Downtown core still looking for a solution; economic ninjas leading the charge this time.

By Pepper Parr

Sooner or later we will figure it out.  The next stab at finding an answer to that always perplexing question: What do we do with the downtown core?  is being led by those able financial ninja’s at the Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

They have been asked to stick handle a study with two key objectives: quantify the market potential and constraints for the development of office space and while they are at it quantify the unique economic factors affecting retail operations in our downtown core relative to other areas of the city.

Tough part of town to do retail in? Consultants will tell the city just what it costs to do business in the downtown core and what it costs elsewhere in the city - and why.

Retailers claim it costs more to run a business downtown.  Robert Lyons, a Burlington real estate professional produced some data that suggested property assessments in the downtown core were tough for retailers to cope with. There was a lot of anecdotal stuff floating around but the people making the decisions wanted hard data.

The BEDC has been given up to $15,000 to play with and get this done, in what can at best be seen as a real tight schedule.  Proposals in by February 28th; contract awarded March 5th then meet with BEDC staff to go over what’s going to get done three days later.  Then just over a month after the Preliminary draft of the report is due and discussed at an hour and a half meeting the same day.  Final report is due 12 days later.

May 10th the writers of the report present and defend the thing at a Council Workshop.

Much of the forward thinking being done in Burlington it tied to the Strategic Plan that set out three Strategic Directions for the city.

Vibrant Neighbourhoods – and while downtown is described as everyone’s neighbourhood – it isn’t very vibrant.  However, it wasn’t all that long ago when there were dozens of stores with newspapers covering the plate glass and a for rent sign in the window.

Prosperity- bring hundreds of those high tech, high paying jobs to the city.  Everyone knows that the city is not going to see a manufacturing plant with 500 new jobs on the horizon in this lifetime.  Intellectual property, bio-tech, high value added are the buzz words for the economic development crowd.  But to have any of this one needs decent office space – and there  isn’t any of that in the downtown core – yet.

The third Strategic Direction was Excellence in Government which meant delivering services to the community at an acceptable cost and listening to the people who live in the city.  The budget will probably come in at something very close to 2% – the draft version asks for 3.4% but look for some whittling down of that number.

Mayor Goldring has focused on economic development more than anything else (he has spent a lot of time and energy improving the working relationships between his Council members  – but that’s another story) so far in his mandate.  He was insistent that there be a solid, thoroughly thought through Strategic Plan and he made sure the time and the resources were put into the Task.  City Council spent eleven half day sessions producing that document. The Mayor did the thinking behind the innovateBurlington program and has for the past six months being setting things up for a major look at what is wrong with the downtown core.

In May, 2011 Council asked city staff to update Council on the Status of the Core Commitment along with a work plan,  time frames and a budget for a strategy designed to engage the community.  Key to this was an implementation for delivering the vision, whatever it turned out to be.

Staff produced their report in August of 2011 – and it didn’t hit enough nails on the head to get the job done.  While the Core Commitment had been ongoing for a number of years, they realized now that they really didn’t have enough data.  The anecdotal stuff they did have was getting them nowhere.

The Mayor’s office could see where this was going so Council directed  that a Task Group be formed to “identify challenges, opportunities, roles and responsibilities for creating a vibrant downtown”.

The Core Commitment people had already produced language that described the downtown core as a neighbourhood that belonged to everyone – and while true from a philosophical point of view – its tough to really believe that the folks in Alton and The Orchard or Aldershot for that matter,  see the downtown core as “their” neighbourhood.  These groups of people find what they need in their immediate community or head for the malls.

The Task Group got put together and did what any group does – (don’t think firemen do this)  – determined their mandate, wrote it down and then met and decided that a SWOT (Strengths,Weaknesses,Opportunities,Threats) analysis was needed and that recommendations delivered had to be based on fact – but there weren’t all that many facts in front of them – so they wanted some targeted research to advance the understanding of systemic  issues affecting the health of the downtown core.

That called for three research projects: Benchmarking, Market/Customer Analysis and the Cost of Doing business Downtown.  The cost study is what the city wants to get done pronto.

The Benchmarking is being done by an intern who will compare what has been done in the Burlington downtown with what has been done in other downtown locations of a similar size and similar socio-economics.

The Market/Customer analysis will be the object of a Request for Proposal to be issued at a later date.

So – what have we got?

A Core Commitment group that kind of stalled.  To be fair the Core Commitment is a vision document and a strategy to achieve the vision but they have stumbled a bit

A Task Group that hopes it can do a better job.  And they are going to do their best to ensure that they have valid data to work from.

And three research proposals.

All this to inform and direct a Workshop that is going to take place on what can we do to leverage those two parking lots in the downtown core, spitting distance from city hall.

Is the Brant and James intersection the location for some Class A office space or will it go up in a parking lot a block away?

Councillor Jack Dennison has had dreams about what can be done with those properties.  In 2006 the city thought they had a winner when six proposals came in response to a proposal to develop 100,000 to 150,000 sqft of Class A office space with a parking garage for 500 vehicles.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington's downtown core - but McMaster stiffed the city when a nicer deal came along.

Before that idea got very far McMaster came along with their idea of putting one of their schools in the downtown core and the city retracted the RFP they had put out.  But McMaster stiffed the city when a better offer came along. A BEDC document explains that unfortunate experience thusly: “Unfortunately, new opportunities later in the process presented themselves to McMaster and the downtown campus project was abandoned by McMaster.”  Care to know who owned the land that the university is now located on?

Somewhere in all this there is some progress.

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Armed robbery on Brant – thieves demand drugs at Medexpress and flee in broad daylight.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  There was an armed robbery at a pharmacy on Brant just before noon on Friday. Two armed suspects entered the Medexpress Pharmacy located at 809 Brant St., Burlington.

One suspect pointed a hand gun at the clerk and demanded prescription drugs – the clerk complied.  The suspects fled the store, last seen running eastbound on Prospect St..

Suspect :  Description – male, black, early 40’s, over 6ft tall, medium build. Clothing – all black clothing, wearing ski or motorcycle goggles.

Suspect 2:  Description – male, black late 30’s, over 6ft tall, medium build.  Clothing – black coat, grey scarf over face, light coloured pants.

Neither of the victims was injured.

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Ward 4 residents tell Dennison they are with him on his tax cut plans – all 14 of them. Popcorn was served.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  Burlington has a practice of taking its budget proposals out into the community to both explain the document and get feedback from the community.  The city holds information sessions at different locations.  There were about 30 people at one of the city sessions.

Councillor Dennison explaining the budget to a constituent at his Ward meeting.

Jack Dennison, Ward 4 Councillor held  a session and got a turnout of 14 people. It is reported that Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman got a turnout of 5 people and John Taylor got a zero turn out.  We were not able to get a response from Councillors Lancaster or Craven. Of the six Council members Taylor has the most loyal following, spends the least on getting elected knows as much as anyone about the budget numbers.

Meed Ward has a dedicated Ward Advisory Committee she will have briefed fully. She gave them the workbooks handed out at the public meetings to take home and fill out.  She adds: “I encouraged residents to attend the open budget meeting held in Ward 2 at the BAC.”

Dennison’s ward event was held at his office on Cumberland.  I’ve never quite understood why these aren’t held at a more neutral location.  I don’t think a constituent should have to go to the council members commercial office for a meeting.  What if you were an unhappy customer at the Cedar Springs Sports and Racquet Club?  The setting was nice enough and the gas fireplace in the Heritage Room made it pleasant – but methinks there’s something wrong with using a commercial location.  Dennison however has never stayed all that close to the rules and the proprietaries of things.

For the most part Jack Dennison knew his numbers and his penchant for repairing the roads came through loud and clear.  The city does have a problem digging out the money it needs to keep the roads in an acceptable state of repair and as Dennison continually tells people – “if we don’t do the repairs now we will have to do them later and it will cost us more”.  He focuses on the “shave and pave” approach – a way to manage the maintenance of roads that is cost effective.  Burlington’s problem is that the city is so far behind – some $17 million a year behind – and getting caught up means taking money from something else.  Jack took his audience through his solutions.

The federal gas tax, the funds municipalities get from the federal government share of gasoline taxes – Dennison wants to change the way this is split.  Currently 70% goes to roads and 30% to transit.  Dennison wants that shifted to an 80/20 split which will move $500,000 into roads.  Don’t expect the transit advocates to buy this one, especially with a major transit revue about to take place.

Take money out of the Land acquisition fund. Dennison sees $400,000 coming from that source.

Jack Dennison speaking to "his people"

Dennison wants to see $1 million scrounged out of the different departments and applied to the road repair deficit.  His task now is to convince his fellow Council members.

