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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


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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.


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Well, so much for that promise. Health Minister says government cannot re-develop JBMH if it loses the budget vote on Tuesday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 20, 2012   The Minister of Health and Long Term Care Deb Matthews has conference calls with the Mayor and assures him that all is well and the funding for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is in place and we’ve no need to worry our heads one little bit.

The Mayor has a meeting with the Minister responsible for Infrastructure Ontario, the government arm that handles the actual construction of major projects, and they explain how that organization works and assures Mayor Goldring that everything is fine.

Then there is an announcement that the hospital is going to get $22.5 million to build the hospital when all the hospital needed short term was $9million.

Somewhere along the way the Premier of the Province strolls into the offices of the local thrice weekly newspaper saying he`d just like to have a friendly chat.  Something like that hasn’t happened before.

Then there are a set of Robo Calls that target Jane McKenna, the Burlington member of the provincial legislature who has been entirely out of the loop on the hospital re-development.  Her predecessor, Joyce Savoline at least visited the hospital and toured the place.

Will Burlington MPP Jane McKenna take a sick day on Tuesday or will she vote against the budget and bring down the government forcing another election? She will be looking at one of the shortest political careers on record if she does.

McKenna gets bush whacked by the phone calls that result in a reported 1000 calls to her office.  McKenna being a bit of a newbie at the game of politics doesn’t handle the situation all that well.

Behind the scenes in all this, is some tough negotiations between the leader of the New Democratic Party and the government.  Andrea Horvath, the NDP leader folds on one of her demands – that the provincial portion of the HST tax be taken out of home heating sales.

The vote on the budget is to take place in four days and the public is crystal clear on not wanting another election.  When it comes to getting into office and having all that power at your fingertips, what the public wants isn’t a significant part of the recipe.  The game is to determine just how close to the wire you can get and still stay in office.  Sort of like adults playing a game of chicken.

What is a citizen of Burlington supposed to do with all this?  The hospital is a mess, it’s actually not a very good hospital – we speak of the structure – not the staff.  The building has had its day and needs to be replaced – quickly.  One basic requirement for any hospital is the ability to quarantine patients if necessary – they can`t do that at JBMH.

Everyone is scurrying around but the hospital says nothing publicly.

The Liberal government puts pressure on both Ted Chudleigh, provincial member for Halton and Jane McKenna.  McKenna crashes the Minister’s tour of the hospital, but then stays in the background.  Why McKenna didn’t confront the Minister publicly, and demand that she meet the promise she made to the residents of Burlington, is beyond me.  There was a missed opportunity to show the people of Burlington that she was standing up for them and not touting the Progressive Conservative party line.

It is going to be an interesting weekend for the politicians.  McKenna might find that she has the flu Tuesday morning and isn’t able to get out of bed and get into the Legislature.  These things do happen – it`s going around you know.

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City re-jigs the organizational structure it will use to work with hospital staff on the re-development of JBMH.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 18, 2012

In a lengthy report to the Budget and Corporate Services committee we got a look at what was a rather messy and less than collaborative working relationship between the city and hospital officials.  The sticking point was the details behind what is called the “Contribution Agreement”  which is the document that will set out when, and under what circumstances, the city will send funds to the hospital for the re-development of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH).

The city was not about to just write out million dollar cheques and blithely send money collected from taxpayers to the hospital. They wanted to know what the money would be used for.

Getting a contribution agreement in place between the JBMH and the city is proving to be very difficult - are egos getting in the way?

When the province decided back in 2008 that the community had to put up $120 million to pay for the re-development,  the city said it would put up $60 million and the hospital Foundation would raise $60 million.  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.  That “tower” will be part parking garage, several floors for the Halton McMaster Family Medicine unit and offices for the hospital foundation.  Expect them to get the top floor of the building with a fabulous view out over the lake.

