Local “People’s Inquiry” supports a mock trial for Premier Wynne and members of her government.

December 4, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  She was somewhere between 35 – maybe touching 40.  Kleenex in her hands to manage the tears as she gave “testimony” before a mock trial that was held at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church on Guelph Line.

Appearing before three “citizen judges” this witness told of how she had to understand why she was marginalized.

“I once had a comfortable life, I had a car, the trappings, I had a good job, I had friends but then the downsizing took place and I was the one with a new child that was not well and needed a lot of time and attention.

“I has RRSP’s and I knew how to manage.  All that can and did change for me more rapidly than I ever imagined possible.

“I have had to move five times in the last three years.  As a last desperate attempt to find accommodation I could afford I tried sharing accommodation with another single mother – but it didn’t work out and I had to call my case worked when my son was threatened by a child with scissors.  In a flash I was homeless – marginalized.

“I was poor, I was unworthy and made to feel like a low life.

“I was food insecure.  I was housing insecure.

“I felt un-liked, wasted, humiliated – embarrassed.  I began to feel invisible.  People that were part of your life change when you are poor.  I was seen as someone with a disease, as someone with an affliction.

“I couldn’t get a job – no one would take a chance on me.

“People in my situation are looked upon as lazy, as people who chose the life they are living.

“There is no poverty in Burlington because we don’t see poor people on the streets.  For those of us who are very low income people paying $1000 a month for a one bedroom apartment just isn’t possible.

“The politicians don’t understand what it means to be marginalized.”

They sat as ‘citizen judges’ hearing testimony from the marginalized and delivered a verdict that the Premier of the province should be brought before a mock trial in Toronto and charged with failing to live up to her promise to run a social justice government.

This witness was one of several who gave “testimony” in Burlington on Wednesday at a “People’s Inquiry”.  It is one of 20 being held across the province and will culminate in a mock trial in Toronto where the Premier Kathleen Wynne, her Finance Minister and Minister of Community and Social Services will be served with a summons charging them with failing to deliver on the promise to be a social justice government.

The marginalized believe that the Premier has described herself as a social justice advocate and tells the public that is who she is – but those who are on the receiving end of social support see little justice in what they are receiving.

Mike Balkwill, part of a group of community activists working under the Put Food in the Budget umbrella,  asked the 20 or so people at the Burlington inquiry what they felt they could do to have the Premier act on her social justice promise.  The local People’s Inquiries” and the mock trail planned for some time in February are designed to draw attention to where the Premier is failing.

Premier Wynne told the media that social justice is her top priority. A tough statement to take at face value when there are 400,000 people using food banks every month in Ontario.  Wynne’s claim “is believable only if she significantly increases social assistance rates and puts food in the budget of people who are poor in Ontario.”  It is her failure to make even a meaningful increase in assistance that has her being brought before a mock trial.

Wynne runs a minority government and at some point she is going to have to go to the people and ask for their support.  We will support her – will she support us? Was the question most of the people at the Burlington Inquiry were asking.

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Fixing our electoral system; does what we have in place now reflect the wishes of the people who get out and vote?

December 4, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  Well there you have it.  Four by-elections last Monday, Nov 25,  and nothing changed.  The polling advantage is always with the opposition in a by-election, so while the Liberal numbers were up, they only managed to keep the seats they had – which means the Conservatives won.

We live in a polarized nation with strong party loyalties in some key geographic regions of the country, so that should not have been an unexpected outcome. But even so, in that close Brandan-Souris by-election, more people voted against, than for, the candidate who won. This is because our political system hands victory to the one with the most votes, regardless how small a percentage of all the votes that might be.  Its called first-past-the-post(FPP) – something designed for a two-party system, which we dont have.

Jean Chretien won a majority by splitting the right-wing vote and coming up the middle.

Jean Chretien snatched his first parliamentary majority between the jaws of the split right-wing vote, the PCs and Reform, allowing him to come up through the middle and win with the support of less than half the electorate.  Stephen Harper is a keen observer of history and a quick-study, so he followed Chretiens lead.  He began by uniting the two parties on the right.  Then he focused on eroding the Liberals strengths and boosting the NDP in their stead. His strategy worked thanks to the Sponsorship scandal, unfortunate Liberals leadership choices, and an ever-opportunistic Jack Layton, pandering to the separatists.  Though Harpers win was even more skewed than Chretiens – at less than 40% of the vote – win he did.

But isnt there something wrong with this picture?  Over 85 democratic nations around the world have adopted alternate electoral systems which better represent the public will.  And, in my book that makes those nations better democracies.  I am most familiar with New Zealands proportional electoral system, first introduced following a referendum in the early 1990s and supported by 85% of the voters.  It is a mixed-member system where half the electoral seats are selected via the traditional FPP, as we have here.  And then the balance are awarded to each political party based on their share of the popular vote. 

Since it is rare that one political party wins an absolute majority in a multi-party system, cooperation and coalitions among parties are the norm.  And multiple parties means greater policy choices for the voters.  If minority government gives you unease, recall that that we experienced some of Canadas best government when the parties worked together in a minority situation, with Pearson in 60s and Trudeau in the 70s. Still, referenda on moving to some form of proportional electoral system were recently held in B.C. and Ontario, and both failed.  In the case of Ontario, the result was unsurprising given the McGuinty governments almost stealth-like lead-up to the vote. 

Stephen Harper realized he had to unite the right – he did and he has been winning ever since.

Federal elections in Australia are conducted using a preferential ballot, another option.  Voters prioritize candidates on their ballot.  If no one wins a simple majority on the first ballot, second and third choices are counted, as needed, until a candidate meets the 50% threshold.  Under this system Jean Chretien would not likely have had three majority terms of office, nor would Harper today.  The federal Liberal party adopted a resolution, at their last policy conference, to move to a preferential ballot when they next come to power, but once in power governments often lose heart to change the system that got them there.

