Council members let the farce taking place at City Hall happen - hopefully they can make ammends

By Staff

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mayor isn’t the only person responsible for the farce taking place in the Council Chamber.

A Gazette reader commented as follows:

“I believe that the comments of several people are accurate, timely and fair. I will not belabour the point but, given the very limited engagement conducted with citizens before Council unanimously accepted Strong Mayor powers for Burlington, it is ironic that there are those who believe that more time and public interaction is needed before they are returned to Council. Equally puzzling is the need for clarification on what the Strong Mayor powers are and what it would mean to return them to Council.

Mayor Meed Ward

“If Councillors clearly understood what was being surrendered to the sole aegis (potentially) of the Mayor when they unanimously ceded those powers, then why the need for further consultation now? Did they not understand what they were voting on initially. In this light, the somewhat petulant pronouncement of Paul Sharman that he was not “prepared for this conversation” is tantamount to “I just don’t wanna”.

“If anyone watched the procedural wranglings of last Tuesday, they must shake their head at the amount of time truly wasted on empty protocol deliberations and tedious queries to the Clerk.

“Councillors – you have been sitting around the ‘horse shoe table’ for over five years and you still don’t know how things should proceed? Just do your job ladies and gentlemen and, in this case, it is to respectfully ask the Queen to return her realm from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy.”

 

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Bay Observer headlines revolt at Burlington City Hall

By Pepper Parr

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What does this do to our Best Small City in the Country to live in?

A screen shot from an edition of the Bay Observer.

The reputation of the city and the Mayor of the city is being ravaged.

This isn’t going to help attract the talent the city needs to begin to get more shovels into the ground.

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Pay phones being used by some of the people who want to communicate with the Gazette

By Pepper Parr

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember the day when you could use these things for a dime?

Would the Gazette reader who called us from a pay phone (we didn’t think there any pay phones left in the city) with information on certain senior staff at city hall  – please get in touch?

If what you left on voice mail is anywhere near true – we would like to inform the citizens of the city.

We will keep an eye on the city web site page where the Mayor is required to publish any decisions she makes with the Strong Mayor powers she wants to keep.

 

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Changes in GO service starting Friday, March 23 at approximately 11:00 p.m.

By Staff

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Starting on Friday, March 23 at approximately 11:00 p.m. Lakeshore West service will be temporarily suspended between West Harbour GO and Union Station to allow for critical track work along the corridor. Regular service will resume on Monday, March 25.  West Harbour GO is located in Hamilton.

During this time, there will be no train service on most of the Lakeshore West Line:

  • Train service will operate normally only between Niagara Falls GO and Aldershot GO.
  • GO Buses will replace train service at West Harbour, Aldershot, Burlington, Oakville and Clarkson GO stations.
  • There will be no GO Transit service at Appleby, Bronte, Port Credit, Long Branch, Mimico, and Exhibition GO stations. Customers are encouraged to use local transit options.

To find more details on alternative routes and learn more about the Lakeshore West service adjustments, click HERE 

 

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Angelo Bentivegna: 'It is time for him to shine and for his fundamental decency to manifest itself.'

 

By Pepper Parr

March 21st, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Life for Angelo Bentivegna is going to be very different for the next six days.

He will be under immense pressure from his Council colleagues, especially Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Sharman.

Angelo would appear to be the hold out vote on the attempt on the part of four of the members of Council, Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan and Stolte who tabled a Motion requesting Mayor Meed Ward to relinquish some of the Strong Mayor powers she acquired last July.

If what the public saw two days ago there is little chance Meed Ward will give up as much as an inch. She would probably want to use the phrase the actor Charlton Heston used when he was with the American Rifle  Association and said, when asked when he would give up the right to bear arms: “You can have my gun when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – wants to have everything at city hall under control.

Meed Ward is leaving the distinct impression that is not prepared to give up any of the power she has.

She stunned her Council colleagues when she advised them that she had consulted with the Integrity Commissioner on what she could say and what she couldn’t say during the debate about getting the Motion on the Agenda.  The four. Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan and Stolte won the effort to get the Motion on the agenda.  The Mayor used several procedural opportunities to keep the Motion off the Agenda.

The detail on the back in forth is covered in an article that is being prepared.

For reasons that are complex and difficult to understand – there appear to be issues as to who can say what when.

The Council members want to know now what the mayor thinks about the request to give up some of the powers she has.  And the Mayor is saying she can’t say at this point.

Bentivegna: Troubled by possible delays in resolving how much Strong Mayor powers the Mayor should keep.

Which confuses Angelo Bentivegna.

He is a simple man who wants to serve the community.  He said he wanted to meet with the Mayor and and talk about giving back to Council some of the powers she now holds.

Bentivegna is expecting an open honest discussion.  He is going to get snowed.

As of Tuesday Bentivegna wasn’t sure what his position on the Motion was going to be.

He was certainly disturbed at what was taking place.  A Gazette reader, in a comment made in the Gazette put it very well when he said: “The vote next Tuesday hinges, as all are acutely aware, on the disposition of Angelo Bentivegna. If his performance yesterday is any indication, it will be frustrating to watch and laborious to decipher. However, it is time for him to shine and for his fundamental decency to manifest itself. I expect that it will.”

Bentivegna is going to need all the support possible from the community – The four members will lobby him, the Mayor will get a cute and sweet and do a number on the poor man.

Councillor Sharman, a Council member on whom Bentivegna relies often for direction and help in understanding issues that he doesn’t understand.

Bentivegna: Plans to meet the Mayor and ask if she will relinquish any of the Strong Mayor powers she holds.

Angelo Bentivegna is not a stupid man.  He has his strengths, one of which is to look out for the small business community and the taxpayers as well.  When he gets his teeth into an issue he is like a dog with a bone.  Tenacious would describe him very well.

Councillor Sharman and Meed Ward have a lot riding on this – and they will lean very heavily on Angelo Bentivegna.

He will be doing a lot of thinking during the weekend and reaching out to anyone who will talk to him.

One of the things Angelo might ask himself:  Why is Councillor Sharman going to such lengths to support the Mayor?  Sharman wants the matter taken to a Standing Committee – which means delays which is the approach Meed Ward will use.

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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Library taking a deeper look at their technology services - needs you input.

By Staff

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Help us improve technology services at BPL.

Burlington Public Library is taking part in a province-wide initiative called the Bridge Project. This project aims to enhance technology services offered by public libraries in Ontario and measure their effectiveness—and they want to hear from you.

As a first step, we want to learn more about your experiences with technology at the library. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts on how you use BPL’s technology services, whether it’s accessing the Internet, taking tech classes, or seeking help from our staff.

The survey takes 3-5 minutes to complete, and your answers will help us gain valuable insights into the technology services that matter to you.

Link to survey

 

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Getting the Motion to curb the Strong Mayor powers on the Agenda succeeded - despite the efforts of Meed Ward and Councillor Sharman

By Pepper Parr

March 20th,2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Three members of Council put a Notice of Motion on the Council meeting agenda.  They wanted the Mayor to give up some of the Strong Mayor powers that were available to her.

Mayor Meed Ward consistently claims that she was required to accept the Strong Mayor powers; that is not true.  There are a number of municipalities that had had Mayors who took a pass; Guelph is an example.

