City council votes 6-1 to sell lakefront property. Public may never know what the selling price will be.

October 16, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  There was a meeting of the Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPAC) in late 2012 , when Michael O’Sullivan passed around a news clipping that was more than 20  years old that told about the legacy project the Council of the day had approved for buildings that would soar more than twenty storeys into the sky less than 200 yards from the pier.  That project should see shovels in the ground early next year.  Most people in Burlington are going to be stunned when they see that building go up.

You wouldn’t know it – but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake. City will now put signage indicating that the land is public. Great views.

It was that same committee, WAPAC, that Les Armstrong and a few others took on the task of walking from North Shore Blvd and King  Road in the west to Burloak in the east and looked at every Window on the Lake the city had in place.  The contents of that report were a bit of a shock.

In location after location this WAPAC sub-committee found there were situations where private individuals had access to the lake that was public but no one knew the property was owned by the city.  There were no signs telling the public that the property belonged to the city.  No one has ever explained why there was no signage telling people they could walk onto the property and enjoy the view.

The WAPAC report got passed along to the city and in time city hall produced a report that focused on what many saw as the most egregious example of public property being made to look like it was private and set out to be most uninviting to any public person in the area.

Those properties were at the foot of Market Street, at the foot of St. Paul Street and a stretch of land next to the lake that was between the two old road allowances.

This road allowance will be tidied up and turned into a window on the Lake. A bench will be put in along with a sign telling the public they can use the space.

The report wasn’t a particularly strong document but it did recommend that the city keep ownership of the property.  Things didn’t work out quite that way and many feel the city is much the poorer for the decision made last night to sell the property to the three private property owners whose homes abut the city owned land.

Nelson Park, a long neglected patch of land will get a significant upgrade. The land on the right hand side will be upgraded and allow the public to get to the edge of the water. City parks people were apparently not fully aware of how that land dipped down to the lake.

Many were stunned at how quickly the deal was done.  The public knew very little about the report and the city did very little to advise and inform people.  General manager Kim Phillips did admit that the city filed to meet its usually high standard of informing the public.  That “usually high standard” was a bit of a stretch.  One of the things former Mayor Cam Jackson did was commission the Shape Burlington report that clearly identified what they called an “information deficit” – and that deficit was clearly visible last night.

But he deal is done.  The city will now direct its staff to meet with the property owners and arrange the sale.  How much will the property be sold for?  You may never know.  The people on the buy side of this sale don’t want you to know and it appears as if the city is not going to tell you.

There is more to tell about a meeting at which 16 people delegated with 11 opposed to the sale of the property and four speaking in favour of a sale or a lease.

City council managed to forget about three or four solid city policies and forgot what they set out in their Strategic Plan less than three years ago.  Odd because the Mayor trots out portions of that Strategic Plan every opportunity he gets.

This bit of business was poorly handled by a city council that failed to live up to its core principles for reasons that are still not clear.

If you want to enjoy this view wander out to what is still public property and set yourself down and take in the sunrise or the sunset. Within six months this will become a private preserve. The land will be sold to three property owners whose land abuts proprty that is owned by the city and the province.

Burlington has a crest with the motto “Stand By”.  Council certainly ‘stood by’  the people who wanted to purchase the property.  As for the rest of the public – they get to see a Window on the Lake created with what Councillor Dennison proposed be minimalist – a bench and a sign.  Don’t want to really encourage people to use the space now do we?

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Fuel truck rolls over on Harvester Road – details sketchy.


October 14, 2013.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Halton Regional Police have been investigating a tractor-trailer rollover on Harvester Road between Appleby Line and Burloak Drive

Harvester Road opening Tuesday morning might be delayed if cleanup is not complete: tanker with fuel and diesel flips over.

At approximately 8:30pm, Monday evening a fuel carrier transport laden with gasoline and diesel fuel rolled onto its side on Harvester Road near Century Drive.  The driver sustained minor injuries and was treated by ambulance.  No other vehicles were involved and the reason for the rollover is still under investigation.

A significant fuel spill has occurred as a result of the collision and containment efforts are still underway.  The road closure is expected to be significant, and could continue into tomorrow morning

Any witness or person with information is asked to contact Detective Constable Chris Heffernan at 905-825-4747 ext. 5420.

Tuesday morning update:Police, Fire and Ministry of the Environment officials continue to work at the location of this roll over.  Investigation of the scene has revealed that spilled fuel may have infiltrated nearby Sheldon Creek.  Area residents and their pets are advised to avoid the waterway until the extent of the spill has been fully assessed. 

Harvester Rd remains closed in both directions while cleanup efforts continue.  It is not expected to reopen for several hours and as a result *will* impact morning commuters at that location (between Appleby Line and Burloak Drive).    


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Will new data convince at least three council members to change their vote on the Water Street land sale?

October 14, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  James Ziegler, a 24 year resident of St. Paul Street was one of four people who delegated at a city council committee meeting speaking in favour of the city retaining the land it owns along the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Streets.

Ziegler is a detail person, he tends to look at the information put in front of him and interact with it rather than react to it.

After delegating and listening to what he thought were very short-sighted views he sent Councillor Sharman (Ward 5) a note which we set out below along with Sharman`s replies.

I’m writing with regard to Water Street properties and the recent  committee meeting on this matter.   I’m disappointed the committee’s  motion on this matter and intend to provide additional comments and new  information to support the merits of a Water Street walkway.   Considering  the nature of your questions it appears you may have a rather fixed view  point and the valuation of this land.  By your questions you appeared to  be less interesting in considering an alternate point view and more  seeking to elicit comments that would support a predetermined position.  I  believe there was a deficiency in objective facts on the matter and trust  that you will listen to these with an open mind.

Goldring also has this chronic desire to either hide behind legal counsel justifying any sensitive decision, or, go ad nauseum through some sort of group hug consensus building process with the same members of the loud minority. You and your colleagues have chosen a short-sighted solution disregarding the need of future generations in Burlington for an expedient answer.   I believe you have been bullied by the threat litigation and very narrow  minded comments from the landowners.  This does not represent the value of  a potential park to the general community.

 Should the council choose to sell this land, they are acting against  several layers of adopted policy and I believe there are grounds for a  class action lawsuit on the matter.  A course of action I will participate  in.

I was appalled by some of the comments of the landowners and some  committee members.   These  statements demonstrated a sour attitude to the  general population and lack of faith in the people in our community.

James Ziegler presented a graphic that illustrated where a paved pathway could be built and the proximity of a pathway to the three houses that abut property currently owned by the city.  The property consists of three parcels: road allowances on each end and the old Water Street road in the centre.  The city has voted, in principle, to sell the land in the middle.  Reason for doing so appears to be financial and some legal history that the city does not want to talk about.

This is a sad reflection of the community I live in.  Councillor Mead Ward  was the sole voice thinking of the value to the public at large about this  matter.  The paternalistic and condescending  comments form Mr. Dennison  and Mr. Taylor were a very poor display of public governance.  In  particular Mr. Dennison pacing the floor behind the chairs as Councillor  Ward spoke to her motion could not have demonstrated any more clearly how he was fixated with his position and not willing to listen to any contrary  idea.  I don’t frequent the proceedings of council but was expecting better. (To be fair to Councillor Dennison, he frequently gets up and paces behind his chair – shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on what is being said or who is speaking.)

 There were other citizens in the room for the committee meeting on Oct. 2  who did not rise to speak however they spoke to me afterwards and  expressed their displeasure in the tone and attitude of the committee  members.

 Regarding the merits of a connected pathway, people on a run, walk or bike  ride are far less likely to go out to a dead-end requiring them to  turn  around and follow back to the original line of travel.   How many times on a run or walk have you chosen to back track on your route?  Likely never  or only when circumstances such as a closed path forced you to.

 The cavalier  comments regarding safety and potential malevolent behavior of  some irresponsible people,  made by the members and landowners were  exaggerations intended to manipulate the argument based on fear.  No  evidence was presented to support these claims. Yet they appeared to be a  significant factor in the decision.   Applying the same criteria and  comments made by the members most parks or large portions of parks in  Burlington and in the Province should be closed to the public. There is no  logic or facts to support these arguments. The police that I have talked  to on this matter do not see this as a significant security problem.  In  fact the opposite is more likely true, a short walkway is safer and easier  to manage than a dead-end. I have also talked to planners and landscape  architects on this matter.  The committee decision flies against  progressive good community planning.

 On the mater of parking for the area, this was a red herring, It  completely missed the point,  It is a  walking pathway.   I will present  the council a map showing the populations served by the Water Street  walkway, within a 1 km range.  To suggest we (several thousand people,  many in apartments and without cars) have ample opportunity to drive to  Spencer Smith park or to crowd into the 50 usable feet of lake edge at  Nelson Park to see the lake is akin to the Marie-Antoinette  comment, “let  them eat cake”  People, the general population, need local  access to the lake within walking distance of their homes.

 I believe you and your colleges have grossly undervalued the  significance of adding over 400 lineal feet of public access to the lake,  compared to the existing 55 lineal feet of accessible frontage at Nelson  park.   You and others referred to this as excessive to put two parks  between 3 houses.  This is misleading to make a measure of scale by  counting the three houses.   I’m sure you will agree the three houses are  much larger than the average size house and lot size in the Burlington  core.  A better measure would be to look at the real dimensions.

Please reflect on the real motive why you voted against the Water Street  walkway and take another look at the matter.   As I said at the committee,  consider this generation and the next three generations that can enjoy the  Water Street walkway.   Consider what kind of city you are contributing to. The Vision in this regard should be thought of in terms of many  decades not the short term fiscal issues.   At the very least leave the  land available to a future council with a greater vision for the public  welfare.   This I use in the true sense of the word, faring well in mind  body and spirit.

 James Ziegler

And what is wrong with ideology?  That is what underpins  our vision and drives progress in our society.  Ideology is behind all transformation of community.   Without it we are rudderless  perhaps making expedient decisions but traveling without a compass.Sharman, the Councillor for Ward 5 responded with:   Mr. Zeigler: Thank you for your email. I appreciate your thoughtful and considered argument. I am curious to hear how you feel about Ms. Meed Ward’s position on not acquiring the properties on the Beachway for park, and perhaps even selling vacant lots to private owners? The fact is that there are inconsistencies in all of the arguments, that is normal because the devil is in the details.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

I understand the higher level motives behind your argument, and in principle I agree. In my experience, in theory everything is practical, in practice it is not. Water Street needs to be resolved now, punting the decision to a future time is simply not helpful. We have parks we don’t maintain. And while I would love to have a path along the waterfront, the properties with riparian rights in the area of Water Street will not allow for further extension of such a pathway.

Councillor Sharman with Councilor Blair Lancaster. Sharman has dug himself into an ideological argument that he probably cannot get out of. Lancaster liked the sound of leasing the land and might be convinced to change her vote.