Amid Senate-gate and so much attention focused on what to do with the largely symbolic Senate, there has been little discussion about the lower house, the Commons.  Ontario MP Michael Chong has been working on a private members bill intended to add accountability to the role of the MP and to rein in dictatorial PMs.  Chong had been a minister in the early Harper government but resigned over the problematic Quebec is a nation resolution, which his boss rammed through Parliament.  Given his background and the potential threat his initiative poses for prime ministerial control, it is unlikely his bill will see the light of day.

The objective of any election is for the voters to win.  do Canadians feel they have won today?

And even if the Liberals get into government and implement their preferential ballot, what is the chance that a subsequent government would not simply quash that system, the way Harper killed Chretiens progressive electoral funding program?  We might just have to content ourselves with being stuck with an inferior electoral system.  And continue to see elections like the one in Brandon-Souris, last Monday, where the Conservative candidate won with a respectable 44% of the vote.  Respectable, that is, until we realize that over half of all the voters opposed him. 

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


Michael Chong: Caucus should get to call the shots.

2011 Federal election results:

Brandon-Souris election results 

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Free parking downtown was for customers – not for staff. Parking lots full before stores and services were open.

December 4, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Isn’t working out quite the way it was supposed to.

The people who work on making downtown a better place for shoppers worked very hard to have December be a FREE parking month within the downtown core.  The belief  was that people objected to paying for parking when it was free at the malls – so they made all of December a  free parking month in the downtown core.

The city came up with a really smart promotional piece that set a great tone.  The city even advanced the free parking plan by a day to tie in with an additional marketing program that was brought to the city by the Yellow Pages people.

So – how is it working so far? Are people coming downtown in droves to shop?  They must be – you have to look to find a parking spot – especially at the Brant and Elizabeth street parking lots.

On my way to a Standing Committee meeting at city hall when there are usually dozen of spaces available I had to drive around to the far side to find a space.  There were six spaces left in the Elizabeth lot.  Great I thought – then I paused – it’s just 9:10 am – no one is downtown shopping yet.

The plan was to have the parking spaces as free for shoppers – not for the merchants or service providers on Brant Street.

I picked up my car at just after 4:00 pm – the lot was still full but I’d walked along Brant and there was not much in the way of street traffic.  Then I figured it out – the people who work downtown were using the parking lots – they could stay there all day and not spend a dime.  The people from the Buzz barber shop had figured that out and obviously a lot of other people as well.

Brian Dean, General Manager of the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) figures the people working downtown knew the rule was a two-hour limit on the street so they would park in the lots.  Someone needs to have an up close and personal; one-to-one conversation with the people who work downtown.  Use the parking garage on Lotus.  There were 120 spaces available when I passed the building at 3:20 pm.

For retail and service provider staff to use popular parking lot space for personal reasons  is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.  A lot of work has been put into making downtown an attractive, welcoming place to shop.  Free parking was meant for the people they want to attract. 

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Idiocy reigns within the provincial bureaucracy; city staff may need help from a support group – airpark situation ludicrous.

December 3, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. The Burlington Executive Airpark is $40,000 lighter than they were a month ago when they agree to pay the legal costs awarded them by Justice Murray.

Burlington was awarded a portion of its legal costs for the application hearing at which Justice John Murray of the Superior Court of Justice, ruled the City of Burlington’s site alteration bylaw applies to the Burlington Executive Airport.

Interesting to note that in remarks made recently city General Manager Scott Stewart he is reported to have said the city has spent something well in excess of $100,000 on this matter to date. Yet all the city is going to be able to recover is $40,000. This clearly is not going to be cheap.

One of the most majestic court rooms in the country; part of the Osgood Hall complex in downtown Toronto where the Burlington Executive Airpark Inc., appeal will be heard.

Two days after Judge Murray’s decision was released the Airpark served notice of an appeal to the decision with the Ontario Court of Appeal. That case will be heard at Osgoode Hall in Toronto and will not make the Court Calendar until sometime in the New Year. The city and the Air Park have to file their documents and then a time has to be found for a hearing. An actual appeal hearing will probably not take place until next fall.

In the meantime the city has taken the view that they have a decision that stands until there is a successful appeal and they want the Airpark to begin adhering to the site alteration bylaw – now.

With landfill dumping brought to a halt, one of the chief concerns for area residents is water quality. No one knows ,with any degree of certainty, where much of the landfill came from and what’s in it. The Terrapex Environmental Ltd report identified petroleum hydrocarbons, antimony, lead, zinc, copper, cadmium, acenaphthylene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fiuoranthene, fluoranthene, indeno(c)pyrene, and naphthalene which they believed was in the landfill based on documents they were able to inspect. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

The airpark is a 190+ acre site which means significant water runoff. No one has mapped where water actually goes once it seeps into the ground but hundreds of homes are tied into the water table up there and they all draw from wells. Both the city and the residents want to know what’s in the water.

Water is an environmental issue – enter the provincial Ministry of the Environment, who do the testing. Now here is where it gets totally ridiculous – watching different levels of government bicker stupidly over who can have what in the way of data and ground water inspection plans.  This is not about bureaucratic turf – this is about the safety of the water people have to drink.

In correspondence between the city and the MOE it was determined that on August 27, 2013, the Airpark provided the ministry with a detailed groundwater monitoring program to assess the ground water quality down gradient of the fill area. MOE provided comments on the plan which were then addressed by the Airpark. The city learned that the plan has been finalized and the ministry is satisfied that the plan will assess whether the fill operations are causing, or may cause, any offsite impacts.

City staff sent a request to Mr. Vince Rossi on September 9, 2013, requesting that the Airpark provide the plan and details for the groundwater investigation to occur at the down-gradient property boundary to assess whether the fill operations on the airpark lands have resulted in offsite impacts. Staff was of the understanding that a monitoring plan was arranged between MOE staff and the Airpark during a meeting at which City staff were not permitted to be present.

