Queensway residents comments on the Drury Lane bridge; Council agrees to repair. Building a new bridge? That’s five years off.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 13, 2012  The core values of a community are often not fully appreciated until they are threatened and that is when the community comes together and focus on the challenge it faces.  That is when members of the community find their voice and make it public.  And that is what the Glenwood School drive Community did last week when nine of its members stood before the city’s Community Development Committee and said: “fix our bridge”.

For a time city council chamber looked like a day care centre with children scampering all over the place while other draped themselves over their parents laps. In this picture city Manager Jeff Fielding looks on from the public gallery and made no comment. Let's see what he says when this gets to city Council.

Each person spoke with their own passion; some were more direct than others, some talked of the history and the small things that made the community unique

Steven Kopysh talked of the change that had taken place in the community from the time 44 years ago it was a quite secluded area that not too many people realized existed. At the end of my street you could walk across the tracks to a wooded area with a well-worn path through it.  There were no fences, Fairview street was not there, Burlington was not a city.

All that has changed.  Fairview was built to be a main east west corridor, railway underpasses were built,  Brant and Guelph line were widened and Queensway made into a main thoroughfare.  The GO train added more traffic and the tracks were fenced off. Our community had gone from a secluded area to an isolated area.

Kopysh reminded Council Committee that forty years ago Council had the foresight to build a pedestrian bridge to the south.  It made sense. All the elementary schools, the high school, central Park, the Library and the Seniors Centre were to the south.

Then in a way that only a long-time resident can, Kopysh  chided Council members  as said” If Council is serious about greening the city and reducing our carbon footprint, if this Council is serious about promoting vibrant communities, if this Council is serious about promoting walking and cycling – the bridge makes sense. Please do not isolate us.  Do not force us to use our cars.

And if the point was not already made Kopysh added “my sincere hope is that our city council has the foresight and wisdom shown by their peers forty years ago and that we will have a bridge for generations to come”.

Alicia Lovatsis was pretty direct in her comments to a Committee of city Council when she said: - we want THAT bridge and not a path

Alicia Lovatsis, a Fassel Avenue resident first took issue with the bridge traffic survey the city was using And pointed out that a petition of 240 names of people this neighborhood that are saying we use THAT bridge and we want THAT bridge fixed.  Not a pathway.  Our bridge!!

Our children and youth are the ones being forced into busy roads and dark train station tunnels!

The main reason I stand before you is speaking environmentally.  I am not an environmentalist but I have been taught to think about the choices I make and how they impact our world.  At the first council meeting I watched you councillors roll your eyes at Marianne (Councillor Marianne Meed Ward) telling her it waste a waste of the cities time to include statics about cost per trip when using the bridge!

Again maybe this is just a difference in generations but this is the way our generation thinks.  I don’t want to live in a world where my children think its ok to get in the car every time they want to go somewhere!!  So I decided to look back at how many times I could of crossed the bridge but instead I had to get in my car and drive.  From November 25 until January 21 I made 52 unnecessary trips with my car.  I will spare you the details but all my destinations were south or southeast.  I never once went to the go station!! I did another little experiment just thinking in line of the councillors thinking that its no big deal to go around and through the station, I did a little walking experiment.  I left my house at 1:13pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I walked across Fassel and up to Glenwood  School and across to the Go Station.  I got to the station at 1:36 , down and through the station and across the south lot.  Arriving at lights at 1:47, cross the street, backtrack to Aragon and cross down through catwalks arriving at Tom Thomson at 1:59.  That is travel time of 55 minutes.  No one will do that, even if it cuts down on my time by a pathway…it still leads me to the go train station platform, not an ideal place for my 3 and 5 year old!!  I used to be able to leave at 8:45 and arrive at Tom Thomson. 20 minutes is very reasonable for travel!!

Lovatsis then reminded Council of the Pedestrian charter, passed in Burlington in 2009.  There was the clear sense that few on Council knew what she was talking about but Lovatsis reminded them that

“an urban community is one that encourages and facilitates walking, and supports community health, vitality and safety.  It increases use of public transit, decreases car dependence, reduces conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, leads to cleaner air and more public green spaces, as well as supports green tourism.  Such an environment creates opportunities for the informal social interaction that is one of the main attributes of a vibrant, livable urban community.”

She wasn’t finished. She urged the committee to truly listen to the people of this community that have come together to speak about how important this bridge is to our community.  That is what they call ‘walking the talk’.

Sarah O'Hara told a city council committee that she and her kids, as well as neighbours from across the city, stand on the bridge and watch the trains pass underneath and delight when the train engineers blow their whistles.

Sarah O’Hara, who has lived on Glenwood School Drive for more than twelve years pointed out that the Drury Passenger Bridge has a rich history in our neighbourhood.  People use this to get safely from our survey to the business section of Fairview Street and can easily access Burlington Mall, the library, the Y, and other places without having to take the longer route of Guelph Line.  Safety issues aside (which are of course one of the main reasons this bridge needs to stay), I would like to touch on the rich tradition this bridge offers our residents.

I use the bridge daily to get fresh air for my daughter and exercise for myself!  While making the daily trip I meet many other mothers, fathers and grandparents in the neighbourhood who also made the bridge the destination of their walks and they love to climb the bridge and eagerly check the colour of the lights for the trains.  When we saw a green light a sense of excitement would ensue while we waited for the approaching train.  GO trains, VIA and freight trains would never fail to honk their horn and wave to the thrill of all the children who stood on top, clinging to a grown up in a mix of fear and delight while they waved excitedly to the passing train, then quickly turn to watch it receding the other way.  I met countless parents who have actually driven from other neighborhoods so their children could climb the bridge and experience the same thrill.

The bridge O’Hara told Council committee “helps to define our neighborhood, and a place where neighbours meet.  This bridge has helped to create neighbours in the true sense of the word, not just strangers who happen to live on the same block of land.  We are already experiencing so many changes in our neighbourhood; it would be a shame to lose this bridge.

The Queensway community ,managed to get a city council committee to go along with $380,000 worth of repairs to the bridge. Getting the thing rebuilt or an underpass put in place in five years will be the next battle for them. Guess which community is going to be active in the next municipal election? will this sign be gone by then?

O’Hara asked the members of Council to “look behind me.  You are looking at teachers, waitresses, social workers, postal workers, stay at home mums…children.  What brought us all here together?  What “bridged” our differences?  We are here out of a desire to have our voices heard on something that is evidently important enough for us all to come here tonight.  This is our chance to show our youth that the city of Burlington takes the concerns and opinions of its citizens seriously.  Please show us that what is important to us, the people living here, matters.  Please fix our bridge.”

There was one occasion when the public cheered and clapped and committee chair Blair Lancaster quietened the crowd and explained that applause wasn’t allowed.  I wondered why the first time Lancaster said no responses were permitted but then understood when Lancaster added:  If we let you clap when you’re happy then we have to let you boo when you’re not happy.  Thhe beauty Queen has become a politician!

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Pier has settled in for the winter; work resumes in Spring; providing a crane doesn’t topple we will see the Pier open in 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 11, 2012  – Whenever there is bad news about The Pier ears perk up and the Doom Sayers wonder why we just didn’t tear it down, take our losses.  At times bad news about The Pier actually gets manufactured and results in front page stories.

The Pier has certainly had its share of problems and they aren’t all the fault of the people who were hired to design and build the thing.  The city’s engineering department made its share of mistakes but the city is not at fault here.

Contractor gets a break with the unseasonable weather and is able to remove all the deficient steel. The trestle, needed for construction equipment lies to the right, the steel rails are to the left of the trestle. Fabricators begin work on the new beams.

As everyone knows – there are a couple of law-suits working their way through the legal process.  In this country it seems to take forever to get a resolution to a dispute – but that too isn’t the fault of the city.  The unseasonable weather has been great and allowed all the sub-standard steel that was put in place to be taken out.  Note that the city didn’t buy the steel, nor did the city specify the steel that was used.  It just paid the bills when they came in.

All the deficient steel was removed before Christmas - the lady is now naked - waiting for a new steel dressing come the Spring. The trestle is still in place but the steel rails have been removed. The windmill that will power the lights will be placed on the rails that stick out on the upper left. It is going to happen.

With all the steel taken out and stored in a yard in Hamilton – (unfortunately at the city’s expenses) because it might be needed when the case actually has a Court date.  One could argue – does all the steel have to be kept?  Good argument but you know that the lawyers on the other side will come back with a way to get out of being found responsible should the city dump anything – so at this point – every scrap of evidence is being kept.  Expensive – yes; necessary, probably.

The contractor is now putting together the drawings that will get passed along to the people who are going to fabricate the steel – this is being done by a company in Kitchener.  That work should be done by the time the winter that has just started comes to an end and crews can get out and beginning riveting the steel in place and then move on to the concrete pours.

It’s all happening on time and no snags or problems.  The city’s engineering department is watching this one like a hawk with an eye on a snake that is trying to slither away.



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Burlington women gather to celebrate and listen to a financial leader talk about climbing the corporate ladder.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 13, 2012  The girls are going to show the guys how they have a plan to take over the world. On March 2nd, Paddy Torsney will host the 16th  Burlington International Women’s Day breakfast to be held at what was once the Holiday Inn Burlington, South Service Road and Guelph Line.

The speaker this year is Burlington resident Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators Group Limited. Bardswick is one of the few women in Canada to head a large financial institution. She will share with us her life’s journey and secrets for success.

Bardswick, featured speaker at the 16th Burlington International Woman's Day breakfast, heads up The Co-operators, a large Canadian insurance company.

Kathy Bardswick began her career with The Co-operators in 1978. Prior to her appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Co-operators Group on March 1, 2002, she served as Chief Operating Officer of The Sovereign General and L’UNION CANADIENNE. From 1998-2002, she was in charge of operations for these companies and their subsidiaries under the umbrella of The Co-operators Group Limited.

A graduate of McMaster University’s M.B.A. program, Kathy Bardswick also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Manitoba.