His audience, mostly seniors or very close to being a senior, were certainly aware of the issues and while there were differences of opinion this crowd knew what they wanted.  The city’s plans for an “egov” service would not be in the budget for this crowd –  $600,000 plus saved there in this budget.  Dennison wanted the $2.3 million that is scheduled to cost spread out over five years but he explained that $600,000 has to go in during the first year.  This is one project that has a better than even chance of getting pushed back a year.

Dennison thinks less money should be put into the Land Reserve Fund but he was OK with the 2% increase that would be given to local boards: The Art Centre, Tourism and the Performing Arts Centre.  He was even comfortable with the $500,000 losses the Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre rack up each year.

Ward 4 residents at community meeting working through their differences.

Dennison is not a big fan of the arts – don’t get him going on the “orchids” on Upper Middle Road and if you come up with a cheap way to get rid of the Joseph Brant Museum – Jack wants to hear from you.

Council instructed staff to come up with a tax increase of between 2% and 3.5% – they came back with a suggested 3.4% increase.  Dennison wants that walked back to less than 2% and he set out how he would do it.

One constituents wanted to know why the city was hiring firemen at $107,000. a year; another wondered why the city is re-developing the hospital and also why the words Phase 1 was on the sign – Is there a phase 2, he wanted to know.  Another felt the new hospital in Oakville could serve Burlington’s needs very well – they have all kinds of room to grow but Burlington has very little if any room to grow and the property is prime for residential development. “Turn the existing hospital into a long term care facility”  was his recommendation.”

These comments all make their way to the Council chamber where you can bet the mortgage payment that Jack Dennison will make mention of them.  Council members look to their community for  input and comment.  One council member is fond of the phrase “the word on the street is” but there is no sense of how many people are talking to her.

Dennison has always had a thing for the two parking lots in the downtown core – the lot off Brant and the lot next to the bus terminal.  He sees selling that land and using the money to build a parking lot as a big benefit for the city and has been promoting the idea of curtailing the length of John Street and getting some class A office space into that part of town.  Dennison has been pushing this one for more than ten years.

It may have been Councillor Dennison's meeting but the Mayor worked the room.

Mayor Goldring popped into the room for part of the meeting and would join the conversation to clarify or make an important point.  An issue that came up a number of times was the salaries, benefits and pensions paid to civil servants at city hall.  Tough to talk about how much you’re paying the people that run the city but Goldring is pretty consistent in his comments.  He points out that municipalities just can’t afford what they are currently required to put up.

OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, has a “defined benefits” program which sets out what an employee is going to get paid come pension time.  If the investment fund, which is made up of employer and employee contributions, doesn’t produce enough income to meet the pension obligations, OMERS goes to the municipalities to pony up the difference which for Burlington is going to be $600,000 for 2012 $600,000 for 2013 and $1.8 million for 2014.  Ouch!

The investment program OMERS runs, requires an annual return of 7% if they are going to meet their payout schedule – do you know anyone getting that kind of a return, regularly?   When the investment portfolio doesn’t deliver that level of return – OMERS turns to the municipalities and requires them to top up – for Burlington that has means, Mayor Goldring points out that this just isn’t financially sustainable nor does he see it as equitable.  But, as he points out “there isn’t much an individual Mayor can do”.  However, there is strength in numbers and Goldring is meeting with an association of other mayors to discuss what some of their options are.  Goldring did explained  to the audience that the rules that govern the OMERS plan are up for review in 2013 – bet on the municipalities concern being raised to a howl.

The 2008 recession is still dragging down the economy of many small municipalities.  Taxpayers are unhappy with a situation where their taxes support a retirement program that is much, much better than the retirement programs most people have. Goldring expects to play a leading role in the effort to bring about changes.  It’s financially complex but Goldring’s financial planning background will serve him well.

The low ridership on the transit service took the usual hit – “I often see just one person on the bus” is a standard comment which Mayor Goldring corrected when he explain that in the Quality of Service survey the city had done 25% of the population uses the bus service; not every day but the service is used.  There is a major transit study in hand with three public information session planned for the next few weeks.

The Pier – hardly a mention.  One could almost hear the sigh of relief from Goldring on that one.

It was a friendly evening but there was an interesting point raised by Dennison: five to six years ago the attendance was closer to 45 people.  Why the drop off?

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Budding Picasso’s have had their careers stalled: police call it graffiti and that’s a no, no; pre-charge diversion for these lads.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 17, 2012  Police have identified a trio of Burlington youths as responsible for a number of graffiti  ‘tagging’ incidents over the past month.

Beginning in the month of January, The Orchard and Millcroft communities experienced an increase in incidents of graffiti. The graffiti, in the form of spray painted ‘tags’, were popping up on park benches, Canada Post boxes, as well as cable and hydro boxes.  The majority of the ‘tags’ were one word in nature.

It isn’t public art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kids with too much free time on their hands and parents not fully aware of what their children are doing.

 

 

In a planned response to the increased incidents of graffiti, both uniformed and plain clothed officers were utilized to patrol affected areas. This initiative included a collaborative effort with residents, school officials and students who alerted police to tagging locations, provided timelines and potential suspect information.

This resulted in the identification of three Burlington youths ages 16 and 17 years who were responsible for the vast majority of the recent tagging.  The youth, whose identities are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are all entering a pre-charge diversion program operated by the Burlington Youth Bureau.

Such acts of vandalism have significant costs associated to them and police are asking parents to be mindful of youths in possession of tagging tools such as spray paint cans, graffiti art and wide-tipped markers.

Anyone with information regarding those responsible for such acts of vandalism are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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If done properly it could be made into a fun event and one that could save their lives. Plan on this one.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  The Burlington Fire Department  has an idea for your family on Family Day.  Not quite the same as goofing around and doing nothing.

The fire department is asking families to make a home fire escape plan and practice it as part of their Family Day activities on Monday, Feb. 20.

This little girl got out of the house - the tragedies are when people don't make it out during a fire. Plan an escape on Family Day

“Everyone is responsible to ensure they know what to do if a fire occurs in their home,” said Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill. “If there is a fire in your home, it’s important to be alerted by working smoke alarms so you can quickly execute your family’s escape plan.”

Simple steps for home fire escape planning include:

Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. It’s the law. For the best protection, install smoke alarms in every bedroom.

Develop a home fire escape plan; discuss it with the entire family and practise the escape plan.

Check that all exits are unobstructed and easy to use.

Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance.

Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.

If caught in a smoke-filled area, get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit.

You can too escape safely from fires that rage like this.

Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or neighbour’s home.

Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.

Doesn’t sound very cool does it, common sense seldom is “cool” to the younger people.  But we’re not talking to the younger set; we are talking to parents and as you take the GO or drive to work on Tuesday you might think about the important thing you did for your children – and it could be made into a fun event.

You may have only seconds to safely escape your home. Practice your home fire escape plan and know where to meet outside the home to save your life and the lives of loved ones.

 

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Renowned world class author to speak at Burlington Library; Different Drummer co-sponsors the event.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 16, 2012  I’m not quite sure how he does it but Ian Elliott, proprietor of The Different Drummer Bookstore manages to attract some very impressive authors to his Engaging Ideas events he holds at the Public Library.

He recently had Michelle Landsberg as a guest and while I wasn’t able to make it to that event, I am told it was a great evening.  Landsberg is always good copy and good conversation.

An author with an international reputation and the ability to explain issues and ideas better than many - will be in Burlington February 27th.

On February 27, 7 pm author Modris Eksteins will introduce his new book Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age.

While that is certainly a mouthful of a title in the book,  Dr. Eksteins examines the career and concerns of Vincent Van Gogh and the explosion of his international reputation through a chain of surprising events in Weimar Germany.

Ekstein’s previous books, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, and Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II and the Heart of Our Century, have brought him major literary awards along with great international success and acclaim.

Solar Dance shares with these works an extraordinary recreation of the times, illuminated with keen insight and an astonishing range of reference in an artful, engaging and edifying presentation.

To reserve seats in advance, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

We have pinched shamelessly from a Globe and Mail review of Eksteins work.  I not only don’t have the time to review the books (but they are on my list of books to read) but I don’t think I could do as well as Mark Kingwell. If you are interested in reviewing books for Our Burlington – be in touch.

From Globe and Mail, February 10, 2012

No film fan can forget the scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) in which two pseudo-intellectual New Yorkers, played by Michael Murphy and Diane Keaton, enumerate the members of their “Academy of the Overrated”: Norman Mailer, Scott Fitzgerald, Lenny Bruce, Gustav Mahler, Heinrich Böll, Ingmar Bergman, Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Isak Dinesen, possibly Sol LeWitt.

