Premier missing in action - not a peep during the holiday - expected to make announcement soon

By Pepper Parr

January 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Have you noticed what is different this time?

When the Delta variant was hospitalizing hundreds and scores were dying daily the Prime Minister was before the public almost daily.

When the Delta variant of Covid19 was running rampant the Prime Minister stood at a lectern outside the front door of his house, almost every day of the week, reporting on what was happening.

He left the country with the sense that someone had their finger on the pulse of what we were dealing with.

During the Omicron wave the Premier was hard to find.

The Omicron variant, while not as devastating in terms of the reaction most people experience, this variant moves from person to person faster than anything seen or experienced before.

Cabinet met on the weekend and we are to expect an announcement – when?  No one is able to say.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore

The sense over the holiday weekend is that people were on their own.  Stay home, hunker down and wear the mask. The Provincial Medical Officer of Health did say this wave could be with us for six to eight weeks and that there was more information coming.

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ONE Burlington plans a virtual event to celebrate the diversity of faith and culture in Burlington

By Staff

December 31st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With a foundation in faith, ONE Burlington (OB) celebrates the diversity of faith and culture in Burlington, Halton and area, by organizing engaging events that recognize the dynamic links between faith, cultural, environmental and service initiatives in our communities. We invite you to share in our upcoming seasonal events for winter 2022.

In recent winters, our events included World Religion Day, World InterFaith Harmony Week, the Share the Love Food Bank Drive and Black History Month – events endorsed by the InterFaith Council of Halton, the InterFaith Development Education Association, the Halton Multicultural Council and the Hamilton InterFaith Peace Group.

Our next event is World Religion Day (WRD) which is celebrated in January. On Sunday January 16th  2022 our online WRD will bring believers from different world religions together to discuss the future of faith from the perspective of their own. After WRD Simcoe (1pm) and WRD Durham (2pm), WRD Halton / Hamilton begins at 3pm.

The keynote presentation is by Dr. Brian Carwana from Encounter World Religions Centre, Guelph. Other speakers  are Hanadi Al-Masri of the Halton Multicultural Council, Rabbi Jordan Cohen of Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, media personality Reverend Michael Coren of St. Christopher’s Church in Burlington,  Sita Jayaraman of the Halton Catholic District School Board, and Ervad Mehbad Dastur of the Ontario Zoroastrian Community Foundation in Oakville.

Participants and attendees must register for our WRD Halton / Hamilton event through this Zoom Registration link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUld-yspj8rE9bArZrJDOpR7kor_nNDP3qF

ONE Burlington events are free and funded in part by the City of Burlington and the Government of Canada. If you don’t want to receive eMail notices about our events, please let us know by entering UnSubscribe in the body and/or Subject line of a Reply eMail. If you’ve requested this before, we apologize and will double check.

 

Best wishes to you and yours for 2022,  from the ONE Burlington Executive and Event Committees

OneBurlington.net     FB.com/OneBurlington     Instagram.com/OneBurlington     Twitter.com/OneBurlington

 

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A light shade of blue has been chosen as the colour for 2022

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each year the Pantone Institute selects a colour that sometimes become the fashion colour.

For 2022, Laurie Pressman, vice president of the institute. “When we select the Pantone color of the year, it must be emblematic of what’s taking place at a moment in time. We were looking at a color that seamlessly moves between digital and physical.”

Will this shade of blue come to represent what 2022 is going to look like?

Ultimately, this new shade—and even the act of creating it—is meant to represent what many are hoping for in 2022: a fresh start for a world that knows that old systems and habits can no longer stand up to the challenges of today, let alone the days to come.

Ultimate Gray was chosen as the colour of the year for 2021. The blue chosen for 2022 is a bit of an improvement.

“We’re entering this different time where we’re reimagining our future, trying to rewrite our lives and acknowledging all the unknown before us,” Pressman says. “Looking at the world with different eyes has brought us—and will continue to bring us—new solutions.”

Time will tell.

What colour did Pantone choose for 2021 – and did it reflect the way the year went?

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Waterfront development: likely to be the top story in 2022

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Sticky bit of news came out the last few weeks of last year.  It will probably be the top story between now and the municipal election this October.

The hotel is set back from the street, does not loom over the road, gives a clear line of site to the Pier

On a site referred to by the planner for the developer as Burlington’s Ground Zero, there are plans to demolish the existing Waterfront Hotel and build two towers: one 35 storeys, the other 30 storeys.

What makes it sticky is some of the politics.  The city has created a new Official Plan that still has a few steps to go before it is THE Official Plan.

There were changes in where growth was to take place in the plan.  More than 40 organizations have filed appeals against different parts of the Official Plan – which is not all that unusual.

The podium will butt up against the street and have the two towers on top

What was unusual is the grandfathering of a development application that city council has said is not complete.

For the average Burlingtonian all this politicking doesn’t get much attention – however the eventual results will have a very significant impact on Spencer Smith Park which is seen as the jewel in the crown that is the city’s waterfront.

A small group of people formed Plan B – which sets out what the downtown lake edge and the core of the city could look like – if only there were real citizen input.

Plan B really wants your help.

They are arguing that it is your city and you deserve the right to have input on decisions made.

On the political side the provincial Minister of Housing announced that the incomplete application to redevelop the Waterfront Hotel site would be grandfathered, that it will come under the old Urban Growth centre.

From this – the site as it is today…

 

... to this. The planning proposal currently before the city.

You may have heard that the application for the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment was submitted to Steve Clark, Ontario Minister Of Municipal Affairs & Housing, on November 10th, effectively eliminating two intensification arguments (MTSA & UGC designations) used by developers trying to justify increasingly high condo developments downtown.

That’s all true… but did you know that the City in a 7-0 unanimous vote of Council supported the Planning Department’s recommendation to deem the application incomplete.

It seemed logical to the PLAN B group that this application should be re-submitted when it was complete.

For those who care about how the downtown core of the city is developed and what happens to Spencer Smith Park the Plan B people ask you to “Stay tuned, because things have just gotten a lot more interesting!”

Follow what they are up to on their Facebook page. Click HERE

Related news stories:

There are other options

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Hospital under pressure - asks that only the really ill attend

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Joseph Brant Hospital put the following on their web site:

Hospital visits

This wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed Joseph Brant Hospital’s Emergency Department under pressure.

Joseph Brant Hospital – under pressure.

If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms, you do not need to come to the ED. Coming to the ED risks exposing vulnerable people to the virus. Call your primary care provider or TeleHealth Ontario for advice on managing mild COVID-19 symptoms at home.

We understand the challenges involved in obtaining PCR testing, but our ED cannot administer COVID-19 tests upon request. If you are eligible under new provincial guidelines, you may book your COVID-19 test at halton.ca

If you visit the ED, you will be seen based on the severity of your illness. Because of the high volume of patients, many of whom arrive by ambulance, please expect longer than normal waiting times to be seen by a physician.

The JBH Emergency Department is safe and our nurses and doctors are ready to care for those patients who need our help the most. Please help us by saving the ED for emergencies.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

It’s not the most reassuring statement.  A comment from a reader:  “Right now my friend we are all on the same ship and at the mercy of the winds because I don’t think there is anyone at the wheel and if there is he or she does not know how to read a compass and they don’t have any charts to guide them.”

The province no longer has access to the raw data – they have stopped counting the new infections and are instead counting the people who have been admitted to hospital and those in an ICU beds.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario Medical Officer of Health

Dr. Kieran Moore, the Provincial Medical Officer of Health spoke to the public yesterday (Friday) and did his best to assure people that while things were tough everyone is going to have to tough it out while we all deal with a very very contagious virus that does not appear to be as damaging as the Delta version of Covid19.

There will be all kinds of misinformation out there – go to original sources and listen to the details carefully.  We have not faced anything like this before..

The medical people are telling us to wear masks, be with people who are fully vaccinated – get fully vaccinated and stay six feet away from people when you can.

Related news stories.

Medical Officer of Health updates public

Current rules on how the pandemic in Ontario is being managed.   Who gets what and where do they go

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If we do this right 2022 could be a Happy Year

And so we get another chance.
Maybe this time we will get it right.
Join us in this clarion call.

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COVID19 testing_ who gets what and where do they go.

By Staff

December 31st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In response to the rapidly spreading and highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is updating its COVID-19 testing and isolation guidelines. Key changes include the following:

  • Symptomatic testing will be available for high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings.
  • Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are presumed positive and they should follow isolation and/or self-monitoring guidelines.
  • Testing for asymptomatic contacts of cases is generally no longer recommended, except for high-risk contacts/individuals that are part of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings, as recommended by public health.
  • Positive rapid antigen tests will no longer require PCR confirmation.
  • Based on the latest scientific evidence, individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days if they are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12, and if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.

Eligible Groups for PCR Testing

Effective December 31, 2021, PCR testing will only be recommended for individuals if they belong to the following groups:

  • Symptomatic people who fall into one of the following groups:
    • Hospitalized patients
    • Patients in Emergency Departments, at the discretion of the treating clinician
    • Patient-facing health care workers
    • Staff, residents, essential care providers, and visitors in hospitals and congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, temporary foreign worker settings, and correctional institutions
    • Outpatients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered
    • Underhoused or homeless
  • People who are from First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and individuals travelling into these communities for work
  • Symptomatic elementary and secondary students and education staff who have received a PCR self-collection kit through their school
  • People on admission/transfer to or from hospital or congregate living setting
  • High-risk contacts and asymptomatic/symptomatic people in the context of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, other congregate living settings and institutions, and other settings as directed by the local public health unit
  • Individuals, and one accompanying caregiver, with written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager, OHIP
  • Asymptomatic testing in hospital, long-term care, retirement homes and other congregate living settings and Institutions as per provincial guidance and/or Directives

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Individuals who are vaccinated, as well as children under 12 who have symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms. These individuals can end isolation after five days if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours, and all public health and safety measures, such as masking and physical distancing, are followed

Individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised will be required to isolate for 10 days.

