John Boich, 1933 – 2011 Requiescat in Pace

He died quietly in his sleep, shortly after being informed that he had been named Citizen of the Year by the citizens of Burlington, Ontario

John Boich 1933-2011

John Boich 1933-2011

John Boich, 1933-2011, athlete, scholar, educator, businessman, political advisor, husband and friend to many, died peacefully in his sleep at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington of pancreatic cancer on March 15th.

A man of huge generosity with both his time and resources John always answered the phone with the words ‘Yes’ on his lips.

John faced his passing with the strength and determination that he faced most things in his life; stoically and with strength and determination.

A man with opinions that he was never afraid to express and a gusto for life that never failed him. From the football fields of the Canadian Football League where he wore the number 12 for the Ottawa Rough Riders and knew all the greats in that sport, to a session of Burlington city council where every council member gathered around John in a circle and bid him their very best as tears rolled down John’s face.

He leaves his wife Arlene, brother, his two children and his three dogs: Buster, Winston and Molly. We will see that the dogs are walked regularly John.

A remembrance service will be held in the near future.

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Sister city in Japan is spared from the earth quake that has devasted parts of Japan.

By Staff

Burlington, On.—March 14, 2011— Burlington’s sister city Itabashi, Japan, has been spared any damage from the earth quake that has wiped some towns off the face of the earth and landed ocean going vessels on city streets.

Itabashi, Japan, Burlington’s sister city has not been damaged by the earth quake that destroyed large parts of Japan.

Itabashi, Japan, Burlington’s sister city has not been damaged by the earth quake that destroyed large parts of Japan.

Mayor Rick Goldring placed a call to the Mayor of  Itabashi last Friday but was unable to get through.  There was a response to an email in which the Mayor of Itabashi, Takeshi Sakamoto who reported that damages have been stayed at minimum in Itabashi city and citizens are safe,”

“Here in Itabashi city hall, we felt several strong quakes. However, damages have been stayed at minimum in Itabashi city and citizens are safe” adding that Itabashi is now preparing for power restrictions.

“Again, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to you and Burlington citizens for such kind concern and friendship,” Mayor Sakamoto wrote. “Lastly, I would like to share with you my prayers for your happiness and the prosperity of Burlington city.”

“In times of crisis, it is important to reach out and let your friends know that your thoughts and prayers are with them,” Mayor Goldring said. “I know I speak for my colleagues on City Council and the people of Burlington when I say our thoughts are with Itabashi and the people of Japan as they struggle with the aftermath of this tragic situation. We receive some comfort from knowing our Itabashi friends are safe.”

Spring trees will bloom in Itabashi, Japan and hopefully in Burlington as well.

Spring trees will bloom in Itabashi, Japan and hopefully in Burlington as well.

In May of 1989, the City of Burlington signed a twinning agreement with the City of Itabashi. In the following years, various exchanges and programs have been carried out between ltabashi and Burlington and relations between the cities have flourished on all levels.

Itabashi is located in the northwestern part of the metropolis on the Shyakujii, Shingashi and Arakawa Rivers 45 kilometres northwest of Tokyo. The name Itabashi literally means wooden bridge and was derived from a wooden bridge constructed some 800 years ago over the Shyakujii river.

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Burlington considering a new media; going for a Town Crier to deliver the Mayors words.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 14, 2011  –  David Vollick got asked to help at a church event awhile ago – they needed someone with a loud voice to let people know about the different events that were taking place one Christmas Season.  They dressed him up a bit and gave him a bell to ring and that planted the deed of an idea in Dave’s mind that resulted in his appearing before a city council committee to suggest that Burlington might get itself a Town Crier.

Costs $50. to clean and press the uniform – but he is pretty isn’t he.  David Vollick as a Town Crier.

Costs $50. to clean and press the uniform – but he is pretty isn’t he. David Vollick as a Town Crier.

Council kind of liked the idea and sent it off to staff to consider all the implications and sometime later this year the city will probably have a Town Crier of its very own.  Vollick wasn’t asking Council to pay him to do the job but he did point at that the people getting the benefit of the Crier usually pay a small stipend to cover the cost of cleaning the elaborate uniform they wear..  As Dave pointed out ”it costs $50. to have this uniform cleaned and pressed.”

His wife Barbara often joins him at any events he works.  What council heard was that Crier could read out the public declarations that are made by the Mayor.   Girl Guide Month or Small Business Week – the range is immense.  There could be a proclamation made on Canada Day.

The first documented use of a Town Crier was in1066, after the Norman Invasion of England.  Criers were regularly used after that  by the ruling King or Queen to inform all the citizens of their orders and decrees. To this day old English law still protects Criers from being Hindered or Heckled whilst carrying out their duties.

The term “Posting A Notice” comes from the act of the Town Crier attaching the notice or Proclamation he had read to the door post of the local Inn or Tavern.

Citizens of the towns relied on the crier for the information, be it good or bad news. Criers were not always men.  Many Town Criers were women. Bells were not the only attention getting device. In Holland a Gong was the instrument of choice for many, and in France they used a Drum, or a Hunting Horn.

Criers where often old military veterans who could read and write but who had fallen on hard times. The position of Town Crier gave them employment and a pension.  The position of Town Crier has often been passed from one generation to the next.

Council directed the City Manager to investigate the idea of establishing an Official Town Crier for Burlington, looking into the costs and report back to the Community Services committee by April 20.

David Vollick ably assisted by his wife Barbara.

David Vollick ably assisted by his wife Barbara.

The intention was to hold a contest for a crier if the city manager could find a benefit for the city.  Tourism Burlington was reported to like the idea and Vollick could see the Crier being used for store openings and other events that wanted to draw public attention.

We just might see someone at City Hall reading out a Proclamation on Canada Day while the cyclists zoom by.

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City staff give the Shape report a very detailed look and bought into most of what was recommended.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 11, 2011  –  It was probably one of the more challenging assignments that has landed on the desk of Kim Phillips, General Manager of Corporate Services for the city of Burlington.  It took her back to her days as a staff member in Cambridge where she learned how vital community and neighbourhood is to the health of a city.

Throughout this piece we use Ms Phillips as the main mention but it has to be pointed out that the work she did was part of a deep and detailed interaction with every department in the city and lengthy dialogue with the city manager and the Executive Budget Committee.  This was a full staff effort.

Ms Phillips was given the task of heading up and writing the response to the Shape Burlington report that has been on the tongues of the political element of the city for more than a year. How was the city to respond?

The report covers all the bases. Ms Phillips consulted widely within the civic administration and with numerous groups in the city as well as people who she felt could advise and counsel her on what is best for the city.  She met with the original Shape Committee as well as the follow up group Shaping Burlington to develop what has the potential to become a turning point for the city and the way it relates to its citizens.

Doing the “digging around” to get a sense of how city hall worked from a citizens perspective was to some degree a painful process for Phillips.  A trained facilitator, Phillips had to move to the other side of the table to fully understand the issues – and it wasn’t always clear that a solution existed until she began to understand on an “at the counter” level what city hall staff do with the public on a day to day basis.

Some of the comments made were hard to hear and Phillips began to understand that there was an information deficit and struggled with “how do you let people know what we are doing?”  There are many on staff who are ‘active instigators’ who care deeply about the city yet their performance was not that evident to the average taxpayer.”

One example of the concern Phillips was trying to convey was a Saturday morning public meeting on the budget.  Some 50 people were in the room at the Arts Centre with about a third representing city staff.  The meeting came to an end and it was staff that was the last to leave as they gathered up their material and discussed how the event had gone.  The “public” had ‘left the building much earlier’.

The response to the Shape Burlington report is fair, balanced and detailed but, not complete because Ms Phillips see this process of engaging citizens as an ongoing process and so she has left a number of doors open.  The process of collaborating seems to have taken root in her office and I suspect within the General Manager class and the Executive Budget Committee as well.

Phillips has certainly made a significant first stab at trying to make it better.

Phillips talked to publishers, talked to people in neighbourhoods and it became evident to her that there was a divide.  Her challenge was to come up with a way to meld the Shape recommendations and her knowledge of what could and what could not be done at the civic administration level, into a document that would be approved by Council.

Everything staff does is at the direction of Council – and if they don’t like what they hear – they don’t approve it.  This council approved the report at the committee level, where it didn’t really get the time and debate it deserved.  The meeting agenda was full and council members are focused on the budget.  But they did accept the Staff report but didn’t buy into much of what Shaping Burlington wanted to see.  It comes back to a full Council meeting where it might get additional debate.

In her report, Phillips hones in on the expectations Shape Burlington raised and described those expectations as a desire for more timely and useful communication and information sharing, interest in early involvement as part of strategic and ongoing decision making.

“…a desire for more timely and useful communication and information sharing…”

“Managing expectations will be important as changes are intended in part to improve feelings of belonging, and the public’s trust and confidence in the City of Burlington’s government.  The City of Burlington makes thousands of decisions every year and has had success in the past with strategic planning, citizen involvement, and strategic communications.”   The Shape Burlington report was clearly seeking change.  “Although Burlington has many communications practices that are on the forefront in the municipal sector,” Phillips points out that “ we recognize that improvement is possible and desirable.”   

“The many ways that allow people to participate and express their view at the municipal level do require constant monitoring for effectiveness. These opportunities can offer ways to improve citizen involvement and confidence in our municipal government. At the same time, the community will benefit from the increased commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of the city.”

Easier said than done but Phillips has certainly made as significant first stab at trying to make it better.  In her Staff response she pointed out that “…whether you are reading this staff report as a committee member, a participant in the process, a staff person, a member of council, or someone new or without any knowledge of Shape Burlington, there are clear and key messages that are important for all of us.”

She added, in a point that is critical – “…staff will receive direction about council’s commitment to enhance citizen participation in City of Burlington service delivery and decision-making processes.”  The direction and the policy comes from council.  All Phillips has done is set out the options and the potential.

Phillips bought into the idea of an Engagement Charter and the hiring of a person with the specific task of being a resource to staff who would bring about the transformation over time of a new and more open relationship with the residents of the city.

The early draft of the Engagement Charter has a long way to go – and Phillips both acknowledges the amount of work to be done.  For her the process is to involve the community on how best to get significant public input into the content of the charter and the setting out of a path that would be followed to implement whatever gets agreed upon.

