Red light camera in Burlington expected to increases road safety & catch red light runners. $100,000 to install/maintain, not a cash grab.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 19, 2012  The first red light camera in Burlington is up and running to remind drivers to stop at red lights. The camera, at Brant Street and Dundas Street, is the first of 12 red light cameras Halton Region is planning to install over the next two years to help improve road safety.

“Residents have told us that they’re very concerned about the issue of red light running in our communities,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “The fact that there’s at least one collision every week in Halton Region caused by a red light runner is not acceptable to us. We want to save lives and make our roads a safer place to be. Running red lights is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.”

Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowley, Regional Chair Gary Carr and Mayor Rick Goldring stand at the intersection of Brant and Dundas with signs telling the public that red light runners will be photographed and fined. The cameras that catch you are up and behind these three fine civil servants

With almost half of Halton Region drivers surveyed stating they worry about getting into an accident when driving through an intersection and more than 60% reporting seeing a near-miss accident as a result of someone running a red light, Halton Region has installed two red light cameras – one in Burlington and one in Oakville – to help improve road safety. In 2012 and 2013, Halton will install another 10 red light cameras at strategic intersections throughout the Region.

Cameras are currently located at Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) and Brant Street (Regional Road 18) in the City of Burlington and at Trafalgar Road (Regional Road 3) and Upper Middle Road (Regional Road 38) in the Town of Oakville.

Throughout southern Ontario, red light cameras have reduced personal-injury type accidents, helping to improve the safety of intersections and enhancing quality of life. Cameras take photos of red light runners 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only operate when a vehicle enters the intersection after the light has turned red.

The fine for running a red light is $325. Demerit points are not issued with violations detected by red light cameras.

When you run a red light a picture of your vehicle is taken and downloaded to a processing at Metro Toronto Police who do the processing for all municipalities in Ontario.  Trained officers review every picture and if it is evident that the Highway Traffic Act was breached they mail you a ticket.  Hard to beat when there is a clear photograph of the car going through the red light – so you might want to take your cheque book with you should you decide to fight the ticket.

Halton Regional Police chief Gary Crowel is gearing down and getting ready to move into retirement where he hopes he can get out and do a bit more running. As a chief of police he gets to shuffle a lot of paper and pose for pictures - the actual policing days have slowed down a bit - but they haven't stopped.

The only upside to all this is that you don’t lose demerit points for an offence that was captured by a camera..  If a police office were to issue you a ticket for running a red light you would lose three demerit points.

Of the $325 fine – $265 goes to the city of Burlington and $60 is paid into the Victim Fine Surcharge.  The cameras are on 24/7 and they work in the dark.  The cameras are standard 35mm units and cost about $100,000 annually to install and maintain – so this isn’t a cash grab on the part of the city.  This is part of a program that will hopefully convince drivers to stop for red lights or pay the price if they don’t.

For those who decide to run a red light – you’re lucky if all you get is a fine.  The cost of an accident is much higher.

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Ideas worth spreading will be on the stage at TEDxBurlington this year; a first for the city.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 20, 2012  Spencer Campbell  grew up in Burlington and lives here now.  He’s done some amazing things but it is his latest initiative that you might want to hear about.  Keep the words TEDx Burlington in mind and you might want to reserve May 27th for a possible outing.

TED stands for  a Technology, Entertainment, Design.   It is a known as a group that pulls together people who have Ideas Worth Spreading and Campbell is bringing  a version of that program to Burlington.   The local version is called TEDxBurlington.

TED'x's have been held all around the world - Waterloo Ontario recently held a TEDx - now Burlington.

TED is an international organization created to get people talking about ideas and then spreading those ideas as far and as wide as possible and then putting them on a web site.  It is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site.

TED has thousands of filmed talks from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, astronomers / physicists to philosophers/performers to many, many less known but just as inspirational speakers. The intent is to get highly motivated speakers –those who are  professional and those who are not – from various walks of life to  share their personal passion on issues that matter for audience discussion.

The TEDx program gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently.

Spencer Campbell, entrepreneur and Burlington resident is heading up the group bringing a TEDx event to the city.

Spencer Campbell is bringing TEDx to Burlington to do the same thing and has so far confirmed four speakers for his May 27th event. Get to TEDxBurlington for more details.

On the platform so far are:

•  Dr. Jean Chamberlain – distinguished McMaster Medical Professor and Founder of an organization that focuses on reducing maternal mortality in African developing countries.

•  Patrick O’Neill – CEO of www.extraordinary    a leadership expert who has been involved with the Middle Eastern Peace Process

•  Michael Jones – a Juno nominate Pianist who will perform during the session and ask us to explore the heart of our own creativity

•  Josh Nelson – a childhood cancer survivor. Three years ago Josh asked the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride cycling team to ride for him until the day he could ride with them. Two years ago Spencer Campbell cycled with 41 others across Canada in 15 days to raise more than $1.5M for childhood cancer patient needs – Josh joined them from Woodstock to Toronto. He gave an incredibly moving speech when they stopped in Burlington.  Last year Josh  cycled – from Vancouver to Halifax.

•  Scott Graham – author, sought after speaker who focuses on helping kids develop character, confidence and budding leadership.

•  Trish Barbato – author, inspirer and career planning expert

TEDx events have taken place in cities around the world. The advent of a TEDx in a city is usually a sign that it has grown up and has an engaged informed population.

TEDx Burlington will take place in the Community Studio at the Performing Arts Centre.  Each speaker gets a maximum of 16 minutes.  The event runs from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm with a reception after the event at Thinkspot!, a three minute walk from the Performing Arts Centre.

The event is limited to 100 thinkers/doers/humanists. All the “talks” are videotaped and streamed online.

Campbell feels Burlington is ready for a TED event.  They do tie in nicely with Mayor Goldring’s Inspire series where experts in different fields come to the city to engage the community in subjects that relate directly to Burlington.


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Three times a day every school day – even when the weather is terrible. Our 114 school crossing guards are on the street.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 19, 2012  They are the men and woman who see our kids safely across the street morning, noon and at the end of the school day.  They are there when the weather is nice; they are there when the weather is not so nice and they are there when the weather is terrible.

They are the set of eyes that keep an eye on your child and while they aren’t a part of the team that educates your child they perhaps should be, because they see behaviour that a classroom teacher might miss and that a parent would like to know about.

Christine Hopwood is the woman that ensures there is a crossing guard for your child at every school in the city.

The school crossing guard program is run out of city hall where Christine Hopwood and John Crass, Manager of Traffic Services for the city,  oversee the 114 crossing guards that make the three trips a day needed to ensure that traffic is aware that children are crossing the street and that everything stops.

There are days Hopwood will tell you “when we get the phone calls telling us that a particular guard can’t make it to their station and then the team swings into action.  Dennis Ward is the first replacement to go out followed by Emily Keith and then I am in my car. If we need more help I call the Burlington detachment of the Halton Regional Police and they get an officer out to the intersection.”

“Some days” Hopwood adds, “it gets a little hectic’.

“We are constantly looking for crossing guards” says Hopwood, who adds that “we have a pressing need for guards in the Orchard community.  If you know anyone in the area please have them get in touch with me.

Crossing guards are usually seniors who have the time and find the income helps.  Guards are paid between $10.54 an hour up to $13.17  They are given the uniforms they need which consists of a vest a hat and of course the STOP sign.  They are paid mileage to get to and from their crossing station.  “We look for people in the community so that they don’t have to drive very far and people in the community know the children as well” explains Hopwood.

“We are concerned about the workplace safety of the people who stand out in the middle of a street or road – we have, thankfully” adds Hopwood, “never had a guard injured by a vehicle.”

Every August we bring all the crossing guards in for an instruction session where we review the job they have signed up to do and listen to their concerns and complaints.  “There are some complaints” admits Hopwood “but we always get them resolved.  We have a structure in place where Zone leaders are the first response to concerns a crossing guard might have and if they can’t be resolved at that level they come to me and they do get resolved.”

Christine Hopwood is a “resolver” if she is anything.  She brings a cheerful voice with a distinct accent and a fast walking pace to everything she does.  One doesn’t see Christine standing around – unless she is out on a street filling in for a crossing guard who couldn’t make it to their station.

The crossing guard programs costs the city $1.1 million annually and covers every school – even the private schools.. “For the most part” explains Hopwood “the private schools don’t need any help from us because they bus their students in.”

The key issue for the people that administer the crossing guard program is the safety of everyone involved.  “Slip and Fall accidents are what plague us” explains Hopwood “and we have very few of those.”

John Crass, Manager of Traffic Services has oversight of the school guard crossing staff as part of his file

Each year there is an Awards Dinner for all the crossing guards..  “These men and woman are a part of the community adds John Crass who supervises the work Christine does and manages issues that come from the public and council members who may have concerns.  Hopwood is the face of the program out in the field.  John is the “inside” man.

Sgt Chantal Corner, the liaison with the Burlington detachment of the Halton Regional Police, speaks to the crossing guards each year.  Last briefing session a crossing guard who didn’t measure much more than 5’2” asked if she could do a “citizen’s arrest” if she saw someone doing something she thought was wrong.  The Sgt, a good 5’10” didn’t miss a beat when she responded: “It would be better if you gave us a call”.

Those crossing guards are they eyes and ears of the community standing on the street watching over your children.  In the weeks and months ahead we are going to profile many of those men and woman for you.  They are a remarkable bunch.

One last word – if you know anyone in the Orchard community that you think would be a good school crossing guard – have them give Christine a call at 905-335-0172.  We asked Christine if there wasn’t a web site people could go to and she replied. “I’d rather talk to people directly.  I’ll personally take all the calls” – so there you go – if you think you’d like to be a crossing guard – Christine Hopwood is your gal.  Give her a call.



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Conservation Halton tells developer to get a wiggle on with its waterfront development or the rules will get tightened up on you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 17, 2012  There are rumblings on the waterfront – people at Conservation Halton along with people at city hall were getting frustrated with the pace – actually the lack of any pace, with the development slated for the Riviera Motel site on Lakeshore Road currently zoned to hold two seven storey buildings and a 22 storey tower – but nothing is happening.

Looking from the eastern end of the Mayrose Tycom property you see the Riviera Motel that will get torn down, with the unfinished Pier in the background and the walkway at the edge of the lake. The set back the Conservation authority is threatening to invoke would relate to this area.

The Waterfront Access and Advisory Committee was given an update last week on a project that got approved back in 1994 – that was seventeen years ago.  The critical piece of information in the update was that the Conservation Halton people put the developer on notice that “development of the property must proceed by the end of 2012 or else the new Ontario Regulation 162/06 will take effect, increasing the required shoreline set back.”  Ouch!

Set back means less space for the developer.  Less space to develop translates into less height and less height means less density, which then translates into fewer condo units that can be built and that comes down to the number of dollars in sales.  And dollars is what development is all about.  As Albert Facenda put it during a delegation to Council, “when a developer can tear down one building and put up two buildings in the same space, that’s pure gold”.  A few weeks later Facenda got appointed to the Burlington Heritage Advisory Committee.  Facenda didn’t manage to get to the first meeting he was entitled to attend as a full member.

This is the beginning of a pathway on the east side of the Mayrose Tycon property where a pathway leads to the waters edge The Pier is visible in the background with the Riviera Motel showing as well.

