Courage, commitment and energy will propel Michele Benoit across Lake Ontario to raise funds for clean water in Africa.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 2, 2012  It takes a certain character, commitment and frame of mind to get up well before the sun rises each day and slip into the cold waters of Lake Ontario.

It takes time, energy and a certain focus to swim day after day while you build up your strength and your stamina as arm goes over arm pulling yourself forward through the water – sometimes against a tide that wants to take you in another direction.

A chase craft follows every foot of the way – watching every move while Michelle Benoit completes a 25 km swim on the old Welland canal with Christine Walker in the water pacing her.

Later this month – Michelle Benoit, a 42 year old nutritionist and personal trainer with a life’s worth of swimming experience, will put herself up against one of the harder challenges in the world of long distance swimmers.  She will leave Port Dalhousie the evening of Saturday the 17th of August and head for Burlington where she plans to land close to 18 hours later on the “instant” beach in the eastern end of Spencer Smith Park.

Our Burlington has been calling  it the  “instant beach”, since the day we saw it while on a tour of the pier construction site while looking for those lamp lights that had disappeared.  The beach was formed due to the way water swirls around the caissons and the land formation built as part of the pier, could well be named Benoit Beach honouring the crossing of the lake.

Toronto has a Marilyn Bell Park to commemorate her successful crossing of the lake; an opportunity here for the Mayor to put a bit of a positive spin on the problems that surround the pier.

Marilyn Bell in 1954 as she swan across Lake Ontario as a 16 year old.

Just over 65 people have managed to successfully swim across Lake Ontario since 1954 when Marilyn Bell, then a 16 year old, completed her swim in 20 hours and 55 minutes on September 8th and 9th.  50,000 Torontonians were on the shore to welcome her landing from her start in Youngstown, Ohio – can Burlington produce even 5,000 people.

Part of the team that follows every stroke: Brian Finlay, on the right,  a master long distance solo swimmer who has done the English Channel, serves at the key guide. Mike Schultz, drives out from his printing company in Toronto every time the boat is needed on the water.  The moment Benoit is out of the water Finlay checks her body temperature to make sure she is recovering from the swim.

Benoit had a magnificent crew working with her while she did the hours of training.  Christine Arsenault, Billie Johnson, Chris Chriswick and others were in the water pacing her through the nine hour day.

There isn’t a day that Benoit is not in the water doing stroke after stroke as she strives to keep her body in top physical form.

After more than nine hours in the water during an endurance swim on the Welland River, Benoit gobbles down a banana and enjoys a laugh with her crew.

Earlier in July she did a 25 km endurance test in the Welland River, a body of water that has both wind to deal with and strong currents.  She swam leg after leg as she piled up the kilometres with different pace swimmers joining her on the journey.  When she completed that endurance test she headed for the dock where she pulled herself up out of the water and sat shivering on the deck while her pacer heaved to hoist herself out of the water – but not quite hard enough and slipped back in.  That was a funny moment for the less than half of dozen people out to help during the test.

As a nutritionist Benoit knows how to care for her body and ensure that she is getting the protein she needs.  While she is just a slip of a thing she has amazing physical strength; but it is her strength of mind that carries her forward. For Benoit this swim is as much a personal calling as it is a swim across an unforgiving body of water.  She is not a “professional solo long distance swimmer.  She has a mission and that is to raise both money and awareness for what she sees as a tragic situation in Africa – Togo to be specific, where tens of thousands of children die every year because the water they drink and use is contaminated.

Benoit has partnered with Compassion Canada, an organization that can issue tax receipts and ensure that the donation goes to the project they were meant to support – water projects in Togo Africa.

While Compassion Canada serves as the organization that can accept funds, issue tax receipts and ensure they get where they were supposed to go – Benoit’s Waves for Water is her longer term project.

It is going to cost close to $20,000 to get the work done needed in Togo and that doesn’t deter this almost tiny woman with a smile that charms and energy that is infectious.

Benoit sees challenges as opportunities.  When she was completing her endurance swim in Lake Ontario a few weekends ago she had difficulty getting to the shore – not because she was tired or the waves were too high..  “We couldn’t  see the shore line – there were too many motor boats and Seadoos racing by.  They had no idea what we were doing but we knew what they were doing – getting in the way.”

When the solo swim across the lake is done Benoit will then begin working on the next phase of her mission – and that is to create a charity that will be called “Laps for Loonies” which will be held across the country – much like the Terry Fox run – to raise awareness about the problem with water in many African countries and to raise funds as well to build water solutions for these people.

Benoit chose to swim form Port Dalhousie to Burlington rather than the traditional Niagara to Toronto route. “Burlington is home and I wanted to land in the community where I am asking people to support an important project” explains Benoit.  She has partnered with Compassion Canada so that all funds donated go directly to the project in Africa.

What MIchele Benoit is setting out to do is a challenge but it is also poetic – her body is at one with nature as she strokes through the water – here she is working her way through a 25km swim with a pacer in the water with her – the sun on their bodies as they swim in unison.

After most of the day in the water Benoit shivers on the dock on the Welland River, waiting for blankets and for people to check her body temperature.

Benoit works part time for a health services company in Burlington and at the same time trying to breathe some life into her nutritional supplements business. “That’s something I may have to give up on” says Benoit, “I’ve been at that one for ten years and it may be one of those things that just wasn’t meant to be.”

Michele Benoit with her dog Buckley – he goes wherever she goes but he won’t be in Lake Ontario when she does her across the Lake swim. Expect him to be on hand when she comes ashore at Spencer Smith Park.

Financially – life is a challenge.  The swimming takes up all her time but the rent has to be paid and she has to eat so she works at something that fits in with her approach to life and her demanding schedule.

Throughout it all Benoit has her family supporting her emotionally as well as her dog Buckley, who misses her when she is out of the house but who is definitely not going to swim along beside her.

When Benoit comes ashore there will be a large crowd, maybe someone from the Mayor’s Office, television crews and all kinds of media.  There will also be an ambulance standing close by – a requirement if the swim was to be sanctioned and also a sign that solo swimmers are at significant personal risk.




Return to the Front page

Is the older order being changed by the new order? Will Business in Burlington overtake the Chamber of Commerce?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 2, 2012  Every organization goes through a process of social change.  The Boy Scouts are not what they once were.   The Legions are either ceasing to exist or have changed significantly.

Watching that process of change take place can be fascinating.

Burlington has watched a small group form and suddenly grow topsy turvey.  It got to the point where Mayor Goldring thought it significant enough to pay a visit.

Each meeting Brant Florist donates a bouquet – which James Burchill, founder of Business in Burlington is seen giving to Janet Cockburn

The group Business in Burlington was formed electronically and meets once a month, usually at the Waterfront Hotel, where they occupied part of one room and then found they needed all of the room and then the whole floor.

“We were at the point where more than 300 people were showing up for what was basically a networking event”, said James Burchill, a Burlington social media guru.

The participants were those people who don’t feel they fit into the Chamber of Commerce mould.  They are, for the most part, all independent operators, looking to expand their network.  The events are always packed; they last a bit longer than an hour and are always overbooked.

“People just go on line and tell me they are going to attend – and I then put the total on the web site” explained  Burchill, who developed the concept as an experiment that took on a life of its own.

There is now a Business in Oakville that is developing the same way.

People create what they need in terms of social organization.  Formal, top down organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, with a bureaucracy that has to be paid for,  results in membership fees that many smaller independents don’t feel they need.

“We don’t charge anything; people just show up.  If they want to buy a drink, they can buy a drink.  We don’t sell raffle tickets, we don’t hold an annual golf game and we don’t have political action groups – just people getting together to make connections and do business”, is the way Burchill explains the organization that has formed.

