Next Saturday – Region making rain barrels available to Burlingtonians for $40. at Mapleview Mall

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 1, 2015  They are going to sell them by the truck load and at $40 they are a steal.  Trucks will be near the Hudson’s Bay entrance

in the lower parking lot on Saturday June 9 and will be on location from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

At $40 they are a bargain. Long life - see them as a feeder for the envirment.


Each rain barrel is priced at $40 – cash only – and will hold  208 litre – 55 gallons of water.  They are made of a durable plastic containing recycled content.  The rain barrels fit into the back seat of an average sized vehicle and require minimal assembly. Residents are responsible for adapting their downspout to flow into the rain barrel.  All the instructions you need come with the barrel.

Putting in and using a rain barrel is an important part of outdoor water conservation; it allows you to reuse rain water that would otherwise go to waste,” said Gary Carr, Halton’s Regional Chair. He added that  “Since Halton began the truckload sales in 2009, almost 13,000 rain barrels have been sold, which at full use has the potential to reduce water consumption by 2.6 million litres.”

For more information about the rain barrel sales events or the water efficiency program please contact Halton Region by dialing 311 or 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866, TTY 905-827-9833 or visit us online at

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Turbine spins its rotary blades off into never, never land. Mayor bails on renewable energy, says it was always a hydro project.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 31, 2012  The meeting started with comments from the city manager who said there was information that had to be made public, that is both ” painful and embarrassing”  but had to be told if he was to adhere to his policy of being transparent.  It is certainly not what Jeff Fielding cam to Burlington to do. As he put it – “this is not good for the administration”.

His question to council was that “if you had this information would you have made the same decision” – and he then turned the microphone to city engineer Tom Eichenbaum who took the meeting through a disappointing series of events where misunderstandings were not clarified and the knowledge level needed to deal with the way wind power can be harnessed, measured and put to a positive environmental use was not in the hands of the city engineer.

This latest pier situation came to light when city engineer Tom Eichenbaum said he was told by Burlington Hydro that the energy from the turbine that was to be built on the pier could not be fed into the power grid.

Eichenbaum did what a good bureaucrat does; wrote a report setting out the problem and included some options.   Install a battery pack in the utility room beneath the turbine – cost: $70,000 or forget about using a turbine at all and just buy power from hydro and light the 12 lamps that will illuminate the pier and the LED lights that will illuminate the tower that the turbine was to sit on top of.

Council was surprised, certainly didn’t want to spend anymore money on the pier and decided to kill the turbine.  That didn’t fit all that well with BurlingtonGreen and they delegated to council two weeks later – but council said – no we don’t want to do anything and approved the cancelling of the turbine.

What we didn’t know then, but know now is that (a) a battery pack was available for $20,000 and not the $70,000,  and that Council was not told on April 18th that  there was a program available now that would let the power from the turbine feed into the power grid.  Nor did the city know that this program would result in no electricity bill the powering the lights on the pier.  The program is part of the Green energy Act and has been available since 2007

This is a little technical but bear with me.

When the idea of a turbine was first proposed it was going to be paid for with a grant Burlington Hydro got from the provincial government under the RESOP program.  Burlington Hydro was the lead on this application. The program has since gone through several changes as has everything in the field of alternative energy.

A crane toppling over and falling into the water was the beginning of a sad, expensive story for the city.

When the crane accident took place in 2008 the idea of a turbine sort of got lost.  Was there even going to be a pier was the question on the front page.  Most people thought the pier was going to be THE issue in the 2010 municipal election.  The winner for the ward two council seat in that election made the pier her number one issue and while she had scared the daylights out of the Cam Jackson campaign it was Jackson’s record as a Mayor that did him in.  The people in ward two kind of liked the sound of Marianne Meed Ward and chose her over Peter Thoem.  Candidates Dave Bodini and Shannon Gillies didn’t rank.

The change in council meant there was a new Mayor and three new council members with Meed Ward wanting to go back and negotiate with the original contractor Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.,  and get the project back on track.  Council decided not to talk to Schilthuis and continue with the law- suit and re-tender the pier.

All was going well.  The city surrounded themselves with consultants who would ensure that the job got done right and it looked as if progress was being made.

Then the bumps.  The problem with getting power from the generator into the electricity grid became known mid April and the problem with the delivery of the steel that could pass the quality control tests emerged.  The first was an irritant that council solved by cancelling the turbine..  The second was much more serious and had the potential to delay the opening of the pier which could have very serious political implications.

Burlington Green didn’t buy the council committee decision to cancel the turbine and delegated to council and pointed out that the MicroFIT program the city said was not available was in fact available.  Eichenbaum did not appear to know that. The MicroFIT program did have a waiting list but it looked as if the wait would not impact on the city’s schedule.

More to the point – there was a second program called “net metering” that was also available and could be made operational just as soon as the turbine was installed.  The meters to measure the flow of electricity were already installed in the utility room.

The “net” – the difference between what we send and what we use is what we pay for.  Given Burlington’s situation we will,  most of the time, send in more energy than we use.  The only down side is that we don’t get any money for the energy we feed into the grid and don’t use. Burlington can live with that downside.  Eichenbaum did not appear to be aware that the program even existed.

Some significant mistakes had been made relating to information about getting a turbine in place and using the energy from the turbine to power the lights on the pier.  The city engineer had to take the meeting through a painful explanation as to what happened, where the mistakes were made and what steps were taken to fix the mistakes.  It was not a pretty picture.

We will take you through the sorry story:

On February 15th the engineering staff was told the transformer station on Cumberland Street could not accept an energy feed from the wind turbine.  The public first heard this news April 18th at a council committee when Council decided not to go along with the idea of a battery pack solution and to instead cancel the turbine.  BurlingtonGreen heard about this piece of news and delegated to the council meeting to advise the city that the grid could accept power under a program known as micro Fit that had been around since 2009.

That information goes to council committee and they decide to cancel the turbine.  It then goes to Council where BurlingtonGreen tries to get the decision reversed. Council still decides to cancel the turbine.

Engineering staff nevertheless follow up on what BurlingtonGreen taught them.  The city manager realizes that staff has misled council and prepares a document that goes to Committee May 30th and asks council this question.  “Given this new information we now have – would you still make the decision you made April 30th“.

At that May 30th meeting Eichenbaum explains in considerable detail what went wrong.  It was not a pretty picture.

Before Eichenbaum gave his version of things at that meeting,  two delegations spoke to Council, both from people well versed in the alternative energy business.  Martin Ince,  a consultant who does what are known as “big wind” projects was familiar with the wind on our part of Lake Ontario and advised council that they were doing the right thing.

Deborah Power from Niagara Wind Power, the company that was to be the supplier of the turbine that was going to be used,  explained that the turbines she was supplying could be used for both the MicroFIT program and the “net metering”  program; it was just a matter of which model you ordered, the cost was the same.

Net metering was apparently something Eichenbaum had not heard of before nor did anyone on council seem to know anything about this program.

Deborah Power of Niagara Wind Power explained how “net metering”  worked to Councillor Meed Ward who appeared to be the only council member interested enough to ask questions.

This is what the turbine that is supposed to be installed on the pier. Burlington Hydro provided the funds to pay for it and once installed it will generate power at no cost to the city for as long as 50 years. Council still chose to cancel the turbine. The hydro bill for electricity to light up the pier will come in at $35,000 annually - forever.

When the turbine is creating energy, Power explained,  it sends it to the electrical grid and the meter that reads the flow of energy turns BACK.  The lights are powered by electricity drawn from the electrical grid.  When we draw energy a meter that reads the energy used goes FORWARD .  The difference between the forward and the backward meters is the number that determines what our hydro bill is going to be.

Given the size of the generator Burlington was going to install and the projected need determined by the consultants – there would be no energy cost for lighting up the pier.  If there was an energy cost it would be very low.

Ms Power wasn’t able to say what Burlington’s energy cost is going to be without getting some basic information, like how many light standards are there going to be and how many LED lights – but she said with that information in hand she could tell the city almost to the dime what it will cost to light the pier with a turbine.  The number of $3200 per month was floated but it could not be verified.  $3200 x 12 amounts to $38,400 – forever.  And with the cost of energy sure to rise – well you get the picture.

A pier in North Carolina that reaches out into the Atlantic ocean has three turbines identical to the ones planned for Burlington.

With the microFit program the city would have entered into an agreement with the province to sell them energy at a fixed price for twenty years.  The city would then have to buy power from hydro at the going rate, which right now is lower than the going rate but we all know hydro is going to increase for those occasions when the turbine is not providing enough energy.

Despite this information – council chose to walk away from using a turbine.

Despite the foolish comments made by Councillor Sharman about ROI, return on investment – the turbine was being paid for by funds that Burlington Hydro got from the provincial government on our behalf.  That grant was for $100,000 and the cost of the turbine, installed and made operational was $ about $85,000   The city just didn’t have this data, didn’t know about net metering.  Your council lost the opportunity to make a wise, financially beneficial and environmentally friendly decision.  They didn’t have to cancel the turbine Wednesday night – they could have voted to defer and get all the facts.  They didn’t.

Councillor Dennison kept asking why the city wasn’t using solar – it was explained that solar wouldn’t work on the pier setting.  What Dennison didn’t tell anyone was that his Cedar Spring Health club operation was one of the 297 organizations in line for entry into the microFit program.  That information isn’t necessarily a conflict of interest but it was certainly relevant.

Councillor Taylor listened to the people from Niagara Power and had one question: “Do you have a claim against the city due to the cancellation of the turbine?”  When M’s Power said no Taylor  wanted to know why staff did not mention net metering.  The answer was because they didn’t know.  Taylor said he had never heard about the option before.

Councilor Lancaster didn’t appear to fully understand the issues and was busy chairing the meeting.

Councillor Craven didn’t appear to have an opinion – he asked just the one question about when the public would get out on the pier.

The Mayor chose not to lead the discussion and instead turned to staff asking: “What should we do?”

Staff had a bigger fish that had to be fried.  Getting the Pier done in time to open in 2013 is their single focus  – if that doesn’t happen – they might well be out of that frying pan and into the fire.

The city managers view was that “all things being equal we should leave the turbine our”.

Disturbing was that not one council member could see the financial benefit and ask staff to take a hard look at the information they had been given.  Niagara Wind Power had nothing to gain – they  already had a contract to provide the turbine.  They just felt there was a better deal for the city if they went the “net metering” route rather than the microFit.  Niagara Wind Power would and could install a turbine to do either.