The Motion reads:

That Council request the Mayor to delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.5 of the Municipal Act, with respect to the City Manager; and

That Council request the Mayor to delegate to the City Manager the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.6 of the Municipal Act, with respect to:

      1. determining the organizational structure of the municipality; and
      2. hiring, dismissing, or exercising any other prescribed employment powers with respect to any division or the head of any other part of the organizational structure;

That Council request the Mayor to delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.7 of the Municipal Act, with respect to prescribed local boards or local boards within a prescribed class of local boards; and

That Council request the Mayor to delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.8 of the Municipal Act, with respect to prescribed committees or committees within a prescribed class of committees; and

That the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel for the City of Burlington be directed to consult with external legal counsel on the current state of any legal challenges to strong mayor power in Ontario and whether a legal challenge would have any chance of success.

Council in session

Their first challenge was to get the Motion on the agenda. That called for a Motion to waive the procedural rules. .

Councillor Sharman came out of the gate, before there was any debate from other Council members saying – I will not be supporting this. I believe this is rushed. It is inconsistent with the purpose of Council.  It should be brought to the committee first and I won’t be supporting for that reason.

It was clear from the beginning that Sharman was going to align himself with the Mayor.  Four Councillors: Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan and Stolte wanted changes.

Councillor Bentivegna: It was a very hard meeting for him.

That left just Councillor Bentivegna as undecided and very uncomfortable.

Mayor Meed Ward:” I really look forward to this conversation.”

Mayor Meed Ward said: “I really look forward to this conversation. I will not be supporting waiving our procedure bylaw at this time. Enhanced scrutiny around following our procedure Bylaw and regardless of what we would like it to be, we are stuck now with what it actually says.

“I will also note that the motion includes a direction to staff which is well outside any advocacy. So I believe for maximum community engagement, public notice and transparency. This should be run through committee and I would greatly look forward to that conversation at committee and Council, which allows residents actually two additional opportunities to speak to this instead of one today and only if they happen to see it on Friday when this was initially posted.”

Councillor Bentivegna said: ‘I don’t know how to start;  first of all, I received this motion, on the weekend. I’m not sure when everyone else got it.

‘I’m not a big fan of what I believe is a walk on motion. Having said that, I think this is an important discussion to have. And I actually don’t want to wait till the April cycle. So I would like to bring an amendment once we have the discussion.

‘I think this is a very important topic. And I do agree we do need engagement on it. If we wait until the April, my concern is the misinformation that might go out because nothing’s been discussed on it. And perhaps any rumours that go on and for everyone’s peace of mind is I believe we need to take care of this sooner rather than later. So I’m going to bring a motion to call a special council meeting for next Tuesday.’

Counsellor Kearns: “I want to take the opportunity to underscore that there is an underlying sense of urgency related to this; I do feel that it is a discussion that needs to happen sooner rather than later. I think that our community is engaged enough with a topic like this that they will want to be engaged quickly, which would support a special council meeting.”

Councillor Nisan: The first order of business is that we have to get this to the floor where it can be debated.”

Councillor Nisan: “I think the first order of business is that we have to get this to the floor by waiving the rules of procedure because there are things that we do need to talk about, at least in part, or by way of deferring to a special council meeting.”

Councillor Kearns “I want to highlight Councillor Nissan’s point around this very prescriptive use of the procedure bylaw in order to defer this or delay this into the next cycle. Things like this don’t usually come forward with such urgency and I think that there is an opportunity here to be amenable to bringing it to the floor at least and not stopping it at this point.”

Councillor Stolte:  “I just want to take the opportunity quickly to thank Councillor Bentivegna for his comments I had not considered the potential for there to be misinformation or rumour innuendo in the community. I look forward to the discussion.”

I could live with if that’s permitted,

Councillor Galbraith “I was going to support this motion. It’s not an emergency that it’s done today. Councillor Bentivegna brings up an interesting point and if it’s next Tuesday I am not I’m not fussed about that either. But it’s already out there.

“The rumours could be spreading. So I think it’s important that we discuss it sooner than later. But if it’s not today, Tuesday I could live with if that’s permitted, but I think we need to pass this to get it to where Angelo wants to present his motion. So I’m supportive of it today.”

Councillor Sharman, speaking for the second time,  “I’m very happy to have this conversation. I just believe we need to get our research done. I want to hear from staff I haven’t had a time to get a chance to talk to them. I believe that we do want to encourage the community to come and speak to us that the first time we discussed this, not just doing this kind of run out in a kind of council that we’re not prepared for.

Councillor Sharman: “I’m not prepared for this conversation.”

I’m not prepared for this conversation. And I’m completely willing open to an opportunity to move it later. It doesn’t fit. It’s fair. To say a meeting in advance. I still believe we should have committee and then counsel separately. If it’s a special counsel, I’m okay with that. But right now, I’m not ready to have this conversation. So other than when is the appropriate time to talk about it; today is not the right time, but I’m willing to have the conversation.”

Councillor Nisan: “I’m interested in the discussion around a special counsel hadn’t been raised to me before.  I’m open minded to that. I just want to note that this motion was given the standard notice required for council motions, and met the deadline that was set by the clerk for being received at counsel.. We met the we met the deadline and like other motions, we were given the usual amount of notice if we don’t like that notice, then we should we should push it back in the procedure bylaw.”

“Secondly, I want to note that we waive procedures, practically every council meeting.”

Mayor Meed Ward calls the recorded vote to waive the procedural rule.

It passes – so the item is on the agenda.

Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Sharman were not able to keep the item off the agenda.  They now have to debate it when Council gets to what is the very last item on the agenda.

That debate follows in a seperate article. Despite significant effort on the part of the Mayor and Councillor Sharman a vote to debate the issue at a Special meeting of Council on Tuesday March 26th.

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Background on the appointment of new City Manager

By Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Former CAO of Conservation Halton Hassan Basit becomes City Manager for Burlington on April 22nd, 2024

Hassaan Basit will begin serving as the City Manager on April 22nd, 2024.

How did that come about?

Mayor Meed Ward using the powers given to her by the province. As of July 1, 2023, the Mayor’s powers include:

  • Appoint and dismiss the City Manager as well as the head of any division or the head of any other part of the organizational structure (except statutory municipal officers i.e. City Clerk or Deputy, Treasurer or Deputy, Chief Building Officer and Fire Chief); *
  • Determining the organization structure of the City; *
  • Create committees of Council, assign their functions, and appoint the Chairs and Vice Chairs of committees of Council; *
  • Propose the City’s budget subject to Council amendments, a Mayoral veto, and a Council override process;
  • Submit matters for Council’s consideration, or veto by-laws, if the Mayor believes it will advance a prescribed Provincial Priority; and
  • Direct City staff in writing.

*The Mayor may choose to delegate these specific powers and duties.

The Mayor is required to exercise these powers in writing and make them available to the public.

Mayor Meed Ward, using her Strong Mayor Powers issued the following statement.

Decision Number: 04-2024

Mayoral decision

References: HR-02-24 – City Manager Recruitment

I, Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of The Corporation of the City of Burlington, hereby issue Mayoral Decision 04-2024 as follows:

  1. Hassaan Basit appointed to the position of Chief Administration Officer, to be known as the City Manager/Chief Administration Officer (“City Manager/CAO”)

    Appoint Hassaan Basit to the position of Chief Administration Officer, to be known as the City Manager/Chief Administration Officer (“City Manager/CAO”) for The Corporation of the City of Burlington (the “City of Burlington” or the “City”) pursuant to sections 229 and 284.5 of the Municipal Act, 2001 (the “Act”).

