Just a few days left to get your 15 minutes of fame on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre.

By Staff

If you really want your 15 minutes of fame on a Burlington stage – get your demo into the Mayor’s Cabaret.  There are just a few days left to be considered for the event which is to take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre on February 24th.

Mayor Goldring, upper right, practices his routine for the upcoming Mayor's Cabaret. He hasn't been told yet that after his Blue Jeans Gala performance - he isn't going to make the cut.

To date there are 30 submissions and the Mayor’s Office expects a few more to come in at the last minute – you could be one of those.  While the competition is going to be stiff we are able to tell you that you won’t be going up against the Mayor or Mike Wallace, Burlington’s MP.  Both took part on the Blue Jeans Gala early in December and both have decided to keep their day jobs.

The Cabaret is Mayor Goldring’s initiative as a fund raiser for the Centre, which has just gone through what they called a slow opening – and they weren’t kidding.  Starting with Royal Oak back in October to the big ticket Gala with Sarah McLaughlin on the stage and a “boffo” event for the patrons who could put up the $400. per ticket price.

Now the Centre settles into becoming a destination in the city that delivers world class entertainment and at the same time makes room for local performing arts groups and serves as home base for the Burlington Teen Tour Band.  The Mayors Cabaret is about as local as you’re going to get; it will be interesting to see what comes in. If you want to take a shot at being selected click on the link above.

The Sound of Music people are heavily involved in this initiative; they will be doing the selecting and overseeing  the production.

Inquiries: Daphne Jaques, Assistant to the Mayor,  (905) 335-7600, ext. 7478

Email: jaquesd@burlington.ca

Tickets for the event are $100. each, available at the BPAC box office – 905-681-6000,  for which you get a lot more than a comfortable seat The Centre has shown they know how to put on an event and based on the first really WOW! Gala we can expect this to be just as impressive.  Big question is: Will Cogeco Cable TV have their cameras on site?


Return to the Front page

That didn’t hurt now – did it? Hospital CEO’s now have to open the kimono and show it all.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 4th, 2012  –  There, that didn’t hurt now did it?  Remember those words from your first visit to the doctor?  It was a new experience for you and one you would get used to for the rest of your life.  A similar experience came across the desk of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO and President Eric Vandewall this week.  Ontario’s Freedom of Information legislation was made to apply to the medical community and JBMH had to post the information on its web site.  Now anyone and everyone can log in and see what the man is paid.  There is nothing exorbitant in Vandewall’s contract.  Some of his colleagues elsewhere in the province, particularly across the Bay, do much better.

Liberal candidate in the provincial election Karmel Sakran shares a smile with JBMH CEO Eric Vandewall at an event where everyone hoped a provincial government minister was expected to show up with a funding announcement. Sakran at the time was a member of the hospital Board and was in line to become chairman of the hospital board but resigned when he ran for office - and lost. Sakran's signature appears on Vandewall's employment contract as a witness.

To spare you the trouble of going through the 10 page agreement we can tell you that the hospital hired Vandewall in June of 2010 at a salary of $325,000 plus a car allowance of $1000. a month.  He has to pay for parking like everyone else, which is more than can be said of Burlington city council members, but then they don’t get the big bucks that Eric gets.

In December of this year Vandewall’s salary was increased to $338,428.  But there was a hook added to the compensation agreement.  $17,767. of that salary is “at risk”, meaning that it is possible for Vandewall to not to actually get the full $338,428. in his contract.   Has to earn this portion of his salary by meeting designated objectives outlined in the Hospitals’ Quality Improvement Plan.  Personally, I hope for Vandewall that one of the objectives isn’t his getting real money from the province to rebuild his hospital. I think the province is going to stiff him because it just isn’t going to have the money.

That level of detail in the contract “designated objectives” portion of the contract is something best left to the hospital Board.  You have to trust them to hold Vandewall accountable and to behave responsibly as a Board.  One small quibble – the information that was to be made public effective January 3rd wasn’t actually available until sometime in the mid-afternoon – a small detail and hopefully not a telling one.

It is a new day for hospital administrators.  They are paid out of the public purse and are responsible to the public.  Accept the change or leave the profession and work in the United States where the dollars are much, much greater – but do you really want to live there?

Return to the Front page

Sorry wrong number – but this is an emergency – still wrong number. Police give out their correct telephone number – 905-825-4777

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 4, 2012  – Wow!  If the police can’t get what they need from Google – what are the rest of us supposed to do? Halton Regional Police Service reported that it was recently made aware of an error in the contact phone number for the Service when utilizing the ‘Google’ search engine.  Is that a criminal offence?

The police apologize for any inconvenience this has caused the general public and report they have been assured ‘Google’ is working towards making the necessary correction.  You want to bet they are.

The main phone number shown by Google is 905 825-4710 when it should be 905 825-4777.

Write that one down 905-825-4777

The police want you to dial 911 when there is a genuine emergency.  However, they also remind you that there are non-emergency incidents that can be reported in person at either our police reporting centre or any of our police divisions.

Some non-emergency incidents can be reported online and the public is encouraged to visit the police web site at www.haltonpolice.ca, for a complete understanding of these reporting provisions.  As always, if you have an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Return to the Front page

Transparency doesn`t come easily to the medical community – that`s OK – lawyers have the same problem.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 3, 2012  A Burlington resident commented on our first story about the government requirement that senior hospital staff make their pay scale and expense spending public and said: “Here’s another reason why that secrecy is stupid: Taxpayers already know roughly how much Eric Vandewall is paid.  According to other media sources Vandewall was paid $334,990.65 in 2010 and given a car allowance of “around” $1,100 a month.

“This stonewalling is nonsensical and seems inconsistent with the spirit of we’re-all-in-this-together community you think Jo Brant would be using in their fundraising drive”


Hospital spokespeople said earlier in December that they would not post the pay scales until January 3rd because they were not required to do so – which raised a bit of dust and the question: why not?

Joseph Brant Memorial Hosapital CEO Eric Vandewall poses with Prime Minister Stephen Harper - the PM didn't have a cheque for the CEO. Vandewall wants to get his picture taken with the Premier of the province - that's where the funds have got to come from.

If the figure reported is correct Vandewall is one of the best paid civil servants in Burlington.  Well someone has to be at the top of the list and if the money that person gets is from the public trough – it gets declared. The presidents of large publicly traded companies have their salaries and benefits published in annual reports.  The only time you don’t have to tell the world what you’ve earned is when it is a private company that you own.  Then the only person you have to tell is the tax man.

What is frustrating is the tendency some civil servants have to duck the very valid question: How much public money are we giving you?  Then the public can decide if the person is worth what they are being paid.

Andrea Horwath, NDP leader and MPP for Hamilton Centre makes the point that “leadership on cost-cutting has to start at the top. You can’t expect a nurse to take a pay freeze while the CEOs are raking in not only high salaries and bonuses but also perks … These perks are all part of the equation, when we look at trying to get control over costs in the hospital sector” says Horwath.

Horwath has long been fighting to rein in hospital CEOs salaries and in the process scores political points and keep her blue colour base happy.

Smith makes nearly $725,000 a year and Martin is just over $700,000. Higgins makes nearly $490,000 and Vandewall gets just over $350,000 in salary and taxable benefits.

At St. Joseph’s Healthcare, CEO Kevin Smith gets $1,000 a month and drives a Mercedes ML Diesel SUV. Smith is paid nearly $725,000 a year.  Heck based on that – Vandewall (who gets just over $350,000) should be looking for an increase.  Because for the next five years – maybe ten, he is going to be battling the bureaucrats at Queen`s Park to get the funding to rebuild the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, when the province doesn`t have any money and at the same time deal with city hall to coax out of them some of the cash they already have in the bank.

Vandewall has to clear the property parking lot so that the expansion can take place and to do that he has to build a parking lot.  The city of Burlington doesn`t want to put their money into a parking lot for a couple of reasons: there is nothing sexy about a parking lot and the city isn`t all that sure the province will really, really come through.  The Mayors Letter to the Editor in the Post notwithstanding.  To hand over $20 million to the hospital now and see a parking lot go up – and not get the revenue from that parking – is proving to be a tough one for the city to swallow.  The definitive agreement between the city and the hospital is still going back and forth.  But somehow Vandewall has to convince the city to let the money flow his way.

Vandewall has to attend every Gala that is put on to raise money for the hospital - but he doesn't have to pay for the tickets.

Then he has to glad hand for the next five years to get the people with deep pockets to come up with the $60 million the Hospital Foundation has to raise.  Were I Eric Vandewall, I would be renting billboards and telling the city how much I am being paid and then ask for a raise.  He has one of the toughest jobs in the city and quite frankly I don`t care what kind of a car he drives.  That is none of my business.  How much we give him to pay for the car – that is public information.

When on compares what Vandewall is earning with what his colleagues a few miles away are earning and you measure that against what the guy does – he is worth every dollar we are giving him.  This guy oversees the building of hospitals – and that is no simple task.

Before coming to Burlington, Vandewall was the senior vice-president of Trillium Health Centre, where he over saw the building of the Trillium Health Centre’s West Toronto 18,510-square-foot addition and 23,575-square-foot renovation.

Construction setbacks – including a labour strike, record summer rainfall and construction challenges – put the project behind schedule. Still, Ellis Don, the general contractor, was able to make up the time to bring it in on time and within budget, which included being just under the five per cent contingency allowance.

While Vandewall didn’t do all this by himself he certainly directed the team and made all the parts come together.  This guy knows how to get a hospital built – now if he can learn how to work a little more effectively with the city and soothe the nerves of the politicians who will take it in the neck if they end up paying for a parking lot garage and then have to  wait more than ten years for their hospital.