Council was confused and thinking about the fall out if the pier was delayed. Goldring seemed unable to lead. Stewart is totally focused on getting the pier completed and from his perspective the matter of a turbine is “small potatoes” and he was prepared to live without one.  He did add that “this was awful from an environmental aspect”.

Meed Ward had all kinds of questions about net metering which brought all kinds of information to the surface.  Eichenbaum didn’t know anything about the subject. What Meed Ward missed was the significance of the real savings and long term advantage of going the net metering route.

The ward two Councillor asked: “What else don’t we know?  How is it possible that we didn’t know about net metering?  Did you know about this when you wrote your report?” she asked of Eichmann?

A council that just couldn't get its head around a very real cost savings for the lighting of the pier. The focus was instead on getting the pier completed for the summer of 2013. The delay until July of delivery of steel beams that meet the quality control specifications has put the 2013 date in serious jeopardy. If there is a hard winter and a late Spring the project will not make it for 2013. The next municipal election is in 2014. If the pier doesn't open the summer of 2013 - guess what the campaign issues will be?

Ms Power explained that the meters to do the measurement were already in the utility room.  Meed Ward has to be given credit for asking the questions about net metering and getting it on the table.

The Mayor wanted to thank staff for being candid and said: “In some ways this is a good thing, now we are saying no for other reasons.  I’m happy that we don’t have to worry about it now”.

Meeting in committee council chose to receive and file the report from Eichenbaum and not take the opportunity to seriously consider the turbine issue – they wanted to put it behind them.  The city manager gave them the opportunity to change their minds.  Two delegations presented more than enough information to at least ask for a delay and verify the data.

Any Schnurr of Burlington Green had written the Mayor earlier in the week.  Mayor Goldring responded in a letter that can only be seen as a brush off and what would appear to be an abandonment of his environmental position as a federal Green Party candidate.

In the Mayors response to Schnurr he said:  At last night’s Community Service Committee, Council was asked to review new information about the wind turbine that was removed from the pier project.

 Council received and filed the report last night. This means that the turbine project was not reconsidered and remains out of the project scope.

 Council and staff are focused on completing the pier. The wind turbine was a project initiated by Burlington Hydro in 2005. At that time, renewable energy was in its infancy relative to local projects. The project was for demonstration purposes.

 Since 2006, when the pier project was originally rendered, technology and implementation of renewable energy projects has progressed. The City recently implemented a significant project at Fire Station # 8 and is continuing to look at appropriate opportunities for renewable energy use. The City has also initiated the Community Energy Program to look at long term energy sustainability and this project will include, energy conservation and renewable energy generation as part of the long term plan.

 A wind turbine at the end of the pier presents some challenges. Given the option, Council has chosen to minimize any of those issues and I am sure will continue to look at viable renewable projects in the future.

Most of those comments are true – what the Mayor fails to recognize is the the city will have to spend more than $35,000 a year forever to pay for the electricity that will light up the pier.

That may be an email the Mayor will come to wish he had not sent.

The problem with the turbine has been confusing and perplexing.  The whole pier project has been xxx  The meeting at which all this got worked through had its own form of  “black humour”  Deborah Powers had told Meed Ward that  short of a plane crashing into the turbine it would last 50 years.  Almost simultaneously council members responded with – “what if a crane fell onto it?  It was that kind of meeting.

The city’s  communication department chose to issue a short statement saying: City staff yesterday gave the Community Services Committee some key updates related to the Brant Street Pier—including details about steel delivery, the wind turbine and the city’s legal activity.

The committee heard that despite the steel installation scheduled for July, several months behind schedule, the delivery date of the completed pier will still be June 2013. The project remains on budget, according to the amount approved by council in September 2011.

It was a glum looking city manager who talked of being "embarrassed" at how council was mislead over the turbine matter. He has taken the view that the pier completion date 54 weeks from now can still be met. He is however figuring out what mitigation measures he should be taking.

“We wanted to confirm that the right quality of steel has been ordered,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “We are reviewing our timelines, but I believe that we can make up for any schedule delays.”

Wind turbine:  Staff also introduced a report providing information about the wind turbine and renewable energy options for the pier project. City Council removed the wind turbine in April after being told the city could not hook up to the power grid. Staff then cancelled the order for the wind turbine. 

In May, city staff met with hydro officials and discovered that the city may be able to connect to the grid through the MicroFIT program run by the Ontario Power Authority.  

Committee chose not to reverse the wind turbine decision, instead considering renewable energy opportunities as part of the city’s Community Energy Plan in conjunction with Burlington Hydro.

Legal update:  The city’s legal team provided a confidential update to the Community Services Committee. The city is entering the next phase of litigation proceedings which includes the exchange of documents and discoveries. 

I don’t think the city has heard the last of this issue.  BurlingtonGreen will probably be back; Meed Ward may decide she wants to attempt to revive the issue.

Stay tuned.


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Police identify and arrest three identity theft thieves.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 31, 2012  The Fraud unit of the Halton Regional Police is keeping very busy – they recently arrested three people who have been stealing identities and using those identities to purchase high value items at big box stores in a stretch of Ontario that runs from Mississauga to Brantford.

Detective Brad Murray, Regional Fraud Unit, who was involved in the arrest of a group that were skimming data from Automatic Teller Machines a number of months ago has put his experience with identity fraud to this most recent case.

The investigation into his most recent challenge began back in April and culminated on May 23rd with the arrest of three individuals and a search warrant on their residence.  Police recovered an assortment of gift cards, $8000.00 in US and Canadian currency along with $20,000.00 in jewellery.

Also located in the home were over 27 different identities and a taser/stun gun. Police are in the process of contacting the victims of the identity thefts and the investigation is still ongoing as investigators anticipate laying additional charges.

Charges are Craig Alanzo McIntosh (37), Kevin Oneil McIntosh (35) and Jennifer Halyk (32) all of Mississauga. The trio face over 95 criminal code charges relating to Fraud, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime and Possession of Identity Information.  All are scheduled to appear in Milton Court on the 19th of June, 2012.


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Good grief – will this never end? Pier problems persist. Completion date threatened.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 31, 2012  It was a tough night for the Pier – bad news galore and some serious cock ups as well.  A city council committee learned in considerable detail what the problems were with the turbine and learned as well that the actual construction of the pier will get a later start than planned.

It was a long meeting, individual interests intruded on the process, it became evident that a senior staff member didn’t have a firm grip on the file but there was a hint that there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

Stripped of the beams installed by the first contractor - the Burlington Pier sits naked waiting for beams made of steel that has been fully tested. That testing, which is essential just might delay the opening of the pier. And that wouldn't be a bad thing. That platform to the right is a working trestle that will be dismantled when the construction work is completed.

Lets start with the Pier.  The steel needed to build the deck with had to be returned because it did not meet the specifications.  Having had disastrous problems with the steel used in the first attempt to build a pier out into Lake Ontario the city decided it was not going to make that mistake again and hired a consulting firm to test every piece of steel that went to the fabricator.  Fabricators cut, weld and bend steel based on the design plans they are given.

A shipment of steel that went to the fabricator recently was tested, found deficient and was returned to the manufacturer.   The search then began for steel that would pass the tests from a North American supplier – it looked as if none could be found and that steel would have to be sourced from China – which would have meant a very significant delay.

Steel was found, a batch was sent to the fabricator, it passed the tests and so the contractor ordered all the steel needed.  Guess what?  CP rail went on strike, which meant using trucks to ship the steel.  Guess what?  All the people who used to use rail were now scrambling to get trucks so the contractor is still waiting for the steel to arrive.

And that is why we will not see any construction work being done on the building of the deck of the Pier that will reach out into Lake Ontario.

Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services commented that “this project did not go as smoothly as it should have”.  He got that right – it has been a colossal and consistent mess that Stewart is trying to get back on track and on schedule – and the breaks are just not coming his way.

Stewart wasn’t with the city when the pier project started and he wasn’t all that involved during the city’s experience with the first contractor.  He is the point man on the project now and is doing all that can be done to get it to completion.  He isn’t getting the level of professionalism he needs from some of his staff.

The problems with the turbine are not helping either.

The delays in getting the steel beams in place does create problems.  Once the steel beams are in, the concrete has to be poured and that can become dicey in colder weather.  The hope – and that’s about all it is at this point – is that the weather will be mild in December so that the concrete can be poured.  If the concrete is not poured in December an opening date of June 2013, in time for Sound of Music, becomes difficult to achieve.

The Mayor, in his enthusiasm to see this project through, said many months ago that he looked forward to seeing the pier officially opened during Sound of Music in 2013.  It was a bit of local booster-ism and his way of showing his unqualified support for a project that has been nothing but problem after problem since the day it started but Goldring was committed to seeing it through to completion.

All those beams, in place but useless. They were removed and now the city waits for new steel beams so that construction can begin - again.

It might make some sense to begin preparing the public for an opening date beyond 2013.  Are we going to do this on time or are we going to do it right.  We certainly aren’t going to do it on budget.

Staff are being resolute on insisting that they do it right and that pressure from the community not result in short cuts being taken.

The engineering people are working on mitigation plans – those are the plans you put in place when it looks as if the original plans are not going to work out.

The contractors will now begin work on the front part of the pier, the apron section that leads up to the actual deck part of the project.  This is work that was going to be done later in the project but with no work that can be done installing steel beams the contractor will do whatever they can to show some progress.

The city met with the president of the construction company, Graham Infrastructure, to ensure that they fully understood and appreciated the situation the city faces.

No mention was made of any additional cost due to the delays in getting the kind of steel that is needed.

That’s the Pier part of the story.  The turbine is another part that we tell you elsewhere.  That one is both a real mess and a glaring failure on the part of the engineering staff.  Burlington Hydro doesn’t come out of this looking very good either.

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Transparency means telling your constituents as much as you possibly can – trust them and they will learn to trust you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 30, 2012  Council will meet this evening and probably approve the repairs to the Drury Lane pedestrian bridge, approve a bunch of paving contracts.  They will also hear from the BurlingtonGreen people about the turbine they want to see on the Pier.  It won’t be a long meeting, there doesn’t appear to be anything contentious on the agenda.

What I hope we hear this evening is an announcement from the Mayor that he and Councillors Lancaster and Sharman will be off to Saskatoon to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference.  So far we have not heard a word about this event at a public meeting.

Politicians tend to shy away from talking about those occasions when they are going to be spending public funds on themselves.  Mayor Goldring is given a sum to be spent on the things a Mayor does.  He proudly reported that he had not spent all the money he has given – which I personally think is failing to do his job.  He was given the money to use – use it.