Each opportunity is evaluated on its own merits. The Water Street properties do not need to kept by the City just to satisfy a higher level ideology. The City policy is clear about acquisition of waterfront property when it is practical and logical to do so. Your view and that of Ms. Meed Ward versus the views of 5 of my colleagues and I are different. It happens.

Sharman is an avid cyclist. Were he to cycle through the pathway Ziegler proposes he would in all likelihood pause along the path and marvel at the view and tell himself – this is why I am a city Councillor of this city.

Besides, I am concerned that the location is so obscure that very few people will actually benefit, apart from the malcontent youth.  The proposal is to have two parkettes and to maintain the existing park 200 yards away. That will work quite fine. The City does not need to spend a pile of money to satisfy just a few people. We have bigger matters to address.


Ziegler probably took in a deep breath after the Sharman response but soldiered on and replied with:

Dear Councillor Sharman:  Thank you for your reply.  I’ve forwarded your comments to my neighbours.   I don’t consider this a matter of ideology, for myself and my neighbours and our families it is a very practical matter.   This in not in the realm of conceptual notions.   It would be an aspect of many people’s daily lives.

I hope we will be able to convince you that this walkway will be a significant contribution with the potential to be enjoyed by many.   I see that you have some challenges to appreciate the importance of creating a 400 ft. walkway.   It will be linked to the walk along Lakeshore and the fact that adjacent lands will not be available makes it all the more important to create portions that are accessible.  

You may not be a frequent walker or runner so you may not appreciate the value of a linked pathway.  I hope my friends and neighbours will help to change your opinion.

James Ziegler.

Later in the weekend Ziegler passed along several of the graphic illustrations he plans to use during his delegation on Tuesday evening.

There are an estimated 4500 people within a 100 metre radius of the pathway James Ziegler proposes be created along the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Street.

He then takes on the view that there aren’t that many people in the immediate area who would use the pathway parkette that is proposed and provides a graph to make his point.

Ziegler and his neighbours realize that they face a steep uphill battle.  Meed Ward is close to despondent – she just doesn’t see a 4-3 in favour of keeping the land or leasing it.  She would need three more votes – the Mayor is a possible, Lancaster is a possible as well.  Craven would rather die than vote with Meed Ward and both Taylor and Dennison see the revenue that a sale would being and they want those dollars for infrastructure work.

Several council members went on about the amount of park space on the eastern side of the city.  The Water street property is one of the few areas where parkland can be created.  The western side of the city has much more park space.  Will these arguments make a difference?

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Air line security and knitting needles – is there a connection?

October 14, 2013

By Gordana Liddell 

BURLINGTON, ON.  Travel has been different since the tragic attack on New York and Washington in September of 2001.  Public safety took on a whole new meaning as airlines in particular increased security which meant a much closer look at the people who boarded air[planes and what they carried on with them.  The rules imposed at times seem confusing and some feel perhaps a little silly.  Well  just what can you take aboard a plane and what should you pack and not pack?

Asha of Burlington asked:

Harmless in the hands of your sweet Grandmother – but how does security know she’s a sweet little old lady?

Recently, my 80-year-old mother’s knitting needles were taken away at airport security.  I think it’s ridiculous.  She’s a senior citizen.  What do they think she is going to do with knitting needles?

Dear Asha,

The first thing to remember is to not take it personally.  The airlines and airport authority are only trying to do all they can to ensure passenger safety.  They have rules they need to follow – without the option of discretion.  It’s safest that way.

Think of it this way if you like:  it’s not assumed that passengers will do nothing.  Even your 80-year-old mom.  This thinking is, what if this person is a psycho?  Or what if the person sitting next to her is a psycho and gets a hold of those knitting needles?  Or what if she drops them and they roll down a few rows into the hands of the psycho sitting in 3B?  Yes…in order to ensure the safety of all those passengers enclosed in that metal tube darting through the sky…everyone is viewed as being a potential psycho.

You just never know what anyone is going to do at any given moment.  And normally, people just go about their lives without going ballistic.  But if they do go off, it’s usually easy for us to gain some distance.  Up in the sky however, this is not possible, and so it is imperative to completely avoid any potential danger.

I realize it seems silly to you, and we are all aware that your mom intended to use the knitting needles to knit.  But when she is on an airplane, think of them as eleven inch metal spikes rather than crafting tools.  It’s not a public space where we are free to do as we please.  There are rules set in place that we must follow and to try and dispute them is pointless.

I once had an enraged passenger come to me because security had turned her away.  They would not let her bring her bullwhip on board as carry-on and she was just outraged.  She told me it was ridiculous and screamed at me, “What do you think I am doing to do on a plane with a bullwhip?  Whip someone?!”  I was almost speechless; struck by the simplicity of what she just said…but what had obviously escaped her.  I did manage to get out an, “I have no idea.”

And that is the truth.  You have no idea what anyone will do, and on an airplane, it’s just best to prohibit any item that might pose any possible danger.

That September 11th changed the world and certainly changed airline security procedures. Box cutter, bombs in a diaper and a bomb in a shoe are the attempt we know about. Knitting needles in the wrong hands would be lethal.

Look at an item in terms of its basic form…not in terms of its use.  There is no difference between trying to board with knitting needles or a bullwhip, handcuffs or fuel or box cutters or any number of potentially dangerous things people try and innocently carry onto planes on a daily basis.  Nobody thinks the person carrying them WOULD use them for ill intent.  But for the safety of others, the WHAT IF must be considered and general rules must be made and enforced.

The next time you or your mom travel and plan to do some knitting on the way, check with the specific airline you are travelling with.  Every country and airline has their own security guidelines, and these are constantly being updated. 

The smaller, rounder tipped needles as well as the circular knitting needles are usually okay.  The smaller and the more blunt they are, the more likely they will pass through security without a problem.  Anything sharp and pointy should be avoided as a general rule.  Common sense goes a long way. 

Once again, don’t take it personally.  They are just looking out for everyone’s safety as best they can. 

Gordana Liddell is our resident travel writer.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, a travel industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience as a freelance travel writer, and most recently book editor. She is fortunate enough to live right here in Burlington with her family.


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Is this a site for just a few or will it be retained for all? Citizens could be the ones to decide.

October 12, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It usually comes down to the money – you sell what you have if things are kind of tight or you bank a couple of bucks when you’re flush.

Will this view exist for a couple of families or will it be one that can be shared by anyone who wants to walk down to the waterfront and just sit and enjoy the view. Citizens could be the ones to determine what happens with this land.

As Burlington rolls towards putting together its 2013-2014 budget Council knows where the shortfalls are and they know all too well what the tax revenue problems are as well – and they are not good.

The city has a serious shortfall on the Industrial, Commercial, Institution side that can get made up in a couple of way: raise the residential, cut costs or find new money and that property on the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Street looked really tempting – so tempting that they took the opportunity to sell that land and ideally use some of it to offset that massive underfunding on the infrastructure.

Two of the strongest proponents for selling the land are guys that have been on Council for more than 20 years each – they need to take some responsibility for the infrastructure deficit – they let it build up.

Having done that they are now prepared to sell of lake front property and hide behind the argument that the city doesn’t need another park in that part of town.

There was once a very strong community organization called SOW – Save our Waterfront. They had more than 2000 members who paid to be members of the organization.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has always worked with groups of people in the community. Here she works with some of the Friends of Freeman Station. It was her initiative along with support from Councillor Lancaster that put a top to the city selling the building for scrap. Freeman Station was saved – can Meed Ward do the same with part of the waterfront.

If there was ever a time to get out that crowd and make their views known to this city council this is it for that crowd.  The fight to keep the land is being led by Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.  SOW was very much a part of her election as a city councillor.  They were a force to contend with – do they have anything left?

This council will fold if 50 people protest – get 500 down to city hall and one might well see a different outcome.

We are into a lovely fall weekend, the weather is going to bless us and one of the days is called Thanksgiving Day.

Some on Council might be thankful that this little windfall of a property sale of prime city has come along and can solve the serious budget short fall for which they will choose to be thankful. Others in the city might use the Thanksgiving Day to talk to neighbours and friends and ask each other – is this what we want.

The public is seldom wrong.  There is an opportunity to plan and then present yourselves to the people you elected and let them know what you want.

You can also do that by doing nothing.  That too will be a message.

Part 1 of waterfront property sale background

Part 2 of waterfront property sale background


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Hit and Run at Lakeside Plaza in east Burlington – female victim stable at trauma unit.

October 12, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Police need more information to solve hit and run incident that took place Thursday afternoon when an  85-year-old Burlington woman was struck by a vehicle while walking across the parking lot at the Lakeside Plaza located on Lakeshore Road between Kenwood Avenue and Hampton Heath Road in Burlington. 

The collision occurred within the parking lot north of the main Lakeshore Road entrance in the southbound lane. The vehicle failed to remain at the scene of the collision. 

The impact caused the pedestrian to hit her head off the ground causing serious head injuries.  The female was initially taken to Joseph Brant Hospital but was later transferred to a trauma centre where she is in serious but stable condition. 

Police are seeking information from any witnesses to the collision, or witnesses that came to the aid of the injured pedestrian.    Witnesses can call the Halton Regional Police Collision Reconstruction Unit at 905-825-4747 ext 5065, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (Crimes). 

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Is Canada finding it hard to stomach some of the Commonwealth members?

October 10th, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON. One thing for sure about civil war is that it is never that – civil.  Whether we look back to the US civil war, Northern Ireland, Russia’s Chechnya, Rwanda, Syria or Sri Lanka, these conflicts were/are bloody and deadly.  There is something deeply personal about these family feud conflicts which engenders a certain zeal and passion, bringing out the worst in human-kind, and making human rights the first and last casualties.   So even after the fighting is over, the war continues, as the victor seeks to extinguish the lingering flames of revolution. 

Tamil Tiger – the political disruption has been going on for a long, long time. Canada now has the largest number of Tamil’s outside Sri Lanka.

Our prime minster is right to be outraged with the magnitude of what is still going on in Sri Lanka. But the conflict in that country is complicated, as is always the case.  Sri Lanka is a bilingual nation, not unlike Canada, and the Tamil quest for independence should make us all appreciate how close we came back in 1970, when our own terrorist Tamil Tigers, the FLQ, threatened the unity of this nation.  Recall that Trudeau, too, had been criticized for violating human rights by introducing the ‘War Measures Act’ which effectively disposed of the FLQ.   Like Sri Lanka, our issues of national unity also have their origins in the ashes of a well-meaning British colonial rule.

 Canada, as a modern developed nation, has a dominant position in the British Commonwealth and is also a significant source of funds for the organization.    So what we do and what we say should matter.  And if it doesn’t, perhaps we are not saying it effectively.  Leadership is about getting others to follow you, and so far Mr. Harper is alone in boycotting the next Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka. So what is behind his strategy?