If you are someone who works or lives in a high risk-health care setting (i.e., hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, congregate living settings) you must notify your employer. Individuals who work or live in these settings should not attend work for 10 days from their symptom onset, or from their date of diagnosis. To ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings may have the opportunity to return to work early on day seven of their isolation, with a negative PCR test, or two negative rapid antigen tests on day six and seven. Speak with your employer or occupational health and safety department for more information.

All household contacts must also isolate for the same duration as the person with symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should also consider informing close contacts beyond your household contacts by providing them with the link to Ontario.ca/exposed. Individuals who are eligible for a lab-based PCR test are encouraged to get tested.

If you have concerns about your symptoms, contact your doctor, health care provider or Telehealth for more information and guidance. If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 but are feeling unwell, isolate until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.

If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

If you are fully vaccinated and you have no symptoms, and do not live with the positive case, you are advised to:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days since you last interacted with the positive case
  • Maintain masking, physical distancing and adherence to all other public health measures if leaving home
  • Do not visit any high-risk settings or individuals who may be at higher risk of illness (e.g., seniors) for 10 days from your last exposure.

If you are not fully vaccinated, or are immunocompromised, you must isolate immediately for 10 days following your last contact. If you live with the positive case, you must isolate for the length of their isolation period.

Individuals who are eligible for testing are encouraged to get tested.

If you live, work, attend, volunteer, or have been admitted in a high-risk health care setting, you must notify your employer and should not visit the high-risk setting for 10 days since your last exposure or symptom onset, or from your date of diagnosis. To ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings will have the opportunity to return to work early on day seven of their isolation with a negative PCR test, or two negative rapid antigen tests on day six and seven. If you live in a high-risk setting, you should isolate regardless of vaccination status.

If you have COVID-19 based on a positive test result

If you test positive from a PCR, rapid molecular or a rapid antigen test and you are fully vaccinated or under 12 years of age, you must isolate for five days from the positive test result if you have no symptoms or from symptom onset and until their symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms).

If you are partially vaccinated, unvaccinated or immunocompromised, you should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of your test (whichever came sooner).

In addition, household contacts of individuals who have tested positive must also self-isolate during this time. Individuals must isolate regardless of their vaccination status.

You should also notify your close contacts. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first.

Appropriate Use of Rapid Antigen Testing

Ontario currently has a limited supply of rapid antigen tests that are being prioritized for health care and highest risk settings. This includes rapid antigen test use for “test-to-work” in which asymptomatic staff in these sectors can return to work when they would otherwise be on isolation at home.

Focusing the use of rapid antigen tests for these sectors will help keep hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes and congregate settings operating as safely as possible. As of December 20, a total of 50 million rapid antigen tests have been deployed across more than 49,000 sites since the beginning of the pandemic, with the vast majority (approximately 41 million) deployed to these priority sectors.

Rapid antigen testing may be used to confirm if a symptomatic individual has COVID-19, with no requirement for a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test.

In addition to Ontario directly procuring additional rapid tests where possible, the province is continuing to urge the federal government to make more rapid tests available to provinces as quickly as possible.

How to Access Supports While Isolating

If you require assistance while isolating, visit COVID-19: Support for people. People can also contact their public health unit for many isolation supports including:

  • Use of isolation facilities;
  • Referral to community supports and agencies;
  • Mental health supports;
  • Courier and delivery supports for food and necessities;
  • Additional resources available to support isolation through the High Priority Communities strategy.

Employers cannot threaten, fire, or penalize an employee in any other way because the employee took or plans on taking job-protected leave due to COVID-19, and doctors notes are not required for employees to use the leave. You can learn more about job-protected leave here.

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Province’s GO-VAXX Bus coming to Burlington Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 – Appointments Required

By Staff

December 31st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The GO-VAXX Mobile Bus Clinic will be coming to Burlington in the new year on Monday, Jan. 24 and Monday, Jan. 31. Both mobile vaccine clinics will take place at Sherwood Forest Park.

The clinic at Sherwood Forest Park will administer an Mrna COVID-19 vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, for first, second, and booster doses, as well as the paediatric Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11. Approximately 320 vaccines will be administered during each mobile bus clinic.

Please note that GO-VAXX mobile bus clinics are now by appointment only. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

To book an appointment:
Visit the COVID-19 vaccination portal or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
Appointments will be available for booking at 8 a.m. the day before the clinic. Once appointments are full, the GO-VAXX location will be removed as an option from the provincial booking site. Please note that appointments usually fill up within one hour.

GO-VAXX Mobile Bus Clinic details:

• Dates: Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 and Monday, Jan. 31, 2022
• Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Location: Sherwood Forest Park at 5270 Fairview St., Burlington
• Eligibility: Who Can Get Vaccinated

Appointments are required.

The City of Burlington actively submitted an application to the Province of Ontario for the GO-VAXX bus to come to Burlington. The Province of Ontario operates the GO-VAXX mobile vaccination clinics as part of the province’s strategy to get COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians. The number of available vaccinations at the mobile clinics is determined by the Province of Ontario.

The City sought to support vaccination efforts by securing an appropriate local site to host the mobile clinics and share this additional vaccine opportunity with Burlington residents. The mobile clinics are one more opportunity to get vaccinated, but there are many other ways to do so, including Halton Region clinics, pharmacies, community and paediatric clinics and doctors’ offices. Halton Region Covid-19 vaccination clinic information can be found at Halton – COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics.

The City is also working with the Province to bring two walk-in indoor clinics to our city early in 2022.

Further details will be communicated with the public once confirmed.

 

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City continues emergency response to ensure business continuity and prepares for COVID-19 impacts in 2022

By Staff

December 31st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In a lengthy media release put out by the city administration they said  “The number one priority continues to be the health and safety of residents and staff.

The key focus for the City right now is continuity of operations, given rising infections in the community and subsequently among City staff.

To date, there remain few instances of City workplace transmission in City facilities. City staff continue to monitor COVID-19 impacts to ensure robust health and safety procedures are in place in our facilities and are working to ensure essential services are delivered for Burlington residents.

Throughout the holidays, the City’s Emergency Control Group continues to meet to review City service programs and impacts. The City will continue to communicate updates to residents as we all continue to live through this evolving pandemic.

Pandemic response and updates

 The City wants to ensure the people of Burlington that the City continues to monitor the COVID-19 impacts and prepare. This is a dynamic situation and City staff are monitoring daily for any federal, provincial, or regional announcements that would impact City operations. Burlington City Council is provided regular briefings and are ready to take action if a City Council meeting should be required over the holidays. Verbal updates on the COVID-19 emergency response will continue to be provided to City Council in the new year at the Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee.

The next COVID-19 emergency response verbal update is planned for Jan. 13, 2022.

City of Burlington Emergency Control Group

The City’s Emergency Control Group has been regularly meeting over the holidays. This group has decision-making responsibility related to time-sensitive and immediate actions to address the emergency at hand, including operations and crisis communications. The Emergency Control group includes the Mayor, City Manager and senior City leadership from all service areas, Burlington Fire leadership, Health and Safety staff and a Burlington Hydro representative. City Council continues to be responsible for overall governance of the City and strategic decisions.

Protecting City staff and our community

Throughout the pandemic, the City has taken proactive steps to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. This includes implementing a staff COVID-19 vaccination policy, adjustments to building ventilation, occupancy limits, daily wellness screening, mandatory masks and a variety of personal protection equipment. Respiratory protection (N95 or KN95 respirators) were offered early on in the pandemic to staff that were deemed an elevated risk to protect them and Burlington residents. To address the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the City has taken additional steps, including making medical masks and tight-fitting respirators (N95, KN95, etc.), available to all staff working on-site.

For higher risk settings, the City is using rapid antigen tests to ensure safety and operational continuity. The City continues to conduct case and contact management for the workplace, regularly updating isolation and testing protocols based on evolving Public Health requirements and to mitigate risk. City staff are advised to work from home and not attend the workplace if they are feeling unwell.

For part-time staff, the City has re-introduced up to 10 paid shifts for approved absences related to COVID-19 to help take care of our people.

The City is acutely aware that the infectious rate of the Omicron variant has the ability to impact City delivery of services and continues to monitor carefully to take steps as needed. Even though hospitalizations currently remain lower with the Omicron variant, the need for people to self-isolate if they get Omicron creates an elevated risk for staffing levels and continuity of services. It remains critical for people to continue to follow all health measures to reduce opportunity for spread and get vaccinated. All requirements for proof of vaccination, screening, masking and physical distancing remain in place at City facilities. The City is working to limit service disruptions to essential public safety services for the community.

