Integrity Commissioner serves several functions; in Burlington they have been busy dealing with complaints Councillors make about each other

By Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2023


Minor update: Report used covers the period from May 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021.

There has been a lot of news about decisions that have been made by the Integrity Commissioner for Burlington – many people don’t know all that much about how they operate.

Recently, in Burlington, the Commissioner has been busy.

We were aware of the complaint made by two Councillors, Rory Nisan and Kelvin Galbraith, against Councillor Stolte, and the self-complaint that Lisa Kearns made to the Commissioner when she spoke about what she was not supposed to talk about – the amount of money the city had budgeted to defend the Waterfront Hotel development that was before the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Then there was the complaint Tom Muir made about Conflict of Interest Matters related to property owned by Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith.

Four of the seven members of Council have been the object of complaint taken to the Commissioner. That must be some kind of a record.  We recently became aware of an additional complaint that didn’t go anywhere.

We wonder just how many complaints have been taken to the Commissioner by members of Council.

The Commissioner makes an annual report to Council. The most recent that is publicly available is dated September 2021. UPDATE: Report used covers the period from May 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021.

Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)

In its report Principles Integrity said:

“The purpose of an integrity commissioner’s annual report is to provide the public with the opportunity to understand the ethical well-being of the City’s elected and appointed officials through the lens of our activities.

Jeffrey A. Abrams: Co-Principal / Integrity Commissioner at Principles Integrity

“Principles Integrity, a partnership focused on accountability and governance matters for municipalities was formed in 2017. Since its formation, Principles Integrity has been appointed as integrity commissioner (and occasionally as lobbyist registrar and closed meeting investigator) in over 40 Ontario municipalities and other public bodies. Principles Integrity is an active member of the Municipal Integrity Commissioner of Ontario (MICO)

Jeffrey A. Abrams and Janice Atwood-Petkovski, are Co-Principals at Principles Integrity, both are lawyers.

• Advice on ethical policy development
• Education on matters relating to ethical behaviour
• Providing on request, advice and opinions to members of Council and members of Local Boards
• Providing, on request, advice and opinions to Council
• Provide a mechanism to receive inquiries (often referred to as ‘complaints’) which allege a breach of ethical responsibilities
• Resolving complaints, and
• Where it is in the public interest to do so, investigating, reporting and making recommendations to council within the statutory framework, while being guided by Council’s codes, policies and protocols.

“This might contrast with the popular yet incorrect view that the role of the integrity commissioner is primarily to hold elected officials to account; to investigate alleged transgressions and to recommend ‘punishment’. The better view is that integrity commissioners serve as an independent resource, coach, and guide, focused on enhancing the municipality’s ethical culture.

“The operating philosophy of Principles Integrity recites this perspective. We believe there is one overarching objective for a municipality in appointing an integrity commissioner, and that is to raise the public’s perception that its elected and appointed officials conduct themselves with integrity:

“The perception that a community’s elected representatives are operating with integrity is the glue which sustains local democracy. We live in a time when citizens are skeptical of their elected representatives at all levels. The overarching objective in appointing an Integrity Commissioner is to ensure the existence of robust and effective policies, procedures, and mechanisms that enhance the citizen’s perception that their Council (and local boards) meet established ethical standards and where they do not, there exists a review mechanism that serves the public interest.
The practical effect of achieving this objective is an increase in trust, respect and engagement in local affairs.

“In carrying out our broad functions, the role falls into two principal areas. ‘Municipal Act’ functions, focused on codes of conduct and other policies relating to ethical behaviour, and ‘MCIA’ or Municipal Conflict of Interest Act functions. From an activity perspective, an integrity commissioner’s role can be depicted this way:


“The emphasis of Principles Integrity is to help municipalities enhance their ethical foundations and reputations through the drafting of effective codes of conduct and other policies governing ethical behaviour, to provide meaningful education related to such policies, and to provide pragmatic binding advice to Members seeking clarification on ethical issues.

“Because the development of policy and the provision of education and advice is not in every case a full solution, the broad role of the integrity commissioner includes the function of seeking and facilitating resolutions when allegations of ethical transgressions are made, and, where it is appropriate and in the public interest to do so, conducting and reporting on formal investigations. This in our view is best seen as a residual and not primary role.

“Much of the work of an integrity commissioner is done under a cloak of confidentiality. While in some cases secrecy is required by statute, the promise of confidentiality encourages full disclosure by the people who engage with us. We maintain the discretion to release confidential information when it is necessary to do so for the purposes of a public report, but those disclosures would be limited and rare.

Our Activity on your behalf:
“During the period covered by this report, we have been engaged in a moderate level of activity as Integrity Commissioner for the City of Burlington which subdivides roughly into three categories:

1. Policy Development and Education
“During the period covered by this report, while there has not been an opportunity to provide training, we have been available to senior administration regarding ethical and governance issues.

“As part of our responsibilities as Integrity Commissioner, over the coming months, we will be reviewing the City of Burlington’s Code of Good Governance and will be providing recommendations regarding required updates.

“Where, as in Burlington, Members also serve on Regional Council, it is helpful when Codes for both City and Regional Council align. Given that we also serve as Halton Region’s Integrity Commissioner, we will endeavour to ensure such alignment, and will keep this in mind during our review.

2. Advice
“The advice function of the integrity commissioner is available to all Members of Council and where applicable their staff and Members of local boards on matters relating to the code of conduct, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and any other matter touching upon the ethical conduct of Members.

“Advice provided by the integrity commissioner is confidential and independent, and where all the relevant facts are disclosed, is binding upon the integrity commissioner.

“Our advice is typically provided in a short Advice Memorandum which confirms all relevant facts and provides with clarity our analysis and a recommended course of action.
Though advice is confidential, we can advise that the bulk of the issues we provided guidance on this year arose in the context of properly identifying and appropriately recognizing actual and perceived conflicts of interest. The clarifications and guidance provided to Members seemed to be readily understood and welcome.

“During the period covered by this report, we responded to nine (9) such requests for advice.

3. Complaint Investigation and Resolution
“Our approach to reviewing complaints starts with a determination as to whether an inquiry to us is within our jurisdiction, is beyond a trifling matter, is not either frivolous or vexatious, and importantly, whether in its totality it is in the public interest to pursue. We always look to the possibility of informal resolution in favour of formal investigation and reporting. Once a formal investigation is commenced, the opportunity to seek informal resolution is not abandoned.

