Halton Board names new school after Citizen of the Year, the late John Boich.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 8, 2011 – It is a lovely school John. Pretty big too and construction is coming along just fine. There will be hundreds of kids flooding through the doors next September. I wonder how many of them will even know who the school was named after?

The late John Boich with a favourite neighbour.

The late John Boich with a favourite neighbour.

But, I know that your spirit will infuse the place and by the time they graduate they will understand what it is to be a citizen and to be engaged. They will have graduated and been “boiched” all at the same time.

It was a struggle though John to get your name on the building – it got a little political at the end (are you surprised at that?) and the decision came about when there was a tie vote at the Board and you name was drawn from a hat. You must have chuckled when you saw that happen Johnny Boy! Priya had organized the whole thing with three delegations on your behalf.

They are going to use all your names and call the school the John William Boich Public School. Arlene (she’s doing OK John) said the “whole ‘family’ was present and thrilled at the outcome. It was a nail-biter considering the politics that surround such an event, but we did it!”

Little did the Halton Board know that they would end up with your name on one of their schools. Makes you want to order another plate of sweet potato fries doesn’t it ?

John William Boich Public School will open in September.

John William Boich Public School will open in September.

Arlene met the new Principal and, according to her, “he seems to be a really good guy —a Serb too, if you can believe it! She knew you’d get a chuckle out of that too.

There was much partying at the Mohan’s afterward. Arlene is so happy — weepy too — because she knew how much you wanted this.

Take care fella.

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Wallace takes to the streets of Burlington – asking to be re-elected the House of Commons – for a third time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 8, 2011 – Burlington MP, Mike Wallace is casually dressed and ready to do his door-to-door thing to get himself re-elected to the House of Commons. It’s an election Wallace didn’t think the country needed but he is cheerfully out there campaigning and always ready to tell you, should you ask, what he has done for Burlington.

Mike Wallace looking over the piles of literature that will get dropped off at every door in the riding.

Mike Wallace looking over the piles of literature that will get dropped off at every door in the riding.

Wallace isn’t the kind of guy who will tell you he hopes some day to become a member of the Cabinet. He’d be quite happy to sit on the Treasury Board but given that he doesn’t expect that to happen soon Mike talks about what he does do well and, in his words, gets things done for Burlington.

“I listen to people” explains Wallace and where I think I can help I build a case and take it to whoever makes the decision. Getting the then Minister of the Environment John Baird to Burlington and out on a boat to tour the Randall Reef area of Hamilton Harbour resulted in a cheque for $30 million to cover part of the cost of covering the contaminated site in Hamilton Harbour where tides and the water flow patterns have dumped years of toxic waste into a portion of the harbour that is now the second worst toxic waste site on the northern side of the Great Lakes. The only place worse is the Sydney, NS tar ponds.

The tar and toxic metals that gathered in Randall’s Reef were the result of run off from Shepherd’s creek in Hamilton and run off from the steel plants. Paying to put a cap over the waste and seal it for centuries is going to involve municipalities, the province, the federal government and the steel companies in Hamilton.

Wallace brings several perspectives to each request that comes across his desk. “Is it something I can actually do something about”, he explains. “Can I add some value to the request” he adds. “Sometimes there is an issue, like agriculture, that I don’t know much about so I direct people with agricultural issues to the appropriate person and will set up an appointment for them and then follow through on that appointment to make sure it takes place.”

Thirdly, the request has to fit within the “party perspective” adds Wallace. So if you want a stack of get out of jail free cards – Mike Wallace is not the man to approach.

Wallace sees his job as “bugging and begging” for funds that pay for projects in the community. “If there is a project that I can believe in and can make a case for it – I will become that projects champion.”

Mike Wallace loves maps that are covered with blue boxes.  He has seen maps that were covered with red boxes.

Mike Wallace loves maps that are covered with blue boxes. He has seen maps that were covered with red boxes.

“We have a bit of a reputation on Parliament Hill” says Wallace. When Bev Oda, a member of the Conservative Cabinet sees us coming she will duck away and say “here come the boys from Burlington” and on that level Wallace is relentless and knows no shame.

Wallace, who seems to enjoy canvassing door to door, says he hasn’t been hit with a purse yet or chased away from the door with a broom either. Could that be because he doesn’t mention the word “prorogation” or try to explain what “contempt of the House means”?

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Big time baseball comes to Burlington. League that develops players for the major leagues setting up in Burlington.


By Staff

The crack of the bat and all eyes follow the ball. Is it a pop fly or a bouncy grounder and did someone just slide into third base?

It is Spring time and that means baseball and for those who love the game – things in Burlington just got better. The Burlington Twins, formerly the Mississauga Twins have made Nelson Park their home turf and will play their first home game on Saturday, May 7th at 2:00 pm

The team schedule for this year is Thursday’s at 7:30 pm and Saturdays at 2:00 PM. Full schedule is available at https://www.mississaugatwins.ca/mt_calendar.shtml

The ball team is part of the Intercounty Baseball League announced today the franchise will move to the City of Burlington and will operate as the Burlington Twins with Nelson Park as their home field for the 2011 season.

Doug Kelcher and Scott Rogers will manage the team as General Manager and Assistant General Manager respectively.

Joining Elliott Kerr as part of the ownership group is local Burlington businessman Scott Robinson, COO of Burlington based Interior Design House, a fixture in the Burlington community for over 20 years and Backspin Marketing Group.

Season tickets for 17 home games will be available for only $75 (that’s just over $4.00 a game – great deal) so make sure you get yours today. Follow the Twins at www.burlingtontwins.com

The IBL was founded in 1919 with just four teams—Galt, Guelph, Stratford and Kitchener—and is the oldest amateur men’s league in Canada. During the early years, the league expanded to include the cities of London, Brantford, Preston and St. Thomas, Ontario. It was previously known as the Intercounty Major Baseball League and the Senior Intercounty Baseball League. The league has been home to a number of aspiring major league players, and the league has continually graduated players into the major league ranks each year. The league includes franchises in Toronto, Brantford, Barrie, London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Ottawa, who joined the league prior to the 2010 season.

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Budget making for Burlington takes longer than baby making. And there isn’t any “oh, how lovely” to a budget

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 5, 2011 – After sitting on a padded bench for three days, two of them back to back, Acting General Manager Finance Joan Ford’s comment that “it is that simple” when explaining how the city puts its budget together doesn’t seem to have the – ‘oh, I get it’ sense to it.

But, if you step back from the long, tiring, sometimes inane, sometimes funny sessions – it is quite simple. At least putting the budget together is simple – passing it and figuring out what goes and what stays – I don’t think even Ms Ford would say – “it’s that simple”.

Basically it works like this. There is a budget cycle, which for Burlington is ten months in duration and staff can look for that to change as they head into the 2012 budget cycle. Council is going to want this process squeezed down to five or six months – and with the same staffing compliment as well.

There was no “acting when Joan Ford took to the budget stage – nothing but consistently good delivery.

There was no “acting when Joan Ford took to the budget stage – nothing but consistently good delivery.

Each department gets its forms on-line and is asked to enter their data and back it goes to the finance office where all the numbers are pulled together. Frequently Ms Ford will ask a department to take another look at a number they’ve submitted and there is discussion around who is more right.

When Finance has all its numbers in, an analysis is done and it gets sent to the members of the Executive Budget Committee, which is the next level up and where the really sharp axes come out. That eight member committee is led by City Manager Roman Martiuk, and consists of the General Managers: Kim Phillips of Budget and Corporate Services and Scott Stewart of Community Services and Joan Ford of Finance. Add to that the Executive Directors: Allan Magi, Steve Zorbas and then stir in the Director of Human Resources Roy Male and a rotating Director, which this year is Clerk Angela Morgan, and you have the team that works with the guidance given it by city council to create a budget that manages the revenue needed to meet the expenses it takes to keep the city running.

Martiuk who chairs the EBC explains that they never vote but “we do work towards consensus and give every member of the team an opportunity to voice their opinions.”

“I seldom make rulings but I have had a situation, not with this city, where I was advised to tell council they were wrong. I ruled that council was never wrong and that ended that discussion”.

Martiuk explained that he discusses matters with council members on an ongoing basis and has all but immediate access to the mayor – both are on the same floor of city hall. Getting a budget position this year was complicated by a number of matters explains Martiuk. First our initial instructions were to come back with a budget that was in the 2.5% to 3.5% range – that was given to us by an out going council. Everyone thought that was a really big step forward at the time – the city had experienced 4% to 5% increases for the previous four years – so 2.5% looked really positive

“We worked up our numbers within those parameters”, explains Martiuk.. “Normally”, he adds, “we go back to council with a draft but that doesn’t happen during an election year “so we were left to work on our own, which we did.”

To add to the complexity was that a number of matters were producing very favourable results for the city over which staff had no control. The gas tax was going to be very good, the income from investments was also very good. Low snow removal costs in 2010 were a big help. “Normally”, said Martiuk, “there is good news and there is bad new but during the last half of 2010 it was basically all good news and we were working within a cost containment model which meant money was coming in a at better clip than usual and we were spending less.”

Martiuk agreed that the 2010 $9.3 million surplus is probably the biggest the city has ever experienced. We are not likely to see that situation again. Each department knows its financial position at the end of each month with an aggregate number available at the end of each quarter.

There was quite a bit of tension between staff and council members as they waded into the development of the budget. Much of that tension was the result of some rather startling comments made by first time council member Paul Sharman who brought a very brusque and direct style to his question of staff. His directness brought out the fiscal concerns that councillors Taylor and Dennison had been harbouring for years. With Sharman leading then there was a new tone to this council. It was sharper, more focused and tougher in its position of city hall staffing and payroll. Have the fattest surplus on record certainly helped but this council seems to have more political sensitivity and it is always aware that it hurts when it gets caught out.

