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Where the measles came from and how the Region MOH tracked it down.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. August 3, 2013.  Burlington has reported an abnormal number of measles cases this year – six so far when the number has not been higher than two for the past eight years and often there were no cases reported.

Measles just isn’t a communicable disease we see very much of in Canada and that is because most of the population is immunized.

There was a time when many communities saw notices like this posted.

Dr. Monir Taha, the deputy Medical Officer of Health for the Region, talked earlier in the week about how the six cases of measles broke out in Burlington.  The first was traced to a family with three children who were in British Columbia passing through the Vancouver airport.   Someone with measles passed closed to these children, who had not been immunized and they picked up the communicable disease.  How does Dr. Taha know that?  Turns out there was a case of measles reported in British Columbia and that person was also in the Vancouver airport at the same time.  Good medical detective work arrived at the conclusion that the Burlington residents picked up their measles at the same airport.

When those children got back to Burlington they passed what they had picked on along to other people who had not been immunized.  The Regional Health people tracked where these children had been and published that information which advised the public that if they had rashes and had been in any of the location mentioned on the dates indicated – get to a doctor.

Getting this kind of information out to the public is what electronic media are in place for.  News can get published instantly and read whenever people decide they want to know what’s going on.

We live in a world where people travel.  There are tens of thousands of people in other countries who travel and are not immunized and can be communicable disease carriers.

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

The trick is to ensure that your immunizations are up to date.

Halton has an exceptionally high immunization rate.  93% of the student population is immunized.  The Region only has records of the student population.

Of the remaining 7% the Region has no data on 1%;  4% are not immunized for various reasons, religious or otherwise; 2% are opposed to immunization.

There are some fears out there about immunization explains Dr. Taha who said “it is the safest way to prevent communicable diseases and it works.”  There are some that believe there is a link between immunization and autism – Dr. Taha thinks the medical community has shown all too clearly that there is no link.  The one doctor who put forward that theory has lost his license to practice and the journal that published the paper has withdrawn it.

Immunization for measles is best done at the age of 1 for the first dose and then at about the age of four for the second dose.

Taha explains that the demographic that are at some risk are those born in the ‘70’s – when immunization was not as thorough as it is today.  Some of that demographic explains Taha may not have gotten that second needle.  If you get both doses – you’re covered for life.

Measles spreads easily – and there have been recent occasions when it got close to pandemic proportions.  In Europe in 2011 there were 26,000 cases with 14,000 of those in France.  Within the same time frame there were 700 cases of measles in Quebec.

The six cases found in Halton are described as a cluster which suggests there is no underlying problem but each Region has a Medical Officer of Health (MOH), each province has a Medical Officer of Health who supervises the Regions who are in place to oversee public health and to communicate with each other when there is as much as a suspicion of a problem.

Nationally there are several organizations that coordinate what goes on with each province.  The MOH has a lot of authority.  They have the power to quarantine an individual home, a whole street or a community if necessary.

Hers of cattle have had to be slaughtered because they had foot and mouth disease.

When we were experiencing SARS in 2003 some hospitals were closed to the general public.  In the 50’s some ranches in western Canada had to destroy thousands of head of cattle due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Public health is serious business – in Halton we had people who were able to quite quickly trace the development of measles and assure the public that we did not have an epidemic happening.  Government at its best.

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Measles seems to be getting a grip in Halton; Regional Health Department reports another case.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. July 30, 2013. Regional Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Monir Taha, reports  another case of measles in a Halton adult. This brings the total number of measles cases in the cluster to six. This new case may have led to exposures in public, retail and health-care settings.

Boy with measles – the signs are very clear. You will want to have mad sure a child looking like this does not go outdoors ad does not mix with other people.

“To avoid spreading illness to others, we cannot stress enough the importance of staying home and not exposing other people when you are ill,” stated Dr. Monir Taha. “Measles is contagious from the beginning of the illness until four days after the rash first appears.”

The Health Department is also recommending that persons born 1970 or later who are unsure of their measles vaccination status discuss this with their doctors.  Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles.

For those susceptible to measles, there was a risk of exposure at the following sites if you were at these locations during the times shown:

July 21: Trafalgar Presbyterian Church, 354 Upper Middle Road, Oakville, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

July 21: Sunnyside Grill, 450 Appleby Line, Burlington, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

July 22: TD Canada Trust, 3471 Wycroft Road, Oakville, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

July 23: Home Depot, 3300 South Service Road, Oakville, 9 a.m. – 12 noon

July 24: Home Depot, 3300 South Service Road, Oakville, 9 a.m. – 12 noon

July 24: North Burlington Medical Centre Walk-in Clinic, 1960 Appleby Line, Burlington, 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

July 26: North Burlington Medical Centre Walk-in Clinic building, 1960 Appleby Line, Burlington, 12 noon – 5 p.m.

July 27: Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way, Burlington, 9 a.m. –

July 28: Hopedale Presbyterian Church, 156 Third Line, Oakville, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

July 28: Walmart, Appleby Line & Dundas Street, Burlington, 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

A severe case of measles.

New measles cases are possible in non-immune people who have been exposed to this case as late as August 18.

Updated information on any new cases or new exposure sites can be found at.

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Water at the foot of Brant Street not safe for swimming. Water run off pipe might be the reason.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 25, 2013.  The Regional government does regular water testing for all the beaches in Halton and report on what is safe and what is not safe.

We noticed that in the report for this week they advise that the Beachway Park water is safe for swimming but that the water at the foot of Brant Street is not safe.

View of the mini-beach at the foot of Brant Street where people like to swim. Notice the large pipe on the right hand side in the top part of the picture. The rain run off from that pipe might be what is making that water unsafe for swimming. The geese that like that part of the waterfront don’t help either. Region might want to consider a warning sign in that area.

Given that the two are quite close together we asked the Region “why” and they replied that the Manager of Healthy Environments explains that if “water samples collected have e.coli counts above the guideline, the beach is posted as unsafe for swimming.

“The e coli results for Brant Street beach were not within the acceptable guidelines while Beachway results were. There are various factors that affect bacteria counts in water including wave action, currents, wind, water depth, storm water outfalls and the amount of waterfowl in the water and on the beach. Ultimately, it is difficult to determine the exact factor or factors that caused the difference in the water sample results.”

That made sense because there is a pipe that runs from under the Waterfront Hotel area right into the mini-beach that was created when the pier was built.  Also, geese and other waterfowl love to walk along that mini beach and people tend to feed the critters – and you know what geese do when they eat don’t you?

Might not the Region post a sign in this area advising people that it is prone to having e-coli counts higher than normal and is therefore not a safe place to swim – especially for very small children.

Other than a few beaches in the Region it looks like it is going to be a healthy weekend to go swimming.

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Air Park legal team sues the city; so we all trot off to a court room. City’s pier court case being held in the same Court House.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2019.  Are we seeing a whole new level of transparency on the part of the city?  Are we also seeing a significantly and very welcome difference in the way city hall responds to problems its citizens run into?

The city posted a copy of the Writ served on them by the lawyers for the Air Park; not the kind of thing they have done in the past – they certainly didn’t handle the pier problems this way.

When the ship is about to sink you throw everything overboard. Air Park owner Vince Rossi puts all its chips on the table and waits to see how the dice play out.

With city hall now on a summer schedule and more people away than those at their desks it is difficult for those putting in the hours to stay on top of everything.

The city was preparing for a meeting with the lawyers representing the Air Park people while the Air Park legal team was focused on the wording of a Writ they served on the city earlier today.

The Air Park is seeking a number of court orders including:

A declaration of its rights under the Constitution Act, 1867 and the federal Aeronautics Act;

This is what the fight is really all about; does the Aeronautics Act trump a local bylaw?

A declaration that the City of Burlington’s Top Soil Preservation and Site Alteration By-law does not apply to the airport’s operations and construction of aerodrome facilities at the location;

For the sake of all of us – that had better turn out to be the case or municipalities across the country have real problems to deal with.

