Having police in place when they are really needed

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 11, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a comment in the Gazette from a former police officer who served for 30 years – it deserves some comment.  The police officer wrote:

“My point is …. pay duty officers are requested and paid for by a private company (ie construction, movie shoots) NOT Halton Region, so the suggestion that the City of Burlington request and pay for pay duty officers (out of our tax dollars) is ridiculous. It’s sad to see how the media has contributed to the rise in tension and hate towards the police, of late. AND yes I am proud of my honourable career as a police officer. I worked for HRPS for 30 years!”

Our purpose is not to identify the officer but to respond to her assertion that the Gazette has contributed to the rise in” tension and hate towards the police”.

Rattlesnake 1 police car

Most of the time the police are where they need to be.

The intention is to hold the police accountable and ensure that they be transparent and protect the public that hires them to do just that.

The word hate was introduced by the police officer – not the Burlington Gazette.

Police are often seen on the street, riding bicycles and keeping an eye on things – a basic part of good police work; getting out of the cruiser and seeing what is going on.

In the ten years we have covered Burlington the Gazette has reported on a lot of outstanding police work. There are a lot of smart, dedicated men and women serving the public.

The only thing ridiculous about paying for pay duty police officers is that the taxpayer would be paying twice.

Police officer told us he was on "bikini patrol" and that he loved his job.

Police officer told us he was on “bikini patrol” and that he loved his job.

Times are tough for many people. Coping with the financial damage being done to the hospitality sector is seriously hurting families and some of that pain gets expressed publicly.

People are fearful, they expect, want, and need support.

Most people recognize that is why we have a police service.

Related news

Backbone

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.

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Taxpayer funds are expected to support the golf course going forward

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a little on the long side – important because it points to the way the current city council wants to spend.

 

Rob Axiak, Manager of Recreation Services was explaining to council that the business model being used to operate the Tyandaga golf course wasn’t working and at the current rate of spending the reserve funds would be depleted in a couple of years.

Rob Axiac

Rob Axiak, Manager of Recreation Services

A different business model was needed.

The Staff Direction the Parks, Recreation, Community and Culture (RCC) department wanted was:

Direct the Director of Recreation, Community and Culture to permanently phase in over 2022 – 2026, a change to the Tyandaga operating model, shifting from the current net zero model to a tax-supported model funded by both user fees and the general tax- base.

If approved this would mean a permanent adjustment to the current operating model and result in the golf course being paid for with a combination of fees and money from the tax payer instead of just fee revenue.

Tyandaga has been described as land developers would love to get their hands on. The 108 acre property could have development potential – however it has a number of streams that would hamper development.

Councillor Sharman told his council colleagues there was a time when some members of council and developers had drawings done up – but it never got past that point

In February Parks staff were tasked to further engage the community regarding both the golf service and public park opportunities. The community spoke clearly of the ongoing desire to maintain an 18 hole golf course, improve basic amenities like cart paths, and enhance the winter park play experience and use of the clubhouse.

tyandaga uses

Survey data

During the Spring, Summer and Fall, the grounds at Tyandaga are primarily used for a multitude of golf related programs which are open, affordable and accessible to all.

During the Winter months, the grounds are transformed into an active public park where people can enjoy the space for a variety of casual play opportunities including tobogganing and snow shoeing. This entire four-season operation is considered a net zero and expected to be funded solely by revenues earned through golf programs and services.

The common consensus amongst Council members as noted in a February 2020 report were:

 We value the greenspace at Tyandaga
 We value having a municipal golf course
 We value having a destination for the community year-round
 We look forward to hearing about additional uses for the Clubhouse
 We would welcome hearing about additional uses on the greenspace for the community to enjoy.

Tyandaga has always  operated under the current net zero operation; they receive nothing from the public purse. User-fee revenues generated from golf are expected to fully fund both the operating and capital cost requirements year-round, including all winter park opportunities.

Uncontrollable factors such as climate change and extreme weather patterns have also impacted golf revenues in recent years. Revenues earned have only been able to cover basic operational expenses with very limited and selected investment in capital.

Councillor Sharman told his colleagues that: “…we should have known about this all along.”

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nissan said he was on board for the change in the funding model – he did say as well that he has never played the course.

City manager  Tim Commisso told council that the location and its problem have been studied for years.  There was a time when the pressure from developers was intense.

Mayor Meed Ward made the point that the existence of the golf course is a benefit to everyone – much like the Paletta operation in the east end of the city.

Sharman later added that “we know the cost of everything but not the value.”

Council was clearly prepared to change the business model. Sharman seemed to sum it up: “‘this is the only way to go”  Hopefully that argument will stand up when it appears in the budget in 2022.

Some ongoing course maintenance and major capital renewal expenses have been deferred .

The net zero operating model for a municipally owned and operated golf course is quite unique to the City of Burlington. Most, if not all other municipal golf courses in Ontario, have some degree of tax-base support. For example, both the City of Hamilton and the City of Mississauga both operate municipal golf courses and are supported by the tax-base.

There are three primary types of operating models that exists within the RCC department presently. They are shown below with some examples of what types of services/assets are associated with each of them.

op model 1op model 2
When comparing Tyandaga to the other net zero locations noted in the chart above, Tyandaga offers recreational activities that the city directly intended for broader community access including youth golf and league play and a multitude of winter park causal play opportunities. Tyandaga is far more aligned with a sport field and public park as opposed to the commercially based net zero operations in the department. The net zero food service locations are commercial tenant-based / for-profit businesses that provide commercial food and beverage services (e.g. banquets, concession, restaurant).

On-the-other-hand, pools, arenas, parks and community centres are all financially supported by the tax-base, with a portion of their costs offset through user fees where appropriate (e.g. rental permits, registration fees and drop-in fees).
The ongoing sustainability of this operation, service and asset, as well as meeting the evolving needs and interests of the community is the basis for why a change to the operating model is necessary.

COVID-19 Impact on 2020 Operations:
Interest in golf has been strong and steady for many years, especially during this past season (2020). With the province wide shut down imposed in late March 2020, the opening of the golf course was delayed by over 6 weeks. When permitted to open, several restrictions were mandated which subsequently limited program offerings. The delayed opening and the limited program opportunities had a significant impact on the course’s ability to generate revenues to its fullest potential.

