Burgers, Banter & Big Red Tents; It must be a Liberal BBQ!

By James Smith.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 20-2013.  On a very warm evening, the Burlington Federal Liberals gathered to burn a few burgers and broil the present government at their annual BBQ in Aldershot. About 35-40 of the party faithful gathered to catch-up, and talk about everything from l’affair  Duffy, to the latest in the soap opera that is the Toronto Subway saga, to the cabinet shuffle that sees Burlington’s Ms Raitt as minister of Transportation. With little surprise few held out hope that Ms Raitt was going to use her new job to fix the Airpark mess anytime soon.

The Hon Judy Sgro, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration speaks to Burlington federal Liberals at a recent BBQ.

The guest for the evening was the Hon Judy Sgro, MP for York West Liberal critic for Seniors and Pensions, and the former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in Paul Martin’s Cabinet. Ms Sgro is a natural and very relaxed politician, she and husband Sam seemed to be in their element as they easily chatted and mingled for most of the evening. When it came time for a speech, Ms Sgro spoke directly about how she had not supported Justin Trudeau for leader, (can you even imagine Mike Wallace saying something like that?) but as Liberal leader, she noted she’s impressed  both with his commitment, his grasp of issues and his leadership ability in caucus. One gets the impression from her comments, that Mr Trudeau runs a pretty tight ship.

Ms Sgro also took the present government to task on a number of issues from immigration to pensions and had an interesting observation on the scandal plagued Senate. In contrast to the comments made by our MP Mike Wallace ,Ms Sgro suggested most of the good work reviewing bills is being done by Senators of both parties. The reason for this observation is legislation is often part of omnibus bills, crafted in rush, with often as little as three or four hours of review. Ms Sgro claims that closure (time limits on debate) has been used by the present government more than at any other in the past. In her opinion, this makes for sloppy legislation, and often mistakes and unintended consequences that are not caught until a bill becomes law.

In conclusion she urged her audience to keep involved in the process and to get ready for the next election, as she feels the election in 2015 will be critical to the future existence of a federal liberal party. Given the turnout on the hottest day of the year, it seems the Liberal faithful in Burlington are anxious to heed her call.

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Body found in Earl’s Park Creek; male between 20 and 30 declared dead at the scene.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 20, 2013.  Friday evening before the worst of the storm hit the city police were notified of a body floating in the creek near Earl Park in the Francis Road area of Burlington. 

Emergency Services responded to the area and the body of a male believed to be 20-30 years of age was recovered from the creek.  The male had no vital signs and was declared deceased. 

There were no obvious signs of trauma to the body.  The male has been transported to the Hamilton General Hospital where a forensic autopsy will be conducted.  The investigation is ongoing to determine the identity of the deceased and the cause of death.

Halton Police will issue an update when more details are known.

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Thousands without power for a period of time after major storm rolls across the city. No serious injuries.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 20, 2013.  —Hydro workers, firefighters and roads and parks maintenance staff worked through the night to respond to damage, road closures and power outages caused by last night’s storm.

As of 10 a.m., power had been restored to all but 3,000 homes. Burlington Hydro staff called in colleagues from other hydro services to help today.  The Burlington Fire Department, with its neighbour the Oakville Fire Department, responded to 160 calls between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. yesterday and this morning. The city’s roads and parks maintenance staff and contractors worked overnight, responding to fallen trees and maintaining road closures at locations throughout the city.

Alton Village resident Neil Gallant videoed the storm clouds as they rolled across the city and over the Escarpment.

Burlington Hydro is expecting to restore power to the Lowville area sometime this morning, which will reduce the number of customers without power to 1,500. Hydro will then work on cleaning up and repairing the 25 broken poles with trees down stretching in a path along Cedar Springs Road and No. 1 and 2 Sideroads. Hydro will also work to clean up the downed hydro poles and trees at Corporate Drive and Appleby Line.

Burlington Transit is rerouting Route 11 buses onto Ironstone Drive, Corporate Drive and Mainway due to the closure of Appleby Line in this area.

 Local citizens had a great time filming the storm from the safety of their homes – others had to clear away fallen trees.

Cathy Robertson, director of roads and parks maintenance said the city is “ working closely with Burlington Hydro to focus on what counts most—getting power restored to homes and getting people around the city safely.”

To report downed trees or branches, call 311. For information about hydro outages, visit www.burlingtonhydro.com or call 1-877-310-4937.

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Air Park legal team sues the city; so we all trot off to a court room. City’s pier court case being held in the same Court House.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2019.  Are we seeing a whole new level of transparency on the part of the city?  Are we also seeing a significantly and very welcome difference in the way city hall responds to problems its citizens run into?

The city posted a copy of the Writ served on them by the lawyers for the Air Park; not the kind of thing they have done in the past – they certainly didn’t handle the pier problems this way.

When the ship is about to sink you throw everything overboard. Air Park owner Vince Rossi puts all its chips on the table and waits to see how the dice play out.

With city hall now on a summer schedule and more people away than those at their desks it is difficult for those putting in the hours to stay on top of everything.

The city was preparing for a meeting with the lawyers representing the Air Park people while the Air Park legal team was focused on the wording of a Writ they served on the city earlier today.

The Air Park is seeking a number of court orders including:

A declaration of its rights under the Constitution Act, 1867 and the federal Aeronautics Act;

This is what the fight is really all about; does the Aeronautics Act trump a local bylaw?

A declaration that the City of Burlington’s Top Soil Preservation and Site Alteration By-law does not apply to the airport’s operations and construction of aerodrome facilities at the location;

For the sake of all of us – that had better turn out to be the case or municipalities across the country have real problems to deal with.

A declaration that the city’s order to comply is null and void and of no legal effect;

                  They wish is the only comment one can make on that one

An injunction to prevent the city from interfering with its operations and the construction of aerodrome facilities at the site; and

The city isn’t interfering; it is doing what is it required to do.  The only fault on the part of the city and the Region is that they didn’t tackle this one years ago.

Costs against the city, including HST.

               The upside of this one is that the city doesn’t pay the same level of HST as the rest of the world.

The one consistent thing about the Air Park’s behaviour throughout this real mess is their tendency to bully and intimidate. The piece of equipment was parked overnight less than 50 yards from the home of an Appleby Line resident. It sat on top of a 35 foot + pole of landfill that should have never been put on the land in the first place.

That is a very ‘ballsy’ move on the part of the Air Park.  With the Environment Ministry buzzing around and the federal ministry of transport suggesting that the airport people do have a responsibility to adhere to some of the city’s rules and regulations and the Region in a position to have their Medical Officer ask some embarrassing questions and demand that the property owners do what has to be done to protect public health  – the smartest move for the Air Park was to get out-of-town and into a court room where they can ask for delay upon delay.

The injunction they have asked for could backfire – the city might well ask for an injunction and should that request prevail the Air Park would find themselves under an injunction and involved in a court case that will last years – if it gets to the point where there is actually a trial date.  If there is a trial there is going to be some very impressive legal counsel arguing before a judge in a Court room in Milton..

