RCMP take over the land swap case - will criminal charges be laid?

By Pepper Parr

August 23, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The heat just got turned up a notch.

Police in Ontario tend not to touch much in the way of misbehaviour on the part of politicians at the provincial level.

The potential for conflicts is just too high.

The Ontario Provincial Police has been keeping an eye on the way the Greenbelt land swap is playing out.  When it became evident to them – they passed the file along to the RCMP.

 

The OPP said it: “has received a number of inquiries regarding an investigation into the Greenbelt.”

“To avoid any potential perceived conflict of interest, the OPP referred this matter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,”

“In order to protect the integrity of the process, it would not be appropriate to provide any further comment. Questions should be directed to the RCMP.”

The OPP got in touch with the Mounties and said there was a thick file coming their way.

The “buck stopped” at the Premier’s desk. Is that statement enough to bring an end to the problems?

The decision on the part of Doug Ford to accept the resignation of Ryan Amato who was blamed by the Auditor General for the way lands were removed from the Greenbelt to allow housing developments.

Amato was Chief of Staff to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark who said he was not aware of the decisions Amato made about lands being removed from the Greenbelt

The move came the morning after Ford’s government parted ways with Ryan Amato, who was blamed in the $8.28-billion Greenbelt land swap controversy.

Ivana Yelich, Ford’s deputy chief of staff, said Tuesday afternoon that: “The premier’s office has accepted Ryan Amato’s resignation as chief of staff to the minister of municipal affairs and housing, effective immediately,”

Auditor General Bonnie Lysak issued a scathing report – is it to bring about the resignation of the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark

Auditor General Bonnie Lysak issued a scathing report that set out just what happened: prominent developers” getting 7,400 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area opened up to build 50,000 homes adding that  the usual guardrails provided by bureaucrats and planners, and personally selected 14 of the 15 parcels of protected land to be removed from the Greenbelt.

Lysak said that could mean an $8.28-billion bonanza for the landowners.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake, who is also doing a probe of the Greenbelt land swap, is investigating whether Amato breached the Public Service Act.

Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre has yet to make a statement on the Auditor General’s Report.

Amato, who has retained counsel, has not been available for comment.

It is not unusual for the OPP, which is funded by Queen’s Park, to refer potentially politically sensitive cases to other forces.

This isn’t the end of this story.

People in Burlington are still waiting for a statement from their MPP Natalie Pierre – promised “soon” more than a week ago.

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Many people consider Pin Up casino online to be one of the best online platforms in Canada.

By Mia Gonzales

August 23rd, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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How is $1.2 billion over three years going to result in more homes being built - city doesn't build - developers build and they haven't been doing much of that lately

By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Would someone explain to the Premier of the province that municipalities do not build houses.

They approve developments and issue building permits when all the required conditions are met.

Some developers don’t like that process and take their case to the Ontario Land Tribunal holds things up for a couple of years and often, most of the time give the developer at least a part of what they want.

Of the five categories only those waiting for site plan approval have an outcome determined by the city.

Ford, under a lot of pressure is as a result of the Greenbelt land swaps announced a $1.2-billion fund to encourage municipalities to build more housing.

Hopefully he will give them rubber stamps so they can put approval on development applications.

The announcement was made to delegates at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in London on Monday.

The surprise move, was a new three-year, $1.2-billion “building faster fund” that would reward cities and towns that try to meet the housing construction targets the province has imposed upon them.

This is a really dismal bit of information.

“This new fund is an incentive program that supports municipalities to build more homes,” the premier said, citing Pickering, Vaughan and Brantford as examples that would receive increased cash for “infrastructure and community-building projects” because they are exceeding their mandates.

“Municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their target each year will become eligible for funding based on their share of the overall goal of 1.5 million homes,” he said, warning those failing to meet the 80 per cent threshold won’t qualify.

The Progressive Conservatives want to build those homes 2031, with Ford conceding it is an “ambitious” aim because this year there will be about 110,000 housing starts; well below the average of more than 150,000 that need to be constructed each year.

“It’d be the first time in over three decades that we surpassed the 100,000 threshold. From there, we’ll ramp up over time until we’re on track to build at least 1.5 million homes”, said Ford

Do you see anything positive about these numbers?

Municipal leaders welcomed the new funding, which comes as they are coping with reduced revenues from development charges that the province removed to spur construction of more affordable housing.

We have yet to hear a single municipal leader explain how the money is going to move the development applications any faster.

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Bonnie Crombie wins a lot of the hearts during a meeting of Burlington Liberals - Sandra's wasn't one of them

By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

She entered the room and dove right into the crowd.

Shaking hands, saying hello – nice to see you again.

Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga and a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is just itching for a chance to run against Premier Doug Ford in 2026 and form a government.

Bonnie Crombie addressing Burlington Liberals

She talked about revitalizing the Ontario Liberal Party, finding first class candidates and defeating Doug Ford in 2026.

The woman has a lot of energy and puts on a very polished performance. The small crowd liked her – they applauded frequently during the one hour event.

Doing the one on one with people is usually, based on what I saw last night, Crombie on her best.  Gloria, a Personal Care Worker explained at some length what she was up against day to day.   Gloria made the very poignant remark – “please don’t forget us if you are elected.”

She set out her priorities:  Climate Change, Education, Health Care with a tight focus on improving Long Term Care and the Greenbelt.

She was generous about the other four candidates.  The five people running for the leadership consist of  two MP’s, two MPP’s and a Mayor.

Sandra had some hard questions for Crombie.

Animated, engaging and direct for the most part.

Crombie took questions from the audience – but something seemed to change when a woman named Sandra asked Crombie questions about positions she had taken in the past.  Surprisingly, Crombie almost got into an argument with the woman, saying on three occasions: “I didn’t say that”.

She was fully aware of what the woman was talking about – but didn’t appear to handle the interaction all that well.

The polished performance – and make no mistake – Bonnie Crombie knows how to engage an audience, slipped for a few moments.

She pivoted and asked: “Does anyone know who Veronica is?  No one knew.  Crombie said “Veronica is my Mom”.  She told the audience about her two daughters who are engaged and soon to be married and that they will need good child care and excellent schools with teachers focused on students.

Crombie knew how to listen carefully.

The audience learned that Crombie was a successful woman in the private sector and worked for Fortune 500 level corporations and was the Mayor of a City with a $4 billion budget and that she had been a Member of the House of Commons; became a City Councillor during a by-election.

She told the audience she had released policy papers and put out one today on how the University Community College sector should be helped.

The meeting was scheduled to run from 6:00 to 8:00 – but by about 7:10 Crombie was out the door leaving an audience that wanted more of her and from her.

There was no explanation – like I’m tired – can I go home. 

We were later advised that Crombie had a back to back schedule, an event in Oakville that started at 7PM and then another event at 7:30PM.

She has been on the road for weeks – visiting every town that will make time for her.

The Burlington audience was asked to stand and have a group picture taken – most wanted to be in that picture. Sandra didn’t.

The race for the leadership is going to play itself out during the fall when there will be at least five debates giving the public an opportunity to see the candidates in a setting they don’t control.