There are now 550 + people who attend and another 750 who are part of the network through LinkedIn, another social media. Combined the two are greater than the 1100 the Chamber boasts about.

Donnie on the left and Craig Denby on the right exchanging ideas – maybe Denby is trying to sell him that watch.   All part of Business in Burlington meetings at the Waterfront Hotel.

By linking together electronically and also being able to make direct contact, members of the BiB (Business in Burlington) get the benefits of both worlds – the older stodgy Chamber of Commerce model and the faster more direct channel.

With the electronic bulletin board they use, BiB members can asked questions and anyone who can help answers.

One woman needed T-shirts made up for a non-profit and asked if there was anyone in the network who could recommend a supplier.  Within half a day there were six responses, several from T-shirt suppliers, many from people who recommended a T-shirt supplier.

Of real interest was the recommendation for a supplier who had offered his services.  All within a working day.

That is one of the benefits of social networking – the ability to move quickly.

Burchill sees several opportunities to monetize his social experiment.  At future events members will be able to set up a table to display what they have to offer.  At most events there are door prizes.  There was a business card draw for the use of a very high end sports car provided by a car rental company.

It’s all sort of like the old saying: One hand washes the other until they both come clean.

Burchill is having the time of his life – he is at his core an educator and a writer who has learned to do things electronically that pull people together.  He handles the technology well and certainly know how to write copy that catches the attention of the reader.

“But it always comes down to people” explains Burchill. “not organizational structure, not social stature – just one person talking to another and exchanging ideas.


Return to the Front page

You can swim anywhere you want on the Burlington waterfront – can’t do that in Oakville.

By Staff

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton and they are saying that based on July 31st monitoring.

If you live in Burlington – the Beaches are all safe. Oakville isn’t as lucky.

For the most recent information, the Health Department recommends that residents visit Halton Region’s website before visiting Halton beaches. The following beaches are safe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Oakville – Coronation Park West

Now you know why Burlington is the second safest city in Canada.

Return to the Front page

Doctors have learned how to spin the facts and manipulating public opinion from the politicians. Truth is they just want more of your money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 1, 2012  According to a press release from the Ontario Medical Association – a lobby  that “represents the political, clinical and economic interests of the province’s medical profession.” , the provincial governments plan to unilaterally cut $1.1 billion in health programs and fees will force wait times for medical procedures to go up and patient access to care to go down. That is the clear message a panel of local doctors will deliver to concerned Burlington citizens tonight at a town hall meeting.

They don’t tell you where the Town Hall meeting is taking place nor do they tell you who the concerned doctors are.  The do provide quotes from a surgeon and a family physician.  No Burlington contacts for either doctor were provided.

“In its most recent annual report, the Burlington area local health integration network missed 12 of 14 performance benchmarks for patient care, including longer wait times for cataract surgery, hip and knee replacements, and MRI exams. Wait times for all four of these procedures increased from the previous year and, as a result of these cuts, could continue to increase. More than 21,000 physicians are being negatively affected by just the first round of the McGuinty government cuts, including the physicians who perform these tests and procedures.

By “negatively affected” the doctors mean they will not earn as much as they would like to earn.

What our doctors are paid is determined through honest, transparent negotiations between the provincial government and the Ontario Medical Association that represent the doctors. The OMA has begun using scare tactics to mislead the public – they can do better than that.

“In addition to longer waits and reduced access to care, the planned cuts will also mean patients who still don’t have a family doctor will either wait longer to find one or won’t be able to find one at all. Information recently released by the Ontario Medical Association reveals that more than 927,000 patients in Ontario, including 132,000 children, still do not have a family doctor, and the province is short more than 1,000 doctors. A recent Nanos Research survey shows 41 percent of Ontario’s doctors would consider moving to a more welcoming jurisdiction and 33 percent would consider retiring early if the government cuts continue.

The nice thing is that these doctors can afford to retire early.

The government is being fiscally prudent with both the teachers and the doctors in Ontario. They would of course like to earn more; teachers would like to be able to bank those sick days, doctors would like to see increases to their fee schedules.  But every dollar that a doctor or a teacher gets is a dollar that comes out of your pocket.

Dr. Ved Tandan, a surgeon says “Ontario doctors want to provide the best patient care possible. For my patients, wait times are already too long, but they are bound to get even longer if the cuts to health programs and fees are allowed to continue.”

Is Dr. Tandan saying he will not continue to manage the workload he has if he is not paid more?  Then we will bring in more doctors from other jurisdictions and have then take up the work load Dr. Tandan doesn’t want to handle

What he is saying is the family doctors will not be paid as much as they want to be paid.  What they are paid is something the doctors have to negotiate with the government.  Using scare tactics to sway  public opinion has been used by the medical profession  before, hopefully the public will see their comments for what they are.  They have little to do with your health and more to do with how big a piece of the pie the doctors get.



Return to the Front page

Historic re-enactment between John Brant and General Sir Isaac Brock will take place at LaSalle Park Monday August 6th.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 31, 2012  August is always a great month for Burlington and things to do.  Along with the traditional, this year there will be a series of events that tie into the War of 1812 festivities and what that historical event meant to Burlington.

While Joseph Brant gets most of the historical attention in this city – having a museum with your name on it will do that – this year Brant’s son, John will be featured because of his relationship with General Sir Isaac Brock and the Battle of Queenston Heights.

John Brant will meet with Sir Isaac at the Annual Brant Day event held at LaSalle Park, Monday, August 6th; 10 am to 5 pm, as part of a re-enactment

Brant had seven children – Burlington Streets are named after two sons and a daughter – John, James and Elizabeth Street.  John became almost as heavily involved in native affairs as his Father was.  Joseph Brant was not alive during the Wars of 1812 – he died in 1807.

Three men who played critical roles in the War of 1812 – especially the Queenton Height battle. John Brant, son of Joseph Brant and John Norton along with General Sir Isaac Brock were part of the early War of 1812 battles

His son John took part in the battle at Queenston Heights where Brock lost his life.  John Norton, a young man who,  while born British, became a Mohawk and was tutored and guided by Joseph Brant will also be a part of the re-enactments

John Brant survived the battle at Queenston Heights and went on to become the first native to be elected to the Ontario Legislature and played a large role in the development of the Grand River reserve that his Father first negotiated with the British government.

The day will be rich with history and pageantry and the Brant family will be front and centre – not always something that happens at LaSalle Park during their annual Brant Day events. Along with the re-enactments, there will be a military skirmish, native culture interpretation, traditional artisans and much more.

The day after, Tuesday, August 7th, from  10 am to 2 pm,  at the Dundurn National Historic Site, Hamilton, Brock will  meet with David Beasley – historian and descendant of Burlington Heights landowner.

The Hamilton Military Museum and Dundurn Castle’s main floor and basement will be open for FREE self-guided tours. Live music with Muddy York and talks by David Beasley will happen during the day. Let the kids dress-up and be part of military drills or enjoy tours of the grounds and garden. Come out for this free day of festivities!

Burlington Heights and what are called the Burlington Races are the significant events as far as Burlington’s involvement in the War of 1812 is concerned.  There is a spot on the Heights where one can stand and see past the Skyway and into Burlington where several warship battles took place that many believe the War of 1812 was won by the British.

The War of 1812 was the first war the Americans declared on anyone – and they lost that one.  Not something the Americans are all that keen to admit.

The Brock Walk is a government of Ontario tourism sponsored event that brings our history to a level we can easily understand.  Burlington’s geography  actually played a large and very significant role in that war.

Return to the Front page

They are out there again – trying to scam seniors of their savings. If the “bank inspector” calls – demand to see him at his office.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 31, 2012    The Bank Investigator Scam is back.  And as they usually do- they target vulnerable trusting seniors who have savings they need tucked away.  Some slickster wants to take that money from you and will call saying he is an Inspector with the bank and needs your help.

