Summer Music at the Ireland House Oakridge Farm

By Staff

July 6th, 2023



An evening listening to local musicians on the historic grounds of Oakridge Farm at Ireland House Museum starts on the 14th and runs through to the end of August.

The outdoor stage will feature local musicians on select Friday evenings throughout July and August.

Performances are from 7:30pm – 8:30pm, gates open at 7pm. There will be lawn games to play and light refreshments available for purchase from local vendors. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and relax while listening to local talent.

Admission is “pay what you can”, the suggested donation is $5/person (cash, debit or credit accepted). Donations will be collected at the front and back gates of Ireland House Museum. Your donation provides support to the exhibitions, collections management, special events and education programs that bring our mission to life.

REVEL Realty Inc., Brokerage is sponsoring the event.

Summer Music Series Schedule:

July 14 – Hayley Verrall
July 21 – Sarah Church
July 28 – Jeremy Guther
August 11 – Warren Jones
Aug 18 – Natalie Reis
Aug 25 – Dan Taylor

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Aldershot residents want to put a stop to the noisy freight car shunting in their neighbourhood

By Staff

July 5th, 2023



There is something about the way people gather together to bring about change.

Residents who live in Aldershot close to the rail line have said they are tired of noises and vibrations from the CN shunting yard.

Location of the CN shunting yards and homes that have had to put up with the noise.

They have a meeting with Burlington MP Karina Gould on the site. First – Good on Gould for accepting the invitation. Sure it will be a photo op but a Cabinet Minister has clout and can call meetings with the railway people.

In an article that appeared in the Aldershot Insider, a community run web site where ideas are passed around and notices of events posted the following appeared.

Diesel engines move box cars from location to location to put together





The profits are in the number of box cars that can be included in a train – not the kind of thing you want to come across at a railway crossing.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday July 26th, 2023, 5:00 PM at 333 Enfield Road.

The meeting will take place outdoors allowing everyone to hear the shunting noise


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Chamber of Commerce Student Scholarship gets more confusing

By Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2023



Things at the Burlington Chamber of Commerce are not healthy.

It is a leadership matter.  Membership has grown.  The administrative practices within the Chamber of Commerce – have grown –  in the wrong direction.

Burlington Chamber of Commerce Terry Caddo

The President Terry Caddo has alienated a number of people and points out “we know who they are” with no hint that the concerns and complaints are being carefully looked at and the plan is to find an agreed upon resolution.

The Chamber recently held a Scholarship Breakfast for students who were awarded Chamber of Commerce scholarships and invited all the local MPP’s and MP’s to take part.  There was no media release that we are aware of that the event was taking place.

The photograph the Chamber released included the students who won the scholarship – but no mention of who they were and which high school they attended.  The name of the politicians were included.

The Gazette did get a note from Chair Randy Smallbone saying they would provide name in the future.  What prevents the Chamber from providing the names now – the parents of those students would appreciate seeing the children recognized.

Our headline on the original story was incorrect. The politicians took part in the event to do the presentation of the certificates and to talk to the students about their plans for their futures.  There was no mention of the role the politicians played in the breakfast event.

We don’t make things up – we do our best to report.  Given that we didn’t know the event was taking place we did the best we could with what we came across.

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Who benefits from the current practice of hybrid meetings of Council ? Not the public.

By Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2023



Andrew Coyne, a respected CBC panellist and the writer of a regular column in the National Post asks the question:

Whose Parliament is it anyway?”

In a recent opinion piece in the Globe and Mail Coyne claims “The government’s move to make hybrid Parliament permanent will only hasten its decline.”

That is pretty much what is happening to Burlington’s City Council. We will return to that point.

Andrew Coyne, CBC At Issue panellist, National Post columnist ad frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail.

Coyne adds: “If, as the government argues, letting MP’s phone it in some of the time would lead to improvements in MP’s mental health and other good things, how much more would this be true if they did so all the time?”

“Indeed it’s a wonder we ever insisted they meet in the first place. Remote voting has been possible since the telegraph. What’s the big deal about siting them all together in the same room?

“And yet every legislature in the world does. Somehow it was universally agreed that the people’s representative physically assemble in a large, ornately decorated chamber, and do most of their business there.”

During the pandemic hybrid was a necessity but virtually all have reverted to meeting in person.

“Maybe it has something to do with why trials are held in person – defendant and plaintiff, accuser and accused, forced to confront each other in the same courtroom. Or why the most effective means of protesting some injustice, to this day, is to gather a lot of people in one place, a right so fundamental it is protected in the Constitution.

“The presence of the 338 MP’s sitting in their seats is hugely symbolic, not only for the onlookers but for the participants as well. It signals something important is going on.

Once the hybrid meeting practice is entrenched, depend on it, more and more MP’s will take advantage of it.”

Is that what we see happening in Burlington?

Burlington City Council in a hybrid mode. Can you tell which members are in their living room and which members are in the Council Chamber?

We have members who don’t understand the decorum of a Commons, a Legislature or a City Council Chamber – wearing a shirt – and no jacket. Some eat their lunch at their working space.

There have been a number of occasions when there is barely a quorum; happens easily with a Council of just seven members.

At times there are good reasons for a council member to be away – but far too often there are members who prefer to work from a home office. When there are just five members taking part in the discussion the interaction is limited – the opportunity to pick up on a comment another Council member made or make your disagreement known is not the same when you aren’t in the room.

Hybrid meetings that aren’t necessary but convenient for the member of Council is not what a public democratic process is all about.