One thing that did surprise me about the pay packages was that the cost of subscriptions to the numerous galas these people have to attend is covered in their remuneration package.  What we are doing is using tax dollars to pay these administrators – some of whom are brilliant – and then giving them a perk that they use to buy a ticket to a fund raising event to build the hospital.  Is that what they mean by paying Peter to rob Paul?   I thought these people paid for their tickets out of their own personal funds.  Maybe I am naïve.



Return to the Front page

Terry Wilkinson found dead on Burlington Beach just east of the lift bridge. Foul play is not suspected.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 2, 2012  –  Halton Regional Police reported on December 30th, the finding of the body of Terry Wilkinson.  He had been missing since November 22, when he was last seen in downtown Burlington.  The body was found on the beach just east of the lift bridge.  The police report there was no suspicion of foul play.

Terry Wilkinson, Father, friend community volunteer, found dead on Burlington Beach. Foul play is not suspected.

Wilkinson was with a family member on that Tuesday and said he was going home, but family members have not had direct contact with him since then.

His family says the disappearance is out of character and that Wilkinson had no pre-existing medical conditions and was believed to be in good health.

Burlington Det.-Sgt. Ray Bruce reports reviewing surveillance video of Wilkinson at a downtown gas station around 7 p.m. the same day he went missing.  Wilkinson is on his own in the footage and appeared to be in good condition.

Wilkinson’s 2004 black Pontiac Grand Prix was found by police on Wednesday, Nov. 23, around 10 p.m., in the Brant Street/Lakeshore Road area. It had a parking ticket on it dated the same day, around 11:25 a.m.

The police marine unit did a search of the shoreline around Spencer Smith Park and also a foot search of the downtown area to no avail shortly after Wilkinson was reported missing.

Weather until very recently was unseasonably warm.

Burlington resident Casey Cosgrove was part of a community effort to locate Wilkinson.  Flyers were placed in stores in the downtown core and police were on constant lookout and several searches were organized.

“The story with Terry has ended in a way that makes all if us that cared for him or called him a friend very sad”, Cosgrove said. `”He was a husband, father, and an active volunteer in his community for many years. Every time there was an event that needed support, Terry was there. He will be dearly missed.”


Return to the Front page

Get a piece of school child art work instead of an invitation to step out of the car.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 31, 2011  – They do it every year.  Some of them get away with it; others get caught in the RIDE sweep while others bring tragedy and grief into the lives of the people they kill while driving the vehicles and under the influence of alcohol.

Halton Regional Police will be handing out these cards to drivers who made it through the Ride check.

Tomorrow evening a couple of squads of police officers will set up their cars and pull drivers over and do a quick RIDE check.  If the police officer thinks you’ve been drinking they will ask you to step out of the car.  If they ask you to use the breathalyzer – you could be in serious trouble.  If you get charged with drunk driving – consider yourself lucky.  Had you continued to drive you might have killed someone.

Halton Regional Police recently took Nelson High School students through a “walking the line” test and let them see what the breathalyzer looked like and how it worked.

The objective was to convince the students that while people think they can drive if they’ve had a few drinks – the fact is that alcohol severally limits your ability to drive or react – so get someone to drive you home.

Yet every year dozens of people in Burlington get caught driving while drunk.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

As a cogent reminder as to who this is all about Halton Police hand out cards with pictures done by students in grade 4 and 5 classes with the message: Think of me.

Return to the Front page

How is he doing, what is he doing, what is he thinking these days? A reflection on Mayor’s first year in office.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 30, 2011  –  Rick Goldring, who has had his job as Mayor for just over a year, took some time to reflect with Our Burlington on his first year in office.  We wondered what it is that defines his first term – and he agreed that the decision not to do a deal with Paletta International or the Hamilton Tiger Cats was not a defining moment for him.  He did agree though that it was a hectic couple of weeks and he got to see how city hall staff managed a situation under significant pressure.

The Burlington Tiger Cats? Not this time around. The Mayor dealt with his first challenge.

With the decision not to put any money on the table to bring a Canadian Football League team to Burlington – the Mayor was able to get on with the business of learning how to do his job and create a City Council that could work together as a team – and that seems to be what Goldring sees as his best contribution so far.  Not his only contribution by far.

Goldring explains that in any relationship there is a certain amount of tension, which he saw as a good thing.  The first steps he felt were critical for the Council he was leading was to establish trust between the members, three of whom were brand new to municipal politics, and had to learn what it was to be a council member, while he learned to be a Mayor.

Frank McKeown, on the left chats with Ward 5 councilllor Paul Sharman at a Strategic Planning session. Bringing McKeown in as his top advisor was one of the smartest moves the Mayor made - calling him his Chief of Staff wasn't as good an idea.

One of the smartest moves he made was to bring Frank McKeown into his office as his top aide and thinker.  Goldring knew that he was in a job that he had not been able to prepare for – all he had was one four year term as a Council member.  His contacts within the city were not limited, but they didn’t reach as deeply as they needed to reach, if he was to be a successful Mayor – and make no mistake – Goldring very much wanted to be a successful Mayor.

With the football issue behind him he next had to face the notice from the provincial government, that there might well be a road rammed through the Mt. Nemo part of the community.  That one kept him busy learning whom he had to talk to at Queen’s Park.  Joyce Savoline had announced, she was not going to run in the fall of 2010 as the MPP, so Goldring knew he was going to have to deal with a new person as MPP.

In a little less than 20 months you will be able to stand out on the Pier and look towards the city. The Pier - which could have crippled this administration has been handled in what we now see as a typical Goldring fashion - be direct, take action and be open.

Then of course there was The Pier, an issue that could have severely bogged down a lesser man.  It certainly didn’t get the attention it needed during the previous council’s term.  It was Goldring’s intention to do everything he could to complete The Pier but he wasn’t prepared to do so at any cost.  The previous Mayor, Cam Jackson, had advised Goldring to just tear down what was built and put the matter behind him – but that isn’t the way Goldring works.  He’s a builder and he wanted to see the project completed – but not at any price.

Add to that ongoing problem, the surprise that shook everyone on Council when they learned there was a surplus of more than $9 million and some pretty fancy managing of the work force at City Hall and you see a man getting a crash course in Mayor 101.

There was more.  Burlington has known for some time that its hospital needed a significant upgrade if not a complete re-build.  The provincial government made it known that they expected major dollars from the community so the city budgeted for $60 million over a six year period. Due to the surprise surplus the city was able to set aside the first $20 million almost immediately.   So – here’s a Mayor, new to the job, who finds he has a very significant surplus, which is nice when you have extra dollars to spend. Goldring also knew that this was really very poor municipal management.

His city manager “steps aside”

Out of that realization came an announcement that the city manager, after a meeting with the Mayor, had decided to “step aside”, which gave Goldring the opportunity to look for a city manager that fit his operational style.

The Mayor was beginning to look at the City Manager in a much different light.  During the Strategic Planning sessions, it became clear there were some significant differences in the way the Mayor and the then City Manager Roman Martiuk saw things.  The Mayor’s viewpoint prevailed and Martiuk chose to “step aside” allowing the Mayor to look for a City Manager that fit the management style of both the Mayor and his Council.

That led to the search for a new city manager, which didn’t take very long.  The current city manager for London will move to Burlington and lead the city for the next five years.  Jeff Fielding brings a career in municipal management to the city and a significantly different working style.  The city met over a two month period and got the guy they wanted.  City hall will be a much different place come the end of 2012

Mayor Goldring in the centre works with his council and senior staff to craft a Strategic Plan that will make itself felt in every decision the city makes during its term of office.

Goldring wanted to bring a significantly different approach to the way the city planned – and by that he meant planning at every level.  He knew that there was a better way to run a city and one of his early decisions was to create a really meaningful Strategic Plan.  Burlington is a city that has for some time been seen as a city that actually had a Strategic Plan – there has been one in place for more than seven years.  But those strategic plans really weren’t all that good, and for the most part they were forgotten once the exercises of creating the plan was done.

Goldring didn’t see municipal leadership quite that way and he convinced his Council to go along with him and create a really strong Strategic Plan that could be lived up to and revised each year to meet changing circumstances.   Both Council and senior staff  really didn’t know what they were getting into when they started, but eleven long, half day meetings later – there it was,  a Strategic Plan that is a model for other communities.

Goldring knew that the city needed to begin thinking much more strategically.  He wasn’t completely sure what the strategy had to be but the need for a strategy was essential if the city was going to manage the changes that were coming its way.

When he embarked on the creation of a Strategic Plan neither Goldring or his Council had any idea they would spend the amount of time they did – eleven half day sessions – on the creation of a Strategic Plan which, while considerably better than anything done previously, despite the protestations of a former Mayor, the current strategic plan isn’t all that it has to be.

Every thought, every idea made by anyone during the Strategic Plan sessions got written down. Staff and council put in much more than a full week of work to produce a document they are now committed to live within.

Two things have become evident with the plan.  The citizens are reading the thing and using it to suggest to Council that some of their actions are not reflecting the words that were written.  And Council and some staff are beginning to realize that a Strategic Plan is a big deal and requires a lot of thinking – much more than they realized when they worked together and got into the deliberations.  The creation of a Strategic Plan is a “big hairy deal”.  What this Council and senior city hall staff  were not able to come up with was that “big hairy audacious goal” that defined the city.  The best they could do this time around was to lean on the old standbys – the Lake, Spencer Smith Park and the Escarpment.  Burlington has yet to figure out just what it is that makes the city different.  The Strategic Plan they have is good – it just doesn’t go as far as it should.  They will be revisiting the Plan every year of their term and it may well become the document that the next municipal election focuses on.

Goldring has committed to reviewing the Strategic Plan once every quarter at a Committee of the Whole session.   City council then made a senior staff member responsible for the document and also tied it to the development of the budget. That senior staff member has his work cut out for him and may not be up to the task.

In the matter of relationships:

I’m not quite sure when Rick Goldring realized that governing was all about “tension” and that there were two kinds of tensions – one related to tasks that had to be done and one related to relationships with people.

