While things aren’t great; business is being done in the Region – not for profits getting a leg up as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 19, 2011  –  The Halton Region Community Investment Fund wants to hear from the not for profit community on how to revise the fund to best meet the needs of non-profit programs and the residents they serve. The consultations will also explore other strategies to help agencies respond to community needs.

If you are involved with a non-profit organization or community group that provides community health and social service programs in Halton, Halton Region would like your input on Halton Region’s Community Investment Fund.

The HRCIF funds non-profit programs that address key community health and social service needs in Halton. In January 2012, the Region will be holding consultations throughout Halton to determine “We value the important work being done in Halton by the non-profit sector and have committed resources in the Citizens’ Priorities – Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan to support those efforts,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr.  “I encourage individuals who work or volunteer in the non-profit sector to be a part of the conversation about the future of the Halton Region Community Investment Fund.”

Community consultations about the investment fund have been scheduled as follows:

 Burlington – January 19, 2012, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., De Groote School of Business (Ron Joyce Centre, 4350 South Service Road)

MASS LBP, a Canadian advisory firm that specializes in community engagement, is coordinating and facilitating the consultation sessions. To register for a community consultation in your community contact Mass LBP at 1-888-377-2739 or register online at www.halton.ca/investmentfund.

While the non-profit sector is important, the health of the private sector is vital to the community and Halton has done reasonably well.  Construction, which is the industry the Region follows closest, looked like this:

New houses in the Alton community on the North side of Dundas added to the construction industry numbers for the 3Q of 2011.

Construction industry:

Halton’s total value of new construction and expansions declined during the 3rd quarter of 2011 from the same period in 2010, falling 23% to just over $381 million.  The decreases in construction values was seen across the industrial, institutional and residential categories, whereas the commercial category saw an increase from the same period in 2010.  The major non-residential project that got underway during the 3rd quarter was Phase 1 of the Joshua Creek Corporate Centre in Oakville, where permits were issued for three office buildings totaling 120,000 sq.ft. and a combined construction value of over $14.5 million.  There were no notable industrial permits issued during the quarter.

Overall, there were 1,734 building permits issued in Halton during the 3rd quarter, which represents an 18% decline from the same period in 2010.  Residential permits accounted for 58% of all building permits issued and 14% were Industrial, Commercial or Institutional (ICI) permits.

Halton’s industrial vacancy rates during the 3rd quarter of 2011 dropped 5.8%, while vacancy rates in the office market rose slightly to 14.2%.  At the same time, there was negative absorption in both Halton’s industrial market (-86,506 sq.ft.) and office market (-15,910 sq.ft.).  This contributed to slight declines in both industrial and office net rental rates in Burlington and Oakville, while industrial rates in Milton rose marginally.

Economic Conditions

Ontario’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined 0.3% in the 2nd quarter of 2011, following seven consecutive quarterly gains.  Production by goods-producing industries fell 1.0%, while services-production industries edged down 0.2%.  Production declined in the manufacturing, finance and retail trade sectors, while utilities and construction posted the highest gains.  Meanwhile, business investment on plant and machinery continued to trend upward, rising 4.9% during the 2nd quarter.

Employment in Ontario was also up over 12,000 in September 2011.  Over the past 12 months, employment in the province increased over 135,000 (+2.0%), the majority of which was full-time work. The provincial unemployment rate climbed 0.1 percentage points in September to 7.6%.

Federal government Stimulus Funding, announced by signs like this wherever the governmenet spent any money, made a significant contribution to the Regional economy. Is a second wave of Stimulus funding needed or can we just weather out the coming economic uncertainty?

Halton’s economic conditions weakened during the 3rd quarter of 2011 from the same period last year, halting the substantial market rebounds observed throughout the post-recessionary period of 2009 and 2010.  Construction activity in Halton fell by 23%.  The industrial sector posted the highest losses, with a decrease of 81% over 2010.  Institutional investments also deceased (-39%) as federal and provincial infrastructure stimulus funding wound down.

In the residential sector, development activity dropped 12%, however, Halton’s resale housing market remained strong with a reported 23% increase in sales listings and 41% decrease in the number of days listings were staying on the market longer on average.  Housing prices rose 12% over the same period in 2010, reaching just over $515,000 on average.

The labour market in Halton also weakened slightly during the 3rd quarter with the region’s unemployment rate rising to 6.6% from 5.0% during the same period in 2010.  However, this was an improvement on the 7.2% unemployment rate recorded in the 2nd quarter of 2011.  The number of residents participating in the labour force decreased from a rate of 77.0% in 2010 to 74.9% in 2011.

Return to the Front page

Through the magic of television – you can watch the social, culture event of the year.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 17, 2011  –  On December 3rd Burlington got a peek at the kind of city it could be; urban, sophisticated, connected and able to show the rest of the country that it is not a small ingrown town run by an old boys network.

Cogeco Cable did a thoroughly profesional job of cable casting live the Gala Opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Mark Carr, on the right, will be moving on to CBC, ABC or NBC soon - unless of course he is waiting to move into Ward 6.

The opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre with Sarah McLaughlin on the stage as the lead performer was without a doubt THE cultural, social event of the year for the city.

The event was broadcast live by on Cogeco Cable who had five cameras on the site along with their mobile unit and a staff of 14 people backing up Mark Carr and Deb Tymstra who were on air throughout the evening.

The Cogeco programmers are going to re-broadcast the event on the following dates:

Dec. 18, 5:30pm

Dec. 25, 5:30pm

Dec. 27, 10pm

Dec. 29, 8:30pm

If you want to get a sense of how this city works, the way the movers and shakers meet and greet each other – take the time to watch the re-broadcast.

 

 

Return to the Front page

Line these ducks up and see if you see what I see. This could be painful.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011 –  The good folks at Burlington’s Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital tells us that the province is in for the money needed to do a major upgrade to the place – which is badly needed.  The hospital board reports that they have a memo from the provincial government – AND that the hospital’s name is on an infrastructure list of communities that are going to get funding.

With good news apparently on the way the hospital goes out and rents a nice big white tent and everyone who is anybody in town shows up for THE announcement.

But the Minister, doesn’t show up.  We are told her car got stuck in traffic.  A substitute Minister is on hand to give, what is at best an embarrassing situation, the spin it needs.  Ted McMeekin talks about the great care he got at the hospital when he needed help.  Fair enough.

Burlington's best wait on a sunny afternoon for a provincial government Minister to arrive with a "good news" announcement - She fails to show - an ominous sign for the city.

The Minister that didn’t make it to the meeting lost her seat in the election and the guy that told us about the great care he got makes it back into Cabinet.  Such are the vagaries of provincial politics.

That the province was in the middle of a provincial election and the Liberals thinking they just might be able to win Burlington this time out, throw everything they have into the Burlington campaign.  Almost daily press conferences, photo ops, a visit to the city by the Premier – all for not.  The solid Liberal candidate got beaten soundly by the Progressive Conservative candidate who had no political experience nor was she active in the community before she was elected. The riding hasn’t gone Liberal since the early 40’s.

Then Liberal candidate and former hospital board member Karmel Sakran chats with Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall the day a provincial government Minister failed to show up for a "good news" announcement.

The Liberal candidate, who was at one point the vice chair of the hospital board swears that this is going to happen – the hospital is going to be funded.  The only thing we didn’t hear was someone swearing on a stack of bibles that it would happen.

City Council has been told they will have to come up with a significant chunk of the millions it is going to cost to refurbish the hospital and they put in motion the steps needed to impose a tax levy.  The city manages to put $20 million plus into a reserve fund.

Hospital Foundation Board gets picture taken as they gear up to raise $60 million from within the community.