“Where we are able to resolve a matter without concluding a formal investigation, our practice is to provide a written explanation in the form of a Disposition Letter to the complainant to close the matter. Often the respondent Member is involved in preliminary fact-finding and will also be provided with a summary of the disposition.

“Where formal investigations commence, they are conducted under the tenets of procedural fairness and Members are confidentially provided with the name of the Complainant and such information as is necessary to enable them to respond to the allegations raised.

“During the period covered by this report, one inquiry was brought to our attention by a member of the public. The inquiry related three separate issues, which were intermingled operational complaints with claims about involvement by members of Council. Following lengthy discussion of the facts including explanation of the respective roles of staff and members of Council, the complainant determined not to file a formal complaint in pursuit of the matter.

Ethical Themes Around the Province:
“With due regard to our obligation to maintain confidentiality, this annual report enables us to identify learning opportunities from advice requests and investigations conducted in a variety of municipalities.


“One area of prominence continues to be the failure of some Members of Council to adhere to rules against disparagement. Members of Council are entitled, and indeed expected to disagree on all manner of issues. However, one of the cornerstones to democracy must be the recognition that different opinions and perspectives are to be respected, and disagreement should not devolve into disrespect, disparagement and name-calling.

“Disrespectful interactions and/treatment of others can fall along a continuum which may manifest as occasional incivility and micro-aggressions, but when unchecked can culminate in bullying and harassment. Members of Council should be mindful to treat each other, staff and the pubic with appropriate respect and professionalism at all times.

“Some Members of Council hold a view was that they are entitled to their freely express their opinion, even if that includes disparagement of others, and so long as they share it via personal email, and not on the municipal server, they are not constrained by any rules around decorum. This is incorrect. Members are bound by the Code provisions of respectful and non-disparaging communication, whether sharing views on their own email, social media, or elsewhere.

“Regardless of the medium, regardless of the intended audience, and regardless of motive, we have observed several instances where Members of Council in municipalities around the province have been found to have breached ethical standards by saying or recording things they have come to regret.

“With respect to social media, we recently reported on the practice of an elected official who used an open Twitter account (where other users of the platform may join a discussion without seeking permission from the account holder) and who arbitrarily blocked a follower. Open social media accounts are, particularly during a pandemic, akin to the ‘town square’. Persons may be blocked from participating, but only on notice, and for proper reasons. We recommended that the municipality adopt policy guidance on the practice, and we recommend that the City consider this approach as well.

Recognizing and avoiding conflicts of interest
“Another area Members frequently require additional clarification on is recognizing and appropriately identifying conflicts of interest when they arise. These often include when members are part of another organization or club whose interests are impacted by a matter before Council, or when members are active professionally within the community and a matter before Council may potentially impact one of their current or past clients.

“As always, obtaining clear and reliable advice from the integrity commissioner can help avoid costly and time-consuming investigations.

Staying in your lane
“One area of concern that arises from time to time is members of Council overstepping their role, attempting to ‘take the reins’ to fix a constituent’s problem, or directing staff how to do their job. Members of Council serve an important role in putting constituents in touch with appropriate staff, and following established processes, but it is important to strike the correct balance. Failing to recognize this may be perceived by staff as undermining staff or interfering with their duties, and may attract exposure for the Member and the municipality where the Member’s activities are not in compliance with the relevant regulatory scheme (such as using mandated personal protective equipment; following proper risk management processes; ensuring safety for the Member, their constituents, and the general public). Equally importantly, it interferes with the line- management routines properly established by the municipality so that its workers have clarity in who they are to take instructions from.

Provincial Consultation regarding Codes of Conduct

“Early in 2021 the Provincial Government announced a consultation on strengthening accountability regarding municipal codes of conduct, which consultation period concludes July 15, 2021. Principles Integrity is working with MICO to provide input to the Province to improve the framework while recognizing the many components which are currently working effective.”

Principles Integrity is part way through their second contract with the city of Burlington.

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City knows that the web site doesn't really work all that well - a solution is on the table

By Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2023


This is  a very technical document; not intended for readers who struggle with the email.  It is the story about some of the really great stuff that is being done with information technology and points out that the communications still don’t understand engagement.

Residents complained for years about how difficult it was to find information on the city web site.

In the fullness of time a team was pulled together and tasked with creating an easier to use web site.

It was not a comfortable change.

One of the biggest concerns was that a lot of information that was once available to people was no longer accessible.

The city administration said they were working on it – on of the solutions offered up by a staff member was to pay a fee to get the information you wanted.  It was never clear what the city was going to do.

At a Standing Committee there was a report on the Consent agenda: Enterprise Web Architecture & Modernization Review, prepared by KPMG, that was very thorough and not all that kind to the people on staff who did the redesign that people are not happy with.

As an item on the Consent agenda it does not get discussed unless a member of Council ask that it be added to the regular agenda. Councillors can also make a comment; there were no comments on this item.

The Enterprise Web Architecture & Modernization Review outlined opportunities and recommendations on modernizing the City of Burlington’s current web architecture to:

1. Transform into a customer-centric approach and enhance overall customer experience (CX)
2. Enhance internal operations, service efficiencies and effectiveness
3. Reduce and/or avoid cost through resource utilization and automation

The report compiles the customer-facing applications and technology architecture from CoB’s current relevant documentation, preliminary findings and observations gathered during workshops. It also provides an evaluation of the current CRM platform options (i.e., upgrading, augmenting, or replacing the current CRM) to guide CoB in its decision making process.

Target state opportunities are presented, along with their associated benefits, improvement metrics, cost impacts and requirements. The report provides a conceptual future state web architecture and a proposed three-year roadmap that shows a high-level implementation plan ordered according to priority and dependencies.

With the current CRM platform some options were in contracts  pending and there were technical risks exist that needed to be mitigated. Option 1 (Product Upgrade) will likely not achieve the full set of business benefits desired by CoB. Two options remained for CoB to further explore: Upgrade & Re-architect or Replace current CRM platform.

The KPMG report was very technical – intended for technical people. The Staff report that was sent to Council provided background.

The opportunity to take a deeper look at the technology that runs much of the software the city uses was made possible with funding the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing who provided $152.640 that was funnelled into the the Audit and Accountability Fund

These are all the services the city offers with the software it has now.