 If we take Harper’s statement at his word, that this is all about human rights, then why was he just in Malaysia, concluding a big deal with those human rights violators.  In fact, if he were really that pious about human rights he might want to avoid the US, which is still operating its former torture facility in Cuba.  And, perhaps he needs to reflect on his own ‘glass house’ before casting stones, since it is likely the UN will be weighing in on human rights offenses alleged by our own aboriginal population.

 But will it make a difference?  Will Sri Lanka stop its human rights violations if the PM boycotts the meeting?  Trudeau and Mulroney played a key role in eliminating Apartheid in South Africa by engaging the rest of the membership, showing leadership and being there.  Can we really improve human rights in Sri Lanka by ‘taking our ball and staying home’?

 One of the purposes of the Commonwealth is to deal with issues like this between and within member nations.     There are committees, such as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, where joint action, as was the case of South Africa, could be initiated.  Options include sanctions and expulsion of the delinquent nation form the Commonwealth.  If anything, the PM’s presence, not his absence, is what is most needed.

The Commonwealth of Nations: Has Prime Minister Harper given up on this lot?

It may be poor advice from the bureaucrats at the foreign affairs office which is driving the PM in this confusing and ill-conceived direction.  Or it might be something else – such as political opportunism.  The Tamil-Canadian population has grown to over a quarter of a million since the early 1980’s, making Canada home to the largest number of Tamil Diaspora.   The majority of this immigration settled in and around Toronto, an area the federal Conservatives would love to own after the next election.   And this PM is not afraid to use Canada’s international policy to try to attract voters to his party, as we have seen by his unquestioning support of Israel’s war actions since he first came to office. 

 Then why not just quit the British Commonwealth all together?  If Harper is saying he’d rather stay home than be at the table with a single errant Commonwealth member, then why not just quit the British Commonwealth all together?  There will always be errant members.  But Stephen Harper is unlikely to do that, the staunch monarchist that he is.  After all he renamed our military ‘Royal’, replaced the maple leaf with old British motifs, stuck the Queen’s picture in all our foreign embassies, and is loath to remove the oath to the Queen.   So perhaps the Commonwealth is just not good enough for our revisionist PM.  Perhaps he’d prefer to bring back the good old British Empire. 

 Ray Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office and held executive positions with Liberal Party riding associations.  He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

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How city council managed to vote to sell waterfront lands and what some people want to do about that.

Part 2 of a two part article on the selling of waterfront property

Part 1

Salt with Pepper – Opinion

October 8, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The public now has a fuller picture of what is at risk in the possible sale of land it owns on the lake’s edge between Market and St. Paul Streets, south of Lakeshore Road, where there is a patch of road that was the old Water Street road allowance.  Water Street was once the city’s most southerly road.

Council was working from a Staff Report that came as the result of a Staff Direction Ward 1 Councillor Meed Ward asked for in 2012. That direction was to:  Direct the Manager of Realty Services to report back to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee regarding the portion of Water Street located between St. Paul Street and Market Street providing the background and history and options available to the city.  Staff came back with three options

Option #1: Create a city parkette: connecting the St. Paul Street and Market Street road allowances.

 Option # 2:  Develop Windows-on-the-Lake at St. Paul and Market streets and retain ownership with an exclusive lease to the abutting landowners until required for public use.

 Option # 3: Develop Windows-on-the-Lake at the foot of Market and St. Paul streets and dispose (sell) of the Water Street parcel.

The graphic sets out the land that is under discussion by city Council. The piece in the middle is what residents abutting this land want to buy from the city. The pieces on the left and the right are road allowances the city also owns.

Option #1 would have the city purchasing Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) portions of the waterfront between the St. Paul’s and Market Street road allowances and using that land along with the old Water Street road allowance to create a new waterfront parkette.  The residents who paid for the sea wall that was built some twenty years ago were to be paid for what they spent.

Option # 2 would be to preserve land for future public use by purchasing the MNR land and retaining ownership of the land the city already owns then entering into lease agreements with the owners that abut that land.  The two pieces of land on the east and west sides would be turned into Windows-on-the-Lake.

Option #3 would dispose (sell) of the Water Street land and still develop the Windows-on-the-Lake on the East and West sides of the site where the city owns the road allowance.

As is the practice in Burlington, the public can delegate and give council their views on the report being considered.

Bob Wingfield, a long time Burlington resident

There were four delegations: Bob Wingfield speaking for Burlington Waterfront, a community group that works out of the offices of ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, James Ziegler, a 24 year St. Paul Street resident, Janice Connell and her husband Mike Swartz who live on Lakeshore with property looking out over the lake and Byron Kaczmarek who lives several doors east of Nelson park and has no financial interest in what happens to the land being discussed.  He did have very strong views on the kind of behavior at Nelson Park.

Bob Wingfield brought that solid conservative typically Burlington approach to the issue and suggested that the objective should be to give the public all the access possible to the lake. He spoke of unimpeded access which has not been the case for many, many years.  “The public does not know they can walk to the water’s edge on some pieces of property the city owns.  There are no signs indicating that the property is public.”  At the foot of St. Paul there is a large boulder with a street number on it leaving the clear impression that this is private land.  The old Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee did a survey of every piece of land the city owns from King Road through to Burloak and put on the public record how many instances there were of the public being kept off land they had a right to be on.

Wingfield was for option 1, keep the land and developed it into a parkette – although not in the immediate future – perhaps five years or more into the future.  Wingfield said he could live with option 2 which was to lease the piece of land in the middle and create windows onto the lake at Market and St. Paul Street.   Wingfield wanted to see public access capacity the lake’s  edge grow.  He felt the current land owners should not be disrupted and that change should come about in an orderly manner which he saw as expansion over the passage of time.

At least one of the property owners actually encroaches on city land – these are very minor encroachments but encroachments nevertheless.

Mayor Goldring asked what Wingfield thought the timing of bringing the property into public use might be.  Three to five years perhaps.  ”What`s wrong with today” asked the Mayor.

Councillor Dennison didn’t see it that way and made the bold statement that there was never going to be a waterfront trail through the area.  The best option for the city, he said, was to sell the land between the road allowances to the owners of property that adjoins it and develop public spaces at the ends of the road allowances.

The property owners loved that idea.

The Swartz/Connell residence is the only one of the three properties that abut the city land along the waterfront that runs from Lakeshore Road right through to the lake. The other two properties have houses between them and LAkeshore Road.

Janice Connell whose property adjoins the city owned land delegated for herself and the other two property owners who are directly impacted by the purchase or lease of what is now city and provincially owned land.

Connell’s complaint was of the nuisance and noise that came from rowdy young people who did whatever you can imagine at the bottom of St. Paul particularly but at the bottom of Market as well. 

She made reference to the graffiti – and there is some.  Very little actually and it isn’t visible unless you are on the water.  She complained that because the land is not visible from the street it doesn’t get decent police patrol.  Wouldn’t take much more than a letter to the police from the Mayor or the city manager to solve that problem.  Get the police officers out of their cars and do a walk around – it’s not more than 125 yards overall.

Janice Connell spoke for herself and her neighbours at the council committee meeting last week. The neighbours are seated behind Ms Connell

Connell told the Committee that someone was once skate boarding along the top of the breakwater.  Actually skateboarding?  That is a massive stretch.  I walked that stone breakwater and it is quite a drop to the water’s edge.  It is literally impossible to skateboard over the ground.  I had some difficulty walking without stumbling.  It is a very significant drop from the top of the breakwater to the lake and when you get to the bottom there are a lot of rocks.  The height down however is less than a drop from the pier and a heck of a lot less than a drop from the edges of Kerncliffe Park.

What Connell/Swartz did was raise every hairy dog argument  they could find to push their point – which by the way is their right.  They want that property and they will argue as hard as they can to convince this council to give it sell it to them.

The argument that there are no site lines to any parkette is true – there are many park places in this city where there is not clear site line.  However, this is a very small area – less than a 200 yard walk from one side to the other.  It would give police officer a little exercise and fresh air to get out of their cars and walk the area each time a cruiser is on patrol.  It would also give the police officers an opportunity to take in the wonderful view that the three property owners enjoy every hour of every day.

When one is making an appeal you put the best face you’ve got forward and the property owners chose well.  Connell was perky, spoke well, and was able to get a chuckle out of council on occasion.  She felt “blessed” to live where she lives.  The money to be able to buy the property didn’t hurt either.  She answered the questions and gave very detailed answers to questions and put her own spin on the answers she gave.  She was good at it – that’s why she was chosen to be the front person.  Advertisers do that all the time – put a pretty face out front  and use the words and the images you need to make your point.

Early in her presentation Connell said that the old Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee created the notion that this was public land and traffic increased considerably.  That the land is public was not a notion – it is a fact.  For many years no one knew that the land was public – and the property owners loved that.  Their neighbour, James Zeigler pointed out that for years these people had the use of the land without paying as much as a penny.

Connell told Council that “three or four nights of every summer evening we would call the police”.  She said she thought it virtually impossible to secure with a fence

“One of the things that hasn’t been calculated” explained Connell, “ is the potential cost of a court case  – because that’s what the landowners would probably end up doing – not that we want to.”

Janice Connell after delegating to city council i committee – She thinks she just might have nailed it!

In closing  Connell said, “we really want to buy this land” and leasing is really not an option”.

Meed Ward wanted to know what the grounds for a court case would be.  Connell wasn’t prepared to take that one on – so she asked if her husband could speak.  Out came the big guns: Mike Swartz a very, very successful banker made it very clear that the property owners were prepared to bring in legal counsel which they had already retained – and who might have been in the Council Chamber taking it all in.

Mike Swartz, delivering a very hard message to city council. We don’t want to sue but we will if we have to. They have already retained legal counsel.

Swartz said, when asked what the grounds were for a court case: “I would never divulge that at this time but you have to understand that we that we do have significant monetary and historical arguments that could and would be presented.”  He added that the rationale exists to solve this tonight in a very equitable basis for everyone involved.

That solution – sell us the land.

There it was – the chilly wind of a court case had been put out there and if Connell’s mention was not enough her husband Mike Swartz drove the point home.

James Ziegler delegated next.  He has lived on St. Paul for 24 years and he was for keeping ownership of the land in the city’s hands and perhaps leasing it to the three houses that abut that piece of the property.  He was for not selling the city property even though if it were turned into a parkette with a trail through it everyone who used the trail would walk or bicycle by his house on St. Paul.

James Ziegler;er. a resident whose property does not abut the land under discussion but who does live on St. Paul Street along the road allowance produced a map showing where he thinks the city should put in a walking path that would run through the road allowances and the property that some residents want to purchase. Ziegler wants as much public access as possible.

In comments made after his delegation Ziegler said “I’m glad the committee agreed to the windows to the lake on Market St. and St. Paul Street.   I also appreciated that Councillor Mead Ward made the motion and spoke to option one – keeping the land and developing it into a parkette.   