  2. The City Manager/CAO shall be responsible for:
  • exercising general control and management of the affairs of the City of Burlington for the purpose of ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the City in accordance with section 229(a) of the Act; and
  • performing such other duties as have previously been assigned or delegated, and as may be assigned or delegated, to the City Manager by the Mayor and/or Council, and specifically, such duties as are described in By-law No. 132-1991.
  1. The proper officers of the City of Burlington are authorized and directed to do all things necessary to give effect to this Mayoral Decision and the Acting Executive Director of Human Resources, or delegate, is authorized and directed to execute all documents necessary in that respect.

This Mayoral Decision comes into effect on April 22, 2024. Dated at Burlington, this 16th day of February, 2024.

Original Signed by

Marianne Meed Ward

 

 

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BurlingtonGreen funded: $62,000 for this year - Mayor to consider adding to the amount in her 2025 budget

By Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How did City council decide to fund BurlingtonGreen?

The decided to give the organization $50,000 and add $12,000 to cover the rent for the Pump House.

The query council had was around whether they could simply credit or not charge the $12,000 for the Pump House lease. Staff’s recommendation was not to go down that path, and instead continue to have them pay the lease fee and if we wished to enhance their budget to consider the $12,000 in addition to the 50,000.

BurlingtonGreen has a five year license fee agreement for the Pump House.

Councillor Nissan and Councillor Stolte moved and seconded the motion to give BurlingtonGreen (BG) a total of $62,000 for 2024 and to consider adding that amount to the 2025 budget.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

Councillor Nisan said: BurlingtonGreen offers a lot in exchange for what we put into it and that this would be a very strategic investment in keeping our community environmental green, and they do a lot of community work, that if we were to try to internalize it that the city would cost us exponentially more. They leverage a huge volunteer cadre for their events and their cleanups; I think they are essential. The way their funding from the provincial and federal government has changed is unfortunate but we have to deal with what’s in front of us here today. I think this one time increase is more than justified.

Councillor Stolte said she agreed with everything Councillor Nissan has said; I wanted to comment that it’s a bit of a confusing conversation. I look forward to the day when we move this one time funding into the budget.

From that point until the end of the discussion Council went back and forth with everyone making sure that they got to say how wonderful BurlingtonGreen is  – the problem council had was getting around the word “grant” so the motion says “approve one time funding as a fee for services”.

Those are the basic – everything else is background and a peak at the way Council goes about its business.

Alan Magi, Executive Director of Environment Infrastructure and Community Services explained: the $50,000 is a fee for service. It is directly related to work we are contracting with BurlingtonGreen. Confusing the issue Magi said: “ there is a delineation of it because it is not a fee for service, it is an essentially compensation for the fact that there is a fee that we pay.

City Manager Tim Commisso said his “preference would to add it on to the $50,000 fee for service.  “This is a fee for service. Recall last year we contracted BurlingtonGreen in the amount of $70,000. “I think it’s fair to say that the cost of providing those services, which are very similar in nature to what they provided last year, and that would be sort of closer to $70, 000.  So if Council chooses I think that this would be considered that the lease payments which is the $12,000 that includes HST the one in my memo did not include HST such as for that clarification, but this package really is that fee for service. The staff report that Lynn provided outlined some of those services that would be provided and then we would articulate those all into a more formal memorandum or service agreement, the staff would undertake that when we would actually contract with Burlington green.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Bentivegna: “So are you saying that the $12,000 will be added to the $50,000 saying it’s not a grant ?

Councillor Bentivegna went on the record to say I’m going to Thank BurlingtonGreen for all the work you’ve done. Over the years they certainly have provided good service for the city and certainly keeping in mind with the environment. Having said that, my concerns here are we’re looking at funding one time and then going to look at funding in the future on a regular basis, perhaps up to $70,000. I’d like to see and hear more information as to what those services are going to be and requiring or contracting on a regular basis with timelines and so on as we would do with any procurement. That’s number one.

“Number two. Last year we gave $70,000, that came out of Community Development Fund. And that was not part of council approval process. Is that correct?

Magi: “That funding is approved by Council: the allocation was done through the Recreation Community and Culture department.  “We had a number of services that were identified, and we had an agreement with BurlingtonGreen to deliver those through that funding source.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Every member of Council felt the need to publicly thank BurlingtonGreen. Councillor Kearns explained that the support comes at a cost saying the issue had become quite a bit of a flashpoint for some conversations. “ I received emails when we were debating this first that said: “I’ll never vote for you again. I’m sorry that I did. I’m looking for a better candidate that’s more aligned with green initiatives.”

Council continued for an additional 36 minutes before arriving at the final motion.

Kearns: I really wanted to help correct that this is not just about the work that BurlingtonGreen is doing. This is about the process and being aligned with our appropriate policies in a way that it did previously.  We do not generally fund not for profits, and that is found in our policies that are appropriate.  When this moves over into a fee for service and a sole source agreement which is part of the motion that’s easier to support when a contract basis, but I just wanted to appreciate the work  BurlingtonGreen is doing however, going about this way makes it very difficult. I appreciative that this has moved out of tax rate stabilization reserve fund to one time funding and into a more appropriate one time reserve funding and then we’ll have the further discussions when it comes forward in the budget process. I have not been comfortable with this approach. I know it was tabled in the budget. It did. Not Pass in the budget. And I’m just very concerned that we are creating a precedent for other very noble not for profits to come forward for funding if they’re able to quantify the type of service that they’re providing to the city.

“We would normally do a cost benefit analysis or a business case to see and present to us whether these services should be sole sourced what the valuation of these services are, and whether it’s better to outsource them, which is what we’re doing or hire internally to do this work and align with this work recognizing the volunteer base that BurlingtonGreen does have.

“I just wanted to express my discomfort with the process. I’m glad that it’s unfolding in a more amenable way, especially in relation to the source of funding, the scope of work, the sole sourcing, sort of definition that we will be working with through the MOU and the way we will be able to reconsider this within the upcoming budget process.

Galbraith: This is really early consultation on the budget. It happens all year. As some of the speakers have noted consider this as a fee for service. There is no way that we could deliver this service for $62,000. So this really does protect our taxpayers from additional and quite frankly, unnecessary expense. But more importantly there this is a proven partner and has a very long track record of delivering these services. And I think in terms of our partnership model and our and our willingness to think outside the box in terms of how we deliver services. This is an example of exactly that to work with a trusted partner and it doesn’t mean we can’t have other partners doing other things for sure. And but let’s recognize the partnerships that we already have, and support those partners.

The final result: Councillors Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan, Stolte and Sharman voted for the motion as did the Mayor. Counsellor Bentavegna was opposed.

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Motion to curb the Mayor's power is on the Agenda - may not get debated today

By Pepper Parr

March 19, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It took a bit of a scuffle but the contentious motion to curb the Mayors powers was kept on the Agenda.

Councillor Sharman and the Mayor were the two that didn’t want the item on the agenda at this time.

Councillor Bentivegna said that once the item was on the Agenda he was going to be ask that it be deferred to a Special Council meeting that he said should take place on Tuesday of next week.

Councillor Angelo Bentivegna – wants the issue discussed at a Special meeting of Council next week.

Bentivegna argued that there had not been enough time for the public to be aware of the issue, which he said was very important.  Councillor Galbraith said that the issue was already out there but was prepared to go along with a Special Council meeting that Bentivegna was going to be putting forward at the appropriate time.

Councillor Sharman wondered what the rush was – he wanted to hear what staff had to say before he made a decision.

