If the dog couldn’t find him – how are the rest of us going to be able to help? Police looking for help to find bank robber.

By Pepper Parr


January 20, 2014

Halton Regional Police have gone public with a request for help in catching the brazen bandit who got his year started off with a daring daylight bank hold up during which he got away with an amount of cash – police aren’t saying how much.

Police working with dog trying to pick up a scent outside the bank where the robber is believed to have fled. The dog did get a scent – but he never got the bank robber.

On Friday January 3rd, 2014, at approximately 1:30pm, a lone male entered the Bank of Montreal located at 519 Brant Street in the City of Burlington.

The suspect approached a bank teller, indicated he had a weapon and demanded cash.  The suspect was given a quantity of cash ran out the front door and ran up the northern side of the bank into the parking lot where he just disappeared.

The dog does what a dog has to do – before chasing after a bank robber.

Police brought in the canine unit – more than half an hour after the robbery, but they were unable to pick up a scent.

Police are now appealing to the public for whatever information they may have.

Suspect Description:

Male White
40-50 years of age
Approximately 6’2″ – 6’4″
Approximately 230-260lbs
Wearing a dark-colored coat and beige colored pants
Wearing a baseball cap with a toque over top
Dark sunglasses

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Constable Phil Vandenbeukel,  3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 ext 2313 or Detective John Ophoven, 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 ext 2343.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web  or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

Background links:

Police search for bank robber after a Friday afternoon heist.

Return to the Front page

Hive is beginning to buzz – city hasn’t done much to make the honey flow.

By Pepper Parr


January 17th, 2014

It was to be the focal point in the city for those doing cutting edge computer application work.  It was going to be the place where all those geeks that do those marvellous new applications would gather.  It was going to be the place where people could spend a couple of hours in an environment that had a bit of a buzz to it as well as a pace where the support needed was at your fingertips.

If the coffee doesn’t give you a jolt – that wall will.

It had a boffo opening night.  Everyone that mattered in the city was there along with more than enough in the way of photo ops to satisfy any politician.

The Mayor touts the operation every chance he gets.

Writing computer code is intense, creative work that the best coders need to get away from.  Ping pong table have always been a favourite.

Shaun Pennell put in hundreds of hours of work and close to $200,000 in capital costs just to get the doors open.

But it didn’t take off – it didn’t have one of those hockey stick shaped growth curves.  It is growing and it will grow and in time it will find its market but it has ben and is a grind.

A quiet corner where an individual can work alone or collaboratively with a small group.

It was a new idea – something different and Burlington doesn`t do different all that well.  While there are a number of top-notch, first-rate technology companies in the city, we really aren`t a technology ‘city.  It is going to take some time for the HiVE to take off commercially but Pennell knew that going in.  What he wanted to create was a place where those people doing that ground breaking work could come out of their basements and meet like-minded people.

Every new idea usually needs some level of support in the early days and Pennell thought the city would be involved in some way.  Pennell wasn`t looking for a hand out but he did think the city would be an early subscriber to the service.

Breakout space where people can relax, read or talk through a concept.

The HiVe is a place for people who are perhaps working at home and need a place for meetings that is a little more upscale than their kitchen table.  He put together a business model that allowed people to buy what they needed – and do so by becoming a HiVE subscriber.  For a couple of hundred a month a person got access to very well dressed out premises where they can work for a couple of hours and store their equipment in a locker or spend the fill day taking potential clients or investors through their work.

An entrepreneur who did his time in Silicon Valley and came home to help others do what he has done.

Pennell also hoped that a number of professionals who live in Burlington but work in Toronto might from time to time use the location as a Burlington office.

There was hope too that the city and the Economic Development Corporation might take out memberships and on those occasions when a client is in town meeting with the city or the economic development people and needed some time and a place to upgrade or revise a proposal they could skip over two blocks and load up a computer and make the changes they wanted to make and zip it back to city hall.

For some reason the city didn’t feel it could play favourites and take out a membership at the HiVe and not with anyone else.  There is no one else!   While Mayor Goldring uses every chance he gets to talk about the place a little support from the city would help – and the city would get excellent value for its membership. 

The city is looking into having the HiVe made a RIC – a Regional Innovation Centre, which would be close to a kiss of death.  The words “innovation” and municipal administration don’t exactly fit into the same sentence.  Innovation calls for risk – major risk and that is not what anyone wants a municipal administration to be doing.

Leave the entrepreneurs to themselves, don’t shackle them but where you can support them.  The province does it, the federal government has large funding operations that do just this.

The city of Burlington had an opportunity to spend a couple of hundred dollars to take out a membership and send people to the location.  The professionals that come to the city to do business want places like this – and there are some of them using the place now. Still time – do the right thing and promote the place.  It deserves the recognition.

See for yourself – the HiVe is located on Elizabeth – doors away from the Dickens, on the very edge of Village Square.

Perhaps the smallest film screening room in the province; a plus for those who work with visual material and want to demonstrate a feature to a small group of buyers.

The location isn’t just for the nerds or the professionals who need a place to get some work done.  Plans are underway for small cultural activities that will use the space on the weekends and in the evenings.  Sara C ollaton has organized a unique event that has a trained and accomplished artists working with a limited number of people on the same painting.  Well not exactly THE same painting – each aspiring artist will do their version of the same painting with guidance and direction from the visiting artist.  This first event is sold out – there will be others that we will tell you about.

Everything is supplied – clothing to keep the paint off those designer jeans, all the paint you are going to need – and if you’re of age – a glass of wine as well.

That’s my kind of entrepreneurship.

Return to the Front page

Burlington’s first film festival clears all the hurdles. SOLD OUT event that deserves a larger venue next year.

By Pepper Parr


January 20, 2014

There were twelve entrants to the Tottering Biped Film Short Film Festival.  They had a SOLD OUT night at the Burlington Art Centre.  The best thing to be said about the event is that it was a first for Burlington and that it took place.

The Art Centre put a lot of their resources behind the event providing the space, the printing and the framing of the Award certificates and selling the tickets.  They topped all this off with a $50 award to the winners in each of the categories.

Christopher Giroux chatting with Katie.

The venue was small, additional chairs had to be added to the space.  Trevor Copp, the dancer who came up with the idea for a short film festival proudly announces that attendance was 110% – a total of 126 seats.  Small, but a good start.  Copp didn’t do this all by himself – he worked with Christopher Giroux who brought a background in short film to the table

Angela Paparizo talks with Trevor Copp founder of the Tottering Biped Short Film Festival.we

It was evident that more was needed in the way of volunteer support; some serious help on the technical side will be welcome next time out as well.

The winners in the six categories were:

Best Local Film: Wanderlust
Best Screenplay: Tomas Street, Kid’s Town
Best Director(s):Freddy Chavez Olmos, Shervin Shoghian for their film “Shhh”
Best Dark Film: Tasha And Friends
Best Picture: Yeah Rite
People’s Choice: Yeah Rite

Best Performer: Elizabeth Stuart of the film “Promise”

Michael Penny on the set of Yeah Rite, a short film on Exorcism – sort of.  Winner of the Best Film and the People’s Choices Awards.

Yeah Rite, was the People`s Choice and the winner of the Burlington Gazette award for the Best Picture. 

The Dark Film Award had a special sponsorship. Jim Riley provided money to pay the screening fee for all the films entered.

Judging of the 12 short films, that ranged from 4 minutes to just over 11 minutes, was done by Angela Paparizo and Nathan Fleet, an accomplished award-winning film maker out of Hamilton  and Mayor Goldring.  Quite why the Mayor was used as a judge is hard to understand.  Other than being a nice guy who gets out to the odd movie like the rest of us the Mayor brings zip to the judging of a very specialized film genre.

Paparizo serves as the  city hall staff member who manages cultural issues within the Parks and Recreation department at city hall.  The only reason to put the Mayor on the judging panel had to be to curry favour with city hall.

The arts have to make it on their own merit – which they have certainly done in the past year.  The creation of the Arts and Culture Collective brought the depth and quality of the arts community in Burlington to the surface and to the attention of city council that now has an opportunity to pump some money into the sector.

Burlington built the Performing Arts Centre, to the chagrin of too many people in Burlington.  A building alone is not an arts community – it takes artists to bring life to the stages.  That`s where people like Trevor Copp and the Collective come in.  They will make it happen and in the process upgrade the level of cultural sophistication in the city.

They are however, never going to develop the Mayor`s film appreciation to the point where he can serve as a viable judge.

Background links:

Best Film Teaser

Best film – full video – 6 minutes long.


Return to the Front page

Classic example of identity theft – known brand name used to pull you in; plausable story as well – then they have you.

By Staff


January 20, 2014

It appeared as an email to “undisclosed recipients”.  For those that get taken in by these attempts at Identity Theft this one had an intriguing angle.  The names, said the email, had been drawn from the Samsung database of telephone and internet email users.  At some point I may have been on the Samsung web site and asked for some information.  There were none of the usual spelling mistakes.  But the language gives it away. 

What would you have done with this one?