Burlington is putting up $5 million additional dollars for the Family Medical space – that was part of the agreement that included the School of Business which was supposed to be in the downtown core but ended up on the South Service Road.

At a city council meeting last year,  JBMH President and CEO Eric Vandewall said the hospital would match the city’s  money “dollar for dollar”, which at the time seemed to satisfy city council.  But then it became less than clear as to just what the city’s money was going to be used for.  The hospital had not raised its share of the $120 million but it had an urgent need to put up a parking garage and the city got the sense that its money was going to pay for the building of that garage.  The city began to see a situation where it would pay for the building of a parking garage and then see the province plead poverty and cancel the re-development.

At that time there was no iron clad guarantee from the provincial government that the hospital re-development was really going to be fully funded.  Everyone was saying it was going to be funded – but there was nothing definitive from the province.

Councillor Craven chaired the meeting that had to manage a motion that drew three amendments - the motion from Meed Ward eventually lost.

The city put together a “working group”   that consisted of the Mayor, Councillors Craven and Meed Ward.  It later added the Mayors adviser, Frank McKeown to the team.  Problem with the working group was that it just didn’t work and people on the city side of things realized there had to be a structural change.  The mayor was increasingly being drawn into administrative level matters and it had the potential to do significant political damage.

The city began to realize that they needed some help as well,  and decided to bring in two levels of support.  A lawyer with the skill set and experience needed to deal with hospital construction contracts and a consulting firm that would advise the city on how to deal with Infrastructure Ontario, which is the organization that is actually going to handle the construction.

Burlington had learned some very valuable lessons from the construction of the Pier.  They did not have the talent or people with the very specific experience in putting together complex contracts on staff full time.  With the Pier they learned to bring in the outside help for the period of time it was needed.

The new organizational arrangement the city has put in place is designed to overcome the difficulties the city has had with the people on the hospital side.  On too many occasions the hospital cancelled meetings which, from the city’s perspective, were critical.  It was all about money, taxpayers money and Mayor Goldring was just not prepared to see the money roll out of city hall without knowing what was going to be done with taxpayers dollars .

It was Councillor Sharman who asked the tough question: Was every member of the "working" group working independently and in the best interests of the city? It wasn't and was disbanded with a new organizational structure put in place.

Councillor Sharman put things in perspective when he put a direct question to Goldring and Meed Ward asking:  “Are you satisfied that the working group provided objective independent representation that was in the best interests of the city and its taxpayers”.  Sharman clearly thought that the information that came out of the working group was not as objective or independent as it should have been.  Councillor Meed Ward blanched when the question was put to her.  The Mayor said that the new alignment between the city and the hospital was designed to overcome the problems.  Councillor Craven who was chairing the meeting didn’t say a word.

The working group developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was sent to JBMH last December.  A draft Contribution Agreement was received by the city from JBMH shortly after that.  City staff scheduled a series of meetings for January and February 2012 to begin negotiations with the hospital.

Prior to the first formal negotiation meetings, city staff met informally with JBMH staff to discuss the overall project time line, expectations of the parties and to identify if there were any significant areas of concern for JBMH.  City staff were advised that there were no major issues.  The city advised the hospital that it was fully behind the redevelopment, but that a thorough due diligence process was necessary prior to signing a contribution agreement in order to protect the taxpayers investment.

Shortly after JBMH staff advised that they had significant concerns with the draft MOU.  Specifically they were uncomfortable with any conditions related to the release of funds, given that not all factors related to project timing were within their control.  JBMH asked that the scheduled negotiation meetings in January be cancelled.

None of this was made public at the time.  The city continued to salt away taxpayers money and put out press releases saying all was well.

The city took the draft MOU and turned it into a Letter of Understanding (LOU), a document that endeavored to clarify the roles and responsibilities of both parties and sent that along to the hospital. JBMH then cancelled the negotiation meetings that were planned for February and didn’t respond to the LOU.

