Stiles: AG report paints picture of corruption in the Conservative government

By Staff

August 9th, 2023



The Auditor General issues a scathing report saying Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives “favoured certain developers” in a controversial Greenbelt land swap that could make the landowners $8.28 billion.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk turned in her report – she also turns in her keys to the office on September 5th when her term of office comes to an end. Premier Doug Ford on the right.

In a searing 93-page report to the legislature Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk found Ford’s opening up of 7,400 acres of environmentally protected land last fall “cannot be described as a standard or defensible process.”

Lysyk said the Tories did not need the 15 parcels of land to achieve their promised target of building 1.5 million homes over the next decade to alleviate Ontario’s housing crisis.

Premier announces he will hold a Press Conference at 1:00 om.

Marit Stiles, Leader of the Opposition

Before he can get a word in Marit Stiles, Leader of the Opposition hammers the Premier saying:

“Let’s call this what it is: corruption. Ontarians deserve better than a government that enriches a select number of party donors at the expense of hard-working Ontarians,” said Stiles, after noting that the Ford government’s Greenbelt transferred $8.3 billion over to donors and developers.

“This is not about Mr. Ford, this is not about politics, this is about reinstating Ontarians’ trust in their government. Trust that this government has seriously eroded with their insider dealings and culture of corruption that goes all the way up to the Premier.”

Stiles and the Ontario NDP are calling to immediately remove Minister Steve Clark from Cabinet. Following the resignation, the Ontario NDP are calling to:

• Immediately recall the Legislature, to reverse course, and return these lands to the Greenbelt and cancel these deals with developers.

• And that this Conservative government not stand in the way of the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation, including any potential criminal investigations – because we know this is just beginning and the public deserve and to know everything.

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This might be a good time for the Mayor to go on holiday

By Staff

August 9th, 2023



The Statement didn’t provide the kind of information the public is asking for.

Huge public interest in that naturalized garden article we covered in detail yesterday and the article we published earlier today asking some very detailed questions is as to how this mess was created.

Several readers have asked if we could find out more about the Court case the Mayor said the City recently won.

Where was the case heard; when was it heard and would they provide a copy of the decision?

No answer yet.  The note from her Media person has him away from his desk.

One reader make a good point:

“In all the media coverage, I haven’t seen any indication that the matter had already been to court.

I find it suspicious that the Mayor and Co.  don’t actually provide details of the court ruling.

In The Spec, the lawyer for the home owner was talking about taking the case to court, not about appealing a court ruling.

Something doesn’t add up.”

Related news stories:

City weed-whacks citizens garden

Who did what and where did they get the authority to do what they did?


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How did this happen? Mayor issues a statement - deflects rather than address the issue

By Pepper Parr

August 9th, 2023



The response to the article on the woman who had a garden at the front and back of her house  weed-whacked by the city has been interesting.

We will follow the steps that her legal counsel takes to right what many see as a serious wrong.

Our interest at this point is – how did this happen?

Brynn Nheiley, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility

Kerry Davren, Director of Bylaw Enforcement .

Who made the decisions?

Where was the oversight?

Burlington’s bylaw compliance policy is – or was at one point, to respond to complaints. “We don’t go looking for situations where a bylaw is not being conformed to.  We get a complaint and we investigate and try very hard to explain to people where the problems is and what they need to do.”

The impression we got at the time was that the bylaw enforcement people look for ways to solve a problem assuming in many cases people were just not aware that they were not conforming to the bylaw.

Let’s follow that thread.

Someone calls the bylaw department and registers a complaint.  Someone in the department takes down the details (is there a form they use – some way of capturing the information?)

A naturalized area is defined as “an area or vegetation deliberately planted or cultivated with one or more species of wildflowers, shrubs, annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, or combination of them, that is monitored and maintained by a person.

Then a bylaw officer is assigned the task of meeting with the person making the complaint.

Did that happen in this instance ?

At some point Kerry Devron, who at the time was the Manager of Bylaw Enforcement, has to make a decision.

There is little doubt in our mind that Ms Devron would have taken the complaint to the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility  and sought some direction.

Back in October when the issue became real – by which we mean there was a complaint and some action was taken by the department and that at some point the Executive Director was brought into the loop.

We now know that the City legal department was in the loop as far back is as last October.  David Donnelly, a lawyer, who was very familiar with the issue – he had in the past defended, successfully we might add, provided the legal department with the existing case law.

All this happened before the beginning of August.

Why is that important?  On August 3rd, the City announced that Kerry Devron was being promoted to the position of Director of the newly created By Law Enforcement Department.

We the elected and the staff that serve the public are not punching bags. Tax payers – that’s a different issue.

So, everything Ms Devron did was as a Manager.

Managers don’t make decisions that advise a citizen that they could be facing a fine of $10,000 per day.

And Managers don’t advise a citizen that should they obstruct city staff from doing what they were required to do that they could be facing a fine of $100,000

So, if Ms Devron, a manager didn’t make the decisions – who did?

Move up the food chain to the Executive Director.

One final question?  Who decided to inform the company that holds the mortgage on the property that Karen Barnes might not be complying with the City bylaws?

Who sent that issue to the legal department – and why did the legal department accept the assignment?

That’s enough in the way of questions for today.

We expect to be moving further up the food chain on this one.

Mayor Meed Ward along with Councillors Nisan and Bentivegna issued the following Joint Statement:

Our offices have been receiving questions from residents regarding the City of Burlington allowing for naturalized gardens on properties, based on an article that appeared in the Toronto Star over the weekend. We appreciate the concerns members of the community have been raising regarding naturalized gardens and environmental protections in Burlington – we share them. That is why the City of Burlington updated our Lot Maintenance Bylaw in 2018 to allow for naturalized gardens and again in 2022 to clarify regulations that apply to naturalized gardens.