The Airpark responded on Sept 9, that due to the litigation matters between the City and the Airpark, the requested plan and details would not be provided. City staff haven’t heard a word from the Airpark since on the issue. So much for winning the court case.

This culvert manages some of the runoff from airpark property than empties onto the Cousins property on Appleby Line. Everyone wants to know what is in that water.

The Airpark and the MOE do have some data, but, you’ll love this – both the Airpark and MOE have taken the position that they are unable to release the details of the proposed groundwater monitoring plan directly to City staff. MOE staff did indicate that records could be obtained through a Freedom of Information Request to the MOE.

On Sept 16, the MOE provided correspondence acknowledging receipt of the FOI request for each of the municipal addresses associated with the airpark lands (5351 Appleby Line, 5296-5342 Bell School Line).

On Sept 19 MOE said no records existed for 5351 Appleby Line. On Oct 8, the MOE did say records were available for 5296-5342 Bell School Line. The response indicated that approximately 219 pages of material could be obtained, for the requested fees, but that these pages would provide only partial access to the information requested. It was indicated that the identity of any complainants would be removed, in order to protect their identity. Further, it was indicated that any third-party related information would require notification to the third-party

This area is flooded most of the time making the adjacent field useless for farming purposes – more importantly – what’s in that water?

To initiate the release of the information, City staff submitted the requested payment on Oct 15. No timetable was given in the MOE’s letter as to when the material would be available. The city then received a communication from the MOE on October 28 indicating that “after a detailed review of the records, it appears that disclosure affects the interests of a third party”.

Do you want to guess who that third party is?

Don’t leave yet – it gets worse.

The city wanted some clarification on the FOI process and procedures. They talked to Mr. Fred Ruiter, who is Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Reviewer for the MOE. Mr. Ruiter confirmed a number of things, including that there was a mixup with notifying the third party, and that notification was not received until Nov 12. Mr. Ruiter indicated that there would be a 30 day response window from this date of notification, during which the third party could consent or object to the release of the information. Further to this, once a response is received by the MOE, there is a 10 day window for the MOE to decide whether or not to release information. Should the third party object to the release, and the MOE decides to release the information anyway, the third party would have the right to appeal this decision. Mr. Ruiter indicated that in a scenario of appeal, no final decision would likely be made for approximately six to nine months, as this is the typical timeline for the appeal process to proceed.

Don’t you just love it? For this taxpayers carry the cost of paying these people, providing them with close to majestic benefits and sending them off to retirement with a package the rest of us dream of getting. Totally ridiculous.

Is the water in that pond polluted?

City staff are in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with MOE staff in December to discuss these matters. It would appear that the city and the MOE don’t have the smoothest of working relationships.

The city is bending over backwards to get a meeting with Dolly Goyette – MOE Central Region and Alison Rodrigues – MOE Halton.

We will keep you posted.



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Burlington pornographer arrested twice. Charged with distributing smut and luring a child.

December 3, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.   A male resident of the city managed to get himself arrested twice on child pornography charges.

Police executed w search warrant on November 5th at a Burlington residence and seized a number of computers and data storage devices were seized..  The accused was held for a bail hearing.

The November arrest was the result of a three-month investigation by members of the Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

Subsequent investigation resulted in the accused being re-arrested on December 3rd and again held for a bail hearing.

ACCUSED:  Cody FISHER, 22 yrs of Burlington

CHARGES:  Possession of Child Pornography (two counts), Make Available Child Pornography, Luring a Child, Breach of Probation (two counts)

The Internet Child Exploitation Unit has earned a world-wide reputation for being able to ferret out the web site and data servers that hold pornography.  If you have any information that you think may help – don’t be shy – Call Crime Stoppers.


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Parking goodies in those Christmas stockings – longer on street parking rules coming + FREE parking for all of December.

December 3, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  December is clearly going to be a nice month parking wise.

Not only did you get free parking for the month of December but the rules for on street parking are going to change as well.  If the recommendation in a Standing Committee report makes it through the council meeting on the 9th – you will be able to stay on the street outside your home for five hours instead of the current three hours. 

Households with special caring situations will be able to get permits that let them stay overnight if that is required. 

More detail to follow.

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Expect to see reduced speed limits on Wilson Avenue – residents convince council committee to make a change.

December 3, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Wilson Avenue residents appear to have prevailed and convinced a Council Standing Committee that the speeding problem on their street deserves attention.

This street looks more like an airport runway – it invites speeding. Residents have convinced a Council Standing Committee to reduce the speed limit to 40 kmh – and look at speed bumps if the limit change doesn’t work.

The street runs south from New to Spruce and looks a little bit like an airport runway – this street invites going over the limit which is currently 50km.  Residents want it brought down to 40 and if that doesn’t do the trick they will look into asking for speed bumps – a process that requires more than 50% of the street population to go for the idea.

And – the backlog for speed bumps is more than two years

There are no sidewalks on the street which makes it very dangerous for the many people on the street who like to walk

Details are a little complicated – we will cover this in more detail later in the week but for now the city is prepared to reduce the speed limit on the street and then look critically at possible speed bumps.

The Standing Committee bought into the delegation – the item goes to Council on the 9th for approval.

More to follow.

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Santa was there, the kids lined the sidewalks and snow at least hinted that it was in the air.

December 2, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. The weather worked – you could see your breath when you exhaled.  The rain held off but that little flutter of snow that would have made it a ”real” Christmas parade just didn’t appear.  Other than that I t was fine 48th annual Christmas parade through the streets of Burlington.

This time there were live animals as well – ok so they were a pair of bedraggled looking ponies – they were there.

This picture sums up the season. It is about a birth.

Do you know how cold that pavement was?

There is a reason for the season – and it isn’t shopping until you drop or your credit card gives up. A Christmas Eve service at the Performing Arts Centre.

