Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?

Sarah O’Hara is a Burlington mother of two who realized that her degree in modernist literature wasn’t going to lead to work that had meaning or a decent pay cheque attached to it, so she sat down with her husband and worked out a plan that had  her recalibrating her career choices and now rides the GO bus to York University  (“get my reading done on the bus”) where she will earn a teaching certificate and hopes to be in a Halton classroom, maybe as soon as next year.

Sara is not exactly a community activist, but she cared enough about her neighbourhood to be part of a group that has nine people delegating to a City Council committee to get the Drury Lane bridge repaired and operational.

 Sarah expressed an interest in writing for us and because the publisher of Our Burlington wasn’t about to enter Tansley Woods where a couple of hundred women were looking at Botox and new make up and getting financial advice at the Burlington Woman’s Show – he knows when the territory is not man  friendly – so he asked Sarah if she would cover the event.  Here is her report.

By Sarah O’Hara

BURLINGTON, ON February 26, 2012  Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?  The Burlington Women’s Show, of course!  This afternoon I joined hundreds of other women at Tansley Woods Community Centre to meet dozens of local vendors promoting their products and services.  Upon entering I received a stamp on my hand of a “Sex and the City” inspired martini glass which permitted me to enter a world exclusively geared toward women and the things we love.

Tony Racco of Cosimo's Salon- a Burlington institution that has been in the Roseland Plaza for more than 50 years provided coupons for a free wash, cut and style.. That made our reporters day.

The first booth I stopped at was hosted by Cosimo’s Salon which has called Roseland Plaza their home for fifty years.  To celebrate their anniversary the booth was giving each visitor a coupon for a free wash, cut and style – valued at $79.10.  Wow – a great start to my day!  Tony Racco, the owner, did demonstrations on the main stage with two models, one in her twenties and the other in her fifties.  As he curled, brushed and styled, he spoke about the many eras his salon has been through over the past fifty years from the bouffant styles of the sixties, to the sticky back combing of the eighties, to the softer curls that are in fashion now.  He seemed confident and knowledgeable as he turned the older model’s tight cap of curls into a soft cloud of shiny waves.  Seeing him in action made me look forward to visiting his salon.

In the same area I spoke with Ken Arp, owner of Smart Betty, an internet-based daily deal company.  As an avid wagjagger, I was eager to sign up for their emails, especially after finding out that for each purchase made 10% goes to a local charity of your choice, including the ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), the Burlington Humane Society, and Women’s Cancer Centres.

I followed this with a trip to the Booty Camp Fitness booth, where Sandy Cordeiro filled me in on the details of a Burlington-based women’s only boot camp.  This was only one of many fitness-oriented booths throughout the centre, such as golfing, karate, dance classes and yoga.  It was nice to be able to pick up their flyers amid the many chocolate and cupcake giveaways that were prevalent at the show.

Of course it wouldn’t be a women’s show without the latest in beauty and anti-aging products.  Slavica McIntyre, a certified Xtreme eyelash stylist, promises mascara-free beauty with her $150 eyelash implants available at I Love Lashes located in Queen B’s on New Street.  There were also demonstrations of Botox-free oxygenated facelift systems, and Carol Fysh, a face many would recognize from promoting products on the home shopping channel, was there with her new anti-aging line Red.

Upon entering one room I was approached by a woman named Terezia who asked me if I would like a free sample.  Thinking of the chocolate and toothpaste samples already abundant in my large purse, I happily agreed.  I was somewhat disappointed when she ushered me onto a high chair and swiftly removed my carefully-applied eye makeup from one eye with a wet sponge.  She gravely told me that I have inherited thin skin under my eyes and that only her Hollywood Eye Magic tuck serum could help me.  She coated my left eye with the thick yellow serum and told me within ten minutes I would see a change that I would not believe.  After advising me not to change my facial expression she informed me that I could buy the serum for $100.  I promised her I would think about it.  By now the skin under my eye was uncomfortably burning and tight, so I made my escape to the closest washroom to clean it off.

More costume jewellery than an average eye could take in was to be found at the Women in Burlington event at Tansley Woods.

By now I was quite hungry, so I followed the smell of fresh bread until I found the Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill table, where I was treated to delicious brushetta and a glass of Chardonnay.  Next to them was The Water Street Cooker where I munched happily on a turkey wrap while chatting with the cooks about the supposed haunting of the old building where Emma and her family succumbed to strange deaths before the Old Lakeshore Road home was turned into a restaurant.  This mystique, coupled with the delicious fare, makes the restaurant a popular Burlington destination.

The main event was the fashion show, hosted by City Line’s Lynn Spence.  The gym was packed with women (and the odd man) in a horseshoe formation around the t-shaped stage.  If one ignored the tucked-away basketball nets and fluorescent lights she could imagine she was watching the catwalk at a chic big-city show.  Spence hosted with confidence, knowledge and humour.  She showed clothes from Sears, J. Michael’s, Laura, Melanie Lynn, and other local (and affordable) stores.  Spence gave tips on what styles best suit body types, what colours are going to be trendy this season (coral and orange) and how to make an outfit diverse – for instance, pairing a wrap dress with skinny jeans or removing a belt to make a dress a tunic.  Her motto was “[this is] clothing you can understand – that makes sense.”  The audience was enthralled and enthusiastic, applauding and cheering after each model.  Cosimo’s provided all the hair and makeup.

The Women’s Show of course boasted the expected accessories.  Jewelry, makeup, purses, scarves and belts were available from high priced designers, such as Breanne Morrow of White Feather Designs who studied how to pound copper in Mexico, to more affordable fun accessories such as those from Vixin, where I bought a Tiffany and Co. style bracelet for $10.00.

There were also booths I never would have expected to find at a Women’s Show, such as Investors Group.  Mark Murray, the consultant I spoke with, told me they are geared toward family planning and lifestyle goals, and why shouldn’t these be things women think about?  While I wholeheartedly agree that this is something that is important to both genders, I was more drawn to booths that concentrated on fun, beauty and glamour.  This explains why I did not even stop at the Funeral Planning booth, and I didn’t see anyone else do so, either.

Nickelbrook craft brewery was there, and its host, Kevin, told me that craft beer is now making up 20% of the local selling beer.  Coffee Culture was also present, giving away steaming cups of coffee and delicious looking squares for donations.

Of course, health and wellness centres abounded.  Premier Homecare Services offers PSW services as well as companion services to post-surgical or elderly home owners; Dr. Derek Jasek of Headon Chriopractic Wellness Centre told me about the importance of devoting time to flexibility and posture to dramatically increase your quality of life; the Healthy Self Clinic specializes in thermographic imaging to detect and prevent breast cancers instead of the more traditional mammogram option.  I was, however, surprised to see a booth called Brainworx.  Its owner, Patrice Shennette, told me that our brains are deeply affected by trauma, both physical and emotional.  She is confident that her method of converting brain waves to musical tunes, and then adjusting this music to reflect that which our brains made at birth, is key in allowing ourselves to maintain confident, strong and healthy lifestyles.

Several hundred woman spent Sunday at Tansley Woods enjoying all kinds of free treats and more advice than they could possibly use. A chance to get out of the house without the kids.

Sears Mapleview also had a table for the first time.  Carol, the marketing coordinator, told me their new, young CEO, Calvin McDonald, is attempting to make Sears more visible in the community.  On April 17 they are hosting a cosmetic and fragrance gala.  Tickets are $10 and $2 from each goes toward “Look good, Feel better,” for people who are living with cancer.  Canyon Creek will cater the event.

I left the Women’s Show with a bag full of flyers and samples, and a head full of ideas of how to look good, feel good and dress well.  The women at the show all seemed to share a camaraderie, chatting easily to each other while inspecting different products, comparing finds and generally just happy to be in a facility where everything is geared toward the wants and needs of most women.  The Women’s Show is a great way for women to get out and find local businesses that cater toward our needs.  I look forward to next year!

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What kind of a Mayor did you want? What kind of Mayor do you have? What kind of constituents does the Mayor have?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 24, 2012  It was, and still is, a very good idea.  It needed more time and after realizing that the quality of the submissions weren’t quite what he had in mind when he announced the event; Mayor Rick Goldring scaled back his Mayor’s Cabaret and announced a new date.

The event is a good one – it represents the first foray for this Mayor into sponsoring an event that becomes his legacy for the city.   Everything the Mayor does is political and he is on duty 24×7.  He gets calls to do the darndest things and show up at the most unusual places.  They range from cutting a ribbon at a barbershop opening to taking part in the handover of a cheque to a community group.