A declaration that the city’s order to comply is null and void and of no legal effect;

                  They wish is the only comment one can make on that one

An injunction to prevent the city from interfering with its operations and the construction of aerodrome facilities at the site; and

The city isn’t interfering; it is doing what is it required to do.  The only fault on the part of the city and the Region is that they didn’t tackle this one years ago.

Costs against the city, including HST.

               The upside of this one is that the city doesn’t pay the same level of HST as the rest of the world.

The one consistent thing about the Air Park’s behaviour throughout this real mess is their tendency to bully and intimidate. The piece of equipment was parked overnight less than 50 yards from the home of an Appleby Line resident. It sat on top of a 35 foot + pole of landfill that should have never been put on the land in the first place.

That is a very ‘ballsy’ move on the part of the Air Park.  With the Environment Ministry buzzing around and the federal ministry of transport suggesting that the airport people do have a responsibility to adhere to some of the city’s rules and regulations and the Region in a position to have their Medical Officer ask some embarrassing questions and demand that the property owners do what has to be done to protect public health  – the smartest move for the Air Park was to get out-of-town and into a court room where they can ask for delay upon delay.

The injunction they have asked for could backfire – the city might well ask for an injunction and should that request prevail the Air Park would find themselves under an injunction and involved in a court case that will last years – if it gets to the point where there is actually a trial date.  If there is a trial there is going to be some very impressive legal counsel arguing before a judge in a Court room in Milton..

While all this happens the people in north Burlington, especially those whose property has been directly impacted, and wondering if they are going to get sucked into this legal black hole.  And what if papers are served on them?  They don’t have the deep pockets the city has to fight this fight.

For a city that started out the week with what they felt was a strong consultants reports to find themselves with a Writ in their hands and a date with a judge – it can’t be looked upon as a win.

However, it is far from a loss.  Desperate people do desperate things


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Did city hall find a smoking gun in the Air Park soil testing reports? Many hope so.

By Pepper Parr.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 15, 2013.  It was going to be a quiet slipping into the summer season Council meeting – but then a couple of things changed.

Much to the surprise of many the Private Tree Bylaw went off the tracks during the Community Services Committee meeting.  While the staff report didn’t satisfy anyone, there were those who felt that good debate would flush out what the issues were and that the right decision would get made.  That didn’t happen – Council voted 5-2 to basically shelve the matter. So expect to see significant debate on the Private Tree Bylaw decision that will come out of the committee report.

The major item should be the announcement the city made on Saturday – that there is a report from Terrapex Environmental Ltd. That will be released at the Council meeting.

City hall has wanted to know just what is in this landfill. A report to city council this evening is expected to reveal all. Was a smoking gun found?

Terrapex was hired to review the soil test reports that were submitted by  Burlington Executive Air Park.  Many thought there was something lacking in both the number of reports that were made available to the city and the content of the reports.  The results of the review were sent to the city Friday afternoon.  In the municipal world things tend not to happen very quickly – that wasn’t the case with this one.  As soon as the city had the report they decided to bring it before Council and let the public know what the city has learned.

It should prove to be an interesting report.

The rate and level of development at the Air Park facility on Appleby Line wasn’t showing up on the city’s radar set but when Vanessa Warren appeared at a city council meeting to delegate on the problem the wheels were put in motion very quickly and the city has been all over this issue.  They brought in the consultants needed to get details and hired very eminent legal counsel to guide them through the process of brining a developer to heal.  The speed with which the city has worked on this is very impressive.

Terrapex describe themselves on their web site as: “a dynamic and fully integrated Canadian engineering and geosciences company, providing specialized environmental consulting services.  Established in 1995, Terrapex has grown to a staff of more than 50 with offices in Toronto, Burlington and Ottawa, Ontario.

“Our primary areas of expertise include: site assessment, facilities decommissioning, contaminant management, environmental regulatory compliance and management systems, air quality services and waste management. Since inception, Terrapex has completed thousands of engineering and environmental projects for a wide range of private- and public-sector clients.”

Just what is underneath that piece of heavy equipment? Where did the landfill come from and was it properly tested?m Has the city finally got a solid grip and can now get some control over what happens at the Air Park?

Being located in Burlington was a plus – these people will know a lot about the local environment; where landfill comes from who the ‘no- gooders’ are and the tricks that get used to slip around the rules and regulations.

The city, for reasons that have not been explained, is not going to release the report until it gets presented to Council.  It would have been useful for north Burlington residents to know what the report has to say and also have a chance to think about what is reported and prepare some thoughts.  Local people will have wanted to delegate.

Is this report the smoking gun the city needs to clamp down hard on the Air Park people?  Or is it just a lot of consultant type baffle gab that fills pages to justify the invoice the consultants will send the city.

The meeting Monday evening is the last for this Council until September 3rd.  It would have been very easy for the city to keep the report under wraps and let it come out when everyone is back from vacation.  For this – kudos to city hall.  They are actually engaging and informing their citizens.  Having access to the report would have been nice.  As one wag on Appleby Line put it: “there is a council member who will have been on the phone to Rossi the moment the report was in her hands.”

In emails sent to anyone the city thought would be interested city hall said: “Burlington City Council will hear a presentation on the review of the available environmental testing reports of fill materials at the Burlington Executive Airport. Copies of the report will be available at the meeting. The council meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the 2nd level of City Hall, 426 Brant St. Burlington.”

Should be an interesting meeting; the city certainly wants you to be there.


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Three confirmed measles cases in Burlington; local retail outlets may be source.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. June 18, 2013 The Halton Region Health Department has reported three related cases of measles in Burlington.

Persons who visited the any of the following locations on June 8 may have been exposed to measles:

SportChek in Burlington Mall, Guelph Line and Fairview Street, at 1 p.m. until approximately 4 p.m.

The Collector’s Vault, near New Street and Guelph Line, at 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Al’s Source for Sports, 3485 Fairview Street, at 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

The Halton Region Health Department has followed up individually with persons who may have been exposed at a health care setting or at an organized event.

“Measles is preventable through immunization with two doses of measles vaccine,” stated Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “Persons who have measles need to isolate themselves while they are ill and for four full days after the rash first appears.”

Measles starts with cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, and fever, and after about four days a rash begins on the face and moves down the body. There may be white spots inside the mouth. Measles spreads easily to persons who are not immune. Anyone born 1970 or after who has not had two doses of measles vaccine is considered susceptible to measles. Infants under one year of age, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems can get very ill with measles. Complications of measles can include middle ear infections, pneumonia, croup, and inflammation of the brain.

If you think you may have measles and need to see a doctor, you must call ahead to the doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, or emergency department. This will allow health care staff to give you a mask to wear when you arrive and take you straight to a room in which you can be isolated. In a doctor’s office you may be given the last appointment of the day.

For more information, dial 311 or call the Halton Region Health Department at 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866 or visit www.halton.ca.

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Mountain bike races at Kelso start May 21st; registration open now.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. May 9, 2013   The weekly Mountain Bike series at Kelso Conservation Area is back this summer with races starting on May 21 and running every Tuesday until the Finale Event on August 27 (last series race August 20).

With 14 races in total and multiple distances/categories this is a great addition to your training program with some of the best climbs in southern Ontario, or a fun way to challenge yourself to achieve a personal best.

Great trails for many different ability levels on some of the best climbs in southern Ontario.

The series is now in its fifth season and often sees over 200 riders of all ability levels from all over southern Ontario and beyond. The staff at Kelso keeps the focus on fun, and has nurtured a strong and supportive community of riders over the years.

Registration is now available online, and in the Visitor Services Centre at Kelso, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Riders can also come out on May 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. to preview the trails and register on-site for the series.

Riders can pick up a discount coupon to save an extra $10 on your series registration from one of our many great sponsors, who are listed on the race webpage. Sign up for the series (14 races and the finale event) and choose to race as many as you want; or sign up for individual races whenever you want.

We encourage everyone to sign up for the series as it’s such a great value. Once again a safe, fun, challenging and free kids course will be offered at the base of the hill, so be sure to bring the little ones out for a taste of the action.

 

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We say we know all this stuff – take five to check it out anyway. Make your BBQ a safe place.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. May 2, 2013.  BBQ time.  Fill the tank and look for deals on burgers and buns.

