Just where is public sentiment now that we are in Stage 3 of the Emergency? Not where many would like it to be.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are now in Stage 3 of the Emergency declared by the City and the Province.

The day those declarations were made everything shut down.  Many thought it was going to be a short term thing – when the end of that first month came people began to realize the pandemic was going to really hurt many in the commercial sector.

We got to stage three almost a month ago – things didn’t immediately open up.  It was slow, very slow for many.

Restaurants were permitted to offer service inside the premises and not just outside on a patio or under a tent.

The mask by law was extended to January 2021 – it was temporary when it was first passed.

Groups were limited to 5 people – that got expanded to 10.

Larger groups were permitted – up to 50 people, and movie theatres and bowling alleys were opened.

City hall was getting ready to have some people back at their desks.

The situation with schools is close to chaotic with different boards of education taking different approaches.

Where is the general public in all this?

A survey done in June on public anxiety, which is growing and any possible opening up of the border with the United States revealed that public sentiment falls into five unique groups

20% Ready to Go – less likely to wear masks or follow rules

19% Nearly Ready – watch data from Govt & Health

23% Want to, But Can’t – some barriers – money, child care etc.

18% Content – OK staying and working at home

20% Afraid – want to see control and penalties, think situation is worse, lack of trust

What can Businesses do to help build that trust and bring about a change in public trust and bring them into the commercial world?

Post promise

This decal is available to every restaurant in the country. They just have to sign up to the promise. Look for it – ask why it isn’t there if you don’t see it.

Model the right behaviour – masks and social distancing: this is not a celebration, demonstrate caution

Provide Credible information and validate safety (Post Promise)

Visual is best – show experience rather than tell – videos/tours

Tone – enforcement, education, help, diligent follow-up.

The hospitality sector, which took the hardest hit during the lockdown is slowly coming back – the emphasis is on the slowly part.

Public confidence isn’t as high as it needs to be. Have you seen the POST promise in the restaurants and bars you go to?

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Trustees and School Board Administration debating in a private session

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

HDSB graphic

The trustees have been in this private session for at least more than an hour.

The Halton District School Board has been in a private session for well over an hour.

Not healthy.

Parents want information.

The Board administration has most of the information and will put forward proposals for opening up the schools in September.

The conversations and debate taking place behind closed doors is conversations and debate that should be public.

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Classrooms are going to have a new and much different look when your child returns in September.

News 100 blueBy Michele Bogle

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the opinions and concerns of a group of Burlington parents in an on-going series of articles. While you read this and the other parts to this series, I ask, “Do you share these same concerns? Would you like your voice heard?” Chime in, discuss, share; give those making decisions on your behalf another opportunity to hear you.

To start, all three of my children have attended the public school system in Burlington, elementary through high school. They are now at college or university or have moved on into the world of commerce.

Parents know what it costs to keep their children in these classrooms - now they know what it costs to keep the principals in the schools. Too much?

How many of these desks will be filled in September?

There are so many aspects of the move back into the classroom to discuss. Let’s meet the wonderful parents who connected with me through various Burlington Facebook groups to offer their thoughts, concerns and questions. We’ll dig deeper into this subject over the next few weeks. Here are just some of the issues that you may not have thought about.

The names of the people cooperating with me are not real, I have chosen to use aliases for all of them; but let me assure you – they are very real people.

Mary Sawyer and her husband work full time outside their home and have two elementary aged children. With the uncertainty of how successful the entrance back to school is, she wishes that the HDSB allowed for the option to have her children start in Sept, but then opt for Oct – March remote learning as Hamilton schools have this option. Why are the boards not sharing the same models?

Kathy Duncan is a special education teacher who wants to know what the government plans to do for these students. Discussion about children with special needs have been largely left out of any guidelines thus far. Virtual classrooms would be near impossible to coordinate as well as impractical.

Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors gather in a bus shelter. Front row: YAs Benoit, Shaan, Billi and Harrison. Back row, BT’s Sandra Maxwell, YA Kayla and Burlington Green advisor Kale.

Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors gather in a bus shelter. Front row: Yas Benoit, Shaan, Billi and Harrison. Back row, BT’s Sandra Maxwell, YA Kayla and Burlington Green advisor Kale Black. Will they be able to take on tasks like this during the school year?

Sandra Parker, a Burlington high school teacher and mother of two high school students would really like a decision made with regard to which of the three presented teaching options to prepare for with just three weeks left before the start of school. Currently the plan is for two cohorts with rotating period classes or, two subjects a day for five weeks then on to the next subject. This would provide the students with a more in depth understanding of the material without interruption. The third option would be homeschooling.

Jeremy and Talia Unger are parents to two children, grades 5 and 8. They will be signing the ‘Intent to Return’ form for their kids. One of their concerns is about the mental well-being of their children. “Socialization is a critical part of their development. Not being able to see their friends, in person, at any time during the day can be distracting as well as distressing.” Safety is of course their first priority.

