Dania Thurman to work with ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns as Community Liaison & Councillor Assistant

By Pepper Parr

December 22nd, 2023



Stand By.

We don’t make this stuff up.

An email scooted across my screen while I was tidying things up and hoping I could call it a day.

Dania Thurman has a new job.

Thurman and Kearns go back some distance.

Saying: “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Community Liaison & Councillor Assistant at City of Burlington!”  I came close to choking on the good Belgian beer and Stilton cheese that I am able to enjoy from time to time.  This evening was one of those times.

Which ward will Dania serve in?

Her home ward of course – where she will help Lisa Kearns get the job done.

Kearns, who had, probably, the best Councillor Assistant in City hall, Francine Grimshire, who may have retired.  She kept Kearns between the ditches on more than one occasion.

Thurman has spent the last four or five years working in the sector that provided breakfasts for students where she moved from agency to agency, complaining frequently on social media about the boss that was difficult to work with.

Our understanding was that City hall had a group of woman who worked for the members of Council.  They were selected by a Senior staff member who ensured they were capable of doing the job and had been properly vetted.  The Thurman social media announcement suggests that Staff may not be in the loop.

Dania Thurman working as a volunteer at an elementary school with a breakfast program.


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Covid infections are on the rise - waste water testing tells us there are problems. Take care - you all know what to do.

By Pepper Parr

December 21st, 2023



This is not a good number.

It never really went away – it just got less intensive for a period of time.

It seems to have returned with a bit of a vengeance – at that time of year when people gather with family.  Make masks mandatory – you won’t regret it.

The winter flu adds to the problems we face.  If you have not had the most recent vaccine – get it done.

The best information local health authorities have is testing waste water on a regular basis.  The graph below shows what the testing tells us.

The trend tells the health authorities what waste water testing tells them.

There hasn’t been anything from the Regional Health department – disappointing.

American media have been broadcasting on a regular basis – yes they tend to overdo it – but the evidence is there. Link to what the Americans are broadcasting.

The Gazette will track what we learn from the Regional web site.  We’ve been through this before – we know what to do – just do it.

City hall has experienced at least one mild outbreak with members of Council experiencing some discomfort – something they don’t make any mention of – the last meeting of the year for Council was a virtual event.


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McMaster University expansion plans make a mention of the Burlington Campus

By Pepper Parr

December 21st, 2023



McMaster University released their University Campus Plan; it is their blueprint for the development of the Hamilton properties which collectively were an expression of McMaster’s vision. They imagined places and spaces that would be ideal for creating impact, fostering ambition and inspiring transformation through excellence, inclusion and community. They envisioned ways to help transform the campus into a living laboratory for advancing human and societal health and well-being. 

Early thinking on what can be added to the Burlington campus.

The Burlington campus vision was much more limited; the South Service Road location cuts the campus off from the city limiting the opportunities.

Development at McMaster’s Burlington campus should support the ongoing success of the DeGroote School of Business, providing complementary facilities and public realm improvements to enhance the experience of those teaching and learning at this location.

McMaster’s Burlington Campus is located adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) in the city of Burlington and is surrounded by a range of largely industrial and commercial premises. The Burlington Campus is home to the Ron Joyce Centre, part of the DeGroote School of Business, offering MBA and executive education programs. There is a small portion of developable land adjacent to the Ron Joyce Centre, which could complement existing facilities on the site.

Situated next to a major highway, the range of new uses that would be appropriate on the Burlington Campus must be carefully considered.

Due to its location, which is remote from the main campus, the site should only be considered for complementary Faculty of Business programming, interdisciplinary programming joined to the Faculty of Business, or for hotel / short-stay development along with related amenities like food & beverage, leisure and workspace. The university could also look at opportunities to work with the City of Burlington to review zoning laws, creating opportunities to diversify the potential uses at the Burlington Campus and consider complementary uses such as student accommodation.

The bottom part of the campus is where additional growth could take place.

Opportunities for new development at the Burlington Campus include the potential for a developer-led hotel and leisure scheme, which could serve students, faculty, staff, Indigenous communities and equity-deserving groups at the DeGroote School of Business, alongside the general public and other local businesses in the area, as well as business-led partnerships in mixed-use spaces, providing opportunities for students to work directly with emerging businesses in start-up and incubator spaces. This could complement existing business partnerships at MIP, providing opportunities for interdisciplinary work between the Faculties of Business, Science and Engineering.

Given its location, access to the Burlington Campus is mainly by private vehicle. A shuttle service provides a link to the university’s main campus.

In recognition of the remote nature of the Burlington Campus, consideration should be given to creating some outdoor amenity space between the existing DeGroote School of Business and any new development. Efforts to enhance and naturalize the stormwater creek to the rear of lot should also be considered to improve the natural quality of the area and create a positive feature on the site.

Not all that exciting.  With just a little more in the way of imagination the possibilities of integrating the  stormwater creek might be given some attention. The campus is where it is because someone made the land available.

Rendering of a possible building to the west of the Ron Joyce building

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There is something cruel about this notice

By Pepper Parr

December 21st, 2023



There is something cruel about this notice.


 Burlington Seniors’ Centre
The Burlington Seniors’ Centre at New St. will close Dec. 23, 2023, for building maintenance, and re-open on Jan. 2, 2024.

Seniors’ are the demographic that find themselves alone far to often.

Bistro at the Seniors’ Centre

The Christmas holiday for these people is often cruel – to close one of the few places they can gather is just plain wrong.  Of course the building has to be maintained – but this work doesn’t have to be done over the Christmas holiday.

