Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety 

By Staff

January 8th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Conservation Halton advises that Environment Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Surface Water Monitoring Centre (SWMC) are forecasting that a winter storm will occur on Tuesday January 9, beginning late in the morning and continue into the evening. Currently, forecasts indicate that 5-10 cm of snow may fall before changing to rain, possibly bringing upwards of 20 mm additionally. Given that local soil conditions are partially frozen, the snowmelt runoff combined with the rainfall will likely result in elevated water levels in rivers and streams within our jurisdiction.

Swiftly moving water can be very dangerous for young children

Widespread flooding is not anticipated, however, fast flowing water and flooding of low-lying areas, natural floodplains, and areas with poor drainage may be expected.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to keep a safe distance from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts, and dams.  Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and cold water temperatures combined with slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

 Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue an update to this Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety message as conditions warrant.

This Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety will be in effect through Thursday January 11, 2024. 

Return to the Front page

A new year and a city council with a new structure: Mayor holds all the reins

By Pepper Parr

January 8th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They will answer the Roll Call when they meet at 9:30 this morning.

Last Council meeting in 2023: Usually an occasion to send season greetings to those watching – not this year. Just seven glum faces.

Hopefully they will be less grumpy than they appeared when they held their last Council meeting for 2023 on December 14th, 2023.

The new agenda set up will be revealed; Councillors will meet  as a Committee of the Whole with the Mayor in the Chair.  She will hear reports from each of the Standing Committees.  It seemed a little awkward when set out on paper – but let’s see how it works out.

The Gazette will be there watching on your behalf.

Dania Thurman with ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns: joined at the hip?

We are also watching for a response from the Communications people is as to just who is the Administrative Assistant for ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns.

Dania Thurman announced via social media that she was delighted to be the new Administrate Assistant.  Those announcements are usually made by the ward Councillor.  So far nothing from Kearns.

Strange!

 

Return to the Front page

Trumpeter Swan is now the Official bird of the City.

By Pepper Parr

January 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Getting caught up on some of the smaller decisions made by Council.

A number of years ago, before Covid,  the Gazette sponsored a photo competition on Trumpeter Swans – we asked the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program to do the judging.  We provided the prize money and a framed copy of the winning entry was presented to the City.

Winning entry: Amada Kerr

The city was presented with a framed copy of the photograph. No idea where  the picture is displayed.

City Council caught up with us when they unanimously agreed to the selection of the trumpeter swan as the city’s official bird

The “Official Bird” selection process was conducted by Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington, through a public poll in early 2022 with the trumpeter swan, northern cardinal and black-capped chickadee coming in first, second and third place, respectively.

Burlington was certified by Nature Canada as a Bird Friendly City in April 2022, and part of its requirement includes the selection of an official city bird. Through public engagement and a unanimous Council decision the trumpeter swan is the city’s bird.

There was a time in the 1930s in Canada when the number of known trumpeter swans dwindled to 70. They swans had disappeared from Burlington and the rest of the province – shocking to think, since it is indigenous to North America. Hunting for swan meat, skins and feathers came close to eliminating the birds.

The trumpeter swan is the largest swan species in the world.

The Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program, which was established in the early 1980s, led to Pig Pen, the first trumpeter swan to nest in Ontario in 200 years, re-establishing the migration route of them in Burlington in 1993.

LaSalle Park is now home to more than 100 trumpeter swans from December to March and has a dedicated group of volunteers from Trumpeter Swan Conservation Ontario that work tirelessly toward the continued conservation and restoration of the species.

Link to winner:

 

Return to the Front page

Punch Needle Embroidery Course at the Art Gallery.

By Staff

January 7th,  2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Beth Martin with her two biggest supporters.

Beth Martin, the woman who created Burlington Together, one of the most effective community communications services that connects people with each other with information and community support.

The size of the group allows Burlington Together to get a message out to a very wide audience that responds quickly.

Beth Martin has branched out and is now giving craft Punch Needle embroidery course at the Art Gallery.

“Come learn from me! I promise it’ll be fun!

The classes take place on Wednesday evenings at Art Gallery of Burlington with a  February start date.

For more detail and registration click HERE

 

Return to the Front page

NDP claims corruption costs 48,000 jobs; Tories claim nearly 120,000 jobs were created in 2023 - figure that one out

By Staff

January 7th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ontario Achieves Strong Job Growth and Investments in 2023
NDP: Conservatives’ corruption, chaos costs Ontarians 48,000 jobs

Which statement do you want to believe?

Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli presents the 2019 budget as Premier Doug Ford looks on at the legislature.

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued this statement following today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada, which showed that while employment in Ontario decreased last month, nearly 120,000 jobs were created in 2023, including over 22,000 jobs in the province’s manufacturing sector.

Over the last three years, Ontario attracted more than $27 billion in new investments from global automakers, parts suppliers, and electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers.

In 2023, Ontario secured new auto investments from companies including Volkswagen Group’s historic $7 billion investment to build its first overseas EV battery cell manufacturing plant in St. Thomas.

“And, to further strengthen our end-to-end auto supply chain, we launched the fourth round of the Ontario Automotive Modernization Program, partnering with 26 parts suppliers that invested almost $9.6 million and created 111 new, good-paying jobs across the province”, said Fedelli.

$7 billion investment to build EV battery cell manufacturing plant in St. Thomas.

“In the auto sector and across all sectors, our government is supporting small and medium-sized businesses and creating the conditions for jobs to grow.

“While 2023 was a great year for job creation in our province, we cannot take this success for granted. In 2024, we’re going to continue with our targeted and responsible approach to ensure Ontario remains one of the best jurisdictions in the world for companies to invest, grow and create jobs.”