Susan Grimsby teaches elementary aged kids. While she’s eager to return to class, she has definite concerns about the precautions in place. Who’s policing the policies within the school grounds? In maintaining distance between students, how much anxiety is being created?

students-3

The emotional health and well being of students at every level is a real concern. Will it get the attention it needs?

Theresa Fisk is an EA with one child in high school and another in elementary school. She is concerned with the management of the cohorts and identified a handful of opportunities for expanding cohorts. There are special needs children who also use the before-and-after school program. Due to the shortage of classrooms, many of the same rooms will be used in the course of the day. In the morning, regular class begins the moment after the before-school-program kids leave the room, leaving the classroom unsanitized for the next group.

During the after-school sessions, when there is only a handful of one age group left in one of the rooms, they condense the kids into fewer rooms, thus creating another mixed cohort. The duration of time that students are on the school bus is typically 45 minutes with poor air circulation. Theresa would love to have a staggered entry, giving time for sanitation. As well for the grade 1-3 children to wear masks.

Students at tree dedication

Are outdoor classes a possibility?

Maria Vanelli is also an elementary school teacher and speaks out about the $50 million provided to improve air quality, better ventilation in the classrooms. Maria tells me that the idea comes too late to implement in time. Her husband is a contractor and from first-hand experience informs her that the HVAC systems take six months to order, then add installation time.

Library Information Technician, Carmen White touched on, among many other items, the math. If class sizes are to be cut in half to allow for safer student numbers such as 15 per class, the reserve fund doesn’t adequately cover the number of teachers needed. Even with funding in place, space is still an immutable variable.

Each of these sets of parents and educators have concerns about very different pieces of this problem impacted by regional policies from the HDSB. Provinces are beginning to change their ideas through pressure from administrators, educators and the public. One thing everyone agreed on is that the answer isn’t to stay home, nor is it safe enough for their kids to return to school yet.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on going back to the classroom. You can reach me by email – bogle@bgzt.ca

Michele BogleMichele Bogle is a Burlington resident who writes for the Gazette on community issues.  She has written several children’s books for ages 4-12, which can be found under the pseudonym, ‘Cameron S. Matthews’. Michele received her education in journalism from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 

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Burlington Food Bank: Getting ready for a possible second wave.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The front line people are the people that really get it.

It’s in front of them every hour of every day.

A lot of those front line people are volunteers – that is what community and serving is really all about.

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank is participating  in the annual Feed Ontario conference which will happen this week online in a virtual format. Today’s course is about “Getting Ready for the 2nd Wave”.

Beth-Martin-Caremonger-1-400x412

Beth Martin Snook – Burlington Together

Beth Martin Snook from Burlington Together made some comments earlier this week that bear repeating.

“As we head into September and beyond, let’s keep in mind that Covid-19, like the common cold, is operating solely in its best interest.

covid virus

Corona virus: They are really good at spreading.

“Corona viruses are really, really good at what they do, which is: spreading.

“We WILL see new cases as schools reopen, it WILL spread. This isn’t a moral failing on anyone’s part. It’s just a virus, doing what it does best.

“Our best defenses continue to be hand washing, social distancing, masking, and supporting each other through what continues to be an extremely stressful moment in time.

“We may very well see a second wave, and if we do, we will be here to support the Burlington community and provide reliable resources.

“The Burlington Food Bank IS and WILL be ready to support our community.

“If you are in need or know of someone who could use our help PLEASE have them email us at info@burlingtonfoodbank.ca or call 905-637-2273 to make arrangements to have food dropped at their door or they can now pick it up. If you live in Burlington, we are here to help.”
Grow to Give
Grow a row
About the Burlington Food Bank
Donate

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Public gets to ask questions on the review of the Downtown portion of the Official Plan: one of the best ZOOM productions so far this year.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was the best ZOOM production we’ve seen since the lock down.

Dwyer

Michelle Dwyer handled the flow of questions exceptionally well. There may be a future for her in professional broadcasting.

Michelle Dwyer served as the moderator who took the calls during a virtual information meeting about the close-to-final report from the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown event which she passed on to the team on the other side of the panel that included Alison Enns, Thomas Douglas and Jenna Pulato.

It ran smoothly, a truly professional production. The people who run the city web casts – especially the Standing Committee programs, could learn something from this team.

Dwyer would have looked even better if the camera had been adjusted just a little.

Each of the participants was working from home (Dwyer might have been working out of city hall) and were able to move from person to person without any glitches.

They were doing a virtual information meeting on one of the final Get Involved Burlington segments that was focused on the Scoped Reexamination of the Adopted Official Plan for the Downtown.

By way of background – the 2014-18 city council approved a new Official Plan that was sent to the Region where it had to be approved.  The Region sent it back saying there were parts of the Plan that didn’t fit with the Regional Official Plan – they needed some fixes.

