A ruptured City Council: majority of the seven member council no longer trust their mayor

By Pepper Parr

April 25th, 2024



Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns led the comments made during a Council meeting during which it became glaringly clear that the city’s seven member council was seriously split.

The rupture was not about the widening of a road or a change to a parks and recreation program; it had to do with the way city council would be run.

The Strong Mayor powers that were brought into being last July gave Mayors the power to hire and fire a City Manager and city staff as well. It required the Mayor to present a budget to Council.

Mayor Meed Ward chatting with the Premier during a tour of the Joseph Brant Hospital before Strong Mayor powers were issued. Sometime after the photograph was taken the Premier had a less jovial conversation with the Mayor over the poor progress the city had with the construction of new housing.

A Mayor can delegate the decisions back to Council, which Mayor Marianne Meed Ward did.  What she did not do was delegate the hiring and firing of the City Manager back to Council.  She kept that power in her own hands.

There is considerable debate in just how these powers should be used.  One of the more important powers is the setting of a budget; that is a power that is in the hands of the Mayor.  The budget has always been produced by the City Finance department and presented to Council where it can be revised.

Most people don’t pay much attention to the creation and passing of a budget.  It is a  complex and a tireless process – but a necessary one.  That budget determines what the tax rate will be.  Property taxes come right out of your pocket.

Taxes have been increasing recently.  More concerning is understanding just what the tax increase is.  The current council, in the minds of many, is less than transparent when it comes to explaining just what the taxes amount to.  The word “impact has crept into the language used to explain a  tax increase by which they mean the impact the tax rate is going to have – rather than setting out exactly what the tax rate is going to be.

That complexity will be covered in a report that is currently being researched.

Our objective today is to let readers hear what Council members had to say about the decision the Mayor made about how she was going to exercise the power she now has.

A City council sets policy that determines what staff has to implement.

City staff are directed by the City Manager.

The concern of a majority of Burlington’s City Council is – who controls the City Manager.  The rupture is related to the lack of trust between the Mayor and a majority of the seven member council.

The video that follows is long.  Each member of Council sets out their concern and the Mayor response.  It is not pretty and it doesn’t look as if it is going to get any better.

Burlington now has a new City Manager.  Hassaan Basit, was the CAO of Conservation where he did a very good job.  In a recently published book he set out how he thinks a City Manager, new to the job, should work with Staff in the first 100 days.

It is going to be an interesting 100 days.  Summer in the city is not going to be cool.


The 28 minute video begins with a comment from the City Clerk on what is appropriate, in her opinion, on what can be said.

It closes with the Mayor’s view.

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City Manager explains in book how newbies to the job should behave - sit tight for the first hundred days

By Staff

April 24th, 2024


We want to point out to readers that the content of this article was lifted from Joey Coleman’s x item.  Coleman appears to be upset, saying we “ripped” the content from his x article.  Coleman took the words from Hassaan Basit’s book which wasn’t something Coleman wrote.  Coleman gets credit for covering Hamilton like a blanket.  Does an ego have to get in the way of his solid work?

Hassaan Basit, Burlington’s newly minted City Manager wrote a chapter in The Role of Canadian City Managers, edited by Michael Fenn, a former Burlington City Manager.

City Manager Hassaan Basit one 20 authors writing about serving as a City Manager.

Basit and co-author Patrick Moyle, who was an interim Burlington City Manager, write that the first 100 days are when a new city manager reveals their plans, personality, and management style, all of which will answer questions about how they will lead as the city’s top public employee.

“It will be a time when first impressions take on considerable importance as council and staff assess what they really have in their new leader.”

The new city manager must “present the most positive impression possible based on a thoughtful plan” during this time.

Don’t Make Sudden Moves During the First 100 Days – Wait a Few Months

Basit and Moyle write new city managers should not implement significant reorganizations of municipal administration.

“The biggest mistake and the most sudden move that some new [city managers] make is to implement the dreaded reorganization without taking the time to understand relationships and dependencies within and across departments.”

City Manager Hassaan Basit starting his networking attends an event with City Councillors and Minister of Municipal Affairs. Basit is second from the right.

“To be clear, changes to structure and the people within that structure might need to occur, but you must do this correctly and prudently. The first three to six months is simply not sufficient time to understand the culture,”

They cite other books that show the “gunslinger” approach to change management does not work in municipal government.

Successful city managers know “how to manage change successfully by understanding and respecting the local culture and by thinking rationally and deliberately. They were not prone to making sudden moves.”

Build Networks and Relationships

“The first 100 days should involve the building of three networks, two external and one internal to the organization.”

They state new city managers should seek out more experienced city managers in other municipalities for advice, they should create relationships with “community leaders, such as successful business people in the community, academics, and leaders from the not-for-profit sector, including organized community groups.”

New managers should be in the community, meet with major employers, and avoid becoming trapped inside a City Hall bubble.

They need to meet front-line municipal staff.

“It is imperative that, during the first 100 days, you, as the new CAO, get out of your corner office and meet the employees who deliver the services. The interface between the taxpayer and the municipality is not the CAO, but the civic employee who collects the taxes at the counter, issues the building permit, works in the local arena, ploughs and maintains the roads, drives the transit bus, and so on.”

Be Visible

There is much mystery, uncertainty, and drama during the first 100 days, said Basit. Don’t expect to see him in his office.

“There is much mystery, uncertainty, and drama during the first 100 days, so be visible. If you remain bunkered down in your office or get pulled into the vortex of meetings and processes, the potential for angst and uncertainty increases proportionally to the time spent in your well appointed office. If you are invisible, your persona and personal brand might be developed and defined by others.”

They suggest new managers visit outside facilities “especially those that have been identified in the capital budget forecast” to learn about municipal operations and hear from front-line staff. This will improve decision making.

