Mayor dominates virtual Town Hall on the budget

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The number of people taking part in the Virtual Town Hall Wednesday night was better than any other virtual event the Mayor has hosted.

Dwyer

Michelle Dwyer – handled the questions coming in and kept the program going.

Despite not having access to the actual operating budget there were a number of very good questions: “awesome”, and The city communications people have come up with a format that works well. Someone from the Communications department handles the questions that come in – some live, others submitted beforehand – and determines who they should be handed off to. Michelle Dwyer was the Vanna White for the evening and she made it work quite well.

The problem to this observer was that I wasn’t sure the Mayor, who took part in literally every question that was asked, was really hearing what people were saying.

The concern over the spending was very real. Each time someone asked if a particular spend was necessary the Mayor and or the Staff member would come back with ‘we are providing the services that people tell us they need’.

A number of people – maybe 25% – were saying that perhaps some of the services weren’t needed all that much, especially given the tax increase will be 4.99% if the staff budget is adopted and 3.99% if the Mayor manages to push them enough to cut it another 1%.

Reporter Walter Byj wondered if the amount gained with a transit fare increase would offset the amount being given to the Performing Arts Centre?

Should the Performing Arts Centre and the Art Gallery be shuttered while the province is on lock down? Each get $1 million from the city to help out with operating costs.

One resident wanted to know if the city was going to close the Performing Arts Centre and the Art Gallery until things were back to normal. They were closed for a period of time explained the Mayor but they are back offering virtual programming. The city still has $2 million in the budget – $1 million each.

Additional staff are needed in the Building permit department because there has been a 10% increase in the number of building permits for decks and swimming pools.

Transit has taken a huge hit as a result of COVID – the exceptionally adroit management that Director Sue Connor provides has resulted in the department providing the service that is needed and slowly rebuilding.

Sue Connor at mike

Director of Transit Sue Connor has to deal with two big problems: limits on the number of people she can put on a bus and a traffic count that is on the low side.

COVID has Connor operating big buses with just 15 passengers – that is the COVID limit. Connor explained that she has to keep a bus on standby in Burlington and another in Hamilton. The technology she has tells her when a bus has 15 passengers – telling her that another bus is needed on the route.

Parks and Recreation is taking a big big hit on the revenue side while still trying to provide something in the way of service.  They are in a very difficult situation with not much in the way of wiggle room.

Two members of Council were on the line but did not participate.  One member of Council thought it might have been wiser to wait until the public had more access to information on just what the Operations budget was all about.  Another said she was unable to provide a response to the question asked.

Lisa Kearns pointed out that “From December 2 – January 15 questions could be submitted about the Budget to City Staff through GetInvolvedBurlington.ca   The Virtual Town Hall is the public opportunity to hear those answers and ask additional questions about the 2021 Budget.

The budget book is now available on line HERE

It is a 436 page document in a pdf format  and takes a little time to load.

The on-line Town Hall was recorded and will be posted to the city web site soon.

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Changes in city council schedule. COVID is changing much of what happens at every level.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 19, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council meetings now take place on a Tuesday and they begin at 1:00 pm

This kind of schedule is acceptable while we are living and working under COVID conditions.

Council chamber - new look

Virtual meetings mean we don’t see the Council members in their seats.

Mayor Meed Ward talks in terms of these conditions being in place for some time – possibly to the end of the year.  No one knows of course.  We all just wait and see: will the vaccine prove to be the solution?

Delegations have been slim to none

All City meetings continue to be held virtually.

Amanda Fusco, Manager of Records and Information, argues that “Shifting Council meetings from Monday to Tuesday ensures better customer service. It not only improves the delegate experience and aligns delegate deadlines with standing committees, but also provides Council members time to receive information and prepare amendments.”

You want to take that statement with a large dose of salt.

All the heavy lifting gets done at Standing Committee which are held in the evenings when there are statutory meetings.  The wind has been taken out of the delegation sails; those who were frequent delegators in the past are not rising to the challenges the way they have in the past.

Related news story:

Muir on why delegations are not taking place.

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Councillor said the public trusts us - Muir points to her false logic

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee was ready to adjourn last week after recommending that the Capital budget be approved, Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, who voted against the $80million Capital budget, said he was disappointed but that “he would get over it”.

Kearns direct smile

Lisa Kearns – before she was a member of city council.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for Ward 2 said: This was a big exercise, a challenge for all of us noting that there wasn’t a single delegation adding that it was evident the public trusted council.

Tom Muir, a frequent Gazette commenter didn’t see it quite that way and said:  “I think that Lisa does not have the full sense of what she claimed about everyone being budget happy just because no one showed up.

“False logic indeed.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir brings decades of experience in municipal matters to his thinking.

“Has she completely forgotten that COVID has changed everything, including public engagement and delegations. There’s no real life left in these things.