 Once council votes on the budget and formally approves the tax levy for 2011 the EBC will meet to review how budget setting for 2011 went and then report to Council on any changes in the budget making procedure that should be made. Even before those changes get discussed and then put into place Joan Ford will be generating the documents that will report budget numbers for each department and Board every month as she tracks expenditures against revenue and looks for any variances that reveal a problem.

Ms Ford has to deal not only with the city departments but the Boards and Commissions as well. These include the Library Board, which this year had some really serious problems to contend with, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre which is going to draw down close to half a million every year for a number of years and will probably always need a transfusion line stuck into one of their veins.

The Tourism people, the Economic Development Corporation as well as the Burlington Art Centre need and get funds from the city. Some of them also have revenue sources of their own but all are seen as “members of the family” and they need their allowances.

The hospital is going to undergo a very substantial upgrade at some point in the not too distant future. The city is preparing for this by setting aside $1.2 million each year.

Every time you see that $ sign – make the sound – “kaching” – because money is going in or coming out of the budget that keeps the water running and the snow off the sidewalks.  

Ford, a Milton resident, has been with the city for much of her career and is currently the Acting Executive Director, Finance. She manages a team of people who have a really solid grip on what gets spent within every department and can spot changes the moment they appear. The Finance office is the first line of defense when it comes to cost constraint. There isn’t any of that “spend your budget or you lose it” within this finance department. Managers appear to have to justify every nickel with Ms Ford before she takes the numbers to the Executive Budget Committee where she has to defend them.

That’s the spending side of the Budget – there is also the revenue side.

First there are the taxes levied, then there is income from development charges which are shrinking because Burlington is approaching the “built out” stage of its development.

There is the gas tax that puts close to $5 million in the coffers. Then there is investment income – we earned $1.5 million on that last year. And of course that $3 million chunk of change that was the result of the “gapping” with our human resources that produced the much of the surplus that solved a lot of problems. That surplus was a gift to a council in its first year in office – they won’t have anything like that to work with next year.

All the back and forth with the numbers was done under the firm control of Joan Ford and her crew who work out of the Simms building across the street from city hall.

When the council budget committee is in session Ms Ford and a number of her trusty aids are in the chamber with her – each has a thick loose leaf binder and all kinds of briefing documents with them for reference. When a council member has a question one of the assistants or Ms Ford will pop out the answer – and they always have the answer in less than three seconds.

On the final day of budget deliberations at the committee level there is a computer in the chamber hooked up the computer that holds all the numbers – as a decision is made to approve an item it gets keyed in and the operator can tell council where they are in terms of balancing their budget.

The last items is always for an amount that rounds everything off. When that number is entered Ms Ford leans back, flashes a smile that is a large part smug and says – it’s really that simple.

We wish.

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Tax increase of less than 1%, staff levels frozen and pay increases held to about 2.75% Sharman feels he won.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 4, 2011 – Paul Sharman, the guy who fist put the 0% tax increase on the table, says he got what he wanted when the council budget committee settled on a tax increase of less than 1%. “Actually I got more than I wanted” claims Sharman, who then listed the achievements of this council as it crafted its first budget and brought in the lowest tax increase in more than 10 years on the fourth month of their first year in office.

  • We have complement control now said Sharman
  • We have reduced the city hall payroll from the four to five percent increases of the past few years to something in the 2.75% range.
  • We used some of the 2010 surplus to cover the cost of the 2011 contribution to the redevelopment of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. Had we not done that we would have had to make the contribution out of the tax base.
  • A necessary contribution to OMERS, the employee pension plan was made from the surplus.

While these are all great achievements, much of it was possible due to a surplus of $9.3 million from last year which council used to send money to Joseph Brant Hospital and meet the pension fund obligations. Add into that the better than expected return ($1.5 million) on the investment portfolio and this council had a pretty hefty kitty of cash to work with.

Staff salary increase to be about 2.75%

Staff compliment to be frozen at 2011 level.

Part of  2010 surplus used to pay for hospital and staff pension

A large part of that surplus, (more than $3 million) was the result of “gapping”. When a job is created the city budgets for that job for the full 12 months even though the position may not have been filled for that period of time. The “gap” between when the job was open and when it was filled is what they call “gapping’. Neat little financial trick isn’t it? Do you run your household that way?

A council that got re-elected on a 2.5% tax increases delivers a budget with a less than 1% increases.

The less than 1% tax increase is a big step for this council. Ward 3 councillor John Taylor brought up an important point when he spoke of a day when he and Rick Goldring were campaigning on the same street. “I was at the doors talking about a 3.5%`tax increase and Rick was behind me saying the tax increase would likely be 2.5% increase” said Taylor.

Both men had served on the previous council and were working with a number that had been developed by the Cam Jackson council. What neither knew at the time was there was going to be a very significant surplus to work with. Which of course begs the question: Why didn’t council know there was going to be a surplus – surely they can add up numbers.

A step for this council is to implement a process whereby council knows what the city’s position is on a monthly basis. Everyone else works that way. Council had hints that there was going to be a very generous surplus but it took some digging on their part to get the actual number from city staff. It shouldn’t work that way. The seven members of council are the Board of Directors for the city corporation and staff has a responsibility to report to them. This is one you can email your council member on – demand better financial reporting.

This council worked very hard on the budget and in the process got much more control over what happens on the staffing side at city hall.

The staff complement is now frozen at whatever is set out in this new budget. If staff want to create a new position – they have to do so with the money they were given. In the past number of years an average of 18 people were added each year. It was getting out of control and your council wrestled that one down to a freeze on new staff additions.

The discussion on the budget covered three full days. For some reason the bright lights on the management side of the city feel that keeping everyone in the room for a session that runs from 9:30 to 3:30 is good management practice. Things get done partially because people are just work down. Senior staff members come and go during the day but every council member is almost glued to their seat. And then, most of them have constituency matters to deal with at the end of the day. Councillor Taylor wisely asked that next year they work in half day sessions. Wise request John Taylor.

Mayor Goldring prepares to lead the city into the creation of a strategic plan after the budget success.

Mayor Goldring prepares to lead the city into the creation of a strategic plan after the budget success.

With a really solid week of work behind them Sharman is going to do something he has never done before. “I am going dark for a week” he said and added “I am going to Aruba to scuba and will not have a single communications device with me.” We will certainly see a sun tanned Brit returning to Burlington – whether he will be able to function is another matter.

Sharman “goes dark” while in Aruba to scuba.  No contact with anyone but the fishes.

Sharman “goes dark” while in Aruba to scuba. No contact with anyone but the fishes.

For Mayor Rick Goldring this budget was “the most thorough process I have experienced and the longest budget session I have experienced.” Goldring saw it as very demanding but a process that produced the kind of tax increase the taxpayers had demanded. “And”, he added, “there is much more work to do.”

On the toughest day of the budget setting – a session which went from 9 am to 3:30 pm, Goldring then took part in a high school student speech contest. The next morning he did a breakfast with the Burlington Downtown Business Association. He is earning what we pay him – and we don’t pay him enough, not when you measure it against what senior staff are getting.

Once the core budget issues were settled – and those were (1) staffing compliment and just how much the civic bureaucracy was going to be allowed to grow, (2) what the staff salary hike was going to amount to and (3) how the 2010 surplus was going to be handled, council was then able to allocate the funds they had at their disposal. And they did have a lot to play with. More on that in a future story.

It was a good budget session. This council is now working together and doing their job. But there is still not real unanimity at the council table. Ward 1 councilor Rick Craven voted against the budget.

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Waterfront design competition stopped at Council budget committee. Meed Ward fails to deliver, Craven scuttles a good idea.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 4, 2011 – It was an idea that former Toronto Mayor David Crombie (The Tiny Perfect One) put to the Waterfront Advisory Committee. “Hold a design competition for your waterfront and make sure you get at least one oddball on the committee”, advised Crombie

Earlier in his session Crombie told the Advisory committee that Burlington was once a leader in the development of the Lake Ontario waterfront, but had fallen away from its leadership position.

Few smiles and fewer words from Craven at the Waterfront Advisory meeting which didn’t stop him from trying to scuttle the idea at the Budget meeting.

Few smiles and fewer words from Craven at the Waterfront Advisory meeting which didn’t stop him from trying to scuttle the idea at the Budget meeting.

His idea for a design competition gained some traction at the Waterfront Advisory level and Ward 2 council member Marianne Meed Ward took on the task of getting the $45,000. needed to hold the competition. Ward 1 councillor Rick Craven, who sits on the committee, said hardly a word at the Waterfront Committee meeting but had lots to say at the council Budget meeting where he did as much as he could to scuttle the idea.

After more than six months of seminars and briefing sessions the Waterfront Advisory committee finally got down to some real work and then went at that with a vengeance. Gary Scobie was given the task of running the Old Lakeshore Road sub-committee responsible for that little wedge of land that is south of the Old Lakeshore Road, none of which the city owns – except for the road itself which, if intelligently used, could impact all of the development that would take place in that area.

Scobie was the point man for the committee when it appeared before the council budget committee explaining what a design competition was; how good an idea it was and how it would work. Scobie was refreshingly open – not something you see all that often at council. He wanted to “work out of the box” and believed that while the properties in questions are held by 17 different owners the city does have what Crombie taught them was a “bully pit” that could be used to bring developers around to the point where the trade offs could be made.

The road is city property – development is going to have to take this account.  17 property owners will all have to come to the table.

The road is city property – development is going to have to take this account. 17 property owners will all have to come to the table.