Three of the magnificent Seven are off to Saskatoon. Goldring, Sharman and Lancaster pack their bags for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention. The rest of the country gets to see what we have to offer.

The community elects people to represent them.  The seven people we elected in Burlington oversee the spending of $ 116 million operating budget and close to $22 million in capital spending and the employment of more than 1000 people.  The decisions they make impact directly on the quality of life we live in this city.  We need to trust them and they need to trust us – and that means telling us everything they do.

In the past few days, as I drive down Guelph Line (in my car and not on my bike)  I have seen dozens of young men and woman wearing those bright safety vests planting plants, flowers and shrubs.  My tax dollars are being used to pay for those people and plants and in the next few weeks I am going to be treated to what I think will be a delightful scene.  I think that was good spending.

I think sending Goldring, Lancaster and Sharman to Saskatoon is also good spending – but while the Mayor will comment on the plants and how nice they make the city look – he is loath to talk about occasions when funds are spent on sending Council members to conventions.

At this point we don’t have an adequate process for determining what we should pay these Council members and if they dare increase their salaries by more than $100 there is a huge howl from the public.

I don’t agree with some of the decisions they make.  Some of the comments made at Council border on real dumb and uninformed.  There are times when a Council member hasn’t done their homework.  There are times when they get into the details of a project – that’s what staff are there to do – but on balance this is a good council doing good work.  This is our Council.  They work hard, they are diligent.

We have a new city manager who left a larger city to come to Burlington because the Council where he was didn’t work the way the Burlington Council works.  And the Mayor he parted ways with in London was an experience he did not want to endure any longer.

Let three members of our Council be off to Saskatoon – serve us well and don’t mention that Burlington is the second best city in the country to live in too often – it will grate on your colleagues.  Also, a real close look at the data that got us the award isn’t all that positive.

And please, be more open with your citizens – trust them so they can trust you.  You didn’t intend to hide anything – you just didn’t want to raise the ire of those who howl when you spend anything and then complain loudly when you don’t rake up the leaves fast enough or clear their sidewalks of snow in the winter.  You’re dealing with the public – the good, the less than good and the very unpleasant.




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How about this for transparency – it could have been buried. Chief finishes his tour of duty on Thursday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 30, 2012.  Halton Regional Police report the arrest of one of their own on a mischief charge.  You don’t see that very often.  Police tend to protect their own.

A 27-year-old Halton Regional Police Service officer has been charged with Mischief following an incident in Oakville.

Constable Chris Peters, 27, of Oakville was charged with mischief and will appear in court in Milton June 19th.  The officer, a three year member of the force, was suspended from active duty with pay.

Halton had a significant number of its officers taking part in the GTA conference in Toronto last year where things got very out of hand and police were seen to be abusing their authority.  In the near future we will see at least 30 senior Toronto police officers charged under the Police Act – some careers may come to an end.  We’ve not heard anything about the Halton Police involvement.

Last time retiring police chief Gary Crowell appears in uniform with his senior officers. Will one of the two become the next chief? Police Services Board is expected to make an announcement soon.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is the last day Gary Crowell serves as Halton’s Chief of Police.  Deputy police chief Andrew Fletcher will take over and do so on a rotating basis with Bob Percy, the other deputy chief until a new chief is announced.

The Halton Police Services Board is expected to make an announcement very soon.


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Queensway community will have the pedestrian bridge before kids go back to school.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON May 30, 2012  It came in at $60,000 above the original estimate which might cause some indigestion at Council committee this evening but the bridge has to be repaired.  That the bridge was repaired at all was because the community it serves rose up and complained very loudly and council listened and put out tenders for the repairs.  The longer term solution is thought to be a tunnel under the rail lines but that’s twenty years into the future; and if it ever happens the Queensway community will be a lot different than it is today.

Repairs and maybe a paint job - ready for the kids to cross getting back to school - assuming council committee approves the cost - $440,000

The Queensway community was very upset when the bridge was suddenly closed last November because it was deemed to be unsafe.   City Council struggled with spending more than $350,000 on a bridge that few people used.  The community responded with several delegations to city hall and set the record straight on that issue.  City staff worked very hard and came up with some creative ideas to get people across the railway tracks – but none of them proved very feasible.  They deserve credit for the work they did, at times in very short notice.  The city had to either tunnel under the tracks or fix the bridge that went over the tracks – that was an easy decision to make.  The repairs were approved.

The community response was an interesting example of how community and council interact.  Council knew very little about the community and the bridge that gave it a way out of a part of town that while not land locked isn’t easy to get in and out of without a car.  It’s an older community with exceptionally large lots that developers have seen as ripe for townhouse type dwelling developments.  It is a very short walk to the GO station and if the numbers of new residents rises enough there might even be bus service into the area.

The first of the developments is now underway.  A community appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board didn’t get them anywhere..  Part of the problem with that appeal is that the person who filed the documents no longer lived in the community, which in itself doesn’t preclude an appeal – but it does make it harder to make ones case.  In this situation the case wasn’t made and the OMB web site says the matter is closed.

The work on the bridge will begin almost immediately and is scheduled to be completed by August – in time for the kids to use when they return to school.

There were four bids to repair the bridge – in this case the lowest tender ($350,339.55) is being recommended. The bid is just part of the cost.  Internal engineering services came to $10,000; CN flagman added $20,000 and the people who did the design and contract administration added $40,000 to the cost.   The highest bid came in at $731,688.56 – wonder how they came up with that number?

This will probably make it through council committee and get a rubber stamp at full Council.  It is on the agenda for committee as a consent matter; they don’t even want to talk about it.







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More than three quarters of the car seat installations tested by police at an Oakville car seat clinic fail.


By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 30, 2012  – The people doing the car seat installation tests must have been pretty tough – 76% of those tested failed..  That will have shaken up some parents.

Were police being a little too tough or are that many parents driving around with car seats that are not safe?

There is a right way and a wrong way to install a car seat. You have to have one - might as well do it properly.

The car seat clinic took place in Oakville last Saturday at Town Hall.  Here is what Halton Regional Police had to say:  “A total of 126 vehicles with car seats and boosters were checked.  Of those 96 failed the quick check.  The overall failure rate at this clinic was 76 %.

Although the clinic is aimed at educating the public, one driver was charged with having a 4 year old child in no seat at all. They were given a free seat prior to leaving the spot check.

Studies have shown that by using a child safety seat properly the chance of a child being killed or injured in a collision can be reduced by 75%. Safety is our highest priority-the best child safety seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and one that you use every time your child is in the car.

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Mayor Goldring in Saskatoon for municipal pow wow – will return to face Schnurr of BurlingtonGreen. She will best him – again.

By Pepper Parr.

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012   BurlingtonGreen will be back at a council committee meeting providing input and prodding to ensure that the  wind turbine intended for the Pier in the original plans gets installed.

Amy Schnurr tells the Mayor in a letter that she “believes  it to be most unfortunate that the issue needs to be brought to Committee for further debate. Prior to what turned out to be inaccurate information presented to you and the public on April 18, the wind turbine installation was to proceed as planned.

“While the original project was approved by the former Council, we have seen no evidence to suggest this Council had plans to remove the feature from the pier project under its’ current contract. We expect with the hire of a new pier contractor in the fall of last year, the entire project budget was reviewed carefully with decisions made to retain or cancel or modify various components. It is our understanding that the wind turbine remained as a component to be included in the pier project up until April 18, 2012.

Engineering drawing of the turbine tower with observation deck. Rotary blades would be atop the structure,

“All the reasons the turbine was originally approved are still valid. Burlington still needs renewable energy; the pier is a high profile location and will deliver a valuable message to Burlingtonians and our City’s visitors. The project was never intended to make money and it will not be losing money under microFIT.

“Additionally, on May 18 we asked the following from Mr. Eichenbaum (City Engineer) : Can you advise if any structural work was required for the pier to accommodate the turbine feature? If so, can you advise of cost for this added work? He replied: (The design requires a “heavy duty” structure for the Beacon node for the extra viewing deck and the beacon tower frame for the LED Lights. The 2nd upper deck and the beacon tower for the Lights are still part of the project even if the Wind Turbine is not included. We aren’t planning to redesign the beacon structure even with the Turbine not included in the project.)

“Although we did not receive a response regarding the cost estimate, it appears that structural work to support the beacon tower (as part of the original turbine feature) has been included and we would assume with associated costs. This provides further rationale to proceed with the turbine installation. Doing so is financially responsible to the taxpayer.

“As a solution focused agency, we are pleased to have been able to help identify and share accurate facts on this issue. Contrary to what we have heard and read, BurlingtonGreen did not “do digging” to uncover the facts as the majority of the information was forwarded to us. We are less concerned about the misinformation of the past and more about making the right decision based on the facts you now have before you. Please vote to continue the plan to install the wind turbine on the pier as originally approved.

A single piece of construction equipment sits out on the Pier - waiting for steel beams to arrive. Why aren't they here yet?

Schnurr closes her letter with: “We would like to remind Council that during my delegation on April 30 we requested the item be deferred to allow for public awareness and input and to explore potential solutions. You declined this option and instead voted to cancel the turbine project. Thus we would expect you remain in a position to make a decision to install the turbine without further public input or delay and continued debate.

Schnurr has drawn her line in the sand – will council meeting in committee vote to put the turbine back into the plan and put it behind them and move on to – why there isn’t any work being done on the Pier.  We thought you made hay when the sun was shining – and the sun has certainly been shining – but there are no works crews out on the Pier.  Why not?

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Hospital Foundation has $12 of its $60 million in hand, city will use its $60 million to pay for equipment and furnishings.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012  They appear to have changed something, maybe it was the water, maybe it was the music – maybe someone spiked the water – whatever – the city and the hospital administration are about to do kissy, kissy and make up.

Mario Joanette, vice president communications for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital,  attended the Budget and Corporate Services Committee where Council was given an Update on where things are with the hospital.  We wish to report that they are much, much better.

We can now tell you what the $60 million the city is going to give the hospital is going to be spent  on.  We got an upgrade from having our money spent on a parking garage.  The funds the city gives the hospital will be spent on things like operating room equipment, an MRI machine perhaps, furnishings for some of the hospital rooms  – all stuff  the hospital would have had to buy out of their own funds – will now be paid for with money the city provides.

Here roughly is the way that will work – the hospital will buy a piece of equipment and tell the city what it cost and the city will write a cheque and will keep writing cheques until they have spent $60 million.  Pretty straight forward.