The plan for what is known as the Mayrose Tycon project,  that exists on paper, and perhaps in the heart of an architect somewhere, was to have a hotel at street level – along the south side of Lakeshore Road.  Behind the hotel and closer to the lake would be a 7 story condo and to the west of both buildings there would be a condo/mixed uses building that would soar 22 storeys into the air and completely obliterate the view for the folks across the street, who paid big dollars for the condos they own.

The design was to have an open space from Lakeshore Road down to the lake and there was talk of an open garden area but there isn’t a site plan for anyone to look at so no one knows what we are going to see down there.

There is a pathway down the east side of the property that will give access to the walkway that is now in place.  This will eventually connect up to the lawns in front of the Beaver and the Bulldog which is at the base of the existing Waterfront Hotel, which is next to Pier, that will go into its final phase of development in the Spring.  The end result, if we ever get there, will be an even nicer stretch along the water-front that will allow walking from the canal in the west to what is basically the bottom of Martha Street.

The football shaped piece of property seen from the west end with Lakeshore road on the left and Old Lakeshore Road on the right. It is adjacent to the Mayrose Tycon property.

Lovely idea – but there has been no development at the Riviera site.  The most recent flurry of activity was the trade the city made for a spot of land where the existing Lakeshore Road and the Old Lakeshore Road meet.  The city exchanged land they own for a public pathway right along the water’s edge – that gave the developer a better shaped piece of property to develop and the city got ownership of a strip of land along the edge of the water.

Chatter amongst the people who know something of what`s taking place development wise was that the Minto Group were talking to the Mayrose Tycon  people about developing the lands that had been assembled but nothing seems to have come of that.  The thinking was for some kind of high end condo development but the Minto people who certainly know how to build and operate high end condos was that the market wouldn’t support the thinking.

Delta Hotels were reported to be talking to Mayrose Tycon about a hotel – but the economy had not yet come out of the doldrums that American mortgage market greed put the world economy into – so that didn’t come to pass.  Mayrose Tycon, the company that assembled the property, now wants to find someone to develop and finally get a return to the very patient investors who are reported to be Austrian.

Both the city planning department and most members of city council are getting frustrated and kind of fed up with the delays.  Mayrose Tycon has zoning along the waterfront that they would not be able to get today given the changed view of the way the waterfront should be developed.  At the time, back in 1995, the thinking was that the city needed a landmark development and a 22 storey tower would certainly be a landmark – so Council at the time went along with the proposal.

The Riviera Motel and the land to the right of it plus a bit to the left of this picture would house two seven storey buildings plus a 22 storey tower. The pathway seen here was built by the developer in exchange for some land along the edge of Lakeshore Road.

The property was the only commercial waterfront land in the downtown and was to house a landmark building with continuity on the waterfront trail and a strong urban design.  The Official Plan designation set the maximum footprint for the taller building at 600m2

At the time the lands had an H for hold designation – that got removed when a shoreline Environmental Assessment was completed.  The shoreline protection features and a public walkway were approved in 2000 with construction to begin in 2004.  Believe it or not a Fisheries Act Permit was needed and granted – it was valid until December of 2004.

Zoning for the lands that was proposed to be amended in 1999 lapsed when conditions were not met.  It came back to Council in April of 2004 when the heights were taken to the current 22, 7 and 7 storey buildings.  They were originally 30, 7 and 7 with vehicle access to a center courtyard.  Neighborhood meetings were held in February and April of 2005.

There were meetings with Conservation Halton in 2005.  At that time Conservation Authority regulations did not apply to the shore line of Lake Ontario.  Conservation Halton evaluated the shoreline protection works and provided positive comments to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The shoreline protection work was completed in 2004/5 at a cost of approximately $2 million.

Required zoning was approved in June 2006 for a design that included:

A 22 story tower with 100 units

A 7 story tower with 50 units

A 7 storey hotel

2,270 m2 of ground floor commercial space

A publicly accessible center courtyard with a water feature and stairs to the lake

188 residential plus 272 non-residential parking spaces

A narrow floor plate for the 22 story building

All this was approved subject to:

        A cash in lieu of parkland payment

       An agreement of purchase and sale for land exchange.

       Section 41 and Section 37 Planning Act Agreements being signed.

       The H (Holding) designation requires land acquisition, utility planning, Record of Site  Condition and wind study to be completed before it can be removed.

All this was done and the implementing by-law was approved by Council on June 15, 2009.

Can you see …

You can see where all this is going.  The rules and regulations that apply to this site and this development are getting stiffer and more stringent, which puts the developer in a bit of a bind.  You can expect the developer to be hiring planners, lawyers or other advocates to plead for the time and other considerations needed to get this project done.

Mayor Goldring has an opportunity to show a different kind of leadership and take the city in a direction former Mayor MacIsaac wasn't able to take it. He has a very full plate with the Pier, which is now under control, the hospital that isn't under control, the Beachway which has all kinds of potential and then the Mayrose Tycon property and the Old Lakeshore Precinct.

Well since 2009  The Pier took over the front pages and while it has cost us a bundle, it will become the landmark the city has been looking for – and The Pier is at least being built.

When the Conservation people served their notice on Mayrose Tycon they were upping the anti and telling Mayrose Tycon that if you don`t do something by the end of December you will be subject to a bigger set back from the edge of the lake – which could be as much as 15 to 20 feet.  That means the developer has less land to build on – and the last thing a develop wants is to tangle with regulators, especially Conservation people.

The Mayrose Tycon people have been given more than a handful of breaks and the city along with the Conservation people want to see some movement.  This is certainly putting some pressure on the owners of the property but there are other events taking place that have the possibility of the city losing all control over the development of the Old Lakeshore Precinct of the city – which is the land from about Brant Street east to about Martha Street.

The waterfront file was once THE Councillor Meed Ward domain but she has backed a bit away from this one of late.

Within the area there is a piece of land referred to as the football because of its shape.  The western tip is currently occupied by a real estate office; that land is owned by a family trust.  The eastern tip is now owned by the Carnacelli group that also owns the property on the corner of John and Brant Streets, right opposite city Hall.

Carnacelli also has a property in Hamilton that is under active development – and while developers like to build things they do so only when the economy is favourable to profitable development and right now the economy isn’t capable of absorbing all that the city would like to see developed.

Also developers have to raise the money needed to bring these opportunities on line.  The people with money are reluctant to put their money at risk these days.

Has the Burlington market for high end condo`s been maxed out?    The city certainly needs class A office space but developers look for a client before they put shovels in the ground and Mayrose hasn’t, at least not to date, managed to find someone who want to locate in Burlington on the edge of the lake.

The developers are now realizing that the different civic authorities they have to deal with do have some clout.  The Conservation Authority has basically said to Mayrose Tycon – get a wiggle on.

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Nothing shabby about these salaries. But the schedules and the demands on their personal lives take their toll.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 17, 2012  The city’s budget will go to Council Monday evening and you will know before you go to bed what your taxes are going to be for 2012 .  On the city side you are looking at an increase of about 3.25% – it might climb a little higher if at the Council meeting your elected members get soft and slip in a few extras.  Sound of Music is still hoping that they will get the $17,000 they have asked for – Jack Dennison, Ward 4 council member, seemed to be onside for this one.

The Sound of Music people have a good case, it just wasn’t put forward all that well.  They are close to the best investment the city has in terms of bringing people to the city to spend, certainly worth more than what we are spending to bring people to Burlington to soak up the culture of the city.  No offence intended to the Art Centre or the Museum – the SOM is just a better business deal.

The Municipal Act requires that a report go to Council setting out what was paid to Council members and appointees to local boards.  We have added to those numbers what our guys get paid by the Region to give you the total cost to the taxpayers for their Regional and Municipal elected representatives.

This magnificent seven cost tax payers close to $1 million each year. Are we getting value for money? Actually we are, for the most part these men and woman are worth more than we are paying them. They more than earn what they get.

You, the voters get to decide if they are worth what they are getting paid.  Most of the Council members are worth every dollar they get and then some.  Others are not giving you value for money you are paying them.

In the figures we set out below we do not include mileage and other expenses council members are paid for – these are part of the cost of doing business and we don’t see those at part of the benefit package.

Each Council member has the opportunity to contribute to the pension program used by municipalities in Ontario (OMERS, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Service)

                                                Salary +                              Mileage +            TOTAL

Mayor Goldring                                $120,015.            $17,222                $137,237

Region Goldring                               $48,706                                              $48,706.

TOTAL salary and benefits            $168,721

Councillor Craven – Ward 1           $51,169                $5,368                  $56,987

Region Craven                                  $48,706                $777.67                $52,281

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,875

Councillor Meed Ward – Ward 2      $51,224                $5,552                  $56,987

Region Meed Ward                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930

Councillor Taylor – Ward 3            $51,169.                       $6,532                  $58,151

Region Taylor                                   $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,875

Councillor Dennison – Ward 4       $50,142                $7,749                  $57,891.

Regional Dennison                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $98,948

Councillor Sharman- Ward 5         $51,224                $7,532                  $58.756.

Regional Sharman                            $48,706.

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930

Councillor Lancaster- Ward 6       $51,224                $5,452                  $56,676.

Regional Lancaster                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930.

The variation in salary and benefits is due to individual benefit coverages.

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Are your elected officials worth close to $100,000 a year?  They are.   There are a lot of people on staff at city hall who earn a lot more than the Council members.  The six Councillors are at many evening meetings that run to well past 10 pm and they each hold community events.  They may not have to be out the door at 9 am every morning but they put in long hours and have to put up with more nuisance calls to their homes than most of us would tolerate.

If we didn’t know him better we would say the Mayor is addicted to going to public events – he`s not addicted, he just sees the hundreds of public events as places he should appear and he does.

Councillor Tayor getting a well earned smile from a meeting facilitator. Taylor puts everything he has and then some into his job

These elected officials attend conferences that are fully paid for by the public..  When Mayor Goldring went to Portland, Oregon he attended a family event in Vancouver and paid for that portion of the trip out of his own pocket.

Conference expenses for each were as follow and while they are included in remuneration by the Region we did not include those monies in our listing.  They were working out of the city on behalf of the city and those costs get covered.

What isn’t reported by the city are the fees paid to the Mayor by Burlington Hydro.  As Mayor he sits on the Board of Directors and is paid a fee of $600. per Board meeting and $300 for each committee meeting he attends.  One board meeting each month and at least one committee each month nets the Mayor an additional $10,800 each year which at least one member of council calls  “double dipping” – Goldring is paid as Mayor to attend a meeting and is paid a fee as a Board member. Fair to the taxpayer  That’s for you to decide.

The Mayor gets out to every event he knows of and patiently explains what the city is doing.

While Burlington Hydro is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city to which it pays a significant dividend every year the actions and activities of Burlington Hydro are not publicly reported and your Council does not report to you on what Burlington Hydro has done other than what they pay in terms of a dividend.

Councillor Dennison on the left explaining an issue to a constituent.

We can tell you that Burlington Hydro is struggling with how to make the turbine that is part of the Pier design actually work.  The original intention was to have a wind turbine out on the pier that would power all the lights that will illuminate the Pier.  There appear to be some problems and there is talk of having batteries put in place to power the thing.  The “brains” over at hydro are “working” on this one.

