On-line question and answer session about high school closings this evening at 7 pm.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 21, 2016



The Halton District School Board will be holding their public Question and Answer session Monday night on-line at 7 pm.

The protocol is set out on the Board’s web site. It isn’t easy to find – the Gazette will endeavour to get the exact url to log in.


Director of Education Stuart Miller addressing parents at Central high school.

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller made a presentation at every high school – some were very poorly attended. He is now holding an on-line Question and Answer session to answer questions.

The staff recommendation is to close both Central and Pearson high schools.– that is just a recommendation
The provincial government rules for closing a school require that the Board produce a report which they did.

They were not required to provide a recommendation, however they did.

The decision as to what is eventually done is made by the school board trustees.

Going forward the Board will take questions regarding this Program and Accommodation Review; send them via email to: BurlSSPAR@hdsb.ca.

The process to close a school is long and involved. Here are the steps that will be taken. Remember – it is the school board trustees that will make the final decision.

Formation and orientation of Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC)
December 1, 2016 –m This will be a closed meeting

Public Meeting #1
December 8, 2016

PARC Working Meeting #1
January 26, 2017

PARC Working Meeting #2
February 2, 2017

PARC Working Meeting #3
February 9, 2017

Public Meeting #2
March 2, 2017

PARC Working Meeting #4
March 23, 2017

Director’s Report to Committee of the Whole
March 29, 2017

Public Delegation Night
April 18, 2017
J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line

Presentation of Report to Board of Trustees for Decision
May 17, 2017

What many people do not realize is that every high school in Burlington anywhere near that 65 utilization number at risk. Hayden high school is not at risk – the place has only be operational for three years.

The parents at Central High School have been working diligently at doing everything they can to ensure their school is not closed.

The community based team is now leading the effort to Save Central. The group has a leadership and strategy team and a data team as well. They have a web site and a twitter account.


t-shirts-central-strongT-shirts and lawn signs are part of the campaign. Central has been down this road before.  Their spokesperson said they have an excellent process and structure in place.

And they have a long list of questions they want to ask the Director of Education. Here are some of those questions:

At the meetings where the Director spoke he assured the public that expenses would not drive the decision it would be equitable opportunity for all students , can the board outline what goes into determination of equitable , is it course offerings, student success, or other things, what exactly is considered ?

What is the point in having a PAR Committee that can’t hear opinions from the relevant schools, doesn’t hear from the Trustees of the relevant schools and won’t allow the Committee to make recommendations at the end?
Why did you not consider alternate options prior to engaging in the PAR? There is nothing in the Report to indicate this was done, as required by the Ministry guidelines.

Why are teachers not allowed to talk about this or have opinions? This does a disservice to both them and their students who naturally want to talk to them about it

Why did the board spend nothing on maintaining older schools for years, and remove students from Pearson only to put them at Hayden which caused the overcrowding? It appears this was all done so that Pearson and Central could be targeted for closure

central-save-street-signWhy do you keep saying 1200 is an optimal number of students in a high school? This is only optimal based on dollars and cents. It is widely recognized in multiple studies that optimal numbers are actually in the 600-900 range. Where is your data to support this number?

The report does not state why Option 19 was recommended in comparison to other options and alternatives. Simply saying “we think this is the best option at this time” means nothing. Why was it the best option at the time?

Why in Option #4 would you say you could move the IB program from Pearson to Nelson which would then have Nelson’s utilization at 113%? Why would you not move it to Central or Pearson?

front-page-web-siteIt should be an interesting hour and a half of community engagement.

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Update on leaf collection -

News 100 greenBy Staff

November 20th, 2016



Complaints about the leaf collection are understandable. However the people who put th schedule together had no idea that the warm weather we have experienced would last quite this long.

As nice as the weather has been – it does play havoc with the plans some departments put in place.
Could we, should we have expected them to have crystal balls that would tell them it is going to be another couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather?

Just how proactive could they have been?

This crew will probably not be clearing the leaves from your property. They were working along New Street when this picture was taken.

Leaves being cleaned up along New Street,

The city could have revised the plans and moved everything back a few days – perhaps the contracts they signed didn’t allow for that. Write better contracts.

Global warming is changing everything which means everything has to change.

Set out below is the schedule the city is working to at the moment.leaves-collection-map-2016


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Does Burlington need a larger city council? Have some of the current members served long enough?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 20th, 2016



There is chatter about a larger city council.

It began with a column in the Hamilton Spectator by Joan Little and was followed by a piece written by Brian Heagle.  Links to both are below

The significant seven we have now are not that interested in anything bigger. Mayor Goldring has pointed to Portland Oregon which has a seven member council which he thought was great.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Goldring’s 2015 Christmas card photograph.

Goldring doesn’t manage people all that well; his career path has not included any significant management roles. He prefers small groups of people that are like minded. Much of the thinking the city has seen the Mayor take up has come from a book he read and then invited the author to town for a speech.

There is going to have to be some form of leadership from the current Council and then a citizenship that rallies to that leadership and says it wants a different size Council.

The public is going to have to hear from past members of city council to talk about the deficiencies of a seven member council.

The people on city council now don’t get along all that well but they each have their alliances and know who they can go to for support. There are – it is not fair to call them cliques – but groupings that come together.  Councillors Craven and Sharman are frequently joined at the hip and Lancaster will listen to almost everything Sharman whispers in her ear.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

Taylor is wearying of the game and doesn’t want to be challenged by any upstarts who might have some new ideas.  Dennison is comfortable with what exists now.


