Festival, found art, aboriginal hoop dancing and maybe even a contest to find Joseph Brant himself.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 27, 2011 – Next to the Sound of Music the Joseph Brant Festival is one of the best public events available in the city. Not that poor old Joe will get all that much attention, but then Burlington has never really taken to a savage who went on to become one of the most influential statesmen of his time. He is an incredible story – we just don’t get to hear that much about him.

The Festival however is a fun event and there is decent aboriginal representation. The native drum performances and the Hoop Dancing are well worth the time.

It all takes place out at LaSalle Park – starting at 10 am and going right through to past 4:00 pm. Located on North Shore Road – and if you haven’t been there yet you should be ashamed of yourself. Admission is free but there are plenty of opportunities for you to spend your money.

Dave Vollick first came to the attention of the Burlington community when we reported on his attendance at City Council committee meeting where he convinced them to create the volunteer position of Town Crier.

Dave Vollick first came to the attention of the Burlington community when we reported on his attendance at City Council committee meeting where he convinced them to create the volunteer position of Town Crier.

From 10 to 11 you have a chance to let the politicians bore you silly but once they are all off the stage the competition for the OFFICIAL Burlington Town Crier will take place. This is going to be a slam dunk for Dave Vollick who is the guy that got the ball on this one rolling when he showed up at a Council Committee meeting dressed as a Town Crier and convinced the Committee to go along with the idea. There was to be a competition but because there were no entries (the lack of any remuneration kept other applicants away). Vollick will serve the city well.

Hind’s work on display at a Toronto art show.

Hind’s work on display at a Toronto art show.

Opening Ceremonies 10:00-11:00

City of Burlington Town Crier! 11:00

Hamilton Hoppers Rope Skippers! 12:00

Sophisticated Swing Orchestra! 12:30-1:30

Mountsberg Birds of Prey! 1:30

Blue Stone Native Drum Performances with Hoop Dancing! 2:15

Bubbleology Show! 2:45

Musical Performance by rising talent Hans Munoz! 3:30

Lost Dancers of the Six Nations! 4:15

JuggleMagic! Various Times

 

 

David Hind is a Brantford based visual artist who work in very large format – like 16x8 foot mural size formats.  This time he is using aluminum and is expecting anyone who walks by to spend some time on his “canvas”.  The piece shown above is a collective effort. It is directly based on George Bingham's painting "Fur traders descending the Missouri" and was in part inspired by James Ensor's "Christ entering Brussels" and Bill Reid's "Spirit of the Haida Gwaii". It depicts a canoe on the grand river passing through Brantford Ont. The boat has been filled by 250+ participants from in and around Brantford and illustrates the rich and diverse community that call this place their home. It is meant to be a symbol of togetherness: uniting all through peace, understanding, openness to difference, and compassion for all living things. Thanks to all that have contributed; Sarah Baker, Dawn Hackett, Chris Wabie, Sarah and Lori Byrd, Tim Southern, Sharon, Steven, Aliki, Jay, the Arts Bloc, Glenhyrst, et al. Additional works with Simon Frank, Tor Lukasik-Foss, and Steve Mazza

David Hind is a Brantford based visual artist who work in very large format – like 16x8 foot mural size formats. This time he is using aluminum and is expecting anyone who walks by to spend some time on his “canvas”. The piece shown above is a collective effort. It is directly based on George Bingham's painting "Fur traders descending the Missouri" and was in part inspired by James Ensor's "Christ entering Brussels" and Bill Reid's "Spirit of the Haida Gwaii". It depicts a canoe on the grand river passing through Brantford Ont. The boat has been filled by 250+ participants from in and around Brantford and illustrates the rich and diverse community that call this place their home. It is meant to be a symbol of togetherness: uniting all through peace, understanding, openness to difference, and compassion for all living things. Thanks to all that have contributed; Sarah Baker, Dawn Hackett, Chris Wabie, Sarah and Lori Byrd, Tim Southern, Sharon, Steven, Aliki, Jay, the Arts Bloc, Glenhyrst, et al. Additional works with Simon Frank, Tor Lukasik-Foss, and Steve Mazza

Special Appearances, Programs & Demonstrations:

Dave Hind, visual artist! Join Dave and help create his mural!

Karen Millyard from the Toronto English Country Dancers!

Learn about the history of dance and try some dance steps!

Heritage Music & Demonstrators such as spinning demos by the Fireball Knits & Flint Knappers—Watch items tooled from stone!

Fencing Demonstrations

Historic Re-enactors, Historic Militia & Zig Misiak from Real People’s History!

War of 1812 portrayals!

 

ALL DAY LONG!

Along with the special events there will be programs running throughout the day. You can keep the little ones busy every minute you’re there.

 

Boat Rides at LaSalle Park Marina & Splash Park for kids!

Artisans & Vendors! A summer BBQ and refreshment stands!

Giant Bouncies, Face Painting & Airbrush Tattoos!

Capture the flag puzzle hunt & historic play & learn area!

The famous Joseph Brant Day Silent Auction! Jungle Hut!

Hamilton Nationals Lacrosse demonstrations & games!

Interactive Inflatable Soccer play area presented by Mosaic!

The Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton live interactive children’s area with scheduled games, activities, relays & historic obstacle course!

Fair-style games with prizes! Lots of Hands-on Crafts & activities!

One Book, One Burlington Special Program!

School in the Woods Wilderness Survival School!

Public Trivia Contest with Prizes, Special Attractions and so much more!

Now for the fun part – finding a parking spot. The place will be packed – it usually is. So why not just settle for the shuttle that will run from the Aldershot High School parking lot to the LaSalle Park. The high school is at 50 Fairwood Place, which runs parallel to Plains Rd W and is just to the west of Waterdown Road.

 

Joseph Brant Day is a full day heritage festival presented by Joseph Brant Museum that celebrates history and one of Burlington’s original settlers and national figures: Joseph Brant Thayendanegea. The festival includes activities for all ages, live music and unique performances, special historic re-enactments and demonstrations, various exhibitors and displays, interactive activities and games, artisans, crafters and other attractions. Joseph Brant day is not only an important heritage festival; it is also the largest summer event and fundraiser for the Museums of Burlington.

 

 

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Wherever two or more of you are gathered …

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 26, 2011 – Ever the eager beavers, the Councillor for Ward 2 and her able assistant have announced that there will be a Ward Two Citizens Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday July 27 at 7pm in Room 247 at City Hall.

Now that is dedication – on the part of both the Council member and her Advisory Committee. There is much for the Council member to report on. Might she advise her Advisors as to where things are with the Freeman Station project and what the real reason is for not going with the most logical location and the one that everyone thinks is the best location ? And where would that be? Spencer Smith Park of course

Would the answer lie in the three condominiums that lay to the North of Spencer Smith Park and just a little to the west of Maple ? Are the people with all that supposed clout, who frightened Councilor Craven and then Council member Peter Thoem now frightening Councillors Lancaster and Meed Ward?

One would like to believe that the interests of the larger community outweigh the petty, personal interests of people who get their phone calls answered – but maybe some people have more influence than others.

Locating the Freeman Station just beyond the two trees would have is sitting within yards of the old rail line that rank along the lake edge embankment that is now a walking path is the most logical place to put the building from an historical perspective.  Those in the immediate neighbourhood who think it will mess up their sight lines need to re-think the position they’ve taken.  The station is just a bit over a storey and a half high.

Locating the Freeman Station just beyond the two trees would have is sitting within yards of the old rail line that rank along the lake edge embankment that is now a walking path is the most logical place to put the building from an historical perspective. Those in the immediate neighbourhood who think it will mess up their sight lines need to re-think the position they’ve taken. The station is just a bit over a storey and a half high.

The Freeman Station belongs in the western section of Spencer Smith Park for numerous reasons, the strongest of which, from an historical point of view, is that it lays right along where the rail line used to run.

Those with a Christian frame of mind will recall the phrase “…whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name” and given that there are going to be at least two people at the Ward Two Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Wednesday – perhaps there will be some divine intervention.

If the Freeman Station doesn’t take up all the time available – why not talk about the changes that are going to take place at city hall. The resignation of the city manager is step one of a significant shake-up in the works.

 

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Mosquitoes with West Nile virus found in Oakville – Region sets out protective measures. This is serious stuff.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON July 26, 2011 A batch of mosquitoes collected last week in Oakville has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first batch of positive mosquitoes found in Halton Region this year.  The mosquitoes were collected from the area of Cornwall and Chartwell Roads in the Town of Oakville.

The West Nile virus is transferred from birds to mosquitoes who then transfer it to human beings.  There is no vaccine for the virus.

The West Nile virus is transferred from birds to mosquitoes who then transfer it to human beings. There is no vaccine for the virus.

Positive mosquitoes are a key indicator of the risk of human West Nile virus infection. Hot, dry summers are perfect for West Nile virus. The months of August and September are the peak risk months,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health.  “Halton residents should keep taking precautions like covering up, using insect repellent with DEET, and avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquito activity.”

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

• Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
• Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.
• Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
• Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

 

 

 

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City manager calls it quits – did he jump or was he pushed?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 25, 2011— The Mayor’s statement.

“Earlier today, Roman Martiuk announced that after four successful years as the city manager of Burlington, he will be leaving his post at the end of August 2011.

Ever the conductor no matter what the meeting, City Manager Roman Martiuk, whose resignation was announced by Mayor Goldring today, conducted a significant part of the Strategic Planning sessions – but he wasn’t always in tune with the Council he serves.  Here he “conducts” with Georgina Black, the Strategic Plan facilitator.

Ever the conductor no matter what the meeting, City Manager Roman Martiuk, whose resignation was announced by Mayor Goldring today, conducted a significant part of the Strategic Planning sessions – but he wasn’t always in tune with the Council he serves. Here he “conducts” with Georgina Black, the Strategic Plan facilitator.

“Roman has had a vast and varied career as a change agent in the municipal sector, both in Ontario and Saskatchewan. His expertise is in organizational change, cost containment initiatives and budget system improvements. He was hired by the City of Burlington in 2007 in his change-agent capacity, and successfully oversaw a number of changes, initiatives and system improvements.”

“After extensive discussion with me, City Council and Roman, the joint decision was made that a new city manager, early in the council term, would both build on Roman’s successes and be best to lead and implement council’s strategic plan over our four-year term.”

“On behalf of council and staff, I want to thank Roman for his hard work and dedication to the City of Burlington and its residents.”

“While we conduct a search for a new city manager, the duties will be assumed by rotating acting assignments by the city’s current general managers.”

So – what really happened?

Martiuk has been a strong administrator but he has had difficulty with this new Council who want to serve as a strong Board of Directors and while the city Manager has consistently said staff were in place to serve Council – there was the distinct impression that he didn’t like the shift that was taking place.