Demotion of an older building underway. Site is where the new parking garage will be built. City money will not be paying for this structure.

The city will also work out a list of the kinds of things they would like to pay for – we don`t want to be seen as the donours of just vases for the hospital waiting room.

It took months to get this worked out and over that period of time the hospital has come to realize that the city is just not going to roll over and let the hospital dictate what happens to our money.  It has been a struggle.  Councillor Taylor called the agreement that has been reached a “great compromise”. The hospital administration has had and continues to have a problem with transparency.

During the Committee meeting Councillor Dennison asked how much had been raised at the Saturday evening Gala.  Joanette strode to the podium and said – he wasn’t able to say – but he was able to say that they  raised more this year than last and they had their largest event ever.  Now Councillor Dennison has been at this game a lot longer than Joanette and he asked – `How much did you raise last year?  Joanette couldn’t duck that one – $250,000 he  replied.  So this year the Gala raised more than  $250,000 – Wow, talk about pulling teeth from a hen.

Councillor Dennison knew he was on a bit of a roll and he asked” how much had been raised in donations to the re-development fund?  That turns out to be $12 million – THAT is a very good number.

$12 million certainly isn't chump change - good start to what is going to be a long fund raising campaign. When the voice mail is from Anissa Hilborn - do return the call.

No announcement from the hospital Foundation about that number.  There have been no announcements – the hospital to the best of our knowledge hasn’t said anything – yet.  Actually, it is not the hospital that should be making that kind of announcement – it should be coming from the President of the Hospital Foundation Anissa Hilborn or the Chair of the Fund Raising Committee – Brian Torsney.

Something still isn’t running the way it should at the hospital.  For reasons that aren’t quite clear yet,  the hospital isn’t tied to the community.  That responsibility rests with the hospital board – the members of that Board are the people that are the public’s link to the hospital – but for some reason – that Board chooses not to say much.  They seem to defer to the hospital administration.  And that has resulted in a rocky relationship between the city and the hospital.  It need not be that way – it shouldn’t be that way – but it is.  Unfortunate.

However, there is hope on the horizon.  The hospital will hold its Annual General Meeting in about three weeks and Mayor Goldring will be the keynote speaker.  That may be the first step in closing the rift between the two institutions and will give the Mayor an opportunity to talk about the kind of relationship the city needs with its hospital.

The agreement on where the city’s money will be spent is expected to be final sometime in June when a revised Contribution Plan goes to Budget and Corporate Services July 10th and to city Council July 16th.

With that irritant out of the way the next hurdle is the site plan for the re-development.  That kind of business usually gets handled by the Planning department but it has been un-delegated and is now handled by council  Planners have been meeting weekly with hospital people and they expect they will be ready to come to Council for site plan approval sometime in the fall.  There is considerable pressure to get the site plan approved so that the construction can begin.

Councillor Craven threw a small spanner in the wheels on that one when he reminded Council that the project could not go to a committee for approval until it has been presented to the community and that there are no meetings in August.  That’s a little awkward isn’t it?

What matters for the citizens of Burlington is that their Council has assured itself that the $60 million the city is putting up for the redevelopment will be spent on things the citizens will find useful.  We don’t have to worry about bricks and mortar or watching milestones.  They buy a piece of equipment for a hospital that has already been built and we pay for it.

Later in the year the city gets to see the site plan and approve it.  There will be sufficient public involvement.  The hospital has retained a “design consultant” to prepare a “campus plan” showing the full development of the site that will include the parking garage/administration building and the hospital expansion/redevelopment.

The city planners and hospital people met recently and held a Design Charette to talk through different ideas on what could work and what wouldn’t work.  Submission of the draft campus plan is expected by the end of June – which is where Councillor Craven sees the log jam – if it comes to the city at the end of June it has to go to the community and then to a council committee and then to Council and all that has to happen during the month of July – and that’s not possible with the meeting cycle Burlington uses.

Watch for a Special Council meeting to bunt this one home.

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First Bike to Work Day crowd small – can it grow? Alton & Orchard residents would have to put their life in their hands to be part of this.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 28, 2012  There weren’t traffic jams around city hall but there were more than fifty people who made it to the breakfast served by the city to mark the first Bike to Work Day which was part of the Smart Commute Halton, that the city and the Chamber of Commerce got behind this year.

It was a start, marred by some political bafflegab that seems to have to be said.  Here`s a sample:

With a hearty breakfast in their tummies the cyclists that made it to city hall for the first Bike to Work Day in Burlington, pose and are now part of the city's history. Photo supplied by Region)

“Transportation is an important issue for Halton residents,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “By partnering with the Metrolinx Smart Commute program, Halton Region is proud to offer Halton businesses and residents an easy to use alternative to driving alone. By working with the City of Burlington and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, we’re excited to have motivating events like Bike to Work Day where cyclists can be thanked for their contribution towards making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

“We encourage Burlington residents and employees to seek alternate means of transport whenever possible,” says Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Whether you’re riding, walking or rolling, we hope to see you get up, get out and get moving.”

It would have been nice to hear an announcement about specific road improvements that would make it possible for people north of the QEW to actually cycle into the downtown core.  It`s still a divided city for cyclists.

The next item on the agenda of those who would have us our bicycles every day of the week is two Car Free Sundays – June 10 and July 15.



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We may all have to learn to be immigrants suggest Deb Pickfield, TEDx speaker and head honcho at Thinkspot.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012  She was added to the speakers list at the last minute – or so it appeared,  but she may have had the idea most worth talking about at the Burlington TEDx, held at the Performing Arts Centre last Sunday.  Deb Pickfield, head honcho of Thinkspot, a place on Locust Street, where ideas move forward, just a hop skip and a short jump from where she spoke to more than 100 people suggesting  immigrants are the embodiment of innovation and that if we do not innovate, our economy cannot grow in a sustainable manner.

Using data and commentary from the Conference Board of Canada, Pickfield explained: “At every level of analysis, immigrants are shown to have an impact on innovation performance that is benefiting Canada.

 Immigrants are by definition seekers of a better way—the very embodiment of innovation

To immigrate:  to become established in a new environment

What can we learn from people who immigrate?

What would it take for us to behave and think like immigrants?

Can it happen when we simply learn the job of someone else or join a new network?

Why would someone immigrate? 

How would they feel?  Scared?  Uncertain?   Hopeful?

Why would the hope be worth the uncertainty and fear?

Why would people who immigrate be willing to risk everything and learn a whole new way of being in order to build a better future for themselves, their children, and their children’s children?

What can we learn from immigrants who RISK, SHARE, LEARN when they decide to leave their old environment?

Deb Pickfield, TEDx Burlington speaker and president of Thinkspot, suggests to an audience that immigrants are the real innovators and that we have much to learn from them.

Why are we afraid of RISK?

Why do we start to build walls around ourselves at age 9, Grade 4, when we realize others are better at certain things than us?

Why do we fear failure? 

Why is it difficult to embrace failure as learning?

What would it take for us to share what we have and know with others?

What would we share to create a better future for generations we don’t even know yet?

Why is it difficult to give up in order to share?

Why are we likely uncomfortable with these gaps of silence?

Why do we do our best to fill periods of silence?

What if we are not listening to others if we are waiting to fill the gaps of silence?

What if immigrants listen well to understand and to LEARN?

What would we do if we could not be understood?

Would we listen deeper to understand more?

What if by living in a community like Burlington, in a country like Canada, we become too comfortable?

What if by being comfortable we become complacent?

What if by being complacent we seek to protect what we have?

What if to protect we focus on safety and security?

What if by building safety and security we risk less?

What if by risking less, we learn and contribute less?

What if we could RISK, SHARE, LEARN like an immigrant?

What if these are the key ingredients for creativity?

What if we need to RISK, SHARE, LEARN to be innovative?

Can we be that strong?

Can we try, stumble, fall and keep on going?

Can we afford not to?

What if we make a point of RISKING, SHARING, LEARNING something every day?

What’s stopping us from having the heart of an immigrant?

Those are ideas worth sharing – but the comfortable who have become complacent and have forgotten how to share risk and learn are the ones who will eventually lose out to the innovators who are probably going to be immigrants who are going to eat our lunch and take away our clients – because they know how to risk, share and learn.

Pickfield is on to something – are the rest of us?





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Culture runs into politics – guess who wins? Cultural guru Jeremy Freiburger bites the hand that feeds him.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 28th, 2012  – Biting the hand that feeds you is never a wise thing to do.  Ticking off the people who sign your pay check might be called just plain dumb.

Telling a Ward Councillor in Burlington that you don’t particularly want him to attend a meeting you have called in the Councillors Ward and announcing the meeting without informing the Councillor borders on suicidal.  It gets better.  Jeremy Freiburger also advertised the events in the local newspaper without informing the Council members.

Two of the Burlington Council members are going to be away on the dates the events are to take place in their Ward’s.  Councillor Taylor will be on vacation and asked for an “interview with Freiburger. Councillor Dennison will be in Apeldoorn, our twin city in Holland the day the Cultural Conversation is to take place in his ward.

Cultural guru doesn't make any friends with Burlington council members - tells them they are not wanted at public Cultural Conversations.

Freiburger  advised the two council members that they weren’t actually wanted at the meeting.  Freiburger explained that council members sometimes influence voters unduly.  Ouch!  Most politicians believe that it is the voters who influence them.

Councillor Jack Dennison looked a little dumb struck when he heard those words and he too asked for an “interview with Freiburger.

Councillor Taylor told Freiburger that he had chosen the wrong place for the event in his ward; Councillor Lancaster added that holding two events at Tansley Woods was a mistake as well.

Cultural has its sensitivities and politics has its nuances – Freiburger may have the sensitivities of culture down pat – but he has a lot to learn about the nuances of politics.  Trust Councillors Taylor and Dennison to straighten him out very quickly.  Councillor Lancaster may also have a couple of choice words for Mr. Freiburger.

Jeremy Freiburger is the cultural guru the city has hired to oversee the development of the Cultural Plan that will come in at a little over $100,000  – $61,500 of that is provincial money, the rest came from you dear taxpayer.  If done properly a sound cultural plan can make a difference – the plan is the easy part – it is the execution of the plan that matters and that calls for as much collaboration as possible.

Telling Councillors that you don’t want them at an event in their ward that will deal with something as sensitive as culture is not what is meant by collaboration.

Mr. Freiburger may find his reception at the “interviews” he will be having on the 7th floor of city hall a little on the frosty side.

