If Juno is being trained, then this must be Thursday. Halton police train their canine units every week.

By Staff

HALTON REGIONAL POLICE HEADQUARTERS – June 23, 2011 – Thursday is training day and for Juno and Constable Jamie Mitchell of the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS). The Constable and the police dog are in training one day of every week.

“We do things over and over so that the dog never forgets what the commands are and we know we can rely on him to do what he was brought in to do”, said Mitchell.

Juno does not let that rope go until Constable Mitchell tells him to.  And then he reacts instantly.  Good dog.

Juno does not let that rope go until Constable Mitchell tells him to. And then he reacts instantly. Good dog.

The officer has complete control of the dog and while the animal is viscous and focused and he wasn’t prepared to let go of the rope the Constable was tugging at – one simple word – Kennel – and the dog slipped to the ground and walked directly to the back door of the police car and jumped in No whimpering, no looking back, no looking for a reward. A simple direct command and an immediate response.

Constable Mitchell maintains that dogs know 50% of what they do instinctively “They either have it or they don’t have it, and those that do become good police dogs”, he explained.

Juno, was wearing an orange vest because he had a pace maker on while he was being tested for reactions to different foods.

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Pier is going to cost an additional $3.5 million to complete – less however than the cost of tearing it down.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 23, 2011 – Well, now we know. The city has budgeted $15,070,000 for the construction of the Pier at the foot of Brant Street; $3,474,000 more than was projected for the first attempt to get a landmark pier built.

The increased amount is what the city has budgeted but is not necessarily what it will cost to have the Pier completed. The city has pre-qualified 11 construction firms and expects that list to be cut down to eight firms that will have been pre-qualified to build.

Once the pre-qualification work has been completed the city will then issue tender packages and the pre-qualified firms will submit their bids later in the year.

The increased cost was a blow to this Council who had nothing to do with the development of the original plan to build the Pier. Four of the seven Council members, Councillors Craven, Taylor, Dennison and Goldring when he was a Council member, did sit on the Council that made the decision to build a Pier. Mayor Goldring pointed out that this project has been in the works for three terms of office. It started during the term of Mayor MacIsaac, got into construction while Cam Jackson was Mayor and is now in the hands of Rick Goldring who has to clean up the mess and make the best of what is on the table. Tearing down what has been built is an option but it will cost more to tear down what is in place than it will to complete the project

It is probably going to cost an additional $3.5 million (for a total of $15,070,000) to complete the construction of the Pier at the foot of Brant Street which is reported to be less than the cost of tearing down what has been built.  Many of the people in the City’s Engineering department who started this project are no longer on staff.

It is probably going to cost an additional $3.5 million (for a total of $15,070,000) to complete the construction of the Pier at the foot of Brant Street which is reported to be less than the cost of tearing down what has been built. Many of the people in the City’s Engineering department who started this project are no longer on staff.

Many in Burlington have said the Pier should be torn down. It will cost as much to tear down what has been built as it will cost to complete the project because the city would have to refund the various grants it has been given to the city.

Mayor Goldring fully expects there to be considerable reaction and public anger to the increase in costs. To his credit he has been firm in ensuring that this time the city administration does a better job of qualifying the firms that want to tender on the project.

The total cost of the Pier is now budgeted for $15,070,000 and that does not include what the city has spent on legal advise to sue the original contractor who walked off the job and the firm that designed the Pier. Those two cases are working their way through the judicial system and it will be years before there is a decision. The city could in time recover much of the cost and be awarded damages but this Council will not be in office when that happens.

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Yeah, sure – just tell us where we stand within, say $100,000. – but don’t wait till the end of the year to tell us we might be in trouble.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 23, 2011 -“The mantra” explained Councillor John Taylor was “no surprises” The comment was made during a portion of the Budget and Corporate Services Committee meeting at which Current Budget Variance reporting was being discussed. These meetings fall into the “watching paint dry” category but this one was in a league of its own.

Late last year Council got a severe jolt when they learned there was going to be a surplus in excess of $9 million – which while good news that allowed a lot of problems to be taken care of, nevertheless reflected really sloppy accounting.

Senior staff had good explanations that Council accepted. They wanted to ensure that this type of thing didn’t happen again.

Municipalities have access to some very advanced and sophisticated software and allow, if properly set up, for almost instantaneous data that tells senior staff if they have gotten the revenue they expected and if expenses were in line with the budget.

Acting Executive Director Joan Ford has to deal with a Council that brings more financial heft than past Council’s to the Chamber.  They will want her to sing different notes in the months ahead.

Acting Executive Director Joan Ford has to deal with a Council that brings more financial heft than past Council’s to the Chamber. They will want her to sing different notes in the months ahead.

Acting Executive Director Finance Joan Ford explained that processes have been improved to make financial information available in a more timely schedule. When there is a variance on either the revenue (your tax dollars) and expenses of more than $100,000. all kinds of red flags were to go up and reports made.

Councillor Dennison said he didn’t think the focus should be on an amount but rather than on the percentage of variance. A variance of $100,000 on a multi-million dollar project isn’t that worrisome but a variance of 15% on that multi-million dollar project matters.

Ms Ford undertook to ensure that the % of a variance was a key element in her reports.

What was disturbing – (is that the right word ?) was that financial data for the period ending June 30th isn’t available until the end of August – and that seems like a long time.

Every household opens the envelope with the credit card statement and knows within six days after the end of the month what is due. So why can’t city hall with all the software and computing power it has not get reports out with ten days of the close of a month?

The finance department produces semi annual reports and needs at least two months to get data into the hands of the people who make the decisions. They also produce a quarterly – top line report that gets into the hands of the decision makes “in about a month or two”.

The little guy who takes in the dry cleaning and shirt laundering that every member of council and staff spend some of their money on knows by the end of the day what his sales are and if they were high enough and sometimes all they have is a pencil and a pocket calculator.

Councillor Craven tends to look for the smaller but nevertheless telling detail and has asked for data on the number of staff vacancies.  He doesn’t want a repeat of the gapping fiasco of last year.

Councillor Craven tends to look for the smaller but nevertheless telling detail and has asked for data on the number of staff vacancies. He doesn’t want a repeat of the gapping fiasco of last year.

Someone on this Council should be asking for a very detailed explanation as to why numbers aren’t available within two weeks of each month end. General Motors can do it; the banks do it and they work in billions and in several different currencies.

Councillors Taylor, Sharman and Dennison all know how critical a financial report is. Hopefully their experience and financial acumen will result in their insisting on more timely financial reporting.

Taylor put it perfectly when he said – “early warming please” – “be honest and no more waiting until the end of the year.”

One of the reasons for the surplus last years was the number of hires that were not made even though funds for the hire were in the budget. Councillor Craven wanted a bit of a heads up and asked Roy Male, Director of Human Resources to let him know how many vacancies there were and which vacancy was the oldest.

This Council is going to actually count the beans and not leave that task to just the bean counters.

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If you see superman around town – he is here to interview for the citizen engagement co-coordinator job..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 22, 2011 – There it was on the agenda – the job description and work plan for what the city is going to call the Public Involvement Coordinator (PIC). Think in terms of a ‘superman’ or ‘superwoman’ with the political skills of Winston Churchill and you might have some sense of what this person is going to be asked to do under a two year contract.

The PIC position is one of the recommendations that came out of the Shape Burlington report and was perhaps the most significant of the eight recommendations and certainly the one closest to the late John Boich’s heart. The job will be a very politically charged one and getting the right person is not going to be easy.

General Manager Corporate Services Kim Phillips has been part of the community engagement file from the day it was created.  She is now at the point where Council is ready to approve the job description, work plan and pay scale.  Two council members thought she would be the ideal candidate for the job. THAT isn’t going to happen.

General Manager Corporate Services Kim Phillips has been part of the community engagement file from the day it was created. She is now at the point where Council is ready to approve the job description, work plan and pay scale. Two council members thought she would be the ideal candidate for the job. THAT isn’t going to happen.

Council wasn’t in full agreement on just what the Coordinator would be doing. Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor wanted this coordinator to be available to help him set up his neighbourhood council by October. Councillor Sharman saw the job as one where there would be significant leadership – coordinators are not traditionally leaders and they certainly don’t develop policy or strategy; they coordinates things that other people created.

