Short notice – but a visit might be worth your while. Farmer’s Market on Brant – Friday 11-2.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 28, 2012  Friday’s from 11 – 2

Starting tomorrow, June 29th – the Plan B Organic Farm will open at the Centre Market – on Brant Street across from city hall and a dozen or so steps up the street.  The group is made up of a handful of exuberant local natural food vendors.  The theme is: small, local, natural food market.

Pork from Featherstone Farms will be available at Centro Market - this Friday 11-2

Featherstone Farmers from Lowville will be joining Centro Market with their local farm raised Heritage Pork and natural goats milk soaps.

The vendors list will grow – what is firm is the time and the location: every Friday – 11- 2

Both the city and Brant Street have been waiting for something like this.

The Centro Market focuses on directly connecting local growers and makers of natural and organic foods to people in their community — to share a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re a possible vendor shoot an email to: communications@centrogarden.com

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Is your bank account short a couple of thousand, has someone talked to you about the “Western Project” – call the police.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 28, 2012  Halton Regional Police believe there might be other victims who got stung in a scam they have been investigating.

In September 2009, a man entered a financial institution in the City of Burlington and fraudulently acquired over $370,000 for purported legal fees associated to accessing an Estate Trust Fund.

As a result of a police investigation, the man was identified as Norman MAXWELL (58 yrs) of Hamilton and subsequently charged with Fraud Over $5000.

Further investigation has determined the accused has defrauded other unsuspecting victims through similar means, claiming to require money for legal expenses or other fees to gain access to various Estate Trust Funds or the ‘Western Project’ that are non-existent.

These requests for funds to help you get money from an estate pop up almost daily on the internet – and some of them can be convincing.  The golden rule here is that if it sounds to good to be true – it is usually because it isn’t true.

If in doubt ask a trusted advisor.  The police have a department that handles this kind of stuff.  Call them of you’re in doubt.

Police are asking anyone who believes they may have been victimized by the accused to contact Detective Constable Milenko Cimbur at 905 465-8958, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Burlington’s Beachway south is still not safe for swimming. Map provides details.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 28, 2012  Halton Region beach water monitoring results says the water on the southern part of the Beachway is not safe for swimming.

Region says the water south of the boundary line is unsafe for swimming but that the water to the north is safe. How do they figure that out?

The following beaches are safe for swimming:

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Burlington – Beachway Park North

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park South

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“Knick, knack, paddy whack – give the dog a bone.” Mayors tries to soothe the environmentalists.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   June 28, 2012  The Mayor threw the environmental community a bone and hoped that would put an end to the howling.  And for a while it might – but not for long – there was no meat on that bone.

The issue had to do with the pier – again.

Working from the top of the graphic there is a beacon, that's the curved object. The turbine was supposed to sit atop the beacon with a shaft going down through the middle of the beacon. At the bottom of the beacon there is an observation deck with stairs leading down to the main deck of the pier. If the turbine is not going to be installed - then there is no reason for the beacon to be in place either. Cap it off at the observation deck.

The turbine that was to send a message to the world that passes by Burlington, those hundreds of thousands that drive over the Skyway bridge and would see the lights on at night and at some point learn those lights were powered by a turbine the city had put up and that they city wasn’t going to pay a light bill for that pier for at least 50 years.  Great message.

Then of course there is the not having to pay for the electricity.  That was said to come in at $3200 a year; and we all know that hydro rates are not going to remain static but assume for a second that they will remain static – $3200 x 50 years; that $160,000 we could have saved.  And we wouldn’t have to spend as much as a dime to save that money.

That turbine was paid for with a provincial government grant that Burlington Hydro got for the city.  The grant was for $100,000 which, based on the latest set of numbers was more than enough to pay for the purchase and installation of the turbine – assuming that the turbine didn’t require any design changes.  And that is not a question that has been fully answered yet.

The bone the Mayor gave the environmentalists was this:

DIRECTION TO SET THE MONEY FOR THE BRANT STREET PIER WIND TURBINE ASIDE FOR A FUTURE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT

Direct the Executive Director of Finance upon total project completion to transfer the value of the approved change order for the wind turbine element of the Brant Street Pier project to the Capital Purposes Reserve for renewable energy projects; and Direct the Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives to advise the Community Energy Plan Steering Committee that this reserve is in place for future consideration.

Make a note of that one – it is sure to become an election issue.  Note too, that all this is to get figured out at the total project completion stage.  That sort of kicks the day of reckoning pretty far forward doesn’t it ?

Don’t think the environmental community broke out the champagne over this one.

 

 

 

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The province will present their thinking on a Niagara GTA roadway to the Region July 4; event will be webcast.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012   There is going to be an interesting provincial government presentation at the Regional Public Works Committee early in July.

The Regional people will finally have the provincial government on Regional turf  telling their story and answering questions on what their current provincial government thinking is on the Niagara GTA road the province wants to ram through a stretch of land from Kilbride down into Lowville in the northern part of the city.

It should be an interesting session.  Regional Chair Gary Carr sees it as interesting and important enough to stream live on the Halton Website.

This map sets out the area within which the province wants to create a new highway at some point in the future. The highway is referred to as the NGTA - Niagara to GTA road.

