Social media has become a very dangerous computer application - used by politicians to communicate with you

By Pepper Parr

July 16th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This article is about Twitter, Threads, social media, the Canadian Press and how literally everything about you is being used by social media to exploit you.

That sounds harsh – it just happen to be true.

Lets start with the Canadian Press: they are a Canadian national news agency headquartered in Toronto. Established in 1917 as a vehicle for Canadian newspapers to exchange news and information,

The article below, written by Tara Deschamps who is employed by the Canadian Press, sets out th explain what social media is doing to us.  She begins with:

It knows when you’ve been online shopping, the last time you worked out and whether you’ve been lurking on your ex’s profile.

Meta’s new social media platform Threads is gobbling up massive amounts of sensitive data on its 100 million users and counting.

The specificity and quantity of information the text and multimedia platform can access poses a risk to most users, if it falls into the wrong hands or is used to target them, tech experts agree.

Claudette McGowan CEO, Protexxa Claudette McGowan is a global information technology leader with more than 20 years of success leading digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure and designing new approaches that improve service and cybersecurity experiences. She has worked in the technology industry for several organizations such as Deloitte, Metropolitan Police Services, North York General Hospital, Bank of Montreal and TD Bank.

“This is a hacker’s dream,” said Claudette McGowan, a longtime banking executive who founded Protexxa, a Toronto-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to rapidly identify and resolve cyber issues for employees.

“The more data you have sitting in a certain position (or) spot is going to get people really, really excited about getting access to it and being very creative about it.”

Threads falls under Meta’s wider privacy policy that covers its other social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. That policy details how Meta captures everything from the information you give it when you sign up for accounts, to what you click on or like, who you befriend online and what kind of phone, computer or tablet you use to access its products.

Meta is the company that owns Facebook and Instagram and recently launched Threads, an application that compete with Twitter.

It also keeps tabs on what you’re doing on your device, like whether the app is in the foreground or if your mouse is moving, messages you send and receive and details on purchases you make, including credit card information.

Threads also has its own supplemental privacy policy, which says “we collect information about your activity on Threads, including the content you create, the types of content you view or interact with and how you interact with it, metadata about your content, the Threads features you use and how you use them, the hashtags you use, and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities on Threads.”

The privacy policy Threads has embedded in Apple’s app store shows it may collect, and link to your identity, data including your health and fitness, financial, browsing history, location and contact information, along with the broad category of “sensitive information.”

“It looks to me like it is a grab bag or a drift-net approach,” said Brett Caraway, a professor of media economics at the University of Toronto.
 That approach is not unusual for social media services or other apps. It’s become “standard repertoire” for such companies to broker access to as much data as possible, he said.

TikTok is a popular social media app that allows users to create, watch, and share 15-second videos shot on mobile devices or webcams.  The app was launched in 2016 by the Chinese technology company ByteDance.  The Canadian government banned TikTok on all government-issued mobile devices in late February, citing serious privacy and security risks for users.

Music-centric social media app TikTok, for example, collects usernames, passwords, dates of birth, email addresses, telephone number, information disclosed in user profiles, photographs and videos. It also grabs preferences you set, content you upload, comments you make, websites you’ve visited, apps you’ve downloaded and purchases you have made.

Screen resolution, keystroke patterns, battery levels, audio settings and “your approximate location, including location information based on your SIM card and/or IP address” are also scooped up by TikTok.

Caraway often hears from students who wonder why they should care if social media companies access their data because they’re not high-profile and don’t use such apps for controversial activities.

“Just because you’re safe today doesn’t mean you’re safe tomorrow,” Caraway argues.

“We’re certainly seeing a situation in the U.S. where certain marginalized populations are under attack, at least rhetorically and sometimes legally, and you might find yourself as part of one of those marginalized populations.”

Regardless of what you do on social media, Caraway said these companies leave users “not in the position to bargain.”

“You just have to take what the platform gives you.”

Asked about the app’s privacy concerns, Meta referred The Canadian Press to Threads posts from its chief privacy officer Rob Sherman, where he argued its privacy measures “are similar to the rest of our social apps, including Instagram, in that our apps receive whatever information you share in the app — including the categories of data listed in the App Store.”

“People can choose to share different kinds of data,” he wrote.

Before signing up for Threads or any other service, McGowan recommends people go beyond a cursory glance at the privacy policy they are agreeing to and read it more thoroughly with how the data could be used in mind.

“People just don’t understand the value of the data,” said McGowan.

“They become the product. Things are being monetized that they don’t even envision and they’re thinking they’re making decisions and formulating opinions that really are being formed and decided for them.”

She also advises people to consider a company’s history.

“Do they have a track record of handling sensitive information with care?” she questioned.

“Do they have a track record of being transparent and open and honest with their user community?”

How dangerous can social media be ? In 2018 Facebook gave an application developer access to the personal information of about 87 million users; that personal info was used to target U.S. voters during the country’s presidential election that ended with Donald Trump in power.

In the case of Threads, its parent company Meta was infamously ensnared in privacy concerns in 2018, when it was revealed that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica paid a Facebook app developer for access to the personal information of about 87 million users.

The personal info was used to target U.S. voters during the country’s presidential election that ended with Donald Trump in power.

Threads has yet to launch in European Union, which has strict data privacy rules.

“We would have liked to offer Threads in the EU at the same time as other markets, and the app does meet General Data Protection Regulation requirements today,” Sherman has said on Threads.

“But building this offering against the backdrop of other regulatory requirements that have not yet been clarified would potentially take a lot longer, and in the face of this uncertainty, we prioritized offering this new product to as many people as possible.”

This is what social media could be – without some form of government intervention it has become dangerous,

If you’re having second thoughts about an account you’ve signed up for in light of such developments, most services offer tools that help you adjust settings, limiting access to some of your personal information.