Tell him you’d love to help him and then ask which branch you can meet him or her at.  Then call the police.

The Halton Regional Police Service is warning seniors about a “Bank Investigator Scam”.  The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly known as Phone Busters) recently reported over 100 complaints with reported losses to victims of 1/2 million dollars.

This scam is predominantly targeting female seniors and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says that the fraudsters sometimes use the obituaries to obtain personal information about their potential victims.

Constable Wendy Moraghan works with seniors in the Region as the Elder Services Coordinator.  If you think there is something fishy about a phone call you get – call Wendy, she’s there to help.

The fraudsters contact seniors by phone advising that they require their assistance to catch a bank employee that “has been stealing money”.  The person is instructed to go to their bank and make a cash withdrawal, usually in 100 dollar bills, for amounts in the $5000.00 range.  The person is told not to tell the bank teller what they are doing because the teller may be involved.

When anyone asks you to to withdraw cash from your bank account and meet them in a parking lot – let them know you would prefer to meet in the parking lot of the police station and hang up.

The senior is instructed to place the cash in an envelope and meet the “investigator” in a nearby parking lot where the cash is turned over.  If successful the “investigator” attempts a further request for funds to ensure the investigation is a success.  On one occasion the “investigator” also asked if the senior had any cash at home because the employee had been handing out counterfeit money.

The senior turned over $6,000.00 in cash from her residence which the “investigator” confirmed was counterfeit by looking at the serial numbers.  The fraudsters will represent various different financial institutions.  The public is reminded that this is not the way banks operate.  If there is an investigation it is done by the police.

Police constable Wendy Moraghan (Elder Services Coordinator) with the Halton Regional Police Service is as far away as a telephone call – if you’re suspicious – give her a call -905-825-4777 ext. 5064   She’s a real sweetheart and will answer every question you  have – she’s there to help you.

Moraghan will tell you to never give out personal information on the telephone to anyone.  Constable Moraghan attends many seniors events in the Region.

Return to the Front page

Positive West Nile virus mosquitoes found in Burlington.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 30, 2012  Two samples of mosquitoes collected last week in Burlington have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the number of positive batches for Halton Region in 2012 to five. There have been two WNV positive batches in Oakville and one in Milton.

“Our surveillance program helps to show the distribution of West Nile virus positive mosquitoes in Halton Region,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health. “This season has already shown itself to have earlier than usual West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes”.

Transfer of the West Nile Virus is pretty simple – so are the precautions.

August and September are the usual months of highest risk for human illness. All Halton residents are asked to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes and remove standing water where mosquitoes breed.”

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever. Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.


Return to the Front page

Cornerstone Drive house gutted in a fire that is now under investigation.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 30, 2012   Someone isn’t satisfied with how or why a fire got started that totally gutted a house on Cornerstone Drive last Friday.

Resident in the immediate area had to vacate their homes for up to eight hours while fire fighters worked to bring the blaze under control.

The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal and the Halton Regional Police Service are continuing their investigation into the cause of a fire that gutted a family residence at 4645 Cornerstone Drive, Burlington in the early morning hours of July 27th, 2012.

When there is not an immediate reason for a major fire – investigators from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall are brought in. Here an investigator goes through a premise with a fine tooth comb – they inevitably figure out where and why a fire started.

Access to the street was restricted for approximately eight hours to facilitate the safe entry and excavation of the fire scene. The neighbouring occupants were required to evacuate their homes during the investigation.

The structure is a total loss and requires demolition. Damage estimate is in excess of $500,000.

Return to the Front page

Three lads from Burlington do a sterling performance of a complex Harold Pinter play. Expect to see more from Mischa Aravena

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on   July 30, 2012  Every parent watches anxiously as their children step out onto the stage they will live their lives upon.  For the parents of Mischa and Mel Aravena, that stage was live and part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival that closed on Sunday.

Mel Aravena served as the director of a Harold Pinter play Betrayed, a complex piece that in its day changed the way theatre was done in London’s West End. Mischa Aravena played one of the two male lead roles and Tom Hick’s, their buddy who lives up the street served as co-director.

While Betrayal has endured and is done regularly, it is approached carefully, due to both its complexity and the close to exquisite timing the play calls for.  There is a consistent need throughout  the 90 minute production for those pauses that need to take place – if cut too short the moment is lost and if the pause runs too long the point is lost.

Brothers Mel and Mischa Aravena shift the set that was used in the Harold Pinter play Betrayed, put on as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival. They did good.

Both Mischa Aravena, Chad Thurlow and Kayla Whelan who did the lion’s portion of the performance – we will get to the Venetian waiter later – did much more than credible jobs of handling the nuance and timing the play called for.

The play consisted of nine scenes which were not presented chronological and that made it a little difficult to follow for those who had never experienced a Pinter play before.

Done in a theatre in the round setting with a set that was sparse but cleverly done the three actors gave us a glimpse of what they bring to live theatre.

What I found, was that at the end of the play, I wasn’t thinking about the subject – betrayal – but I was thinking about the timing that I saw.  Those pauses were close to flawless, and that is not easily done.  The three actors were part of the same diminishing, soul destroying, trust trashing situation – each brought their own self-interest to their part – and each had their own unique way of handling the situations they faced.

It was a fine performance for each.  Thurlow who played the love interest to the wife of his squash playing friend  played by Mischa Aravena.  It was never clear if they ever actually played squash together.

Mischa Aravena plays one of two male lead roles in a Harold Pinter production that was part of the Hamilton Fringe event.

Emma, played by Kayla Whelan, had to adjust who she was, depending on which man she was talking to.  The switch back and forth between wife and lover was both demanding and complex – and done very well.

Aravena was able to evoke the pain of his wife’s betrayal,  the loss of the relationship with a friend and at the same time be himself.

It was a fine production that gave us a look at three young people honing their stage careers.  For their parents, it had to be a very satisfying evening.  In the past few months, Joey Edwardh,  Mother of Mischa and Mel, always had a handful of playbills in her bag which she would hand out to anyone and everyone she met.  She was shameless in the promotion of her boys and her boys left her with much pride and satisfaction.

Mel served as Director, which had to be demanding task, as he brought his acting team to the point where they both understood and felt the lines they were delivering.  The body movement, the inflection and those pauses – you had to have been there to appreciate them, were very well directed.  Watch for these three – we can expect to see more of them – perhaps on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre.

Why, one wonders, could there not be a joint Burlington-Hamilton Fringe Festival – something for the movers and shakers of this city to think about.

Now – to the Venetian waiter.  It was the bit part of bit parts to which Yehuda Fisher brought a touch that leavened the seriousness of the subject betrayal.  Parisian waiters are known for their sang froid, Venetians are apparently known for the time they need to get a cork out of a wine bottle.

The play was said to have been given a Canadian touch – I didn’t see or feel that.  What was evident was the reliance on alcohol to get through a conversation – of note was that neither Aravena or Thurlow ever reached for the Tanqueray gin that was on the always in sight bar – they seemed to favour whiskey – was that the Canadian content?

Return to the Front page

Burlington athlete advances to Olympic semi-finals in back stroke. Sinead Russell shows her stuff

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 29, 2012   Burlington has three native citizens in the 2012 Olympics..

Burlington’s Sinead Russell comes out of her start in fine form during the semi finals for backstroke event. (Photo courtesy Ian Macnicol/Swimming Canada

Sinead Russell advanced  to the semi-finals in the women’s 100 backstroke at the 2012 Olympic Games.

She will compete in the finals if she qualifies in Monday and Tuesday.


Return to the Front page

Burlington man struck by westbound freight train in the Plains Road – Brant part of the city.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 29, 2012  Early, early Saturday morning, the 28th – A Burlington man was struck by a freight train on the live rail tracks close to Plains Road West and Brant Street in Burlington.