Phillips writes: “The Shape Burlington report is also about influence and control.  What is the role of council, staff, citizens and groups?  Facts need to be known about what is unchangeable and what is open for discussion.  What is reasonable in balancing the city’s legislated and professional responsibilities with involvement from others?  Who decides?”

“The Shape Burlington report is about influence and control.”

“We all care,”, Phillips points out and “have expectations, and want to spend our time in ways that have most value.  We all want to be understood.  We also know that we can’t be everything to everyone.  There’s a level of frustration or sense of not being understood in all of us.”

“Any process of change should involve those most impacted.  In the topics of the Shape Burlington report, the citizens involved, the staff, and council now in office are impacted.  It’s time for all of us to ‘reset’ and move forward with a fresh start.  The best outcomes include open dialogue, best value efforts, continuous improvement, trust, and well-informed decision making.” Sounds good doesn’t it ?

“Along the theme of customer-first service, we need to check in about what is important, how to reach out, what the choices are, and why anyone should care.   We need to invite involvement in ways that continue to work for us as they have in the past and in new ways that we may not be as experienced with.  We need to determine appropriate measures that will indicate where progress is being made and guide changes that may be necessary.”  Moving that attitude into the ranks is much more of a challenge.  Has every staff member read the report Phillips wrote ?  Do they know where she wants this city to go in terms of civic engagement ?  Perhaps the city should publish one of those “little red book” that some governments and political parties used to get the message out to the masses.

“How will we know we’ve gotten there” Phillips asks.  “How do we recognizes our successes and how do we measure them”.  Then without quite realizing it, Phillips asks the most trenchant question: “What are you looking for and how will you know you’ve found it?”  That’s a question the citizens of Burlington have to put to themselves and then communicate the answer they come up with to both the staff and their council members,

“What are you looking for and how will you know you have it?”

Kim Phillips General Manager,

Corporate Services

Phillips describes the process we are all about to go into as a stool with a council leg, a staff` leg and a citizen leg.  “If we don’t have all three legs firmly fixed  we’ve got nothing to sit on.  While Phillips didn’t put it quite this way – without three legs we are all flat on the floor.

Given that the city doesn’t employ an Easter Bunny to deliver the goods to us – there has to be a process – and it is the process that matters most.  Phillips writes: “We will work with the community to develop a process that will ‘categorize’ these decisions.  Where issues are appropriate for greater community involvement, we will ensure that the necessary supports are in place to do it well.”

What the Staff report is setting out to do is change the culture at city hall to promote active citizenship and civic engagement.   “The key messages staff take from Shape Burlington’s recommendations” writes Phillips, “are information sharing and working together.  Staff support the development of a document that has been temporarily named ‘Working Paper on Burlington Engagement Charter’.   The Charter will provide a cohesive message of the City’s commitment to citizen involvement. From a priority perspective, we see this as one of the two top priorities arising from the Shape Burlington report. 

Shaping Burlington has suggested that this is a process that could take six to twelve months to complete.  Identifying the team that will work together on the charter should be completed by the end of March.  The team will then discuss their approach, process and meeting plans.  Staff expect that the charter can be completed by the 4th quarter of 2011, allowing time for the strategic planning process to proceed in parallel.

This is a pretty tight time frame within which to transform a culture.  Given this time line, the culture at city hall will have changed before the Brant Street Pier opens.
Targeting completion of the charter for fall 2011 also ensures that the new staff person has an opportunity to be part of the development process before a proposed charter is presented to committee and council for approval. 

That is a pretty tight time frame within which to transform a culture.  Given this time line the culture at city hall will have changed before the Brant Street Pier opens.  While the time line suggested might be somewhat less than realistic,  the intention and the process have more than a chance of making it through the mill.

“Development and implementation of the charter will require ongoing commitment from staff, council, and the community.  At this time, staff do not consider the words ‘engagement charter’ the title of the final document and will work with citizens to present a document using clear, plain language.”  Shaping Burlington representatives have indicated that they prefer the word “civic” to “citizen” related to a charter, but the words will be considered as part of the collaborative process.  We want to ensure that community groups, businesses, and citizens feel included in the charter.  We anticipate that a working group of staff and citizens will develop the document and throughout the process can invite representatives of council to provide input.  As council will make the final decision about approval of the document, the development of it is being suggested to be in the hands of citizens and staff primarily.  Until the new staff person is in place, the General Manager of Corporate Services will coordinate this effort, working with the Assistant to the General Managers.

“…staff do not consider the words ‘engagement charter’ the title of the final document.”  Are we looking at a watering down of the wine before we even get to taste it?

 

Shaping Burlington representatives have indicated that they prefer the word “civic” to “citizen”.  A citizen votes – not sure if civic isn’t more water in that wine.

So, it is the natives that will work up the document and present that to the appropriate council committee.  Better allow lots of time for that meeting.

“The Shape Burlington report suggested increased citizen involvement in developing a vision statement,  writes Phillips, “so that citizens could be involved in influencing the city’s long term direction and so that the resulting plan is clear and includes measurable action plans that the community can buy into.  Shaping Burlington suggested that the strategic plan process be considered a marketing exercise to reach out to citizens, to create a buzz about the importance of the plan as a priority setting exercise for the community as a whole.”

What we are seeing is a level of pro-activity this city has not seen for some time.  Can it be sustained?  It can, but only if all three legs of that stool are in place.

Communication has been perhaps the biggest public complaint.  Citizens don’t feel they know what is really going on.  Planning department notices that effect a large area are sent out, for the most part to just those homes within a 120 metre radius of a proposed plan,  The city’s web site isn’t has never won any awards for its ease of use and the communications department suffers from a lack of oxygen and sufficient funding.  Phillips announced that a new web site will appear within a couple of weeks. Let’s give them a chance to show us what they have learned.

The Communications department in Burlington isn’t as unified as it could be – and there appears to be a lack of strategy and direction.  The web site comes under the direction of one group with the managing of day to day communications under the direction of another person.  Some re-aligning of responsibilities might improve the performance.  This is one of those instances where structure is impeding process.   There might be just a little “turf protecting” going on here as well.

If communications were what it can be – many of the concerns brought to light by the Shape report would not have existed.  The cry was for greater involvement of all citizens in a shared vision of our city.  We are not there yet.  A large segment of the city see the Performing Arts Centre as a nice to have while another segment is out there raising the millions needed to make the place work and become an integral part of the cultural fabric of the city.

The Shape Burlington report suggested increased citizen involvement in developing a vision statement, so that citizens could be involved in influencing the city’s long term direction with measurable action plans that the community can buy into. 

Phillips writes that: “We agree that this (the development of the 2010-2014 strategic plan) is “the single best time…to influence the city’s long term direction.”  The Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives will coordinate this process and is committed to a variety of tried and true as well as new citizen engagement methods. 

“Another key point in the Shape Burlington report was the lack of trust and confidence in City government.  From a controllable perspective, the focus of this recommendation is on improving respect for citizens.”

“There are community groups with extensive e mailing lists that may provide opportunities for sharing information and a coordinated approach to the use of this information will be part of the work for the new position recommended.  Since residents have multiple points of contact, these may provide a new way for the city to keep in touch, building on successful relationships that individuals have with trusted groups.”

Those trusted groups might be described by some as those with vested interests.

Another key point in the Shape Burlington report was the lack of trust and confidence in City government.  From a controllable perspective, the focus of this recommendation is on improving respect for citizens.  If councillor Craven’s ripping through a delegation is acceptable – then this council has a long way to go.

A customer service standards review is underway and staff training is being planned

The voters turfed a Mayor that lost their confidence even though he had never lost an election before during in his lengthy career and in one election got more than 70% of the popular vote.  Did the voters have a different expectation or did the Mayor fail to read the expectations of his constituents?  This same Mayor took the initiative that brought into being the group of people who produced the report that is about to be implemented.  There is an irony in there somewhere.

Phillips makes a very significant point when she says: “The biggest challenge in community development is being clear about the limits of support and what can and can’t be done.  As long as staff and council remain focused on the City of Burlington’s services, priorities, and resources, and work collaboratively with the Region of Halton when appropriate to serve community needs, limits will be clearer and consistent approaches will be understood.  Consistency allows for clarity and allows for unique approaches as well.  The keys are up front planning, consultation and information sharing, and ongoing monitoring. 

In order to shift the way the City of Burlington invites community involvement, we need some change.  To implement change, we need a staff resource to: research, develop appropriate policies and practises. This person has to listen to input and receive feedback, write information that will help staff, council, and the community and also be a resource to staff on their projects and processes and provide guidance and advice.  Make civic engagement fun!

As if all that wasn’t enough this new staff person will have to identify strategic issues that merit enhanced citizen involvement and make connections and maintain open communication with representatives that have not been in regular or ongoing contact with the City.

The hope apparently is that Superman or Superwoman is not on an assignment elsewhere and will be available to Burlington for what is clearly a mammoth assignment.

There’s more:  Work with the community directly, in meetings and through social media.  Work with others to provide relevant online learning. Plan and implement training so that everyone can be successful. Support the early adopters and recognize success.

More yet – review efforts that fall short to share the lessons for future use, liaise with the Region of Halton to ensure roles are clear and duplication is avoided,  reach out for community input and feedback, ensure appropriate follow up,  measure, monitor, and report on progress.  That list is endless – is it also unrealistic and creating an expectation that cannot be met ?

The hope, apparently, is that Superman or Superwoman is not on an assignment elsewhere and will be available to Burlington for what is clearly a mammoth assignment.  Can one person actually do al this in one year.  There are people in the Human Resources field who would tell you expecting one person to do all this in a two year time frame is a mistake in the making.

Social media, which few of even the largest brand names in North America fully understand, is going to be added into this mix.  Burlington is in the middle of a pilot project with Twitter and getting ready to do something on Facebook which will be an interesting exercise.  The city has employed three communications advisors since 2006, working in an internal agency model, where each is responsible for assigned departments of which there are now 13 departments.  The recommended staff person will also spend time supporting the city’s implementation of social media.

A reality staff faces in discussing citizen engagement is that people are busy and have multiple interests.  Heck there are hockey games and bridge clubs too you know. Many people, most actually do not get involved in municipal government matters until there is a direct or significant impact on them personally.  Then of course they descend on city hall and expect an immediate response to their grievance and council members, who want to get elected, jump through hoops and look to staff to resolve the problem.