The New Democrats pointed to different numbers to make their point:

MPP Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre), Official NDP Opposition critic for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, released the following statement after Ontario lost 48,000 jobs in December:

““Every single one of these jobs represents a person whose life was upended and just found it even more difficult to make ends meet. While some other provinces are seeing an increase in jobs, Ontario is on a notable decline.

“It’s no wonder Ontario is losing jobs – Ford and the Conservatives are too busy covering up their own corruption scandals and rearranging dinner party fundraisers for their wealthy insiders.

Health Care workers protesting job losses.

“We can’t solve the housing or health care crises while we’re losing thousands of good people and jobs in those sectors.

“The Ontario NDP are proposing real solutions to solve the affordability crisis and create jobs – like our plan to get the province back in the business of building housing, and reopening emergency and operating rooms by investing in health care.”

Quick facts

In December 2023, Ontario lost:

  • 20,000 jobs in construction
  • 7,400 jobs in manufacturing
  • 7,400 jobs in health care and social services

The unemployment rate now stands at 6.3% in Ontario.

 

Return to the Front page

Chief Librarian reports that 1,255,000 books have been borrowed from the libraries

By Staff

January 7th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

If you have a library card- this article will not be new to you – the Chief Librarian Lita Barrie will have sent it to you.

Chief Librarian Lita Barrie reports to members

With our new year just a few days old, I’d like to share some highlights from this past year at Burlington Public Library. We wouldn’t be the library we are without your ongoing use and support, and we’re deeply grateful to everyone who visits the library, in person or online, as part of your routine.

So, how did you use your public library in 2023? Here’s a quick look!

How You Used Your Library in 2023

BPL members borrowed over whopping 1,225,000 books in 2023! One family of eager readers saved over $27,000 by using the library in 2023! You can view your estimated annual savings at the bottom of your printed receipt when you check out books. We added this feature to our receipts this year and it has been a great way for customers to see what they are saving by using their library.

The most popular non-book items borrowed were MiFi Hotspots, Chromebooks, and iPads. When introduced in June, jigsaw puzzles were a huge and immediate hit with library members. This new collection will grow again in early 2024. Watch the shelves!

This year’s most popular event was Burlington Literary Festival’s riveting evening with R.H. Thomson, author of By the Ghost Light. And thousands of kids also came to the library to shake their sillies out at 1,367 storytimes this year—with some regularly attracting crowds of 80-plus children and their grown-ups!

Burlington Public Library’s Commitment to Accessibility

The library belongs to everyone in our community, and we are committed to making our services and collections accessible to all. With that in mind, we worked with various partners to launch new offerings this year.

Visitors to the library can now pick up sensory kits to use in any of our branches. These were developed in collaboration with Autism Ontario.

We also expanded our collection of supportive reading materials to include decodable books geared to people with dyslexia, and WonderBooks and Vox Books that read aloud while you turn the pages.

Our staff are ready to welcome and support you no matter your needs—our 2023 Staff Development Day centred on training all staff to provide accessibility support and resources.

New Library Services Launched in 2023

What else were we up to? We opened our new Reading Garden at Central Branch where you can enjoy a good book in the fresh air during warmer months. Your local history is now just a click away with the Burlington Digital Archive—an online trove of maps, photos, and historical documents. This digital portal went live in the fall thanks to the incredible work of our Digital Resources & Collections team.  And, for Burlington readers looking for a good book recommendation—and we know there are lots of you—give Handpicked For You a try. We launched this service to give customers personalized picks from our expert library staff.

It was an outstanding year for Burlington Public Library, and we couldn’t have done it without the continued enthusiastic support of our community and our dedicated and talented staff, who work hard to deliver the best library service possible every day. Thank you for making BPL part of your story in 2023.

We look forward to seeing you at the library in 2024! To get a jump start on your reading list for the new year, check out my favourite reads of 2023.

Happy reading!

 

Return to the Front page

City has new lobbyist registry - is lobbyist clearly defined? Is the data easy to access? How often is the data updated?

By Staff

January 7th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington will have a new lobbyist registry ByLaw effective Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. The new bylaw is said to provide transparency about individuals and organizations who lobby City of Burlington public office holders.

The lobbyist registry was updated through a bylaw approved by City Council on July 11, 2023 and includes:

A move from volunteer to mandatory registration of applicable lobbying activities. All lobbyists must file a registration for each matter they intend to lobby prior to the lobbying, or within fifteen days of the initial communication.

An expanded definition of lobbying communication that includes a formal meeting, email, letter, phone call or meaningful dialogue or exchange that materially advances a matter that is defined as lobbying, whether in a formal or an informal setting.

The addition of the Burlington Leadership Team as a part of the lobbyist registry, along with City Council, as public office holders.

The appointment of the City Clerk as the Lobbyist Registrar to centralize and improve efficiency of registry administration.

Limited enforcement of the bylaw: Where a person has contravened any of the provisions in the bylaw, they will be prohibited from lobbying activities until an information and education meeting with the Lobbyist Registrar is held. For a second offence, lobbying activities will be prohibited for 60 days.

The City’s lobbyist registry is available online at burlington.ca. A new registration form and web page updates will be made to reflect the bylaw once it takes effect in January 2024.