Find Quick Wins

“There will be an expectation that the new leader will bring positive change and strive to improve the organization. Early wins, therefore, will help solidify your reputation, confirm that council made the right choice, and demonstrate to staff how you go about making decisions.”

Evaluate Existing Senior Leadership

In keeping with their opening advice to not make significant changes during the first six months as city manager, Basit and Moyle describe the first 100 days as “an opportunity to assess the senior leaders” both formally and informally.

New city managers need to determine the state of municipal leadership – is it functioning well or dysfunctional?

By the end of the first 100 days, a city manager “should be able to form a picture of the strengths and weaknesses” of senior leadership.


Basit and Moyle close their chapter with this paragraph:

“The first several months will set the stage for the balance of time you work for the community. A successful first impression can lead to a lasting and positive effect if you have an entry plan, together with the energy and commitment to lead your staff and be of service to council and the community.”

It will be interesting to see how closely Basit follows his own script.


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Summer swimming lessons, aquatic leadership and adult 19+ and 55+ programs will be opening for registration on May 4.

By Staff

April 24th, 2024



The City’s summer swimming lessons, aquatic leadership and adult 19+ and 55+ programs will be opening for registration on May 4. The programs can be found online now.

View registration information at burlington.ca/registration.

Registration dates and program highlights


Date Time Program
Saturday, May 4 9 a.m.
  • Summer Adult 19+ and 55+ programs
  • Variety of arts, sports, games, fitness, creative activities, music programs, social events, discussion and learning programs


Saturday, May 4 11 a.m.
  • Swimming lessons for all ages and skill levels are available in group and private lesson formats
  • Aquatic leadership courses
  • Log in and register at liveandplay.burlington.ca

Non-resident registration opens May 10 for swimming lessons and aquatic leadership programs, and adult programs.

Summer youth programs and camps registration opened in the spring. Space is still available in some programs. Music lesson registration is open all year round.

Assisted registration

Residents who need extra support or do not have online access to register for programs can call 905-335-7738 for staff-assisted telephone registrations May 4 at 9 a.m. The Recreation customer service team is also available through email at liveandplay@burlington.ca. Phone and email support is available Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In-person registration is available starting Monday following the launch at Tansley Woods Community Centre, Burlington Seniors’ Centre, Haber Community Centre and other recreation customer service counters open during program times. For more information on hours and locations visit burlington.ca/servicehours.

For more information on how to set up an account or register online, visit burlington.ca/registration.

How to Register – online class

For those looking for assistance before registration day, we have created a free session where you bring your electronic devices and have a staff member help you navigate the registration process, so you are all ready on May 4 to do it on your own. Two sessions are available at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre: April 30, 2:30 to 4 p.m. and May 2, 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Residents can register by calling 905-335-7738. For those with family or friends assisting, registration is also available online at burlington.ca/registration.

Recreation fee assistance

Recreation is for all, regardless of financial situation. Recreation Fee Assistance is funding made available to resident individuals or families who need help to pay for City of Burlington recreation programs. For more information or to apply, visit burlington.ca/feeassistance.

Burlington is a City where people, nature and business thrive. Sign up to learn more about Burlington at burlington.ca/subscribe and follow @CityBurlington on social media.


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Ontario Raising Highway Speed Limits - 00-series highways will see posted speeds of 110km/h

By Staff

April 24th, 2024



The Ontario government is raising the speed limit permanently from 100 km/h to 110 km/h on 10 additional sections of provincial highways in northern and southern Ontario.

“The change builds on the safe and successful increase to six sections of provincial highways in 2022 and aligns with posted speed limits in other jurisdictions across Canada.

Does 110 Km per hour mean that 120 km per hour will become the norm?

“Most of Ontario’s highways were originally designed to safely accommodate speed limits of 110 km/h and the data from our changes in 2022 shows they do just that,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation.

“These evidence-based increases are a common-sense change to make life more convenient for Ontario drivers while bringing our highway speed limits in line with other Canadian provinces.”

“Starting July 12, 2024, the speed limit will be permanently raised to 110 km/h on most of the following provincial highway sections, with the remainder coming into force before the end of the year:

      • Hwy 401, Tilbury, extending the existing 110 km/h zone further east by 7 km
      • Hwy 401 from Hwy 35/115 to Cobourg (approximately 35 km)
      • Hwy 401 from Colborne to Belleville (approximately 44 km)
      • Hwy 401 from Belleville to Kingston (approximately 66 km)
      • Hwy 401 from Hwy 16 to Quebec boundary (approximately 107 km)
      • Hwy 403 from Woodstock to Brantford (approximately 26 km)
      • Hwy 403 from Brantford to Hamilton (approximately 14.5 km)
      • Hwy 406 from Thorold to Welland (approximately 13 km)
      • Hwy 416 from Hwy 401 to Ottawa (approximately 70 km)
      • Hwy 69 from Sudbury to French River (approximately 60 km)

“All highway sections were selected based on their ability to safely accommodate higher speed limits. Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have a maximum speed limit of 110 km/h, while in British Columbia, the maximum speed limit is 120 km/h.”

We want to find out how many traffic deaths there were on  400 highways in 2023 and then report on what that number is a year after this increase in speed was made legal.



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Metrolinx One Fare program had more than five million transfers since February 26 launch

By Staff

April 24th, 2024



Metrolinx reports that as of April 19, 2024, transit customers have made over five million transfers between the TTC and participating transit systems through Ontario’s One Fare Program.

“Through the One Fare Program, riders only pay once when travelling between TTC and GO Transit, Brampton Transit, Durham Region Transit, MiWay and York Region Transit. First launched to customers on February 26, 2024, the program is reducing the cost of using public transit, with potential savings of up to $1,600 annually for an adult commuting five days a week.

“This milestone is a testament to the program’s success in making transfers between local transit systems more affordable and accessible for commuters across the region.  Commuters can also leverage various payment options to pay for their fare, including PRESTO cards, credit/debit cards, or PRESTO in Google Wallet, to take advantage of savings through the One Fare Program.

