Rory Nisan, Ward 3 Councillor and Chair of the Budget explained his position: “As Chair of the Budget Committee I want to save the budget”.

Several members of Council didn’t think that was his job.

Return to the Front page

Mayor chooses not to support budget in Standing Committee

By Pepper Parr

December 2, 2021



A council Standing Committee completed their review of the 2022 budget Staff submitted and did manage to slim it down from 5.45% over last year to a 4.95% increase over last year.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – looking for a way to get a better budget number – 2022 is an election year.

But the Mayor isn’t happy and said she would not support the budget at this point. Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte took the same position while Councillor Sharman said he was Ok with the increase – saw it as responsible.

Councillor Bentivegna was disappointed that most of his change suggestions didn’t win the support he needed but he was going to live with what was on the table.

Councillor Kearns was impressed with the Committee’s fiscal prudence and Councillor Galbraith was pleased that Council chose to rip the band aid off and put up with the immediate pain rather than continue to kick the can down the path and let a future council deal with the problems.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

And problems there were – mostly on the Staffing side with some members of Council wanting to limit salary increase while others wanted to reduce staff.

There was a lot of juggling numbers around; taking dollars from the Queensway area Park and letting the downtown Dog Off leach Park group use the funds so they could get their initiative moving forward.

The only true winner was ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman who convinced council to fund the paving of a path in Mohawk Park that serves two schools and a church.  He was ready to approve the budget.

The Mayor has a reputation staked on a lower tax increase – she has about ten days to pull a couple of rabbits out of a hat.

The difficulty appears to be that the Standing Committee may not be able to send a recommendation to Council that approves a budget.  That creates a very tricky procedural problem.

It all comes before Council on December 14th.

No wonder he was so happy.


Return to the Front page

Are there grounds for dismissing the City Clerk?

By Pepper Parr

December 2nd, 2021



In the municipal world the Clerk used to reign supreme.

The person holding the office had years of experience and understood the needs of the people and knew both the strengths and weaknesses of Staff.

Like most things, the administrative needs grew and people with better educations and stronger administrative skills began to be hired and grew into becoming CAO’s or City Managers.

Kevin Arjoon came to Burlington from Halifax

The position of Clerk remained: bylaws require the signature of the both the Mayor and the Clerk before they can be declared.

When a new Clerk is hired the first task for the new hire is to get the lay of the land: what exists in the way of staff; get to know the members of Council; take a hard look at what there is in the way of Governance policies and scour the outstanding Staff Directions.

Staff Directions are documents that instruct staff to perform specific tasks and report back to Council.

They are debated at Council meetings, written into the minutes and with web casts, now archived, are available to the public.

To say the 2018 Staff Direction related to the issuing of taxi licenses was lost is (a) not true, (b) rank incompetence and (c) a sign of some pretty deep rot somewhere in city hall.

Kevin Arjoon, current city Clerk.

When a Staff Direction doesn’t get followed up on, it can lead directly into the hearts of the lives of people.

The lack of a taxi service limits in an often severe way the way some people live their lives.

This isn’t the place to dissect those instances.

This is the place to ask the current Mayor and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman what they have to say about the Staff Direction that can’t be found.

Both have been on Council since October 2010 and were in the room when the Staff Direction was created and voted upon.

Time for a heart to heart talk involving the Mayor, Councillor Sharman and the City manager about what to do about the current Clerk.  This one can’t be blamed on City Manager Tim Commisso, he wasn’t an employee in 2018.  However, he did hire the current Clerk.

Some feel there are grounds for dismissal.

What is not acceptable is the cover up that appears to be taking place.

There is a very competent Deputy Clerk in place – a staff position Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wanted to get rid of to save about $150,000, but that’s another story.

Related new stories

New city Clerk

Managing an at times fractious council

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Are the Canal piers going to be gated? Might happen

By Staff

December 1st, 2021



The piers that line the canal leading from Lake Ontario into Hamilton Harbour may be gated in the very near future.

Transport Canada will use gates to close the popular Burlington shipping canal piers to pedestrians in December: both Hamilton and Burlington are putting up a fight.

A fleet of tall ships sailed through the canals in June of 2013. At least 1000 people were on hand to watch the passage.

The federal agency angered local residents last year by threatening to ban the public from the pair of 321-metre-long piers that usher ships into Hamilton Harbour and serve as popular walking paths into the lake. Public pressure and Advocacy from former MP Bob Bratina resulted in a  closure “pause” last year to allow talks with Burlington and Hamilton.

