Roses are red and if you’re a garden nut this is the time of year to use the Green Thumb to show the community what you can do.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, APRIL 25, 2011 –  There are cat people, there are sports buffs; there are political whacko’s and then – there are gardeners. Those men and woman who spend hours in the garden cultivating, weeding, seeding and nurturing flowers and shrubs.

You see them every spring at the gardening shops buying flats of whatever they fancy. For most people just spending time in the garden is enough but there are others who take huge pride in their garden and they like the idea of having “the” best garden on the block. One can only imagine just how competitive this can get.

Thirty two years ago, in 1978, the city created what is known as the Civic Rose Award (CRA) that was given by a committee made up of the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department, the Burlington Horticultural Society and the Garden Club of Burlington. The City covered all costs of the CRA program.

About ten years ago, at the City’s suggestion, the CRA steering committee became independent of the city and took their direction from a board made up of the two horticultural societies, and the interested public. The CRA committee recruited some 13 sponsors from the community, each of which contribute about $300 annually and present specific awards in their name. The City of Burlington has been one of these sponsors, contributing the prestigious “Mayor’s Cup” and providing the committee with a city facility (for some years now the Tansley Woods Center’s large room) for its awards evening, which draws some two hundred attendees.

The “grant game” is going through a change at city hall and, as City Manager Roman Martiuk less than elegantly puts it – right now the policy on grants is to say No! – no to requests for grants and no, there isn’t a policy and if Council wants a policy all they have to do is ask city staff to develop one. But there are a couple of softies on this Council and they come up with ways to give in kind grants and waive the fee for space that is normally has a fee attached to it.

Thus the Civic Rose Association presented themselves at Council and prevailed upon city Council to waive the fee for the room at Tansley Hall and all was well with the people that run the association.

Mayor Rick Goldring, obviously not a gardener and still putting together a set of political skills, suggested that the top prize should be known as the “Burlington” Cup rather than the Mayor’s Cup. In time he will realize that the 200 gardeners who appear at the awards event have favour that is well worth winning.

Some might suggest that Burlington elected the Mayor they have – not quite true. They decided they did not want to Mayor they had and chose the best option. The current Mayor has their trust, their respect and to some degree their admiration for doing the job he has done so far. But that honeymoon is not going to last forever. At some point Goldring needs his own city wide base. But this is a story about gardens – and the Civic Rose Award brings out the very, very best in gardeners. Look at the Awards for 2010.

One of the advantages of a newspaper on a web site is that a story can be aslong as we want it to be – there are no space limitation – and we can put in as
many pictures as we wish. And so here you are – the winners of the 2010 Civic Rose Awards, along with an application form to be entered into the 2011

We’ve not indicated which zone a winning garden was in or who won the other prizes – that was last year – but we did want you to see the kind of gardens that grace our city.

Just click on each picture to see the beauty.

Nominations for the 2011 can be sent in any time and must be received no later than June 25th.  Click below to get a nomination form.  All gardens must be visible from a public street, the garden must be a private residence and it must be in the city of Burlington.

View the 2010 winners

[nggallery id=1]

When we have the zones for the 2011 competition we will pass those along to you and we will of course follow the competition avidly in 2011 and publish the results in full glorious colour and detail.

Click here for 2011 Nomination Form






Return to the Front page

They want to what? Are you kidding, the contractor who walked off the job last year wants to come back?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 21, 2011 – It was a pretty quiet Council committee evening. Interesting stuff which will get covered off in material we file later in the day. Started at 6:30 and everyone was a little grumpy come 10 pm when it looked like we were all going to get to go home.

Tom Eichenbaum was on hand to give an update on the Pier. I wondered why Tom, the senior engineer was giving the update and why this was being left to the very end of the meeting. There was so much good stuff happening with the Pier that I wasn’t ready for the Kaboom!
that made the council committee move into an In Camera session and I get ushered out of the room.

The road to nowhere just hit a speed bump.

The road to nowhere just hit a speed bump.

When Eichenbaum went to the Council table he had a very thick binder in his hands –well he’s an engineer and these guys always have thick binders of stuff in their hands. After explaining that Procurement Specialist Consulting had been put in place and the city was ready to issue a contract to Cassels Brock, a Toronto based firm with a fine reputation. They even named the two people from the firm that would be taking on the task. This was good news. Progress.

The engineering department interviewed six firms to provide project management services and settled on SMA/Mettko, the firm that is doing project management for the new fire station at Appleby Line and Upper Middle Road. This meant the city was going to be working with people they already knew. This was good news. Progress.

Morrison Hersfield was already in place as the Design Consultants. They advised early in April that the permit process was coming along just fine. When a new contractor is put in place everything has to go back almost to square one. New drawings have to be prepared, no one was prepared to rely on drawings from the original design team – they were the guys that provided a design that basically fell apart during a concrete pour.

Poor weather has delayed a structural inspection and the underwater inspection is scheduled to get done at the end of the month. The site survey has been completed. Appreciate that when the original contractor walked off the job the gates were locked and that was it – nothing was done other than to secure the site.

The drawings for the structural steel had commenced. This was good news. Progress.

Everything was coming along just fine and the Mayor was less apologetic about the Pier.

Then Eichenbaum casually mentioned that a document had been delivered to the Engineering with a proposal from the bonding company about a consortium that had been put together to complete the Pier – and that the consortium included the original contractor who had walked away from the job late last year. This was not good news. This was not progress.

Well it was one of those ‘slap me silly’ moments. Here we are doing just fine – going our own way after the original contractor walked off the job and the insurance company said they were not going to honour the performance bond the original contractor had put in place.

The city had ended its relationship with the original project management company and had all but completed the process of putting a new team in place to get the Pier built – and now this?

Eichenbaum was reporting that his staff had only been able to give the document a cursory look and would get into the details and do a full scale review and report back when they have been able to arrive at an opinion. Well, he has to do that. But I’ll bet my allowance that he also put in a call to the legal people to give them a heads up.

Heck we are in the process of suing Zurich Insurance for not paying the performance bond and we are suing the original contractor for walking off the job and we are suing the original contract managers for not doing their job. It took this council close to four months to get all the crap out of the way and get the city to the point where there was movement on the project. Now what?

Tom Eichenbaum wasn’t smiling when he left the Council Chamber and there were voices raised loud enough while Council was In Camera, that they could be heard in the foyer outside the chamber.

It was tough to read the faces of the seven council members when they moved back into open session. The Mayor did say to the Director of Communications that there wouldn’t be any big splashy event to celebrate the opening of the Pier.

This might be a bit of a set back and it may move the Grand Opening date back a bit – but this latest problem is not the fault of anyone on this council or within the Engineering department. They have all pulled together to clean up a real mess.

Imagine that you are dressed in your finest on Easter Sunday and you step outside the house and a robin flies overhead and does what most birds do then they fly – splat on your freshly cleaned suit. S… happens and you just have to clean it up and move on. But Burlington didn’t need this set back.

Let’s hope that the Mayor gets out in front of this one and doesn’t hide behind the advice of the lawyers. Just tell the public as much as you can about what are up against ands ask for their patience and support.



Return to the Front page

They aren’t being evicted but the Magnificent Seven don’t think they are getting the respect they deserve from staff.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 20, 2011 – The budget is locked in place and everyone seems pleased. So what’s next? Well, new on the radar screen is a squabble about just where the Magnificent Seven are going to perch. Right now they are squirreled away in what Mayor Rick Goldring called “absolutely terrible office space” that he didn’t like one bit when he was just a council member. “There were times when I could hear three different conversations in adjoining offices” he commented at a Council meeting while a report was being reviewed on how space in City Hall was to be allocated.

Six of the Magnificent Seven aren’t being evicted but they are being sent packing – all the way up to the seventh floor.