Bonnie Crombie was almost Imperial when she walked to the event provincial Liberals were holding in Hamilton. People spoke of her taking a majority of the ballots on the first round of the ranked voting.

Thursday, September 14
Thunder Bay – 7:00 PM

Sunday, October 1
Stratford – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, October 24
Toronto – 7:00 PM

Wednesday, November 8
Ottawa – 7:00 PM

Saturday, November 18 OR Sunday, November 19 (TBD)
Brampton – 1:00 PM

The Liberal Party of Ontario has an open membership.  Be 14 years of age and you can vote for the leader of your choice.

Party members will cast ranked ballots on Saturday, November 25, 2023 and Sunday, November 26, 2023.

Voting will be available in-person for almost all constituency associations, student clubs, and women’s clubs, with a small number voting by mail.

Ballot counting and the announcement of round-by-round results will take place on Saturday, December 2, 2023 with the OLP’s new leader announced the same day.

Based on what I have seen during the Meet and Greet events and the interviewing I have been doing, this race is going to be between Nate Erskine- Smith and Bonnie Crombie.

Crombie can beat Doug Ford but she has to beat Erskine – Smith first.

 

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Finally: An occasion to listen and tell city hall what you would like the Bateman HS property to be used for

By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This evening, at the Appleby Line Ice Arena, people will have an opportunity to voice their views on the plans for the former Bateman High School property is as it gets converted into a community hub that is looking for a name.

A project that has a $100 million price tag – the Mayor said that, I didn’t make it up.

Getting to where we are with this project has been an awkward and very poorly handled process.

Here is what the city has to say about the event this evening:

The City of Burlington is ready to start engagement related to the former Robert Bateman High School building.

These opportunities for engagement and input are only for the use of the inside of the building, and not about greenspace or parking.

Input on greenspace and parking will come at a later.

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Local bean counter considering a new career - loves the old war planes

By Alan Harrington,

August 21st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Inspired by this August 14 article in the Gazette, I clicked the link to learn more about flying on one of the heritage aircraft at the Warplane Museum in Hamilton.

It was surprising to see that some of the flights were quite affordable – a couple hundred instead of thousands of dollars.

The Warplane Museum is an excellent institution – that does Hamilton proud! Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum – Canadian Aviation History | Wartime Vintage Aircraft

It is known for having one of only TWO flying WWII Lancaster bombers in the world. (The other named “Thumper” lives in the UK)

This very large (for its time), four-propeller airplane would cost a family of four $ 14,600.00 to fly for an hour.

Too much for my budget.

Harrington gets a different look at the pair

The museum has ten other flying vintage aircraft to choose from, so I selected the “mini-Lancaster” Beechcraft Expeditor.  It has a similar split tail section and dark green colour like the Lancaster.

These Beechcraft airplanes were built from 1937 to 1970 in Wichita Kansas where they made 9,000 of them.  This particular one marked “BAE” was built in 1946.

I booked my “flight for one” with take-off scheduled for August 20 at 10:15 am.

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and I arrived at 9:00 am just as the museum opened.  Got checked in. Watched as about 5 airplanes were rolled out of the hangar and onto the tarmac.  Met my fellow passengers and pilots, signed our papers, walked to the runway and jumped in the tiny plane.

There’s room for two pilots and four passengers who each get a window seat.

After a full preflight check of everything including oil, fuel levels, safety checks, etc,… the starboard side propeller was started up.

Harrington was in the air and loved every minutes of it.

You can feel its power while seated inside the craft.  Next, the prop on the port side started spinning and created more shaking.

The pilots got the props synced so they’re in harmony and the taxi down the runway began.

There were not many airplanes on the runway that morning so we were cleared for takeoff.

The noise level amped up and the old bucket of bolts got shaking – but you would too at age 77.  The earth fell below the wings and we were up in the air – smooth as the breeze.

This particular plane tends to yaw – (move left and right) – something called the “Wichita Wiggle” due to its short length.

If the plane was a bit longer – it would lessen the wiggle.

We rose up over Hamilton – then Aldershot and Burlington to get a good view of the pier.

Quick bank over to the Skyway Bridge and Lift Bridge below it..

The only thing missing was a ship passing through the canal.

The steel mills and then Canada’s WWII warship HMCS Haida were in our sights in the harbour.

At only about 1000 feet altitude it was easy to get a bird’s eye view of all kinds of local landmarks including the Hamilton airport itself.

With HMCS Haida in his sights Harrington might consider the Senior Service – I should take him aboard and show him where I slung my hammock.

Twenty minutes in the air went by quickly – but that was all the time that was really needed.

One final turn put us back in the path for the runway and we slowly touched down.

Modern planes have their third wheel in the nose while these old planes have their third wheel in the rear which requires a certain skill from the pilot to land.

Pilot line up for a landing at the Hamilton International Airport: Harrington is hooked for life?

We jumped out – thanked the pilots and scooted back to the hangar to get our certificates.

It always stirs my senses to think we sent our young aviators up in these tiny metal boxes in WWII – knowing many would not return.

Amazing also is that this airplane was built only 43 years after flying began in 1903 – and now we’re 77 years further in technology.

Big thanks to all the volunteer pilots and mechanics at the Warplane Museum for putting our safety foremost and all the years of maintenance to keep these birds flying.

Thank you to the Gazette for the excellent suggestion.

I have already selected the C-47 Dakota for my next trip – which is a bigger plane and a longer flight @ 50 minutes..

Just need to find 10 fellow passengers.

Related news story:

Warplane Museum offering flight in vintage aircraft

 

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Are we finally seeing something driven by public service instead of private greed?

By Staff

August 20th 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the midst of Canada’s worsening housing crisis, a collective of industry experts has drafted a blueprint to build two million new purpose-built rental units in the next seven years.

The National Housing Accord, led by the PLACE Centre, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), and the Real Property Association of Canada (REALPAC), put forth 10 recommendations to the federal government that would restore affordability and protect vulnerable sectors of the population who bear the brunt of the crisis.

The recommendations are the result of a roundtable discussion between numerous industry stakeholders and experts, including The Minto Group, TD Asset Management, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, and Options for Homes Limited.

Dr. Mike Moffatt, Founding Director of the PLACE Centre.

“We’ve been saying for years that we need to lock everybody — the non-profit sector, builders, developers — in a room until they come up with a plan to solve this crisis. And it dawned on us, why don’t we just do that? So we got together and hashed out a plan,” Dr. Mike Moffatt, Founding Director of the PLACE Centre, told STOREYS.

“We tried to do a lot of the heavy lifting [for the federal government.] We’re hoping they like some of our recommendations and that we’re able to start moving forward on them.”

A lack of “accessible, climate-friendly, affordable, and market-rate purpose-built rental units” has led to a rapid rise in rents across the country, the most significant impact of which is felt by the lowest-income Canadians, including students, newcomers, and single-parent households.

Rising rents are also threatening economic growth and driving a new wave of homelessness — according to the report, the number of people who lose their homes due to unaffordability is now on the same scale as those who lose their homes due to large natural disasters.