Why a member of City Council didn’t spot this and direct the administration to keep the building open – reduce some of the programs – perhaps.

Would it have been too much to ask that the programs be increased?

Had it been kept open it would have made an excellent photo op for the ward Council member or the Mayor.

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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Libraries have been more than books for a long time - friendly faces all over the place

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2023



A couple more days and we can put our feet up, relax knowing that we have done everything we could to prepare for the holidays.

The younger children will be excited, close to unable to wait for Christmas day

The Burlington Library has expanded their seasonal offering from books and videos to some advice on how to handle the holidays.  Keep it in mind when you are thinking about others in the days ahead.

Let’s face it. Despite the twinkling lights, peppermint drinks, and supercharged cheerfulness, this time of year can be tough to cope with—especially if you feel alone. During the pandemic lockdowns, we embraced changes such as takeout meals, online shopping, streaming movies, and reading eBooks. These are now conveniences that keep us comfortably at home. But as a result of having fewer interactions or meaningful connections with others, loneliness is on the rise.

This person is just a phone call away.

Last month, the World Health Organization announced loneliness and social isolation may soon reach epidemic proportions. They identified serious health risks linked to loneliness, such as dementia, stroke, and heart disease. But along with this dire news, the WHO’s leading health experts also suggested a simple prescription to combat loneliness—getting in touch with others by phone, online, and in-person; doing things you enjoy; and reaching out to local services that can connect you with others.

Connect With Others in a Third Place

 Your local public library is a great place to start.

Last year, Burlington Public Library took part in a research project based out of McMaster University about how libraries can support connections and successful aging. This ongoing project explores the role public libraries play in strengthening social inclusion for older adults in the community. While this study focuses on older adults, the library offers opportunities for connection to people of all ages.

“We want everyone to feel welcome and included when they visit Burlington Public Library in person and online,” says David Quezada, Manager of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Burlington Public Library (BPL). “We care deeply about providing an accessible communal space for all.”

Libraries are sometimes called a third place.” This sociology term refers to familiar and welcoming surroundings separate from the two places where most people spend most of their time—work and home. Spending time in a “third place” can increase your social connections and sense of belonging.

Whether visiting for a few minutes or lingering for hours—you’re always welcome at Burlington Public Library. Pop in to chat with staff while you browse the displays. Or, if you’re looking to socialize and meet people with similar interests, perhaps you’d enjoy attending an interactive program such as Knit ‘n’ Natter or BPL Book Club. And don’t forget about the library’s comfy seats where you can read newspapers and magazines in a friendly space away from home.

Get the Jump on Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Library also offers a chance to brighten up your day, quite literally. A form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may cause changes in your feeling of well-being during the late fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter.

If you’re experiencing mild, temporary “winter blues,” increasing your exposure to natural or artificial daylight can help reduce seasonal doldrums. Come into BPL’s branches for a mood boost under a light therapy floor lamp. The Library offers these at all locations except for Kilbride. The lamp’s bright UV-filtered light mimics natural sunlight. (Sorry, tropical heat is not included!)

Talk to Local Support Services

While simply getting out of the house can be enough to kick a mild case of loneliness, some folks need more support.

If you’re not sure where to turn, caring library staff can refer you to people and places in the community that can support you. You can call 905.639.3611 during library open hours to speak to a staff member or reach out by email to infoburlington@bpl.on.ca.

Is this leading by example?

“Connecting people with community resources is an important part of what we do at the library,” says Quezada. “We can provide guidance to help you find the services you need.”

The Library also hosts free drop-in sessions where you can talk to specialists from local support organizations.

You Have a Friendly Face to Turn To

The Library is open every day, except statutory holidays so you always have somewhere to turn. If you’re ever feeling lonely, know that you can find a friendly face and a warm hello at your local library.

People who need a helping hand often don’t know how to reach out.

Those who have a supporting family and a great circle of friends have the most to give – reach out and invite people to share what you have.



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If you can find a way to donate blood this holiday season - do

By Staff

December 20th, 2023



Picture is better than 1000 words

Hospitals need fresh blood everyday – you may know someone who needed a transfusion –

If you can find a way to donate blood this holiday season, you will make all the difference for patients in your community and across the country.

It is typically more challenging to collect blood during the last two weeks of December, but that is when donations are especially needed. With the timing of statutory holidays, regular collections schedules are interrupted, so it is important that every available appointment is filled on the days when donation centres are open.

In Burlington, there are approximately 440 appointments to fill during the holidays.

Burlington donor centre, 1250 Brant St.

Open over the holidays:  December 26: 1-7 p.m. and January 1: 1-7 p.m.

Think about pulling together half a dozen friends and making it an occasion when you can do something for someone else.

The Donour Clinic will gladly take your appointment.

To book the next available blood or plasma donation appointment, visit blood.ca, download the GiveBlood app, or call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283). Same day appointments are often available.



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Rivers: What will Canada do at the Next COP?  

By Ray Rivers

December 20th, 2021


“transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” (COP28)

Journalists collecting hot air in Dubai at COP conference

Close to 100,000 people attended this year’s Congress of the Parties (COP) 28 extravaganza in Dubai to discus climate change.  They came from around the globe but air travel from New York is estimated to be the equivalent in carbon emissions of not eating meat for almost 3 years according to one emissions site.

In fact one of those delegates could have taken the train 6.3 times around the globe for all the carbon emissions in that flight.  So a lot of hot air was emitted just for people to attend and listen to much of what they’d heard at the 27 previous COP meetings.  A more cynical person would say they could have helped the planet better by just staying home.

