Remember the Happy Gang? “We’re happy, we’re healthy – the heck with being wealthy.” Well we are certainly wealthy.

October 1, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It wasn’t hard to figure out what the major message was behind the 2013 version of Burlington’s Vital Signs report is: there are many in the community who just don’t have enough – and it isn’t just the “poor” people that are going without.

The Burlington Community Foundation, around since 1999, released, along with 26 other communities across  Canada, a report that touched all the usual bases and added in a significant push on the pressing needs for better access to mental health services.

The Vital Signs report is data driven and uses graphics very effectively to make the point.  The cartoon cover page is Burlington: there’s the gazebo (I met my wife for the first time there) there’s Pepperwoods, there is  Benny’s and the gas station.  The drawings are all in colour and attractive in their own way.  Cute – it isn’t until you get to the second page that the point is made.  Well – compare the two versions and you know in an instant what the report wants to talk about.

The report is the second published by the Community Foundation.  The 2013 report covers eleven key areas of focus, including physical and mental wellness, poverty, youth, and seniors.

 “This year’s report again emphasizes that Burlington is a city of contrasts. We are a prosperous community, with higher than average levels of income and education, with remarkable environmental features such as our escarpment and waterfront. Yet, there are people struggling in our community, in ways that are often unseen, as we drive and walk through our neighbourhoods”, said Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) President and CEO, Colleen Mulholland.

Who are the people that collect all the data and tie the different strands that are woven into the tapestry that is our city?

Established in 1999 as a centre for philanthropy, Burlington Community Foundation is a local knowledge broker and one of the most reliable partners in the non-profit sector. They collaborate with donors to build endowments, give grants and connect leadership. Responsive to their donors, the  grant making experts help people give, build legacies, address vital community needs and support areas of personal interest. The Foundation helps people, agencies and corporations improve the city’s vitality.

Cover: 2013 Vital Signs report commissioned by the Burlington Community Foundation.

Take away the good stuff, the nice stuff and the picture is that of a different Burlington – not one we all get to see.

The report argues that “connections are critical to community vitality” but how do you do that?  You’ve heard it before and with a municipal election just over a year away you will hear it again from every one of the rascals running for office: – Burlington is ranked as the top mid-sized city in which to live in Canada.

We drive – everywhere, in part because local transit has yet to develop to the point where it serves the community as well as it is going to have to. Biggest reason – we like our cars.

And we drive our cars – to everything.  79% of Ontarian’s commute to work by car, truck or van.  That number is 86% for Burlington where we have an excellent, frequent train service that has three stops in the city with plenty of parking – free. 

We vote – in the last federal election 66.5 of us voted while the  Ontario average was 61.5%.  Didn’t do much for us in terms of the quality of our elected members though did it?

We have one of the best educated populations in the province.

We are a well-educated community – check out the charts.

Burlington is doing better at both the number of people with jobs and the number that are unemployed.  But there are other indicators that reveal serious problems.

Our people are employed – they need to be – our housing is amongst the most expensive in the province and rental accommodation is not easy to come by.

Median household income levels are 24% higher in Burlington than the provincial average but according to Statistics Canada, almost 1 in 10 youth under 18 lived in a low-income household.

In 2012, 36% of all items circulated by Burlington public libraries were in the child or youth category. Attendance at children and youth programs at Burlington libraries was 35,195.

Overall, the age profile of Burlington is getting older and more so than the Ontario average – in 2011, there were 29,720 seniors 65 years of age or older living in Burlington, comprising 16.9% of the population vs. 14.6% in Ontario.

Young people in Burlington are preforming well in school compared to the Ontario average but there are some opportunities for improving the lives and outcomes for our youth, starting as early as kindergarten. Some issues we need to tackle  as a community are obesity, bullying and mental health.

Burlington residents are better educated than the population of Ontario and Canada. 67% of Burlington adults 25 years of age and over have completed some form of post-secondary education, compared with 60% of the population of Ontario.

Among Burlingtonians 25–64 years of age, 95% have completed high school – this is a big positive change in a 10 year period: in 2001, 79% had completed high school.

In 2011, there were 143,510 people 15 years of age or older in Burlington. Within this age range, 93,030 people were employed and 5,755 were unemployed for a total labour force of 98,785.

Burlington has stronger employment statistics than Ontario as a whole. The employment rate among people 15–64 years of age was 65%, compared to 60% for Ontario. Burlington’s unemployment rate was 6%, compared to 8% for Ontario.

For the past 10 years, the rate of unemployment in Burlington has been consistently lower than elsewhere in Ontario and in other communities across Canada.

Here are some quick facts about jobs and businesses in Burlington, according to the Halton Region 2012 Employment Survey, released in June 2013:

The City of Burlington has 4,638 businesses providing 74,216 full and part-time jobs.

While Burlington accounts for 35% of the 15–64 year olds living in Halton Region, jobs in Burlington accounted for nearly 40% of Halton’s total employment.

Approximately 80% of jobs were in the service-based sector – the leading ones  being  the  retail  trade, professional,  scientific  and  technical services, and health care and social assistance.

Can we blame the air quality problems on Hamilton?

Air quality good – but could be better

Burlington has good air quality, compared to downtown Hamilton. Hamilton has more poor to moderate air quality days (22%) than does Burlington (16%).

However, Burlington’s location in southern Ontario – in Canada’s manufacturing heartland and downwind from the industrial centre of the U.S.   – increases the number of poor to moderate air quality days relative to more northern parts of Ontario and cities in other parts of Canada. For example, in each of Sudbury and Ottawa only 8% of the days in 2012 had poor to moderate air quality compared to 16% in Burlington.

Price increases are great if you own property – tough market to get into for first time buyers.

The average price of a home in Burlington in the first half of 2013 was $486,669 – up 7% from 2012.

Similar increases were seen in the neighbouring cities of Hamilton (+6%) and Oakville (+7%), with Burlington housing costs continuing to be intermediate between these two cities

Burlington’s rental market is tight – far too tight. The city thought it had a hope recently with close to 100 affordable units coming on line – but that one got away on us.

People looking to rent – particularly those with more modest incomes – can find it difficult to find affordable rental housing in Burlington. In fall 2012, Burlington’s rental vacancy rate was 1.3%. For reference, a vacancy rate of 3% is considered necessary for adequate competition and supply. By comparison, Hamilton’s vacancy rate was 4.2%, and in Ontario as a whole it was 2.5%.

In 2011, Halton had a higher percentage of households (4.6%) on waiting lists for affordable, rent geared-to-income housing than was the case for Ontario as whole (3.2%). Further, the demand for this housing greatly exceeds the supply, as only 0.5% of Halton households were living in affordable, rent- geared-to-income housing in 2011.

In Halton, between 2010 and 2011 there was a 47% increase in households waiting for rent-geared-to-income housing. Families with children are the hardest hit.

The kids think they are getting the exercise they need – caution, this is “self-reported” data.

Residents of Halton are more likely to rate their overall health as “very good” or “excellent” (72%) compared with Ontario residents as a whole (61%).  Moreover, positive health ratings increased from 2011 (66%) to 2012 (72%).

Over 75,000 Burlington residents 18 years of age and older are overweight or obese based on their self-reported height and weight. That’s just over half of the adult population who have an increased risk of certain health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain cancers.

Mental health is now at least being talked about – it isn’t something we hide the way we used to – that was an improvement for the better.  Now we have to address the problem and it is not going to be cheap.

“Mental health concerns cut across all socioeconomic levels, all races, both genders and across all age groups in our culture. In fact, 70% of all mental health disorders experienced in adulthood have their onset before the age of 18.”  The Canadian Institute for Health Information tracks the performance of  over 600 health care facilities across Canada on a variety of indicators of effectiveness of treatment, patient safety, appropriateness of treatment, and accessibility. JBH is either at or better than the Canadian average on all of  the indicators.

Seniors need different services. The city currently has one Seniors’ Centre and at least five high schools. Will we need additional Seniors’ Centers that can be converted to high schools 30 years down the road? There are some significant problems to need solutions and we don’t have a lot of time to find the answers.

Canada’s age profile is getting older, and this trend will continue for several decades into the future. For example, the proportion of people 65+ years of age in Ontario is expected to grow from 14.6% of the population in 2011 to over 23% by the year 2036.

Burlington’s age profile has historically been older than that of Ontario as a whole, and the difference has been increasing over time. As of 2011, 16.9% of Burlington’s population was 65 years of age or older, compared to 14.6% of Ontario’s population.

Burlington has more of the Region’s senior population – do we have well thought out plans to meet their needs?

Based on Statistics Canada measures of low-income from the 2006 census, 5.6% of Burlington seniors have low-income after tax. However, the prevalence of low-income is particularly acute among female seniors in Burlington: this prevalence is higher than the Ontario average, and higher than other Halton region communities.

In 2006, about 1,800 senior households in Burlington spent 30% or more of their total household income before tax on mortgages, electricity, heat and municipal services. Of these, almost 500 spent 50% or more of their income on housing, which leaves very little money for food, medications, or other necessities.

In the Age-Friendly Communities Forum: A Seniors’ Perspective – an initiative of the Elder Services Advisory Council In Halton Region – the Burlington participants identified a need for affordable housing as one of the top 3  issues for seniors in Burlington, and noted that “some people are moving out of the community as they cannot afford to live here.”

We love the place.

Burlington residents tend to see the quality of life in the city as improving: 27% said the quality of life in Burlington has improved over the past two years, compared to only 11% who said it has declined.

Survey respondents were asked which factors had the greatest impact on quality of life in their city. What set Burlington residents apart particularly was the importance of a low crime rate, and a strong sense of community.