Does she still want to put her hat in the ring for job of Mayor in 2018?

Meed Ward used to be ‘gung ho’ on change; we haven’t seen that much of the Marianne Meed Ward who delegated ferociously before she was elected to council and was a thorn in the side of most during her first term – something the other council members needed. The fight seems to have gone out of her.  To a considerable degree she is still ostracized.  Her public comments on the seniors situation were disappointing.

Political organizations need new blood – that is part of why we hold elections.

Municipal politics is complex business. Its financial statements are not like those in the business world. A municipality cannot have a deficit – if they are short they have to dip into the reserve funds – there are more than fifty of those with millions of dollars sitting in bank accounts.

The Finance department to its credit does a good job of getting the city a good return on the investments it makes – given that there are a lot of things the city is now allowed to invest in.

For a newcomer to get elected to council the learning curve is very very steep. It takes a full term to get a feel and understanding for the way the city works and how staff relate to council.

Two of the city councillors were not at the table and one didn't ask a single question. Councillor Craven chose to be mute.

Councillors Craven and Taylor live on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Each has their strengths – along with a considerable amount of time on city council.

For those new to municipal politics having to learn how city hall works and how the Regional Council works is more than most can manage.

It makes a lot of sense to have two levels of Councillors; one who is just a ward Councillor and the other who is both a ward councillor and a Regional councillor.

The comments we are seeing about what these ward only level councillors should be paid is insulting. Those who do the job work hard; the issues they have to deal with are not simple. To pay someone $30,000 to serve as a ward only councillor is going to get you someone stupid enough to accept such a pittance.

If you are not prepared to pay well – you are going to get very little in the way of talent. That $115,000 – give or take a bit – we pay our city council members now is money well spent. They make mistakes and they could tone up their attitude when dealing with the public – especially with delegations to council meetings.  But they are fairly paid.

The view that they were elected to run the city and the public gets to decide if they like what they got only at election time is an idea that went out of style in the late fifties.  This lot trots out the words accountability and transparency without understanding or believing what they really mean.

Dennison LaSalle

Dennison has the best understanding of the dollars and cents side of civic administration.

It is up to you the public to hold them accountable every chance you get. They are no better than you are. When that OPP cruiser slides by you on the 403 your foot comes off that gas pedal – that is you being accountability to that police officer. It’s the way the world works.

If the current council chafes at that it is because you have let them get away with far too much.
Just don’t insult the institution of public service by not paying them adequately and fairly and providing them with the staff support they need.

A trained administrative assistant could serve two Councillors in the same ward – it wouldn’t be a bad idea to recruit those people from outside existing city hall staff.

If there are people out there who want to run for public office they have to have started their campaigns by now. The rules have changed giving the incumbents an even better chance of winning.

How good it is for the incumbents?

Marcus Gee, a Globe and Mail writer who focuses on municiapl politics wrote on the weekend asking:

Imagine a high-school student council whose members never graduate but stay on year after year, growing older and crankier as the student body they govern evolves. It shouldn’t be much of a strain for residents of Toronto to picture. That’s what their own city council is like.

Councillors hang around year after year – sometimes decade after decade – aging in place as the dynamic city they govern changes all around them. The same old characters have the same old quarrels over and over in a repeating loop of futility.

Like any group or organization that doesn’t renew itself, they have become inward-looking, inbred, ingrown. Voters tune them out. Cynicism about politics grows.

How do we break out of this trap? A small group of reformers has an idea.

The Open Democracy Project announced it was putting together a DemocracyKit, “a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded resource to equip the next generation of city-builders.” The plan is to give newcomers the tools they need to break into the restricted club of city politics.

The democracy kit would include such things as fundraising plans, a guide to door-to-door canvassing, website templates and contact-management systems.


Democracy at work – people planning on what they want to see done.

It’s all aimed at counteracting the power of incumbency. Sitting politicians have overwhelming advantages. They have name recognition, especially critical at the municipal level, where most voters aren’t paying much attention. They have access to the big-name spin doctors and campaign managers who dominate the election game. They have a web of contacts in unions, community groups and local business associations that help them get re-elected. They know the ropes.

No wonder that so many manage to stay on and on. The Open Democracy Project says that incumbents won 92 per cent of the time in elections held in three cities – Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa – since 2001.

Burlington has Councillors who have warmed their chairs in the council chamber for more than twenty years.

Related articles:

Little in the Spectator

Brian Heagle with his view point.

Open Democracy project

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Burchill on education - system is still producing

opinionandcommentBy James Burchill

November 20th, 2016



In 1860, due to continued pressure from the various employers, the government developed the first education system: to create literate employees.

The employers of the time were finding it progressively harder to find employees who could read and write.
So bowing to capitalistic pressures the government created a system of public education with the sole intent of creating “literate employees”. Like the modern army where we train people to become soldiers, the education system was created to create “factory workers”.

This was 155 years ago and nothing much has changed since. In fact the education system is still producing “literate employees” – not free thinking, creative types, but human ‘worker bees’ or drones.

The education system instigated testing to measure advancement and learning but now the testing is often more important than the skills they try and train. In fact, most students only focus on how to “ace the tests”. What good is that?

After school the students go on to “higher education” – there is another oxymoron as research shows only a few post graduate students actually end up using their degrees in their careers.

Why spend all that time, energy and money only to not use the degree?