Through a strategic re-design approach in 2020, dedicated staff, and decent weather, the course saw 28,993 rounds of golf (80% capacity utilization) which then translated into an annual profit of $179,000. Under the current net-zero operating model, $77,411 of the profit was transferred to the vehicle depreciation reserve fund (VDRF) while the balance of $101,705 was transferred to the general Tyandaga reserve fund. Golfers, new and returning flocked to Tyandaga with great interest in participating in one of the first recreational opportunities reopened to the public.

Proposed Operating Model:
Through discussions with senior staff, the proposed new operating model must be guided by a key set of principles. These include:

• Service and Financial Sustainability
• Adherence to Asset Management principles and practices
• Allow for adaptations and adjustment to service levels to meet the needs of the community
• Supported by the Framework for Community Recreation in the City of Burlington (e.g. affordability, play for all ages / abilities, variety, access, etc.) *
• Align with the operating model that is most suited
• Phased in over time to ease the financial burden
• Promote active green space opportunities

phased in RCC 2022-2027

*The proposed new operating model was vetted through the methodology of the Framework for Community Recreation for the City of Burlington. This alignment includes the broad use of the land for a variety of recreational activities, with a focus on the fundamentals of play, ensuring access and affordability is at the forefront of the services provided, meaningful engagement with the neighbourhood and stakeholders, and to maximize use of the property, year round.

The proposed operating model for Tyandaga will look to align the program/service and assets/amenities to a typical RCC model; drawing on both user fees and the tax-base to support. This recommendation will position Tyandaga to be equal to a city pool, arena, sports field, community centre or park.

Phased in Approach (2022-2027)
To support this proposed change, staff are recommending this shift occur over a five- year phased in approach (2022-2027). This approach is recommended to slowly ease the financial burden onto the tax-base over time, as opposed to all at once. This new operating model has three distinct advantages:

rcc spending 3 years

• Sustainability: Both financial and service levels will have a higher degree of certainty and sustainability into the future.
• Growth / Change: This model will allow for new and exciting opportunities to be considered and introduced both for the golf course and for the park without the sole and limited reliance on the revenue produced by golf.
• Asset Renewal: All asset renewal will be planned for using the same asset management principles and practices throughout the city.

The asset will get renewed at the right time and be embedded within the broader capital budget prioritization process when competing for funding.

The phased in approach will begin in 2022, and span over five years into 2027 (2022- 2027). As shown below, there will be three distinct phases, slowly moving expenses over to the tax-base to support. To note for this year (2021), will operate as previously planned and budgeted for, following all COVID regulatory requirements.

Each phase will capture two years of operation with an assessment completed after each phase. Council will be informed of the progress of this process as part of Tyandaga’s annual update. Each phase will introduce financial requirements into the general tax-base. For example, in phase 1, the Golf Operation (revenues) will support the overall operating budget, as well as all fleet requirements, while general capital requirements will be transferred over to the tax-base to support. As part of the annual budget process each year (operating and capital), changes as noted in each of the three phases will be highlighted.

By 2026, Tyandaga will begin to implement a 5% surcharge on user fees which will then fund the Tyandaga reserve fund. This reserve fund will be used to partially support capital renewal needs at the course. This surcharge approach is used presently at pools, arenas and community centres.

rebuilding the reserve

• Fleet is the required equipment needed to maintain the greens. Fleet also includes snow clearing equipment needed to clear the parking lot in the winter months.
• The above model removes the annual ‘Payment in Lieu’ of $25,000 that Tyandaga had traditionally paid the RCC department for management overhead and to simulate property taxes within a net zero operating model.

Programs and Service Delivery during the Phases
Based on feedback heard, staff will look to create new programs and services over the 5 years and look to support some needed capital upkeep and repair.

Climate Implications
Burlington has been experiencing many extreme weather events that have negatively affected the golf industry throughout southern Ontario. The climate crisis directly affects the overall operations, causing later openings and early closures to the golf season which has negatively impacted the overall financial performance.
It has been five years since the City of Burlington received 191 millimeters of rainfall in 8-hours causing significant flooding and damage throughout the City. Since that date, we have consistently received major climate challenges year after year. Flooding, ice storms and draughts to name a few. Most recently, between April 1 and May 13, 2019 Burlington experienced 226 millimeters of rain adversely affecting participation, revenues and expenses at the golf course, a recent trend impacting the golf operation.

The Standing Committee decision:

Direct the Director of Recreation, Community and Culture to permanently phased-in over 2022 – 2026, a change to the Tyandaga operating model, shifting from the current net zero model to a tax-supported model funded by both user fees and the general tax-base, as outlined in recreation, community and culture department report RCC-01-21.

The matter goes to Council where it can be approved on May 18th.

Gazette reader Chris Ariens, posted a comment in the Gazette saying: “Ultimately we’re going to have to scale back on something. As a kid of about 12, the only way I was going to be able to afford to play golf was to get a junior membership at a public course. The pandemic has spiked golf demand as people are looking for any activity which they can do outside safely. Unfortunately the Province has closed golf courses, not because of the danger they pose but because of the bad optics.

“I’d say if we’re going to subsidize recreation, we need to ensure it remains reasonably affordable, especially for young people to be able to learn the game and participate.”

Joe Gaetan adds: “Having lived in Tyandaga for over 20 years, I vividly recall the last time the city or certain councillors decided they needed to look into “what to do” about the golf course. The motive to me at the time and probably still is, was how could the city develop some or all of this land to unlock the financial potential of this lovely piece of green space.

“At that time, the city with involvement of Tyandaga residents, undertook a very in depth and detailed study of the options. Before anybody does anything, they need to resurrect that file and look at all the hard work that was done at the time. There will always be a councillor or two who wants to turn all or parts of Tyandaga into a multi million home development. Pay attention folks.”

In the staff report the Recreation, Community and Culture department noted that the city did use reserve funds to pump $4 million plus into the LaSalle Park Marina.

 

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Halton Region opening new COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic in Burlington

News 100 redBy Staff

May 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Wednesday, May 12, Halton Region will open a new COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Gary Allan Learning Centre at 3250 New Street in Burlington.

Lots of parking space

Starting today, eligible residents can book to their vaccination appointments at the new location through Halton’s online booking system.To book an appointment CLICK HERE.

“Based on expected supply, Halton Region is pleased to offer more options for residents to get their COVID-19 vaccine,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “We are making great progress on vaccinating our community, but our ability to open appointments to more eligible groups and expand vaccination options remains dependent on ongoing and predictable supplies from both the Provincial and Federal governments.

In addition to our new Burlington clinic, we also have capacity in our current clinics to significantly increase what we are doing now – we are ready to get more people vaccinated as we receive more vaccines from the Federal and Provincial governments.”

