You can swim anywhere you want on the Burlington waterfront – can’t do that in Oakville.

By Staff

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton and they are saying that based on July 31st monitoring.

If you live in Burlington – the Beaches are all safe. Oakville isn’t as lucky.

For the most recent information, the Health Department recommends that residents visit Halton Region’s website before visiting Halton beaches. The following beaches are safe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Oakville – Coronation Park West

Now you know why Burlington is the second safest city in Canada.

Return to the Front page

Doctors have learned how to spin the facts and manipulating public opinion from the politicians. Truth is they just want more of your money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 1, 2012  According to a press release from the Ontario Medical Association – a lobby  that “represents the political, clinical and economic interests of the province’s medical profession.” , the provincial governments plan to unilaterally cut $1.1 billion in health programs and fees will force wait times for medical procedures to go up and patient access to care to go down. That is the clear message a panel of local doctors will deliver to concerned Burlington citizens tonight at a town hall meeting.

They don’t tell you where the Town Hall meeting is taking place nor do they tell you who the concerned doctors are.  The do provide quotes from a surgeon and a family physician.  No Burlington contacts for either doctor were provided.

“In its most recent annual report, the Burlington area local health integration network missed 12 of 14 performance benchmarks for patient care, including longer wait times for cataract surgery, hip and knee replacements, and MRI exams. Wait times for all four of these procedures increased from the previous year and, as a result of these cuts, could continue to increase. More than 21,000 physicians are being negatively affected by just the first round of the McGuinty government cuts, including the physicians who perform these tests and procedures.

By “negatively affected” the doctors mean they will not earn as much as they would like to earn.

What our doctors are paid is determined through honest, transparent negotiations between the provincial government and the Ontario Medical Association that represent the doctors. The OMA has begun using scare tactics to mislead the public – they can do better than that.

“In addition to longer waits and reduced access to care, the planned cuts will also mean patients who still don’t have a family doctor will either wait longer to find one or won’t be able to find one at all. Information recently released by the Ontario Medical Association reveals that more than 927,000 patients in Ontario, including 132,000 children, still do not have a family doctor, and the province is short more than 1,000 doctors. A recent Nanos Research survey shows 41 percent of Ontario’s doctors would consider moving to a more welcoming jurisdiction and 33 percent would consider retiring early if the government cuts continue.

The nice thing is that these doctors can afford to retire early.

The government is being fiscally prudent with both the teachers and the doctors in Ontario. They would of course like to earn more; teachers would like to be able to bank those sick days, doctors would like to see increases to their fee schedules.  But every dollar that a doctor or a teacher gets is a dollar that comes out of your pocket.

Dr. Ved Tandan, a surgeon says “Ontario doctors want to provide the best patient care possible. For my patients, wait times are already too long, but they are bound to get even longer if the cuts to health programs and fees are allowed to continue.”

Is Dr. Tandan saying he will not continue to manage the workload he has if he is not paid more?  Then we will bring in more doctors from other jurisdictions and have then take up the work load Dr. Tandan doesn’t want to handle

What he is saying is the family doctors will not be paid as much as they want to be paid.  What they are paid is something the doctors have to negotiate with the government.  Using scare tactics to sway  public opinion has been used by the medical profession  before, hopefully the public will see their comments for what they are.  They have little to do with your health and more to do with how big a piece of the pie the doctors get.



Return to the Front page

Your summer cukes“ and tomatoes could get the “treatment” from an organic cook.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012  Have you got baskets of fresh produce on your kitchen counter because their was a produce stand on a country road you were not able to take a pass on?   Maybe you were one of the lucky ones to get a plot in the Community Garden behind the Library ?

Michelle Gatien, who is the Market Cook for the Harbourside Organic Farmer’s Market in Oakville is going to put on a cooking class at St. Christophers Church next week.

While I don’t personally think there is any limit on how much fresh asparagus one can eat – there are those who wonder at times what to do with all the fresh food.

Michelle Gatien, who is the Market Cook for the Harbourside Organic Farmer’s Market in Oakville is going to put on a cooking class at St. Christophers Church next week.

Michelle asks: Need to know what to do with all those” cukes” and tomatoes? Join us in the kitchen to explore seasonal recipes and preserves with ingredients straight out of your garden.`

$5 fee. St. Christopher’s Church, 662 Guelph Line, Tuesday, July 31 at 7 pm. Register to attend and you are entered into a draw to win a prize!

The event is being promoted by BurlingtonGreen and is one of those community things that tends to pull together people with similar passionate interests.

Gatien takes gardening and cooking very seriously.  Her blog has almost daily entries on what has popped up and what the heat is doing to her vegetable garden.

Return to the Front page

Farmer’s Market: List of vendors grows; some products sell out very quickly. Preserves and espresso coffee will be available.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012  Well the price of cherries went through the roof and the peaches aren’t exactly being given away – pears are going to be a bit on the pricey side as well – all due to the nasty little trick nature played on the fruit crops with warm weather and then a dash of cold air thrown around.

Fresh produce, fresh meats, new customers. Every Friday new faces show up, asking questions, buying fresh from the farm products. Friday 11- 2 on John Street north of James – back in behind Centro Gardens

But the Farmer’s Market on John Street – back in behind Centro Garden – adds new offerings each week.

Tree and Twig Heirloom farm that is doing preserves this Friday at the market which is open from 11-2.  The Heirloom Vegetable Farm focuses on foods linked to our past which is an exciting way to try new and unusual tastes, shapes and colours.  In the last century, we have lost 90 per cent of our vegetable varieties — a tragic loss of diversity and a threat to our food security. It is important to stop this trend and, as growers and consumers, look for alternatives.  These vegetables are grown for taste.  Sounds interesting

Casteleyn, the Belgian Chocolatier located on Brant will be serving espresso coffee at the market.  If you’re not wide awake by the middle of the day – a double espresso will do it for you.  Nine year old Andres, son of  the  Casteleyn proprietor will be doing the serving.  Barry Imber, one of the organizing forces behind the market is “ very excited about having these young people be involved – they are the future of our entrepreneurial town.”

Damian Wills, he runs the Farm to Table Meats, will be at the Market again and is offering game sausage on top of his regular fare.

The current offerings from Featherstone Farms does not include foul or eggs but the pork and bacon they have is superb.

Featherstone Farms will also be at the market again – they are regulars,  with their pork offerings.

These fresh meat producers can take custom orders and have them on hand for you to pick up.  From time to time I like to poach really thick pork chops in orange juice and then lay them on a bed of rice with a ginger sauce I make and pour over the food.  That with side dishes of green beans and asparagus and a bottle of chilled Chardonnay – makes a meal for me.

The Cheese Gypsy will be foraging for new and exciting local and regional cheeses and offering tasting notes along with the cheese for folks to take home and share the knowledge with friends.  She will be at the market for the first time on August 3rd.

As we get into the fall, Gibbs Honey will be back with the next batch of his product – it sold out in a flash last time.  The next batch, his second harvest; will be a lighter but more floral flavored local honey. You might want to go on line and reserve a jar.

The Farmer’s Market exists so that people can connect directly with the people who grow and produce some of the food we eat.  Meeting and talking to these vendors gives you an opportunity to create a one-on-one relationship.  Featherstone Farms – (289) 337-3375 and Farm to Table Meats could become your personal butcher.  Something to think about.


Return to the Front page

Pint sized swimmer with courage galore and a mission to boot, plans to swim Lake Ontario & land at Spencer Smith Park August 18.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 23, 2012  The first thing that occurs to you when you see Michele Benoit is her size – she’s close to tiny, and then the question: wasn’t a long distance swimmer supposed to be quite big enters your mind.