If you haven’t used your barbecue in a while, now is a good time for a quick safety check. Of course you know all this stuff – but the teenager doesn’t – so get him or her to read this stuff over – then give them a quick quiz; let them know whose boss.

At this point you have cleared the area and called 911.

Test for leaks: Check gas tank hose on propane and natural gas barbecues for leaks.  Use a 50/50 mix of soap and water on the hose. If you see bubbles, tighten the connections and check again

Check for spiders: Spider webs and insect nests can clog tubes and cause a fire

Transporting propane cylinder: Ensure all valves are closed and plugs or caps are in place. Transport the fuel cylinder in an upright position and secure it in vehicle.

 Keep it outside:  Keep at least one metre away from the house or cottage.  Never store propane tanks in the house or in an attached garage. This includes tanks that are attached to a barbecue

Barbecues on apartment balconies: Propane or charcoal barbecues should not be used on apartment balconies.  Fire that starts on the balcony can rapidly spread into an apartment and is often difficult for firefighters to reach.  Most leases, agreements or condominium rules prohibit the use of barbecues on apartment balconies.

Safe use of your barbecue: Always open the lid to the barbecue prior to lighting; Always fully open the tank valve during use and fully close it when you’re  finished; Always barbecue outdoors in a well-ventilated area and never in a garage or shed

If a fire starts:  If the fire is near the tank shut-off, do not try to put out the fire. Get everyone away from the area and call 911. Only close the tank valve if it can be done safely.  If you are unsure, call 911.

 Pretty sure we have seen the last of the snow – Great grillin!

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Organic Farmer’s Market shifts schedule and will operate on Sunday’s – opens May 11th –

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  April 30th, 2013.  The Organic Farmer’s Market will open for the first time this season on May 11th and operate on Sunday’s from 9 to 12ish.

Traffic last year was decent but many people found the Friday a difficult day; people who worked weren’t able to stroll over and enjoy the setting.

Last season tables were laden with fresh vegetables, organically grown  Expect to see an even wider selection this season.

Barry Imber, the energy behind this project said “ the hope is that the hood will stroll over in the mornings and take their time to enjoy the people and the various things that local farmers have to offer.

“We will also have a few new vendors in addition to possibly a breakfast vendor and Tamp Coffee doing his specialty pour over coffee for the crowd. We’ll have the picnic benches out and will encourage everyone to chill out and take their time.

The Chef’s Shootout last year.  A light rain didn’t stop the event – the food was delicious.

Burlington Tourism is looking for ways they can get behind the project. While the market is hosted in a commercial location, in the parking lot behind Centro’s on John Street, the net result is a place for community and Imber hopes it is cherished and embraced as well as promoted to make it stronger.

The closing event last year was a great idea – A Shootout between two Chef’s from Spencer’s on the Waterfront – took place even though it was raining.  The Chef’s did a great job and the 40 or so people stood there with their umbrellas enjoying the food.

Wet but fun.  Hopefully Imber will hold at least one of these Shootouts this year.

The market is set up behind Centro’s on John Street.  Downtowners can just stroll on over and nosh.


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Burlington tells National Energy Board that an Enbridge pipeline leak would be “catastrophic” for the city.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  April 29, 2013  The National Energy Board has received nearly 200 applications to participate in the hearings on the expansion and flow reversal of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline that could also be used to export diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. While most are individuals, like Burlington’s Sarah Harmer, many of the applicants are representing citizen groups, private corporations, industry groups, municipalities, or the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

A Enbridge Pipeline monitoring station on Walkers Line, between Sideroad #1 and #2 will monitor the flow of diluted bitumen of the National Energy Board approves a flow reversal application. The city of Burlington has gone on record as being opposed – call the possible consequences “catastrophic”.

The controversial process imposed by the federal Conservative government requires formal applications to participate from even those who only want to submit a letter of comment, and gives the NEB the authority to choose who will be heard and in what way. Local applicants include the cities of Hamilton and Burlington, federal NDP MPs, the Hamilton 350 Committee, the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, Burlington Green, the Burlington office of Environment Canada, and numerous individuals.

Most only intend to submit a letter to the hearings currently scheduled for late August, but others are seeking intervenor status that gives them the right to speak, cross-examine, and call witnesses and present final arguments to the NEB.

The applications from Hamilton and Burlington city councils seek only to provide written comments, but both emphasize the serious impacts of potential pipeline ruptures or leaks. Burlington notes that “a major spill of heavy crude mixed with diluents within city limits would be catastrophic”.

Several applications focus attention on Enbridge’s plans to ship diluted bitumen (dilbit) through the 38-year-old pipe and point to recent disastrous spills of this material, such as in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 and on Good Friday in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Singer Sarah, a consistent supporter of the environment and a leader in the battle to prevent Nelson Aggregates from obtaining a permit to open a second quarry on the Escarpment has applied to appear before the National Energy Board to speak against approving the flow reversal of the Enbridge Pipeline that runs across her family’s farm.

Singer Sarah Harmer, applying for intervenor status on behalf of herself and her family, notes the Enbridge pipe traverses 400 metres of their Mt Nemo property and has been subjected to blasting effects from the Nelson quarry “at least twice weekly for the entire 38 year of its existence” that has cracked drywall, shaken windows and is “akin to an earthquake repeated a few times each week” at their home. Harmer and others were recently successful in blocking a new Nelson aggregate operation, in which she “engaged expert scientists, planners and government experts in the study of this area” over the last eight years.

There is a public event on Thursday evening at the Baltimore House, 43 King William Street, in Hamilton,  starting at 6:30 pm that will include speakers from several communities affected by Line 9 including Six Nations.

We are grateful to CATCH – Citizens at City Hall –  for the bulk of this report


 


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Did we miss something? How come Joe Brant isn’t on the list? No opportunity to show our appreciation for the doctors at the hospital..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  April 26, 2013.  There probably isn’t a week of the year when we aren’t celebrating something.  Every cause there is wants its fifteen minutes of fame and the doctors we rely upon to keep us healthy are no different from the Association for Unwed Mothers or the Society to Preserve the real Conservative Party in Canada.

The Region’s Physician Recruitment Initiative has asked the media to take part in the 10th annual Halton Physician Appreciation Week

Events are to be held at each of the hospitals in the Region with the Mayor of each municipality leading the parade. 

Oakville in the Physician’s Lounge  Monday April 29 – lunch at noon.  Nice touch – offer a meal and it’s surprising how many media show up – an Open Bar and you’ll have everyone who was ever given a pencil showing up.  Oakville has a really strong story to tell and with a new location under construction there isn’t going to be much negative news during that get together.

An architectural rendering of the Joseph Brant Hospital re-build. Management opted for a re-branding of the hospital for a new corporate look. when the hospital is complete it will change the way the city sees and uses Lakeshore Road; in the meantime 25% of the existing space can’t be used because the hospital says the government hasn’t given them the dollars they need,

Milton gets it call onto the stage Friday May 3 – 7:30 a.m. in the Physician’s Lounge.  They too have a story to tell with the plans for a significant addition underway.  Good news there.

Georgetown will do their thing on Wednesday May 1 – 7:30 a.m. in the Boardroom of the Georgetown Hospital.

Do you see where this is going?

A more direct view of the re-built hospital based on an architects rendering. The parking lot on the left, which will have the Family Medical Clinic on the ground floor will be the first part of a much larger plan,

Not a word about the opportunity to show our appreciation for the doctors at Joseph Brant Hospital.  How come?

Well you see – they are in the middle of a $300,000 re-branding exercise and they are struggling with the need to cut back – by as much as 25% – on the service they offer the public.  There are billboards, newspaper ads and all kinds of media presentations – but they aren’t ready yet to make themselves available for questions.

The hospital is still  smarting over the $9 million C Difficile insurance settlement that was agreed upon and they are working through the painful process of arriving at an amicable relationship with the city of Burlington who is in the process of plucking $60 million from their taxpayers pockets to pay for half of the $120 million the public has to come up with for the very significant re-build the hospital is in the process of embarking upon.

