City opens kimono – wasn’t much to see. Did we misunderstand the objective? Thought we were going to get a peek.

We have ream upon ream of data that sits on computer hard drives or servers - Burlington wants to let the public at some of it - instead of it all going down some kind of a tunnel to information never, never land.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  – December 7, 2011 – The City of Burlington has launched an open data pilot project as part of its developing e-Government strategy, making interacting with the city online easier and more convenient for residents and businesses in Burlington.  Huh!  How does a list of all the parks in the city – there are 127 of them with a notation as to whether there is parking and washroom facilities, get defined as Open Data or e-government?

During public consultations on the city’s e-Government strategy, survey respondents and focus group participants called for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats.

I think people wanted to know:  How much public money the council members spend on entertainment.  How much the city has spent on legal fees for The Pier. Which wards have the most roads that are badly in need of repair.  Why it has taken so long to complete the cut over from one telephone system to another – city bought a new telephone system.  Why do some development applications slide through in literally minutes while others get tangled up for months on end with the public never being fully aware of just what is going on.

I could go on for some length.

“This project is a great example of how participation and input from the public can improve the way the city delivers information,” said Mayor Rick Goldring.  “I believe the open data pilot project can inspire and create new opportunities for enhanced service delivery. It also demonstrates the city’s commitment to corporate transparency and accountability.”

This is really creative “happy talk” – almost as bad as the beads and whisky we used to give the Indians.

The city’s open data pilot project gives the public online access to raw, machine-readable information so interested users can reuse the data for research and analysis or combine with other available municipal data to develop web-based applications for public use.

There is some truth to that – but what the Information Technology in Burlington have done is really very timid stuff.

e-government is the latest buzz word being used by municpal administrators. Will it help ypou with the information you need? Don't bet on it - this is all very experimental.

The pilot project will make datasets available for the city’s parks and recreation facilities. This will include information such as park location, number and type of on-site facilities, services and amenities offered as well as recreation and leisure attributes like trails, sports fields and courts.

“Making raw data available for public usage and new application development is just one of the ways we are embracing information technology to evolve our customer service practices,” said Christine Swenor, director of IT services. “We are optimistic that the information we make available will be used to create web applications that can benefit residents of Burlington and beyond.”

We will believe this when we see it – we’d love to see it.

The open data portal is available at www.burlington.ca/opendata. The pilot phase will take place over a six-month period, during which time the city will explore further opportunities to provide users with additional datasets.

We are a little underwhelmed with this first wave of data sets – but let’s give them some time and see what they do – but if this is the level of “open data” Burlington will get passed by everyone else on the information highway.

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High school students get to see what happens when driving while under the influence of alcohol. Wasn’t pretty.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  December 7, 2011  – Nelson High School students – all 1500 of them were in the hands of the Halton Regional Police for a good part of Tuesday morning.  They were being taken through some “experiential training” on what happens to a person when their drinking has gone over the legal limit.

The experience was a bit of a shock to many of them.

This is the one thing you do not want to see should you be pulled over by the police. The smile on Cst. Mike Korda is nice enough - but that little grey box is not good news. If you don't drink and drive Korda will be your buddy.

Halton Regional Police have been attending at Halton high schools and showing students what breathing into the breathalyzer was all about; what happens to their bodies when they have consumed alcohol and are asked by a police officer to step out of the car and attempt to walk in a straight line and then to write a short quiz on what the rules are when it comes to drinking and driving.

Many of the parents of these students can remember a day when it was very common to say to a guest at a house party to “have one for the road” which meant you threw back a drink, thumped your chest and got behind the wheel.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought a very painful and realistic look to what happens when people drink and drive and as a result of their efforts we see programs like the one at Nelson High School.

HRPS Cst. Mark Vegso holds the "Fatal Vision" goggles students at Nelson High experimented with earlier this week. It was a strong lesson.

Each year the Halton Regional Police roll out their RIDE program – this year HRPS arrested three people for drunk driving on the first day of the program.  Seems like we have some distance to go yet before we rid ourselves of this menace.

The police take their rotating RIDE crews around the Region and stop traffic, ask drivers if they have been drinking, and if they suspect any use of alcohol they invite the driver to breathe into the little grey box and see if they can walk a straight line.

If the driver can’t – their car is impounded and they get taken to the police station.

Cst. Mark Vegso is one of the Regional police officers who is assigned to a high school, in his case it is a school in Oakville, where he handles small discipline situations, trespass problems and is in the school regularly to keep an eye on things and to also serve as a contact for students who want to talk to a police officer but don’t want to go to a police station.  Cst. Vegso also teach some law classes in the school.

Failure to provide a breath sample is also a criminal offence.  The police officers doing the training make the experience very, very realistic – there is little doubt in the mind of the student just what they are being asked to do and why.  Many of the students must have walked away from the breathalyzer table shuddering with the thought if they are ever asked to blow into the little grey box – they are in serious trouble.  The objective is that hopefully they will look for a lift before getting behind a wheel if they’ve been drinking.

The goggles used to experience what it is like to be asked to walk a straight line with alcohol in your body.  The goggles, which are made in Mexico and referred to as “Fatal Vision” goggles cost $1000. each.  But they do the job.

Staying on that green light with goggles that simulated an alcohol level over 70 was not quite as easy as this young lady thought it was going to be.

The students found that they could not walk a straight line – more frightening to all of them was that they couldn’t really see the line – it was just a blur and kept moving out of their field of vision.  The goggles used to simulate a situation where the user was slightly under the legal limit resulted in a scary experience.  The goggles used to simulate situations where the user was well over the limit – like 2.0 and up – made it very clear that driving with that much alcohol in you would result in your death or that of someone else you ran into.  And there was no doubt – you could not operate a car effectively or safely with that much alcohol in your system.  It was a pretty blunt message.

One wonders what these students said to each other as they gathered in the cafeteria for lunch with their lap tops open in front of them.  The Regional police  wondered and at the end of the training sessions – they left hoping they’d done the job.

Part of the training session included a quick quiz on drinking and driving.  Test results and more on the RIDE program are at: https://www.burlingtongazette.ca/?p=5937

 

1: The legal limit of alcohol to be present in your blood while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is 100.  T/F

2: The legal limit for a G1 or G2 driver is 50.  T/F

3: A person can be charged with impaired driving after smoking marijuana.  T/F

4: It is acceptable for open alcohol to be inside your car. T/F

5: It is not a criminal offence to be intoxicated in the driver’s seat.. T/F

Friends look on a Nelson High student tries to keep his feet on the green line while using "driving under the influence of alcohol testing goggles".

6: G drivers who are accompanying G! drivers can be intoxicated while in the passenger seat. T/F

7: A person charged with Over 80 must always be charged with Impaired Driving. T/F

8: A person can refuse to provide a legally demanded breath sample and not be charged for refusing to provide a breath sample. T/F

Nelson High students write the ten question quick quiz. How would you have done with the test? Try it.

9: Upon being charged with Refusal or Over 80, a person’s driver’s licence shall be suspended for a period of 30 days. T/F

10: A police officer shall read you your rights to counsel upon arrest for Over 80. T/F

 

Being charged with any kind of a drinking related offence and found guilty will impact your driver’s licence – which is nothing compared to what it is going to do to your insurance rate.  While you may be allowed eventually to drive again – you may not be able to afford to – and if the car you were driving belonged to your  parents – they are not going to be very sympathetic.

Drinking is not a crime – just do so responsibly.

 

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Police record third traffic fatality in the Region for 2011

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  Burlington recorded its third traffic fatality for 2011 when Henry John Grasso of Brantford, Ontario was pronounced dead at the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital after being taken their by Emergency Measures Services after being struck by an automobile at the intersection of Appleby Line at Harrison Court, just north of Dundas Street.

An initial investigation has revealed that the pedestrian, a 51 year old Brantford man, was walking eastbound in the north crosswalk when he was struck by a northbound Nissan Maxima.  The operator of the Nissan, a 25yr old Burlington man and his passenger, a 22 year old Oakville woman were not injured.  The woman however was treated at the scene for shock by paramedics.

Due to this being a fatality, members of the Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) were called in to take carriage of the investigation.  The intersection was closed for over 5 hours while Reconstructionists collected evidence and measured the scene.

This is the 15th traffic fatality to occur on roadways patrolled by Halton Regional Police for 2011, and the 3rd to occur in the City of Burlington.

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New city manager takes a pay cut to come to Burlington where he can ride his bike to work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  Burlington’s new city manager, he gets the keys to his office January 30th, leaves London, Ontario with a sigh of relief and delighted, we think, to be out of a job that was a mess and looking to get messier due to being led by a city Council that had what my Mom called “eyes bigger than my belly”.

Jeff Fielding is coming to Burlington as the City Manager leaving London, a city that is more than twice Burlington’s size.

Fielding’s career has taken him through an ever-increasing responsibilities in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Kitchener and then London.  Fielding will move from managing a budget here that reached $718 million to one in Burlington barely one-quarter that size.

Jeff Fielding, coming to Burlington as the new city manager, will get to know his staff and develop close working rlationships with a team he will want to refurbish a bit. Expect to meet a very relaxed man - delighted to be in Burlington and away from a city council that had difficulties with big investments on a tax rate the Mayor in London, ON didn't want to see rise.

Fielding is quoted as saying:  “I’ve got a family and they need my time and that’s one of the great things about being in a mid-sized (city).” Fielding leaves a post that paid him $264,000 in salary and taxable benefits last year, for one that last year paid $217,000.

In 2004 Fielding became London’s fifth city manager in two years, taking over a city hall in turmoil, some of its top managers at each others’ throats and a culture of distrust between politicians and bureaucrats.  The fiscal task here was mammoth: Council had spent the city deeply into debt and discipline was needed to right the ship.  Fielding helped restore a sense of calm and purpose with a low-key, direct style and a preference for compromise over confrontation.

