The review and revision of the Strategic Plan looks as if it is going to be a scrappy event

By Pepper Parr

February 12th, 2023



Included as part of every Council agenda is a section called Consent items.

These pieces of information that Council is prepared to vote on with no debate. Any Council member can ask that an item be pulled from the Consent list and moved to the bottom of the day’s agenda where it gets debated.

The Strategic Plan done in 2012 took eleven half days.  It was the first time that the Plan became more than a collection of photographs. The result in 2012 revealed a huge difference in the way Staff saw the Plan and the way members of council saw the document.

Once the budget is voted on, that will take place on February 14th, (what a Valentine the tax payers are going to get) Council will begin debating the Strategic Plan, a document that sets out what the city wants to do over a 25 year period. Each term of Council (4 years) creates what is called a Vision to Focus

The Consent item was the Vision to Focus (VTF) Integrated Reporting update as of December 31 2020.

Members of Council can comment on a Consent item without actually debating it.

Lisa Kearns, Chair of the meeting

Chair asks: No need to pull it. If you would like an opportunity to have questions. Does anyone want to pull one of the consent agenda items ?
Chair continues:

Before I call the vote would anyone like to comment on an item I see that Councillor Sherman’s hand is up followed by Mayor Mead Ward.

Sharman: Thank you very much chair. Just wanted to comment on vision to focus. This is clearly a work in progress from last year that has to be updated for the new term. And so in my role was deputy mayor I had a conversation with Sheila Jones, Executive Director and staff to talk about that in the context of our whole planning process. Not fun not planning, but economic planning for the community.

And you know, we have this new fabulous financial planning regime that has moved us just lightyears ahead of everyone, although some people might not see it that way. And we have this 25 year strategic plan, that will be updated, which will happen later in the term.

We also have to make sure that we have an operating plan that aligns with the strategic plan and the priorities of counsel, which is the V2 F and in addition to that, we also have to make sure we do a financial analysis of the of the five year V2F. Now notice I’m saying five not four, which I will continue to say because of we need to cross over and make sure we’ve got the legacy. But what I’m getting at is that I had that conversation.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

And now we have other deputy members with each with their own role responsibility. And of course they have to participate in that process too. So this is the beginning of a little journey as we update V2F. I’ll let Sheila Jones comment on the timeline for that, but you know, it’s coming.

Mayor Meed Ward asks: I don’t know if staff can comment if they have not been asked a question.

Chair says: No Paul.

Sharman responds: Sometimes our procedure by law doesn’t help us have good discussion and continues:

Mayor Meed Ward comments: Maybe I can channel a bit of Sheila in my comments. I did have about 20 questions on this report. None of which you will be relieved to hear I will be asking today.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

I have asked those in writing of staff but as I got through the list what it occurred to me is exactly what Paul has said, we need to refresh. We’re doing vision to focus on a document that focused on 2018 to 2022 – it’s out of date. It’s last term, we need to look at this again with fresh eyes and fresh priorities and a number of the questions just because I’m sure you’re all curious. Were around things that were listed as not yet started not identified as a priority of council things that I know that are priority.

Zoning Bylaw review, digital submissions, prosperity corridor review, congestion, management, planning, and greenhouse gas emissions. The list goes on. There are many of them and when I saw, you know not identified as a priority, I thought well hang on. I think we actually have identified many of those things already through some of the reports that we’ve done, as being of great interest. And so bringing all the bringing all the threads together is really important.

So then my questions to Sheila Jones the other day was, you know, when are we going to have that opportunity as a council, because that’s the best forum is to bring all of council together to do a refresh of this reset our priorities and then set the stage for this term of Council. And if I can find my notes, I think it’s coming in March for everyone. So in March, we will have that opportunity.

I really look forward to that and also as I was reading through the list of initiatives it became quite clear what Councillor Sherman also said, which was there are many initiatives there that can now be attached to a deputy mayor portfolio, the recreation portfolio, the housing portfolio and the red tape, red carpet, portfolio. So as we continue to evolve the deputy mayor portfolios to link those initiatives to really a work plan for the deputy mayors with support is really critically important. So all in good hands and I’ve just saved you 20 minutes 2020 questions on the floor this morning and we can move right along.

Chair: Thank you very much, mayor. I too am excited about the updates. We will see division and focus. We always knew this was a living breathing document and that priorities change, and if we were to take our re-elected hats off and put on different hats – we are definitely a brand new council that wants to quickly undertaking this exercise once again to bring the reflective priorities from our constituents into this business plan, which will of course inform those future job evaluations and our metrics, and that will be an exciting time for everyone.

With these comments I will now look to committee for a vote please All in favour. Anyone opposed?

The item was approved as a Consent item.

Interesting conversation. We get an early look at what Council members want to do as Deputy Mayors – tasks that in the past were done by the city administration.

This just might prove to be a defining point in how this Council wants to run the city.