In addition to salary each council member has a budget of $9,000. To cover meeting expenses, printing, postage and advertising.  At one point during her first year in office, Councillor Meed Ward came close to spending her allowance on postage – she got a little exuberant.   That $9,000 for each Council member  seems a little on the low side.  When you are at an event and coffee and treats are on the table – that`s coming out of the Council members budget.  Based on what I’ve seen at some events there are Council members picking up some of these costs out of their own pockets.

Each Council member is given a free parking spot right outside city hall.  Meed Ward chose not to accept this benefit even though city hall staff are given free parking.  During the budget deliberations Meed Ward tried to have this benefit ended – she couldn’t raise any support from her fellow Council members on that one so the tried to have the benefit phased out over three years.  She didn’t manage to get that one through either.  I don’t think she’s going to give up on this one.

The Mayor has a budget of $32,000 for the same kind of thing.  He is also given a leased vehicle for business use.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious; still in a 'learning mode'.

One would think that being both a municipal and a regional Councillor is a full time job but Councillors  Lancaster, Sharman and Dennison all have other work they do.  Lancaster owns a Spa in downtown Burlington and while it is professionally managed for her, she does nevertheless spend some of her time directing the operation.  Councillor Sharman keeps his hand in his profession by serving as the editor of a professional publication.  Councillor Dennison owns, operates and is heavily involved in the Cedar Springs Racquet and Health Club.   Dennison does put much of his prodigious energy into his Council work but one has to ask – how much can you stretch something and still call it useful?

Councillor Craven is the best Committee chair the city has. He did a superb job of getting Council through the budget deliberations quickly and efficiently. Is there higher office in his future?

Committee of adjustment members were paid the following:

David Kumar was paid a perdiem of $320 and car mileage of $110.

Esam Sarraf was paid a perdiem of $1,860 plus mileage of $386

Grant Newbury was paid a perdiem of $1,600 plus mileage of $207.

Malcolm Ramsay was paid a perdiem of $2,200 plus mileage of $282.

Peter Rusin was paid a perdiem of $560.

Peter Thoem was paid a perdiem of $1,620 plus mileage of $269.

Robert Bailey was paid a perdiem of $1,700 and mileage of $43.

The Ontario government has a policy that requires every municipality to report the name and amount of every person who is paid more than $100,000 each year.  The policy was created by the Mike Harris government an quickly became known as the “Sunshine list”.  It is released at the end of March and we will certainly pass those numbers along to you.





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We miss you pal. So does the city, but they might not know that yet. Take care. We’ll be seeing you.

By Pepper Parr

Burlington, ON  March 15, 2012  It was a year ago today that we lost you John.  We’ve been busy.

They went and named a school after you and wouldn’t you know it – the community immediately wanted some of the property around the building set aside for public park use.  You`d have been proud of the way the Orchard community organized themselves – they certainly showed staff how it should be done.

The city spent several months putting together a Strategic Plan that you would have been really pleased with.  And, the darn thing is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

John Boich with the little sweetheart who lived across the street.

We have the Community Engagement person in place but that concept hasn’t energized very many people.  Not sure how well Community Engagement is actually going to work – it’s time for Burlington – may not have come yet.  What having the Community Engagement person in place did do was ensure that your Shape Burlington report was kept in print.  Actually it was you and Walter and a solid committee that put the whole thing together and Walter is certainly out there keeping the flame alive.

Shaping Burlington is there as well  – they’ve not managed to create a significant profile for themselves or learned how to take positions on issues.  The idea that they would go beyond the Shape Burlington report itself either hasn’t occurred to them or they just don’t want to do anything like that.  They haven’t done what we thought and hoped they would do. Wasn’t what we talked about, was it?

Heritage is still a mess; Joe Lamb mumbles about running for office locally, Keenleyside still tells Council that the condo people are getting a bad deal, Walter delegates and consistently tells council not to mess around too much with the advisory committee structure.

The Waterfront Advisory is pretty close to a disaster but some of the members of that committee are beginning to push for a different approach.

That mayoral candidate we both campaigned against – turned out we were wrong.  The guy can do the job – quite well actually.  He went and got himself a new city manager – this is a guy you would really like – he`s not a Serb but he`s OK.  Comes out of London and you know the kind of problem he had with the Mayor over there.

The dogs miss you.  Buster and Molly and the other mutt whose name I can never remember still yap away. Chris takes care of the odd jobs around the house, Lorraine is in close to daily touch with Arlene.  The hip surgery did what it was supposed to do and she doesn’t have that funny little walk anymore.

There are good days and days that are not as good for her.  That God you spend your time with now, forgot to give us a real Canadian winter (he dumped a couple of loads of snow elsewhere) which means she can get out in the garden earlier.

The ‘goat’ decided not to hold the Super Bowl party –everyone thought it was something you should take with you.

Still perplexed with the way MMW conducts herself as a council member.  The one thing that is consistent is her sticking her neck out.  She doesn’t always get it right – but no one can fault the woman for trying.  She drives city hall staff bananas and she has certainly changed the way council members relate to their Wards.

Blair Lancaster declared a conflict of interest on a very small matter but in doing so set a different tone at Council and within weeks there was Jack Dennison leaving the horseshoe and sitting in the public gallery on a conflict matter.

Eric Cunningham didn’t get the Maid of the Mist contract – it went to an American firm.

The Greek with the Grenade has put up a web site which means the 2014 election will be slower.

The provincial Tories took a pass on both Brian Heagle and Rene Papin and went for Jane McKenna – one could see the smooth hands of Foxcroft and Keith Large in that manoeuver.  She then went on to beat our friend Karmel, who didn’t do as well as MMW did when she carried the provincial banner.

Cam has a job as a lobbyist for an organization that’s in the optical field.

The Pier is going to get built.  It’s $5 million over the original cost and the turbine that was to give the Pier a high tech element is never going to work.

We miss you pal.  So does the city, but they might not know that yet.  Take care.

John Boich is the reason there is an Our Burlington.  The idea of a newspaper on a web site came out of many conversations with John as we walked his dogs in the Wellington Precinct.  John Boich was a trusted adviser as we worked our way through the first months of our existence. John passed away March 15, 2011

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Wonderful – 165 people attended – did anybody do any business? MeetingUp through social media what do we know?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 14, 2012  The Mayor has suddenly become a “social draw”.  Last week James Burchill, Burlington’s best mind on social media, held a MeetUp that pulled together 165 people at the Beaver and the Bulldog.  It was one of the better local examples of social media making something happen.

The event was made to happen when James Burchill used his LinkedIn account to broadcast a MeetUp.  He  pumped and promoted like crazy and got a more than decent turnout. Well let’s let Burchill tell his own story about the “happening”.  “Last week” gushes Burchill, “our third  Business in Burlington networking group MeetUp happened … and boy oh boy did it happen! We figured on getting 100 people to attend but blew through that and ended up with 148 confirmed and 165 finally accounted for.

Attendees at the March MeetUp

“The energy was awesome and people are still buzzing about it. So what’s the scoop today? Simple … it took us 3 weeks to reach 100 RSVP’s last time and about 3 days this time!”

“Yes, we’re well past the two thirds point for the April 4th event and yesterday we confirmed that Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring will be attending to show his support for our networking group.”

“Bottom line, there’s three weeks left until our next networking event and I’d say (if I were a betting man) that we’ll have filled all 150 available spaces before then.”

“Are you in?, asks Burchill. “ Don’t wait. It you want to attend the “hottest networking ticket in town” .

RSVP today

Clearly Burchill is on to something.  By using his LinkedIn account and telling his network of the event that network broadcast for him and they all just appeared.

A contributor to Our Burlington mention she was going to attend and asked if she could do a write up on the event for us.  She did and we published the piece.  Within two hours our analytics were telling us that the 150 some odd people who had attended the event read the  article and then passed it along to others.  The analytics tell us that about 350 people read the piece.  Normally that kind of an article would attract maybe 200 people.

If  you’re a business person – what does this mean to the way you sell widgets?   How can you use these social media tools to drive people to your web site and then to the point where they buy your product or service?

Burchill hasn’t said how he is going to “monetize” what he is doing.  Having a bunch of people who have nothing else to do or who are on the make, show up for an event where they know there will be a crowd of like-minded people isn’t anything new.  We all did that at university.   What Burchill has done is create a happening for people who for the most part don’t know each other.  What happens during his fifth and tenth event?  Does the novelty wear off?  How many people are there in Burlington that fit the demographic Burchill seems to be drawing?

Financial planners and insurance agents dream about getting their hands on this many business cards. Did anybody do any business at the March MeetUp?

From a business aspect – what Burchill has done is pull those 150 people together at a cost of less than $25. – plus his time.  There isn’t a financial planner or an insurance agent who wouldn’t love to know how to make something like this happen for them.

It will be interesting to know how many people learned something they didn’t know about social media due to this event and understand how they can use it.  Did anybody do any business?  And how many new clients does Burchill now have?

Ivey, the hot new spot out on the South Service Road gave away tickets galore to free offerings at their new establishment and that worked for them.  Could a meet up work for them? What is it you have to do to get some kind of a lift off and reach beyond the best 20 or so friends you have?

The politicians seem to be able to make it work for them – why do you think the Mayor is going?  He wants to see for himself what the results are and hear what others have to say.

What about you – will you go again and why would you go again?  Leave a comment.

The photography is © M.L.Holton 2012 /




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Big picture urban designer to open the Mayor’s Inspire series. Greenberg to speak on

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON, March 14, 2012  One of the best urban thinkers in North America is coming to Burlington in April and will be the first speaker in Mayor Rick Goldring’s 2012 Inspire series.

Ken Greenberg is an architect, urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto. Greenberg has played a pivotal role in public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe for the past three decades.  He has focused on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighborhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning.

With Burlington chewing away on a Beachway Master Plan, a Transit Master Plan and gearing up for the next review and revision of the Official Plan and toiling away at the same time on its Downtown Core vision, Greenberg’s visit could not be more opportune.

The event is to take place April 11th in the Studio Theatre at the Performing Arts Centre.  That space holds just 200 people – so register now if you want a seat.  When Andre Picard, one f the country’s leading health policy thinkers spoke last year there weren’t a lot of empty seats.

If designer Greenberg were advising Burlington on what to do with our Beachway would he suggest something similar to what he did for Toronto’s Harbourfront?

For over three decades Greenberg has played a pivotal role on public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe, focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighborhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning. Cities as diverse as Toronto, Hartford, Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Montréal, Washington DC, Paris, Detroit and San Juan Puerto Rico have benefited from his advocacy and passion for restoring the vitality, relevance and sustainability of the public realm in urban life.

During that three decades of experience, Greenberg has managed large multi-disciplinary staff and consultant groups for both the public and private sectors. He applies a holistic approach to city building, crossing traditional boundaries and working in team settings collaborating with many talented professionals from a variety of disciplines. In each city, with each project, his strategic, consensus-building approach has led to coordinated planning and a renewed focus on urban design. He is the recipient of the 2010 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for public design excellence and the author of Walking Home: the Life and Lessons of a City Builder.

To fully appreciate what Greenberg brings to this Inspire session a closer look at some of his projects and their relevance to Burlington is worth the effort.

He did the Harbourfront Center Master Plan, Toronto, ON, he also did the FilmPort Toronto Film Studios complex on the Toronto Waterfront, Toronto, ON

While this one didn’t go very far he was the mind behind Master Plan for Adaptive Re-Use of the Hearn Power Plant, Toronto ON

If McMaster University had not reneged on their agreement with Burlington to locate a campus in the downtown core – might this have been what Inspire speaker Greenberg would have designed?