Gates are in position – just waiting for someone to put the lock in place.

But residents watched nervously this month as three new swing gates were installed to block entrance to the piers from the waterfront trail. Transport Canada confirmed it will begin “restricting access” ahead of winter conditions, but added future recreational use is still up for negotiation.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said Friday cities on both sides of the canal would consider taking responsibility for pier maintenance and controlling access in dangerous weather — if the federal government first pays to make the crumbling concrete safe.

That could cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to the low millions.

“We certainly expect that the federal government will make those investments,” said Eisenberger. “I imagine it’s not a small investment, but certainly not in the tens of millions of dollars, either.”

Related news story

Return to the Front page

Vanderwal given Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence

By Staff

December 1st, 2021



Christine Vanderwal, an Itinerant Resource Teacher with the Halton District School Board, has received a prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence (Certificate of Achievement). She was nominated for her role as a teacher in Viola Desmond Public School in Milton in the 2020-2021 school year.

Christine Vanderwal, an Itinerant Resource Teacher at the Viola Desmond Public School in Milton in the 2020-2021 school year.

In receiving her award, Vanderwal is recognized for her teaching approach that incorporates a wide range of learning tools, creates an inclusive classroom where students feel their culture and identity is valued, and uses various technology methods such as photography, animation and stop motion to engage and motivate students.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence nomination said: “(Christine) begins every year with a focus on building authentic connections among all members of the class, including herself. This starts with an exploration of identity, as individuals and as a community, with engaging discussions and activities that allow every learner to share their perspectives and ideas, as well as their personal uniqueness and culture. She integrates concepts of Design Thinking and Knowledge Building using technology, art and drama to explore the topics that matter including Indigenous issues and human rights.”

Upon learning of her nomination, Vanderwal expressed her gratitude to her colleagues who nominated her. “I want to thank colleagues Pieter Toth and Matt Coleman who put together such a thoughtful nomination package, and I am honoured that so many people, whom I deeply respect, contributed such meaningful words on my behalf,” Vanderwal says. “It is humbling to be included amongst such wonderful educators. I also want to thank the students who I have had the pleasure of learning alongside throughout my career. It is from them that I have learned the most. It is a privilege to be an educator, and my greatest joy is to work in a community alongside young people, empowering them to use their voices, uncover their gifts and explore their passions.”

“We are so proud that an HDSB educator has been honoured with the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “Christine embodies the Board’s values by ensuring her students are learning in an environment dedicated to equity, collaboration and inclusion while focused on 21st century learning. It is wonderful to see our staff implementing the important elements of our 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan where students will learn from, grow with, and inspire each other. We congratulate Christine on this prestigious award.”


Return to the Front page

Rivers: The Apple and the Tree - one tends not to fall very far from the other.

By Ray Rivers

December 1st, 2021



“The premier thinks the road to recovery from COVID-19 is paving over paradise,” – Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner

How far from the tree has this apple fallen?

Brian Mulroney can’t be happy. He was once proclaimed Canada’s greenest prime minister. And here his own daughter Carolyn Mulroney, as Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, is opening up the province for even more environmentally unsustainable and costly urban sprawl.

It was bad enough that as former provincial attorney general she declared war on the federal government’s carbon tax, widely considered one of the most efficient ways to lower society’s carbon footprint. But now she has begun paving over parts of Ontario’s greenbelt with even more highways.

The new 413 highway would be 59 km long and would take up over 400 acres of the Greenbelt and more than 2,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland – among Ontario’s most productive farmland. Impacts include cutting through 85 waterways, damaging 220 wetlands and disrupting the habitats of 10 species-at-risk. And the kicker – it is estimated to cause over 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 resulting in more than $1.4 billion in damages from that pollution.

Justification for this highway has never been made – is there one?

The previous government had convened an expert panel which ended up dismissing the 413 concept on the basis that it would save the average commuter only 30-60 seconds, less than a minute, in commute times. In fact this highway, estimated conservatively at around $10 billion would mostly serve drivers wanting to get up to their cottages. And the government is claiming it’ll also be toll free for them.

Doug Ford has made new highways the centre piece of his campaign for re-election as premier of Ontario. A second highway, the Bradford Bypass, joining highways 400 and 404 and running through the heart of Ontario’s primary market growing land has already started accepting bids for construction.

The province estimates that some drivers could save as much as 35 minutes using this bypass, but again that would largely be people travelling into cottage country. If built, its four lanes would cut through 27 waterways, nearly 11 hectares of sensitive wetlands and the Holland Marsh, a region of the protected Greenbelt nicknamed “Ontario’s vegetable patch” for its fertile soil.