The coordinator is expected to “foster and co-ordinate enhancements to citizen involvement in Burlington” with an intent to:

  • Implement and support a citizen engagement charter (which the city doesn’t have yet. It would take a full two years just to create a charter).
  • Enhance community development
  • Foster information sharing through social media
  • Focus staff training and effort on meaningful citizen involvement.

Everyone and no one is going to want to involve this coordinator. The Council membershave a political turf they want to foster and protect. The position will come under.

Corporate Services management with Kim Phillips being the key person on this file.

Shaping Burlington, the community group that created itself to ensure that the Shape Burlington recommendations were implemented spoke favourable of the job description which they apparently had some input on. They did have a small concern over some of the wording and wanted to know if the “civic engagement coordinator” is actually the Public Involvement Coordinator. The question wasn’t that clearly put and was never answered.

Shaping Burlington doesn’t seem to have any concern over the title the job has been given. One would have thought there would be an appreciation for the difference

between a coordinator and a person who is going to write and recommend policy and develop process plans to implement the policy once it has made its way through Committee and Council.

The work plan for the coordinator is significant. It includes:

  • Content, format, measurement and implementation of a Citizen’s Engagement
  • Charter. The charter by the way is to include an inventory of decisions made by the city and the level of public participation planned for each type of decision.

Does that sound like a report card? We held xx number of meetings and therefore the citizens were engaged. Burlington has yet to fully understand that data is not information.

  • Expand modes of communicating and sharing information (fewer CLOSED SESSIONS of Council would be a good place to start.)
  • The city wants to make more use of electronic services with enhanced use of social media for dialogue and consultation. (Are we watching what is happening in Vancouver with the Stanley Cup riot – interaction is people talking to people, people meeting with people. Real dialogue)
  • Advocate and champion community engagement – John Boich just smiled.
  • Provide advice to staff and Council on engagement matters. (The coordinator will first have to gain the confidence of staff and Council. There are significantly different levels of buy in on this idea at both levels.
  • Provide staff` training
  • Establish engagement expectations and measures in consultation with Council – the ability to herd cats will help here.
Forceful and direct as ever Councillor Sharman, in the center of the picture – blue shirt -  makes his point at a Strategy meeting – did the same thing at a Council Committee meeting discussing the Public Involvement Coordinator.  Sharman wants a high level strategic thinker who can create strong processes that deliver.  Has he set himself up for a disappointment?

Forceful and direct as ever Councillor Sharman, in the center of the picture – blue shirt - makes his point at a Strategy meeting – did the same thing at a Council Committee meeting discussing the Public Involvement Coordinator. Sharman wants a high level strategic thinker who can create strong processes that deliver. Has he set himself up for a disappointment?

Reporting relationships have yet to be fully worked out – and with this position that is not going to be an easy task but Council seemed to be prepared to hand it all over to Kim Phillips and let her manage it. There was the sense that Phillips herself was just the kind of person Council wanted for the job. Too many drops in the pay grade for Phillips to even look at this one.

Speaking of pay grades – the job description is close to complete and it now goes to the rating committee which determines which pay grade this job belongs in – with the suggestion that this would fit into grade 11 that ranges from$70,103 to $87,629. Clearly the coordinator isn’t going to make the Sunshine list (all those who earn more than $100,000. get their name placed on a list that is then published each year).

Councillor Sharman commented that there are a number of significant, challenging matters to be dealt with in terms of citizen engagement. “Time have changed” he explained and “the key factor for this person is to be able to think differently and work differently”. Sharman felt the person hired had to be able to “create strategy and have some background in changing the game.”

Mayor Goldring mentioned what he had learned from the Neighbourhood group in Portland – they told me we wanted a strategic thinker, a top ranked person with great process design skills who wants to empower others.” Is this what Burlington really wants or are both Council and senior staff saying what they think people want to hear. At a top rate of $87,000 + a year (plus the free parking) the city is not going to get someone with the more than five years experience needed.

Councillor usually casts a wary eye on people explaining an idea.  Open minded, yes, - but she always wants to see the details and insists that it make a difference to the people and is fiscally responsible.  The words “Product of Burlington” are stamped all over the council member.

Councillor usually casts a wary eye on people explaining an idea. Open minded, yes, - but she always wants to see the details and insists that it make a difference to the people and is fiscally responsible. The words “Product of Burlington” are stamped all over the council member.

Councillor Lancaster wanted a “driving force behind unique changes, someone who can bring everyone together and value one another.”

Councillor Taylor said this was an important job so” get it going”. He wants the person in place to help him set up an independent community council that will be up and running by October. Don’t be the farm on that one John.

There are so many different views on just what the coordinator is supposed to do that we may end up with no one being satisfied. The job calls for someone to walk all over nearly everyone’s turf and get the city to really allow for true civic engagement – which we have yet to fully define.

The coordinator will report to a steering committee that will hopefully be prepared to handle all the noses that are going to get bent out of shape during the first few months.

In discussing the qualifications many felt were needed, reference was made to a university degree and some understanding of municipal government. Councillor Sharman seemed to be a little closer to the mark when he said the person hired had to be a strategic thinker able to design processes that will allow people to be involved in the design making process.

Meed Ward said she was very supportive of public involvement. She is the Council member with the most active ward level organization. She holds regular meetings and gets real input from her people who meet once a month. “We want someone who can give us support and guidance on what public engagement will look like. Someone who can give us assistance.”

Sharman, one of the Council members who was involved in the creation of the Shape Burlington report, said “the person hired has to be someone who is seen as a leader by both the community, Council and senior staff”. The questions is: will Council and senior staff really let the coordinator lead?

Craven, who doesn’t say all that much these days, had the one comment: “My confidence is in Ms Phillips”.

Dennison didn’t have much to say. Yet he is the council member with the weakest ward level organization.

During the discussion there was not a word from the city manager. At times he looked a little confused – worried perhaps, because it is his desk the proverbial will land on after it has gone through the fan.

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Boring! Incredibly boring? Tell me something that matters to me and don’t you dare speak another platitude.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 22, 2011 – Here we go again, more political talk talk. Does anyone read this stuff? Do the people who write it read it ? It is so full of platitudes. Try this: “Peggy Russell has the experience and the drive to become the first NDP MPP for Burlington.” What else was the guy going to say? The association is “excited to announce” – did you expect them to say that they couldn’t find a living, breathing soul to take on the thankless task of running as a candidate but good old Peggy let herself get talked into it because after seeing what happened to all those completely surprised people in Quebec who got themselves elected to the House of Commons as New Democrats where they will collect $150,000. +, she figured, what the heck – you never know?

So read on and shake your head and ask – when are they going to say something that matters to me and my pocket book? This “affliction” that results in such crap is not an ailment that just the New Democrats suffer from – all the political parties seem to be drinking the same Kool Aid. Do read on

Peggy Russell, Burlington NDP candidate in the October 6th provincial election with NDP party leader Andrea Horwath.

Peggy Russell, Burlington NDP candidate in the October 6th provincial election with NDP party leader Andrea Horwath.

The Burlington NDP Provincial Riding Association is excited to announce that Peggy Russell has been selected as our candidate for the fall Ontario General Election after Monday’s nomination meeting.  Russell who is a  former vice-chair for the Halton District School Board and spent 10 years as a trustee with the HDSB was nominated by local New Democrat Cory Judson.  Her nomination was seconded by recent Federal NDP candidate, David Laird.

Judson said, “Over the years I attended local events where I had the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with Peggy.  She has demonstrated a commitment to advocate on behalf of local families.  I am proud to put my support behind Peggy.”

Burlington NDP Provincial Riding Association President Rick Chislett added, “Peggy Russell has the experience and the drive to become the first NDP MPP for Burlington.”

Hamilton East Stoney Creek MPP, Paul Miller was a guest speaker at the event.  He spoke about how the recent Federal election campaign has really helped to boost the fortunes of the NDP provincially in Ontario.  He indicated, “We hope to form the government in the fall and anticipate a lot of three-way races.  At the very least we expect to form the official opposition, perhaps in a minority government situation.”