“It was unfortunate that most of the other members were unswayed by the  presentations and comments of city staff and that they could not at least preserve the Water Street lands for a future council to consider.  They appear to be entrenched with the status quo and fearful of the threat of litigation by the two land owners.   

“It’s a lack  of vision for the long term public good driven by near term financial conservatism ruled by the 0.1% of the population.   Unfortunate also for the  many thousands of other citizens of Burlington within walking distance of the former Water Street road allowance who could have enjoyed a larger view to the lake.”

After all the delegations Council let itself begin to believe that the city didn’t need any more parkland in the area – that there was more than enough with Nelson Park just three houses over from St. Paul, the most easterly street.

Nelson Park isn’t a very big park and comes nowhere near meeting the needs of the community.  Were one to look at City View Park and the park the city wants to see developed in the Beachway – what exists at Nelson is puny.

But the need for a new park was not the issue.  Hear how your council failed to grasp what the issue really is.  Councillor Sharman said this was “an ideological issue”, suggesting that Meed Ward has an approach to what the long term future of the city is about that is not in sync with what most people in Burlington want.

Mayor Goldring chimed in a few minutes later and agree that it was an ideological issue.

Meed Ward kept pointing to the regional Official Plan, the city’s Official Plan and the Strategic Plan as well.  Mayor Goldring managed to find a way to explain that the city didn’t have to worry about getting more waterfront land in the future because if there ever was any development along the edge of the water the developer would have to dedicate some of land being developed as a park allowance.

Councillors Dennison and Taylor let themselves get tied up with the costs that might be involved.  There is a very, very minimal cost to the city to keep the land – maintenance, $7500 a year, which Meed Ward said she could fund out of her Council expense account.

Dennison mentioned several times that the homes have been in place for 90 to 100 years – and perhaps they were.  Certainly not in the name of the same owners.

There is a very, very minimal cost to the city to keep the land – maintenance, $7500 a year, which Meed Ward said she could fund out of her Council expense account.Part of the problem with the debate was that the Staff Report left something to be desired.  This issue has never been one that staff was welcomed; they saw the issue as a major mess that was going to get dumped on their desks.

Staff was certainly for retaining the land – they just knew that when it gets really tough the crap is going to land on them because the majority of Council is not prepared to make the hard decisions.

In 1985 a Burlington city council approved the building of a 22 story building right on the edge of the lake where the Riviera Motel was located.  They will break ground for that structure late this years or early next and Burlington will see three building on Lakeshore that rise 22, 8 and 7 storeys high.  At the time, back in 1985, the project was to be a legacy for the city.

Things change and no one can say with any certainty what Lakeshore Road will look like 50 years from mow.  A number of people, most with vested interests in obtaining the property or not wanting to see a park in the area said there would never be a trail along the water’s edge in that part of the city.

The existing Waterfront  Trail and the Bruce trail suggest that kind of thinking just doesn’t hold up.

There was next to nothing in terms of cost to the city, there are millions ($9.7 million to be exact) in the city’s Park’s Reserve fund.

With delegations done Council members get to ask staff questions on the report that was being debated.

Councillor Dennison had put a cost of $2 to $3 million dollars as what this was going to cost the city.  Meed Ward asked staff if this was the number they were using.  Ron Steiginga, Manager  Realty Services, responded with “that is not our number”.

This issue is mired with all kinds of legal history, most of which Council was not prepared to share with the public.  There was a Court case some time ago where a purchaser sued a buyer of property in this immediate area and a Judge rendered a decision that has really muddied things.  Decisions in Court cases are public and the city has these decisions – they, for reasons of their own, are not prepared to share the information they have.  That kind of information management makes it very difficult for residents to make an informed decision.... for reasons of their own, are not prepared to share the information they have.  That kind of information management makes it very difficult for residents to make an informed decision.

After listening to the delegations Meed Ward put forward a motion to have the city go with the first option which was to not sell the land but to develop it as a parkette.  Meed Ward explained that she considered option # 2, leasing the land, but felt the issue had to be dealt with now to at least give the property owners some clarity as to just what they have and don’t have and what they can expect from their city.

With the motion on the floor Councillor Sharman, who was chair of the committee, moved that Council go into Closes Session to hear what the city lawyers had to say.  They were in closed session for close to an hour and were fully briefed on what past legal history was all about.

One of the things about decisions Judges make is they can be appealed and changed.  You the public have no idea what these decisions are – but you can bet your very last dollar that the people who have said they are quite prepared to sue the city and force them to sell the land, have copies of those court decisions.  They have the financial means to get copies of the transcripts of the trials and the legal talent to explain what the options are and where there might be some loopholes.

It was easier for this city council to take the position that the city doesn’t need another park in that part of the city and even if they did – the city doesn’t have the money needed to put in another park.

Their position was to upgrade Nelson Park, make the road allowances at the foot of Market and St. Paul Windows on the Lake, which should have been done years ago, and hope they can get away with it.

Once Council was out of Closed Session Dennison announced that he had an amendment to Meed Ward’s motion.  There was a procedural kafuffle that called for Council to vote on the Meed Ward motion first and then the Dennison amendment.

Meed Ward lost her motion – six to one.   No one else voted with her.

That then put the Dennison motion on the table which was to sell the land and do a little work on the Market Street and St. Paul Street road allowances.

The Mayor didn’t think the park was necessary at this point in time.

Councillor Craven claimed he was a big supporter of parks and reminded council that “muddled decisions get us in trouble”.  He reminded Council that “we cannot ignore the reality of the legal history” and then pointed to the problems at 710 Spring Garden Road where there are parks right next to private property which creates all kinds of problems in his ward.

Craven saw this as a “unique and isolated” piece of property and said there was “no hope that we are ever going to connect this to some other piece of property”   For Craven putting a parkette in this space was impractical and cumbersome.

Councillor Taylor saw the issue a one of how many parks does a neighbourhood need.  He said he doesn’t know of any other section of the city where there three parks within six houses of each other – which is stretching the reality somewhat.

Taylor also reminded Council that there was a massive ($160 million)  infrastructure deficit facing the city and that we have just five years to figure out how we are going to manage this.

His position was that he could not support a park now or in the future and was going to support the Dennison motion and get something for the land.

Councillor Lancaster said the Meed Ward motion assumed there was a need for the parks.  She said she understood the need to preserve the land for the future and thought that leasing the land was a reasonable solution.

When staff was asked Rob Peachey,  Manager Facilities, Parks and Recreation said he believed Burlington should preserve the land for the future.  He added that development patterns frequently change and there might at some point be a continuous path along the water’s edge.

The issue of intensification came up – many said it was not likely to happen in that part of town when it is already happening.  The two-plexes that exist on St. Paul have been upgraded to four plexes – that sounds like intensification to me – and – just a little further east on Lakeshore Councillor Dennison has a case going to the OMB arguing for the right to severe a piece of his property into a second lot he will sell.  Sounds like intensification to me.

Vandalism and noise came up again and again. Councillor Sharman said Council has no influence on the way people behave and that he didn’t think Council had the right to make a decision that was going to make the lives of the people in the old Water Street part of the town miserable.

Meed Ward countered with “we cannot let the behaviour of some of our young people determine how we use our parks resources”.

So there it was a 6-1 vote with Meed Ward once again standing her groundMeed Ward  “we cannot let the behaviour of some of our young people determine how we use our parks resources”.d.  The issue comes to city council on the 15th for a final vote.

James Ziegler is apparently not a man to trifle with nor does he appear to give in easily.  He intends to prepare revised drawings  and have some of his neighbours attend and delegate.

Ziegler is trying to dig out police reports on just how many complaints there have been about behavior at Nelson Park as well as at the other Windows on the Lake in the city.

One group has recommended any city decision to sell the land be challenged with a class action law suit on the grounds that the city has failed to follow its own policies, the regional policy and failed to act in the public good.  That would be an interesting argument and apparently there is someone prepared to fund some lawyer to take the case.

Zeigler sees any decision to sell any of the land as a short-sighted decision depriving the citizens of their rights to improved access to the lake one that effects many future generations.  

Council can expect to see a map showing the lineal footage of lake view that a Water Street park would provide compare to the available footage of the other access points along lakeshore east of the downtown. This will show that is it not such a small park.

Expect to see a population map showing the numbers of households and estimated population within a 2Km distance of the park.    Expect to see a drawing showing some actual dimensions.  Committee was told this was a small park between three houses leaving a false impression.  The “houses” are mansions with very large lots.  

This fight is not over yet.

Where is the old Save our Waterfront group in all this?  They were said to be several thousand strong with representation in every ward in the city.  Will we see them out in force?

What I found interesting about the way this committee meeting went was how Council members took the word of Connell/Swartz as if it was all perfectly true and completely factual.  This is not to suggest they were lying – they were giving their version f the truth.  I want to suggest there are other versions of the truth out there and that this city council needs to hear and respond to those other version as well and not be quite so quick to sell city land that wealthy people want.

Somehow during a few hours on a Wednesday evening of last week, city council lost their way and went along with the selling of the property when there was no pressing reason to do so.

What was particularly disappointing was that the two most senior members of council, Taylor and Dennison, men with 22 and 20 years at the council table,  voted to sell the land.  One would have hoped that they, of all people, would have understood the thinking and feelings the people of Burlington have for their waterfront.  Perhaps that many years as Council members had addled their brains.  Term limits begin to make sense.

The matter will come to a city council meeting for final approval.  Perhaps there will be enough phone calls and emails to bring this council to their senses.

Councillor Meed Ward stood alone in voting for either keeping the property or leasing it out to the residents until the city figures out what it wants to do.

Rob Peachey, Manager Facilities, Parks and Recreation told the old Waterfront Advisory Committee that waterfront access was not his favourite file – now we know why.

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Moxie at its best – the guy has managed to fill the Performing Arts Centre and he isn’t even going to be on the stage.

October 10, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  If you hustle hard enough, if you promote and promote and promote marketing objectives can be met.

700 people – a networkers idea of heaven – all at the Performing Arts Centre Thursday evening.

James Burchill has done that with his Social Fusion Network and has managed to get more than 700 people to register for his trade show event taking place at the Performing Arts Centre this evening.

Was it the $500 cash prize he put up?  Was it the opportunity to meet with 700 people in one location without spending a dime?  Or is it that Thursday is just a quiet day and there was really nothing else to do in town.

Whichever, it will be interesting to see how much buzz there is in the room this evening.  The guy has done something right.

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Why does your city council want to sell waterfront property rather than create a stunning lake front parkette?

A two part series on the selling of waterfront land owned by the city

Part 1

Part 2

October 7, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Our city Council is adrift.  They have lost their way.  Six of the seven council members, the ones that talk about the jewel on the lake and the need to give the public access to the lake, last week put up their hands to approve, in principle, selling waterfront land to a very small group of residents.