This issue has been lurking in the background for years .  The most recent shift in provincial policy came to light when the provincial government advised the Region of a change they wanted made in the Region’s Official Plan.  Many were stunned when they saw a map with a road coming into Burlington at the Kilbride area and stretching down into Lowville.  The document arrived in Burlington during the last municipal election.  At that time none of the candidates picked up on the letter from the province but it didn’t take them very long to get very vocal immediately after the election.

During the provincial election campaign Transportation Minister Wynne (on the right) came to town and was escorted by then Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran. Mayor Goldring listens to the Minister with a degree of skepticism - he wasn't buying her story.

When we got into the provincial election it was certainly an issue.  Nothing got resolved other than the Conservatives talking jobs and the Liberals and New Democrats talking environment – and Councillor John Taylor seeing the battle of his career rise before him.

Referred to as "the green arrow map" it showed in a little more detail just where the road, planned for the future was going to go and it shook the daylights out of the Halton Region and the municipalities within the Region.

Taylor has been telling anyone who will listen that the province started talking about what is now highway 407 back in 1972 – and while many protested then it didn’t make a difference – except for the developers who now had a chunk of land between Highway 5 – Dundas Road and the new 407 they could develop – and it didn’t take long for them to gobble up much of that land where the new Alton community now resides.

For the northern, rural part of Burlington to have any legitimacy development has to stop at the Highway 5/407 boundary.  Despite the existence of the zoning in place, the Executive Director of the city’s Economic Development Corporation thinks there could be “some development” on the northern side of 407, which he sees as prime location for companies that want signage that can be seen from the 407.

The land within the red border is land that became available for development when the rural border got pushed north of Dundas. The orange blob to the right is where the Evergreen community will be built. The new Alton community is in the centre with the light circle. All this land became available because the rural border got moved north. Should there ever be a highway north of the existing 407/Dundas boundary – imagine how such develop-able land will be created.

If there is ever a road built through the Escarpment lands, this will have the effect of moving the boundary between the suburban and rural parts of the city further north.  The moment that boundary  moves further north you will see development applications flooding the city and appeals made to change the way the Niagara  Escarpment Commission does business.

The “develop-able land”  created by the movement of the current boundary further north will put tremendous pressure on the politicians – by the developers – to open up that land for housing, prime property housing one might add.  The lure of the development charges to the city and the Region will be such that it will be very difficult, if not impossible over time, to prevent development.

And should that happen – you might as well just merge Burlington and Oakville into one municipality and save on the administration costs.

This fight is a fight to the finish for Burlington – and it has to be taken to the province and won at that level.

What Burlington needs is a solution similar to the one the province came up with in 1971 to put an end to the plans to build the Spadina Expressway in Toronto.  Bill Davis, the then Premier of Ontario, a real Progressive Conservative one might add,  blocked the development of the Spadina Expressway.   To ensure it never got another chance Davis, on his last day in office as Premier of Ontario, gave the city of Toronto a 1 metre (3.3 ft) wide strip of the land on the south side of Eglinton Ave. West at the Allen intersection, with a 99-year lease, blocking any possible extension to the south.  That was the stake through the heart that killed the Spadina Expressway forever.

Gary Car, Regional Chair, was once the Speaker of the provincial legislature, and while he wasn’t there when Bill Davis was Premier he knows how right Davis was.  Time for Gary Carr to do what Bill Davis did and come up with an idea as innovative and take it to the province and ask them to “make it so”.

Davis said in the Legislature, when he made the decision to give that strip of land to Toronto:

“If we are building a transportation system to serve the automobile, the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to start. But if we are building a transportation system to serve people, the Spadina Expressway is a good place to stop”

Change the words Spadina Expressway to NGTA highway and this will do the job for Burlington.  Make the author of the words Gary Carr and he will be forever remembered and lauded as a great politician and not just a hockey player.  Mind you, Carr was a pretty good hockey player; we just think he can do better.

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The first of West Nile virus tests in the Region show POSITIVE results in Oakville and Milton.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 26, 20112  West Nile virus positive mosquitoes have been found in Halton Region

Batches of mosquitoes collected last week in Oakville and Milton tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). These are the first batches of positive mosquitoes found in Halton Region this year.

“Positive mosquitoes are a key indicator of the risk of human West Nile virus infection. This is the earliest we’ve found West Nile virus in Halton, which is likely due to the mild winter and very warm spring.

This is how the West Nile virus is transmitted..

“Typically we don’t see positives until late July or August,” said Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “The reality this year may well be that the whole summer, not just late summer, will pose risk for human illness from West Nile virus.

“Our main message is that no matter where you live in Halton, protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially if you are an older adult or have underlying illness.”

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

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

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

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

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

A map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied is available on the Health Department’s website.

To report standing water or for more information about West Nile virus, please dial 311 or call Halton Region at 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-4HALTON (1-866-442-5866), TTY 905-827-9833 or e-mail wnv@halton.ca.

 

 

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Burlington retailers, restaurants and locations have an opportunity to take part in the War of 1812 commemorations.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012  The War of 1812, The War of 1812, the War of 1812 – the one we won, the war that made this country what it is today.  Remember?   It can get a little tiring at times – all that history.