But even as the Premier is planning a new highway, a current high capacity highway, designed specifically for commuters in the GTA’s urban sprawl is sitting nearly empty given its capacity. The contract with highway 407 allows for the company to raise its tolls whenever traffic reaches a pre-determined threshold – something it has done repeatedly. The reverse also applies – that tolls should come down when usage falls.

How come the toll rates never come down?

But for the last two years traffic on the 407 has been considerably below levels to justify the high tolls they are charging. So under its contract, the 407 should have been fined a billion dollars. But the government has given 407 a free pass, a get out of jail card. 407 is not even required to lower the tolls to match traffic volumes. It was like an officer stopping you driving 140 kms in a 40 km school zone and telling you to be careful.

Mr, Ford complains about traffic congestion for daily commuters. Make no mistake, the single best way to reduce that traffic congestion on the 401 would be lower tolls on Hwy 407. Why build another highway way the heck out in farm country that will also sit mostly empty?

So why is the government so determined to build these new roads? Well the Toronto Star and Canada’s National Observer have identified a good reason. Their investigation found over 3,000 acres of prime real estate near the proposed route that is owned by large developers and would be expected to increase dramatically in value. Five of these developers have close ties to Premier Ford’s government including one who was the chair of Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign.

And it only gets juicier when it appears that Minister Mulroney’s office got its hands dirty redirecting the highway Bradford Bypass highway routing away from the second, third and 11th holes of a golf course owned by the father of another Conservative MPP.

Golf course locations appear to be a determining factor in highway locations.

The federal government has claimed that it will intervene with its own environmental assessment (EA) of the Hwy 413, because the Ford government had virtually disassembled and gutted Ontario’s EA process after taking power. The feds have not yet said they will require an EA for the bypass, however, though the current assessment is stale dated, having been undertaken some twenty years ago.

And it’s not just environmental assessments that have been subject to Mr. Ford’s my way or the highway management philosophy. Doug Ford has issued 57 MZOs, more than triple the number that the last Liberal government issued over its 15 years in power. He has expanded his powers three times and has bulldozed his pet developments over the rulings and wishes of local municipalities, the Greenbelt and conservation authorities.

The Auditor-General, Bonnie Lysyk, in a recent report noted that the province is failing to protect wildlife from developers and resource industries, and that the Environment Ministry is “essentially facilitating development rather than protecting species at risk.” Building another highway will just add to the toll of killed and injured wildlife. According to one study, today there are an estimated 14,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions a year – 5 to 10 per cent of all accidents in the province.

In that part of the world this might be seen as an election sign.

When Carolyn Mulroney told the world that she had decided to relocate to Ontario and enter provincial politics there was a sense of optimism in the air. After the dirty tricks the party had engaged in to politically assassinate their former leader, Patrick Brown, a fresh face and mind would be welcome in Ontario’s traditional ruling party.

But that was not to be. While she and her dad may differ on the environment and climate change, they share a passion for political favouritism and its dirty laundry. A two-year inquiry into Brian Mulroney’s dealings with German-Canadian arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber concluded that the former prime minister acted in an “inappropriate” way when he accepted large amounts of cash from Schreiber. According to the judge, Mulroney had “failed to live up to the standard of conduct that he himself adopted in the 1985 ethics code.”

Carolyn Mulroney hasn’t been caught with her hands in the till yet, but her role in building highways to the benefit, primarily, of her development friends and political colleagues doesn’t look good on her. She’ll never be seen as an environmental steward, as her father was, but when it comes to the darker side of politics, it’s what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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


Background links:

Mulroney Honoured –   Hwy 413 –   Bradford By-Pass –   407 Free Pass

Developer Friends –   AG’s report –   Wildlife and Road Traffic-

Mulroney – a different view 

Return to the Front page

Gyms, Rinks, and Community Rooms for rent this holiday season

By Staff

December 1st, 2021



City of Burlington is offering special rates for rentals of gyms, ice rinks and community rooms from now until January 2nd, 2022.

. Residents can book space for 60 or 90-minute intervals at a variety of locations across the city. This presents a great opportunity for families to be active together in a safe, controlled environment over the month of December.