While there were sometimes rumblings behind doors about a tense relationship between Fielding and his top lieutenant, former finance chief Vic Cote, the two put aside differences in council to set politicians down a path of spending restraint.

Cote retired last year and now Fielding will soon be gone, leaving London council without the steady hands of the past as politicians struggle to achieve the goals and visions of Mayor Joe Fontana, who has promised tax freezes and called for massive investment in projects downtown and along the Hwy. 401.

With that kind of experience under his belt Fielding should have no trouble at all whipping Burlington’s finances into shape real fast and coming up with a way to resolve the 68% that we are short on our infrastructure budget.

Former city manager Tim Dobbie may not have much time to put his feet up as he replaces the London city manager who resigned in London to work for Burlington. These guys play musical chairs.

Tim Dobbie, who was city manager in Burlington for a period of time under Mayor MacIsaac, has been hired by London to manage things over there until they have a replacement hired.  Dobbie left Burlington for health reasons –

London councillor Joni Baechler described Fielding as ”a fine, dedicated and humble individual that led us to really get our financial house in order. I am concerned that without that steady hand a lot of things can be potentially at risk.”

“It’s tough to be a top manager when council’s expectation is that you’ll be a superman. There are some goals that are irreconcilable, so there had to be a sense of frustration that comes with that task,” Baechler said.

It looks as if Fielding is leaving pastures that had a lot of muck in them and coming to Burlington, where there will be a lot less grief in his day to day life.  He has been to Burlington on a few occasions and ridden around town on his bike.  One council member is very keen on the man and thinks Fielding is exactly what the city needs and described him as a man who understands and has a commitment to customer service.

That will be nice.

Burlington has some problems within the upper reaches of it staffing hierarchy that Fielding will want to resolve quickly – once he’s got his team tightened up and in place – it could be five years of pretty smooth sailing for the man.  Ideally an opportunity for Burlington to re-orient itself from a city that has in the recent past relied heavily on development charges for revenue to one that prepares for a twenty year stretch of caring for an older population and at the same time moving the city further up the economic food chain and attracting companies to the city that are more into the hi-tech field.  That should be a cinch for this guy – but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

 

 

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Santa didn’t need snow to do his thing; he didn’t want the rain, but that didn’t dampen spirits.

 

The Sea Cadets know all about water and they dealt with the light drizzle the way everyone else did - they just put up with it and continued to march smartly.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  –  It was a drizzly day but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from lining Guelph Line and New Street as the Santa Clause parade worked its way through the city with wide eyed little boys and girls taking in all the sights.  And sights there were.

It's a Christmas message that often gets forgotten as we hustle and bustle through the malls. "and he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

The only thing that wasn’t there was a camel with three wise men walking behind the thing.

Hearing Jingle Bell then Silent night on steel drums - was a pure delight.

All the usual suspects – The Lions, the Rotary, Crime Stoppers, Regional Police and representation from half a dozen religious groups and bands from the high schools as well.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band, a little soggy and bedraggled by the end of the parade were placed just in front of the Big Guy with the red suit who brought it all to a close.

While it was "cap in hand" the Mayor was out there with a hockey stick and a sock raising funds. Thought to be the only member of Council in the parade.

The Mayor was spotted walking along with a hockey stick that had a sock attached to the end of it – a fund raiser.

The Burlington Gymnastic Club put their talent out on the street and did things with their bodies that made many parents look on in amazement as they watched what these well trained young girls could do.

Residents lined the streets to watch the floats pass by and use the time to chat with their neighbours.

And, typical of Burlington, parents and neighbours gathered in small groups at the end of those streets that accessed New Street and sipped coffee and held their umbrellas in place.  One street had a small BBQ set up with a propane tank in place.

Clogging up the Woodward and Guelph Line intersection - this band was just great.

The Mayor seemed to be the only politician taking part – but we didn’t catch every float – so perhaps they were at the front of the line.

A little worse for the drizzling rain, the Burlington Teen Tour Band colour party kept the flags flying as they escorted Santa and his sleigh through the streets of the city

That suit of armour has the little girl in pink to the left absolutely amazed

Robinson High School band - beat a nice military sound and certainly enjoyed themselves.

The Bayhawks Soccer Club played a bit of a pick up game as they worked their way down Guelph Line.

 

 

 

 

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Burlington Performing Arts Centre does it up right with a Gala to be remembered.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2010  Whew! – That’s the sound from the staff at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre as they recover from a hectic week that saw Gordie Tapp take to the stage and the Prime Minister of Canada meet with the Burlington Teen Tour Band. Then have his picture taken with more than 50 dignitaries and on Saturday evening, pull off a Gala event with international class entertainment on the Main Theatre stage.  The Family Room turned into an enchanting place wrapped in a blue glow that saw not only Sarah McLaughlin rule the stage, but a pair of acrobats come out of nowhere to delight the close to 700 people in the place.  The really neat Jazz Quartet sounded great but most of the audience didn’t seem to take to them all that well.

It was the last of the “soft opening” schedule the Centre put on to get the $40 million place opened up, operational and running smoothly.

Cogeco Cable treated the event as a major community special and had their two lead Burlington reporters on hand for the event. Deb Tymstra and Mark Carr did basically end to end coverage. Here Mayor Goldring waits to go "on camera".

Cogeco Cable made it a big event with five camera crews, 14 people and the mobile at the back of the building broadcasting the whole event live.

This was an event that was perhaps as big an event as the Centre will see in the next 12 to 18 months.  Sarah McLaughlin cost close to a King’s ransom and the two acts that were put on during the lead up time in the Family Room were not cheap but it did show that the people who run the Centre know how to do it right.  The Prime Minister in his remarks on the Friday talked of culture and the arts being a vital part of every growing community and something the federal government supports with funding programs.

Burlington has opened a new centre while Toronto is looking for a way to get rid of several city owned entertainment venues that are seen there as an expense rather than a revenue generator for the city.

Few restaurants in the city have yet to take up the idea of putting together packages that allow guests to get in for dinner and still make it to a performance and then serve as a spot where people gather after an event.  One restaurant, literally across the street from the Centre, didn’t appear to even be open on Saturday.

The net worth of the people in the Centre Saturday was more than it cost to build the place and they were certainly making the best of the opportunity to meet and greet one another.  Our Mayor was out there meeting new people, chatting up those he already knew.  City Council was not out in full force.  Marianne Meed Ward was there as was Rick Craven of Ward 2 accompanying his daughter who looked absolutely lovely.

BPAC executive Director Brenda Heatherington would make the cover of Vogue magazine with this dress. This was her night which she celebrated with 700 of the most important people in town.

Executive Director Brenda Heatherington was divine in a full length emerald green gown with her hair swept up giving her a Vogue magazine look many would envy.

The Family Room at the BPAC had a bit of a Winter Wonderlude look to it as 700 people congregated to socialize and get caught up with friends before watching Sarah McLaughlin take to the stage.

Burlington is one of a number of cities that have built cultural venues in their downtown cores and now need to find the right formula to operate the buildings with a subsidy their city coffers can afford.  Hamilton has lost millions on their HECFI operation which recently went through a brutal management shakeup.  Burlington expects a much better experience than Hamilton has had and most believe the city has the right staff team in place to make it all come together financially and at the same time put on events that work for the people who live here.

The Christmas Nut Cracker Suite is sold out – they probably could have added an additional performance.  The Vinyl Café (that CBC program that takes to the road with Stuart Maclean telling the ups and down of Dave, his wife Morley, their two children, Sam and Stephanie and assorted friends and neighbours) – added a performance to the schedule and is still sold out.

Small cultural groups in the city rent the space and they are finding that the appetite for their offerings is strong.  Jacob Moon, who has a big following, is back for a second performance in the Community Studio Theatre.

While Toronto and its Mayor create a task force to look into a fire sale of three city-owned theatres, officials in at least six municipalities in the province have opened or will soon open theatres they hope will improve the economic prospects of their downtown’s and provide a cultural rejuvenation as well.

Brampton, Richmond Hill, Barrie, Cambridge and St. Catharine’s have either approved new projects or are, like Burlington, now in full operational mode.

This flow of public money created jobs and, as the Globe and Mail put it, provided comfortable seats for the comfortable classes.  The $400 price tag for the Burlington Gala certainly proved that statement.

Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring says studies indicated local and regional economies would see significant economic spin-off,  with the expected money spent on transportation, dining, drinking, accommodation, shopping and nearby attractions. Locating the theatre downtown and within walking distance of other businesses was always central to the plan, he says.

While the dollars and cents part of the Centre is critical what so far seems to be working for Burlington is a certain buzz about the place. As Goldring said to a reporter: “We are competing with the whole of the GTA as a place to live, work and locate businesses. It’s been proven that businesses are attracted to communities where people want to live. Culture, health care and education are the three most important factors for people deciding where to live”.

Deb Tymstra, entertainment and arts reporter for Cogeco Cable looks out over the Family Room with Allan Pearson, Chair of the BPAC Board. It was an especially big night for Tymstra who was involved with the development of the Centre since its very beginning.

In the past 18 months Burlington has added the McMaster DeGroote School of Business and now the Performing Arts Centre to the horizon.  Serious thinking is about to be given to finding some way to build prime office space above the parking lots on lower Brant and John Streets.

Gary McCluskie, a principal at Toronto’s Diamond and Schmitt Architects designed the theatres in Burlington, Cambridge and St. Catharines, and had a hand in Toronto’s own Four Seasons opera house, says each of the new halls strives to both add to and draw from street life on the sidewalk by featuring expansive windows that try to bring large lobbies out onto the sidewalk, and vice versa. “The arts are about building and binding communities, so we made the buildings engaging and inviting,” said  McCluskie in a news report.