Council is currently discussing a redevelopment of Civic Square so that it can be used by the public; a place to gather; a place to celebrate but not apparently a place where you spend time in the Council Chamber debating a budget that is going to result in hard earned money coming out of the pockets of the people who put the Council members in the seats they hold.

Someone, a citizens group ideally, should take the members of this Council to task and demand that they show up for work.

We will come to deeply regret letting this Council take away the symbolic importance of all members of Council meeting to debate the issues.

Things are even worse at the Regional level – why drive to Oakville for a two hour meeting when you can cover it all from home

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Five local politicians show up to have their picture taken for an event they had nothing to do with.

By Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2023



The Burlington Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast on June 29th to honour and recognize the recipients of the Burlington Chamber Scholarship Fund.

The recipients were graduating students chosen from each Burlington high school and all were highly deserving of the honour.

The photograph provided had all the high school recipients seated in the front row with the politicians (Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, MPP Natalie Pierre, MPP Effie Triantafiloulos, MP Karina Gould and MP Pam Damoff) standing behind them.

No mention of who the students were or the high school they represented.

The Chamber of Commerce was doing its best to curry favour with politicians.  Did they get their priorities mixed up?  Obviously not from their perspective.

The disappointing part of this photo op exercise is that the politicians had nothing to do with the scholarship program; they were invited to attend and like lemmings showed up to get their picture taken.

In no particular order: Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, MPP Natalie Pierre, MPP Effie Triantafiloulos, MP Karina Gould and MP Pam Damoff. The people at either end of the back row were not identified.Neither was the gent in the pink jacket; he is the Chair of the Chamber Randall Smallbone


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Canada Post: 'We are current with our parcel deliveries in Burlington'

By Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2023



A reliable source advised us earlier this week that delivery drivers for Canada Post in Burlington have pulled their trucks off the road in protest.

Delivery drivers pick up and deliver parcels in Burlington on a contract basis for Canada Post.

Those drivers were recently told their contract would cease in August.

Canada Post has brought the negotiations forward and has brought the service in house.

There was the potential for a huge impact for people in Burlington; the contract has been revised and the service problems are resolved.

Canada Post advises that: “We put a contingency plan in place and are current with our parcel deliveries in Burlington”.

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The Redesign of Civic Square - Part 3 - how did council react ?

By Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2023


Part 3 of a 3 part article on the redevelopment of Civic Square

City Hall released a plan last week to redesign Civic Square.  The three parts are:

What was done before the plans that are now before the public?
What did the Staff report have to say in their report to Council ?.
And how did council react


The outline of the redevelopment of Civic Square. How the Queen’s Head pub (the yellow box inside the project limits) is going to be handled is a question that was never asked.

Councillor Nisan was first out of the gate with two important questions.
“Overall, I’m very, very pleased to see what’s coming forward; there’s a lot of emphasis on engagement and emphasis on design excellence. The look and feel of the location is sort of underpinning everything. We ensure that we don’t sort of build like a camel versus a horse here.

Becky Lewis, Senior Landscape Planner for the City of Burlington.

Becky Ellis:,   Senior Landscape Planner for the city explained: Design excellence is built into our goal. We have a team of internal and external consultants who are professionals and design experts. We can put your worries to rest – design excellence won’t be a major consideration for this project.

Nisan: “With that in mind. I didn’t see a mention there in terms of location being in front of like at the seat of low local government. Assume that’ll be part of it as well.

“My only other real question is? I thought we were going to look at doing a design competition for this area to get as many ideas from local and abroad. Now is that still a possibility or does the hiring of this team mean that they’re the ones who are designing? It wasn’t clear to me how that would play out. Is it possible to have a few different you know, really great. companies taking a look at this area ?

Ellis: “There will be no design competition held for this. We did have an RFP process that went through our standard procurement process. And city has selected a team of professionals that we feel are a great design team.

Ellis: “ I hope that answers your question.”

Nisan: Maybe there’s one follow up. . So why didn’t we do it? And what if the design doesn’t go the way we hoped it would?

The meeting went silent and someone asked “did someone else speak up? Or am I just hearing?

Ellis: “No, sorry to go back.. I’m sorry, Your questions are?: “ Why didn’t we do that? And I’m sorry, can you repeat the second question?

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan who lives in ward 2

Nisan: Why didn’t we do it? And what if the design doesn’t come out the way we hoped it will?

Ellis: “So in terms of why we didn’t do that? I’m not sure

Chair asks: I’m hoping I can look to maybe Alan or Tim, to comment on that first, and then I can I can move on to the second question.

Alan Magi: “I’m happy to weigh in on this. Is as Becky indicated, we did go through a robust process in selecting our consultants for this, as well as reporting back to council. That what we wanted – to ensure that we had early engagement with counsel as we’re doing the design, development, and to make sure we are all on the same page.

“Participating in that design work as it’s succeeding and not waiting until the final sort of completion of that; you’ll see it in the project schedule and engagement plan that we’ve built into the early part of the design development – so that there’s touchpoints, coming back to council. In addition to the broader engagement with the community, – we would do all that before we really embark on the final sort of detailed design and preparing the packages for tender.

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager Tim Commisso: “That is at the front end – allowing consultation with counsel at a couple of touch points – they’ll jump in. Through my many years; I have done a lot of projects and when you have a project that requires iterative design and extensive community consultation, a design competition tends not to work as well. Because you really are in a process of iteration.

“I can say that when we did the waterfront, 20 years ago, we put the new facility at Discovery Landing out for design competition. We had the land, we were looking for a design for that kind of facility and it worked well there.

