Ontario Land Tribunal puts a stop to the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2023



The Ontario Land Tribunal issues an order that puts a halt to the plans to redevelop the Waterfront Hotel site.

What was it all about?

There is a short version and a long version of this story.

Darko Vranich

The short version is that the developer, Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc., owned by Vrancorp which is controlled by Darko Vranich.

The owners of the Waterfront Hotel, Vrancor Group Inc., made an application to the city for a change to the Official Plan and a change to the zoning of the property which was on Lakeshore Road at the bottom of Brant Street.

The application was filed (all the relevant dates are set out below in chronological order) on October 22nd, 2021.

The Planning department reviewed the application and sent a report to council saying the application was not complete and therefore should not be approved.

This is where the words “made” and “received “become part of the story.

The City argued that “received” and “made” are different words and that it is impossible for an application to be “made” before it is “received” by a Municipality. The City stated an applicant cannot “make” an application until the Municipality “receives” the materials in support of the application.

And that is where the application ran afoul of the rules.

Because between the date that the development was first filed – and found to be incomplete and the date that a complete application was filed the Minister of Municipal and Housing change a key document – which he had the right to do.

That’s the short version. If you like getting into the weeds – read on.

There are three different levels of government involved in the settling of this issue: The province where the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has jurisdiction.

The Regional government which is required to have an ROP (Regional Official Plan) that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approves.

The city has an Official Plan that must comply with the Regional Plan

Located at the foot pf Brant Street on Lakeshore Road, the two towers would have loomed over Spencer Smith Park.

The development application was submitted by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. to demolish the existing hotel and restaurant and construct a new mixed- use building in a 2-tower format atop a 5-6 storey podium, with tower heights ranging from 30-35 storeys, and associated underground parking.

The arguments as to whether the application was acceptable were heard by video hearing November 1, 2022 before Ontario Land Tribunal member D. Chipman.  Regional Municipality of Halton, Bridgewater Hospitality Inc. and The Pearle Hotel & Spa Inc. were part of the proceedings

While the OLT hearing began when the city brought before the Tribunal a Notice of Motion dated October 7, 2022 it was the events that took place much earlier that brought things to this point.

This was the Urban Growth Centre boundary in place before the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing moved the boundary closer to the Burlington GO station

Through the motion, the City was seeking a ruling by the Tribunal that an application “made” under the Planning Act is only “made” once all materials required to be filed with the City
The date the Applications are “made” will determine whether the Urban Growth Centre (“UGC”) policies of the Halton OP apply to these Applications.

This was the battle ground – a site labelled as ground zero for Burlington by the developers planning consultant.

The motion is made in the context of the decision of the Minister to approve ROPA 48 with modifications, pursuant to his authority under the Planning Act. The Minister’s Decision moved the UGC in the Halton OP from Downtown Burlington which included the Waterfront Hotel property, to an area centred around the Burlington GO Station, which did not include the Waterfront Hotel property.

The Minister’s Decision included a transition provision, which deems the UGC policies in the Halton OP continue to apply to applications “made” by an applicant on or before the date of the Minister’s Decision, which was November 10, 2021) If the lands that are the subject of the application (Waterfront Hotel) were within the UGC prior to the date of the Minister’s decision. The development application was deemed to be complete on December 17th.

In August 2020, the City requested that the Region adjust the boundary of the Downtown Burlington UGC to generally align with the lands in proximity to the Burlington GO Station.

February 2021 – Region released ROPA 48 for public review. The draft instrument under consideration at that time proposed to shift the Downtown UGC north and remove the Downtown MTSA with no transition provision for existing applications being proposed.

April 28, 2021 – the City attended a pre-consultation meeting with the Applicant to determine the requirements for complete Applications to facilitate the Applicant’s proposed development on the Subject Property.

May 5, 2021 – a pre-consultation package that was provided to the Applicant which identified materials required to file for the Applications to be deemed complete.

June 9, 2021, and June 16, 2021 – public consultation meetings were held.

July 7, 2021 – Halton Council adopted ROPA 48, which introduces 96 amendments to the Halton OP including Strategic Growth Areas, such as UGCs, Major Transit Station Areas (“MTSA”), Regional Nodes and Employment Areas.

October 22, 2021, Developer files application which included the 29 materials, reports, and studies required.  These materials included a Planning and Urban Design Rationale Report, dated October 2021.

October 26, 2021, the Applicant submitted the fees required to be paid to the City in connection with the Applications.

The Urban Growth Centre was moved north – because of the date that decision was made and the date on which the application to redevelop the hotel site was submitted the future growth in the downtown core will not be the same.

November 10, 2021, the Minister approved ROPA 48 with eight (8) modifications, w On

November 10, 2021, the Minister approved ROPA 48 with eight modifications that included the relocation of the UGC from Downtown Burlington to the area centred around the Burlington GO Station which meant the hotel site would no longer be within an UGC or a MTSA..

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Minister’s Decision was final and not subject to appeal

November 23, 2021 Burlington staff delivered a report recommending that Council deem the Applications incomplete, since certain required information and materials identified in the pre-consultation package had not been provided to the City by the Applicant. These included: (i) a Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment; (ii) a Park Concept Plan; and (iii) an Angular Plane Study.