She is Chairperson of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Equally active in the co-operative sector, Kathy served as Chair of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation. She is currently a member of the ICMIF Executive. She is also a board member of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

International Women’s Day celebrates the accomplishments of women and girls in our community, our country and around the world. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and plan for the future.

This annual event in Burlington allows people to celebrate, network, learn and be inspired.  Our generous sponsors will ensure girls from each of our high schools in Burlington attend and you may wish to sponsor students you know.

Tickets are available at A Different Drummer Bookstore (see below) for $15 each and must be purchased in advance.  Every year, this event has been sold out – so get your tickets early.

We are told that men and boys are welcome to join and celebrate women and girls!  But no high heels guys.



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Making the business hubs work; Aldershot seems to have developed an integrated approach; how is Brant Street doing?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 10, 2011  – What is it that brings about economic growth in a community?  How can the strides that are taking place along Plains Road in Aldershot be grafted onto the downtown core?

The Plains Road Village Vision Group (PRVV) have shown that when people in the community want change to take place – it happens.  When Shoppers Drug Mart opened their location on Plains Road they had planned on using their template for the store.  Shoppers has a way of doing things and they planned to follow the formula..

Plains Road - no longer just the highway to Hamilton but now a Main Street in a part of the city with an identity of its own

Not so fast said members of the community.  We’d like to see the orientation of the store more towards the street and not the parking lot you’re putting in – and while you’re at it – we want you to place one of the benches we’ve created close to the front of the store.  And the door should be placed facing the street.

The bench is in place; the greenery at the front of the location is pretty consistent with the rest of the street and there is a door that faces the street – but it’s kept locked – you can’t use it.  Which underlines the phrase – you can’t win every time.  But the Plains Road Village Vision win often enough and a road that was once the main route through to Hamilton has become a street that is a little slower when it comes to traffic and is certainly much nicer to walk along.  There are shops and restaurants and new projects are announced almost monthly.  The shovels go into the ground whereas in downtown Burlington a project is announced and that’s about it.

The Ontario Municipal Board recently gave a developer additional height at the James – Brant intersection, which made him happy but the same developer has a major project past the approval stage for John Street.  No shovels in the ground there yet.

The PRVV people have done such a good job on their end of things that the local Business Improvement Association has made the PRVV a formal subcommittee of the BIA. “In my view” said Ward Council member Rick Craven, “this initiative will strengthen both groups and serve the interests of Aldershot very well”.

Looks very cosmopolitan - and it is. But property taxes take a big chunk out of the revenue.

Meanwhile the downtown Burlington merchants struggle attracting traffic and making Brant Street vibrant.  Downtown rents are a killer for those who don’t own their buildings and taxes, up significantly due in some measure to the high rise condos that have been built, don’t allow these business people to see the profits they need to grow.

That cup of coffee on Brant Street is the same price as that cup of coffee on Plains Road but the tax portion of the rent on Brant is a lot higher than it is on Plains Road

Much to the chagrin of the Brant Street merchants, as well as their colleagues on the streets east and west of Brant, the condos brought tax increases but didn’t do much in the way of directing traffic to their doors.

All that hustle and bustle at Spencer Smith Park during the Sound of Music and RibFest doesn’t drive much traffic up Brant Street either.

While the people in Aldershot seem to have a grip on what their issues are and are working together to make the best of what they do have – Downtown can’t seem to make things work for them.  During the Christmas Season at least two well-known restaurants did nothing to dress up their street scape.  There wasn’t much of a “festiveness” on the street while the Village Square made their location look inviting at least.

Retail and hospitality are a grind – it isn’t easy to stay fresh, be seen as “the place” to get to and have fun or enjoy a meal.  When retail is good – it’s great – it’s just isn’t all that good much of the time.

Are there lessons for the Burlington Downtown Business Association with what Aldershot’s BIA is doing?  Might be worth looking into.  Is there an equivalent to the Plains Road Village Vision representing the downtown merchants?  That too might be worth looking into.

And does anyone have any thoughts on what the Festival of Lights will be doing for sponsorship next winter?  And if anyone happens to know where those reindeer wandered off to – give the Festival of Lights folks a call.



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The woof woofs went bow wow and suddenly there was a handful of firearms and a grow op. Nibbles and bits for that puppy.

By Pepper Parr

Thursday evening the Halton Regional Police Guns and Gangs investigators along with the Emergency Services Unit raided a high risk east end Burlington residence and uncovered a sophisticated hydroponic grow-op with a hydro bypass, marihuana as well as  a variety of prohibited weapons (flick knives and pepper spray) and a loaded .45 calibre pistol.

Cst Mitchell with police dog Juno being trained. Another police dog, Storm, was used in the drug raid in east end Burlington.

Police Services Dog, STORM, a general patrol dog who is also trained in the detection of firearms, was instrumental in the discovery of the pistol.  The .45 calibre pistol was loaded.  A gun of this size is very, very powerful and a Kevlar vest is not going to be much help.  In addition to the .45 calibre pistol, investigators seized 22 other firearms from the residence.

This residence was clearly a very dangerous place that undercover police have probably been watching for some time.

The Halton Regional Police successfully dismantled a residential grow home and recovered a loaded firearm with the assistance of Police Services Dog, ‘STORM’.

Burlington Hydro took part in the raid to ensure that the lights do not come back on.

ACCUSED are: Graham ALLEN, 40 of Burlington; Grace ALLEN, 36 also of Burlington.

They have been charged with:

Theft of Hydro (consumption)

Occupants Injure Building

Produce Controlled Substance

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a Restricted Firearm with Ammunition

Possession of a Prohibited Weapon (5 counts)

Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

Contravention of Storage Regulations (four counts)

Careless Storage of a Firearm

The police threw every charge they could think at these two.  This investigation is going to be ongoing for some time.

I’d like to add some context to this news item..  A .45 calibre revolver blows a big hole in whatever it hits.  The damage it does is not something one recovers from easily.  Each day men and women are sent out on a raid which their commanding officers prepare them for – but there is no preparation for a bullet coming out of a .45 calibre handgun.

When most of us go to work each day we expect to come home unharmed.  The officer who took part in that raid in east end Burlington on Thursday expected to get home that night.  Fortunately the handgun was not in the hands of a criminal about to be arrested.  They were lucky.  It doesn’t always work out that way.

Investigators remind the public to utilize Crime Stoppers to report any illegal drug, gang or gun activity at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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The Drury Lane bridge will get repaired if Council lives up to what it passed at Committee. But it will be just a five year patch.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 9, 2012  It looks as if the Glenwood School Drive community is going to get some relief for the bridge that has yet to fall down – but they had to fight for every yard they gained in the battle with their city council.

No longer safe for the public to use the Drury Lane pedestrian Bridge was closed in November. Estimate is that $2 million will be needed to re-build and $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

The bridge that crosses the GO train tracks at Drury Lane was closed very suddenly last November 25th.  An inspection of the structure, that was first put up in 1972 and modified and repaired a number of times since then, was found to be unsafe.

Suddenly a community that is basically landlocked, found that it had to take trips that required 55 minutes as opposed to the normal 20 minutes.  Parents found they could not get their kids to school on time.  Most of all – they missed standing in the middle of the bridge that crossed the tracks and watching the trains pass beneath them and hearing the engineer blow the train whistle.  For many it was almost a “right of passage”.

A community that used to have a way out to commercial Fairview and south to the commercial core was suddenly floundering to figure out how they were going to get around and, more significantly, how they were going to deal with a city council that seemed to have forgotten all about them.

Six month before that same city council stuffed an additional 54 housing units into six lots that previously held six houses.  They weren’t listened to then and they were afraid they were not going to be listened to this time either.  They had no idea what to do.  They used all the old time tactics – put together a petition that had 240 names on it – from a community with 400 homes.  They held a community meeting, called people at city hall and met with their ward Councillor.

They gave the petition to their ward Councillor and neglected to keep a copy for themselves and had nothing to follow up with when they realized it was going to take more than a petition to get their bridge fixed.

Due to the nature of the issue a matter that goes to committee first was referred to Council rather than discussed at much length at the committee stage – There was no community input at the first Committee meting.  The community showed up for the Council meeting a few weeks later only to be told that it was going to be sent back to Committee so that some of the ideas that had come to the surface could be resolved.  At this point the city was looking at the creation of some paths that would make use of the GO train tunnels under the train tracks; but that didn’t pan out – so the city was looking at replacing a bridge that they felt not very many people used and they didn’t like the look of the $2 million + price tag they were staring in the face.

And that’s what happened Wednesday evening – when 60 residents filled the Council chamber and nine  residents delegated to council committee.  The Council members got an earful from a community that may have been seen as not fully prepared but this time they had their ducks lined up and they weren’t taking a no for an answer.

Unfortunately a number of things happened before the residents got to have their say.  For some reason, the order in which delegations were to be heard got mixed up; add to that the meeting was chaired by an inexperienced Council member and managed by a Clerk that didn’t seem to know how to advise her Chair.

Child of a Queensway community parent waits patiently for their turn at the delegation podium. City Manager Jeff Fielding chose to sit in the public gallery and watch his staff handle the meeting.

Dysfunction was made to look acceptable when a Council member went on and on, and on and on some more about accepting the Cycling Master Plan, technical data on the width of lanes and the separation of bicycle lanes and traffic counts.  Ward 5 Councillor Sharman, who can be very biting when he chooses did ask for the forbearance of his fellow Council members as he asked question after question of staff who struggled to find answers.

Meanwhile sixty adults, many with school age children on their laps waited, and waited for Councillor Sharman to end his questioning of staff on a subject few in the public gallery came to hear about.  As Sharman droned on, several members of Council, three by my count, were thumbing through the Procedural Manual; perhaps looking for a way to bring this farce session to an end.

An enlightened chair could have and should have shifted the order of the agenda and moved the sixty residents with their nine delegations forward.  To make it all even more dismaying – after the delegations were given staff then gave a report setting out what the options were for the bridge problem. The residents would have liked to have heard those options before they delegated.

