GO service changes - starts tonight

By Staff

October 27th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Starting today, October 27 at 10PM until end of service on Sunday, October 29, Lakeshore West rail service will be modified as follows:

  • Lakeshore West train service will run on an hourly schedule only between West Harbour and Oakville GO stations.
  • Customers at Oakville GO, Clarkson GO and Union Station will be serviced by GO bus service only. There will be no GO Bus or Train services provided to customers at Port Credit GO, Long Branch GO, Mimico GO or Exhibition GO.
    • Customers who would use these stations are encouraged to use MiWay or the TTC during this time. Port Credit GO customers can use MiWay Route 23 to connect to the GO replacement bus at Clarkson GO. Long Branch, Mimico and Exhibition GO customers can use the TTC to travel during this time.

Regular service will resume on Monday, October 30.

 

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The budget for 2024 will come from the Mayor - it will be public on Monday.

By Staff

October 27th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

The following was released by the City’s Communications department.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

One section of the document is seriously mis-leading – we highlight that section.

On Oct. 30, Mayor Meed Ward will be publicly releasing her proposed budget that will be presented on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Burlington City Council meeting. This proposed budget will be broken down into three categories:

  1. Essentials – This area will cover projects and items the City of Burlington must address and/or have already committed to, such as cost of inflation, necessary capital projects and infrastructure renewal.
  2. Frontline Service – This area will cover enhanced services that directly improves the quality of life of Burlington residents.
  3. Planning for Growth – This area will plan for and prepare for the expected increase in population, our Community Investment Plan, and allow us to catch up and prepare for the future.

In service to that, staff will be preparing its 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast Reference Document as part of the 2024 budget process. The Mayor will use this document to create the 2024 Proposed Budget – this is now a new provincially-legislated responsibility that cannot be delegated.

Burlington City Council could have decided to take a pass on the Strong Mayor powers the province gave the municipalities on Canada Day.  They chose not to and as a result the Mayor puts forward a budget that Council can debate and if they wish defeat.  Now that the budget is in the hands of the Mayor the following is the process that will be followed.

It is a complex process.

Council will have the opportunity to bring motions to modify the budget and there will still be multiple opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process and provide their input.

Budget process and key dates

Oct. 30, 2023 – Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) meeting –
Staff will be presenting a 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast Reference Document to CSSRA Committee. The Mayor will refer to this document as she develops her budget.

Nov. 2 – Burlington City Council meeting

The Mayor, under the new provincial legislation, will present the 2024 proposed budget to Burlington City Council. 

City Council and the public will be given time to review the proposed budget and give the Mayor feedback. 

They are not waving at you. They are voting during a Council session.

Nov. 6 and 7, 2023 – Council workshops
City staff will provide more details on the additional investments in the 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast Reference Document.

Nov. 7, 2023 –Budget Telephone Town Hall
Residents can join the call starting at 7 p.m. to ask questions about the 2024 proposed budget. The telephone town will be hosted by Mayor Meed Ward and run until 8:30 p.m.

Nov. 21 and 23, 2023 – Review of proposed Mayor’s 2024 budget at meeting of Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) committee, with Special Council meeting to follow
A review of the Mayor’s 2024 proposed budget will take place, including any proposed amendments from Burlington City Council.

Participation opportunities

Residents can register to delegate for an upcoming meeting. Here’s how:

Register to speak at a meeting by completing a delegation registration form or by emailing the request to clerks@burlington.ca. Register by noon the day before the meeting. If the meeting is on a Monday, register by noon on the Friday before.

Standing committee and Council meetings are held using a hybrid format, providing the option of speaking in-person at City Hall, 426 Brant St., or virtually via Zoom.

Related news story:

Mayor Meed Ward did not have to accept Strong Mayor powers

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Mayor's Proposed 2024 Budget will be discussed at a Telephone Town Hall  - November 7 

By Staff

October 27th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will host a telephone town hall to talk about the budget she has put forward using her Strong Mayor powers.  She will be joined by Finance and other Senior staff.

The public will not get to see the proposed budget until October 30; it will be debated at City Council on November 2nd.

The Strong Mayor process for putting a budget on the table is complex.

The City has released the 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast document which is understood to be the report the Mayor will use as she crafts her own budget that goes before Council early in November.

The Gazette will report on that document at length once we have a printed copy.  It is a long document.

How to Participate in the telephone Town Hall
Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. If you would like your number to be added to the call out list or the do not call list, please email getinvolved@burlington.ca If you have asked to be on these lists for any previous town halls, we still have your selection and you do not need to email.

Join by telephone: If you happen to miss the call, you can call 1-800-785-1654 during the event time to join the town hall. For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again. You will be able to ask questions live via this method.

 

 

 

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Twenty five homes that are defined as historical - does that matter?

By Pepper Parr

October 27th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What do the people of the city want to retain in the way of their cultural heritage?

The City is spending a significant amount of money to decide what can be retained and working out ways to actually retain properties.

Set out below are 25 properties that are to be studies.

There are a reported 200 properties on a Registry – these are those that the City wants to study.

Are they worth studying?

We aren’t experts – the issue as the Gazette sees it is – is the public fully informed and are they “involved” in this process.

And should the public be involved – why not just leave it to the “experts”.

The properties are identified by address, the ward they are located in and when they are believed to have been built.

Something to keep in mind is this is all private property.

 

 

 

 

 

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Some corporations in the banking sector experiencing unplanned downtown time

By Pepper Parr

October 26th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It would appear that some of the major banks are running into problems with their on-line service.

Earlier in the week Bank of Montreal was down for a short period of time.

Today it is Scotia Bank – they have posted the notice below.

Scotiabank is asking their clients to use their mobile application.

We are in the midst of all kinds of malicious, damaging internet activity.

Be aware.

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On-line exercise program being offered by Brock University

By Staff

October 26th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Brock University has created an on-line exercise program specifically for seniors.

They are enhancing its exercise programming for older adults and offering subsidized community memberships thanks to a grant received from the Government of Ontario and the ongoing support of TD Bank Group (TD). 

The Brock Functional Inclusive Training (Bfit) Centre aims to improve the health and quality of life of older adults, cardiac patients and individuals living with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amputations and Parkinson’s disease.

The centre’s SeniorFit program is supported by TD through the Ready Commitment and offers supervised in-person and online instruction to help individuals 55 years of age and older improve balance, strength and endurance. 

Thanks to a $24,982 Seniors Community Grant received from the Government of Ontario this past June, more seniors will be able to access SeniorFit classes. Funds are being used to expand online exercise programming by purchasing livestreaming equipment and employing 10 new instructors to lead virtual classes for seniors. 

Along with a donation from TD, the grant will provide support to community members who require financial assistance in purchasing an online SeniorFit membership.

“Brock University’s SeniorFit classes are so important for seniors. They will help more seniors stay fit, active, healthy and socially connected,” said Raymond Cho, Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.  

The program’s expansion is expected to start this month and will include a variety of classes, such as yoga, strength and cardio circuits, core and balance, and stretch and mobility. 

Most instructors are Brock students who are studying kinesiology, health sciences or physical education and have a background in human anatomy or physiology. Others are professionals in health sciences, such as a registered kinesiologist and a personal support worker. All are trained by Bfit Co-ordinator Mackenzie Regnerus, who is a registered kinesiologist, under the leadership of Brock Kinesiology Professor Kimberley Gammage. 

The interactive, supervised group exercise classes combined with the high-quality instructors is what differentiates SeniorFit classes from recorded videos offered online, said Regnerus.

“Instructors are trained to be inclusive of mobility and health requirements or limitations, and to modify and adapt exercise programs to suit older adults’ needs and health situations, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, joint replacement, arthritis, osteoporosis, or knee, shoulder and hip injuries,” she said. “Instructors often explain why exercises are beneficial to members and how the movements can help support them in daily life.” 

Regnerus said live group exercise classes also offer older adults social benefits. 

“Members see familiar faces every week and get to know each other,” she said. “They share stories of their grandchildren and what they did on the weekend. Not only are they building strength and resilience, but they’re also building community.”

Anyone over 55 years of age is invited to register for a SeniorFit Online membership, which is $30 per month and offers unlimited access to online exercise classes. Members are required to fill out intake forms so instructors can better support individual needs and goals.

Other programs taking place at the Brock Functional Inclusive Training Centre, located inside the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre, include Heart Strong, an exercise program for individuals living with cardiovascular diseases, and Power Cord, a wheelchair-accessible exercise program that supports people living with spinal cord injury, amputation, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Those interested in applying for a SeniorFit Online membership subsidy are asked to contact Mackenzie Regnerus at mregnerus@brocku.ca or 905-688-5550 x5589.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is the Mayor's ship about to come in - done everything to make free transit a Burlington trademark - is she going to pull this one off.

By Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember those phenomenal transit number that came out just before Covid19 took over our world.

There were a lot of people who didn’t think the numbers were all that valid – my thinking is they didn’t want the numbers to be valid but that is another issue.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward celebrating the arrival of another new bus. She had people literally dancing around when she finished speaking.

A report that will go to Council next week back more than suggests city council got this one right.