A portion of the land at the foot of St. Paul Street that city council wants to sell the private property owners instead of putting in a park they say the community doesn’t need.

These Council members have lost sight of one of the guiding principles behind every policy the city has – save as much of the waterfront as possible, stop the quarrying on the Escarpment and keep highways out of north Burlington.

This Council is prepared to basically obliterate a functioning, albeit small,  community to create a massive park but seems prepared to actually sell of a small strip of land that is right next to the water.  It’s not a very long strip of land but it is land, and as a Texas land owner once said: “Sister, don’t give up the land. They are not making land anymore.”  But your city council doesn’t see it that way

Burlington spent millions on the City View Park, the biggest in the city, in a part of town few people get to, but prefers to sell land rather than have a small parkette on the waterfront.  That is dumb.Despite layer upon layer of policy from the province, the Region and city hall – this Council decided they should sell the property to the three residents who want to buy. 

In selling the land the city is selling the birthright of every citizen and that of all future citizens.  They are not selling the blood of the city – they are selling the bone marrow, for once that land is sold it will take more guts than anyone in this city has ever had get it back.  Burlington will be forever changed – all because six people you elected don’t feel the city needs another park.

Councillor Taylor said the city already has enough parkland.  Not in that part of the city, but that’s not the point.  There is a large goal, a larger objective and that is to get as much of the lakefront land in the hands of the city so that it can be made available to the public.

There is nothing wrong with people owning property on the lake front.  They bought and paid for it and it is theirs to use as they wish.  At some point that property will be back on the market and the city can, if it so chooses, look for ways to add to the land bank that will at some point in the future allow for more space for people to walk along the edge of the lake just the way they do now walk along Spencer Smith Park and the way they go out to the pier –  in droves.

The Pier – remember – it was the “Mistake on the Lake”; hundreds wanted it torn down.  Today there is hardly an hour of the day when people aren’t out there.

The trail through what is now Beachway Park – that was once a railway line.  In the early 1900’s few would have thought the rail lines would be torn out and a walking path put in.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The want to sell it.

We kept hearing people say that there would never be a real waterfront trail along all of the edge of Lake Ontario.  Perhaps not in our lifetimes – but if the city keeps the land that it has and adds to what it has over time this city might have a waterfront like that in Chicago.

The Bruce Trail started out as an idea and look what they’ve done with that vision.

The issue is less than half an acre of land – but like everything about property it is location, location, location.

To vote to sell this strip of land is to forget about what Burlington is all about. Should the vote done at Committee be approved at Council on the 15th a part of the waterfront we now own will have been lost for a very long time, probably forever – because six clowns chose to forget what the city is really about – the waterfront.

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Eat this, don’t eat that! Wow – all these rules. Will they make a difference?

October 8, 2013

By Dr. Jeremy Hayman

BURLINGTON, ON.  On the heels of my last submission on food as medicine and its real impact on all aspects of health, I now find it necessary to give readers a glimpse into food as choice and exactly what it is we are feeding ourselves, our children, and our loved ones each day. I’m not lecturing those of you who chose to eat a certain way, or those who consume certain foods by what I refer to as “dietary default”. My intention rather is to put what we know about food, on the table, and remind us all about the importance, impact and value of not only what we put into our bodies, but what we ultimately leave out.

I’m referring to those who consume foods without truly thinking about what or why they consume the foods they do. The term “dietary default” refers to a multitude of references when it comes to our association and relationship with food. Within the context of this discussion, I’m referring to those who consume foods without truly thinking about what or why they consume the foods they do. And out of fairness, it also stoutly refers to foods the average population so simply shy’s away from and leaves out. To delve into this even further, it refers to those who almost automatically follow a routine eating regimen, eat the same foods week to week, and most importantly, rarely, if ever, truly think about the impact of what they eat, or how it will ultimately consume them in the short and long haul with respect to health.

Advertising plays a large role in what we decide to east.

It has become glaringly obvious that societal impact grossly influences the choices and food we ultimately serve on our plates. Yet, with the ever so abundant “way of life” when it comes to our choices (or lack of) with respect to diet and food, the unmistakable contrary reflection also positions itself just as clear and states: “those who do choose what and how they wish to live in harmony with food, do so with absolute clarity and passion, and make it a way of life in order to maintain and pursue continued improvement toward better health”.

We know food affects health. We are also becoming more and more aware of which foods are most important, which are not, and which of the same foods contend as healthier choices over others. Some of us default to the convenient way and eat within the “fast food peril” of life. While others, albeit a smaller, yet ever-growing movement of people, place food and its nutritional value as one of  the most prominent elements in life. These people live “against the grain” in terms of what society dictates we should eat. These are the people who won’t simply surrender to the “conveniences” of today’s living, and make it a true effort to do what is necessary in order to preserve the short and long term health of themselves as well of those they love. What do I mean by this? Well let’s serve it up in the most simple, succinct, digestible way…

... you can and will feel better, stress less, live healthier ...With the overwhelming amount of mass media making use of its privilege to feed us its messages on what/what not to eat, how to eat, when to eat, why to eat, where to eat etc., it’s no wonder there’s an endless endeavor to try and figure it all out. Let alone pressures from others on our way of eating, we end up living in a whirlwind of relentless persuasions about what is best for ourselves and others.  I’m here, as a Naturopathic Doctor, within a profession strictly to support and better the health of those that can be reached, and without alternative motives, to do what I can to lay it out, in plain English, what it is we need to begin allowing our lives to let in, in the most natural and least invasive way.

There is almost no limit to the food that can be bought at a Farmers Market.

We’re all aware that balance in life is a precious gift, and one we, at some level, strive for (some more than others) each day. However, today’s message is that food, and food alone, can and will impact that balance to a more positioned and eloquent equilibrium. There’s no question many of us know what to eat and what not to eat, yet most of us either don’t know how or are lost in terms of where to start. Well, the truth is that it’s not always easy, there’s not one simple answer, and we’re all moving at various paces and levels within the food-life conundrum, yet by recognizing a few simple and effective “food-life rules”, you can and will feel better, stress less, live healthier, and learn that food truly is one of our most precious resources. We all need to treat food as food, and as a living entity, not as a product, a skew, or packaged commodity. So here’s where we’re at, a simple, realistic checklist of where to start, and a reinforcement to those that are already there:

·        Follow the Dirty Dozen Plus & Clean 15 when it comes to buying conventional and organic.

·        Become aware of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and which foods contain them (use 1 less GMO per shopping trip per month – a GMO pepper is proving much riskier than a non-GMO organic pepper)

·        Add one new vegetable per month (to start), preferably organic, into your meal routine

·        Eat a vegetable (you know, that stuff that grows from the ground?) at most meals

·        Try an outing to a local farmers market. Local food is great, however local pesticide, herbicide and anti biotic free is even better. You and your children will enjoy the excursion.

·        Eat less meat. And spend the money on more healthy, clean meats

·        Make more of an effort to drop in at your local health food store. They’re local small businesses. Do your duty and provide your support

·        Realize that fast food and eating out essentially supports only your busy, unplanned schedule, it adds no value to your life. It will catch up with you, unless of course it already has

·         Drink organic herbal tea. It curbs cravings and adds endless benefit to your health

·        Begin thinking of food in terms of its nutritional impact. To eat for the simple value of being hungry or for calories is like living in terms of simply “eating to survive, not thrive”

·        If you are not happy with your current weight, either accept you will remain like this and continue to allow your health to regress, or stop making excuses and commit to the effort of making a change

·        Figure out a way to realize that spending more on healthy food now costs you much less than fighting for your health in the years to come

·        Combine lean protein, vegetables and healthy fat within each meal

·        Plan for goodness sake. We’re all busy, yet some of us still make time for our health. It won’t take care of itself

·        Seek out support if you don’t know where to begin. You’re spending enough on unhealthy choices already, it’s time to commit to putting that spending money toward better value

·        Naturopathic Medicine and other natural health professionals are here to help. Our ultimate goal is to make our planet and those within it healthier.

·        Drink clean water. 2L minimum per day to start

·        Make yourself proud. Do something for your health that in the way of better food choices that most wouldn’t have the nerve to try. Trust me, everyone will admire you in the end, yourself included.               


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Is your city council about to sell your birthright? Waterfront land just east of the downtown core may be sold.

Part one a two part report on the city selling waterfront property.  

Part 2

Salt with Pepper – Opinion

October 5th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  City Council, sitting as a Committee last week voted 6-1 to sell small parcels of land it owns on the waterfront between Market and St Paul Street to property owners whose land abuts the city property.

The Market Street and St. Paul Street windows are land already owned by the city.  The land shown as parkette is also land owned by the city which council has indicated it is prepared to sell to private landowners.   The property is actually owned by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and the city.  MNR has apparently said they will go along with whatever the city wants to do.

This report came to a city council committee as the result of a Staff Direction put forward by Ward 2 Councilor Marianne Meed Ward in 2012. .  It’s genesis goes back to the since sunset Waterfront Access Protection and Advisory Committee(WAPAC) that was formed by former Mayor Cam Jackson.

The since sunset Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee produced a report with good graphics that set out what existed in the way of city owned land that could be opened up more effectively to the public.

One of the smarter things WAPAC did was forward a recommendation to city council that the matter of actual access to the lake be improved.  That committee did an excellent report on just what existed in the way of waterfront access and where the public’s right to access to the lakefront was being impeded.

 During the WAPAC committee discussions Rob Peachey, Manager Parks & Open Space appeared looking less than enthusiastic when he told the committee – “this is not one of my favourite files”.  We know now why Peachey made that comment.

At the time some residents were pushing for more and better public access to the waterfront in this part of the city

 Burlington once had a very proud history of opening up access to the lake and was the city in which former Toronto Mayor David Crombie officially opened the Waterfront Trail that now runs form Niagara Falls to the Quebec border and reaches into parts of Lake Erie.

 When Crombie was in Burlington in 2011 speaking to WAPAC he touched on Burlington’s past Waterfront achievements and said there was a time when Burlington was a leader in waterfront access but that that was no longer the case.  At the time, mayor Goldring, who was sitting beside Crombie didn’t say a word.  We should have seen his vote of last week coming.

 Crombie was back in Burlington recently to witness awards being given in his name to the two women who did most of the yeoman’s work in making the Waterfront Trail a reality.  Burlington had much to be proud of then.

 In her Staff  Direction Meed Ward asked Council to: Direct the Manager of Realty Services to report back to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee regarding the portion of Water Street located between St. Paul Street and Market Street providing the background and history and options available to the city.

 That Direction resulted in the report that was before Committee October 2nd,  along with it was a confidential legal report that has certainly muddied the waters.  Unfortunately the contents of that report are not public.