While all this happens the people in north Burlington, especially those whose property has been directly impacted, and wondering if they are going to get sucked into this legal black hole.  And what if papers are served on them?  They don’t have the deep pockets the city has to fight this fight.

For a city that started out the week with what they felt was a strong consultants reports to find themselves with a Writ in their hands and a date with a judge – it can’t be looked upon as a win.

However, it is far from a loss.  Desperate people do desperate things

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The Shuffling the Deck that everyone else called a Cabinet could just as well have been called a stacking of the deck.

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2013.  It’s was a good day for the Ottawa printing houses.  They were busy churning out new letterheads, business cards and other stationery.  The shredder trucks would have been seen, parked outside government offices so that each outgoing minister’s staff could destroy any incriminating evidence of their boss’s tenure, along with all that old letterhead.  And of course this was a field day for the pundits looking for a deeper meaning in it all.

Prime Ministers have always kept a fairly tight rein over their cabinet ministers for good reason. There is a danger that liberated, free-wheeling cabinet members might easily go off-message, do their own thing or even go rogue and contradict the PM. 

Does the public think that the Ministers have all the good ideas?  In normal times much government policy originates with the public service.  The minister is not irrelevant in this process, just not as significant as we’d expect from the title and ceremony.

During my time at Environment Canada, I had the privilege of drafting briefing material and speeches for my minister, Jean Charest.  He would personalize a speech but always stuck to the script I’d prepared.  A Minister’s speech is automatically policy, so I always made sure neither my Minister nor the PM would be blind-sided.  Brian Mulroney had adopted Pierre Trudeau’s practice of leaning on Cabinet committees and using the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office to co-ordinate policy – so everyone was kept in the loop and the policy was mainly what the PM wanted.  After all, the PM chooses his ministers.

Stephen Harper has taken control to new heights, even managing various ministries’ press releases and speeches.  So shuffle or no shuffle – it amounts to not much more than a hill of beans.  Policy will change only when the PM wants it to change. 

Sometimes a PM will bring in a new minister as a way of signaling changes, but make no mistake, it is still the PM making the policy.  I am not criticizing the PM for his focus on control – I think he is doing what he needs to do in our system of government, managing to ensure a consistent message and tone.

This Cabinet shuffle by the majority Conservative government saw eight new people added to the Cabinet, a few dropped, but the old guard is still firmly in place doing their old jobs at the key posts.  Flaherty will continue to articulate economic policy from his boss, Harper the economist.  Baird will continue with his party’s unbalanced foreign policy and Joe Oliver will keep on pushing the tar sands.  Expect the same old from the same old.

Given my passion for the environment, I was really pleased to see Peter Kent gone.  A good journalist in his day, he looked uncomfortable and almost pathetic as the ‘yes-man’ for Harper’s non-environment policy. 

The PM claims he is making a ‘generational change’ with this Cabinet, lowering the average age a full 4 years from 55 to 51.  That’s a generational change?  And, there are now more female cabinet ministers, which can’t be a bad thing for a party well-known for its boys in blue suits. 

It is customary for a government to shuffle a cabinet at the mid-point of its term, and Harper has certainly done that.  Just don’t expect this to mean anything will change in the way Stephen Harper runs the country. 

The only upside I see in the shuffle is that the Ottawa printing industry had a couple of good days.

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat after which he decided to write and has become a  political animator. Rivers was a Liberal 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 is also currently the VP policy for the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Federal Liberal Electoral District


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This was something to quibble over Mr. Wallace; and you should have known that, instead you spouted the party line.



BY Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2013.  Our MP, Mile Wallace, was in an environment that suits his personality. Flipping burgers and talking to people for Mike Wallace is a very good one-on-one politician.  He listens, he usually has a smile for you and his sense of humour prevails.

So there he was on the lakeside lawn of the Waterfront Hotel, flipping burgers and doing his political thing.  Later in the day they let him have a microphone to answer questions from his audience – it was a sold out crowd.

There is usually a smile on Mike Wallace’s face. He enjoys life and has a good time. This summer it is his intention to run in a marathon in every province.

During the Q&A Wallace expressed some dissatisfaction with the fact that the current government was not being lauded for the great job that was being done and that instead people were quibbling about minor issues. When asked to comment on what these issues were, he felt that a disproportionate amount of time was being spent on the Senator Duffy matter and not enough time on the big issues both within Canada and internationally.

When I was going over the copy from a correspondent who covered the event for us I had to call and be sure that those words came from Wallace for I was stunned.  He did not appear to have any sense as to the gravity of the Duffy matter that had the Prime Minister’s Chief of staff writing a personal cheque to Senator Duffy so that he could repay expenses he claimed and was not entitled to.

Prior to the public learning where the money came from Mike Duffy was on television telling audiences that he and his wife had decided to do the right thing.

Bruce Anderson, a highly;y regarded political analyst said on a CBC program that “issue is far from over, even if it’s not as prominent right now as the shuffle and even if people aren’t paying as much attention to it right now because it’s summertime. I think that the documents that emerged make it even more difficult to believe that the Prime Minister knew nothing about this, make it easier to come to the conclusion that he seems to have something that he wants to hide. It looks as though they are hanging Nigel Wright (Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff) out to dry, that he’s the only person who dreamt this idea up, the only person who ever really knew about it, the only person who didn’t understand that it was wrong, which doesn’t really square with the fact that there were a few days where people called him honourable for doing this and said that he was going to stay and he had the full confidence of the Prime Minister. So I think the police investigation and the opposition research that’s going on mean that this issue is going to come back with a vengeance in the fall.”

Peter Mansbridge, CBC’s senior television anchor then asked Andrew Coyne, columnist with the National Post what he thought. The payment of $90,000 dollars to a sitting legislator, for whatever purpose,” said Coyne, “ would appear on the face of it to run you at least into jeopardy of several different illegal acts. We know, if these statements made by his lawyers are true, we know that at least three people in the Prime Minister’s Office, plus Irving Gerstein, the head of the fundraising arm, (for the Conservative Party) knew about these potentially illegal acts and apparently did nothing or, certainly in the Prime Minister’s story, didn’t tell the Prime Minister of this. That’s extraordinary. Even if he didn’t know about it, and that’s certainly still possible, but it suggests nevertheless that a tone and an expectation and a set of values were established in the Prime Minister’s Office where you just kind of look the other way at this kind of thing. That’s deeply troubling.”

Mike Wallace, Burlington MP, takes a closer look at art work at the Burlington Art centre.

But for Mike Wallace on a lovely sunny weekday afternoon this was  “quibbling about minor issues” when what he wanted people to do was  laud the government “for the great job that was being done”.

There are people in Burlington who understand the gravity of what was done when Senator Duffy was given $90,000 and perhaps at some point one of those people will stand up and speak some sense to the MP. In the fullness of time and when the RCMP completes their criminal investigation, the public will learn the truth.  Will it make any difference in Burlington?

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Air Park: city is on top of what is turning out to be a horse that is bucking like crazy.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2013.  The city’s team managing the problems with the Burlington Executive Air Park were to meet today with the lawyers retained by the Air Park.  That meeting was cancelled by the Air Park.

Not the best of news for the city but understandable given that the city does not have the Ministry of Environment as on side as they had hoped.