In a survey of Burlington residents, 76% said culture is “essential” or “highly important” in their daily lives. There are many types of cultural experiences. For Burlington residents, the top 6 are festivals (86%), museum & local history (81%), art galleries (78%), going to the theatre (75%), public art (69%) and family heritage & traditions (69%).

Benefits to Burlington from community cultural organizations include:

624,000+ visits to local festivals, events, productions and exhibitions

89,000+ hours of cultural programming offered to all ages

Burlington residents spend 37% of their cultural time in Burlington, and the remaining time in other cities such as Toronto and Hamilton.

These numbers are the reality for many.  A person cannot live on the minimum wage – it has to be close to doubled – and that’s not something a municipality can do.

Ontario has a legally mandated minimum wage of $10.25 an hour. However, a person working full-time at the minimum wage rate will be living in poverty, as they will earn less than Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-off.

The concept of a “living wage” is motivated by the following question: What does a family working full-time (37.5 hours a week, year-round) need to earn in order to pay for the necessities of life, to enjoy a decent quality of life, and to be able to participate fully in the economic, political, social and cultural life of the community?

 The answer to this question depends on family composition and on where you live. Community Development Halton has tackled this question for the Halton Region, including Burlington.

What is included in a living wage, and what is excluded? “A living wage isn’t extravagant. It doesn’t allow families to save for retirement, to save for  their children’s education or to service their debt. But it does reflect the cost of affording the basics of life – something the minimum wage doesn’t do,” states the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Community Development Halton considered three types of Halton households: a family of 4 (two parents, two children – a boy age 10, and a girl age 14), a single-parent family (mother age 30 and a boy age 3), and a single person (male age 32). In each household, each adult is working full- time,  year-round.  The  calculation  of  living  wage  reflects  the  typical  costs  in Halton, as well as taxes and benefits.

The number of youth have grown since 2006 but the senior population has grown more.

The number of youth in Burlington has increased since 2006, but at a slower rate than older age groups. As a result, the overall age profile of Burlington is getting older.

Burlington is an affluent community, but not everyone is well off. In the 2006 census, 7% of all residents lived in low income households. However, this was greater for youth under 18, where 9% – almost one in 10 youth – lived in a low income household.

This is what students have said they did in terms of getting the physical education they need for balanced growth.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, youth 12–17 years of age require at least 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per day.

In the Halton Youth Survey, two–thirds of Burlington Grade 7s claimed to meet the 60-minute-per-day guideline, but only just over half of Grade 10s claimed to meet the guideline.

Girls in the Halton region were much less likely than boys to report meeting the physical activity guideline, with only four in ten Grade 10 girls meeting the guideline.

This is not a healthy number.  Why in a community where genuine financial need is not pervasive?

The Halton Youth Survey, conducted by the Halton Our Kids Network, developed an indicator of involvement in criminal activity based on four self- report questions asking about vandalism, carrying a weapon, selling drugs, and group or gang involvement, and these define what is meant here by “criminal activity”. Note that because this is based on self-report, it includes not only youth accused of crime but also youth who “got away with it”.

Our girls are at very serious risk: do we understand why and do we have programs to help them deal with the depression they are experiencing?

One in five people in Ontario experiences a mental health problem or  illness. Because mental illness can affect people in all walks of life, this is as important an issue in comparatively affluent communities like Burlington as it is in other less affluent communities. When you take into account family members and friends, almost everyone is affected in some way.

The childhood, teen and young adult years are a critical period for the onset of mental health problems. The number experiencing mental illness peaks at over one in four young people during the teen years and among people in their 20s.

Mental illness affects people at all life-stages. However, one of the most significant characteristics of the onset of mental health problems is that, unlike many other illnesses, they are more likely to first emerge and affect people early in their lives.

According to a Mental Health Commission of Canada report, the potential negative effects of mental illness on the lives and prospects of young people are considerable:

“Mental disorders are the most common medical conditions causing disability in young people. Most mental disorders begin before age twenty- five and tend to be chronic, with substantial negative short and long-term outcomes. They are associated with poor academic and occupational success, economic  burden,  personal,  interpersonal  and  family  difficulties,  increased risk for many physical illnesses and shorter life expectancy.”

Early detection and treatment of mental health problems is vital for the young people in our community and for the future health of our city.

 “Recent research in areas like diagnostic imaging and immunology point increasingly to the biological nature of mental health disorders. In other words, mental health disorders are truly health disorders similar to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc.”  Access to youth mental health services is not what it needs to be

Only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them.

71% of family physicians ranked access to psychiatrists in Ontario as fair to poor.

While mental illnesses constitute more than 15% of the burden of disease in Canada, these illnesses receive only 5.5% of health care dollars.

ROCK reports that due to mental health funding gaps, as of March 2013, youth and families were waiting for just over 1,000 various services they offer. Wait times for these services range from months up to 2 years.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in Canada. One of the most important causes of youth suicide is mental illness – most often depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.

The effects of youth suicide go beyond the deceased, impacting those who survive their death – their parents, friends, peers, and communities.

Do our students feel their schools are safe?

A survey conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that in response to the question, “In the last 12 months, did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide?”, 7% of Ontario Grade 7s and 12% of Grade 12s answered “yes.”

The Halton Youth Survey asked a somewhat different version of the question, focusing on teens who “sometimes, often or always” had thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months. While the question is somewhat different the results are similar: one in twenty (5%) Grade 7s in Burlington had thoughts about suicide in the past 12 months, increasing to over one in ten (13%) by Grade 10.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense negative emotions and feelings, that negatively impact on people’s lives leading to social, educational,  personal  and  family  difficulties.

The Halton Youth Survey created an indicator of being at risk for depression, based on a person saying they “always” or “often” had experienced the following four emotional states in the past week: feeling sad, lonely, depressed, or like crying.

 The percentage of Burlington students at risk for depression increases from Grade 7 to Grade 10, and by Grade 10, one in 10 teens are at risk for depression.

This increase in risk for depression from Grade 7 to Grade 10 is occurring primarily among girls. By Grade 10, one in seven girls is at risk for depression.

In the qualitative research project, Halton Youth Voice Road Show (2011), participants suggested the following causes for depression in youth:

Being bullied, which was seen to lead not only to depression but also suicide

Different social groups within a school bullying one another

The fact that sometimes youth were just mean to each other

Technology, since youth don’t actually need to connect to each other on a personal level any more

Images and expectations portrayed in the media

The pursuit of material possessions, with participants saying that it would be better if youth just spent time hanging out instead of shopping


Not having friends

Being pressured to do drugs

 Youth mental health trends at Joseph Brant Hospital

Trips to the hospital emergency department because of a mental health issue represent the tip of the iceberg for youth mental health and substance abuse issues in Burlington. Emergency department visits can occur when mental health or substance abuse issues are undiagnosed, or are untreated, or treatment is not working. Youth visits to the JBH emergency department because of mental health or substance abuse problems show:

Emergency department visits for mental health or substance abuse issues spikes upwards for youth 18–24 years of age.

The annual number of youth under 25 years of age going to JBH emergency because of mental health or substance abuse issues has increased 30% over the last 3 years.

The rate of increase has been even higher among the subset of youth under 18 years of age – showing an increase in emergency visits of 43% over the past 3 years.

JBH operates the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation Clinic, which provides support to children/youth under the age of 18 years. The case load for the Clinic increased by 16% from 2010–11 to 2011–12, and the average wait time for assessment increased by 31%, to 47 days.

The Community Foundation serves us all well – now the community has to look at the data, talk about it and figure out where we can shore up the weak spots and ensure that we continue to do what we have done well.

Collen Mulholland plans to hold a Roundtable on Mental Health early in 2014.  How about ensuring that every grade 10 student in the Board of Education’s high schools be given a copy and make it the focus of a civics class.

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Parts of King Road closed for 8 weeks while last phase of grade separation is done; fish are using the aqueduct built for them.

September 30th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   Santa Claus just might be able to get to some of the homes in Aldershot if he wants to use the King Road grade separation.  The tunnel underneath the railway tracks was pushed through last thanksgiving – a task that was seen as a major engineering feat when it was done.  Getting a creek re-routed and set up so that it would run over the underpass – as an aqueduct – is now operational.  All that’s left to get done is for the road underneath the railway tracks to be built and King Road re-aligned.  THAT is going to take eight weeks.  

That road, King Road, to the right of the tunnel will soon be gone forever and you will actually be able to drive beneath those railway tracks.

The grade separation project is in what city hall calls the final phase that will see total completion anticipated for June 2014

What the city calls the FINAL road closure starts October 15th at 10am, lasting for 8 weeks, to facilitate the move of the road through the underpass. The October road closure will have pedestrian access maintained. At the completion of the road closure you will be able to drive under the railway tracks.  Expect to see every politician in the Region and perhaps even the Premier, who seems to like Burlington, either peddling bicycles under the railway tracks in a flotilla of convertible cars driving through the newly paved road.  And I suppose the Burlington Teen Tour Band will be out with the flags flying.

The project seems to be talking forever – heck they shut down the rail line LAST Thanksgiving and dug the tunnel under the railway line in three days – so someone knew what a day’s work was.

It was a mammoth project, seen as a major engineering feat by many and the core work got done over a three day weekend almost a year ago. Progress has been slow since then – expected to open before Christmas.

The reconstruction of King Road from Plains Road to south of Highway 403 has also been completed, with the exception of the road at the tracks, which will be relocated to the underpass during the October road closure.

The opening up of the King Road underpass has the potential to draw significant commercial development.  King Road before the work on the underpass began.

The North section is now paved with traffic markings, and has had sidewalks and curbs installed. The creek is now flowing through the channel and over the creek bridge.

The overall scope of work to construct the road through the underpass is to add the asphalt and granular road bases and place concrete curb & gutter and sidewalks within the roadway underpass.