“You don’t get to meet with all the people, see the body language all around, group conversations before and after, feel the sense of the room and so on. Now that’s fact as we all know, but it goes to the heart of Lisa’s thoughtless (in my view) remark.

“In my experience, I have no actionable desire to delegate to these virtual meetings, and especially, at this time, about the budget. This budget document is very large and takes a very long time to read, and even longer if you want to criticize. People more or less can’t really do this, and with COVID have indicated so.

“I have done so in the past and from the reaction I got it was a waste of time.

“I still see the percent increase expressed in terms of the overall Regional and Education budget amounts. This increase and the way it is expressed is a perennial complaint from people – the answer is always: we are looking into it. Doubling the tax take for Burlington is not a concern of City.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir: Knows false logic when he sees it.

“Also, I still see $43 million budgeted for transit for buses (16 new and 52 replacements) that for many routes nobody rides. Good to go to Hamilton and back but that’s about all. What I have been told is that they are working on it and walking, busing and biking – the integrated mobility plan – is the future.

“Has anyone up there given any thought to COVID changing all of the basis of all of the planning that is based on getting back to “normal”? I see no signs of this anywhere, including, especially, the province, who wants to double down on the past, no change.

“But of course, COVID is busting budgets all over, and we have to pay. These holes are getting deeper and deeper and will have to be paid back and this will take a long time. Like it or not, COVID, being global, will be endemic and mutating, and is not going away.

“The economy and society we had is basically not compatible and sustainable without drastic changes, but I only see these changes being forced by the virus, and not in the plans and policies that I see that only try to support what exists.

“Reopening the economy, or trying to, will be another dangerous time in the not too distant future. I have said before that we cannot have an economy that works until we eliminate this virus.

“The only real cold comfort I get from the budget future is that I trust Joan Ford. Chief Financial Officer to figure it out.”

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Police Services Board puts in a 12 hour meeting; recesses and retursn today to debate fate of Police Chief

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Police Services Board met for 12 hours on Friday, adjourned to resume today (Saturday) at 11:00 am.

wef

Halton Regional Police Services Chief Steve Tanner

The Police Services Board was to meet on Friday – scheduled to begin at 9:30 am, to virtually discuss what they wanted to do about the time the Chief of Police spent time out of the country while the province was under a lock down.

He did so with the permission of the Chair of the Police Services Board.

The in camera meeting recessed yesterday (Friday) just after 10pm and was to resume today (Saturday) at 11 am.

That is a lot of talking time.

And rightly so – there are very serious issues on the table.

The Board had legal counsel taking part in the meeting along with members who have deep policing experience.

There is fault all over the place on this one.

Should the Police Chief have known that it might have been inappropriate to ask for permission with a lock down scheduled to start the day he left the country ?

Burton Rob - glancingf left

Oakville Mayor and Chair of the Police Services Board Rob Burton

Should the Chair have sounded out his fellow Board members on the advisability of the Chief being out of the country? Most certainly.

Should the Chairman have given the Chief permission to leave the country?  The answer to that one is an obvious – No.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton who was the chair at the time should have explained to Chief Tanner that he could not give permission to leave the jurisdiction.

Burton’s Chairmanship of the Board should come to an end; leaving the Board would be advisable.

Those on the Board who feel the Chief should be dismissed face some tough issues.

The Chief did ask.

Rick Bonnette -Halton Hills

Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bnonette

Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette said in a statement published on the Town web site that “ The refrain, “we are all in this together’ is only as meaningful as exemplified through the actions of those who deservedly are held to a higher standard — particularly those in public office and highly ranked officials serving the community.”

Mayor Bonnette, looking to provide residents with a full and transparent account about having any prior knowledge of Halton Regional Police Chief Tanner’s recent travel plans, issued the following statement:

“We have all had to make sacrifices during COVID-19; not seeing loved ones, not socializing the way we wish and staying home as much as possible. I want residents to know, that no members of Halton Hills Town Council have traveled outside of Canada during this unprecedented time.

Further, let me say that recent events involving the Halton Police Chief’s travel are disappointing. Please know that none of us – including Regional Councillors Clark Somerville and Jane Fogal and me, had any knowledge of the Chief’s travel plans. I did learn that he had received approval from the Chair of the Halton Police Board.”

Clark Somerville is a member of the Police Services Board.

The police officers are reported to be very upset that the Chief left the jurisdiction.

What stoked the anger was that while the Chief was away a Detective Constable suffered a cardiac arrest while on an assignment. Detective Constable Mike Tidball, a 14 year member of the Halton Regional Police service died while on duty.

Tidball funeral

Detective Constable Mike Tidball, a 14 year member of the Halton Regional Police service laid to rest last Thursday.

His funeral took place on Thursday in Milton where his wife said: “The most unimaginable has happened and I stand here in utter disbelief that my husband isn’t here with me, Kenzley and Colton,” said Tidball’s wife Kim as she choked back tears at the service.

