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Major new approach to housing development in the works - city wants to get in on the game

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 4 of a 4 part series

Last night there was a two hour Zoom event on the Housing Strategy your city council wants to put in place.

The city uses its Get Involved web site  program to spread the word. If you know about that part of the city web site – you can keep up to date with what the city is doing in terms of projects.

HS The panel

These are some of the people who took part in the Zoom event Monday evening. But that is not what this story is about.

The city doesn’t do a particularly good job of promoting that site.

Mostly of the members of Council did very little directing people to the event.

The Gazette  covered the event  and will report back to you.

But that is not what this story is about.

The Housing Strategy is one part of what the Burlington Lands Project (BLP) is all about. Never heard of the Lands Project? That doesn’t surprise us. It too has been poorly promoted

There is a link at the bottom of this article telling you what we know about the Project.

A few weeks ago there was a bit of a scramble by members of Council to get a seat on the BLP Steering Committee, where much of the grunt work is expected to get done.

The final decision on any development will be made by city council. The concern was this – would every idea get taken to city council or only those that the Steering Committee felt had merit and were worth taking to council?

Council couldn’t decide who the members of the BLP Steering Committee would be several weeks ago – it was left with the City Manager and the City Solicitor to come back with some suggestions.

Tim-Commisso-finger-up-hard-eyesCity Manager Tim Commisso reported last week that he talked to everyone involved and was not able to arrive at a consensus as to who should be on that Steering Committee and suggested Council discuss it.

The feeling that came out of Council was that the Mayor should be there along with the Chair of the Standing Committee the Steering Committee would report to. WHICH ONE

That didn’t go down all that well with ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman who really wanted to be on that Steering Committee. Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte, the strongest talker on the Affordable Housing file, had a passionate hunger to be on the Steering Committee and argued that given that she was going to be the incoming chair of the Standing Committee the Steering Committee would be reporting to – she too should be on the Steering Committee to give it a sense of continuity,

Sharman was not impressed with Stolte’s bonafides and basically trashed her.

Commisso stareCommisso thought he might see every member of Council wanting to be on the Steering Committee – not something he was on for.

Here is how they settled it. None of the members of Council would be on the Steering Committee BUT every proposal and idea that came forward would be taken to council.

The Steering might rank their development preferences but Council would know everything that was discussed.
It will be interesting to see how that works out.

What you, the weary tax paying citizen can do is look in on the Zoom meeting this evening and give a listen and contribute your ideas on the affordable housing file.

The BLP is not just about housing – it wants to do more about getting more shovel ready sites in place for future job site.

The Economic Development people talk in terms of having 50 hectares of land shovel ready for development – there are less than 20 l hectares 0f shovel readyproperty at this point.

While there isn’t a lot of land left for employment sites – there are some sites that are zoned employment lands – the owners of those properties want to upgrade the zoning for residential.

Related news stories

The first we heard of the BLP

Just what is the Burlington Lands Project.

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Technology revisited

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Fully understanding and utilizing the technology available to us is put into context when you understand what we had in the past to meet our needs.

The following illustration is instructive.

technology

 

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Covid infections reported to be more than 1600 in one day - same day the province announces that malls can be opened

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

T- shirt - what part no

Is the province listening?

There was a great phrase I once saw many years ago on a button a woman was wearing.

It read: What part of No do you not understand?

That one stuck with me.

Today I am asking anyone who can respond: What part of the following do I not understand.

The province released updated Covid19 infection numbers – more than 1600 with ten new deaths.

On the same day we are told that Toronto and Peel have been moved to the grey zone and the malls will be opened – albeit at 25% of capacity and that they will be doing screening for everyone entering.

Did someone at the decision making level not understand the numbers? 1600 + – the highest since early February.

The virus is still hopping from person to person in the community. Clamp down until it is at the 100 a day and most of us are vaccinated.

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Men are going to have to begin to listen and learn to hear what is being said

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Woman’s Day 2021

Is it going to be different this year? If it is, I suspect we will not be aware of it right away – social change works that way.

Sorry

It is a starting point.

Is the #meToo movement behind us? It shouldn’t be. It’s work is not done yet.

The shift is taking place, more women are now serving on the boards of major corporations. Women are now heading up some of those corporations.

Sexual harassment, which is not always that well defined, but that is no reason for not tackling the issue head on.

It isn’t enough for woman to be standing up and telling about how they were mis-treated – some of the behaviour they experienced WAS criminal. Some was misunderstood – that however does not let men off the hook.