War of 1812 is not just a Stoney Creek event - lots of Burlington history involved as well

The people over at Tourism Burlington don’t see it that way though.  They see the War of 1812 as a three year long tourism opportunity and met recently at the Joseph Brant Museum to talk to retailers about just how many opportunities there were for restaurants, local attractions and those in the accommodation business.

Simone Babineau, Marketing coordinator for Tourism Burlington organized the event which, unfortunately, drew a very poor response from the people who stand to benefit most from this marketing opportunity.

Those that were on hand learned of the General Brock Walk and the numerous print material tie-ins that are available to the retail community.

All kinds of commercial opportunities for smart retailers - a special flavor of ice cream is one.

Hewitt’s Dairy of Hagersville saw the opportunity and created two new ice cream flavours that will be available at Denningers in Burlington later in July.

The Holiday Inn staff saw numerous opportunities and the restaurants in Burlington have created a luncheon special – priced at $18.12.  Local restaurants with $18.12 lunch menus can be found at: Click here

The marketing opportunities are significant but you have to get on board the train if you want to get to the destination.

The province has created a series of marketing Districts – Burlington is in the Hamilton/Halton/Brant district which is part of Western Corridor of the War of 1812.  In this part of the province Stoney Creek takes up most of the oxygen with their colourful re-enactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek.  And while there was no one marching through the streets of the city, Burlington Heights played perhaps the most significant role in the part of the war that took place on the western end of the waters of Lake Ontario.

Brock's Walk from Toronto to Niagara will be a significant part of the summer program.

The Museums of Burlington have jumped on board this one;  at Brant Day, August 5th at LaSalle Park, there will be a meeting of John Brant, son of Joseph Brant and Sir Isaac Brock at the event.

Tourism Burlington and the province’s “Heart of Ontario” group are all heavily involved in the development and promotion of this three year event.

There are opportunities here for the retail sector and wonderful, fun times to be had for the local and visiting public.

To fully appreciate the possible local tie ins – check out the Barn quilt tours.

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Corporate ladder at city hall getting lots of use these days. Mercanti moving to the seventh floor

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012  Cindy Mercanti, who has worked in Community Services for almost three  years, where she was instrumental in reviewing and enhancing programs and processes within Parks and Recreation, has put her foot on the corporate ladder and is joining the General Managers office on a secondment until December 2013.

This position will make use of her operational skill set and take her out of an environment where people skills were vital.

Mercanti, was involved in getting the Alton community centre off the ground as well as working with the construction company building the North Burlington Skate Park that is part of the Norton Park across the street.

Cindy Mercanti is joining the General Managers office for a secondment that will last until December 2013. Here she looks over construction plans at the North Burlington Skate Park.

Mercanti, who was Manager of recreational Services at Parks and Recreation,  will be involved in the leadership team roll out of the deployment of performance measurement based on “results based accountability”,  and the implementation of business plans for all services.  Cindy Mercanti will be beginning her assignment June 25th.

Results based accountability is the approach city manager Jeff Fielding brought to Burlington.  The concept is considerably different than the approach taken previously and it means training senior staff just how it works and then having the concept work its way down into each department.

This operational side of city hall is where it is hoped Mercanti will excel, while others work on the people side of things at Parks and Recreation where relationships with the Seniors’ Centre are in the process of being repaired and grown.

 

 

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Her bus pass is being extended; she will be taking an active part in the transition to a new Transit Director.

Cut line revised August 3, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   June 25, 2012   Donna Shepherd, Director of Transit, was quite prepared to ride off into the sunset but the city finds they need her skill set and understanding of how the bus system actually works and have asked Ms Shepherd to continue to work, part-time – three days each week, out of City Hall and the Transit Operations Centre for six months on select transit and corporate priority projects to assist the City in achieving its objectives.

Mike Spicer will be acting Director as of August 1st.  The city expects a new Director will be in place by year-end.

Donna Shepherd  joined the city  in 1975 and since that time she has served the City well in leading the City in various roles, her most recent being Director of Transit & Traffic over a 12 year period from 1998 and Director of Transit over the last 2 years.

Just where was the problems with transit?  Senior levels at city hall want Shepherd to stay and help through the transition to a new Director. Was  the relationship between the Council member and the Director part of the problem?

“ The really senior “poobahs” at city hall speak very positively and proudly of the contribution Shepherd made while running transit.  Her “contributions will continue to have an enduring and positive impact on the City in areas such as the expansion and renovation of the Transit Operations Centre, the introduction of Transit Priority Measures and traffic safety programs, the implementation of the downtown parking financial strategy, various continuous improvement systems and programs, the PRESTO fare card and Metrolinx Joint Vehicle and Inventory Procurement projects and the creation of innovative transit promotion and ridership growth strategies.”

Donna’s leadership in excellence in customer service will provide a strong foundation for Burlington Transit going forward.”  Sounds like a pretty strong reference letter to me.