Allen’s character, Isaac, a self-involved but earnest television writer, is particularly dismayed by their inclusion of Vincent van Gogh – pronounced, notoriously, “van Goch”

“Van Goch?” he mouths incredulously to his girlfriend. “She said van Goch?”

Van Gogh has been sneer fodder for snobs longer than most. Critic Carl Steinem, commenting on the craze for his work in the early 1920s, condemned the work as “petit-bourgeois kitsch” with “the likeness of a collectively minded idiot.”

Then and now, denunciations seem only to fuel an enduring, outsized popularity. Three of the highest prices ever paid for art were fetched by van Gogh’s work, even as blockbuster shows continue to create queues down the blocks of every city with an art gallery.

Posters of his paintings regularly outsell every other artist, to the point of being a dorm-room nuisance – for God’s sake, hang something else! – and his visage, name, story and signature now adorn everything from high-end liquor to banks.

This ubiquity has a non-cash price, namely that, precisely because we see the works everywhere, it’s no longer possible for us to see them. The startling vividness of van Gogh’s vision, the madness, the tragic impoverished death at 37 with just one work sold, no longer have the antagonistic power of a century ago.

Philosopher Karl Jaspers: “I could not help feeling that van Gogh was the only truly great and unwillingly ‘insane’ person among so many who pretended to be insane but are really all too normal.” Nowadays, van Gogh is no longer even an authentic madman; he is, instead, a textbook case of cultural over-determination, strangled by his own success.

The book is about the guy who cut off his ear and sold just the one painting before his life ended at 37 - it is much more than that.

Modris Eksteins’s subtle and engaging new book offers an account of how this came to be, and in telling it, Eksteins bestows a great gift: new strangeness. In 56 short sections, each linked to a van Gogh work, he interweaves the large fabric of culture, politics and money with the small, indeed pedestrian tale of a dancer turned art dealer who, in 1927, was arrested for the crime of offering 30 forged van Goghs for sale. The dealer, Otto Wacker – also known by various stage names and pseudonyms – was, in Eksteins’s phrase, a “twentieth-century mutant”: chancer, fabulist, romantic, a homosexual who joined the Nazi party, a dancer who leaped around the truth as well as the stage.

Wacker, in common with many talented men and women of Germany’s Weimar period, found interregnum Berlin an irresistible playground for stimulation and self-creation. “Berlin was crazy, debauched, metropolitan, anonymous, gargantuan, futuristic,” one Viennese writer said, “an infernal cesspool and paradise in one.” The combination of freedom and anonymity – the “metropolitan attitude” that sociologist Georg Simmel had identified as early as 1903 – would have lasting effect not just on these people but on the century’s course. Painters, writers, architects, philosophers and frauds of all types flocked to the wide-open, decadent city that would later host the extended madness, the violent “solar dance,” of Hitler’s Third Reich.

The Weimar Republic, Eksteins writes here, “was installation art on a grand scale, a fantastic panorama of commotion, imagination, and violence, literal and figurative, fuelled by a never-ending sense of emergency. Hitler and National Socialism were as much a product of Weimar as were Walter Gropius’s architecture, Fritz Lang’s films, and Marlene Dietrich’s legs.”

Makes you want to read the book – take advantage of the opportunity to meet the author.  I won’t be able to attend – there is a City Council committee meeting that needs attention.  If you choose not to join me at Council committee – do get to the library and take in this event.

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This could turn out to be a very useful program and has the potential to become a model across the province.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON, February 15, 2012 In his State of the City message in January the Mayor announced a new graduate internship program, innovateBurlington.  The objective is to help drive growth and innovation in Burlington by using talented young graduates to complete projects for local companies that help drive their business forward.

The project has some very interesting potential and appears to be one of those situations where everything came into line at the same time and it was relatively easy to go from concept to becoming operational.

The idea was part of Rick Goldring’s election platform – a promise he is delivering upon you might say.  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation, the organization that keeps tab on the health of the city’s economic development, is the lead on the project and will be asking the private sector for the most part if they have projects they would like to get started on or complete but for a number of reasons have not been able to get off the ground.

The Mayor’s idea was brought to fruition by an Advisory Board made up of   Cheryl Jensen, Paul Bates, C. Brotten, Keith Hoey, Catherine Mills, Nigel Jacobs, and Mike Jane who handed off the facilitation of the program to the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) who will administer the program during the formative years until it is clear how the program is going to be taken up by the private sector.

Kyle Benham, working with Anita Cassidy, )we will tell you more about her in a moment), take the needs a company has expressed and looks at the graduate students they are working with and looks for a match.

The students in the program are being given an opportunity many of today’s graduates feel they need to kick start their careers.  The deal for the students is that they are employed for a period of time – they get paid $23.00 an hour and work four days a week with their “client” and spend the fifth day in a classroom being mentored by some of Burlington’s success stories.

A piece of plastic got turned into a multi-national corporate endeavour. Innovative financing and a measure of moxie made it all come together. Foxcroft is going to share his experiences with interns taking part in the innovateBurlington program.

Ron Foxcroft, the basketball referee who turned a crisis, a piece of plastic and some entrepreneurial moxy into an internationally successful company.  Today’s students need time at the feet of people like Foxcroft – who also happens to be a heck of a story teller.

BECD’s Benham has taken the program one step further.  He and Cassidy look for situations where students work as team and for perhaps more than one client.  They get to share ideas and network in a way they just can’t when they are out looking for work.

Will some of the students find full time work out of the program?  That could happen but it is not the core objective.  The purpose is to give students an opportunity to get some experience and to expose the private sectors to students who were educated in the Burlington area and have a great deal of talent.

In these lean times many companies have put some projects on the side to focus on keeping the revenue side alive and healthy.  Projects that tended to be “future focus” got set aside either because existing staff just didn’t have the time or because a company wasn’t in a position to hire a new full time person.

BEDC has partnered with the Centre for Skills Development & Training and McMaster University.  Students will take their mentoring classes at the Centre and will, from time to time take in a class at McMaster.

What made this program close to perfect from BEDC’s point of view was that they were able to administer a program that is relevant to their base and use it as another feature for companies looking at Burlington for their operational base or perhaps their headquarters.

One of the problems the city has had is enticing new corporate entities to a city the Mayor and the people that oversee the growing of the city know is a great place to live and raise a family.  One of the problems they are up against is a form of apathy that says – “things are fine as they are” when many realize things are not all that fine.  Good – but not good enough.

Graduate students will be with the program for a minimum of four months with the possibility of putting in a full year.  The program isn’t meant to be a “full time” job for the students, even though they will certainly work full time and then some.  There just may be a situation where the project the employer has requires a full year and the student is picking up great resume building experience.  Most graduate interns will be involved in programs that last from between four months to a year.

Partnering with the Centre for Skills Development & Training,  a not-for-profit incorporated affiliate of the Halton District School Board, brought in seasoned educators with experience  at all stages of employment from youth just starting out, to older workers who have been laid off; from newcomers to Canada who need to improve their workplace English, to people interested in the trades who need to build their technical skills; and from small business owners looking to hire staff, to large companies who need help developing and transitioning their workforce.

The person in the trenches for this project is Anita Cassidy, who brings an almost perfect mix of academic training and experience to the task.  A Scot ethnically, Cassidy brings charm and a soft brogue in her voice to a sector in Burlington that is often neglected – the building of talent within organizations that are still working their way through the 2008 recession.

Educated at the University of Glasgow with majors in history and economics she went on to do a double Master program; an MSc with Merit in Economic Development, and an MA Honours in History and Sociology, both at the University of Glasgow

Anita Cassady, inovateBurlington program co-ordinator and Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation work up the early staging part of a program that has been launched.

Cassidy went on to work as program assistant from 2005 – 2007with the Strathclyde European Partnership where she saw how funds from the European Union were used in the re-development of the ship building industry in western Scotland.  That experience gave her both an insight and an appreciation for how much benefit there is to programs like the one the BEDC is embarking upon. She then went on to work for the British Council and then back to Scotland where she was involved as the Funding Coordinator, for Glasgow’s Regeneration Agency.  Burlington is going to seem mild to this woman

Frank McKeown, the Mayor’s top aide, pushed to have mentoring as a critical part of the program and said in an interview that he hoped to see a situation where the people involved in the program came back from Monday to Thursday sessions with their clients and spent the Friday in mentoring classes where they might get an opportunity to listen to someone like Ron Foxcroft talk about how you take an idea and grow it into a business.

