Enbridge Line 9 decision to be released in Calgary late Thursday afternoon. Pipeline runs through Burlington north of Sideroad #1

By Staff

March 6, 2014


The National Energy Board will release its decision in Calgary Thursday on Enbridge’s controversial plan to increase flows in Line 9 that runs between Sarnia and Montreal and across the top of Burlington, to  ship bitumen from the Alberta tar sands through the 39-year old pipeline.

The NEB decision is expected to respond to demands from the Ontario government and cities like Hamilton that the proposal be subjected to an independent engineering assessment and that Enbridge be forced to conduct hydrostatic testing.

The pipeline that Enbridge wants to use to ship bitumen to Montreal runs right through the top of the city.

Other issues raised in the hearings conducted last fall included Enbridge’s request for maximum operating pressures 50 percent greater than at any point in the last decade.  The company has admitted  that nearly a third of Line 9 leaks.   There is  widespread concern about the difficulties in cleaning up a spill of bitumen and the toxic diluents released when a rupture occurs.

Since the hearings concluded media investigations have revealed multiple spills that Enbridge failed to report to affected municipalities, and hundreds of Line 9 defects that have been found by the company since it filed its application. It’s unclear if these revelations will be considered by the NEB.

The route of the pipeline is clearly marked.

One wonders what the severe weather is going to have when the frozen ground north of Sideroad # 1 begins to thaw and the ground starts to heave.

Hamilton 350, an advocacy group said in a statement that:  “It is clear that we must wean our society off fossil fuels. The minimum first step is stop making things worse. When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Therefore, at minimum, no increase in the extraction or transportation of fossil fuels should be contemplated.”

Hamilton 350 also questions the fairness of the NEB process that required detailed application forms from anyone wishing to even submit a written comment to the Board. And they suggest that the credibility of the board’s independence is undermined by its failure to require notification to even the city government for flow expansion last year in another pipeline running parallel to Line 9.

Burlington filed a submission expressing its opposition to any changes to the line.  Sometime after the letter of opposition the Burlington Fire department accepted a donation from Enbridge for the development of a simulation lab.

Background links:

Burlington opposes any change in direction of pipeline flow.

City opposes change to pipeline flow then its fire department accepts a $7500 donation.

Burlington tells NEB a pipeline leak would be a disaster for the city.

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Different Drummer announces new series at a new location – Golf and Country Club.

By Staff

March 6, 2014


Ian Elliott has this delightful way of getting his message out.  He is a soft-spoken man, looks like the bookseller he is.  He has learned that just running a bookshop is not going to cover all the bills so he has branched out and now markets in several rather interesting ways.

Whenever there is a major speaker in town A Different Drummer Bookstore can usually be seen with a table off to the side with copies of the speakers books set out neatly.

Elliott set up his own speakers event and now cooperates with several other booksellers and brings in an author to talk about their book.   Polite, erudite and well – let’s let Ian Elliott use his own words as he announces Spring 2014 BOOK & AUTHOR SERIES which he describes as an electrifying literary series we’re so delighted to host

Our famously long-running series returns.  Nine authors once again visit Burlington to present their new works over three splendid mornings.

Please note: NEW LOCATION:  We have a change of venue this season:  The Book & Author Series will take place in the sterling setting of the Burlington Golf and Country Club,  422 North Shore Boulevard East in Burlington.

Not sure how the view of that smoky old steel mill gets described as “sterling” but let’s not get picky, I’ll not get a cucumber sandwich if I keep that up.

The dates: April 15; April 29;  and May 27.

Series tickets are $55, available starting Saturday, March 15 at 9am at the bookstore.

At each session, we meet at nine for refreshments, and the morning’s presentation starts at 9:30 am.  The authors will speak to us, answer questions, and inscribe their books.

Among the illustrious guests appearing this season are Eva Stachniak, Kate Pullinger, Jennifer McMahon, Lynn Thompson, Plum Johnson and Ray Robertson.

And we have many more wonderful literary events in the offing.  We’ll bring you all details soon.  We are ever proud and happy to be your bookstore!

There you have it.

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John Street terminal to stay for now; bigger issue got put on the table: Where is Burlington going with public transit – council doesn’t know.

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014


The John Street transit terminal will remain in place – for now.  On a vote of 5-2 (Sharman, Dennison were prepared to let people stand out in the cold)  The city is currently looking at the matter of transit hubs – there are four that are being avidly discussed – with the John Street location seen as one of the more critical locations.  The Burlington GO station has more bus routes going through it – 16 as opposed to the 8 that run through the John Street location.  The Mayor sees it as a critical part of the downtown core.

There was a time when a much larger bus terminal existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal on John Street – it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn’t have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

The transit people wanted to shut the terminal down because the drivers wouldn’t need the facility and the public would be able to get answers to their questions at the Harvester Road transit office which is open longer than the terminal and has staff available on Sunday.  What Spicer kept calling  “fare media” when he meant bus tickets, would be available at local retail locations in the downtown core.  The Queen’s Head and Coffee Culture are the closest retail locations that are open long hours but Spicer told council that his people had not approached anyone yet.

Were the terminal to be closed, tickets will be available at city hall – but the hours there are limited.  What was startling was no mention whatsoever about customer comfort.  In this brutally cold weather that has been with us for more than a month the outdoor shelters just don’t cut it.  The terminal is a warm place to wait for a bus.

Mayor Rick Goldring said transit had to have a meaningful presence in the downtown core and added that he talks to a lot of people who use the John Street terminal.

The Mayor and Meed Ward were the only two people to talk about the terminal.  Meed Ward then moved on to part two of her transit mission: where was transit in the Transportation Master Plan review which has focused a bit on the creation of four mobility hubs.  Burlington’s friends and supporters of transit (Bfast)  couldn’t see it in the proceedings so far.

Mobility hubs at the GO stations is close to a no brainer – it is the possible hub in the downtown core that has yet to be thoroughly thought through. Council decided that closing the terminal on John Street to save $8000 a year was not a bright idea.

Meed Ward was the chair of the committee reviewing budget submissions which means when she has a question she turns the gavel over to her vice chair Paul Sharman who behaved like an enforcer on a hockey team and appeared to feel his job was to keep the puck away from Meed Ward and if she did get her hands on the thing – then his job was to knock her down.  It was particularly deplorable behaviour during which there was precious little respect shown.  We have seen this kind of behaviour from Councillor Sharman in the past.

With the gavel in his hands Sharman challenged her right to bring a new matter to the committee meeting.  The Clerk ruled that Meed Ward could bring a new matter and given that transit was being discussed and her matter was related to transit she wanted to proceed.