 “…we can encourage and foster civic engagement but we cannot  mandate it.”

Kim Phillips
General Manager Corporate Services

Phillips points out that “we can encourage and foster civic engagement but we cannot mandate it.” Citizens, as Phillips points out, share responsibility for becoming informed and providing input so that they can effectively exercise their democratic rights.  More than 60% of the voters choose not to exercise their option.

Staff held several meetings with Shaping Burlington to discuss the recommendations being presented in this report, the engagement charter, and ways of identifying, measuring and reporting about citizen engagement.  In their delegation to the committee on the Phillips report Shaping asked for a number of changes and for the most part – they didn’t get very much.  However, Phillips writes that: “Chris Walker, John Searles and Ken Edwards have been the key contacts.  Mr. Edwards will continue involvement in the development of the engagement charter, Mr. Searles is assisting with the update of the citizen’s guide, and Mr. Walker is the key contact for the group, and will be sent all information arising from committee and council’s discussions on this report.  Shaping Burlington is also, through Mr. Walker, being invited to budget 2011 consultation workshops and to strategic planning events.  So, Shaping is at the table, just not with the clout they had hoped to have.

This appears to be one of those situations where the city and its citizens are going to get a very significant bang for their buck.  Phillips expects to spend $178,000 for the two year contract position and maybe another $50,000. along the way.  To get all that is proposed for less than a quarter of a million dollars is huge value.  There are those who will carp and write letters to the editor and complain about the waste.  For those people the glass is always half empty when in reality we aren’t even talking about a glass – we are talking about a milk can that is full with rich cream that can serve the city exceptionally well far into the future.

The city and its citizens are going to get a significant bang for their buck – $178,000. to change the culture at city hall is a great deal.  Let’s not blow it.

What one can see coming together is a really bold initiative and quite a big shift on the part of the civic administration that has to serve a council that has members who really aren’t  110% behind this initiative. Members of council may take exception to that comment but let them compare the way they got really excited about the cycling competitions that is to take place on Canada Day and compare that with their feelings for a Charter that will set out what a citizen can expect from the government they elect.  OK, so it isn’t a Magna Carta but it is a big, big step for Burlington.  Let’s not blow it.

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Council committee accepts staff report on Shape recommendations – rejects the idea of sharing power with a community group.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 9, 2011  –  The one thing that always has to be remembered with politicians is that they were elected and given the power to make decisions and they never give that power away.  They might share it – a little, but if you look as if you’re going to actually get your hands on those levers of power – you’re knuckles are going to get hurt.

And so it was that Shaping Burlington learned Tuesday forenoon that neither the staff or the city council were about to give away very much in the way of the power they have to run the city.

Some background.  Former Mayor Cam Jackson created  a committee to look into a perceived lack of trust between the city administration and its citizens and a poor customer service mentality.   John Boich and Walter Mulkewich co-chaired the Committee that produced a report that was given to Council on May 3, 2010.  Council passed its resolution of endorsement July 5, and the document took on a life of its own and became one of the focal points in the October, 2010 municipal election.  The original Shape committee was disbanded and was replaced by a “watch dog” group that named itself Shaping Burlington with the mandate it took on to ensure that the Shape Burlington recommendations saw the light of day and didn’t collect dust on a shelf. 

City Staff were instructed to review the original report and come back to Council with recommendations.  Those recommendations went to a committee earlier this week and after surprising little discussion or real debate the report from staff was accepted in principal with some fine tuning to be done.

Before the council committee accepted the report in principle it heard a delegation from the Shaping Burlington people on what they felt were the shortcomings of the report that was written and shepherded through the municipal bureaucracy by Kim Phillips.

Ms Phillips wrote a detailed, considerate response to the original report and went along with the thrust of the original recommendations – but that wasn’t enough for the Shaping Burlington people.  They seemed to have felt  they were very close to getting their hands on those levers of power and they wanted to make the grip as tight as they could.  In making that comment the intention is not to imply that Shaping Burlington is a bunch of power hungry revolutionaries; they are nothing of the sort.  The do believe in collaboration and sharing but they don’t fully understand the realities of municipal politics.

They forgot the basic principle that guides and directs what politicians do – you never give that power away and you share it very sparingly.

Well, the people who have labeled themselves as “watch dogs” over the city aren’t going to have any of the power they wanted.  They will continue to be on the edge of deliberations.  Consulted from time to time and experiencing that Newfoundland phrase: “killing them with kindness.”  City staff and the citizens of Burlington have yet to find an accommodation within which each can grow.

 “Shaping Burlington” explained Chris Walker, chairman and public voice of the group, “comes from a developing a climate of civic engagement at City Hall”.  They saw the staff response as a good first step but they wanted quite a bit more than a simple step.  Walker was delegating to the Budget and Corporate Services committee that had formally received the Staff report.  Even though there were two members of the Shape Committee on council – there wasn’t much spirit in the discussion and it would be a stretch to suggest it was a debate.  More of council ensuring that its perks and power weren’t tampered with.

The agenda for the meeting also included the Capital Spending portion of the budget and that was where council wanted to be.  Did Shaping get a fair shake at the meeting?  Was the essence of the Staff report and the concerns that Shaping had with that document get the consideration it deserved?  Not really.

The Shape Report intention was to create a position of authority – council wasn’t buying it.

The staff report included the Thank you and platitude stuff about continuing the dialogue and Shaping Burlington, which saw the report a week before it was delivered formally to the committee, took the bait and responded with: “they  look forward to participating in continuing collaboration with city staff on the issues raised by Shape Burlington and its successor group, Shaping Burlington, as recommended in the staff report” and referred to the atmosphere of cooperation and goodwill that has been demonstrated to date.

Walker then mentioned the differences between the Staff report and what Shaping Burlington felt the Shape report called for and said his team was looking for “a more pro-active, less cautious, approach to the issues involved.”  Walker forgot that he is in Burlington where caution prevails

The prime issue for Walker, who speaks for the group, was the way the matter of an Engagement Charter was to be handled. He pointed out that Shape Burlington had recommended a plain language policy document that specifically directs how civic engagement can be fostered. “It incorporates benchmarks and accountabilities, describes the value, purpose and opportunities for citizens to influence city policies, explains how citizens can navigate City Hall and its services, and stipulates best practices”, explained Walker

The Charter, he added,  was to incorporate an early notification system to provide reasonable amounts of time to understand, discuss and develop positions.  Staff, according to Walker “anticipates merely a brief document that describes purposes and accountabilities, but specifically rejects incorporating benchmarks, how to navigate City Hall and its services, and best practices. The report, argued Walker does not include an early notification system in its working paper.  He pointed to a line in the Staff report that said: “ it is not a value and not applicable to all the city’s decision making.”   Walker didn’t see it that way, but he is a pleasant man and he takes the set backs in stride.

Along with an Engagement Charter the Shaping people wanted an Engagement Officer and that was just not on with this council. Walker pointed out that: “The Shape recommendation was the establishing an Office of Engagement whose Director would report to the City Manager. The intention was to create a position of authority, not merely a staff resource.”

Walker and his group were serious about civic engagement and wanted the power to bring that about to be shared.  Wasn’t going to happen.  Walker wanted to be sure staff and council understood his point and explained that the staff report recommends a two-year contract position to assist, not direct, the development and implementation of the Engagement Charter and changes to municipal policies and processes.  Shaping wanted whoever is hired to develop the policies and direct the process. Council didn’t quite see it that way.

One of the eight Shape recommendations was for a Communications Department that would provide timely and reliable information free of political bias. The transformation Shaping Burlington wanted would include a revamped and more frequent City Talk, with  council members encouraged to develop their own communication vehicles.  City Talk is a document the city publishes that includes council member activities in their individual wards.  The council members were not about to give up that free and extremely useful advertising space.

Walker forgot a cardinal rule of politics – keep your name and your picture out there as much as you can.  It is voter recognition that gets politicians re-elected – not what they do – unless they really screw up.

The opportunity to engage at the classroom level was given up by Staff – a speakers list will be drawn up for classrooms to use.  Pity.

Shape Burlington recommended municipal involvement in the Grade 10 Civics program through a module that could be created with input from the City. The proposal received enthusiastic response from school board representatives. “The staff report does not refer to the Grade 10 Civics program in its recommendations to Council, and in a later discussion limits the city’s participation to providing a speakers list.” Shape Burlington envisaged more pro-active participation.

Walker pointed out that the staff report does not refer to a Communications Department transformation, and foresees a continuation of City Talk with some modifications, with space still allocated to members of council.

Shape Burlington recommended that Council periodically hold its meetings in different geographical areas across the City to bring its deliberations closer to the community.  The staff report rejects this recommendation because of logistical and communication challenges. “We believe this is a premature rejection of a strategic objective at this time”, said Walker, so there isn’t going to be a Council road show in different parts of the city – the mountain is still going to have to come to Mohammed.

Walker told the committee that Shaping Burlington looks forward to continued discussion of these and other differences during the ongoing collaborative process.  He had no idea that council was going to have nothing to do with the kind of change the Shaping people wanted, but he pressed on and got into very specific changes in the document.

Craven ripped through Walker when he couldn’t identify Aldershot area community groups.  Cheap shot at a decent man.

Council members asked a couple of questions.  Ward 1 council member Rick Craven ripped through Walker with a bunch of questions that were designed to make Walker look as if he knew nothing about the different community groups in the city.  To his credit Walker stood up to what was really disrespectful behaviour on the part of a council member to a delegation.

Among the specific changes Walker wanted to see were: Authorize the Engagement Officer, not the City Clerk, to work with members of council and staff, recognizing that it is a position of authority.  And that is where the rubber hit the road – council was not giving away as much as an inch of its authority.

The report was accepted as it was presented by staff.  There will be a person hired for a period of time to shepherd the staff report through the civic administration and when that two year period is over – well there might be a change but nothing that resembles what the Shaping people thought they could bring about. 

Walter Mulkewich, a former Mayor of Burlington and co-chair of the Shape Burlington committee that got this all started was unable to attend the committee meeting  but did send a letter in which he said in part:

“I would like to make brief comments regarding the staff report and recommendations with respect to the Shape Burlington Report on “Creating an Engaged Community” in Burlington.