Changes are taking place within the world of both men and woman. I can’t speak for the woman in this world – they are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

My thoughts today are – how do men adapt. Awkward question – but it too has to be addressed.

pink-high-heels-men

That is a painful experience

Wearing pink high heels one day a year isn’t going to do it. Mouthing a couple of words when you think you might be quoted isn’t going to work either.

Men are going to have to begin to listen and learn to hear what is being said.

Women are equal – truth be told they really are more equal than men. They actually get it and are forgiving enough to understand that many men don’t get it.

Being forgiven doesn’t mean you continue with the old habits. Those habits came out of the society we men were raised in and while that doesn’t excuse the behaviour it is enough to allow us to reflect on what did take place and to resolve that we have to change.

Start with simple honest respect and learning to say you are sorry.

Most of us have experiences in our past that we are not proud of; today could be the day we think about what we did and resolve to be different.

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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Kearns is named valedictorian by her classmates - has completed a stiff management course

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On this day – dedicated to celebrating the achievements of the women in the community – let’s look at what one member of city council has managed to achieve.

Lisa Kearns went back to school this year and by the end of the week she will be able to put the designation: ICD.D behind her name.

That designations states that she successfully completed the course at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management.

Kearns - trhe like

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for ward 2 – a wicked sense of humour and an ability to drop great one-line zingers.

The classes were done virtually, which did not make them any easier. The certification is issued by the Institute of Corporate Directors – in the corporate world that counts.

Each class had about 40 people in it. Most were in what Kearns called the 40 years of age range, which probably says more about her age than she intended.

Those of you who follow Kearns will have been treated to her, at times, wicked sense of humour and her ability to drop great one-line zingers that she sometimes regrets saying – but she is who she is.

Her fellow students appear to have come to appreciate who she is – they made her the class valedictorian.

Lisa Kearns taking questions

Dangerous woman when she has a microphone in her hands.

How does she do it? The woman is the Mother of two children, a city Councillor as well as a Regional Councillor, who is a Full Press Monty participant at every meeting.

Getting the designation was important to Kearns who clearly has higher political aspirations adding that she “paid for the course.”   The courses are not cheap – think in terms of thousands – seven to be more precise.

Mayor Meed Ward is taking a similar course at McMaster. In a statement made by the Mayor at the time she said:  her courses were paid for by a benefactor she did not choose to name.

One has to wonder how that went over during the ethics part of the McMaster program.

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Parks and Recreation program registration opens March 13th

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Someone believes there is going to be a Spring followed by a Summer during which the city Parks and Recreation department will offer the best program it can and still abide by whatever COVID19 conditions are in place.

Registration for spring recreation programming opens March 13

Spring programs can be viewed now at burlington.ca/recreation.

Burlington residents can register for in-person, outdoor and virtual programs for Adults 19+, Adults 55+ on March 13 at 9 a.m. Registration for Youth programs will happen at 11 a.m. on March 13.

Pks and Rec registration
An account is required to register online. You can create an account or register at liveandplay.burlington.ca.

Residents can call 905-335-7738 for staff-assisted telephone registrations.

Anyone with questions or needing assistance can contact the Recreation, Community and Culture Department by email live&play@burlington.ca or if you need to speak to someone, call 905-335-7738 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends.

Haber - basketball

Everyone can’t wait until the COVID19 crisis is behind us. Gyms and play fields that have been closed will burst with activity. Can’t wait.

If restrictions change due to the pandemic, we will do our best to adjust and modify the program.
Safety requirements are in place for all programs and include Bring Your Own everything, and the requirement for masks for all non-physically active programs.

Anyone participating in an in-person program will need to fill out the mandatory health screening form at burlington.ca/screening before each session.

Outdoor programs will require participants to dress for conditions and will run rain or shine. Cancellations due to extreme weather conditions of thunder, lightning or high-winds or in the case of unforeseen staff absence will result in credits to affected customers.

Recreation Fee Assistance
Recreation is for all, regardless of financial situation. Recreation Fee Assistance is funding made available to resident individuals or families who need help to pay for City of Burlington recreation programs.

For more information or to apply, visit burlington.ca/feeassistance. You can also leave a confidential voicemail message at 905-335-7738, ext. 8501 and staff will return your call to assist you.