For decades, even before the first COP, Big Oil has been telling us that climate change is just a hoax – or at least nothing to worry about.   So getting a real live oil sheik to say that the oil industry should transition away from fossil fuels is a big deal.   Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, who chaired the COP meeting, is president of the one of the world’s largest energy companies.  He is also the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, who had spent much of pre-parliamentary life as an environmental activist, praised the results of this COP and claimed that Canada had played a solidifying role in the final release.  And it has become the perfect jumping off point for the Trudeau government to further reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

Light motor vehicles only account directly for about 11 percent of Canadian GHG emissions.   However the production of oil and gas to fill gas tanks accounts for another 22%, though some is also exported.  That brings vehicle related emissions up to at least a full quarter of Canada’s climate related emissions.  And eliminating those emissions all comes down to changing how we power our national vehicle fleet.

Can this problem be solved? If they were all electric cars – maybe?

After nearly a decade of failed policy on the environment, virtually all jurisdictions in the country (except Sask.)  agreed to implement carbon pricing following the 2015 federal election.  Carbon pricing increases the cost of fossil fuels such that smart consumers will be motivated to trade in their guzzlers for a more efficient ride, for example.   Moreover, rising pump prices are a powerful signal to the auto industry to increase the availability of alternatively powered automobiles, something the industry dinosaurs have been reluctant to do.

So this week the federal government has introduced regulations with penalties and incentives for the auto sector that will require all new cars and light trucks to achieve zero emission by 2035.  In a press conference Mr. Guilbeault, pointed out that Quebec and BC already have an equivalent 20% 2026 interim goal.  And both jurisdictions have almost met that goal three years ahead of schedule.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault

Guilbeaut noted that China’s new EV sales are currently running around 40% of all vehicles with 10 million EVs already on its roads.  EV sales in Norway, another northern country, now amount to 87%.  Ontario’s EV sales got off to a good start but were stymied by the policies of the Ford government with its hostility to electrification.   He eliminated all incentives for EV purchases shortly after coming to power in 2018.

Ford also removed a $2.5 million incentive program which helped homeowners install their own charging equipment, deleted electric vehicle charging station requirements in Ontario’s building code and ripped out public vehicle charging stations.  Ironically, the vast majority of Canadian EV manufacturing is targeted for this province.  One has to wonder how much of those lucrative Ontario and federal government industry subsidies had to do with compensating for the provincial anti-EV policy.

These new EV regulations go hand-in-hand with the environmental carbon tax.   The Trudeau crowd has also drafted regulations to achieve zero emissions in electricity generation and to cap oil and gas production emissions.  Finally, federal subsidies to big oil and gas are supposed to be terminated by the end of this year.   Mind you, governments have been promising that as far back as when Mr. Harper was first PM in the early 2000’s, so don’t hold your breath.

Nailing down exactly how much of our public funds are wasted on fattening big oil’s coffers is a complicated business it seems.  However, Environmental Defence figures that the federal government provided more than $20 billion in loans and financial support to oil and gas companies in 2022, including $12 billion for the TransMountain pipeline and $500 million for the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

Federal Conservative Party leader, Pierre Poilievre is leading the charge to ‘axe the (carbon) tax’.  He continues to argue that the carbon tax hurts those with lower incomes, when according to a recent study “94 per cent of households with incomes below $50,000 receive carbon tax rebates that exceed their carbon tax costs this year”. In fact about half of the households in this income category realize a net gain of between $20 and $40 a month.

Federal Conservative Party leader, Pierre Poilievre

Mr. Poilievre, in his time, has been a vocal critic of every environmental law or regulation the Trudeau government has brought forward, including, more recently, ones as benign as transitioning to green jobs and modernizing the rules governing green energy in Atlantic Canada.  He voted against a free trade bill with Ukraine because of the mere mention of carbon pricing.

Voter fatigue with Kathleen Wynne and the other parties, as much as anything, gave us Mr. Ford, not only once but twice.  And Mr Trudeau is seeing that in spades.   According to a recent Nanos poll Canada’s Conservative Party is on track to decimate the Trudeau Liberals, winning a full majority if the election were held right now,

If Mr. Poilievre, is elected in the next election, would he bring the environmental house down as he implies he would?   Would he tear up all of Canada’s climate change legislation, pretty much as Doug Ford did in Ontario?  And what message would he take to his first COP meeting as PM?

Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in a past provincial election.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Carbon Tax –

Emission from Flying  –

PP and Climate Gains

Nanos Poll –

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Winter Solstice to be celebrated in Lowville tomorrow - an experience worth having

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2023



The darkest day is close at hand.

The Winter Solstice will be celebrated, recognized and maybe even understood on the 21st.

The people in Lowville have celebrated this event for the past ten years.

It is an experience worth having. Click here for details

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Jenna Baird - a United Way volunteer sponsored by the City of Hamilton

Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2023



Just who are the people who serve as volunteers with the Halton-Hamilton United Way.

They come from a number of sources.  Some are from the corporate sector; a bank or a large corporation will second a staff member to the United Way as an opportunity to widen their experience – and come away with an understand as to how a community works to take care of those who need help.

Jenna Baird – a United Way volunteer sponsored by the City of Hamilton

Jenna Baird, was a volunteer from the City of Hamilton.  She saw a posting on the Hamilton city web site asking if there were people who would be interested in being a United Way volunteer.