“Whether travelling from Brampton, Oshawa or anywhere in between, Ontario’s One Fare Program makes it more affordable and easier to choose transit first. You can learn more about Ontario’s One Fare Program and the 5 million transfers milestone HERE.”

It works!

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Another complaint to the Integrity Commissioner - wolves circling easy prey.

By Pepper Parr

April 23rd, 2024



The wolves are circling what they think is going to be easy prey.

The Grimsby Town Council recently voted to accept a report from their Integrity Commissioner (vote was 5-2) to suspend the councillor’s pay for 15 days for contravening the council’s Code of Conduct.

Ann Marsden see this as an interesting Integrity Commissioner report that is relevant to a complaint that could be put forward by at least three Burlington Councillors and multiple members of the public.

Lynn Crosby being interviewed by Cogeco

Marsden quotes Lynn Crosby who said:  the sole purpose of the petition put forward by Councillors Kearns, Nisan and Galbraith was to have the Mayor comply with the wishes of a majority of her Council and identified members of the community.

Ironic that the petition needed a 2/3 (which is 5 of the 7 members of Council) to get on the council agenda when a simple majority of council were asking the Mayor for something she was able to give but simply preferred not to.

On April 16 the Mayor made many on the record statements that did

Mayor Meed Ward did not make a declaration regarding a conflict of interest and failed to pass the Gavel thereby playing a two person role: accused and judge.

Marsden found it interesting that an Integrity Commissioner can recommend removal of a Council member as Chair of a meeting.  Given that Mayor Meed Ward set herself up as the Chair of all the Committee of the Whole meetings – which are currently the only meetings Council hold –other than the formal Council meeting at which bylaws are passed.

Ann Marsden delegating at City Council

The Marsden’s said they would have their complaint drafted by May Day which is the day that commemorates the struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement.

For those interested in the Grimsby Integrity Commissioner’s report the link is HERE. click on the April 15 council meeting for the agenda and documents).

This is getting to be a bit of a sticky wicket.


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$195,000 Resilience grant from Trillium Foundation Grant to be used to rebuild a robust volunteer program

By Staff

April 23rd, 2024



Resilience, the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events.

That became possible for hundreds of people who are served by Food for Life when a $195,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) was announced.  The Foundation is where lottery ticket proceeds go.

The grant supported Food for Life’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 by adapting and rebuilding a robust volunteer program to increase volunteer leadership and enhance capacity to support thousands of households each week.

From the left: Regional Chair Gary Carr, Food for Life Erin Vandenberg (Manager – Volunteer Services), Food for Life Executive Director Karen Randell, Natalie Pierre, MPP for Burlington and Jermaine Chambers (Ontario Trillium Foundation Representative).

Karen Randell, Executive Director of Food for Life, thanked the volunteers, stating, “April 15-19 is National Volunteer Week, and Food for Life celebrates fostering an environment where individuals come together to make a difference in the lives of those in need.  We could not serve over 4000 families with fresh, nutritious food without our volunteer team’s hard work and compassion. Their dedication and commitment are the driving force in our mission to combat food insecurity.”

Erin Vandenberg, Volunteer Manager at Food for Life, highlighted the organization’s progress, noting, “With funding from the OTF, we are continuing to develop our volunteer leadership program to enhance further and improve the Food for Life volunteer experience as well as provide an opportunity for additional and varied volunteer experiences and growth within our organization.”

Food for Life is a dynamic food rescue agency that addresses food insecurity in Halton and Hamilton. By partnering with local businesses and communities, Food for Life rescues surplus food and redistributes it to households in need, making a tangible difference in the lives of thousands.

“Non-profit organizations across Ontario deliver programming that makes a difference,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “That’s why funding that my ministry is providing through the OTF is so important. Our government wants to ensure that these programs and spaces remain the heart of communities across our province.”

Resilient Communities Fund and the tireless dedication of volunteers, Food for Life continues to make a positive impact combating food insecurity right here in our community.”

The grant supported Food for Life’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 by adapting and rebuilding a robust volunteer program to increase volunteer leadership and enhance capacity to support thousands of households each week.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Ontario government with a mission to build healthy and vibrant communities across the province. Last year, OTF invested more than $110M into 1,044 community projects and multi-sector partnerships. Projects aim to enhance economic well-being, foster more active lifestyles, support child and youth development, provide spaces for people to come together and connect, and create a more sustainable environment. Visit otf.ca to learn more.

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Mountain Bike Racing resumes at Kelso May 14th; plate pickup on the 7th

By Staff

April 23, 2024



Mountain bike racing at night!

What an adventure.

The terrain for senior riders is always challenging.

Conservation Halton has announced that Mountain Bike racing will take place on Tuesdays at the Kelso Conservation Area starting in May

Outdoor adventure seekers and mountain bike enthusiasts can now register for the popular Tuesday night Mountain Bike (MTB) Race Series.

For the past 16 years, the race series has attracted over 300 seasoned mountain bikers and budding athletes each week for an unforgettable experience on Kelso’s trails.

“We’re looking forward to having our local riding community back for another action-packed Mountain Bike Race Series,” said Craig Machan, Director, Parks & Operations at Conservation Halton.

“It’s a great opportunity for individuals and families to get active outdoors and build new relationships with fellow riders. Over the years, we’ve seen more young riders signing up for the series, and we hope to keep growing this community at Kelso and attracting more people to the sport.”

Racing in style with perfect control – a sports art form.