This is what a 42 year old pixie of a long distance swimmer looks like. Look out Lake Ontario – she is coming your way.

And you wonder too – a 42 year old is swimming Lake Ontario – isn’t that a game for younger people.  When you meet Benoit – you are a little stunned – she doesn’t look 42 at all – maybe 32, somewhere in there.

But she is going to swim Lake Ontario starting at night out of Port Dalhousie and swimming the 45 km to Burlington where she expects to land at Spencer Smith Park – ideally in that small “instant Beach” that has been formed on the west side of the under construction Pier.

Why would someone this age decide to swim across Lake Ontario?  We will get to the why in a bit.  The how you get yourself physically and psychologically to the point where you can start and actually finish something like this is an incredible story.

Benoit was born in Montreal and lived a childhood that had her believing anything was possible.  If you really wanted to do it – you just did it. She took ballet. She was always a good swimmer – placed very well in the provincial finals in the province in breast stroke.  Other than that her only really emotional experience related to swimming was when her Mother came close to drowning.

Benoit was one of those children that no one quite knew what to do with.  She was bright, hugely energetic and driven.  But there was no direction in her life.

The family moved to Ontario and Michele studied Landscape Architecture, which in those days wasn’t what it is today.  During her time in the field it was mostly doing the front of commercial buildings or parking lots  – very little art in the architecture she wanted to practice. “I wasn’t happy doing the work I was doing”, explains Benoit.

Like every young person growing into adulthood – there were some rough spots and Benoit has had her share of those.

Were it not for the fact that we know Michele Benoit is going to swim across Lake Ontario August 17-18th – the picture suggests she is a model for wet suit swim wear.

With the landscaping world going nowhere for her, Benoit, who has always been fit, got into personal training and ended up as the Aquatics Director at a Burlington health club where she worked for six years.

Health, physical fitness, good nutrition – there was a sense of direction revealing itself by the time Benoit enrolled as a Natural Sciences student at McMaster. “I thought of dentistry but it didn’t take long for me to realize that wasn’t my calling” says Benoit.

Well then what was her calling – and here is where the Benoit story takes one of those twists you read about but don’t quite understand.  “A friend asked me to go to church with him and because I knew that his faith life was important I went.  I was baptized a Catholic and I went to Mass at Christmas and Easter.  I knew about Jesus but I’d never read the Bible.   I knew about Noah’s Ark but God wasn’t part of my life.”

But then, suddenly, Michele Benoit came out of a very sound sleep and had a very up close and personal relationship with God.  She then knew she was going to swim across Lake Ontario and raise money for people in Africa.  Weird ? – not for Benoit.  Did she have a complete plan in front of her – sort of like a blue print?  Nope, but for her it was as plain as the nose on her face and that is the force that drives her.

There is more to the Michele Benoit story; how she prepares for an arduous 45km swim across one of the hardest lakes in the world; how she exercises and prepares both physically and emotionally.

We will follow this remarkable woman and her quest.  If supporting something like this financially – click into the web sitethat was set up with more of the story.

Meanwhile – we will stay with this story and keep you up to date.

Return to the Front page

Second car free Sunday – this time in the downtown core from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Dennison will be on skates, city will pick up the tab.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 13, 2012  Burlington is going to pull out all the stop for this second car free Sunday.  The first car free day was in the east end of the city where large parts of Appleby Line were closed to cars.  Turnout was good – could have been more but it was far from a disaster.

Now that the city administration knows the public can be gotten out of the houses and onto the streets to have fun and mingle – this second effort in the downtown core will leave officials know if this kind of thing can be done more frequently.

There wasn’t all that much opportunity for the retail market to experience all that much of a boost on Appleby Line – but Brant Street has a much different commercial makeup.  Merchants can take advantage of larger crowds and perhaps even see more in the way of traffic than they see on a good Saturday with cars on the street.  It’s a gamble but something has to be done to get people out on the streets.

Streets that will be car free Sunday July 15th. Read the detail carefully.  Full lane closure on Brant Street between Blenheim Street and Lakeshore Road.The north two lanes on Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and Locust Street will be closed and the northbound lane on Locust between Lakeshore Road and Blenheim Street will be closed. 

The stretch of city streets that will be closed on Sunday between 2 and 7 pm will include:  full lane closure on Brant Street between Blenheim Street and Lakeshore Road.

The north two lanes on Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and Locust Street will be closed and the northbound lane on Locust between Lakeshore Road and Blenheim Street will be closed.

The initiative came about when Councillors Dennison and Sharman took the idea to Council where the Mayor who is an environmental advocate bought into it and while Councillor Meed Ward didn’t buy into the idea at first she was big enough to admit that she hadn’t gotten it right the first time but knew a good thing when she saw one and dug out her blades and joined the parade.

The Downtown event will feature different groups with their tents out on the street one of which will be the Community Engagement Charter crowd  – and they need help.  This is a group that has the right idea but has not managed to attract nearly enough people to their cause.  If things continue the way they are going this city might find itself with a Community Engagement Charter written by a group of less than 50 people.

The group will have a table and a tent at Caroline and Brant – drop in and hear what they have to say.  They are talking about your city and how it can work better.

The Country & Blues BBQ Festival will be taking place in Spencer Smith Park

The Burlington Teen Tour Band will parade during the event.

There will be food and drink vendors out on the street, there will be a Marketplace and Pony rides.

There will be live music from Tori Sutherland, Harrison Kennedy, Michelle Titian, Mary Simon and the Hill Brothers.

One of the Mayors favourite city’s, Portland Oregon, has been doing things like this for years and our Mayor is convinced events like this can work and are good for the city.  Let’s see if he is right.  What matters most with this event is this – will is draw people from Aldershot and the communities north of the QEW hump?  If it does, it will be a great success.

Getting people from all over the city, not just those who live in the core and can ride safely to the stretch of streets that will be closed.





Return to the Front page

Water safety report – Region changes the way it measures and reports for Burlington Beachway.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 13, 2012

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.

Hundreds of families used Beachway Park on Canada Day – they had no way of knowing if the water their children were swimming in was safe to use. That weekend the water to the left of an imaginary line was safe, the water to the right wasn’t. There was no signage telling the public about water conditions.

Beach water monitoring on July 10 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Oakville – Coronation Park East

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

• Burlington – Beachway Park

• Oakville – Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach

Burlington Beachway Park North and Burlington Beachway Park South have been combined and will be reported as one beach: “Burlington Beachway Park”. Samples and monitoring will be done along the entire length of the beach and an average of all the bacteria samples will determine whether the beach is considered safe or unsafe.

Up until this change the Region had chosen an arbitrary line in the lake and called one part Beachway South and the other Beachway North.

Up until very recently this imaginary boundary in the lake defined parts of the lake that were safe or unsafe for swimming. That boundary has been discarded. Now all the Region needs is signs along the Beachway Park to tell the public if the water is safe or unsafe.

Some confusion was created over figuring out how the water on one side of a line could be safe while water on the other side the water wasn’t safe.

The Region solved that problem by removing the imaginary line and telling us that all the water is unsafe.

Now, all they have to do is post signs along the Beachway Park so those who don’t read Our Burlington, maybe don’t even know about us yet, can know if the water they swim in is safe.

On Canada Day there were hundreds of families in water the Region described as unsafe.

The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 500,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; emergency medical services; waste management; public health; social assistance/Ontario Works; children’s and seniors’ services; social/non-profit housing; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development.