By using windows instead of walls, McCluskie hopes to open up events that have had a reputation for exclusivity since Europe’s grand opera houses went up, brick by brick. “We have highlighted the sense of occasion, and used it as a draw,” says McCluskie.

The firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects, has done a lot of work in Burlington.  They were heavily involved in the development of the Spencer Smith Park and have put together many of the ideas for the development of rejuvenation of the Beachway Park that is now back in the limelight.

Burlington’s  performing arts centre staff hope they can create the kind of business that Richmond Hill is experiencing where Michael Grit has been theatre manager at that city’s Centre for the Performing Arts since it opened on Yonge Street in 2009. Grit says: “Our schedule is insane. I turn away more business than I book. We have only twelve dark days for the first six months of 2012. I’m already booking dates in 2016.”

BPAC staff must surely like words like that.

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Prime Minister visits Burlington; goes big time with photo-ops. Everyone gets their picture taken.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 3, 2011  –  History was made in Burlington Friday afternoon.  For the first time ever, since Confederation, if MP Mike Wallace is to be believed, a Prime Minister of Canada visited Burlington.  And what do you think he did?  He met with the Burlington Teen Tour Band for quite a while and then stood before the sterling citizens of the city and lied to them, not once, but twice.  Then had his picture taken with anyone who could stand.

Then he had his picture taken with anyone who chose to stand beside him and smile.  It was a scene that had the security people wanting to pull out their hair.

Getting the Prime Minister to Burlington is probably the biggest thing MP Mike Wallace has done for the city. Wallace on the left with Mayor Goldring on the right - all wearing their best smiles.

Everyone was crowded around the PM with five at my count, young RCMP officers with their suit jackets slightly open revealing the Glock revolvers on their hips and the identification badges in the belts, just like on television.  They formed a totally porous barrier around the Prime Minister while the man in charge of security for the visit prowled the gallery around the Community Studio Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  While few people knew it, there were not less than ten very powerful guns on the hips of people in that room.  Security for people like Prime Minister Harper is very serious business and for a short period of time Friday afternoon it was just a little on the shabby side.

The big money donours to the Performing Arts Centre had front row seats reserved for them.

The national news media had their cameras arrayed at the back of the room where reporters from CTV, CBC, the Sun News organization and the Globe and Mail asked their questions.  This was big time stuff.

This was BIG TIME stuff for Burlington - national media were on hand to record the event.

The first question came from a CTV reporter who wanted to know what the Prime Minster had to say about the helicopter flight defence minister Peter Mackay arranged for himself to get back to work from a vacation trip he was on at a remote fishing set up on the Gander River in Newfoundland.  “He was on legitimate government business” replied the Prime Minister.  Wait a minute, I thought – that’s not true.

Prime Minister counts the votes as he poses with Burlington residents during his visit to the city to formally open the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Little white lie there Mr. Prime Minister?  These things happen – but once wasn’t enough.  The last reporter to ask a question was from CBC and she started by saying she wanted to go back to the McKay use of that helicopter – she got basically the same answer.  There is however email out there from armed forces Colonels indicating that the helicopter ride the Minister of Defence got wasn’t really taking care of business.  The public isn’t stupid – so when the Prime Minister tells a little white lie twice – they get the picture, these guys are not to be trusted.  But, what the heck, he’s a celebrity so you get your picture taken with the guy.

I thought the Prime Minister stood for all that was great in us.  Did I miss something?

Ward 5 Councillor has his picture taken with the Prime Minister. Will it show up on his campaign literature in the next election. Sharman's literature - not the PM's.

City General Manager Kim Phillips cozied up to the PM, smiled her best smile and click, click – picture taken.  Chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee Nick Leblovik was made “whole and complete” when he had his picture taken with the PM.  Nick is a lifelong Tory and for the Tories having your picture taken with the PM is on a par (no pun intended) with dying and going to heaven.  It’s no different with the Liberals – you can remember the way people fawned over Pierre Trudeau when he was alive.  We treat these people as if they are celebrities instead of seeing them as stewards who have taken on the responsibility of running public affairs.

It is the way we the public handle the politicians that gets us all in trouble – bit I digress.  The Prime Minister was in town and that was history for Burlington.  He arrived earlier in the day to take a tour of the EcoSynthetix plant on Mainway.  This is a company that chose to move its head office operations from Michigan to Burlington where they now have their research and product development offices and have production facilities in Holland.

EcoSynthetix Inc., a renewable chemicals company that produces a family of commercially proven bio-based products, commissioned a new 80 million pound production line within their existing facility in Oosterhout, The Netherlands, bringing the Company’s current annualized capacity to 155 million pounds. It is the first of two new 80 million pound lines that the Company expects to bring on line by the end of the year. The new Oosterhout line was completed on time and on budget.

Prime Minister listens intently to a guest at the "official" opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre while security hovers.

“Having additional capacity in our Netherlands facility puts us in a stronger position as we build our customer base globally,” said John van Leeuwen, Chairman and CEO of EcoSynthetix. “The strength of our mill trial activity gives us the confidence to continue to build capacity to ensure that we have the capability to meet customer needs. With performance parity relative to competitive products, a significant price advantage and an extremely cost-pressured end market, we believe it is a matter of “when” rather than “if” large-scale adoption of our ECOSPHERE® BIOLATEX® binder takes place within the coated paper and paperboard market.”

Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall gets into the picture and gets snapped with the PM. He was one of more than 50 people who did Burlington's equivalent to a Red Carpet.

The new line employs the latest state-of-the-art emulsifier technology, providing EcoSynthetix with higher throughput and improved margins relative to its original two lines. The Company’s fourth line is expected to be installed later this year in Tennessee, bringing the total annualized production capacity to 235 million pounds.

The installation of the Oosterhout line follows on the heels of EcoSynthetix commissioning its BIOLATEX® binder pilot plant located at the Company’s Centre of Innovation in Burlington, Ontario. The pilot plant is being used for research and development purposes to support new product development. It supports the Company’s plans to further penetrate the paper and paperboard industry and expand into new markets, as it continues to displace petrochemical polymers with a low cost, bio-based alternative.

This is the type of industry Burlington has been itching to get for some time and their being able to attract the Prime Minister to their plant puts them in a different league than any other company on Mainway.

 

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We have a new city manager who seems to have a sense of humour and pretty attractive toe nails.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 3, 2011   They did it surprisingly quickly.  Your city Council with the help of an outside human resources consultant, the city of Burlington hired Jeff Fielding, the current City Manager of London, as the new City Manager of the City of Burlington.  Mr. Fielding will assume his new responsibilities on Jan. 30, 2012.

Right: Burlington's new city manager, Jeff Fielding, comes to us from London, Ontario

In the baffle gab that Mayors feel they have to write, Mayor Goldring said: “This is an important leadership role within the municipality and we are delighted to have attracted broad interest from top candidates across the country.  Jeff was selected for his deep municipal sector experience, his vision for delivering public value in the provision of municipal services and for his proven leadership in citizen-based processes and we look forward to him leading our organization.”

These are indeed all the things the Mayor and his Council wanted in a city manager and hopefully that is what we have hired.

Fielding has been the City Manager of the City of London for the past eight years.   Prior to going to London, he was the CAO of the City of Kitchener, where he was born and raised.  He has also served as an acting executive officer with the City of Calgary, where he was responsible for Protective Services, Community and Social Services, and Parks and Recreation.

Fielding is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, where he obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in urban geography and urban planning.  He began his work in municipal government in 1978.  He worked briefly in Ontario, and following his graduation, he then moved to Alberta to begin a career in regional and city planning.  Along the way he has worked in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary and Kitchener where he has held a variety of managerial and corporate positions.

Fielding certainly got around; says he “look forward to working with my new colleagues to deliver on the priorities and achieving the vision that the mayor and council have set for Burlington,”   Pretty much what you’d expect him to say.

Jeff Fielding, coming to Burlington as the city's new city manager appears to have a pretty good sense of humour. Getting his toe nails done at what looks like a fund raising event. At least we hope that's what it is.

The city had about a dozen significant applications and narrowed it down to three people, one of whom was current general manager community services, Scott Stewart. Mayor Goldring and all six members of council participated in the search process with support from Organization Consulting Limited.

In the municipal world they seem to take in each others laundry.  London, Ontario Mayor Joe Fontana, in announcing the resignation of Jeff Fielding and bidding him well on his move to Burlington added that Tim Dobbie will take over the job of city manager on an interim basis pending recruitment of a permanent City Manager. Dobbie was city manager during the MacIsaac administration and left the city for personal health reasons.   He has in the past worked for London on their ongoing review of their organizational structure.

Dobbie’s recruiting organization had bid on the contract to oversee Burlington’s search and hire for a new city manager.

 

 

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They had a ball – it was noisy, it was serene, the Mayor was TERRIBLE but it was a fun night.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 2, 2011 – It was an interesting evening.

Here is what we know.

The Mayor cannot play the piano but Rob Preuss plays the piano very, very well.

We know that Iranians wear red socks.

We know that while Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament, can dance better than most people expected, but he can’t sing.

We know that Gordie Tapp has still got it.

We know that the Spoons can still do it.

We know that the Silverstein’s, a band that has a sound that isn’t to my particular taste (that’s my age showing) but man do they ever have energy.

Sandy Horne seemed to own the stage as she prowled around with her guitar and signature hat - the Spoons were back in town doing what they started out doing in 1979. Great stuff!

Where did all this knowledge come from?  It was the second to last show of the several month long opening of the brand spanking new Burlington Performing Arts Centre – and the community has certainly taken to the place.