What became clear during the discussion about the John Street terminal is the difficulty the city is having with just what it wants to do, will have to do and can afford in terms of public transit.

The transit advocates maintain that the city had not made it perfectly clear that transit was part of the Master Transportation Plan the city is currently reviewing.

General Manager Scott Stewart put that dog to rest when he made it perfectly clear that transit is a vital part of the transportation thinking. 

Doug Brown, chair of Bfast – Burlington’s friends and supporters of transit, can read a bus schedule better than most bookies can read the Racing Guide. He meets with Susan Lewis a transit user.

Doug Brown Bfast chair said he has been asking if transit was being considered within the Transportation Master Plan and hadn’t been given an answer.  Last November Brown sent the following questions to everyone he felt was involved.  He says he has yet to get an answer.  Bfast wants to know:

1) Will the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) develop a comprehensive long-term transit plan, including funding, to guide the growth of a robust transit system?

 2) Will the TMP fully analyze and assess all opportunities to minimize road and intersection widenings and the construction of additional parking facilities through investments in transit, active transportation, and Transportation Demand Management?

 3) Will the TMP be evaluated against criteria demonstrating that implementation of the TMP will:

a) meet the City’s own planning objectives (ROPA38 requirement to increase local transit to 11% modal split from current 2%);

b) meet the objectives of the City’s Strategic Plan (walkable, liveable, inclusive communities; GHG reduction targets)

c) will be environmentally and economically sustainable by determining all costs and benefits of proposed transportation options 

 4) Will the TMP look at successful measures in other cities (i.e. Portland, Ottawa, Victoria) to increase transit and active transportation modes.

Meed Ward read these out at the budget meeting.  Stewart said he wasn’t aware of the questions; Meed Ward said she would send them to him.

The discussion around what the transit issue really is was instructive.  Burlington is expected to increase the transit part of its modal split (that is the number of people who use different forms of transportation) from 2% to 11% by 2031 and that can only happen if transit ridership increases by 10% each year.

Blend into that the fact that transit ridership was lower in 2013 than it was in 2012.

City manager Jeff Fielding points out that our population is only going to grow by 1900 a year for the next ten years and then asks:  “Do you really think you are going to get a modal shift from 2% up to 11% in the next 20 years.  I can’t see it, I really can’t see it and I’m a big transit supporter.  There may be some other approaches we need to look at.”

Councillor Taylor was just as direct.  He said we are not going to get new people to take transit.  If transit is to grow it will have to come from the existing population – and that is going to mean changing our communities and intensifying.  The one way you can change transit said Taylor is to make it more convenient for the users.

No one moves to Burlington to get around using transit.Councillor Sharman was both direct and blunt.  Burlington is a great city and a place where wealthy people want to live.  Wealthy people have cars.  No one moves to Burlington to get around using transit.

Those views sum up the predicament and the challenge that transit faces.

That brought Meed Ward back into the conversation with a question for staff:  “Can they tell us with some specificity how transit will be handled within the Transportation Master Plan?”  Stewart was able to oblige her.  Transit will be part of the Transportation Master Plan discussions but there will not be a transit business case coming out of the TMP.

Stewart undertook to get answers to the Bfast questions; when, asked Meed Ward.  Not in March, that’s for sure responded Stewart; probably in April or May.

Transit is due to produce their first report card on how the service is doing in June.  Add to that the news that transit is currently working with the providers of a technology that will give the transit managers real-time data on who gets on and off a bus and exactly where this happens; data Burlington Transit says is vital if they are to effectively allocate the resources they have.

As the discussion was coming to a close Sharman, filling in as chair of the meeting, asked Meed Ward if she had a motion.  No, she replied and I now want to withdraw the motion I might have had.  She had made her point – transit was now very much on the table and a part of an upcoming agenda.

Viewpoints that were not known before were now public.

The city does have a transit advisory committee – problem with that committee is that it can’t manage to meet which increases Stewart’s frustration level.

The one way you can change transit is to make it more convenient for the users.Susan Lewis a consistent transit user, she doesn’t drive, was asked to join the Transit Advisory committee and headed downtown in January  for a meeting.  When she got to city hall she and one other person were the only people in the room; the meeting had been cancelled and not everyone was told.

Mayor Goldring and Councillor Meed Ward want clarity, the transit advocates want a clear policy commitment and better funding.  The city manager doesn’t want to provide that money because he doesn’t see value in it and the bulk of this council don’t have a lot of time for transit.  They spent more time talking about the removal of snow.

There is one sliver of hope.  The city manager is a transit supporter and he would very much like to have some bold ideas to work with.  The Bfast people, who can be a bit pedantic at times, do know what moving people around on public transit is all about.

If Stewart does manage to get all the players in the room he just might find that the Bfast people have a lot to offer; he just has to manage the frustration that overcomes him on occasion.  He might think in terms of making Bfast the transit advisory committee.  It couldn’t be any worse than what he has now – and the transit staff would be well served to listen carefully to these people.  More respect for each other would go a long way as well.

The discussion really wasn’t a budget issue; Meed Ward was pushing the rules, but she brought to the table a discussion that has been needed for some time.  Councillors Lancaster and Dennison had nothing to say; it will be a long time before you see either of them on a bus.

Councillors Lancaster and Dennison had nothing to say; it will be a long time before you see either of them on a bus.Back to those mobility hubs and the John Street terminal.  The hubs and hinged to the GO stations which makes sense – the downtown hub was the location that council wasn’t as certain about.

One of the “big picture” tasks the city is working on is opportunities to develop the north end of John Street where the city owns a parking lot that abuts the plaza at the top of John Street.

Medica One or the Carriage Gate project – pick the name you like best – will go up at the top of John Street and consist of a medical offices building, an above ground garage and an apartment/condo complex. It will bring significant change to the intersection and drive redevelopment of the plaza to the immediate north, A transit hub a couple of blocks to the south then makes a lot of sense.

The Carriage Gate group is expected to break ground soon on its medical building, parking garage and apartment/condo tower which will make the Caroline and John Street part of town a busier place.

Parking lot # 3 at the top of John Street just south of the shopping plaza is being given a very close look for redevelopment. The Carriage Gate development will draw people to the area creating a John Street that could undergo significant development. There might be life in the downtown core yet.

Some of the city thinking has the plaza at the top of John Street being given a massive make over and that portion of John Street north of Caroline a cleanup – it looks more like a laneway right now.  All this thinking will impact what happens at the south end of John, where just blocks away the Delta Hotel and the Bridgewater condominiums are about to see some real construction activity.

A John Street mobility hub then would be a critical part of any makeover of this part of town which is all   very much a project that is in the thinking through the ramifications stage.