Effective signage, in more than one language would be an effective way to communicate public safety.

Return to the Front page

The Plan is looking very sweet – honey will be available at the Friday market.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 11, 2012   The first harvest is ready!!!  The jars have been readied, the tags are printed and the product is now on sale.  There will be between 60 and 70 lbs.  available.  It will be on sale at the new farmer’s market held every Friday from 11 – 2 on John Street just north of James Street back in behind Centro Gardens.

Of course there is more than just natural honey on sale but let’s let Russell Gibbs tell the story about the honey; it’s quite a tale.

Russell Gibbs – a beekeeper and a graphic designer – with a sweet tooth.

“This harvest is the first bloom of the 2012 season, our bees forage on a variety of plants and this early summer harvest is full-bodied and rich – some of the best honey I’ve had in a while if I do say so myself. It’s a true Southern Ontario wildflower honey. It’s also packaged quite beautifully

The real thing – from the hive to you in a re-usable Mason jar.

Honey is available now through the beekeeper (me) for $10 per 500 g jar. We have 60 jars and this will be available until it’s sold out. There will also be a late summer harvest which will be available in September 2012.

A couple of notes about our honey;

– Our honey is as “straight from the hive” as it gets. We extract the frames, filter, then bottle it.

– All real honey will crystallize over time, if that happens just place the jar in warm water (without the lid) until it softens up – don’t boil or put it in the microwave.

– Our honey is more expensive than others, why? For starters its not mass produced. We’re a small batch/small operation and not only are we focused on the quality of the product we also believe in quality packaging.”

Russell Gibbs comes from a long line of bee keepers. The family “beeyard” around 1950.

Gibbs Honey has been around since the 40′s, maybe even before the 40′s? in various iterations and incarnations.  The first beekeeper in my family was my great grandfather Albert Gibbs. He kept a couple of colonies on the farm, which is what most farmers did back then. When my grandfather Michael took over the farm he decided to expand the operation and sell honey. He kept close to 100 hives, that number went up and down throughout his career as a hobbyist beekeeper. My uncles eventually took it over from him and grew it into a commercial operation, they own and operate Gibbs Honey in Dalkeith, Ontario on the family farm. My cousin Jason is researching Sweat bees with Cornell University, last year he discovered 19 new species.

Gibbs Honey in Dundas, Ontario is operated by Russell Gibbs, a 4th generation beekeeper and graphic designer. Russell got into beekeeping, while searching for a deeper connection to his family history and nature. It all started when his Dad gave him his old beekeeping veil and a copy of “The Hive and the Honey Bee” by L.L. Langstroth. After reading lots of other books, taking courses and finding a beekeeping mentor he decided to go out on his own. Russell kept two hives in 2011 and is expanding to 8 for the 2012 season.


Return to the Front page

Plan B is taking hold – downtown farmer’s market growing. Open every Friday from 11 to 2

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 9, 2012  Her name is Alice and she is close to being the “breadwinner”, along with a herd of goats,  for Featherstone Family Farm on Guelph Line just past the heart of Lowville.  Alice shares the 25+ acre property with a herd of goats, all kinds of foul – chickens, ducks – a whopper of a sow and piglets galore.

Ruby – mother to dozens of piglets, lays in a cool spot away from the sucklings.

That plus three children who scamper about with next to no clothing – they are of an age where you can do that.  All is carefully watched over by Michelle Macdonald while her husband works the tractor mucking out the barn.

Chris the boarder, with Alice and Daisy the dog. The two brown beef cows are being grass fed for fall.

Chris, the boarder who lives in a trailer, rounds out the picture of the family at Featherstone Farm who are part of Halton’s rural community that includes not only the tony equestrian set but small market farmers who choose to live a different life style.

The first week of the Farmer’s Market, held every Friday between 11 and 2 in the John Street parking lot behind Centro Garden, went well.  The offerings were small but the atmosphere and the family feeling was worth the effort and the time.

The farmer’s market is still working through it’s identity – it is a part of something known as  Plan B, which is exactly what you would expect – the plan behind the first plan you had.  Except these people are focused on healthy eating and getting produce from local farms onto local kitchen tables.

Lettuce from California doesn’t make a lot of sense to the Plan B people.  Trucking food across a continent isn’t really sustainable from their point of view.  Focusing on local and knowing a bit more about the people who provide your  food is the direction they favour and anyone who sees the worlds the way the Plan B people do – might want to mosey along.

Barry Imber, a graphics designer by profession, has a thing about eating well and eating local produce, decided Burlington needed something downtown that was organic on its focus and he sort of made it happen.  The first week went well; the second Friday was blisteringly hot and it too went well.

Soap being readied for sale sits on a beam in the kitchen – “best place to cure it” says Michelle Macdonald, farm operator

The third Friday will see some additions to the offerings.  Michelle Macdonald will be bringing some hand made soap that is now ready for sale.  Made on her farm with pork lard, goat milk, lye and pure essential oils.  Some with lavender sprinkled into the soap square. They are currently in her house sitting up on beams where it is getting ready for sale.

The Macdonald farm sells eggs from the farm gate – there is never enough to go around.  They sell bacon and other pork products.  They use the milk from their herd of goats for other products they produce.  They are raising two beef cattle that will be ready for market later in the year.

The third week will see some growth in terms of the products offered and, if a Burlington resident chef who is well known and respected in the area for their passion for local natural foods and gastronomy, does not see the birth of a child they are expecting , they will be on site filling in the gaps with beef and game this week and eventually cheeses and other related products.

This chef – you have to be there Friday to learn who it is, will be drawing from his extensive list of natural food producers and farmer relationships will be doing some sample cooking and demonstrations from time to time.

Imber explains the situation thusly:  “The tentative thing here is that he is about to have a baby any minute so there is a chance he just can’t make it. I’ve insisted that the market not be a thought in his mind if it’s at all challenging to juggle a new baby, husband responsibilities and frozen meat.”  That “frozen meat”  is a clue I think to whom the chef is.

In the event that the baby arrives –the chef will be at the market on the 20th.

Featherstone was one of the mainstays at the first session of Burlington’s Friday Market that is held on John Street right behind the lush Centro Garden.

The Burlington initiative may get some coverage in Pure Green Magazine from Huntsville.  They will be joining the crowd at the market on the 20th.

So – the Plan B farmer’s market is taking on a life and style of its own.  Imber is working on a bakery source to add to the offerings.

Return to the Front page

City will debate how much they want to take from your wallet and when they propose to actually pick your pocket. JBMH funding.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 8, 2010  A city council committee will consider a contribution agreement confirming how and when the city will contribute $60 million toward the redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, subject to the conditions within the agreement.

The city agreed in principle to put up half of the $120 million the province required the community to contribute to the redevelopment of  a hospital built in 1961. The last major update and refurbishment was more than 40 years ago.

Problems cropped up when the hospital suggested the city pay for the building of the parking garage that was needed early in the redevelopment.  Cars had to be given a place to park so that space could be used to dig a hole in the ground and begin the actual construction the hospital hopes to see started before the end of the year.

City council has possession of this file – which means reports and site plans go to a council committee where they get debated and discussed..  The usual practice for Council is to delegate this to the Director of Planning.

The City approved a contribution of up to $60 million in December 2009 , with the intention of preparing a contribution agreement between the city and the hospital. The go-forward strategy,  approved by City Council in April 2012, called for the city to negotiate a contribution agreement that provides for the “responsible and timely release of funds.” Four negotiation meetings were held between the negotiating teams for the city and the hospital in May and June 2012.