What do you call it – a bi-directional vehicle? It was quite the thing to watch the way the cab got steered.

The Rocca Sisters cosponsors sign at the head of the parade told of the shift in who is putting up a good chuck of the money – there are still Rotary noses that are out of joint; justifiably so one might add.  It will take a bit of time to unravel that mess and perhaps make changes to the parade’s organizational structure.

Its official when the Town Crier comes marching down the street – Santa follows.

A standard in any parade for kids.

Other than that all the “usual suspects” were in place.  The city’s Town Crier led the event and the Old Boy himself brought it all to a close.

Lots of hot chocolate consumed after this parade.

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Miles-Goldring exhibits at the Seaton Gallery while hubby trudges the streets looking for loose coins.

December 2, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was her third show in her career as an artist.  This time Cheryl Miles- Goldring was exhibiting the work that came out of her trip to Newfoundland last summer.   Water, particularly steams and falls, are a challenge for the artist but she clearly caught the sense of the out ports that are bed rock of Newfoundland cultural history.  There is something about a clothes line with items flapping in the breeze that has Newfoundland written all over it.

Everything about Newfoundland somehow gets summed up in a painting of a clothesline flapping in the salt air wind.

Miles-Goldring has a tendency to create small triptychs.  She has done this in the past to wonderful effect and did it again with her Newfoundland collection.

Earlier in the week we crossed paths with the Mayor and asked how he was going to cover both the Santa Claus parade and be at the exhibit on Sunday – they were being held on opposite sides of the city.  “I know where my responsibilities lay” said the Mayor who added that the parade is not something that requires his attendance.  Well he got that one wrong – the Mrs. made it clear that the Mayor will be in the parade and he can scoot over to the exhibit when his day job is done.

We saw the Mayor at close to 3:30 in the afternoon trudging along James  Street with  Burlington Old Timers Hockey League paint can collecting  donations  within sight of city hall.  It was going to be a bit of a dash to get to the Seaton Gallery out by RBG before the exhibit ended.

The Seaton Fine Arts Gallery has created a space where artists can hang their work during exhibits.  Teresa Seaton, head honcho of the gallery does her stained glass work in the gallery as well.

The work that Miles – Goldring does is always shown at the Art in Action Studio Tour but is has a greater reach than just art shows and the walls of the people who buy her art.

Miles – Goldring makes small prints of some of her work and has ‘hasty notes’ made up with some of her art on the front.

As you can imagine her art adorns a large portion of the walls in the Mayor’s office as well.  There is a tradition in the municipal world for small gifts to be given to visitors who call on the Mayor in some official capacity.  Miles-Goldring came up with the idea of giving the Office of the Mayor a selection of framed prints and boxes of hasty notes that he could give as gifts to visitors.  She pays for the framing and the printing and keeps meticulous records should anyone even suggest she is being paid for the gifts.  The pity is that Miles-Goldring  feels she has to keep records at all.  If she said she pays for the work done that should be more than enough.

The Friends Wall featuring the Cheryl Miles-Golding Outport Tour collection.

The exhibit at the Seaton Fine Arts Gallery seems to be part of an initiative to make that location the place to exhibit local and visiting artists.  The announced closure of the Artists Walk in the Village Square doesn’t leave too many locales  for artists.  The Village Square by the way is no longer for sale – was it ever really for sale?

What baffles many is the difficulty in booking the Fireside Room at the Burlington Art Centre.  We hear far too many artists complaining about that problem.  Is it just a scheduling problem?

For Miles Goldring the question is – what will she schedule next?

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They got a bigger fish this time; Regional police seize drugs and cash in a Ross Street raid.

By Staff

December 1, 2013

Burlington, ON.  Halton Regional Police, Burlington-3 District Strategic Support Team, executed a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrant at a residence on Ross Street in the City of Burlington. 


There goes the Christmas money – and how are the people higher up the drug food chain going to get paid with all the money gone?

The warrant was as a result of a drug trafficking investigation.  Seized as a result of the warrant and subsequent arrest was;

• $11,100.00 dollars,

• 1307 grams of marihuana (approximately  46.7 ounces/ 2.87 pounds ), 

• 4 grams of Cocaine,

• 8 grams of Methamphetamine 

• 1 gram of MDMA.

• a digital scale,

• cellular phones

• and packaging material

 The drugs have an approximate street value of over $14,000.00. 

 The accused, Maxwell FOLKES-KAIZER- 24 years of Burlington, was located inside the premise and was subsequently arrested.

 FOLKES-KAIZER was charged with:

• Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking a Controlled Substance and, four counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance

He is to appear in Milton Court on January 7, 2014.

 Investigators remind the public to utilize Crime Stoppers to report any illegal drug, gun or gang 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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Ward councillor introduces fashion line into her campaign. Is she declaring? Yup – she says she’s in for another round.

November 29, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Every Council member does everything they can to meet with their constituents.  They take telephone calls, the use email and every other communications tool they can find.  While I’ve yet to see a member of this Council walk around wearing a sandwich board – you never know.

Smart politicians create a brand for themselves – Lancaster, who has always had a smart sense of style, appears to have gone for the “red bag look”. Might work.

Members of Council hold meetings in their wards and they go to events.  The Mayor has gone to more than 300 events so far this year.  Meed Ward holds what amounts classroom sessions in Ward 2 while Jack Dennison holds meeting at the sports club her operates n a room with a fireplace and bowls of popcorn set out.

Last weekend the Alton Campus opened and we wondered when the Ward 6 council member would hold a meeting in the spanking new campus.  It didn’t take long – Blair Lancaster invited her constituents to meet with her in one of the community rooms.

There she was, patiently waiting for someone, anyone from the community to show.  After waiting for an hour a constituent did show up.  We left at that point.

Started as a model and kept the ability to talk to the camera.