So – the item is on the agenda but it isn’t likely to be debated today.

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Challenge to the Mayor's use of Strong Mayor powers is close to the bottom of the agenda today.

By Pepper Parr

March 19th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Motion asking the Mayor to give up the Strong Mayor powers she decided to use last July is number 18 on a 22 item agenda.

Mayor Meed Ward wearing the Chain of Office.

For those who want to watch how the Mayor reacts – it will be a long wait – unless the Mayor decides to change the agenda order – something she can do.

She has done this before.

It all starts at 9:30 this morning.

We will keep you posted.

The Mayor called the meeting to order right on time.

Stand By

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Crucial Tools for Business Success in Canada

By Ann Marie Lumsden

March 19th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Running a successful business in Canada requires more than just a great idea and hard work. In today’s dynamic market, entrepreneurs and business owners need to leverage various tools to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and stay ahead of the competition.

Let’s explore some crucial tools that support business success in the Canadian market.

Digital marketing tools are usually very cost-effective.

Digital Marketing Platforms:
In 2024, having a strong online presence is vital for business success. Digital marketing platforms, like social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO), allow businesses to connect with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive customer engagement. Digital marketing tools are usually very cost-effective and offer an easy way to connect with the Canadian consumer base.

For example, imagine a local bakery in Toronto using Instagram and Facebook to showcase its homemade baked goods. The business may post on its social platforms, share stories with followers, and even increase brand visibility and engagement by creating polls to ask customers about what new flavors or treats they’d like to see in the bakery. This strategy not only attracts new clientele but also builds customer loyalty, translating into increased sales and a thriving business.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems:
CRM systems play an important role in addressing Canadians’ unique needs for CRM services by helping businesses tailor their strategies to the specific preferences, behaviors, and expectations of the Canadian consumer base. An efficient CRM can supercharge your growth and help you upsell and build customer loyalty according to Krishi Chowdhary, making it a must-have for any business that wants to succeed. Understanding and nurturing customer relationships is at the core of business success. CRM systems, such as Salesforce or Thryv, help businesses organize customer data, track interactions, and streamline communication. This tool is particularly beneficial for Canadian businesses aiming to deliver personalized experiences and build long-term customer loyalty.

Consider a retail business in Vancouver that uses a CRM system to track customer purchase history and preferences. The company will be able to see what their customers have bought in the past and tailor advertisements and sales with this data in mind in the future. For example, if someone repeatedly buys sweaters each fall, the CRM system may see this information, analyze it, and then send that customer a discount code for sweaters as fall approaches. With this approach, the customer gets what they want and the business also is able to encourage brand loyalty and repeat clients.

Understanding the financial data and presenting it in a way that makes the point is critical in every business.

Financial Management Software:
Maintaining accurate financial records is crucial for business sustainability, including small businesses and large businesses alike. Financial manageme­nt software can assist businesses in organizing the­ir bookkeeping tasks. Programs such as QuickBooks and FreshBooks allow use­rs to easily track spending, gene­rate invoices, and produce financial state­ments. By maintaining accounting records digitally, businesse­s can comply with Canadian tax filing guidelines. They can also gain use­ful information to guide important financial planning choices. For instance, vie­wing reports of past income and expe­nses might reveal patte­rns that could help decide how to allocate­ future funds.

For instance, a growing Canadian e-commerce business may choose to use QuickBooks to automate invoicing, streamline expense tracking, and generate financial reports. By using this software, the business would be able to make informed decisions about inventory and marketing budgets.

Project Management Tools:
Completing tasks on time and within budget requires solid proje­ct management. Tools such as Trello and Asana assist te­ams in organizing and deadline-setting. The­se tools also promote team collaboration and quality conversation. For Canadian businesses, this te­amwork approach is vital for reaching business targets.

For example, a marketing agency in Canada may choose to use Trello as a tool to streamline project tracking and enhance collaboration across the whole team. Using this tool will help everyone on the team stay organized and meet project deadlines as well as support clear communication between colleagues.

Getting products in the shopping cart is the challenge for every merchant.

E-commerce Platforms:
For businesses involved in selling products, having an e-commerce platform is vital. Platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce enable businesses to create online stores, manage inventory, and facilitate secure transactions. This is essential for Canadian businesses looking to tap into the growing trend of online shopping. E-commerce platforms can be used for physical goods but also for services, so they are applicable to a variety of business models.

Imagine a local Canadian boutique that has expanded its reach by launching a Shopify store. By launching a virtual store online, the shop will be able to reach a whole new audience. In addition, they will offer their current customers an easy shopping experience, accessible from home or on the go. Selling products in a physical storefront can be beneficial, however, combining it with an e-commerce site gives businesses two avenues in which to earn revenue.

Is this computer secure? Have staff been trained on how to protect your data from prying eyes?

Cybersecurity Solutions:
Protecting sensitive data from cyber threats is a top priority for businesses operating in Canada. Canada’s businesse­s give top importance to kee­ping sensitive data safe from online­ dangers. Cybersecurity tools, like­ antivirus programs, and firewalls, help defe­nd against possible security risks. They also he­lp stick to rules that protect data. This is really important be­cause more and more things are­ being done digitally today.

For example, let’s imagine a financial institution in Canada that uses robust cybersecurity measures to protect customer data and maintain trust. By using firewalls and antivirus software as cybersecurity tools, the institution will be able to protect its customer’s personal and private data. Not only will the customer’s data be protected, but the businesses will be, too. In addition, customers will feel secure in their dealings with this business and will likely return as repeat customers.

Human Resources (HR) Software:
Effective­ly managing a company’s human resources is crucial for employe­e satisfaction and the overall prospe­rity of the business. HR software applications, such as BambooHR or Gusto, can assist organizations in stre­amlining various HR processes from payroll manageme­nt to onboarding new team membe­rs. This type of technology is espe­cially beneficial for Canadian companies seeking to cultivate­ a positive work environment culture­.

If the Human Resources people get it right – a company thrives.

In addition, HR software has the potential to de­crease expe­nses in the long run by automating certain HR-re­lated duties, like bene­fits administration or time-off requests. While­ initial setup or training costs may be needed, automated systems can save mone­y over time by reducing the­ need for additional human resource­s staff.

Imagine a growing tech startup in Canada that decides to use Gusto or a similar HR software in order to automate its payroll processing system and its employee benefits program. By using HR software, the tech company will be able to ensure that its employees receive their wages on time and that they are accurate. In addition, the software program will be able to successfully manage the company’s benefits program, simplifying a normally tedious process. The employees at this company will enjoy prompt payments and the business itself will enjoy streamlined and efficient processes.

Collaboration Tools:
As remote­ work becomes more pre­valent globally, collaboration tools are rising in importance. Platforms such as Microsoft Te­ams and Slack help foster easy inte­raction and teamwork betwee­n members located in diffe­rent areas. This capability is vital for Canadian companies se­eking to adjust to flexible work sche­dules this year and in the future­.

Real estate is a great example of an industry that benefits from collaboration tools because agents are often either in the office, on the road, showing houses, or working from home. With a collaboration tool like Slack, agents can quickly share property listings, discuss client requirements, and coordinate appointments.