“And you always have the option to disconnect,” McGowan added.

However, to dump your Threads profile, which is embedded in Instagram, you must also delete your Instagram account.

Canadian Press advised readers that Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.

 

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How To Recognize A Scam Online

By Tonisha Parra

July 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The digital age has been a wild west of online crime, with new scams popping up every day. Emails, phone calls, text messages, and even ads on social media can be disguised attempts to trick you out of your personal details (and your money). Our best weapon against this sea of scammers is a solid understanding of cyber security, and the ability to design and implement our own cyber security strategies.

But what is cyber security? It’s safe to say that cyber security is still a new word to most of us. So knowing whether or not you’re actually safe online can come with a bit of a learning curve.

Thankfully, it is easier to engage with the basics of cyber security. And that’s usually all that most everyday web users need.

To help out, we’ll be outlining some great ways to recognise potential scams online, and what to do if you ever come across something a little dubious online.

Read on to learn how to recognize a scam online:

If you don’t recognize the email sender – best not to open it.

Check the sender
Don’t click the links
Take your time
Look for bad grammar
Is the price too good to be true?
Don’t take your boss’ word for it
Report fraud wherever possible

1. Check the sender
When you get an odd text asking for your bank details, postage address, or any other tidbits of personal info, the easiest thing to do is just look to see if they’ve messaged you before. With emails, you should also always look at the sender’s email address in full. Most spammers and scammers can’t get at official email addresses, so their best is something that appears as legitimate but on second glance, is definitely not.

For example, @google.com may become @ongoogle.com, or @googlo.com, or simply complete gibberish. Or your sender could have a company name for their email address but could be emailing from a generic @gmail.com or @outlook.com account, rather than from a company email.

Taking a closer look at the sender’s name, or using an email checker is always a good first step towards ascertaining the reliability of a message. But it’s not foolproof! Remember that even a legitimate address can be hacked or spoofed.

2. Don’t click the links
If you’re an avid online shopper like me, chances are your inbox is filled with completely innocuous emails. These are things like shipping updates, or news alerts – messages that have no intention of gathering your personal info. But even seemingly harmless messages can be a front for a devilish hyperlink.

Absent-mindedly clicking on a hyperlink could easily take you to a site that looks like an exact copy of Facebook, or anything else, that then asks you to login and confirm some details. The safest tactic is to avoid clicking on any link unnecessarily, and to just complete actions independently and through your own browser.

And if you do find a site you’re uncertain of, look for “https” (or the padlock symbol) in the URL bar of the pages you visit. The S stands for secure, and the padlock symbol also denotes a website with a secure SSL certificate.

3. Take your time
The best thing you can do for a scammer is to take things at face value. Scammers are masters at taking people by surprise, so it’s always better to maintain vigilance when assessing any digital communications.

Of course, staying vigilant and thinking critically about any message your way requires a little time to process what you’re reading. So scammers will also often try to put you under time pressure, just to ensure you don’t have the opportunity to think.

Scammers will often insert a call to action to get you to gloss over the less-than-reputable details in their communications. Phrases like Respond immediately, or your package will return to the depot. But how often does your bank, your mail service, or anything else online ask you for immediate action? Many institutions still run on snail mail, so half a minute of thought never hurts. Simply put, be wary of anybody asking you to ‘take action now’, because chances are they’re only requesting this urgency to lure you into a trap.

4. Look for bad grammar
Oddly enough, some scammers will purposefully add spelling mistakes and the like to their messages. They do this to filter out the keen-eyed readers, who will make for hard targets, allowing for them to focus on the more forgiving and innocent victims. It’s a cruel practice, but an effective one, especially if you’re tired. Whenever you see a misspelling, forgotten punctuation or notice strange wording from a supposed professional, you can bet it’s a scam – after all, reputable businesses triple check messages before sending them out.

And in some instances, scammers simply make mistakes. If you do find any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in messages that are supposedly from your bank, your school, or your local toll road service, then chances are it’s not from these bodies at all. It could easily just be an offshore scammer masquerading as these legitimate agencies.

5. Is the price too good to be true?
Finding a killer deal online is thrilling. And even when there’s no way they’re selling clothes, plane tickets, or a puppy for that price, you want to believe it, don’t you? That’s the very feeling digital thieves are trying to capitalize on.

But if the photos look unoriginal (try right-clicking, and “Search image with Google”), the site is new to you, or the details are strangely vague, then think again. It’s always best to do your due diligence when examining any offer online. Be sure to search for reviews and read through forums on other websites, just to see if people have been negatively affected by these offers, or the figure advertising these offers, in the past.

You should also ask for more details from the seller, and check whether the payment options are secure. PayPal, banks, and your credit cards will fight tooth and nail to keep from being ripped off.

6. Don’t take your boss’ word for it
One slimy trick is to find the names of business owners and their employees online, then pose as the employer to ask for a favor. Beware of messages that look just like this one:
Hey, Alex, we’ve got a client meeting in an hour, can you pick up $500 worth of Apple iTunes cards and send through the codes right quick, and I’ll pay you back after? Best, Joe Ceo.

You might not think that internet criminals would notice your small town medical practice, or target you at your accounting firm, but a specific target means they can trick you with real details. And real details will always increase their chances of success. Don’t let them win.

Be sure to ask for a phone call from ‘your boss’ or an email to confirm details. Chances are the scammer won’t be able to rise to this challenge and will move on to a more gullible target.

7. Report fraud whenever possible

Finally, even if you don’t fall victim to a cyber attack, it’s always best to report any cases you come across to your local cyber security authorities. One in twenty people will put in the time to report attempted fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or other digital crimes to the Canadian Center for Cyber Security. This number needs to increase. By reporting to these security agencies, you can aid and inform their work, which will ensure these bodies are better equipped to respond to security threats as they happen.