As I get it from Goldring, there is tension the moment there is more than one person involved in a task or a relationship.  Each person brings their perspective and expectations to a task. Goldring began working with his Council on tasks – because the darn things were sitting there in front of him and they had to be dealt with.  And for the most part – the tasks that faced him during the first three months were dealt with fairly well.  Other than the shellacking he took over the reception his Council held after their inaugural meeting, when he got a chance to see the kind of political posturing he was going to have to put up with and the attempt to get the pay for Council members behind him – there were no major goofs.

Mayor Rick Goldring: He pays attention to detail, he is usually very well prepared and he listens.

The Mayor and his Council found they were able to get along quite well, which got them from the “task” focus into a place where trusting relationships could be developed.  Some of the task tension is still there but they tend to get resolved and the relationships get better and better.  The need to flaunt egos began to subside and one could see a real team beginning to develop.  It is when, Goldring believes, these two tensions are aligned that a team can really do good things.

They were all still politicians with goals, plans and expectations of their own and an apparent need to do some political posturing, but this Mayor was proving to be a different leader than the former Mayor.

The biggest task on the table for the next month is the budget and determining what the tax rate is going to be.  Goldring doesn’t believe the public has any appetite for tax increases greater than inflation and that seems to be the target they will work towards.

A surprise surplus:

Last year, due to a surplus that few on Council knew about during the municipal election, they were able to spend money on all kinds of items, including a big chunk of change going into the hospital re-build fund and some put into the significant infrastructure deficit the city faces.  More than 60% of the infrastructure work scheduled for the future is not funded.  Add to that the very clear fact that if the work is not done when scheduled, – it will cost even more when it does eventually get done.

During the budget sessions for the councils first year in office they were subjected to – and that may be too mild a word –  some incredibly boring briefings that told them precious little.  Some of the committee chairs were new to their jobs and let meetings run on for far too long.  When Goldring has the Chair, things move briskly – almost too quickly – but he doesn’t waste much time.  This time out the city has a Strategic Plan that will serve as a filter for every spending decision made.  The “does it fit with the strategic plan” question will come up every time spending is talked about.  Councillor Craven, who is very hard nosed about “sticking to what you said you would do”, will feel he has died and gone to heaven – if this Council does what it has said it will do.

Beachway might become a missed opportunity:

Then there is the Beachway Master Plan that the city has basically lost control of – it is now going to be a Conservation Authority issue with Burlington following along and looking for a way to deal with the thirty some odd families, who have led Council to believe they will leave their homes kicking and screaming every foot of the way.

Burlington has let a true gem sit idle and grossly underused.  The opportunity to develop something truly significant appears to be getting away from the city.  True that the land is owned by the Conservation Authority, but the city manages it and was in a position to take much more of a leadership role in how this was developed.  The fight over what happens to those 28 + homes on the Beachway could well become Burlington’s 2012 Pier level issue.  This need not have happened.

Downtown core and a changed development scene create challenges:

Then there is the Downtown Core – what to do with it? How do the retail merchants attract shoppers?  Is the commercial malaise that plagues downtown a parking issue?  Not if you tried to find a parking spot over the holiday Season at any of the malls.  There is going to have to be some very creative, out of the box thinking done by both the merchants and their association, The Burlington Downtown Business Association, to get this one resolved.

Alton; one of the last large community developments in Burlington. MAyor Goldring has to steer the development of a city that needs to grow UP rather than out.

Goldring takes the helm of a city that is in the dyeing days of robust economic growth, driven by housing developments that brought very significant development charges into the city’s coffers.  The last of the really big tracts of land available for housing development are being worked on now.  There is so little land left available for housing development, that the owners of large tracts of land set aside for industrial growth are trying to convince the city to re-zone some of the industrial land for housing.  Based on current zoning, all the city can look forward to is small infill development and going up instead of sideways.  That will mean a different look to the city and Goldring knows from experience that change does not come easily to Burlington.  The fact that the wave can be seen on the horizon and you know it is going to come crashing in and flood everything – Burlingtonians still don’t go out and buy rubber boots.   It is a city that is seldom ahead of the curve.

Goldring on the left and former Minitser of Transportation Kathleen Wynne on the right with Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran in the miiddle. Goldrings doesn't look as if he beleives what the Minister is saying then and we don't think he beleives what she is saying now as Minister of Municipal Affairs and overseeing the Regionbal Official Plan that sets out what will and won't be done with the Escarpment.non the right

Goldring will be the Mayor who has to fight with the province to ensure that developers are not allowed to nibble away at the 407 highway boundary that separates rural from suburban.  The moment one developer gets an approval from the OMB, and that is the only level that is going to approve anything north of 407, there will be a stampede and the Burlington we know will be lost forever.  There are perhaps as many as two dozen developers and land owners who are hanging in for the day that development is permitted.  The city’s executive director for economic development believes some of the land abutting the north side of 407 should be used for the location of environmentally friendly office buildings.  That would be the thin edge of the wedge.

The revenue side of the ledger takes on a different look.  Tax assessments will increase and result in more tax revenue but those increases will never equal what development charges produced for the city. Goldring is going to be the Mayor that was at the helm, when the shift from a rapidly growing suburban city was created out of a rural part of the province to a community that has matured and begun to see some urbanization and a degree of sophistication developed.  How that change gets implemented will be his legacy.

During this term of office the city’s Official Plan will be reviewed.  The challenge for the Mayor and his Council will be to see how they adjust and modify the plan to meet the changing realities. This is probably the most significant change that Burlington has had to face since the early development days, when the city was racing through one housing development proposal after another as orchards were plowed under and good agricultural land felt the blade of a plow.

Escarpment is still threatened:

The Region recently got a response to the Regional Official Plan – it was the document that let everyone know just over a year ago that a road through parts of the Escarpment was a very real possibility.  All the municipalities in the Region worked together on this and put their views before the provincial government.   The most recent response from the province says: “…The Ministry is satisfied that ROPA38, as modified, is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement and conforms to the growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan and the Parkway Belt West Plan”, which sounds nice – kind of – until you read the more than 45 pages of deletions and alterations.  Saving the Escarpment from rapacious growth is far from a done deal.  Goldring’s comment is that “the situation is being closely monitored.

Your city council managed to put a keep on the size of the city staffing compliment and they were able to put a freeze on salary increases.  What they have not been able to do – no one is even sure it can be done – and that is to lessen the huge gap between the retirement benefits civil servants get and those that are available in the private sector.  The public sector pensions are, in a word, delicious and the pay scales aren’t by any means chintzy either.

Managing the size of the payroll:

Goldring, who spent his first career in the financial planning field, is all too aware of just how wide the gap in pension benefits is between the public and private sectors and comments that many of his fellow Mayors across the country “don’t have much of an appreciation as to how much public dissent could be created over this disparity”.

The city has had to allocate an additional sum to cover a shortfall in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement fund and has been advised that they may have to do another top up in 2012.  The workers at those companies that have had to close down and were not able to meet their pension obligations must look in wonder at how taxpayer money gets used to pay civil servant pensions.

The city has heard the background briefings on a very big initiative that will see significant changes in the way it delivers information to the public.  The Information technology staff have brought forward a proposal that will make a huge difference in what the public can learn about what goes on at city hall.  The cost is quite steep and it might not make it through the budget process in 2012 but it does show that the city is looking for ways to improve communication and reduce the “information deficit” the Shape Burlington report brought to everyone’s attention.

Is the Shape report still shaping the city?

During the election campaign that moved Goldring from ward 5 where he was a Councillor to the office of the Mayor, the Shape Burlington report was probably the most important document the voters had to deal with.  How much of that report will Goldring implement and what part of his legacy will be shaped by the report?  Shape Burlington pointed to a city that had a significant information deficit – too early to say if Goldring is going to widen the flow of information from city hall to the people who pay for the place, but it is clear that he going to bring new ideas to the city and create an environment, where he gives the people of this city something to think about and ideally respond to.  The Mayor’s Inspire program was a success in 2011 and will be continued into 2012.  While just of 1/10th of one percent of the population took part in the Inspire series it has had a positive impact on the thinking within the city.  Fresh ideas never hurt.

How will the development that the city is going to require come about?  Will the Economic Development Corporation become something that drives the effort to attract new business or will the Mayor use Burlington Hydro, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city,  to drive the creation of new wealth for the city.

Goldring’s past was one of helping people create wealth and plan for their futures and it would not be unreasonable to see him look for ways to fashion Burlington Hydro as an organization that served as an incubator perhaps for the development of opportunities for the city.

Goldring has been doing some thinking about how he can pull the McMaster University DeGroote School of Business, which is now located on the South Service Road where it is a bit of an orphan, into the fabric of the city.  The McMaster University decision not to locate in the downtown core of the city was a huge missed opportunity for Burlington – but it’s done and all we can do is live with that mistake.  There is vacant land right beside DeGroote on the South Service Road that Goldring wants to see developed as a cluster that includes additional educational institutions and perhaps a start-up lab or a research organization that would develop new ideas out of the glare of public city council meetings.

Frank McKeown, the Mayor’s top aide who is a serial start up entrepreneur may be just the guy to get a little juice into Burlington Hydro and turn it into the economic driving force it has the potential to become.  At one point I thought McKeown was nearing that point where there wasn’t much more he could do for the Mayor; I may have been wrong on that point.  Council recently took steps to have Burlington Hydro financial data available to the public.   Up until now Hydro has been a sleepy little financial holding the city owns but doesn’t do much with.  In the right hands that corporation could be turned into something that could make a significant strategic and financial contribution to the city.  Look for major changes over at Burlington Hydro.  Right now all it does is pay fat dividends to the city.

Citizen’s Engagement Charter: Real or imagined?

