Municipal civil servants have job security and a very generous pension plan

By James Portside

April 6th, 2024


Third of a three part series on what city staff are paid and the pension program they benefit from.


City manager Tim Commisso will be dancing his way into retirement.

For anyone interested in exploring the Ontario Sunshine list the official website for 2023 is:

The benefits information provided on the above website refers to taxable benefits only. Municipal employees in Ontario, who work 32 hours a week or more, are automatically enrolled in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) pension plan. The city and the employee pay into this plan.

These are the OMERS contribution rates for people who want to retire at age 55, or older, with at least 35 years of service. Age plus years of service must equal at least 90 to receive the maximum pension benefit.

Someone earning $66,600 contributes $5,994 a year to their pension plan with the city matching this contribution. The employee portion reduces take home pay. People at the $66,600 income level or lower contribute less to their pension so they will have more money for today’s expenses. When someone with a defined benefit pension plan retires and starts collecting their pension the pension payments are indexed to inflation. The private sector has largely switched to defined contribution plans because inflation is unpredictable.

OMERS will raise contribution levels to cover any shortfalls in the plan, with employers (cities funded by taxpayers) paying half the cost of any increases.The “salary paid” number in the sunshine list does not include the cost of non-taxable benefits such as pension plan contributions. The 2023 Burlington sunshine list data shows 59 employees with “Manager” in their title. The average annual income for this group is $137,544. Contrasting this with the private sector the employment website reports that the average manager in Toronto has a base salary of $95,154.  The city contributes 14.6% to each manager’s pension plan or an average of $20,081. This brings the average cost to taxpayers, for each manager, including the pension benefit, up to $157,626.Let’s say our fictional average manager contributes just over $20,000 a year to their pension plan with the city matching this contribution bringing the total contribution to over $40,000 a year.

Our fictional manager is 40 years old and was just promoted onto the management team after 15 years of service with the city. To keep things simple, I’ll pretend there is no inflation or salary increases so that the pension contributions continue at the $40,000 a year level for 25 more years and that amounts to $1 million. At least $200,000 would have accumulated in the first 15 years bringing the city and individual contributions to $1.2 million but hold on, like any pension plan, OMERS invests this money and, over the last 10 years, has earned an average annual return of 7.3%.Starting retirement savings early, adding $40,000 a year from age 40 to 65, along with consistent compounding annual returns of 7.3%, brings the value of our average manager’s pension savings to around $4 million.

Albert Einstein said “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” and you can really see how solid money management by the OMERs team pays off.OMERs uses a formula to calculate what someone’s actual annual pension amount will be. The formula uses the average of an individual’s best five consecutive years of earnings and is explained in detail in the members handbook ( 40 years with the city, our fictional manager will receive an inflation protected pension of $92,035.20 a year, every year, for the rest of his or her life.For the city’s top earners, the pension benefit becomes quite large.

Staff and members of City Council visiting Burlington’s Sister City, Itabashi, Japan take part in a parade with the Mayor strutting alongside the Itabashi Mayor. Burlington City Manager Tim Commisso, center, shows some fancy footwork as well.

For example, last year the city paid $44,091.12 into Tim Commisso’s pension plan.  According to LinkedIn between Burlington and Thunder Bay Commisso has over 34 years of municipal service. Based on the limited information in the sunshine list Commisso will receive an inflation protected pension of at least $177,679.65 per year, every year, for the rest of his life.We now understand why this man is dancing.
Cities rarely lay people off, you really have to make an effort to be fired, and the pension plan benefit is a significant perk over the long term.

Kudos to all the permanent employees at the city on an excellent career choice.

Links to part 1 and part 2 of the series:

Part 2

Part 1:

Disclaimers:1 – OMERs contributions are calculated on base salary excluding overtime. The sunshine list just shows total earnings.2 – The calculations in this article have been double checked but only OMERs members have access to the official OMERs pension calculation website.  3 – Tim Commisso’s pension calculations are based on the standard OMERs calculations. Commisso’s contract with the city may have other pension stipulations.

Jim Portside has lived in Burlington for much of his life and has watched the city change and grow over the years. With over 1,000 people working for the city there is a lot going on. As a now retired, successful business owner, Jim is interested in exploring and sharing some of what our local government is working on. You can reach Jim by emailing

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Jim Thomson gets a 50 page response from the City's Ombudsman: 'My complaint was justified'

By Staff

April 5th, 2024



Jim Thomson took exception with the way the city used or failed to use the Procedural by law appropriately.

Council took exception to how Jim Thomson chose to delegate and issued a No Trespass notice which limits what he can do to virtual appearances.

Thomson is big, BIG on detail.  He filed a complaint with the City’s Ombudsman and waited.

He got a response: a 50 page report in which the Ombudsman basically agreed with him

The Gazette will wade through the report and let you know what they had to say.

The City appears to be taking the report seriously.

In a report to Council from the City Manager we learn that:

Having reviewed in detail and considered the findings of the ADRO Investigation report, the City Manager recommends that Committee accept the findings of the report and that the City Clerk report back in Q2 with recommended changes to the City’s Procedural By-law to address any outstanding procedural by-law compliance issues outlined in the detailed report.

As Committee is aware and as noted in the detailed Investigation report, the Thursday council meetings that were set up in 2022/23 to deal primarily with time sensitive items have been discontinued in the 2024 Council meeting calendar.

Jim Thomson delegating: Keeps a tight eye on what Council does.

The City Manager also acknowledges that the City is committed to continuous improvement with respect to adherence and effectiveness of the PBL. The new City Clerk working closely with department staff, as well as the City Manager, Executive Director of Community Relations and Engagement and the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation.

 Council, will undertake a full review of the identified non-compliance items and report back by the end of Q2 with recommendations for changes to the PBL as well as any report process changes on how Committee and Council meeting are conducted.

Thomson maintains that “my complaint was justified, but there are no legal consequences under the Municipal Act.”