The MTB Race Series includes twelve races and four heats. Races start on May 14, 2024, and run every Tuesday night until the finale event on August 27, 2024. This year offers a new flexible schedule to accommodate races that are cancelled due to the weather. To suit different skill levels, the races are divided into the following categories:

Kids Race: Children as young as four-years-old can join the races in a closed circuit, completing as many laps as possible within twenty minutes

Beginner: In a longer closed circuit, riders will complete as many laps as possible in thirty minutes

Novice: Riders will complete one lap of a 6 to 8 km course

Intermediate: Riders in this new category will complete two laps of a 12 to 16 km course

Sport: Riders will complete two laps of a 12 to 18 km course

Expert: Advanced riders will complete three laps of the full course that is approximately 18 to 25 km

To kick off the MTB Race Series, Conservation Halton will be hosting an Open House and plate pick-up at Kelso on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Racers completing one of the courses at Kelso

Riders will get an opportunity to explore the course, avoid line-ups for plate pick-up on the first day of races, and ask Kelso’s MTB team questions about the race series.

More detail and registration HERE.






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We are not the first people to describe this Council as dysfunctional

By Pepper Parr

April 23, 2024



This is what dysfunction looks like.

Can you identify the members of Council who are opposed to what the Mayor has chosen to do with her Strong Mayor powers?


Councillor Kearns is speaking. Councillor Galbraith really doesn’t want to be there. Councillor Nisan want to hide.


Councillor Stolte is saying that she agrees with Kearns completely. Councillor Sharman lets his face do his talking while Councillor Bentivegna wonders just how long this is going to last.

Later this week, hopefully we will edit the web cast and let you hear what the two woman had to say and how uncomfortable Galbraith was. It runs less than two minutes.

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Mayor and every member of Council will be at the Bfast Transit Forum

By Staff

April 22nd, 2024



The Transit Users Forum will take place this year Burlington Public Library’s Central Branch on May 4 at 1pm in the Centennial Hall

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will open this year’s Forum.  This is the first time we recall the Mayor opening the event.  She has always attended and has been the City’s cheerleader for better transit service.  If she had her way she would make the service free for everyone all the time.

Bfast events are usually very well attended.

BFAST Chair Doug Brown said: “Marianne Meed Ward has been a champion of better transit since she was a city councillor and has attended nearly all of our Forums in the past.

“Under her leadership, and with the strong support of Council, Burlington’s transit system was rescued from near death and is now poised for record growth.

Then Councillor Meed Ward can be seen centre at the rear talking to transit users while MP Karina Gould listens intently to a group of senior woman.

“We are equally pleased that every city and regional councillor has stated their intention to attend. People who come to the Forum can be assured their voices will be heard.”

Having every Council member in the room is a first.

The event is organized by Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST), a non-profit citizens’ organization.








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Cherry Blossoms and whimsical art

By Alan Harrington

April 22nd, 2024



Undoubtedly, the “place-to-be” during late-April in Burlington is down among the Sakura Trees at Spencer Smith Park.

And yesterday was no different when many visitors came down to stroll the path under the blossoms – taking selfies with their babies and other loved ones.

The Sakura Trees are a group of cherry trees gifted to Burlington from Twin City Itabashi Japan.

They burst into bloom in late April and their soft pink cherry blossoms form an arch over the stone pathway allowing locals to practice “hanami” – the Japanese centuries old tradition of flower viewing.

Walking through the path is a wonderful feeling enhanced by the delicate scent of the blooms.

Visitors need to get there soon however, because once those April winds pick up – the delicate petals fall and get blown away.

Another “feast for the eyes” are the various whimsical art sculptures located around the park presented by Dan Laurie.

It seems that the project is just getting set up and the artworks do not yet display titles nor artist names.

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Council gives Mayor a tough ride when she asks for an endorsement of her Speaker series

By Pepper Parr

April 22nd,  2024



April has not been very kind to Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

She was seriously challenged by a majority of Council for taking on the Strong Mayor Powers which she said she was required to do.  There are a number of people who don’t agree with the position she has taken which resulted in three Council members supporting a motion that asked the Mayor to return to Council the powers that she was given by the province. A link to what Mayor Meed Ward has done so far is HERE.

Mayor Meed Ward had announced a speaker series she was going to host and asked Council to endorse the idea.  Council gave her a rough ride – wanting to know how the event was going to be paid for. It got a little nasty revealing how dysfunctional this Council has become.

Council wanted more detail on who was going to do all the work needed and where the money to pay for the event was going to come from

Mayor Meed Ward calling her speaker series:  “A Better Burlington: Innovation to Action” is to consist of two sessions each year “focused on the key challenges we face and fostering tangible ways to improve Burlington and engage residents in the process.

Jennifer Keesmatt is a former City of Toronto Chief Planner. She will be the first of the Speakers in the series the Mayor has planned. No one wanted to talk about how much this was going to cost.

“Each Speaker’s Series will have a clear theme with a relevant speaker. The first session will be on Monday, May 27 at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and will feature Jennifer Keesmaat, who will present on housing, community development and growth.”

Keesmatt is a former City of Toronto Chief Planner.

“Deputy Mayors will be invited to be participants in these series, where relevant to their portfolios. Councillor Shawna Stolte, in her capacity as Deputy Mayor of Housing, is part of the planning team for the inaugural event on housing. The team includes staff from relevant departments, including events, finance and communications.

“The Speaker’s Series will be free. This is to encourage as much participation and engagement from Burlington residents and city staff as possible. Costs associated with the series will be secured through corporate sponsorships and the Mayor’s Office budget.

Meed Ward added that on the recommendation of the Integrity Commissioner, sponsorship shall be secured through the City following its standard process, and will be separate from the Mayor’s Office to avoid perceived or potential conflicts of interests.

In keeping with the Council Code of Good Governance, sponsorship will not be accepted from anyone with an active application before the City.

The Integrity Commissioner also advised Meed Ward to seek Council’s endorsement of the Speakers Series.

All the Mayor wanted was an endorsement for a speaker series she wanted to host. Several members of this council were not about give it a rubber stamp endorsement.

Here is how Council reacted to the request for an endorsement.

Councillor Rory Nisan, Chair of the meeting asked the Mayor to speak about the Speaker series: he got much more than he expected.