The report provides information/data on ridership regarding seniors, youth and SPLIT Pass as well as estimated costs and implementation matters that would need to be considered for future discussions around free transit for youth all day, every day.

The Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee had a report on the feasibility on free transit for seniors (65+ years of age) all day, every day, and free transit for youth (13 – 19 years of age) during evenings after 6pm and all hours on weekends.

At the same meeting the  Committee requested Transit staff to provide additional information and ridership data for seniors, youth and Subsidized Passes for Low Income Transit (SPLIT), as well as cost estimates and implementation considerations for fare free transit for youth all day, every day.

Staff reported that there are many variables to take into account when considering significant changes to transit fares. This includes resources, capacity, plans, along with future needs and any funding requirements. The following information is provided with this in mind.

In September 2019, Burlington Transit restructured bus routes across the city towards a grid network, providing more frequency along major arterial roads. During the six months after the network change, ridership increased by 14% from September 2019 to February 2020. In March 2020, the pandemic was declared, and ridership was negatively impacted. Due to these variables, 2019 is established as the comparator year to understand how ridership is changing.

Overall ridership in 2020 plummeted by 39%. 2021 ridership remained 36% below 2019 ridership. In 2022, as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted, overall ridership increased; however, remained 9% lower than 2019 ridership.

Table 1 outlines actual and projected total ridership, broken out by concession fare categories. 2019 – 2022 provides actual ridership and the average percentage of ridership by concession. Historically, adults make up approximately 80% of all ridership, with the remaining 20% made up from child, youth and senior demographics combined. 2023 and 2024 illustrate estimated ridership and projected ridership growth based on historic concession percentages.

 

The dress code for Council members during the tough Covid19 days.

Since the pandemic, Burlington Transit has returned to the ridership growth curve that was projected in the Transit Five-Year Strategic (“Plan”) (2020-2024). In 2023, overall ridership is estimated to reach 2.8 million or approximately 14% increase from 2019 (pre-pandemic) ridership. The 2.8 million is in keeping with the anticipated total ridership provided to Council in the Plan and is consistent with planned ridership target of 2.9 million in 2024. In Table 1 above, the 2024 total annual projected ridership is broken out by concession based on previous years’ ridership experience for estimated comparison.

Burlington Transit is currently experiencing ridership growth in line with planned and projected growth estimates. Any additional increase to ridership and boardings should be done in a strategic and planned approach.

The following sections provide Council with an update to existing free fare initiatives to date, including the planned SPLIT and Senior free fare, along with Youth free fare during weekdays after 6:00pm and all hours on weekends.

  1. Subsidized Passes for Low Income Transit (SPLIT) Program

SPLIT Pass usage accounts for approximately 5% of Burlington Transit’s total ridership, which is currently represented by 70% adults, 21% seniors and 9% youth.

Since August 1, 2023, seniors started to travel for free at all times and are no longer required to apply for any subsidy for public transit in the City of Burlington. It is also important to note that SPLIT usage changes from year to year and is guided by many community factors such as an individual’s circumstances, current economy, employment, etc.

  1. Free Transit for Seniors (65+ Years of Age)

Senior ridership demographic equates to 9% of total ridership for the City of Burlington. Starting May 2019, the Senior Free Midday fare pilot was introduced, and senior ridership initially increased by 41% during the first nine months (June 2019 to February 2020) of the pilot, until the pandemic.

As illustrated in Table 2 below, in 2020 overall senior ridership fell by 40% due to pandemic restrictions, and from 2020 to 2022, Burlington Transit did not see a return to pre-pandemic senior ridership levels. In 2023, based on the first nine months of ridership data, senior ridership is making a recovery to pre-pandemic levels with an estimated 3% increase from 2019.

The current trend for senior ridership is reporting 27% higher in August 2023 from August 2019, and 28% higher in September 2023 from September 2019.

Seniors continue to travel during off-peak demand time of the day, which has minimal impact to ridership capacity during peak demand in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening hours. This is represented in Graph 1 below.

Senior free fare was approved by Council (TR-04-23) and the estimated $160,000 in lost revenue has been incorporated into the 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast. The 2024 rates and fees for senior fare concession has been adjusted to reflect the $0 fare.

  1. Free Transit for Youth (13 – 19 Years of Age) Weekdays after 6pm and Weekends

Based on previous ridership data from 2019 – 2022, youth make up 10% of total Burlington Transit ridership. As shown in Table 3 below, again due to the pandemic, there was a reduction in youth ridership in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, youth ridership didn’t fully return to pre-pandemic levels; however, the data illustrates that when students returned to school and pandemic restrictions were lifted, this ridership demographic returned to using Burlington Transit to get around. Based on 2023 estimates, staff are anticipating a 1% increase in youth ridership from 2019.

 Starting August 1, 2023, youth started to travel for free on Burlington Transit during weekdays after 6pm, and all hours on weekends. The free fare for youth was recommended to allow seniors to travel for free at all times, due to constraints of the PRESTO system, which can only support a single time of day concession. The youth free fare weekday and weekend hours were decided to ensure that weekday ridership capacity would not be negatively impacted.

Historically, data illustrates that youth ridership is lower during the months of July and August and increases in September to June of each year. This is consistent with ridership increasing during active school months.

Current trends are consistent with past experience showing that youth riders have returned to using Burlington Transit due to school starting in September. Table 4 below illustrates how youth use Burlington Transit during school months and less during the summer months. Staff are continuing to review ridership data to get a comprehensive understanding of how free ridership after 6pm on weekdays and all day on weekends is being used by this ridership demographic. At this time, there are only two months of reported free ridership data, which is not enough to get a full understanding of how free fare is influencing the use of transit. Staff will continue to monitor and share information with Council.

Implementing expansion to free transit for youth all day will require additional service during these peak periods, necessitating an expansion to Burlington Transit’s bus fleet. The estimated fiscal impact is included in the financial impact section below.

Prior to any additional or expansion of free fares, Burlington Transit would recommend that a phased approach be considered to establish the foundation to support transit service delivery. The first phase would be to complete the implementation of the Transit Five-Year Strategic Plan. The second phase would be to work with a consultant to conduct a comprehensive analysis to include budgetary impacts, transit service requirements, PRESTO contract obligations, environmental benefits, and more. This would establish a strategic plan and objectives for any potential changes to ensure quality of transit service. The third phase would be to further review the Operating Metrolinx Agreement and the City’s decision to renew the contract in 2027.

Implementation of Burlington Transit Five-Year Strategic Plan

Burlington Transit is currently working to fully implement the strategic objectives of the Transit Five-Year Strategic Plan (2020-2024). The strategies and initiatives defined in the Plan were established to allow for flexibility in timing and financials due to COVID-19 and the City’s recovery from the global pandemic. Full implementation of the Plan has been delayed due to various reasons; however, it is an important first phase to complete this Plan before additional expansion of free fare ridership is considered. Council endorsed this plan in December 2020, following discussions and adaptations of the Plan to ensure transit ridership growth and service was practical and sustainable.

This Plan is a living document and provides the strategic roadmap to encourage continued ridership growth and the investment to support this growth. 2023 is the first year since the pandemic that Burlington Transit has returned to full service and is able to shift focus from adapting to a pandemic to implementing the strategic initiatives of the Plan. While 2024 is the last year of the Plan, many of the strategic objectives will continue to be included in future yearsbudgets and built on as part of the next Five- year Plan.

Preliminary Analysis, Strategic Approach and Financials to Provide Free Transit for Youth

Additional infrastructure and resources would be required to support youth free fare and the increase in ridership demand. Before any additional or expansion to free fares is considered, a full and comprehensive review and strategic approach is required to ensure continued quality of transit service. In order to provide Council with the requested information and cost estimates for youth free fare at all times, the following information is provided with two months of youth free ridership (weekdays after 6pm and weekends) experience.

Estimated Youth Ridership Increase and Risk

Based on the number of high school students who are currently not eligible or provided school bus transportation by the school boards in Burlington, free transit would result in a significant increase in annual youth ridership, which is estimated to be up to 1.1 million in boardings. This is based on 187 active school days within a school year. It is necessary to estimate the number of anticipated boardings to understand the potential demand in relation to capacity.

At this time, within existing resources, Burlington Transit does not have the capacity to add school specials or additional buses to routes that service high schools. Based on the expected increase in boardings and to accommodate this extra growth in ridership, it is estimated that additional infrastructure and staffing resources would be required to service this demand. It is important to note this would be in addition to the planned increase in staffing outlined in the Transit Five-Year Plan, illustrated in Table 6.

To sustain operations and provide free transit for youth at all times, the following additional resources and staff positions would be required to properly deploy this program:

  • Four additional conventional buses
  • Eight Operators
  • One Rider Experience and Education Specialist
  • One Operations Supervisor
  • One Mechanic

Prior to any additional free fare programs being expanded or introduced, it is recommended that a comprehensive analysis be conducted. This would be part of the consultant review approved by Council through Staff Direction to report back in Q4 2024 (SD-31-23).

Operating Agreement for PRESTO By and Among Metrolinx (Nov. 2027)

Furthermore, the City of Burlington currently has contractual obligations through the Operating Agreement for PRESTO By and Among Metrolinx until November 2027. The contract binds the City to use only PRESTO as a fare payment system. A fare amount can be $0; however, a transit agency is required to achieve an adoption rate and aggregate fare revenue that is generated based on annual revenue ridership.