Rentals can be made 48-hours or more in advance. All bookings can be done through

  • Gym rentals are available at Tansley Woods Community Centre and Haber Community Centre for $28.90. Rental includes exclusive use of the gym and basketball nets and soccer nets. Renters must bring their own equipment.
  • Ice rink rentals are available at Appleby Ice Centre, Mainway Ice Centre and Mountainside Arena for $139.64. Rentals include exclusive use of the rink, hockey nets and skate aids. Renters must bring all other equipment.
  • Community room rentals are available at Tansley Woods Community Centre, Mountainside Community Centre and Haber Community Centre for $25. Rental includes two tables, 10 chairs. Renters must bring any other equipment they need such as crafts, fitness items or games. Sport balls or large sport equipment are not allowed in community rooms.

A steal of a deal at less than 30 bucks an hour.

All COVID-19 precautions and restrictions apply.

For more information, including booking and payments, visit

Return to the Front page

Legislative and legal challenges made it impossible to find a solution to the taxi problem

By Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2021



People at city hall don’t set out to hurt people.  Mistakes get made and the people who made the mistake, for the most part, set out to correct the error.

Some mistakes leave scars and diminish people who are already struggling to keep their heads above water.

The number of people going to food banks has risen: 300,000 households in Ontario made the trip this year.

The Food Bank can deliver some of the food needed – but not all of it.

The Burlington Food Bank is able to deliver food to many of the households that need help.

No one broadcasts that they need help feeding their families; while it is not something one should be ashamed of – there is a sense of shame for those on any form of public welfare.

Several of the churches in Burlington had a system that let them give families with no transportation a taxi chit that let them get to the food bank.

Now there is no taxi service and I personally doubt there will be one for something in the order of 100 days.  The “significant legislative and legal challenges”  made it impossible.

Those “legislative and legal challenges need to be replaced by “whatever it takes”. That is what makes a city great.

These mistakes cannot and should never be looked upon as a “learning opportunity”; a phrase that has achieved some currency at the Council table.

The apology from the City Manager just isn’t enough.

Related news story.

Councillor explains.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.




Return to the Front page

Liberals would kill the issuing of MZO's - that doesn't come as a surprise.

By Staff

November 30th, 2021



With the provincial election more ta six months away – the political parties are getting serious and beginning to jockey for position.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford – has always been business focused.

The Liberals to say announced they would scrap the Ministerial Zoning Orders to Progressive Conservative government has used to permit development that municipalities may not want.

The Liberal media release, released this morning said: “Under the cover of a pandemic, Doug Ford has been abusing his powers and recklessly using MZOs to push through a list of rewards for his rich buddies over environmentally-sensitive land.

“Today, Ontario Liberals are releasing their plan to eliminate MZOs and bring in strict rules to ban Doug Ford’s abuses of power.

“Doug Ford has weaponized MZOs and is abusing his power to attack our environment and reward the well-connected few,” stated Ontario Liberal Leader, Steven Del Duca. “Ontario Liberals will scrap MZOs and bring in strict rules to protect our environment while responsibly building communities.”

Ontario Liberal Leader, Steven Del Duca. does not have a seat in the provincial legislature. He was Minister of Transportation in the last Liberal government.

Ontario Liberals would only allow fast-tracking of critical provincial projects, like affordable housing, employment lands/projects, and not-for-profit nursing homes to provide better care for our loved ones in communities across Ontario, or expansions to protected greenspace. Ontario Liberals would also add transparency measures, like required consultations and judicial reviews, to make sure projects respect environmental protections and aren’t being recklessly forced on communities like Doug Ford is doing now. The government would no longer be able to steamroll local communities to force through rewards for well-connected friends.

In just over three years, Doug Ford has issued 57 MZOs — more than triple the number that the last Liberal government issued over 15 years, and he expanded his powers three times. Ontario Liberals would give that power back to communities, making sure they are consulted on any critical projects the government advances.

“We desperately need to build more housing in Ontario,” added Del Duca. “Today’s announcement is about building more affordable housing, not-for-profit nursing homes, and creating jobs without attacking our environment. It’s about sustainable growth to build a better future for all of us.”



Return to the Front page

Sharman wants to defer a $3 million transit item to take some weight off tax payers shoulders

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021



Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.

Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman looks to transit deferrals to skim more than $3 million from the budget Staff has put before Council.

Keeps a community project in – voters like that kind of thing.

Gone are the days when Councillor Sharman would push hard enough to get a 0% budget increase.

1) Defer by one year the proposed 2022 conventional transit vehicle replacement in the amount of $3,382,000 and retain gas tax funds to partially offset $30m shortfall in annual capital funding.