It was “home town” hokey night with several exceptional pieces, as well as a couple that we can forget about.  Robert Stephen, performist with the National Ballet, did a short but touching dance piece that he choreographed himself, accompanied by a woman playing the violin that was close to divine – that would apply to the woman and the violin.

Jian Ghomeshi, CBC  personality and host of Q got convinced to MC the event when he saw the line up and he did his best to let Burlingtonians know that Farsi is the language Persians use and that there are some very nice Persians who come from Iran.  Burlington didn’t care – we are still working our way into diversity – we were just happy to see him up there introducing act after act of our own people.

The male lead in “Billie Elliott”, Miles Erlick, was on the stage with a young local dancer Addison Holley  – he can certainly dance.

And right in there with anything that happens in Burlington was the BTTB – the Burlington Teen Tour Band. They marched through the place as if they owned it – and perhaps they do.

Remember that smile - Gordie Tapp was on the stage in the town he has called home since 1952. He was at his best.

But it was when the man who got a standing ovation from the audience, just by looking at them, came on the stage that the evening took on a different tone and feel.  Everyone knew they were watching one of the great Canadian entertainers.  Gordie Tapp is right up there with Wayne and Shuster

Tapp, who is a consummate pro, still doing the show business circuit, was clearly the star of the evening in, as he informed us, his 90th year.  What I think most people didn’t know was that the hat he wore for years on his television program Hee Haw, was given to him by the late Jimmy Durante – and if you don’t know who he was – well you missed out on another great one.

Tapp told jokes that only he could get away with and the audience lapped up every second of it.

The evening started with that riveting cardinal red stage curtain opening – this was big time – then out popped – to our surprise – the Mayor and the MP.  Not another political speech about how great Burlington was and what a great building we had – please.  Nope – not this time.  These two clowns had gone into show business and they were there to perform for us – and, well let’s just say they are not going to give up their day jobs.

Rick Goldring, our Mayor had taken piano lessons, and in the second half, very innocently asked if he could play something for us – and decent people that we are – we said – sure.  JQ summed it up as well as it could be summed up – it was TERRIBLE.  Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament didn’t help with his rendition of Gene Kelly doing that classic piece “Singing in the Rain”  It should have rained on that parade, but it was all in family fun – for that’s kind of what it worked out to be.  A community, that got together as a family  recognizing and celebrating its own, in a building that Gordie Tapp said he first heard about when he came to Burlington in 1952.

There were a number of people who just couldn’t make it to the event – so we used technology to pipe them in through an overhead screen – and there they were – talking to us.  One musician who had grown up in Burlington and plied his trade in small bar after small bar said “we would have killed for a place like this”

The Silverstein's changed the perception of music and still ROCK for their solid fan base.

Two groups, the Spoons and Silverstein deserve special mention.  The Spoons were as good as they were 10 years ago.  Sandy Horne, the female lead, prowled around the stage in one of the most evocative performances I’ve seen.  Her movements were the equal of  Robert Stephen the ballet dancer.  And their music – well when they had everyone, including Ghomeshi, sitting on the piano bench, doing a sing along – you just knew they had taken everyone back to a time when the band was at its peak.

The Spoons, formed in Burlington in 1979 grew and went on to become one of those groups that shaped popular music in North America.  They were a delight to hear.

Silverstein – well they were different.  Man, did those guys ever have energy.  The backup guys on the guitars were close to violent with the way they poked at those strings and the lead male did great things with that microphone.

For both the Spoons and Silverstein, the emotions must have been something they savoured.  The Burlington they grew up in and struggled to get a foot hold in the music business is not the Burlington they performed in last night.  They must have wondered how the city got to the point where it actually had a Centre with a great stage and a sound system that still has a little work to be done on it – but one that was miles ahead of what they have had to work with.

For the performers it was a welcome home, for the audience it was also a welcome home – and for Gordie Tapp, who sang – it was good to be home.  And it was good!

 

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Downtown merchants prepare stores for holiday Season while OMB hears appeal on Brant Street height limits.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 1, 2011  –  The Downtown core begins to take on a bit of the Ho, Ho, Ho feeling with the decorations appearing in store windows. The Burlington Downtown Business Association holds an annual contest for the best decorated commercial establishment.  One of the winners this year racked up their fourth trophy.

Here are the winners.

Rahoons Persian Eatery at Village Square won Best Overall Award.

Rahoon Persian Eatery in the Village Square for the

Best Overall Display for 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stefanie Humby hold the BDBA Award won by Davies Condo`s.

 

Best Display by a Service Provider

Davies Condos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glen, Chantal, Darby and Eric hold the BDBA Awards Coffee Culture has won since 2008 - winners four years in a row.

Winner of the Best Restaurant and Eatery

Coffee Culture at Elgin and Brant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If that display doesn`t make you feel like Christmas - then head for Florida. Ooh! Beautiful things says it all.

Best Interior Display Award went to”

Ohh! Beautiful Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want someone to decorate your Christmas Tree - Centro Gardens are the people to talk to. They were Burlington Downtown Business Association winners for Best Window Display by a non-professional.

 

Best Window Display

done by a non-professional

Centro Garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best window display done by a professional

Scriveners

If you look closely at the picture you will see Dan Bishop holding the BDBA Award Scriveners won for the Best Window Display

 

 

The award winners have done their part to bring a sense of the Season to the downtown core.  While they were doing that a developer was at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing challenging the height limits the city has for lower Brant Street and a part of the Old Lakeshore area – the property we once knew as the Pearl Street Café.  The developer has two appeals before the OMB.  The second is for a property at Brant and James.   Both are important cases from a planning aspect which we will follow.

What was noticeable was the several local establishments that could certainly afford to add to the look and feel of Brant Street who had done nothing.  The downtown core certainly has its problems attracting people into the area.  Middle of the day when the malls are so packed you can’t find a parking spot – but if you do find one – you’ll say its free.

Lots of parking downtown – and yes it costs a couple of dollars but you can usually fine one.

There is a solution to the problem the city has in creating a downtown core that has a sense of vitality to it.  Coffee Culture, which won its fourth Burlington Downtown Business Association Award – they’ve won in 2008 through to 2011 – quite a feat.  The place is frequently packed and always has someone in it.  What are they doing that other locations aren’t doing?

That question certainly perplexes a number of people and so far no one has come up with an answer – but don’t let that stop you from dropping into the shops on Brant Street. John Street, Elizabeth and Pearl.  Fine shops on each.

 

 

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This sort of makes it official but a little snow would help the Ho, Ho, Ho to settle in for a couple of weeks.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, December 1, 2011 – They are going to do it again – the streets are going to be lit up and a line of soldiers is going to guard the entrance to Spencer Smith Park in Downtown Burlington.  And that will be the signal that Christmas is about to come upon us.

The folks that make this event work expect something in the order of 500 people will show up on Sunday, December 4th, as the 16th Annual Burlington Lakeside Festival of Lights begins.  This year more than 500 excited people are expected to be in attendance for the Opening Ceremony, which will take place in Spencer Smith Park following the Burlington Santa Claus Parade.

Lynne Snider hoists a device that will help him drive a stake into the ground to support the Festival of Lights piece he is installing in Spencer Smith Park

The Burlington Welsh Male Chorus will be on hand, hot chocolate, compliments of Coffee Culture Café & Eatery will be served by the Burlington Civitan Club.  The chorus will begin at approximately 4:45 p.m. until the traditional procession of the Burlington Teen Tour Band begins their march from City Hall to Spencer Smith Park at 5:00pm.  Visitors at the Opening Ceremony will also enjoy the lighting of the CHML Tree of Hope.  Festival of Lights Chairwoman, Michele Allan will bring greeting to all with special guests, Honourary Chair Mayor Rick Goldring, M.P Mike Wallace and of course Santa Claus.

The Burlington Lakeside Festival of Lights will glow from dawn to dusk through the Season to January 11th, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPAC Board fails to understand what transparency means and the basics of good governance.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 30, 2011  –  There is nothing nicer than a love story.  We, as people, want to be happy and want the people around us to be happy.  Being “with” someone” makes life that much richer; having been without someone for a considerable length of time I know whereof I speak. But I digress

So when we hear that someone has married or remarried we are happy for them and secure in the knowledge that good things do happen.

The story I want to tell you today is about the prince and the showgirl – well she thinks he’s a prince and she is a showgirl – or is in show business.

Brenda Heatherington, Executive Director of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre brought a sterling reputation to her job. She deserves a Board that is just as top notch – she doesn’t appear to have one..

Brenda Heatherington came to Burlington from St. Albert, Alberta.  She came with an exceptionally strong reputation and was hired by the Theatre Board to serve as Executive Director of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  We were lucky to get her.  I’ve no idea what we are paying her, no idea how long a contract she has – all I know is that she is deliberate, committed and good at her job.

She loves new ideas.  She likes to look for the edge of the envelope and pushes it just a little.  And, oh – she loves shoes.  When you meet her, smile back – for she will give you a dynamite smile – and then glance down and I can almost guarantee you – she will be wearing great shoes.  But again, I digress.

Someone took an idea to Brenda Heatherington.  “Why don’t we” said this producer, “do a show that features the talent that Burlington has exported to New York, Hollywood and dozens of markets in between.”  It was a great idea – and so off they went to rough out the numbers and figure out what it would cost and how it could be marketed.