Halton Region now has seven COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics across the region, operating seven days a week. In addition to opening the new Burlington location, clinic hours will be extended into the evening at the FirstOntario Arts Centre location in Milton starting May 18. This will provide more options for residents to book their vaccination appointments at a time most convenient for their schedules. Residents are reminded that all appointments must be made through Halton’s online booking system and walk-ins will not be accepted.

“Getting more people vaccinated each and every day will help us get closer to achieving community protection,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “I encourage everyone to book their appointments when it’s their turn. The best vaccine for you is the first one you are offered and the more people we are able to vaccinate each and every day, the closer we can get to returning to normal.”

Halton Region Public Health is reminding all residents to continue to adhere to public health measures, regadless of vaccination status. This includes staying home as much possible, only going out for essential reasons and only gathering indoors or outdoors with their households. When out in public for essential reasons (getting groceries or medicine, attending medical appointments or work) or enjoying outdoor activities, residents are reminded to wear a mask and keep a two-metre distance from anyone outside their households.

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Aerial spraying of pesticides to curb gypsy moth infestations

News 100 greenBy Staff

May 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

gypsy-moth-caterpillar

A gypsy-moth as a caterpillar

 

As part of its Integrated Pest Management program, the City of Burlington will be using a low-flying helicopter to aerial spray a bio-pesticide over four wooded areas to help control gypsy moth populations. The gypsy moths eat the leaves of trees, causing significant defoliation and potential long-term impact to the City’s urban forest.

The areas identified for spraying include:

City View Park
Kilbride Park
LaSalle Park
Zimmerman Park.

The spray program will occur over two days, between May 10 and June 10, 2021. The exact dates and time for the aerial spray are dependent on weather conditions, as well as the development of the insect.

Spray dates will be posted on the City’s Twitter and Facebook accounts @CityBurlington and online at burlington.ca/gypsymoth at least 48-hours before the spraying.

Steve Robinson Forestry Manager

Steve Robinson, Manager of Urban Forestry

Manager of Urban Forestry explains what this is all about: “We need to take action to reduce the gypsy moth population in order to maintain the health of our valuable urban forest. Currently, populations are expected to be too high for their natural predators to keep them in check. By applying a biological pesticide with a measured approach, we will be able to reduce pest populations to manageable levels. Protecting our urban forests is a priority for the City as it greatly impacts our health, homes and recreation.”

Quick Facts

• The City’s contractor will be applying a Class 11 biopesticide, Foray 48B, REGISTRATION NO. 24977 PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS ACT, with active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis ‘kurstaki’.

• Application of the pesticide with be completed between 5 and 7:30 a.m.

• Bacillus thuringiensis ‘kurstaki’ (Btk) is a soil-borne bacterium that is applied to the leaves of affected trees while caterpillars are in their early stages of development. Once ingested, the bacterium disrupts the caterpillars’ digestive system with cessation of eating within 24-48 hours. Within days, caterpillars that have ingested Btk will succumb to its effects.

aerial spraying gypsy moth

Low level helicopter spraying.

• Btk does not have any negative effects to humans, birds or bees. Btk will affect other caterpillar species (known as non-target species). Due to its low residual nature and the narrow spray window due to larval development, the non-target impact is expected to be low.

• Individuals who have concerns should take reasonable precautions to avoid exposure during a spray program in the same way they would avoid pollen or other airborne materials during days when air quality advisories are issued. Residents can also reduce exposure by staying indoors with windows and doors shut during the spray period if spraying is taking place in their area, although this is not required by health officials.

• European Gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a non-native invasive pest that was introduced in the late 19th century. It was first discovered in Ontario in the 1960’s and has been a major defoliator of deciduous and coniferous trees across Southern Ontario.

gypsy moth

Gypsy moth once is has matured from a caterpillar

• As part of Burlington’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, Forestry staff assess sites annually across the city and conduct egg mass surveys to determine areas that have exceeded an action threshold, whereby natural processes can no longer maintain pest population levels on their own. Although healthy trees can generally withstand defoliation several years in a row, trees which are already in distress from problems such as acute drought, compacted soils, diseases or other pests, may decline and die. Generally, healthy trees which are defoliated in spring, will leaf out again by mid-summer. Gypsy moth populations tend to be cyclical, with peaks every 8-12 years, followed by dramatic population decline of the pest.

• The City of Burlington last conducted a similar program in 2019. Program frequency is determined as part of the city’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

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The winning entry to name the Jane McKenna rubber chicken: The Dirty Plucker

graphic community 5By Staff

May 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The late Jane Irving once told city council that the city is now known as “Borington”.

Might be boring but it does have a sense of humour.

rubber chicken 1

The rubber chicken now has a name: The Dirty Plucker. We might donate the chicken to the Historical Society

Late in April the Gazette did a piece on the “chicken little” statements MPP Jane McKenna made in the provincial Legislature;we  added an illustration of a rubber chicken that was on life support.

We asked Burlington residents to suggest a name for the chicken.

There were many, not hundreds but a respectable response –  the one that was the best of the lot was: The Dirty Plucker.

There has been no response from MPP McKenna – that’s a fact.

Good contest.  All in fun.

We need some levity in these times.

Related news story

McKenna’s version of the facts.

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Positive Relationships with Police and Public Safety - are both possible during a pandemic

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 10TH, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 Part two of a two part article.

Chief of Police Stephen Tanner met with city council virtually last week – covered the full spectrum of what they do for the municipalities in Halton .

Chief Tanner 2

Chief Tanner in conversation virtually with Council.

In 2020 there were 44,675 calls for service to the police; impaired driving charges increased by 100% during part of 2020 when bars and restaurants were closed.

Police officers now have much more in the way of personal devices that help get the job done.  He said he expects that in the not too distant future they will be able to finger print a person on the spot and be able to access RCMP and Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC)  data banks. Chief Tanner certainly liked it.

In the past the police used to transport 300 to 400 individuals who were in custody to court hearings.  The advent of virtual hearing via Zoom has basically ended the need for that service.

During the question and answer part of the meeting the Chief mentioned that there was going to be an additional court house operation somewhere on the South Service Road, he paused and wondered aloud if he was supposed to be making those plans public.

The comment that caught people by surprise was word that the police were not going to be involved in the public patrolling of parks and other places where large numbers of people gather.

A comment made at council meeting last week that a city staff member had been involved in an incident that put her personal safety at risk brought the approach the Chief had suggested into question.