During the extensive Strategic Plans sessions – there were nine half day sessions – Martiuk and his staff were often running counter to the wishes of the majority of the Council members.

Where Martiuk has served Burlington exceptionally well is with his solid grasp of the city’s finances and the consequences of any changes that were made on the spending side. He was a very firm hand at the Council meetings he took part in – and tended to use the words “..if I might make a comment”, which usually saved one of his staff memners from making a mistake.

Roman Martiuk, in the white shirt, center, was the kind of city manager who did his home and usually knew more than anyone else in the room about the numbers that lay behind every decision made.

Roman Martiuk, in the white shirt, center, was the kind of city manager who did his home and usually knew more than anyone else in the room about the numbers that lay behind every decision made.

 

No word on where Martiuk plans to land next – the words “looking at his options” wasn’t used in the Mayor’s statement and the words “irreconcilable differences didn’t get used either. There is certainly more to this story than we are being told.

Is there a new City Manager amongst the current senior management team? Well, we have far too many “acting” positions on the go. Chris Glenn at Parks and Recreation is an “acting” Steve Zabos and Joan Ford are also “acting”. While there are good reasons for each of these people still serving as “actings” the reality is that a part of the management team is not fully confirmed – and that doesn’t result in a management team that is tight and focused.

Of the two General Managers – Scott Stewart is the strongest candidate and he is said to have an appetite for the City Manager position.

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This adventure got us out of the house and kept us on the road. Jackie didn’t once ask: Are we there yet?

By Jack Dennison

BURLINGTON, ON July 21, 2011 It was proving to be quite an adventure. From Grimsby into Toronto and a night in a tent at Fort York, breakfast and then back on the road with a stopover at The Guild Inn, in Scarborough and then on to Ajax where the trip ended for the day.

The objective was to cover the full trail in the six days.

Dennison who runs a sports organization and is an avid cyclist believes there is an opportunity for the creation of a significant sports tourism business built around the Waterfront Trail that was the result of work former Toroto Mayor David Crombie did when he created the Waterfront Regeneration Trust.

Burlingtonton, once a leader in the promoting of the trust, appeared to have lost interest in the project. Dennison wants to bring it back and get more people on bicycles and more bicycles lanes on roadways. Follow him as he cycles east into Toronto.

DAY TWO – SUNDAY, JULY 3RD, 2011

Hamilton to Toronto – 80km

Rest Stop – Waterfront at Downtown Burlington

Cyclists hear the clappers welcoming them to the Burlington Butt Break posted by Tourism Burlington wher cyclists were greeted with enthusiasm from the Tourism Burlington Team, best food, best setting on the trip.

The Tourism team padded the package with a handy map to the Burlington’s attractions at the water’s edge; coupon book to encourage return visits and postcards from Burlington, so riders could write a note to friends and family. Burlington Tourism posted the notes for riders.

After riding what I see as Burlington’s unsafe Waterfront Trail from Brant Street to Burloak, along Lakeshore Road, we arrive at the Oakville border and their beautiful, new on road bike lanes from Burloak almost to Bronte and had lunch at the Town Square in Oakville where we are greeted by the BIA at the Bike Corral.

DAY THREE – MONDAY, JULY 4TH, 2011
To Breakfast: Fort York – Toronto

Riders awake in historic Fort York in downtown Toronto and after packing up a canon blast signals the start of Day 3 and the treck across the city to the Guild Inn on the eastern side of the city where lunch is served in this hidden Toronto gem that features gardens with over 70 architectural fragments and sculptures. There was time to walk about the grounds and discover what this interesting park had to offer.. Eventually the Waterfront Trail will be routed along the base of these bluffs. Starbucks on of several corporate partners supplied an amazing meal.

After lunch we headed for the destination for day 3 – Ajax, a community named after a British warship that was lost. Many of the town’s streets are named after members of the ship’s crew.

 

Part 1 of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is here.

 

 

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Only in America would the cardboard tube in a roll of toilet paper matter. Do read on …

By Staff who pinched the story from the Chicago Tribune.

BURLINGTON, ON June 13, 2011 – Kimberly-Clark has begun testing sales of the Scott Naturals Tube-Free brand of TP that doesn’t need a cardboard tube to keep the good times rolling. It’s the biggest change seen by toilet paper users since the roll first appeared in the 1800s.

But response isn’t all flushed with excitement for terminating the tube, often reused for arts and crafts projects or as pet toys.

“You just know it’s done. It’s over. It’s finished. You need a new roll,” said Samm Reed, a customer at a Pennsylvania Wal-Mart. “There’s something about that tube.”

To her, the appearance of a brown cardboard cylinder signifies something momentous — the end of an era.

Kari Love, of West York, Penn., pointed to the new rolls’ central holes. Designed to fit around a spindle, they’re shaped like polygons instead of circles.

“How are you going to get your holder in there?” Love asked. “I’m in my 40s. I grew up, and they always had a tube. I’m environmentally conscious. I recycle, but this doesn’t look like it’s going to work.”

According to a Kimberly-Clark news release, U.S. households use an estimated 17 billion bath tissue tubes annually, amounting to 160 million pounds of waste.

The company conducted a survey of 1,000 people that found 85 percent throw the tubes out with the trash.

At Wal-Mart, Scott’s Naturals Tube-Free costs $2.97 for four rolls containing 205.2 square feet compared to the tube-inclusive Scott brand, which costs $3.98 for four rolls containing 419.2 square feet of paper.

Anna Hall, of West York, Penn.,  didn’t seem so sure about paying more per sheet to lose the tubes, sometimes coveted by children as make-believe telescopes and finger puppets.

“Oh for Pete’s sake!” she said. “If they do away with (the tube), we won’t have anything to build with in Sunday school class.”

Only in America!

 

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Is there trouble in paradise? Why is a council committee meeting with lawyers the day tenders are to be issued?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 20, 2011 – It was disturbing. Disturbing to learn that there was going to be a closed meeting of the Committee that was going to hear a presentation from the city’s solicitor on where things are with the Pier. Disturbing to see the “high priced” legal talent from Toronto walk into the room beside Nancy Shea Nicol, the city’s in house legal counsel.

Will we get to the point where these exposed beams get a solid deck built on them – or did someone find a fly in the ointment the day the tenders were to be issued?

Will we get to the point where these exposed beams get a solid deck built on them – or did someone find a fly in the ointment the day the tenders were to be issued?

Today is the day the city is releasing the tender to the seven firms that have been pre-qualified to complete the construction of the Pier at the foot of Brant Street. There are some very good constructions firms on that list. There are at least two that we would be lucky to get.

City staff have been focused on getting it right and I’ve had the sense that they have everything under control.

So why the need for a meeting with the lawyers on the day the tender is to be issued. City engineer Tom Eichenbaum was sitting outside the meeting room with a document that had the words DRAFT all over the thing – are we still using draft versions of documents on the day that the tender is to be released and given to the contractors. How come?

And why does the meting have to be a closed meeting. Sure, the city is in the middle of some very contentious litigation and we do need to be very careful. We are arguing with a number of people about the money we paid them and the work they did and we do want the bond that we required the original contractor to provide to be honoured.

The lawyers take care of these things and in time we will know just how much we have had to pay the lawyers. But that is an issue for another day. What I would like to know is this – why are we meeting with lawyers in a closed session the day that the tender was to be issued ?

Two lawyers, one carrying one of those big, big brief cases lawyers that come in at $400.+ an hour carry, guided along by our in house counsel Nancy Shea Nicol, to talk to a council committee meeting. Why now, why on the day the tender is being issued?

Kind of like meeting with your lawyer on the prenuptial agreement the day of your wedding. One usually gets those things taken care of before you send out the wedding invitations.

Burlington has an affinity for going into closed session and a definite preference for not telling people what they have every right to know – but that’s part of the legal culture. Don’t tell if you don’t have t – let the other guy drag it out of you. In this case that other guy is you and it is your money they are spending.

Council has been exceptionally responsible in managing a problem this council didn’t create. The only people who have been part of this from the beginning are Councillors Craven, Dennison and Taylor and Craven was a newbie at the time. We can’t blame this one on former Mayor Cam Jackson. Taylor and Dennison would serve the city well if they chose to comment at length at a committee meeting just how they see this whole matter and why the city got itself into this mess. Mayor Rick Goldring has galvanized his council and decided to go forward in a responsible way.

This last minute meeting of a council committee and legal counsel is not good news. Methinks one of the parties we are suing may have thrown a wrench into the works. Time will tell.

Prior to the lawyers walking into the room Council and a several key staff were going through the last of the working up the Strategic Plan that will get taken to the public late in August. They have done some incredible work – and it hasn’t been easy for them. Had the same attention to detail been shown to the issuing of the first tender for the Pier things would have been a lot different today and those lawyers would not be in that room.

 

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Top secret recipe places Burlington company amongst world leaders in marine environmental technology.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 18, 2011 — They have a secret recipe and are using it to rid the seas of the world of some very significant pollution. They have sales that exceed $20 million, 100 plus people on staff at a plant on Mainway and no one in Burlington buys anything from them. They were recently nominated for a coveted Ocean Environmental Protection Award.

Don’t look for a sales counter at Thordon Bearings – they don’t have one. But they do have distributors in more than 73 countries and have sold their product to more than forty different navies and are in the process of prototyping a product that they believe will replace the use of some bronze in the marine line of bearings

The basic premise behind everything the company does is the replacement of metallic bearings with the polymers they first developed in 1969 and have been improving upon ever since.

Thordon Bearings designs and manufactures a complete range of high performance, non-metallic journal bearing solutions for marine, pump, hydro-turbine, offshore oil and other industrial markets. From water lubricated stern tube and rudder bearings for ships to grease free wicket gate bearings for clean power generation, they provide innovative non polluting bearing solutions that meet or exceed the technical requirements.

The Thordon Bearings people focus on the propeller shaft bearings of a ship and in this image the propeller has been removed.

The Thomson Gordon business focuses on the propeller of a ship and in this image the propeller has been removed.

The company has more than 10% of it’s labour force doing research and development and includes three people with doctorates in their field. This is very much a company that is breaking new ground in product development – all based on a secret recipe that is used in their manufacturing process that takes place behind screens that prevent visitors from even seeing what they do and how they do it. But they do it rather well and the growth potential for the company is close to unlimited.

The only account they haven’t managed to crack is the Adam Beck power generation plant at Niagara Falls “We do have our product in power generation plants in Northern Ontario” added Carter and we do a lot of business with Hydro Quebec.”, he added.