McKeown fears that the Burlington private sector is just a little on the complacent side.  He points to the co-op program at McMaster/DeGroote where some 140 students were put into programs with employers.  Less than 4% of the 140 co-op students were placed with Burlington firms.  “If they aren’t working for our private sector then they are working with private sector firms elsewhere in Ontario who might well be competitors of Burlington companies”, he said.

The project got off to a strong start when local company Global Mobility Products (GMP) was able to match up with a graduate to help them realize strategic projects.  Ryan Djordjevic, GMP President, is keen.

Another program objective is to recruit, and retain talented young graduates in Burlington economy.  James Maxwell, one of the graduate interns  sees the program as an opportunity  through which he can gain experience, and increase his employability.  The hands on experience the program gives graduates includes learning how the business world works, which they don’t get in a classroom.  The hope for the people at BEDC, and the wish the Mayor had in mind when he thought up the program, was that Burlington would become home to both their work lives and where they raises their families.  The city wants to create a workforce that is part of those high paying, high tech jobs that everyone is after.  Mayor Goldring found that the mountain wasn’t coming to Mohamed – so he took Mohamed to the mountain.

Great idea – let’s see if it work.  If you want more information on this – log into www.innovateBurlington.ca  Better still – give Anita Cassidy a call..

 

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What’s open and what’s closed in the city on Family Day

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 15, 2012   Family Day is a relatively new event for Ontario and while municipalities were quick to pick up on it – legislation said they had to – the commercial sector hasn’t done much.  Denningers has announced they will not be open on Monday February 20th, which is the public holiday the province gave us in 2008 to celebrate the family.  It is a statutory holiday – which means banks, government offices, schools and municipal offices will be closed. The idea was that everyone would bet at home being family.  Hasn’t quite worked out that way but the city has set up a special schedule.

City hall is closed and a number of administrative services will not be available.

Burlington Transit and HandiVan service will operate a Sunday service schedule on Monday, Feb 20. The administration offices including the Downtown Transit Terminal will be closed.

While City Hall is closed on Family Day, Burlington parks and recreation facilities are wide open for family fun. Activities range from drop-in gym, swimming, skating and crafts to fitness classes.

A family of up to five (min. of one adult) can purchase a Family Day Pass and participate in up to three activities at Tansley Woods Community Centre for only $15. The full schedule of programs includes:

Family Day, drop-in programs

Activity Time Fee Per Participant
Drop In Family Gym* 9:30a.m.-2:30 p.m. $3.10/child, $2.10/additional child
Drop In Basketball* 2:30-4:30 p.m. $3.00
Family Fitness – Walk Tone & Stretch* (14yrs+) 10:30-11:20 a.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Cardio Sculpt* (14yrs+) 1:30-2:20 p.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Zumba* (18yrs+) 11:30a.m.-12:15 p.m. $4.50
Leisure Swim* 9:30a.m.-1:30 p.m. $2.84
Shallow Aquafit 9:30-10:15 a.m. $5.91 youth/senior, $7.84 adult
Water Running – Deep 9:30-10:30 a.m. $2.84
Combo Swim* 10:30a.m.- Noon $2.84
Lap Swim Noon -1:30 p.m. $4.34 youth/senior, $5.75 adult
Fun Swim* 1:30-4 p.m. $2.84

*Family Day Pass Options

 

Additional Family Day Drop-In Programs

Skating
Appleby Ice Centre Family Skate – Pad 3
Sticks & Pucks – Pad 3
Public Skate- Pad 4
Rotary Centennial Pond Public Skate
Swimming
Aldershot Pool Family Swim
Angela Coughlan Pool Lap Swim
Fun Swim
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Another home invasion in Burlington – police are pretty good at apprehending – are judges being stiff with the sentences?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 14, 2012.  It wasn’t hearts or roses yesterday for two residents on Dryden Avenue.

It was 2:00 am on Valentines Day when four armed people broke through the front door of a Dryden Avenue home and rounded up the two residents of the home – brothers who are both in their 20’s.  The victims were led to the basement and restrained. The suspects assaulted one of the victims and demanded drugs and money.

The house was then ransacked and the bandits began stuffing electronics and other valuables into a duffle bag. It is believed that the presence of police in the neighbourhood resulted in the suspects fleeing and leaving all the property behind, including weapons.

One victim was unharmed and the second victim was treated for minor injuries at Joseph Brant Hospital and has since been released.

Suspects are described as:

1) Male, not white, mid to late 20’s in age, darker skin possibly Latin American, 6’3″, 260-270 lbs, covered face with dark hoodie and pulled dark shirt or scarf up over lower part of face, wore dark clothing and gloves

2) Male, white, mid to late 20’s in age, described as being a “skin head” light coloured possibly blonde short hair, 5’10”, 175 lbs, jeans with a ski jacket, no other identifiable marks, scars or tattoos, did not wear gloves or a mask.

3) Male, Asian, mid to late 20’s in age, 5’9″, 150-160 lbs, wearing brown Timberland boots, grey hoodie pulled down on head, dark shirt or scarf pulled up over lower face, blue jeans, unknown type of gloves.

4) Male, possibly Italian descent, mid to late 20’s in age, 6’0″, 220 lbs, grey hoodie, white scarf or shirt pulled up over lower part of face.

What is it that takes criminals to a specific house on a specific street at 2:00 am in the morning and assaulting the occupants and demanding drugs and cash?  Because they think that’s what’s in the house?  There is some detective work being done around this robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

 

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Queensway residents comments on the Drury Lane bridge; Council agrees to repair. Building a new bridge? That’s five years off.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 13, 2012  The core values of a community are often not fully appreciated until they are threatened and that is when the community comes together and focus on the challenge it faces.  That is when members of the community find their voice and make it public.  And that is what the Glenwood School drive Community did last week when nine of its members stood before the city’s Community Development Committee and said: “fix our bridge”.

For a time city council chamber looked like a day care centre with children scampering all over the place while other draped themselves over their parents laps. In this picture city Manager Jeff Fielding looks on from the public gallery and made no comment. Let's see what he says when this gets to city Council.

Each person spoke with their own passion; some were more direct than others, some talked of the history and the small things that made the community unique

Steven Kopysh talked of the change that had taken place in the community from the time 44 years ago it was a quite secluded area that not too many people realized existed. At the end of my street you could walk across the tracks to a wooded area with a well-worn path through it.  There were no fences, Fairview street was not there, Burlington was not a city.

All that has changed.  Fairview was built to be a main east west corridor, railway underpasses were built,  Brant and Guelph line were widened and Queensway made into a main thoroughfare.  The GO train added more traffic and the tracks were fenced off. Our community had gone from a secluded area to an isolated area.

Kopysh reminded Council Committee that forty years ago Council had the foresight to build a pedestrian bridge to the south.  It made sense. All the elementary schools, the high school, central Park, the Library and the Seniors Centre were to the south.

Then in a way that only a long-time resident can, Kopysh  chided Council members  as said” If Council is serious about greening the city and reducing our carbon footprint, if this Council is serious about promoting vibrant communities, if this Council is serious about promoting walking and cycling – the bridge makes sense. Please do not isolate us.  Do not force us to use our cars.

And if the point was not already made Kopysh added “my sincere hope is that our city council has the foresight and wisdom shown by their peers forty years ago and that we will have a bridge for generations to come”.

Alicia Lovatsis was pretty direct in her comments to a Committee of city Council when she said: - we want THAT bridge and not a path

Alicia Lovatsis, a Fassel Avenue resident first took issue with the bridge traffic survey the city was using And pointed out that a petition of 240 names of people this neighborhood that are saying we use THAT bridge and we want THAT bridge fixed.  Not a pathway.  Our bridge!!

Our children and youth are the ones being forced into busy roads and dark train station tunnels!

The main reason I stand before you is speaking environmentally.  I am not an environmentalist but I have been taught to think about the choices I make and how they impact our world.  At the first council meeting I watched you councillors roll your eyes at Marianne (Councillor Marianne Meed Ward) telling her it waste a waste of the cities time to include statics about cost per trip when using the bridge!

Again maybe this is just a difference in generations but this is the way our generation thinks.  I don’t want to live in a world where my children think its ok to get in the car every time they want to go somewhere!!  So I decided to look back at how many times I could of crossed the bridge but instead I had to get in my car and drive.  From November 25 until January 21 I made 52 unnecessary trips with my car.  I will spare you the details but all my destinations were south or southeast.  I never once went to the go station!! I did another little experiment just thinking in line of the councillors thinking that its no big deal to go around and through the station, I did a little walking experiment.  I left my house at 1:13pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I walked across Fassel and up to Glenwood  School and across to the Go Station.  I got to the station at 1:36 , down and through the station and across the south lot.  Arriving at lights at 1:47, cross the street, backtrack to Aragon and cross down through catwalks arriving at Tom Thomson at 1:59.  That is travel time of 55 minutes.  No one will do that, even if it cuts down on my time by a pathway…it still leads me to the go train station platform, not an ideal place for my 3 and 5 year old!!  I used to be able to leave at 8:45 and arrive at Tom Thomson. 20 minutes is very reasonable for travel!!