Lancaster explains that in Alton people are busy, they are commuters and they have families to feed – and she added, she did meet a lot of people at the Campus Open House.

Lancaster finds that she gets an audience when there is an issue an on at least one occasion she has had people lined up outside a meeting room waiting to get in.

Each council member has their own style, approach and relationship with their Council member.  John Taylor gets a good turn out from what is to a large degree a rural community.  His meetings are almost like a crokinole game being held in a church hall.  They know him, they like him, they respect him and they trust him.

Former model charms reporter into showing her latest fashion statement.

Lancaster is still working out her relationship with her ward – with Alton being as new as it is it will take some time for them to get to know her and her to get to know them.

With an election less than a year away – Lancaster does have her work cut out for her in Alton.  She has a Carol Singing event planned for the middle of December – the 16th – but wait for confirmation on the date and time.  Hot chocolate and cider are on the menu.


John Taylor’s type of ward meting:

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“Things like this never happen to us. Then it did” – Sharlene Bosma speaking to Crime Stoppers.

November 29, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was the 25th Anniversary celebration for Crime Stoppers in Canada.  Lots of people from the police community taking the decent sized audience through the statistics and telling us about the role Crime Stoppers plays.

Carolyn Wallace spoke on behalf of Burlington MP Mike Wallace – she was as good a speaker as her husband, perhaps a bit better.

Halton Regional police chief Stephen Tanner

The chief of police spoke and then introduced a tall, dark-haired, attractive willowy woman who quietly said she was Sharlene Bosma.  The room was suddenly quiet, almost tight.

“It was seven months ago” explained Sharlene “that my husband left the house never to be seen by any of us again. 

Sharlene Bosma with friends after her remarks to Halton Crime Stoppers.

“I knew about Crime Stoppers,” she said, “I had seen it on TV but it was never a service you expect to use.  I knew about the tips people could send in to Crime Stoppers.”

“We were so numb that first few days – we were desperate but we didn’t know what to do.  The house became Command Central and then, quite quickly, there were all these posters put out by Crime Stoppers.

“Family and hundreds of friends were around the house” she continued  – pausing several times, working hard to keep it together.

“We had no idea how many calls there were.  At one point the police email service was overloaded and Crime Stoppers was able to fill the gap.”

“We were so desperate – waiting and waiting.”

“Never underestimate” she said “the value of family, friends and neighbours.” Each pause was a painful effort to keep it together.

“The terrible things people do to each other” brought the hearts of all of us in the room to our throats.

“Things like this” she continued, “never happen to us”

“Then it did”

Small smiles were possible

And at that point most of the people in the room were about to lose it as we heard an incredibly strong human being lower her head and say “Thank you”.

The applause was both significant and sustained.  The people in the room were law enforcement types.  Tough people who deal with the worst day in day out. Dennis Farr, a former Halton intelligence officer and an accomplished interrogator was there along with former Halton Chief of Police Gary Crowley

Cal Millar, former head of Crime Stoppers in Halton was on hand along with the new police officer servicing as police liaison with the organization.

The audience had heard the statistics about the vital role Crime Stoppers plats in keeping the community safe.

Claire Gibbon, a Crime Stoppers board member, talked about when her home had been burglarized and how Crime Stoppers helps us “keep one another safe.”

To date for 2013 Crime Stoppers was responsible for 1011 arrests and 2035 clearances.  A clearance is a crime for which there was no suspect but found later to have been committed by a person under arrest.

The fact and the figures mattered but what I think most people took away was the strength and the beauty with which Sharlene Bosma presented herself and the thanks she gave “for stepping in when I needed you most.”

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Free parking and yellow bag promotions – but ya gotta have a bag and you have to shop to get one.

November 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The city advanced the FREE PARKING in December by a day to give the downtown merchants a chance to get it on the Black Friday craze.

This year – look for this decal in the windows of stores in the downtown core.

if you were a member of the BDBA attending the Awards night – you didn’t get to leave without a couple of dozen yellow bags to use as part of the shop the Neighbourhood promotion. Jenn Walker – head of the Marketing Committee hands them out.

The merchants in those stores might put your purchase in a small yellow shopping bag.  And, if you choose to stroll along Brant Street swinging that bag someone might approach you and pop a small gift item into your bag.

The downtown merchants have used special shopping bag promotions in the past. Last summer we all got to see BDBA General Manager Brian Dean in shorts that must have been on sale somewhere.

It’s part of the Burlington Downtown Business Association’s Shop the Neighbourhood – a promotional tie in with the Yellow Pages people who piloted in Oakville recently.  Shop The Neighbourhood is an initiative of Yellow Pages Group (YPG), a company with a century-long legacy of working with Canada’s small businesses, helping them attract customers and contributing to the growth of local economies.

BDBA has done this sort of thing in the past – quite successfully.

This season with free parking for all of December the major push on the part of city hall to get people downtown adding an additional promotional  consideration won’t hurt.

It’s a one day push – the idea is to get people to be downtown and not be ticked off with having to pay parking. 

Burlington has let itself get charmed into that free parking at the malls – which isn’t free but rather a cost built into the rent merchants in mall locations pay.

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It happens. We got it wrong when we wrote a cut line that was incorrect and misleading. We apologized and changed the cut line.

November 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.   At a Standing Committee meeting more than a year ago city General Manager Scott Stewart told a group of Soccer Moms that they needed to work with the then Acting Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Glenn to resolve the issue of scheduling time in the soccer domes at Sherwood Forest Park.

When Scott Stewart wants to make a point – you get the look.  We got the look – and we got the point.

Stewart closed his remarks with words to this effect: If you can’t work the problems out with Mr. Glenn then you will have to work them out with me – and you don’t want to have to work with me. 

We were just getting used to Mr. Stewart at the time.

A few weeks ago we did a piece on what the public expects its taxes to pay for and we wrote the following cut line beneath a picture of the completed pier.