Another Shape Burlington recommendation was the creation of a Citizen’s Engagement Charter.  The city has hired Christine Iamonaco as the Public Involvement Coordinator on a two year contract.  She is now rolling out a series of community meetings intended to educate and involve the community in the creation of a Community Engagement Charter.

The broad strokes of what we can expect from Rick Goldring as Mayor are now basically in place.  He doesn’t grandstand – doesn’t know how.  He is self-effacing; he wants an informed electorate and has taken some bold moves with his Inspire series of Speakers.

Now that he knows he can do the job – and he didn’t know that at the end of his first two months in office – he is venturing out a bit from his comfort zone.  Goldring is cautious by nature and an environmentalist at heart.  Will we see the inspired, bold, innovative, fiscally responsible leadership we need?  Probably not in year two of his mandate.  Goldring is still working through what he wants to do.  Remember, he ran for the office of Mayor because he couldn’t stand what then Mayor Jackson was doing to the city.  The election results made it clear that most of the city agreed with Goldring.  He isn’t ready yet to come forward with anything radical – he is still developing those relationships.

That BHAG, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal that eluded both Council and senior staff during the creation of the Strategic Plan has yet to be brought to the surface.  We’re not even sure yet that it is even in there waiting to be brought to the surface  –  Goldring is going to need all of this first term of office to figure that out.  What we do know at this point is that Rick Goldring has grown into the job of Mayor that he got just over a year ago and that there is the capacity to both lead and make the hard decisions that have to be made.

In the next 24 months we will get to see what kind of depth he brings to his first term and the vision he will offer the city when he prepares for his second term as Mayor.  And make no mistake about it – Goldring is at least a two term Mayor.


Return to the Front page

The twisted tale about the size of the pay cheque and the paying for a parking lot garage.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 28, 2011  –  In the world of politics it is called getting ahead of the parade.  When there is some news you know is going to create some controversy,  you get out in front of it and do your best to control it, put it in context and frame it with as much positive data as you can.  Smart people do that –they work at creating the agenda rather than being the agenda.

Come Tuesday of next week, Eric Vandewall and others at the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) will be the agenda when what they are paid each year is made public.  The province decided some time ago that what hospital administrators are paid is public information and can be learned through a simple access to information request.

Several local media then gave the JBMH a call a few days before Christmas and asked – “well just how much are you paying the lad?” and were told that the media would have to wait until January 3rd, which is what the rules call for.  All the hospitals in the Burlington-Hamilton area got together and agreed that they would all release the numbers at the same time.  In the commercial world that’s called collusion and if they were selling something we would call it price fixing, but I digress.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall is about to tell us what he gets paid annually. He didn't volunteer this information.

Hospital administrators are paid with tax dollars and Ontario has for some time made the salaries of those paid by the taxpayers public information.  It has been called the Sunshine list and is released each year.

The public relations people at JBMH had an excellent opportunity to be seen as complying openly and willingly with the new rule – but instead of doing that they decided to drag their feet and leave the impression that they really don’t want you to know – and come Monday they will be the news story of the day unless there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world.

I have always wondered why intelligent, highly paid people do such stupid things.  It’s kind of scary when you think about it.  They don’t seem to be able to think much beyond the end of their noses or they are far too focused on their own self-interests – either way – scary.

These are the people we pay very well to make good decisions on our behalf and when they behave like this – stalling for what amount to less than two weeks one wonders – why?

A positive news story would state what Vandewall is paid and then put it in context with say what the city manager is paid ($214,000+ for the last one) and what the President of McMaster University is paid and then look for what some of the publicly traded companies are paying their CEO’s.  Help the public see and appreciate the value we taxpayers are getting for the dollars that go into their pockets.

The medical community has always had a rather high level of arrogance about it.  One had to just watch Vandewall when he last appeared before city council.  He wanted money the city had set aside as its share for the re-build of the hospital and the sooner the better was the message he was sending.  Vandewall told council that the hospital Foundation would match what the city was putting up, $60 million of your dollars over a six year period.  Add the city’s $60 million to what the hospital Foundation was committed to raising and you have a handy $120 million.

Hospital Foundation Board - needs to raise $60 million. So far has only managed to get their picture taken. Nice picture though.

Problem is the Foundation has yet to raise a dime, at least they haven’t reported any funds being raised but they did have a nice picture taken of themselves.  In due course the Foundation will raise its share but right now the hospital needs to lay its hands on some cash so the early prep work for the eventual re-build of the hospital can get done.

One of the first layers of that work is the building of a parking garage.  Why a parking garage first?  The hospital has to clear some land that will be used to add the new extensions to the hospital and they need a place to put the cars currently parked on the hospital lot.  So, they thought, why not get the city of Burlington to pass along some of the money needed to build the garage.

Parking space - someone has to come up with the money to pay for a parking garage so that these cars have a place to go. Burlington city council isn't very keen on city money being used to pay for a hospital parking lot.

Not so fast, say the folks at city hall. Before as much as a dime of city money goes to the hospital,  the Memorandum of Understanding (or whatever they are going to call the document that sets out who gets what and who does what) has to be signed.  That document has been in the negotiation/development stage for more than four months now.  Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor is keeping a very close eye on this one – he’s not about to see a big chunk of the city’s money get used to pay for a hospital parking garage. Taylor was heard to mutter something about maybe having the parking lot revenue go to the city.

All the Senior people at City Hall get their names published in the Annual Sunshine list (Its officially known as the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act),  if they earn more than $100,000.  The list comes out early in August – we’ll see that you get a copy.  Eric Vandewall earns well in excess of $100,000; he may well be the best paid civil servant in the city, an accolade he isn’t going to want to wear on his lapel.

Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall stalling for time while waiting for a provincial government Minister to show up to announce that the hospital re-build would be funded. The Minister never arrived. This isn't the last time the provincial government is going to let the CEO down.

Good talent has to be paid the going rate and there are not a lot of exceptional hospital administrators in the province.  Vandewall was brought in to clean up a real mess and it would appear that he is doing a very good job at what he is being paid a very good salary to do.  The public needs to appreciate that his job is to get the new hospital Burlington has wanted for some time built – and the faster the better.

Part of the problem is that the kind of hospital Vandewall is beavering away to get built down on Lakeshore Road may not be the kind of hospital Burlington needs for its aging population.  There is reason to believe that Burlington might be much better served with a community type hospital and have Hamilton and Oakville handle the type of medical situations that calls for the high tech/emergency level care.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the needs of our aging population are probably not best met with the type of hospital JBMH is slated to be rebuilt into.  What is best for the city is not yet clear but no one seems to want to ask the question: What kind of hospital is going to meet the needs of our changing demographic and at the same time meet the needs of the current growing population.  But there isn’t a politician in this city who is going to stand up and ask that question publicly.  It would be really interesting to hear what people within the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care think is best for Burlington long term.

He has to do this job and get it done while working with a government that seldom tells him the truth and happens to be broke and isn’t likely to come through with the money needed to do the rebuild.  Eric Vandewall has a very tough five years in front of him.  He isn’t going to be able to do what he was hired to do – through no fault of his own.

So he looks at the pile of cash Burlington is sitting on and looks for ways to get it out of the city’s bank account and into the hospital’s.   Good luck Mr. Vandewall.  There happens to be a wily old coot sitting at that Council table and he isn’t at all keen on seeing city money used to pay for the building of a parking garage.  Part of the garage ? – probably.

When they all learn what you’re being paid – they are going to make you work very hard for every dollar of it.


Return to the Front page

Pier steel beams on the way out. Perhaps heading for a razor blade factory somewhere.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  December 23, 2011  –  It’s been awhile since we’ve said anything about The Pier.  Hasn’t been much to say.  Now there is news.  Good news.


Sometimes he’s called the “stick handler”; sometimes they call him “the fixer”.  Most will tell you that if he says it’s going to get done – it will get done or someone will be answering to him pretty quick.  He’s not known for his diplomacy and during his time with Burlington as the General Manager Community Services he has stepped on a lot of toes – but he has gotten things done.  He has been given some of the most problematic files, which he never shirks – he just gets the job done.

The Pier became one of the pucks that Scott Stewart had to handle and when others at city hall missed a pass that was sent their way Stewart would circle back – pick up the puck and move it up the ice.

He has left the politics and the PR side of the Pier to others but been on the scene or behind the scene for every major problem that came up as this new Council got a firm grip on The Pier problem and convinced most of the citizens that they were doing the right thing.

That there is one big load of steel on its way out of the city to a home unknown to us as this point. But it isn't ours anymore. A Christmas wish come true for the folks in the city's engineering department.

The one thing Scott Stewart doesn’t do is give you a deadline that he knows just cannot be met.  So when people wanted to know when something was going to happen down at The Pier, Stewart would just say that things were on track.

He is still looking for a couple of light standards – but he knows where they are.

The last quarter of the year has been a tough one for both Stewart and his chief sidekick Kim Philips who GM’s things at the Budget and Corporate Services side of city hall.  The hospital and its problems are her domain; The Pier is Stewart’s.  Both will want to take some much deserved time away from their desks during the holidays.  Phillips however is wearing the Acting GM title until the first week in January so she can’t get too far away from things.  Stewart will be resting up and perhaps Phillips will get away for a bit after the holidays.

Stewart though has to be taking much satisfaction from the pictures that accompany this article.  He wouldn’t say when work would actually begin down on the waterfront because he knew that the moment he put a date on something – something would go wrong.  But earlier this week a flatbed trailer hauled away the first of the many steel beams that have to go before The Pier we have all been waiting for begins to take shape.

Construction crane delicately removes steel beams from the pier - fist major step into Phase two of what has been an expensive and politically damaging project for the city - but it is now under control and proceeding ahead of schedule.