The objectives of the review were as follows:

• An assessment of existing web architecture and current state of online services, customer applications, databases, platforms, and integrations;
• Stakeholder engagement and feedback;
• Recommendations for the development of enterprise and web architecture that identifies efficiencies and results in an improved customer and employee experience;
• Recommendations for improving, upgrading or replacement of the existing customer relationship management software;
• An implementation roadmap which prioritizes and aligns related digital service enablement projects to gain high impact improvements over the next 3-5 years;
• A governance model to address how the City identifies, prioritizes, and manages web-related technology projects, risks and opportunities; and
• Actionable items with estimated timelines and budgetary requirements.

The City entered into an Agreement with KPMG in May 2022 to complete the Enterprise Web Architecture Review in accordance with the Ministry’s Audit and Accountability Fund requirements. The consultation activities were completed between May and November 2022.

The Enterprise Web Architecture Review was required to address the growing use of the CRM and its limitations, the number of systems that contribute to a disparate online experience for the City’s customers, and the desire to bridge customer data across all channels, systems and services.

The Enterprise Web Architecture & Modernization Review report prepared by KPMG outlines opportunities and recommendations on modernizing the City of Burlington’s current web architecture to:

1. Transform through a customer-centric approach and enhance overall customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX);
2. Enhance internal operations, service efficiencies and effectiveness;
3. Reduce and/or avoid cost through resource utilization and automation.

The report compiles the customer-facing applications and technology architecture from current documentation, preliminary findings and observations gathered during workshops. It also provides an evaluation of the current CRM platform options (i.e., upgrading, augmenting, or replacing the current CRM) so that the City can decide which option is most appropriate.

The report provides a conceptual future state web architecture and focuses on best practices to enhance the overall customer experience for residents and visitors.

Several architecture themes and principles were derived and target state opportunities were identified and associated with efficiencies. These efficiencies could be gained from proposed initiatives, improvement metrics, dependencies, cost impacts and requirements. Moreover, each opportunity is associated with a proposed initiative(s) to achieve the target state. A proposed three-year roadmap shows a recommended high- level implementation plan.

There are opportunities for further enhancements to what is in place now.

The report identifies that in order to achieve the objectives for a future state web architecture, incremental improvements will be required to address:

• The use of the existing CRM and Microsoft Dynamics platform, hosting model, and required upgrade to version 9;
• A unified approach to customer facing technologies to optimize development resources and skills;
• Implementation of a Customer Identity and Access Management model as the foundation for an improved and secure identification and login experience across service areas and applications;
• Implementation of Master Data Management strategy and principles to unify, govern and maintain quality customer data in a manner that is system agnostic;
• Improvements in the use of integration tools, standards and data access across applications;
• Improvements in system driven workflows over manual workflows;
• Increased availability of data to Service Burlington to service customers more effectively and improve service level response times;
• Improved business intelligence analytics to unlock greater insights such as sentiment analysis.

Related Initiatives
The City approved three initiatives under separate funding agreements with the Province of Ontario:

1) Enterprise Web Architecture & Modernization Review

2) Land Management Database Platform Review

3) Streamline Development Application Fund

The Mayor and the Staff members that went to Itabashi in Japan were dancing in the streets. Mayor is so excited over the new software services that are being put in place she wants to dance in the streets of Burlington. Will City Manager Tim Commisso go with her again?wants to do the same thing in Burlington

This this third funded assignment was discussed at Council on Tuesday.

Councillors were ecstatic – the Mayor wanted to march and dance through the streets of the city while Councillor Stolte wanted to do a Wooo Whoooo

The Streamline Development Approval Initiative Fund (SDAF) project is a one-time project delivering specific improvements to the low density residential development approval service.

The Gazette reports on the SDAF separately.

All three initiatives share the objective of finding efficiencies and cost savings in the provision of city services to deliver an enhanced customer experience. Each focuses on business outcomes which include the customer online experience and enabling technologies.

Next Steps
A cross functional team led by Customer Experience, IT Services and Corporate Communications & Engagement is evaluating the options in the Enterprise Web Architecture report and will provide an update to Council in early Q2 2023.

An analysis of the next steps will consider the KPMG findings with respect to web architecture and CRM in the context of:

• viability and feasibility including cost, resource and vendor contract impacts;
• a broader enterprise architecture model;
• desired business outcomes;
• customer and employee experience; and
• the prioritization of separate and related initiatives occurring across the corporation.

In total, 26 sessions were held to gather feedback from key stakeholders of online services, the Customer Experience Advisory Team, CRM users and implementation teams, and other technical and business application owners.

A survey of CRM users was completed to gauge satisfaction with the existing CRM product. These sessions provided insight to the current state, and to the development of a proposed future state road-map.

Kwab Ako-Adjei had an opportunity to tell people what an improved web site will be able to do.

A couple of things were learned from the Standing Committee:

Chad MacDonald, Chief Information Officer knows his stuff. He has assembled a staff of very smart people who are setting the city up for a transition into an operation that will provide a very high level of integration between the departments – when it comes to data and information there will be no more silos.

The unfortunate part was that Council didn’t take the opportunity to let MacDonald and Kwab Ako-Adjei takes ten minutes to explain what this will mean to the public.

There is a lot of work yet to be done and a lot of expense but Ako-Adjei missed the opportunity to look into the web cast camera and say to the public ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. This is where the communications people fail themselves and fail the city.

Really Good stuff is happening – but you don’t know about it.

There was a time when a project of this magnitude would never even been considered. Now – it could actually happen.

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Traditional Anishinaabe Iconography Appears in Room 2023 - opening at the AGB January 13th

By Staff

January 12th, 2023



In this survey of new and recent works, multidisciplinary artist Caroline Monnet centers geometries, especially the cube, to draw attention to how different spatial relationships condition the way that we live and think.
The Monnet work will be on display in the Lee Chin Gallery on January 13th.

The Room (2023), a ten-foot square construction of industrial-grade styrofoam.

Monnet’s practice moves between textiles, photography, sculpture, and film to address the complexity of Indigenous identities and bilateral legacies, drawing from her Anishinaabe and French heritages.
In her work, traditional Anishinaabe sacred geometry transforms and softens the industrial into something more personal, constructing a new point of view—centering the cube. As a form, the cube is present in architecture and many traditions of building, shaping the way we understand the world and dictating the ways in which we live, play, and learn. And, like the repetitious creations unfolded in birch biting, Holding Up The Sky follows a symmetrical continuum.