With the property in the hands of 17 owners – no one developer is going to able to impose a view or an overall design on what is described as the “eastern gate to the downtown core” unless someone does an awful lot of very expensive property assembly.

The waterfront committee wanted to hold a design competition that would bring some exciting ideas to the surface and let the public have a look at what comes out of the competition. The property owners would be invited to become an integral part of the people meeting with the three design architect’s chosen to take part in the competition.

What Scobie didn’t really succeed in getting across to the council budget committee was that this was an experiment as much as anything, something to kick start some creative thinking about what to do with the waterfront area just east of Pearl Street. Meed Ward coached Scobie through a question and answer between the two of them designed to elicit the view point the Waterfront people wanted to get across – it didn’t quite work.

Waterfront walkway stops at this point – but could continue along the Old Lakeshore Road that city owns.  Design competition would bring out some ideas for the public to consider.

Waterfront walkway stops at this point – but could continue along the Old Lakeshore Road that city owns. Design competition would bring out some ideas for the public to consider.

That doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t a good one. This council just wasn’t prepared to give the Waterfront people $45,000. to go off and hold a design competition without a lot more information and a chance to buy into the idea.

When it looked as if the design completion has a ghost of a chance, Councillor Craven petulantly said that if the Waterfront got money for a design competition he wanted funds for a design competition for Plains Road in Aldershot. One would have thought Craven could have/should have made his views known at the Waterfront Committee level rather than sand bag his colleagues at the Budget level.

At the Waterfront Committee level it was clear that they were not fully aware of what they were going to run into at Council. The group didn’t take any of their thoughts to the city planner – who, they should have known, has to be a significant part of what they were setting out to do.

Nevertheless they soldiered forward and while the case they made wasn’t as detailed as it had to be they weren’t turned down flat. There is room for them to come back with a much more detailed and thoroughly researched proposal. They do have some friends on council.

Meed Ward had to eventually withdraw the request for funds – it wasn’t because the rest of council was against the idea – they just didn’t know enough to be able to support the request. Ward 3 councillor Taylor and Dennison of Ward 4 were very much onside – but they wanted more information. They weren’t about to put $45,000. into the hands of a committee without having a pretty clear idea as to what was going to happen with it.

Design competitions are used to bring new ideas to a city. The close to iconic Toronto city hall was the result of an international design competition and while Crombie will tell you it isn’t all that efficient a building it certainly changed the way the world saw Toronto.

Banks did some of the research on the cost of a Design Competition – it wasn’t all that deep.

Banks did some of the research on the cost of a Design Competition – it wasn’t all that deep.

A design competition seemed like a really good idea but the Waterfront committee didn’t take advantage of support available for them within city hall. The research on design competitions amounted to a couple of phone calls made by Sarah Banks. A contact within city hall explained that a competition with a $15,000. fee attached to it would get a firm who assigned a couple of architectural students to the project and maybe some drawings and that w

While Burlington has a good profile and our western waterfront is in desperate need of a major makeover the downtown core east of John Street presents a very significant opportunity and a major planning challenge. The Waterfront Advisory people deserve credit for getting an idea out of the committee level and before a council committee.

The architectural firms that take part in design competitions don’t make any money on these things, they tend to lose money, but the publicity and the potential for some work is usually worth the effort. If their design wins and it is picked up by the trade press they expand their profile – and that is what brings clients to their doors.

The Waterfront committee didn’t appear to be in touch with any of the several architectural magazines in Canada to get some background and create the opportunity for a story about their plans within the design community. An opportunity to showcase the city was lost by a committee that chose to work by itself and not do it right the first time.

Fortunately they have a chance to further develop their idea and bring it back to council. They need to work on their story and get one of the two city council representatives onside – or do what they can to get rid of him.

Scobie’s performance as a delegation to the Budget Committee earned him the chairmanship of the Waterfront Advisory when that job opens up.

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Secret slush fund used by all council members; un-audited and controlled by senior, senior staff member.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 1, 2011 – The investigative reporting team at Our Burlington has uncovered a slush fund at city hall that appears to be under control of a very senior staff member with what is believed to be collusion by all city council staff.

Meaning behind the code name of the secret slush fund is not yet clear.

Meaning behind the code name of the secret slush fund is not yet clear.

The code name given to this investigation – loaves and fishes, was the result of a tip from a very high source on the 8th floor of city hall.

Loaves and fishes is a fund used to pay for perks to council members and are doled out by the senior staff member, These funds are doled out on a regularly. Control of the account rests in the hands of a very senior city hall staff member. The account is not audited, in fact the auditor is probably not even aware of this secret account that appears no where in any of the city’s financial statement and cannot be found on the city web site.

The understanding is that the “ins and outs” on this account are kept in a locked desk drawer. There appears to be some correlation between this account and the council member payroll accounts. Details on the relationship between the loaves and fishes account and the payroll accounts is sketchy because there don’t appear to be any audited records on the loaves and fishes side.

The tip to our investigative team was given to us on Friday, April 1, 2011

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Artists going to have to get very creative to make $12,000 cover $65,000 in expenses.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 4, 2011 – They came in looking for $65,000. to stay alive, said they could settle for $40,000.and got $12,000.which isn’t going to take them very far. The request to have this pittance given to the organization was put forward by Ward 1 councillor Rick Craven, who represents the city on the Creative Burlington Board He also sits on the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Board. BPAC got their budget approved plus an additional one time grant for more than $250,000 to cover the cost of a web site, uniforms for ushers and a number of other items.

Creative Burlington started serving the community as Burlington Performing Arts but had to vacate that name when the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC) became real and so Executive Director Deb Tymstra renamed and re-branded the organization into Creative Burlington when she failed to land the job as Executive Director of the new arts organization.

The original Burlington Performance groups raised in excess of $60,000. for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and may have made the very fist donation to that organization. But BPAC was able to create a much more powerful Board and went on to raise millions within the community.

Tymstra and her Board had to find another way to cover the costs of the three person staff and have funds to develop programs within the community. Become an Arts Council, get the city to fund us and be in a position to dole out grants from a fund given to them by the city and take out any bias or favouritism in grant giving that might result if politicians were to be deciding on grants amounts.

Tymstra has been a tireless supporter of the arts community. She did much of the trench digging work needed to give what is now the Burlington Performing Arts Centre the footing it needed to get started. It is fair to say that if the work Tymstra did had not been done – there would not be a BPAC today. Not that she’s getting much in the way of thanks for her hard work early in this century.

Today, her Creative Burlington is in tough, tough financial shape. Their Trillium Funding runs out in October and they are not able to go back to that well for additional funding so they had to come up with a new role for themselves

And that they did – but Council wasn’t buying what they were offering, even though the group had the support of former Mayor Walter Mulkewich, who not only wrote Council but stood before the committee.

Paul Mitchell, president of Creative Burlington explained they are “an arts services organization dedicated to celebrating, cultivating and supporting arts and culture in the city through initiatives, collaborations and partnerships. In short, we are Burlington’s arts council.”

And that was a bit of a stretch for the city’s Budget committee. Shaping Burlington, of which Mitchell is also a member, takes the same self appointed position, but that view wasn’t taken up by Council nor did it appear that staff were buying into it. The Executive Budget Committee turned down the request at their level because they felt the city did not have a policy about grants to community groups and without a policy council was just opening the floodgates and, as city manager Roman Martiuk put it, they will come flooding through.”

Mitchell wanted the Budget committee to reconsider the recommendation of the Executive Budget Committee which he said would “enable Creative Burlington to continue serving the community and to meet the needs identified in the City of Burlington’s 2006 Cultural Strategy and the 2008 Economic Impact Study of Culture in Burlington.”

Creative Burlington was after more than just the money needed to get through the next year. As Mitchell put it: “To be clear, this is not a one-time request but a first step in ensuring long-term investment in Burlington’s arts and culture community.” He was delegating to have Creative Burlington morph into the city’s Arts Council and be the arms length organization that would dispense grant money for the arts this group expected the city to dome up with. Mitchell wanted to take the whole problem off council’s hands and have Creative Burlington become the group that doled out the dollars.

“In our business plan”, explained Mitchell, “we outlined the services that arts councils provide. Briefly, they support the use of art to create welcoming, inviting, engaged communities. They support employment in the arts. They are a resource for the arts. They provide professional development for artists, networking, promotion of the arts, and cultural activities. They advocate for the arts community and they work with government to provide advice and create cultural policies.”

Recently installed as President, Mitchell brings years of experience as a newspaper executive and writer to the organization.

Recently installed as President, Mitchell brings years of experience as a newspaper executive and writer to the organization.

Mitchell put an Arts Council for Burlington in the context he needed to make his point.

“Some arts councils administer grants on behalf of their municipality. This arm’s length relationship between the City and the applicant provides non-partisan, fair and equitable funding for arts and culture requests. We hope that, one day, the City of Burlington will see the value in creating such an arrangement.”

Mitchell pointed out that there are 300 Arts Council in Canada and 30 in Ontario – and Creative Burlington wants to make that 31 by putting Burlington on the “have” list. He added that the Oakville Arts Council gets $77,500. from their council – and they are just a Town.

Now that the Budget committee knows what Creative Burlington wants Mitchell goes on to explain why the city should fund Creative Burlington? “Because the City of Burlington has very few internal resources to support arts and culture, beyond its physical facilities. Nor does it have the resources to implement its Cultural Strategy on its own.

“We are that resource. We are your arms-length organization that communicates with, cultivates, celebrates and supports arts and culture here. We are the means to cost effectively implement your Cultural Strategy.”