Deputy Clerk Kevin Klingenberg, City of Burlington explains: “The new Lobbyist Registry ByLaw will help ensure greater transparency in the local government decision-making process. Lobbying is a legitimate activity. It benefits lobbyists, public office holders and members of the public. This new registry ensures the process is transparent, centralized for cost-effectiveness, and easy to access by the public.” —

Quick Facts

In January 2022, the City launched a trial online lobbyist registry designed to document interactions between individuals who lobby members of Burlington City Council. Data from this trial, along with the community’s input from a survey completed in January 2023, helped shape the new Lobbyist Registry ByLaw.

report [CL-03-23] about the development of the new lobbyist registry was presented to City Council in June 2023.

To learn more about the lobbyist registry, and other tools and processes the City has in place to ensure accountability and transparency in local government decision making, visit burlington.ca/accountability.

View the new Lobbyist Registry ByLaw.

Return to the Front page

What can Ontario expect from Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie in the nest 60 days?

By Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Ontario Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie.

Ontario Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie

OPINION

She wins the Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, takes the Chair at a Mississauga City Council meeting and uses her Strong Mayor powers to to direct planning staff to allow fourplex housing as a right across the city.

With the Leadership in her pocket she works the telephone and pulls in $1,280,000 + in the way of donations to give the party some getting around money.

Meets with the other candidates to learn what they would like to see happen, we know that she had a one hour meeting with Ted Shu, member for Kingston and the Islands.

While Bonnie Crombie has not come out and said she is going to run for a seat in the Legislature she has dropped more crumbs is as hints than Gretal did when she was lost in a forest.

She has met with her Caucus and has begun to talk about the Strategy they will work from once the MPP’s  return to the Legislature in February.

She has to recruit a Chief of Staff; our guess is she already knows who she wants.

Three members short of being recognized as a political party at which point the Liberals will have access to research and staffing funds. The provincial Liberals would very much like to find a way to have access to those funds. There are five independent members of the Legislature – most of them have too much baggage to be worth recruiting.

Bonnie Crombie meeting with her Caucus at Queen’s Park

Are there New Democrats who might be enticed to cross the floor?  Could the Greens decide to become Liberals – just until the 2026 election takes place?

Politics is the art of compromise and if the Liberals are going to make their point they are going to have to get very creative and be seen is as a party that can get things done.

That process takes place starting January 16th, the day after Bonnie Crombie takes off the Mississauga Chain of Office for the last time.  It will be an emotional experience.

The announcements she makes on the 16th will be interesting.

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.

Return to the Front page

Re-purpose your Christmas Tree - Royal Botanical wants 2000 of you to do just that

By Staff

January 5th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The annual tree collection returns! RBG needs a maximum of 2,000 trees in order to strategically place them in critical zones. Community members are asked to pre-register their donation(s) ahead of their drop-off to ensure we receive the desired amount for the project at hand. Are you up to the calculated challenge? Let your tree continue to work for nature even after it’s done its traditional duty.

For well over a decade, RBG has relied on the generosity of the public to deliver their trees to aid us in various stream-restoration projects around aquatic ecosystems. Since this project began, over 175,000 trees have been repurposed and placed into the banks of the Chedoke and Grindstone Creeks. Once placed, their branches begin to collect and retain suspended sediment which helps form a riverbank, something previously demolished by invasive Common Carp. As the years go by and more trees are added, the riverbanks become fortified and stabilized, which help channel the flow of water during high-water events. The placement of trees also helps by creating essential habitat for birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians and most importantly a strong soil bed where native plants can take root and begin to sprout! What life have you seen around the berms as of late?

Sincere thanks go out to all the people who have helped see this project through. Not only do we have the solo tree drop offs, we have witnessed individuals organize neighbourhood pickups and deliver dozens of trees, and businesses deliver by the truckload! The generosity is magnificent, and the evidence is in the wetlands. Thank you only scratches the surface, or in this case adds to it!

Please Pre-Register to Donate Your Tree

Register your tree HERE

Royal Botanical Gardens appreciates the generosity of its community members that take the time to donate their Christmas trees each year. Used Christmas trees assist our conservation efforts in re-building creek channels on our waterways. These channels facilitate the regrowth of marsh plants and create habitat for native fish and wildlife.

This year we require a maximum of 2,000 trees for our restoration and are asking that you please register your tree prior to dropping it off. Though we greatly appreciate the overwhelming enthusiasm in support of this project, we are only able to use 2,000 trees to effectively achieve our goal.

  • Drop off between December 28 to January 9
  • Please do not drop off your tree without pre-registering
  • Drop off will be at an un-staffed location close to the border of Hamilton and Burlington. Specific drop-off instructions and location details will be provided via email to registrants.
  • Remove all decorations and ties
  • Spruce and fir species are preferred
  • Drop off only; RBG does not provide pickup services

 

Return to the Front page

NDP claims Premier Ford ignoring alarm bell on cancer surgery delays

By Staff

January 5th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

NDP urges Conservatives to stop withholding billions from health care 

Longer wait times for diagnosis and surgery are a result of a system stretched by chronic government underfunding.

Ontario NDP Health critic France Gélinas said Ontario is hearing another alarm bell from the province’s overrun health care system, a new Ontario Health report that shows that just over half of the most aggressive cancers were treated through surgery in the recommended time frame. She is urging the Ford government to act.

“This troubling report from Ontario Health makes clear that the staffing crisis in our health care system is having a direct impact on patient outcomes, on matters of life and death,” Gélinas said. “Early detection and timely access to surgery is vital for those diagnosed with cancer, especially aggressive forms.

“Longer wait times for diagnosis and surgery are a result of a system stretched by chronic government underfunding and the exodus of overworked, underpaid workers, yet the Ford Conservatives continue to act like the crisis doesn’t exist.