When staff consider the commitment to minimum revenue outlined in the Agreement, it will be necessary to better understand the financial impact to additional free fare and the PRESTO Agreement. This will be carefully reviewed with finance, corporate legal and PRESTO to ensure any additional fees required to be paid by the City of Burlington is considered as part of the financial impact provided in Q4 2024. The PRESTO contract and fare integration impacts are outlined in the work that will be undertaken by the consultant, as per Staff Direction SD-31-23.

Transit Five-Year Strategic Plan – Capital and Operating Budget Investment

As previously noted, the Five-Year Plan has not been fully implemented, which includes the planned expansion of conventional buses from 63 buses in 2019 to a total of 79 buses by 2024 to support planned service and ridership growth. The last remaining eight expansion conventional buses are currently included in the Financial Needs and Multi-Year forecast for funding of four buses in 2024 ($4,045,000) and four buses in 2025 ($4,329,000). Capital Project VE-VN-1503 provides the total financial impact of

$8,374,000. The planned expansion is partially funded through ICIP, with a total committed amount of $6,141,000 in approved funding.

It is important to note that a conventional bus takes one year to 18 months from procurement to delivery. Based on this timing, it will be 2026 to 2027 before the planned expansion for conventional buses is completed.

Lost Revenue

In addition to the expenses noted above, it is estimated that there would be a loss in revenue of $580,000. This is based on the youth ridership and 2024 planned budget for fare concession revenue. This has not been included in the 2024 Financial Needs and Multi-Year Forecast.

Total Financial Impact

The total financial impact to provide free fare transit for youth is summarized below. The total fiscal impact includes the capital investment, ongoing operating investment and anticipated revenue loss.

Table 9: Youth Free Fare Budget Estimates

Description Operating $ Capital $
Capital Infrastructure – 4 Additional Conventional Buses $4,188,000
11 Additional FTE to Support Youth Free Ridership $1,680,000
Lost Revenue $580,000
Estimated Sub-total $2,260,000 $4,188,000

The total cost to implement free transit to youth demographics is estimated to be

$6,448,000. These costs are not currently included within the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast, and do not include associated operating costs, like fuel and maintenance. These costs are also in addition to full implementation of the Transit Five- Year Plan, which is still underway.

Source of Funding

The source of funding is unknown at this time, as all funding under the ICIP program has been allocated to the implementation of the Transit Five-Year Plan. Other transit funding sources such as Provincial and Federal Gas Taxes are currently dedicated to the renewal of the existing fleet.

Halton School Boards are provided provincial funding for student transportation. It would be beneficial to include this in the consultant’s work to better understand any potential funding opportunities if the City is going to provide transit service where dedicated school bus transportation is provided, or partially subsidize public transit as a service to the school boards.

Other Resource Impacts

As noted above, the human resource impacts of implementing a free fare program for students would require additional support staff. Specifically:

  • Transit Operations Supervisors to support additional capacity on buses, provide assistance at schools and to troubleshoot potential concerns and issues that
  • Rider Experience and Education Specialist is required to support travel training and student transit education program. This resource would plan and develop the travel training program and work with school boards to support travel
  • Transit Operators to support the increase in service hours required for increased transit service.
  • Transit Mechanics to support additional infrastructure and increase Other costs of the program may include:
  • Increased maintenance costs due to expanded service hours, which would result in additional staffing.
  • Fuel costs due to increased service
  • Additional maintenance costs to buses due to increased service

Risks

Providing youth free fare transit at this time, without planned investment, has the potential to create the following risks:

Doug Brown may soon wear an even bigger smile

Overcrowded buses during peak periods and the potential of leaving people behind,Schedule delays from buses operating at crush loadsPoor customer service and increased complaints,

Unsafe conditions due to overcrowding,

Burlington Transit and the City’s reputation,

City’s obligation to the PRESTO Operating Agreement,

Reduced ridership due to poor customer service,

Increased problematic behaviour due to overcrowding, decline in service,

Public transit supports the City’s targets to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Every ride on Burlington Transit removes a car off the road and reduces CO2 emissions and traffic congestion.

Each 40-foot bus (12.2 metres) seats 40 riders comfortably; however, can hold up to 60 passengers with standing room. Considering annual ridership totals divided by 40 riders provides staff with an average estimate of personal vehicles removed from roadways. Based on 2023 anticipated ridership, it is estimated that Burlington Transit will remove 70,000 single trip vehicles from the roadways.

Staff have started conversations with the City’s finance department to better understand the full financial impact of free transit on the transit operating and capital budget.

To have a fulsome youth transit program, engagement with Halton School Boards at a political level is required to re-initiate the conversations that were started in 2019. The purpose would be to discuss funding opportunities to offset some of the costs to offer this program.

It is estimated that full implementation will not take place prior to 2027, based on the Financial Needs and Multi-year Forecast.

Funding free transit – will he support it? Hasn’t been a transit fan in the past.

Also, that any expansion of free fare programs be deferred until after the consultant study is completed. The consultant study will examine any associated costs, benefits and risks, impact to financial sustainability, service impacts, and potential funding sources, and will be provided to Council in Q4 2024, as per Staff Direction (SD-31-23).

Lastly, that the existing PRESTO Agreement be considered in regard to timing of any additional or expansion of free fare changes due to the City’s contractual obligation.

Mayor Meed Ward has wanted free transit for everyone at any time of day.

She gets full credit for this one and deserves full support from every member of Council

Councillor Sharman might choke on this one – do it for the Gipper Councillor.

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Determining what the tax increase will be for 2024 is going to be an experience that will be remembered. If you see the Mayor entering the Council Chmaber with a rabbit and a hat - don't be surprised.

By Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is going to be a different budget because Mayor Meed Ward has Strong Mayor powers which means she is required to propose the budget for the municipality each year by February 1.

The head of council must share the proposed budget with each member of council and the municipal clerk, and make it available to the public. If the head of council does not propose the budget by February 1, council must prepare and adopt the budget.

This is the view the public gets when Council meets. The practice for Burlington is to make all meetings virtual events. This is your Council and no – they are not waving at you.

After receiving the proposed budget from the head of council, council can amend the proposed budget by passing a resolution within a 30-day review period.

The head of council then has 10 days from the end of the council review period to veto any council amendment.

To veto a council amendment, the head of council must provide written documentation of the veto and rationale to each member of council and the municipal clerk on the day of the veto.

Council then can override a head of council’s veto of a council amendment with a two-thirds majority vote, within a 15-day period, after the head of council’s veto period.

There are mechanisms in place to enable council and the head of council to shorten their respective review, veto and override periods. For example, council could pass a resolution to shorten their review and override period, and the head of council could provide written documentation to members of council and the municipal clerk to shorten the veto period.

At the end of this process, the resulting budget is adopted by the municipality.

That’s the complex schedule.

That document gets presented by Staff to Council on December 30th.  It is described is as an “informative” document meant to inform the Mayor where spending should take place and where revenue is likely to come from.

A tax increase of close to 8% was being tossed around – the Mayor had said that she was thinking in terms of something less than that.

In the past year the city has borrowed $54 through this issuance of two debentures.  The rate was above 5% for the most recent.

Related news stories;

How much has the city borrowed.

Mayor Meed Ward didn’t have to accept the Strong Mayors powers she was given on Canada Day

Will the increase be above 8%

 

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Will the toilets work ? Yes - but it is going to cost and expect some road closures when the work is done

By Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We live in very stressful times; the close to last thing people want to hear about is the population density of high rise towers that are going to be built around the Burlington GO station.

Getting the kids to their soccer games, figuring out how all that really expensive hockey equipment is going to be paid for and listening carefully where the elementary teachers are with their strike vote.

Add to that the condition of the mortgage on your house – something in the order of 35% of the variable rate mortgages are reported to be due for renewal in 2025, and most people take a pass on big housing development issues.

So the map set out below would be something that doesn’t matter to anyone living within the boundaries shown.

Those reds lines are where the sewer as it exists now will not be able to hand the flow from your toilet to the Water treatment facility in Lakeshore Road

That may not be completely true.  The red lines are for parts of the sanitary sewer system that is beneath the road on every street in the city.

If nothing happens when you press the lever – you will want to howl. The need for upgrades to the waste water treatment pipes is being worked out.

The red lines indicate parts of the waste sewage system that might not be able to handle the flow when all the development projects have been completed.

Some of the internal piping installed during the expansion to the Skyway Treatment plant on Lakeshore Road.

Will the toilets work?  Messy if they don’t – but they will.  The consultants brought in by the Region pointed out where the problems will crop up – they also gave a rough idea as to what it will cost and when the work will have to be done.  It is a complicated expensive process.

Additions to the capacity of the Skyway Treatment plant took place between 2011 and 2015.

The total budget for the expansion is $158.8 million with the province and the federal government providing $51.5 million each and Halton Region funding the remaining $55.8 million.