There are numerous examples of naturalized gardens in neighbourhoods across our City that are operating within our bylaw. Such gardens are regularly maintained and pruned, have no other non-conforming weeds growing, and no invasive species being grown. Examples of non-conforming weeds come from the definitions of noxious weeds that are set by the Province of Ontario under the Weed Control Act.

We welcome and support these gardens and appreciate residents who maintain them within City and Provincial standards.

We will do our best to continue to educate residents about naturalized gardens, invasive species, and lot maintenance responsibilities. Our bylaw allows for naturalized gardens and those gardens must conform to lot maintenance standards. Each complaint the City receives is investigated and treated the same under the terms of our bylaw. We will also defend our City bylaws in a balanced and impartial manner. When the City investigates a complaint, it provides the property owner with information regarding the requirements of the bylaw, where they may not be in compliance, and continues to work with them until compliance is achieved within reasonable timelines.

Only when that process fails, and as a last resort, would charges be filed with the court. Fines, up to a maximum, established by the Province and adopted by the City, may be imposed by a Court on an owner of any property found in non-compliance with the bylaw. The amount of the potential fines is included in all notices for transparency.

The recent Star story listed a property that does not comply with our bylaw for naturalized gardens. It has been under formal and extensive City of Burlington bylaw investigation and enforcement since 2015. The City has attempted to work closely with the property owners to bring their property into compliance with our bylaws. In doing so, the City consulted with experts in naturalized gardens. This matter was recently before the courts and the ruling was in the City’s favour.

We invite Burlington residents to review our bylaws and provide feedback and suggestions, if they have any. We also recommend the community reviews the Province’s Table of Noxious Weeds and shares any suggestions they have regarding those regulations with their local MPP.

We appreciate the opportunity to engage with the community on this important environmental matter, to reassure residents that naturalized gardens are welcome in Burlington and to share information about how residents can ensure these conform with our City’s bylaws.

The Joint Statement doesn’t appear to suggest that this issue can be worked out amicably.  Karen Barnes is going to need financial support.  She has created a site where the environmentalist can help.

Click on the image if you think you want to help.

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A Mobile Concert Experience

By Staff

August 9th, 2023



THE CONCERT TRUCK will be presenting 10 free 30-minute performances across Burlington.

See it is as a Mobile Concert Experience taking place across the city brtween Wednesday August 9, through to Sunday  August 13, 2023

Burloak Park: Wed Aug 9 at Noon

Berton Park: Wed Aug 9 at 7pm

Chartwell Lakeshore Retirement (5314 Lakeshore Rd.): Thu Aug 10 at Noon

BPAC Outdoor Plaza: Thu Aug 10 at 2pm

Burlington Mall: Fri Aug 11 at 4pm

Civic Square: Fri Aug 11 at 6pm

BPAC Outdoor Plaza: Sat Aug 12 at 1pm and 3:30pm

BPAC Outdoor Plaza: Sun Aug 13 at 1pm and 3:30pm

All Concert Truck events are free to attend!

The Concert Truck is a mobile music venue that strengthens communities by redefining the concert experience and making live music accessible to all. Created by pianists Nick Luby and Susan Zhang, the project aims to engage diverse communities and audiences nationwide with thoughtful, timely programming, and works with arts organizations of all sizes to build a critical presence in their communities.

The Concert Truck is a 16-foot box truck and a fully functioning mobile concert hall, complete with lights, sound system, and piano. Nick, Susan and the truck have toured across the country, partnering with arts organizations to help build their presence in the communities they serve by presenting concerts in city streets, music and arts festivals, schools, neighbourhoods, parks and beyond.


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Told that she could be fined $10,000 a day for not complying with a bylaw the City then advises her mortgage holder of the infraction

By Pepper Parr

August 8th, 2023



What do you do when seven people from city hall show up on your doorstep – no notice and tell you they are going to cut what they claim are weeds on your front lawn and back yard?

The group of seven didn’t bother to knock on the door – they just began cutting.  This is the situation Karen Barnes found herself facing on June 20th.

Barnes decided in 2015 to create a natural garden, one that respected the environment and would become a place where Monarch butterflies would stop over on the annual migration to Mexico.

Her difficulty with the City started back in October of this year when she got a notice from the city about the plants in the garden.

On the left the garden in full bloom, on the right the garden which was described by city workers as nothing but weeds that they took out with a weed wacker.

Barnes has been in the house for 30 years; the natural garden was a decision she made eight years ago when it became clear to her that Climate Change meant changes in the way we were living on this planet were necessary.

In a media release sent to the Toronto Star exclusively Barnes said: “The law is very clear, I have a right to grow this garden consistent with my sincerely held beliefs. I’ve met with the City and hired an expert to demonstrate I’m complying with the By-law. I want an investigation into these bullying tactics.”

Karen Barnes is a sensitive soul. When she talks to people her natural gesture is a hand on their arm or shoulder. She said: “It’s kind of humiliating too, because this is our public-facing expression of our beliefs and people who are just coming by, they’re not going to know the city did this. They’re going to think it’s a decision we made and that’s not the expression that we want to have to the world.”

Karen Barnes, who has a master’s degree in ecology from McMaster University, said one of the crew members told her: “We’re just cutting the grass.” But to her and her daughter, it was the destruction of a habitat that has brought them both joy since 2015, when they first allowed native plants to return; an approach experts call “passive restoration” — and evolved into maintaining the naturalized space.

“Purple asters came, milkweed came and the bylaw at the time allowed for all this,”

“Purple asters came, milkweed came and the bylaw at the time allowed for all this,” she said, describing how the plants led to visits from endangered monarch butterflies and other species.

Barnes has known David Donnelly for a number of years. He is a lawyer specializing in environment issues – he handled the PERL (Protecting Escarpment and Rural Land) case against Nelson Quarry over their application for an extension of the land they could mine.

The joint tribunal that heard the case found for the PERL group.