Greenberg did the Master Plan for Ryerson University, Toronto, ON as well as the Master Plan for University of Toronto, Toronto, ON and the Master Plan for York University, Toronto, ON. He also did the Master Plan for the Renewal of Regent Park, a major public housing project in Toronto

Inspire speaker Greenberg who will be in Burlington April 11 was a consultant on the thinking behind how Toronto would make the Don River a more integral part of the city.

Greenberg is currently working on the Lower Don Lands, planning for the mouth of the Don River at Toronto Harbour, addressing urban design, transportation, naturalization, sustainability and other ecological issues, Toronto, ON

The work Greenberg did on the Transit Hub Studies for Port Credit and Cooksville, Mississauga, ON should make interesting listening for the Burlington transit people

Other speakers in the Inspire series included Chris Hume Architecture critic at the Toronto Star, Gil Penalosa, Tom Rand, author of Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit  and Andre Picard who suggested that Burlington might want to take a second look at what it really needed in terms of hospital renewal.



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First class police work in the Region nabs three robbery suspects. Police charge them with everything they can think of.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 14, 2012  An daylight armed robbery on Brant Street drugstore in February

On February 17th  the Halton Regional Police Service initiated an investigation into a robbery which had occurred at the “Medexpress Pharmacy” located on Brant Street.  During this robbery two suspects threatened the employee with a handgun and left after stealing a quantity of prescription drugs.

On February 23rd another pharmacy robbery took place in Milton at the Derry Pharmacy.  In this instance the  suspects left without obtaining any drugs.

Criminal Investigations Bureau officers from Districts 1 and 3 District  initiated an investigation and determined .  that the two robberies were related to one another.

On March 6th 2012 police arrested two males; Bempong and Drennan.  During a search of the vehicle they were in police discovered a replica handgun which was believed to have been used during the robberies.  With this information police obtained search warrants for the residences of thet two suspects as well as a hotel room they were using.

The locations of the search warrants were as follows:

1) Polonia Avenue, Brampton (Bempong’s residence)

2) 2468 Lower Base Line, Milton (Drennan’s residence)

3) 40 Chisholm Drive, Milton

During the searches investigators recovered some of the prescription drugs that were taken during the robbery.

On March 9th 2012 investigators arrested a third male (Gonsalves) in relation to these robberies.

All three accused were charged and held pending bail hearings.

The men behind bars are:

Fredrick BEMONG (31 years of age) of Brampton charged with Robbery with a firearm x 2;  Point firearm; Weapons dangerous x 2, Wearing a  disguise; Conspiracy to commit indictable offence, Fail to comply with a recognizance and possession of a controlled substance

Graham DRENNAN (29 years of age) of Milton has been charged with Robbery with a firearm, Weapons dangerous, Breach Probation, Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and possession of a controlled substance

Franklin GONSALVES (33 years of age) of Oakville has been charged with Robbery with a firearm, two charges. Weapons dangerous, two charges, and wearing a disguise, two charges.

Solid police work brought these three to a court room.

Pharmacy robberies have been taking place quite frequently in the Region.  Drug addicts go to any length to get whatever they think will feed their addiction.  Something to keep in mind as you watch the young people in your community circles.  If you think there are signs of what some call “recreational use” of drugs – move quickly to get help for the drug user.  There is no upside to drug use.




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Heritage is challenged to get it right within a very short time frame. New chair and vice chair installed. Now the hard work begins.

REVISED October 2, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2012

They had their work cut out for them.  The marching orders were pretty clear.  There was a new chair and vice chair in place and the mood of the Burlington Heritage  Advisory Committee at their first meeting, after a bombastic Council Committee meeting, was pretty upbeat.

Jim Clemens was made chair and Kathleen White was installed as vice chair.  Clemens, a retired high school history teacher who spent a significant amount of time with the Ministry of Education arrived in Burlington in 1971.  He was smart enough as the newly installed chair to set up a work plan, distribute the work load, make a presentation to city council and then head off to Florida for three weeks.  He has since returned.

Clemens was appointed to the Heritage Committee three years ago.  He now serves as one of the two Burlington Historical Society members on the Committee.

Kathleen White, a bilingual University of Toronto history graduate lives in one of the 67 homes in Burlington that has been designated as a Heritage home.  Kathleen can trace her family roots to the 1800’s in both Ontario and the Prairies.  She works in the private sector with technology and is the mother of two small children.

Clemens and White appear to work well together – they are going to need to if they are going to meet the deadlines and at the same time produce a report that moves Burlington away from the polarization that has be-deviled the city and at the same time put in place the sense of community that will bring the city to the point where it respects its heritage and goes that additional mile to save what is worth saving and have everyone proud of what we are doing.  That the Freeman station appears to have found a new home is a first step and is perhaps the turning point for things heritage in this city.

Heritage in Burlington is in very, very rough shape.  The best the city has managed to do is not have the opposing points of view attempting  to kill each other.  For reasons that neither side of the argument could articulate clearly, there has been very significant opposition to putting a home on any kind of list and more importantly, a serious lack of understanding as to what heritage is and why it is important.

It has been a poorly managed file at city hall.  People who should know better have made some very stupid comments.  Developers have stirred the pot with self-interest comments and the real estate community has contributed nothing of value to the situation the city finds itself in.

What many fail to understand or appreciate is that Heritage Burlington is governed by the Ontario Heritage Act which makes no mention of the owner of a piece of property.   The complaints that come from Burlington residents about the way the committee behaves are understandable, but there is nothing the Committee can do about that.  They are required to follow the rules as they appear in provincial legislation.

There has clearly been an inability to communicate on the part of the Heritage Committee in the past.  With a new chair and vice chair in place, both of whom know how to communicate, one can hope that a better stream of information gets through to the people who have had problems with heritage issues in Burlington – that would be the 100 plus that showed up at the Heritage Workshop last December.

Under a new Mayor who at least understands heritage the city has begun to inch its way forward.  It should be said however the city’s council members should be thoroughly ashamed of their behavior, having gotten federal government Stimulus Funds and then failed to find a suitable location for the Freeman railway station which is about as historic as anything in the city.  It certainly belongs right up there with the Joseph Brant Museum.

The railway station that saw the loading of hundreds of thousands on bushel baskets of fruit from area orchards and then served as the platform from which the youth of the community were taken off to wars from which many never  returned.

Petty, small thinking and self-interest seemed to have replaced the pride of community and a what’s in it for me began to take its place.

HMCS Burlington: Sailed past what is now Spencer Smith Park, acknowledged a salute from the shore party, swung back out into the lake and never returned. Decommissioned in 1945

The city has completely lost any historical connection with its water front – not a jot of recognition to the canneries that were once there; one is very hard pressed to show where the wharves at which ships tied up to take on and transport the lumber, then the wheat and then the fruit that came out of the soil.  For some reason history, or at least some of  it doesn’t seem to matter.  At the same time, this city has one of the most impressive and complete naval war memorials in the country on it’s waterfront – this in a city that really doesn’t have a naval history.  HMCS Burlington sailed past the lakefront breakwater once and we never saw the ship again.

The Advisory committee knows they have their work cut out for them and that there are concerns, at least with one member of Council, as to how useful the Advisory committee actually is.  Blair Lancaster of Ward 6 and Councillor Sharman of Ward 5

Councillor Lancaster was prepared to put those pretty pink work boots to the Heritage Committee and set up a Task Force to deliver on the Staff Direction Mayor Goldring had put forward. That, mercifully, failed.

have never come across as strong friends of the Heritage movement.  Sharman sees any involvement in what can and cannot be done with a person’s property is an infringement on their property rights and he wants to see changes made.  Lancaster wanted to see a Task Force created to resolve the issues that came out of a well-attended community workshop last January.

Sharman was rude enough to ask Jim Clemens, chair of the committee delegating to Council if he was prepared to buy a house whose owner  was asking to be taken off the register.

The facilitator of the November 2011 workshop, Stephanie Roy McCallum, of Dialogue Partners gave the city more than their money’s worth with the report she turned in.

Marianne Meed Ward sits as a Council non-voting member on the Heritage Advisory as well as being one of the Council members on the Waterfront Access Advisory Committee.  Meed Ward has created a reputation as being a very direct and energetic Council member who isn’t afraid to ask questions.  She has turned her volume down a bit of late.

Watching her as a participant of the Heritage Advisory Committee one sees a very different Marianne Meed Ward than we see at Waterfront – which for her was a signature election issue.  At the last Heritage meeting she was involved, active, animated, at times leading and very much a part of the process.  One doesn’t see the same Meed Ward at the Waterfront meetings.  Missing there is the energy and the drive.

Meed Ward has arranged two sets of one-on-one meetings with the Council members for the Heritage committee – she just went and did it because it needed to be done.  They will be taken through the first draft of the response to the Staff Direction and then taken through the final draft of the response before it gets taken to a Council Committee in June.

The committee has already lined up the talents of the new Community Engagement Coordinator and has been assigned someone from the city’s communications department to handle media.

The schedule these people have to work to is incredibly tight.  They now have a full complement with Jeff Sutcliffe, Fraser Dunford, Jim O`Neil and Albert Facenda made full members of the committee.

Diane Gaudaur, Linda Axford and Chelsey Tyers are added as non-voting members.

There is an interesting wrinkle to the make up of the Committee.  The Burlington Historical Society has two members on the committee as of right.  One of those two is Jim Clemens, the current chair.  One might ask: If the Historical Society becomes unhappy with the direction Heritage Committee chair Jim Clemens is taking, might the committee remove him as the Historical Society member and thus see him out as chair?  Just asking.

The Committee has gone through some very tough times.  It found itself with a mandated job to do and little in the way of support from the community.  It had to work with the Burlington Historical Society, a volunteer association that has no ties to city hall other than a couple of seats on Heritage Burlington.  The Historical Society plus is that they have the interests of preserving history as their mandate.   Then there was the Burlington Property Owner’s Association made up of people opposed to the idea that city hall, or anyone for that matter, could tell them what they could or could not do to their homes.  That group has a very boisterous membership.

Add to that there is a Planning Department led by one of the better planners in the province, who is as cultured an individual as you’re going to find in Burlington – but for some reason the Planning staff come across as heavy handed and dictatorial.  The tone and the language used in their web site presence and the regulations they post just doesn’t come out sounding helpful – it tends to put backs up and causing people to decide not to work with them.

On the Heritage Burlington web site there is a statement: “A heritage property may be designated by a by-law passed by City Council according to procedures defined in the Ontario Heritage Act. Designation provides a measure of protection against demolition and damaging alterations.

“Renovations and alterations to the exterior must be approved by Heritage Burlington or City Council. Interior features are usually not included in the designation, and may be altered without any approval process. Heritage Burlington assists property owners during the designation process, prepares a designation report, and advises Council on the reasons for designation.”

Every word is true – but the tone and the intention are just a little too much for many property owners who don’t trust city hall and don’t think anyone has the right to tell them what to do with property they own.  And when property owners read about some of the emotionally based, completely irrational decisions made by their council members – well that’s where the deeply rooted differences of opinion set in.