After being selected as Burlington’s candidate, Peggy Russell spoke about what her priorities would be if elected as the MPP for Burlington.  She indicated that getting Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital onto the Province’s capital infrastructure plan would be her top priority.  She also added that she will fight to stop any highway construction over our escarpment in rural Burlington.  Peggy went on to say that she would be a strong advocate for physical and social infrastructure to support growth in Burlington and would work to help to make life more affordable for families by working to remove the provincial portion of the HST off of hydro and home heating.

Peggy added, “I am really pleased to be a part of a party, in the NDP, that is moving forward and helping to shape the political agenda across Ontario and at Queen’s Park.  She went on to say, “I am extremely honoured by the faith that the New Democrat members in Burlington have shown in me by selecting me as their candidate.

Peggy indicated in her speech that the campaign has already begun.  She called on local NDP supporters and those who have not traditionally supported the NDP but don’t see themselves in the policies of McGuinty or Hudak to consider putting their trust in her this time. “It’s About Putting Community First,” said Russell.

Having finished reading the press release – does this mean I have to put an election sign on my lawn?

  • Can we have a conversation about the impact Places To Grow is having on Burlington? Can we talk about real programs for seniors who continue to live in houses where they are essentially isolated from their communities because they aren’t able to drive around to get to events?
  • Can we talk about provincial programs that create programs for youth that will keep them in the community where their talents and aspirations can be realized?
  • Can we talk about how we are going to meaningfully integrate the diverse portion of our population into everyday activities.

We just have to be capable of a better level of political dialogue.

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Field trip to Burlington and a climb up Mt. Nemo with Isabelle Harmer

By Joanna Bull

MT. NEMO, BURLINGTON, ON., May 29, 2011 – It is around ten o’clock Sunday morning when we pull off the highway in Burlington and head north. The Niagara Escarpment looms ahead of us on Guelph Line, an angular brow reaching up to a blue sky. By the time we turn up the Harmers’ tree-lined drive, Allie Kosela and I know we aren’t in the city anymore.

Already in her rain boots and coat, Isabelle Harmer welcomes us with instructions to gear up. Boots on, binoculars ready, and cameras charged, we follow Isabelle past the barn and along the path to the back fields.

Young seedlings the Harmers planted last year along a small creek are marked with orange tape. In a few years, they will look like the tall trees that border the far end of the field, planted when Isabelle and Al first bought this property 41 years ago. The tiny creek they stand watch over is part of the Mount Nemo Tributary of Grindstone Creek, which flows down the escarpment to feed Lake Ontario at Hamilton Harbour.

With a piece of hay already in her mouth, Allie points out raspberry bushes, apple trees, and small brown toads along the path. Isabelle tells us her grandkids love to visit the farm, pointing out the remnants of a tree fort under an old pine. When we reach the end of the mown path, we keep going, walking now through knee-high hay. The threatened bobolinks are calling from the middle of the field; the Harmers postpone harvesting the hay each year to maintain cover while the birds lay their eggs.

As we hike through the hay, our boots begin to earn their keep. This part of the farm is muddy in spots where groundwater comes to the surface. The sun is warm, so it is a relief to step into the woods when we reach the end of the fields. We’re in a moist, cool place, with a ceiling of leaves and a floor of healthy green plants. Isabelle points out the Jack-in-the-pulpits growing low to the ground, lifting their folded leaves to reveal a hiding “Jack”. She brings us to the edge of one of the wetlands on the property, where filtered sunlight is reflected on water like green glass. The threatened Jefferson salamander lives in these ponds, but it is too late in the season to see them crawling into the water now.

We emerge from the cover of trees into a narrow tract, marked by tire ruts, that signifies the division between the Harmers’ farm and the property owned by Nelson Aggregate Company. Nelson hopes to quarry this part of their land when their existing quarry, to the north of where we stand with Isabelle, runs out of rock. Densely planted pine trees block any peek we might have had of the property, part of the regionally significant woodlands standing in the way of Nelson’s quarrying hopes.

Along the property line, Isabelle points out metal pumps, now padlocked. She tells us how Nelson used to pump water from the quarry onto their land, often overwhelming the wetlands. The Harmers had to ask their neighbour to stop the pumping, forcing Nelson to find somewhere else to deposit the groundwater they pump off their land.

Allie Kosela and Isabelle Harmer touring the wetlands and fields in the Harmer farm that is next door to land the quarry wants to open up for quarrying for the next 20 years.

Allie Kosela and Isabelle Harmer touring the wetlands and fields in the Harmer farm that is next door to land the quarry wants to open up for quarrying for the next 20 years.

We walk west along the ruts until Isabelle pulls us back into the woods to show us the sinkhole on her land. Sometimes filled with water, the sinkhole shows that the ground below us is limestone or dolomite, soluble calcium-based rock prone to dissolving in water. Isabelle tells us about the time she moved a large rock at the bottom of the sinkhole and saw two wide salamander eyes peering up from the soil. She quickly put the rocks back, leaving the salamanders to their cool home.

From the sinkhole, it isn’t far to the largest expanse of wetlands on the Harmers’ farm. This is a particularly wet year and the wetlands weave beautifully through the trees. Part of a provincial significant wetland complex, the Harmers and their fellow members of Protecting Escarpment Rural Land [PERL] worked hard to have these wetlands properly evaluated and classified by certified experts a few years ago. Because they are fed by both ground and surface water, they are vulnerable to drawdown, or “under-draining” (draining from below) if dewatering for a new quarry happens next door.

It is clear that water is an asset on the Harmer farm. Wetlands and sinkholes are respected, left for the frogs, salamanders, and exploring humans to enjoy. The connection of the creeks to waters downstream is evident throughout the property.

In striking contrast, water on the adjacent Nelson land is a big problem. After our hike through the fields and woods with Isabelle Harmer, Allie and I board a yellow school bus to tour the quarry. The dryness of the land is overwhelming. After wandering through the lush Harmer farm with our feet in mud puddles all morning, the dusty quarry property seems just about barren.

Water is a problem for Nelson because they excavate rock below the water table. Groundwater from the surrounding area empties into the quarry, posing a threat to local wells and the stability of the ground. To keep the area dry for their machines and staff, Nelson pumps that water out of the quarry all day, every day. This year has been so wet that they can’t pump it out fast enough; huge piles of aggregate will sit in ponded water until August.

Water is also a key issue at the Joint Board hearing into Nelson’s proposed quarry expansion. Nelson has applied to extend their quarry by more than 80 hectares onto the land between the existing quarry and the Harmers’ farm. The hearing began last November and is scheduled to continue until at least December of this year. The long list of planning and aggregate extraction approvals Nelson requires to dig a new quarry triggered this hearing – a joint process of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal.

The hearing has just passed a pivotal point: Nelson’s lawyers have finished presenting the case for a new quarry and it is now time to hear from those opposed to the proposal, including the City of Burlington, Region of Halton, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Halton, and PERL. Between our hike on the farm and our bus tour of the quarry, Allie and I dropped by the home of another active PERL member: Roger Goulet.

Roger’s house is around the corner from the Harmers’, just to the west of the quarry. His huge back windows look out at a sea of leafy trees sloping to the Medad Valley. Roger tells us over tea that he is optimistic at this stage of the hearing, and a lot of that optimism has to do with water.

Nelson’s witnesses told the Board that the new quarry won’t affect surrounding groundwater or nearby wetlands because the area sits in a huge clay bowl. The bowl layer is impermeable, so even if the quarry drains the area, no one outside Nelson’s property will be affected. Roger tells us why the hydrogeology experts testifying for the City, Region, and PERL disagree.

Instead of an impervious bowl, the hydro geologists tell the Board about undulating rock topography – more like the surface of an ancient lake than a salad bowl. The wavy rock is all connected and full of cracks and fractures, so draining groundwater from one area can affect water at the surface and in the other pockets. Each little pond, sinkhole, or wetland is connected to, and supplied in part by, groundwater. Ultimately, these are what feed and replenish Lake Ontario. This is truly source water: starting as a home for frogs, fish, and salamanders, this water becomes our drinking water, where we swim and fish, canoe and sail.

It is wetlands like these that the PERL people are trying to save as they oppose the granting of an additional license for quarrying to Nelson Aggregates.

It is wetlands like these that the PERL people are trying to save as they oppose the granting of an additional license for quarrying to Nelson Aggregates.

