Computer fraud is rampant – people will call you and offer to fix a problem with your computer – they are after your money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 5, 2013  There isn’t one of us that doesn’t find at some time that their computer isn’t doing what we wanted it to do and we are flummoxed in figuring out what has gone wrong.  So when someone calls saying they can help – all caution gets set aside and we eagerly answer the questions we are asked by the person who called.

We don’t ask – how does this person know I am having a problem with my computer?   As soon as you have answered the first two questions – they have you.  All that isn’t known is how far they are going to take you and how much of  your money they are going to end up with.  They are not going to fix anything on your computer but, according to the Regional Police they are probably going to install a virus on your computer and then try to convince you to pay them to remove that virus.

The best protection available is you asking questions.

March is Fraud Awareness Month – use the time to think about who you let near your computer.  If you don’t personally know the person calling – hang up.

The Halton Regional Police are warning  the public to be suspicious of any calls they receive from people claiming to be employed by a computer company that has become aware of a problem with your computer – they will tell you it is infected with as virus they can remove.

This is known as the “Anti-Virus Scam” which has been around for several years.  Between March 1st 2011 and August 31st 2012, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 13,842 complaints of this type with a total dollar loss of $814,511.00.  In most cases, these calls are originating from call centers based outside of Canada.

As part of this scam, the call recipient would be instructed to do a series of keyboard commands that would allow the caller to remotely access the computer over the internet and actually install the “virus” to make the computer appear to be infected.  The caller would then remove the “virus” and request credit card payment anywhere between $35.00 and $469.00 for their services.

In some instances, the same person will call back and report that the version of the security software has expired and request an additional $100.00 to have it re-activated.  They got you once and they figure they can get you a second time.

If you receive an unsolicited call from people telling you that your computer is infected with a virus or that your version of security software is inactive or invalid, you are urged to hang up – this is someone wanting to defraud you of money to fix a problem they may have created.

If you don’t know them – don’t deal with them.

Allowing a third-party, someone you don’t really know, to remotely access your computer, puts you at considerable risk.  They can install software that logs every keystroke you make and capture sensitive data , such as online banking user names and passwords, bank account information and other information to steal your identity.

Police are also reminding the public to be very careful about providing credit card and/or banking information to anyone over the phone and internet, especially in cases where the call was unsolicited.

March is Fraud Awareness Month.  Police ask you to please take the time to educate yourself, your family and your friends on how not to become victims of Fraud.  For further information, please visit or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

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Giving it your best shot takes on a whole new meaning for the ONE event being held for Breast Cancer Support Services.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 4, 2013   Here’s a different one for you.  A group is putting on an event for a local charity,  Breast Cancer Support Services.  The city certainly has its share of charity events.

But this one is different with a unique angle.

Kimberly Neale, a young go-getter we met some time back, had created a service for people with more money than time.  She called her business “I’m On It” and was available to do things that called for promptness and quick thinking.

We got this media release from her yesterday.  What the group she is part of has come up with is a photo session that has a local model posing for 12 different photographers.  The concept came from Derrick Van Der Kolk  who pulled together a group of photographers who would be given a camera, a roll of colour film, a couple of props and a model to photograph.  The photographers would all use the same studio and have one hour to complete their shoot.

A simple naturally lit setting for the twelve photographers taking part in the ONE event. The setting along with a pink boa, a pink mask and a pink scarf was all each photographer had to work with. They all had to use the Hasselblad camera with Fuji colour film that will be developed and mounted by a professional film processing company.

The camera – a Hasselblad – not too shabby – and 120 Fuji Colour film with an ISO of 400 would be used in the warehouse space using the same the same props: a pink boa, a mask and a pink ribbon.

That’s it.  There is also a make-up artist,  Courtney Nevins available to the photographers.

The studio space they used offered some interesting lighting opportunities.  It sounded interesting.

“I hope this email finds you well” said Kimberly Neale in the email she sent us. “I wanted to let you know about a unique charity event taking place at Spencer’s at the Waterfront in Burlington March 28th to help support Breast Cancer Support Services.  Now the relevance of the pink scarf became evident.

We gave Kimberly as call and learned more.  The 12 photographers were chosen a couple of months ago by Derrick Van Der Kolk .

The photographers were given the film and camera – Fuji Colour film (ISO400) – that’s about all there is in terms of colour film – yes film – not digital.  Kodachrome  bit the dust about a year ago.

Each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased, displayed and will appear anonymous at the Gala event March 28th at Spencer’s on the Waterfront.  Each photograph will be framed in the same manner.  The film will be processed with no retouching and of course no Photo Shopping – this is real film, the old stuff, the original stuff.  The photographers will use 120 film – didn’t know they still made the stuff.

Each print will be blown up to 36 x 36 inches and then framed.

The prints will be judged and then sold at the March 28th event.

ONE will feature the creative talent of 12 photographers and showcase the artistry of film photography while raising funds for an amazing, local charity.

The showing of the photographs is the culmination of the event.   At the final event on March 28, 2013, at Spencer’s, where each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased and displayed. Photo Media Décor is doing the framing with World of Lighting  putting just the right amount of spotlights on the pictures to show them all at their very best once they are hung. The photographs will not have the names of the photographers on them.  Three judges will then declare the winning photo. Traditional film photography will be used and photos will not be altered after the development process.  Film processing is being done by  Duncan & Wright.  At the conclusion of the voting, the winner is announced and a silent auction will be held for each photo with all the money raised going to Breast Cancer Support Services.

This is a ONE of a kind event taking place in a beautiful location, featuring the artistic abilities of talented, local photographers!

Kimberly tells, in a breathless voice that their “Facebook page has reached 78,463 people in just ONE month and we continue to see this number rise.”

Almost too much – but it in an interesting take on modern photography.

The idea came out of three minds that managed to meet. Derrick Van Der Kolk came up with the concept and recruited Neale and Chris Sakai (Sakai Promotions) to assist with organizing, hosting and promoting the event.

ONE was created to bring the true art of true photography back in to the forefront.  As a talented and  passionate photographer, Derrick wanted to give photographers a platform / competition where the true skills that a group of photographers could be challenged.

The twelve chosen include both professionals and amateurs and one as young as fourteen.

“Van Der Kolk had the idea but he needed help in promoting and getting it to actually happen. He approached us with his idea and how to bring this to life.  The three of us saw an incredible opportunity to tie it all together; creative art (showing local talent), local charity and an opportunity to showcase / promote local businesses – community, art and business all in one location”, says Kimberly. The venue, the Discovery room at Spencer’s, is as good as it  gets. The Killin’ Time Band playing an acoustic set will be there as well!

Tickets are only $25.00 online / $30.00 at the door and can be purchased on the website or by emailing

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Tear down city hall – and the Arts Centre while you’re at it? Who said Burlington was called Borington?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 4, 2013  This stuff is as dry as toast and watching paint dry is more exciting BUT, it is the stuff that is going to result in the foundation your city gets built on.

In Burlington, the Capital Budget is a ten-year rolling document.  They plan ten years out and advance the decisions  each year.  This year there are so many things in a state of flux that the city manager advised Council he will want to re-state the Capital Budget very soon.  The intention is to align the Capital Budget with the Strategic Plan.  Burlington now has a thoroughly thought out Strategic Plan that came out of more than five days of meetings spread out over a three-month time frame.  It was what council and staffs were able to do at the time – the city might be ready for a review of that plan – perhaps in the next term of council.

So- what is it that’s on the table from a Capital spending point of view for the city in 2013?

Well the Tyandaga Golf course is not seen as a revenue generator for the city and the land could, some think, be put to better use.  The city manager isn’t prepared to stake his reputation on these numbers but he thinks the club needs 23,000 new people every year to replace those that don’t return.  He adds to that,  the view of many golfers – that the club just doesn’t cut it as a fine place to play the game.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven argues that the place could be managed better and they could think in terms of recreational uses during the winter months – like allowing cross-country skiing and maybe even an outdoor skating rink.  So – what does one do with that land?  Just asking was what we thought we heard the city manager saying.

Will we see additions made to city hall or will the site be sold to a developer – or perhaps the building could be torn down and turned into a parking lot?

City Hall is getting a very close look.  The city currently rents space in the Simms building directly across the street from city hall and that lease is up in 2016.  Legal and Finance are in the Simms building and it is not uncommon to see staff walking across Elgin Street with their arms full of documents.  Some are advocating for putting additional space on top of what already exists at city hall, while others think selling the building and putting up a brand new city hall is the better direction to go in.

When the suggestion about doing something with the city hall was put out, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven immediately suggested that Aldershot would be an ideal place for a stunning building.  Has he put a feeler out to the Paletta’s?

The sense was that if a new city hall were to be built it should be in the downtown core but no one identified what the boundaries of that core would be.  There is the space in the parking lot four between John and Elizabeth Streets that the city has been hankering to do something with for some time.

Here’s a WOW for you. Tear down the parking lot, put up a condo – then tear down city hall and build the parking lot on Brant at Elgin. Put commercial space at the ground level. Where would city hall go? Over on parking lot # 4 om John Street. – and while you’re at it put the Burlington Arts Centre in the same building as well. The capital budget meeting at which ideas like this got tossed around was quite the meeting. Is Burlington ready for this kind of growth?