“But I think that was a unique circumstance. I think in this case, it’s the evolving involvement in the design, through the entire process of engagement. That makes it a challenge to then put out to a design competition, because inherent within that process is designed and we’ve got to you know, very qualified firm firms, quite frankly, to do that. That’d be my thoughts on it.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

Question from Councillor Galbraith: “ I recall this conversation back when we had the previous design of Civic Square and I actually liked it back then. This is obviously a much bigger project now including Elgin Street and other parts of it. So it’s a much bigger project. The financial impact talks about some of the government contributions, just wondering if we have a total cost of this entire project yet ?”

Ellis:  “We do not have a cost estimate yet because of course, we haven’t started design. We do have an understanding of what our financial commitment is through the ISEP funding. And we will be budgeting additional money for that phase of work that includes the Brant Street entrance to City Hall.

“Right now, the ISIP funding sits around in the $5 million mark, and we will be adding to that capital funding to that for the architectural changes.

Clock outside City Hall – it will probably be moved but will play a significant role in the look of a redeveloped. Civic Square.

Galbraith: ‘My one other question, was reading the engagement report? I know we’ve heard, and we’ve worked with our twin cities, in our Civic Square. I think the clock was donated by one of our Twin Cities, just wondering if that will form any part of the engagement. I know I’ve heard the mayor say several times, she’s learned a lot about our city, during visits to our other twin cities and their city halls. Just wondering if that is any part of the engagement thought at all.

Ellis: “Are you talking specifically of the clock? Or are you talking about engagement with our Twin Cities?

Galbraith: “Yeah, engagement with our Twin Cities, just, you know, maybe some research on what they have of our city over there and what we could incorporate in our Civic Square here of our Twin Cities. Appledoorn and Itabashi.

Ellis: “I think we can certainly explore some engagement or some outreach to representatives of the Twin Cities. We will note that Sheila (Spruce Labs) is also here on the line. I don’t know if she had anything to add, or if that’s just something that we can note for the engagement plan.

“I was just going to say thank you for bringing that up. I think that’s an excellent idea. And that we will definitely consider how to how to work together to bring that in.

The eight points that drive the thinking going into the redevelopment of Civic Square.

Question from Councillor Sherman: “This is a very robust design process, I’m really impressed with the degree of engagement to make this a place for gathering of human beings. That leads me to the question: to what degree have we addressed the question of place making? Are we satisfied that we’ve covered all the angles for this particular location? Would it be useful for other locations as we evolve the city, the community with different places such as this that we’d like to, to design in a similar fashion? How comprehensive of this I guess this question for Sheila?

Suggestion that the question be deferred because it goes beyond this scale of this project?

Ellis:  “Yeah, I think that’s fine. I guess I’m just looking for some clarity on your question. Are you asking if we believe we will be including other sites start? Can you clarify your question for me?

City Manager: “If I can interpret the question. I think the question is clear that this is a special place, right? This is, an investment where, you know, I think when I hear the budget, we can do and it already is a special place. The question is, is how do we ensure that place making design you know, that this becomes even more special is inherent within the design? And, you know, whether it’s principles of place making I know in the past, we have touched reached out, you know, project for public spaces, places, you know, organizations like that.

This is what makes the design approach an iterative one; every step taken is expected to inform the steps that follow.

“So, I’m just going to interpret Councillor Sherman’s comments as making sure that that inherent with that is really a strong foundation of place making. The only thing I was going to mention too, and it was just last month that we dealt with another special place. And that is the water feature. And also, you know, Discovery landing, which is also concurrently going to be renewed. And I think, you know, in the context of both of these going forward at the same time, and I’m not suggesting that, you know, that the sign will inform, but I do think that they have a similar element to people places, and really, you know, nailing down I think the next 20 to 30 years of having them become where the community just celebrates, and everybody is welcome. And so, I think, you know, I’m not the designer, I wish I was, but that’s not my, that’s not my background, but I love I love these kinds of projects. So I’m hoping I’m characterizing Councillor Sherman your views properly.

Alan Magi: “If I could add maybe just to that, I think in terms of the comments about seed government and remembering to and not that there’s an integration with the renovations that we’re doing to city hall right now, so that this will all tie together both for the streetscape from the end of the Elgin promenade that we have right now. And tying this all together, I think that this is all inherent as part of this project, making that sort of special place, recognizing that this is the focal point of government of the city as well as a public space for the citizens.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman: Looking for public art to be part of the redevelopment and wants to see the approach being taken with Civic Square as a template for other places in the city.

Sharman: “Thank you very much. I got the answer to my question. But it raises another question, which is whether or not we’ve involved the manager of arts and culture. In this particular design, we give we provide a $50,000 a year for arts and I think it could be triple that. And I think that I know that our manager of arts and culture has phenomenal training and experience in cultural training and cultural development. I’m just wondering if he has been involved in this discussion? And should be or not?

Ellis: “Yeah, oh, yeah. Through you chair. The project team and Angela have already had several meetings. And they are fully integrated into this process, there will be a public art component to this there is there is funding for public art. So beginning next year, there will be a solicitation for a public artist to integrate something really special into the design.

Question from Mayor Meed Ward. “Great suggestions and questions. Just wanting to ensure that we have the broadest possible scope for input and consideration of this project. “We’ve heard about features that would echo our Twin Cities, perhaps there’s community amenities. Indigenous consultation will be a part of that, maybe a fire pit. Making sure that there’s water sound, proper wiring for it to be an event space, flex streets for example. So those are just some of my ideas. And my question is, is all of that in scope? If we hear it from the community? If, if it seems like a good idea with our consultant that that could come back as part of this design?

A long pause.

Ellis: “Yes. So we have is as part of the process of obtaining the consultants there would be professionals on our team that could help us with all of those things that you mentioned. Those are all on the table and part of the scope of work for the project.