 

Aerial view of the Skyway Water Treatment plant. A lot of sophisticated technology – one of the sites where sewage is tested for Covid19

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The Great Candy Crusaders are on the prowl - lolipop, lolipop Oh loli lolipop - the secret is in the lolipop

By Staff

October 25th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Downtown Business Association has come up with a fun event that has a major sugar hit attached to it.

Life in Downtown Burlington is oh so sweet – literally! With so many amazing treats hiding around every corner, the possibilities for sweetness feel endless.

Rumour has it that THREE super sweet, treat-filled giveaway baskets have hidden themselves somewhere in our downtown, determined to keep their tasty treasures all to themselves, and we can’t let that happen, right Burlington?

It’s The Great Candy Crusaders!

We’re celebrating the last week of October with an oh-so-sweet candy hunt.

The treat-filled giveaway baskets are hiding in one of our downtown businesses, and we need YOU to find them! Starting today, follow our BDBA Instagram** stories for clues on where to find the giveaway baskets.

Submit one guess per day, and we will DM you back if you’re correct. If you’ve figured it out and we’ve confirmed you’re correct, head on down to that business and pick up one of 9 giant lollipops*. Each lollipop has a unique number on it, so don’t lose it! We’ll update our stories after every lollipop is claimed, so stay tuned! These 9 lollipops will be entered into a random draw to win one of THREE giveaways.

On November 1st, we’ll do a special Instagram post to announce we have our winners, and the winners will be DM’d to claim their prize! What makes these treats so sweet? Here’s a little sneak peak:

    • $50 Burlington Downtown Gift Card
    • Treats & Sweets
    • Burlington Downtown merch!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE SUPER SWEET DETAILS!

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3-Week Loose-Leaf Collection Program Begins Monday, Nov. 13

By Staff

October 25th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The loose-leaf collection program starts on Monday, November 13.

Check the leaf collection schedule and zone map. Each collection zone will have only one pick-up week. Loose-leaves placed after the zone start date will not be collected.

Their is now a new interactive Collection Tracking Map to keep residents informed of progress made by collection crews as they make their way through each zone. The map will be updated each day by 7 p.m. to show routes completed that day.

The Tracking Map is an interesting feature.  The head of IT services has brought a lot of energy and new ideas to the department.  A very welcome benefit – Kudos to the department and who ever created the application.

Residents planning on using the service are reminded that this program is weather dependent. Freezing rain or snow can cause delays or even cancel the program. Always be prepared to bag your leaves for Halton Region’s Yard Waste Pick-up or mulch them to help your lawns and gardens grow.

If the collection is delayed or cancelled due to weather or other circumstances, residents can call 905-335-7777 for updated information. Updates will also be posted on burlington.ca/leafcollection.

To ensure the safety of collection crews and avoid damaging equipment, please keep the loose-leaf piles free of debris and sticks. Leaves mixed with debris and waste will not be collected. Please help prevent flooding by keeping catch basins and ditches clear of leaves.

To ensure a successful pick-up, residents can:

    • Rake leaves to the edge of the curb or roadway in a loose pile no more than two days before your pick-up date
    • Do not place leaves in bike lanes or on sidewalks or pathways
    • Prevent flooding by not placing leaves over storm drains
    • Remove basketball nets, cars and other obstructions from the road during pick-up dates
    • Avoid placing garbage bags, bins, blue boxes or green carts on top of loose-leaf piles

After the collection program is complete, any remaining leaves should be placed in yard-waste bags for curb side collection by Halton Region.

As a greener alternative, residents can mulch their leaves with their lawn mower to help feed the soil for the spring.

Enrico Scalera, Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry points out that ““The City’s leaf collection program is now even more convenient with the launch of an interactive Collection Tracking Map to keep you updated on our collection progress. Stay informed about your zone’s pick-up week and be sure to follow updates on our webpage and the City’s social media channels for any weather-related delays or cancellations.”

Links and Resources

www.burlington.ca/leafcollection

 

 

 

 

 

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NDP will present its approach to building the badly needed housing today. Wants a public housing agency

By Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

So far she has always stepped right into whatever the problem was and got results.

Marit Stiles: NDP Leader of the Opposition.

It was a letter from NDP Opposition leader at Queen’s Park who wrote the Provincial Auditor General asking for an investigation that resulted in a very damaging report on what the Ford government had done when they took a significant number of properties out of the Greenbelt.

She followed that up with another letter to the Provincial Integrity Commissioner who named names and said it was “a process that was rushed, non-transparent and almost reckless” – words that may have been the beginning of the end for the Ford government.

Today Stiles introduced a solution intended to get the province back in the business of building housing.

The NDP has tabled a motion in the Legislature that would call for the establishment of a new public agency – Homes Ontario – which would build at least 250,000 new affordable and non-market homes over ten years, to be operated and/or constructed by public, non-profit or co-op housing providers. 

“With a housing crisis of this scale, we have to find big solutions that can help people find a home they love in the community they want to live in,” said Stiles. “The Ontario NDP are going to get the province back in the business of building housing with Homes Ontario – and we’re going to do it together, so that everyone in Ontario has a place to call home.”  

Auditor General Bonnie Lysak with her report – it opened up a huge can of works that resulted in an RCMP investigation.

The Ontario NDP has also been calling for real rent control, an end to exclusionary zoning and clamping down on real estate speculation.  Today’s announcement is one more step in the NDP’s plan to solve the housing crisis. 

Homes Ontario is just the next piece of the comprehensive plan that the Ontario NDP is assembling with the input from housing researchers, trades, labour, municipalities, non-profits, and other stakeholders. 

Don’t expect the government to line up and support the NDP plan – how the government explains that they are working on the problem and will have their own bill ready real soon will be the art of politics at its best.

 

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Not for profit sector to hold a Congress in November - first one ever held

By Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Not for Profit sector has always been an important part of the way things get done in the four municipalities in the Region. They are the organizations that step in to provide a safety net where the municipal administrations don’t.  They are closer to the people that need help and they are usually closer to a grass roots understanding of just what the problem is.

Think about the Food Bank, Burlington Green, the Compassion Society and Burlington Foundation to name a few.

Volunteer Halton, part of Community Development is working with the City of Burlington, Town of Milton, Town of Oakville, and Town of Halton Hills and holding the first -ever Halton Non-Profit Congress on Saturday November 18, 2023. 

The event will take place in Milton Sports Centre for what is being described as “a transformative event tailored to non-profit leaders and change-makers in arts, culture, heritage, recreation, and sports.”

The intention is to give participants and opportunity to explore strategies, build connections, and gain insights to boost your impact in community.  Dive into topics like Empowering Communities, Governance, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Data-Driven Management, and Volunteer Engagement. 

The line-up of speakers for this event so far include key-note speaker Rosita Hall, education session leaders Erin Spink of spinktank, Hanadi Almasri of HMC Connections, Heather Kaufmann from the Town of Halton Hills, and Candice Zhang from the Ontario NonProfit Network, to name just a few. 

There will be a Funder Panel Discussion featuring speakers from Jumpstart, KidSport Ontario, the Region of Halton, and the Community Foundation of North Halton to share information about funding opportunities for your organization.

Registration is now open and Early Bird rates are in effect until October 31! Prices goes up November 1.

THE HALTON NON-PROFIT CONGRESS
Saturday November 18, 2023
8:30am – 4:30pm
Milton Sports Centre: 605 Santa Maria Blvd, Milton, ON

 

Register HERE

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New Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund in place

By Staff

October 24th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington as taken to the idea of giving groups of people funds to do something in their community.

While they don’t tell the really good stories about what people have done – they have grown the idea and are now at the point where some remarkable changes are taking place.

Think big, Burlington! Community-led projects could receive up to $10,000

The City of Burlington is now accepting applications for the Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund (NCMF). Approved community group-led projects could receive 50 per cent of their funding up to $10,000. The neighbourhood or community group must match this funding with an equal contribution made up through any combination of:

  • Volunteer hours
  • Donated services
  • Donated materials and supplies
  • Other funds raised, such as cash donations

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 29, 2024.

The fund is to inspire community-led projects with a goal of improving neighbourhoods by creating a sense of belonging, community pride and building meaningful connections.

The city supported the setting up of local hockey rinks – it worked – needs a bit of a boost to get more rink requests.

Burlington residents are encouraged to submit community-led project with a focus on small projects within parks, gardens, buildings on public lands or on lands that are accessible to the public. Projects can increase walkability, promote beautification, encourage recreational activity, build social connections and improve safety or accessibility. These projects are to be planned, led and implemented by the community in a public setting.

Residents interested in applying for funds are encouraged to visit burlington.ca/matchingfund to learn more about the application process, guidelines and past projects.

Denise Beard, Senior Manager of Community Development:  There’s lots of opportunity for groups to come together to create something that the community needs. As a City, we often don’t know of the little things that can add a great deal of value to a favourite, local spot. This is where residents can have an impact, get involved and champion a change.”

 

 

 

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Let us help you Your Worship: T-R-A-N-S-P-A-R-E-N-C-Y. Now that you can pronounce the word - try using it

By Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette is driven by the mantra – Informed people can make informed decisions.

Add to the task of holding those who were elected or appointed to work for the betterment of the wider community the holding these people accountable and transparent.

A Gazette reader sent the following along to us – it was published on May 14th, 2019 and sent out by the Mayor’s Communications specialist John Bkila, who actually is a journalist who earned his stripes at the Burlington Post.