Mayor Rick Goldring, who is focused on improving and upgrading the make up and mix of companies headquartered in Burlington said: “While we share the disappointment in Thordon Bearings not winning the Ocean Environmental Protection Award, we nevertheless recognize their significance as a leading employer in Burlington that is allocating a significant portion of their 100 plus employees to research and development.” The Mayor added: “Their participation in the Burlington economic scene is both very welcome and satisfying.”

Formed in 1911, the organization is in its fourth generation of leadership with a succession line that will place the leadership on the shoulders of Anna Galoni who is the current vice chair. Founded by Chairman Sandy Thomson’s grandfather, army major George J. Thomson and his brother William, the company was in the business of repackaging and distributing industrial products. They later took on a partner and renamed the company Thomson Gordon when it was incorporated in 1916. The business flourished and by 1936 they were into manufacturing products for industrial engineers.

The son of the founder, Sandy’s father, graduated from Pratt Institute in New York with an architectural degree. He completed his studies during the Great Depression and found work as a commercial photographer. He soon answered his father’s summons to help run the business in Canada, which he did for the next 30 years. That put the second generation in place and the evolution continued in 1967, when Sandy took the reins of the company from his father, George J.V. Thomson.

Sandy Thomson had decided he didn’t want to be in the family business and chose to study aeronautical engineering at Northrop University in California. “I wanted to be an aerospace engineer,” George “Sandy” Thomson said, remembering his college days during the 1960s at Northrop University in Inglewood, California. “My mentor was a senior engineer who was absolutely brilliant, and we played in a band together. I really thought I had found my place in life because I didn’t want to be involved in the family business. However, the dean of the school talked me into going from aerospace to mechanical engineering because he said there would be many more opportunities, so that’s what I did. In fact, I did my final mechanical project design on seals for pumps.” That work with pump seals took Sandy into a career that has revolutionized the way propeller shafts are lubricated around the world.

The firm had a broad selection of product offerings and expanded often, but in a little corner of the plant Sandy was working on his non-metallic bearings concept. Sandy and production foreman Arnold Lange were coming up with a number of ingenious uses for newly discovered polymers and soon began solving bearings problems with an entirely new type of bearing system.

The only way Sandy Thomson felt he could convince ship operators to use his product was to have a ship using them – so he bought a Russian steam operated tug boat and outfitted it with his product and then sallied from port to port – 200 in all to show what kind of a difference his products could make.  Many Thomson Bearing staff members can remember tours on duty on the Rudokop which was later sold to Norwegian interests.  It was a Sandy Thomson original trade show.

The only way Sandy Thomson felt he could convince ship operators to use his product was to have a ship using them – so he bought a Russian steam operated tug boat and outfitted it with his product and then sallied from port to port – 200 in all to show what kind of a difference his products could make. Many Thordon Bearing staff members can remember tours on duty on the Rudokop which was later sold to Norwegian interests. It was a Sandy Thomson original trade show.

 

Having a great product is one part of a great business operation – selling it is the other part and Sandy, in his typical innovative fashion took his product to the market using a ship he had purchased, a Russian deep sea salvage steam tug, the Rudokop, and converted it into a floating showcase for the company’s marine bearings and seals. Over a 14-year period, the tug visited more than 200 international ports. It was crewed by six Eastern Europeans and captained by Thomson himself. Burlington staff would take turns being part of the crew to explain the product line. As a traveling road show the tug and its crew was a great success in introducing ship owners to Thomson’s radically new approach to lubricating the shaft of a ship’s propeller with sea water instead of oil.

“My grandfather didn’t do very much with bearings in his day. He did look at synthetic polymers but felt the science was too complex for him. He actually thought it was too complicated for Sandy as well, but the young Thomson envisioned three products that could be made from polymers. One was a flexible machinery mount. Another was a flexible coupling for a shaft, and the third was a rubber bearing for pumps. “So I came up with the idea of using an elastomer blend to work as a pump bearing and our first customer was a Canadian steel company,”

“Our bearings worked much better than the rubber bearing in vertical scale pit pumps, which were pumping scale water out of the pits. Then it hit me: Why not use my new bearings on propeller shafts for ships? While the company didn’t enter into the maritime markets for a few more years, I knew we had a winner.”

At the time the company did not have a testing facility for the new polymer bearings. So a few years before entering the maritime market, Thomson worked with a couple of senior engineers at Stelco to test the new product: “These engineers bought our polymer bearings and put them into places even I thought they didn’t have a chance to work, and they didn’t, but the cost was covered in the plant’s maintenance budgets. We did a lot of testing and I give those engineers a lot of credit for helping us in our early days.”

The Halifax class frigates gave Thordon Bearings their entry into the marine business.  With their products on ships of this class and level the rest of the marine world had to pay attention and look seriously at the products.  They did and the company grew.

The Canadian Navy Halifax class frigates gave Thordon Bearings their entry into the marine business. With their products on ships of this class and level the rest of the marine world had to pay attention and look seriously at the products. They did and the company grew.

 

When Thordon Bearings entered the maritime market, its biggest client and supporter was the Canadian Coast Guard. While a couple of tugboats used the propeller shaft bearing, the company knew they really had to be proven on the next level of ships. “The Coast Guard came along and gave us a chance,” reminisces Thomson. “I don’t want to say it was easy, because it wasn’t.

Products go through different departments as the come from manufacturing the finishing and into shipping where they are sent to more than 70 countries around the world.  China is the companies biggest customer.

Products go through different departments as the come from manufacturing to finishing and into shipping where they are sent to more than 70 countries around the world. China is the companies biggest customer.

 

In the days when Thordon first began business, 95 percent of the ships in the world had propeller shaft bearings of white metal with stern tubes of oil for lubrication. At the time the systems were state-of-the-art and no one worried much about a seal leaking. In fact, marine vessels had very little environmental compliance issues to deal with. When Thordon decided to eliminate oil and replace propeller shaft lubrication with seawater, many thought the concept was going backwards. Thomson reminds us that shaft bearings were made of wood until the 1950s. More importantly, wooden bearings would only last for about five years. So companies began manufacturing white metal bearings and using oil as a lubricant to extend the life of the bearings.

Thordon Bearings has a lock on the market for propellers and rudder bearings on those specialized vessels that push barges up and down the Mississippi River where the mud and particles in the water get cleaned out of the propeller shaft bearings that are lubricated by the river water.

Thordon Bearings has a lock on the market for propellers and rudder bearings on those specialized vessels that push barges up and down the Mississippi River where the mud and particles in the water get cleaned out of the propeller shafts that are lubricated by the river water.

 

While attitudes change slowly, today’s environmental push has never been more comprehensive, and losing a few liters of oil a day from a leaking seal is no longer acceptable. Thomson points out that in 1998 Thordon installed a seawater propeller shaft bearing on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Grand Princess. Thirteen years later, during an extensive refit the strut and stern tube bearings were checked and found to be in exceptional shape.

Thomson says the bearings on the Grand Princess could be in great shape for 20 years, which is unheard of. “When we started guaranteeing 15 years of life for our seawater propeller shaft bearings, people thought we were nuts,” he said. “We’re not in the spare parts business, so we manufacture our bearings to last the life of the ship.”

We` are a much more environmentally conscious society and it is no longer acceptable. With bearings that have a 20 year life span a lot of oil is kept out of the water.

The more than 100 employees who manufacture products result in significant savings for their clients and keep a lot of oil out of the sea lanes. Operated as a company that constantly innovates Thordon Bearings uses a team of nine area agents who supervise agent/distributors in 73 countries. Craig Carter, Director of Marketing and Customer Service, explains that by using local distributors we can be both international and at the same time very local. Our distributors have been with us for a very long time and they have their ears to the ground in their markets.

Sandy Thomson is both an engineer and a captain who understands the waters ships sail on and the equipment they need to ensure a safe voyage.  He is also fully aware of the increased environmental consciousness that is keeping the sea lanes cleaner than ever before.

Sandy Thomson is both an engineer and a captain who understands the waters ships sail on and the equipment they need to ensure a safe voyage. He is also fully aware of the increased environmental consciousness that is keeping the sea lanes cleaner than ever before.

 

However, to be successful around the world, you also need credibility at home. “When our products were specified for the Halifax class patrol boats used by the Canadian Navy we had immediate bona fides with other navies and as a result of that we sell to navies around the world including the United States where the four Nimitz class aircraft carriers use our products.

Today the company has outfitted about 2000 vessels with its oil-free, seawater-lubricated bearing system. Thomson says the company has expanded to Poland and Saint Petersburg, Russia to complement the Canadian facility.

Sandy Thomson is winding down a little today at the company. His new passion is an old one with him, film-making. He is working on documentary films and only spends a couple of days a week at the office. Thomson recently re-released a DVD – “The Eyes of Memory” that he shot in 1972 with a 16 mm camera that he will tell you is the only film format that is going to survive. The 32 minute reflection on Burlington is a joy to watch – give Sandy’s office a call and get a copy. Might even be on at the Library you can borrow.

Succession is critical for any business.  Thordon Bearing knows today what the fourth level of succession is going to be.  Anna Galoni will lead an engineering company in an industry that doesn’t have very many woman in it and lead the company deeper into the marine market where woman are rare.  Once again Thordon  Bearings innovates and leads.

Succession is critical for any business. Thordon Bearings know today what the fourth level of succession is going to be. Anna Galoni will lead an engineering company in an industry that doesn’t have very many women in it and lead the company deeper into the marine market where woman are rare. Once again Thordon Bearings innovates and leads.

 

Sandy’s stepdaughter, Anna Galoni, is a Polish-born epidemiologist by training and is now the firm’s Vice Chairman. She will eventually succeed her stepfather. The company is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary in September and Sandy has a large container of old papers and memorabilia to sort through for that event. Then, perhaps another film or two and maybe some ideas for a slightly better polymer bearing. There is also the old lighthouse on the Burlington canal, built before Confederation, that Sandy would like to see renovated. A great, great, grandfather of his was at one time the lighthouse keeper.

Both the company and staff are deeply involved in the community. They were major donours to the building of he Burlington Performance Arts Centre and are involved in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum where Sandy and members of the staff provide volunteer hours in restoration projects.

Guys like Sandy Thomson don’t retire – they just keep on going round and round – much like the propellers that his bearings support.

 

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Learning on the job – or making a fool of yourself?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 18, 2011 — There are things about municipal government and basic business that are just things you know. Like being an accountant – it is assumed you can count.

At a Council Committee meeting Marianne Meed Ward, the woman who represents the good people of Ward 2, wanted to know what Council was going to learn about the pier tender at a meeting scheduled for August 31st – that’s the date that appeared in the agenda she was reading from.