A crane can be seen on the horizon down there swinging in and out between the flatbed truck and the structure that is currently in place; but coming out one big beam at a time.  The decent weather has allowed work crews to be on the site getting a bit of a head start on things.  If the weather holds up they just might manage to get it all out before the snow and the really freezing weather make the site unsafe for work crews.

So, come New Year’s Eve, Scott Stewart and Tom Eichenbaum, Director of Engineering for the city will be hoisting at least one to celebrate their success to this point and know that the hard part is behind them.  All they have to do now is approve requests for payment and make positive reports to city council.  Few taxpayers recognize either man should they pass them on the street – all should be happy they are in place.  Hoist more than one on the Eve fellas.

Return to the Front page

Prowler in the Palmer Drive community in Burlington is also peeping – into your home.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 23, 2011  – Halton Regional Police have received reports of a prowler who is doing more than prowling along Palmer Drive near Guelph Line. The prowler’s actions suggest he was peeping into the homes.

The man is described as being in his forties 6’1, 220 lbs., wearing blue jeans, a grey sweater and grey hat.

There have been several similar incidents reported to the Halton Regional Police Service both in Burlington and Oakville dating back to early 2011. In these earlier incidents, the reports were of a suspect masturbating while looking into homes. Police believe that the same person is responsible for many of these acts.  There is no evidence that the culprit ever attempted to enter any of the residences.

The Halton Regional Police Service would like to remind residents to be vigilant in reporting any suspicious behaviour around their homes to police.   Additionally, police would like to hear from those residents who have experienced similar incidents that have previously gone unreported.  Further, police are asking that if residents encounter incidents of this nature, they DO NOT confront the culprit but immediately call 911.

Anyone with information in relation to these or any other crimes is asked to contact the Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2215 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Return to the Front page

While things aren’t great; business is being done in the Region – not for profits getting a leg up as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 19, 2011  –  The Halton Region Community Investment Fund wants to hear from the not for profit community on how to revise the fund to best meet the needs of non-profit programs and the residents they serve. The consultations will also explore other strategies to help agencies respond to community needs.

If you are involved with a non-profit organization or community group that provides community health and social service programs in Halton, Halton Region would like your input on Halton Region’s Community Investment Fund.

The HRCIF funds non-profit programs that address key community health and social service needs in Halton. In January 2012, the Region will be holding consultations throughout Halton to determine “We value the important work being done in Halton by the non-profit sector and have committed resources in the Citizens’ Priorities – Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan to support those efforts,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr.  “I encourage individuals who work or volunteer in the non-profit sector to be a part of the conversation about the future of the Halton Region Community Investment Fund.”

Community consultations about the investment fund have been scheduled as follows:

 Burlington – January 19, 2012, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., De Groote School of Business (Ron Joyce Centre, 4350 South Service Road)

MASS LBP, a Canadian advisory firm that specializes in community engagement, is coordinating and facilitating the consultation sessions. To register for a community consultation in your community contact Mass LBP at 1-888-377-2739 or register online at www.halton.ca/investmentfund.

While the non-profit sector is important, the health of the private sector is vital to the community and Halton has done reasonably well.  Construction, which is the industry the Region follows closest, looked like this:

New houses in the Alton community on the North side of Dundas added to the construction industry numbers for the 3Q of 2011.

Construction industry:

Halton’s total value of new construction and expansions declined during the 3rd quarter of 2011 from the same period in 2010, falling 23% to just over $381 million.  The decreases in construction values was seen across the industrial, institutional and residential categories, whereas the commercial category saw an increase from the same period in 2010.  The major non-residential project that got underway during the 3rd quarter was Phase 1 of the Joshua Creek Corporate Centre in Oakville, where permits were issued for three office buildings totaling 120,000 sq.ft. and a combined construction value of over $14.5 million.  There were no notable industrial permits issued during the quarter.

Overall, there were 1,734 building permits issued in Halton during the 3rd quarter, which represents an 18% decline from the same period in 2010.  Residential permits accounted for 58% of all building permits issued and 14% were Industrial, Commercial or Institutional (ICI) permits.

Halton’s industrial vacancy rates during the 3rd quarter of 2011 dropped 5.8%, while vacancy rates in the office market rose slightly to 14.2%.  At the same time, there was negative absorption in both Halton’s industrial market (-86,506 sq.ft.) and office market (-15,910 sq.ft.).  This contributed to slight declines in both industrial and office net rental rates in Burlington and Oakville, while industrial rates in Milton rose marginally.

Economic Conditions

Ontario’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined 0.3% in the 2nd quarter of 2011, following seven consecutive quarterly gains.  Production by goods-producing industries fell 1.0%, while services-production industries edged down 0.2%.  Production declined in the manufacturing, finance and retail trade sectors, while utilities and construction posted the highest gains.  Meanwhile, business investment on plant and machinery continued to trend upward, rising 4.9% during the 2nd quarter.

Employment in Ontario was also up over 12,000 in September 2011.  Over the past 12 months, employment in the province increased over 135,000 (+2.0%), the majority of which was full-time work. The provincial unemployment rate climbed 0.1 percentage points in September to 7.6%.

Federal government Stimulus Funding, announced by signs like this wherever the governmenet spent any money, made a significant contribution to the Regional economy. Is a second wave of Stimulus funding needed or can we just weather out the coming economic uncertainty?

Halton’s economic conditions weakened during the 3rd quarter of 2011 from the same period last year, halting the substantial market rebounds observed throughout the post-recessionary period of 2009 and 2010.  Construction activity in Halton fell by 23%.  The industrial sector posted the highest losses, with a decrease of 81% over 2010.  Institutional investments also deceased (-39%) as federal and provincial infrastructure stimulus funding wound down.

In the residential sector, development activity dropped 12%, however, Halton’s resale housing market remained strong with a reported 23% increase in sales listings and 41% decrease in the number of days listings were staying on the market longer on average.  Housing prices rose 12% over the same period in 2010, reaching just over $515,000 on average.

The labour market in Halton also weakened slightly during the 3rd quarter with the region’s unemployment rate rising to 6.6% from 5.0% during the same period in 2010.  However, this was an improvement on the 7.2% unemployment rate recorded in the 2nd quarter of 2011.  The number of residents participating in the labour force decreased from a rate of 77.0% in 2010 to 74.9% in 2011.

Return to the Front page

Through the magic of television – you can watch the social, culture event of the year.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 17, 2011  –  On December 3rd Burlington got a peek at the kind of city it could be; urban, sophisticated, connected and able to show the rest of the country that it is not a small ingrown town run by an old boys network.

Cogeco Cable did a thoroughly profesional job of cable casting live the Gala Opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Mark Carr, on the right, will be moving on to CBC, ABC or NBC soon - unless of course he is waiting to move into Ward 6.

The opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre with Sarah McLaughlin on the stage as the lead performer was without a doubt THE cultural, social event of the year for the city.

The event was broadcast live by on Cogeco Cable who had five cameras on the site along with their mobile unit and a staff of 14 people backing up Mark Carr and Deb Tymstra who were on air throughout the evening.

The Cogeco programmers are going to re-broadcast the event on the following dates:

Dec. 18, 5:30pm

Dec. 25, 5:30pm

Dec. 27, 10pm

Dec. 29, 8:30pm

If you want to get a sense of how this city works, the way the movers and shakers meet and greet each other – take the time to watch the re-broadcast.



Return to the Front page

Line these ducks up and see if you see what I see. This could be painful.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011 –  The good folks at Burlington’s Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital tells us that the province is in for the money needed to do a major upgrade to the place – which is badly needed.  The hospital board reports that they have a memo from the provincial government – AND that the hospital’s name is on an infrastructure list of communities that are going to get funding.

With good news apparently on the way the hospital goes out and rents a nice big white tent and everyone who is anybody in town shows up for THE announcement.

But the Minister, doesn’t show up.  We are told her car got stuck in traffic.  A substitute Minister is on hand to give, what is at best an embarrassing situation, the spin it needs.  Ted McMeekin talks about the great care he got at the hospital when he needed help.  Fair enough.

Burlington's best wait on a sunny afternoon for a provincial government Minister to arrive with a "good news" announcement - She fails to show - an ominous sign for the city.

The Minister that didn’t make it to the meeting lost her seat in the election and the guy that told us about the great care he got makes it back into Cabinet.  Such are the vagaries of provincial politics.

That the province was in the middle of a provincial election and the Liberals thinking they just might be able to win Burlington this time out, throw everything they have into the Burlington campaign.  Almost daily press conferences, photo ops, a visit to the city by the Premier – all for not.  The solid Liberal candidate got beaten soundly by the Progressive Conservative candidate who had no political experience nor was she active in the community before she was elected. The riding hasn’t gone Liberal since the early 40’s.

Then Liberal candidate and former hospital board member Karmel Sakran chats with Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall the day a provincial government Minister failed to show up for a "good news" announcement.

The Liberal candidate, who was at one point the vice chair of the hospital board swears that this is going to happen – the hospital is going to be funded.  The only thing we didn’t hear was someone swearing on a stack of bibles that it would happen.

City Council has been told they will have to come up with a significant chunk of the millions it is going to cost to refurbish the hospital and they put in motion the steps needed to impose a tax levy.  The city manages to put $20 million plus into a reserve fund.

Hospital Foundation Board gets picture taken as they gear up to raise $60 million from within the community.

The hospital is grateful and tells the city they are going to match – dollar for dollar – what the city contributes.  Combined the community is committed to come up with $120 million.  It must be noted however that while the city has $20 million plus in a reserve fund collecting interest the hospital,s foundation hasn’t announced a dime of fund raising.  They did release a nice picture of themselves though.

Then the hospital asks if the city might send along some of those dollars to build a parking garage that is needed.  A PARKING GARAGE the citizens ask – we wanted a hospital.