That notice from the Region came in after the 2018 election which brought a lot of new faces to the council table and a Mayor who saw the development of the downtown core a lot differently than her predecessor.

In its notice to the city about the Official Plan that it was sending back, the Region said the city could look at other elements of the Plan and not just the four the Region had been specific about.

That gave Mayor Meed Ward the room she needed to take a deeper look at what could be done with the downtown core.

Mary Lou Tanner

Mary Lou Tanner, former Burlington Director of Planning

The city now had a new Director of Planning: Mayor Meed Ward did not get along with Mary Lou Tanner who was directing and defending what the 2014-18 Council had approved.

Mayor Meed Ward sent City Manager James Ridge packing and brought in Tim Commisso in as an interim City Manager who quickly became the choice of new full time city manager.

Most of the players had changed – which got the city to the point where the Scoped Reexamination of the Adopted Official Plan become almost a cottage industry in itself. The Director of Planning was given carte blanche to hire a consulting firm to lead the Review. They were thorough – and they weren’t cheap.

Heather MacDonald, the new director of planning, was given permission to do a sole source search – she hired SGL Planning and Design who began a process that produced literally dozens of reports with two more to come.

Alison

Alison Enns, part of the panel that took questions from the public on a virtual information meeting, worked very smoothy with Thomas Douglas on the ZOOM presentation

Thomas Douglas

Thomas handled most of the question related to transportation at the virtual information meeting.

The FINAL report with some surprising recommendations wasn’t available to the public until a few days before the live review; despite that many of the questions were very detailed – members of the public had drilled down and done their home work.

A transcript of the broadcast, as well as the broadcast itself is expected to be available “shortly” Both will be posted to the Get Involved section of the city web site.

Planning staff have asked for comments before August 28th.  The report will go to a Standing Committee September 30th and to Council in October.

If the report makes it through each of these steps, and doesn’t get bogged down with an appeal before it goes to the Region, it could become the law of the land before the end of the year.

It will have been a long, tortuous and expensive trip.

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School Board to Hold Virtual Town Hall - question is 'when'?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is planning on holding a virtual Town Hall meeting to bring parents up to date on September school opening.

HDSB sign and benchThe intention was to hold the event Thursday or Friday of this week but HDSB officials said “we just don’t have enough information from the Ministry and hope to do the Town Hall virtually next week.”

In a telling quote, an Official who asked not to be identified said: “The sands are shifting.”

School Boards across the province have been struggling to deliver on the directions the province has given them.

Parents are not happy with the options they have, school boards have found that they are not getting the opportunity to use the resources they have to deal with the challenge they face.

They were told just days ago that they can tap into their financial reserves; HDSB has $40 million that they need government permission to spend. They have been given permission to spend $6 million on PPE.

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Private sports facilities ask for and get a bit of a break from the city. Coach Dave felt like it was old home week

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 17th 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Recreation Services Redesign plan for the fall to slowly reopen more recreational facilities including rinks and indoor pools to increase the number of recreational programming, activities and rentals available to Burlington residents was approved by City Council lasty Thursday at a Special Meeting.

Earlier in the day a Standing Committee heard delegations from a number of people who outlined the impact the COVID-19 rules were having on the private facilities sector of the sports community.

Coach-David-

Coach Dave

Coach Dave, taught Councillor Nisan enough to get him to the point where he was a respected athlete during his high school days. Councillor Kearns was listening carefully while Coach Dave delegated and then spoke up and said: “So you’re the Coach Dave my kids talk about.  “Who are your kids asked the coach?  “That will be a conversation for another time” said Kearns

Audit Kearns 5

That will be a conversation for another time”

At that point all Coach Dave  needed was one more supporter and he could have gotten almost anything he asked for.  Councillor Galbraith, who runs a fitness club piped in and said he fully understood the financial pressure on the private facility locations.

City Council approved a rental rate reduction of 25 per cent and added more funds to support Recreation Fee Assistance.

The rental rate reduction will help off-set the reduced revenue recreation providers are experiencing due to smaller group sizes, cleaning and additional costs associated with COVID-19.

Recreation Fee Assistance

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

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

Arenas and Indoor Pools

Some indoor pools and rinks will open for fall programs and rentals.

Indoor pools opening will include Angela Coughlan and Centennial Pool. Nelson Pool, weather permitting, will stay open until Thanksgiving, Oct. 12, 2020.

Central Arena is open. Appleby Arena ice pads 3 and 4 will open soon. Other arenas will open once demand for ice rentals reach 40-60 hours per week at each arena.

Stay tuned for recreational skating programs to resume later this fall.

 

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Online payments for business licence renewals and property information not available.

notices100x100By Staff

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Access to online payments for business licence renewals and property information requests currently unavailable

Online payment for the following online services is currently unavailable. Thank you for your understanding as we work to get this option back online as soon as possible.