For each of the past 13 years, the average monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment has increased at or above Canada’s 2% inflation target, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Over the past seven years, rent on a one-bedroom has risen by 32%, while average weekly earnings have risen by less than 23%.

Increase in average rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Canada/The National Housing Accord

While the National Housing Accord notes that there is no one single cause for the rise in rents, one factor is that the population of renters is growing faster than the number of purpose-built rental properties.

Over the past seven years, rent on a one-bedroom has risen by 32%, while average weekly earnings have risen by less than 23%.

In order to restore affordability, Canada needs to build 5.3 million homes between 2024 and 2030, two million of which need to be purpose-built rental units. This requires the tripling of home building over the next seven years.

To arrive at these figures, the National Housing Accord drew upon a June 2022 report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), as well as recent data on housing completions and purpose-built rental completions.

In order for this “ambitious” goal to be met, the federal government must work with its provincial and municipal counterparts, as well as builders, developers, the non-profit sector, and the higher education sector to prioritize innovation in home building, address bottlenecks that are slowing down construction, and provide support to those who are experiencing homelessness.

The Accord’s recommendations include creating an industrial strategy consisting of targets and accountability measures, creating a national workforce and immigration strategy on housing, and developing a robust innovation strategy that includes procurement policy and innovation centres for construction.

The federal government should revamp the National Building Code to drive innovation, and help reform CMHC fees and the federal tax system, including eliminating the GST and HST on purpose-built rental housing, to incentivize the construction industry.

The CMHC approval process should be streamlined, and include a catalogue of pre-approved designs to allow for the construction of purpose-built rental housing to be fast-tracked.

With the creation of a Homelessness Prevention and Housing Benefit (HPHB), immediate relief could be provided to up to 385,000 households that are at imminent risk of homelessness, and over 50,000 people could be helped out of homelessness. The Canada Housing Benefit should be replaced with a Portable Housing Benefit (PHB) that would better target individuals and families with the greatest housing needs.

The Accord also recommends that the federal government provide low-cost, long-term fixed-rate financing for the construction of purpose-built rental housing, and create a property acquisition program for non-profit housing providers to help purchase existing rental housing projects and hotels, and to facilitate office-to-residential conversions.

While some of the recommendations can be undertaken quite quickly, like removing HST and GST on purpose-built rentals, others, such as creating a national innovation strategy, will be more long-term, Moffat explained. Some, like a pre-approved catalogue of designs at CMHC, have been implemented during housing crises past.

“I don’t think we should understate the challenge of building these two million homes. But absolutely it’s something that Canada can do. It’s necessary. Because the alternative is worse,” Moffat said.

“If we don’t solve this affordability crisis we’re going to have more of the same. We’ve seen homelessness increase substantially over the last decade or so. We need to turn a corner. And the only way we’re going to do that is by building more housing.”

The recommendations address six core challenges the National Housing Accord has identified as preventing the construction of affordable purpose-built rental housing.

These include a lack of coordination between all levels of government, builders, developers, the higher education sector, and the non-profit sector, and insufficient labour, materials, equipment, land, and capital to get homes built.

Projects must be economically viable for for-profit builders and developers, productivity and innovation must improve, and the regulatory environment must speed up, safely, while still protecting the environment.

There are housing needs that can’t be met by the market. These gaps create a need for governments and not-for-profits to build everything from supportive housing units to student residences.

In addition to the aforementioned core challenges, the recommendations, namely the calls to create the Homelessness Prevention and Housing Benefit and replace the Canada Housing Benefit, address the need to support low-income renters.

If all the challenges are addressed, and all the recommendations adopted, Moffatt is optimistic that Canada can build the two million purpose-built rentals needed to restore affordability.

While there are still more conversations to be had, he is already seeing inklings of interest from the powers that be.

“It feels like something has changed, at all orders of government. I think there’s a recognition that may not have existed a year or two ago that some bold thinking and action is going to be needed to push this forward,” Moffatt said.

“We’re hopeful that the federal government can take the lead that we did, where we had people who don’t always agree come together and find common ground. Let’s hash it out. We’ve got a blueprint here, let’s work together and make this happen. Let’s get rid of the finger pointing and the questions about whose responsibility is this, and just recognize that it’s up to everybody to fix this housing crisis…. It’s going to be really hard. It’s a big audacious goal. But we’ve got to do it.”

Reproduced in full from Storeys, the most-read real estate news site in Canada.

 

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City would like to hear what you think of the three finalists and their proposed sculpture for the new Skyway Community Centre.

By Staff

August 21, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington is commissioning an artist to create a sculpture for the new Skyway Community Centre.

A citizen jury shortlisted three (3) artists to submit design proposals and now we want you to tell us what you think! Your feedback will help the citizen jury with their final selection of the winning artwork.

Skyway Community Centre Public Art Projects Goals:

1. Create a contemporary sculpture that is part of the new community centre.

2. Act as a beacon to help guide visitors towards the main entrance of the building.

3. Reflect on the theme of sustainability through the artwork materials and/or artwork subject matter.

4. Complement the design of the community centre.


Give us your feedback
Skyway Community Centre Public Art Feedback

Share your feedback on three proposed designs

Please review the three proposed designs and submit your feedback. Your comments, along with the technical and design proposals, will inform the jury’s final selection.

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Premier addresses Ontario Mayors at AMO conference - didn't uses the word Greenbelt once

By Staff

August 21st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Friends…It’s great to be back here in the wonderful city of London…Alongside my caucus and cabinet colleagues for the 2023 AMO Conference.
I want to acknowledge Regional Chief Glen Hare and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell as well as our host mayor Josh Morgan.

It’s my sixth time speaking at this conference and as I’ve said before this event is one of the highlights of my year. It’s always a privilege to join you to not only talk about the challenges we’re facing but also talk about the great progress we’re making together.

Premier Ford’s sixth time speaking to an AMO crowd.

And friends Ontario is growing at an unprecedented pace. Last year alone our population grew by more than 500,000 people. At this rate Ontario will add five million more people in the next 10 years. That’s like adding two new cities nearly the size of Toronto in a decade.

Ontario is now the fastest growing jurisdiction in all of North America…Bar none! We’re growing faster than both Texas and Florida.  Hundreds of thousands of families are coming to Ontario because here in Ontario we have endless opportunity.

We’re seeing new businesses set up shop. We’re attracting billions of dollars in new investments…And new jobs…Across all sectors…In all regions of the province.

And I have to tell you as Premier nothing brings me more joy than joining you in your communities to welcome a new investment.

Another factory or a new shift. Another production facility or a state-of-the-art manufacturing lab.

In April…I joined Mayor Vrbanovic and Mayor McCabe to break ground on the University of Waterloo and City of Kitchener’s new Innovation Arena for health-science start-ups.

In May I was thrilled to join Mayor Liggett to celebrate Moderna’s major investment to make vaccines in Cambridge.

And I’ll never forget last year standing shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Dilkens to celebrate Canada’s first large-scale electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor.

Or this past Spring in St. Thomas alongside Mayor Preston to announce that Volkswagen was following suit with their first overseas gigafactory.