FULL road closures will be in place from October 15, for 8 weeks.  King Road will signed as closed, local access for businesses and residents will be maintained. This closure is intended to reduce through traffic.

Access to home and business during normal construction hours (Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) may at times be difficult.  Additionally, driveways will be temporarily closed when work is being carried out in the immediate vicinity. Either the inspector or the contractor will notify you of access interruptions prior to the closure.

For day-to-day construction inquiries: Jason Forde at 905-335-7600 ext. 7421

When the work is completed will the city see the development of new business opportunities on the northern part of King Road where there is a considerable amount of prime commercial land on the west side?

Will there be some additions to the commercial business on King Road south of the railway crossing?  The whole purpose of the grade separation was to limit the number of times traffic was halted due to rail traffic.  The GO train increase in their schedule to half hour service would have made it all but impossible to rely on that Road for transportation to the numerous businesses north of the rail crossing.

Aldershot now has a road with no stoppage due to rail traffic.  Will that result in business development?  The city could certainly use the tax revenue that comes from the commercial sector.

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Transparency and the free flow of information, searching for what you want at city hall: why is the search box gone?

September 30, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Where is the search tool on the city’s web site?

There are loads of data at city hall but if you don’t know exactly what it is you are looking for you could be out of luck.  There used to be a search box you could type words into and various documents would come up.  It wasn’t a particularly fine tune search tool but it did at least let you get in and rummage around

Can you see a search box on the HOME page of the city’s web site? There used to be one. What happened?

That search feature wasn’t in place early on the morning of September 30, 2013.

Did someone lose it or is the upgrade of the way the city is going to provide information at the point where it got taken out for a short period of time?

Or has the city decided to take away that feature?

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“Nightswimming” – first title for Cedar Springs resident: Quiet, deep, touching language.

September 28, 2013

Nightswimming by Janet Turpin Myers.

Reviewed by Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  In Ontario summer activity for those who are able to get away for the weekends falls into one of two clearly defined groups – the campers and the cottagers.

Janet Turpin Myers, a Cedar Springs resident , writes about being a cottage goer in the Muskoka’ s – Penn Lake to be specific, in her first novel, “Nightswimming”.  It is the story of vivid, delicate, life forming, first adolescent love.

Turpin writes of love on several levels; two sisters who loved the same man that they lost to a war, then of two friends loving the same tanned lithe young boy during that period of time when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

Innocence pervades each page. Readers see themselves on those pages as Myers weaves pieces of history into her novel and displays a delightful skill with phrases that work right to the heart of the thought she wants to share.

She captures Saturday morning in downtown Huntsville where the locals and the cottagers jockey for possession of the supermarket and takes readers right into those weenie nights they had then for the kids who swam all day and read Archie comics at night.

Not a word about drugs but a painful view of a mother who lost her husband in Vietnam and could not manage the pain without whatever painkiller she could find, sometime wrapped in a cigarette paper other times in a bottle.

“There is something precious about Canadian summers.  This is because they are slender and stream through cracks in the cold rock of the Canadian Shield like melted gold.”  As we experience the end of this past summer and reflect on that sentence – Myers just about got it right – didn’t she?

Myers has the three prime characters, now teenagers, “erupting out of the peaceable plains of childhood into the rift valleys of adolescence.” Add in twin sisters who seem to be part of the landscape and live in the Muskokas where they “sit on a bench in front of the IGA store, smoke Black Cat cigarettes and criticize Torontonians” with the smug superiority that only locals can have for the interlopers that come up each summer.

And Sheldon, whose body had the shape of a triangle with “a trickle of soft hairs that led downward from his belly button.”  Sandra, the book’s narrator “tried not to stare”  He, with the “pudding eyes of a long lost boy”, who the narrator believes is “dreaming on another girl”.

It is a summer time story by a lake where the dock is the community square; where swimming and early teen dreams as the narrator tells of a  “memory that swims up the spine carried on an undercurrent that slips through Penn Lake, around my heart, through my voice but is silent by singing as I relive Sheldon catching me in his arms.  I let the memory rest there, behind my eyes, which are giving thanks for the darkness that is concealing the secret of what Sheldon and I are doing beneath the water’s surface.”

The books shared light, memory soaked language that serves as a guide through experiences we’ve all had; experiences that call back those summer evenings, with sunsets that belong on postcards.

Pearl, the ‘best friend’ with the troubled mother who, unable to contain the loss of a husband, parades nude in a public place while a child pleads “Mom” and with that one word was saying everything she could. “The mother’s in the crowd understood, you could tell by their faces.  They were hearing Pearl’s heart, it was making the sound that comes when you have no power.”

Myers tells a story that evokes feelings and recalls in us experiences we had forgotten; of the way relationships change, when the “white is separated from the yolk.”  And when the boy interest is not seen the same way through the eyes of the different girls who were on the way to becoming women. 

Pearl tells our narrator, “Sandy Bear” “that all of a sudden he rolls on his side, and brings his cute adorable little face close in and then he stops, STOPS, and I’m thinking, come on, come on, do it, pretty please, but I don’t want to make a mistake, so I vibe him, yes with my mind, and he does it.”

The white lies, the fibs “..I’ve pitched a few, that particular one was  genius. Back then a boy who smoked was considered a little bit bad but a boy who smoked menthols was clearly unpredictable.  And a Volkswagen van, especially with a pop-top meant one thing. Shaggin wagon.”

Summers end, that dock, if picked up and shaken like an old mat, would drop a million memories that would flutter from it like dust.”

Sandy Bear leaves Penn Lake, “lugging a load far heavier than the usual comic books and flip flops.”  “I was dragging the contact light of Sheldon’s cheek beneath the water, so much like the feel of his arms around me when we were nightswimming; and something else as well…”

“A picture of those Sheldon eyes: beloved, unmoving afraid.”

Nightswimmers is a small book, the first to be published by Myers.  If it is even a hint of what is to come the name Janet Turpin Myers is one to remember and to watch for her next book.  Published by one of the small publishers in this country it is worth more than just a read; it is worth sharing.

“Nightswimming” by Janet Turpin Myers

Published by Seraphin Editions, Woodstock, Ontario.


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Torontonian arrested in Burlington for human trafficking and procuring for the purposes of prostitution.

September 27, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Halton Regional Police responded to an assault call at a Motel in the City of Burlington where a female victim reported to police that she had been assaulted by a Brondon Curtis HENRY (28 years of age). The victim suffered minor injuries to her face, for which she received medical treatment.

 Further investigation revealed that HENRY had been forcing the victim to provide sexual services (prostitution) for which he was financially benefiting.

Brandon Curtis HENRY a Toronto resident has been charged with the following criminal offences:

Assault (two counts)

Human Trafficking

Benefiting From Trafficking a Person

Exploitation For The Purpose of Trafficking a Person

Procuring To Become a Prostitute

HENRY was held for a bail hearing and will appear in court on September 28th 2013 in the City of Hamilton.


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Thursday was not a good day for Beachway Park residents. Major battle ahead keeping homes in the park.

September 27th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Thursday was not a good day for the residents in the Beachway Park.  The Regions Waterfront Beachway Park Advisory Committee that is made up of regional Councillors and citizens met and supported a decision to buy up every house they can and demolish them for park space. If there was an upside to their decision it was that any buying would be done on a willing buyer, willing seller basis – which means no expropriation.

The Regional Advisory Committee is reported to have vote 9-3 for the recommendations with Councillor Sharman one of the three that voted against the recommendation.  The two Burlington citizen members of the Advisory Committee are not identified on the Region’s web site.  Councillor Craven voted for the recommendation.

The recommendation was for the Advisory Committee to support the long-term strategic vision for the acquisition of all private property in the park.

The difficulty with this recommendation is that when Burlington was debating this issue it couldn’t find any record of a long-term vision.  There were certainly studies in the files, some that go back as far as the mid 80’s but nothing in the way of a policy statement saying all the homes were to be bought should they become available.

A Regional Comprehensive Report identified two clusters of homes in the Beachway Park – some want every one of them bull-dozed into the ground and make available for parking spaces.  The housing clusters in place now are shown in red.

While the report from the Advisory is just a recommendation it is nevertheless significant.  Many feel it is an indication of the direction the Regional Council is likely to go when it comes to a final decision.

The Advisory recommendation will go to the Regional Committee that handles this file.  They will vote on the matter and send their decision along to Regional Council where a final decision gets made.

Recently Conservation Halton, which is responsible for the environmental aspects of the park chose not to recommend that any land be bought.  While the decision at Conservation Halton was a tie vote – and therefore is seen as lost.

The Region’s Planning Department recently published a Comprehensive Report which didn’t get much in the way of positive reaction from anyone in Burlington and was seen as a somewhat biased document that chose to highlight issues the Region saw as important but ignore for the most part the local issues and the value of community in a park setting.

The Region’s report covered flooding issues in a way that was significantly different from the recollection of people who lived in the Beachway when the flooding took place.  Houses were said to be at significant risk while the water sewage treatment plant which has floors beneath the land surface was not said to be at risk.

Quite why some level of government did not ask that the report be retracted was a surprise to some people.

Gary Scobie, far right, was a member of the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee which was sunset by the city last December. Scobie went on to sit on the Ad Hoc Waterfront Committee.

Gary Scobie, A Burlington resident, chose to delegate at the Advisory meeting – the only person to do so, said: “You have heard from us before and I believe you know that we support the continued existence and enhancement of the Burlington Beach residential community.  We do this because we’ve studied the issue, as citizens from each ward with no financial ties to the beach area, and weighed the costs to buy out and destroy a historic community against the benefit of gaining a small amount of land to be added to the park.”

Scobie continued: “We find the case for community destruction wanting, especially because the community poses no harm to the public use of the park beach, shoreline habitat or walking path.  In fact, we see the residents as unpaid custodians of the park, looking after people who need help and watching out for vandalism.  Our survey completed by nearly 450 Burlington residents from all wards.”