Six of the Magnificent Seven aren’t being evicted but they are being sent packing – all the way up to the seventh floor.

There is as yet no consensus on what the best configuration should be. The matter of space was brought up when senior city hall staff wanted to put all the Clerk’s staff and the communications people in one location. The Clerks share the space on the ground floor with city councillors and their assistants.

Kim Phillips, General Manager Corporate Services, told Council that the moving around of staff wasn’t being driven by concerns as to where council members should be but rather by internal requirements. That didn’t go down particularly well with Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Rick Craven thinks every member of Council should be on the ground floor where they can be seen. Right now the Mayor is on the eighth floor and Council members on the first floor. Ms Phillips didn’t think putting city council on the ground floor where they could be seen was the best use of what she called prime space. She explained that council members are at the Region quite a bit and out in there wards frequently.

Sharman doesn’t have a window in his office and doesn’t feel appreciated either.

Sharman doesn’t have a window in his office and doesn’t feel appreciated either.

Councillor Paul Sharman had major concerns with the way staff was handling the proposed move to the seventh floor and was verbally sparring with Ms Phillips when he said the seventh floor was inconvenient but what bothered Sharman most was that he wondered when Staff was going to think about Council? The move was being driven by a need to get all the Clerk and the communications in one place. “We are being left behind, it is as if we are not really legitimate, we are just politicians.”

“Leadership” maintained Sharman “is Council and we should be right out front, we should be visible and on the ground floor where we are accessible. I don’t feel valued where I am now.” The offices the Council members currently occupy are stuffy little places with a single meeting room that looks like a bunker with no window. Several of the Council members have offices with no window and there is no coffee service. The space really is quite crummy, painted an institutional green that went out of style twenty years ago and certainly doesn’t suggest any dignity. All of the General Managers have much better space.

When things get a little sticky at Council or Committee meetings, City Manager Roman Martiuk steps in and usually starts his comments with the words: “Let me put this in context and then he proceeds to pour oil on troubled waters. Martiuk explained that the city I currently renting space in the Sims building across the street from City Hall and that staff was taking longer look at their space requirements and added that Councillor Sharman’s comments were heard.

At that point Kim Phillips piped in that she has a high regard for Council and that there is a longer report on space needs in the works. She added that this discussion was really about customer service and not about dumping council some place. She added that she felt they should all be together.

Councillor Taylor, an easy going guy, whom Councillor Lancaster has taken to calling “JT” wanted to know why the report on moving people around was even in front of the committee. “Our organizational review is at least two years away, there is no need to move, I believe most of the council members are comfortable”. That wasn’t quite the case. Councillor Craven said he liked the first floor because it allowed him to walk to any department he needed to talk to but he did feel that everyone should be in the same location, which for Craven would mean moving the Mayor down from the eight floor to the ground floor.

Mead Ward has a window in her office and institutional green walls

Mead Ward has a window in her office and institutional green walls

Councillor Lancaster said she felt having everyone together was a good idea. Councillor Mead Ward said her office was “virtual” and that it didn’t matter to her where she was – as long as she had her cell phone.

The Mayor said he felt detached from things being on the eighth floor. The plan was to move the council members and their assistants to the seventh floor where they could walk down one level to the sixth where the General Managers are and up one floor to where the Mayor and the City Manager are located

As the debate took place one could sense the tension between Council and Staff. The Council accommodation is dumpy and this Council wants to be treated with more respect and given office space that is not an embarrassment. Kim Phillips pointed out that the ground floor space is used by the public who went to City Hall last year to get 660 marriage licenses; have 1150 documents commissioned and to record 1400 deaths. Traffic to the offices of the Council members is not as heavy as the traffic is for service at the Clerk’s counter.

A move to the seventh floor was passed with one of those dreaded 4-3 votes.



Return to the Front page

Well for the most part, they got it right, they just don’t like the route taken to get to where they got.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 20, 2011 – Just about everyone who sat through the 2011 Budget Orientation sessions (they were brutal) and then the actual fashioning of the budget agrees that there has to be a better way to do these things.

Council and staff would like more public input and they want spending to be based on a clearly understood longer term plan. That couldn’t happen for 2011 because the Strategic Plan wasn’t in place. The desire is for specific performance measurements which focuses on service delivery outcomes. In other words – are we getting what we are paying for.

This Council is not going to have a Strategic Plan in place until sometime in September and while the hope is the plan will identify the directions for this term of council, Mayor Rick Goldring “believes preparation must begin now to affect future budgets” and he presented a Staff Direction which was accepted by the Budget and Corporate Services Committee. Here is what they are setting out to do:

That staff be directed to conduct a budget debrief with members of Council and staff for the purpose of identifying levels of satisfaction and areas of improvement for 2012 and report back to Council in June 2011. This is not an evaluation on the results of the budget but rather the process, timelines, public input and methodology.

That staff be directed to provide Committee with a report no later than September 2011 outlining the key deliverables, timelines, cost and resources required to develop and implement performance-based budgeting and reporting for the City of Burlington as it relates to the Strategic Goals and Objectives.

The observation with this Staff Direction is that the people who managed the whole process are the people who are going to carry out the review. Whoever debriefs the Council members will certainly get an earful and someone will churn out a report that lays out all the concerns.

How then do the people who managed the Budget process last time around take the concerns and do it all differently (and hopefully more efficiently) next time. More than a majority of the Council members will say they did not like the way they had to dig and dig for information and that there were too many surprises and that there were Briefings that were tedious, self serving and not necessary.

Will the Executive Budget Committee hear what they are told and return with a process and understandable procedures to allow this Council, which is working quite effectively, come in with a tax increase of less than 1% tax next year?



Return to the Front page

The job is done, the harvest is in but there are no seeds to be sown next Spring.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 18, 2011 – There is always a sense of relief and regret when a term of office ends. If it’s an elected position there is huge regret when you lose. It isn’t much different when a term of office for community service comes to an end. You get the plaque, the (hopefully) warm round of applause and the complimentary comments on the job you did. And then you go home, you put your feet up – and then what do you do ?

A knowledge economy at work.  Gregory spends as much time at a keyboard as he does promoting Burlington.

A knowledge economy at work. Gregory spends as much time at a keyboard as he does promoting Burlington.

If community service is one of your passions, if you believe that part of your reason for being on this earth is to serve and make the place better for others – sitting at home watching television isn’t very high on the priority list. And that is where Mark Gregory finds himself this week. He serves in other capacities in the city but the task that kept him really busy and invigorated was the Chairmanship of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. BEDC, a non profit that looks for new companies that think they might like to call Burlington home. An equally large part of the job is to make sure that those who have chosen Burlington stick around.

Gregory who served as a member of the BEDC for four years got chosen by the Board to lead the corporation at a time when layoffs were being made throughout the city and while no one had to shut down and cease operating, it was far from smooth sailing for the Burlington economy as the world weathered a nasty recession.

That recession impacted many organizations in Burlington, including Locomotion, a Burling based communications and public relations firm of which Gregory is the Managing Partner.

Gregory chose to use the time to grow the business community rather than to go into a defensive mode and out of that growth came a number of intriguing initiatives that appear to have served the city exceptionally well. Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the BEDC developed a Rapid Response protocol to deal with those extraordinary situations when a deal was close to closing but needed that extra push to get it done.

For Gregory it was vital that the BEDC take a strategic approach to the situation they faced and he gives an example on how the organization could be “strategic” using the membership it had on it’s Board. Gregory explains that the talent within the BEDC is what makes it possible to pull together a Rapid Response team which is a significant plus – but the talent on the Board is exceptionally deep. “We have a Board member from the IT field, Louise St-Pierre, Senior Vice President, Residential Services, Cogeco Cable Canada LP who was at one point the Chief Information Officer for her organization and is now an Executive vice president located in Burlington.