Conclusion:
The Canadian busine­ss environment prese­nts opportunities and challenges for companie­s. Utilizing appropriate resources can he­lp businesses flourish. Whether digital marketing programs or cybe­rsecurity protections, each re­source serves an important purpose­ in strengthening how a company runs. Embracing these­ technologies allows Canadian businesse­s to set themselve­s up for continued advancement and achie­vement within a continuously changing commercial sce­ne. While tools provide be­nefits, it is essential that companie­s select options matched to the­ir own unique needs.

 

 

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What it takes to keep BurlingtonGreen afloat financially?

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a 3 part series on funding BurlingtonGreen.

Council meeting as a Standing Committee got to the point where they were deciding if they would grant BurlingtonGreen $50,000 this year, think about giving them $70,000 every year and make it a budget item and maybe give the organization some kind of a break on the $12,000 they pay in rent for the Pump House?

They left it at that – while they waited for a legal opinion and some thoughts from Allan Magi, Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services

BurlingtonGreen rented the Pump House and turned it into an EcoHub – there didn’t appear to be a plan on how the $12,000 rent a year would be paid.

A question that pops up for us is: In taking out a lease for the Pump House did they not figure out how it was going to be paid for long term?

In previous pieces on this story (links to Parts 1 and 2 are set out at the bottom) we dug into the policies that govern this kind of thing.  First the policies are out of date and have not been upgraded.

The policy that is being used is very clear – No funding to registered charities.  BurlingtonGreen is a registered charity.

We set out for the public how much they have received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Where has BurlingtonGreen found the funds it needed to be able to do the work they have done for more than a decade?

The data we have comes from Canada Revenue – they record and monitor this kind of thing.

There was no data in the Staff report, which we saw as a very one sided document; more of an advocacy piece that a balanced Staff report.

Strategy/process/risk

City staff see the benefits of investing in the services that BurlingtonGreen provides to help achieve the City’s lofty environmental goals and targets. The City’s small sustainability team is effective but has limited resources to fully engage the community.

Given the history and close relationship between the City and BurlingtonGreen, staff support a fee for services arrangement with BG which help to achieve the City’s key strategic environmental priorities.

This arrangement would have limited risk given the good working relationship staff have had with the organization over the years. A memorandum of understanding would be drafted and signed by each organization to oversee the services to be provided, performance measures to track progress and reporting requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BurlingtonGreen is the environmental watchdog for the city. Set out below are just some of the things they do.

There was no thinking out of the box when Burlington Green realized the needed city tax based support.  The idea of positioning themselves as an organization that was providing services the city needed took form and was presented. It sounded like a good idea; the city manager said there was history that would let the city flout the out of date policy that was in place. City council got sloppy and let their feelings for the organization get in the way of prudent fiscal responsibility.

The public will learn on Tuesday if the opinion they are asking the City Solicitor will let this fly.  The Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services is expected to provide some new angles that can be worked.

Related news articles.

Part 1

Part 2

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Police report in Toronto - 34 vehicles stolen every day (or) one every 40 minutes. What are the Burlington numbers?

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When news like this is published we are close to living in a society where the criminals rule.  That’s the situation in Haiti.

In revised guidance issued Thursday, Toronto police told residents to add security cameras or a home security system, put security film over windows, install multi-point door locks and avoid posting to social media when on holidays.

Images of different people in the process of stealing an automobile

According to the Toronto Star “The chief went on to say that thanks to the provincial carjacking task force, which includes collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police, police have arrested 121 suspects, laid 730 charges and recovered 157 stolen vehicles as of last Friday.

According to Toronto police data, thieves managed to steal more than 12,000 vehicles in the city in 2023 — a startling 250 per cent increase since 2015, to a level just shy of a post-amalgamation record.

In total, those cars were valued at $790 million — “that’s 34 vehicles stolen every day (or) one every 40 minutes,”

Do you get the feeling that no seems to have a solution to the problem. The Doug Ford solution “give me judges that will lock them up with no bail” is not a solution.  It is the beginning the end of a society governed by the rule of law – laws that are fair and just.

The problem we have today started years ago when the criminals were young boys and were denied opportunities because of their race or colour.  So the created opportunities of their own.

 

 

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Winning the fight to be the leader of the Ontario Liberals was the easy part for Bonnie Crombie

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON’

 

Bonnie Crombie has yet to say where she will run for a seat in the provincial Legislature. She is reported to be very close to making a decision – the numbers at this point would be very tough for Crombie to win the Milton seat – what she cannot afford is a loss or even a close win.

Expect Bonnie Crombie to take a pass on running for the Milton seat in the Legislature – risk is far too high.

Watch for her to take a pass on Milton – and somehow put a positive spin on that decision.

Crombie has taken a strong position on Climate Change and announced that “a carbon tax will not be part of my plan.”

In announcing that decision Crombie was almost giddy saying: “Climate change is the biggest threat to our province and to the health and safety of future generations. Yet this Conservative government has taken us backwards. They have no plan to fight climate change, and have made things even worse.

Looking for a seat that she can win and win big. Taking a pass on Milton is an option.

“I’m thrilled to share that we have put together a Climate Action Panel, which will be led by Mary-Margaret McMahon, our fantastic caucus critic for the Environment and Climate Change.

“This expert panel will lead our consultations and form our climate action plan, as part of Ontario Liberals’ grassroots policy process, and our upcoming thinkers’ conference.”

Crombie wants aggressive action to build up transit; invest in electric vehicle infrastructure; reform land-use planning to build livable, walkable communities; to protect our water and nature; to green our energy grid; support our farmers; and, most importantly, to find ways to help families save money by helping all our households become more energy efficient.

Winning the fight to be the leader of the Ontario Liberals was the easy part.

 

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Council is reminded that policy is pretty clear: We don’t give grants to charitable organizations.

By Pepper Parr

March 18, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a three part series on funding BurlingtonGreen.

This cover policy  -anything else  pick up parts of conversation that could be repeated here

Especially the bit where Tim speaks up and how finance finds money

Burlington Green rents the Pump Station in the Beachway from the city.  The rent was reported to be $1000 a month.

During the debate on what to do about the financial support being asked for by BurlingtonGreen there was some mention of policy.  There is a policy in place directly related to providing funds to registered charities.

Here is what we were able to dig out policy wise:

In its Policy Statement the City believes that residents want to contribute to the quality of life in Burlington.

The policy was first approved in 2015, reviewed in 2021 and was due for a review September 30, 2023

Residents have great ideas about how to create both vibrant neighbourhoods and/or communities and may require support from the City for implementation of initiatives.

The City provides support for these initiatives with one-time funding for events, programs or projects that build community capacity:

    • The work the volunteers do is great community building, great environmental practice – but is the $50,000 annual ask the best way to fund it?