Scobie who is a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee, an Ad Hoc group that was formed when Burlington’s city council sunset the Advisory Committee it had.

The residents are very vocal – they think the Burlington policy is a serious mistake. They somehow have to get their voice heard at the Regional level – with the voice from the city is pretty weak.

The residents with homes in Beachway Park have a fight on their hands and they are going to have to lobby hard to get their argument in front of the members of Regional Council.  It is not an impossible task and it would certainly help if the support from their city council were a little stronger.

The family in this home does not expect to be a willing seller to anyone. The city and the Region, especially the current city Councillor for the ward thinks the city and the Region can just wait them out. Lousy way to run a city.

The real hope for the community is that any property sold is to be on a willing buyer, willing seller basis, and all the residents have to do is just not sell.

There has been some chatter amongst Beachway residents about a possible class action law suit against the city and the Region for the damages suffered by the property owners over the loses they have incurred due to municipal and regional government policies that artificially depressed property prices.

Wouldn’t that be a cock fight?

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There is networking and then there is networking. Have you ever met a networking diva? October 10TH 5:00 PM Write it down.

September 27, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It’s all about networking , ya gotta get out there and network; show the flag, press some flesh – let them know that you’re in the game and you’ve got things, stuff and ideas that will make their business a couple of cuts above the others.  Right?

Networking at its very best in the nicest venue in town.

That’s the current folk-lore and there are some people who really do this well.  When you meet them at an event you remember them because of the way they tell their story.  There are those sad sacks that show up looking a little worse for wear and tell you they forgot their business cards but if you know someone looking for a good collection agent – would you pass their name along?

James Burchill with one of his regular networkers.

Then there are those sharp young things that drive up in an SUV, glance in the mirror and fluff their hair, put on a fresh coat of lipstick and wiggle out of their jeans and into a very stylish skirt, arrange a bright scarf around their neck, check the blouse button levels and walk into the place where the hounds are hanging out – and they make it happen.  They’re not on the make – they’re networking and they make the contacts and they follow-up.

Monthly networking event is held at the Ivy Bar and Kitchen.

A business card will get the conversation started but it’s sometimes difficult to tell your story with just a business card.  James Burchill runs a MeetUp in Burlington every month.  He started out at the Beaver and the Bullfrog, outgrew that venue and is now  at the Ivy Bar and Kitchen where he hosts a couple of hundred people the third Wednesday of the month.  He has an email set up where he gets the word out and consists of a list of who has said they will attend.  If there is someone you want to meet – you’ll know if they plan to attend. You can check this out  

Burchill took the event he hosts a couple of steps further and rents out the smartest space in town – the Family Room at the Performing Arts Centre where he can bring together pretty close to 800 people without feeling packed in.  That’s a networking event.

The “value added” as Burchill likes to put it, is he space people can rent to set up tables and display what they have to offer.  Jamie Buisman, a local photographer, sets up her camera and does some work right on the spot; pretty good way to find out if the fit and feel is right with a photographer.

Ivy Bar and Kitchen set out a couple of tables with nibbles to satisfy that peckish feeling.  Neat way to get an idea what they have to offer.

You can get a table for a couple of hundred bucks – say $350 all in.  With 500 people showing up that 500  impressions which works out to a little over 60 cents an impression – not a lot more than a fancy business card.  That is getting value for those marketing dollars.  Some of the smaller operations have taken to sharing a table.

 In the advertising world the line goes that half of the advertising you run works for you – the trick is to figure out which half.  At the Social Fusion Networking Group every dollar works.  Burchill by the ways runs these events in a number of communities – so if there is some other part of the province that interests you – chat him up.

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Police report “minor injury” on male found on Walkers Line was “sustained during a medical event”. Case closed?

September 27, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  There is nothing faster or more substantive than social media or a news source that uses the internet.

The Burlington Gazette picked up a news release from Halton Regional Police that reported a man found on Walkers Line who appeared to be seriously disoriented and injured.  The individual was taken to Joseph Brant Hospital.

Are these the kind of injury that result from minor medical event?

A photograph was provided which we published.  The news story was added to our Facebook page – and then it just took off. Thousand of people saw the news  story and passed it on.

By mid afternoon the police had identified the individual and reported their “investigation revealed he sustained minor injury during a medical event and there is no foul play suspected.”  The name of the victim was not being released. 

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What happens when you cross breed twitter with stealth? A better investment opportunity? Time will tell.

September 27, 2013

By James Burchill

BURLINGTON, ON.   There has been a lot of talk about the “stealthy” initial public offering (IPO) that Twitter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A lot of the buzz is that this is somehow a “circumvent” of the otherwise open system used for filing to be publicly traded in America. Most of those reports can be discounted with one simple fact: “stealth” initial filings for an IPO are legal, though new, they have a real purpose.

The ultimate press release – and it didn’t cost them a dime. Talk about the power of social media!

When a company filed an IPO before the new rules took effect this month, that company had to fully and publicly disclose all of its filing paperwork. This meant that the press, potential investors, and the company’s competition now had access to information that may have been proprietary, was almost assuredly preliminary, and that was subject to change as negotiations with regulators commenced before the actual IPO launched. This process often takes months.

Under the new rules, the filings with the SEC, up until paperwork is finalized, can be kept confidential and not be publicly disclosed. This means months of disclosure is lost, but it also means that the initial stumbles, mis-interpretations, and months of being wide open to the competition are no longer there.

During the draft stage of the IPO prospectus, under the new rules at the SEC, this information is kept private so that the company can continue to operate normally and with the secrets it might hold from its competitors intact. This change came with the JOBS Act that was signed into law as part of the overall economic boost efforts being made by Washington, D.C. for the U.S.

This is when the public loves the stock market. But remember Bre-X Mining, it is not always gold in what you think you see.

Twitter is using this provision with its IPO to shield it from unwanted scrutiny during the initial phases of the S-1 filing. It’s smart to do so. Companies like Facebook, Google and others would love to see how the financials within Twitter, as well as their future plans for boosting revenue, are being implemented. Under the old system, this would have given them several months in which they could craft competing options or even usurp Twitter’s plans altogether by offering something better, sooner thanks to that foreknowledge.

Now, they won’t know that information until Twitter wants them to, or is ready to go public.  Their time window will be far smaller at that point and so they’ll be less likely to be capable of acting on the information gleaned.

This provision also gives companies like Twitter, who may not be sure about the timing for an IPO, the opportunity to delay or even cancel going public until it’s ripe and to do so without losing face or looking weak.

Should Tweet go public – will this be another one of the Apple public issues that goes bananas?

Chances are, Twitter is serious about going public and plans to follow through with this IPO, but in the information technology field, especially social media right now, every moment is a chance to win or lose at the game. Things change almost daily, so keeping information close to your vest is an important part of the game.

As it is, when the information is made public, there is still a three week window (or so) before the IPO actually happens and investors can start offering money for shares of Twitter.

Overall, this new idea is a good one and will make companies in the U.S. more likely to use the process of going public through an IPO sooner instead of later. That’s good for the economy overall, even here in Canada.

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Who is this man and what happened to him? Police asking for help to identify injured male. See update

September 27, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  At approximately 10:10 pm Thursday, September 26th, 2013, Halton Regional Police received several calls of a man stumbling up Walkers Line in the area of Upper Middle Road. 

Found disoriented on Walkers Line close to Upper Middle Road

Police and Halton paramedics responded and located a man who was extremely disoriented, had suffered an apparent head injury and was unable to identify himself to police.  The man was taken to the Joseph Brant Hospital, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition.

 Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this man.  He is described as a white male, approximately 30-36 years of age, 6’7″ tall, with short brown hair and blue eyes.  He had several days growth of facial hair and has no tattoos or surgical scars.  He was wearing a black Nike shirt with long sleeves, blue jeans with a belt, black socks and no shoes. 

Persons with information related to this man are asked to call the Halton Regional Police Service in Burlington at 905-825-4777, extension 2310 or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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Hard, dogged work by a local history buff results in plaque to mark a major War of 1812-14 event played out on Burlington’s waterfront.

September 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  If there was ever an example of one man making a difference – look no further than Rick Wilson, a Burlington resident and a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee as well as a serious history buff.

This federal government plaque, erected at Burlington Heights, overlooking Burlington Bay, got it wrong and Rick Wilson wants it changed and the public record corrected.

Wilson works in the field of finance but his passion is history and when he came across what he believed to be a significant error in the way local history was being told he mobilized and did he best to right the wrong.

Those efforts will bear fruit on Saturday morning when the city unveils a plaque that tells the full and true story of an event that has come to be known as the Burlington Races, which sounds like a sporting event but there was nothing sporting about the battles between the British and the Americans on Lake

Rick Wilson isn’t certain as to exactly where Commodore Yeo  situated his ship but he believes it might have been close to the foot of Brant Street. That location would certainly have given the British ships the angle and the advantage they needed to defeat the American ships and force them further west along the Lake.

Ontario, right in front of Spencer Smith Park.

The battle that will be commemorated with the plaque took place on September 28, 1813 when six-ship British flotilla out-manoeuvred a fleet of ten   American warships and took  anchor in a highly defensible position off the shore of modern-day Burlington.  The battle was described by eye witnesses as a sort of military yacht race where the British and Americans jockeyed for superior position – hence The Burlington Races.

 The battle was a turning point in the War of 1812 as the British asserted naval dominance over the Great Lakes.

Commodore Yeo’s ships never entered Burlington Bay.  Records prove that the water was far too shallow of any ship to enter to Bay.  The real victory for Rick Wilson will be when this plaque in Hamilton is taken down and a correct plaque put in place.  For the time being the plaque in Burlington will be the one to tell the true story.