Your report can help prevent future cases, protecting your friends, neighbors, and all your fellow Canadian netizens. And if it’s only a minor incident or just a stray spam text, you can easily add a comment or a vote to online safety sites like spamcalls.net.

Remember – a cautious person is a scam artist’s worst enemy. So look closely, check with others, and hold your personal details close to your chest when accessing the web.

Every second spent learning and researching online, cripples your risk of being cheated out of your data and perhaps even your money. In short, a considerate approach to your cyber security is the most fierce protector you can have against online scams.

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Scum scammers have come up with yet another new angle

By Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How could I not click on this? Doesn’t everyone think there is a long lost relative out there looking for me to claim what is mine?

This is what I got this morning.

Attn: Sir/Madam,
Greetings to you. There was a recent search conducted in our firm and your Surname / Last Name matched one of our deceased clients’ details.
Kindly get back to me with your full names to my private email: dr.andybailey@c2.hu confirm If you are the beneficiary prior to providing you with further communications.
Thank you.
Dr. Andrew Bailey

I decided to take a pass and save the little I have for a rainy day

The sum scammers are out there – they never quit – basically because there are still hundreds of foolish people who think that what looks to be unbelievable luck is just unbelievable.

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Lightening the burden: government can act on commitment to increase the insured mortgage cut-off to $1.25M; index it to inflation

By Staff

July 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the wake of a tenth interest rate hike, which brought the Bank of Canada’s policy interest rate to 5% on Wednesday, six major banks have pushed their prime rate up by 25 basis points, bringing it to 7.2% — the highest level since March 2001.

The Wednesday hike also means that variable-rate mortgage holders and anyone with a home equity line of credit should brace for higher monthly payments.

According to calculations for Ontario provided by Ratehub.ca, based on the average home price reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association in June, a homeowner putting 10% down on a $928,897 home with a five-year variable rate will now see their rate increase to 6.05% (amortized over 25 years) and their monthly payment will increase to $5,540. In other words, that homeowner will now need to shell out $127 more in monthly mortgage payments and $1,524 more per year than they would have with the benchmark rate at 4.75%.

The hike doubles down on the affordability woes that are increasingly pushing Canadians out of the homeownership market.

“This could very well be the straw that breaks many borrowers’ backs,” Lauren van den Berg, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Prior to today’s rate hike, the cost of mortgage borrowing had already increased close to 70% since the Bank of Canada’s initial increase last March.”

As such, borrowers are already struggling to make ends meet, with three-quarters of variable-rate mortgages already at their trigger rate — and that was before June’s increase — according to a recent report from Desjardins.

While fixed-rate borrowers may be safe from the mounting rate pain for the time being, Victor Tran, mortgage and real estate expert with RATESDOTCA, stresses that those borrowers will now renew into higher rates.

“I mean, the fixed rates have been on the rise for the past month now,” he adds. “Rates haven’t been this high in over 16 years.”

In light of the new rate realities, mortgage professionals are urging borrowers up for renewal in the coming months to shop around before settling on a lender. The same goes for prospective borrowers.

“Up until about maybe last year, the rate difference between, let’s say Scotia, RBC, BMO, wasn’t a whole lot. We’re talking about 0.1%, 0.2%,” says Tran. “But I find now there’s a much larger difference — as much as a quarter percent or even half a percent difference. That can be quite significant in terms of interest savings.”
As well, says James Laird, Co-CEO of Ratehub.ca, homeowners should lock in a rate well before it’s time to renew.

“If your mortgage is up for renewal within the next year, it’s a good idea to hold a rate with a new lender now,” he says, adding that pre-approval allows Canadians to hold today’s fixed rates for up to 120 days. “If rates jump up further in the future, it should make sense to break your existing mortgage and switch to that new lender before your rate hold expires to lock in the lower rate.”

But thinking bigger picture, van den Berg calls for “a clear policy response from decision-makers” to address housing affordability — one that extends beyond monetary policy.

“The federal government could introduce a return to 30-year amortization periods for insured mortgages. It could also eliminate the stress test on mortgage transfers, switches, and renewals to help Canadians find the financing solutions that best fit their budget,” she says.

“Finally, the government can act on its commitment to increase the insured mortgage cut-off from $1M to $1.25M, and index it to inflation to better reflect today’s housing prices. A permanent National Housing Round Table comprised of these groups, established by the federal government, could also help ensure effective action.

We need all governments to work together, along with industry and civil society to help keep the dream of home ownership alive in Canada.”

Republished from Storeys, the online platform for all your real estate news.  Featuring insights from industry insiders, on-the-ground realtors, experienced brokers, and market heavyweights, STOREYS provides first-time homebuyers, seasoned investors, and avid real estate readers alike with the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions.  Click HERE for more

 

 

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$50,000 to figure out if we can afford free transit for everyone every day

By Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Councillor Paul Sharman: His Staff Direction stunned many.

During discussion of the free transit program that was before Counci,l Councillor Sharman stunned his colleagues when he put forward the following Staff Direction

Direct the Director of Transit to report back to the Sept. 12 CPRM meeting with information/data on ridership, as a result of:

• free transit for seniors;
• free transit for youth;
• SPLIT Pass ridership (all age groups); and
Provide cost estimates and implementation recommendations for free transit for youth — all day, every day; and
Direct the Director of Transit to investigate offering free transit for all. This would include a detailed analysis of:
• Budget impacts and 10-year forecast for both Operating Budget and Capital Budget;
• Impacts to transit service and service requirements for a successful rollout. To include resourcing, assets (conventional and specialized);
• PRESTO contract and fare integration impacts;
• Gas tax impacts;
• Regional Transit Operationalization impacts;
• Benefits for free transit including environmental, economic;
• Risks of free transit to City’s financial sustainability and service impacts and expansion;
• Impacts to specialized transit;
• Potential funding sources; and

Report back to Committee by Q4 2024; and

Authorize the Chief Financial Officer to transfer $50,000 from the Provincial Gas Tax Reserve Fund to retain a consultant to undertake this review.