Outdoor and active at home recreation options

Residents are encouraged to get outside and enjoy the outdoors responsibly, continuing to follow the advice from public health. There are a number of opportunities to remain active such as the Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond, 15 neighbourhood rink locations, six City designated tobogganing areas and walking/biking on trails. Visiting parks and open spaces is another outdoor recreation opportunity. For a list of parks, playgrounds and trails, visit burlington.ca/outdoorplay. Options to stay active at home are also available online at burlington.ca/activeathome.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward added that: “Your City Council and staff are taking all actions necessary to ensure you continue to receive the services you rely on. We also regularly connect with our partners at the federal, provincial and regional levels to offer our help as needed, and advocate for our community where necessary. We will get through this together as we have so far. Thank you for continuing to do your part, follow health measures, and get vaccinated. We know the last 22 months haven’t been easy for anyone, and you’ve made many sacrifices. Your compassion for each other, your resilience and creativity to find new ways to safely come together, has been a shining light through these difficult days.”

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager Tim Commisso

“It is important the City continues to deliver essential services to our community and we want to assure the public we are working to help us all get through this wave as safely as possible. The City’s Emergency Control Group continues to meet regularly throughout the holiday closure and City staff are at work delivering City programs and services and responding to COVID-19. This is a dynamic situation.

Although there remain few instances of City workplace transmission in City facilities, we know 51 per cent of all City staff COVID-19 infections have occurred in the last two weeks since the pandemic began. The Omicron variant is highly infectious and we continue to review plans for business continuity and essential delivery of services for our community.”

 

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Unmasked skaters using Discovery Pond in Spender Smith Park

By Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are still doing it to ourselves.

The advice from the MoH is to get outside and get a lot of fresh air and stay in wear a mask whenever and wherever you can.

Last evening a reader reported there were between 120-130 people on the Discovery Pond ice rink or surrounding benches in Spencer Smith Park at one time and fewer than 10% were masked. Probably 10% of skaters were less than 5 years old and thus unvaccinated.

No social distancing.

“Show some leadership and require everyone to be masked up. Don’t wait for the overworked Halton Public Health Director to react” said Doug Cunningham.

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Provincial MOH sets out how the province will face the Omicron virus - less testing, more isolation, and wear the masks

By Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore took to the microphone for a media event to explain what the people of Ontario are up against with a Omicron Covid19 variant that is now at a 50% positivity rate.

Moore said the virus is within the community and that it didn’t make a lot of sense to measure what we already know.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore

He told his audience that he expects it to take six to eight weeks for the variant to run its course and in that period of time the limited resources the province has in terms of testing material will be used to protect those most vulnerable.
There are limits to the number of testing kits available. The RAT kits should be used to test if you are ill before you head for work and not used to determine if it is safe for you to go out socially.

The province is going to rely on data from the hospitals on the number of people who arrive at the hospital and have to be hospitalized or placed in an Intensive Care Unit.

Moore has chosen to believe that Ontarians have behaved “brilliantly” “which got us through the Delta variant and he expects the population to behave the same as we deal with Omicron”.

Schools in Ontario will open on Wednesday January 5th: there are more than enough masks to ensure students can be masked if they have to be.

Moore said the medical community now knows that the at risk period for those who think they are infected is the first two days when they may not know they were infected and the three days after which is the period of time they will “shed” the virus the most.

The message was: If you feel ill – stay at home and if you don’t feel better in a few days – two or three – then head to the hospital.

He urged employers not to press employees for test results because the resources needed to do the testing are in very very short supply – adding that the supply problems are a global issue.

Moore was quite upbeat- he said everyone was going through a “knowledge transition” period and that “we are not throwing in the towel”.

Premier Doug Ford did not appear with Kieran Moore.

Moore made it very clear that we are dealing with a very dynamic and a very fluid situation that he was confident we would get through.
It is going to be a bumpy ride.

A young woman I work with was in the office kitchen putting some food in the microwave. She was maskless and said the really good news was that no one was dying from Omicron. She seemed prepared to deal with being sick for a couple of days.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, is updating its COVID-19 testing and isolation guidelines. Key changes include the following:

Symptomatic testing will be available for high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings.

Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are presumed positive and they should follow isolation and/or self-monitoring guidelines.
Testing for asymptomatic contacts of cases is generally no longer recommended, except for high-risk contacts/individuals who are part of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings, as recommended by public health.

Positive rapid antigen tests will no longer require PCR confirmation.

Based on the latest scientific evidence, individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days if they are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12, and if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.

Eligible Groups for PCR Testing

Effective December 31, 2021, PCR testing will only be recommended for individuals if they belong to the following groups:

Symptomatic people who fall into one of the following groups:

Hospitalized patients
Patients in Emergency Departments, at the discretion of the treating clinician
Patient-facing health care workers
Staff, residents, essential care providers, and visitors in hospitals and congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, temporary foreign worker settings, and correctional institutions
Outpatients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered
Underhoused or homeless
People who are from First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and individuals travelling into these communities for work
Symptomatic elementary and secondary students and education staff who have received a PCR self-collection kit through their school
People on admission/transfer to or from hospital or congregate living setting
High-risk contacts and asymptomatic/symptomatic people in the context of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, other congregate living settings and institutions, and other settings as directed by the local public health unit
Individuals, and one accompanying caregiver, with written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager, OHIP
Asymptomatic testing in hospital, long-term care, retirement homes and other congregate living settings and Institutions as per provincial guidance and/or Directives

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Individuals who are vaccinated, as well as children under 12 who have symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms. These individuals can end isolation after five days if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours, and all public health and safety measures, such as masking and physical distancing, are followed.

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Last quarter of the year was as drab and disappointing as 2020's year end. 2022 offers challenges.

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

2021 has been a year we are not going to forget quickly. We have learned that major changes are coming but we don’t know yet precisely what they will be. A look back at 2021 might give us a hint – it will certainly remind us of what worked and what didn’t.

Regional and City disputes that dominated the year’s news came began coming to a head in October. Mid month the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) agreed with the lawyers (there were 20+ of them on the call) that the Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) could be lifted except for several properties along Fairview between Brant and Drury Lane.

By this point, the ICBL had frozen developments in several areas for a couple of years. The Gazette reported regularly on the Waterfront Hotel development that held the required public pre-application meeting and revealed their plans for a 35-storey tower and a 30-storey tower that would sit atop a 4-storey podium at the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore Road.

On October 21st another pre-application meeting took place, this one for a development at Brant and Prospect – 789-795 Brant Street. There was no mention of how high the building would go other than noting that the proposed development includes a podium with a height of 7 storeys facing Brant Street. At hearings, city witnesses failed to bring forth compelling evidence of shadow issues from the new developments.

The Gazette criticized Mayor Marianne Meed Ward for becoming relatively mum on waterfront developments in what is described as the football – very much at odds with her vision of the city in the run up to her election.

They were first described as “mobility hubs” – then described as MTSA Major Transit Service Areas and designated as the location for significant intensification. High rise towers would dominate. That circle at the bottom of the graphic – a space about the size of a kitchen – did not get to keep the MTSA designation – it was just a simple bus terminal.

Mayor Meed Ward listening to residents at a public meeting.

As for Meed Ward’s vision of the city, an Engagement Plan was detailed regarding public consultation on Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) meetings. The MTSA is a designation given to the Go stations in the Burlington area, around which developments were planned for the City’s vision of their Official Plan. Key developments around this area are intended to create appropriate intensification and the protection of established neighbourhoods by focusing future population growth.  These are decisions that will shape the future of Burlington: public input is paramount.

Once the site of the Pearle Street Cafe about to become another high rise development making the area a high rise ghetto.

By the end of the month, the Ontario Land Tribunal ruled in favour of the developer Carriage Gate Homes for a 29-storey mixed-use condominium development on the northeast corner of Pearl and Lakeshore. Former Mayor Rick Goldring laid the blame at Meed Ward’s feet causing the Gazette to wonder if Goldring was throwing his hat in the ring for his old gig come next year’s municipal election. The issue in all Goldring’s finger-pointing was that the decision he was coming out against was decided based on the MTSA designation of the tiny Brant St. terminal, a hold-over from his time in charge.

Municipally, City Hall had a slew of items on the agenda in October. They continued to debate the upcoming budget, that would carry on until the end of the year. Mayor Meed Ward hosted Ontario’s Big City Mayor (OBCM) caucus meeting on October 14th; the meeting largely centered around demands for more action from the federal and provincial governments to aid municipalities through the pandemic recovery. Meed Ward used the opportunity to talk about the impact of lost revenues and added expenses on taxes. The OBCM meeting took place at the new Burlington hotel, the Pearle Hotel and Spa on the Waterfront. The Pearle’s opening was overshadowed by a chaotic calendar year but will surely become a premier destination in Burlington.

A Burlington Gazette readers’ survey, on which of the five new Councillors had shown the most growth over their term, yielded favourable results for Councillors Rory Nisan, Ward 3, and Kelvin Galbraith, Ward 1, two councillors the Gazette identified as most often backing the mayor.

In early October the City laid out rules for vaccination of staff that broke down into three categories: vaccinated, exemption, and testing. The third option allowed for staff to be regularly tested instead of being vaccinated, in stark contrast to the federal government’s approach that you get vaccinated by a certain day – if you’re not, you’re on unpaid leave.  The municipal policy was made much tough later in the year.

Halton Environmental Network brought Katharine Hayhow to the Region virtually. Weeks later the very effective Executive Director got poached by the Regional government where it is doubtful she will be able to do what she is very effective at.