November 23, 2021 the City notified the Applicant in writing that the Applications had been deemed incomplete on the basis that not all of the information and materials required by the Planning Act and the Burlington OP had been submitted.

December 17, 2021 – The Applicant files the additional information and materials.

December 22, 2021 – Applicant filed a motion with the Tribunal seeking a determination by the Tribunal that the Applications, as filed on October 26, 2021, were made as of that date.

January 18, 2022 – Burlington Council at its meeting of January 18, 2022, deemed the Applications complete as of December 17, 2021

During the hearing Counsel for the City stated that the Applications did not meet the requirements as set out under the Planning Act, prior to the Minister’s approval of Amendment 48 (November 10, 2021). The City stated its position that the Applications, as required by the Planning Act and the Burlington OP were only “made” once all materials been submitted.

The Planning Act and deems that an application is only “made” once it is complete.

City Counsel outlined that this information and material can include, without limitation, the reports, studies and other documents listed in the Burlington OP.

The City submitted that “received” and “made” are different words and that it is impossible for an application to be “made” before it is “received” by a Municipality. The City stated an applicant cannot “make” an application until the Municipality “receives” the materials in support of the application.

It was the City’s position that the Minister’s Decision, made on November 10th, expressly provides that an Official Plan Amendment application is not “received” until all of the information and materials required to be provided to the Municipality are, provided.

Counsel emphasized that the additional information and materials outstanding were provided to Burlington Council through a Planning Report at its meeting of January 18, 2022.
In its decision the Tribunal said: Having been provided a very thorough chronology of the submissions by both the Applicant and the City, the Tribunal prefers the position of the City and in doing so, grants the Motion.

THE TRIBUNAL ORDERS that the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications filed with the City of Burlington by the Applicant Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. with respect to its lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road are hereby deemed to have been made on December 17, 2021, subsequent to the decision dated November 10, 2021, of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approving and modifying the Region of Halton Official Plan.

That was it. To proceed with the development Vrancorp would have to file a new application.

Expect the Tribunal decision to be appealed – in the meantime nothing gets built – no shovels in the ground.

But maybe an opportunity to take a deeper look into just how Waterfront Hotel site can best be developed to keep everyone happy.

Related news stories:

Are there other options?

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Canada is now in the electric car business

By Staff

January 5th. 2023



The public got its first look at an all-Canadian electric vehicle that was designed, engineered and built through the joint efforts of our world-class automotive supply sector.

Eastern Canada has a work force that knows how to build cars, the country has the talent needed to design electric cars and, perhaps the most important part is that the country has the minerals needed to make the batteries that will propel the cars.

Not a lot of information at this point other than to say the industry is all in on this effort and tours of the prototypes will be on tour throughout Quebec, Ontario and several sates in America.


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Milton Catholic school teacher arrested on child pornography charges

By Staff

January 5th, 2023



In December 2022, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) Internet Child Exploitation Unit (I.C.E.) commenced an investigation into a person that was luring children over the internet.

As a result of this investigation, Justin Zielke (44) of Ancaster was arrested on January 5, 2023, and has been charged with the following:

Justin Zielke (44) of Ancaster

• Possession of Child Pornography (2 counts)
• Distribute Child Pornography
• Make child pornography
• Luring a child (2 counts)

Zielke was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Zielke has been a teacher at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Elementary School in Milton since 2016. Zielke goes by the name of “Mr Z” to his students and uses various online personas including “Dan Forest”.

Investigators believe that he has been communicating with children from all over the world and that there may be additional victims. A photo of Zielke has been attached to this media release.

Anyone who may have any additional information pertaining to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Todd Martin at 905-465-8983 or Detective Constable Dave Cziraki at 905-465-8984 of the Halton Regional Police Service – Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

These investigations have been funded and made possible through a grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

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Another scam - this time the scammers use the post office to try and fool you.

By Staff

January 5th, 2023



When there is email that you don’t instantly recognize – look for the address it came from.

In this most recent scam using Canad Post as information that might attract you the address was:


There is no way of knowing who the email came from.  When you see this type of thing – click delete – quickly.

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Resident sees a 'general public distrust in the government, less faith in the rule of law'

By Charles Zach

January 5th, 2023


Mr. Zach is responding to the article on how the Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith decided he would not communicate with a constituent

Unfortunately degradation of our democracy process is an old issue that transcends our own City council.

Charles Zach

There was a time in the not too distant past that aspiring politicians righteously ascribed to the precept that they are servants of the people and constituency that elected them and are their to represent their interests and protect the rights of the minority from mob rule.

They were beholden to the constituency to proactively listen to the concerns of the community and keep powerful special interests from hijacking the process.

Now we have radical activists seeking office that only pretend to be politicians who have their own axe to grind at the expense of the people. Coupled with a concentration of political power in the executive, the concept of individual constituent representation has been overshadowed by the will of the executive under the banner of authoritarian collectivism.

Communication with the community is now top down and is no longer an exercise in sincere information gathering but a disingenuous means to validate edicts.

Burlington saw the lowest turn out of eligible voters in the last municipal election because they have lost faith in the democratic process and these activist usurpers.