 When a municipality makes decision it has to refer to and comply with the policies of those levels of government higher up the food chain: Regional and Provincial

 The Halton Regional Official Plan designates all of Burlington’s shoreline as“Regional Natural Heritage System” Part of that policy is: “To protect and enhance the Halton waterfront as major resource t hat is part of the Provincially significant Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay shoreline.”  It is also to” “Encourage the development of trails within the Regional Natural Heritage system” and “Encourage the Local Municipalities to: Acquire public open space on tableland adjacent to water courses and along the waterfront within the Urban Area and  Identify and designate along or near the waterfront of Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay,a continuous waterfront trail,making use of public road allowances in locations where public waterfront properties are not available”

 Burlington’s Official Plan calls for The acquisition of land to create new or add to existing Windows-to-the-Lake/Bay, as a means to increase public access to the waterfront.

This is the lakefront at the foot of St. Paul.

Burlington uses three types of access:   The Waterfront Trail, Windows on the Lake and small Parkettes. 

Waterfront Trail is a continuous Trail that was to be implemented through development-and/or redevelopment along Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay where there is sufficient land between that water and a public or private road.This trail maybe composed of two components: a shoreline trail immediately abutting the Lake or Bay, and near shoreline trail located in the general vicinity of the Lake or Bay.

Windows-to-the-Lake are described as small public areas located on city road allowances next to Lake Ontario or Burlington Bay; established to increase public access to the waterfront. They are typically developed with the following amenities: Seating areas, Walkway connections to the community, bike racks and refuse containers, fencing or barriers to control access to the water, parking located in the widow or on street depending on size, existing vegetation and configuration, bollards or railings to keep vehicles on the road allowance and signage to identify the location  as a Window-to-the-Lake.

Parkettes are described as small landscaped venues intended to contribute to an area’s urban design, provide passive/rest areas and lower level park amenities and are typically developed with the following amenities: Seating areas, walkway connections to the community, bike racks and refuse containers. Some include creative playground structures, tree and shrub plantings, park signage and some fencing for demarcation of public and private property.

Waterfront Trail policies were introduced in the 1997 Official Plan.  Since that time limited development along the waterfront has occurred.  Waterfront Trail policy development objectives have resulted in the city expanding the waterfront trail and public ownership including Easterbrook town house development at the Royal Botanical Gardens, where the city required public waterfront access through he official plan amendment and rezoning application resulting in Spring Garden Trail.

Another splendid addition to the waterfront trail network is the pathway at the bottom of the Bridgewater condominium hotel development at the foot of Elizabeth Street where the city will take ownership of the waterfront trail and the shoreline protection work required through development agreements.

 That’s the policy base the decision at the Community Services Committee made their decision within.

The Staff Report that got voted on put forward three options:

 Option #1: Create a city parkette: connecting the St.Paul Street  and market street road allowances.

 Option # 2:  Develop Windows-on-the-Lake at St. Paul and Market streets and retain ownership with an exclusive lease to the abutting landowners until required for public use.

 Option # 3: Develop Windows-on-the-Lake and dispose of the Water Street parcel.

Option #1 would have the city purchasing Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) portions of the waterfront between the St. Paul’s and Market Street road allowances and using that land along with the old Water Street road allowance to create a new waterfront parkette.

Option # 2 would be to preserve land for future public use by purchasing the MNR land and retaining ownership of the land the city already owns then entering into lease agreements with the owners that abut that land.  The two pieces of land on the east and west sides would be turned into Windows-on-the-Lake.

Option #3 would dispose of the Water Street land and still develop the Windows-on-the-Lake on the East and West sides of the site where the city owns the road allowance. 

This is market street. It is hard to tell but that patch of land on the left is actually a city right of way that anyone can walk along to the edge of the lake. The city has never put signs up advising the public they can walk on the property – which is the way the property owners along the street like it.

This is the land at the end of Market Street, owned by the city, public but there are no signs to indicate it is public. Few people walk past that bright sign. The city would turn this into a full window on the Lake.

Wonderful place to sit and watch the sun rise or set – and it is public property that the city has agreed in principle to sell the people with adjoining property.

Staff recommended Option # 2: preserving the land for future use.  They justified their decision based on Regional and city official policy and the Waterfront Trail policy.

Opportunities for waterfront access, financial considerations and those legal considerations that the public knows nothing about because they were the contents of the reports the city solicitor provided and had council declare confidential, are lost if the land is sold.

The sale of the land would be a fabulous deal for the three property owners.  They grump about the cost of maintaining the sea wall.  Were it not maintained their property would at some point face serious erosion.

Staff offered a lot of common sense when they said a decision to retain the property in public ownership maintains the table lands between the Windows on the Lake for future access to the waterfront.  Future access is ensured with the retention of the Water Street parcel.

Over the short term access is improved with the development of Windows-on-the-Lake, which should have been done years ago.

What would the different option cost:  Both capital and current budget impacts for each option would be as follows:

Option #1 Option One- Create a Parkette on Water Street Parcel includes costs to construct and maintain Windows-to-the-Lake.  Capital Budget Impact: $182,000  Current Budget Impact $7,500/per year.  Other considerations:    Land costs and shoreline protection which are set out in that confidential document that you don`t get to see.

Option Two- Preserve for Future use:  Includes costs to construct and maintain Windows -to-the-Lake. Capital costs: $80,000 and current budget cost of $3,500 per year for Windows-to- the-Lake.  Add in land costs and shoreline protection as set out in that confidential document.  One has to wonder just how much the city is obligating itself to pony up within that confidential document.  Last within option # 2: Future cost to develop Parkette is $102,000

 Option Three – Dispose of Water Street Parcel and develop Windows-to-the-Lake.  A capital cost of $80,000 and a current budget cost of $3,500 per year for Windows-to- the-Lake.  The upside for this option is the revenues from sale of lands.  That confidential document doesn’t let you know what that revenue might be.

 In the Staff report mention is made of how all this costs will be handled.  Mention is also made about a community engagement process.  This is rich:

“Upon receiving direction from council on an approved option, staff will develop and undertake a community engagement process which outlines the purpose, outcomes and participation goals of any engagement opportunity.  Outcome of the public engagement process will be reported back to Council with the concept plans for the Windows-on-the-Lake and parkette development.

What this means is you will get to have a say on what those Windows on the Lake are going to look like and how the parkette might be designed – but you won’t be asked whether or not you want waterfront land sold.

Six of the significant seven are going to do that for you.  The family jewels will be sold off for the puniest of reasons and the opportunity for a trail that actually lets people see, hear and feel the waters of Lake Ontario will be gone forever.  For once lakefront land is in private hands it seldom gets back into public hands.  One those few occasions when privately held land does get back into the public realm it is frequently at a price equivalent to a King’s ransom.

Why are we doing this – we already own the land.


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Grenade found in the ground in the Kerncliffe Park area found to be inert.

October 4, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Just after 10:00 a.m., Saturday morning, a volunteer group doing maintenance in the area of Kerncliffe Park located a grenade buried in the ground.

Kerncliffe Park – site where an inert grenade was found by volunteers cleaning up the grounds.

A number of volunteers were safely evacuated and members of the Explosive Disposal Unit were summoned to the scene

It has since been determined that the grenade was inert.  

A portion of green space to the west of Kerns Road and south of a nearby parkette remains cordoned off while a secondary ground search is undertaken.

There are no secondary public safety concerns at this time.

Police later declared the scene as totally safe.

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Business is meeting people – meeting people is good business – both happening Thursday at BPAC

October 6th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.   Do you know where you are going to be at about 5:00 pm on Thursday October 10th?  You might want to be at the Business Week – Social Fusion Networking & Trade Show and mix with some 500 odd avid networkers at the Performing Arts Centre.

Who will you have the opportunity to meet with?  Small business people, trades and services people for the most part.  There are the regulars who use the occasion to keep in touch with a large group of people at one location.  There isn’t a bar in town where you are going to be able to network with hundreds – and all of them sober.

Social Fusion Network’s first trade show and meet up at the performing Arts Centre – well attended.

Run by James Burchill, the Social Fusion Networking group is for people and businesses doing business in Burlington Ontario. SFN Burlington (aka BiB – Business in Burlington) is not the Chamber of Commerce. There are no memberships, no fees, no agenda – just show up and you’re in.

Burchill, a shameless promoter, defines himself as Marketing Strategist • Author • Trainer • Speaker. He has done what a lot of independent people set out to do and that is find a niche he can work and grow.  On occasion he has had a flashy red Ferrari parked outside the location he is using; some lucky person will get a chance to drive the thing.

Burchill – regularly in the Gazette

Burchill also writes a column for the Gazette where he tends to assuage his technical bent.  Type the word Mojo into the search box – and you get to see everything the man has written for us.  His take on Tweet going public was interesting and his background on wearable devices are both worth a read.

For the Business Week event the marketing angle is a cool $500 cash gift.  You have to be in the room to personally take that cash home.

Many people wonder – are these events worth the time?  There are just under 2000 people who have registered with the Network and show up on an infrequent basis.  Originally held at the Waterfront Hotel Burchill had to find a venue with more room and is now at the Ivy Kitchen and Bar on the South Service Road.

Burchill probably has the best collection of relevant business cards in the city.

Finding the metric that tells if the event worked or not isn’t as simple as counting the number of people who came through the door.  There is nothing for people to actually buy – other than a drink at one of the most impressive bars in the city, so there are no sales numbers.  How any people return – something in the range of 250 – 350 each month; on occasion it climbs higher.

One of the indicators that says a lot is the number of people who commented on the event on the web site – there were 321 feedbacks for the first trade show.  I didn’t see anything negative when I scrolled through.

This “trade show” is the second Burchill has held.  The take up on this event has been better than that of the first – so he is on to something.  The Gazette met a woman at one of the MeetUps who now writes a regular column for us – and we didn’t even have to buy a ticket to get in.  So for us, networking clearly works.

Burchill has taken to calling his operation the Social Fusion Network – it works and the five $100 bills he is waving in the air may turn out to be the enticement that moves his numbers up.

Is the event worth the time – yeah it is something you want to take in.  Don’t break a great dinner date opportunity to get there but if you’re looking for a place to relax a bit and have a cool one as James would say – drop in.  Starts just after 5 pm – runs till 7:30. Bring your wallet – you might need a place to stash the cash.

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Is the Prime Minister moving into gunslinger mode? Is Canada about to become a major arms manufacturer?

October 4, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  Memorable leaders leave noteworthy accomplishments behind them.  In the US ObamaCare will be that president’s legacy, even though it represents a glass half-full to us in Canada.  Tommy Douglas is remembered for introducing universal health care, while Premier of Saskatchewan in 1962; and Pierre Trudeau and Lester Pearson credited for implementing it nation-wide.

Avro Arrow – fighter plane that was to make us the envy of the western world.

Pearson also gave us our flag and won the Nobel prize while positioning Canada as a global peacemaker.  John Diefenbaker’s biggest accomplishment was drafting our first Bill of Rights but he will only ever be remembered for killing the best fighter jet in its time, the Avro Arrow.  Brian Mulroney led an effective anti-apartheid lobby, but his name brings up the US free-trade deal, the dreaded GST and that nasty Karl-Heinz affair.  