These were very contentious meetings and while everyone has kissed and made up the city at the time insisted on knowing what was going to be done with the money they drew from taxpayers.

Mayor does the usual political speak and tells taxpayers the agreement with the hospital represents a milestone – he could have said it represents a “millstone” to the taxpayers and been just as correct.

In typical political bafflegab Mayor Goldring said: “This agreement is an important milestone in the much-needed redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.  We want to ensure that we have the best agreement possible for taxpayers while ensuring high quality health care for years to come.”

Assuming the contribution agreement is approved by City Council on July 16, the city’s contribution will go toward the purchase of equipment for the second phase of the hospital’s redevelopment, which includes construction of about 288,000 square feet (21,182 square metres) of new hospital space, including a new six-storey south tower; construction of a new power plant; and the renovation of about 116,000 square feet (10,777 square metres) within the existing hospital building.

Construction of the hospital is planned to begin in December 2014 and will take about three years to complete.   Before that construction can get underway the hospital has to clear some land and build a structure that will include a parking garage.  This first phase is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and finish in early 2014. It will include construction of the parking garage and administrative space that will house the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre. City funds are not contributing to the first phase of the redevelopment.

In a prepared statement city general manager Scott Stewart, General Manager of Community Services said: “On behalf of the staff negotiating team, I am pleased to bring forward what we believe is a responsible draft contribution agreement for council to consider.”  He might have added that there was a lot of arm twisting and muttering under their breath to get to this point.  Stewart deserves credit for landing this one; the hospital administration did not make it easy.

The construction of the additions to the hospital will orient everything towards the lake and result in significant changes to the traffic flow and to the way people see Lakeshore Road and the Beachway community.

By the end of 2012, the city will have a total of $8.4 million in the bank collecting interest. A total of $4.8 million came from a special tax levy. City Council also earmarked $3.6 million from previous years’ surpluses in 2009 through 2011.  The 2012 tax levy amounted to $7.49 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

City Manager Jeff Fielding said at a council meeting that a $60 million undertaking will be the biggest Burlington has ever done and it represents a significant long term expense for the taxpayers.

Stephen Friday, JBMH chair will bring a different style to the role he now plays. He has a strong working relationship with the Mayor which will help. He also has the smartest collection of ties in the city.

Up until very recently hospitals were a provincial responsibility – that changed when the province looked to the municipalities for a portion of the funding where new, significant developments were being done.  If the municipality is at the table financially one would hope it would have more input on the operation of the hospital – which would result on a significant change in the way the city and the hospital administration work together.

There is now a new chair at the hospital. Susan Busby who spent more than 15 years with first the hospital foundation and then the hospital board took a well-earned retirement.  She has been replaced by Stephen Friday who brings a significantly different operating style to what he does and has a background that included working with very senior managers and was a major force in one of the larger asset management firms in Ontario.

There are opportunities now for both the Mayor of the city and Stephen Friday, the new hospital chair to fashion a different working relationship that will reflect the changing times.






Return to the Front page

The first of West Nile virus tests in the Region show POSITIVE results in Oakville and Milton.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 26, 20112  West Nile virus positive mosquitoes have been found in Halton Region

Batches of mosquitoes collected last week in Oakville and Milton tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). These are the first batches of positive mosquitoes found in Halton Region this year.

“Positive mosquitoes are a key indicator of the risk of human West Nile virus infection. This is the earliest we’ve found West Nile virus in Halton, which is likely due to the mild winter and very warm spring.

This is how the West Nile virus is transmitted..

“Typically we don’t see positives until late July or August,” said Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “The reality this year may well be that the whole summer, not just late summer, will pose risk for human illness from West Nile virus.

“Our main message is that no matter where you live in Halton, protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially if you are an older adult or have underlying illness.”

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

•       Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

•       Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

•       Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

•       Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

A map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied is available on the Health Department’s website.

To report standing water or for more information about West Nile virus, please dial 311 or call Halton Region at 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-4HALTON (1-866-442-5866), TTY 905-827-9833 or e-mail



Return to the Front page

Beachway Park North not ready for swimmers yet – Region reports on water quality.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012  – The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.

Beachway North is not yet safe for swimming

Beach water monitoring on June 19 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

• Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

• Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

• Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

• Burlington – Beachway Park South

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Boundary markers for Beachway Park North and South

• Burlington – Beachway Park North

• Oakville – Coronation Park West

Return to the Front page

Hospital and city negotiating team do kissy, kissy and figure out just how to get city money to pay for hospital equipment.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 20, 2012    The negotiating teams for the City of Burlington and Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital have agreed in principle to a contribution agreement that will spell out just what the $60 million the city will be funneling over to the hospital is going to be spent on.

The plan, as explained to council committees is for the city to pay for equipment that will be used in the hospital rather than have city money used to pay for a parking garage, which was the original thinking on the hospital side of the table.

The city will be advised of the purchases and have funds in a reserve account to pay the bills.

The demolition of an old government building was the first step on the road that will see a significantly different hospital for Burlington sometime in 2015. Hospital expects to have shovels in the ground before the end of the year - all they have to do is get site approval from the city.

Mayor Goldring has explained that the city is going to have to borrow to meet this obligation.  The $60 million represents close to half of a one year residential tax levy for the city.  It is the biggest financial undertaking the city has ever done.

This one has been a long time getting from conception to birth but it is apparently ready for council committee and then full council on July 16th at which time we will officially be $60 million poorer.

The city has just over $8 million salted away and, if the agreement says what we’ve been told, the balance will get paid out over a period of time with the actual flow of funds beginning sometime in 2014 – and then stretched out over a period of time.

The city will work with the hospital to determine when they need funds to pay for equipment purchased is needed.  Maybe we should just give them a city corporate credit card and have the hospital put the cost on our plastic and the city can collect Air Miles.

Cathy Robertson is the "voice" of the city's negotiating team with the hospital.

Cathy Robertson, Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance, is a member of the negotiating committee and has become the voice for the city on the details of the agreement.

In December 2009, City Council approved up to $60 million as a municipal contribution for the proposed hospital redevelopment plan. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has also committed to raising $60 million through a fundraising campaign.

In August 2011, the province confirmed that the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment project was approved. The project, with a budget of more $300 million, will result in a significantly rejuvenated hospital. In April 2012, the city approved a go-forward plan for funding and negotiations that took place in May and June 2012.

“City staff recognize what a large contribution this is to the hospital and how important that contribution is to the people of Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of Community Services. “We have worked with hospital administration to make sure we achieve the best method possible of providing the needed funding for Joseph Brant while managing the city’s money effectively. We look forward to confirming that agreement.”

Schematic of what will go where on the hospityal property. The parking garage is on the far left.

Negotiations got a little contentious at one stage.  When the hospital realized that paying for the parking garage was just not on the city they came up with the idea of having the city pay for furnishings and equipment.  You have no idea what a modern hospital bed costs.

The city collected $1.2 million in 2010, $1.2 million in 2011 and $2.4 million in 2012 through a special tax levy. City Council earmarked $3.6 million from previous years’ surpluses, and now has $8.4 million committed in a reserve fund earning interest. The 2012 tax levy came to $7.49 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

“I believe we are in good shape with this proposed agreement,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “I think it will strike a balance between the need for City Council to be careful with how we spend taxpayers’ money and the importance of managing Burlington’s health care needs for today and for future generations.”

Golding delivered the keynote address at the hospitals AGM recently and attempted to lay the groundwork for a different relationship with the hospital.  Stephen Friday was elected the new chairman of the hospital board.  He and the Mayor have worked together in the past and hopefully the hospital Board will be able to work with the city in a more beneficial way for everyone.