The exhibition features her new work The Room (2023), a ten-foot square construction of industrial-grade styrofoam, a material used in residential buildings to create water and air-resistive barriers and insulate against inclement climate conditions. The Room is open on one side, exposing the box and welcoming the audience into its constructed space.

The foam is incised with a repetitive pattern; the motifs, inspired by traditional Anishinaabe iconography, break the strictness of the industrial square form by introducing the personal and the poetic into architectural rigidity.

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Art Gallery releases winter program

By Staff

January 11th, 2023



The Art Gallery has released their Winter2023 programming that is now open for registration.

Courses & Workshops

Clay Dates: Friday, January 20 and Friday February 24, from 6:30 – 9:30 PM

Youth Drawing Fantasy Figures: Saturdays for 6 weeks starting January 28

Youth Storytelling Through Sculpture: Saturdays for 6 weeks starting January 28

Youth (Teen) Clay Studio: Saturdays for 6 weeks starting January 28

Adult Introduction to Wheel Throwing: Thursdays for 8 weeks starting February 2

Adult Fun & Functional Pottery: Saturdays for 8 weeks starting January 28

Adult Painting Fundamentals: Thursdays for 8 weeks starting February 2

Adult Drawing from Observation: Thursdays for 8 weeks starting February 2

Adult Weaving Basics & Beyond: Tuesdays for 10 weeks starting January 31


Family Open Studios: Sundays for 8 weeks starting January 15

Family Day Fun: Monday, February 20, from 10 AM – 5 PM / Free Activities

Drop in Collage Party with Charlie Star: Sunday, February 19, from 1 – 4:00 PM

Book Swap Event: Saturday, March 11, from 1 – 4:00 PM


PA Day Camp: Friday, January 17 and Friday, February 17, from 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM

March Break Camp: Monday, March 13 to Friday, March 17, from 9 AM – 4:00 PM

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District School Board sponsoring a second set of Mental Health & Well-Being Information Sessions

By Staff

January 10th, 2023



The Halton District School Board is hosting additional for parents/guardians in January.

Covering specific topics based on feedback from parents/guardians, each session will be led by a mental health expert in that area who will share their knowledge and provide helpful information and resources.

Sessions include:

• Supporting Gender Diverse Students – Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

• Mental Health, Well-Being and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)* – Thursday, Jan. 19 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

*Note: This is a repeated workshop offered last year.

Registration is required for these sessions: space is limited.  Parents/guardians can register by completing the Mental Health & Well-Being Information Sessions Registration Form. Sessions will be held on Google Meet, where closed captioning is available in various languages. Registrants will be emailed a link to access the session. Sessions will not be recorded.

Parents/guardians will have the opportunity to submit questions when completing the registration form or during the session. The Board’s Mental Health & Well-Being webpage has information for parents/guardians and students on mental health, ways to support positive mental health and well-being, and how to get additional support at school and in the broader community.

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Is the Burlington tax rate going to be the highest in the province?

By Staff

January 10th, 2023


Are taxes going to be high sky ?


Toronto property taxes will increase by 5.5 per cent, plus a 1.5 per cent increase levy for the City Building Fund in 2023, increasing the bill for the average homeowner this year by $233.

Meanwhile Burlington is working with a 7% increase that shows signs of coming in at something above the 7%

Burlington is scheduled to decide just what the tax rate will be on February 14th; appropriate.

Related news story:

What Burlington readers think about the tax rate.

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Halton Council appointed Lisa Kearns as Council representative to the Halton Police Board

By Staff

January 10th, 2023



Halton Regional Council appointed Ms. Lisa Kearns as Regional Council representative to the Halton Police Board for the 2022-2026 term. The Halton Police Board was pleased to welcome Lisa Kearns as our newest Regional Council Board member at the December 22, 2022, meeting.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns with Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner

Ms. Kearns is an elected Halton Region and City of Burlington Councillor (Ward 2), and Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement and Partnerships in her second term. She brings a wealth of experience from various national management positions in healthcare, manufacturing, and advertising, delivering powerful results throughout her career. Ms. Kearns holds an Honours BA in Political Science, enhanced by a business-stream curriculum from the University of Western Ontario, and has obtained the Institute of Corporate Directors designation.

At Burlington City Hall, Ms. Kearns serves as the Budget Chair and is the Council liaison to many advisory committees. She also serves on the Board of Directors for several local organizations, including Burlington Food Bank, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Burlington Public Library, Art Gallery Burlington, and Burlington Sound of Music.

About the Halton Police Board
The Halton Police Board is a seven-member board that provides strategic governance to the Halton Regional Police Service. It is a provincially mandated legal entity that operates independently from the Regional or Municipal Council. As such, it is the Board’s responsibility to ensure the residents of Halton Region receive adequate and effective police services following policing standards issued by the Province. In essence, the Board is the trustee of public interest regarding the provision of all police services in the community.

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Grindstone creek - it plays a vital role - hampered by Bill 23

By Staff

January 10th, 2023


Note from a reader:  Just saw your piece on the importance of Ontario wetlands, and wanted to share a report that really demonstrates the value of Grindstone Creek watershed (and watersheds in general). Our organization, the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, partnered with the Cities of Hamilton, Burlington, Conservation Halton, the Greenbelt Foundation and Royal Botanical Gardens on this project.

We’ve gotten some pick up of the report as a story in Water Canada and TVO, but local news and interest is always the most powerful, especially now that this report and recommendations are with Councils.

At a time when Ontario’s Greenbelt is eyed for development, a new report demonstrates that natural assets in Grindstone Creek are extremely valuable in addressing local flood risk, but these costs will be thrust onto communities if protection of the watershed does not become a priority.

The Grindstone Creek watershed and its sub-watersheds are located partially within the Cities of Burlington and Hamilton and the Regional Municipality of Halton. 91 km2, the watershed is also a part of Ontario’s Greenbelt, and contains the greatest diversity of wildlife of any Canadian Forest Zone, including species found nowhere else in the country.