“She has her finger tips in every significant information technology change on the horizon and we have that talent at our table. We get briefings at every Board meeting and if we see a situation where we need some advice and content briefings when a new prospect is looking at Burlington, a very informed comment is available to us. Few communities have this depth of talent on their Board and we can use that talent to help make strategic decisions.”

One of the effective and pleasurable working tools Gregory developed was his Friday afternoon beer sessions that he will regret letting go. But we all move on and Gregory can let that one go. However, I’m pretty sure Gregory will take a phone call to get together for a beer almost any Friday afternoon.

Mark Gregory cover off last minute details with Lauren Griesbach before the start of the BEDC AGM.

Mark Gregory cover off last minute details with Lauren Griesbach before the start of the BEDC AGM.

Gregory fully understood the need for Burlington to create a “knowledge economy” and he sees the role that the DeGroote school of Business is going to play, as it works its way into the fabric of both the city and the business community, as a very significant part of the transition. That DeGroote facility came on stream during the last part of Gregory’s term of office. “Innovation has to be our top priority” maintains Gregory and he realizes that our continued growth depends upon being innovative.

Mark Gregory will chair the Nomination Committee for the next two years and in that way continue to have an impact on the new blood being brought into the BEDC. He will also serve on the Executive Committee that Executive Director Benham turns to when there is some heavy lifting to be done.

Asked if he did the job he set out to do when he became Chairman, Gregory demurs and says that is for others to say.

The BEDC sponsors a number of events that serve as a networking hub for the large corporations in the city. They include the Economic Outlook Breakfast, the Mayor’s Networking Lunch and their Signature event at which they recognize and honour the entrepreneur of the year.

While economic development is a passion for Gregory the city of Burlington has him getting all mushy and soft. He has worked in many cities; Lethbridge, Edmonton, Regina – and none he says compares to what Burlington has to offer. He was obviously a natural to lead the BEDC. As Chair of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation at a time when the city was struggling to get through a recession we could do nothing about, Gregory maintained the course and has now turned the helm over to someone else. His dance card has an open spot on it.




Return to the Front page

Museums Foundation receives $1.4 M bequest from Caldwell Estate. Big plans for Joseph Brant Museum expansion

By Staff

Burlington, On—April 18, 2011 The Joseph Brant Museum just might have a life afterall. The Museums Foundation announced receipt of a $1.4 million bequest from the estate of the Helen Ireland Caldwell. Caldwell, who passed away in August 2010, was first cousin to Marie Ireland, the last Ireland family member to live in historic Ireland House before it was bought by the city and turned into a museum in 1987.

“The Helen Caldwell estate is very pleased that her bequest to the Burlington Museums Foundation will be used to help preserve Burlington’s heritage,” said estate executor Paul Charlebois, Q.C. “The Burlington of today rests on the foundation of the values of its pioneer families.”

“We’re extremely grateful for Helen Caldwell’s generous gift and for her commitment and generosity to the museums of Burlington over many years,” said John Doyle, chair of the Burlington Museums Foundation. “She leaves a great historical legacy that supports the rich heritage our community.”

Helen Ireland Caldwell was a volunteer at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Joseph Brant Museum, the Ireland House at Oakridge Farm, and a longtime member of the Burlington Historical Society.

Born in 1918 Helen Mary Ireland was . 21, 1918 in Hamilton. She was a case worker for the Children’s Aid Society in Hamilton from 1959 to 1983. Helen was instrumental in carrying out Marie Ireland’s dream of turning the Ireland home into a museum.

Helen married Charles Clelland Caldwell in 1948 in Hamilton.  Charles died in 1959, when he was only 39 years of age.

Built between 1835 and 1837, Ireland House at Oakridge Farm was the home of Joseph Ireland, one of Burlington’s earliest settlers. Emigrating from Bowes, Yorkshire, England in 1819 at the age of 27, he petitioned for land at Oakridge Farm and so began a legacy that continues today.

Joseph and his descendants lived in Ireland House until 1985. In 1987, the City of Burlington bought the property from the estate of Lucie Marie Ireland Bush and set up a museum, restoring the homestead to show three distinct time periods that represent the generations of Irelands who lived in the house: the 1850s, 1890s and 1920s.

The property consists of four acres of woodland, gardens, potting shed, cottage/drive shed, and picnic areas. The Museums offer tours of the property, living historical demonstrations, special events and educational programs .



Return to the Front page

Is it over? Nope – election is May 2nd but thousands of women are said to have ended their relationship with Steve. Sigh

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 18, 2011 – The objective was to have women outvote men by at least 10%. In the upcoming federal election. Eric Williams thought he had come up with a unique idea to get woman to vote by asking them to make a video of them telling Prime Minister Steven Harper that “It was Over” – they were ending their relationship with him.

Williams encouraged woman to do short videos on how they would tell ‘Steve’ it was over which he then strung together and posted as a video You Tube. And it worked – sort of. It’s cute but I don’t think it is going to b a game changer by any stretch of ones imagination.

Williams, a McMaster University students doing a degree in communications and history is certainly communicating but not making much history. There are three videos up with woman in different cities making videos and there is traffic to the You Tube site.

“The main video was at 34,000 when I started editing last night, and was at 41k when I came home this morning”, said Williams. He adds that the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The game has changed”, declares Williams.  “We have a chance to really shape this election by significantly increasing female voter turnout.  Major papers and TV are covering “It’s Over Steve” plus we just got endorsed by Margaret Atwood and several MPs.  . There are tons of stories

Williams claims Harper himself has to keep pretending like we don’t exist, no matter how huge this gets.  “He might pander more to women, or broadly criticize web politics, but he will never speak about us by name.  That’s how we are going to defeat him.  I hasten to add that I wish he and his family no ill will, especially Laureen Harper, who always comes across as a lovely person.

“Right now the political parties seem almost blind to us.  They aren’t really engage and they aren’t changing their message.  Once they realize how decisive women are going to be in this election, they’ll be tripping over themselves to win their support.  This truly is a golden opportunity for Canadian women.”

We just want women to think and talk together, and get out and vote.  It’s going to make for a better and more progressive Canada.  I really truly do believe this, and that’s why the campaign is the way it is.  It’s time for women to have a turn and decide for Canada

Check out the You Tube web site:



Return to the Front page

It was love at first hearing, she was swept off her feet and sat in contented bliss while sweet sounds entered her ear.

By Pepper Parr – almost totally plagiarized from a Sarah Banks blog

BURLINGTON, ON April 18, 2011 – It’s no secret, I feel like somewhat of an outsider here in Burlington. On the rare occasion that I spot someone with the potential to be like-minded (I’ve got excellent radar in this regard), I have to get a hold of myself and rein in my inclination to exhibit bizarre gestures of desperation. “Hey there! You look like my kind. Open-minded, progressive thinker with an appreciation for sarcasm, sustainable development, humanity and CBC Radio. Wanna be friends?”

Christopher Hume. The man speaks my language. And then some. <br> Photo credit: Randy Risling
Christopher Hume. The man speaks my language. And then some.
Photo credit: Randy Risling

I had to exercise particular constraint this past Tuesday when I saw the wise and wonderful Christopher Hume speak at the Inspire Burlington speaker series hosted by Mayor Rick Goldring. I felt like he’d arrived on the mothership (in this case, the GO Train) and I was more than ready to be transported back to Planet Toronto with him.

In case you don’t know, Mr. Hume is the wry and outspoken architecture critic and urban affairs reporter for The Toronto Star. He knows what makes for a great city and he doesn’t hesitate to let you know when Toronto (or in this case, Burlington) isn’t making the grade.