It got worse.  After hearing some very sensible comments made during the delegations when everyone thought they were done one parent stood and asked when her children and their Dad were going to speak.  The delegation list had failed to include the children so they didn’t come forward when their Mother did.  The chair wasn’t quite sure she wanted to entertain yet another speaker and the result of that gaffe was a pre-teen child in tears because she felt she wasn’t going to get her chance to be heard.

It wasn’t over yet either.  One delegate was delivering a fine series of statements and was then told that her time was up.  Each delegate has ten minutes at committee.  Lisa Hayes turned away from the podium after telling the chair there was something wrong with her clock.  Hayes was correct – she got cut off at the six and a half minute point of her delegation.

It didn’t get much better when it got to questions of Council members to staff and then comments from Council members.  It had become clear at this point that Council had been swayed by the comments from the community – they were going to have to do something.

The two options that would have the residents walking some distance to use the GO tunnels underneath the railway tracks were not going to work but that the first step of repairing the bridge and re-opening it at a cost of $380,000 was going to be what got through the Committee meeting.  The cost of the repairs aren’t  going to put much of a dent in the city budget – the funds used will come from savings at the Brant/Fairview upgrade.

The Drury Lane bridge spans the GO train tracks and has been the location where local residents stand and wave to the trains passing beneath.

But Council still kept moaning about this “unexpected cost” and for a time didn’t appear prepared to spend any money on this community.  The replacing the bridge option was estimated to cost something in excess of $2 million while the underpass was estimated to cost about $1.5 million – appreciate that these numbers were all back of the envelope stuff.

The 240 residents that signed the petition and the 60 people in the Council chamber along with the nine delegations now knew that if you want to win at city hall – you pack the Council chamber and you make yourselves heard – and you watch the clock to ensure you get your full ten minutes.

Next step for this community is to make sure they are a part of the design of whatever Council decides to do – re-build the bridge or put in a tunnel.

For the record what staff put forward will have the bridge back in operation this summer and give the city a five year time frame to figure out what to do next for a community that depends on the bridge.

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Halton police solve Burlington robbery before it gets reported; one adult male and one youth charged.

By Staff

Halton Regional Police laid robbery charges against an 18-yr-old man and a 16-yr-old youth, when suspicions the officers had, proved accurate.

On February 8, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. a group of youths were walking through the ravine area behind Alexander Public School, in Burlington, when they were confronted by two males.  The males ordered the youths to empty their pockets, physically restraining one of the youths to search him and restricted the movements of the other youths throughout the encounter.  While the one youth was being physically restrained, his glasses were broken.

The males fled after stealing two i-phones.

Police didn't know they had their man until the robbery report came in - but they had their suspicions - which proved to be true.

Subsequent to the robbery, but prior to it being reported, plain-clothed officers were in the vicinity of the school on an unrelated matter.  Officers observed the suspects on school property, had conversation with them and obtained their identities.

When the robbery was reported later and descriptions of the suspects given out, the officers who were in the area “on an unrelated matter” knew who the bandits were and where they lived. The police arrested the two without incident.

ACCUSED:  Akenson TELESFORD, 18 yrs, of Oakville.  CHARGES:  Forcible Confinement (four counts), Robbery (two counts), Breach of Recognizance.

ACCUSED:  16-year-old male from Burlington (whose identity is protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act).  CHARGES:  Forcible Confinement (four counts), Robbery (two counts).

The question that isn’t answered is: What was the unrelated matter that had the plain clothes officers in the ravine in the first place.  Something’s up.



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Like it or not you have to deal with Facebook’s new layout. Here’s how you lock down your profile – post-Timeline.

ItCanada.ca publishes more than half a dozen technology magazines including CIO Canada and Network World.   They are a reputable publisher that has been in business for quite a while.  They recently did a piece on securing your Facebook data.

Our Burlington is about to embark on a series about Identity Theft and this is as good a way as there is to get you started on securing your identity.  Most of us use Facebook and like the way it allows us to keep in touch with people we don’t see very often.  Louise tells me about how she takes care of pets; Cory inundates me with things about the NDP that I really don’t need to know, Brian somehow digs out trivia stuff that I usually don’t get and I’ve got a guy in Spain who shares a family name with me – and that’s about all.  I enjoy the service but really resent someone using the information and comments I put up on the web site to their advantage.  If I’ve made you a Friend then be my friend and respect my privacy.

Set out below are five ways to secure your new profile

By Logan Kugler

With the ongoing rollout of Facebook’s Timeline feature, security and privacy have never been more important to your digital life. The new layout presents all of your current and past activities on Facebook — posts, photos, comments, likes and so on — in a handy timeline format to anyone with access to your profile, which may include friends of friends, colleagues, executives at your company, a potential future boss … well, you get the idea.

If you’ve made the jump to Timeline — and if you haven’t, you will within the next few weeks, like it or not — you should know that Facebook has changed a few things, and there are certain settings you need to pay attention to if you’re concerned about what parts of your life others can see. Here’s how to lock down your profile in the post-Timeline world.

1. Limit your connections

Most key privacy settings are accessible by clicking the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your profile screen (next to your name and the Home button). From here, select Privacy Settings in the drop-down menu.

Protecting your Facebook data: Rule # 1 - Limit your connections

Click on Edit Settings next to the How You Connect option to begin your profile lockdown. This section contains five privacy settings.

The first three settings govern who can look up your profile and see your contact information, who can friend you and who can send you messages. For maximum privacy, change the first and third settings to Friends, thereby preventing anyone else from looking up your profile or sending you messages.

The second setting governs who can send you Friend requests. The more secure choice is Friends of Friends, but it limits your connectivity on the world’s largest social network. If you’re worried about losing out on friendship opportunities, keep it set to Everyone.

The last two settings dictate who can post on your timeline and who sees those posts. Only Me is the safest option, but choosing it severely reduces the number of interactions Facebook offers. If you’re seriously considering limiting your timeline posts to you and only you, it might be time to leave Facebook entirely.

Setting both of these options to Friends is relatively safe while still allowing the sharing that makes Facebook fun. And there is a way to review posts from friends before they appear on your timeline, as you’ll see in the next section of the story.

2. Tailor your tags

An easily missed entry in the Privacy Settings is one innocuously labeled How Tags Work. However, it is essential to tweak the settings found here if you want to take control of your profile’s privacy, as some tagging actions can be pretty invasive.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 2 Tailor your tags.

The first two settings (Timeline Review and Tag Review) are particularly useful. When you enable them, you can review posts and photos that friends tag you in, as well as the tags friends add to your own posts — all before this information goes public. That’s especially valuable if you have well-meaning friends who think tagging you in those Vegas party photos is a good idea.

The third setting, Maximum Timeline Visibility, should be set to Friends or customized for certain friend lists or networks to ensure that these tagged posts, once approved, aren’t seen by everyone.

Disable the fourth setting on the list, Tag Suggestions. It makes it harder for friends to tag large quantities of photos featuring you or people that look like you. But it also takes some of your profile’s privacy out of the hands of others.

The last setting on the list is seriously important: It determines whether or not friends can check you in to places. Turn it off. The only thing worse than constantly broadcasting your location is having someone else do it without your express permission.

3. Rein in app permissions

Speaking of permissions, the permission window that used to appear frequently when Facebook apps wanted to access your profile information is pretty much MIA now. Currently, apps need to ask you only once for permission. Once they do, they’ll mine your profile information as often as need be, sometimes even when the app isn’t being used.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 3 - Rein in your app permissions.

Fortunately, there’s a privacy fix. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick one, since you’ll have to tweak each app’s settings individually.

In the main Privacy Settings, click on Edit Settings next to the Apps and Web sites entry to bring up the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings page. Next to “Apps you use,” click on Edit Settings again to access a full list of apps running on your profile. Each app is accompanied by an Edit button, which displays the app’s permissions when clicked. Each app has different permissions enabled, so you’ll have to check each one individually.

Here’s the bad news: Some permissions, such as sharing basic profile information with the app, cannot be altered. These are marked by the grayed-out word “Required” next to the particular permission.

Other settings, however, have the word “Remove” next to them — click on it to remove any permission. These are the only items that can be changed, so you’ll have to take a hard look at what permissions an app deems a necessity. If you don’t like what you see, click “Remove app” at the top of the same page and learn to live without that app.

For the apps you do keep, it’s important to control who sees the information that the apps share — many of them are designed to broadcast your activities on your timeline and in the “ticker” on the right side of users’ home pages. At the bottom of each app’s permissions page is another important option entry titled “App activity privacy.” Click on the drop-down menu and select Only Me to be sure your app activity isn’t seen by anyone else.

Similarly, if you install any new apps, be sure to select Only Me under “Who can see activity from this app on Facebook” on the installation page.

4. Stop others from taking your information with them

The Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings also contain some other features that security hounds would be wise to disable.

Protecting your FAcebook data. Rule # 4 Stop others from taking your information.

Click on Edit Settings next to the entry labeled “How people bring your info to the apps they use.” Other users may be able to bring your personal information with them when they use apps and Web sites. It’s all in the interest of making things more social. It can also be invasive. Uncheck the box next to each information category listed (there are 17 of them) to prevent others from using your personal data.

Head back to the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings and click Edit Settings for the “Instant personalization” category. This option should be turned off by default, but check to make sure. You’ll first see a pop-up screen explaining the feature; when you close that, you’ll be able to see whether it’s enabled. If it is, disable it. This will prevent Facebook partner sites from accessing your public information to personalize your experience on their own Web sites.

5. Reduce your social footprint

Sharing is the whole point of Facebook, but the Timeline layout sometimes takes this to extremes, making it easy for others to see all your activity from years gone by. The good news is that you can disable Recent Activity updates, which broadcast new friendships, groups you’ve joined and any other changes in your basic information (such as relationship status or political views). Just click on the X next to a Recent Activity update on your timeline and select Hide Similar Activity from Timeline.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 5 Reduce your social footprint.

