The Gazette sent the following

The Gazette sent the following to the members of city council that supported a Motion asking the amayor to relinkquish some of the power that was given to her under the Strong Mayors Act.

Is there anything you can do to settle the frayed nerves of those who care about what happens at city hall.

Is there not something you can say to your constituents about the chaos that is taking place at city hall.

While we believe that you did the right thing when you put the Motion on the table and deserve kudos for getting it, first, on the agenda while the Mayor did everything possible to keep it off the agenda.  Secondly you all got a Special meeting called – give Angelo most of the credit for that win.

The firing of two of the best Executive Directors the city had was so unnecessary.

And not knowing who made the decision to remove the two woman from the payroll is disturbing.

Given that the four of you brought about the situation that has us in this mess – it is really incumbent upon you to make a statement.

Perhaps you could appoint one Councillor to speak for those who support the decision you made.

The Gazette published the attached earlier this morning:

https://burlingtongazette.ca/there-is-a-dangerous-information-vacuum-in-the-city-members-of-council-have-a-responsibility-to-communicate/

Pepper Parr,  Publisher, Burlington Gazette

 

 

 

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There is a dangerous information vacuum in the city - members of Council have a responsibility to communicate

By Pepper Parr

March 24th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

One of the tasks Brynn Nheiley had was to talk up all the reasons for working in Burlington.

At one point she was saying:

Brynn Nheiley

As you look through our current job openings, remember: the grass is greener at the City of Burlington. With approximately 890 full-time and 600 part-time employees, we focus on teamwork, collaboration and investing in our co-workers. It’s no wonder our employee turnover rate is less than 7 per cent (that’s good). The City of Burlington is an award winning city, filled with award winning staff. In fact, we put the “greater” in the GTA.

Brynn at one point believed every word she said – but she is no longer with the city; however, the 890 full time workers and the 600 part time workers are in place and they are talking to each other.

There is fear and apprehension among the city employees.

There is a vacuum with no on speaking on behalf of the city administration or city Council.

Mayor Meed Ward on the porch of her house preparing to broadcast to the citizens of the city during the lock down period of the pandemic.

During the pandemic the Mayor was everywhere; speaking from the porch of her house; in front of the hospital using a megaphone to tell the hospital workers that the city appreciated to work they were doing.

The Mayor organized caravans that drove through the city – she did whatever could and thought was needed to assure a worried public.

What we have now is an uninformed public getting whatever individual response Councillors are putting out.  We are not aware of any special editions of newsletters being issued by individual Council members.

We are not seeing a lot of chatter on the X platform.

If there is no voice from the leadership – people create their own voice – which is often frenetic.

All of this does not bode well for the city.  The chatter amongst those who work in the municipal sector is wicked.  These people work together closely – they collaborate their responses to the provincial and federal government.

One can only imagine the chaos at Ontario Big City Mayors, (OBCM) , of which Meed Ward is the current chair.

Ontario Big City Mayors family portrait – worth a thousand words

Holding a position like that requires the respect of your peers

Mayor Meed Ward’s reputation is being shredded by her council members; the people she works with at the Ministry of Housing must be having quite a chuckle at Burlington’s expense.

All this is happening within a vacuum created by city council and the administration.

The Gazette has asked each member of council to show the leadership expected of them when they were elected.

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What a week; the one we are heading into will define the city for the balance of this term of office

By Pepper Parr

March 23rd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What a week!

On Tuesday, as part of a Council meeting, three members of Council put forward a motion to ask the Mayor to relinquish some of the powers given to her by the Strong Mayor legislation.

Mayor Meed Ward fought to keep that Motion off the Agenda.  When she failed at that effort she fought to prevent the calling of a Special Meeting of Council where the matter would be debated.  The Mayor failed at that as well.

Council members learned, from the City Solicitor, that the ability to enforce their request was limited.

Then on Thursday we learned that two senior staff members were no longer on the city payroll.

Members of Council have said very little publicly, which is unfortunate for the idea of open government and keeping the public informed is critical to the functioning of a truly democratic government.

The city is at a critical point and it is going to take the best that we have to ensure that the best interests of the citizens prevail.

There are more questions than answers at this point.

Who fired the two senior executives?  That would normally be a City Manager responsibility.  In the statement the City Manager released there is more than a suggestion that he didn’t do the firing.