The Mayor wants to stay with this one; get in front of it and lead the parade.

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This bandit should have stayed out of town – now he awaits a bail hearing.

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014


It is hard to be plain old basic police work.  Halton regional Police clearly know that if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck then it is probably a duck.

Back in August 2013, there were a number of daytime residential break and taking place in the City.

Police identified a suspect responsible for the entries however he avoided capture by fleeing to another Province.

Then there were a series of similar entries in January 2014:  members of the Halton Regional Police – 3 District C.I.B.- Residential Crime Team figured this one out real quick.  He’s back they said to each other and quickly arrested the suspect who was now back in Ontario.

Investigators confirmed the suspect had returned to Ontario and during the evening of March 4th 2014, the suspect was located at a London area hotel where he was arrested along with a female acquaintance who had been assisting the suspect in his efforts to evade arrest.

John Stewart MACKINNON (40 yrs) (Held for Bail)

  • Break, Enter & Theft (Three Counts)
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime

Shannon Lee Margaret CAIN (32 yrs) of Sann Rd. in Beamsville (Released on a Promise to Appear in Milton Court on April 2nd 2014)

  • Obstruct Peace Officer

A sense of satisfaction prevailed at 3 District C.I.B.- Residential Crime Team room on Southampton Drive.  They got another one.

Anyone with information to assist in the above investigation can contact Det. Bale – 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at (905)825-4747 ext. 2312

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

For additional information about community concerns in Burlington, follow us on Twitter @HRPSBurl or for the latest crime data, news releases and general information, visit the Service’s website www.haltonpolice.ca

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Hope prevails for the cultural community – city manager pulls a rabbit out of his hat – saves the day.

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014


It looked as if all the Arts and Culture collective was going to get for 2014 was a cultural map – a place where those who felt they were part of culture and art in Burlington could register and say who they are and what they do.

The consensus around the horseshoe during debate at the Standing Committee was  “perhaps next year”, which sort of left the cultural action plan in some kind of a limbo.

Someone, somewhere in city hall decided the arts and culture community had to be given something so they trotted out  and launched a new, online cultural map to showcase Burlington’s many cultural assets.

Mayor Rick Goldring said the cultural mapping is “ a great platform to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones among culture makers and consumers in the city.”

Jeremy Freiburger, on the right and Trevor Copp, second from the left, were two of the forces that got the city to the point where the city manager commits to giving the arts and culture community what they wanted by the middle of the year.  The group is looking at Melanie Booth’s Olympic medal which became part of the Spiral Stella.

The map (perhaps not the best word to describe the service) is an online tool that shows the full range of cultural activity in the Burlington arts community. Residents and cultural groups can get information and discover resources including: cultural venues, creative cultural industries, creative professionals, cultural heritage and artists.

A very significant amount of money had been poured into culture starting with a strong document from consultant Jeremy Freiburger which had data the city had never seen before.  In his Directions document Freiburger provided the kind of data that was needed to determine if there was a true cultural base in the city and some thoughts on the direction the city could take.

The city took the advice Freiburger provide and held a series of public meetings to craft a Cultural Action Plan (CAP) that the city approved.  The next step was to implement that Action Plan – and that was the first stumble on the city side – at a Budget Standing Committee council decided not to fund a Cultural Manager – the person who would oversee the implementation of the CAP.

This was a significant setback for the arts and culture people who were now a very visible community.  Up until the public meetings that worked up the CAP, no one really knew they existed.  Trevor Copp who had been named Arts Person of the Year for 2011 was the visible part of the arts and culture community serving as the spokesperson much of the time.

The first the city saw of the arts community – that is the artists who do the performing and creating was when Trevor Copp appeared at a Standing Committee meting asking: Can I ply my trade in Burlington or do I have to schlep to Toronto all the time.

The Collective, as the arts and culture community became known, was not prepared to give up.  When  council decided to go from a Standing Committee into full council immediately after the budget recommendation on Tuesday,  the short interval didn’t leave much time for the Collective to get its act together.  They did have a Cultural Planner who had her ear to the ground and could advise them when to show up – and show up they did with two people delegating at the last-minute.

During those delegations mention was made that Freiburger, in his Directions report, had suggested the Cultural Manager not be put in place immediately which looked like the kiss of death for what the arts community felt was vital.

Then – out of the blue – and I mean, right out of the blue, city manager Jeff Fielding said he would do his very best to find room within the current staff compliment to find room for a Cultural Manager.  He didn’t say if he  was going to find the person for the job from within the existing staff compliment or if he felt a place would open up.

The city manager had previously advised council that he was going to do a total review of the work force and get a deeper look into what the city has in the way of talent, where there are weaknesses and how to develop what the city needs.  There isn’t all that much in the way of bench strength  – especially at the senior level.  One would be hard pressed to name who the natural successor would be to either of the general managers.

Up until Fielding’s comment there wasn’t a hint that the Cultural Manager would be found and hired in 2014.  It was certainly good news for the Collective.  Most of the group that had attended Council held a hallway discussion with General Manager Kim Phillips who manages culture, which up until now has been part of the Parks and Recreation department.

Did Phillips even know what Fielding was thinking?

Angela Papariza was a recreational planner when this picture was taken. Her job was changed to that of a cultural planner and she is now the goto person on the cultural file – at least until a cultural Manager is hired. Is she a candidate for the Cultural Manager position? Papariza talks with Trevor Copp one of the movers and shakers within the arts and cultural community.

For the immediate future the arts community has a cultural planner they can work with and a cultural map they can populate.

The Workforce review should be done by the end of June – at that time the Collective will have a better sense as to what they are likely to get.

In the meantime the city manager has to review what he has in the way of a workforce and determine how it can be managed to deliver what the city needs.  He has all kinds of tools under development to better measure performance: Service Based Budgeting; Results Based Accountability to name just two –  will begin to come on-line as we work ourselves through 2014 and get ready for a significantly new way of doing business come 2015.

At that point the city will have a new council – don’t expect every one of the significant seven to be returned.  There are some major surprises coming.

Expect some changes in the structure of the senior management team as well.  Culture was a part of the Parks and Recreation department.  Once the Cultural manager is in place expect a re-alignment with culture getting a place of its own on the city’s organizational chart.   The intermediate and long term challenge is to make the cultural investment to date one that will result in a financially viable, robust business.

During the culture debates nothing was said of the potential for the cultural leaders in the city to form some kind of a committee to look at culture from that 30,000 foot level.

Ian Ross, chief cheese at the Art Centre offers a supporting hand to Maureen Barry, CEO of the library service during a Budget Bazaar in 2012.