Trudeau eliminated the terrorist FLQ, introduced bilingualism and multiculturalism, made Canada a global entertainment force, implemented a half-hearted metric system, and really got Albertans ticked with his energy program.  And Jean Chretien gave us the long-gun registry – a bill which had the early support of a newly minted Calgary MP named Stephen Harper, voting against his own colleagues with the Reform Party caucus. 

One of Harper’s first actions, as PM, in 2006 was to arm our border guards – who had never needed nor wanted the guns.   He is a tough cop as PM, introducing mandatory prison sentences here, extending Canada’s role in Afghanistan, and sending war planes into Libya.  And this summer Harper got to actually fire a rifle while reaffirming his determination to maintain sovereignty in the arctic.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – showing the troops how its done as he fires a service long gun while in the Arctic

Few people have difficulty supporting a tough-minded PM, trying to keep us safe from threats of internal or external violence.  So his change-of-mind on the long gun registry and his cancellation of the program, a much celebrated event by his party, was bizarre.  I thought banning guns was ‘de rigueur’ for a sheriff taming the Wild West.  Perhaps he has bought the US Tea Party line that private guns are the only defence against an oppressive government.

The long gun registry had given Harper a wedge issue to solidify his right-wing base and adjust his moral compass to accompany his change-of-heart.  His next step was to deconstruct his firearms advisory committee, and pack it with members of Canada’s National Firearms Association, Canada’s NRA.  One of the new committee’s early recommendations was to legalize the sale of assault weapons, which the government fortunately ignored.

 Weren’t we all stunned when the PM rebuked the RCMP in High River?  He ordered them to return the weapons they had found, stored illegally, in the flooded homes in that Alberta town.  The Mounties were only enforcing the law, so does this now mean that we can ignore the rest of Canada’s gun laws with impunity?  What is this pre-occupation with guns anyway?  I know a six-year-old boy who is also fascinated with guns – but aren’t we supposed to grow up?  

Last week Canada announced that we would not be joining over 90 other nations, including gun-loving USA, to sign the UN Arms Trade treaty, which is intended to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorist nations and terrorists.    At first this was puzzling, then the penny dropped.  The Harper government has a strategy to transition Canada into a future as a significant arms manufacturing country.  It all makes sense now.

...create gold out of that dark place called war, thereby bringing jobs back to the voters in Canada’s industrial heartland ...Stephen Harper, already the nation’s historic gunslinger, wants to be its gunsmith as well.  Is this the industrial strategy Ontario and Quebec have been looking for?  We’ll build weapons systems for rogue states and fuel them with oil from the tar sands.  Harper’s quest is to create gold out of that dark place called war, thereby bringing jobs back to the voters in Canada’s industrial heartland and reversing the folly of Diefenbaker denying the Avro Arrow. 

Canada will be completely transformed from historic peacemaker to ‘nouvelle’ arms-maker.  That will be Harper’s mark, his legacy, and how he will be remembered after losing the next federal election. 

A knight, without a horse, walks off into the darkest night…

On a quest for a treasure, that shines so bright.

A six-shooter on his left, his right he cannot use…

In search of a dark tower, others can only muse.

(The Gunslinger’s Tale – Ellen Walmsley, 1999)

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IKEA move in jeopardy? Getting all the paper work done is going to be a challenge. Is the province cooperating?

October 3, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It is going to be a scramble to get all the paper work done in time for IKEA to meet some deadlines that are out there.

The first hard date is October 21st when the Development and Infrastructure Committee will go over a report that covers details that have to be approved at that Committee level.  It is vital that the report staff produces be approved at that Committee meeting.

Red line at the op is the railway line – that isn’t going to move.  Dark line on the right is the creek that has to be dealt with and Conservation Halton isn’t making that easy.  Lot of room for the interchange upgrades that are going to be needed to handle the volume of traffic.

The schedule is now so tight that council members will move from meeting as a Standing Committee on the evening of the 21st into meeting as a city council to pass the zoning by-law change IKEA needs to build its new office/retail operation on the site.

There is a mandatory 20 day comment period when a change is made in a zoning by-law.

While everyone waits out that 20 day period, documents from Conservation Halton have to be signed.  Conservation is involved because there is a creek running along the east side of the property.

But that isn’t the only issue that has to be resolved and, longer term,  it isn’t the toughest one.  The intersection at Walkers Line is reaching capacity.  Changing the configuration of an intersection like Walkers Line is no small matter.

Currently located on Plains Road in Aldershot IKEA has wanted to move for some time and committed to staying in Burlington – why not this is a great market and IKEA is a top tourist draw for the city. Then the complications set in and the project is getting close to needing life support.

IKEA has been toiling away since before March of 2011 on plans to move their operation from Aldershot to a piece of land on the North Service Road just west of Walkers Line where there are multiple problems that someone didn’t see coming their way.

IKEA made a corporate decision to move and put together an agreement with Hopewell, the company that owns the land on the North Service Road.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see immediately that the North Service Road could not handle the traffic that would be created with an IKEA on the Hopewell property.

Widening the North Service Road would be necessary but there were problems there because North Service is cheek by jowl with the QEW which itself is going to be widened in the not too distant future.

A walk along North Service between Guelph Line and Walkers Line suggests that property could be bought to widen the road but there is at least one large structure that is going to have a road very close to it when widening takes place..

Add to that the Creek that winds its way down the east side of the property and dips under the QEW and is governed by Conservation Halton rules and you get a sense of what IKEA is up against.

Did the planners that IKEA engaged not do their homework?  Did they not make themselves aware of all the problems they would incur?  When they first talked to Burlington’s planners did the Planning department not brief them?

The IKEA development is the first initiative seen in what the city calls one of its prime development areas.  This one is called the Prosperity Corridor and covers both sides of the QEW from Appleby on the east to Brant on the west with the focus at this point on the Guelph Line – Walkers Line stretch.

City hall is realizing that a change made to Walkers Line and the QEW ripples through to the other major intersections.  City hall has also learned that you just don’t come along with a development application and expect the province to take a serious interest in what you want to do.

The province takes a much longer term approach and the next time the Burlington intersections along the QEW come up for a hard close look with a cheque book in their hand is 2016 – and that’s when they begin looking at what might be needed.

IKEA wants to be OPEN in its new location the spring of 2015 with shovels in the ground before the end of this year if they can get the paper work out of the way.

North Service Road looking west: There is room to widen the road; not sure how Leon’s will feel about giving up some frontage so people can get to IKEA.

Report providing information regarding 3455 North Service Road (IKEA Properties Limited) (PB-82-13) (Referred to the October 21, 2013 Development & Infrastructure meeting)

 The city has growth plans that cannot be met without significant development in the Prosperity Corridor

The Walkers Line /QEW upgrades are critical

Land west of Walkers Line has been purchased for the development of 300,000 sq/ft of industrial office space.  It is not clear at this point if this is ‘new development’ and what stage it is at.

IKEA alone accounts for half of the new Industrial Commercial construction forecast for 2013 – thus if the deal in the works now doesn’t close before the end of the year – there  goes the forecast and up go residential taxes – unless the finance people raid some of those fat reserve funds the city has tucked way.

One of the city’s top tourist destinations is going to move to the property on the left.  Widening this road to three lanes isn’t going to handle the traffic – and left hand turns are going to be terrible.  Lots of work to be done on this file – and the clock is ticking.

Making the North Service Road work as a development site is not going to be easy and the city knows now that it needs partners from the private sector as well as more from the Region and the province.

Problem is the province doesn’t think the city needs the kind of help it is talking about.

The agreements that are being readied for signature have IKEA paying all the short term costs – these will get spelled out in the report that wasn’t tabled last night.

The city and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will pay all the costs for the long term – which refers to the cost of reconfiguring Walkers Line and the North Service Road.

This would seem like one of those situations where Burlington General Manager Scott Stewart needs to get all the players in the same room at the same time and give them a solid dose of his “tough love”.  He once took on a group of soccer Moms and if a deal can be worked out with that crowd, IKEA should be a cake walk.

But it doesn’t look like that today – does it?

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Friday is not a casual dress day for city’s legal department. Airpark court case to be heard Friday.

October 3rd, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  If you want to talk to people in the city’s legal department this week – do it today, because most of the brains in that department will be in Milton on Friday, sitting in a Courtroom hearing an application that has been made by both the city and the Burlington Executive Airpark over who gets to call the shots when it comes to changing the way land is used.

What was thought to be a sleepy little airport became a massive problem for the city

The city creates by-laws and believes everyone has to abide by the bylaws in place.  The Airpark argues that they don’t have to follow the city’s bylaws because they are regulated by the federal Department of Transportation.

The airport began making massive changes to their site about five years ago.  The city, the Region and Conservation Halton didn’t pay much attention to what was being done at what had been a sleepy little rural airport.  They understood that the airpark came under federal jurisdiction and were content to leave it at that.

When it became evident that the airpark  was being upgraded significantly the city asked then ordered the airpark management to apply for the necessary permits.

Nope said the airpark people.  There was some back and forth – the city sued them, they sued the city and it became evident that there were serious differences of opinion over how the laws the airpark were relying upon were to be interpreted.

So, back in late August, lawyers for both the city and the Airpark met in a Courtroom and agreed this had to be resolved and set October 4th as the day a judge would listen to arguments on arcane points of law.  Both the city and the airpark brought in big legal guns and for the past seven weeks have been doing their “examination for discovery”, which is that period of time when they get to ask all kinds of questions.

Each side then prepares its brief and files it with the Court.

Someone in the Court house decides which judge is going to hear the arguments and at just after 10:00 am a bailiff will call out All Rise, the Judge will enter and the game begins.

There will not be any witnesses, there won’t be any television type court room drama; just some very smart lawyers arguing important differences on what was meant when a federal law was written and how that law impacts on a different level of government.

North Burlington residents have taken it in the ear over this issue – they have put up with trucks driving up and down the roads hauling landfill.   When they found out how much fill was being taken onto the airpark site they were alarmed and made their concerns known to city hall and the regional government.

Delegations were made at both city hall and the Region during which it became evident that Burlington didn’t know what was going on and the Region didn’t appear to be at all concerned.  Some in Milton kind of like the idea of an airport being close to their part of the Region.

The residents were having none of it.  They formed an interest group and showed up everywhere they could to press their point.  Both the Region and the city got the message.

How does this kind of site alteration take place without a permit?  If you’re an airpark and federally regulated – this is what you can get away with.  The space atop that hill is where a helicopter landing is going to be located.

It quickly became very clear that the airpark people were not going to budge so the city sued.  That got us to the point where everyone is before a judge who will hear an application for an interpretation of just what the law means.  These are called judicial interpretations.