Every Mayor has to determine what kind of Mayor he or she wants to be.  Goldring needed his first year to get a feel for the office and to figure out how city hall really worked and then to pull together the team he needed to do his job and then settle into a pattern of relationships with his fellow Council members.

Mayor Goldring gets asked to attend all kinds of retail store openings - and he tends to attend. He also gets asked to take part in cheque presentations and when it is for a community group that is helping the disadvantaged - the Mayor attends willingly and hangs around for a lot longer than most do for the run of the mill photo-opportunity. Here the Mayor takes part in the presentation of a cheque for the Camelot Community Centre.

Goldring has done that rather well.  But the being a public Mayor is still a work in progress.  Should a couple of guys who have opened up a muffler shop with the money they got back from beer bottles that were returned to the Beer Store have the Mayor on hand to cut the ribbon for their official opening?  I mean, who really cares?

Is the Mayor supposed to be at the beck and call of anyone that has his phone number?  This Mayor does want to hear from people and he is a good listener.  For every politician the next election starts the day after the ballots for the last one are counted.

The Mayor is the voice of the community.  Should there be a community emergency – he is the guy who goes into a Command Centre at City Hall with the Fire Chief and runs the show.

Hamilton’s Mayor goes to public events and wears the chair of office – Goldring has yet to do that; he’s not that much of a showman and tends to be more low key.  However, he does get challenged with when to say no to a request that he appear.  Say no to a potential voter?  Not easily.

Mayor Goldring on the left and Joanne Taylor on the right with a student at the Camelot Centre. Goldring spent close to half an hour talking to the students and having a piece of cake with them; it was more than a photo opportunity. The Chief Magistrate performing at a high public level.

What is the balance to being the Chief Magistrate and at the same time being a politician running for office?  What kind of a Mayor does Burlington want?  How does Mayor Goldring hear what the public wants in terms of what the Mayor does and shouldn’t do?  It is a tricky business trying to be all things to all people.

Early in his mandate Goldring found himself surprised and a little non-plussed when people approached him in the super market aisles and wanted to shake his hand.  He was at times taken aback when people thought it was a big deal for the Mayor to show up at an event.

It took him awhile to get used to the change in his status and there were times when he dropped the ball – literally at the tossing of the first ball at a Burlington Twins opening season game.

Being a politician means being in the public eye – all the time – which plays total havoc on personal and family life.  The seven people who serve as Council members are out almost every evening, every weekend and whenever someone has something that is important to them.

Most politicians certainly go for the photo opportunity.  Some members of your Council head for the television cameras like moths to a flame.  All that media attention tends to warp a personality and as a result you get the kind of civic leadership you want because you put them in office..

What do you want your Council member to do for you?  Listen to you of course, but what happens on those occasions when the Council members want to hear from you and you don’t show up?

The bulk of the Council members wanted public input from the community and five of the seven held events in their wards inviting people to attend a short workshop where they got a chance to talk about some of the specifics in the budget ad to talk about the trade-offs they would like to see.  City Hall staff went to considerable effort to make the events interesting.

But the turnout was – well it wasn’t great.  Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven didn’t hold a public event nor did Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.  Both directed their constituents to the event the city held.  Councillor Taylor put on an event.  No one showed up.  Councillor Dennison held an event and 14 people showed up.  Councillor Sharman held an event – five people showed up.  Councillor Lancaster held an event ran two advertisements in a newspaper and distributed flyers and not a single person showed up.

Councillor mentioned at his event that there was a time when 45+ people attended his budget information sessions.  What has changed?

The seven members of Council are both civic minded people who are in the business of serving the public and getting re-elected.  And if you don’t think losing an election hurts both emotionally and financially – you’ve not been paying attention.

The seven people who serve you decide how much of your money is going to be spent on taxes and you can’t refuse to pay or take your business somewhere else.

Former Prime Minister John Turner recently told a television interviewer that “democracy doesn’t just happen”.  He got that right.




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If you know how to raise your pinky finger and can fake a British accent – Barb Teatero wants to hear from you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 25, 2012 For those who are of a monarchist bent – there is an opportunity for you to be the “Queen” at  Ireland House on Mother’s Day.   The event is one of three Museums Burlington is putting on with funds they received to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Barb Teatero, Director of Museums for Museums of Burlington, made the application for the funding of a program that has three parts and was given a grant of $20,400 which allows the Museum to put on the events with no entrance fees.

Along with tea being served at Ireland House on Mother’s Day, with someone impersonating the Queen, there is going to be interactive activities for the student crowd during the March break as well as an exhibit that will tour the city with a probable stop at Tansley Woods and City Hall – the details are still being worked out.  Teatero just got the cheque on Friday and it hasn’t cleared the bank yet – so details aren’t cast in stone yet.

The Jubilee is a government program designed to focus on the 6o years that Queen Elizabeth has worn her crown.  That’s a big deal and the government is right to spend money on marking this occasion.  The current government has decided it wants to make the relationship between Canadians and the Monarchy a little tighter than previous governments.  Relationships with the Monarchy are quite specific for Burlington.  While the city had never had a “royal” visit, it has had a citizen who saw quite a bit of the Royal Family even if those visits were a couple of hundred years ago.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

In the 1700’s Joseph Brant, an aboriginal who spent a lot of time in Burlington and was given 3,500 acres of land at the “head of Lake Ontario” for his service to the King.  That land is basically what we know as Burlington.  Elizabeth and James Streets were named after two of Brant’s children.

Not much attention is paid to what Joseph Brant actually did – it’s quite an impressive list of feats and worth knowing more about.  Most Burlingtonians know that the hospital was named after the guy and that’s about it.

Given to Joseph Brant by King George III with the inscription: "A Gift from a friend to Captain Brant`.

Brant travelled to England on two occasions and met with King George III in 1775/6 and again in 1785/6.  The practice in those days was for gifts to be exchanged and George III gave Brant a gorget made of silver with the inscription: “A gift from a friend to Captain Brant”.  A gorget is a piece of equipment that is worn around the throat by warriors. The item is the most important piece in the Brant Museum and is something borrowed by other museums around the world.  It is a priceless piece of history.


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Orchids on the move? Was the “lesson learned” turned into an advantage that might satisfy everyone?

By Pepper Parr


February 24, 2012  It is always very unwise to let politicians anywhere near the selection of public art.

Burlington made a wise decision a number of years ago when they selected the Imperial Cotton Centre for the  Arts as their third party public art advisers.

The placing of public art in the city has raised a lot of negative comment. Most people don't understand why the sculpture, a modernistic interpretation of orchids was installed in the middle of a busy road. There is a solution to this problem.

The first major project they took on was described at a recent Council Committee as a “lesson learned” – which had to do with the ‘orchids’ that now decorate a stretch of Upper Middle Road located just before the street dips beneath the railway tracks – which gives the average driver doing the speed limit all of 1.2 seconds to actually see the art.

While “provincial”  Burlington was convinced someone locally could have done a much better job for a lot less than the $100,000. the city paid for the three orchids, I think they had some local welder who thought he was an artist in mind.   The orchards are good art done by someone with an international reputation.

City Council last week had a major problem with paying as much as $35,000 for individual bus shelters that would adorn the entrance to the up and coming Alton community.  There was some hope that there would be some sculpture in front of the high school being built in the Alton community, but no one could agree on anything so they settled for fancy bus shelters.  Councillor Taylor couldn’t stomach that one and managed to convince his council members to put the kybosh  on that one and they did – almost.  Councillor Lancaster convinced them to defer rather than say a total no and asked staff to look into providing information on fancy bus shelters  more appropriate to the Canadian climate.  The examples given didn`t look as if they offered much protection on a cold winter day.  As soon as we get the pictures from the city hall staff member we will show those to you.

With the orchids on Upper Middle Road now a fact and with negative public comment still growing all admitted that the orchids were perhaps not the arts’ greatest moment in Burlington.

While the bus shelters got the boot,  art for the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre got serious attention.  Dan Laurie, a local insurance broker,  offered to put up a sum of money providing the city matched his amount on a two for one basis for something that would be installed on the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Additional donours have come forward and offered funds on the same basis.

Council wasn’t sure they wanted to have the city stuck with a situation where they had to put up two dollars for every one that someone decided to donate so they seemed to take a pass on that opportunity.

Our Burlington is a cogent observer of all things civic at city hall and there is a very, very simple solution to both getting acceptable art in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and stifling the howls about the art on Upper Middle Road.

