City creates new property due tax dates- lightens the load a bit

By Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For some the financial fall out from the Covid19 pandemic has been manageable.  A few are actually doing better during these tough times.

For others, the financial damage is severe, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.  Some have been wiped out, lost everything and are struggling emotionally as they do their best to deal with what is left.

The City has developed a COVID-19 Property Tax Payment Plan program for 2022 that should help those struggling from day to day

No patrons

The program offers eligible residents and businesses that continue to face financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic a monthly pre-authorized payment plan to assist with the repayment of property tax installments.

It was approved by city council on January 11, 2022.

Individuals must apply for the 2022 COVID-19 Property Payment Plan program by completing the online application at burlington.ca/propertytax.

The program will allow eligible property owners who are unable to pay their property taxes by the regularly scheduled tax due dates, to make payments under a pre-authorized payment plan. If eligible, equal monthly withdrawals will be made that will allow for the property taxes to be paid in full by Dec. 1, 2022. No penalty or interest will be applied for the duration of the payment plan as long as payments are made.

Additional details:

  • Applicants will be required to attest they are experiencing financial hardship directly related to COVID-19, e.g. loss of employment, business closure, prolonged suspension of pay
  • Property owners that have an unpaid balance on their tax account from March 1, 2020 onward may include this amount in the property tax payment plan (eligible owners cannot have any property tax amounts owing prior to March 1, 2020)
  • Joan Ford – Chief Financial Officer

    Eligible property owners have the ability to choose which date they would like the pre-authourized monthly payment plan to begin. Options include March 1, April 1, May 1, June 1 or July 1 (applications are due 10 days prior to the withdrawal date).

Joan Ford, Chief Financial Officer for the city explains:  “With new COVID-19 variants and changes to provincial restrictions, the City recognizes that residents and businesses continue to face uncertainty and financial pressures. The goal of the property tax payment plan is to support taxpayers and help ease the burden of meeting the regularly scheduled property tax due dates, without facing penalties.”

 

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News delivery options coming this week...

By Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Later this week we expect to be able to show you some of the subtle changes to the look and feel of what we deliver.

We have developed a more efficient way to get the news in front of you.

There are going to be different editions of the paper:

A Morning Edition, an Afternoon Edition and a Breaking News Edition.

The Morning and Afternoon editions go out at specific times. The top three stories are a click away – the rest of the paper is just as easy to get to.

Breaking News goes out the moment there is critical news. When there was a Covid19 outbreak at the Joseph Brant Hospital – that was Breaking News. We pride ourselves on getting news out very quickly – especially when it matters a lot.

Each issue arrives in your email once you’ve subscribed.  There is no subscription fee. You can cancel anytime and go back to logging in the way tens of thousands do daily.

And of course you can go to the web site anytime and look at everything including the archives which hold everything we ever published.

Changes have been tested; staff is now being trained.  There will be a separate news story during the week explaining how easy it is to sign up.  You can also unsubscribe anytime you decide you don’t like us any more.

Best of all the news is FREE!

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Rivers on a different Ukraine - a first hand on the ground reflection

By Ray Rivers

January 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

A number of years ago Ray Rivers was visiting Ukraine to get a better sense of a country to which he was culturally attached.  At the time we arranged for him to meet with Canadian troops who were training a Ukrainian army unit.

I visited Ukraine a couple of times after the Russian invasion in 2014.  The second time, in 2017, my wife and I volunteered to teach in their school system for about a month.  We were part of a multinational effort, called Go Camp, involving some 1100 volunteers from 75 countries to share our language and culture with young Ukrainian students.

I taught some French, music and drama, and before I left gifted my guitar to a promising young music student.  Burlington’s MP (Hon) Karina Gould’s office had passed along some Canadian lapel flag pins which were well received by the students.  We were billeted by the parents and literally became part of their families, struggling with the language but sharing meals and laughs and stories of who we are.

We asked, at every appropriate occasion, about the situation in the country.  What did they think about the war and Ukraine’s future relationship with Russia?  They were reluctant to open up but mostly they said they didn’t know.  They didn’t understand what Putin wanted and why he was attacking their country.  And they really didn’t want to talk about the conflict, especially those who had fled from the war zone in the Russian occupied Donbas.

It was as if they were ashamed and embarrassed – unsure if they were to blame in some small way – perhaps their nation had moved too quickly to expand its horizons, promote a market economy, embrace democracy and adopt other western ideals.  Almost like a battered spouse or victim of bullying would react, they couldn’t wait for the topic to change.  It hurt too much to talk about it.

Not everyone was happy with their government, their leaders and all the corruption that had been going on.  Still, nobody said that they’d rather be Russian, even if the government pensions were higher there, as we were told by one woman, a retired school principal now cleaning classrooms to supplement her retirement income.  And there were a number of bright young people hoping for a visa to come to Canada to live, and, more often than not, being rejected.

There is still a good deal of attachment to Russia – a doctor who worked weekdays at a hospital in Moscow and came home on the weekends – a young woman completing her advanced degree in petroleum engineering at a Moscow technical college.  It is more difficult for them to commute now since no flights are allowed between the two nations.  And while many people still use the Russian language, it’s more common among the older crowd who are used to saying ‘Da’ instead of ‘Tak’ for yes, but nobody seems to mind.

Ukraine citizens protesting the high levels of corruption in their country.

