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Expect several members of Council to be at the Clerk's Office early next week

By Staff

April 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The nomination period for individuals who would like to run as a candidate in Burlington’s 2022 Municipal Election will open at 8:30 a.m. on May 2 and run until 2 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2022. Nomination papers can be filed by appointment only. Voting for the election takes place between Oct. 11 – 24, 2022.

Starting May 2, nominations will be accepted for the offices of:

  • Mayor
  • Councillors (local and regional)
  • Trustee, Halton District School Board
  • Trustee, Halton Catholic District School Board

Katherine Henshell, first candidate to file nomination papers in 2010 tries out a seat in the Council Chamber and thinks she likes the look of her name on the name plate.

Nominations may be filed at City Hall at 426 Brant St., with the Office of the City Clerk, located on the main floor, during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). On the last day of the nomination period, Aug. 19, 2022, nominations may be filed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Filing a nomination
Nomination papers can be filed by appointment only. Please call 905-335-7777, ext. 7805 or email clerks@burlington.ca to arrange a time.

Husband Pete Ward was on hand in 2010 to photograph Marianne Meed Ward as she filed her nomination papers.. No picture taking like this will be permitted this time around.

The forms required to file a nomination are available in the Office of the City Clerk on the main floor of City Hall at 426 Brant St. and on myvoteburlington.ca. The following must be provided at the time of submitting a nomination:

  • Nomination Paper (Form 1)
  • Endorsement of Nomination (Form 2) – required for nominations for an office on council only. A nomination for an office on council must be endorsed by at least 25 persons. A prescribed declaration is required by each of the persons endorsing a nomination.
  • Filing fee – in cash, certified cheque, money order (payable to the City of Burlington), MasterCard or VISA. The fee for the office of mayor is $200 and $100 for all other offices.
  • Candidate identification (driver’s license or another government-issued photo identification)
  • Proof of citizenship (Canadian passport, citizenship, or another government-issued identification).

Also starting May 2, nominations will open for the offices of:

 

Quick Facts

  • To run in the October municipal election, candidates must:
  • be a Canadian citizen
  • be at least 18 years old
  • live in Burlington (own or rent), or
  • not live in Burlington, but you or your spouse own or rent property in the city.
  • The City of Burlington is hosting a series of virtual information sessions for individuals who are interested in running as a candidate in the City’s 2022 municipal election at 7 p.m. on April 27, May 10 and June 23. Learn more and register for these free events at myvoteburlington.ca.
  • A person cannot begin campaigning until their nomination papers are filed.
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Ukrainian Community Celebrates the Easter Service in Burlington with an adopted parish in Bakhmut

By Denis Gibbons

April 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A strong connection already established between parishioners of Holy Protection Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church and their brothers and sisters in Ukraine has enhanced the transfer of aid to refugees and victims of war.

The Burlington church adopted another parish in the city of Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, as a sister city shortly after Russian troops crossed the border there in the summer of 2014 and eventually annexed Donetsk.

Heavy fighting has been reported in the area recently.

Since the war started on February 24, slightly used and new clothing has been packaged along with dry food, toiletries, first aid items etc. to make life a little easier for them.

Father Zenon Walnycky leads in prayer, along with Deacon Danylo Dudar and altar servers attired in blue.   Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

Volunteers gathered in the parish hall on Pine Street on Easter Weekend and another drive was held in Millcroft Park on Sunday, which was Easter for those of the Ukrainian right. As a result, dry goods, sleeping bags, medical supplies etc. will be shipped to the front lines in Ukraine.

“I’ve been doing fundraising ever since I moved to Aldershot in 2007 and I’m overwhelmed with the generosity of Burlingtonians,” said Lida Pichocki, one of the volunteers. “It’s amazing to see that people are standing with Ukraine and that they care.”

Pichocki’s brother Stephen, who is in charge of the local Tyrsa Ukrainian Dance Troupe, said his dancers will perform at a special Concert for Ukraine at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church Saturday, May 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Tenor Jeff Madden is also on the card, accompanied by pianist Andrea Battista, as well as bandura players and a special Ukrainian song performed by three Ukrainian refugee children, who recently arrived in Burlington.

Iryna Demchuk, who fled Ukraine after the war started, accepts some Easter eggs from an altar server.   Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

Iryna Demchuk, another refugee, left her hometown of Zbarazh in Western Ukraine in March and eventually made her way to Burlington at the invitation of her cousin Stefanie MacArthur and her husband John.

It took her more than 10 hours to travel by bus past the large Ukrainian city of Lviv to Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where she stayed for three weeks with the help of friends before obtaining a visa to come to Canada.

“I want the war to stop as soon as possible,” Demchuk said. “I want our family to be together.

“I saw the eyes of a man who took his wife and children to the Polish border and then had to come back. It was very painful.”

Naturally, Demchuk misses her husband and would like to go back home when it is safe. But for now she will volunteer with the church to help Ukrainian refugees and those still back in the country in any way she can.