This is not a true photograph but rather two pictures superimposed on each other - to give you an idea what the orchids would look like if they were installed on the plaza outside the Performing Arts Centre. The council members and city staff in the picture would not be part of the installation.

Move the orchids from Upper Middle Road to the plaza in front of the Performing Arts Centre. Whizzo! – everyone is happy.  To give you an idea as to just how magnificent those orchids would look in front of the Performing Arts Centre, we Photoshopped the Orchards into a picture of the Performing Arts Centre so you could see just how fine this would look.

In the “art” work we did, we included the Mayor, several Council members and some senior City Hall staff.  One might give some thought to having those people pose during specific events during the year – the public could buy peanuts to feed them with the profits from the peanuts going to offset the $500,000 the Performing Arts Centre is going to cost in the way of their annual subsidy.

There won’t be any problem moving the orchids.  Some people think they are in Jack Dennison’s Ward 4 but  he claims they are in Blair Lancaster’s Ward 6 – they are both right – the thing is in the middle of the road on a small floral island and they really aren’t in either ward, much to the relief of Dennison who doesn’t ever want to be touched with anything to do with the arts.  Jack just wants to pave those roads.


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Halton’s Crime Rate lowest since 1974; Drops 10.4% in 2011. Chief says low crime is a community achievement.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 23, 2012   An historic bench mark in public safety was achieved by the Halton Regional Police in 2011 with the lowest crime rate since regionalization in 1974.

Specifically, there were 1,259 fewer criminal offences reported in Halton in 2011 (13,678) as compared to 2010 (14,937), according to the Halton Regional Police Service’s year-end crime statistics which were presented at today’s Police Services Board meeting.

When Regional population growth is taken into account, this represents a significant 10.4% decrease in the overall crime rate since last year – and the lowest rate in 37 years.


Chief of police reports lowest crime statistics since the force was regionalized in 1974. Now he can retire, which he will do in June.

“When a community that is already as safe as Halton sees this kind of significant decline in criminal offences, it speaks volumes about how effectively everyone, including the police, the public, our community partners, and the media are working together for public safety,” said Chief Gary Crowell.

In more good news for home and business owners, Halton’s property crime rate dropped by 13.0%, with 10,025 offences committed in 2011. Crimes in this category include theft, breaking and entering, mischief, counterfeit currency, arson, fraud and the possession of stolen goods.

The breakdown of types of crimes committed remained virtually identical to previous years, with property related crimes comprising 73.3% of all criminal offences committed in the region; violent crime such as robbery, assault and homicide equalling 18.8%; and other crime such as prostitution and offensive weapons representing 7.9%.

One trend Chief Crowell is not pleased to see in the Region is an increase in motor vehicle collisions. Despite a 19% increase in traffic enforcement by police, motor vehicle collision totals were still 10.1% higher in 2011 compared to 2010 (up from 7,649 to 8,425).  Property damage collisions were up 10.5% and injury collisions were up 8.2% year over year. Of most concern, the number of fatal collisions increased from 13 in 2010 to 15 in 2011.

“As police, we are doing everything we can by using a combined approach of enforcement, education and engineering to improve traffic safety, however far too many people are still being injured or killed on our roads,” said Chief Crowell.

“There is no question distracted drivers, impaired drivers and aggressive drivers are posing a serious risk to themselves and others. I cannot say it any more clearly: motorists must slow down, focus on the road, and do not get behind the wheel while under the influence of any substance which could impair response or judgment.”

Crime rate is the number of offences committed per 100,000 people.  Statistics Canada and police use crime rate measurements to give the most accurate comparison of criminal activity between communities with different populations, and within a single community over different time periods.

The statistics paint a very satisfactory picture for a police chief heading into retirement.  Chief Crowley will turn in his badge and his weapon in  June .

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Get out the seed catalog and be ready to go on line and get a Community Garden Plot

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 23, 2012  While winter may not be quite done with Burlington yet – the good folks at Burlington Green are seeing beyond any snow we might get as they prepare for the launch of their first ever community garden plot program.

Registration for this program opens March.7 and closes April 1,  with a launch event at Centennial Hall.  The Grand Opening will be May 5th when Michelle Bennett expects to have all her guests on their knees planting everything from lettuce to cucumbers – whatever you want – as long as its legal.

The Mayor will be on hand, the Ward Councillor, city hall staff,  MPP Ted McMeekin and anyone else that can be rounded up.

Information about the Central Park Community Garden can be found at www.burlingtongreen.org  Click the Go Local Food Network logo on the home page, or under the Program pull down tab.

There are just 27 plots available - great location and parking as well.

Applications to register for a garden plot will open online March 7 until April 1st and in person on March 7 between 7-8:30pm in Centennial Hall at Central Library.  Reserve Wed. March 7th to come out as we’ll also be featuring a great video clip about why growing your own food matters, and have some of our 2012 Grow, Learn & Eat Healthy Series speakers attending.  This will be a good chance to find out what will be happening in the garden over the next season.

There are 27 (7′ x 12′) plots available and 2 raised accessible plots.   Once registration closes on April 1st plots will be assigned based on a fair lottery process. All will be notified before April 16th if they drew a plot or if they have been placed on the waiting list.  It is the only way in year one like this to be fair. Payment of $50 and signing the plot permit will be required to receive the gate and tool shed lock combinations to enter.  A meeting time to relay the signed plot permit and payment can be arranged with the Garden Coordinator, Michelle Bennett once you have been notified of receiving a plot, or by the first Gardener Meeting on Sat. April 28.  We will have some common use tools available in the tool shed.  There will be tap water and rain barrels, and washrooms nearby.

For those who may not draw a plot, Bennett advises you can volunteer.  There will be many volunteer opportunities to tend portions of the edible/pollinating gardens outside the fence, and the demonstration plot to keep as many people involved as we can.


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Mickey Mouse to teach at McMaster, Xerox scientist tells guests of growth opportunities with intellectual property.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 23, 2012  The Mayors “Imagine-Ignite-Innovate” speakers luncheon went just fine.  The room wasn’t chock full but the program was good.  Burlington business people learned that there was growth potential in developing intellectual property and using that property to give yourself a competitive edge.

There are two organizations along Mainway that do just that: Thordon Bearings and Ecosynthetix have created and continue to create products based on either patents they have secured or use trade secrets to put them ahead of others in the same field.

Xerox has done it with new products in the laser printing field and grew from a company that owned the photocopying market to one that is now heavily engaged in the short run printing business that brought full colour printing to a desk top in the office.

Paul Smith named a vice president of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada last September spearheads Xerox’s materials research activities through a team of 120 scientists and engineers. The research centre’s most recent innovations include advances in emulsion aggregation toner and the development of long-life photoreceptors. The centre has also played a key role in developing the next generation of solid ink, Xerox’s proprietary ink that melts to a liquid in the printer and because it does not use cartridges to hold the ink, reduces consumables waste by 90 percent compared to competitive office laser-based products.

Smith joined Xerox in 1995, and has held a number of management positions at the centre (XRCC), leading teams that have developed key materials for Xerox product platforms, including solid ink components and new inks for Xerox Phaser printers.

Smith received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Bath and was a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) fellow from 1995 to 1997.  In 2001, he received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He is a named inventor on 55 U.S. patents and has published 16 research articles.

Dr. Smith was introduced by Acting Dean Dr. Bob McNutt, who announced that the Disney Institute was going to partner with the Executive Education group at DeGroote and sponsor a session on Business Excellence.   The session, to take place at the Burlington Convention Centre April 25, will focus on teaching business leaders how to think differently.  “Bring your business challenges and we will show you a clear, simplified way of looking at the problems and seeing what’s probably already right in front of you – easy effective solutions”, said the promotional literature.

In the world of marketing there is the phrase :”brand extension” which is when you take a product that has a very strong brand and extend it to a different product.

Mickey Mouse is about to become part of the Executive Education branch of McMaster's DeGroote School of Business.

Take Disney – you immediately think of Disney Land and that gets you to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in less than a jump.  Disney has managed to extend their brand in the entertainment field very successfully.  Now they are going to try and extend the Disney brand into the field of executive education.  McMaster announced at the Mayor’s BEDC luncheon that the Disney Institute was going to become part of the Executive Education program at the McMaster DeGroote School of Business.  Folks that means Mickey Mouse is coming to Burlington and that perhaps we will be able to recognize Mac students by those Mickey Mouse ears.

Now that is brand extension – the kind of thing that makes marketing managers cry as they struggle to make their brand work for them.