Hospital spin doctors explain that a parking garage has to be built so that there is a place for the cars to be put so that the land the cars are now parking on can be dug up and used for the magnificent expansion that is going to come.  We know the hospital is going to be refurbished because the province promised us that.  Yeah right.   Oh, and there is a pretty picture to show what the new building will look like.  It gets better.

If it ever gets built - this is what the architects expect it to look like. Don't think there will be any big bets placed on this happening by the announced date.

The city and the hospital start talking about an agreement as to when and how and under what circumstances the money Burlington city has raised will be passed along to the hospital.  This is one of those occasions when the city’s legal department is being closed mouth and rightly so.

There are many, including Councillor Paul Sharman who feel the city could get “screwed” by the province and he doesn’t for a second trust them.  He wants an agreement with the province “in our back pocket” – then money can flow.  Sharman points out that the province has both a budget shortfall and some very significant debt that is going to have to be paid down and he doesn’t believe the province is going to have any money for an upgrade to the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward believes the province will come through with the money.  Meed Ward sat on the hospital board as a citizen before she was elected to council and has in the past worked as a communications advisor to the hospital during the very tough Cdifficile days when more than 80 people lost their lives.

The day after Sharman said he wanted to see an agreement between the city and the province in place before he would go along with the money the city now has in the bank going to the hospital – guess what? The financial press reports that an influential credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service had turned “negative” on the province.  They warned that they might have to lower the province’s credit rating if it “doesn’t take serious steps in the next budget to deal with the multi-million dollar deficit.”  Hey isn’t that the budget that has the money for our hospital refurbishment in it?

The province has a $16 billion deficit and an economy that is on the sluggish side which means it is going to take longer than expected to reduce that deficit.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is a little like the provinces economy: a little the worse for wear and tear and in need of a fix up. Problem is the economy has to get much better before the hospital refurbishment can go forward,

The problems with the American economy are holding Ontario’s economy back and the problems in Europe, which almost defy understanding, aren’t helping either.  With a credit rating change apparently in the works – unless the budget shows some serious intention at restraint – it will be more expensive to borrow.  And, if the financial press is to be believed, foolish to do so as well.

So now that the ducks are all lined up – what do you think is going to happen?  Grab your ankles and hold on tight.  This is going to hurt.

All however is not lost.  There is an opportunity for this city to do something really different; something that meets the real needs of the city and not the desires of the medical community.  Mayor Rick Goldring recently invited a highly regarded expert on public health policy, Andre Picard,  who suggested that smaller community hospitals were the best tool to meet the medical needs of the aging population Burlington has to deal with.

For some reason – both your city council and the people who run the medical services in this city want a big expensive hospital that the province can’t afford.  We seem to be stuck on a building we perhaps don’t need.  Hamilton has all the medical capacity we need and Oakville is getting a really large medical complex.  I’ll take the ambulance ride to Hamilton or Oakville if you don’t mind.


Return to the Front page

Orchard residents don’t like way city staff are interpreting Strategic Plan. Council will find a way to resolve the problem.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011  –  Your City Council got its Strategic Plan fed back to them on a plate by a delegation of Orchard Park residents who described the document as a paper tiger.

More than 80 residents filled the public gallery and applauded loudly, much to the consternation of committee chair Blair Lancaster, who explained on several occasions that applause was not permitted nor were the decorative signs that got raised in the air by several of the residents.  It was one of the largest delegations this city council has seen since they took office a year ago.

During the event nine delegations were heard, led by Amy Collard who spoke as a private citizen.  She is the Board of Education Trustee for the Orchard Park community.

The complaint was that there was not nearly enough playground/park space in the community and that the city should purchase the excess land around the newly opened John William Boich elementary school that currently has just over 700 students enrolled and expects that to rise to 800 in the near future.

John William Boich elementary school while under construction, was named after one of the co-chairs of the Shape Burlington committee that produced a report that has driven much of the municipal thinking in the city, including the need for a meaningful Strategic Plan the community now wants the city to live up to the contents of the plan.

The community felt the city had let them down because they  believed the land around the edge of the school was always going to be, at least in their minds, parkland/playground space.

The land just east of the Appleby Line/Dundas Road intersection was to originally house a high school which would have had a football field and other physical amenities the community thought they would be able to use.  When an elementary school was developed on the site – things changed and so did the mood of the community.

John William Boich elementary school has 23 K-3 classes and had to hold three  Christmas pageants because their auditorium couldn’t hold everyone if there was a single event.  The closest park for parents to use is almost a kilometre away from the back door of the school – which for the Mother of four plus a dog was, as she put it, more than she could handle with one of the four at the “potty training” stage.

What was evident during the staff presentation was a significant divide in thinking.  Staff had recommended that the city not buy the property available for a playground/park.  When the school board decided to build an elementary school instead of a high school, there was land they didn’t need.  It had to be sold and the rules of the game are that the School Board has to get the best possible price for the land and at the same time has to first make it available to other school boards and the city.

Tough to rationalize that one, when it is clear the city has no extra money and the school board is required to get all they can and when there are developers, who see significant potential for the properties.

Orchard Park residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a city staff recommendation for parkland in their community.

The community – located in the north east part of the city, has been undergoing rapid growth and is the location for a six lane road that saw a pedestrian killed in a traffic accident recently.   The location is hemmed in by a railway line, Appleby Line and Dundas – and there isn’t a parent in their right mind that is going to attempt to cross either of those roads with a couple of kids in tow.

Council member Rick Craven was having small conniptions, as he listened to the ongoing debate.  From his point of view, he could see the General Brock debate about to take place again.  That situation has property attached to a school that was to be sold and the community did not want to see it used for development.   A deal that works for everyone at that location has yet to be finalized.  Both school boards plus the city came together to make that deal work but the Catholic Board had to pull out – the cost was just too rich for them.

Councillor Craven, who didn’t vote for the solution the council committee came up with for the Orchard Park community, said after the meeting that council members had to learn to say no at some point.  This city council will not be saying no to this committee.

Throughout the ongoing debate and the question and answer that followed each delegation was the question: Is there a compromise here.  Councillor Meed Ward put that question to every delegation and it was clear the community just wanted park/playground space.  At one point there were almost negotiations (If we give you this and let that go for development – will that work?) going on between a delegation and the council members as to what could be hived off for development and what the community needed.

Some of the residents had clearly done better work at setting out the needs of the community.  Staff involved in this one didn’t come off looking all that good.  Hobson Drive resident Allison Scott brought forward some drawings that appeared to be better than anything staff had produced – at least most members of council seemed to think so, when they said they would be looking at the drawings very carefully.  Even Councillor Dennison saw merit in what the resident was proposing – and when it comes to going over ideas Dennison is about as picky as you can get.

City Council has handed off another tough one to General Manager Community Services Scott Stewart.

General Manager Community Services Scott Stewart could see a tough one coming his way.  He was eventually asked to have his staff make some phone calls to the Board of Education to talk about maybe entering into negotiations to acquire the property without knowing if he had any money to spend.

The issue before the Board seemed to be a perceived need to make a decision before the end of the year about the property – but then someone realized all the letter from the Board required was an interest in acquiring the property.  With that realization close to the end of the meeting, everyone breathed a bit of a sigh of relief, as they agreed to get the letter off to the Board and come back in the New Year and figure out how to give the community, what they felt they were entitled to and very much needed.

The city needs to get into the water with this community and listen to their needs and work something out with them.  What was impressive was how much really good homework had been done by the residents and how prepared city council was to find a solution for them.

Councillor Paul Sharman made sure his constituents got to be heard as they delegated city council to ensure they would have the park space they needed and felt they deserved.

Orchard Park is Councillor Paul Sharman’s territory and he did his best to shepherd his constituents through the meeting and ensure they had every opportunity to make their point.  The delegations included two young girls, who wrote a poem and two mothers who could not hold back the tears.  Sharman has had to deal with a number of problems in this community – the most recent of which was the tearing out of what was believed to be one of the last orchard trees.  Developer Jeff Paiken had bulldozers uproot trees that residents thought were going to remain..  That matter had Sharman calling a special closed door community meeting on a Saturday.  The community is clearly well organized and boisterous to boot.

It looked as if once again Scott Stewart’s trusted side-kick, Parks and Recreation Director Chris Glenn was going to be brought to a negotiation table to do what he appears to do very well.  Glenn handled much of the problem solving with the development of the Alton community, where they are going to have a superb recreation centre, school and library rolled into one very large complex as well as a number of sports fields across the road.

The Orchard Park community wonders, why they aren’t getting similar treatment.  Part of the reason is that Orchard Park was started more than ten years ago and there was never as broad a plan for that community as there is in place for the Alton community.

The planning done around Orchard Park was far from stellar and the community is now paying the price for lots that aren’t large enough and streets that are a little on the narrow side.  There is an opportunity for the city to make amends.

We will return to this issue and follow it closely as we watch how the city puts it brand new Strategic Plan into practice.  The Orchard Park community made it very clear they had read the document carefully, liked what they read and now expect the city to live up to its contents.

Return to the Front page

Halton police chief decides to ride off into the sunset – announces his retirement to start in June, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 15, 2011  – Gary Crowell, the Chief of Halton Regional Police is hanging up his pistols and will take retirement in June of 2012.  After 41 years of policing, which started with a stint with the RCMP, the chief, who has been with the Halton Regional Police Service since 1999, when he was brought in as Deputy Chief, is bringing a police career to an end.

Crowell was promoted to Chief in 2006.   Prior to coming to Halton, he served with the Peel Regional Police Service.

Police Services Board Chairman Bob Maich and other members of the Board commended and thanked Chief Crowell for his dedication to the Service, and to the community. “The Board is proud of the Chief’s many accomplishments attained over the years. Through the leadership, integrity and decisiveness of Chief Crowell, the Police Service team, the Region of Halton, and all community members have benefited from his contributions”, said Bob Maich. “The Board looks forward to his continued leadership through this transition period.”