“We have the money to fix the problem. The government is sitting on billions of dollars—$5.4 billion, to be precise—of unspent funds that should be going to our hospitals. Ford must treat the crisis with the urgency it warrants and stop withholding billions from health care.”

Return to the Front page

Pop Album of The Year performer Emm Gryner will be at BPAC this month

By Staff

January 05, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Emm  Gryner has been an independent recording artist for 25 years. Her albums “Asianblue” and “Girl Versions” were nominated for Pop Album of The Year at the Juno Awards. She appears on albums by David Bowie, Def Leppard and Rob Zombie.

Emm  Gryner

She will be at the Performing Arts Centre on January 26th, at 7:30pm in the Community Studio Theatre

In 2013, Emm helped make the first music video in outer space when she helped arrange a new version of “Space Oddity” for astronaut Chris Hadfield. The song was recorded partly on earth and partly aboard the International Space Station. This collaboration has received more than 200 million views on YouTube.

In 2023, Emm was sought out by Def Leppard to contribute her cover of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” to their Drastic Symphonies album featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Emm contributes lead vocals to the track and performed the collaboration on BBC’s Piano Room programme.

TICKETS:

Regular: $39.50 (All-in). Member: $34.50(All-in)

Reserve a ticket HERE

Return to the Front page

There are some strong rowers in the boat called Burlington, but no one with a strong hand on the tiller

By Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

City Manager Tim Commisso, originally the Mayor’s choice as City Manager; he decided not to renew his contract.

The City Manager has announced he will not be renewing his contract.

The head of Human Resources and the City Solicitor have both retired.

The City Treasurer has announced that the budget put in place recently is the last one she will do.

The City Clerk and the Director of Communications are no longer with us.

Council is understood to be interviewing or reviewing resumes as they search for a new City Manager.

All this certainly doesn’t reek of confidence.

There are some top notch people in place on the administrative side: Shelia Jones, Executive Director and Chad McDonald who heads up the technical and IT side of the business  are as good as it gets.

Alison Enns

Emilie Cote

Bryn Neally

There are a number of young women in place at City Hall doing very good work: Alison Enns, Bryn Neally, and Emilie Cote – the City is lucky to have them.

As good as these people are they need leadership and at this point that leadership is not coming from the City Manager or City Council elected in 2022.

Very hard to have a strong sense of confidence as Council returns to the Council Chamber on Monday to carry out the business of the City with a Mayor in the Chair operating under the Strong Mayor powers given last July running what has become a one person show.

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.

Return to the Front page

Burlington Public Library Launches DiscoverySpace

By Staff

January 5th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Public Library launched a new program in a brand-new space where kids and their families can “discover”.  It open on January 8.

Are we looking at a future engineer? Photo credit: Anthony Jones

“We’re so thrilled to introduce this new service,” says Lita Barrie, BPL CEO. “It’s all about inspiring discovery, which is a core part of the Library’s vision.”

The idea for the DiscoverySpace emerged from customer feedback asking for more programs and activities for kids who have aged out of early-years offerings like story time.

STEAM—an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—is in particularly high demand. The DiscoverySpace will meet that need as a drop-in space where families can build, tinker, and create using bins of supplies, toys, and technology.

“Everything about this space was developed to inspire the kids who visit,” says Tammy Csajaghy, BPL’s Programming & Partnerships Manager who led the project. “From the colourful décor to the interactive tables, to the Lego wall, and beyond. We want kids to enter the room and feel empowered to explore and create.”

 

 

 

This is a playroom – intended for children and their parents looking for something with a challenge and an opportunity to let imaginations wander. Photo credit Anthony Jones

To start, the DiscoverySpace is open weekday afternoons, some evenings, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. It will also be home to weekly, free scheduled programs with a focus on science, technology and art. Hours and offerings are posted at www.bpl.on.ca/services/discoveryspace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

High rise towers are getting very close to 'shovels in the ground' in ward 1

By Staff

January 4th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For reasons that are not at all clear, Mayor Meed Ward sent out a Tweet saying that the city now has a complete application for the proposed development at 1026 Cooke Blvd

It will certainly dominate the skyline. A development to the immediate west, fronting onto the east side of Waterdown is before the Ontario Land Tribunal. Opposite, on the western side of Waterdown Road there are two small lots owned by Councillor Galbraith.

The city web site page for that development says the development is under review.

The development is in ward 1 where the Councillor keeps running into Conflicts of Interest.

Is the Mayor speaking for the Council member?

  • These applications will allow a 29-storey mixed use building on the subject property. The proposed development includes 370 m² of retail on the ground floor fronting Cooke Boulevard, as well as a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom residential units resulting in a total of 335 residential units. A total of 5,918 m² of amenity space (indoor and outdoor) is proposed.
  • Vehicular access is proposed from Cooke Boulevard with one driveway access from the north of the subject property. A total of 318 parking spaces are provided within 4   -levels of underground parking and 190 bicycle…

Development Application StatusUnder Review

Return to the Front page

Election donations getting more attention; Premier has yet to fully explain some of the Greenbelt land swaps.

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Premier Ford keeps meeting with provincial staff who later turn up in email traffic that refers to land developments. Details on this latest are set out in a link below.

When we learned yesterday that Ontario Premier Doug Ford told the Provincial Integrity Commissioner that”he he isn’t ‘immediately familiar’ with Manchia, we decided to look a little deeper and see just what took place during the 2022 municipal elections.

Councillor Rory Nisan faced a complaint on some of his 2018 election spending.

In Burlington, every member of Council was returned to office and no one came up with any election funding infractions. Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan faced a complaint on some of his election spending.  The Election Oversight Committee decided not to take any further action but did release a short written report.