It’s a job!

When asked why they went to University, or why they got a degree the student answers were frighteningly similar – “to get a job”.

We have created a system were the apparent need to get a job is so great that people will spend about four years and $50,000 on a degree for the sole purpose of ignoring it later and using it to apply for jobs!

In conclusion, we create “literate employees” who now feel so compelled and “must” get a degree to apply for a job (which we all now know has no security anyway) to enter a social and economic environment where they are ill equipped to handle the majority of ‘free-agent’ type thinking (remember this creativity was eroded during school years during the mania with testing and NOT creativity) and did I mention that the cost of this education was over $50,000 (I can’t bear to add in the time before University and the lost opportunity costs.)

My point? Simple, if you have children remember this about the system, firstly it is a system and it is antiquated and there solely for the purpose of creating ‘literate employees’. Know that there is no law (at least here in Canada) that says your children MUST go to school – you can home school.

That the training they are receiving is not going to be very helpful in years to come as the work place is becoming more fragmented and a free-for-all-free-agent place (remember school does not train and create entrepreneurs only ‘workers’) and finally that you and I came from this same training and we need to remember what we most likely think about or world is probably wrong.

How we perceive our environment is a function of how we think about it, and how we think about our environment was ‘trained’ into us by the early educators we were exposed to (school, the place where ‘literate employers are created)

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that meets regularly in Burlington to allow networking and relationship building.  He also writes and trains people about how to make technology work for them.

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RBG hosting a Fest of Ales December 8th - from 6:00 pm until they are done. Sounds ominous.

Event 100By Staff

November 20, 2016


Not sure an evening enjoying craft beers is the “best way possible” to help kick off the holiday season – there is something else we are celebrating.

Nevertheless, the RBG’s Fest-of-Ales returns for its second craft beer event- Thursday, December 8 from 6 until they are done!

rbg-fest-of-alesThis year includes DJs, breweries, food stations, a cash bar for those wanting libations other than beer, and a mocktail station for our important DDs!

The vendors include Collective Arts Brewing, The Hamilton Brewery, Big Rock Brewery Inc, Muskoka Brewery, Shawn & Ed Brewing Co, Nickel Brook Brewery, Four Fathers Brewing Co., Clifford Brewing Co, Silversmith Brewing Company & the infamous Beaus Brewery! + more to come

Food Stations will be offering Poppers! Sliders! Dips! Snacks! Enough for the meat and veg lovers alike!

Prices: Advance tickets: $35 – includes Fest-of-Ales mug and 5 craft beer tokens. Tickets are $40 the night-of.
Designated driver ticket: $10 (no alcohol can be consumed with this ticket and you must be age 19+)

Thursday, December 8 from 6 until they are done. Sounds ominous.

Tickets available on line

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Just what level of service should city hall provide? And will technology deliver what the taxpayers want?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2016



There is a lawyer in town who loves the city – has run for public office and is “involved” in civic affairs. Nice fellow; dependable, decent, gives a damn. He speaks of the city as being a nice place where the quality of life is good.

And on that one he isn’t wrong but he isn’t as right as he would like it to be.


Is leaf collecting a service the city should be providing? The trees are on city property.

Sheldon Creek - chemicl cans

These chemical containers were discovered in Sheldon creek – is their removal a city responsibility?

Another citizen is also active, also involved and has lived in the city since the 50’s. He is the kind of guy who will pick up the phone when he sees something he thinks is wrong. He lives near the Village Square.

The Blyth Academy made a smart move when they set up classes for their students in the Village Square. This gave the “campus” a downtown feel rather than an austere building in the boonies or some commercial waste land where space was cheap.

There is a decent number of students about which suggests the idea is working.

Adults seem to understand that smoking is going to kill you eventually and certainly shorten your life span but that doesn’t seem to have penetrated the fertile minds of the Blyth Academy students. They got into the habit of slipping out for a fag in the Village Square which happens to abut a condominium with which they share common spaces.

The residents don’t appreciate the cigarette butts littering the ground – the students got rousted and the problem was solved.

Students being students, driven more by peer pressure than common sense, found another place to smoke – the city parking lot right across the street.

Our observant citizen picked up the phone, called city hall thinking a bylaw enforcement officer could pay the area a visit and shoo the students back to their classroom

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Our citizen was told it was a Regional responsibility; then was told it was a Parks and Recreation responsibility and that the person who could do something was away. After three to four transfers to someone else – the citizen gave up.

While going through the background papers the city has provided on the capital budget that is going to be debated next week we came across an item which we passed along to the citizen with a real hurt for smokers.

The budget submission includes the funding of the purchase of a Customer Relationship Management / Knowledge Base System (CRM/KB) that will build services for the community, focusing on the needs of our customers. This system will allow our customers to engage with the city and have access to information and services through the channel of their choice; phone, social media, city’s website or email. Creating an integrated service delivery model available through multiple channels is only possible through the acquisition and implementation of such a system. Staff plan to consolidate service inquiries and requests and transform Service Burlington into a centralized customer contact centre.

His comment: “It seems to me that it’s a people problem. No system will fix the experience I had. It’s more to do with the culture, a simple commitment of all staff to excellent customer service.”

The same could probably be said the the falling leaves problem in Roseland.  The comments made by readers on that problem are instructive.

Related article:

Leaf collections – problem with the timing.