Chris Glenn

Director of Recreation, Community and Culture, Chris Glenn

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation, Community and Culture has said he is “ taking a cautious, phased-in approach to re-opening our recreation facilities. We want to welcome everyone back but we’re doing it with an abundance of caution to ensure staff and participants remain safe and have confidence in our safety procedures.

“Many of our programs for the spring will take place outside, too. For those who still want to enjoy our virtual programs, we still have our Active-at-Home videos and TelePALS running. Keep checking the website as we are adding more programming frequently.”

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Volunteers play a strong role in the lives of the people they help and enriching their own lives

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 7h, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Community Development Halton, the social planning not for profit that serves all of Halton is looking for a new Director of Volunteering.

They are seeking a dynamic creative individual with a passion for volunteerism and experience in community development to lead Volunteer Halton through its next phase of growth and development.

CDH logoThe Director of Volunteer Halton is an effective and experienced community development professional who works with community and nonprofit organizations agencies throughout the Halton region. The Director of Volunteer Halton is a member of the Community Development Halton’s Leadership team.

Community Development Halton (CDH) is a nonprofit organization committed to building a society in which diversity and equity are central to all aspects of our lives. Through volunteerism, community development, independent research, CDH mobilizes action to improve the quality of life of all Halton residents.

The successful candidate will report to the Executive Director, and will be responsible for a wide variety of functions including:

• Research and implement best practice and trends in volunteering internally and externally to the Halton community.
• Develop learning opportunities that build and maintain a core of active volunteers in the community.
• Provide operational and strategic leadership of Volunteer Halton and will be part of the CDH leadership team.
• Develop Volunteer Halton program, including overseeing the planning, development, and evaluation of Volunteer Halton services.
• Community liaison with stakeholders and government agencies related to development of Volunteer Halton.

Transit - seniors with Gould

The people at the table are not all volunteers – but they are being closely listened to by the Member of Parliament and the ward councillor at the time.

The successful candidate will bring to this role the following skills and experience:

• At least 5 years’ experience in a senior leadership role within the nonprofit sector
• A strong sense of community service.
• Post-secondary education in Volunteer Management, Human Resources.
• Leadership skills of integrity, honesty with the ability to inspire others.
• Strategic thinking skills, including project management expertise and an ability to prioritize competing demands.

• Experience in the development and management of online educational and training sessions and webinars.
• Strong Grant and Report writing skills.
• Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
• In-depth knowledge of Microsoft Office365 and virtual platforms.
• Strong public speaking skills.
• Strong motivational skills.
• A high degree of flexibility coupled with an ability to deal with high pressure, sensitive situations.

Application:

Community Development Halton is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from qualified individuals inclusive of groups that are traditionally under- represented in employment. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process.

Interested candidates are asked to forward their resume and cover letter, in confidence, detailing their qualifications and reason for applying to: office@cdhalton.ca. Please include position title in the subject line of email.

The Executive Director, Community Development Halton 3350 South Service Road
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6

Application Deadline: March 12, 2021

We thank all applicants for applying but advise that only those under active consideration will be contacted directly.

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1400 households fed in one month an increase of more than 40% over the previous year

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Week after week we report on the job the Burlington Food Bank is doing.  A job they do with absolutely nothing in terms of funding from the City or the Region.  It is the Region that is responsible for social welfare.

Jane F Food Bank

The volunteers show up -day after day.

The volunteers at the Food Bank toil away – day in day out.

The results for the past year are a little on the startling side.

Looking back at their numbers for February 2021 they served 1,400 households.  In February of 2020  the Food Bank served 1000 households.

Food-bank-fire-truck-690x437

Week after week – donors show up with a cheque or food.

That is a 40% increase and it just cannot be sustainable.

Families needed the assistance for many reasons and the Food Bank was able to help because of incredible community support here in Burlington.

Robin Bailey, Executive Director said: “We understand that needing help isn’t something you choose to do, it’s often due to changes in circumstances.   Sometimes you have to reach out for a little assistance and that’s why we’re here.”

 

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We were just unreasonable - not more than that.

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For a city that is unable to stop talking about being voted the best medium sized city in Canada to live in it is nice to know that we were not reprehensible, scandalous and outrageous

NationalHomes renderingThat finding came out of a decision made by John Douglas in an LPAT (Local Planning Act Tribunal) hearing that said:

The Tribunal further finds, that although unreasonable, the actions of the City did not rise to the threshold of being reprehensible, scandalous and outrageous.

