Council shows sign of actually understanding what transparency means. Taylor shows how it’s done.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 13, 2011  – They are learning.  Slowly; but it is clear they are trainable.  Your city council wanted to slip into a closed session to discuss levels or merit pay, but John Taylor, Councillor for Ward 3, said he didn’t want to go and he managed to convince the rest of council not to go into closed session.  So they didn’t go into a closed session – but they didn’t talk about the issue of merit pay either.

Kim Phillips, the acting City Manager, explained that the report they had prepared was done with the understanding that it was to be heard in a closed session.  If it was going to be an open session – then staff wanted to pull the report.  The tail is clearly still wagging the dog.

Councillor Taylor argued that much of what was to be discussed had been discussed in public, open session, at the Regional level and he believed Burlington should discuss the issue in public as well.

Acting City Manager Kim Phillips took the position that if everyone was going to hear what was being said - she wasn't going to talk. Council then set the matter of merit pay matters aside

The Acting City Manager dove into the procedural by-law looking for answers – the answer they found there was a little murky – but the decision was made to be open.  And THAT is new for this crowd.  But they are getting there – so pray for them.

Having decided to not go into Closed Session the Committee then ignored the issue; they received and filed it.

Earlier in the week Council, at a Committee of the Whole, heard two reports – in a closed session, related to legal fees, particularly on what has been spent on The Pier.  Councillor Meed Ward has for some time wanted to know just how much has been spent on legal fees as the city sued the various companies involved in the failed phase one part of getting the Pier built.

Councillor Taylor is almost the last council member one would expect to argue about going into closed session - but he did. First time this Council has chosen NOT to go into closed session when that was clearly the wish of senior staff.

One report had to do with a “legal department report regarding disclosure of legal fees” and the second, the legal department’s position on providing quarterly litigation updates.  Both were heard in a closed session by just Council and senior staff.

In her widely distributed Newsletter Councillor Meed Ward said: “I have long advocated that in the interest of accountability and transparency, we should be disclosing to taxpayers legal fees spent on items of public interest, such as the pier litigation. It’s been a matter of public debate whether disclosing current legal fees or future legal budgets reveal a legal strategy and prejudice a municipality’s case. However, as a first step I’m interested in exploring incremental release of previous legal fees, for example fees from, say, two years ago. This could allow reasonable, annual disclosure of fees during lengthy legal proceedings without suggesting future legal strategy.”

What Meed Ward hasn’t done however is mount a spirited drive to get those numbers out into the hands of the public and to – let us say – issue a Staff  Direction requiring the city solicitor to at least explain, publicly, why talking about legal fee specifics can damage a legal case.

The legal department has argued that to report how much has been spent would give away the city’s legal strategy – which looks to me like a lot of poor grade baloney.  To say that the city has paid Weir & Foulds, a prominent Toronto law firm, $296,719,85 (I made up that number but it is no doubt lower than what the city has actually paid the law firm) would in no way reveal any strategy.

The legal department is hiding behind a skirt and not wanting to be open about how much they have spent for fear that the public will really holler when they learn how much has been spent and they don’t want to deal with that plebeian political stuff.   Add to that a level of arrogance that exists within the legal community – and that gets us to where we are.

Your Council is at some point going to have to summon up the courage to create a policy and then stand behind that policy and require all departments to report on what they spend.

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Christmas is a time to be extra vigilant says fire department. They offer 12 rules that will keep you safe.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 13, 2011 – A house on fire on Christmas day has to be something that has all of us feeling devastated.  And when we read later that there was no smoke alarm – we shake our heads. “With all the hustle and bustle at this time of year it is easy to forget that Christmas trees, candles, decorations and meal preparations for holiday celebrations can increase the risk of fire,” said Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill.


She urges people to “keep your friends and family safe by following these simple steps to prevent the most common types of home fires that occur during the holiday season:

Day 1     Water live trees daily

Day 2     Check all sets of decorative lighting to ensure they are in good condition

Day 3     Test smoke alarms

Day 4     Test carbon monoxide alarms

Day 5     Make a fire escape plan with your family so everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs

Day 6     Don’t overload power outlets and use extension cords wisely

Day 7     Position space heaters away from walls, curtains and other flammable materials

Day 8     Make sure all lit candles are put out when you leave the room

Day 9     Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children

Day 10   Watch what you heat! Stay in the kitchen when cooking

Day 11   Ask smokers to smoke outside

Day 12   Keep a close eye on anyone in your household who consumes alcohol while cooking or smoking

“A home fire is particularly devastating during the holidays,” said Cockerill.  Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms every seven years.

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Council members finally get what they have earned. Now look for the misinformed remarks about the way politicians pay themselves.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON December 13, 2011  –  Well – this time it is actually going to happen.  Your city Council is going to get a pay raise and this time they will accept the money and not make mockery out of the procedure that was put in place to remunerate our city Councillors.

Mayor Goldring reluctantly said “it was time to get this out on the table”.  Back in 2010, when times were tougher than they are today Council decided to take a pass on a pay raise.  They were entitled but they said nope – keep the money.

When there was mention in other media that they were going to get a pay raise – there was all kinds of public yapping.  Much of it uninformed.

The city had put in place a mechanism that determined how much the pay increase would amount to.  The council members themselves had no input on what the amount of a pay increase would be.  Nor did they have any direct input on what the mechanism to be used was.  Using this approach, Council members would get reasonable pay increases, just the way staff at city hall do – but let it be noted that there is no merit pay for Council members whereas there is merit pay for city hall staff.

They work hard, they serve you well; very well for that matter. Pay them what they are worth and insist that they stop playing political football with the economic adjustments that were awarded by a citizens committee.

There are no annual bonuses.  They don’t get paid overtime – and trust me on this one – every one of them earns every dollar they are given.  Council alone is a big enough job – add in their Regional responsibilities – and these men and woman are underpaid.

But in 2010 and 2011 – they weren’t prepared to put up with the public outcry so – for two years in a row they passed – deferred was the word they used, the pay increases they were given.  Note again – they did not give these pay increases to themselves – they follow the mechanism put in place by a citizen advisory board.

Mayor Goldring feels now that not accepting the pay raises that were due in 2010 and 2011 was "perhaps a mistake".

Goldring noted that the deferring in the past two years was “probably a mistake”.

The discussion around the Council horse shoe ranged from Councillor Sharman taking issue with what he called the “ideological approaches” where Council members were saying the money should go to the poor instead or those who took the position that they could afford to go without a pay raise.  He suggested those who felt that way should make a personal statement and give their increase to their charity of choice.

Roy Make, Executive Director Human Resources for the city was asked what people should do if they did not want to accept the pay increase and he replied – “just write me a letter”.

Councillor Meed Ward saw the approach to paying the council members was a pretty blunt instrument and her view was that a 1.5% increase was more in line with her thinking.  She indicated she would be making personal decisions.

Mayor Goldring pointed out that the 3.2% being proposed – based on the mechanism the citizens advisory committee suggested – would amount to 1% for the 2010, 2011 and the 2012 time frames, which is a slick way of saying they are not getting that much in the way of a pay increase.

It is probably time for there to be a new citizen’s advisory board on the matter of remunerating politicians – but that’s another matter than can come up next year under Good Governance.  If they do convene such a committee that group should include in their policy that the funds are given and that a council member cannot refuse.  This making a political football out of what a Councillor is paid is nothing more than political posturing – the sort of thing you expect in small provincial communities.