The Grindstone Creek Watershed Natural Asset Project is the first of its kind in Ontario, bringing partners from across jurisdictions to address their shared watershed. The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI), with support from the Greenbelt Foundation, partnered with the Cities of Hamilton, Burlington, Conservation Halton and Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) to explore the value and condition of natural assets in Grindstone Creek and to incorporate them in local financial planning and asset management.

The report finds that the estimated value of stormwater management services alone is equivalent to over $2 billion in engineered infrastructure replacements, not including operational costs. The watershed also provides an annual service value of approximately $34 million in co-benefits, including recreation, erosion control, habitat biodiversity, atmospheric regulation, and climate mitigation.

“This project makes clear the vital importance of the infrastructure and non-infrastructure services provided by natural assets in the Grindstone Creek watershed — and a path to protect them as core assets for the long-term,” says Roy Brooke, Executive Director of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. “Although we can’t reduce nature to a simple dollar figure, this shows the enormous financial value of services communities are getting from nature. Protecting these assets avoids taxpayers getting stuck with a far higher bill to replace services that nature gives us already,” he added.

Flooding is Ontario’s most costly natural hazard, and with strains from ageing infrastructure and tight municipal budgets, the value of pre-existing, climate-resilient infrastructure will only increase.

“The Greenbelt Foundation is proud to support the Grindstone Creek Watershed project, which shows the tremendous potential of a community effort to deliver cost-effective municipal services that enhance our towns’ and cities’ ability to mitigate growing risks like flooding,” says Greenbelt Foundation CEO Ed McDonnell. “The report by MNAI affirms the substantial economic value of critical natural assets, the importance of integrating this knowledge into municipal planning, and it is further proof that the Ontario Greenbelt is one of our greatest resources to address urbanization and climate change.”

In the report, MNAI identified two immediate actions needed in the Grindstone Creek watershed: restore high-risk priority areas to avoid loss of natural assets; and commit to improving governance and collaborative strategies long-term.

Hassaan Basit, President of Conservation Halton.

“If we’re going to effectively tackle resource issues, like flooding and erosion, we need to use science and data to better understand how our watershed functions and reacts to different stresses, like climate change,” says Hassaan Basit, President of Conservation Halton. “With this understanding, Conservation Halton, municipalities, and other partners can work together to find cost-effective ways to respond to today’s changing environment. By recognizing that what happens upstream affects what happens downstream, we can help to prepare and protect for the future.”

Results and recommendations from the project have gone to the respective Councils and Board Members of Hamilton, Burlington, Conservation Halton and RBG for their consideration, with further discussion to take place early in the new year.

Meanwhile the provincial government passes Bill 23 that that brings about changes in several pieces of legislation that impact what happens to the creeks.

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You can never know too much about Real Estate - the Rocca Sisters want to teach you more

By Staff

January 9th, 2023



Enjoy the gift of Real Estate investing is the way the Rocca Sisters explained a Workshop they are offering anyone interested.

Free as well.

The “sisters” have opened up new offices on Brant Street, right across from Joe Dogs.  They call it their head office – I see it as the house with the pink chimney

Anyone considering investing in Real Estate will want to pay close attention to any advice they can lay their hands on

Register for the Workshops


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MP Karina Gould has an RCMP security detail - in her hometown.

By Staff

January 9th, 2023



Who knew?

During her New Year’s levee, Burlington MP Karina Gould found two demonstrators with a large banner standing in front of her demanding that the federal government not purchase F35 fighter jets.

Demonstrators disrupt MP’s Levee

A group of demonstrators were also outside the Art Gallery protesting the government’s decision to buy 88 of the aircraft.

Gould is reported to have invited the demonstrators a few minutes to make their point – when they decided not to leave the room two men approached the podium to escort them out.

Both were plain clothes RCMP officers

So – Karina Gould gets RCMP protection.  How long has this been going on ?  In Burlington.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was at the event.  Did she also have a security detail?

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City Manager announces a lifting of the requirement that staff wear masks while working indoors at City Hall

By Staff

January 9th, 2023



A stabilization in reported employee sick time has led to a decision by the City’s senior leadership team to ease and adjust some of the temporary health and safety measures introduced for its employees on Nov. 28, 2022.

City manager Tom Commisso

Effective Jan. 9, 2023, City employees are no longer required to wear a mask in City workplaces. The temporary measure was in place for six weeks and expired on Jan. 8, 2023.

An approximately 44% increase in employee sick time was having a significant impact on the wellness of City staff and service delivery operations.

As of Jan. 9, 2023, this masking requirement is no longer in place.

The leadership team anticipate continued challenges through the winter. Masks continue to be strongly recommended indoors and will continue to be provided to City staff and the public at City facilities.

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That 7% tax increase explained

By Staff

January 9th, 2023



We’ve taken a slightly different approach and are using graphics to tell the budget story.

We are sharing with you the material that will be presented to council today.

The first is a graph showing what tax increases have been and are expected be going forward.

Were the budget numbers for 2023 discussed or debated during the October election? Do you recall an opportunity to talk about tax increases during August and September?

Assessment growth has not been what it has to be. Prior to 2023 the city was not collecting what it should have been collected from the development community. It will rise in 2024 and be where is should have been by 2025 – will the current council get returned at the end of this term with numbers like this?

The Operations campus is a gotta have. The Skyway Community Centre and the Bateman High School “adaptive re-use” are projects the city is going to take on a lot of debt. we note that the Mayor hasn’t said much lately about buying the LaSalle Park property owned by the city of Hamilton.

The significant increase in debt that started in 2022 is going to be with us for a couple of years. We didn’t have this amount of debt in the Goldring years.

Where the money comes from on the left (taxpayers are the source for most of it). How Capital items are paid for. Development charges and Parkland dedication are no longer as certain as they were in the past. Combined those two are higher than the debt that is going to be taken on.

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Right, Wrong and Reading the Room

By Staff

January 9th, 2023



Getting it right and listening to the people that pick up the tab has been a consistent theme during the early days of this year.

Served as a senior executive with IBM and serves with passion as a Lions Club member.

Perry Bowker sent us the following on right and wrong in 2022

Right: The re purposing of the Bateman school. Wrong: the general lack of transparency to questions being asked by the public about the deal.

Right: Rulings by the Integrity Commissioner. Wrong: again, some lack of transparency, especially the perception that the IC itself has a conflict of interest

Net: Doing good work in a challenging environment, but need to find ways to be more forthcoming about details when asked by public and the media, and not hiding behind lawyer’s recommendations – they will always counsel silence.