They would remain on the city payroll but show up for work at whatever task the United Way gave them.

United Way Plane Pull 2023

We first met Jenna at the Airplane Pull – and yes she was on that rope pulling with the others.

We asked Jenna to talk about her experience:

“Working at a non-profit United Way Hamilton Halton, is different than working in the private sector and the public service.  Everyone here has a drive to help others and put forth the effort to achieve their goals.  Everyone helps one another on different projects or discussing ideas.

“I’ve had a positive experience with my time at UWHH, from attending fundraising events (like the Plane Pull), collecting donations at a municipal compost day or raising awareness at a school or farmer’s market.  It’s all very different from my regular position.

“I wish that more people knew about 211 and how much information is available to assist people.  If people contact 211 either by phone or online, they can find local resources to assist with a variety of topics regardless where they are in the Province.  https://211ontario.ca/

“I’ve enjoyed working at UWHH, and believe in the positive impact that UWHH has, so much so that I’ve volunteered to be on the Community Impact Cabinet  https://www.uwhh.ca/investments/




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Trudeau made it pretty clear: he isn't going to be taking a walk in the snow anytime soon.

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2023



There is a lot of chatter about who the next leader of the Federal Liberal Party should be.

There are polls suggesting that Mark Carney and Chrystia Freeland have good numbers from a recent reliable poll.

But Justin Trudeau made it clear that he has another election in him

Justin Trudeau & Terry DiMonte’s held their Annual Holiday Chat.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau & Terry DiMonte’s, a retired broadcaster, held their Annual Holiday Chat.  It runs for about an hour – worth the time to see where the PM is coming from and his views on the job he has been doing.

It wasn’t a hard hitting interview; it was a conversation between two men who have known each other for years.  It wasn’t a puff piece either.

Click HERE

Worth the time.

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Ann and Dave Marsden to meet with City Manager and Senior Staff - meeting took months to arrange

By Staff

December 20th, 2023



Communicating is more than two people talking at each other.  It requires some listening as well.

Anne and Dave Marsden have been frequent delegators at City Hall who have found that they are not being heard and have run into hurdles on a number of cases when they want to make a point.

City Manager Tim Commisso along with City Solicitor Blake Hurley will meet with Ann and Dave Marsden in an attempt to resolve a number of issues – one being the diverting of their email to the Office of the City Clerk instead of the person the email was addressed to.

After considerable effort on their part they have managed to arrange a meeting with senior staff members.

The Gazette was recently informed that Anne and Dave Marsden have been advised that City Manager Tim Commisso, City Solicitor Blake Hurley  and interim Executive Director Human Resources Ms Evfremidis, are prepared to meet with them by end of January, 2024.

The meeting is to try to resolve significant complaints affecting city and council transparency and accountability, with a financial impact of millions of public resources.

Resolution would mean avoiding an expensive Ombudsman complaint.

The Marsdens are asking the city, as an act of good faith, to end, before the New Year, the practice admitted by Clerk Kevin Arjoon in August of 2023, of having all their emails to staff and council diverted to the Clerk’s office for their actioning of a response.




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Ontario sees a record increase in the value of property inventory with $42 billion in new assessments

By Pepper Parr

December 19, 2023



Ontario sees a record increase in the value of property inventory with $42 billion in new assessments

On December 12, 2023, MPAC – Municipal Property Assessment Corporation – delivered the 2023 assessment roll to municipalities across Ontario and shared insights on how Ontario’s property landscape changed this year.

Ontario’s property inventory grew by more than $42 billion through new construction and property improvements in 2023. Residential homes, including condominiums, accounted for more than $31 billion of this increase, while commercial and industrial properties contributed more than $6 billion, which is an increase of 31.5 per cent from 2022.

The assessed value of more than 5.6 million properties in Ontario is now estimated to be approximately $3.14 trillion. MPAC summarized these changes in the annual assessment rolls that were delivered to Ontario’s 444 municipalities last week.

Across Ontario, 10 municipalities accounted for more than 44 per cent of new property value. Toronto led the way for another year at $9.93 billion, followed by Ottawa at $3.37 billion. Vaughan, Oakville and Brampton rounded out the top five.

Important: The MPAC property assessment is not the same as your tax rate.  The tax rate is based on the class of property and what its assessment is.

The Gazette will be doing an article on how the assessment and the tax rate are worked out.

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Burlington Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 2024 - 2025 Board Directors

By Staff

December 19th, 2023



The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 2024 – 2025 BCC Board of Directors.

The Chamber Board meets approximately 6-8 times per year with additional board subcommittee participation. The Burlington Chamber of Commerce board of directors is appointed annually at the Annual General meeting. The directors shall hold office for a term of one year to a maximum of six terms.

While all nominations will be considered, the Committee is particularly interested in receiving nominations of senior-level individuals who bring board experience, current/prior engagement with the Burlington Chamber Community, and who would be representative of the following attributes: Financial, IT, Large and Small Business and Corporate Communications.

If you are interested in being a Burlington Chamber of Commerce board member and be part of a progressive, results-oriented and fiscally responsible Board of Directors – we wish to hear from you. Your resume and/or cover letter must clearly demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the position.

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is committed to diversity and inclusion, and we encourage applications from all designated group members. Our goal is a diverse, inclusive membership, board and staff that reflects the Burlington community.

Please complete your Application Form by no later than January 12, 2024, and email your resume and/or cover letter to info@burlingtonchamber.com for the Committee’s consideration.