He adds that the item is added to the Council agenda at the last minute so that people can’t digest and prepare delegations.



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A Call to Maintain Checks and Balances in Burlington Governance: 'Whammo! Yikes!'

By Staff

April 5th, 2024


The following is a note Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns sent out to the people who get her newsletter.  It is a start but it is going to take more than polite notes when you are up against a Mayor who “Never apologizes, Never retracts and Never explains”

I am writing to alert you to a pressing concern in Burlington City Hall. The regular April Newsletter will arrive to your inbox tomorrow. Please see below and share. Reach out to me with any additional questions or commentary.
Councillor Kearns

The recent amendments to the Municipal Act have opened a door that Burlington residents should be cautious about walking through. At the heart of the matter is the significant expansion of powers to mayoral authority—often referred to as “strong mayor” powers—which puts into question the balance of power that is fundamental to the nature of our local government. It is true, we have had these in place for a while now, but we should have been more vigilant around how far we could push back and to have commended more vocally the mayors who willingly shed these on receipt (Guelph, Milton, Halton Hills, Kingston, Kitchener).

Our City Council has requested Mayor Marianne Meed Ward to consider delegating/giving back powers allowed under the new legislation. These powers include appointing key administrative positions, leading the structural organization of the municipality, and directing council committees.

Councillor Kearns: Does the “Whammo – Yikes” routine to make her point.

It is a dangerous mix for one person to have the unilateral ability to hire or fire senior staff (as well as the City Manager!), configure decision making committees of council AND the immovable powers of dictating the City Budget! Yikes, what an environment to work in. Imagine being a civil servant carrying out the work supported by Council as a whole…then, whammo a mayor could come in and tell you to go in a different direction that aligns with their agenda.

What a difficult position to be in! Of course anyone who wants to keep their job would bend to the political will. And that is the crux, staff aren’t political. They operate under the checks and balances that the City Manager gatekeeps to ensure that resourcing and finances remain in check with what the Council as a whole make political decisions on. This is how democracy works. These ‘strong mayor powers’ turn that upside down and threaten the governance structure that Council as a whole must be ruled by. In essence, such consolidated power could upset the very fabric of our city’s democratic processes.

Why Should Burlington Resist Strong Mayor Powers?

      1. Collective Wisdom Over Centralized Decision-Making
        The strength of a council lies in its diverse representation of all residents and its collective wisdom in decision making. When power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual, we detract from the benefits of having multiple perspectives that can challenge, refine, and improve decisions impacting our community. We must ask who we are there to serve at every decision.
      2. Transparency and Accountability
        With strong mayor powers, the transparency of appointments and organizational changes risks becoming obscured. Residents deserve a clear view into how and why decisions are made, ensuring accountability across all actions of local government.
      3. Checks and Balances
        Checks and balances are vital to prevent any form of governance from overreaching. By allowing Mayor Meed Ward—or any mayor—the ability to make unilateral decisions without the council’s majority support, we risk undermining this safeguard. Power without boundaries must not be allowed in our community.
      4. Community Representation
        Council members are elected to be the voice of their constituents. Diminishing their roles in key committee leadership dilutes their capacity to represent the interests of the people who elected them. Councillors will be reduced to observers of the decision-making process – that means your voice and ours is gone.

Lisa Kearns at a public meeting before she was elected a city Councillor.

Your Voice is Vital
The question of strong mayor powers is not just about governance structures; it’s about the values upon which Burlington was built—a city that thrives on active citizenry and community-based decision-making. The reality is, sure we do make many decisions that are ‘unanimous’, but that is not an indicator of a collaborative council and should not be used to dismiss this call to action. We also disagree – and very few see the constructive challenges that occur behind the scenes to get to the best outcome for our community. Also, listing mayoral decisions is not transparency. Some of the decisions shouldn’t be made in the first place – that’s what we are asking you to help advocate for.

We urge Burlington residents to engage with this topic actively, to understand the ramifications of holding onto mayoral powers that may irreversibly alter how our city is managed.

Act Now for Burlington’s Future
Don’t be a silent observer amidst these changes. The mayor says she is in ‘thoughtful consideration’ of the matter – tell her to give it up. Already a majority of Council support this because we know you care about democracy and that your voice must be heard. We cannot allow actions that have the momentum to create a toxic work environment to take hold of our City Hall. You are the taxpayer and this Council and the actions of Staff are your investment – don’t you want to ensure that power is not concentrated in the hands of one position? Imagine a bigwig executive at a big company that has the ability to override or dismiss employees without consultation – would you think of that company as a good investment? Probably not!

Attend the upcoming City Council meeting April 16th where your voice can have impact. Be part of a collective effort to ensure that our governance remains equitable, transparent, and representative.

Email and my office and say:

My name is __________________ I live at ________________and I request that Mayor Meed Ward delegate those powers she is permitted to under the amended Municipal Act, including: appointing a chief administrative officer; appointing chairs and vice-chairs of local boards; creating, dissolving, assigning functions and appointing chairs and vice-chairs of council committees; hiring municipal division heads; and changing the organizational structure of the municipality.

Please include this email as correspondence in the April 16th Council Agenda.

Sign the petition:

Burlington deserves governance that reflects its community’s integrity, not the unchecked power of a single office holder. Join us in upholding the values that make Burlington strong.

Together, we can keep Burlington a city of unified vision, not divided authority. Let’s keep our checks and balances intact for the betterment of Burlington now, and for generations to come.

Related news stories:

Councillors have more than words in their tool kit

Mayor stalls despite intense pressure from members of Council

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The four members of Council that oppose the use of Strong Mayor powers have more clout than they realize - STRIKE !

By Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2024



The conditions within which people work have changed.

Employers have to treat people with more dignity and respect and realize that they have lives outside of the office or the assembly line.

Covid brought about the demand for a better life/work balance.  That demand has changed the basic of the office rental business.

Members of unions have the right to strike and they strike.

Can politicians walk off the job if they don’t like the conditions they have to work within?