As pitches for funding go – this is about as bold as you can get. Mitchell went on: ” We have a plan, backed by 10 years experience as an organization. A business plan with objectives, actions and measurable outcomes. It is a plan for Burlington, and your investment will ensure that we will carry out that plan.

One Council member wondered aloud why Creative Burlington, the recipient of two Trillium Grants, had not been able to develop to the point where they were self sustaining with a range of programs in place.

Mitchell explained that Creative Burlington has a “full action plan. In it there are 17 actions and 51 secondary actions or activities to meet our strategic objectives. The Creative Burlington Board consists of: Paul Mitchell, Gord Langford, Michael Spinelli, Barbara Ramsay Orr, Fred Sweeney, Chris Paterson, Serena Lee, Harry Gelderman, Brad Hails, Rick Craven and Rainer Noack

“Our Executive Director recently met with school principals, Councillor Sharman and the Ward 5 trustees for the Boards of Education to discuss such an outreach program.”

“We are surveying our members to explore specific topics they require to further their arts businesses and the styles of networking that would appeal to them. We will seek partnerships with other arts organizations and the private sector to deliver these services. We will initiate networking opportunities and offer two to three workshops before next February, making sure we do not duplicate services or compete with other organizations.”

“All the items in our business plan” advised Mitchell, “have tangible measures for success. We are serious about the business we are in. We intend to meet the needs of this community and the people we serve. We are confident that we have the plan to do it.”

The problem is that to date Creative Burlington hasn’t “done it”. They exist in premises that are basically rent free. Membership is low, community involvement is light and community communications is hit and miss.

“Your investment”, explained Mitchell, “will send a message to the arts community. It will demonstrate that you are committed to supporting not only the facilities, but the people who make up and enjoy our arts community.”

The Creative Burlington community was a strong, perhaps the strongest, supporter in the early days of the struggle for a performing arts centre in Burlington and they would now like to see funds put into the people who are the bedrock of arts in a community.

“Your investment”, added Mitchell, “will show our corporate partners that you believe in the work we do and you join them in supporting us. It will demonstrate that you believe that arts and culture is an investment, not a luxury. It adds value to the community.”

Executive Director Tymstra has led the organization through a lot of  turmoil – now she fights for its survival.

Executive Director Tymstra has led the organization through a lot of turmoil – now she fights for its survival.

Few on council disagreed with the view that art was a part of the local economy and what make the city a place to want to live in. What they didn’t go along with was watching Creative Burlington decide that they should be the Arts Council this city needs.

As creativity goes – it was a fine piece of work. The stick handling was superb but the shot on goal was deflected.

“Without your support,” said Mitchell, “our Board of Directors will have to consider the value of our commitment and the future of the organization.”

Was the $12,000. they were offered an insult or a plea to hang in for the year while the city develops an arts funding policy and decides if it wants an Arts Council, and if it does, should Creative Burlington morph into such a Council. Or was it a hint that the nepotism with the organization has to be resolved. If Creative Burlington is to morph into an Arts Council it has to show that it can be scrupulously fair and never play favourites – something it isn’t doing with its staffing complement today.

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Sunshine and lollipops and throw in some roses. The cost of running the city.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 1, 2011 – The province of Ontario requires all publicly funded organizations to reveal the names of all those who are paid more than $100,000. a year.

The list was revealed the same day Council met with city staff in closed session to go over the payroll for the 2011 budget. The names of what are referred to as “the sunshine people” in Burlington are set out below.

There are a few names on the list that surprised me and a couple that aren’t on the list that I felt should have been on the list. The fire fighters have what appears to be a large number of “sunshine people.”

These numbers are for the 2010 – there will be increases in 2011.

he city says it has about 1000 FTE equivalents, which means full time equivalents. That would have close to 10% of the staff earning more than $100,000.

Council budget meetings are taking place to freeze that staff compliment at whatever they decide the 2011 number is going to be. There are reported to be a number of senior level retirements in this term. Based on the names below – I don’t see that many retirements.

 

 
Name Position Salary Taxable Benefit
ALLDRIDGE BRIAN  Platoon Chief       $115,960.19 $644.11
ANSELL DANIEL T. R.  Captain  $110,173.32 $595.64
ARMSTRONG PETER  Manager of Field Services  $144,577.00 $4,779.34
BAKOS MICHAEL  Captain  $108,014.30 $569.59
BARRY PHILIP  Captain  $105,990.53 $569.13
BAVOTA ANTHONY  Deputy Fire Chief  $123,536.06 $2,124.94
BAYLOR MARK  Captain  $109,594.49 $583.54
BAYNTON STEVE T.  Captain  $108,373.30 $585.73
BEATTY DAVID N.  Deputy Fire Chief  $128,411.27 $1,438.60
BENNETT RANDY  Manager of Info/Technology   $110,690.75 $637.89
BIELSKI BIANCA  Manager Develop/Planning  $129,068.29 $767.34
BIRCH CHARLES T.  Captain  $112,648.29 $585.73
CAUGHLIN DEBORAH  Man. Council Services  $100,296.04 $569.83
CIORUCH DAVID K.  Chief Fire Prevention Officer  $114,188.45 $662.98
COULSON ANN MARIE  :Manager Budgets  Policies  $121,251.84 $660.22
COVERT MARK  Manager Field Services  $110,390.29 $650.55
CRASS JOHN  Manager Traffic Services  $105,806.46 $614.07
DALGARNO DOUGLAS R.  Manager Design/Construct  $134,991.19 $5,114.98
DELOYDE LEO  General Man Develop/Infr $150,302.76 $5,997.45
DI PIETRO ITALO  Manager Infrastr/Data Man. $117,820.67 $678.84
DOWD TIMOTHY  Captain  $108,662.76 $582.01
EICHENBAUM TOOMAS  Dir Engineering  $161,058.76 $925.53
EVANS FRANCES  Manager Halton Court Serv. $103,193.20 $600.12
FORD JOAN  Deputy Treasurer  $145,139.84 $804.06
GLENN CHRISTOPHER  Man.Business Services  $119,231.57 $659.97
GLOBE DARREN  Captain  $105,259.54 $567.08
GOTTSCHLING FRED  Coordinator Site Engineering  $102,471.99 $599.16
GRISON GREGORY J.  Captain  $108,373.33 $585.73
HAYES DENNIS M.  Captain  $108,662.27 $582.01
HEBNER PETER B.  Captain  $112,609.83 $595.64
HURLEY BLAKE  Assistant City Solicitor  $124,702.03 $640.83
JACKSON CAM  Mayor/ Regional Councillor  $145,451.15 $1,421.89
JAMES MICHAEL  Training Officer – Fire  $100,223.77 $588.55
JONES SHEILA  City Auditor  $109,257.39 $644.35
JURK ROBERT  Senior Project Leader  $104,359.40 $600.64
KELL DONNA  Manager of Public Affairs  $106,024.52 $622.95
KELLY JOHN  Captain  $107,875.07 $586.08
KELLY PHILIP  Man Develop/Env and Trans  $111,861.38 $660.96
KOEVOETS MATT  District Supervisor  $100,668.92 $1,450.33
KRUSHELNICKI BRUCE  Director of Planning/ Building $157,104.07 $916.62
KUBOTA ERIKA  Assistant City Solicitor  $130,666.54 $662.46
LAING BRUCE K.  Captain  $108,373.33 $585.73
LASELVA JOHN  Sup Building Permits  $101,182.40 $585.72
LONG MARK  Captain  $107,544.32 $586.89
MACDONALD GARY F.  Captain  $110,173.33 $595.64
MACDOUELL ROBIN A.  Deputy Fire Chief  $155,645.20 $6,398.13
MACKAY MICHAEL J.  Captain  $110,173.34 $595.64
MAGI ALLAN  Ex Dir Corporate Strategic  $160,528.99 $943.41
MALE ROY E. Executive  Director Human Resources  $185,663.87 $1,008.01
MARTIUK ROMAN  City Manager  $214,859.60 $3,423.97
MCNAMARA MICHAEL J.  Captain  $113,731.46 $602.19
MINTZ SHAYNE  Fire Chief  $148,271.95 $6,507.63
MONTEITH ROSS A.  Platoon Chief  $112,644.06 $606.45
MORGAN ANGELA  City Clerk  $116,928.62 $683.84
MYERS PETER R.  Captain  $108,373.33 $587.65
NICHOLSON J. ALAN  Captain  $111,577.48 $591.68
O’REILLY SANDRA  Coordinator of Accounting  $101,498.92 $590.19
PEACHEY ROBERT  Man Parks Open Spaces  $109,885.51 $615.54
PHILLIPS KIMBERLEY  Gen Manager of Corp Serv $170,484.37 $1,005.30
REILLY PETER  Captain  $107,564.16 $582.01
ROBERTSON CATHARINE  Dir Roads-Parks Main  $132,664.11 $1,458.54
ROCK JEFFREY M.  Captain  $104,734.96 $582.01
ROTSMA BERNHARD  Fire Prevention Officer  $105,142.98 $595.64
SCHMIDT-SHOUKRI JASON Manager of Permit Services $126,377.36 $728.03
SHEA NICOL NANCY City  Solicitor  $161,275.08 $780.97
SHEPHERD DONNA Director of Transit  $173,820.54 $922.53
SHIELDS LISA Assistant  City Solicitor  $126,761.73 $647.08
SLACK CRAIG D.  Platoon Chief  $123,295.17 $662.98
SMITH CLINT  Platoon Chief  $124,386.06 $668.63
SMITHSON PAUL Manager of Planning/Policy  $114,700.81 $4,852.49
SPICER MIKE  Transit Manager  $116,629.98 $651.84
STEIGINGA RON  Manager of Realty Services  $115,664.71 $643.83
STEWART SCOTT  Gen ManCommunity Service  $191,150.30 $3,692.16
SWANCE JEFFREY W.  Captain  $110,226.64 $595.64
SWENOR CHRISTINE  Dir of Info Technology Serv  $150,309.38 $868.89
TWISS GREG  Firefighter  $100,822.06 $521.86
WEBER JEFF  Deputy Fire Chief $124,327.62 $8,174.62
WEIR KENNETH  Field Services Supervisor  $111,535.32 $541.50
WONG BETTY  Controller/Manager Fin Serv  $125,685.95 $729.58
WOODS DOUGLAS S.  Captain  $110,173.34 $595.64
YOUKHANA DAVID  Quality Control Coordinator  $103,404.24 $0.00
ZORBAS STEVE  Ex Director Finance  $180,772.72 $3,300.12
 

 

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It looks as if it’s on – but with these guys – you’re never sure.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 31, 2011 – Nobody particularly likes the guy, few trust him but he’s the front man for Mid Week Cycling Club and they are the sponsors chosen by the Canadian Cycling Association to hold a multi-day event in the Burlington community around Canada Day.