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South Burlington resident unhappy with the way leaf pick up is being done.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2016


Update:  Asked if he wanted to expand on his comment Jack Dennison, the ward 4 member of council said: “The experts will”

Phillip Waggett, a resident of South Burlington, said his street received its second leaf pickup.

This morning, he advised the Gazette, he took a series of pictures of the serious leaf drop which is ongoing–primarily from city-owned trees.


South Roseland street after leaf pick up – resident thinks the city has made a mistake with its scheduling.

“It is not just my street: wrote Waggett “it is across South Burlington and into Roseland, leaves are everywhere, especially on maple trees which have only dropped a small proportion of their leaves at this time.

“My neighbour is of the opinion that the leaves were picked up one week earlier than last year, resulting in possibly the WORST pickup I have experienced in nearly 40 years of living here.

“Who is responsible for this lack of proper planning/scheduling? I do understand that scheduling must be done in advance but surely City Hall has access to the same long-term weather reports as I do?


This maple tree has yet to lose its leaves – warm weather has it confused – that weather also has the people scheduling the leaf pick-up confused. These are trees on city property.

“And I assume city staff responsible are capable of looking outside to see how much of the leaf fall has occurred? None of this has happened with the consequent poor results. What is the City going to do to rectify this?”

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison did get back to Waggett with the following:

“I have included the director of the Roads and Parks maintenance department”

That was it?

No wonder there is disappointment with the way things get done at city hall.


The map showing where leaves are to be collected was published early in October. Someone appears not to have factored in the milder weather and made some changes.

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Transit notice: Route 1 Detour Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016

notices100x100By Staff

November 18, 2016



Hamilton’s Santa Claus parade will be taking place in the downtown area on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 and street closures will be in effect from approximately 2:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Route 1 buses will have to detour using Locke Street to King Street. For service, please move to the Locke and King Street corner, or to the shelter/transfer point on King Street at Dundurn.

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Police arrest youth for arson - events took place in the Palmer Drive part of the city.

Crime 100By Staff

November 18th, 2016



Earlier in the month the Halton Regional Police reported small fires being set off randomly in the Palmer Drive and Newlands Crescent part of the city.

The Burlington Fire Department doused several small fires and several more burned out on their own. Police searched the area and did not locate any suspects.


Fire department responding to an alarm in the Palmer Drive part of the city.

Later in the day, police received numerous complaints from residents in the same area who reported items being lit on fire which fortunately caused only minor damage however could have been much worse. Items such as Halloween & Christmas decorations, garden accessories, realtor signs, newspapers, yard waste bags and a wreath hanging on a front door were ignited.

Yesterday, November 17th 2016, investigators arrested a 16-year-old male in relation to these arsons and executed a search warrant at his Burlington home. During the search, police found supporting evidence along with 11 Zanax pills and 24 grams of marihuana.

The male, who cannot be named due to his age, was held for bail, charged with Arson (10 counts), possession of an incendiary device, and possession of a controlled substance (2 counts).

Police continue to investigate to identify the other involved youths and are encouraging them to turn themselves in.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 Ext. 2316, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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Liona Boyd to play at Port Nelson United Church December 10th - one performance only.

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

November 18, 2016



Big name in the music world and a lady with a colourful background is going to be at the Port Nelson United Church December 10th for a single performance.

Liona Boyd, the five-time Juno Award-winning guitarist, will be bringing her Winter Fantasy Tour to Burlington on Saturday December 10th. Lowville Festival and Port Nelson United Church are co-presenting “The First Lady of the Classical Guitar”- events starts at 7:30 pm.

Liona Boyd has enthralled millions with her romantic and unique brand of classical, folk and world music. She has performed solo and orchestral concerts around the world, had her own television specials, and recorded twenty-seven albums, many of which have gone Gold or Platinum. She has had over four million views on YouTube. Over the past several years, Ms. Boyd has also branched out as an accomplished singer-songwriter.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with Liona Boyd at Juno Awards, O'Keefe Centre, Toronto Ontario.

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with Liona Boyd at Juno Awards, O’Keefe Centre, Toronto Ontario.

Boyd was also the one-time lover of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau –an intriguing lady.

A Winter Fantasy is a celebration of the music of the Yuletide season, and features fantasias on many popular carols and seasonal songs. On this tour she will be introducing the talented young Waterloo-based singer-guitarist Andrew Dolson. She will be also be joined by the Port Nelson United Church Choir under the direction of Music Director Stillman Matheson.


Liona Boyd – classic guitarist.

Liona Boyd’s concert is a co-presentation of Port Nelson United Church and the Lowville Festival, “a festival of all the arts for the artist in all of us” which is held annually in the majestic Escarpment country of north Burlington.

7:30 pm
AVAILABLE AT 905-637-5631, DIFFERENT DRUMMER BOOKS and at the Door

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Make Cuba the newest Canadian province? Rivers is clearly looking for a diplomatic posting.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 18th, 2016



I once worked at Toronto airport washing recycled Trans Canada planes for one of those instant airlines, sprung up to fly cows to Cuba, the airline’s only customer. The Cuban missile crisis was over but there was pretty much of a hemispheric embargo in effect against that small island nation. And while the US administration would have liked Canada to fall into line, Conservative leader John Diefenbaker would not be dictated to.

Canada and Cuba have one of the oldest friendships in the Western Hemisphere. More recently Stephen Harper played a key role in opening the way for Obama to break the ice, and become the first US president after the revolution to visit Cuba. But the politician who mostly comes to mind when the talk turns to Cuba was Justin Trudeau’s late father, Pierre.