Maureen Barry, the CEO of the Library provides a cultural base that is often overlooked.  Barry is a solid strategic thinker with a reach into the community that exceeds that of anyone else.  More people use the library than any other service in the city. Brian McCurdy, the head of the Performing Arts Centre and Ian Ross over at the Arts Centre have very significant experience with arts and culture.  These three, collectively, are in a position to add some heft to the thinking that will get done to make Burlington a cultural force, both in the region and the province.  But they have to meet and break bread first as it were.

When there is a Cultural Manager in place that person is going to work with the arts community of which McCurdy,  Ross and Barry are the leaders.

There is much to be excited about – but a lot of hard-core work to be done.

Hope prevails.

Background links:

Standing committee took a pass on the cultural manager

Artists and cultural types want to be hard.

Who is Jeremy Freiburger?



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Council keeps taxes for this term of office just over their 10% projection – comes in at 10.13 over four years.

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014


What started out as an ask of $134,513,000 as a total tax levy, which called for a tax increase of 4.66%, got pared down to $133,889,000 which would have meant a tax increase of 4.13% finally came in at $133,816,211 and a tax increase of 3.5% which works out to $12.78 for each $100,000 of residential urban assessment – it took close to two months to whittle that number back. 

Tax haul to be  $133,816,211 for 2014 - tax rate for 2014 to be an increase of 3.5% The number represents an increase of 3.5% which over the term of this council totals 10.13% over the four-year term – slightly higher than the 10% the Mayor went on record with.  Expect to hear that point made regularly by this council during the election we will have in October.

Budgets however are a lot more than just numbers; the deliberations that get a council to their total are an honest look at the values these seven people bring to the job they do.  At times the view was exceptional but all too often it was disappointing, limited and showed a timidness and an inability to come up with the bold yet creative ideas that would both grow the city financially and at the same time maintain the quality of life people who live here expect.

The hope for Burlington was seen at a Committee of the Whole Meeting that took place while Council was going through the budget deliberations.

In its media release the city included all the pat on the back stuff – and staff did do a fine job of making all the parts come together – but this was not a great budget. It was adequate.
There were more than a dozen citizen delegations – it is hard to identify those that were listened to with the exception that the city manager did promise he would come back to the arts and culture community no later than June and let them know if he has been able to find a full time equivalent to use as the spot for a cultural manager. That spark of creativity didn’t come from anyone on this council.

Highlights that the city points to include:
One-time funding of $86,000 for Community Development Halton for social programming, including North BurLINKton and the Chill Zone
$115,000 one-time and $25,000 ongoing funding for an extra round of loose leaf collection in areas north of the QEW
$643,000 toward infrastructure renewal.

Back in 2010 the city was told they had to come up with $60 million as its share of the redevelopment price for the Joseph Brant Hospital. That amount has been paid out during the past year with the levy rising each year to what will be a $1.2 million increase this year which brings what we are setting aside this year to $4.8 million. That levy by the way is not likely to ever disappear – once they have their hand in your pocket they will find a way to keep it there.

Culture and the staff compliment got the most attention - and most of the money this year.This year there was very little, if any, mention of “shave and pave” that process we use to keep the cost of maintaining our roads manageable.
The budget this paid much more attention to culture than it did to the state of the roads; an exceptionally heavy winter resulted in a lot of discussion about what we want to do about snow removal.

The size of the staff compliment was always on the table. No new hires but a lot of re-evaluating positions and redeveloping the job done. We learned during the budget deliberations there was going to be a total workforce review to determine what the city has and what it needs in terms of a workforce and how to use what it has to get what we need done.

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Early morning hit and run puts 23 year old male in hospital with facial fractures

By Staff

March 4, 2014


What is believed to be a black Dodge Ram 1500 struck a pedestrian crossing Brant St near Birch Ave in downtown Burlington. The victim suffered facial fractures.

The driver of the vehicle was described by witnesses as a white male, 30-40 years of age wearing a suit. There were possibly two other people in the suspect vehicle. No licence plate was obtained and the extent of the damage to the truck is unknown.

The incident took place at about 2:55am. The Halton Regional Police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the driver of a hit and run vehicle.

 Anyone with information is asked to call the Halton Police at 905-825-4747 ext 2305 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477)

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Female senior pedestrian struck by school bus that fails to remain at the scene.

By Staff

March 4, 2014


On Monday March 3rd, 2014, shortly after 2:30pm, Halton Regional Police were requested to attend and assist with an investigation involving a School Bus and a pedestrian in The City of Burlington.

This is going to get messy – there aren’t that many school bus companies around.

A 64-year-old female pedestrian, was observed walking south on Dynes Road at Woodward Avenue.  As she was crossing at that intersection, she was struck by what witnesses described as a short school bus.  The bus failed to remain at the scene, leaving the injured pedestrian in the traveled portion of the roadway. The pedestrian was transported to hospital with life threatening injuries.

Halton Regional Police Collision Reconstruction Unit attended and assumed control of this investigation.  Any persons that may have witnessed the victim in the area of the incident prior to the collision, or the collision itself, are asked to contact Halton Police Collision Reconstruction Unit, Detective Constable Chris Heffernan at 905-825-4747 ext. 5420

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Guess whose name is coming off the Christmas card list? Meed Ward wants staff parking treated as a taxable benefit.

By Pepper Parr

March 3, 2014


She is serious.  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward is moving with some dispatch on her desire to see the city show the free parking staff get as a taxable benefit.

Lot of staff in the Locust Street lot.  Covered space is a prime perk – Council member wants to tax it.

In a note to her colleagues she said:  Upon further discussion with staff, staff have advised that employee parking in the downtown has been provided on a scramble basis which is open to interpretation.  Therefore, Council has the option to direct staff to review and address in 2014 employee parking with respect to the taxable benefit status, specifically for union and non-unionized city employees, downtown local board employees and members of Council including implementation issues such as notification requirements, options and, other related impacts.

Meed Ward created a data sheet for her council colleagues pointing out WHAT

All of these details could be outlined in an implementation plan staff would bring back to council.  Thus the wording of the motion for tomorrow’s meeting, to keep it simple, is as follows:

 “Direct staff report back on an implementation plan in 2014 for employee parking as a taxable benefit.”

Now we get to see just how the other six members of council treat this matter.  Teachers get free parking – we don’t know yet if this is treated as a taxable benefit.  The legislation certainly suggest it should be treated as such.

In her note to her colleagues Meed Ward brings up the issue of “parking on a scramble basis” which is when the first person to get to a space can take it.  And as long as there are spaces available – a person can park.  When spaces are not available – they are out of luck.