What scares the daylights out of many informed taxpayers is city hall finding that they really don’t know how to complete a project successfully. The Pier was a disaster from a construction management point of view. The King Road grade separation went very well – it was managed by CN Rail. The Alton project went exceptionally well – it was led by the Board of Education.

Mr. Stewart invited us out for a conversation, which at the time we didn’t see as one of those “don’t want to have to work with me” situations.  We were wrong then – it was a need on our part to work things out with the General Manager. We were wrong with the cutline as well.  The cut line has since been changed.

Stewart was not with the city when the first pier contract was awarded.  He was very much in place when the second contract for the pier was awarded and he was on top of, if not all over, every problem that cropped up.  The planned wind turbine being one of the problems.

We all make mistakes – this one was just so very public.

The building of the Alton complex was a three partner situation with the Board of Education actually awarding the contract and city engineers involved on a daily basis.  It wasn’t always the smoothest of working relationships but it did get built on time and on budget and the public has taken to what was built.  They took to the pier very positively as well.

Now we wait for the official opening of the King Road grade separation which will see the Mayor drive through early in December.  Some had hoped his worship would choose to ride a bicycle.

Somewhere in the crowd Scott Stewart will be standing with his team – pleased with the way the project went and delighted that the railway had to pay for most of the work that was done.  When we do the piece on that opening we will be absolutely certain that we get the cut line right.

There was a plus side to all this: Stewart picked up the tab for the get together.

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More government, more service – right? They are making it more convenient.

November 28, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Burlington has two Service Ontario locations: places where you can go and see a real, live, breathing civil servant just waiting to help you.

The Lease must have been up at one of the old locations – either that or the place needed a paint job and it easier to move.

Two locations in Burlington.

As of Monday, December 2nd the western Service Ontario location will be:

1250 Brant St. as of Monday at 9 AM.

The second Service Ontario location is at:

3455 Fairview Street.

The hours of operation at the new centre are:

Monday to Wednesday and Friday — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday — 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Renew a Drivers’ license online: How do they take the picture?

There are a number of services that can be handled on-line: Ontario is the first province in Canada to allow drivers to renew their licenses online.

ServiceOntario offers more than 40 services online — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The government maintains it has exceeded a 99 per cent success rate for its online service guarantees.  Last year, Service Ontario processed more than 16 million online transactions.


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Men step up to the ball: drive home $55,000 for hospital foundation.

November 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was a natural!  With a men`s clothing store and a golf  tournament – you can just imagine how wild the guys are going to get with those brightly coloured trousers.

Scrivener’s and Jeff’s Guy Shop organized a golf tournament that raised $55,000 for the hospital. This was their 3rd tournament.

Women can wear bright colourful clothing almost any time they wish – men get stuck with the blue suit – with stripes if you think you`re really important, and maybe a snappy tie, but that`s about it for the guy side.

Mix in a golf tournament fund-raiser for the hospital – and you add another $55,000 to the $60 million the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has to come up with. 

Scrivener`s, the more sedate side of clothing men and Jeff`s GuyShop have raised a total of $135,000 during the three annual golf tournaments they have sponsored.

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Last chance to get those leaves taken away.

November 28, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  If there are leaves left on your property – you`ve  got one more chance before you begin thinking about getting the Christmas tree up.

This crew will probably not be clearing the leaves from your property. They were working along New Street when this picture was taken.

The city has a leaf pick on December 2nd and another on December 9th – and that`s it for this year.

The map set out below tells you where the pickups are taking place.

The city has some rules:

Please follow the guidelines below to help ensure a timely and cost-effective leaf collection program:

  • Please have your loose leaves raked and ready for pickup just prior to the start date for your collection area.
  • Be mindful of collection dates and avoid raking leaves to the road too early.
  • Place leaves up to the edge of the curb or roadway (but not on the road) in a loose pile so city equipment can reach them.
  • Ensure loose leaves are not over catch basins or in the ditches in front of your home .
  • Please make sure leaves do not contain branches or other debris.  Leaves mixed with other waste cannot be collected.
  • Avoid placing leaves on sidewalks and walkways.
  • Remove basketball nets, parked vehicles and other obstructions from the road to allow city crews clear access to leaf piles.
  • Do not place garbage bags, garbage bins, Blue Boxes or GreenCarts on top of loose-leaf piles

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BurlingtonGreen hears how other communities do what has to be done to save prime farmland – sound familiar?

November 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It has been a banner week for BurlingtonGreen.  They held their annual meeting, installed a very strong board and heard a stirring story about how a quarry proposal in Dufferin County was defeated.  Later in the week after a very bumpy ride through several Standing Committees they got a sole sourced agreement with the city to continue developing the community garden concept that has done so exceptionally well.

Gloria Reid, on the right with her husband – a welcome addition to the BurlingtonGreen board.

Let’s take this one step at a time: The new board is made up of: Todd Mooney, Gloria Reid, Neil Sentanie, Vanessa Warren, Ken Woodruff, Chuck Bennet, Colin Brock, Susan Fraser and Paul Haskins who will serve as president.

Vanessa Warren will add to the already impressive delegation skills BurlingtonGreen takes before various levels of government.

BurlingtonGreen has become the go to community organization you want to be part of in this city.  This year two of the impressively active community leaders joined the board: Vanessa Warren who formed the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that brought the landfill dumping in north Burlington to a grinding halt when she delegated to Burlington and Regional Council and Gloria Reid who brought some impressive thinking  to the creation of a Community Engagement Charter.  We wish Ms Reid had stayed with that project and gotten it out of the clutches of the upper reaches of city hall where is will suffocate from the dust on the shelves it sits on.

The BG AGM brought in Donna Tranquada to talk to them about the successful effort to stop the application for a quarry permit in Melacanhom Township which is north of Caledon and south of Collingwood.