Now try this idea on for size.  One of the city’s general managers asked: Why do I park my car in a building that is close to overlooking the lake.  The parking lot on Locust Street immediately south of the Performing Arts Centre is on pretty prime property.  What if that parking lot structure were torn down (yes it is fairly new) and the land sold to a developer for another condo much like the others spread out along Lakeshore Road?  Great views of the pier and Spencer Smith Park from that location.

Then tear down the city hall building and put the parking lot in that location.  What would the net cost be?   Councillor Dennison pointed out that what the city has spent in rent could have paid for an addition to city hall. The city needs more space for its staff who are currently in two buildings on opposite sides of  Elgin Street.

Whatever is built on that lot would be a multi storey building – think maybe 10 to 12 stories and could house the Burlington Art Centre collection on two – maybe three floors.  The ground floor would have all kinds of open space with the different guilds working away at their crafts that the public could look in on.  The world-class collection of Canadian ceramics could be on display and visible to the public.  They are currently in cardboard cartons in a storage vault.

The land the Burlington Art Centre is located on – Lakeshore Road across from Spencer’s on the Lake would be sold and have condo sites on it.  That BAC lot is very, very deep – something exceptional could be built on that property.

The Burlington Art Centre sits on some prime lakefront property.  The land is said to be worth $6 million and the Centre needs more space for its ceramics collection.  Maybe there is a better place for the BAC?  Perhaps in a new city hall built on parking lot #4 on John Street?

The BAC needs more than $4 million in upgrades to get their  structure and  HVAC up to scratch.  Some thought there was merit in selling the current BAC property, said to be worth $6 million for the land alone, and moving the Art Centre to a building that will go up on that parking lot everyone has eyes on but no one wants to invest in.

There were some pretty heavy ideas floating around. It got better.  The city manager has noticed that the Hydro property on Brant near Upper Middle Road is a large piece of land that, to use the language of planners, is under-utilized. It is much bigger than Hydro will ever use – there are ideas floating about as to how that property might be put to better use.

The city is about to take a closer look at what it wants to do with the Beachway part of the city.  The first steps in that process are finding an entrepreneur who wants to put something commercial in the old Pump House.  One young lady delegated to a council committee meeting and said she wanted to talk to the city about using the space to rent bicycles and paddle boats to people during the summer season.  If she adds a patio where Councillor Dennison could enjoy a glass of wine she’s got his vote.

The sign is the brightest thing about the shopping plaza.

The Skyway Arena in the east end has just a single ice pad which isn’t seen as very efficient. When this came up during the capital budget discussions the city manager asked how much tolerance the city had for risk and would Council give any thought to considering the idea of trying to make something out of a possible combination of the arena property, the library that is currently using rented space on Fairview and attempting to work out something with the owner of the Lakeshore Plaza that is in dismal shape?

No sooner were the words out of the mouth of the city manager and Councillor Sharman piped in with: “Consider it done and that resulted in a staff direction on which council can expect there to be a lot of push back from the residents of the community.

The Lakeshore Plaza is a bit of a dump with almost as many “For Rent” signs as there are actual occupants.  The Swiss Chalet is closed.  The theatre and bowling alley haven’t been used for years and the place has that sad, run down look about it.

A too small to be economically viable – the Skyway Arena is getting a close look from the ‘bean counters’ at city hall.  The city manager thinks there are some development opportunities.  The local community wants to be at the table if there are any deals made.  Could get interesting.

The Skyway Arena sits at the back of the plaza property – which is what got the city manager to thinking – what if the city made its property available to a developer and asked anyone interested to come up with some ideas.

Combining the Arena space and the Lakeshore Plaza properties would create a very enticing development opportunity.  The Skyway rink is currently a single pad which the city finds very expensive to maintain.  Two pads are much more economical.

Were a developer to come up with some housing ideas that would accommodate families – the city could create a community out there that would anchor the east end of the city, create a new community that would have access to the arena, that could be enlarged – add to that the immediate access to Burloak Park – and there would appear to be a win-win situation for everyone.

Save the Skyway arena didn’t lose any time getting the word out and making sure city hall knew who they were.  Is their Ward Council member aware of the group?

During the discussion Councillor Taylor, whose turf is in the north-west part of the city, piped in and suggested to his fellow council members that the community needed to be included in all this grand plan thinking.  That point seemed to have gotten lost.

It didn’t take long for the residents of the community to stand up on their hind legs and begin to bark.  Before you could say “Bob’s your uncle”, a group had a web site up with a headline saying  “Because Burlington City Hall doesn’t listen to its residents” .

So, while the capital budget itself is a pretty dry document consisting of how much gets spend on roads and then which roads, and then how many buses does the city buy and what size of bus – some of these decisions are for something that is going to happen eight years out.  Difficult to get people excited about what is going to get done that far out into the future.

What all this is leading to is a much more entrepreneurial look at the way the city develops its capital spending.  Those longer term spending decisions determine the shape of the community we get to live in.

Way back in 1985 city council approved a development on Lakeshore Road that is only now at the early stage of actual construction.  That decision approved a structure that will reach 22 storey’s into the sky line – something few people in this city fully appreciate.  Will it loom over everything or will it add to the skyline.  When the debates were taking place back in 1985 it was seen as a “landmark” building – will the community see it that way when it opens?

In her last delegation to city council the late Jane Irwin reminded them that many called the place BORINGTON.  That just might be about to change.


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Fifteen Burlington businesses are finalists in Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award

By Walter Byj

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 3, 2013.  How often do we drive by a business in the city and wonder:  what exactly does that company make or what services does that business offer?  We all know what products Ford makes and many in Burlington will know who Fearmans is; but what about the 100s of smaller industries that are spread throughout the city that contribute to the growth and sustainability of this city?  Are there companies you didn’t  know about who provide a service you can use?

Burlington has companies that employ hundreds of people. Each year the Burlington Chamber of Commerce   invite the public to nominate companies that they deem to be the best  in one of five categories.

The Chamber then gives those nominated to a committee that interviews and determines which is the best of those nominated.

The 2013 winners of the Business Excellence Award for each category will be announced at the upcoming Chamber Business Awards gala to be held on April 11th.

There are five categories:  Manufacturer, Retail/Wholesale, Service (Small), Service (Large) and Employer of The Year.

Following is a brief description of each of the finalists in each category.  How many do you recognise?


Apex Composites Inc.  This manufacturing company located on John Lucas Drive in Northeast Burlington, originated in 2002 as a supplier and repair facility for race cars. However, like most progressive companies, they set their goals higher and along with highly trained personnel and sophisticated equipment, they now participate in parts manufacturing in the highly sophisticated aerospace and defence industry. The ability to meet the demands of their customers, should bode well for this company in the future.

Battlefield Graphics.  Established 1964 in Stoney Creek , this commercial printing company moved to its current location on Harvester Road in 1988.  Privately owned by the Theoret family, Battlefield Graphics, with a current staff of 85 people, has not only expanded over the years but has continually updated its presses so that it can meet the requirements and demands of its North American customers.  You may be familiar with some of their work as they produce the GM car catalogue and are a supplier for in-store signage at Wal-Mart.  Combining a strong sense of service along with the most up to date technology, this company has plans beyond North America as they strive to be a global player.

Marshield Radiation Protection & Storage Units  Many of us have benefitted from at least one of their products whenever we are seated in a dentist’s chair; the  dental apron is just one of their many products. Located on Morris Drive and established in 1979, the company is a division of Mars Metal Company.  Their products are also used in the nuclear industry not only in North America, but also for selected international accounts.

Shipway Quality Stairs & Railings.  Established in 1980 and located on Ironstone Drive, this company has become one of the premier staircase and rail makers not only in Ontario, but also throughout North America. With over 100 employees (craftsmen), this company is synonymous with quality and customer service which has enabled it to earn a strong reputation in the designing and building of stairs and rails.


Frid & Russell Business Products.  Filling business supplies needs since 1947, this Canadian office supplies company located on Ironstone Drive has become the largest independent office supply company in Southwest Ontario. Serving an area from Toronto to Kitchener to Hamilton this founding member of Office Plus has maintained their market dominance through a focus on competitive pricing and strong customer service.

UPS Store # 89  Located on Fairview Drive, this independently owned franchise is geared to serve small businesses. As the name suggests this outlet is equipped to package and ship parcels worldwide. In addition, they offer digital print and copy services along with a mailbox service.

Throat Threads Apparel  Originating as a tie company by Russ Fearon in 1993, this company has grown exponentially over the past number of years. Located on Plains Road East in a large century building, this company has yearly gained distribution rights for a number of highly recognizable international brands in such categories as men’s sportswear, dress shirts, belts, women’s wear and footwear. Some of their better known brands are Ping, Tommy Hilfiger and Swiss Army brands. Using strong sales and marketing skills, their products are located in a vast array of retail stores in Canada.