“The position of the original Shape Burlington Committee in its presentation to City Council on May 3, 2010, was that the City implements all the recommendations of the report.   I am satisfied that the Staff report points Council and community in the right direction to begin to do exactly that.

“I am very pleased that City Staff has taken the report and its recommendations seriously, and thoughtfully, and has presented a thorough report to the Committee and Council.  I think that the Staff report has embraced, in large measure, the principles of the Shape Burlington report.  And, I believe the Staff recommendations to Council can establish a process for the City and community to move towards the transformational changes envisaged by Shape Burlington.”

The yellow brick road hasn’t reached Burlington yet.

The yellow brick road hasn’t reached Burlington yet.

When Mulkewich was Mayor of Burlington has wasn’t able to convince his council to move from the title Alderman to Councillor.; this at a time when feminism was close to its peak.  It would not be unrealistic to suggest that neither Mulkewich or Shape Burlington is going to move this council very far down the yellow brick road.

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Two major thrusts in the staff response to what Shape Burlington recommeneded more than a year ago.

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2011 –  We have provided you with the complete staff report that will go to the Budget and Corporate Services committee this week.  Comment on the report appears elsewhere on the Our Burlington web site.

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How do our planners handle applications for increased height and density from developers. Do they get the best deal for the community?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON ON, March 8, 2011  –  Have you ever had a Section 37?  Would you care for one?  I suppose it would help if you knew what a Section 37 is.

A Section 37 is a part of the Municipal Act that allows a municipality to give a developer greater density than that set out in the municipalities Official Plan in exchange for something that is a benefit to the community.  The next Section 37 trade off will probably be related to the Molinaro Group application for an increase in density for the project that want to build at the intersection of Brock and Elgin Streets in the western part of the downtown core.

Planners doing a little horse trading?

Planners doing a little horse trading?

It is common practice for the planning department in a municipality to do a little horse trading with a developer.  It can be fraught with potential conflicts and there have been abuses in some municipalities.

Ted Tyndorf, Chief Planner for the city of Toronto in 2006 talked about Section 37 at a Symposium on All About Planning.  Tyndorf said a Section 37 is NOT an incentive and he refers people to the wording in the Act.  “The Council may by by-laws, authorize increases in height and density otherwise permitted in return for such facility services or matters set out in the By-Laws”. Tyndorf focuses on the words ‘in return for’ and says the legislation contemplates an exchange in the context of good planning and under the conditions set out in the Official Plan.  Some call this “let’s make a deal” planning and then complain that the negotiators settled for too little.

Section 37 has been around since 1983.  A point Tyndorf makes is that the community benefit derived from the granting of additional height and density should be based on local community needs, intensification issues in the area, and the nature of the development. Application and strategic objectives and policies of the Official Plan.

Burlington is in the process of gearing up for an Official Plan review – there is a lot to look at and a lot of public educating to be done if there is going to be a plan that satisfies the tax payers.

Mayor Rick Goldring points out that if Burlington is to meet the Place to Grow requirements – and we don’t have a choice with this  – and if we are basically built out then the new housing units are going to be high rise units that will provide the intensification.  Right now that kind of growth seems to be taking place in the western end of Ward 2 and in the Aldershot community.

Residents are content with seven story buildings and they have yet to hear what they think is an adequate explanation for why the 14 and 22 story units are going up.

Goldring also wants to find a way to get beyond the intense community fights over each application for increased height and density applications. “Developers would much rather  build in Burlington but these noisy community meetings don’t make the city all that attractive for developers.”  Some in the city would say that is just fine with them – let the developers go somewhere else.  It’s not quite that simple.  Burlington is going to change – the trick is to get change that maintains the character and scale that everyone wants.

The planning consultant for the Molinaro Group explained to a community meeting that the provincial Places to Grow legislation called for Burlington to create 2000 new housing units in the next ten years and then went on to point out that the Molinaro project was in fact helping the city reach their objective –which one has to admit is a pretty slick piece of public relations work for a client.

Telling an unhappy crowd of resident that increasing the height and density of a project would help the city meet an objective is a stretch. One would like to think that the planning department would have come forward with recommendations to the city that zoning in that part of the city bound by the Lakeshore, Maple, Ontario and Brock be subject to height variance and then set out what the city wants in return.

Ward 2 Council member wants her citizens at the table when the city gives height and density increases to the developers.

Ward 2 Council member wants her citizens at the table when the city gives height and density increases to the developers.

Where Marianne Meed Ward has a problem with this activity is that “you are not at the table” she explains and goes on to add that planning departments have been notoriously bad at getting the best deal for the residents of a community.

The planners give away far too much says Meed Ward “and the community doesn’t get value for what it gives”.  And Meed Ward emphasizes – “the community is not at the table and they have no idea what the city is getting.”

The community knows what the developer is asking for – in this case a rise from 7 storeys to 14, which was a bit much for the more than 50 people who attended the community meeting were prepared to swallow.

It was a meeting at which voices were raised and the city planner on the file, Charles Mulay had to struggle to maintain some control over the meeting.

Meed Ward would have the community that is undergoing the changes at the table.  She told an audience at the required public meeting for a higher density application that she would like to see the community gather and have the developer and the planning people at that meeting where all three can talk openly about what could be ‘given for the get’ and then have a couple of people from the community actually sit in on the negotiations that take place between the city and the developer.

Those familiar with the way these things get done say that “that is never going to happen”.  But if there is a strong enough voice for a different approach this city council just might listen or perhaps be convinced to give it a try.

They are addressing the Shape Burlington recommendations and talking about an Engagement Charter and more public involvement – letting the citizens into the room would be an interesting exercise.

One last comment about the way citizens get involved in property decisions in their immediate neighbourhood and that is the 120 metre range that is used to determine who gets a notice from the city when an application is being made for height or density change.  Every meeting I have attended has people wondering why the range is so small.  Turns out that the requirement is set out in the Planning Act which says the minimum range is 120 metres – and that is all Burlington appears to do.  Nothing however stops the planners from sending the notices out to a larger range.  Seems to me that this is an opportunity for council members to better serve the interests of their constituents by having the Planning Department advise the council members when a notice is to be sent out and asking the council member to suggest what the range should be.

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Are we engaged? Is this the Shape of things to come? We should know in two years – that night when we all dance on the Pier.

 

Is this what staff means by an “engagement charter”?

Is this what staff means by an “engagement charter”?

By Pepper Parr

John Boich, one of the co-chairs of the Shape Burlington committee, was a very strong advocate of an Engagement Charter for the city of Burlington and while there wasn’t a very clear definition of just what an Engagement Charter was, there was no doubt in John’s mind what it meant – engage the people, John would almost shout, “involve them and tell them what the hell going on”.  That’s John Boich.  And the following is the document that will get taken to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee for discussion.

Working paper on ‘Burlington Engagement Charter’

Purpose

  1. Provide a framework for the City of Burlington to support planned and consistent approaches to public involvement.
  2. Inspire meaningful dialogue and informed participation about City of Burlington priorities and services.
  3. Enhance the City of Burlington’s commitment to inform citizens and respond to their ideas and contributions so that Burlington remains a great community in which to live, work and play.

Values

  • Clear communication
  • Transparency and trust
  • Inclusion and demographic diversity
  • Informed decision making
  • Continuous improvement

Key Principles

  1. Careful planning and preparation
    Engaging people around the issues that affect their lives is a key component of a strong democratic society.  Public involvement encourages action, personal responsibility, and has a positive impact on decision making.
  2. Shared purpose
    Support and encourage individuals, groups, government and others to work together to advance the common good.  There must be a reasonable balance between the city’s legislated professional responsibilities and meaningful public involvement.  The shared purpose is community building in Burlington.
  3. Openness
    Help all involved listen to each other, explore new ideas, learn.  Diverse groups of people discussing information from a variety of viewpoints can lead to better, more creative decisions.  Face to face and online dialogue provide ways for citizens, staff and council to share timely information and discuss ideas and options.2)

Public is a general and inclusive term that includes individuals, not-for-profit and corporate organizations, and institutions.

Involvement represents the range of ways that the public can expect to participate in decision making with the City of Burlington.

Burlington’s Continuum of Public Involvement

City of Burlington Inform Consult Involve/Collaborate Empower
Public Involvement Goal To provide information to assist the public in understanding the topic, options, opportunities,  solutions and/or decisions To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or recommendations To work directly with the public throughout the process including developing options and identifying the preferred direction To place final decision-making in the hands of the public
Promise We will keep you informedWe will provide timely and reliable information that is easy to find and understand We will keep you informed, listen  to and acknowledge input, and provide feedback about how public input influenced the outcome We will work with you to ensure your input is understood, reflected in the options developed and will look to you for advice.  We will include your input and advice into the outcome to the maximum extent possible. We will implement what you decide
Examples
  • www.burlington.ca
  • Fact sheet
  • Open house
  • City Talk
  • Education session
  • Advertising
  • Twitter
  • Survey
  • Electronic opinion gathering
  • Public meetingInterview
  • Focus group
  • Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee

 

  • Referendum question
  • Committee of Adjustment

 

More detailed information outlines “Use When” and “Don’t Use When” information.

Measuring and Monitoring Success

Section to be developed:  involve/collaborate

Reporting

Section to be developed:  involve/collaborate.

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IKEA to move from Aldershot to Walkers Line. Councillor Craven considering grief counseling.

By Pepper Parr

On the move.  Watch for the moving sale.
On the move. Watch for the moving sale.

BURLINGTON, ON March 4, 2011  –  It is going to be the sale of the century when Ikea prepares to move from its current location on Plains Road in Aldershot country to a new location on the North Service Road just west of Walker’s Line on a 25 acre parcel of land.

The hope is to have shovels in the ground in by the end of the year and hold the opening sometime in 2013.  Before the Pier opens?

Ikea has outgrown its current location and has submitted an application to the city along with plans that will see a new retail store, warehouse and the Canadian corporate heads office at the new site which is currently an empty field.

The new set up will be 70% bigger than the old one which hopefully means a larger cafeteria and less wait for great value meals.