The hospital is grateful and tells the city they are going to match – dollar for dollar – what the city contributes.  Combined the community is committed to come up with $120 million.  It must be noted however that while the city has $20 million plus in a reserve fund collecting interest the hospital,s foundation hasn’t announced a dime of fund raising.  They did release a nice picture of themselves though.

Then the hospital asks if the city might send along some of those dollars to build a parking garage that is needed.  A PARKING GARAGE the citizens ask – we wanted a hospital.

Hospital spin doctors explain that a parking garage has to be built so that there is a place for the cars to be put so that the land the cars are now parking on can be dug up and used for the magnificent expansion that is going to come.  We know the hospital is going to be refurbished because the province promised us that.  Yeah right.   Oh, and there is a pretty picture to show what the new building will look like.  It gets better.

If it ever gets built - this is what the architects expect it to look like. Don't think there will be any big bets placed on this happening by the announced date.

The city and the hospital start talking about an agreement as to when and how and under what circumstances the money Burlington city has raised will be passed along to the hospital.  This is one of those occasions when the city’s legal department is being closed mouth and rightly so.

There are many, including Councillor Paul Sharman who feel the city could get “screwed” by the province and he doesn’t for a second trust them.  He wants an agreement with the province “in our back pocket” – then money can flow.  Sharman points out that the province has both a budget shortfall and some very significant debt that is going to have to be paid down and he doesn’t believe the province is going to have any money for an upgrade to the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward believes the province will come through with the money.  Meed Ward sat on the hospital board as a citizen before she was elected to council and has in the past worked as a communications advisor to the hospital during the very tough Cdifficile days when more than 80 people lost their lives.

The day after Sharman said he wanted to see an agreement between the city and the province in place before he would go along with the money the city now has in the bank going to the hospital – guess what? The financial press reports that an influential credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service had turned “negative” on the province.  They warned that they might have to lower the province’s credit rating if it “doesn’t take serious steps in the next budget to deal with the multi-million dollar deficit.”  Hey isn’t that the budget that has the money for our hospital refurbishment in it?

The province has a $16 billion deficit and an economy that is on the sluggish side which means it is going to take longer than expected to reduce that deficit.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is a little like the provinces economy: a little the worse for wear and tear and in need of a fix up. Problem is the economy has to get much better before the hospital refurbishment can go forward,

The problems with the American economy are holding Ontario’s economy back and the problems in Europe, which almost defy understanding, aren’t helping either.  With a credit rating change apparently in the works – unless the budget shows some serious intention at restraint – it will be more expensive to borrow.  And, if the financial press is to be believed, foolish to do so as well.

So now that the ducks are all lined up – what do you think is going to happen?  Grab your ankles and hold on tight.  This is going to hurt.

All however is not lost.  There is an opportunity for this city to do something really different; something that meets the real needs of the city and not the desires of the medical community.  Mayor Rick Goldring recently invited a highly regarded expert on public health policy, Andre Picard,  who suggested that smaller community hospitals were the best tool to meet the medical needs of the aging population Burlington has to deal with.

For some reason – both your city council and the people who run the medical services in this city want a big expensive hospital that the province can’t afford.  We seem to be stuck on a building we perhaps don’t need.  Hamilton has all the medical capacity we need and Oakville is getting a really large medical complex.  I’ll take the ambulance ride to Hamilton or Oakville if you don’t mind.

 

Return to the Front page

Orchard residents don’t like way city staff are interpreting Strategic Plan. Council will find a way to resolve the problem.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011  –  Your City Council got its Strategic Plan fed back to them on a plate by a delegation of Orchard Park residents who described the document as a paper tiger.

More than 80 residents filled the public gallery and applauded loudly, much to the consternation of committee chair Blair Lancaster, who explained on several occasions that applause was not permitted nor were the decorative signs that got raised in the air by several of the residents.  It was one of the largest delegations this city council has seen since they took office a year ago.

During the event nine delegations were heard, led by Amy Collard who spoke as a private citizen.  She is the Board of Education Trustee for the Orchard Park community.

The complaint was that there was not nearly enough playground/park space in the community and that the city should purchase the excess land around the newly opened John William Boich elementary school that currently has just over 700 students enrolled and expects that to rise to 800 in the near future.

John William Boich elementary school while under construction, was named after one of the co-chairs of the Shape Burlington committee that produced a report that has driven much of the municipal thinking in the city, including the need for a meaningful Strategic Plan the community now wants the city to live up to the contents of the plan.

The community felt the city had let them down because they  believed the land around the edge of the school was always going to be, at least in their minds, parkland/playground space.

The land just east of the Appleby Line/Dundas Road intersection was to originally house a high school which would have had a football field and other physical amenities the community thought they would be able to use.  When an elementary school was developed on the site – things changed and so did the mood of the community.

John William Boich elementary school has 23 K-3 classes and had to hold three  Christmas pageants because their auditorium couldn’t hold everyone if there was a single event.  The closest park for parents to use is almost a kilometre away from the back door of the school – which for the Mother of four plus a dog was, as she put it, more than she could handle with one of the four at the “potty training” stage.

What was evident during the staff presentation was a significant divide in thinking.  Staff had recommended that the city not buy the property available for a playground/park.  When the school board decided to build an elementary school instead of a high school, there was land they didn’t need.  It had to be sold and the rules of the game are that the School Board has to get the best possible price for the land and at the same time has to first make it available to other school boards and the city.

Tough to rationalize that one, when it is clear the city has no extra money and the school board is required to get all they can and when there are developers, who see significant potential for the properties.

Orchard Park residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a city staff recommendation for parkland in their community.

The community – located in the north east part of the city, has been undergoing rapid growth and is the location for a six lane road that saw a pedestrian killed in a traffic accident recently.   The location is hemmed in by a railway line, Appleby Line and Dundas – and there isn’t a parent in their right mind that is going to attempt to cross either of those roads with a couple of kids in tow.

Council member Rick Craven was having small conniptions, as he listened to the ongoing debate.  From his point of view, he could see the General Brock debate about to take place again.  That situation has property attached to a school that was to be sold and the community did not want to see it used for development.   A deal that works for everyone at that location has yet to be finalized.  Both school boards plus the city came together to make that deal work but the Catholic Board had to pull out – the cost was just too rich for them.

Councillor Craven, who didn’t vote for the solution the council committee came up with for the Orchard Park community, said after the meeting that council members had to learn to say no at some point.  This city council will not be saying no to this committee.

Throughout the ongoing debate and the question and answer that followed each delegation was the question: Is there a compromise here.  Councillor Meed Ward put that question to every delegation and it was clear the community just wanted park/playground space.  At one point there were almost negotiations (If we give you this and let that go for development – will that work?) going on between a delegation and the council members as to what could be hived off for development and what the community needed.

Some of the residents had clearly done better work at setting out the needs of the community.  Staff involved in this one didn’t come off looking all that good.  Hobson Drive resident Allison Scott brought forward some drawings that appeared to be better than anything staff had produced – at least most members of council seemed to think so, when they said they would be looking at the drawings very carefully.  Even Councillor Dennison saw merit in what the resident was proposing – and when it comes to going over ideas Dennison is about as picky as you can get.

City Council has handed off another tough one to General Manager Community Services Scott Stewart.

General Manager Community Services Scott Stewart could see a tough one coming his way.  He was eventually asked to have his staff make some phone calls to the Board of Education to talk about maybe entering into negotiations to acquire the property without knowing if he had any money to spend.