AIS Solutions  Offering expert financial advice, this company, located on the South Service Road, is ideal for those small businesses that required financial solutions but are not large enough to maintain their own staff.  By outsourcing their accounting or bookkeeping requirements to the AIS  Solutions team, smaller business will receive expert advice and solutions to a number of business requirements at a very reasonable cost.

Pat’s Party Rentals  Providing the necessary accoutrements for a large variety of social gatherings such as weddings, corporate events, fund-raising or trade shows has been the goal of this company for over 25 years. Established in 1987 and recently consolidating two locations into one larger facility on North Service Road, they provide not only the product required but also help with planning ideas.

Seferian Design Group  How often do we observe a nicely landscaped area and wonder who was responsible for this island of beauty?  Well, it just might be the Seferian Design Group. Established in 1992 and with a client list of well over 100, this landscape architecture and design firm has been beautifying residential, commercial and industrial areas throughout the golden horseshoe and beyond. Located on Ontario Street, this firm is the recipient of many awards.


Ampersand Group  Located on Billings Court, this hospitality focussed company offers, through its numerous divisions, expertise to clients in the hospitality business. Their services range from consulting and implementing unique restaurant experiences to software that enables a restaurateur to better track and record many aspects of their business.. Some of the Burlington restaurants Ampersand works with are The Dickens and The Rude Native and Prime Rib.  They also provide catering services at the Burlington Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre.

Neelands Refrigeration Limited  We may take the refrigeration sections in our grocery store for granted but not so for Neelands. In operation since 1958 and located on Palladium Way in North Burlington, this distributor of a number refrigeration companies, helps in the design, location and logistics of a variety of refrigeration units within a store.  The ability to provide a full service menu to their customers has enabled this company to be highly respected in their field.

The Idea Factor Inc.  Highlighting and  promoting  their clients to potential and existing accounts is the target of this firm that is located on the North Service Road . The use of telemarketing, direct mail or other unique avenues helps in reaching out on behalf of their accounts for new customers. Representing accounts in both Canada and the U.S., their unique and innovative methods has enabled them to be in business for over 25 years.

 Employer of the Year

In 2012 the Chamber felt it was time for Burlington to recognize an Employer of the year.  This year two companies were nominated.

O.C. Tanner Recognition Company Ltd  To help motivate and then recognize the efforts of employees is the target of this firm that is located on Fairview Drive. In Canada since 1982, they work with a large number of employers in developing incentive packages that set targets and respective awards for their employees.

Thrillworks Inc.  Recognizing the growing influence of the internet and importance of a powerful web page was the genesis of this company located on the South Service Road.  Using a five step approach, they offer a one stop all service package for all of their clients. Some of their better known accounts are Tim Hortons, Pet Valu and Petro Canada.

There you have it – the fifteen companies that were nominated by their peers and will now go through a rigorous vetting procedure that is kept very confidential until the night of the awards.



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Forget the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised you – put up the big bucks and have your name in lights in Alton Village for-ever.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 2, 2013  Burlington, Ont., March 1, 2013 – The City of Burlington is looking for sponsors and a name for the new recreation facility in Alton, opening this fall. The new facility will support Burlington’s sports community and will be a destination for regional and provincial sports tournaments and events.

A sponsorship package for the naming rights to the facility and the amenities inside is now available to the community and businesses.

The Library Board now has the funding for the staff to work the new Library – now to buy the books, train the staff and get ready for the Grand Opening.  Will there be a “get it all done at once” opening or will there be three different events?  What do you think – can those politicians turn down a chance to mug for the media?

To assist in the development of the naming and sponsorship program, the city worked with a consultant and conducted a national assessment of municipal naming rights practices. The research indicated that more than 60 per cent of 41 municipalities surveyed were actively involved in seeking naming rights sponsors.

“Like many other cities across Canada, the City of Burlington is looking at sponsorship as a viable way of reducing a potential burden on the tax base by generating new funds to help with the future repair and renewal of facilities,” said Rob Axiak, manager of recreation services.

The concept of sponsorship and naming rights is not new to the city.

“We have several city facilities that carry the names of community sponsors such as the Dofasco Waterjet at the Waterfront, Paletta Mansion and various rooms inside Tansley Woods Community Centre to name a few,” said Axiak.

The new recreation facility in Alton includes 53,886 square feet (5,006 square metres) of space and is connected to a new high school and public library branch. The high school and library will be pursuing naming options separately.

All it needs now is some landscaping and a name that someone with a ton of money and a hankering to have their name in lights and the place will be ready for the public. This fall is the planned opening date.

Background:  Located on the north side of Dundas Street, east of Walker’s Line beside Norton Community Park, the Alton facility is equipped with amenities to support basketball, volleyball, badminton and disabled sports tournaments and other sporting events.

The recreation facility boasts four 40-metre-high competitive-size gymnasiums, change rooms, two multi-purpose rooms, a meeting room and an indoor sports square designed for award ceremonies.  This unique facility is fully accessible for athletes and spectators with disabilities and is the only facility with eight competition-sized double gyms west of Toronto in the Greater Toronto Area.

The high school, with a classroom capacity for 1,200 students, is equipped with four 38 metre-high, competitive-sized gymnasiums, a 200-seat auditorium, art rooms, an illuminated artificial sports field and an eight-lane running track.

The Burlington Public Library branch will combine with the school board’s library to create a joint, integrated library that serves both students and the community. The library’s design provides for multi-generational use and includes flexible space that will take full advantage of new and emerging information technology.

Now that the Library Board has their funding for staff – can you imagine – there were people thinking that the library didn’t need new money to pay for the seven new people needed for the new facility – maybe it could sponsor a search for a new name and then work with the community to find a sponsor.

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Friends of Freeman station get an adjustment – they would like you to tie one on as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  The Committee of Adjustment approved several variances for the Ashland property on Fairview Street next to the central fire station, which will allow Friends of Freeman Station to move the historic station there this spring.

The variances were to allow: a one-storey building on a property zoned for a minimum of two storeys; a larger setback from the street; a smaller floor ratio; six parking spaces rather than one per four person capacity; no landscaping abutting the street; and parking access via the fire station entrance.

Peter Thoem, a former Ward 2 council member and now in what defeated council members call heaven – Committee of Adjustment to the rest of us, was heard to have said “there is a lot of my blood in that station” as he voted to approve the small adjustments the FoFS were seeking.

The decision clears the way for Friends of Freeman Station (FOFS) to apply for a building permit.  In the meantime plans are underway to stabilize the station at its current location prior to a spring move. Architectural and engineering drawings are almost completed and will be submitted to the City for approval before work begins.

Part of the crew that got the Freeman Station to the point where they can now apply for their building permit and then move the structure to what will be its new home for the next half-dozen years or so. John Mellow, shown here talking to the Mayor.  On the far right Reg Cooke.  In between is Ron Steiginga , the man at city hall who stick handled all the paper work between the city and a multinational corporation located in Burlington that owns the land.

“We’ve been successful in getting the approval for the variances in large part thanks to the many hours volunteered by Mr. Tony Millington of Millington Associates, planning consultant,” said James Smith, FOFS President. “Without Tony’s participation we would still be wading through the approval process. Many other volunteers have helped manoeuvre our process through the hoops, notably Vice President Brian Aasgaard and Restoration Chair John Mellow. We are also grateful to all the City staff who guided us through the process. This brings moving and restoring Freeman Station that much closer to reality, ” said Smith

This certificate will show that you helped move the Freeman Station – six feet at a time – to its new location.

Community members who would like to contribute to the move can now have an opportunity to take part in a unique way.  For the princely sum of $20 you can help move the station 6 inches?  Why six inches?  That is the distance between two railway ties.

Annual memberships are available for $10 and include a souvenir train ticket membership card. Those who have purchased a membership in the past are encouraged to renew for 2013 – this year will be a big year for the station!

Cheques can be mailed to The Friends of Freeman Station, 3023 New Street, P.O. Box 91536, Roseland Plaza, Burlington, ON, L7R 4L6

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Questions raised over how Mayor funds events; council needs to provide him with some clarification.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  Mayor Goldring has done something Burlington hasn’t seen for some time and that is the Inspire Series he has sponsored for the past two years.

This city has had an opportunity to listen to nationally respected speakers who have talked to residents about health issues (Andre Picard) and what hospitals of the future will need to do; planning (Ken Greenberg) and how developers can work with communities to plan the kind of growth everyone wants.

The most recent speaker, Pamela Blais filled the Studio Theatre at the Performing Arts Centre last night.  These events were part of the platform the Mayor got himself elected on and he has certainly delivered.

Focused and direct is probably the best description one could apply to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Then some questions were raised by other council members as to how all this was being paid for.  It’s not quite sure where this issue was raised, it certainly didn’t come up at a council committee meeting.  It was done behind closed doors somewhere.  We do know that it was raised by Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Burlington’s Mayor thinks through what he does and chooses to err on the side of caution. Polite and as straight as they come – he will seek direction when he feels he needs it. On his sponsorship he needs and should expect some comment from his council members.

The Mayor, quite correctly, decided to get in front of this parade, and tell the public how the events were paid for,  He produced an exceptionally detailed report setting out his “level of participation, the funds raised and their intended purpose.” This is exactly what a public official is supposed to do.