One would have hoped, and the community deserved, a public apology on the C Difficile settlement.  That matter was closed by having the insurance company write cheques.  The problem was at and with the hospital at the time and while there is a new management team in place – thy can’t just sweep this under a rug.

The first part of the re-build at Joseph Brant is a building for the Family Medical Clinic that will be an extension of the McMaster University medical operation that will be on the ground floor of the structure – with two floors of parking on top of the medical offices.  Parking has become the grandest of cash grabs for hospitals and this building is being designed to take on an additional two floors of parking. 

This is what the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital “campus” is going to look like when all the construction is completed in 2017-18 The front entrance will be oriented to the lake. That red circle on the lower right, near the number 4 will become the new entrance. There will be several entrances to the hospital. The emergency entrance will remain where it is. The Family Medicine clinic and the parking garage are at the bottom # 2 There will be a roadway through the “campus” – that’s where the number 8′s are.

The hospital in Burlington doesn’t seem prepared to let any media crawl through the place asking all kinds of embarrassing questions.  So much for appreciating the crowd over there – and so much for the physician recruitment program the Region has in place.  Oakville is going to get the best and the brightest.

Old Joe Brant must be wondering what they are doing to the land over on Lakeshore Road he was given by the British.  Fortunately there is still that Brant Trust.


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There is a reason to oppose the Enbridge pipeline flow reversal – pipelines leak.

 

 

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. April 17. 2013.  There are reasons for people wanting to oppose the changes Enbridge Pipeline wants to make to its Line 9b – the one that runs right through the Escarpment part of Burlington – pipelines leak.

There is that now significant leak in Mayflower, Arizona that has oil pooling at the end of people’s driveway.  The media picks up on the big leaks – the small ones are rarely reported publicly – but they are noted by the National Energy Board –which is where we learned of the very small leak between February 15 to March 15 in a filing pipeline companies are required to make.

Just north of Sideroad #1 – this pipeline crosses every creek and stream in the northern part of the city.  If it does leak – the least we should expect is that there be a real mitigation program in place.

It was a small oil leak from Line 9 near Westover but it adds to the controversy around Enbridge’s proposal to increase the flow rate in the cross-Ontario pipeline and begin using it to transport diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. The company’s plans are also hampered by outrage over the National Energy Board (NEB) requirement that residents complete an application form before being allowed to submit written comments on the Line 9 plans.

The newly revealed NEB rules were imposed by the federal government as part of its omnibus legislation last spring, and have generated media incredulity and even an editorial denunciation from the Globe and Mail. Local organizations like Environment Hamilton, the Hamilton 350 Committee and BurlingtonGreen  are urging individuals and groups to submit the application form as a way of challenging the restrictions and forcing the NEB to either approve applications or confirm that its review process is largely off-limits to the public.

The Ontario NDP is demanding a provincial environmental assessment; the Liberal government has said it will be an active intervener in the NEB process.

The Westover leak was reported to the NEB by Enbridge in a required monthly review of the company’s construction work associated with the reversal of flows in the Sarnia to Westover 9A section of the pipeline approved last summer by the NEB. It was discovered when exposing a portion of the pipe where a “stopple plug” was to be installed.

Enbridge’s 38-year-old Line 9 pipe is approved to operate between 585 and 805 psig(pound-force per square inch gauge),   between Sarnia and Hamilton. Its application to the NEB is to increase the flow volumes to 300,000 barrels a day and reverse the flow direction to allow shipment of western crude oil products including diluted bitumen.

While the company insists it only wants to use the Sarnia to Montreal Line 9 to service refineries as far east as Quebec City, others believe their objectives include export of bitumen through New England to foreign markets – a plan that Enbridge unveiled in 2008 but has since withdrawn.

The Enbridge pipeline monitoring site on Walkers Line – looking west. Enbridge can control the flow of oil through this location from their control rooms in Edmonton. Does that make the line safer? The satellite dish in the upper left handles the signals

The work currently underway at Westover was approved by the NEB in July last year and includes “infrastructure additions and modifications” at Enbridge’s Westover terminal, North Westover pump station, and at a “densitometer site 4.12 km west” of the pump station.

The circled area is where the pipeline runs. The only thing separating that part of the city and established neighbourhoods is the 407. Can you imagine what that would look like covered in a three inch oil slick?

Pipelines leak; always have, always will.  The danger for Burlington is that the pipeline Enbridge wants to make major changes to is very old and so far the community has not heard any oil leak mitigation plans that sound very re-assuring.  At this point the only thing that will slow any oil leak down is Highway 407 – not very re-assuring .

If your neighbours ask you to take part in this protest –sign on.  If you want to make your voice heard send the mayor an email and talk to the people at Burlington Green.

What are the chances of winning this? Next to none – Enbridge will be given the permit they are asking for – there is a national interest involved here.  The federal government wants that Alberta oil to flow east – a large part of our economy depends on that oil being sold.

We won’t be able to prevent that BUT if enough noise is made the NEB could insist on more than enough testing to ensure the line is as safe as possible and that there be real mitigation plans in place.  Maybe we can get Enbridge to report directly to all the municipalities along the line as well as the federal agencies.

Can we look to our MP, Mike Wallace to write letters and copy the Mayor on them?   Sure.

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Burlington Bulldogs Atom A’s host provincial Ontario Hockey Federation finalists.

 

 

Hockey players at the Atom A level erupting when Becky Kellar, the speaker for the event,  told the crowd that she “hated the Canadiens”.  The young players appear to have shared her view.

By Staff

Picture of the week is a banquet hall full of boys and girls at a hockey banquet with parents on hand to at least try and keep some of the noise down and they succeeded until Becky Kellar, an Olympic level hockey player who won 3 Gold and one Silver medals between 1998 and 2010 told her audience:  “I hate the Montreal Canadiens” – and the room erupted.

The energy and the enthusiasm was electric as players who were taking part in the hockey season finals banquet for which Burlington was the host community.

Kellar was telling the boys and girls that a true athlete never gives up and that they also get up off the ground when they fall and push forward.

She was there to give one of those motivational speeches that only proven athletes can give – because they have been there and understand what it takes to get up and give more to whatever the sport happens to be.  The room with teams that were in the Ontario Hockey Federation Provincial Atom A finals and were in Burlington to play over the weekend came from:

West London Hawks

Cobourg Cougars

Credit Valley Wolves

Temiskaming Puckhounds

The Burlington Bulldogs were the host team.

Unfortunately Burlington was knocked out in the semis but it could have gone either way.  It was a tie at the end of the third and they lost to West London 4-3 in overtime.

 The practice now at these events is to have a “loot bag” for all the participants which this year included a copy of The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, paid for by local dentist Berta Bacic.

 

 

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City activists seek support to oppose allowing tar sands oil to cross the Escarpment.

 

 

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 13, 2013.  People across the province and the province itself are gearing up for the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings that are expected to take place sometime in August, to hear an application from Enbridge Pipelines to both reverse the direction of the flow in their pipeline and to be allowed to transport diluted bitumen  through Line 9 which runs from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal for a length of 836 km.  The portion of that line, known as Line 9b, runs from the Westover, Hamilton terminal, crosses the Beverly wetlands and enters Burlington at the Medad Valley, and continues across the crest of the Burlington Escarpment between Side Roads No. 1 and 2, and flanks the north side of the 407 and 401 highways through Oakville and into the GTA.

Nicole Goodman, a mother and Burlington resident is heading up a group of Burlington citizens that want to invite other residents interested in collaborating or supporting an application to express local concerns at NEB hearings.

The 407 is about all there is to protect many of the Burlington communities from any oil spill.  Residents want to be assured that the pipeline is safe enough to carry dilbit oil and that there are plans in place to handle a spill.

The NEB has a policy on who can attend the hearings.  People can take part as “interveners” or they can apply to be able to submit a letter.  The province has announced that it intends to take part as an “intervener” while the city of Burlington has decided it will submit a letter setting out its concerns.