What then was the problem at transit that brought Shepherd to the point where she decided she had had enough and was going to pack it in?  Sexism is a very distinct possibility, being bullied a bit could go into the mix as well

The senior people at city hall weren’t cheap in their praise:  General Manager Scott Stewart said: “On behalf of all staff and Council, I would like to thank Donna for her strong leadership and management in growing and operating the Burlington Transit system. She has provided persistent commitment to keeping Transit at the forefront of our discussions during the last decade as our City has grown almost to its limits. Council and senior staff truly appreciate the contributions that Donna has made over the years.

I think the city is going to have the steering wheel of a bus bronzed and presented to Donna at her retirement party.

 

 

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That inclusivity pump is going to need some priming – but there is water in that well. Front Yard BBQ’s are good for all of us.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 23, 21012  The Inclusivity Team did their best to show the city how to hold a Front Yard BBQ – it was a start.  The best thing about the poorly attended event was the attitude and enthusiasm of the team of people who want to make this happen.

Lead by Inclusivity Advisory Committee chair Joanne Matthews and city hall Committee Clerk Andrea Holland, the team has taken a good idea and struggled with time constraints and basically no budget to get the idea from their desks into the public consciousness.  Not an easy task.

At times there were more waste recycling bins than people at the Front Yard BBQ event held at city hall - but this was just a first step. The enthusiasm of the Inclusivity team will take them beyond this first step.

The turnout  at city hall was – well,  let’s say that at one point there were more waste containers than there were people.  They did make up 200 hamburgers and there were plenty to take home.

The Mayor made an appearance and a number of staff people came out of city hall to get in on the free lunch..

From here it is onto the next step which is to get groups of people in the city to decide they want to hold a Front Yard BBQ and maybe expand it into a Streetfest – with traffic blocked and everyone on the street invited to show up and meet a neighbour.

They’ve got a lot of rules around these things – can’t walk across the street with a beer in your hand; need a street closure permit in some place and you’ve got to call city hall to find out where a permit is needed.

It would make a lot more sense for the city to produce a map for each ward and tell people that for this day or couple of days you can close the street but you have to let the police know.  And then set out the main thoroughfares that cannot be closed.  Most people know what is possible.  City hall needs to be part of the making it possible.  Council members have a small community budget – why couldn’t they use some of those funds to pay for the permits needed to close a street?

The Inclusivity Team from left to right: Judy Hyland; Susan Biggs; Ancilla Ho-Young; Andrea Holland; Isabelle Ekoko; Joanna Matthews. They brought energy and enthusiasm to the project.

Then this idea, a good idea, needs a bit of help Dave Auger, who tweets on behalf of CMD- Community Media Burlington – suggested that the real estate agents might be recruited to help get this idea off the ground.  An agent could pick a part of town they have done well with as agents and give something back by offering to help coordinate and get things going..  M&M Meats was a sponsor at the city hall kick-off event – they might be convinced to offer deep discounts to groups that plan a street event.

It can be done and if you take the enthusiasm that Holland and Matthews bring to idea – a couple of years from now the Inclusivity Committee can look back and admire the change they were able to bring about.

This is something new for Burlington.  Most people tend to stay in their back yards, BBQ with their friends and family and,  if there is a pool enjoy the day with the sounds of kids screeching away as they splash.

Moving that BBQ to the front lawn isn’t all that easy for many – they have the gas line hard wired into the BBQ – the things don’t move.

Bur these are all small hurdles that can be overcome with the right kind of community enthusiasm.  And that for Burlington is part of the problem, perhaps its biggest problem.  We are not unfriendly people – but we have let the suburban life style shut us away from our neighbours.

We will be following this one and supporting it.

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Are we about to see a building boom? Will there be construction cranes seen on the skyline instead of just the hydro towers?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 23, 2012  Shovels in the ground, cranes poking up into the skyline.   You see that in Hamilton but in Burlington?  We just might be seeing the beginning of a burst of growth in the commercial construction sector.  In the last ten years there has been very little significant commercial construction in the city.   Most of the construction has been residential but with “build out” approaching Burlington will not see another large housing project for some time.  Eagle Heights in the western part of the city is the next big one coming our way.  There is still some discussion as to what the Evergreen property at Tremaine and Dundas will eventually consist of – currently it is a mixed use development.

The re-development of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital re-development will begin before the end of the year.  City council will get to see site specific drawings that staff will have gone over – so look for a quick rubber stamp on that one.

The 22 storey structure that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city. For the better?

There are signs that the city might see some major construction in the downtown core.  The Seniors residence on Pine Street is well underway and if all goes according to plan work on what is now called Bridgewater  – the three building structure planned for the old Riviera Motel site, which is now closed, may finally get underway.

That site is permitted to have a 22 story building, a seven story hotel and another seven story building.

The owners of the property – Mayrose Tycon, have gone to Committee of Adjustment for a variance, one of which is to add an eighth floor to the hotel structure that will be used for administrative purposes.

The public pathway along the edge of the lake has been in place for a number of years but is still in the hands of the property owners.

The hotel portion of the project is slated to be ready for occupancy during the Pan Am games in 2015.  The plan is to have the Pier finished by that time as well.  The rest of the project will follow – it might be some time before we see the 22 story tower rose over the city.

It will all begin to be real when the wrecking ball slams into the sides of the old Riviera Motel.

A four-star hotel partner has been confirmed; the builder is still being finalized. The Riviera Hotel will be demolished in coordination with the start of construction.