Late in the evening on April 5, the noisy sounds of four Russian winged missiles were heard flying over the region near Zbarazh.

Luckily three were destroyed by Ukrainian air defence equipment and the fourth was damaged, preventing it from reaching its target, believed to be civil infrastructure in the western part of the country.

Demchuk, who works as a foreign economic activity specialist for the town council of Zbarazh, left at the urging of her husband Volodymyr, an architect who must stay to provide support to Ukrainian military forces because he is 41 and they have no children.

Lviv, located only two hours from the Polish border, has mostly been spared from damage, although 35 people were killed on March 13 when Russian missiles targeted a Ukrainian military base about 40 miles to the northwest.

Father Zenon Walnycky blesses an Easter food basket with the assistance of Deacon Danylo Dudar.      Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

Later five Russian rocket attacks hit the city’s civilian infrastructure.

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Communications department: a filter that controls media access to senior staff

By Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Part 2 of a series

In the news game reporters have what they call sources.

They are frequently people working in a city hall department or someone in the private sector who can explain a complex document, process or procedure.

Mutual in trust is usually in place.

Each year during budget time calls would get made to the people working on different parts of a budget – a list of the reserves was always an issue.

The amount of money that was budgeted in a year but didn’t get spent often got placed in reserve budget which was often referred to the piggy bank and used by council members for favourite projects.

More often than not there were follow up questions to the experts; with both people on the line a clearer understanding of what are often complex issues is gained.

One of the more challenging was Development Charges – a contentious category for everyone.

Up until very recently Burlington was recovering less than 70% of what they spent handling development application work. It took a couple of expensive reports from consultants, and in the most recent set of discussion, long meetings with BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) and the West End Home Builders Association before a final figure was arrived at.

Development charges are very difficult to explain and at the same time a very significant part of the cost of buying a house that is under construction. Those development charges are all added to the cost of the residence.

Not something the average person fully understands.

Reporters have to wade through thick documents, try to understand the contents and the follow up with staff members.

That kind of thing is done at every newspaper, on line or print, in the country.

But that is not the way it works in Burlington.

Former City Manager James Ridge – fairly described as media adverse

The change began during the last years of the former City Manager James Ridge administration.  What started in about 2016 is maintained by the current City Manager Tim Commisso.

Donna Kell was the communications coordinator at the time. Kwab Ako-Adjei was hired by Ridge and the game slowly changed.

Ako-AdjeiKwab gave Kell the chance to develop her career somewhere else

In a mature, professional organization Ako-Adjei would have reached out to the media and made a point of meeting the player’s and talked about how the two (media and administration) could best do their jobs. Access is the most important thing for media.

I first met Ako-Adjei at an event at the Waterfront Hotel – chatted for less than a minute; I was able to have a longer conversation several months later.

What we began to experience with Ako-Adjei and his staff was when we made a call to a staff member they would either tell us we had to call the communications department or if we reached out by email we would get a reply from one of the communications people who would ask what our questions was – they go away and come back with an answer.

None of the people who serve as communications staff have formal training in journalism or any work experience in journalism.

Most of them have a designation as a public relations specialist.

Public relations is in place to do everything possible to get out the story a corporation wants to get out and where there is a kaflooey, limit the damage and say as little as possible.

I want to share our most recent experience with access. It goes like this.

Sue Connor is the Director of Transit. She came to Burlington with an incredible reputation. The city was lucky to get her.  She is seen and respected as a strong voice on the conversion of transit out of diesel into batteries or H20.

She takes part in the proceedings of CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) a solution based consulting company; leaders in the field.

We reached out to Sue asking if we could talk about the views she would be taking to the CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) conference which was taking place about a week or so later.

Sue Connor – An Executive Director and Director of Transit for Burlington.

Our interest was in Sue Connor as a respected leader in the move from diesel to a less climate damaging source of energy.  She is a solid manager who runs one of the happiest, nicest places in the city to work

We got a call from the city communications people who asked what we wanted to ask Conner.

We explained that the event was not a city event and that Connor was attending the conference as an individual and not someone representing Burlington Transit.

Conner had advised the City Manager earlier in the month that she would retire at the end of the year. Shortly after that announcement Connor was elevated to the position of Executive Director filling the gap that was created when Heather MacDonald retired.

The end result was there was no interview with Sue Connor – which is unfortunate – she is one of the best on the ground thinkers in the transit business in the country and also ran one of the best operated departments in the city.

Policy and practice related to media come straight from the City Manager. While Ako-Adjei, has his finger prints all over every bit of information that comes out of city hall; he reports directly to Commisso.

Kwab Ako-Adjei

Kwab Ako-Adjei is leading an initiative known as One Burlington – it is there to polish the brand.

This is not a healthy situation and has to a considerable degree lessened the amount of information that gets through to the public

We are not the only people struggling with the communications department – several members of the very divided city Council have similar issues.