Chair Nisan asked Mayor Meed Ward if she would like to move the item and begin the comments.

Mayor: Certainly I’ll move it and give you more detail.

“I always like to borrow I ideas where I see them and I think back to two terms ago, Mayor Goldring brought forward the Inspire series and this has really patterned after that it brought people together. It provided an opportunity for community engagement. It focused on key areas that the community was interested in and is free to the community and at the time.

“That was helped along by being free.”

Meed Ward added that this is “ a new area certainly for me. Not always new for the city. And so in order to just make sure that this was done in an appropriate way of course I can tell that our council code of good governance does have guidance around all of this in terms of seeking sponsors. So obviously no direct funding that is handled by any individual member of council and really the big caveat and condition is don’t seek a sponsor from someone that has active business in front of the Council for decision making.

“As an added level of extra due diligence, I suppose abundance of caution, I reached out to the Integrity Commissioner for conversation. I do that occasionally just to bounce ideas around and make sure that I’m on the right side of things.  The Integrity Commissioner did suggest that there might be an opportunity to invite counsel to endorse this. I’m not asking you to plan or fund it, but certainly to endorse the concept.

“This is an opportunity to for counsel to again endorse the concept of the series. So I will leave it at that.”

All the Mayor wanted was an endorsement for a speaker series she planned to host. Councillor wasn’t going to make this an easy ride for her.

Part of the Mayor’s thinking is to hold a “trade show or a town hall component of the speaker series that would invite groups relevant to the matter at hand to come and talk to the community. So for example, habitat would be invited to introduce themselves to the community; that will be in advance of the speaker series. But free to the public and open to all and I’ll stop there and turn it over to my co-sponsor.”

Councillor Stolte:”I certainly endorse the speaker series, and especially given the fact that the first one is on the subject of housing, which just happened to be quite a nice coincidence because the mayor and I had sat down on about a month ago and had a conversation about my  hope of trying  to put together a city wide information session on the state of housing in Burlington and lo and behold, the mayor had been thinking already along the same lines as far as that being the first topic for Speaker Series.

“I think the mayor’s draw as far as it being from the mayor’s budget and the mayor’s office and biggest city wide draw certainly has the potential to be a more fulsome information session than what I could have put on from my end. So I’m glad to be able to partner on this. I look forward to future sessions that will certainly be directed towards other very important parts of our strategic plan. And I hope that this receives support from committee.”

Sometime later, weeks not days, Stolte said she was withdrawing her endorsement saying:

Councillor Stolte: “After deep consideration, I have concluded that Mayor Meed Ward and I have fundamental differences in how we choose to communicate critical information with the public and I have decided to resign my participation in the Mayor’s Speakers Series”

“Originally, in my role as Deputy Mayor of Housing for the City of Burlington, I had begun the planning process for a 2024 City Wide Housing Symposium as well as a “ward by ward” series of Housing Information Meetings with a focus of addressing the housing supply and affordability crisis in Burlington.

“The Mayor then decided to choose this model and subject as the first of her Mayors Speakers Series in May, so I agreed to join in the planning process in an effort to collaborate on the event.

“After deep consideration, I have concluded that Mayor Meed Ward and I have fundamental differences in how we choose to communicate critical information with the public and I have decided to resign my participation in the Mayor’s Speakers Series and resume my focus, time and efforts on planning for these smaller, interactive “ward by ward” resident meetings across the City.

“In an effort to connect with and ensure all Burlington residents’ concerns can be heard, I encourage the residents of Burlington to stay up to date on their Ward Councillor monthly newsletters for the dates and times of these upcoming Housing Information Meetings.”

Councillor Kearns wasn’t prepared to endorse the idea – she wanted more information saying:  “I did take an opportunity to look into some of our existing policies and while the concept is definitely noble, I want to make sure that we’re aligned with our policies. So one of the things that I’ve still yet to be able to acquire in order to do some effective decision making is the actual budget for the event.

Councillor Kearns. “I wanted to understand a little bit better around staff time.”

“I’m not sure what we are looking for in terms of sponsorships and where that may or may not impede our ability to secure sponsorships for priorities that have already been endorsed.”

Staff time was also a concern for Kearns. “I wanted to understand a little bit better around staff time. I’ve further looked into some of the policy pieces which I may have continued questions on while all these costs come into clarity.

“I would like to put a motion to refer it to council and perhaps we can have the budget the cost of one of the speaker series by that time, so my motion would be to refer to counsel for information on budget and staff time.”

The motion to defer was put up on the screen so everyone could see it.  It went through numerous revisions.  Finally, they settled on

Chair Nisan: Okay, referrals been put on the floor. Does anyone want to jump in?

Councillor Bentivegna began with: “Just a quick question on staff budget time.  I make the assumption from what I sort of anticipate; is this Mayor’s staff budget and the Mayors staff time? Is that what I’m reading or not? I think that was the question.”

Mayor Meed Ward: “I can speak to both if you like by way of responding to my comments on the referral.   The request did come through to my office about the budget; the Counsellor is aware of the answer to this. We are bound by contractual agreements not to release information about the budget for this particular speaker series. So we won’t be doing that.

“Council members have a $5,000 budget for events. We have our other discretionary budget and Council member that is reported out annually. So that’s where people will see the aggregated amount of spend for any for any individual member of council.

“It will vary depending on the budget,with respect to impacts on other priorities for sponsorship that is exactly why we talk to staff in advance before we seek a sponsor and to make sure we are not also soliciting that same sponsor. Finally, with respect to non staff time. Staff do provide a certain amount of support to council members whether it’s preparing design work for flyers or newsletters or other items.

“We all have a council appointed communications person. We are a service of the city and have the ability to submit work requests for those things. So there’s not anything over and above staff time on this that other members of council don’t also have access to in the normal course of things. So this is a non-issue and I won’t be supporting the referral.