Much of the positive stories to cling onto in 2021 came from the way generous Burlingtonians found new ways to give back despite the pandemic; by October they were offered some regional help. The Halton Region Community Investment Fund opened applications for not-for-profits that enhance the health, safety, and well-being of Halton residents. Virtual activities continued in the community, as the Art Galley ran creative Zoom events for the artists and hobbyists, and the Halton Environmental Network hosted a virtual discussion with United Nations Climate leader, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe.

Other Burlington organizations had moved to in-person offerings. The RBG ran an innovative interactive exhibit on artwork called ‘Seeing the Invisible’, featuring a range of contemporary and modern artwork complemented by AR or Augmented Reality Technology. AR is a technology that can add or augment any viewer’s perception of their environment.

Pressure from citizens resulted in the refurbishment of was once a water trough.

The Heritage Advisory Committee rehabilitated what has been known as the King Edward VII Fountain, a fountain with over 100 years of history in Burlington.  The Kind Edward VII Fountain was not the only Heritage Advisory Committee story of the month. A member of the Heritage Advisory Committee received a grant from the Committee. The recipient of the grant did recuse himself from the vote, and received the funds for an appropriate project. Still, questions about a conflict of interest were unavoidable.

Now it is just a bus terminal – there was a time when the terminal got used to justify a 26 story tower.

On Nov. 10, 2021, the City of Burlington received official notification of the boundary adjustment of the City’s Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designation from the Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Minister also confirmed the removal of the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designation in the downtown core. If that reads in the context of this year in review, that it was a long time coming, it certainly was. What’s more – for some significant downtown Burlington developments the decision came too late. Seven buildings were grandfathered in based on previous designations.

The Marsden’s still won’t believe the decision is final.

The City suggested the decision sent a clear signal “that the scale and intensity of recent development activity in Burlington’s historic downtown was driven by misuse and reliance on the UGC and MTSA and was not sustainable given on-the-ground realities of physical and social infrastructure.” Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns led a well-attended walking tour through downtown Burlington educating those interested in the grandfathered development sites. The mood presented at the tour around the City fighting the decision wasn’t optimistic, “What I cannot do is completely stop them,” Kearns said. Earlier in the year, the City had essentially celebrated the designations for a new UGC and the removal of the MTSA as done deals, this proved not to be the case.

The battle to see something much different on the Waterfront Hotel property is being spearheaded by the Plan B people.

The Gazette learned an application had been filed for, what the Gazette has been calling, the Two Towers that Darko Vranich wants to put in the space now occupied by the Waterfront Hotel.

The application had been filed on October 26th, it wasn’t available to the public until late November – more questions about transparency had to be asked.

Budget deliberations occupied much of the month at City Hall. The 2022 proposed City tax increase sat at 5.45%. Each member of Council put forward a motion setting out changes they wanted to see to the proposed budget. 2022 will be a municipal election year so Council, Mayor Meed Ward in particular, wanted to get that number down. The public had an opportunity to weigh in and ask questions at a Virtual Budget Townhall to be emceed by the Mayor on November 22, 2021. On November 29th Council went through a budget exercise including a five-year simulation on what the public can expect – the assumption being that there will be no radical changes in the economic environment. The average projected city tax increase over that period came out to 5.17%, a tough pill to swallow.

Once THE taxi cab company in the city had to close – insurance rates skyrocketed and drivers could not be found for the vehicles.

Effective Friday, Nov. 26th, Burlington Taxi closed its service. Scott Wallace gave a very complete outline of just how the business he has run since he was a 19-year-old unraveled.  Uber was what Wallace called the first of a thousand cuts, but he was never able to recover from COVID-19. Then there was an issue of insurance, consolidation in the taxi market resulted in skyrocketing rates that went from $5000 a year per car up to $18,000 per year per car. Wallace needed a change in the municipal bylaw – the city said it was unable to make the change within the necessary time frame.  Five days later the city made the needed change but by that time Burlington Taxi was out of business and Blue Line in Hamilton took over some of the then available taxi slots in Burlington.

Burlington observed Remembrance Day with a ceremony at the Naval Monument in Spencer Smith Park and another at the Cenotaph by City Hall, in the recently unveiled Veteran’s Square. The event in Veteran’s Square was advertised as a virtual one but the city was unable to keep people away – Brant Street was thronged by crowds, arriving to pay respects. The City encouraged applicants to run outdoor neighbourhood ice rinks through the winter months. Canadian Music Hall of Famer Steven Page put on a show at the Performing arts Centre on November 13th. The BPAC LIVE & LOCAL Music Series returned to the Community Studio Theatre on Sunday, November 14th, featuring local artist Hayley Verrall.

Faced with the void left by Burlington Taxi’s closure on November 30th, City Hall issued temporary licenses on December 7th to drivers who could be on the road by the end of the day. Blue Line of Hamilton was providing the dispatching service.

City Council passed a budget on December 14th including a 4.62% tax increase. Council managed to decrease the size of the budget Staff had presented but by less than 1%. City Council will go into an election year with their second consecutive highest city tax increase under Mayor Meed Ward, it’s a figure the mayor will not be pleased with.

City managed to announce a tax rate before it was passed by Council.

What followed the budget announcement was a peculiar, related story. The City issues City Talk, a print piece that is delivered to Burlington residents, in the December 14th issue of City Talk they announced: “CITY COUNCIL APPROVES 2022 CITY BUDGET: BURLINGTON TAXES REMAIN BELOW AVERAGE IN COMPARISON OF LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES.”  So, what’s the problem? City Talk was mailed before the budget was approved!,,

City Council agreed on December 6th to make a formal offer to purchase the Bateman High School property for a reported $50 million. There are all kinds of details that are not known; the HDSB will retain some of the space, Brock University is in talks with the city to rent space, Tech Place is going to need an affordable place to operate and has eyes on the Bateman location, and the library might become a tenant as well.

Santa appeared throughout the city spread good cheer, gift and Holiday Greetings

Throughout December Burlington engaged in a measure of holiday cheer. The Burlington Holiday Market went on as planned showcasing local business owners after its hasty approval process, the city and its organizers hope to make it an annual affair, there were provisions in the arrangement for exactly that. The fire department got plenty of mileage out of their antique firetrucks this December: the antique fire truck filled in for a sleigh to cart Santa around town for a socially distanced Santa Clause parade. A nice substitute but everyone hopes for a return to a traditional Santa Claus Parade next year.

Elsewhere the antiques were on hand, manned by retired firefighters, to add a festive flair to the Join the Joy event supporting Joseph Brant Hospital’s Labour and Delivery Unit. Frosty’s Village program, organized by several mothers to spur donations to the Burlington Food Bank, featured a concert of Christmas carols. The Sound of Music drummed up funds with their Silent (Night) Auction, with guitars, show posters, and albums signed by popular musicians.

A popular event that was in its 5th year raised funds for the Arts.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre organized the Festival of Trees, an indoor forest of beautifully decorated artificial Christmas trees. The Festival of Trees held a silent auction to bid on the trees, all proceeds support the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. It was the most wonderful time of the year, or so it appeared to be for a moment.

On December 2nd the first case of the lab-confirmed case and two probable cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 were identified in Halton Region. By mid-month, responding to the rising number of Covid19 infections and the rate at which the Omicron variant was replicating, the province once again increased lockdown measures.

COVID-19 cases in Halton remained manageable compared to the province at large with 3128 active cases as of December 29th in the Halton region, a drop in the bucket compared to the 76,992 active cases provincially. Ontario reported a record-breaking 10,436 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Regionally the total case count has reached 22570, in Burlington it is at 5970.

Mayor Meed Ward shows up at GO-VAXX event to apologize for something she didn’t do.

In the face of the rising threat of the Omicron variant Burlingtonians were eager to receive their booster shots and showed up in droves to a GO-VAXX bus parked at Burlington Centre on December 27th only to be turned away. A late change to appointment-based booking rather than walk-ins turned the GO-VAXX scene chaotic, people who lined up for the booster shot had to be turned away.

December is the time of year for celebration, gathering with friends and family, a time for reflection on a year that came and went, and looking forward to the next year. At the end of 2020, all anyone would have wanted was for 2021 to be different, and despite a vaccine and some months of near-normal life we are forced to have the same reflections. This time we hope 2022 will not be a repeat of 2021.

Once more we will enter the new year concerned with safety at the forefront of our minds. Let us hope in a year’s time these concerns have faded.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

First quarter 2021

Second quarter 2021

Third quarter 2021

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Province reporting positivity rates of 27%: Chief Medical Officer of Health to make a 3 pm announcement

By Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

The province reported a positivity rate of 27% yesterday.

That’s the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested. So, as more and more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate — how many of those tested are actually infected.

This is something we are doing to ourselves.

 

 

 

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Rivers on - The federal Liberal record during 2021

By Ray Rivers

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Many folks, including some Liberals, criticized the Trudeau government for choosing to call an election in the midst of the pandemic this past year.    Under Canada’s fixed term election law, when in a minority situation, the party in power can either call an election at their convenience or wait for the opposition to bring them down at their’s.   Even Mr. Harper, who had introduced the election law, had opted for that provision.

Candidates in the 2021 federal election

The polls had been indicating a Liberal majority, but that didn’t happen.  Still after all the ruckus about this having been ‘an unnecessary election’, the Trudeau government wouldn’t dare do it again.  And neither would the opposition now.  That should give the Liberals four more years in power, if all parties act responsibly.

Brian Mulroney’s government had been the first to alert the nation to global warming.  Jean Chretien signed onto the first international agreement committing Canada to emission reduction limits.   But the Trudeau government is the first to implement policies and programs to seriously address climate change.