Stand By

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Evidence is beginning to pile up - at some point the public will want to know what came of the complaints

By Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2023



It didn’t tale the new leader of the new Democrats in Ontario to make a mark on the politics of the province.

Marit Stiles will take her seat at Queen’s Park on February 21st, and serve and serve as the Leader of the Opposition.

The day she was confirmed as the leader of the party she was out on the streets of Hamilton doing some door to door campaigning.

The next day she released a statement reporting new revelations about Doug Ford’s relationships with Greenbelt developers.

The Toronto Star reported that:

Developers whose lands stand to benefit from recent provincial government decisions attended the premier’s daughter’s wedding — with some sitting at Premier Doug Ford’s table.

Sitting with Ford at Table 10, according to a picture of the reception’s seating plan, was Mario Cortellucci, whose family’s companies’ have benefitted from at least four minister’s zoning orders that fast-track development since Ford’s Progressive Conservatives came into power.

Also invited to the September wedding, according to the seating chart, was Shakir Rehmatullah — one of the developers who stands to benefit from the Ford government’s Greenbelt land swap. In November, a 102-acre parcel of Markham land he owns through his company Flato Upper Markham Village Inc. was removed from the Greenbelt to be developed.

On February 21st, the Legislature will reconvene and Stiles will take her seat and serve the public as Leader of the Opposition.  The first couple of hours will give an indication as to what kind of leader she is going to be.  Doug Ford’s political life might begin to change.  Going to be worth watching.

Marit Stiles, Leader of the Ontario NDP, put out the following response:

“There’s mounting evidence that Ford’s cozy relationship with developers has crossed the line.

“These developers include the very people who directly benefited from the Ford government’s decision to carve up the Greenbelt and other special favours – what exactly were they talking about at that table?

“I will be immediately pursuing all options to get to the bottom of what exactly happened here. That includes submitting a further complaint with the Integrity Commissioner and ensuring all the facts that have now come to light are being considered.

“Ontarians deserve not just answers about Ford’s conduct, but a government with integrity that always puts their interests first. I am committed to making sure that they get both.”

The tally of complaints is beginning to pile up:

A complaint to Bonnie Lysyk, the Auditor General of Ontario

Two complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

And questions being asked by the OPP Rackets squad.

Related news story:

Several investigations are taking place.

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Council takes a pass on cutting a million $$ out of the budget - long story

By Pepper Parr

February 10th, 2023



It took well over an hour of debate – but in the end the Motion from ward 6 Counsellor Angelo Bentivegna did not pass – he wanted to cut a $4.7 million allocation down to $3.7 million that was going to be used to improve the salaries of the employees the city did not want to lose.

In the past, during budget deliberations, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward had all kinds of ideas for cutting the budget; she made it a badge of honour. The only budget item she had this year was an increase in the number of staff in her office. We cover that in a separate article.

Councillor Bentivegna had more Budget motions than anyone else – most failed to pass.

“All I’m asking is to spend $3.7 million, see where we’re at in spending that amount and then decide what to do.

“There are so many parts – part time, full time, vacancies to fill

“I want to be clear. I am good with that. My motion has to do with reducing the $4.7 million to $3.7 million.

“We have another budget coming in 2024, in less than 10 months.” He wanted council to see “where we’re are at in spending; how much of that has been spent. “I’d like to see the results of that. That’s where I’m at.”

Councillor Sharman didn’t see it quite that way. “I’m sorry” he said, “I can’t support this. We need to spend it. I will not have anything more to say.”

Councillor Stolte: “I’m intrigued by this conversation.”

Councillor Stolty wasn’t as certain as Sharman saying “I’m intrigued by this conversation. That’s certainly one that I also had with our finance department. My concern being that we’re already into February and it is unlikely that we are going to actually spend the $4.7  I really don’t believe we’re going to be able to use the $4.7 million this year. I’d like to think that we could but I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere close to that in a real world. We’ve certainly heard a lot of conversations about the challenges about attracting and filling positions.

“I actually don’t have any issue with this I had proposed the thought of deferring some of the funding into a dedicated human resource reserve fund, but I certainly understand the challenges about not funding positions fully in a year. So I’m going to support this. I think it’s more reasonable approached given the fact that we are already going to be you know 25% of the way into 2023 by the time we get through these deliberations. I do want to know that that funding is available in 2024 if it’s needed because in an ideal world we will we will need it but I will be supportive at this point.”

Mayor Meed Ward: Believed HR staff should be supported and given the funds they need.

Mayor Meed Ward said: Staff did do a detailed review of the positions that we have based on extensive performance evaluations, every staff member did their own evaluation of their role, looked at the rating and the ranking and then the competitive market that took about a year or more to generate that and come up with this amount. I am wondering why; do you have any additional research ?

Great question replied Bentivegna. “Our job is to make decisions. And that’s what I’m doing here.”

Meed Ward adds “I you know, we have been presented very serious concerns from staff. Two budgets ago, we added funding for planning staff, and they’ve not been able to fill or keep those positions.