Halton Regional Police were contacted by officers from CN Railways police to advise of an incident involving a westbound freight train.

Near a freight train at a railway crossing is a dangerous place to be. Burlington male struck by westbound freight at Plains Rd and Brant.

Police and paramedics attended at the scene, where a 23-year old Burlington male was found to have sustained multiple serious injuries.  The male was conveyed to Hamilton General Hospital, where his condition is described as critical.

Police will not be releasing the male’s details as family members are yet to be informed of the incident.

If you have any information relating to this accident please contact the Halton Regional Police  Collision Reconstruction Unit.

Return to the Front page

Has the Mayor moved into election campaign mode ? It’s a little early isn’t it? – but we don`t set the political agenda.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 27, 2012  Municipal elections have fixed dates in Ontario and the tradition has been to get out on the campaign trail mid-summer and then ramp things up in the fall with the hard push in October with the ballots cast in December – but Burlington`s Mayor appears to have looked at his prospects and decided he needs an early start.

The next municipal election is not due until December 2014 – but some residents saw a piece in their mail box that looked like an election pamphlet to me.

The Mayor says he dropped by the house – I wasn’t home. Documents like this were dropped off at 500 homes – tough weather to be out going door to door.

The Mayor announces that he dropped by, but I wasn’t in, and he wants my opinion on key issues – which he sets out on side two of the printed piece.

While the envelope was convenient – the address on it is city hall. If this is pre-election material, and it could certainly be described as that, the postage costs has to be absorbed by the Mayor personally.

Included is an envelope I can use to reply to the small survey.  The return postage is pre-paid with the envelope going back to the city.

What would prompt the Mayor to do such a mailing  at this time?

Professional politicians – and that`s not an insult – make a point of keeping their ears, eyes and noses to the ground.  It is essential that they pick up every nuance possible and be aware of the different, competing interests so that they can look for ways to balance those interests and develop policies that grow the city.

Is Rick Goldring now a professional politician?  It would seem that way.  He was a one term ward Councillor and ran for Mayor because he couldn’t stand the job the Mayor at the time was doing.  He had no idea he would win, many people in the city didn’t really know the man.

What resulted in Goldring`s win was the level of distaste for Cam Jackson.  No one knew how deeply people felt about Jackson and the job he was doing.  A full understanding of the way this city works is revealed in any close study of the 2010 election results, especially when they are laid over Jackson`s provincial election results.

Politics is the art of the possible and while Goldring really didn’t know what was possible he did tap into a vein of Jackson resentment which got Goldring elected.

We then watched Goldring fit himself into the office of Mayor.  He is close to that half way stage of his first term  and has decided this is something he will do for some time.

Thus the mailing that was dropped off at a number of houses in the city.  We are told that 500 of the pieces shown in this article were printed up.  I’ve no idea why the Mayor dropped one off at my house – my guess is that he didn’t know where I lived.  Had I come to the door when he knocked I`m not sure which one of us would have been more surprised.  But I digress.

Mayor Goldring is clearly using the summer months to get a sharper sense of what the issues are and what the sensitive spots might be.

He asks about taxes, he wants to know what you think about the Strategic Plan (which I`m prepared to bet less than 500 people (outside city hall) have actually read.  Not a word about the Pier, not a mention about the Beachway development; nothing about the downtown core and what we can do with what we have.

He asks about our rural areas but not a word about the Performing Arts Centre which is not as flaw free as many would like to think.

These were the questions the Mayor wanted to ask me. We could have had an interesting conversation.

While this is just a survey, an attempt to get a sense of where people are coming from, the Mayor doesn’t appear to “champion” anything.  What does this Mayor actually stand for?   What is it that really matters to him?

During a Council debate he once said: This is not a hill I want to die on – clever phrase – but what hill is he prepared to die on?

Well, he didn’t want a casino in the city.  He was so strongly opposed to gambling that he directed the city manager to reply to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation letter saying Burlington would take a pass on the opportunity to be considered as a Casino location and the opportunity to have slot machines in the city.

Many in the city would perhaps have seen merit in slot machines – didn’t matter.  The Mayor was not going to have any of that here.  It might have been more politic to have let people talk about the idea.  There was no public statement on this that we are aware of – don`t know if the Mayor sounded out his fellow Council members on his response either.

There was no mention of the Official Plan review in the survey and while there was a very small mention of transit and the Car Free Sundays the city held, transit didn’t get the kind of attention many in this city thinks it needs.

Does the survey suggest what the Mayor`s priorities are?   Probably too early to tell.

What the survey does tell us is that the Mayor is making sure he does his best to fully understand the lay of the political land he has to walk on.

Is “she”  likely to run against him?    She,  being Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.  Not a chance – unless something with the Pier goes terribly wrong – and then she will pounce all over Rick Goldring.

Meed Ward has a loyal following that isn’t really understood by her fellow council members. They feel she is doing the city more harm than good. Not a view shared by all that many people outside city hall.
Would she be a good Mayor – could be.

Could she beat him ? – possible if he really screws up on the way he handles any problems with the pier.  And make no mistake, there are problems with the pier and there are problems with the city`s legal case.  Recall that the city sued the contractor for not completing the job.  If the contractor can show that the job couldn’t be done with the plans he was given – that paints a significantly different picture.

Meed Ward wants the job of Mayor so badly she can taste it – but she is smart enough to know when she doesn`t have a chance of winning; and political office is so attractive to her that she will not risk losing her ward seat to take a long shot at the office of mayor.

Meed Ward doesn`t have one `friend`on city council, which doesn`t bother her all that much.  She has an agenda – and it isn’t all that bad an agenda either.

Goldring on the other hand doesn`t have an enemy on council.  He is conciliatory by nature and prefers consensus and will go some distance to get that consensus – but he does have a limit.  Roman Martiuk, the former city manager, learned that the hard way.

It will take some very fancy footwork for the Mayor to step around the problems the pier construction and its legal case could become.   We don`t know if there is going to be a serious pier problem – but the possibility is certainly out there and you know the people who are close to the situation huddle with the Mayor and the city manager regularly  to get a grip on what is going on.

The Mayor hung on to his “official opening of the Pier during Sound of Music in 2013” for far too long.  That suggests a bit of a tin ear when it comes to politics.  His “quality over expediency” is a much better phrase for him to use as he speaks to people.

We don’t know yet how much of a hands on Mayor we have.  He wanted the city manager, Council decided to hire  and the two work well together.  Jeff  Fielding brings considerable depth in civic administration as well as tools that this city has not used in the past.  He will make Rick Goldring a better Mayor than he would be on his own.

The legal side of the pier situation is being handled by lawyers the city hired.  The lawyers on the other side are a bit tougher than the Toronto based fellows we hired.  Many thought this case was one that had to do with simple contract law – we hired you to do a job and you didn’t do it – pay us for the damage you caused.  It is turning out to be quite a bit more complex than that – the original contractor is claiming that the structure he was asked to build could not be built using the design he was given.

Contractors work from drawings they are given that have the seal of qualified and certified architects.  The problem with the pier seems to be with those drawings.  The original contractor is believed to be claiming that he had no control over the drawings.  When a contractor sees an architects seal on a set of drawings – he must assume they are valid and structurally possible.

The city hired the design people.  If they have a claim it is with the people who did the original design work.

Senior city staff continue to claim there were no changes to the specifications between those given to HSS and those used in the second tender that was awarded to Graham Infrastructure.  That may not be completely true – but that will come out in the discovery process which is close to wrapping up – at least for one of the parties.

Obstreperous at times, noisy as well and leans a little more to the right than the demographic in his ward appreciates. Has developed some core resistance within the public transit advocates who could do him serious harm come 2014. Sharman didn’t win in 2010 – he just got more votes than the other guys – there is a difference. And he hasn’t managed to consolidate the base that voted for him

After many efforts to gain public office Blair Lancaster now has to learn how to develop a real working relationship with her constituents – she’s not there yet.