The issue before the Board seemed to be a perceived need to make a decision before the end of the year about the property – but then someone realized all the letter from the Board required was an interest in acquiring the property.  With that realization close to the end of the meeting, everyone breathed a bit of a sigh of relief, as they agreed to get the letter off to the Board and come back in the New Year and figure out how to give the community, what they felt they were entitled to and very much needed.

The city needs to get into the water with this community and listen to their needs and work something out with them.  What was impressive was how much really good homework had been done by the residents and how prepared city council was to find a solution for them.

Councillor Paul Sharman made sure his constituents got to be heard as they delegated city council to ensure they would have the park space they needed and felt they deserved.

Orchard Park is Councillor Paul Sharman’s territory and he did his best to shepherd his constituents through the meeting and ensure they had every opportunity to make their point.  The delegations included two young girls, who wrote a poem and two mothers who could not hold back the tears.  Sharman has had to deal with a number of problems in this community – the most recent of which was the tearing out of what was believed to be one of the last orchard trees.  Developer Jeff Paiken had bulldozers uproot trees that residents thought were going to remain..  That matter had Sharman calling a special closed door community meeting on a Saturday.  The community is clearly well organized and boisterous to boot.

It looked as if once again Scott Stewart’s trusted side-kick, Parks and Recreation Director Chris Glenn was going to be brought to a negotiation table to do what he appears to do very well.  Glenn handled much of the problem solving with the development of the Alton community, where they are going to have a superb recreation centre, school and library rolled into one very large complex as well as a number of sports fields across the road.

The Orchard Park community wonders, why they aren’t getting similar treatment.  Part of the reason is that Orchard Park was started more than ten years ago and there was never as broad a plan for that community as there is in place for the Alton community.

The planning done around Orchard Park was far from stellar and the community is now paying the price for lots that aren’t large enough and streets that are a little on the narrow side.  There is an opportunity for the city to make amends.

We will return to this issue and follow it closely as we watch how the city puts it brand new Strategic Plan into practice.  The Orchard Park community made it very clear they had read the document carefully, liked what they read and now expect the city to live up to its contents.

Return to the Front page

Halton police chief decides to ride off into the sunset – announces his retirement to start in June, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 15, 2011  – Gary Crowell, the Chief of Halton Regional Police is hanging up his pistols and will take retirement in June of 2012.  After 41 years of policing, which started with a stint with the RCMP, the chief, who has been with the Halton Regional Police Service since 1999, when he was brought in as Deputy Chief, is bringing a police career to an end.

Crowell was promoted to Chief in 2006.   Prior to coming to Halton, he served with the Peel Regional Police Service.

Police Services Board Chairman Bob Maich and other members of the Board commended and thanked Chief Crowell for his dedication to the Service, and to the community. “The Board is proud of the Chief’s many accomplishments attained over the years. Through the leadership, integrity and decisiveness of Chief Crowell, the Police Service team, the Region of Halton, and all community members have benefited from his contributions”, said Bob Maich. “The Board looks forward to his continued leadership through this transition period.”

Chief Gary Crowell has announced his retirement for June of 2012. Police Services Board gears up to find a replacement.

Chief Crowell thanked the Board for their incredible support and guidance during his six years as Chief. He also thanked the members of the Service for their dedication and commitment in making the Halton Police Service a very effective and professional organization. “With the excellence of the Service team and many volunteers, our community partners and Halton citizens, I am proud that Halton has been able to maintain its recognition as the safest Regional Municipality in Canada”, remarked Crowell. “I will continue my commitment to the Service through to June, 2012.”

Throughout his career, Crowell has been committed to the betterment of the Service and the community. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Crime Prevention Committee, the National Child and Youth Protection Advisory Committee and the Halton Poverty Roundtable. He served on the Joseph Brant Hospital Board of Governors for nine years. He is also the recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal, the Order of Merit, the Gold Medal for Excellence by the Human Rights and Race Relations Centre, and the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement’s first President’s Award.

Officer Wendy Moraghan is one of the group of women in the Halton Regional Police Service that Chief Crowell wanted to see in the service as it expanded. Here she works on some equipment with a techie as they prepare for a community presentation.

Crowell was responsible for some significant changes in the number of female police in the Halton service.

The Board will meet early in the New Year to consider the process it will undertake to appoint a new Chief.  The Halton Regional Police Services Board is a seven-member civilian Board that governs the Halton Regional Police. Under the Police Services Act, the Board is responsible for the provision of adequate and effective police services to the citizens of Halton Region. The Halton Regional Police Service has an authorized strength of 925 staff, a net budget of $122.2 million.

The Police Services Board is going through a budget for 2012 that looks as if it will require a tax increase of 3.2%

Among the people that will certainly be in line for the top job is Deputy Chief Bob Percy who is currently as Deputy Chief Operations responsible for all front line and investigative policing. Halton Regional Police Service Operations under his command include:  District Policing, Emergency Services, Intelligence Bureau and Regional Investigative Services.  This task set is the guts of policing – the reason we have men and women in police cars with guns on their hips.

Prior to his promotion to Deputy Chief in May 2008, Deputy Chief Percy served in a wide variety of uniform patrol duties, including as a Coach Officer, Tactical Rescue Unit officer, patrol supervisor, and District Superintendent.

Deputy Chief Bob Percy has handled some tricky situations in Burlington while he did his best to bring competitive cycling to the Region. He currently runs the Operations side of the Regional Police Service.

Percy worked closely with the city of Burlington while they tried to work out a series of problems related to the potential for competitive level cycling that would be part of the selection of members of the Canadian Olympic Team.  The problems proved to be insurmountable in large measure to the cost of police services to handle traffic control.

A couple of months later Chief Crowell appeared before Burlington city council to tell them that Burlington was doing OK from a policing point of view.  The city had not seen the chief for some time.  During that visit Superintendent Joe Taylor took part in the reporting event.  That was another first for some time.  Supt. Taylor proved to be a man with a sense of responsibility laced with a bit of a sense of humour.  That wasn’t a personality trait evident in most senior police officers.

Police Services tend to look within when there are changes in the top levels.  They tend to look for people who are thoroughly familiar with the community and know everyone in the chain of command.

Another candidate that will get a very close look for promotion is Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher who began his policing career with the Halton Regional Police Service as a Cadet in 1984. He oversees Community Policing Administration as the Deputy Chief responsible for Community Policing Support, Human Resources, Training, Communications Bureau, Information Services, Courts Services, Records, and Administrative Support Services.

Deputy Chief Fletcher currently runs the Administrative side of the Halton Regional Police Service.

Deputy Chief Fletcher is a strong advocate for community policing and public safety. He is dedicated to building relationships with the community through a number of proactive policing and crime prevention initiatives.

Deputy Chief Fletcher also represents the HRPS on a number of provincial policing committees and liaises with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, and other police and emergency service agencies to ensure Halton remains as safe tomorrow as it is today.

In his spare time, Deputy Chief Fletcher enjoys spending time with his family and is actively involved in the community, including spending most of his spare time on local soccer fields as a coach with the Burlington Youth Soccer Club.

Halton Regional Police Service Community Policing Administration functions under his command include: Community Policing , Human Resources, Training Bureau, Communications Bureau, Information Services, Court Services, Records and Administrative Support Services

Deputies Fletcher and Percy came to the Halton Regional Police service at the same time in 1984.    Has there been some rivalry between these two men ever since they came out of the police academy and put on uniforms with the same shoulder patch?

Whoever the new police chief is – that person will face a community that is seeing criminals from Toronto and Hamilton slip into Burlington where they sense the pickings are a little easier.  There was an LCBO break in during the early hours that required more than twenty minutes for a patrol car to arrive on the scene.  Maybe some tightening up within the ranks on the street is needed.