The medical building on the right will go up first followed by the parking garage and then the apartment building. The residents in the Caroline John Streets part of town can expect disruption for some time.

Earlier this week at a Council meeting, committee staff brought back the application for a zoning change to the property bounded by Caroline, John, Elizabeth and Maria.  The locals refer to this one as the Tudor Project.   The development had a conditional zoning change subject to a bunch of provisions and an 18 month deadline to get them completed.  They failed to do so – that meant going back to the city and asking for a bit more time.

The city could have required the developer to go through the whole re-zoning exercise but given that staff would have come forward with the some recommendation and given that there wasn’t any significant objection coming from the community – it went through committee quite quickly.

Prior to the 2010 municipal election Marianne Meed Ward, then a citizen, delegated a number of times on her dissatisfaction with the street-scape and the height on the apartment building – but she wasn’t able to keep that flame burning and didn’t say very much at committee.

This city Council just wants to see development and were prepared to go along with the design and the street-scape.

At the council committee meeting Carriage Gate representative assured the city they were in compliance now and the committee agreed to go along with a new date.  The developer has requested a new lapsing date so the project can proceed. Councillor Meed Ward in her Ward newsletter explained that “the alternative would be to require a new rezoning application. Staff have recommended against that option, suggesting that it wouldn’t change anything – the project hasn’t changed, therefore the staff recommendation for approval would remain the same.”

This developer has had some difficulty in the past meeting the commitments they make – we shouldn’t expect a smooth ride on this one.

Low level, service and residential structures will make way for the Medica One structures. The downtown core is slowly changing.

The developer will start with the structure that will hold medical offices.  They currently own a few buildings in the city that already serves as offices for the medical profession so they have a tenant base they can draw upon.  The parking garage will probably follow and then the 17 storey apartment part of the project will follow.  The developer assured council that all was well – they said the same thing 18 months ago.

This one will bear close watching – the Planning Department has good people in place monitoring what gets done.

Council has also received confidential legal advice on this matter but this Council has yet to learn that just because it comes from the city solicitor, it doesn’t have to be squirreled away on yellow paper.  Our legal counsel has some growing to do in this regard.  The Freedom of Information Act can be used to pry information out of them.

The development picture then looks something like this for the balance of this year and through 2013

Hospital will be underway by the end of the year

The newly named Bridgewater three structure complex will get underway.

Medica One, being developed by the Carriage Gate Group, should get underway as well

And of course the poor pier..

Is that a boom?  By Burlington standards perhaps it is – it is certainly a start.

One interesting development in the Escarpment part of the city is an application to build a 20,000 square foot private residence.  That is a BIG house that will have an indoor pool, a gymnasium and a five car garage.  We understand the house is for the owner of Bond Construction.

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Does city hall make a difference? Do they do anything down there that the little guy can benefit from? Produce Planet didn’t think so.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 23, 2012  Alex Iabs can tell you that they do things that hurt the little guy.

Alex is the owner of a brand new produce store on Mount Forest that runs  west off Guelph Line.  It’s a small shop in one of those little strip plazas.  His store, Produce Planet, faces Guelph Line.

Alex is in his second month of business and things are going good  – so good that his larger corporate competitors are feeling a bit of a pinch.  Food Basics called the city’s by law enforcement department saying Produce Planet had put signs on public property; a no, no in Burlington.

Fresh fruit, some of it grown locally sold by a small independent grocer. Larger competitors complain to city about where he puts his signs.

By law enforcement called the store and explained the rules.  Iabs is an innovative marketer – so he hired students to walk up and down Guelph Line holding the signs – same impact but more cost to a guy who has to go up against Fortinos just a three minute drive away, Food Basics, a two minute drive away and No Frills which is about seven minutes away.

Going up against that kind of concentrated competition takes guts but  Produce Planet is still there and expects to be there for some time.

He picks up fresh produce at the Ontario Food Terminal in Mississauga and buys as much product as he can locally.   And it looks as if he can still stay in business using young students holding signs in the hot weather.  “They can last for about an hour” said Iabs.

Priced to sell - Produce Planet draws in new customers at the new store off Guelph Line

“When I got the call from the city saying the dozen or so signs I had on the side of the road were illegal”, adds Iabs, “there was an immediate drop in business and I had to tell three part time people that I could no longer employ them”.

Iabs who has a background as a produce manager with a large corporate store decided he wanted to try and work for himself.  The hours needed to run his own business are much longer but he has the satisfaction of seeing a response for his efforts. Produce Planet is open 8 to 8 – seven days a week.

“There were days when we had consistent line-ups at the cash register and that’s a good feeling”, said Iabs.

Robert, days away from finishing school and looking forward to entering high school in the fall earns $8 an hour holding up a sign.

He recently tried having flyers delivered door to door.  They went out a day or so ago and it’s too early to measure the results.  So in the meantime young Robert, who expect to enroll at M.M. Robinson in the fall to study drama and cooking, (that’s what’s called hedging your bets isn’t it?) will stand out in the hot sun for $8 an hour and hope to drive business to Produce Planet where the prices are lower and the produce as fresh as it can get.