Let’s narrow that down to the municipal sector.

It is pretty clear that a majority of the current city council are not happy with the grip the Mayor is using on the Strong Mayor powers she has.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawn Stolte pressing Mayor Meed Ward for a statement.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith – very uncomfortable but hanging in with his colleagues.

The majority of Council (Stolte, Galbraith, Nisan and Kearns) have been very public in about the way the Mayor has, in their view, cut them out of a lot of the process of making decisions at Council.

Mayor Meed Ward: To date her grip on the Strong Mayor powers has been tenacious.

One of the changes she has made is that she is chair of every meeting.  The Standing Committee meetings that were once separate events now take place within a Committee of the Whole (COW) which the Mayor Chairs.  She can alter the agenda (she call that Agenda Management) or she can override a position a member of Council members makes.

They are not happy about any of this.  The four (Stolte, Kearns, Galbraith and Nisan) are very firm in their position.  One of them, Rory Nisan is battling the Mayor on the front pages of the Hamilton Spectator while the Gazette and the Bay Observer ensure that the issue is front and center.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna: Deeply concerned but not ready to take a stand.

Councillor Bentivegna is kind of on the fence with this and is undoubtedly under a lot of pressure from the Mayor and Councillor Sharman to keep him in their camp.  Tough days for Angelo – not quite what he expected when he first ran for office.

The Mayor has committed to her colleagues to giving them her thoughts on what she will keep in terms of the Strong Mayor powers and what she will delegate the City Council.

The Mayor has managed to maintain control of the narrative.  If those opposed to what the Mayor is doing want to use the power and the leverage they have they need to look at the union model – STRIKE!

At the beginning of every meeting of Council the Chair (always the Mayor these days) has to turn to the Clerk and ask that a Roll Call be done.  In order for the meeting their must be a quorum – which for Burlington is at least four of the seven members of Council.

No quorum – no meeting.

How would they make that happen?

Councillors attend meeting in person or virtually.  On the 16th the four should get up from their chairs when the Mayor and asks for a Roll Call.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan: taking the Mayor head on and battling her with media opinion pieces.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns – wanted her signature on the Motion – technicalities prevented that – but says she is all in.

At that point the four get up from their seat and stand behind their chairs.  When their name is called they say nothing.  The Clerk will probably call out their names several times.  The four remain mute.

If the Mayor decides their being at the Council table is enough and tells the Clerk to continue and then declares that there is a quorum the four should leave the horseshoe and sit in the public section of the Council Chamber.

That freezes the meeting.

The Mayor will have to scramble but at that point she has no power.

It will be a gong show – but Mayor Meed Ward will know that she has a crisis on her hands and that her council colleagues are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”.

Will the four take this kind of action – they don’t have the cajonies to do something like this.

The Mayor does and she will whip these puppies into shape in short order.

Welcome to Burlington the best mid-sized city in the country.


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Monday is going to be a very big and busy day. A once in decades solar eclipse will draw millions

By Staff

April 4th, 2024



For less than five minutes next Monday afternoon millions of people will be bustling with solar eclipse excitement.

Toronto will also be busy with sporting enthusiasts attending the Blue Jays’ opening game and the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game.

Metrolinx expects a record numbers of travellers  and will be rolling out special GO Transit services to accommodate this influx of travellers.

Niagara Falls Service

Additional GO rolling stock will be added to the service upgrades.

On Monday, April 8, there will be special service to and from Niagara Falls on the Lakeshore West line for customers travelling to see the solar eclipse:

  • Two extra trips are being added to the Lakeshore West line from Union Station to Niagara Falls. Trains will depart at 9:02 a.m., 10:02 a.m. and 11:02 a.m., ensuring customers have enough time to get to Niagara for the solar eclipse.
  • Trips are also being added and modified on the Lakeshore West line from Niagara Falls to Union Station. Return trips from Niagara Falls will depart at 4:24 p.m., 4:54 p.m., 7:21 p.m. and 10:51 p.m. to give customers more departure options.
  • All trains to and from Niagara Falls will be 12 cars long to provide as much room onboard as possible.
  • Regularly scheduled GO bus service will also be available for customers via Route 12 Niagara Falls/ Burlington.
  • Trains will stop at Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville, Burlington, Aldershot and St. Catharines GO stations in between Union and Niagara.

Event Service for Jays’ opening game and Maple Leafs’ game

Locals taking the GO to a ball game.

Also on Monday, April 8, there will be special event service on the Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East and Barrie lines to support customers travelling for the Jays and Leafs games in Toronto.  Additional express trips, adjusted schedules and replacement buses are being implemented including:

  • Lakeshore West: Two extra express eastbound trips will depart Oakville GO at 5:07 p.m. and 6:03 p.m. The 10:52 p.m. westbound trip to Niagara Falls will also depart 20 minutes earlier at 10:32 p.m. to help get customers home earlier.

Customers are encouraged to use or to plan their trips as schedules and connection times have changed for this weekend. Customers can also check the GO Transit Service Updates page for real-time details

Transit is now more convenient and affordable with Ontario’s One Fare Program, allowing transit riders to pay only once when travelling between the TTC, GO Transit, Brampton Transit, Durham Region Transit, MiWay and York Region Transit. Learn more about One Fare here:




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Rivers: Understanding the carbon tax and why it is the best tool to deal with the changing climate

By Ray Rivers

April 4th, 2024



Canadian taxpayers have been doling out billions every year through their income taxes and GST/HST to subsidize the oil and gas sector.  One estimate puts that figure at over $6 billion a year – over $200 per taxpayer.  And of course there is no corresponding rebate for this.  Federal prime ministers, including both Harper and Trudeau, had been promising to eliminate these subsidies for decades.

In 1973 the federal government bought a 15% share in Syncrude which gave them a closer look at how the oil industry worked.