The Tribunal awards costs on a partial indemnity basis. As per the Motion Record, the Applicant/Appellant is seeking an order for the Tribunal directing the City to pay costs totaling $28,481.62. Exercising its powers under Rule 23.10 of the Rules, the Tribunal is fixing costs on a partial indemnity basis (at 60%) in the amount of $17,088.97 plus interest.

The hearing related to the National Homes development on Brant Street that is now under construction. 233 townhouses will be built.

Related news story

Mayor wears this one.

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Rivers: My Conversation with the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

“I’ll slash funding for English TV and CBC News Network, and end funding for digital news.”

(Erin O’Toole – Feb 14, 2020)

He said it plain – no love wasted for the national broadcaster, even on Valentine’s Day.

Otoole hands out

Erin O’Toole – Defeated Andrew Scheer in the leadership contest – now he wants to form a government.

There were issues which I really wanted Erin O’Toole to clarify for me when I set out to request our interview. First, O’Toole has promised that his climate change plan would deliver faster carbon emission reductions than Mr. Trudeau’s plan. And he would do it without the provision of a carbon tax, which would be relegated to the dustbin in an O’Toole government. And he’d do all this while pushing for more oil pipelines and oil.

So what and where is it – this magic plan? Well it’s still a secret. It’s still being developed. It probably has to stay that way, until he becomes PM, so the NDP don’t take credit for inventing it should the Liberals implement it. The mind boggles.

Another issue is Mr. O’Toole’s preoccupation with firearms. It’s true he spent a good part of his life in the military, but he ended up as a flight navigator. You’d think he’d know more about a compass than a gun, so perhaps this is just pistol envy. Still he has made this a major plank in his platform.

He points out that the biggest trouble with today’s gun control is the lack of public education about guns. And then in one breath he declares that Canada’s firearms control system actually works really well, and efficiently.

And then in the next breath says that his top priority would be to scrap the existing Firearms Act. And he’d cancel the requirement for vendors to keep a record of who purchased guns. And while he was at it he’d also kill the legislation the Liberals recently introduced banning assault rifles, high capacity ammunition magazines and silencers.

otoole scratching head

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole figuring it out

That would mean potentially allowing powerful military-type weapons systems including the M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 firearms, onto our streets, or at least our gun cupboards. He has received an A grading by the lobbyist outfit CCFR (Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights).

O’Toole has gone after the Trudeau government for not doing more to stop the smuggling of firearms across the US border. And he may have the answer. Just make these weapons legal here as well, and smuggling would be unnecessary.

A third of his Tory membership are COVID action deniers. Or at least they want the governments to stop restricting economic activity and get back to normal, whatever that can be when this epidemic is killing our senior citizens and threatening to spread like wildfire. For example, Flamborough Glanbrook MP David Sweet, having himself come back, quilt-free, from a foreign vacation, says let it rip.

O”Toole himself is ignoring this growing chorus of voices around him who are telling him to be like Texas. You have to die from something anyway, right? But it does take a lot of courage to go after Trudeau for not doing enough to keep the virus out, when a sizeable chunk of his membership is saying let it be.

R B Bennett

It was the R. B. Bennet, a Conservative government that formed the CBC

Finally what is it with O’Toole’s promise to defund the CBC? It is a little difficult to appreciate why the federal Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has such a long standing animosity against Canada’s national broadcaster. After all, the CBC was a service originally initiated back in 1932 by R.B. Bennet, a conservative PM.

One might think the Tories object to the cost of the annual subsidy paid to the CBC, some $1.2 billion a year. But a sizeable subsidy is annually paid out to the other Canadian broadcasters, private though they are. And if it’s about the cost, why squash the English television and digital news services, ironically the only part of the corporation which brings in advertising dollars? It may actually cost more to kill the CBC than to keep it intact.

cbc The National

CBC – the country’s most trusted news source.

No question the other networks wouldn’t mind seeing the CBC gone. It’s still competition, even though they already have a much greater audience. But the CBC/Radio Canada is the most trusted news media in the country. And we are in the midst of a brave new world of fake news. One only needs to look south of the border and the role fake news played in the assault on the US Capitol.

In fact over 80% of Canadians support our national broadcaster and want to see the CBC continue and even expand its broadcasting agenda. So why would someone running for prime minister want to unstick the glue that in many ways keeps us all together, including our remote indigenous population and Francophone Canada.

otoole attacking

Erin O’Toole – knows how to fight back.