What was once a small local airport with a grss runway is now in the process of becoming something close to a Regional airport with plans for a helicopter operatation as well as hanger space for very large aircraft that can’t find or afford space at Pearson in Toronto. The development of this much larger operation sort of crept up on everyone – this is what happens when the bureaucrats take their eye off the ball and then the ward co7uncillor is aligned with the air park operator instead of the resident.

The city wrote the MOE last week saying:  

The Airpark is not in compliance with the regulations made pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act, specifically O.Reg. 153/04 and O.Reg. 347. I have attached the report for your immediate review. From the information we have, you will note they are not in compliance with your regulations. We insist that you take immediate steps to order them into compliance including issuing an immediate ‘stop work order’ on existing filling activities. Further, out of an abundance of caution, for the protection of the health of the residents, we would expect the MOE to exercise its authority to order testing on the groundwater and wells in the vicinity of the park, and any other testing you deem appropriate to provide answers to other potential off-site impacts.

Can you confirm if you have a record of ‘Site Conditions’ in your registry for this location?

We will be presenting the results to our Council Monday evening here at City Hall at 6:30pm. Can I ask that your staff be in attendance to answer questions on your actions as this will also help with the communications to the residents who will want to hear how you intend to force the owner into compliance and manage the potential safety issues arising from what amounts to operating an unlicensed landfill site.

The MOE people were not able to attend the city council meeting; they had had less than a full working day to review the documents and get themselves up to speed.

The Ministry of environment has to decide if this kind of landfill dumping is permitted under the provinces rules. They also have to decide if the consultants the city hired to advise on what was done by the Air Park have got the story right. The Air Park, understandably, does not agree with the city’s consultant.

The MOE decided they would talk to the Air Park people before taking a position.  See that as bureaucratic butt covering; what will matter is the position the MOE takes after meeting with the Air Park people.

The MOE has advised the city that they will meet with Burlington General Manager Scott Stewart and brief him on their conclusions sometime next week.

The decision to cancel the meeting is a bit of a bump for the city and a major concern for the residents of north Burlington.  Should everyone be alarmed?  Not alarmed but concerned.

The Air Park has a lot riding on the outcome of this matter; if they lose, they lose everything, so expect them to use every legal tool available to them.  They have advised the city that they intend to take legal action of their own.  See that as legal posturing.

What has to be kept in mind is that the problems with these small airport operations are not limited to Burlington – these situations exist across the country which means every municipality with a small airport wants to be at the table.  Mayor Goldring is working closely with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities who do the lobbying with the federal government.  Burlington’s outside legal counsel has a very strong understanding and a firm grip on how things work at the federal level.

Newly minted federal Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt, who is the MP for north Burlington thinks the air park is “not a bad piece of infrastructure” but she wants it to operate within a “social license”.

The real concern is a comment made by Halton’s MP, Lisa Raitt, bow the Minister of Transportation who is reported to have said that she realizes small air parks are an issue across the country and that there is some confusion over the rules that apply.  Of concern is the comment that the airpark is “not a bad piece of infrastructure but it has to be operated within a social license.”

Is the Minster’s view of a social license similar to that of the residents in north Burlington?

Raitt plans to open lines of communication with the residents, the city and the Air Park people. “it is important” said the Minister “to bring everyone together and to work with each other.”

It is going to be a long hot summer.  The city is on top of what is turning out to be a horse that is bucking like crazy.  Vince Rossi will not be taken out easily.

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Beachway and Brant Street beaches not safe for swimming.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2013.  While not hazardous, the water in Lake Ontario at the Burlington area beaches is described as “not safe to swim in”.

During the summer months, the Health Department monitors water quality at selected recreational beaches in Halton. Beaches are selected for testing based on their use for swimming and other water sports. Monitoring is done once a week or more if necessary. A pilot project is being undertaken at Beachway Park for the 2013 beach sampling season to examine potential factors influencing water quality. Therefore, Beachway Park will be sampled more frequently.


  • A beach is considered unsafe to swim if water tests show high amounts of E. coli bacteria.
  • Conditions posted are based on samples taken from the previous day.

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Dennison declares a conflict on a matter held in a closed session of Council – how was that possible?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 17, 2013.   There are usually three of us at the Media table in city council chambers and from time to time we run something by each other – to clarify or to ask what the heck’s going on.

Councillor Jack Dennison with his election winning smile.

One of those asides took place at the city council meeting on Monday when Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison declared an interest in a report that was going to be accepted by city council.

What had my colleague Joan Little and I wondering was:  How does a Council member declare a conflict of interest on a report that was giving council members a quarterly litigation update in a closed session of Council?  Can you do that we wondered.  We agreed to think about that and decide what if anything we wanted to do.

In the world of journalism one gets phone calls – some are to complain, some are to advance an interest, and some are to pass on information.

Councillor Jack Dennison property on Lakeshore Road for which he is seeking permission to sever into two lots. Permission to do was denied by the city’s Committee of Adjustment and it now being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Is the city going to have to hire outside legal council to fight a case where the council member is choosing not to adhere to the Official Plan?

A caller earlier in the day wanted to know why were weren’t writing about the city’s plan to hire outside legal counsel for an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board hearing on an appeal Dennison has filed over a Committee of Adjustment decision not to grant him the severance he was seeking to create two lots out of the one he owns on Lakeshore Road.

Now the picture was clearer.  In the Litigation Update, and all we are doing here is speculating because the content of that document is not public, some mention would have been made about the forthcoming Dennison OMB appeal.  The office of the city solicitor, Nancy Shea Nicol, will either have to arrange for a staff lawyer to represent the city or arrange to hire outside council.

Our caller wondered how a member of council can have taxpayer funds used to defend the decision made by the city’s Committee of Adjustment.  Isn’t the council member in place to ensure that the rules in place are upheld?

Little and I then talked about what took place and looked carefully at the province’s Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, where the rules are clearly set out.  A person who has a conflict of interest “shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;”

Dennison did disclose his conflict but that is all he did – he said nothing of the “general nature thereof”.  Many in the community believe that Dennison has put the city solicitor in an awkward situation where she has to use part of her budget to hire outside counsel to defend the decision made at Committee of Adjustment.

We have a concern with this on several levels.  At some point the citizens of the city and specifically those in Ward 4 are going to want some clarity on just what their council member is doing with the tax money they send to the city each year.  Is it being used to hire lawyers to fight hearings at tribunals brought about by a Council member who does not want to adhere to the city’s official plan?  He voted for that Official Plan.

Do the citizens of Ward 4 have to wait until the next election before the dump their council member?

How does a Council member do what Dennison did without so much as a peep publicly from any other member of Council?  Is there no limit to the confidentiality of closed hearings?  At a minimum any Council member could have made a remark and expressed at least some concern over the way certain conflict of interest matters were being handled.

Why didn’t the Clerk ask Dennison to elaborate on why he was declaring a conflict of interest?  The Clerk is there to ensure that the city’s procedural bylaw is followed: would that not extend to how someone slips around the edges of provincial legislation?

There are processes that can be followed to put a stop to this kind of nonsense.