The Pier is in Ward 2 and Councillor Marianne Meed Ward wants her people to know what it is going to cost.  She said at a Council Committee meeting that she would attend the tender opening and “tweet” the numbers to her constituents.

The Pier is in Ward 2 and Councillor Marianne Meed Ward wants her people to know what it is going to cost. She said at a Council Committee meeting that she would attend the tender opening and “tweet” the numbers to her constituents.

 

Actually nothing was going to happen on that date – but things were certainly happening and the Ward 2 Councillor didn’t seem to have a clue. She wasn’t really clear on what a tender bid was nor did she have any idea what the public opening of tenders was all about. All she knew was that she wanted to be at the meeting so she could “tweet” whatever number was the lowest bid and that had a very senior member of the civic administration fuming..

“That kind of behaviour is just plain irresponsible” and “has the potential to create a perception that might not reflect what the best price for completing the construction of the pier at the foot of Brant Street is all about.”

 

Roman Martiuk, city manager, had already explained to Council how the tender process worked. The lowest price gets the job – but that lowest price cannot have a whole bunch of conditions attached to it that raise the price well above what the city has said it is prepared to pay.

Sometimes a contractor will put forward a low bid and then add all kinds of provisos – for example the bidder might stipulate that the trestle in place, which is already the subject of litigation, has to be removed. The removal would add to the city’s costs and thereby take the cost from this particular contractor higher than other bids that come in.

Tenders are opened publicly so that there is no favouritism shown for any particular bidder. Everyone knows what the number is. The engineering department, after opening the envelopes and reading out the amount shown at the bottom of the document, then takes all the documents away and does there due diligence.

Then they prepare a report for the city council committee responsible for the project and make a recommendation based on the numbers that were publicly read and their due diligence. That recommendations is discussed at the committee level and goes to a Council meeting for acceptance. Contractors who wish to comment at the committee level can supposedly do so.

There have been occasions in the past when the mathematics in a bid were incorrect; there have been tenders that were not properly signed. So the lowest number at first reading may not in fact be the lowest price when the due diligence is done. For a person in the room to hear all the numbers, note the lowest and then broadcast that number to her following is “absolutely irresponsible”.

During the Council meeting at which the Waterdown Road interchange bids were opened, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven said he attended and sat at the back of the room and noted the numbers. He made no public comment.

The skeleton of the pier extends out into the lake waiting for someone to complete the work or come in and tear the whole thing down.  Costs will decide which the city decides to do.  Public seems divided on the issue.

The skeleton of the pier extends out into the lake waiting for someone to complete the work or come in and tear the whole thing down. Costs will decide which the city decides to do. Public seems divided on the issue.

 

The tenders will be issued on July 20th to the seven contractors who have been pre-qualified. They are expected to come back with their bids no later than August 10th, however, it is not uncommon for a contractor to ask for an extension or to ask some questions as they prepare their bids.

When one contractor asks a question – the answer to the question is given out to all the contractors who picked up a tender. Contractors are encouraged to be innovative and come back with a bid that is their best possible price. They may include in their bid new and unique ways of doing something. That doesn’t mean changing the design but it does allow for the contractor to use their creativity and knowledge of new techniques developed by the construction industry.

Burlington has pre-qualified seven contractors several of which have enviable reputations. The pre-qualified are:

ConCrete USL Limited

Toronto Zenith Contracting Limited

Belor Construction Ltd

Rankin Construction In.

Bot Construction

PCL Construction Canada Inc.

Graham Infrastructure

These seven companies have undergone a much more rigorous process to be qualified to bid on the pier completion. In a report to a council committee Toronto based Mettko said “a more comprehensive pre-qualification package was issued in June 2011 which included more than 25 pages of the city’s standard requirements and illustrations. Compared to the two (2) page pre-qualification package used in March 2005. Council had directed staff to provide a report that set out the differences between the 2005 tender pre-qualifications process and the one that will be issued later this month. Earlier Tom Eichenbaum said at a committee that the pre-qualification in 2005 have been “rather cursory”.

The tender that will be issued will have three provisional items on it which include a promenade area extension that is expected to come in at $100,000.

A small scale floating dock that is also to cost $100,000.

Ramp to the mini beach that has developed naturally on the west side of the pier. Expected to cost $60,000.

At a council committee Council Jack Dennison commented that “no one can spend money the municipal staff can”. His view was that the floating dock was maybe ok – Dennison is a boating buff.

These three provisional items will only be considered if the tender prices come in below the overall updated project budget which is now $9,094,000.

 

The cost of the pier once it is completed is going to amount to $15,070,000. The original cost was $9,272,033 of which $5,975,205 had been paid out to various contractors and suppliers. Which leave $3,296,828. left from the originally approved budget. In order to complete the pier the city has estimated it needs an additional $5,798,000. That money will come from the Capital Purposes Reserve Fund. Burlington has a lot of money tucked away in reserve funds

The money to build the pier, working from the original budgeted amount, came from:

Federal government/provincial governments: $4,356,230.

Regional government: $2,500,000.

Burlington Hydro: $100,000.

The city’s portion was just $2,315,803. It looked like a good deal at the time.

 

The city estimates it will cost $2,400,000 to demolish the pier.

The key dates for the immediate future are

Tender going out July 20th – this date is now cast in stone.

August 10th bids to come back from the contractors

August 17th possible extension date for bids from contractors

Things get pretty quiet around city hall during the month of August. While many senior staff people are on vacation – bet that they will be two rings away on their cell phones should problems arise.

The one plus that hasn’t cost us a dime so far is the instant beach that formed on the west side of the unfinished pier.  The city is now talking about installing a $60,000 ramp to provide access, which could be done for a lot less by just moving some boulders.

The one plus that hasn’t cost us a dime so far is the instant beach that formed on the west side of the unfinished pier. The city is now talking about installing a $60,000 ramp to provide access, which could be done for a lot less by just moving some boulders.

 

Some patience and the belief that the engineering team at city hall along with the consultants they have brought in to advise them each step of the way and we can expect to see the opening of the Pier just about the time Sound of Music 2013 is to take place.

However, let us not let the Sound of Music schedule determine when we open the pier. Let the contractors complete their work and just make sure that we do it right this time. And whatever number Councillor Meed Ward decides to tweet to you on either the 10th or the 17th of August – take it with a grain of salt and realize that while it might be the lowest number, the bid may not meet other criteria that would disallow it.

 

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He calls it the old “switcheroo”.

By Ken Colombo

BURLINGTON, ON July 18, 2011 — Subject: Heagle withdrawal

As I have said many, many times before, Pepper, your blog is a valuable and highly insightful viewpoint covering municipal and provincial politics. My friend worked his butt off for Heagle in the municipal election … thinking Brian represented the Liberals. When Brian pulled the ‘switcheroo’ … the guy became totally pissed. Hang in there buddy, yer doin’ a great job.

Ken Colombo … (a pseudonym of course).

 

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Contemplation and consultation takes time; Heagle needed more as he withdrew from PC nomination, and took it.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 14, 2011 – There appears not to have been quite enough contemplation and consultation as Brian Heagle worked himself towards withdrawing from the nomination race to be named the provincial Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington.

An original press release put out at 9:33 am was to be replaced with a revised version released at 10:57 in which Heagle took out the lines: “nine weeks have passed for other candidates to emerge. Perhaps, as a result of my decision today, one or more will step forward.”

Not quite sure why those lines were withdrawn – they don’t and won’t make much difference at this point. The Tories just wanted Heagle out of the picture and as quietly as possible would be nice – but when you get hammered the way Heagle was hammered – there is a bit of bitterness that has to be accommodated.

Rene Papin had his comments to make as well when he pulled out.

It’s going to take a super star or a very high profile candidate to pull this one from the edge of the cliff.

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Burlington Tories have yet to nominate a candidate; Heagle follows Pepin and falls on his sword. Bloody mess.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 14, 2011 – The Burlington Progressive Conservatives are soon going to run out of swords. First it was Rene Papin falling on his sword and now Brian Heagle has made “the right decision” and withdrawn as a candidate for the Burlington nomination. That leaves just Jane McKenna in the line up for the Associations nomination.

After a valiant battle and shaking thousands of hands Brian Heagle withdraws from the race for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Burlington.

After a valiant battle and shaking thousands of hands Brian Heagle withdraws from the race for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Burlington.

Heagle said this morning that: “After a great deal of contemplation and consultation, it’s the right decision for me to make at this time. I’m accustomed to making tough choices but this one was especially difficulty because so many people in Burlington supported my candidacy.” Apparently not enough of those people were on the Burlington Progressive Conservative Association, which has yet to even set a date for their nomination meeting.

Jane McKenna is the only candidate left publicly seeking the PC nomination.

Jane McKenna is the only candidate left publicly seeking the PC nomination.

The Liberals have had Karmel Sakran out in the field for several months and the New Democrats found a saddle Peggy Russell was prepared to ride in and they are out there canvassing and developing supporters.

Sakran is out developing support in a riding that hasn’t elected a Liberal for more than 65 years.  The PC’s are making it easy for him.

Sakran is out developing support in a riding that hasn’t elected a Liberal for more than 65 years. The PC’s are making it easy for him.

Jane McKenna is courting ever member of the PC association she can find hoping to get their vote when they hold their nomination meeting. At this point she is the only candidate actually campaigning publicly for the nomination.

Are the Progressive Conservatives so sure of their support in Burlington that they believe they can risk having their candidate not yet named with less than 90 days before the election takes place ? There must be some interesting and perhaps noisy association meetings.

The Progressive Conservative brand is taking a bit of a hit, the shine and the luster it held when Cam Jackson won 70% of the vote is beginning to tarnish.

Current MPP Joyce Savoline advised the association that she would not run in the October provincial election some time ago. Given the Burlington history of electing Conservatives to the provincial legislature since 1943 one would have thought this was almost the safest seat in the province and that there would be a line up of people seeking the nomination.

The New Democrats have their show on the road, given the candidate a new paint job and hope they can gain some traction from the federal NDP wins in Quebec.

The New Democrats have their show on the road, given the candidate a new paint job and hope they can gain some traction from the federal NDP wins in Quebec.

The best they seemed to be able to do was attract Heagle who was for the longest time known as a Liberal and was being groomed by the late John Boich as the candidate for that party. A well placed Burlington Tory has said privately that the Progressive Conservatives “could lose the seat if they are not careful.”

McKenna, who was serving as Papin’s campaign manager, did a two step and put her own name forward after Papin withdrew and is now the only person publicly seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination.

Heagle, in his withdrawal statement said: “When I stepped forward as a candidate earlier this year, and after Rene Papin withdrew from the race in early May, I never expected the nomination process would still be going on in July or that a nomination meeting date would not be scheduled yet. Nine weeks have passed for other strong candidates to emerge. Perhaps, as a result of my decision today, one or more will step forward.