And friends…I just want to take a moment to talk about our growing auto sector. We’re building a home-grown electric vehicle supply chain…That’s going to benefit every community in this province for generations to come.

Rendering of the Volkswagen plant to be built in St. Thomas

We’re connecting critical minerals in northern Ontario and clean steelmakers in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie. We’ve attracted over $25 billion in auto and EV battery investments.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America where the world’s six largest automakers have set up shop.

Last month alone Ontario added more than 7,800 manufacturing jobs to our economy. That’s more new manufacturing jobs than all 50 U.S. states combined.
Ontario manufacturing sector now employs over 820,000 people, the highest it’s been since December 2008.

Across all sectors…700,000 more people are working today, than when we took office in 2018. as our economy grows our population grows…

We need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up. That’s why we’ve embarked on the most ambitious capital plan in our province’s history. We’re investing nearly $50 billion to support more than 50 new hospital projects across Ontario.

We’re investing $28 billion in roads and highways…

And more than $70 billion in transit…

As we build the largest transit expansion in North America.

The Bradford bypass

Shovels are in the ground to build the new Ontario Line.

Work is underway…On a bridge crossing over the future Bradford Bypass.  We’re building the new Highway 413… stretching across Halton, Peel and York regions.

In Windsor we’re widening and expanding Highway 3 from two to four lanes between Essex and Leamington and building a new interchange to connect Highway 401 to Lauzon Parkway.  We’ve purchased three new train sets as part of our plan to bring back the Northlander connecting Timmins and Cochrane with Toronto.

And we recently approved the terms of reference for the First Nations-led Environmental Assessment to finally build the all-season roads to the Ring of Fire.
Together, we have to ensure that Ontario is a place where our shared potential is limited only by the scale of our ambitions.

We have to ensure that Ontario is a place where we can do and build big things. We can’t talk about building without talking about homes. As everyone in this room knows We’re in the midst of a housing crisis.  I hear it everywhere I go. People are struggling. Struggling with affordability, with the rising costs of buying a home and with high rents.

This struggle is being felt most by young people and newcomers who are priced out of the dream of home ownership.  Even one of our own mayors, Mayor Salonen from Wilmot Township can’t afford to buy a home in the municipality she leads. That’s why it’s so important, that we work together to build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.

Failing to act would worsen the housing supply and affordability crisis.  Failing to act would hurt everyone in Ontario by driving up the cost of goods and services  and by hampering new job creation and investments.

Failing to act…

The gag was about the time he swallowed a bee.

The Premier continued with one of the better Chamber of Commerce boost business speeches read in some time.  He mentioned the

A Housing Supply Action Plan…
The Building Faster Fund.
Extending strong mayor powers to another 21 municipalities.
Urging the federal government to renew and expand the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

It wasn’t until the Premier got to saying “thank you again for inviting me here today” that we realized he didn’t use the word Greenbelt once in his address to the Mayors.

Only in Ontario

 

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Nate Erskine - Smith tells Burlington Liberals the race for the provincial leadership is between him and Bonnie Crombie

By Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Being part of the process that has candidates for leadership positions in a political party is fascinating.

The best I once took part in was when John Turner and another half dozen people were running to lead the federal Liberal Party. Pierre Elliott Trudueau won that contest and went on to be one of the most influential and at times divisive Primer Minters the country has ever had.

Nate Erskine – Smith was a happy man – facing a room of attentive Liberals.

Choosing who the next leader of the Provincial Liberals in Ontario will be is a lot quieter but none the less important.

The Burlington Liberals listened to Nate Erskine – Smith who told the audience that the race was between him and Bonnie Crombie who will be meeting with the Liberals on Monday evening at Tansley Woods.

What did Nate have to say to the audience?

Well – he is certainly fiscally conservative and believes that operating budgets have to be balanced. Capital budget don’t have to be, and if I understood Nate they shouldn’t be.

He wasn’t all that keen on a Universal Basic Income either.

He did respond to the tax and spend reputation Liberals have.

Nate was an active federal parliamentarian – wrote some of the legislation that governs the country and produced a number of policy papers.

We learned a lot about what he did while the Member in the House of Commons for Beaches East York.

Nate didn’t like being told how to vote with the Trudeau government but that is the way federal governments work in Canada. You get elected as a Member of a Political Party and you are required to support the party. It isn’t any different in Ontario – Nate wants to be the leader of the Liberal party and will expect those elected is as Liberals to stick to the party line.

Nate clearly wants to lead. He knew that his career opportunities federally were limited; and Queen’s Park means he can get home for dinner most nights.

Nate was an active parliamentarian – wrote some of the legislation that governs the country and produced a number of policy papers.

A decent audience – not that many young people.

His strong point was his consistently telling the audience that they would always know where he stands. You may not agree with him but you will know where he stands on an issue and why.

He spoke consistently about good faith relationships and doesn’t see very much of that in Ontario today.

He sees the problem Ontario faces with the current Ford government is this: they are not working for the people of the province – they are working for their friends. Nate call this corruption in plain sight.

He has a firm grip on the housing issue and talked about churches, municipalities and Metrolinx as organizations that have a lot of land that can be freed up for housing development. He made mention of an approach the United Church is taking. They have created a Housing Corporation and poured $10 million into it. Their plan is to merge churches that have small congregations and use the property they have to build affordable housing. Nate has seen this at work in his riding.

Nate Erskine – Smith: The province does not have a Climate Change Plan

While Nate doesn’t claim to have the answer to the affordable housing problem – he believes there is an answer and that the people of the province can work together to solve the problem.

He is certain the approach the current provincial government has decided to take is just plain wrong and takes offence at the way the Premier continually breaks his promises.

Well educated and well connected with the Bay Street crowd where he toiled for a number of years until he decided that he could serve society as a politician.

He sees the trouble facing Ontario with the current Ford government is a challenge that has to be met. And will tell you that the race is between him and current Mayor of Mississauga Bonnie Crombie. He has figured out how many seats the Liberals need to win and where the wins need to take place.

Nate with Lisa Mayeski , president of the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association

This is an intelligent man on a mission

He made one statement about Long Term Care – the province is building Long Term Care facilities in places no one wants to live in.

He said the province does not have a Climate Change Plan

Nate Erskine – Smith wants to empower community and is travelling across the province to meet and talk to as many people is as possible – if you find yourself in a room with him be prepared for a man who has a lot to say.

He also listens. If he is chosen to lead the party the hope is that he can grow it from the nine members it has to at least the Leader of the Opposition.

There is no clear sense yet is as to what the top Nate Erskine – Smith issue is going to be. He knows this – the affordability problem has to be resolved.

If he is elected leader by the Liberal Party before the end of the year he will probably have to bump Mary-Margaret McMahon, the current MPP for Beaches East York and run for that seat in 2026.

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Tip sheet on how the matter of those sort of legal land transfers is going to go down.

By Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

There is a publication with a 127 year history of giving people who like to spend time at the race track placing bets on the ponies. The Daily Racing Form provides horse racing tips, news, handicapping and analysis: trusted from Kentucky to Hong Kong.