Here is part of what he released in the way of information and data.

The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC ) has developed a number of events as part of their program to generate net revenue that is used exclusively by BEDC to cover the costs of their operating and marketing activities as well as provide networking, educational and industry resources to the business community. These activities align with the Strategic Plan direction of Prosperity.

Included are a four – part luncheon series and a golf tournament. These latter two events have been operating for several years, with the use of the title “Mayor” in the description of the events, and have had participation from the two past mayors  as well as myself.

The summary of revenue and expenses for the noted activities are shown below, along with a summary of the use of funds. The 2011 figures are taken from BEDC’s audited financial statements that are submitted to the City each year.

The 2012 figures are based on their preliminary year-end statements that will be audited in March 2013

BEDC Luncheon Series (Four events annually)

In additional to operating and marketing activities, funds were used for the “Cost of Doing Business Downtown Study” , Waterdown – Plains Development Concept .-2012

2012 Revenue Raised: $74,630

2012 Activity Costs:$39,372

Net revenue: $35,258

 In additional to operating and marketing activities, funds were used for redesigning the


 2011 Revenue Raised: $107,350

2011 Activity Costs:$57,958

Net revenue: $49,392

 BEDC Golf Tournament The Mayor’s Annual Golf Classic was initiated by a former Mayor in 2005 to support funding for BEDC’s economic development programs and scholarship funds.

These scholarships are presented in partnership with the Burlington Community Foundation, McMaster University, Mohawk College, The Centre for Skills Development & Training and CIBC, to Burlington post – secondary students for academic excellence and to assist with continuing their academic studies.

For both 2011 and 2012, eleven students received scholarships.

2011 Revenue $103,455

2011 Activity Expense $47,093

2011 Net Revenue $ 56,361

 2012 Revenue Raised: $102,030

2012 Activity Costs: $42,081

2012 Net revenue: $59,949

The Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) Masquerade Ball

Purpose: This fundraising event, formally known as The Mayor’s Gala, is used to raise money for BCF operations and special projects.  The BCF Board of Directors assumed total responsibility for this fundraising gala in 2010 and ran the first Masquerade Ball in October 2010 with no input from the Mayor at the time.

The sponsorship funds raised were sought by a sponsorship sub-committee at the Burlington Community Foundation. In 2011 and 2012, I supported the events as the Honourary Chair, signing sponsorship request letters and providing minimal sponsorship assistance through phone calls.

A portion of the net proceeds were allocated as follows:-

2011: $25,000 to assist in the launch of a graduate internship program which became innovateBurlington, facilitated through the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.

2012: $25,000 to create an opportunity fund administered by the Burlington Community Foundation to support graduating secondary school students in their career – focused endeavours, providing successful applicants with opportunities that otherwise may not be made available to them. The fund has an initial focus on youth from lower income backgrounds who may be receiving social assistance and/or living in subsidized housing.

The Mayor’s Inspire Burlington Speakers Series

Purpose: Provide opportunities for Burlington residents to attend, free of charge, educational speaking engagements that feature guest speakers presenting on a variety of subjects that are of interest and relevant to residents and to the City’s Strategic Plan directions: Vibrant Neighbourhoods, Prosperity and Excellence in Governance.

Funding: Corporate sponsorship has been sought to cover the costs associated with running these events: speakers’ fees , transportation and travel, venue rentals, AV requirements.  Additional in-kind sponsorship is provided by local media for advertising and promotion of events; estimated at $7,500 per year.

All events are cost-recovery and no revenue income is generated. Any net loss is covered through the Mayor’s discretionary budget for Special Projects.  These are not charitable events. Thank yous and corporate logo recognition is provided to the sponsors and no charitable receipts were issued.

One Dream Workshop

Purpose: To bring a group of community leaders together that represent a broad spectrum of the community with the goal of defining an over-arching dream for the community that aligns with the existing Strategic Plan – Burlington Our Future. An outside consultant was engaged to facilitate this workshop which was held at the Royal Botanical Gardens over a three – day period in November 2012.

Sponsorship funds were raised to cover the costs of the facilitator, venue and workshop expenses.

Funds were provided by 11 local corporations.  These sponsors will be acknowledged as supporters of the Inspire Burlington Speakers Series for 2013.

Any net loss is covered through the Mayor’s discretionary budget for Special Projects.  These are not charitable events. Thank you letters and corporate logo recognition is provided with Inspire Burlington to the sponsors and no charitable receipts were issued.

Inspire Burlington One Dream Workshop

Venue rental: RBG $5,169.01

Consultants’ Fees: The Secretan Centre* $50,880.00

Consultants travel expenses $555.73

Workshop materials $61.06

Pre-meeting with facilitator $280.81

Post-meeting with participants $660.58

Total $57,607.19

Editors note: $5000 to use RBG facilities sounds a little steep.


Burlington Electricity Services Inc. $2,500.00; Union Gas $5,000.00; Pioneer Petroleum $5,000; Molinaro Group $5,000; Emshih Developments; $5,000; Brady Benefits, $5,000; SB Partners, $5,000; AXYZ Automation, $5,000; StressCrete, $5,000; KPMG, $5,000; L3 Wescam, $5,000 and  Cogeco, $5,000 for a sponsorship total $57,5000

The loss on the event was $107.19

The problem in the mind of at least one council membership was the appropriateness of asking for sponsorship funds from a corporation that is owned by the city – Burlington Electricity  Services.   Less problematic is the $5000 given by AXYZ Automation.  The president of that organization is the President of the Economic Development Corporation that is currently being reviewed by city council and asked to take a significantly different approach to the way they do business.

While Burlington is in love with how polite it is there are times when a strong point of view has to be put forward and that’s a little difficult to do when the guy you’re frowning at put up five big ones for your pet project.

What the Mayor did with his report to Council is exactly what he should have done.  It is now up to Council to have a debate on what a Mayor should do.  Burlington doesn’t want the mess Toronto has dealt with in the past three months.

While still a little wooden in his public performances the city’s Mayor preps himself and looks to his staff for support.  Is he getting what he needs?

Unfortunately your city Council voted to file and receive the Mayor’s report and you wouldn’t’ have heard a word about it had we not published the details.  Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward did comment on the Mayor’s report in her Newsletter.

This is an important issue.  Influence is sometimes more valuable than cash and the Mayor, by xx of his office, is in influential guy.

Rick Goldring never wants to tarnish that reputation.  Council needs to openly discuss his report and provide him with some guidance.

Councillor Craven put it very well when he said: “we don’t want a return to a period of time when a Mayor used his fund-raising ability to do so for purely political purposes.

Rick Goldring  sponsors the Inspire Series because he thinks it is good for the city.  If showing what kind of a Mayor you are is political – we say – bring on more of this kind of stuff.

This item will get all of two seconds at Council on March 19th – still time for someone to delegate and suggest this issue be given more air.

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Is there a “bigger picture” to the 2013 budget? What did council get done? They brought BPAC to heal.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  What does the budget Burlington’s city council, sitting in committee, tell us?

Well, it looks as if we are now in show business and that transit is getting a boost. Those are the immediate impacts.  Longer term we have at least done something to bring a new focus and hopefully some hustle to the economic development side of the way this city is going to grow.

The show business part of the spend the city did, relates to the amount of money being put into the Performing Arts Centre and the Burlington Art Centre.  Neither of these in themselves are going to produce any revenue – both will be a constant draw on the public purse.

What the city has to do is ensure that both are vibrant enough to draw the audiences they need and that the spin-off from each provides the economic activity that will result in a more robust downtown.

While that might seem obvious on the surface – it hasn’t been clear to the Performing Arts management team, who, knowing they were going hat in hand to city council weren’t able to get useful data into their hands until Monday morning of this week.  The Performing Arts Board made its pitch on the Tuesday – which gave council members and the public less than 48 hours to pour over the 16 pages of very useful data.

Transit Director Mike Spicer, in the yellow shirt, shows Mayor Goldring what he wants in the way of new buses. The Mayor and council obliged and gave Spicer the go ahead to buy smaller buses.

When Mike Spicer, Director of Transit appeared before a Community Development Committee on Wednesday evening to delegate on the acquisition of new buses he was asked if he could merge two documents and get them to council members for the budget meeting the next morning.  Spicer went home and started work, his key staff members went home and started work and advised General Manager Scott Stewart what they were doing and where they were going.

They all gathered early Thursday morning, went over their numbers and passed along the document council needed.  Dedicated professionals doing what they do well.  They have the confidence of senior management and council – and as a result they got their funding and then some.

It’s hard to fathom why it took so long for the PAC people to get their data into the hands of the people who have to pay the bills that the PAC racks up. Time for an attitude adjustment over there.

The data isn’t bad but some of the rationale in the report they produced sounded like a bunch of people feeling sorry for themselves and sounding like they felt they were being put upon.

The document starts with:

We have been required to deliver higher numbers:

Increase our revenues

Increase attendance

Increase opportunities for local NFP clients (NFP is not for profit)

This industry demands a high commitment and dedication of staff resources to operate a 6-7 days per week operation where days can start at 7:00 am and end after midnight.