This translates into a general public distrust in the government, less faith in the rule of law and a greater potential for civil resistance and disobedience. In Burlington, the buck stops at the Mayors desk, who has set the tone for this new age Orwellian governance.

Related news stories:

What city Council is doing to Tom Muir

Muir put facts on the record.

Charles Zach is a born and bred resident of Burlington whose parents came to Canada when Hungary was invaded by the Russian government. They didn’t like what they were seeing then; their son Charles doesn’t like what he sees now.

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Mayor has basically given Councillors license to shut out any constituent

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2023



The heart of a community is made up of the people who do things; Work at a Food Bank, visit with people who live by themselves, sit on committees and look for ways to make the city, Burlington, a better place to live.

Some are active politically, they follow what happens at city council; that make a point of offering another point of view.

Look at what Plan B achieved and they aren’t finished; look at what ECoB did during its short life. Look at what BCSI did for the community.

One person did even more.

Tom Muir

Tom Muir delegated at city council for more than two decades. In his time and in his way he moved the needle.

Tom didn’t change very much; he always wrote much more than he should have, he dug into issues and wouldn’t let them go.
What changed was the ethic of the city council we have in place now.

Tom saw a real issue and dug out the information the public should have had before the last municipal election.

When the information he wrestled into the public square got too uncomfortable for his ward councillor Kelvin Galbraith cut him off; told him that the Councillor would not communicate with him anymore.

Tom Muir didn’t harass the Councillor, Galbraith’s personal safety was never at risk. He just kept asking questions. Muir hadn’t talked to Galbraith since the beginning of the pandemic early in 2020.

Informed people in Burlington were stunned when Galbraith wrote Muir saying: ““You will receive no further communications from my office.”

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Muir reached out to the Mayor asking if a member of council could do what Galbraith had done and got lip service.

There wasn’t a word heard from any member of Council.

What the Mayor had done was give the members of council a license to refuse to talk to any constituent. In doing so she expunged whatever energy there was left in the community for people who wanted to come forward.

No one was going to challenge council – they saw what was done to Tom Muir. Why bother – no one needs the grief.

Muir has taken the position that “If nobody at City Hall does anything then they have to live with their silence. I do not. KG will do more so it won’t go away.

“None of them have shown any transparency or accountability. They just get away with it – the entire Council is mute.”

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

In a note to the Gazette Muir said: “You will do what you do, but I am not writing any more unless someone else steps up. By myself I can’t do anymore. I have provided chapter and verse, so I’m done. I just wanted to leave a paper trail record behind.”

Tom Muir may be difficult to work with at times. He has been described as acerbic. He has also been described as very detailed. The city was lucky to have him standing at the podium talking to Council.

There is something very wrong with a community that let’s this kind of thing happen.

We will all eventually pay a price for what this city council has let take place.

Shame is not a strong enough word to describe this lot.

Related news:

The Background

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Performing Arts Boxing Week Sale worked - very well. Couple of Sold Outs happened

By Staff

January 4th, 2023



It was a new idea – and it worked.

The Performing Arts Centre decided to hold a Boxing Sale Week. It worked

“It not only turned out to be a tremendous success it was  a wonderful way for us to engage with our Patrons over the holidays and for our Patrons to have a discount on seeing a show in the second half of our Season!

Some of the shows we featured in the sale are becoming close to sold out, so check out the EVENTS PAGE and don’t miss out on the shows you want to see this Season before it’s too late!”

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The 36 storey structure at Brant and Lakeshore is a no go at this point. Expect the developer to appeal.

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2023



Some good news on the development differences being argued at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

The city won the motion is was seeking at an Ontario Land Tribunal hearing to prevent the redevelopment the Waterfront Hotel site. .

The city won argument at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Getting to this point was a set of complex legal arguments that we will share with you in the morning.

For the time being – the city won one at the OLT

Expect the developer to appeal the decision.

It was a good solid win. The word “made” was the point on which it all rested.

More this evening.

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Could Burlington become a major focal point for the 2030 Commonwealth Games?

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2023



In 1930 Hamilton hosted what was then known as the British Empire Games.

Given that Britain is no longer an Empire, the Games are now known as the Commonwealth Games.

There is a movement to bring those games back to the Hamilton area – but this time with a tighter focus on Burlington where the private sector has come forward with a different approac0h that aligns its interests with those of the Commonwealth Games.

The traditional path for large International sports events was to get a city to agree to be the venue for the Olympics, FIFA events or the Pan Am Games and to put up all the money.

These things cost a fortune and it often takes decades for the cost of the infrastructure that has to be built is fully paid for.

The group preparing a Bid for the 100th Anniversary event that would bring the Commonwealth Games to Burlington area is being led at this point by Alinea, a corporation that owns the 50 hectare property that is between Hwy 403 and the railway line with the eastern border being King Road and the Aldershot GO station on the west.

A property that has been waiting decades for the right development to come along.

The Federal Government has yet to make a formal funding commitment.  The understanding is that they are waiting for a provincial funding commitment before that announce. The province has people working on documentation that needs to be completed before the province can commit.  There are municipalities that are prepared to host events. Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Catharines, Burlington and Mississauga are among those will be meeting with the Bid organization on the 19th – where the objective is to get local support for a pitch to the provincial government.

