City awarded a bronze medal for being friendly to bicycles. Now we need ways to make cars and bicycles friends as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   Aug. 26.  2012-   Last week Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster was in Ottawa as a city delegate to the Association of Municipalities annual convention and while there accepted the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award on behalf of the city.

Burlington was awarded the bronze rating by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

The Regional Police use bicycles on a regular basis as part of the way they do their work. Are there any other civic employees using bicycles?

Burlington has gone some distance in making the city a more cycle friendly place – in this instance the city is ahead of its citizens.  In June and July the city held two Car Free Sundays at which the turnout was less than expected.  To the surprise of many the event on Appleby Line had a considerably better turn out than the event held on Brant Street.   It was clear to many that the idea needed a re-think.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) Program, an initiative of the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, was launched in Canada in August 2010 by Share the Road. The program provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling.  Municipalities are judged in five categories often referred to as the Five “E’s” engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.  A community must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories in order to be considered for an award.

The city did a photo op in May to promote the idea of cycling to work – threw in a free breakfast for those that showed up. It wasn’t a large crowd. Councillor Dennison is the only serious and sincere cyclist on Council. Bike rack at city hall is seldom full – parking spaces at city hall are well used however – they’re free. Beats a free breakfast.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “Over the last number of years the City of Burlington has committed to adding to our cycling-friendly infrastructure throughout the city. We have increased the number of kilometres of bike lanes and paths and made on-road cycling safer with the installation of signage, buffered and coloured lanes and sharrows. This award also recognizes the work we have done in education and awareness.”

“This award is a reflection of the hard work of city staff and our community leaders,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure. “I encourage more residents to make the safe and healthy choice of cycling.”

A key focus of the city’s strategic plan, Burlington, Our Future, is increasing the number of people who cycle in the city for both recreation and transportation.

Burlington approved a Cycling Master Plan in 2009.  This plan guides the city’s efforts in creating a network of on-road bikeways and multi-use pathways as well as providing policies, practices and programs to encourage more people to cycle.

Burlington has 49 km of bike lanes, 22.5 km of bike boulevards, 19 km of shared use paths and 20.7 km of multi-use paths.  Bicycle racks are available at all city facilities and public art bike racks have been installed in the downtown. Bike racks are also mounted on the front of all Burlington Transit buses.

Increasing its cycling infrastructure is just part of the task: work in the areas of education and awareness continue.

The Burlington Sustainable Development Committee and Burlington Central Library are hosting an active transportation seminar; Get it in Gear, on Oct. 18th,from  7 to 9 p.m.  The city has a Green Transportation Map –  outlining transit routes, trails and tourism destinations in Burlington, available at the Tourism office on Brant Street.

Burlington was up for a pre-Olympic cycling competition but the opportunity got away from us. Maybe in the future?

Burlington got a sense of what was possible when it took a hard look at the idea of holding pre-Olympic elite level races that would have resulted in a jam packed Canada Day.  That idea didn`t fly due to problems with the promoter – but we got a clear sense of what was possible.  At some point the city will meet up with the right promoter and we will perhaps see elite cycle racing in the community.

In the meantime the cycling infrastructure keeps being added to and more and more roadways are truly bicycle accessible.  Hopefully sooner rather than later the city will devote some time and money figuring out how to make the stretch of roadway from Mainway to Fairview bicycle friendly – that for Burlington is the real challenge at Walkers Line and Appleby Line as well.  It is what creates that big divide between the Burlington north of the QEW and the Burlington south of the QEW – and until we resolve that one we won`t be united as a city.  When that problem is solved – we could win gold!

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Downtown farmer`s market is adding more vendors than people. It`s a struggle – but then anything worthwhile is never easy.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 17, 2012   The small market that has been operating every Friday in a parking lot on John Street – back behind Centro Gardens reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi.

The line `put up a parking lot`sort of speaks to the farmers market – it`s held in a parking lot.