If the police cannot be called upon when there are public safety issues who do municipal administrations turn to?

During the council meeting mention was made of the mounted patrol Toronto has and the appearances they make in parks.  Burlington doesn’t have mounted police officers but there are a lot of bicycles that could be used.

Chief Tanner hard look

Tickets handed out by police do not result in positive relationships.

Media were not able to learn who the staff person was and just what had happened; only that the Spencer Smith Park Ambassador program was on hold until the there is more information.

During the virtual session with the police Chief Tanner talked about the police relationship with the city. Mention was made of the number of tickets that were handed out by police – did not result in positive relationships.

Expect there to be discussions about the quality of the relationship with the police and the matter of public safety.

Part 1 of a two part article

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MPP calls members of Opposition 'Chicken Littles': arts community recognized her efforts.

graphic community 3By Staff

May 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Last chance:

The Gazette, wanting to support local artistic efforts, is offering a prize for the best name that can be found for this sweet little bird.

The prize will be a $50 gift card or a donation of $50 to the Burlington Food Bank.

The contest ends at the close of Mother’s Day.

Send your suggestions to chickenjane@bgzt.ca

On April 21st, Jane McKenna rose in the Ontario Legislature and spoke to the current pandemic. She portrayed members of the opposition as “chicken littles” who needlessly and inaccurately exaggerated the seriousness and impacts of the pandemic for political advantage. For a politician who has demonstrated a remarkable degree of tone-deaf insensitivity in the past, her performance was a high (or low) mark.

McKenna in the legislature

MPP Jane McKenna in her best dark blue Conservative suit calling the Opposition “Chicken Little”

Sometimes, when faced with leaders who betray a complete lack of awareness and social conscience, it is best to turn indignation into humour, or farce or satire to better isolate and scorn the behaviour. The ‘Chicken Post’ is such an attempt. It responds to callous indifference by shining the light of humour. It “belittles” (pun intended) one who should have known and acted far better.

Those are the views of one, pen in hand, Burlingtonian.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna stood up in the Legislature and laid out the fact about the Covid19 pandemic.  That is where we learned of the Chicken Little speech she gave.  It lasts just over a minute.  Scroll down the link and click on the video. Get there and Have a listen.

Others with a different artistic bent wanted to help the MPP visualize what she had the temerity to say in the Legislature. They doubled down on their artistic talents and sent a little chicken to Jane McKenna.

rubber chicken 1

A chicken on a respirator in need of a name.

This lovely piece of local art should be donated to the Historical Society once Ms McKenna has displayed it in her constituency office and had it photographed for use on her election signs come June of 2022.

The Gazette, wanting to support local artistic efforts, is offering a prize for the best name that can be found for this sweet little bird.

The prize will be a $50 gift card or a donation of $50 to the Burlington Food Bank.

The contest ends at the close of Mother’s Day.

Send your suggestions to chickenjane@bgzt.ca

 

 

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Rapid testing available now to help keep workers safe in small and medium-sized businesses

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative for small and medium-sized businesses across the province.

The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses through participating local chambers of commerce and other organizations. The program will screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to keep workers and their families safe and businesses open.

More than 760,000 rapid test kits have already shipped to 28 chambers and more than 50 others have expressed interest in participating.

rapid testing kit

Rapid testing kit – Non-chamber members with 150 employees or less are welcome to participate in the initiative.

“With the success of the StaySafe Rapid Testing Pilot in Waterloo Region, expanding rapid testing to small and medium-sized businesses across the province will help keep people working and safe,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

“Adding rapid antigen testing to the arsenal of protections for small and medium-sized businesses, especially in regions with hot spots, is one more important step towards keeping businesses open and economic recovery.”

“The rollout of the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative through local chambers of commerce will make rapid tests accessible for more employees of small and medium-sized businesses,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “This initiative is providing Ontario’s hardworking business owners with more tools to prevent outbreaks and will ensure their employees can stay on the job with the best protection possible.”

“Our government’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians. As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, testing remains a key component of Ontario’s pandemic response,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“By supporting the use of rapid antigen tests by more businesses, our government is helping to provide an additional layer of protection for workers and their families.”

Ontario has already begun delivering rapid testing kits through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program to workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, the supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. As of April 30, about 7.6 million rapid antigen tests had been sent through the program to nearly 1,500 workplaces.

This includes nearly 200 essential industry sites, most of them in hot spot areas.

The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program and delivers tests into the hands of small and medium-sized businesses across the province.

rapid test - finer prick

Simple finger prick – with results in 15 minutes,

Making COVID-19 rapid tests accessible to all small and medium-sized businesses is part of a greater strategy to decrease the impact of COVID-19 on the people of Ontario and the economy. This includes stay-at-home measures, paid sick days, education campaigns on how to stay safe, significant testing and tracing capacity, and a robust vaccination distribution plan to make sure that every Ontarian who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated.

Quick Facts
• To contact participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade about the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative, visit the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

• Non-chamber members with 150 employees or less are welcome to participate in the initiative.

• The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative applies to businesses allowed to be open under current orders.

• The StaySafe COVID-19 Rapid Screening Pilot program in Waterloo Region is a collaboration among the Government of Ontario, Health Canada, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and participating member chambers, and Communitech.

• There are more ways for organizations to easily find out how to access rapid antigen tests. Visit ontario.ca/testingonsite to find out more.

• A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g., on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes about 15 minutes to yield a result.

• Rapid antigen point-of-care testing does not replace public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene. Any positive results from a rapid antigen point-of-care test must be confirmed with laboratory-based chain reaction (PCR) testing.

• Employees can self-swab using a COVID-19 rapid test under the supervision of a trained employee or business owner.

• Frequent screening with rapid antigen tests increases the chances of early identification of cases in otherwise asymptomatic individuals.

• Organizations participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program can now search for a service provider offering point-of-care rapid testing services through a directory on the Ontario Together website. Service providers offering point-of-care COVID-19 testing services can also apply to be listed.

• Ontario has also released guidance for individuals or organizations that choose to participate in COVID-19 testing that falls outside of the public health care system, to ensure there is appropriate oversight and consumer protection and that public resources are supporting public health initiatives.

 

 

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Get involved and have your say on what your community should look like when your grandchildren are adults

graphic community 2By Pepper Parr

May 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The look and feel of the Burlington we live in today is the result of decisions made decades ago.

The Regional government is running a series of public meetings to give the public an opportunity to have their say.