Councillor Sharman: Up to a bit of mischief?

Councillor Sharman has always looked for data – the more the better. When he was putting forward his Staff Directions he gave no philosophical argument or a detailed rationale for his decision, which he has been want to do in the past.

Was it the realization that Climate Warming was a threat that has to be faced? Sharman was never a transit advocate – all he could see was big empty buses going by his house – and making too much noise to boot.

He will eventually have the data he needs – and the decision, for Sharman at least, will be revealed in that data.

What Sharman is really up against however is a population that just does not want to give up their cars and the freedom to go where they want when they want. Electrical vehicles is something those people might consider – but giving up their cars – that mind change hasn’t even begun in Burlington.

When the numbers are in – the city may find that it is something they just can’t afford.

There was once a meeting related to changing transit routes – mention was made of a change in the route in and around the Tansley Woods Community. There were several delegations from that community that tried to convince Council a  change wasn’t needed – most of the people in the community had cars, many with two vehicles and they didn’t want the noise or the fumes that came with diesel buses.

If the City is going to go free transit – will it be in a position to afford an all electric fleet ?

Sharman should, and probably does know that data is a part of the solution – changing minds is a totally different matter.

The skills to pull something like that are not what we have seen from Sharman in the past.

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Niagara-bound traffic on QEW Burlington Skyway open this weekend.

By Staff

July14th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Niagara-bound traffic on the QEW Burlington Skyway is open this weekend.

Travellers can visit http://511on.ca/ or @511Ontario for updates on work and traffic impacts.

Access to the on ramp for Niagara bound traffic is open this weekend.

 

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Who got Neighbourhood Community Matching Funds

By Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City announced the 2023 recipients of the Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund (NCMF).

It was a number of years ago but these four lads, working with their parents got funding to improve the ball diamond at the park next to their school.

The fund was created to inspire Burlington residents to actively champion projects in the community to improve, build and strengthen the social contract and enhance the quality of life for everyone.

Bringing neighbourhoods and communities together to make new connections and create a sense of belonging is just as important as the project itself.

The funds objectives are:

  • Improve, build and strengthen Burlington neighbourhoods
  • Create a greater sense of belonging
  • Foster individual well-being and community pride
  • Inspire residents to become more actively involved in the community
  • Build stronger relationships

Public Pollinator Garden ($3,640)

This project aims to create a public pollinator garden at Port Nelson United Church. The pollinator garden will provide a safe and nurturing environment for pollinators while enhancing the beauty of the area.

Burlington Tennis Club ($5,000)

This project aims to install and provide outdoor public Wi-Fi and web cameras in the west end of Central Park, near the Burlington Tennis Club.

Sycamore Park Neighbours ($9,981)

This project aims to build a bumping space within Sycamore Park in the Palmer community. Bumping spaces are places where people can “bump” into neighbours. It allows informal interactions with community members, meet-ups with friends and forming friendships and connections. The project includes three round metal picnic tables, one of which will be accessible for those who use wheelchairs, and a sensory garden. Sensory gardens are intended to stimulate sight, sound and touch.

On balance this is a good program.  On occasion a bit too much goes to well established community groups but on occasation the department takes a chance on something different – the bumping stations could be interesting.

For more information on the Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund, visit burlington.ca/matchingfund.

 

 

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Policy document now a bylaw that is very restrictive was passed without a word from Staff explaining need for a change

By Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Friday is usually the day the governments issue the bad news. They are particular good at it on long weekend holidays.

Today, the Gazette wants to share with you, the bad news that got dumped on you by your city council earlier in the week.

It started with an inflammatory statement put out by the Mayor as her idea of a justification for a Policy document reports. She stated that people elected to public office and staff were not “punching bags”.

Council passed Public Conduct Policy and Trespass Bylaw without and public presentation by which we mean no one spoke to Council on what the policy means and why it has been put in place. All the public learned was that while the report came from the Office of the City Clerk, the work was done by a Staff member in the legal department.

It gets worse. Other than the Mayor and Councillor Nisan, who made a comments the public didn’t hear a word from the people you elected tooffice

What’s the big deal you might ask. Some people do treat city hall staff in a manner that is not acceptable. People get angry when they don’t like the way they feel they have been treated.

There are occasions when a persons behaviour is not acceptable. On the left, former Mayor Rick Goldring, on the right, stood mute as a citizen berated him.  On the right; a parent trying to make a point with a School Board Superintendent.

Those situations can be handled.

The policy document is 13 pages long. The average person is not going to spend the time to read a complex document of that length. However, its application applies to everyone.

This policy applies to:
(a) all persons in attendance on or at any and all City of Burlington properties, facilities, or programs, including any City of Burlington transit vehicles; and

(b) all persons interacting with City of Burlington staff, volunteers, Members of Council, or members of the public in any manner, including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:
(i) public meetings;
(ii) written communications;
(iii) telephone communications;
(iv) in-person communications;
(v) electronic communications, including e-mail, text message, and social media;
(vi) at City owned property, parks, and facilities; and/or
(vii) at non-City owned property, when interacting with City staff.

Set out below are two examples that we hope will make the point as to how dangerous the bylaw is.

Harassment
We know a citizen who is particularly good at ferreting information out of city hall Staff members. She is widely known; she has made significant contributions to the development of citizen participation.

She would call someone in the Planning department and get what she believes is part of the story; then she will call another department and, based on what she is has learned, ask additional questions. She usually comes away with the understanding she was looking for. Sometimes she shares what she has learned, other time – she doesn’t.