Council Sharman: In an effort to support the Mayor, said “back in 2011or 12  Gil Penalosai put forward an idea that became the premise of what is now the Appleby Line Street Festival for which we have masses of sponsorship funds.

“This is an initiative I wholeheartedly support. If we haven’t got budget for it this year, we will take a look at it next year. We’ve got to approve it. Right now I’m entirely in support of what’s before us and I won’t be supporting a referral to Council.”

Councillor Bentivegna: “I mean, we can’t see the budget for the event that we’re all supporting.”

Counsellor Bentivegna: “I have questions related to the referral. So I’m not sure exactly what’s in any emails (there was email between the Mayor and Kearns to dig out specific information on the budge0t).

“ I’m not sure how contractual obligations. I mean, we can’t see the budget for the event that we’re all supporting; but are we able to find out what the overall budget for the event is?

Meed Ward: “I assume that’s a question for me. I’m not asking Council to approve the financing. I’m asking you to endorse the concept of the series and the financing will be handled through my office budget and the normal course of things and any sponsors that I bring in as cleared through first checking that we’re not competing with stuff and also through the Integrity Commissioner policy and process.”

Councillor Kearns: “With respect to non-staff time who’s organizing the event?  Is it the mayor’s office with staff because the staff would not normally organize an event. I just want to clarify  – are they in a support capacity

“Is that what are you expecting from staff outside of the mayor’s office – to organize and support they would normally give any other member of counsel for an event?

Bentivegna: “I didn’t want to open a hornet’s nest here. But as the mayor mentioned, we all have $5,000 – that I use completely every year. And I do have staff for certain things that they may or may not be able to help me and I do them in each my neighbourhoods. I just make the assumption that everything is done the way we normally do on a day to day business.  I have difficulty I don’t want to read into this motion so I if stuff happened then I get into it. But at this point I’m going to support the mayor’s program.”

Chair Nisan: “I will call the vote on the referral motion all those in favour. Any opposed?  Motion does not carry.”

Chair Nisan: “We will  move back to the main motion and look for any questions or comments on the main motion I do not see any.

I will now call the vote. All those in flavor, Aye.

Any opposed? That carries 6 to 1.”

That was it – the Mayor had her endorsement; expect her to make that point at every opportunity she gets.

This is your Council folks.  Live with it for now – but try and do better next time.

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Opportunity for Canadian soccer fans to attend EUFA Nations League Games in Wales and Iceland

By Staff

April 22nd, 2024



If you are a football fan (we call it soccer) the UEFA Nations League has released the teams that will be playing.

Play has scheduled flights out of Hamilton for Canadian soccer fans that want to attend UEFA Nations League games in Wales and Iceland.

Play Airlines, they fly out of Hamilton, has announced that they are laying on a series of flights that will allow people from GTA West to get to the games.

Play has announced the launch of a new flight route connecting Canadian soccer enthusiasts to the heart of the action in Cardiff, Wales, and Reykjavík, Iceland.

This new route coincides with the upcoming UEFA Nations League matches between Iceland and Wales, offering fans the opportunity to catch the matches live at Cardiff City Stadium on October 11, 2024, and at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavík on November 19, 2024.

The inaugural flight is scheduled for October 10, 2024, with the travel for this new route facilitated through Cardiff Airport in Cardiff, Wales. The final flight will depart on November 20, 2024, ensuring fans can experience both matches without missing a beat.

You can reach the airline right HERE.

League A

Group A1: Croatia, Portugal, Poland, Scotland

Group A2: Italy, Belgium, France, Israel

Group A3: Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group A4: Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Serbia

League B

Group B1: Czechia, Ukraine, Albania, Georgia

Group B2: England, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Greece

Group B3: Austria, Norway, Slovenia, Kazakhstan

Group B4: Wales, Iceland, Montenegro, Türkiye

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Earth Day: Is the planet on life support?

By Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2024



Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement that was founded in 1970. Let’s take a look at the last half-century of mobilization for action:

Reference is made to what the Americans did – they did lead the battle for change.  Canada became part of what is now an international movement years later. Last week BurlingtonGreen did a tree planting that 500 trees in Pathfinder Park.


In the decades leading up to the first Earth Day , Americans were consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive and inefficient automobiles. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the consequences from either the law or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Until this point, mainstream America remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health.

The book that brought environmental issues to the forefront.

The stage was set for change with the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries as it raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.

Is this part of the universe on life support?

Gaylord Nelson, the junior senator from Wisconsin, had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. In January 1969, he and many others witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair.

Senator Gaylord Nelson recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize the campus teach-ins and to scale the idea to a broader public, and they choose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.

The name  Earth Day, immediately sparked national media attention, and caught on across the country.  Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts.

The source of the spill was a blow-out on January 28, 1969, 6 miles (10 km) from the coast on Union Oil’s Platform A in the Dos Cuadras Offshore Oil Field. Within a ten-day period, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 barrels (3,400,000 to 4,200,000 US gal)[1] of crude oil spilled into the Channel and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County in Southern California.

Groups that had been fighting individually against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife united on Earth Day around these shared common values. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders.

By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first-of-their-kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later congress passed the Clean Water Act.  That is an exceptional collection of legislation that has made the world a better, healthier place.

The principal Earth Day event in 1980, held in Washington. D.C. across from the White House, capped a decade of substantial US environmental legislation, including the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Superfund, Toxics Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and of course the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. It had seen the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the banning of DDT and of lead in gasoline. Earth Day continued to expand internationally during the 80’s, as did international policy initiatives.

As 1990 environmental leaders once again organized another major campaign. This time, Earth Day went truly global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

As the millennium approached another campaign, this time focusing on global warming and pushing for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day had the internet to help link activists around the world. There were now 5,000 environmental groups worldwide on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries.