• Business licence renewals
• Property information requests

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School Board faces challenges it has never had to deal with before - parents are apprehensive about sending their children back to school at this point.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stuart Miller H&S

Director of Education for the Halton District School Board (HDSB), Stuart Miller

The Director of Education for the Halton District School Board (HDSB), Stuart Miller, is hunkered down with his staff at the Education Centre on Guelph Line in Burlington, taking part in a meeting that has them all in the same large room.

This is a group that will be very strict in the way people in the room social distance and wear masks.

They are there to figure out how they can handle the opening of the schools on September 8th.

It is not going to be an easy task.

The province has set out requirements that many feel are just plain wrong – but school boards have to do what the Ministry tells them to do.

The government wants students back in classroom and has directed that elementary schools operate just the way they did before the schools were closed in March.

Secondary students will spend some time in a classroom and some time working from their homes being taught synchronically by their teacher who will be in the school.

Last week the Board of Education sent a note to every parent asking what they planned to do with their children: were they going to have them attend classes or were they going to keep them at home?

As of last Thursday just over 50% of the parents had responded. The responses were supposed to have been returned by last Friday – that deadline has been extended.

istem Cafeteria-crowd-Nov-2018-768x371

When parents have questions they show up in droves with their hands in the air. This parents meeting took place at Aldershot High school when the iStem program was announced.

Directors of Education across the province are close to being totally fed up by the way the Ministry of Education is handling the delivery of education to students.

Of the 50% that did respond 81% of the parents of elementary students said they would return; 86% of the secondary parents said their children would return.

There are roughly 45,000 elementary school students being taught by the HDSB and roughly 19,000 secondary students.

The 50% of the parents that answered the survey as soon as they got it were pretty sure as to what they wanted to do – it is reasonable to assume that the other 50% were not certain.

If you do the math – you get a sense as to the size of the problem the HDSB administration is up against.

To get some sense as to what teachers are going to have to deal with. There are elementary schools in the system that have enrollments of 1200 students – Oakville and Milton have elementary schools that big.

Blackwell

Superintendent Terri Blackwell has led the development of the program for secondary school students during the pandemic.

Scott P - close up

Scott Podrebarac has led the program for elementary school students. Both Podrebarac and Blackwell are supported by a team of senior people

How does one keep the required control over 1,200 students – ensuring that they are wearing masks; ensuring that they stay within their cohort, ensuring that they don’t mix with students from other cohorts?

The HDSB has had a schedule of the condition of the HVAC systems in every school in the Region.

More than four months ago HDSB asked for permission to use some of the $40 million in the Board’s Reserve Fund account to upgrade the HVAC systems. They didn’t get a response; they were told that they could allocate $6 million from the reserve fund account to purchase the PPE supplies that would be needed.

Some school Boards, Toronto in particular, are pushing the province to permit staggered classroom openings. Nothing positive yet from the province.

The Province also said that 500 nurses were going to be hired and made available to the school districts. Nothing yet on who will be overseeing those nurses and how they will interact with the individual schools.

Will those nurses be assigned to specific schools or will they be assigned to the Public Health unit they are within?

What will a school do if they find they have an infected student? Close the class and send everyone home for 14 days or shutdown the whole school?

How will busing students to school be handled? Will there be enough drivers?

Miller expects today’s meeting to last all day and points out that most of his staff have worked every weekend since the lockdown took place in March. “This is a tremendous administrative task” adding that “there are more questions than answers – we are going to have to make things up on a daily basis. It is going to be a challenge.”

The trustees will meet for a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

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Farmer's Market a 'roaring success' needs a couple of new volunteers - check it out and check in

News 100 greenBy Staff

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Peter Bowker tells us that the “Burlington Centre Lions Farmers Market is a “Roaring Success” – but will need volunteers.”

wrb

This is what a Farmer’s Market is all about. People buying fresh goods from the people who made them.

The Market has now been open for ten weeks under strict COVID safety precautions – it was one of the first small businesses in the area to do so. Each week, over 40 vendors set up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday to offer a wide range of fresh agricultural products.

So far, over 55,000 customers have come to shop, and gone away smiling. The vendors and their staff are pleased to be able to offer their services and earn a living.

This is the 62nd consecutive year for the summer market. Over that time, nearly $1 million dollars has been raised through stall rental fees and donated by the Lions to local youth, health, and wellness needs in Burlington and area.

Farmers Market LionsThis year, Burlington Lions Club invested over $4,000 in boundary fencing, signage, PPEs, sanitizers, and access controls to obtain clearance from public health authorities to operate this unique open-air venue. This cost has not been passed on to the vendors or the customers – the Lions consider it an important investment, as a service to the community. Also, additional volunteer staffing has been required to set up and take down the market, and monitor safe distancing practices of vendors and staff.