An even more telling line is:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

Barry Imber, the driving force behind the idea, had thought there would be a little more in the way of traffic.  “It is growing” he said “but not quickly enough for the farmers who spend the four hours at the market each Friday.”

There is a small collection of fresh from the farm products available at the Farmer’s Market on John Street. More traffic is needed if the market is to continue.

Last week Russell Gibbs was back with his honey – he sold out the first time he offered his product – so there is a market.  Featherstone Farms has been in since the beginning with their pork and soaps and then added bread.

Farm to Table Meats and Cheese Gypsy as well as Tree & Twig were there.  But Imber wants something a little more robust.  While he isn’t a vendor he nevertheless wants to promote organic and get some activity into the downtown core – where things can get desperately quiet far too often.

Barry Imber, the driving force behind the Farmer’s Market on John Street talks with Michelle Macdonald, operator of Featherstone Farms, the providers of soaps, bread and pork products.

Imber is working on some food trucks and visiting chefs for the coming weeks to spice it up.` He isn’t seeing a good adoption here. Likewise the vendors aren’t totally comfortable with the traffic either so the whole thing may dissolve sooner than later if people don’t come to the conclusion that they have something special here — their own market in their downtown — the start to something cultural and rich.  A real community hub.

If people don’t make an effort to support it soon, it will be gone unfortunately and giving it another try will be that much harder.

And that gets us back to the line:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

The only reason there will be an outdoor market in the downtown core is if people come out and at least try the products.  Part of the problem may be that people just don`t know.   Our Burlington is certainly doing its part to tell the story.

There will be additional promotional effort put into the project early in September – and then we will see if Imber`s idea was a true addition to the city or just a bit of folly.

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Great weather – great water conditions – Burlington Beachway just fine reports regional Health department.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  August 17, 2012   Beach water monitoring by the Regional Health staff on August 14 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Beachway water is safe – jump in

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Oakville – Coronation Park East

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Oakville – Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach.

Remember to take sun screen and to park legally along the Beachway.

Have fun

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Are we giving people who use Beachway Park the information they need and are entitled to in terms of water safety?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 9, 2012  Water quality at the Burlington Beachway is just fine.  Oakville’s Coronation Park East is still not safe – that’s been that way for some time.

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.  We get the information from the Region and pass it along to our readers.

Many people don’t go near the water when they go to the beach but those who do swim have the right to know the water is safe and that they are personally safe as well. Lifeguards do that job.

Beach water monitoring on August 6 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

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

This is great information if you’re a regular reader of Our Burlington, but alas, not everyone reads what we have to say.

When you walk out to the Beachway there are days when you can see literally hundreds of people enjoying the water.  In the past, when the water was not deemed safe by the Region, the public had no way of knowing the water was not deemed to be safe.

At one point the Region used to divide the Beachway into North and South – with no really clear dividing line between the north and the south.

On a long weekend there are far more people using Beachway Park in Burlington than the number using the beach shown above – we don’t employ lifeguards nor do we post adequate signs to explain the condition of the water. The city owes its public better service on this one.

The Region did provide a map that we posted – but then they discarded the North and South parts and just call it the Beachway – which was fine.

The problem however is that there isn’t any way for those who don’t read Our Burlington to know the water is not safe.  There is a solution.

Do what other jurisdictions do;  Put up signs or put up flags that tell the people what the water condition is.

On those occasions when there are literally hundreds of people using the beach – where are the lifeguards?  It will cost money to hire lifeguards – which the Region or the city will do in a flash the moment there is a drowning.

Time for the city to take a hard look at the way the beach is used by the public and what the city should be providing in the way of safety services.

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Regional Health Service reports more positive West Nile virus results. Be aware of the signs and cover up.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 7, 2012  The Region is seeing more positive West Nile Virus results in its testing than it normally does at this time of year.

A sample of mosquitoes collected last week in Halton Hills (Georgetown) has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the number of positive batches for Halton Region in 2012 to nine. Each of the other local municipalities also had a new positive batch, with Burlington and Oakville now at three each and Milton at two.