The redevelopment project includes a new tower on the hospital site, new operating rooms and in-patient beds, a new intensive care unit, as well as renovations to diagnostic services and to the emergency department.

Return to the Front page

Oppressive heat leads to longer public pool hours at LaSalle, Nelson and Tansley.

By Staff

BURLINGTON  ON  June 20, 2012   The city of Burlington has  extended the pool hours for the following  locations. :

The best way to keep cool - in a public pool. Hours for city pools extended.

LaSalle Wading Pool

11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Nelson Wading Pool

4 to 8 p.m.


Beats the heat doesn't it? Your tax dollars at work.

Tansley Woods Pool

4 to 9 p.m.


This extreme heat can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and even death. The public is asked to take precautions to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and to keep a lookout for the most vulnerable in your community.

Return to the Front page

Hospital board recognizes 17 years of leadership and brings in a new chair with great neckties. Good omen?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 14, 2012  The Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital held their Annual General Meeting and instead of being a real yawner – turned out to be a bit of a fun event with the newly elected chair, Stephen Friday showing not only a tie with vivid colours, something not normally seen in the medical community but also displaying a rich sense of humour.  Thus guy might be fun to work with.

Incoming JBMH chair Stephen Friday - with ties like that, you just have to like this guy.

A relaxed for chair, Susan Busby on the right talks to Board member Brenda Hunter.

Susan Busby, a woman who has served the community for more than 17 years at JBMH, turned the gavel over to Friday but not before the hospital treasurer told the audience that there was a surplus of $22,000 for the fiscal year that ended March 31st.

Financially the hospital is one firm footing.  The Foundation has $12 million of their $60 million in hand; they raised $295,000 at the Crystal Ball.  The Hospital Auxiliary committed to raising $5 million which is a record for this city and probably for any other city near the size of Burlington.

The audience did everything but give President and CEO Eric Vandewall a group hug – can you see him handling that – and went on to hear what Mayor Rick Goldring had to say as their guest speaker.

Before the Mayor got going someone leaned toward me and said “Busby would make a very good Council member”.  Wonder which ward she lives in?

The city and the Hospital are almost at the “sign the agreement” stage on how the $60 million the taxpayers are going to contribute to the re-development will be spent.  Mayor Goldring in his comments pointed out just how big an expenditure that amount is for the city.  “It represents about 50% of the annual tax levy. We will have to borrow to meet the commitment. Our current total debt for the city is approximately $90 million and this will have to be increased.”  So for Burlington – this is not small potatoes.

There was a very nice letter from the provincial Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deb Matthews to outgoing Chair Susan Busby that was framed and presented to her.

While the dollars are important Goldring was in the room to talk about a “healthy community” and didn’t limit his definition to health to how big are stomachs were or how we felt but saw healthy community as one where everyone was pulling together in the same direction.

The past year has been awkward for the city.  Council didn’t like the idea of being asked to pay for a parking garage and also didn’t feel it was in any sense a partner with the hospital board.  There was tension which Goldring doesn’t feel is part of a healthy community.

He pointed out that Burlington” residents identified the hospital as their  number 1 priority by almost 70%. Residents are clearly willing to contribute, and if need be, see spending controlled in other areas of the municipality.”

Council however is responsible to its taxpayers and they are going to be diligent and ensure that funds are spent wisely.  In other words the city wasn’t going to just write a cheque and leave it at that.

“The hospital and city staff, have been working towards a contribution agreement for about six months now and I believe we have found a way to make this work for all parties.”

“The agreement that we are working to finalize, will see the city contributing $60 million for equipment purchases for the hospital. This gives the residents transparency as to how their tax dollars are being spent.”

“The i’s are being dotted and t’s crossed and we are hopeful that the final contribution agreement will be brought to Committee the week of July 9th with approval anticipated at Council on July 16.”

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna yukking it up with the girls at the JBMH annual general meeting.

While the McMaster University decision to designate Joseph Brant as a teaching facility came as a bit of a surprise to the city Goldring pointed out that the McMaster Halton Family Medicine Centre will add significantly to the level of service at the hospital and provide additional accessibility to care for our community.

Goldring pointed out that the city is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in Canada and he wants the  hospital to reflect that.

Goldring went on to define his idea of a healthy community as being about more than the healthcare system. Using  Canadian Senate Sub-committee on Population Health data he said about 25% of health outcomes can be contributed to our healthcare system.

The other major contributors are education and income, which together are estimated to account for 50% of health outcomes, and the physical environment which accounts for 10% of outcomes. Biology and genetics are thought to contribute the balance.  Municipal government plays  a significant role in the overall health of a community.

There was a time when municipalities owned and ran their hospitals; then the provincial government took over that responsibility and we appear to be going back a bit and looking to the municipality to be a bigger player, which the Mayor appears to welcome.  And to be a player the city needs to be at the table.

Average household income in Burlington is $115,000 per year, which is 25% above the provincial average.  40% of Burlington households have an income over $100,000 .

However, poverty is  a challenge. Although not fully evident to everyone in Burlington, we have almost 10% of the population living at or below the poverty line. We have over 3500 families living in poverty in our community.  Our food banks have become a growth business in Burlington. Over the last two years demand at the food banks has grown by 20% per year.

The City provides affordable opportunities for all. Seniors centers’, libraries, public transit, recreation and cultural events all help to level the playing field and provide an improved and affordable quality of life leading to positive health outcomes.    Municipal Government operates long-term care facilities and supports or provides certain mental health services. We work with the LHIN to fund and coordinate some of these activities, but perhaps not to the level that we each could.  These all dramatically impact the health of our community.

With the City and Region involved in so many of the important areas that impact the overall health outcomes of the community, how should we be working better together?

And that was the critical question – because the hospital and the city have not been able to work together all that well.  When it takes six months to work out how the city’s $60 million contribution is going to be spent – you know there are problems.

Goldring wants the hospital to think aloud with him asking

1. How do we define a healthy Community? What would it look like?

2. How would we measure it? What critical measurements would we focus on?

3. What objectives would we set? How would we establish objectives that were meaningful?

4. How would we prioritize and fund these objectives within our individual areas of responsibility? Would we be willing to give up anything within our silo for the greater good?

5. Could we work together, share information and be more effective and efficient?

6. Understanding all the bureaucratic roadblocks that exist, would we be willing to pilot solutions that make Burlington a Healthier Community?

The city and the hospital haven’t been able to do this so far.

The hospital is now working flat out to get shovels in the ground by the end of the year and will take a site development plan to city council in the fall. The overall layout for the site is shown above.

The near completion of the Redevelopment Memorandum of Understanding is a significant milestone”, said Goldring.  “All of us need to be united 100% behind the work of the foundation and the campaign cabinet and be advocates and contributors in order for us to reach our local share target.

“Let us look at the redevelopment process as the beginning of a much bigger conversation within which we can leverage the positive goodwill in the community and the great work the city and region do so that Burlington will be not only the best city to live in Canada but the Healthiest City.

“That is the question I want to leave with all of us.”

Did they hear the question?  Will they head the question? Time only will tell.  There is a new chair that Goldring knows well and has worked with in the past.  Stephen Friday certainly sounded as if he was open to a new working relationship.  Hopefully he can bring about a better working relationship.

Return to the Front page

Water testing indicates the real start of summer. Not all area beaches are safe for swimming yet.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 8, 2012 The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton. Beach water samples taken on June 5 revealed the following beaches have acceptable levels of bacteria and are safe for swimming:

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Not all the area beaches are safe yet.