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ATM at a bowling alley broken into, unauthorized cash withdrawal. Bowling balls were left in place.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 22, 2012  Burlington Bowl at 4065 Harvester Road was broken into early Sunday morning at around 3:30 am.  People as yet  unknown forced open the front doors of the building and accessed the ATM machine inside.  A quantity of cash was removed from the machine and suspects fled prior to police arrival.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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If Sound of Music wants to appear before a Council again they need to get in touch with the Clerk of the Committee to ask to delegate.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 20, 2012  The Sound of Music Festival (SOM) is big business for Burlington by any standard.  It is a community based organization that got its start in 1967,  when the Parks and Recreation department looked for a community group to take on an event that had become too big for city hall to manage.

Ever the trooper, Dave Miller, third from the right, belts out a tune as part of a promotional event to develop interest in the Mayor's Cabaret. Mayor didn't sing for Dave's delegation when he sought an increase in SOM funding.

It is,  by any measure, a significant success and for the music industry in this province it is the stage to get on.  The city has had some very big names come in for the four day event and it has grown.  However, one thing it has failed to do is develop a strong relationship with both City Hall and the members of Council.  When Dave Miller appeared before the Budget and Corporate Services Committee looking for an increase in the SOM grant he basically got the “bums rush”.  He talked of plans to grow the event and they asked “when is enough, enough”.

There was clearly no meeting of minds and one has to ask why SOM didn’t have a sterling working relationship with the city it brings a major entertainment event to year after year.?  Why are these two organizations so far apart in their thinking?  Do the SOM people not realize there is a political aspect to what they do and that they have to keep Council members fully informed and that there has to be a top notch working relationship with every level of the city’s administration that impacts on the Festival?

One wonders if they didn’t move very quickly to meet with the new city manager and brief him on what they do – get there story in front of the man before anyone elsewhere at City Hall decides to give their version of what the SOM is and isn’t.

But that level of liaison with city hall doesn’t appear to be in place. Nor does there appear to be a really smooth working relationship with the Burlington Downtown Business Association whose members hurt when the SOM Festival is taking place.   Not that many of that huge audience drifts north along Brant Street or into the side streets to get a nicer sense of the city.

SOM has expanded their offering and there are now events that don’t fit into Spencer Smith Park talking place along Brant Street.  They want to expand it even more – but the Council committee wasn’t buying into their ideas.

The Sound of Music is believed to have a very sound balance sheet – I say believed because they don’t publish their financial results.  All the public knows is that this is a $1 million operation.  What the revenue sources are and what the expenses are is not detailed “because to do so would let our competitors know how we do what we do” , which has got to be one of the lamest excuses I’ve heard about why the financial kimono isn’t always wide open.

Whenever any organization appears before Council asking for funds – the books get opened.  When you are given public money – you tell exactly what it is being used for and you explain why you need the funds – and that means having your financial statements with you.

A creative accountant can put ones financial situation before the public and not give away critical information.  And, if there is a real concern, ask Council to allow you to go into Closed Session while you explain – and if Council accepts your reasons then the information is kept away from the public.  There is a time and a place for information to be kept confidential.  I must add that keeping the amount the city has spent on legal costs for the Pier squabble with the contractors is not one of those times, but  I digress.

Volunteers make this event happen; hundreds of them. Tent stakes being driven into the ground

Today SOM has 13 committees:

Communications, chaired by Hoda Kayal,

Eco Team, chaired by Jacky Miller,

Music Education chaired by Dora Falcone,

Finance chaired by Tim Miron,

Fundraising chaired by Erin Court,

Licensed Areas chaired by Debbie Milner,

Parade chaired by Kevin Picott,

Programming chaired by Jill Duvnjak,

Security chaired by Ted Mills,

Sponsorship chaired by Kim Horvat,

Streetfest chaired by Martin Harm,

VIP Services chaired by Rick Horvat and

Vendors chaired by Paul Munro.

which has to be an outstanding example of community participation for an event that runs from the Thursday of Father’s Day weekend through to the Sunday.

Sources of revenue are set out - Sound of Music wants more from the city and wants to keep their portion f funding up their with the federal and provincial government.


Like every organization that serves the local community as well as the larger community, there are financial strains. SOM has a budget that exceeds $1 million and they can give you half a dozen good reasons why they need a boost to the city’s grant.

Dave Miller, SOM Executive Director since 1967 appeared before Council Committee recently to ask for an increase in the grant they get from the city.  They wanted to go from the $52,000 they are currently given to $86,000  – a request that got stuck in the craw of more than one Council member.  One of them, who had a pencil at hand and was quick with the numbers said – “that’s a 65% increase”.

A council member politely explained that Boards and Committees were being given a 2% increase.

Miller piped up and said they were going to ask to have their grant raised from $52,000 to $96,000 but added , “realizing the current economy we would like to ask for support to be at $86,000.”

Data charts are nice but the Sound of Music people have to produce a balance sheet along with a profit and loss statement and tell city council if they have a reserve fund.

There was a stunned silence and Miller added that the $34,000 increase he was asking for could be phased in over two years, which would work out to $17,000 a year in 2012 and an additional $17,000 in 2013.

It still didn’t fly.

Miller went on to explain just how much the SOM did for the city.  The city saves $500,000 annually by having the event run by a community group instead of the city.  He didn’t provide much in the way of numbers to support that claim but nobody challenged him on it.

He added that $44,000 of the grant funding is returned directly to the city in permit fees, wages and equipment use.

The SOM is said to have a $4 million economic impact on the Burlington economy.  Miller didn’t back that figure up either and he wasn’t challenged on it.

One got the sense that Miller was saying: ‘we’re good and we want more support from you because we are good’ – but that didn’t matter, this Committee wasn’t buying it and unless there is significant lobbying and the figures tossed out are backed up and a sounder business case made – the Sound of Music is going to have to settle for the annual $52,000 financial contribution.

Saying that Miller failed to make a strong case is not meant to embarrass the man but when you want elected officials to turn tax dollars over to you to spend – make the argument a strong one – or go without.

Miller didn’t get a chance to get into some of the really interesting ideas he and his committee had developed.

Miller says that he doesn’t like doing these “dog and pony” shows and it showed.  The SOM people would be well advised to put someone in front of a committee that can generate some excitement and pump them up.  It would have been great if he could have piped in some of the fabulous sound that comes from the stages that dot the waterfront in June.  Councillor Taylor once flew to New York to listen to the Jersey Boys and told me that he was just pumping away to the “big sound”.

The Ladies of the Canyon would have helped - piping their sound into the committee room might have helped.

A section from the Ladies of the Canyon presentation last year just might have moved the room.  The SOM is all about show business but they didn’t dazzle a soul with their presentation.

Alas, the overhead projector wasn’t working that day and the sound system has been a little jerky of late.

The SOM team has grown the event into a million dollar business that can be made even more beneficial to the city. This is a group that doesn't have any operational or serious budget problems. They just need to tell the story in a better way.

The lack of really strong support from Parks and Recreation was noticeable as well.  If Council wasn’t “gung ho” on the festival, and senior staff didn’t come on side and the Parks and recreation people didn’t speak up for the event – then who is for the Festival?  The SOM people would say the 250,000 people who show up for the event are what it’s all about – and that is certainly the case but Miller didn’t tap into any of that energy.  Pity.

Something else was notable – there wasn’t a single person from the Board on hand to speak – just Dave Miller and his Power Point presentation.  Next time Miller should take a band in with him.

There is a future for the Festival – it just isn’t clear what it is nor is it clear what the community wants.  We know that Council is quite happy to leave things where they are.  Parks and Recreation isn’t going to put in any more than they are doing.  There are no Festival “spear carriers” within senior staff.  The Festival needs to find a champion and move this thing forward – opening up the books would help too.

Attendance of more than 250,000 is no small feat. It takes hard work and perseverance to make it happen.

The Festival did get into “greening” the event and while they struggle with the city’s no smoking policy within Spencer Smith Park (and any attempt to do that with a music event is more than a challenge – if you know what I mean) they are doing their best.

They want to be able to continue with the year round children’s music education initiatives and, once The Pier is open in 2013 they want to bring back fireworks to the event.  There was mention made in the presentation about national broadcasts of the event, Miller let that one slide by.

The most controversial part of the SOM delegation to the Council committee was the wanting to grow the event by adding programs and days to accommodate more visits.  The intention was to make the SOM Festival an event that started one weekend and ended the following weekend – which takes a four day event and makes it a seven day event.  That one just didn’t go down at Committee.

This is what it's all about. People sitting outside and enjoying the Sound of Music. More than a quarter of a million visits to the waterfront every year. Great!