2) Add funds to tree planting to achieve desired urban forest renewal $100,000

3) Add funds to pave gravel path in Mohawk Park $60,000

4) Remove all 2022 operating budget gapping from new staff positions such as was the case in 2021 along with any other expected un-utilized expenses $190,000 for personnel plus any other expense items.

1) recent review of infrastructure identified that infrastructure renewal funding gap is much larger than the $126m determined in 2016 and is in fact $512m. It is estimated that annual shortfall since 2016 has been about $30m, or about $150m in the 5 years leading up to 2022.

Meanwhile, transit ridership is well below planned/hoped for levels due to Covid and perhaps over optimistic projections to meet long term modal split goals. Keeping buses an additional year over assumed 12-year life span is a viable modest extension given the relatively light ridership utilization generally made more so during Covid years in Burlington.

2) To better support objectives of private tree by-law in increasing urban tree canopy by providing $100,000 to be funded by reducing overhead in item 2 above.

A $60,000 goody for the community

3) The path is used by many parents of young children attending both Mohawk Gardens Public School and St Patrick Catholic Elementary School. During inclement weather the path becomes impassible due to flooding and ice.

4) Partially offset 2022 prior and pending impacts of council decisions $885,666

Outcome Sought:

2022 Budget adjustment

Return to the Front page

Nisan wants specific one year staff cuts to the 2022 budget

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021



Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increases and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.

Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wants to direct staff to reduce the budget by removing the following items:

Dedicated operations space for building/bylaw ($110k)
Remove BI (Business information)position ($114k)

Remove bus cleaning/maintain status quo with external contractors ($223k)

Remove committee services, deputy clerk position ($157k)

Manager, total rewards and analytics ($157k)

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wants to use staff cuts to keep the tax levy down.

Overall rationale:
With COVID-19’s economic impacts, council needs to be more careful than ever in balancing costs for our taxpayers and mitigating organizational risk. The following projects very narrowly weigh towards delays and temporary de-prioritization to provide tax relief for 2022.

Dedicated operations space for building/bylaw ($110k)
I would like this request to be brought forward again for 2023.

Remove BI position ($114k)
I would like this position to be brought forward again for 2023 budget.

Remove bus cleaning/maintain status quo with external contractors ($223k)

I would like this request to be brought forward again for 2023. With lower use of buses at present, we can manage the risk of an inferior outcome in terms of cleanliness for 2022.

Remove clerk position ($157k)
I would like the city manager to seek short term internal support, internal re-assignment, one-time contracting and/or external contracts for projects to mitigate risk. I would like the position to be brought forward again in 2023.

Manager, total rewards and analytics ($157k)
I would like to see this position brought forward in 2023 and if needed that there be internal reorganization and prioritization.

Outcome Sought:
Budget approval.

Return to the Front page

Galbraith budget motion memorandum sparse - which is putting it mildly




By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021



Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.
Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelven Galbraith frequently cuts to the chase – his response to a budget that has many more than concerned, is brief to the point of being irresponsible.

Any aspirations Galbraith had to be elected Mayor went out the window with his budget reduction response.

Galbraith tends to align himself with the Mayor who, along with Councillor Nisan, creates a block of three votes on a seven member council.  Not enough to hold court.

The people of Aldershot voted for what they thought was an experienced business person who was tuned into the needs of the community.

None of those attributes appear in his budget memorandum.

In his memorandum the Councillor asks his colleagues:

I would like to explore the deferral of purchasing 2 of the 4 buses as our transit usage has been much less than expected during COVID19. The costs of adding the drivers, staff and maintenance follows the adding of buses to our fleets which is driving our budget increase.

With regards to the bylaw officers located within Aldershot arena, I am comfortable with them staying there for the foreseeable future. It was suggested that the room was needed for community use but I do not anticipate demand for this room for a few years.
Outcome Sought:
7 votes in favour.
Does Galbraith no longer want the job of ward councillor?

Return to the Front page

Councillor Bentivegna knows where the re-election sweet spot is - pushes for $2 1/4 million in budget cuts

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021



Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.
Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna wants his colleagues to consider removing a number of items from the 2022 Budget.

He has declared his intention to run for office again in 2022. There is at least one rural resident considering a run at the council seat.

Bentivegna has figured out how he can get re-elected.

Maintaining Assets in Recreation Services to meet lifecycle requirements and reduce risk -$100,000

Stabilizing Management Structures and Managing Risk – $585,000 (4 full time staff).

Operationalization of the Bus Cleaning Pilot -$223,000 (7.6 FTE).