We do know that this contempt the Tories harbour for the national broadcaster goes back to the troubled relationship Mr Harper had with the media, and the CBC in particular. He even tried to set up his own news system and in the end the party turned to the right wing extremist paper, The Rebel. In fact a former director of the Rebel ended up running Andrew Scheer’s campaign.

Erin O’Toole, after being criticized for his party’s association with The Rebel, swore off giving any more interviews to that right wing rag. He must have sworn off the Burlington Gazette as well, because he and his office ignored my requests for an interview. I got an immediate automatic email thanking me for contacting him, both times, but then it was crickets. So we didn’t really have a discussion, but I’m still waiting for that phone to ring.

Rivers hand to face

 

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.

 

Background links:

Let the Pandemic Roll –    David Sweet –     Recovery Plans

Trust in the Media –     Polling –     Anti-Choice –

The Rebel –    Climate Plan –     CCFR

O’Toole on Guns –     CBC –     CBC Public Support

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Medical Officer of Health releases video for those getting vaccinations

News 100 redBy Staff

March 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Dr. Hamidah Megani, the Halton Region Medical Officer of Health, released s five minute video earlier today.

MOH full screenIt is worth watching

To do that CLICK HERE

 

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More than 15 thousand over 80 have registered for the vaccine shot. Doses are in place and locations being prepped.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Keeping up with what the political class has to say can be daunting at times.

Keeping the average person informed means tracking a lot of people.

tweet logoYesterday Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr tweeted; “We have registered 13,240 residents age 80 and older which is 26,480 appointments for both doses.”

He also tweeted this morning, “At one of our vaccination clinics. Our Halton team has registered 15,245 residents age 80 and older which represents 30,490 appointments for first and second doses.”

The schedule going forward looks like this:

vaccine roll out

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City has to write a developer a cheque for $17,088.97 + interest. Mayor has to wear this one

News 100 redBy Staff

March 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Correction:  The figure of  $281,481.62 should have been $28,481.62

The City has been ordered to pay costs in the amount of $17,088.97 plus interest, to the Applicant/Appellant, which in this case is National Homes, who are in the process of developing the property at 2100 Brant that will, upon completion, be a 233 town house development.

National Homes

The site used to be a hay field. The developer has named the property Tyandaga Heights

The city got hit because way back in 2017 National Homes made an application for amendments to both the Official Plan and the zoning on the property.

Marianne Meed Ward, who  was then the Council member for Ward 2, voted against the National Homes development.

National Homes took the city to LPAT (Local Planning Act Tribunal) for failing to make a decision within the required time frame.

They eventually resolved their differences at Pre-Hearing Conferences and signed Minutes of Settlement on November 20, 2018.

In October citizens had chosen a new Mayor and a significantly different Council – with just the one hold-over from the previous Council.

The inaugural meeting for the new City Council, with Meed Ward as Mayor, took place on December 4, 2018.

On December 17, 2018, the new Council held an in-camera meeting and decided to back out of the Minutes of Settlement.

We now know that the city decided to resile (which is lawyer speak for abandoning a position or a course of action) in that CLOSED meeting.

The National Homes people were ticked off and asked LPAT to award them costs of $28,481.62.  They got   $17,088.97.

That CLOSED meeting must have been a doozy – five of the seven people were brand new Councillors with precious little experience in matters like this.  Meed Ward knew what she was doing, Councillor Sharman would have been opposed – for the others – they may have left the room scratching their heads.

Several days before they had gone along with the Mayor on the firing of James Ridge, the then city manager.  Ridge certainly knew what was coming: days before he had told colleagues that if Meed Ward was elected he was toast.

The surprising part of that was – anyone who knew how to read tea leaves would have known that Meed Ward was what the public wanted.

Not as many feel the same way today.

 

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Tax payment deferral plan available

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It started out with;

Direct the Chief Financial Officer to implement a 2021 COVID-19 property tax deferral pre-authorized payment plan (by application) and report on the status as part of the ongoing monthly financial COVID-19 updates

Council approved property tax relief measures in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance included extended property tax due dates, waived penalty and interest on outstanding property tax from April to August 31 and a pre-authorized payment plan to pay remaining 2020 taxes between the months of August and December 2020.

Most taxpayers continued to pay on time, while some had difficulties.

Provincial and Federal governments continue to provide residents and businesses financial assistance programs relating to COVID-19.

The Ontario government declared a Provincial COVID-19 state of emergency January 12, 2021 effective January 14, 2021, ending on February 14, 2021. The current Provincial and Public Health measures may produce a continued financial hardship for some Burlington residents and business in 2021.