And then there is THE Registry – a list of homes and properties that is misunderstood and badly managed.  The previous council, that is the rascals who sat from 2006 to 2010, confused residents with some of the information they put out.  The situation was allowed to get out of hand, partly because there was no leadership from Council.  Jane Irwin, a member of the Historical Society who can usually be relied upon for a cogent, well informed comment, once explained to Council much of the background on registration and designation.  The Council, for the most part, did more harm than good – it was this crew that totally failed on the saving of the Freeman Station.  Councillors Taylor, Craven, Dennison and Goldring were all part of that Council and they let the funding they had in hand to move and repair the Freeman Station get away while the station begins to rot beside the Fire Station on Plains Road.  To add injury to insult the fire chief recently got council to go along with an upgrade to the fire station that was well over $250,000

Clearly heritage and the history of the city doesn’t have much traction and that is perhaps the biggest task ahead of everyone.  That task is going to take years.

With the recommendations from the Heritage Workshop in hand Mayor Goldring was able to take the next step and have Heritage Burlington review the consultants report and then provide direction in a number of very specific areas.   Heritage Burlington took that Direction and boiled them down to four tasks that were assigned to the committee members with very specific reporting dates and tight time lines.

The Staff Direction asked Heritage Burlington to set out a definition of heritage and then detail what the value of heritage is to the community.   This one should be interesting.

Morgan Warren  and  Randy McLaughlin are expected to lead this one – loads of contention here.

The premises they intend to work from are:  What does heritage mean for the residents of Burlington. How is this represented and defined?  What is or should be the cultural significance supporting the designation of existing and future heritage properties? Discuss the “why” behind heritage conservation.  How do we best celebrate and showcase Burlington’s heritage?  How do we develop a variety of opportunities and options for preserving, and promoting  heritage and culture in the city?

The second task in the work plan is the process and procedure behind the listing of heritage properties.  This one is also going to be led by McLaughlin with deep support from Geoff Cliffe-Phillips.  They will be guided by questions like: What is the process for placing and removing properties on the municipal register and what is the criteria for designation?  What should the city be doing about alterations, demolitions and restorations to buildings that are deemed to be historically significant. This is to include the Heritage clearance and permit process.

Should the designation of a heritage properties be voluntary or enforced?  Who participates in this decision-making process?  What are the criteria for heritage determination? What already exists and how might this be modified to reflect better the needs and wishes of residents and stakeholders and still maintain a heritage conservation process that can successfully managed by the city?  How does the current listing process function? What works? What doesn’t?

A third group is to focus on Property.  What are the rights and values attached to property?  Are there and should there be incentives and support for heritage preservation?   What exactly is the Legislative Responsibility?  What is the balance between heritage conservation as led by the City and the individual rights, roles, and responsibilities of property owners?

What is the property owner’s responsibility?  Is it a shared responsibility?  And what about the city, what is their responsibility?

Committee member John Vice is going to lead this group with loads of help from Sarah Thompson, Jacquie Johnson  Gardner and Randy McLaughlin.

The fourth work topic area is the decision making process.  How do decisions get made and what role does the  Planning Department play in all this?   What should be expected of city council and the Clerk’s Department and then what role does Heritage Burlington play? – realizing that this committee is bound by the Ontario Heritage Act.  Vice chair Kathleen White and committee member Randy McLaughlin are going to lead this group.

The deadline for getting all this done is tight and the city wants answers for a June meeting.   Council is not prepared to let this fester for much longer.

Getting the work done is just part of the task before this committee.  They then have to communicate with a diverse lot, including: Developers, Property Owners’ Association, Owners of Heritage Properties, Burlington Historical Society, Heritage Umbrella Group, Real Estate Companies, Heritage Workshop Participants and the general public.

What got the ball moving at Heritage was a layered thing.  The first layer, but just one of several was the very detailed report from Stephanie McCallum Roy of Dialogue Partners who was engaged by the city to hold the Workshop in November.  That three quarter day event pulled more than 100 people into the Mainway Arena where things got noisy from time to time and a number of people walked out in disgust with the comment that “nothing was going to change”. Mayor Goldring had prepared a Staff Direction for a meeting in January, but because the facilitator was unable to attend it was moved back to the next round several  weeks later.  So everything sat – but not before the Kilbride matter came and went.

When this building was removed from the Registry on a motion put forward by Councillor Taylor, it basically trashed the concept behind the Registry – it may not recover which will make some people happy but is a mistake from a heritage point of view.

2080 Kilbride Road is a house that is in a very dismal state of disrepair.  There are holes in the roof covered with blue tarpaulins.  The property is owned by two people who are in long term care homes which the family is finding very difficult to manage financially.  They wanted to sell their property but felt they would not get full value because the house was on the Registry.

Ward three Councillor John Taylor asked Council to take the house off the city operated registry of significant homes so that the owners could sell the property.  The argument was made that homes on the Registry do not bring the owners their full value.  For many it is a specious argument that is far from proven, but there are developers and real estate agents who will tell you, that if you are on the Registry you will get less for your property when you try to sell it.  Albert Facenda, a developer just appointed to Heritage,  delegated to a council committee with what he claimed was proof positive that property values decline when a house goes on the Registry.

Councillor Taylor took an overly emotional approach to a property matter in his Ward. He would have been livid if the Planning Department had allowed their feelings to creep into their work.

Councillor Taylor took a very emotional approach to this problem; one that he would have been livid about had staff been as emotional in their report. Taylor managed to convince his fellow Council members to go along with him and remove the property from the Registry so that it could be sold BUT they added that if the new owners came looking for a demolition permit, then the building would be designated as an historical property.

Should such a situation arrive – that is should someone apply for a demolition permit, the city has to issue one within ten days – and that could get problematical if a developer intent on tearing the house down chose to apply, say late on the Friday of a long weekend. The Mayor would have to call a Special Meeting of Council – before the ten day window expires – and should it be during the summer when a couple of Council members are away?  Well you can see the scramble that would take place.

Mayor Goldring was a little dumbstruck when Council voted to remove the Kilbride property from the Registry and asked his fellow Council members where the logic was in their decision.  Taylor had shown the city that Council is at times far from logical and all too often blatantly emotional in the decisions it makes.  Would that they had been as emotional about the Freeman railway station.  That was not one of their finest hours.

With that very regrettable decision behind them we can expect to see others who are on the Registry asking to be removed.

Add to the mix some refreshing but very surprising comments made by Jeff Fielding, the newly appointed city manager.  When asked if his staff would come back with some recommendations, he tells council staff isn’t going to touch this “with a ten foot poll”,  and then he goes on to tell council later in the meeting that Council has all the information they need and they should “just do their job”.  We haven’t heard language like that before.  Very refreshing.

Heritage has been vexing for Burlington.  It has been polarizing.  It is now going to get interesting.  We will keep you posted.
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To Zumba or not to Zumba? Can I get it with a coupon or on Wagjag? – asks savy shopper O’Hara.

By Sara O`Hara

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2012  I love Wagjags.  There is something attractive about getting up to seventy per cent off an item, even if it is something I don’t need.  I buy so many Wagjags I had to create a new file folder in my cabinet devoted to these handy little coupons.  Last summer I sent my five-year-old to acting camp for a fraction of the regular cost.  I have bought bowling Wagjags, restaurant Wagjags, and even hair and spa treatments.  It is a great way for consumers to discover new places and for businesses to increase their customer base.

You don't start a Zumba class looking like this - you go to Zumba and hope that you end up looking like this.

Last summer my friend Christy and I got a wagjag for “Buts and Guts,” a four-week boot camp at SST Fitness on New Street and Guelph Line.  The class started out with about twelve people.  By the end of the first hour two of the women were laying on the pavement, exhausted, and one man actually vomited.  Christy and I stuck with it.  By the end of the four bi-weekly workouts we were doing burpees“ and squats with the best of them.  I think it was the best shape I have ever been in.

This class ended right before Christy’s and my family rented a cottage for a week on an island up north.  Needless to say after a week of too much barbecued steak and beer, both consumed while lying on loungers reading trashy magazines, we were right back in the sloppy shape we started in.

Christy and I ended up buying a Zumba Wagjag around Christmas time, but we just kind of let that one linger in the above mentioned file folder.  With winter comes a type of hibernation in my home.  The cold weather makes me crave comfort food and lazy evenings on the couch.  The thought of us venturing out after a long day to a gym wasn’t too attractive.

We both kept talking about getting back into it, but as always, life gets in the way and we let it slide.  Finally we decided we need to get back into some kind of exercise routine.  Christy and I both have young children.  Christy is a professional business-woman and I am a full-time university student who spends my limited “free time” studying or writing essays.  We both desperately needed some “me” time, and we still have those lingering memories of the endorphins kicking in as we did our Buts and Guts last summer.

One of the largest Zumba classes every held had 400 people in it. More then 7.5 million people attend a Zumba class each week.

Tonight we headed over to Burlington Zumba at 1160 Blair Road, unsure of what we would find.  I have done Zumba at the Y several times, but this was a first for Christy.  Both of us were expecting to find a class full of toned twenty-something’s, wearing mid-riff baring tanks and leggings to show off their perky behinds.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a room full of women of all sizes and ages.  There were a few teens, but mostly women our age or older.  Mark, the instructor, was a lively man with a huge smile and an enthusiastic personality.

When he pressed “play” we couldn’t help but begin to move our feet as the room filled with vibrant music that recalled holidays on salty beaches.  As Mark began to move and point to his feet (Zumba instructors don’t call out moves, one is expected to mimic them) the class followed as best as they could.  I bumped into the women on my left and right repeatedly, but they merely laughed and I saw them bumping into the people on their other sides, too.  One woman got a bit carried away shaking her stuff and actually fell right down.  As terrible as it may sound all I could think was thank goodness that wasn’t me!  Of course I made sure she was okay, and although slightly embarrassed she got right back into it.

Zumba is for all sizes and shapes - all you have to want to do is get into shape.

I can’t explain the thrill of shimmying and samba-ing with thirty other slightly awkward women.  No one was looking at anyone else, no one had time to.  The moves change so fast that as soon as you get one move down you’re onto the next one. Zumba isn’t like the step-classes of the 90s where the instructor will single you out if you get the move wrong – as Mark said, “as long as you go left when the rest of the room goes left, you’ll be okay.  Oh – and SMILE.”

I noticed everyone had a big smile on their face throughout and the mood was one of fun and energy.  The hour passed quickly.

If anyone sees a wag jag for Zumba and is scared to try it for fear of looking silly or uncoordinated, I urge you to put those fears behind you.  I can almost guarantee you will not be the only one who doesn’t know the moves!  I also think you will enjoy it.  On the drive home Christy and I were hyped up after the kick the exercise gave us, along with the kid-free time we got to enjoy together.  Our plan is to continue twice a week until our ten classes run out.  Then we want to start another boot camp we also bought through – where else? – Wagjag.

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“I`m mad as hell and I`m not going to take this anymore”- Economic development speaker to talk about reacting to information overload.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2012


There is an opportunity for you to meet with your peers and guess what the federal budget is going to do to you and listen to someone who really does understand “Information Bombardment and has some ideas and thoughts  Rising Above the Digital Onslaught”

Dr. Nick Bontis, Author; Strategy and Management Guru; Director, Institute for Intellectual Capital Research Inc., argues that as we accelerate into the knowledge era, intellectual capital becomes the most important asset of an organization.

Nick Bontis, author to speak at Economic Development luncheon.