As a relatively new Toronto transplant, I too have not held back in my criticisms of B-town. Occasionally, I sense I may have a few behind-the-scenes foes who don’t share my disdain and wish I would shut my trap.  So it was nice to have a little validation with Hume’s expert insight in the room.

Among his many observations, Hume feels the design of Burlington leaves much to be desired. “A lot of Burlington’s problems are design problems,” he said. He shared some less than impressive slides of forgettable intersections and nondescript streetscapes. He gave moderate credit to the dynamics of the stretch of Lakeshore Blvd occupied by Pepperwoods and Benny’s but was quick to note that the romance only lasted one block.

The important thing, he said, is not the height. “It’s how the building meets the street. Is it interesting? Is it engaging? It’s what’s happening at the street level.”

Early on in Hume’s presentation, he put it right out there for the 150+ crowd to chew on—”Burlington is run by the development industry.” I’m pretty sure I clapped the loudest. Right on, Hume. Tell it like is.

As a member of the Burlington Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee, I’m especially interested in what goes on behind closed doors with city staff and the Robert Moses‘ of Burlington. Not surprisingly, I’m skeptical and have my doubts that the development deals being done in this town put the needs of residents first. But I’m also resolute in my desire to show that we (the lowly residents) have more power and influence than we may realize. And we’re entitled to it, to boot. But I digress. Back to my hero, Hume. One of his more gentle reflections was that “the buildings are the buildings but the important thing is what happens in between them.” In other words, the opportunity for urban vibrancy and life in general to occur is made possible by a combination of both organic goings-on of humanity and thoughtful long-term planning decisions.

There is a unique one-shot opportunity for Burlington to succeed in achieving this urban design magic, described above.  I would love to know what Hume’s thoughts are on the Old Lakeshore Road Precinct. Aside from hazard lands, the City owns none of this precious parcel on the downtown waterfront. It is owned by a combination of developers and individuals. Condos *will* be built there and we as citizens have an opportunity to influence what this prime chunk of land will evolve into.

It won’t be easy but it’s also not impossible.

The question now is: did she get his autograph?




Return to the Front page

Economic development gang meets at a moneyed estate – hoping some of the wealth once there will rub off.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 7, 2011 – It was perhaps appropriate for the Annual General Meeting of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) to take place at the Paletta Mansion. The site has history and wealth attached to it; first when it was given to Laura Secord by the British Crown for her role in the War of 1812. Secord, a Canadian heroine had alerted the British of a American attack plan. The property went through a number of hands before it was bought by Cyrus Albert Birge who used the property as a summer playground.

When Birge died suddenly in 1929 he left a fortune to his daughter Edythe Merriam MacKay who built the mansion we use today with her inheritance. Those years were different times and the monied set lived a life of leisure. Birge had amassed quite a fortune when her merged a screw manufacturing company into what eventually came to be known as the Steel Company of Canada.

The property’s mansion ranks among the finest representations of great estate homes designed and built in Burlington in the two decades between 1912 and 1932, and was the last of its kind and quality to be built in Burlington. Paletta hardly gets a mention in the literature – he put up a couple of million dollars to pay for the purchase when it looked as if the city was not going to be able to acquire the site.

Some 75 people gathered for the AGM to approve a financial report (which had a surplus) and install a new board of Directors that has five more directors than Royal Bank of Canada.

Leo DeLoyde, former General Manager of Development and Infrastructure for the city of Burlington and also a former CEO of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation before it was spun off as the stand alone organization it is today was on hand.

Stranger shows up for a service award and a free dinner.  Leo DeLoyde talks with fellow guest at the BEDC AGM

Stranger shows up for a service award and a free dinner. Leo DeLoyde talks with fellow guest at the BEDC AGM

The BEDC had a decent 2010 with 42% of its revenue coming from the city and 68% from other grants and revenue it generates..

The incoming chair is John Chisholm, Partner and CEO of SB Partners who will serve a two year term. He is joined by Louise St-Pierre, Senior Vice President, Residential Services, Cogeco Cable Canada LP , Paul Subject, President, STANMECH Technologies Inc. and Ruta Stauskas, Vice President, Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd.

The BEDC reported 852 new jobs were brought to Burlington in 2010, 27% of which were created in the professional services field. The organization had a construction target of 400,000 sq ft of new space for Burlington and brought in 380,000. Overall, the organization was just a little shy on most of its target which was seen as acceptable given that the Canadian economy is just pulling away from a rather savage recession in the United States.

John Chisholm, CEO of SB Partners starts a two year term as Chair of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.  He leads an organization that weathered a recession – tough act to follow.

John Chisholm, CEO of SB Partners starts a two year term as Chair of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. He leads an organization that weathered a recession – tough act to follow.

The future hope for the BEDC lay in the new initiatives that were put in place – the most successful being the Rapid Response Team, a concept developed by Executive Director Kyle Benham. As he explained the concept – there are situations where a deal is close to closing but there are still significant outstanding issues. That is when Benham is able to call on a team of people that is flexible and immediately available. A closing deal may require some input from a financier, help from the city planning department, some give on the part of a developer; – each situation is different. What is consistent however is the need for a rapid response to the situation that needs that little extra, last minute push in order to close.

“We can do that in a city the size of Burlington” explains Benham “because while we are not a huge city there is a depth of talent that is accessible and immediately available.

We’ve pulled together Rapid Response teams in a number of situations and while we are not always successful it isn’t because we didn’t have the talent we needed.” Burlington is one of a few municipalities in Ontario that can deploy this type of talent which is seen as a Best Practice in the economic development field.

Another BEDC initiative is the evolution of the work force in the community. Having the deGroote school of Business unit of McMaster University in Burlington gives us access to an academic institution many communities don’t have and that is a big draw for people looking for a community in which to locate. The BEDC is also continuing with the Next Generation Manufacturing Project. The changes taking place in 21st century manufacturing make it imperative for corporations to be on top of what is happening. We are able to do develop this kind of program and make it available to the manufacturing sector.

The BEDC is continually improving its investment profile, which is the image and view that the world has of Burlington. “Our job” explains Benham, “is to create am image for Burlington that makes us an attractive choice for companies that want to locate in a stable, safe community that is very close to its markets.

It was the way the BEDC had chosen to improve and develop that profile that got a bit of a rough ride at a Council committee meeting where the planned budget for 2011 was discussed. Benham had plans to visit Appledoorn, our sister city in Europe, to try and entice a Dutch company to locate in Burlington. Council didn’t get very excited about that idea.

Kyle Benham takes the BEDC through another AMG – this time he has a surplus to show for his efforts.

Kyle Benham takes the BEDC through another AMG – this time he has a surplus to show for his efforts.

Mark Gregory eases out of a two year stint as chair of the BEDC and looks forward to the next community service task.

Mark Gregory eases out of a two year stint as chair of the BEDC and looks forward to the next community service task.

Nor did council fully take to the explanation that the development of small business in Burlington was best done at the Regional level. Council felt that five new small business operations that create 25 jobs is realistic, but that bringing in a large corporation that will create 125 new jobs was very hard to achieve. Much more so for Burlington which doesn’t have any class A office space in the downtown core.

It was evident that there was a bit of tension between city council and the BEDC as to where they should be looking for those new jobs everyone wants to see come to Burlington. Most economic forecasters believe that small business is the best driver of economic growth in Ontario and that that is where the effort to build local economies should be focused

At his Q&A with members of the Chamber of Commerce earlier this month Mayor Rick Goldring mentioned that he wanted to see and was working towards more Small Business creation in the city.

John Chisholm and his Board have their work cut out for them as the BEDC and the city work out a business development philosophy that is more closely aligned. Mark Gregory steered the ship through a very nasty recession but if there is to be smooth sailing the way the growth objective is reached needs some work.