Chief Gary Crowell has announced his retirement for June of 2012. Police Services Board gears up to find a replacement.

Chief Crowell thanked the Board for their incredible support and guidance during his six years as Chief. He also thanked the members of the Service for their dedication and commitment in making the Halton Police Service a very effective and professional organization. “With the excellence of the Service team and many volunteers, our community partners and Halton citizens, I am proud that Halton has been able to maintain its recognition as the safest Regional Municipality in Canada”, remarked Crowell. “I will continue my commitment to the Service through to June, 2012.”

Throughout his career, Crowell has been committed to the betterment of the Service and the community. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Crime Prevention Committee, the National Child and Youth Protection Advisory Committee and the Halton Poverty Roundtable. He served on the Joseph Brant Hospital Board of Governors for nine years. He is also the recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal, the Order of Merit, the Gold Medal for Excellence by the Human Rights and Race Relations Centre, and the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement’s first President’s Award.

Officer Wendy Moraghan is one of the group of women in the Halton Regional Police Service that Chief Crowell wanted to see in the service as it expanded. Here she works on some equipment with a techie as they prepare for a community presentation.

Crowell was responsible for some significant changes in the number of female police in the Halton service.

The Board will meet early in the New Year to consider the process it will undertake to appoint a new Chief.  The Halton Regional Police Services Board is a seven-member civilian Board that governs the Halton Regional Police. Under the Police Services Act, the Board is responsible for the provision of adequate and effective police services to the citizens of Halton Region. The Halton Regional Police Service has an authorized strength of 925 staff, a net budget of $122.2 million.

The Police Services Board is going through a budget for 2012 that looks as if it will require a tax increase of 3.2%

Among the people that will certainly be in line for the top job is Deputy Chief Bob Percy who is currently as Deputy Chief Operations responsible for all front line and investigative policing. Halton Regional Police Service Operations under his command include:  District Policing, Emergency Services, Intelligence Bureau and Regional Investigative Services.  This task set is the guts of policing – the reason we have men and women in police cars with guns on their hips.

Prior to his promotion to Deputy Chief in May 2008, Deputy Chief Percy served in a wide variety of uniform patrol duties, including as a Coach Officer, Tactical Rescue Unit officer, patrol supervisor, and District Superintendent.

Deputy Chief Bob Percy has handled some tricky situations in Burlington while he did his best to bring competitive cycling to the Region. He currently runs the Operations side of the Regional Police Service.

Percy worked closely with the city of Burlington while they tried to work out a series of problems related to the potential for competitive level cycling that would be part of the selection of members of the Canadian Olympic Team.  The problems proved to be insurmountable in large measure to the cost of police services to handle traffic control.

A couple of months later Chief Crowell appeared before Burlington city council to tell them that Burlington was doing OK from a policing point of view.  The city had not seen the chief for some time.  During that visit Superintendent Joe Taylor took part in the reporting event.  That was another first for some time.  Supt. Taylor proved to be a man with a sense of responsibility laced with a bit of a sense of humour.  That wasn’t a personality trait evident in most senior police officers.

Police Services tend to look within when there are changes in the top levels.  They tend to look for people who are thoroughly familiar with the community and know everyone in the chain of command.

Another candidate that will get a very close look for promotion is Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher who began his policing career with the Halton Regional Police Service as a Cadet in 1984. He oversees Community Policing Administration as the Deputy Chief responsible for Community Policing Support, Human Resources, Training, Communications Bureau, Information Services, Courts Services, Records, and Administrative Support Services.

Deputy Chief Fletcher currently runs the Administrative side of the Halton Regional Police Service.

Deputy Chief Fletcher is a strong advocate for community policing and public safety. He is dedicated to building relationships with the community through a number of proactive policing and crime prevention initiatives.

Deputy Chief Fletcher also represents the HRPS on a number of provincial policing committees and liaises with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, and other police and emergency service agencies to ensure Halton remains as safe tomorrow as it is today.

In his spare time, Deputy Chief Fletcher enjoys spending time with his family and is actively involved in the community, including spending most of his spare time on local soccer fields as a coach with the Burlington Youth Soccer Club.

Halton Regional Police Service Community Policing Administration functions under his command include: Community Policing , Human Resources, Training Bureau, Communications Bureau, Information Services, Court Services, Records and Administrative Support Services

Deputies Fletcher and Percy came to the Halton Regional Police service at the same time in 1984.    Has there been some rivalry between these two men ever since they came out of the police academy and put on uniforms with the same shoulder patch?

Whoever the new police chief is – that person will face a community that is seeing criminals from Toronto and Hamilton slip into Burlington where they sense the pickings are a little easier.  There was an LCBO break in during the early hours that required more than twenty minutes for a patrol car to arrive on the scene.  Maybe some tightening up within the ranks on the street is needed.

Return to the Front page

Entrepreneurship isn’t just young legs with venture capital money; it’s a set of solid values and a strong work ethic.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 16, 2011  – Reginald Pollard, Chairman of Pollard Windows and Doors, located on King Road has been named the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.  The Award luncheon is to take place June 7, 2012 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

Pollard, whose Dad created the company after the second World War when the family immigrated to Canada, might not fit the image of an entrepreneur but let there be no doubt that it is men like Reg Pollard who create jobs, wealth and a healthier community when they put their money and their talents on the line.

Reg Pollard spends quite a bit of his time in the Boardroom - but he can get out on the plant floor whenever he's needed and help solve problems. He is Burlington's 2012 Entrepreuner of the Year.

Pollard joins the ranks of Harry Voortman (Voortman Cookies), Mark Chamberlain (Trivaris), Michael Lee-Chin (AIC Ltd./Portland Holdings), Michael DeGroote Sr. (Laidlaw/Republic), Ron Joyce (Tim Hortons), Murray Hogarth (Pioneer Petroleums) and Ron Foxcroft (Fox40 International) in Burlington’s Business Hall of Fame.

Pollard Windows started out in a 20×20 foot garage that Reg and his Dad built and grew to the point where today there is a third of a million square foot plant that at peak employs just under 300 people.  Today the business is profitable and doesn’t have a dime of bank debt.  Reg’s son Michael is president and runs the operation.

Pollard, who will tell you that he isn’t computer literate, and if he has an email address he doesn’t know what it is – but will quickly add that he can take up a pencil and his quarter in square graph paper and do a design when it’s needed.

He is always on hand and available to give an opinion and as he tells it “let them have some of the 60 years of wisdom and experience I’ve accumulated”.

New ideas and new products have kept Pollard Windows ahead of their competitors. Their King Road display centre shown above.

Pollard Windows and Doors is a family company.  Son Michael is the president, son Gary runs the American side of things and daughter Karen handles the marketing.  Family for Pollard Windows however extends beyond the biological.  Reg Pollard learned from his Dad that “we are equally human beings” and Reg adds that the best thing the company has going for it is the loyal staff.  We have people who have been with us for more than forty years and sons of fathers that started with us are now on the payroll.

Their profit sharing program is what has kept unions out of the company.  “There have been five or six attempts to unionize us but the employees prefer the way we run the company and the benefits we provide” adds Reg Pollard.

Pollard Windows has known some tough times but they have grown with the significant growth of housing in the Region and the province generally.  They know who their competitors are and as Reg Pollard will tell you “we’ve never missed an opportunity to take advantage of a discount available to us”.  “We are into JIT” he adds, which is the acronym for Just in Time manufacturing. “The Chinese can fill warehouses full of windows that are a lot cheaper than ours but they can’t react to the instant changes we can make in the manufacturing of our products.”

You get the sense that Reg Pollard, while proud of being named the Entrepreneur of the Year, is just a little bit prouder of being able to beat a competitor.


Return to the Front page

Thief looking for cash – leaves fish and chip shop empty handed – gets his picture taken.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 15, 2011  Here’s a criminal who might have thought he had an easy score but after some  effort he had to leave the scene of his crime empty handed – but he did get his picture taken.  If you know this bandit call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)

If you know this thug - call Crime Stoppers.

This all started just after 2:40 a.m. on December 5th, when a male suspect pried open the back door of Thistle Fish and Chips located at 3455 Fairview Street. Once inside, the suspect pried open a locked cash register and a desk drawer to search for cash. The suspect eventually left empty handed.

The suspect was captured on surveillance video and is described as a male, white, 5’7” tall, heavy build, short brown hair, and wore eyeglasses. He was wearing a green undershirt with a beige hooded sweatshirt, a blue jean jacket, black pants and black running shoes with a white emblem.

Assuming the police catch this one, the picture they take – the mug shot – will be a lot clearer.


Return to the Front page

Wow! – this is what civic engagement is supposed to be. City’s staffer getting right out there and challenging you to get involved.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011  I am impressed.  The Shape Burlington Report that everyone used during the last municipal election campaign and then sort of got forgotten is back – or at least one of its recommendation is out front and getting very personal..

In her first message to the community, Burlington’s first Public Involvement Coordinator (She goes by the title PIC), Christine Iamonaco said she was “looking forward to working with the public, stakeholders, city staff, and elected officials to make Burlington’s Public Involvement programs and community engagement activities excellent”.  Well they all say that – don’t they? What else are they going to say?  But Iamonaco qualified what she meant by “excellent” by saying that should be “taken to include:  transparent; accountable; meaningful; and engaging – which results in improved decision-making.”  That is a mouthful and if she lives up to just half of it, the city will have gotten great value for the two year contract Iamonaco has.

Christine Iamonaco punched her time clock card on October 1st and started in the the General Manager’s Office. This two-year contract position was established to ensure that the City of Burlington is successful in achieving its public involvement goals. And the newly approved Strategic Plan sets out specific tasks including that a ‘Community Engagement Charter’ be established.  Community engagement charters are a proven and successful model for making the practice of public involvement a regular part of city activities. Public Involvement Charters are in use by many levels of government, non-governmental organizations, corporations, agencies, boards and commissions.  My first task, leading the creation of the Public Involvement Charter, will be accomplished by forming a Community Engagement Charter Team that will create the charter.