Nick  Bontis,  ranked among the Top 30 management gurus in the world, will be delivering a dynamic, high-energy presentation on knowledge management process and how to grow it to sustainable competitive advantage.

When and where:  Thursday March 29, 2012, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Burlington Convention Centre.

Nick Bontis is a Canadian academic, professional speaker, author and management consultant. He specializes in intellectual capital, knowledge management and organizational learning. Bontis is Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Director of Undergraduate Programs at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is also the Director of the Institute for Intellectual Capital Research a management consulting firm and research think-tank that specializes in conducting human capital diagnostic assessments for corporate and government clients. He is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Capital and Chief Knowledge Officer of Knexa Solutions – the world’s first knowledge exchange auction.[1][2][3]

In 1992, Bontis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors Business Administration) from Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario. In 1999, he graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (Business Administration) from Ivey.  Bontis currently lives in Ancaster, Ontario with his wife Stacy, and their three children Charlie, Dino and Tia Maria.

Bontis teaches graduate and post graduates students at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.

Bontis teaches business strategy to undergraduates, knowledge management to MBAs, and advanced statistics to doctoral students. He is also the coordinator of the first year introduction to business orientation course. In 2007, he was recognized as the first professor ever to win three outstanding teaching awards simultaneously: undergraduate instructor of the year, MBA instructor of the year, and McMaster University instructor of the year. He also received the faculty researcher of the year award for the business school.

Maclean’s has rated him as one of McMaster’s most popular professors for six years in a row.[4] In 2007, Bontis was one of 38 professors nominated for the 2008 Ontario’s Best Lecturer award.[5] In February 2008, TVO announced that he was among the top ten finalists.[6] In 2008, the OUSA (Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance) recognized Dr. Nick Bontis as the top university professor in the province. The official award citation read “OUSA would like to recognize Dr. Nick Bontis for having made a significant contribution to teaching excellence and for facilitating a positive learning experience for Ontario students”.[7] In 2009, Bontis was awarded the 3M National Teaching Fellowship,[8] an exclusive honour only bestowed upon the top university professors in Canada.[9] He was also the OCUFA Teaching Award winner which is given to the top professors in Ontario.[10]

This is a Burlington Economic Development Corporation Mayor`s Imagince, Ignite, Innovate luncheon event.  Tickets are $65.00 plus HST Table of 8: $520 plus HST  Register through the BEDC web site:



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The basement flooded – what do you do? Call the plumber. Owner could have called city hall. Customer service with a happy ending.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2012

There is a new broom at city hall.  It`s behind the door of the new city manager`s office.  He is quite capable of using it to clean things up.

City Manager Jeff Fielding is bringing a different customer focus to city hall.

As city manager`s go – Jeff Fielding was carved out of a different piece of wood.  Not in office 60 days and he`s done or about to do two things this city hall staff has not seen before.  He had some stationary printed up with the word “Thank You” printed on the outside and inside blank space for him to thank a staff member for something they`ve done.  That’s going to come as a pleasant surprise to our civil servants at city hall.

Next on his list are somewhat different marching orders for what Jeff Fielding calls his ‘top 60’ – these are the men and woman that  serve as the top level people at city hall.. General Managers, Directors, Executive Directors; that lot – the bosses.

Each of them is going to get a tap on the shoulder and Fielding is going to explain that during the month he wants them to get out on the street and meet with people. Drop in on store owners, restaurant managers maybe even apartment building managers and the guys at the gas stations who process your payment.

Not sure if Fielding is going to give these “top 60” tin cups with a few coins in the bottom they can rattle to indicate they would like a contribution or perhaps a mug filled with pencils they can sell.  The point is, Fielding wants his people out on the street with their ears wide open able to listen to what people have to say.  Should be an interesting exercise.

If some of those civil servants are going to call on home owners as well they might want to slide over to Glenwood  School Drive and talk to  Sara O`Hara about the way city hall works.  O`Hara is a full time student pursuing an education degree.  Her husband lost his job due to downsizing last month.

She explains:  “Last night we found that our laundry room was backed up with sewage.  We called a plumber and were told it would be an extra $100 to have someone come on a Sunday, so we didn’t use water all night and the plumber came first thing this morning.  He told us his fee would be $450.  Obviously we had no choice since our basement was flooded and with two young children we need water.

O`Hara went on to say: “The plumber put his snake through the drain and found out the blockage is on city property.  He advised us to call the city.

“My husband”  she continued “called 311.  He was informed that if he had called the city first they would have sent a plumber and we would not have been charged.  Since we called a private plumber, however, we are fully responsible for the bill.  The city is willing to send a truck tomorrow morning to video the pipe to verify the blockage is on city property, but will not reimburse us even once they see this.”

With the basement flooded Sara did what anyone would do - call a plumber. She could have called the city and they would have sent a plumber. How was O'Hara to know that?

O’Hara says her “plumber told us the city of Hamilton fully reimburses for plumbing services where the issue is on city property, up to $600.”

“I just don’t understand”, said O’Hara ” how any resident would know to call the city in such a situation.  And the city would have to pay their plumber just as much as we did the private one.”

Ms O`Hara did what a lot of people do – she called her Ward Councillor which in this instance happened to be Marianne Meed Ward – and wouldn’t you know it – Meed Ward was on Spring Break vacation and her trusty assistant was also away.  O`Hara explained to Meed Ward in an email that:  ” Our neighbourhood has had many issues with flooded properties in the past but nothing seems to be done.  I know you probably can’t help us specifically but perhaps this issue can be solved in the future by at least making residents aware of their need to call the city when there is flooding, or to have the city look at sewer issues on our street.”

O’Hara added that: ” We had just re-done our basement in December and now our two month old carpet is garbage.  We are going to have to make our first insurance claim ever.  This is just a nightmare for our family.”

Meed Ward did pick up her email while on vacation and punted this one to her acting assistant with the comment: I am so sorry to hear about this. I have copied my acting assistant Sheri Wainman to look into this ASAP to see if there is an option through the city’s insurance or some other way to assist.”

Shortly after this story was originally posted – we got an email from Ms O’Hara.  We will let her tell you what happened next.

Meed Ward’s assistant Sherri, contacted me about an hour after I sent the email to you.  She directed me to Kelly-Jo Vautour, the Risk Management coordinator.  Kelly hooked me up with the ex-gratia grant for public sewer back-ups  and we are going to get $500 from the region.  She and Sherri (Mead-Ward’s assistant) really jumped on this and were both sincerely sorry that we were dealing with the mess of the aftermath of the flood.

They were both fantastic.  I even told Kelly that she restored my faith in the region.  I did mention to her that it is not a well advertised grant, and if I had not pursued action with my councilor I would have simply been out the money.  She agreed that something does need to be done to increase awareness.

Either way, we were reimbursed the cost for the plumber which is all I really wanted.  We have to figure out now if we are going to go through insurance over the carpet or just skip that because of the deductible and potential increases in our policy.

The region is coming tomorrow to check out our pipes and figure out if further maintenance needs to be done to avoid future incidences like this.   It has been a crazy day!!


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Electronics Recycling Drop off – target is 88,000 tons province wide. Saturday March 31 at Tansley United Church, Walkers Line

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2012  Tansley United Church will be hosting an Electronics Drop off and Recycle Event on Saturday March 31st, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Tansley United Church, drop off point for electronics re-recyclables on March 31st

Please drop off your old computers, printers, copiers, cell phones, fax machines, televisions, stereos, or speakers to the Tansley United Church parking lot located on Walker’s Line just north of Upper Middle Rd.

The Ontario Government has an initiative to divert 88,000 tons of electronic waste from the local landfill sites and Tansley United Church has agreed to help Burlington residents take on this challenge.

Please save your old electronics for our event and go out to your friends, relatives and neighbours and help us spread the word.  The more people who are aware of this event, the more successful we will be.

For a detailed listing of what can be recycled and for more information about the program

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Who is Jeremy Freiburger and what does he want to do to us? And will it hurt?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 11, 2012  Jeremy Freiburger is the Founder of the Imperial Cotton Centre for Public Art that was very recently renamed CoBALT Connects  and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of Burlington`s public art program.  He is working away at the recently announced competition for the art work that will be placed on the exterior patio of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

With the new name Freiburger made one of his best connections ever by convincing the city of Burlington that he was the best person to develop the Cultural Master Plan which his group immediately renamed the Cultural Action Plan.  The objective is to establish a pro-active and collaborative approach to cultural development in the city.

Jeremy Freiburger will lead the search for a cultural identity and the development of a cultural action plan.

A McMaster University graduate with a degree in Drama and Comparative Literature, which usually gets you a job driving a cab, Freiburger chose to dive even deeper into cultural studies and took classes at the American Music and Dramatic Academy.  Added to that were numerous workshops in stage performance and direction, arts administration, grant writing, human resources and volunteer management, branding and marketing for the arts

As founder and Executive Director if ICCA Freiburger developed four facilities in Hamilton that are home to more than 100 creative workers and artists.

Freiburger is “not sure if it’s an advantage being trained in the theatre”,  but has come to the realization that being creative and entrepreneurial were symbiotic.  “For the better part of my life” he explains, “I’ve been exploring combinations of business and art as both an arts practitioner and administrator.”

The man who is going to guide the thinking that gets done to produce a Cultural Action plan for the city has “found himself  gravitating towards scenarios that aim to answer the questions that go beyond the immediate need of the cultural  industry (beyond the survival skills); and look more closely at those that are emerging and require resources and attention to flourish.  These are also areas often mired in semantics, conflict, communication nightmares, as well as incredible opportunity, energy and reward.  It’s at this point of friction and exploration that I find the most compelling work.”

Almost every project Freiburger has taken on provided him with an opportunity to learn the language of another industry, required entrepreneurial risk, partnerships and an open approach to project management.  All  skills and characteristics, that will be needed to complete the project,  has to be in the hands of the Ministry funding the project, by the end of March 2013.  As an aside, Burlington has a slew of events that are due to be completed during the first quarter of 2013: art unveiled in front of the Performing  Arts Centre, the Pier officially opened and now a cultural action plan.  And you know who is going to take credit for all this come the election in 2014 don’t you?

The project is an Ontario government Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport project funding 60% of the $100,000 contract and the city coming up with 40% that is a mixture of cash and in kind contributions.

Prior to taking on the oversight and management of the public art program for the city Freiburger managed the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts (ICCA which he founded in 2004 and is now called the CoBALT Connects.

Before founding the ICCA Freiburger did a basic needs analysis for Hamilton and Region Arts Council, which focused on the studio needs of local visual artists and the organization’s interest in starting a  ‘collocation facility’.  Despite the overwhelming need, availability of property and soft financial commitments from local funders, the organization decided not to pursue the initiative.  He quit.

That failure to follow through and fund the arts was the final signal Freiburger needed to move on and become a full scale entrepreneur.  Much of his entrepreneurial goal was based on the ability to “keep dreaming”.  “After months of   scanning  the countless vacant properties in Hamilton’s downtown core, calling  agents asking for tours and listing details, all the while having no clue what we were really planning to do with the information” Freiburger pressed on.