“So if there’s a view that $4.7 million is the right amount, I’m satisfied that staff have done their work.

“We already know next year is going to be a difficult budget. Much like this one. So I’m not going to support the reduction. I understand fully that we may not get all the staff in place. Any surplus at the end of the year can be used to add funds to the tax rate stabilization funds. The Tax Stabilization fund is where any surplus amounts are placed – it becomes an account that can be drawn upon for unseen expenses – frequently referred to as the Councillors “piggy bank”.

Councillor Galbraith: This is the biggest item on the budget. Votes against reducing it

Councillor Galbraith had a comment. “This is the largest budget item and it did need to be looked at but I can’t support it.

“I believe he’s (Bentivegna) just throwing a dart at the million dollars. If there’s no real justification for that amount; adding we did all support this at committee. We saw the data; it takes some 23 years to get to the top end of the compensation scale, we know that in neighbouring communities is five to eight years.

“This labour market is different. We are in a different time period where culture doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s a virtual world and unless we’re competitive with our compensation, we are going to lose staff. The backbone of this organization is our staff. If things aren’t getting done on time and our office is bombarded by complaints and concerns, it’s because we are not compensating our staff or we don’t have the staff or we can’t attract the staff; there’s really no way around it. I don’t like it any more than anybody else. It’s the marketplace that has determined this and unless we are competitive we are going to lose people.”

Chair Kearns turned to Laura Boyd, Executive Director of HR asking: “Is HR entirely confident in this number? Would you like to make any changes to it and can you provide clarity that this funding is to retain the existing HR complement and that the budget amount does not provide any additional enhanced services ?”

Boyd replies: “Yes, the confidence we have in the numbers is based on the modelling we did based on actual salaries and on performance merit reviews for 2023. May it change between now and when we implement in July. Absolutely. But this is our best estimate. And as you know we have a second request next year to further implement a performance based compensation program. This is step one of a two-step process. This is this is based on our current compliment and doesn’t include any of the added positions that counsel may be considering as part of this year’s budget

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns had to work at getting Council members to follow the procedures.

Kearns added: “I don’t like this number more than anyone else likes it. But at the same time if we do not invest appropriately in our absolute number one asset we will we will fail and we will continue to fail. You have often heard me talk in this council chamber about root cause corrective action. If we’re not getting the level of service, we’re not getting the targets that we’re asking for and we’re not getting the caliber of employee that we know will deliver service excellence, then this is how we correct it. I don’t see any evidence to the contrary that indicates a change in course would deliver the same result.

“So this is a confident number that has been put forward with great investigation and review and data driven analysis.  The only wish I would put forward was I wish we had the job reviews done sooner, but you’ll know that I have asked for that along with a lot of times in a gentle way. I want those job reviews done and this is going to help. It is tempting to take out a million dollars out of the budget in this year.

Councillor Sharman: “I have nothing more to say.”.

Councillor Sharman asking a follow up: “I think the conversation we’ve had here has been really great. The tension that the Counsellor created by putting forward the motion truthfully. You know, when it comes to accountability, we’ve done our best in prior councils to try to keep tax rates low. That includes in 2010 2011 budget, capping of headcount and elimination of automatic CPI increases; we were paying salary increases well above the market at that time.

“And it was done and it was justified – then it got held on to for too long. We didn’t then address it because we continued to be listening and saying yes, we’ve got to keep cost down. And I would say we’ve been doing that for probably three or four decades to the point that has now accumulated.

“The other thing I can also say is that what led us to the situation with staffing to a large degree. The other the other thing that I would own up to is that, you know, in the last few budgets, I have created the notion of differing gapping benefits as a result of getting staff to say well, when will we hire there? How much will I gapping not be utilized and therefore added into the knot therefore added into our reserve fund.

“And the outcome is we’re taking I think is a $3 million hit this year and this year’s tax increase that I frankly, I have to now say enough is enough.

“I put this in the context that we have got some discipline in this budgeting process that I’ve never seen before. And I say that with the greatest respect to all the work that has been done by finance people, but it was in the context of understanding we have changed our budget system to look out into the future. To eliminate the June kind of politically oriented let’s set a tax rate. And then staff work their guts out to try to meet that number, whether it’s a good number or not.

“What we’ve done here is we’ve taken a responsible approach looking after the needs of the city for the long term, and that is the beginning of a process that that I personally believe is vital and timely. And I will stand behind the choices staff have made right now in the recommendations they’ve made. And in the event that there’s some gapping – it’ll get put into reserves. We had a $1.4 million draw on reserves last year because the budget was out of balance – that cannot be repeated. So I I appreciate the thought. But we’re not thinking that way anymore.

“I do have a question to Laura. I’m just seeking some clarity. So I understand that this is for existing positions and making them relevant and competitive as far as the outside market goes to make sure that we’re attracting and retaining, particularly retraining, our good staff. Last year, I believe it was if not the year before, but I think it was last year we approved in the budget a position to look at that market competitiveness and job evaluation. How far along are we in that process?”