In 1973 Pierre Trudeau bought a 15% share in Syncrude after US partner Atlantic Richfield pulled out of the oil sands.  Federal subsidies have continued pretty much ever since.  Trudeau senior even contemplated nationalizing the western oil sands at one point.  In the end he created the National Energy Program to bring lower cost western oil to the rest of Canada in response to the international oil embargoes of the 1970’s.

Subsidies include income tax breaks; direct financial investment; carbon capture; and even the Trans Mountain pipeline.  In addition to the feds, the three westerly provinces offer reduced royalties as well as tax exemptions.  The other provinces have various programs offering some combination of direct subsidies and tax breaks for aviation and agricultural fuels.

Subsidies are the reverse side of taxation.  Subsidies lower commodity prices which in turn increases the demand for fossil fuels.  That defeats the purpose of carbon taxes, which aim to reduce demand through higher prices.  Yet, despite commitments by the last two federal governments to stop giving your money to big oil and gas, these subsidies continue.

It’s little wonder that the effectiveness of carbon pricing so far has been somewhat disappointing.  Between 2019 and 2021 emissions did fall by over 50 million tonnes but it is uncertain how much of that can also be attributed to the economic decline during the pandemic.

The electric vehicle is positioned to become what people will eventually use.

Rational people will react to higher prices by changing their behaviour, e.g.,taking public transportation instead of driving.  But typically they’ll look for alternative modes of transportation, e.g. electric vehicles (EV). Developing alternate technologies like EV’s takes time which is why the carbon tax gradually increases – to accommodate the adoption of new low carbon technologies as they arrive on the market.

Few policies have been as well studied as carbon pricing.  And 72 nations around the world have adopted some form of carbon pricing.  Recently over 200 leading economic professionals challenged Canada’s opposition leader over his wrong headed attack on carbon pricing and all the misinformation he has been generating.  These experts tell us that the only practical option for an orderly phase-out of greenhouse gas polluting hydrocarbons is a carbon tax.

Poilievre has rejected the advice of professionals, insulting and belittling them and insisting that his ‘common sense’ is superior to their decades of academic research.

Mr. Poilievre has rejected the advice of these professionals, insulting and belittling them and insisting that his ‘common sense’ is superior to their decades of academic research, including a Nobel prize in economics on the topic.   And, of course, Mr. Poilievre offers no alternative.  His policies to deal with climate change are non-existent.  But then he a leads an antediluvian political entity steeped in the denial of global warming.

The linkage between the gas pump and climate change events, like the massive forest fires last year, is indirect, perhaps even subtle.  But even ostriches with their heads buried in sand should be able to feel the heat as it increases year after year.  Most concerning is that the opinion polls foretell the Mr. Poilievre will be Canada’s next PM.

Floods, drought and forest fires tell us climate change is already at out door.  Carbon pricing is the least disruptive and most cost effective way of trying to meet Canada’s international climate change commitments.  But even carbon pricing won’t work unless we are prepared to change our life styles.  There is no free lunch if we really care.

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



Background links:

Subsidies –     Carbon Tax –     Carbon Debate –     72 Nations

Oil Sands History –   Carbon Tax Info –   Poilievre Defies the Experts


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Winning library books marks displayed

By Staff

April 3rd, 2024



From the Burlington library:

This year, we asked for a design inspired by your favourite book, and the entries we received were as creative and diverse as the books on our shelves. It was challenging to narrow the entries down to just four for each age category for voting, but we hope you agree that the winning designs showcase the imagination and talent of our Burlington community.


Our youngest winner, Lea, recently checked out the books Earth by Marion Bauer and Planet Name Game by Tish Rabe, instigating “many, many, many questions about space” (according to her family!) and her awesome space-themed bookmark. Alex was inspired by the popular book, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt. Alex’s favourite subject is art, and this is his first time winning a competition. We don’t think it will be the last!

The book, Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter inspired Adrianna to create her beautiful wintery scene. Tazi honoured one of her favourite books of all time, If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang. And finally, Diana’s surreal fish creation was inspired by How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Congratulations to our five winners, and a big thank you to everyone who submitted a design and voted. These awesome bookmarks are now available to pick up at your local branch. Tuck them into your next great read!


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City manager takes exception to our suggesting it was the Mayor who fired two senior staff members

By Pepper Parr

April 3rd, 2024



We received the following from the City Communications people earlier today:

“With respect to recent changes in City of Burlington leadership roles, at no time have I spoken directly to the Burlington Gazette or any other publication asserting or implying that strong mayor powers have been used for this purpose. They have not.”

The Gazette never said that we spoke to Tim Commisso on this matter.

Here is what we published, the words were sent to us by the Communications people

 “Responding on behalf of Tim Commisso, City Manager – Further to your requests to Council members and Corporate Communications, I can confirm Brynn Nheiley and Sheila Jones are no longer working for the City.

“As you know, it’s our policy not to comment on personnel matters, but I would like to note that the City is grateful to Brynn and Sheila for their many important contributions over the years and we wish them the very best in their future endeavours.”

Commisso appears to be concerned with what we published in the following article – Link is HERE

Commisso seems to be saying that the removal of two senior staff members was not the result of the Mayor using her Strong Mayor powers.  If the Mayor didn’t fire the two women then the City Manager did.

The only thing we do know is that two of the Executive Director level people are no longer with the city.  Sooner or later the full story will come out – it always does.

What a heck of a way for Tim Commisso to end a career.


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Mayor gearing up for her 2025 budget

By Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2024



This is how a municipal budget gets put together when the Mayor uses the Strong Mayor Powers.

Council is being asked to:

Receive and file finance department report providing an update to the format of the 2025 budget documents and the preliminary 2025 Mayors budget approval timelines; and Direct the City Clerk to schedule a Special Council meeting on November 25, 2024 for the purpose of reviewing the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Section 284.16 of the Municipal Act, 2001 S.O. 2001, c. 25 outlines a statutory process for the approval of municipal budgets beginning with the presentation of the Mayor’s proposed budget, amendment of the proposed budget by City Council, veto of amendments by the Mayor and override of vetoes by City Council.