The government has announced caps on oil and gas emissions and is regulating Canada’s electricity grid to be net zero carbon by 2035.  Subsidies to the fossil fuel industries, which have persisted in the billions through the early Trudeau years, are set to finally be ended.

Regulations to ban the single use of plastic by the end of 2022

A significant tree planting program is being launched.  Regulations to ban the single use of plastic by the end of 2022 are in process, and plastic has been named a toxic substance under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act.   All new sales of gasoline powered car and trucks will be banned as of 2035. Grants for the purchase of electric vehicles will continue and have actually been expanded to allow for more models.

And the Trudeau government has been investing in ‘green infrastructure’, such as public transit.  But perhaps most significantly, the PM is borrowing a page from former PM Mulroney and demanding each of his ministers to assume responsibility for the environment.  Ministerial mandate letters dictate all hands on deck since climate change affects so much in our society/economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot of the wind out of government plans to do much else.  Despite some hesitation and missteps early in the pandemic the federal government finally got it mostly right on border security; vaccination availability, vaccine mandates and passports.  Despite having no vaccine manufacturing capability, Canada is now one of the most vaccinated nations on earth.

Canada now manufactures its own personal protection equipment (PPE), even though some is still imported.  The military and Red Cross have gone in to help when provincial governments in at least half of Canadian provinces were no longer capable of handling COVID on their own.  And though public health policy, lockdowns and business restrictions are managed at the provincial level, it is the federal support programs which provide a crutch and blanket for those displaced by COVID.

So when provincial jurisdictions like Alberta, and even Ontario, ignore the advice of their medical professionals, potentially allowing another surge, more cost just gets added to the federal deficit and debt.  And, as we know, the federal spending bill, our deficits and debt burden, is huge and growing.

First Nations communities are expected to transition to self-government and move away from the Indian Act.

Another priority, Canada has embarked on an historic path to resolve its almost incoherent relationship with our indigenous population.   The tragedy of native residential schools has highlighted the injustice of our past relationship with our indigenous population, going back to well before confederation.  The new Crown-Indigenous minister, Marc Miller, has been tasked with resolving long standing land claims and supporting First Nations communities as they transition to self-government and move away from the Indian Act.

It’s all an ambitious agenda, especially for a minority government having to rely on enough opposition support to keep the momentum going.  That likely explains why Mr. Trudeau wanted so badly to win a majority.   Still, it is a credit to all of our political leaders that there has been so much multipartite support to help Canadians hurt by the pandemic public health policies.

The Conservatives have more recently dropped their support for the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) which provides income support for unemployed workers directly.  They do, however, support the more expensive wage subsidies, despite these periodically ending up as bonus payments for executives and as corporate dividend payments.

Mr. Trudeau has rejected calls for a universal basic income program in lieu of the current patchwork of low income financial supports, something the NDP has been advocating would be more efficient and less costly than CERB.

Tory opposition to CERB is rooted in complaints by some business entities that CERB impacts labour’s work ethic.  CERB had been scheduled to wrap up before the end of 2021 but support funding will be extended, thanks to the arrival of Omicron.

Is this the last oil-gas pipeline to be laid?

There is also disagreement between the two major parties on the future of the oil and gas sector, even though the handwriting is on the wall.  The fossil fuel era is over but oil and gas revenue has been a big part of Canada’s GDP, even though it has been massively subsidized by governments at all levels for over half a century.   And, after all, fossil fuels, including oil and gas, are most responsible for global climate change.

Canada made the list of the top top ten climate disasters of 2021.  Not only did these disasters cost in the billions, both privately and publicly, but they destroyed forests, farms and even whole towns like Lytton BC.  We know these kinds of destructive events will not be a one time event as the temperature of the planet continues to warm.

Apparently some folks were so upset that Trudeau called the election last fall that they voted for one of the other parties.  But I have yet to hear about people being so upset that they didn’t even show up to vote.  In fact voting in last fall’s election was significantly higher than that in two of the previous four elections, despite the challenges of the pandemic.  It’s past time to get over the election.

2022 is a new year and the federal government is kicking it off with a tough agenda and three priorities.  The pandemic, global warming and indigenous reconciliation.   Let’s get on with it.

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

 

 

Background links:

Top Ten Climate Disasters –

Banning Plastics –

Crown-Indigenous Minister Mandate

Tory Support for CERB –
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The Best Casinos Within Canada to Liven Your Spirit

By Staff

December 31st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

https://www.casinosformoney.com/ca/real-money/

Canada is a known location that many tourists wish to visit and explore. From its beautiful nature on the borders of British Columbia to the bustling city life that is offered there. Casino lovers always rejoice heading their way over there, and it is believed that over 25 million tourists from around the world visit Canada and make a visit to the gambling locations that it has to offer. Meaning, yes, it is a spot to check out, if you love the gambling scene!

The revenue alone from casino gambling within Canada has surpassed $500 million dollars and counting, due to the fact that there are first and foremost many casinos, but that the legislation around online gambling have also become more accessible and simpler than ever. If you’re interested in some real money gaming, Canada would certainly be the location to do it.

So, what are the best casinos in Canada that can liven up your spirits, you ask? Make sure to keep on reading to find out more!

Casino Niagara, Ontario
Casino Niagara is probably one of the best casinos within all of Ontario. Built in 1996, the location is set in the centre of the Niagara Falls, making it a very beautiful and slightly utopian location. The high-rise building of the casino towers over most buildings in the area, and the illumination of the neon lights, makes the casino seem futuristic from afar.

With over 13,00 slot machines inside the casino, in addition to multiple casino tables for classical casino games, you can guarantee that a day within the Casino Niagara, is not one that will end quickly. In fact, it will most likely take hours of game time, for you to even realise that you have completed what there is to offer there. The adventure of the Casino Niagara is desired by many gamblers all over the world, making it a must for any tourist who wishes to immerse themselves within the city of Niagara.

Casino De Montreal, Quebec
This casino is one that is probably seen as the largest casino located within Canada. Located within Quebec, it is situated close to the Notre Dame of Montreal. The daily average visitors are around 18,000 every single day, making this not only the largest, but the busiest within the region too.

There are over one hundred casino table games to play and discover, ranging for various playing levels and betting levels. If you are more of a high roller, you will certainly find your fair share of that within the casino. Additionally, there are many slot machines dotted around the premises and not all in one location, which makes a casino trip here a pretty adventurous one too! Do not forget to pop into the restaurant of the casino, which is classified as 5-stars, and exceptionally delicious for those who are both foodies and gambling enthusiasts!

Casino Rama Resort, Ontario
We have another casino for you here, the Casino Rama. This location is not only a casino but a resort too, for those that wish to stay over and enjoy what the casino has to offer, over a consecutive number of days. For 20 years this gambling location has been in business, and offers 25,000 casino game machines, from blackjack tables, to slot machines, you can be sure to really immerse yourself in what a gambling scenario should look like. If you are unsure on how exactly to plan your agenda here, the staff can help you fill it up, with their multiple suggestions that they provide at the reception desk of the hotel and casino entrance.

In total there are 8 unique restaurants on site that cater to different cuisines, which makes it perfect for guests staying for a number of nights within the hotel. Who wants to stick to one cuisine, 7 days in a row?

St. Eugene Golf and Casino Resort, British Columbia
This casino is what offers the beautiful panoramic views, mountains on the skyline and so much more. If you are not much of a city hopper, you can venture to Eugene, to enjoy both golfing and casino gaming. There are over 240 slot machines on site, in addition to various casino table games you can enjoy for one against opponents, or in your own individual party.

If you want to soak in the perfect views on your stay here, make sure to book the advantageous benefits of what a balcony view apartment can offer you. While on the pricier side, it still is beautiful and can most definitely make you feel right at home.

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Confusion and frustration reign when competency and skilled managers should be at the wheel

By Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The Provincial Science Table determines the Omicron variant of Covid19 is here and it is going to infect thousands.

The Premier does another media event and implores people to call the telephone number set out in front of him and get vaccinated.

People turned out in droves; some line up at 5:30 in the morning waiting for the GO-VAXX bus to arrive.

Someone somewhere in the bureaucracy said walk-ns were permitted – all you had to do was show up and you could get your first shot; your second or the booster shot.

A GO-VAXX bus has the capacity to vaccination 247 people in a day.

It didn’t take much in the way of math skills to see a train wreck coming.

Hundreds were turned away and told to go online and register.

Add to this “dog chasing his tail” scenario: those refusing to get vaccinated at all and complaining about their rights being trampled upon with less than a thought about the rights of others not to be infected by someone not prepared to be vaccinated.

Most responsible organizations are respecting the right not to be vaccinated but insisting that the consequences have to be borne as well.  Don’t show up for work until you are vaccinated

The vaccination numbers for the Region of Halton are very good – depending on how you slice and dice them there is a cohort that has a 93% vaccination level (80+ with one dose).

Yet there appears to be some confusion and a lot of frustration.  With more than 1000 airline flights cancelled a few days ago it is clear a lot of people aren’t going anywhere.

The numbers today popped up to record 10,436 new cases with 726 hospitalizations and 190 in ICU.

The damage resulting from the Christmas get togethers is coming in.  Expect a lot more with New Year celebrations.  We have experienced 20 months of living through a pandemic and there is little assurance that once we get through Omicron there won’t be another variant.