While submitting a letter might not appear to be very much those letters become part of the record that will be used by the NEB to decide if they will grant the permit Enbridge needs to reverse the flow of the pipeline and transport oil from Alberta.

The NED has not made the process very easy.  The application you have to send in to get permission to send a letter runs ten pages long, but it is not as tough as it sounds according to Emily Ferguson, a McMaster University geography student who has been following this issue for some time.

Emily Ferguson, a McMaster University graduate (last exam next week) has been covering the National Energy Board process and the Enbridge Pipeline public hearings for some time. Expect to hear more from her on this subject.

Ferguson’s home town is Kingston but her Hamilton residence gives her a look at the bigger picture and she can understand the damage to Burlington and its Escarpment and the potential for serious damage whether that pipe line crosses the Moira River in Belleville and the Cataraqui river  or the Ottawa river

Her studies as a geography student certainly don’t hurt either  but most effective is the way she digs down a little deeper to see what is happening at the ground level.  Ferguson is applying for intervener status and Our Burlington is getting her media credentials so she can cover all the hearings.

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How do we see ourselves – do we like what they are showing us; do we agree with what they are telling us?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 6th, 2013  So what do we think of ourselves and the way we are served by the different levels of government we pay taxes to?  Is asking these questions a good way to spend tax dollars?  Those are questions you get to ask when you vote next.

This is a listing of what Burlingtonians see as the most appealing aspects of their city.  How much do you agree with these findings?

What are the most important issues for Burlington? They are listed here and shown how what is important to us – relates to how important it is to others. We get to see how we are different. Do you agree with what the charts are telling you?

Quality of life: In Burlington the polling sample said they put us at 95% if you include Excellent and Good.  Other large and small communities don’t see themselves quite the same way.  You just KNOW that this bit of information will replace the very tired and worn – Second best city in the country to live in.

Most important thing the government does for you?  There are too many in the “Other” and “Don’t know” categories – suggests the people who pay for the government we have aren’t all that thrilled with what they are getting.

For now – look at the questions and the answers.  A well-respected Canadian company that has been doing public opinion polling for some time did a poll of Ontario communities both large and small and medium too – asking the same questions of a sample that was just under 400 people.

Experience with city staff.  Rankings in that “going the extra mile” could be a lot higher; other than that Burlington isn’t that different from the others.

Local government spending – this is where you want your tax dollars spent.  Roads are what it is all about – with transit at least being recognized.

Use of government services:  People are using the services government provides and they are talking to staff that don’t go the extra mile.  What does that tell us?

Are we getting value for our tax dollars?

If push comes to shove; did you want the city to increase taxes to pay for the services you are getting or would you rather they cut the services.  Mayor Goldring interprets this to mean that half of us would accept a tax increase and half us would not.  Tough call.

If the city found it had to cut services – this is the list they are likely to work from – it suggests the arts would take the biggest hit.

They broke out the individual results for Burlington and for the princely sum of $10,000 you get to learn what we think of ourselves.

Burlington is where we live but the Region provides very essential services: Garbage pick up, water, sewage and police services as well as social services. The Niagara GTA highway would not have been stopped in its tracks – at least for the time being were it not for solid support from the Region

City Manager Jeff Fielding sees that data as an important part of the process of engaging the community.

The results are interesting.

This is YOUR Burlington – do you see it the way the public opinion poll gauges it to be?

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If their parents aren’t telling them then somebody has to – Region takes on Sex Ed role.

By Pepper Parr

The Halton Region Health Department is launching the first phase of Sex Healthy Halton; a social media campaign to promote safer sex, healthy relationships, raise awareness, and reduce sexually transmitted infections. There is aFacebook page

“The landscape for today’s youth is constantly changing and evolving and we need to ensure the youth are able to get trustworthy, reliable and accurate information and services,” stated Gary Carr, Halton Region Chair. “The Health Department’s approach to service and education is reflecting these changes.”

Infections transmitted sexually are not just an uninformed teen problem – it`s n adult problem as well.

The Facebook page is the first phase. A YouTube channel with videos of Public Health Nurses answering frequently asked questions and discussing current and local topics will be launched later this fall.

In Halton, Chlamydia rates increased 173 per cent between 2001 and 2010. In 2011, a total of 833 Chlamydia cases were reported compared to 454 cases in 2007. Social media and networking sites are quickly gaining popularity as a medium.

And that is all the Region tells you.  We researched a bit and have added this:

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium. Chlamydia can infect both men and women and can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs.

How common is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In 2011, 1,412,791 cases of chlamydia were reported to CDC from 50 states and the District of Columbia, but an estimated 2.8 million infections occur annually. A large number of cases are not reported because most people with chlamydia do not have symptoms and do not seek testing. Chlamydia is most common among young people. It is estimated that 1 in 15 sexually active females aged 14-19 years has chlamydia.

There is a lot more information the Region could have provided – are we sensing some timidity here?

“There are a lot of false information, myths and misconceptions about sexual health and sexuality,” stated Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “We hope to provide a safe and trusted environment for youth to ask questions and seek answers. Social media will never replace one-to-one services or counseling, but this will open the door for discussions and education.”

Youth will be able to ask questions (publicly or privately), search for answers, connect with a Public Health Nurse, and find information about clinic locations, times and services.

You can follow-up on this: Dial 311 or call 1-866-442-5866.

There were just 13 likes on the Facebook this morning  – we will track this and see if it is serving a useful purpose or if it is just one of those mickey mouse, tepid efforts that bureaucrats who don’t want to embarrass anyone  tend to do.

A mistake made as a teenager alters a life forever and usually not just the life of the teen.  Kids get it – we just need to inform them.  This just might be one of the good ideas.


 

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Did Burlington take a first step into the future last Monday? Bike lanes on both sides of Lakeshore go in for a 6 month pilot.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 16, 2013  While the part of Lakeshore Road that has the heavy traffic, and on which the city wants to paint lanes for exclusive bicycle use, is not in Ward 1, Councillor Craven assured a Workshop talking about how to better engage the community, – that there will be letters galore on how stupid an idea bike lanes on Lakeshore is.  A view we must add which the Councillor does not share.

The different views on bike lanes on Lakeshore Road got trotted out at a four-hour meeting Monday evening at which council heard 12 delegations that basically broke into two camps – those who believe fervently that we will be healthier and the environment will survive if we can get cars off the road and those that believe they have the right to make left hand turns off Lakeshore into their driveways.

Issues like this are the bane of every politician – they can’t win.  At least half of their constituents are going to be unhappy.  This is the time when the politicians have to rise above their local interests and go for the better good.  And on Monday night – they,  for the most part, did just that.

It would have been one of those 4-3 votes that used to plague Burlington but with Councillor Taylor away it came in at 4-2 with Councillors Meed Ward and Sharman voting against the six to nine month pilot project city staff has proposed.

While there were solid arguments from intelligent people on both sides what was evident was the split in thinking.  Great idea said Councillor Meed Ward – just not on Lakeshore Road,

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, the only one without a helmet, doesn’t that tell you something, is an avid cyclist who has put his money where his mouth is.  His popularity will be tested when the lines get painted on Lakeshore Road.

Jack Dennison, who lives on Lakeshore Road and is the Councillor for that part of the city explained very carefully that this was just a pilot project, but the intention is to eventually provide bike lanes for the full length of Lakeshore Road – from the canal on the west end all the way to the Oakville border.

The cyclists and the environmentalists believe the time has come to take serious steps to lessen car use and Monday evening they got past the first hurdle.  Council committee instructed the Director of Transportation Services to conduct a trial re-marking of Lakeshore Road between east of Seneca Avenue and Guelph Line to provide on the road bike lanes and to report back to Council in the Spring of 2014 on the results of the pilot.

There are some complications in that the Region is digging up part of the road and exactly when that work will be completed isn’t certain.  When you dig a hole in the ground to get at a water pipe – you never know what you are going to run up against – so timing gets a little iffy.

Some of the residents along Lakeshore brought good arguments to the table – but nothing they said was reason enough not to do a pilot.  Right now all we have are a lot of strong feelings on both sides.  Some data will help.