Margaret Trudeau, Fidel Castro and former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau. Castro is showing the Trudeau’s a photo album.

So nobody should be surprised that Justin finally paid a visit to Cuba, though he didn’t get to see his father’s old pal, Fidel. Over a million Canadians visit Cuban annually, and the official purpose of his trip was to expand trade, get some of those tourist dollars back, before the US beats us to it.

Though beating us to it won’t happen if president-elect Trump was serious about his threat to re-impose a blockade. Trump had been keen to build a casino there in the 1990’s but business is business and politics is… So he found religion and the bitter Cuban ex-pats voted in large enough numbers to give him Florida and the path to the presidency.

But the real Cubans weren’t applauding; they conducted military drills, just in case. Nobody expects Trump to invade, but if normalization is ended, Cuba might reconsider Mr. Putin’s offer to re-open a Russian military base there. And that would be so “deja vu” – unless the much anticipated Putin-Trump bromance turns out to be genuine love. Then Cuba will be pretty much on its own, except for a few good friends, like Canada.

When Trump threatened to tear up NAFTA, Canada was quick to call his bluff, offering to put our money on the table and deal. And our guys are pretty good at the game, knowing when to walk away, as we did to close that CETA deal (Canada-EU Trade Agreement) recently. We can visualize the NAFTA negotiations set in one of Trumps’ Vegas casinos – I’ll see your softwood lumber and raise you US steel.

Snow-birding makes a big dent in the Canadian economy, draining foreign exchange and slowing down domestic economic growth. But what if our Canadian sun-worshippers could travel to some hot spot which was part of the economy, so the money would stay in the country?

What if some banana island came out of the blue sea and knocked on our door looking to participate in our style of democracy?

Almost a century ago PM Robert Borden embraced annexing the Turks and Caicos (T&C) islands as a part of Canada. And the issue has popped up regularly over the years, mostly by the government of that British colony. The last time this happened a pale Mr Harper was so blanched by the prospect he told them to go home, they’d been in the sun too long. Canada wasn’t interested – we like to freeze in the winter. Really? Over 200,000 people travel to that island paradise, that’s almost as many as stop by to see the Yukon. Why wouldn’t we want to have those dollars in Canada and those 40 islands as our 11th province?


Part of the Turks and Caicos that Rivers would like to see made part of Canada.

I mean, it’s the ‘rage’ once again, to build empires and grab land. Take Crimea, which Russia did. And I’d be surprised if Mr. Putin has finished his Christmas shopping – watch out for those men in furry hats, bikinis and sun burns – this time they’re the little red men.

Once we’ve snagged the Turks and Caicos, there are bigger fish for us to hook in the Caribbean. I mean what about Cuba?

Over a million Canadians fly there every year, dwarfing little ole’ Turks and Caicos. With access to their doctors, twice as many per capita as Canada, waiting lists for operations would disappear. And maybe you could schedule that operation along with recuperation time in Havana. Tell that to your boss when requesting sick leave.

Canada has some strong linkages to Cuba’s economy, including some of the biggest mining companies there. But we’ve hardly started. And that is why the PM is there – trade and investment. Yes and of course the PM is expected to scold them on human rights abuses – but in this crazy messed up world…

As a Canadian province, Cuba would be entitled to free trade with the US and Mexico under NAFTA, providing Trump doesn’t tear it up. Bringing almost twelve million Spanish speakers into confederation would provide a nice linguistic balance to our multi-cultural nation, complementing Quebec’s 8 million francophones. And if anyone could get the US to close it’s naval base at Guantanamo, that’d be us.

So if that wasn’t what our PM was doing in Cuba – seducing Raul to throw his lot in with us – well it would be a shame. But then, one can always dream.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election.     Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Harper and Cuba –  Canada-Cuba –   Cuban History –  Trudeau/Castro

Cuba and Canada –  How Trump Won Florida –  Trump on Cuba –  Turks And Caicos

Can/US/CubaTrudeau in Cubagetting new - yellow

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Local lawyer and former city council candidate suggests the size of city council should be changed.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 17th, 2016



The pressure is building.

Hamilton Spectator Joan Little did a column on the size of city council which the Gazette reproduced. We then got a note from Brian Heagle who directed us to his words of wisdom. Heagle thinks the current size of council is out of whack with what the city needs.

Let us pass along to you what Heagle, a past candidate for public office, had to say.  The content has been edited for length – a link to the full and the three second poll is at the end of this article.

Heagle starts his comments with a picture of the 1988-1991 council – pointing out that Jack Taylor was a member of council that far back, and asks: “Did you count the number of people around that table?


Not a computer screen in site – those were the days when members of council would look at you and not be reading their cell phones

At that time there were seventeen (17) people for a population of less than 130,000 in 1991.

There are only seven (7) members of council now – for a population in excess of 175,000.

Oakville has 13 members of council with a population of 180,000.

Milton has a nine member council for a population of more than 100,000

Halton Hills has 11 members of Council for a population of 60,000.

Heagle in group with Boich looking on

Brian Heagle when he was a Liberal.

The decrease in Council’s size was a well-intentioned move in the right direction but the pendulum swung too far.  A telling example is how weary and wary our Mayor and Councillors appear at Council meetings. Who can blame them?

In fairness, who could properly get through all of the reading materials thrown at them (whether paper or electronic), investigate all of the truly important matters (after filtering through the truly less important ones), and genuinely listen to their constituents (as a reminder, improved civic engagement was the rallying cry when this Council was first elected in 2010)?