The following beaches have high levels of bacteria and are unsafe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park North, Beachway Park South

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach

Residents can also call Halton Region to find out which beaches have acceptable levels of bacteria or which have been posted as unsafe for swimming due to poor water quality. Beach water quality information is available 24 hours a day by dialing 311 or calling 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866 or TTY 905-827-9983.  During regular business hours ask for beach information, and after regular business hours press 2 for health information.

Return to the Front page

Mayor wants to Inspire: Be younger next year, live strong,fit, and sexy, until 80. Mayor is selling snake oil; sexy author helping.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 6, 2012  Mayor Rick Goldring has upped the ante with his Inspire speaker series – bringing in  motivational speaker Chris Crowley, who has been on the New York Times best seller for a book he co-authored with Henry S. Lodge M.D.  They’ve sold over a million copies and have been translated into 20 languages worldwide.

Crowley a refugee from Wall Street, will be speaking at the Ron Joyce Centre, DeGroote School of Business on June 12, 2012 at 7 p.m.  The online registration is now closed. If you would like to attend – please call 905-335-7607.

Admission is Free and open to all; seats available on first-come, first-served basis with registration. We will be offering a shuttle bus service from the Burlington Downtown Terminal at 6:15 p.m., with one stop at the Burlington Mall in the parking lot on the north west corner at 6:30 p.m. and arrival at DeGroote for 6:45 p.m. The shuttle will return along the same route, leaving DeGroote at approximately 8:45 p.m.

If audience reaction is any measure – Crowley is going to be a smash hit:

“Chris spoke to our manufacturing leadership team last Saturday morning. Wow! What a hit! Everyone is talking about it and they want to know when can he come back! I strongly recommend Chris to anyone, who is interested in improving their health or influencing others too improve. ”

—Dave Clark, VP of Operations, Bath Iron Works (Builder of major, surface ships for the U.S. Navy)

“What a pleasure!…All the audience responses rated you ‘excellent’. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.”

“From the moment you began until the very end, you had the audience’s undivided attention . You were ENTERTAINING, INFORMATIVE ANED DEFINITELY THOUGHT PROVOKING. You are spreading AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT IS CHANGING LIVES EVERYWHERE. How rewarding that must feel for you. Congratulations and keep up the good work.” ”

Teresa Trembreull, President, The Business Bank, Minneapolis Minnesota

“Chris spoke at the annual retreat of our informal group of senior executives and I have to say he was one of the most inspiring speakers we have ever had over the two decades we’ve been getting together. Our views of the future were completely changed and each one of us is already at work becoming younger next year.”

Joni Evans, Former Chairman — Simon & Schuster, super agent at William Morris etc. New York City

“Let me say how much I and everyone else enjoyed your talk at La Quinta. You were terrific!”

David Beck, President — American College of Trial Lawyers

“What a home run! You were the perfect catalyst and Keynote Speaker for our “Reversing The Aging Process …Symposium….a trumpet call that gives us hope.”

 Bill White, CEO THW Design, International Architects, and Founder, The Vital Nation. Atlanta, Georgia

“He is a terrific speaker, the topic was electrifying and our members loved it.”

 Tom Kittredge, Mountain States Young Presidents Organization. Charleston W. Va.

So – what is all the fuss about?  According to the blurb on the book – here s what Crowley is talking about.

“Turn back your biological clock. A breakthrough book for men—as much fun to read as it is persuasive— draws on the very latest science of aging to show how men 50 or older can become functionally younger every year for the next five to ten years, and continue to live like fifty-year-olds until well into their eighties. To enjoy life and be stronger, healthier, and more alert. To stave off 70% of the normal decay associated with aging (weakness, sore joints, apathy), and to eliminate over 50% of all illness and potential injuries. This is the real thing, a program that will work for anyone who decides to apply himself to “Harry’s Rules.”

Newsweek magazine had this to say:

What can you say about a 70-year-old guy who can kick your butt in spin class? Outdoors, it’s below freezing, and, though technically morning, still dark as night. But there he is, bouncing along on his stationary bike like a jack rabbit and grinning happily at his heart-rate monitor, while I, nearly 30 years younger, manage to keep up only by visualizing coffee. “Just 20 minutes till coffee, just 12 minutes till coffee…”

When the class is over, he places one leg up on the bike seat as if it were a ballet barre and gracefully touches his nose to his knee. Back at his apartment, over a bowl of oatmeal and bananas, he chats nonstop about fitness. The coffee arrives quickly, thank God.

Looks pretty good for a 70 year old. Might be worth listening to.

Meet Chris Crowley, who, together with his doctor, Harry Lodge, is on a mission to change your life. Their fast-selling new book, “Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond,” is a wisecracking but scientifically serious guide to health for middle-aged men who may be looking at their widening paunches, their aging spouses and their fast-approaching retirement dates with helplessness or panic. “Younger Next Year” has one main message: stay very fit and you will live a healthier, happier life, with more sex and less depression, well into your old age. What sets the book apart from its self-help brethren is its ebullient personality–which is mostly Chris’s. Describing himself as “lazy and self-indulgent,” Chris laces his very practical how-to advice with hilarious, self-effacing personal anecdotes, like the time he skied so hard “it hurt to sleep.” Then, just when Chris’s abundant cheeriness starts to grate, 46-year-old Harry steps in with sober chapters on body chemistry, which explain why fitness is the best medicine.

On this point, Chris and Harry are zealots: living a sedentary life is not just lazy, it’s lunacy. That’s why they follow what they call “Harry’s Rules” and think everyone else should, too. There are seven, chief among them: “Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.” And “Quit eating crap.” Any book that advocates an easier way is, says Chris, “horses–t.” A lapsed fitness buff with plenty of excuses–a full-time job, a toddler, a life–I’m hoping these guys can get me back on track.

Chris and Harry met five years ago, when Chris began searching for a doctor in New York City. They liked each other instantly. Both grew up near Boston and share similar, old-school values having to do with discipline and hard work. At their first meeting, Chris was 40 pounds overweight and exercised only sporadically. Harry was already profoundly frustrated by the number of his patients who had diabetes and other “lifestyle” diseases. Harry started preaching the benefits of intense, regular exercise, and it wasn’t long before Chris got religion. He took up spinning, lost 40 pounds and began hounding Harry to help him write this book.

Chris is the flamboyant one: he’s larger than life. Married and a father by 20, he had two more children in quick succession, divorced at 32, made partner at the white-shoe Manhattan law firm Davis Polk at 37, married again, divorced again. After a long stint of dating (see chapter 20 for a wonderful description of a middle-aged man trying to ascend a ladder to a loft bed in a young woman’s studio apartment), he married again in 1993, and this time, “we’re never getting divorced.” Chris writes like he talks, in full paragraphs laced with profanity, but always hammering at his point. “I’m a world of fun and all that, but I’m a closet Virgo,” he says. “Very, very disciplined.”

Harry is the earnest one. Built like a cross-country runner, Harry works out each night on a 1970s-era NordicTrack machine he bought used for $25. He prides himself on being a “mildly Calvinistic Northeasterner. I tend to eat small portions and I don’t like spending money.” His passion is his work, and the quick success of their book fills him with joy. “We think we’re going to start a little revolution,” he says.

As for me, I’m trying. After that humiliating spin class, I vowed to follow Harry’s rules but already I’m slipping. I’ve eaten egg rolls for dinner and brownies for lunch. I’ve skipped scheduled workouts. As inspiring as they are, it turns out Chris and Harry can’t make you go to the gym, and reading their book won’t make you healthier either. The best they can do–and they know this as well as anyone–is give you a kick in the pants.