The city ran into the same problem when it put in the bicycle lanes on Walkers Line and Appleby Line south of New Street.  The world was going to end – but it didn’t.  There haven’t been any problems – however, there hasn’t been a huge increase in bicycle use along those stretches of road either.

Does it need more time for the city to know if the Appleby and Walkers bike lanes were a good idea that is being used by citizens?  Probably too early to tell and it will take some time to learn if the volume of traffic on Lakeshore Road can accommodate bike lanes on the north and south side of the road, and if it is truly safe as well?

The cyclists believe it can be made safe while the people who live along the road or adjacent to it can only see long lines of cars backed up while someone waits to make the left hand turn into the street they live on or their driveway.

Jim Barnett, who lives on Shoreacres said that he has faced occasions where he has had to wait for more than five minutes before there was a chance to gun his engine and slip across the oncoming traffic.  Dr. Margarett  Ackerman spoke for herself and a number of residents and said that it was always very difficult to make the left hand turn into her hone when she was returning from the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital where she is an emergency surgeon and told of a situation when an obstetrician was not able to get to the hospital on time to handle a delivery.

Mention was made of back-ups that are 50 cars in length that sit waiting for the person at the front of the line to be able to make that left hand turn.

There were exaggerations all over the place.  Ken Love, the first person to speak spoke of the damage that cars do to our individual health and the environment; but what he had to say and his bombastic approach was so far over the top that he didn’t do much to advance the argument for adding bike lanes anywhere in the city.

One of the few occasions you will see Councillor Meed Ward or Mayor Goldring on a bike.  Councillor Dennison bikes, roller blades – big on physical stuff.  Photo op promoting the two Car Free Sundays Burlington held in 2012

Councillor Sharman spoke of his concern for some of his elderly residents in Ward 5, who might die while in an ambulance that got tied up in traffic.

Meed Ward said bike lanes were a good idea – just not on Lakeshore Road. New Street or Fairview was her choice for bike lanes.  Meed Ward does not use a bicycle.

It was hard to tell, while listening to the delegations, which way this council was going to vote.  The Mayor will usually always side with the environmentalists – but you only see him on a bike during a photo-op.

Councillor Craven surprised us when he voted for the pilot project as did Councillor Lancaster when she voted to try it.  Lancaster tends to identify with the hard-core Tory crowd along the Lakeshore and doesn’t usually go out on a limb.  Her vote was the one that made the difference.  Councillor Taylor was not able to attend the council committee but made it known that he did not support the pilot.

Dennison, a very active cyclist, takes the view that car drivers do not own the road – the road is there to be shared by cyclists and car drivers.

The bicycle crowd put forward some pretty solid data and they brought forward enough good argument to make the trial worth talking a chance on.

The issue for the cyclists is “quality of life”.  They know that Burlington is not going to be like our sister city Apeldoorn, in Holland, where a very large part of the population does not use or own a vehicle – Apeldoorn is basically the same size as Burlington and about as far away from Amsterdam as we are from Toronto.

The Dutch will be in Burlington sometime in the not too distant future to open up a commemorative park – might be a good idea to put them all on bicycles and listen to what they have to say about bicycle use in a municipal setting.

The cyclists believe that if you build it they will come.  Which is just what the Lakeshore resident fear – that the cyclists will come and muck up the flow of traffic, making it worse than it is now.

“If you add bike lanes more people bike; cyclists go out of their way to use bike lanes.”  That kind of statement sends shudders along the spines of those who live along the Lakeshore.

“We are all much healthier if we bike and get the exercise we need,”  say the cyclists.  “We agree” say the Lakeshore residents “and the city has all kinds of bike trails where you can do just that”.

Who uses a bike in Burlington? There are the Strong and fearless (1%) – you see them on the road in the middle of winter.  There are the enthused and confident; people who use their bikes frequently and would like to use them more – 5-10% of the cycle crowd.  Then there are the no way, no how people, you will never see them on a bike, they make up 30% of the demographic.  It is the 60% who are interested in using a bike but concerned about their personal safety.  This is the target market and these are the people the cycling committees want to see on Lakeshore Road.

The bike people want less hysteria, more facts and measurements.  They would like to see the left hand delays measured; they want to know just how many bike car accidents there have been as well.  During the Council committee the audience was told that there had been four accidents involving bikes over the last four years in the stretch of the road where the pilot is to take place.

Councillor Sharman, who is strong on data, gave Vito Tolone, one of the city’s traffic experts, a very tough time over the lack of data.  Tolone didn’t deserve the punching around he got; there was no need to manage him quite as aggressively.  It’s an approach Sharman chooses frequently – one hopes that when the data is available he will make good use of it and not exploit it shamelessly to convince his constituents that he is doing a good job on their on their behalf.

Lakeshore Road is between 9.6 and 9.75 metres wide from Seneca to Guelph Line.  It widens to more than 10 metres east of Guelph.

The pilot will run from SENECA, not Torrance, east to Guelph Line.

The pilot plan is to reconfigure the road and mark it so that there is a bike lane on each side that will measure 1.3 metres in width.  There will be two traffic lanes 3 metres in width.  These two traffic lanes will be separated by a lane – NOT a turning lane – that will be between 1 and 1.15 metres wide.  It is a lane that cars can edge into when they want to make a left hand turn.

Can it work?  We won’t know until we try. Will traffic still back up?  Of course, we’ve done nothing to decrease the amount of traffic on the road.   That’s a traffic engineering problem; a traffic management task – bicycles are not going to make a difference to the number of cars on the road.  The proposed plan will reduce that turning lane and that might result in a line of cars building up behind the car that is trying to make the left hand turn.  If the turning lane were made 5 metres wide – it still would not change the volume of traffic nor would it allow cars to make left hand turns any faster.

Those arguing against the creation of dedicated bicycle lanes are not looking at the bigger picture – which is to reduce the number of cars on the road.

The bicycle people argue that the world has changed in 20 years and that the youth of today are not jumping into cars the way previous generations did.  They point to a study that has younger people not buying cars and that demand will be down by 2 million units a year.

They point to data that has the percentage of 20-to-24-year-olds with driver’s licenses at 92 % in 1983 but currently at 81%; that could well be because this demographic can’t get jobs and have too much student debt to manage –but the fact appears to be that there are more younger people who have chosen not to drive a car.

The right decision, say the cyclists, is to widen Lakeshore Road – that option has a $9 + million price tag attached to it – which is half what the pier is going to cost us.

The next best, from the cyclists point of view, is to add segregated bike lanes to the existing road.

Burlington created two Car Free Sundays last year.  The one on Appleby Line was successful but the one on Brant Street was close to a disaster.

Nevertheless, there is a core commitment on the part of this city council to get more people on their bikes.  The pilot made it past the council committee stage.  Council member phones will be ringing; the emails will flood the in boxes of every council member.  Will they stand their ground or will they buckle – they are politicians.  The ones to watch are the Mayor and Councillor Lancaster.  We just may see what they are really made of.

Why is traffic on Lakeshore such a mess?  Where do the cars come from and is there anything that can be done to divert traffic?  If one wonders what traffic on the QEW is like all you have to do is check out the flow along Lakeshore.  When the QEW is basically “stop and go” in spurts at that – traffic will cut south to Lakeshore where there is at least some movement.  Is there some way to keep the traffic on the QEW and prevent it from drifting south the Lakeshore?  That’s something traffic engineers have to work out.

Concrete poured when the road was upgraded in the mid ’30’s. Known then as The King’s Highway it was THE route from Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Lakeshore Road was originally known as the King’s Highway – Hwy #2 to many people.  Construction began in 1917.  In the mid 30’s the road went through a significant re-build.  It is now a nice easy road through perhaps 50 communities between Windsor and Gananoque.

The old Highway name is now a decorative item for one of the homes along Lakeshore Road. What it becomes in the next 25 years will be at least as interesting as the last 25 years.

It’s no longer a major highway.  It many small towns it runs along the main street; in places like Burlington it is a road that could, if we let it meander along the edge of the lake where some magnificent homes have been built.  It’s a wonderful drive through smaller, picturesque communities.  We seem to have forgotten that in Burlington and see it as a road we should be able to zip along and at the same time treat as a street where we can turn into our driveway and not have to wait more than 10 seconds.