Here is what Council decided to do.

tax defer schedThey created an application-based deferral program consisting of pre-authorized monthly withdrawals to defer payment from our regularly scheduled due dates.  It would apply to all property classes (residential and non-residential) to be fair and equitable.

Balance can include any unpaid installments from March 1, 2020 and all of 2021 taxes

Taxes will be paid in full by December 1, 2021

Penalty/interest will be suspended for the duration of the deferral

Withdrawal start date chosen by the property owner.

Financial impact to the city  is dependent on the number of applications and total tax payments deferred. It amounts to a shift in cash flow of property tax revenues to later in the year.  The city will not collect penalty/interest revenue for months that taxes are deferred.

Taxes levied on behalf of the Region and school boards would still be paid on the normal schedule.

Eligibility criteria

tax defer criteria boxProperty taxes must be current prior to the pandemic (March 1, 2020)2

Property owners would need to attest that they are experiencing financial hardship directly related to COVID-19

The expectation is that property owners with tenants should be passing on the deferral arrangement.

 

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Parks and Recreation sets out their summer program plans

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Parks and Recreation people, despite feeling like a yoyo – open, closed, then open again only to be closed once more have set out a program that they hope will take on a life of its own

Nelson swimming pool

There will be a summer – what it will be like is almost a guess at this point in time.

•Adult / Older Adult Programs: Gradual return to more in person programming including the operation of the Seniors’ Centre and other locations like Tansley Woods, Haber and potentially Brant Hills. Mainway auditorium (group fitness and indoor pickleball) to remain closed for necessary capital renewal work.

•Tyandaga Golf to open early spring, weather dependent. General golf offerings with potential for smaller / modified league play. Tournaments not considered at this time.

•Summer Camps looking to be scaled back due to restrictions and facility availability and offered at City locations including Haber Recreation Centre. Development of more park pop up and play activities around the city.

•Student Theatre continues to operate various levels of programming & camps with potential use of both Student Theatre and BPAC.

•Teen Tour Band resuming in-person practices and supporting any local events. Not looking to do any travel over the summer months.

•Pools to be open including Nelson, Mountainside and LaSalle outdoor locations offering a variety of recreational swim opportunities and partnered clubs with limited swimming lesson programming.

Pk and Rec time line

Pk and rec space info

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Complete pay package for Councillors: more than half a million a year

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

One last look at Councillor salaries.

In an earlier report we gave data on the city side of the pay package.

The complete pay package for the seven members of Council who are also Regional Councillors is set out below.

total pay pkg 2019

Set out below is the full remuneration along with an explanation as to why Councillors Sharman and Bentivegna get less than the others.

Council remuneration

Both are over 65. The  reduction is due to benefits dropping off at 65, to which Councillor Sharman asks:

” is that fair?”

To be fair, this Council has worked hard.  There are times when they put in twelve hours days in back-to-back in public sessions and then have to get to their desks and catch up on the paper work.

This is not a cushy job.

Full council

These were the swearing-in-night smiles

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Major upgrade to ground floor of city hall - to include a grand entrance and changes to civic square

News 100 greenBy Staff

March 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City hall is going to get a new look – you won’t recognize the ground floor when they are finished.

Take the 33 second flyby to see what the end result is expected to look like – there will of course be changes to the design concept.

Members of Council who saw the details this morning loved the idea.

There is a lot more work to be done – but the plan is to get started late this summer or in the fall and get the work done in phases.

The phrase ‘One Window’ was applied to the plans – but there are actually two windows – one for what is now Customer Service and the other is for Development.  They aren’t windows but the place you go for services; pay parking tickets, get a document commissioned, apply for a marriage license.

The idea is to make the space much more customer friendly.

The plan is to have little pods – places where people can sit and talk; there will be small meetings rooms.

The public will not get much beyond the ground floor – staff will come to you on the ground floor.

ground floor new concept

This is a rendering of what is being thought through.

The building is badly in need of an upgrade.  The last renovation was in 1985 – when, as Alan Magi explained, “we were using carbon paper and there was no such things as a fax machine, never mind the internet.

Jennifer Johnson is part of the design team – she did some very good work in ward 3 at the Brant Hills sports complex where wood surfaces gave the facility a warm feeling.   The early view of city hall ground floor does not appear to have that soft, comfortable look – but this is just the early stage,

The traffic flow will be very different with the open area showing the lower level covered in part by a bridge.