On the upside from an economic perspective is the 437 jobs that will be retained plus 108 new jobs.  The move will preserve the corporate headquarters in Burlington and give IKEA great QEW visibility.  So don’t expect much in the way of opposition from either the planning department or council when the application to change the zoning and make a change to the Official Plan.

The Burlington location is one of five IKEA stores in Ontario and, according to Tourism Burlington, the store is the #1 tourist attraction in Halton.  I find that kind of hard to believe – but if you count shopping as a tourist attraction they might be right.

The new location is going to be massive: 428,500 square feet.  The development is estimated to come in at $60 million.

The existing IKEA store is in Ward 1 where Rick Craven rules the roost. He said: “It is with mixed feelings that I must advise you that IKEA has submitted a development application to the City which would result in the store’s relocation from Aldershot to a site in east Burlington, at 3455 North Service Road.   Been a tough period of time for Craven.  He wasn’t able to get the Tiger Cats into Aldershot and now he’s losing his biggest retail operation.  Craven assures the city that the IKEA location  is an excellent place to do business and he is hoping that the Burlington Economic Development Corporation(BEDC)  will find a rabbit in a hat somewhere and recruit a new store or office to the Aldershot site. 

The new location will not tie IKEA all that tightly to any one community which is unfortunate because they have been good corporate citizens and contributed significantly to the welfare of the Aldershot community.  Their moving will not be a shot in the arm to the Aldershot BIA.

What is now an empty field on North Service Road just west of Walkers Line is to be the new home for a $60 million 428,500 sq ft IKEA facility to open in 2013
What is now an empty field on North Service Road just west of Walkers Line is to be the new home for a $60 million 428,500 sq ft IKEA facility to open in 2013

IKEA hopes to have started construction by the end of this year and open the new facility in 2013.  Gosh – IKEA will be open and operational – think we can have the Pier open the same week.

The bureaucrats said their usual.  Mark Gregory Chair of the BEDC opined that “The expansion of IKEA at this Burlington site is vitally important to our city’s economy.  We urge City Council and staff to give serious consideration to their proposal and assure IKEA’s future in our community”.  Gregory went on to say” IKEA is one of Burlington’s top employers.  It has a major impact on our local economy.  In addition, their presence in the city anchors the civic efforts to promote the city as a competitive head-office location with attractive amenities including ‘big city’ retailers such as IKEA.”

Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the BEDC pointed out that IKEA creates the type of jobs that are “a great fit with the growth objectives contained in our economic development strategy.”  Benham is also thanking his lucky stars that IKEA didn’t look elsewhere for a new location.  They would have been a great catch for any number of communities along the 401 or the QEW.

Make a note on your calendar – sometime in 2013 – great sale at IKEA – but don’t wait till then to shop.

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Dressing up for the first formal, critical look at the playbill.

 The Burlington Performing Arts Centre will appear before a Council committee next week and detail their budget projections for the next fiscal year and explain their business plan for the next few years as well.

The BPAC, a project that is the pride of many in the city or one of those “nice to have but not necessary” for others, depending on which side of the cultural divide you have chosen to sit on,  is getting close to Opening Day.  The staffing compliment is growing as they get ready to market and promote programs for the fall season and at the same time keep public anticipation as high as possible.

This is the look the Performing Arts Centre wants to take to the community in its branding, advertising and promotional material.
This is the look the Performing Arts Centre wants to take to the community in its branding, advertising and promotional material.

As part of the pre-launch process the centre released a new “brand” that will be used in all its marketing initiatives.  Graphics are thing you either like or don’t like – here is what the Centre is going forward with.

Past chair Keith Strong has explained that the Centre is going to go for what he calls a “soft opening’ which will have the community able to tour the building and get a sense of what has been built and showcase the opportunities and the potential.

Almost a little too much resemblance between the Mental Health Association logo and that chosen by the Performing Arts Centre.  Is there a hidden intention here?
Almost a little too much resemblance between the Mental Health Association logo and that chosen by the Performing Arts Centre. Is there a hidden intention here?

The decision was made not to open with a loud, expensive boffo event but to let the community warm up to the space with events that are low key and not all that expensive.

The 12 member Board for the Centre (with the Mayor as an Ex officio member) is in place and is made up of:

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Chairman Allan Pearson

Allan was born in Hamilton and has lived in Burlington for most of his life, having grown up in the downtown core. He has been in the automobile business since 1976 and is President of Discovery Ford Sales in Burlington.

Allan has served on the Ford of Canada Roundtable, is a former Board member and past Chair of the Board at Wellington Square United Church and currently sits on the Board of Trustees. Allan is a past Board member and Board Chair of the Burlington Community Foundation.  He is current Vice-Chair of the Canadian Ford Dealer Pension Board of Trustees, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Carpenter Hospice.  Allan has completed the DeGroote School of Business/United Way not-for-profit governance workshop.

Vice Chair Rick Burgess

Rick is a business lawyer based in downtown Burlington. He is an Instructor-Business and Labour Law, Niagara and Sheridan Colleges; Mediator & Group Facilitator; Instructor-Negotiation / Mediation / Dispute Resolution.  From 1980 to 1989 Rick was a business lawyer in Toronto. He has been a member of Ontario & California bar associations since 1980. 

Rick’s community involvement includes:

  • Past Chair, Burlington Community Foundation Board (2009-2010)
  • Past Vice-Chair and Member, Halton Regional Police Services Board (2005-2010)
  • Past Chair, Burlington Chamber of Commerce
  • Past President, Creative Burlington (2008-2009)
  • Past President, Burlington Art Centre (2002-2004)
  • Burlington Art Centre Foundation Board (2004-2005)

Rick has lived in Burlington since 1992 with his wife, Brenda Bowlby, who is also a lawyer, and their daughter Lindsay, who attends university.

Keith Strong

Keith has resided in Burlington for the last 42 years.  He moved to Burlington as an employee of Windsor Salt which later resulted in being employed by Metasurf Canada.  In 1970 Keith purchased a small mobile wash in Hamilton and has been self employed from that time.  In 1985 Keith designed and built the first totally enclosed hazardous waste transfer site and instituted the first permanent household hazardous waste location in Ontario.  In the late 80’s Keith sold his business to Laidlaw.  Over the last 15 years Keith has helped small business to grow and expand.  The remaining of his time has been spent giving back to the Burlington community.  Keith has a daughter Terra and a son Scott both married, living in Oakville raising their families.

Philippe Pango

Dr. Philippe Pango’s inventions and technologies have been successfully implemented in millions of wireless Bluetooth headsets, hearing-aids and ground penetrating radars throughout the world.  A long time resident of Burlington, Dr. Pango’s career started as a Senior Design Engineer for Gennum Corporation, where he was instrumental in the company’s transition to digital hearing aid technology.  In 2006 he launched his first start up, CAYCe, in partnership with McMaster University.   Dr. Pango is currently the Chief Technology Officer of Vitasound Audio Inc., where he oversees the research and development of advanced audio processing technologies, including hearing aids and hearing protection devices.  An avid musician, Dr. Pango understands the importance of arts in a perfectly balanced life, and its positive impact on a community.  He plays electric and acoustic guitar, five-string bass, piano, organ, djembé percussion, sings in a choir that promotes the African culture throughout the Halton region, has authored two novels, and claims to be unbeatable at tennis.

Mary-Ellen Heiman

Mary-Ellen’s professional background includes skills in building strong relationship amongst volunteers, staff, major donors and business partners.  She has held positions in the direction of the performing arts sector as Chair of the Board, and board member, for the St. Lawrence Performing Arts Centre in Toronto, with direct reporting to the City of Toronto.  She has also been a consultant to various music, drama and heritage organizations.  Mary-Ellen has also worked in the visual arts sector as Executive Director of a public non-profit art gallery.  Through these roles she has distinguished herself as a strategic planner and partnership builder with strong Board of Joseph Brant Hospital.

Presently, Mary-Ellen is the Director of Development and funding for the Canadian Centre of Emergency Preparedness.  In her previous consulting career, she was a consultant in needs analysis, strategic planning, promotional enhancement, program design and board development.  Mary-Ellen’s skills include partnership building, workflow analysis, communication methodology and organizational change, with direct experience in marketing, governance, sponsorship and grant funding, financial and event management.  Mary-Ellen has completed the DeGroote School of Business/United Way not-for-profit governance workshop.

Dominic Mercuri

Dominic is a leader in financial services marketing and is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for TD Bank Financial Group.  In this capacity Dominic leads a global marketing team and is responsible for the bank’s overall market positioning, and oversees the development and execution of TD’s global marketing and brand strategy. Dominic, his wife Carol, and their children Jennifer and Frank have lived in Burlington since 1995.  He is also a member of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation Board.

Ed Hannah

Ed Hannah was born in Collingwood, raised in Hamilton and has lived for the past 18 years in Burlington.  Ed is a graduate of Yale University (B.A.); York University (M.B.A.); Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B.); and Harvard Law School (LL. M.).

Ed has spent 22 years of his 27-year professional career as a lawyer at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, LLP (Toronto) where he currently practices law, specializing in Corporate/Commercial Law, Mergers and Acquisitions, Structured Finance and Corporate Governance.

Ed has also been a Senior Vice-President of Score Media Inc., a Toronto Stock Exchange-listed public company, and Executive Vice-President, Corporate Development and General Counsel for Magna Entertainment Corp. and its parent corporation, MI Developments Inc., both public companies cross-listed on U.S. and Canadian stock exchanges.  Ed has served on several public company and charitable boards of directors.

Ilene Elkaim

Ilene Elkaim, a Burlington resident since 1994, recognized for a distinguished career in Logistics and Information Systems for Retail Administration and Operations, founded Six Dynamix in 2005. Six Dynamix partners with small to mid-sized retail or wholesale organizations enabling them to improve efficiencies in their business processes. She has developed an effective process of working collaboratively with their clients to optimize administration and operations during all economic times, including software selection and implementation.

Ilene is also an active thespian within the Hamilton/Halton area since 1996.  Her involvement includes acting, back stage activities as well as having been an active participant on various Boards, including The Aldershot Players and Performing Arts Burlington (now known as Creative Burlington).

Ilene looks forward to joining forces with her fellow board members and management to make constructive, progressive contributions for the Burlington Theatre Board Inc.