See this opinion column as a local tip sheet on what is going on at Queen’s Park.

Here is the way that messy business of land transfers is going to go down. Large tracts of land were purchased by a few developers.

Shortly after the purchases closed the developers provided descriptions of the parcels of land to the Chief of Staff for the Minister of Housing. Ryan Amato, the Chief of Staff, referred to as the kid worked with Government Staff who were required to sign documents that prevented them from talking to anyone about the work they were doing.

Story is that site 9 had not been closed before it was placed on the list of properties to be taken out of the Greenbelt boundary.

The tracts of land were then taken out of the Greenbelt boundaries and could then be used to build housing on.

That had greedy developers in a position to rake in billions once the land they had purchased had houses on the land.

The Auditor General investigated and set out what took place

The Auditor names Minister of Housing Chief of Staff Ryan Amato as the person who handled all the paperwork.

Everybody thinks the kid should be fired along with his boss the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

Others think the kid should be fired and the Minister should do the decent thing and resign.

Doug Ford, the Premier doesn’t see it that way.

He takes the principled decision that the buck stops at his desk and he said no one loses their job; however he does ask the Provincial Integrity Commissioner to look into the ethical issues to see  if there are any and to report back to him. The Integrity Commissioner actually reports to the Legislature.

The Integrity Commissioner is hired by the province with a multi-year contract.

Amato who was out of the country on vacation when the Auditor General’s report was made public is reported to have lawyered up.

We now wait. Premier says his people are fine – they are doing their job which is everything possible to build the 1.5 million homes that are needed by 2031 (there isn’t a hope in hades that the target is going to be reached – but we have to wait until 2031 to be sure don’t we?

At some point the Integrity Commissioner issues a report and sets out multiple ethical breaches and suggests the kid be let go.

Premier with a huge sigh announces that the Integrity Commissioner is not part of the government, they are in place to advise the government and the advice is – let the kid go.

 

Doug is off the hook – he said keep the kid.  The Minister of Housing is safe and secure – he is just doing his job – getting much needed homes built.

The Leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles, is doing everything she can to keep the issue front and center but with the Legislature recessed until September the public isn’t going to hear very much.

Doug Ford did say that if the property does not have housing on it by 2031 he will return the land to the Greenbelt.

There are numerous groups looking for ways to force the government to do that now.

Is that doable?

If there is a will – there is a way.

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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Eris, a new Covid variant of interest is being watched carefully - no serious sign in Halton Region data

By Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

The Regional Health department updates its dashboard related to COVID19 information every Thursday at 4:00 pm.

There was a time when that dashboard was updated daily – the threat is much less today but there is still a threat.

The people who monitor infections and new cases are paying close attention to “Eris,” a variant of interest.

The date shown below is an update on what has been happening in Burlington and the rest of the Region.  Nothing alarming.  However, we now know that this virus is going to be with us for some time – a mild state of vigilance is require“Eris,” a variant of interest.

Children return to school soon.  Information is being sent to parents on what to prepare for – the Gazette will publish that information is as soon is as we can pull it all together.

The World Health Organization has classified the Covid strain EG.5, or “Eris,” a variant of interest, and says it currently believes it poses a similar level of global risk as existing variants.

Reformulated Covid vaccines are set to be available in the U.S. from late September which are expected to provide better protection against the variant.

 

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Nine hole disc golf course now operational at Kelso Conservation

By Staff

August 18th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Disc Golf enthusiasts and outdoor adventure seekers can give Conservation Halton’s new ‘Summer 9’ disc golf course a spin at Kelso Conservation Area (Kelso). The course was designed in partnership with Chainlink Disc Golf to provide an unforgettable gaming experience for both beginners and seasoned players alike.  

Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, but instead of using clubs to hit a ball into a hole, a disc is thrown towards a basket. The goal is to get the disc into the basket in the fewest tosses or ‘strokes’ possible. The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins. Players can easily keep score by downloading the UDisc App. 

It would be hard to find a nicer setting to get out for a walk – and test your disc throwing skills.

The course’s unique layout highlights the park’s diverse terrain. It incorporates elevation changes and a blend of long and short holes to accommodate players of various skill levels. Each hole is equipped with 2-tee placements and is supported by a 3-hole, 3-tee practice course to try putting, pitching, and driving.  

“Conservation Halton prides itself on connecting people with nature,” said Craig Machan, Director, Parks & Operations, Conservation Halton. “Our ‘Summer 9’ disc golf course at Kelso gives visitors another way to experience our parks and get active outdoors. Disc golf is a fun activity, and it’s suited to all ages and abilities. Plus, here at our course, players will get to enjoy a round with the incredible Niagara Escarpment as their backdrop. We’re excited about this addition and look forward to hosting visitors for a round soon!” 

Great idea for a group outing – no golf clubs to lug around.

Park visitors can enjoy Kelso’s disc golf course free of charge during regular park hours in spring, summer and fall. The course is also available to reserve for leagues, tournaments, corporate events, and school trips.  

Individual players and groups can rent a 3-disc set that includes one putter, one mid-range, and one driver. Players can also choose to purchase their own 3-disc starter set, single discs, and/or disc bags at Kelso’s Trailhead Sports Rental & Retail Store (Trailhead), that include local retailers like: Innova, Discmania, Latitude 64, and GripEq Bags.  

Grand Opening Event  

Conservation Halton will be celebrating the Grand Opening of the new disc golf course on Saturday, August 26th from 9 am to 5 pm at Kelso. Visitors are encouraged to test out the course or register to compete in Mixed Singles and Doubles, or Men’s and Women’s Doubles. Players can participate in exciting prize draws and contests like the Longest Drive, Closest to the Pin, and Record an Ace Competitions. New and developing players can join Chainlink Disc Golf at 11:30 am for a Learn 2 Play Clinic.  Food and refreshments will be available to purchase at West Lodge and Trailhead. More giveaway contests and discounts on retail will be offered August 17th to October 29th for visitors shopping at Trailhead. 

For more information about Kelso’s ‘Summer 9’ disc golf course, including the full course map, park hours, group reservations, and event details, visit www.conservationhalton.ca/activities/disc-golf/or contact Conservation Halton at discgolf@hrca.on.ca

 

Conservation Halton is the community-based environmental agency that protects, restores, and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land-use planners, engineers, foresters, and educators, along with a network of volunteers, who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science-based programs and services. 

 

 

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The people who keep the lights on at city hall take part in the AMO conference

By Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They will head for London Ontario to take part in the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference taking place from the 20th to the 23rd.

Council members from 422 of the 444 municipal councils in Ontario  are expected to show up.

City Manager Tim Commisso.

The Mayor, along with Councillors Sharman, Galbraith and Bentivegna will be attending along with City Manager Tim Commisso.  The Regional government pays for the councillors to attend AMO.

Brian Rosborough, Executive Director of AMO

Brian Rosborough, Executive Director of AMO, explains that people think of AMO as first and foremost an advocacy organization; advancing the interests of municipal council member; and for advancing the idea of good public policy where the sector is speaking with one voice.