Had you responded you would have given away a lot of information about yourself that someone would be selling to people who are never described as nice.

**************THIS IS NOT A SPAM************** Samsung Europe Internet Prize and Email Messaging Center P.O Box 732

Rotterdam- The Netherlands

Telefax: 0031-844-393-028


WINNING NOTIFICATION: Coupon Number: Q-119/SRV The sum of Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Euros with a Samsung Ativ Book9 lite and a Samsung Galaxy NoteIII have been awarded to you from Samsung database of telephone and internet email users from which your email address was attached to the winning Coupon Number: Q-119/SRV.

Contact the notarization officer with your winning coupon number and required information for your notarization for transfer below.


Smit De Keizer(Mr.)  Claims Agent / Notarization Officer.

Contact Email: samsung.eu@europe.com

Provide required information:

Full Names:





Country of Residence:

Tel number:


Mode of Payment: (Bank Transfer, Bank Cheque or Personal Claim) Note that any leakage of your winning notification resulting to a double claim will automatically forfeit your winning prize thus we advise you to keep your winning notification message confidential and away from public notice to prevent double claims or impersonation until after remittance/payment to you.

Your Faithfully,

Victoria Van Eggo.(P.R.O) Samsung Europe

© 2014 Samsung Europe. All rights reserved. Terms of use. Privacy Statement¬

Had this come to you – what would you have done?  Identity theft happens and people get seriously damaged financially.  Know more and protect yourself.  And lighten up on the greed factor and you’ll be just fine.

Background links:

How the identity theft thieves really work.


Return to the Front page

There goes the neighbourhood and the reputation as well. Being #1 doesn’t cut it anymore – being happy is the new unit of measure.

By Pepper Parr


January 19, 2014

That #1 BEST mid-sized city in Canada thing the political set can’t stop talking about is in jeopardy.  The new flavour of the month is the happiest cities in Canada – and we are in the bottom half of the thing. They determine best by measuring the smiles on people’s faces and according to their approach – we don’t rank all that well.  I suppose we should be grateful we are even on the list.

Kingston, the city with more correctional institutions than anywhere else in the country ranked first.  How did Saskatoon rank higher than Burlington?  They don’t have a pier they will be paying for forever.

I don’t understand why London came ahead of us – we have their former city manager and he’s doing a bang up job for us. 

Hamilton beat us!

Here’s the list – you figure it out.



    Quebec City

















    Niagara Falls






This outfit uses the smiles on people faces to determine how happy a city is. So why isn’t Burlington # 1 on that list. Are we that glum?

Jetpack, a group in the travel business works from pictures that are put up on Instagram.  They measure the size of a smile, the look on people’s faces and even the brightness of the lipstick people wear or the size of a mustache.  It’s all good clean fun and, maybe, someone will take their metric as seriously as Burlington took to the #1 mid-sized city.

Want to know more – try their website.

Return to the Front page

Goldring joins 19 other Mayors in asking the province and the federal government for disaster relief. Local tax base can’t carry these costs.

By Pepper Parr


January 18, 2014

Mayor Rick drove himself along the QEW into Hazel McCallion territory and along with 18 other GTA  Mayors agrees that they need funds from both the provincial and federal government in the way of disaster relief help.

Mayor Goldring points out that more than 7 million people were impacted by the ice storm that hit the area on Friday December 20th and left a lot of people without power for six days, some longer than that.

The province has a Disaster Relief program and Burlington, along with the other municipalities in the Region filed their papers for that support earlier this week.

While all the numbers are not in yet Burlington knows that it is something in the order of $1.6 million in the hole for the clean-up and the expenses incurred while we weathered that storm.

Burlington has a Disaster Reserve fund that has $3.2 million in it.

Mayor Goldring picking up donation in the Santa Claus parade – met with other GTA Mayors to pick up provincial finds to help with the ice storm damage. Maybe he should have taken the hockey stick and the sock with him?

Mayor Goldring feels Burlington “might’ see a little over $1 million in Disaster support from the two levels of government but there is still going to be a big dent in that reserve fund.  Watch for Council to look for a way to use some of whatever surplus we might have from 2013 go back into the reserve fund.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, along with 19 GTA mayors and 3 regional chairs, called the meeting – didn’t invite the Premier – but did manage to get all the Mayors to agree on a Resolution that was sent to the Premier and the Prime Minister asking for aid.

McCallion reminded the Mayors that the July storms affected a smaller area of the GTA, primarily Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto and that Mississauga’s request for provincial funding through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) was denied.

Has the December storm been damaging enough to pull some funding from the province – that is certainly the hope of the GTA mayors.

Mayor Goldring points out that we are seeing a significant change in weather patterns and experiencing major storms that are all but impossible to plan for.  The municipal tax base wasn’t built to handle this kind of extraordinary expense.  Help from the province at least and hopefully the federal government will become available.

Goldring also pointed out that insurance rates are going to climb considerably – and that will impact individuals and the city as well.  It makes one think about just what global warming is doing to us.

The cost of cleaning up this kind of storm damage is more than the municipal tax base can bear. Municipalities look to province and federal government for financial support.

 “There is great fear that the outcome of the ice storm will be the same; that we will be left on our own to deal with the financial aftermath of the ice storm, said McCallion. “The property tax cannot bear the brunt of these emergencies. We gathered together today to discuss how we could adopt a more unified and coordinated approach for getting provincial and federal funding to address this problem.”

The resolution passed today specifically asks:

• The Provincial and Federal governments to share equally in this disaster with municipalities by each funding one-third of the full cost of response and ongoing recovery from the ice storm for affected municipalities.

• That the Provincial and Federal governments treat all applicable municipalities equally and equitably.

• That the Provincial and Federal governments recognize the urgency of this matter and provide a response by March 1, 2014.

In a separate resolution the Mayors asked that the Provincial and the Federal governments establish new programs and expand existing programs to address disaster mitigation that would include: forestry; erosion control; winter storms; tree canopy; and other severe storm events that reflect the reality of climate change; and to include funding for rehabilitation of municipal infrastructure to mitigate this and future environmental and storm event impacts.

Hey – all you can do is ask, right?

Background links:

Hydro gets back into service and learns some lesson as well

We made it through the storm.

Return to the Front page

Hydro staff come up for air – now look for better ways to communicate. Upgraded website to be part of the solution.

By Pepper Parr


January 17, 2014

And how did you get through the power outage?  These events tend to recede from our memory unless the event was horrific or something close and personal happened.

For the people at Burlington Hydro (BH) it was very close and very personal.  Most of the staff worked long hours on Christmas Day

Christine Hallas handles corporate communications for Hydro and like every corporation that deals with the public, Hydro decided they needed to begin tweeting.  It was new information tool for BH and they are a cautious organization – they did their research and they did some testing and on the Thursday before the ice storm hit Christine advised the rest of the management team that they were good to go whenever the word was given.

At about the same time BH people were getting the word from different sources that we were in for a bit of tough weather. The people in the BH operations room listens to the radio like the rest of us but they also subscribe to a couple of weather information sources, which Dan Guatto, than in charge of engineering and operations for Burlington Hydro, admitted “weren’t all that good” but there was enough information for the senior management team to decide to open the tweet channel.  In a matter of hours the rate went from 0 followers to more than 500 and BH hydro suddenly became an important source of information for the public.

And information was the one thing that the public didn’t have all that much of – and they wanted it.  BH found they were getting pictures of trees down sent to them, the switchboard was overloaded – at one point they had logged 1500 calls and then the system crashed.

Dan Guatto, doing his best to communicate in an environment where there are a lot of things not working very well. His cell phone got him through most of the problems – Burlington Hydro is currently working on a wen site that will provide much more in the way of information for the public.

We live in a world” said Guatto where people Google the menu of the restaurant they are going to – there is the expectation that information is always available and available instantly.

It quickly became evident that while there were problems in the downtown core – it was the ice on the lines in the northern part of the city – on the inclines – where things were worst.

A line down and a cable split on road after road after road.  Hydro used up 1000 metres of cable doing the repairs.

Ice on the lines left many of them sagging – the ice on the trees that was killing ever effort to get the lines operational.

Overall the grid, North American wide was working just fine –“ it was the really local stuff that crippled us.  We would get two houses back on and then a house in between them would have branches come crashing down and we were right back where we started”, said Sm.

Trees were our biggest problem.  People live in north Burlington because of the trees.  People were prepared to be out of their homes for six days – but they were not prepared to have their tress cut down.

Burlington Hydro, like any responsible organization, plans and does practice scenarios.  They will scope out what the worst possible consequences from a possible situation and then work out plans for how they will react, what equipment they will need and make sure they have it – close by

Gerry Smallegange, Hydro president, explained that “we would give people our best estimate which was often not much more than a  guess, but it became close to gospel truth in the minds of many.  When crews are out in the field it is like being on a construction site and we often just don’t know how long a task is going to take.

Here is an accident waiting to happen.