Ukrainians thought they knew what they wanted when they declared their independence along with those other Soviet republics and satellites when the USSR disintegrated.  Ukraine was so eager on being a model of peacefulness that it gave up its nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world.  In return the US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest Memorandum which guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Or so they thought.  But when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, the other signatories just shrugged their shoulders.  President Obama, who’d been given a Nobel peace prize, was quick off the mark to say what he wouldn’t do.   He wouldn’t try to stop Russia – wouldn’t send defensive weapons to help Ukraine.  And with that he gave license and argument for every wanna-be nuclear power – the only way to guarantee your defence is with a nuke in your backyard.

When it comes to defence, good fences make good neighbours.  And if your neighbour is a bully then you needed to be ready for him/her.  So Ukraine called on its wannabe European partners, and potential future NATO allies, for help.   Canada, with the world’s second largest Ukrainian diaspora, sent a couple hundred military trainers, gave the country some night vision goggles and a couple hundred million dollars in development assistance.

Mr. Trudeau says he’s only thinking of sending over what Kyiv really wants, some high tech defensive weapons that could help stop Russia’s vast assembly of tanks and planes.  Perhaps he alone understands Mr. Putin’s mind allowing the argument… that a poorly armed Ukraine will better deter a Russian invasion than one appropriately outfitted with high tech armament to fight off an invasion.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly meets Canadian soldiers. There are currently about 200 Canadian Armed Forces members in Ukraine as part of an international training mission to help improve Ukrainian soldiers’ combat skills.

My publisher had organized for me to visit the military base where Canadian instructors are training Ukrainian soldiers.  There was not much joy around.  This is, after all, a conflict with no apparent end in sight and a lot of death and suffering in the meantime.  Putin has the overwhelming upper hand.  We were told that taking pictures of the snipers training was forbidden since, with Russian agents still active, that could make the recruits targets.

Known as Kievan Rus or Ruthenia, Ukraine was the largest country in Europe in the 11th century.  But the invaders over all the intervening years have done their best to create one jigsaw puzzle or another.  Mongols, Ottoman Turks, Swedes, Polish, Lithuanians, Austro-Hungarians, and the Russians all have had a crack at occupying Ukraine – or some part of it.  One of the current day ironies is that it was Ukrainian migrants who first left Kyiv to found Moscow and Russia.

Putin has been pretty clear about what he’d like – a return to the glorious days of the Soviet Union, presumably pre-Afghanistan invasion.  Humiliated by the break up of the USSR, he is determined to wreak a kind of vengeance by humiliating the USA, breaking up the EU and destroying NATO.  He wants to be back in the USSR.  And he wants to take Ukraine, formerly one of the most populous and productive republics in the union, with him.

Russia has twice as many troops in uniform (280,000) as Ukraine, and a very modernized military machine, including nuclear weapons.  But what would be the point of nuking the heck out of Ukraine if it is be included the new USSR?  And though Ukraine is out-soldiered and out-gunned, it has developed a civil defence organization numbering some 300,000.  So while a blitz invasion might get Russia well into the heart of Ukraine it’ll have trouble holding onto it.

The folks we met while over there understood that Russia might invade their homeland, but despite all the pessimism they were resolved that that would not be the end of it. According to a recent survey up to a third of the population of 44 million are prepared to pick up a firearm and join the fight for their country.

Perhaps what I took for traces of sadness in their smiles was just plain tiredness – tired of just another autocrat trying to crush their new-found freedom.  Tired of conflict.  But then again, perhaps they also understand that this conflict is bigger than Ukraine.  Because on the other side of the world President Xi is preparing his own invasion plans to put an end to another democracy, this time on the island of Taiwan.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links

Go Camp –    What Does Putin Want –      Putin

Ukraine History –    Budapest Memorandum

 US Naive –     Trudeau Waffles –    More Waffle

Biden Must Stand Up

 

 

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Once again Premier Ford got it wrong

By Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, 0N

 

Ontario today reported 4,114 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 590 in the ICU and 64 deaths; is this what the Minister of Health meant by a “glimmer of hope”?

Yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced when and how he would open up the province and return to normal business.

January 31st

restrictions would be reduced.

February 21st restrictions would be reduced even further.

March 14th  restrictions would disappear.

Setting out information like this might be good politics but it is bad public health practice.

Once again the Premier got it wrong.

What he needed to say was that when hospitalizations are at ??? and ICU patients are at ??? THEN restrictions will be lowered.

It is decisions made by individuals that will bring down the number of people infected and the number of hospitalizations.

Stop the bromides Mr. Premier.  Let people take responsibility and when the data indicates that people are being responsible, then lift the restrictions.  I, too, want to go out to a restaurant for dinner – but I don’t want to compromise my health.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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The timeline is a sad tale - no one was in charge of the Waterfront Hotel study.

By Pepper Parr

January 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This report sets out the very awkward situation in which the Planning department finds itself.

If you love your city and you care about what it is going to look like in five years, read on.  The report is lengthy.

The city has had a Waterfront Planning Study in the works since 2015.  At one point the Planning Department advised that they did not have a planner assigned to the file.

Most people thought progress was being made – turns out everyone was wrong.  Nothing (at best very little) was being done.

The boundary for the Waterfront Study area was clear. The study was paid for by the developer who got tired of waiting and decided to move on with his long term plans

While city planners were asleep at the switch the owner of the property wasn’t.

Darko Vranich, has significant property interests in Hamilton and Burlington which include the adult entertainment site Solid Gold in Aldershot and that small motel immediately east of Bridgewater and doors away from Emma’s Back Porch.

The Waterfront Hotel is owned by Darko Vranich, who owns Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Road Inc., the site of the hotel he wants to demolish and put up a two tower development – one at 35 storeys, the other at 30 storeys – both would sit atop a five level podium.