The general provisions of the Act regarding budgets are summarized below: Page 2 of Report Number: F-19-24

By February 1 of each year the Mayor must prepare and propose a budget to Council for consideration

Authority to prepare and propose the budget rests solely with Mayor

This authority cannot be delegated to Council or staff

Mayor can issue a staff direction for staff to prepare budget

Once the Mayor proposes a budget, Council has 30 (calendar) days to meet and pass budget amendments.

30-day period can be shortened by Council resolution

May require special council meeting to meet 30-day timeline

Following the amendment period, the Mayor has 10 (calendar) days to veto budget amendments passed by Council.

Mayor vetos must be set out through a Mayoral Decision and include reasons for veto.

Mayor can shorten veto period via a Mayoral Decision.

Budget amendments vetoed by Mayor are considered not to have been passed by Council

If veto power is not exercised, budget is deemed to have passed

Within 15 days of the veto period ending Council may meet to attempt to override Mayoral vetos.

Council override of Mayoral veto requires 2/3 super majority to pass.

After process of amendments, vetos and overrides has passed the budget is deemed to have been adopted.

Council no longer needs to vote on budget in its entirety.

Budget is considered to have been passively adopted once the approval process above has finished.

The following graphic outlines the key budget process steps as stipulated in the Act:

Mayoral Direction – Budget Development

As outlined earlier, under the provisions of the Act, the authority to propose a budget rests solely with the Mayor. However, a Mayoral direction can be issued for staff to undertake the work required to prepare a draft budget. In order to formalize this requirement for the 2025 budget, the Mayor will be issuing this Direction later this year.

 The staff process to inform the Mayor’s Proposed Budget will include:

 An extensive line by line review of the draft operating base budget submitted by each service will be conducted by the Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

 An extensive review of the draft capital budget will be conducted by the Corporate Infrastructure Committee (CIC).

 Staff will prepare a Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast report which will be presented to Committee of the Whole in June. This report will outline key budget pressures and significant drivers as well as make recommendations for additional budget investments to address key risks, increase or enhance service levels or address operational challenges.

Draft Budget timelines

Further refinement of the 2025 budget process and timelines will be undertaken prior to reporting back to June COW including the opportunity to consider alternative service delivery priorities and multi-year budget impacts.

 Budget Motion Memorandums Forms

Similar to the process used in previous years, should a Member of Council wish to propose an amendment to the Mayor’s Proposed 2025 Budget, they are requested to prepare a Motion Memorandum. This memo will include the rationale for any proposed Page 4 of Report Number: F-19-24 budget amendment.

These Motion Memorandums will provide other members of Council and as well as the public, greater clarity as to why an amendment is being proposed and the rationale for the budget change request.

Motion Memorandums are due to Finance by 4:30 pm on November 11, 2024, to allow sufficient time for inclusion into the Budget Committee agenda of November 18, 2024. These Motion Memorandums will form the basis for the agenda to review the Mayor’s 2025 Proposed Budget.

 Revised Budget Book Format

The 2024 budget approval process was a year of transition given that the Province of Ontario only extended Strong Mayor Powers to Burlington on July 1, 2023. As this change occurred well into the budget development process there was limited time to make significant alterations to the process.

As a result, the traditional staff proposed budget was renamed to the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast and the budget book was aligned with those figures.

The Mayor used this document for reference purposes when preparing the Budget and outlined in a table the differences between the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast and the Mayor’s Proposed Budget.

We heard from members of Council and the public that this reconciliation between the two items was extremely detailed and cumbersome to manage. Additionally, we heard that the overall length of the budget book at over 730+ pages was not user friendly as a review document.

As a result of this feedback two significant changes will be made for the 2025 Budget process.

When the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast is presented at June COW, it will include a comprehensive staff report and presentation but will not include a lengthy reference document. When the Mayor’s Proposed budget is presented, it will include a detailed budget book fully aligned to those figures.

The format of the budget book will be condensed. Service Business Plans will no longer be included in the budget book but will be replaced with streamlined content focusing on current service delivery and operations, emerging opportunities and risks, key service investments and an operational financial summary of the service-based budget. Also included for each service will be headline measures which demonstrate and depict service performance. Finally, the 10-year capital investments will be included at the service level.

A sample of the revised budget book content for a single service is set out below.



Financial Matters:

The approved 2024 Budget invested $346.2M into delivering city services to the community and $88.6M into the capital program to renew aging infrastructure and invest in new community assets.

The budget process provides a venue in which decisions are aligned and made to ensure an appropriate balance between affordability, maintaining/enhancing service levels and financial sustainability is achieved over the long term.

The Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast will be prepared to recognize key budget drivers including ongoing inflationary pressures as well as investments required to stabilize service delivery. It will also make recommendations for increased funding to key areas to address the needs of our growing community.

This Financial Needs and Multi-year forecast will inform the Mayor with detailed information while providing sufficient time to prepare her 2025 Proposed Budget.

 Climate Implications:

A plaza was seriously flooded in 2014 – expectation is that there will be flooding in the years ahead due to climate change.

The impacts of a changing climate can have a significant impact on the City’s budget. For example, increasing extreme weather events such as wind, freezing rain, extreme heat and cold can result in operational expenditures due to clean-up costs, more frequent emergency response and recovery efforts, and unbudgeted impacts to infrastructure requiring repairs and/or replacement.

Similarly, efforts to mitigate climate change can have a budgetary impact. Investments in renewable energy, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and public transit help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 Engagement Matters:

The city will continue to use existing online engagement tools such as survey opportunities on

Will the public choose to take part in budget deliberations the way they used to – or with apathy become the norm?

A Budget Townhall is also planned for November 6, 2024.

The results of all public engagement will be reported back to Council as part of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget and in advance of the budget review process.

The Open Book platform will also be used to present the budget and allow the public to view the budget data in an interactive and intuitive format.