We will grow up over time.


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Aldershot developer hits a roadblock: planners didn’t see things the way he had hoped they would. Residents win this time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 10, 2011 – The chickens came home to roost for Drewlo Developments and their very large, five, multi-storey buildings on Plains Road.  The city’s Community Development Committee decided Monday evening not to approve an application Drewlo had made for  change in the site plan.

Back in May of this year, Bruce Krushelnicki, the city planner, asked that this situation be “un-delegated”, by which he meant he wanted the authority to make decisions taken out of his hands and have a council committee handle the problem.  And handle the problem they did.

Drewlo had arbitrarily decided not to construct one of the ramps to the underground parking beneath the five buildings.  There were to be five such ramps into the massive parking lot that stretched out underneath all five buildings.

Local residents, led by Robert Copper, claimed the deletion of one of the five ramps would result in a serious traffic congestion in their community: Fairwood Place East and West and Fairwood Hollow, where there are a total of 54 townhouses.  Cooper, who doesn’t have much to say that is positive about Drewlo, told the Council Committee his community strongly supported the recommendation from the Planning department to refuse the developer’s request to amend the site plan so that the ramp would not have to be built.  Cooper wanted the city to direct Drewlo to restore the ramp as set out in the original site plan – and that basically is what they got.

Lawyers for Drewlo produced a very detailed traffic study which they claimed showed that there wouldn’t be any traffic flow that couldn’t be managed.  The Committee didn’t buy that argument.

The ramp: supposed to be five of them, there are just four. That missing ramp is going to have to be put in place - an expensive proposition for the developer..

Those Councillors with a more commercial frame of mind asked if it was possible at this point to restore the ramp.  John McNair, legal counsel for the developer explained that it was possible but that it would be very expensive and very disruptive.   Expensive it will certainly be but it looks as if Burlington has decided to be a bit bloody minded with this developer who, according to Robert Cooper has “bent or broken almost every provision of the site plan agreement since it was approved in 2008.”

Copper went on to say that: “We are not the first community to be bulldozed by Drewlo Holdings…London, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener have all been subjected to their indifference toward city guidelines.

Next step in this process: probably an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board where developers usually hold sway – but this time around a developer who has a reputation of being indifferent to the community might just have met his comeuppance.

As Cooper said the Committee: “The passion and concern of a lot of our residents over more than ten years must be taken into consideration tonight.  We have had enough and therefore urge this committee to uphold the recommendation of the planning department to refuse the request for a revised site plan.

Aldershot residents showed up at every council committee meeting to fight for what they believed was right. Last night they got their first taste of victory.

A large number of residents from the community were on hand to support Cooper.  Most were typical Aldershot residents; quiet, law abiding people who had just had it.  It was a victory they will savour for some time – and should this be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board expect this crowd to come out in force again.

Meanwhile, quite a bit of the construction on the Aldershot Plaza I is at a standstill.

The community was supported not only by the Planning department but also had the whole hearted support of Rick Craven, their Council member who at times during this long drawn out procedure was beside himself over the way Drewlo had behaved.

When the project first came to the city everyone was excited – it meant a big change to the look and feel of Plains Road and had the potential to bring about significant growth in the community.  But the very poor working relationship between the developer and the city resulted in a project that has been mired with one problem after another.  Burlington took a strong position and then stood its ground.  The developer now has to deal with the sting of losing and also with the additional costs.


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Burlington transit ridership increases more than the national level. 5.6% in Burlington; 4.9 elsewhere

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON December 9, 2011  – More people taking the bus – we’re not sure why but the numbers are not only up but they are up more than the national average of 4.9% increase in ridership for the first half of 2011.

Burlington Transit has recorded an  increase of 5.6 per cent in ridership during the first half of 2011.  You certainly see and experience the increase at the bus terminal on John Street.

Rush hour in Burlington at the John Street terminal tells that ridership is rising

Public transit ridership statistics across Canada for the first six months of 2011 showed an increase of 4.9 per cent compared to January to June the previous year, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. The increase in Canadian transit ridership represents an addition of more than 45 million new trips taken by Canadians on public transit in the six-month period, a trend that builds on the growth of previous decades.

In the first six months of 2011, BT’s ridership increased 5.6 per cent over the same period last year.

“We’re thrilled to see Burlington Transit ridership growth ahead of the national average,” said Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, who tends not to take the bus to work. “Public transit is a key element in the preservation of our environment and this council is working hard to increase the level of active transportation in our community”, he added

By the end of June 2011, Burlington Transit reached the milestone of more than 2 million revenue passengers over the 12 months from July 2010 to June 2011 (2,015,452 passengers).

This represents the highest 12-month ridership in 15 years and a 68.6 per cent ridership increase since 1996. During the 15-year period, Burlington’s population grew by 28.3 per cent and Burlington  Transit  service hours increased by 33.5 per cent.

“The long-term growth is crucial,” said Donna Shepherd, Burlington’s director of transit.  She might have added that the increase in ridership assures what the human resources people refer to as “job retention”.  Sheppard ads: Going forward, the 10-year Transit Master Plan, currently underway, will continue to build a strong foundation for future growth.”

No mention of a price increase but the city budget has yet to be struck.

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Artists manage to convince the city to refund some of the licensing fees. Looking now for a by-law change.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 9, 2011  The Artists and the Bureaucrats met – and the Artists won the more important part of the battle.  With any luck the matter will get to city Council and a stupid rule will get re-written or set aside.

The Background.  Arts in Action, a collective of artists that hold a Studio Tour once a year that gives the public a chance to see what artists in the city have been doing and an opportunity as well to show and sell what they do.

Burlington stained glass artists Teresa Seaton, took her skills to city halland tried to get the bureaucrats to cut up the bill they had to pay for a license to sell their art. She thinks the Art in Action group might manage to get half the fee they paid back.

The city’s Building Department decided to require the artists to apply for a Transient Traders Licence  and charge them fees that amounted to more than $1000.   The artists gulped but felt they didn’t have a choice and ponied up the money. Artists, who don’t have a pay cheque never mind the fat pensions that city hall doles out – felt they had no choice.

Artists in Action (and they were certainly in action on this file) complained and after a suitable delay they got their meeting with the bureaucrats.  Teresa Seaton, co-chair of the Artists in Action, reports that the bureaucrats had decided before the meeting  that “because we were a not-for-profit organization we will have to submit a Transient Trader Licence application two weeks before the event but  we will be exempt from fees.  Now that the city has the Artists in Action “on file” they get goodies.

Seaton further reports: “As far as being reimbursed the fees paid for the 2011 Studio tour that have already been paid – it will be looked into”.  “We came away from the meeting with the impression that we will receive at least half of the $1000. + back.  The rest will apparently get kept by the city for “paper work costs”.   Someone has to pay for all that paper work and the artists learned that this time they get to pick up that tab.

Don Graves, Burlington artist, helped to get the city to look at the plight of a starving artist a little differently. He got half a loaf.

Seaton reports that she and “her wingman” Don Graves, who attended the meeting with her, chose not to argue that point We did go on to argue that we felt forced by the city to obtain these licences under threat of fines being levied against us.