PERL is putting everything they have, from energy to money to heart, into this Joint Board hearing, but they haven’t lost sight of why they are doing it. For the people who live on the Mount Nemo Plateau, and all who seek refuge in the beauty of its conservation areas, on its public trails, or atop its lofty cliffs, this hearing is part of a larger vision of the plateau. Roger reminds us that his house, the quarry, and the Harmers’ farm are all within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve: the Niagara Escarpment. Working to protect the land from more quarrying, PERL discovered the wetlands, woodlands, and threatened species now central to the hearing. They also discovered how much they have to protect.

Going into the second half of these hearings, PERL is optimistic. They have built a strong case and founded it on science, with expert evidence in hydrogeology, ecology, and planning. The going has definitely not been easy – more like a hike up the escarpment face than its gently sloping back – but we can see why they keep at it. It only takes a short walk to the back of the Harmers’ farm in rain boots to understand.

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Citizens now get to present their case at Nelson quarry hearings – it is all about water.

By Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

BURLINGTON, ON June 22, 2011 – The hearing into a new quarry proposed by Nelson Aggregate on the Niagara Escarpment has passed a crucial milestone: the industry has finished presenting its case. Now it’s the public’s turn to bring evidence before the Joint Board. That evidence has come down to one thing so far: water.

The public is represented at the hearing by local government (the City of Burlington and the Region of Halton), Conservation Halton, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and a truly grassroots group of citizens known as Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL). Working together to oppose the new quarry, these parties started their side of the case with evidence on hydrogeology, focusing on what a new quarry would do to groundwater, wetlands, and downstream flow.

The current site is nearing the end of its natural life as a quarry.  Nelson is now seeking a second license to mine aggregate for another 20 years.  Citizen portion of the hearings now begin.

The current site is nearing the end of its natural life as a quarry. Nelson is now seeking a second license to mine aggregate for another 20 years. Citizen portion of the hearings now begin.

There is a fundamental difference in the way that water movement on the site is characterized by hydro geologists hired by the company and those that represent the public interest.

Ray Blackport, the hydro geologist giving expert evidence on behalf of PERL, was clear in his testimony: Nelson mischaracterized the wetland hydrology and hydrogeology. The water regime and wetlands near the property will be worse off if a new quarry is dug.

Blackport found that the wetlands are not sitting on the impervious layer of rock described by Nelson’s witnesses. Instead, water moves up from the ground and back into it through fractures or patches of conductive bedrock. Put simply, the wetlands are leaky. If enough water is drawn away from them by a new quarry, they could lose their storage capacity and dry up completely. The mitigation measures proposed by Nelson just won’t work under these conditions.

With qualified hydro geologists testifying on both sides of this case, the Joint Board has a daunting task. They must understand the complex science enough to weigh one expert’s testimony against another.

This task is made easier by a few characteristics of the quasi-judicial process. The Board doesn’t need to identify the truth and write a textbook on groundwater in the area. Instead, they need only determine, based on the evidence, whether Nelson has proven its case on a balance of probabilities. As the proponent pushing for a new quarry, Nelson bears that burden.

This is where the science and the law meet narrative. For years, community members have watched as their homes and barns shudder and crack. Explosions from blasting at the nearby quarry are the obvious culprit, but Nelson insists there is no positive proof showing their blasting causes cracks. The company has shifted the burden of proof to the public in this anecdotal realm, refusing to take responsibility in the absence of evidence against them.

The escarpment is a source of water for the community and refreshes Lake Ontario.  The flow of that water is a vital part of the local ecology –and quarries interrupt those flows.  That is what the Nelson aggregate hearings are all about.

The escarpment is a source of water for the community and refreshes Lake Ontario. The flow of that water is a vital part of the local ecology –and quarries interrupt those flows. That is what the Nelson aggregate hearings are all about.

 

This kind of denial in the absence of proof won’t fly at the Joint Board hearing. Unlike a criminal defendant, who is innocent until proven guilty, Nelson is seeking a new privilege from the government. To earn the privilege of approval to quarry on the Niagara Escarpment, the company must prove its operations will not negatively affect water or the environment.

The hearing is scheduled to continue until at least December 2011, with the bulk of that time devoted to the public’s case. So far, the public’s evidence has been strong. A new quarry will affect water. It could even drain wetlands completely. For the sake of the wetlands, creeks, and the lake that relies on these source waters for rejuvenation, we hope the balance of probabilities comes down on the side of precaution and, in turn, protecting the public interest in water.

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A big chunk of change for what might turn out to be firewood. Pearl and Pine streets to lose some trees.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 21, 2011 – How much is a tree worth? You can buy a slip of a tree for just over a hundred dollars and if you take care of it in time it will grow into something absolutely wonderful and provide shade and take Co2 out of the air as well.

But what if you wanted to cut down a tree? And what if that tree was on city property. Different situation and bigger dollars as well.

The Reichmann Seniors Housing Development Corporation approached the Planning and Building department with a site development plan for a property they had acquired to build a two structure retirement home located on the south side of Pine Street between Pearl and Elizabeth.

The plans are for a nine and a 14 storey tower. Previously there was a three storey retirement home and a hair dresser on the property. The development was proceeding well and it was time to get the site plan approved. The developers wanted to remove some trees that were on city land.

You can’t just take down a tree in Burlington and if it is on city property – then you get permission and you pay a fee. How big a fee? A BIG fee.

One of these will be saved – the others are to come down at a cost of $19,780. to the developer who will replace the trees when the two tower retirement home is completed.

One of these will be saved – the others are to come down at a cost of $19,780. to the developer who will replace the trees when the two tower retirement home is completed.

The Reichmann’s want to take out three trees from the south of Pine Street and seven trees from the west side of Pearl; almost opposite where the Pearl Street Café was located. We are going to lose a Norway Maple, a Sliver Maple and a Black Walnut along with a handful of smaller trees that are still very young. One of the tress that will get taken down is in pretty rough shape.

The developer will pay the city a fee of $19,780.00; remove the trees and when the project is completed plant new trees based on the city’s Streetscaping standards.

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Councillor Taylor ticked, harrumphs through meeting and leaves a very unhappy camper.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 21, 2011 – John Taylor was not having a good evening. He had spent more than three hours talking about snow removal at a city council committee meeting on a day when the temperature was, in what he would call, the mid 80’s. His demeanor during the afternoon session was typical John Taylor – he asked probing questions and reminded staff members of things about snow removal they had forgotten about. Taylor is a fixture in the Council chamber.

But in the evening session we got to see a much different councillor. Taylor was ticked, and this is not a man one wants to trifle with. Late last week council members were given a report from a consultant the city had hired to give them data on what they called TZ’s – traffic zones, No one managed to define what a traffic zone was and for a short while it didn’t appear to really matter.

John Taylor, the most senior member of Burlington city council is usually a jolly fellow with a quick smile, can also be very pensive and reflective.  He was not flashing any smiles at a Community Development Committee meeting last Monday.

John Taylor, the most senior member of Burlington city council is usually a jolly fellow with a quick smile, can also be very pensive and reflective. He was not flashing any smiles at a Community Development Committee meeting last Monday.

Then a more detailed consultants report was put on the table. It’s purpose was to explain to council members what the city actually had in the way of employment land inventory. Now this get’s just a little complex.

There is land in the city that is zoned for buildings that people will work in and there is land that is zoned for houses people will live in. Developers make more money on houses people live in so they look for ways to have their land zoned for housing.

Burlington has a couple of developers who happen to own a lot of land. The Molinaro Group is one and Paletta International is another. The Paletta’s bought some land many years ago and have been holding it and waiting for an opportunity to develop the land and reap the return on their investment. Land that factories and office building are built on is called “employment lands” and that is what the Community Development Committee of Council focused on Monday evening. How much do we have and is it enough to meet future needs

Developers usually hire planning consultants to take their case before city council and Monday night was no different. Ed Fothergill, a fully qualified planner licensed to practice in Ontario, has in the past represented numerous developers. He is a very effective presenter who usually finds a way to be the last person to speak. He never demands, he is always open to discuss things and seldom wavers from what his client has sent him to council to do. The developers get good value for the fees they pay Ed Fothergill.