With the follow in the by law:

Definition and Examples of Misconduct
The term “misconduct” as utilized in this policy applies to a range of inappropriate behaviour from disruptive conduct, such as frequent unreasonable demands or requests by a customer …”

Conduct that is designed to embarrass or annoy the recipient, or is part of a pattern of conduct by an individual that amounts to an abuse of a City process or service;
All too frequently city hall is less than forth coming with details on issues reasonable, informed people question.

The Policy document provides the following
Examples of what might be considered misconduct are shown below. The list is not exhaustive, nor does one single feature on its own necessarily imply that the behaviour constitutes misconduct when all of the facts and surrounding context are considered. Examples of possible misconduct include:

• making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff with lengthy phone calls, emails to numerous staff, or detailed letters every few days, and expecting immediate responses;
Another part of the policy that concerns the Gazette

• covertly recording meetings and conversations;

• photographing, filming or recording patrons, volunteers or staff without their express written consent or knowledge or without the permission of City staff;

These photographs were captured by the Gazette from council meetings.

From the left: Councillors Sharman, Nisan and Kearns.

The Gazette monitors most of the Council and Standing Committee meetings. These are public meetings.

When reporting on those meeting we use capture images from the public meeting which we include in the articles we publish.  CHCH has in the past shown up at a council meeting and records parts of a Council meeting for broadcast.

The policy is so restrictive and is not supported by anything in the way of facts and data.

Anne Marsden delegating at City Council

In a delegation made by Anne Marsden, an individual who has been restricted in her attendance at city hall for a period of one year fully understands what this policy means. In her delegation she said:

“These comments from our Mayor are improper without statistical back up and should not be acceptable to any member of our council voting to adopt this by-law without such statistical back up.

“Why the rush for this by-law. A rush that sees no staff presentation from the “lawyer” who took on the responsibility of producing such without any public engagement to explain why it is needed. We do not see any listing of incidents where the issuing of a trespass letter was necessary, and we all know the city like any other property owner has the ability to issue trespass letters with or without this by-law, whether they are deserved or not.

“How many incidents have there been since the Recreation Department Corporate Policy this by-law replaces and has been waiting for review since December 2020 for such to protect Recreation Staff, public and volunteers from those who are deemed to display offensive behaviour in our community recreation programmes.?

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CALL FOR LOCAL ARTISTS FOR ON CULTURE DAYS’ -‘LIVE & LOCAL’ ARTIST SHOWCASE

By Staff

July 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre (‘BPAC’) is seeking local performance-based artists and collectives to participate in our 2023 Culture Days ‘Live & Local’ Artist Showcase on Saturday, September 23rd at BPAC.

Selected artists will also be considered for participation in BPAC’s 23/24 Season ‘Live & Local’ Series.  This call is open to all Burlington-based artists, in any performing arts discipline.  This includes, but is not limited to, music (all genres), dance, theatre, comedy and family entertainment.

Burlington-area emerging, community-based artists are invited to apply, and we encourage applications from Indigenous, equity-seeking and racialized communities.  The creation of BPAC’s Live & Local Artist Development Initiative program is intended to support local artists and to connect artists and the community through activation, engagement and presentation opportunities.

Applicants should be Burlington-based or strongly affiliated with the City.  Examples would include artists who work, live or go to school within the City, or who are connected to the Indigenous heritage of the land.

Applications are now being accepted. Deadline for submission is Friday, August 4th, 2023.

The application form can be accessed HERE

‘LIVE & LOCAL’ ARTIST SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  • What is your performing arts discipline? (Music, Singing, Dance, Theatre, Drama, etc.)
  • Provide a list of past performances in the Burlington area (indicate paid or volunteer)
  • Describe your artistic goals and how the LIVE & LOCAL program could contribute to your success as an emerging artist (Max. 100 words).
  • Supporting Materials – Please provide two (2) digital samples of your work and website link.

Artists will be provided with an honorarium and technical support.  Showcase performances will be approximately 30 minutes in length each, and BPAC staff will determine which venue is most suitable for your showcase performance (Community Studio Theatre, Main Theatre, Family Lobby or Outdoor Plaza).

BPAC’s Live & Local Series is generously sponsored by Daniel Durst of Desjardins Insurance.

 

 

 

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Asking rents in Canada hitting a record high of $2,042 in June

By Staff

July 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The latest National Rent Report has average surpassing the November record of $2,024 by 0.9 per cent, according to the Rentals.ca and Urbanation latest National Rent Report.*

Average rents for all property types in Canada on the Rentals.ca Network have increased 20 per cent, or by an average of $341 per month over the last two years.

Average rents were up 1.4 per cent from May to June, representing the largest month-over-month rise this year, while annually average rents increased 7.5 per cent.

There are all kinds of apartments to rent – they just aren’t affordable.

Oakville was the only suburb in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with average rent ($3,230) more expensive than Toronto ($2,813) in June for purpose-built and condominium apartments and continued to be the country’s most expensive midsize market for renters.

Nine other GTA cities and areas were among 25 mid-sized markets in Canada; Burlington, up 14.7 per cent to $2,561 and Etobicoke, up 14.2 per cent to $2,630.

Ontario continues to have the second highest average rents for purpose-built and condominium apartments. In June, average annual rents were up 9.3 per cent in Ontario to $2,415.

The traditional explanation for this kind of economic behaviour is that of supply and demand.  The real driving force is sheer greed; the greedy would call that making hay when the sun shines.

 

 

 

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Take in a Blue Jays Game, sit in great seat - support a great cause

By Staff

July 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Move quickly for this one. And be generous – the funds are going to a really good cause.

Thanks to the generous support from Route 56 General Contracting, Community Living Burlington went live with another online Blue Jays auction earlier this week.