Marianne Meed Ward was never a journalist, she was an editor and a panellist on both radio and television.

In the article that the Gazette did publish Meed Ward said:

Hi – I’m your Mayor

“As many of you know, before I entered politics, I spent 22 years as a journalist. I worked with employers and clients including the Toronto Sun, Vision TV, CBC, CHCH News, Chatelaine, Ryerson University and more — committed to keeping people informed about the issues that impact their lives. It helped me prepare for my role as Mayor in many meaningful ways and provided me with a deep appreciation for the value of transparency and communication from our public officials in upholding democracy and being accountable.

“This blog is one of my favourite ways to keep you informed and ensure you know where I stand on the issues that matter to you and our city. It started out as “A Better Burlington” (abetterburlington.com) before I was a City Councillor. I was looking for a free and accessible way to share important news and issues with my fellow citizens. Over time, as my career changed, it evolved into what it is today: mariannemeedward.ca — a place where I can share information with you as often as possible, and always let you know “My Take” so you are clear on where I stand. It’s also a place for you to share your thoughts with me.

“Of course, that’s not the only way you can stay informed or connect with me. I am active on social media, and you can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. I often share information on events I am attending, local causes of interest, and newsworthy information about timely topics like road closures, living with coyotes and more. My goal there is to keep you informed on the channels you are already using so that you can be connected and engaged to City Hall and our community as easily as possible.

Big on providing services. Political enough to be on the winning side?

Big on providing services earlier in her political career which started as a Councillor.  She first ran in ward 1 where Rick Craven trounced her.

“You can reach me via email or telephone if you have a specific question or idea that you feel is relevant to the Office of the Mayor. I am not always in the office as I’m often in meetings, at events or travelling, so my team does an amazing job of reviewing these emails and will frequently loop in other staff or departments at the City of Burlington to get you an answer as quickly as possible. I am updated by my team on a regular basis on those questions, issues and resolutions — and I get directly involved when necessary. My email is mayor@cityofburlington.ca and my telephone number is 905-335-7607.

“I also still get letters from the community, and you’re always welcome to send me something through good old-fashioned mail as well, at 426 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Z6.

“I have a Mayor’s page on the City of Burlington website where you can find information on initiatives I am leading, your City Council, events and more at Burlington.ca/mayor.

“I also work with local media and have a great appreciation for their role in asking the tough questions to keep you informed through traditional journalism and other channels. I was, after all, on that side of the table for many years.”

A little transparency here Your Worship.  You have never held a “traditional” media event where you were open to questions from media.  You do programs on radio and television where you are never challenged.  In the media work we call those puff ball events.

When you were running for the office of Mayor we did do an interview with you.  It went well and if memory serves me correctly, you called to amplify on a comment you had made.

To say that you work with media is just plain dishonest.

Your full time job seems to be to get your picture taken as often as possible and hope that “being seen” will be enough to keep voters believing you are doing a great job.

“You can read a monthly column I submit in the Burlington Post (online at insidehalton.com), watch my regular TV segments on our local cable station YourTV (Cogeco), and call in to Global News Radio’s AM 900 CHML each month and ask your own tough questions when I am a guest on the Bill Kelly Show (the call-in number is 905-645-3221 and you can find out more information at bit.ly/billkellyshow).

“Since becoming Mayor in December 2018, I have done interviews with the Burlington Post, WEST of the City magazine, CBC Radio, snapd, The Globe and Mail, and CHCH News, just to name a few. I do my best to respond to media inquiries as much as my schedule permits to further share my views and connect with you in addition to all the other ways I’ve listed above.

“I share press releases with the media on a regular basis and participate in press conferences (You do indeed — but these are not events where media can ask questions) and they, (media) in turn, often share those with you in their stories.

That she does but she is never available for follow up questions.

“My team and I work in close partnership with the broader communications team here at the City of Burlington. We really are a team and I’m thrilled at how we collaborate and find ways to leverage all of our channels to keep you better informed. From the Burlington.cawebsite to their own media releases and social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they do an amazing job and find truly creative (and often funny) ways to get important messages out there for you.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward made her presence known to Council well before her election to office.

“And, of course, you can often find me at community events and local shops on the street for even more ways to ask your questions and hear my points of view. I have more conversations than I can count when I’m joining our community at a charitable event, festival or celebratory occasion.

“As both a councillor, and since becoming Mayor, I have received so many positive comments from the public about how much you appreciate and enjoy my monthly newsletters, social media posts, and other communications. It’s a busy job being Mayor and it’s good to know that the time and effort put into these initiatives by myself, my team, and our colleagues at City Hall is worth it for our community. Keep your feedback and questions coming. Hearing from you — the people of Burlington — is the most important part of my job.”

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With wars that threaten the democracy we have remembering those who lost their lives is more important than ever

By Staff

October 23rd, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A little early for this event to be announced but Remembrance Day gets kind of busy – we wanted to give people a chance to know what is taking place.

 

 

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How to protect the pay cheque - convince the province that you are worth what you are getting paid.

By Staff

October 23rd, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Motion didn’t get discussed at the October 18th meeting of the Regional Council – it was deferred to a future meeting.

That the idea is on the table – why it’s on the table.

City Council at work; Councillor Nisan did not take part

Regional Councilors get paid by both the municipality they hold a council seat in and an additional amount for serving as Regional Councilors.

For the seven members of Burlington City Council what they get from the Region amount to very very close to 50%.

Keeping public money in your pocket.

Were the Regional Council to disappear – the six Burlington ward Councilors would find that they couldn’t live on the basically $60,000 they earn as Councilors.

Read the motion with that information in mind.

Support for Regional Government in Halton

Burlington City Councillor Rory Nisan serves as the spear carrier for embers of Regional Council – the objective is to save the Regional part of their pay cheques.

WHEREAS, in November 2022 the Government of Ontario announced a review of Ontario’s regional municipalities (Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo, York) and the County of Simcoe through government appointed facilitators; and

WHEREAS, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing wrote to the Chair of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy recently requesting the committee take over the work originally proposed for facilitators; and

WHEREAS, the Province has asked the Standing Committee, among other things, whether changes to municipal governance structure would enhance local services and/or provide better value to taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, the Province has stated one of the key drivers for undertaking a review is to examine whether the current municipal structure supports the construction of new homes; and

WHEREAS, the Region and its local municipalities support the Province’s goal to deliver at least 1.5 million homes by 2031 and are committed to working together to support the Provincial housing pledges; and

WHEREAS, the Region is focused on providing essential water and wastewater infrastructure to support the construction of new homes in support of the housing pledges; and

WHEREAS, a governance review would be disruptive as it would take significant time and attention away from the Region’s goal to deliver infrastructure to support municipal housing pledges; and

WHEREAS, the Province has already implemented significant changes through Bill 23 last year, with respect to the elimination of Regional planning as a means to ensure effective governance and better value for the Halton taxpayer in line with the key drivers of regional review; and

WHEREAS, over the last 50 years since the creation of the Region of Halton, the City of Burlington, Towns of Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills have always worked cooperatively on advancing the needs of all its constituents; and

WHEREAS, Halton and all of its member municipalities, agencies, boards and committees have continuously worked on efficiencies and have saved taxpayers millions of dollars through the Halton Cooperative Purchasing group, including the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS), the Conservation Authorities and School Boards; and clear definition of roles and responsibilities; and

WHEREAS, Halton and our four Local Municipalities are committed to providing high quality services, keeping costs as low as possible for our residents and ensuring financial sustainability of our municipalities; and

WHEREAS, 97 per cent of residents are satisfied with the quality of Regional services provided; and

WHEREAS, Halton is a model of municipal efficiency through service agreements between municipalities and the Region and 98 per cent of Halton residents rate their quality of life very high; and

WHEREAS, Halton Region has been effectively managed and held an AAA credit rating for 35 years; and

WHEREAS, Halton has been recognized as one of Canada’s Safest Communities over the past 15 years; and

WHEREAS, each of the 4 municipalities in Halton has been highly ranked in the MoneySense “Best Place to Live” feature; and

WHEREAS, a change to the structure in Halton by the Provincial Government would be disruptive and wasteful given they would be trying to fix something that is not broken;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

THAT Regional Council endorses Halton’s effective two-tier system of municipal government as it has evolved on mutual agreement with our partner lower municipalities since its foundation in 1973;

THAT the Regional Chair write to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing indicating Regional Council’s support for the current Local and Regional structure, emphasizing Halton’s stellar record of governance;

THAT Regional Council requests the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing expedite the Proclamation of Bill 23 in order to able the full transition of planning services from the Region, as a means to ensure effective governance and better value for the Halton taxpayer in line with the key drivers of regional review;

THAT the Halton Region CAO work collaboratively and expeditiously with the CAOs of the lower tier municipalities to look for additional efficiencies and cost savings with our municipal partners, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS), the Conservation Authorities and School Boards, including potential areas for downloading to lower tier municipalities or uploading to Halton Region;

THAT Regional staff continue to review and identify land owned by the Region that may be appropriate for new assisted housing opportunities;

AND THAT this resolution be forwarded to the Premier, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Halton’s Members of Provincial Parliament, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and Halton’s Local Municipalities.