The Bid group is quick to point out that the meetings with the municipal sector is not an ask for financial support.

These always involve a lot of jockeying back and forth before everything falls into place.

At a Chamber of Commerce breakfast before the holidays the Bid Group made a presentation that closed with ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith asking what Burlington can do. Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna was sitting at the same table as Galbraith and while he didn’t speak at the time he is known to be a very strong supporter of sports in the community.

Citizens on a tour of the 50 hectare King Road property that could be a Commonwealth Games Athletes Village

Hamilton was at one point the energy behind the development of a Bid. The Mayor at the time, Fred Eisenberg, was incredibly supportive.  But council as a whole was undecided; it did vote to support exploring the opportunity further – they have not yet had an opportunity to formally consider the matter.

With Andrea Horwath now wearing the Chain of Office in Hamilton that might change.

The story of the Commonwealth Games and the start it got back in 1930 is to a very large degree a Burlington story.

Highly regarded Bobby Robinson was the driving force who put in place many of the rules that made the games what they have become.

Expect to hear a lot more about an event, six years away, that could define what the Burlington we know today become in 2030. There is some momentum building up.

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Councillor Sharman will do well on the budget part of his portfolio - can the same be said of the Strategic Plan part of the job?

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2023



When Mayor Meed Ward announced her Deputy Mayor initiative she assignef ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman the Strategy & Budgets portfolio.

Smart move – he is the only Councillor who could deliver on budget matters and while we have reservations as to what he will do on the Strategic Plan side – he has been around long enough and done any number of Strategic Plans to be able to get that job done.

Councillor Paul Sharman gets to wrap himself in a Strategic Plan document. what kind of a difference e might he make.

He will bring the strength and experience needed on the budget side – how he manages to square the spending that has been decided upon (Bateman High school reuse; the real cost of the Skyway Arena and the purchase of the LaSalle Park land currently owned by the city of Hamilton) is something we will know before Easter.

How Sharman manages to bring around city Treasurer Joan Ford on whatever debt level get decided upon will make for interesting political gamesmanship. Ford has dedicated her career on being not just fiscally prudent but rock solid in keeping debt to that 12.5 % limit.

The bigger, long term concern is the Strategic Plan. Whatever mistakes get made with the budget will correct themselves, at the expense of the taxpayer, but what are taxpayers for if not to clean up after the politicians?

The right Strategic Plan is something else. It is very difficult to correct the mistakes. When they get it wrong the errors tend to define the city.

The Burlington Strategic Plan is a 25 year looking forward document that takes us to 2040. It is monitored, reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis.

It will be interesting to see how the Staff report that is presented to Council, which will be the starting point for the 2022-2026 review, has to say about how well council has done with its Strategic Plan so far.

Strategic Plans were four year documents until then city manager James Ridge brought in outside consultants who came back with a bigger picture plan.

The city took a four pillar approach as the guidelines that would be used to come up with a plan that creates a city that grows (population), a city that moves (transit), a city that is greener (private tree by law and a city that is engaging.

Population growth has been mandated by the province – we have to do what we are told to do; transit is going to be a challenge on several levels, something we will return to. On engagement council will point to a consultant’s report that struck the Gazette as spurious. The public didn’t get to see the details on the questions that were asked.

The Gazette has never seen Paul Sharman as a visionary person; his tendency is to be more comfortable with policy and an almost limitless need for data, more data.
It seems there is never enough data for Sharman to make a decision.

The eleven half days spent producing the Strategic Plan in 2012 had ideas pouring out on to sheets of paper that were set out for review and comment. It was a group thinking at its best – the problems was that Staff and Council members didn’t see the outcomes in quite the same way.

In order to come up with a vision there has to be an understanding of the population- demography you are dealing with; the geography you have to work within and the upper level of government pressures you have to deal with.

Each member of council has a personal vision of what they would like Burlington to be. There has never been much in the way of a consensus amongst the members of council on what Burlington should be or what it could be.

What we do know is that they don’t like tall buildings and especially not in the downtown core.

The members of this council keep taking complaints about each other to the Integrity Commissioner – like grade school students squealing on each other.

They don’t seem to have found a way to work with the development community – the best Burlington has been able to do is provide the legal community far too many opportunities to send invoices setting out the billable hours they spent defending the city at Ontario Land Tribunal hearings.

Frank McKeown, on the left chats with Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman at a Strategic Planning session. The body language says it all in this picture

When the Goldring council decided to take the creating of a Strategic Plan seriously – up until that point the document was a collection of photographs, they spent several days at McMaster University site on the South Service Road.

At the closing session staff and members of council were asked to set out their priorities. The result was not a pretty picture.

Frank McKeown, Chief of Staff to Goldring at the time, commented that there wasn’t much opportunity for positive change with Staff and Council so far apart.

Is anything different today?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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City administration gets the first word on the budget they will debate next week. Projection is for a 7.08% increase over last year

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2023



Good media management means getting your story out first and trying to set the narrative.

Burlington’s Communications people put of their story late this afternoon – just after 6:30 pm.