A communications strategy will also be developed in conjunction with the presentation of the Proposed Budget.

 This reported presents preliminary 2025 Budget approval timelines as well as outlines an update to the format of the budget book documents.


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City Council: Two hours for a CLOSED session update regarding a human resources matter

By Staff

April 2nd, 2024



Council met in CLOSED session this morning for two hours on a single item.

Zippo in terms of detail on what was discussed other than the following:

Confidential verbal update regarding a human resources matter.

Pursuant to Section 239(2)(b) personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees.

Two hours for an update?

Council Sharman did not attend.

There were some pretty glum looking faces when the webcast was public.

This is what things look like when the Strong Mayor powers are used.

The public will never know what those dismissals are going to cost.

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First Date: blind date newbie is set up with serial-dater Casey - on stage at Drury Lane

By Staff

April 3rd, 2024



When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious high-stakes dinner.

Kelsey Faulkner, Alanna Perkovich-Smith, Evan Delvecchio-Williams Photography by Heather Pierorazio

As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds that they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. In a delightful and unexpected twist, Casey and  Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive  best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through icebreakers,  appetizers and potential conversational land mines.

Can this couple turn what could be a dating disaster  into something special before the check arrives?

Stage Director & Choreographer: Marc Richard

Music Director: Anne Barnshaw

Stage Manager: Barb Osborne

Co-Producers: Peter Smurlick & Rick MacKenzie

SHOW DATES 2023 (14 performances)

Evenings 8 PM May 3, 4, 10, 11, 16*, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 2024

Matinees 2 PM May 5, 12, 19, 26, 2023

* Charity Thursday: Thu, May 16th, 2024 

Resilient Kids Canada 

(A portion of ticket sales is donated to this charity) 


Evan Delvechchio -Williams – Aaron Kelsy Faulkner – Casey 

Alanna Perkovich-Smith – Woman #3  (Waiter/Therapist/Casey’s Father) 

Katharine Costa –Woman #2 (Allison) 

Devin France –Man #3 

(Reggie/Edgy Rocker Guy/Aaron’s Future Son) 

Mark Rotil – Man #1  

(Gabe/Edgy British Guy) 

Stacey Tiller – Woman #1  

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New City Clerk is announced.

By Staff

April 2nd, 2024



Traditionally, City Hall has not released background information on staff changes.

Today the City announced that Samantha Yew is the new City Clerk. Her appointment began on March 25, 2024.

Samantha Yew – City Clerk

Yew has served as the Manager of Committee Services and Deputy Clerk since joining the City in 2022. In December 2023, she assumed the role of Acting City Clerk.

Ms. Yew is an accomplished public servant with more than 10 years of experience in municipal government. Prior to joining Burlington, Ms. Yew worked as the Deputy Clerk for the Town of Aurora managing the Council secretariat division.

During her tenure with the City, Ms. Yew helped lead the successful delivery of the 2022 Burlington Municipal Election and the recruitment of members to the City’s more than 10 advisory and standing committees, including the new Pipeline to Permit standing committee. As Manager of Committee Services, she oversaw the administration of all City standing and advisory committee meetings, and worked to develop a new civic recognition program launching this spring.

As City Clerk, Ms. Yew will continue to lead City Council meetings; provide professional procedural and governance advice to the Mayor and Members of Council and City staff; facilitate accessible and inclusive opportunities for members of the public to interact with Council; build awareness and understanding of municipal government through civic education; maintain City records; manage the City’s response to freedom of information requests; and ensure fair and open municipal elections.

Mayor Meed Ward leaning to hear what the City Clerk has to say on a procedural matter.

Ms. Yew holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University and a Certificate in Records and Information Management from the University of Toronto. She is also a member of the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario.




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Views on the petition asking Mayor to relinquish Strong Mayor powers are both robust and direct

By Staff

April 2nd, 2024



The following comment posted by Blair Smith is one side of the issue brought to the surface by three members of Council and strongly supported by a fourth.

If the petition cannot generate 1000 signatures by April 16th, then the citizens of Burlington (and Ontario) may not care enough about our fundamental freedoms and the principle of majority rule.

Our Mayor, in my view and that of many, is now (perhaps with Ms. Horwath) the poster child of what is wrong with the Strong Mayor Powers. It matters not whether these powers are benevolently applied or with Council consultation, as Mr. Sharman contends. The fact that they exist and under the sole control of a single individual is just fundamentally wrong.

The citizens of Burlington can certainly be motivated and engaged. But the issues that move them tend to be those of the wallet. The general dissatisfaction with the Mayor’s budget proves that.

Issues of democratic freedoms and principles seem to be far less compelling and have much, much less news coverage and social media presence. The very successful petition against the Mayor’s unprecedented tax increase for 2024 was, in part, the result of an existential threat to peoples’ standard of living. It was a meat and potatoes issue and had Council ‘in toto’ conducting a defensive campaign to which the petition could directly respond.

The issue of democratic freedoms is unfortunately less direct and less visceral for a largely affluent society. Pity because the long term impacts on all citizens are probably much more severe.

I applaud the four members of Council for their courage and integrity in bringing the issue of Strong Mayor powers in Burlington into the open. They have forced the Mayor to respond and to demonstrate how horribly conceived and ill placed these powers are.

Glenda Dodd asked, in her comment:  Maybe some people actually agree with the mayor?

For those who want to sign the petition – click HERE

Links to related news stories:

It was not the Mayor’s finest hour


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Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation will be hosting community events throughout April

By Staff

April 2nd, 2024



For those who have family who are dealing with Parkinson’s disease – every day is a hard day with brief bits of gratitude for the help that is available.

The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation will be hosting community events throughout April as part of their efforts to raise awareness and promote ways to make lives better.