This makes the process of hiding certain activities from your past a little easier. But here’s the bad news: Individual status updates or posts from, say, your less judicious days need to be removed individually by clicking the pencil icon next to each item and choosing Hide from Timeline — a process that could take you to the end of 2012 if you’ve ever been very active on Facebook.

There’s a limited solution, though: In the main Privacy Settings window, the second-to-last entry on the list is titled Limit the Audience for Past Posts. Click on the Manage Past Post Visibility link next to it. A window will appear giving you the option to change all past posts so that they’re visible only to friends. Click Limit Old Posts to do so.

That will at least prevent anyone other than people you’ve friended from seeing older items on your timeline. But considering that your boss, colleagues and other acquaintances may be among your Facebook friends, it’s still a good idea to review your entire timeline and remove compromising status updates, comments, links and photos. Start with the oldest items first. When you first started using Facebook, you probably had fewer contacts and might have posted and commented with less caution than you’ve done more recently.

As a last precaution, make sure that everything you post on Facebook moving forward is shared only with friends, specific networks or friend lists: Click the drop-down box next to your status update, comment, link or other shared content and select Friends or a group. For even more granular control over who can and can’t see a post, select the Custom option.

It bears mentioning that the last and best defense against digital privacy invasions is common sense. You may want to be a bit irreverent with your Facebook friends — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But ask yourself if you’d wave that questionable photo or say that pithy comment in front of someone who could affect your future hiring prospects. If not, think twice before you post it on Facebook.




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Fire department looking for volunteers. Is a firefighters calendar part of the job?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 8, 2012  The fire department is looking for individuals who are interested in a challenging opportunity to serve their community as a volunteer firefighter. You can get an application on February 13, 2012.

Is this man over 18 and a Burlington resident? Then he must be a Burlington Fire Fighter.

All applicants must be a Burlington resident and at least 18 years old; meet the volunteer firefighter requirements as outlined on the city’s website and be prepared to volunteer your time for training, firefighting and other related duties.

The information you need is on the city website: www.burlington.ca/fire.

The application period is from February 13, 2012. To 11:59p.m., Feb. 24, 2012.

Burlington’s fire department consists of both professional and volunteer firefighters, employing 203 full-time staff and 65 volunteers. Being a volunteer firefighter is no ordinary job; the work is varied and challenging. New recruits will be assigned to Fire Headquarters, Station No. 1 located on Fairview Street or Fire Station No. 5 located in Kilbride based on where the applicant lives. The Kilbride station covers the rural areas of Burlington, mostly north of No. 2 Side road.

There was no mention of getting your picture on a fire fighters calendar in the press release.

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They should have given Marvelous Mike a nicer anniversary present.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 7, 2012    Now look at what you’ve done Mike.  The Dippers have called for a study on the inappropriate use of secret sessions at all of the federal government committees where legislation is studied, debated, altered and approved.  Had you not attempted to slip through a motion that would allow for those secret meetings the Dippers would never had known that the subject needed study.

And for this to happen on the anniversary of your being sworn in as a Member of the House of Commons in 2006 – well, this is a real let down.  With six years as an MP under your belt you now qualify for that deliciously fat federal pension – which is going to be kind of awkward to square when you meet with seniors later this month and tell them that you are bringing them some help with their income tax returns.  It is not easy being an MP – but you already know that.

Now for those readers who do not read what comes out of Ottawa every day – some background.

Burlington`s Conservative MP Mike Wallace tried to introduce a motion at the government operations committee, of which he is the vice chair, that would force the public to leave the room whenever the committee is determining such matters as which witnesses to call and what subjects to investigate.  Conservative MPs on other committees introduced similar motions.

Marvelous Mike explained at that time that witnesses at the government operations committee would still be heard in public.  “But then” he added “we go in camera to discuss who we are going to invite next and what study we are going to do, all that kind of stuff.  It gives members of Parliament an opportunity to speak frankly about what should be next for the committee to study.”  It also keeps the public from knowing anything about certain witnesses.

The Dippers were certain that the government was up to something and given that they are now the official opposition they felt they had to do something and because they didn’t know what to actually do – they opted to call for a study.

The federal New Democrats are trying to ensure that the Conservative government does not push the debate at Commons committees behind closed doors. Chris Charlton, the NDP Whip, introduced a motion Tuesday at the procedures and House affairs committee calling on the committee to begin a study of the “inappropriate” use of secret sessions at all of the committees where legislation is studied, debated, altered and approved.

“I think it’s really important that committees stay one of the accountable and transparent parts of Parliamentary process which they have always been,” Ms. Charlton said going in to the committee room.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I think we have seen that the government members are increasingly anxious to move things in camera so that media can’t have access, Canadians can’t have access, and no one is sure what is happening behind closed doors.”

They were talking about you Marvelous Mike and I don`t think they were being very nice.  The least they could have done was congratulate you on the anniversary of your being sworn in as an MP – goodness knows, most of those Dippers aren’t going to make it to that, heaven on earth day, otherwise known as becoming eligible for a fat pension.  Most of them are one term members at best.

“For most Canadians, what happens inside committees is sort of insider baseball,” said Ms. Charlton. “But the reality is that when pensions, for example, are being debated in this House, Canadians have a stake in what happens. And by being able to makes submissions to committees, by having the media report about what’s happening in committees, they are informed about what this government is doing. It’s a critical part of accountability.”

Marc Garneau, a Liberal member of the procedures and House affairs committee, and by the way a former astronaut who was the first Canadian to go into space, said he agreed with Ms. Charlton.

The Committees should be “as public as we can be,” said Mr. Garneau. “There are a few occasions when it has to be in camera, but, as much as possible, the principle should be that it should not be in camera so the media and the public have maximum access.”




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Two geniuses use hand gun in a Lakeshore Road convenience store robbery.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 7, 2012  – Perfectly innocent people are victimized by crime and when that criminal is a gun toting youth sticking a gun in your face and ordering you to get down on the floor – becoming a victim takes on a whole new meaning.  Few people ever recover from an armed robbery.  The trauma is with them for the rest of their lives.

Last Sunday at around 7:00 a.m., two men, one armed with a handgun, entered the Real Convenience Mart, located at 5353 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington.

The firearm was pointed directly at the store clerk, death threats were made and the clerk was ordered to the ground.

The men stole the cash content of the till and the ATM located inside the store – not sure how they managed to do that but that is what the police reported.

The suspects also took several cartons of cigarettes and lottery tickets, which were all stuffed into a duffel bag.  The clue that these two were not in the genius category is in the theft of lottery tickets.  True justice would have them stealing a ticket worth a couple of million – but these idiots wouldn’t be able to collect on it because the lottery people know where every ticket is sold – cash a winning ticket and they’ve got you.

These two geniuses were described by police as follows:

Suspect # 1

Description:  male, white, 20-25 years of age, 5’9 to 6’0 tall, approximately 175 – 180 lbs, average build, short dirty blonde hair with receding hairline, fair complexion.

Clothing: Dark coloured jacket with “New York” on the back with a possible Yankees patch on the front. White hoodie underneath the jacket, dark jeans, and white runners.

 Suspect # 2

Description: male, white, 20-25 years of age, 5’6 to 5’7 tall, approximately 140 – 150 lbs, slim build, with dark hair, fair complexion. Lettered tattoos on his right forearm.

Clothing: Dark coloured jacket, dark jeans, white runners.

They are believed to have fled the scene in a newer model sedan, possibly a Toyota Corolla or Camry.

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

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Gas prices significantly lower in Hamilton for all brands – why, and what can you do about it?

By Pepper Parr

Each Sunday we drive to Hamilton to attend the church of our choice and unless we are late, there is nice comfortable conversation along the way.  A few Sunday’s ago I turned to the Missus and asked: Are all the gas prices in Hamilton lower than they are in Burlington – and if they are – why are they lower?

With no snow in the driveway this Sunday, February 5th  we set out to document what differences there were in the gasoline prices in Burlington and Hamilton.

We drove south from Upper Middle Road and down Guelph line and took pictures at four gas stations, some offering regular gas at the same price, some with lower prices.

With that information in the camera we headed to Hamilton and went west along Main Street in the Westdale community next to McMaster University where we took pictures of the same brand gas stations and recorded their prices.

In Burlington regular gasoline at the

The Shell station on Guelph line $1.249 per litre

Burlington Esso on Guelph Line $1.249

The Petro Canada station immediately across the road from Esso also wanted $1.249

Shell station on Guelph Line and Mainway was $1.249 cents per litre.

At the Esso station just across the road gas was $1.249 a litre

Husky was the lowest amongst the Guelph Line stations - $1.247 per litre

At the Petro Canada station, across the road from the Esso station gas was $1.249 per litre

At the Husky Station a little further north on the west side of Guelph line gas was $1.247

A ten minute drive into Hamilton and the prices were a lot lower – low enough to make the trip worth your while ?  Perhaps not but we make a point of gassing up when we are in Hamilton.

Here are the Hamilton prices:

Esso station $1.226

Husky station $1.226

Shell station $121.9

Best price in Hamilton was at the independent Pioneer station where gas was $1.217 per litre

Pioneer station $1.217


At the Shell station on Main West in Hamilton - $1.219 per litre of regular gas

Regular gas at the Hamilton Esso station $1.226

Husky in Hamilton $1.226Why the difference in prices?  Because that is what the retailers can get away with.  Prices for each brand of gas are set by the regional marketing office but the change is made at the gas station.  We tend to use Shell because they hand out Air Mile points and were told by the operator at that station in Hamilton that he had “the lowest price on the strip”.  This guy obviously wanted the business and was prepared to cut his price by a couple of pennies to get it.  The Shell station in Burlington is more convenient for me but the guy in Hamilton wants my business and because I am driving by once a week anyway – he gets the business.

Best price in Hamilton was at the independent Pioneer station where gas was $1.217 per litre

And that is about all you have in the way of impact on market prices.  Stop buying your gas at places that have higher prices – and if enough people do that – the price will come down.

