Burlington hosts Badminton Championships at Haber Recreational

SportsBy Staff; Photography by Oliver Hannak

April 25, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON. It was six days of solid competition during which the courts at the Haber Recreational Centre got a solid work out as more than 250 Masters level badminton players went after the Canadian Masters Badminton Championship.

Kumar - eye on the bird

Dave Kumar, head of the organizing committee that brought the badminton championships to Burlington keeps his eye on the birdie

The Canadian Masters Badminton Championships is an international event for Badminton players aged 35 and older. Badminton players were expected from at least 10 countries to compete in 10 age groups (+35, +40, +45 etc.). Previous Masters Championships have had more than 300 entrants representing more than 16 nations.

High jumper - badmintonBadminton - expected winner red jerseyBurlington showcased the event in its brand new state of the art Haber Recreational Centre.  The event is part of a planned badminton  sport awareness leading into the 2015 Pan Am Games to be held July 10–26, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Badminton - oriental lady reaching red shoesBadminton - great jump - leg upBadminton Canada’s mission is to be an innovative and highly respected sports organization that is the leader in contributing to badminton becoming the most successful racquet sport in Canada and the world by enabling Canadian athletes, coaches and officials of all ages, cultural background and skill level the opportunity to excel at badminton and in life.

Two woman crouching - badmintonKumar rushing the net - doublesDave Kumar, an unsuccessful candidate for municipal office in 2010, is a member of the Burlington Committee of Adjustment.

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Ward 5 candidate wants them to all “take a hike”. Were remarks directed to council incumbent Paul Sharman?

News 100 redBy Staff

April 25, 2014


It’s getting noisy out there. Earlier in the week Kelley Arnott announced she was going to contest the ward 2 seat and try to take Councillor Marianne Meed Ward down and then James Smith the declared Ward 5 City Council Candidate urged all who value the Bronte Creek Trail and who might be concerned about a proposed fence to “Take a hike!” – Sunday, April 27, 2014 from 1– 2:30 pm at the Orchard Community Park, Park Building 2255 Sutton Dr., Burlington, where Becky Ellis, Landscape Architect, Burlington Parks and Recreation Department will be conducting a public information session.

Smith says he will be there looking at the samples of fence styles and thanking the people who, through their own efforts,  got the city to pause and to take a step back from their arbitrary fencing plans.

Snake Rail(2)

Snake rail fencing made out of cedar that lasts for centuries would be a good fit for a nature trail.

Smith, who sometimes lets his words get a little ahead of his thinking was blunt and very direct when he suggested the “leadership skills of the present City Councillor: were deficient. Smith claims that Sharman was quoted in local media (not us) didn’t want to get involved. “Do I really need to have a community meeting where I clearly have two sides at odds with each other in the room,” he said “I don’t think that will yield anything that we already don’t know.”


Smith argues that dangerous places can have fencing that meets the need and maintains the view. While it will be a frosty June Friday before Burlington every builds anything this substantial the point is made that it can be done 0 that there is more than six foot chain link fencing out on the market.

Smith claims the “the citizens of Burlington really owe a debt of gratitude to Trent Schwartz and other concerned residents who brought attention to the City’s plan to slap-up a chain link fence along the trail. If you planned to put up a fence in your backyard, you’d do more than stick a note in your neighbour’s mailbox telling them “Oh, by the way this is what we’re doing.”

Smith went on to say he “was shocked by these comments back in December “In my experience, when a situation arises where there are two sides at odds with one another, that’s exactly when one needs to have a community meeting! It’s not about a fence, it’s about leadership, it’s about listening to reasonable and differing points of view and working to build consensus and it’s through this process is how we build a community. Thankfully we have some people in the Orchard who care about this issue and kept it alive so that the present Councillor had to act. People tell me he’s only interested in bookkeeping, to me the councilor’s words speak volumes about his disinterest in community building.”

Sharman can give as good as he gets; the race for the ward 5 seat could be the most entertaining in the city. Councillor Sharman has yet to file his nomination papers.

Sharman had hoped to provide pictures of the fencing ideas the city was working with – but he couldn’t seem to get a city hall staffer to send him anything.  So much for a city Councillors clout.

Smith isn’t relying on the bureaucrats – he wants the public to make the decisions. “This is a process,” he said  “and we can’t just jump to a solution. We need to evaluate the situation, plan our response, listen, modify if required, and then act. In this case it looks like we rushed to a solution. Smith added ” Reinforcing and improving the natural beauty of the trail should be part of the criteria in any solution, where a fence is objectively seen as required.”

” I don’t blame City Staff, they were responding to a perceived safety issue. City Staff did their job. The failure” said Smith “is with leadership. We need to have a City Councillor who’s not only on top of these issues but can deal with them timely and sympathetically when they do arise. Since Mr. Schwartz and others raised the fence issue it has taken almost five months for the City to organize an information session. I know the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly but FIVE MONTHS? We should have had a full discussion about the safety of the trail and how to address it in the autumn of 2012 after the two kids were rescued from the ravine. “

Smith said his experience volunteering in Burlington over more than two decades has taught him how to successfully resolve issues like this one. I look forward to meeting members of the community on Sunday and listening to what they have to say about how to make the Bronte Creek Trail, Ward 5 and Burlington better. That and taking a hike!”

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A product recall – a marijuana recall? Purple Kush didn’t meet the quality standards – it is all going to go up in smoke.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 24, 2014


  The Harper government is having one helluva time getting its stuff past the Supreme Court.  Last month it was dealt another blow.  More like ‘smoked’ than ‘blown’ actually, as another piece of Mr. Harper’s psychedelic puzzle for controlling whacky-tobaccy went up in smoke and got knocked into the ash can of Canadian drug history. 

  I can understand the PM’s fears.  If sick people, whom a doctor has determined require access to the medicinal herb, continue growing their own, as they have been doing legally, it might lead to chaos.  Gangland killings will become as commonplace as they are in Mexico; children clipping buds off their parent’s pot plants will get hooked for life; food prices will skyrocket as dopers feed their munchies; and Rob Ford will do another Hollywood in an Etobicoke apartment.  Oh wait – that was crack-cocaine!

 So our sober-faced PM, who claims to never have experienced the pleasure of a toke of nirvana, decided to axe all the private mom and pop grow-ops in one fell swoop.  Only commercial outfits would henceforth be allowed to grow the heavenly herb, under the ever-watchful eye of Health Canada.  There is even a rumour that some chemist called Heisenberg will be brought up from New Mexico to monitor weed quality.  Marijuana, like lettuce, spinach and tomatoes, is susceptible to moulds and bacteria after all, so you can’t let just any backyard gardeners grow their own.  

Marijuana Medical use only -

There are tens of thousands of people using marijuana under prescriptions from doctors for medical reasons

 And pesticides are a definite no-no.  Dope-heads learned that lesson the hard way back in the 70s’ when the US drug enforcement agency (DEA) was forcing the Federales to aerial spray Mexican crops with a lethal herbicide, never thinking that the farmers were going to harvest and sell the pot anyway.  As that velvety smooth Acapulco Gold made it’s way to markets all the way up here, the DEA got a whiff of what it had done and started freaking out. 

So the middlers and dealers were asked to send some of the evil weed for government testing.  And sure enough, almost a quarter of the samples had been contaminated by that deadly pulmonary toxin, Paraquat.   Well that was enough to make you stop smoking your ‘shit’.  No wonder Clinton never inhaled.

It is estimated that the Canadian market for medical mary-jane in the next few years could reach almost half a million users.  So why not turn this growing enterprise into a big corporate business?  That way taxes could be collected to help keep dope smokers in the expensive new private prisons which Mr. Harper’s government is building for them?  Increasing the commercial supply of grass makes perfect sense for a government, otherwise committed to stamping out reefer madness.

Marijuana - lady smoking

Managing pain is one of the reasons people get a prescription to use marijuana for medical reasons.