Tidball was 39.

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A tough period ahead with little to do but tough it out - this is serious business - we need to keep our wits about us.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In a media release sent out by City Hall we learn the following:

Earlier this week, the Province announced a State of Emergency, with additional restrictions to help control the spread of COVID-19. The State of Emergency began Thursday, Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m., including a Stay-at-Home Order in place for all regions of Ontario, including Halton Region, for at least 28 days.

Impacts to City services and programs

City Hall
closed sign city hallCity Hall, located at 426 Brant St., remains open for in-person service by appointment only for commissioning services and marriage licences. Walk-ins are not permitted.

Please visit burlington.ca/commissioning, burlington.ca/marriage or call 905-335-7777 to book your appointment. Residents can also visit burlington.ca/onlineservices to access a variety of City services online.

Service Burlington is available to answer questions by phone during regular business hours, at 905-335-7777 and city@burlington.ca.

Building staff are processing building permit applications. Anyone wanting to apply for a building permit or follow up on an existing building permit application can email building@burlington.ca. Staff are responding to requests and are assisting applicants with the building permit process. For more information, visit burlington.ca/building.

Burlington Transit
Burlington Transit will continue to run as scheduled including specialized transit. The transit terminal at 430 John St. will remain open to provide PRESTO services including SPLIT passes. Presto services are available at Shoppers Drug Mart or online at prestocard.ca. Transit schedules are available online at burlingtontransit.ca to download and print, via Google Maps, Apple Maps and using myride.burlingtontransit.ca.

Halton Court Services – Provincial Offences Office
Halton POA administration counter services are currently closed. Telephone payments are available at 905-637-1274, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Many online services are also available by email at burlingtoncourt@burlington.ca or by visiting www.haltoncourtservices@burlington.ca

Recreation, Community & Culture Services and Facilities
Leaving your home for outdoor exercise is allowed under the current provincial regulations, as long as 2 metres of physical distancing is maintained at all times from anyone outside of your household. Exercise is an essential need for everyone. It is important to stay active for both physical and mental health.

Outdoor recreational parks and open spaces that are allowed to stay open include City-sanctioned toboggan hills, neighbourhood rinks, multiuse courts, playgrounds, trails, Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond and parks. Equipment lending (curbside pick-up) can continue.

Please cooperate with others using the outdoor space and follow all public health measures and posted signage.

Outdoor Skating
Skating rink Discovery LandingThe Rotary Centennial Pond at 1340 Lakeshore Rd. is open for skating daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Residents wishing to use the rink must pre-register and complete the online screening at burlington.ca/screening. Capacity on this rink is 35 people and meets the provincial regulations.

A new artificial outdoor rink at Hidden Valley Park, 1137 Hidden Valley Rd. is open for skating daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All users must pre-register and complete the online screening at burlington.ca/screening. Capacity on this rink is 10 people and meets the provincial regulations.

For both skating rinks, as per new provincial regulations, additional measures are in place for outdoor activities that require the use of masks. Visitors must wear masks while standing in line and it is highly recommended during skating. For more information, follow @Burl_ParksRec and visit burlington.ca/pond for updates.

Outdoor Winter Play Challenge
Residents can also take the Outdoor Winter Play Challenge and see how many free activities they can complete by Feb. 19, 2021. Learn more at burlington.ca/playoutside.

Active at Home
Options to stay active at home are available online at burlington.ca/activeathome, including a series of virtual activities from fitness to crafts for everyone to enjoy. All videos are free and new videos are added frequently. Follow @BurlingtonParksRec on Facebook and @Burl_parksandrec on Twitter for the latest updates and videos.

Roads, Parks and Forestry
Services provided by the Roads, Parks and Forestry Department will continue as needed. Residents with questions or issues can email RPF@burlington.ca or call 905-333-6166.

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Public wants more information on when and where they will be vaccinated when the vaccine is available.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are being asked to stay at home.

We are being asked to go out only when we must and we are being asked to not meet with people who are not part of our immediate circle.

Supermarkets, Big Box stores and other places people go to for the supplies they need are being told to limit the number of people in their premises.

There are all kinds of rules in place, many that are confusing. Bureaucracy run amok.

For the most part the public is complying and waiting.

Waiting for the information they need that will allow them to feel a little more settled and less anxious.

When am I going to get vaccinated and who is going to tell me when that will happen and where will I go to get that vaccination?

Will I get a letter? Will they tweet me?

Will the vaccinations be done by age group?

Will they bring people in for vaccination by alphabetical order within each age group that is decided upon?

Or will they have everyone in a family come in at the same time?

Has all this not been thought out?

In Burlington, no one, as of Tuesday, was all that certain as to which facilities would be used for the vaccinations.

A Task Force created to work through these issues advised that it thought school locations would be best but had not invited anyone from the School Boards to sit on the Task Force.