That is where needing help comes in. “We have been grateful for a number of young people who have helped through the summer, but they will leave to return to classes. So we are in need of half a dozen new volunteers to contribute a few hours each week.

“Either an hour in a morning to help set up, or an hour in the afternoon to put away, or a two-hour shift during the day monitoring customers in and out.

“Anyone interested should send a note to lionsecretary@lions14925.org, or contact Lion Jim McLaughlin at 905-536-8817.”

Related news story:

How the Farmer’s Market is set up in a Covid19 world

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Call Clean Up - and just who would that be?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thousands of people in this city know what it is like to take a pleasant walk along the pathways in the Beach part of the city.

Rubbish Beachway rubbish 3

A walk in the country – a seven minute drive from city hall

The picture on the right of the pathway is what makes a walk such a pleasure.

We know that city staff are stretched – too much work to be done and not enough people on staff to get it all done.

The citizens of the city often use the Gazette to bring  some of the problems to the attention of city hall .

Rubbish - Beachway 1

Rubbish on the walking trail. Send in the clean up crew. There is one, isn’t there?

There is an unsightly pile of rubbish along the Beachway trail.

Who do you call?  The Mayor? She is swamped.  The City Manager?  He is swamped as well.  Maybe the head of the city’s communications group.  We will forward this to him and see if anything gets done.

Would someone do whatever has to be done to get it cleaned up?

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The collection of food for those in need is an ongoing process - don't let up at this point.

dRIVE THRU FOOD DRIVE

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Bryana Cosgrove: 'Guess what’s NOT cancelled this year...the Terry Fox run!'

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

August 16, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

From out of the blue – a few words from Bryana Cosgrove:

“Guess what’s NOT cancelled this year…not even COVID can stop something as wonderful as the Terry Fox run! But, the format is a little different. There are at least 2 ways for you to participate:

Cosgrove ankle

Recognize this ankle ? You should.

1. For all you cyclists out there, there is a 40th anniversary event happening on Aug 22nd where you can ride your favourite route to contribute to the collective goal of cycling 40,000kms (the circumference of the world) on that one day. If you’re interested, DM me for details on how to register and log your kms!

Team Casey

Some things never die – they aren’t supposed to.

2. Team Casey will be creating our own fun event you can complete individually or in teams of people within your COVID bubble. This event can be done on your own time and in your own way…details to follow!

Through Casey’s 7 year battle with late stage lung cancer, he bounced between various treatments, but the most successful treatment was a clinical trial for a drug that was partly funded by research dollars raised by the Terry Fox Foundation.  This drug gave Casey an additional wonderful three years with his friends and family, and for that we are forever grateful.  Please help me pay it forward for others by supporting Team Casey.

Click the link below to become part of our team or to donate

To donate under a specific team member just click on their name on the team page.

The web site is HERE

 

 

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Summer on a Sunday in the City

eventsgreen 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Summer in the city on a quiet Sunday

Whatever heat there is going to be hasn’t arrived yet.

The streets are quiet. Groups gather around the strip malls.

In the downtown core there is a place where the traffic builds – the Centro Market that is tucked in behind the store on Brant Street – accessed off John Street.

Centro 1

Social distancing limits the number of people who can actually shop – a decent line up, seen on the right, with people waiting for their turn.

Life when there is a pandemic hovering over us like a huge dark cloud changes much of what we do.

Centro 2

People line up, waiting for their turn to enter the market while a guitarist plucks at the strings.

At the market it means standing in line – six feet apart, properly masked waiting for someone in the parking lot doing their shopping to leave so that the next person in line can go in.

There is a quiet casualness to it all.  A musician plays a guitar quietly.

Centro 4

The back hoe rests – waiting for the construction workers to return on Monday.

Yards to the south of the market there is a massive back hoe parked for the weekend – waiting for construction workers to show up on Monday to continue with the excavation of the site that will see The Gallery, a 24 story development that will, when completed, change not only the look but also the feel of the downtown core.

Just to the north of the market – the Bentley, another condominium takes its place.  As high as it is – it doesn’t feel as if the building is looming over the street even though it is flush with the side walk.

None of it seems to change the feel of the market in a parking lot.

Centro 3

Produce is set out on table on on the tail gates of vehicles.

What is missing is a spot where one can sit at a table with a checkered table cloth drinking good coffee, perhaps a double espresso and a croissant.

Can one hope?

 

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Mayor does have Registry of who she meets with but there isn't the kind of transparency expected from Meed Ward.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council ended a long work day on Thursday – starting at 9:30 am and adjourning at just after 10 pm that night.

They started out as a Standing Committee, rolled it over into a Meeting of Council and passed a number of significant bylaws.

There was an interesting debate on plans to create a Registry within which members of Council would let the public know who they have been meeting with.

Politicians at every level don’t particularly like Registry’s. Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns has had one in place for some time.  She brought forward a Motion asking that there be a Registry that included every member of Council

During the debate Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said she has had a Register since the day she became Mayor.