Freiburger   also oversees the city’s Public Art Plan and is shepherding the choice of art for the front of the Performing Arts Centre, which by the way is progressing nicely – there is interest from local artists, regional artists, national and international artists.

This particular piece of public art is being funded to a very significant degree by local businessman Don Laurie of Dan Laurie Insurance, a company with offices in Burlington and Hamilton.

That one has a bit of a tussle going on over just how much the city has to say about what goes on property, which the city points out to the BPAC people is property that the city owns.

The Memorandum of Agreement between the city and BPAC has yet to be signed, that has been going back and forth between the city and the lawyers for more than a year – so in actuality the BPAC people are basically just squatters.  But that’s another story we will follow up on for you.

Freiburger  was taking Council through the process he is using to get the Cultural Plan completed and in place by the end of March next year.  That is going to be tight and Freiburger is going to need Council on his side – he didn’t have them with him Monday morning.

There are plans for a very significant amount of public involvement beyond the planned ward meetings.  Interaction with the Sound of Music and the Children’s Festival is included in the plans.

Cobalt Connects is a simple concept - Freiburger went for a sophisticated look and what is really top level design - that works for the arts and design community. Burlington's city council just didn't get it.

Freiburger is a decent presenter – he would talk and then break for some back and forth question and answer.  Freiburger is a big believer that there has to be strong leadership if a Cultural Plan is to become effective and he wanted to know how Council felt about cultural management – pointing out that Burlington tends to prefer external relationships for cultural management.

“Does Council” he asked “have feelings regarding the development of internal cultural expertise vs. external?”  He got his answer – Council felt that the city could manage its own cultural plan – it just needed to put one in place.

“How often do you want to hear from us” Freiburger asked Council.  At least once a month they replied – they are going to keep this guy on a short leash.

There is a lot of rally good stuff in the plan that has been put together.  We will report in more detail later in the week.  It was given to the council members in a workshop setting – at some point it will work its way to Council Committee – that’s where the pruning will get done.


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Burlington`s first TED event – ideas worth spreading – held at Performing Arts Centre.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 28, 2012  TEDx Burlington came and went – some 100 people plus filled the Community Room of the Performing Arts Centre and then trooped up Locust Street to ThinkSpot!  after the three hour event,  where they munched on sandwiches and continued the conversation.  In a couple of weeks the Burlington ideas worth talking about will be up on the TED web site and those of you who couldn’t score a ticket will be able to see what the rest of us took in.  We will let you know when the presentations are available for the rest of the public.

Some very powerful statements were made.  There was some difficulty managing the time allotted to each speaker – they were supposed to be limited to 18 minutes and that didn’t work with the one session, to the point where the impact of the point the speaker was making was lost.

The live presentations were interspersed with feeds from some of the really great presentations done in the past by other TEDx’s

TEDx is about ideas that are worth talking about and the story Arthur Fleischmann told of his daughter Carly was amazing – but was it an idea worth talking about?  It wasn’t an idea – it was the story of a man and his autistic daughter who has made tremendous strides and as a teenager has come to the point where she can communicate with people like us.  The story is truly magnificent and we will pass it along to you when they have been prepared for internet loading –  it wasn’t an idea that revealed anything to me other than the courage her Father has shown as he walked with his child.

The Josh Nelson story was told – Josh wasn’t able to make it to the live session.  Dramatic, tearful, the story of immense personal courage.  But was it an idea worth talking about?

Scott Graham told about bullying and the damage done.  He mentioned more than half a dozen students who had committed suicide. – the two woman beside me could not hold back the tears.  It was very hard to listen to and they didn’t return after the break.

TED was a concept developed to take ideas that people had; ideas worth talking about and give them a public forum.   Two of the ideas that came out of past TED sessions held in other cities are set out for you below.

Both are quite short – one is a great idea about how we can solve a serious problem with getting clean water that people can drink during a crisis when water is available only in plastic bottles.  This is something that is really worth talking about.  The Mayor was in the room – will he order a dozen or so and have the Emergency Measures Service people try them out?  He should.

Derek Sivers told of the way we identify where we live with street addresses and the way the people of Japan describe where they live.  It is certainly very different and as you listen to the explanation you realize that it wouldn’t work here but it works there – why?   An idea worth talking about?  Yes most certainly.

Of the seven presentations seen Sunday afternoon in an event that was about an hour too long, were any likely to make it onto that list of presentations that will be watched again and again by people around the world?   Other than the comments Patrick O`Neil made about how we in North America tend to use our heads and brains instead of our hearts and maybe the comments Deb Pickfield made about complacency – but other than that – probably not.

One needs to be fair.  Spencer Campbell deserves buckets of credit for taking the initiative to bring TED to Burlington and then doing all the calling around and setting up that makes events like this work.  It was announced at the first annual TEDxBurlington event – which would suggest there will be another TEDx held in Burlington.  Only time will tell if that proves to be the case. Should there be another

An interesting observation. Four times a year the Mayor of Burlington sponsors a speaker – all the seats available are usually filled for hour and a quarter presentation made by very informed, qualified speakers – several with national and international reputations.  The crowd that usually attends the Mayor’s Inspire speakers event was not the same crowd that was in the Community Room this afternoon, which suggests there is a larger audience than we have seen in the past for quality events that engage the mind.  For that reason alone Spencer Campbell should begin now to prepare for the next session of TEDxBurlington.   Is there a personal Spencer Campbell agenda here?  Isn’t there always?


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Burlington’s citizen of the year will tell you “good intentions stink”. We will never run out of opportunities to help the poor.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON –  May 27, 2012    She is a pure evangelical.  She puts her heart and soul into everything she does and trusts in her Lord that she is doing his will.  She wakes up with that thought and closes her eyes at night with the same thought.  She takes her energy and her drive and operates the all voluntary Sew on Fire Ministry.  And it was for this that Wendy Hagar was chosen as the 2011 Citizen of the Year in Burlington.

The play on words in the name of her Ministry “Sew on Fire” is another part of the approach to life the evangelical community takes.  For that community they do feel “so” on fire with the belief that they have been called to do God’s work here on earth.  Wendy Hagar chose to ‘sew’ clothing kits for young Mother’s and changed the ‘so’ to “sew” which grew to the point where the warehouse grew from every room in her house to 1000 square feet, then to 3000 square feet  to the 6,000 square foot location they now have.

Everything that comes in get stored in a box - and every bit of it gets used. Wendy Hagar, Sew on Fire Ministry Founder stands at one of the several working tables in the 6,000 sq foot warehouse.

What Hagar has managed to do is meld different objectives into a single result – finding clothing for people in parts of the world where people do not have the clothing they need; create a place where people can work together to give back to the community and the wider world and also be a place where manufacturers can send the product over-run  they do not need. “By sending it to me – I keep it out of the landfill which is usually the cheapest place for them to send the stuff”.

She does this by inviting corporations to send their staff over for half a day of putting button snaps on pouches that will hold crayons and pencils or working with schools as a location for students who need to do their forty hours of community service.  Wendy Hagar will take anyone from anywhere and put their fingers and hands to work.

Thousands of screwdriver sets were donated - they will get packed up and sent off to people who need tools like this.

Sew on Fire creates products that are new and in the hands of a professional marketer might move quickly to that list of  “absolutely must haves”  that seems to drive the teen world today.

In the Hagar household literally every room became a place to store cloth, buttons, zippers – you name it, that eventually got run through the half a dozen sewing machines that filled the dining room table. “There were occasions when my husband Jeff would come home and have to step gingerly  over and around the boxes and bags of donations that had come in.”  The Hagar household was consumed by the Sew on Fire Ministry.

While church and Sunday school were part of family life when Wendy was a child – the decision to serve full time in a volunteer capacity and take on a really big project is not something that just happened.  There is always a deep level of personal discernment before the decision becomes evident and for Wendy Hagar that included a long period of fasting and prayer and asking for direction.  “What do you want me to do – show me” and then it became evident.

Home church for Wendy Hagar is Glad Tidings on Guelph Line.

It’s the way the faith communities works – you either believe it or you don’t.  Wendy Hagar believes it and lives it.

It all started in a small Saskatchewan town where Wendy was born.  “My  Dad was a mechanic who wanted me to be a nurse – that just wasn’t for me.  I wanted to be a Mother and today I have two grown children.  We were strong parents.  Church was a part of the household I grew up in and it is part of the household I ran.  Our children learned piano and they didn’t date until they were 16.”

The family moved to Ignace, Ontario.   The Hagar family arrived in Burlington in 1994 and by 2000 the Sew on Fire Ministry had been started –” it ran out of the 7 room house we had with two garages.  We never did get to parking cars in the garage.  There was no room for them”.

“There was a time when we didn’t eat a meal at the dining room table and you had to step over and around boxes of stuff that were in the hallway.”

Hagar does it all; works in the warehouse, calls on organizations that can help and brings in the volunteers.

Wendy has an organization that does more than take in production over runs, cloth that can be made into clothing for children – you name it – she will find a use for whatever you have.  Just give her a call.  Hager works with corporations, organizations – clubs, Girl Guide, Brownies – it doesn’t matter the group, Hagar will find a time slot for them and achieve two objectives.  First, showing people how they can “serve ” and at the same time get packages of clothing ready for shipment around the world.

“Students who need a place to perform their 40 hours of community service come to us by the busload and we put them to work – and we teach them what it is to give back to a society that has given them so much.”

Stuffed on shelves in her warehouse are dozen of cardboard cartons with small clear plastic bags that measure about 5 x 7 and have a zipper. ” I paid 60 cents each for these but couldn’t afford that amount for all the over run the manufacturer had – so I convinced him to sell them to me at 5 cents each.  She now has more than 10,000 of the things that will get used to put toiletries in and shipped around the world.

Wendy Hagar would hear people say that “Sew on Fire” was one of Burlington’s best kept secrets.  With just a little bit of  rise in her voice she will, with an imploring look, tell you that “we don’t want to be a secret”.  She adds that “for six years there wasn’t a word about us in the local papers and it was frustrating.”

There was a Burlington company that Hagar had wanted to connect with for the longest time – but she couldn’t seem to get through to the man that made the decisions.  Hagar is persistent if she is anything and she is now on a first name basis with the President of that company.

An insight into the way Wendy Hagar works is how she connected with one Burlington based manufacturer. “I knew they could be a big help but I couldn’t get to the right person – even though I made a lot of calls.  Then one day I made a call and got put through to the President and that was it.  They have become key partners for us.”

Manufacturers have inventory they need to clear out before the next production run can start. If it can't be sold it often gets sent to a landfill site. Hager tries to get to that inventory before then.