It wasn’t the same in Hamilton where Matthew Van Dongen, a Hamilton Spectator reporter specializing in transportation and the environment reported at length on what was going on in Hamilton.

The  Hamilton election oversight committee started rare legal action against two developers who gave more money to municipal candidates than allowed under the law.

The committee decided to appoint a prosecutor to review “overcontribution” violations by planner-developer and downtown megadeveloper Darko Vranich. In a pair of decisions now posted online, the oversight body called pursuing the uncommon legal proceedings “warranted … and in the public interest.”

But is still up to that prosecutor to determine what charges — if any — should go before a judge. The maximum fine for an individual for most violations under the Municipal Elections Act is $25,000.

Municipalities across Ontario appoint arms-length citizen committees that can consider alleged campaign finance violations by candidates, donors or third-party advertisers following an election.

Often, rulings result in “cautions or a slap on the wrist” rather than audits or even more rare court action, said Zack Taylor, a professor of political science at Western University. Campaign finance violations that do end up in court also more commonly involve citizen complaints about elected officials.

In Hamilton, former Mayor Larry Di Ianni pleaded guilty to campaign fundraising violations in 2006 and was sentenced to make a charitable donation and write an essay about his mistakes. In 2020, Toronto councillor Jim Karygiannis was removed from office as a result of campaign overspending — a legal battle that went to the Supreme Court.

When it comes to exceeding contribution limits by citizen donors, Taylor said oversight committees and prosecutors likely have to do a “cost-benefit analysis” on the pricey prospect of legal action. “If they’re going down this road, it is to send a message,” he said.

The looming legal action was spurred by a city clerk review of 2022 election financial contributions. It found several donors appeared to have contributed more in total to candidates than the maximum $5,000 set under Ontario law.

Sergio Manchia and Darko Vranich both admit to giving more money to local election candidates than allowed under the law, but they argue the violations were honest mistakes.

After hearing from those donors Hamilton’s oversight committee ruled against legal consequences for everyone except Vranich and Manchia.

In a written decision, the body noted the head of development giant Vrancor overspent on donations “by a significant margin” — handing out $9,600, or nearly double the legal limit — and “without reasonable explanation.”

Manchia only exceeded the maximum by $300 and he told the committee he mistakenly believed the limit was higher.

But the committee noted the ubiquitous planning consultant also ran afoul of spending limits after the 2018 election and that he is “sophisticated, with past experience relating to contribution limits.”

A spokesperson for Vranich expressed disappointment at the ruling and argued the overcontribution was “an honest mistake” that would not be repeated.

By email, Manchia called his “slight overcontribution” a mistake and acknowledged the importance of campaign finance laws. “My aim was to support local candidates who I believe can make a meaningful difference in our city,” he said. “I did not intend … to compromise the perceived integrity of the electoral process.”

Developer donations tend to earn more scrutiny because of the “perception of influence” on councillors who are routinely asked to approve millions of dollars in building projects, noted Taylor.

Some candidates in last year’s election announced they would not accept donations from the building industry.

Link to the Premier’s involvement with Sergio Manchia

Rory Nisan catches a break with his 2018 election problems

Return to the Front page

Ford’s Greenbelt explanation just keeps changing - new email telling a more complete story

By Staff

January 3rd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The New Democrats, serve as the Official Opposition at Queen’s Park.  They have been on top of the Greenbelt land mess from day 1.

Marat Stiles letting the Premier know that she has his number.

It was their initiative that resulted in a report from the then Auditor Bonnie Lysak that laid out a sad story and eventually resulted in the provincial government accepting the resignation of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing after the Integrity Commissioner found all kinds of problems. Leader of the Opposition Marat Stiles would rise in the Legislature, point her finger at the Premier again and again.

The RCMP are currently investigating who knew what when and who whispered in whose ear.

In the meantime the New Democrats keeping finding new bones.

Ford has claimed he isn’t ‘immediately familiar’ with Manchia, despite the Integrity Commissioner’s report revealing six meetings between the pair.

Newly obtained emails show that in 2021, Ford’s then-chief of staff said he would “check with officials” about removing lands from the Greenbelt.The Premier and his government have said repeatedly that Ford was first briefed on the Greenbelt plan in November 2022, but these latest emails make it even more clear that Ford’s inner circle were discussing these plans years in advance – and kept them quiet when Ford ran for re-election. Marit Stiles and the Ontario NDP have repeatedly asked Ford about these discrepancies in testimony and timelines – and Ford’s Conservatives have continued to duck accountability.

“When exactly did Ford know about the Greenbelt plan – and why can’t he just come clean with it?” asked MPP Sandy Shaw (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas), Official Opposition NDP critic for Environment, Conservation, and Parks. “With the Greenbelt scandal, it seems like all roads keep leading back to the Premier’s office. And while he keeps trying to cover his tracks, we keep falling further behind on our housing targets when we desperately need affordable places to live.”

Sergio Manchia and Darko Vranich both admit to giving more money to local election candidates than allowed under the law, but they argue the violations were honest mistakes.

“Hopefully Ford can get his story straight when the RCMP come to call.”

Background

    • These new emails reveal even more correspondence between Ford’s senior staff and Sergio Manchia’s staff, a prominent Hamilton developer
    • Ford has claimed he isn’t ‘immediately familiar’ with Manchia, despite the Integrity Commissioner’s report revealing six meetings between the pair.
Return to the Front page

City Clerk Arjoon no longer with the City

By Staff

January 4th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Many people have wondered just where is the City Clerk.

There were occasions when Arjoon seemed to have difficulty managing Council and letting the Mayor know she was not quite on script.