This is all very confusing to the average citizen who just wants to know that there will be a bed for them should they require medical attention – the average citizen would ask – “does all this really matter to me.  Let the people we hire work all this out.”

One can take that attitude, but had the Jackson administration and the one before it insisted on the hard nosed due diligence the Goldring administration is demanding – of the hospital now, the city wouldn’t have the mess it has had to go through with the Pier.  There is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things.

Thus when Councillor Meed Ward put forward motion to take out the strategic consultants and cut back the amount for legal fees by more than half – the only vote she got was her own.  It was embarrassing and was pretty clear, look at what was wrong with the working group.

Councillor Meed Ward was in the very awkward position of being a member of city council and a member of the JBMH board and thinking the interests of both were the same.

What adds to the confusion in all this is that Meed Ward is a member of the hospital board.  It is difficult to see how she can be true to the interests of the hospital and true to the interests of the city at the same time.  She might say that the two are the same, which is a very naive view of the way different organizations work together. City manager Jeff Fielding pointed out to Council that in his 15 years as a city manager he had not handled deals at the $60 million level.  This is big stuff and we need to be very careful.

The original working group was tasked with seeking public input on the municipal contribution to the redevelopment of the hospital, coordinate communications with the public and ensure regular dialogue between the hospital and the city.  What transpired wasn’t so much dialogue but rather turf wars and consistent misunderstandings between the hospital and the city with the public being told next to nothing

The public didn’t get very many chances to say what it felt – other than they wanted a newer hospital.  The city fell down a little on letting its taxpayers know just how messy things had gotten.  The Mayor just kept putting out statements that the city was 100% behind the re-development of the hospital. His office  still has some things to learn about communicating.

However, the report that went to the city’s Budget and Corporate Services committee laid everything out, and while less than fully transparent, it does indicate that things were messy and getting worse so they put in a new organizational structure and asked for the technical and legal support they needed.

It was while this was being discussed that Councillor Meed Ward then proceeded to figuratively blow her brains out publicly when she chose to oppose two of the recommendations staff had come forward with.

While doing so she managed to create a situation where there were four different amendments in play and a chair that really wasn’t sure just where the proceedings were as he worked with his Clerk who slowly untangled the knot the committee had gotten itself into.  Meed Ward had a motion, Councillor Taylor had an amendment and Sharman had an amendment to the Taylor amendment.  It was beginning to look like a high school debating club.

The issues that were being debated were on the four recommendations set out in the report which were:

Retain a lead negotiator to draft the contribution agreement. The negotiator would have experience in provincial funding and would understand the role of Infrastructure Ontario and alternative finance projects.

Hire a strategic consultant to ensure a transparent, accountable and rigorous process for signing an agreement with the hospital.

Bring the planning portion of the hospital redevelopment—site plan approval—to City Council for discussion.

Disband the city’s hospital redevelopment working group.

The costs involved for the legal counsel and strategic counsel amounted to $50,000, which Meed Ward thought was far too much money.  She didn’t think the city needed anyone to tell then how to deal with Infrastructure Ontario but that if there were questions to be answered then Infrastructure Ontario would send some people out to talk to Council.

Scott Stewart did point out the Infrastructure was not exactly a neutral party in all this.  He got that right.  Infrastructure Ontario is going to spend the $60 million taxpayers are going to come up with and the city wants their own expert helping them through this.  No more pier type mistakes.

Meed Ward wanted to do away with the strategic council that was recommended and wanted to cut back by much more than half the amount staff felt was needed for the legal help.

Mayor Goldring was beginning to be damaged politically by the differences with the executive level at the hospital. He wasn't able to say there were problems that were not being resolved without sounding as if he was not 100% for the hospital re-development.

Politically it was getting awkward for the Mayor.  Publicly he had to always be seen as being very positive.  The difficulty was that he was being drawn into day to day problems which were certainly serious enough but these were not battles he should be fighting.  The Mayor needed to be seen as the General in all this, directing able troops.