Executive Director Human Resources Laura Boyd

Laura Boyd, responds: “The numbers that you see in front of you is part of our job evaluation process on market competitiveness. The job evaluation process that has resulted in this budget ask has two pieces to it. One is internal equity; job evaluation looking at all the positions with everyone completing a job information questionnaire.

Points were then assigned and then positions are grouped into like pay bands, that is the internal focus of job evaluation.

“The external focus is a market competitiveness which was done as part of this process. Gallagher, the consulting firm we are using looked at the council approved comparators and then commented where the pay bands should rest. And then from their human resource staff, including our manager of total compensation, they modelled how do we move staff from the current ranges to the new ranges. So that’s what the number you see in front of you today is paying for.”

Bentivegna adds: “Yes, we do need to move forward. In 2024 we’re going to go through this again; we already have a 7% simulated budget for 2024. Keep in mind that 2025 simulated budget is less, 2026 simulated budget is even less.

Councillor Nisan during the budget debates

“I think I heard the word discipline earlier. I want to see us become a little bit more consistent in budget time saying okay, we know we need this, whether we need it today whether we need it tomorrow or two, three years from now, and as long as we’re still here to plan for this. When it comes to HR competitiveness, there is more to come. We need to prioritize. That’s what I’m looking at and asking is: are we going to tackle this forever?

“I want to be able to spread that those numbers over several years.”

Kearns announces that she doesn’t see anything else on the board which means we will now move to the vote on this item. Budget motion number two, reduce the funding in the 2023 budget. From 4.7 to 3.7.

“All those in favour ?

The motion does not carry at this time.”

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5 Memorable Super Bowl Moments

By Michael Davenport

February 10th, 2023


With Super Bowl Sunday almost here, now’s the perfect time to take a look back and reflect on some of the best moments that this sports competition has brought us so far. With Super Bowl odds fluctuating, it’s getting close to the time when you need to decide where your bets should go and sometimes looking back can be a source of inspiration. If that all seems a little too serious, then maybe you’d prefer the take of the Spurs players as they take part in their NFL teammate challenge.


NFL Team mates challenge

The popularity of this event is second to none. It’s when you look back at some of these moments that you can begin to appreciate why. Here are some of the best moments that the Super Bowl has ever produced. Let’s get stuck in and take a look now.

The goal-line game-winning pick of Butler – 2015

This Super Bowl was tight, to say the least. With 26 seconds to go, the Seattle Seahawks were trailing the New England Patriots by 4 points. The reality is that 26 seconds is easy enough to turn a game around and that’s what should have happened.

The Seahawks looked set to steal the comeback, but then a bizarre decision was made to pass to the quarterback, Russell Wilson. Butler, as a Super Bowl rookie, picked Wilson off and secured the 28-24 win.

An amazing one-hand grab on the side of his helmet led to a crucial 32-yard pickup.

Tyrees helmet catch – 2008

This Super Bowl saw the New England Patriots facing the New York Giants. The former were clear favourites here as they’d be undefeated for the entire season. As the game played out, it looked as though the Patriots were set to become the first team since 1972 to win every single match of the season.

Somehow, Manning escaped the pressure of the Patriots and launched the ball to Tyree. An amazing one-hand grab on the side of his helmet led to a crucial 32-yard pickup. The result? The Giants emerged victorious with a 17-14 win.

Just one yard short – 2000

With seconds to go, the Tennessee Titans were looking to force the Super Bowl into overtime. The St Louis Rams were winning 23-16 but the Titans had already mounted a stunning comeback.

With six seconds to go, it appeared that the Titans were going to make it. A vital clutch tackle from Jones saw the Titans falling just one yard short and losing the game.

A win in the dying seconds – 2009

This was a Super Bowl that saw the two teams being evenly matched throughout. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks just couldn’t be separated.

With just 35 seconds to go, the Steelers wrestled the game into their favour with Holmes bringing in the points that led to a 27-23 win.

The Philly Special: A play call for the ages

Foless Philly Special– 2018

This Super Bowl ended Philadelphia Eagles 41 – 33 New England Patriots. The best moment of this game came when the Eagle’s backup quarterback, Nick Foles, dialled up a ‘Philly Special’.

The Eagles entered halftime with a 22-12 lead on the back of this, and the end result was more than deserved.

2-12 lead on the back of this, and the end result was more than deserved.

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Foxcroft on the LeBron James achievement: 'This is what champions are made of'

By Pepper Parr

February 10th, 2023



Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passes a basket ball to LeBron James on the court after he claimed the points scored title at a game between the LA Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

When LeBron James set that astonishing basket ball record earlier this week we turned to Ron Foxcroft who knows the game well – he has been at it since his high school days when he worked high school basketball in 1963 in Burlington and Hamilton

He progressed to Canadian College then FIBA doing International basketball including the 1976 Gold Medal Olympic Game between USA and Yugoslavia.