Regional boundaries

What do the four municipalities in the Region want their communities to look like ?

The Provincial Growth Plan mandates that Halton plan for 1.1 million residents and 500,000 jobs by 2051. Halton is reviewing the Regional Official Plan to meet this direction and remain responsive to our community’s needs.

As part of this review, the Region has developed different Growth Concepts outlining how and where Halton could grow by the year 2051. They have also prepared Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) 48, which is being considered by Regional Council. ROPA 48 provides direction on how to accommodate future growth in existing urban areas.

Conserving the environment and making room for foreigners with environmental training is part of a new Conservation Halton initiative funded by a Trillium Grant

Is this part of the Burlington you want?

• Take the short questionnaire: Visit halton.ca/ropr to provide your input.

• Attend a virtual Public Information Centre (PIC): Each PIC includes a presentation from Regional planning staff, a question and answer period, and breakout rooms for discussion. Recordings will be posted to halton.ca/ropr.

• Discuss the Growth Concepts with a Regional planner: To book a virtual meeting for yourself or a small group, please visit halton.ca/ropr or call 905-825-6000, ext. 7772.

Fairview 2 x 20 storey

Those new to the Region are going to have to live somewhere – is this the kind of development we should have?

2021 Virtual Public Information Centres (PICs)
Join one of the Region’s virtual Public Information Centres (PICs) online or by phone!

Dates
Halton Hills: Tuesday, May 4 at 7 p.m.
Milton: Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m.
Burlington: Tuesday, May 11 at 7 p.m.
Oakville: Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m.
North Aldershot: Monday, May 17 at 7 p.m.
Region-wide: Tuesday, June 29 at 7 p.m.

How to join
Online: Visit halton.ca/ropr on the date of the PIC to join.
By phone: Call 1-855-703-8985 (toll-free).
• Meeting ID: 970 665 2261
• Passcode: 858099 (if requested)

 

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Bentivegna cautions council colleagues about taking on budget issues without input from finance

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Angelo - not getting it -deferal

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna cautioning his colleagues.

It was a day that ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna will remember for some time and you can be pretty certain that he will be mentioning it often during the 2022 municipal election – assuming of course that he runs for a second term.

Bentivegna has positioned himself as the man who watches the numbers – the vast majority of his questions are related to the level of sending by this council.

And this is a tax and spend council.

Last week Council went through a report from Parks and Recreation who operate the Tyandaga Golf course with a suggestion that it was time to look at a different model for the operation of the golf course.

The Gazette reports on that discussion in a separate news article.

The gist of what Rob Axiak, who has the golf course file, was putting forward the argument that it was time for the financing model to become one that is tax payer supported – meaning that there would be a tax supported contribution to the operation of the golf course. It would not rely on just tee time fees.

Tyandaga golf club

The Tyandada golf course cannot earn enough to cover all the costs – support from taxpayers is being suggested.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, who knows the Tyandaga part of the city very well – used to represent that part of the city – wants to see a couple of hundred million dollars home on the land. His thinking appears to be aligned with that of the city manager.

The Tyandada golf course cannot earn enough to cover all the costs – support from taxpayers is being suggested.

Later there was another in depth discussion about the fees that are part of the controversial private tree bylaw – controversial to those who apply to cut down a tree on their property.

The golf course was not the only thing council seemed to be prepared to add to things the public would pay for.

Council Sharman set out an example where removing three mature trees from a property would result in a cost of $16,000.

It was suggested that this too could become a tax supported program – the argument being that everyone benefits from the privately owned trees in the city.

The story behind the private tree bylaw will be covered soon.

Angelo B

Bentivegna doesn’t want to be part of a tax and spend council.

Bentivegna doesn’t want to be part of a tax and spend council.

Both proposals are expected to be heard at the Council meeting on May 18th at which point those ideas could become a bylaw requiring the finance department to find a way to add this spend into the 2022 budget.

Councillor Bentivegna argued that the spending would normally be part of the creation of a budget and setting the tax rate was instead being debated without input from the finance department.

 

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Ford of Canada donates $100,000 worth of hand sanitizers to Food for Life

graphic community 5By Staff

May 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ford of Canada has donated more than $100,000 worth of hand sanitizer that will be distributed to Food for Life partner organizations through the Halton and Hamilton region.

The sanitizer will benefit more than 80 of Food for Life’s Community Partners.

Ford sanitizer 1

Food for Life feeds people – now they can help their partners ensure that their staff and premises are kept clean.

“Supporting our local communities has always been a part of what we do at Ford of Canada,” said Bev Goodman, president, and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. “We’re pleased to be donating $100,000-worth of hand sanitizer to an organization like Food for Life who will distribute it where it’s needed most, across more than 80 community groups that it serves.”

The distribution of hand sanitizer to partner organizations ensures that community members not only have access to healthy food, but that they also have access to much-needed, and often costly, Personal Protective Equipment.

Ford sanitizer 4

Sanitizer arriving at the Food for Life warehouse

“Ford’s donation to Food for Life is a testament to the generous and cooperative nature of our community,” said Graham Hill, Executive Director of Food for Life. “We are honoured and thankful that Ford of Canada entrusted the team at Food for Life to ensure this sanitizer reaches the organizations who need it most.”

This most recent donation is not the first time Ford has stepped up to address food security across the region; each year a number of Ford employees support Food for Life by volunteering their time for food sorts as well as other activities.

Food for Life is a community leader in ensuring everyone has access to healthy food. GOOD food, impacting lives.

If you or someone you know requires food, please contact Food for Life at 905.635.1106 or email goodfood@foodforlife.ca.

 

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John Street between Maria Street and James Street will be closed for a week

notices100x100By Staff

May 7, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

road closedRoad closure: John Street – May 10 to 14, 2021

John Street between Maria Street and James Street will be closed

Monday, May 10 at 7 a.m. to Friday, May 14 at 6 p.m. for sewer and watermain installation.

Local access will be maintained and through traffic will be detoured around the block.

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42% of Halton residents have had at least one vaccination dose

News 100 redBy Staff

May 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

As of Thursday, May 6, 2021, 218,614 doses have been administered in Halton to priority populations identified by the Province.

This represents about 42 per cent of Halton’s population who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccination status dashboard on the Region’s web site –  www.halton.ca/COVIDvaccines  – is updated Monday to Friday between 12 and 2 p.m.

Information on eligible residents and appointment dates is set out below.