There is a link, not too difficult to find, between the messy Integrity Commissioners report that was really all about citizen access to information and the control everything communications department.

The root of all this is the office of the City Manager.

The City Manager gets his marching orders from City Council and this council is not going to lift a finger to bring about a change in the way city hall works with media

There are options that I will talk about in the future.

Part 1 of the series

The above are the 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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Rainbow Crosswalks in Hamilton get a better go of it than those in Burlington - more TLC in Hamilton water?

By Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Why does the Rainbow Crosswalk in Hamilton, on a street that has more than 300 transit buses driving over it every day and thousands of cars as well look as good as they day it was painted?

Damaged Rainbow Crosswalk in Burlington.

While in Burlington two Rainbow Cross walks are peeling and are a bit of an eyesore.

Hamilton Crosswalk next to city hall is in splendid condition despite heavy traffic.

What a bit galling is the big expensive fuss the Mayor made of the installation of the Rainbows – which are attractive and make a much needed statement?

It’s like a gift that is broken – and no effort is made to make a public statement about what is being done to fix the damaged Crosswalks and when results can be expected.

It’s a bit of an affront to the people who really supported the decision to have Rainbow Crosswalks in the city.

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Mistakes get made in the news business - you apologize and correct the misitake

By Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Saturday we published a news story and an opinion piece that had a serious error.

We reported that the Closed Meeting Investigator, who had done a review of the meetings that were the subject of an Integrity Commissioners report, were going to be heard in a Closed Session of Council

We were wrong. A trusted adviser called me at just after 7:00 pm on Friday to advise me that the agenda for the May 4th CSSAR FIX Standing Committee had been published and the reference to the report was that it was to be heard in a Closed Session of Council

That was incorrect – we got it wrong.  Our source misread the listing which said “…Closed Session report.

The two content pieces will be revised and we ask the readers and the Clerk’s Office to accept our apology.

In the world of new reporting, mistakes are made.

In 1948, when Harry Truman was running for re-election as President of the United States, the Chicago Daily Tribune called the election result just a little too early. Truman had won – the early polls misled the editors of the newspaper. Truman won 303 Electoral College votes – his opponent got 189.

 

Set out below is a copy of the New York Tines Corrections section. They list the corrections needed for errors in previous editions.

It happens in the best of families.

The New York Times runs a Correction Section in every edition of their paper.

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Saturday in the sunshine - politicking and advocating

By Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Call it ore-election campaigning or maybe a chance to get out for some fresh air and sunshine.

Our reporter bumped into Ward 2 councillor Lisa Kearns who was leading a walking tour of the downtown area on Saturday to review and discuss current, significant planning projects in various stages. A total of 10 high-rise projects were discussed. One has been rejected by city council.  Two are under construction, one has been approved by the Ontario Land Tribunal, two approved by the OLT subject to conditions, one subject to site plan approval and three under appeal by the City

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns took some of her constituents on a tour – her fifth tour so far this year, showing her the location of the ten projects that are in various stages of development.

In this picture Kearns is steps away from the Waterfront Hotel that is the object of a development application asking for Official Plan changes and zoning bylaw changes to build two structures that will top off at 40 stories.

Kearns said she could live with the 20 and a bit buildings the city planners are talking about.

The developer will undoubtedly take an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal where they are reported to be represented by Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP,, a highly regarded law firm that just might get something a bit better than a defeat.

With the sun shining and people getting out for some exercise the Alienated Grandparents Anonymous had a crowd on a walk through the downtown area protesting in front of the office of MPP Jane McKenna, Ontario’s associate minister of children and women’s issues,  during their march through the downtown on Saturday.

Parental alienation needs to go.  That’s the message marchers delivered on Saturday.   Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

Members of the Alienated Parents and Grandparents Peer Support Group, Our Alienated Grandchildren Matter, and Alienated Grandparents Anonymous stopped in front of the office of Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, Ontario’s associate minister of children and women’s issues,  during their march through the downtown on Saturday.

 

 

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It's a matter of trust and competency - not much of it around this past couple of weeks

By Pepper Parr

April 26th 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Reports that are going to Council meeting as a Standing Committee are always published about 10 days before the meeting.

The report on the comments from a Closed Meeting Investigation were put on the city web site sometime after 7:00 pm on Friday.  Bad optics but optics are no longer a concern for this council or this administration.

The respected law firm, Aird and Berlis were brought in because someone filed a request with the city Clerk asking for an investigation – basically to determine if the city was following the rules about going into a Closes session.

The four dates that were investigated related to those occasions when the Integrity Commissioner was asked by Councillors Nisan and Galbraith to determine of Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct.

Few would argue that she did not – she certainly did and has accepted the consequences of her decision.

What the public wants to know is – did the city tell its citizens enough about why they went into CLosed and what they talked about during the meetings.

The Integrity commented that the could improve on what it tells the public.

The public will get an answer to that question; it may not be as fulsome as they expected and would like to see.