He was delegating to advise Council that land they had shown as development land was in fact not really development land but property that was not yet determined and the developer wanted to keep it that way. They wanted to keep all their options open with a distinct preference for housing development. Fair enough.

Taylor can remember a time when Dundas was the outer edge of development for Burlington.  Then, he will tell you, the 407 came along and that moved the boundary out just a bit more and Taylor feels that the much discussed Niagara GTA highway that the province wants to push through the escarpment would be the end of rural Burlington.  To add to his woes, Taylor feels developers want to exploit some data that consultants have put forward that suggests the city has more than enough in the employment lands inventory.  Taylor isn’t buying it and he is totally ticked.

Taylor can remember a time when Dundas was the outer edge of development for Burlington. Then, he will tell you, the 407 came along and that moved the boundary out just a bit more and Taylor feels that the much discussed Niagara GTA highway that the province wants to push through the escarpment would be the end of rural Burlington. To add to his woes, Taylor feels developers want to exploit some data that consultants have put forward that suggests the city has more than enough in the employment lands inventory. Taylor isn’t buying it and he is totally ticked.

Then another consultant made a delegation. This fellow had been hired by the city to do a two phase report on just what existed in the way of development lands in the city. The reason for wanting this information was so that the city could ensure there was enough land for the factories or office buildings to go up that would ensure Burlington could create the jobs it had to create to meet the provinces Places to Grow program.

Now here is where it gets interesting. While we’ve not had a chance to fully evaluate the report – we’ll get that to you in a couple of days – what became quickly evident was that Burlington has more than enough land in the “employment lands” category to meet the long term needs.

That was all the developers needed to hear. The developers were now prepared to argue that ‘if there is more than enough land to meet the longer term needs of the commercial market, then release some of the land we own that is classified as development land, and let us develop houses on that property’. You see, housing development is a lot more profitable than office and manufacturing development.

And John Taylor wanted none of that. He wasn’t buying the developers arguments and he wanted to be darn sure that the city was never at a point where the land needed to create the jobs the city has to create is not available

Taylor harrumphed for a good part of the meeting and after listening to the consultants asked that Council committee go into Closed Session to attempt to figure out what the city should do. That’s when everyone is asked to leave the Council Chamber while the committee discusses things in private. One never knows what they say – there is usually a direction for the lawyers to do something but even what they are asked to do is confidential. We’ve had this beef with the city’s legal department before.

The planner the city had hired was careful to qualify his remarks and while he did say there appeared to be enough employment land to meet needs out to 2031 – he advised that the city needed to be very careful about how it used the employment land inventory it did have.

Paletta International, a company with large land holdings in Burlington and the developer of some of the larger housing developments constantly tangles with the city over land use issues  Angelo Paletta is on the left.

Paletta International, a company with large land holdings in Burlington and the developer of some of the larger housing developments constantly tangles with the city over land use issues Angelo Paletta is on the left.

But Taylor could see the writing on the wall and he happens to have a very good memory. He knew exactly what the developers were going to do next and it didn’t surprise him one but that there were representatives from two developers making delegations. When the first, Ed Fothergill, had completed his remarks Taylor said aloud: “The games have begun.” He knew exactly where this was going and he didn’t like the direction one bit.

Burlington has been kind to its developers but for Taylor losing precious employment lands would put the city at a serious long term risk. That’s what the city’s planning consultant was saying but the developers weren’t listening – they heard that there was more than enough development land in the inventory and they wanted some of it released for housing.

The games have indeed begun. We have more for you later in the week on this one.

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Eaglesfield Road church holds last service; prepares for Hamilton Korean Presbyterian Church to move in.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 20, 2011 It was a somber Sunday morning service as Pastor Mike Pawelke preached the final service at the Eaglesfield Campus of Compass Point Bible Church in Burlington.

What began as the Brant Bible church is now just a faded sign hidden amongst trees that have grown around it.  The congregation of the Eaglesfield Road church will move to Kerns road and worship there.
What began as the Brant Bible church is now just a faded sign hidden amongst trees that have grown around it. The congregation of the Eaglesfield Road church will move to Kerns road and worship there.

The church, built by a group who were market gardener’s and decided they wanted to build a church which they called Brant Street Bible Church, grew to the point where they needed a bigger location and purchased a piece of property at Eaglesfield and Dundas. “There was a time when the place was packed”, said Tom Warner. “We had three services and the parking lot was always full.”

Today the Eaglesfield location is still a healthy church with an established congregation that holds a traditional service. Doug Agnew is the Pastor at what is now known as the Eaglesfield campus of Compass Point Bible Church.

Park Avenue Bible Church was another small Burlington church that grew and moved to a location on Kerns Road where a mammoth structure was built. Complications occurred with the Pastor at the time and the Park Avenue congregation entered into a strategic ministry partnership with Brant Bible Church to create Compass Point Bible Church.

A mammoth structure that dominates the skyline and has three levels of parking with a large sanctuary that includes two television cameras that broadcast the service.  Costs of repair a roof and accumulated debt plus operating expenses resulted in the consolidation of two congregations into the one building.

A mammoth structure that dominates the skyline and has three levels of parking with a large sanctuary that includes two television cameras that broadcast the service. Costs of repair a roof and accumulated debt plus operating expenses resulted in the consolidation of two congregations into the one building.

The Kerns Road structure is a very large with extensive facilities and is one of the mega churches that became popular in the United States. Pastor Pawelke has always been a proponent of the mega church which fairly describes the Kerns Road campus of Compass Point. It is a mammoth building with a very, very large sanctuary that has two television cameras set up within the sanctuary to capture and broadcast the service which is available on line.

Pawelke is a very strong pastor with a staff that gets close to 12 people and three congregations that have a combined operating budget in excess of $1 million. The third is an outreach church is a distressed part of Hamilton on Ellis Street.

Each of the churches is a separate legal entity that have banded together to offer services as the Compass Point Bible Church. The organizational structure is a little confusing to outsiders and a difficult one to finance and administer for insiders. The financial difficulties began to overwhelm and some drastic steps were necessary.

Recent costs to repair the roof and upgrade the HVAC system at the Kerns Road campus cost the church in excess if $850,000 which was a bit more than the community could handle

The Compass Point Church Board decided that some changes had to be made and they decided to sell the Eaglesfield property and have that congregation meet at Kerns Road for an 11:00 am service while the Kerns Road congregation holds their much more modern service at 9:30 am

A sum has been set aside to upgrade the parking facilities at the Kerns Road campus so that the Eaglesfield choir will have space and allow for easier access to the Kerns Road building for the older population that attended Eaglesfield.

The Hamilton Korean Presbyterian Church will move its congregation into the Eaglesfield Road church where its youth groups and high school students will have better facilities and a 6:00 am service

The Hamilton Korean Presbyterian Church will move its congregation into the Eaglesfield Road church where its youth groups and high school students will have better facilities and a 6:00 am service

Compass Point will share the Eaglesfield campus with the Koreans for a period of time and hold events on Tuesday’s and Thursday. The Pastor of the Hamilton Korean Presbyterian Church told the Eaglesfield congregation that there would be some immediate changes when the Korean congregation moved in. The name on the building would change and Korean Pastor told the congregation that there would be a 6:00 am service.

That level of congregational involvement might explain why the Koreans have grown to the point where they needed a bigger location and why Compass Point has to retrench two locations into just the one.

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Salt with Pepper > City of Burlington lawyers hide behind old practices – ‘say nothing, tell them nothing’.

BURLINGTON, ON June 18, 2011 – Our friends down the road at the Bay Observer published the following. We couldn’t agree more.

From the Bay Observer, June 15, 2011

There is something wrong with a legal system that prevents opposing sides from coming to a mediated solution once lawsuits have been commenced. A prime example is the Burlington Pier debacle where the city is suing the original pier contractor along with the original project manager and designer of the structure over structural problems that have halted the project.

We now learn that more than two years ago that Walters Group, an internationally-respected structural steel contractor tried to broker a settlement that would have allowed all sides to save some face not to mention money but was rebuffed. A prime reason for the lack of dialogue is the fact that legal action has been commenced and therefore goes the collective wisdom, everybody involved must clam up for fear of prejudicing their case.