 

Schedule for Vaccine Booking Eligibility_Age Groups_MAY6_IG 3

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Police service in Burlington - what you get for the $100.81 per $100,00 of assessment on your tax bill

Crime 100By Staff

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a two part article.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner took part, virtually, in a delegation that told the public much more than they have heard from a police chief in some time.

10 burlington structure

The short version of what the Regional Police do in Burlington.

Inspector Bob Gourlay who runs the Burlington detachment of the Regional Police took council through a slide deck with all kinds of data which the Chief commented on at length later in the delegation.

This will be a two part article – the slide deck now and then what the Chief had to say.

 

Burlington was where Chief Tanner started his career as a police officer.  He went on to serve in Belleville, Kingston and returning to Burlington as Halton Region Chief of Police in 2012.

1 Burl compliment

Many of the police resources are at headquarters which are in Oakville. Burlington has a full compliment including DUST, DRT, Criminal Investigation, high school and public school liaison officers.

2 B&E

Break and Enter into homes is down – people are working from home keeps the thieves away.

 

 

4 Inter persona intimate calls

The data points to the difficulty some people are having in dealing with the pandemic. Cooped up in a house where the relationships between the occupants are not that good is a recipe for a lot of personal pain.

5 drugs

The calls police get on drug matters tends to be related to the legal retailers and the product they are selling.

6 ride

With traffic on the roads (QEW excepted) roadside tests are lower.

7 motor vehicle

Fewer cars on the road – fewer collisions.

8 traffic complaints

Data is consistent over the two year period.

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Hospital President assures public we will 'cross the finish line together'

News 100 blueBy Eric Vandewall

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This week, I would like to offer a message of hope in these uncertain times, and a call for kindness and compassion.

These past 14 months have been incredibly difficult for everyone. The long, difficult road we have all travelled has transformed our lives in ways we could ever imagine.

Eric Vandewall

JBH President Eric Vandewall

Without question, we have all made difficult sacrifices, from in-person connections suddenly ending, sports and activities cancelled indefinitely, and having to adjust to new health and safety provisions intended to protect us. So much anxiety comes from not knowing if the worst is yet to come, or when we will be able to put this pandemic behind us. Those feelings and experiences can have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing.

This week is Mental Health Week. Now, more than ever, please check in on each other and take some time to reflect on your own mental health. A kind gesture goes a long way in making someone’s day better. Let other people know that you are thinking about them, send them a reassuring message, and use kind and inclusive language. Also, know that it is OK not to be OK. If you are struggling, it is vital to open up to someone who you trust or seek out mental health supports available, including virtual supports.

Finally, I would like to offer some hope. Over the past few days, there has been a slight downward trend in not only the number of daily new COVID-19 cases but also in daily COVID-19 critical care hospitalization occupancy rates. While this is early positive news for all of us, and in particular, for our amazing staff and physicians at the hospital, please remember that hospitals in many parts of the province remain under considerable stress. Halton Region continues to see the highest number of cases now since the beginning of the pandemic.

The situation remains precarious, yet hopeful. In terms of our hospital’s capacity, today JBH is at 83% capacity. We are currently caring for 17 patients with confirmed COVID-19 as well as presumed and resolved cases – 12 of the confirmed COVID-19 patients are in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The most important thing we can all do to continue to drive daily case numbers down, is to continue to follow public health measures, follow the lockdown guidelines, and get your COVID- 19 vaccination when it’s your turn. I ask you to continue to wash your hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distance.

Together, we will get through this. The road behind us has been a long one, and I can promise you that with your help, we will all cross the finish line together.

 

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It is getting dangerous out there - staff are at risk and getting hurt

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Council went into a Closed Session yesterday on six different items; one of which related to a person (believed to be a staff member) who could be named- thus the need for privacy.

There are reports that a city employee was harassed, or injured while doing their job.

There is basically no information but the city has suspended its Park Ambassador program.

Someone was hurt.

Staff put forward all kinds of information on city policy related to workplace violence.

bylaw options

 

Earlier today Regional Police Chief Tanner told council during a virtual delegation that the police would not be getting involved in matters relating to how people in the parks behaved.

Everyone was walking away from the issue and saying that it was going to be up to the public to be cautious and tell the bylaw people that they saw a problem y calling the Covid hot line that few people even know exists.

The number is 905-825-4722: write it on the palm of your hand or the cuff of your shirt because things are getting nasty out there.

The best the city seems to be able to do is issue a communication to the public.

Amber Rushton

Amber Rushton

Amber Rushton, a city staff member that Tim Commisso once said he could not do without, provided some data that normally comes from the Public Health Unit.  She has commented in the past on her difficulties with them.

Rushton was providing data on the damage and the impact the Covid variants were having on the transmission and level of infections.

The last line of the statement she read out is truly troubling: “Mental health tribulations, civil unrest, anti-government movements, social isolation strains = short term crisis + Long Term Community Recovery.”

In my experience as a reporter I have never heard a civil servant make a statement like that in public.  I bounced that off people who have deep civil service experience – their experience was the same.  Rushton was not wrong; however the solution to the issues she highlighted are not better public communication.

ashton data

Denise Beard -stern

Denise Beard: in the seven years we have covered Ms Beard and her work at city hall we have never seen her as concerned and disturbed as she was today.

Denise Beard, one of the Parks and Recreation managers said “there was a violent incident that came up in the Closed session of Council” that took place yesterday.

A bylaw department staffer said that “no one thought this would happen – there is a lot of animosity out there”

When the idea of creating the Park Ambassadors positions someone said they were going to be on site to help people enjoy a “Disney like experience”.

Ward 2 Councilor Lisa Kearns said the public needs to be warned about what not to expect in the parks and asked “why is nothing being done about the way people are congregating in the parks. This is getting dangerous.”

Stolte May 5

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Councillor Stolte wanted to know: “How do we communicate this to the public adding that “we need to land a message that explains what we can and what we cannot do to protect the public.”

It is going to take more than more signs – a change in public behavior is what city hall is asking for.

City manager Tim Commisso added that “that’s the crux of what we face” adding “the public is not aware” and that this is another opportunity to look at our communication plans.

Kwab Ako-Adjei, Director of Communications for the city said his people are working with the bylaw staff on a communications plan adding that there would be massive blow back from the public.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told council that she had a meeting with police and bylaw people and met with the communications people to develop some initial material for members of Council and their staff.

The solution seems to be that the onus is for individuals to follow the guidelines – which at this point is to Stay at Home – that rule is in place until May 20th.