Monte Dennis in conversation with BurlingtonGreen guest speaker Donna Tranquada. Dennis was part of the Pickering airport battle more than 25 years ago. He could tell Tranquada some real horror stories.

What was really interesting and odd was that Ms Tranquada made no reference to the PERL success with the Nelson Aggregate fight – that win paved the way for the change in the way the public reacted to any expansion of  quarries and their development .  The Nelson win was the first time a quarry looking to expand was turned down.  The Food and Water First people knew a good thing when they saw it though: they had Sarah Harmer out to their events as well

Donna Tranquada had a great story to tell.  A year to the day of the BG AGM, a group that was formed to protect thousands of acres of farmland from a planned massive quarry operation learned that the company had withdrawn its application to develop a quarry.  It took more than a year to beat back the proposal put together by an American, Boston-based hedge fund, that was buying up property in the township.

When that company began buying up farm land they said they wanted to create a large, world-class potato farming operation. Property by property they told farmers what they were doing and got to the point where they had purchased more than 30 farms.  “It didn`t take long” Tranquada explained “for word to get out in that rural community that something was going on.”  The company, called Highland had been incorporated in Nova Scotia, and had begun using pressure tactics on some of the holdouts – meeting with farmers and putting a cheque for more than $1 million on the table and saying the offer was good for just 24 hours.  The community began to get uneasy.

Then came the announcement:  Highland had filed an application with the province for the largest quarry in Canadian history on some of the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems. The mega Quarry would have sprawled across 2,316 acres and would have plunged 200 feet below the water table on a 15,000 acre plateau of Class 1 farmland. The massive open-pit limestone quarry would have put rare agricultural soil and precious water resources at risk in Melancthon Township.

One of the studies showed that the quarry would have to pump out 600 million litres of water a day forever.  You had to be in the room when Tranquada used the word forever.  She is a bit over 5ft 5 inches and she literally spit out the word.

You start with a great location for a public gathering.

Donna Tranquada`s  talk was “meat and potatoes” for the protest movement crowd – it was a crowd like this that stopped the Spadina Expressway in Toronto;  that stopped the extension of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto  through the Beach community and parts of Scarborough.  The same demographic stopped the first attempt to put in an international airport in Pickering.

When Burlington was threatened with a highway being rammed through the Niagara Escarpment close to 400 people showed up at the Mainway Arena on Walkers Line – and the province eventually backed off.  The province will have another go at an Escarpment highway and it will take a different generation to fight that battle.

The  Melancthon Township battle used ideas that pulled together the interests of the rural communities with the needs of the urban dwellers – then used food as the bridge between the two.

Chefs from Toronto and other urban centers made soup, thousands of bowls of soup that was both a fund-raiser and the way to connect  farmland where food is grown and the stomachs of the people in cities who have to eat.  The event became known as SoupStock and it drew crowds in the tens of thousands.

It was a magnificent collection of ideas and dedicated people who showed once again that the public can prevail.  Highland had employed one of the biggest public relations companies in North America who knew they were up against a public that was driven and focused – rarely can that kind of energy be beaten.

That draws great crowds.

Tranquada said that on one Saturday there were 40,000 people who dropped into a large park in the east end of Toronto to hear the story about the quarry application.  If you believe in an idea and you can get your troops out – you can prevail.

Burlington has a fight on its hands that is critical for the city and relevant to every municipality that has a small airport and problems with landfill sites.  While many expect the city of Burlington to prevail through the several levels of appeal that can be expected of the decision that decided the city had the right to have its site bylaw adhered to, the bigger question is – what des the city do with that property once the Court issue is resolved.  There are hundreds of tonnes of landfill in the more than 100 + acres of property and a runway that is in the process of being paved.

Tranquada, surprised some people who asked where they could get one of the signs that she had with her. “I  just have the three “she explained – “that was all I was able to carry on the subway and the GO train.  A high-profile media personality trudging from Toronto to Burlington on the GO train is what they call “waking the talk”.

Tranquada is now part of a group that goes from community to community with the message: “There aren’t a lot of victories these days, but the mood-altering blocking of the monster quarry in Melancthon Township in potato country a year ago was a brilliant model of how to get stuff done. The alliance of urban ecos, farmers, foodies and chefs showed the power of partnering, bridged the messy city-country divide and ulti­mately triumphed over a Boston-based hedge fund… Plus, it made the point with the mass soup-athons, that protests can be jubilant and very digestible – and that determination and positivity are our best weapons.”

And those crowds sign a petition – and with public reaction like that – the company wanting to quarry prime farmland withdraws their application.

With the farmland in Dufferin County saved, the group, known as Food and Water First,  decided to get to the real core issue which was the Aggregate Resource Act – it sets the rules for the extraction of aggregates.  Turns out Ontario has the weakest regulatory environment governing resource extraction in Canada, enabling anyone to pillage the very resources Ontario needs to drive parts of its own economy.

The Food and Water First people have taken the position that the aggregate producers require a “social license”, that is the permission of the wider community, to do what they do.  That concept will be hard for some of the old-timers in the industry to digest but it is a changing world – Global Warming is real and both food and water will become the most critical elements of our society continue to exist.

There is legislation and policy that govern the activities around resource extraction in Ontario.  The Ontario Sand, Stone and Gravel Association (OSSGA) chose to push for keeping things as they are instead of helping to create a document that would lessen rural strife and have them become a responsible corporate partner.  OSSGA members will continue to be challenged by communities in which they want to do business and will have to defend their businesses. Instead of doing better and voluntarily recognizing that prime farmland and source water regions should be off-limits, OSSGA has clearly belittled the efforts of thousands of Ontarians who have so reasonably engaged in this policy development process. The public at large will continue to withhold that social license until there is modernized legislation.

Nothing in the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) review document would prevent another Mega Quarry application tomorrow, destroying forever thousands of acres of our most productive farmland and putting the control of unbelievably vast amounts of Ontario’s fresh water in danger.