Back in April 28, 2021, the consulting firm, Bousfields (leading the development application team), met with staff in the Planning Department  to determine the requirements for a complete development application.

The developer wanted to amend the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law to facilitate the owner’s proposal to redevelop the site with a mixed-use development that does not conform to in-effect Official Plan policies or Zoning By-law regulations.

That meeting should have triggered some action on completing the Waterfront Study – apparently it didn’t.

The city provided the developer and their representatives with a preconsultation package (by email – May 5, 2021).

The preconsultation package outlines the following;

Types of applications required (Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment);
Application fees required;
Requirement to hold a Pre-Application Public Consultation Meeting prior to submitting an application;
Required Information for Complete Application.

In accordance with the requirements set out in the preconsultation package, the applicant consulted the Burlington Urban Design (BUD) Panel regarding their proposed development on August 19, 2021.  At a meeting less than a week ago the Director of Community Planning, Mark Simeone, was not aware that a meeting with BUD had taken place.

Another example of senior city staff not being fully briefed on everything which was now in play.  Staff were fully aware of the scale, size and scope of what the developer had in mind.  The public didn’t have a clue until a virtual Pre-Application Consultation Meeting was held via via Zoom September 8, 2021.

Lisa Kearns, the Ward Councillor and Mayor Meed Ward attended and took part – the news was not new to them.

Years before the pre-consultation meeting at which the public got to see what the developer had in mind, a group of citizens believed there was a better way to develop the Waterfront Hotel site and they formed Plan B and created the idea of a thin red line beyond which there would be no development.

The city, in the meantime, had hired a group to hold public meetings at which different concepts were developed.  The Plan B people were never really sure if they were being heard by the city planners.  When the graphic below became public it was pretty close to what the Plan B people were prepared to settle for.  Was it close enough to the three concepts the city made public?  And, by the way, what are the current concepts the city planners have for the site?  Nothing anywhere that sets out the city’s position.

You can bet real money that the developer knows what they want – at this point all we have is what they presented last September – and that wasn’t a pretty sight.

The green area is what Plan B wants left open allowing a clear view to the lake from Brant Street. 

On October 22, 2021, City staff received a submission package from the applicant requesting amendments to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law to permit the proposed development at 2020 Lakeshore Road.

On October 26, 2021 the City received the application fees set out in the preconsultation package. City staff confirmed receipt of these materials and fees as of October 26 and initiated a completeness review to determine whether the required information and material, as identified in the preconsultation package, had been provided.

The Planning Department, at first, took the position that the development application was not complete but sometime after the January 13 council meeting at which the development application was deemed incomplete the matter was on the January 18th council meeting as an Urgent Business matter.  At that time the application was deemed to be complete.

Sometime on the Friday between the 13th and the 18th meetings new information from someone (either the city planning staff or the consultant for the developer or the city’s outside legal counsel) was provided resulted in the application being deemed complete.

The development application that was deemed incomplete did not have the the following required information:

1. Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment;
2. Park Concept Plan;
3. Angular Plane Study.

Staff notified the applicant that their application had been deemed incomplete.

Subsequently the applicant submitted a request to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) for a motion date to determine if the application was in fact in complete. The OLT never did schedule a date for such a motion to be heard.

On December 17, 2021, the applicant provided the following additional materials to the City in relation to their applications:

1. Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment;
2. Park Concept Plan;
3. Angular Plane Study.

Sometime before January 18th, City staff reviewed the additional materials provided and determined that with the receipt of additional materials described the development application was deemed to be complete December 17, 2021.

The clock was now ticking – starting December 17th, 2021 the city had 120 days to produce a Staff report on the development.

The immediate impact was the loss of about 30 days that could have been used to review the development application to be in a position to complete a review of a very big and a very complex file dumped on a department that was understaffed and had very recently added 15+ planners to staff who had to work in an office environment dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sometime in February, 2022 the city will hold a required statutory public meeting at Council Committee to consider the development applications.  It is expected that the statutory meeting will be virtual, which will crimp the number of delegations made at Council.

Sometime in April, 2022 a Staff recommendation report will be sent to Committee followed by a special Council meeting.

The city has three options:

Approve the application

Approve the application with required changes

Refuse the application setting out the reasons for the refusal

If refused the developer will take the case to the Ontario Land Tribunal

That is not the whole story.

The night Marianne Meed Ward was elected Mayor of Burlington.

When Marianne Meed Ward ran for Mayor in 2018 she told the citizens of Burlington that she wanted the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) to be moved north – to where the Burlington GO station was located.

It took a lot of energy and political guts to take that position but as Mayor, Marianne Meed Ward pushed and pushed and pushed.

And the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing eventually agreed and the UGC boundary was moved north with the southern boundary pushed north from Lakeshore Road to about Prospect.

Unfortunately, in the same decision, the Minister grandfathered a number of development sites and said they would fall under the rules of the old UGC – which ran right to the lake.  Right where the Waterfront Hotel development is to take place.

The decision didn’t help.

Council passed a motion last week that included an amendment.

Deem, in accordance with sections 22.1, 22(5) and 34(10.2) of the Planning Act, that applications submitted by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road as made and complete on December 17, 2021, as the required information and materials were provided on that date; and

Direct the Director of Community Planning to notify Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. that the required information and material have been provided for the applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road, in accordance with sections 22(6.1) and 34(10.4) of the Planning Act.