The Chamber Board meets approximately 6-8 times per year with additional board subcommittee participation. The Burlington Chamber of Commerce board of directors is appointed annually at the Annual General meeting. The directors shall hold office for a term of one year to a maximum of six terms.

While all nominations will be considered, the Committee is particularly interested in receiving nominations of senior-level individuals who bring board experience, current/prior engagement with the Burlington Chamber Community, and who would be representative of the following attributes: Financial, IT, Large and Small Business and Corporate Communications.

If you are interested in being a Burlington Chamber of Commerce board member and be part of a progressive, results-oriented and fiscally responsible Board of Directors – we wish to hear from you. Your resume and/or cover letter must clearly demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the position.

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is committed to diversity and inclusion, and we encourage applications from all designated group members. Our goal is a diverse, inclusive membership, board and staff that reflects the Burlington community.

Please complete your Application Form by no later than January 12, 2024, and email your resume and/or cover letter to info@burlingtonchamber.com for the Committee’s consideration.

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Do the things that are important to you NOW, today if possible, and don't put them off to some distant date.

By Pepper Parr

December 19th, 2023



There is no cure

It was a blunt statement, that hit hard is as I reads it on a Facebook page.

Russ Campbell had been struggling for the past 2 years, dealing with an aggressive form of bladder cancer “that has now spread outside my bladder.”

“Unfortunately, there is no cure and, given my age and other health issues, any further treatment is high risk and if successful would only add a few months to my life expectancy.

“My plan is to make the best of the time I do have and what will be will be. For the most part, life has been good and I have very few regrets so don’t feel sorry for me – I don’t.

“But do do the things that are important to you NOW, today if possible, and don’t put them off to some distant date.”

Russell G. Campbell with his wife, Denise and his grandson Kia.

Things are tough for Russ – but he doesn’t see it that way. He knows what is going to happen and he is prepared.
He is on dialysis, doesn’t have a bladder but is no longer on radiation – 34 bouts of that was enough for him.

Russ was born in Jamaica, moved to Canada with his parents and settled in Burlington. Says with a chuckle that he “married the girl next door”.

Russ finished high school and went to work – soon realized that he needed more in the way of an education and took accounting courses at night and earned a CGA – Certified General Accountant.

I crossed his path when I read the blog that he wrote.  Russ was a strong conservative and I was looking for someone to bring a small c conservative viewpoint to the Gazette.  He wrote a few columns and reminded me that “I don’t think you were all that happy with me and I decided I would stick to the blog I was writing.”  We kept in touch.

Russ doesn’t have much time for the conservatism he is seeing south of the border.  He doesn’t have the energy he would like to have – but he can still start cooking some of the meals – when he gets tired Denise takes over.

Cancer has been a part of the family for a long time.  Denise had cancer on three occasions – each time she was able to overcome the disease.

We are going to stay with Russ as he completes his journey.  ” I know I am going to die and I’m prepared”, he said.  “I will miss the people in my life.” The family unit is 13 people strong: two sons and their children.

He doesn’t have very much in the way of stamina – but the courage that gets him through a day is remarkable.



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United Way Halton & Hamilton Delivers Holiday Joy and Support through Holiday Helping Hand Program

By Staff

December 19th, 2023



 In a year marked by surges in inflation, economic pressures, heightened poverty rates, and escalating mental health challenges, many in our community are grappling with increased needs this holiday season.

RBC Team part of the Helping Hand project.

United Way Halton & Hamilton’s (UWHH) Holiday Helping Hand program brought together 14 local social service agencies, working collectively to make the season brighter for those in need. United Way successfully engaged community members in volunteer opportunities, fulfilled holiday wish lists, and gathered essential items such as toys, clothing, and non- perishable food items for individuals and families facing challenges.

Brad Park: President and CEO of United Way Halton & Hamilton.

“This past holiday season posed unprecedented challenges for many families and individuals in our community,” emphasized Brad Park, President and CEO of United Way Halton & Hamilton. “The weight of economic challenges, housing and food insecurity, and mental health struggles have deepened the need in our community, putting our agency partners under significant strain.”

Thanks to generous community members, UWHH supported 12 holiday projects that included over 105 volunteer opportunities through the Holiday Helping Hand program. Community members rallied together to help fill volunteer opportunities such as sorting and packing community food bags for Food For Life Halton & Hamilton and stuffing holiday stockings for Community Living Burlington.

Over 112 families and individuals across Burlington, Halton Hills, Hamilton, Milton, and Oakville were sponsored through the program, ensuring they received the support they needed during the holidays. The program supports community members from young families with infants, to single elderly individuals, and all ages in between, including community members living with disabilities and newcomers.

OPP Toy Drive, was held at Toys R Us on Hamilton Mountain. This year’s toy drive raised over $32,500 worth of toys.

One of the volunteer opportunities for this year, the OPP Toy Drive, was held at Toys R Us on Hamilton Mountain. The OPP mobile command center was on-site, encouraging the community to fill it with toys in support of United Way’s Holiday Helping Hand program. This year’s toy drive raised over $32,500 worth of toys. Energetic volunteers collected toys and added them to the cruiser, urging shoppers to purchase toys for families in need. Toys will be distributed to children across Hamilton & Halton.

“This year’s program was a tremendous success, thanks to the support of our generous community members. Their contributions not only supported the most vulnerable but also assisted our agency partners in meeting the growing demand,” said Brad Park. “We are immensely grateful for the dedication and compassion shown by our community volunteers. This program would not be possible without them.”