The Task Force is being led by the Fire Chief and the City Manager’s top aide on matters related to the managing of the issues related to Covid-19.

Both good people – now they need to create a consistent flow of information to settle an anxious public.

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Data on those testing positive for the Covid19 virus - not a pretty picture

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Understanding what is going on around us sometimes means looking at the data that has been collected.

table logoSet out is a chart that shows the positivity rate of the testing that was done.  Shown as a percentage of the tests done and broken out by week and then by age group we can see which age groups had the highest positivity.

The data was released by the Science Table, one of the Covid Advisory groups set up by the provincial government to provide data on which decisions could be made.

There are some surprises in the data.

Younger people are testing positive but not getting all that sick whereas older people have lower positivity rates but they are dying.

weekly positive data

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Regional Health Unit releases some information on the vaccinating of the public

News 100 redBy Staff

January 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At a time when information is critical there seems to be a paucity of it.

The Halton Region Public Health Unit released the following information:
“Halton Region is currently focused on transporting and administering the vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care and retirement homes.

“We are working closely with Directors of Care to provide regular communications with all long-term care and retirement homes, including administrators, staff, residents and caregivers about when the vaccine will be available in each home.

“Right now our primary method of communications is through our dedicated COVID-19 Vaccines webpage, which provides residents with information about:

Health Canada authorized vaccines Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech;

“The status of Halton’s vaccination program in Halton (including where we are at and information on planning for future phases as part of the Province’s vaccine implementation plan);

“We are also communicating through Halton Region social media (Twitter, Facebook), HaltonParents social media (Twitter) and our 311/Access Halton service continues to provide answers and information to residents.

“We also continue to be in regular communications with our partners to keep each other updated and ensure we are delivering a coordinated and consistent message to the community.

“We are also actively working with our partners on a communication strategy to effectively communicate to all residents about the vaccine program, with specific focus on priority groups as they are eligible. This will include social and digital media outreach and more targeted communications to ensure all audiences and groups are aware of when, where and how to get their vaccination.

“We know that many residents are very eager to get their vaccine and this is such welcome news. We continue to ask for patience as we vaccinate priority populations and we will communicate to residents when it is their turn, ensuring that the information is easy to understand and accessible. “

The Gazette is tracking the work being done by the city and the manner in which it will set up facilities once the vaccines are available for innoculations.

The effort at this point is working out which facilities will be used and ensuring that all the support needed is available.

This is not a simple task; it is complex and has to be done right the first time.

Stay tuned.

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What does the data the Premier said was going to knock us off our chairs look like ?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

table logoThe data in a visual format tells the story.

Stark evidence of what we have done to ourselves.

What happened to those in Long Term Care (LTC) facilities.

Key Findings•Growth in cases has accelerated and is over 7% on the worst days.•Almost 40% of long-term care homes have active COVID-19 outbreaks. Since January 1st198 LTC residents and 2 LTC staff have died of COVID-19. Forecasts suggest more deaths in wave 2 in long-term care than in wave 1.•COVID-19 ICU occupancy is now over 400 beds. Surgeries are being cancelled and the access to care deficit will continue to increase with real consequences for health.

LTC July 20

LTC Oct 20

LTC Jan 7 21

 

mortality

Untitled

Daily mortality is increasing under current restrictions, doubling from 50 to 100 deaths per day between now and end of February.

Projections: COVID-19 ICU occupancy around 500 beds in mid-January, potentially over 1,000 beds in February in more severe, but realistic scenarios. Graph below.

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Why are the anti-maskers gaining traction in Burlington?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Why is the refusing to wear masks gaining traction in the city?

Fortino Appleby

Is there a policy at Fortinos that masks are not required by all customers

A report today came in that a small group of anti-maskers entered the Appleby Line Fortinos location.

People, not staff, asked them to put on masks or leave.

The police were called – not certain at this point who called them.

The manager was brought into the concern and he is reported to have said that those not wearing masks could and would be served.

Tamp coffee window

The coffee is good – the ambience used to be funky but pleasant in its own way.

Another report has been received about the Tamp Coffee Shop (best Espresso in town) where they are said to be very loose about masks and due to that a number of anti-maskers have chosen that as a destination.

Tamp screen shot

Not the kind of social message that you grow a business on.

The reports we get are from people we know; people who are reliable and trusted.

All this when the Health people report that there were more than 4000 new infections. The Premier tells us that the modelling data is scary and that he will reveal that data soon.

People who don’t like the need to have to wear masks can read the tea leaves – you can get away with not wearing a mask.
Big shots fly south – they don’t get hammered. All the political buzz has the now fired Minister of Finance showing up in Cabinet again in a different portfolio – he’s ’described as a very smart guy.

They seem to think that they can take a pass on the rules – and should they be infected they are young and will probably not become all that ill.

However, there are 4250 people in the province who are now infected and just under 100 who died.