Mayor Meed Ward outside City Hall. The redevelopment of Civic Square – She loves it. It’s awesome.

Meed Ward: “I’m okay to move it and make some comments. I was hoping that would be the answer. And I will say that I agree that this is a robust process. I want to make sure that we have the broadest funnel to receive input from the community. Because this is a once in a generation, maybe once in a few generations opportunity.

“When Civic Square was last before Council, we paused it in part, because of our anxiety over were we thinking big enough and broad enough in scope. And we want it to be more than we’re gonna, you know, we might move a few flagpoles and fix the bricks, so it’s accessible and maybe plant a tree or two. I think we have a real opportunity to make this a destination community gathering space, and to Councillor Sherman’s point earlier, a new template for how we’re going to design our civic buildings.

“I’m very glad to see the roads in and around it as part of this, and the Elgin promenade piece, because that is an awkward section of Brant Street. This is a real opportunity to have a holistic design. And I think I think all of the things that we’ve talked about and that have been raised by my colleagues are really important considerations.

“I love the idea of consulting with our Twin Cities. This is just an incredible opportunity to land a magnificent design. So I look forward to the consultation.

Councillor Stolte: “My question is about flex streets. I know that we have been talking we’ve had significant conversation over the last few years in regards to that section of Brant Street and Elgin, particularly Brant Street from James south. I know that a big piece of it could extend so for the scope of this design, but just in keeping with this whole place making and tying it together and having a broad enough scope, is it possible to consider phasing this project, particularly the design part?

“I understand, Becky, that you mentioned right at the beginning of your presentation that the roadwork in front of Brant Street at the corner of James is going to be on hold due to the construction at the southeast corner of James and Brant; if that’s what I’m understanding correctly, that we’re not going to be going into construction on Brant street.

“I’m wondering if the design can possibly encompass that concept of potential pedestrian friendly open streets, shared streets, flex streets, even if it’s a phase two that doesn’t happen for a couple of years. I think the design needs to be considered broad enough that in the end, it’s all cohesive, and that we don’t do Civic Square, and then look at potential shared or flex streets on Brant Street, and but the design of Civic Square wasn’t necessarily built into that. So does that question make sense as far as understanding that the construction for Brant Street is not in the scope, but considering some high level design phase two, in case the community does go forward with wanting some sort of pedestrian shared fleck street on Brant and Elgin?

Commisso: “Your question is very pertinent. Scott Hamilton, Director of Engineering and Alan Magi have had that discussion about how this design informs the broader reconstruction of Brant Street. There is a lower and an upper Brant; we have our eye on the whole street.

Scott Hamilton: Director of Engineering

“ Scott should comment because I know he is very informed as to sort of our plans for reconstruction, going forward but the idea of how this design informs that particularly on lower brand street, I think is very appropriate question.

Scott Hamilton: “The intent is that we tie this all together. We’ve got a lot of development happening. As you mentioned, there’s the different parts of Brant and James where development is pending and then our streetscape guidelines would come into play. At complete streets and what have you in the area, the intent is that we can kind of pull it all together..

Councillor Sharman: “I didn’t really understand the conversations we were having a few years ago about what we were going to do to Civic Square – it was very confused. What you’re proposing now is not confusing. I support it completely. I think this is a wonderful opportunity in the context of the future of buildings and changing so dramatically, that we get to make the statement now.

“But that statement should represent what we want for the future of Burlington. And therefore, you know, I go back to my comments about culture, that we actually have to begin thinking about the culture we want for the community going forward. And that needs to be reflected in staff. But that’s a different conversation. Right now, we need to be talking about where we want our community to go.

Commisso: “When we had that discussion, four years ago, it was a constrained budget discussion. We were asking committee for more money ($1.1 million) to do a few more things.

“We’re talking a whole different discussion here. We move forward; this is really an opportunity to do something special.

The Mayor moves the motion:
Okay, but a great conversation. So before calling the vote anyone else like to comment? Note, we’ve exhausted the conversation. Thank you very much. So seeing no further comments, I’ll call the vote on item 4.1. Please raise your hand. All those in favour? Any opposed? And that carries?

The Motion was to Receive and file engineering services department report providing an update to the Civic Square and Brant Street renewal project.

Redesign of Civic Square – Part 1

Redesign of Civic Square Part 2

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Canada is on Already Fire - Why the Fireworks

By Ray Rivers

July 4th, 2023


“Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot….”

Today’s outlandish fireworks displays can all be credited back to a Chinese alchemist who discovered gunpowder back in the first millennium. Though it could be legitimately argued that Guy Fawkes deserves a lot of the credit. He had been captured planning to blow up the entire English government back in 1605, as part of a group of disgruntled Catholic revolutionaries. Brits have since set aside Nov 5th to celebrate that day in his name with a bonfire and, more recently, fireworks.

The Pilgrims brought the fireworks custom over to the new land and it became fundamental to celebrating US independence Day. Canada has also taken to fireworks in a big way and fireworks shows are pretty much ubiquitous everywhere today to celebrate everything from a national holiday to gender reveal parties.

There are encouraging exceptions, such as Chile, which has a universal ban on these kinds of explosives. And some municipalities such as Mississauga have banned, private citizen fireworks and are supported by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs which has called for a complete federal ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks.

Over 240 million pounds of fireworks are used for celebrations releasing about 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment.

But Independence Day in the USA is generally the most polluted day of the year when it comes to air quality. Over 240 million pounds of fireworks are used for celebrations releasing about 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment. That is the equivalent of a single 2,700-acre wildfire. It is estimated that amounts to a 370 percent increase in aerial particulates that day, which can feel like spending an hour on a city street in Beijing during one of its worst smog days.