Mayor Rick Goldring (Ex-officio)

On December 1, 2010 Rick Goldring was sworn into office as the City of Burlington’s 28th Mayor, after serving four years as Ward 5 City & Regional Councillor. A lifelong Burlington resident, Rick went to Nelson High School and earned his BA (Economics) from McMaster. He lives here with his wife, Cheryl, and they have a combined total of seven daughters.

Having been in business locally for 30 years, most recently as a senior financial advisor with Assante Financial Management Ltd., Rick has always been actively involved in community affairs. In addition to co-hosting Taking Care of Your Future on TV Cogeco, Rick is a member and past president of the Hamilton Chapter of Advocis – Canada’s largest association of financial advisors. Rick is a Rotarian, and has also been on the Board of the Ron Edwards (Burlington) Family YMCA and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.   As City and Regional Councillor for Ward 5 in Burlington, he chaired both the Budget and Strategic Planning and the Community Services Committees.

Rick is passionate about his community and plans to address major concerns during his term including sustainable development, environmental issues and fiscal responsibility.

Peter Ashmore

Peter Ashmore has lived in Burlington for over 20 years with his wife Marla and their  two children both who are now attending university. He is a principal in MLA Enterprises Inc. an investment holding company. Peter is a member of the Burlington Theatre Board and Chair of its Finance Committee. He has been involved with the Fundraising Campaign Cabinet for The Burlington Performing Arts Centre and the Performing Arts Centre Board Development Task Force. Peter is currently President of the HoliMont Ski Club: a 1400 member not for profit club located in Ellicottville, New York. He has served on the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation Board where he held the position of Treasurer. He was also active in the development of the Triathlon Club of Burlington were he remains as director.

Denise Walker

Denise Walker has been an entrepreneur for the past twenty-five years. She started High-Q Computer Education where she taught various software applications to small businesses. Her business has evolved into doing contract work, which includes event planning, client appreciation, business data analysis and marketing support.  She is currently working at Lakeshore Clinic and CIBC Wood Gundy in Burlington.  Denise started as a member of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Fundraising Campaign Cabinet for more than 5 years, and is now a member of the Burlington Theatre Board Inc. Denise is also currently the Fundraising Chair.

Denise is passionate about the project and is currently working on completing the 11 million dollar Capital Campaign.  

Denise is a Wilfrid Laurier Graduate with a degree in Economics.

She was born in Montreal, but has been a Burlington resident for 41 years.  Denise and her husband Kevin have three children; one doing postgraduate studies and two in university.  Denise has completed the DeGroote School of Business/United Way not-for-profit governance workshop.

Steve Zorbas

Steve Zorbas is currently Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure for the City of Burlington, Ontario, Canada.  At the City of Burlington he has also held the positions of Acting Director of the Parks and Recreation Department and Executive Director of the Finance Department. He has over 27 years financial experience within local government, which have included the Town of Richmond Hill and the City of Mississauga. Prior to entering local government he also worked in the private sector in various financial positions in both the retail and manufacturing environments.

His academic accomplishments include holding a Bachelor of Commerce degree, diploma in public administration as well as being a professional accountant, Certified Management Accountant (CMA).  He currently is a board member (MPAC) at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and also Chair of the MPAC Audit Committee.

He has served as Chair/Past-Chair/Vice-Chair as well as board member for the Municipal Finance Officer’s Association of Ontario (MFOA).  In addition he has been a board member on the Government Finance Officer’s Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) subcommittee, Committee of Canadian Issues (CCI) as well as serving as a budget review officer and budget program advisor as part of GFOA’s distinguished budget award program.

Councillor Rick Craven

Rick Craven is a four term member of both Burlington City and Halton Regional Councils. He is a recipient of the Lyn Benson Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the Community of Aldershot and the Halton Award of Excellence for promoting a safe and Healthy Community.

Councillor Craven currently serves on Halton’s Health and Social Services Committee, Halton Police Services Board and is President of the Halton Community Housing Corporation.[/box]

The Performing Arts Centre is getting to the point where it will soon actually look like the architects rendering we have seen for so many years.  Delightful.
The Performing Arts Centre is getting to the point where it will soon actually look like the architects rendering we have seen for so many years. Delightful.

These are the people you want to button hole and share your views on the Centre and its programming.  Most are volunteers and have gotten the Centre to the point where it will soon open and in the process have raised just under $11 million in public funding.  The Centre is owned by the city and run by the arms length Burlington Performing Arts Centre with the city picking up any deficits while the centre gets itself on its feet.

The creation of an audience and the development of a program that meets the interest of the community is part marketing science with a lot of creativity and sensitivity to the community added.  Executive Director Brenda Heatherington came to Burlington from St. Albert, a community just north of Edmonton. Alberta where she was hugely successful developing local theatre.

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City recognizes the contribution made by co-chair of the Shape Burlington report.

By Pepper Parr

It was an emotional event. City Council decided to recognize the community contribution made by John Boich, co-chair of the Shape Burlington report.

Boich’s  1956 Shredded Wheat football card.

Boich’s 1956 Shredded Wheat football card.

John Boich, who spent most of his career in the field of education after a couple of years playing football for the Ottawa Rough Riders, also happens to have a football card that was sold recently on eBay.  John was immensely amused by that sale.

He covered a lot of ground in a life that has been filled with activity and citizen engagement.  The issue with perhaps the highest profile is of course the Shape Burlington report,  produced by a committee that was co-chaired by John and former Burlington mayor Walter Mulkewich.  That report is still reverberating around city hall where, later this month, staff will produce their response to the document that has the potential to re-shape the way citizens interact with their elected officials and the staff hired to look after the city on their behalf.

Boich at a political event – doing what he does so very well.
Boich at a political event –
doing what he does so very well.

John has always been an intervener.  On the football field, within educational organizations, at the community level and in his relationships with those who were not as fortunate as he has been, John has been generous.

He is a large man and a large personality and there is never any doubt that he is in the room.  His involvement with local politics is close to legendary and if there was a shift in the thinking of a political party John had no problem moving his political allegiance.

But he never shifted away from the interests of the community and this evening the city he loves and cherishes met in a formal city council session and recognized the contribution he has made to the city of Burlington.

John is not well.  He has pancreatic cancer and faces this extremely difficult stage in life with the courage and determination he has faced most of his challenges.

His indomitable spirit got him to City Hall where he sat in a front row with Arlene, his wife of 30 years and received from the Mayor on behalf of the City, a Medal of Merit. Long, sustained applause that no one wanted to hear end followed the prtesentation.  The Council chamber had almost as many people in it as there were at the Inaugural session.  After the presentation of the certificate every member of Council came forward to congratulate John Boich and wish him their very best.

The only ones not in attendance were John’s  three Shiatsu  dogs, Buster, Molly and Winston. The event was televised live on Cogeco Cable.  Arlene Miller said a few words about the many, many meetings that took place in her dining room and she closed with the comment that rang true for every one in the chamber:  “John was doing what he loved”.

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Remember thalidomide? Pregnant women thought it was great. We think cell phones are great too. Is there a problem or is it a ‘no brainer’?

By Pepper Parr with content from CNET

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities as a consequence of thalidomide use.  Thalidomide was sold in a number of countries 1957 until 1961 when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be a cause of birth defects in what has been called “one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times”. 

Medical science has done a lot for us.. Penicillin, the polio vaccine, heart transplants – the list is endless but mistakes get made and we do need to be mindful and pay attention to the technology.  Ask questions now because in the past we rushed to get a new medicine and new products to market.  Have we done that with cell phones?

Thalidomide was introduced as a sedative drug and was found to act as an effective tranquilizer and painkiller and was proclaimed a “wonder drug” for insomnia, coughs, colds and headaches. It was also found to be an effective inhibitor on morning sickness, and so thousands of pregnant women took the drug to relieve their symptoms. 

In the United Kingdom the drug was licensed in 1958 and, of the approximately 2000 babies born with defects, 466 survived. The drug was withdrawn in 1961 and in 1968, after a long campaign by The Sunday Times newspaper, a compensation settlement for the UK victims was reached with Distillers Company Limited. 

1962: FDA inspector Frances Oldham Kelsey receives an award from President John F. Kennedy for blocking sale of thalidomide in the United States.
1962: FDA inspector Frances Oldham Kelsey receives an award from President John F. Kennedy for blocking sale of thalidomide in the United States.

The impact in the United States was minimized when pharmacologist and M.D. Frances Oldham Kelsey refused Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.  Canada was the last country to stop the sales of the drug, in early 1962.

We tell you all this because there “might”, and that might needs to be stressed,  be a link between that terrible thalidomide experience and the ubiquitous use of cell phones.  This is not meant to be alarmist – but questions can and should be asked.

Research ‘suggests’ that cell phone use “excites” the brain.

We picked up the following from Kent German writing for CNET; lhttps://www.cnet.com/

Here are his comments and observations:

[box type=info]If you cover the wireless industry, you’re never far from the ongoing debate over whether cell phones are harmful. And the debate usually goes something like this: the scientific community produces a study that explores the issue, and then the wireless industry rushes to interpret that study to its advantage.

Cell phones are ubiquitous – most people use them and in some countries that’s all there is.
Cell phones are ubiquitous – most people use them and in some countries that’s all there is.

Such was the case with a report published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that in healthy volunteer participants, cell phone exposure was associated with increased metabolism of glucose in the region of the brain closest to the antenna. So as CNET blogger Lance Whitney put it, the study suggested that cell phone use “excites” the brain.

Whether that increased brain activity is harmful, however, remains to be seen. The study’s authors also concluded that their findings were of “unknown clinical significance” and that more research is needed. And, not surprisingly, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the wireless industry’s lobbying arm in Washington, D.C., highlighted the former point in a statement.

“The authors acknowledge that the results provide no information as to potential health effects of cell phones,” the statement said. “As with any study, scientific organizations will review the results of this one in the context of the significant body of research and published literature on cell phone safety that has already been amassed.”

What’s really important
So, as I said, the scientific community reports a study and the wireless industry takes the study and highlights the points that it likes the best. Yes, that’s much how the debate between science and industry has largely progressed throughout history, but it bothers me that in the process, consumers get only the information that organizations like the CTIA want them to hear.

Is that data correct – if it is we certainly want to know more and have someone study this and not take the word of the telephone industry.
Is that data correct – if it is we certainly want to know more and have someone study this and not take the word of the telephone industry.