He was the first Canadian to work Division 1 in the NCAA in 1977 until 2000. Worked the Sweet 16 in 1999.

Ron Foxcroft practising at a basketball court in his warehouse.

Foxcroft is currently working his 21st season with the NBA, first as an officials observer and currently as the replay and coaches challenge at the score table.

Foxcroft said he “Love it today, as much as the first time I took up officiating.

“It was difficult back in 1963 officiating with a Pea Whistle, but got better when I started using the world famous Fox 40 Pealess Whistle in 1987

Today he looks at the LeBron James record and is grateful for the opportunity to have played a role in a sport that has grown and is going to continue to grow.  I watched that game on TV and like everyone else I was watching a champion set another record.  And it isn’t over yet.”


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Lisa Kearns told Council that City hall is still mailing pay cheques to the homes of staff

By Staff

February 8th, 2023


This article has been updated with comment from Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns chairing the Budget workshop earlier this week

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was clearly on a bit of a role as she talked about how far behind the city is in terms using using technology.

Just about everybody gets their pay check delivered to their bank automatically.

Having the cheques printed, then stuff into envelops that had to addressed and then run through the postage meter and delivered to the post office.

Does anyone do that any more.  Not a city with something in the order of about 1000 people on the payroll.

Kearns told council members this:

Another simple thing is we’re getting our city employee paychecks physically sent in the mail to our houses. How is that not? Automated?

That is really hard to believe.

How does stuff like this happen.

Turns out what the Council member said may not be happening. A Gazette reader reports: ” I worked part-time for city 2009 to 2017 and our pay was directly deposited during those years. In fact city automated its whole payroll several years ago almost without a hitch compared to the disaster the federal govt have created.”

When asked to comment on reaction to the remarks she made during the Budget Workshop meeting Councillor said: “Pay stubs are delivered by mail.”

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So this is how those Newsletters get written - you use AI to 'bump them out'.

By Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2023



Council was debating the problems and costs related to the Information Technology (IT) the city uses.

Chad MacDonald the top dog in that world was explaining where the problems existed and what it was going to take to solve the problems – it amounted to time and money.

Did the Ward Councillor write this or did she just “bump it out” using Artificial Intelligence ?

Lisa Kearns, who was serving as Chair of the Workshop that was discussing the budget, made some comments that gave the public a look at how she uses IT – Kearns, the person with the best brain on this city council is known for some real zingers. At times you never know where she is going to go or where she is coming from.

Her latest interest is AI – Artificial Intelligence and seems to want the city Communications department to use the technology.

Kearns said: “ We don’t have the visibility for bolding AI. My office recently undertook an AI initiative and I’ve been able to bump out speeches that are 700 words in the matter of about 90 seconds.

“I type in about five words, how many paragraphs I want, and the length and it scours the web and bumps out fresh content non plagiarized.

“I’m able to do social media posts within 30 seconds, and they are about 350 words. That’s amazing. And that’s just at the very basic level.”

Ward 2 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Lisa Kearns: She just bumps it out – in 30 seconds no less

She actually said that. Truly amazing – astonishing actually

The Councillor doesn’t think about it; doesn’t appear to do a first draft and massage that draft to ensure that she is “communicating” with the people who elected.

Nope – she just bumps it out.

Ya gotta love these people.

Kearns went on to say: “I can’t even tell you on my examination of the number of different broken pieces of IT infrastructure they’re not talking to each other and they’re falling apart.”

There is more than Information Technology that is broken.

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Ensuring a higher level of consumer protection in the digital environment.

By Staff

February 8th, 2023



The European Commission (EU) has been looking at retail websites to see if they’re misleading consumers with “dark patterns”. Spoiler: Yes, they are.

The Commission, along with the national consumer protection authorities of 23 EU member states, plus Norway and Iceland, have released the results of their screening of online shops. In a sweep of 399 sites the investigation discovered that 148 of them contained at least one of the three dark patterns they were checked for.

Have you come across images like this when you are shopping on line? It is a deceptive practice.

Dark patterns

Dark patterns, also known as deceptive design patterns, occur when a user interface has been carefully crafted to nudge or trick users into doing things they didn’t set out to do.

Dark patterns are not subliminal messaging, visual or auditory stimuli that the conscious mind cannot perceive, although advertisers have been accused of using that as well.

The investigation focused on three manipulative practices that can push consumers into making choices that may not be in their best interests:

Fake countdown timers, which create a sense of false urgency
Interfaces designed to lead consumers to certain purchases, subscriptions or other choices.


Frankly, the numbers are surprising, if not disappointing. The investigation found that “nearly 40% of the online shopping websites rely on manipulative practices to exploit consumers’ vulnerabilities or trick them.”

The sweep found 42 websites that used fake countdown timers with deadlines for purchasing specific products. 54 websites directed consumers towards certain choices–from subscriptions to more expensive products or delivery options–either through their visual design or choice of language.