Dedicated space for Building Inspection and By-law – $110,000

Gypsy Moth Control Program – $110,000 (one-time)


Not big on overtime pay – likes salary reductions as well – wants to share the pain – speaks for the small business sector

Consideration to reduce Non-union HR increases in the 2022 Budget from 3% to 2% – $640,000

Consideration to reduce Overtime costs estimated at $1,745,517 by 30% from the 2022 Budget resulting in a savings of $523,655.

Consideration to remove tax funding from the 2022 Budget and move to Covid budget:

Additional By-law Enforcement Officers – $232,000 (one-time)

Free Transit for Seniors -$95,000

Rational for reducing impacts of the 2022 budget.

This global pandemic over the last 21 months has had many residents experience financial hardship. The economic impact has caused many families see declines to their household incomes. We have heard repeatedly through our committee Covid updates the result of unfavorable cash flows in our city and residents and businesses needing some type of financial assistance.

Many businesses have reported losses of upwards to 70% and some have shut down.

My experience in discussions with residents and having read the budget survey comments provided to Committee emphasizes the need to take a hard look at reducing this proposed budget increase of 5.45%.

Outcome Sought:
Reduction of $2,276,655 of on-going costs and $342,000 of city one-time costs.

Bentivegna has positioned himself as the voice of the small business operator.  Ward 6 has a significant number of rural residents who seem to have been forgotten in his budget reducing requests.

Spoke for the the small independent sector

Pushing for a two and a quarter million dollar reduction is a stretch – it will be interesting to see how his council colleagues respond.

Even if he doesn’t get support on any of his suggestions – he will come out of it as the Councillor who wants smaller tax increases.

Bentivegna has figured out what the public wants to hear in an election year.

Return to the Front page

No prom, no graduation ceremony - life for Covid19 high school students

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

November 26th, 2021



In March 2020 high school halls across Burlington looked surreal. The last day of school is often a celebration. Emptying exam rooms are littered with crumpled cheat sheets, short-hand notes for lessons already forgotten, while laughter echoes through the halls. Kids slam their faded blue locker doors and storm from the building, headed for long summers that for them seem short.

In March 2020, there was no such exodus. One day they were there, the next they were gone, it was like a vanishing act.

What followed was an on-the-fly rethinking of how high school education could be handled from a distance. Confusion, isolation, lack of motivation, lost friends, and missed events followed.

I spoke to Burlington high school students to get their take on the educational and social ramifications of education during COVID-19.

Many Burlington students reported in the immediate aftermath of March 2020 lockdowns, on how high schools operated with grade freezes and asynchronous learning.

The grade freeze meant whatever mark a student entered COVID-19 with in the spring semester of 2020 couldn’t go down. Asynchronous learning means students were given access to pre-recorded lectures, assignments, or notes and asked to go through the material independently. Some students didn’t even speak to teachers for the remainder of the 2020 spring term.

Matthew, a grade 10 student at Notre Dame High School, completed grade 9 under those difficult circumstances. He noted the grade freeze coupled with the asynchronous approach made it difficult for many students to find motivation. For his part, Matthew completed his work, determined not to be behind when things got back to normal.

When school resumed in September of 2020, and it was clear the pandemic was going nowhere, the students and teachers had a more open dialogue.

“When we started back up some teachers kind of opened up about how hard it had been for them to teach online. And they kind of understood where we were at; that we were kind of losing our entire high school experience, that things kind of suck,” said Matthew. “They made us feel like we’re not alone, we’re all in the same boat, we’re all going through the same thing.”

A grade 10 Burlington student, Sam, also found it difficult to focus, and the lack of in-person communication with his teachers made it hard to get help from them when required.

“They made us feel like we’re not alone, we’re all in the same boat, we’re all going through the same thing.”

“Returning to the classroom was way better. I was happier, less stressed. I was able to do my work. Online I’d get behind and not be able to catch up,” said Sam.

Sam talked about getting to see his friends in-person, not just over a screen. The loss of social activities was echoed by every student who spoke to the Gazette.

Matthew talked about the social elements of school and how they motivated him educationally. Matthew was involved in several arts through ballet, theatre, and piano, and struggled when the structure of his routine was taken away.

“I lost quite a lot. I just lost every sort of outlet, it felt empty. But I tried doing more stuff, the theater companies I worked with were doing online classes but that just didn’t feel the same because you couldn’t really interact with anyone on Zoom. It was just kind of awkward,” said Matthew.

The pandemic impacted students at all different stages of learning, for Matthew and Sam their high school careers were turned upside down early on. Other students, like Stephanie, now in post-secondary school, who was in grade 12 in March 2020 lost the ending of their time in high school.