This isn’t the first time we have heard this.

Earlier in the week Stephen White in commenting on the 7% tax increase that is heading our way urged city council to “learn to read the room”.

Relayed opinion piece

Reading the room

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Are Transparency and Accountability about to take another hit today ?

By Pepper Parr

January 9th, 2023



When the six council members and the Mayor meet they have an agenda that usually runs into the hundreds of pages.

Many of the items on the agenda are run of the mill matters – Staff reports that have to be filed. They are placed on the Consent part of the agenda and frequently don’t get much, if anything, in the way of discussion and are all passed with a single vote.

What gets placed on the Consent agenda is usually determined by the Committee Chair in conjunction with the City Clerk

City Council meeting as a Standing Committee. Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan seldom attended live – he chooses to take part virtually

Set out below are the consent agenda items for the meeting that is taking place today.

Consent Items: Reports of a routine nature, which are not expected to require discussion and/or debate.

3.1   2022 municipal election accessibility report (CL-02-23)
This item has attachments.
Receive and file office of the city clerk report CL-02-23 regarding the 2022 municipal election accessibility report attached as Appendix A.

Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Transit Stream November 2022 intake (CS-03-23)
Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the necessary agreements and other related documents or by-laws between the Corporation of the City of Burlington and the Province of Ontario, in relation to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) – Transit Stream, should our applications be successful, to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel.

Mayor Meed Ward celebrating the arrival of a new bus in 2020

Safe Restart Funding Municipal Transit Stream – phase 4 funding This item has attachments.
Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute on behalf of The Corporation of the City of Burlington the transfer payment agreement, and any other ancillary document (s) or amendment(s), between the City of Burlington and the Province of Ontario regarding the Safe Restart Funding Municipal Transit Stream – phase 4 funding, to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel.

Senior government funding January status report (CS-05-23)
Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the necessary agreements and other related documents or by-laws between the City of Burlington and the Government of Canada, in relation to the National Resources of Canada Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP), to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel.

Transforming design and delivery of services – evolution of information technology services (ITS) department – Burlington digital service (BDS) (IT-02-23)

The Gazette dud an article in this – the size of the department is a lot bigger than most of the public expected.  Link:

Receive and file information technology services department report IT-02-23 providing background information for upcoming 2023 budget requests and supporting design and evolving organization initiative.

The Court House that handle Provincial Offence matter for all the Halton Region municipalities.

Halton Court Services 2023 Budget and Business Plan (L-04-23)

Approve the 2023 Halton Court Services (HCS) budget as presented; and

Contribute $50,000 from net revenues to the capital reserve fund during 2023 to ensure that requirements of the Capital Reserve Fund Policy are met; and

Withdraw $69,000 from the capital reserve fund for computer hard/soft replacements for the computer renewal program; and

The city and its partner (the other Regional municipalities) are asking Ministry of the Attorney General for more Justice of Peace appointments and for those appointments to be in a more timely fashion in an effort to provide a solution to the severe lack of judicial resources.

How much of this stuff needs debate?

Any member of Council can ask that an item be taken off the Consent agenda and debated just like all the other agenda items.

Anne Marsden, a regular delegator who isn’t always welcome at city hall. She can be difficult, she is persistent, she can be annoying but the city is better off with her than without her. Know about the role she played in the C-Difficile outbreak that resulted in the death of close to 100 people

Anne Marsden points out that “Past Councils would remove the item from the Consent Agenda as soon as they knew there would be a delegation. This Council refuses to do that which I maintain is contrary to Procedural By-law .”

She was planning to delegate in the 2022 municipal election accessibility report but had not filed a delegation request to the Clerk because she did not yet have information she needed to complete her delegation because information she had requested from various people, including the City Manager and the City Clerk on November 30th, 2022 has not yet been received.

While this council has gotten into the habit of talking the talk when it comes to the matter of delegations – it does not deliver. It is quite prepared to run rough shod over people that ask questions about matter they see as important.

More often than not councillors do not ask questions of the delegations. To be fair there are numerous occasions when there is some very robust back and forth between a delegation and members of council.

Anne Marsden has a passion about accessibility and is concerned that some people were not able to vote due to accessibility issues.

She wanted to delegate but she may not get that opportunity today. She could return and delegate to council later in the month.

Situations like this do not speak well of a council that uses the words accountability and transparency but regularly fails to deliver.

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OPINION: City continues to fund a lot of highly questionable, specious and frankly, wasteful initiatives

By Stephen White

January 9th, 2023



City council begins deliberating on what the tax rate will be for 2023-24 today. They will formally receive the budget book.

Stephen White, who has delegated frequently on financial matters, did some research on what the tax rate will be for other municipalities.

Cambridge, St. Catharines, Oshawa and Peterborough are comparable in size to Burlington. The proposed property tax increases that have been adopted, or in some cases that are being proposed, are as follows:

 St. Catharines = 0.76%
 Oshawa = 2.6%
 Cambridge = 3.93%
 Peterborough = 4%

A starting point of 7% for Burlington is both excessive and unrealistic.

It raises serious questions about the extent to which Burlington City officials actively benchmark key performance indicators with other municipalities.

This City continues to fund a lot of highly questionable, specious and frankly, wasteful initiatives (e.g. rainbow sidewalks, bicycle lanes, art for public property, neighbourhood street festivals, speed bumps, excessive signage, etc.). You cannot expect residents, many of whom are on fixed incomes, to absorb rate increases in the magntiude of 7% when tax revenue is frittered away on this silliness.

If the LGBTQ community wants a rainbow sidewalk let them pay for it. Artists can display their works gratis in public parks without the City having to “foot the bill”. If cyclists want to ride on a public street God bless them and make sure they stick close to the curb. If neighbourhoods want to hold a street festival let them pick up the tab. And most of us can quite easily live without speed bumps every 2 blocks, or ten “no parking” signs within a few hundred feet.

Maintaining this “nanny state” comes at a huge cost, a cost that is increasingly borne by overburdened taxpayers. City Councils in Cambridge, St. Catharines and Oshawa understand that. Hopefully, Burlington’s Council will also finally get the message soon and “read the room”.

When you click on the links below you will be taken to the full budget for each municipality.  Caution – they are long documents

St. Catharines





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Digital services is a big department. Manageable?