When the line going into Lowville went down explains Smallegange the crew going in to do the fix couldn’t  get their trucks in far enough – so everything had to be hauled in by hand – over a distance of more than a kilometre.  It took hours but they finally got it up and service was restored – which isn’t as simple as screwing in a new fuse and seeing the lights go on.  There are significant safety precautions that had to be gone through – but the lights went on and the crews moved on to the next problem.

Within hours the line was back down and that work had to be done all over again.  The new break had to be found, the power taken out of the line, a splice made to the wire, line tested and power restored.

Side road # 8 had to be totally re-built.  It was the worst situation we faced said Smallegange who added that there are 20,000 poles in the hydro system but only 20 were broken during the storm.   Millar Crescent was un-passable for a period of time and there were a number of situations that needed less than a quick glance to know that there was a problem just waiting to happen.

For people sitting in a cold house – there is little comfort in knowing that all these steps have to be taken.  For the men in the field it was long hours in cold weather which isn’t easy to work in.  Fatigue and working in bulky clothing and ground that was slick with ice are conditions that result in accidents – of which there were none for the hydro crews.

Hydro used up 1000 metres of cable to complete the repairs.  They didn’t lose any generators and there was never a serious risk of running out of cable.  All the hydro operations in the area have working agreements to purchase from each other.  They also have consignment agreements from the supply manufacturers that keeps needed supplies in the hydro yard – masking it instantly available.

Trees can’t last with this amount of ice on the branches.  A mighty oak bends to the force of nature.  We would like look at this in the spring and see what survived.

The December outage was big and there was little in the way of the kind of warning the city got during the July problems.

What BH is beginning to struggle with is – how often are we likely to see situations like this – and that for much of the world is both a very pressing and a very vexing question.  It all relates to risk analysis.  It just isn’t possible to be fully geared up every hour of every day for something that might happen.

Christmas Day of 2013 was a fully geared up day for both Burlington Hydro and the city of Burlington. “It is the city manager Jeff Fielding who has point on this explained Smallegange – we get the job done but he calls the shots.  There is a very solid working relationship between Hydro and the city – the city is the only shareholder but that’s not what makes the relationship work as smoothly as it does.  The top people on both sides are consummate professionals and each knows what has to be done and they get it done.

The city got through the storm and while we will be picking up brush for a number of months and when the snow melts we will see twigs and scraps of wood that will have to be raked up and either burned in a fire-place or put out as waste.

Expect the Regional authority to revise the date for the last such pick-ups several times. That will be the least of our problems.

There were no fatalities, no really serious injuries.  A major dent to Hydro’s financial statements but this is one you are not likely to feel.  Burlington Hydro is currently in negotiations on the price of the hydro it buys; there will be a decrease in the price hydro pays for power as a result of these negotiations.  How much of that price decrease works it way to your hydro bill is going to be impacted by the storm damage. The decrease you see will be just a little less than hydro had originally hoped to deliver to the public.

The cost of the outage in terms of additional monies for Burlington Hydro will come in at more than $1 million.

A lot of lessons were learned – the most important of which were on the communications side.  With power out telephone service was down and cell service in the northern part of the city isn’t all that good at the best of times.  There are parts of the city where there is basically no service.

Worn down but not worn out. Burlington Hydro Gerry Smallegange and his chief of engineering talk to people at the Kilbride fire station on what was up and what wasn’t yet up in terms of power lines.

Hydro is putting together a much different web site that will improve significantly on the information they can deliver – that along with their ability now to tweet at will result in better communications.

For Hydro’s senior management the biggest lesson was to fully understand what the public wanted in the way of information and then to find a way to get that information out with very necessary caveats and cautions attached to it.

You will like what hydro is going to release in the very near future.  “Hopefully” adds Smallegange it will be up and running before the next catastrophe providing that doesn’t take place this month.”

The big wish for Hydro is a way to be able to trim those trees in such a way that the canopy is not lost but the hydro wires have a chance to stay up when the winds howl and the trees bend.

Return to the Front page

A million jobs he says. Within 8years. Really! So says Tim Hudak as he prepares for two by-elections.

By Ray Rivers


January 17th, 2014

February 13th Ontario electors in Thornhill and Niagara Falls will head to the polls.  Thornhill Tory MPP Peter Shurman resigned over expense claims and Liberal maverick MPP Kim Craitor hung up his gun belt late last year.  Premier Wynne led off the campaigns promising a new hospital for Niagara.  The NDPs Horwath seems to be hiding, waiting for public input.  But Tory opposition leader Hudak has rolled out a bold new policy called the Million Jobs Act.  That is a million jobs created over the next eight years.  Yes, eight years.

A million jobs created over the next eight years.  Yes, eight years.His strategy begins by cutting corporate taxes to 10 percent, the level former Premier McGuinty was targeting before Andrea Horwath and minority government stopped him.  Still, at 11.5% today Ontario has one of the lowest rates in the country.  When federal and provincial rates are combined, total corporate taxes in Ontario are well below those in the US.  So why is this so important?  When you cut taxes, you cut revenues and that means your deficit increases.  And as far as job creation driven by tax cuts – that disproven, revisionist, Reagan era piece of voodoo economics is not supported by any credible economist, anywhere.

Ontario hasn’t managed – yet – to make the renewable energy sector really come alive – but they are going in the right direction.

Hudak further disappoints by echoing the misinformation being churned out by Ontarios right-wing dailies, blaming the tiny renewable energy sector for Ontarios high energy costs.   As I pointed out in my Dec 14th column, energy rates are high, and getting higher, in large part because Harris and Eves fumbled deregulation and privatization, back when Hudak was a member of their Tory caucus.  Was he sleeping and missed it or is he just being disingenuous?  Its not McGuintys renewable energy policy but his governments inability to fix the system that is costing us.

Hudaks million jobs legislation would bring Ontario into the New West Partnership, a deal currently among British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to eliminate trade barriers.  It is hard to understand why we Canadians can conclude all those international free-trade deals yet we dont even have free-trade among ourselves.  Wouldnt it be nice to see one of those excellent BC wines in the LCBO?  This is no-brainer policy, and a good one, but it will hardly get us to a million jobs.

Hudak has promised to freeze civil service wages, a reasonable position for a government in deficit, though he appears soft on continuing Harris-era management bonuses, which the Liberals have frozen.  Picking on the civil service unions is a key part of his greater strategy – to de-unionized Ontario – turning the province into one of those Tea Party right-to-work places he admires south of the border?  If freezing civil servant wages doesnt give him the labour war he wants, then eliminating thousands of education jobs sure will. 

To his credit, there is some evidence that high levels of unionization may retard employment growth and, perhaps, even productivity.  Unions are a barrier to labour mobility, after all.  But trade unions also complement the human relations responsibilities of management – so it depends on what you are measuring.  For example, most skilled trade guilds have qualifications criteria and experience as a screening pre-requisite for membership.  And unions often form the backbone of workplace committees on health and safety, anti-harassment, conduct and discipline – all of which lighten the load of management and often reinforce normal management actions.

Union busting:

Lets not forget that the labour movement and progressive taxation is what created the once powerful middle class in our society.  Unions bargaining power shifted more of the returns from production to labour, putting more money into pay packets which enabled greater consumption by the middle class and spurred economic growth.  In addition, the mere existence of large unions helped pull up the incomes of non-unionized workers, the free-riders, particularly when labour markets were tight.  It is a complicated issue with potentially serious repercussions for hasty, thoughtless ideologically driven action.

It is no coincidence that the drop in union numbers over the last several decades has been accompanied by an increasing spread in income and wealth between the richest and the rest of us.  Without the unions collective agreements, progressive governments would be forced to increase minimum wages to well beyond where they are today.  And governments of all stripes would need to exercise greater regulatory oversight over workplaces and workplace rules, meaning more, not less, red tape for the business community.

The Million Dollar Jobs plan is really a little bit of good, some bad and a lot of ugly.  And even spread over eight years there is no way that Mr. Hudak will see anything like a million jobs from his proposed legislation.  Still, it is a catchy piece of marketing which may well attract voters to the PCs in the by-elections even if it is mostly nonsense. 

If you want you to know they really care – they will spend some of your money on you. Burlington knows all about that stuff – we got our hospital didn’t we?

We will know better as the campaigns unfold.  The NDP has to decide if they want to stick their necks out and if so how far and perhaps advance some policy.  The Liberal government has to  roll out the rest of their campaign. The word on the street is that these by-elections are only primers for a general election coming sometime this spring or early summer.  So expect to see the parties taking some risks to test the voting appetite for ideas, which is exactly what Mr. Hudak has just done.

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Background inks:

Million Job Act   Tax Cuts and Jobs   Corporate Tax Cuts    Not the Time to Cut

Unions and Employment    Hudak and Unions   Energy Myths   Energy Subsidies

Return to the Front page

Some magazine said we were the number one medium sized city: do the facts support that? Basically – yes!

By Pepper Parr


January 15, 2014

While Burlington’s budget is certainly not settled – the broad strokes are clear enough.  The public will watch council members jockey for position and do some posturing but the basics are clear.

It’s quite a city.  And for the most part it is well run.