The argument for increased financial assistance was pitched at two levels.  The amount the Festival saved the city and where Burlington was in relation to funding from other sources that had already increased their financial participation.

There was a lot of “happy talk” in the presentation made up of pictures and mention that this was a “free” event.  It wasn’t enough – the Sound of Music Festival is business – good business, but the case has to be made to the people handing out the dollars.   That case didn’t get made last week and the likelihood is that SOM will not get an increase this year.


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Drury Lane bridge repair progresses – city spends $40,000 on drawings and technical reports needed before work can begin.

By Pepper Parr

The Drury Lane bridge repair went forward another step when city council agreed to a single source tender to have drawings done up as well as some engineering work done by AMEC, the company that has done all the work on the bridge since it was suddenly closed down last November.

Council at a previous meeting agreed to proceed with the repairs to the bridge at a cost of $380,000 but couldn’t proceed to making the repairs until there were drawings and specifications put together.  Due to the urgency of this work, city staff recommended a single source contract and recommended AMEC.  They are to get back with the drawings and scope of the work required and then the job goes out to tender.

That further notice now has a date - sometime in July - working drawings are being prepared.

The hope is to have the bridge repaired and opened in July.  That repair is expected to hold for at least five years during which time residents can travel back and forth from the community on to Drury Lane and on south to Fairview which then lets them travel to Burlington Mall and on into Central Park, the YMCA and the Library.

Council in committee debated long and hard about what it was going to cost to replace the bridge after the five year point.  A cost of $2.5 million was not on for Councillor Dennison; other members of council were having serious digestion problems over the cost.  One wonders how they felt when city engineer Tom Eichenbaum let them know that the plans to build a tunnel instead of a replacement bridge would come in at as much as $3 million.

But that wasn’t the issue last night.  The bridge is going to be repaired and in a month or so the community will know more about the kind of repair that will be done and more on how long it is likely to last.

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They are doing it again – Council & staff are going to hide in a dark room at the Performing Arts Centre to “Gear Up” for the Official Plan.


By Pepper Parr

This is certainly a different take on going into closed session of a City Council Committee meeting.

A special meeting of the Committee of the Whole has been called for Monday February 27th – 9:30 am in the Studio Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

The purpose of the meeting is for education and training.  The meeting is closed to the public in accordance with Sec. 239 (3.1) of the Municipal Act.

The Agenda for the meeting is: Official Plan Review Background: “Gearing Up”

Gearing up for what?  A public assault on the process?

The Municipal Act states that:

A meeting of a council or local board or of a committee of either of them may be closed to the public if the following conditions are both satisfied:

1. The meeting is held for the purpose of educating or training the members.

2. At the meeting, no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the council, local board or committee.

So – what they are doing is legal – but why would a council that keeps talking about being transparent and wanting to involve the public, hold a meeting to train staff about how one goes about reviewing and revising an Official Plan – THE most important document a Council can produce and something that is going to take us a couple of years to complete?


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Downtown core still looking for a solution; economic ninjas leading the charge this time.

By Pepper Parr

Sooner or later we will figure it out.  The next stab at finding an answer to that always perplexing question: What do we do with the downtown core?  is being led by those able financial ninja’s at the Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

They have been asked to stick handle a study with two key objectives: quantify the market potential and constraints for the development of office space and while they are at it quantify the unique economic factors affecting retail operations in our downtown core relative to other areas of the city.

Tough part of town to do retail in? Consultants will tell the city just what it costs to do business in the downtown core and what it costs elsewhere in the city - and why.

Retailers claim it costs more to run a business downtown.  Robert Lyons, a Burlington real estate professional produced some data that suggested property assessments in the downtown core were tough for retailers to cope with. There was a lot of anecdotal stuff floating around but the people making the decisions wanted hard data.

The BEDC has been given up to $15,000 to play with and get this done, in what can at best be seen as a real tight schedule.  Proposals in by February 28th; contract awarded March 5th then meet with BEDC staff to go over what’s going to get done three days later.  Then just over a month after the Preliminary draft of the report is due and discussed at an hour and a half meeting the same day.  Final report is due 12 days later.

May 10th the writers of the report present and defend the thing at a Council Workshop.

Much of the forward thinking being done in Burlington it tied to the Strategic Plan that set out three Strategic Directions for the city.

Vibrant Neighbourhoods – and while downtown is described as everyone’s neighbourhood – it isn’t very vibrant.  However, it wasn’t all that long ago when there were dozens of stores with newspapers covering the plate glass and a for rent sign in the window.

Prosperity- bring hundreds of those high tech, high paying jobs to the city.  Everyone knows that the city is not going to see a manufacturing plant with 500 new jobs on the horizon in this lifetime.  Intellectual property, bio-tech, high value added are the buzz words for the economic development crowd.  But to have any of this one needs decent office space – and there  isn’t any of that in the downtown core – yet.

The third Strategic Direction was Excellence in Government which meant delivering services to the community at an acceptable cost and listening to the people who live in the city.  The budget will probably come in at something very close to 2% – the draft version asks for 3.4% but look for some whittling down of that number.

Mayor Goldring has focused on economic development more than anything else (he has spent a lot of time and energy improving the working relationships between his Council members  – but that’s another story) so far in his mandate.  He was insistent that there be a solid, thoroughly thought through Strategic Plan and he made sure the time and the resources were put into the Task.  City Council spent eleven half day sessions producing that document. The Mayor did the thinking behind the innovateBurlington program and has for the past six months being setting things up for a major look at what is wrong with the downtown core.

In May, 2011 Council asked city staff to update Council on the Status of the Core Commitment along with a work plan,  time frames and a budget for a strategy designed to engage the community.  Key to this was an implementation for delivering the vision, whatever it turned out to be.

Staff produced their report in August of 2011 – and it didn’t hit enough nails on the head to get the job done.  While the Core Commitment had been ongoing for a number of years, they realized now that they really didn’t have enough data.  The anecdotal stuff they did have was getting them nowhere.

The Mayor’s office could see where this was going so Council directed  that a Task Group be formed to “identify challenges, opportunities, roles and responsibilities for creating a vibrant downtown”.

The Core Commitment people had already produced language that described the downtown core as a neighbourhood that belonged to everyone – and while true from a philosophical point of view – its tough to really believe that the folks in Alton and The Orchard or Aldershot for that matter,  see the downtown core as “their” neighbourhood.  These groups of people find what they need in their immediate community or head for the malls.

The Task Group got put together and did what any group does – (don’t think firemen do this)  – determined their mandate, wrote it down and then met and decided that a SWOT (Strengths,Weaknesses,Opportunities,Threats) analysis was needed and that recommendations delivered had to be based on fact – but there weren’t all that many facts in front of them – so they wanted some targeted research to advance the understanding of systemic  issues affecting the health of the downtown core.

That called for three research projects: Benchmarking, Market/Customer Analysis and the Cost of Doing business Downtown.  The cost study is what the city wants to get done pronto.

The Benchmarking is being done by an intern who will compare what has been done in the Burlington downtown with what has been done in other downtown locations of a similar size and similar socio-economics.

The Market/Customer analysis will be the object of a Request for Proposal to be issued at a later date.

So – what have we got?

A Core Commitment group that kind of stalled.  To be fair the Core Commitment is a vision document and a strategy to achieve the vision but they have stumbled a bit

A Task Group that hopes it can do a better job.  And they are going to do their best to ensure that they have valid data to work from.

And three research proposals.

All this to inform and direct a Workshop that is going to take place on what can we do to leverage those two parking lots in the downtown core, spitting distance from city hall.

Is the Brant and James intersection the location for some Class A office space or will it go up in a parking lot a block away?

Councillor Jack Dennison has had dreams about what can be done with those properties.  In 2006 the city thought they had a winner when six proposals came in response to a proposal to develop 100,000 to 150,000 sqft of Class A office space with a parking garage for 500 vehicles.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington's downtown core - but McMaster stiffed the city when a nicer deal came along.

Before that idea got very far McMaster came along with their idea of putting one of their schools in the downtown core and the city retracted the RFP they had put out.  But McMaster stiffed the city when a better offer came along. A BEDC document explains that unfortunate experience thusly: “Unfortunately, new opportunities later in the process presented themselves to McMaster and the downtown campus project was abandoned by McMaster.”  Care to know who owned the land that the university is now located on?

Somewhere in all this there is some progress.