Donnelly also worked with the people who wanted a stop put to the plans to cut several thousand trees on the Meridian Brick works people. While there was no definitive decision – so far nothing has been cut.

There was a point when, as ward 2 Councillor, Marianne Meed Ward was all over that issue with her support. As Mayor she hasn’t had much to say.

Donnelly got in touch with the people at City hall, explained the legislation that secured the rights of those who wanted a natural garden. At the time Donnelly thought the city now understood what they could and couldn’t do – and the issue seemed to have come to an end.

Then, on May 26, of 2023, the city issued a notice of non-compliance with several bylaws, including the 20-centimetre rule, with just 11 days to meet a deadline to rectify the alleged problems.

That 20 centimetre rule requires that the height of a plant cannot be more than 20 centimetres high.

On June 4th, Barnes got a letter from the City advising her that she had until June 6th to comply with the bylaw.

One June 20th seven people showed and began cutting the natural garden.

Karen Barnes on the left with her daughter Julia. The wire baskets on the lawn were where the naturalized plants were located. “We felt we were violated” said Karen

What the Barnes’s and her lawyer say is a purposeful, naturalized garden — restored and planted to help bees and butterflies, nature’s pollinators, and increase biodiversity in their corner of Burlington was permitted — according to the city, the garden was violating several bylaws.

After the City first notified Barnes that her yard was not in compliance back in October, she spoke with Donnelly, who in turn spoke with the city’s lawyer. Donnelly said he provided the case law allowing such spaces and, as requested, an expert report on the property’s naturalized area.

The Barnes family had maintained a yard of goldenrod, coneflower, wood poppy, purple asters and milkweed — that was until the City of Burlington sent crews to level what they called “weeds.”

Despite the talks taking place the City crew arrived with landscaping equipment and went to work, leaving sections of the front yard levelled as well as parts of the backyard. Karen Barnes and her daughter Julia said they were left feeling “violated.”

The growing the goldenrod, coneflower and wood poppy, along with other native species, were not in compliance with a rule to maintain all vegetation under 20 centimetres, among other infractions which the homeowners dispute. As a penalty, the city had threatened an astonishing $10,000-a-day fine until the yard was remedied to their standards.  They added that a fine of $100,000 could be levied if Barnes tried to obstruct the City workers.

David Donnelly. prominent environment lawyer is representing Karen Barnes.

“Burlington has a deserved reputation for respecting the environment and homeowners that are doing something about the climate crisis by creating pollinator habitat, reducing the need for mowing, and other stewardship measures. Writing Ms. Barnes’ mortgage company is disgraceful conduct that needs to be investigated, as the by-law doesn’t give the City this authority”, Donnelly added.

Donnelly was quoted in the Toronto Star saying: “Giving butterflies a safe haven, you want to fine them $10,000 a day? It’s perverse.”

Barnes said: ““We want to show that you can work with nature and have a positive, supportive relationship.”

The city, for its part, says that despite allowances for naturalized areas in the city’s bylaw, the Barnes’ yard “did not meet the definition,” and that the City has the authority to enforce its bylaws on private property.

The municipal war over naturalized gardens and a focus on conformity is not unique to Burlington — though Donnelly called the threatened fine unprecedented.

These types of bylaw issues are usually driven by complaints — a neighbour who, maybe seeing the yard as an eyesore or unable to differentiate between weeds and pollinator species or complaints about what they think is a lack of maintenance.

According to Burlington’s own lot-maintenance bylaw, a naturalized area is defined as “an area or vegetation deliberately planted or cultivated with one or more species of wildflowers, shrubs, annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, or combination of them, that is monitored and maintained by a person.”

Such areas, the bylaw says, are excluded from the rule to maintain lots with plants more than 20 centimetres or less — many native species naturally grow much taller, like the goldenrod stalks still standing in the front yard.

As outrageous as this sounds – it gets worse.

Today, the 8th of August Kerry Davren starts her new job is as Director of Bylaw Enforcement. Prior to the promotion Davren was the city’s manager of bylaw enforcement. At that time she said the order issued to the Barns said that the city may carry out the work at the homeowner’s expense if it was not complied with, as allowed by the city’s bylaws.

Kerry Davren, with 14 years of experience starts her new job is as Director of Bylaw Enforcement today.

Davren said bylaw officers are “appointed as weed inspectors in accordance with the Weed Control Act” which requires certification and training on plant identification, and sent a photo of the property before “the weeds were trimmed.”

Davren did not respond to a question about whether it’s common practice to contact a homeowner’s mortgage company.

Brynn Nheiley, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility

Brynn Nheiley, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility explains why she hired Kerry Davren “Kerry’s breadth of experiences will be a great asset to the City of Burlington as she leads the newly established Bylaw Compliance Department. Demonstrating compassion, logic and professionalism, Kerry continues to highlight and respond to evolving needs of the Burlington community. She is highly respected by her staff, City Council and the Burlington Leadership Team.”

Given the performance by Davren when she was a Manager one wonders what she will do is as a Director.

The case law, which Donnelly provided to the City of Burlington back in the fall, includes a 1990s Toronto case in which bylaws were successfully challenged on the basis that they infringed the Charter right to freedom of expression. Donnelly explained these rulings set out that as long as a naturalized garden is a “conscientious” or purposeful expression of one’s beliefs, it is permitted under Canadian law.

Donnelly said they plan to challenge the City of Burlington’s application of the bylaw in court as unconstitutional. He added that it’s unclear what fines or costs the Barnes currently face.

When there is an issue that a community finds is unfair support comes quite quickly.
A Fund Raiser has been started to raise the $25,000 they feel will be needed to take the case to Court and any appeals that might ensue.

Karen Barnes has chosen Small Change as their fund raiser.  Click on the Small Change Fund image if you want to support getting to the bottom of what happened and why.

Karen Barnes has yet to see the Barbie movie.