People will want to let loose and assure themselves that even if they do get infected the Omicron variant isn’t all that serious.

The tourism and hospitality sectors, particularly at the small business level, have been almost decimated.

Parents don’t know if classes will open in January.

Many people are reluctant to return to jobs that put them in direct contact with people they don’t know who might be infected.

We learned yesterday of a person getting ready to start a new job but having to isolate for ten days – the person isn’t infected but the children are.

The province says more than 176,000 vaccine doses were administered yesterday. 90.7 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have one dose and 88.1 per cent have two doses.

When we can step back and look at the vaccines the pharmaceutical sector has produced in very short periods of time, yes, we know they are making a bundle but the fact remains – some exceptional science has been done.

There are two levels that continue to disappoint.  The Neanderthals who don’t understand what is taking place and refuse to be vaccinated, and the provincial governments that manage to screw it up time after time.

There is more than business at stake.

Ontario’s Premier is fixated on businesses being open – failing to realize that it isn’t all about just the economy.

Is anyone convinced there is a clear, well thought out plan to get us through all this?  At a time when threats of polarization and social fragmentation prevail it is fair to ask if there is a national collective of trusting citizens able to confront the contemporary challenges.

Keep in mind,, dear reader that come next June – not that far away – the stumble bums in office now will be seeking your vote to continue doing what they have been doing.

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 of 2021 had no real RibFest; no Sound of Music; no Canada celebration but an election no one wanted

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

The worst of the pandemic was over, for the time being, or so we thought – July was a month of a cultural boom for Burlington.

A dark cloud hung over Canada Day as the national zeitgeist remained contemplative over Canadian identity and its relationship to residential schools and a broader problematic history with Indigenous peoples.

Nevertheless, Burlington pressed onwards.  The Sound of Music put on a virtual show featuring some of our top local talent. It wasn’t the same as spending a weekend at a rapturous, muddy Spencer Smith Park enjoying the spectacle but the event was a solid effort to entertain Burlington in a safe, socially distanced way.

The Mayor and a city Councillor were featured in an online reading rendition of Dangerous Liaisons.

By the end of the previous month, online entertainment in Burlington consisted of City Staff and the Mayor starring in productions of Dangerous Liaisons and The Odd Couple. This reporter is sure they did a fine job but is equally as sure they were happy to see the professional entertainers back. The Sound of Music featured Indigenous speakers but as a Gazette contributor pointed out they didn’t showcase any Indigenous artists, a missed opportunity, all things considered.

Citizens Group continues with a long drawn out protest over plans for an enlargement of the Nelson quarry.

Education-based events came out of the Performing Arts Centre, which hosted a mid-July Musical Theatre Week. The Burlington Public Library added items to their lending program to encourage outdoor fun, including bikes, games, and hobby items (such as bird watching kits and archery sets).

The library was a great source of entertainment throughout the pandemic, seeing a 103% increase in eCheckouts of books (they also expanded their collection) after closing their doors. Brant Museum re-opened featuring a space exhibit. Elsewhere, the community was beginning to be able to organize again, a bedrock of a functional democracy.

CORE Burlington (Conserving our Rural Ecosystems) hosted their first event since the start of the pandemic to oppose Nelson Aggregate’s Mount Nemo quarry expansion application.

The City of Burlington invested $25,200 into the 2021 Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund recipients. The community investment went towards three community projects, focused on enhancing infrastructure amenities within parks, gardens, and buildings on public lands or on lands that are accessible to the public. The winners were Grow for Change Urban Farm Community Therapeutic Programs, The Orchard Community Garden Project, and Community Garden in Roseland.

City Council prepared to break for the summer but still had their share of business. They began work on the 2022 budget, more on this in the final quarter – an early figure included a city tax increase of 5.57%.

On July 6th Laura Boyd, Executive Director of Human Resources, gave a presentation to staff on the problems the City is facing to attract needed staff, and to keep the staff they had. Despite heading into summer break the City remained in a declared State of Emergency which put the day-to-day running of the city in the hands of the Emergency Control Group (ECG).  As a result, Council gave the city manager delegated authority to spend $250,000 without referring to the council before getting the cheque signed in case of an urgent matter, he just had to tell them how many times he spent $250,000.

On July 12th the City had to pony up $165,000 to get parking sensors in downtown Burlington that were accurate, this was a fix to a problem in the completion of a project allotted $525,000 in 2017. Gazette readers wondered if we needed sensors tabulating the number of cars in a parking lot and expressed frustration over the growing costs. The City of Burlington announced the appointment of Maciej Jurczyk as the City Auditor starting August 16, who, arriving at a tumultuous financial time, would surely have his work cut out for him.

The Rainbow Crosswalks were a story that destined to have a long run. Expect them to be an election issue at the end of the year we are going into.

Elsewhere, the Gazette continued to follow the rainbow crosswalks story, aside from the vote on location (right in front of the Halton Catholic School Board office), another story was brewing. The Gazette reported belief from observers that Marianne Meed Ward threw three of her council colleagues under the bus when they voted against the Mayor to have six additional rainbow crosswalks done as soon as possible, rather than the more fiscally prudent approach of adding one each year. The Mayor wanted to again raid reserve funds to pay for the additional six – Kearns, Stolte, and Sharman had no problem with the crosswalks – just not all at the same time. The Mayor tweeted out thanks to her councillors other than Kearns, Stolte, and Sharman, which some took as a suggestion they didn’t support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, which was not the case.

As for regional growth plans, big problems for the city were on the horizon. That sentence is quite literal as big developments in downtown Burlington, begun under the former Major Transit Station Area and Urban Growth Center designations, looked impossible to stop. The Gazette congratulated the Mayor and Council on their achievement in shifting these designations to keep high-rises out of downtown Burlington but some of them were poised to be grandfathered in while the City’s Official Plan stalled. After all the fights, including some successful ones the City waged with the Region, downtown Burlington was fated to be forever changed. The City won but lost.

Halton Regional Police Services announced their use of the Brave App, designed to connect people at risk of overdose with the help they need: an ally they can talk to, a human supporter to help them stay safe, and digital monitoring technology to help them when they’re in danger. The app connects them with a community of overdose responders, and/or professional emergency first responders. The use of the app was in response to what they called an overdose crisis in the community.

Local wheelchair basket player Melanie Hawtin joined the Canadian Team representing Canada at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics.

On July 20th , a local wheelchair basket player, Melanie Hawtin, was announced to join the Canadian Team representing Canada at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics.

Rumblings of a federal election call began early in August. In preparation, the Green Party announced their candidate, a young man named Christian Cullis, on August 10th. On August 12th the Gazette began investigating rumours of a Burlington People’s Party candidate, who was revealed to be Michael Bator shortly thereafter.

On August 15th the Gazette reported on some conveniently timed Burlington investment announcements by MP and Cabinet Minister Karina Gould who used the Rock Garden in Hamilton to announce that the federal government had come up with $579, 000 from the Great Lakes Action Plan V – Great Lakes Sustainability Fund for the RBG’s Wetland Rehabilitation Program and the City of Burlington’s Grindstone Creek Erosion Control Planning. The RBG would be receiving $425,000 for their program, while the City will be receiving $154,000.

Ahead of the election call Gazette field reporters surveyed Burlingtonians about their feelings on the election, most felt it was unnecessary, irresponsible, even a dereliction of duty by the federal government in some cases.

Others shrugged it off, believing whoever was in power would make a similar gambit if they liked their chances to re-election. Nevertheless, the election was called on August 15th, that it was called at all would remain a defining election issue.

The Gazette began profiling the players, starting with every major party candidate in Burlington and spoke to those candidates who were interested. In August the Gazette profiled Gould, who championed the $10 a day child care program as the cause dearest to her (upon re-election she would be named Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development). NDP candidate, Nick Page, and the Green Party’s Cullis, shared similar visions of a more equitable society and saw emerging from the pandemic as the opportune moment to consider some foundational changes.

Page and Cullis were so closely aligned that when the NDP candidate pitched proportional representation his pitch was that the Green Party would have a bigger voice in influencing climate change. It was an example that had our editor run a piece with the question “huh?” in the headline. The Gazette’s fruitless efforts to speak to Conservative candidate, Emily Brown, were well documented. They had to be after the first piece on Brown sent readers into a tizzy.

Emily Brown, federal Conservative candidate for Burlington is ranked as a sharp shooter – missed the bulls-eye during the election.

Brown neglected to engage with the media herself so the Gazette dug into what information was available, at the heart of her platform was protecting gun owner’s rights. It was an issue Brown was extremely passionate about, she is an accomplished shooter and held several positions within local shooting groups. For whatever reason Brown supporters didn’t like this, a self-identified, core tenant of her campaign being highlighted, they objected greatly to any Brown article without any factual objections.

NDP sign defaced during the federal election.

Early in the campaign, Oakville/North Burlington NDP candidate Lenaee Dupuis had a lawn sign vandalized with the words “No Commies” spray-painted on it, which would prove to set a regrettable tone for the campaign. The race was afoot and would continue into September.

With City Hall off for the summer municipal affairs in Burlington went mostly quiet, but regional development disputes continued to pile up. Mayor Meed Ward had thus far succeeded – there are new Urban Growth Centre boundaries in place and once the Official Plan gets completely approved – it was in the hands of the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs –all it had to do was get through the 40 some odd organizations appealing – to become the law of the land. But business at Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) moves glacially. The 40+ people and organizations appealing the adopted but not in force Official Plan wanted to see time frames and firm commitments from the City of Burlington and Region of Halton in order to bring the appeals to a conclusion.