The amendment:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to complete the processing of the application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road within the statutory time frames, and bring forward a recommendation to Council and the Community to provide input and a decision before the statutory review period expires.

So what now?

There is a very senior planner on the file and an all hands on deck attitude is infusing staff – many who are working remotely.  Not the best situation to create the sense of team needed to get the very best out of people who have been pushed to the limit for more than 20 months.

To add to the troubled situation, Heather MacDonald, the chief planner as well as an Executive Director with the city, advised the city manager that she was going to retire.  This apparently was not a surprise to the city manager.

Members of Council are limited on what they can say about a development that has yet to be put before Council with a Staff recommendation.   As a result there hasn’t been as much as a peep from any of them.

What was Councillor Galbraith opposed to?

We do know that Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith was not very excited about what took place in those Closed sessions.  He didn’t vote for the decision to direct Burlington’s legal counsel to proceed that came out of the Closed session.  Because it was a Closed session the public will never know what Galbraith was opposed to.

Way back in 2010 Marianne Meed Ward ran for Council as the ward 2 candidate running on a platform to Save the Waterfront.  Burlington may be about to see shovels in the ground by the end of the year putting a dagger in the heart of what Meed Ward set out to do

The Plan B group that wanted the western edge of any development on the hotel site to be limited by what they called a “thin red line.

At one point the Planning department appeared to be onside – no one is sure at this point if the thin red line concept will be applied.

What we do know is that the Planning department is working hard at completing their report that will go to city council and that sometime before it goes to Council there will be a required Statutory meeting at which the developer can tell their story (they are not required to take part) and citizens can delegate on what they don’t like.

It will be quite a meeting.

Lovely design with great architectural features – but is this what the citizens of the city want in the downtown core?

 

Is this the new look of the city skyline?

Is this what the entrance to Spencer Smith Park going to look like?

 

 

 

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Where does the news come from?

By Staff

January 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Information comes to the Gazette in many ways.

From time to time we get an envelope with no return address and no signature telling us all about some dastardly behaviour that just has to be investigated.

There was nothing to talk about. Just a Clerk waiting for Council members to arrive.

Other times it’s a comment from someone we know reasonably well and on other occasions the information is from a well-placed individual from either the private sector or the public sector who ask not to be named.

Then there are those who know the truth but don’t want that truth to get out and they deliberately work at spinning the story they think we want to tell.

Lastly, there are those with bank balances bigger than ours who issue writs for libel which we have to defend.

The one that was new to us was a mention in the Events report put out by the city every Friday.  The notice was four lines long and went like this:

Events

January 25 2022, 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Special Meeting of Council- Cancelled
Cancelled due to lack of items.

That struck us as amazing and we felt it just had to be shared

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New look for the ground floor of city hall - what do you think?

By Staff

January 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City hall is getting an upgrade – at least the ground floor is.

Entering city hall from the Brant Street entrance.

Service Burlington, the people that have all the answers to all the questions you have, are moving their desks temporarily to second floor of City Hall starting February 1.

The temporary move of Service Burlington is happening to allow for construction to begin on the main floor of City Hall, as part of the City Hall modernization project.

The project is one of 22 recommendations from the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force report, and was approved by City Council in September 2019.

Work stations?

In keeping with the City’s focus on customer experience, this project will create a more open, customer-facing area on the first floor of City Hall. Construction on the main floor starts on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Under modified Step Two of the Province’s Roadmap to Re-open, Service Burlington is currently open for in-person service by appointment only for commissioning services and marriage licences.

Appointment-only services will continue until Feb. 1, and may be extended in response to COVID-19. Residents can visit burlington.ca/onlineservices to access a variety of City services online or contact Service Burlington directly during regular business hours, by phone at 905-335-7777 and email at city@burlington.ca.

The ground floor area will be much more open than it is now. Will the public be able to just hang around and read the paper or is this all going to be strictly business?

During construction, please access City Hall through the Brant Street entrance. The entrances from Locust Street and Elgin Street will be closed.

Once inside the building, please use the elevator in the lobby to access Service Burlington on the second floor, unless otherwise directed.

As with most construction projects, there will be some periodic noise, dust and dirt in the building.

Construction on the main floor of City Hall is expected to finish in the fall of 2022.

The plans for a new city hall look had next to nothing in the way of citizen participation.  Staff put together designs that were presented to council and it was a done deal.

There are changes planned as well for the plaza area outside city hall.  They were put on hold when hoped-for funding failed to come through.

 

 

 

 

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Real Estate was on a tear through all of 2021. Low inventory is driving prices

By Staff

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON,ON

 

Real Estate was on a tear through all of 2021.

Data for December, compiled by the Rocca Sisters, paints a rosy picture for the sell side.

This month we saw another record breaking average sale price of $1,395,564 up 22.4% December 2020-21. During the month of December properties sold for 114.73% of the listed price, just about a 15% increase over last year.

Properties sold in an average of 10 days compared to 19 days the same month last year. Inventory continues to be historically low and a chronic challenge in our marketplace for buyers. The lack of supply and strong demand has continued to drive prices.

Residential data for Burlington.

The condo market closed 2021 with a bang! The average price paid for a condo apartment unit in December was $696,000. Condo apartments sold for 105.87% of the listed price in December, up over last year about 5%. Average days on market were 17 days versus 30 days in December 2020. Supply & demand continue to drive the prices. Taking the opportunity to downsize now, getting an investment property (expanding your investment portfolio) or leaping into the market for your first time would be a very wise investment right now. Downsizers, investors and first time buyers continue to drive this market and will continue well into the new year.