Return to the Front page

New form of social communication seen in Burlington. Demonstrators brave cold to talk to politicians wearing ear muffs.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 15, 2011 – I mentioned to the photographer who was taking pictures of the demonstration in front of the Waterfront Hotel on Lakeshore Road Friday morning that not very many people were honking their horns.

“Hey pal”, he responded, “this is Burlington and demonstrations are unheard of in this town.” But it was most certainly a demonstration and the more than 55 people from the Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition wanted to make sure Tim Hudak, Leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park knew how they felt about his view the the GTA xx highway was a good idea.

More than 50 demonstrators kept their banner stretched across the front of the Waterfront Hotel in Burlington Friday morning – asking the public to support their objective of keeping any kind of highway from running through the Escarpment

More than 50 demonstrators kept their banner stretched across the front of the Waterfront Hotel in Burlington Friday morning – asking the public to support their objective of keeping any kind of highway from running through the Escarpment

It was a cold windy morning but they were out there and they were noisy. Hudak took it all in stride as he entered the hotel to speak to the Progressive Conservative party faithful – but didn’t say a word about the demonstration. And, based on the comment made by those who wear blue instead of red inside the hotel – the demonstration fell on deaf ears. That didn’t stop the scurrilous comment that the demonstrators were being paid $80.00 at demonstrate. The Coalition wishes it had $80. to buy hot chocolate for the demonstrators. This group is about as grass roots as it gets. They represent 12 community organizations with some 7000 people on their mailing list.

Geoff Brock does a stand up piece for a television news camera during the demonstration against long range plans for a highway through the Niagara Escarpment.

Geoff Brock does a stand up piece for a television news camera during the demonstration against long range plans for a highway through the Niagara Escarpment.

But media is what these public demonstrations are all about and they certainly got coverage. The aim of the Coalition is to keep the issue in front of the public – one can expect to see more of this type of thing. Queen’s Park is a future stop for the people with the banner sign.

Meanwhile, inside the hotel a more than respectable crowd of Progressive Conservatives showed up with all the usual suspects on hand. Brian Heagle and Rene Papin, both declared candidates for the seat that Joyce Savoline has decided not to contest again, were on hand pressing the flesh. Ted Chudleigh and anyone else that wanted to get elected as well as the people that make a political party viable were on hand. Jimmy Tap was there was well – looking rather dapper in a well cut sports jacket. Gosh – even Cam Jackson was on hand and took a bow when called upon.

Tim Hudak, Leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition at Queen’s Park chats with Rene Papin before his pep talk to the party faithful at a breakfast meeting.  Papin is one of two declared candidates for the provincial nomination in Burlington.
Tim Hudak, Leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition at Queen’s Park chats with Rene Papin before his pep talk to the party faithful at a breakfast meeting. Papin is one of two declared candidates for the provincial nomination in Burlington.

Hudak didn’t speak for very long and there was nothing trenchant in the remarks he made. The Smart Meters (the Dalton McGuinty initiative to get people to use hydro power during off peak times) have to go and the LIN’s (Local Health Integration Networks) will get booted out of existence even faster if Hudak can form a government next October.

Hudak told his audience that he saw great hope for Conservatives federally based on the way he saw the election going. Mile Wallace, the federal MP for Burlington and up for election against a young Liberal doing much better than many expected, sure hopes Hudak is right.

And just to show that Hudak was a straight up kind of guy he announced that he would be out canvassing with Mike Wallace and with Ted Chudleigh and meeting with some of Burlington’s business leaders.



Return to the Front page

Another fan – with a point of view. He might be right!

BURLINGTON, ON April 15, 2011

Good Morning

A good friend of mine Jim Barnett called me an hour or so ago about the article you wrote about my delegation before Council on Monday night. I certainly understand your point of view but don’t agree with it.

Do you know that Council took away from all non union staff their annual cost of living increase for 2011.(Perhaps you should have researched and included that fact in your article) This was the backdrop to my comment on pay. Could you imagine them taking an increase and all staff being asked to forego the same increase? What Council did was take the lead which was in my opinion the right thing to do under the circumstances.

The article on Joe Lamb’s delegation to city hall is here.

By the way I enjoy your website. I have added it to my favourites.


Joe  Lamb




Return to the Front page

It isn’t going to be Breakfast at Tiffany’s for Hudak Friday morning. Cold porridge and a no highway here demonstration.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 14, 2011 – The Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) will be serving Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak a reminder for breakfast at the Burlington Chamber of Commerce’s morning meeting this Friday. The SEHC is protesting Hudak’s promise to build the Niagara to GTA Highway (previously called the Mid-Peninsula Highway) from Fort Erie to North Burlington if elected Premier. Demonstrators will let him know that the highway is not wanted.

Hudak is attending a breakfast meeting for the Burlington Chamber of Commerce:

  • Friday, April 15, 2011
  • Protesters to attend from 7:15AM to 8:00AM
  • Breakfast to be served at 8:00AM
  • Waterfront Hotel
  • 2020 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario (at the foot of Brant St. at Lakeshore Rd.)

The Coalition is committed to ensuring there is no new highway ripped through the Niagara Escarpment, a national treasure and UNESCO reserve. They also want to highlight the importance of this issue for all Ontario taxpayers. “It may not be your backyard – but it’s your back pocket,” said Susan McMaster, Co-Chair of COPE. “Hudak is planning to spend billions of dollars for a highway that isn’t needed. That’s a cost we’ll all bear.”

That arrow is where they bureaucrats and planners wanted to ram a road through.  And that battle isn’t over yet.

That arrow is where they bureaucrats and planners wanted to ram a road through. And that battle isn’t over yet.

The highway got to be called the Green Arrow when it appeared on a provincial government map last October to the surprise of just about everyone. The community pulled together quite quickly with a voice that was loud enough to have the provincial government put a hold on the idea which at the time they said was just a concept.

For Hudak this issue has become the “apple of his eye” because he thinks he can earn more votes promoting the highway than we would if he were to oppose it. The Coalition which was conceived when Burlington Councillors Blair Lancaster and John Taylor held a public meting that saw more than 800 people in the Mainway Arena. Out of that came a list of people and organizations that almost immediately had signs out on the back roads of northern Burlington and then hours of time in meeting rooms creating an organization that pulled together a dozen different community groups with support from both the Region and the city.

Hudak is now up against a very well organized Coalition that has exceptionally sound support from the city of Burlington. While the candidates for the Burlington provincial seat are quite due to the federal election – you can bet the mortgage money that none of them will be with Hudak Friday morning. Support for the Green Arrow isn’t going to pull in votes in this city.

Signs like this were out on the back roads of Burlington days after the Coalition was formed.

Signs like this were out on the back roads of Burlington days after the Coalition was formed.

While keeping the pressure on Hudak The Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition people have not forgotten what the provincial government is doing. In March 2011 the Ministry of Transportation released the latest report on the status of the project. Public comment must be submitted by June 6, 2011. The report includes optimizing existing road networks, a new highway from Fort Erie to Welland and continued study on a highway commencing at the 403 in Ancaster and cutting through Flamborough on the way to toll highway 407 in North Burlington.

The coalition maintains that this would irreparably damage Niagara Escarpment, agricultural land and eco-systems along the way. The Coalition is currently canvassing Federal election candidates on their position on a National Transport Policy and intends to publish the results. Members believe this is needed to ensure rail transport options are given due consideration in the Niagara GTA project as well as overall sustainable transport planning.

The local provincial candidates are being canvassed as well for their views on the highway.

Finally, a real local issue. Should be fun.