The decent thing to do would be for Dennison to resign but that would call for a by-election which would probably cost the city more than hiring a lawyer to defend the Committee of Adjustment hearing.

This is a mess.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the law used to keep Ontario’s mayors and other municipal politicians in line needs work.  Former justice Douglas Cunningham, who led an inquiry into conflict allegations against Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, recommended alternative penalty options such as a 120-day suspension or formal apology.  Suspending Dennison for 120 would suit the people of Ward 4 just fine.

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A banner with McNeil’s name will hang from the rafters of the Appleby Arena recognizing his contribution to local minor hockey.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 17, 2013.  The cheque was indeed in the mail – a big one that put $20,000 into the Burlington Lions Optimist Minor Hockey Association (BLOMHA) bank account where the spending will be spread out over two years.

Hundreds of Burlington hockey types clicked on this red button to rack of points for the significant cash award – BLOMHA won $20,000.

The cheque was the result of a superb effort by John McNeil and a team of people he directed who made thousands of clicks on a red button set up on the Kraft Hockey Goes On website.

The prize money came from Kraft Foods who sponsor the  Hockey Goes On contest in which BLOMHA was one of four runner ups in Central Ontario.  The top prize which was $100,000 – that went to Goderich.

Anyone with a laptop and at least five fingers got put to work. The young fellow on the right has all ten fingers but they didn’t give him a keyboard.

When Kraft announced the program for 2013 Kristen Priestner,  a local hockey Mon with a son in the BLOMHA Atom A, nominated John McNeil, who manages the team,  as the person who had done the most for minor hockey in their community.

McNeil’s nomination was accepted by Kraft and the game was on.  McNeil headed up a diverse team that included almost everyone he knew.

Boys in a van on the way to a hockey game in London use the time to log in and click, click, click.

The community pulled together and worked throughout the weekend – they even had hockey players logging in and clicking on that red button while they were being transported to out-of-town games.

This banner will hang proudly in the Appleby Arena, recognizing forever the contribution McNeil made to BLOMHA and it hockey operations.

Along with the cheque BLOMHA was given a large banner recognizing organizer John McNeil and his efforts. The banner will go up in Appleby arena.

How will BLOMHA spend this windfall?  One of the decisions the organization made was that none of the prize money would be used for administrative stuff. The full $20,000 will go into the hockey program for the Burlington community to benefit.

This year $5,000 will go towards subsidizing hockey fees for financially challenged families.

BLOMHA Executive Director Rick Dawson on the left and John McNeil hold up the $20,000 cheque won during a drive to register clicks on the Kraft Hockey Goes On contest last March.

Another $5000 will go towards replacing 10-year-old and worn out goalie gear used by goalies in the house league program

The other $10,000 will be saved for next year to be used to assist families in getting their sons or daughters into the game.  BLOMHA has taken the position that they will report to McNeil on just how they spent the money.

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Motorcyclist gets clocked at 155 km/h in a 50 km/h zone; police officer finds him trying to hide between parked cars.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 17, 2013  It wasn’t quite what a Mississauga motorcycle driver expected Monday evening when he buzzed through a 60 mph zone and got clocked at 128 km/h.

At that speed the HRPS officer  doing  radar enforcement in the area of Walkers Line and New Street wasn’t able to catch the offender  but was able to make further observations, including the motorcycle accelerating to a speed of 155 km/h as it travelled northbound on Walkers Line from New Street and out of the officer’s sight.  This portion of roadway is a posted 50 km/h zone.

The officer methodically travelled up Walkers Line and near Harvester Road discovered the motorcycle and driver attempting to hide between two parked cars.

 A 28-year-old Mississauga man faces several charges including:  Racing, Speeding and Using Plates Not Authorized.  He is to appear in Burlington Court on August 20, 2013.

A little patience and a slow steady search for the offender should keep him on public transit for a spell.

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The Air Park is an “unlicensed dump that needs to be shut down now” claims Warren.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 16, 2013.  To say the report was damaging would be putting  it mildly.  It was the disaster too many people thought was probable and now they had the evidence of some of the sloppiest record keeping  on just what was in the landfill dumped on air park property during the past five years.

Vanessa Warren, the founder of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition who summed it up with some very tough language.

“The Burlington Airpark has lost their right-to-operate.  Every time I have delegated to council, the RBGC (Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition) has asked that the Airpark fill site be immediately shut down – now. WHAT What else is in the ground, and where? How safe is our drinking water?  How and when will you and the appropriate provincial bodies close the site, test the soils and groundwater’s, and re mediate the damage?  How will we re-claim the green in our greenbelt?”

“We can’t talk about expansion, we can’t talk about economic benefits, we can’t talk about Cessna’s or jets – all we can talk about now is that the airpark is a dump in the middle of our protected countryside, and now, its everyone’s problem.I have also repeatedly asked “when does an airpark become a dump” – and now we know the answer: according to Terrapex, the consulting firm hired by the city, the airpark is “an unlicensed waste disposal site” – it doesn’t get much more succinct than that.”

Warren knew that “It’s about to be summer break, and this afternoon the tail gates were still banging at the airpark.  The neighbours inform me that they understand Mr. Rossi is now selling tickets at $85.00 a truckload, and there are concerns he is accepting flood waste sludge from the City of Toronto.

“We are extremely concerned for the neighbours of this Airpark; Rossi, and King Paving and Aecon have dumped contaminated waste on our Greenbelt protected countryside, and potentially contaminated our prime agricultural soils, our streams, our groundwater, and our drinking water wells.”

“What else is in the ground, and where? How safe is our drinking water?  How and when will you and the appropriate provincial bodies close the site, test the soils and groundwater’s, and re mediate the damage?  How will we re-claim the green in our greenbelt?”

“We can’t talk about expansion, we can’t talk about economic benefits, we can’t talk about Cessna’s or jets – all we can talk about now is that the airpark is a dump in the middle of our protected countryside, and now, its everyone’s problem.

“The Burlington Airpark has lost their right-to-operate.  Warren thanked the city and added that,” regardless of how damming and horrifying this report is, the City, and its wonderful staff, deserve a huge amount of credit for the way in which it has aggressively faced the airpark issue since our very first meeting in May.  This is a devastating report, and it is what we all feared, but it is so much better out in the light of day than buried under hundreds of cubic metres of waste. 

“This toxic waste disposal site and adjoining lands and streams must be decontaminated.  Neighbouring wells must be immediately tested. The damages done to the environment, the lands, the waters, the neighbours must be corrected, and properly and fairly compensated.”

Warren thanked the city for the work it has done to date, now, she said your job is to keep communicating.

During a presentation to city council Scott Stewart laid out the agenda.  He meets Today or on Wednesday  with Ontario Ministry of the Environment staff to hear their comments on a report they were given Friday of last week.  Stewart and the legal counsel the city has hired meet with the Air Park people on Thursday.

The air park, now defined as a dump in a report given to the city last week, will either be closed by the end of the week or the city will be in front of a judge asking that it be shut down.

Somehow however one wonders if it is going to be that easy.

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It is worse than anyone imagined: Air Park land fill is in fact waste – much of which fails to meet standard tests.