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Staff Layoffs at City Hall are Impacting Morale

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City today released data on the impact COVID19 has had on city hall

City hall - older pic

The reality that the restaurant and hospitality sectors have been dealing with for months has made its way to city hall.

Thirteen people have become infected by the virus; City Manager Tim Commisso said that all 13 cases have been resolved. There was no detail on whether any of the 13 had to be admitted to hospital – just that they had been resolved.

There have been staff layoffs – particularly at the school crossing guard level.
196 people have been laid off; 290 jobs have reduced hours and 68 people were asked to put in additional hours.

City Manager Tim Commisso said that some of the people who were laid off have advised the city that they are looking for work elsewhere and may not be able to return to the city.

Staff morale has been impacted.

Council learned that 700 hours of work were required to get the provincial lockdown in place and that it will probably take that much to get back to what was once the lick down is lifted..

The reality that the restaurant and hospitality sectors have been dealing with for months has made its way to city hall.

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City gets ready to do its part in the mass public vaccinations - might all be in play by the end of the month

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Vaccinations are taking place now and there is a plan to do the mass vaccinations that will be needed to bring this virus to heel.

Big picture 3 phases

The big picture: sets out the rate at which the city and the Region will get us all vaccinated.

The city administration created a Task Force that would work directly with the Regional Public Health Office which has asked the city to find a possible three locations at which vaccinations can be administered.

launching CIB task force

The make-up of the Task Force – city side

They asked that one of the three be the Haber Recreation Centre which has been used in the past for measles vaccinations.
The way this will roll out is to have the city providing the space with the required security, backup power supply and the on hand staffing that will be needed. Parking and transit access were also important.

The public will be given details on who is to show up when.

Council learned that it is going to be many months before everyone is vaccinated. Sheila Jones, one of the Executive Directors,  who guided the presentations made by staff said she thought it could be completed by August.

There are three phases to the plan. The time lines for each phase are not cast in stone. All the people who are working on this task are fully aware that everything is both fluid and dynamic.

Some people may be getting their vaccinations at a Doctor’s Office; some may get their vaccination at a pharmacy, assuming they are part of the picture.

Phase 2 roles and Resp COB

Who does what?

Karen Roche

Burlington Fire Chief Karen Rocke will work with City Staffer Amber Rushton to lead to Vaccination Task Force

Amber Rushton and Fire Chief Karen Roche are the staff members leading this Task Force. More on Ms Rushton in a separate article.

The Plan they are administering so that vaccinations can be given quickly and efficiently includes:

Having the needed equipment in place
Staffing
Site set up
Traffic control
Site security
Public safety and volume management.

Sites that are set up will have to stay in place until the public vaccination is complete – we are talking about many months.

There will be a military liaison person attached to the Task Force as well as someone from the Mayor’s office – that was defined as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Victoria Al Samadi.

The Task Force reports directly to the Emergency Control Group weekly.

One of the problems that has plagued this health crisis is the, at times, very poor messaging by the province.

The Regional Public Health Network hasn’t earned all that many gold stars for the way it has communicated with a worried public. However, they have been good at getting data out.

Dratf reporting structure (LAST)

Reporting structure is a work in progress at this point – but there are very good people in place to make it all happen.

This next phase is going to require very tight communication between the city – they are going to provide a location that is ready the moment the nurses walk through the door ready to put needles in arms – and the Region, that is going to bring the thousands of doses that will be needed to the location and ensure that there are enough nurses on hand to work from 8:30 am to about 5:30 pm seven days a week.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered. Things will be moving very quickly by the end of the month when the public vaccination takes place.

One message to the public:  the City and the Region have a very firm grip on what has to be done.  The role for individuals is to be patient and to trust the civil servants to do their jobs.  The really do know what they are doing.

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Police tells Mayor 'it was a poor decision and one he deeply regrets' and he walks - no penalty

News 100 redBy Staff

January 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mayor issued the following statement a few minutes ago.

For full transparency and accountability, I have not travelled outside the country or province in more than a year and have not left the City of Burlington since before the Provincial shutdown.

Moment she became Mayor

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward being sworn in as Mayor

I am just as troubled and frustrated as the community about continued news of travel outside the country or province by elected representatives, health officials or community leaders. This erodes public trust at a time we need to work with the community to defeat COVID-19.

I immediately spoke to Halton Regional Police Services (HRPS) Chief Stephen Tanner, when I learned today (from the media) that he had travelled outside the country to attend to a property, with the permission of the Chair of the HRPS Board, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. I expressed my concern about the travel. I appreciate that Chief Tanner has now apologized and said it was a poor decision and one he deeply regrets.

I encourage those with properties outside the province to consider local property management companies and continue to avoid non-essential travel. I have heard from constituents who also have properties outside the province who are not travelling to those properties, and they expect the same from their community leaders.