The focus appears to be more digital – a modern, swift look.

There was a time when former ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster thought there should be a coffee shop on the ground floor.  There once was a coffee shop on the Council Chamber level but it was never used – or at least not used enough for the people who operated the space gave it up.

plan for firstvfloor

There will be a new Locust Street entrance, a new “grand entrance” that will come in off Civic Square. The development window will be on the left and the Service Burlington window on the right

The building is never going to be a net zero carbon site – the building is far to old.

There has been zip community engagement to this point.  We heard the usual – there will be an engagement plan but no detail. It looks as if this is going to be a done deal with a ribbon cutting the day the “grands entrance” is officially used for the first time.

Councillor Sharman said that his impression of City Hall when he walked in for the first time in 2010 was that of a WWII building.

He added that the city will upgrade what they have until it is clear the building has reached the end of its life cycle.  “We aren’t going to look into spending $50 million on a new city hall.

Right now 28% of the ground floor space is for public use while 72% of the space is for staff.  That will shift to a 50 – 50 share when the upgrade is completed.

There will be several phases.

Phase 1 will be the work done on the development services area and the Citizen services area.

phace 2 new look

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 3

 

 

 

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Burlington now has an additional vaccination site

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

An additional vaccination site has been added: Joseph Brant Hospital.

The five locations are:

Vacine- Milton

Vaccines being delivered to the Milton location

• Gellert Community Centre, 10241 Eighth Line, Georgetown

• St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre, 1280 Dundas Street, Oakville

• Compass Point Bible Church, 1500 Kerns Road, Burlington

• First Ontario Arts Centre Milton, 1010 Main Street East, Milton

• Joseph Brant Hospital, 1245 Lakeshore Road, Burlington (located at the hospital’s Pandemic Response Unit (PRU), which can be accessed through the South Tower Main Entrance off Lakeshore Road)

Registration for vaccinations anywhere in Halton  is at THIS location.

Registration at this point is for those over 80 ONLY.

Vaccines have been delivered to the Halton locations. Just days before people can get vaccinated.

Related news stories:

Full role out plan

 

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What were the individual Councillor contributions to the 2021 budget ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Once the decision is made to settle on just what the tax rate for a year is going to be the politicians get to justify it.

Each brings their own perspective and point of view to the decision that has been made and want to ensure that their constituents are aware of the work they did and why they deserve their vote at the next election.

Burlington has a seven member Council.

In this article I want to focus on the role Councillors Stolte, Nisan and Mayor Meed Ward played in producing the tax rate.

The 4.14% increase is the city’s portion of the taxes collected and used to pay the bills and ensure that there are reserves in place to protect when there is a financial failure. That number is what matters to the people who pay the taxes.

The tax payment you send the city happens to include the tax rate set by the Region for their expenses and the tax rate the Boards of education set to keep the schools operating. The city collects all the money and sends the Regional levy to the Region and the school board levies to the school boards.

Nisan Lowville Feb 7 BEST

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan – served as Chair of the Committee that debated the city budget

The debating and bickering that takes place to arrive at a tax rate takes place at a Standing Committee. This year that committee was chaired by ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan. Mr. Nisan did not cover himself with glory while doing the task; he was difficult, less than fair to some of the Council members and tended to be authoritarian while doing the work.

He was acrimonious, discourteous and rude at times when the job of chair calls for a deft, mature understanding of the wishes of each Council member, drawing them out and letting a consensus come out of it all.

On far too many occasions it was clear that Nisan did not understand the numbers – he would say “that is nice to know” when it was actually essential that the Chair have a solid grip on what each number meant.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Chief Financial Officer Joan Ford; always ready willing and able to mentor members of Council

Burlington has a Chief Financial Officer, Joan Ford, who bends over backwards to explain what can at times be arcane and difficult to understand. She is always ready, willing and able to mentor the Chair – Nisan didn’t appreciate or take advantage of what was available to him.

Mr. Nisan has shown a preference for aligning himself with the Mayor and championing her wishes and aspirations rather than creating a path of his own.  It is hard to be certain just what Rory Nisan does stand for.

Like every other member of Council he will have to stand for re-election in 2022.  He doesn’t have a lot of time to let his constituents know and see who he really is and what he wants to get done.  Other than wanting to be the Mayor’s choice for Deputy Mayor – it is hard to point to something that has made a difference.  There was a splash pad set up in his ward – but that idea was put in motion by his predecessor.