There is a strong case for putting more into infrastructure maintenance and not as strong a case yet for culture.  Pushing back some of the capital projects a few years – grade separations on Mainway and Burloak are at the top of that list.

The tax bill the city sends you is for services provided by the school board and the Region which covers police, waste management and most of the social services. The Region has a billion dollar budget. The city collects for everyone and we send their portion along to them.

Council will beaver away at the small stuff – next year they will be looking at a significantly different approach to the creation of the budget.  City Manager Jeff Fielding talks of 2014 being a transformative year during which a specific staff member gets named as the owner of a service and works  with the various departments involved in the delivering of that service.

The city is moving out of a departmental approach to budgeting to a service approach.  It will take getting used to for many of the people at city hall.

Fielding is also taking a long hard look at the services the city is in.  Should we be doing this is a question he will be putting in front of whatever the public elects in the way of a city council this October.   That’s something you might want to keep in mind as you look over the talent that offers itself for public service.

For those thinking about running for office – being a member of city council is going to take a lot more in the way of intellectual capacity and it will be a lot more exciting from a career development point of view.  Having just a pretty face and being a nice guy won’t cut it anymore.

The average assessment of dwellings in Burlington.

What does Burlington have in the way of an economic base – that is how many dwellings are there and what are they worth because it is this economic base that taxes are drawn from.

We spend less of our income on taxes than most of the comparable communities – but we are marginally higher than Toronto.

What has Burlington paid in the way of taxes historically and what percentage of household income did those taxes s eat up?  Are Burlingtonians spending a disproportionate part of their income on property taxes?  We compare favourably with other communities in our part of the province and our size.

We are below the average in terms of property taxes.

Burlington is on the high side this year when compared with other municipalities in the Region.  Last years Oakville was the highest.

How does Burlington compare with other communities?  People choose a community for is location and for the amenities it offers.  Are the schools good schools?  Are the parks and recreation services good.  Are seniors a part of the community?  Is this a good place to raise children?  Are the taxes decent.

Is the community a safe place?  Is it a caring community?

Those roads, bridges and libraries are all our to operate.  We have more in the way of capital infrastructure than anyone else – and fewer dollars to pay for it all.  And yet, for the most part municipalities make it work.

Municipalities deliver the bulk of the services people use but they certainly don’t have the bulk of the tax revenue.  They are also close to the bottom rung of the services food chain.  Libraries, museum, swimming pools and ball parks along with ice arenas are provided by municipalities who operate under the rules set out by the province.


First look at the 2014 budget.

Return to the Front page

Premier tests the temperature of the politicl waters. Will she get a Valentine?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.          

January 15, 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne has decided to put her toes in the water and see if it’s warm enough to swim in.

There will be by-elections in the electoral districts of Niagara Falls and Thornhill.  If the Liberal government manages to take both – you can bet real money on a Spring election.

The Niagara Falls riding is next door to that of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.  Losing that will hurt his leadership badly – very badly.  The Liberals are offering the good people of Niagara a new hospital to elect them.

In Thornhill the PC’s are going with a candidate that isn’t all that happy with his party.

These by-elections which will be over before Valentine’s Day will tell the government if the public is buying into Premier Wynne

Writs were issued today under for by-elections in the electoral districts of Niagara Falls and Thornhill. The by-elections will fill vacancies created in the provincial parliament.

Under the Election Act, elections must be called on a Wednesday and held the fifth Thursday after the date of the issue of the writ. Voting day will be on February 13, 2014.

Return to the Front page

City Executive Budget Committee cuts council some slack and reduces their ask by .58% Council hasn’t taken that deal – yet.

By Pepper Parr


January 15, 2014

There was a bit of a buzz in the Council Chamber Tuesday afternoon – the significant seven were gearing up for their first crack at the 2014 budget and given that they were going into an election year they both wanted to get it right and at the same time make sure they took care of the people in their wards.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor was the first one to approach the pork barrel – we will come back to that.

In a phrase – the city wants to spend $134,513,000 – up $2, 155,000 from 2013- and they are going to do that without adding to the staff compliment which now sits at 1311 with both full and part-time people.  Staff salary increases is to be limited to 1% in 2014.

The document being debated was the recommendations from the city’s Executive Budget Committee (EBC) which consists of the city manager, his two general managers, the Director of Finance Joan Ford,  Transportation Director Bruce Zvaniga, HR Manager Roy Male and Corporate Strategic Initiatives Executive Director Allan Magi.

At a meeting in December city manager Jeff Fielding put a number on the table that had his people looking for an increase that was 4.66% over 2013 or $6,106,ooo  – you could almost hear the gulping on the other side of the horseshoe.

City staff came up with a budget increase of 4.66% over 2013.  Council pushed back and it was cut to 4.13%  Service changes could add an additional 3.66%.

The city has a couple of whoppers it has to deal with.  The money it has to fork over to OMERS to cover the staff pension requirements got increased – taxpayers don’t get to say “no thanks” to this ask.  OMERS found it wasn’t fully funded to meet the draw hat would be made so they slipped in a special levy.

Insurance premiums have increased and there has been more than expected in the way of assessment appeals that were lost and vacancy rebates.

The city’s infrastructure work is not up to date and more money is needed to fix the roads before they become so bad they have to be rebuilt.  There is a half a percentage point ($643,000) tax levy dedicated to infrastructure that the city manager wants to raise to three-quarters of a percentage point.

Being added is $815,000 in spending which will get covered by additional revenue from the growth of assessment revenue.

Hayden Recreation Centre will get $375,000

Alton Library $295,000

Transit service for Hayden High School – this one won’t be a forever cost if the service is not well used.

Operating costs for water play features in three community parks: $49,000

Roads, Parks and Information technology growth: $52,000.

Growth in the city’s property assessment has come to an end.  The spending days have to come to an end as well.

The gravy days for Burlington are now at an end.  Assessment growth has plummeted.  In 2002 the weighted assessment growth was 3.69% – we are now at .58%   The big cheque days for the developers has come to an end.

The Executive Budget Committee recommended four areas for expansion:  Heritage is to get a full-time Planner – if the Heritage Conservation District gets approved in principle that planer will be very busy.

Heritage Burlington will get $167,000 of which $64,000 is a onetime amount.

Culture has been given a lot of attention; the Cultural Action Plan has been approved in principle – next step for that is an Implementation plan which will require a full-time Manager of Cultural Services (think $128,000) and lastly $36,000 for the community garden initiative Burlington Green got off the ground two years ago.  Agriculture has worked itself south of the rural urban divide.

The Burlington Economic Development Corporation is in for $275,000 for more studies – they want to revise their business model – what business?  That crowd has delivered one cock-up after another in the past two years.  They turfed the Executive Director and then added a significant chunk of change to the cost of the severance package with some ill-timed comments from the chair.  The movement of that mouth is reputed to have cost the city an additional $10k.

The city feels it needs to add crossing guards and an additional crossing guard supervisor to the staffing list. And the final increase to the tax levy for the city’s portion of the cost to rebuild the Joseph Brant Hospital is due to come on-line this year.

There is also a service called One Call that the city can’t get out of which is going to cost us $111,000 this year and probably an ongoing amount for the service that has to do with knowing where anyone is going to dig to ensure that they don’t hit hydro lines, gas lines or anything else that is underground.  when the service was mentioned at a Council Stranding Committee meeting Roads and Park Maintenance Director Cathy Robinson said there wasn’t much the city could do – it was being mandated by the province and we were stuck with it.

Looked at from a high level – the budget for 2014 looks something like this:

This is what the Executive Budget Committee proposed to Council early in December. City Manager Jeff Fielding called it a status quo budget. Council wasn’t quite on for that much.

Staffing has held firm:  1131 people of which 865 are full-time and 251 part-time – holding those numbers in an election year is no small feat.  Kudos on holding that line.

Staffing was kept at the 2013 compliment and salary increases will be limited to 1%.   That will keep the rate payers happy.

While not included in the Executive Budget Committee recommendations there are some suggestions Council can consider if they are looking for ways to cut the budget.

Limit overtime

Remove one leaf pickup south of the QEW ($65,000) and one north of the QEW ($70,000)

Revise the sidewalk snow plowing program ($27,000(

Convert 10% of the passive parks to naturalized areas ($24,000)

Eliminate enhanced maintenance of grass sports fields ($40,000)

A reduction in the bus cleaning contract ($100,000)

Staff provides a business case for each of these options which will get debated at the budget meetings.

Council members are currently going through the budget books, line by line for some of them, and picking items they want more information on.  They then write-up short notes on items they wish to debate.  When all the requests are in they get debated.  It is at this point that Council members push for their pet projects and where they take positions they will want to use in the forthcoming election.

Each has to figure out where they are with their electorate.  If you were wondering why none of the Council members, except for the Mayor, has yet to file nomination papers, perhaps this will help: once you file papers you are in the race and you have to begin taking a position on matters.  And the budget, which determines the taxes people will pay, is a major matter.