In their report Air & Berlus conclude that on each of the four occasions complaints were based on the city met the rules as set out in the Municipal Act – and they site chapter and verse to back up their conclusions.

It goes before Council on May 4th as a Receive and File Report .  All Aird and Berlis were asked to do is advise on whether or not they had the right to go into Closed.

Getting that answer, which we already know has cost the taxpayers $15,000.

Marianne Meed Ward in September of 2018 asking the public to trust her

During the discussion on the Integrity Commissions report Councillor Galbraith made this statement.  He said Staff can submit a report and ask that it be discussed in a Closed session of Council.  He added that it is Council that determines whether or not they actually go into Closed.  They have to vote on that – each time.

Burlington’s city council is beginning to look foolish, incompetent and lacking a clear sense of direction.

Mayor Meed Ward said in a lengthy Statement she released on her tweet account that trust in this council has to be maintained.  She could not have been more right.

In the 2014 election Marianne Meed Ward asked citizens not for their vote – but for their trust.  And they gave it to her and were impressed enough to make her Mayor.

She has lost that trust – the skills. the integrity and the spunk to win it back do not appear to exist.

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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Summer: Temporary Patios and Sidewalk Detours

By Staff

April 22nd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Earlier this year, Council approved the temporary patio program for the 2022 patio season to continue to support local businesses.

Sidewalk detours and patio set-up will begin next week in the downtown and will run until Oct. 31, 2022.

Sidewalk Detours

Maybe the patios will bring warmer weather?

Some patios will be installed on City sidewalks. These sections of the sidewalk will be detoured onto the road with traffic barriers. These barriers will help with pedestrian safety.

City of Burlington staff will be installing the sidewalk detours during the week of April 25, 2022.

The sidewalk detours for patios are being installed in downtown Burlington on:

      • The north side of Pine Street between Elizabeth Street and Pearl Street
      • The north side of Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and John Street
      • The north side of Lakeshore Road between Locust Street and Brant Street
      • The west side of Brant Street between Elgin Street and Lakeshore Road
      • The east side of Brant Street between Maria Street and James Street
      • The north side of Elgin Street between Locust Street and Brant Street

 

 

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Facebook went kaflooey - what a mess - everything fixed and we are BACK!

By Pepper Parr

April 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For those of you who missed us for about twenty minutes this morning – something went wrong with Facebook – as we were trying to solve the problem – everything blew up.

We are back on line – now we need to figure out what went wrong and how much damage was done.

Thanks for your patience and you interest.

More good news – you will never guess what the Mayor said this time

We are told that of the 12,000 Twitter follow the Mayor has,  there was 1 Like and no re-tweets on the Statement she made over the sanctioning of a member of Council.

Side walk patios are being built next week – get used to some walking detours out into the street Barriers will be in place.

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We know it as earth day

By Staff

April 22nd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The world must stop increasing its greenhouse gas emissions within the next three years — and then rapidly slash them — to prevent the more extreme consequences of climate change, according to the latest United Nations report that highlights the need for stronger action to address the global climate crisis.

This really sobering news comes to us on Earth Day – an event that began in 1970.

In January 1969, Americans witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, an American wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution.

We have known about the problem for decades.

And we haven’t done very much about it.

And time is running out.

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When is enough enough - the ADI Group may have asked for too much

By Staff

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Developer wants to work well into the night to construct a tower that no one wanted in the first place.

Residents in the immediate area of the ADI Group development – Nautique; a 26 storey development that was controversial when it was just an idea.

ADI is asking for a noise exemption to allow construction until 11PM – Monday to Friday from May-September.

Resident have said this is totally unacceptable. In this area there are three senior complexes. Martha’s Landing, Pearl & Pine and also Martha’s Terrace.

The City of Burlington was unable to stop the height and intensification of this development but surely the city can prevent this noise extension from taking place. Those of us living in this area have a right not to have to listen to constant construction noises until 11PM.

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Raptors Superfan to talk virtually to Halton District School Board students - April 27th

By Staff

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

What a thrill this is going to be.  And what an experience as well

And if the Raptors can hang in and give the 76ers a good run for their money and pull off a miracle as well – the kids who listen to the virtual broadcast will never forget the day.

The Halton District School Board has Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia talking to students in a HDSB-partnered learning resources launch nationally.

Nav Bhatia has attended almost every Raptors home game since the teams first season in 1995.

Nav Bhatia will join classrooms virtually on Wednesday, April 27

The Halton District School Board is welcoming Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia to classrooms as part of a virtual learning engagement next week.

Bhatia will join Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes virtually on Wednesday, April 27 to empower and uplift students through his messages of “strength in diversity” and “uniting the world through basketball”. This visit comes after HDSB students have been engaging in learning about Bhatia’s journey through educational resources and activities developed by HDSB staff.

The Superfan Nav Bhatia Foundation plans to make this “Superfan Workshop” available to schools across Canada.