 “I believe it is important to celebrate Burlington’s rich history,” says Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Our city was a strategic location during the War of 1812. The Burlington area was known as a safe haven, a place of trade, a crossroads, and a resting point. Contributions by local citizens and volunteers were important and we are proud to acknowledge their efforts with this plaque.”

The plaque unveiling takes place near the west compass in Spencer Smith Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 – 200 years to the day of the battle – and will feature an on-shore celebration of re-enactors in period costume.

It is rather unfortunate that city hall could not find it within themselves to recognize Wilson’s efforts.  For the past three years, perhaps more Wilson has bent the ear of anyone who would listen to explain where the historians got it wrong.  If anyone pulls a velvet cord to reveal the plaque that tells a magnificent story – it should be Rick Wilson.

The wording on the plaque will read as follows:

 After a United States naval victory on Lake Erie by Commodore Perry on September 10, 1813, a powerful American fleet of ten ships under Commodore Isaac Chauncey appeared off York (Toronto) on the morning of September 28, 1813. Its objective was to gain control of the Great Lakes or at least create enough of a diversion to allow American troops from the Niagara frontier to slip down the St. Lawrence River to attack Montreal.

 A smaller British fleet of six warships under Commodore Sir James Yeo was in the harbour and quickly set sail to attack. In a sharp engagement the British flagship, HMS Wolfe, suffered sail and mast damage. With limited manoeuvrability, the Wolfe led the British flotilla to safe anchorage in view from the shore of present-day Burlington.

 Yeo anchored his squadron with springs (heavy ropes) on the (anchor) cables, close to shore and pivoted his ships to present powerful broadsides from a strong compact defensive unit that could not be flanked. The Americans recognized the stronger British position and withdrew to the protection of Fort Niagara, leaving the Royal Navy firmly in control of the lake.

By out-manoeuvring the Americans that day, Yeo saved the fleet and preserved a formidable British presence on Lake Ontario – key to the defences of Upper and Lower Canada.

 Eventually, Yeo’s fleet helped capture Fort Oswego in May 1814 and also delivered General Drummond with 400 British reinforcements and supplies to the Niagara frontier in July 1814 to defeat the Americans at Lundy’s Lane, the last invasion of Canada.

At this point we don’t know where Rick Wilson will be in the civic ceremony – but we certainly know where he should be.

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Do you put your best foot forward when you can and should be putting your best food forward?

September 24, 2013

By Dr. Jeremy Hayman

BURLINGTON, ON.  So we all strive to put our best foot forward in raising our children to live the best lives possible, correct? No problem; give them a stable home-life, welcoming and supportive social environment, love, nurturing, guidance, opportunity, compassion and understanding, a balanced active lifestyle and good food. Done, it’s as easy as that. We raise our children the best way we see fit. They grow up happy and healthy, flourish and succeed in life. The next successful generation begins. Agreed?

Is this child’s mood the result of a problem at school or due to the food that he was fed?

Well… let’s see you say that while looking me straight in the eyes and without your fingers crossed behind your back. A simple endeavor, maybe for an outsider looking in at the delicate balancing act of being a parent, but as a parent, it’s often a different story. So where do we begin as well-intentioned parents wanting to provide “the best” for our children from day one? Well, a little of each, if possible, but even that vision can sometimes fall short and derail. It’s not by choice or from lack of trying, but it’s often due to the simple fact of life and its multitude of impressions constantly being offered up to our children.  

And we certainly can’t forget about children themselves, they too have a mind and vision of their own! So, short of equipping our children with everything they need in life in order to be healthy and live happily, it seems like there’s quite a division of extremes in fulfilling what we need to do as parents, and to not blame ourselves or point fingers at others in the end. So if you’re not a perfect parent, don’t strive to be one, realize there is no such thing, and still can’t quite seem to fill in the missing pieces, then putting your best “food” forward and feeding your children then, properly, may be  a good place to start.

What is this parent dealing with?  An adolescent going through a stage or a child that didn’t eat properly?erft

Would you believe it if you were told a bag of candy each night may be the reason your child “decides” not to fall asleep for three or more hours after putting him or her to bed? How about feeding your child a bowl of marshmallows before sending them off to school with no food in sight remaining, only to find out from the teacher that he or she “just doesn’t seem to be listening, cooperating, or focusing throughout the day”? How about being told that feeding your child an overwhelming amount of “midway” “grub” may have been a strong contributing factor to him or her getting sick while on that high velocity amusement park ride? The list goes on.

Well, we believe ourselves when we remain rigid on not feeding our kids too much red meat due to the risk of causing high cholesterol and cardiovascular concerns (which, by the way, I utterly disagree with, so stay tuned for an upcoming perspective on that!). What about that “the tryptophan in the turkey is what put us all to sleep”, or that “the one small piece of raw broccoli must have been what put my child’s digestive system over the edge with that horrible and gassy stomach ache” (of course it wasn’t the other processed food or drink they’re fed on a day-to-day basis…of course not that!). So why is it that we often “believe” to a default that healthy food that affects our children and causes them “strife”, but the unhealthy food we fill our children’s diets with have no effect on them at all? It’s a social and culturally embedded oversight, that I realize, but what we all need to accept is that food, healthy or not, affects us all, children and adults alike.If sugar laden processed food before bed can potentially keep our child up at night, then why do we suppose it stops there? Can’t this exact food wreak even deeper havoc on our children’s personality, emotions, energy, focus and health? Well here’s the answer: It does!

They aren’t Oreo cookies but that food is healthy.

And beyond the overabundance of legitimate literature that supports the effects of food on children’s health as well as the effective use of food as medicine and on health, we, as parents, accepting or not, know that food, to whatever degree, somehow affects our children. So let me tell you this; deprive your child of any food for any great length of time, and tell me he/she won’t waiver on some extent of grumpiness, upset, irritation, tiredness, ‘wildness’ or otherwise (need I go on?). Yet fulfill and satisfy these emotional and biological reactions with food, and what happens? You guessed it; your children’s mood changes, and usually for the better.  And here’s a hint, feed your child nutrient dense, tasty, satisfying foods (yes it is very possible to do this!) and guess what? You guessed again, mood improves even more. Feed them calorie dense, nutrient depleted, processed, high sugar foods, mood will artificially improve, for the short-term, before taking a nose dive once again. So what’s the point here? Well if no food causes alterations in our children’s mood (as is clearly evident), then isn’t it possible that food itself may cause changes and effects as well?

What’s wrong with this picture?  It’s not a LED television set?wev

<>Our bodies accelerate on an insurmountable number of chemical reactions, all at the mercy of vitamins, minerals and cofactors. Yes, one can argue we physiologically create some of these on our own, however many, essential components, are only created by way of the nutritional content from food. Consider it like this; would you tend toward a healthy, youthful vibrant individual who eats primarily nutritious and healthy food, or prefer to put your money on a person who simply survives on calories alone from any food source to get by?  Well the body and its physiology is an amazing entity, but to stress toward the unhealthy option, I mean, eventually, the body will give out, so why give the option to start our children down that path at all? Well here’s how I, as a Naturopathic Doctor, and parent,  see it; as parents, we all attempt yet struggle to provide the absolute best for our children’s lives. When pondering the unanswerable parental question of “what am I doing wrong?”, we clearly realize that we cannot possibly change each and every aspect of our child’s lives once the multitude of life’s influences have already begun to unfold. Therefore, what we know from our discussion so far is that food, yes food, can play a vital and impactful role in the lives of our children. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the literature available to us, however when we opt to present our children with more healthy snack and meal options, we know from our discussion so far, that there has to be some sort of effect, and most likely positive, within their lives.

It’s clear, at this point, that within medical science, foods contain many of the precursors to mood, stability, and emotions of our children via the brain and otherwise (take one of serotonins – the “feel good” neurotransmitters  precursor, tryptophan, for example), yet we always tend to wonder “why is my child not happy, why do they act the way they do, why don’t they listen, why can I do everything for them yet they still seem not to be assimilating into a happy healthy life?”.

Well, multiple consideration are possible, however although a grade of “A” can be given to all those parents who try so hard to provide as much as they can for their children, there still seems to be something lacking when it comes to overall happiness and health. Ever wonder, just by chance, that one of those missing pieces just may be healthy, nutrient dense food? Unhealthy, non nutritious type “foods” do interfere with the assimilation and use of nutrients from healthy foods, so it’s no wonder an eating plan unfocused on health can interfere with our child’s overall constitution. Our children’s foundation of overall health is built on a few simple yet obvious pillars; and along with enough rest and a proper balance of stress, providing healthy eating options is certainly one of the most effective ways of putting our best foot…and food forward.  

Dr Jeremy Hayman is an Ontario and Board licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, practicing at Back On Track Chiropractic and Wellness Centre in Burlington Ontario where he maintains a General Family Practice with special interest in Psychiatric as well as Pediatric health. Dr Hayman can be contacted at send me an email

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At some point city has to figure out what affordable housing it needs but let’s not put this on the backs of the developers.

September 24, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.   Sometime in the next couple of week Nicholas Carnacelli will wander across Brant Street to city hall and sit with people in the Planning department, perhaps the Director of Planning Bruce Krushelnicki, and sign the Section 37 Agreement that he wanted.

If Carnacelli was a real sport he would invite Krushelnicki over to the restaurant on the ground floor of the building he owns that houses a decent restaurant and treat him to a decent lunch.

After more than three years of reports, teeth gnashing and hand wringing city hall staff bent to the will of a developer and did it the way he wanted.  Was the developer right?  Was city hall staff being led around by the nose?  The real truth is in there somewhere.

The issue was all about a Section 37 Agreement – which is part of the planning act that lets a city give a developer additional height and density in a development in return for specific benefits that get given to the city. Burlington is one of the few cities in the province that use Section 37 Agreements. One of the reasons for that is we happen to have a Director of Planning who understands fully what can be done with this type of agreement.