The condo market in Burlington saw year over year increase of 47.1% .

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Two GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics coming to Burlington Jan. 22 and Feb. 5

By Staff

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Both GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics will take place at Sherwood Forest Park.  No appointment required.

GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinic details:

  • Dates: Saturday Jan. 22, 2022 and Saturday Feb. 5, 2022
  • Time: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Location: Sherwood Forest Park at 5270 Fairview St., Burlington

Both GO-VAXX Indoor Clinics are walk-ins. First, second, third and pediatric doses will be administered at the clinics as per the following schedule and guidelines on both days:

10 a.m. –3 p.m. : Moderna for ages 30 years of age and older

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. :  Adult Pfizer for ages 12 to 29 years of age

5 – 6 p.m. : Pediatric Pfizer: ages 5 (on the day of the clinic) to 11 years of age

Each clinic can deliver 320 vaccines in a day.

Additional information is available for getting the COVID-19 vaccine and  Who Can Get Vaccinated from the Province.

There will be approximately 320 vaccine doses administered during each vaccine clinic.

These GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics are in addition to the two GO-VAXX Mobile Bus Clinics at Sherwood Forest Park on Monday, Jan. 24 and Monday, Jan. 31.

The City of Burlington actively submitted an application to the Province of Ontario for the Go-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics and the GO-VAXX Mobile Bus Clinics to come to our city. The Province of Ontario operates these vaccination clinics as part of the province’s strategy to get COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians. The number of available vaccinations at the clinics is determined by the Province of Ontario. The City sought to support vaccination efforts by securing an appropriate local site to host these clinics to share additional vaccine opportunities with Burlington residents. In addition to these opportunities, there are many other ways to receive your COVID-19 vaccine, including at Halton Region clinics, pharmacies, community and pediatric clinics and doctors’ offices. Halton Region Covid-19 vaccination clinic information can be found at Halton – COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics.

Marianne Marianne Meed Ward wearing the Chain of Office while she presides over a council meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward explains how these additional opportunities to get vaccinated came about: “Vaccinations are typically provided by the Province and administered by Halton Region Public Health, local pharmacies or doctors’ offices. So, when we learned of an opportunity recently for the City to work with the Province directly to bring additional clinics to Burlington, we jumped on it.

“These additional clinics provide yet another opportunity to get your first, second or booster shots faster than you otherwise would have been able to, and will help in our collective efforts to slow down the spread and severity of COVID-19. Thank you to all those who are stepping up to get vaccinated, and to everyone who has already done so. If you are still waiting to get vaccinated, please take advantage of this additional opportunity to do so.

“This helps protect you, your family and friends, our whole community and hospital capacities.”

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One of those thousand word images

By Staff

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

One of those thousand word images.

 

Related news story:

Rivers on Omicron

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Rivers on Omicron: the Mild Variant that has re-shaped health care world wide

By Ray Rivers

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

COVID, since day one of the pandemic, has had a stigma attached to it.  Unless one was a resident in congregate living or a front-line worker at a health centre, school, factory or grocery store, catching COVID was because of carelessness.

Omicron has changed all that.  The virus has spread so extensively and quickly that probably one in three people you know can now claim to have had symptoms; mostly a mild cold if they had been appropriately vaccinated.  Instead of being ashamed people are beginning to wear COVID, almost, like a badge of honour.

Was the Omicron variant of Covid19 a glimpse of what the public was going to have to face for years ?

And that is sad because the latest variant has filled our hospitals and shut down elective surgery.  As we hit 4000 admissions with 600 in the ICU and 40 people a day dying, it should be clear that the term ‘mild’ is just so inappropriate.   While the new variant seems to be taking aim at younger people, it is still taking a toll on more vulnerable seniors.

4000 admissions a day is a lot of hospital beds.  To that end, the federal government has purchased some $300 million worth of field hospital units, which could be quickly assembled.

Something like this was erected near Burlington’s Jo Brant hospital earlier in the epidemic.  But these kits are mostly still sitting in a warehouse waiting for hospitals to have enough staff to use them.  And that is the problem.  COVID, particularly this latest variant not only has filled beds but it is also emptying the wards of sick and overworked staff who would attend to those beds.

There have been a number of articles published recently querying Canada’s health care system.  Of course, it really is 13 provincial/territorial systems delivering health care under the auspices of the federal government and the Canada Health Act.  The Act gives us universal care and a single insurer.

The bottom line, when all is said and done, is that Canada’s health care compares favourably with other nations, even during COVID.  We’re not the lowest cost per capita, but still operate at a lower cost per capita than Germany, Sweden and a host of other European nations.  And besides enjoying better health outcomes, Canadians spend less than half what our southern neighbours do.

Health care had become a political football

Critics like the Fraser Institute, a right wing think tank, will never be content with a single payer public health system.  Yet they fail to appreciate that the private sector is more involved in delivering health care (30%) here than in many other nations.

We have privatized the delivery of diagnostic, hernia repair, colonoscopy, cardiac care and other aspects – taking these services out of the hospitals and into private clinics, though they are still covered by our single payer insurance.

Politicians seeking election always promise to add more hospital beds, as Mr. Ford did last election.  It’s as if more beds is some kind of panacea – will fix what is wrong with the system.  But beds only work if there is staff to care for the people in those beds.  And that situation has only got worse with this pandemic.  When 20-30% of nursing staff are home sick and unable to work, and many are so burned out they are leaving the profession, we have a real problem.