By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 15, 2013.  The report that tells city hall just how bad the fill that has been dumped on Air Park lands has been leaked.  It is not a pretty picture.  Representatives from the Rural Burlington Green Coalition are both sick to their stomachs and dancing for joy because now there is, they believe, more than enough evidApproximately 500,000 cubic meters of fill has come to the Airport between 2008 and present.ence to shut the site down and begin the process of removing the landfill.

The Terrapex Environmental was hired by the city to provide an opinion of fill quality within the framework of applicable federal and provincial regulations.   Approximately 500,000 cubic meters of fill has come to the Airport between 2008 and present.

Terrapex has taken the position that because the federal Aeronautics Act “is silent on matters of fill placement at airport sites” and further that if a site is “not owned by the federal government, regulatory evaluations automatically default to the applicable provincial regulations, and in some cases to applicable municipal regulations.”

Up until now Burlington Executive Air Park has taken the position that their project comes under federal regulation and they don’t have to comply with municipal, Regional or provincial regulations.

Terrapex says that Ontario Regulations made under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (EPA), as well as regulations governing waste management, both apply. These regulations govern movement of waste from shipping sites and transportation of waste on Ontario roadways . Contaminated soil is considered a solid non-hazardous waste.

Should this prove to be the case both the Air Park organization and King Paving become liable under the regulations.

The provincial regulations require that chemical analysis of soils to be received is one sample per 160 cubic metres for first 5000 cubic meters and one sample per 300 thereafter. To comply with these regulations 1700 samples would have been needed for the Airport. Terrapex analyzed 56 documents (shipping sites) covering 323 samples (2 indicated material that was rejected; 2 provided no chemical data) thus 52 reports had data to be reviewed; the majority from 2010 and 2011. The  Terrapex report suggests “either much of the fill was not tested or all of the data was not available or provided.”

The provincial regulations require that chemical analysis of soils to be received is one sample per 160 cubic metres for first 5000 cubic meters and one sample per 300 thereafter. To comply with these regulations 1700 samples would have been needed for the Airport. The sum of samples was 52 reports covering 323 samples. Thus, Terrapex concluded “the sampling frequency was inadequate.”

Only one of the 52 reports provided any rationale for expected contaminants of concerns at the shipping site, therefore Terrapex cannot conclude that appropriate analyses were completed at the remaining 51 shipping sites. Thus the adequacy of the sampling programs to determine potential contamination “cannot be assured.”

The report differentiates between Table 1 data and Table 2 data.  The difference is: Table 1: Full Depth Background Site Condition Standards.  (Everything about the site)

Table 2: Full Depth Generic Site Condition Standards in a Potable Ground Water Condition.

Terrapex explains that only materials meeting Table 1 Site Condition Standards are appropriate for the use of fill at the site. Only 134 samples (41%) from 13 of 52 sites  met the Table 1 Site Condition Standards (thus, by projection,  at best 200,000 or 500,000 cubic meters meets the standard). 17 of the 39 sites yielded failing samples, and “indicated exceedences of Table 1 standards for parameters such as petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and/or metals such as cadmium, lead, antimony and zinc.”

The report has the Air Park owner screening results to ensure fill met Table 2 standards. Only 244 of 323 samples met Table 2.  Halton Region has said Table 2 standards “are not appropriate for the site due to the presence of environmentally sensitive sites proximate to the Airport lands.” Terrapex also said table 2 Site Condition Standards are “not applicable to the site.”

What does all this technical language mean?  If the report is valid, and there is no reason to believe it is anything but valid, then the Air Park has been dumping what is classified as waste.

The deposit of waste at the Airport site has essentially resulted in the establishment of an unlicensed waste disposal site, which may have ramifications for not only the receiver but the various shippers and haulers of the waste.”

John Hutter in the foreground along with Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster, Carey Clarke from the city’s Engineering department and property owner Carl Cousins inspect the landfill at the edge of the Cousin’s farm property and the flooding of the farmland. The city now knows that much of the landfill is really waste.

It gets worse.  Over the weekend Halton Liberal candidate Indira Naidoo-Harris toured the Cousins property on Appleby Line and observed the dumping of what everyone watching said looked like sludge.  Was this material from the flooding in Toronto and does anyone know what was in those trucks?

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Cocaine sale leads to search warrant that finds quarter pound of cocaine.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 15, 2013.  Halton Regional Police, Burlington-3 District Strategic Support Team, arrested Christopher BAILEY- 23yrs of Burlington, after he sold cocaine to another male, Joshua CARD-23 yrs, also of Burlington.

That arrest led to police obtaining a search warrant that had police carrying out a  Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search at a residence on Pear Tree Lane in the City of Burlington. 

Seized, as a result of the arrests and search warrant was;

• 112 grams of Cocaine (approx. ¼ pound)

• $480.00  in cash,

• a digital scale,

• packaging material,

• and a cellular phone. 

How many customers will pop up on that cell phone?  Might be some knocks on doors soon.

Christopher BAILEY was charged with Trafficking a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) and released on a Promise to Appear.  Joshua CARD was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) and was also released on a Promise to Appear. 

 Both are to appear in Milton Court in August 2013.


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BurlingtonGreen points to why a private tree bylaw is necessary.



By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. July 15, 2013.   Liz Benneian made it pretty clear – you need a private tree bylaw that applies to everyone, and as she explained, everyone includes the developers.  For it is the developers, according to Benneian, that are a very large part of the problem.

The debate in Burlington has been focused on individual rights – the “you can`t tell me what to do” point of view.   What the city failed to twig to was the role developers have played in the clear cutting that was taking place.

BurlingtonGreen recently pointed us to a situation back in October of 2011 where trees taken out in the Orchard, had residents up in arms and the council member calling emergency meetings.  Jeff Paikin, operator of New Horizon Homes, explained at the time that this was just the way things were done by developers.  You bought up several properties, assembled the land, clear-cut the trees you didn’t want and then you took your site plan application to city hall.

The trees were gone – and never was there just the one tree cut down. 

Benneian argued that that was the problem.  If there were a private tree bylaw the developer would be treated just like any other citizen.  There is no difference, she explained to city council, between a developer who owns a piece of property and the individual

Paikin had clear-cut century-old trees that filled the lot behind several Tydman Way properties, and caused an outcry from the Orchard community.  At the time Paikin said it was all within his company’s rights as a property owner.  And that was perfectly true.

At the helm of the New Horizon team are hands-on owners Jeff Paikin, President and Joe Giacomodonato, Vice-President.

Paikin is quoted as saying: “This is a routine function of the development process that we have done on every site we’ve ever owned… so it’s just a little frustrating.”

 “There has been no meetings with residents in the area,” Orchard neighbour Larry Daigneault said in an e-mail sent to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.  “We were told by our local Councillor that we would be updated regarding any new developments before anything could be done to this area.”

Paikin takes the position that since no official application has been submitted to the city regarding developing the land, New Horizon Homes did not need to alert neighbours before the clear cutting took place.

At a public meeting Paikin met with property owners  “… to introduce ourselves… and show them the kind of development that we do and the kind of thoughts we had for that property.” “While that was underway, as part of the regular process, the trees were removed.”