Here it is with all the spin you could imagine.

The proposed 2023 budget is focused on planning ahead and protecting our city’s future.

In presenting the proposed budget, City Manager Tim Commisso and Chief Financial Officer Joan Ford are advising Council that we need to make key community investments now that improve service to residents. While our community continues to grow, our investments in enhancing City services and amenities have not kept pace. We need to maintain and repair city infrastructure. For key services like bylaw enforcement, we are simply not meeting community expectations. The time is now to invest in needed improvements. The 2023 and 2024 budget will both be “catch-up” budgets. This will enable the city to make investments that protect and improve our future.

The proposed 2023 budget recommends an overall tax increase of 7.08% (including Region of Halton and Boards of Education). Of the 7.08% increase to the property tax bill, Burlington’s portion of the overall increase is 5.90%.

On Monday, Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m., City staff will present the 2023 Budget Overview Report (F-01-23) to the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee of Burlington City Council. A copy of the report and more information is available on burlington.ca/budget.

Budget pressures
The 2023 and 2024 budgets will both be challenging.

Today in Burlington, almost three years of COVID-19 impacts have meant revenue losses and increased expenses. Our city has not kept pace with investing in the services and amenities that our growing community needs. This means we need more amenities like community centres to support our residents. The city must continue to invest in our infrastructure such as our roads, buildings and transit busses. Many people feel this impact every day.

Provincial legislative changes (Bill 23) will download the costs of growth to Burlington. This new provincial legislation reduces the City’s ability to collect fees from developers for future growth-related capital costs such as parkland, roads, transit and recreation facilities.

The 2023 proposed budget before City Council will:

• maintain service levels while recognizing higher than average inflation
• address the continued financial impacts of COVID-19
• dedicate funding to ensure our $5.2 billion of assets are maintained in a state of good repair
• include community investments for the next 50 years such as two new community centers planned to open over the next few years
• stabilize and enhance city services and address the immediate need for an updated non-union compensation program that keeps salaries market competitive
• provide more city services to residents and businesses online digitally

The 2023 proposed budget also directly addresses feedback heard from residents. This includes the need for more bylaw enforcement staff, more animal services staff and education to support our coyote management strategy. It also includes automated speed enforcement to deal with local traffic concerns, additional firefighters and more transit operators. There are key investments in these areas, among others, to better service residents. Learn more at burlington.ca/budget.

Opportunities for public engagement
Members of the public can learn more about the proposed 2023 budget and share their feedback in the following ways:

• Join the virtual 2023 Budget Town Hall, hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward on Thursday, Jan. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Visit getinvolvedburlington.ca to join in and watch the meeting on Jan. 19, or in advance to submit your question.

• Register to speak to City Council at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee where the proposed budget will be reviewed, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Members of the public who would like to speak at the meeting as a delegation can register by calling 905-335-7777, ext. 7481 or visiting burlington.ca/delegation. The deadline to register is noon on Feb. 3, 2023.

Key dates and milestones for the 2023 Budget
City meetings for the 2023 Budget are scheduled on the following dates at City Hall in Council Chambers, located at 426 Brant St., second floor. All meetings are hybrid and may be attended in person or watched by livestream online at burlington.ca/calendar.

Date 2023 Budget Item
Monday, Jan. 9, 9:30 a.m. Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee: Overview of proposed 2023 Budget

Thursday, Jan. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Virtual 2023 Budget Town Hall – watch the meeting and ask your questions at getinvolvedburlington.ca/2023-budget

Monday, Feb. 6, Tuesday, Feb. 7 and Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee: Review and approval of proposed 2023 Budget, including delegations from the public

Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 9:30 a.m. Meeting of Burlington City Council: City Council to consider approval of proposed 2023 Budget
Burlington is a city where people, nature and businesses thrive. Sign up to learn more about Burlington at burlington.ca/subscribe and follow @CityBurlington on social media.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “This budget invests in the services our growing community needs – while playing catch-up. Growth never fully pays for growth, and the province’s Bill 23 cuts municipal funding for things like community centres, transit, libraries and parks.

Nevertheless, we’re committed to ensuring you get the services you need, now and for the future. We also continue to face ongoing challenges of inflation, revenue loss due to the pandemic and a very competitive labour market. We’ve accounted for that in this budget.

“We’re building a strong foundation for our community, not just for this term but for the next generation.”

Tim Commisso, City Manager explained what the city is going to try and get done this way: ““The proposed 2023 Budget, that we are presenting to Council for their consideration in the coming weeks, includes many important investments needed now to improve City services and protect the quality of life that Burlington residents enjoy. In addition to dealing with higher inflation and the continued impacts of the pandemic, the City has fallen behind in a number of service areas and requires that immediate additional funding be directed towards infrastructure like roads and parks that cost more each year to maintain; improving city services like bylaw enforcement, animal control, transit and fires services; new city services including two new community centers and automated speed enforcement; and ensuring we remain market competitive to attract and retain talented City employees.

“As City Manager, I anticipate 2023 and 2024 will be very challenging for Council and I also appreciate these budgets include unprecedented levels of investments that we are asking the community to support. All City staff have worked extremely hard to prepare a responsible budget for Council to consider and the reality is we need to invest more now to maintain and improve the city services that residents expect in the future. Overall, our proposed 2023 budget results in a total tax increase that is in line with current inflation in Ontario.”