Nearly one billion people around the world took action for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. An estimated 20,000 partners took action on climate change and other environmental issues through climate rallies, Billion Acts of Green™; the objective was to engage civil leaders in plans to build a green economy, connected through the online action centre at EARTHDAY.ORG. Through the Global Day of Conversation, more than 200 elected officials in more than 39 countries took part in active dialogues with their constituents about their efforts to create sustainable green economies and reduce their carbon footprints.

It was no accident that the United Nations selected Earth Day to sign the most significant climate accord in the history of the climate and environmental movement: the Paris Agreement. On Earth Day 2016, world leaders from 175 nations broke a record by doing exactly that.

Earth Day 2020 was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Activations included activities such as the Great Global CleanUp, Citizen Science, Advocacy, Education, and Street Art. The year’s theme for Earth Day 2020 was “Climate Action.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the planned activities were moved online. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in the United States. In total, over 1 billion people worldwide participated in Earth Day actions, and 100 million observed the 50th anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history.

Where are we today?  The Ontario government wavers about Climate Change – and there are still deniers.

What is clear today is that we are perilously close to losing the Climate Change battle.

Make today your day to declare that you are the biggest part of saving the planet.

We are that close to losing it all.

If citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future this battle can be won.

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New Community organization created to fight tax increases

By Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2024



There can never be too many community organizations.

When the public has a voice society is well served.

We are now seeing more people attending City Council meetings and we are hearing more people delegating.

The recent tax increases and future tax increases that many fear are going to rise has resulted in a new community organization that will focus on Burlington taxpayer issues.  They expect to have a web site up shortly.  We will do what we can to keep you posted.

We do not yet have a list of the people who organized this venture.

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Author: The result can no longer be ignored - anxiety, depression, suicidality - is plaguing our youth.

By Staff

April 21st, 2024



“The Anxious Generation,” by Jonathan Haidt,  is described as “erudite, engaging and combative in a New York Times Book Review.  A must read for parents.

He writes about how we “hem and haw about the risks, failing to keep our kids safely grounded in nondigital reality. The result can no longer be ignored – anxiety, depression, suicidality – is plaguing our youth.

Haidt, a social psychologist, is a man on a mission to correct this collective failure. His first step is to convince us that youth are experiencing a “tidal wave” of suffering. In a single chapter and with a dozen carefully curated graphs, he depicts increases in mental illness and distress beginning around 2012. Young adolescent girls are hit hardest, but boys are in pain, too, as are older teens.

The timing of this is key because it coincides with the rise of what he terms phone-based childhood. From the late 2000s to the early 2010s, smartphones, bristling with social media apps and fueled by high-speed internet, became ubiquitous. Their siren call, addictive by design and perpetually distracting, quickly spirited kids to worlds beyond our control.

It wasn’t phones alone. A second phenomenon coincided with the rise of the machines: the decline of play-based childhood. This change started in the 1980s, with kidnapping fears and stranger danger driving parents toward fear-based overparenting. This decimated children’s unsupervised, self-directed playtime and restricted their freedom of movement.

With parents and children alike stuck in “Defend mode,” kids were in turn blocked from discovery mode, where they face challenges, take risks and explore — the building blocks of anti-fragility, or the ability to grow stronger through adversity. Compared to a generation ago, our children are spending more time on their phones and less on, well, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. While fewer hospital visits and teen pregnancies are obvious wins, less risk-taking overall could stunt independence.

That’s why parents, he argues, should become more like gardeners who cultivate conditions for children to independently grow and flourish, and less like carpenters, who work obsessively to control, design and shape their offspring. We’ve overprotected our kids in the real world while underprotecting them in the virtual one, leaving them too much to their own devices, literally and figuratively.

It’s this one-two punch of smartphones plus overprotective parenting, Haidt posits, that led to the great rewiring of childhood and the associated harms driving mental illness: social deprivation, sleep deprivation, attention fragmentation and addiction. He has a lot to say about each of these.

Here is where his ideas and interpretation of research become contentious. Few would disagree that unhealthy use of social media contributes to psychological problems, or that parenting plays a role. But mental illness is complex: a multidetermined synergy between risk and resilience. Clinical scientists don’t look for magic-bullet explanations. They seek to understand how, for whom and in what contexts psychological problems and resilience emerge.

Haidt does recognize that nuance complicates the issue. Online — but not in the book — he and colleagues report that adolescent girls from “wealthy, individualistic and secular nations” who are “less tightly bound into strong communities” are accounting for much of the crisis. So perhaps smartphones alone haven’t destroyed an entire generation. And maybe context matters. But this rarely comes through in the book.

The final sections offer advice for reducing harmful, predatory aspects of technology and helping parents, educators and communities become more gardener and less carpenter. Some tips will be familiar (ban phones from school; give kids more independence). Other advice might give readers pause (no smartphones before high school; no social media before 16). Yet, taken together, it’s a reasonable list.

Still, Haidt is a digital absolutist, skeptical that healthy relationships between youth and social media are possible. On this point, he even rebuffs the U.S. Surgeon General’s more measured position. We’re better off banning phones in schools altogether, he asserts. Because, as he quotes a middle school principal, schools without phone bans are like a “zombie apocalypse” with “all these kids in the hallways not talking to each other.”

Whether or not you agree with the zombie apocalypse diagnosis, it’s worth considering the failure of prior absolutist stances. Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No drug campaign? A public health case study in what not to do. During the AIDS crisis, fear mongering and abstinence demands didn’t prevent unsafe sex. Remember the pandemic? Telling Americans to wear masks at all times undermined public health officials’ ability to convince them to wear masks when it really mattered.

Digital absolutism also risks blinding us to other causes — and solutions. In 1960s Britain, annual suicide rates plummeted. Many believed the drop was due to improved antidepressant medications or life just getting better. They weren’t looking in the right place. The phase-out of coal-based gas for household stoves blocked the most common method of suicide: gas poisoning. Means restriction, because it gives the despairing one less opportunity for self-harm, has since become a key strategy for suicide prevention.