Change does not come about easily.  For years most of us smoked; for years many of us never used the seat belt and for the longest time we felt it was OK to “have one for the road” and got behind the wheel of our cars when we really weren’t able to drive safely.

Times changed.  Gas was cheap, we lived in sprawling suburbs where a car was vital – and they were fun to drive.  You came of age when you had a car and the open road was all yours.

Now we are aging.  For many that are in their 60’s their night-time vision isn’t what it used to be.  Most of us know that there will come a time when our family doctors will have to tell the government we should not have a license.  But we will be able to ride our bicycles for those small errands –and city council wants to have those safe cycle paths or lanes in place for that close upon us aging society to use.

Rob Narejko spoke to the Council committee as Chair of the Cycling Committee and said the information he was using was factual, with references to studies from accredited universities, government agencies who specialize in health and transportation. “You know my delegations are generally short and to the point”, said Narejko, “I regret, for both of us,” he added “that today’s delegation is much longer.”

For Rob Narejko – this is the only way to go – slow speeds and roads with bike lanes.  It is what he considers a quality life style.  He drives a car as well.

To put his remarks in context Narejko mentioned the value of strategy for continued viability of the City, the value of an active lifestyle and the value of the lines on the road.

“Nothing fails like success”, a quote attributed to many people and used by Narejko to show people have become comfortable with the way life is now.  “They forget the work and tough decisions that got the city to where it is now and become complacent.  The city gets stagnant, unable to attract business investment. Taxes rise, residents become disgruntled and before long, a once prosperous city is in decline” said Narejko.

Many people believe Burlington is a success. In this snapshot in time, it definitely is. But there are signs that show we are not keeping up.

Narejko pointed out that “Cars are a significant part of our city because we have designed our cities around the car. Cars are definitely needed as a method of transportation, due to the design of the city; just under 80% of people use their car for their daily trip to work.”

If it’s about “quality of life” this is probably what they are talking about.  The Car Free Sunday on Appleby Line south of Fairview.  One part of the city’s longer range project to get people using their bikes.

“A city is about people: says Narejko. “People make the city work, not cars. Bikes, walking, public areas, green spaces are about people. It takes a crisis for most people to adopt change. Smart leaders don’t wait for a crisis. They create a vibrant plan for the future, through consultation with experts and the general public and then they carry through on that plan. If you don’t act on the plan, why go through the effort of creating them, taking up people’s time, spending money on experts and then shelving the reports?  Do you want to be known as Councillors who kick the can down the road for the next Council to deal with when we are deep in trouble? Or do you want to be known as leaders who guided the City to the next level?

Rob Narejko, Chair of the City’s Cycling Committee rides a bike, a motorcycle and drives a car.  Does he ever take the bus?

Rob Narejko maintains that Council was not elected to maintain the status quo. He isn’t going to get the level of agreement he expects with that argument – there are many, perhaps most people, in Burlington who are quite happy with the way things are – and they don’t want much in the way of change.

“Look at this issue” implores Narejko: “look at Guelph Line, Brant St, Walkers’ Line, Appleby line where changes were made:   It is amazing to me how much people complain about minimal, positive change prior to it coming and then where do they go afterwards? Not a peep.”

“Has there been any negative feedback from any of the Guelph, Walker’s or Appleby projects? To my knowledge, gathered from City staff, no there have not.”

One of the dumber ideas Narejko suggested was that if traffic commute time is a priority on Lakeshore Road, then the city should pass a by-law that would permit only cars that belong to, and are driven by Lakeshore residents between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 PM, Monday to Fridays.  Narejko, who normally has useful argument, might want to pull that one.

Cycling, Narejko pointed out, is an accepted, legal and critical mode of transportation in all cities in all countries around the globe.  He added that he could hear the nay-sayers piping up with: ‘yes, but not in Burlington’

Narejko and his colleagues point out that there are strategies developed by expert and rigorous processes to guide thinking at all levels of government which Burlington Council seems to ignore. There are five provincial initiatives (Places to Grow, Big Move, Strategic Cycling Plan (draft), Healthy Eating Active Living, Complete Streets) either in place or being developed as well as two Regional initiatives (Active Transportation Master Plan (under way), Active Halton) and then the city’s Cycling Master Plan and the Strategic Plan.

“It is very frustrating as an invested citizen in this community” said Narejko, “to have to fight for what should logically be done based on strategies and advice already in place.”

This initiative did get past a Council committee – all it has to do now is get through Council at the end of the month – without another dozen delegations please, and let’s get on with the six to nine month trial and see what the data tells us.

But it isn’t going to be quite that easy – is it?

 

 

 

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While we pretend it is the winter season – the city announces the winter break with camps and programs for children and teens.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON December 5, 2012  The city has plans to help you keep your kids active, engaged and entertained this winter break with camps and programs for children and teens.

The programs run from December 27, 2012 to Jan. 4, 2013.

There are many activities to choose from:

If we get some snow – the kids just might be able to enjoy a Canadian winter – before Christmas?

Holiday Drop-In Family Gym – Drop by the gym and enjoy active time with your child

Festive Fun – Four days of seasonal crafts, songs and activities for your preschooler to enjoy

Holiday Mini Blast – Let your child use their imagination – games, crafts and much more!

Holiday Junior Blast Daily swimming, gym time, outdoor activities, crafts and more

No snow? There are always swimming pools. Check out the available programs and register for a spot.

Holiday Junior Blast – Special guests, daily swimming, active gym time and more

Holiday Outdoor Opportunity Blast –  Creative and fun program for teens with disabilities –  special guests, daily swimming, active gym time and much more

Extended Care Holiday Blast – Extended Care is available for all Tansley Woods Holiday Blast programs

Youth, eight to 16 years, old looking for programs offered in the city can choose between:

Holiday Tripper Blast – Trips every day: laser tag, movies, rock climbing and an indoor water park

Home Alone – Prepares children to stay home alone or with a sibling for a short period of time

Babysitters’ Training – Youth will be trained in childcare, child development, safety, their rights and responsibilities and more

To register, call 905-335-3131 or visit www.burlington.ca/recexpress.

The  full list of the City of Burlington’s activities during the Winter Break.

 

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Self-realization and the meditative state – all you ever wanted to know at a free class at Burlington Hills this Saturday.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 4, 2012   If you’ve ever wondered what meditation is; what a Yoga class is  really like but you don’t want to join anything – you just want to sit in and see if there is something there for you – then an event this Saturday, December 8 from 3-5 pm at the Brant Hills Community Centre may be of interest.

If you do go – what are you in for?

Here is what is on the agenda:

There will be a talk by two academics on the Restorative Effects of Sahaja Meditation techniques. There will be testimonials, some guided mediation, live music and  Indian Kuchipudi dance

The group putting on the event has been doing this for more than seven years in Burlington.

Their Sahaja meditation classes take place Wednesday evenings at Brant Hills.

The event this Saturday will be tied into an event taking place in Paris,  France.

Mediation and Yoga are different, millions swear by it, but it isn’t for everybody – it’s a matter of personal taste and the way you feel life should be lived.  If you’re curious – give it a try.

More on the agenda:

A video introduction  to Self-Realization & R/Evolution (video)

Experience Spontaneous Meditation & ‘Yoga State’ on Live Indian Drum Music (Ahilan)

Kuchipudi Dance Performance (Hema)

Chakra Workshop & Joyful Indian Music Performance

Practitioners of meditation will talk about the benefits.

You get a chance to find your “Yogi Buddy”.

The event is free – these people are serious and committed about what they do.

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When do we reach our 50% level? Soon said Torsney, soon. Dig deeper today and we could be there tomorrow.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 1, 2012   The United Way campaign for Burlington and Greater Hamilton has reached that first wonderful number of 50% – at least for those on the other side of the Bay.  Half way is a nice place to be with any objective and the Hamilton crew is doing very well.