At least 70 websites hid important information or made it less visible for consumers. For example, this included information related to delivery costs, the composition of products, or on the availability of a cheaper option.

23 websites hid information with the aim of manipulating consumers into entering into a subscription.

At the risk of being rude, many web site operators work to trap people into buying something.


The offending vendors will be contacted by their national authorities and ordered to rectify their websites. If necessary, further action will be taken. The Commissioner for Justice has called on all national authorities to make use of their enforcement capacities to take relevant action and fight these practices.

The Commission is gathering feedback to analyze whether additional action is needed to ensure an equal level of fairness online and offline. The evaluation will look at three pieces of European Union consumer protection legislation to determine whether they ensure a high enough level of protection in the digital environment.

Much of what the European Commission does works its way to the United States and Canada tends to follow the Americans.

Many in Canada would like to see the federal government playing a much stronger role – public pressure is the only way that is going to happen.  The Gazette will be keeping an eye on what gets done and what doesn’t get done and which federal department should be doing the doing.  Think the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada ( ISED ) The Minister in charge is thought to have leadership ambitions.  Nudging him would look like a good place to start.

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New Democrats claim Ford government hanging on to $20 billion; deliberately under spending on health care, education, and justice – services

By Staff

February 8th, 2023



The province has a Financial Accountability Office (FAO) which recently reported that the Ford government will withhold nearly $20 billion in promised spending by 2024/2025.

The NDP Finance critic said: “This FAO report reveals that Ford is on track to leave almost $20 billion on the table, deliberately under-spending on health care, education, and justice – services that are vital to Ontarians.

Leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park, Marit Stiles

“I am extremely concerned that Ford is taking money from health care and education and putting it in ‘contingency funds’ that are unallocated and not transparent. Ontarians deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and the Ford government should be investing in the services that people need, not stockpiling funds with no purpose.

“Budgets are about priorities. This report makes it crystal clear that Ford is not prioritizing the well-being of Ontarians.

“We have been travelling around the province with the pre-budget committee, listening to delegations from organizations that desperately need funding for health care, education, and mental health supports. They are coming to us in good faith, and their concerns are not being heard.

“We need our government to listen to the people of Ontario and commit to spending the money they have on the services we need – not hiding it away.”

Marit Stiles, who now sits in the Legislature as leader of the New Democrats, will be doing some door to door campaigning in Hamilton today.


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Sign up for Jim's Green House Tour! Burlington Green wants you to see how it can be done

By Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2023



We know that Climate Change is taking place.

We know we have to adapt.

But do we do the adapting ?

Do the small things matter – those we can afford to do. The big things are what seem to be called for – but few are really sure what that amounts to.

There is a property owner who has converted his home to a showcase that has just about every Eco Home feature you can think of into the building.  This is an opportunity to see how it can be done – and it isn’t all that expensive.

Burlington Green is sponsoring an event: Jim’s Green House Tour; that takes you through a home, its heating system to the placement of the windows and the garden, every element of the property was designed with the Earth in mind.

You can take a tour on February 27th: both in-person and online participation options.

1) Attend in-person – (register here) limit of 10 attendees – 4:30-6 pm

2) Attend via Zoom – (register here) – 4:45-6 pm


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Cyber security for the 5 year old

By Staff

February 7th, 2023


The Gazette uses a number of security applications to protect the contents of the newspaper.  One of the service providers sent this along.  It is essential that people understand the need to protect what gets done with a computer or a cell phone.  These are simple steps suitable for a five years old.  Get them started on security early – it is not going to get safer any time soon

Fostering habits for some simple yet good cybersecurity and privacy best practices early on can go a long way.

1. Lock the device.

When it’s time to put away the phone or tablet so your child can do something else like going to the park, remind them to lock it. They can do this by pressing the power button of the device. Of course, this only works if you have Lock Screen enabled on the device.

If your child is 5 years old and up, you can explain to them that locking the phone or tablet stops other people from using it without asking permission.

2. Use passwords.

Teach your children how to use passwords and how to remember them easily

Of course, in order to lock a device’s screen, a password is needed in this case. Not going for a pattern lock is deliberate. At this stage, we’re not only seeding the idea of creating strong passwords but also making locking devices the norm (From 2016 to 2018, a reported 28 percent of Americans surveyed failed to use any safeguards to lock their phones).

Don’t be too concerned about length yet, but if you can get your little one to spell out and remember a six to eight-character string—ideally, a word—you’re both golden. We started our little one with a three-letter password to open her tablet when she was four, and we plan to triple that length now that she’s two years older.

3. Keep the device in a safe place.

Instruct your little one to put away the phone or tablet after they lock it. Make sure you already have a designated place in the house that your child knows about. Also, check that this place is accessible, and if it has doors, they can easily open and close them with minimal effort and supervision.

Under a pillow on the master’s bed works, too (just don’t forget to remove it before bedtime).