Hunter Amenities, a company that got its start in John Hunter’s kitchen grew to become one of the  largest manufacturers of hotel amenities in the world making products for global clients such as the Fairmont, Westin, Club Med, Hyatt and Sheraton and servicing them in over 100 countries. When John Hunter at Hunter Amenities heard her story he  told her she had a partner for life and not to worry any more. Good things happen to good people and in the recent past Hunter has been recognized as being the best manufacturer in Burlington, Ontario (by the Burlington Chamber of Commerce), the best small company in Ontario (by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce) and recently has been selected as one of the “50 Best Managed Companies” in Canada. Praises indeed!

When Burlington was named the second best city in Canada to live in by MoneySense magazine everyone touted that story.  The real story about Burlington is people like Wendy Hagar and companies like Hunter Amenities

There was an opportunity to bring in $150,000 worth of screw driver parts which we did.  We then had to find willing hands to assemble the parts.  They were the kind that had multiple pieces that could be fitted into the handle.  “We took them in and in time we will find a place for them.  Men looking for work will have tools that can get them employment.  Maybe not today – but someone will need those screw drivers and we will ship them out.”

Today it might be Uganda, tomorrow somewhere in the Philippines. ” I never know where the call is going to come from – I just pray that I am able to respond when the call does come.  When the earthquakes destroyed parts of Haiti we knew there were going to be calls and we began looking at what we had and preparing.”

“Back packs for students are something every kid wants and needs, we’ve sent out more than 3,000 of them.”

While Sew on Fire Ministry is about helping people Hagar is not shy about her statistics.  In a Newsletter she sets out what was done in one year: 16,500 gift bags to 38 countries; partnered with 64 churches/ministries to send 112 shipments; 3,000 backpacks, 1750 layettes; 40 teachers kits, 1,000 shoes/boots; 336 refugee baskets and 12,000 other items like blankets and bikes and Bibles and sewing and knitting machines.  All done by the between 600 to 900 volunteer hours put in at the warehouse each month.  The operation is very thin on the administrative side – there is no payroll department – everything is done by volunteers – no one, not even Wendy Hagar gets as much as a dime.

When one listens and gets a sense of the size of the Sew in Fire operation you kind of realize that the Hagar family is writing cheques to pay some of the bills.  So are a lot of other people who send in donations and somehow the doors stay open.  Hagar doesn’t worry too much about getting the bills paid – her view is that the Lord will provide – her job is to get what she brings in out to the people who need it.

The sewing table where parts ore stitched together and packed for shipping somewhere in the world. If you know how to service and fix these machines -- give Wendy Hagar a call.

Hagar is constantly on the prowl for new suppliers.  She wants to talk to those companies that have a production over run and need to clear out inventory so they can begin the next production run.  “I’ve got space”  she will tell you.

When the house could no longer hold everything Hager had to find a place where there was some room.  Jack Hawkins came to her rescue, which some would say was a nice piece of luck, at which Hagar will look at you over the top of her glasses and say firmly: “God`s will.”  You can`t argue with her on that point.

“Jack Hawkins learned of us and offered us 1,000 square feet of space on Herring Court.  We were there for three and a half years but Jack’s company decided to move to Brantford.  We were offered space in the new location but knew that the travel wasn’t for us.  We were given plenty of notice – more than a year and that was when we took the leap and rented space.”

“We looked at 60 different places.  Parking was critical for us.  School buses that bring students in for volunteer hours needed a place to park; the volunteers needed a place to park as well.  We started with 1,000 square feet and then needed 3,000 square feet and now we are in a 6,000 square foot space and when you look around there isn’t any space that isn’t being used.   Layettes for new babies are always in demand.”

“When we moved into the first space we were renting I felt like a teenager moving out of the family home; I was excited and at the same time just a little apprehensive – for me it was another walk of faith.”

While Hagar is the energy behind Sew on Fire she is supported by her husband Jeff and her best friend Evelyn Molyneaux.  They are her closest friends and sounding board.  Her children have grown up, completed their educations married and moved on to lives of their own.  Sarah Jane lives in Vancouver with her husband and her son Matthew lives in Dorchester, Ontario with his wife.  Both children are graduates of Nelson High School.  They, along with their friends,  spent many hours in whichever room in the house had work that had to be done.

Sew on Fire is a non-profit organization with Registered Charity status.  If there was one observation about the company it is that there is an opportunity to improve the governance and add more talent to the top level.  Hagar is often there as almost a one man band running everything with the help of two very close friends.  There doesn’t appear to be a succession plan and to lose all that the organization does, when Wendy Hagar isn’t able to put in the amount of time she does, would be a terrible shame.

On the “what I need today” list is someone who can volunteer to take care of the sewing machines.   “There are ten in regular use now and additional machines that come in and need a fix up. They need maintenance and repair and we don’t have anyone who can do that for us right now.”

Sew on Fire is a working operation. It may look a little cluttered - they don't worry too much about appearances - it is the serving that matters to them.

“Oh, and if you happen to have a couple of 5×5 waste bins, those big steel things you put out by the freight door – give us a call – we need two of those.  The ones we had were apparently needed more by someone else and they disappeared one night.”

Hagar’s message is always the same, “the need is great and we will never run out of opportunities to help the poor.  Sew on Fire  is successful because people invest their time, treasure and talents;  we are 100% volunteer, our gifts are freely given, our volunteers are priceless, and partners are vital”.

More about the organization at

If you want to help – you can reach Wendy Hagar at

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Turbine might get second chance – kudos to BurlingtonGreen for ensuring environmental sustainablility is kept on the table.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON            May 26, 2012     That decision you made about the turbine on the Pier – said a staff report, we think you should re-consider it – we have more data for you.

That staff report, which we go into further below, is the result of a community group putting their muscle behind their convictions and pressing both staff and now Council to do what they can now do, to have the turbine on the Pier.

It’s an awkward story and as much as people like to blame city hall for as much as they can – it doesn’t look as if the city engineers are to blame for this one.  What is evident is that while Burlington Hydro pays the city a nice dividend each year – they don`t provide much in the way of background and on-going advice with things related to electrical technology.  It is a changing world out there and while BurlingtonGreen is certainly plugged into it – the same can`t be said for Burlington Hydro.  Is there a member of Burlington Green on the Burlington Hydro Board?   There should be.

Let’s go to the beginning.

The city engineers learn that it will not be possible to feed energy into the electrical grid and then use that energy to power the LED lights that will illuminate the Pier once it opens – and the Pier will open – but there are  – ahem, problems with the steel that is needed for the beams.  More on that situation elsewhere.

City engineer Tom Eichenbaum, on the left, has to wonder if his colleagues over at Burlington Hydro are on the same team he is on.

The city engineers are stunned with that news but they don’t run hydro so they put their minds to the problem  and go to council committee with a solution that has a battery pack installed in the utility room underneath the Pier.  The energy from the turbine goes into the battery pack and is then drawn on at night to illuminate the Pier.  It’s a solution with a $70,000 price tag and the council committee says “nope and votes at committee level to not have a turbine on the Pier.

Not so fast say the good people from BurlingtonGreen.  They maintain that the turbine is needed at several levels and they delegate to city council where they lose the argument.  BurlingtonGreen is a well-run community activist group with a focus on the environment and they didn’t think what they were being told was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  They do some digging.   It would appear that they have people within hydro or people in the hydro business feeding them information and advising them.  Good for them.

BurlingtonGreen learns that the city can indeed feed energy into the electricity grid and that Burlington Hydro has the necessary permits in place to accept hydro.  There is some confusion as to just which permits are being talked about – technical stuff which any bureaucrat worth  his title can hide behind.

That information gets teeth grinding at city hall.  Why in hell didn’t we know that? was the most memorable comment.

All this has led to staff suggesting to Council committee that they might want to review the decision they made to not have a turbine on the pier.  Here is a sample of the comments in the report.  The full report is available here.  

The Brant Street Pier construction project had included a wind turbine that would feed energy back into the power grid. In April 2012, city staff reported to the city’s Community Services Committee that the wind turbine could not feed power into the grid but could be a stand-alone power source if a battery pack were added. City Council removed the wind turbine from the pier project. 

 “We recognize that City Council did not have all the facts when staff provided a project update to committee on April 18,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “Since then, staff has worked diligently to gather key information.”

In May, city staff met with hydro officials to reconfirm the status of access to the Cumberland Transformer station. They discovered that the city may be able to connect to the grid through the MicroFIT program run by the Ontario Power Authority. 

 “We are asking Council, ‘If you had this information before you made a decision to remove the wind turbine, would you have made a different decision?,

Some shifty language there – “working diligently” is a bit of a stretch.

The provinces Micro Fit program let homeowners put solar on the roof of their houses and sell the power to the Ontario Power Authority. It was a very popular program and the province fell behind processing the application. Someone finally figured out that the turbine planned for the Pier would qualify under this program.

Burlington got caught up in the provincial FIT program that allowed people to install solar panels on their houses or set up a stand-alone structure with an array of solar panels.  Once installed they would be linked so that they could feed directly into the power grid.  Thousands of people saw this as a great investment opportunity.  The province was paying top price for the power they were getting which resulted in more applications than they could handle and things began to back up.

The MicroFit program allowed people to invest in solar arrays and earn an income. It was seen as a very secure investment and is one the city will come under when it's application to have wind turbine energy fed into the power grid. If it takes longer than planned - so what.

This initiative came out of the province’s realization that clean energy is available through the use of solar panels and they put a program in place that would allow individuals to participate.  The province re-developed the application process and called it the MicroFIT program.  The FIT part stands for Feed in Tariff.

It appears that Burlington Hydro or BurlingtonGreen,  figured out a way to have the turbine being built on the Pier qualify under this revised MicroFIT program.  No one particularly cares about which program is used – the city just wanted to generate power with a turbine and feed that power into the grid and be seen as a progressive community using all the advanced technology available.

BurlingtonGreen saw the turbine as both great energy conservation but also as a statement they wanted to see made about being environmentally sensible.  BurlingtonGreen deserves credit for keeping the pressure on.  The city now has to use some forceful language at the next Burlington Hydro Board meeting.

City staff just wants to get beyond the mess.  In their report to Council committee, which will come up at the Community Services Committee at 6:30 pm on the 30th, staff set out the situation as they have come to understand it and set out a number of options.