Return to the Front page

How do you tell the guy? “We need to move on”, “It’s over” “We can still be friends?” Women are asked to share their experiences.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 13, 2011 – This is supposed to be the election that is going to be dominated by social media. Everyone is tweeting or posting a message to their Facebook page and this is all supposed to keep us in the loop and know, to the last second, what’s going on. Ok, if you say so – I suppose.

All that ability to communicate with us is a step beyond the telemarketers interrupting dinner – but its happening so I guess we have to live with it. Right?

It isn’t all doom and gloom though – there are some funny things going on. The Raging Grannies have done a song that is available on You Tube. And Eric Williams of Hamilton has created a You Tube section with a feature that is titled: It’s over Steve!

The theme is of women who are talking to some man in their life and telling him that the relationship is over. Women will identify with this one – and some of it is really quite funny.

Williams’ take is asking women who have a camera attached to their computer to do a little piece on how they would end a relationship – in this case with Stephen Harper.

“They are just regular everyday Canadian women.  Strangers I recruited off the street after we setup our shot.  Basically I said, stare into the camera and break up with Steve in 60 seconds or less, just like you have before, or have seen in movies.    The girls did their own acting.” And now they are getting their 15 minutes of fame.

Williams is a communications student at McMaster University where he is doing two undergrad degrees and would like to see his effort go “viral” which in the world of the techies is like taking down all ten pins with one bowling ball – three times in a row. Big stuff.

Williams says he “is not affiliated with any political party and hasn’t  received funding from anyone.  We have big plans for future episodes to be released this week and throughout the election.

“The goal”, says Williams, “is to boost the female turnout on election day.  I’d like to see their turnout be at least 10% higher than the last election. Women are awesome at social networking and I think it’s gonna work.”

“We are having a great time making these! And adds: What an age we live in, eh? Can’t get much more Canadian than that. McLuhan would call it cool!.

You get viral when people see the item and pass it along to their friends – some of these things spread around the world in a matter of hours. Sort of like watching a “wave” at a hockey game.

The “It’s over Steve! Gets a little political at the end – we apologize for that. We pass it on in the spirit of good fun. If you happen to come across something on Ignatieff or Duceppe or Layton in a similar vein – pass them along. We need something to take for the assault on our senses during election campaigns.



Here you go:  Its Over Steve – Episode 1



Return to the Front page

Salt with Pepper: So – who won? Won what? The federal election debate. Oh, that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 13, 2011 Thousands of Canadians tuned into the federal election debate on television but I’m betting most of them didn’t stay for the full two hours. It got kinda boring, no it got very boring at times. Was there a winner? Yeah – Jack Layton actually won the debate – but he hasn’t a hope in Hades of winning the election and his health is such that he probably would not be able to finish the term were he to win.

But he did get off some of the best lines. Stephen Harper was the same, empty, bloodless person he has always been. The man just doesn’t emit any sense of empathy. Michael Ignatieff was OK – but if the sense that he needed a knockout punch to win – then he didn’t win because there was no knockout punch.

Gilles Duceppe was in there plugging away for Quebec’s interests. Odd that he could be part of the debate but the Greens were not given a place at the table. Elizabeth May is at least lively, focused and good at going for the juggler. However, five candidates would have been too many. Why does Duceppe take part in a debate for English Canadians – shouldn’t he be limited to just the French debate?

I watched the debate at two different locations – the Mike Wallace Conservative campaign office and at the Alyssa Brierley Liberal campaign office. Mike had the larger crowd – maybe 15% larger. He was also serving beer and wine. And the usual suspects were at his event. The Mike crowd were quite boisterous and guffawed like fans in a tavern watching a hockey game.

When Jack Layton sucker punched Ignatieff over his House of Commons attendance record one voice in the Wallace crowd hollered out: “Thanks for that Jack.” To the Wallace crowd it was all great sport and they felt their guy was more than holding his own. Mike himself was in fine form.

Try as Ignatieff might he was never able to make the point that the election was taking place because the government had been found in contempt of the House of Commons. That is a big deal and it will be part of the Harper legacy. Harper wouldn’t see it that way – he saw it all as “bickering” between political parties that was wasting everyone’s time – especially his.

It was interesting to note that while the two local campaign managers were roughly the same age and appeared to me to be good at what they do – the Liberal crowd was younger and much more engaged. The Wallace crowd was definitely older and reminded me of the people that were at one of the early Cam Jackson campaign for Mayor events. You didn’t get the sense that they were as aware or “with it” as the Liberal crowd.

The Liberals were quieter than the Tory’s. Alyssa Brierley was “tweeting” throughout the debate. There was the sense at the Liberal event that Iggy did OK – he didn’t make any monumental goofs, and he was certainly miles ahead of poor Stephane Dion. Ignatieff had been well briefed and knew his file and at times the passion in the man did come through but never with the vigor that was needed.

While election signs are not a particularly reliable measure of support for a candidate, there appear to be more of the red ones than the blue ones out there and a lot of the blue ones appear to be on commercial property rather than homes of people who can fill in a ballot. There are some of the orange ones and I’ve seen a few of the green ones as well.

Harper did more than hold his own. He was standing there taking on all comers and while the answers were acceptable, other than his explanation that there was no money to be saved on the new fighter jets he planned on buying – as he said they wouldn’t be spending a dime for another five years.

Did the country trust Harper anymore after the debate than they did before? I don’t think so – but the country is getting used to the guy. Will he get the majority he needs? Really hard to tell. Will there be a higher voter turn out ? Well make sure you vote and drag your neighbours along.

Will we end up with another minority? That could happen. My sense is that we will end up with another minority government – who will lead that government and will it have the confidence of the House? Big questions. But hey, we Canadians learned what “prorogation of the House” is all about so we can handle a confidence matter.

We’ve done all right with the last two minority governments. If Harper does not win a majority he’s toast and if Ignatieff does not form at least a minority, he too will be toast. And Layton’s health is such that this is probably his last election. So, we could see all three men off the federal stage 18 months from now. Duceppe? Oh he will still be there – he gets great deals for Quebec.


Return to the Front page

No debating please – we are after all Burlingtonians – but polite questions would be nice.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 12, 2011 – The Burlington Chamber of Commerce wants its members to hear what all four candidates running for the federal seat in the House of Commons and have arranged for an all candidates event on Wednesday April 27th – 7:30 am with a continental breakfast to be followed by a Question and Answer session.

All candidates from the four major parties that have registered to run have confirmed their attendance at the meeting.  The meeting features a moderated question and answer session where attendees can ask questions of each of the candidates. Will the moderator let one candidate ask questions of another candidate – or is that too close to a debate?

Registration opens at 7:30am with a continental breakfast running till 8:00am. And the “games” run from 8:00 to 9:30am.  The meeting is free to Chamber members and costs $10.00 (includes HST) for non-members.  You must sign up in advance.

The event is sponsored by the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

All four candidates are shown below.




Return to the Front page

Much patting on the back as Council approves the operating budget for 2011. We are in a financial holding pattern.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 12, 2011 – It went down pretty quickly. After 18 hours of committee meetings city council passed the operating budget in pretty quick order and after thanking themselves and anyone else they could name it came to a recorded vote with Ward 1 councillor Rick Craven voting against the budget.

Councillors Taylor and Dennison were delighted to vote for a budget that they truly believed in even though both men said they realized it was a “holding budget” in place until the Strategic Plan for the city was determined.

Taylor said this was just the fourth budget he has voted for in the 12 budgets that have come before him.

Blair Lancaster said she wished the strategic Plan had been done first so that the budget could be aligned with the Strategic Plan but she too realized that a budget had to be struck this month.

Paul Sharman who is responsible for the move to come in with a much lower budget than last year said he saw this budget as an opportunity to show voters that we took them seriously when they told us on their doorsteps that the 45 and 5% increases each year of the last term of council was too much.