The interview with Barns was lengthy, interrupted more than once when she asked for a moment to get a grip on her emotions. We wanted to know what Karen did in her spare time; what did she read, where did she spend her spare time? . She paused and I wasn’t sure she was going to answer the question so I asked if she had yet seen the Barbie movie that is a bit of a rage right now.

She responded – I didn’t know there was a Barbie movie – why would someone do something like that – and then she burst into laughter.

This is going to be an interesting story – it certainly has legs.

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My Canadian Tire money is now on a red plastic card - No more Canadian Tire hard cash

By Wesley Hatt

August 8th, 2023



As time moves on, we continually see changes around us. In a day where profit margins are continually analyzed and extras are cut, we are now left with a red card with a triangle instead of Canadian Tire cold cash.

Canadian Tire money can now be bought on eBAy as a collectible.

As a child I was amazed when I heard that a neighbour just bought something big with a fat stack of Canadian Tire money that he had been saving. The feeling of paper instead of coins made it seem so much more valuable as a child. As a kid, I never had a stack of real cash, but I did enjoy the feeling of a stack of Canadian Tire money as though I was rich… even if most of the money was 5 cent denominations.

When covid hit, I actually had some Canadian Tire money and tried to use it. It was denied with the reason being Covid. I was offered a red card with a triangle to collect my Canadian Tire money. I was not pleased. Instead of the fun Canadian Tire money that I was expecting my children to experience, is instantly gone and replaced with a card. Arg, not another card in my wallet that I have to carry around with me! My doctor recently told me my wallet is too thick and is affecting my back. I tucked the red card in my wallet and reluctantly used it for the next couple of years.

When presenting my card a few weeks ago, I was told that there was over $20 saved up on the card and asked if I wished to use it. I said yes, but was then told I couldn’t as I did not register the card. I did in fact try registering the card when I got home. The instructions were to visit a website and complete the registration. I attempted to register online and was asked my email address. I then received an email stating,

“The final step is to verify your Triangle ID email address.” I clicked the link and was brought to a site to enter the Rewards card number. I did this and received an error message and was prompted to call a number to be able to add the card. This did trigger some alarms in my head as I have gone to a website that is now telling me to call a number.

I called the number and everything seemed to be going OK. She found the rewards number and was creating an account to associate it to. To setup the account, I was asked some personal information. This seemed okay, but the questions continued and I was asked much more information than what was asked online. I was asked my full name, date of birth, phone number, and then she asked me for my address. This seemed excessive as they now would seemingly have enough information for identity theft and that made me very uncomfortable.

They seem to be requiring information that they do not need. My year of birth and postal code should have been enough. I further absolutely do not want anything mailed or anyone showing up at my home. The representative went on about their policy and that they don’t sell information and so on, so there shouldn;t be a problem. I tried speaking with a supervisor, but that got me nowhere. Honestly, I don’t care for their internal policies they made up themselves. The audacity to think that the information is safe. We all know that once in a while a big announcement is made about a large compnay and that information on a serves has been accessed and personal account information has been exposed. This is of no direct loss of theirs it’s the customer personal information that they compromise.

So here I was, feeling uncomfortable about claiming my $20 that I had been collecting. I often paid cash or interact to be sure I received the rewards money. This in turn saved Canadian Tire the extra percentage that the credit card would have charged them, so when they didn’t have this charge, they passed it on to you.

Over $20, I ended up giving the card to my wife. She asked why I gave it to her. I asked her if she was willing to give her info to Canadian Tire for $20 on the card.

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Most Popular Types of Gambling in Canada

By Elaine Heath.

August 8th, 2023



Whether placing a friendly bet among family members or friends on an upcoming sporting event, buying a quick-pick lottery ticket, or wagering big at an online casino, gambling is a pastime that millions of Canadians enjoy.

Although Canada legalized it in 1892, the country had a strained relationship with gambling early on. Shortly after laws were passed to regulate the activity, it was outlawed almost entirely. Thankfully, in 1985, all laws prohibiting it were overturned, and Canadians could enjoy trying their luck once more.

The growth in gaming has been phenomenal.

After this, the floodgates opened, and Canada became home to numerous casinos, including those in tourist centres like Niagara Falls. However, after the launch of online casinos, the country was slow on the uptake—choosing to go into the hype more slowly to ensure that operators were adequately legislated and registered.

As more casinos emerged and online casinos began making their way onto Canadians’ computers and smartphones, the variety of games available exploded—offering more choices than most people would ever need.

Some of these games stand out as fan favourites more than others. In this article, we’ll explore which types of gambling are the most popular amongst the maple leaves and why.

The lottery is easily the most popular form of gambling in Canada—even though it is sometimes not even considered gambling)—with over 65% of eligible Canadians admitting to playing the lottery in a 2019 survey.

Two of the more popular games offered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation.

This is no surprise, considering Canada is home to some of the best lottery games in the world. Amongst these are the Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, and Daily Grand. Let’s not forget that residents from the region can also access two of the world’s largest lotteries via online lottery sites—the US Powerball and US Mega Millions.

Because of this great love for the lottery, Canadian lottery sales (excluding Québec) reached almost CA $8.26 billion in 2021. The forerunner in selling lottery tickets was Ontario—with over CA $4.35 billion in sales alone.

Second to lotteries is the famous slot machine. Hailed as one of the most popular forms of gambling, not just in Canada but worldwide, slots hold a special place in Canadian gamblers’ hearts and are one of the main reasons for celebration in casinos.

With the wide variety of slot games available today, it is unsurprising that slots are the most commonly played casino game. However, there are other reasons these games are high on the list.

The chief reason is the RTP (or return to player) rate these games offer. This rate indicates how much money a slot receives is paid back to players.
With physical slots averaging an RTP of between 70% and 74% and online slots offering a much more substantial RTP of between 94% and 98%, these games are known to pay relatively well—even if it is not always jackpot prizes.

Roulette: It is a game of chance.