 Then one of the new commercial grass-growing ops, with the almost hallucinogenic inducing name of Greenleaf messed up.   Whether it was pesticide use, bacterial contamination, or unintentionally over-strength THC (the fun component) hasn’t been confirmed.  But if you or your buds ordered your medical buds from Greenleaf – stuff with the cool handle of ‘Purple Kush’ – yeah you read that right – you have to send it smack back and the company will ship you a bag of fresh ganga in return.  

 Then Health Canada tells us that if you’ve already “bogarted” all your Purple Kush – and not blown your mind yet – don’t sweat it because it’s no big deal.  Is it any wonder the Tory attack ads tell us that Justin Trudeau’s stand on marijuana legalization lacks judgement?

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


  Background links:

Court Decision      Recall

Purple Kush

 Quality Product

  Medical Marijuana     Colorado Grow Your Own    Paraquat     More Paraquat     Market Potential


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Insight Burlington survey – doing just fine. Want in? Read on – Leah wants to hear from you.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 24, 2014


See it as a Jeff Fielding legacy.  It was a good, if expensive idea, and hopefully it will get used by Pat Moyle, the incoming interim city manager and whoever the city hires as its full time city manager later in the year.

Fielding was a believer in listening to what the public had to say and he wanted to hear opinions but didn’t like the time most of the processes for gathering opinion took.

A chum of his, Angus Reid, sold him on the idea of using an electronic service ($100,000 a year) and he signed the city on for a three year deal.

It took some time to get the public to go with the idea and the number of participants isn’t as high as Fielding wanted them to be.  There was always a little suspicion on the part of some people that the city would “know” who they were.  The city can never know who you are personally.  They don’t have access to that level of information – it isn’t on city computers.

The service is one that is run out of Vancouver – the city just creates the questions and the Vancouver people run the questionnaire.  Right now the city is looking into how people get information from the city.  There is a website – terrible thing – try finding something on it.

There is the three times a year magazine that is more puff and fluff than any really useful information.  There is the annual community report that is – how does one put this – selective in what they say about different projects and issues in the city.  Nice layout and design – but it doesn’t tell people anything they didn’t already know something about.  It doesn’t delve into the issues. And there are issues.

There are the full-page advertisements in the newspaper; then there are the newsletters that Council members send out.  I’ve yet to read an opinion in one of those newsletters that is the least bit controversial.  Pablum for the most part – just plain bland.  Voters want to know what their council members think.  They would like to be educated on the issues – not placated by men and woman who want to do everything they can to assure their re-election.

The most recent Insight Burlington survey tries to dig a little deeper on how people get their information about the city.  It begins with:

Hello Insight Burlington Community

This survey is about how the city communicates with residents.

It is very important for us to learn about where you get your information from on services, upcoming events or neighbourhood meetings. Are the tools we use effective? Is the information easy for you to understand?

Connecting with more people in the community is important to us and we need to learn from you, on where to focus our efforts.

This survey required about seven minutes.  What was intriguing about the questionnaire was the way the person taking the survey manipulated information on the screen.

The data base that holds all the information on each participant knows if you own a home or live in an apartment; knows if you are male or female and your age.  They have a rough idea of your income and the postal code you live in.  But they don’t know WHO you are.

So- when they have the results of this survey they MAY know (the results haven’t been tabulated yet) for example that people over 60 prefer the newspaper and no one really like the Community report.  And, again, for example that no one manages to get very much from the city web site.

If you want to take part in future surveys – email Leah Bisutti – Email Me –  and she will direct you to the right place on the city web site.

Insight April 2014 # 3

The way one answered this question was really cool. You just dragged the question into the order you wanted the information to appear and if you wanted to change your mind you just clicked on the little buttons to move things up and down. while it took less than seven minutes to complete the survey – you might find yourself playing with it for a while.

Insight April 2014 #1

The layout is neat, clean and clear. It is very easy to understand and it allows you to change your mind.

Insight April 2014 #2

The green progress at the bar tells you how far along you are in the questionnaire process


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Letter to the Spectator editor altered on Air Park web site: still a “lousy neighbour”

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 24, 2014


It will not be news to our regular readers that we are involved with a potential lawsuit with the Air Park Inc.  They have taken the position that the Gazette libeled them in a number of articles we wrote recently.  We don’t believe we did any such thing.

The Gazette has covered this issue since June, 2013 when an Appleby Line resident alerted us to the number of trucks taking landfill onto the Air Park property.

We have recorded and reported as well as we could the various stages this situation has gone through from the point at which the Air Park said they were federally regulated and did not have to heed municipal bylaws through to the court case which resulted a decision from Justice John Murray that said the Air Park was required to comply with municipal by laws. 

When a corporation or an individual for that matter is ‘under the gun’ they begin to focus on the public perception of what they are doing.  There was a time when Vince Rossi had very little time, if any, for senior people at city hall.  “We got ‘the finger’ frequently” was the way one senior city hall bureaucrat put it.

With an appeal due to be heard in less than a month Mr. Rossi has begun to work on his image.

We recently saw a piece he wrote in the Spectator, which we have set out below. 

By Vince Rossi

As the owner of the Burlington Executive Airpark, I am proud of our long and accomplished history in Halton Region.

Vince Rossi, president of the Burlington Executive Air PArk and beleived to be the sole shareholder of the private company, met with north Burlington residents.  He took all the comments made "under advisement"..

Vince Rossi, president of the Burlington Executive Air Park and believed to be the sole shareholder of the private company, met with north Burlington residents. He took all the comments made “under advisement”.  Councillor Craven wanted to know why he was such a lousy neighbour.

The airpark opened in 1962. Since that time, it has served as a flight training centre, an aircraft maintenance base, a recreational flying facility and a key transportation hub for Halton residents and businesses.

Thousands of pilots have received their training at Burlington Airpark, many of whom are now airline pilots who safely transport thousands of Canadians every day. The training and maintenance facilities, along with the charter services, are independently owned and provide skilled employment opportunities for our community. In addition, there are jobs for those who provide services to the airpark and the businesses located there.

Many leading companies, including Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz Canada, Evertz Microsystems and L-3 Communications, use the airpark for the transportation of people and key materials.

… every test of neighbouring streams and wells has met or surpassed federal and provincial environmental standards.

The airpark is also used for patient transfers and organ donation flights, given its proximity to medical institutions that serve Burlington, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga and Hamilton.

Ontario’s air ambulance service uses special facilities installed at the airpark for advanced training.

The airpark is also used for law enforcement, search and rescue, military and ambulance flights.

Finally, the airpark is home to a thriving recreational aviation community. It is the host of community service events such as educational flights for school groups, the semi-annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Airlift and serves as a partner and rest stop in the PwC Epic Tour Halton, a regional biking event.

There is a shortage of smaller general aviation airports in southern Ontario with reasonable proximity to cities. The airpark is a unique and essential asset for Halton Region.

But we want to improve and do more.

I purchased the airpark from the Kovachik family in 2006, having done my own flight training here.

Since then, I have invested more than $4 million in infrastructure improvements. I have not received financial assistance from any level of government. This has included widening and improving both runways, adding taxiways, improving the refuelling facilities and building additional hangars.

We have always been open about our plans and goals to improve the airpark. Over the years, we have posted plans on our website and we have held a yearly reception as well several open houses and barbecues that have been attended by neighbours, airpark users and politicians of every level. At these events, we have shown our improvements and plans for the future.

Our efforts to improve the airpark were halted in July of last year, after complaints were raised by a few of our neighbours, some of whom had only recently purchased their homes. They made unsubstantiated claims that the fill being imported to level the remaining airpark lands was waste, which, of course, it was not.