Sharman said the reserves look good. The debt load is pretty good. He was satisfied and believes that while 1% will be hard to do again – he didn’t think we will see the 4% and 5% numbers for awhile.

Marianne Meed Ward said no one got everything they wanted but everyone got something and described it as a transitional budget with continued fiscal restraint in the years ahead.

Mayor Goldring thanked the Executive Budget Committee meeting for the 90 hours they put in on the budget and then also thanked Councillor Sharman for the work he did in leading the Budget and Community Services Committee saying that your tax meetings were easier than mine” referring to the time when Goldring as a Councillor chaired the committee.

Goldring pointed out that the less than 1%` increase was the lowest in ten years with no substantive changes in the operation of the city. “We bought some time” said the Mayor. And for that he can thank a couple of lucky breaks that resulted in a $9.3 million surplus that Council had to play with.

Goldring did have an easier time than Sharman and also brought in budgets that were in the 4% and 5% range – more than the voters were prepared to swallow in 2011.

Councillor Craven didn’t smile very much during the council meeting as he voted against he budget.

Councillor Craven didn’t smile very much during the council meeting as he voted against he budget.

Odd man out on this budget was Councillor Craven who said he was shocked that staff had delayed hiring people which resulted in the $3 million saved as a result of “gapping”.

“Our job is not to find the lowest possible tax increase but to find the right tax level. “This budget he claimed does not align our resources with our needs and we are millions of dollars short in meeting the expectations of the community.”

Craven has disagreed with his fellow Councillors on a number of points. He thought it “shocking” that the city is going to open a new fire station without all the full time staff needed. Council decided to continue using overtime work to cover the requirement making fire Chief Shayne Mintz’s job that much more difficult.

“At a time when we want better communication with our Citizens” declared Craven “we have reduced the number of City Talk pages we are going to publish. City Talk is a publication that is inserted into a newspaper and posted to the city’s web site. It tells what Council members are doing and updates citizens on want the city is doing in the way of road closures and repairs.

Other than finally paying the Councillors the increase they had deferred for a number of years there were no changes to the operating budget. Mead Ward wanted $25,000 added to the budget for WiFi service at all the city’s facilities. When it became evident that there wasn’t support for the idea Mead Ward withdrew the request.


Return to the Front page

Council members take a pay increase hit – for the third time. A lamb ate their lunch.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 12, 2011 – Joe Lamb didn’t need much time to get to his point. “You’ve all done a great job and the budget you have delivered” he told Council on Monday evening “is a good budget. BUT”, he said, “the two Councillor pay increases that are before you tonight were approved by a vote of 4-3. “I also see” said Lamb “that three of the four votes in favour were cast by rookie Councillors.”

“I am hoping that one of you will find the humility and show the leadership necessary to reverse this decision tonight. It is very difficult to have the troops follow when you are not willing to make the sacrifice yourself”.

And with that, Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward fell on her sword, changed her vote and the recommendation to increase council members pay was defeated.

Lamb however, completely missed the point but did manage to scare the pants off council members who are now in the embarrassing position of making the decision as to what they get paid, in their hands.

Burlington was smart enough a number of years ago to create a Citizens Committee that determined what the pay increases for Council members were to be – but rather than stick to the principal,, which was a good one, they ran for the hills when a single person stood before them and tried to embarrass them.

Joe Lamb uses 25 words to scare the pants off a majority of Council members as they scramble to get away from a Citizen Committee recommendation that sets out what they should be paid.  Not a lot of guts shown at Council on Monday night.

Joe Lamb uses 25 words to scare the pants off a majority of Council members as they scramble to get away from a Citizen Committee recommendation that sets out what they should be paid. Not a lot of guts shown at Council on Monday night.

Lamb who is a council member for Parry Sound where he lives part time now that he is retired, should have known better. Prior to knee capping the Council members Lamb did make a coupe of really good points. He congratulated council and said the budget they brought in for 2011 “looks fantastic and you are all to be congratulated”

“In my opinion your challenge in the next four years will relate to the cost of staffing and the replacing of an aging infrastructure. What is beneath the ground is sadly in need of investment.”

“Employee wages and excellent benefits and an incredible pension plan will continue to weigh heavily on your resources and we need to find innovative ways to address the ever increasing burden associated with this issue.”

After admonishing Council members for accepting a pay increase they had every right to take – they had after all deferred an increase they were entitled to for 2009 and deferred the increase they were entitled to for 2010 – and were now asking for what they had taken a pass on when times were really tough. Council had already done the right thing.

What Joe Lamb now needs to do is agree to sit on a committee that would put in place a procedure for paying our Council members what they deserve so that delegations like the one he made Monday night don’t get repeated..


Return to the Front page

Finally, a permit has been approved and New City Park development can begin – again.

By Staff

Burlington, On – April 11, 2011 – Finally, the City of Burlington received  notice that the development permit conditionally  approved by the Niagara Escarpment Commission for New City Park in July 2010 has been approved by the province. Not everyone is happy with the decision but at least there is a decision and the project can now move forward.

It all started with the Pan Am Games.  Some don’t think we got very much of that pie.

It all started with the Pan Am Games. Some don’t think we got very much of that pie.

New City Park is a development of 165-acre (67-hectare) at the corner of Dundas Street and Kerns Road that began in May 2010. It as to be home of the Burlington part of the PanAm games but got tied up in a couple of bureaucratic knots.  When Burlington’s participation in the PanAm games fell apart

The Niagara Escarpment Commission issued a permit for phase one, on site grading works, in May 2010.  Construction on the play fields stopped in July 2010 when a citizen appeal for the phase two of the construction was filed with the NEC.

On Oct. 5, 2010, a Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office hearing was held to consider the appeal.  The hearing officer’s report and recommendations from that hearing were filed with the Ministry of Natural Resources in December 2010 for the minister’s review. The minister had the task of reviewing the recommendations of the Hearing Officer and making a decision on whether or not the development permit should be approved.

In a decision dated April 7, 2011, Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey directed the NEC to issue a development permit allowing the city’s park development to resume. Preparation to resume construction will begin next week with full construction on site expected to resume in early May .

“When completed, New City Park will be the city’s largest park, offering a stunning view of the Niagara Escarpment and a variety of active and passive recreation options,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “The province’s support of the NEC decision means the city can provide this much-needed park to the people of Burlington while making use of the previously approved stimulus money.”  The location of the park – on the Burlington-Hamilton border will make it more accesible to Hamilton people than those in Burlington

The city bought the lands for New City Park in 2002 in partnership with the Bruce Trail Association. In May 2009, the city applied for funding under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program and was successful in getting $4.6 million in senior government funding for the first phase of the new park. This was matched by $2.3 million in city funding. Under that funding arrangement, work on phases receiving Stimulus Funding must be completed by October 2011. With al that money on the table there is going to be a lot of construction equipment re-shaping empty fields into public parkland.

Development of the park can now begin.  Going to be a bit of a rush to spend the Stimulus money before the bank closes
Development of the park can now begin. Going to be a bit of a rush to spend the Stimulus money before the bank closes

When completed, New City Park will include sports fields, playgrounds, trails, a pond/wetland, a pavilion, open space areas, natural areas and supporting amenities.

“The city has worked closely with the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the province at every stage of this project,” said Allan Magi, Burlington’s executive director of strategic corporate initiatives. “We are excited to resume the construction of this magnificent park which will result in much-needed additional recreation facilities for the citizens of Burlington as well as significant restoration and protection of the sensitive escarpment lands.”