Lovatsis then reminded Council of the Pedestrian charter, passed in Burlington in 2009.  There was the clear sense that few on Council knew what she was talking about but Lovatsis reminded them that

“an urban community is one that encourages and facilitates walking, and supports community health, vitality and safety.  It increases use of public transit, decreases car dependence, reduces conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, leads to cleaner air and more public green spaces, as well as supports green tourism.  Such an environment creates opportunities for the informal social interaction that is one of the main attributes of a vibrant, livable urban community.”

She wasn’t finished. She urged the committee to truly listen to the people of this community that have come together to speak about how important this bridge is to our community.  That is what they call ‘walking the talk’.

Sarah O'Hara told a city council committee that she and her kids, as well as neighbours from across the city, stand on the bridge and watch the trains pass underneath and delight when the train engineers blow their whistles.

Sarah O’Hara, who has lived on Glenwood School Drive for more than twelve years pointed out that the Drury Passenger Bridge has a rich history in our neighbourhood.  People use this to get safely from our survey to the business section of Fairview Street and can easily access Burlington Mall, the library, the Y, and other places without having to take the longer route of Guelph Line.  Safety issues aside (which are of course one of the main reasons this bridge needs to stay), I would like to touch on the rich tradition this bridge offers our residents.

I use the bridge daily to get fresh air for my daughter and exercise for myself!  While making the daily trip I meet many other mothers, fathers and grandparents in the neighbourhood who also made the bridge the destination of their walks and they love to climb the bridge and eagerly check the colour of the lights for the trains.  When we saw a green light a sense of excitement would ensue while we waited for the approaching train.  GO trains, VIA and freight trains would never fail to honk their horn and wave to the thrill of all the children who stood on top, clinging to a grown up in a mix of fear and delight while they waved excitedly to the passing train, then quickly turn to watch it receding the other way.  I met countless parents who have actually driven from other neighborhoods so their children could climb the bridge and experience the same thrill.

The bridge O’Hara told Council committee “helps to define our neighborhood, and a place where neighbours meet.  This bridge has helped to create neighbours in the true sense of the word, not just strangers who happen to live on the same block of land.  We are already experiencing so many changes in our neighbourhood; it would be a shame to lose this bridge.

The Queensway community ,managed to get a city council committee to go along with $380,000 worth of repairs to the bridge. Getting the thing rebuilt or an underpass put in place in five years will be the next battle for them. Guess which community is going to be active in the next municipal election? will this sign be gone by then?

O’Hara asked the members of Council to “look behind me.  You are looking at teachers, waitresses, social workers, postal workers, stay at home mums…children.  What brought us all here together?  What “bridged” our differences?  We are here out of a desire to have our voices heard on something that is evidently important enough for us all to come here tonight.  This is our chance to show our youth that the city of Burlington takes the concerns and opinions of its citizens seriously.  Please show us that what is important to us, the people living here, matters.  Please fix our bridge.”

There was one occasion when the public cheered and clapped and committee chair Blair Lancaster quietened the crowd and explained that applause wasn’t allowed.  I wondered why the first time Lancaster said no responses were permitted but then understood when Lancaster added:  If we let you clap when you’re happy then we have to let you boo when you’re not happy.  Thhe beauty Queen has become a politician!

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Pier has settled in for the winter; work resumes in Spring; providing a crane doesn’t topple we will see the Pier open in 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 11, 2012  – Whenever there is bad news about The Pier ears perk up and the Doom Sayers wonder why we just didn’t tear it down, take our losses.  At times bad news about The Pier actually gets manufactured and results in front page stories.

The Pier has certainly had its share of problems and they aren’t all the fault of the people who were hired to design and build the thing.  The city’s engineering department made its share of mistakes but the city is not at fault here.

Contractor gets a break with the unseasonable weather and is able to remove all the deficient steel. The trestle, needed for construction equipment lies to the right, the steel rails are to the left of the trestle. Fabricators begin work on the new beams.

As everyone knows – there are a couple of law-suits working their way through the legal process.  In this country it seems to take forever to get a resolution to a dispute – but that too isn’t the fault of the city.  The unseasonable weather has been great and allowed all the sub-standard steel that was put in place to be taken out.  Note that the city didn’t buy the steel, nor did the city specify the steel that was used.  It just paid the bills when they came in.

All the deficient steel was removed before Christmas - the lady is now naked - waiting for a new steel dressing come the Spring. The trestle is still in place but the steel rails have been removed. The windmill that will power the lights will be placed on the rails that stick out on the upper left. It is going to happen.

With all the steel taken out and stored in a yard in Hamilton – (unfortunately at the city’s expenses) because it might be needed when the case actually has a Court date.  One could argue – does all the steel have to be kept?  Good argument but you know that the lawyers on the other side will come back with a way to get out of being found responsible should the city dump anything – so at this point – every scrap of evidence is being kept.  Expensive – yes; necessary, probably.

The contractor is now putting together the drawings that will get passed along to the people who are going to fabricate the steel – this is being done by a company in Kitchener.  That work should be done by the time the winter that has just started comes to an end and crews can get out and beginning riveting the steel in place and then move on to the concrete pours.

It’s all happening on time and no snags or problems.  The city’s engineering department is watching this one like a hawk with an eye on a snake that is trying to slither away.

 

 

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Burlington women gather to celebrate and listen to a financial leader talk about climbing the corporate ladder.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 13, 2012  The girls are going to show the guys how they have a plan to take over the world. On March 2nd, Paddy Torsney will host the 16th  Burlington International Women’s Day breakfast to be held at what was once the Holiday Inn Burlington, South Service Road and Guelph Line.

The speaker this year is Burlington resident Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators Group Limited. Bardswick is one of the few women in Canada to head a large financial institution. She will share with us her life’s journey and secrets for success.

Bardswick, featured speaker at the 16th Burlington International Woman's Day breakfast, heads up The Co-operators, a large Canadian insurance company.

Kathy Bardswick began her career with The Co-operators in 1978. Prior to her appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Co-operators Group on March 1, 2002, she served as Chief Operating Officer of The Sovereign General and L’UNION CANADIENNE. From 1998-2002, she was in charge of operations for these companies and their subsidiaries under the umbrella of The Co-operators Group Limited.

A graduate of McMaster University’s M.B.A. program, Kathy Bardswick also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Manitoba.

She is Chairperson of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Equally active in the co-operative sector, Kathy served as Chair of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation. She is currently a member of the ICMIF Executive. She is also a board member of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

International Women’s Day celebrates the accomplishments of women and girls in our community, our country and around the world. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and plan for the future.

This annual event in Burlington allows people to celebrate, network, learn and be inspired.  Our generous sponsors will ensure girls from each of our high schools in Burlington attend and you may wish to sponsor students you know.

Tickets are available at A Different Drummer Bookstore (see below) for $15 each and must be purchased in advance.  Every year, this event has been sold out – so get your tickets early.

We are told that men and boys are welcome to join and celebrate women and girls!  But no high heels guys.

 

 

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Making the business hubs work; Aldershot seems to have developed an integrated approach; how is Brant Street doing?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 10, 2011  – What is it that brings about economic growth in a community?  How can the strides that are taking place along Plains Road in Aldershot be grafted onto the downtown core?

The Plains Road Village Vision Group (PRVV) have shown that when people in the community want change to take place – it happens.  When Shoppers Drug Mart opened their location on Plains Road they had planned on using their template for the store.  Shoppers has a way of doing things and they planned to follow the formula..

Plains Road - no longer just the highway to Hamilton but now a Main Street in a part of the city with an identity of its own

Not so fast said members of the community.  We’d like to see the orientation of the store more towards the street and not the parking lot you’re putting in – and while you’re at it – we want you to place one of the benches we’ve created close to the front of the store.  And the door should be placed facing the street.

The bench is in place; the greenery at the front of the location is pretty consistent with the rest of the street and there is a door that faces the street – but it’s kept locked – you can’t use it.  Which underlines the phrase – you can’t win every time.  But the Plains Road Village Vision win often enough and a road that was once the main route through to Hamilton has become a street that is a little slower when it comes to traffic and is certainly much nicer to walk along.  There are shops and restaurants and new projects are announced almost monthly.  The shovels go into the ground whereas in downtown Burlington a project is announced and that’s about it.