“I was really upset when I learned that not only the prom wasn’t happening anymore, but graduation wasn’t happening either. I didn’t even get graduation online. I was so excited that I made it on the honor roll, and I got these achievements from school that I couldn’t even really show off to my family,” said Stephanie.

“I was really upset when I learned that not only the prom wasn’t happening anymore, but graduation wasn’t happening either.

Perhaps too much pressure is placed on moments like prom and high school graduation to be defining for young people but they surely are for some. Those of us who lived them will probably say they weren’t as big a deal as the movies made them out. Most proms are stilted affairs defined by awkward flirtation and decisions that would make you cringe as an adult, memories that might creep up on you like an uncomfortable itch. Graduations are rarely American Graffiti, instead students conglomerate to sit overdressed and overheating for an overlong affair while names are called to receive a diploma you’ll bury somewhere and never look at again.

But the class of 2020 will live on as the group who never got to find that out the hard way. Instead, it exists as a tantalizing “what if?” Stephanie reflected on losing those potentially pivotal moments and worse still a growing distance among friends.

“My friends and I missed out on a lot in our senior year, and maybe it was just because we went our separate ways after high school, but I do blame the pandemic a bit for the reason my friends and I lost touch,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie reflected on how her experience with education during the pandemic influenced her decision to go onto post-secondary school knowing the socially distanced format would, for a time, carry on.

“I was so used to being away from the classroom environment that I think I went back into my introverted habits. I liked to be alone and I think I even ended up liking the idea of getting my college degree online. I think if I wasn’t so used to doing online school I would have preferred to be in a physical college class.

I think there are some positive and negative aspects to doing online college courses, for me at least. I live two hours away from my college so I’m happy I’m able to learn online, but at the same time, I’ll never be able to form great friendships with my classmates or my professors.”

Other students who spoke to the Gazette echoed similar concerns, a lack of connection and confusion occupied the forefront of young people’s experiences.

Young people have been susceptible to education struggles and increases in anxiety and depression throughout the pandemic and it’s not hard to see why from the first hand accounts of their learning experiences. The academic and social elements lost may be irreplaceable. These students are members of the first generation who will have little to no memory of a world without smartphones, they have to contend with access to often-toxic social media since their childhood.

The academic and social elements lost may be irreplaceable.

Concerns existed before the pandemic about a potential deficit in face to face communication, an uptick in isolation, and poor mental health.

These concerns are surely exacerbated by the uneven and lonely experience that was high school during COVID-19.

Return to the Front page

City looking for a way to save a taxi service - why is it taking so long?

By Staff

November 25th, 2021



Most people have heard about the decision Burlington Taxi made to close their doors and their taxi service service effective Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 at 5 p.m.

City manager Tim Commisso, in a statement he released this morning, said: “Staff has been working on amendments to the bylaw to facilitate the temporary transition to another taxi service and will present this to Burlington City Council at the earliest opportunity.

Scott Wallace, proprietor of Burlington Taxi in conversation with former City Councillor Blair Lancaster.

“Council has directed staff to continue to take all necessary and reasonable measures to update bylaws and policies to create the conditions for the return of a taxi service to Burlington as soon as possible.

“On behalf of the City of Burlington, we would like to thank all Burlington Taxi staff, drivers and owners for their contribution and dedication to our community.”

For the significant number of people an “earliest opportunity” is just not good enough. Legal will putz and futz over the legalities while people worry about what is available to them in the way of transportation.

There are a lot of people who don’t like the Uber operation.

Getting the helicopter assembled and operational was one of the things Scott Wallace did for the city.

This is an issue that can and should be put at the top of the agenda – have an answer well before 5:00 pm on Friday so that Scott Wallace can take the steps needed to provide the service.

Both he and his staff have given back to Burlington in a big way for years. Time for the city to support him.

Few know that Scott could be found in Spencer Smith Park setting up some of the lights – he was the one who knew how to get the helicopter in place and working. Properly. Burlington is made up of people who give when it is needed – city hall could learn something from Scott’s example.

Return to the Front page

Amendments Made to Temporary Mask By-law and Physical Distancing By-law

By Staff

November 25th, 2021



City Council has approved amendments to the temporary Mask By-law and Physical Distancing By-law to extend both to expire June 30, 2022.  They were set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

Mayor Meed Ward – she wasn’t always a mask advocate – but she caught on quickly.