Meed Ward as a delegation

Transparency was Meed Ward’s operative word before she was even elected to office.

That was a surprise to me – it was something I had never heard of before. With Mayor Meed Ward everything she does that is new and different is mentioned often. She sees and positions herself as a politician who is going to do things differently. She used the words accountability and transparency every time she delegated at Council as a citizen.

The Gazette reached out to the Mayor’s Communication staffer. Got a message that he was working from home.  Our message to the Communications Staffer was:

At the Standing Committee last night the Mayor said that she keeps a record of everyone she meets with along with minutes of the meeting and that that information is publicly available.

Can you tell me where that information is located?

Thank you

Shortly after we got an email from Suzanne Vukosavljevic, Manager of Communications, City Manager’s Office.  We did not reach out to Vukosavljevic – she appears to have been advised by the Mayor’s Communications Staffer that the Gazette was asking questions.

She responded:

Wearing chain of office

Marianne Meed Ward after being sworn in as Mayor of Burlington

The Mayor’s Office maintains a record of meetings with developers, with minutes. They are not online but, as stated, available to the public upon request and can forward.

We responded asking for a link to the information.

Vukosavljevic replied:

Good afternoon Pepper,

The Mayor’s Office maintains a record of meetings with developers, with minutes. If there is interest in a particular meeting, we can forward those minutes. The only meetings that have taken place this year have been:

  • Clearview – Adam Peaker, June 29
  • Millcroft Golf Course – Frank Bon, Feb 6

Thanks, Suzanne

That is not quite good enough.  Where are the records?  Written up in a little black book?   Are they in a place where they can be accessed by people in the Mayor’s Office and changed?

During the debate the Mayor said the information was public and that it was online.

That isn’t the case.  It certainly isn’t transparent.

Politicians are judged by what they do – not what they say.

We applaud the Mayor recording her meetings and keeping minutes.

We would like to see the complete record of every meeting along with the minutes.  The public has a right to see everything not just what City Hall functionaries decide to make available.

In a conversation with a former Mayor of the City he said that anyone who wants to do something in the City meets with the Mayor.  “It all comes through the Mayor’s office” he said.

Of course it does and the Gazette wants a mayor who preaches accountability and transparency to practice what she preaches.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Former City Manager saw his time in Burlington as 'pensionable'. The man does have a way with words

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

James Ridge - looking rightHe can’t seem to stay away from the City.

Ridge tweetOne of the first things Marianne Meed Ward did once she had the Chain of Office around her neck was to call a meeting of her newly sworn in members of Council and went into a Closed session where Council agreed that the City Manager was to be shown the door – dismissed – fired is the word people like to use.

There was never any word on what it actually cost the city to dismiss James Ridge – but it wasn’t  cheap.

The city would have had to buy out the balance of his contract, cover the cost of moving him out of Burlington and probably something for perceived pain and suffering on the part of Ridge.

In the municipal world, at the City Manager level – these things happen – you take your lumps and move on.

Ridge cleared his desk on either Tuesday December 4th or the 5th.  He knew it was coming.  He had said to  one of the security people before the election that “If she wins I am toast”.  Since his departure Ridge has tweeted frequently on Burlington events.

A June 28th tweet has a number of people in Burlington very disturbed. One reader of the tweet commented “We knew it all the time”.

Ridge commented on how many people in the city voiced their concern over the possible demise of a very popular commercial location.  Commenting the way he did can only be seen as very unprofessional.

The words that galled people were Ridge saying it was “pensionable time!”

That’s more than unprofessional – that’s just plain crass.

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Lawyer representing Burlington Rifle and Gun Club said: 'Urinating on somebody’s leg and calling it rain is constitutionally indefensible.'

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Did you know that Burlington has a Rifle and Revolver Club?  It is located on the upper part of King Road in Bayview Park.

David Bot, president of the club, is one of the applicants involved in a challenge in Federal Court to the Government of Canada’s order prohibiting firearms designed for sporting or hunting.

Gun range location

Gun and rifle club located in a safe isolated location. A city park with a fabulous view.

Competitive shooters, gun ranges and businesses based in Ontario and Québec have launched a challenge in Federal Court to the Government of Canada’s order prohibiting firearms designed for sporting or hunting.

On May 1, 2020, the Government of Canada enacted Order in Council 2020-298 that made Regulations reclassifying as prohibited a large number of previously non-restricted or restricted firearms. The Regulations broadly refer to nine models and their variants as well as two categories of firearms based on bore size and muzzle energy. Over 1,500 models of firearms are now prohibited, meaning that several hundred thousand sporting and hunting firearms are unusable and now worthless.

The applicants bringing the challenge include the following:

The individual applicants know each other through their lawful competitive shooting activities. All are members of gun clubs responsible for the operation of their respective federally approved shooting ranges as well as the International Practical Shooting Confederation, which operates worldwide.