 

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Spencer Smith Park will be jumping with Ashley MacIsaac on stage Canada Day.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   Ashley MacIsaac, famous for his energetic, inspiring live performances  will headline Canada Day events in Spencer Smith Park

Citizenship Court Judge Frank Hayden will preside on Canada Day

For those who are made Canadian citizens on Canada Day, during a Citizenship Court to be conducted by Citizenship Judge Frank Hayden, will know why they chose this country once they’ve listened to and felt a MacIsaac performance.

MacIsaac known for rousing and at times totally off the wall performances will be on stage at Spencer Smith Park on Canada Day.

The day starts out with a  5 km run at 8:30 a.m. (to enter contact VRPRO at www.vrpro.ca), and a free yoga class at 9:30 a.m.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band will do their thing at 1 p.m.

This year’s free celebration features Canadian entertainment on two stages and throughout the park all day.  Highlights

•              Michael Bublé tribute band

•              Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams tribute)

•              Wavelength (Rush tribute sponsored by Ardent Automotive)

•              Scholars in Collars dog training performances at 12:30, 2:30 and 4 p.m.

•              Water ski shows at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

•              A wide variety of food vendors and activities

New this year, visit the Canadiana Viewing Tent.

Limited tickets are now on sale. Your ticket gets you:

•              Seating at tables and chairs offering great site lines to the Main Stage and Lake Ontario

•              Bleacher seating for additional viewing of two Water Ski Shows

•              Meal catered by D&T Classic Catering (1 to 8 p.m.)

•              2 drink tickets

•              Exclusive upgraded washroom trailers

•              Shelter under the large canopy

•              In and out privileges

Advance tickets for the Canadiana Viewing Tent are $15. They are available at City Hall, Tansley Woods Community Centre, Appleby Ice Centre, Festivals and Events Office, and Tyandaga Golf Course Tickets purchased at the tent on the day of the celebration are $20.

 

Parking and transportation

Parking downtown during this event is in high demand, attendees are encouraged to arrive early or use public or alternative transportation.  Free shuttle service from the Central Park bus shelter is available from 7 to 11 p.m.

Cyclists can lock up their bikes at the Mountain Equipment Co-op Bike Corral.

For further information call the Festival and Events Hotline at 905-335-7766.

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Is there a change in the way Discovery Landing is going to be operated by company with lease – and done at public expense?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012  –  There is something going on with Discovery Landing  and Spencer’s Restaurant down on the waterfront.

The city went into one of their Closed Sessions to talk about some changes that had to do with the use of the Discovery Landing.

Both the restaurant and the Discovery Landing are on public property with the city getting rent from the operators of the restaurant.  The Discovery Centre had not managed to develop an audience of its own when it was run out of city hall.

Perhaps the finest restaurant in the city - with a balcony overlooking the lake that is THE place to be on a summer evening.

An agreement was put in place between the Landmark group that operates the Ancaster Mill in Ancaster, Ontario and the city that had the restaurant acting as a booking agent for the Discovery Landing,  which is one of the premium locations on the waterfront.

There now appears to be a request to change the agreement that includes the spending of public money on a publicly owned facility that will be used exclusively by a private company.

Councillor Taylor objected to going into Closed Session and said he would do so on the understanding that if the agreement in the confidential documents was approved it would be made public.  Doors to the Council chamber were closed to the public and about 20 minutes later they were opened – and all they had to say was that the report would go to a city council meeting – and at that time the agreement would be made public.

Which might meet the letter of the law but certainly not the spirit of the law.  If the public wants to delegate and give their views they need to know what the discussion and agreement was.

While we don’t know exactly what the discussion was about we do know this:

Are there going to be new arrangements on the operation of the Discovery Landing? Will taxpayer's money be needed to make it happen?

The Discovery Landing and the restaurant are located on public property

Councillor Taylor said “what started out as public is now becoming private but public money is being used to fund changes”.

We don’t know yet what the changes are.  All we know is that they were discussed behind closed doors because some of the details, if made public, would damage the interests of the company that was asking for some kind of a change.

We always understood that Council and city staffs were in place to protect the interests of the taxpayers.

Councillor Dennison said that private enterprise in public places should not be funded with public money.

Parking spaces exclusive to restaurant in the evenings.

The restaurant has first call on 40 parking spaces to the west of the restaurant from 4 pm until midnight seven days a week.

We do know that former city manager Tim Dobbie, now a consultant with a reputation for being able to “fix it” if there is a problem at city hall delegated recently on behalf of the restaurant operators, the Landmark Group that operate the Ancaster Mill.

The revenue to the city from the leases of the restaurant with the 40 parking spaces is not insubstantial – it amounts to: The tenant lease revenue for the last three years is as follows:

2011       $308,553

2010       $301,088

2009       $246,453

 

Let’s see what they come up with at the city council meeting July 3rd.

 

 

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School is not out yet – but someone wanted to stay a little longer – flooded a classroom.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012  Halton Regional Police Service is investigating a break and enter at St. Christopher Elementary School located on 2400 Sutton Drive. It is unknown how the suspect(s) entered the school, but it is possible a door was accidentally left unlocked.