Instead, proceedings got kicked further down the road when the city and region failed to provide a consolidated list of issues by the assigned deadline. The future of development in Burlington hung in the balance and it seemed like the OLT met every couple of months just to schedule their next meeting and break for lunch.

In other city news, staff would be required to be vaccinated. On August 24th an application was made for a holiday market on the Elgin promenade, with no word on who made the application, this story would develop as the year went on.

The walkway at Crawford Lake was a popular destination once people were able to get out.

For most of Burlington not too deeply entrenched in the mire of politicking, August was another promising month. Hassaan Basit, President, and CEO of Conservation Halton said that from January until August, their parks saw around 850,000 visitors, which is a 30 to 40 percent increase from last year. People were getting out in droves, more people were being vaccinated, more businesses were open, the comparatively rosy COVID-19 outlook in July continued in August, as opposed to the taking one step forward and two back we’d grown accustomed to.

The Gift of Giving Back operated an event different from what it was best known for. From its inaugural 2007 event up until 2019 the Gift of Giving Back would pack gymnasiums full of food bins with the help of community sports teams and students.

COVID-19 put a halt to their traditional food collection method in 2020, but they still found ways to contribute.

The Royal Botanical Gardens hosted an Enchanted Garden Tour, a full kilometer long, leading through the Rock Gardens and hosting six different stations for kids to learn about this year’s theme, the monarch butterfly. Kids clad in fairy wings as colourful as the monarch butterflies themselves were giddy on the tour. Burlington Artscape showed off local artists who lent their time to create paintings on leaf canvases sold in support of the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

Respecting the social distancing rules was easier said than done at the August outdoor patio jazz event at the Performing Arts Centre

The Performing Art Center put on sold-out jazz shows on patios, not a computer screen, patios sat with real live people in the flesh.  Live shows were put on by Bling International at the pier. The live music events were in recognition and celebration of Black, African, Caribbean, Canadian appreciation month.

The federal election dominated much of September. The Gazette interviewed candidates across Burlington’s three constituencies and by the time ballots were cast most major party candidates had participated. Emerging issues among all candidates included COVID-19 recovery and vaccine passports, housing, cost of living, climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and that the election itself was taking place at all.

Environmental debates took place, which Conservative candidates in Burlington and Oakville/North Burlington opted to avoid causing latecomer Oakville/North Burlington Green Party candidate, Bruno Sousa, to slam their absences as “infuriating.”

As election night approached, Gazette reporters took to the streets to get a sense of the biggest issues on the public’s mind, there was much overlap with the candidates there. The majority of those surveyed still didn’t want an election to take place, but it had shrunk to a slight majority with nearly half of respondents split between being in favour of the election happening or not counting it among their priorities issue-wise. The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights arrived in Burlington just before the election. In a note to their members, they said they were there so “voters can learn the truth about the Liberal party. The mainstream media will never give voters an honest overview of a future under more Liberal government.” It’s the kind of fringe language that might’ve done more harm than good but at this juncture, this kind of discourse had been a reality of the campaign.

Burlington MP Karina Gould wearing her campaign colours campaigned harder than she had ever campaigned before – and won – again. Same with van Koeverden, v and Pam Damoff. It was a clean sweep for the Liberals in the Burlington, Oakville and Milton ridings.

The ballots were cast, Gould, van Koeverden, and Damoff retained their seats in the Burlington ridings. Nationally the country ended up with a Liberal minority government.

What lingered was the hostility of it all. Several candidates called the campaign the nastiest they’d seen. The Gazette editor posted a similar reflection regarding bitterness in the election comment sections when the dust settled.

During this same month, Burlington’s Community Leaders had to release a statement speaking out against harmful messages, harassment, and misinformation targeted against our medical and healthcare professionals. It is behaviour as deplorable as it is misguided, front line workers do not make policy, and reflected the hostility that defined an ugly election season.

In less vitriolic election coverage news, three-quarters of a million students took part in a mock election, 5,478 schools across Canada participated and votes were cast in all 338 federal ridings. A good step in getting students acclimatized to the voting process.

If actually built – these two towers would be at what the developer called “ground zero” for Burlington. Towers were to be 35 and 30 storeys.

On September 8th a virtual Pre-Application meeting took place for two towers: a 30 storey and a 24 story on Lakeshore Road between Brant and Elizabeth Street. During the presentation, given by people representing the developer, David Faletta attempted to convince viewers that the old Urban Growth Centre boundary would apply.

The City approved the Holiday Market proposal to run between December 9th and 12th with little in the way of public input and mixed reaction from downtown retailers. What’s more, they seemed to have signed off on the market as an annual event.

Creeping towards normalcy, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns held her first in-person ward meeting since the beginning of the pandemic – eight people attended.  An additional 35 took part virtually.

September saw quintessential Burlington events like the Terry Fox Run at Spencer Smith Park. Team Casey’s Terry Fox Event followed suit, in honour of the late Casey Cosgrove, a man described as remarkable and an inspiring community champion, who too suffered from cancer. They played a baseball game wearing t-shirts with the following quote: “This disease will not take away my disability and wish to inspire,” Casey, 2017.

Rib-Fest returned with a drive-thru BBQ event at Burlington Centre, a Food Truck festival took place at Spencer Smith Park, the month was full of activities.

On September 30th Burlington hosted the Every Child Matters Truth and Reconciliation Day gathering at Spencer Smith Park. Organized by Amber Ruthart, a local Indigenous music studio owner, the event was informative, moving, and a celebration of Indigenous culture with song and dance.

“I hope that education continues and is not just a trend. Also, we hope to be doing more indigenous awareness social events in the future here in Burlington,” said Ruthart.

Speaking to the Gazette, Ruthart reiterated the need for reconciliation to be a constant consideration and not a trend. Event organizer Ruthart, said her native name translated into “loud voice,” her message was loud and clear.

 

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GOVAXX plans prove to be a bust - hopefully the registration procedures will improve.

By Staff

December 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is going to be a bumpy ride.

The province announced that booster vaccinations were available and then didn’t prepare for the hundreds of people that would show uo.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was at the Burlington Centre apologizing for a mistake she didn’t make. The people who should have been apologizing were nowhere to be seen.

Mayhem at the Burlington Centre on Monday.

The province will scramble to put better procedures in place.

Other than the Mayor no one with any authority had anything to say.

CHCH television released a short video.

Click

MPP and Cabinet Minister Jane McKenna did not have any comment.

 

 

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Food4kids Halton gets new leadership: Dania Thurman appointed Executive Director

 

By Staff

December 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We first saw Dania Thurman in action when the community rallied around Central High school that was threatened with closure when the Halton district School Board made the decision to close two of the city’s seven public high schools.

Dania Thurman

Central was on the chopping block. Thurman who describes herself as a Powerhouse Program Manager with a passion for children’s health and community engagement and as a seasoned business professional with 10+ years of client development and community engagement experience in diverse sectors.

She has been recognized for demonstrating a natural aptitude for public relations, as well as for partnership management and program coordination with a verifiable history of contributing directly to company growth and expansion throughout her career.

This month, Ms Thurman was appointed Executive Director of Food4kids. She brings three years experience as Community Development Manager with Halton Food for Thought where the focus was on strengthening relationships with all stakeholder groups, including volunteers, staff, school administrators, and elected officials.

She follows Gayle Kabbash who has moved on to be the director of Food4Kids Ontario. Thurman said ” Gayle has made Food4kids Halton what it is today and really should be recognized for the tremendous work she has done. I am just the newbie coming in to carry on her work.”

Thurman’s work included bridging communications and aligned objectives with educators and administrators throughout the planning and development of student nutrition programs which meant analyzing barriers and issues impacting student nutrition distribution in collaboration with staff and partners.
Previous work experience included eight years as a Client Care Specialist.

Thurman earned a diploma in Musical Theatre from Sheridan College and a Certificate in Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Management from Ryerson University.

Her volunteer experience includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Compassion Society of Halton and the YWCA Hamilton.

Food being prepared for a breakfast program at a Burlington elementary school.

Food4kids Ontario oversees the development of new and emerging Food4Kids programs within Ontario, provides resource and support to existing Food4Kids programs in Ontario and develops and executes accountabilities for partner agencies that includes program implementation and best practices, financial management, metrics and evidence-based outcome as well as community outreach and engagement.

Food4Kids Ontario was incorporated and commenced operations on September 28, 2016, under the Ontario Business Corporations Act as a not-for-profit organization and is a Canadian registered charity under the Income Tax Act.

The organization has a healthy balance sheet with revenue of $831,438; expenses of $652,286. The organization provides significant resources to assist partner agencies in the implementation of Food4Kids locations in other geographic locations.

In the fewest words possible: Food4kids feed children.

Related news stories:

Telling their story

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Second quarter of 2021: restrictions and changes - but life went on and people continued to be people

By Ryan Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

2021 has been a year we are not going to forget quickly. We have learned that major changes are coming but we don’t know yet precisely what they will be. A look back at 2021 might give us a hint – it will certainly remind us of what worked and what didn’t.

Well into the year and things were not looking any better. Doug Ford’s April 1st announcement that the province would be entering yet another lockdown was no April Fool’s joke. In the throes of rising COVID-19 case counts, the promise of spring, inspired by vaccination distributions and loosening restrictions, was snatched away.