The planned elite cycling event planned for late June and Canada Day could still come crashing down – but there is now a contract in place.

The planned elite cycling event planned for late June and Canada Day could still come crashing down – but there is now a contract in place.

So, a council committee held their noses tightly and passed a Direction enabling Community Services Manager Scott Stewart to sign the agreement with Craig Fagan and the Mid Week Cycling Club to hold the six scheduled cycling races in Burlington.

Once again, Halton Regional Police Deputy Chief Bob Percy was on hand to get their concerns on the table and then tightened up the financial requirements considerably. The $115,000 it is going to cost to cover policing has to be in the hands of the police by noon of May 16, 2011 or the Halton Regional Policed Service will withdraw their support. That puts a squeeze on the Mid week people but bouncing a cheque made payable to the policed doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

This event has been a problem that created its own problems and Scott Stewart General Manager Community Services, has been stretched to the limit to make this happen. “This is how it goes and it shouldn’t go like this” was the way he summed up the working relationship with Mid Week. Ward 6 councillor Blair Lancaster didn’t have much faith in the financial capacity of the Mid Week people when they were before council last and she had even less this time. However, Ward 4 councillor Jack Dennison thought he had a better feel for the way athletes register for events. “The time frames are tight” he agreed, but “there is a pent up demand for this event – there are people waiting with baited breath to register but they can’t do so because Mid Week doesn’t have a contract with us.”

The cyclists, who move at up to 75 km an hour, are going to have to compete with people who want to pick strawberry’s on June 23 – should be fun.

The cyclists, who move at up to 75 km an hour, are going to have to compete with people who want to pick strawberry’s on June 23 – should be fun.

This key issue this time was the closure of Bell’s Line for the Time trials and the operation of the strawberry fields at Spring Ridge Farm on June 23rd, a prime strawberry picking day. They have an event that is expected to draw 1,800 cars that day – and police aren’t entirely sure how they are going to manage all that traffic.

Ward 1 councillor Marianne Meed Ward wanted to know why this concern had not been ironed out months ago. Ward told the meeting that “if this issue were being voted on tonight, I would not support it” – and she didn’t but enough council members did and the city is going to sign the agreement that appears to have more than enough clauses for the city to get out of the deal if they are not happy.

For Mid Week, the promoters, the signed contract is something they have been working towards for more than two years. With the contract signed, explained Craig Fagan, head of Mid Week, we can open up registration and registration fees will begin rolling in and Mid Week will have the funds in hand to give the Halton Regional Police a cheque for $115,000. by the middle of May – they hope

This seems to have been one of those chicken and egg situations. With a contract we can begin bringing in some revenue” explained Fagan while Ward 6 councillor Blair Lancaster said several times that she just didn’t believe Fagan’s organization had the financial capacity to make this happen.

Councillor Taylor took a more sanguine approach. “We have this unique topology” and this event is going to happen. “If it’s a bad experience we won’t do it again.”

Mid Week has their contract, registrations can begin, cash will flow – but the fear is that there will be yet another problem that should have been foreseen. Scott Stewart says we are covered legally and we won’t lose a dime.

Mid Week could look for a better front man for their organization.

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What’s next for us? A Walk of Fame perhaps? – I think we’d settle for a Pier.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 30, 2011 – This is really hard to believe but maybe they didn’t know about the “mistake on the Lake”. Whatever, Burlington is still seen as the third best place to live in Canada by MoneySense. This is the second time we have been given this award.

In a city press release we are told that “The City of Burlington is fortunate to have the Niagara Escarpment, a world-recognized natural feature, as well as Lake Ontario in our backyard,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “We are a city with low crime, and high community engagement. Our citizens get involved and help make Burlington the beautiful city it is, and a great place to live, work and play.”

Could this be the third best place to live in Canada?

Could this be the third best place to live in Canada?

Burlington came in Ottawa-Gatineau and Victoria, BC and is the only GTA city to appear in the top 10. In 2010, Money Sense also named Burlington the third best city in Canada, up from fourth in 2009 and eighth in 2008.

“We keep getting better,” said Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. “Economies succeed based on the availability of a talented workforce. When you are one of the best places to live, it helps to attract and retain the work force needed for today and into the future.”

Money Sense measured 180 cities, up from 179 last year. To come up with the ranking, Money Sense gathered information on Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) and Census Agglomeration areas that had a population of 10,000 or greater (and for which the required data was available). They then broke up the CMAs of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City, Hamilton, St. Catharine’s-Niagara, Oshawa, Edmonton and Kitchener into their component cities of 50,000 or more in population.

Money Sense grades cities in categories that include:

  • Walk/Bike to Work: This represents the percentage of people who walked or took their bike to work.
  • Weather: Ideal volume of precipitation is considered to be 700 ml per year. Source: Environment Canada.
  • Air quality:  Data was from monitoring stations in or nearest to each city as reported by the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network.
  • Population growth: Higher creates problems, lower means less opportunities. Cities with negative growth received 0 points. 2006 figures from Statistics Canada.
  • Unemployment: 2010 data from Statistics Canada when provided and 2011 estimates derived from Canadian Demographics.
  • Housing: Average house average prices from reports and listings by MLS, Canadian Real Estate Association, and the Real Estate Boards of Toronto, Fraser Valley, Vancouver and Quebec. Time to buy was derived from average price divided by average 2011 estimated household income sourced from Canadian Demographics.
  • Household income: 2011 estimates as per Canadian Demographics.
  • Discretionary income: Discretionary household income as a percentage of total household income derived from 2011 estimates as per Canadian Demographics.
  • New cars: 2008-2010 model year vehicles as a percent of total vehicles as per Canadian Demographics.
  • Income taxes: Cities ranked (lower is better) according to the rate of combined federal and provincial (or territorial) income tax paid on a single person income of $50,000 as per www.taxtips.ca.
  • Sales taxes: Cities ranked (lower is better) according to the rate of provincial or territorial sales tax.
  • Crime: Violent crime rates, total crime rates per 100,000 people and crime severity rates for 2009 from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Lower is better in all three cases.)
  • Doctors: Number of general practice and specialist physicians per community provided by the Canadian Medical Association and converted to doctors per 1,000 people.
  • Health professionals: Percentage of people in each city who are employed in health occupations according to the 2006 census.
  • Transit: Based on the percentage of the workforce utilizing public transit according to the 2006 census.
  • Amenities: One point each for a hospital, university and college.
  • Culture: Based on the percentage of people employed in arts, culture, recreation and sports.

Not quite sure how many points we got for people taking transit to work – that doesn’t seem to fit with the conversations around transit at council committee meetings.

Now, if that Pier were built can you just imagine – we could have been THE best place to live in Canada – and what if the Ti-Cats had decided to call Aldershot home? We would have become just impossible to live with.

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On a very bright sunny day, in June of 2013, the parade will lead us all out onto the Pier. It’s going to happen.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 31, 2011 – They are about to book the Burlington Teen Tour Band for sometime in June of 2013 to march down Brant Street and out onto the Pier to mark the official opening.

Words like “celebration” and Grand Opening” were floating around the Council Chamber Wednesday evening as Council got an update on just where things are with the Pier – and it would seem that things are pretty darn good.

Scott Stewart has stick handled the Pier project through some tough phases.  He knows now that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Scott Stewart has stick handled the Pier project through some tough phases. He knows now that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

There is clearly a new, much more professional level of file administration behind this one. You will be pleased to know that 17 contractors picked up a copy of the RFP. Those interested have to get their numbers in by April 7th which will be followed by a “short list” meeting on April 11th and meetings with those who make the short list on the 13th of April. Things are moving right along.

One council member said to me recently that his concern was that no one would choose to bid on the project. The city however isn’t sitting still waiting for someone to decide they want to complete the building of the Pier. The city has hired a “procurement specialist” who is overseeing every step. The site has been inspected by civil, structural and electrical inspection engineers to ensure that no damage has been done. A “condition” survey will get done by the middle of April and then an underwater inspection to make sure that the pier foundations are solid.

While the city is in the business of issuing building permits to others they have to comply with a tight set of rules for their own projects and all the work done has to be surveyed to ensure that it is up to all the codes. The city is going to make sure that there isn’t another construction “accident”.

Expect to see work crews out there any time soon.  Be in town for the Opening June of 2013

Expect to see work crews out there any time soon. Be in town for the Opening June of 2013

The words “design phase” gets used but the Pier isn’t going to be re-designed. Engineers have advised the city that the Pier can be built using the original design but that some steel beams have to be removed. Lots of paper work to get done but in the fall of this year the site will be prepared for removal of the steel that was found to be sub-standard. While the old steel is being removed the new steel will be fabricated and prepared for deck and beam construction the Spring of next year.