This is the kind of advice that Burlington councillors get from lawyers who have no incentive whatever in shortening or ending the litigation. And maybe the advice is sound maybe it is dangerous to try to resolve a dispute after legal action is commenced but if that is the reality; then it needs to be changed. Whether the Walters Group proposal to finish the pier is the right one, is irrelevant. The intent was to try to inject some common sense into a process that seems to be taking on a life of its own, with attendant spiraling costs.

The current Burlington administration has the construction of the Pier back on track and there is every reason to believe that the June 2013 opening date will be met. There will be cost over runs and given the nature of Mayor Rick Goldring, we can expect Council and the citizens of Burlington to be made aware of those costs.

Learning what was spent on legal costs will be like pulling teeth from hens. The legal department in Burlington doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand what transparency means. It is not in their interest to tell the taxpayers what was spent to handle the legal problems surrounding the construction of the Pier.

That however may change.

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Weather co-operates, beer sales were great and the music while loud was enjoyed.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 18, 2011 – Friday evening and they strolled by the thousands into Spencer Smith park and took in the sounds – and the sounds were loud, and the applause appreciative and the weather more than accommodating.

They were raucous, they were outrageous and the crowd loved them.  The woman playing the banjo certainly knew how to get the sound she wanted out of the instrument and the Ladies of the Canyon from Montreal knew how to play to the crowd who just loved them.  That banjo player convinced a member of the audience to loan her the bubble making toy she had and the musician then proceeded to prance around the stage blowing bubbles everywhere.  It was a fun evening.

They were raucous, they were outrageous and the crowd loved them. The woman playing the banjo certainly knew how to get the sound she wanted out of the instrument and the Ladies of the Canyon from Montreal knew how to play to the crowd who just loved them. That banjo player convinced a member of the audience to loan her the bubble making toy she had and the musician then proceeded to prance around the stage blowing bubbles everywhere. It was a fun evening.

 

The Ladies of the Canyon, an all female group out of Montreal, played a version of “The day they drove old Dixie down” that just rocked the crowd.

As the group was bringing their session to an end a three masted “privateer’ slowly slipped into the waterfront and fired a cannon shot. The sharp crack of the cannon brought the crowd to their feet but it appears it was just a warning shot. The ship didn’t drop anchor and they didn’t send anyone ashore. And she didn’t fly any signal flags – and thank goodness, no one ashore flew a white flag.

There is no count yet as to how many pints of beer were served but there didn’t appear to be anyone who had had to many pints. The crowds – and there were crowds, were well behaved

 

The Ferris wheel and the other rides gave the Sound of Music Festival a bit of a country fair feel.  The view of the grounds and the city at night is quite something from the top of the Ferris wheel.

The Ferris wheel and the other rides gave the Sound of Music Festival a bit of a country fair feel. The view of the grounds and the city at night is quite something from the top of the Ferris wheel.

Some people just stand out in a crowd.  The woman in white wasn’t missing a word the Ladies of the Canyon were singing.  She didn’t seem to be aware that there were other people in the park.  That’s my babe.

Some people just stand out in a crowd. The woman in white wasn’t missing a word the Ladies of the Canyon were singing. She didn’t seem to be aware that there were other people in the park. That’s my babe.

The crowds took it all in.  They listened quietly and then erupted into applause when a piece was finished.  Many people brought their collapsible chairs and settled in for an evening of just fine entertainment that ranged from heavy metal (too loud for me) to nice easy going country and western and even some decent blues.

The crowds took it all in. They listened quietly and then erupted into applause when a piece was finished. Many people brought their collapsible chairs and settled in for an evening of just fine entertainment that ranged from heavy metal (too loud for me) to nice easy going country and western and even some decent blues.

Few people saw the three masted ‘privateer” slip into the waterfront from behind the yet to be completed Pier.  She crept in close to the breakwater then fired a single shot from her cannon and then turned away from the city and slipped back to her home port.  Was she from Hamilton?  More likely Toronto.  Look for your city Council to discuss what the city might need in the way of troops to defend the city.

Few people saw the three masted ‘privateer” slip into the waterfront from behind the yet to be completed Pier. She crept in close to the breakwater then fired a single shot from her cannon and then turned away from the city and slipped back to her home port. Was she from Hamilton? More likely Toronto. Look for your city Council to discuss what the city might need in the way of troops to defend the city.

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The cheque was in the mail – but it was a miserable $275,293. Small potatoes; could have raised more through bingo games..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON, June 17, 2011 – The cheque was in the mail but it was pretty small ($257,000) and represents less than the interest earned on the money the city of Burlington has set aside for the hospital.

Health is a provincial responsibility but this provincial government has let the hospitals know that some of the money needed to keep hospitals operational and able to handle the growing number of people who now need and will need health services in the future as our population ages.

The JBMH expects to get quite a bit more money from the provincial government which when added to what the city of Burlington has already set aside will result in more parking space and additional operating rooms.

The JBMH expects to get quite a bit more money from the provincial government which when added to what the city of Burlington has already set aside will result in more parking space and additional operating rooms.

Burlington currently has $3,668,88.001 the JBMH reserve fund at the end of December 2010 with an additional $1.2 million going in during 2011 – which will take the total to $4,886,881.00

Last year the city of Burlington did much better than it expected on its investments which resulted in a surplus for the 2010 fiscal year. If the managed to earn as much as 5% on their cash investment (not likely – but w dream can’t we?) the interest Burlington will earn on the funds it has in its reserve fund would be greater than what the province has sent our way.

The money the city has set aside came from: $1.2 million from the 2009 surplus, $1.2 million from 2010 property taxes, $1.2 million from the 2010 surplus and $1.2 million is being levied in 2011 property taxes.

There is a provincial election on the horizon and one of the questions you will want to ask the candidates (Karmel Sakran for the Liberals and it looks like Peggy Russell for the NDP and Brian Heagle who is certainly hoping that his hat is the only one in the ring when the Progressive Conservatives eventually get around to calling a nomination meeting.)

Karmel Sakran has served on a number of hospital boards and committees and is certainly well aware of what the hospital is up against in terms of funding. Would he be an independent enough member of the Legislature to fight his party for the betterment of the community or will he toe the party line?

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital has had its share of problems in the recent past and it needs to upgrade its facilities and expand the operation.

This measly little amount from the province is being “provided for a variety of structural upgrades” – whatever that means. – as well as “improvements to comply with health and safety standards”. JBMH might choose to invest in barrels of soap to avoid another c-difficile outbreak.

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Be careful what you ask for – you just might get it. Ask the good folks on Holtby and Crosby how that works out.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 17, 2011 – Holtby and Crosby Streets run south from Caroline down to New Street. They were built about 50 years ago and had never had any re-surfacing or upgrades done and they were in pretty rough shape. Years of complaining and the city finally got around to putting these two streets on the list and work was scheduled for the spring. More than $900,000 was budgeted fir the work.

Getting in and out of the driveway when the street is under construction is a challenge.  Holtby residents struggle with this one.

Getting in and out of the driveway when the street is under construction is a challenge. Holtby residents struggle with this one.

And now the work is getting done. And the good people of Holtby are basically landlocked. They can’t get their cars into the driveways and walking down the street is a bit of a challenge. But they will soon have a nice new shiny road. Your tax dollars are at work.

For those on Crosby Street – you’re next.

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Summer and the Sound of Music – four days of it. Take it all in.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 17, 2011 – It was that time of year again – the Burlington Teen Tour Band was going to be on the streets, the weather was going to be great the whole weekend and the local merchants would do very well.

It is Sound of Music time, evening at Spencer Smith Park, hordes of people nut for some reason it doesn’t seem crowded. The kids are out with the cell phones texting away. The parents are out with the little ones strolling along the lakefront.

Three stages, a Ferris wheel and a beer garden or two sprinkled around and all the pizza you would ever want to buy. AND there is someone selling one of the goofiest head bands and set of teeth that glow in the dark – think long term and Halloween. Or think about how you are going to say no to the kids who will absolutely have to have one of the things.

The crews were on the site on Thursday setting up tents and getting booths ready. And then the crowds came – you will never see as many teenagers in one place in this city.

And there wasn’t a politician in site – blessed relief.

More of the same for the next three days. Enjoy it.

Getting the tents set up and the stages with all their sound equipment in place took a couple of days – and a lot of hard work.  Swinging that mallet was not easy – and he never missed the stake in the ground – not once.