“While working in Oakville managing the Festival of Classics was a phenomenal position,” explains Freiburger,  “I was still surrounded by fellow artists and friends in Hamilton who wanted to see the concept we presented come to fruition.  With absolutely no resources (no money, no organization, no contacts of great influence) we continued our pursuit.  It was discouraging but we were determined, a fair bit idealistic, and young enough to not think too much.  Finally in the summer of 2003 our persistence paid off when we met the owners of the 270 Sherman complex.  It was a spark moment for both parties.  They had a massive property that needed animation and we had the energy and ideas to push it onto the community’s radar.”

Within days of meeting, Freiburger and his team were renovating space, hosting open houses and connecting the property with City officials, arts organizations and the general public.  “All things we had no experience in – all things we had been collectively wanting for years together” said Freiburger.

Freiburger signs the cheques and changes the light bulbs; part of being a cultural entrepreneur

“This is the point at which I realized I was the entrepreneur and the others were just dreamers.  The team dwindled quickly as the labour got harder.  The team completely disappeared when it was time to talk contracts with the building owner and  brownfield remediation with staff from Economic Development.  It very quickly became clear that it would be me that would keep this idea alive.”

“I wasn’t paid a penny for the first two years of running the ICCA” states Freiburger.  The work was tenuously balanced in evenings and weekends for the first year while he  managed the theatre in Oakville, but eventually he gave notice there in order to make a serious commitment to the ICCA.

It was a grind and Freiburger found that after being featured in the Annual Report of the City of Hamilton Economic Development Department for three years, yet not having received a dime in financial support, he decided he needed  a new relationship with the municipality.  He tends  to like heading into the lion’s den – so he intentionally chose not to set his sights on the Culture Department,  but focused on Economic Development.

In 2005 Hamilton endorsed a clusters approach to economic development and ‘film and culture’ was one such cluster.  Freiburger explains:  “By 2007 the City had done plenty of work in the other clusters but very little in the one of most importance to me.  So instead of waiting for them to get interested we invested $30,000 of our own money to conduct a basic industry impact study.  The thought was that instead of coming cap-in-hand to the City, we would flip the relationship and approach them with investment opportunities and resources to help focus their efforts”.

With research partner Centre for Community Study and inroads at City Hall to gain key statistical information Freiburger embarked on studying the basic economics of the cultural sector. This immediately brought intense criticism from the arts and culture community.  The ICCA and its partners developed the database of creative industry organizations and business, and  authored the final report.

Since completing the study the information has been utilized by Hamilton to inform its economic strategy. Other organizations have used the data to justify and guide programming decisions, and it has become the foundation for the ICCA’s organizational plan.  The dedication to an alternative relationship resulted in paid consulting contracts that far outweigh the costs of the original project, and has framed our relationship in a completely unique way with the municipality.

So, what is Freiburger going to do in Burlington?  Well for starters he wants to see a community engagement process that has people “doing” things more than “talking” about things.  “When we engage with the community we will have them doing things” – which is difficult to explain but for Freiburger “pushing the line” is a large part of the way he does business.

The project has to be completed by March 31st, 2013.   Burlington picked up on an opportunity to have a project funded under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport`s  Creative Community Prosperity Fund.  The city got $61,550 to, as the Ministry put it “to build on the successes of the 10 year Cultural Strategy, Public Art Master Plan, Parks and Recreation Cultural Asset Plan, and earlier cultural mapping and economic impact studies.  The city will update and enhance these tools to provide the municipality and cultural community with an integrated Cultural Plan.”

Freiburger, who will report to Director of Parks and Recreation, Chris Glenn, has broken the work into five sections: 1) the cultural producers, these are the people who “make” art; ; 2) the cultural industries, the people who support the cultural producers in a myriad of ways; 3) youth; 4) citizens and 5) education.

Kim Selman, Stephanie Seagram and people from Kitestring will be working with Freiburger on a close to daily basis.

By the end of it all Freiburger expects to be able to tell Burlington: “This is where we think you are going” and add to that where the city might best go in terms of developing its cultural industries.

Burlington’s city council recently turned down a budget request for $20,000 to cover the cost of a one year pilot project in Cultural Collaboration between the Heritage people and the Cultural crowd with the Royal Botanical Gardens folks thrown in for good measure.  The presentation made to Council was a little disjointed and there was apparently some confusion as to who was to do what in terms of behind the scenes work.  It looked as if that link wasn’t made and that the project didn’t even get talked about at the “pre-meetings” your Council holds before most of the public meetings.

Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Glenn, on the right, will be the city's point man for the team developing Burlington's Cultural Action plan

Barbara Teatero, Director Museums Burlington, didn’t manage to convince anyone on Council that the idea had legs and when Councillor Sharman asked them what would happen if they didn’t get the funds they were asking for – they didn’t have an answer.  That brought a quick end to that request.  Council got themselves off the hook by suggesting the idea was perhaps premature and should wait until the Cultural Master Plan delivered its findings.

We now know a lot more about Jeremy Freiburger, the man behind the task of helping Burlington figure itself out culturally.  With a single public art collection – The Burlington Art Centre;  a pitiful little museum;  a part of a historical farm and a Performing Arts Centre that is in the start-up phase of proving itself  plus a library that struggles to keep up with demand but nevertheless offers wide, varied and popular series of programs – Freiburger has his work cut out for him.


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Putting the cultural wheels in motion and making the arts a bigger part of the city’s economic development.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 12, 2012   “I would like” said the city of Burlington, “a Master plan for the cultural industries in my city.   Here is what I have, now what should I do to grow what I have.”

That basically is the question a Request for Proposals asked and what the CoBALT CONNECT contract is going to answer in the next twelve months.  Here is how a conversation between the city and CoBALT CONNECT might have gone as the negotiated the contract.

Burlington has been engaged in creating a cultural policy since 1991.  In that time the city managed to build a $40 million + Performing Arts Centre that we are so proud of we decided it needed to be adorned with some public art and we are spending an additional $100,000 on that.

The Brant Museum is a combination of culture and heritage and is within what some describe as a "cultural district".

Burlington believes in developing community capacity – not just municipal capacity, which is a collection of buildings.  In Burlington, a number of leisure and recreation programs are delivered through partnerships with community hubs and we want to do the same thing with the delivery of cultural services.

The city has seen significant population growth, we are the largest city in the Region and are nestled in beside Hamilton which has much more urbanity than we have, although not quite as much civility, and they draw the younger people in our city and we want to create more draw for that demographic here.

As well, we are seeing much more diversity than we are used to, and we want to integrate the different cultures into the cultural fabric of the community

We think the development of our cultural plan process will break out into three phases.  We bureaucrats like phases, they give us something to look forward to and we can usually get something into the budget to keep these phases alive.

Phase 1 from our point of view will begin with a review – we don’t want to re-invent the wheel now do we – but we do want to look at what other cities of a comparable size have done and at the same time get really adventurous and take a peek at what cities that are nowhere near what we are and see what they have done.  One of the objectives is to bring all the members of the internal cross department team we will develop, up to speed and have us all working from the same base.  We are desperate to make sure that we eliminate the silos – even though some of us are kind of comfortable with the things – if you know what I mean.

Phase 2 is when we think we should add a layer of community consultation and we would like this to be really robust.  We want to see a very high quality, transparent and mutually beneficial relationship between the city and its cultural stakeholders by the end of this process.

Stained glass artist Teresa Seaton is a force to be reckoned with in Burlington's cultural community. She will have a lot to say to the people developing a cultural plan for the city.

This is where we want to involve the focus groups we will establish.  You will have a focus group made up of the people who do culture; the playrights, the actors, the artists and even the buskers if there are any in Burlington.  Then a focus group of the people who serve the cultural industries; the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association.

We want to see a Youth focus group as well as a focus group from the education sector and then a focus panel from everyday citizens.

We want to hold two large scale collective engagement events plus a series of public consultation opportunities.  We’d like to see this as wide open as possible and not just those cultural dilatants who feel they are the true holders of the cultural flame.

Throughout these processes  we hope there will be an intense search for measureable data.  Change that from hope to a ‘gotta’  – we need data to give us some idea what the heck we`re doing.  The public knows we are spending their dollars when they see a road paved but it`s not quite as evident with the world of culture.  So we need numbers that will support what we are doing.

Phase 3 is where the chickens should be coming home to roost.  With community engagement coming out of our ears and everyone happy little campers, we want to be able to put our analysis, conclusions and recommendations in front of the public shaped as a Cultural Plan.  And we want this to be boffo!  This has to be a WOW! thing for the city.   2013 is going to be a great year for us and we don’t want any downers anywhere.

THE Pier will be opening, the art in front of the BPAC will be unveiled and our political masters will be in the final lap of their term of office and they all need to get credit for this plan.  So make sure they are in on it from the get go.  That won`t be hard – they will be using their elbows to get at the table.  You watch and see – even Councillor Dennison will find a way to appear as a cultural buff.

Throughout this public engagement phase, the relationship between the city and the Cultural Action Plan committees  will be tested, redefined and reshaped to reflect the needs of the larger community as we discover what they are.

The longer term hope is to introduce new, sustainable governance systems for planning and decision making regarding our cultural resources.  We have made a terrible mess of planning and explaining our heritage to the city,  we just don’t want to and can’t afford to make those mistakes again.  Can you help us?

Here is what we bring to the table.  We have a data base that has 356 organizations that have some link to culture – some of them might be slim links but we see culture as something that includes everything and anyone.  For us that ranges from the Mayor playing the piano at an event and the local MPP tripping over a brook and forgetting the words when he did his Singing in the Rain impression of Gene Kelly.  That event was given some legitimacy when our very own Jimmy Tapp gave us more than one chuckle.

Like bureaucrats around the world we break our work into phases and from 2006 to 2010 we focused on providing leadership for cultural development, building capacity and delivering clear benefits for the growing cultural community. Some of those benefits are not that easy to see – so we need to up the confidence level with our tax payers.

Our Heritage stuf is a bit of a mess right now but we are working on that.  Your mission, now that you’ve accepted it,  is:

To create a pro-active collaborative approach to cultural development.

Create a broad internal understanding of the cultural planning process and then give us some ideas on how to connect service delivery policies to our Strategic Direction..

When you do this we want there to be broad community engagement in the cultural planning process that includes cross sectional opportunities to move forward.

Chris Glenn, Director Parks and Recreation for Burlington is the "report to" person on the development of a cultural plan. He is on the far right. Councillor Paul Sharman, a strong supporter of culture in Burlington will be following developments closely.

Include in the report you are going to give us, a detailed cultural mapping process and an economic impact analysis which results in the identification of cultural and creative economic hubs and the evolving community needs and priorities.  We want you to highlight the public and private opportunities and while you`re at it give us significant insight into the concept of a cultural district strategy.  And help us find a way to make this meaningful to those folks in the Orchard and Alton parts of the city as well as those way up there in Kilbride.

Make sure you include a calculation of the economic impact of what culture can contribute to the economy of the city.  We want you to identify the generation of a dollar value that culture can deliver to the city.

We want you to create a rich cultural electronic portal for ongoing reporting, analysis and promotion.  You will know what that means.

Add to that a well-supported Cultural Plan to guide the city and its stake holders.

And because we think we are giving you a significant amount of money – something in the order of $100,000,  we want you to hold at least 15 meetings with staff and various advisory groups; we want you to hold at least two public consultations; add to that at least three focus groups – one consisting of education people, one from the cultural industry and another from the cultural sector

You’re going to have to hold a Council workshop as well, that will include the internal stakeholders.