The new alignment has the Mayor dealing with the top person on the hospital side, board chair Susan Busby

The hospital’s working team now has to align with Scott Stewart and the people with him as well as the legal talent that has been brought in.

A team consisting of  Scott Stewart, general manager community services, Joan Ford, acting executive director of finance and Cathy Robertson, Director Roads and Parks Maintenance.  This is the team that will handle the negotiations for the city.

And then came the announcement from the province that it had confirmed a contribution of $22.5 million to the re-development of JBMH.  While the city is pleased with that news, it doesn’t lessen the need to complete the due diligence process and get the details of the Contribution Agreement worked out.

The city has its negotiating team in place and the Mayor has asked the chair of the hospital board to have her people meet with the negotiating team as soon as possible.

Two additional steps were taken.  The Working Group was disbanded – which takes Councillors  Craven and Meed Ward out of that loop and gets the Mayor out of the middle of all this messiness.  The other decision was to un-delegate this file.  Traditionally city council makes decisions and hands the file over to staff to get the job done.  That is called delegating.

Un-delegating means that it now sits with Council to whom staff will provide regular updates, just the way they did with the Pier project.

Mayor Goldring summed up the city`s position very well when he said: . “As stewards of Burlington property taxpayer dollars, we want to ensure we are both transparent and accountable as we make that vision a reality.”

The city and the hospital have relied heavily on provincial cabinet member Ted McMeekin who operates to the west of Burlington in the constituency of  Ancaster – Dundas – Flamborough – Westdale.   While Burlington has an MPP she hasn’t bee very visible.

Burlinggton MPP is target of Robo Calls claiming her decision not to vote for the Liberal budget could result in the JBMH re-development being held up.

A set or Robo Calls Wednesday evening (Robo Calls are telephone calls made automatically to a list of telephone numbers which in this instance were to the homes of Burlington residents).  The calls, from an unidentified source advise the listener that the provincial government was funding the JBMH to the tune of $22.5 million but that Jane McKenna, the Burlington MPP,  was going to vote against the Liberal governments budget which would bring down the government, force an election and maybe cause delays in the re-development of the JBMH.  Listeners were told on a number of occasions during the call that all they had to do was press 3 on the telephone and they would get put directly through to Jane McKenna’s office.  When a listener pressed 3 the call was put through and Jane McKenna’s voice came on line.  Her office was closed – leave a message please. The calls put McKenna in an awkward position.  She does have options.

Who sponsored the Robo Calls?  Want to guess?





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They do work, inconvenient yes, but seat belts, have been around for 36 years and really do work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 12, 2012  Has it been THAT long?  Thirty six years? Just to remind us that the things really do work the Halton Regional Police announced today that they will be on the prowl the week of April 14 – 22nd with their Spring Seat belt Campaign.

While, apparently, 95% of us “buckle up” sadly, motor vehicle collisions are still the leading cause of injury-related deaths among children and youth and it is mandatory for anyone who transports children to ensure they are properly secured in an infant seat, child car seat, or booster seat.

When installed correctly, child car seats can dramatically reduce the risk of death for infants under age one, and children aged one to four.

The Halton Regional Police Service will utilize a multi-faceted approach during the campaign, assigning all three District Response Units, uniform patrol officers and volunteers to the task of catching those who don’t “buckle up” and reminding us or perhaps ticketing us..

Deputy Chief Bob Percy wants you to know he is overseeing a multi-faceted program to remind you to "buckle up". He is arranging to have those who don't to be ticketed.

Deputy Chief Bob Percy remarked, “Despite traditionally high compliance rates, our Service will continue to educate motorists and enforce seat belt legislation to serve as a reminder the importance of proper use of restraints, child car seats and booster seats.”