Heagle said he would “love the privilege and opportunity to be the Ontario PC Party candidate and represent Burlington as its next MPP. Regrettably, timing and circumstances have changed. I have to make firm commitments now to my family, partners an clients which no longer fit with this political process, including the short lead up to the October 6 election.”

The gleam in Boich’s eye (far right) and the earnestness with which Heagle was preaching to the Liberals was more than the Progressive Conservatives could handle – they just couldn’t accept that Heagle had really changed his colours – they wanted a real blue Tory - they’re still looking.

The gleam in Boich’s eye (far right) and the earnestness with which Heagle was preaching to the Liberals was more than the Progressive Conservatives could handle – they just couldn’t accept that Heagle had really changed his colours – they wanted a real blue Tory - they’re still looking.

The problem for the Tories was that Heagle was just to red for them, his Liberal past was more than they could swallow. However, others have changed their political stripes and gone on to win elections under different party affiliations. Something doesn’t appear to be quite right within the party association.

 

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Up close and personal and the light standards really do exist.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 11, 2011 – Up close and on site – the Pier is a marvel to behold. The lazy curve of the S shape and the way it snakes out into the lake is quite something. It will be an experience to stand out there in a wind storm.

The outline of the S shape is very clear with all the side beans in place waiting for the deck to be built.  It is going to be a stunning addition to the city.

The outline of the S shape is very clear with all the side beans in place waiting for the deck to be built. It is going to be a stunning addition to the city.

The place is a bit of a shambles right now. The sea gulls have had there way with the main deck and it is a mess – keeping it clean is something the city is going to have to budget for and I can see it getting slippy when ice builds up – but the same can be said of the promenade along Spender Smith in the winter.

The light standards – at least nine of them are there – stowed away in a dry electrical room just waiting for someone to install the things – problem is that there aren’t enough of them – the Pier needs 12 and there are only nine in the storage room and this particular model isn’t made any more.

The light fixtures were found – but three are missing.  Is there a buyer out there that can make the city an offer so that the city can go out and buy the 12 they need.  The nine in hand are a model that is no longer manufactured.

The light fixtures were found – but three are missing. Is there a buyer out there that can make the city an offer so that the city can go out and buy the 12 they need. The nine in hand are a model that is no longer manufactured.

There were other items that weren’t where the city thought they should be when they took possession of the site once the original contractor walked off saying they couldn’t complete the job using the design they were given. Some of the evidence relating to the sub standard steel that was made has disappeared.

Left however is a trestle which doesn’t belong to the original contractor and doesn’t belong to the city – then who does it belong to? It belongs to a local contractor who put it in place – not sure yet who actually told the owner of the trestle to put the thing in place – but it is still there and the owner wants it back.

Whoever completes the construction of the Pier will need a trestle and because the city sued everyone who was part of the construction – contractor and sub-contractors; they all got writs- everything stays as it is until the legal stuff is worked out. Great paydays for the lawyers involved and the city’s legal department doesn’t want to say how much they’ve spent because saying how much has been spent might give away the city’s strategy. And if you believe that – well I can’t sell you the Pier but I am aware of some land in Florida that I can get you a very good deal on.

The owner is the trestle is one very unhappy camper right now.  He wants the thing back or he wants someone to pay him for hanging on to it.

The owner is the trestle is one very unhappy camper right now. He wants the thing back or he wants someone to pay him for hanging on to it.

The legal department works at one level and the team at city hall overseeing the issuing of the tender package that will get a contractor on site has had to step very, very carefully around the numerous issues that are still unresolved. A little like walking on eggshells and told not to break any of them.

But, they are doing a good job – we’re not home free yet – that day however is not very far off. We should know what is going to be possible by the middle of September. We may yet see some very creative and innovative proposals from the group of at least five, maybe as many as seven pre-qualified contractors.

Three municipal councils later and a $5 million + increase in the cost but we are going to have a pier at the foot of Brant Street.

There is one bit of sliver lining in all this and that is a small stretch of sandy beach that has formed at the west side of the Pier site. No one thought there would ever be a beach with the Pier – but Mother nature had her way with the water that swirls around the embankment that was built on the shore line and as a result sand has built up around the western side of the Pier snuggled next to where the eastern end of the Spencer Smith Park promenade begins.

Perhaps we can call it:  Instant Beach, a short stretch of sand created as a result of the change in water flow when the shape of the embankment was changed as the pier was being built.  It is certainly being used.

Perhaps we can call it: Instant Beach, a short stretch of sand created as a result of the change in water flow when the shape of the embankment was changed as the pier was being built. It is certainly being used.

People are already using the beach even though there is no real access – they have to climb over large boulders but, if the city is at all proactive, they will move half a dozen of those boulders and create stair way and a wheel chair access ramp leading down to the sane so people can get to the waters edge.

Do you want to guess at how many reasons people at legal will come up with as to why this can’t be done: no lifeguard on duty, people might begin to swim under the Pier. They will have more than a handful of reasons. Hopefully they will be so busy defending their position on not letting the public know how much they have spent on outside lawyers suing all the contractors involved in the work before the contractor walked off the job, that they won’t find time to bother about the new beach we are getting.

Maybe we can call the stretch of sand: Instant Beach.

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Condo corp breaks ground in “uptown” Burlington. Real news is what’s going on underground.

BURLINGTON, ON June 11, 2011 A 16 storey condominium will break ground this week to commence construction at the Upper Middle Road and Appleby Line part of town. The building will be one of the first multi-residential high rises in Canada equipped with geothermal technology.

Geothermal is a renewable energy source that reduces the use of fossil fuels and release of harmful emissions that pollute the air. “Just by moving in, purchasers reduce their carbon footprint,” says Ironstone’s lead architect Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW.

The geothermal holes get drilled and pipes run through the holes to bring the heat in the earth up into the buildings.  Once the holes are drilled and the pipes fitted in the construction of the building can then commence.

The geothermal holes get drilled and pipes run through the holes to bring the heat in the earth up into the buildings. Once the holes are drilled and the pipes fitted in the construction of the building can then commence.

Designed to service all of Ironstone’s space heating and cooling load requirements, the geothermal system will be installed and maintained by leading clean technology developer and operator GeoXperts Energy.

Ironstone has shown significant leadership, as it has done in the past and reflected in the more than 34 awards the company has received for design excellence and innovation, in the decision to use geothermal energy.

The positive twist to this decision is that energy costs for the unit owners are locked in for at least a decade. The geothermal unit and its installation and maintenance become the responsibility of the GeoXperts people. They own the equipment that gets put into the ground before the building is actually built. Raising the capital to pay for the piping and drilling isn’t that difficult when the finance people know that the equipment isn’t going to go anywhere and the people in the building on top of the equipment are going to want to be warmed and cooled. It was one of those win – win – win situations.

Drilling rig that bores into the ground for the pipes that will be used to carry heat into the building.  Heat exchangers convert the heat into cool air during the summer months.

Drilling rig that bores into the ground for the pipes that will be used to carry heat into the building. Heat exchangers convert the heat into cool air during the summer months.

GeoXperts Energy has brought a completely new model the condo industry where controlling costs and keeping prices in markets where competition can be stiff.

Leslie Thomas, co-founder of GeoExperts, figured he could do what the gas company does – pay for the cost of installing a gas line to a house and then sell the owner of the house whatever gas he needs. In the thermal energy situation there is no cost for the energy – all they had to do was drill holes into the ground and tap into the heat that is stored underground

“Whether it’s a 10-, 15- or 25-year energy contract, that (annual price) will be capped,” says Thomas, explaining that the benefit to the customer is no upfront capital requirement, long-term predictability of energy costs, a slightly lower annual energy bill and environmental bragging rights for purchasing emission-free heating and cooling. “That’s the difference we bring to the equation.”

Graham Chalmers, partner with Davies Smith Development points to a feature in the 16 storey condominium model that will break ground at the Appleby Line and Upper Middle Road location in Burlington

Graham Chalmers, partner with Davies Smith Development points to a feature in the 16 storey condominium model that will break ground at the Appleby Line and Upper Middle Road location in Burlington

There are other side benefits to geothermal as well, including more comfortable heating and cooling and lower noise.

Says Thomas Garcia, GeoXperts’ co-founder and chief financial officer: “There are so many retrofits that could be done. People just don’t know how to do it. If you can’t afford it, we’ll make it affordable for you.”

The idea of selling renewable energy to a customer, rather than renewable technology, isn’t entirely new. There are a number of “utility” ventures now selling solar power in the same way – they own the solar photovoltaic panels and related equipment, but sell the electricity to the customer over a long-term contract. The idea is that, over time, those energy revenues will more than pay for the initial capital cost that the utility incurs by installing the system.

The customer doesn’t do much more than simply pay the energy bill. “It’s all done seamlessly for the client,” says Thomas.

Behind the scenes, however, there’s much more going on. If GeoXperts negotiates, for example, a 15-year contract, then it knows precisely how much revenue it will earn over those years. It will take that total, minus any government incentives targeted at geothermal, and subtract the expected cost of installing and maintaining the system. The difference equals the profit that GeoXperts and its investors can count on.

But that’s just the starting point. There’s also opportunity to increase that profit by lowering installation costs, as well as constantly fine-tuning the systems that GeoXperts puts in to maximize their performance and efficiency.

The company, through its internal engineers and strategic partnerships, aims for high-quality installation at the outset to reduce costs associated with long-term maintenance. It has also developed proprietary software that lets it remotely monitor the performance of every geothermal site it has installed – including building and outdoor temperature – making maintenance easier and allowing for rapid-response when problems are detected.

An early version of the software, developed during Thomas’ days at Guelph Hydro, is being used at a 70,000-square-foot facility owned by Mississauga-based Lange Transportation and Storage Ltd., which claims one of the largest – some say “the” largest – geothermal retrofit in Canada.

“This (monitoring ability) has been a component in geothermal that’s been missing for years,” says Thomas. “It lets us know exactly how the system is behaving.”

And that is exactly what the Ironside condominiums are going to have – state of the art technology that will provide their residents with heating and cooling at a cost they can project well into the future. The developers, Davies Smith Development, have led in a number of construction innovations and may well do other projects in the Burlington market

The Wal-Mart store on Fairview and Brant also uses geothermal energy to heat and cool the building.

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New funny money explained to seniors; samples were not available.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 7, 2011 – They make up a large part of the community and the demographic trend is for there to be many more of them. Their needs tend to be greater than that of other people in the community.