After driving by the gas stations and checking out the prices we went on into Dundas to just look around and get some exercise and have lunch.  Their Main Street was a delight to walk along and there was all kinds of stuff to see.  Walking through their Heritage district was a pure delight.

The sign certainly caught our attention. Perky, inviting. Retailers in Dundas aren't beaten down the way those in Burlington are who have to compete with malls that have tens of thousands to spend on upgrades.

Posts that flyers can be put up on make streets in Dundas a little more friendly.

We wondered what it was that made the downtown part of Dundas so pleasant and the retail stores so attractive.  Well even though it was a Sunday there were lots of people on the street; the weather certainly helped.  The streets were welcoming, the merchants had a certain perkiness to them  and the local Business Improvement Area had made the streets a little more people friendly.

What was it that made the difference.  No malls, at least not the customer sucking malls that pull everything away from Burlington`s downtown core.

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Halton police detectives lead investigation and arrests of a gang of ATM skimmers, recover $30,000 cash.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 3, 2012  –  The chiefs all looked a little wooden but it was a great day for the two Halton Regional Police Service detectives who told how, working from a tip, they managed to break wide open a significant gang of organized criminals who were scamming automated banking machines and tucking hundreds of thousands of dollars into their own pockets.

There were representatives from the OPP, Durham, Halton, Toronto and the Canadian Bankers Association - all basking in the glow of some fine police work done by two Detectives

Det.-Constable Dwayne Perron and Det.-Sgt Brad Murray handled most of the questions during the press conference and they clearly had a firm grip on what was done and how it was done.  Cases like this could be career makers for these two officers.   They were the lead players in what was described as one of the larger press conferences the Halton Police have held.

The police displayed a table of currency they had seized when they raided a number of locations including a credit card lab and arrested twelve people who were part of a gang that stole at least $300,000, stolen from customers and banks in Halton and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Police also seized what they called an impressive collection of electronic devices that were part of a credit card duplication lab set up by the criminals

Halton Detectives Murray and Perron explaining to the media how the ATM skimming operation worked and some details on the investigation they carried out that arrested twelve people.

During a Friday morning press conference at the Oak Walk Drive police station, police displayed around $40,000 seized during the operation and dozens of pieces of equipment, which they said was used to capture and record people’s banking information.

The investigation became active when a financial institution investigator alerted them to the skimming in October 2011.  Police had reason to believe the gang had been operating since about April 2010.

Besides the two detectives who ran the investigation there were representatives from Durham Regional Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police, York Regional Police, and the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit who were all part of the investigation and collectively executed eight Criminal Code search warrants on residences in Markham, Vaughan and Toronto.

Along with the $40,000 cash police found what they described as a credit card printing lab, instruments used to forge credit cards and numerous fraudulent credit cards.  Three vehicles were also seized.

Halton Police Chief Gary Crowell said: “This particular fraud involved the suspect’s installing illegal skimming devices and hidden video cameras on bank machines and gas station credit card readers, conducting counter surveillance to ensure the devices were not discovered by the public or the police and subsequently removing these devices,”

Police recovered camera equipment, false fronts used on legitimate ATM machines along with small electronic boards that aided in the capture of data. Also seized were a collection of blank bank cards.

“Once the devices were removed by the suspects, the stolen data was then downloaded and compared to hidden camera surveillance that they had obtained, thereby revealing the PINs of the victims’ bank or credit cards. The downloaded data and the PINs were then encoded onto a variety of fraudulent cards.”

Crowell explained that with this information the suspects would then either withdraw money directly from the victims’ accounts or make direct purchases with the fraudulent cards.  During the investigation some of the suspects were caught on surveillance tapes when they installed the devices.

Police estimate the suspects compromised 280 bank machines and around 10 gas station credit card readers across the GTA.  Det.-Constable Dwayne Perron said 35 incidents of this fraud took place in Halton, where only ATMs were targeted.  Police believe the suspects involved in these incidents are part of two separate criminal organizations who shared one credit card lab.

Charged with fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and participation in a criminal organization are: Dmitri Chalenko, 28, Dennis Glukhov, 31, Viacheslav Glukhov, 31, Vadim Glukhov, 53, Alla Glukhov, 53, and Matvey Tchirkov, 29, all of Vaughan; Makar Tchirkov, 24, Rishan Thayalachelvam, 29, and Geevan Negendran, 32, all of Markham; and Janesmathan Vilvarajah, 22, of Toronto.

Charged with fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, participation in a criminal organization, two counts of possession of instruments for use in forging credit cards and two counts of possession of credit card data are: Viatcheslav Shevelev, 27, and Maksym Gaiderov, 22, both of Toronto.

A representative from the Canadian Bankers Association told the press that this kind of skimming ATM`s was on the decline nationally and that the newer `chip and pin`cards were making it harder for thieves to get at the data on the cards.  He explained that banks lose more than half a billion dollars a year on this kind of theft and that banks reimburse customers whose accounts are compromised.

Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowell advised residents to put their hand over the keypad of the ATM machine and to stand close to the screen to avoid being skimmed by hidden cameras.

Chief Crowell recommended people use their hand and body to conceal the keypad when entering their PIN, to check ATMs to make sure card slots all look the same, be suspicious of signs directing them to use a particular ATM, review their credit card and bank account statements regularly and contact their financial institution immediately if unknown transactions or withdrawals are present.

The banks, through a co-ordinated effort with the Canadian Bankers Association are constantly surveying transaction on the Interac network and when they spot something that seems out of the ordinary they will give clients a call and ask if they completed a particular transaction.

This reporter got two calls from the bank during the period of time this investigation was taking place.  Out of the house when the calls came in I was surprised to hear the answering machine tell me that the amount available to me for withdrawal had been reduced to $1.00 and would I call the bank immediately.  I live off that bank card – so I called quickly and was instructed to go to the nearest branch of my bank with my bank card, that was now no longer valid, and have two pieces of photo identification.  Arrived at the bank – they took the old card issued me a new card and said my withdrawal level was back where it has been.

What if that call had come in on a weekend?  I know which gas station I used that card at and I`ll be watching.



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There is one group of citizens who think the city has it right; do the fireman agree ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 4, 2012  – Most of the usual suspects were on hand for one of the public reviews of the 2012 city budget, along with city staff who were ready to explain the finer points of what looks like is going to be about 3.4% tax increase over last year`s which was less than 1%.

Citizens gathering in a public session to review a proposed city budget with Council members on hand to answer questions and staff on hand to delve into the details. They weren't doing that in Syria last Thursday night.

The public event, held at the Burlington Art Centre drew about 30 citizens who went through the workbook the city had provided.  The evening started with an overview from Acting Treasurer Joan Ford after which staff joined each table to go through the well laid out workbook that for those attending , raised questions to consider.

We learned an interesting little bit about the technology the city uses to get the sense of what people in a meeting think about an issue.  The city has a couple of dozen little key pads that look a bit like a remote but are quite a bit smaller.  A question will pop up on a screen and people in the room key in the number that fits their answer to the question – less than two seconds later the results appear on a screen.

General Manager Budgets and Corporate Services, Kim Phillips brought the tool to the meeting – it was kind of neat to see what people in the room thought about a specific issue – you had the answer in seconds.  This sort of thing could and perhaps should be used at larger meetings – say the Heritage Workshops where views are usually very mixed it would help to see what people were thinking.  It was very “real time” and useful.

Here we are at the nitty gritty stage. Citizens have talked through their concerns and the politicians now join them for a more focused conversation. This table had executive level firemen taking part. They want the new station fully manned and they'd like to see funds set aside for the upgrading of the station on Plains Road as well. Lots of firemen on the province's Sunshine list as well. That's the list of those who get paid more than $100,000 annually.

Once a group has gone through the workbook the situation shifts and the politicians who were in the room join the table to discuss the major concern each group had.  This particular public session saw a group from the fire department taking part – we’ve not seen specific stakeholder groups appear at these sessions in the past.  The fire department has clearly decided that they need to make their point in quieter community based sessions.

It was interesting to watch Councillors Mead Ward and Craven along with the Mayor join the table and hear what the group had to say.

The evening ended with each table giving the audience a sense of their take on the budget.  At this session the sense was that the city was on the right track ad that spending was seen as appropriate.  One person thought some of the information given could have been put in a better context and made part of a large picture – good point.

While the workbook is some 20 pages, it covers the points city staff wanted to hear discussed and while there was no sense that anything was being hidden, public input on the questions that were asked, might have been helpful.

Time for these public sessions is limited so the city set out two service choices and asked participants to respond. They were told that the city planned on spending $80.71 on fire protection; $75.74 on capital spending, $66.53 on Roads and Parks Maintenance; $39.42 on Local Boards and committees (Library, Performing Arts Centre, the Economic Development Corporation;  $32.92 on Parks and Recreation services and $28.60 on transit services.

The figures given are for every $100,000 of urban residential assessment – so if your house is assessed at $300,000 then you would multiply the number given by three.

The graph shows what tax rates have been historically. The city portion of the total tax bill has not always been in sync with what the Region and Schools Board ask for. Wide swings during the Jackson administration.

The participants were asked if they would maintain the amount budgeted for 2012; if they would enhance the amount (increase) or reduce the amount budgeted.  Staff were on hand to delve into some of the detail in each of the spending categories.  What would you have done with each of those categories?  If you want to share your view, General Manager Kim Phillips would love to hear from you – she can be reached by email at phillipsk@Burlington.ca

A closer look at the proposed 2012 city budget called for some thinking and some animated discussion at the Burlington Art Centre session last week.

The participants were asked if they would support or not support reducing the frequency of mowing the grass under the Hydro rights of way from five times a year to four times and save $6000.00 .  Or if they would support or not support reducing the school crossing guard coverage during lunch hours at under utilized crossings?  I suspect the parents located near those crossings would like some say on this one – the specific crossings weren’t set out in the workbook – but if you`re concerned  – ask your ward councillor.