Absolutely, CTIA is correct to highlight that the study makes no conclusions as to whether cell phones are harmful. Yet, dwelling on that point misses the most significant aspect of the study, which is that cell phone use can affect how your brain functions, even temporarily. Proving that point alone–and I realize that this one study doesn’t “prove” anything, but it does demonstrate it–has been the focus of much of the previous research over whether cell phones were potentially harmful. Lots of other things also affect the brain–food, sex, alcohol, drugs, to name a few–but not everything pumps out electromagnetic radiation next to your brain.

Dr. Devra Davis–an epidemiologist, environmental health researcher, and founder of Environmental Health Trust–characterizes the finding as stunning. “This demonstrates that cell phone use affects brain activity,” she told CNET. “The study used real people and was as close as you can get to a biopsy on a living brain.”

Davis, who authored the 2010 book “Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide it and How to Protect Your Family,” also cautioned against making firm conclusions from the study, but she takes a forceful role in advocating for more research. “The notion that we have enough information is completely wrong,” she said.

More research
As other, and usually inconclusive, studies continue to be published, I would be skeptical of anyone arguing that the case should be closed. Even the CTIA has argued for more research, and a spokeswoman confirmed that point with me today. Yet, I see a gap between the industry group’s actions and its vow to take the issues seriously.

For example, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law last year requiring cell phone manufacturers to display the specific absorption rate (SAR) for each handset sold, the CTIA effectively stopped playing, took its ball, and went home. Not only did it blast San Francisco in a statement, but it also decided to move its autumn trade show to San Diego to punish the city.

Some standards
I’m not a staunch defender of San Francisco’s law–indeed, there’s plenty about my city’s government that makes me roll my eyes–but the CTIA’s reaction suggested that the “are they harmful/not harmful?” debate wasn’t worth its time. Yes, there’s no proof that a lower-radiation cell phone is safer. And, yes, information about a phone’s specific absorption rate (SAR) is widely available. Yet, as long as San Francisco is not making scientific claims about cell phone use, I don’t see the problem in giving consumers information and making it available when they buy the phone.

The CTIA mainly argued that San Francisco didn’t have the authority for such legislation. That’s possible, but as with most things, it’s never about what it’s about. As it has done in response to almost every study (including the one above) the industry also fell back on the notion that all cell phones sold in the United States are safe because they conform to FCC standards for safety (a SAR of 1.6 watts per kilogram or lower is legally considered “safe”). This is unfortunate. What most consumers don’t know is that the FCC’s standards were developed in 1993 using a model of a human who was 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had an 11-pound head. That’s hardly a fair representation of the average adult, let alone a child (remember, also, that kids have thinner skulls and their brains are still developing). What’s more, the digital phones we use today weren’t around 18 years ago. So maybe I’m a pessimist, but perhaps we should take a look at developing new standards.

Is this what our heads look like?  Is that a good thing?  Can we know that  - please.
Is this what our heads look like? Is that a good thing? Can we know that – please.

I’m not a scientist, so I’m not about to interpret the findings of this or any study. But if cell phone use can really affect brain activity, then we are nowhere near laying this argument to rest. Though much of my job is devoted to helping CNET readers find the best phone, neither CNET nor I has any interest in putting our heads in the sand and guaranteeing you that cell phones are safe. To do so would be irresponsible.

Until we can determine if cell phone use can adversely affect your health through DNA mutation–and frankly, we may not be able to determine that for many years, if we ever can at all–the industry needs to take the issue seriously. Blowing off concerned parties, alarmist as they may be, doesn’t help the situation. Nor does it help to continually point to government reports and convenient studies that find that nothing is wrong.

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The same thing happened with the thalidomide debate – but the terrible results could not be ignored.  Not to be alarmist – but could someone spend some time and money on this issue – it is not exactly a “no-brainer”.

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Your taxes are likely to be lower-how much? Could be zero, but not more than 2.5%

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 22, 2011  –  It is going to be a very different budget process for Burlington this time out.   Several things have happened to bring about this change.  First of course there is a new council which has a number of people very comfortable with numbers – something that makes staff kind of uncomfortable. 

Then there is a whole new level of data available to the Council members. These are the  result of a Staff Direction Council members Taylor and Dennison put forward in the previous administration.  “It has been some time in coming” commented Dennison. “It means we can now look at specific programs and determine if we are getting value for money spent and if the public is making the kind of use of a program to make it worth while.”

The Kilbride community centre is an example of a facility that has a very low usage rate – should it be kept or de-commissioned?   With the data council can now make decisions based on facts and not community emotions.

Every member who made a comment was very positive about the new level of data staff had presented and Rick Craven (Ward 1) spoke on behalf of John Taylor who was away, saying “John would be absolutely giddy over this kind of data”.

Dennison, who along with Taylor had been asking for this kind of data for years and with Sharman’s huge command of accounting, especially cost accounting, this Council looks as if it is going to be able to make decisions that are based on facts.  How delightful.

Staff has come up with numbers and proposals that meet the  proposed 2.5% tax increase for year 1 and Dennison said that while he likes the number, he “isn’t exactly thrilled with it”.  Paul Sharman (Ward 5) – sometimes known as Mr. 0 – which is the budget number he wants, didn’t make any comment.

Kilbride Community centre – could become storage space.
Kilbride Community centre – could become storage space.

The Mayor seems happy with 2.5% .  Other council members made no comment on the level of increase – suggesting that this Council would not be uncomfortable with an increase of 2.5% when it became obvious that there is a significant surplus from last year that could be applied to 2011 spending.  And there are some very significant savings possible as well.  Sharman let is be known that he wants to see that 2010 surplus – which he felt got created as part of a mugs game staff plays with their HR budgets, made available for inclusion in the 2011 budget and thereby reducing what the taxpayer has to put up.

 It was not an easy session for several staff members.  They’ve not had to answer focused questions from someone who knows the inside, outside and everything in between in a financial statement.  When Sharman asked the staff member who had prepared much of the data what the “volume variable denominators” were, there was a long pause before Chris Glen, ‘chief lifeguard’ who runs the Parks and Recreation department jumped in and muttered a number of words which then brought City Manager Roman Martiuk – no stranger to numbers and the verbiage that goes with them – into the ring and he sort of danced around the phrase pointing out that municipalities were not for profit organizations and didn’t do normal commercial accounting.  But, the question asked – never did get answered – what were the volume variable denominators?  Based on the looks on the faces of the other council member’s faces – it didn’t look as if they had a clue.

What Sharman is saying to staff` is that he knows numbers as well, if not better than they do, and they had better not try playing a numbers game with him.

Struggle for control of the process. Sharman asks for detail, Lancaster wants to let them manage.
Struggle for control of the process. Sharman asks for detail, Lancaster wants to let them manage.

What it all appears to be coming down to is that struggle between Council and staff as to who is going to make the decisions.  Sharman, who did much of the talking and certainly pummeled staff on a number of occasions, wants the data Council needs to make decisions.  Whereas Blair Lancaster, (Ward 6) thinks staff should be left to manage.  Sharman seems to be saying staff isn’t managing all that well and Dennison went along with him with several trenchant remarks directed at Roman Martiuk.

Staff appears to want to hold very significant reserves and also have what is called “staff gapping” savings sort of tucked away.  This is a neat one.  When a hire is made, staff budgets for that person as if they were on staff for the full year.  If a person comes in half way through the fiscal year, staff have half a year salary that goes into the surplus.

The City Manager, perhaps rightfully so, is quite risk adverse.  He doesn’t want to get caught short so he ensures that there are reserves all over the place that can be fallen back on.  Those reserves get created out of surpluses from any one year.

Because the budget is usually decided upon by early April and the books for the city don’t close until early March – Council really has no idea how much of a surplus could be carried forward.  And thus they don’t have access to those funds as part of their planning for the year we are going into. 

The question as to the reliability of the data the Council now has, as well as the assumptions under which it was gathered, concerned Sharman and City Manager Martiuk allowed that this was a learning experience for staff.

Discovery Landing: This may prove to be a very “hard” landing
Discovery Landing: This may prove to be a very “hard” landing

What the data tells is things like the city recovers an average of 68% 0f the cost of running an arena – but they recover 75% if there are twin ice pads and just 60% if there is just one ice pad.  Pretty simple to figure that one out – two is cheaper than one.  However, if the demand is not sufficient for two pads – then why undertake the capital cost of building two pads?  All mundane and boring but essential if your taxes are to be kept at a level you can live with.

If the Kilbride Community Centre is de-commissioned because it isn’t being effectively used – one would want to go back and ask:  Why did we build the thing in the first place?

We have a brand new fire Station ready to open on Ironside (Appleby and Upper Middle Road) but we may not have the money to pay for the 40 firefighters needed to man the place.  Why did we build it?  Federal Stimulus Funds were available.

Discovery Landing is getting a closer look.  Marianne Meed Ward asked if the location was ever intended to break even – it certainly isn’t doing that today.  They recover 57% of their costs. The location is going to show a loss of %1.32 million.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre was budgeted to get $480,700., an understandable number given that they will not have any revenue other than what they might bring in the last two months of the year.   The Centre, said to be on time and on budget, is scheduled to open in the fall.  All will be revealed about the budget and the business plan for the BPAC at a meeting early in March.  But there was then a request for an additional $262,800 – more than half again of the original requirement.  The cost of a web site is included in this supplementary one time request.  One would have thought a web site would have been included in the original budget.

That’s the world of municipal finance – surprises!

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United Way sets new record-Two million plus Chairman gets ‘touched’ for the last $54.00

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17th, 2011.  –  They made it and in the process set a new record for the Burlington United Way campaign.  The team wanted a nice round figure and so senior staff leaned a little on the Campaign Fund Raising Chair, Karmel Sakran, and got him to write a cheque for $54.00 which took the original total of $2,199,946.00 and put it over the $2,200,000. level. Nice bit above the 2010 total of $2,150,000.

Tim Brown, left and Len Lifchus, both of the United Way,  lean just a little on Fund Raising Campaign Chair Karmel Sakran, center, to write a cheque for the amount to got the total to $2,200,00 - a record for Burlington.
Tim Brown, left and Len Lifchus, both of the United Way, lean just a little on Fund Raising Campaign Chair Karmel Sakran, center, to write a cheque for the amount to got the total to $2,200,00 – a record for Burlington.