Each side, the city and the Airpark were originally given two hours to give their interpretation of what the federal law means.  When all the talking is done, the judge tells them that the decision will be reserved and in a couple of months (this won’t be a case that is decided upon in a couple of weeks) a decision will be handed down and both sides will read that decision very, very carefully.

And then you can bet the wine allowance that the side most unhappy with the decision will appeal.  There is the possibility that this case will go from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime the Airpark development plans are frozen and that suites residents on Appleby Line and Bell School Line just fine.

One small question: Why did the city’s Community Services Committee go into Closed session to discuss a Confidential Legal department September 18th report regarding the Burlington Executive Airport?  Were the city’s lawyers seeking direction?  Was there a glitch in the case law they were relying upon to make their case.  It just seemed a little odd that there would be a Confidential report that close to the hearing date.

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Councillors forgot how to play nice – behave like a couple of alley cats.


There were errors in some of the data and facts in the original version which had to be confirmed.  That took longer than expected.  with the facts confirmed we can now re-publish this piece originally published September 25th,

October 3, 2103

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Burlington has held City Council meetings that were done in less than half an hour.  In and out, which is the way Mayor Goldring likes to see things happen.

In Burlington, Council members like to say that all the heavy lifting gets done at the committee level but the decisions is made at a Council meeting.

Monday night they held a Council meeting and they certainly made decisions that will impact this city for some time.

The first development this city has seen for some time will get the approval it needs – once some of the paper work is cleaned up.   The Mayor got the unanimous vote he felt he needed with the Beachway Park as it now heads to the Region for a decision.

The environmentalists got left on hold with their ask for something in the way of a private tree bylaw.

There were far more delegations than usual at a Council meeting and yes, the Marsden’s made their regular delegation on the matter of accessibility.

The tension between Councillors Meed Ward and Craven is close to measurable, Neither has ever been a fan of the other and on Monday evening the feelings got spilled onto the horseshoe of the Council chamber

And we saw some pretty nasty back and forth between the Council members for Wards 1 and 2.  Rick Craven and Marianne Meed Ward had at it for a minute or two and the public saw the acrimony that exists between those two.  Synonyms for acrimony are bitterness, animosity, spitefulness, asperity and spite which Councillor Craven has had for Meed Ward almost since the day she became a member of Council.

The two have significantly different operating styles and Craven seems to be unable to control his dislike for Meed Ward.  Last night he opened up and Meed Ward gave back as good as she got.  The two sit beside each other which makes for some awkwardness.

The harsh words came out during the debate on the Beachway Park which happens to be in Ward 1 where Councillor Craven is not exactly supporting the wishes of the people who own property in the area.  Craven appears to want city hall to stick to a plan that is decades old and is no longer a reflection on how parks are developed. 

He gets apoplectic over what he believes are encroachments and changes to property that have been made without the required permits.  Craven just does not want those people in that park and has done as much as he can to ensure the houses get purchased and torn down.

Councillor Meed Ward on the other hand is a very strong advocate of a community within the park and she makes no pretence about how she feels.  For Craven this is messing around in his ward – Meed Ward feels she is the Councillor for the Ward 2 but responsible for the sane development of the city which is more than Craven can stomach – Monday evening he did the equivalent of an upchuck and let it all come out.

Craven caught the attention of the Mayor who was chairing the meeting and said he had two comments he wanted to make about the presentation Councillor Meed Ward had made about section 37 agreements. ‘We heard yet again said Craven for the 3rd , 4th and maybe 5th time how section 37 agreements work.  That is not what we heard from Meed Ward this evening and I don’t understand why Meed Ward doesn’t get it.

The Mayor then spoke about the problem the city had with this file and the need to get a better grip on just how social housing needs were going to be met.  Mayor Goldring seldom speaks extemporaneously but rather reads from notes which results explanations that are a bit stilted.  The information is in there – the passion and commitment don’t seem to come through – it’s just not something this man does all that well.

Councillor Meed Ward sits looking a little glum before she responds to Councillor Craven’s personal attached and asks that he stick to the issue and stop belittling residents, delegations and her as a council member.

Meed Ward puts up her hand to speak and she lets fly.  Councillor Craven she said “I am going to ask you to stick to the issues – stick to the point.  You have a habit of making it personal.  You’ve done that to residents, you’ve done that to delegations and you’ve done it to me.”

“Stick to the issue.  Tell me we don’t need affordable  housing when I think we do.”

Mayor Goldring, looking for a way to take some of the tension out of the air asked that council members keep the tone civil.

Councillor Craven asked for the floor again and commented that it “was the member for Ward 2 who raised the issue of the Official Plan and that in Ward 1 there were two affordable housing projects.”

The public is now seeing some of the nastiness that has been behind the scenes with this council.  It is close to impossible for most of the members of this council to say anything positive or nice about Marianne Meed Ward – but she has a following and they expect her to be Mayor of this city some day.

Hopefully she learns how Section 37 of the Planning Act works or the province gets rid of it before Meed Ward places the chain of office around her neck.

That will be a very, very hard day for Rick Craven.

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Come on, come all – war chest needs to be built up.

October 3, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. If you wondered whether or not there would be a provincial election in the Spring look no further than Jane McKenna’s invitation to spend some time with her WHEN

Electronic invitation from the office of Jane McKenna – she wants you to attend her fund-raiser.

The Gazette has yet to see a single press release from the office of Burlington’s representative at Queen’s Park but when it comes to a fund-raiser the invitations go out to everyone.

The word would have gone out within the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park – start raising funds, there is going to be an election and McKenna is going to need a substantial war chest to win next time out.

The province might well see a provincial election before it experiences the scheduled municipal election in October 27th  of 2014.

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Burlington takes a big step to fully recognizing its role in the War of 1812. Took long enough.

October 2, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was a bright sunny day, one of those last reprieves summer sometimes gives while suggesting there is an Indian summer still ahead of us before the harvest season is over.

The bikes were out on the trails along the edge of the lake, Doors Open, the event that has historic and interesting places opening their doors for people to walk through and look around.

Rick Wilson, back to camera with War of 1812 enactor Robert Williamson talking over details of the desperate battles that played themselves out off the shores of Burlington 200 years ago.

A small group of people, some dressed up as re-enactors,  were gathered on the promenade jutting out from the Naval Walk at the western end of Spencer Smith Park.

A classic photo-op that is drenched in Burlington history. The design of a plaque that will be installed on the Naval Walk commemorating a battle that was later seen as the turning point in the War of 1812. That stony stretch of beach in the background is where the Brant Inn was located. It was the jumpingest place in town in its day. People traveled from across Ontario and the United States by train t hear the great bands of the time.

The 50 square yard space was just drenched with history.  Looking to the west is Burlington’s Bay, the entrance to one of the most industrial harbours in the country where tons of ore is  brought in to fire the furnaces of the steel plants.  A couple of yards from where an interpretive plaque that tells the story of a War of 1812  battle that took place out on that lake – out there in front of us is a stretch of stony beach that was once the location of the Brant Inn.  It was a place that put Burlington on the map for many.  In those days Burlington was a “jumping” town. 

On this Saturday morning – exactly 200 years ago an event called the Burlington Races took place.  The name come from a magazine article published 100 years ago that mis-represented what was happening with ships under full sail firing their cannons at each other was really all about.

It was a war that taught the Americans that Canada could perhaps be invaded but could not be conquered.

If the lakes were won said the better history books of the time, the war of 1812 was won.  The British brought superior seamanship and better ships to the battle.  The commanding officers of each fleet both held flag rank – Commodores both.  

Burlington`s Mayor and the council member for the ward took part in the unveiling of a design that replicated the plaque that will eventually be put in place. 

A great painting, full of dash and energy but the scene it depicts never took place. The artists didn’t know that when the work was done.

To commemorate the event and give it a level of legitimacy there were War of 1812 enactors on hand; Commodore Yeo of the British Navy and a  British Royal Navy captain circa 1810 played by Gill Bibby.

Yeo was represented by Robert Williamson a Canadian Navy Commander who served as a Reserve officer, one time Commanding officer of HMCS Star in Hamilton. Williamson was a high school history and geography teacher.

Rick Wilson was the Burlington resident who used the research done by others to advocate for the removal of a plaque at the Burlington Heights in Hamilton which has been proven to be historically incorrect.

Robert Williamson was doing research on the Scourge and the Hamilton,  simple merchant ships that were pressed into service for the American Navy just prior to the War of 1812. They went down in a gale and now lay at the bottom of Lake Ontario.   

It was while doing this research on the Hamilton and the Scourge that Williamson accidently came across the existence of the log of HMS Wolfe which revealed facts that no one knew about. In is correspondence with Burlington Heritage Planner Jenna Paluto, Williamson set out the bigger picture:

“After the American naval victory on Lake Erie by Commodore Perry on September 10, 1813, a powerful United States fleet comprising ten ships under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey appeared off York (Toronto) on the morning of September 28, 1813. Their objective was to complete the American bid to gain control of the Great Lakes or at least create a diversion allowing the shipment of American troops from the Niagara frontier to the St. Lawrence River for an attack on Montreal.

“The  smaller British fleet of six vessels, commanded by Commodore Sir James Yeo, was in the harbour but on the approach of the enemy, set sail to attack. After a sharp engagement the British flagship, HMS Wolfe, having  suffered sail damage limiting her maneuverability, led the British squadron to a convenient anchorage in view of the present day City of Burlington. Commodore Yeo then had his squadron anchor close in shore with springs (heavy ropes) on the (anchor) cables allowing his ships to pivot and present powerful broadsides from  a strong compact defensive unit that could not be enveloped from behind. The American fleet, having suffered battle damage as well, recognized the strong British position and withdrew to the protection of Fort Niagara, leaving the Royal Navy to quickly repair the sails and mast of their flagship, but still firmly in control of the lake.

“Control of Lake Ontario was essential to the British for the defense of Upper Canada (Ontario). By preserving a formidable presence on the lake, the British squadron was able to capture Fort Oswego in May 1814 and transferred General Drummond with 400 British reinforcements and supplies to the Niagara frontier in July to defeat the United States Army at Lundys Lane, the last invasion of Canada.”

It was that superb seamanship by a British naval officer off what Williamson believes was Bronte Creek that sent the Americans back to their home port.

Magazine writers who paid more attention to imaginative thinking than to historical fact

Williamson set out to correct the record which he did with a number of excellent papers. 

Rick Wilson, the citizen who agitated and advocated for a correction to a grievous historical error.

Rick Wilson, a history buff, got hold of the information and began to agitate for a change that would correct the historical errors.

Wilson knocked on any door he could find – meeting with Burlington’s MP Mike Wallace who, while intrigued, had to back away because the plaques were a provincial responsibility.  Wilson was able to get exactly nowhere with the office of Jane McKenna but he persevered and with the help of the Heritage Advisory Committee the city took on the task of creating a plaque.

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