Expect to see considerable discussion around that issue.

If the city manager were smart – and he is – he should just fold on this one and thank Meed Ward for her contribution and advise that the city will resolve this issue quickly – in favour of the tax payers.

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward is looking at the financial side of the city much more these days. As chair of the Community and Corporate Services committee she shepherds the budget review through the Standing Committee and has brought a much more feisty approach to that process.

For those that watch the goings on at city hall – it would be easy to get the impression that Meed Ward just might be positioning  herself for a move.  She has yet to file nomination papers as a candidate in ward 2 – but then that applies to everyone else on Council except for the Mayor who filed early in January.

Meed Ward brought up the matter of free staff parking and said she thught it should be debated during the budget cycle.  This Council hopes to make the budget final on Tuesday – this issue puts a fly in that ointment.

Background links:

Is Meed Ward looking at her chess board and plotting her next move?

Meed Ward suggests free staff parking is taxable.

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Chilli Half Marathon was downright cold – fewer runners but no serious injuries. Road closures appeared to have gone off smoothly.

By Staff

March 3, 2014


The race took place and for once the Chilly Half Marathon lived up to its name – it was cold and that did impact on the number of racers that showed up to run east and then west along Lakeshore Road.

Despite the weather there were 2025 runners on the road; 11 people had to be treated by the medical team and every one of them was blessed by by a priest standing in the middle of the road outside his church.

There were fewer runners this year – cold weather and lack of opportunity to train for the event kept more than 1000 runners away.

The race, which many people don’t realize has been run since 1995 – more than 19 years.  It is only in the past four years that the race has been rub on Lakeshore Road and that has divided not only the Lakeshore Road community.  A small but very vocal group have opposed the race and in the process generated a lot of dissension within the community with some nasty comments going back and forth on social media.

A number of people have questioned the veracity of information put out by race organizer Kelly Arnott but we’ve not heard from a single person who was inconvenienced and totally locked into the street they lived on.

Arnott reports that there were 13 calls to the special telephone number VRPro provided of which only two wanted help on the race day.

On the race day, Sunday there were 15 calls and every one of the requests for help was accommodated.

VRPro hired additional police officers and an officer was placed at Walkers Line and Lakeshore to handle problems at that location.  No one had to wait more than twenty minutes added Arnott who added that one lady wanted the race stopped so she could drive through.

In the past people have questioned some of the factual information VRPro released – this year data was collected revealing:

Gender: Male: 42% 1505  – Female: 58% 2062

Those two numbers added together amount to quite a bit more than the 2025 reported to have run the race.  Arnott reports that a lot of people cancelled due to the weather.

Age breakdown: male and female are counted together

0-19: 2% (82) 48% 52%

20-29: 15% (525) 31% 69%

30-39: 24% (864) 36% 64%

40-49: 30% (1075) 43% 57%

50-59: 22% (800) 49% 51%

60-69: 5% (196) 65% 35%

70+: 1% (25) 60% 40%

Who runs in this race; where do they come from and what do they bring to Burlington?  The hometown’s given are almost a map of the province.

Toronto 20.63% (736);  Burlington 10.46% (373); Oakville 7.15% (255); Mississauga 6.73% (240); Hamilton 3.59% (128); Brampton 2.66% (95); Guelph 2.13% (76); London 1.88% (67); Barrie 1.77% (63); Oshawa 1.57% (56); Whitby 1.57% (56); Milton 1.43% (51); Kitchener 1.40% (50); Ancaster 1.29% (46); Stoney Creek 1.04% (37); Aurora 1.04% (37); Markham 1.01% (36); Etobicoke 1.01% (36); Waterloo 0.98% (35); Brantford 0.98% (35); Ajax 0.98% (35); Pickering 0.95% (34); Newmarket 0.93% (33); St. Catharines 0.84% (30); Richmond Hill 0.84% (30); Georgetown 0.76% (27); Dundas 0.73% (26); Owen

The gender breakdown of the runners was pretty even.

The Chilli Half Marathon is a major event for runners from across the province. It is followed by the Around the Bay three weeks later.