At some point all this is going to come back to city council where we will see all kinds of posturing on the part of the politicians.  Councillors Taylor, Dennison and Craven were part of the Council that decided the pier was a good idea.  Councillors Sharman, Lancaster and Meed Ward were new and can`t have this one hung around their necks.  The Mayor was the Ward 5 Councillor when the first layer of problems came to the surface – but he wasn’t part of the crew that made the decision to build the pier.

Come the 2014 election – there is the distinct possibility that Dennison and Taylor will not run again.  Both have been in Council a long time; both are tired and a real mess might be something they will choose to avoid and take a well-earned retirement.

That could be a problem for Burlington. Dennison and Taylor have the best council experience.  Craven is a strong council member and the pier mess doesn`t seem to have done him any harm.  He has a solid base in Aldershot that probably cannot be damaged.

Councillor Sharman has several problems of his own on his hands.  The transit mess is to a large degree his doing.  Did we lose the Director of Transit because of the way Sharman treated her

Lancaster isn’t making the inroads she needs to make within her ward.  She certainly didn’t earn the Dutch vote with the way she handled the naming of a park for our twin city Apeldoorn, and many of the people in the Beaudoin school district didn’t come away with the sense that their council member really went to bat for them..

Lancaster could learn a lot from Craven on how to serve and woo a ward.  She will never do what Meed Ward does and she is going to need a strong identity with her ward if she is to win re-election in 2014.

When you look at the possibilities: Sharman and Lancaster could be in trouble.  Dennison and Taylor could accept their gold watches and ride off into retirement.  That leaves Craven and Meed Ward (no love lost between those two) and the Mayor who has a good working relationship with Craven but not much time for Meed Ward.

The Mayor is learning.  Has he learned enough?  Does he have the capacity to learn all that he has to learn?  One wag very close to the political scene in this city made the comment that “the Mayor hasn’t turned out to be what we thought he would become, but he is the best we have and we need to make the best of that”.

That’s probably the best that can be said at this point in time.


Return to the Front page

Halton ranked safest regional municipality in Canada with a population of over 100,000

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 27, 2012  Based on federal government statistics, the Region of Halton is the safest place to be in all of Canada when compared to other cities with the same 100,000 or more population.

The Region is using the Statistics Canada’s 2011 Crime Severity Index released earlier this week.

According to the report, when compared to the 49 communities with populations greater than 100,000 across Canada, Halton has:

The lowest overall Crime Severity Index (33.6 in 2011, down from  37.0 in 2010);

The lowest Non-Violent Crime Severity Index (35.7 in 2011 down from 40.0 in 2010), and

The second lowest Violent Crime Severity Index (28.2 in 2011 compared to 28.0 in 2010).

Halton’s lower index values are consistent with crime trends across Canada, as Statistics Canada reported that the overall national Crime Severity Index was the lowest it has been in 40 years.

“These latest figures from Statistics Canada speak volumes about the effective partnership between our Service and the community to prevent, deter and reduce crime,” said Acting Chief Andrew Fletcher.  “It is an honour to have our Maclean’s magazine ranking as the safest regional municipality in Canada be confirmed by hard crime data provided by every police service in the nation.”

Statistics Canada introduced the Crime Severity Index in 2009 as a measure of severity of crimes committed in Canada.  Crimes are assigned “seriousness weights” which are determined by the number of people convicted of the crime who spend time in jail, and how much jail time those individuals serve. To calculate the Crime Severity Index, the number of incidents for each offence is multiplied by the weight of that offence.

Acting Chief Fletcher said that despite Halton’s low crime severity, there is always room for improvement.  In particular, he cited traffic safety, the victimization of seniors, youth crime, consumer fraud, and domestic violence as particular areas of focus for the Service.

While good police work is the biggest component of keeping a community safe, the demographic make up of the population plays a very large part as well.  Halton has some poverty and some ethnic diversity but nowhere near what the Region of Peel has nor anything close to the make-up of Metropolitan Toronto.

Stephen Tanner will get a new badge and a new office in September when he takes charge of the Halton Regional Police Service.

Halton is a very easy part of the province to be a police officer in – traffic is close to the biggest problem we have to deal with.  So while the statistics are good – they should be.

We have a new police chief taking office in September.  Stephen J. Tanner gets his new badge early in September.  Is there any major work to be done to whip the Halton Police Service into shape?  Is there anything pressing that needs immediate attention?  Is he going to be asked to come up with a budget that requires a little less than the HRPS has been spending in the past?

This posting is going to be a pretty easy gig for Tanner.  The statistics should be about the same in 2012 and for a number of years out into the future.

“Statistics don’t always reflect the very real impact crime has on people in our community every day. That’s why as a Service, we don’t simply rely on the numbers, but rather we focus on building positive relationships with the people we serve as one of the best indicators of how well we are serving this community.”

That`s a decent quote; says the right thing, leaves the right tone.  Not sure what it means.



Return to the Front page

Take part in an environmental research project: where are the Chimney Swifts? – great summer project for the kids.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 27, 2012  Would you like to be a small part of a scientific survey that will help determine why a small bird called a Chimney Swift is slowly just disappearing?

More than 90% of the Chimney Swift population has just disappeared and environmental scientists want to know how many there are left and where they go at night.

They have a pretty good idea but they need some help.

Chimney Swifts make their homes in chimneys in urban neighbourhoods throughout Ontario and are experiencing steep population declines across North America. Bird Studies Canada is looking for volunteers to help search for nesting locations.

Sootey coloured bird that make a chittering sound that is unmistakeable.  When there are hundreds of them in the same area the sound gets quite loud.

The Chimney Swift is a small, sooty-coloured bird that makes its home in open brick chimneys in small to large towns and cities. It can be observed in most urban areas, flying overhead in quick, sporadic movements, making a high-pitched chittering call.

The Chimney Swift is now federally and provincially designated as a Threatened species. The species was recently highlighted in the State of Canada’s Birds 2012 report as requiring urgent attention.

Swifts seem to want to roost at night in large chimneys.  Here we see some of the birds getting ready to enter a chimney.

Since European settlement, Chimney Swifts have preferred to live near people, nesting in chimneys rather than the cavernous trees they once inhabited. You are most likely to observe swifts using larger chimneys attached to buildings such as hospitals, churches, and schools. Some chimneys are roosting sites where swifts gather in large numbers. By late summer, you will see the number of birds at roosts increasing, with some sites offering spectacular displays of hundreds, or even thousands, of birds entering a chimney at nightfall. Then, suddenly, Chimney Swifts depart, migrating south for the winter.

The Swift is known as an aerial acrobatic bird – it darts about as it catches mosquitoes, a main source of its food.

The Chimney Swift is an aerial acrobat that belongs to a special group of birds called ‘aerial insectivores.’ These birds forage on insects, such as mosquitoes, while in flight.  The State of Canada’s Birds report notes that aerial insectivores are declining more steeply than any other group of birds. These declines are likely caused by a combination of factors, in Canada and in their wintering areas, including reductions in insect numbers, habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change.

Conservation Halton and Bird Studies Canada have partnered to learn more about the declines and their causes in Halton.

They are looking for help pinpointing Chimney Swift nesting locations in Halton.

People laying on the ground watching Swifts circle a chimney and begin to descend inside where they stay the night.

If you`re looking for something practical to do that relates to the environment give some thought to getting into the family vehicle and driving around places that have large chimneys and watching to see if there are birds flying around the chimney, dipping in and out of it.