The situation then became political. City of Burlington councillors repeated the unsubstantiated rumours of contamination. The City of Burlington, citing its site-alteration bylaw, took steps to stop the improvements. Despite the fact the airpark is federally regulated, we met with the councillors, city officials and our neighbours to try to address everyone’s concerns reasonably. Notwithstanding, the mayor of Burlington publicly vowed to take whatever steps the city could to stop the infilling.

To be clear, every test of neighbouring streams and wells has met or surpassed federal and provincial environmental standards. There have been six inspections, studies and/or tests carried out since 2009. None have indicated a problem with the fill or an adverse impact on local water. Further, after discussions with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the airpark is in the process of voluntarily completing the most comprehensive study to date by carrying out a test well program.

Sadly, we and the city are spending time and money in court to find out whether the city is entitled to control improvements at the airpark. During the past 60 years, courts across this country have held that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the location, design and materials used to build and improve airports. There are more than 1,400 airports across Canada. It would be chaos if each one was subjected to different municipal standards, which is what the courts have consistently held. We hope for a resolution in June.

Airpark dumped more than 30 feet of landfill without a Site Plan.  Owner of the adjacent property stands on her property line and wonders why anyone can build a "small mountain" next to her property without getting approval.  She is also retified about what the hill is doing to the vlue of her property and what the leaching out of the landfill is going to do to her well water.

Airpark dumped more than 30 feet of landfill without a Site Plan. Owner of the adjacent property stands on her property line and wonders why anyone can build a “small mountain” next to her property without getting approval. She wonders where the respect for her property rights is in all this.

I’ve always respected our neighbours and the City of Burlington and was hopeful that we could have reached a compromise that protected and enhanced the interests of all parties.

In the meantime, the Burlington Executive Airpark will continue to serve the interests of our community, and our region. We’re here for the long term and look forward to moving forward with our neighbours.

Vince Rossi is the owner of Burlington Airpark Inc.

Before the “I have always respected …” paragraph, Rossi has added the sentence: “I am saddened the situation has come to this” and after the paragraph he added the words: “I’m an optimist. I still believe it can happen.”

It is this changing the record and adding comments to suit his purposes that have resulted in the very deep mistrust between Vince Rossi and his neighbours.  This distrust has been evident from the very first delegation at city council when lawyer Glen Grenier was speaking and ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven asked:  “Why is your client such a lousy neighbour?’

The relationship between the city and the Air Park didn’t get any better for some time.  It appears that the Justice Murray decision and the pending appeal have persuaded Mr. Rossi to begin talking in terms of “a compromise that protects  and enhances the interests of all parties.”

Many people in rural Burlington feel it is a little too late for that.  They want the landfill out and tomorrow won’t be soon enough.  Justice Murray said what north Burlington residents wanted to hear: “This court has determined that the by-law is valid and binding on Burlington Air Park Inc.  The issue of enforcement is left to the municipal authorities.

One observant reader passed along information on the Air Park web site and described it as “highly selective and manipulated information”.  That is where we came across the different version of the piece that appeared in the Spectator.  Any detail of the  Justice Murray decision is hard to fond on the Air Park website.

Background links:

This battle has been going on since June of 2013


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Pythons’ Pit finalists announced: presentations at DeGroote on Saturday.

Private Sector AANews 100 redBy Staff

April 23, 2014


The Pythons are back.  This annual event created by the Rotary Clubs of Burlington is an occasion for entrepreneurs in the commercial world and students at high schools who think they have good commercial ideas to get some of the technical help they need as well as some capital to grow the business idea.

Pythons’ Pit provides an avenue for creative, entrepreneurial residents and students of Halton Region and beyond to pitch their business concepts and product ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of real business moguls from the community. Open Category applicants can win up to $150,000 in start-up capital and a package of in-kind professional services to help launch the business. High School applicants can win cash prizes up to $2,500 or a bursary of up to $5,000.

Entrepreuners - person stepping ahead -graphic

The Pythons look for that person will a bold idea and a vision; those that step forward and show initiative and drive. These are the people that keep an economy growing.

There are two categories Open and High school students.

The Open Category entries this year are:

GymChum – Aydin Betez

Country Basics – Ted & Lisa West

V.M. Enterprises – Vincent Marchese

Tetra Biologicals Inc. – Bruce Robinson & Thurkathipana Navaneethan

Ranggo – Noha Abdelaziz & Peter Basil

Finalists in the High School Category are:

NORSAF Technologies – Jack Greenburg, Garth Webb Secondary School

Smart Tasks – Jennifer Palfi: Bishop Reding High School

Smart Tap – Jessy Kang; Abbey Park Secondary School

Fashion on Wheels – Nita Stranaghan & Katie Henderson; Georgetown District High School

Cyclo-Charger – Mark Suan: Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School

Leading the event as Emcee this year is Connie  Smith, well know local television personality.  The program is brought to the community by McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business.  Presenting sponsors are: Royal Bank and the MNP Group

Students winners last year were:

Ryan Muil, a Grade 12 student at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School in Georgetown, won first place and $2,500 for his already successful company Muil-E’s Hot Sauce, that Ryan founded when he was just twelve years old.

Jasmine Mercer, a Grade 11 student at Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, won second place and $1,000 for her Mobilization of Restaurant Software – an application she developed, which offers solutions to problems Jasmine encountered while working in the restaurant industry.


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Region adds dates to ice storm brush clean up in rural Burlington.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 21, 2014


Rural Burlington is getting more time to gather up the brush that resulted from that ice storm in December.  If you’ve driven around the Escarpment area you will have seen the thousands of trees that have been severely damaged.

ICE STORM Millar road closed

Remember the December ice storm and roads that looked like this? Now all that brush brought down by the ice has to be cleaned up.

The Region continues to work closely with the Local Municipalities to implement a coordinated ice storm related bulk brush collection program,” said Gary Carr, Regional Chair.  “As the extended program will not start until May 5, staff will work with the Local Municipalities to help with the set-up of temporary transfer sites, if required, within non-serviced areas so that residents and contractors can drop off brush at no charge.”

Brush clean up - broken treesThe collection dates are:

• May 5 to May 23, 2014 – Milton, Thursday Area 1

May 20 to May 30, 2014 – Burlington, Thursday Area 8

• May 26 to June 6, 2014 – Halton Hills, Wednesday Area 1

• June 9 to June 13, 2014 – Halton Hills, Friday Area 2

• June 16 to June 20, 2014 – Milton, Monday Area 2

Brush by road sidde

Expect to see a lot of piles like this along the rural road sides.

Residents who have bulk brush materials that are larger than three inches in diameter must make their own arrangements to have the materials collected and taken for disposal. These larger materials are unable to be collected safely in standard yard waste collection vehicles.  Storm related brush debris and chipped materials can be dropped off at the Halton Waste Management Site by residents and contractors from across the Region free of charge until June 30, 2014.





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Council imports retired Regional CAO to serve as interim city manager: Patrick Moyle moves in May 1

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 23, 2014


Mayor Rick Goldring announced today that Patrick Moyle, recently retired Chief Administrative Officer  Halton Region, will be the city’s interim city manager effective May 1.

Current Burlington City Manager Jeff Fielding is leaving Burlington May 16 to become city manager in Calgary.

Amazing – these senior municipal civil servants do bed hop in a serious way.  When Roman Martiuk parted ways with the city of Burlington, Council decided to have General Managers Kim Phillips and Scott Stewart share the job of acting city manager on a rotating basis.  That worked just fine.  When Jeff Fielding was hired and given a five year contract he and Scott Stewart worked exceptionally well together and most believed he would be tapped as the interim until a new city manager was hired.

Fielding’s leaving after just 26 months of a 60 month contract stunned many.  His leaving has left a number of critical files without the kind of leadership needed – most critically the mediation of the pier dispute to take place in June.

Stewart has been doing double duty since last October when he got dropped into the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) to oversee the operation of that organization while it went through a re-structuring.