When the budget is decided upon watch for the different political positions to become evident.  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who chaired the Budget meeting was sounding much more “financially fluent” than she normally does, may begin her 2018 campaign for Mayor if the budget fits her longer term agenda.

Will this Council save or spend?  The city manager is turning out to be a bit of a spender – does Council want to encourage this approach?

There is $44,000 that can be saved from the tax levy if the transit service for the Hayden High students is paid for out of the Provincial Gas Tax funding – these are monies , gas taxes, the province passes along to the municipalities.

The Fire department wants four more firefighters ($361,000); a proposed increase in the dedicated Capital Infrastructure Renewal levy from .50% to .75% would add $964,000. Not being recommended for this year.

Community Development Halton is in for $86,000 – Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor is pushing hard for this one.  He will probably get his way; what he is prepared to give to get his way is unknown.

Sound of Music wants $44,000 – they argue that they bring in tons of spending to the city.  Taylor wants to see their books – again, before he gives them as much as a dime.

The Museum Board wants a Special Events Assistant ($36,000)

Other places to spend that are also not recommended by the EBC include:

Restoring Transit resources: $1 to $2.8 million.

Increased money for storm response $747,000

Phase in the OMERS contribution which would stretch out the length of time we have to pay that big lump sum charge they hit the city with.

Jiggle the amount of money we take as a levy for the hospital will cut  $300,000 this year but that amount will have to come from somewhere next year.

City manager wonders why so much time is being spent over a half a percentage point difference in budget proposals.  Is it worth a full month of expensive staff time.  It’s called DEMOCRACY people having their say.

If you look at budget scenarios chart again you will see that the difference between what staff first proposed, the status quo number, and what they came back with after council pushed back,  is less than half a percentage point.  What’s the big deal – live with it, it’s not a lot of money and the city has healthy reserves with debt permitted at 12.5% of net revenue currently at 8.4%

Having to find an additional $60 million to pay for the hospital upgrade pushes Burlington close to its self-imposed debt limits.

The hospital levy does edge us very close to that 12.5% of net revenue debt level – which is self-imposed – the province would let us go to 20% +.  What neither staff or council underline is that the hospital levy will continue to come out of taxpayers pockets – they will just call it something else.

Tax increases each year of this term of office.   Comes in at more than the 10% Mayor Goldring promised.  Watch for an explanation as to what he really meant when he made the promise.

But look at the chart with the tax increases each year of this term – that’s where the real story on this budget is.  In the first three years of the term tax increases totaled 6.63% – add in the 3.20 proposed for 2014 and you get to 9.83% over the four-year term, which keeps the tax increases below that magic 10% number the Mayor, and truth be told, most members of his Council  hung their hats on.  Add in the 2.96% we are scheduled to give the hospital and we are at 12.79%

Now Council members will say, frequently, that the hospital levy doesn’t count – but it does because what is now the hospital levy is never going to go away.  They have plans to spend that sum right through till 2031 and beyond.  When bureaucrats get their hands on a portion of your money – they don’t let it ever get back to you.

Assuming the proposed budget gets passed – and that isn’t an assumption you want to bet on – here is where your tax dollars are spent.

The first time Canadians were hit with an Income Tax was to pay for World War I – and we’ve been paying an income tax ever since.  The hospital levy is money that will always go to the city – get used to it.

It was a full session, the Community and Corporate The first time Canadians were hit with an Income Tax was to pay for World War I – and we’ve been paying an income tax ever since.  The hospital levy is money that will always go to the city – get used to it.Services Committee got through the high level overview in close to record time.  You could almost see the Council members feeling their oats.

The one area that sort of threw Council members was the comment from the city manager on the amount of time being spent on the budget.  He wanted to see as much as a month taken out of the process, arguing that far too much staff time is being taken up with relatively small amounts.

What the bureaucrat forgets is that those small amounts represent a service that people expect and want some say in.

City Manager Jeff Fielding pointed out that the Region has its budget wrapped up in December and that Burlington will still be at it in the middle of March. 

The Region has a billion dollar budget Fielding points out – but, as Mayor Goldring pointed out – they don’t have the public delegations that municipalities have.  Also Burlington basically packed it in early in December.

Councillor Taylor didn’t like the idea of the time spent on the budget being shortened.  He pointed out that the budget books were just given to them last Friday.

The schedule right now calls for the Capital budget and the Current budget to be handled at different times.  It was suggested both could be done at the same time which would cut out a few days.

Comments from the bureaucrats suggesting that the politicians spend less time on how they spend the dollars they ask citizens to pay in taxes are a hint that perhaps the political process isn’t fully understood or appreciated by the bureaucrats.


Return to the Front page

It took less than five minutes to decide we wanted to become a disaster – so much for being # 1 mid-size city in Canada.

By Pepper Parr


January 14, 2014

It took city council less than five minutes to decide they wanted to be seen as a disaster area.  There was the possibility of some provincial funding coming to the city and for a couple of thousand dollars – maybe more – the city seemed prepared to take a pass on being the best mid-sized city in the country and become as disaster area along with the rest of Halton.

The provincial government set a ridiculously short deadline to get forms in stating that the Region wanted in on the province’s Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP).

Does this quality as a disaster and will it get the city some provincial relief money?

In order to apply for the assistance the municipality must adopt a resolution requesting that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing declare a disaster area within 14 working days of the onset of the disaster. If two or more municipalities have been affected by the same natural disaster and wish to access the public component of ODRAP, the council of each municipality affected by the event must adopt a council resolution requesting a declaration of a disaster area. The Minister may declare one disaster area to cover all the affected municipalities. The Region will be the lead on this with all four municipalities being part of the request.

Burlington did a quickie, stopped what they were doing as a Standing Committee and met as a Council to pass the motion the Region needed to send on to the province. 

The storm produced freezing rain, ice pellets and wind resulting in wide-spread power outages due to downed power lines from fallen trees and tree limbs. The area of north Burlington was particularly hard hit.  Approximately 7,500 Burlington Hydro customers were impacted by outages.

The provincial legislation allows for disaster relief for both the public and private sectors which the city thought it would get in on – but a closer look at the fine print and the city decided to take care of themselves and let private people look to their insurance companies for financial relief.

The application for Disaster Relief funds will be for the city only. 

As of January 8, 2014, expenses incurred are approximately $1.1 million. That number got boosted to $1.6 million by the 145th. The clean-up and repairs could take months to complete and debris clean-up is expected to extend into the Spring.

One wonders if the cheque from the province will have arrived by then.  There is talk of a provincial election in May – and there is nothing as nice money coming in from the province to make us all feel warm and fuzzy and decide that perhaps the government isn’t that bad after all.

Return to the Front page

What is the first clue that the email shown below is an attempt to steal your identity?

By Staff


January 14, 2014

Identity theft is a BIG business, and a rather successful one for some people as well.  This message came floating in earlier today.  What are the clues?

Well, first the receiver of the email is not an Apple product user, second look at the email address it was sent from and then note the date at the bottom of the email.

Look at the language – there is no way Apple is going to let a message that poorly crafted get sent out.

If you use Apple products you might have thought this was a legitimate message. It isn’t – phony as a three dollar bill.

The full message reads:

This is an automatic message by the system to let you know that you
have to confirm your Apple ID account information within 48 hours.
Your account has been frozen temporarily if order to protect it.

The account will continue to be frozen until it is approved And Validate
you account information. Once you have updated your account records
, your information will be confirmed and your account will start
to work as normal once again.

This will help protect you in the future. The process does not take more than 5 minutes.

To proceed to confirm your account information Click here

Copyright © 2013 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.

If you click there you are in the process of telling thieves, probably in Nigeria,  more about you than they should know.

If the message doesn’t make sense to you – delete it.


Identity theft is a BIG business – the purpose of which is to steal your money.

Return to the Front page

BAC holds 35th annual art auction: An original Bateman work on the list.

By Pepper Parr


January 14th, 2014

More than one hundred works of art and fine craft by Canadian artists will be up for auction at the Burlington Art Centre on February 7. The event is a fundraiser for the Art Centre that gives anyone with a ticket an opportunity to be the highest bidder on original artwork and take home a new treasure.

The Burlington Art Centre wants you to imagine what an original piece of art would look like in your home.

A total of 600 artists were invited to submit recent works for the auction, including internationally acclaimed wildlife artists Robert Bateman – who has agreed to put up an original work – and Chris Bacon, noted Japanese dollmaker Komiko Koyanagi, Hamilton ceramist Reid Flock. Juried artwork from both emerging and well-established artists adds further depth to the exceptional selection. There is something for everyone on this special evening.

Auctioneer Nello Romagnoli brings a light and entertaining touch to the auction welcoming bids from both novice and experienced art buyers and collectors.

Live and silent auction previews will take place at the BAC, 1333 Lakeshore Road, on February 5 and 6, 11 am – 9 pm, February 7, 11 am – 5pm. The previews are free and open to everyone interested in deciding in advance the artworks they want to bid on during the auction.

Every art collector starts somewhere. They tend to grow!