My personal experience with seat belts got very “up front and personal” when a car swerved in front of the van I was in – the air bag protected the driver, the seat belt kept me in the car – but did crack my sternum.  Without that seat belt I would have gone through the windshield.  Want to thank that nurse at the York Regional Hospital for the great care as she watched over me in the their  Intensive Care Unit.

The things do work – so “buckle up”.


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Look for hospital ground breaking in December; they might have to use a jackhammer which would be appropriate.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 28, 2012  Did you hear the one about the two cars driving west along the QEW?   You really don`t want the details but there were two vehicles that came back to civilization from the Big Smoke where they were locked up in a room with thick documents in front of them.

Burlington sent two of its brighter lights into the city to take part in that budget tradition of locking up a bunch of journalists in the same room where they could swap tales and then rush through the document and write up their stories.  In the days when Toronto had three daily newspapers each looked for an angle that was unique to its audience.

Today the “lockup” has more lobbyists in the room than actual journalists, each there to put a specific spin on the budget.

Two of Burlington's best spent much of Tuesday locked up in a room reading the budget document.

Having done that sort of thing with federal budgets I chose not to walk into the room but Mario Joanette, VP Communications for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, and a political junkie if there ever was one, drove into town, snagged a good parking spot because he knows his way around the Legislature and settled in for a day with his chums.

Frank McKeown on the other hand had never been in a  “lock up”`so  for him it was a totally new experience.  It will be interesting to hear what he learned.

The news out of the budget was good for Burlington and its hospital hopes and good for the municipal sector overall.   Neither Joanette nor Mayor Goldring were totally surprised by the news.  Joanette says the hospital is on track and are close to having a “functional plan”  – should be done in a couple of weeks then it goes to the technical people and the architects.  “We are still on for the start of construction sometime in December, states Joanette.

Henry Decker is the Director at the hospital who will oversee the actual construction from the hospitals perspective..

Mayor Goldring is very pleased to see the announcement out there for everyone else to see.  Goldring has been in continued contact with people at Infrastructure Ontario, the people who will handle the construction of the hospital and handle the different tendering’s and bid selections.  He has had conversations with the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deb Matthews,  who was re-assuring in her conversations but she wasn’t the Minister of Finance – and that’s where the financial decisions were made.

The hospital has relied heavily on Ted McMeekin, the Minster of Agriculture in neighbouring Flamborough constituency.  McMeekin clearly did great stuff for Burlington but wasn’t able to save the Grimsby hospital.

With the doubt that was in the air now gone the mood in the city will get more positive.  Hospital Foundation Fund Raising Chairman Brian Torsney can now get out his telephone list and start making calls.  His Board can expect a breakfast meeting to be called real soon; they have some catching up to do.  The city of Burlington has $8.4 million of its $60 million share in the bank collecting interest.

Mayor Goldring expects the agreement between the hospital and the city to be completed “shortly”, which isn’t exactly a unit of measurement, and suggested that it could be up to eight weeks before the document gets to City Council.

This is the crew that will head up the raising of $60 million from the community. Back row (l-r): Elizabeth Law, Susan Moore, Carmela Friday, Stephen Friday, Brian Heagle, Mel Griffin, Peter Hogarth, Michael O'Sullivan, Randy Smallbone (Treasurer) Front row (l-r): Kevin Brady, Eric Vandewall, Brian Torsney (Chair), Brenda Hunter (First Vice Chair), Anissa Hilborn (Foundation President)

While there were doubts, concerns and a lot of questions about the redevelopment of the hospital,  the budget read on Tuesday has put those to rest.  The Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is going to be redeveloped – you won’t recognize the place when they are finished.  The only thing that can change the plans at this point is the government failing to get  its budget passed in the Legislature and the calling of an election.  How will Burlington’s MPP Jane McKenna vote on this budget – will she follow her political party or will she vote for the hospital re-development her constituents want so dearly,  and for which she campaigned for during the October election.  Politics is a funny business at times.

The hard hats for the ground breaking ceremony that could take place in December are on order.

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