Return to the Front page

Entrepreneurship isn’t just young legs with venture capital money; it’s a set of solid values and a strong work ethic.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011  – Reginald Pollard, Chairman of Pollard Windows and Doors, located on King Road has been named the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.  The Award luncheon is to take place June 7, 2012 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

Pollard, whose Dad created the company after the second World War when the family immigrated to Canada, might not fit the image of an entrepreneur but let there be no doubt that it is men like Reg Pollard who create jobs, wealth and a healthier community when they put their money and their talents on the line.

Reg Pollard spends quite a bit of his time in the Boardroom - but he can get out on the plant floor whenever he's needed and help solve problems. He is Burlington's 2012 Entrepreuner of the Year.

Pollard joins the ranks of Harry Voortman (Voortman Cookies), Mark Chamberlain (Trivaris), Michael Lee-Chin (AIC Ltd./Portland Holdings), Michael DeGroote Sr. (Laidlaw/Republic), Ron Joyce (Tim Hortons), Murray Hogarth (Pioneer Petroleums) and Ron Foxcroft (Fox40 International) in Burlington’s Business Hall of Fame.

Pollard Windows started out in a 20×20 foot garage that Reg and his Dad built and grew to the point where today there is a third of a million square foot plant that at peak employs just under 300 people.  Today the business is profitable and doesn’t have a dime of bank debt.  Reg’s son Michael is president and runs the operation.

Pollard, who will tell you that he isn’t computer literate, and if he has an email address he doesn’t know what it is – but will quickly add that he can take up a pencil and his quarter in square graph paper and do a design when it’s needed.

He is always on hand and available to give an opinion and as he tells it “let them have some of the 60 years of wisdom and experience I’ve accumulated”.

New ideas and new products have kept Pollard Windows ahead of their competitors. Their King Road display centre shown above.

Pollard Windows and Doors is a family company.  Son Michael is the president, son Gary runs the American side of things and daughter Karen handles the marketing.  Family for Pollard Windows however extends beyond the biological.  Reg Pollard learned from his Dad that “we are equally human beings” and Reg adds that the best thing the company has going for it is the loyal staff.  We have people who have been with us for more than forty years and sons of fathers that started with us are now on the payroll.

Their profit sharing program is what has kept unions out of the company.  “There have been five or six attempts to unionize us but the employees prefer the way we run the company and the benefits we provide” adds Reg Pollard.

Pollard Windows has known some tough times but they have grown with the significant growth of housing in the Region and the province generally.  They know who their competitors are and as Reg Pollard will tell you “we’ve never missed an opportunity to take advantage of a discount available to us”.  “We are into JIT” he adds, which is the acronym for Just in Time manufacturing. “The Chinese can fill warehouses full of windows that are a lot cheaper than ours but they can’t react to the instant changes we can make in the manufacturing of our products.”

You get the sense that Reg Pollard, while proud of being named the Entrepreneur of the Year, is just a little bit prouder of being able to beat a competitor.

 

Return to the Front page

Thief looking for cash – leaves fish and chip shop empty handed – gets his picture taken.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 15, 2011  Here’s a criminal who might have thought he had an easy score but after some  effort he had to leave the scene of his crime empty handed – but he did get his picture taken.  If you know this bandit call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)

If you know this thug - call Crime Stoppers.

This all started just after 2:40 a.m. on December 5th, when a male suspect pried open the back door of Thistle Fish and Chips located at 3455 Fairview Street. Once inside, the suspect pried open a locked cash register and a desk drawer to search for cash. The suspect eventually left empty handed.

The suspect was captured on surveillance video and is described as a male, white, 5’7” tall, heavy build, short brown hair, and wore eyeglasses. He was wearing a green undershirt with a beige hooded sweatshirt, a blue jean jacket, black pants and black running shoes with a white emblem.

Assuming the police catch this one, the picture they take – the mug shot – will be a lot clearer.

 

Return to the Front page

Wow! – this is what civic engagement is supposed to be. City’s staffer getting right out there and challenging you to get involved.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011  I am impressed.  The Shape Burlington Report that everyone used during the last municipal election campaign and then sort of got forgotten is back – or at least one of its recommendation is out front and getting very personal..

In her first message to the community, Burlington’s first Public Involvement Coordinator (She goes by the title PIC), Christine Iamonaco said she was “looking forward to working with the public, stakeholders, city staff, and elected officials to make Burlington’s Public Involvement programs and community engagement activities excellent”.  Well they all say that – don’t they? What else are they going to say?  But Iamonaco qualified what she meant by “excellent” by saying that should be “taken to include:  transparent; accountable; meaningful; and engaging – which results in improved decision-making.”  That is a mouthful and if she lives up to just half of it, the city will have gotten great value for the two year contract Iamonaco has.

Christine Iamonaco punched her time clock card on October 1st and started in the the General Manager’s Office. This two-year contract position was established to ensure that the City of Burlington is successful in achieving its public involvement goals. And the newly approved Strategic Plan sets out specific tasks including that a ‘Community Engagement Charter’ be established.  Community engagement charters are a proven and successful model for making the practice of public involvement a regular part of city activities. Public Involvement Charters are in use by many levels of government, non-governmental organizations, corporations, agencies, boards and commissions.  My first task, leading the creation of the Public Involvement Charter, will be accomplished by forming a Community Engagement Charter Team that will create the charter.

What Iamonaco brings to the table:

Christine Iamonaco, taking part in one of her early public engagement events is shown here at the Heritage Worskshop where things got just a little heated at times. She seems to be ready for more - and wants to here from you.

Her experience is based on years of public involvement experience with the public and stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, with the private sector as a consultant and with government.  Her motto is “bringing people and projects together.”  Iamonaco informs us that “projects include plans, community engagement and organizational initiatives. Through my years of practicing public involvement, I have gained an in-depth understanding of removing public involvement barriers and recognizing when and how public involvement should occur. Through my education, I have studied both the theory and practice of public involvement. I have created approaches crafted to suit unique project and community needs. I am a certified Public Participation Practitioner, certified by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). IAP2’s principles are used my many organizations and municipalities, including Burlington.”

Getting the ball rolling

Iamonaco, the city's Public Involvement Coordinator may want to say something about CLOSED council sessions - maybe?

Her first six weeks at the City of Burlington began with face-to-face meetings with the Mayor, Councillors, Shaping Burlington members, the Inclusivity Advisory Committee, senior city staff and the community. She sat in on meetings of the standing committees of council, and attended the Plains Road Corridor Functional Design Public Information Centre, a public meeting and open house, held on November 2, 2011.  I note that she doesn’t say she attended a Council meeting – smart women.  Those things are deadly boring, have a sense of being rushed and convey little in the way of information.  Iamonaco clearly knows when to take part in something and when not to.

Early Findings and Observations:

Iamonaco reports observing three very clear messages. “There is city commitment to bettering the practice of public involvement in Burlington.”

“Improving community engagement means new ideas, even new thinking about delivering and participating in good public involvement activities. That will take the effort of the public, stakeholders, and city staff and council, working together.”

“There are opportunities,” she reports “ and of course challenges, not the least of which is early notification of community engagement plans and activities that offer opportunities for public involvement. Getting the word out about community engagement sounds easy, yet Burlington has some challenges that are unique because of its geographic location between the big news and bigger newspaper markets of Hamilton and Toronto.”

What Lies Ahead?

Achieving improvement in the practice of public involvement begins with the city’s newly approved Strategic Plan, Burlington, Our Future.