Burlington does have a bit of catch up to do – they are at 50 % of their $2.1 million target.

Combined Burlington and Hamilton are at 50% of the 2012 goal of $7.1 million.

Paddy Torsney assures us that the lower Burlington number is due to the slower start of the campaigns at some companies – “start later/numbers come in later”, commented Torsney who is more than confident that the Burlington target will not only be reached but exceeded.

Torsney plans to exceed the $2.1 million that was to come from the Burlington community.  That is going to mean an extra push but if the Christmas decorations on Burlington homes are any indication as to where the economy is going – then there are dollars in those pockets that could make their way to the United Way.

Chair of the Burlington side of the Burlington/Greater Hamilton United Way campaign Paddy Torsney frowns when she sees the total for Burlington’s $2.1 target being at just the 50% point. She wants to exceed her target.

“We are seeing an increased demand for services that is putting incredible pressure on our programs,” said the Hon. Paddy Torsney, 2012 Burlington United Way Campaign Chair. “Many of these programs rely on United Way funding, which means now more than ever we need our citizens to step forward and support the United Way campaign. We have people in this community facing homelessness, children going to school hungry, seniors in isolation and families in crisis. If individuals and businesses in Burlington and Hamilton donate today, we can reach our goal and we can provide the vital funding necessary to help people in-need, right here in our community.”

There is still time to donate and it has never been easier. Visit the United Way website where you can donate online, or contact the United Way by phone (905-527-4543 or 905-635-3138) if you would like more information on donating in person, through your workplace or at the leadership level.

The funds raised by the United Way of Burlington & Greater Hamilton support 131 programs and services in the community, assisting seniors, individuals, families and children in-need – many of whom live below the poverty line.

Bringing the money in is a large part of the job; figuring out where it should go is another part of what United Way does.  The organization itself doesn’t run programs – it funds agencies that run program in each community.

One of the more innovative programs that has been around for some time is the Halton Food for Thought program It has been operational for more than 15 years.  Their focus is ensuring that students in school do not go hungry.

Ask anyone who works for or volunteers with an organization committed to helping feed those in need and they will tell you the same thing: people simply don’t realize the level of poverty and hunger in Halton Region, and even if they do, they don’t appreciate how many children are affected.

Ask Gayle Cruickshank, Executive Director of Halton Food for Thought, if there is a hunger issue with children and she’ll let the statistics speak for themselves: Halton Food for Thought runs 146 food programs at 104 different schools; there are 16,000 students in need; and they serve two million meals every school year. Depending on the neighbourhood, somewhere between five and twenty-five per cent  of children go to school hungry.

With that enormous challenge at hand, Cruickshank is extremely grateful to the many partnerships she has developed, including a very important one with ReFresh Foods and Food for Life.

We talked with Gayle Cruikshank a few days before her AGM and got some of the background on just what Food for Thought does and how it interacts with the United Way.  Food for Thought is one of the many not-for-profit organizations that receives funding from the United Way. They receive just 11% of their funding from threeUnitedWays. Or if you want just Burlington it is 7%

Getting a number of Food Trucks to congregate in the one place was a really brilliant idea that Food for Thoughtusedto raise funds with other agencies for the United Way

Getting a number of Food Trucks to congregate in the one place was a really brilliant idea that Food for Thought used to raise funds but also to tell the United Way story.

They have to raise the rest of the money themselves which at times means getting creative.  Cruikshank came up with the idea of arranging for a number of Food Trucks to congregate at the one location in the commercial/industrial part of the city where there are few places to get a quick lunch. She convinced the Cup cake Diner, Gorilla Cheese and HankDaddy BBQ to show at a parking lot on Harvester Road outside the Burlington United Way office. .  To everyone’s surprise and delight – the Cup cake truck sold out in less than half an hour while the other two had line up sixty people long.  Expect to see more of that kind of fund raising next year.   Food for Thought raised $800 with the one Food Truck event; enough to feed  five students for one year.

While ensuring that a student is properly fed is vital – it’s a bit more than just feeding them.  It’s an opportunity to teach students solid nutritional lessons and to form up the link between the Public Health nurses and the social workers.

While ensuring that a student is properly fed is vital – it’s a bit more than just feeding them.  It’s an opportunity to teach students solid nutritional lessons and to form up the link between the Public Health nurses and the social workers.

Students that aren’t eating properly usually have social and or health issues.  Add to that. The shame that some feel when they need help getting by.  These students often live in assisted housing and have just the one parent in the house.  The pattern is the same time and again.  Hard for the student and depressing for the Food for Thought volunteers because they know the cycle can be broken.

Gayle Cruikshank got her first look at Food for Thought in 1997

Cruikshank’s first look at Food for Thought was when she attended an event at her daughter’s elementary school in 1997 when Darlene Edmonds was running the program.  It didn’t take long for something to happen: Cruikshank was invited to sit on an Advisory Board and that led to her taking over the running of the organization when Edmonds moved on in 2001.

The focus then, and still very much the focus now was to ensure that every student was eating nutritious meals every school day.  The link between decently fed students and good grades plus good social behaviour is what justifies everything Cruikshank and those running the Food for Thought program do each day.

It costs about $180 per student per school year to ensure they are fed through a healthy breakfast.

At their AGM, held at Robert Bateman high school where Murray Zehr did the honours and got things set up. The Food for Thought team was on hand which included: Carrie Baillie, Oakville Program Manager; Julie Bertoia, Burlington Program Manager; Chantal Ingram, Director of Programs; Maureen McLaughlin, Halton North Program Manager; Maria Moutsatsos, Edible Garden Coordinator and Kelly Stronach, Manager of Program Development

Kelly Stronach , Manager of Program Development works closely with Gayle Cruikshank, Executive Director of the not for profit Food for Thought.

During 2012 the organization started ten new programs while 17 schools increased service days to ensure students had access to healthy foods every day.  They expanded their Farm to school program to 13 schools involved and started five new edible school gardens. It was a busy year.

“G”, a student who participates in the meal card program sent in her thanks for the help she gets. Properly fed she has seen an improvement in her concentration and thus her academic performance. She will graduate with enough credits to continue her education.

“M” also sent his thanks.  His teacher had said there were behavioural issues. “M” used to go home for lunch often eating only a pop tart. Since the healthy snack program started he has been enjoying the healthy food and behaving much better. He now stays at school for lunch instead of eating at home alone, his social skills have also improved.

A 16 year old student who had been referred to the social worker at high school for continually  skipping classes and at times missing full days of school. The social worker discovered that he was parented by a single mom, lives in low income housing, and was diagnosed ADHD and depression. After much discussion about future goals the student and the social worker talked about engaging him in a co-op placement to gain work experience.

The student was given meal cards to ensure he was having at least one meal a day. When asked to fill in the career ideas booklet he placed very high in create arts and because he enjoys food so much he did the coop in the school cafeteria which he enjoyed immensely. He attended this placement daily without fail and was seen in the cafeteria preparing delicious lunches for students and staff. He has applied to the Culinary Skills, Chef Training – at George Brown College.

Gayle Cruikshank, Executive Director, seated and Kelly Stronach, Manager of Program Development: two of the seven member team that make Food for Thought work day in and day out as one of the United Way funded agencies in Burlington.

These are just three stories from the hundreds of schools involved; these are stories of United Way funds supporting local agencies deliver support where it is needed.

This is an organization that serves us all and especially those students who don’t have the support most of us grew up with.  Gayle Cruikshank and her team of volunteers do that work on your behalf – let’s continue to make sure they have the funds they need – at this point Burlington is at the  half way point to a very modest goal.

The theme the United Way works under is: Change Starts Here.  That could be your loose change; see what you’ve got in your pocket right now and commit to giving that each week throughout the year.

Beth Deazeley, Neil Oliver, and Patty Pelekis joined the Food for Thought Board of Directors this year for two year terms.  They join Maria Nancy Thornton, Chair; Cheri Chevalier, Vice Chair; Nicki Glowacki, Treasurer; Margaret Maronese, Chris McNamara, Jessica MacKay, Reg Farnand and Phil Simeon.

 

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