What Iamonaco brings to the table:

Christine Iamonaco, taking part in one of her early public engagement events is shown here at the Heritage Worskshop where things got just a little heated at times. She seems to be ready for more - and wants to here from you.

Her experience is based on years of public involvement experience with the public and stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, with the private sector as a consultant and with government.  Her motto is “bringing people and projects together.”  Iamonaco informs us that “projects include plans, community engagement and organizational initiatives. Through my years of practicing public involvement, I have gained an in-depth understanding of removing public involvement barriers and recognizing when and how public involvement should occur. Through my education, I have studied both the theory and practice of public involvement. I have created approaches crafted to suit unique project and community needs. I am a certified Public Participation Practitioner, certified by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). IAP2’s principles are used my many organizations and municipalities, including Burlington.”

Getting the ball rolling

Iamonaco, the city's Public Involvement Coordinator may want to say something about CLOSED council sessions - maybe?

Her first six weeks at the City of Burlington began with face-to-face meetings with the Mayor, Councillors, Shaping Burlington members, the Inclusivity Advisory Committee, senior city staff and the community. She sat in on meetings of the standing committees of council, and attended the Plains Road Corridor Functional Design Public Information Centre, a public meeting and open house, held on November 2, 2011.  I note that she doesn’t say she attended a Council meeting – smart women.  Those things are deadly boring, have a sense of being rushed and convey little in the way of information.  Iamonaco clearly knows when to take part in something and when not to.

Early Findings and Observations:

Iamonaco reports observing three very clear messages. “There is city commitment to bettering the practice of public involvement in Burlington.”

“Improving community engagement means new ideas, even new thinking about delivering and participating in good public involvement activities. That will take the effort of the public, stakeholders, and city staff and council, working together.”

“There are opportunities,” she reports “ and of course challenges, not the least of which is early notification of community engagement plans and activities that offer opportunities for public involvement. Getting the word out about community engagement sounds easy, yet Burlington has some challenges that are unique because of its geographic location between the big news and bigger newspaper markets of Hamilton and Toronto.”

What Lies Ahead?

Achieving improvement in the practice of public involvement begins with the city’s newly approved Strategic Plan, Burlington, Our Future.

Strategic direction three, Excellence in Government, states the city will implement a Community Engagement Charter and appropriate policies and tools to support community relationships.  As stated by a member of Shaping Burlington, a community organization that supports this strategic initiative, “the Charter is the destination, and the process to develop it is the journey.”  I think that developing the Charter offers opportunity for working collaboratively with the public, non-governmental organizations, stakeholders, city staff and elected officials to craft a truly made-in-Burlington approach to community engagement.

Why Develop a Community Engagement Charter?

A community engagement charter is a social agreement that defines the commitment of the city, its staff and council, to conduct good public involvement activities in municipal processes such as: strategic planning; road projects; environmental assessments; budget consultations; voter turnout programs; and community development projects. Ensuring that the Charter has strength can be achieved through endorsement by City Council, and potentially, its adoption as a city policy.  Development of the Community Engagement Charter is also dependent on citizens and stakeholders setting specific engagement objectives, providing ideas, and undertaking review of the Charter’s implementation.

Iamonaco wants you to be involved.  You can do that by being a volunteer of the Charter Development Team!  You can help create the Burlington Community Engagement Charter.  Or you can just provide input on the Charter’s engagement process and content.  Maybe you just want to monitor Charter implementation.

First place you want to go for more detailed information – CLICK HERE.

Christione Iamonaco wants you – and there is the sense that she is going to do whatever it takes to get you to the table.  I think she actually takes prisoners.  If you want to be on her list: CLICK HERE

There will be a series of  Community Engagement Information Sessions:

Monday, January 12, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.,

Aldershot Arena, Community Room, 494 Townsend Avenue

Tuesday, January 17, 7 to 8 p.m.

Mainway Recreation Centre, Auditorium, 4015 Mainway

Thursday, January 19, 7 – 8 p.m.

City Hall, 426 Brant Street Council Chambers (this session will be recorded for webcasting)

Thursday, January  19, 2 to 3 p.m.

City Hall, 426 Brant Street, Room 247

Thursday, January 26, 7 to 8 p.m.

Brant Hills Community Centre and Public Library, Nelson Room

Return to the Front page

The Ho, Ho, Ho man giving you a gift; free parking for three days. Some Brant Street locations seem to have forgotten the holiday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011 They are getting ready to talk about a tax increase of 2 1/2 to 3% with the possibility of it going to more than 4% if they decide to buy all the goodies staff has put before them – but for now your city Council is going to give a bit of a break – FREE parking in the downtown core at all meters and municipal parking lots and the Waterfront Downtown Burlington parking garage on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, the 26th and again on the 27th of December.

Note: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.  The one place that most people will want to go to – especially if the ice skating pond manages to freeze over – and, you guessed it; that one isn’t free.  Now you know what they mean by looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Not much Christmas Spirit at these Brant Street locations. Photo taken December 13th - maybe they are waiting for snow. Burlington Downtown Business Association needs to work on its membership.

I suspect the downtown merchants would have liked city hall to spread that Christmas Spirit a little further and include a couple of days before Christmas Day.  It’s not like downtown Burlington has a tradition of great Boxing Day Sales now is it?

City Hall itself will shut down from Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 and will re-open on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. During this time, a number of city administrative services will not be available.

Parks and Recreation:

This service provider managed to brighten up a display window - and for the most part they don't have walk in traffic. Right Spirit here.

There are many opportunities the whole family can enjoy over the holiday season at city pools, arenas and community centres. Hours of operation and services available vary at each city facility. Call your local pool/arena for specific swim/skate times and check the Tim Horton’s Free Holiday Skate Schedule for skate times available in the Winter Wonderland events schedule.


Burlington Transit and Handi-Van service will operate under a holiday season schedule from Dec. 25 through to Jan. 1 and will resume regular operating hours as of Monday, Jan. 2.  For details, please call the automated 24-Hour BusLINE at 905-639-0550 or visit the city’s website at: www.burlington.ca/transit


Roads and Parks Maintenance will provide basic and emergency service over the holidays. The office will be closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2012 and will resume regular service on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012

Court offices:

The Provincial Offences Court offices in Burlington and Milton (Halton Court Services) will be closed between Dec. 26 to 28 inclusive, and on Jan. 2, 2012. The Court offices will be open on Dec. 29 and 30. Please note that there will be no court hearings scheduled between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, 2012 inclusive. Justices of the Peace will not be available between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 inclusive.


Return to the Front page

Burlington Mayor unable to take part in the Cabaret he created; maintains there is still a place for local MP Wallace.

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011  –  With 18 acts already in the vetting pipeline for the Mayors Cabaret, Our Burlington asked Mayor Goldring: “ Will you be submitting your talent for consideration to the vetting committee that is in place to select the talent for the Mayor’s Cabaret?”  We followed that up by asking: “ Would you expand on which of the many artistic skills you happen to possess?

Mayor Goldring advised Our Burlington that: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to perform at the Mayor’s Cabaret. Since my debut at the Blue Jeans Gala, I have been inundated with requests for my services. I have had to turn down a request to be the opening act for Burton Cummings at Massey Hall, the very evening of the Cabaret. The city comes first however and Burton Cummings has rescheduled.

Our Burlington also asked the Mayor, “is it true that you have instructed the vetting committee for the Mayor’s Cabaret not to accept an application from the Member of the House of Commons for Burlington to take part in the event and further – is it true that this decision is based on the experience at the Blue Jeans Festival ?”

Belting it out for a good cause. The Mayor and some of his staff along with people from the Sound of Music and the Theatre Burlington Board ham it up a bit while promoting the Mayor's Cabaret.Performing Arts Centre Board

“Completely untrue” the Mayor told Our Burlington in an exclusive interview.  The Mayor added that “Our MP will be most welcome to audition for the Mayor’s Cabaret- we are an inclusive city, after all. I am still coaching him daily via Skype, on his song and dance routine timing.  He has had a bit of trouble coming out of his shell. He is pretty conservative so it will likely require a lot more effort to help him change his old habits and realize his potential. After all, the poor guy works in the House of Commons.

The Cabaret, scheduled for February of 2012 has a closing date of January 6th.   The focus for this fund raising initiative of the Mayors, which hopes to raise $80,000 that will go to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, is Burlington talent.

It was evident during the Blue Jeans Gala when The Spoons and Silverstein took to the stage that Burlington has home grown some very significant musical talent.  The Sound of Music Festival has made Burlington one of THE destination events for those who want to take in summer concerts.

The idea for a Cabaret came out of Mayor Goldring’s office before the Blue Jeans Gala took place but what few people knew before the Gala was that the Mayor had legs of his own that he wanted to strut on stage.  The Cabaret idea seems to have brought to the surface a part of his hidden personality that has not been seen before during this first year in office and it certainly wasn’t evident during the election campaign.  Had former Mayor Cam Jackson known of this talent he would never have run against Goldring.

The Cabaret is a partnership between the Mayor and the BPAC along with the Sound of Music people and what the Mayor hopes will be a significant number of corporate sponsors.

The event is open to submissions from entertainers with a preference being given to local artists.  There doesn’t appear to be any limitation.  Mine, acrobats, jugglers singers, bands – whatever you think is entertaining.  More detail is available at:  www.burlington.ca/cabaret

For details on how to participate give noted attorney Gerry Murphy a call at 905-541-0582 or reach out to him at gerardmurphy@bellnet.ca

Tickets to the event are $100.00 which includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions and souvenir sales.  The only thing that is not confirmed at this point is if our local MP will take to the stage again. We hope not.


Return to the Front page