The Mayor said at the beginning of the budget proceedings that the 4.99% increase budget Staff brought in was not going to fly – her target was 3.99% and she fought hard to get that number.

She didn’t have the support of enough of her council members to make it happen – some found the drive for that 3.99% was misplaced and that the purpose of the budget was to serve the needs of the citizens and not the aspirations of a politician.

Meed Ward, to her credit, realized the 3.99% was not going to happen. “The goal is not going to be met,” she said; “let it go” and she did, adding that there is no shame in aiming high.

The Mayor said on numerous occasions that her objective was to “leave more money in the pockets of the tax payers”. The words had a populist tinge.

Shana H&S Mar 3

Took positions that challenged what others were advocating; kept pushing for more transparency.

Councillor Stolte was the star of the budget debates – she consistently, but respectfully, challenged the views of her colleagues and questioned the Clerk on several of the decisions he made.

Saying:

“My comments in regard to whether or not to endorse the 2021 Operating Budget will be highlighted in two components today.

“In regard to the tax rate that we have landed on, I believe it is the result of a great deal of hard work by our Finance Department and this Council, and a great deal of effort to balance the needs of the community with solid financial stewardship and protection of City assets.

“There is still a great deal of work to be done within the City of Burlington to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and the financial inefficiencies that are inherent in an overly bureaucratic organization, but we have begun to see some positive changes in this regard and I look forward to the citizens of Burlington reaping the financial savings from these improvements in the future.

“The second component of my comments is in regard to the PROCESS involved when staff and Council are tasked to determine the priorities, sacrifices and compromises necessary to manage a city budget.

“It was mentioned earlier today that I had brought forward a Staff direction in March of 2020 that was unanimously supported by Council.  It stated to:

“Direct the Chief Financial Officer to plan a Council Workshop in June of 2020 with the subject matter of “Vision to Focus – Budget 2021”. The purpose being to allow staff and Council the opportunity to collaborate on high level priorities, values and vision leading into the 2021 budget process in an effort to concentrate the focus and priorities of Council.”

“Comments may be made that this plan was impacted due to COVID-19 but in hindsight, the 2021 budget still needed to be dealt with and the need to collaborate with Council on focus and priorities, at the start of that process, still should have happened.

“I am disappointed that another Budget cycle was completed without the benefit of a more collaborative Staff/Council process at the outset and I appeal to our City Manager to commit to ensuring that this process improvement is implemented for the next Budget cycle for 2022.

“Curiously, as we endeavored to land this Budget, further process and best practice challenges came to light.

“When we began this term of Council in early 2019 we were oriented to understand that we would receive recommendations from staff in regard to agenda items that needed to be discussed in private, behind closed doors.

“Over the last two years the regular practice has been for Council to receive advice that we “need” to move into Closed Session and this recommendation is always accepted by Council without debate, as merely a point of procedure.

“During the 2021 Operating Budget process I presented an amendment which became the topic of much debate with the City Clerk and City Manager’s Office.

“It was recommended by staff that this amendment be discussed in private, behind closed doors.

“I challenged this recommendation and it quickly came to light that this was a very rare occurrence for a Closed Meeting recommendation to be questioned by Council and I was informed that it was inappropriate for a Councillor to question a staff recommendation of this nature.

This is not how the municipal democratic process works … Staff’s role is to make their best professional recommendation and our role on Council is to assess this recommendation and concur or contest based on whether or not we believe the recommendation represents the best interests of the residents of Burlington.

“Ultimately, the decision on the Budget item was in the hands of Council, where it should be…but the process involved in this discussion was what was of concern.”

Stolte’s comments have the potential to bring about a change in the way council meetings are managed.  The doors need to be open as much as possible.

This Council worked very hard to produce a budget that met the needs of the tax payers and at the same time underlined the goals they had when they sought election to city Council.

There are lessons in the budget experience for every member of Council; hopefully they will take the time to reflect on what took place and learn from both the mistakes and the successes.

This council was supported by a well-tuned finance department who met every challenge put to them and then some.

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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Are you big on gardening - looking for something to do?

News 100 greenBy Pepper ParrGreen beans - row

March 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington Together is planning to kick off a GROW A ROW program again this Spring.

Starting April/May, they are looking to build on the great success this program had last year in sharing fresh produce with the Burlington Food Bank.

They are looking for a volunteer Garden Coordinator for the Burlington Food Bank if you are interested in helping out, send an email to info@burlingtonfoodbank.ca.

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