Food and Water First wants to see new legislation that recognizes  prime farmland as a strategic provincial resource and  protect source water regions by eliminating industrial extraction in those regions.

These social activists believe that as an engaged public, both urban and rural, we have had all kinds of assurances from MPPs that the thousands of people had been heard. Now is the time for those MPPs to act, not just speak.

A productive board meeting; the story of a community action that saved precious farmland – and the week wasn’t over. BurlingtonGreen went on to get the city behind their community garden project – but that’s another story.


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Understanding the school board: an agenda would have helped. Intern leaves feeling she really wasn’t there.

Milla Pickfield is a Nelson High School graduate who decided to spend a year working in the community, helping her Mother with her business and doing volunteer work before she headed to university.  She volunteered to try writing and did two piece for us; one with the Chief of Police and an interview with the new Hayden High school principal.

Milla’s most recent piece for us is on the school board, that organization that directed much of what she has done for the past ten years.  Her attendance at a Board of Education meeting was a bit of an eye opener for Ms Pickfield.

November 26, 2013

By Milla Pickfield.

BURLINGTON, ON.  I got to my meeting of the Board of Education an hour early; when you have to use public transit or rely on your parents for transportation – your time is not your own

I wasn’t at all sure where I was supposed to go and asked the woman at the reception desk where the meeting was being held – school board meetings are open to the public.

Milla Pickfield is a Nelson High graduate – understanding the proceedings of the school board was not something high school prepared her for.

I was half hoping she could point me in the right direction and expected someone would supply me with an agenda. I was pointed in the right direction – without an agenda.   And I had not brought anything else to read.

Half an hour after I arrived, Dr. Frank J. Hayden and his wife also showed up with Jacqueline Newton from the new high school.  I had already interviewed Ms Newton and was delighted to meet Dr. Hayden and his wife.

When I was doing some research on what school boards do, I came across a quote that put everything in perspective for me. Sir Ken Robinson once said: “Everybody has an interest in Education.”

Those words resonated with me. I know that I am very interested in education which is why I was very excited to go to a Board of Education meeting. I didn’t know what it would be like, I didn’t know what the people would be like, and I didn’t know what they would talk about.  After the meeting, I was left with more questions than answers.

Dr Frank Hayden – spoke to Board of Trustees who had named the new Alton Community High school after him.

It wasn’t a very satisfying experience for me.  I don’t usually need help nor do I willingly accept it most of the time, however I did expect someone to greet me upon arrival at the large room in which the meeting took place. That was not the case. No one greeted me or any of the other three students in attendance.  Everyone was crowded around Dr. Hayden, which was certainly understandable.

No one approached me and asked if they could help and without an agenda I found myself spending most of my time hurriedly trying to write down all I could and hoping to understand a little later from the notes I was taking.   Working without an understanding of what was going on I was forced to pay extra attention to everything they were saying which still did not help. Most of the language used was part of my vocabulary however the fashion in which they used it was not.

I believe myself to be an educated person. I have done everything expected of me; I went to elementary school and high school and graduated from both with relatively high grades, what I lacked in book smarts I made up in common sense, and I can follow many conversations with adults and form and deliver an opinion.   I could not follow the meeting of the Board of Education.

I wondered: if I could not follow the meeting how would other people in Burlington understand the proceedings.  What about someone who just moved here from a different country; someone who just decided (like me) to drop into one of those meetings; someone with very little knowledge of the education system but with a hunger to learn; ever keep up with the meeting?  

The impression I left with was that the meeting was separated into four parts:

First were the speeches which were delivered by Dr. Hayden and a student attending Hayden High.

Second part was passing a whole lot of bills and not talking about any of them.

The third part was mainly focused on speaking about some bills that were to pass and problems they’ve encountered.

Finally there was the freelance period of time, or at least that’s how I understood it. In this time anyone was allowed to bring forward an issue they though important and speak about it to the council.

Milla Pickfield started an internship as a journalist interviewing the Chief of Police. She ‘aced’  it – wasn’t able to do as well at understanding what gets done at Board of Education meetings.

I found the second and third parts of the meeting the most confusing. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t have an agenda, so the bills were hard to follow, or maybe it was just the extremely fast pace of the meeting but I have to wonder how someone from the public, like me, would ever follow a similar meeting to that one.

The Board of Education controls a large chunk of our lives, along with a lot of our tax dollars, and we should be able to be a part of the process and understand what’s going on. What I experienced was personally disappointing. I went in with a desire to learn all I could, perhaps understand how our education system works, and see important decisions being made.

I left the meeting feeling as if there was something wrong with me; I should have been able to understand what was going on.  I read, I am informed and I understand the English language.  When I think about the several hours I spent in the Board of Education meeting, I feel like I wasn’t really there. 

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Electric car charging stations being set up at GO stops – Burlington will see theirs in 2014.

November 27, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The province is doing everything it can to get you into an electric car. Announced this morning at the Oakville GO station –  electric vehicle charging stations are up and running at five GO stations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to make it easier for drivers to use environmentally friendly transportation.

Starting today, Aurora, Centennial, Lincolnville, Oakville and Whitby GO stations will offer charging stations for electric vehicles.

Ajax, Burlington, Pickering, Erindale and Clarkson GO stations will open electric vehicle charging facilities in early 2014.

ChargePoint cards are available now.  why not put everything on the existing PRESTO card

Charging a car will be free for the first month; after that, each charging session will cost $2.50. Electric vehicle users can wave a credit card or a Chargepoint smart card over a card reader to pay for their electric vehicle charging access.

$2.50 a charge?  It cost me $68.74 to fill my tank.

The ultimate electric car charging station: Solar panels shaped like trees with plug-ins for cars – why not fill GO station parking lots with these things?

The provincial government says the new stations are part of a three-year pilot program, which may be expanded depending on demand.

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