As a community, it is critical that we acknowledge that the need for social services remains urgent. Over 68% of the 106 United Way-supported programs have reported a substantial surge in demand, underscoring the pressing nature of the challenges faced by our community members. The fact that nearly half of United Way-supported programs currently maintain waitlists highlights the ongoing struggle for individuals and families seeking crucial support.

With the gifts put together – the task now is to deliver them.

It is not too late to make a difference. This year, we urge you to consider giving to United Way Halton & Hamilton. Whether you’ve been giving for years or are considering your first gift, now is the time to join this journey and create lasting change. And this year, your gift holds even more power with our Local Love Community Match.

For every $4 you donate, an additional $1 will be added to your gift by generous community members and organizations. This amplifies your impact, addressing local challenges, supporting families, and empowering individuals in Halton & Hamilton.

Please visit us online to learn more and to donate, www.uwhh.ca.

About United Way Halton & Hamilton

 United Way Halton & Hamilton (UWHH) is committed to leading measurable, impactful change by identifying the most challenging issues in our community, and bringing together people and resources to address those issues. We connect volunteers with local needs, and offer training and operational support to local charities. Along with our network of partners and experts, UWHH conducts research and works with key stakeholders to generate support for the not-for- profit sector. Each dollar raised is invested right back into the community to address the long- term recovery of its vital social safety net. Last year, UWHH helped 143,562 residents across Halton and Hamilton, who relied on 106 United Way-supported programs for life changing services.




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City services are limited during the holiday season - what is open when - all set out below. Be safe and take care of each other

By Staff

December 19th, 2023



The Animal Shelter at 2424 Industrial St. will be operate as follows:

  • Sunday, Dec. 24 and Monday, Dec. 25 – closed to appointments
  • Tuesday, Dec. 26 – Saturday, Dec. 30 – open to appointments
  • Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 – closed to appointments

To report an animal control related emergency on a holiday, please call 905-335-7777.

Levels of transit service

Burlington Transit will operate as scheduled over the holidays:

  • Sunday, Dec. 24 – modified Sunday service, ending at 8 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 25 – Sunday/holiday service
  • Tuesday, Dec. 26 – Sunday/holiday service
  • Wednesday, Dec. 27 to Friday, Dec. 29 – regular weekday service
  • Saturday, Dec. 30 – regular Saturday service
  • Sunday, Dec. 31 – regular Sunday service and extended late night service on Routes 1, 50, 51 and 52


    • Route 1 Plains-Fairview will provide service every 30 minutes, with the last bus departing Hamilton at 1 a.m. and Appleby GO at 1:15 a.m.
    • Route 50 Burlington South, 51 Burlington Northeast and 52 Burlington Northwest will leave Burlington GO every 60 minutes, from 8:56 p.m. to 12:56 a.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 – Sunday/holiday service

For real-time bus information and schedules, visit myride.burlingtontransit.ca.

Downtown Transit Terminal, at 430 John St.

Schedule for the Downtown Transit Terminal, at 430 John St:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 26 – open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 27 to Friday, Dec. 29 – open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 30 – open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 31 and Monday, Jan. 1 – closed
  • Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024 – open from 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The Specialized Dispatch is open Wednesday, Dec. 27 – Friday, 29, and Tuesday, Jan. 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Service Burlington and the Building, Renovating and Licensing counter on the main floor of City Hall at 426 Brant St., will close at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, and reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at 8:30 a.m.

Many service payments are available online at burlington.ca/onlineservices.

For online development services, MyFiles can be used by residents who have applied for Pre-Building Approval. Check the status of Pre Building Approval applications at burlington.ca/MyFiles.

Halton Court Services

Court administration counter services at 4085 Palladium Way will operate as follows:

•            Monday, Dec. 25 – Wednesday, Dec. 27 – closed

•            Thursday, Dec. 28 – Friday, Dec. 29 – open, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

•            Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 – closed

On days when the court administration counter is open, telephone payments are available at 905-637-1274, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Many services are also available by email at burlingtoncourt@burlington.ca or online at Halton Court Services. Payment of Provincial Offences fines is available 24/7 at www.paytickets.ca.


Free parking is available downtown, on the street, in municipal lots and in the parking garage after 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays, including Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1, 2024.

NOTE: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west at 1286 Lakeshore Rd) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.

Parking exemptions are required to park overnight on city streets and for longer than five hours. If you have family and friends staying with you that require street parking, please visit burlington.ca/parkingexemptions to register for a parking exemption. Please note: parking exemptions are not valid during declared snow events, to assist with snow removal.

Please make an online reservation using Park Pass to visit Lowville Park on weekends. Reservations are free and available in three-hour time slots.

Recreation Programs and Facilities
Burlington Seniors’ Centre
The Burlington Seniors’ Centre at New St. will close Dec. 23, 2023, for building maintenance, and re-open on Jan. 2, 2024.

Recreation, Community and Culture customer service is available to assist you over the holiday:

  • In person at recreation facility counters during program times
  • By email at liveandplay@burlington.ca
  • By phone at 905-335-7738, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone and email service are closed Dec. 24, 25, 26 and Jan. 1, 2024.

Between Dec. 27 – 29, phone and email service hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Dec. 31, the hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cogeco Skating at Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond
Located at Spencer Smith Park at 1400 Lakeshore Rd, the pond is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. but closed at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. Registration is not required. For more information, including skating times, visit burlington.ca/pond.

Residents are encouraged to call the ice conditions hotline at 905-335-7738, ext. 8587 before leaving their house, to make sure the pond is open.