Every word of that is true – except that the PAC operation hasn’t been anywhere near 6-7 days a week.  In 2012 they were operational 209 days.

The PAC management argued for and were given the funding to hire a sales associate.  It was put in place for two years.

While several council members didn’t really buy the argument that an additional technical person was needed they went along with that funding request as well.

In asking for the sales associates funding PAC management explained the sales associate would:
Engage the community to generate new business which will increase attendance  and revenues.

Develop and nurture relationships with new and existing rental partners

Promote group ticket sales

Implement initiatives by working directly with the community to break down barriers to access and make sure we’ve made them aware of our services and available opportunities.

BPAC Executive director Brenda Heatherington talks up her operation with a supporter.

There isn’t a person in this city who doesn’t know all about the Performing Arts Centre – the problem is with what they know – management over there hasn’t gotten it’s message out.  In a fondly remembered movie Paul Newman said to a sheriff who was standing there with a shot-gun in his hands as Newman called out:  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  That kind of sums up where things stand with the PAC and the city. They need a more effective spokesperson.

In their report they trotted out a couple of equations.  Try these on for size:

ROI = Gain from investment – Cost of Investment

Cost of investment.

They later put this one out:

ROI = ($368,675 – $275,813) + ($320,810 – $273,783) – $63,600 = $76,289 – 120%

   $63,600                                                $63,600

I suspect that both Councillors Dennison and Sharman sputtered a bit when they saw those equations.

What PAC management was trying to say was that projected revenue for 2013 is $368,675,  with ancillary revenue projected at $320,810

Actual revenue for 2012 was $275,813 and actual ancillary revenue came in at $273,783

Cost of the sales associate was set at $63,600.

PAC management seems to see a 120% return as acceptable.  All they are bringing in is 20% more than their cost.  There isn’t a sales manager in this city that would accept a sales representative bringing in just 20% more than the cost of hiring the person.

Councillor Taylor got it right when he said the funding approved in the budget was conditional on the review of a new business plan from the PAC – “and I don’t mean a 10 minute delegation” added Taylor.  This one is going to be a getting into the mud with management and cleaning this mess up.

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City tax rate for 2013 – $16.32 for every $100,000 of valuation. They kept the tax hike to 3.46% with the hospitasl levy of 1% on top of that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 28, 2013  “The impact per $100,000 CVA for an urban residential property is $16.32 with respect to the 4.46% city portion.”  Those were the words straight from the horse’s mouth – Director of Finance Joan Ford, who shepherded city council through a marathon city council committee meeting at which the budget was basically set.

It will go to a city council meeting and be cast in stone.  All kinds of detail to come but the basics are: Performing Art Centre got their money $225,000 to cover the short fall and money for two years for a technician (expect that to become full-time)  and money for a sales associate who is going to get behind and push to ramp up the sales numbers – especially on the rental side where the Centre fell very flat last year.

The Burlington Art Centre got the funding they needed to recast themselves and to figure out who they want to be, where they want to go and then how they will get there.  They didn’t get the chunk of change they needed to pay their staff what they felt they were worth.  That’s an ongoing problem they are going to have to deal with – and it might result in their losing some key people.

Finance department staffers excelled once again not only with the detail and the way they were able to grab numbers out of the air when questions were asked but with the way they presented the data so that council members could see the impact on the tax levy as they debated different sending requests.

Burlington Economic Development got the money they needed to come up with an organization that can attract new business to the city.  Burlington has reached residential build out – there ain’t no more land to put those housing projects on – unless we try to go north of Dundas- 407 and that is not going to happen.

So – find the analysts who can figure out what there is for us out there and then put a marketing genius in place who can do the work that has to be done to make Burlington a city that at least gets some serious attention.

Our Mayor can’t help himself when he says we are the greatest place in this province to live in but he has not managed to attract people to the city.  In some municipalities,  the Mayor is the #1 sales person and works the phones tirelessly to let people know why Burlington deserves a really close look.

That’s not the kind of Mayor we have – a Lee Iacocca he ain’t – so the city will have to find someone who can do the selling.

Transit got basically all it asked for – but you dear transit user are also getting what you didn’t ask for and that is a rate increase – 8% across the board with special situations we will set out for you later.

The fire department got an additional mechanic so that the fire trucks will be able to get out the door when the fire alarm is sounded.

The city manager has a pool of money that he dispenses to each department that is used as merit pay for staff that go above and beyond.  And many of them do.  The crew that pulled together the presentation of all the financial data, deserved no less than a double scotch or a bag of cookies – whichever they preferred, for their efforts today.

The ‘bean counters’ set up a computer that handled transactions and then fed the data into a second computer that projected the information on a large screen and also onto the monitors sitting in front of staff and council members.

Every time a decision was made to spend dollars the number would appear on the screen showing how much was spent and what that impact was on the tax bill.

It was a tough, tough day for Councillor John Taylor.  He sits on the board of the Burlington Art Centre and is passionate about the operation and the staff but he wasn’t able to get council to go along with an allocation that would allow Art Centre management to correct the significant imbalance between city hall staff and Art Centre staff salaries.

At around 2:30 pm it Councillor  Taylor who was chairing the meeting began to lose it.  He was deeply hurt when he realized the Art Centre staff were not going to get what he believed they deserved and that weighed on him.  He was tired and dis-spirited and suggested the meeting adjourn and come back to it tomorrow. His colleagues were not on for that and suggested he turn the chair over to Councillor Meed Ward and she ran the show for the balance of the meeting.

There were no delegations – this was council members dealing with the projects they wanted to see go forward.  Then Councillor Craven snuck one in and asked if the Director of Museums could plead for $7000 for a curator.  She got it – and Craven broke every rule in the Procedural Manual to pull that one off.

It was sort of like driving through a super market aisle and dropping items into your cart and seeing a screen with your total spend on it.  Throughout the day – the session went from 9:30 to 4:00 pm with a 25 minute lunch break – the number went up, then down, but mostly up.  As the budget session was near its end council members looked at the numbers and wondered where they could cut.  They had given out a lot of money, which they felt was needed and that old shave and pave spend kept coming back.  Councillor Dennison was merciless at getting every dollar he could grab.  He argued, again and again, that every dollar spent now was $3 saved down the road.

Council decided to take the $2.2 million in surplus from last year and put it in the tax rate stabilization fund and transfer funds to accounts to pay the bills out of that account.  The spending done amounted to $1,938,360 which when taken out of the $2.2 million surplus they had to play with – there wasn’t much to leave on the table.  Some would treat the difference as a rounding number.

In the closing minutes of the meeting Mayor Goldring wondered what the city was going to do for what he called “opportunity” money; those situations that come along and shouldn’t be passed on.

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Expect to see new, smaller – 25 passenger – buses in the streets of the city in the not too distant future.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. February 28, 2013  Transit is going to get a lot more attention in this year’s budget that it did last year when close to half a million dollars was sucked out of transit and put into upgrading roads.

Then a funny thing happened – city council and staff learned that the people of Burlington did care about transit – they had made it their number three concern in an Environics poll done for the city.

That was all it took for the bureaucrats to start looking at transit more seriously.

Having a new Director of Transit in place didn’t hurt either.  Mike Spicer took over from Donna Shepherd who retired at the end of last year and has gone on to retirement.

Every manager brings his or her own style to the job – Spicer is different.

The specifics on the budget will get debated at a daylong session Thursday.  At a session of the Community Services Committee Wednesday night we got a peek as to what the transit people are thinking – in a phrase – more buses and a fleet that will have more flexibility.

Burlingtonians can expect to see smaller 25 passenger busses cruising along city street if the excited talk coming out of the mouth of the Director of transit is to be believed.

While nothing is cast in stone – the gist of what is planned is the purchase of 12 – eight metre “cut-away” buses that will carry 25 passengers: 19 seated, six standing.

The information was in an Alternative Vehicle Acquisition that feeds into a larger report on transit that will be debated on Thursday.

The words fare increase are going to creep into the budget debates.

What was interesting was the approach council took as it met in committee.  They looked as if they were prepared to sign the purchase order on the spot before Councillor Taylor piped up and said: “the public hasn’t seen these buses and we haven’t done any trial runs or testing”.  Taylor wanted to see something in the way of community input, to which everyone nodded – ‘uhuh we want input from the public’.  Had Taylor not made a comment – my sense was that the public wasn’t going to have much in the way of input on this decision.  Meed Ward, the traditional champion of the people’s interests didn’t say a word.

The 8 metre, 25 passenger bus that looks like it is going to be cruising around the streets of the city sometime in 2014 can be seen in the photo.

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In the world of politics friends are not always friends and we sometimes choose to forget those we used to sleep with.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 27, 2013  A city hall staff report recently advised that the Pump House on Lakeshore Road might have a new tenant and a local paper reported on the news quoting Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven extensively.

The city is close to making a decision on who the operator of the pump house will be for a seasonal purpose – could be operational as early as June of this year – maybe before the pier.