There are 15 hanging baskets on Lakeshore Road between Maple and Locust – are they worth the $4000.00 the city spends to put them up and maintain them every year?  Tell your Council member if you don`t think that is money well spent.

Running a city is a complex business and keeping everyone happy is no simple matter.  A lot of people disdain politics – but like it or not – it is the glue that keeps the place together.

The previous session held elsewhere in the community had just five people in the audience and while that is disappointing – there is a very important point being made by the city.  They have, each year, gone out into the community with well-prepared material and organized the event so that everyone had an opportunity to talk and make their views known.  The attendance was disappointing but people in the city know that they can make their views known – so when the budget is approved – let`s not hear a lot of carping about the public having no input.  There are additional public sessions scheduled.  If you’ve got a beef – there is a chance for you to get your two cents worth on the table.

Chamber of Commerce Chair Tamer Fahmi listens in and considers a possible poker game with the assistant treasurer.

The sessions are kind of fun.  One table left the sense they were prepared to get a small game of poker going – heck they were talking about the city budget so why not have some fun.  That the deputy city treasurer along with the President of the Chamber of Commerce was at the table shouldn’t send out any alarm signals – they both looked like quarter a hand players to me.

Small, community based information sessions are just part of the public process.  The budget, both the Capital budget, which is a longer term document and the Current budget – which sets out what is going to be spent in the current year, get discussed at length during the Budget and Corporate Services committee meetings, where any citizen can delegate and be given ten minutes to make their point.  If you’re really hot and bothered about an issue – you can delegate at the Council meeting, where the budget is made official.  You`re expected to have new information if you delegate at Committee and delegate again at Council – and you get just five minutes at a Council meeting.

If you’ve nothing new to say at a Council meeting you get met by stone cold silence from the seven members of city council, who thank you for your delegation and dismiss you – it can be a  humbling experience, and it happens more often than it should.  So if you chooses to delegate – be well prepared with facts and figures.

City council had asked staff to prepare a budget with a tax increase that ranged between 2% and 3.5% – they’ve produced a document that came in at 3.4%.  Council at the Committee stage can and should squeeze this back to 2% and ensure that the needed funds for the road maintenance is in place.

The breakdown of what the city plans to commit itself to for the re-development of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital - when and if it ever gets re-built. The city is looking at a number of ways to collect these amounts. A straight tax levy every year or possibly a longer term funding that would spread the cost over several generations.

There was a very interesting and innovative proposal put forward by Councillor Taylor for a debenture offering that citizens could subscribe to as a way to raise the funds needed to pay for any re-development that gets done on the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.  The proposal would have given citizens a risk free investment opportunity and also have spread out the re-development costs over a longer time frame.  If there is ever a re-developed hospital in Burlington –and it is far from certain that there ever will be one – the cost can and should be spread out over several generations.  Giving people a better financial return than a savings account wouldn’t hurt either.


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Lifestyle change awaiting resident accused of drug trafficking. He`s going to have time to “contemplate”.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 4, 2012  – Jeremy Isard is looking at some new experiences and may be the first person in Burlington to get to know, in a very up close and personal way, the new plans the federal government has for criminals.

You see, Isard got caught with some cocaine in his pocket, not just once – he got caught a couple of times and now they’ve got him in a police cell awaiting a bail hearing.  The Halton Regional Police used one of their undercover officers to meet up with Isard and buy some of that snorting stuff.  Isard must have thought he had a great customer in the making and that maybe that customer had some friends – nothing better than a satisfied customer base to keep the cash rolling in.

Bricks of cocaine - this stuff is produced by the ton. It is BIG business controlled in large measure by organized criminals.

Isard came to the attention of police  in March of last year and began to pay him more attention than he really wanted because they were pretty sure they had a drug trafficker in their sights – the sentence for drug trafficking is seven years in prison – and sentences like that bring great joy to police officers.

More importantly for Jeremy Isard is the change in the rules that determine parole eligibility – by the time Isard’s trial is over his eligibility for parole will be quite a bit different.  The cost of doing business has gone up for Isard and for those who buy the cocaine he  sells are going to have to look for a new supplier – because you know that the undercover police officer was not his only customer.  All the drug transactions took place in the City of Burlington.

Drug dealers can use an iPhone app to weigh the cocaine they are selling you. These guys have the cash flow to buy all the tools they need.

Last Friday, the police determined they had enough evidence and arrested Isard after he sold 1.75 grams of cocaine to an undercover officer.   With handcuffs firmly fitted the police searched their suspect and a residence on  Longmoor Drive in Burlington and found a quantity of cocaine, scales and packaging.  Jeremy was in business”  but his $4500.00 of operating cash was taken in as evidence, which means Isard is going to have to find money somewhere else to pay for a lawyer.  The police scooped up 72 grams of cocaine.  Clearly Isard was just a distributor, hopefully the police got a look at the food chain and can now focus on where the stuff was coming from – and while they were at it – they got a good look at where it was going.  So for those of you who buy the stuff – the police now know who you are, which means you are on a list you didn’t really want to be on.  The police call that a “person of interest”.

Isard, 29 years of age, a Burlington resident, has been charged with two counts of possession of cocaine for the   purpose of trafficking,  six counts of trafficking in cocaine.

Police remind the public that Crime Stoppers is there to report on any illegal drug, gang or gun activity 1 800 222 8477.


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Wallace uses five of his fifteen minutes of fame, the 15 minutes he was a song & dance man at BPAC don`t count.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 1, 2012  – When you get a document that starts with: `”Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a) and the motion adopted by the Committee on Thursday, September 29, 2011, the Committee resumed its study of the Report…`” well you get the drift and will understand when one asks the questions – what are they saying?

According to our trusted source in Ottawa, a House of Commons committee has agreed to look into “the use of secret “In Camera” sessions to discuss substantive motions.”

What this means is that they aren’t going to actually go into secret closed meetings, but that they are going to look into just what all this would mean to the democratic process – and that is a good thing.  Let us hope that the meetings in which they look at the “looking into” are themselves public and open.

All the blue on that map gave MP Mike Wallace the seat and the Conservative party a majority, which they will now do whatever they want with.

Our Ottawa source – the Ms Kayd O’Malley of CBC fame, chimes in with: “To which one can only add a hearty – and parliamentary “Hear, hear.”  Kudos to the opposition for picking up the issue — and to the government members for not shutting it down.

Having committees go into closed session was something Burlington’s MP Mike Wallace attempted to do before the holiday break.  At that time he was advised that he had to give notice of his intention to put forward that kind of a motion and yesterday served notice that is what he would do.

Before Wallace got a chance to put forward such a motion in the Committee of which he was vice chair – a different committee passed a motion to “look into” the use of secret closed meetings.  That meant that the Wallace initiative gets put on ice until the other motion is dealt with..

So, for now, the committees are open to the public and Mike Wallaces’  fifteen minutes of fame  are maybe used up and he has lost his chance to be known for one of the great (some would say shameful) moments in the history of parliamentary procedure.



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The waters under this bridge are not troubled – yet. Council and community going to have to work this out.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 1, 2012  – The good people in the Glenwood School Drive part of the city, who used to use the bridge that crosses the GO train tracks and gets them out of their close to land locked community and onto Fairview where they can access local amenities, now know that the city isn’t interested in spending $2 million plus to build a new bridge and they also know the city is going to listen to them.

All of a sudden - the bridge was closed.

The Queensway area residents really weren’t prepared as a community to deal with the city when it sat in on a Community Services Development Committee meeting  to consider the options available to replace the bridge that had been shut down for safety reasons.  A couple of people appeared at the Committee but didn’t know they could delegate and the chair of the meeting didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to invite someone forward to the podium to comment.  She did caution them when they got a little noisy.  There was a teachable moment lost that evening.

Built in 1972, the contractor told Jack Pierce that it would last forever. Forever arrived late in November and residents have been hoofing it as best they can to get to schools and Fairview.

The proposed cost of getting a bridge over those railway tracks re-built and operational again was a little too stiff for this council – they were looking at a possible $2.5 million for a bridge that handled some 70 trips a day – but it was clear they had to do something – so rather than debate the matter fully at the Committee meeting on January 18th they asked staff to research the option of putting in a pathway that would run from the northern GO station parking lot  through to Fassel Avenue and doing away with the bridge all together.

Cary Clark of the Engineering department was given this football to carry and ten days to get it all figured out and to his credit he came back with all the data needed to make a decision and maps that made it all clear.

From the right: Paolo Valenti, wife Tanya and Jody Kirkwood met with other community members to work out a strategy to take their concerns to city hall

While staff were doing their work the community was also learning about what it could achieve.   They had put together a petition and got 240 signatures on it and gave it to the ward Councillor and then organized as a community to delegate the city.  This time around they were prepared – they had sixteen people who were ready to stand at the podium and tell the city what they wanted and why.  They met with the Marianne Mead Ward, their council member and went through the process and prepared their plan.

Because there was some urgency the Committee that first heard the problem referred it to Council which was meeting ten days later – which is unusual for this council, but it did expedite the situation.

Alas, the residents didn’t get a chance to do their thing at the Council meeting.  The city decided to defer the matter to a full committee meeting, which made sense, but could the city not have found a way to tell the residents the matter was going to be deferred?  There were some 25, perhaps 30 people from the community in the Council Chamber waiting for their chance to speak.  Many of the parents brought the kids with them which made the Council Chamber feel like a day care centre.  They will all be back in February to discuss the solutions the city engineers have come up with.

Ramona Canney of Brinell Avenue has something to say to the committee as does Rohan Nazareth of Glendale Court.  Add to that list Alicia Lovatsis and Sharron Thompson. Gabrial and Olivia Kirkwood and their friends Lainey and Hailey Simpson will take to the podium and speak for the youth in the community.  Paolo Valenti from Glenwood School Drive has become the leader for the community and is learning quickly how city hall works.  He will soon learn whether or not city hall wants to listen,

The biggest nut that had to be dealt with by the city is the price tag – the clear sense from Council members was that a $2 million replacement bridge was just not on.  Here are the options put forward:

Option #1:  A path that would run from the northern GO station parking lot eastward close to 400 metres and then go north on the same path until they join up with the west end of Fassel Avenue.  To make this one work the city has to acquire six very small parcels of land from four different owners and a bridge has to be built over Rambo Creek.  The Conservation Authority gets involved with anything over any of the creeks in Burlington.  This option will come in at $880,000 which includes the $100,000 to demolish the bridge that is no longer safe.