This is an important story.  It impacts everyone who lives in Burlington and gets out to enjoy the parks and get some fresh air.  When a staff member with significant field experience uses words like “Civil unrest, anti-government movements” and points out that “short term crises” = Long Term Community Recovery we need to pay close atention

Unfortunately not everyone in Burlington reads the Gazette – would you make a point of sharing this story with ten people in the city you know.  The message is critical – we are in serious trouble.

 

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What electronic games do Canadians play most?

sportsgold 100x100By David Burke

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Nowadays, the choice of games that are available to players can satisfy everyone’s needs.

pic for Burke PAIDFrom shooters and sports games to puzzles and online slots, the worldwide market is full of options. And Canada being among the 10 biggest gaming markets in the world, let’s take a look at the most popular video games played in the Great White North.

Fortnite

When Fortnite was released in 2017, it took the world by storm. Canadian amateurs and professionals also flocked to this free-to-play battle royale video game. While Fortnite Battle Royale became a cultural phenomenon, there are two other modes that players can opt for, Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite Creative.

PAID Casino tops

Online wagering has a growing market share. It appears to be what people are looking for.

Moreover, the game’s art style, gameplay, and progression system were well-received by the critics. Its popularity is further increased by various promotions like Fortnite-themed clothing, Fortnite-based Nerf blasters, and even Funko Pop! figurines, as well as the fact that it can be played on various platforms, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PS5, and Xbox One and Series X/S.

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground
Another multiplayer battle royale game that is popular in Canada is PlayerUnknown’s Battleground. Also known as PUBG, it is one of the best-selling and most-played games in the world. Available on iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia, the game’s objective is to get rid of other players and be the last surviving player or team. The safe area is decreased over time, just like in Fortnite. While PUBG has been banned in certain countries like Pakistan and India for being too violent and addictive, it is widely available to Canadians.

Apex Legends
After the success that PUBG and Fortnite had, EA decided to try its hand in the battle royale arena as well. In 2019, Apex Legends was released on Windows, Xbox One, and PS4 to positive reviews. The Nintendo Switch version followed in March 2021 while Android and iOS versions are expected to be released in 2022. Playing in teams of two or three, participants look for weapons and supplies that will help them defeat their opponents.

Dota 2
In terms of online multiplayer battle arena games, Dota 2 is dominating the field despite the fact that it came out in 2013. Almost a decade later and Canadians are still crazy about this game. What is more, Dota 2 is very popular, although it is only available on Windows, Linux, and macOS. The game requires plenty of strategizing as the goal is to destroy the other team’s base, aka the Ancient. Each team consists of five players whose characters have unique skills and abilities that need to be used together in order to win.

League of Legends
Released in 2009 for Microsoft Windows, League of Legends is also a multiplayer online battle arena game that has gained a cult following. Since then, the macOS version was also released in 2013. Similar to Dota 2, there are two teams of five players that battle each other, collect experience points, and purchase items to defeat their opponents. League of Legends is often considered to be the largest e-sport on the planet, as there are 12 leagues on the international competitive scene.

Minecraft
Although released in 2011, Minecraft has consistently been among the most popular games of the past decade and is currently the best-selling video game of all time. This sandbox game lets players explore and build a blocky, pixelated world. Minecraft has a few game modes, including survival mode where players have to build shelters as well as survive mob attacks, falls, suffocation, drowning, starvation, and other events. Creative, adventure, spectator, and hardcore modes are also available.

Online casino games
In addition to classic video games, online casino games are also popular in Canada. And since there is a wide variety of out-of-the-state casinos in the country, it’s always advisable to look for review websites like CasinoTopsOnline that list the best online casinos in Canada. That way players can find not only reputable spots for playing but also a huge array of games available. From baccarat and roulette to live poker and online slots that come in various themes, Canadians turn to these games as they are not only fun but a way to earn some money as well. Plus, the winnings are not taxed.

Mahjong
On the other hand, there are also players looking for something more casual, which is why online Mahjong is also a popular game. The reasons are quite simple – it is free, it doesn’t require any special gaming equipment, and anyone with basic computer skills can play it. Based on the famous Chinese board game, there are different levels that allow players to progress and keep it interesting.

baackgammon boards

Some of the Backgammon boards are works of art reflecting their long history.

Backgammon
Finally, backgammon is another game that has many fans in Canada. About 5,000 years old, this game has been adapted so that it can easily be played online for free. Strategizing is key to winning, no matter which version players choose. Furthermore, certain aspects of the game can be changed in order to suit the player. There is also the option of playing against the computer, which can help players hone their skills.

From MMORPGs through online casinos, and all the way to board games, Canadians enjoy all sorts of games. Did your favorite make the list?

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Tax Levy bylaw sets out what you have to pay and when payment is due. Deferral payment plan in place

budget 2021By Staff

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council approved the 2021 Tax Levy Bylaw at its meeting on May 5, 2021.

The bylaw allows the City to bill 2021 property taxes and set payment due dates for final tax bills on June 22 and Sept. 22, 2021. Final tax bills will be mailed in late May.

The 2021 Tax Levy Bylaw reflects the budget processes of both the City and Halton Region. The province provides the education tax rates.

Tax levy 2020-2021

City of Burlington 2020 and 2021 Urban Residential Property Taxes per $100,000 Current Value Assessment (CVA)

COVID-19 Property Tax Relief
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic impact, on March 3, 2021 Burlington City Council approved a 2021 COVID-19 Property Tax Deferral Payment Plan program. The application-based program provides relief to residents and businesses that continue to face financial hardship due to the pandemic.

deferred tax graphicEligible property owners who are unable to pay property taxes by the regularly scheduled tax due dates can apply to defer taxes under a pre-authorized payment plan. Those eligible may include unpaid balances from March 1, 2020 onward in the deferral plan and can choose which month they would like to start the monthly payments. The remaining options for start dates are June 1, or July 1. Equal monthly withdrawals will be made that will allow for the property taxes to be paid in full by Dec. 1, 2021.

Property owners enrolled in this payment plan will not be subject to penalty and interest charges as long as payments are made.
Please visit Burlington.ca/property tax for more information or email pap@burlington.ca to register.

Quick Facts
• The City of Burlington collects property taxes for the city, Halton Region and the Halton district school boards. The total combined tax levy for all three entities is approximately $439 million.

The city’s levy is $182 million; the city collects $141 million on behalf of Halton Region; and $116 million on behalf of the Halton district school boards. The taxes levied for Halton Region and the Halton district school boards are remitted to them.