“It was an interesting discussion with the supervisor at city hall. They are now more aware of the plight of us poor struggling artists trying to “Make a profit”.  It is our understanding that a Bylaw review will be done in the next couple years of which we will be advised. As well, they have us on file as an organization that will be consulted as the bylaws are amended.

Seaton adds that:  “We fought the cause for every artist with a showing studio in their own residence. According to the city, these artists would still have to pay this licensing fee since they are not known to have a not-for-profit status.

“Basically”, said Seaton  “we were left with the impression that what the city doesn’t know can’t hurt you. Although this is not the most advantageous solution it will do until the bylaw reviews proceeds. Seaton promises to argue the case of the poor starving artist more strenuously then. She might push for a full refund of the fees they paid for 2011 as well.

The Artists in Action now feel they won’t have to increase their membership fees and are now going forward with their end of December call for the 2012 show.



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Handgun thefts and home break ins have Regional police busy.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2011 It was just after 1:00 am when three masked men burst through the front door of a Faversham Avenue home and stormed the bed room of one of  the residents demanding money and drugs.  The resident said there were no dugs in the house and the thieves left.  There were three other residents in the home at the time.

The suspects are described as follows:

White, 5’4” – 5’5,” 120 lbs, wearing all black clothing and white running shoes.

White, 6’4,” thin build, dressed in black.

Black, 6’3” – 6”4,” 150 – 160 lbs

The police would like to find these three. Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

Firearms theft has police worried:

Dangerous weapons stolen from Burlington home. Ammunition was left behind.

The Halton Regional Police Service is investigating the theft of several firearms after thieve(s) broke into a home in the area of Sherwood Forest Park, Burlington.  The break-in occurred on December 5th between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The front door had been forced open. The suspects stole five firearms, all of which were properly licensed and stored by the owner.

Missing are:

• Beretta, 92FS – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• Beretta, 90 TWO – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• SIG Sauer, SP2022 – 40 Calibre, semi-automatic handgun

• CZ75 – 9 mm semi-automatic handgun

• Bushmaster, XM15E2S, .223 Remington Shot – semi-automatic rifle

Ammunition for the weapons wasn’t taken.  The weapons were in the premises under a licence and are reported to have been properly stored.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting ‘TIP201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).


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A chance to take in the Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet Opening on Cogeco cable.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2011  If you missed the Opening Gala of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre last Saturday – and if your allowance was on the small side, the $400. ticket was beyond you – there is still a chance for you to see the swishy folks tippling fine wine and schmoozing like crazy.

Cogeco Cable was all over the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet opening. They will rebroadcast for those who missed the live event.

It was a wonderful evening – the Family Room had a blue glow and there was the buzz of a crowd that is having fun and enjoying themselves.

Cogeco Cable television has five cameras on site and a staff of 14 manning the equipment with their mobile parked outside the building to take the event live.

If you want to watch the event – here are the re-broadcast dates:

December 18, 5:30pm

December 25, 5:30pm

December 27, 10pm

December 29, 8:30pm

Worth taking in – the folks at the Centre really know how to put on a show.  All they need to do now is to develop the audience; they certainly got off to a good start.  And with several SOLD OUT shows in the schedule all the ingredients seem to be in place for a successful operation.  Take that Hamilton!

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Santa’s helpers – and we’re not talking about a bunch of little elves; big guys who know how to give back.


The Ho Ho man himself - didn't let the consistent drizzle lighten even one of his laughs.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 6, 2011  Santa Claus has been coming to town for more than 45 years as part of the annual Burlington Christmas Parade.

The event is the result of the efforts of a community based committee that liaises with the city but is not a city committee.  These guys don’t get as much as a dime from the city.

Message carriers for a gymnastics group - they loved their wigs - so did the crowd.

The city’s Festivals and Events office has two of their people who sit in the seven member committee as liaison but that’s it.

The parade that has more than 65 floats is run by a team of seven people.  They are: Gunther Kaschuba, who has been involved for the past nine years; Don Basingdale, Allan Hale; John Thomblinson; Louise LeBel; Rob Henderson and Robin Kimberley.

Henderson was one of the truck drivers and when the committee member who used to handle the getting of the trucks from different trucking companies around the city – Henderson got the tap on the shoulder and he now handles the trucking stuff.  King Paving has been providing trucks for the parade for a number of years.

Applause is always welcome - you just know this Dad is watching one of his kids or a club he volunteers with -pass by.

Cogeco Cable always does a show on the FYI to promote the parade and then they provide on the street camera coverage of the event.

Kaschuba, who comes across as a chair that is wide open with his committee members – each knows what they have to do – and they just do their jobs, he said.

We get a big boost from Burlington Transit who let us use their transit barn to decorate the floats and get the displays up and in place.

The parade has that warm, fuzzy small town feel to it with people always turning out – even in the light drizzle we had this year.  Kaschubba did say that one of the bands dropped out a few days before the parade – the threat of heavy rain wasn’t something they wanted to deal with.

“We get people who do the same thing every year.  Don Warwick has been coming out for as long as I can remember in that suit of armour” said Kaschuba.  The kids love it.  This year there was a little girl in pink sitting on the curb, totally transfixed by the man in a suit of armour striding down the street.

Hoofing it!

Patiently waiting.

The parade operated on a budget of between $12 and $15 thousand with funds coming in from sponsorships, parade entry fees.  “We have two fee levels; one for community groups and another for the commercial community” explained Kaschuba.

And he added, the project is a Rotary Club initiative as well with all four Burlington Rotary Clubs taking part.

But the parade committee has to pay for the garbage pickup after the parade and the setting up and taking down of the traffic barricades.  The Burlington Teen Tour Band participation doesn’t cost the parade group anything.  “We were particularly grateful for their participation this year – those people went home just a little on the damp side this.

The Santa sleigh is rented from people in Hamilton.

If you’ve a hanker to help or think your organization could sponsor a float or your group take part in the parade – make a note that applications have to be in before early November and space is made available on a first come, first served basis.

For an application package and further details, visit Go to the Events and Promotions section, Major Events and click on the Christmas Parade. The cost to enter the parade is $35 for not-for-profit organizations and $100 for businesses.

Bruce Marsh of the Burlington Old Timers Hockey Club manages those guys who walk along the edge of the parade with old socks attached to the ends of hockey sticks asking for loonies or twoonies to help defray the cost of the parade.

Community service at its very best.

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A quick quiz and a $1 off coupon for a burger purchase; part of the Halton police high school RIDE program.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 7, 2011 – Nelson High School students got a chance to learn just what happens when there is more alcohol in your system than the legal limit and a police officer asks you to walk a straight line.

Part of the training session included a quick quiz that was set out in a different news story that you can find at:

Two Nelson high school students do their best to stay on the green line wearing Fatal Vision goggles during a Halton Regional Police RIDE program.

Here are the answers to the ten questions the students were asked:

Question 1      False

Question 2      False

Question 3      True

Question 4      False

Question 5      False

Question 6      False – A G1 has to have a qualified driver with them – and being drunk means you’re not qualified – bit tricky that one.

Question 7      False

Question 8      False

Question 9      False – the licence is suspended for a period of 90 days

Question 10    True – but if you’re drinking and driving and the police have the evidence – there isn’t a lot your lawyer can do for you.

The students will have had problems with some of those questions – the media officer we went to for the answers had to look up the answer on more than one occasion.

Male students at Nelson High had just as much difficulty as female students trying to stay on the green line while wearing Fatal Vision goggles.