Strategic direction three, Excellence in Government, states the city will implement a Community Engagement Charter and appropriate policies and tools to support community relationships.  As stated by a member of Shaping Burlington, a community organization that supports this strategic initiative, “the Charter is the destination, and the process to develop it is the journey.”  I think that developing the Charter offers opportunity for working collaboratively with the public, non-governmental organizations, stakeholders, city staff and elected officials to craft a truly made-in-Burlington approach to community engagement.

Why Develop a Community Engagement Charter?

A community engagement charter is a social agreement that defines the commitment of the city, its staff and council, to conduct good public involvement activities in municipal processes such as: strategic planning; road projects; environmental assessments; budget consultations; voter turnout programs; and community development projects. Ensuring that the Charter has strength can be achieved through endorsement by City Council, and potentially, its adoption as a city policy.  Development of the Community Engagement Charter is also dependent on citizens and stakeholders setting specific engagement objectives, providing ideas, and undertaking review of the Charter’s implementation.

Iamonaco wants you to be involved.  You can do that by being a volunteer of the Charter Development Team!  You can help create the Burlington Community Engagement Charter.  Or you can just provide input on the Charter’s engagement process and content.  Maybe you just want to monitor Charter implementation.

First place you want to go for more detailed information – CLICK HERE.

Christione Iamonaco wants you – and there is the sense that she is going to do whatever it takes to get you to the table.  I think she actually takes prisoners.  If you want to be on her list: CLICK HERE

There will be a series of  Community Engagement Information Sessions:

Monday, January 12, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.,

Aldershot Arena, Community Room, 494 Townsend Avenue

Tuesday, January 17, 7 to 8 p.m.

Mainway Recreation Centre, Auditorium, 4015 Mainway

Thursday, January 19, 7 – 8 p.m.

City Hall, 426 Brant Street Council Chambers (this session will be recorded for webcasting)

Thursday, January  19, 2 to 3 p.m.

City Hall, 426 Brant Street, Room 247

Thursday, January 26, 7 to 8 p.m.

Brant Hills Community Centre and Public Library, Nelson Room

Return to the Front page

The Ho, Ho, Ho man giving you a gift; free parking for three days. Some Brant Street locations seem to have forgotten the holiday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011 They are getting ready to talk about a tax increase of 2 1/2 to 3% with the possibility of it going to more than 4% if they decide to buy all the goodies staff has put before them – but for now your city Council is going to give a bit of a break – FREE parking in the downtown core at all meters and municipal parking lots and the Waterfront Downtown Burlington parking garage on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, the 26th and again on the 27th of December.

Note: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.  The one place that most people will want to go to – especially if the ice skating pond manages to freeze over – and, you guessed it; that one isn’t free.  Now you know what they mean by looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Not much Christmas Spirit at these Brant Street locations. Photo taken December 13th - maybe they are waiting for snow. Burlington Downtown Business Association needs to work on its membership.

I suspect the downtown merchants would have liked city hall to spread that Christmas Spirit a little further and include a couple of days before Christmas Day.  It’s not like downtown Burlington has a tradition of great Boxing Day Sales now is it?

City Hall itself will shut down from Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 and will re-open on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. During this time, a number of city administrative services will not be available.

Parks and Recreation:

This service provider managed to brighten up a display window - and for the most part they don't have walk in traffic. Right Spirit here.

There are many opportunities the whole family can enjoy over the holiday season at city pools, arenas and community centres. Hours of operation and services available vary at each city facility. Call your local pool/arena for specific swim/skate times and check the Tim Horton’s Free Holiday Skate Schedule for skate times available in the Winter Wonderland events schedule.

Transit:

Burlington Transit and Handi-Van service will operate under a holiday season schedule from Dec. 25 through to Jan. 1 and will resume regular operating hours as of Monday, Jan. 2.  For details, please call the automated 24-Hour BusLINE at 905-639-0550 or visit the city’s website at: www.burlington.ca/transit

Roads:

Roads and Parks Maintenance will provide basic and emergency service over the holidays. The office will be closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2012 and will resume regular service on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012

Court offices:

The Provincial Offences Court offices in Burlington and Milton (Halton Court Services) will be closed between Dec. 26 to 28 inclusive, and on Jan. 2, 2012. The Court offices will be open on Dec. 29 and 30. Please note that there will be no court hearings scheduled between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, 2012 inclusive. Justices of the Peace will not be available between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 inclusive.

 

Return to the Front page

Burlington Mayor unable to take part in the Cabaret he created; maintains there is still a place for local MP Wallace.

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011  –  With 18 acts already in the vetting pipeline for the Mayors Cabaret, Our Burlington asked Mayor Goldring: “ Will you be submitting your talent for consideration to the vetting committee that is in place to select the talent for the Mayor’s Cabaret?”  We followed that up by asking: “ Would you expand on which of the many artistic skills you happen to possess?

Mayor Goldring advised Our Burlington that: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to perform at the Mayor’s Cabaret. Since my debut at the Blue Jeans Gala, I have been inundated with requests for my services. I have had to turn down a request to be the opening act for Burton Cummings at Massey Hall, the very evening of the Cabaret. The city comes first however and Burton Cummings has rescheduled.

Our Burlington also asked the Mayor, “is it true that you have instructed the vetting committee for the Mayor’s Cabaret not to accept an application from the Member of the House of Commons for Burlington to take part in the event and further – is it true that this decision is based on the experience at the Blue Jeans Festival ?”

Belting it out for a good cause. The Mayor and some of his staff along with people from the Sound of Music and the Theatre Burlington Board ham it up a bit while promoting the Mayor's Cabaret.Performing Arts Centre Board

“Completely untrue” the Mayor told Our Burlington in an exclusive interview.  The Mayor added that “Our MP will be most welcome to audition for the Mayor’s Cabaret- we are an inclusive city, after all. I am still coaching him daily via Skype, on his song and dance routine timing.  He has had a bit of trouble coming out of his shell. He is pretty conservative so it will likely require a lot more effort to help him change his old habits and realize his potential. After all, the poor guy works in the House of Commons.

The Cabaret, scheduled for February of 2012 has a closing date of January 6th.   The focus for this fund raising initiative of the Mayors, which hopes to raise $80,000 that will go to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, is Burlington talent.

It was evident during the Blue Jeans Gala when The Spoons and Silverstein took to the stage that Burlington has home grown some very significant musical talent.  The Sound of Music Festival has made Burlington one of THE destination events for those who want to take in summer concerts.

The idea for a Cabaret came out of Mayor Goldring’s office before the Blue Jeans Gala took place but what few people knew before the Gala was that the Mayor had legs of his own that he wanted to strut on stage.  The Cabaret idea seems to have brought to the surface a part of his hidden personality that has not been seen before during this first year in office and it certainly wasn’t evident during the election campaign.  Had former Mayor Cam Jackson known of this talent he would never have run against Goldring.

The Cabaret is a partnership between the Mayor and the BPAC along with the Sound of Music people and what the Mayor hopes will be a significant number of corporate sponsors.

The event is open to submissions from entertainers with a preference being given to local artists.  There doesn’t appear to be any limitation.  Mine, acrobats, jugglers singers, bands – whatever you think is entertaining.  More detail is available at:  www.burlington.ca/cabaret

For details on how to participate give noted attorney Gerry Murphy a call at 905-541-0582 or reach out to him at gerardmurphy@bellnet.ca

Tickets to the event are $100.00 which includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions and souvenir sales.  The only thing that is not confirmed at this point is if our local MP will take to the stage again. We hope not.

 

Return to the Front page

Council shows sign of actually understanding what transparency means. Taylor shows how it’s done.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 13, 2011  – They are learning.  Slowly; but it is clear they are trainable.  Your city council wanted to slip into a closed session to discuss levels or merit pay, but John Taylor, Councillor for Ward 3, said he didn’t want to go and he managed to convince the rest of council not to go into closed session.  So they didn’t go into a closed session – but they didn’t talk about the issue of merit pay either.