Kevin Arjoon has not been seen for some time.  The Holiday Season was upon us – thot was he was on vacation.

Don’t know if Arjoon left or if he was asked to leave.

Position Overview

The salary is nothing to sneeze at: $146,616-$183,270

We are seeking a high performing individual to be responsible for the leadership and administration of the Clerk’s department. As the City Clerk you will provide leadership and direction in the areas of citizen and council committee support, information management and FOI requests, municipal elections, and act as a corporate signing officer for the Corporation. You will provide advice to the City Manager and Council on administrative matters, and all statutory functions related to the Clerk’s position, ensuring all documents relating to Council are managed appropriately.

Responsibilities

You will ensure that appropriate systems (both manual and electronic) are in place to manage the corporation’s records and protect vital information in accordance with established by-laws and policies. You will act in the capacity as the Designated “Head” for Freedom of Information requests. Digital transformation of the City’s records is a key upcoming project and you will play a vital leadership role in this project.

Reporting to the Executive Director of Community Relations and Engagement, the City Clerk is a member of the Burlington Leadership Team and in this capacity participates in the overall strategic and collaborative stewardship of the municipality.

Return to the Front page

What does it mean to understand a person ? Art Gallery digs into an answer

By Staff

January 3rd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What does it mean to understand a person, a land or even a historical narrative?

The Art Gallery of Burlington(AGB) is asking the question How can I know you? in their newest spring exhibition. The exhibition curated by artist, curator, and scholar, Suzanne Morrissette will open on January 19th and run until April 28th. It features the work of Anong Beam, Dana Prieto, KC Adams, Krista Belle Stewart, Melissa General, and Panya Clark Espinal.

Morrissette holds a PhD from York University in Social and Political Thought. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for two programs at OCAD University: Criticism and Curatorial Practices (MFA) and Contemporary Art, Design, and New Media Art Histories (MA).

“The exhibition aims to open a conversation about how we perceive the connections between people and the complex social and political circumstances that affect us and it all begins with a single question,” says curator Suzanne Morrissette. “In this exhibition, artists use materials from the land to weave narratives that encourage the audience to learn about the world around them. By delving into histories and understanding people, we can develop a greater sense of empathy and connection.”

Using materials sourced from the earth, the artists in How can I know you? work to share site-specific knowledge about kinship and generational relations, industry and settlement, social and political histories tied to settler nationalism and institutions, and about Indigenous territories in dialogue with one another.

AGB curator Suzanne Morrissette

How can I know you? is a question that comes from a comment artist Panya Clark Espinal shared during a studio visit with curator Suzanne Morrissette. It is a question that Clark Espinal asks of her materials, both as a way of coming to know them, as well as coming to know people, place, and history through the act of engaging with materials.

Both the exhibition and extended programming supports Morrissette’s ongoing research into and representations of colonial power and the intersections of contemporary art with geopolitics, decolonization, and social justice. How can I know you? is accompanied by a rich public program featuring talks, workshops, and performances in connection with a range of citywide collaborators and partners.

 

Exhibition Details

Lee-Chin Family Gallery

January 19–April 28, 2024

Founded in 1975

ABOUT THE AGB

The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) is an award-winning, public art gallery and community art centre situated in downtown Burlington, Ontario. Founded in 1975 for the purpose of creating a professional and social space to promote, protect and grow arts and crafts in Canada, the AGB continues to be an integral part of the community, and is home to the world’s largest collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics.

Return to the Front page

Navigating the Web Safely: Be cautious, secure your network, stay informed and backup regularly

By Trevor Hurry

January 3rd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Navigating the Web Safely:
Strategies for Avoiding Scams and Online Menaces

Once a scammer has access to your data they can pick and choose what they want to take: your bank account, other online services you use. Then they can sell your ID to others who will do the same thing.

In the ever-expanding digital universe, the internet has become a fundamental part of our daily lives. It offers a wealth of information, facilitates global communication, and provides endless entertainment. However, this vast network is also a breeding ground for scams and online menaces. From phishing emails to identity theft, the risks are ever-present. Thus, it’s crucial to arm ourselves with knowledge and tools to navigate this digital landscape safely. This blog post aims to provide comprehensive strategies to help you avoid scams and protect yourself online.

Understanding the Threats

Before diving into protective measures, it’s essential to understand the common types of online scams. Phishing scams, where fraudsters impersonate legitimate entities to steal sensitive information, are increasingly sophisticated. Malware, which includes viruses and ransomware, can infiltrate systems and compromise data. Identity theft, often resulting from data breaches, can have long-lasting impacts. Lastly, online shopping scams exploit consumers through fake websites and fraudulent offers. Awareness of these threats is the first step in defence.

Strong Passwords: Your First Line of Defence

A group of consecutive numbers is not a password; it is an invitation for scammers to steal your data.

Strong passwords are one of the easiest yet most effective ways to safeguard your online accounts. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols instead of common words and phrases. Password managers and other similar tools are useful for creating and safely storing complicated passwords. To add a degree of protection, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever it is feasible.

Regular Software Updates: Closing Security Loopholes

Keeping your software updated is a critical defense against cyber threats. Cybercriminals often target vulnerabilities in outdated software, making it imperative to update your operating system, browsers, and applications regularly. These updates frequently include patches for security loopholes that hackers exploit. To ensure you don’t miss these crucial updates, enable automatic updates on your devices. This ensures that you’re always using the latest, most secure versions without having to remember to manually update each time. Additionally, it’s advisable to regularly check for updates on software that doesn’t update automatically, as this maintains a robust defense against emerging cyber threats.