The Ontario Municipal Board recently gave a developer additional height at the James – Brant intersection, which made him happy but the same developer has a major project past the approval stage for John Street.  No shovels in the ground there yet.

The PRVV people have done such a good job on their end of things that the local Business Improvement Association has made the PRVV a formal subcommittee of the BIA. “In my view” said Ward Council member Rick Craven, “this initiative will strengthen both groups and serve the interests of Aldershot very well”.

Looks very cosmopolitan - and it is. But property taxes take a big chunk out of the revenue.

Meanwhile the downtown Burlington merchants struggle attracting traffic and making Brant Street vibrant.  Downtown rents are a killer for those who don’t own their buildings and taxes, up significantly due in some measure to the high rise condos that have been built, don’t allow these business people to see the profits they need to grow.

That cup of coffee on Brant Street is the same price as that cup of coffee on Plains Road but the tax portion of the rent on Brant is a lot higher than it is on Plains Road

Much to the chagrin of the Brant Street merchants, as well as their colleagues on the streets east and west of Brant, the condos brought tax increases but didn’t do much in the way of directing traffic to their doors.

All that hustle and bustle at Spencer Smith Park during the Sound of Music and RibFest doesn’t drive much traffic up Brant Street either.

While the people in Aldershot seem to have a grip on what their issues are and are working together to make the best of what they do have – Downtown can’t seem to make things work for them.  During the Christmas Season at least two well-known restaurants did nothing to dress up their street scape.  There wasn’t much of a “festiveness” on the street while the Village Square made their location look inviting at least.

Retail and hospitality are a grind – it isn’t easy to stay fresh, be seen as “the place” to get to and have fun or enjoy a meal.  When retail is good – it’s great – it’s just isn’t all that good much of the time.

Are there lessons for the Burlington Downtown Business Association with what Aldershot’s BIA is doing?  Might be worth looking into.  Is there an equivalent to the Plains Road Village Vision representing the downtown merchants?  That too might be worth looking into.

And does anyone have any thoughts on what the Festival of Lights will be doing for sponsorship next winter?  And if anyone happens to know where those reindeer wandered off to – give the Festival of Lights folks a call.

 

 

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The woof woofs went bow wow and suddenly there was a handful of firearms and a grow op. Nibbles and bits for that puppy.

By Pepper Parr

Thursday evening the Halton Regional Police Guns and Gangs investigators along with the Emergency Services Unit raided a high risk east end Burlington residence and uncovered a sophisticated hydroponic grow-op with a hydro bypass, marihuana as well as  a variety of prohibited weapons (flick knives and pepper spray) and a loaded .45 calibre pistol.

Cst Mitchell with police dog Juno being trained. Another police dog, Storm, was used in the drug raid in east end Burlington.

Police Services Dog, STORM, a general patrol dog who is also trained in the detection of firearms, was instrumental in the discovery of the pistol.  The .45 calibre pistol was loaded.  A gun of this size is very, very powerful and a Kevlar vest is not going to be much help.  In addition to the .45 calibre pistol, investigators seized 22 other firearms from the residence.

This residence was clearly a very dangerous place that undercover police have probably been watching for some time.

The Halton Regional Police successfully dismantled a residential grow home and recovered a loaded firearm with the assistance of Police Services Dog, ‘STORM’.

Burlington Hydro took part in the raid to ensure that the lights do not come back on.

ACCUSED are: Graham ALLEN, 40 of Burlington; Grace ALLEN, 36 also of Burlington.

They have been charged with:

Theft of Hydro (consumption)

Occupants Injure Building

Produce Controlled Substance

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a Restricted Firearm with Ammunition

Possession of a Prohibited Weapon (5 counts)

Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Contravention of Storage Regulations (four counts)

Careless Storage of a Firearm

The police threw every charge they could think at these two.  This investigation is going to be ongoing for some time.

I’d like to add some context to this news item..  A .45 calibre revolver blows a big hole in whatever it hits.  The damage it does is not something one recovers from easily.  Each day men and women are sent out on a raid which their commanding officers prepare them for – but there is no preparation for a bullet coming out of a .45 calibre handgun.

When most of us go to work each day we expect to come home unharmed.  The officer who took part in that raid in east end Burlington on Thursday expected to get home that night.  Fortunately the handgun was not in the hands of a criminal about to be arrested.  They were lucky.  It doesn’t always work out that way.

Investigators remind the public to utilize Crime Stoppers to report any illegal drug, gang or gun activity at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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The Drury Lane bridge will get repaired if Council lives up to what it passed at Committee. But it will be just a five year patch.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 9, 2012  It looks as if the Glenwood School Drive community is going to get some relief for the bridge that has yet to fall down – but they had to fight for every yard they gained in the battle with their city council.

No longer safe for the public to use the Drury Lane pedestrian Bridge was closed in November. Estimate is that $2 million will be needed to re-build and $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

The bridge that crosses the GO train tracks at Drury Lane was closed very suddenly last November 25th.  An inspection of the structure, that was first put up in 1972 and modified and repaired a number of times since then, was found to be unsafe.

Suddenly a community that is basically landlocked, found that it had to take trips that required 55 minutes as opposed to the normal 20 minutes.  Parents found they could not get their kids to school on time.  Most of all – they missed standing in the middle of the bridge that crossed the tracks and watching the trains pass beneath them and hearing the engineer blow the train whistle.  For many it was almost a “right of passage”.

A community that used to have a way out to commercial Fairview and south to the commercial core was suddenly floundering to figure out how they were going to get around and, more significantly, how they were going to deal with a city council that seemed to have forgotten all about them.

Six month before that same city council stuffed an additional 54 housing units into six lots that previously held six houses.  They weren’t listened to then and they were afraid they were not going to be listened to this time either.  They had no idea what to do.  They used all the old time tactics – put together a petition that had 240 names on it – from a community with 400 homes.  They held a community meeting, called people at city hall and met with their ward Councillor.

They gave the petition to their ward Councillor and neglected to keep a copy for themselves and had nothing to follow up with when they realized it was going to take more than a petition to get their bridge fixed.

Due to the nature of the issue a matter that goes to committee first was referred to Council rather than discussed at much length at the committee stage – There was no community input at the first Committee meting.  The community showed up for the Council meeting a few weeks later only to be told that it was going to be sent back to Committee so that some of the ideas that had come to the surface could be resolved.  At this point the city was looking at the creation of some paths that would make use of the GO train tunnels under the train tracks; but that didn’t pan out – so the city was looking at replacing a bridge that they felt not very many people used and they didn’t like the look of the $2 million + price tag they were staring in the face.

And that’s what happened Wednesday evening – when 60 residents filled the Council chamber and nine  residents delegated to council committee.  The Council members got an earful from a community that may have been seen as not fully prepared but this time they had their ducks lined up and they weren’t taking a no for an answer.

Unfortunately a number of things happened before the residents got to have their say.  For some reason, the order in which delegations were to be heard got mixed up; add to that the meeting was chaired by an inexperienced Council member and managed by a Clerk that didn’t seem to know how to advise her Chair.

Child of a Queensway community parent waits patiently for their turn at the delegation podium. City Manager Jeff Fielding chose to sit in the public gallery and watch his staff handle the meeting.

Dysfunction was made to look acceptable when a Council member went on and on, and on and on some more about accepting the Cycling Master Plan, technical data on the width of lanes and the separation of bicycle lanes and traffic counts.  Ward 5 Councillor Sharman, who can be very biting when he chooses did ask for the forbearance of his fellow Council members as he asked question after question of staff who struggled to find answers.

Meanwhile sixty adults, many with school age children on their laps waited, and waited for Councillor Sharman to end his questioning of staff on a subject few in the public gallery came to hear about.  As Sharman droned on, several members of Council, three by my count, were thumbing through the Procedural Manual; perhaps looking for a way to bring this farce session to an end.

An enlightened chair could have and should have shifted the order of the agenda and moved the sixty residents with their nine delegations forward.  To make it all even more dismaying – after the delegations were given staff then gave a report setting out what the options were for the bridge problem. The residents would have liked to have heard those options before they delegated.

It got worse.  After hearing some very sensible comments made during the delegations when everyone thought they were done one parent stood and asked when her children and their Dad were going to speak.  The delegation list had failed to include the children so they didn’t come forward when their Mother did.  The chair wasn’t quite sure she wanted to entertain yet another speaker and the result of that gaffe was a pre-teen child in tears because she felt she wasn’t going to get her chance to be heard.