• Burlington City Council approved an increase to the Low-Income Seniors Property Tax Rebate. For eligible property owners, the rebate has increased from $525 to $550 for the 2021 tax year.

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CX - what does it mean? Your Customer Experience - city hall wants to change its culture and begin serving the people who pay the bills.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a bold statement that has been some time coming and it will be a few years before the Customer Experience is complete.

The opening statement in the presentation made to Council was that: “We are an empowered team, building lifelong relationships and trust, through outstanding customer service and innovative solutions.

The purpose is to put in place a Customer Relations Management (CRM) service that puts the people who rely on city hall first. For Burlington this is a massive shift – and at this point there is no guarantee that they will be able to pull it off.

They are giving it a lot more than the old college try.

Why even have a plan?
There are too many people who are just not happy with the levels of service. Parks and Recreation is seen as a problem area, Building permits is described as a daily disaster that can’t continue.

City manager Tim  Commisso, along with Executive Director Sheila Jones, have set out to change that with full council support.

The city administration knew that the level of service it had to deliver needed improvement.

The first cut of the customer service plan a number of months ago got a terrible reception – Councillors were not happy with the way the CRM team set up their email service.

Back to the drawing boards – the approach that Council saw Wednesday was a complete culture shift – which included collecting data that would help staff determine where the stress point in terms of communicating were.

They were in reality everywhere.

Angela Morgan got pulled as City Clerk and named as the lead for the CRM change.

Four stars and a heart

Get used to seeing that four star rating delivered with a heart – it is the logo for the Customer experience – now known as CX

There were five workshops in fall of 2020 involving 56 staff.  The drive is to centralize everything with CRM being the engine that does the delivering.
The size of the challenge was set out in five slides that identified where the work had to be done

Create Trust and confidence

Manage change

Enhance digit experience

Report on progress

Operationalize the CRM system

11 timeline

The timeline has CX implemented and working before the 2022 election. The \Mayor sees it as part of the platform that will get her re-elected.

The timeline doesn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes.  Pulling everything together with a timeline driven to some degree by an election is not the smartest approach.  Is the schedule set by the administration or the political needs of a council ?

3 full org look

It is almost as if there is a whole new department that will determine how all the other departments focus on the public and the service delivered to them. A couple of Council members had concerns over the degree of cultural change and the leadership and pressed the city manager to be sure he was fully on side,

 

Council was told that in order to ensure “that organization-wide, City staff  must clearly understand the CX Program’s role and value and are engaged early on to improve customer-facing initiatives.  If the CX Program is to be a trusted partner and advisor to all City services in the delivery of outstanding customer experiences greater cross-departmental collaboration on providing great CX are going to require a Customer-centric mindset.

These are heady statements – they were delivered with great enthusiasm – they began to sound like political campaign promises – which is what they were.

When fully implemented CRM will involve every nook and cranny of the city.

5 connections

Every nook and cranny of the city administration has been pulled into CRM.

.
The benefits and impact of the CX (that’s Customer Experience) will be an increase in the knowledge and application of CX practices across the City.  CX Program initiatives are viewed as opportunities for the organization and key stakeholders to feel comfortable, confident and committed. Leading practices for effective change management will lead to a structured approach to change, including individual change journeys•

The plan will be to communicate early, well and often through multiple channels with excitement and anticipation for CRM System implementation being evident everywhere.

Heady stuff indeed.

Digital CX is easy, simple, intuitive and accessible.  The CX Program will advocate for digital transformation and partner with Corporate Communications, IT Services and other stakeholders to provide outstanding digital services for the customer, including a modern City website that delivers outstanding digital CX

The ability to collect data and use that data to determine just what it is the public wants could and should lead to better servicd.

Council saw some data that supported that view

6 usage data

What do people want to know?  Mayor Meed Ward was surprised at the number of people who wanted to know more about their taxes.

9 request by type

City staff had to learn just what it was the pubic wants when they call city hall.  The graph set out below answers that question.  Information first and then service.

8 calls blue info grn serv

7 telephone

 

More to come on this story.

 

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Business license applications and portable sign use is lower - city is easing up on the enforcement side - smart move

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The level of service delivered by Staff is determined by city council.

With the day to day operation of the city in the hands of the Emergency Control Group who, from time to time, make a change in a service level due to the pandemic. The changes are brought to Council where they are approved or modified.

On Wednesday two services were revised.  The acquiring and paying for a business license and the use of portable signs.

The Enforcement Focus priorities at this time are:

Boston Fish sign BIG

Typical portable sign – the fish and chip shop went out of business

• COVID (Masks, Physical, ROA)
• Swimming Pool Enclosure
• Property Standards (safety only)
• Vital Services

• Taxi
• Firearms
• Fireworks (sales & storage)
• Fortification

The Licensing team administers new licenses/renewals and the By-law team ensures compliance. Late fees can be added to a license renewal fee if payment is not paid/received on or before the expiry date.

Business licensing is not an enforcement priority due to the current pandemic. This has impacted our service response to the customer, as well as the overall budget. Renewal notices have been sent to all businesses but due to the pandemic the majority of businesses have not responded. Businesses have been struggling due to the pandemic and the Provincial Orders over the last year.

Financial Implications:

• Below highlights the revenues and their impact on the budget. These figures represent Business License (new applications and renewals) and exclude other related licenses i.e. lottery.

business license revenue May5-21

There are typically 1100 licenses (new applications and renewals) on a yearly basis.

• We are seeing additional requests to cancel portable sign permits due businesses having to close due to the Provincial lockdown orders.
• To support these requests we have allowed the cancellation of the permits but do not provide a refund, as per the sign by-law.
• As an alternative we allow the client to apply the credit to a later session.
• This is a temporary process put in place at the beginning of COVID.
• Portable Sign revenue:

portable sign revenue

There are typically 600 portable signs on a yearly basis

The current Rates and Fees By-law 92-2020 under section 7 states:

“The fees and charges imposed by the City, as outlined in Schedule “A” to this by-law may be increased, decreased or waived completely by the Director to whose department the fee or charge relates, subject to any approved corporate policy.”

The practice of waving late fees and crediting portable sign permits is seen as reasonable as per the Rates and Fees by-law.

Recommendations:
Provide the Director of Building and By-Law and/or their designate, the delegated authority to make business decisions, such as deferring renewal licenses. This will assist the business community during the pandemic and post recovery.

Direct the Director of Building and By-Law and/or their designate, to continue to report the financial implications through the Chief Financial Officer as part of the ongoing financial COVID-19 impacts.

 

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