Mayor Meed Ward presiding over a city council meeting.

The only other person who could fire people is the Mayor.  Assuming she made the decision there is an obligation to register that decision and make it public on the city web site.  At this point there is no statement.

Not to be too crass about it – but what is it going to cost the taxpayer in terms of severance packages?  Given the length of time the two have served it has been suggested that the sum might be as much as $ 1 million

Social mediate will record dozens of misguided statements.  This is a time when level heads are needed and for a public to be informed as to just what the issues are.

While the current Council is challenged when it comes to responding to the people who elected; make no mistake – they read every comment that is sent to them.  This is the time to flood the Mayor with what you think should be done.

The votes that are placed in ballot boxes are the transfer of power from the individual to those they choose to lead.  That power is vested in the seven elected members of council – not just the one member.

We are heading into a disruptive few days.

Let’s remember who we are and what we are – and demand that Council, not just one person make the decisions.

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Special Council Meeting -   Motion memo Improving Local Democracy by Strengthening City Decision-Making

By Staff

March 22, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City announces the meeting – no context, no background.

The Special Council meeting is regarding – Council request the Mayor to delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.5 of the Municipal Act, with respect to the City Manager; and

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

– determining the organizational structure of the municipality; and
– 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.

Requests to delegate to these meetings can be made by completing the online delegation registration form at www.burlington.ca/delegate or by submitting a written request by email to the Office of the City Clerk at clerks@burlington.ca by noon the day before the meeting is to be held.

If you do not wish to delegate, but would like to submit feedback, please email your comments to clerks@burlington.ca. Your comments will be circulated to committee members in advance of the meeting and will be attached to the minutes, forming part of the public record.

 

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Rivers: Let’s have an Election on the Carbon Tax

By Ray Rivers

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Despite all the noise from the official opposition on Parliament Hill, the truth is that carbon pricing contributes only a tiny fraction to the cost of inflation.   Analysis shows that even when inflation peaked above eight per cent last year, carbon pricing might have accounted for a tiny one-54th of it.

Carbon pricing does raise the cost of fossil fuels – that part is true.   But even the latest round of scheduled progressive increases will have little impact on Canada’s declining inflation rate.  And the carbon tax rebates are the great equalizer for Canadians facing higher food and other costs.

80% of Canadians are better off with the tax and the rebate than if the tax were axed, as Canada’s Conservatives would do were they to win the next election.   In fact axing the tax would do almost nothing to lower inflation but everything to make the average Canadian worse off.

Alberta premier Smith and Saskatchewan premier Moe also support ‘axing the tax’ despite the fact that residents of those provinces receive the greatest annual carbon rebates ($1800 and $1500) while still paying some of the lowest energy prices in the country.  Clearly partisanship and ideology trump economics in those prairie provinces.

Mr. Poilievre believes he’s riding a winner with his ‘axe the tax’ campaign, a catchy though well-worn and somewhat dated slogan.  His misrepresentations have started the Liberals calling him out as the liar he becomes when he speaks to the issue.  But then again, his political party does not even recognize the reality of climate change, so he may just be carrying their water.

Affordability is the watch word these days.  Initially Poilievre hung his hat on the mostly false claim that the federal deficit was the major cause of inflation  But now he has resorted to another falsehood and set his gun sights on carbon pricing.  He introduced a non-confidence motion in Parliament this past week, which could have forced an early election.  But every other political party stood with the Trudeau crowd to defend carbon pricing.

Yet it is unfortunate that we are not having an election over how to mitigate Canada’s embarrassingly high carbon footprint.   The politicians from every party except the one leading in the public opinion polls understand that this is the most cost-effective way to deal with one of the greatest existential threats to our planet.   They get it.

As we remember Brian Mulroney this week, we should also consider how he tried to resolve fractious public policy issues.  The Charlestown referendum ultimately settled the matter of constitutional change once and for all, despite Mulroney losing.  Canadians were informed on the issue and they told the PM that they preferred the status quo and a stronger federal government.

The 1988 election was largely about free trade with the US and Mulroney won that debate.  There would be winners and losers but, despite the pain of adjusting to change, an informed Canadian public elected the party which supported freer trade with the Americans.