Sound 0.70% (25); Cambridge 0.70% (25); Grimsby 0.67% (24); Waterdown 0.62% (22); Scarborough 0.56% (20); North York 0.50% (18); Woodbridge 0.48% (17); Thornhill 0.42% (15); Maple 0.39% (14); Burlington 0.39% (14); Bolton 0.39% (14); Acton 0.31% (11); Bowmanville 0.31% (11); Welland 0.28% (10); Niagara Falls 0.28% (10); Binbrook 0.25% (9); Caledonia 0.25% (9); Stratford 0.25% (9); St Catharines 0.25% (9); N/A 0.22% (8); Brooklin 0.22% (8); Peterborough 0.22% (8); Toronto 0.20% (7) ; Caledon 0.20% (7); Innisfil 0.20% (7); Ottawa 0.20% (7); Oakville 0.20% (7); Courtice 0.20% (7); Kingston 0.20% (7); Bradford 0.20% (7); Shanty Bay 0.17% (6); Alliston 0.17% (6); Holland Landing 0.14% (5); St. Catharines 0.14% (5); Fonthill 0.14% (5); Vineland 0.14% (5); Bracebridge 0.14% (5); Komoka 0.14% (5); Carlisle 0.14% (5); Chatham 0.14% (5); Thorold 0.14% (5); Ingersoll 0.14% (5); North Bay 0.14% (5); St. George 0.14% (5); Elora 0.14% (5); Vaughan 0.14% (5); Richmond Hill 0.11% (4); Simcoe 0.11% (4); Windsor 0.11% (4); Beamsville 0.11% (4); Stouffville 0.11% (4); Mount Hope 0.11% (4); Parry Sound 0.11% (4); Vaudreuil-Dorion 0.11% (4); Milton 0.11% (4); Orangeville 0.11% (4); Collingwood 0.11% (4); Hamilton 0.11% (4); Niagara On The Lake 0.11% (4); Fenwick 0.08% (3); Campbellville 0.08% (3); Blackstock 0.08% (3); Thunder Bay 0.08% (3); Fergus 0.08% (3); Kitchener 0.08% (3); Waterford 0.08% (3); Woodstock 0.08% (3); Unionville 0.08% (3); Brampton 0.08% (3); Lockport 0.08% (3); Hannon 0.08% (3); Ridgeway 0.08% (3); Sarnia 0.08% (3); Erin 0.08% (3); Newcastle 0.08% (3); Mississauga 0.08% (3); Cedar Valley 0.08% (3); Wasaga Beach 0.08% (3); Rockwood 0.08% (3); Sudbury 0.06% (2); Midland 0.06% (2); Wellandport 0.06% (2); Port Elgin 0.06% (2); Keswick 0.06% (2); Smithville 0.06% (2); RR1 Enniskillen 0.06% (2); Aurora 0.06% (2); Goderich 0.06% (2); St. Thomas 0.06% (2); Midhurst 0.06% (2); Ayr 0.06% (2); Montreal 0.06% (2); Palgrave 0.06% (2); Mount Albert 0.06% (2); Cobourg 0.06% (2); Troy 0.06% (2); Elmira 0.06% (2); Cambridge 0.06% (2); Niagara-on-the-lake 0.06% (2); Denfield 0.06% (2); Millgrove 0.06% (2); Puslinch 0.06% (2); Terra Cotta 0.06% (2); Jordan Station 0.06% (2); Stittsville 0.06% (2); Oxbridge 0.06% (2); Port Colborne 0.06% (2); Cayuga 0.06% (2); Gormley 0.06% (2); Lindsay 0.06% (2); Hampton 0.06% (2); Brantford 0.06% (2); St. Marys 0.06% (2); Pickering 0.06% (2); Mulmur 0.06% (2); Ridgetown 0.06% (2); Petersburg 0.06% (2); Moscow 0.06% (2); Kincardine 0.06% (2); Ashburn 0.06% (2); Bright 0.06% (2); Richmondhill 0.06% (2); Tobermory 0.06% (2); Lion’s Head 0.06% (2); Mount Pleasant 0.06% (2); Branchton 0.06% (2); Tiny 0.06% (2); Paris 0.06% (2); Port Perry 0.06% (2); Amherstview 0.06% (2); Freeburg 0.06% (2); Port Dover 0.06% (2); Concord 0.06% (2); Cookstown 0.06% (2); Hamiltion 0.03% (1); Bulington 0.03% (1); Sherkston 0.03% (1); Saskatoon 0.03% (1); Kingswood Rd 0.03% (1); Oak Like 0.03% (1); Walkerton 0.03% (1); Calgary 0.03% (1); Avenue 0.03% (1); Beeton 0.03% (1); Guelph 0.03% (1); Lasalle Mpr 0.03% (1); West Hill 0.03% (1); East York 0.03% (1);  Runway 0.03% (1); Branpton 0.03% (1); Chathen 0.03% (1); Virgil 0.03% (1); Shallowlake 0.03% (1); Brantfird 0.03% (1); Shallow Lake 0.03% (1); Manotick 0.03% (1); Egbert 0.03% (1); Amaranth 0.03% (1); Wainfleet 0.03% (1); Seagrave 0.03% (1); Caledon Village 0.03% (1); Harrow 0.03% (1); Tillsonburg 0.03% (1); Ohsweken 0.03% (1); St Thomas 0.03% (1); West Flambourgh 0.03% (1); Nottawa 0.03% (1); Burlingtion 0.03% (1); Niagara Falla 0.03% (1); Pembroke 0.03% (1); Bramalea 0.03% (1); Winnipeg 0.03% (1); Brown 0.03% (1); Zephyr 0.03% (1); Peterborough 0.03% (1); Fort Erie 0.03% (1); London 0.03% (1); St.clements 0.03% (1); Port Hawkesbury 0.03% (1); Grimsby 0.03% (1); Burlington 0.03% (1); St. Catharines 0.03% (1); Limehouse 0.03% (1); King City 0.03% (1); Chapleau 0.03% (1); Timmins 0.03% (1); Darthmouth 0.03% (1);  Chicago 0.03% (1); Fort Saskatchewan 0.03% (1); Sombra 0.03% (1); Pointe-Claire 0.03% (1); Princeton Jct 0.03% (1); Kleinburg 0.03% (1); Orton 0.03% (1); Scotland 0.03% (1); Sault Ste Marie 0.03% (1); Morriston 0.03% (1); Angus 0.03% (1); Winona 0.03% (1); Altona 0.03% (1); Ariss 0.03% (1); Lancaster 0.03% (1); Bolton 0.03% (1); Burlintgon 0.03% (1); Barrie 0.03% (1); Victoria Harbour 0.03% (1); New Dundee 0.03% (1); Toronto 0.03% (1); Peninsula 0.03% (1); Vittoria 0.03% (1); Orillia 0.03% (1); Kilworthy 0.03% (1); Thornton 0.03% (1); Echo Bay 0.03% (1); Missisauga 0.03% (1); Sarsfield 0.03% (1); Oxford Station 0.03% (1); Whitby 0.03% (1); Baden 0.03% (1); Breslau 0.03% (1); Mount Elgin 0.03% (1);  Frankford 0.03% (1); Innisfil, On 0.03% (1); Huntsville 0.03% (1); Almonte 0.03% (1); Croton 0.03% (1); Ennismore 0.03% (1); Scarborough (toronto) 0.03% (1); Canfield 0.03% (1); Alberta 0.03% (1); Bright’s Grove 0.03% (1); Catttaraugus 0.03% (1); St.thomas 0.03% (1); Rr2 Barrie 0.03% (1); Lasalle 0.03% (1); Russell Hill Rd 0.03% (1); Woodbrisge 0.03% (1); Toronot 0.03% (1); Burlington, Ontario 0.03% (1); Algonquin Highlands 0.03% (1); Tottenham 0.03% (1); Glen Williams 0.03% (1); Ballinafad 0.03% (1); St-Lazarre 0.03% (1); Nobleton 0.03% (1); Courtland 0.03% (1); Whitney Point 0.03% (1); Burnt River 0.03% (1); Monkton 0.03% (1); Gatineau 0.03% (1); St Catharines 0.03% (1); St. John’s 0.03% (1); Glenburnie 0.03% (1); Street 0.03% (1); Oakville, Ont 0.03% (1); St. Agatha 0.03% (1); Thornbury 0.03% (1); Toroonto 0.03% (1); St Jacobs 0.03% (1); York 0.03% (1); Lakefield 0.03% (1); Wellesley 0.03% (1); Burllington 0.03% (1); Newmarket 0.03% (1); Rr1 Fenwick 0.03% (1); Everett 0.03% (1); Richmond Hill 0.03% (1); St.anns 0.03% (1); Ashton 0.03% (1); Kingsville 0.03% (1); Lynden 0.03% (1); Owen Sound 0.03% (1); East Gwillimbury 0.03% (1); Mannheim 0.03% (1); Ripley 0.03% (1); Suite 1116 0.03% (1); Arthur 0.03% (1); Ridgeville 0.03% (1); Ancaster 0.03% (1); Orchard Park 0.03% (1); North York 0.03% (1); Gores Landing 0.03% (1); Stoneham Road 0.03% (1); Tonawanda 0.03% (1); Whitehorse 0.03% (1); Port Severn 0.03% (1); S.b. Peninsula 0.03% (1); Caledon East, Ontario 0.03% (1);