It wasn’t over yet either.  One delegate was delivering a fine series of statements and was then told that her time was up.  Each delegate has ten minutes at committee.  Lisa Hayes turned away from the podium after telling the chair there was something wrong with her clock.  Hayes was correct – she got cut off at the six and a half minute point of her delegation.

It didn’t get much better when it got to questions of Council members to staff and then comments from Council members.  It had become clear at this point that Council had been swayed by the comments from the community – they were going to have to do something.

The two options that would have the residents walking some distance to use the GO tunnels underneath the railway tracks were not going to work but that the first step of repairing the bridge and re-opening it at a cost of $380,000 was going to be what got through the Committee meeting.  The cost of the repairs aren’t  going to put much of a dent in the city budget – the funds used will come from savings at the Brant/Fairview upgrade.

The Drury Lane bridge spans the GO train tracks and has been the location where local residents stand and wave to the trains passing beneath.

But Council still kept moaning about this “unexpected cost” and for a time didn’t appear prepared to spend any money on this community.  The replacing the bridge option was estimated to cost something in excess of $2 million while the underpass was estimated to cost about $1.5 million – appreciate that these numbers were all back of the envelope stuff.

The 240 residents that signed the petition and the 60 people in the Council chamber along with the nine delegations now knew that if you want to win at city hall – you pack the Council chamber and you make yourselves heard – and you watch the clock to ensure you get your full ten minutes.

Next step for this community is to make sure they are a part of the design of whatever Council decides to do – re-build the bridge or put in a tunnel.

For the record what staff put forward will have the bridge back in operation this summer and give the city a five year time frame to figure out what to do next for a community that depends on the bridge.

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Halton police solve Burlington robbery before it gets reported; one adult male and one youth charged.

By Staff

Halton Regional Police laid robbery charges against an 18-yr-old man and a 16-yr-old youth, when suspicions the officers had, proved accurate.

On February 8, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. a group of youths were walking through the ravine area behind Alexander Public School, in Burlington, when they were confronted by two males.  The males ordered the youths to empty their pockets, physically restraining one of the youths to search him and restricted the movements of the other youths throughout the encounter.  While the one youth was being physically restrained, his glasses were broken.

The males fled after stealing two i-phones.

Police didn't know they had their man until the robbery report came in - but they had their suspicions - which proved to be true.

Subsequent to the robbery, but prior to it being reported, plain-clothed officers were in the vicinity of the school on an unrelated matter.  Officers observed the suspects on school property, had conversation with them and obtained their identities.

When the robbery was reported later and descriptions of the suspects given out, the officers who were in the area “on an unrelated matter” knew who the bandits were and where they lived. The police arrested the two without incident.

ACCUSED:  Akenson TELESFORD, 18 yrs, of Oakville.  CHARGES:  Forcible Confinement (four counts), Robbery (two counts), Breach of Recognizance.

ACCUSED:  16-year-old male from Burlington (whose identity is protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act).  CHARGES:  Forcible Confinement (four counts), Robbery (two counts).

The question that isn’t answered is: What was the unrelated matter that had the plain clothes officers in the ravine in the first place.  Something’s up.

 

 

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Like it or not you have to deal with Facebook’s new layout. Here’s how you lock down your profile – post-Timeline.

ItCanada.ca publishes more than half a dozen technology magazines including CIO Canada and Network World.   They are a reputable publisher that has been in business for quite a while.  They recently did a piece on securing your Facebook data.

Our Burlington is about to embark on a series about Identity Theft and this is as good a way as there is to get you started on securing your identity.  Most of us use Facebook and like the way it allows us to keep in touch with people we don’t see very often.  Louise tells me about how she takes care of pets; Cory inundates me with things about the NDP that I really don’t need to know, Brian somehow digs out trivia stuff that I usually don’t get and I’ve got a guy in Spain who shares a family name with me – and that’s about all.  I enjoy the service but really resent someone using the information and comments I put up on the web site to their advantage.  If I’ve made you a Friend then be my friend and respect my privacy.

Set out below are five ways to secure your new profile

By Logan Kugler

With the ongoing rollout of Facebook’s Timeline feature, security and privacy have never been more important to your digital life. The new layout presents all of your current and past activities on Facebook — posts, photos, comments, likes and so on — in a handy timeline format to anyone with access to your profile, which may include friends of friends, colleagues, executives at your company, a potential future boss … well, you get the idea.

If you’ve made the jump to Timeline — and if you haven’t, you will within the next few weeks, like it or not — you should know that Facebook has changed a few things, and there are certain settings you need to pay attention to if you’re concerned about what parts of your life others can see. Here’s how to lock down your profile in the post-Timeline world.

1. Limit your connections

Most key privacy settings are accessible by clicking the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your profile screen (next to your name and the Home button). From here, select Privacy Settings in the drop-down menu.

Protecting your Facebook data: Rule # 1 - Limit your connections

Click on Edit Settings next to the How You Connect option to begin your profile lockdown. This section contains five privacy settings.

The first three settings govern who can look up your profile and see your contact information, who can friend you and who can send you messages. For maximum privacy, change the first and third settings to Friends, thereby preventing anyone else from looking up your profile or sending you messages.

The second setting governs who can send you Friend requests. The more secure choice is Friends of Friends, but it limits your connectivity on the world’s largest social network. If you’re worried about losing out on friendship opportunities, keep it set to Everyone.

The last two settings dictate who can post on your timeline and who sees those posts. Only Me is the safest option, but choosing it severely reduces the number of interactions Facebook offers. If you’re seriously considering limiting your timeline posts to you and only you, it might be time to leave Facebook entirely.

Setting both of these options to Friends is relatively safe while still allowing the sharing that makes Facebook fun. And there is a way to review posts from friends before they appear on your timeline, as you’ll see in the next section of the story.

2. Tailor your tags

An easily missed entry in the Privacy Settings is one innocuously labeled How Tags Work. However, it is essential to tweak the settings found here if you want to take control of your profile’s privacy, as some tagging actions can be pretty invasive.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 2 Tailor your tags.

The first two settings (Timeline Review and Tag Review) are particularly useful. When you enable them, you can review posts and photos that friends tag you in, as well as the tags friends add to your own posts — all before this information goes public. That’s especially valuable if you have well-meaning friends who think tagging you in those Vegas party photos is a good idea.

The third setting, Maximum Timeline Visibility, should be set to Friends or customized for certain friend lists or networks to ensure that these tagged posts, once approved, aren’t seen by everyone.

Disable the fourth setting on the list, Tag Suggestions. It makes it harder for friends to tag large quantities of photos featuring you or people that look like you. But it also takes some of your profile’s privacy out of the hands of others.

The last setting on the list is seriously important: It determines whether or not friends can check you in to places. Turn it off. The only thing worse than constantly broadcasting your location is having someone else do it without your express permission.

3. Rein in app permissions

Speaking of permissions, the permission window that used to appear frequently when Facebook apps wanted to access your profile information is pretty much MIA now. Currently, apps need to ask you only once for permission. Once they do, they’ll mine your profile information as often as need be, sometimes even when the app isn’t being used.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 3 - Rein in your app permissions.

Fortunately, there’s a privacy fix. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick one, since you’ll have to tweak each app’s settings individually.

In the main Privacy Settings, click on Edit Settings next to the Apps and Web sites entry to bring up the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings page. Next to “Apps you use,” click on Edit Settings again to access a full list of apps running on your profile. Each app is accompanied by an Edit button, which displays the app’s permissions when clicked. Each app has different permissions enabled, so you’ll have to check each one individually.

Here’s the bad news: Some permissions, such as sharing basic profile information with the app, cannot be altered. These are marked by the grayed-out word “Required” next to the particular permission.

Other settings, however, have the word “Remove” next to them — click on it to remove any permission. These are the only items that can be changed, so you’ll have to take a hard look at what permissions an app deems a necessity. If you don’t like what you see, click “Remove app” at the top of the same page and learn to live without that app.

For the apps you do keep, it’s important to control who sees the information that the apps share — many of them are designed to broadcast your activities on your timeline and in the “ticker” on the right side of users’ home pages. At the bottom of each app’s permissions page is another important option entry titled “App activity privacy.” Click on the drop-down menu and select Only Me to be sure your app activity isn’t seen by anyone else.

Similarly, if you install any new apps, be sure to select Only Me under “Who can see activity from this app on Facebook” on the installation page.

4. Stop others from taking your information with them

The Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings also contain some other features that security hounds would be wise to disable.