They also got a very up close experience with a breathalyzer and came away with a firm understanding of what the police do if they pull you over and ask you to blow.  And in the quick quiz the students did later in the training session they got to learn what they knew and didn’t know about the rules in place to control driving if you’ve been drinking.

It was a bit of fun and they got to laugh at their friends while they tried to walk the green line set out on the gymnasium floor.  None of them could stay on the line and most were nowhere near the line.

The day was part of the Regional Police RIDE program that had police officers at several regional high schools as well as being out on the streets with their cruisers pulling drivers over to politely ask if the driver had been drinking.  If there was any concern on the part of the police officer – the driver would be asked to breathe into a breathalyzer and perhaps try to walk a straight line.  Failure to do either of the requests and they are placed in a cruiser and taken to a police station.

The vast majority of people have not been drinking, although this year on the first day of the program in Burlington, three people were charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

For those that are clear the police hand out a small card, created by grade four and five students in regional schools.  The card does drive the message home.

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City opens kimono – wasn’t much to see. Did we misunderstand the objective? Thought we were going to get a peek.

We have ream upon ream of data that sits on computer hard drives or servers - Burlington wants to let the public at some of it - instead of it all going down some kind of a tunnel to information never, never land.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  – December 7, 2011 – The City of Burlington has launched an open data pilot project as part of its developing e-Government strategy, making interacting with the city online easier and more convenient for residents and businesses in Burlington.  Huh!  How does a list of all the parks in the city – there are 127 of them with a notation as to whether there is parking and washroom facilities, get defined as Open Data or e-government?

During public consultations on the city’s e-Government strategy, survey respondents and focus group participants called for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats.

I think people wanted to know:  How much public money the council members spend on entertainment.  How much the city has spent on legal fees for The Pier. Which wards have the most roads that are badly in need of repair.  Why it has taken so long to complete the cut over from one telephone system to another – city bought a new telephone system.  Why do some development applications slide through in literally minutes while others get tangled up for months on end with the public never being fully aware of just what is going on.

I could go on for some length.

“This project is a great example of how participation and input from the public can improve the way the city delivers information,” said Mayor Rick Goldring.  “I believe the open data pilot project can inspire and create new opportunities for enhanced service delivery. It also demonstrates the city’s commitment to corporate transparency and accountability.”

This is really creative “happy talk” – almost as bad as the beads and whisky we used to give the Indians.

The city’s open data pilot project gives the public online access to raw, machine-readable information so interested users can reuse the data for research and analysis or combine with other available municipal data to develop web-based applications for public use.

There is some truth to that – but what the Information Technology in Burlington have done is really very timid stuff.

e-government is the latest buzz word being used by municpal administrators. Will it help ypou with the information you need? Don't bet on it - this is all very experimental.

The pilot project will make datasets available for the city’s parks and recreation facilities. This will include information such as park location, number and type of on-site facilities, services and amenities offered as well as recreation and leisure attributes like trails, sports fields and courts.

“Making raw data available for public usage and new application development is just one of the ways we are embracing information technology to evolve our customer service practices,” said Christine Swenor, director of IT services. “We are optimistic that the information we make available will be used to create web applications that can benefit residents of Burlington and beyond.”

We will believe this when we see it – we’d love to see it.

The open data portal is available at The pilot phase will take place over a six-month period, during which time the city will explore further opportunities to provide users with additional datasets.

We are a little underwhelmed with this first wave of data sets – but let’s give them some time and see what they do – but if this is the level of “open data” Burlington will get passed by everyone else on the information highway.

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High school students get to see what happens when driving while under the influence of alcohol. Wasn’t pretty.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  December 7, 2011  – Nelson High School students – all 1500 of them were in the hands of the Halton Regional Police for a good part of Tuesday morning.  They were being taken through some “experiential training” on what happens to a person when their drinking has gone over the legal limit.

The experience was a bit of a shock to many of them.

This is the one thing you do not want to see should you be pulled over by the police. The smile on Cst. Mike Korda is nice enough - but that little grey box is not good news. If you don't drink and drive Korda will be your buddy.

Halton Regional Police have been attending at Halton high schools and showing students what breathing into the breathalyzer was all about; what happens to their bodies when they have consumed alcohol and are asked by a police officer to step out of the car and attempt to walk in a straight line and then to write a short quiz on what the rules are when it comes to drinking and driving.

Many of the parents of these students can remember a day when it was very common to say to a guest at a house party to “have one for the road” which meant you threw back a drink, thumped your chest and got behind the wheel.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought a very painful and realistic look to what happens when people drink and drive and as a result of their efforts we see programs like the one at Nelson High School.

HRPS Cst. Mark Vegso holds the "Fatal Vision" goggles students at Nelson High experimented with earlier this week. It was a strong lesson.

Each year the Halton Regional Police roll out their RIDE program – this year HRPS arrested three people for drunk driving on the first day of the program.  Seems like we have some distance to go yet before we rid ourselves of this menace.

The police take their rotating RIDE crews around the Region and stop traffic, ask drivers if they have been drinking, and if they suspect any use of alcohol they invite the driver to breathe into the little grey box and see if they can walk a straight line.

If the driver can’t – their car is impounded and they get taken to the police station.

Cst. Mark Vegso is one of the Regional police officers who is assigned to a high school, in his case it is a school in Oakville, where he handles small discipline situations, trespass problems and is in the school regularly to keep an eye on things and to also serve as a contact for students who want to talk to a police officer but don’t want to go to a police station.  Cst. Vegso also teach some law classes in the school.

Failure to provide a breath sample is also a criminal offence.  The police officers doing the training make the experience very, very realistic – there is little doubt in the mind of the student just what they are being asked to do and why.  Many of the students must have walked away from the breathalyzer table shuddering with the thought if they are ever asked to blow into the little grey box – they are in serious trouble.  The objective is that hopefully they will look for a lift before getting behind a wheel if they’ve been drinking.

The goggles used to experience what it is like to be asked to walk a straight line with alcohol in your body.  The goggles, which are made in Mexico and referred to as “Fatal Vision” goggles cost $1000. each.  But they do the job.

Staying on that green light with goggles that simulated an alcohol level over 70 was not quite as easy as this young lady thought it was going to be.

The students found that they could not walk a straight line – more frightening to all of them was that they couldn’t really see the line – it was just a blur and kept moving out of their field of vision.  The goggles used to simulate a situation where the user was slightly under the legal limit resulted in a scary experience.  The goggles used to simulate situations where the user was well over the limit – like 2.0 and up – made it very clear that driving with that much alcohol in you would result in your death or that of someone else you ran into.  And there was no doubt – you could not operate a car effectively or safely with that much alcohol in your system.  It was a pretty blunt message.

One wonders what these students said to each other as they gathered in the cafeteria for lunch with their lap tops open in front of them.  The Regional police  wondered and at the end of the training sessions – they left hoping they’d done the job.

Part of the training session included a quick quiz on drinking and driving.  Test results and more on the RIDE program are at:


1: The legal limit of alcohol to be present in your blood while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is 100.  T/F

2: The legal limit for a G1 or G2 driver is 50.  T/F

3: A person can be charged with impaired driving after smoking marijuana.  T/F

4: It is acceptable for open alcohol to be inside your car. T/F

5: It is not a criminal offence to be intoxicated in the driver’s seat.. T/F

Friends look on a Nelson High student tries to keep his feet on the green line while using "driving under the influence of alcohol testing goggles".