What was interesting was that Councillor Craven did not once mention that the initiative to do something with the Pump House came out of the  now sunset Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPAC)  of which he was a member.

WAPAC had its problems and there has been considerable controversy over the decision to shut it down but it did make some useful decisions and put a couple of serious matters on the table.

From the left: Nick Leblovic, chair of WAPAC, Michael O’Sullivan, Ken Harris, Jeff Martin, Donna Ankrett and Gary Scobie.  The Pump House will get used by the public because of these people.

There are members of WAPAC who deserve a lot of credit for pushing and pushing hard to have WAPAC do something.  Their success in getting the Pump House recommendation to the point where it was ready to go to a council committee – taken there by Councillor Craven, deserves some recognition by Craven.

When the WAPAC people did their tour of the Pump House councillor Craven suggested it might serve as an official residence for the Ward 1 Councillor.

It is a mistake to climb the heights on the shoulders of others without remembering who it was who helped you get there.

Jeff Martin, Ken Harris, Michael O’Sullivan, Les Armstrong, Gary Scobie and Donna Ankrett  deserve much of the credit for getting this issue to council.

It is unfair and inconsiderate for Councillor Craven to take all the credit in the newspaper interview.  He did mention that WAPAC was the group that got this to the Council table at a committee meeting this evening.   Hopefully Craven will now push for some serious action on the part of the city to move the Windows on the Lake file and resolve some of the issues that surround just where people can walk along the edge of the lake.  There are parts of the waterfront that are public property, supposedly accessible by any citizen, that is effectively blocked by private property owners who don’t want the public wandering anywhere near their lakefront land.

Time for the city to get on with this file – Councillor Craven might be just the person to do this.

Councillor Meed Ward who has her own rump group that is called Burlington Waterfront Committee has this item on their agenda.  Fat chance of her and Councillor Craven working together on this one.

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Two days after Family Day a Mother and son team arrested following a break-in to a Cavendish Drive home.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 28, 2013  During the middle of last week, before the noon hour a break and enter occurred to a home on Cavendish Drive in Burlington.

The front door to the home was physically forced open and the individual responsible removed numerous items of jewellery from within.

A timely response and police investigation resulted in the arrest of two persons at a nearby Burlington residence and the recovery of the stolen items.

Further investigative efforts, including the execution of a search warrant at a Burlington motel led to the discovery of additional stolen items from other break-ins and locker thefts in the Burlington area.

While police have located owners for some of the seized stolen property, they are requesting persons who may have had items stolen in the preceding four months to contact Detective Donna Whittaker at 905 825-4747 x2312.

ACCUSED:  Vezio CARDULLO, 31 of Burlington charged with:  Break, Enter and Theft (three counts), Breach of Probation (five counts), Breach of Recognizance (five counts), Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Break-in Instruments and Theft under $5000.

ACCUSED:  Christine SMERDON, 57 of Burlington charged with  Break, Enter and Theft.

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Inspire the audience please – but don’t talk the Mayor into a new dream; he’s still working out the last one.


We erroneously reported that the $50,000 cost of the Mayor’s One Dream event was paid for bu Emshih Developments.  The event was paid for by 12 organizations of which one was Emshih Developments whp donated $5000.  The Molinaro Group, another developer with projects before the city also donated $5000.

Our apologies to the Mayor for the mistake we made.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 27, 2013  We are back into Inspire mode with the Mayor announcing there will be a series of speakers during 2013.

This next speaker Dr. Pamela Blais to speak to us about  Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl.

Blais  is a city planner and principal of Toronto-based Metropole Consultants. Her professional focus is in creating better cities by integrating planning, economic and environmental thinking in the analysis of urban issues, urban design and the development of innovative policy.  She is particularly interested in understanding key forces that drive urban development patterns, and how to shape urban form so as to maximize its ability to effectively meet current and future trends.  Her approach to urban development issues aims to be strategic and integrated.

Will we hear some really good ideas from Pamela Blais at the Mayor’s Inspire event?  In the past a number of his council members have been notably absent from these events.

In her twenty year career as an urban planning consultant, her work has included reurbanisation strategies and research; long-term regional growth planning; municipal economic development strategies; innovative land use policies for industrial areas; urban regeneration strategies; sustainable urban form, community design and infrastructure; and research on the impact of technology on urban form.

Blais has a Master of Science degree in Planning from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in urban economic geography from the London School of Economics.  She is a Registered Professional Planner, and a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Those are pretty good credentials.  Blais will be the eighth speaker in what is a very impressive series – the mayor is to be congratulated on this initiative.  By sponsoring these events he has upped the quality of debate and discussion in this city – something that was badly needed.

There is a concern however.  When the Mayor Goldring brought in Lance Secretan that encounter resulted in what was at first called a Defining the Dream initiative that then got renamed to: One Dream – which appears to have died – at last we’ve not heard anything since the Mayor announced he would be getting back to the community late in January.

The initiative appears to have died after some $50,000 was spent pulling together some 30 people who weren’t able to get past square one.

All that full day event saw was our MPP, Jane McKenna going after the editor of the Burlington Post for the way she handled news items.  Had former Mayor Walter Mulkewich not been in the room and managed to get a grip on the way things were going the meeting might well have melted down.

The Mayor put out a bit of a report and said there would be more in January – so far not a word.  We now learn that more than $57, 500 was spent on this event – with a portion of that amount coming from two developers ($5,000 each) with major interests in the city.  Not a healthy place for any politician to be – especially the mayor, who by the way had not publicly announced where the funding came from.

Hopefully we will hear a solid presentation on some of the follies that get attached to development charges and approaches municipalities take to taxing their residents.  Hopefully Blais will inspire the audience and get the Mayor and his council thinking about new approaches to how we manage the growth of a city that is at a crucial point in its growth.  Please – no more cock-a-mammy ideas Your Worship.


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Burlington’s leading “bon vivant” to lead the Masquerade Ball to the sound of New Orleans jazz.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 27, 2013.  The social side of this city seems to go through cycles – last year it was the Torsney ‘s with Brian Torsney deep into the Hospital Foundation fund-raising events to raise the $60 million they were tasked to come up with while his sister, a former Burlington Member of Parliament, Paddy Torsney headed up the United Way drive.

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquale (Pat) Paletta

This year it looks as if the Paletta`s are going to take up the headlines in the social sector.  Pat Paletta got himself nominated as the Entrepreneur of the year – that event will take place on June 6, 2013, and now son Angelo has been appointed as the honorary chair of the Masquerade Ball – the lead fund-raising event for the (BCF) Burlington Community Foundation.  The Ball will take place October 26th at the Burlington Convention Centre.  Tickets began to get scarce last year – so slip over to their website and book your appointment with the hair dresser.

Angelo, according to the Foundation, has played a number of key philanthropic and community support roles in Burlington.  Besides being the honourary chair the family corporation has joined BCF as its first Proud Supporter of our Vital Signs report, a community check-up we will share with Burlington residents on October 1st.

Last year the BCF published their first ever Vital Signs report, which, while not quite what many in the social development sector had hoped for, it was their first effort.  Everyone is looking for something quite a bit deeper and more relevant to the community this year.  Their report is announced for release on October 1st.

Colleen Mulholland, Executive Director, Burlington Community Foundation is as pleased as punch that Angelo is “sharing his time and leadership with us, in support of our largest fundraising event.”

Jazz – New Orleans style at the Burlington Community Foundation Masquerade Ball.

In their media release the BCF announces they will continue with the alluring feel of a masked gala, featuring the swinging streets of the French Quarter. “I am honoured to have been asked to be the gala’s honourary chair this year,” says Angelo,  who will dance up a storm.  “ I love the excitement of New Orleans, jazz and Bourbon Street, and my family and I have always had a terrific time at the Masquerade Ball. I hope the community will join us in this great celebration.”

In 2007, Angelo was formally installed as a Knight of Malta under the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, a religious order founded by Pope Pascal II in 1113. Devoted for 900 years to caring for the sick and the poor for more than 900 years, today this philanthropic Order operates accredited diplomatic and humanitarian missions in more than 100 countries.

Closer to home, Angelo is also the current Chair of the Board of Directors for the Carpenter Hospice.

The Paletta’s are also in an early stage ‘kiss and make up’ with the city.  There are a number of issues related to the development of land owned by the Paletta’s that some feel are hindering the economic development of Burlington.  As the largest holder of what the city has classified as “economic development lands” the city wants to be able to see those properties marketed and developed to bring some much-needed development to the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional part of the city tax assessment base.

City manager Jeff Fielding has brought a much different approach to developing relationships with the major stakeholders in the city.  Can one imagine a time when the city and the Paletta’s done trot off to Ontario Municipal Board hearings?

Part of this process is a significant shake up in the way the Economic Development Corporation manages the growth of the city.  In the past much of their focus has been on raising funds to keep the operation alive.  Fielding thinks that isn’t the smartest business model if Burlington is to prosper and has asked the BEDC to come back with a better business case.  That case has been presented to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee where it didn’t seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm on the part of either council members or staff.  Expect to hear more on this one.