Bhatia will speak to:

  • Kindergarten – Grade 6 classes from 9 – 9:30 a.m. 
  • Grade 7 – 12 classes from 9:40 – 10:20 a.m. 

Nav Bhatia is the legendary Toronto Raptors fan who has attended almost every home game since the team’s first season in 1995. His journey as a beloved fan, successful business owner and inspirational community builder is told through the recently released CBC documentary Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story.

“After watching the documentary, the HDSB’s Human Rights & Equity Team knew this was a story meant to live in classrooms and with youth,” says Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education with responsibility for Equity, Inclusion and Indigenous education. “Aligned with core principles of Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, such as affirming identity, representation and critical consciousness, Nav’s story provides rich entry points for student learning and connects with the Equity & Inclusion area of focus in the HDSB’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan”.

With multiple connections to curriculum areas such as Language, History, Health, Civics and Careers, Equity Studies and more, the HDSB developed Superfan learning resources and activities for staff to engage students. In partnership with the Superfan team, these learning resources will now inspire youth across the country as the Superfan Workshop launches nationally.

At Chris Hadfield Public School in Milton, teacher-librarian Lisa Turbitt arranged for several classes to watch the Superfan documentary and collaborate on responses to questions such as, “How has Nav helped to create a sense of community?” and “What messages can you take from Nav into your own life?” The school shared their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #HDSBeSuperFan. Turbitt says this expression of student voice captured Bhatia’s attention and now HDSB students and Superfan Nav Bhatia will have a chance to meet.

“We hope this is just the beginning of a long and ‘super’ relationship,” says Eatough.

 

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Foxcroft doesn't disappoint the Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Crowd

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce held its Breakfast before 9 event – at the QB Sports Bar – the place was packed.

Terry Caddo , President and CEO, chatting up a Chamber of Commerce member

Was that because it was the first opportunity for people to get out and mix and get back to the networking that is such a big part of the Chamber world – or was it because Ron Foxcroft was the speaker?

Foxcroft never fails to deliver. Much of his story has been told man, many times – but it is always entertaining and each time you come away knowing more than you knew when you walked into the room.

He was promoting his recent book: The 40 Ways of the Fox – all the proceeds go to City Kids.

Terry Caddo, the newish President of the Chamber was meeting the membership and telling them what was planned – he will release the revised Strategic Plan at the end of the month.

Paul Sharman was on hand – his networking amounted to his giving people his nomination papers to sign. While I didn’t actually see the document I was told that they were nomination papers for the ward 5 council seat which he currently holds.

Wait Parr, you might ask. Haven’t you been saying that Sharman is going to run for the Office of Mayor? Indeed I have – and I still believe that Sharman will eventually file new nomination papers.

He did something similar in 2010. He had filed papers to run as Mayor against Cam Jackson. When Rick Goldring also filed nomination papers running for Mayor, Sharman pulled his Mayor nomination and filed for the ward 5 seat which Goldring was giving up.

Cheryl Goldring signing the Sharman nomination papers.

We all know how that worked out. Sharman won in ward 5, Goldring was made Mayor. Four years later, Sharman wins again in ward 5 – Rick Goldring losses to Marianne Meed Ward.

And the person signing the Sharman nomination papers? Cheryl Goldring – Rick’s wife.

Only in Burlington.

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Kearns Puts a More Positive Spin on the Messy Integrity Meeting at Council on Tuesday

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns held her sixth – it may been her seventh Ward meeting. This one was another hybrid.  She made comments about the Integrity Commission process that she took part in yesterday that are worth publishing.

Here is what she had to say.

“We also had a report in Council yesterday that we dealt with in regards to the Integrity Commissioner, and one of the Councillors, Councillor Stolte who had made a misstep and was cited for an infraction against the Code of Good Governance. There were two counts that they had identified had been breaches and she was penalized accordingly in the recommendation report from our third-party Integrity Commissioner.

Councillor Kearns has always supported positions taken by Councillor Stolte.

“There has been some media coverage. There is a lot of weight to what is ethical is not always legal, and what is legal is not always ethical. I want to acknowledge that the Councillor was working very hard in the pursuit of opening up greater transparency and communication to the community.

“Many of you are no stranger in knowing that there are matters that I would like to be brought a little bit more into the open. One thing that you will start seeing is a definite improvement in listing the locations on why we are going into closed – especially if it’s for litigation matters. There are some conversation out there around having an increased number of times of this Council going into closed versus the last Council so I do want to be really upfront with that.

“There is significant litigation, especially for matters in and around the downtown. Many of you will know that because we have posted all of the individual locations or files that have been submitted Ontario Land Tribunal as appeals against the new Official Plan in the downtown alone. I believe there are 26 of those, in addition to any other site specific concerns that we are working through the tribunal with, so that to me, does make up the bulk of those close sessions; whether they are proposals for settlement or updates on litigation strategy those are considered in closed under Section 239 of the Municipal Act.