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Armed robbery on Brant – thieves demand drugs at Medexpress and flee in broad daylight.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  There was an armed robbery at a pharmacy on Brant just before noon on Friday. Two armed suspects entered the Medexpress Pharmacy located at 809 Brant St., Burlington.

One suspect pointed a hand gun at the clerk and demanded prescription drugs – the clerk complied.  The suspects fled the store, last seen running eastbound on Prospect St..

Suspect :  Description – male, black, early 40’s, over 6ft tall, medium build. Clothing – all black clothing, wearing ski or motorcycle goggles.

Suspect 2:  Description – male, black late 30’s, over 6ft tall, medium build.  Clothing – black coat, grey scarf over face, light coloured pants.

Neither of the victims was injured.

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Ward 4 residents tell Dennison they are with him on his tax cut plans – all 14 of them. Popcorn was served.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  Burlington has a practice of taking its budget proposals out into the community to both explain the document and get feedback from the community.  The city holds information sessions at different locations.  There were about 30 people at one of the city sessions.

Councillor Dennison explaining the budget to a constituent at his Ward meeting.

Jack Dennison, Ward 4 Councillor held  a session and got a turnout of 14 people. It is reported that Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman got a turnout of 5 people and John Taylor got a zero turn out.  We were not able to get a response from Councillors Lancaster or Craven. Of the six Council members Taylor has the most loyal following, spends the least on getting elected knows as much as anyone about the budget numbers.

Meed Ward has a dedicated Ward Advisory Committee she will have briefed fully. She gave them the workbooks handed out at the public meetings to take home and fill out.  She adds: “I encouraged residents to attend the open budget meeting held in Ward 2 at the BAC.”

Dennison’s ward event was held at his office on Cumberland.  I’ve never quite understood why these aren’t held at a more neutral location.  I don’t think a constituent should have to go to the council members commercial office for a meeting.  What if you were an unhappy customer at the Cedar Springs Sports and Racquet Club?  The setting was nice enough and the gas fireplace in the Heritage Room made it pleasant – but methinks there’s something wrong with using a commercial location.  Dennison however has never stayed all that close to the rules and the proprietaries of things.

For the most part Jack Dennison knew his numbers and his penchant for repairing the roads came through loud and clear.  The city does have a problem digging out the money it needs to keep the roads in an acceptable state of repair and as Dennison continually tells people – “if we don’t do the repairs now we will have to do them later and it will cost us more”.  He focuses on the “shave and pave” approach – a way to manage the maintenance of roads that is cost effective.  Burlington’s problem is that the city is so far behind – some $17 million a year behind – and getting caught up means taking money from something else.  Jack took his audience through his solutions.

The federal gas tax, the funds municipalities get from the federal government share of gasoline taxes – Dennison wants to change the way this is split.  Currently 70% goes to roads and 30% to transit.  Dennison wants that shifted to an 80/20 split which will move $500,000 into roads.  Don’t expect the transit advocates to buy this one, especially with a major transit revue about to take place.

Take money out of the Land acquisition fund. Dennison sees $400,000 coming from that source.

Jack Dennison speaking to "his people"

Dennison wants to see $1 million scrounged out of the different departments and applied to the road repair deficit.  His task now is to convince his fellow Council members.

His audience, mostly seniors or very close to being a senior, were certainly aware of the issues and while there were differences of opinion this crowd knew what they wanted.  The city’s plans for an “egov” service would not be in the budget for this crowd –  $600,000 plus saved there in this budget.  Dennison wanted the $2.3 million that is scheduled to cost spread out over five years but he explained that $600,000 has to go in during the first year.  This is one project that has a better than even chance of getting pushed back a year.

Dennison thinks less money should be put into the Land Reserve Fund but he was OK with the 2% increase that would be given to local boards: The Art Centre, Tourism and the Performing Arts Centre.  He was even comfortable with the $500,000 losses the Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre rack up each year.

Ward 4 residents at community meeting working through their differences.

Dennison is not a big fan of the arts – don’t get him going on the “orchids” on Upper Middle Road and if you come up with a cheap way to get rid of the Joseph Brant Museum – Jack wants to hear from you.

Council instructed staff to come up with a tax increase of between 2% and 3.5% – they came back with a suggested 3.4% increase.  Dennison wants that walked back to less than 2% and he set out how he would do it.

One constituents wanted to know why the city was hiring firemen at $107,000. a year; another wondered why the city is re-developing the hospital and also why the words Phase 1 was on the sign – Is there a phase 2, he wanted to know.  Another felt the new hospital in Oakville could serve Burlington’s needs very well – they have all kinds of room to grow but Burlington has very little if any room to grow and the property is prime for residential development. “Turn the existing hospital into a long term care facility”  was his recommendation.”

These comments all make their way to the Council chamber where you can bet the mortgage payment that Jack Dennison will make mention of them.  Council members look to their community for  input and comment.  One council member is fond of the phrase “the word on the street is” but there is no sense of how many people are talking to her.

Dennison has always had a thing for the two parking lots in the downtown core – the lot off Brant and the lot next to the bus terminal.  He sees selling that land and using the money to build a parking lot as a big benefit for the city and has been promoting the idea of curtailing the length of John Street and getting some class A office space into that part of town.  Dennison has been pushing this one for more than ten years.

It may have been Councillor Dennison's meeting but the Mayor worked the room.

Mayor Goldring popped into the room for part of the meeting and would join the conversation to clarify or make an important point.  An issue that came up a number of times was the salaries, benefits and pensions paid to civil servants at city hall.  Tough to talk about how much you’re paying the people that run the city but Goldring is pretty consistent in his comments.  He points out that municipalities just can’t afford what they are currently required to put up.

OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, has a “defined benefits” program which sets out what an employee is going to get paid come pension time.  If the investment fund, which is made up of employer and employee contributions, doesn’t produce enough income to meet the pension obligations, OMERS goes to the municipalities to pony up the difference which for Burlington is going to be $600,000 for 2012 $600,000 for 2013 and $1.8 million for 2014.  Ouch!

The investment program OMERS runs, requires an annual return of 7% if they are going to meet their payout schedule – do you know anyone getting that kind of a return, regularly?   When the investment portfolio doesn’t deliver that level of return – OMERS turns to the municipalities and requires them to top up – for Burlington that has means, Mayor Goldring points out that this just isn’t financially sustainable nor does he see it as equitable.  But, as he points out “there isn’t much an individual Mayor can do”.  However, there is strength in numbers and Goldring is meeting with an association of other mayors to discuss what some of their options are.  Goldring did explained  to the audience that the rules that govern the OMERS plan are up for review in 2013 – bet on the municipalities concern being raised to a howl.

The 2008 recession is still dragging down the economy of many small municipalities.  Taxpayers are unhappy with a situation where their taxes support a retirement program that is much, much better than the retirement programs most people have. Goldring expects to play a leading role in the effort to bring about changes.  It’s financially complex but Goldring’s financial planning background will serve him well.

The low ridership on the transit service took the usual hit – “I often see just one person on the bus” is a standard comment which Mayor Goldring corrected when he explain that in the Quality of Service survey the city had done 25% of the population uses the bus service; not every day but the service is used.  There is a major transit study in hand with three public information session planned for the next few weeks.

The Pier – hardly a mention.  One could almost hear the sigh of relief from Goldring on that one.

It was a friendly evening but there was an interesting point raised by Dennison: five to six years ago the attendance was closer to 45 people.  Why the drop off?

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Budding Picasso’s have had their careers stalled: police call it graffiti and that’s a no, no; pre-charge diversion for these lads.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 17, 2012  Police have identified a trio of Burlington youths as responsible for a number of graffiti  ‘tagging’ incidents over the past month.

Beginning in the month of January, The Orchard and Millcroft communities experienced an increase in incidents of graffiti. The graffiti, in the form of spray painted ‘tags’, were popping up on park benches, Canada Post boxes, as well as cable and hydro boxes.  The majority of the ‘tags’ were one word in nature.

It isn’t public art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kids with too much free time on their hands and parents not fully aware of what their children are doing.



In a planned response to the increased incidents of graffiti, both uniformed and plain clothed officers were utilized to patrol affected areas. This initiative included a collaborative effort with residents, school officials and students who alerted police to tagging locations, provided timelines and potential suspect information.

This resulted in the identification of three Burlington youths ages 16 and 17 years who were responsible for the vast majority of the recent tagging.  The youth, whose identities are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are all entering a pre-charge diversion program operated by the Burlington Youth Bureau.

Such acts of vandalism have significant costs associated to them and police are asking parents to be mindful of youths in possession of tagging tools such as spray paint cans, graffiti art and wide-tipped markers.