Council has removed Community Centre from the physical distancing requirement in the Physical Distancing By-law as those requirements are regulated under other provincial legislation.

As the pandemic evolves, Council has the ability to pass a motion at any time to revoke these by-laws.  The expiry date of June 30 can be repealed in March should COVID-19 conditions be favourable and the Province lifts their mask mandate.

This does not mean that levels of health and safety protections will be reduced in these City facilities or that physical distancing will not be maintained.

Quick Facts:

  • The By-laws were implemented in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of the community
  • The amendments in 2020 to the City’s temporary Mask By-law were made for consistency with Halton Region’s Mask By-law


Return to the Front page

Still time to nominate for Chamber of Commerce awards

By Staff

November 25th, 2021



The Burlington Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards recognizes the overall success and excellence of local area businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Awards are given in several categories. These awards will be presented at the Chamber Awards Gala in Spring 2022.

The deadline to nominate a business or organization for a 2022 Business Excellence Award is Friday, November 26th.

Link to the nomination site is HERE


Return to the Front page

Burlington TAXI 'needed' to close their service.

By Staff

November 24th, 2021



Burlington Taxi, in a city media release, “need to close their doors, ending this taxi service effective Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 at 5 p.m.”

Other than thanking the company for the service they provided – there is little else in the way of information.

This is what it came down to. Uber won

As one of Burlington’s main taxi services, Burlington Taxi was a key member of our business community and has been a valued contributor to our local economy and connectivity for more than 50 years. They provided a much-needed service to residents.

Staff have been working on amendments to the bylaw to facilitate the temporary transition to another taxi service and will present this to Burlington City Council at the earliest opportunity.

Council has directed staff to continue to take all necessary and reasonable measures to update bylaws and policies to create the conditions for the return of a taxi service to Burlington as soon as possible.

On behalf of the City of Burlington, we would like to thank all Burlington Taxi staff, drivers and owners for their contribution and dedication to our community.

Burlington TAXI basically had a monopoly for years.  The arrival of Uber and other hail a ride services ate into the standard taxi business and the company could not find a way out of the changed economic circumstances.

They were a good corporate citizen – they did well and they gave back.

Return to the Front page

Victorian Christmas Tour at Ireland House - two days only

By Staff

November 24th, 2021



Join the folks at Ireland House for the Victorian Christmas Tour & Treats event.

The Ireland House Museum does a superb Victorian Christmas Tour every year. The pandemic changed the scheduling – this year they have chosen December 3rd or 4th as occasions when you can step back in time with a tour of the historic home and sample traditional treats (baked in-house) along the way.

Limited tickets available, $28/person ($25 for Museum members).

This is worth the time.

Pick a day and book your tour.  Click HERE

Return to the Front page

The Mayor is now in re-election mode - much different campaign team this time

By Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2021



Creating the organizational structure needed to run an election – and win – requires a network.

To the winner go the spoils.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and her husband Pete were out for dinner with Dianne and Nick Leblovitch at Jakes earlier in the month.

Was this the first meeting of the Mayor Meed Ward 2022 re-election team?

Meed Ward had a solid team during 2018.  Pete Ward is a fine strategic thinker and knew what his wife needed in the way of emotional support as well as some sound strategic thinking.

Pete delivered on both levels.

The Leblovics were part of the 2018 team and, based on the information we have, they are the only two who are hold overs from the 2018 election.

That is unusual and has resulted in several noses being out of joint.

Nick Leblovic is a long time political junkie and loves being around people who are close to the seat of government.

Wife Dianne has a well honed political sense that goes all the way back to when Cam Jackson was Mayor.

There was a time when, as publisher of the Gazette, there would be long Saturday morning calls from Nick who was looking for updates, reaction, and as much political gossip as you could feed him.

At the time, Leblovic was the Chair of the Waterfront Advisory committee that ran into a sunset decision which brought a fast close to his career as an Advisory Committee Chair.

When he was told that the committee would cease to exist at the end of the year Nick; said he was blind-sided.

The chummy relationship with Nick came to an end soon after when he sued me and the Gazette for a million – which I didn’t realize I had.

The Libel action didn’t go anywhere.  Leblovic chose to be his own lawyer and either lost interest or forgot how to practice law.

Can the Diane Leblovic political savvy, Pete Ward’s strategic ability, and the support Meed Ward has from her tribe result in another win?

Time will tell but get ready for a rough and tumble election.  Recall what was done to Meed Ward when she ran in 2018.

Related news stories:

Life of the Waterfront Advisory Committee comes to an end.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.


Return to the Front page