Joan Ford, Chief Financial Officer, the person who has to stand guard over the piggy bank, usually referred to as Reserve Funds, added that this is: “a challenging City budget. We are balancing ongoing COVID-19 impacts, facing significant inflationary pressures, maintaining our infrastructure in a state of good repair, and addressing the needs of our growing community which are not fully supported by growth funding. Services and amenities have not kept up with the growth in our community. We are now having to play catch up with our budget.

“Our 2023 budget decisions need to focus on community priorities. Our budget is more than dollars and cents. It impacts residents directly through the many City programs and services you receive. Each time you have your road plowed, use a City park or trail, or cool off in a municipal pool or splash pad, you are seeing your tax dollars at work.”

For Ford, who is nearing the time when she can retire, the amount of debt that city is prepared to take on could be giving her a serious case of indigestion.  Ford is a rock solid “be responsible and don’t spend what you don’t have treasurer.  The city is fortunate enough to have her.

There is information about the proposed 2023 budget at: burlington.ca/budget.
There will be a virtual 2023 budget town hall on January 19 at 7 p.m. You have to send your questions to:  Getinvolvedburlington.ca/2023-budget.


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The message didn't resonate with female readers. Has VR Pro lost its touch

By Staff

January 3rd, 2023



A reader writes:

“I have been supporting the VR Pro races for four years now. The latest ad, which I felt was highly subjective and inappropriate for women in this sport.

The advertisement didn’t resonate with many female runners.


“It is tasteless and has offended the women in our running group and beyond, all of who supported this woman.

“I reached out by email saying this sexualizes women and to basically do better. I got a cold reply “sorry Jullian” which isn’t my correct spelling! I figured it’s time to call her (Kelly Arnott) out and ask for an apology.

Jillian,a Peterborough resident who drive to Burlington to take part in some of the races

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How does one define citizenship engagement in Burlington ? Would 'You will receive no further communications from my office.' be acceptable ?

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2023



When Kelvin Galbraith was elected as Councillor for ward 1 in 2018 he would not have known what Tom Muir and some of his friends meant by engagement and representation.

The understanding is that the ward councillor will have a conflict of interest on any development that takes place within the MTSA boundary

It didn’t take long for Muir to “engage” with his new ward Councillor.

In the first meeting, weeks after the election, the small group set out all there concerns:

Re-establish North Aldershot Leaders Group engagement plan.

Re-establish overall Aldershot engagement plan. This includes several general meetings a year for South Aldershot and North Aldershot, and a monthly newsletter.

Form an overall Ward Council for Aldershot area, South Tyandaga, and North Tyandaga. They are much different vintages with different histories and development issues, but we still need an overall Ward 1 solidarity group. This is an overall Ward 1 wide group and is meant as a citizen information resource to the Councilor, and for issues discussion and exchange. The term of 4 years is a long time and we need such a group for the long haul.

We want our Councillor to openly and transparently communicate and act on behalf of residents. Take residents’ concerns seriously as your duty and reflect these at City Council meetings.

Conflict of Interest, ethical questions and issues; personal property ownership and development ties; recusal and loss of Ward 1 resident Council voting representation.

Tom Muir likes being involved and brings more energy, and a critical mind, the development that takes place in his community. For a ward councillor to decide he will not communicate with a constituent is mind boggling.

Muir said that he has not talked to Galbraith since January of 2020 just before Covid. “He told me he would not work with me because of something I wrote in a comment in the Gazette.

Fast forward to the 2022 election. Galbraith was re-elected but not without some controversy.

Galbraith met with the Integrity Commissioner in March of 2022 and learned that there were likely going to be conflict of interest matters given his personal property holdings and set out what they were and how Galbraith should handle them.

The report from the Integrity Commissioner was not made public until days before the October 2022 election.

Muir had filed a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner that resulted in a report that satisfied no one.

Muir continued doing what he does – he is like a dog with a bone.

He makes a practice of taking part in all the Aldershot community pre-application meetings developers are required to hold under the Planning Act. These are referred to as Statutory meetings.

The meetings are publicized by the ward Councillor and do appear on the city web site by the Planning department. Muir depended on getting the information from his ward Councillor.
The issues for Muir and the group is that the ward will not be adequately represented when the MTSA (Major Transit Service area) matters are before Council

Muir claims that the Aldershot MTSA “will have impacts on the development potential of your properties, the value of those properties and the eventual profitability of those properties.

“You may have to recuse yourself from all debate/discussion and decisions with regard to the Aldershot MTSA. This is a major feature of Planning for Ward 1. Your inability to represent your constituents on this most important matter is of grave concern to us.

“Applications for Planning/Zoning Amendments along Plains Rd are often regarded as precedent setting cases which determine future decisions of Council, Staff and the OLY (Ontario Land Tribunal. These precedents will have impacts on the development potential of your properties, the value of those properties and the eventual profitability of those properties.