This year is even worse. With out of control wildfires in northern Canada we have been exporting massive blankets of smokey air south of the border. New York City and Chicago have each taken turns with Toronto and Montreal at being merited with the dirtiest air on the globe. Indeed this is Canada’s worst year ever for forest fires. But nobody should believe that next year will be any better. Already we note that the forest fire season now begins in April instead of the more traditional July.

Wildfires release substantial amounts of organic volatile organic compounds which, when in contact with sunlight, end up creating the intense smog we have been seeing so far this year. Stinging eyes, burning lungs and the acrid stink of burning plastic are all part of the package. Add in vehicle exhaust fumes and those fireworks, and that is a recipe for overcrowded hospitals.

At least we humans have choices when the air outside is sickening. We can go indoors, close all the windows and turn on our air filtration systems. Or, if we need to be outside and are serious about protecting our health, could wear one of those dreaded n95 face masks we used during the pandemic, and hoped to never have to wear again.

However, for the other creatures in our natural environment there is no such escape. The health effects of smoke on wildlife are the same as for humans, except they are magnified by the fact that birds, for example, are more efficient breathers and retain more particulates. Smoke inhalation can and does kill birds. It impairs their ability to breathe and their ability to forage and sustain themselves. Think of the tiny hummingbird taking in life-giving air at the rate of 250 breaths a minute.

Blowing up substantial quantities of explosives just to enjoy a few minutes of noise and flashes of light is a very high price we pay for all of the unintended consequences. Dogs and other pets, babies and some seniors, for example, are known to suffer trauma and discomfort during fireworks exhibitions.

And did I mention climate change? The federal government has a strategy to reduce carbon emissions from the still important oil sector, associated with significant employment and which still powers our transportation systems. But where is the action on something as avoidable as pointless pyrotechnics shows?

Vancouver and Montreal need to be applauded for cancelling their fireworks displays this Canada Day, Vancouver permanently. But what about Toronto and Burlington? Jurisdictions seem to have no trouble banning gas powered leaf blowers to help reduce air pollution, after all.

And if anybody really thinks they’d like to see real fireworks in action, perhaps they could wander over to Ukraine, a country which has seen more than its fair share of fireworks. Isn’t that the kind of thing that Guy Fawkes was really all about when he left us a legacy of pyrotechnics?

Background links:

Fireworks Pollution: Guy Fawkes Day: Canada Day Explosions:
Wildfire and Infections


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

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Smart Serve re-certification dates extended

By Staff

July 4th, 2023



The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of orporation Ontario (AGCO) announced that it will be extending the period to complete Smart Serve recertification.


Certificates with an expiry date between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2023 remain valid until September 1, 2023.


The Information Bulletin on this update has also been sent out to all liquor licensees. It reads:


 As a result of the high volume of Smart Serve liquor training recertifications underway, the AGCO is extending the period to complete recertification for those whose certificates are set to expire. Certificates with an expiry date between June 30, 2023 and August 31, 2023 will now remain valid until September 1, 2023.

This means that:

        • Liquor training certificates issued before September 1, 2018 will remain valid until August 31, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. This includes Smart Serve certificates and certificates issued prior to 1995 from the Server Intervention Program (SIP).
        • Smart Serve certificates issued on or after September 1, 2018 will expire five years from the date of issuance (e.g., a certificate obtained on September 15, 2018, will expire on September 14, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.).
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The Level Of Workplace Stress Should Be Considered A National Crisis

By Adam D.K. King

July 4th, 2023


First published in The Maple

Last year, the so-called “labour shortage” was headline news. Over the course of months, employers and their political associations were given ample opportunity to shape the terms of debate. Predictably, many used the chance to attack pandemic income benefits — most of which had by then expired — for supposedly disincentivizing work.

These swipes at temporary cash benefits were simply one manifestation of a broader false narrative that persists in Canada: that people are lazy and don’t want to work. In fact, the exact opposite is true: Canadian workers are overworked and burned out.

Last month, Statistics Canada released a new report showing exactly this. According to data collected during the April 2023 Labour Force Survey (LFS), more than one in five workers (21.2 per cent) reported experiencing “high or very high levels of work-related stress.” This work-related stress was most commonly the result of overly heavy workloads and difficulties balancing work and personal life. Yet these weren’t the only causes. Workers also cited overtime and long hours of work, pay and compensation issues, a lack of decision-making power at work, poor relations with supervisors or colleagues, job uncertainty, as well as harassment and discrimination, as sources of work-related stress.

That’s roughly 4.1 million workers who, on a weekly basis, report experiencing high levels of stress because of work. If workers’ health and well-being were taken seriously, this would be considered a national crisis. But unfortunately, it’s reported with little commentary, let alone alarm. For comparison, there were just under 1.1 million unemployed workers in May 2023 (the latest available data). While Canada currently has an unemployment rate below its historical average, over a million unemployed workers nevertheless likely strikes most reasonable people as unacceptable and unnecessary. Four million over-stretched workers is equally, if not more, outrageous.

Unsurprisingly, women were more likely to experience work-related stress than men, owing in part to the disproportionate amount of care work they perform. Across each of the sources noted above, men and women cited comparable stress, with women reporting slightly greater levels (with the exception of overtime and long hours). But on one variable, women experienced far greater work-related stress (15.4 to 8.2 per cent): the “emotional load” of their work.

This emotional toll is in large part a reflection of the industrial and occupational composition of workplace stress. Workers in health care and social assistance reported the greatest prevalence of work-related stress, followed by public administration, professional, scientific and technical services, finance, real estate and insurance, and education.