Classroom flooded - floor damaged when tap turned on in a sink with plug in place

Suspects entered one classroom, put a plug in the sink and turned the water on, causing the sink to overflow. The result was water damage to the surrounding counter, as well as books, and other school materials and supplies. Damage is estimated at $500 – $1000.

 

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Will the city ask for a fee to cover election signs? Taylor livid – asked if they would want to finger print him as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 19, 2012 –  It was supposed to be a response to a Staff Direction about changing the rules that applied to signs on Plains Road which was something Councillor Rick Craven had been wanting to get done for some time.

The Staff Direction asked that: Director of Planning “review the current sign bylaws as it relates to portable signs in the Plains Road Corridor. B) Look at the feasibility and appropriateness of reducing the permitted size of portable signs in the Plains Road Corridor to that of those permitted in the downtown. C) Provide for public consultation and D) Report back to Committee 4Q 2011.

Somehow it went badly off track, ruined Tracy Burrows’ day and had Councillor Taylor tied up in knots.  It was only when Planning Director Bruce Krushelnicki  stepped in and explained what was taking place that Council agreed to the staff recommendation on Plains Road that would allow mobile signs that related to the property they were to be in front of.

Is this a legal sign? And does that dog not see the fire hydrant?

Krushelnicki explained that the sign bylaw had not been reviewed in more than 20 years and that when a review is done staff bring forward all their thinking for a council committee to review.

Craven’s issue is that Plains Road has changed and is no longer a highway but now a mixed use corridor and the sign bylaw no longer applies.  Craven wanted the sign bylaw to reflect the new reality.

If the retail location is set back some distance from the street a large sign would be permitted.  If the retail location was closer to the street a smaller sign would be required.

Was the confusion the result of bureaucracy run amuck or staff extending their reach and putting additional options on the table for Council to consider. Taylor didn’t see it as the latter and Craven just wanted to get the Plains Road problem fixed.

Craven wanted large signs where the retail outlet or business was some distance from the road and smaller signs for businesses that were close to the road.  Craven has an image vision for his part of the city that has been developed through close collaboration with retailers and the Plains Road Village Vision crowd.   Give him that and he was satisfied.  In the end he got what he wanted and the rest of the report went back to staff for a rewrite.

Sign at Guelph Line north of new street. Are their days numbered?

There are signage concerns for Upper Middle Road, Harvester Road and added Councillor Sharman, “there are going to be problems along Appleby Line as well”.

The report from city staff had a lot of add-ons – sort of like a retailer adding value to the purchase just made with a free coupon.

Are these signs about to become a revenue source for the city?

Banners were going to be allowed and election signs were going to be given a closer look.  And, if there are real estate agents amongst our thousands of readers, and we know you’re out there, get ready for this one.  Staff was wondering if there was not an opportunity to enhance revenue by licensing real estate signs.  That one should go over with a thud at every real estate office in this city.

Is the city considering fees for election signs during the next municipal election?

The thinking with the election signs was that any candidate running for office would give the city a deposit of $200 and get the money back if there were no infractions.  Councillor Taylor came close to levitating when that one got to his ears. “It costs a candidate just $100 to file nomination papers and you want $200 so they can put up signs.”

How are you going to enforce this bylaw?  How will you know that I put up the sign?  Are you going to take my fingerprints?

With 15 bylaws to be enforced and a staff of five Tracy Burrows, Manager Bylaw enforcement gave a council committee report they sent back for more work and a "cleanup".

John Taylor was clearly on a roll here and Tracy Burrow, the city’s bylaw enforcement officer was having a tough time rolling with those punches.  When she mentioned that each infraction would cost, say $80, Taylor reached for the juice he was drinking.

The fee for banners would be the same $46 that applies to portable signs now.

This staff report was going nowhere fast.  Councillor Dennison was prepared to support the two changes that would apply to Aldershot and Plains Road but wanted “a better report with some clean up” done to it.  When it came to voting on the recommendations Dennison did not vote for the revised recommendation.

The city’s sign bylaw had not been revised for more than 20 years and in that time the kind of signs available to retailers has increased dramatically.  They now light up at night and can have visual images that are fed into the sign electronically.

The city has five bylaw enforcement officers with one dedicated to Aldershot.

The specifics on the sign sizes will be finalized at a city council meeting and we will publish those then.

The report is due to go to Council July 3rd – expect a significantly different document then.

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Beachway Park North not ready for swimmers yet – Region reports on water quality.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012  – The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.

Beachway North is not yet safe for swimming

Beach water monitoring on June 19 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

• Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

• Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

• Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

• Burlington – Beachway Park South

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Boundary markers for Beachway Park North and South

• Burlington – Beachway Park North

• Oakville – Coronation Park West

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Director of Transit “retires”; city continues to works its way through interim plan that will feed into a Master Transit Plan.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012   During a city Community Services committee meeting last night, Councillor Paul Sharman casually mentioned an email from the city manager, in which the retirement of  Director of Transit Donna Shepherd was announced. No date for the retirement was given.

Community Services was discussing some additional data on transit fare options Sharman felt was needed.  After some back and forth debate on the question as to whether or not transit staff had time to do the work the committee decided they did indeed have the time.