It does seem like long time but ensuring that what is in place is sound and then getting all the drawings that will be needed drawn and available to the different trades who will be doing the job does take time and all kinds of permits and inspections have to be done.

The site will have to shut down in December of 2012 for the winter but the plans call for an opening in June of 2013.

The city’s public affairs staff have already started planning for the probably week long celebration that will see the Pier open to the public. The city intends to “inform and consult” the public throughout the months that construction is to take place. They will be creating an “Ask the Engineer” section on their web site that will have Tom Eichenbaum, Director of engineering, answer questions about what is being done through the various stages of development. The mood around the Pier is upbeat and positive.

All the pessimism and doubt that has plagued the city and this council began to fade away a bit Wednesday evening. Things were happening, a contractor will be in place very soon and it wouldn’t be long before we hear the sound of construction crews hammering away.

Those who wanted the thing to be town down failed to understand the grit and determination this council brought to finishing the Pier. It is actually going to happen.

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It is the stealthy that stay the course. And politics is a stealth game.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 30, 2011 – For those who are new to the business of running for elected office an election campaign can be quite overwhelming and it takes a bit for even the most experienced to get up to speed.

For those running as candidates for the provincial seat in the October election the challenge is greater than normal. They have to find a place to be seen and heard when there is a federal election going on and at a time when Burlington is in the process of figuring out its budget.

Earlier this week the provincial government delivered its budget, the last one before the October election. We felt it good news policy to ask each candidate for a short comment on the budget. We did not seek a comment from the sitting member, Joyce Savoline, because a) she doesn’t communicate with us and b) she is not running in the fall election. So we went our request for comment to each of the known candidates: Brian Heagle and Brad Reaume for the Progressive Conservatives, Karmel Sakran for the Liberals and Peggy Russell for the New Democrats. The response was disappointing.

Getting the hang of provincial politics.  Treated the budget as a political document.

Getting the hang of provincial politics. Treated the budget as a political document.

Russell came back with: Not available this evening…I was tied up all day with my 3 grandchildren and will need to do some research tomorrow to get caught up. The chances of Burlington electing a New Democrat to the Legislature are thin, extremely thin – but Bob Rae did form a government in 1990 – so you never know.

Brian Heagle got back to us with: The Provincial Liberals tabled a budget which tells us much about their style of leadership. In particular, the McGuinty budget increases spending, adds debt and delays the hard decisions – yet calls that being fiscally responsible. It also sets the stage for even more tax hikes. Ontario deserves better.

The budget reflects why we need a change in leadership to Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party.

Sakran needed time to prepare a comment on the provincial budget – lawyer needs to catch up with his reading.

Sakran needed time to prepare a comment on the provincial budget – lawyer needs to catch up with his reading.

Heagle is learning to play the game. He was once a serious Liberal being groomed as the Liberal candidate but underwent a ‘conversion’ and is now a blue, blue, blue Tory.

Karmel Sakran said he needed a few days respond.

The Liberals felt that with the incumbent, Joyce Savoline, deciding not to run again and The PC’s not having a clear heir apparent – that maybe the Liberals had a shot at winning the seat.

Well, needing a couple of days to figure out a response to a provincial budget that was clearly a political document as much as it was a budget won’t cut it for any of the candidates.

Stay tuned.

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The wind in city staff sails may have shifted. And the hand on the tiller may not be as firm as we thought it was.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 29, 2011 – It was a long, long, long day but your city council managed to approve its Capital Spending budget – and we will have detailed numbers on that for you later in the week.

There were then nine delegations looking for money – ranging from an ask for free use of a room for the Civic Rose people, to a bit of a break for the synchronized swimming people, The Age Friendly Burlington people wanted $30,000 which they said would be matched by the United Way. It wasn’t clear to several council members just what the Age Friendly people were going to do with their money.

Creative Burlington needs $65,000. to stay alive. Ward 1councillor Meed Ward asked what that could be ground down to and was told $40,000. would help. More later in the week on how Creative Burlington wants to morph itself from a support group for artists to an Arts Council which would be in the grant dispensing business.

The city does not currently have a grants policy and city Manager Roman Martiuk advised council not to dispense any money until there was a policy in place. “Without a policy” he advised “all you do when you give out any money, is encourage others to ask for funding.” Council felt it had to at least listen to the delegations.

Council felt they were no longer in the grant game but former Mayor Walter Mulkewich informed them that they were in that game and gave them a nice, concise backgrounder on why they had to be in the grant game.

All the requests were noted and at some point, in the line by line look at the budget. My guess is that some of the groups will get some money and then there will be a direction to staff to come back with a policy so that council doesn’t get caught up in a situation like this again.

The council meeting, which went from 9 am to 3:30 pm – did get a little testy as the day wore on. Chaired by Ward 4 councillor Paul Sharman, his gavel got passed over to the vice chair a couple of times when Sharman, who can be very direct – one might say blunt – at times, was determined to get his two cents worth in.

Spoke to his council and explained that no one is going to get everything they want but that everyone should get some of what they want.

Spoke to his council and explained that no one is going to get everything they want but that everyone should get some of what they want.

The meeting started with Mayor Rick Goldring explaining that he realized there was not complete agreement on what the tax increase should be but after speaking to each council member he felt it was possible, if there was some give and take all around the council table, that they could arrive at an increase that would keep everyone happy.

Earlier in the year Sharman made it quite clear he wanted a 0% tax increase in year 1 while the Mayor was on record as seeing a 2.5 increase as what would be needed. There appeared to be enough votes for Sharman to have his way – but that appearance is a little like ships sailing in a fog. They appear to be there – but then suddenly they aren’t there.

This council has a little caucus of three – Sharman, Taylor of Ward 3 and Dennison of Ward 4 that are strong fiscal conservatives and they can usually bring Lancaster of Ward 6 along with them – which is enough votes to carry an item.

But we are now getting into the nitty gritty and council is learning it isn’t quite that easy. Partly because the budget document they are working from was based on the premise that 2.5% was going to be the tax increase. Sharman has thrown a wrench into those gears and in doing so really stressed staff. Roman Martiuk, City Manager, who is a bit of a magicians when it comes to “working the numbers” is at times totally perplexed with what staff asks him to do.

Goldring was more assertive in trying to bring his council around to the point where they could get something done.  It had been a long day.

Goldring was more assertive in trying to bring his council around to the point where they could get something done. It had been a long day.

And he isn’t always able to come back with the response council wants as quickly as some council members would like him to. It was getting a little testy in the afternoon and then downright ridiculous late in the afternoon. For the first time, Goldring was louder than I’ve ever heard him before and very assertive.

He wanted council to “get out of the way” and let staff do their jobs. “all this nonsense, there is no relevance to it. Staff` gave us what we asked of them. We are just going to have to hold our noses and live with what we have”.

Staff indicated they needed nine to ten months to create a budget, which drew a stern glance from Sharman. They are going to have to produce budgets in a much shorter time frame in 2012 – and that seems to be what this council is going to do.

They appear to be heading for a situation where the city will have a budget that requires quite a bit less than 2.5% but it doesn’t look as if Sharman is going to get his 0% – even though with the very significant $9.3 million surplus from last year, it looks as if a 0% increase could be achieved. Sharman argues that this council was elected to lower taxes and cut costs.

Well they will certainly do that and in the process push staff in a way they have never been pushed before – and they will be a better staff for it. Credit for that does belong to Sharman who is well supported by Taylor and Dennison.

Goldring doesn’t lead that way. His style, which is still evolving, seems to be to let people have their way and to listen carefully to what they want to see accomplished and then to create an environment in which the wishes of each council member can be met.

Goldring is not an iron fist in a velvet glove kind of leader – but he does lead. He is not confrontational in the way Sharman is and he does not get as emotionally attached to issues the way Taylor does. There is a humanness to Goldring that is becoming clearer.

Sometimes you have to pause and think about where you want to get to.

Sometimes you have to pause and think about where you want to get to.

That didn’t go down very well with a couple of the guys with sharper pencils on council. The city has hired an average of 18 new people every year for the past ten years and this council realizes that has to stop. Sharman wanted to freeze that staff compliment at the 2010 level. He got voted down on that but council did agree that the staffing compliment would be frozen at the 2011 level and before a new hire was made, city hall staff` had to figure out who was not going to be in place. No one talked about firing anyone but it was very clear that the city manager had to work with what he had in terms of staff compliment and still deliver the same service and program levels.

There was a lot of deep breathing being done by Roman Martiuk. He is supported by a good staff who know their numbers and while they tend to be cautious – no venture capital people in the building, they are administrators who haven’t been stretched the way this council is stressing them. They know, or they should know, that they are being led and that council is focused.

Ward 1 councillor Rick Craven wasn’t able to get much in the way of traction on any of his issues and when he was “pronouncing”, which he is want to do, he doesn’t seem to get heard. He can get a little acerbic at times and at one point told his fellow council members that they were “naive and simplistic” and that we were headed for “civic chaos”.

There isn’t going to be any civic chaos. What there is going to be is a budget that could be at 0% for year 1, will probably be at 1% – maybe a lit less. And this is the really significant part of what your council is doing now. They are positioning themselves to be able to put together very solid budgets for the following three years of their four year term that meets the real needs of a changing city. This council wants to get this budget behind them – even if it means holding their noses for parts of it – and get into the Strategic Plan,through which they will figure out, with the citizens of this city what we really want – and then they will craft a budget that makes the wants possible.

The day the capital budget was approved and the day the operating budget was gotten into Money Sense magazine declared that Burling was the #3 best Canadian city to live in. and the only city in the GTA in the top ten. Take that Oakville!