4. Ask for permission.

Your five-year-old may have access to either the Google Play or Apple App stores via the device you’re letting them use. Whether you have parental controls set up for these stores or not, wouldn’t it be great to hear them ask: “Is this okay to download, mum?” This gives you, the parent or guardian, the opportunity to review the app to see if it’s any good for them (Remember, dubious apps can still end up in these stores.).

The same principle should apply when they’re watching videos on YouTube.

Every now and again, we see or read about cute or cartoony clips that are not actually for kids’ consumption. And believe it or not, some of them were purposefully made to appear inviting to young children. To be safe, a critical eye is needed because, sometimes, even YouTube’s AI can get it wrong.

When the children are young insist that they share with family and close friends.

5. Share only with relatives and close family friends.

Kiddo loves having her picture taken. Sometimes, she would ask me to take a snap and send it to her Nana, who is part of an Instagram group.

Thankfully, only family members—and those close to us who’re treated as family—are members of that group. We would’ve been reluctant to share otherwise.

Kiddo doesn’t have a single social media account, but we’re already instilling in her the value of information related to her and, consequently, us. She knows our home address, for example, and she also knows she should only share it with a policeman or policewoman if she’s lost.

Final thoughts

The computing devices and apps your little one uses are already impacting them in more ways than one. It’s essential to steer them in the right direction by getting ourselves involved in their digital lives as early as possible. There is plenty of room for growth.

So, parents and guardians, be patient. Repeat these points and expand on them. And, if you’re lucky, be thankful that before your child starts school, they already have some of the cybersecurity and privacy basics down.


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Our Members of Parliament are speaking out: Gould on child care and poverty; Damoff on the Black Community

By Staff

February 7th, 2023



At 2:40 pm yesterday afternoon Burlington MP Karina Gould stood up in the House of Commons and had this to say.

Burlington MP Karina Gould

“Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear: Over the last seven years, this government has been there for Canadians. In fact, from 2015 to 2020, poverty in Canada was reduced by 2.7 million Canadians. That is 782,000 children and 178,000 seniors.

“What happened in 2015? The government changed. The Liberals were elected and the Conservatives were out. It seems like something happened.” What can one say to that?

Oakville North—Burlington MP Pam Damoff.

Earlier in the month Pam Damoff rose in the House and reminded Canadians that February is Black History Month and added:

Mr. Speaker, 28 years ago, Canada’s first Black woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine, was responsible for the House of Commons designating February as Black History Month in Canada.

Every February and throughout the year, we honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present, whose contributions have helped to make Canada the prosperous, compassionate and multicultural nation it is today. It is also a time to reflect on, and to remove, the inequities that still exist for Black Canadians.

Damoff is the MP for Oakville North—Burlington. She reminded her constituents of the several Black oriented groups in the community: The Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, Halton Black History Awareness Society, Sheridan College, Black Mentorship Inc. and many other organizations are hosting events and community programming taking place this month.

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Will we lose something with the new Canada Day plans ? Brant Street will be closed.

By Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2023



Canada Day is going to be different this year.

New Canadians being sworn in on Canada Day.

Traditionally, people have gathered at Spencer Smith Park; some years to watch new Canadians being sworn in as citizens. Two Mounties usually volunteer to take part in the event

There will be a speaker talking about what makes Canada special.

The Teen Tour Band performs.

Before the Brant Museum underwent a massive change ice cream and strawberries were served. It hardened back to a time when a Strawberry Social was a significant social event in Burlington.

Brant museum serves strawberries and ice cream on Canada Day

This July the city is going to close Brant Street from Lakeshore Road up to Caroline. No word yet on just how the city will “animate” the street; expect the merchants to put their wares on the sidewalk and every outdoor patio will be filled as long as the weather holds.

With all the “action” taking place on Brant Street will people still gather at the Park ?

People will certainly work their way down to the Park for the fire works display.

Some serious thinking to be done about how the day will work out.  Could be very interesting.

Council put the $15,000 cost of closing a street in the budget in perpetuity.

The Day ends with a huge sire works display



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Cheap Dates With Your Library Love

By Staff

February 7th, 2023



No money? No problem!

Celebrating the month of love with your sweetheart doesn’t have to cost much when you have a library card.

Here are some ways you can spend a date with your Valentine (or Palentine) using your Burlington Public Library membership.

Too cute to take a pass on. They are free – at the library

This month, they are offering free Valentine’s Day postcards from our Ivan Cleaver historic postcard collection. We have restored a super cute card for you to share with your cutie. Pick one up at your local branch and stay to learn about all the fun ways you can celebrate with your sweetheart.

Enjoy A Movie Night In!

Your Burlington Public Library Card gives you access to thousands of movies online and on DVD. Borrow or download an old favourite, toss a bag of popcorn in the microwave, and cozy up on the couch.

We have two free streaming services you can use with your library card: Kanopy and Hoopla. They both offer award-winning documentaries, classic cinema, and modern hits.