No wonder Council members often have their heads down, relying heavily on staff reports (is it an unwillingness to challenge them, or lack of preparation?) and rarely looking or standing up to offer strikingly innovative or breakthrough ideas.

Risk-takers? Not this group.

I wrote last year about how this Council is seemingly “stuck in neutral”, and nothing much has changed since then – their long-overdue Strategic Plan eventually passed in April, sadly in line with Council’s previously limp and lengthy versions.

Visionary and bold do not describe this Council. Caretaking seems more appropriate.

To be clear, Council’s work is not easy or straightforward, nor is it restricted to Council chambers.

There’s also the incredible time and energy drains of dealing with cats getting caught in trees, ribbons getting cut, photos getting taken, calls getting made, emails getting returned and getting to countless meetings and events.

Not to mention constant public pressure, as Council goes about their work.

Heagle hands out speaking

Getting the word out – Brian Heagle in action.

Having said that, though, there’s really not much in the way of public scrutiny. Local media is virtually non-existent in Burlington, (We take exception to that comment Mr. Heagle) and it infrequently provides actual in-depth news reporting or analysis anyway.

It’s exhausting merely to try to visualize Council’s unrelenting work schedule, and the personal sacrifices involved, especially for a completely undersized team with an overwhelming to-do list.

Despite Council’s best efforts, have you noticed that public discontent keeps bubbling to the surface lately, replacing our usual general disengagement or disinterest with local matters? And we’re not talking about the Pier anymore.

Citizens seem increasingly frustrated with and anxious about Council – with big and small tipping points.

Unwarranted road diets, the shadow cast by the unrelenting threat and pace of new high rises by the waterfront, the City terminating the core group of seniors volunteering at the Seniors Centre, the City’s short-sighted selling of public waterfront lands to private interests, and more.

It’s no surprise that one natural conclusion and overriding factor can explain, in large part, why this Council gets such unfavorable or unenthusiastic reviews, and why it has seemingly been so unproductive and uninspiring despite 6 long years together.  It’s been 25 years in the making. Council fatigue has firmly set in.


Fuzzy picture – but there is no mistaking Brian Heagle pictured with local Conservative party activists – this was during that period of time when Heagle had his eye on a seat at Queen’s Park

Why expect any Council to excel when they’re always faced with too little time and far too many demands? We’re talking about burnout.

Increasing the size of Council is inevitable, and would represent an important step and signal to re-energize Council as part of a long-overdue governance review – Council isn’t leading by example about a Code of Conduct, which doesn’t exist for them, but does for City Staff).

With a larger group, there’s real opportunity to elect a more dynamic, inclusive and representative group for an evolving Burlington – hopefully, more diverse backgrounds and more progressive thinking will be brought to the table as a result.

It’s time to cleanse the stale air of a tired “small club” environment, and breath new life into a modern Council to help it build an even greater community for the longer term.

To create a healthier culture, you need to get at the root of the problem, not merely trim around the edges.

A change to the size of Council would be at the centre of structural changes that will make a difference.

Longer term thinking has city hall being replaced but for the immediate future improving the sound system in Council chamber - FINALLY! and improving some of the meetings rooms is where capital dollars will be spent this year.

Is it time for a change in the size of city council?

Drawing new lines for Wards is a related burning issue too.

The new Strategic Plan trumpets “GROW BOLD”, as Council seeks to lead Burlington into the future. Will this Council itself “GROW BOLD”, and be wise enough, to pursue increasing its size before the 2018 election?

Seven is definitely not the right number. Not anymore. It doesn’t work well in 2016 – and won’t for the next 25 years.

The three second poll Heagle posted is at – https://brianheagle.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/size-matters-in-burlington/


getting new - yellowJoan Little column from the Hamilton Spectator

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Is the AGB thinking about getting into bed with Brock University? They are certainly talking.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



Are there some really big changes in the wind for the Art Gallery of Burlington?

The city has always wanted a major academic institution in the downtown core. At one point it looked as if McMaster was going to have a structure on what is now the Elizabeth Street parking lot but that didn’t work out the way the city wanted it to – McMaster got a better offer for land on the South Service Road so a progressive university set up shop beside a field where someone is growing hay that they really don’ harvest.


Brock University has been around for 50 years and has been spreading its wings – with facilities in Hamilton and an apparent interest in taking up lodgings in Burlington.

Turns out that Brock University, headquartered in St. Catharines, has been sniffing around the Art Gallery of Burlington to see if some kind of a deal can be put together.

An informed source says the talks haven’t been going all that well – and that the problem is with the Burlington side of the negotiating table.

No one at Brock wants to say anything at this time.

The AGB spent a couple of hours Wednesday evening take a small audience through a Strategic Plan exercise that had all the right buzz words in it: Inclusive; Inspiring; Encouraging; Engaging; Collaborative and Respectful.

Those and the right Gift Card will get you a cup of coffee.

There is a Draft Strategy that is based on three pillars- the Gazette will report on these later.

One of the objectives appear to be having hands-on activities always being available for walk in visitors – a challenge and not something the clubby Guilds are likely to welcome.

Robert Steven AGB

AGB president Robert Steven.

AGB president Robert Steven has to be credited with boosting donations somewhat but the place has a long way to go to raise the funds needed for the Art Gallery program wish list.