Rifle range - iinside

Competitor at a shooting competition in Burlington.

The business applicants have suffered direct foreseeable losses as a result of the challenged regulation and each of the owners of those businesses are competitive colleagues of the individual applicants through their respective sporting activities.

Lawyers for the applicants, Eugene Meehan, Q.C. and Thomas Slade of Supreme Advocacy LLP in Ottawa, filed the application for judicial review in Federal Court on August 11, 2020.

“Parliament makes it clear that firearms reasonable for sporting or hunting cannot then be prohibited by Cabinet regulation. Just as Canadians have to follow the law, so does Cabinet,” said Meehan. “Many of the newly prohibited firearms have been imported, sold, regulated, and used for years for sporting and hunting. It is inauthentic to say otherwise. Urinating on somebody’s leg and calling it rain is constitutionally indefensible.”

Bay view Park

Bay View Park has a skyline view that is probably the best in the city.

“The number of challenges to the Regulations are a sign of their dysfunction. This particular challenge is designed to complement rather than conflict with those other cases. We specifically are not bringing a Charter challenge, but instead are focusing primarily on the fact the government overstepped its statutory mandate. The government’s narrative keeps changing. The facts don’t,” said David Bot, President of the Burlington Rifle and Revolver Club.

The Executive branch of government can make regulations by way of Orders in Council. Executive legislation, however, is not subject to the same high scrutiny as laws passed by Parliament. For this reason, it is important that the government is careful in making regulations and ensures they adhere to limits established by Parliament and Parliament’s legislative intention.

 

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Tax payments are not coming in the way they used to and revenue sources are drying up - city is facing a huge shortfall

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

So how deep is the financial hole going to be?

The city treasurer put some numbers on the table – they don’t look all that good.

Earlier in the week the City got a big chunk of money from the federal and provincial governments. More than $4 million was to cover some of the costs of running the City.

Revenue has been low – mostly from the Parks and Recreation services the City provides.

Here is what Joan Ford, City Treasurer gave Council on Thursday.

The city has been very generous on the time people have to pay their taxes.  There have been deferrals on due dates – which can get a little confusing.  The Table below shows what the shortfall is on the April tax levy.

CSSRA Ford slide 3

There is a total of $7, 708,000 + outstanding from the April tax levy.  A number of people and organizations enrolled in the Tax deferral the city put in place.  That amount comes in at $2,260,000 +

Ford set out for Council what all this was doing to cash flow.  The table below shows the Cash flow projections that were in place for the 2018/2019 fiscal year and what Ford and her staff think the projection will be for 2020.

CSSRA Ford slide 4

Using the data they have the Finance people set out the estimated revenue loss from tax supported and non-tax supported programs – then added to that what they expect to have to spend on COVID-19 matter.  Ford told Council that to date the City has spent about $400,000 on Covid-19 tasks.

Seven million was saved on what they called “expenditure restraint”. Unless it was absolutely necessary – funds were not spent even though they were in the budget.

That still leaves a shortfall of $7,743,834.

CSSRA ford slide 5

Standing back from the detail and looking at the bigger picture – where is the pain?  Parks and Recreation.  Transit, the orange marker wasn’t as deep but substantial nevertheless   The service was offered free of charge.  That changes in September but at this point the transit people have no idea what revenue might look like.

The Parks and Recreation revenue losses were a surprise.

CSSRA ford slide 6

The city let all the part time people go shortly after the Emergency legislation was passed.  Discretionary spending was cut and almost $3.2 million was saved in other “Business as Usual” expenses.

There is only so much that can be squeezed out of a budget.  Also there are found expenses that occur the moment you turn the lights on.

CSSRA Ford slide 7

There is a very bright and tough minded crew of people who look at the services that are provided and ask: How can we redesign this service so that the public gets what they expect and we can be more efficient.

The most recent re-design resulted in an additional $1.7 (almost $1.8) million being added.  Some savings with leaf collection – always a contentious issue in Burlington – were made.

That now has the shortfall at $9,541 + million.

CSSRA ford slide 8

Getting a handle on the damage COVID-19 is doing to the City’s finances in a situation that is both dynamic and fluid leaves the city with what cannot be described as a pretty picture.

The finance people know that things will not remain the same – normal is no longer a state of affairs that can be seen as certain.

The Finance department did a sensitivity analysis.  Starting with what they see happening now that we are into Stage 3 they looked forward and did a calculation based on an additional 5% revenue loss and then a 10% revenue loss.

Those numbers are set out below.

CSSRA Ford slide 9

Members of City Council need now to take those projections to bed with them and think long and hard: Are they ready to tell the public that there is going to be a $13 million revenue loss.  If they have to make that kind of a statement they had better have some solutions and not just assume that a tax hike will cover that off.