These are our senior citizens, although that term, senior citizen, is one many of them don’t like all that much and many scoff at the explanation that they are in their “golden years”, for many live in close to dire poverty and have health issues as well as financial issues.

Constable Wendy Moraghan of the Halton Regional Police Service works with the seniors community and spends time in the different Halton Region communities to answer questions related to safety.  She is able to sense when there is any abuse taking place and knows how to gently prod and bring issues and concerns to the surface.

Constable Wendy Moraghan of the Halton Regional Police Service works with the seniors community and spends time in the different Halton Region communities to answer questions related to safety. She is able to sense when there is any abuse taking place and knows how to gently prod and bring issues and concerns to the surface.

The fast pace of the society we live in and the newer forms of communication are beyond many of these people. They aren’t stupid. They have very strong core values and during their working years had a work ethic that today’s employers wish they saw a lot more of in the people they hire.

There is an innocence to many of today’s seniors and the changes in the family unit leave many of them alone, a bit frightened and looking for a place they can go for answers to many of the questions they have.

Elder abuse is now a serious social problem that every community struggles with. Many seniors give a power of attorney over there financial affairs to someone they trust and find that it is abused by the person who holds that power.

Fraud has become another serious problem with some seniors receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be a friend of their nephew or some other relative and asking for money to be sent to solve a problem.

Many seniors find that through misunderstanding or poorly placed trust, they get taken by scam artists and the savings they had set aside are suddenly gone and they are at a point in their lives when they cannot replenish those savings.

While counterfeit money is no longer the big issue it once was in Canada there are still people out there trying pass along counterfeit bills to unsuspecting people.

The Bank of Canada controls the money supply in this country. It is the Canadian Mint that actually prints the money. The Bank of Canada has people in the field who go into the community and explain what to look for in to determine if a bill is counterfeit.

The Bank of Canada was in Burlington doing a presentation with Constable Wendy Moraghan of the Halton Regional Police Service explaining the new polymer bills that will be released by the Bank in the very near future.

A table with several seniors looks closely at paper bills given to them to inspect.  They were asked to decide if the money was counterfeit – none of it was.

A table with several seniors looks closely at paper bills given to them to inspect. They were asked to decide if the money was counterfeit – none of it was.

And at the same time the told the audience how to detect a counterfeit $10, or $20 bill. The cardinal rule was: tilt the bill and look for the and then run your fingers over it – and if in doubt ask the person giving you the bill to give you a different one.

The new $100 and $50 polymer notes are easy to check and hard to counterfeit. They have the same innovative security features that can be seen in transparent areas on both sides of the notes. Some tips on what to look for if you find yourself with either a $100. or a $50. bill in your purse.

Feel

  • 1. Raised ink
    Feel the raised ink on the shoulders of the large portrait, the large number, and the words “Bank of Canada” and “Banque du Canada.”

Look

  • 2. Large window
    Look for transparency through the large window containing a metallic portrait and building.
  • 3. Metallic portrait
    Look at the details in the metallic portrait in the large window. It matches the large portrait.
  • 4. Metallic building
    Look at the details in the metallic building in the large window. Tilt the note to see sharp colour changes in the building.
  • 5. Small numbers
    Look at the numbers in and around the large window that match the value of the note. Some of the numbers appear in reverse.
  • 6. Transparent text
    Look at the word “Canada.” It is transparent and feels slightly raised.
  • 7. Maple leaf border
    Look at the maple leaves that border the large window. Some of the leaves cross into the window.
  • 8. Frosted maple leaf window
    Look at the frosted maple leaf window to see that it has a transparent outline.

Flip

Flip the note to see the features in the large window repeated in the same colours and detail on the other side.

Added Security

  • 9. Hidden numbers
    The hidden numbers are a security feature that you can use to further verify your note, with the aid of an eye-safe single-point light source.

The Bank of Canada representative explained to the seniors gathered at Tansley Woods explained that when bank notes are taken out of circulation they are not burned but rather shredded and then recycled. He passed around a smallish plastic freezer bag half full of shredded bits of paper that he said represented half a million dollars worth of fifty dollar bills. It got a lot of attention as it was passed from table to table

Real money was passed around as well and people were asked to determine if the samples they were holding were real or counterfeit. Opinions were pretty evenly split – turned out every bill was real and were used to show people how to identify a counterfeit bill. Seems the Bank of Canada doesn’t deal with counterfeits and doesn’t use it in the community work.

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Region declares beaches are safe for recreational swimming.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON July 7, 2011 The Halton Region Health Department announces that the following locations are safe to swim at:

• Burlington – Beachway Park North, Beachway Park South
• Milton –  Kelso Conservation Area
• Oakville –  Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West, Bronte Beach Park
• Halton Hills –  Prospect Park Old Beach

The Region tests recreational water throughout Halton.  Beaches are selected based on use for swimming and other water sports.  These tests are done weekly.

Beach water samples taken on July 5/6 revealed the following beaches have acceptable levels of bacteria and are safe for swimming.

Enjoy the water and play safely. Watch the toddlers.

 

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Local cyclist takes part on Great Waterfront Trail Adventure; chooses a leisurely approach.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON July 6, 2011 The Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is an annual tour that travels the whole 720 km route over eight sensational days. Every single day of this fully supported tour includes the WOW Factor – the Wonderful Ontario Waterfront along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Hundreds of Ontarians as well as people from the United States and Quebec take part in this event including Burlington’s Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison and his partner.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison arrives in Burlington on the first leg of his eight day adventure cycling from Niagara on the Lake to Riviere Baudette in Québec along the Waterfront Trail.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison arrives in Burlington on the first leg of his eight day adventure cycling from Niagara on the Lake to Riviere Baudette in Québec along the Waterfront Trail.

Each day Dennison is up at the crack of dawn to catch a GO train or drive to the location where the adventure picks up to drive the 45 to 100 km that is set out for a given day. Each ‘adventurer’ sets their own pace. The get together as groups or ride as pairs knowing that they will arrive at the destination for the day.

Because Dennison has responsibilities in Burlington at his health club and at Council meetings he become a sort of commuting adventurer for the first few days. But as the trip works its way east he will become a full time adventurer and the city and his business interests will have to wait.

July, 2008 was the inaugural year of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, an end to end tour of the Trail that welcomed the public.  In 2002, partners of the trail, including journalist Kate Harries, rode the length of the route and documented their journey in a series of articles that appeared in the Toronto Star.

Dennison takes a meal break in Mississauga on the second leg of hi eight day adventure rising the full 720 km length of the Waterfront Trail.  “The beauty of this adventure is that you can stop when and where you like and relax over a beer and a meal” said Dennison.  Are those Tour de France Yellow Jerseys?

Dennison takes a meal break in Mississauga on the second leg of hi eight day adventure rising the full 720 km length of the Waterfront Trail. “The beauty of this adventure is that you can stop when and where you like and relax over a beer and a meal” said Dennison. Are those Tour de France Yellow Jerseys?

“We had so much fun”, said Harries “that we decided to share the experience with as many people as we can. There is a true sense of pride and accomplishment in traveling along the entire 730 kms of the Waterfront Trail. There are now hundreds of what we call ‘end-to-enders’ who have done their own tours and had this unique experience of southern Ontario

The 2011 Route that Dennison is following is set out below with the day to day destinations shown on the map shown below.

 

 

Day 1, Saturday July 2nd Niagara-on-the-Lake to Hamilton 60 km
Day 2, Sunday July 3rd Hamilton to Fort York, Toronto 80 km
Day 3, Monday July 4th Toronto to Ajax 80 km
Day 4, Tuesday July 5th Ajax to Cramahe/Colborne 126 km
Day 5, Wednesday July 6th Cramahe to Greater Napanee 90 km
Day 6, Thursday July 7th Greater Napanee to Brockville 140 km
Day 7, Friday July 8th Brockville to Cornwall 112 km
Day 8, Saturday July 9th Cornwall to Riviere Baudette 45 km

 

The actual route these adventurers are taking is set out below.

Deputy mayor from Port Hope ; Mayor Parrish from Ajax; the current Mayor of Coburg and the former mayor of Coburn.  Several of these gents are joining Dennison, who is on the far left, in the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

Deputy mayor from Port Hope ; Mayor Parrish from Ajax; the current Mayor of Coburg and the former mayor of Coburn. Several of these gents are joining Dennison, who is on the far left, in the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

Each of the municipalities along the route have taken to providing a rest station and a certain amount of competition has developed between the municipalities to see who can be the most hospitable. Dennison, who is not exactly impartial, maintains that Burlington offered the best hospitality with people at the canal standing there early in the morning welcoming people into Burlington and directing them to the “butt” stop at Spencer Smith Park where fruit and juices were available. “Pickering came close to what Burlington had to offer but there was far more spirit in the people representing Burlington, Dennison reported to a Council meeting.

The Waterfront Trail is a project developed by former Mayor David Crombie who served as a one man Royal Commission that was to create a trail from one end of the province to the other along the shores of Lake Ontario. Crombie told a Burlington Waterfront Advisory Committee that Burlington was once a leader in the development of public spaces along the lake and that he hoped to see the city return to its prominence as a leader in making the lake accessible to the public.

What moves Dennison most as he cycles from community to community is the many occasions when he and his partner stop by the side of a road or take a break for a meal and gaze out over the lake and realize they gave been following the same body of water for a number of day. The aboriginal people who used the lake were very familiar with every creek and stream that fed into the lake but those of us who speed along the 401 and see glimpses of the body of water from time to time have no sense of what the lake means to us geographically or physiologically. It is only when you are near the water day in and day out that you realize the impact that body of water has on you.

For Dennison and his partner – there are new delights and insights every day. He just might come back to Burlington at the end of this adventure a changed man. But then again – the sights and delights of Quebec might get a grip on the man and we may never see him again.

 

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Promises, promises – Where is the money to build both GO and a planned highway through the Escarpment going to come from?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON July 5, 2011 – Tim Hudak has promised to build the Niagara to GTA (NGTA) highway (formerly known as the Mid Pen highway) that has a price tag of up to $6 billion. He has also said he would fund GO Service to Niagara Falls.

 

The NGTA highway has a price of $6 billion and the GO service would come in at something in excess if $1 billion . Given that this is taxpayers money Hudak is spending we would like to know which of our pockets is Hudak going to take that money from?

Anyone who has managed a household or business budget knows there is only so much money to go around. If you decide to buy a new car you may not have money to fix up the house.

Geoff Brock, spokesperson for Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) want to know, “Where is the money coming from to build both?” The Niagara region and the rest of Ontario may have to make a choice, he says, between fast, efficient, clean public transit or new highways that will chew up prime agricultural land and rip through the Escarpment.