At the beginning of the epidemic lawn signs seemed to be popping up everywhere thanking our front-line heroes for their tireless efforts to save us.   But not everyone felt that way.  In Alberta, as the second wave was receding, Jason Kenny determined in his mind that it was all over and decided to fire 11,000 health care workers.   Then, as if to add insult to injury, he set out to roll wages back by 3%.

Kenny, buoyed with false optimism, also lifted all public health restrictions, making Alberta a living example of the real wild west.  A crisis of his own making ensued as the virus surged back with a vengeance collapsing Alberta’s health care system and swamping its hospitals with sick and dying.  In the end he had to call in the feds to bail the province out.

Nurses were being pushed to the limit and felt they weren’t getting the support they needed. The burnout rate was very high.

And it wasn’t just Alberta.  The Ford government in Ontario has a philosophical problem with unions, but especially those in the broader public sector.  So Ford introduced Bill 124 to cap all public service salaries at an annual 1% increase, even as inflation has recently climbed to almost 5%.  Is it any wonder that nurses in this province are now in full flight to better paying jobs?

Long term care (LTC) in Ontario, and across much of the country, is an idea badly in need of re-invention.  Ontario is losing Minister Rod Phillips, who some consider the most/only competent minister in Ford’s government, providing we forgive him for breaking COVID rules and flying south in the midst of a nasty wave of COVID in the province.  Still, he had brought in some accountability, such as re-introducing the spot inspections of facilities, which Mr. Ford had cancelled soon after becoming premier.

But it’ll take more than that to fix LTC for our seniors, including facilitating people staying longer in their homes, if at all feasible.  And it will take national standards which the feds have promised.  Indeed a national LTC act with appropriate federal funding would be an excellent companion to what the feds have initiated at the other end of the age scale with child care… and, of course, the Canada Health Act itself.

Canadians overwhelmingly support our universal, single payer health care system, with some surveys running as high as 86% approval.  But it could always be made better.  We could add pharmacare, for example, something the previous provincial government in Ontario had been moving towards.  We could put more effort into reducing wait times for elective surgery, especially in geographically remote places where specialists are difficult to find.

And we could start to treat our health care front-line workers, and especially nursing staff, with the respect they deserve.  We should pay them what they are worth and maybe start putting up those ‘thank you’ signs again.

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

 

Background links”

Health Stats –     The Debate –      More Funding –      Fed Mobile Hospitals

Rod Phillips –     Nurses –     Polling on Health Care –      National LTC Standards

Canada vs USA –      Canada VS USA –    Staff Shortages –    Staff Quitting

 

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Is the city going to see shovels in the ground at the entrance to Spencer Smith Park?

By Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns has a couple of very contentious developments in her ward.

After a minor tussle over which agenda would prevail ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns decided she would hold her ward meeting (virtually) despite the fact that the Mayor was holding another Telephone Town hall at the same time.

The Mayor did promise to ensure that in future she would make herself aware of what other members of Council have planned before scheduling her events.

Kearns has made a practice of holding meetings with people in her ward during the pandemic.  She moved to a dual format that had some people taking part on-line while others took part in person.

Will this development see shovels in the ground before the end of the year?

This evening’s event gives the Councillor an opportunity to update people on just what was decided about the development application made by Vrancorp owner Darko Vraich to demolish the Waterfront Hotel and replace it with a two tower structure that will consist of a 35 storey building and a 30 storey tower, both atop a five level podium.

At a Tuesday afternoon Council meeting the public learned that the city has decided the development application is complete and will proceed to process the application.

There is a lot of explaining to be done on the full story behind this development; Kearns will have an opportunity to do just that this evening.

 

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Ontario's Auditor General Addresses Criticism on iGaming Report

By Pierre Garner

January 21, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Towards the end of last year, the office of the Auditor General in Ontario released a report highlighting the possible legal issue that might arise from the proposed online gaming model. The model is aimed at the privatization of the iGaming industry, which has been under the wing of the Provincial government.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk

In the 15-page report, “Internet Gaming in Ontario,” Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk puts to question three major issues; the legality of the model in light of the Criminal Code, the integrity and fairness of a privatized iGaming market in Ontario, and the provincial governance structure of internet gaming.

However, the report has received a lot of criticism, especially from industry folks with vested interests. In response, the office of the Auditor General has noted that it is not against the idea of having a regulated iGaming market. Its only concerned is the technical legalities of the proposed model.

“Ontario remains committed to launching a competitive internet gaming market to help protect its consumers. The province has already designed the online gaming model to achieve this objective in compliance with the Criminal Code,” wrote Natasha Krtajic, the parliamentary advisor and press secretary of the Attorney General.

Background Info on the Status Quo
To understand the allegations made in Lysyk’s report and the reason for criticism, we need to first comprehend the proposed enhancement to the present Ontario online gaming offerings.

PROLINE+ the sole provincially operated legal provider of online gaming services in Ontario.

Currently, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, a province-run entity, is the sole legal provider of online gaming services in Ontario. This corporation runs the only legal online bookmaker in the province, PROLINE+.

In light of the Ontario online gaming model, the government has appointed the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and its subsidiary, iGaming Ontario to vet and review applications made by private online casinos and sportsbooks operators.

According to the president of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), Paul Burns, it’s speculated that the iGaming market in Ontario will be opened up to the private sector by the close of the first quarter of 2022. CGA happens to be the national trade association representing top suppliers and operators in Canada’s eSports, sports betting, lottery, and gaming industries.

With the biggest betting events (Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics) around the corner, the pressure to open up the market for private operators is mounting on Ontario’s government. Fortunately for punters, there are already some online casinos that operate in Ontario as stated by Online-Casino.com.