Return to the Front page

Hospital Foundation has $12 of its $60 million in hand, city will use its $60 million to pay for equipment and furnishings.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012  They appear to have changed something, maybe it was the water, maybe it was the music – maybe someone spiked the water – whatever – the city and the hospital administration are about to do kissy, kissy and make up.

Mario Joanette, vice president communications for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital,  attended the Budget and Corporate Services Committee where Council was given an Update on where things are with the hospital.  We wish to report that they are much, much better.

We can now tell you what the $60 million the city is going to give the hospital is going to be spent  on.  We got an upgrade from having our money spent on a parking garage.  The funds the city gives the hospital will be spent on things like operating room equipment, an MRI machine perhaps, furnishings for some of the hospital rooms  – all stuff  the hospital would have had to buy out of their own funds – will now be paid for with money the city provides.

Here roughly is the way that will work – the hospital will buy a piece of equipment and tell the city what it cost and the city will write a cheque and will keep writing cheques until they have spent $60 million.  Pretty straight forward.

Demotion of an older building underway. Site is where the new parking garage will be built. City money will not be paying for this structure.

The city will also work out a list of the kinds of things they would like to pay for – we don`t want to be seen as the donours of just vases for the hospital waiting room.

It took months to get this worked out and over that period of time the hospital has come to realize that the city is just not going to roll over and let the hospital dictate what happens to our money.  It has been a struggle.  Councillor Taylor called the agreement that has been reached a “great compromise”. The hospital administration has had and continues to have a problem with transparency.

During the Committee meeting Councillor Dennison asked how much had been raised at the Saturday evening Gala.  Joanette strode to the podium and said – he wasn’t able to say – but he was able to say that they  raised more this year than last and they had their largest event ever.  Now Councillor Dennison has been at this game a lot longer than Joanette and he asked – `How much did you raise last year?  Joanette couldn’t duck that one – $250,000 he  replied.  So this year the Gala raised more than  $250,000 – Wow, talk about pulling teeth from a hen.

Councillor Dennison knew he was on a bit of a roll and he asked” how much had been raised in donations to the re-development fund?  That turns out to be $12 million – THAT is a very good number.

$12 million certainly isn't chump change - good start to what is going to be a long fund raising campaign. When the voice mail is from Anissa Hilborn - do return the call.

No announcement from the hospital Foundation about that number.  There have been no announcements – the hospital to the best of our knowledge hasn’t said anything – yet.  Actually, it is not the hospital that should be making that kind of announcement – it should be coming from the President of the Hospital Foundation Anissa Hilborn or the Chair of the Fund Raising Committee – Brian Torsney.

Something still isn’t running the way it should at the hospital.  For reasons that aren’t quite clear yet,  the hospital isn’t tied to the community.  That responsibility rests with the hospital board – the members of that Board are the people that are the public’s link to the hospital – but for some reason – that Board chooses not to say much.  They seem to defer to the hospital administration.  And that has resulted in a rocky relationship between the city and the hospital.  It need not be that way – it shouldn’t be that way – but it is.  Unfortunate.

However, there is hope on the horizon.  The hospital will hold its Annual General Meeting in about three weeks and Mayor Goldring will be the keynote speaker.  That may be the first step in closing the rift between the two institutions and will give the Mayor an opportunity to talk about the kind of relationship the city needs with its hospital.

The agreement on where the city’s money will be spent is expected to be final sometime in June when a revised Contribution Plan goes to Budget and Corporate Services July 10th and to city Council July 16th.

With that irritant out of the way the next hurdle is the site plan for the re-development.  That kind of business usually gets handled by the Planning department but it has been un-delegated and is now handled by council  Planners have been meeting weekly with hospital people and they expect they will be ready to come to Council for site plan approval sometime in the fall.  There is considerable pressure to get the site plan approved so that the construction can begin.

Councillor Craven threw a small spanner in the wheels on that one when he reminded Council that the project could not go to a committee for approval until it has been presented to the community and that there are no meetings in August.  That’s a little awkward isn’t it?

What matters for the citizens of Burlington is that their Council has assured itself that the $60 million the city is putting up for the redevelopment will be spent on things the citizens will find useful.  We don’t have to worry about bricks and mortar or watching milestones.  They buy a piece of equipment for a hospital that has already been built and we pay for it.

Later in the year the city gets to see the site plan and approve it.  There will be sufficient public involvement.  The hospital has retained a “design consultant” to prepare a “campus plan” showing the full development of the site that will include the parking garage/administration building and the hospital expansion/redevelopment.

The city planners and hospital people met recently and held a Design Charette to talk through different ideas on what could work and what wouldn’t work.  Submission of the draft campus plan is expected by the end of June – which is where Councillor Craven sees the log jam – if it comes to the city at the end of June it has to go to the community and then to a council committee and then to Council and all that has to happen during the month of July – and that’s not possible with the meeting cycle Burlington uses.

Watch for a Special Council meeting to bunt this one home.

Return to the Front page

Those with thick wallets and cheque books have needs too; hospital fund raiser brings understanding and experience to raising money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  –  The combination of very dark intensive eyes, energy galore and drive to spare, resulted in her serving as president of the Student Council at University of Western Ontario where she ended up doing fund raising for student events.  It was that look into her future at Western that Anissa Hilborn probably didn’t appreciate at the time but something she realizes now – fund raising was to be part of her journey.   She was going to raise funds for organizations that needed financial support.

Anissa Hilborn: Smiles on the job, brings a sophisticated approach to her fund raising work - Saturday night the announcements get made - how much has been raised to date?

After some exceptional fund raising work, which we will come back to, she is now the President of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation and tasked with raising $60 million and perhaps then some in an 18 to 24 month time frame.

She brings a combination of diplomacy, persistence, a lot of class and an ability to fully understand the needs of the donours she is meeting with to the job.

Pulling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to make up that $60 million also calls for a level of management skills.  There is a fund raising Cabinet that Hilborn works very closely with – this is very, very much a team effort.

“Fund raising” Hilborn points out “is an emotional business – you put everything you have into it – and then some.”

First phase of the re-development construction has started - funds have to be raised to pay for the work being done.

Currently a resident of Oakville Anissa and her family (twin girls) plan to move to Burlington when the school schedules can be worked out.

Hilborn serves under Brian Torsney, Chair of the Foundation.  We can expect to see Hilborn serve under a succession of Foundation chairs.

Hilborn has worked for one of the granddaddy of the fund raising groups; the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – an organization that went through a massive transformation from a location where patients with mental health issues were dealt with in a way we couldn’t think of doing today.

The CAMH had to not only re-develop themselves but at the same time had to educate the public on the changing approaches to mental health and then begin raising the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build the kind of organization that could meet the newly identified need.  It was a massive public relations job and a little appreciated fund raising achievement.  Hilborn comes to the JBMH Foundation a fully tested and proven fund raiser.  She certainly has her work cut out for herself here.

Prior to joining the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation Hilborn was with the ErinoakKids Foundation; an organization that dealt with a wide range of physical and/or developmental disabilities, communication disorders, autism.

Hilborn did the fund raising for a foundation that had more than 650 staff and 8 sites from which they provided a comprehensive array of medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families.  ErinoakKids worked from a family-centered philosophy with the focus on the strengths and resilience of their clients and their families.

She will work in much the same environment in Burlington.