Stewart has also been the lead on the Air Park issues and the efforts to get the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to release the results of the testing that has been done for problems related to possible contamination of the water table. Many people are thinking in terms of contamination of runoff water from what has been described as an  “unlicensed landfill operation”.

Stewart, who wasn’t with the city when the tender for the second pier contract was issued, was the lead on the second effort to get the pier built.

In the city media release Mayor Rick Goldring said” “Under Jeff’s leadership, we have accomplished a tremendous amount of work in the last two years, setting us on the path for Burlington to become one of the most innovative and creative cities in Canada.,”  “Putting Pat Moyle in place will give Burlington’s senior management team the resources they need continue to focus on significant initiatives and projects that are underway.” 

The senior management team didn’t need any support during the six months it took to hire Fielding.

Patrick Moyle

Patrick Moyle, former CAO of Halton Region will serve as interim city manager starting May 1

Moyle’s most recent appointment, after retiring from the Region, was as a Senior Advisor with Strategy Corp, where they make mention of his considerable public, private and not for profit experience,

He added: “A full, open search for Burlington’s city manager will begin later in 2014, and will include both internal and external candidates.”  Can you imagine if the city said internal candidates would not be considered?

I suspect there is at least one candidate polishing a resume for any municipality looking for a strong leader who gets things done.  Mayor Goldring brought out his favourite chestnut and said once again that as “Canada’s best mid-sized city, we can attract the best talent in municipal government.”     

We thought that when we hired Fielding didn’t we?  We seem to be able to hire them – why is it we can’t keep them?

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Meed Ward to face a challenge for the ward 2 city council seat – Arnott announces.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 23, 2014


By Pepper Parr

April 23, 2014


An incumbent council member that we thought would be acclaimed will face a competitor for the ward 2 seat.  Kelly Arnott has advised us that she intends to announce her candidacy at the eatalia restaurant on Brant Street on April 28th.  We have been invited.

Incumbent ward 2 councillor Marianne Meed Ward has changed the way things got done at city council and while many were uncomfortable with her style the sense was that her strong ward association gave her a lock on the ward.  Now there will be a ballot with at least two names on it.

There are people in this city – and on this council, that would love to see someone other than Meed Ward sitting beside ward 1 councillor Rick Craven – especially the member for ward 1.

Arnott is the organizer of the immensely successful but controversial Half Chilli Marathon that takes place the first Sunday in March.

Some people who live along lakeshore Road take exception to the closing of the road.  The lead up to the 2014 race saw some of the longest and most drawn out delegations to city council over the road closure.  City council voted to continue with the race.


Kelly Arnott’s entrance into the civic election and her decision to contest the ward 2 seat will draw a very clean line between two opposing views as to the kind of city the people of Burlington want.


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Air Park lawyers threaten to sue for libel – Gazette considering its options.

News 100 blackBy Staff

April 22, 2014



We received the following recently.

Burlington Gazette

Burlington, Ontario

Dear Sirs:

 Re:     Burlington Airpark Inc. -Libel Notice to Burlington Gazette

 We are the solicitors for Burlington Airpark Inc., the operator of  the  Burlington  Executive Airport (collectively “Airport”). This letter is to serve as notice pursuant to s. 5(1) of the Libel and Slander Act R.S .O. 1990 Chap. L.12.

Under    the    date    of    April     11,    2014    the     following     appeared     on    the    website https://www.burlingtongazette .ca/:

“Was it the cold winter that resulted in hundreds of dead fish floating on the pond of the Appleby Line property that is surrounded on three sides by the Air Park land fill or is the death of the fish the result of toxic and silt filled water now in the pond?

The argument  as to whether the land fill was going to do any real damage has been simmering in the background.   Some  testing was done but the

A spring fed pond with hundreds of fish – normally. Today wasn’t a normal day on the Appleby Line property.  Hundreds of dead fish were floating n the water this morning

Ministry of the Environment got involved in a struggle over who was entitled to the information from their testing results -privacy issues came into play and the privacy officers at every level  of government seem to be taking the time they feel they needed to determine just who can see what.

The spring fed pond is yards away from a mountain of landfill that was never properly tested when it was dumped on the property.

Runoff from the landfill is now getting to the water table -dead fish are showing up in the pond.

Some of the evidence may have come to the surface – literally, for one resident. Hundreds of dead fish were found floating on her pond this morning . That pond is yards away from a 30 foot high pile of landfill that is in place in violation of the city’s site alteration bylaw.

The property owner advises that the Ministry of the Environment will be on her property later today to test for contamination in the pond.”

These publications are false and misleading in at least the following respects:

1.         The soil was tested. Results to date in 2009 were reviewed by Region of Halton which reported to the City of Burlington: “The results for all criteria meet the Regional and Provincial standards (potable) as required in Table 2 of the Soil, Ground Water and Sediment Standards for Use Under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.”

2.         The Airport is not contaminating the groundwater. Multiple tests  by  Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (“MOE”) and  Halton  Region  have shown no impact on groundwater.

3.         When the City of Burlington reported the results of the Halton Region testing of wells on properties bordering the Airport in its Burlington Executive Airport Update #6- September 9, 2013: “On August 23, city staff were sent an email by the Region of Halton regarding testing of wells on several properties adjacent to the airport. The email indicated that the MOE and the Halton Region Health Department were working together to sample and analyze the drinking water wells of homes located immediately adjacent to where the fill was placed on the airport site. Well water samples were collected by MOE staff from two properties. The samples were being analyzed for inorganics, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic  aromatic hydrocarbons  and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Results of this testing were provided to the Health Department. The results were then compared to the health-based Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards and the Ministry of Environment Table 2 Brownfields standards. The Region has indicated that no exceedances were reported. These results have been shared with the property owners. Permission was given by these property owners for the Health Department to share the results with city staff.”

4.         These results were also discussed at the Burlington Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting on September 9, 2013 where it was reported: “On to Environmental matters on page 3 -the well testing. You can see the correspondence that’s come in from your CEO over at the Region of Halton.  That work is being done in co operation with the Health Unit.  That’s flowing through the good Doctor [Nosal], so the results will , continue; they have been shared with the property owners and the Health Department and we’ll get that information as it comes forward. Nothing negative at this stage and that is not unusual to see that there isn’t anything negative that would migrate from the site and be into any wells anyway, at this stage.”

 The publication was actuated by malice justifying an award of punitive or exemplary damages, in that you caused these words to be published knowing them to be untrue, or being reckless as to their truth.  In particular the Airport will rely on:

1.         The publication of an article dated April 9 2014 reporting on the filing of nomination papers by Vanessa Warren. The article, when fairly read, is an endorsement of her candidacy. The article repeats earlier defamatory claims that the Airport was importing “toxic landfill” and was running an “unlicensed landfill  operation”.  Both  these allegations are untrue. The July 16, 2013 article in which these claims were made is still available on the Burlington Gazette website, and the Airport claims with respect to these statements as well having been made less than one year prior to April 11, 2014.

2.         The Burlington Gazette reported on the testing of neighbouring wells on August 5, 2013. This report is also inaccurate in claiming that the Terrapex study established that any contaminants were migrating from the Airport property. Terrapex did not comment on off-site impacts as that was not part of the scope of work assigned to it by the City of Burlington. In addition, it bad not done any testing that would have been required to comment on off-site impacts. The August 5, 2013 article in which the false claim that the Terrapex report was evidence of off-site impacts by the Airport is still available on the Burlington Gazette website, and the Airport claims with respect to that statement as well, having been made less than one year prior to April 11, 2014.Nevertheless , as a result of the reports by the City as set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 above, you knew or ought to have known that the tests of neighbouring wells showed no adverse impact due to the Airport and that the City of Burlington had advised the community that there wasn’t anything negative that would migrate from the site and be in any wells anyway. The failure to report these results was selective reporting intended to maintain the fiction  that  the Airport land was adversely impacting the neighbours, when the tests specifically performed to determine whether that was so were to the contrary.