Brock notes many Niagara residents, local politicians and businesses were looking forward to having regular GO Service extended from Niagara Falls to Toronto and beyond. Brock says, “Not only would GO Service reduce congestion on the QEW but it would also raise home prices throughout its Niagara corridor, as many studies have shown.” As well, regular GO service would be a boon to the tourism and wine industries in the Niagara area, Brock points out.

“Besides the unaffordable cost, building a new four lane highway will lead to more aggregate mining on the escarpment with its attendant noise and truck traffic,” adds Brock

 

“Building the NGTA Highway is an idea that’s been around since the Harris government introduced it in 2001. It’s never been built because the case has never been made to justify its cost. “The case still has not been made,” says Sue McMaster, Co-Chair of COPE (Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment), who notes that rising oil prices have escalated the price of asphalt making the proposal more economically-unsound than ever. Extending GO service to Niagara would also create a number of jobs in the region as well as improve the quality of life for commuters in the Niagara, she says.

Brock calls the NGTA highway plan an old, unaffordable idea that just doesn’t make sense. “It’s time to focus on transit solutions that are affordable and offer long-term benefits to the people of Niagara,” Brock says. Before we spend all our infrastructure money on new and unnecessary roads, the citizens and businesses of Niagara need to let their local politicians know that they want GO service more than a highway.

 

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It’s now a waiting game. The city engineers shuffle paper and contractors sharpen their pencils.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 5, 2011 – Marketers and advertisers “position” their products; they decide who they want to sell their soap or toothpaste to and then advertise and market the product to reach the market they have identified. Dove soap is marketed to one audience while Irish Spring is marketed to another.

Politicians do much the same thing, except that they are marketing themselves. Usually a politician will market themselves to as many people as they can in their ward. But if you’re a politician with a net that you want to cast a little wider – then you market yourself to a large audience. You do the same thing with your career. The difference between you and the politician is that the decisions they make are decisions you pay for.

She did it again – asked for a recorded vote on the motion to approve spending of an additional $5 million plus to complete the pier in her Ward.  She voted against the spending but said she will support the decision and do everything she can to make sure the city doesn’t spend any more money.

She did it again – asked for a recorded vote on the motion to approve spending of an additional $5 million plus to complete the pier in her Ward. She voted against the spending but said she will support the decision and do everything she can to make sure the city doesn’t spend any more money.

Ward 2 councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who has never wavered from wanting to be Mayor of Burlington, takes positions on issues and asks for recorded votes that position her as a ward politician who is speaking for all the people of Burlington. Another step in the process of positioning herself as a possible mayoralty candidate in 2014 was her request for a recorded vote on the Committee report that came to Council for approval of the plan to spend an additional $5,798,000 to proceed with the completion of the Pier at the foot of Brant Street..

Meed Ward was the only member of Council to vote against the recommendation to approve an increase to $15.7 million to build the Pier from the original $9.6 million in the original approval. This despite being the person who moved adoption of the report at the Committee level, a move that surprised Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor.

Council meetings, as opposed to committee meetings, are pretty short events. Council is there to decide yea or nay on recommendations made at the committee level. Meed Ward moved that the report on the new cost of the Pier be adopted at the Committee level and one would assume that she would support a report she moved when it got to Council.

It all began when a crane on the construction site toppled over.  Some say the crane operator was on his cell phone at the time talking to his girl friend.  Things went downhill from there with the construction project.  We don’t know how things went with the girl friend..

It all began when a crane on the construction site toppled over. Some say the crane operator was on his cell phone at the time talking to his girl friend. Things went downhill from there with the construction project. We don’t know how things went with the girl friend..

With Meed Ward saying she would not be supporting the recommendation every Council member weighed in on the issue. Councillor Sharman was blunt and direct when he said: “Fact, the city is not at fault here” and he went on to add: “Fact, we have known there would be increased costs and delays getting this Pier built since December of 2010. Fact, no proposals have come forward other than the proposal from the original contractors insurance company and that proposal was not acceptable. Sharman added that believed the city was doing what it had to do. Councillor Craven said he “was angry with the situation the city was in” and went on to say: “I think I know who is to blame … but we have to be very careful about what we say. Some day however, I will say it. For now modesty is the best approach.”

Craven added that Council meetings are public and the people we are suing watch the cable cast and read the media. “We need to be careful what we say.” Craven is obviously listening to the city’s lawyers.

Councillor Sharman cut to the chase when he said the facts are that the city has done nothing wrong.  We owe it to the taxpayers to go forward with this.

Councillor Sharman cut to the chase when he said the facts are that the city has done nothing wrong. We owe it to the taxpayers to go forward with this.

Earlier in the meeting Councillor Jack Dennison pointed out that the city did nothing wrong. The contractor was on the site building a pier that the city had contracted to have done. The crane toppled”, explained Dennison, then there was a concrete pour that didn’t hold and then we learned that the steel used was under spec and that there were welds that did not meet specifications.

The contractor walked off the job when the city refused to increase the amount they had agreed to pay for the building of the pier. The dispute became a bit of an election issue but the public didn’t really have enough information at the time to decide how they really felt – but they thumped Mayor Jackson nevertheless and the city had a significantly different Council.

The city now had a royal mess on their hands. There was a partially constructed pier and a contractor who walked off the job. What was the city supposed to do? They had a real problem and the only resolution was to sue the contractor and the firm that designed the pier. The city also had to get the construction back in their hands. The contractor walks off the site but that doesn’t mean the city can just walk in and take over. The lawyers spell out the steps that have to be taken. They have to decide who exactly to sue. That got a little complicated because the firm that did the design work had been merged with a much larger firm. Then they have to figure out how much they are suing for and then engage legal counsel to handle the cases for them That took time and it has been expensive.

The crane accident was soon followed by a concrete pour that buckled some steel beams and revealed sub standard welding..  That’s when the arguments between the contractor, his sub contractors and the pier designers began – and then it all landed in the city’s lap when the contractor walked off the job.

The crane accident was soon followed by a concrete pour that buckled some steel beams and revealed sub standard welding.. That’s when the arguments between the contractor, his sub contractors and the pier designers began – and then it all landed in the city’s lap when the contractor walked off the job.

How expensive ? We don’t know that yet but there will be a loud “ouch” when that figure gets released. Meed Ward believes there is an argument for releasing the legals costs now based on a court case heard recently in Kitchener. Interestingly Meed Ward didn’t issue a staff direction to look into what could be done to get those numbers. Maybe at another meting.

Since then, the city has realized that the dispute resolution process in the contract with the original contractor was not strong enough to allow the city to work out the problems without going to court. For that the city has to be faulted but it is certainly no reason to say the city should not proceed.

Mayor Goldring told Council that a citizen had suggested to him that the city not give the funds given to them by the federal government and the provincial government as well as the Region. THAT is not going to happen on this Mayor’s watch. “we have a moral obligation to return the funds and I don’t want to be part of a Council that plays funny games.”

We now know that Meed Ward doesn’t support the Council’s decision. What isn’t clear is what Meed Ward would do? She offered no course of action other than saying she couldn’t support the spending of more money – even though she had no problem with that decision at the committee level. Looks like a piece of political posturing to me

Meed Ward set out her position on her Facebook page when she said: “Council approves increased budget for pier 6-1. I did not support the re-tendering process because of the enhanced budget and timelines required, so did not vote in favour of the new budget. That said, now that we are on this path, my commitment is to do everything I can to ensure we stick to the new budget and timeline, and continue to release information to the public, including legal fees and staff time.”
Meed Ward dug out the numbers on staff time spent on the project but not charged back to the project. According to her information a total of 1249 hours – for a total of 31 weeks has been spent on this project by senior engineering staff. She now wants to know what the legal bill has come to as well.
Councillor Craven fully supports the Mayor’s leadership on the decision to press forward with the completion of the pier.  He also cautions people to be careful what they say publicly; advises that the people we are suing listen.

Councillor Craven fully supports the Mayor’s leadership on the decision to press forward with the completion of the pier. He also cautions people to be careful what they say publicly; advises that the people we are suing listen.

Councillor Craven took issue with the stance Meed Ward had taken – claiming she supported the pier, but not the budget. “That’s a cop-out,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

After council, in a comment to a reporter, Meed Ward said she was just being consistent in her position. “I did not support the re-tendering when it first came to a vote so I cannot now support the enhanced budget for re-tendering,” she said. “That is simply being consistent. He labels that a cop-out. I disagree.”

“We could” said Councillor Sharman, “be nice and take no action and allow the parties who are at fault walk away without being held accountable. The taxpayers would be left paying all the bills.”

The decision to proceed is now official and the completion of tender package preparations goes full tilt. Here is the timeline the city is working to:

  • We now have a list of contractors.
  • They will each be given the tender package.
  • They will take that away and do all their number crunching and come back with their best number.
  • The city will open the tenders and the lowest number gets the deal.

 

The city now has a couple of dicey weeks ahead of them. The engineering department, along with the consultants they have hired, pre-qualified 11 contractors who can submit bids to complete the construction of the pier. The city expects that the list will get winnowed down to eight contractors who will be given a tender package. The tender package has all the documents, plans, detailed specifications and anything else a contractor needs to know to be able to submit a bid – saying I will complete the construction of the Pier for xx dollars.

The contractors already know how much the city is prepared to spend – that’s now public information. Each contractor has to look at their costs and submit their best number to the city. The city is obliged to go with the lowest price – that’s what a tendering process is all about.

It was that tendering process that got us into the mess we are in now and many wonder why we are doing the same thing all over again. What’s different this time ? Before getting into the “this time” let me share with you some facts pulled together by my colleague Joan Little of the Spectator who wrote:

In August, 2005 (two councils ago), five bids were received, from $12.5 to $17.7 million; so back to the drawing board. The pier was downsized (again) to 180 metres, then 150, then 112 metres long and 7.5 metres wide, with a $6.2 million budget. The deck, previously steel-framed, was changed to pre-cast concrete.

Three bids, received from pre-qualified contractors in July, 2006, ranged up to $8.4 million. The lowest was from Harm Schilthuis of Ancaster, for $6,782,557.34, including GST, ($6,043,639 without, because municipalities get the GST rebated). So the 2006-2010 council approved about $450,000 extra to extend the length from 112 metres to 132.

The design incorporated 14 caissons, 1.4 metres in diameter, supporting a platform about 5 metres above the water, with a safety handrail, and a lighted beacon 80 metres from shore powered by a wind turbine that would also power the pier’s lights.

It had a floating dock at the end, with a capacity for docking commercial craft such as tour boats, and 22 fair-weather boat slips for day use. It was to open May, 2008, and we read regularly about a $500-per-day late penalty if the contract was not completed on time.