6: G drivers who are accompanying G! drivers can be intoxicated while in the passenger seat. T/F

7: A person charged with Over 80 must always be charged with Impaired Driving. T/F

8: A person can refuse to provide a legally demanded breath sample and not be charged for refusing to provide a breath sample. T/F

Nelson High students write the ten question quick quiz. How would you have done with the test? Try it.

9: Upon being charged with Refusal or Over 80, a person’s driver’s licence shall be suspended for a period of 30 days. T/F

10: A police officer shall read you your rights to counsel upon arrest for Over 80. T/F


Being charged with any kind of a drinking related offence and found guilty will impact your driver’s licence – which is nothing compared to what it is going to do to your insurance rate.  While you may be allowed eventually to drive again – you may not be able to afford to – and if the car you were driving belonged to your  parents – they are not going to be very sympathetic.

Drinking is not a crime – just do so responsibly.


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Police record third traffic fatality in the Region for 2011

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  Burlington recorded its third traffic fatality for 2011 when Henry John Grasso of Brantford, Ontario was pronounced dead at the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital after being taken their by Emergency Measures Services after being struck by an automobile at the intersection of Appleby Line at Harrison Court, just north of Dundas Street.

An initial investigation has revealed that the pedestrian, a 51 year old Brantford man, was walking eastbound in the north crosswalk when he was struck by a northbound Nissan Maxima.  The operator of the Nissan, a 25yr old Burlington man and his passenger, a 22 year old Oakville woman were not injured.  The woman however was treated at the scene for shock by paramedics.

Due to this being a fatality, members of the Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) were called in to take carriage of the investigation.  The intersection was closed for over 5 hours while Reconstructionists collected evidence and measured the scene.

This is the 15th traffic fatality to occur on roadways patrolled by Halton Regional Police for 2011, and the 3rd to occur in the City of Burlington.

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New city manager takes a pay cut to come to Burlington where he can ride his bike to work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  Burlington’s new city manager, he gets the keys to his office January 30th, leaves London, Ontario with a sigh of relief and delighted, we think, to be out of a job that was a mess and looking to get messier due to being led by a city Council that had what my Mom called “eyes bigger than my belly”.

Jeff Fielding is coming to Burlington as the City Manager leaving London, a city that is more than twice Burlington’s size.

Fielding’s career has taken him through an ever-increasing responsibilities in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Kitchener and then London.  Fielding will move from managing a budget here that reached $718 million to one in Burlington barely one-quarter that size.

Jeff Fielding, coming to Burlington as the new city manager, will get to know his staff and develop close working rlationships with a team he will want to refurbish a bit. Expect to meet a very relaxed man - delighted to be in Burlington and away from a city council that had difficulties with big investments on a tax rate the Mayor in London, ON didn't want to see rise.

Fielding is quoted as saying:  “I’ve got a family and they need my time and that’s one of the great things about being in a mid-sized (city).” Fielding leaves a post that paid him $264,000 in salary and taxable benefits last year, for one that last year paid $217,000.

In 2004 Fielding became London’s fifth city manager in two years, taking over a city hall in turmoil, some of its top managers at each others’ throats and a culture of distrust between politicians and bureaucrats.  The fiscal task here was mammoth: Council had spent the city deeply into debt and discipline was needed to right the ship.  Fielding helped restore a sense of calm and purpose with a low-key, direct style and a preference for compromise over confrontation.

While there were sometimes rumblings behind doors about a tense relationship between Fielding and his top lieutenant, former finance chief Vic Cote, the two put aside differences in council to set politicians down a path of spending restraint.

Cote retired last year and now Fielding will soon be gone, leaving London council without the steady hands of the past as politicians struggle to achieve the goals and visions of Mayor Joe Fontana, who has promised tax freezes and called for massive investment in projects downtown and along the Hwy. 401.

With that kind of experience under his belt Fielding should have no trouble at all whipping Burlington’s finances into shape real fast and coming up with a way to resolve the 68% that we are short on our infrastructure budget.

Former city manager Tim Dobbie may not have much time to put his feet up as he replaces the London city manager who resigned in London to work for Burlington. These guys play musical chairs.

Tim Dobbie, who was city manager in Burlington for a period of time under Mayor MacIsaac, has been hired by London to manage things over there until they have a replacement hired.  Dobbie left Burlington for health reasons –

London councillor Joni Baechler described Fielding as ”a fine, dedicated and humble individual that led us to really get our financial house in order. I am concerned that without that steady hand a lot of things can be potentially at risk.”

“It’s tough to be a top manager when council’s expectation is that you’ll be a superman. There are some goals that are irreconcilable, so there had to be a sense of frustration that comes with that task,” Baechler said.

It looks as if Fielding is leaving pastures that had a lot of muck in them and coming to Burlington, where there will be a lot less grief in his day to day life.  He has been to Burlington on a few occasions and ridden around town on his bike.  One council member is very keen on the man and thinks Fielding is exactly what the city needs and described him as a man who understands and has a commitment to customer service.

That will be nice.

Burlington has some problems within the upper reaches of it staffing hierarchy that Fielding will want to resolve quickly – once he’s got his team tightened up and in place – it could be five years of pretty smooth sailing for the man.  Ideally an opportunity for Burlington to re-orient itself from a city that has in the recent past relied heavily on development charges for revenue to one that prepares for a twenty year stretch of caring for an older population and at the same time moving the city further up the economic food chain and attracting companies to the city that are more into the hi-tech field.  That should be a cinch for this guy – but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.



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Santa didn’t need snow to do his thing; he didn’t want the rain, but that didn’t dampen spirits.


The Sea Cadets know all about water and they dealt with the light drizzle the way everyone else did - they just put up with it and continued to march smartly.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2011  –  It was a drizzly day but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from lining Guelph Line and New Street as the Santa Clause parade worked its way through the city with wide eyed little boys and girls taking in all the sights.  And sights there were.

It's a Christmas message that often gets forgotten as we hustle and bustle through the malls. "and he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

The only thing that wasn’t there was a camel with three wise men walking behind the thing.

Hearing Jingle Bell then Silent night on steel drums - was a pure delight.

All the usual suspects – The Lions, the Rotary, Crime Stoppers, Regional Police and representation from half a dozen religious groups and bands from the high schools as well.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band, a little soggy and bedraggled by the end of the parade were placed just in front of the Big Guy with the red suit who brought it all to a close.

While it was "cap in hand" the Mayor was out there with a hockey stick and a sock raising funds. Thought to be the only member of Council in the parade.

The Mayor was spotted walking along with a hockey stick that had a sock attached to the end of it – a fund raiser.

The Burlington Gymnastic Club put their talent out on the street and did things with their bodies that made many parents look on in amazement as they watched what these well trained young girls could do.

Residents lined the streets to watch the floats pass by and use the time to chat with their neighbours.

And, typical of Burlington, parents and neighbours gathered in small groups at the end of those streets that accessed New Street and sipped coffee and held their umbrellas in place.  One street had a small BBQ set up with a propane tank in place.

Clogging up the Woodward and Guelph Line intersection - this band was just great.

The Mayor seemed to be the only politician taking part – but we didn’t catch every float – so perhaps they were at the front of the line.