After slots, roulette is the next casino game where you will most likely find Canadian gamblers hanging out. The game, which relies almost exclusively on luck, is popular worldwide and offers excellent odds, particularly if you play on outer bets—some of which have odds of 50/50.

Three different types of roulette are available in the country: American, French, and European (also known as standard roulette). Not all of these are available in all brick-and-mortar casinos, however. In fact, you are most likely to find only the most popular kind: European roulette.

Thankfully, if you want to try one of the other variations, many online casinos in the region have them readily available.

While many believe poker is the most famous card-based game in casinos, this perception is inaccurate. Blackjack is the preferred game, not just in Canada but also in many other countries. According to estimates, this particular game has over 100 million players internationally.

The thrill of winning while listening to the click of the wheel as it turns and watching where the ball decides to land.

Whether it is the thrill of going up against the banker or the suspense of seeing if you’re about to go bust, blackjack is easily one of Canadians’ most popular casino games. It is heavily featured on almost all online casinos (usually in different variations) and can easily be found in any physical casino available in Ontario and across the country.

Perhaps it is its similarity to blackjack that makes baccarat so immensely popular, or maybe it is the many different variants of the game that make it feel new each time you play. Either way, there is no denying that the gamblers up north love playing it.

The game relies more on luck than actual skill and is easily accessible throughout physical and online casinos in the country. It can also be a great way to destress—but only if you’re confident enough in your understanding of how the game works.

Poker/Video Poker
Eventually, making it to the hearts of gamblers is poker and video versions of the beloved game. While it is not the first choice of most Canadians, the game still has a strong presence in the country and is actively played by many people.

The country is home to some immensely successful professional players, including Daniel Negreanu and Jonathan Duhamel. While most players can’t measure up to players like Daniel—who has won six World Series of Poker bracelets—the game is still widely enjoyed and readily accessible in almost all casinos, whether online or in real life.

Eyeing the competition and reading each of the players while they read you is what real poker players love – it is why the play the game.

It may be hard to think of a time when gambling wasn’t around or legal. However, the fact that the gambling industry has grown so prominently in the relatively short time it has been legal in Canada shows just how popular it is.

While lotteries and slots are at the forefront of this and don’t seem ready to relinquish their hold on bettors any time soon, there are many other games that Canadians love to play. If you haven’t experienced them for yourself, why not head to a casino (or log onto one) and see what all the fuss is about?



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Where have all the workers gone?

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



Where have all the workers gone?

Covid19 meant huge changes in where people worked – the office moved to the kitchen table and teachers did their best to keep a class interested while everyone dealt with a virus that was killing millions.

Remote work was necessary during the harder days with lock downs in place.

Burlington chose to become a hybrid city with some staff able to choose to work from home full time – going into the office only when it was necessary.

City manager Tim Commisso liked the idea

City manager Tim Commisso liked the idea and directed the Executive Director level to organize the jobs that had to be done into various forms of hybrid work. Neither Commisso or the city’s Communications department every released numbers

“People thought remote work would last forever, and the importance people put on work-life balance reached new heights … people were putting their personal lives first and moving to beautiful locations,” said Travis O’Rourke, president at Hays Canada.

The number of fully remote jobs has decreased as a number of employers have called time on work-from-anywhere policies. The volume of applications for remote jobs has also increased, he said, putting them high in demand for those who have relocated to these locales.

Jessica Weisz optimized for sunshine. “We came and saw the place that we could rent … You could see the mountains and the lake, it had a pool and it was massive and it was the same as rent for our little small loft in Toronto.”

Jessica Weisz, who works in tech entrepreneurship and venture capital, stopped working in-person in Toronto during the pandemic and moved to Niagara, Ontario, and then Kelowna, B.C., where she has continued working remotely for her employer.

For Weisz, returning to an in-office position holds little appeal. “I like being able to be home and focus and not have to go into the office,” she said, adding that the flexibility helps her be a more involved parent.

“What we were optimizing for was sunshine. I had never been to Kelowna – I knew nothing about it,” she said. “We came and saw the place that we could rent … You could see the mountains and the lake, it had a pool and it was massive and it was the same as rent for our little small loft in Toronto.”

“People thought remote work would last forever, and the importance people put on work-life balance reached new heights … people were putting their personal lives first and moving to beautiful locations,” said Travis O’Rourke, president at Hays Canada.

Since then, the number of fully remote jobs has decreased as a number of employers have called time on work-from-anywhere policies. The volume of applications for remote jobs has also increased, he said, putting them high in demand for those who have relocated to these locales.

Research suggests that, like Weisz, most employees who got a taste of remote work are eager to continue. Nearly four in five Canadians said they much prefer it to working in the office, according to a report by the Future Skills Centre.

The impact of remote work on the office space sector of the real estate business is severe. Some office building operators are looking at ways to convert the space in residential.

Others are finding that productivity isn’t quite the same but those people aren’t certain and think it might be too early to tell what the final outcome is going to be.

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We talk about community: this weekend we saw it in action

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



It took Darryl Fowler just about a month to pull together the people that worked with him on getting the local food drive going.

When he set things up for the Friday start he asked the Burlington Food Bank for a hamper to put what was donated in. They delivered a big blue container – mid day Saturday he knew they were going to need more – not sure the Food Bank would be open on the weekend – he turned to his network and before the end of the day three more bins were in place.

It became really clear – Darryl leaned on his network – people he deals with on a regular basis and they all answered the call.

Stuff just kept coming in – $3000 in gift cards.

Darryl & Hannah Fowler – have three children; a four year old, a 2 ½ and a 1 ½. Hanna was a stay at home Mother but is looking forward to returning to the bank she has worked at for a number of years.

Darryl bought their first home in Hamilton, did very well on the sale of that home in 2017 which made it financially possible to move to Burlington. They don’t even think about moving anywhere else.

Darryl has been in HVAC all his working life. There were some labour difficulties during the early part of Covid and Darryl thought this was a good time to strike out on his own.