Clearly, as community leaders, we need to hold ourselves not only to the same standards we expect from the public, but a higher standard of accountability, transparency and behaviour. We are in a public health emergency when all non-essential travel is being discouraged by our public health officials and provincial and federal governments.

Accountability starts in our own backyard. My expectations are that no senior City staff or Council members will be travelling outside the province for non-essential trips during the shutdown. I can confirm that no senior staff at Burlington City Hall has travelled outside the province since the province-wide shutdown. I also asked and have received confirmation from all City Council members that none of them have travelled outside of the province since the shutdown.

As a new measure during virtual City of Burlington Committee and Council meetings, and other public meetings, I will be voluntarily disclosing where I am calling in from. I have asked all of my City Council colleagues to do the same.
Additionally, I have put on the agenda of our upcoming Emergency Control Group a discussion of what further measures are warranted to ensure our staff and council walk the talk, lead by example and hold ourselves to the same and higher standard than we expect of the community.

We are in the worst of this pandemic. It is all hands on deck. We need to trust each other and work together. To do that, we all need to make the same commitments and sacrifices to beat this deadly virus.

We need to work to restore trust when it has been broken, as it has recently with many announcements of travel by health, elected and community leaders.

I have a question: Why does saying “it was a poor decision and one he deeply regrets” close the matter. That’s just not right.

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Demonstrators want the Fearman pork processing plant closed during the lockdown

News 100 greenBy Staff

January 8th. 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A group of people who object to the slaughter of pigs at the Fearman plant in Burlington have shifted their focus just a bit and want to see the slaughterhouse shut down because they believe there are a number of people working in the plant who have become infected with the Covid19 virus.  They are demonstrating outside the plant

Their information, which could not be confirmed, was that 29 workers at the Fearman plant have become infected.

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. Should a slughterhiuse be in this location?

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy is part of the Sofina Group that is close to the largest pork producer in Canada. 

The Public Health Unit reports on the number of new infections but they don’t break that data out with enough detail to know if there have been infections at the plant.

Fearman’s is a very large employer operating a plant that is said to process 10,000 pigs each day.

The torontopigsave group has organized a small demonst5ation at the plant that started at just after 9:30 am.

Trevor Miller told the Gazette that the small number of demonstrators (there are just five) was done for two reasons – they didn’t want their people to create a crowd that could spread the virus and they wanted to ensure that there was not a repeat of the Regan Russell tragedy.

Regan Russell save the pigs

Regan Russell, was run over by a truck transporting pigs into the Fearman plant last June

Ms Russell was run over by a transport truck that was getting ready to enter the plant  on June 19th, this year when the accident took place.

The demonstrators are asking why the business is continuing to operate during the lockdown while elsewhere in Canada and worldwide similar facilities are shut down to slow infections. Two days ago the City of Toronto released a report condemning the company for posing a significant risk to public health.

pigs - watered - girls

Save the pigs activist watering pigs in a transport truck while it was stopped at an intersection just before entering the slaughterhouse.

“There’s no reason to put the lives of slaughterhouse workers and their communities in harm’s way to produce non-essential products,” says Trevor Miller with Toronto Pig Save. “The 10,000 pigs who lose their lives there every day, along with the employees now contributing to overloaded hospitals and ICUs, deserve to be treated with the same privileges as granted to white-collar workers throughout this pandemic – the chance for healthy lives.

“Many employed in this industry are themselves members of vulnerable and marginalized populations and have found themselves forced into unsafe work spaces.”

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The expensive field unit at Joseph Brant will begin taking in COVID-19 patients this week

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We fully expected that expensive tent put in place between the parking garage and the hospital would eventually be used.  While expensive – the construction was a prudent move.

Plans were announced by the Joseph Brant hospital today to open the Regional Pandemic Response Unit to provide space for COVID-19 patients from the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington (HNHBB) region.

field hospital - installed April

Building the unit was a prudent if expensive decision. How well the public follows the lock-down rules will determine how much use it gets. This is as serious as it gets.

This week, hospitals will begin identifying and working with patients who have progressed in their care and could receive care in the PRU, a state-of-the-art, all-season field hospital located on JBH grounds.

Hospitals have had to cancel elective surgery and focus on the pressure created by the number of people infected by the virus and needing a higher level of care.

The infection levels are hovering at the 3000 new infections daily – with the number of deaths rising as well.

“The Pandemic Response Unit was built to care for COVID-19 patients whose condition has stabilized but require support that cannot be provided at home, such as oxygen therapy and medication, as well as ongoing monitoring of their symptoms and some personal support,” says Dr. Ian Preyra, Chief of Staff at Joseph Brant Hospital.

“Transitioning these individuals to the PRU allows them to complete their recovery in an inpatient unit that is specifically designed to provide the type of care they need.”