“The other piece that is significantly discussed in closed session is matters surrounding Robert Bateman. It’s a very large acquisition where some proprietary pieces of information are discussed. My council colleagues know there are parts that I will be looking for their support and making more public. But we are not always alone in our decision making, our decisions do affect other parties.  I do continue to applaud Councillor Stolte’s pursuit of working to bring about more change.

“But at the same time, I always respect the process and process was duly carried out by our third party Integrity Commissioner and I do respect the findings of that report. Although it was a very uncomfortable situation to move through as a council. I am hopeful that we will come out on the other side as more knowledgeable and continue to shine for our city constituents in the very best light that we possibly can.”

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The news game and how it sort of works in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

Media has always had a role to play in the way a public is informed.

Like any commercial sector, and media is a commercial sector, it has had it low points and its high points.

Media brought about the downfall of US President Richard Nixon when the Watergate story was told.

Media failed terribly, and to some degree is still failing, in the United States with the way it reported on and failed to report on Donald Trump.

Media has excelled with its reporting on the war in Ukraine and how different countries around the world have responded. That the South Africans have gone mute is more than disappointing.

The way in which media reported on the tragic death of Princess Diana and the response from the Royal Family changed the way the British public reacts to their monarchy – that institution is undergoing a tectonic level shift and may not exist at all a few decades from now.

The advent of the internet stripped away the revenue base of print media, many have just sold their presses and disappeared.

Online newspapers began to appear.

The Gazette came into being when a group was trying to establish a radio station for Burlington, not being fully aware of how complicated it is to get a license to broadcast over the public air waves.

I was asked to help with the writing of a business plan and convinced those involved that a radio license was not possible but there was an opportunity for an online newspaper.

At about that time, ten years ago, John Boich and Walter Mulkewich co-authored Shape Burlington which took serious exception at the way city hall handed out information and advocated for public support for a new newspaper.

Shape Burlington cracked the ice that was blocking so much information but it didn’t open the flood gates.

The Gazette grew organically – take that to mean slowly. We covered the building of the Pier and covered the attempt on the part of the owners of the Air Park who were secretly dumping tonnes of fill on land without the proper licenses with the intention of creating more runway.

It took several years of court cases, a libel suit against the Gazette and two citizens before the Air Park owners threw in the towel

Eventually the courts cases ended and the Air Park owners decided they had had enough and walked away from the libel suit as well.

The Gazette was the first online newspaper to be accepted as member of the Ontario Press Council – an organization that became the National Newsmedia Council

Media matters.

Fully understanding just what it is and how the different players are expected to play the game is a different story in Burlington.

The Gazette has worked with five different city managers. The relationship with three of the five worked well.

It was my practice to reach out to a new city manager, do an interview and help where I could as they settled into the city. Jeff Fielding was a dinner guest at my home; I took him to the top of Mt Nemo – he was amazed.

The other guy from the Region

James Ridge: Ten years in the Canadian Army in the Discipline side of the service where he attained the rank of Major were not the ideal background for a job that calls for collaboration and an ability to accept different points of view.

James Ridge was different. That first call to him in Vancouver went well enough; he talked about his dogs and the plans he had for he and his wife to drive across the country while their furniture followed in a moving van – for which the city paid. That is a common practice.

Before Ridge left Burlington he banned me from attending at City Hall on two occasions – one was a life time ban.

The reasons for the banning was set out in documents that I have yet to see. There is litigation. More on that at another time.

When Tim Commisso was hired, first as an interim City Manager and then hired as THE City Manager the relationship was iffy but reasonable.

Tim Commisso had years of experience on the administrative side of the city before he went to Thunder Bay – then returned to Burlington to become the city manager..

I have never met Tim Commisso.

Traditionally media and administration meet personally to exchange greetings, get the measure of each other and set out the rules each intends to follow.  Being the senior level Commisso was the one to do the inviting.

My approach has always been to make sure that those I deal with, elected or appointed, understand that I am not there to be there friend. I am there to hold them accountable and do what I can to ensure that everything is transparent.

Given the current mess where a member of Council is the subject of an Integrity Commissioner report that recommends she be docked five days’ pay I am not sure I can say that we are doing just fine with the matter of transparency and accountability.

One perseveres.

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How did the Integrity Commissioner arrive at 5 days pay as a penalty for breaching the Code of Conduct

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The stories we published on the Integrity hearing shot readership through the roof. Not as high as the story on the closing of Emmas but very good nevertheless.

It isn’t possible to publish a single story that tells the whole tale – the meeting ran for 3.5 hours.

So we are going to excerpt sections from the transcript we have and run those over the next few days.

The penalty is what seems to interest most people. Why five days and how much money will Councillor Stolte lose.

On the money side her income from the city is what is at risk – the income from the Region couldn’t be touched.

The city portion of the total salary is about $60,000 – assume 260 work days a year – divide the 60,000 by 260 and you get what she has to give up. It won’t put Stolte in a lower tax bracket.