He describes himself is as a one man shop with good talent that he uses on an as needed basis.

Four bins and half a tonne of food later – the photo op was earned.

“I am a people person, I like doing things with and for people – being on my own means I don’t have to spend time managing staff – all my effort goes into keeping customers happy.

He rent space at a storage facility – thinks maybe at some point he will open up a shop but at this point he thinks working on his own is best for him and his customers.

Darryl Fowler takes the shop with him when calling on a customer.

What he is finding however is that the cost of everything has increased: gas, parts, food – he knows everyone is feeling the same pinch.

He makes heavy use of social media and has a five star Google rating.  His approach is “if they support me – I support them.

Julie Neal, who worked at setting a record for a bottle drive she and her husband took on in 2021 was part of that supporting network – a bit of a cluster there.

Burlington Together with its massive following was a part of making this happen. Burlington Dads were there as well.

These groups work independently; at the same time they are part of a collective that are more than an arms length from city hall.

This is what real community is all about.


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Has the Prime Minsiter walked away from the housing crisis?

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



While in Hamilton handing out federal funds last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there’s “simply not enough places for people to live” and said more initiatives like the one he was handing out money for are needed to create affordable housing in Hamilton.

Did Andrea Horwath, sitting beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. hit him or is that band aid on his forehead something he get when the wife he is now separated from took a whack at him as she was walking out the door?

He also said: “Housing isn’t a primary federal responsibility, not something that we have directly carried out. But it is something that we can and must help with,”

It was a bit of a mixed message and a major disappointment for those who were expecting the federal government to be deeply involved in the housing crisis.

It was the federal government that made the decision to bring millions of people to Canada to help with the labour shortages. One would expect them to be quite a bit more than at the table when the housing needs were being worked through.

The federal government has the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in place; an organization that has led a number of very innovative and successful housing development initiatives across the country.

Is it too much to ask that someone- maybe the new Minister of Housing- to come up with a major initiative?

Sean Fraser being sworn in as Housing, Infrastructure and Communities 

He holds a law degree from Dalhousie University, a Master’s degree in Public International Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University. He represents Central Nova, a constituency in Pictou County in Nova Scotia.

Burlington MP Karina Gould reads her email – let her know what you think.

He has the smarts, what we need to know is – does he have an understanding of just how serious the housing situation is ?  One would hope that he realizes it is going to get worse before it gets better.

If he takes his que from the Prime Minister (Housing isn’t a primary federal responsibility) we then do have a problem.

Burlington has a Member of Parliament who is heard when she speaks in Caucus – pop her a note expressing your opinion. When an MP gets a couple of hundred emails – they respond. Karina Gould can be reached by email at

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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Watch what a professional truck driver can do with a tractor trailer at a loading dock

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



Truck drivers could use some help in polishing up the image of their profession.

Some might scoff at the use of the word profession.

Click on the link and see what real professional drivers do.

This is something to applaud.

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Community at its best. Local business decides to help the Food Bank - delivers big time

By Staff

August 6th, 2023



Mayor Med Ward gave a Huge shout out to Darryl & Hannah Fowler, residents and local business owners (FlasheGas) who wanted to give back to the community and organized a food drive today for the Burlington Food Bank today and fun fair for the neighbourhood.

Fun for the whole family including an Ice Cream Truck (GTA Softee), Bouncy Castle (Bounce House and Things), Magic Of Tyler Fergus, Face Painting (Veronica Stark) and Clown Balloon Artist (Halaloo).

More than 1000 pounds of food donated!

Thank you especially the Fowlers and to everyone who made this possible; Over $3000 of gift cards for services and over $2000 of products donated.

There were sponsors – a very very impressive list. Someone made a lot of phone calls

More than 1000 pounds of food in those bins

Sponsors include:
Laird Flewelling, The Black Bull Neighbourhood Pub,
Parminan Rajanayagam Piper Arms Pub Burlington,
Erica Mandel – Lindt ChocolateLindt Chocolate Shop
Michael Marcolin QB Sports Bar Grill
50 Pesos Kitchen and Food Truck50
Michael Brown @ Allstate Insurance
Michael Desjardins and Stephanie VanderVeen-Desjardins @ Pets N Groom,
Gus Loukas @ G&D Construction
Kristijan Bebek @ Hairboss Barber Shop
Dalton Savoie Savvy Plumbing and Drain Service,
Nick Pickett @ Pickett Electrical Inc.
Julie Neal and Dave @ AB Sports
Alan Sharkey@ Made for you By Jo
Greg Berg @ Halton Honda
Jason Payne@Heat From The Hammer Sauces and Snacks Supreme
Dave Diamond@ The Kings!
Brian Noble Plumbing and HVAC Supplies
Bob Vandenberg 905 Vacuum Repair
Joel Mclean at Astra PrintAstra Print, Burlington
Shafiq Mohamed, Fully Promoted Brand and Marketing Services
Gary Couch Oakville Appliance Centre
Chris and Denise JakobsonRedmond Distributing – Canadian HVAC Supplier
Holly Webster Still Dynamics – Classical Osteopathy
Gil Garbus Far Away Greens Indoor Golf
Karen Grassick Allegra Marketing Print Mail Services
Warren Berry Lionheart Tattoo Parlour
Brian,Good Cars Only
Ward Misner, M&M Food Market – Waterdown
Shishir Jain, EXP Realty
Mike Ryan @ Mister Detail Car Detailing
Brad Gibson @ Canadian Tire Burlington on Fairview
Coach Glen Speight, Oakville Rangers
Grace and Izzy Carden @ Carden Candle
Matthew, Vita Plumbing
Marilu’s Market
City Pizza – New Street, Burlington
Phil Sharratt, Burloak Oven Cleaning on Facebook
Peter Dosouto @ White Widow Woodworks
Mrs. B’s Gifthouse
Kelsey @ Sugar Spun Cakes on Facebook
Brad Anderson @ OpenhouseDigitalMarketing
Jamie Kozub @ Oakville Sight & Sound
Melissa @ Misscreations
Sam @ 905 Tire
Gord Robbins
Kevin Tower @ 905 ScrapKevin

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Nature doing what it does; teaching us something new every day

By Pepper Parr

August 6th, 2023



A little like a Christmas Tree with lights that will come on at night.