Our instructions are to pursue legal proceedings unless the defamatory statements in the articles of April 11, 2014, July 16, 2013 and August 5, 2013 are retracted and a full and fair apology satisfactory to our clients is published in the same fashion and in an equally prominent way as the statements specified in this notice.

The notice was signed by Peter West, solicitor for Air Park Inc., carrying on business at the Burlington Executive Air Park.  The Air Park is currently in litigation with the city.  The cases were first heard at the Ontario Superior Court in Milton where Justice Murray found for the city.  The Air Park immediately filed an appeal that is to be heard in Toronto June 11, 2014

Background links:

April 14, 2014 article

July 15, 2013 article     July 16, 2013 article     August 5, 2013 article   April 11, 2014 article   Libel chill     Justice Murray decision

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Libel chill – what does it mean? Is it real? It is very real and sometimes, but not always effective.

BackgrounderBy Staff

April 22, 2104


In an issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism there was the following article which we have excerpted.

The journalist’s badge. That’s how Ron Adams, host of CBC Radio’s Media File, referred to getting sued. He was questioning Jock Ferguson of The Globe and Mail about libel chill. Lawsuit phobia, if you prefer-the notion that the threat of fighting legal actions, with their high costs in time and money, often inhibits aggressive reporting. For some journalists, getting sued may well be a badge, a testament to their profession. For many others, including those who make the final decisions, the possibility can be intimidating in the extreme.

Libel chill graphicThough there is nothing like a consensus on how pervasive libel chill is in Canada, it has nevertheless become the basis of a movement to liberalize our libel laws, particularly their onus on the media to prove the truth of what they publish or broadcast. American law, under which the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, is looked to as a model.

The current libel laws “certainly didn’t hinder the Globe last fall when it ran “Behind the Boom,” an eight-part series exposing the corruption surrounding land development in York Region, a formerly rural municipality north of Toronto. Ferguson and co-writer Dawn King spent 10 months interviewing over 200 people, working closely with lawyers and even allowing counsel to meet three controversial sources, all so they could get the story straight. For their efforts, the Globe has been served with a libel notice to the tune of some $20 million.”

“But the story had another more important effect. After reading about the close ties between city councillors and developers, and about the conflicts of interest, voters were able to bring their outrage to the polls. The result: Allan Duffy, the mayor of Richmond Hill, and Carole Bell, the mayor of Markham, were defeated. Now both face investigation by York Regional and Ontario Provincial Police.”

“Under the threat of litigation, the Globe made sure its stories were airtight. “We wrote only what we could prove. There were a number of things we were close to proving, but we wrote only what we could prove,” says Paul Palango, the paper’s city editor. And that, as far as Palango is concerned, is as it should be. Being able to back up what’~ printed is a given. It doesn’t have to limit reporting. The “Behind the Boom” series is proof that the media can do their job within the existing legal framework. As for the Globe, it’s confident that if it should go to court it will win. Palango feels strongly that this kind of aggressive, thorough reporting is the best way to fight the chill. It all comes down to getting the goods, being determined and publishing the stories.”

“Many editors share this conviction. While those at large dailies such as The Montreal Gazette and The Toronto Star pride themselves that their own coverage is just as intense, others acknowledge that the chill is real.

“So does Stephen Bindman, president of the Centre for Investigative Journalism and national reporter at The Ottawa Citizen. “Libel chill is certainly out there,”he says. “I think most reporters can give you an instance of someone saying ‘Oh well, I’ll sue you,’ and if it doesn’t necessarily stop you from doing the story, it at least gives you cause for concern.”

“For its part, the Globe isn’t worried about the 130 notices it’s received over the past five years. And it’s unlikely that any of them will go to court. This situation is typical of Canadian libel actions. Although there are no statistics, most media law specialists agree that over 90 percent of all libel actions never go to trial.”

“The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the 1978 Quebec Superior Court award of $135,000 in the case of civic politician Gerald Snyder against The Montreal Gazette. Before the record Snyder suit, awards throughout the country usually ranged from under $1,000 to $75,000. But since there is no ceiling on damages, that could easily change pending the outcome of the Reichmann family’s action against Toronto Life.

“The billionaire Reichmanns are suing the magazine for $102 million. The dispute is over an article that ran in the November 1987 issue. In it, freelance writer Elaine Dewar traces the rise of the Reichmann family fortune. The Reichmanns claim the legitimacy of their business dealings is being questioned and the family honor is at stake.”

Toronto Life ended up apologizing to the Reichmann’s.

Jeffrey Shallit, a University of Waterloo computer scientist and a noted advocate for civil liberties on the Internet wrote a piece recently in which he argued:  “It’s time to reform Canadian libel law”

“Environment Minister Tony Clement is suing Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty for remarks he made in a CBC radio interview. Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard are suing investment adviser Richard Lafferty for his comments in a 1993 financial newsletter. In 1997, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sued the Federal Government, asking $50 million in damages, over a letter naming him as a suspect in the Airbus case.

“What gives these powerful politicians the ability to shut down criticism and criminal investigations? The answer is Canadian libel law.

“Under the current legal regime, you can be sued for anything you say about another person that damages their reputation. If sued, the onus is on you to prove the truth of your statements; the fact that you genuinely believed them to be true is not good enough. Even truth is not an absolute defence — if the court finds you told the truth but your intent was malicious, you might lose anyway. Canadian libel law is so draconian that people come from all over the world to file libel suits in Ontario.

“The impact on freedom of expression, a core value of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is severe. There’s even a term for it: “libel chill”. Libel chill means that people are afraid to criticize powerful people who might bankrupt them with a costly suit. It means that commentators have to think twice before needling public figures — as cartoonist Josh Beutel learned when he was sued by controversial New Brunswick school teacher Malcolm Ross. Ever wonder why there’s so little investigative journalism in Canada? The reason is simple: libel chill.

“Stringent libel laws may have made sense five hundred years ago, when British royalty wanted to stop the nobility from dueling by giving them a legal remedy against character slurs. But we don’t live in the time of Henry VII any longer. Debate on political issues can’t be robust and wide-open if the threat of a libel suit hangs over you.

“Today, if someone tries to ruin your reputation, there are many avenues of redress. You can hold a news conference, take out an ad on radio or television, or set up an Internet web site to tell your side of the story. These methods are cheaper than a lawyer’s fees and certainly safer than a duel.

“It’s time for Canadian libel law to be brought in line with 21st century realities. A good first step would be to reverse the burden of proof in lawsuits involving public figures: the plaintiff, not the defendant, must prove the statements in question are false. Furthermore, let’s exempt statements of personal opinion or belief, and force the plaintiff to prove that the statements were made with malicious intent.

“If we don’t act, the likely result is millions of taxpayer dollars going to fund the legal bills of rich politicians who know how to dish out criticism, but can’t take it.”

Libel chill is very much a part of the Canadian media scene.  Later this week we will tell you more about that chill and how it works.

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City to hire an interim city manager – name will be announced on Tuesday.

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

April 21, 2014.


Sometime on Tuesday Mayor Rick Goldring will announce the name of the interim city manager who will take over from current city manager Jeff Fielding who has taken up a job in Calgary.

The decision was made last Tuesday in a CLOSED session of a Standing Committee meeting.  Unfortunately there was a glitch in the taping of the meeting.  The web cast of the portion of the meeting that covered events after Council came out of closed session did not have any audio attached to it. 

Ensuring that the web caster is in place before a meeting actually resumes would have helped.  City Clerk Angela Morgan seemed to have some difficulty controlling the meeting which resulted in people talking without being properly recorded.

Council was in closed session for close to an hour and a half and we now know that they made a decision to hire an interim city manager who will start May 1.  Jeff Fielding, who has been in Calgary a few times since the announcement of his resignation, will be away for all of the week of the 21st.  He completes his time with the city on May 16th and starts in Calgary June 1.