      To a registered not-for-profit corporation or a group of neighbours

      For areas within the geographic boundaries of the City of BurlingtonFor projects, events and activities that occurs on City of Burlington propertyProgram and services that benefit the residents of the City of Burlington andOrganizations that do not receive any other financial support from the City of Burlington

Principles:
The following principles are taken into consideration when investing in the community:

      1. Community members want to contribute to their quality of
      2. Community members have great ideas on how to enhance their quality of life in the public realm.
      3. Community groups can be informal or organized (e.g. a group of neighbours on a street or a legally incorporated not-for-profit organization).
      4. Community groups sometimes need financial assistance to launch a program, project or event and the City agrees to support with one-time funding, provided that the group is not receiving any other financial assistance from the City.
      5. A community group can only receive funds once every five
      6. The funding program (approvals, amounts) will be at the discretion of the Manager of Community Development Services as identified in the

EXCLUSIONS

 Properties governed under another body, agency or business (e.g. school board, board or agency)

      • Private Property
      • Individuals
      • On-going financial support such as operating grants
      • Organizations whose purpose is related to political or religious activity
      • For-profit organizations
      • Foundations
      • Schools, hospitals and public agencies
      • An activity or project that conflicts with existing City policy
      • Annual fundraising events/projects
      • Organizations or groups of individuals organizing an event, program, project or activity that is in furtherance of a position either for or against an issue over which the City is a regulator or may have a legal interest
      • An event, program, project or activity that conflicts with City policies, Council decisions or directions

Policy Guidelines

 There are two streams for funding

Community Capacity Building Projects*
Application Period Accepted at any time Accepted once a year
Review Team Community Development Section with subject matter experts as required Cross department team to review feasibility of the proposal. May evolve to include community members as neighbourhood committees are developed
Review Period Once per month Three months
Criteria for Review ·    Completeness of the application including organization/event budget

·    Meets the eligibility criteria requirements

·    Demonstrates need

·    Linkage with the City’s strategic plan

·     Completeness of the application

·     Meets the eligibility criteria requirements

·     Linkage with the City’s strategic plan

·     Will provide a public benefit

·     Demonstrated community interest

·     Feasibility

·     Demonstrates on-going maintenance and upkeep

·     Ability of the community match the financial contribution from the City

·     Realistic budget

Implementation Project must be completed within one year. Project must be completed within one year of the contract

References:

Roles:

City Council shall:

      • Approve Community Investment Policy City Manager / City Treasurer shall:
      • Establish budget guidelines for the fund

Director of Parks and Recreation (or designate) shall:

      • Annually review how the Community Investment Fund was spent and identify areas that may require targeted engagement; and
      • Ensure service owner compliance with the Community Investment Policy and
      • Prepare the transfer of funds to the Community Investment Reserve if

Accountable:

The service owners for Organized Sport Support Services, Art and Culture Services, Environment and Energy Services and Recreation Services are accountable for adherence and direct administration of the Community Investment Policy, including communication to users and user groups.

The Manager of Community Development Services is accountable for the execution of the Community Investment Policy process.

Community Development Section to meet monthly to evaluate, review and allocate community investment for community capacity building and event initiatives.

Cross-department team made up of staff from public safety, maintenance, leisure, design and build and internal support and administration; annually review the project submissions. Other subject matter experts will be included in the review depending on the nature of the project.

Responsible:
The Manager of Community Development Services holds final responsibility over the Community Investment Policy including the assignment of designates and subsequent administrative processes.

Councillor Sharman consistent asked that attention be paid to policy and to be sure that they were not creating any new precedents.

During the debate Councillor Sharman expressed considerable concern saying: “I’m going to sound a little contrarian. We don’t give grants to charitable organizations. I appreciate that we have a high regard for BurlingtonGreen and we have some sympathy and I sense that we’re inclined to find a way to fund them where we wouldn’t fund most people, especially grant charities. And I find that a little disturbing, it seems somewhat hypocritical.

He later said: “I’m concerned about the precedent we are setting in the context of it, it would be inconsistent. We need to make sure we know what we’re doing for everybody. I’ll leave that with you.

Sharman’s last words on any grants were:  “Just to be clear, I’m completely happy with giving  BurlingtonGreen more money. I just want to make sure that we are doing it in the right context within the same set of procedures and policies.”

City Manager Tim Commisso pointed to decisions that had been made in the pat that would that might let Council decide to provide grant funds to BurlingtonGreen.

City Manager Tim Commisso seemed prepared to find a way around whatever policy there might be when he said: City Manager: “ We do allow in our procurement bylaw where services are unique. They really are exclusive and we have a history here; a one year track record of having this program delivered through community development funding. I do think it’s a bit unique, but I leave it to council to make the determination.”

Commisso later added:  “I would suggest given that, you know, we have counsel that you give us an opportunity to look at that, but I think the intent would be to report back on the potential for a grant in lieu of rent. So I think you should vote on something today. So it gives us direction.”

On Tuesday Council will be faced with:  $50,000 once or $70,000 a year forever. Maybe waive the $12,000 annual rent for the Pump House.

Allan Magi, the Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services   is expected to come back with some revisions and the City Solicitor Blake Hurley is expected to provide an opinion.  Will that be enough to let Council get away with skirting the policy in place?

The part that caught our attention is:  A community group can only receive funds once every five years.

This council seems prepared to put a line in the budget that basically puts Burlington Green on the payroll for life.

Part 1 of a three part series

 

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Canal lift bridge to limit traffic to one lane March 21 to August 30th

By Staff

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)  advises users of alternating lane closures on the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge for continuing work on a major rehabilitation project during the following period:

  • Thursday, March 21, to Friday, August 30

Deck of the bridge undergoing major repairs and upgrades.

During this period, 3 lanes will be closed and 1 lane will remain open for alternating traffic, controlled by traffic lights. Motorists should expect delays.

Cyclists and pedestrians may cross the bridge using the available pathways. Marine traffic will not be affected.

The 2024 Around the Bay Road Race will also not be affected.

These lane closures are required to complete the second phase of the bridge deck replacement project, which includes rehabilitating the approach spans. The project remains on schedule to be completed by fall 2024.

PSPC encourages users to exercise caution when travelling on the bridge and thanks them for their patience.

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Tent encampment exist in different parts of the city while the Region tears down perfectly good homes.

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington may not have tents set up in Spencer Smith Park with homeless people making the best of the financial situation they are in – there are, nevertheless, homeless people living in tents in the City.

They know that if they to set up in any of the more public areas they would be rousted by the police almost immediately.  While it isn’t policy the current city council does not want them seen by the general public and would explain that social welfare is a Regional issue and leave it at that.

The light house serves as a reference as to where the tent encampments are located.

One of the many people that serve as “spotters” for the Gazette has been keeping an eye just how many and where these homeless people choose to live.

The “spotter” who proved these pictures of the three tents  in a small enclave along with a photograph with the East pier lighthouse for reference as to where they are.

“Nobody about so I couldn’t talk to them.

“The other encampment on the QEW overpass at Guelph Line is gone.  I almost don’t want you to post these as they will be evicted.

 

These houses in the Beachway will be torn down.

“I’ve included some interesting shots of boarded up and demolished house’s same location.”

The Regional government has bought these homes on a willing seller, willing buyer basis and will tear them down to make way for the upgraded Beachway.

Related news stories:

Homes being torn down for a new park community in the west end

Long term plan is to destroy a community and create a new park

 

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Support BurlingtonGreen by ordering solar eclipse glasses at their web site. Delivered to you by Canada Post

By Staff

March 17th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On April 8th, 2024, North America will experience a total solar eclipse! Many community members will be visiting Burlington’s Beach to enjoy the eclipse so be sure to pop on by BurlingtonGreen’s headquarters to say hello, learn about our many impactful Spring opportunities, and you can even deposit your cardboard eclipse glasses into our Terracycle recycling box, following the eclipse!

The eclipse’s path (starting in Mexico, moving through the USA, and then into Canada), mirrors the eastern migration route of the monarch butterfly!

The student-led The Monarch Butterfly Eclipse Project is selling ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses, and if you purchase your solar eclipse glasses HERE 20% of the gross sales will go directly to support BurlingtonGreen’s year-round Nature-Friendly Burlington program!