That was before all the problems and lawsuits.

Total financing — including design, engineering and construction — was $8,124,833. The Canada Ontario Infrastructure Program’s share was $4,356,230, Halton region’s $2,500,000, and Burlington Hydro’s $100,000, toward the wind turbine and power system, for a total $4,706,230 in grants from outside sources.

In August, 2008, during the first concrete pour, one of the main steel beams supporting the deck twisted. Two weeks later, a crane capsized onto the pier.

This was followed by blame games: The design was faulty; the contractor was at fault; the subcontractor was at fault.

The only ones who got rich since then were lawyers, as everyone sued everyone else. Zurich, the bonding company, would not pay, but this April made a proposal of some kind that council rejected. An update was provided at the last community services committee, but there has been so much “in camera” on this project that it’s hard to piece together the whole story, and the numbers.

The project is now different (smaller), more costly, and has four new consultants. New drawings are nearly complete for a revised pier, with a tender call scheduled for mid-July, closing mid-August, with the contract award late September. Completion would be the end of 2013.

Gone is the floating dock with the day slips. The report proposes ordering 12 new pier lights, because only nine of the original 12 had been received, (and may have been lost) and that design is no longer available, so can’t be matched. This raised the ire of Councillor Jack Dennison. Surely, he said, three new ones could be custom-made more cheaply than buying 12 new. Also unresolved is the design of 1.4-metre-high safety railings on the pier.

A short promenade extension (inadvertently omitted from the original contract) is included. Several extras will be quoted separately and, budget permitting, may be added. These include a promenade extension, a mini-ramp to the beach, and a small floating dock. Updated permits are required from Conservation Halton, Transport Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and federal department of fisheries and oceans. And now there’s talk of buying a water lot.

The additional funding of $5,798,000 needed brings the overall pier budget to $15,070,000. The report speaks of possible recoveries from the performance bond and other litigation. (In my lifetime?) Interestingly, unlike for other projects, staff time is not included, nor are legal costs. (Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will be asking for legal costs to be released publicly, following a recently released three-judge court decision ordering Waterloo to do so). Thank you for that Joan. Joan Little is a former Burlington alderman and Halton councillor.

Councillors are rightly concerned about the prequalification of contractors. This was done last time, and what, they asked, have you done since that will ensure better results? The reply was that prequalification had been “rather cursory” last time, and this time up to eight contractors would be rigorously checked.

Well, there are a number of things that are very different. This time the city got the technical help it needed to specify details and they now have a dispute resolution procedure that is sound and they pre-qualified each of the contractors and now know that whoever comes in with the best price is well qualified to do the job. So – things are different this time around.

But here is where the rubber begins to hit the road. What does the city do if the best price is higher than the amount the city has budgeted and higher than the cost of giving back the money we were given and demolishing the pier as it now stands ?

Possible, but the contractors can read without moving their lips and they know what the city is up against. We can expect that several of the contractors will come in under the budgeted number – and remember, if there are two bids that are just ten cents apart – the lower price gets the job. That’s what a tender is.

The city must accept the lowest bid. That is when the city Council and its administration will breath a very deep sigh of relief and begin listening to the sound of jack hammers coming from the sorry site that has plagued this city through tree administrations.

Council is doing the right thing. Councillor Dennison pointed out that if the city is to have any hope of recovering any of their costs related to the two lawsuits now before the Courts it has to complete the construction of the pier.

Dennison also pointed out that the city is not likely to recover all their losses but one can expect that at some point the lawyers on each side of this dispute will have looked at all the facts and realized that there is no benefit to anyone to take this case to a full trial and there will be a settlement.

Councillor Dennison correctly points out that any settlement is going to be for cents on the dollar – he suggested something between 20 cents and 75 cents – only time will reveal what that amount is. But unless there is a serious flaw in the city’s case – and that we don’t know because we have no idea what the lawyers are up to.

Councillor Lancaster said the public doesn’t have half the story about the pier.  She didn’t offer to say what the half we don’t know is about.  So much for transparency.

Councillor Lancaster said the public doesn’t have half the story about the pier. She didn’t offer to say what the half we don’t know is about. So much for transparency.

Councillor Lancaster said as much when she commented at Council that the “taxpayers don’t know half the story”. Her approach to municipal politics is that Council is there to make decisions based on the information they have and Lancaster doesn’t feel much of that information has to be shared with the public.

The lawyers for the design firm and the contractor the city is suing aren’t going to do anything to move the case along until the pier is under construction and they may choose to finagle and delay until the pier is actually built – but at some point the city will recover at least some of the money. We just have to be patient and stay the course. The city motto has it right when it says: “Stand By”

That doesn’t mean everyone isn’t going to sweat it a bit – but we have a Mayor with that sense of certitude that will carry the day and one cannot help but notice that, except for Meed Ward, who after all wants his job, the rest of the Council members are with the Mayor on this one. Councillor Craven said, and this is unusual for him: “I will continue to support the Mayor’s leadership”

We will know where we are by the end of August. And then we can relax and let the construction begin. Between now and then – everyone is holding their breath.

The Mayor, perhaps being more hopeful and in wishing mode, said we “have one more Sound of Music and one more Canada Day ahead of us and then we will have our Pier and be proud of what we have done.” And he might have added – you can then reelect me to a second term of office and, if that Pier does open in the summer of 2013, this Mayor and every Council member is a shoo in for re-election. But in the world of politics a week is a year and one never knows what will happen.

 

 

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Council member gets to see the wider municipal picture; doesn’t like what he sees and thinks it’s out of focus.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 4, 2011 – There are politicians and there are policy wonks. No one has to tell you what a politician is – a policy wonk is the kind of person who immerses themselves in documents that only a monk could really enjoy – but policy wonks are the exception to that rule. It is when you have a politician who is also a policy wonk – now that is a specimen and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is most certainly a policy wonk and is working at becoming a politician.

Every year the Federation of Canadian Municipalities gathers together somewhere in Canada early in the summer to trade notes, complain collectively and pronounce on the state of municipalities in Canada. The statements don’t differ all that much from year to year. The majority of the municipalities send a delegate to this event and, in true policy wonk fashion Sharman was the delegate for Burlington this year to the FCM conference in Halifax.

Paul Sharman Ward 5 Councillor works well with people who have a business background and the discipline exercised in the private sector.  Here he discusses an issue with Frank McKeown, the Mayors right hand man.

Paul Sharman Ward 5 Councillor works well with people who have a business background and the discipline exercised in the private sector. Here he discusses an issue with Frank McKeown, the Mayors right hand man.

Sharman, who has attended thousands of conferences more often than note as a speaker presenting a paper with a point of view – for those of you who know Paul Sharman – he has a point of view and is not in the least bit shy about letting you know what that point of view is.

But in talking about his trip to Halifax as a delegate to the FCM conference Sharman says he went in with an open mind – with no idea what was going to take place other than what he head on the agenda. Sharman is a management consultant by profession with a proclivity for numbers – he counts without using his fingers and if there is an error, he will spot it faster than Jack Dennison, who is usually seen as the “numbers” man on Council.

Sharman came away from the FCM conference “flabbergasted”. “Did you know”, he declares, “that municipalities get just 8% of the taxes collected yet have to deliver most of the services people expect from their government?”

When asked what he thought eh municipal tax take was – Sharman said he thought it was “somewhere in the 20% range”. That municipalities have to deliver such a wide range of services to their taxpayers and do so on so little was not just disturbing to Sharman but to thinking clearly a major problem to be addressed. We can expect comments at Council on this situation from Sharman

He didn’t have any answers and didn’t suggest how additional funds could be made available to municipal governments. It does have to be said that the province and to some degree the federal governments have in the past made substantial grants to the municipal sector. The federal Stimulus funds made available to municipalities during the 2008 recession that began to take hold in 2009 and to some degree is still with us today, helped Burlington get through the financial crisis – but one wonders if the funds given were put to the best possible uses. Municipalities had to move very quickly to come up with projects that were “shovel ready” in order to get the grants. Burlington was given a significant sum to rehabilitate the Freeman railway station but never managed to spend the money on that project because they could not decide on where the building should actually be located.

Paul Sharman can be very blunt and direct when he hears what he believes to be sloppy thinking.  More often than not he knows and understands the numbers behind an issue and demands that people understand the outcome they expect from the decisions they make.

Paul Sharman can be very blunt and direct when he hears what he believes to be sloppy thinking. More often than not he knows and understands the numbers behind an issue and demands that people understand the outcome they expect from the decisions they make.

For Sharman THE pressing issue in Burlington is transit and figuring out how the city can get the best possible value for the dollars it spends on the transit service. “We have too many busses going up and down streets with nowhere near enough people on the bus to make it pay,” Sharman will tell you. And he doesn’t believe the formula the city administration and the transit people are using to analyze the data they have is correct and that therefore the figures are all skewed and “out of whack”.

The city has entered into a Transit Master Plan agreement that will see some significant new ideas being brought to the table

Also on Sharman’s list of issues is the Strategic Plan and the way Burlington is going to develop it’s economy which he sees as two issues joined at the hip. Sharman is doing his usual “shake em up” routine at the Strategic Planning sessions that are close to having a document that can be taken to the public for comment.

Council has just begun to address what appears to be a surplus of employment lands and the need for additional land that can be used for housing developments. That debate will take place within the context of the Strategic Plan but the developers have already begun to line up with applications to redesignate land that is set aside for employment use and use it to build housing.

Sharman can be quite charming and gracious when he chooses to be – you just have to know what you’re talking about and have come to a meeting fully prepared.  If you  don’t – Sharman will be at you.

Sharman can be quite charming and gracious when he chooses to be – you just have to know what you’re talking about and have come to a meeting fully prepared. If you don’t – Sharman will be at you.

As Sharman sees it Burlington is in the enviable position of having more than enough land for employment purposes at a time when the amount of space industry will need it lessening and says “we are in a community where there can and will be significant population growth that will allow us to develop new high tech jobs and attract those intelligent young men and woman needed for those jobs.”

Sharman believes there is a magnificent opportunity for Burlington to create jobs that rely on intellectual property and he believes the health field is one of the opportunity areas for Burlington.

Sharman appears to be having the time of his life. Not bad for a guy who moves to Burlington, decides to run for Mayor with absolutely no political experience, realizes that he probably can’t win the Mayor’s job and so decides to run as Councillor in Ward 5 and beats a field of five candidates. Then goes on to become one of the most disruptive (in a positive sense) people on Council and send shivers throughout the administration.

Brash, direct, and exceptionally kind when he chooses to be Sharman tends to know what he is talking about. We have a less than 1% tax increase for 2011 because Paul Sharman made it happen.

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