Sharman is reported to have said:  “It was just last week that the developer called me to confirm that they had acquired the last property that was critical to their project. He did not say that he was in the process of cutting the trees down.”

Paikin was asked if  there was a legal requirement to call the Councillor or neighbours and alert them they intended to cut down the trees and is reported to have responded: “Would you call the Councillor if you were cutting a tree in your backyard?” asked Paikin. “There is no requirement, it’s not contrary to any bylaw… it’s absolutely within our rights…. This is just the world as it relates to development in 2011. It’s a necessary part of the process…. I’m sure when they clear-cut the trees to build the Orchard (community) our neighbours didn’t mind at all.”

Sharman chose to completely ignore his own experience in his ward.  The position he took at the council committee meeting was a complete crock.Sharman’s reported comments back in 2011 don’t square all that well with the position he took at the Community Services Committee meeting last week where he said the problem really wasn’t clear cutting – it was intensification.  People didn’t like intensification” he said, suggesting that the clear cutting is the result of the need to intensify – that is build more houses on the space we have.

Sharman chose to completely ignore his own experience in his ward.  The position he took at the council committee meeting was a complete crock.

Unfortunately there isn’t anything the city can do about the intensification taking place; there is a provincial government policy that sets out the level of intensification Burlington must undergo.

City council meeting as a committee either didn’t hear what Liz Benneian was trying to tell them or they just didn’t care.  Or – they didn’t really have the courage of their convictions and were not prepared to do the right thing for the city.  Or perhaps the developers in this city do own city council.  They certainly don’t have the Mayor or Meed Ward in their back pockets – those two did the right thing and voted to both educate the public and at the same time develop a bylaw that would prevent the needless clear cutting that is legal now and develop a reasonable bylaw that gives residents the exemptions they need to fully enjoy the property they own.

During the debate a couple of facts came out.  People in the urban tree business believe a city should have about 30% tree canopy.  Burlington has 27% – close.  However, the rural part of the city has 24% – south of the QEW the number is 17%.  Ouch!

Councillor Sharman who had direct experience with the approach developers take to clear cutting – didn’t say a word about his experience during the debate.  For a guy who goes on about the facts and the need for data before making decisions Councillor Sharman failed his constituents and was less than honest with himself.

People tend to remember this sort of thing.

The issue will come up again at city council this evening – hopefully council will pull itself from the edge of the cliff they were about to go over.

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Burlington MP thinks Duffy matter a quibbling minor issue, doesn’t expect to be called to Cabinet and will probably run again.



By Walter Byj, Correspondent.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 15, 2013.  Burlington’s MP, Mike Wallace has decided to see Canada on a ground level and is planning on taking part in a marathon in each of Canada’s provinces.  He stopped long enough in Burlington to flip some burgers at the Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Political BBQ  Forum last Thursday.

In his usual folksy manner, Mike said he was not expecting a phone call from the Prime Minister to become a member of the Cabinet. 

Mike Wallace said he was not expecting a call from the Prime Minister to join the Cabinet. Smart move Mike.

As a middle-aged, uni lingual male, he said he relishes his current position as a MP which allows him the time to do the most good for his constituency. When asked during the Q & A if he would turn down a cabinet post, he replied that it would be an honour to be a minister and he would accept.

He did express some dissatisfaction with the fact that the current government was not being lauded for the great job that was being done and that instead people were quibbling about minor issues. When asked to comment on what these issues were, he felt that a disproportionate amount of time was being spent on the Senator Duffy matter and not enough time on the big issues both within Canada and internationally.

Wallace lamented the fact that manufacturing jobs have disappeared not only nationally but also here in Burlington. This initiated a statement and question by Nick Bontis from McMaster who stated that Obama is pushing hard for more manufacturing in the US, but the same does not appear to be happening in Canada. Wallace agreed that the programs are not working as efficiently in Canada and efforts are being implemented to streamline the system.

Burlington’s MP Mike Wallace takes questions during the Chamber of Commerce Business and Political BBQ  Forum. Suggests that too much time is being spent on the Mike Duffy matter

Wallace explained that each department in Ottawa has their own software program and that they do not speak to each. The other problem appears to be an accountability issue. He feels that as more people are accountable for the actions, they tend to delay decisions so as to “cover their butts”. Would some of this has to do with the autocratic rule of a certain Prime Minister?

Wallace felt that the Harper initiative to tighten up the housing market is about done and does not foresee any major housing crisis.

Being the co-chair of the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group, he felt that Canada was getting close to a free trade agreement.  He said the same back in January of 2012, so don’t hold your breath.

As for Burlington and his constituents, the major issue seems to be dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency.  He does not know why this is one of the major issues for his constituents and is not certain if this is above normal for a community.

In concluding, he re-emphasized that he wants to use the leverage he has in Ottawa to help any group or person in his riding that needs some help. “By all means” said Wallace  “go through the proper channels, but permit him to use his expertise in expediting the process.”

Wallace added that he will probably be running in the next election.

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Did city hall find a smoking gun in the Air Park soil testing reports? Many hope so.

By Pepper Parr.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 15, 2013.  It was going to be a quiet slipping into the summer season Council meeting – but then a couple of things changed.

Much to the surprise of many the Private Tree Bylaw went off the tracks during the Community Services Committee meeting.  While the staff report didn’t satisfy anyone, there were those who felt that good debate would flush out what the issues were and that the right decision would get made.  That didn’t happen – Council voted 5-2 to basically shelve the matter. So expect to see significant debate on the Private Tree Bylaw decision that will come out of the committee report.

The major item should be the announcement the city made on Saturday – that there is a report from Terrapex Environmental Ltd. That will be released at the Council meeting.

City hall has wanted to know just what is in this landfill. A report to city council this evening is expected to reveal all. Was a smoking gun found?

Terrapex was hired to review the soil test reports that were submitted by  Burlington Executive Air Park.  Many thought there was something lacking in both the number of reports that were made available to the city and the content of the reports.  The results of the review were sent to the city Friday afternoon.  In the municipal world things tend not to happen very quickly – that wasn’t the case with this one.  As soon as the city had the report they decided to bring it before Council and let the public know what the city has learned.

It should prove to be an interesting report.

The rate and level of development at the Air Park facility on Appleby Line wasn’t showing up on the city’s radar set but when Vanessa Warren appeared at a city council meeting to delegate on the problem the wheels were put in motion very quickly and the city has been all over this issue.  They brought in the consultants needed to get details and hired very eminent legal counsel to guide them through the process of brining a developer to heal.  The speed with which the city has worked on this is very impressive.

Terrapex describe themselves on their web site as: “a dynamic and fully integrated Canadian engineering and geosciences company, providing specialized environmental consulting services.  Established in 1995, Terrapex has grown to a staff of more than 50 with offices in Toronto, Burlington and Ottawa, Ontario.

“Our primary areas of expertise include: site assessment, facilities decommissioning, contaminant management, environmental regulatory compliance and management systems, air quality services and waste management. Since inception, Terrapex has completed thousands of engineering and environmental projects for a wide range of private- and public-sector clients.”

Just what is underneath that piece of heavy equipment? Where did the landfill come from and was it properly tested?m Has the city finally got a solid grip and can now get some control over what happens at the Air Park?