Getting the tents set up and the stages with all their sound equipment in place took a couple of days – and a lot of hard work. Swinging that mallet was not easy – and he never missed the stake in the ground – not once.

 

Spencer Smith became a bit of a parking lot while crews set up – but the traffic was gone when the music began to flow from the speakers.  Lots of overtime getting things set up?

Spencer Smith became a bit of a parking lot while crews set up – but the traffic was gone when the music began to flow from the speakers. Lots of overtime getting things set up?

 

It was time to relax and stretch out and just be yourself.  The friend here wasn’t sure if she wanted to be in the picture or not – we captured her, while her friend was oblivious to it all.

It was time to relax and stretch out and just be yourself. The friend here wasn’t sure if she wanted to be in the picture or not – we captured her, while her friend was oblivious to it all.

The show had begun – opening night and people by the hundreds stretched out on the lawn and just relaxed and let the music float towards them.

The show had begun – opening night and people by the hundreds stretched out on the lawn and just relaxed and let the music float towards them.

 

There will be a time – in 2013 based on the current schedule, when the Pier will be open and there will perhaps be a sound set out at the end.  Today the best we can do is give you a view of the crews out along the front of Spencer Smith park setting up and delivering equipment.

There will be a time – in 2013 based on the current schedule, when the Pier will be open and there will perhaps be a sound set out at the end. Today the best we can do is give you a view of the crews out along the front of Spencer Smith park setting up and delivering equipment.

These two woman are obviously Sound of Music pro’s.  They came fully equipped and settled in for the evening.

These two woman are obviously Sound of Music pro’s. They came fully equipped and settled in for the evening.

 

The entrance to the four day Sound of Music Festival – a free concert due to the generosity of a number of corporations.  Tim Hortons is the biggest donours as well as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.  A handful of Tim Bits and a lottery ticket – is there  anything more Ontario than that?  Cogeco Cable and Hyundai are also major supporters.  Not one bank on the list though.

The entrance to the four day Sound of Music Festival – a free concert due to the generosity of a number of corporations. Tim Hortons is the biggest donours as well as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. A handful of Tim Bits and a lottery ticket – is there anything more Ontario than that? Cogeco Cable and Hyundai are also major supporters. Not one bank on the list though.

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Finally, it is official – Peggy Russell is to seek NDP Provincial Nomination for Burlington.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 17, 2011 – She was Vice-Chair of the Halton District School Board and served on that Board for ten years and has decided that it was time for a move up the political food chain. Queen’s Park was her choice with Peggy Russell today officially announced her intention to seek the nomination for the New Democratic Party in Burlington for the Ontario General Election this fall. Good luck!

Russell said she will make hospital funding her number one priority followed by will be to secure provincial support for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital followed by concerns about development and intensification in the community. “McGuinty has forced growth upon Burlington” said Russell, “and has not provided the necessary supports for that growth. I plan to be a strong advocate to secure Provincial funding for the infrastructure needed to support growth in Burlington.”

Long time Burlington community activist Peggy Russell is answering the call again – this time she wants to sit at Queen’s Park.  Her vote count in the municipal election was more than respectable; question now is can her leader,  Andrea Horwath, provide enough in the way of coat tails for Russell to ride into office on.

Long time Burlington community activist Peggy Russell is answering the call again – this time she wants to sit at Queen’s Park. Her vote count in the municipal election was more than respectable; question now is can her leader, Andrea Horwath, provide enough in the way of coat tails for Russell to ride into office on.

Russell also cites what she calls the growing centralization of decision making at Queen’s Park as another reason for her decision to run for Provincial office. She provides two specific examples.

“The McGuinty Liberals took a heavy handed approach to planning in our region in their push for a new highway through Rural Burlington,” said Russell. “Both the McGuinty Liberals and Hudak Tories have failed to listen to Burlington residents who are overwhelmingly opposed to a new highway over the Niagara Escarpment.”

Another example of the Province dictating to communities in Ontario is in Education. Russell said, “As a Halton District School Board trustee I fought against Bill 177. This bill limits the ability of trustees to address the concerns of our community. As the MPP for Burlington I will fight to ensure that our community has a greater say in the education of our children.”

Russell and the NDP will also work to make life more affordable for families. This includes removing the provincial portion of the HST off of hydro and home heating, making gas prices predictable for consumers, and by eliminating ambulance fees.

Russell is a member of Shaping Burlington, the successor organization set up to follow through and advocate for the recommendations in the original Shape Burlington report.

She is currently a member of the Burlington Transit Advisory Committee and Poverty Free Halton as well as being involved in fund raising for the United Way via Burlington’s Amazing RACE. She has received numerous awards including being named the Halton Woman of the Year.

Russell was also a candidate for municipal office in the 2010 civic election when she ran in Ward 5 and earned a more than respectable number of votes. Had the field been smaller (there were seven candidates) Russell may well have come out the winner.

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Cupid fails to shoot the arrow, thieves get away with cash and maybe some cupcakes.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 16, 2010 Halton Regional Police Service are investigating a break and enter to a local bakery in Burlington.

Sometime overnight on May 8th, unknown suspect(s) pried open the rear door to gain entry into Cupid’s Gourmet Cupcakes located at 3450 Dundas St. Once inside, the suspect(s) removed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register.

The real question is – did they take any cup cakes?

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)

And if you happen to see some people that you are suspicious of – with upset tummies – maybe?

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White construction helmet instead of a tiara and pink work boots – Burlington Beauty Queen graduates

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 15, 2011 – Alton, a neighbourhood in the upper east part of the remaining developable lands in Burlington where a number of construction projects are underway, was the site of a sod turning ceremony with Mayor Rick Goldring and the Ward council member for that part of town, Blair Lancaster on hand to dig a little dirt.

Construction crews can now get onto the sit and begin shaoing it as a soccer field and a play area with plenty of shade trees and parking.

Construction crews can now get onto the sit and begin shaoing it as a soccer field and a play area with plenty of shade trees and parking.

The site that construction crews were finally able to get to into now that the sun is drying up the fields will be home to a soccer field a playing field with plenty of parking spaces and some housing along one edge.

The street leading into the soccer field, Palladium Way is separated by a stretch of employment lands, that have yet to be developed, and the 407 on the north with the project itself east off Walkers Line and north of Dundas. Residents in the area have been waiting for the soccer fields to get built and if the weather holds those fields should be accessible well before the kids are back in school.

Always making a fashion statement – the pink boots Councillor Lancaster wears on a construction site turn an eye just as well as the tiara did.

Always making a fashion statement – the pink boots Councillor Lancaster wears on a construction site turn an eye just as well as the tiara did.

These “ceremonial events” are pretty hum drum but if you pay attention there is usually something that can be picked up for what the politicians call the “photo op”. In this situation the photographer from “another news source that get published in Burlington” wanted to frame people in front of a large crane. Here is their intrepid photographer in action.

Becky Ellis, a city landscaping technician was on hand to show the Mayor and the Council member around the site which has houses within a very short distance allowing parents to wander over to the park and playfield where there children are.

What was missed and so typical of what Councilor Lancaster does(she does have a sense of fashion) were the pink construction boots she wore on the site.

The neighbour hood is going through significant growth – a storey we will tell you about later in the month.

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Municipal Council practices 101; developer learns he got an F – Mayor Goldring clues him in.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 14, 2011 – It was a lesson in municipal civics that George Bikas of Drewlo Developments isn’t likely to forget. He got his throat slit at a Council meeting but didn’t know he had been injured until the Mayor explained that the process was and what the result was for the developer.

Few people fully understand the City Council process and think that when Council meets all kinds of decisions get made – and that part is true – BUT the discussion and the back and forth between staff and Council members and any member of the public wanting to make a delegation takes place at the committee level and for Drewlo Developments that happened on May 30th.

The decision made at the committee level is more of a recommendation than a cast in stone decision. Council can either accept the committee decision or debate it if they wish, but they usually end up doing so with out the benefit of input from staff on hand.

A Council meeting is just that – a meeting of the Council with just the city manager and the Clerk in attendance unless someone asks for other staff people to attend.