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If you thought Canada was doing on OK on climate issues - look at the data - not so good

By Staff

October 23rd, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

An American,  Kristina Karamo,  Chair of the Michigan Republic Party, said “We need to be good stewards of our planet. But that doesn’t mean I need to do away with my gas vehicle and drive an electric vehicle with a battery from China.”

It would be tempting to dismiss Ms Karamo as an irrelevant crank, but she is not irrelevant. She represents an extreme wing of a movement that is gathering pace around the world: a backlash against pro-climate policies. One of its more familiar cheerleaders could be America’s next president. On September 27th Donald Trump said: “You can be loyal to American labour or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics but you can’t really be loyal to both…Crooked Joe [Biden] is siding with the left-wing crazies who will destroy automobile manufacturing and will destroy our country itself.”

How serious an obstacle is all this to curbing global carbon emissions?  The world’s biggest emitter, China, understands the need to decarbonise and is investing massively in solar and wind. The second-biggest emitter, America, has taken a green turn under Mr Biden. Brazil has sacked a rainforest-slashing president; Australia has ditched a coal-coddling prime minister. Nearly a quarter of emissions are now subject to carbon pricing. And the pace of innovation is impressive.

Geography isn’t the only thing we share with the Americans – we seem to see the climate change the way they do.

The political undercurrents are less reassuring. Voters are realising that remaking the entire global economy will be disruptive. Some—a minority—dispute that man-made climate change is under way. Others object to certain policies deployed to tackle it, because they impose costs on ordinary citizens, or add hassles to their overstretched daily lives.

Some, particularly the elderly, do not like change at all, especially when it means fuss today in return for benefits they may not live to see. Even among those who accept that action is needed, views differ as to who should shoulder the burden. Many would prefer it to fall on someone else.

Awareness of the dangers of climate change seems to have risen over the past wildfire-charred decade. In polls of 12 rich countries by Pew, an American think-tank, the share of respondents who said it was a “major threat” rose in every country except South Korea, where it was already high. Clear majorities everywhere bar Israel agreed with this description. Yet this does not mean they are willing to pay more taxes to help prevent climate change. In a survey of 29 countries by Ipsos, a pollster, only 30% of respondents said they would be willing to cough up.

Crowding out

Perhaps most alarmingly, a partisan gap has opened even on scientific questions. In all of the 14 rich countries surveyed by Pew in 2022, people on the political right were less likely to see climate change as a major threat than those on the left   . In Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden the gap was very large: between 22 and 44 percentage points. In America it was a gobsmacking 63 points. And a new poll by YouGov for The Economist found that whereas 87% of Biden voters believed that climate change was caused by human activity, only 21% of Trump voters agreed.

Why don’t people want to pay for what they know is necessary?

In democracies such divisions have consequences. In rich democracies, especially, divisions over climate are aggravated by populist politicians, who take real problems (such as cost and disruption) and exaggerate them, while claiming that the elite who impose green policies don’t care about ordinary motorists because they cycle to work.

Populism tends to undermine effective climate policy in several ways. First, populists are often sceptical of experts. When people say “trust the experts”, suggests Ms Karamo, they really mean: “You are too stupid to make decisions about your life.”

Second, populists are suspicious of global institutions and foreigners. “Every subsidy we award to an electric-vehicle manufacturer is really a subsidy to the [Chinese Communist Party], because we depend on them, like a noose around our neck, for the batteries,” says Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate. Such attitudes are bad for climate mitigation, argues Dan Fiorino of the American University in Washington, DC, because “climate policy is as much a matter of foreign relations as it is of economic policy.”

Third, populists encourage people to believe that the elite are plotting against them, thus adding paranoia to public life and making compromise harder. Mr Trump frames policies to promote electric cars as a threat to the American way of life, and does so in ways that make his fans bristle with rage and laugh out loud.

“They say the happiest day when you buy an electric car is the first ten minutes you’re driving it, and then, after that, panic sets in because you’re worried. Where the hell am I gonna get a charge to keep this thing going? Panic!” he told workers in Michigan. “If you want to buy an electric car that’s absolutely fine…But we should not be forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles…There’s no such thing as a fair transition to the end of your way of life.”

If Mr Trump is re-elected in 2024, he would once again pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. He would also roll back executive orders on such things as methane emissions. He would probably not be able to repeal Mr Biden’s big climate law (misleadingly called the Inflation Reduction Act), which involves huge subsidies that are popular with recipients in red states as well as blue ones. But he would appoint bureaucrats who could obstruct its implementation. At a minimum, America would cease to offer leadership on climate change at a crucial moment, says Mr Markey. “You cannot preach temperance from a barstool. You cannot tell other countries to do the right thing if you as a country are not.”

The data is valid – we just aren’t paying any attention to the data.

The right way?

In Germany this year the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has risen in the polls—and did well in state elections on October 8th—by lambasting the energy policies of the ruling coalition, which includes the Green Party. It says they will “impoverish” the country. The AfD is ostracised by mainstream parties, but the centre-right borrows its talking-points.

The Greens hurt their own cause with a plan to make green home-heating almost mandatory before there were enough skilled installers to install heat pumps. Householders struggled to book tradesmen. The government backed down in September and extended the deadline—but the political damage had been done.

Now in Germany it is not just the hard right that bashes the Greens. Their rallies have been pelted with stones, eggs and insults. Martin Huber of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the main centre-right party in Bavaria, told The Economist that all the Greens do is make Verbotsgesetze (laws that forbid things). At a rally in Andechs, a pretty village 40km from Munich, the head of the CSU, Markus Söder, drew guffaws from a beered-up Oktoberfest crowd with a series of jabs. When the lights suddenly brightened he quipped: “So at least they are still sending us electricity from Berlin.” An elderly supporter said: “I heat my house with wood. How can I afford to change this, and why should I in my old age?”

Not their cup of tea

In Britain, the Conservative prime minister has adopted the main populist themes. In a speech last month, Mr Sunak stressed that he favours curbing emissions, but decried the way Britain’s climate goals had been set “without any meaningful democratic debate about how we get there”. (His party has been in power since 2010.) He also lamented that green policies “will impose unacceptable costs”. He named specific, frightening sums. “For a family living in a terraced house in Darlington, the upfront cost [of a heat pump] could be around £10,000 ($12,200).”

He vowed to scrap plans that have never seriously been considered: “taxes on eating meat…compulsory car-sharing [and] a government diktat to sort your rubbish into seven different bins”. And he played the nationalist card. “When our share of global emissions is less than 1%, how can it be right that British citizens are…told to sacrifice even more than others?” (Brits are less than 1% of the global population.)

“Rishi is playing with fire,” says Michael Grubb of University College London. Businesses crave predictable policies in order to plan for the long term. “Making climate change part of a culture war will undermine investor confidence.”

Nitrogen is not a greenhouse gas; the problem is that big intensive Dutch farms produce enough of it (from fertiliser and cowpats) to threaten important nature reserves. The government wants to buy out farmers, leading to a reduction in the number of livestock of between a fifth and a half. Such bossiness has provoked rustic rage, with tractor protests and farms across the country flying the national flag upside down. The Farmer-Citizen Movement took 20% of the vote in provincial elections this year—in a country where only 2.2% of people farm. At a general election on November 22nd the more eco-friendly parties are expecting a thumping.

Sowing discontent

In most developing countries, net-zero targets are far in the future and voters have not yet been asked to make big sacrifices to reach them. For many, the harm wrought by climate change itself is a bigger worry. A massive 74% of Indians, for example, say they have experienced the effects of global warming, up from 50% in 2011, according to a survey by Yale University. “We’ve lost crops because of extreme heat and rains and it has got worse in the past few years,” says Shiv Kumari, a farm labourer in Delhi whose fields were flooded this summer. Such trauma translates into greater support for green policies: 55% of Indians say India should reduce its emissions immediately without waiting for other countries to act, up from 36% in 2011.

We know the direction we have to go – we just don’t want to pay the price – and we aren’t thinking clearly about the consequences.

Globally, innovation will eventually ease the grumbles that drive so much of the anti-climate backlash. “The clean is already cheaper than the dirty in many parts of the economy, and those parts will just get bigger and bigger,” says Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics. But it matters immensely how fast this happens. Many green technologies require hefty upfront investment, which is harder when interest rates are high. This particularly affects the poor world. “Look at Africa. If you pay 15% interest, wind and solar are not cheaper than fossil fuels for generating electricity, though they are cheaper at 7% or 8%,” says Professor Stern. He suggests supercharging multilateral lenders to crowd in other sources of finance. “The most unrealistic and dangerous thing of all would be to go slow,” he says.

Plenty of clean technologies are cheaper in the long run but have stiff upfront costs. Many voters in rich countries will need help with these. So will developing countries, where the high cost of capital still makes many green projects unaffordable. Globally, politicians who care about the climate should take the backlash seriously. That means being honest with voters about the inevitable disruption, and striving to minimize the pain.

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Beachway Park Master Plan updated - five homes yet to be acquired and a lot more studying to be done

By Pepper Parr

October 22nd, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Region issued an update on changes that have been made or will be made on the Beachway Waterfront Park.