The background:

At its meeting of April 30, 2012 Council approved the following resolution:  DIRECT the General Manager of Community Services to have the turbine eliminated from the Brant Street Pier project (Councillor Rick Craven) (SD-15-12) Council, April 30, 2012.

The decision to eliminate the wind turbine from the project was largely based on the information provided to the Community Services Committee on April 18, 2012 as part of the Project Update #13.

In part, as a follow-up investigation of the information presented by by Burlington Green (Amy Schnurr) as a delegation to the April 30, 2012 Council meeting, staff now have indications from both Burlington Hydro and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) that there may, in fact, be capacity at the Cumberland TS to allow for a connection to the grid from a Pier Wind Turbine and other renewable energy sources in the Downtown area.

The two more critical points of contact were:

• February 15, 2012 Burlington Hydro (BHI) confirmed to City staff that (based on a Hydro One ruling) the Transformer Station (TS) servicing the Downtown area could not accept grid connections for renewable power

Burlington Hydro keeps the lights on, runs the system efficiently but does seem to have a problem communicating with their peers at city hall.

• May 15, 2012 BHI staff confirmed to City staff that (based on a Hydro One ruling) the Cumberland TS does have 7 MegW of capacity for renewable energy feed-in connections. However, BHI understands that there are 257 FIT (greater than 10kw) and MicroFIT (less than 10kw) applications in Burlington that have been portal. BHI staff advised City staff to contact the OPA directly as the applications and approvals for MicroFIT renewable projects are administered by the OPA.

May 18, 2012 City staff were able to contact OPA staff for information on the MicroFIT program (The City’s Wind Turbine being rated 10kw would fall into the MicroFIT program).

  If Council decides to reconsider the elimination of the Wind Turbine from the Pier program, the following steps would be required:

• a motion to reconsider the previous Staff Direction SD-15-12 needs to be brought forward by a member of Council. It must receive a 2/3 majority vote.

• If the motion of reconsideration is passed, the Committee can debate the re-introduction of the Wind Turbine or alternatively discuss other options.

• The Committee should then move a recommendation to approve its preferred option and if applicable, formally rescind SD-15-12.

The options:

Not having the turbine available doesn't mean the observation deck and the Tower Beacon won't be built.

Option A  Re-introduce the Wind Turbine as originally specified – 23 foot diameter rotor (11 ½ foot long blades)

To proceed in re-introducing the Wind Turbine into the project, the following points are noteworthy:

1)      A Change Order has already been processed to the Contractor to delete the Wind Turbine from the project. If Council re-introduces the Wind Turbine, a subsequent Change Order will be necessary to re-include for the Wind Turbine.

2)      Staff would request the Project Design Consultant to make submissions to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) MicroFIT program as soon as the new ‘application portal’ is available on-line.

3)      The OPA approval process may be from 3 to 6 months

4)      The City’s application will likely be in a queue of many applications for the Burlington area and application processing and approvals is on a “first come first served” basis.

5)     There is a possibility that even with a successful application to the OPA, other Burlington applications to the OPA may use up the available capacity at the Cumberland TS. Neither BHI nor the OPA are able to assess this eventuality at the present time. The implication of a future approval by the OPA for the Wind Turbine on the overall construction schedule needs to be assessed further by the Project Team. However, the erection of the Turbine is a project task that would have happened later in the overall schedule.

The turbine part is in actuality rotor blades that will be 23 feet in diameter - each blade being 11.5 feet long. The blades will turn a shaft which will in turn generate the power that will be fed into the electricity grid.

6)     Staff understand that MicroFIT wind renewal energy applications are not nearly as popular at the present time, partly because solar feed-in tariff is presently considerably higher than for wind projects.

What does this mean? What will a “change order” cost? How much will it cost to have the design consultants make the application to the OPA for participation in the MicroFIT program?

A wait time of three to six months isn’t an issue – the completion of the Pier isn’t due for another year and if there is not enough capacity for us this time around – we can wait a little longer.  We’ve waited five years longer than we had planned.

Option B   Solar Power Option

Staff and the Design Consultant have assessed whether there may be merit in considering a Solar Power alternative. Solar wouldn’t provide the power needed and visually it wouldn’t work.  Staff doesn’t recommend going solar.

Option C    No Wind Turbine

If Council decides not to reconsider its resolution of April 30, 2012, the Beacon Tower itself will still be part of the Pier project.

Staff recommends  that, if the Wind Turbine is not re-introduced, that the top of the Beacon Tower be extended to give it a more complete appearance.   The cost of this top extension minus the savings or not having the Wind Turbine would be in the order of a net savings of $5,000. The project team recommends that this modification be done if the Wind Turbine is not re-introduced.

Option D    Another Renewable Energy Demonstration Project at Another Location

If Council does not wish to re-introduce the Wind Turbine onto the Pier structure, Council could consider a Staff Direction for the investigation of other opportunities for a demonstration of a renewable energy project at other waterfront or other locations.  The new  8 Fire Station at 1837 Ironstone Drive in Burlington has a 10kw solar installation on its roof.

Those are the choices.  Council can sit on its hands and not vote to open the question.  A Councillor has to move the motion to re-open and then 5 of the 7 have to vote to revisit the issue.   The environmentalists would call this a “no brainer” but the Pier is now a political issue and this council is real skittish about doing anything that will make things worse.  This isn’t an “environmental” council yet – they are into getting people on their bikes for Car Free Sunday’s – are they ready to take a bit of a risk – and it really is a small risk and decide that the new information does change the situation and the turbine should be part of the Pier as long as it isn’t going to cost any more money.

There is some settling up to do with Burlington Hydro -it  is “owned” by the city of Burlington.  The city is the only shareholder and it appoints the Board of Directors.  The Mayor sits on the Board and the city manager sits on at least one of the Board committees.  We were not able to confirm that the city manager sits on the board.

Burlington Hydro Board meetings are for the most private.  They don’t fall under the Municipal Act and the only person they report to is their shareholder which is the city.

In the old days when we had Utility Commissions, the commissioners were elected and that made the meetings open to the public.  Perhaps some changes can be made at that level?

City manager Jeff Fielding might bring his "do your job" line to the next Burlington Hydro meeting he attends. The evidence suggests they could benefit from his very direct approach to problems.

Our city manager raised a lot of eyebrows when a while ago he said to the council members “do your jobs”.  There were a lot of people who watched the on-line broadcast of that meeting and told there friends which minute of the broadcast they could fast forward to and catch the comment.   So, many said to themselves, we do have someone who is going to deliver value for money to the taxpayers – which the city manager has told everyone at city hall to begin calling customers.

It is time for the city manager and the mayor to begin bringing some discipline to the way Burlington Hydro works – these are the guys that keep the lights on for us.


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TEDx – another first for Burlington. Seven speakers will use 18 minutes each to talk about ideas worth spreading.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 25, 2012  TED – Technology, Entertainment and Design  – have you heard about it?  It appeared in the mid 80’s and became an international rage for a period of time.  TED’s early emphasis was largely technology and design, consistent with a Silicon Valley center of gravity. The events are now held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, offering live streaming of the talks. They address an increasingly wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture. The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. While still influential, what the operators of the organization have done is use a marketing practice – extend the brand so that we now have TEDx – and that’s what’s coming to Burlington on Sunday.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. This event is called TEDxBurlington, where x = independently organized TED event. At the TEDxBurlington event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

The event, which is working from the theme Passion for Compassion, will take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre followed by a reception at ThinkSpot on Locust Street.  Attendance is limited to just 100 people and – sorry but the tickets are SOLD OUT.  However, you will be able to go on line and see each of the six 18 minute segments.

The TEDx Burlington was brought to town by Spencer Caldwell who has tapped everyone he knows for help on this one and has been fortunate enough to get some local support.

Speakers include:

Arthur Fleischmann lives with his wife, Tammy Starr, and their three children, Matthew, Taryn and Carly, in Toronto, Canada, where he is partner and president of john st. advertising – one of Canada’s top creative, digital and design agencies. Born in New York, he grew up in the Boston area and attended Brandeis University, where he graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Economics. He later earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Arthur co-wrote “Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism” with his 17 year old daughter, Carly. One of the first books to explore firsthand the challenges of living with autism, Carly’s Voice brings readers inside a once–secret world, in the company of an inspiring young woman who has found her voice and her mission. As you will hear, his ‘Idea Worth Spreading’ is don’t judge a book by its cover!

Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese,is founder and executive director of Save the Mothers and has been consulted by the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office as an expert in maternal health.

Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese is an internationally recognized expert in women’s reproductive health and winner of the Canadian Royal College’s second Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award. Dr. Chamberlain Froese has volunteered in some of the world’s poorest countries to make childbirth a safer experience. She is founder and executive director of Save the Mothers (STM) International, an organization dedicated to saving some of the 340,000 mothers within developing countries who die in childbirth every year.

Dr. Chamberlain Froese spends eight months of the year at the Uganda Christian University and four months in Canada advocating for safe motherhood, while teaching and working clinically at McMaster University in Hamilton. She is an associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology and co-directs the McMaster International Women’s Health Program. She has written a book, “Where Have All the Mothers Gone” and is also co-editor of the 2006 book “Women’s Health in the Majority World: Issues and Initiatives.” She was a special guest speaker for the Youth Summit of the G8 meeting in 2010 and has been consulted by the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office as an expert in maternal health.

Besides Uganda, during her career Dr. Chamberlain Froese has also spent time in Yemen, Pakistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo and Russia doing work for women’s health. In 2006, she was one of only six individuals worldwide presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award from the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FIGO), recognizing her outstanding contribution to the health of mothers around the world.

Josh Nelson, at the age of  9, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. After enduring a 10 hour surgery, seizures, a stroke, a post-surgery syndrome that left him unable to walk or talk, 31 radiation treatments and 52 weeks of chemo, it became clear he was a fighter.

“I am now a nine year cancer survivor and I have not taken this title lightly. I have been invited by several community groups to share my story of hope and inspiration and have participated in many community events to help support a cause that’s close to my heart. One such event was the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride where, in 2009, I gave a speech in Burlington.

“I asked the riders to “ride for me until the day I can ride along side you myself.” They listened, and in 2010, my dream came true. On a tandem bike with Drew Molnar I rode across Ontario from Thunder Bay to Ottawa in an unforgettable life-changing five day journey. Last September, Mark Burger and I cycled tandem all the way across Canada on a 16-day, 7,000 km epic adventure from Vancouver to Halifax in the fourth annual Sears National Kids Cancer Ride.”