The healthcare teams working in the PRU comprise of physicians, nurses, patient care assistants, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, home and community care coordinators.

field hospital - long look

The space will have everything needed to comfort patients who will be very very sick people when they get to this point.

The PRU is a key component of a regional strategy developed by HNHBB hospitals to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 care during Wave 2, while helping to minimize potential disruptions to scheduled and community care. The strategy is being led by the HNHBB Hospital Incident Management Structure (IMS) team, which includes representation from all regional hospitals, including CEOs and clinical leadership.

Under the plan, the PRU serves as a regional resource that can receive patients from four hospitals that are providing acute COVID-19 care: Joseph Brant Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton General Hospital) and Niagara Health. Any transfers will be determined based on care needs and in consultation with patients and their families.

“Our healthcare system is being stretched to its limits,” says Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences and IMS co-chair and a former Burlington Mayor. “Opening the Pandemic Response Unit is a necessary step in our continued efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity for the sickest patients. All of the region’s hospitals are working closely together to ensure that care can be delivered safely with limited disruption to patients.”

JBMH president Eric Vandewall is reported to be working on his schedule and aking tme to meet with the city. Dinner with senior city staff was a good start.

JBH president and CEO Eric Vandewall brought the building of the PRU ahead of schedule – he realized immediately that the city would at some point in the future need the facility.

JBH’s Infection Prevention and Control team was closely involved in the design of the PRU, leveraging current research and best practices in the care of COVID-19 patients. Its features include a filtered, negative pressure ventilation system, allowing for treatments that may generate aerosols to be safely performed. It also has durable, easy-to-disinfect surfaces, as well as other features to provide a comfortable environment for patients, such as natural light, portable laptop tables and free WiFi to connect with their loved ones during their stay.

The 16,000-square foot structure was constructed in April 2020, after the Ontario government requested that hospitals implement capacity plans at their sites. It was built as a collaboration amongst Joseph Brant Hospital, community-based health care providers, the City of Burlington, and Halton Region.

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Tell me about Burlington - part 1

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2021,

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

If someone asked you to “tell me all about Burlington” , “what makes the city work”, what would you say?

The Gazette has observed and reported on this city for more than a decade now. Like all media we have watched closely as the city has dealt with the pandemic – in some situations remarkably well and in others less so.

We have watched how the provincial government lost the credibility it once had through the stupid, selfish actions of a few while the vast majority of the people in the province did what they were asked to do.

Dealing with the pandemic on a daily basis has shown the city and its administration for what it is – committed people working under difficult circumstances.

There is legitimate concern for the mental health of those several hundred people who have to work from home juggling their cell phones with their keyboards to meet the demands for information and policy directions.

Today and during the balance of the week we will report on stories that point up how the population and the people who lead them have acted and responded.

Today we want to tell you more about the Burlington Food Bank and the superb job it has done under trying circumstances.

Bailey Food Bank March 31-20

Bailey makes one statement – every day. “If you need help getting the food you need – call us, we are here to help.”

Led by Robin Bailey who serves as Executive Director, and a collection of volunteers who make one statement – every day.  “If you need help getting the food you need – call us, we are here to help.”

Bailey does a short video almost every day highlighting where food is coming from and also what he needs in the way of food to meet the daily need.

The Food Bank has on occasion delivered food to more than 70 homes in a single day.

Margo - thank you

Neighborhood in the city hold a local food drive.

That food comes from a wide variety of sources. A neighborhood in the city will hold a local food drive that has dozens, sometimes hundreds of people dropping off bags of food that is then taken to the Food Bank.

There are dozens of locations around the city that have large bins at which that food is left – every supermarket has one, there are bins at the fire stations, and in the churches.

Bailey has access to funds that he can use to buy items that didn’t get to him through the voluntary food chain.

Bailey works within the eco-system that exists at both the federal and provincial levels where people who are at the front-line level exchange views and share solutions to problems while at the same time keeping tabs on just how big a problem the food banks are in place to handle.

Food bank - three young men

They just show up with large bins or boxes filled with food.

Each day a couple of dozen volunteers show up at the food bank to handle the food that has arrived and put in into the short quarantine that all food gets put in.

It then gets placed on shelves where the people who are putting together the food baskets turn to to make up a food package.

There are drivers who take turns picking up food from the many drop off points as well as delivering the food to those in need.

Bailey, who works with Scot Cameron who produces the daily web cast, gets the message out in a short, direct video that rarely runs more than two minutes.

On an almost daily basis people just show up with large bins or boxes filled with food.

The system works with not a dime from the city or the regional government that is responsible for social welfare.

This is just citizens knowing that there is a need and doing what has to be done to fill that need.

The is part of what Burlington is.

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It is our core values that will get us through 2021 - do we know what those values are?

opinionred 100x100By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

graphic 2021

It is going to be a tough year.

It will be a long haul.

There is of course much hope but there is also a lot to think about.