This industrial profile reveals a notable bifurcation in the data: while highly educated, salaried employees in the professions report high levels of work-life stress, so too do workers in women-dominated public services, such as health care, social services, public administration and education. Moreover, within these latter industries, women report greater workplace stress, which is likely a reflection of the types of jobs women tend to hold.

That work-life stress is so heavily concentrated among workers in vital public services, such as health care, social services and education, should come as little surprise. This is the direct result of austerity and under-funding, attacks on wages and collective bargaining rights, and a general undervaluing of public sector work and the people who do it. In other words, high levels of work-life stress aren’t a natural feature of jobs in health care, social services and education; subjecting workers to such stress is a public policy choice.

In many respects, the health-care labour crisis epitomizes the consequences of austerity and a public policy orientation that treats workers as a cost to be contained. According to Statistics Canada’s LFS data, “heavy workload” was cited by 32.3 per cent of health care and social assistance workers as a source of stress, compared to 23.7 per cent on average. “Emotional load” was a stressor for 21.4 per cent of workers in health care and social assistance, while only a cause of stress for 11.7 per cent on average.

Workplace stress in health care is a crisis that has simply been allowed to compound and worsen. In November of last year, average hourly wages in health care and social assistance grew by only 1.6 per cent, while wages overall grew by 4.2 per cent. This was another in a series of monthly real wage cuts brought about by inflation and public sector wage suppression. Through the fall and winter, even as job vacancies came down, health-care and social service vacancies remained persistently elevated, with workers in Ontario and British Columbia leaving in high numbers.

It’s not as though this was a surprise to governments. In fact, StatCan has been keeping a pretty close eye on the experiences of workers in health care. For example, the statistical agency surveyed health-care workers on their experiences during the September to December 2021 period of the pandemic and found some alarming results.

At that time, 86.5 per cent of those surveyed reported feeling stressed at work. Just shy of 18 per cent said they planned to leave their job within the next three years, including almost one in four nurses. Job stress and burnout, as well as concerns about their mental health and well-being, were cited as the primary reasons for intending to leave the profession. Predictably, the added stress of the pandemic accelerated issues already prevalent in health care, most notably a growing labour shortage as burned out workers fled the sector. Even as job vacancies have declined — in health care and overall — the level of vacancies in health care and social assistance remains far higher than most other sectors.

Statistics Canada’s report on work-life stress should be a warning. We need to address the underlying causes of workplace stress — overwork, the inability of many people to balance work and home-life and, importantly, the undervaluing of public services and the workers who carry them out. Fixing these issues starts with increased funding for, and protection of, our vital public services, particularly health care and health-care workers. But it doesn’t stop there.

Although Canada performs slightly better than the OECD average when it comes to annual hours worked, there’s plenty of room for improvement. For instance, in 2022 the average Danish worker put in 314 fewer hours of work than the average Canadian worker. The primary way to reduce average annual hours of work is by ensuring that all workers have access to plenty of public holidays and paid vacations, as well paid leaves for various personal and caregiving responsibilities, including robust sick and parental leaves, leaves for retraining, and, of course, paid sick days. It may also be time to seriously question the continued appropriateness of the five-day, 40-hour work week.

In many respects, more time away from work is a central part of mitigating workplace stress. However, we can’t neglect the role that having power at work plays as well. Reducing work-life stress necessitates fighting for workers to have greater collective say over the conditions of their work.

The Maple is an independent digital news publication,

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Heat Warning issued for Halton Region

By Staff

July 4th. 2023


As a result of extreme heat and humidity, Environment Canada has issued a Heat Warning for Halton Region starting July 4, 2023. This warning is issued when forecast temperatures are expected to reach 31 degrees Celsius or more with overnight temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius for two days, or when a humidex of 40 or higher is expected for two days.

Especially at risk

Seek shade from the sun.

• older adults (over the age of 65), infants and young children, people who work and exercise in the heat, people without adequate housing and those without air conditioning; and

• people who have breathing difficulties, heart problems, kidney problems or are taking medication that increase their heat-health risk.
Prevention tips

• drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water;

• avoid strenuous outdoor activities;

• seek shade from the sun;

• spend time in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls and community centres; and

Some choose to sit in the shade listen to the music and enjoy time with their neighbours – summer in the city

• visit friends and neighbours who may be at risk and never leave people or pets in your care unattended in a car.

If you or someone in your care experiences rapid breathing, headache, confusion, weakness or fainting, please seek medical attention right away.

Weather and heat information are available on local radio and television stations and the Environment Canada Weather Conditions and Forecast webpage. For information and tips on how to protect your health during heat warnings, including a listing of air conditioned locations in Halton, please visit our Heat Warning webpage at or call 311.



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Motions on a Highly Polished Hardwood Floor

By Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2023


I forgot to include the link when this was first published.  The link is now in place

This isn’t local news.

Intense, deliberate, free flow movement that lets you see the humanity in all of us. Made me think of Darwin and what he observed in the Galapagos.

It really isn’t news either but it is something I wanted to share.

The motions the person goes through on a highly polished hardwood floor can only awe you.

It sounds hooky – give it two minutes and move on if it is not for you.

If you watch the whole thing you will have been moved.  HERE is the link.

The yoga types out there will appreciate it.

The link was sent to me by my friend Anna Schantz – she does this kind of stuff.

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Performing Arts Centre volunteers to be recognized.

By Staff

July 4th, 2023



Volunteers are a large part of what makes the Centre work. Patrons will meet friendly ushers like these two gents.