Keith Strong, member of the BPAC Board. Tough guy who should have been able to ask tough questions and then have the political smarts to get in front of a possible public perception of a conflict of interest. Asleep at the switch

One can imagine how excited theses two must have been – a smart idea focused on local talent that was international in stature.  Both the producer and the Executive Director had settled into a city new to both of them; both with a show business background.  Her with a brand new Performing Arts Centre to develop and him with a beautiful new bride.  Derek Scott, the producer with the idea and Brenda Heatherington had married each other earlier in the year. They had an idea and developed it together.  Man, if that isn’t the stuff of real romance – then my friends you’re all cynics

Heatherington took the idea to her Board and then explained that the producer of what came to be called the Blue Jeans Gala, was the man she was married to: Derek Scott, a man with a very impressive bio of his own.  Nothing wrong with that. Hetherington’s husband and the nature of their relationship is none of the public’s business.  I’m sure everyone wished her the best when the marriage was announced.

Heatherington is a professional and her personal life is kept away from the office – difficult to do however when the producer of a significant show is also her husband.  But these things can be managed – providing everyone knows what’s going on – but in this instance the public in general didn’t know anything until there was a major piece in the Spectator telling the story behind the man who is producing the show.

Allan Pearson, Chair of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre with his Executive Director Brenda Heatherington. Is he going to take lessons on transparency?

And that is when reasonable people begin to ask questions.  How was this vetted by the Board?  What measures were put in place to manage the potential conflicts of interest.  This isn’t done because there is no trust – this is what every lawyer and accountant advises their clients to do every day.  It’s just a basic business practice, transparency and good corporate governance, which we assume the BPAC Board put in place..

However, the BPAC is funded significantly by the public – to the tune of half a million dollars a year and that isn’t chump change.  There are still those who think the whole idea of a Performing Arts Centre was a mistake and can’t wait for a chance to say ‘told ya so’.  And when the numbers are bad – and at some point the numbers will be bad – it’s the nature of show business and entertainment, the BPAC will need all the public support and good will it can find.

When we became aware that Derek Scott, the producer of the Blue Jeans Gala was married to Heatherington we placed a call to Allan Pearson and followed that up with an email.  No response so we followed up with a second phone call asking if a press release had been sent out.  The response to our questions is set out below:

There was no press release announcing the nature of the relationship between Brenda and Derek Scott.  Brenda brought the topic and potential conflict of interest to the Board. It was discussed and the decision was made at the Board level to carry on with Derek, as he is certainly qualified for the job. There was no discussion of a “press release” as, quite frankly, I don’t see this as “news”.

BPAC Chair Allan Pearson. When is it news and when is it not news? When you use public money what you do is news.

Well Mr. Pearson: It may not be news but it is good governance and you are a Board spending public funds.  Also, the day the story appeared in the Spectator – it was news.

In an Open Letter to the members of the Board for the Performing Arts Centre we said:

 

November 30th, 2011

Open Letter to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Board of Directors.

TO: Allan Pearson, Chairman, Rick Burgess, Vice-Chair, Peter Ashmore, Rick Craven, Ilene Elkaim, Mayor Rick Goldring (Ex-Officio), Ed Hannah, Mary-Ellen Heiman, Dominic Mercuri, Philippe Pango, Keith Strong, Denise Walker and City of Burlington Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure Steve Zorbas

You have let your Executive Director down.  There was an opportunity for this Board to show the public, the people who provide the half a million dollar subsidy you get,  that you are totally transparent and that you keep the books wide open

Close to a year ago your Executive Director came to you with an idea for an event that would feature entertainment talent that came from Burlington.  The event would feature talent the city had exported to New York, Hollywood, London and Los Angeles.   The idea brought to the Board was a good one and Heatherington did the right thing in advising her Board. (Does Heatherington have to take every idea to the Board?  That would take the Executive out of Executive Director wouldn’t it?)  They approved the budget and apparently approved the hiring of the producer.

Brenda Heatherington, Executive Director of the BPAC explained that it was a good idea, the budget was more than reasonable and she believed in the person producing the program – and well she should, she is married to Derek Scott.

That in itself is not a problem.  Yes, there is a real potential for a conflict of interest but if it is declared beforehand it can be acceptable.  In going to her Board on the conflict possibilities Heatherington did what she was supposed to do.  Good on her.

Her Board however failed her.  They in turn should have advised the community of the possibility of a conflict and report that they have looked into the matter and are comfortable with it going forward.

The Blue Jeans Gala is a really good idea guys – but you’ve queered it by not informing the people that have to put up the half a million dollar subsidy they give you to run the place, that the man producing one of your significant shows is married to the Executive Director.  You just tell people – they will understand.  It is when you deliberately don’t tell that people begin to get suspicious.  And neither Brenda Heatherington or her husband deserve to be treated like that.

What is wrong is a Board with a significant amount of legal talent on it – with at least one lawyer who should know better – and you all decide to sit on it. The second lawyer on the Board, Rick Burgess has served as legal counsel for Our Burlington Inc..  He did the incorporation of the not for profit structure we have and was more than patient in getting his invoices paid – which by the way were very reasonable.   Burgess knows better.

The BPAC needs the financial support and good will of the community and  you don’t get that (nay you don’t deserve it) when you hide things. Particularly in matters of trust. Every opportunity to build that trust has to be taken.  It means you are always transparent and on the front edge of good corporate governance practices.

What’s really bothersome is that this had the potential to be a really beautiful story.  Heatherington is a wonderful person.  I don’t know Derek Scott,  but I can say he is a very fortunate man.  The two were married early in the year and I’m sure all their friends are delighted for both of them.

There was an opportunity to tell the story of this woman, new to Burlington, who meets a man in the same field and they marry – and then they go on to take a really cracker jack idea and develop it  into a program that highlights the city and its talent in a way that no one has ever done before – and if the web site is telling the ticket sales story fully – the show is going to do very well.

Those are called win, win, wins – and you let it get away on you.  The BPAC needs every ounce of public support it can get

Now you’ve got a situation where you are vulnerable.  At some point someone who didn’t want the BPAC in the first place will ask “how much did you pay her husband to do the show and why wasn’t it put out to a public tender”.  You’ve read the comments on the Orchids on Upper Middle Road and the $100,000 the city spent on some bloke from Ireland.  “Should have gone to a local artist”, was a comment made publicly by more than one person.  This you do not need.

In a conversation with BPAC Chair Allan Pearson, I outlined the concern and asked if the BPAC had sent out a press release.  I may have missed it.  Nope – there was no press release sent out.  Your chair didn’t think it was necessary.  He didn’t think there was any conflict of interest – and there most certainly was a conflict.  The Board had an opportunity and I would argue a responsibility to get out in front of it and tell the story – which is a great story.

“Pearson said: “it’s not the public’s business”, and he didn’t think some comment from the Board was needed.  Really!

Pearson added that he was disappointed we were asking questions – he should be disappointed if we hadn’t asked questions.  Sitting on information that the people paying the bills have a right to know smacks of small town cronyism; that ‘we know what’s best for the community’ attitude

I have concerns with a Board that decides it can determine what the public needs to know and question the political savvy of a group that would let this slide.  Particularly disappointing is Ed Hannah’s going along with the idea of letting it slide.  (Maybe he was absent and wasn’t part of the decision?)

Hannah has degrees from Harvard Law School. Osgoode Hall Law School, York University where he did an MBA and before all that Yale where he earned a degree summa cum laude, in economics and political science.  That’s what you call a gold plated collection of degrees – but the decision not to go public with the potential for the conflict of interest was a mistake politically and a mistake of corporate governance – and Hannah of all people should know better. 

Let me however be perfectly clear, all there was, was the potential for some conflict.  You declare it – and get it out of the way. The Board  didn’t do that and now they have an Executive Director who is left hanging out in the wind with people snickering about the great deal she got for her husband.   She deserves better.

The Blue Jeans Gala should be a good show – we expect to attend and review it.  Been a long, long time since we’ve seen and heard Jimmy  Tapp.  We’ll let you know how he does.

 

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You need to be careful about what you do in the back of that cab. Surveillance Footage is part of the fare.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2011  –  Three youths got a bit of a surprise when they learned their pictures may have been on their Facebook page but it was also captured by a taxi driver who one of the three punched in the face hard enough to require hospitalization..

The  three hailed a taxi-cab in the area of Cumberland Avenue and New Street, Burlington and were driven  to their destination in the area of New Street and Appleby Line.  The taxi driver asked for payment.  The passengers became belligerent and it was apparent that they were not going to pay the fare.  The taxi driver turned his head to speak with the passengers in the back seat and was  immediately punched in the face by one of the passengers.  All three passengers then fled on foot.

With video surveillance in taxis now - they get to see the bad stuff and the funny stuff and if you're up to funny stuff - who owns that image?

The cab was equipped with video surveillance equipment that provided footage of all three suspects. The footage assisted police in identifying the suspects.  On November 25th, a 17-year-old Burlington youth was arrested and charged with:

• Assault Causing Bodily Harm

• Transportation Fraud

• Fail to Comply with YCJA Probation

The remaining youths, 15 and 17 years of age from Burlington, are being investigated for Transportation Fraud.   That footage will be shown in court – it will not be a pleasant day for the youths.

In this case the video surveillance helped solve a crime – but it appears as if the thing is on all the time.  Care to guess what the cab drivers will be watching when they get together socially?

[face]

 

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Council goes into CLOSED SESSION without knowing why they are doing so; Taylor votes against the move.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 29, 2011 – They are at it again.  Playing with the rules which I’m pretty sure are being bent.  Your city council went into CLOSED SESSION on a “litigation matter” Monday evening.  That sort of thing happens from time to time;  When there is a Human Resources matter or someone is suing the city Nancy Shea-Nicole will ask the Mayor to hear her comments in a closed session.

This one wasn’t – or didn’t appear to be about an HR matter.  And in this city whenever there is something legal the word “pier” pops into mind.  (Noticed by the way that with this really good construction weather nothing is being done down at The Pier – other than a little bit of grading.)

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor asked Acting city manager Kim Phillips why Council was going into closed session and was told it had to do with “report CD 20-11” which means it has to do with Community Development – an those are the guys who take care of the pier stuff.