The Monarch Butterfly Eclipse Project will also use the net proceeds from the sales of the ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses to fund other initiatives that protect the habitat and overall population health of monarch butterflies.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse.

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Great organization - funding it is reasonable - city council seems to want to throw money at them - Lousy policy management

By Pepper Parr

March 17th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a 3 part series on how BurlingtonGreen is probably going to be on the public payroll for a long time.

BurlingtonGreen went to Council asking for $50,000 to cover the cost of services they have been providing the city for some time.

The Staff report suggested:

Approve one time funding for 2024 in the maximum amount of $50,000 from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund as a fee for services provided by BurlingtonGreen summarized in environment and energy report EICS-01-24; and

Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services to execute a Memorandum of Understanding between the City and BurlingtonGreen outlining the services to be provided in 2024, including performance measures in a form satisfactory to the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel; and

Consider an ongoing fee for services approach with BurlingtonGreen in the amount of $50,000 per calendar year during the Mayor’s 2025 budget process.

Before the meeting was over Council was getting close to recommending $70,000 and giving the organization that amount every year as part of the Mayor’s 2025 budget.

Not everyone was on board for this – but the sentiment was that BurlingtonGreen was an organization that should be given ongoing financial support.

Here is how the debate went:

Chair Lisa Kearns: We’re now moving on to BurlingtonGreen fee for service item.

Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability.

Lynn Robichaux, Manager of Environmental Sustainability, author of the report was both brief and direct saying:  “We’re very pleased to present this report today, I think Jamie summed up a lot of the work that they’re doing in the community supporting our environmental objectives. I’ll keep this short, I think it’s time the city increased their financial support for BurlingtonGreen recognizing all the positive benefits they bring to the community. I’ll leave it at that.”

Mayor Meed Ward responded: “Thank you. Short, sweet, it’s awesome. To the point. Did we hear you correctly yesterday – the actual work  they do is closer to $70,000 annually, and that they are absorbing the full amount if we don’t approve this right now? What effectively is the city work that we’ve asked them to do by 2024 if the amount is $50, 000?”

Lynn Robichaud:  ” that’s correct. I think we were trying to be cognizant of the budget constraints that council has been dealing with. But $70,000 is probably what BurlingtonGreen would like to see funding support.”

Mayor: Okay, “:So we could fix that today if we wanted?”

The Mayor then asks  Lori Jivani, (Member of finance team) if there is  any other reserve like an environmental initiatives reserve or some other thing that could be deployed for the one time amount. “We can  consider the ongoing when we get to budget discussions later in the fall.

Lori  Jivani: “We do have a green initiatives reserve fund, that might be an option. As an alternative, it would allow for  both green infrastructure as well as green programming. So I can see this on a one time basis being used for that with consideration then again, if you’d like to make this a more permanent program.”

Mayor:  “Just to follow can you tell us what the balance?”

Lori Jivani: “It is in today’s package, under the Financial Status Report. The balance is $548,000.”

Meed Ward announces that she will have an amendment to the Staff recommendation..

Bentivegna: That $50,000 becomes another $200,000 that we’re committing to long term.

Counsellor Bentivegna: “After rereading the report and hearing the delegation yesterday I appreciate everything  BurlingtonGreen does. But we didn’t discuss this ask from 2024 to 2027; We didn’t get into that conversation. That $50,000 becomes another $200,000 that we’re committing to long term – can you walk me through that. Which is March? Let’s say it’s going to be half the year? And are we committing to the 50,000 from 2024 to 2027 as well if we approve this report?”

Jivani: “ We are recommending the funding for 2024. And for consideration for the ongoing funding to the mayor’s budget in 2025.”

Lisa Kearns, who is chairing the meeting. “I was concerned yesterday, when I heard from the delegate  that an offset of lease cost for their facility, which is a city owned facility, would be considered a precedent. My bigger concern is creating a precedent where we are engaging in fees for service with volunteer groups.

“Safestreets, Halton does a lot of work. We don’t give them funding. There’s a lot of other community culture groups that do a lot of volunteer work that we don’t give funding to them.   And I’m just wondering if within the framework of agencies, boards and commissions, where do we see an organization like this appropriately landing from a governance model?”

Magi: “ I think that we see that there are some differentiations, in terms of the services that BurlingtonGreen is providing, they provided it last year through the Recreation Community Development Fund, and they were quite specific in terms of the program areas and I guess it’s a question about  whether we forego that lease payment and reduce the fee for the services or just keep it clean and have them pay the lease.”

Kearns: “ My second question is –  I went through the appendix, which is the BurlingtonGreen new proposal around services for fee. And it doesn’t look like a proper contract with KPIs or metrics or even a scope of work. I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity that we have to bring back better clarity for what we’re actually purchasing, whether it’s by hours or by event, or by, you know, community engagement, number of people, anything to that effect, I think we have a huge theme around KPIs happening at the city right now. And I’m wondering how we leverage that into contracts with our delivery of service partners?”

Councillor Sherman moves the report. Questions are asked;

Councillor Bentivegna says: “ I’ll be honest.  I’m starting to see a little trend here that I’m not comfortable with.   What concerns me here is we’re doing this pre budget. And when the mayor decides what she wants to put her budget  – this is already in the system. And it gets lost. I’m going to keep bringing this up  – I’m going to back off until I get more information on this  – I will not support this.”

Meed Ward: I’ll try an amendment – and see where it goes.”

Mayor: “I’ll try an amendment – and see where it goes.  Amend the amount in 2024, as well as the potential in the 2025 budget to $ 70,000.  So the 2024 amount at $70,000.  I certainly understand the Bentivegna concern and hesitation with the sort of lock and load or front loading the budget, before you have a chance to see it in context, This kind of test the water and see if  Council has an appetite for this, which greatly helps me when I put together the budget.

Councillor Sharman: “I’m going to sound a little contrarian.”

Councillor Sharman: “I’m going to sound a little contrarian. We don’t give grants to charitable organizations. I appreciate that we have a high regard for BurlingtonGreen and we have some sympathy and I sense that we’re inclined to find a way to fund them where we wouldn’t fund most people, especially grant charities. And I find that a little disturbing, it seems somewhat hypocritical.

“The other thing is when it comes to us buying services, engineering, road surfacing, for example, we have contracts – but here we are wanting to give some money to BurlingtonGreen without measurements or metrics. And by the way we have not gone through the contracting process?  The City Manager reminded me earlier about buying practices. Would we be willing to buy services from other not for profits under some sort of purchasing regime?  I’m unlikely to support going for more right now.  I do want to see some feedback from staff about how we’re going to bring order to this in the context of everything else. I won’t be supporting this.”

Councillor Stolte: “Report in general, but specifically to the amendment that I will 1,000% being supportive. When we balance all of the priorities across the city I look at the  $35,000, plus on 30 minutes of firework display, I know that’s a cultural activity. I know it’s fun, and it’s wonderful for the community. But if we’re happy to spend $35,000, plus for 30 minutes of fireworks, I really don’t struggle with the idea of spending twice that for long lasting environmental benefits that are year round, and that benefit all of the Burlington community and into the future. So I see this as a small spend,  I would like to see it move forward in the mayor’s budget but in a more organized way. I will support this amendment at this time.”

City Manager: “ We do allow in our procurement bylaw where services are unique.

City Manager: “ We do allow in our procurement bylaw where services are unique. They really are exclusive and we  have a history here; a one year track record of having this program delivered through community development funding. I do think it’s a bit unique, but I leave it to council to make the determination.”