Then wrap the whole thing up with a launch event at which you deliver the report for the full stakeholder community.

That’s basically what the city asked for in a Request for Proposal and then based on a proposal submitted by CoBALT CONNECTIONS they awarded them a contract and said  get a wiggle on,  we need the report in just over a year.

The folks at CoBALT Connection are already digging into the task.  Jeremy Freiburger, the man behind that organization is probably going to have to open up an office in Burlington to keep on top of it all.  Gosh, we are seeing some economic spin off already.


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Freeman station just may have found a permanent home 50 yards or so from the rail line that it once served. Details to follow.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 10, 2010  It is on the move – again.  This time to a better place where it will get the care and feeding it has deserved for such a long time.

Is there another ride in store for the Freeman Station? Is it finally going to be given the home it deserves? Details are sparse but there is something afoot.

Details are sparse but the committee that devoted itself to saving the Freeman Railway station from the wrecking ball appear to have pulled it off.  Despite the city failing to find a decent home for the station even though they had more than enough money to move and refurbish the station it nevertheless failed to find a place they could located the building.

After a more than valiant effort by Councillors Marianne Meed Ward and Blair Lancaster they were given some time to see what they could do – and do they did.

The sold prints, they held benefits and they scrounged for donations.  They got themselves charitable status and they found someone who would take the building in, renovate it and have it ready for installation somewhere on the Beachway.

There are more questions than answers at this point but it appears that the Save the Station committee found someone, who may be getting a tax receipt for the renovation work they are doing.

There were no dates or time lines available – just that the station would be moved and repaired and then located on the Beachway.

At some point this has to go to Council for approval which will not be before March 28th.

Conservation Halton will have something to say about putting anything on the actual Beachway, that is the land to the south of where the railway line used to run.  Currently there is the Pump Station and and a small concession stand with washrooms that looks like it is need of an upgrade.

The station was the major route in and out of the city until the province developed a system of major highways. There are those in the community who want to preserve the railway station and there are those that blew the several chances we had to save some of our history.

The Conservation Authority has been holding public meetings as it works its way towards what it feels should be a Master plan for the Beachway.   That plan has to tackle the matter of the 28 + homes that exist north of the old railway line that is now a walking path.

The community that used to exist along the edge of the water is no more and the city has to decide if it wants people living in the area and if they decide yes – then what are they going to do in terms of sewage treatment facilities for those homes that are currently on septic tank systems.  Declaring that the Freeman station is going to be located on the Beachway of course doesn’t mean it is actually going to get there.

Right now the group that has been fighting to save the freeman Station appears to have found someone to move it from beside the fire station on Plans Road and get it into a facility where it can be renovated.

There is obviously much more to this story than we have at this point in time.  More details to follow.





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Waterfront committee might just pump a little energy into Beachway part of the city.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 10, 2012  There are things happening on the waterfront despite the close to disastrous state of the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

Pump House was opened in 1910 and closed in 1936 then used as a private residence. Structure seems solid - could become a Beachway destination.

Back when Burlington was a town there was a squat little brick building on the waterfront called the Pump Station that currently houses a`stuff ‘that the city doesn’t know where else to store.   The Pump House was in continuous service from March 3, 1910 to February 1936, the year following the completion of the first filtration plant. It was converted into a private residence.

Just to the west of the Pump House there is a concession that sells French fries and ice cream.  Jeff Martin heads up a subcommittee of the Waterfront Access and Advisory Committee that decided it wanted to do something and took on the task of turning the Pump House into a destination.

The first step is to get inside the building and get a sense of what shape it`s in and what it will take to turn it into a place the public can use.  The committee wants to entice someone with an entrepreneurial bent to take this on and turn it into a place that is open from at least May to Thanksgiving.

The building could be turned into a coffee shop, perhaps an art studio and a coffee shop.  Licensed as well perhaps.  The subcommittee is wide open to ideas and proposals – they just want to see something happening on the Beachway and hopefully get the Waterfront committee to the point where it can show it has actually managed to get done.  Serious case of leadership vacuum on that committee.

Another subcommittee did excellent work on pointing out locations across the city where private property owners were blocking legitimate access to the waterfront.  Les Armstrong and his team assembled a file and passed it along to city hall where it hasn’t moved all that much.

In the picture above you can see the edge of the railway tracks that were removed.

Jeff Martin’s group is determined to take the first step to bringing some life to the waterfront and making it a bit of a destination for more than those who like to get out for a walk.  The place has potential and if the city is willing to work with someone who has restaurant/hospitality experience, we could see something akin to the Williams Coffee shop that exists in Hamilton on their waterfront.

Jeff Martin, along with a number of other Waterfront Advisory members were getting fed up with what wasn’t happening  The full committee has spent most of its life (getting close to two years) spinning its wheels and getting deeper and deeper into the mud.

It`s terms of reference has a sunset clause in it; this one might not have much of a life left, which would be a pity because the waterfront needs some inspired leadership to channel the energy that is certainly evident on the committee.

However, as one way at city hall has pointed out:”They did re-elect the current chair so they have to live with that decision.”



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You will be able to see the art chosen this time. Exterior art at BPAC to be unveiled same month as Pier in 2013 Can we handle this?

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 9, 2012   After putting up a rather decent piece of public art in a place where no one gets to see it as they drive by, the city of Burlington is going to take a stab at getting it right this time.  At a city budget meeting most members of council referred to the Orchids now on Upper Middle Road just east of Appleby Line, as a “lesson learned”.

There is a new group behind the public art process and the hope is they will bring their considerable expertise to this second time around“ for the city as far as public art is concerned.

Not much of a public turnout for this unveiling.

The city hired CoBALT CONNECTS,   they used to be the Imperial Cotton Centre for Public Art, to oversee and administrate the selection of public art in the city.  The city put a chunk of money into the art program budget and moved very quickly to announcing that the next location would be the exterior of the Performing Arts Centre.  With the location issue of out the way, the community can now focus on who is chosen to do the art work.

All public art competitions will be evaluated by an independent jury of practicing arts professionals, community members and (when required) technical experts.  If you would like more information about the jury process or would like to be considered for future jury positions contact

Professional artists are invited to submit Expressions of Interest to create a permanent public artwork for the exterior of Burlington Performing Arts Centre. This competition is open to all Canadian and International artists and artist-led teams. Click for a copy of the application  form.

Because art is such a personal thing, and because so few people have the training or the experience to know good art when they see it, and because in a city the size of Burlington (any city for that matter) the more powerful people then to get their sticky fingers into the selection of anything that has to do with the “arts”,  Burlington wisely chose a third party with the intriguing name  CoBALT Connects  to manage the process.

They recently put out a document requesting an Expression of Interest from the arts community.  This is basically the first filter of names,  but a rather rigorous one,  that weeds out people who are not really qualified.  `Qualified ‘has been a bit of a problem for Burlingtonians so to make it crystal clear for those who have a disposition to complain CoBALT sets out what they mean by an artist: A professional artist is an individual who has specialized skills and/or training in his/her artistic discipline (not necessarily in academic institutions), has a history of public presentation and is critically recognized as an artist.

That definition does shut out the wild and wooly abstract artists who have yet to be recognized but Burlington was never going to mount that level of art anyway.  The definition CoBALT is working from sets a very acceptable standard.  It means your uncle who has done some really wonderful work on tree trunks with his chain saw is not going to qualify.

There is a well-oiled communications network used by the artistic community to spread the word on where the opportunities are.  With Expressions of Interest due April 13,  that does though preclude any advertising in the “arts” publications.   One assumes CoBALT knows how to get the word out to the artistic community.  If they don`t like what they see in terms of Expressions of Interest they can, one assumes, delay and extend the time line.

The art work has to be responsive to the architecture of the building it is going to sit in front of and at the same time capture the sense of anticipation, movement and energy that is part of a live performance.

Whenever people talk about doing something in the downtown core the word vibrant gets slipped in.  Saying we have a downtown core isn’t  going to make the vibrancy just appear.  It comes from the soul folks; it comes from the soul – ya gotta believe, you dig!

This piece of art is surrounded by don’t s.  It can`t be something someone can climb up and it must not have any sharp points and it has to comply with the Ontario Building Code. The art work should complement the design aesthetic of the building – does that mean it has to be grey and bland like the brick work?   The drawings submitted have to be certified by an engineer licensed to practice in Ontario.

The artist chosen will get a cheque for $95,000 CAD out of which he is going to have to pay for just about everything, including two trips to Burlington.

Stage 1 is the receiving of all the Expressions of Interest.  The deadline is April 13th and there will be hundreds of expressions of interest.   The selection committee will look at everything that comes in and ideally narrow it all down to three or four finalists using the following criteria:

Qualifications and professional experience of the artist.

Artistic merit of previous work.

Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines., budgets and success in executing projects of the scale outlined.

The artists responsiveness to the sit and approach to the project.

 Meeting deadlines and a budget is code for “we don`t want another pier on our hands”.

The three to four that make the cut from Stage 1 will be asked to prepare a Concept Proposal that is to include an artists statement, preliminary drawings, draft budget and implantation plan.  The finalists will have eight weeks to get this done and when submitted they will be paid an Honorarium of $1500 each.  The proposals then go to the public for comment and feedback.

The selection committee will recommend the successful artist based on the merits of the Concept Proposal, technical feasibility and public feed back.

Burlington's intellectual cognoscenti pose with the artist at the installation of the orchids on Upper Middle Road.

Unveiling a work of public art on the patio of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre will be a lot more dramatic than the miserable setting up of the orchids on Upper Middle Road on a chilly winter day.  Not an artist in site other than the Irishman who created the orchids, a couple of civil servants and a clutch of politicians.  Oh, and there were half a dozen mechanical types who had to drill new holes in the base of the orchids so the bolts put in place would fit.  While the orchids would past muster under almost any public art standard, the administration  and management of the that project was a lesson learned`.`

It is clear that the people in this city who makes the decisions didn’t take to our suggestion to move the orchids from Upper Middle to the steps of BPAC – an opportunity missed.

If all goes as planned the public art will be unveiled in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in June of 2013.  Wait a minute – June of 2013 – isn’t that the month we plan to officially open The Pier?  Are we tempting fate here?



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King Road grade seperation work limits access and traffic for six week period

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012    King Road is getting all kinds of attention in terms of traffic restrictions. Phase 2 of the King Road Grade Separation Project will begin on March 12, 2012. This phase of the project involves the installation of round steel concrete-filled tubes to form an interlocking wall on the west side of King Road, south of the CN Rail crossing and north of the CN Rail, west of King Road.

Grade separation work will limit access and traffic on King Road for six weeks.

That means King Road will be closed for about six weeks beginning on March 12, 2012 from north of Enfield Road to 1135 King Rd. (IKEA Parcel Pick Up).  Pedestrian access through the closure (across the CN Rail) will be maintained.  Detours to Brant Street and Waterdown Road will be marked.

The construction work will consist of  piles drilled into the ground; a steel sleeve put in place and then filled with concrete.  This process is moderately noisy. Work will be done from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.

It’s going to be a little on the messy side in that part of the city for the next while.

A grade separation is going in at the CN line on King Road. Expect construction to impede the flow of traffic while the city, CN and every public utility gets involved with what is a significant engineering task that will culminate during the Thanksgiving weekend. The project will also involve a widening of the bridge of the QEW.

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