A Breakdown of the OAG’s Report
According to the report, the government’s plan to privatize the market presents several legal problems. These problems are noted as follows:

Delegation of Decision-Making Powers

The proposed model is designed to pass business risk and decision-making power to private operators. According to the OAG’s report, this delegation of responsibility might fail to satisfy the “conduct and manage” requirements on commercial gambling. The provincial governments are tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding these requirements under the Criminal Code.

“The issue of whether the provincial government has illegally delegated its “conduct and manage” mandate in commercial gaming to a private operator has been a recurring legal subject in Canada,” the report reads.

The Regulatory and Governance Risk
Lysyk mentions that the function of a regulator is different from that of an operator. She also notes that there is an overlap in involvement between the province regulator and the operators in terms of internet gaming in the current situation. That being the case, Lysyk writes that “the model or vehicle itself is what we consider a problem.”

To address the problem, the report recommends that the Ministry of the Attorney General transfers the operating and governance responsibilities of the iGaming Ontario from AGCO, its parent entity. The report further suggests that should iGaming Ontario’s business model meet the “conduct and manage” requirements, its reporting relationship with AGCO should be transferred.
The IGO’s Governance Structure Poses a Potential Problem

The Auditor General expressed concerns that the entity is not well-structured to verify and ascertain the integrity and fairness of games. The report recommended that the IGO inform the Legislature on how it plans to address the issue of integrity and fairness before launching the iGaming market.

In rebuttal, through the Ministry of the Attorney General, the government insisted that the AGCO has well laid out standards for the iGaming market – inclusive of integrity concerns. All online games will have to be third-party tested and certified by an independent lab, and the AGCO has its iGaming Compliance Unit for compliance oversight purposes.

Lysyk’s Response to Criticism on the Report
CGA’s president and CEO, Paul Burn, dismissed the OAG’s report as a mare opinion when recently commenting to The Parleh. When asked about the industry pushback that the report has been receiving, Lysyk challenged the idea that the report’s content is just an opinion.

She holds that what was outlined in the report was nothing but solid facts that have been vetted for accuracy.

“We have no vested interest in the outcomes of this agenda. Our position is unbiased, independent, and objective of the benefits of iGaming in Ontario. The report is factual and free from vested interest,” noted Bonnie Lysyk.

The Auditor general’s office is not oblivious to the benefits of having a regulated privatized iGaming market in Ontario. No. The benefits are difficult to argue against. The report was not suggesting that the model lacks economic legs.

By viewing the report objectively, it becomes clear that what the office of the Auditor General was trying to say is, “We are not completely sure and confident as to how you want to go about this.”

“Our point is that at this point, there are several issues that we need to identify and address. At the end of the day, the iGaming revenue will provide additional revenue for social services such as health. We are not saying that the iGaming market is a bad thing. All we did was question the integrity of the model and how our consumers will be protected once the market launches,” noted the OAG.

On-line gambling has grown significantly – it is now a very big business. Fair and reasonable regulation should be in place.

Bottom Line
Lysyk is completely aware that big money will always remain a big topic. Noting that the report’s biggest critics are individuals who have heavily invested in anticipation for the new market, she requests them to remain objective and conscious of consumer interests.

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Telephone Town Hall on city response to Covid19 pandemic

By Staff

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

TELEPHONE Town Hall this evening at 6:30 pm – it will run for an hour.

The purpose of the telephone town hall event is to share information and answer resident questions about the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and recent impacts on city programs and services.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will be on the telephone this evening – directing questions to a panel that will be with her.

The town hall will be hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who will be joined by a panel of local leaders, including representatives from Joseph Brant Hospital.

How to Participate
Residents who would like to participate in the town hall can do so in the following ways:

1. Register in advance: Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. Residents who would like to be added to the telephone call list can email getinvolved@burlington.ca by noon on Jan. 18, 2022. Please note: if you registered for any of the previous town halls, you are not required to register your phone number a second time. If you wish to have your phone number removed from the call list, please email getinvolved@burlington.ca by noon on Jan. 18, 2022.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-759-5308 just before 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19 to join the town hall. For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again.

3. Listen to audio: Live audio from the Jan. 19 town hall will be broadcast on YourTV, channel 700 on Cogeco and on the YourTV Halton YouTube page.

Once the call begins, a moderator will provide participants with instructions for how to submit their questions to the leadership panel.

A recording and transcript of the town hall will be posted online after Jan. 19 at burlington.ca/townhall.

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Catholic school board reverses its decision and will now fly the Pride flag

By Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After hours of rancorous debate the Halton District Catholic School Board voted 5-3 to allow the flying of a Pride flag outside schools in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills during the month of June – Pride month.

The inability of many of those taking part in the debate to follow rules of procedure and the attempt to revise the agenda was a sad example of how adults resolve their differences.

Those opposed to the flying of the Pride flag were argumentative, petty, and disruptive but failed in their effort to keep the flag off the flag poles.

The students were very good in making their point.

It was not a debate for the board to be proud of – the beliefs might have been strongly held but that does not excuse the behaviour seen last night.  It was most unfortunate.

The 5-3 vote in favour of flying the Pride flag was necessary.

Voting for the motion: Trustees Brenda Agnew, Patrick Murphy, Nancy Guzzo, Peter DeRosa and Janet O’Hearn-Czarnota.  Trustees Tim O’Brien, Helena Karabela and Vincent Iantomasi voted against.