Unfortunately, with this specific situation someone one not only dropped the ball – they lost the darn thing and now had a mess on their hands.  Someone either thought or wanted affordable housing on the table when it was about parking right from the beginning in the mind of the developer and it was his money everyone was talking about.

Having the Council member who was the strongest advocate for affordable housing unable to properly understand Section 37’s and the process used to get into one of them didn’t help.

The Carriage Gate development will occupy a full city block and change significantly the streetscape for people who live on Caroline east of Brant

The city needs the development at John and Caroline and Nick Carnacelli, president of Carriage Gate, wasn’t about to put up a building filled with affordable housing that he would have to sell the Region who would then rent them out to people who qualified for affordable housing.

In order to sell units to the Region Carnacelli had to price them at a particular price point and these were not going to be units with granite counter tops and high-end appliances which is where the good margins exist

Carnacelli was never going to actually be in the affordable housing business but there were people who wanted him to price his units so they could be bought by the Region and then rented out.

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward argued for the need for more affordable housing – and claimed the need was rising.  The idea that 73% of the units of a building were to be priced so they could be made into affordable units was a pipe dream at best and someone should have caught this one before it went as far as it did.

The development will be the biggest project the city has seen since the late 80’s.

Carnacelli wanted to put up an eight story office tower that would house medical types for the most part and have the 17 story units consisting of apartments that would be registered as condominium units.  In between the two structures would be an eight story garage.

All the back and forth about the make-up of the Section 37 Agreement would have taken place between the planning department and the developer.  It is clear now that there was a major disconnect between the two – this isn’t the first time a developer didn’t want to go along with what a planner hoped to see.  It does appear to be the first time in Burlington where a developer has balked so publicly.  According to the Director of Planning Burlington has done less than ten Section 37 Agreements.

Given the mess this agreement became perhaps the city should just get out of looking for section 37 agreements.

During the debate Monday evening all kinds of little gems of information came to the surface.  According to Meed Ward the Region will pay up to $255,400 for a condominium unit that it will then make available to those needing affordable housing.

That sets a price the developer has to sell for if the units he is building are going to be sold as affordable housing.  Difficult to have one price for units sold to the Region and another price sold to anyone that comes along – so you have a building full one and two bedroom units being sold for $244,500 – south of Caroline – in Burlington?

There was an audible gasp in the public seating section of council chamber when Meed Ward said the annual income level for an affordable units was $90,000 – really?  And that no more than 30% of the annual income could be spent on housing.  Thirty percent of that $90,000 income is $30,000 a year which works out to rent of $2500 per month –  where did those numbers come from?

During the debate the Mayor and several Council members spoke of the lesson learned – weren’t they supposed to have known what the math on all this was before they made a decision back in 2010

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was the lead council member on this file and turned out to be the only person that voted against the staff report which was instruct the City solicitor to amend the agreement with the developer and instruct the Director of Planning request that the owner enter into the agreement.

Can you imagine, a condominium unit south of Caroline being sold for that sum. Carriage Gate will sell its units for whatever the market will bear. The units that are to affordable would be condominium units bought by the Region and then rented out to those who met the affordable housing income levels.

This intersection will become the northern anchor for a block long project that will put a medical office building and a 17 storey condominium tower and an eight story parking garage into a part of the city that has been two storey buildings for decades. Change never comes easily to any community – how will Burlington handle this change?

The developer chose not to sign the Section 37 Agreement that required him to price 70% + of his units at the $255,400 level to meet the WHAT.  The planners rethought the situation, wrote up a second report and asked Council to amend the original agreement, which was never signed.  The planners were satisfied, the majority of Council was satisfied.

Carnacelli will sign the new agreement, the planning department will recommend that the zoning be changed which council do and the developer can get on with putting up the first significant development the city has seen since the 80’s.

There were some who felt the changes the developer wanted meant the project was now a completely different project and should be started all over.  Doing something like that would have sent the file to the Ontario Municipal Board where this developer has won the last two cases that he took there.

Meed Ward did her best to bring about a change.  She failed, but she will be back, hopefully with a clearer understanding of how Section 37 agreements really works.

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Another problem to deal with while raising children who are on the internet more than you would like them to be.

September 25, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It has come to this: we now have a Cyber Tip Awareness Day when we focus on the sexual exploitation that is perpetrated against our children when they use the internet.


There is some help in understanding how the pedophiles lure your child.  is Canada’s national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. Since  its inception in September 2002, it has responded to more than 94,000 child sexual exploitation reports.  In Halton, ten such tips have been investigated since 2012.

Last year, on the 10th anniversary of, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection announced the inaugural Awareness Day to focus on this critical service for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children and for obtaining important educational material.

What is sextexting and how do you prevent your children from getting involved?

On September 26th police services hope to raise the awareness of the web site where people can report their concerns about a child being sexually exploited and encourage them to access ‘’ for a new educational booklet entitled, ‘Parenting Tweens and Teens in a Digital World’.

The web site is worth a few minutes of your time.

The Halton Regional Police Service is a member of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.

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Are we really selling dirty oil to the rest of the world? And if we are – why? Can’t we clean it up?

September 25th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Do you have the feeling I get when I hear people talk about the “dirty oil” that is sent around the world from Alberta.  Are we sending the world dirty oil?  Why are we doing that?

Isn’t Canada the country that brought about the Peace keepers – those United Nations guys with the blue helmets?

Aren’t we the people who said no to having American nuclear bombs in Canada?

If there is such a huge profit in the oil sands in Alberta why aren’t we using a part of those profits to do research on ways to make the oil cleaner?Didn’t we take a pass on sending troops to Iran?

And if we’re selling “dirty oil” –why is it dirty?

If there is such a huge profit in the oil sands in Alberta why aren’t we using a part of those profits to do research on ways to make the oil cleaner?

I thought we were the good guys – not like those guys south of us.  We were the country that has state medical coverage while the American are still trying to make that happen.

We are the country where everyone doesn’t have a gun in there house and for the most part we are a gun free society.

We are the country that did away with capital punishment.  We don’t have to kill people to punish them.

My sense of being a Canadian is diminished when I read that we are shipping dirty oil.  I don’t understand why we are not spending large sums of money on finding ways to clean up that oil and spare our environment the harm dirty oil does.My sense of being a Canadian is diminished when I read that we are shipping dirty oil.

I feel ashamed that we are fighting decent people in the United States who don’t want our dirty oil working its way through oil pipes in their fields.  They tell me its good business.  Really?

We Canadians have one of the best educational systems in the world.  We’ve invented some pretty good things.  Our banking system is the envy of the world – yeah some of those banking fees are a little on the outrageous side.

And the cell phone fees are out of whack – but the phone service we have is one of the best in the world.  Almost every time a space ship goes up – it has one of those Canada Arms on it – we did that!

But the dirty oil thing – can’t we do something about that.  Do we really have to sell a product that does a lot of harm to both people and the environment.

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A “Dymond” in the rough and what a whopper of a burger – with shakes as well.

September 24, 2013

By Piper King

BURLINGTON, ON. I had originally planned to compare the desserts from the several different restaurants run by a group in the city.  I drove out to the location of the first one but couldn’t seem to find it.  I was looking for the Local Eatery & Refuge.  My stepson, Jordan and I decided to start our adventure there but when we arrived at the location (4155 Fairview Street), the name on the building was  Dymond’s Social Kitchen & BarA classy feel to it, but with a slightly retro kick..  Puzzled, we parked and entered the establishment.

When you walk in, Dymond’s has a classy feel to it, but with a slightly retro kick.  The tables and chairs are dark, but it thankfully lacks a claustrophobic feeling, due to the large and airy interior.  The walls have a mix of wood paneling and light brick.  The ceilings are a mix of industrial and dark night club blocks, which gives it an upscale, chic feel.

Kasia – took good care of us.

The server, a tiny blonde lady named Kasia greeted us warmly.  We asked for a booth seat, and she ushered us over and took our drink order.  I asked if they have milkshakes (which these establishments usually do not) and much to my delight, she responded YES!  Jordan ordered a chocolate shake and I the peanut butter and chocolate.

When Kasia returned, I asked her if this was still the Local Eatery & Refuge.  She said that it’s under the same management, but they broke away from the Tortoise Group of Companies April 1st of this year and renamed it Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar, after the owner Ryan Dymond.

We were both amazed when our milkshakes arrived!  Basically, we received two shakes for the price of one!  I took a sip of my shake and it was absolutely delicious! What struck me was that it was a lot lighter than the typical milkshake you’d get from either Wimpy’s, or Lick’s, which by the way is no longer in business – the bailiff had posted a notice on the plate-glass door.  A bonus for me with the shake in front of me was that I could taste more of the chocolate and less of the peanut butter (score)!

When Kasia returned she took our order: Jordan chose the Bacon Cheese Burger with fries and I chose the Arizona Dog and chips.

You could feed a family with this burger.

A few minutes later, Kasia brought out the largest burger we had ever seen, I mean this thing was piled high with lettuce, tomato and an onion ring (it was almost Alice in Wonderland/cartoon huge)! My dog was another amazing feat of Foodie heaven!  I have NEVER seen a hotdog piled up with so much deliciousness.  When we make hotdogs at home they’re usually a meager chicken or beef dog and a thin, no-name bun. 

The condiments alone amount to a meal.

This was quite literally, the king of dogs, hands down! The chips were served in a deep fryer basket. (I wondered if they were served in the very same basket they were fried in)? I didn’t ask.  The presentation for both meals were amazing.  The food was hot and delicious!  I suddenly remembered a Carl’s Jr commercial I used to see when I lived in Arizona.  Carl’s Jr is known for the messiest burgers, so much so that their slogan was, “If it doesn’t get all over the place; it doesn’t belong in your face.”  This Arizona Dog would have made Carl’s Jr. proud!