City manager Tim Commisso, heads up the Emergency Control Group that makes changes in service delivery and spending during a pandemic while at the same time keeping council fully informed.

On April 8th, the Gazette patted the City on the back for the job they’d done managing Burlington during the pandemic, writing “What is visible is how Staff have upped their game to meet demands that change by the day – at times by the hour.” Not everyone felt that way: by April 13th City Manager Tim Commisso had to ask the public to be kind and considerate to City staff doing their jobs and doing their best to serve the community.

President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital, Eric Vandewall, asked for public support in staying safe in a piece published in the Gazette on April 15th, the hospital was at 94% capacity, all non-urgent procedures had been postponed, Vandewall implored the public to follow guidelines.

For Burlington school boards it was back to online learning on April 12th. Ontario gave authority to police to ticket folks who left their home without a good reason and restricted outdoor activities, neither of these was well received: both exacerbated stress on Burlington and Region staff. Amid the backlash, the Halton Regional Police Service released a statement on April 17th explaining they would not be pulling people over at random.

On April 20th City Council had a Halton meeting, wrestling with the province’s controversial mandates and not finding much they could do. “We need your help,” said the Mayor, “to be patient; we are all tired, frustrated, and worried.” On April 22nd Municipal leaders in the Region of Halton called for sick pay for workers and a tightening definition of what is essential.

A year into the pandemic COVID-19 gloom continued to dominate the April news cycle, but by the month’s end Halton residents aged 50+ who couldn’t work from home had been approved to book their vaccination in early May.

Earlier in the month, the Gazette brought the exact lack of public engagement in budget building under scrutiny following an influx of cash poured into the city on April 9th, the federal government dropped $1.9 million while the province added its $1.6 million and the city will contribute $1.3 million for a total of $4.8 million all to be used to revitalize Civic Square including a grand entrance on the ground floor. There was very little in the way of public input.

In early April Halton Region asked residents to share feedback on how and where they wanted to see the community grow over the next thirty years. The Province’s Growth Plan required that Halton plan to accommodate 1.1 million people and 500,000 jobs by the year 2051. Halton Region currently had a population of 595,000.

Burlington was going to grow up and not out and much of the growth was going to be clustered around the GO stations. Plans for a seven tower development are going forward. .

Meanwhile on April 6th City Council outlined their growth plans that included a seven-tower development next to Burlington Go Station that would have a planned 2500 residents.  The zoning for the property did not have a height limit.  One way or another the development was poised to happen Councillor Kearns expressed excitement for it.

By month’s end, Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner became the longest-serving Chief in the country.

The beginnings of an urban farm. Land was loaned to a group that grew produce donated to the Food Bank.

Elsewhere Burlington traditions continued to take different shapes due to the pandemic, Burlington Mundialization Committee coordinated a virtual celebration of spring, including a live photo stream of the Japanese cherry blossoms in Spencer Smith Park. The virtual Sakura Festival commemorated Burlington’s 32-year twin-city friendship with Itabashi, Japan.

On May 1st, the Gazette reported a Town Hall: Lisa Kearns for Burlington:  virtual event where the Ward 2 Councillor set out to tell Burlington why she should be the Liberal candidate in the next provincial election. The Gazette suggested Kearns was in the process of scaring off anyone else who would seek the nomination and throughout the month that looked to be the case. There were even reports Kearns was grooming a colleague to succeed her Ward 2 position.

By May 23rd there were reports of another candidate, days later on May 27th that candidate was revealed as Mariam Manaa, a young woman who cut her teeth working for Burlington MP Karina Gould and Oakville/North Burlington MP Pam Damoff.

Days later Andrea Grebenc, the Chair of the Halton District School Board, announced she too would seek the provincial Liberal nomination.  For a short period of time the race looked crowded, but Kearns promptly withdraw on the 28th. Kearns and Grebenc put out a joint statement singing one another’s praises. Gazette commenters wondered where Mariam Manaa fit into all of this, and why neither Kearns nor Grebenc mentioned her, in due time it proved to be an excellent question.

Three women went after the nomination for the provincial seat. Lisa Kearns above, Mariam Manaa to the right and Andrea Grebenc below sought the Liberal nomination.

As for day-to-day City Council happenings in May, spending fell under scrutiny. Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman wanted to shake up the way the city budget was prepared with a tighter unvarnished look at just what the departments are doing.

In a May 8th meeting, Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna announced he didn’t want to be part of a tax and spend council. This followed a report on looking at different operating models for the Tyandaga Golf course, the model was tax-funded. Councillor Bentivegna argued that the spending would normally be part of the creation of a budget and setting the tax rate was instead being debated without input from the finance department. Bentivegna was the lone vote against the golf course funding, despite his colleagues’ assurances the golf course spending wouldn’t be reflected in taxes this year or the next, his point was at some point the public would be asked to pay for this.

Meanwhile, the community remained frustrated under pandemic conditions but there were some positive signs, by May 7th 42% of Halton residents had their first vaccination.  Ontario announced that outdoor recreational amenities could reopen if COVID measures are in place, beginning Saturday, May 22 at 12:01 a.m.

The story on the opening of the Farmers Market was more about social distancing than what was going to be offered for sale.

In May the Gazette photographed outdoor fun in the sun, children smiling brightly chasing an ice cream truck’s familiar jingle, families headed for the beach with towels and snacks, properly distanced lines to grab a hot dog at Easterbrooks, and couples listening to gentle breaking waves, rhythmic and soothing against the shore. The Farmers Market opened for the season on May 18th to a small but eager crowd.

Of course, there was bad news:  City Council went into a Closed Session on May 5th and cancelled their Park Ambassador program. The reports were that this was the result of a city employee harassed or injured by unhappy citizens. City staff member, Amber Rushton, alluded to civil unrest and anti-government movements while discussing the incident. It was truly a disturbing situation, and it seemed any efforts to police outdoor COVID safety protocols had been abandoned.

Chicken Little is expected to make appearances in the June provincial election

While all of Burlington continued to navigate their way through the endless pandemic MP Jane McKenna trivialized COVID-19. In a bizarre and tone-deaf comment, McKenna labelled members of the oppositions as “chicken littles” over COVID-19, accusing them of exaggerating the pandemic’s seriousness. However, it offered the Gazette the opportunity for a rare moment of levity amid pandemic news. The Gazette published McKenna’s comments alongside a rubber chicken on life support. That chicken was named “The Dirty Plucker” by Gazette readers.

“June is the Month of Play,” was the first message of the month from Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s desk, after 14 months of on-and-off lockdown Burlingtonians could be forgiven for thinking they misread the release.  Burlington ran a Get Outside and Play Challenge all month where participants learned more about Burlington while completing activities.

On June 2nd Burlington came out of a stay-at-home order that had been in place since April. Ontario re-opened on July 11th, ahead of the re-opening the Gazette was asking the important questions, “Does this mean that one minute after midnight – between the end of Thursday and the beginning of Friday that I can be outside with my ten best friends quaffing an ale?”

School boards began discussing outdoor graduation ceremonies.  An expectation was established that students would return to classrooms in September. There were outdoor gatherings exceeding limits and parties that broke the rules that Mayor Meed Ward responded to. But the good was outweighing the bad in terms of progress in the COVID fight.

THIS is what a bottle and can drive is all about.

Amidst the sunnier circumstances, Burlington’s generosity was in fine form for charitable events in June. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation partnered with local businesses to raise funds for a hospital that the community needed to lean on more than ever before. The Neal Family bottle drive for the Food Bank and Compassion society had another strong outing. Julie Neal spoke to the Gazette about her role establishing the popular bottle drive, just three years after moving to Burlington, “Who am I? I’m just a nobody loving the community I now live in.” For the Food Bank, their gardens began to sprout, on June 1st there was lettuce, sage, and rhubarb to harvest along with the garlic greens and garlic heads that were planted last season. Aldershot’s Skyway Diner ran a food item collection for the bank all month, finding a way to help others despite being in the hard-hit hospitality industry. Burlington Green announced their city-wide Burlington clean-up was back on for its 11th year on June 17th.

On June 25th St Matthews Anglican Church won a business excellence award for their work in the not-for-profit sector for the work they do for the community, including hosting a weekly drive-through food-drive throughout the pandemic.

In June the community battle to keep the current Robert Bateman High school functioning at some level was won. At their June 2nd meeting, Halton District School Board trustees approved a plan to relocate Gary Allan Learning Centre to Robert Bateman High School.

Elsewhere the City of Burlington Council wanted more rainbow crosswalks, plus benches and banners, to show support for LGBTQIA+2S Community. The Catholic District School Board voted not to permit the flying of the rainbow flag at Catholic schools. As for the locations of Burlington’s new rainbow crosswalks:  The people voted to locate one right outside the Catholic Board offices.

Ryerson Public School was to get a new name.

Despite a more positive news month for Burlington, national and provincial news weighed heavily on all. The discoveries of mass graves at residential schools were felt throughout the country. For Burlington’s part the Halton District School Board voted to rename Ryerson Public School and the city voted to rename the adjacent park – both had originally been named after Egerton  Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system.

On a Friday afternoon the Muslim community held their Call to Prayer in Spencer Smith Park. The Gazette published a handmade sign held up by a Muslim woman that spoke to the editor’s heart, it read:

“I love you. You’re probably thinking  you don’t even know me. But if people can hate for no reason I can love!”

On June 28th, the underestimated Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim woman, won the Provincial Liberal nomination.

Related news story:

The first quarter of 2021

 

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