On April 11, many cities across the country are joining the foundation`s second annual Light Up Canada for World Parkinson’s Day campaign. Cities will light up their buildings, bridges, towers and waterfalls in blue to acknowledge this important day. Some of the landmarks include Mississauga City Hall, Port Credit Lighthouse, the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, the Peace Bridge, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and Vancouver’s BC Place.  The Burlington Pier will be part of this.

“Since May 2021, we have grown significantly from a small grassroots organization with two outdoor exercise classes, to a booming charitable organization with eleven weekly programs,“ said Tamara Boaden, chair of the Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation.

“Our participants really enjoy our boxing, cycle fit, indoor virtual golf, mindful movement, pickleball, and tai chi classes. Caregiver group meetings, support groups and a speaker`s series hosted by PD experts have been meaningful.

Collaborating with Rama Gaming House Mississauga and the Mississauga Charity Gaming Association this past year has also helped  to raise much needed funds. The foundation is looking forward to its signature gala event on April 20 hosted by CHFI’s Michelle Butterly, celebrating our success with the Parkinson`s community, and expressing gratitude with partners, sponsors, donors and volunteers.“

Research shows that various forms of exercise or art can improve gait, balance, tremor, flex-ability, grip strength, cognition and overall motor coordination and sense of well-being. Improved mobility decreases the risks of falls and can help people with PD manage other related complications.

According to a recent Ipsos study, 73 percent of all Canadians living with Parkinson’s rate regular exercise as the service most important to them.

The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation sources, implements and funds essential arts and exercise programs specifically tailored to address the needs of people living with PD in Halton-Peel. The foundation aligns with community partners and certified instructors, and delivers free arts and exercise programs that help manage the physical, cognitive and social conditions associated with PD.

For more information about the foundation and its programs and events, visit, or connect on Facebook: or Instagram:



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Weather: a low pressure system will bring widespread precipitation across southern Ontario this week.

By Staff

April 1st, 2024



Conservation Halton advises that Environment Canada is forecasting that a low pressure system will bring widespread precipitation across southern Ontario this week. Currently, local forecasts indicate that 25-50 mm of rain is possible on Tuesday and continue through Wednesday. As temperatures cool towards Thursday, the rain may change to wet snow. The anticipated rainfall combined with increased runoff from wet soil conditions will result in elevated water levels in rivers and streams within our jurisdiction. In addition, although the current Lake Ontario water level is below the established flood threshold, strong easterly winds with gusts up to 70 km/h may produce wave up to 2 m along shoreline areas.

Take the umbrella

Widespread flooding is not anticipated, however, fast flowing water and flooding of low-lying areas, natural floodplains, and areas with poor drainage may be expected.

Creek capacity gets breached when rainfall is heavier tan normal.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to keep a safe distance from all watercourses, Lake Ontario shoreline areas, and structures such as bridges, culverts, breakwalls, and dams. Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and cold water temperatures combined with slippery conditions along stream banks and the potential for waves to overtop breakwalls continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

 Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream, lake, and weather conditions and will issue an update to this Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook & Lake Ontario Shoreline message as conditions warrant.

 This Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook & Lake Ontario Shoreline will be in effect through Friday April 5, 2024.


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Personalized online waste collection calendar - all they need is your address

By Staff

April 1st, 2024



Wednesday is garbage but Monday was a holiday – does that change my schedule?

It can get confusing at times.

The Regional government has a personalized online waste collection calendar that has everything you need to manage your household waste.

All they need is your address and they will send you a printed calendar or put you on a list that tell you by email what you can put out – and when.

Get connected click HERE

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Mayor uses forked tongue to explain what she doesn't want to talk about - and them dumps on the messengers because they open the kimona

By Pepper Parr

April 1st, 2024



Well then – who did fire two of the top level city hall staff?

There are only two people who can fire a city employee:  The City Manager and the Mayor IF shes uses her Strong Mayor Powers.

IF the Mayor fires a staff member using her Strong Mayor powers she is required to post a notice on the city web site saying what she did and why she did it.

Now here is where it gets tricky.

Mayors says: “misinformation, speculation, rumour and fear mongering out in the community.”

The Mayor appears to have taken the position that she cannot write about the people who were fired because that would identify who they are and the rules the Mayor uses is that Burlington doesn’t name people publicly when there is a human resources matter.

The Mayor probably did not do the actual hiring herself: she would have directed the Executive Director of Human Resources to do the dirty – and, because that Executive is in place as an “interim” Executive Director, there was no way she was going to tell the Mayor it was not a task she was prepared to carry out.

We know the City Manager didn’t do the firing.  He told us via a message from the City’s Communications department on March 22nd.

City Manager Tim Commisso: not what he thought was going to happen when the Mayor chose him as City Manager after firing former City Manager James Ridge.

Here is what we were sent:

“Responding on behalf of Tim Commisso, City Manager – Further to your requests to Council members and Corporate Communications, I can confirm Brynn Nheiley and Sheila Jones are no longer working for the City.

“As you know, it’s our policy not to comment on personnel matters, but I would like to note that the City is grateful to Brynn and Sheila for their many important contributions over the years and we wish them the very best in their future endeavours.”

Mayor Meed Ward is telling anyone who will listen that there is “misinformation, speculation, rumour and fear mongering out in the community.”

The misinformation is coming out of the mouth of the Mayor; speculation and rumour are the result of the elected leadership failing to be accountable and transparent.

The fear that has infected city hall is the result of a Mayor that hides behind procedures.  Can you imagine the conversations that took place around the dinner tables of every single city employee during the Easter holiday?   How many have decided that it is perhaps time to move on and fined a greener pasture?

There are those that know the full story – but they aren’t ready to speak – they do not want to incur the wrath of a Mayor who has let the power she has to go to her head.

Power does reveal – doesn’t it?

Now to find out more of the why.

Related News story

At best Mayor’s response

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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Poetry declares who we are, how we feel and what we think - immerse yourself in the power of words

By Staff

April 1st, 2024



The Burlington library declares that sung or slammed, written or recited, poetry declares who we are, how we feel, and what we think, dream, and aspire to be.