They are excited to offer the opportunity to watch the San Diego Padres at the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, July 19 at 7:07 pm. Tickets are located in the TD Clubhouse – Section 226, Row 8.

The experience comes with in seat service, a private entrance and a beautiful lounge to enjoy drinks and food before and during the game. The gate opens 90 minutes prior to the game. (Food and beverages are not included but can be purchased in the lounge).

Arrive early on July 19th to get a “We’re Here” Welcome Mat (limited mats are available upon entry).
Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity! Place your bid HERE

Bidding closes at 5:00 pm, Saturday, July 15th. The winner will be contacted then.

If you have any questions, please email fundraising@clburlington.ca

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Ground floor at city hall now open - looks Ok

By Pepper Parr

July 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The renovations to the inside of city hall are complete and you can now walk in and interact with people.

The ground floor appears more spacious and is certainly more than a step away from the faded somewhat dowdy look most people were familiar with.

Looking towards the Brant Street entrance

Passageway leading to the service areas – Locust street entrance to the left

The city held something in the way of an Official opening; there were blue and yellow balloons strewn around and some picture on easels that displayed that the city hall area used to look like.

There is much more space for people to meet, a large television screen – it seems to be stuck on the city web site page. Wonder what running a soccer match would do to any sense of vibrancy.

The upgrade wasn’t intended to make the place a comfortable spot to meet up with a friend. It’s a place of business and on that level it works jut fine.

Give it six months to get a full sense of what we have.

The City Administration decision to have staff working as both full time at the office and full time at home – with variations on that theme has reduced the demand for space.

A consensus on just how well this approach will work out long term and the impact it will have on the efficiency and productivity isn’t in yet.

 

Building permit applications and the more technical matters get dealt with at these counters. S significant improvement over the dingy space they had in the lower level.

 

Pay your parking tickets, counters you can work at standing.

A seating area where staff can come to the lobby and meet with residents.

Stairway leading to the City Council Chamber on the second floor. Significant changes made to that area as well.

As the city grows, the administration and technical people needed to keep the wheels going round will increase. Is City Hall is as it exists now going to be able to accommodate the growth? There isn’t a consensus on that either.

Next step: Redesigning Civic Square which hopefully will include a change to this 50’s look that serves as the entrance to city hall. A former Director of Planning for the City once called the structure “iconic”.

Meanwhile, the ground floor of City Hall looks just fine. No word yet and just how much it cost to get what we now have.

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There is no reward and it is not a marketing survey - its an attempt to access your bank account

By Staff

July 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The scam scum never quite.

Basically because thousands of people don’t think before the CLICK.

This one is a blatant attempt to get information from you.

Don’t fail for it.

 

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A Look at Burlington Area's Top Sports Venues and Facilities

By Dannielle Cousland

July 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Ontario area is an excellent place for sports fans. It has many professional sports teams and lots of people who love sports. Burlington, Ontario, is one of these places. It has some top sports spots where people can watch or play different sports. From cycling and soccer to golf and football, these places have seen many sports events and helped local athletes improve their skills.

These sports places in Burlington are not just for athletes, though. They’re also for everyone in the community who wants to get moving, stay fit, and have fun.

For those fans who desire to take their love for games up a notch, exploring the betting options here at Cloudbet can add an exciting dimension to the experience.

Thousands of people use the Velodrome as their base when they bike through the hundreds of miles of country roads. The facility has bicycle storage space as well.

The Mattamy National Cycling Centre

The Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, Ontario, distinguishes itself as a paramount track cycling facility. Established for the 2015 Pan American Games, the Centre stands as Canada’s first-ever indoor velodrome following the UCI regulations and the second such facility in North America, joining the prestigious ranks of the VELO Sports Center in Los Angeles.

The indoor cycling arena sports a 250-meter timber track incorporating two high banks angled at 42 degrees.

Originally, the Velodrome hosted 2,500 spectators during the games. Post-event, it transformed into a home base for Cycling Canada’s national track cycling program, reducing its seating capacity to 1,500.

Supplementing the cycling track, the facility integrates a diverse recreational space, including a fully-equipped cardio and strength training fitness centre, a group fitness studio, a 300-meter walking/jogging track, and three courts dedicated to volleyball, basketball, and badminton.

Glen Abbey Golf Club

Public golfers and ClubLink members can avail themselves of the world-class facilities at Glen Abbey Golf Club, a renowned golfing destination since the turn of the millennium. This exceptional venue has witnessed unforgettable moments, including Tiger Woods’ shot of the year from a fairway bunker on the 72nd hole of the Canadian Open in 2000, leading to his victory by a single stroke.

A Jack Nicklaus design – a place where Tiger Woods played some of his best ever golf.

Glen Abbey made headlines in 2009 as the 25th RBC Canadian Open host. This landmark event marked the 100th playing of Canada’s national championship, further cementing the Club’s status in the annals of PGA Tour events.

Oakville Soccer Club

Awarded Ontario Soccer’s Gold Standard for Club Excellence

Founded in 1972, the Oakville Soccer Club has become Canada’s largest amateur soccer club. It boasts a thriving community of over 19,000 participants and over 900 volunteer and professional coaches. The Club operates from a sprawling 100,000-square-foot indoor soccer facility on Pine Glen Road in North Oakville.

Recognizing its high standards, the Oakville Soccer Club was awarded Ontario Soccer’s Gold Standard for Club Excellence and the Genworth Community Builder of the Year Award at the 2018 Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.

Nelson Stadium

Nelson Stadium, an outdoor sports facility in Burlington, Ontario, offers a multifaceted venue for sports enthusiasts. The stadium is operated by Nelson High School and owned by the Halton District School Board and accommodates up to 1,500 spectators.