The report covered the ongoing implementation of the Master Plan for the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park, and sought Council’s approval of modifications to the Master Plan as well as next stages of implementation.

The first look the public got of the long range plan.

The latest stage of work involved the completion of a comprehensive set of technical feasibility studies to define constraints and opportunities relative to the natural environment that will inform detailed design and construction plans. The Feasibility Study process is now complete and has resulted in nine specific modifications to the Master Plan that are being recommended for approval by Council through this Report.

These row houses are part of the holdouts – they have no interest or desire to move and have their homes town down.

The report also provides includes an update on the status of the 2015 Acquisition Strategy. Of the privately owned lands identified for acquisition to accommodate the Burlington Beach Master Plan, six properties remain in private ownership.

Both homes were acquired by the Region, rented to the owners for a few years and then torn down.

The next stage of the project is the design and construction planning phase. Activities will be focused on detailed design of amenities as well as the environmental restoration and this work will be initiated in the Fall of 2023.

Background

This report provides an update on the implementation of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park approved Master Plan, and seeks Council’s direction on amendments of the Master Plan that have resulted from the Master Plan Feasibility Studies as well as direction on the Hydro Tower relocation. The last update on the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park, commonly referred to as Beachway Park, was provided in October 2020 through Report No. LPS88-20 re: “Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Update”.

The Master Plan for the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park was developed in partnership with the City of Burlington and Conservation Halton and was approved by Regional Council in May 2015, which established a plan for securing the necessary lands needed to implement the Master Plan based on a willing buyer/willing seller program.

As part of the 2016 Budget and Forecast, Regional Council approved a detailed financial plan to implement the Master Plan and the Acquisition Strategy that budgeted $51.8 million over a 20-year period. Through the 2019 Budget and Business Plan, the financial plan was adjusted to $62.0 million to reflect revised market conditions and support an accelerated property acquisition strategy allocated as follows;

$23.8 million for park development, $12.2 million for hydro tower relocation and $26.0 million for property acquisition. Through the 2021 Budget process, the Hydro Tower component was adjusted to reflect the mid-level cost estimate identified of $23.0 million.

The 2015 Master Plan is divided into six distinct park character areas.

The specific timing and staging of works was envisioned to focus on implementation of Areas 1 through 4 in the first 5-10 years, followed by Areas 5 and 6 once property acquisition was completed.

Since the Master Plan was approved in 2015, activities to implement the Master Plan have been focused on Halton’s efforts to:

Advance enhancements in the Spencer Smith portion of the park that received Federal funding under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program;
Complete of a set of feasibility studies for Beachway Park.

The next stage of the project is the design and construction planning phase, activities will be focused on design of amenities and will include building resilience of Beachway Park to the impacts of flooding and erosion. The design and construction planning phase will be initiated in the Fall of 2023.

Flooding and erosion were subjects that got little in the way of discussion in 2015 – today both are top of mind.

Technical feasibility studies have been underway over the last several years which were completed in May of 2023, and are now at a point to provide recommendations for updates to the Master Plan.

Feasibility Studies

The latest stage of work involved the completion of a comprehensive set of technical feasibility studies to define constraints and opportunities relative to the natural environment that will inform detailed design and construction plans. These studies were required to identify and mitigate potential construction and long-term maintenance risks, inform the preparation of detailed design documents, and position the project to obtain relevant permits and approvals for construction.

Collectively, the findings of the studies confirmed whether the features of the 2015 Master Plan can feasibly be implemented and provide a road map for how best to restore the natural environment and improve Beachway Park as intended.

The Master Plan as it stands today – more work to be done – more spending as well.

In coordination with the project steering team, the consultant for the project developed an Indigenous Peoples Engagement Plan. The Indigenous Peoples Engagement Plan identifies relevant Indigenous and First Nations stakeholders and proposes an engagement strategy to involve these communities in the development and implementation of Burlington Beach. The Indigenous Peoples Engagement Plan is meant to remain a living document throughout the project and may need adjustments from time to time as the overall project progresses. Engagement will ensure meaningful engagement with the key Indigenous stakeholders identified.

It is locations like this at Beachway Park where the vegetation is sparse and the sands constantly shift that shrubs and flora native to the sands will be planted Saturday April 20th. Flooding concerns are going to require some re-thinking.

A key finding of the feasibility studies is the susceptibility of Beachway Park to increasing flooding and erosion. The natural beach and dune environment of Beachway Park is a rare ecosystem and without appropriate management approaches, it will remain extremely sensitive to disturbance, and ultimately habitat loss.

The Park shoreline occurs along Lake Ontario, known to have large storm events (1972) and extreme water levels (2017, 2019) which have impacted adjacent development periodically.

The spatial extent of the Flood Hazard Limit for existing conditions was mapped at Beachway Park. The results of the flooding analysis highlight the flood vulnerability of not only the beach and dune environment at the park, but also Lakeshore Road and the interior lands proposed for the park expansion.

*The term “XX-year flood ” is used to describe the recurrence interval of floods. The 100-year recurrence interval means that a flood of that magnitude has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year. A 100-year flood, although less frequent than a 10-year flood, is deeper and far more destructive. For this reason, the 100-year flood is now more commonly used as a baseline for risk planning.

The foundation for the implementation of the Master Plan includes physical works to restore, and protect from future impacts, beach and dune areas as well as restoring vegetation to secure the beach and dune ecosystems. The Beach and Dune Restoration Plan provides the details of a nature-based solution to restore the foredunes at Beachway Park and along with engineered headlands at the north end of the park.

Restoring the dune system can build the necessary resiliency of the Park against erosive forces that occur during periods of high lake levels and severe storm events. Dune rehabilitation can also generate multiple co-benefits, including protecting infrastructure from coastal hazards, reducing maintenance costs associated with wind-blown sand, enhancing the beach for recreation, enhancing the ecosystem and maintaining beach width during periods of high lake levels. The flood risk was re-evaluated based on the dune restoration in the beach management plan. The 100-year flood is contained on the beach and the interior flood risk is significantly reduced, as seen in Figure 2.

Feasibility of the Features of the 2015 Master Plan:

To assist in advancing elements of the 2015 Master Plan to detailed design, the technical feasibility of planned improvements to Beachway Park have been assessed. There are modifications to the approved Master Plan that are necessary to address feasibility challenges that have been identified as summarized below. The modifications proposed for the Burlington Beach Master Plan are included as Attachment # 2. Through this report, staff are seeking Council’s approval of the proposed modifications to the Master Plan.

Burlington Green, using saplings paid for by the federal and provincial governments, planted what will grow into the trees needed to improve the resiliency of the dunes.

Although the proposed modifications alter the positioning of some features, the intent of the 2015 Master Plan in terms of intent and function is maintained. For this reason, staff recommend that the Master Plan be modified as described below:

Implementation of Master Plan Features & Next Steps:

Similar to other Regional waterfront parks, a phased approach is proposed, where Master Plan Features will be bundled into a number of work packages for detailed design and construction. The work packages will have a spatial focus and align with the five zones within the 2015 Master Plan.

The Cobble Beach Feature (formerly ‘The Living Shoreline’):

The construction of the armour stone engineered headlands is proposed to be advanced first as this work underpins and supports restoration of the beach and the backdune areas and could take multiple construction seasons to complete. The headlands are a stone feature which are engineered to prevent beach erosion and is consistent with the shoreline to the north including Spencer Smith Park which is almost entirely armoured. Detailed design is expected to begin in 2024. The anticipated construction schedule will be informed by input from the Region and Partners and consider the current use of the Park.

The Strand and the Wind Beach Features:

The construction of Master Plan elements associated with The Strand and Wind Beach are proposed to be advanced together given similarities in the physical works to be advanced and the integrated nature of such works. Detailed design could take place in between 2024 and 2025. A schedule for The Strand and Wind Beach will require further development.

The Commons Features:

The schedule for advancing key Master Plan elements associated with the Commons, in particular a re-aligned Lakeshore Road, is contingent on acquiring properties to support proposed works. Given that the road re-alignment will influence how other Master Plan elements in this area are designed and constructed, it is assumed that design of Master Plan elements associated with The Commons, are not advanced until property acquisition is sufficiently complete.

The Skyway and Federal Pier Features:

Advancing the Master Plan key elements associated with the Skyway (i.e., pier upgrades and new road from the Skyway to the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) is contingent on the development of an agreement with Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority and acquisition of remaining land needed to build the road.
As such, the schedule for implementing The Skyway identifies efforts focused on land acquisition and the development of an agreement with Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority. It is assumed that, pending resolution of access considerations, a schedule for the design and construction of specific Master Plan elements associated with The Skyway, will be developed and the Master Plan Implementation Schedule updated accordingly.

A preliminary location of the southern terminal junction has been identified within the Wind Beach character area in the 2015 Master Plan. This area is envisioned to be a passive naturalized area, showcasing the natural dune environment and trails. The 2015 Master Plan would need to be revised to accommodate a terminal junction in a manner that responds to the objectives of the Master Plan.