You may have to recuse yourself from all debate/discussion and decisions with regard to Planning and Zoning Amendments. With so many Amendment Applications currently in process in the ward, your inability to represent your constituents on this most important matter is of grave concern to us.

The properties that are within the MTSA boundaries are show in this graphic. Locations A., C and D are identified as owned by Galbraith

Changes to Transit Plans and Transit routes even, whether to improve or reduce transit in the area have well recorded impacts on property values adjacent to such transit corridors. Improved or reduced transit to the Aldershot Rd/Plains Rd corner will have impacts on the development potential of your properties, the value of those properties and the eventual profitability of those properties.

You may have to recuse yourself from all debate/discussion and decisions with regard to Planning and Zoning Amendments. With so many Amendment Applications currently in process in the ward, your inability to represent your constituents on this most important matter is of grave concern to us.

We are concerned that having to recuse yourself from so many of the most important issues facing our ward in the coming council session will detract from your ability to best represent us particularly when decisions may pit development in one ward against development in Ward One.

Can you tell us how you will address this?

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

In December of 2022 Tom Muir learned just how Kelvin Galbraith planned to address the Muir concerns. He received the following from Galbraith on Sunday, December 11, 2022 3:18 PM

“You will receive no further communications from my office.”

Muir was stunned, as were the few people who were aware of the Galbraith decision. He got in touch with Mayor Meed Ward who said “Council members, as well as city staff, can limit their interactions with individuals where deemed necessary.

“The Mayor’s office has neither the authority nor the resources to investigate such situations, or the interactions that led to them. There are established and appropriate avenues for making a complaint, of which you are already aware.

“There are many ways for you to remain connected to news in your Ward, including subscribing to council newsletters and following council members on social media. You can also watch and attend committee and council meetings to see how your elected officials voted and why.”

So much for being fully engaged with the people Council was elected to represent.

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The coyotes still seem to like Burlington.

By Staff

January 3rd, 2023



This is not the first piece of news people were expecting for 2023.

An observant Gazette reader sent this along.

Where did this one come from?

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They are still at it - the identity thieves use phony email messages to draw you in.

By Pepper Parr

January 2nd, 2023



They do not give up – why should they – every day new people get pulled in and taken advantage of.

Users have to be cautious.  When the street crossing light is red – you at least pause.  Same with the internet.  Let me give you an example.

This was the message in my mail box. I don’t have, never have had a Spotify account

I know what Spotify is; I don’t use it – doesn’t meet any of my needs.  So when I get a notice form them that there is a problem with my account I know a phishing scam is about to take place.

If I click on that green box the process of gathering information about me has begun.

It was easy for me to spot the scan but for the millions of people with Spotify accounts – they might think there is a problem and respond.  Spotify account users are prime sources for information thieves.

The fact that I got the note does say that somewhere along the way someone got my email address (they would have bought it from a list someone on the dark side of the internet)  These people send out tens of thousands of email scams daily.

They are profitable for the scammers and very damaging to the user that gets sucked in.



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Rotary Centennial Pond Closed - what is open

By Staff

January 1st, 2023



It certainly doesn’t feel like seasonal weather but then just what is seasonal anymore.

Enough of a temperature to keep the water on the Centennial Pond frozen would have been nice.

Centennial Pond closed to skaters

Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond is closed today (Jan. 1, 2023) for skating due to poor ice conditions from the wet and warmer weather. For ice conditions, call 905-335-7738, ext. 8587 before leaving home.

For other indoor skate times, check burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

What is open:

Tim Hortons Free Skating will take place this holiday season. Admittance is first come, first served until capacity is reached. For dates and locations, visit burlington.ca/timsfreeskate.

Drop-In Recreation Programs

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

Customer Service

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

In person at recreation facility counters during program times
By email at liveandplay@burlington.ca

By phone at 905-335-7738.

Transit is on regular Sunday Service

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Crowds show up around the world to celebrate a New Year - a better year perhaps?

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2023



They do it differently in France don’t they ?

The crowd on the   Champs-Élysées  celebrating the arrival of a New Year.

Tough to see if anyone was wearing a mask.

What does “Champs-Élysées” mean? “Champs-Élysées” is French for “Elysian Fields,” a paradise in Greek mythology. What is the Champs-Élysées famous for? The Champs-Élysées connects the Arc de Triomphe with the Place de la Concorde and is considered to be one of the world’s most famous commercial streets.

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Tough to enter a new year with so many problems that don't have answers - it is going to take more than 'hope for the best' to get through this one

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2023


365 pages – each one having the potential to bring new problems. Maybe February 14th will be a good day


Does anyone ave any idea what we are going to have to face in 2023?

Will we still have the pandemic to deal with?  The million plus new infections each day being experienced in China do not auger well.

No one has any idea what climate change is going to deliver – other than that there will be catastrophes – we hope they don;t happen here.

Where will the economy take us?  Will the Bank of Canada eventually learn when to increase its prime rates and when to lower them.

Will stress testing for mortgage renewals hit hundreds – thousands of homes in Burlington?

A stiff local tax rate is already evident.

Is the public going to find a way to rein in some of the decisions Premier Doug Ford is making.

Will students finally get a year when school is normal and the graduating class can celebrate in June?