A little worse for the drizzling rain, the Burlington Teen Tour Band colour party kept the flags flying as they escorted Santa and his sleigh through the streets of the city

That suit of armour has the little girl in pink to the left absolutely amazed

Robinson High School band - beat a nice military sound and certainly enjoyed themselves.

The Bayhawks Soccer Club played a bit of a pick up game as they worked their way down Guelph Line.





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Burlington Performing Arts Centre does it up right with a Gala to be remembered.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2010  Whew! – That’s the sound from the staff at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre as they recover from a hectic week that saw Gordie Tapp take to the stage and the Prime Minister of Canada meet with the Burlington Teen Tour Band. Then have his picture taken with more than 50 dignitaries and on Saturday evening, pull off a Gala event with international class entertainment on the Main Theatre stage.  The Family Room turned into an enchanting place wrapped in a blue glow that saw not only Sarah McLaughlin rule the stage, but a pair of acrobats come out of nowhere to delight the close to 700 people in the place.  The really neat Jazz Quartet sounded great but most of the audience didn’t seem to take to them all that well.

It was the last of the “soft opening” schedule the Centre put on to get the $40 million place opened up, operational and running smoothly.

Cogeco Cable treated the event as a major community special and had their two lead Burlington reporters on hand for the event. Deb Tymstra and Mark Carr did basically end to end coverage. Here Mayor Goldring waits to go "on camera".

Cogeco Cable made it a big event with five camera crews, 14 people and the mobile at the back of the building broadcasting the whole event live.

This was an event that was perhaps as big an event as the Centre will see in the next 12 to 18 months.  Sarah McLaughlin cost close to a King’s ransom and the two acts that were put on during the lead up time in the Family Room were not cheap but it did show that the people who run the Centre know how to do it right.  The Prime Minister in his remarks on the Friday talked of culture and the arts being a vital part of every growing community and something the federal government supports with funding programs.

Burlington has opened a new centre while Toronto is looking for a way to get rid of several city owned entertainment venues that are seen there as an expense rather than a revenue generator for the city.

Few restaurants in the city have yet to take up the idea of putting together packages that allow guests to get in for dinner and still make it to a performance and then serve as a spot where people gather after an event.  One restaurant, literally across the street from the Centre, didn’t appear to even be open on Saturday.

The net worth of the people in the Centre Saturday was more than it cost to build the place and they were certainly making the best of the opportunity to meet and greet one another.  Our Mayor was out there meeting new people, chatting up those he already knew.  City Council was not out in full force.  Marianne Meed Ward was there as was Rick Craven of Ward 2 accompanying his daughter who looked absolutely lovely.

BPAC executive Director Brenda Heatherington would make the cover of Vogue magazine with this dress. This was her night which she celebrated with 700 of the most important people in town.

Executive Director Brenda Heatherington was divine in a full length emerald green gown with her hair swept up giving her a Vogue magazine look many would envy.

The Family Room at the BPAC had a bit of a Winter Wonderlude look to it as 700 people congregated to socialize and get caught up with friends before watching Sarah McLaughlin take to the stage.

Burlington is one of a number of cities that have built cultural venues in their downtown cores and now need to find the right formula to operate the buildings with a subsidy their city coffers can afford.  Hamilton has lost millions on their HECFI operation which recently went through a brutal management shakeup.  Burlington expects a much better experience than Hamilton has had and most believe the city has the right staff team in place to make it all come together financially and at the same time put on events that work for the people who live here.

The Christmas Nut Cracker Suite is sold out – they probably could have added an additional performance.  The Vinyl Café (that CBC program that takes to the road with Stuart Maclean telling the ups and down of Dave, his wife Morley, their two children, Sam and Stephanie and assorted friends and neighbours) – added a performance to the schedule and is still sold out.

Small cultural groups in the city rent the space and they are finding that the appetite for their offerings is strong.  Jacob Moon, who has a big following, is back for a second performance in the Community Studio Theatre.

While Toronto and its Mayor create a task force to look into a fire sale of three city-owned theatres, officials in at least six municipalities in the province have opened or will soon open theatres they hope will improve the economic prospects of their downtown’s and provide a cultural rejuvenation as well.

Brampton, Richmond Hill, Barrie, Cambridge and St. Catharine’s have either approved new projects or are, like Burlington, now in full operational mode.

This flow of public money created jobs and, as the Globe and Mail put it, provided comfortable seats for the comfortable classes.  The $400 price tag for the Burlington Gala certainly proved that statement.

Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring says studies indicated local and regional economies would see significant economic spin-off,  with the expected money spent on transportation, dining, drinking, accommodation, shopping and nearby attractions. Locating the theatre downtown and within walking distance of other businesses was always central to the plan, he says.

While the dollars and cents part of the Centre is critical what so far seems to be working for Burlington is a certain buzz about the place. As Goldring said to a reporter: “We are competing with the whole of the GTA as a place to live, work and locate businesses. It’s been proven that businesses are attracted to communities where people want to live. Culture, health care and education are the three most important factors for people deciding where to live”.

Deb Tymstra, entertainment and arts reporter for Cogeco Cable looks out over the Family Room with Allan Pearson, Chair of the BPAC Board. It was an especially big night for Tymstra who was involved with the development of the Centre since its very beginning.

In the past 18 months Burlington has added the McMaster DeGroote School of Business and now the Performing Arts Centre to the horizon.  Serious thinking is about to be given to finding some way to build prime office space above the parking lots on lower Brant and John Streets.

Gary McCluskie, a principal at Toronto’s Diamond and Schmitt Architects designed the theatres in Burlington, Cambridge and St. Catharines, and had a hand in Toronto’s own Four Seasons opera house, says each of the new halls strives to both add to and draw from street life on the sidewalk by featuring expansive windows that try to bring large lobbies out onto the sidewalk, and vice versa. “The arts are about building and binding communities, so we made the buildings engaging and inviting,” said  McCluskie in a news report.

By using windows instead of walls, McCluskie hopes to open up events that have had a reputation for exclusivity since Europe’s grand opera houses went up, brick by brick. “We have highlighted the sense of occasion, and used it as a draw,” says McCluskie.

The firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects, has done a lot of work in Burlington.  They were heavily involved in the development of the Spencer Smith Park and have put together many of the ideas for the development of rejuvenation of the Beachway Park that is now back in the limelight.

Burlington’s  performing arts centre staff hope they can create the kind of business that Richmond Hill is experiencing where Michael Grit has been theatre manager at that city’s Centre for the Performing Arts since it opened on Yonge Street in 2009. Grit says: “Our schedule is insane. I turn away more business than I book. We have only twelve dark days for the first six months of 2012. I’m already booking dates in 2016.”

BPAC staff must surely like words like that.



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Prime Minister visits Burlington; goes big time with photo-ops. Everyone gets their picture taken.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 3, 2011  –  History was made in Burlington Friday afternoon.  For the first time ever, since Confederation, if MP Mike Wallace is to be believed, a Prime Minister of Canada visited Burlington.  And what do you think he did?  He met with the Burlington Teen Tour Band for quite a while and then stood before the sterling citizens of the city and lied to them, not once, but twice.  Then had his picture taken with anyone who could stand.

Then he had his picture taken with anyone who chose to stand beside him and smile.  It was a scene that had the security people wanting to pull out their hair.