Be Skeptical of Emails and Links

Password security is something you need to pay attention to; the cost if you don’t could clean you out.

When it comes to digital communication, having a healthy skepticism might work wonders for you. Phishing schemes, which deceive people into disclosing private information, are getting more sophisticated. Emails and texts that look strange or request personal information should be avoided, especially if they instill a sense of urgency or offer extraordinary rewards. It is advisable to confirm the sender’s identity before replying or opening any links. Don’t download attachments from unidentified or suspicious sources as they can be infected with malware. Always keep in mind that if an email or link looks shady or too good to be true, it probably is. When in doubt, go with your gut and use care.

Protect Your Domestic Network

Your home Wi-Fi network is a gateway to your personal and financial information. Ensure it’s secured with a strong password and WPA2 or WPA3 encryption. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection, especially when using public Wi-Fi.

Educate Yourself and Others

In today’s digital age, staying updated about online threats is crucial for internet safety. Regularly following reputable technology news sources and cybersecurity blogs can keep you informed about the latest scams and protection strategies. Participation in cybersecurity awareness programs, either online or in your community, can further enhance your understanding and preparedness. Additionally, sharing this knowledge with family and friends, particularly those who are less familiar with digital nuances, is vital. This includes educating them about recognizing phishing emails, the importance of secure passwords, and avoiding suspicious links. By spreading awareness, you contribute to creating a safer online environment for everyone.

Use Trusted Payment Methods for Online Shopping

Online shopping, including activities like playing online slots, requires cautious financial transactions. To ensure safety, always opt for secure and trusted payment methods. Credit cards are generally a safer choice compared to debit cards due to their fraud protection features. Be vigilant about where you input your card details, whether purchasing goods or engaging in online slots; look for signs of website security such as HTTPS in the URL and a padlock symbol. Avoid payment methods that lack transparency or traceability, such as wire transfers or gift cards. Additionally, consider using payment platforms that offer additional layers of security. Remember, cautiousness in payment methods is a key defense against financial fraud in online shopping.

Backup Your Data Regularly

Regular data backup is an essential practice in safeguarding against digital threats. In the face of malware attacks, such as ransomware, having a backup of your essential files can mitigate the damage. Utilize reliable cloud services or external storage devices for backups. This should be done consistently; set a schedule for regular updates of your backup. Cloud services often offer automated solutions, while external hard drives provide physical copies. These backups are not just a shield against cyber-attacks; they also protect against data loss due to hardware malfunctions or accidental deletions. Remember, regular data backup is a critical step in comprehensive digital security.

You want to understand what Identity Theft can do to you and take appropriate action to protect yourself.

Conclusion

Navigating the internet safely requires a proactive approach. By understanding the risks, using strong passwords, updating software, being cautious of suspicious emails and links, securing your network, staying informed, using trusted payment methods, and regularly backing up data, you can significantly reduce your vulnerability to online scams and menaces. Remember, in the digital world, your best defence is your awareness and preparedness. Stay safe and explore the internet with confidence, knowing you’re well protected against lurking dangers.

Return to the Front page

When a local newspaper folds - everyone takes the hit - city has an opportunity to step in and support the existing local media

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There wasn’t much in the way of notice.

The last print edition of the Burlington Post was printed on September 15th.  The public got the news a day before.  The Post is one of 70 local newspapers that are part of Metroland.

What does all this mean to Burlington?

John Best, a colleague who publishes the Bay Observer put it very well when he said: “Locally, the biggest danger is in a community like Burlington, where on a good day there would have been one or two people at the media table at City Council or Board of Education meetings—now maybe none.

“Burlington Council with only seven members is already more or less devoid of any real debate, its seven members apparently in broad agreement on almost everything, or if they don’t, they hash it out somewhere else. The small size of the council is a factor that makes it easier to keep members in line, and the lack of media scrutiny outside of online disruptors like the Burlington Gazette have led to a country-club atmosphere. This is a council that put its heads together in 2022 and decided to keep the $100 million cost of the Bateman Community Centre Project a secret until after they were all safely re-elected. Media scrutiny has diminished in Burlington right at the time when a whole lot more is needed.”

Loosing a print media is significant and a clear understanding of just what happened to the Post and the other Metroland newspapers matters

Nordstar Capital LP owns the Toronto Star which is struggling. The Toronto Star owned Metroland.  “Metroland was losing money;  working furiously to find a solution but realized they were at a  point where they simply couldn’t pay their expenses.  Torstar chief executive officer Neil Oliver said at a creditor meeting held in November. That “Metroland is not out of the woods with the proposal, we believe it gives the remaining team and properties the opportunity to be viable for the long term.”

Metroland cited the challenging economic environment for newspapers – particularly the steep decline in print advertising revenue – for its financial troubles. The company’s papers have faced a “sizable loss of readership” and revenue has fallen more than 10 per cent each year for the past three years, according to Grant Thornton, an accounting firm.

Metroland said in mid-September that it planned to make a proposal pursuant to Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, and it followed up in mid-October with the plan.

In his report to creditors, Grant Thornton trustee Jonathan Krieger recommends a “Yes” for the vote scheduled for Tuesday, which would give unsecured creditors 13 cents on the dollar for their claims. Key to this analysis, of course, is just how much Metroland’s assets are worth.

The news business has changed.

Among those creditors were the news reporters who no longer have jobs.

“There was no discernible enterprise value for a business that has lost $10-million in the past year alone” adding that Metroland “held numerous M&A discussions with prospective buyers over the past year and could not procure a successful cash bid for any of the newspapers,” he said. The $20-million in equity stakes are undisclosed because they are “subject to confidentiality provisions.”