Being located in Burlington was a plus – these people will know a lot about the local environment; where landfill comes from who the ‘no- gooders’ are and the tricks that get used to slip around the rules and regulations.

The city, for reasons that have not been explained, is not going to release the report until it gets presented to Council.  It would have been useful for north Burlington residents to know what the report has to say and also have a chance to think about what is reported and prepare some thoughts.  Local people will have wanted to delegate.

Is this report the smoking gun the city needs to clamp down hard on the Air Park people?  Or is it just a lot of consultant type baffle gab that fills pages to justify the invoice the consultants will send the city.

The meeting Monday evening is the last for this Council until September 3rd.  It would have been very easy for the city to keep the report under wraps and let it come out when everyone is back from vacation.  For this – kudos to city hall.  They are actually engaging and informing their citizens.  Having access to the report would have been nice.  As one wag on Appleby Line put it: “there is a council member who will have been on the phone to Rossi the moment the report was in her hands.”

In emails sent to anyone the city thought would be interested city hall said: “Burlington City Council will hear a presentation on the review of the available environmental testing reports of fill materials at the Burlington Executive Airport. Copies of the report will be available at the meeting. The council meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the 2nd level of City Hall, 426 Brant St. Burlington.”

Should be an interesting meeting; the city certainly wants you to be there.

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BurlingtonGreen maintains city council cheated the public in failing to even consider a private tree bylaw.

By Staff.

BURLINGTON, ON – July 11th, 2013. BurlingtonGreen is dismayed to report that the majority of city council voted on July 8th to take a pass at learning more about a private tree protection by-law for our city.

 At the onset of the meeting, council members clearly stated that no decision would be made until the fall because controversial issues are not dealt with during the summer when so many citizens are unable to participate and provide input. Although the Mayor stated “no decision will be made” in a news bulletin he sent out to the public on July 5th, after a few hours of delegations and discussions, Committee Council proceeded with a 5 to 2 vote that essentially “killed” the opportunity to explore options regarding a private property tree by-law for Burlington. Only Mayor Goldring supported Councillor Marianne Meed-Ward’s motion that would have kept the issue alive for a fall discussion and vote.

Burlington Green believed the city was going to take a serious look at a Private Tree bylaw; one that would allow for plenty of exemptions and respecting individual property rights but at the same time protecting everyone from irresponsible people. That didn’t happen last Monday. Maybe next Monday – this battle isn’t over yet. The crime say the BurlingtonGreen people is that it is a battle at all.

 Results of the City’s recent feasibility study on the issue revealed the majority of Burlington residents believe more needs to be done by the city to protect trees and would comply with a practical by-law. BurlingtonGreen is concerned and disappointed that city staff provided a recommendation to Council to not support a private tree by-law as their understanding was that staff was to report back on the feasibility study findings only.

 There is controversy on the issue in large part due to a misinformation of the facts. Residents from Oakville shared their experience and how their tree by-law is not onerous to the homeowner and does allow for the removal of trees for reasonable purposes. The by-law is supported by their Town’s Council as they recognize that a key purpose of the by-law is to prevent developers from removing property trees before they apply for a building permit. BurlingtonGreen expects that more trees will be threatened in Burlington due to increasing infill development where developers are looking to remove mature trees in order to build larger homes on existing properties.

 Burlington’s Urban Forest Management Plan that was earlier endorsed by Council states that “Protecting existing trees, particularly larger specimens, prior to and during construction has been shown to be more effective in sustaining the provision of urban forest benefits than planting new trees.” “This further exemplifies what we believe to be a contradiction of what was conveyed by staff and the results that transpired on July 8 at City Hall”, said Mr. Brock.

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Ray Rivers’ take on the upcoming provincial election

By Ray Rivers.

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 12, 2013.  Five by-elections on August 1st.  Tim Hudak is betting on Mr. steady-as-he-goes, Doug Holyday, to plant the PC flag in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.  Very early polls had shown Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn with a healthy margin, but that was prior to Holyday entering the race. 

 Five by-elections is a very gutsy roll of the dice for the new Premier Wynn.  It’s mid-summer and PC supporters will be out there, as they always are, but a lot of the other voters won’t.  Also, sitting governments are usually strategically disadvantaged when it comes to by-elections, since voters use these occasions to vent.   And, Kathleen’s government is still reeling from the gas plant cancellations ordered by her predecessor.  Nothing upsets an electorate more than thinking their government wastes their money for political expediency.    

 Dalton McGuinty’s boldest moves were in the environment.  Ending Oak Ridges Moraine development, banning toxic lawn chemicals, creating a Green Belt for southern Ontario and phasing out dirty coal plants were highlights.  The plan was to replace coal with wind and solar energy, backed-up by natural gas.  Ontario would lead the country in developing renewable energy technology and creating green jobs.  And the plan was in place, working and gaining momentum.  Thousands of new jobs have been created and wind now produces as much electricity as coal. Then, in the face of a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ revolt in the last election, McGuinty broke with his energy plans and cancelled the half-built gas plants.

 So energy will be a topic in these by-elections.  Premier Wynn is slowing and moderating the energy program, but staying the course.   And, she is generally supported by the NDP’s Horwath, promoting an even greater shift to renewable energy and conservation.  But the PC’s Hudak doesn’t agree. 

 He would turn back the clock, fire up the coal plants with new vigour and wipe green power from the face of the province.  And, Hudak is pretending that he can cancel the iron-clad renewable energy contracts, already in place.  He’d have as much luck as McGuinty had, trying to cancel Harris’ 407 give away to that Spanish consortium.

 In any case the renewable contracts amount to a tiny fraction of our energy costs – far less than the debt on the aging nuclear plants we pay for with each hydro bill.  Plus, the Liberals have had to make up for the years of Harris’ neglect of our energy system.   So it is little wonder that energy costs, like gasoline prices, are rising and will do so under any political party.

 Hudak’s energy policy is false, half-baked and out-of-step with energy policies everywhere – pure wishful ignorance.  Don’t believe me?  See what the other media say.  Going back is not really moving forward, especially when your only plan is burning coal again. That is not being a conservative, it’s being a contrarian.  Still, not every voter pays attention to the policies of the party they end up voting for, and the PCs may win one or more of these by-elections.

Doug Holyday is a true conservative cut in the moderate mold of conservatives of his generation, as opposed to those on the extreme right, like Mr. Hudak.   And former Etobicoke mayor Holyday may well be one of them.  He is so well-known and liked that he didn’t even need to campaign in the last municipal election.  And voter recognition is a big part of getting elected to anything.  Some might call him on his hypocrisy, leapfrogging to a higher level of government after having so harshly condemned others (Olivia Chow), but that won’t deter those voters who keep electing him.

 Doug Holyday is a true conservative cut in the moderate mold of conservatives of his generation, as opposed to those on the extreme right, like Mr. Hudak.  So, in some ways he could be a moderating voice, to keep Hudak from acting like he is leading the Tea Party.   Some would admire Holyday for his blind loyalty to the mayor, as his deputy, through all the troubling days and childish antics of Rob Ford.  But if I lived in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I’d want to know why. 