Anyone with information regarding those responsible for such acts of vandalism are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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If done properly it could be made into a fun event and one that could save their lives. Plan on this one.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  The Burlington Fire Department  has an idea for your family on Family Day.  Not quite the same as goofing around and doing nothing.

The fire department is asking families to make a home fire escape plan and practice it as part of their Family Day activities on Monday, Feb. 20.

This little girl got out of the house - the tragedies are when people don't make it out during a fire. Plan an escape on Family Day

“Everyone is responsible to ensure they know what to do if a fire occurs in their home,” said Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill. “If there is a fire in your home, it’s important to be alerted by working smoke alarms so you can quickly execute your family’s escape plan.”

Simple steps for home fire escape planning include:

Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. It’s the law. For the best protection, install smoke alarms in every bedroom.

Develop a home fire escape plan; discuss it with the entire family and practise the escape plan.

Check that all exits are unobstructed and easy to use.

Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance.

Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.

If caught in a smoke-filled area, get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit.

You can too escape safely from fires that rage like this.

Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or neighbour’s home.

Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.

Doesn’t sound very cool does it, common sense seldom is “cool” to the younger people.  But we’re not talking to the younger set; we are talking to parents and as you take the GO or drive to work on Tuesday you might think about the important thing you did for your children – and it could be made into a fun event.

You may have only seconds to safely escape your home. Practice your home fire escape plan and know where to meet outside the home to save your life and the lives of loved ones.


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Renowned world class author to speak at Burlington Library; Different Drummer co-sponsors the event.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 16, 2012  I’m not quite sure how he does it but Ian Elliott, proprietor of The Different Drummer Bookstore manages to attract some very impressive authors to his Engaging Ideas events he holds at the Public Library.

He recently had Michelle Landsberg as a guest and while I wasn’t able to make it to that event, I am told it was a great evening.  Landsberg is always good copy and good conversation.

An author with an international reputation and the ability to explain issues and ideas better than many - will be in Burlington February 27th.

On February 27, 7 pm author Modris Eksteins will introduce his new book Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age.

While that is certainly a mouthful of a title in the book,  Dr. Eksteins examines the career and concerns of Vincent Van Gogh and the explosion of his international reputation through a chain of surprising events in Weimar Germany.

Ekstein’s previous books, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, and Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II and the Heart of Our Century, have brought him major literary awards along with great international success and acclaim.

Solar Dance shares with these works an extraordinary recreation of the times, illuminated with keen insight and an astonishing range of reference in an artful, engaging and edifying presentation.

To reserve seats in advance, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

We have pinched shamelessly from a Globe and Mail review of Eksteins work.  I not only don’t have the time to review the books (but they are on my list of books to read) but I don’t think I could do as well as Mark Kingwell. If you are interested in reviewing books for Our Burlington – be in touch.

From Globe and Mail, February 10, 2012

No film fan can forget the scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) in which two pseudo-intellectual New Yorkers, played by Michael Murphy and Diane Keaton, enumerate the members of their “Academy of the Overrated”: Norman Mailer, Scott Fitzgerald, Lenny Bruce, Gustav Mahler, Heinrich Böll, Ingmar Bergman, Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Isak Dinesen, possibly Sol LeWitt.

Allen’s character, Isaac, a self-involved but earnest television writer, is particularly dismayed by their inclusion of Vincent van Gogh – pronounced, notoriously, “van Goch”

“Van Goch?” he mouths incredulously to his girlfriend. “She said van Goch?”

Van Gogh has been sneer fodder for snobs longer than most. Critic Carl Steinem, commenting on the craze for his work in the early 1920s, condemned the work as “petit-bourgeois kitsch” with “the likeness of a collectively minded idiot.”

Then and now, denunciations seem only to fuel an enduring, outsized popularity. Three of the highest prices ever paid for art were fetched by van Gogh’s work, even as blockbuster shows continue to create queues down the blocks of every city with an art gallery.

Posters of his paintings regularly outsell every other artist, to the point of being a dorm-room nuisance – for God’s sake, hang something else! – and his visage, name, story and signature now adorn everything from high-end liquor to banks.

This ubiquity has a non-cash price, namely that, precisely because we see the works everywhere, it’s no longer possible for us to see them. The startling vividness of van Gogh’s vision, the madness, the tragic impoverished death at 37 with just one work sold, no longer have the antagonistic power of a century ago.

Philosopher Karl Jaspers: “I could not help feeling that van Gogh was the only truly great and unwillingly ‘insane’ person among so many who pretended to be insane but are really all too normal.” Nowadays, van Gogh is no longer even an authentic madman; he is, instead, a textbook case of cultural over-determination, strangled by his own success.

The book is about the guy who cut off his ear and sold just the one painting before his life ended at 37 - it is much more than that.

Modris Eksteins’s subtle and engaging new book offers an account of how this came to be, and in telling it, Eksteins bestows a great gift: new strangeness. In 56 short sections, each linked to a van Gogh work, he interweaves the large fabric of culture, politics and money with the small, indeed pedestrian tale of a dancer turned art dealer who, in 1927, was arrested for the crime of offering 30 forged van Goghs for sale. The dealer, Otto Wacker – also known by various stage names and pseudonyms – was, in Eksteins’s phrase, a “twentieth-century mutant”: chancer, fabulist, romantic, a homosexual who joined the Nazi party, a dancer who leaped around the truth as well as the stage.

Wacker, in common with many talented men and women of Germany’s Weimar period, found interregnum Berlin an irresistible playground for stimulation and self-creation. “Berlin was crazy, debauched, metropolitan, anonymous, gargantuan, futuristic,” one Viennese writer said, “an infernal cesspool and paradise in one.” The combination of freedom and anonymity – the “metropolitan attitude” that sociologist Georg Simmel had identified as early as 1903 – would have lasting effect not just on these people but on the century’s course. Painters, writers, architects, philosophers and frauds of all types flocked to the wide-open, decadent city that would later host the extended madness, the violent “solar dance,” of Hitler’s Third Reich.

The Weimar Republic, Eksteins writes here, “was installation art on a grand scale, a fantastic panorama of commotion, imagination, and violence, literal and figurative, fuelled by a never-ending sense of emergency. Hitler and National Socialism were as much a product of Weimar as were Walter Gropius’s architecture, Fritz Lang’s films, and Marlene Dietrich’s legs.”

Makes you want to read the book – take advantage of the opportunity to meet the author.  I won’t be able to attend – there is a City Council committee meeting that needs attention.  If you choose not to join me at Council committee – do get to the library and take in this event.

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This could turn out to be a very useful program and has the potential to become a model across the province.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON, February 15, 2012 In his State of the City message in January the Mayor announced a new graduate internship program, innovateBurlington.  The objective is to help drive growth and innovation in Burlington by using talented young graduates to complete projects for local companies that help drive their business forward.

The project has some very interesting potential and appears to be one of those situations where everything came into line at the same time and it was relatively easy to go from concept to becoming operational.

The idea was part of Rick Goldring’s election platform – a promise he is delivering upon you might say.  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation, the organization that keeps tab on the health of the city’s economic development, is the lead on the project and will be asking the private sector for the most part if they have projects they would like to get started on or complete but for a number of reasons have not been able to get off the ground.

The Mayor’s idea was brought to fruition by an Advisory Board made up of   Cheryl Jensen, Paul Bates, C. Brotten, Keith Hoey, Catherine Mills, Nigel Jacobs, and Mike Jane who handed off the facilitation of the program to the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) who will administer the program during the formative years until it is clear how the program is going to be taken up by the private sector.

Kyle Benham, working with Anita Cassidy, )we will tell you more about her in a moment), take the needs a company has expressed and looks at the graduate students they are working with and looks for a match.

The students in the program are being given an opportunity many of today’s graduates feel they need to kick start their careers.  The deal for the students is that they are employed for a period of time – they get paid $23.00 an hour and work four days a week with their “client” and spend the fifth day in a classroom being mentored by some of Burlington’s success stories.

A piece of plastic got turned into a multi-national corporate endeavour. Innovative financing and a measure of moxie made it all come together. Foxcroft is going to share his experiences with interns taking part in the innovateBurlington program.

Ron Foxcroft, the basketball referee who turned a crisis, a piece of plastic and some entrepreneurial moxy into an internationally successful company.  Today’s students need time at the feet of people like Foxcroft – who also happens to be a heck of a story teller.

BECD’s Benham has taken the program one step further.  He and Cassidy look for situations where students work as team and for perhaps more than one client.  They get to share ideas and network in a way they just can’t when they are out looking for work.