Protecting your FAcebook data. Rule # 4 Stop others from taking your information.

Click on Edit Settings next to the entry labeled “How people bring your info to the apps they use.” Other users may be able to bring your personal information with them when they use apps and Web sites. It’s all in the interest of making things more social. It can also be invasive. Uncheck the box next to each information category listed (there are 17 of them) to prevent others from using your personal data.

Head back to the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings and click Edit Settings for the “Instant personalization” category. This option should be turned off by default, but check to make sure. You’ll first see a pop-up screen explaining the feature; when you close that, you’ll be able to see whether it’s enabled. If it is, disable it. This will prevent Facebook partner sites from accessing your public information to personalize your experience on their own Web sites.

5. Reduce your social footprint

Sharing is the whole point of Facebook, but the Timeline layout sometimes takes this to extremes, making it easy for others to see all your activity from years gone by. The good news is that you can disable Recent Activity updates, which broadcast new friendships, groups you’ve joined and any other changes in your basic information (such as relationship status or political views). Just click on the X next to a Recent Activity update on your timeline and select Hide Similar Activity from Timeline.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 5 Reduce your social footprint.

This makes the process of hiding certain activities from your past a little easier. But here’s the bad news: Individual status updates or posts from, say, your less judicious days need to be removed individually by clicking the pencil icon next to each item and choosing Hide from Timeline — a process that could take you to the end of 2012 if you’ve ever been very active on Facebook.

There’s a limited solution, though: In the main Privacy Settings window, the second-to-last entry on the list is titled Limit the Audience for Past Posts. Click on the Manage Past Post Visibility link next to it. A window will appear giving you the option to change all past posts so that they’re visible only to friends. Click Limit Old Posts to do so.

That will at least prevent anyone other than people you’ve friended from seeing older items on your timeline. But considering that your boss, colleagues and other acquaintances may be among your Facebook friends, it’s still a good idea to review your entire timeline and remove compromising status updates, comments, links and photos. Start with the oldest items first. When you first started using Facebook, you probably had fewer contacts and might have posted and commented with less caution than you’ve done more recently.

As a last precaution, make sure that everything you post on Facebook moving forward is shared only with friends, specific networks or friend lists: Click the drop-down box next to your status update, comment, link or other shared content and select Friends or a group. For even more granular control over who can and can’t see a post, select the Custom option.

It bears mentioning that the last and best defense against digital privacy invasions is common sense. You may want to be a bit irreverent with your Facebook friends — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But ask yourself if you’d wave that questionable photo or say that pithy comment in front of someone who could affect your future hiring prospects. If not, think twice before you post it on Facebook.

 

 

 

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Fire department looking for volunteers. Is a firefighters calendar part of the job?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 8, 2012  The fire department is looking for individuals who are interested in a challenging opportunity to serve their community as a volunteer firefighter. You can get an application on February 13, 2012.

Is this man over 18 and a Burlington resident? Then he must be a Burlington Fire Fighter.

All applicants must be a Burlington resident and at least 18 years old; meet the volunteer firefighter requirements as outlined on the city’s website and be prepared to volunteer your time for training, firefighting and other related duties.

The information you need is on the city website: www.burlington.ca/fire.

The application period is from February 13, 2012. To 11:59p.m., Feb. 24, 2012.

Burlington’s fire department consists of both professional and volunteer firefighters, employing 203 full-time staff and 65 volunteers. Being a volunteer firefighter is no ordinary job; the work is varied and challenging. New recruits will be assigned to Fire Headquarters, Station No. 1 located on Fairview Street or Fire Station No. 5 located in Kilbride based on where the applicant lives. The Kilbride station covers the rural areas of Burlington, mostly north of No. 2 Side road.

There was no mention of getting your picture on a fire fighters calendar in the press release.

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They should have given Marvelous Mike a nicer anniversary present.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 7, 2012    Now look at what you’ve done Mike.  The Dippers have called for a study on the inappropriate use of secret sessions at all of the federal government committees where legislation is studied, debated, altered and approved.  Had you not attempted to slip through a motion that would allow for those secret meetings the Dippers would never had known that the subject needed study.

And for this to happen on the anniversary of your being sworn in as a Member of the House of Commons in 2006 – well, this is a real let down.  With six years as an MP under your belt you now qualify for that deliciously fat federal pension – which is going to be kind of awkward to square when you meet with seniors later this month and tell them that you are bringing them some help with their income tax returns.  It is not easy being an MP – but you already know that.

Now for those readers who do not read what comes out of Ottawa every day – some background.

Burlington`s Conservative MP Mike Wallace tried to introduce a motion at the government operations committee, of which he is the vice chair, that would force the public to leave the room whenever the committee is determining such matters as which witnesses to call and what subjects to investigate.  Conservative MPs on other committees introduced similar motions.

Marvelous Mike explained at that time that witnesses at the government operations committee would still be heard in public.  “But then” he added “we go in camera to discuss who we are going to invite next and what study we are going to do, all that kind of stuff.  It gives members of Parliament an opportunity to speak frankly about what should be next for the committee to study.”  It also keeps the public from knowing anything about certain witnesses.

The Dippers were certain that the government was up to something and given that they are now the official opposition they felt they had to do something and because they didn’t know what to actually do – they opted to call for a study.

The federal New Democrats are trying to ensure that the Conservative government does not push the debate at Commons committees behind closed doors. Chris Charlton, the NDP Whip, introduced a motion Tuesday at the procedures and House affairs committee calling on the committee to begin a study of the “inappropriate” use of secret sessions at all of the committees where legislation is studied, debated, altered and approved.

“I think it’s really important that committees stay one of the accountable and transparent parts of Parliamentary process which they have always been,” Ms. Charlton said going in to the committee room.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I think we have seen that the government members are increasingly anxious to move things in camera so that media can’t have access, Canadians can’t have access, and no one is sure what is happening behind closed doors.”

They were talking about you Marvelous Mike and I don`t think they were being very nice.  The least they could have done was congratulate you on the anniversary of your being sworn in as an MP – goodness knows, most of those Dippers aren’t going to make it to that, heaven on earth day, otherwise known as becoming eligible for a fat pension.  Most of them are one term members at best.

“For most Canadians, what happens inside committees is sort of insider baseball,” said Ms. Charlton. “But the reality is that when pensions, for example, are being debated in this House, Canadians have a stake in what happens. And by being able to makes submissions to committees, by having the media report about what’s happening in committees, they are informed about what this government is doing. It’s a critical part of accountability.”

Marc Garneau, a Liberal member of the procedures and House affairs committee, and by the way a former astronaut who was the first Canadian to go into space, said he agreed with Ms. Charlton.

The Committees should be “as public as we can be,” said Mr. Garneau. “There are a few occasions when it has to be in camera, but, as much as possible, the principle should be that it should not be in camera so the media and the public have maximum access.”

 

 

 

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Two geniuses use hand gun in a Lakeshore Road convenience store robbery.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 7, 2012  – Perfectly innocent people are victimized by crime and when that criminal is a gun toting youth sticking a gun in your face and ordering you to get down on the floor – becoming a victim takes on a whole new meaning.  Few people ever recover from an armed robbery.  The trauma is with them for the rest of their lives.

Last Sunday at around 7:00 a.m., two men, one armed with a handgun, entered the Real Convenience Mart, located at 5353 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington.

The firearm was pointed directly at the store clerk, death threats were made and the clerk was ordered to the ground.

The men stole the cash content of the till and the ATM located inside the store – not sure how they managed to do that but that is what the police reported.

The suspects also took several cartons of cigarettes and lottery tickets, which were all stuffed into a duffel bag.  The clue that these two were not in the genius category is in the theft of lottery tickets.  True justice would have them stealing a ticket worth a couple of million – but these idiots wouldn’t be able to collect on it because the lottery people know where every ticket is sold – cash a winning ticket and they’ve got you.

These two geniuses were described by police as follows:

Suspect # 1

Description:  male, white, 20-25 years of age, 5’9 to 6’0 tall, approximately 175 – 180 lbs, average build, short dirty blonde hair with receding hairline, fair complexion.

Clothing: Dark coloured jacket with “New York” on the back with a possible Yankees patch on the front. White hoodie underneath the jacket, dark jeans, and white runners.

 Suspect # 2

Description: male, white, 20-25 years of age, 5’6 to 5’7 tall, approximately 140 – 150 lbs, slim build, with dark hair, fair complexion. Lettered tattoos on his right forearm.

Clothing: Dark coloured jacket, dark jeans, white runners.

They are believed to have fled the scene in a newer model sedan, possibly a Toyota Corolla or Camry.

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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