We have to look hard for the good news.  some will prosper but many many more will not.

And the number of people relying on the food banks will not be less at this time next year.

The Best we are going to be able to do is be Thankful for what we have.


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Rivers on: Democracy’s Last Stand - many lessons to be learned from this conflict.

By Ray Rivers

December 31st, 2022


“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.” (Ukrainian president Zelenskyy’s speech to a joint session of US Congress – Dec 22, 2022)

For the first time since Russian tanks had rolled into his country on February 24th, Ukraine’s president made the dangerous journey overseas. He came to Washington to thank the American people for their military and economic support as his nation’s soldiers struggle to push back the brutal Russian aggression. Of course there were many other nations who have provided military and economic support besides the US.

But the US still considers itself the leader of the free (democratic) world. Its most recent support for Ukraine totalling around $40 billion has raised eyebrows among the opposition Republicans in Congress. Yet the US spent twice that amount to supposedly bring democracy to Afghanistan, including paying the salaries of its soldiers. And we all know what happened to that failed effort.

Ukraine President Zelenskyy speaking to a joint session of congress presented a flag bearing the signatures of men and women fighting on the front line days before. The flag was received by US Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

President Zelenskyy was too polite, in his remarks, to also remind America’s political leaders about the US commitment in the Budapest Memorandum. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine disposed of its nuclear weapons, the world’s third largest arsenal. But they only did this on the condition of security guarantees by the US, the UK and Russia that Ukrainian territorial integrity would be preserved.

But when Putin invaded and occupied Crimea and parts of Donbas the other two signatories to the deal refused to even acknowledge, let alone own up to their commitment. To add insult to injury US president Obama and his NATO allies even refused to send any defensive weapons to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. Obama should have sent back his Nobel peace prize and accepted the Neville Chamberlain appeasement award instead.

Canada wasn’t a signatory to the memorandum, but, with the largest diaspora of Ukrainians outside of Europe, both Harper and Trudeau said all the right things to the home audience. But they refused to send over any serious defensive weapons until the eve of the Feb 24th invasion. Shipments of Canadian sniper rifles were likely still in their shipping crates while the Russian tanks were marching up to Kyiv. And it’s not like a sniper rifle could stop a tank anyway.

Mr. Putin has ruptured the international order agreed by the nations of the world in the aftermath of WWII. Once again there is an armed conflict in the heart of Europe, which has already involved NATO, Belarus, Iran and North Korea and is threatening to bring in other players like China, which would force Nato to up its hand. And that is the danger if this becomes a longer conflict – it could make it another world war.

The Russian Federation has trampled on the United Nations charter by its aggression – invading a sovereign nation without cause. And they have committed some 50,000 war crimes, according to Ukrainian justice authorities, during their occupation to date. Mr. Putin has said he wants to erase everything Ukrainian, which makes this genocide. Already many countries have officially labelled the Putin regime as a sponsor of terrorism.

Putin witnessing the launch of a nuclear submarine via a web cast

Though Putin has tried nuclear blackmail, he clearly understands that using nuclear weapons in an offensive action against a non-nuclear state would entail serious consequences. It has been suggested, for example, that NATO land forces might be compelled to join the conflict in such a case. Exploding nuclear weapons, even the smaller tactical ones, would likely disperse radioactivity over large parts of Russia proper. And what would be the logic of radiating Ukrainian land Putin covets to own as part of Russia?

There are many lessons to be learned from this conflict. And though western leaders are confidently saying Russia has already lost, it is still going to be a long journey to the end of hostilities. There are children and non-combatants dying every day as Russian missiles continue to rain down on Ukrainian cities and towns. And then there is the trail of tortured and massacred citizens left behind, as the world witnessed in the captured town of Bucha, just north of Kyiv.

The truth is that this Russian invasion was avoidable. The easiest thing would have been for NATO to have accepted Ukraine into that organization prior to Feb 24th and protected it with the mutual defence Article Five. That is what Zelenskyy had been demanding prior to Russia’s invasion; something he probably should have reminded the US Congress and president during his Dec 22nd address.

On a personal note, I should say that my grandparents were all had born in the western part of Ukraine which was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time and I have relatives still living there. I’ve been to Ukraine a couple times, the last time when my wife and I taught English and our Canadian culture to students of all ages.

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a Zoom class in English with some students in the northern city of Chernihiv. The teachers there informed me that of the more than thirty schools which had been operating prior to the invasion only two were left still standing. My heart goes out for the children and their parents.

What will the new year hold for them? Do we dare say Happy New Year?

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes from time to time applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  He has a band that gets together regularly, he is now a professional actor amd an author will one book to his credit and a second that is “in the works. Tweet @rayzrivers

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Meet Ernie - My 2022 Christmas Tree

By Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2022



Ernie – my 2022 Christmas tree.

Christmas engages all of us in different ways.

The kids see it one way and the grandparents see it another.

I was late in putting a Christmas tree in place.  My living space was such that it would not have fit in and I didn’t have all that much in the way of decorations I could use.  Also mu entance doesn’t face the street – and there aren’t a lot of visitors these days.

Then I saw Ernie and I knew he was going to be my Christmas Tree.

You just gotta love the guy.

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