Kim Phillips, the acting City Manager, explained that the report they had prepared was done with the understanding that it was to be heard in a closed session.  If it was going to be an open session – then staff wanted to pull the report.  The tail is clearly still wagging the dog.

Councillor Taylor argued that much of what was to be discussed had been discussed in public, open session, at the Regional level and he believed Burlington should discuss the issue in public as well.

Acting City Manager Kim Phillips took the position that if everyone was going to hear what was being said - she wasn't going to talk. Council then set the matter of merit pay matters aside

The Acting City Manager dove into the procedural by-law looking for answers – the answer they found there was a little murky – but the decision was made to be open.  And THAT is new for this crowd.  But they are getting there – so pray for them.

Having decided to not go into Closed Session the Committee then ignored the issue; they received and filed it.

Earlier in the week Council, at a Committee of the Whole, heard two reports – in a closed session, related to legal fees, particularly on what has been spent on The Pier.  Councillor Meed Ward has for some time wanted to know just how much has been spent on legal fees as the city sued the various companies involved in the failed phase one part of getting the Pier built.

Councillor Taylor is almost the last council member one would expect to argue about going into closed session - but he did. First time this Council has chosen NOT to go into closed session when that was clearly the wish of senior staff.

One report had to do with a “legal department report regarding disclosure of legal fees” and the second, the legal department’s position on providing quarterly litigation updates.  Both were heard in a closed session by just Council and senior staff.

In her widely distributed Newsletter Councillor Meed Ward said: “I have long advocated that in the interest of accountability and transparency, we should be disclosing to taxpayers legal fees spent on items of public interest, such as the pier litigation. It’s been a matter of public debate whether disclosing current legal fees or future legal budgets reveal a legal strategy and prejudice a municipality’s case. However, as a first step I’m interested in exploring incremental release of previous legal fees, for example fees from, say, two years ago. This could allow reasonable, annual disclosure of fees during lengthy legal proceedings without suggesting future legal strategy.”

What Meed Ward hasn’t done however is mount a spirited drive to get those numbers out into the hands of the public and to – let us say – issue a Staff  Direction requiring the city solicitor to at least explain, publicly, why talking about legal fee specifics can damage a legal case.

The legal department has argued that to report how much has been spent would give away the city’s legal strategy – which looks to me like a lot of poor grade baloney.  To say that the city has paid Weir & Foulds, a prominent Toronto law firm, $296,719,85 (I made up that number but it is no doubt lower than what the city has actually paid the law firm) would in no way reveal any strategy.

The legal department is hiding behind a skirt and not wanting to be open about how much they have spent for fear that the public will really holler when they learn how much has been spent and they don’t want to deal with that plebeian political stuff.   Add to that a level of arrogance that exists within the legal community – and that gets us to where we are.

Your Council is at some point going to have to summon up the courage to create a policy and then stand behind that policy and require all departments to report on what they spend.

Return to the Front page

Christmas is a time to be extra vigilant says fire department. They offer 12 rules that will keep you safe.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 13, 2011 – A house on fire on Christmas day has to be something that has all of us feeling devastated.  And when we read later that there was no smoke alarm – we shake our heads. “With all the hustle and bustle at this time of year it is easy to forget that Christmas trees, candles, decorations and meal preparations for holiday celebrations can increase the risk of fire,” said Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill.

 

She urges people to “keep your friends and family safe by following these simple steps to prevent the most common types of home fires that occur during the holiday season:

Day 1     Water live trees daily

Day 2     Check all sets of decorative lighting to ensure they are in good condition

Day 3     Test smoke alarms

Day 4     Test carbon monoxide alarms

Day 5     Make a fire escape plan with your family so everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs

Day 6     Don’t overload power outlets and use extension cords wisely

Day 7     Position space heaters away from walls, curtains and other flammable materials

Day 8     Make sure all lit candles are put out when you leave the room

Day 9     Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children

Day 10   Watch what you heat! Stay in the kitchen when cooking

Day 11   Ask smokers to smoke outside

Day 12   Keep a close eye on anyone in your household who consumes alcohol while cooking or smoking

“A home fire is particularly devastating during the holidays,” said Cockerill.  Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms every seven years.

Return to the Front page

Council members finally get what they have earned. Now look for the misinformed remarks about the way politicians pay themselves.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON December 13, 2011  –  Well – this time it is actually going to happen.  Your city Council is going to get a pay raise and this time they will accept the money and not make mockery out of the procedure that was put in place to remunerate our city Councillors.

Mayor Goldring reluctantly said “it was time to get this out on the table”.  Back in 2010, when times were tougher than they are today Council decided to take a pass on a pay raise.  They were entitled but they said nope – keep the money.

When there was mention in other media that they were going to get a pay raise – there was all kinds of public yapping.  Much of it uninformed.

The city had put in place a mechanism that determined how much the pay increase would amount to.  The council members themselves had no input on what the amount of a pay increase would be.  Nor did they have any direct input on what the mechanism to be used was.  Using this approach, Council members would get reasonable pay increases, just the way staff at city hall do – but let it be noted that there is no merit pay for Council members whereas there is merit pay for city hall staff.

They work hard, they serve you well; very well for that matter. Pay them what they are worth and insist that they stop playing political football with the economic adjustments that were awarded by a citizens committee.

There are no annual bonuses.  They don’t get paid overtime – and trust me on this one – every one of them earns every dollar they are given.  Council alone is a big enough job – add in their Regional responsibilities – and these men and woman are underpaid.

But in 2010 and 2011 – they weren’t prepared to put up with the public outcry so – for two years in a row they passed – deferred was the word they used, the pay increases they were given.  Note again – they did not give these pay increases to themselves – they follow the mechanism put in place by a citizen advisory board.

Mayor Goldring feels now that not accepting the pay raises that were due in 2010 and 2011 was "perhaps a mistake".

Goldring noted that the deferring in the past two years was “probably a mistake”.

The discussion around the Council horse shoe ranged from Councillor Sharman taking issue with what he called the “ideological approaches” where Council members were saying the money should go to the poor instead or those who took the position that they could afford to go without a pay raise.  He suggested those who felt that way should make a personal statement and give their increase to their charity of choice.

Roy Make, Executive Director Human Resources for the city was asked what people should do if they did not want to accept the pay increase and he replied – “just write me a letter”.

Councillor Meed Ward saw the approach to paying the council members was a pretty blunt instrument and her view was that a 1.5% increase was more in line with her thinking.  She indicated she would be making personal decisions.

Mayor Goldring pointed out that the 3.2% being proposed – based on the mechanism the citizens advisory committee suggested – would amount to 1% for the 2010, 2011 and the 2012 time frames, which is a slick way of saying they are not getting that much in the way of a pay increase.

It is probably time for there to be a new citizen’s advisory board on the matter of remunerating politicians – but that’s another matter than can come up next year under Good Governance.  If they do convene such a committee that group should include in their policy that the funds are given and that a council member cannot refuse.  This making a political football out of what a Councillor is paid is nothing more than political posturing – the sort of thing you expect in small provincial communities.

We will grow up over time.

 

Return to the Front page

Aldershot developer hits a roadblock: planners didn’t see things the way he had hoped they would. Residents win this time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 10, 2011 – The chickens came home to roost for Drewlo Developments and their very large, five, multi-storey buildings on Plains Road.  The city’s Community Development Committee decided Monday evening not to approve an application Drewlo had made for  change in the site plan.