Yes, digital absolutism might convince policymakers to change laws and increase regulation. It might be a wake-up call for some parents. But it also might backfire, plunging us into defense mode and blocking our path of discovery toward healthy and empowered digital citizenship.

THE ANXIOUS GENERATION: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness | By Jonathan Haidt | Penguin Press | 385 pp. | $30

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Citizen revises Strong Mayor Powers to Wrong Mayor Powers

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2021


Public attendance at City Council meetings is getting better.

Mayor Meed Ward tells the audience that she is delighted to see so many people at the meeting.

Attendance at Council meetings is getting better.

Two issues draw an audience these days: The Strong Mayor powers and the Better Burlington Speaker series the Mayor announced she plans to host.

We don’t recall hearing a delegation take to the podium to support either issue.

Colloquially referred to as the Red Queen with Strong Mayor powers some want to change that to Wrong Mayor Powers

What does happen with many of those in the Council Chamber when there is a break in the proceedings is interesting.  They share their views and a kind of black humour takes over.

There was a Councillor who was mixing with the public who had some surprisingly strong comments about the level of trust between the Council members.

One particularly good delegator found a way to revise Strong Mayor powers to Wrong Mayor Powers.  That one is right up there with “the Red Queen” – a phrase used by some of the people who worked on the Mayor’s 2018 election campaign that resulted in her wearing the Chain of Office.

Public dissent is part of the democratic process.

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Small business people have trouble seeing the fairness in the federal budget

By Jim Portside

April 21st, 2024



How am I doing so far asks the Minister of Finance

Here are a couple of quotes from Finance Minister Freeland’s budget speech.

“We are making Canada’s tax system more fair by ensuring that the very wealthiest pay their fair share,”

“We are doing this because a fair chance to build a good, middle-class life — to do as well as your parents, and grandparents, or better — has always been the promise of Canada.”

Who are the wealthiest Canadians?

Do you own a cottage, rental property, or vacant land.

Do you run your own business?


Congratulations, you may qualify for the 1% of the 1% that the government is telling us is being targeted by the 2024 budget.

Maybe you bought a cottage in 2001, for $100,000, now you’ve retired and you sell the cottage for $600,000. The capital gain is $500,000.

Under the old rules, you would have to add $250,000 to your taxable income.

Under the new rules, as one of Canada’s wealthiest Canadians, you add $290,000 to your taxable income.

Big deal, the difference is only $40,000, but wait, winner winner chicken dinner, you’re now in Canada’s highest tax bracket.

If you sell your cottage today, without any other income, you’ll pay $93,047 in taxes. Under the new rules you’ll pay about $10,000 more.

Selling a cottage could have expensive income tax implications.

No worries, just hop in your private plane and fly up to the cottage. Oops, I forgot, you sold the cottage for some retirement income.

For people who own their business or are self employed, accountants often recommend setting up a holding company. With the tax changes made in 2019 and with this budget change this approach may no longer make sense.

Holding companies don’t qualify for the small business tax deduction. Before this budget they were fairly taxed. By the time the money gets to you personally you pay the same amount of tax as if you did not have a holding company. With a holding company you can smooth out your income over a long period of time. Have a great year, leave some money in the holding company, have a lousy year, take some money out. Retire, start taking money out, just like a pension plan.

Small business owners work hard, create employment and don’t have access to guaranteed, government funded, defined benefit pension plans.

Holding companies don’t qualify for the small business tax deduction. Before this budget they were fairly taxed. By the time the money gets to you personally you pay the same amount of tax as if you did not have a holding company. With a holding company you can smooth out your income over a long period of time. Have a great year, leave some money in the holding company, have a lousy year take some money out. Retire, start taking money out, just like a pension plan.

Anyone who is retired and had planned, based on the tax rules of the day, to fund their retirement from a holding company, just got …. by the government. If the government wants to make this fair, then capital gains inside the federal public service pension plan need to be taxed as well.

Now, guess who retired before 2019 and used the recommended and legal accounting practices of the day to plan for his retirement.

Jim Portside is a retired information technology business man who sold his company in 2017.  He doesn’t have a cottage, no plane; he does fly kites.



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Warplane Museum celebrates the RCAF centenary

By Staff

April 20th, 2024



David Rohrer,  Chairman of the Board, Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum said recently that “ As we enter our 52nd year of operations, we have thankfully been able to achieve our goals to grow and expand museum programs and operations, but the reality is that our continuing success is not due to just our own dedicated efforts. Rather, it is the result of all of our combined efforts including your most important kindness and faithful financial support of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

“In celebration of the Royal Canadian Air Force 100th Anniversary this year, many of our former RCAF aircraft will grace the skies across Canada at several large air shows this summer in honour of this milestone.

“We will also continue the restoration work on several of our aircraft and unveil a new Making Freedom Fly major exhibition that will open this summer. We are also updating many of our facility building systems, including a new hangar roof this spring, as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure we have very secure business systems in place.

“We really need and appreciate your support. As a donor, your contribution to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is an investment in a real Canadian success story. We have a great deal yet to accomplish and you are an important part of this worthy endeavour.

“We know we can count on you to join us in this important task as we continue to take visitors of all ages on a journey of learning that includes some of the finest stories from Canada’s rich military aviation heritage.”

Click HERE if you wish to donate

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City Manager designate taking part in events with Meed Ward

By Staff

April 19th, 2024



He isn’t on the payroll yet but City Manager designate Haassan Basit took part in the Ontario Big City Mayors AGM/Conference where former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmat  took part as a keynote speaker.

Premier Ford was on hand for the photo op.

Ms Keesmatt will be in Burlington I May where the Mayor hopes she is a strong enough attraction to fill the 700 seat Main Theatre at the Performing Arts.

From the left: Paul Sharman, Paul Calandra Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mayor Meed Ward, Kelvin Galbraith, Haassan Basit and Angelo Bentivegna.

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