The Mayor will announce who the interim city manager is to be on Tuesday.   We do know that the person will not be a current city employee and we are told he is not from Hamilton.  Most of the sources we talked to were pretty tight lipped on Sunday and Monday.

City administration leadership team: city manager Jeff Fielding on the left with general manager comunity and corporate services, centre and general manager, development and infrastructure Scott Stewart on the righ

Before Jeff Fielding, on the left, was hired as city manager General Mangers Kim Phillips and Scott Stewart shared the  role of acting city manager for several months.  That’s not the route council is taking this time around.  Council has decided to bring in an outsider on an interim basis.  There are some noses out of joint over this decision.  Councillor Craven voted against the decision.

Council members are putting a brave face on the situation and saying “off the record” that staff has everything well in hand and that the city manager isn’t needed at this stage.  And if you believe that – there is a bridge in Brooklyn I can get you a very good deal on.

City staff is going to have to now undergo the third significant cultural change since this Council took office.  The city parted ways with Roman Martiuk in July of 2011 and brought in Jeff Fielding in December and gave him a five year contract that came to an end 26 months later.

Every leader brings in a style, a culture and a way of doing things that is unique to them.  Martiuk would not allow his general managers to hold meetings without his being in the room.  Fielding was much more open and encouraged his staff to look at things differently.

He also brought a new approach to the way the city is going to develop its budget with the focus on Results Based Accountability, Business Process Management and Service Based Budgeting.  There is no rocket science to these approaches but they are significantly different than what has been done in the past and the staff implementing these changes need direction and guidance until everything is in place and the knots worked out.

Burlington’s 2015 budget process is going to be something to watch.

The discussion during the CLOSED session of the Standing Committee decided on who was to be hired – there apparently wasn’t any time to actually interview at any length.  Former city manager Tim Dobbie, who is part of the Mayor’s re-election campaign, is believed to have been one of the advisers to Council.

The vote to hire the interim city manager was not unanimous.  Councillor Craven voted against the decision Council had made and apparently asked that the vote be identified. Recorded votes are not taken at Standing Committee but Councillor Craven wanted his vote on the record.

Councillor Sharman spoke for a minute or two at the end of the meeting but his voice was not captured – so we do not know what he had to say.

There is awkwardness to the way the hiring on an interim city manager is being handled.  Council are still reeling from the decision and are, it is reported, none too happy with their city manager being in Calgary at this point in time.

Few believe Fielding left Burlington for an annual salary increase of $65,000  Did he leave just because there was a better opportunity?   After just 26 months in the job? There is a reason for all this and in time it will all come out.


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Tyler Patzalek comes home – will catch for the Burlington Bandits and build on his Notre Dame achievements.

SportsBy Staff

April 20, 2014


The Bandits are bringing some strong local talent to the team – they recently announced their signing of ace Burlington native ball player Tyler Patzalak for the 2014 season.

Tyler, a three time IBL Champion with the Brantford Red Sox, returns to where it all began for him when he played in the BOMBA leagues.  Patzalek lead his Notre Dame High School baseball team to the Ontario (OFSAA) championship in 2008 and earned 3 team MVP awards during his high school career.

Patzalek Tyler - in crouch

Bandits liked Patzalek’s leadership and his athletic, aggressive style of play and see him as the first local talent they have on the team’

In 2010, Patzalek continued his baseball career at Maine University on a baseball scholarship. While at Maine Patzalek was honoured with conference player of the week awards several times over his 3 years at Maine and was named a second team All-Star for America East conference for his 2012 season.

During the past four summer seasons, Patzalek played for the Intercounty League’s Brantford Red Sox. From 2010 to 2013, he amassed 468 at bats and won 3 championships.

Patzalek now back in Burlington on a full-time basis, he is planting new baseball roots firmly in Burlington soil as an assistant coach with the BOMBA minor pee wee Bulls, as an instructor for BOMBA’s house league development program. Tyler has also been named Lead Instructor for the first Burlington Bandits Youth Baseball Camps taking place between July 14th and July 25th at Nelson Park.

“Tyler will be our starting catcher, but will see time at other positions as well. He is a very athletic, versatile player,” said Manager Kyle MacKinnon. Solid catching is a prerequisite for any good team. With Tyler Patzalek and Peter Bako (2009 Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick) sharing time at the position, we should be in great shape.”

Tyler Patzalek is one of the best players to come out of Burlington for many years. “We couldn’t be happier to have Tyler with the Bandits. I have known Tyler for many years and have followed his baseball career closely over the last seven years. We love his leadership and his athletic, aggressive style of play. The fact that he has won 3 league championships is a bonus. He will be able to convey to the younger players what it takes to win in this league,” said General Manager Craig Bedford.

President and owner Scott Robinson was thrilled with the signing. “Tyler Patzalek is one of the best players to come out of Burlington for many years. Going forward, we want the Bandits’ roster to include the best Burlington players available. Tyler is an important part of meeting that objective”.

The Bandits open their 2014 season on the road for a May 4th match up with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This newly heated rivalry will pit your Burlington Bandits against former team MVP Darryl Pui who was traded to Toronto in the off-season. Burlington will then return to Nelson Park on May 10th for the Bandits Home Opener. Tickets are available now online or by phone at 905-630-9036.

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500 children in Halton used to go hungry on weekends: Food4Kids changed that – they want to extend into the summer.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 18, 2014


Covering city hall means listening to people talk.  After a while you get to know pretty well what a council member is going to say.  You can`t watch a group of people for three years and not learn something about each of them.

There are four newbies; three council members and a Mayor who have grown in their jobs to various degrees and as we get further into the election campaign we will write about what we have observed.

There are two other groups we get to listen to: staff and the reports they deliver and delegations.  Some staff members do fine work, a few are superb – some made the wrong career choice.

It is the delegations that are really interesting.  Some are there to represent an interest group; some are there to complain, others to ask for something very specific and some are at the podium to tell a story and hopefully influence council.

Those delegations that are appearing for the first time are the most interesting.  We never know what it is they want to say.

Food4kids - group

In some communities children like this go hungry on the weekends.

Like every advocate for the less fortunate,  Lena told stories about individuals and the impact they have had on her and her organization.  She wanted Council to hear how difficult it is for some people.  The family where the father had to go on disability and the mother who gave up working to take care of the father.   It wasn`t long before the savings were gone and the family was relying on food banks and social support.

Truthfully, I tend to tune out for many of these delegations.  Council always listens politely realizing there isn’t much they can do – social welfare is a Regional responsibility

Lena Bassford and Food4Kids saw the need and began providing packages of healthy food for kids aged 5-14 years with limited or no access to food each weekend.

Packages are prepared by volunteers and delivered to schools each Friday to ensure children have nourishment over the weekend.  There were 1,200 children in Hamilton and 500 children in Halton going without food on the weekends.  Food4kids took the position that when kids leave school for the weekend, they should not have to worry about how they will be fed. 

Bassford explained how her organization works with other groups; Food for Life; Food for Thought and the school boards which was the capture point for Food4Kids.

Then Lena made a point and my head snapped up – she described a boy that was standing outside a school early in the morning – and in an instant I realized she was talking about me.

The boy, part of a single parent family, three children and a mother with a grade four education who worked as a domestic.  Mom was paid $5 a day and car fare.  On those days she didn`t get paid – “I don`t have any cash in my purse, I`ll pay you next week “– meant Mom walked home and we had Habitant Pea Soup for dinner.

There were no food banks in those days.  When there wasn`t soup in the house we would get sent to the Stop & Shop with a note for Reggie the manager and came home with some food.  We always thought Reggie was an uncle, he was around the house quite a bit.