Back in May of this year, Bruce Krushelnicki, the city planner, asked that this situation be “un-delegated”, by which he meant he wanted the authority to make decisions taken out of his hands and have a council committee handle the problem.  And handle the problem they did.

Drewlo had arbitrarily decided not to construct one of the ramps to the underground parking beneath the five buildings.  There were to be five such ramps into the massive parking lot that stretched out underneath all five buildings.

Local residents, led by Robert Copper, claimed the deletion of one of the five ramps would result in a serious traffic congestion in their community: Fairwood Place East and West and Fairwood Hollow, where there are a total of 54 townhouses.  Cooper, who doesn’t have much to say that is positive about Drewlo, told the Council Committee his community strongly supported the recommendation from the Planning department to refuse the developer’s request to amend the site plan so that the ramp would not have to be built.  Cooper wanted the city to direct Drewlo to restore the ramp as set out in the original site plan – and that basically is what they got.

Lawyers for Drewlo produced a very detailed traffic study which they claimed showed that there wouldn’t be any traffic flow that couldn’t be managed.  The Committee didn’t buy that argument.

The ramp: supposed to be five of them, there are just four. That missing ramp is going to have to be put in place - an expensive proposition for the developer..

Those Councillors with a more commercial frame of mind asked if it was possible at this point to restore the ramp.  John McNair, legal counsel for the developer explained that it was possible but that it would be very expensive and very disruptive.   Expensive it will certainly be but it looks as if Burlington has decided to be a bit bloody minded with this developer who, according to Robert Cooper has “bent or broken almost every provision of the site plan agreement since it was approved in 2008.”

Copper went on to say that: “We are not the first community to be bulldozed by Drewlo Holdings…London, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener have all been subjected to their indifference toward city guidelines.

Next step in this process: probably an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board where developers usually hold sway – but this time around a developer who has a reputation of being indifferent to the community might just have met his comeuppance.

As Cooper said the Committee: “The passion and concern of a lot of our residents over more than ten years must be taken into consideration tonight.  We have had enough and therefore urge this committee to uphold the recommendation of the planning department to refuse the request for a revised site plan.

Aldershot residents showed up at every council committee meeting to fight for what they believed was right. Last night they got their first taste of victory.

A large number of residents from the community were on hand to support Cooper.  Most were typical Aldershot residents; quiet, law abiding people who had just had it.  It was a victory they will savour for some time – and should this be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board expect this crowd to come out in force again.

Meanwhile, quite a bit of the construction on the Aldershot Plaza I is at a standstill.

The community was supported not only by the Planning department but also had the whole hearted support of Rick Craven, their Council member who at times during this long drawn out procedure was beside himself over the way Drewlo had behaved.

When the project first came to the city everyone was excited – it meant a big change to the look and feel of Plains Road and had the potential to bring about significant growth in the community.  But the very poor working relationship between the developer and the city resulted in a project that has been mired with one problem after another.  Burlington took a strong position and then stood its ground.  The developer now has to deal with the sting of losing and also with the additional costs.

 

Return to the Front page

Burlington transit ridership increases more than the national level. 5.6% in Burlington; 4.9 elsewhere

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON December 9, 2011  – More people taking the bus – we’re not sure why but the numbers are not only up but they are up more than the national average of 4.9% increase in ridership for the first half of 2011.

Burlington Transit has recorded an  increase of 5.6 per cent in ridership during the first half of 2011.  You certainly see and experience the increase at the bus terminal on John Street.

Rush hour in Burlington at the John Street terminal tells that ridership is rising

Public transit ridership statistics across Canada for the first six months of 2011 showed an increase of 4.9 per cent compared to January to June the previous year, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. The increase in Canadian transit ridership represents an addition of more than 45 million new trips taken by Canadians on public transit in the six-month period, a trend that builds on the growth of previous decades.

In the first six months of 2011, BT’s ridership increased 5.6 per cent over the same period last year.

“We’re thrilled to see Burlington Transit ridership growth ahead of the national average,” said Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, who tends not to take the bus to work. “Public transit is a key element in the preservation of our environment and this council is working hard to increase the level of active transportation in our community”, he added

By the end of June 2011, Burlington Transit reached the milestone of more than 2 million revenue passengers over the 12 months from July 2010 to June 2011 (2,015,452 passengers).

This represents the highest 12-month ridership in 15 years and a 68.6 per cent ridership increase since 1996. During the 15-year period, Burlington’s population grew by 28.3 per cent and Burlington  Transit  service hours increased by 33.5 per cent.

“The long-term growth is crucial,” said Donna Shepherd, Burlington’s director of transit.  She might have added that the increase in ridership assures what the human resources people refer to as “job retention”.  Sheppard ads: Going forward, the 10-year Transit Master Plan, currently underway, will continue to build a strong foundation for future growth.”

No mention of a price increase but the city budget has yet to be struck.

Return to the Front page

Artists manage to convince the city to refund some of the licensing fees. Looking now for a by-law change.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 9, 2011  The Artists and the Bureaucrats met – and the Artists won the more important part of the battle.  With any luck the matter will get to city Council and a stupid rule will get re-written or set aside.

The Background.  Arts in Action, a collective of artists that hold a Studio Tour once a year that gives the public a chance to see what artists in the city have been doing and an opportunity as well to show and sell what they do.

Burlington stained glass artists Teresa Seaton, took her skills to city halland tried to get the bureaucrats to cut up the bill they had to pay for a license to sell their art. She thinks the Art in Action group might manage to get half the fee they paid back.

The city’s Building Department decided to require the artists to apply for a Transient Traders Licence  and charge them fees that amounted to more than $1000.   The artists gulped but felt they didn’t have a choice and ponied up the money. Artists, who don’t have a pay cheque never mind the fat pensions that city hall doles out – felt they had no choice.

Artists in Action (and they were certainly in action on this file) complained and after a suitable delay they got their meeting with the bureaucrats.  Teresa Seaton, co-chair of the Artists in Action, reports that the bureaucrats had decided before the meeting  that “because we were a not-for-profit organization we will have to submit a Transient Trader Licence application two weeks before the event but  we will be exempt from fees.  Now that the city has the Artists in Action “on file” they get goodies.

Seaton further reports: “As far as being reimbursed the fees paid for the 2011 Studio tour that have already been paid – it will be looked into”.  “We came away from the meeting with the impression that we will receive at least half of the $1000. + back.  The rest will apparently get kept by the city for “paper work costs”.   Someone has to pay for all that paper work and the artists learned that this time they get to pick up that tab.

Don Graves, Burlington artist, helped to get the city to look at the plight of a starving artist a little differently. He got half a loaf.

Seaton reports that she and “her wingman” Don Graves, who attended the meeting with her, chose not to argue that point We did go on to argue that we felt forced by the city to obtain these licences under threat of fines being levied against us.

“It was an interesting discussion with the supervisor at city hall. They are now more aware of the plight of us poor struggling artists trying to “Make a profit”.  It is our understanding that a Bylaw review will be done in the next couple years of which we will be advised. As well, they have us on file as an organization that will be consulted as the bylaws are amended.

Seaton adds that:  “We fought the cause for every artist with a showing studio in their own residence. According to the city, these artists would still have to pay this licensing fee since they are not known to have a not-for-profit status.

“Basically”, said Seaton  “we were left with the impression that what the city doesn’t know can’t hurt you. Although this is not the most advantageous solution it will do until the bylaw reviews proceeds. Seaton promises to argue the case of the poor starving artist more strenuously then. She might push for a full refund of the fees they paid for 2011 as well.

The Artists in Action now feel they won’t have to increase their membership fees and are now going forward with their end of December call for the 2012 show.