Getting into bed with a university would certainly juice up the place – but it doesn’t look as if there is going to be anything to announce in the near future – other than – there have been talks.

Picking up this news from the “grapevine” however is not the smartest way for the AGB to get the news out. The objective is to get in front of the parade and lead the band wagon so people can jump on.

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BTTB going to the Rose Bowl parade in 2018 - 5th time they have earned this honour.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 17, 2016



The Burlington Teen Tour Band has been selected to take part in the January 1st, 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade!! There is no better way to end of the band’s 70th Anniversary year then to be selected as a Rose Bowl Band!

BTTB - O canadaThis is a biggie – an accomplishment that very few bands are ever given the opportunity to participant in. This will be the 5th time the BTTB has been given this honour so even in our own history a very small number of band members have been a part of an achievement of this magnitude!

It may seem like a far way off…it is not! The Band has a lot to accomplish between now and the

They need to recruit at least 40 more members. The band has to be a minimum of 200 members.


The stadium where the American football classic is played.


A part of the Rose Bowl parade – one of the best in the United States.

Expect a knock on the door – they will be out fund raising, Dedication and commitment on the part of the band members – to attend all performances and rehearsals as they prepare for this 5.5 mile parade.

The Rose Bowl – an American football classic takes place in Pasadena California.

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Fill the streets with the Ho Ho Ho people! Saturday the 26th.

eventsred 100x100By Staff

November 17, 2016



They are going to do it again – they do it every year.

santa_400x300More Ho Ho Ho guys and gals that you would expect to see anywhere.

Burlington apparently puts more of the Ho Ho Ho’s on the street than any other Santa 5K run

This year the event is on Saturday November 26.

The route being run and details are set out below.

Ho Ho Ho!5k-santa-details


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City is thinking of putting a picture of the pier on a smart phone app - don't we usually keep the skeletons in a closet?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



The city recently asked those who are part of the Insight Burlington opinion panel which of three illustrations they would like to see on a series of smart phone apps they are thinking of developing.

The choices were: The Escarpment; a picture of a family and The Pier.


The Pier on the day it was officially opened.

That was the structure you the taxpayer shelled out $14 million for when it was originally going to cost something just over $6.5 million.

Most organizations keep their skeletons in the closet.

Let’s see what they choose to do.

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Spectator columnist suggests its time to enlarge city council - she is not wrong.

opinionandcommentBy Joan Little, Hamilton Spectator columnist

November 17th, 2016


The Spectator is not read by enough people in Burlington. Their columnist, Joan Little, wrote some particularly cogent comments about the size of Burlington’s city council that deserve repeating.

Every few years council sizes and ward boundaries change, usually because of population shifts. Councillors invariably are lukewarm, keen to retain areas of strength in past elections. “No one’s asking for change,” they say, but it’s not about them — it’s about service for residents. Toronto is adding three wards. Hamilton, too, is considering change.

Burlington City Council Group

First elected in 2010 this significant seven don’t appear to be the least bit interested in letting any new members into the club that gives them $100,000 + each year.

Halton Region’s population has shifted greatly. When created in 1973, its council had 24 members — nine from Burlington, seven from Oakville, four from Halton Hills, three from Milton, and a chair. In 1997 it was re balanced to 21 — seven each from Burlington and Oakville, and three each from Milton and Halton Hills, plus a chair.

With populations again skewed, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has decided that Halton council will revert to 24 for the 2018 election. Milton gains two and Oakville one. The 1997 shift necessitated local council changes. Burlington went from eight wards, two per ward, to six wards, one per ward. Mike Wallace was the architect of that move from 17 to seven members. Some, like former Mayor Walter Mulkewich, favoured 13, like Oakville’s.

Burlington has the smallest council in Halton — seven — who sit on the two councils and several boards. Oakville also has six wards, but 13 members — one local and one local/regional councillor, plus the mayor. It is adding a ward, and will go to 15 locally. Milton and Halton Hills have 11 each. Milton will shift from eight wards to four — one local and one local/regional per ward plus a mayor — nine total.

Burlington councillors love their small club, but does it serve the public well? It’s a very small group for developers and special interests to lobby. There have been several 4-3 votes on controversial items. It’s troubling that the fate of such a large city can be decided by only four people — and that’s if all are present.

At one committee session last week, Mayor Rick Goldring and Blair Lancaster were absent — not a criticism, because scheduling conflicts do arise. BUT! Both Marianne Meed Ward and Jack Dennison have heritage homes, so each had to declare a conflict of interest on two different heritage items. That left four to vote on these two reports. Fortunately, they weren’t divisive items.

Goldring and others have spoken of having a larger council. In my opinion, 13 is ideal — not too large, not too small. (The council table will seat 17). More would likely mean broader debate. Additional councillors would be local only, like Oakville’s and Milton’s.

Council has said for a decade that there was no sense reviewing its size, because Burlington could gain or lose regional seats. Well, Halton’s council size is decided, and unlikely to change for another two decades, so what’s today’s holdup?

Cost? Democracy isn’t free, but let’s examine that. Burlington’s 2016 budget is $146 million. The city pays councillors $54,312, the Region an additional $48,060 — total $103,372. Let’s use $60,000 for six more local members — $360,000 — less if fewer were added. Minimal in a $146 million budget (.0025 per cent).

Dennison announcing

Ward 4 city Councillor Jack Dennison is reported to be opposed to a larger council.