Councillor Taylor didn't like the idea of going into a closed session of Council without knowing what they were going to talk about. Acting city manager Kim Phillips told him he would find out what it was about when they were in the closed session. Taylor voted against going. All the others voted for going into the closed session.

Taylor wanted to know what “CD 20-11”  was about and was told it was the same matter that had been discussed earlier – which Taylor couldn’t recall.  He said he didn’t think Council should go into a closed session without knowing what it was they were going to talk about.  Phillips told him that the words “CD 20-11” was all he was going to get until they were in closed session and with that the two people in the room, who were not permanent employees of the city, left the chamber and a sign was posted on the doors of the Council.

Councillor Meed Ward, who frequently mentions her background as a journalist, seems to have forgotten what open public sessions are all about.  There was a time when she would look a little guilty about going into a closed session but with a year under her belt – she slides into those closed session with the sense they are all just ‘taking care of business’.

This time though it was just a little different.  When council – not a council committee – goes into a closed session, the person operating the cameras that broadcast council meetings live, puts the words Closed Session up on the screen and turns off the microphones and he too leaves the room.  So what does Cogeco Cable do, when the television sets go cold?  Our Burlington stayed in the Council foyer for 20 minutes, and they were still at it when we left.

For those at home who have nothing better to do than watch Council meetings it must have been an odd experience.  There is just nothing – no sound, no visuals – nothing.  They could cut to the camera at Spencer Smith Park – do we still have those operating?

For those at home it must have been a little like watching television in the Soviet Union during the Cold War – but they at least had martial music playing.

Given that this was a closed session – and there are occasions when these things are necessary, of a council meeting that was broadcast live, the Mayor could have and should have explained to the public, what they were doing and why.  The city council isn’t trying to hide anything – at least we don’t think so.  What’s disturbing is that they never come clean at a later date and explain why they closed a council meeting or a committee meeting to the public.

As council Blair Lancaster would say:  This isn’t a best practice.  But they do it and it isn’t healthy.

 

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Local artists report strong sales results; announce an art scholarship and begin planning for the next season

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2011 That Art in Action studio tour held the first weekend in November – they made some money and the turnout at the individual studios was very good.  Total sales at the 8 studios totaled more than $12,000.  Which is very good – because we saw a very nice, small painting being sold to a young lady for $40.00 – would have been priced at about $100.+ in Toronto.

The number of visitors to all the studios seemed a little low (they reported 480), based on our experience –  we covered all eight locations and took in the Burlington Art Centre Wearable Art show as well.

The artists are happy and setting out to put out the Call for Submissions for the next show.  The Call will be open from January to March 16th – forms will be available on the web site: at www.artinaction.ca

Don Graves, on the right, showing a canvas to a perspective buyer (she bought) will head up the Art Discussions program for the Art in Action crowd.

In June the artists will hold a Silent Auction and then as fall of 2012 rolls around they will announce their Pre-Tour and Gallery Show.

Also on the agenda for this group is an Art Scholarship offering to each High school graduating class in the community. The artisans hope to finalize this before the end of June.  Darlene Throop is the point person on the art scholarship initiative. She can be reached at  (darlene.throop@gmail.com)

Art in Action Discussion Sessions on subjects such as; the best way to photograph your art for promotion; How to entice a patron and the tax implications to both the artist and the patron, and how to best secure an on-line presence; applying for grants, and what is actually available, are parts of this program. This will be headed up by Don Graves  (d.graves@cogeco.ca).

Also on the agenda for the Art in Action people is some jabber, jabber with people at city hall about the fees they were charged to hold the Studio Tours.  Someone at city hall appears to have experienced a brain wave and charged the artists $65. Per day for each of the eight locations – which took a little more than $1000. out of their coffers.

The artists got lumped in with the people who go door-to-door selling aluminum siding and magazines.  There are reported to be more than one council member, who wants to see this little bit of regulation done away with.

 

 

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Aldershot residents don’t like, look or the feel of a proposed project in their neighbourhood – want council to nix the idea.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 24, 2011 The good folks in Aldershot were before a council committee last week asking that a zoning by-law change not be given to New Horizon Homes who want to proceed with Phase two of their development on Plains Road West at Falcon Boulevard.

Here was the issue as set out by planner Silvina Kade who gave a brief overview of the application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-Law 2020 for lands at 980 and 986 Falcon Boulevard and 396 and 410 Plains Road East by New Horizon Homes.

The applicant, said the planner, has purchased two single-family dwellings facing onto Falcon Boulevard in order to build a four storey residential building. Several neighborhood meetings have been held over the last four years and some area residents are unhappy with the application and the location of the proposed site.

The neighbours saw the changes the developer was asking for as a precedent that would be used to significantly change the community and they wanted none of it.  For the most part Aldershot people attending the committee meeting behaved well, no noise – they just quietly make their case and depend on the council member to defend their interests.

Developers Jeff Paikin and Joe Giacomodonato with an award for best something. They aren't being seen as the best developer for a property at the intersection of Plains Road East and Falcon Blvd.

Jeff Paikin, chief cheese of New Horizon Homes, who got himself in the news earlier in the month for bulldozing what were believed to be close to the last of the fruit trees in the Orchard community.  A pair of upset neighbours managed to get their picture on the front page of a local newspaper pointing to the trees that were ripped out of the ground.  A bit of a kafuffle followed with the council member for the area getting involved.  That issue seemed to be resolved but it did suggest the developer had lost touch with the community he was building in.  Good developers maintain good relationships with the neighbourhoods they build in.  Paikin is now back at Council with a project that does have its problems.

Basically the developer was not able to assemble the land he had hoped to pull together and was left unable to use the lot on the south west corner of the Plains Road West and Falcon Blvd. intersection.  He had purchased two bungalows south of Plains Road and had come up with several approaches to putting up the second four story building of what he is calling the Westwood Development.

To do so – he was going to demolish the two bungalows and build a structure that would have three levels facing Falcon Blvd that would rise to four levels at the back with parking for a number of cars in front of the building.  It was an imaginative solution to the problem – but the residents didn’t think it should be allowed to take place.

The owner of the property at the intersection didn’t want to sell and couldn’t be persuaded to do so even with intervention from the ward councillor Rick Craven.  Does a developers inability to complete a land assembly have to result in a less than acceptable development?  It’s a question that is fairly asked.   That intersection can and should be developed but the owner doesn’t want to sell – which should get translated into – no development.

The white dots outline the area the residents are concerned about. The piece of land in the upper right within the dots is what gave Jeff Paikin 'heart-burn' when he wasn't able to purchase the property as part of his assembly. The result is a development that is not really in the best interest of the community but is legal.

The local residents felt that if the city went along with the changes being requested then every street running south of Plains Road would become part of a development application which would eventually work down to the lake – and they wanted none of it.  Bruce Krushelniki explained that the building of the structure the developer wants to put up would not become a precedent and he explained that: “Each development application is considered on its merits based on the policy context, unique site characteristics and details of the development proposal. It is staff’s opinion that 980 & 986 Falcon Blvd. can be distinguished from most other R2.1 zoned properties in South Aldershot. This is because assembled with the adjacent Plains Rd. properties they have direct access to an arterial road on a site served by efficient peak period transit, and if approved, would result in a consistent depth of the mixed use corridor along this segment of Plains Road. The majority of the Residential Low-Density lands in South Aldershot would not satisfy the criteria of the mixed use corridor designation.

Speaker after speaker spoke of the “precedent” that would be set.  More than a handful lined up politely at the podium and spoke their piece.

New Horizon Development bought the two bungalows as part of a land assembly that was to include the corner lot at the street intersection. Owner didn't want to sell - result, a rather awkward development with a low rise commercial building that will be orphaned. In the background is phase 1 of the development. Parking for both phases is underground.

Murray Thompson, 885 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to this application. He indicated that the residents in the area where not made aware of the plans for this development until 2010. Mr. Thompson stated that he believed this outcome would set a precedent for future developments of this nature.

Bill Paynter, 967 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development plans. He stated that the number of attendees at the neighborhood meetings was an indication of the opposition for this development. He encouraged Council to consider the level of opposition when this application is presented to Council for approval.

Two storey commercial building on land that could not be assembled - owner didn't want to sell, which was their right.

Ann Cook Petz, 819 Forest Glen Avenue, spoke on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the single-family environment of Aldershot. Ms Petz questioned if this development crossed the border of mixed use by coming down off of Plains Road. She indicated concern for preservation of the community and noted that the 1997 Plan for the area should be considered. Ms. Petz wished Council the best when determining the solution for this area, but noted that she felt that this development would be setting a precedent for the area.

Manuel Bastos, 369 Finch Avenue, spoke in opposition to the application. Bastos encouraged the City not to be anti-development but was concerned with where development occurred. He indicated that this development would destroy the character of the community. He encouraged development on Plains Road that would not face onto a residential street.

Murray Charlton, 974 Glen Acres Court, stated the developer had put a nice design together, but that it was unfortunate that the development affected a residential area. He expressed concern with the setting of a precedent, the future development in the area and how other developers could then do the same in different neighborhoods.

Teresa Ferguson, 981 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development. She advised the Committee that she was the homeowner directly across the street from the two residential properties purchased for development. Ferguson stated that she believed that as a taxpayers, property owners in Burlington were entitled to the same consideration as the developers. She indicated residents might have shown greater opposition had they known that the Mixed Use Corridor was intended to go beyond Plains Road.

Roland Salmon, 936 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development application. Salmon thanked Councillor Craven for his consistent communication to the residents. He indicated that the traffic in the community was horrible, lacked policing and that people travelled at excessive speeds along the roadway. He stated that he thought the new development would compound those issues and was concerned with developers encroaching onto residential streets two or three houses at a time.