The free skate lending program at the Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond is available Monday to Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., and Fridays, from 5 to 10 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays, PA days and holiday school breaks, it is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Free skating – Check the link to schedules

Tim Hortons Free Skating

Thanks to Tim Hortons, Burlington residents can enjoy another holiday season of free skating, from Dec. 23, 2023, to Jan. 6, 2024. A reservation is not needed. Skating is first come, first served until capacity is reached. For dates and locations, visit burlington.ca/timsfreeskate.

Drop-In Recreation Programs

Swimming, skating, fitness and other drop-in program times vary over the holiday period. Drop in or reserve in advance. For schedules, visit burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

Play Equipment Lending Library
If you need some indoor or outdoor play equipment or want to try something new without having to buy it, try the Play Equipment Lending Library. The last day to borrow the play equipment in 2023 is on Tuesday, Dec. 19. Items need to be picked up from Central Arena and returned to Haber Community Centre on Jan. 9, 2024. To borrow, visit burlington.ca/playlending

Holiday ice and gym rentals
Stay active this holiday with family and friends by renting ice or a gym at a special discount. This holiday season, ice and gym rentals are available at a reduced rate for booking dates up to Jan. 7, 2023. Residents can view facility availability and complete the rental 24 hours in advance through their online Live & Play account. Learn more about how to rent at burlington.ca/rentals

Outdoor Fun
Head outside and play in our parks with trails, disc golf, tobogganing and more. Explore all the options at burlington.ca/outdoorplay.

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Sylvite Cultivates Hope in Local Communities with $30,000 Donation to Food Banks

By Staff

December 19th, 2023



When a $30,000 donation to local food banks is announced – people listen.  This donation represents Sylvite’s third consecutive year helping communities meet the challenges they face.

The donation will be distributed directly to the communities where Sylvite operates. Each branch will select preferred local food banks, guaranteeing that the contribution directly supports neighbors in need.

In 1983, Hugh Loomans, B.S.A. ’76, purchased Sylvite, a fertilizer distribution business focused primarily on agricultural products, from Alex Henry and Don Rutherford OAC ‘51. Today the company has four divisions: agri services for direct to farmer sales; wholesale agricultural supply; transportation and logistic services across North America; and an industrial chemical division. Now Cassandra is shadowing her father in his role as Sylvite President and CEO.

Hugh Loomans, President and CEO of Sylvite, expressed the company’s dedication to making a meaningful impact, sharing, “in our role within the agriculture supply chain, we believe it’s our responsibility to help feed the communities we serve. Supporting the 15 communities where we operate is not just a duty—it’s a privilege. And by doing so, we’re planting seeds for a stronger, more resilient community.”

Sylvite is in the business of transporting, warehousing and distribution for the agriculture supply chain.

Sylvite warehouse on Corporate Drive

“In a year that saw a 40% rise in visits to Hamilton food banks, with an astonishing 34% of users being completely new to the emergency food network, the demand for assistance can’t be ignored,” highlights Radhika Subramanyan, CEO of Hamilton Food Share. “As we observe a growing need to provide for families in Hamilton, contributions like Sylvite’s are essential—they enhance our capacity, allowing us to meet these challenges head-on.”

Emphasizing the vital role of local food banks, Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank, stressed, “As the need for food support continues to rise, it’s essential for local businesses to take action. Even full-time, employed families are grappling with providing the basics. Sylvite’s continued support is rooted in the understanding that every contribution plays a vital role in ensuring food security for those encountering difficulties in our communities.”

Sylvite continues to uphold its commitment to the belief that collaborative efforts are vital for fostering positive change within the communities where we operate.

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Signatures on wine bottles shown to influence Ontario shoppers: Brock research  

By Staff

December 19th, 2023



New research from Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute indicates a winemaker’s label signature can supercharge sales and impart value to consumers.

And we thought sniffing the wine was how you learned where the value was!

And we thought sniffing the wine was how you learned where the value was!

Brock Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology Antonia Mantonakis

Brock Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology Antonia Mantonakis and University of Ottawa’s Keri Kettle recently published “Look for the Signature: Using Personal Signatures as Extrinsic Cues Promotes Identity-Congruent Behaviour in the Journal of Business Research.

Understanding that humans use signatures when committing themselves to significant obligations such as marriages or mortgages, Mantonakis and Kettle explored whether that same perceived value is reflected in consumer products boasting a signature.

The researchers conducted a series of seven studies that looked at how adding a personal signature to in-store signage and product labels affects product evaluations and sales, and examined the identities, affiliations, causal relationships and associations (or disassociations) between consumers and products.

“It is an exciting area of study that can be a windfall for businesses, especially winemakers, marketers, advocacy groups and even curious or savvy shoppers,” said Mantonakis. “One of the great factors we found was that businesses needed a strong understanding of their target audiences when making the decision about whether or not to include a signature on their product.”

The studies involved monitoring wine sales that highlighted a winemaker signature and sales of the same bottle of wine without the signature. Results demonstrated the presence of a signature can boost sales as much as 500 per cent if an Ontarian is purchasing an Ontario wine.

Taylor MaGee, of Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, examines a wine bottle label.

Moreover, bottles of wine with a signature were found to have a higher value in terms of quality compared to the same bottle of wine without a signature.

“The signature has its limits though,” Mantonakis said. “While we might see that a signature on a bottle of Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wine can drive retail sales for local consumers in Ontario and create positive value associations between consumer and product, it won’t happen for everyone, especially those who are travelling here from elsewhere and may not have a shared identity of being ‘from Ontario.’”