The BIG issue for many is the use of synthetic turf on some of the soccer fields which some do not feel is all the environmentally friendly. The lack of serious public involvement was a concern to Burlington Green as well as Holton who has been very vocal with her views on the use of synthetic turf but her voice seemed to be facing a xxx

On its web site Burlington Green said it understood that “no other park of the 130 protected by the Niagara Escarpment Plan Open Space System (NEPOSS) has synthetic turf.   The park as part of the Niagara Escarpment is UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designated which aims to “maintain, ensure, protect and preserve” the natural environment for future generations.” But that battle seems to have been lost at a time when the Burlington Youth Soccer Club takes the air out of one of its domes to replace the turf on one of its soccer fields. One of the issues about that synthetic turf replacement is what will be done with the synthetic turf that is no longer useful? Peter Summers told a council committee meeting that they are working with the turf manufacturers to determine how best to dispose of the synthetic material. That problem doesn’t yet have a solution that is both clear and satisfactory to everyone.

BurlingtonGreen’s position was that the city should not proceed with any additional artificial turf installations until more comprehensive research is conducted on the environmental, financial and health considerations of this product and that the findings be effectively communicated to the citizens of Burlington. That argument has been lost and Burlington is now going to have a number of park locations with artificial turf and the product may be approved for residential use in the city. Apparently there is just no stopping progress.

For Margaret Lindsay Holton, who has been consistently vocal on he way the park was being developed, the good news last Friday was that Spring has sprung!! For her the rest of the news was about as bad as it could get. “The decision is” an eco-disgrace”, she said. Many felt the argument at the appeal level (this stuff gets very confusing) was over the use of artificial turf but that turned out not to be the case. The issue for the hearing officer was about the proposed size of the parking lots and the size of the as-yet-unseen plan for the stadium. Given his recommendations, the Ministry of Natural Resources has made the decision that the Niagara Escarpment Commission could re-issue the Development Permit, provided certain new ‘conditions’ were met.

Margaret Lindsay Holton says: “the way is seemingly now clear for this noxious product to go in to the park without
a proper Environmental Impact Assessment.

According to Holton three fields of plastic grass are going into New City Park. Mayor Rick Goldring, who once ran as a Green Party candidate, feels that is wonderful and Alan Magi, Acting Executive Director Corporate Strategic Initiatives sees it as magnificent for the city

A tireless advocate for the environment, looses to synthetic turf in New City Park

A tireless advocate for the environment, looses to synthetic turf in New City Park

Holton, a rather forlorn comment says: “by the look of it, the two natural
playing fields that were proposed in future development will not be permitted now because the increased intensity of use afforded by the artificial turf will stress the carrying capacity of the park to the max. Great eh? No REAL grass playing fields at ALL.. All in all, Burlington will be the first park within the vaulted NEPOSS park system of 130 parks supposedly protected by the Greenbelt Act to get plastic grass.”

Holton adds: “But, for now, the MNR ‘decision’ of yesterday is final, as flawed as it now is. PanAm is getting their park to their design, in collusion with Burlington City ‘Corporate Strategic Planners’. The public, citizens of Burlington & local residents, per se, have had little to nothing to do with this final ‘PanAm’ design. And, as such, it is a solid slap in the face to all Burlington taxpayers. It is we who will pay and pay and pay for this PanAm plastic grass in perpetuity, not the local ‘soccer club’ , or the fleeting PanAm org who will decamp after one month of ‘tournament’ play on their fenced-in FIFA-2 certified artificial turf in 2015”

Holton is certainly passionate in her views. Is she right? Too early to tell, but synthetic turf is here.



Return to the Front page

Coming in second isn’t in the play book Brierley reads from. A lot is going to depend on how her leader does on Tuesday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 11, 2011 – She came out of the gate quickly. “My name” she said “is Alyssa Brierley, and I am thrilled to be here today to launch our campaign to win Burlington for the Liberal party on May 2”

Nominated by Paddy Torsney, the last Liberal to hold the federal seat in the House of Commons, Brierley says she was approached by people within the federal Liberal Party to run for the nomination and was then acclaimed when no one else chose to contest the nomination.

Brierley was introduced to the larger Liberal community at a Town Hall meeting in Hamilton and had her picture taken with the man she hopes will help her win the election in Burlington.

Brierley was introduced to the larger Liberal community at a Town Hall meeting in Hamilton and had her picture taken with the man she hopes will help her win the election in Burlington.

Then suddenly, there are those Liberal red lawn sign popping up faster than the Spring flowers. . And the campaign is off to a pretty fast start. So who is this woman and what is she going to do for Burlington? “People look to their elected representatives for inspiration and for solutions to the problems” said Brierley when nominated.

“In short, people look to their elected representatives for hope. I recognized that the political process is the key to change, and that by making smart choices, we could make a difference at home, across the country, and even in faraway places. I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort to the study of political science, economics and law because I wanted to equip myself with the tools to improve the lives of people in my community.

“But look where we are today. Mike Wallace, Stephen Harper and the Conservative government have completely changed the face of federal politics. In a short five years, Mr. Harper has turned federal politics away from a tool for strengthening our country and into a cynical, coldly strategic game. I can’t ever recall a time where the prime minister has so arrogantly manipulated our democratic processes for his own personal gain.”

“We see it time and again in the headlines: Parliament prorogued, important memos surreptitiously altered, Parliament lied to over and over, election laws ignored. The Conservatives have brought to federal politics an unprecedented culture of deceit and corruption. This is the only government in our nation’s history that has ever been found in contempt of Parliament.”

OK – so the lawyer with a PhD is going to run her campaign based on what the Conservatives have done to the country. So far we’ve not heard what she will do for Burlington.

Brierley planting yet another lawn sign.

Brierley planting yet another lawn sign."So who am I?" she asked rhetorically at her nomination. " I am an energetic, young woman with a multitude of experiences who is passionate about making a difference for the people of Burlington and Canada. My roots are in Burlington. It was in Burlington that I developed my passion for public service, and I am deeply indebted to this community for lighting this fire in me. :I have degrees in political science, economics and law. I'm also pursuing a PhD in political science focusing on global politics and international relations."All good stuff – but what will she do for Burlington? We don't know that yet nor do we know how the public will take to her – but there are a lot of those red lawn signs out there."But I'm not just a politico or an academic - I have also developed business insight through my work in both the public and private sectors, and through my work as a lawyer. I've worked in financial services and telecommunications, in corporate and commercial law and in the development of regulatory policy. At the same time I remain true to my commitment to the community through my volunteer work with low income individuals and newcomers to Canada."Campaign office was packed on opening day. Liberals greeting Liberals and getting their marching orders.

Ahh – the stuff of campaign speeches. Rouse the audience, get their blood going – that and a bit of marching music can sometimes win you an election. But it isn’t going to be quite that easy in Burlington this time around. The Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, is still a bit behind in the polls and we won’t have any real sense of who he is until the debate on Tuesday, April 12. If he comes out of that event a winner – then there will be a real race in this city for the seat in the House of Commons.

There will be a number of debates in the city; one being sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce on April 27th.


Return to the Front page

They are getting – silver Porsche car-jacked north of Burlington.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON April 8, 2010 – The driver of a car saw flashing blue lights in his rear view mirror and pulled over at the intersection of Conservation Road and Twiss Road and was approached by a person he believed to be a police officer. Told to get out of the car the driver did so and the person with what was thought to be a police badge jumped into the silver 1999 Porsche 944 CV, black convertible top and drove off.

A person in the car that was thought to be a police car drove off behind the Porsche.

The stolen car was last seen southbound on Twiss Rd, south of Campbellville Road. The suspect vehicle fled the area northbound. The victim was not injured as a result of this incident.

Suspect #1 is described as a male, white, 35 years of age, 6′ 2″ tall, short haircut, a freshly cut chin strap beard and muscular build. He was wearing a long sleeved black shirt, jeans and produced a dull gold badge in a black leather holder hanging from a beaded chain.

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 or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).


Return to the Front page