City Council might be approaching that point of desperation that many in the commercial, especially the hospitality sector, are experiencing.  City’s cannot go bankrupt nor can they run a deficit.  Should they reach that point the province sends in regulators who take over. That’s when a staff reduction is given a hard close look.

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Cleanup GreenUp - the Burlington Green annual initiative will have a bit of a twist this year.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

August 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Clean Up Green Up – the annual Burlington Green initiative that cleans up the litter that others leave behind will be different this year..

The program is in its tenth year – and has run into the pandemic wall.

Gathering the way they have in the past with garbage bags and gloves isn’t possible with the required social distancing.

The truly wonderful get together that used to take place in Civic Square won’t be possible either.

The creative minds at Burlington Green have found a way around the WORD – Clean Up Green Up is going to take place whenever you want it to take place and wherever you want it to take place.

They understand that the earth can’t wait. Litter has been accumulating in ditches, hydro corridors, along beaches and waterfronts, and posing serious risks to nature. We can still practice responsible social distancing while caring for the planet.

Burl Green 2020 Clean up graphic

Clean Up Green Up – all year long.

Here is how it will work:

Determine a location in Burlington that your family, friends or small community group would like to clean up.

Let us know about your clean up by filling out the Clean Up Form and you can look forward to receiving the following benefits:

BG Clean up

When they take part in the Clean Up Green Up at a young age – they tend to stay with it – these two are proud as punch with what they managed to get done

Your family/group will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a $50 gift card courtesy of the Burlington Centre! (where you can buy eco-friendly products, food etc.)

You have the opportunity to receive FREE clean up supplies for your group. Litter collection bags and gloves are available for pick-up by request and while quantities last.

We would love to receive a photo of you and your loved ones/group members ‘in action’ with the litter you collected. Send it along to us and we’ll be sure to post it on our Green Wall of Fame webpage for all to see!

Review our handy tip sheet for proper waste collection and safety information 0n the Burlington Green website. .

Ensure a safe Clean Up by following the most up-to-date COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Safely clean up your selected area in the community, count the number of full bags of litter you collected and take a group photo with your collected litter.

Sheldon Creek - farm equipment + Vince

Found in Sheldon Creek – one of the hot spots.

Bring ALL collected waste home with you and dispose of it through your residential curbside collection. (Please do not leave collected waste at any parks, trails, businesses or green spaces, as city waste collection is not available at these locations.)

Send an email (cugu@burlingtongreen.org) to us with your attached group photo, and the total number of bags of litter you collected. We also invite you to let us know the location of any larger waste items or litter “hot spots” you spotted during your clean up so we can flag it for further attention.

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'Temporary' Mask Bylaw Extended to January 2021 - Condos and Apartments Now Included

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Council, meeting as a Standing Committee yesterday put in a 14 hour day. They got a little silly near the end of the day and items that needed more time got a bit of a bum’s rush.

We are seeing more in the way of delegations – not seeing the delegators actually – we get to hear them only.

Lamb JoeA

Joe Lamb, a one-time aspirant to the job of Mayor, explained to council how things worked in well run condominium corporations.

Joe Lamb, a one-time aspirant to the job of Mayor, delegated on when a mask has to be worn in condominiums, which did not fall under the Emergency legislation.

City Council wanted those who live in condominiums and apartments to come under the mandatory mask bylaw.

Lamb was more than prepared to cooperate with Council.

In a media release put out this morning we were advised that Condominiums and Apartment Buildings have been added to the Temporary Mask By-law

In an effort to expand protections and reduce transmission of COVID-19, as of Aug. 20, the temporary Mask By-law will apply to most common areas of condominiums and apartment buildings, with the same exemptions effective August 20th.

The temporary Mask By-law, that was originally described as temporary has been extended until Jan. 31, 2021. The By-law can still be rescinded earlier or be extended beyond Jan. 31 2021

The temporary Mask By-law states that masks or face coverings must be worn in enclosed, public spaces including most common areas of condominiums and apartment buildings. Exemptions apply.

Exemptions
The By-law includes exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons including mental health concerns, children under the age of five and other reasonable accommodations.

Children under five years of age should never be required to wear a mask or face covering.

The By-law also permits the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal or engaging in athletic or fitness activity. The by-law does not apply to child care facilities and schools, employee-only areas and areas that are not enclosed (i.e. restaurant patios).

Meed Ward in a mask

Mayor lets the public know that she is a big time mask believer. It wasn’t always thus.

Adjusting to the mandatory Mask By-law will take some time. Residents are encouraged to be kind and compassionate with each other, and to approach fellow community members who may not be wearing a mask with understanding and offers of assistance, rather than judgement.

For more information about the Mask By-law, visit burlington.ca/masks.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward insists that: “We listened to our residents who have been requesting additional protections for public areas in condos and apartments. We need to use every tool we have to keep our community safe wherever they are. We also thank those buildings in our city who have already voluntarily asked residents to wear a mask in common areas.”

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