Caledon East 0.03% (1); Chatsworth 0.03% (1); Saint Catharines 0.03% (1); Shelburne 0.03% (1); Bruce Mines 0.03% (1); Beamsville 0.03% (1); Sault Ste. Marie 0.03% (1); Sault Ste. Marie 0.03% (1); Edmonton 0.03% (1); Bowmanville 0.03% (1); Cornwall 0.03% (1); Alexandria 0.03% (1); Smiths Falls 0.03% (1); Port Severn 0.03% (1); Burford 0.03% (1); Stouffiville 0.03% (1); Stouffville 0.03% (1); Carlisle 0.03% (1); Baltimore 0.03% (1); Suite 513 0.03% (1); Suite 513 0.03% (1)

That is more information than you ever wanted or needed but it makes an important point –the runners come from across the province.  Many will pay for accommodation; all will buy some food, most will buy gas to get home and we hope that those from other cities, town and villages remember us well and return for some other event.

Why the apparent duplication?  The data came in from forms completed less than 24 hours ago and was taken from early registrations and late comers.  Many of the early registrations did not show up – due for the most part to weather but Arnott reports that on average 12% to 15% don’t show up – even when the weather is great.

It gets crowded on Lakeshore Road

Bigger picture: they came from: Ontario 98.85% (3526); New York 0.31% (11); Quebec 0.28% (10); Alberta 0.08% (3); Prince Edward Island 0.06% (2); Nova Scotia 0.06% (2); Nunavut 0.06% (2); Pennsylvania 0.06% (2); Manitoba 0.03% (1); Saskatchewan 0.03% (1); Illinois 0.03% (1); New Jersey 0.03% (1); Newfoundland 0.03% (1); Yukon 0.03% (1); Ohio 0.03% (1) and other, wherever that is ; 0.06% (2)

The Chill Half Marathon, The Sound of Music, the Ribfest and now a Burlington Beer Fest are all a part of Burlington – and don’t forget the Pier – they are all a part of what Burlington has chosen to be.  The vast majority like things this way and because Burlington is a civilized city those responsible for these events are required to go out of their way to accommodate those who don’t share the enthusiasm.

Background links:

Residents don’t like the road closures.

City approves list of Festivals and Events: Chilli Half included.

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Brian Ferguson team raises $2.25 million for UWay; wants more – a community is not truly great until it is great for EVERYONE!

By Pepper Parr

 March 3, 2014


 Burlington exceeds its United Way goal by 10% raising a record $2.25 million. There are still a few dollars left to be counted, however, the 2013 United Way campaign announced that the combined total for Hamilton and Burlington was $6.82 million for the  2013 campaign. This was short of the $7 million  goal.  Burlington however exceeded its goal by 10% raising a record setting $2.25 million.  All the money raised in Burlington stays in Burlington.

 The goal for 2014 has yet to be set – that will be done around the May/June timeframe, explains Brian Ferguson the chair of the 2014 campaign, who adds “ we are obviously pushing to do more”.

Newalta and Brian Ferguson, chair of the exceptionally successful 2013 campaign will lead the 2014 campaign.

 Ferguson pulled together a team of cabinet members two weeks ago for a planning session and fleshed out with four main focus areas for 2014

 1. New Business Development:  This division will focus on reaching out to workplaces and networking groups in Burlington who have not supported the United Way to run workplace campaigns or special events.

 2. Current Business Development:  The purpose of this focus area will be to work closely with our current workplace campaigns to encourage them to do more by increasing their payroll deduction participation and sharing their campaign best practices to be shared with other workplaces (new / current).

 3. Special Events:   The purpose of this focus area will be set focused on special events / programs. We already have a 1st ever United Way Burlington golf tournament planned for June 4th at Crosswinds, we will be the headline charity for the Beerfest. This group will also focus on providing presence at local events, partnering with sports / recreations leagues, and running programs like the Art Easel as Coinboxes.

 4. Branding / Awareness:  The purpose of this group is pretty self explanatory. We need to do a better job of creating awareness of the important of the United Way in Burlington and branding it accordingly through social media campaigns and media presence. We may have made history in 2013 but there are many more programs and services we can fund in Burlington  if we raise more money. A community is not truly great, explains Ferguson, until it is great for EVERYONE!

 “We also need to recruit more passionate volunteers to assist in all of these areas. So help spread the word we are looking for good people” asks Ferguson who is lead a fresh group with new ideas and a lot of new energy.  A lot of the old timers, people who have doing the UW campaign because it was one of the things you do, are prepared to see the younger set come in.  Jamie Edwards who has been part of the United Way as long as he can remember said “they are younger legs and they bring a drive I used to have; I’m happy to let them take over.”  Edwards will be around, prepared to make calls but 7:30 campaign meetings are something he might take a pass on.

Tara Brewer on the right is one of the two co-chairs for the 2014 campaign.

The campaign cabinet for 2014 is going to be structurally quite different from what was in place for 2013. “I want to run it like a business where people  have responsibilities and are accountable.  In the past the UW was quite like a networking club that some people used to pad a resume. 

Scott Robinson will serve as co-vice chair of the 2014 United Way campaign.

With the four focal points in place, members of the 2013 team can choose which sector they want to be in. People have been told that if they want to come back – and we hope they do – this is the structure – choose where you want to fit in.

 Rebecca and Jamie West will be running the Hamilton team for 2014.  Brian Ferguson will continue to lead the Burlington side.  He will be supported by Scott Robinson, owner of the Burlington Bandits and Tara Brewer, an MBA graduate who is part of the VMWare human resources team.

Weeks before the 2013 United Way campaign came to an end Brian Ferguson, standing, urges his team to make it happen this year – and they did – a record $2.25 million. Retiring United Way CEO chairman Len Lifchus, centre, looks on proudly.

Ferguson is delighted with the support he gets from Mayor Goldring and is looking forward to some serious involvement from the Economic Development Corporation once it has completed its restructuring.  If the BEDC can get some of the drive Ferguson has shown and come in with numbers as good as his – everyone is going to win.

 Ferguson had a phenomenal year because he created a team and gave them the leadership they wanted.  The personal passion he brought to the job was what rally made the difference.  Ferguson fully understands that a community is not truly great until it is great for EVERYONE!


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Bird house builder Connor Withers thinking of getting into bee houses: Hospital Foundation might benefit again.