Have a Book Swap Date
Visit the library and go “secret shopping” with your pal or paramour. Give each other a few prompt words, then hit the stacks separately to search for a book that your love would love. Want to level up this option? Bring a thermos of coffee or hot cocoa and read your selections in our comfy seating areas once you’ve swapped. This would also be a great outing for pals!

Take An Online Cooking Class Together
Learning a skill together is a wonderful way to build on common interests. Your BPL card gives you access to free online courses through Kanopy’s The Great Courses collection including Mediterranean Cooking, Wine Tasting, and Spice Blends. Pick up some ingredients at the grocery store and learn alongside world-class chefs!

Ryan explaining how a piece of software can be used to a women who visited the MakerSpace at the Library.

Take A Step Back In Time
Flash back to a significant date in your relationship by browsing our collection of historic newspapers on microfilm. You can use our microfilm reader at Central Branch to view Burlington newspapers dating back to 1899! While you’re here, log on to with our free in-branch membership and unearth your family history.

Make Something Special
Visit our MakerSpace at Central Branch to create a special Valentine’s gift together. You can print a favourite photo of the two of you using our large format printer or engrave it on a block of wood using our laser cutter. What about a puzzle piece keychain laser cut from acrylic to remind you both that you’re a perfect fit? Our MakerSpace operates on a cost-recovery model. Visit our MakerSpace web page to plan your project and book time to visit.

In February and beyond, the library has plenty of activities to enjoy without spending a dime. Come solo, with friends, or as a couple—you’re always welcome.

Related news story:

The MakerSpace

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The document that will make the tax bill legal

By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2023



Here is what council voted on before they went home after a long, exhausting day.

It will go before Council on the 14th.

No roses in this Valentine gift.

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Budget increase lands at 7.52% after starting at 7.08%

By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2023


It took a bit of time but before they went home at very close to 10:00 pm, they did lower the tax increase to 7.52% – down from the 7.67%

Budget deliberations started at 7.08%

The upside is that they managed to get the whole thing done in a single day – they admittedly they got a little on the silly side in the last few hours.

There is a lot to comment on in this budget – we will leave that to another day.

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7.67% budget increase - and it isn't over yet

By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2023



Hang on to your hats – that budget number to a leap this time.

If everything that is being discussed gets past the increase could be 7.67% – up from the 7.08% they started with.

And it ain’t over yet.

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Spending just keeps climbing - no mercy for those without the means to pay taxes

By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2023



On the matter of that budget – It didn’t get any better.

Council just could not stop the spending.

At the mid afternoon break the budget that started out at 7.08%, wiggled up to 7.12 before lunch and kept on rising to 7.14%

As one listens to this council it becomes very clear that they have no interest in reducing the spending.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna beavered away at cutting somewhere had no luck – none of his motions made any yardage.

And it’s not over yet.

They are going to take a break at 3:30 for a CLOSED session

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Community invited to comment on Mountainside Pool Revitalization Public Art finalists

By Staff

February 6th, 2023



City Hall would like residents to comment on the work of the three finalists who submitted proposals for art work that is to be part of the Mountainside Pool Revitalization Project Public Art mural.

These comments will help the Steering Committee choose the final artist from the three finalists they selected.

Residents can go HER until Monday, Feb. 20 to view and comment on the mural concepts.

The City of Burlington’s public art program is hiring a professional artist to paint a mural as part of this project. This revitalization will create a new attractive, fun and welcoming multi-use outdoor swimming pool.

Three artists have been shortlisted and have created preliminary design concepts for the public to review and offer comments. The community Steering Committee will evaluate the public feedback plus the technical proposal to select the winning artist.

To review the three proposed designs and submit feedback, residents can go to the project page.

The finalists
The three finalists for the Mountainside Pool Public Art mural are:

Artists: Clear Eyes Collective
Title: Take a Step

Artists: Jomae
Title: Currents

Artist: Megan Oldhues
Title: The Woodlot’s Edge Through our Children’s Lens

Submit Feedback
Once the three proposed artwork concepts have been reviewed, feedback may be submitted on one or all three designs using comment boxes. These comments, along with the technical and design proposals will inform the jury’s final selection.

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City budget projection increase from 7.08% to 7.12% half way through budget debates - Councillor Nisan back in Chamber

By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2023



With Council just a bit over halfway through the Budget motions the projected 7.08 % increase moved up to 7.12 %

Councillor Nisan returns to the Council Chamber.

Councillor Bentivegna has 6 of the 15 motions under his name while Councillor Rory Nisan had 4 in his name.

We have to note that a fully masked Councillor Nisan has returned to the Council Chamber. We don’t believe he has been at a Council meeting since the start of the pandemic in 2020

Finance Director Joan Ford told Council that she hoped the budget could be wrapped up in a single day to which Councillor Sharman gave a quick thumbs up.

The Budget meeting is being chaired by Councillor Kearns who is giving Councillor Bentivegna the roughest ride he has ever had in his five years as a Council member.

The to and the fro between senior staff and council members has been interesting – this council has shown that it wants to do things differently.

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