Michael Jones: Through the beauty of his music and the inspiration of his stories Canadian Michael Jones, a Juno nominated pianist/composer, leadership educator and award-winning author of Artful Leadership and Creating an Imaginative Life offers a unique and memorable experience.  “Who will play your music if you don’t?” he asks. By asking the question that he was once asked, Michael takes us on a journey to explore the heart of our own creativity. In so doing he engages others in a uniquely evocative exploration of how, through our gifts we can co- create environments where people can learn… and ideas can grow.

Michael’s 1983 debut recording PIANOSCAPES was the first release on the Narada/EMI Record label and also served as a benchmark for the  popular genre of contemporary instrumental music. Since that time he went on to produce fifteen more solo and ensemble recordings, appeared on more than twenty compilations and sold more than two million of his recordings worldwide.

Michael has performed in many settings including the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo Japan, the Seoul Art Center in Korea and The International Piano Festival in Montreal, Canada. He has also been a featured keynote speaker in leadership forums alongside such widely recognized thought leaders as Colin Powell, Peter Senge, Margaret J. Wheatley and Peter Block. And he has introduced his art in the facilitation of many large group engagement processes and worked with innovation teams within several  leading global businesses exploring the synergies between creative artistry, authentic leadership and collective learning and innovation.

Patrick O'Neil, acknowledged as a gifted teacher, mediator and mentor.

Patrick O’Neill has been studying the wisdom traditions of the world for over 25 years and has integrated them into his extensive teaching, mentoring and consulting work. He has worked with thousands of people, and scores of teams and is acknowledged as a gifted teacher, mediator and mentor.

Since 1988, Patrick has led Extraordinary Conversations Inc., a leader in transformational change management with organizations and individuals. His clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ontario Pension Board, Nestle, Labatt Breweries of Canada, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, The Boeing Company, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

Patrick O’Neill’s work has taken him to global corporations in North America and Europe; to the townships of South Africa; and to the peace process in the Middle East.

Scott Graham is a bestselling author, singer/song writer and sought after keynote speaker. Scott has inspired leadership skills in children for over twenty years. He has created the Kids 4 Kids Leadership Programs, summer camps and Heroes Academy, positively affecting over 18 000 children. One of Scott Graham’s Kids 4 Kids graduates, received a personal invitation from Nelson Mandela as the result of his leadership endeavours.

A leader in the Human Resources field Trish Barbato is also a certified fitness instructor, certified meditation instructor and a black belt in Kung Fu kickboxing. She is a CMA and a CA as well. Wow!

Patricia (Trish) Barbato is the author of “Inspire Your Career” and a recognized authority and speaker on career and leadership topics. She is currently Senior Vice President, Home Health and Business Development for Revera Inc., a health services and accommodation organization in North America. Trish oversees over 5,000 employees across Canada and is responsible for service-based acquisitions. Prior to Revera, Trish served as President and Chief Executive Officer of COTA Health; Vice President, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer for Providence Healthcare and Managing Director at Bayshore Healthcare.

Trish has been involved extensively with charities and non-profit groups. She is Past Chair, Big Brothers Big Sisters Council of Champions, Board Director, Quality Healthcare Network and founder and Director of the Shambhala Meditation Centre of Mississauga. She is a Big Sister to Little Sister Caitlin. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Ms. Barbato is a Certified General Accountant and a Chartered Accountant. She is also a certified fitness instructor, certified meditation instructor and a black belt in Kung Fu kickboxing.

Lifelong Burlington resident Spencer Campbell brought TEDx to Burlington.

Spencer Campbell, the man behind the idea of bringing TEDx to Burlington has lived in the city most of his life with the exception of times spent in Asia, Western Canada and a few other interesting places. A business consultant who encourages respectful honest debate, he has dealt with many leading corporations to start-ups. Spencer has travelled extensively, including, among other places, to Mt. Everest, Calcutta (where he met Mother Theresa) and the awe-inspiring ancient cave drawings of the Dordogne, France. Ask him what it felt like to look up and see a chalk outline of a mammoth drawn by one of our ancestral cave dwellers.

In 2010 Spencer was part of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride team that cycled from Vancouver to Halifax in 15 days to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer needs. “Working with a dedicated team, I am thrilled to help bring to our terrific city the prestigious TEDx event – the first of what is expected to be an annual event to listen, learn, reflect and share many great ideas.”

It’s quite a line up and another interesting first for Burlington. While the tickets are sold out – you will be able to go on line sometime after the event and watch all six of the 18 minute presentations.  The material will be at: and we will let you know when it is all on line.



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First thing Monday – check the weather, check your bike and if both are good to go – be at Elgin and Brant for breakfast on the city.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 25, 2012  – This is a whole new line of business for the Chamber of Commerce and if we don’t see CoC president Keith Hooey on a bicycle Monday morning we will sue for false advertising.  The Chamber has partnered with the city and the Regional government to sponsor the first Annual City-Wide Bike to Work Day Breakfast.

The event will terminate at the corner of Elgin and Brant, which isn’t exactly ground zero for the most jobs in the city – but we assume the Mayor has convinced everyone within city hall to bike in and that will fatten out the crowd.

You can enjoy breakfast and have your bike looked at while you’re there.  All the politicians will be on hand; prizes will be handed out including the grand prize of a trip for two to Quebec City courtesy of VIA Rail and a weekend cycling getaway to St. Catharines courtesy of Welcome Cyclists.

For more information on the grand prize, visit Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 1.  Not sure why the contest closes four days after the event – you will figure that one out.

It happens Monday, May 28 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Breakfast starts at 7:30. Ride your bike to the corner of Brant and Elgin Streets for 7:30 a.m. and chow down.

Burlington has been bitten by the bike bug and for those south of the QEW events like this are great.  But ways have to be worked out to get over that hump that crosses the highways and ducks under the railway tracks – that part of the city is a war zone for cyclists.

There are two events during the summer where parts of the city are going to be closed for Car Fee Sundays

City's biggest advocates for more bike use gather at the announcement for the Car Free Sunday Burlington has planned. All three will be on hand for the Bike to Work event that is taking place all across the Region and in many parts of the GTA.. The guy on the far right is Sound of Music honcho Dave Miller.

The first is June 10th, in the Appleby Line – Fairview part of town with the second taking place in the downtown core on July 15th.

Mayor Goldring has been a fan of using bicycles as much as possible and Councillor Jack Dennison is not only a bicycle fan but an avid cyclist as well – he’s the kind of guy that takes in five day cycling events as vacation time.

The city’s cycling Advisory Committee recently did a tour of the downtown opportunities to cycle and pointed out the gaps in the existing trails and those intersections where things were a little iffy for the cyclist.  One couple from north of the QEW admitted that they put their bikes in the trunk of their car and drove to the Central Library which was the gathering point for the event.

Great to see the city getting behind the idea of cycling more – now they can get behind the idea of making all those north of the QEW equal participants.




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It took a little while but police arrest Hamilton resident for assault at Club 54 on Harvester Road.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  It looks as if the Burlington detachment of the Regional Police are making it very clear that they will not put up with rowdy scenes in the “club” district along Harvester Road or the South Service Road part of town.

Way back in April there was an assault that sent a man to hospital with serious injuries.  There was an argument between two patrons outside Club 54, at 3345 Harvester Rd., in Burlington at  2:30 a.m.

The victim, a 21-year-old Oakville man, was punched in the head by another unknown male resulting in injury to the victim. The assailant fled the scene on foot and police are seeking assistance in identifying him.

He was described as white in his early 20’s, 5’6 to 5’8, small build with an olive/dark complexion and shaved head.  He was wearing a grey sweater, grey jacket and jeans.

The victim was transported to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

And that’s where things stood – until May 20th , when a comprehensive investigation and some police with keen observation skills made an arrest.

Charged with assault causing  bodily harm is Tariq HIJAZI, 24,  of Hamilton

The accused will next appear in court on June 20, 2012.

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Giant Hogweed; a nasty plant that can do a lot of damage. Spring is best time to remove it – call Conservation Authority for help.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  Giant Hogweed – This is not something you want to deal with until you know what you are doing. – There are many invasive species that can threaten the native plants in your garden, but probably one of the best publicized is Giant Hogweed, known for its tremendous height and the dangers from its sap.

Giant Hogweed has two major negative impacts. Firstly, due to its invasive nature, it poses a threat to native biodiversity. Secondly, it is  a public health hazard. It produces a noxious sap that sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet light. This is known as photosensitivity, which can result in severe and painful burning and blistering. It is important to avoid any skin contact with this plant.

If this plant, or anything that even looks like it is in your garden or on your property - remove it very carefully. Call the Conservation Authority if you need help.

If you have seen Giant Hogweed on your property in the past,  then now is the time to investigate, see if any small hogweed plants are coming up, and take steps to control or eradicate them. Late in the summer, when Giant Hogweed is a giant plant with big white flowers, it is easy to spot, but that is not necessarily the ideal time to try and control it. In fact, you could be putting yourself at significant risk, from the sap in the plant’s stem and leaves. Right now in the spring, when the plants are just starting to grow, is the best time to try and control it, and prevent it from producing seeds.

If you are considering doing the removal yourself, it is very important to wear proper protective clothing (waterproof fabric with long sleeves, high shoes, gloves, face and eye protection), so as to avoid skin contact with the sap. If you have a small patch of Giant Hogweed, then you can dig the plants up, but be sure the entire root is removed, and check the area again in two weeks for any re-growth.

Alternatively, if you have a large infestation, other control methods will need to be considered. In some cases, a herbicide used according to the label, and by a certified professional, is the best method of controlling this invasive plant.

Even if you undertook removal, or control, late last year, there likely will still be seedlings sprouting this year. To control an invasive species like hogweed you must be vigilant and return to the site to ensure control has been effective.

Giant Hogweed is known for its enormous size, reaching heights of 2.5 to 4m (8 to 14ft), with leaves up to 1m (3 ft) in breadth. It has a thick, 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) hollow stem. Its stem and the undersides of its leaves are covered in coarse hairs. Its large, umbrella-shaped flowers are white in colour and can be more than 30cm (1ft) in diameter.

With the heightened public attention given to Giant Hogweed over the last few summers, Conservation Halton received numerous ‘reports’ of Giant Hogweed that were actually a smaller, harmless plant that has a similar (but greatly smaller) white flower called Queen Anne’s Lace. If you are unsure whether you have Giant Hogweed, feel free to seek confirmation from an expert.  Call Conservation Halton and speak to Brenda Van Ryswyk, 905-336-1158, ext. 282, email or use the invasive species reporting form found on the  website


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