As Lena Bassford talked she mentioned the social cost of not ensuring children had food in their stomachs.  A student can`t concentrate on math problem when their stomach is growling.  When the household situation is really bad – petty theft begins and sometimes grows to the point where a boy figures it out.  I don’t have to go without – I can just take what I want; my hands are fast enough and if they see me I can run very fast.

Or the boy meets other boys who have stealing down to an art form.  And the realization that this is a way to gets what you want sets in.  The male family figure isn’t in the house, there are no core values being taught, there are no values being handed down.

Food4kids - bag + appleAs a society we are quite happy to pay for social workers, police officers, correctional people (jail guards), prisons, lawyers, judges, parole officers – the list of people in place to handle people in conflict with the criminal justice system is astounding.  If a quarter of that money was spent on prevention – making sure that 10 year old boys got fed on the weekends, we would save society a lot of money, a lot of grief and a lot of pain.  Of course all the people in the criminal justice system would be without jobs

Lena Bassford explained the Food4Kids core concept: they provide packages of healthy food for kids aged 5-14 years with limited or no access to food each weekend.

Packages of healthy food are prepared by volunteers and delivered to schools each Friday to ensure children have nourishment over the weekend.  There are 1,200 children in Hamilton and 500 children in Halton sustaining each and every weekend without food.

Imagine  if we became the first community in Canada to say  No child in our community is hungry.For many children Bassford explained “hunger isn’t just an occasional missed meal; it is a way of life. Children who live with hunger develop physically and socially at a slower pace than their peers. Chronically hungry children experience higher levels of anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability and aggression. Chronic hunger results in students with lower attendance rates at school and lower academic performance. Even relatively short-term nutritional deficiencies can negatively impact a child’s health, causing cognitive and developmental damage that prevents them from performing at their full potential.”

Councillor Lancaster asked the obvious question: What do you do in the summer?  Bassford  explained that a program is in the process of being developed that will provide food for these kids during the summer break.

What does it cost to provide the complete program annually?  $500,000 – of which every penny is raised by the organization.  Note a dime from the municipal, regional, provincial or federal governments.  That’s about what we spend for five police officers.

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Gratitude, being gracious to one another – here’s how they do that at city hall – 2800 times this year.

Event 100By Pepper Parr

April 19, 2014


Most of the information that comes to Council is through reports staff create and submit to a Standing Committee.  Sometimes council members will want specific information and will issue a Staff Direction.  And on some occasions a council member will mention something they picked up along the way as they dealt with staff.

Last week Councillor Marianne Meed Ward told Council of a city program run by the Health and Wellness section of the Human Resources department that takes place once a year – usually in the Spring.

The object of the program is to create an “attitude of gratitude”. Outgoing city manager Jeff Fielding explained that the initiative grew out of the push to strengthen engagement with staff – there were a bunch of new things for them.  But the initiative came from staff.”

Each city hall department has a Wellness representative and once a year any staff member can approach the Wellness representative and ask that a “gratitudeogram” ( a word only a bureaucrat could make up) be sent to a specific person.  The sender has to write a note and give the Wellness representative a twoonie.

All the notes are collected and sent to the HR office who then order chocolate bars, hundreds of chocolate bars from Walkers Chocolate.  “The milk chocolate caramel bar is 51g, said David Walker.  It appears that the two most recent orders placed within the last 2 months were for nine 9 cases (180 bars/case). That is a total of 1620 chocolate bars

The bars get sent to the city and distributed to staff members.

Sounds a little hokey?  Perhaps,  but as Meed Ward explained the program, she sounded a little like a Girl Guide, all excited over the Cookie program she was running.

For Staff members it must seem kike Valentine’s Day at an elementary school; who got how many Valentine’s and who did they get them from?

This is the second year the program has been running.  In the first year 900 chocolate bars were distributed, this year there were 1400 chocolate bars distributed.  That means there were 2800 touch points – the sender and the receiver were each touched by the program.

Getting an award for being the Employee of the Year highlights a single person, the “gratitudeogram” is a one to one program and highlights hundreds of people.

The staff member we talked to said we could take part in the program – not sure about that – but we paused and wondered who would we want to send a note of gratitude to  – and a surprising number of names came to mind.

Sometimes the Gazette struggles with a staff member to get information for a report we are writing but far more frequently there is a “how can I help you”  response that deserves a “gratitudeogram”.

A gratitudeogram - a word only a civil servant could make up - but it works at city hall.This program highlights hundreds of people.  We asked a staff member in communications: “How many did you get, she paused and said “three. It might have been four”

We asked the Mayor how many he got – Rick Goldring said he had never heard of the program; Councillor Taylor didn’t get any either.

The program isn’t meant to be a popularity contest – just a day in the year when Staff members are given a small way to say thank you to a fellow staff member.

The cost to the employee is $2 – the chocolate bar costs $1 – the difference is goes into a fund and distributed to some worthy organization.

When we called Walkers Chocolate they weren’t able to give us total numbers right away; David Walker later said he didn’t realize there were quite that many bars going to the city.  Walker’s has a number of staff appreciation products and admitted that 1400 was quite big.

Big at the city hall staff level too.



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It really isn’t about just coloured eggs – is it ?

opinionandcommentBy Staff

April 17, 2014


The kids love them, grandparents have a great time hiding the coloured eggs and parents learn to deal with the sugar high that follows that Friday morning fun.

It’s something we do – harmless but at some point those children should hear the story and let them decide as they grow what they choose to believe.

But there is another culturally historic story behind those Easter eggs.

Easter egg hunt

It’s not the forty loaves story is it?

Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, are decorated eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. As such, Easter eggs are common during the season of Eastertide. The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans. Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth.

In Christianity, the celebration of Eastertide includes Easter eggs symbolizing the empty tomb of Jesus: though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life.

One can argue for years over the concept of a risen Christ – but the facts are, there was a man who was crucified – his name was Jesus.  The rest of the Christian tradition is a matter of faith.


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Election round up; what things look like on a ward by ward basis. Some upsets possible.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 17, 2014


Just over six months to go before the people of Burlington cast ballots for the city council they want to lead them though an uncertain future.

What is surprising to many is that just Meed Ward and Mayor Goldring have filed nomination papers.  Ward 6 candidate Mina Wahidi believes the incumbents should have filed their papers the first day.  Mayor Goldring did just that.

Catherine Henshell has her eye on the council seat for Ward1

Catherine Henshell has her eye on the council seat for Ward1

Ward 1: Incumbent Rick Craven said at a recent council meeting that he expects to be back at the horseshoe next November – he has won consistently in that ward in the past and Aldershot has certainly done well by Craven.  Too early to tell if Craven has a race on his hands. Catherine Henshell and Jason Boelhouwer are going after the same council seat.

Ward 2: Councillor Meed Ward has this sewn up.  The only circumstance that will find someone else in that seat is if Meed Ward decides this is the time for her to run for Mayor.

Ward 3: John Taylor is in for as long as he wants to be a member of city council.  Lisa Cooper is running against Taylor – again.


John Sweeney began to turn up at public meetings once he nominated himself for the Ward 4 council seat.

Ward 4 has three candidates who have filed papers.  John Sweeney is the most visible with Steve Kempf and Alexadre Kubrick in the race.  Don Baxter doesn`t like the look of any of the ward 4 horses in the race. ” I am hoping we see a solid slate of candidates for Ward 4. I am encouraging potential candidates to throw their hat into the ring. While neighbourhood protection is a key issue for Roseland Community Organization, being a Councillor also requires an understanding of the complexity of municipal government – sometimes, looking in at city hall with your nose pressed against the window, the board game looks like checkers but the game is really chess.” 

Incumbent Jack Dennison has traditionally waited until June each election year to file and then works full time at getting re-elected.  Many believe Dennison is waiting for the outcome of his OMB hearing before deciding if he still wants to be a politician.