Getting the Prime Minister to Burlington is probably the biggest thing MP Mike Wallace has done for the city. Wallace on the left with Mayor Goldring on the right - all wearing their best smiles.

Everyone was crowded around the PM with five at my count, young RCMP officers with their suit jackets slightly open revealing the Glock revolvers on their hips and the identification badges in the belts, just like on television.  They formed a totally porous barrier around the Prime Minister while the man in charge of security for the visit prowled the gallery around the Community Studio Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  While few people knew it, there were not less than ten very powerful guns on the hips of people in that room.  Security for people like Prime Minister Harper is very serious business and for a short period of time Friday afternoon it was just a little on the shabby side.

The big money donours to the Performing Arts Centre had front row seats reserved for them.

The national news media had their cameras arrayed at the back of the room where reporters from CTV, CBC, the Sun News organization and the Globe and Mail asked their questions.  This was big time stuff.

This was BIG TIME stuff for Burlington - national media were on hand to record the event.

The first question came from a CTV reporter who wanted to know what the Prime Minster had to say about the helicopter flight defence minister Peter Mackay arranged for himself to get back to work from a vacation trip he was on at a remote fishing set up on the Gander River in Newfoundland.  “He was on legitimate government business” replied the Prime Minister.  Wait a minute, I thought – that’s not true.

Prime Minister counts the votes as he poses with Burlington residents during his visit to the city to formally open the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Little white lie there Mr. Prime Minister?  These things happen – but once wasn’t enough.  The last reporter to ask a question was from CBC and she started by saying she wanted to go back to the McKay use of that helicopter – she got basically the same answer.  There is however email out there from armed forces Colonels indicating that the helicopter ride the Minister of Defence got wasn’t really taking care of business.  The public isn’t stupid – so when the Prime Minister tells a little white lie twice – they get the picture, these guys are not to be trusted.  But, what the heck, he’s a celebrity so you get your picture taken with the guy.

I thought the Prime Minister stood for all that was great in us.  Did I miss something?

Ward 5 Councillor has his picture taken with the Prime Minister. Will it show up on his campaign literature in the next election. Sharman's literature - not the PM's.

City General Manager Kim Phillips cozied up to the PM, smiled her best smile and click, click – picture taken.  Chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee Nick Leblovik was made “whole and complete” when he had his picture taken with the PM.  Nick is a lifelong Tory and for the Tories having your picture taken with the PM is on a par (no pun intended) with dying and going to heaven.  It’s no different with the Liberals – you can remember the way people fawned over Pierre Trudeau when he was alive.  We treat these people as if they are celebrities instead of seeing them as stewards who have taken on the responsibility of running public affairs.

It is the way we the public handle the politicians that gets us all in trouble – bit I digress.  The Prime Minister was in town and that was history for Burlington.  He arrived earlier in the day to take a tour of the EcoSynthetix plant on Mainway.  This is a company that chose to move its head office operations from Michigan to Burlington where they now have their research and product development offices and have production facilities in Holland.

EcoSynthetix Inc., a renewable chemicals company that produces a family of commercially proven bio-based products, commissioned a new 80 million pound production line within their existing facility in Oosterhout, The Netherlands, bringing the Company’s current annualized capacity to 155 million pounds. It is the first of two new 80 million pound lines that the Company expects to bring on line by the end of the year. The new Oosterhout line was completed on time and on budget.

Prime Minister listens intently to a guest at the "official" opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre while security hovers.

“Having additional capacity in our Netherlands facility puts us in a stronger position as we build our customer base globally,” said John van Leeuwen, Chairman and CEO of EcoSynthetix. “The strength of our mill trial activity gives us the confidence to continue to build capacity to ensure that we have the capability to meet customer needs. With performance parity relative to competitive products, a significant price advantage and an extremely cost-pressured end market, we believe it is a matter of “when” rather than “if” large-scale adoption of our ECOSPHERE® BIOLATEX® binder takes place within the coated paper and paperboard market.”

Hospital CEO Eric Vandewall gets into the picture and gets snapped with the PM. He was one of more than 50 people who did Burlington's equivalent to a Red Carpet.

The new line employs the latest state-of-the-art emulsifier technology, providing EcoSynthetix with higher throughput and improved margins relative to its original two lines. The Company’s fourth line is expected to be installed later this year in Tennessee, bringing the total annualized production capacity to 235 million pounds.

The installation of the Oosterhout line follows on the heels of EcoSynthetix commissioning its BIOLATEX® binder pilot plant located at the Company’s Centre of Innovation in Burlington, Ontario. The pilot plant is being used for research and development purposes to support new product development. It supports the Company’s plans to further penetrate the paper and paperboard industry and expand into new markets, as it continues to displace petrochemical polymers with a low cost, bio-based alternative.

This is the type of industry Burlington has been itching to get for some time and their being able to attract the Prime Minister to their plant puts them in a different league than any other company on Mainway.


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We have a new city manager who seems to have a sense of humour and pretty attractive toe nails.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 3, 2011   They did it surprisingly quickly.  Your city Council with the help of an outside human resources consultant, the city of Burlington hired Jeff Fielding, the current City Manager of London, as the new City Manager of the City of Burlington.  Mr. Fielding will assume his new responsibilities on Jan. 30, 2012.

Right: Burlington's new city manager, Jeff Fielding, comes to us from London, Ontario

In the baffle gab that Mayors feel they have to write, Mayor Goldring said: “This is an important leadership role within the municipality and we are delighted to have attracted broad interest from top candidates across the country.  Jeff was selected for his deep municipal sector experience, his vision for delivering public value in the provision of municipal services and for his proven leadership in citizen-based processes and we look forward to him leading our organization.”

These are indeed all the things the Mayor and his Council wanted in a city manager and hopefully that is what we have hired.

Fielding has been the City Manager of the City of London for the past eight years.   Prior to going to London, he was the CAO of the City of Kitchener, where he was born and raised.  He has also served as an acting executive officer with the City of Calgary, where he was responsible for Protective Services, Community and Social Services, and Parks and Recreation.

Fielding is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, where he obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in urban geography and urban planning.  He began his work in municipal government in 1978.  He worked briefly in Ontario, and following his graduation, he then moved to Alberta to begin a career in regional and city planning.  Along the way he has worked in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary and Kitchener where he has held a variety of managerial and corporate positions.

Fielding certainly got around; says he “look forward to working with my new colleagues to deliver on the priorities and achieving the vision that the mayor and council have set for Burlington,”   Pretty much what you’d expect him to say.

Jeff Fielding, coming to Burlington as the city's new city manager appears to have a pretty good sense of humour. Getting his toe nails done at what looks like a fund raising event. At least we hope that's what it is.

The city had about a dozen significant applications and narrowed it down to three people, one of whom was current general manager community services, Scott Stewart. Mayor Goldring and all six members of council participated in the search process with support from Organization Consulting Limited.

In the municipal world they seem to take in each others laundry.  London, Ontario Mayor Joe Fontana, in announcing the resignation of Jeff Fielding and bidding him well on his move to Burlington added that Tim Dobbie will take over the job of city manager on an interim basis pending recruitment of a permanent City Manager. Dobbie was city manager during the MacIsaac administration and left the city for personal health reasons.   He has in the past worked for London on their ongoing review of their organizational structure.

Dobbie’s recruiting organization had bid on the contract to oversee Burlington’s search and hire for a new city manager.