New this year is a Free Pre-Auction `How to Start a Collection` Seminars led by Denis Longchamps, Director of Programs and Jonathan Smith, Permanent Collection Curator.  They take place Wednesday January 29th: 7 p.m. and Thursday February 6th: 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The actual auction is a ticketed event: BAC Member $35.  Non-Member $40 and $45 at the door.  Advanced bids and telephone bidding are welcome, but must be arranged ahead of time by calling 905-632-7796, ext. 302. 

Previews: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 11:00 am  – 9:00pm, Thursday, Feb. 6, 11am – 9:00 pm Friday, Feb 7, 11 am – 5pm There is no charge for the Auction previews

Friday, February 7th Doors Open 6 pm.  Catered Reception through to 8:00 pm.  Silent Auction closes at 8 :00pm.  Live Auction starts at 8:30 pm

Your ticket includes:

•             Opportunity to attend a free How to Start a Collection seminar

•             Fete of Local Food and Wine Tasting Reception

•             Entry to the Art Auction and Previews

•             Full-colour Catalogue

•             Bid Number

Visit the BAC website for additional details or call 905-632-7796 x326

If all your questions have not been answered pop a note along to Kim Varian.


The Burlington Art Centre has celebrated its 35th Anniversary.  Formed by groups of artists who are now resident at the Art Centre as Guilds the operation is now part of the city of Burlington’s cultural offering.  The Centre is open seven days a week and has an Art Etc shop that has an amazing variety of arts and crafts items on sale.  The Art Centre has one of the largest collections of ceramics in North America and is sought out by ceramic artists frequently.

Return to the Front page

Mt nemo plateau could become a Heritage Conservation District. Ramifications for some property owners would be significant.

By Pepper Parr


January 13, 2014

There they were, all seven of them, smiling and apparently happy to be back at their desks after a rather protracted holiday absence.  Your city council was in session as a Standing Committee

And they were busy little beavers as well.

City council wants to seriously consider turning the Mt.Nemo Plateau into a Heritage Conservation District. Further study was approved at a Standing Committee earlier today.

More detail will follow but the city is taking a hard serious look at creating a Heritage Conservation District on property north of Dundas, west of Walkers Line to the municipal border and north to Britannia Road.

A total of $50,000 has been spent on a report that sets out the cultural heritage of that part of the city and the reasons why this part of the city should be considered as a Heritage Conservation District.

The first thing that happens when this is approved – and it look as if it will be – it got through the Standing Committee unanimously – is the implementation of an Interim Bylaw that would freeze all development while the matter is studied.   That is a huge step.

More on this one later in the week.

Return to the Front page

You want to start a personal art collection and are not sure how to start? Free seminar at the BAC.

By Pepper Parr


January 13th, 2014

Is art collecting just for those with bags of money?  If it’s for the rest of us – where do you start?  How do you find out how to start?

The Burlington Art Centre (BAC) holds an annual Art Auction where some pretty impressive names appear on the list of items being auctioned.  This year Robert Bateman is doing a piece especially for the Auction.  He is a little out of my league but at what point does one include a Bateman – even if it is just a print in their collection?

This year the BAC is putting on two Pre-Auction Seminars on How to Start a Collection.

Don Graves, a Burlington artist in the process of selling a piece of his art to a young woman who was on the Art in Action Tour and wanted to begin her personal art collection. She bought the painting.

One will be led by Denis Longchamps, Director of Programs who will tell you about the first piece of art he bought, which he still has.  Denis will also tell you that while he is no longer all that fond about the piece, he kept it because it was the first piece he bought.

Jonathan Smith, Permanent Collection Curator will talk about collecting ceramics.  Not nearly enough people know about the very impressive collection of ceramics Burlington has; one of the very best in North America and considered the best in its field.

The Seminars take place on Wednesday January 29th: 7 p.m. and Thursday February 6th: at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

For those who attend this event you will have the pleasure of hearing both Smith and Longchamps who will each speak for 15 to 20 minutes on their individual areas of expertise and then open things up for questions and answers.

In the world of art there is no such things as a dumb question.  So don’t feel you have to know a lot to attend – this event is for those who don’t know all that much and want to know more.  And you are not likely to find two people more than capable of telling you how to get started.

To register call the Burlington Art Centre ; 905-332- 7796 Ext 326  Leave a call back number – they may want to talk to you.

Return to the Front page

When you know what the rules are, it is a lot easier to play the game. Air Park situation takes on a different look.

By Pepper Parr


January 12, 2014.

The legal tussle over what can be done at the Burlington Executive Air Park is one of a number of “issues” the city’s Solicitor has to deal with.  The argument with the owners of the Air Park hinges on whether or not they have to comply with municipal by laws.  City says they must, Air Park says they are federally regulated and they don’t have to concern themselves with the city’s rules.

The Air Park got away with those arguments for a number of years, as far back as 2006 when Vince Rossi took over the operation and brought some pretty big ideas to the table.

Vince Rossi, president of the Burlington Executive Air PArk and believed to be the sole shareholder of the private company, met with north Burlington residents. He took all the comments made “under advisement”..

No one questioned Rossi’s argument – everyone seemed to take it as face value – for which there should be red marks placed on their copy books.

It was when Vanessa Warren, chair of the newly formed Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition  delegated to the city and the Regional Council that people at the political level began to ask serious questions.

Whenever there is a political issue the bureaucrats at every level perk up and pay attention.

General manager Infrastructure and Development, Scott Stewart, the man holding the Air Park file, has been trying to get some traction with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) over the matter of the landfill that has been dumped at the Air Park site and testing for just what is in the ground up there.  Vanessa Warren called the place an “unlicensed land fill” – the city wants to know what that landfill is made up of and the impact it might have on the ground water.

It has been an uphill climb for the city but they are now meeting with the MOE person who wrote the regulations which Stewart says is very useful.  “We want to know more about the Ministry’s intent when they wrote the regulations” said Stewart.

That culvert is leaching out water from a 30 foot pile of land fill which no one can say with much certainty where it came from. Property owners in north Burlington draw their water from wells.

What the city needs is a more cooperative relationship from the province on the fill that is on the property and the impact it may have on ground water.  It also wants a better working relationship with the federal department of transport who regulate airports.

A recently released  Advisory Circular from the federal transportation department appears to suggest that they are beginning to realize that municipalities do have a place at the table and that their bylaws need to be obeyed.

The document sets out for federal bureaucrats what means what and who the players are and something on their role.  It suggests municipal governments have a role to play on what happens at an Air Park as long as they don’t intrude on the actual landing and taking off of an aircraft.

Some of that language used in the Advisory is interesting and very relevant to Burlington and the situation it finds itself in.  While the document is lengthy – the complete document location is shown below, there are several sections that are very relevant.

This stuff is as dry as toast - if you’re a bear for punishment – read on.“There has been considerable discussion on the definition of an “aerodrome” and the application of federal, provincial and municipal laws at aerodromes. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for TC officials and others on land use issues and jurisdictional matters surrounding aerodromes.

“This document applies to Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) personnel, delegates, the aviation industry, provincial and municipal authorities and the public.

 It is intended that the following reference materials be used in conjunction with this document:

    • (a) Aeronautics Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. A-2);
    • (b) Part III, Subpart I of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) — Aerodromes;
    • (c) Part III, Subpart II of the CARs — Airports; and
    • (d) Part III, Subpart V of the CARs – Heliports.

Definitions and Abbreviations

The following definitions are used in this document:

(a) “Aerodrome” means any area of land, water (including the frozen surface thereof) or other supporting surface used, designed, prepared, equipped or set apart for use either in whole or in part for the arrival, departure, movement or servicing of aircraft and includes any buildings, installations and equipment situated thereon or associated therewith.

(b) “Airport” means an aerodrome in respect of which a Canadian aviation document is in force;

(c) “Certified

The owner of a property on Appleby Line stands at her property line. Plans submitted to the Region at one point had a large helicopter pad sitting atop the 30 foot pile of earth. The owner of the property on which the heliport was to be built claimed he did not have to get site plan approval from Burlington. A Judge disagreed with him. That decision is being appealed.

Aerodrome” for the purpose of this document, means airport, heliport or water airport; and

(d) “Heliport” means an aerodrome in respect of which a heliport certificate


(1) Under Canada’s Constitution, the federal government has jurisdiction over aeronautics, including aerodromes. This is expressed through the Aeronautics Act. Transport Canada’s role as regulator is to verify that aerodrome operators comply with the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). The CARs pertaining to aerodromes are focused on aviation safety. The federal government is not involved in private property issues.

(2) The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) distinguish among three types of aerodromes:

(a) Certified Aerodromes: (airports and heliports) are those with scheduled service or which are located within built-up areas or are certified in the public interest.

(b) Those that are registered – those aerodromes that are published in the CFS or WAS where information, such as, location, physical characteristics, specific approaches, services, etc. is provided; and

(c) Those aerodromes which are neither certified nor registered.

It is construction like this, being done without city site plan approval that has Burlington involved in what will probably prove to be a protracted court case.