Councillor Sharman and Director of Transit Donna Shepherd working through a budget document

Ms Shepherd has been with the city for some time, and has been at transit since at least 1991 where she came up through the ranks to become Director.  “She was always very pleasant to work with” commented former Mayor Walter Mulkewich.  Shepherd also spent a short period of time with Human Resources.

There was no other detail available at the Wednesday evening meeting.

Councillor Sharman and Ms Shepherd did not work particularly well together.  Sharman has very strong views on transit which are considerably different than those of Bfast, a Burlington based transit advocacy group that  wants to see ridership increased and routes extended.

Sharman and Shepherd never did have a close working relationship. Did this contribute to her retirement?

The Director of Transit was paid $173,820 according to the last “sunshine list”, a government report that sets out all civil servants that are paid more than $100,00

Shepherd struggled with the delivery of the details on the plan when it was introduced at committee and has had some difficulty as well with public meetings.

Public transit  in Burlington is going through very significant changes and it will be some time before there is a clear direction.  The retirement of the Director suggests that new leadership was needed.

Does the retirement signify a level of dissatisfaction with Shepherd in the office of the city manager or has Ms Shepherd decided that this would be a good time to retire?

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Hospital and city negotiating team do kissy, kissy and figure out just how to get city money to pay for hospital equipment.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 20, 2012    The negotiating teams for the City of Burlington and Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital have agreed in principle to a contribution agreement that will spell out just what the $60 million the city will be funneling over to the hospital is going to be spent on.

The plan, as explained to council committees is for the city to pay for equipment that will be used in the hospital rather than have city money used to pay for a parking garage, which was the original thinking on the hospital side of the table.

The city will be advised of the purchases and have funds in a reserve account to pay the bills.

The demolition of an old government building was the first step on the road that will see a significantly different hospital for Burlington sometime in 2015. Hospital expects to have shovels in the ground before the end of the year - all they have to do is get site approval from the city.

Mayor Goldring has explained that the city is going to have to borrow to meet this obligation.  The $60 million represents close to half of a one year residential tax levy for the city.  It is the biggest financial undertaking the city has ever done.

This one has been a long time getting from conception to birth but it is apparently ready for council committee and then full council on July 16th at which time we will officially be $60 million poorer.

The city has just over $8 million salted away and, if the agreement says what we’ve been told, the balance will get paid out over a period of time with the actual flow of funds beginning sometime in 2014 – and then stretched out over a period of time.

The city will work with the hospital to determine when they need funds to pay for equipment purchased is needed.  Maybe we should just give them a city corporate credit card and have the hospital put the cost on our plastic and the city can collect Air Miles.

Cathy Robertson is the "voice" of the city's negotiating team with the hospital.

Cathy Robertson, Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance, is a member of the negotiating committee and has become the voice for the city on the details of the agreement.

In December 2009, City Council approved up to $60 million as a municipal contribution for the proposed hospital redevelopment plan. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has also committed to raising $60 million through a fundraising campaign.

In August 2011, the province confirmed that the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment project was approved. The project, with a budget of more $300 million, will result in a significantly rejuvenated hospital. In April 2012, the city approved a go-forward plan for funding and negotiations that took place in May and June 2012.

“City staff recognize what a large contribution this is to the hospital and how important that contribution is to the people of Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of Community Services. “We have worked with hospital administration to make sure we achieve the best method possible of providing the needed funding for Joseph Brant while managing the city’s money effectively. We look forward to confirming that agreement.”

Schematic of what will go where on the hospityal property. The parking garage is on the far left.

Negotiations got a little contentious at one stage.  When the hospital realized that paying for the parking garage was just not on the city they came up with the idea of having the city pay for furnishings and equipment.  You have no idea what a modern hospital bed costs.

The city collected $1.2 million in 2010, $1.2 million in 2011 and $2.4 million in 2012 through a special tax levy. City Council earmarked $3.6 million from previous years’ surpluses, and now has $8.4 million committed in a reserve fund earning interest. The 2012 tax levy came to $7.49 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

“I believe we are in good shape with this proposed agreement,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “I think it will strike a balance between the need for City Council to be careful with how we spend taxpayers’ money and the importance of managing Burlington’s health care needs for today and for future generations.”

Golding delivered the keynote address at the hospitals AGM recently and attempted to lay the groundwork for a different relationship with the hospital.  Stephen Friday was elected the new chairman of the hospital board.  He and the Mayor have worked together in the past and hopefully the hospital Board will be able to work with the city in a more beneficial way for everyone.

The redevelopment project includes a new tower on the hospital site, new operating rooms and in-patient beds, a new intensive care unit, as well as renovations to diagnostic services and to the emergency department.

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Oppressive heat leads to longer public pool hours at LaSalle, Nelson and Tansley.

By Staff

BURLINGTON  ON  June 20, 2012   The city of Burlington has  extended the pool hours for the following  locations. :

The best way to keep cool - in a public pool. Hours for city pools extended.

LaSalle Wading Pool

11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Nelson Wading Pool

4 to 8 p.m.

 

Beats the heat doesn't it? Your tax dollars at work.

Tansley Woods Pool

4 to 9 p.m.

 

This extreme heat can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and even death. The public is asked to take precautions to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and to keep a lookout for the most vulnerable in your community.

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