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Our COVID19 battle is far from over - hospitalization levels still rising

By Staff

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is far from over.

Ontario reported 4,183 people were hospitalized with COVID-19; 580 are in ICU units; at least 7,086 new cases  have been reported as of Tuesday the 18th at 10:23 am.

82.1 per cent of patients admitted to the ICU were admitted for COVID-19 and 17.9 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive for COVID-19.

Related news story

Three levels at JBH reportiCOVID19 infections

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Blanchard street residents find several feet of snow at the end of a driveway they shoveled out the night before

By Staff

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a problem that has plagued seniors for some time.

When packed down this is very hard snow to remove

After shoveling for hours yesterday, a Blanchard resident was faced with a four foot bank of snow across the driveway this morning. The other side of the street had nothing. This wall is down the entire South side of the street. The resident cannot remove this hardened wall of compacted snow and is unable to leave the driveway should the need arise.

A disappointing scene after shoveling out the driveway.

This has been an ongoing issue over the years but none as bad as this.

They have sent off emails and pictures to the mayor, and public works.

“I want the city to clean this up! Now!”

The solution might be to turn to your neighbours for the needed help.

 

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Metrolinx is adding reinforcements to its fleet of mobile vaccine buses to help push back against the spread of COVID-19.

By Staff

January 18TH, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Metrolinx has partnered with the Government of Ontario to operate a fleet of mobile COVID vaccine clinics to get more needles into arms at a critical time in the pandemic.

The popular mobile clinics – known as GO-VAXX buses – are retrofitted GO Transit buses and there are now five of them on the road. This is up from the original three buses.

The GO-VAXX buses go all over Ontario loaded with trained medical staff that can deliver about 250 to 300 COVID-19 vaccine doses per day. The mobile clinics make it easier for many people to get their first, second, third or child doses.

The easy-to-spot buses have been so sought after especially once Omicron began to rapidly spread, appointments are now required. This prevents people waiting in long lines during the winter.

GO VAXX bus
One of five GO-VAXX buses ready to hit the road. (Metrolinx photo)

Just how popular have the GO-VAXX buses been?

Since last summer, more than 30,000 doses have been administered. Most importantly, the buses help get into rural areas and other hard to reach communities that might not have nearby clinics.  This includes communities outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including eastern and western Ontario. They are also fully accessible.

The plan is to expand the GO-VAXX fleet even more in the coming weeks and months.

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COVID-19 Outbreak Expanded to Additional Inpatient Unit at Joseph Brant Hospital  

By Staff

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The COVID-19 outbreak that was declared on Unit 4 North 700 (4N700) on January 12 has extended to an additional unit, 5 North 400 (5N400), as of January 17.

Prior to that there was an outbreak on the 6th floor.

Three additional patients and four healthcare workers have now tested positive for COVID-19. These new infections are associated with the original outbreak on 4N700 that infected five patients.

Joseph Brant Hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control team and Employee Health Services are ensuring all patients on the unit, along with staff and physicians who have been or may have been exposed, are being contacted, monitored, tested as required and self-isolating in keeping with Public Health guidelines.

Patients on the unit are in isolation as of January 17 and will receive instructions on home self-isolation requirements when being discharged from the hospital. 5N400 is closed to new patient admissions. In addition, Essential Care Providers (ECPs) and visitors are not permitted in the unit, with limited exceptions as determined by the nurse manager. ECPs are asked to speak to the care team with questions around access to the unit. Patients can still connect with their loved ones by telephone and video – both telephone and WiFi are available at JBH at no cost.

Joseph Brant Hospital is advising anyone who may have recently visited 5N400 to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Please consult the Halton Region website for more information if you are experiencing symptoms or had exposure to someone who is COVID-19 positive or experiencing symptoms.

JBH is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work with Halton Region Public Health to bring a safe end to the outbreak as soon as possible. Patients or loved ones who have questions or concerns can contact a member of the care team or JBH Patient Relations team at 905-632-3737 ext. 4949 or by email patientrelations@josephbranthospital.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Open Letter from the Halton Members of Parliament to Catholic Trustees

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The four Members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton wrote an Open Letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.  The contents of that letter are set out below.

Dear Trustees,

On January 18th you will have an opportunity to vote on whether you will allow your schools to raise the Pride Flag this June.  From a group of one elected officials to another we understand the seriousness in which you take this vote and the role that your convictions play in determining how you will side.

Next week, you can act to show the 37,000 students that you teach that the Halton Catholic District School Board embraces diversity, celebrates love, and recognizes the community’s desire to officially embrace the 25LGBTQ+ members of your schools.

In 2016, the Pride Flag was flown for the first time on Parliament Hill. Some of us were there that day to celebrate this important milestone for Canada and the 25LGBTQ+ community. The simple act of raising the rainbow flag made an enormous difference in the lives of the advocates who fought for this ceremony to take place. It told them that their country supports them, that their country loves them, and that their country needs their voice at the highest levels of political leadership. You can send the same message to the students, their parents, and your staff, that the HCDSB supports them, loves them and that they are called to shape the future of their community.

To quote your colleague Trustee Agnew, “(you) have a chance to be leaders, champions if you will, of the future, of amazing things to come.”

On January 18th you have a chance to stand up for change. As the federally elected representatives for Halton, we express our unwavering support in favour of raising the flag.

Thank you for taking time to consider our request.

 

Honourable Anita Anand, MP Oakville     Honourable Karina Gould, MP, Burlington

Pam Damoff, MP, Oakville-North Burlington          Adam VanKoeverden, MP, Milton

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