(3) Recently the Department has been dealing with issues surrounding the development of aerodromes and aerodrome operators/developers expressing the belief that the Aeronautics Act makes compliance with provincial legislation and municipal by-laws unnecessary. Questions have arisen respecting the use of contaminated fill, paint fumes, the improper disposal of solvents and paints in local drainage system, the building of hangars, etc. and the application of provincial and municipal laws to these activities.

(4) It has consistently been the Department’s position, which has been supported by jurisprudence, that activities and structures at an aerodrome that are integral to aviation cannot be impaired by provincial or municipal laws. In circumstances other than these, valid provincial, municipal or territorial law may apply to an undertaking or activity that is conducted or occurs at an aerodrome or to a structure that is built at an aerodrome.

(5) Two recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada (Lacombe and COPA) confirm and clarify the federal jurisdiction over aeronautics.

(6) These decisions do not change the way the Department regulates aerodromes, nor do they require Transport Canada employees to give advice to air operators regarding the implications of the cases, or the application of provincial or municipal bylaws in the context of an aerodrome operation. The decisions do not preclude the application of a valid provincial, municipal or territorial law. The Aeronautics Act does not grant immunity to an aerodrome operator/developer from compliance with all other valid applicable provincial legislation or municipal bylaws.

(7) There was another decision handed down in May 2011 in the Ontario Provincial Court concerning a proposed aerodrome in the Township of Scugog. This decision was a prime example of how provincial or municipal laws could apply to activities at an aerodrome. In the Scugog case, an aerodrome operator used a substantial amount of landfill to construct a runway. The township issued a revocation order and a stop work order with respect to the fill activity. In this case, the town’s by-laws were found to be valid and applicable to an aerodrome. Transport Canada’s position with respect to the applicability of provincial or municipal laws has been consistent with the Scugog decision in that the jurisdiction of the federal government over aerodromes and their operation does not necessarily exclude the application of provincial or municipal laws.

(8) For those structures or activities that are determined not to be integral to aviation, it is expected that the proponent of an aerodrome comply with all applicable provincial legislation and municipal by-laws. It is expected that the proponent comply with all applicable federal legislation regardless of whether or not structures or activities are integral to aviation.

(9) Standards Branch has developed a document providing guidance on the definition of an “aerodrome”.


(1) Certified Aerodromes: Specific regulatory provisions which apply to aerodromes include CAR 302 for airports and CAR 305 for heliports.

(a) Meeting technical standards that include physical characteristics, obstacle limitation surfaces and visual aids for navigation, to name a few.

(b) Additional considerations dealing with wildlife management, rescue fire fighting, emergency planning and security, airside vehicle operations and safety management systems.

Regulatory requirements for those aerodromes that are not certified include CAR 301, and;

(a) The Minister may refuse to register an aerodrome where the operator of an aerodrome does not meet the requirements of sections 301.05 to 301.09 or where using the aerodrome is likely to be hazardous to aviation safety. In such a case, the Minister will not publish information with respect to that aerodrome and the aerodrome will not be registered.


  • (1) The Department recommends that an aerodrome operator/developer consult with local land use authorities prior to establishing an aerodrome and seek the necessary legal advice on compliance with the applicable laws. Any question, concerns or clarification respecting the application of law, division of powers, or jurisdictional issues should be directed to a lawyer.

Had this document been available to the bureaucrats at both the Regional and city levels there is reason to believe that the court case the city is involved in would not be on the Court Calendar.

The wheels of justice grind slowly – but they do move.

Background links:

Court find city site plan by law is valid.

Landfill dumping comes to a halt.

Who knew what when.

It all started last June.

Return to the Front page

Local Aldershot lad wants to make good by getting a seat on city council.

By Pepper Parr


January 12, 2014

“When people use the services we offer – they are buying me” is the way Jason Boelhouwer explains the franchise business he operates, which is the providing of services to people who need help taking care of themselves.

And Boelhouwer wants the people of Aldershot to buy him in the 2014 municipal election because he thinks it’s time for a change.  The incumbent has been in place since 2000 and, Boelhouwer, a believer in term limits, would like to see current Councillor Rick Craven step aside.

Jayson Boelhouwer wants to represent Aldershot at city council. He thinks its time for a change.

Boelhouwer has been involved in Aldershot civic affairs for some time.  He sits on the Plains Road Village Vision, right beside Craven; sits on the Aldershot Business Improvement Area, along with Craven.

Boelhouwer maintains that he had a chat with Rick Craven back in 2010 and let him know then that he was interested in running for the seat at some point.  Boelhouwer says Craven led him to believe that the 2010 term might be his last. “I talked with him again about 18 months ago and began to realize that he might well run again so I decided 2014 was going to be the year I ran for the council seat” said Boelhouwer.

Councillor Craven commented at one time to this reporter that taking a run for the office of Mayor was not out of the question.  Given that he has yet to file his nomination papers – we may see a race for the job of Mayor but it isn’t something I would count on.

The old Mercedes-Benz site was developed into a small housing project. Councillor Craven supported this kind of growth. Boelhouwer doesn’t have a strong position on development other than wanting enough people to draw a supermarket to the west end of the ward.

Jason Boelhouwer is Aldershot born and bred.  He brings all the strengths and weakness a small town produces in a personality. High school was in Aldershot followed by the earning of a degree at Brock University in St. Catharines.

Boelhouwer would not do all that much canvassing door to door. “You spend three hours covering a street and you get to talk to maybe 30 people, that’s not very effective” said Boelhouwer.

He isn’t all that keen on lawn signs either – doesn’t think how a person is going to vote is anyone’s business.   Boelhouwer would choose to put really large signs at major intersections where there is a lot of traffic and speaks the way only someone who knows everyone can speak.  My friend at – and names an intersection – will put up a big sign for me.  He believes as well that having a small sign in the windows of commercial establishments will do the trick.

Will Pluckers become campaign central for Jason Boelhouwer? He kind of likes the fireplace inside.

Boelhouwer plans to sit in front of the fire-place at Pluckers on Plains Road and let people know he is there ready to talk to them.  Id he picks up the bat tab for those that drop by – he will do well.  Otherwise B will not come before C in the final vote count.

Boelhouwer will tell you that there are seven hair dressers in Aldershot but no LCBO or supermarket in the west end of the ward.  The supermarket he understands is because there isn’t the population needed to justify that kind of investment by one of the chains but Boelhouwer points out there has been significant growth in Aldershot population – but he doesn’t speak as if he expects a supermarket in the near future.

Local politics are about pot holes and swimming pools and keeping the roads plowed.  Boelhouwer complains about the parking laybys that don’t get the snow cleared out of them making it difficult for people to park in front of the library for example.

Boelhouwer wants to see a Seniors’ Centre in Aldershot. “Oakville” he explains “has three locations for seniors but Burlington has just the one” and that is too tightly controlled for Boelhouwer’s  liking.

Aldershot really doesn’t have all that much in the way of destinations – there is IKEA at the east end and the RBG at the west end – other than that it’s Tim Hortons if you want to get together with people.

Planters along Plains Road have given what used to be a provincial highway a much more suburban look. Hasn’t slowed traffic down enough for most people – except for those who drive through the community.

Don’t talk to Boelhouwer about traffic – its bumper to bumper starting at about 3:30 he will tell you and they want to cut the west end of Plains Road down to just two lanes – ridiculous from Boelhouwer point of view.

Boelhouwer will give Craven credit for what he has done.  He has achieved what he set out to do – the Waterdown Road ramp to the 403 is in place and the King Road grade separation is done. Boelhouwer   sits on the BIA board and thinks Craven has far too much influence on the job that Bob Meehan does as Executive Director of the association and adds that it was the same with the previous occupant of the job.

Boelhouwer isn’t a fan of the Performing Arts Centre, he wouldn’t have approved the pier.  He did serve on the Museum Board for a period of time.  While Boelhouwer has toured the Performing Arts Centre he has not attended an event.

Earlier in life Jason Boelhouwer played soccer; today that sport is now one he coaches.  Jason and his wife have two children, a daughter in first year at Carleton University in Ottawa and a son at Assumption High in Aldershot.  His wife teaches at the same high school.

So what does he want to see Aldershot grow into?  That’s not entirely clear.  He doesn’t want to see five and six storey buildings going up along Planes Road that come right out to the edge of the sidewalk.  He wants to see more localized transit for people.  He would like to see a Seniors Centre added to the Arena and changes made to the transit service so that they could get to the location. Boelhouwer still calls the place the Kiwanis rink.

Boelhouwer believes he can build his name recognition.  His wife teaches at Assumption, he attended Holy Rosary.  His Mother was once a columnist for the Gazette when it was a print publication.  His is a strong parish member and an active participant in the Men’s club there.

While Boelhouwer  will tell you he does not have an identifiable political affiliation – all his advisers are Tory’s which may be more a reflection of Aldershot than Jason Boelhouwer.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

Craven is a known active Liberal, who has toyed with the idea of running against Jane McKenna – he thoroughly trounced her when she took a run at municipal politics in 2010.