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They had a ball – it was noisy, it was serene, the Mayor was TERRIBLE but it was a fun night.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 2, 2011 – It was an interesting evening.

Here is what we know.

The Mayor cannot play the piano but Rob Preuss plays the piano very, very well.

We know that Iranians wear red socks.

We know that while Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament, can dance better than most people expected, but he can’t sing.

We know that Gordie Tapp has still got it.

We know that the Spoons can still do it.

We know that the Silverstein’s, a band that has a sound that isn’t to my particular taste (that’s my age showing) but man do they ever have energy.

Sandy Horne seemed to own the stage as she prowled around with her guitar and signature hat - the Spoons were back in town doing what they started out doing in 1979. Great stuff!

Where did all this knowledge come from?  It was the second to last show of the several month long opening of the brand spanking new Burlington Performing Arts Centre – and the community has certainly taken to the place.

It was “home town” hokey night with several exceptional pieces, as well as a couple that we can forget about.  Robert Stephen, performist with the National Ballet, did a short but touching dance piece that he choreographed himself, accompanied by a woman playing the violin that was close to divine – that would apply to the woman and the violin.

Jian Ghomeshi, CBC  personality and host of Q got convinced to MC the event when he saw the line up and he did his best to let Burlingtonians know that Farsi is the language Persians use and that there are some very nice Persians who come from Iran.  Burlington didn’t care – we are still working our way into diversity – we were just happy to see him up there introducing act after act of our own people.

The male lead in “Billie Elliott”, Miles Erlick, was on the stage with a young local dancer Addison Holley  – he can certainly dance.

And right in there with anything that happens in Burlington was the BTTB – the Burlington Teen Tour Band. They marched through the place as if they owned it – and perhaps they do.

Remember that smile - Gordie Tapp was on the stage in the town he has called home since 1952. He was at his best.

But it was when the man who got a standing ovation from the audience, just by looking at them, came on the stage that the evening took on a different tone and feel.  Everyone knew they were watching one of the great Canadian entertainers.  Gordie Tapp is right up there with Wayne and Shuster

Tapp, who is a consummate pro, still doing the show business circuit, was clearly the star of the evening in, as he informed us, his 90th year.  What I think most people didn’t know was that the hat he wore for years on his television program Hee Haw, was given to him by the late Jimmy Durante – and if you don’t know who he was – well you missed out on another great one.

Tapp told jokes that only he could get away with and the audience lapped up every second of it.

The evening started with that riveting cardinal red stage curtain opening – this was big time – then out popped – to our surprise – the Mayor and the MP.  Not another political speech about how great Burlington was and what a great building we had – please.  Nope – not this time.  These two clowns had gone into show business and they were there to perform for us – and, well let’s just say they are not going to give up their day jobs.

Rick Goldring, our Mayor had taken piano lessons, and in the second half, very innocently asked if he could play something for us – and decent people that we are – we said – sure.  JQ summed it up as well as it could be summed up – it was TERRIBLE.  Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament didn’t help with his rendition of Gene Kelly doing that classic piece “Singing in the Rain”  It should have rained on that parade, but it was all in family fun – for that’s kind of what it worked out to be.  A community, that got together as a family  recognizing and celebrating its own, in a building that Gordie Tapp said he first heard about when he came to Burlington in 1952.

There were a number of people who just couldn’t make it to the event – so we used technology to pipe them in through an overhead screen – and there they were – talking to us.  One musician who had grown up in Burlington and plied his trade in small bar after small bar said “we would have killed for a place like this”

The Silverstein's changed the perception of music and still ROCK for their solid fan base.

Two groups, the Spoons and Silverstein deserve special mention.  The Spoons were as good as they were 10 years ago.  Sandy Horne, the female lead, prowled around the stage in one of the most evocative performances I’ve seen.  Her movements were the equal of  Robert Stephen the ballet dancer.  And their music – well when they had everyone, including Ghomeshi, sitting on the piano bench, doing a sing along – you just knew they had taken everyone back to a time when the band was at its peak.

The Spoons, formed in Burlington in 1979 grew and went on to become one of those groups that shaped popular music in North America.  They were a delight to hear.

Silverstein – well they were different.  Man, did those guys ever have energy.  The backup guys on the guitars were close to violent with the way they poked at those strings and the lead male did great things with that microphone.

For both the Spoons and Silverstein, the emotions must have been something they savoured.  The Burlington they grew up in and struggled to get a foot hold in the music business is not the Burlington they performed in last night.  They must have wondered how the city got to the point where it actually had a Centre with a great stage and a sound system that still has a little work to be done on it – but one that was miles ahead of what they have had to work with.

For the performers it was a welcome home, for the audience it was also a welcome home – and for Gordie Tapp, who sang – it was good to be home.  And it was good!


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Downtown merchants prepare stores for holiday Season while OMB hears appeal on Brant Street height limits.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 1, 2011  –  The Downtown core begins to take on a bit of the Ho, Ho, Ho feeling with the decorations appearing in store windows. The Burlington Downtown Business Association holds an annual contest for the best decorated commercial establishment.  One of the winners this year racked up their fourth trophy.

Here are the winners.

Rahoons Persian Eatery at Village Square won Best Overall Award.

Rahoon Persian Eatery in the Village Square for the

Best Overall Display for 2011











Stefanie Humby hold the BDBA Award won by Davies Condo`s.


Best Display by a Service Provider

Davies Condos.








Glen, Chantal, Darby and Eric hold the BDBA Awards Coffee Culture has won since 2008 - winners four years in a row.

Winner of the Best Restaurant and Eatery

Coffee Culture at Elgin and Brant.









If that display doesn`t make you feel like Christmas - then head for Florida. Ooh! Beautiful things says it all.

Best Interior Display Award went to”

Ohh! Beautiful Things
















If you want someone to decorate your Christmas Tree - Centro Gardens are the people to talk to. They were Burlington Downtown Business Association winners for Best Window Display by a non-professional.


Best Window Display

done by a non-professional

Centro Garden.















Best window display done by a professional


If you look closely at the picture you will see Dan Bishop holding the BDBA Award Scriveners won for the Best Window Display



The award winners have done their part to bring a sense of the Season to the downtown core.  While they were doing that a developer was at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing challenging the height limits the city has for lower Brant Street and a part of the Old Lakeshore area – the property we once knew as the Pearl Street Café.  The developer has two appeals before the OMB.  The second is for a property at Brant and James.   Both are important cases from a planning aspect which we will follow.

What was noticeable was the several local establishments that could certainly afford to add to the look and feel of Brant Street who had done nothing.  The downtown core certainly has its problems attracting people into the area.  Middle of the day when the malls are so packed you can’t find a parking spot – but if you do find one – you’ll say its free.

Lots of parking downtown – and yes it costs a couple of dollars but you can usually fine one.

There is a solution to the problem the city has in creating a downtown core that has a sense of vitality to it.  Coffee Culture, which won its fourth Burlington Downtown Business Association Award – they’ve won in 2008 through to 2011 – quite a feat.  The place is frequently packed and always has someone in it.  What are they doing that other locations aren’t doing?

That question certainly perplexes a number of people and so far no one has come up with an answer – but don’t let that stop you from dropping into the shops on Brant Street. John Street, Elizabeth and Pearl.  Fine shops on each.



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