There are those that believe trees talk to one another; that the root system beneath the surface of the soil is used for one tree to communicated with another -with all the trees that are part of that network of roots.

Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What they feel, How they communicate, a book that was on the New York Times Best Seller list for quite some time convincing many that the forest is a social network.

The tree on the driveway I walk down each morning to pick up my newspaper is saying something to me -” what are you two up to” is the question that comes to my mind.

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Pump on Brant closes its doors

By Staff

August 5th, 2023



The Pump, a restaurant that gave it their best for five years closed yesterday.

A combination of factors resulted in the closing.

It is getting harder than ever.

Increased costs and a continually decreasing number of patrons.

Another great place for lunch has had to close its doors.

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He is still the Prime Minister with a hard job that has to be tended to every day. Give him the space he needs

By Pepper Parr

August 5th, 2023



What happened?

We will never know the full story and quite frankly it is none of our business.

When a marriage fails – it is the children who are hurt the most. The trusting place they had a right to believe would be theirs – is suddenly gone. All but impossible to repair.

When the partners in the marriage are public people – they have to live with the highs and the lows. A lot depends on the decisions the Prime Minister makes and his mood, the psychological space he occupies matters to every Canadian.

The Prime Minister still has to lead – give him the room he needs.

So how much are we entitled to know and how much is driven by prurient interest?

The biggest message should be that we are with all five of them; the two parents and the three children. Give them the time and the space they need to work this out. It is going to take many many months.

A trip to Belleville where the crowd got so menacing that the RCMP security detail chose to cancel parts of the tour isn’t helping.

The two will argue, there will be recriminations as well and some will see the situation as one that can be exploited.

It is an all too true human situation that every one of us will be impacted by.

The bandage on the Prime Minister’s forehead tells a lot.

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Burnout? Lean in by Stretching Back

By Pepper Parr

August 5th, 2023



Does the prospect of a week spent lazing somewhere warm, book in hand, fill you with joy?

That’s how I feel—until the holiday begins and I realize I’ve forgotten to answer an email. Then I see two messages sitting, accusingly, in my drafts folder. I start tapping out a quick list of reminders for when I get back. This feels nicely productive, until suddenly the list has 27 items.

Nice way to spend an afternoon – something on the light side.

If you have a demanding job, proper breaks are vital. Psychoanalysts explain why relaxing can be so hard for people who feel “burnt out”—and argue that it’s not just our jobs that overwork our minds.

You could start by writing a great out-of-office reply. But try not to overthink it: perfectionism is out of favour with workers and companies alike.

No wonder so many employees are quiet quitting. Or are you more of a “cyberloafer”? If so you may be more productive than you think.

This summer, lean in by stretching back.

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Arborists will take part in competitive tree climbing

By Staff

August 4th, 2023



If you thought arborists were people who came out to look at your trees and give you some advice and direction and at times told you you were not permitted to do what you wanted to do – pause and see them as sports people who climb trees competitively.

The will be competing at LaSalle park mid September – mark your calendars – this should be something exciting to watch.

The Ontario Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA Ontario) hosts its annual tree climbing championship Friday September 15 & Saturday September 16, 2023 at LaSalle Park 50 North Shore Blvd E, Burlington. At this fun, competitive, spectator-friendly event, professional tree climbers from across Ontario will compete for the title of top climber in the province.


Krista Strating: 2018 International Tree Climbing Champion from the ISA Ontario Chapter.

This unique event showcases arborists in action demonstrating the exceptional skills required for professional tree work. Competitors will perform five different preliminary events simulating the skills required to work safely and efficiently in the trees. From a timed speed climb, a targeted throwline toss, a work climb, an ascent event using specialized equipment and an aerial rescue, each challenge gives climbers a chance to demonstrate their incredible skills.

The climbers who score the highest during these preliminary contests will compete in the Masters’ Challenge. In this final round, the winners (top male and female) will be crowned the Ontario Champions. They’ll earn the honour of representing Ontario at the 2023 International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC).

This FREE event is open to the public and starts 1:00 PM on Friday September 15 and runs through Saturday September 16 at 5:00 PM.

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Invasive Marbled Crayfish Found for First Time in Ontario

By Staff

August 4th, 2023



Marbled crayfish – an aquatic invasive species that is prohibited in the province – has been found in the Burlington area.

This is the first-time marbled crayfish has been found in the wild in Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and its partners are working to protect Ontario’s habitats and biodiversity from this invasive species.

Marbled crayfish is one of over 30 regulated invasive species under the Invasive Species Act. As such, it is illegal to import, possess, release, transport, breed/grow, buy or sell, marbled crayfish in Ontario. You can’t even keep them in an aquarium. They may be listed for sale under other names such as marble crayfish, self-cloning crayfish or marmorkrebs.

Marbled crayfish reproduce rapidly – each one can produce hundreds of offspring every time they reproduce.

Marbled crayfish reproduce rapidly – with each one having the ability to produce hundreds of offspring every time they reproduce. It only takes the introduction of one marbled crayfish to start a new population, as they are capable of cloning themselves.

If established, marbled crayfish will have a negative impact on Ontario’s native crayfish populations through competition for food and habitat. Marbled crayfish can rapidly take over an area and replace native crayfish species which are already being impacted in parts of Ontario by the invasive rusty crayfish. Marbled crayfish may also impact Ontario’s biodiversity by feeding on algae, plants, invertebrates, and amphibians and may cause shoreline destabilization and erosion through burrowing activities.