Large five building apartment complex on Plains Road, a problem since its inception, may get shut down over a difference of opinion about the construction of a fifth entrance/exit to the underground garage.

Large five building apartment complex on Plains Road, a problem since its inception, may get shut down over a difference of opinion about the construction of a fifth entrance/exit to the underground garage.

Thus George Bikas, Manager, Land Development for Drewlo Holdings appeared before Council to delegate with the objective of trying to convince council NOT to un-delegate the site plan Drewlo was working under.

Some background: Drewlo is developing a five unit apartment complex on Plains Road and the issue at hand was the elimination of a fifth entrance to the massive parking garage beneath the five building complex. The first two buildings are operational with three and four under construction And the developer hoping to also develop the fifth building. That won’t be happening any time soon..

When a development has been approved and the appropriate by-laws and zoning changes made the process of monitoring the actual development is “delegated” from council to the Planning department. The city says “we have approved it” you, the Planning department, make sure the developer does what he is supposed to do.

Planning then oversees the development work issues the building permits required at various stages of the construction. Drewlo happens to have a poor reputation wit not only the residents in the immediate area and with the local council member but with the planning department as well.

A number of months ago the planners noticed that a fifth entrance down into the underground garage had been eliminated. The developer now says it was an honest mistake but they also said they had no intention of rectifying their “mistake” The planner, Bruce Krushelnicki who know a major problem when he sees one appeared before Council and asked that the supervising of the site plans be passed back to the appropriate committee – in other words “un-delegated”. He could see this going to the Ontario Municipal Board and he wanted to be sure the city had all its documents in order. The city listened to the planner at the Committee level and agreed there that this project should be un-delegated and at Council last night – the full Council concurred at the site is now in the hands of the committee, which is a very awkward place for a developer to be.

The city had “chopped off the developers head” but he didn’t know what had happened. His objective was to convince Council that this was just a minor oversight that really wasn’t that important and that one fewer garage entranced/exists wasn’t going to make that much difference and that in two weeks they would have a traffic study supporting their position. Council didn’t buy it.

Robert Cooper, representing the residents in the area spoke forcefully for his neighbours at the committee level and was on the list to speak again at the Council meeting but declined to say anything. He could see where things were going and was quite content with putting a stop to the developers arbitrary behavior.

Bikas, representing the developer said that work on the construction site could come to a halt and the developer could move on to a different construction site and that if they sought an OMB hearing that could delay things for as much as a year – which seemed to be just fine with this Council.

Garage entrance exit problems may bring construction of the project to a halt.

Garage entrance exit problems may bring construction of the project to a halt.

Flout the rules and mess around with the planning department and you get your knuckles wrapped. The solution for Drewlo is to find a way to get that fifth entrance/exit in place fast.

The planners are now putting together a detailed report which will be given to the committee that has responsibility for the site and its development. That report gets written in language that Bruce Krushelnicki calls “bullet proof” because he fully expects his staff to have to defend the position his office took in deciding to ask a Council committee to take it off his hands.

The extent of the extremely poor working relationship between the developer and the residents was set out in correspondence the Ward councillor released in which he asked for meetings with the developer to try and resolve the differences. The developers chose not to take advantage of the office of the ward councillor Rick Craven. Construction on the site may soon come to a halt.

Residents now have some leverage over the development. The developer will produce a traffic study which the residents want to see done by the city and not a company chosen by the developer.

The planners report and its recommendations will come to a Council committee in a couple of weeks. Will the Planning department heed the shift in thinking being seen at Council and involve the residents in the discussions that could produce a solution or will the residents have to wait for an OMB hearing and make their case at that level.

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Portland had many lessons for Mayor Goldring. Two million bus riders and an 80% voter turn out impressed him

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 13, 2011 – The Mayor spent three days in Portland, Oregon last week and came back with a briefcase full of literature and a notebook filled with thoughts and ideas to follow up on.

“Portland is a much more different city than Burlington but I wanted to meet people there because they have a transit system that works and works well and they have an approach to solving their problems that made a lot of sense to me’, was his opening comment during our interview..

Burlington Mayor Rock Goldring with Portland Mayor Sam Adams.  Like minds meeting each other.

Burlington Mayor Rock Goldring with Portland Mayor Sam Adams. Like minds meeting each other.

Goldring met with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and with the Mayor of that city as well as the Portland Bureau of Transportation later in the same day. He also met with the Neighborhood Involvement groups and then with Portland’s BEST Business Centre (our BEDC) and then First Stop Portland

“They have their share of challenges” said Goldring “but what impressed me was the way they solve their problems – and he added “they run that city with a Council of five members.”

There was one statistic that really threw Goldring and that was their election turn out. In the United States voters first register, sort of the way we get our names on the voters list except that in Ontario the names of property owners are placed on the list automatically.

In Portland there is no list that is automatically created. Your name is on the voters list because you did something to put it there. In Portland – 80% of those whose names are on that voters list turn out to vote. Goldring came close to drooling when he quoted that statistic.

It isn’t exactly the view of Burlington from the Skyway bridge.  Tgis is downtown Portland Oregon where our Mayor went to exchange views and approacheds to developing a sustainable city.

It isn’t exactly the view of Burlington from the Skyway bridge. Tgis is downtown Portland Oregon where our Mayor went to exchange views and approacheds to developing a sustainable city.

What worked most for the Mayor was the way the Portland city administration and the elected Council in Portland managed to put a “different lenses” on things that came up for discussion. “They consistently look at things differently. When a problem crops up they go out of their way to look at it differently – they would put a different lens on their camera and try to see things differently and not get trapped in older, less successful ways of resolving problems.”

Portland has 95 neighbourhoods that are very well organized, explained the Mayor. “The city is a very ‘grass roots’ community with the neighbourhoods organized into seven coalitions that are strong forces within the community and are not only heard at Council but listened to as well. The neighbourhoods are engaged.”

Portland has 2 million transit passengers that use a system that has all the technology in place to tell people when the next bus is coming – real time. There is no traffic congestion in Portland. There is a fare free zone in the downtown core. Their downtown is vibrant with a Pioneer Square that is heavily programmed by the city with an amphitheatre and a speakers corner. They have bike lanes as well as lanes for people who use roller blades.

Portland is a sustainable city which is a large part of the reason the Mayor stopped off for three days on his way back from a short vacation and a family wedding in Vancouver.

“Portland does not have the challenge that Burlington faces – which is the need to retrofit suburbia’ explained Goldring. “That city is made up of clearly defined neighbourhoods that live up to the 20 minute rule – getting to whatever you need in 20 minutes. It is also a much more diverse community 26.9% of the population is described as diverse – Burlington has some distance to go on that level.

Portland wasn’t always a healthy city. In the 70’s their downtown core was decaying badly and the neighbourhoods were not as clearly defined and didn’t have as much of a voice at city hall. Portland is a city with basically three parts. S solid downtown core with healthy neighbourhoods on either side of a river that cuts through the city. But ti works because they changed the way the approached their problems.

There was a statement in one of the Portland publications that seemed to sum up everything the Mayor brought back from his visit. Expect him to read this out frequently as he goes about the city talking to different groups.

The remarks were made by a member of one of Portland’s city commissioner’s and an announced candidate for Mayor of Portland in their 2012 election. “Other cities build landmarks to put their city on the map, Portland builds them to make life better for those who live in the city. Other cities use transit primarily to alleviate traffic congestion. Portland uses transit primarily to support neighbourhood street life.”

Had Burlington decided that landmarks didn’t do much for a city in the late 90’s, we might not have the mess that exists along the waterfront. The structure that has been approved at the bottom of Elizabeth at Lakeshore, that is now stalled because the developer hasn’t found the right hotel partner yet, was to be the “landmark” that would put the city on the map.

At a Waterfront Advisory meeting last week, committee member Michael O’Sullivan passed around a copy of a 1994 – yes 1994, seventeen years ago, newspaper article of a development that was going to transform that part of the city. So far they haven’t even begun to dig the hole in the ground. All we have is a motel that is a disgrace to look at and probably needs a visit from the health department.

Staff` at city hall talked of a Mayor who had returned from Portland “buzzed and really pumped up” over what he had seen and heard. Expect to hear more form him.

“I basically ran out of time. There were other people I would have liked to have met with but – I had to get back to Burlington.”

 

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