Paletta International is a Canadian owned and family managed company, started by Pasquale Paletta (Burlington’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year) in 1951.  With its humble beginnings in beef processing, the company grew through vertical integration into raising cattle with feedlots in Burlington, Alberta and Colorado. The company also is involved in real estate, construction, media and entertainment. The company is managed by Pasquale’s four sons: Angelo, Paul, Michael, and Remi Paletta, from its Paletta Court facility in Burlington.

The BCF was established in 1999 by a group of local volunteers and philanthropists to improve the quality of life in Burlington.  The Foundation collaborates with donors to build endowments, gives grants and connects community leadership. For Masquerade Ball tables, tickets or information on becoming a Proud Supporter, contact Sandra Baker,, 905 639 0744 x 223

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Performing Arts Centre board appears on stage; no kudos, no applause but a lot of questions.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 26, 2013  This time the Board members showed up.  This time they did the talking and didn’t leave their Executive Director to carry the flag by herself.  This time the two Board members said they are a start-up and that many of the numbers they used in their original rosy projections were short of the mark.  This time they apologized – well sort of.  This time they said they would talk to council members and do a business review well before budgets were being considered.   And this time they said that if the projections they had on the table today didn’t come true – they probably wouldn’t be the people appearing before the council next time around.

Keeping the lights on – and putting bums in the seats.

It was a healthy and very welcome change by a Board that has been high-handed and close to insolent to a council that very much wants them to succeed.

Today was budget delegation day and most, if not all of the Boards that are funded by the city, appeared before the Budget and gave it their best shot.  Some, the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC)  were there arguing for a stay of execution while the Library Board argued for the funding needed to pay for the staff needed to operate the new library in the Alton Village.

We will cover those budget requests in separate articles.

Richard Burgess, current vice chair of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre board explained why the Centre needs significant funding for at least the next three years.

Rick Burgess,  a former city mayoralty candidate, he was beaten out by Cam Jackson in 2006, a lawyer by profession and currently the vice chair of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre incoming chair of the organization along with Peter Ashmore, treasurer with many years of experience in the management of assets and the development of new enterprises.

It was difficult to get a handle on exactly what the Performing Arts Centre wanted in terms of real cash.  Councillor Taylor, who was chairing this meeting of the Budget and Corporate Services committee, complained about data being given to him the day before the delegation was to appear.  The real numbers will come out during the debate that will take place on Thursday.

It was clear that rentals was the biggest problem – the team just wasn’t able to rent out as much space as they had planned.  And, their original rosy projections, based on a consultant’s report turned out to be weak.

The Board directed management to cut back and that meant events that might have been put on were not put on which weakened the revenue stream.

It is now evident that there was a bit of panic going on as the Board struggled to get a handle on how it could support management – but all this was behind the scenes.

What was evident, clearly evident, was a council that did not want this venture to fail but found itself with not nearly enough information and basically out of the loop while the Board went its own way.

To say Burgess and Ashmore were somewhat contrite but fully aware that a newer more collaborative relationship was needed would be a stretch.  Just what they took away from the meeting is not clear – but know this – things are different.

Most disturbing is that Mayor Goldring and Councillor Craven sit on that Board and should have been fully aware of the problems and how severe they were.  The rental situation is one that they had to be aware of – does management not give the Board a report every month on how many events took place and how many seats were sold?  If they aren’t doing this – then this city has a major problem on its hands with the Performing Arts centre.

If the information was made available to the Board and the two city representatives did not convey this to their council colleagues – well that`s a pot with a lot of flame underneath it that is going to boil over at some point.

Councillor Dennison, who always brings his business acumen to budgets wanted to see the people on the marketing side given base salaries and then bonused for the added business they bring in.  Ashmore didn’t think they could pull this off with the staff in place now; truth be told, he didn’t appear to have any appetite for taking aggressive steps.

Some wondered if raising the ticket price would do the trick.  Burgess explained two fundamentals which council members did not appear to appreciate.  Upping the price of tickets for commercial events will increase revenue but it will also reduce the number of people who attend.

What isn’t as clear as it could and should be is this.  Does the city have a situation where they are dealing with what Peter Ashmore called a start-up that is having its teething problems or are there some fundamental problems with the business plan.

I suspect Ashmore isn’t certain as to just what it is yet and if the treasurer doesn`t know – then the Board members are a little adrift.  That`s not to suggest Ashmore isn’t competent; this is his fourth year counting the beans.  Entertainment is a different business; it is more art than science and they are still learning the ropes.

Councillor Craven explains that the Board has leaned some lessons and that management has also learned some lessons – which is good – but they are doing all this learning on the public’s dime and the fear is that they may fail and Burlington will be in the same mess Hamilton is with their facility.

There are solid, competent people on staff who have yet to get a solid understanding of the city and what it thinks it wants in terms of culture.   The city has an executive director, Brenda Heatherington,  in place who brings loads of experience on growing and nurturing the appetite for culture.  What she may not yet have is a solid understanding of the market she is catering to – the public letters between the city hall reporter from the Post and Executive Editor Brenda Heatherington’s response made that clear.

This story isn’t over – council will have a very focused debate on this later in the week.  What the city does not want to find itself having to handle is a facility that many in the city didn’t want that now requires a million dollar annual intravenous line to keep it alive.

If that happens Burgess was very right – it will not be him serving as chair for very long.

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All recreation facilities will be closed Wednesday morning; city will decide what else is closed early Wednesday.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 27, 2013 City hall prepares for what we all hope is the last storm of the winter and announces that it will close all recreation facilities for public use the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27. City Hall will be open during regular business hours, 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Angela Coughlan, Aldershot and Centennial pools will be open for school programming if the school boards remain open.

City hall is expected to be open.

The city will provide an update on what’s open and closed on Wednesday morning.”

Environment Canada has issued a Winter Storm Warning for much of southern Ontario, including Burlington. Northern Burlington is expected to receive up to 25 centimetres of snow, while accumulations along the lakeshore will be a mix of 15 centimetres of snow and 10 millimetres of rain.

The snow will begin later this evening, with the heaviest accumulation predicted before Wednesday morning’s commute. Travel conditions will be very poor overnight and into the morning rush hour.

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A Frank Myers photo essay: Glimpses of the past; quiet places that are empty, broken and abandoned.

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 23, 2013  Artists use their paint brushes to present their interpretation of a person or a scene.  There are traditionalists, modernists, post modernists and some artists whose work look as much like a photograph at it does a painting.

Where is the line between photography and art?  There are photographers who have found ways to use light, filters and the angle they shoot from to “interpret a scene much the way an artist uses brush strokes and colour to interpret what their eyes capture.

The differences between art and photography are vast and the similarities at times almost eerie.  In the photo essay that follow Frank Myers, captures glimpses of the past

By Frank Myers.

Since my earliest days as a photographer, I’ve been fascinated by the exploration of forgotten places. There is a certain resonance there – a palpable sense of lives lived and the passage of time. There is more to it though; I also see much beauty in the old and decrepit and this combination is what makes abandoned places irresistible to me.

The passage of time also interests me. One useful aspect of photography is its ability to interrupt that process by capturing a moment in time. Although the rate of decay differs from one site to the next, it’s interesting to me that I’m capturing a unique moment in this process.

And it is a process; I have been able to return to some of these sites over the years and observed how, in many cases, nature reclaims the space once occupied by mankind.

These remnants of the past are crumbling and disappearing daily. I believe it’s a worthy pursuit  to interrupt that process and capture some of the resonance and beauty they contain through photography.

Frank Myers is a member of the Latow Photographers Guild. The photographs in this essay are the property of Frank Myers and cannot be used without his express permission.  Myers can be reached  You can see more of Frank’s work at


In Northern Ontario, many mining towns are threatened once the ore runs out. This abandoned gas station is located in a town that has been deserted since the late 1960s. Aside from a few homes salvaged as cottages, this town has mostly been reclaimed by nature.

This image is from the cemetery at a silver mining village near Thunder Bay. The mine operated on a tiny island in Lake Superior for only 16 years, closing in 1884 when it was irretrievably flooded. Now lost in the woods, the cemetery holds many graves, perhaps a testament to the dangerous working conditions and harsh life on the shore of Lake Superior.

Farmland is abandoned or given over to other uses every day in Canada. Much of what passes for farmland in Canada is marginal, but that hasn’t stopped enterprising souls from attempting to farm the land in many rugged areas. All over Canada, derelict farm houses hold the stories of those hard-working families.This farm house near Blind River is covered with graffiti and the upper floor is collapsing. To me, it still remains beautiful and it’s easy to imagine the family living within its rooms or relaxing on the verandah in the evenings.

This house on the outskirts of Burlington has been abandoned for years. Although heavily vandalized and near collapse, it contains many signs of the lives lived within its walls. Notice the jars that appear to hold dried beans or peas on the kitchen counter.

I often take time while travelling to search out abandoned spaces that I’ve learned about on-line or from other photographers. This is a cell block at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. When it opened in 1829, its architecture was revolutionary, as was the theory that strict isolation was the key to reform. This soon became a model for prison design. It finally closed in 1971 and is now operated as a historic site.