Have some paper and pencil at hand and note the date, the time and the location.  If you can, take a picture as well and send a report off to or email

“Whether you see a single Chimney Swift or several of them entering a chimney, it is important that we know about that chimney,” states Kristyn Richardson, Stewardship Biologist for Bird Studies Canada. “Ontario supports more than 50 per cent of the Canadian population of Chimney Swifts, so there are thousands of sites that have yet to be discovered.”

For more information about swifts, how to look for them, and how to help them, visit their website at or the Ontario SwiftWatch Facebook page (


 What is a Chimney Swift? Chimney Swifts are small, sooty-coloured birds that make their homes primarily in chimneys. They are found in small to large urban areas. Chimney Swifts feed on flying insects, and spend most of their time in the air.

How do you identify a Chimney Swift? Chimney Swifts have a unique cigar-shaped body, long narrow pointed wings, and a very short tail. They nest and roost in chimneys. Their nests are built of small twigs secured to the chimney wall. They can be seen and heard flying above the urban core, or near larger institutions or industrial buildings. They do not perch on trees or wires, but cling to the interior walls of chimneys.

 Is this species in trouble? The Chimney Swift is federally and provincially designated as a Threatened species. Its population has declined by more than 90 per cent over the last four decades. It was recently highlighted in the State of Canada’s Birds report ( as a species requiring urgent attention.

 I think there might be Chimney Swifts in my chimney … now what? Chimney Swifts are relatively clean and quiet house guests. They are often mistaken for bats or other species. The Ontario SwiftWatch webpage, (, includes two factsheets that will help you determine whether you have Chimney Swifts, and what your next steps should be. Please see “Are There Chimney Swifts in Your Chimney” and “How to be a Good Chimney Swift Host.”

Dates to remember

  • Swifts arrive in Ontario: Early May
  • Nesting: June 9 to 25
  • Eggs: three to five eggs hatch, 20 days after laying
  • Fledging: 30 days after hatch
  • Roosting: July 7 to 23
  • Swifts leave Ontario: Mid-September to early October

What have we learned so far? Bird Studies Canada used Ontario SwiftWatch data to identify the Chimney Swift habitat requirements. We found that Chimney Swifts prefer to use larger and longer chimneys, attached to non-residential buildings. We also found that artificial towers do not provide a suitable environment for nesting swifts, which is likely why artificial towers in Canada have not been successful.

How can I help? We ask that urban residents watch and listen for Chimney Swifts. If you see them or hear their chittering, look for any nearby open (uncapped, unguarded) chimneys, and take a few minutes to watch for swifts entering or exiting. You can watch any time of day, but will have a much better chance if you return at sunset when the swifts are entering for the night. If you see swifts using a chimney, please tell us through the Ontario SwiftWatch online data form, ( Whether you know about one chimney, or 100, they are all important in helping us to better understand this unique member of our urban communities!

Kathy Jones, Ontario Volunteer Coordinator, can be reached at, 1-888-448-2473 ext. 124 (toll-free).




Return to the Front page

Here`s an opportunity to put an end to some yakety yak the city puts out three times a year. Save $50,000 at the same time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012  City Hall wants to know what you think about City Talk, the publication they produce three times a year that devotes half its pages to material from each council member and the rest to projects taking place in the city and listings of events.

Asking the question is a bold move – if the public says the thing is a waste of paper and money, will the city decide to no longer publish the magazine and then reduce the Public Affairs department budget by at least one staff member?

The department has a manager and two and a half staff plus a summer intern.

A staff writer with the Public Affairs department, Oliver Lee on the right works with council members at public events directing the flow of what takes place. Staff writers produce the media releases as well.  In this photograph Lee directs General Manager Scott Stewart, Councillor Lancaster and Mayor Goldring

While the Public Affairs department touts the magazine as something that is vibrant and essential to keeping the public informed – that’s not the word we hear on the street.

The magazine is distributed to 70,000 homes; costs $20,000 to produce and requires 105 hours of staff time to edit.   We are told that the publishing cycle is six weeks long and that much of that time is eaten up by Council members who want to edit and re-write their contributions.

Council members have web sites, email lists and all kinds of media access – they don’t need city funds to produce a magazine that, despite the comments Public Affairs makes, isn’t read or kept on coffee tables or kitchen counters.

The Public Affairs department, which publishes City Talk, is run by Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs. She directs a staff of 2.5 people plus a summer intern.

Public Affairs is managed through the Clerk`s office – not the best place for something as sensitive and important as the way the city talks to its citizens.  Media releases and public information should be under the firm hand of the office of the city manager.

The Mayor has his own people to manage and craft his message.  Public information is too important to be at the Clerk`s office level where media really isn’t understood.  The city Clerk is a very powerful position; almost semi-judicial in its scope and level of responsibility.  Most of the documents the city signs require the signature of the city Clerk.

A very short profile of the newly appointed city manager.  One doesn’t come away from this piece knowing very much about the man that runs the administrative side of the city and works to turn the direction from council into everyday policy.  More “happy talk” that journalism.


Nice layout, nice pictures but not very much about just how significant this project is.  It is one of the first times in the province where a Library Board, City Parks and Recreation staff and the School Board manage to work out the significantly different mandates they have and produce what will prove to be a sterling example of how cooperation can work.

The Summer 2012 issue had 28 pages, that includes the front and back cover,  of which 14 pages were used by council members.  Each council member got two pages to talk about the ward and the work they’ve  done.

There is an opportunity here to save $60,000 a year plus 300 hours of staff time.  It isn’t something the Public Affairs department will advocate,  but someone in city hall obviously suggested asking the public what they think  – sounds to me like this is the first step to getting rid of the thing.

But if the city is looking for a way to communicate meaningful information then how about a list of the top ten complaints that come into the city switchboard.  List those top ten for each quarter of the year.

There are city publications that are worth the money spent on printing them – the Parks and Recreation magazine is a good example.  City Talk is not a good example.

Some of the money saved could be shuffled along to Council members – add it to the office budget they have now.

Public affairs wants you to tell them what you think.  Don`t let them down.

Chances are that you can`t find your copy of City Talk – it went into the recycling box.  We have set out a couple of pages of the publication below.  It`s not a pretty picture.

Public Affairs wants to hear you.

What should we add?

What should we remove?

 What type of articles do you want to read?

What type of articles should we leave out?

How can we make City Talk better for you?

The city has posted an online survey: Click here to complete the survey.   

The survey closes Aug.10, 2012.   Summer isn’t the best time of year to go to the public for opinions – everyone is away for at least some of the time.  Extending the deadline to middle of September would make more sense – but then perhaps the Public Affairs department doesn`t want too many responses.

If you prefer, you can email your thoughts and opinions to: with your comments.


Return to the Front page

History takes another hit when vandals desecrate St. Luke’s Anglican Church Cemetery.

Redcoats salute a fallen soldier buried at St. Luke’s Anglican Church Cemetery as part of the War of 1812 celebrations.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012  Halton Regional Police Service is investigating damage to headstones at St Luke’s Anglican Church and Cemetery.

A lone suspect entered the property on July 15th at approximately 3:18 a.m. and was captured on surveillance video toppling two headstones.

The suspect is described as male, white, muscular build, short hair or possibly bald, wearing light coloured cargo pants and running shoes.  The suspect was shirtless, but carrying a shirt in his hand.

Special machinery will be required to reinstate one of the heavy headstones at a cost of approximately $1000.

Previous cemetery desecration in August 2007 resulted in a $12,000 repair bill.
(Photo courtesy Hamilton Spectator)

The headstones at St. Lukes have been damaged in the past.  In August of 2007, 22 headstones were damaged.  Previously to that damage was done to the cemetery on at least three other occasions.