Boelhouwer expects it will be difficult to reach the under 40 voters. “They are a disparate group and they are very busy people.  He hopes he can catch some of them at Fortino’s in the east end and at the Aldershot Go station as well.

Boelhouwer comes across as a likeable guy.  Folksy, friendly very much a part of his community.  He isn’t going to set the world on fire, there is no burning objective, there is no “plan”.  What he does want to make very clear is that he isn’t a copy of Rick Craven.

We look forward to what he has to say during the campaign.

Return to the Front page

Poor cousins get hand me down service from the city. Beachway residents complain of lousy service.

By Pepper Parr


January 12, 2014

It was always a poor cousin part of town.  Young people were told by their parents that nice people didn’t spend much time in the Beachway part of town.

The railway line ran yards away from hundreds of homes at one point; the beaches were often packed with close to a thousand people.  There are many that remember and celebrate the vivid sense of community that was once the Beachway – but that was a long time ago.

Today it is a bit of a backwater that the city is waiting to see totally changed and turned into some kind of a park – with no clear picture as to what kind of park they really want.

Burlington has always been a little at odds with the Beachway – the sewage treatment plant is in the middle of the community which doesn’t do much for the optics of that part of town – who wants to live next door to one of those.

The 30 homes in that part of town are in a kind of limbo – or real estate hell, while they wait for the Region and the city to figure out what they want to do.  That decision won’t be seen until April of 2015.  In the meantime all the people in that community know is that they won’t be expropriated and they aren’t going to get the services other parts of the city get.

Flooding along Lakeshore Road in the Beachway Park – home to some 30 residents. Poor ditch maintenance prevents the water from clearing.  View is from the front seat of a car.

The warm weather is melting the heavy snow we had at a very rapid pace.  People have been asked to ensure that the catch basins are cleared so that water can run into the sewer system.

There are no sewers along the part of Lakeshore Road that runs through the Beachway Park.  The ditches that would normally carry the water away tend to fill up with sand that gets blown in from the lake just yards away.

And the city doesn’t spend much time taking care of those ditches – the result is large pools of water on the roadways with what the local people call very poor signage warning people of the danger.

Poor cousins indeed.

The people living in the Beachway are loathe to call their council member – they just want to see him booted out of office.  So when there is a problem they turn to either the Mayor or Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who always comes to their aid. Mayor Goldring tends not to involve himself in ward matters preferring to leave it to the council member.

The people in the Beachway are not shy about voicing their views: “Beach residents have repeatedly and publically mentioned the ditches need to be dug down because the wind blows the sand off the beach which fills up the ditches and the water has nowhere to go. City staff have been present at many meetings – obviously, this has also fallen on their deaf ears.  It’s an easy fix” according to the residents.

Meed Ward agreed with the residents and in an email to that community said: “Very treacherous, thanks for sending. By copy of this email, I will ask our city staff to check when Lakeshore Road in this area is on the list for reconstruction and proper storm water management.”  Meed Ward and Craven don’t exactly have  a working relationship.  Her answering calls from the Beachway community will drive Craven bananas.

A major upgrade to the water sewage treatment plan has heavy trucks using the Beachway Park portion of LAkeshore Road.  Residents shouldn’t expect to see that road rebuilt for some time.  However the ditches could be serviced to allow flood water to flow.

The city isn’t going to do very much on that part of Lakeshore Road – heavy trucks use the road daily while the hospital is being rebuilt and the sewage treatment plant continues with its major upgrade.

Extreme flooding as ice melts due to lack of road/ditch maintenance, very poor signage creating an extremely dangerous situation and fatal accident waiting to happen claim the residents.  Immediate action is required.

With this much noise – something will be done.  The residents shouldn’t have had to make any noise at all.  The Beachway is a part of the city where taxes are levied and collected – and where services should be delivered.


Meed Ward Craven relationship.

Fate of the Beachway community.

Return to the Front page

Getting the horses into the gate is taking some time; starting buzzer doesn’t go off until September. Lots of time?

By Pepper Parr


January 11, 2014

Getting the horses into the gate is taking a bit of time.  The Usual Suspects are not rushing to actually commit – other than the Mayor, none of the incumbents has marched down to the Clerk’s office to file nomination papers.

Is this a picture we are going to see frequently> Will there be a change in the name on the name plate at city council?

There is clearly a race in ward 1 where two candidates have filed their papers; they now wait for the incumbent Rick Craven to file his papers.  One total newcomer, Katherine Henshell and a solid Aldershot resident, Jason Boelhouwer, who thinks it is time for a change, have filed their papers.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more “mayoral” than the man who wears the chain of office.

Ward 2 might be very quiet election night – there is every chance that incumbent Marianne Meed Ward will be acclaimed unless the hurt feelings within the developer community are big enough to have them find a name that can be printed on the ballot to run against Meed Ward.

It will be something to see Meed Ward sit out a campaign – she lives for the game, loves the play and the interaction.  A side-lined Marianne Meed Ward is not a pretty picture.  Trust her to find a way to insert herself into the election even if she is acclaimed; she could well use 2014 to begin her 2018 race for the office of Mayor.

That kind of thing happened in ward 1 when Jane McKenna took the bait an unhappy property owner put out and ran against Craven – only to be severely trounced.  However, that did give her a bit of a profile and she took the bait a second time when Keith Strong came calling with the Tory nomination in his hand.  This second run had a well-oiled machine behind McKenna and got her into office.  It will take more than a well-oiled machine to keep her there come the next provincial election.

John Taylor, Dean of city Council clearly doesn’t believe in term limits.

Ward 3 could be a cake walk for John Taylor – his profile is so high that it will take an exceptional candidate to overcome his name recognition.  While Taylor has served the people north of the 407 well, he isn’t one of them and you have to live on one of those side roads to fully understand what rural life is.

For reasons this writer doesn’t understand the rural community has not been able to find one of their own to represent them.  Ward 6, which has a large swath of land within its boundaries, is also represented by someone who lives in the suburban part of the city.  Burlington’s city council, and the Regional Council as well, desperately needs someone who can speak for the rural folk and represent their interest and life style.

Ward 4 will offer the most interesting race.  The incumbent is in trouble but he is redoubtable and is superb at the June to September campaign he runs where he cycles through every street in the ward which runs from Upper Middle Road, Appleby Line, Guelph Line down to the lake,  and pours on his charm and bats the baby blues.  They have worked for Jack Dennison in a number of his initiatives in his life.  Don’t count him out.

Brian Heagle – seen as a candidate for Ward 4. It is not the dog that wants your vote – could it it beat Brian were it to run?

Brian Heagle will run again.  Burlington will not be any better off should he win – and he did get within striking distance last time out.  They were separated by 1184 votes with Dennison getting 5292.  Had he worked a bit harder he could have taken the brass ring – but that’s the problem.  Heagle doesn’t do the hard work – and changing his political stripes hasn’t helped him

AND, there is a dark horse out there, thinking it over and taking his time while he decides if elected office is a next step in An already successful career.  If this horse is in the race don’t be totally surprised if you find him and Jack Dennison at your doorstep.  It is not unusual for an incumbent to decide it is time to leave and do so on the highest note possible.  Giving your blessing to a high quality candidate who could well go on to become Mayor in 2018 would add a little lustre to a damaged image in the ward.  It might even get Dennison into the Roseland Community Organization.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Ward 5 looks as if it is going to produce a flock of candidates.  There will be at least three in the race this time with a couple of other potentials mulling it over.  There were 9 candidates in 2006 and 7 in 2010.  Incumbent Paul Sharman has his work cut out for him.  If he can convince his community he has picked up some people skills and can deliver a bit more than parking spaces on the street and make a sound contribution during the budget debates and not throw everything off track the way he did with his 0% increase in the 2011 debates, he might prevail.  The ward has a history of putting forward a number of candidates that often turns into a crap shoot with the tumbling of the dice rather than a clear decisive vote count determining who wins.

Ward 6 – another part of the city with significant rural geography but not all that much in the way of population north of 407, has an incumbent who needs to change the image that has emerged.  The former Beauty Queen image doesn’t track anymore outside the die-hard Tory base.

Is north Burlington ever going to get the kind of representation it needs and deserves? It is going to be up to that community to find a local candidate that can draw support from the people south of 407 down to Upper Middle Road. Sarah Harmer – where are you when we really need you?

If a solid candidate emerges Blair Lancaster could be in serious trouble.  There is however an opportunity for her to show that she is indeed much more than a pretty face with a pleasant smile.  Serving as chair of the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee  gives Lancaster an opportunity to show she does have “cajones” and can deliver on the level ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven does as a committee chair.  Only time will tell if she can pull it off.  She does have the city’s best General Manager in place to guide and support her. If she does make it happen – there will be no stopping her.  A strong performance as chair is essential for her to stay alive politically.

The race for the Chain of Office worn by Mayors is totally unknown.  Mayor Goldring has filed his papers but other than that there is no sign or sense that he has done anything which kind of reflects his first term as Mayor.  We would really like to see a better Mayor Goldring and believe it is in there – somewhere – it’s just not visible – yet.


Return to the Front page