There you have it – decent people appearing before their local government asking that the development not be permitted.  No one other than the planner and the developer spoke for the project.

Where does it go from here?  It will probably be approved by City Council on Monday because the city needs to do as much infill development as it can to meet the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to add a mix of office space and residential housing units in the next 20 years.

The province has a Public Policy Statement that requires:

Settlement areas as the focus of growth, supports development within settlement areas based on densities and a land use mix that efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and directs that opportunities for intensification and redevelopment be identified and promoted where this can be accommodated. It further supports promotion of development standards “which facilitate intensification, redevelopment and compact form, while maintaining

appropriate levels of public health and safety” and directs planning authorities to “establish and implement minimum targets for intensification and redevelopment within built-up area.

Add to that the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to manage Population and Employment Growth will be accommodated by

a) directing a significant portion of the new growth to the built-up areas of the community through intensification

b) focusing intensification in intensification areas

d) reducing dependence on the automobile through the development of

mixed-use, transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly urban environments

 The Plan further requires that by 2015, at least 40% of all residential development occurring annually shall be within the built-up area.

Tough for any community to overcome that kind of a requirement – is it good for the community?  Can the city do anything to challenge these requirements?

Developers use this provincial requirement to persuade planners and city council that they should get the By-law and zoning change they want.  Is it good planning?  It is legal.  Is it good community building?  The residents don’t think so.

And if the zoning change is given – what happens to that lot at the intersection of Falcon Blvd. and Plains Road?  It becomes an orphan.  Good planning and good community building would dictate that the zoning change be denied and that people wait it out until the owner of the lot at the intersection is ready to sell.  Will we do that?  Probably not.

 

 

 

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Halton police busy investigating the drug business in the community. It isn’t pretty.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 27, 2011  The Halton Regional Police Drug and Morality Unit initiated an investigation into the trafficking of cannabis marihuana and oxycodone in the City of Burlington during which they observed a person who has now been accused of trafficking in drugs  meet with another female in Burlington for the purpose of trafficking.  After the meeting was concluded the female was arrested. Investigators recovered a small quantity of the drug at that time.

The police then obtained a search warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to search the residence of the accused.  Police came up with approximately 40  grams of cannabis marihuana, 24 grams of cannabis resin, 200 oxycodone pills (Percocet and oxycontin), indicia of trafficking and $425.00 dollars in Canadian currency.  The approximate street value of the drugs was $5175.

Marie VANDONGEN, 47 years, of Burlington was released from custody on a Promise to Appear and an Undertaking before an Officer in Charge. She had been charged with: Trafficking in Cannabis Marihuana, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Resin for the purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Oxycodone for the Purpose of Trafficking

The laying of these charges suggests there is an active drug user community in the city.

Police are busy investigating and laying drug charges in the city. Is there a serious drug problem and should there be a different approach to handling drug offenses? And who is buying the stuff?

Halton Regional Police also initiated an investigation into a person residing at a Burlington area motel.  Police had earlier arrested a man after stopping a vehicle in central Burlington. The man was in possession of a half ounce of cocaine and several oxycodone tablets.  When police executed a Criminal code Search Warrant at the motel room where the suspect was residing they seized 1.5 kilograms of cannabis marihuana, a prohibited weapon (flick knife) and numerous pieces of suspected stolen identification.

Steven FENTON, 25 years, of Burlington has been charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (cocaine), Possession of a Controlled Substance (cannabis marihuana – over 30 grams), Possession of a Controlled Substance (oxycodone), Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, Fail to Comply with Prohibition Order, Possession of Credit Card Data (three counts), Identity Theft (five counts)

Tia MCCULLOUGH, 24 yrs, of Burlington was also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (cannabis marihuana – over 30 grams), Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, Possession of Credit Card Data (three counts) and Identity Theft (five counts)

These arrests are indicative of an active police effort to arrest drug dealers – and also tells us that there are people in the city buying the stuff.  All the drug dealers are doing is meeting a demand. Illegal, yes – but doing more to plug the demand side will lesson the supply side – and it is the supply side of the drug business that is really foul and dangerous.  The weapon found by the police was meant to hurt people.

Investigators remind the public to utilize Crime Stoppers to report on any illegal drug, gang, or gun activity at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Health policy analyst cool on the idea of a JBMH upgrade; advocates for community based health delivery instead.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 26, 2011  –  Burlington`s Strategic plan calls for the city to set aside $10 million a year for the next six years to pay for a part of the upgrading of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital which the province has promised would take place in 2013.  The Mayor`s Inspire series speaker last week seemed to suggest that an upgraded hospital was not what Burlington needed.

Globe and Mail health columnist Andre Picard, an eminent policy analyst in the health field and the recipient of numerous awards including the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism, the Canadian Policy Research Award, the Atkinson fellowship for public policy research and the Centennial Prize of the Pan American Organization. He was named Canada’s first Public Health Hero by the Canadian Public Health Association and was honoured as a champion of mental health. He is a four-time finalist for the National Newspaper Awards.  In other words he is thought of as someone who knows what he is talking about.  So when he suggests that upgrading of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital was not necessarily the best thing to do with the limited resources available we might want to sit up and listen.

Andre Picard, a noted authority on heath services policy and lead columnist for the Globe & Mail was just a little cool to the idea of a new hospital for Burlington at the Mayor's Inspire series last week.

Picard outlined the need for community delivered health services which led to Our Burlington asking Mr. Picard this question:  If you are calling for a community based system to deliver health service because that is more cost effective delivery and better health – then does Burlington need a major upgrade to the Joseph Brant Memorial hospital ?

Picard equivocated a bit with his answer when he said it would depend on there being hospitals close at hand that could deliver the kind of service that only a hospital can provide and then added that he thought an upgraded hospital in Burlington was probably a good thing, more or less.  More or less?  That wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement was it?

Using his criteria – one could argue (and the provincial government might well do that)  that there are excellent hospitals in Hamilton and Oakville which are a very short ambulance drive away.  You can get to a Hamilton  hospital from Lowville faster than you can get to JBMH.

Does Burlington then need an upgrade to its hospital?  Asking that question in this city and you have really put the fat in the fire.  All three candidates in the recent provincial election swore on their Mother’s graves that they would fight mightily to have the province give a firm commitment – with a date attached to it – guaranteeing that our hospital would get the upgrade it needs and which we were promised.

And now we hear from one of the best thinkers in the country suggesting that a new hospital in Burlington might not be what’s best for the community.  Isn’t that ducky?

We know the province doesn’t have any money, and we know that our economy is getting more wobbly every week.  But no one at the provincial level is suggesting that Burlington might want to look at a different model to meet the needs of its aging population.

The city did, what it thought was best, and what the province required them to do, and that was put up $10 million a year for six years to pay for a portion of the cost of the upgrade, we have been told was totally necessary.

The city and the hospital are still working out how the $60 million the city is going to put into the kitty will be spent.  At this point it looks like the city’s money will be used to pay for the building of a parking lot, because the space now being used to park cars is needed for the expansion that is planned.  The city hasn’t written the cheque yet – maybe they want to put a hold on it and ask the hospital to sit with them and take another look at the plans.

Andre Picard, speaker at the Mayor's Inspire series has given Mayor Goldring much to think about, when he came out as less than enthusiastic about the planned JBMH upgrade.

That will take a level of political courage that is seldom seen.

The long term outlook for a new hospital in Burlington just might need a real hard look before we do something really dumb.  Added to Picard’s  Wednesday evening comments, were remarks made in the provincial Legislature on Thursday, where an NDP member read out the list of hospital upgrades the province is talking about – more than 20 of them.  In the economy we are in it just can`t happen.  And someone needs to begin to be much more honest with the people who live here, pay the taxes and expect the public health services they need

Every candidate in the last provincial election said they would ensure that we got the hospital upgrade – what wasn’t asked was – do we need a hospital upgrade?  Every candidate said, what they thought you wanted to hear.  Not one of them had done their homework.  One of them, Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran, used to sit on the hospital board and was as close to the center of political power as one can get – and he never suggested, that perhaps the hospital model we are working within is the wrong model.

All the candidates just mouthed, what they thought the voters wanted to hear.  Should the province decide that Burlington is not the place for a large expensive hospital, and that we should have a number of community care centres spread throughout the city – – just wait for the political howling.

JBMH president Eric Vandewall might want to have lunch with Inspire speaker and noted authority on public health service delivery and talk about the best form of public insitution to meet the needs of the community. Mayor Goldring might want to sit in on that lunch - even pick up the tab if some sensible thinking comes out of the meal.

Picard`s comments suggest that Burlington might not have made the smartest move.  Is the city – that means both the citizens, its city council and the senior hospital staff plus the Board of Directors – courageous enough to ask the hard questions  like, is this really the best thing for the city and its citizens?

One would hope that the Mayor would take the opportunity to have dinner with Picard and ask some hard-nosed questions.  Maybe even ask for some advice as well on how we determine what is best for the city.  In the meantime, don’t write the cheque that would deliver the $20 million plus  sitting in the bank.

Let’s be absolutely sure we are doing what is best for the community and not just what’s best for the medical community who would love to have a shiny new building.

 

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A strong overview of the way health care is delivered subject of Inspire lecture. Future of JBMH raised.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 26, 2011  – It was both a lecture on the health service delivery system we have and another look at what the Mayor does as he develops ideas and consensus in the minds of the citizens of Burlington.  The event, the Mayor`s Inspire series of lectures, used to be held at the McMaster DeGroote school of business on the South Service Road but got moved to the Community Studio Theatre in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre when that space became available.  It may be moving again because this last session was basically a sold out event.

Speaker at the Mayor's Inspire series Andre Picard outlined the way health is delivered and how that delivery could be improved.