Earlier in the meeting Commissioner Abrams commented on the matter of contrition saying in conversation with Stolte he came away with the impression that she was contrite but when he reads the opinion piece Stolte gave the Spectator he felt that she was not truly contrite and seemed to hint that he would have recommended a 30 day penalty.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan, one of the two Council members who filed a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner

Councillor Nisan said: “…you mentioned since the report that you’ve not heard the contrition that you heard privately. Does that mean you have an updated recommendation for a penalty for us at this time or are you able to provide some colour as to what you would have recommended had you not received that contrition.”

Abrams: “Let me answer the question this way. It’s in Council’s hands to deal with our recommendation in any way of wishes. And it’s quite reasonably simple to ask if the circumstances warrant something other than what we recommended in the report and I spoke to that so it’s acceptable for Council to take into account the counselors opinion pieces as published in the Spec for example.

“And so in the context of this matter, a sanction anywhere in the range of five to 30 days could be reasonably supported by the contents of the report and the circumstances directly tied to the report after it was finished and provided to the council and to the respondent. So that the counsellor public comments are relevant. “… relevant to councils consideration of the recommendations that appear in our report, simply because contrition did that play a role in our assessment.”

Councillor Bentevegnia said he wanted to “follow up a little bit on that question that Councillor Nisan mentioned in the report he thought was very, very explicit and very detailed.

Angelo Bentivegnia serving as the Chair of a Council Workshop

“The recommendation that you have put forward or I’ll say your office has put forward the circumstances were anything from a reprimand up to as the 90 days you mentioned. I know you’ve given us the situation where we have to make a decision but how does commission decide what is appropriate I know you have that range, but why didn’t you say a reprimand or why didn’t you say 90 days?

Sorry if I’m getting too direct. I’m just curious.”

Jeffrey Abrams responded: “Well, that’s that’s quite a fair question. And in fact that recommending a sanction is more art than science. There’s an important issue, breach of closed session confidentiality is an exceedingly important issue.

A reprimand is not another thing. It’s a statement by counsel that a member of council has fallen short of their ethical responsibilities. We do from time to time, I recommend a reprimand and it’s a meaningful sanction. A monetary penalty is a more significant sanction. And therein lies the question of what is the appropriate sanction. In our view and looking at other Integrity Commissioner reports and considering what we have done elsewhere.

Jeffrey Abrams: a partner in the firm Principles Integrity who serve as the Integrity Commissions for the city of Burlington.

And given what’s happened recently, with respect to this report, it’s not extraneous to the reporters relates to this particular matter. We think that somewhere in the range of five to 30 days is appropriate.

Now, that puts you a bit on the spot and we recognize that it’s very difficult for councils to meet in a disciplinary mode. We recognize that we do have some thoughts on how to do it better, but that is what the legislation requires it at present.

And so as we have indicated this is more art than science and it is now in your hands.

Council voted to accept the recommendation – 5 days with no pay.

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Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to take place online April 26th

By Staff

April 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Halton District School Board  families, staff and community members are invited to the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to raise awareness on historical and contemporary issues of identity, inclusion and human rights. The next session in the panel series will be:

Self-Determination and Anti-Colonial Practices:
Indigenous Rights, Education and Food Sovereignty
Tuesday, April 26 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.

This will be a virtual event, with the livestream linked on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca).
Registration is not required.

This session will not be recorded.

Panel speakers include:
• Marie Battiste, Mi’kmaw Educator, Author and Special Advisor at Cape Breton University, Professor Emerita, University of Saskatchewan
• Sheri Longboat, Associate Professor and Researcher, University of Guelph
• Tabitha Robin Martens, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
• Nancy Rowe, Education Consultant & Treaty Partner, Michizaagiig, Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Kwe

Those interested in attending the event can submit a question to the panel before or during the panel discussion through this Google Form: https://forms.gle/L5AxQvpErhR9wpkG9

“Each session in the series will explore how issues of identity and inclusion intersect with education,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

“This provides an opportunity to create awareness of multiple perspectives of insight and analysis on how individual identities can be reflected and engaged in the broader HDSB community. This panel series aligns with the Board’s commitment to raise awareness of diverse community perspectives and the need to broaden resources to support inclusion and student achievement, as reflected in the HDSB’s Multi-Year Plan 2020-2024 and the Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan – The Way Forward.”

Future sessions in the series include:
• Perspectives on Islam and Islamophobia (Tuesday, May 31 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.).

Previous panel sessions include Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (Feb. 7), Black Excellence: Today and Every Day (Feb. 28) and Two Spirit & Transgender Awareness: Beyond Bathrooms (March 29). Full recordings of these panel discussions are available to view on the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion and Human Rights webpage.

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Male Arrested in Human Trafficking Investigation in Burlington

By Staff

April 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has arrested a male in relation to a human trafficking investigation in Burlington.

Police initiated the investigation in January 2022, after a suspect was identified at a Burlington hotel. On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, investigators from the HRPS Human Trafficking Unit arrested 29-year-old Tyrelle Campbell of Etobicoke.