That’s why Ontario is being vigilant and quick in our response. Public reporting can play a key role in finding and reporting invasive species. If you’ve seen marbled crayfish in the wild:

Contact the toll-free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711

The links below do not work – we are chasing the Ministry people to get them set up

Or report it online or with your mobile device using EDDMapS

For more information, including what you can do to properly dispose of marbled crayfish, contact MNRF staff at

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Skyway Bridge - there will not be a closure of Niagara-bound traffic lanes on the QEW Burlington Skyway this weekend.

By Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2023



Getting the news out on this one has been bumpy.

The Burlington Skyway Bridgethere will not be a closure of Niagara-bound traffic lanes on the QEW Burlington Skyway this weekend.

All the on ramps to Niagara-bound traffic lanes on the QEW Burlington will be open this long weekend.

The QEW Burlington Skyway will remain open during the August long weekend.

The next 12-hour closure is scheduled for August 11.

Advance signing and notification will be provided to motorists so they can plan an alternate route.

Travellers can visit or @511Ontario for updates on work and traffic impacts.

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A long weekend with nice weather? Followed by Heritage week

By Staff

August 4th, 2023



As the day draws to a close Burlington moves into the last long weekend this summer. The days following are Heritage Week, an opportunity to Celebrate Burlington’s History

The September long weekend doesn’t really count – the focus then is getting the kids ready for school.

Heritage Week events that are happening in Burlington Downtown …

Saturday, Aug. 5th from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Opening Ceremony (St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1382 Ontario St.)

In-person. No registration required.

Join Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Indigenous Spiritual Healer White Eagle, Town Crier David Vollick, St. Luke’s priest in charge Reverend Michael Coren and other special guests at the circa 1834 St. Luke’s Anglican Church property as they formally launch Heritage Week. The ceremony will include a plaque presentation for the newest addition to the City’s Honour Roll of Trees, a special anniversary recognition event and other activities. Enjoy music by a quartet of the Burlington Symphony Orchestra who is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Saturday, Aug. 5th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (approximate end time)

Spencer Smith Park and Area Walking Tour

In-person and register at

St. Luke’s Anglican Church: One of the more direct links to Joseph Brant and the history of the city.

Alan Harrington of the Burlington Heritage Society will provide a memorable walking tour of the historic area surrounding St. Luke’s. The tour will highlight places of interest and the stories of several Burlington residents who left a lasting legacy with the community. Meet at the north side of the St. Luke’s Hall (1382 Ontario St.) by the cemetery gate. The tour will end at the Gazebo in Spencer Smith Park. Comfortable walking shoes, a sunhat and sunscreen or other weather-appropriate wear are recommended for your enjoyment.

Monday, Aug. 7th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stitching in History Quilt Exhibit (St. Luke’s Anglican Church Hall)

In-person. No registration.

Take a walk through the world of quilts with the Halton Quilters Guild. See award-winning quilts through our history. Learn how quilts make a difference in our community (e.g. donations to our community partners, hospitals) and can build a community well beyond its boundaries. Watch demonstrations of quilt-making and have an opportunity to create something to take home. Donations accepted to the Burlington Food Bank and Compassion Society.

Monday, Aug. 7th from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (approximate end time)

Beachway Park Waterfront Trail Walking Tour

In-person and register at Parking lot fees may apply.

What was once a railway line is now a delightful walk from the western edge of Spencer Smith Park to the canal

Join Alan Harrington of the Burlington Historical Society on a walk from Spencer Smith Park to the Beach Canal/Lighthouse. Enjoy hearing stories along the route and looking at locations of interest. The beauty of the walk is much of it takes place in the shade along a paved trail. Hear about the history of this unique natural area and community. This walk will include the use of some modern technology; see how it can blend together with heritage. Meet by the clock next to the Rotary Centennial Pond in Spencer Smith Park at 1400 Lakeshore Rd. The walk will end at the canal bridge or may be extended to a visit to the outside of the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage on the southside of the bridge with the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group. Comfortable walking shoes, a sunhat and sunscreen or other weather appropriate wear are recommended for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, Aug. 8th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Museum open)

Movie screenings in Shoreline Room from 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

Museums of Burlington Exhibit and “The Eyes of Memory” Film Screening

(Joseph Brant Museum, 1240 North Shore Blvd. East)

In-person with a maximum of 40 people per screening time. Register online.

For Heritage Week, the travelling exhibit, Canada’s Waterscapes, will offer insights into our natural heritage. In the evening, step back in time and explore Burlington’s past with a film screening of “The Eyes of Memory”. Produced by Burlington-based film company Cinema 16, the film premiered in 1973 for Burlington’s Centennial celebrations. Regular Museum admission will apply to enter galleries when open during the day. Free evening movie screening with attendance including light refreshments and popcorn (while supplies last).

Thursday, Aug. 10th from 7pm to 9 p.m.

So You Think You Know Burlington Trivia Night

(Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Community Studio, 440 Locust St.)

In-person with a maximum of 160 participants. Register by clicking here.

Join Don Thorpe, Burlington Historical Society and David Craig, History Pix, for a fun evening of trivia about Burlington’s past and the characters that made it. Be ready to be surprised, possibly shocked and definitely to laugh as you decide whether to go with your first answer or your second answer. Come by yourself or with a group to compete to answer questions and win points for bragging rights for what you know.

Saturday, Aug. 12th from 1pm to 2 p.m.

The Weight of Clay Tour

(Art Gallery of Burlington, 1333 Lakeshore Rd.)

In-person. No registration.

Suzanne Carte, Senior Curator at the AGB

Join Suzanne Carte, Senior Curator as the AGB celebrates a milestone exhibition and programming series honouring the artists, curators, educators, volunteers and donors who have built the Gallery’s holdings and contributed to the intellectual growth of ceramics in Canada. Over the last 40 years, the AGB has amassed the largest comprehensive collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics in the world, totalling over 4,000 works. Check the gallery’s website at for other activities.

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