Final Thoughts

Burlington and the surrounding communities truly shines as a sports destination. The top-notch facilities offer an impressive variety of opportunities for sports lovers. Not only do these venues stage exciting events and competitions, but they also contribute to the local community by encouraging everyone to stay active and enjoy sports.

 

 

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City is looking at land they might want to buy

By Staff

July 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After an hour and three quarters Council moved into a CLOSED session to hear a Staff verbal update on an HR matter relating to an identifiable individual and a staff behaviour investigation.

There was a second matter regarding a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality

Behaviour problems are always heard in CLOSED sessions. The public seldom hears whatever decision was arrived at.

On land matters, City Manager Tim Commisso is on the prowl for any land he thinks the city can get its hands on. He knows the city needs more housing and he wants to buy land that can be developed. No necessarily by the city.

Earlier in the meeting Council was made aware of a Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) fund that was measured in the billions of dollars that would be available for housing initiatives.

Council was told that the applications are complex but that Helen Wallahura was working on funding applications.

We cover that in a seperate story.

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The Swan was one of two short stories given first place in the Write Hear. Write Now 18+ category

By Staff

July 11th 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Write Here. Write now contest received an incredible number of entries this year—they doubled last year’s total!  The creators ranged in age from 10 all the way up to 93.

The Gazette is publishing the two winners in the short story 18+ category.  The first is below, the other will follow later in the week.

The winners in each category are:

Poetry

10-12: Kayla Gareau, Dream experts, Dream catchers, Dream chasers

13-17: Griffin Dekker, Beginning of an End

18+: Denny Williams, Reflections on pet ownership

Short Stories

10-12: Avery Parkes, Ali in Winterland

13-17: Mia Greene, Nefelibata

18+: Jennifer Filipowicz, The Swan and Gregory Blount, Cooper Falls

Comics

10-12: Brody Hanks, Muffinhead and Bagel-Brain

13-17: Ali Thompson, The Duck

18+: Dominique Bowler-Brown, Elephant Bones

The Swan by Jennifer Filipowicz

“Don’t touch that.”

Jayda pulled her hand away instantly, as thought her mother’s voice had the power to move her like a marionette. Still the dead swan beckoned, as pristine as it had been in life, and Jayda felt a desperate urge to stroke its pure white feathers. She watched out of the corner of her eye until her mother’s attention was diverted to the windsurfers sailing across Burlington Bay, then Jayda reached out and stroked the twisted neck.

The swan was beautiful, like snow white in her coffin, and like the handsome prince, Jayda kissed the majestic dead bird on its black beak, just below its vacant staring eye.

“Jayda!”

“I was just pretending,” Jayda said, the coolness of the beak still on her lips.

Mom rummaged in her beach bag, pulled out a package of disinfectant wipes and frantically wiped Jayda’s face and hands. “We don’t know how the swan died,” Mom said. “It might have a disease.”

“It doesn’t look sick,” Jayda said. “Just dead.” “We don’t know, so we don’t touch it just in case.”

Jayda nodded solemnly. “Can I keep a feather as a souvenir?” Jayda yanked out a tail feather from the corpse and held it up.

“Jayda,” Mom answered neutrally.

Jayda brushed the soft feather across her face. A man wearing swim trunks walked his golden retriever along the beach. The dog lunged toward the dead swan, causing the man great physical exertion as he held his companion back. Finally the man in the swim trunks successfully turned back the way he came. Jayda watched the dog gallop along the beach, then turned her attention back to the swan.

Suddenly she got a wonderful idea.

“Mom!” she exclaimed. “If we went and got my wagon we could take the swan with us!”

“No, Jayda,” Mom said, her voice tired.

“But it will look so nice in my room,” Jayda said. “And I won’t even touch it, just look.”

“It will rot.”

Jayda imagined the swan as its body shriveled, maggots eating holes in its flesh, until only a skeleton remained. “Neat.” “It will smell really bad.”

Jayda considered this. “Worse than Daddy’s feet?” “Infinitely worse.”

“The birds at the ROM don’t smell or rot.” “The museum birds are stuffed.”

“Can we–”

“No.”

Swan at the LaSalle Park waterfront

“You don’t know what I was asking.” “We can’t have this swan stuffed.” “Why not?”

“Because I don’t know a taxidermist.”

Jayda’s mother stared out over the water again, one of the windsurfers lost his balance and fell into the waves. His head popped up again and he held onto his board.

“Mom, what’s a taxidermist?”

“A person who stuffs dead animals.” “I want to be a taxidermist!”

“You can be anything you want to, Sweetie.”

“I have an idea!” Jayda said. “We can take the swan home and I can practice stuffing it!”

“No.”

“I’ll wear my paint smock, so I won’t get any blood on me.” “I’ll let you keep the feather,” Mom said.

“I can’t stuff a feather, Mom.”

“You can stuff things when you’re older.”

Jayda kicked at the sand so that beige and grey dust sprinkled over the swan corpse. Then she crouched down and brushed the sand away until the swan was pristine again. Her mother was ready with the wipes. “It’s time to go home,” Mom said.

They walked together along Burlington Beach to the playground near where their car was parked. Jayda glanced back at the swan, now a splotch of white in the distance.

“Mommy?”

“Yes, Jayda?”

“Can we come back every day to watch the swan rot?”

We tell our readers a little more about Jennifer Filipowicz later today

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Anne Marsden reads a blistering delegation into the record - against the Public Conduct Policy

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

From time to time citizens appear before Council and do delegations that need to be remembered.

Jim Young once told Council where the power they have comes from – it should been cast in stone. Memorable

Today Anne Marsden, with her husband standing beside her addressed Council, Here is what she had to say.

If City officials expended as much time and effort on promoting engagement with community groups as they do on silencing honest opposition we might actually have a more politically active populace rather than one where civic involvement is moribund, and the citizens are essentially kept in the dark. Stephen White, Burlington Gazette Comments re. Trespass By-law.