They are inviting you to immerse yourself in the power of words at the 3rd annual Burlington Lyrics & Poetry Festival!

National Poetry Month salutes poems and poets, songs and songwriters with an exciting schedule of performances, workshops, and activities for all ages.

Register HERE for the event.  Some events are already filled.

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That Petition: not much support for the Motion supported by a majority of Council members

By Pepper Parr

April 1st, 2024



The petition asking the Mayor to give up her Strong Mayor powers has yet to pick up any momentum.

These things take time – however time is the one thing the people behind the petition don’t have.

As of 10:00 am today there were just 127 signatures on the petition.

As of this morning there were just 127 signatures on the petition.

The objective is to have 1000 signatures by April 16th; the date by which the Mayor is committed to give her decision to Council.

For those who wish to sign the petition – the link is HERE

If the petition doesn’t get the response many had hoped for – bet the farm on the Mayor declaring that the general public doesn’t want what the four members of Council want whixh is getting the Mayor to relinquish the Strong Mayor powers she has.

In the meantime the Mayor is working every social media platform she has saying:

“I welcome any conversation about democracy, governance and how council can continue to work together in a collaborative and consultative way. I welcome Council to make any requests of me they feel are important, and support Council in making this request.

“That is why I voted in favour of the motion that was approved unanimously by Council today. I will take the time to give it the thoughtful consideration it deserves. Council has requested I respond by the April 16 Council meeting, which I will do. “

“It is truly unfortunate there has been misinformation, speculation, rumour and fear mongering out in the community. I will do my best to focus on the facts — what has changed and what hasn’t.”

There was a bit of an uptick over the holiday weekend.

With 15 days left the petition people need to add just shy of 60 new signatures each day.

It is certainly do-able – but it will be a challenge.

Mayor Meed Ward is not going to feel challenged with 1000 signatures; 5000 signatures and she might rethink the position she has taken.

The disturbing part at this point is what the four councillors who brought on the Motion asking the Mayor to relinquish some of the Strong Mayor powers have done since they actually managed to bring the Mayor to heel.

Not a word that we could find from any of them on social media.

The Mayor is out there arguing her case with the public.  The Council members are going to have to reach out to their constituents and make their case to them.

They clearly felt there was an issue (and there is) but they don’t seem prepared to fight publicly for what they want.

They won two rounds at Council.  The Mayor did everything she could to keep the item off the agenda.  She lost that fight.

Mayor Meed Ward did everything she could to avoid the Motion brought by members of City Council. At this point there are four members (a majority) that want the Mayor to relinquish the Strong Mayor powers she has.

Then when ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna moved that there by a Special meeting of Council; the Mayor who was opposed lost that vote as well.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte, usually a mild mannered pussy cat – kept pushing the Mayor until she finally agreed that she would let Council know what she was prepared to do (if anything) on April 16th.

Council members pressed the Mayor for a sense as to what she wanted to do.  She bobbed and weaved doing everything she could until Councillor Shawna Stolte got her into a corner where she committed to giving Council an answer to their request that she relinquish her Strong Mayor Powers on April 16th.

That bought the Mayor some time during which she would do everything to convince the public that there was no need to give up the Strong Mayor powers.

The Motion that was moved had just three councillors behind it.  For procedural bylaw reasons there could only be three names on the document.  Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns made it very clear that she was in complete agreement with what her colleagues had done which was:

The citizens of the City of Burlington respectfully request Her Worship, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, comply with the requests contained in Motion memo Improving Local Democracy by Strengthening City Decision-Making (ADM-05-24); specifically,

That the Mayor 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 the Mayor delegate to the City Manager the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under 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; and

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

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

Councillor Stolte

Councillor Nisan

Councillor Galbraith

All the four Councillors have to do is bring in 15 signatures each of the 15 days between now and the 16th and the 1000 signature target will have been met.

The three members of Council are going to have to screw up their courage and be both bold and innovative in how they put some muscle behind the request they made of the Mayor.

Related news story:

Councillors have to deal with an insolent Mayor

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Councillor Sharman: Appears to have forgotten what his job is -

By Pepper Parr

March 30th, 2024



The following is from the April newsletter sent out by the ward Councillor just yesterday.

With a majority of the City Councillors in open revolt – challenging the Mayor on her use of the Strong Mayor powers that were declared by the Premier of the province on July 1st of last years Councillor Sharman starts his newsletter with:

With the changing of the seasons comes a renewed sense of energy and possibility. Happy Easter and Ramadan Mubarak to all of those celebrating.

As we step into April, we prepare to celebrate Earth Day- a time to reflect on our impact on the planet and take meaningful steps toward a greener future. Let us unite in preserving our environment for generations to come, through sustainable practices and conscious living.

April also marks Daffodil Month, a time to honour and support those affected by cancer. Like the resilient daffodil, we stand in solidarity with those facing this challenge, offering hope, strength and unwavering support to our community members.

In the spirit of growth and vitality, we are thrilled to welcome 3 new restaurants to our Ward 5 community. Each establishment brings its own unique flavours, offering our community more exciting dining options to explore and enjoy. Congratulations, Mighty Bird, Poke Works and Bombay Frankies.

The good news is that the Skyway Community Centre is on target – not under budget – the federal government took a pass on providing the badly needed financial support

We are making progress with the new Skway Arena and Community Centre as we look forward to opening it to the public later this year. Also, work on renovating the former Robert Bateman High school, which is now to be called the Robert Bateman Community Centre.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly by email at or leave a message at 905-335-7600 ext. 7591. Should you wish to meet in person, please email to schedule an appointment.

For city service requests such as tree pruning, road safety, street maintenance, etc., please email for immediate attention.


You ain’t seen nothing yet

Is there a problem here that needs my serious attention.

Below, you will find some key information and we warmly encourage you to reach out, ask questions, and connect with us. As always, if you see me out and about, please say hi!

Should you bump into Councillor ask him what he is smoking?

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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