Will some of the students find full time work out of the program?  That could happen but it is not the core objective.  The purpose is to give students an opportunity to get some experience and to expose the private sectors to students who were educated in the Burlington area and have a great deal of talent.

In these lean times many companies have put some projects on the side to focus on keeping the revenue side alive and healthy.  Projects that tended to be “future focus” got set aside either because existing staff just didn’t have the time or because a company wasn’t in a position to hire a new full time person.

BEDC has partnered with the Centre for Skills Development & Training and McMaster University.  Students will take their mentoring classes at the Centre and will, from time to time take in a class at McMaster.

What made this program close to perfect from BEDC’s point of view was that they were able to administer a program that is relevant to their base and use it as another feature for companies looking at Burlington for their operational base or perhaps their headquarters.

One of the problems the city has had is enticing new corporate entities to a city the Mayor and the people that oversee the growing of the city know is a great place to live and raise a family.  One of the problems they are up against is a form of apathy that says – “things are fine as they are” when many realize things are not all that fine.  Good – but not good enough.

Graduate students will be with the program for a minimum of four months with the possibility of putting in a full year.  The program isn’t meant to be a “full time” job for the students, even though they will certainly work full time and then some.  There just may be a situation where the project the employer has requires a full year and the student is picking up great resume building experience.  Most graduate interns will be involved in programs that last from between four months to a year.

Partnering with the Centre for Skills Development & Training,  a not-for-profit incorporated affiliate of the Halton District School Board, brought in seasoned educators with experience  at all stages of employment from youth just starting out, to older workers who have been laid off; from newcomers to Canada who need to improve their workplace English, to people interested in the trades who need to build their technical skills; and from small business owners looking to hire staff, to large companies who need help developing and transitioning their workforce.

The person in the trenches for this project is Anita Cassidy, who brings an almost perfect mix of academic training and experience to the task.  A Scot ethnically, Cassidy brings charm and a soft brogue in her voice to a sector in Burlington that is often neglected – the building of talent within organizations that are still working their way through the 2008 recession.

Educated at the University of Glasgow with majors in history and economics she went on to do a double Master program; an MSc with Merit in Economic Development, and an MA Honours in History and Sociology, both at the University of Glasgow

Anita Cassady, inovateBurlington program co-ordinator and Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation work up the early staging part of a program that has been launched.

Cassidy went on to work as program assistant from 2005 – 2007with the Strathclyde European Partnership where she saw how funds from the European Union were used in the re-development of the ship building industry in western Scotland.  That experience gave her both an insight and an appreciation for how much benefit there is to programs like the one the BEDC is embarking upon. She then went on to work for the British Council and then back to Scotland where she was involved as the Funding Coordinator, for Glasgow’s Regeneration Agency.  Burlington is going to seem mild to this woman

Frank McKeown, the Mayor’s top aide, pushed to have mentoring as a critical part of the program and said in an interview that he hoped to see a situation where the people involved in the program came back from Monday to Thursday sessions with their clients and spent the Friday in mentoring classes where they might get an opportunity to listen to someone like Ron Foxcroft talk about how you take an idea and grow it into a business.

McKeown fears that the Burlington private sector is just a little on the complacent side.  He points to the co-op program at McMaster/DeGroote where some 140 students were put into programs with employers.  Less than 4% of the 140 co-op students were placed with Burlington firms.  “If they aren’t working for our private sector then they are working with private sector firms elsewhere in Ontario who might well be competitors of Burlington companies”, he said.

The project got off to a strong start when local company Global Mobility Products (GMP) was able to match up with a graduate to help them realize strategic projects.  Ryan Djordjevic, GMP President, is keen.

Another program objective is to recruit, and retain talented young graduates in Burlington economy.  James Maxwell, one of the graduate interns  sees the program as an opportunity  through which he can gain experience, and increase his employability.  The hands on experience the program gives graduates includes learning how the business world works, which they don’t get in a classroom.  The hope for the people at BEDC, and the wish the Mayor had in mind when he thought up the program, was that Burlington would become home to both their work lives and where they raises their families.  The city wants to create a workforce that is part of those high paying, high tech jobs that everyone is after.  Mayor Goldring found that the mountain wasn’t coming to Mohamed – so he took Mohamed to the mountain.

Great idea – let’s see if it work.  If you want more information on this – log into www.innovateBurlington.ca  Better still – give Anita Cassidy a call..


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What’s open and what’s closed in the city on Family Day

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 15, 2012   Family Day is a relatively new event for Ontario and while municipalities were quick to pick up on it – legislation said they had to – the commercial sector hasn’t done much.  Denningers has announced they will not be open on Monday February 20th, which is the public holiday the province gave us in 2008 to celebrate the family.  It is a statutory holiday – which means banks, government offices, schools and municipal offices will be closed. The idea was that everyone would bet at home being family.  Hasn’t quite worked out that way but the city has set up a special schedule.

City hall is closed and a number of administrative services will not be available.

Burlington Transit and HandiVan service will operate a Sunday service schedule on Monday, Feb 20. The administration offices including the Downtown Transit Terminal will be closed.

While City Hall is closed on Family Day, Burlington parks and recreation facilities are wide open for family fun. Activities range from drop-in gym, swimming, skating and crafts to fitness classes.

A family of up to five (min. of one adult) can purchase a Family Day Pass and participate in up to three activities at Tansley Woods Community Centre for only $15. The full schedule of programs includes:

Family Day, drop-in programs

Activity Time Fee Per Participant
Drop In Family Gym* 9:30a.m.-2:30 p.m. $3.10/child, $2.10/additional child
Drop In Basketball* 2:30-4:30 p.m. $3.00
Family Fitness – Walk Tone & Stretch* (14yrs+) 10:30-11:20 a.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Cardio Sculpt* (14yrs+) 1:30-2:20 p.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Zumba* (18yrs+) 11:30a.m.-12:15 p.m. $4.50
Leisure Swim* 9:30a.m.-1:30 p.m. $2.84
Shallow Aquafit 9:30-10:15 a.m. $5.91 youth/senior, $7.84 adult
Water Running – Deep 9:30-10:30 a.m. $2.84
Combo Swim* 10:30a.m.- Noon $2.84
Lap Swim Noon -1:30 p.m. $4.34 youth/senior, $5.75 adult
Fun Swim* 1:30-4 p.m. $2.84

*Family Day Pass Options


Additional Family Day Drop-In Programs

Appleby Ice Centre Family Skate – Pad 3
Sticks & Pucks – Pad 3
Public Skate- Pad 4
Rotary Centennial Pond Public Skate
Aldershot Pool Family Swim
Angela Coughlan Pool Lap Swim
Fun Swim
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Another home invasion in Burlington – police are pretty good at apprehending – are judges being stiff with the sentences?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 14, 2012.  It wasn’t hearts or roses yesterday for two residents on Dryden Avenue.

It was 2:00 am on Valentines Day when four armed people broke through the front door of a Dryden Avenue home and rounded up the two residents of the home – brothers who are both in their 20’s.  The victims were led to the basement and restrained. The suspects assaulted one of the victims and demanded drugs and money.

The house was then ransacked and the bandits began stuffing electronics and other valuables into a duffle bag. It is believed that the presence of police in the neighbourhood resulted in the suspects fleeing and leaving all the property behind, including weapons.

One victim was unharmed and the second victim was treated for minor injuries at Joseph Brant Hospital and has since been released.

Suspects are described as:

1) Male, not white, mid to late 20’s in age, darker skin possibly Latin American, 6’3″, 260-270 lbs, covered face with dark hoodie and pulled dark shirt or scarf up over lower part of face, wore dark clothing and gloves

2) Male, white, mid to late 20’s in age, described as being a “skin head” light coloured possibly blonde short hair, 5’10”, 175 lbs, jeans with a ski jacket, no other identifiable marks, scars or tattoos, did not wear gloves or a mask.

3) Male, Asian, mid to late 20’s in age, 5’9″, 150-160 lbs, wearing brown Timberland boots, grey hoodie pulled down on head, dark shirt or scarf pulled up over lower face, blue jeans, unknown type of gloves.

4) Male, possibly Italian descent, mid to late 20’s in age, 6’0″, 220 lbs, grey hoodie, white scarf or shirt pulled up over lower part of face.

What is it that takes criminals to a specific house on a specific street at 2:00 am in the morning and assaulting the occupants and demanding drugs and cash?  Because they think that’s what’s in the house?  There is some detective work being done around this robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).


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