The way we have failed to take care of those seniors who live in long term care facilities is shameful. The lady in my life said this morning that it must be terrible for an older person who “has all their marbles” to sit in their room realizing that there aren’t enough people to really take care of them.

Lurking behind this is the fact that demographically there is a huge wave of people who will find themselves in long term care facilities who should be asking if they are going to be taken care of.

The look of their “sunset years” has been painted out for them – it is not a pretty picture.

The vaccines are now being produced and people are being vaccinated – why there isn’t more assurance as to when the needle will be put in their arm is disturbing.

The eve of the New Year has traditionally been a time to celebrate and look forward to great things ahead.

This year our thoughts may well be asking how we are going to get through what we are experiencing and perhaps looking more closely at our core values.

Reading that the Ontario Minister of Finance slipped out of the country to enjoy a vacation and basically lied to the public about where he was, and the Premier seems to have covered for him, points out just how big the divide is between the haves and the have-nots.

Rod Phillips is the Minister who is responsible for the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee – the one that is going to get the provincial economy back on track; his ‘follows his own rules’ attitude doesn’t leave us with a surge of confidence.

There are more questions than answers at this point. The challenge for us is to find the core values that make us the people we are and then to ensure that they prevail.

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2020 didn't work out all that well. Let's see what we can do in 2021

Now that we are into 2021 let’s figure out how we are going to get through it – safely.

Take care of each other and stay safe.

Happy New Year !

2021 NY graphic

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Has the postal service forgotten to report the Covid infections ?

News 100 redBy Staff

December 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

UPDATE:  Eight people are isolated,  one confirmed infection in Burlington.   Parcel service and letter mail started coming in again today  with reduced volumes.  

Reports of problems at the Canada Post main depot in Burlington are coming in.

Not able to reach anyone at Canada Post for confirmation but one resident reports there has been no service to his address for four days.

The chaos due to a case of COVID.

Our source, who works at one of the several depots in the city that gets mail from Canada Post for redistribution, reports that:

“Parcels at the depot are backed up several days. We have had limited deliveries since Xmas, which prompted a call by myself to the depot to find out why. I was notified shortly thereafter that one of the delivery personnel, which we have a good idea who it is, is infected. He is young so should recover. He delivers only parcels to our outlet and also other locations from the Burlington depot.

Canada Post vehicle

At least one truck drivers suspected of testing positive.

“According to subsequent conversations with other delivery people, five people are in isolation that work with the one person who has tested positive. To make matters worse one of the delivery guys told me shortly thereafter that there are additional cases in Hamilton. Likely Stoney Creek depot (but I don’t know for sure), which is where most of our letter mail comes from. Since we have not had nearly any letter mail since Xmas that makes sense.

“We have had numerous people coming in to pick up parcels that should have arrived yesterday or today but are still showing in transit since Dec 24. I suspect there will be a significant delay for at least the next week or so.

“Burlington residents should expect limited mail service and parcel deliveries for the next few days.”

A cause for concern.

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Framework will guide vaccine prioritization - THIS is not what the public needs to hear

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

I am sure the ethical frame work, released by the province yesterday,  within which the distribution of vaccines will be distributed is important.

Did the public not expect that there would be one in place? This is not what the public wanted  to know.  People want to know when they will be getting their vaccinations.

long term care - meal

Are the long term care residents first?

People understand that the people working the front lines in the hospitals and those in long term care facilities are high, very high on the list.

I would not want to be the one who had to choose which came first.

It is after those two groups that the vast majority of the public fall into.

When does the 90 year old in good heath get vaccinated?

And where will she go for that vaccination?

We read that there is a shortage of nurses who will do the inoculation and that the people making the decisions are calling in retired nurses and students.

We are just doing that NOW?  That is work that should have been done months ago.

There is no rocket science in this.  We have population data and we know how many people can be vaccinated in an hour.  Do the math.

Halton has a very good student immunization rate - 93% of students are immunized.

Where are the young people on the schedule ?

The public understands that it takes time to set things up – the bureaucrats and the medical community have had the time to get this work  – March, April, May, June and July – when they knew there was going to be a second wave, and when it was becoming clear that a vaccine was going to be available.

Being told that the Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province doesn’t quite cut it in terms of keeping a public informed.

long term care workers

Where are the front line workers on the inoculation schedule; the people at risk working for not much more than the minimum wage.

“This ethical framework is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Ontarians to be transparent,” said General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. “We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective and compassionate way.”

“Phase One of Ontario’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan began on December 15, 2020 at two hospital sites, and increased to 17 additional sites the following week, with the delivery of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses. With Health Canada’s recent approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the province can expect about 50,000 additional doses before the end of the month.”

Couple of questions:  How many phases are there going to be and what are the dimensions of each phase ?

The people leading the program to get us all vaccinated as quickly as possible are not generating much in the way of public confidence.

We can do better than this. And we should be doing better than this.

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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