Stephen, a regular viewer of Council meetings comments frequently said he does not agree with what Mayor Meed Ward sees emanating from those who have appeared at this lectern with cameras rolling, that for some people, led to the issuing of a two year trespass letter.

Anne Marsden giving one of the most passionate delegations heard for some time – she was strongly opposed to the Public Conduct Policy which Council passed.

Meed Ward had said: “We wanted to put in place some formal policies if there ever is another time where we have to ban somebody from City Hall.

“It has happened in the past; people who have engaged in offensive, abusive, sexist behaviour, harassing behaviour. You know, I like to tell folks we’re elected officials. We’re not punching bags. Our staff are not punching bags, we’re not there for you to beat up on.”

These comments from our Mayor are improper without statistical back up and should not be acceptable to any member of our council voting to adopt this by-law without such statistical back up.

Why the rush for this by-law. A rush that sees no staff presentation from the “lawyer” who took on the responsibility of producing such without any public engagement to explain why it is needed. We do not see any listing of incidents where the issuing of a trespass letter was necessary, and we all know the city like any other property owner has the ability to issue trespass letters with or without this by-law, whether they are deserved or not.

How many incidents have there been since the Recreation Department Corporate Policy this by-law replaces and has been waiting for review since December 2020 for such to protect Recreation Staff, public and volunteers from those who are deemed to display offensive behaviour in our community recreation programmes.?

Further, were there any incidents relative to our Mayor or indeed any member of council or staff being used as a “punching bag”.

The Mayor’s comments regarding the necessity for this by-law at this time do not carry any weight without statistics to back them up. The Mayor’s strong powers allows her to set this bylaw down, in fact we are informed she must sign a paper to say she won’t do so to have this by-law come into effect. Members of Council, PLEASE, carefully consider what you are doing in voting to adopt this by-law. Councillor Stolte in particular suffered what many of us considered an unprecedented attack that saw her leave this chamber, but that attack did not come from this lectern.

Members of council please do not equate “truth that comes to you from this lectern” as offensive behaviour, that requires a trespass letter. It is simply citizens taking up their hard earned democratic right to tell you, they do not agree with you or the price is too high no matter how much they would like what you are considering. The 3 million dollars of hydro reserve going on the LaSalle “wave break” for example when we could have hydro issues down the road, that could well need that money to keep the lights on in Burlington.

Anne Marsden, reading her delegation into the record at a Council meeting.

Madam Mayor please do the right thing and allow concerned citizens of Burlington the opportunity to have conversations with the “lawyer” in-house or otherwise who seemingly lacks an interest in protecting those who pay the bills from being able to stand at this lectern and have respectable conversations with those who we have elected to make decisions on our behalf. An appeal process is not an appeal process unless it is adjudicated by a party who holds no allegiance to either party which is not the case in this by-law.

Give us the stats, let us have conversations with the by-law’s author “Ryan” whoever that is and then bring the by-law back. If and only if, our new head of legal, Blake Hurley is then willing to stand at this lectern and tell us it is necessary to protect our council or staff, not from democratically based criticism but from those things the Mayor listed off should this council go down this very slippery slope from which there is no return.

Waiting from December, 2020 when the corporate policy review was supposed to take place, until our head of legal retired prior to bringing this by-law to the Council table for a vote, speaks volumes with regard to our past Head of Legal’s position on such a by-law. We are quite sure it would never have got past her review.

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Council was mute when it came to passing the Public Conduct Policy bylaw but was surprisingly open when it came to a plan to make transit free

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a different City Council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Shawna Stolte chaired the City Council meeting this day.

The Mayor didn’t take part except for the several times she dropped in virtually.  Deputy Mayor Shawna Stolte had the gavel (no chain of office) and ran a different kind of meeting.

It was softer in a nice way – she was more gracious than Meed Ward usually is.  More empathetic and got through the event without a glitch.

She handled the delegations smoothly.

Council covered a very broad range of issues – we will cover is as much is as we can in the next few days.

Council basically agreed to work towards a transit service that will be free for everyone any time.  To the surprise of many, Councillor Sharman put out a Staff Direction that called for the collection of data that will be used to determine just what the cost is likely to be should all day free transit come to pass.

Councillor Sharman moved a Staff Direction that will pull together the data needed to determine just what free transit is going to cost.

Council was told of a CMHC funds that has billions to spend on housing initiatives.  We will report on that is as well.

On the negative side this Council went along with the passing of a bylaw that gives the city the power prevent a person from using city facilities.  They did this without is as much is as a single word from any Staff person explaining how they would do this – and worse still – without a single word from any member of Council – other than when they voted.

We will need to review the web cast to ensure that we are correct in saying that Mayor Meed Ward was did not vote – for the brief moments it took to tally the vote we don’t believe the Mayor was online. But we do need to confirm that.

Anne Marsden gave a blistering delegation on why Council should not do what it chose to do.

This is a matter that should be taken to the City Ombudsman.

 

 

 

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Totally free transit service for everyone?

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Doug Brown – a transit advocate has something to smile about.

Totally free transit service for everyone?

That is the Staff Direction put forward by Councillor Sharman put on the table; he wants a report early in 2024.

Sharman is the last person many  thought would put forward a Staff Direction like this.

It has been the wish of Mayor Meed Ward for some time and it would be a huge win for the Bfast people who have been sterling advocates for better transit service.

Sharman has always been a data hawk – he wants to see a lot of data before doing anything.

 

 

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Mayor unable to Chair City Council meeting

By Pepper Parr

June 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in her city hall office

Councillor Stolte is Chairing the meeting of Council.

Mayor sent her regrets and advised that she would take part virtually “when she is able”

Unusual procedure.

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