By Staff

January 8th, 2023



Chad MacDonald runs the Digital Services department

If you thought the Planning department was growing at a rapid pace, constantly on the look out for new people – take a look at the size of the Digital Services department. 

Roll your cursor over the graphic to enlarge the image.  We are working on getting an application that lets us enlarge more.

Yellow are proposed positions

The city administration is moving as much as they can on to digital platforms which in the long run will make for better sharing of information and the collection of data in a digital format.  Getting to that point is a challenge.




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Arts & Cultural Council of Burlington looking for jurors assist in choosing applicants for Arts And Culture fund for 2023

By Staff

January 8th, 2023



ACCOB has once again been asked to find some interested community ACCOB members to act as jurors and assist the City of Burlington in choosing successful applicants for their Arts And Culture fund for 2023.

ACCOB membership posed for a group picture at Performing Arts Centre

The form to be submitted is set out below. There is an honorarium to be given to the successful juror applicants.


Call for Jurors

 The City of Burlington and the Arts and Culture Council of Burlington (ACCOB) are pleased to announce the creation of the Burlington Arts and Culture Fund (BACF), the objective of which is to provide grants to local arts and culture organizations to foster creativity and enrich how Burlington residents experience and engage with arts and culture.

The ACCOB is formally calling for jury members to adjudicate the artistic elements of the applications for these grants.

Ancilla Ho Young a member of the ACCOB Board

Jury members must be:

  • Arts and culture professionals with high standing in the arts and culture community and representative of a wide range of artistic and cultural disciplines
  • Knowledgeable and experienced with respect to arts and culture organizations and related issues
  • Knowledgeable about the City of Burlington context and the broader arts and culture environment beyond their area of expertise
  • Able to articulate their opinions and work in a group decision‐making environment
  • Reflective of Burlington’s gender, demographic and cultural diversity as much as possible

Jurors will be required to assess applications in accordance with BACF objectives, the application guidelines and the assessment forms provided. All jurors will be compensated.

Jurors must complete the application form (included below) and send it to the Arts and Culture Council of Burlington at by February 1, 2023. Jury members will be selected by February 6 and must meet and choose a chair by February 10, 2023. Jury members must also be available to meet for assessment of grant applications between February 22 and March 3, 2023.


Arts and Culture Council of Burlington Submission Deadline: February 1, 2023



 Contact Phone No.:

Contact Email:

 **A panel of jurors will be selected by February 6, 2023 (for a term of one year) and the jury must select a chair from within the panel by February 10, 2023. Jury members must be available to assess grant applications between February 22 and March 3, 2020.

Councillor Sharman speaking to Angela Paparazzo. Manager of Cultural programs.

Provide a brief description of your professional qualifications (125 words maximum):

Describe your experience with arts and culture organizations and related issues (250 words maximum):

Describe your knowledge of the City of Burlington with respect to arts and culture (100 words maximum):

Please list your experience with group decision‐making projects:

Are you available in the months of February and March to sit on the jury? Circle                    YES   NO

If not selected this year, would you allow your name to stand for selection in future years? Circle                           YES       NO

Curriculum vitae is attached?

Circle                                  YES                              NO

Signature: Date:



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The way wetlands work and why they are protected and where they are now not as protected

By Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2023



So just why are wetlands really important?

The Premier of the province wants to permit building on wetlands and has passed legislation that opens up parts of the province to development in places that were believed to be protected forever for the benefit of future generations, permanently off-limits to urbanization.

Established in 2005, Ontario’s Greenbelt, a swath of land that encircles the Greater Toronto Area, is an aggregation of farmland, river valleys and other natural features.


They are natural and are essential if climate changes are to be effectively managed.

Wetlands are the kidneys of the planet. Wetlands have the wonderful ability to remove pollutants from water, thanks to their luscious vegetation. Cattails, for example, aren’t just good for entertainment with seedy fluff that explodes in the wind. These iconic wetland plants are able to capture excess phosphorus and nitrogen, thereby preventing harmful algal blooms.

Even more amazingly, wetlands are able to get rid of 90% of water-borne pathogens. For us, this is crucial as wetlands recharge groundwater, which 26% of Canadians rely on for drinking water.

Where a natural wetland does not exist some communities are finding ways to create them.

Wetlands are now being constructed as natural infrastructure to clean stormwater. Canada’s largest constructed stormwater treatment wetland is located in Calgary, Alberta and is the size of approximately 150 football fields.

In the spring, wetlands are brimming with waterfowl, blackbirds and shorebirds as they nest and raise their young in the safety of reeds, grasses and stones. Not only is it a sanctuary for migratory and year-round birds, there are also fish species, frogs, turtles, muskrats, minks and beavers that are long-term residents. With deer mice and ground squirrels living in the grasses adjacent to wetlands and fish swimming in open water, this ecosystem is a favourite of osprey, eagles and hawks.

Let’s not forget about the itty bitty creatures that wiggle in wetland waters. Aquatic invertebrates, such as dragonfly nymphs and snails form the base of the wetland food chain and are equally as fascinating as other wetland life.

We know them as broadleaf cattail, bulrush, common bulrush, common cattail, cat-o’-nine-tails, great reedmace, cooper’s reed and cumbungi; their real name is Typha latifolia

Wetlands are masters at carbon sequestration
This process sucks in carbon and stores it in wetland soil. Unlike when a sibling hogs all the crayons, we are happy that wetlands hog carbons because it helps to regulate the climate. But, not all wetlands are equally skilled at holding onto carbon. Peatlands, including fens and bogs, collect ‘peat’ or partially decomposed plants and other organic matter (aka a wack tonne of carbon).

When peatlands are drained for agriculture, forestry or peat harvesting, carbon and nitrogen are released as greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Approximately 25% of the world’s peatand are in Canada alone, with the Hudson Bay Lowlands as one of the worlds largest peatland systems.

Wetlands act like giant sponges
Another wetland superpower is their ability to act like a giant sponge. When the clouds open up and rain pours down, wetlands are able to absorb excess water. This means that wetlands act as a buffer against flooding. Now imagine the reverse situation. It’s dry and the land is parched, wetlands are able to release water back into the environment. In addition to their spongy talents, wetlands act as a protective barrier from storm surges along coastlines.