However, unlike other corporate reorganizations where the stockholders get wiped out in order to pay creditors, Torstar will emerge from this process maintaining its 100-per-cent ownership of Metroland, with all of its assets.

It would not be incorrect to say that there are some shady issues surrounding how the Star managed to dump the Metroland employees, offer them pennies on the dollar and try to get some federal money for them.

If the creditors had said No to the proposal that was before them they would have been given five cents on the dollar, not 13 but Metroland would have been bankrupt – dead.  But because the offer was accepted by the creditors Metroland is in receivership which means it is still operating.

The plan was recommended by an independent trustee employed by Grant Thornton, charged with operating in the interest of all the stakeholders in the matter. Some observers felt the trustee’s report was thin on details to make creditors wonder whether they have enough information to make an informed decision.

Creditors of insolvent newspaper chain Metroland Media Group Ltd. voted to approve a proposal on Monday that would see the company pay pennies on the dollar to restructure its debt and avoid bankruptcy.

Metroland sought creditor protection on Sept. 15 with liabilities totalling more than $78-million. The publisher laid off 605 employees, nearly two-thirds of its work force, without paying severance or termination pay, while other employees who took voluntary buyout packages earlier this year had their salary continuance payments cut off.

A restructuring proposal like the one filed by Metroland allows a troubled company to address its debt and avoid a bankruptcy filing. Had creditors voted against Metroland’s proposal, the company would have been deemed bankrupt under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Accepting the proposal meant that Metroland was kept alive while the 600+ employees looked at empty wallets.

The amount to be paid to creditors is not finalized. Metroland intends to apply to the federal government’s Wage Earner Protection Program, (WEPP) which offers payment to former employees stemming from a bankruptcy or receivership.

If WEPP is approved, former employees will receive 17 cents on the dollar for the balance of their claims, in addition to other payments. Other unsecured creditors would receive the same repayment percentage.

Lawyers for Metroland scheduled a court date to seek WEPP in late November, but the Department of Justice indicated it would oppose the motion. Metroland is still an operating company, and not in bankruptcy. The company then arranged to have a receiver appointed over its inventory, which could aid in its WEPP application.

“We believe that the likelihood of WEPP being eligible for this company is likely enhanced by virtue of that receivership,” Grant Thornton partner Jonathan Krieger said at the creditor meeting on Monday.

What does this mean to the communities across the province that relied on their local newspaper for news on current events..

Burlington had to decide recently where it would place notices they are required to publish under both the Municipal Act and the Planning Act.

Burlington is currently served by four online newspapers.  The Gazette, which was the first online paper to be recognized by what was then the Ontario Press Council in 2010.  The Post has become an online newspaper, the Bay Observer serves the Burlington market as does Burlington Today, a recent addition to the Burlington market.

The ceasing of the print publication of The Burlington Post has multi-faceted impacts on how the City provides public notice.

Whereas the Municipal Act, 2001 allows municipalities for more flexibility, other legislation is very specific as to the manner in which notice is given.

Staff have undertaken a review of the City’s Public Notice Policy and are seeking to make amendments where publication in a newspaper is not a prescribed requirement under the Municipal Act, 2001. Amendments to the Public Notice Policy are based on the findings summarized below:

Based on the above definition and the definition included in the policy, The Hamilton Spectator has been determined as the paper of record for the City of Burlington in the absence of a local newspaper such as The Burlington Post. The Hamilton Spectator is a daily newspaper with 4,673 subscribers in Burlington compared to The Toronto Star at 1,152 subscribers.

The Public Notice Policy provides minimum notice standards and encourages the public notice authors to consult with Corporate Communications & Engagement staff to ensure all appropriate tactics are used when providing notice to the public. The City has a dedicated News and Notices section with 1,065 current subscribers, where all City notices are posted in one centralized location.

By removing the requirement for printed media notices, where not statutorily required, the policy provides more flexibility while ensuring legislative requirements are met. In instances where newspaper notices are required, such as the Publication of Financial Statements, election notices, or notices required under other legislation including the Planning Act, the City will use The Hamilton Spectator based on the general circulation requirement, in addition to notices posted to the City’s website and digital publications. Many other municipalities have moved towards the publication of notices on their websites either exclusively or with a hybrid approach given the changing media landscape.

What this really amounts to is the city walking away from the concept that they really want to keep the public informed.  Transparency and accountability took another punch in the head.

Financial Matters:

Costs will be incurred depending on the type and frequency of notice. If a legislative requirement to post notice in print media exists, the associated cost is unavoidable. Below is a cost comparison for comparable ads in The Hamilton Spectator versus The Burlington Post. These are the preferred rates for the City as provided by Communications staff. This price list is not extensive and meant to show cost differences.

Approximate size of ad Burlington Post The Hamilton Spectator
5” x 5” $372.50 $895
10” x 5” $696 $1,650

Whereas the cost to post notices in the Hamilton Spectator are nearly triple than The Burlington Post, the frequency of the required notices under the Municipal Act, 2001 can be expected to decrease. In some instances of notices required under the Planning Act, those costs are forwarded onto the applicants.

Total Financial Impact

On average, there have been 250 ads placed throughout the year, but that number does fluctuate. In 2022 the print costs totalled $131,103 with the Burlington Post. Staff will monitor the increased advertising costs closely in 2024 and mitigate the financial impact where possible. Should an increase to the City’s advertising budget be required, staff will identify the need as part of the 2025 Financial needs and Multi-year Forecast for the Mayor to consider for inclusion in the 2025 Proposed Budget.

 

 

Return to the Front page