St. Luke’s parish was built in 1834 on land given to First Nations Chief Joseph Brant for his services to the British crown during the American Revolution. His daughter later donated some of the land to the church.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)

Return to the Front page

Up half the night to tell taxpayers what is painfully obvious – no steel girders on the pier construction site yet.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012   Nothing yet – unless learning that a `tele-handler is on the site.  That’s it?  A tele-handler is a boom that zooms out and is used to offload material.  Problem with the Pier is that there isn’t anything to off load.

How come – and what’s the problem this time?  We were told that steel girders would be rolling into the city the week of the 23rd of July.

The large 40 x 10 foot steel plates arrived and went through several levels of testing.

This most recent round of testing – there are three levels of testing  done in each piece of steel as it goes through the fabrication process.  The problems with the girders being fabricated appears to be at the welding level.  The work gets past stages 1 and 2 but doesn`t make it past test / 3 – which means – it gets done again.

The current contractor isn’t the first company to have problems with steel not passing tests. Original contractor,  Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. has beams in his yard that he was ordered to take out by the city because they did not pass tests.  The city is doing much more rigorous testing and ensuring steel beams pass tests before they get to the construction site.

The city put out a press release with a date line of 2:01 am – that suggests someone was at a keyboard well past midnight crafting words that would give this mess the best possible look.  In the world of politics they call this the optics`.  There is a lot to be concerned about at the political level.  Many in Burlington want this problem solved – and there is no one who wants this done more than the senior levels of the city administration.  But they are, as General Manager Scott Stewart put it in an email to council members last night updating them, we are not going to let expediency get in the way of quality.  And quality appears to be taking time.

I should add here that Stewart doesn’t have Our Burlington on his email list – that information came to us from another source.

There are 39 steel girders that have to be cut from the steel plate and then bent and welded.  They get tested at the bending stage – three times – and then tested again at the welding stage – three times.

Getting the welds done right so that the pier holds up and lasts its 75 year life span is critical. Welding at this level is not all that easy.

When the welds testing is complete they move on to galvanization – which is a process of coating the steel in zinc.  There is little likelihood of problems at that level – but with this project – one never knows.

There is a lot of teeth grinding and many trips from Burlington to Kitchener by city staff.  Craig Stevens,  Project Manager Corporate Strategic Initiatives, was at the welding plant on Wednesday for a first-hand look at the problem.  Stevens and Stewart work hand in hand on this project and bring all the experience necessary to ensure there are no embarrassing mistakes made.  For these two professionals this project, which started before they became employees of the city, this is all very aggravating and embarrassing.

Foggy day and foggy view on just what is happening at the pier construction site.  Object on the right is not the pier, it is a trestle used to drive equipment along to complete the construction of the pier – which isn’t going to happen this month. Completion in 2013 is the target – let’s hope the weather cooperates.

While it is a city project it is really in the hands of the general contractor who has sent the work out to different sub-contractors.  Graham Infrastructure, whose head office is in Calgary, is the general contractor.  The city has insisted on being in close to daily contact with the president of Graham Infrastructure who recently met with city staff to review and see what could be done to the construction time line.

The city learned a month or so ago that weather could create problems with the pouring of the cement – that kind of work cannot be done if the weather is very cold.

Weather is now another very real concern.  There was nothing of note done in June; we have now lost all of July and there is no date set for the delivery of the steel girders.  And the city is not going to give out any dates other than to say – sometime in August – which is a smart move on their part.  The public just doesn`t believe what comes out of city hall because they have been misled so often in the past.  It was only at  very recent meeting of Council that the Mayor finally moved from his Sound of Music official opening date.  Senior staff are saying it will open when it opens and they want to be left alone to manage the project and make sure that no one cuts corners or looks for a fast way to get something done.

For those of us who live in Burlington and hear news reports of chunks of concrete falling onto the roadway underneath the Gardiner Expressway we can take some satisfaction that the pier is being built with a minimum life span of 75 years.  The Gardiner isn’t fifty years old and it’s falling apart.

The Pier will get built, there will be little hiccups and maybe even more delays but when that ribbon is cut and the deck is open to the public there will be immense civic pride and the Mayor will wear a smile that stretches from ear to ear – assuming of course that he is in office when the pier does open.

The city is now talking of a late fall 2013 opening date – next municipal election is December 2014.  That kind of calendar would cause anyone to look at the possible election scenarios.

In their press release the city, in its all is well language said: “Construction work continues on the Brant Street Pier while awaiting the arrival of main steel girders that are undergoing quality testing to ensure they meet specifications.”

There are several steps to producing the steel girders, which pass through three levels of quality testing. The steel plate used to produce the 39 main steel girders needed for the pier project has passed quality testing, however, the first four main steel girders did not meet rigid quality control when tested after welding. Seven more steel girders have now been made and are being tested.

“This is the only responsible way to manage this project,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “Time is important, but it is not as critical as the quality of the steel.”

“The city is working closely with its contractor, Graham Infrastructure, and other members of the project team to ensure the steel quality meets the city’s stringent specifications through the fabrication and welding processes. The main steel girders that were to be delivered this week will be delivered and installed in August.”

“Work is progressing on the Brant Street Pier. Construction continues on the ramp leading to the sandy beach beside the pier. A piece of equipment called a tele-handler, or zoom boom, is on site this week to help install a temporary steel platform to assist in the construction of the pier node.”

“It is important that the pier management team communicates updates in a timely way,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure. “We will continue to keep the community posted and share the good news once the steel girders are ready for installation.”

The city does have to be given credit for being much more transparent that it was under both the former city manager and the former Mayor.  That is a plus and the taxpayers should respect and appreciate this new approach to keeping them informed.

Much of city council is away on vacation.  Councillors Craven and Meed Ward are out of the country.  The Mayor is due to head to Newfoundland for a vacation.  Councillor Dennison is around, Sharman is believed to

With no steel to work with construction workers do the small jobs that would normally get done at the end of the project. The pathway that leads to a beach that was formed on the western side of the pier wasn’t even part of the original plan. No one knew the beach would get formed the way it did..

be at his cottage.  Taylor and Lancaster are unaccounted for but just look for Taylor’s dog and John will be close by.

The City Manager has a firm grip on the process and is well backed by Scott Stewart who is backed up by Craig Stevens.

Now if we can get the welders to produce welds that pass the tests – we will see flat bed trucks wheeling into town with four or five beams on each load.  That’s going to mean more than eight trucks.  The city might want to have the Burlington Teen Tour Band on hand to welcome the caravan.

Stay tuned – there will certainly be more on this story.

HSS continues to operate his construction company while dealing with the legal problems that came out of his decision to walk away from the project and turn the keys for the construction site over to the city.

On the legal front, the city is now in the discovery stage of those proceedings – we get to look at their documents and they get to look at what the city has. Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., (HSS) is understood to be using some pretty tough legal counsel to defend himself against the law suit the city filed seeking damages in the millions.  Many thought, maybe even hoped, that HSS would declare bankruptcy and that would solve the problem.  Those who harboured those thoughts didn’t understand Henry SS.

While senior city hall staff struggle with the problem welders are having, the people over at the Simms building where the legal people do their thing, get daily updates from the outside counsel the city has hired.  One can imagine the frustration the construction people are going through – it is nothing compared to what the legal people are agonizing over.

Think of the possibilities here.  The Pier doesn’t open until sometime late in the Spring of 2014 and the legal people realize they didn’t have the case they thought they had and they settle out of court.  Imagine that happening.  There are a number of people doing just that – and trying to figure out how best to approach such a situation.


Return to the Front page

Your summer cukes“ and tomatoes could get the “treatment” from an organic cook.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 26, 2012  Have you got baskets of fresh produce on your kitchen counter because their was a produce stand on a country road you were not able to take a pass on?   Maybe you were one of the lucky ones to get a plot in the Community Garden behind the Library ?

Michelle Gatien, who is the Market Cook for the Harbourside Organic Farmer’s Market in Oakville is going to put on a cooking class at St. Christophers Church next week.