Unlike the penitentiary, few derelict institutional and industrial spaces are public. For that reason, this one will be unnamed. It’s an abandoned railway freight terminal somewhere in the United States. Inside, one can easily feel reminders of the years when untold tons of freight were handled by several generations of workers.

Across Canada, particularly along the Trans-Canada Highway, we pass many remnants of a vanished way of life. These are the derelict gas stations, motels and restaurants where often-independent operators made their living serving the travelling public. Situated on Highway 69 north of Parry Sound, this must have once been a busy operation, with its gas pumps, service bays and restaurant.

At one time motels like this one, a motel and campground operation, were popular with travellers. Although they were rustic by current standards, their remains show a variety and individuality missing in today’s operations.






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Does ones name matter when the police are investigating a traffic matter that results in the death of an 89 year old pedestrian?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 23, 2013.   The work police have to do can at times get a little sticky.  People don’t like their names reported when the reason for the report is not one you will be putting on your resume.

Police try to ensure that victims of criminal acts are not further victimized by having their names in a publication.

Intersection of Guelph and Sinclair in Georgetown, scene of a fatal accident where driver was charged with using a hand-held communications device; a cell phone. The vehicle in this photograph was NOT the vehicle involved in the fatality.

Thus, when a very serious accident took place in Georgetown, police said in the media release that they would not be naming the victim nor would they be releasing the name of the person responsible for the accident.

The first media release went like this:

Georgetown Senior Struck by Car – Critical Condition

Halton Regional Police are investigating a serious pedestrian/car collision that occurred in Georgetown on Monday afternoon.

Shortly after the noon hour the senior, an 89 yr old Georgetown woman, was crossing Guelph Street at Sinclair Avenue when she was struck by a 2005 Ford Focus.  The impact threw the senior several metres.

After being assessed by Halton EMS at the scene, it was decided that the woman be taken directly to Sunnybrook Trauma Centre in Toronto.  She remains there in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.  The driver of the car, a 36-year-old Georgetown woman, was not injured; she was taken to 11 Division where she provided a statement.

Due to the seriousness of the injuries, the Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) attended and took carriage of the investigation.  Reconstructionists from the CRU and a Forensic Identification officer collected evidence, photographed and measured the scene.

Police will not be releasing the names of the pedestrian or driver.

Due to the infancy of the investigation, police will not make comment on any charges at this time.  Some witnesses have come forward however investigators from the CRU ask any further witnesses to contact them at ext.5189.

A day later the police issued a second media release. :

Second media release:

Georgetown Senior Dies of Injuries

A Georgetown senior who was struck by a vehicle on Monday afternoon has died of her injuries.

Patricia McCarthy, 89 yrs of Georgetown, was pronounced at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.  Her son and daughter were with her at that time.

The Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) of Halton Regional Police are continuing the investigation into this incident.  The Toronto Coroner’s Office has assumed this case and is being assisted in their enquiries by the Halton CRU.  A post-mortem has been scheduled for later this morning in Toronto.

We will not be making comment on charges at this time, however alcohol has been ruled out as a causation factor.

The driver of the car, a 36yr old Georgetown woman, has been cooperative with investigators.  Police will not be releasing her name.

Any witnesses to this collision are still asked to call the CRU at ext. 5065.

This is the 11th traffic fatality to be investigated by the CRU in 2012 and the 7th involving a pedestrian.

On February 22, 2013 the police issued a third media release:

Georgetown Woman Charged in Pedestrian Fatality

After completing an investigation into the December 17th, 2012 collision that caused the death of Patricia McCARTHY, 89 years of age, the Collision Reconstruction Unit has charged a 37year old Georgetown woman with two offences under the Highway Traffic Act.

Jennifer Unsworth has been charged with one count under section 130: Careless Driving and one count under section 78.1(1) : Drive with Hand-held Communications Device.

She has been issued with a Part III Provincial Offences Act Summons to appear in Milton Provincial Offences Court on Monday March 25th, 2013 to answer to the charges.

Did the surname of the person driving a car while using a cell phone have anything to do with the way this case has been handled?

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Me, the Mayor and the media; a relationship that is stronger because of the almost daily stress.

By Pepper Parr, Publisher, Our Burlington.

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 21, 2013  We were accepted as full members of the Ontario Press Council last fall.

The Press Council serves at the body that listens to the public when they feel media have been unfair.  Anyone can take a complaint or a concern to the Press Council.  The address is set out below.

Ontario Press Council, 890 Yonge St., Suite 200, Toronto M4W 3P4.  Telephone: (416) 340-1981

There is no cost to anyone going to the Press Council.

As member of the organization we are required to abide by their decisions and publish any decision they make.  Because we are an electronic publication any Ontario Press Council decision related to anything we have published remains on our web site for anyone to see.  The decisions of the press council are also on the Press Council web site.

Many people don’t understand the role of media in a society.  Communities with small local newspapers are often poorly served by those publications.  Burlington’s “information deficit” was brought to light in 2010 when the Shape Burlington report was published.

That document, written by former Mayor Walter Mulkewich and the late John Boich,  set out quite clearly what the problem was and where the responsibility for the information deficit lay.

One of the Shape recommendations was to create a Community Engagement Charter and the city is in the last phase of finalizing that document and deciding what it wants to do with the numerous recommendations that have been set out in draft versions of the Engagement Charter.

Another recommendation was for the city to fund some form of media that would help reduce the “information deficit”.  The city should not be in the business of funding media, look at City Talk, the city’s quarterly magazine that is filled with puff pieces written by Council members or their staff.  Terrible waste of money.

John Boich convinced me to use my 30 years of publishing experience to produce some form of electronic media; that conversation resulted in Our Burlington that came out October 2010.

The relationship between the different organizations in the city and the media is usually a strained one.  People and organizations want nice things said about them.  Our job is to say nice things if there are nice things to say but we are also there to report and explain.  We have chosen a cheeky and irreverent style.  We are constantly amazed at how bland most of the statements that come out of city hall, the Region or the offices of the MP and the MPP are; self serving puff pieces for the most part.

Here is what the Mayor had to say about us last summer.

The two or three media people who cover city hall are there to observe and report.   Running a city is a complex business and its matters are complex.  Saying the tax rate is going to be increased is a statement of fact – but those facts have to be put in context.   One percent of the tax increase last year was to pay for the city’s portion of the hospital re-build.

Saying the pier is now on schedule does not mean we don’t also say that the thing is over the initial amount it was expected to cost by more than 200% – and then asking why this happened.  Getting a straight answer is easier said than done.

Asking why city council always goes into closed session when the city solicitor speaks about the law suits the city is involved in over the pier and continually asking how much has been spent on legal fees is part of what media does.

We also reported on the 58 Burlingtonians who were awarded Jubilee medals.

We see more of the council members and staff than most people and we arrive at conclusions.  There are some very good people doing fine jobs at city hall; there are others just putting in the time until the can leave on a pension.

There are some that are always helpful and others that snow you with a dozen documents or refer you to someone else when their job is to provide information and inform.

Our Burlington has had some major differences with some people; some of those differences get resolved, on others we just disagree.

City hall has 1000 people on the payroll and is run by a top tier team of three people – with five layers of management between the city manager and the entry level clerk.

There are more really smart, energetic enthusiastic people at city hall than there are slugs.  And more often than taxpayers realize, they give very good value.

Our relationships with the members of council are all different because they are different people with agendas of their own.   Their public image is basically a brand they use to get themselves  re-elected.  Re-election for a council member is like a promotion to other people; they work hard to get them.

The Mayor is, we believe, in place to show leadership.  While the Mayor has just one vote he  does have the opportunity to lead and to set the tone.  For those who don’t think the style of leadership and the tone of the city council is important,  look back to how quickly this city decided it didn’t want Cam Jackson as Mayor, even though he had served the city as its MPP for many years.  Adapting a Queen’s Park skill set to city hall was something Jackson was not able to do.  Voters saw that inability and chose someone else to be Mayor.

While we have been critical of Rick Goldring in the past, and will be critical of him again in the future because that is part of what media do – we will never forget the evening he basically said goodbye to John Boich a week before he passed away.  He treated John Boich with great dignity, deference and sympathy and in doing so reflected what this city is about.

We really liked the comments the Mayor made about Our Burlington a couple of months ago – note sure Goldring would say them today but they reflect the kind of man he is.


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Mohawk Gardens Public School broken into; kindergarten classroom completely ransacked.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. February 21, 2013  Shortly after 2:30 a.m. on February 18th, 2012, unknown suspect(s) broke into the Mohawk Gardens Public School at 5280 Spruce Ave.

Kindergarten classroom trashed when punks break in. When caught, and they will eventually get caught, a Judge might find a tougher school for them

The suspect(s) smashed a window to gain entry to a kindergarten classroom on the northeast side of the school. Once inside, suspect(s) completely ransacked the classroom by overturning desks, chairs and rummaging through the contents of the closets. The ceiling and fluorescent lights were also damaged.  The total damage and clean-up was estimated at $1,500.

Might these suspects show up at the next school reunion?

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS (8477), through the web at or by texting “TIP201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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