Trudeau may claim that he won the last two elections over the issue of his carbon tax – it was his signature policy after all.  But not everyone agrees, including Mr. Poilievre and a significant number of provincial leaders.  The sentiment among pundits is that Trudeau has failed to fully inform, sell and convince the public on the merits of carbon pricing.  Even the Globe and Mail, long a strong supporter of carbon pricing, is getting ready to write off this entire experience as a failure.

So, what better way to bring the public up to speed than to put the choice directly in their hands.  Mr. Trudeau should make the next election about climate change, or conduct a referendum to shut up the critics.  Trudeau’s is currently light years behind in the polls.  If that trend continues and the Tories win the next election climate policy including carbon pricing will all be history.

Does the PM’s miserable poll numbers mean that Canadians also disapprove of carbon pricing?  Or does the Tory party’s staggering lead in public opinion polls say more about a fickle and bored public wanting to change the channel, as they did a few years ago in Ontario?  That was a move which ended Ontario’s role as one of three provinces leading the fight against climate change.

Successful politicians are often those who aren’t afraid to show courage – Mulroney was one of those.  Unfortunately the new leader of the provincial Liberals is playing footsie on this issue, afraid to take a stand in case she says the wrong thing before the dust has settled.  She is currently the leader of a third party and sitting on the fence will rightly ensure that she stays exactly where she is.

To end this on-going axe the tax partisan campaign Trudeau needs to answer the challenge and call the bluff.   He needs to borrow a page from Mr. Mulroney’s book and make the next election a ‘climate change election’, if not now, certainly in 2025.

Following your own convictions and doing what you believe to be the right thing is not enough in a democracy.  You need to have the public behind you. Trudeau needs to call Poilievre’s bluff and let an informed public finally decide on whether we need to continue with carbon pricing and the ultimate phase-out of fossil fuels in this country.

Trudeau needs to put an end to the prattling half-truths and outright lies pouring from the mouths of the opposition leader and his cabal of climate denying premiers once and for all.  He needs to put the decision to fight for our future directly into the hands of an informed voting public.

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 content

Non-Confidence –     Carbon Price Baloney –   Inflation and Carbon Pricing    Carbon Pricing

 

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Brynn Nheiley and Sheila Jones are no longer working for the City.

By Pepper Parr

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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.

Sheila Jones was an Executive Director with the city.

Brynn Nheiley Was an Executive Director with 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.

These two woman were amongst the very best the city had.  Both will be picked up very quickly by some other municipality.

Now to find out more of the why.

At this point there is nothing on the city web site where decisions the Mayor has made under the Strong Mayor legislation would have to appear.

 

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

By Staff

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

A Gazette reader commented as follows:

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

Mayor Meed Ward

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

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

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

 

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Bay Observer headlines revolt at Burlington City Hall

By Pepper Parr

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

A screen shot from an edition of the Bay Observer.

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 22nd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

By Staff

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

By Pepper Parr

March 21st, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which confuses Angelo Bentivegna.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

By Staff

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Help us improve technology services at BPL.

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

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

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

Link to survey

 

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

By Pepper Parr

March 20th,2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

The Motion reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council in session

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

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

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

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

That left just Councillor Bentivegna as undecided and very uncomfortable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could live with if that’s permitted,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It passes – so the item is on the agenda.

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

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

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Background on the appointment of new City Manager

By Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

How did that come about?

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

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

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

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

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

Decision Number: 04-2024

Mayoral decision

References: HR-02-24 – City Manager Recruitment

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

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

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

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

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

Original Signed by

Marianne Meed Ward

 

 

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

By Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How did City council decide to fund BurlingtonGreen?

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

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

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

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

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

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

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

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

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

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 19, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 19th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

Mayor Meed Ward wearing the Chain of Office.

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

She has done this before.

It all starts at 9:30 this morning.

We will keep you posted.

The Mayor called the meeting to order right on time.

Stand By

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Crucial Tools for Business Success in Canada

By Ann Marie Lumsden

March 19th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

Digital marketing tools are usually very cost-effective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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What it takes to keep BurlingtonGreen afloat financially?

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a 3 part series on funding BurlingtonGreen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategy/process/risk

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Related news articles.

Part 1

Part 2

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

By Pepper Parr

March 18th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

Images of different people in the process of stealing an automobile

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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