This year, after the 2022 municipal elections, 42% of all Councillors are new to municipal council.

Burlington was not amongst that portion of the membership – every member of the current council was re-elected in 2022.

A feature of the AMO program has the entire provincial cabinet up on the stage for a question period in which AMO members are allowed to ask any questions they want. It’s an extraordinary moment of accountability for the province.  

There are also delegation meetings; a local council can request a meeting with a cabinet minister, where they get to talk about local issues and priorities.

Elementary students get a look at what city’s use to keep their city operational.

Typically there are four or five hundred of those meetings that take place over the course of four days. It really is an opportunity for local councils to sit down with a cabinet minister and talk about the things that are really important to that municipality.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

There is little doubt that Burlington has a lot of questions to ask – but there was nothing in the way of a media release setting out what the city wanted more information on – don’t expect the Mayor to tell you how things went with the Premier when he outed her on Burlington’s rate of new residential construction.  Burlington was at the bottom of that list.

Burlington doesn’t include that kind of information as part of their transparency and accountability mandate.

“I can’t think of a venue where, like the entire government essentially shows up to answer questions outside of question period” said Brian Rosborough

“It’s a moderated discussion, but it is an opportunity for a pretty frank exchange.” Sometimes, he added, “we get a little announcement coming out of the Premier  or a  minister says something that that they want people to be aware of and we’re always eager for those.

Leader of the Opposition: Marit Stiles Photo courtesy NDP

Speeches are delivered from the official opposition the NDP, from the Liberal Party and from the Green Party. Each party has an opportunity  to clearly articulate their commitments to the municipal sector to recognize that they understand the importance in the civil sector, and to give us a sense of what’s happening not just with the government, but with the opposition parties

Rosborough said that while there isn’t a general theme for this year’s conference there is an informal theme that we really want to explore and that is around optimism.

This government has three more years in its mandate and our view is that there’s a great deal we can accomplish together over the next three years.

We demonstrated a remarkable success in working together around COVID19; all three orders of government, provincial, federal and municipal governments with the municipal level doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

The big issue at the moment is around housing supply and affordable housing. It’s a top priority for the province, a top priority for the federal government and a top priority for municipal governments.

I think people are absolutely seized with the need to make some progress and municipalities are certainly eager to be part of that success.

Policy gets thrashed out at the plenary sessions.  In addition there are about 15 workshops that occur throughout the course of the program, Outgoing Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell is going to address the delegates.

Catherine McKenna will speak on climate change, social, cultural and environmental and economic impact.

Former federal Cabinet Minister, the Honorable Catherine McKenna, will speak on surrounding climate change social, cultural and environmental and economic impact. She is going to be one of three speakers for the Women’s Leadership Forum.

AMO has a partnership with the Council of Ontario Universities with three professors:  from Wilfrid Laurier University, the  Toronto based Metropolitan University and from McMaster talking about innovation related to housing.

Premier Doug Ford with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark

The municipal level of government delivers most of the day to day services provided by government – the level of efficiency they achieve makes a big difference in the quality of life you live.  Fixing the potholes, waste removal and the recreation service delivered are what keeps people content.

The elephant in the room didn’t get a word of mention from AMO – but the scathing report from the provincial Auditor General will be the hottest topic.  As the delegates listen to the Minister of Municipal Affairs most will wonder how much longer he is going to have his job.

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There is real treasure for you in the downtown core

By Staff

August 16th,2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This looks like fun – credit to the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) for this one.

On August 23rd, they will be celebrating the end of the summer Movies by the Lake experience – and to celebrate, they want to make that last movie night count! So we’re celebrating with a good old-fashioned treasure hunt.

Find the card.

Our giant Burlington Downtown Gift Card is hiding in one of our downtown businesses, and we need you to find it! Starting today (August 17th), follow our Instagram stories for clues on where to find the “long lost treasure”.

If you’ve figured it out, head on down to your business pick and, if you’re correct, collect one of 5 golden tickets*.

Bring your ticket to Spencer Smith Park on Wednesday, August 23rd, for one of 5 chances to win a prize pack live at the park!

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All we're going to have is people cranking out press releases - no longer an observing filter. It'll simply go from the PR people directly to the public, and at some point  taken as gospel.

By Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Earlier in the week Bill Kelly, a broadcaster who spent 17 years at CHML covering local issues and interviewing the people who ran things at city hall in Hamilton and Burlington.

The occasion was Kelly’s last broadcast and he invited John Best, publisher of the Bay Observer to talk about the problems media is having informing the public.

We are publishing that conversation and adding some comment on what these two long toothed broadcasters had to say and how it impacts what is currently taking place in Burlington.

Bill Kelly did a program with CHML for 17 years – signed off Monday morning.

Kelly: I wanted John to be part of this last program to comment on media.

Best:My pleasure, Bill. I sort of feel like you and I are the two old guys up in the balcony on set saying: “ Yeah, let’s give it one more shot.

Kelly: You wrote in the piece you published recently about the elephant in the room and the seeming demise of journalism in this country.We’re being swallowed up by major corporations, who seem to think that subtraction is the best way to grow. And it’s not just to do with the situation with my show. But we’ve seen it happen too many times to too many top notch journalists in various forms, whether it’s print journalism, broadcast journalism, whatever the case might be, and we as a country and we as a society are the worst for it.

Best:  One of the points I wanted to make is I think the big national news networks, the New York Times, CBC, not sure about CTV News, with some of the cuts they’ve made; that the national media, news media will probably survive in some form.

I’m really concerned about what’s happening with local news, with your show gone. For many, many years it was a local watering hole. It was the forum of our community and and I just worry generally about local news that we’re already seeing news deserts.

I look at Burlington as a city that really does not have the kind of coverage that a city of nearly 200,000 should have.

Local news actually probably works a little better in the smaller communities where they don’t have any television or radio. And in those cases, at least a local weekly newspaper can survive.

But if we don’t have local news Bill, what we’re going to have is all these people in City halls cranking out press releases that we all get by by the dozens: there will no longer be any kind of an observing filter. It’ll simply go from the PR people directly to the public, and at some point it will be taken as gospel.

And that’s really dangerous. That’s almost Orwellian to guys like me that have worked around the media for most of our adult lives. So it’s a concern and the answers are not readily at hand. I don’t think government funding is necessarily the answer either. So there’s some challenges here for sure.

Kelly:  You related to a story when you and I talked a couple of days ago about your time in Brantford. You’ve been the news director at CHCH and a number of stations You had an allstar  news staff with Tom Cherrington, Dick Beddoes. and Dan McKaren – Connie Smith was part of the gang.  That was when they were reporters. I mean, they were people that were employed to go out and get the story to talk to the newsmakers to report on this.

But when newsrooms are decimated as they have been, especially as you say in some small markets with local news, the people that are left, and there’s not that many of them, have no choice but to simply, you know, reprint the press releases that the politicians or others are putting out. The few reporters that are left  don’t have  time to question – basically all they’re doing is repeating the spin that these people are putting on it. And that’s not good for the public. That’s not good for us to be informed and know what’s going on. There’s a valuable piece of that that’s starting to erode right now and I think we all need to be concerned about the implications of that.