The results of the studies help define the relationship between consumers, the value associated with a signature, awareness of product and how a signature can establish or modify value of a product.

“Ultimately, our research indicates the effect of adding personal signatures depends more on the identity of the target consumers rather than the identity of the signer,” Mantonakis said, adding businesses should first consider their audience before introducing a signature to any label.

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Are there ways – other than elections to remove members of a municipal Council? Alberta has figured that out.

By Staff

December 18th, 2023


This article came from Canadian Press release; it was written by Brett McKay, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette

It was spotted by a Burlington Gazette reader who has been following the discussion in our comments section related to the dissatisfaction many have with the current City Council.  Our point here is that community news from our perspective is community being a part of the process.  Our hats are off to the reader who passed this along.

Are there ways – other than elections to remove members of a municipal Council?

The Alberta government dismissed the City of Chestermere’s mayor, half of its councillors, and all three chief administrative officers on Dec. 4. Though rare, the decision wasn’t without precedent. But what exactly does an elected official have to do for the province to step in and remove them?

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said in his decision such interventions should be reserved for cases where the public interest isn’t being served and the municipal government isn’t functioning.

In the case of Chestermere, council was dysfunctionally divided. Some felt bullied by the mayor and fellow councillors, councillors irregularly took on administrative tasks, audited financial statements were filed late, and staffers who objected to requests from the mayor or council were reportedly fired, according to a report from a consultant hired by the provincial government.

Burlington City Council minutes before the last Council meeting of the year was adjourned. Look hard for the happy faces.

The “irregular, improper and improvident” behaviour of elected officials that costs them their position often comes down to infighting, conflicts of interest, and shockingly bad decision making. told, 62 employees left the organization during the time the city was under review.

In 1999, the minister of Municipal Affairs fired the entire 10-member council of the Municipal District of McKenzie. The move was called unprecedented at the time, and the minister cited allegations of mismanagement and infighting as reasons for his unusual intervention.

The dismissal of the council followed only four years after council was first granted local autonomy and control over its spending. Prior to 1995, the M.D. of McKenzie had been an improvement district, managed directly by a municipal affairs administrator with a local elected council acting as an advisory board.

Now known as MacKenzie County — “the largest county in Canada” — the sprawling area in Northern Alberta includes La Crete, Fort Vermillion, and Zama City. Once council was handed control over its affairs, regional disputes quickly disrupted the administration.

“Seldom, if ever, can we recall any situation which parallels that which we found in the M.D. of Mackenzie,” a report commissioned by the provincial government concluded.

The report found the council had interfered with administrative decisions, exercised poor leadership, voted in blocs to further one region’s interests, and let ethnic, cultural, and religious differences interfere in decision-making. Members from Mennonite communities in the southern part of the county held half the seats on council, and there were complaints money was disproportionately being spent in the south.

Former councillor Bill Fedeyko told the Edmonton Journal members of the council were paying themselves handsomely to attend meetings, hiked taxes, and unjustifiably fired the director of utilities, leading to a pricey settlement.

The feud’s on Burlington City Council have yet to reach the level of the Hatfields and McCoys – still three years left in their term of office.

“The biggest thing was that council just couldn’t get along. The bickering was so bad it was just like the Hatfields and the McCoys,” he said.

Former municipal affairs minister Danielle Larivee fired three of five Thorhild County councillors in 2016 when they refused to hire a chief administrative officer (CAO) with experience.

Municipal affairs had provided a short list of approved administrators for the county to choose from to fill the CAO position. Council instead hired former Conservative MP Brian Storseth, who Larivee said didn’t have the skills or experience needed to do the job.

Why was the government sending Thorhild County a vetted list of administrators in the first place? The previous CAO hired by council, at cost of $151,000 per year, also had no qualifications or experience, was a friend of two councillors, and was connected to a group lobbying the council.

Poor hiring choices eventually forced the government to intervene but concerns over the performance of council went back years, with 20 per cent of the county’s residents petitioning for an inquiry in 2014.

A government-commissioned inspection of council turned up vitriolic and threatening emails, with councillors challenging each other to “settle conflicts outside.” This infighting also contributed to confusing and, at times, contradictory motions being passed.

The demolition failure at Bateman hasn’t been blamed on a janitor – Ministry of Labour is still investigating.

Before the councillors were removed, government officials had to step in when the contract to demolish a school was given to a county janitor, who planned to dispose of hazardous materials in an open burn-pit.

Not satisfied with how local reporters at the Redwater Review were covering its affairs, council spent $58,000 to bring in the Westlock News.

“Elected officials should not use the power of the public purse as a means to control a free media,” the investigators admonished.

Alberta introduced The Recall Act in 2022, which allows petitioners to recall MLAs, municipal officials, and school trustees. To recall an official, petitioners need to get 40 per cent of eligible voters in a municipality to sign on within 18 months of an election.

The Act was used for the first time this summer in the Village of Ryley to remove Mayor Nik Lee. During Lee’s tenure, the budget 2022 budget jumped from $1.7 million to over $3 million. Lee also charged the village $5,000 for attending meetings in the first two months of 2023.

Lee had previously been removed from council in 2021 after being disqualified for not paying his municipal taxes.

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For unto us a child is born

By Pepper Parr

December 17th, 2023



Publishing a greeting, a wishing of good health and good fortune is not uncommon.

Years ago, I saw a float in the Christmas parade that I’ve never forgotten and want to use that picture again to express my greeting to our readers.

We sometimes lose sight of what the Season is about.

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