This council is unlikely to add six. Dennison, for one, is stridently opposed to adding any, and for city staff, the small number is convenient. Further, a council that can’t even agree on a Councillors’ Code of Conduct, promised six years ago, is unlikely to make such a major change. But if they do, kudos!

Two weeks ago there was a council workshop about a governance charter, but the underlying issue for many members was that outstanding Code of Conduct. They agreed that both items would be considered in parallel later.

I was astonished that council size wasn’t even discussed, because that underlies governance. In response to my question, Goldring said it isn’t an issue — no one’s asking for change but me. Maybe, but four people (if all attend) deciding my city’s future is worrisome.

Adding councillors to a too-small council for 2018’s election would be a step for democracy. Seven is way too small for a city Burlington’s size, considering the ongoing citizen angst about overintensification.

little-joanFreelance columnist Joan Little is a former Burlington alderperson and Halton councillor. Reach her at specjoan@cogeco.ca


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Director of Education to hold a live Q&A on-line Monday the 21st.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



The closing of a high school is significant and disruptive.

The Director of Education wants to give the public every opportunity to be informed and ask questions.
Burlington has seven high schools where there are 1800+ empty seats – and that isn’t, as Director of Education Stuart Miller points out is not sustainable.

To add to the situation – Burlington has a high school that is at 115% of capacity and has had to add portables – for a school that was opened three years ago.


Director of Education Stuart Miller preparing to talk to Central high school parents.

The high school capacity in Burlington is south of the QEW – the population is north of that line.
Something had to be done to fix this imbalance. The Board of Education staff put forward a recommendation – one of 19 different possible recommendations to close Central and Pearson high schools.

While not required to get out into the community and explain the full story – some school boards pass the task along to the trustees and let them deal with the mess – Miller decided to hold at meeting at every high school and pass along to them the information he has.


One of the five people in the picture is the high school principal. Parent participation was dismal.

Some of those meetings were very well attended – others, sparse would be being polite. The parents just didn’t show up at Bateman high school which is a school that is very much at risk. That it wasn’t the staff recommendation doesn’t save Bateman. It is the trustees that will make the decision and there were 19 recommendations – and Bateman has a low and falling registration.


Amy Collard, school board trustee for the ward Bateman high school is in attended the sparsely attended meeting.

With Nelson high school just a couple of km away – Bateman parents want to listen up – carefully.

Miller has decided to go one step further and hold an on line Q&A on Monday, November 21st between 7:00 and 8:30 pm

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Car drivers are not stopping when school buses let students off - and not every high school has appointed their representatives for the PARC.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller made two comments at the regular board meeting last night that deserve a closer look.

He commented on a report that school bus drivers were having problems with cars that did not obey the rule that they must stop behind or in front of the bus while students are embarking and disembarking.


Hard to miss the intent of this sign – some car drivers are not getting the message.

Each bus has a small barrier that is lowered when a bus has stopped – close to impossible to miss that signal. Why would a car driver choose to take a chance and drive around the bus?

The Gazette will be following up on that problem.

The other item in the Director’s report was equally disturbing.

The Board is about to launch the PARC (Program Accommodation Review Committee) that will review the staff report that recommended closing both the Lester B Pearson and Central high schools.

Miller has pointed out every time he discusses this process that the recommendation is just that “a recommendation. There are other high schools that could be closed instead of Pearson or Central. The decision as to which school should be closed is one that will be made by the trustees once the PARC has delivered its report.

Every high school in the city gets to have a person on the PARC – there is apparently one high school that has not yet provided its nominee to the committee.

This is serious stuff for a community whose high school is at risk.

The PARC will hold its first meeting December 1st – that meeting, and only that meeting will be closed to the public. The justification is that the committee will need some time to work out the rules and norms that will apply and have an opportunity for the 20+ people on the committee to get to know each other. Every high school in Burlington has two representatives on the PARC.

The full committee will consist of:

Trustee from outside Burlington
Superintendent from outside Burlington
Principal or designate from each affected high school
Two parents/guardians from each affected high school

The Board is waiting for all the applications from people who have expressed an interest in serving on the committee. Friday November 18th is the closing day for those expression of interest applications. It is going to prove to be a big job – not for the faint of heart.


Not exactly a large crowd is it? Bateman high school parents apparently missed the message.


The Central high school parents understand the issue – they are very well organized.

Miller advised the Board that he and staff have attended information meetings at every high school and “given them the information we have”. Some of those meetings were very poorly attended.

There is going to be one additional meeting that will be done via the internet – Stuart and staff members will take questions electronically and answer on a live streaming board web cast November 21st at 7:00 pm.

portrait of Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac

Superintendent of Education Scott Podrebarac will chair the PARC.

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Lettuce Love a Pure Love Smoothie - and at 50% off - why not?

eventspink 100x100By Staff

November 17th, 2016



Does Social Media work?

Donald Trump certainly believes it does – look where it got him.

The good folks at Lettuce Love Café are using social media to announce their Pure Love Smoothie Bar and the 50% off all day on November 25th when they hold their Grand Opening.

lettuce-love-smoothies-posterSocial media is one of the ways commercial operations avoid having to pay for advertising. The Gazette, and every other on line media gets hundreds of pitches a week from public relations people asking us to give them a mention. Some of them are important enough from a public interest point of view to get coverage.

Others are just great examples of how interesting graphics and an innovative idea get attention. Here is what the Lettuce Love Café people put together in the way of graphics.

It caught our attention.lettuce-love-yoga

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