The pathway would be paved with lighting and a chain link fence to separate the pathway and the private property.  Some property owners might want to have gate opened up for them so they could slip out onto the path.  If they do – get your suggestion along to your ward Councillor or to the city engineering department.  The city will tell you that you will have to pay for that gate but if you make your request one of the conditions for being nice, nice about losing your bridge this just might manage to get gates put in free at no cost to you.  Don’t be shy about asking

Option # 1 has a 400 metre path that runs just north of the GO tracks into the northern GO parking lot where people could then take the pedestrian tunnel south to the other side of the tracks and then connect with Fairview.


Option # 2 is quite a bit cheaper for the city but there are some significant concerns with how CN rail will react to having the GO train platforms used as a side walk for Glenwood School Drive resident to use as their side walk to the tunnels that will get them to and from Fairview.  Some safety concerns for young people walking along those platforms was also mentioned – but if the kids aren’t smart enough to be careful, perhaps they shouldn’t be out by themselves.

The route for option #2 is the same as # 1  – residents would walk to the west end of Fassel south on a path which would extend a little bit further and cross some rail tracks and end at the extreme east end of the northern side of the GO train platforms.  There is then a longish walk along the platform to the first tunnel under the tracks that would get residents to the south side parking lot where buses come into the south parking lot.

Option 2 has the residents crossing under the GO tracks and being at the almost extreme east end of the north side of the GO platform. CN might have a problems with people not taking the train using the platform.


This option is quite a bit cheaper $370,000.00 which includes the $100,000 to demolish the existing bridge.

How would genuine community engagement

have made this a better situation for everyone?

How different would this situation have been if there was a Community Engagement Charter in place and the city had someone on staff whose job it was to get out into the community and ask people – “how can I help you with the problem you are having?”

Burlington is at the beginning of the process of pulling together a team that will actually write the charter – but that isn’t going to be available for at least six months.  In the meantime  this Council could show the community that they are there to help and to serve.  Stay tuned.


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Ottawa reporter claims Burlington MP Mike Wallace is about to trash one of our parliamentary traditions

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 31, 2012    In the news business it’s called the “plain brown envelope” that was usually left at the front desk of a newspaper office.  The envelope usually c9ntained documents that were very incriminating – quite often a photograph of someone with someone they were supposed or expected to be with.  Journalists just love this stuff.

The internet changed the plain brown envelope to an email and earlier today we got one that went like this:

Extremely BAD NEWS, but typical of Wallace’s behaviour in the ‘Harper Government.’

Now we see the political slant and while we may not share the viewpoint what was attached to the email did interest us – and should interest anyone who cares a whit about our parliamentary democracy.

The one thing that makes a democracy work is that information flows and is available to the public.  We get to see what they are doing and what they are saying.

Always a smile, often a laugh; you're friendly local MP - putting forward amotion that will end the flow from a committee that does critical Second reading of government bills. a committee that will

Marvelous Mike, Burlington choice to sit in the House of Commons and represent our best interests appears to be the stalking horse for a change the government wants to make in the amount of information that is made available to the public.

A highly regarded Ottawa journalist, at least in the eyes of most members of the press bureau on Parliament Hill, Kady O’Malley said the following:

“Regular readers will doubtless recall last month’s aborted attempt by Conservative MP Mike Wallace to rewrite the government operations committee rules on the fly in order to force all discussion of future business behind closed door,  “as,” he remarked at the time, to the amazement of certain liveblogging onlookers, “it should be.”

What Ms O’Reilly is talking about is pretty technical stuff.  To help understand why this matters; know this.  The government introduces a bill into the House of Commons by what is known as a first reading.  The bill then gets sent to a committee for what is called  Second reading where it is given a line by line review.

It is these Second reading committees that we are focused on.  Marvelous Mike, Burlington’s MP, appears to want to have the committee that he is vice chair of meet behind closed doors – meaning the public never gets to know what they have to say.

Well when the federal government introduces a bill to change the way pension are paid out, you dear reader, will want to know exactly what those rascals are saying.  Bad enough that we taxpayers have to shell out tons of money to pay for the exceptionally rich Members of Parliament are currently given, but to not be able to hhear what each member says during the Committee review of a bill that impacts you directly – is just a little much.

Not much anyone can do about it because Prime Minister Stephen Harper commands a majority government.  In the Parliamentary tradition the House of Commons is expected to debate with each political party getting a chance to put their viewpoint forward.  You can watch and hear what they say during first reading but, if Marvelous Mike Wallace has way, you won’t get to read a word of what goes on during the line by line review of the bill the government has put forward.

Kayd O'Malley, respected Ottawa based journalist cover House of Commons committees like no one else. WAs in the room when Burlington MP Mike Wallace attempted to have a committee move into closed session. will be in the room when Wallace tries to do the same thing again.

What can you do about that – well you let your member know you aren’t pleased and ask for an explanation and listen carefully to the answer and don’t be fooled by the weasel words that get used.  Remember, Mike Wallace is in Ottawa as both YOU Member of Parliament but he is also a member of a government and the current government doesn’t appear to want to make some information available to you the taxpayer.

The committee that Marvelous Mike serves as vice chair is going to hear him put forward a motion – well let’s let Kady O’Malley tell the rest of the story.

“ At the time, the chair — NDP MP Pat Martin — deemed the motion too substantive to have been brought forward without proper notice, which, given the then rapidly approaching break, pushed the whole issue off until … well, now, apparently.

“Word has it that the required notice has been duly given, which means the motion to consider all future committee business in camera could be on the agenda as early as Wednesday, when the committee will convenes its first full meeting of the new year.

“It’s not clear whether that session will take place in public, but given the mathematics of majority, it may not make much difference: If the government wants it to pass, it will pass, which, frankly, would be worrying enough all on its own, considering that Government Operations is, after all, one of the four opposition-chaired oversight committees, and as such, should properly go about its business in public whenever possible.

“Far more unsettling, however, is the prospect that the Wallace manoeuvre was actually a test run, which, if successful, will be repeated at other committees until such time as all future committee business will be conducted beyond the gaze of the public.

“Also under procedural lockdown: the newly created Subcommittee on the Review of the Report on Organized Crime in Canada, a spin-off from Justice, which has been trying, and failing, to sign off on the report in question since the previous parliament, and, perhaps most notably, Environment, whose members are reportedly at loggerheads over the results of its statutory review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

“Given the Keystone XL/Northern Gateway-sparked musings from the prime minister and other senior Conservatives on the need to streamline what they now refer to as the ‘approval’ process, when that report is finally tabled in the Commons, it will likely provide considerable insight on how the government intends to proceed.

The Keystone Pipeline is a something many Canadians want to see built so that the oil from the tar sands in Alberta can be shipped to refineries in Texas.  The Northern Gateway is a pipeline many want to see built from Alberta to the west coast where it will be shipped to China.  These are all great exporting opportunities fr Canada – however they both have significant environmental concerns attached to them and many want to see this decision fully and openly debated.

“Now, it bears noting — again — that there is nothing particularly unorthodox in committees choosing to deal with some matters in private: travel budgets, witness selection and the drafting of reports.

“Still, though, the plethora of padlocks popping up on the committee schedule will likely do little to reassure those who worry that the party that came to power on a pledge to bring unprecedented transparency to Parliament Hill may no longer be committed to the principle that true accountability relies on the watchful eye of the beholder.”

Kady O’Malley is perhaps the very best reporter on parliament hill where she gathers material used on CBC’s Saturday morning radio program The House – best program there is on what is happening in Ottawa.  Marvelous Mike says he doesn’t listen to it – yeah right Mike

We will let you know what our man in Ottawa does on Wednesday.  Do the right thing Mike, and remember what they taught you in grade 10 civics.




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Queensway community residents miss their bridge; city council ponders $2 million replacement.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON January 29, 2012 – It was built in 1972 so that students could get to the school on the other side of the railway tracks.  Jack Pierce a resident in the Glenwood School Drive part of Burlington, south of the QEW and west of Guelph Line, said he was told that it would last forever when it was built.  Forever arrived last November 24th when after a close inspection the city said the bridge was probably not safe for pedestrian use and the city immediately closed the structure.

Built in the 70's to allow people from the Glenwood School Drive community to get to shops and community amenities the bridge is now unsafe.

To have the bridge collapse onto the GO train tracks would create a level of havoc the city could only shudder at.

Now the city has to decide what to do with the bridge and for the people who live in what is sort of a landlocked community.

What came as a bit of a surprise to many was the actual traffic level – the numbers reported were – 70 trips a day – and that counted the trip over as one trip and the trip back as a second trip.  Which suggests that some 35 people use the bridge each day.  Not exactly high traffic but there has to be a way for the people in that community to be able to get out.  The only retail outlet in the community is a very small, slightly shabby convenience store.

The bridge has undergone a number of ongoing fix-ups but there were never any serious problems.  All it needed was regular maintenance.  Somehow, someone missed the degree to which the rusting had taken hold and with that information in hand the bridge got closed – real quick.

One city hall wag was astounded at the dollars that were being suggested to resolve this problem and suggested it might be cheaper to just buy everyone a car or at least a bicycle.  Several members of Council talked of the need for people to do more walking and cycling – which didn’t go down very well with the few people from the community in the audience.

Council committee members were experiencing a little heartburn over the costs involved and discussion took place as to what other options were possible.

The staff report recommended spending the $380,000. to get the bridge operational again and then look into what the options were over the next five years.

That idea didn’t settle with Councillor Sharman all that well and he wondered why it was not possible to create some kind of a foot path westward from the bridge to the GO station parking lot where pedestrians could then use the well-lit underground tunnel to the south side of the tracks and access the transit service from the south side of the tracks.