So much so that the mouth of Riviere du Nord in northern New Brunswick is being converted back to its natural state as a salt marsh.

Part of the Boardwalk at Point Pelee National Park

If we protect wetlands, it means that we get to enjoy all they have to offer! In the summer, they provide endless entertainment for recreational birders, photographers and casual park users with parades of waterfowl chicks and spats between Canadian geese. The water and wildlife can be explored by gliding through the wetland in canoes and kayaks.

Wetlands welcome family activities like pond-dipping to explore and learn about all the little creatures living in the marsh. In the winter, the frozen waters of wetlands can provide a surface for skating while the snow covered grasses surrounding wetlands provide the perfect opportunity to snowshoe and cross-country ski.

The wetlands are now facing real risk as the result of provincial government legislation.

Parts of the province where the risk becomes very real.

Related news story:

Are police investigating the purchase of are pieces of property. 

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Legitimate and serious concerns are ignored or skilfully deflected with practised “spin” by the current city council

By Blair Smith

January 7th, 2023



I freely admit that problems of transparency and meaningful engagement exist at all levels of the political spectrum and with each political party. However, I think that the case in Burlington provides a particularly disappointing example. First, at the municipal level the citizen’s voice is intended to be most clearly heard.

Marianne Meed Ward at the podium during a city council meeting on April 24th, 2013.

It is the level of government closest to the people and in which local voice is intended to be strongest. There are no political parties (at least formally) and there are no powerless ‘back benchers’, Cabinet and whipped Caucus. There is a Council, duly elected, and a Mayor, first amongst equals and the bell weather of the administration.

Secondly, our current Mayor and much of Council became such on a wave of populist dissatisfaction with a bureaucratic and deaf City Hall. She (and they) promised not only transparency in what the administration did but true empowerment of the citizen in an engaged partnership.

Gary Scobie at the podium on December 5th, 2019. Scobie took a hiatus but did delegate in the middle of September on a development in his neighbourhood.

Not only has this not occurred, but the situation has arguably worsened. Legitimate and serious concerns are ignored or skilfully deflected with practised “spin”; citizen activists, like Tom Muir, the Marsdens or Penny Hersh, are collectively targeted as nuisances and shut off, their voices silenced.

This Council has a duty to hear and represent all Burlington citizens. They have no right, ethical or otherwise, to selectively choose.

These are only my opinions of course – but they are made in a comments section where observations based on fact are posted for contrary opinions to consider and challenge.

Blair Smith and Lynne Crosby delegating before council. The facial expressions tell how well that event went.

Blair Smith a long time resident of Burlington has delegated frequently. He was involved in the 2018 campaign to elect Marianne Meed Ward as Mayor.

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The Wetlands: Is there an issue? Most certainly. Is there a police investigation? Not yet

By Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2023



Is there an issue?

Most certainly.

Is there a police investigation?

Not yet – the Ontario Provincial Police’s anti-rackets branch have begun making calls as they work to determine whether to open an investigation into the Ford government’s plan to allow development in parts of the Greenbelt.

The provincial government’s plan to open up sections of the Greenbelt — a long-protected swath of farmland, forests and wetlands that curves around Lake Ontario — to housing development has generated significant backlash from the public, many of whom want to see environmental protections kept in place.

Questions about the financial implications were raised in November by a joint Toronto Star-Narwhal investigation that found that developers had been buying up parts of the Greenbelt.
In one case, a prominent Ontario development company paid $80 million for two parcels of land that, at the time, could not be built on — only to see that land proposed for development just weeks later. If construction goes ahead, land values could skyrocket.

That’s what is known at this point.

Among the groups that complained — and have now received a call from an investigator — was environmental advocacy group Environmental Defence, which lodged a complaint over what executive director Tim Gray says are concerns that private companies could be making money at the public’s expense.

Wetlands are a critical part of our environment

The provincial government’s plan to open up sections of the Greenbelt — a long-protected swath of farmland, forests and wetlands that curves around Lake Ontario — to housing development has generated significant backlash from the public, many of whom want to see environmental protections kept in place.

Further questions about the financial implications were raised in November by a joint Toronto Star-Narwhal investigation.

The timing of some deals has raised eyebrows over whether developers were tipped off ahead of time — or whether they just made a well-timed bet.

Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence said: “There’s no public interest argument for why this is being done,” he said. “But there’s very clearly a private interest benefit occurring here to particular landowners, many of which purchased land since the government has been elected.”

Gray says an investigator told him in December that they’re taking the issue “very seriously.” He said he was told that police have received 13 complaints and are speaking to everyone who sent in detailed letters and beginning to review evidence.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police would not confirm that interviews were under way, but said in an emailed statement that the anti-rackets branch “is continuing to review information from complainants to determine if there is any evidence to support an actual investigation.”

Premier Doug Ford’s office did not respond to the Star’s request for comment, but told Global News that the OPP had not yet contacted the government.

In 2018, Ford was recorded privately telling developers that he would open “a big chunk” of the land up for housing should he be elected, calling it “just farmer fields.” But the tape sparked public backlash, prompting Ford to promise he wouldn’t touch the land after all. It’s a pledge he is now going back on.
The plan, officially announced in November, was to remove 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt and add 9,400 elsewhere, though it’s not clear if the new land would have equivalent ecological value.

Ford pitched the plan as a way to ease red-hot housing prices by increasing supply in the Toronto and Hamilton areas, as part of a goal to build 1.5-million homes in the next decade.

That’s an idea that environmentalists such as Gray have pushed back against, arguing that there is sufficient land elsewhere that could be developed, and that keeping what is arguably the province’s biggest natural area is important for food growth and wildlife habitat. Parks Canada has also warned that removing the protected status of some Durham-area land would cause “irreversible damage.”

One more bit of useful information.  The attempt on the part of Doug Ford, in 2019, to have close friend Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner chosen to become the new commissioner of the OPP

Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner.

Why does it matter? “The OPP can be called in to investigate provincial politicians.

The idea that the police force needs to be 100 per cent independent of politicians is more than a theoretical concern in Ontario. The OPP investigated top aides to both former Liberal premiers Dalton McGuinty (over deleting government documents about the gas plants scandal) and Kathleen Wynne (over bribery allegations surrounding a byelection race). Doubts would have clearly been cast over those investigations had a longtime friend of either premier been running the OPP at the time.

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