 

 

Return to the Front page

Handgun thefts and home break ins have Regional police busy.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2011 It was just after 1:00 am when three masked men burst through the front door of a Faversham Avenue home and stormed the bed room of one of  the residents demanding money and drugs.  The resident said there were no dugs in the house and the thieves left.  There were three other residents in the home at the time.

The suspects are described as follows:

White, 5’4” – 5’5,” 120 lbs, wearing all black clothing and white running shoes.

White, 6’4,” thin build, dressed in black.

Black, 6’3” – 6”4,” 150 – 160 lbs

The police would like to find these three. Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

Firearms theft has police worried:

Dangerous weapons stolen from Burlington home. Ammunition was left behind.

The Halton Regional Police Service is investigating the theft of several firearms after thieve(s) broke into a home in the area of Sherwood Forest Park, Burlington.  The break-in occurred on December 5th between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The front door had been forced open. The suspects stole five firearms, all of which were properly licensed and stored by the owner.

Missing are:

• Beretta, 92FS – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• Beretta, 90 TWO – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• SIG Sauer, SP2022 – 40 Calibre, semi-automatic handgun

• CZ75 – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• Bushmaster, XM15E2S, .223 Remington Shot – semi-automatic rifle

Ammunition for the weapons wasn’t taken.  The weapons were in the premises under a licence and are reported to have been properly stored.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘TIP201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

 

Return to the Front page

A chance to take in the Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet Opening on Cogeco cable.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2011  If you missed the Opening Gala of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre last Saturday – and if your allowance was on the small side, the $400. ticket was beyond you – there is still a chance for you to see the swishy folks tippling fine wine and schmoozing like crazy.

Cogeco Cable was all over the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet opening. They will rebroadcast for those who missed the live event.

It was a wonderful evening – the Family Room had a blue glow and there was the buzz of a crowd that is having fun and enjoying themselves.

Cogeco Cable television has five cameras on site and a staff of 14 manning the equipment with their mobile parked outside the building to take the event live.

If you want to watch the event – here are the re-broadcast dates:

December 18, 5:30pm

December 25, 5:30pm

December 27, 10pm

December 29, 8:30pm

Worth taking in – the folks at the Centre really know how to put on a show.  All they need to do now is to develop the audience; they certainly got off to a good start.  And with several SOLD OUT shows in the schedule all the ingredients seem to be in place for a successful operation.  Take that Hamilton!

Return to the Front page

Santa’s helpers – and we’re not talking about a bunch of little elves; big guys who know how to give back.

 

The Ho Ho man himself - didn't let the consistent drizzle lighten even one of his laughs.

 

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 6, 2011  Santa Claus has been coming to town for more than 45 years as part of the annual Burlington Christmas Parade.

The event is the result of the efforts of a community based committee that liaises with the city but is not a city committee.  These guys don’t get as much as a dime from the city.

Message carriers for a gymnastics group - they loved their wigs - so did the crowd.

The city’s Festivals and Events office has two of their people who sit in the seven member committee as liaison but that’s it.

The parade that has more than 65 floats is run by a team of seven people.  They are: Gunther Kaschuba, who has been involved for the past nine years; Don Basingdale, Allan Hale; John Thomblinson; Louise LeBel; Rob Henderson and Robin Kimberley.

Henderson was one of the truck drivers and when the committee member who used to handle the getting of the trucks from different trucking companies around the city – Henderson got the tap on the shoulder and he now handles the trucking stuff.  King Paving has been providing trucks for the parade for a number of years.

Applause is always welcome - you just know this Dad is watching one of his kids or a club he volunteers with -pass by.

Cogeco Cable always does a show on the FYI to promote the parade and then they provide on the street camera coverage of the event.

Kaschuba, who comes across as a chair that is wide open with his committee members – each knows what they have to do – and they just do their jobs, he said.

We get a big boost from Burlington Transit who let us use their transit barn to decorate the floats and get the displays up and in place.

The parade has that warm, fuzzy small town feel to it with people always turning out – even in the light drizzle we had this year.  Kaschubba did say that one of the bands dropped out a few days before the parade – the threat of heavy rain wasn’t something they wanted to deal with.

“We get people who do the same thing every year.  Don Warwick has been coming out for as long as I can remember in that suit of armour” said Kaschuba.  The kids love it.  This year there was a little girl in pink sitting on the curb, totally transfixed by the man in a suit of armour striding down the street.

Hoofing it!

Patiently waiting.

The parade operated on a budget of between $12 and $15 thousand with funds coming in from sponsorships, parade entry fees.  “We have two fee levels; one for community groups and another for the commercial community” explained Kaschuba.

And he added, the project is a Rotary Club initiative as well with all four Burlington Rotary Clubs taking part.

But the parade committee has to pay for the garbage pickup after the parade and the setting up and taking down of the traffic barricades.  The Burlington Teen Tour Band participation doesn’t cost the parade group anything.  “We were particularly grateful for their participation this year – those people went home just a little on the damp side this.

The Santa sleigh is rented from people in Hamilton.

If you’ve a hanker to help or think your organization could sponsor a float or your group take part in the parade – make a note that applications have to be in before early November and space is made available on a first come, first served basis.

For an application package and further details, visit www.burlington.ca. Go to the Events and Promotions section, Major Events and click on the Christmas Parade. The cost to enter the parade is $35 for not-for-profit organizations and $100 for businesses.

Bruce Marsh of the Burlington Old Timers Hockey Club manages those guys who walk along the edge of the parade with old socks attached to the ends of hockey sticks asking for loonies or twoonies to help defray the cost of the parade.

Community service at its very best.

Return to the Front page

A quick quiz and a $1 off coupon for a burger purchase; part of the Halton police high school RIDE program.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 7, 2011 – Nelson High School students got a chance to learn just what happens when there is more alcohol in your system than the legal limit and a police officer asks you to walk a straight line.

Part of the training session included a quick quiz that was set out in a different news story that you can find at: https://www.burlingtongazette.ca/?p=5920

Two Nelson high school students do their best to stay on the green line wearing Fatal Vision goggles during a Halton Regional Police RIDE program.

Here are the answers to the ten questions the students were asked:

Question 1      False

Question 2      False

Question 3      True

Question 4      False

Question 5      False

Question 6      False – A G1 has to have a qualified driver with them – and being drunk means you’re not qualified – bit tricky that one.

Question 7      False

Question 8      False

Question 9      False – the licence is suspended for a period of 90 days

Question 10    True – but if you’re drinking and driving and the police have the evidence – there isn’t a lot your lawyer can do for you.

The students will have had problems with some of those questions – the media officer we went to for the answers had to look up the answer on more than one occasion.

Male students at Nelson High had just as much difficulty as female students trying to stay on the green line while wearing Fatal Vision goggles.

They also got a very up close experience with a breathalyzer and came away with a firm understanding of what the police do if they pull you over and ask you to blow.  And in the quick quiz the students did later in the training session they got to learn what they knew and didn’t know about the rules in place to control driving if you’ve been drinking.

It was a bit of fun and they got to laugh at their friends while they tried to walk the green line set out on the gymnasium floor.  None of them could stay on the line and most were nowhere near the line.

The day was part of the Regional Police RIDE program that had police officers at several regional high schools as well as being out on the streets with their cruisers pulling drivers over to politely ask if the driver had been drinking.  If there was any concern on the part of the police officer – the driver would be asked to breathe into a breathalyzer and perhaps try to walk a straight line.  Failure to do either of the requests and they are placed in a cruiser and taken to a police station.

The vast majority of people have not been drinking, although this year on the first day of the program in Burlington, three people were charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

For those that are clear the police hand out a small card, created by grade four and five students in regional schools.  The card does drive the message home.

Return to the Front page