Example of the rust that has set in throughout the bridge making it unsafe for public use not to mention the havoc that would take place if the thing fell down on the GO tracks.

There were problems with that solution and the answers that came back from staff were based more on what they thought than what they knew.  Turns out there is a small creek running through the property the foot path would be built along and that would mean getting approvals from the Conservation Authority.   The path would have to be paved and lit and during the discussion no one was really sure if the property needed was actually available.

Residents had been without a bridge since November 25th – close to 75 days and all they had to look at was a report with a recommendation that Council didn’t seem too keen on approving.

Staff reports to committee usually get voted on and passed along to a full Council meeting where approval is given.  This report was not voted on but referred to Council so that it would not be delayed till the next round of committee.

The engineers were given their instructions; take a look at that path possibility and come back with some creative solutions.

From the left Julie Kirkwood, Tanya Valenti and husband Paolo with their daughters - these are the people who pulled together the 240 signature petition asking that the bridge be repaired - quickly.

The community wasn’t exactly idle during all this.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone from the community able to make a delegation.  Paolo Valenti, a community resident sat in the public gallery blissfully unaware that he had a right to speak at the meeting.  While he had pulled together a petition from the community he didn’t know they could make a delegation.  He gave the petition with the 240 signatures on it which he passed on to the ward councillor Marianne Mead Ward who didn’t seem to advocate as energetically as she has in the past for this community.

The original options brought to a Community Services Committee meeting were to spend $380,000.00 to fix up the bridge and make it stable for the next five years.  While this is an unexpected expense there was more than $500,000.00 saved on the Fairview Brant intersection road work done so getting the Drury Lane bridge back into service isn’t a financial concern.  City engineers felt it would take four to six months to fix up the bridge to the point where it could be used for foot traffic.

Five years down the road the bridge would have to be completely re-built at a cost of $2,000,000.00 in 2012 dollars.

The community now has a better idea as to just what they can do – expect to see them out at the Council meeting on Monday, the 30th.

What no one mentioned during the Committee meeting was the significant increase in housing that was added to the community last April when Council approved a project that added more than 50 units to property that previously held six houses.  Given the size of the lots – 1/2 acre each for most of them – this community is ripe for developers who want to build smaller units and significantly increase density.


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Region and McMaster name JBMH as preferred site for Family Health Care: is Burlington really on side for this?

 By Pepper Parr

Burlington, Ont. –Jan. 26, 2012—McMaster University has selected Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital as the preferred site for the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre, the city, Halton Region, McMaster University and Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) announced jointly today.  Nice news, but notice the city of Burlington isn’t in that list of names.

Now, pay very close attention to the language used – the JBMH is their preferred site, which is a long mile away from being THE site.  The decision isn’t theirs to make – theirs being McMaster, the Region or the JBMH.

“This is an important announcement for Burlington, and demonstrates a partnership that is devoted to enhancing health care in our city,” Mayor Rick Goldring said today at the Burlington Convention Centre during his State of the City address. “Creating a teaching hospital here in Burlington will raise the quality of health care for the people of Burlington and provide a great complement to the redevelopment of Joseph Brant hospital.”

It might – but isn’t there going to be a teaching element at the new hospital being built in Oakville?  Does anyone really think that the province, who happen to be a little short of cash these days, is going to build a teaching hospital in Burlington?  Great if we can get it – but I don’t think it’s in the cards girls and boys.

The city and the region have committed $10 million to McMaster University as part of the Ron Joyce Centre, housing the DeGroote School of Business, on South Service Road.  This project included a commitment by McMaster to open a Halton McMaster Family Health Centre in downtown Burlington.

Well, McMaster has reneged on Burlington in the past (recall the plans – heck even an announcement and a sign saying parking lot # 4 on John Street was going to be the home of the McMaster/DeGroote School of Business – but somehow the buildings migrated a bit to the south and east of our downtown core.

The Oakville hospital is under construction. Their Foundation has raised more than $18 million. Staff have donated $675,000. JBMH doesn't even have a sign announcing their re-development. There is a drawing.

“One of the key initiatives in the Citizens’ Priorities – Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan is to attract new physicians to establish medical practices in Halton,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr. “A partnership such as this will help to bring new physicians to the Region, and give more residents access to a family doctor.”

The new Oakville hospital is under construction. Hamilton has two hospitals. Is the provincial government going to pay for a large new hospital when there are hospitals less than a 15 minute drive away? Tough to do when the province admits they don't have any money. There are more than 30 other communities looking for money to build hospitals. Milton is in desperate shape.

Doctors are going to come to Halton Mr. Carr but they will be settling in at the NEW Oakville Hospital where there is already a hole in the ground with a fixed price contract signed and more than $18 million raised buy their hospital foundation – of which more than $675, 000.00 came from the staff.

McMaster anticipates using two floors, and about 15,000 square feet (1,394 square metres), of Joseph Brant as part of the Phase 1 project.  All parties hope to be operational at Joseph Brant by the end of 2013.

These guys have taken the Liberal Party resolution to allow the public sale of marijuana too seriously and are clearly setting aside some of their allowance money to buy good weed and a little less on single malt.  McMaster wants those two floors of space and if they have to jerk the public around to get it – well tough on the public.  We’re talking turf here people, not to mention budgets.

“Although we are still working through our approval process, we know this location for the family health centre will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen our ties to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital for the benefit of the hospital, the residents of Burlington and Halton and the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine,” said Dr. David Price, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University. “This centre will also serve our expanding family medicine program in the Region.”

Pipe dreams, pipe dreams and terribly mis-leading.  2013? – they won’t even have a hole in the ground by then.

Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, added: “This is an important step of our move towards having learners from our medical school and many of our health science programs involved in health care throughout Halton.”

The site plan application for Phase 1 will be submitted to the city’s planning and building department in May. Public consultation will help the community better understand the plans at Joseph Brant.

Are these people assuming that the Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Burlington and the JBMH will be signed by May?  It’s been, what, five months in the making so far.  There are people on Burlington city council who don’t want as much as a dime moving out of the reserve fund that has something in excess of $4.8 million in it at the moment.  If one counts the votes on the Burlington city council – I don’t think there are enough to slip this one past the public.

If this Burlington city council gives the JBMH any of the money raised through a special tax levy and all the city has to show for it is a parking garage – every member of council is at risk of not being elected.  Burlington has put up with The Pier debacle and are going along with their Mayor and his decision to complete The Pier.  They will not go along with paying $60 million for a parking lot.

On Aug. 10, 2011, the province confirmed that the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital re-development project is approved. This project, with a budget of more $300 million, will result in a significantly rejuvenated hospital.

You do recall dear readers that we were in the middle of a provincial election and the Liberals were going to say whatever they had to say to stay in office.  One of the things they said was that Burlington was going to get its hospital.  Recall too, that the Minister who was on her way to Burlington to deliver that good news didn’t make it.  She didn’t make it at the polls either – she lost her seat.

“We are very pleased to have the new Halton McMaster Family Health Centre on our hospital site,” said Dr. Dwight Prodger, Chief of Staff at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. “There will be many benefits to Burlington and area residents with the HMFHC being located here including improved access to family medicine and specialist physicians and it will also help increase the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain new physicians.”

They will be pleased as punch to get a teaching hospital settled in at the JBMH..  Using lines like “very pleased to have” suggests this is a done deal.  Go back to that headline – a teaching facility is their “preferred” location. 

The project will proceed in two Phases. The hospital will begin with an RFP process and tender on Phase 1 in 2012 and construction in 2013. Phase 2 will go through a similar process with the tender award in 2014.

This sounds a little like the early stages of The Pier – recall that there was a plan that called for a much larger pier but when the prices came in – well things got cut back a bit.  Expect lots of cutting back on this one as well.  It just might get cut right back to the tap root.

In December 2009, City Council approved a municipal contribution of $60 million for the proposed hospital redevelopment plan.  The city is working on a Memorandum of Understanding and contribution agreement with the hospital that will outline when and how Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital will receive the city funding.

This is true.  The when and how of those funds moving from the city’s bank account to the hospitals is far from settled.

The city began collecting $1.2 million in 2010 and 2011 through a special tax levy. City Council earmarked $2.4 million from previous years’ surpluses, and now has $4.8 million committed in a reserve fund earning interest. The tax levy amounts to $4 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

This is also true but it doesn’t mean that we are going to see a teaching facility at the JBMH.

The city has shown leadership in committing $60 million for the hospital redevelopment, and taxpayers have confirmed they think this money should be spent on improving our community hospital.

This too is also true – more true is that city put their money where their mouths are.  The JBMH Foundation has yet to announce that they have raised as much as a dime.  They did have a nice group photo taken.

The Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment  and expansion is a $300 million-plus project. The planned civic contribution is $120 million. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $60 million through a fundraising campaign in addition to the city’s contribution of $60 million.

Nice statement but no announcement from the Hospital Foundation as to how much they have raised.  There are a number of traditional major donors who are keeping their cheque books in their pockets.  When the redevelopment of the hospital is real – they will write cheques.

A telephone survey by Ipsos Reid in November 2009 found strong public support for the hospital redevelopment project and for a municipal contribution. Ninety per cent of Burlington residents surveyed agreed the project was important, and 72 per cent of those surveyed were supportive of the project when told about the proposed $60 million municipal contribution.

So?  Can you imagine anyone saying they don’t want an improved hospital..  Burlington people are quite decent and they would see the need for the city to pay a portion.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital was built in 1961. The last major update and refurbishment was more than 40 years ago. The redevelopment of the hospital is expected to include: 10 new operating rooms, a new intensive care unit, 76 new in-patient beds, an enlarged and improved cancer unit, new diagnostic imaging and laboratory areas, enlarged parking facilities; and  an expanded outpatient surgical suite.

Those enlarged parking facilities are where the Burlington tax dollars are going to go.  Someone needs to put a hobble on all this.



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