This would result in the loss of 4900 square metres from the park and Master Plan features intended for this area. Further, easements around the structures and underground transmission cables will be required along the entire beach corridor and are still to be determined. In order to pursue this option with these significant easement requirements, the Master Plan would require significant revisions to reflect a potential underground route while competing with planned park amenities. HONI has indicated its willingness to work with the Region to ensure there is due consideration for park activities that can reasonably occur within the easement area, with considerations for safety, operational and maintenance access needs, however the amount of area required for the easements is substantial.

The location of the northern terminal junction at the intersection of Elgin Street and Brock Avenue is dependent on the availability of the land owned by the City of Burlington, which is currently used to support public parking and a small park. Should it not be possible to acquire a suitable off-site location, the park would have to further accommodate the second terminal junction with the same space and buffer requirements identified above.

Timing: Initiatives to support Master Plan Implementation such as the Feasibility Studies, and Acquisition Strategy have advanced to a stage where the detailed design and construction phase of Master Plan features can begin.

The first phase of Master Plan implementation will focus on increasing the resilience of Beachway Park to erosion and flooding impacts. In advance of detailed design, gaining closure with respect to the alignment of the HONI transmission corridor becomes critical. Should Regional Council decide to pursue under-grounding the transmission lines the work will be subject to a multi-year approval and construction process.

Based on the complexity of this project, the approval and construction process of two and a half to over four years can be expected. Given that under grounding of this infrastructure would impact the entire length of the park, Master Plan implementation would largely be paused during this time.

Following extensive work and investigation, the underground option has been identified as the only potentially feasible option available to reduce the visual impact of the HONI towers at Beachway Park.

Given the barriers identified through the study completed, staff are recommending that Council no longer pursue the relocation of the hydro towers.

Alternatives for Relocating the Hydro Towers in the Long-term:

Through the review of the “Hamilton Sub-Region Integrated Regional Resource Plan” prepared by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) dated February 25, 2019, it was identified that as part of the Middleport Area Bulk Transmission Planning Study, replacement options for the Beach Transformer Station autotransformers will be investigated. The Beach Transformer Station autotransformers are located in Hamilton and provide power transfer between the 230kV and 115kV transmission systems. Since the study will be considering the bulk system in the area, including the transmission corridor through Beachway Park, there is a possibility that it could result in a change to the requirements of the existing alignment.

The study is intended to be initiated in 2027 (as per the 2019 IESO plan) and is unlikely to result in the implementation of the alignment options studied to date. However, if an opportunity exists for optimizing a transmission corridor such that it would make this waterfront section redundant this could be pursued at that time.

Update on Other Initiatives and Activities at Burlington Beach

While the Feasibility Studies and Master Plan Implementation Plan were being developed, there have been other initiatives and activities that have continued to advance at Burlington Beach. This section provides an update on those initiatives and activities.

• Status of Property Acquisition Strategy: As outlined in the Burlington Beach Acquisition Strategy, staff estimated that the original market value estimate for the properties identified by the program would experience year over year market growth. The actual market growth seen in the Burlington area was notably higher than anticipated year over year which has led to acquisition costs being higher than anticipated. The 2015 Acquisition Strategy has led to the successful acquisition of 21 properties in the Burlington Beach area.

Federal Pier: The City of Burlington is working with the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority towards an agreement for public access of the pier. Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority’s position is that they will carry out repairs, and the City will assume subsequent repairs, along with all operations. Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority will be undertaking a navigational dredging program at the Burlington Canal adjacent to Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park in 2023. Dredged material will be transported and disposed in the water adjacent to Burlington Beach and will help replenish the eroded beach area.

Once the use agreement for public access to the pier between the City and Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority is finalized, the design and construction of pier features can be planned as part of the Skyway work, as mentioned above.

• Parking: A request was made for Halton Region and City of Burlington staff to coordinate to provide additional parking options in the Burlington Beach Waterfront Park area to address historical deficiencies. These discussions were initiated in the Spring of 2023, and identified an option to temporarily assign parking ahead of the design and construction of the park features that are identified for these locations. As this is a short term solution to increase parking, this may result in the need to identify long term options to increase parking at Burlington Beach. Regional and City staff will work in partnership to support an assessment of long term options which can be completed as part of detailed design stages. Any proposed modifications to the Master Plan will be brought forward for Regional Council consideration.

• Archaeological Field Work: One of the key deliverables of the project was to create a Cultural Heritage Assessment and Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment. In accordance with the 2011 Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists, the Stage 1 assessment determined that the study area included areas of archaeological potential, areas of no archaeological potential and previously assessed lands of no further concern. All identified areas of archaeological potential proposed to be disturbed as part of park development were subject to a Stage 2 property assessment. Completion of fieldwork to support the Stage 2 Archaeological Assessment began in Fall 2021 and resumed in Spring 2022.

• As a result of the Stage 2 assessment, one site was identified to be of further cultural heritage value or interest and will require Stage 3 site-specific assessment. The procurement process to initiate a Stage 3 assessment closed in May of 2023, with field work to commence in 2023

• Dune Grass Pilot: The beach features a pilot sand dune restoration site where native grass species have been planted to aid in the stabilization of the foredune from erosion. In late May 2023, four concrete base sign holders were installed in front of the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 foredune restoration sites. The beachgrass is surviving as anticipated and sand is accumulating in the foredune as desired to restore the dune structures. Further work on this pilot study will continue into Fall 2023.

Where are they now:

Since the last update report to Regional Council in July of 2022, staff and project partners have been working to finalize the feasibility studies and lay the groundwork for key Council decisions which will direct the next stage of work on the implementation of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan. With technical feasibility studies complete, work will focus on design and construction of the restoration of the natural environment. From there, the design and development of the park features and amenities will begin. Once direction is provided by Council on the hydro tower relocation option, staff will advance the next stages of work on this project.

Financial/program implications

Staff will continue to monitor and provide updates on the financial requirements of the implementation of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan.

When it comes to land acquisition, staff will continue to secure the necessary lands required to implement the Master Plan as identified through Report No. CA 09-23 / CS 09-23 – re: “Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Update”.

As a result of the proposed modifications and changes, including what was budgeted for the removal of the Hydro Tower Relocation, it is proposed that the 2024 Budget and forecast be updated as follows:

 Staff will address and further refine capital and operating impacts related to the Burlington Beach Waterfront Park Master Plan and land securement through the 2024 Budget process and future staff reports if required.

This is a project that seems to have lost its way.

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A fix is needed at the municipal level – fast.

By Pepper Parr

October21st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

To make inroads in the housing crisis plaguing our cities, we must focus squarely on systemic issues, particularly at the municipal level.

Getting construction crews to this point – the paper work has to get through municipal planning departments – a challenge that is not being met.

Some of the best minds in the province are doing their best to get the message out – those messages seem to get stalled at the door to municipal Council Chambers across the province.

Richard Lyall told participants at a recent Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) event that in order “to make inroads into the housing supply and affordability crisis plaguing our cities, we must address and focus squarely on systemic issues, particularly at the municipal level.

He went on to say: “Lengthy wait times for residential development applications are stymieing the building of new homes and condos. It has become increasingly difficult for developers to put shovels in the ground on projects.

Jamie Tellier, Director of Community Planning in Burlington has managed to make some changes in the way planning staff handle their projects – pushing them to take some risks and make decisions.  So far he has only been able to apply that on small development projects. 

“Building departments are behind the times. Our permitting system must be digitized, standardized and streamlined across the province. Presently, up to 45 different government bodies and agencies can be involved in the decision-making process on a new project. Far too many. It only gums up the wheels of progress and leads to lengthy and unnecessary delays on projects.

“Our country ranks 34th out of 35 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in the average time it takes to obtain regulatory approval for a construction project.

“Obtaining a building permit in Canada is often a protracted process. We are demonstrably behind the times. One could grow old waiting for the bureaucracy to approve a building permit in this country.

“The disturbing reality, though, is that housing starts are trending in the wrong direction. CMHC reported that the annual pace of housing starts in Canada edged down 1% in August compared with July.”

An Ontario leader in the thinking being done on how the problem at the municipal level commented on the issues as she saw them in Burlington said: The problem in Burlington is that there is little in the way of creative thinking at the Council level and a City Manager more concerned with creating an organization and a Strategic Plan.  The person asked that she not be identified saying “I have to work with these people.

Mike Moffatt, Senior Director of Policy and Innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute.

Mike Moffatt, an economist and Senior Director of Policy and Innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute, spoke at a housing summit and indicated that “Ontario needs to build 170,000 homes a year over the next decade, but without substantial reforms, the province will likely see 100,000 or less built a year”. He said we won’t get where we need to be with minor tweaks.

Municipalities in the GTA are among the lowest-ranked regions in Canada when it comes to the approvals process, time it takes to get a project approved, and government charges per square foot on new low- and high-rise housing.

Marlon Bray, Senior Director of Cost Consulting at Altus Group.

Marlon Bray, Senior Director of Cost Consulting at Altus Group, told the housing summit that there is no use nibbling at the edges as we are in immediate need of big plans and reforms. He stressed the need for quick action as 65% of new housing construction is high-rise, which takes years to build.

We are at the crossroads of a generational crisis in housing, one that is unprecedented. When you get to the point that the middle class can’t afford housing, you know that you have a serious problem.

Fixes must be found.

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