Ward 5: While Councillor Paul Sharman has yet to file his nomination papers he has a “re-election” website up and running.  Not much on the web site, found at https://www.paulsharman.ca/  

We asked Councillor Sharman if it was appropriate to have a re-election web site visible before filing nomination papers.  Sharman said he didn’t have a web site up.  But – it’s there.  The picture is dated but the words re-elect are very clear.

The race in the ward is looking like a two man race with incumbent Paul Sharman tangling ever so politely with candidate James Smith while Smith does a delegation on a development in the word.  We’ve heard nothing from the other nominated candidate – Ian Simpson; we expect to interview him later in the month.

Wahidi - good straight lookWard 6:  This is going to be the interesting race.   Vanessa Warren appears to be the odds on favourite with Mina Wahidi working hard at the door to door level.  We have yet to see Wahidi at any of the Council meetings.  Angelo Bentivegna is working the various groups he is involved with.  Not a word from James Curran who we understand has some “baggage” that is slowing down the rate at which his train is able to move.

Angelo B + biscotti wide

Angelo Bentivegna filed nomination papers in March -has been planning his campaign since last December.

Expect things to become much clearer by the middle of June.  Anyone hoping to break into city council would need a very high profile to overcome the lead that incumbents get just for being there.

There are a couple of wards that need a change – but that`s a decision voters make.  Informed voters is the best thing the city has going for it.

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Burlington’s Best nominees announced by the city; gala event May 15th at convention centre.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 17, 2014


The City of Burlington announced the nominees for the 2014 Burlington’s Best Awards.  The winners will be announced at a city gala event May 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Burlington Convention Centre, 1120 Burloak Dr., for the awards.

“Each Burlington’s Best nominee helps make Burlington a better place for all of us,” said Keith Strong, past Citizen of the Year winner and long-time member of the awards committee. “We’re pleased with the buzz building around Burlington’s Best awards. With an impressive group of nominees and an exciting ceremony ahead of us, this year’s awards promise to help raise awareness of the importance of volunteering in the community.”

Tickets to this event are $35 per person, and a table of 10 is $280. The event includes a light buffet and cocktail reception. Tickets are available from the clerks department at City Hall, 426 Brant St., by contacting Roxanne Gosse at 905-335-7600, ext. 7855 or by emailing roxanne.gosse@burlington.ca.

Citizen of the Year

Bev Jacobs, Judy Gerdes, Denise Davy, Jean Longfield and Beth Hudson.

Senior Person of the Year

Michael Hourigan, Maggie Wheeler, Arnold Koopman and Thelma McGillivray. 

 Junior Citizen of the Year

Chad Buisman, Connor Fraser, Curtis Kelly, Connor Withers, Justin McNerny and Gabriella Paniccia

 Arts Person of the Year

Selina Jane Eckersall, Chris Giroux, Tomy Bewick and Jonathon Filipovic.

Heritage Person of the Year

Les Armstrong

Community Service Award

John Ives,  Tomy Bewick, Wellington Square Outreach Team, Les Armstrong, Gordon Cameron, Trent Schwartz and Beth Hudson

Environmental Award: Paul Toffoletti and Ken Woodruff.

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Province wants to keep you safe – police on the prowl for those not using a seat belt. $240 fine.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 17, 2014


This Easter long weekend the Halton Regional Police Service will be participating in the Provincial seat belt campaign.

The campaign will run from Friday, April 18, 2014 – Monday, April 21, 2014.

Road users should expect to see much higher volumes of traffic over the weekend, making it a particularly important weekend for all drivers, passengers and young children to be properly restrained, regardless of how short a trip people are taking.

“A properly worn seat belt greatly increases the chances of surviving a motor vehicle collision and officers will be out this weekend checking for compliance. A reminder to drivers should you choose not to buckle up you could face a fine of $240 and 2 demerit points which will remain on your driving record for two years from the date of the offence.


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What’s causing climate change? Us – and unless we change our ways now there won’t be much of a world for those who follow us.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 17, 2014


Skeptics will point to the winter we’ve just experienced and ask: “what global warming”?  But that is not what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is saying. They’re saying global climate change is real and getting worse, and that there is still time to take action to help mitigate it.  According to the IPCC, global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) grew over the last decade at double the rate of the previous three decades and over 60% since 1990. 

Smokestacks Hamilton

Smoke stacks in Hamilton.

 I recall preparing materials, back In1992, for Canada’s Environment Minister, Jean Charest, as he was heading out to represent us at the Rio Earth Summit.  Canada played a leadership role in promoting action on climate change there.  We did so again in 1997 when we signed the Kyoto protocol; and again when we ratified it in 2002.  But Canada stopped trying to reduce its GHG emissions once Mr. Harper formed the government in 2006. 

Not that our trying had ever amounted to much.  The Chretien/Martin governments’ various strategies and programs mostly went nowhere and the goals we’d set for ourselves became ever more elusive. 

 When it was clear we’d never reach our goals, Mr. Harper changed the goal posts, and pulled Canada out of Kyoto once he had a majority in 2011.   Our PM never seemed to believe in climate change anyway, and his every action confirms that.  So it was not a surprise when we saw his vision of Canada as the Saudi Arabia of the north, exploiting and exporting fossil fuels to the world.   

 Some say the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was flawed since the developing nations were not required to reduce their emissions.  The US Congress passed a resolution against ratifying it for that reason, despite the role played by the US in drafting the Protocol.  Proponents of the Protocol arguing  that major economies should lead by example, something they haven’t done – at least not in the case of Canada or the USA.  By contrast,  European nations have at least struggled to reduce and maintain their emissions.  

 At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, there was an emerging consensus about climate change and the need to change our ways.  World leaders foresaw that one day the developing world would surpass North America and Europe in carbon emissions.  That day has come. China increased its CO2 emissions astronomically, such that by 2006 it had become the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

 Electricity plants fueled by coal are the most polluting of all sources and there are about a thousand or so plants in the works, globally.  China’s coal plants make up a whacking 15% of global emissions and it gets two-thirds of all its electricity from burning coal.  As a consequence some three-quarters of a million people die every year in China just from coal related health effects.

 So it was a good piece of news, in this sombre picture,  that Ontario announced it has entirely phased out electricity production from coal, I was the first jurisdiction in North America to do so, joining British Columbia and Quebec which produce electricity without coal.  Natural gas, even though it is less polluting, will still be kept in the quiver to complement solar, wind, hydro nuclear and biomass.   The province isn’t off fossil fuels entirely, just the dirtiest one.

 The provincial government’s renewable energy program has been cited by so many people as the source of high electricity bills that everybody is starting to believe it. The truth is that only a small portion of the electricity rate increases reflect switching from coal to the alternatives.  Why would we expect prices for electrical energy to stay constant?  Shouldn’t we keep this in perspective – get a grip?   Have we checked the gasoline pump prices lately?  Didn’t natural gas prices jump up by 40% this year?

And then somebody brings up that costly McGuinty gas plant fiasco, from a couple years ago, and we all just get angry about the rates again.  Reading the latest IPCC report can be pretty depressing, even more than ruminating about escalating energy prices.  If you live in Ontario you can take a little comfort from the fact that we were the only Canadian province to significantly reduce GHG emissions over the last decade – a little shining star in an otherwise dark and troubled sky.

Iceberg melting

If this kind of melting keeps happening – climate will be changed to the point where we cannot recover.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


 Background links:

Carbon Emissions

Clean Energy     An Anti-apartheid Approach    Germany’s Green Dreams    B.C.’s LNG     IPCC Report     Harrison Ford     Conference Board   

Carbon Emissions    CO2    From New Zealand    Climate Change Olympics    Measuring What Matters    Tipping Points  

Provincial Emissions    GHG per Capital

Editor’s note: Someone recently said, on one of the David Suzuki programs,  that the amount of energy used when two Google searches are done is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to boil enough water to make a cup of team.  The speaker was arguing that our focus should not be on the supply side of the energy question but rather on the demand side. 

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