John Best was news Director at CHCH; he is now publisher of the Bay Observer – published as an online newspaper

Best:  So what’s left are extreme bloggers, and then the odd person like my myself, trying to sort of do the journalism  I was trained to do many years ago.  I publish the Bay Observer and try to keep it reasonably up and down. You know, in terms of balance and you know, I look around the city and the quality of the retired journalists in this community right now you could build an all-star team around them, but after they move on there isn’t much to work with. 

We have Mohawk College,  God bless them. They turned out some fantastic people, including yourself and Connie Smith. They’re dropping their journalism program because there’s no industry for them to feed graduates into.  So at some point, you know when the old crew finally really do give it up, I’m just not sure what’s left in terms of people that can ask questions work their contacts.

Younger people now don’t even pick up the phone. So you know, and that’s one of the tools of journalism. You have to actually speak to people to ask them questions and get answers and you can’t do it all by email, and text. It’s too impersonal and you don’t get to the truth. If you can’t look people in the eye when you’re asking them questions.

Kelly: And like I’m not oblivious to the challenges facing you know, media and, and these corporations, the head offices, guys and all that sort of stuff. I get that. And I get the fact that they’ve got their hand out and I get the fact that they’re lobbying the federal government particularly, you know, to give us a help give us financial aid, which is one of the reasons for the legislation, which was so controversial these days. But what I don’t hear from any of them is, is the acknowledgement that hey, maybe we’re part of the problem, too.

Maybe we we’ve done enough to corrupt this business already. Maybe subtracting and basically disarming journalists in the fashion that they have over the last not just couple of years but really the last 10 or 20 years has put them into a predicament right now where they are at and you know, they’ve been part of the problem that for the longest time right now because they think more is going to be more beneficial that concerned about the bottom line. So we’re gonna make cuts whether it’s you know, Lisa LaFlame and CTV as you were just talking, Dan McLaren and Connie from CHCH some years ago, and on and on, it goes.

Then people stop listening, or they stop reading and all of a sudden revenues go down. They don’t seem to understand that  Joe and Joanne public,are the connection with the media in this country; they are the ears and eyes the authors, the writers, the journalists, the newscasters, the news, anchors do their work for – and if you’re going to blow them out of the equation, you’ve lost the public, they’re gonna go someplace else, and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve gone to social media.

Best:  Well, they have and of course, I mean, social media has is the main reason that we’re having this discussion right now. They have simply siphoned off you know, the old paradigm was people would read newspapers and tune into radio and television to get the news. The advertisers knew that that’s where the value was. They knew there was going to be an audience there and it was going to be a reasonably intelligent audience. And so they wanted to put their commercials next to that product.

But with social media now overwhelming the system the vast majority of that money has gone to them. And we just haven’t figured out a way yet. of, you know, making that whole.  I’m not sure this piece of legislation in Ottawa is going to solve the problem. But, you know, I never thought in my time that I would actually see see local news under threat. Then journalism essentially is under threat. And I don’t think I thought the practice of journalism would be this fragile in my time, but there it is. That’s kind of a gloomy thing to say, but I don’t think we can ignore the fact that the news business is in trouble.

Kelly: And I know that some people are going to listen to this conversation because I get this feedback all the time. And all they are you taking shots at you know, the social media, people and journalists. There’s some fine people that make contributions on social media, with their blogs or any other number of vehicles. But there’s some that are not credible and not reliable. And it’s very difficult to tell one from another because basically, there are no guardrails with social media and that can be dangerous in and of itself, too.

And you’re right. I don’t want to be a downer with this whole thing  but I’m worried about the future because, you know, information is key, information is power and in the absence of that information, anybody with can fill that void with whatever they want. And there’s always going to be an element of the population that is simply going to say, well, I saw it in print, so it must be true. And that can lead us down a very dangerous road.

Best:  Yeah, we’ve kind of lost the shared sense of rules. There were, you know, some fairly basic rules about how news was presented and, you know, some people would paint outside the dots here and there, but generally speaking, there was general agreement on on what should be published and what should not be published and how to do it. That’s, that’s changed. I certainly as long as I’m doing what I’m doing, I’m going to try to continue to work with what worked for me so but it’s going to be tougher for the consumer to sort out who’s who’s got the good stuff and who’s misleading the public and creating more propaganda in the news.

Kelly:  Well, I thank you for your contributions, as I say you’ve had a long and admirable career in journalism as well. And you’re continuing that traditional debate with the Bay Observer.  It’s important that these communities are served with honest reporting, whether it be good news, bad news, or whatever the case might be. It’s key and absolutely true that that we’ve got to maintain that local contents and it’s not just talking about the bake sale that’s going on at the church around the corner. It’s talking about what goes on at city hall with all of these communities and, you know, the journalists, the All Stars that we all refer to were the ones that had that strength and that ability to talk about those issues and to ask the questions; to drill down and make sure that the public is properly informed. You continue to do that. I will too, in some way, shape or form but not on CHML apparently after today, but that’s a decision somebody else has made and we’ll have to abide by that. 

This is not the end of our conversations either. We’ll just pick it up another time in another place.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the outpouring of community support on social media. People really appreciate what you’ve done and every bit of praise that I’ve seen online is well deserved and I know you are not going to be silenced. Maybe you and I will actually figure something out at some point.

Bill Kelly and John Best were part of the way news was done that we will live to regret losing. The City of Burlington has a staff of three communications advisers who, as Best describes it, crank our the story the City wants the public to read.  If we attempt to be in touch with a city staffer we get shunted along to the advisers who take our questions and come back with an answer which is frequently incomplete.  There is no interview.

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City seeking feedback on projects and initiatives with annual ‘Food for Feedback’ Event

By Staff

August 16th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington is hosting it’s third annual Food for Feedback event on Saturday, September16 between noon and 4 p.m. at Central Park (2299 New St.).

Almost every city department and every member of Council will have a table. Was there an opportunity for advocacy groups to set up a table and get out their story?

Residents can come to enjoy a free meal in exchange for sharing their thoughts on City projects. City staff, Mayor Meed Ward and members of Council will be there to listen to resident feedback.

The free drop-in event features more than 26 booths and four food trucks. There is a special area called the ‘Kidz Zone’ sponsored by Canadian Tire where children can have fun while family members provide feedback on City projects.

Feedback collected at the event will help the City continue to improve services and initiatives.

Date and Location
Residents are welcome to attend Food for Feedback on:
Saturday, Sept. 16, between noon and 4 p.m. at Central Park, 2299 New St.

If it rains, the event will move to the Burlington Senior’s Centre.

This year, the City will be seeking feedback and sharing information on topics including:

Burlington Transit
Climate resiliency
Customer experience with the City
Civic Square renewal
Future use of former Robert Bateman High School
Transportation options
Recreation
Parks
Official Plan revisions

As part of the event, the City will also be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the Community Engagement Charter. The Charter is a tool used by residents, City staff and Members of Council. It guides and promotes active and meaningful resident engagement. Residents will also have an opportunity to provide feedback and make recommendations on how to refresh the charter at the event.