When we “finished” our meals (I managed to eat half of the hot dog and only half of the basket of chips), the owner, Ryan Dymond came over and introduced himself.  He struck me as a person who’s passionate about food and the restaurant industry. 

Ryan, a Burlington resident for many years, explained his reasoning for breaking away from the pack.  He wanted a restaurant that supports local businesses and he felt that this could not be accomplished as a franchise.  Once separated on April 1st, he ensured that all the food served in the restaurant would be sourced from local food businesses.  Most restaurants provide a menu for pairing the food with a fine wine, but his vision is to pair their foods with amazing, locally brewed craft beer. The only outsourced beer he advised us, is Samuel Adams (which hails from the U.S.).  He wanted to create a restaurant with “downscaled food in an upscale setting.” 

Ryan Dymond – broke away from a corporate environment and struck out on his own. The menu suggests he will do well – will the Dueling pianos give him that edge?

He went on to explain that every Friday night (and starting in October, Saturday night too) they have an amazing musical spotlight called Dueling Pianos.  It’s basically two pianos set up in a central location so both the bar and the dining room could request and enjoy the music all night.  He explained that he had renovated to ensure that everyone could enjoy the music and that no one would feel isolated.  Plus, for one Friday out of every month they feature a theme night, whereby they’d play to a specific theme – such as an “all Elton John songs” night.

It was truly a pleasure to meet Ryan and he was so good about posing for a photo or two. I will definitely go back one Friday, or Saturday night to check out the Dueling Pianos and see what the atmosphere will be like at night-time. 

All in all, Jordan and I give Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar four thumbs up!  The food was delicious, the atmosphere was relaxed and it really had an upscale feel to it that would appeal to Burlington’s affluent society, but the fare will cater to the “inner kid”.

Jordan summed it up this amazing event with his spontaneous observation at the end of our meal “Best part about this experience? “Heart”  just came on the speakers.”  So, we can give Dymond’s another gold star for amazing musical taste. 

Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar

4155 Fairview Street Burlington L7L 2A4


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Remember that lottery advertisement line: “Home James, Home” Today one has to add “in less than an hour please”.

September 24, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  “Toronto is a great place to live, if only you could manage to get to work” – so says the Toronto Board of Trade.  Commute times in the greater Toronto area were the longest of 19 major cities in a recent survey.  It takes the average commuter 80 minutes round-trip,  a full 24 minutes longer than it would in Los Angeles, the very birthplace of urban sprawl.

Ray Rivers, the Gazette’s political columnist with Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP Kevin Flynn on the left and Dr. Eric  Hoskins on the right – all at the recent Roundtable held in Burlington.

 So Ontario’s Premier Wynne has made it a priority for her government to improve the lot of commuters by building transit.   “It is a matter of social justice, I want to improve people’s lives by allowing commuters to spend more quality time with family and friends,”  she emphasized in an exclusive interview last Friday.   Ms. Wynne had earlier test-ridden the new half-hour GO train service, en route to a meeting with the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.  Flanked by her Minister of Economic Development, Dr. Eric Hoskins, and the Parliamentary Assistant for Transportation, Kevin Flynn, Kathleen Wynne shared some thoughts on this topic with me.

Premier Wynne believes that this level of traffic eats away at the time people deserve to have with their families and that the time spent in cars is damaging the provincial economy. Is GO the answer – and will we go along with that kind of a solution?

The Premier’s goals are straight forward: invest in people; provide much-needed infrastructure; and improve business opportunities that will result in job creation.  But she has her work cut out for her.  We know that most of Ontario’s urban areas are poorly configured for efficient public transit.  Three generations of urban sprawl have made public transit costly to deliver and inconvenient to ride – so the result is gridlock.  And yes, the Greenbelt, introduced by her predecessor, was intended to curb urban sprawl,  but the benefits of that initiative will not be seen for another generation – until after all the approved developments in the queue have seen their day.   

 Back in 1990 former Premier David Peterson, another Liberal, had proposed an ambitious $6.2 billion expansion of public transit for Toronto.  Then he lost the next election to the NDP,  who cherry-picked elements of that plan.  The NDP lost the next election which resulted in a virtual cessation of transit progress under Mike Harris.  Even when the Liberals did return to power, progress was slow as the Toronto kept changing its mind between subways and light-rail and subways again – making sustainable funding difficult.   

 The Province can’t  really afford to do much in the way of funding these days.  Ontario has been bleeding red ink since the 2008 recession and is now carrying a staggering quarter trillion dollar debt-load on its books.  Metrolinx, the organization tasked with creating some order to the provinces transit mess,  is saying they need $2 billion a year for needed transit expansion,and they are probably right.

This is clearly not working?

 That money is not likely to flow  from the business community; having lowered corporate taxes earlier, it is unlikely the province will raise them again.  One of Wynne’s priorities is to promote business development, not scare it away with higher taxes.  Wynne talked about bringing more jobs out to the suburbs, places like Burlington, so fewer folks need to be on that long daily commute.  There are fewer businesses paying taxes these days as we become more reliant on imports. 

Is this a better option? Can we rely on the public sector to deliver consistently reliable service that works within the reasonable budgets they are given?

Worse still, if we are to believe one think-tank, the left-leaning Centre for Policy Alternatives, we should expect an even greater decline in our industrial base following conclusion of the planned Canada-EU trade agreement. 

 Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the Harper government’s economic blueprint, has committed $14 billion for infrastructure renewal. Premier Wynne hosted the Council of the Federation meeting last July and there was unanimous agreement for “continuing the conversation” about infrastructure – which really means they want access to that fund.   Ontario, with a third of Canada’s population might reasonably expect about five or six billion dollars of that commitment – enough to make a really good start on adding public transit.  And, as if on cue, the federal government has just announced over half a billion dollars for the Scarborough subway extension.

 Aside from the auto companies Mr. Harper hasn’t shown much interest in helping Canada’s industrial heartland move forward.  In fact, there hasn’t been a PM in recent memory with so much interest in selling off the nation’s natural resources and so little interest in protecting home-grown manufacturing and services.    Ontario was once  the mighty province that led the nation in economic prosperity, yet today it has slipped to the status of a ‘have-not’ province.  It would be such a shame if the province ended up becoming another rust belt jurisdiction like Michigan or Ohio, and Toronto another bankrupt city like Detroit.

Ray Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office and held executive positions with Liberal Party riding associations.  He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


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If the city never sees a private tree bylaw it won’t be because the environmentlists stopped trying. One more kick at this can.

September 23, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  They are going to give it the old college try and provide city council with what they believe is an unbiased questionnaire on just what the good people of Burlington wants to do with the trees that are on private property.

Council has voted against this time and again – not because they are necessarily against a private tree by-law but because they don’t sense this is what the property owners want.

More than 100 years old this oak marks one of the boundaries that demarcate the land given to Joseph Brant for his service to the British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Fortunately it is on city property – or it might have been cut down.

This is an issue on which Mayor Goldring and Councillor Marianne Meed Ward have joined forces but all they could come up with was a 5-2 vote.

Meed Ward brought the issue back to Council with a proposal that staff write-up a bylaw that citizens could look at and think about.  She proposed a no fee – just fill in the form – permit to cut down a tree but still her colleagues weren’t buying.

With the issue going to Council this evening for what most Councillors thought was going to be just a quick vote to get rid of the problem is now going to be yet another presentation and perhaps some drawn out debate during what is already going to be a contentious and lengthy council meeting.

The Beachway Park issue is up for a final vote and this council is far from consensus on that file.

The Carriage Gate development is up for final vote with a group of community advocates arguing that the project should go back to square one due to the changes the developer is looking for in the Section 37 agreement that was supposed to give the city a significant number of affordable housing units.

Watching council on Cogeco Cable is no treat – the production qualities are terrible – but this is a meeting during which you will see city council struggle with several of the biggest files they have had to handle this term.

Might be an occasion to catch the show on Cogeco or go on-line to see how the significant seven operate.

What you probably won’t see on Cogeco is the detailed questionnaire a group of environmentalists are going to present to Council.

Here for your viewing pleasure are the questions that were asked along with the responses.

Having read them – how would you have voted and what do you think your Council should do.  We will tell you what they did tomorrow.

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Downtown development faces challenge from local residents who claim rules are being broken.

September 23, 2013

BY Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It has been so long since Burlington has seen a high-rise building that includes office space in the city that we may have forgotten what this kind of development means to a city.

An eight story office building and a 17 story apartment building with an above ground parking garage in between the two.  Somewhere along the way some people let themselves believe that 70+% of the apartments were going to be affordable housing.

The Carriage Gate project is a  mixed use development consisting of an 8 storey office building, a 17 storey, 154 unit apartment building, an 8 storey above-ground parking garage, three levels of underground parking garage, and ground floor retail/service commercial uses.  

A group of citizens will argue before Council that changing the content of the Community Benefits negotiated in exchange for extra height and density on the Caroline/Elizabeth Street development is a mistake and are asking: “Do they have the right to make this change or does this become a new project?”

In 2010, council approved the project and changed the Official Plan on this site to grant double the height for an 8 storey office building and parking garage, and over four times the height for a 17 storey apartment building.

In exchange, the Developer agreed to negotiate a Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement which was to have over 70% of the units as “affordable” housing under Halton Region’s definition of affordability.