On Wednesday, July 5th at 6:30pm the Performing Arts Centre will host its annual Volunteer Appreciation Event.  They will thank the more than 100 dedicated volunteers, without whom the Centre simply could not operate.  Collectively, these generous community members volunteer approximately 12,000 hours of their time each year to act as our ushers, ticket-takers and greeters.

The volunteers will be treated to a buffet dinner from Pepperwoods.  Those volunteers who have gone above and beyond will be recognized individually with awards and prizes, many of which have been donated by downtown business partners.



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Civic Square: How consultants will role out the redesign Part 2

By Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2023


Part 2 of a 3 part article.

This is a long story so I have broken it up into three parts.

City Hal released a plan last week to redesign Civic Square.  The three parts are:

What was done before the plans that are now before the public?
What did the Staff report have to say in their report to Council ?.
And how did council react ?

Alan Magi, Executive Director, Environment, Infrastructure and Community Service introduced Becky Ellis, Senior Landscape Architect and the author of the report.  Magi  started the presentation saying “with this project we will be tying into the synergies with the almost completed renovations at the first floor of city hall and tying in that part of the building into Civic Square. This report will be outlining the process moving forward. And with that, I am going to be turning over to Becky introduce our consultants.”

Lewis: “You will learn from the engagement portion of the presentation that there will be plenty of opportunity over the next eight to 10 months to contribute your vision to the design of the site.

“Prior to committee staff had the opportunity to meet with Councillor Kearns, who couldn’t join us today and to answer her questions about the report. Jennifer Johnson from facilities and buildings is co-lead on this project. Ryan Stoneman is the other co- lead sends his regrets.

John Joyce from the MBT W group, is the project manager for the consulting team and Sheila Boudreau from Spruce Lab, the community engagement lead.

The Queen’s Head sits in the middle of the Civic Square. No mention that it exists in the presentation. The outline leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

John Joyce explains the project limits. “The streetscape improvements include Brant street from the south side of Ontario Street to the south side of Elgin Street, and the east side of the intersection of Brant – Elgin to the intersection of Elgin and Locust.

“There is no roadwork in the scope for this project, except to accommodate servicing requirements designed for the east side of Brant Street will be included, but construction will not proceed as part of this project, due to the planned construction of the tower south of James Street.”

What the public can expect, it appears,  is work on both sides of Brant Street at the same time.

Joyce, the consulting team project manager and the city’s primary contact continued with the presentation.

He had two slides the first of which is associated with the project goals and objectives.

“The ultimate success of the project is largely going to be measured on its ability to bring people together in an environment that’s welcoming to all abilities and backgrounds, and better supports not just the community but also local downtown businesses.

“This idea is summarized in the overall project goal which was established by the city for this project.

“There are eight key priorities: civic pride, speaks to the idea of bringing civic into the design by increasing communication through engagement.

“Civic Square and Brant Street are used for a wide variety of programming, special events, ceremonies.

Civic Square if often the gathering place but mostly for people south of the QEW. There was an impressive Black Lives Matter event and, shown below, a gathering of citizens to watch the Raptors win a basketball title

“The rebuild is being designed for maintenance and operations standpoint: You don’t build the space and then sort of scratch your head on how it’s going to be maintained, how it’s going to operate, how it’s going to be monitored.”

The project schedule: Anticipated timeline is about three years that starts in July 2023 and ends in June 2026 – four months later the public gets to elect a new city council

The work is grouped into stages.

(1) design development, begins in August of 2023. And will conclude in June 2020.

This stage includes an extensive engagement process. It includes conceptual design that will include three design options for the project that will be informed through the engagement process. The preparation will include a preferred concept plan.

During the design development stage, an update to council on the conceptual design stage.

Joyce makes mention of the “extensive engagement process associated with this project” throughout his comments.  One gets the sense that they are working hard to ensure that the city doesn’t repeat the communications problems with the Bateman project.

He then passes the presentation over to Sheila Boudreau, a principal landscape architect and planner at Spruce lab, Inc. a Toronto based firm with expertise in integrated project delivery, community engagement, indigenous engagement and design, urban design, green infrastructure and public art with a total of 20 years experience.

The intention is to have the consultations with the public “inform” what happens as the concept moves forward. At this point there isn’t a construction plan – there is a plan to figure out what the public wants. That approach didn’t work out very well wen the public was asked what they wanted at the Waterfront Hotel site.

“The public engagement plan that we’ve created for the Burlington Civic Square and Brant Street renewal is intended to support and contribute to the design of the Square, City Hall entrance and the adjacent streetscapes. Various engagement activities will be undertaken over the period of approximately 10 months between August 2023 and May 2024. This will involve meetings interactions with numerous stakeholders, accessibility groups, local businesses, and the broader community.

“Indigenous engagement will also be undertaken as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action.

“This will be conducted in culturally appropriate ways, meeting first with the Indigenous Talking Circle, and broadening the circle to other indigenous peoples that are living in the city of Burlington.

“In addition, consultation with the First Nations treaty rights holders – the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and other first nations according to their interest and level ability to collaborate at that time.

“Consultation with the First Nations is a requirement of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program funding that supports this project.

“All engagement activities will be informed throughout by the International Association of Public Participation, public participation spectrum.

The International Association for Public Participation’s Spectrum of Public Participation describes five general modes of public participation in democratic decision-making on continuum of increasing community influence.

“The public engagement plan will be refined based on the level of interest and availability of those being engaged in order to respond effectively to their needs. And each phase of the engagement process will circle back, as shown in the graphic, to inform the development of the design until the design is finalized.