Now that award is not all that it seems, but for a city that just loves getting and handing out awards – they will milk this one mercilessly

Ward 2 councillor Meed Ward is still in learning mode – she asks more questions than anyone else and isn’t the least bit shy about letting you know what she doesn’t know. And if what she says come out as a bit silly – she just laughs it off. She is there to serve her people and to learn – and she certainly has her fan club. How effective is she – too early to tell.

Blair is Blair. Blair Lancaster, a quiet, well intentioned woman who wants only the best for everyone and will go to considerable lengths to quiet troubled waters. She seems to have been given the role of the “person with the microphone” at any public event where someone has to lead. Lancaster is Burlington’s girl; their Beauty Queen who is serving her citizens. At that level she is very effective. She is also very fiscally prudent and will not let this city get itself into financial disarray.

The showdown issue for the first significant session on budget making was a vote on a Direction that was to go to staff which read:

That for 2011 Council consider each of the budget proposals and approve, decline or amend

That for 2012-14 staff develop budgets:

    At the 2011 approved complement level

    For each additional position a reduction be identified

The budget documents outline the service impact for Council’s consideration

Increases in FTE be considered should higher cost positions be replaced with lower cost positions.

An FTE stands for a Full time employee.

Not a particularly elegant document but it showed that the clout Sharman has been using up until now may not have that much heft to it. Sharman wanted future budgets to be based on the staffing compliment of 2010 – and except for Councillor Craven no one else voted for using the 2010 number. But don’t count that 0% tax increase out yet.

Eighty percent of the city’s budget goes into payroll. If there are going to be savings it has to be at the payroll level. Sharman wanted the level that everything gets started at to be 2010. He has had to settle for the 2011 numbers and that is what the battle will be over the next few days.

Tracy Burrows, by Law enforcement officer, taking citizens through a budget input session held at the Burlington Arts Centre

Tracy Burrows, by Law enforcement officer, taking citizens through a budget input session held at the Burlington Arts Centre

Council is not all that driven to reduce spending – and much of that is based on the results of the community input meetings that were held. These were staff` led events that were really very poorly attended – less than 50 people at one Saturday morning event. Included in the Agenda for the Budget and Corporate Services Committee was three and a half pages of comment recorded by staff. The list is a mix of ideas and thoughts but there were no burning issues brought to the surface. There was no anger evident. The group just wanted better administration and value for the money being spent but there was no suggestion that spending had to be reduced hugely.

With that kind of evidence in their pockets council members can feel free to tinker and tighten and leve it at that. Sharman seems to be the only one who wants to go down deep and cut.

What Sharman has managed to do is shake up city hall staff in a way they have never been shaken before. This crowd has burned a lot of midnight oil with dozens of Sunday afternoon phone calls. They got a good taste of the corporate world this round.

To be fair to staff – and on this everyone agrees – staff has done a great job of complying with the demands of council. Their job isn’t over yet – but the wind has shifted a bit and they are no longer sailing into icy winter winds blowing off Lake Ontario. There is a hint of that warmer wind that has been out there teasing us into believing that Spring is truly here.

… staff has done a great job of complying with the demands of council.

And when the Toronto Maple Leafs win a crucial game against Buffalo to keep the hope for a Stanley Cup playoff spot alive – well who knows. There just may be a new day coming. The Big smoke to the east of us will become unimaginably insufferable should they actually make it to the playoffs. They aren’t going to win – are they? Meanwhile, Burlington will become a little more smug with its third place ranking and city hall staff will stand taller knowing they have met a significant challenge.

What would Toronto do if the Stanley Cup was paraded down Yonge Street? Implode probably.

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We’ve got $18 million ‘in the bank’ so the lights shouldn’t go out.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 29, 2011 – It was certainly the shortest full City Council meeting in this term of office and is probably one of the shortest on record for the city of Burlington. Les than two minutes.

All those power lines along the west Beach bring power to your door step.

All those power lines along the west Beach bring power to your door step.

But it had a huge chunk of change attached to it – the city approved and is therefore on the hook for $18 million in interim financing made available to Burlington Hydro Inc, which you the tax payer own. Now we didn’t spend that amount of money, in fact we didn’t even have that amount of money – what the city did do was set up a line of credit with the TD bank so that we could pay our hydro bill.

We had to have “money in the ban;” to pay for any hydro we may have had to buy from an organization that is in place to buy and sell hydro between the different hydro organizations. And apparently they don’t take cheques.

So if for some reason we here in Burlington can’t provide the hydro power needed than we have to move real quick and buy some power from someone who has a bit extra. This all happens in mere minutes. The folks who are selling us the power want to be sure we can pay for it.

There are literally hundreds of hydro corporations involved in this set up. We had to show that we had the cash to pay the bill. $18 million in total. The resolution didn’t say if it was Canadian or US funds.

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Horses in the federal election race are lined up. Meet the people who want your vote.

By Staff

Alyssa Brierley gets nominated by federal Liberals.

Alyssa Brierley gets nominated by federal Liberals.

BURLINGTON, ON March 28, 2011 – Except for the Greens, we now know who the Burlington candidates for the federal election are going to be. On Sunday the Liberals acclaimed Alyssa Brierley as their candidate so we have her, Mike Wallace and David Laird gearing up their campaigns. Brierley was nominated by long time Burlington Liberal Paddy Torsney who is most grateful that there is a Liberal candidate in place. She may have had to jump into the race had the association not found a candidate, Brierley, who is new to politics, has the potential to mount a very strong campaign.

This will be the third campaign for Laird and the first for Brierley. Wallace is defending the seat he has won twice. Wallace lost his first time out but then won in 2006 and 2008. Our Mayor Rick Goldring was the Green candidate in 2008.

Laird garnered 6581 votes in 2004; 8090 in 2006 but dropped to 6600 in 2008. But he is back for a third try and seems to carry the same message; people matter. He has been waiting for this campaign for some time – his nomination took place last May.

Laird, who works with the Children’s Aid Society in the child protection field. A graduate of York University with a degree in English and psychology he brings what he calls a “big picture” view to federal politics. It was a little difficult to pin point Laird on what he would do for Burlington were he to be elected. He describes himself as a humanist and wants to see a federal government supporting seniors and their needs rather than spending what he calls “obscene” amounts on a war plane.

Laird has been a candidate in waiting since last May.  He is going to have to quadruple his 2008 vote to beat the incumbent.

Laird has been a candidate in waiting since last May. He is going to have to quadruple his 2008 vote to beat the incumbent.

Laird thinks governments should ask and not tell people what should be done and believes strongly that technology can make it much easier for governments to serve the public. Laird would like to see some of those security cameras set up in the board rooms of the large corporations and the Prime Minister’s Office, where Laird thinks the major crimes are taking place. He might not get much argument against that belief.

Laird is a strong believer in the need for proportional representation in the House of Commons. From his viewpoint “It isn’t fair for a party with 35% of the popular vote to form a government. He brings that edge of anger about how those with less always seem to get less and bridles at how much what he would call the “fat” corporations manage to get from the federal government.

Laird thinks our monetary policy is all wrong and that the distribution of wealth in the country is skewed in the wrong direction.

Laird will take a four week leave of absence to campaign and, as he has in the past, has the support of a small but highly motivated community of New Democrats in Burlington. His two children, 12 and 18 and a devoted wife will be there in the trenches with him. New Democrats fund their campaigns with small donations from supporters.

Mike Wallace, the sitting member hasn’t had much to say so far. Watch for the opening of campaign offices and lawn signs as the snow moves off the streets and the crocuses begin popping up.

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Just how does someone “steal” your identity”? They collect information about you.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 28, 2011 – The internet has made it possible for us to communicate almost instantly with people we know and care about. We can read our newspapers on line; we can shop and make purchases; we can do our banking on line. We can also have our identities stolen and find our bank accounts empty because someone has learned enough about us from papers that we innocently threw out in the garbage.

Crime Stoppers Halton came up with a program that had them partnering with Shred-It, that allowed people to bring in their confidential documents and have them shredded for a small donation.

Kelly Gorven, on the right side of this picture, is a Crime Stoppers Board member who has served on the organization since her days as a Sheridan College student.  The Shred it trucks chewed up documents in a matter of seconds. Shown with Kelly are two citizens who took advantage of the shredding opportunity.

Kelly Gorven, on the right side of this picture, is a Crime Stoppers Board member who has served on the organization since her days as a Sheridan College student. The Shred it trucks chewed up documents in a matter of seconds. Shown with Kelly are two citizens who took advantage of the shredding opportunity.

Trucks were located at malls in both Burlington and Oakville. The response was a little on the limited side in Burlington due for the most part to the weak promotion but those that did know about the event and took part in the program were very pleased.

The event was successful enough for the Halton Crime Stoppers to decide that they would hold another event in the fall. Cal Millar, chief Crime Stopper, said the organization is looking into the idea of holding a Shred It day internationally. “We’d like this to be something that happens on the same day in cities around the world.” They are certainly thinking big enough.

In Burlington/Oakville Crime Stoppers raised $4200. in $5 and $10 donations.

The Halton Regional Police Service had an information booth set up in the Burlington Mall and traffic to that location was quite good. Detective Constable Keith Nakahara with the Regional Fraud unit, was on hand to explain to people what steps they could take to protect themselves from having their identities stolen.

Det. Sgt Keith Nakahara, at the Crime Stoppers booth at Burlington Mall last weekend explains how to protect yourself from identity theft.  Robert Strutt of Shred-It is in the background.

Det. Sgt Keith Nakahara, at the Crime Stoppers booth at Burlington Mall last weekend explains how to protect yourself from identity theft. Robert Strutt of Shred-It is in the background.