“We are now in the highest risk period for human West Nile virus illness. Please protect yourself against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health. “These high-risk weeks are almost certain to keep up well into September: Don’t let down your guard.”

The mosquito gets infected when it bites a bird that is carrying the virus.  If that mosquito bites you – then you get infected.  So you need to cover up and not let the mosquitoes bite you.

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:

The safety measure you can take are pretty simple:

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.

Replace or repair window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

What do you do if you are bitten by a mosquito?  Depends on whether or not the mosquito has bitten a bird carrying the virus.  But if the mosquito is infected what is that likely to mean to you and what do you want to watch for?

Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health has this to say:

“The symptoms, especially in mild infection, do overlap with those of many other viral infections.  As with all infectious illness, we recommend seeing a medical doctor when an illness keeps getting worse, or, if it is not getting better, even though it is no longer getting worse.

You know when you’ve been bitten by a mosquito. Pay attention to how your body reacts – don’t panic but do pay attention to the symptoms.

“For infants (though recalling for WNV illness the very young are at least risk), the elderly, or people with underlying illnesses, one should have a lighter trigger for seeing the doctor (this is especially the case for infants with fever).

“There is no hard and fast rule about when to see a doctor, but if you are worried and things just don’t seem right, then it is better to go than to delay.  (There are other conditions, of course, such as stroke or heart attack, which should result in an immediate 911 call.)

“WNV would not be automatically tested for.  This would be up to the doctor’s clinical judgement.  We have alerted all Halton physicians that WNV is a risk now, so when doctors are seeing patients with fever and some of the other symptoms (e.g., headache, muscle aches, etc.) they should be thinking of WNV as well as other potential causes.  A patient’s history of being out of doors and of mosquito bites would be helpful.

“However, since there is no specific treatment for WNV illness other than supportive care (which in severe illness could require intensive care unit admission), in mild illness not having a laboratory test result would not really be a disadvantage.  In more severe illness, knowing the specific cause is important to help rule out conditions that do have specific treatments and, when it is WNV, is helpful for guiding the supportive care and for prognosis

“Laboratory tests are also helpful from a surveillance point of view as they let us know the extent of the disease in the human population and then allow us (the Health Department) to further alert physicians and the public and to guide mosquito control activities.  As such, we would support the decision to test for WNV even in mild infections (West Nile fever).

Mild Infection

The incubation period is thought to range from 3 to 14 days.

Symptoms generally last 3 to 6 days.

Reports from earlier outbreaks describe the mild form of WNV infection as a febrile illness of sudden onset often accompanied by:

malaise  [feeling ill] ; headache; anorexia  [loss of appetite]; Myalgia [sore muscle]; nausea;  rash; vomiting;  Lymphadenopathy [swollen glands]; eye pain; arthralgia [sore joints]

Approximately 1 in 150 infections will result in severe neurological disease.

The most significant risk factor for developing severe neurological disease is advanced age.

Encephalitis [inflammation of the brain] is more commonly reported than meningitis [inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord].

In recent outbreaks, symptoms occurring among patients hospitalized with severe disease include: fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, weakness, change in mental status.

A minority of patients with severe disease developed a maculopapular or morbilliform rash involving the neck, trunk, arms, or legs.

It all sounds serious and it is serious.  Pay attention to how you feel and if the ill feelings last more than two days – go to a Walk in Clinic.

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West Nile virus has worked its way to human beings – extra-precautions necessary.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 4, 2012   The West Nile virus has always been out there – it had just not been seen with human beings until last week when the Regional Health department was notified by Public Health Ontario of the first probable human cases of West Nike; one a female in her fifties in Burlington and a female in her thirties from Milton.

 “These first human cases of West Nile virus illness underscore the need to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region. “This message is particularly important for older adults because they are at higher risk for more serious West Nile virus illness.”

In Halton, the months of highest risk for human WNV illness are August and September, however with the abnormally high temperatures the high risk period has started earlier.

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.

Click to see map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied.





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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.

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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.



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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.





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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.






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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



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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

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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.

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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.

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