Boudreau completed her part of the presentation; Senior Landscape Architect Becky Lewis asked if there were any comments or questions.

Kwab Ako-Adjei is the Director of Communications and Engagement.

Jacqueline Johnson – Executive Director, Community Relations and Engagement.

Councillor Nisan was the first out of the gate.

Unfortunately, ward 2 Councillor Kearns did not attend the meeting, however she was given an opportunity to share her views in a private briefing.

Her constituents never got to hear what she had to say about the development that is in her ward. .

Kearns had sent he regrets to Council – she didn’t attend any of the Standing Committee meetings this past week. No word, that we can publish, on just where she is or what she is doing.

What members of Council had to say is covered in part 3

What is a little confusing is the city has two senior people on the communications and engagement file yet there is an outside firm with seasoned communications and engagement staff  serving as the community engagement lead. Sheila Boudreau from Spruce Lab has been assigned that responsibility.


Part 1:

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Housing starts: Burlington low on the number of starts but very good on the number completed in May

By Staff

July 2nd, 2023



Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation has issued some data on housing starts across the province.

Burlington is not at the top of the list.

City Council gets reports regularly on why things are not moving as well as they should – the problems Burlington faces are no different than other municipalities its size.

Don’t expect this data to make it past the lips of anyone on Council even though the completion rate is pretty good.

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The Redesign of Civic Square - Part 1

By Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2023



This is a long story so I have broken it up into three parts.

City Hal released a plan last week to redesign Civic Square.  The three parts are:

What was done before the plans that are now before the public?
What did the Staff report have to say in their report to Council ?.
And how did council react

In December of 2018 the city budgeted $600,000 for upgrades to Civic Square, the space to the south of city hall.

Civic Square as it is today.

Many of the improvements were required to improve things like accessibility, safety and convenience.

The city held an on-line survey with renderings of the new look; it was poorly promoted and the results of that survey were never made public.

At the time there was one 28 storey tower planned for the west side of Brant Street on the north side of James. The plans were approved and the tower is nearing completion.

The first tower to be built directly across the street from City Hal – 28 storeys. Construction close to completion.

Plans for a second tower on the south side of James have not been completed. They did have approval for 17 storeys and that is where that second tower sits.

The city had embarked on improving what they called Customer Service, gave it the initials CSX.

The first run at that idea stumbled getting out the gate. A former City Clerk was assigned to improving the team; some progress was made. The wrinkles got worked out, the software being used was upgraded. The former Clerk left for greener pastures – retirement.

The second tower that will be opposite City Hall – on Brant south side of James Street. Construction has yet to start.

Covid entered the picture, many staff worked from home and the city used the opportunity to remake the ground floor of city hall – you will not recognize the place when it is opened to the public. Expect a major photo op event when that happens.

Inside City Hall will look and feel a lot different. A visual was prepared to give the public a sense as to what was in the works.  Take the 33 second flyby to see what the end result is expected to look like

When the changes to the inside of City Hall were taking place little attention was paid to Civic Square other than mention of a new entrance, some reshuffling of things in Civic Square – more flag poles, some trees and plans to either get rid of the fountain or move it.

The noise and dust from the renovations proved to be more than staff could put up with if they were going to get any work done.

The Customer Service department was moved to the Sims building, which is on the southern side of Elgin Street.. The city bought the building for $17 milliom about five years ago.

Parts 2 and 3 to follow.

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Fireworks: 'I think it's a GO'

By Staff

July 1st, 2023



Nothing Official yet from City Hall but a reliable Gazette readers sends the following:

“The pier is fenced off & the normal van that is used to transport the fireworks is being unloaded.

“I think it’s a GO.”

That’s all there is at this point.



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The end of Fireworks as we know them ? Drone light shows are what some communities are using - what do you think ?

There is an option.

Fireworks as we know them have always been popular.

That is changing.

There are now drone light shows – because a picture is worth more than 1000 words we will let you see for yourself.  Click HERE

The only thing missing is the loud sounds.

Do tell us what you think.

Too late for Burlington to make a switch this year.

Next year?


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Ford’s Conservatives set rent increase guidelines at 2.5%, highest increase allowable under Residential Tenancies Act

By Staff

June 30th, 2023



New Democrats put out a statement today: Ford’s Conservatives set the rent increase guidelines for 2024 at 2.5%, the highest increase legally allowable under Residential Tenancies Act:

A development that is somewhere in the application to develop pipeline.

“Jacking up the rent for millions of Ontario renters is only going to make the Ford Conservatives’ housing affordability crisis worse”, said the NDP in a statement they released earlier today.

“2.5% is a huge increase, especially when you consider that rent is already so high, and most Ontarians’ wages haven’t kept up.

“And if you’re in a rental first rented on November 15, 2018 or later, the sky’s the limit as far as how high your rent can go up, thanks to the Ford Conservatives’ massive loophole.

“We need a comprehensive strategy to solve our housing crisis, starting with bringing back strong rent control on all homes, including vacancy decontrol—where a new tenant pays the same rent as the previous tenant. The Ontario NDP would invest immediately in affordable housing, take steps to curb greedy speculation, and spur the construction of 1.5 million new homes for Ontarians.”

The Ford government has argued that developers cannot afford to build rental housing with the current rent guidelines.

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City Communications said: 'We will be posting about that shortly' when asked about fireworks on Canada Day

By Staff

June 30th, 2023



This just in from the City Communications department:

We will be posting about that shortly.

Got this at 2:42 in the afternoon.

We had asked if there were any plans to cancel the fireworks scheduled for Canada Day.

At this point it would see that the city is going to do what most of the other municipalities are doing.

Stand by.

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