Michelle Dwyer setting up for a previous Food for Feedback event.

Michelle Dwyer, Manager of Engagement and Volunteers “wants everyone to have a voice in shaping our community. We’re excited to host Food for Feedback for the third time and bring together hundreds of community members to talk about how we can make our programs, services, and initiatives even better. Let’s have fun and make a difference in our city.”

Related news story:

Deciding when and where these Food for Feedback events were to take place took hours – the individual council member comments were memorable.

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Who cares? City Hall has chosen to redirect email from at least two citizens - Council members have gone mute.

By Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We published two articles on people who have and are having problems communicating with City Hall and members of Council.

Ann Marsden and Tom Muir have been cut off; their email is diverted to the off of the City Clerk where decisions are made on what is “actionable”.

Who cares?

The software we have that allows us to see which stories are being read – the story with the highest readership is at the top of the list. As we work our way through a day we can see what is being read.

Ann Marsden delegating at City Hall

Tom Muir

On both of the days that the Muir and Marsden stories were published each was at the top of the list from about 10:00 am and remained there through to the end of the day.

Their story was being read – what we were not seeing was very much in the way of comment from readers.

There was all kinds of comment on the “garden” story.

The data tells us that people are aware of what has been done to Muir and Marsden but the readers have chosen not to comment

As one reader put it: “We have heard nothing from no-one!!!!”

That is very telling.

Some might see Muir and Marsden as a couple of noisy cranks who have nothing better to do with their time.  If the City administration can get away with doing this to them – they will in time get away with doing the same thing to you.  And the people you elected are not going to stand up for you.

Related news articles:

The Ann Marsden story

The Tom Muir story

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Ford just might get away with the land swaps - details on just how it went down

By Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s an issue that impacts all of us – on two levels.

The first – the way the provincial government treats the people who voted for them.

Second – how the provincial government manipulated issues and some of the senior people on the political side and the staffing side.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Housing Steve Clark trying to talk their way out of the responsibility for lands that were taken out of the Greenbelt Boundary.

During the media event in Streetsville where the Premier and the Minister of Housing were handing out provincial money to a housing development that was oriented to people who had drug and coping problems one of the reporters asked the Premier why they were throwing Ryan Amato under the bus.

In the world of journalism you don’t too many opportunities to ask questions like that; once in a career if you are lucky.

I think Minister of Housing Steve Clark gulped.

If Ryan Amato was watching the media event – not sure if he was attending, didn’t see him in the small group, but he must have shuddered when he heard the question.

The Premier has sent the issue of Amato’s behaviour along to the Integrity Commissioner letting him hold the axe that will be used to dispose of Ryan Amato.  The Integrity Commissioner said “it is reviewing a request from Premier Doug Ford’s office to investigate a senior aide about his role in selecting which lands in the protected Greenbelt would be approved for housing development.”

Recall that Amato worked very closely with a number of developers who were giving him documents that suggested which properties could be taken out of the Greenbelt Boundary and made available for development to solve the hosing crisis.

Nate Erskine Smith, one of five people running for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party who is currently a federal politician sitting in the House of Commons where he represent a Toronto constituency – Beaches—East York said:” now I’ve been in politics long enough to know that there is no chance, there is no chance that a chief of staff takes all of these significant steps without informing the minister or the Premier’s office.

Well just what were those “significant steps”

Nate puts it this way:
The Auditor General found that the developers received preferential treatment, incredibly of the 15 sites approved for removal 14 were brought into the project by the housing Minister’s Chief of Staff and it doesn’t stop there.

92% of the acreage ultimately removed were from five land sites passed to the housing Minister’s Chief of Staff from two developers, including, by the way have a package handed to him on September 14 at a dinner function.

What has to be interesting is that the names of the developers who were passing information along to Amato are not yet named.

We do know now that most of the land is in  Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy  constituency Pickering—Uxbridge

On September 14, 2022 at the  Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD dinner, two prominent developers provide packages to the chief of staff including site nine. The next day on September 15, the sale of site nine is completed (it hadn’t even been completed when they handed the package over). The following day, September 16. The Chief of Staff communicates three priority sites for removal from the Greenbelt, including site nine.

 

A Toronto Star columnist puts it this way:
“The housing minister’s chief of staff, Ryan Amato was directing the process for choosing which land would be opened up.”

The senior civil service staff involved were under the impression that Amato was doing what the Minister wanted so they didn’t speak up. Also because of the tight three week timeline, and the confidentiality agreements civil servants were obligated to sign, the sites could not be fully examined by experts, nor could many alternative sites be suggested, the auditor found.

Again from the Star columnist:
“Of the 15 parcels of land that were being considered,14 were proposed by Amato, not non-partisan provincial staff tasked with the work. Of the 14,, 12 were brought to Amato by the developers themselves. During the selection process, Amato changed the rules so that these properties would be more likely to qualify.”

NDP leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk even uncovered instances where portions of emails from developers to political staff were copied and pasted and forwarded to deputy ministers for inclusion in legislation. The civil servants involved did not know the text they were writing into law had been drafted by those who the law would affect.

Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark say, essentially, that they didn’t realize that’s how it went down. “The process should have been better,” Ford said.

Toronto Star columnist Reg Cohn put it this way: “The politician who first came to power alleging corruption by a previous Liberal government now presides over a corrupted political process of his own making, on his own watch.”

All this ended up with the Auditor General when NDP leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles asked the Auditor to investigate. Interestingly Stiles gets little mention for that initial step she took asking the Auditor General to investigate.

Related new story:

Follow the money.

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Police investigators crack their cases when they follow the money

By Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

There is something about all that property that was taken out of the Greenbelt boundaries and open to housing development that I don’t understand.

The figure of $8.3 billion is being used to express the increase in the value of the land that developers bought on which they are expected to build residential housing.

 

The developers are going to make a tonne of money once the housing is built and sold.

It is said that the developers are “friends” of the Premier.

The Minister of Housing, who said he has the confidence of the Premier and doesn’t appear to be all that uncomfortable with what is Chief of Staff did for the developers.

Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

So I ask myself?  Why would the Premier sign off on this in a Cabinet meeting?

Why would a Minister of Housing sign off on this after he presented a case in a Cabinet meeting?

And why would a Chief of Staff meet with these developers and accept packages of information that set out which properties they developers would like to have taken out of the Greenbelt Boundary?.

Chief of Staff to the Minister of Housing Ryan Amato

What was in it for the Premier, the Minister of Housing and his Chief of Staff?

Nothing?

Really?

I have no evidence to turn to that suggests there were payoffs.

The Provincial Police have said they are investigating.

In Ontario the Provincial Police, police at any level for that matter, tend not to put their noses into anything the politicians.

Looks like a duck

You know that phrase: If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck – it’s a duck.

We may not have much in the way of certainty as to just what to call this – but it certainly stinks.

Is there any hope of changing the decision – and putting the land back within the Greenbelt Boundary.

In the stock market business if the regulators find that there was something crooked taking place they can and order that the transaction be unwound.

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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