 Why did Holyday never challenge Mayor Ford on his conflict of interest – on the crack-cocaine video, and all those other issues he must have disagreed with?  And what does that tell us about him and what he would do at Queens Park?  Is he ethical but just afraid to speak up?   Will he be his own man, represent the best interests of his constituents, or will he go-with-the-flow like the other desk thumping seals?  And will he challenge Tim Hudak on energy, so his party can come to a sensible policy?

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat after which he decided to write and has become a  political animator. 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.


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It can be done; it is being done in other communities. Burlington just might manage to pull this one out of the fire on Monday.

By James Smith

BURLINGTON, ON. July 11, 2013.  After years of talk, Burlington City council decided not to join the rest of the GTA and enact a Private Tree bylaw in favour of an education campaign. Perhaps this education campaign can start by informing the city what one can and cannot do in other cities where they employ a private tree bylaw.

 Some people would have us believe that the government has no place in the backyards of the nation. This foolish notion is not how we govern ourselves, rules and standards are how we agree to operate, and in theory anyway, minimize conflicts and punish folks who act like jerks. Some people argue, that their property is theirs and nobody can tell them what to do with it, and if I want to plant 10,000 rose bushes, or kill every living thing with 2-4-D and pave it over that’s my god given right. 

 But there are limits, as the floods in Calgary and Toronto can attest to, there are issues that regulate such things, so you can’t build within a flood plane for example, and the Ontario Building code will protect you for the most part from folly and stupidity. Burlington’s zoning and planning rules will further limit how big a château you can plunk on your lot, and how big your driveway can be and you will need a permit to demolish that old shack. 

 But a mature tree that doesn’t grow overnight? No protection, we can cut em all down with not so much as a smile and a nod. Take for example the dying elm that I removed from my front yard 15 years ago, it was more than 125 years old, and removing it changed the look of our street. If I had taken the opportunity to cut the two healthy mature oaks  in my front yard at the same time, I could have done so. But even if I planted 10 more trees in their place the nature of our neighbourhood and why people like to move here would have been changed for at least 75 years.  We are stewards, not merely owners of these trees. As a community we need to weigh the costs and the benefits of any project that changes the nature and look of our streetscapes. 

I’d like to help educate people in Burlington about what a Private Tree Bylaw can do, so let me share some of my experience working in far off and exotic lands that employ such a thing. As a designer, I often work on projects in the city of Toronto where they’ve had a private tree bylaw for some time. Toronto’s bylaw only comes into force if a tree is greater than 300mm (one foot) in diameter measured 1.4 Metres (4′-7″) above the ground. The bylaw does not forbid cutting larger or sick trees down, nor does it forbid cutting trees for construction, but protects significant trees from destruction  and protects the urban forest from clear-cutting prior to site plan approval. The following are a couple of examples of how a tree bylaw works in Toronto.


This is a photo looking west towards of the former SS Peitro Paulo Italian United Church on Ossington Avenue in Toronto you can see the large Spruce Tree in the front yard. The project’s goal was to transform this underused building into an affordable housing project. This spruce tree was one of the very few examples of a substantial tree of any species on Ossington Avenue south of Dupont Street. As the project developed, for a number of reasons, the Spruce tree was going to have to be removed. Before this tree could be removed, several things had to happen. Firstly an arbourist was hired and evaluated the tree, secondly the arbourist wrote a one page report as to the health, size and importance of this tree and third the report was submitted with a permit application to “injure or destroy a tree”.

The transformed building, now named Monaco Place (Architect: Ellen Vera Allen Architect, Landscape Architect: Scott Torrance, Client: Saint Clair West Affordable Housing) . As you can see an inclined walkway for accessibility has replaced the large spruce tree. The permit was approved to “injure or destroy” this particular tree. Part of the permit process was to submit a landscape plan that called for additional tree plantings to make up for the loss of the Spruce tree. Some of the replacement planted trees can be seen to the left of the walkway, and in the foreground on the left. One may also note the large asphalt parking lot has been replaced with a much smaller lot and the surface has been replaced with semi permeable pavers, retaining some storm water. While not clear, the downspouts are no longer connected to the storm sewer but to rain barrels. The front lawn has also been replaced with shrubs & perennial plants further reducing runoff.














Another project, the Malvern Public Library (Architect: Phillip H Carter Architect, Landscape Architect: Scott Torrance, Client: Toronto Public Library ) this view looking west prior to the construction of the Youth Challenge Fund sponsored S.P.O.T. (Success Power Opportunity Teamwork) Centre Addition for young people in this priority neighbourhood in Toronto’s East End. The two spruce trees on the left, and the ash on the right were all subjects of a permit to “injure or destroy a tree” as was another Spruce tree whose shadow can be seen on the left foreground. These trees were proposed to be removed; in the case of the spruce trees for the new Malvern public square, and the ash to make way for the addition of the S.P.O.T. Centre.

The completed S.P.O.T. addition (the rounded colonnade to the right of the photo) and the new Malvern public square. As part of the application to remove the trees, a site plan agreement stipulated the one spruce tree be protected, and additional plantings were added to the project. On the right a Rain Garden was built with native species of birch and to retain storm water. The preserved spruce tree features dry stack limestone seating wall around the raised bed protecting the tree’s root system. (photo copyright David Smiley 2013)

Looking to the east at the preserved spruce tree in the Malvern public square. In addition to the dry stack planter bed and retaining walls several examples of native species of oak & maple have been planted to assist in retaining the embankment seen on the right side of the photo.


In both of these examples, permits to “injure or destroy a tree” were accepted, but in one case of a tree, permission was denied. In both of these projects, the intent of the projects was respected, the administration burden was low, and the additional cost was minor. The client’s timetable was respected, and these projects proceeded without significant delay. I would argue that having a Private Tree Bylaw actually helped to focus attention on parts of the landscaping that otherwise may have been neglected, and the result was better and more handsome projects.

Burlington Horticultural Society President Joyce Vanderwoude, City Forester Rick Lipsitt and Jane Irwin with the plaque.

 Two years ago, the Allview Oak, that is thought to be more than 300 years old was preserved as an historic tree. This was a significant achievement and to the many present, and those who read about it, it was a connection to those who first founded Burlington. How many other living connections to our past do we have that we can enjoy for so many reasons? It is a pity that the many city Councillors present did not use this as a moment to educate themselves on the importance and significance of trees to Burlington. Perhaps we can educate our next council enough to see the error of this one and correct it. Otherwise, this may be one of the last of these kinds of photographs for a long, long time.

The opportunity to do something before this council slips away for the summer isn’t lost yet: Councillor Meed Ward is understood to be preparing a motion that will breathe some life into the idea.  Council committee chairs continually advise the public that committees just do the talking; that the final decision is made by Council.

Get those cards and letters in – and let us at least have staff preparing a draft bylaw that sets out the exemptions that would be part of the bylaw.  No one wants to take away individual rights – the “tree huggers” just want to keep as many trees as possible.

Perhaps we can educate our next council enough to see the error of this one and correct it. Otherwise, this may be one of the last of these kinds of photographs for a long, long time.




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