Fund raising for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital comes together this Saturday night when the Annual Crystal Ball is held for the second year at the Mercedes Benz dealership on North Service Road.  It would be less than true to say that some of those attending the event will drive their Mercedes to the dealership and have their cars serviced while they wine, dine and dance the night away.

It will be an important occasion for the fund raising task the Foundation has before it now – there is $60 million that needs to be raised to match the amount the city is required to put up.  The city can tax its citizens, professional fund raisers don’t have that kind of power but they do have the gentle art of persuasion.  Some funds come from corporations who have a policy of supporting the community and a hospital is certainly a vital part of any community.

Some families have created trusts and they have a mandate to distribute the funds they hold to special places.  Hilborn has to convince them that the hospital is a very special place.

Waiting at the Foundation office door for donours to arrive. They will all be treated very, very well.

There are other situations where a family has suffered a tragic loss and they want to use some of their money to create a legacy, a lasting public memory and want to do so in a very unobtrusive yet meaningful way.

“Every donour brings their needs to the table” explains Hilborn “and my job is to be sure I fully understand the needs and am aware of the sensitivities that may be involved.  It is about a lot more than money.”

At the same time there are the realities of the larger world that have to be dealt with.  While the economic health of Burlington is  good – the 2008 recession left some deep scars that are still being dealt with – business isn’t what it used to be and along with being aware of and sensitive to the personal needs Hilborn has to be aware of the economy she is working in.

Holding the Crystal ball at a Mercedes Benz dealership is somewhat removed from the day to day life that the average Burlingtonians who will be using the hospital has to deal with.

The announcements that get made Saturday evening on just where the fund raising is at this point are important – critical actually.  It is vital that the community understand the significance of this first announcement.

The event takes place less than two days from now.  The hairdresser appointments have been made, the gowns are fitted or back from the cleaners.  The men will move from the casual wear that is quite common in many offices to the shiny black shoes and the tuxedos that may have been let out a bit.

Have fun!


Return to the Front page

JBMH wants the money but they don’t seem to want to say how they will spend it. They will want a quick site plan approval.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 8, 2012  There was a line from the film Cool Hand Luke, that starred the late Paul Newman, where a prison guard said “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  At the time Newman was doing everything he could not to communicate.  The ending was a tough one.

One got the feeling that while delivering a very brief update to a Council Budget and Corporate Services committee meeting, General Manager Scott Stewart wanted to use those words but chose to be a little more diplomatic, which for Stewart is a stretch at the best of times.

City General Manager Scott Stewart doesn't take this smile to hospital meetings.

Stewart reported that the city had not been able to arrange a meeting with the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) until sometime in August to discuss the Contribution Agreement that is to be signed between the hospital and the city.  That’s the document that is going to take $60 million of your dollars and slide it across the table to the hospital. The city has just over $4.8 million of the $60 million saved already but we are going to have to borrow much of the rest of it so the hospital can begin the build.

Stewart added that it looked as if the agreement would get worked out between the city and the hospital by email; which has got to be about as archaic as it gets – they are less than a twenty minute walk away from each other.  Saying they are not available until sometime in August is basically the same as saying: ‘we don’t want to talk to you, so go away – but send us the money you have to give us’.

Apparently the real reason for not being able to meet before sometime in August is a combination of  vacation schedules, commitments that can’t be broken – we all go through those problems.  However, if you really want to meet – you make it happen.  Unless of course there is a problem that is insurmountable – and that would be what?  Wait for it.  The lawyers, the lawyers can’t clear time for a meeting until sometime in August.

What are the lawyers doing in the room at all?  Surely senior city people and senior hospital people can put together the basics – all we are doing here is setting out what they will do with the money we send them – then give it to the lawyers and let them make sure that all the niceties are covered, shake hands and then deliver the cheque.

Is the city negotiating with the hospital?  We will know when the Contribution gets to a city council committee.

The city is required to help fund the renovation of the hospital and it has taxed its citizens and used a significant portion of last year’s surplus to come up with our share.  The hospital has to raise an additional $60 million.

Burlington does not have a choice in this matter – the province mandated that we give the money to the hospital.  We apparently don’t give the funds directly to the hospital corporation but to the hospital Foundation which in turn passes it along to the hospital.

The relationship between the city and the hospital corporation is getting a little caustic.  The city needs an agreement that sets out a “responsible and timely release of funds” and given that we are going to have to borrow much of our contribution we would like to be able to plan the flow of funds.  Burlington maintains a very strong, positive relationship with the Performing Arts Centre where more than half a million dollars is sent every year.  They find a way to work through the differences with the Seniors basically because they meet and work through the issues.

With the city being required to come up with $60 million, the hospital, one would hope, would accept the fact that they have a new partner and not a junior partner either, and they have to learn to share the responsibility of working with the community to raise the funds and get the hospital to the point where it is not the mess it was when current president Vandewall was brought in.

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

The egos that are at times all too visible, have to be left at the door so that an adult relationship can take place.

When Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital president Eric Vandewall appeared before a city council committee last year he made the statement that the hospital would match the city contribution “dollar for dollar”, which made a number of Council members feel a little better about turning over tax payers’ dollars to the hospital.  That good feeling has come close to evaporating.

General Manager Stewart and the city manager are to have dinner with the hospital president and some of his leading people, which will undoubtedly include VP Communication Mario Joanette – who might manage an explanation as to just what is wrong with the communications.

There have not been any announcements from the hospital foundation on how they are doing on the raising of their $60 million.  We are told that there is a very big announcement coming and to expect a number of announcements at the Crystal Ball Gala, which takes place later this month.  We are told it is a sold out event with more than 100 people learning they could not get a ticket.  This Gala event – and it is quite the event, being held at the Mercedes Benz dealership on the North Service Road, is where the hospital Foundation may announce what it has collected to date in the way of its fund raising efforts.

The Foundation people are good at what they do – they don’t have any problem communicating.  Things are a little different on the hospital administration side.

While the city does its best to meet with the hospital to work through the agreement on how the JBMH people are going to spend the tax dollars we give them – the city’s Planning Department is able to talk to the hospital people about the actual construction of the building – reported to be a seven storey building on land that currently serves as a parking lot.

Site Plan approval for the structure is anticipated in late May or early June with approval expected in September or early October.  So far the public has very little information on what’s going on.  It seems like a ‘send us your money and don’t ask any questions’

Site plan approval will include traffic impacts, archeological investigation, storm water management and public consultation.  The city will have to deal with all this in a relatively short period of time.

The archeological aspects could turn out to be interesting.  The land the hospital was built on is part of the original land grant to Joseph Brant and there are reported to be some strings attached to just what can and cannot be done with that land.

It's supposed to be all about the hospital and its desperately needed re-build. Can they all not just get on with it?

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been a very strong proponent of ensuring that the public is given every opportunity to comment on developments in the city and has been very vocal about the amount of time the public has to read the reports and given the time to form their opinion.  Meed Ward is a member of the hospital board and while there is an evident conflict in sitting on the hospital board and sitting as a Councillor, especially when there is serious and significant tension over the wording of the Contribution Agreement, but that does not seem to bother Meed Ward.  Can she act for her constituents to ensure they are given the information they need and at the same time sit on the hospital board and argue that information should be made available and that the public, who after all are picking up a significant part of the cost of the redevelopment, be given every opportunity to comment?

Elections cost money.  Anyone running for the office of Mayor needs people who can write the cheques to cover the cost of an election campaign.  Meed Ward doesn’t accept campaign funds from developers but she would be comfortable with getting funds from the kind of people who attend social events with impressive ticket prices.


Return to the Front page