Galbraith: “I’m happy to support this. In listening to the delegate yesterday, it seems that much of their time is spent hustling other levels of government just to get a shoestring budget, this is not a lot of money for the amount of work they do.

“Everything can’t wait until budget time. It just unrealistic to think that it can. We have the stabilization reserve fund for opportunities like this and to keep other organizations afloat until the next budget cycle. So I really don’t have an issue with that. And I think this money will be well spent on good work done.”

Kearns: “I would encourage staff to come back with an option around waiving the lease fee for the pumphouse, because it’s being used as a city service as opposed to a not for profit. They’re not  running private workshops, they’re not collecting revenue. I would encourage you to find more funding to help offset their costs. If anyone is amenable to $50,000, from the Green Initiative Fund, I would support that. We don’t just fund not for profits, because we don’t give any money to other ones that are equally noble.”

Kearns: “The Clerk asks that separate votes be taken:  one from the funding source and one for the amount. The first vote will be to approve one time funding for 2024 and the maximum amount of $70,000. All those in favour. All those opposed? That does not carry.

“Now we’ll go to approve one time funding for 2024. And the maximum amount of $50,000 from the green initiatives reserve fund for services provided by BurlingtonGreen summarized in Staff report.  Just the change. Okay, so now you have the vote before you: All those in favour?

The vote isn’t taken – there is a question.

Mayors says she is “happy to throw the $12,000 (rent money) into the mix as a grant to their rent as a further amendments. So we will grant them back their $12,000 in, in rent.”

Chair Kearns: Consider an ongoing fee for service approach with BurlingtonGreen in the amount of $50,000 per calendar year

Kearns: “I’m wondering if we want to have that come back for counsel with any type of legal considerations around it at all?”

City Manager: “I would suggest given that, you know, we have counsel that you give us an opportunity to look at that, but I think the intent would be to report back on the potential for a grant in lieu of rent. So I think you should vote on something today. So it gives us direction.”

Kearns: “Okay, but not necessarily be definitive?  Do you want me to refer it take the whole thing to council? We’ll do the $50,000 right now and then we’ll refer the balance to council or do you want us to be more explicit?”

City Manager :I would suggest you be explicit about the amount so the amount is $12,000 in rent; report back on the exact amount,  sorry through your chair.”

Kearns: “Ok perfect.  Make it: “Direct the Executive Director of Environment Infrastructure and Community Services to report back on a waiver of the pump house lease cost in the approximate amount of $12,000.”

They took a recess – they return

Kearns: I want to make sure we’ve voted entirely on the first paragraph, the green initiatives. So I’m going to take the first vote on the amendment, which is to approve the one time funding for 2024 in the maximum amount of $50,000 from the green initiatives reserve fund on a fee for services provider with BurlingtonGreen.

Kearns: “All those in favour, All those opposed? Carries – Bentivegna was opposed.

“The next paragraph is to consider an ongoing fee for service approach with BurlingtonGreen in the amount of $50,000 per calendar year during the mayor’s 2025 budget process.

“The last piece is to Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services to report back to the March 19 2024 Council meeting on options to forego or waive the approximate $12,000 2024 lease payment by Burlington green for the pump house. All in favour?

Carried

Sharman: “Just to be clear, I’m completely happy with giving BurlingtonGreen more money. I just want to make sure that we are doing it in the right context within the same set of procedures and policies.”

Kearns: “We have a question from Councillor Sharman: “ I’m back to my charitable donations and grants. When will that be addressed? When this comes back? We don’t do that. Of course, I think we can include that when it comes back to council on the 19th. We are asking – how we treat local boards relative to serving charitable organization grants. We can deal with it as best we can.”

Kearns: “Maybe I can help here –  to waive or amend the approximate $12,000. So maybe we can see a change in the amount.”

Sharman: “ Just leave it with staff.”

Magi: “Just to clarify –  we do have a number of city owned facilities that we have joint venture agreements with – it’s a different type of organization, but it is a city asset. And we’re just allowing a community group to utilize that asset is how I would view that.”

Sharman: “I’m concerned about the precedent we are setting in the context of it, it would be inconsistent. We need to make sure we know what we’re doing for everybody. I’ll leave that with you.

“That can come back and council including any requirements for closed session as well.”

Kearns: :Okay, so we’ll vote for the report back  – no report back.  All those in favour.

“That carries.  So now we will vote on the main motion as amended, which is everything. On the main motion as amended. So a mover please.

Councillor Stolte: “Just very briefly, one of the reasons I am supportive of this and I do understand your concerns Councillor Sharman. I think they’re quite valid. And we have to think about them.”

Mayor:  “I see BurlingtonGreen as delivering services that that we’ve asked them to do –  like the Clean up Green up.”

Mayor:  “I see BurlingtonGreen as delivering services that that we’ve asked them to do –  like the Clean up Green up, which is a very different thing than, say the gun club, not to pick on them.  But they’re in a city facility. And they’re different. I don’t know what the incorporated status is of all our JC’s   I’d be surprised if not one of them was a charitable organization. That’s how I see a  difference between BurlingtonGreen and say a community organization that is organic, that was formed if they’re not incorporated, don’t have a board of directors don’t have legal requirements for reporting and some of those other checks and balances.”

“I see BurlingtonGreen as quite different than any of those groups that do have all of those checks and balances. I think a lot of the services  they provide could not be done – there is absolutely no way the city could deliver the services and programs for less than this. That is why I’m comfortable with it. I’ll leave it there. And I’ll probably put $70,000 in  my budget in 2025.”

Sharman: “Just to be clear, I’m completely happy with giving veterans and BurlingtonGreen more money. I just want to make sure that we are doing it in the right context within the same set of procedures and policies.”

Councillor Stolte: “I totally agree we need to tighten it up and make sure it’s concrete and organized.

Councillor Stolte: “I totally agree we need to tighten it up and make sure it’s concrete and organized. And I totally agree that they’re doing work that we would otherwise be spending a lot more money to do. And it’s valuable work and I fully support this.”

Kearns: “ I can’t move this without making a comment that again, yes, of course, it’s easy to agree that Burlington green is making an impact of their engaging youth. They’re helping to support our environmental and climate initiatives and goals. It’s the administrative piece that is glitchy for me. And the governance piece in the not for profit subsidizing not for profits is not the way that the city should be using its tax generated funds.

Kearns: “It’s the administrative piece that is glitchy for me.

“We need to have the structure tightened, the MOU solidified. And if we’re buying services, then that’s actually a supplier relationship and partnership. It is not subsidizing and not for profit. So that is my piece around the governance and the administration of a pay for use service that should be equitably applied across all of our vendors and our vendor portfolio. So my issue is not at all with BurlingtonGreen, you can plug and play with the name of the organization, we have so many in our community that are doing amazing work and you know, helping to round out the city’s vision and goals and initiatives. But you have to do that in a way that’s structured appropriately for value for money and is aligned with all of our financial bylaws and otherwise, so my issue is not Burlington green. wholeheartedly support Amy the team Gloria kale, everyone you’re doing amazing work. But we have to be mindful of process here and that’s really what this boils down to.”

The Pump House has become a BurlingtonGreen EcoHub.

Kearns: “All in favour on the motion as amended. Opposed?

It carries.

What they do with it at Council on Tuesday is one of those unknowns.  $50,000 once or $70,000 a year forever.  Maybe waive the $12,000 annual rent for the Pump House

 

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