Andre Picard, Health reporter for the Globe & Mail came to talk about health care and started with a 20 minute overview of how the government got into the public health business and where we are today – and in the process dispelled a lot of myths.  The one that really grabbed me was the fact, according to Picard (and he tends to know the numbers side of the health business) that the government spends on average $15. a day to provide health services for Canadians.  That`s all it costs ? – fifteen bucks a day ?.  As Picard put it – “you spend that much a day on those latte coffees”.

The audience was taken through a historical tour – the first medicine was delivered by the Ursaline nuns in Quebec.  Jeanne Mance opened the first hospital in Montreal and right up to the first world war it was charities for the most part that provided public health.  The 1918 Spanish flu that took 60 million lives brought about the need for government to get into the business of providing health services for the public.

The outbreak of polio after the second world war and the prevalence of tuberculosis brought the government into the health business.  It started in Saskatchewan where Tommy Douglas said a family should not have to lose the farm to pay the medical bills.

And today we have 15 jurisdictions managing health care that is supposed to be delivered under five prime principles set out in the Canada Health Act.  Few remember what those five principles were and few of the five are actually met.  Portability was one – the medical health we have really isn’t portable from province to province, but if you are sick in your own province you will probably get the care you need.  Sometimes you have to fight for it and it often fails the public it is supposed to serve – but it is what we have.

The hospitals we have today, argued health writer Andre Picard meet few of the needs that an aging population faces.. He advocated for community level service delivery.

The JBMH, due for a major upgrade in 2013. The city has $20 million of its portion of the cost in the bank. Is the upgrade really the best thing for the city'

Picard argues that the hospital of the 21st century is a very complex building and are very expensive to operate.  We keep people in these hospitals at a close to exorbitant cost, he said, when there are much less expensive places to put people where better medical service can be delivered.

Our hospitals, according to Picard cannot be everything to everyone.  We have to have the right people in the right places and a hospital for someone who should be in a setting where they can get the service and support they need – that is the direction we are going to have to go in.

Picard told his audience that he didn`t think there was a lot of fat in the way hospitals are run but that he didn’t think there was much in the way of efficiencies either and that there was way too much bureaucracy.

The doctors, commented Picard, are doing very, very well under the fee for service system the government put in place, but it isn’t a very efficient way to spend the health care dollars, and as Picard put it “they have their sticky little fingers in everyone else’s pie”.  There are many things doctors are doing that could be done much more cost effectively by well-trained nursing staff, but the fee for services model we use has doctors doing as much as they can – that’s how they get paid.

Picard told his audience that Canada has 5,000 more doctors now than it had three years ago and that “we just cannot keep growing the medical community at this rate. We are not using technology the way we should; many hospitals are still using paper records, which contributes to the 24,000 people who die each year as the result of medical errors.  Technology, properly used, takes pressure off workers. The technology is not going to save us any money, however it will mean better patient care.”

Andre Picard, noted health policy writer engages a guest at the Mayor's Inspire Series at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Picard wanted to see the phrase “customer service” used in hospitals.  “When” he asked, “was the last time you heard someone in a hospital ask: ‘Can I help you’ and when did you last see someone in a hospital look you in the eye”?

Picard told the 200 people in the room that the public/private health care debate is a phone debate.  There are some health services that are best delivered by the private sector and paid for by the government.  He explained that heath service is legislated in Canada and pointed to the Canada Health Act which sets out what the government will do and will not do, whereas in Europe the governments tend to regulate instead and their workforce is more efficient.

Our hospitals have in some cases become holding pens for elderly people, when they should be in their homes where they are more comfortable and can still get the care they need.  Hospitals are the last resort and for the most part they are not safe places, Picard added.

The average age of Canadians in 1965 was 25 – now the average age is 47 and that number will climb for a few more years.  In an earlier time hospitals provided acute care, patients when into a hospital to get treatment and were either healed or they died.  With an aging population many need care for chronic conditions and that is not best delivered in hospitals.  Many people have multiple disabilities in their declining years, but don’t need care in the kinds of hospitals we have today.  The system we have is not built to deliver chronic care – community based service can deliver that kind of care.

There is no entry point into the medical system in this country according to Picard.  If you have a problem far too many people head for emergency, because that is the only way they can get in.  And once they get in – they end up staying in because there is no way out.

Picard believes that with a community based system there would be a team of people waiting to serve the needs of a patient and would handle everything from welfare through to home care for people that have those multiple chronic ailments.  And most important to this team/community based approach would be a person known as the “navigator” who would ensure that patients got moved from level to level.  If treatment in a hospital was necessary the ‘navigator’ would work with the team to ensure that happened.  Better co-ordination is the future said Picard and more empowerment for staff, and equally important, accountability.  “When they don’t do it well – remove them”, advised Picard.  Picard made no mention of how removing staff would get done in the union environment we have.

The LINCs are, in Picard’s opinion, poor substitutes for the Regional approach that should be taken to providing medical care.  The country, he said, needs a sound debate on what the public wants and what government can afford.  “The goal of a healthy medical system” he said “is spending the money available wisely, delivering care so that we have a healthier population that can live a good life and have a good death”.  It was clear from what Picard had to say that he doesn’t think we are there yet.

During the question and answer session Picard perhaps surprised many when he said he didn’t think Prime Minister Harper wants to have anything to do with health care and that Ottawa really isn’t that big a player in the game.  They are responsible for aboriginal health care where everything – dental, optical – is included.  The natives have the best health care in the country – why can`t the rest of us have that kind of care?  Picard added that he personally didn’t think Harper wants to make his mark in health care..

A community health centre in Cornwall, Ontario got started this way: “It’s about taking care of our day-to-day health needs, as well as promoting a healthier, stronger and more sustainable community,” said Debbie St John-de Wit, the Centre’s Executive Director. It’s been almost a decade since the notion of a new community health centre for Cornwall was first conceptualized. Incorporated in February 2005, a dedicated and passionate community-governed, volunteer Board of Directors began evaluating the community’s health needs in order to develop a customized primary health care delivery model. The planning process involved several community engagement sessions and meetings. In 2007, the Board of Directors received approval from the Ministry of Health to proceed with the feasibility study, and in 2009 the Ministry approved for the construction of a new centre.

Picard closed his presentation saying that home care is safer, cheaper and people like it.  The trick he seemed to say was the administration and delivery of health services into units that have populations of about a million people and allocate the funds to those groups and let them figure out what`s best for the community.

Picard made one very trenchant point, when he said the Canadian Medical Association speaks for the medical community.  There are, said Picard “body part” interest groups.  Every imaginable group is represented –heart, kidney, lungs, but have you noticed he asked “that the public isn’t represented”.  There isn’t a Canadian Patient Association.

The medical business he said, needs some democratization – it isn’t a fair fight the way it`s set up now.

The reality he added is that there has to be some “private” in the health care field and Critical Illness Insurance was something that made sense.  More than 22 million Canadians have some form of private medical care.

Our care patient service has to be delivered where the patients are – it could be delivered in a mall location if that worked.

Someone asked Picard what he would do if he were the Minister of Health and he responded instantly with – “well the first thing I would do is get rid of the Ministry and run the place with my cell phone from the car they would drive me around in”.   “I would then transfer funds from the Ministry to the different regions that would be set up to deliver health services to communities across the country with no one grouping having much more than one million people within it”.  One got the impression that Picard wouldn`t be building a lot of hospitals either.

As for Burlington and the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital – Picard equivocated when asked if upgrading the hospital was the right thing to do.  “More or less”, he said.  For a guy who had very strong, direct statements to make on just about everything else he said – ‘more or less’ – was rather telling.

In bringing Andre Picard to Burlington to talk about the delivery of health care Mayor Goldring may have brought to the surface the need for all of us to take another really close look at how we make decisions.  Is an upgrade to the JBMH the best thing for Burlington? Good on you Mayor Goldring for bringing Picard to Burlington – even if his comments will make your life a little bit more difficult – you did the right thing.

 

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The quiet of a house decorated for the Christmas, lit by candles with the scents of the Season everywhere.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  – November 25, 2011   Christmas is a hustle and bustle time of year – and some of us just collapse late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve hoping we`ve gotten it all done.  It has not always been this way.  There was a time, here in Burlington, when families gathered in the quiet of their homes, which may not have had electricity, to share the Season and the Joy.

And when they said “family” they meant all 12 boys who farmed the more than 1000 acre farm now just a fragment of what it once was at Guelph Line north of Upper Middle Road.

A sleigh, that many Christmases ago was drawn along Guelph Line through drifts of snow, getting passengers and packages back home for the holiday.

Ireland House takes on a very special feel when it is illuminated with candles.  On December 9th, between 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (just the one date) take a break from the fast pace of the season and experience the unique charm and history of a historic time and place. Guests can prepare to ignite their senses as Ireland House opens its doors to take groups on a captivating guided tour of the site illuminated by candlelight. Outside follow the special path to Santa’s Cabin and visit with Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus in their historic cottage decorated for the holidays…

The Ireland House will be filled with the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Christmas. There will be beautiful seasonal greenery and displays. As heritage educators perform, grab a cup of hot cider and have Father Christmas greet you! Enjoy historic cooking demonstrations and sampling by the fire; plenty of period style refreshments and beverages and a unique keepsake craft will allow you to take home your memories for years to come!

There is a limited amount of space, so book now.  Tickets are now available and include activities and refreshments.  $12.00 adults, $8.00 children.   Tickets for Candlelight Tours must be purchased in advance. Reserve with credit card by phone.

And don’t forget the Holiday Gourmet Gift Basket Raffle!

Valued at over $450.00! Tickets are only $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00. Draw is December 9th, 2011, the evening of Candlelight Tours.

 

 

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