“The people who want to steal your identity are a pretty sophisticated bunch and they are persistent” explained Nakahara, who added that ” plain common sense is the best defense you have. If it sounds to good to be true – chances are it isn’t true. If you’re in doubt don’t and call the police and report the incident to them.”

Nakahara explained that when people call the police a pattern of behaviour quickly becomes evident to the police and that allows them to take action because they know there is something going on in an area.

The technology can work two ways. The police are now able to alert people by instant email. Information, used properly can make the lives of all of us safer and more productive.

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A devastated Japan sends funds to Burlington for woman at risk. Let’s hope we are as generous with our disaster aid to them.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON, March 25, 2011 – The spirit of generosity was at the heart of a cheque presentation that took place at Burlington City Hall on Friday. With Japan struggling to get back on its feet after experiencing a massive earthquake followed by a crippling tsunami, one would have thought the cheque would be going from Burlington to Japan.

But that’s not the way things worked out. Friday afternoon, Halton women’s Place accepted a cheque for $1,200 that was donated by a Japanese benefactor, Taroo Enomoto, a Japanese citizen from Burlington’s sister city of Itabashi.

“Each year since our city’s twinning with Itabashi, Mr. Enomoto has donated to a charitable cause in our community,” said Blair Lancaster, Ward 6 Councillor and Council representative of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee. “This year he wanted it to go to a charity that benefits at-risk women and children in the Burlington and surrounding area.”

Halton Women’s Place’s development manager, Carm Bozzo was thrilled to accept the cheque on behalf of the organization, “We are honoured to be the recipient of this donation,” she said. “Mr. Enomoto’s kindness has touched us and the donation will be used to help support our many families in need.”

From left to right: Carm Bozzo, development manager, Halton Women’s Place; Councillor Blair Lancaster; Mayor Rick Goldring; Ed Dorr, Chair, Burlington Mundialization Committee.

From left to right: Carm Bozzo, development manager, Halton Women’s Place; Councillor Blair Lancaster; Mayor Rick Goldring; Ed Dorr, Chair, Burlington Mundialization Committee.

Several members of council were on hand as Burlington’s Mundialization Committee presented a cheque in the amount of 100,000 Yen (approximately $1,200 CAD) to Halton Women’s Place.

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Burlington’s twinning with Itabashi. In 1989, a twinning agreement was signed between the two cities and the relationship has since developed through regular citizen visits, official delegations and anniversary celebrations.

Mayor Goldring recognized Mr. Enomoto for his unwavering spirit of generosity and commented on the long-standing friendship between Burlington and Itabashi. “My hope is that residents of our city will be inspired to show the same generosity, kindness and support that our friends in Japan have bestowed upon us here in Burlington,” remarked Mayor Goldring.  “I encourage residents to do what they can to help support relief efforts in Japan during this very difficult time.”

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He is getting better. And he is developing a vision and wants wide public input on. Will we give it to him?

BURLINGTON, ON March 24, 2011 – He sat there wearing an orange shirt that must have been a Father’s day gift, sitting in a large, leather covered, wing back chair and answered the more than 30 questions put to him by a room filled with the city’s economic leaders at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast held at the Burlington Golf and Country Club. And he did just fine. Better, said some, than he did at the State of the City address he gave a number of months ago.

So – what do we know about this Mayor and the city he leads? Well first – he addresses issues head on and when he doesn’t know the answer to a question he just says he doesn’t know. When asked about THE Pier, and he is always asked about the Pier, says that the city is in the process of hiring a new contractor and that he is hopeful to have the Pier opened in 2013. He was asked if the design could change – nope, he replied, the design was seen as build-able by the experts – so at this point in time, no design change.

No one asked about the delays in getting an RFP out to the construction community. Had that question been asked there would have been an awkward answer. And no one asked what the city would do if no one responded to the RFP. There is one council member who is afraid that no one will want to even look at the job. We may have attracted a bit of a reputation on this one. No fault of the Mayor’s but he is the goat carrying the can on this one. What many don’t realize that most of the people who got the city into this mess are no longer on staff, city hall doesn’t announce the departures – just the arrivals.

Mayor Goldring wants everyone to get a copy of this workbook and do their homework.

One of Mayor Goldring’s favourite topics is the Strategic Plan process and he touts the Workbook the city ha prepared and actually asks people to get together in small groups and go through the document and feed their ideas back to the city.

Burlington has prepared Strategic Plans for seven terms of office. Goldring wants to put together a 20 to 25 year vision for the city and as part of this process he has created a Workbook that can be down loaded, as well as a well thought out questionnaire that you can complete online. The questionnaire will tell you a lot about your Burlington.

The Mayor has never been through an Official Plan revision. Given that the next revision we do in 2012 will be critical to how we handle sensitive parts of the city – the downtown core and the West Beachway, our Mayor has some homework to do. Does he want to rely on what old timers Craven, Taylor and Dennison will tell him ? These are the guys that approved a 22 story “landmark” building right on the waters edge

He is going to travel. He has a trip planned to Portland Oregon where they have instituted some innovation transit ideas and our Mayor, who understands better than most on city council how tough a job we have to, as he put it, retool suburbia to meet the times we now live in. Goldring uses the phrase “…we build this city fifty years ago when land and gas were cheap…” and we now have to deal with urban sprawl that requires a car to get around.

Mayor is going the intellectual route; bringing in deep thinkers to inspire the locals.

The Mayor also touted the Inspire Burlington series he has planned for the year with the first event taking place April 12th, 7 pm at the McMaster University deGroote School of Business, South Service Road campus. Featured speaker will be Christopher Hume, the Architecture critic for the Toronto Star. Registration forms are at: https://cms.burlington.ca/Page6907.aspx

Is Burlington a tourism destination one man asked? We are in between Niagara Falls and Toronto explained the Mayor and it is difficult to stand out with lights that bright on either side of you, but we do have something to offer people. Lunch on the waterfront and walk up Mt Nemo; take in a performance at the Performing Arts Centre and if the elite sports cycling event manages to overcome its problems it has the potential to make Burlington a destination for those who cycle – and there are apparently loads of them, although some of the numbers tossed out were nothing more than exaggerations.

It was a pleasure to learn that Goldring has not yet become a slick politician with answers to or evasions for every question tossed at him. When asked about traffic light synchronization he said he had a complete “non-answer:. The best he could do he said was “dodge that bullet”. For that he got a laugh.

Asked if he liked his job, the response was immediate – “this is an awesome job. If it was easy it wouldn’t be fun, if there were no challenges it wouldn’t be fun. This is a really, really fun job.” This mayor just may have a speech writer working for him when he delivers lines like that.

There were some tough questions. What asked Keith Hoey, President of the Chamber of Commerce, was the 2010 surplus ? $9.3 million was the answer and the follow up question was – what are you going to do with it ? The Chamber wants the city to commit half of any surplus to the hospital re-development fund so that hospital funding doesn’t have to appear on the tax bill, which Chamber members pay a large part of.

Others in the room wanted the city to be administered in such a way that the surpluses are lower with better financial administration.

We have a Mayor who thinks he could serve for at least two terms. If there were an election today he would run un-opposed. Ooops, forgot about the Greek hair stylist. OK, so he’d win in a landslide.

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As impossible as the odds are – the train just might have a station to pull into.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 24, 2011 – It was thought that the thing would just rot where it is in the fire hall parking lot on Plans Road but – there is a pulse, albeit very weak and the group of citizens who took on the task of saving the Freeman station now are in a position to collect donations and issue tax receipts.

That they have to actually go out and raise money when there was all kinds of cash actually on the table is a monument to the everlasting shame of those members on council (Taylor, Dennison. Goldring and Craven) that could not find a place to put the station when the funds to make a move was in the bank. One hopes that if there is ever an Official opening that these council members will have the good grace not to show their faces. Leadership seems to have vacated all four of them in the historical side of building community.

The citizen volunteers have formed a board for a non profit corporation and have begun to thunk through ways they think this piece of Burlington history can be saved.

Waiting for a new home. Some are hoping it just rots away where it is.

Ward 5 council member Paul Sharman was polite to the group that appeared before a council committee awhile back asking (pleading actually) for time to come up with a plan. No one on council felt they had a hope in Hades, but none had the courage to tell them to all go home and look for something else to do.

Sharman asked each of the delegations if they would accept the fact that it wasn’t possible to come up with a viable plan that did not include any of the locations that were already decided against – would they then give up. And each, very reluctantly agreed that if they didn’t have something concrete by April – then perhaps the station’s time had come. It was humbling to watch Les Armstrong’s shoulder sag when he answered the question.

Sharman admits to be quite amazed by the efforts of the committee which includes, Jane Irwin, Les Armstrong, James Smith, with councillors Marianne Meed Ward and Blair Lancaster serving as liaison to the group that is now organized as a non profit corporation.

The group seems to have found the pluck that council never had and while their efforts to date are not really concrete their spirit is solid and one hopes that Council, come April, will see their way to giving this group another six months to come forward with a plan that is concrete.

Jane Irwin showed council what Aurora did with their historical station and argued Burlington had an even better building.

It would be nice to see Councillor Dennison get as excited about saving some history as he did about the elite cycling event – which may be on its way down the tubes as it were.

The community organization is about to be incorporated as a non profit and plan to be back before a council committee at the end of April with a vision, sign posts to show where they want to go and how they propose to get there. “We expect to kick some of this back to council and ask for some guidance and direction from then as we go forward with this”, is the way James Smith an architectural technologist who works in the field of computer aided design CAD, and certainly knows the field.

Burlington Green also has a proposal.

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