Nick Carnacelli, the developer doesn’t see things this way. He argues that he got the additional density for the parking that he put in place and that affordable housing was not part of the deal.  At the committee meeting where the issue was threshed in the city planner explained that while some people felt there was a deal in place – there is no deal in place until the documents are signed and as of today the Section 37 agreement has not been signed.  The city did approve the change to the Official Plan

According to community advocates the community benefits document that was to be signed by the develop included:  a) providing an additional 269 parking spaces; b) Apartment to be constructed to LEED certified environmental standard; c) Parking garage will contain a green roof design and  d)  Residential component will have over 70% affordable housing units.”

The Official Plan change was approved and changed. The developer is asking for a reduction in the affordable housing component from 73% to 27%. 

The community advocates maintain the developer is not now willing to sign the agreement.  They argue that the project cannot proceed until the Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement is signed as it was an integral aspect of the deal and was to be registered on the title of the property.  They add that the zoning bylaw cannot be changed and a building permit cannot be issued until the Section 37 Agreement is signed .

The change to the Official Plan has already be made but the zoning by-law amendment remains outstanding. Some were surprised that any changes could be made without the attendant agreements being signed or that the changes to zoning and the official plan were not made conditional to the community benefits agreement.

Bruce Krushelnicki patiently explains that Section 37 agreements cannot be made conditional.  The benefits to the community are separate from the issuing of an Official Plan change or a change in the zoning bylaw and the issuing of a building permit.

“A section 37 Agreement is one that allows the city to reap certain benefits when an advantage is given to a developer allowing an increased return on a development.  The development has to stand on its own merits – it is only if it stands on its own merits and is approved by a city council that we planners can then negotiate a Section 37 agreement.”

Much of the council committee debate on affordable housing focused on the question: is there a place for affordable housing in the downtown core south of Caroline?  Where should affordable housing be located and who should be paying for that housing?.  Council committee heard arguments that social housing is a Regional responsibility and should be addressed at the Regional level and that developers should not be expected to take on this social service.  The city already has a significant amount of social housing on John Street, immediately north of Pine and south of the Burlington transit station.

 Staff and the owner agreed to a total direct community benefit valued at $6-7 million to be spent in the provision of parking as well as several other benefits that do not have direct costs but which are nevertheless community benefits.

The Planning department also notes that other Section 37 Agreements where affordable housing was secured the amount was less than 30% in  all instances.

Carnacelli explained that the affordable housing units he would have built were so small that families would not be able to live in them thus defeating the purpose of social housing in the downtown core.

Is the city working with a developer who has out maneuvered them several times?  Does the developer understand the process better than the people he has to deal with at city hall?

The project has been something of a paper nightmare for the planning department.  A condition of the agreement approved by Council in 2010 was the imposition of an 18 month deadline for the signing of the required agreements. The bylaw passed by Council at that time was not enacted because Carriage Gate Group Inc. did not enter into the required agreements or pay the rezoning unit fees within the specified time-frame. The conditional approval lapsed on January 5, 2012.  In September of this year  Council granted an 18 month extension to the approval lapsing date.

Carnacelli faces some exceptionally stiff costs on the hydro side of the project.  In order to get hydro to the site he was expected to pay for the cost of getting a hydro lines up from Lakeshore to his site.  Once that hydro line is in place anyone south of the Carnacelli site, which is at Caroline and Elizabeth, would get a free ride.  Carnacelli felt hydro should put the line in and then have anyone developing along the route pay for a share of the cost.

The Molinaro Group didn’t have to pay for the costs Carnacelli is expected to pay to get hydro into  the buildings they  built along Lakeshore Road because the hydro line ran along Lakeshore.

The Carriage Gate project is to have a total of 522 parking spaces of which 193 spaces were required for the residential portion of the development and 60 public spaces were required as part of the land sale. The site is located within the Downtown Parking Exemption Area (DPEA) and therefore the provision of parking is not required except for the residential units. The developer was thereby providing an additional 269 spaces that would not otherwise be required by this development. The estimated value of these parking spaces to service non-residential development is approximately $6-7 million. The developer however will charge a fee for those parking spots when they are used.

The staff report points out that approval was granted almost three years ago  when the initial Section 37 community benefits were being discussed.  In that time economic and market conditions have changed. In that time costs, including but not limited to, development charges, hydro and construction, have increased significantly.

The community advocates argue that a lot of  due diligence, expense and research went into the preparation of the original Staff Report presented to Council on July 5, 2010 which included wording for a Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement which they maintain resulted in the approval of the development. 

They suggest that “if the deal can be changed on this development after the approval process has been completed, this sets a precedent going forward for every Development throughout the entire City of Burlington.”  True perhaps but the Section 39 “deal” has not been signed and as Krushelnicki explains – it isn’t a deal until it is signed.

The community advocates argue that “altering a Section 37 Agreement after the approval process is complete merits a very serious review as developments of this size are going to change the landscape of Burlington forever and this deal sets a serious precedent going forward.  When is a deal not a deal?

Krushelnicki would respond – a deal is not a deal until it is signed.

The community advocates suggest that any change to the approved Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement on the Carriage Gate Development makes it a different project and thus warrants further serious review.

The signatories to any agreement can negotiate changes before the agreement is signed and city planners have reviewed the requested changes and approve of the requested changes.

 Is this a battle between Marianne Meed Ward, Councillor for that part of the city this project is to be built in, and the development community along with those who argue Burlington desperately needs new office development in the downtown core if the city is to have a core that is viable?

There are some impressive properties along Caroline that may not be comfortable with a large office/residential complex parked on their shoulder.

There are those who argue that Meed Ward does not understand the economics of development and is giving the city a bad reputation as a place for developers to ply their trade.

The city has to comply with a provincial Policy Statement that requires the Region to develop a specific amount of housing and a specific number of jobs.  The city does not have a choice – that is what we must do and if a project like Carriage Gate helps the city meet that requirement – they will negotiate the best deal they can get and then happily approve it.

Burlington currently faces negative net growth in the amount of Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) tax levels.  The money to run the city comes from taxpayers for the most part and if it isn’t raised on the ICI side – then it will come from the residential side.

The issue, actually the elephant in the room is what kind of development will there be in the downtown core?  That’s one on which there is the kind of community consensus this council would like to see. Should Burlington office development just be on the North and South Service Roads and over along Burloak?

During the committee debate Meed Ward suggested that if the community benefits were being scaled back then the height and density given should be scaled back as well.

The buildings in this photograph are gone – the developer bulldozed everything as they moved on both the constructions and their marketing plans.

What Carnacelli argues is that the development charges he has to pay have increased 40% since he started work on the project.

Staff in their report have recommended to Council that the city solicitor be directed to re-work the Section 37 agreement and have it conform to what the developer has asked for while a group of citizens want Council to send the project right back to the drawing table and see it as a new project.

The developer has already flattened the buildings that were on what was once called Tudor Square and has begun to market the project.  Would anyone care to wager on what city council will do Monday evening?  If there is ever going to be any serious or significant development in the downtown core the Carriage Gate project has to be approved.  That might mean holding their nose for some.





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Developer backs away from residential proposal along western part of Caroline.

September 23, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was going to be Maurice Desrochers jump from operating properties he had bought up as “executive rentals” into a fully-fledged developer who would develop a city block west of Brant street in a part of the city that is settled and knows what it wants and knows very well what it doesn’t want.  And they didn’t want the development Desrochers was proposing for a stretch of Caroline Street between Hagar and Burlington Streets.

Residents believe the developer has focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they are concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

Desrochers had bought up a number of properties and then developed a plan that he felt fit in exceptionally well with the neighbourhood.  Somewhere along the way there was a major disconnect between the developer and the community – when more than 70 residents showed up for a Saturday morning meeting in May to give the idea a big thumbs down.

The resistance in the community was too much for the developer who we understand has decided to sell off some of the property purchased and either move on to some other project or stick to the “executive rentals” business.

Desrochers did one project for which Burlington has been and will continue to be forever grateful and that was the saving of the Gingerbread house on Ontario Street.  Desrochers wasn’t able to translate the good will generated from that project into acceptance from the community that he could build housing that would be consistent with the way most residents saw their community.

Barry Imber, one of the people leading the group, explained the concern at the time when he said:  “Communities evolve over time during which small changes take place and are absorbed into the community and a new norm gets created”.  “These are incremental changes” he adds.  “What Desrochers wants to do is something revolutionary – he wants to tear down a complete block and put up housing that is not permitted under the existing Official Plan or the zoning.

Desrochers was looking for both an Official Plan change and significant rezoning.  Councillor Marianne  Meed Ward made it clear that she would support the rules that are in place now.

The rules in place for the part of Burlington west of Brant are complex. When Burlington did its last Official Plan Review, completed in 2008, it created a number of precincts in the city.  Brant Street was given a zoning of 7 storey’s as of right now with the possibility of going to 12 storeys. 

Residents believe the developer had focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they were concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

The thinking behind the creation of the Precincts back in 2008 was to create communities with a clearly defined zoning by law set in place to protect the character of the community. They called the land between Brant on the east and close to Maple on the west and from Baldwin on the north down to the Lake – the St. Luke’s Precinct – which was anchored by St. Luke’s Anglican Church which has land that gives it a view to the Lake.  That property was given to the Anglican Church by the Joseph Brant family.

The precinct boundary has all kinds of wiggles and squiggles in it but it is basically west of Brant.  The community has many styles; some single story, some two and two and a half.  There are some apartment buildings as well but the core is single family homes and the residents want to keep it that way.  That’s what the Official Plan gave them in 2008 and they don’t want to give that away.

Maurice Desrochers talking to residents about his Caroline street project during a Saturday morning community meeting.

Was this an inappropriate development or a tussle between a developer and a group of citizens who didn’t like the pace of change that was being proposed?  We will never know.  Hopefully Desrochers will have realized some capital gain on the purchase and sale of the properties.  Failing that all he has for this effort is invoices from consultants and some nice poster board with drawings of the dream.

Maurice Desrochers did not make himself available for comment.

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