Now the task of distributing the funds to the 37 different programs in Burlington that are supported by the United Way begins  Len Lifchus, CEO of the joint Burlington and Greater Hamilton United Way, points out when he talks of the work the United Way does he realizes there are some serious myths about social issues in Burlington.

“People don’t think there is any poverty here – there is.  People don’t think we have significant youth issues in Burlington – we have them.  And people don’t appreciate how desperate some of the seniors in this community are.  These are real problems and the money raised by the United Way goes a long way to helping community groups deliver a service to these people who need help”, stated Lifchus.

The task for the United Way now is to begin allocating what was raised – and that is not as simple as just writing cheques.  Eighty four cents of every dollar raised get sent to the community.  Seven cents is used to cover the cost of administration and nine cents used to cover fund raising expenses.  As fund raising organizations go – that’s a pretty decent balance.

That 84 cents left amount to $1,848,000.00 –  which will be divvied up and sent out late in March.  All the organizations seeking funds have had their applications in since the end of  November.

All the funding applications are reviewed by a volunteer committee that has several levels.  “These applications” explained Tim Brown, Senior Director, Resource Development, “get put through several levels of review.  What we watch for is the measurable outcomes that the community will see with the funds we provide.”

Volunteers are the life blood of organizations like the United Way.  While there are 16 people on staff there are 554 volunteers who do things like review funding applications and make those hard choices as to who gets what.  The final decision is made at the full Board level but it is the volunteers who do the grunt work and propose a schedule for the Board to approve.

“There is never enough money” cautions Lifchus.  We do the best we can with what we raise and then develop the community so that more can be raised.  The per capita amount raised in Burlington is $12.25 cents while in Toronto it is $56.00 but Toronto isn’t a good example to compare with – they have all those large corporations, adds Lifchus.  “But adds Brown, “London is quite comparable to Burlington and their per capita is twice that of Burlington – so we have some work to do.”

The area that needs the most development is the corporate side.  There are hundreds of companies in Burlington that don’t have an employee contribution program.  We need to reach those companies and explain what the United Way does and how it makes a difference to the company, their work force and the community they work within.

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Foundation now manages $10.7 million; provides grants to 53 local organizations

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 20th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How many association annual reports have you read? I mean read completely?

Pretty boring – but the things have to get put together voted on and filed.

The Burlington Foundation, which you once knew as the Burlington Community Foundation – quite why they took the word community out of their corporate name is beyond us – everything they do is community based.

The new name has an attractive corporate logo – what is really interesting is the way they set out the data points on what they have done in their annual report.

Imaginative, very visual and you know in an instant what they have done.

The work of the Foundation is broken out as funds they manage and funds they pass along to the community.
There are families in the community that have donated large sums that they want to see invested and the proceeds of the investments distributed to community groups.  There are now a total of 79 funds.  Most of the people who create an endowment do so in the name of a family member.

The funds are professionally managed and overseen by a Foundation Board committee.

Funds they manage.

 

What they do with the funds they raise.

Using the fundsA new endowment fund was created that will focus on Mental Wellness.  It was started with a $100,000 opening gift from  Dan Noonan of Argosy Securities.

Vital Signs is the wide-ranging and in-depth report on the  community and the challenges it faces now, and in the years ahead.

It is an important reference tool that focuses on the most critical areas that define the community. Built upon independent research, it is  used by people, agencies and corporations to understand areas of opportunity across our city.

The comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research that goes into ongoing Vital Signs research plays a key role in enabling the Foundation to focus on granting programs that meet some of the areas of need that were uncovered.

 

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Premier backtracks very quickly on fund raising practices - she wants to get in front of the parade and not get trampled by a herd of protest.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 12, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

The Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne released the following statement earlier today.

I have just had a meeting with the Leader of the Green Party of Ontario to discuss election financing reform. I want to thank Mr. Schreiner for a very positive meeting to discuss these much-needed changes. He provided input, advice and feedback on the areas for reform and on the questions I asked of him — the same questions I asked the Leaders of the Official Opposition and NDP yesterday. There was much agreement between me and Mr. Schreiner on the areas for reform.

Wynne RibFest-Rotary-guy-+-Premier-595x1024

GypTech president of Gary xxxx escorts Premier Wynne during a RibFest in Burlington.

Mr. Schreiner made some specific requests that I would like to respond to directly. He said he wants to make sure the legislative committee process to consider election financial reform is open, has time to hear from witnesses across the province on the draft legislation, and allows for a full consideration of the draft legislation after both First and Second Reading.

As I said yesterday, I intend to bring forward legislation in May before the Legislature rises on June 9. With the agreement of the Legislature, we would send that legislation to Standing Committee sooner than usual, after First Reading to allow for a first opportunity to make amendments based on public input, before Second Reading. In addition, further legislative committee hearings after Second Reading will allow for another round of input and amendments.

This would allow for consultation immediately, while the Legislature is still sitting, and for further consultation during the summer, across Ontario, in agreed-upon locations. The first government witness invited to appear before the legislative committee hearings would be Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer. In the meantime, as the legislation is being drafted, we will consult regularly with the Chief Electoral Officer.

The second government witness invited to appear before the legislative committee hearings would be Mr. Schreiner.

wynne-at heritage dinner

Was it the smile that drew these two together? Does he have influence?

In an open letter prior to today’s meeting, Mr. Schreiner asked that “big money” be taken out of politics, and asked the government to bring in comprehensive reforms that include eliminating corporate and union donations prior to the next Ontario general election. The legislation we will introduce this spring will propose a ban on corporate and union donations and I am committed that changes be in place or significantly underway before the June 2018 election.

He has also asked that the government end the practice of “selling access to Ministers of the Crown.” As I said yesterday, political donations do not buy policy decisions. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false. As Premier, I’ve always been clear that decisions made by me and my Cabinet are always made with the best interests of Ontarians in mind.

Ministers need to fundraise, just as all MPPs do, to support their work during campaigns.  Ministers can do small group high-value fundraisers with two stipulations:

1. The event is publicly disclosed before it occurs.

2. The Minister is not meeting/fundraising with stakeholders of his/her ministry.

I have made the decision to immediately cancel upcoming private fundraisers that I or Ministers attend.

Future Liberal fundraisers will be made public on the OLP website.

Wynne Kathleen - looking guilty gas plant hearing

Premier Wynne can be very convincing.

To recap, our government has already undertaken a number of initiatives to make election financing more transparent. In 2007, we introduced third-party advertising rules and real-time disclosure for political donations. Last June, I announced that we would make further changes to the Elections Act. And, as I announced last week, our government plans to introduce legislation on political donations this spring, including measures to transition away from union and corporate donations.
The legislation we will bring forward this spring will include the following:

First — reform of third-party advertising rules, including definitions, anti-collusion measures and penalties. Maximum spending limits on third-party advertising will be severely constrained for election periods and constraints considered for pre-election periods.
Second — a ban on corporate and union donations.

Third — reduction of maximum allowable donations to a figure that is in the range of what is permitted federally for each Party; to all associations, nomination contestants and candidates, as well as leadership campaigns.

Fourth — constraints on loans/loan guarantees to parties and candidates, including leadership candidates

Fifth — reform of by-election donation rules.

Sixth — overall reduction in spending limits by central parties in election periods and introduction of limits between elections.

And seventh — introduction of leadership and nomination campaign spending limits and donation rules.

To reach critical decision points associated with these issues. I have asked the following questions of all three party Leaders.

Ribfest-Prsemier-with-ribs-and-helper1-1024x1007

Premier Wynne has been to Burlington on a number of occasions. She learned how to flip a rack of ribs pretty quickly at RibFest. She also personally recruited current MPP Eleanor McMahon to run as the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election.

• On the issue of third-party advertising, we are proposing a much lower spending limit. What should that limit be? What should the constraints on third-party advertising be between elections? Should there also be an individual contribution limit for those advertising campaigns?

• We are proposing a ban on corporate and union donations, which would begin on January 1, 2017. Should there be a transitional subsidy based on vote counts from the previous election? If so, how long should the transition period be in order to allow all parties to adjust?

• We are proposing a lower limit on donations. Should that limit be phased in over time?

• We are proposing that, during by-elections, that there be no special doubling of donations to the central party. By-election campaigns should be restricted to raising funds only to the allowable limit, both locally and centrally. What are the other Leaders’ thoughts on how we should manage any by-elections that occur before the legislation is in effect?

• We are proposing overall spending limit reductions in the writ period and setting limits between elections. We would like the Leaders’ input on this.

• We are proposing setting spending limits for leadership and nomination campaigns. What should these spending and donation limits be?
The government also intends to bring forward separate legislation this fall to amend the Elections Act, including proposals to:
• Change the fixed election date for the next general election to the spring of 2018

• Allow provisional registration of 16- and 17 year-olds

• Establish a single address authority in Ontario

• Eliminate the first blackout period for all elections, and

• Integrate, simplify and modernize a range of election processes as per the advice of the Chief Electoral Officer.

It is clear that there are flaws in the current legislation, which all parties have been operating under. The reality is that Ontario’s election financing system has not kept up with changes made federally and in some other provinces. The current system also does not meet today’s public expectations. I am determined to make changes that are right for Ontario. And I believe it is important that we now move expeditiously to make these changes.

It is important to get this right. I look forward to hearing further from all three Leaders as they consider the answers to the questions I have asked them, so that we can move quickly to bring about these needed reforms.

Ray Rivers on election funding.

The times they are a changing- the public has gotten to the point where they just plain don’t like the way the politicians climbed into bed with any special interest with a cheque book.  The conflict of interest was just too blatant.  The tip of that iceberg was identified by the Globe and Mail when they published a series of articles on how the politician raised the money they need to fight elections.   The opposition parties didn’t make too much noise over the news reports because they too rely on corporate, union and special interest money.

But the media coverage was a little too strong to ignore – and so now the Premier has set out an aggressive set of changes that everyone is going to get a chance to have their say on.  Note though that the Premier made this announcement after meeting with the Green Party – she is avoiding what the NDP and the Conservatives want to do to her neck.

Premier Wynne does deserve credit for getting in front of the parade and not getting trampled by a crowd reaction.

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