While I don’t personally think there is any limit on how much fresh asparagus one can eat – there are those who wonder at times what to do with all the fresh food.

Michelle Gatien, who is the Market Cook for the Harbourside Organic Farmer’s Market in Oakville is going to put on a cooking class at St. Christophers Church next week.

Michelle asks: Need to know what to do with all those” cukes” and tomatoes? Join us in the kitchen to explore seasonal recipes and preserves with ingredients straight out of your garden.`

$5 fee. St. Christopher’s Church, 662 Guelph Line, Tuesday, July 31 at 7 pm. Register to attend and you are entered into a draw to win a prize!

The event is being promoted by BurlingtonGreen and is one of those community things that tends to pull together people with similar passionate interests.

Gatien takes gardening and cooking very seriously.  Her blog has almost daily entries on what has popped up and what the heat is doing to her vegetable garden.

Return to the Front page

Spaces available for city summer camps during August; five locations. Register through city hall web site.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 25, 2012  If you haven`t figured out what you want to do with the little ones during August the city might have a solution for you. There are still spaces available in the City of Burlington’s Summer Neighbourhood Activity Program (SNAP) camps.

Funny hats and smiling faces – all part of the summer day camp experience.

SNAP camps are for children between five and 10 years of age, with mini-SNAP for children from three to five years. SNAP offers a variety of activities including games, sports, crafts, songs, and fun weekly events and trips. The SNAP camps are $27 a day (except on trip days), and provide a safe, fun environment for children.

The locations with availability are:

Aldershot Community Pool: 50 Fairwood Place (Adjacent to Aldershot High School)Burlington, ON, L7T 1E5Phone: (905) 637-5688 Fax: (905) 637-4966

Rotary Youth Club: 560 Guelph Line (in Central Park) Burlington, ON, L7R 3M4  Phone: (905) 335-7738 Fax: (905) 335-7837

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Elementary School: 2222 Country Club Drive, Burlington, ON L7M 4S5 (905) 331-4656

St. Elizabeth Seaton Catholic Elementary School: 5070 Dryden Avenue, Burlington, ON L7L 6Y3 (905) 331-7246

Skyway Arena: 129 Kenwood Avenue Burlington, ON, L7R 3Z6Phone: (905) 632-1717 Fax: (905) 632-8839

Brant Hills Community Centre: 2255 Brant Street, Burlington, ON, L7P 5C8 Phone: (905) 335-7720

Summer Neighbourhood Activity Program (SNAP) locations:
(1) Aldershot Pool; 50 Fairwood Place West; (2) Alexander Public School, 2223 Sutton Drive; (3) Ascension Elementary School, 5205 New Street; (4) Brant Hills Community Centre, 2255 Brant Street; (5) C.H. Norton Public School, 2120 Cleaver Avenue; (6) St. Elizabeth Seaton Elementary School, 5070 Dryden Avenue; (7) MM Robinson High School, 2425 Upper Middle Road; (8) Rotary Youth Centre, 560 Guelph Line; (9) Sacred Heart of Jesus Elementary School, 2222 Country Club Drive; (10) Skyway Arena, 129 Kenwood Avenue.

SNAP spaces are also available from Aug. 20 to 24 at the Brant Hills and Rotary Youth Centre locations. To register, visit RecExpress on the city web site.

If you are new to Parks & Recreation you will need to apply for your Family PIN and Client I.D. Numbers. Go online to and go to RecExpress /My Basket / Create New Account.

Registering is easier said than done.  It`s certainly not a user friendly site but here is the rigmarole you have to go through. When you get to the RecExpress web site:

Click on the Login button (top right hand corner).  That is IF you are already a register RecExpress user – if you aren`t scroll on down and learn how to register

Enter your Client ID and Family PIN Numbers.

Search for programs by clicking on the Program Icon, Program Tab or use the Continue Shopping Button.

Click the Add Button to add your selection to your “shopping” Basket.

Select Client Selection to assign a family member to a course.

Select either the Continue Shopping Button if you wish to register for more programs OR if you are finished shopping, click the Go to Checkout Button and make your payment.

You must make a payment to finalize your purchases.

Print a copy of your confirmation as a copy of your transactions.

There is no age limit for summer camp.

Once your payment transaction has been authorized by your credit card company, your registration will be confirmed and you will be mailed a detailed confirmation. During non-peak registration times your credit card will be authorized while you wait.

I don’t have or want to use a credit card over the Internet. Can I still use RecExpress to register?

You can make a payment on your Parks & Recreation Registration Account in person at a Customer Service site. Customer Service sites accept the following forms of payment: cash, cheques, debit card, American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Once the credit is applied to your account, you will be able to register via RecExpress and the cost of the registration will be deducted from the credit balance on your account. You will need to ensure that you have a sufficient balance to cover the full cost of your purchase(s). RecExpress will only validate your shopping trip if all programs are paid in full.

If you`re not registered – here`s the drill on doing that.

What are Family PINS and Client I.D. Numbers?

To use both self-serve options – RecExpress by phone and RecExpress through the Internet, you must have your access numbers: a Family Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Client Identification (I.D.) Number(s). If you are a current client with Parks & Recreation your family has been set up with its own Parks & Recreation account and has been given a Family PIN number that is shared with all family members. Each member of your family also has their own Client I.D. Number. In RecExpress any family member can sign in and register other family members.

Your Family PIN Number identifies your Family to the system. Your Client I.D. Number tells the system which individual is signing in. Both numbers are combined to provide an extra level of security for you within our database. Your PIN Number should be kept confidential and can be changed by you at the top right of the My Account screen.

If you are new to Parks & Recreation you will need to apply for your Family PIN and Client I.D. Numbers. Go online to and go to RecExpress /My Basket / Create New Account.

What is a TTR (Barcode) number?

Each course is identified by The Technology Registration (TTR)number assigned in the database. Customers use this number to select a specific course with both self-serve options – RecExpress by phone and RecExpress through the Internet. You can find a course TTR number by looking in our current Live & Play Guide. Once you know the TTR number of the course you want, you can register using the express route in RecExpress. If you do not know the TTR number you can browse through our listing of activities.

I told you this wasn’t easy.  Call your Council member.


Return to the Front page

Burlington high school gets $1000 reward for best Eco-Club. Burlington Mall donates the reward. Aldershot Transit Ambassadors get gift cards.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 25, 2012  Aldershot High School took the cash – $1000 donated by Burlington Mall, which was the prize for the school with the best Eco-Club.  The cash goes to the high school`s Eco-Club – each of the Youth Ambassadors at Aldershot got $100 gift cards.

This is the second year in a row that Aldershot High has taken the prize.

The BT-YA program launched in September 2011 with two ambassadors from three participating high schools; Aldershot, Bateman and Nelson. The BT-YA program, in partnership with BurlingtonGreen and its youth network, is designed to help promote environmental messages and lead transit awareness through local high schools. The ambassadors are in charge of promoting environmental messages, leading in transit awareness and running events in their high schools, in exchange for rewards like gift cards, movie passes or PRESTO cards, as well as cash rewards to their school Eco-club initiatives. The program helps youth build leadership skills and expand their knowledge of promotion and marketing.

From the left: Kale Black, BurlingtonGreen; Sandra Maxwell, Burlington Transit marketing coordinator, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven, Billi Krochuk, Aldershot Highschool BT-YA; Donna Shepherd, Burlington Transit director; Paul Carvalho, Burlington Mall operations manager.

“The BT-YA program is all about being eco-friendly and having youth lead in creating a better future. Our young people, including leaders like the BT-YAs have played a valuable role in fulfilling our future goals of creating a green Burlington by promoting transit in their high schools and through events such as World Car-Free Day,” said Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven.



Return to the Front page