He has been charged with:

Tyrelle Campbell – arrested on trafficking charges – held  in custody pending a bail hearing.

• Trafficking of a Person Under 18
• Material Benefit from Sexual Services Provided by Person Under 18
• Advertise Sexual Services
• Exercising Control, Direction or Influence Over the Movement of a Person
• Procuring Person Under 18
• Material Benefit Resulting from Trafficking in Persons
• Householder Permitting Sexual Activity to Person Under 18
• Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images
• Make, Print or Publish Child Pornography
• Import or Distribute Child Pornography
• Possession of Child Pornography
• Fail to Comply with Release Order
• Fail to Attend Court

Campbell was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Police believe there are additional victims in regards to this investigation and are asking anyone who has come into contact with Tyrelle Campbell or has information to contact the Human Trafficking Unit at 905-825-4747 ext. 4674.

Campbell is known to go by the alias “Skoobz” and a photo of him has been attached to this media release.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

The Halton Regional Police Service firmly believes that every person has the right to feel safe in our community.

Victims of violence and/or sexual assault and witnesses are encouraged to contact the Halton Regional Police Service. The following is a list of valuable support services and resources in our region for victims of violence and/or sexual assault:

• Halton Regional Police Service Victim Services Unit 905-825-4777 ext. 5239 or by email at VictimServices@haltonpolice.ca
• Nina’s Place Sexual Assault and Domestic Assault Care Centre 905-336-4116 or 905-681-4880
• Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services (SAVIS) 905-875-1555 (24-hour crisis line)
• Radius Child & Youth Services 905-825-3242 (Oakville) or 1-855-744-9001
• Kid’s Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 (24-hour crisis line)
• THRIVE Counselling 905-845-3811 or 905-637-5256

Signs / Indicators of Human Trafficking
• Not being allowed to speak for themselves;
• Not having control of their own money or cellphone;
• Suddenly having a new or second cell phone with a secret number;
• Being controlled by others and escorted at all times;
• Not being allowed to contact family or friends;
• Withdrawing from family and friends;
• Providing rehearsed answers to casual questions;
• Being secretive about their activities;
• Showing signs of abuse, such as bruising, cigarette burns, fractures, etc.
• Having a new boyfriend, girlfriend or friend who they won’t introduce to friends/family; and
• Having new items (clothing, jewelry etc.) outside their financial means.

What Should I Do if I Think Someone is a Victim of Trafficking?
If there is immediate danger or if you suspect someone is being trafficked, call 9-1-1.
You may also call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.

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Council votes unanimously to penalize Councillor Stolte five days pay for breaching the Code of Conduct

By Pepper Parr

April 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After three and a half hours of debate, Burlington city council voted last night to accept the recommendation set out in the Integrity Commissioners report that said ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte had breached the Council Code of Conduct on two occasions.

The penalty was to not pay Stolte for five work days.

Integrity Commissioner Jeffrey Abrams

Jeffrey xxx, the Commissioner who did all the talking related to the report, said  had he been aware that Stolte had written an Opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator he would have recommended a 30 day without pay penalty.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

He said that in arriving at what the penalty should be he had taken into account that he felt Stolte was contrite. When he learned that Stolte had written the Opinion piece (the same opinion piece appeared in the Gazette five days earlier) he said he would have recommended a 30 day period of time without pay.

The decision by Council to accept the recommendation was unanimous.

In closing the meeting Mayor Marianne Meed Ward began the process of trying to heal the differences and urged her colleagues to look at how much they had achieved this term of office.

The meeting was a hybrid event that had Councillors Nisan and Galbraith taking part from their homes while the rest of Council was in chambers.  The complaint to the Integrity was filed by Nisan and Galbraith.

City Manager took part in the meeting and commented on several occasions.
The Gazette reported last night that Councillor Stolte had said she had begun to realize she “was not cut out for this kind of work” and said she would not be running for office in October.

Stolte set out the numerous occasions when she said she had tried to have her council members look for ways to ensure that the public had more information on just what takes place in a Closed sessions of Council.

Of the two breaches that the Integrity Commissioner identified the Bateman High school property purchase was the one that drew the most attention and concern.
Councillor Stolte told her colleagues that she was not going to apologize for what she had done.

A separate report from the Closed Session Investigator is due early in May. It will report on the review it has done of the Closed Session practices of the administration.

Councillor Galbraith made a strong point when he said Staff bring a recommendation to go into a Closed Session of Council but it is Council who make the decision to do so.

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Stolte announces she will not run for the ward 4 Council seat in October

By Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte announced she would not be running for the Council seat in October.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte announced during the Integrity Commissioners report that she had come to the conclusion that she was not cut out for this kind of work and said that she would not be running for Council in October.

Council has yet to determine what the penalty would be for the two breaches of the Code of Good Governance.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman asks her to reconsider the decision.

 

 

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