By Pepper Parr

March 1, 2014


He’s a normal, little bit on the shy side boy of 8 (9 in September), in grade three with a Mother who teaches and a Dad who manages a restaurant  – and three older sisters.

Soft brown eyes and a quiet smile: Connor Withers, bird house builder.

He’s got soft brown eyes and an artistic streak in him.  He doesn’t avoid eye contact but he doesn’t stare.  When he does look at you his gaze is very direct and there is a quiet sweet smile.

Connor Withers has a business card with his name and title: he is a Bird house builder with the Bird House Foundation, an organization that uses recycled wood to make birdhouses.

First corporate customer – Connor Withers delivers the Voortman Cookie Birdhouse to Harry Voortman.

The bird houses get sold and the funds donated to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation – to date very close to $13,000 has been donated.  Connor and his Dad Tim have a target of $25,000  Getting to that target meant going corporate and that has resulted in some very attractive bird house with corporate logo and designs which go for upwards of $200

Connor is the recipient of a 2013 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award and is the poster boy for the  Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

Connor does a turn at setting up the power saw – power lines are disconnected during his training.

The project started last summer when Connor and his dad collected discarded wood put out for garbage collection along Burlington streets this summer. The pair spent hours together in their workshop turning the refuse into birdhouses.  Connor sold the birdhouses on his front lawn at a sale last July, raising  $200.

The Withers family, Mom Christa, sisters Sydney, Abigail and Meagan, decided the money should be donated to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.  All four children were born at Joseph Brant.

Last week Connor was given Certificate of recognition by Mayor Goldring at a council meeting. The  Mayor told Connor that he didn’t have to stay for the rest of the meeting – the family left the council chamber but on the way home Connor said he would have liked to have stayed for a while.

The Birdhouse Foundation has its own Facebook page with 347 followers  and a slew of pictures – it’s a sort of family scrapbook.

When it was becoming evident that the “business” had taken off help was needed and wood as well.  There are limits on how much scrap wood one can find at the roadside in Burlington. 

Turkstra Lumber offered a load of wood which they delivered to Robert Bateman high school where the students taking shop cut the wood to size to be taken back to the Withers garage where the bird houses were assembled.

Part of the production line – bird houses partially painted.

Swiss Line Industries said they could paint a couple of hundred of the houses – just ship them over and we will paint them for you.  Paint from the RONA recycle bin was used.

Various organizations donated tools and a large number of corporations asked how they could help.  Many bought a bird house, had a corporate design put on it and then off Connor and his Dad would go to deliver the finished product and have pictures taken.

Connor Withers with his dad Tim who teaches his son how to properly use a drill press.

The sports world took part as well – Connor and his dad trucked into Toronto and met just about every one of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey players.

Connor doesn’t seem at all overwhelmed by the attention but what he has seen says his father is the power of what one person can do.  The grade three, French immersion student at Orchard Park elementary school is a thoughtful boy; reflective, whose favourite subjects are art and music.

Christa, who said she manages the household, comments that the project took off so fast.  It started with what was basically a yard sale and just took off – getting the point where more people were needed – and sure enough the neighbours showed up and picked up pieces of sandpaper and helped with the assembly.

The project has become a family event which has Tim spending much more time with his son – “the two of us work together on things and when there is something to be thought through Connor and I do that together.  It wasn’t quite what I expected but the time we spend together is great”, said Tim.

Both parents are also seeing a young boy who is now much more confident.  During the presentation at city hall Connor paused for a moment when the Mayor gave him the certificate of recognition and slowly put his hand out to shake the hand of the Mayor.

Local bird house builder thinking of extending his product line to bee houses

What next?  Well Connor has taken an interest in honey bees and can tell you much more than you really wanted to know about the “orchard mason bee” and thinks this is a product line he would like to pursue.

Would you like your own bird house?  Slip over to Connors Facebookpage – facebook.com/thebirdhousebuilder

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421 of you? That’s it? Pathetic! Response to Insight panel should be a lot higher.

By Pepper Parr

February 28, 2014


The number isn’t nearly high enough – but it is a start.

A couple of months ago the city invested in a service that would result in the creation of a panel of people who would be asked their opinions on a number of critical issues.  It was basically open to anyone who lived in Burlington.

Burlingtonians have opinions – the city manager wants to hear what you think – become part of his Insight panel.

The tool was something the city manager wanted – it is something that operates out of his office.  The politicians can suggest questions that get put to the panel but this is an administrative tool – intended to give the city manager insights on what the people mailing in those property tax cheques think.

As of Feb. 21, 421 people have completed the introductory survey. The city wants people to know more about our Community Insight Panel

Most are long time Burlington residents with 57% having lived here over 20 years, 13% 15-20 years

  • The majority of you are over 31 years of age
  • The majority own their homes
  • Quite evenly split between male and female
  • Several both live and own a business in Burlington

The top three responses to “Why are you interested in being involved in the panel?”

  1. Share Opinions
  2. Influence decisions
  3. Provide Input

A few examples of alternate answers provided by panel members: participate in meaningful engagement with the City, Encourage innovation, participate in the democratic process and to be involved in the community.

Your top five responses to “What matters most to you?”

  1. Parks and public spaces
  2. Property taxes and city spending
  3. Infrastructure for walking, biking and transit
  4. Libraries and recreation facilities
  5. Public safety

383 panel members provided a response to what you like to do in Burlington, and 232 panel members provided a response to what other topics interest you.

Are city council members getting behind this initiative?  Every council member has a data base of people in their ward.  It’s a list of people who have supported them in the past; people who have come to them for some help.

Most Councillors will send out what they call an “e-blast” which is an email that goes out to everyone they have an address for.  Council members also have a Newsletter they send out.

Each council member’s list has to have at least 1000 names on it.  They were asked to send an eblast to their constituents to advise them of the creation of the Insight Burlington panel

My math has 7 members of council with 1000 names each – getting me 7000 names – but all we have is 421 names?  Did the council members really send out an eblast?  We have our name on each of those lists and we don’t recall getting an email from anyone about the creation of the panel.  To be fair some have mentioned the panel in their Newsletters.

Just doesn’t seem that the members of council are fully supporting a tool the city manager has that council members can’t take advantage of – and that is a shame.

If you haven’t already signed on to the panel – take the time to do so now.  Click on the link – and spread the word: Insight Burlington.

Background links:

City manager wants to hear what public thinks.

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How’s your GDP? Turns out we may be measuring the wrong thing. Does it matter? Suzuki thinks it does.

By Pepper Parr

February 28, 2014


My friend Amy Schnurr, Chief Cheese over at Burlington Green, sent me a piece by David Suzuki that made enough sense for me to pass it along.  When we great people, we usually ask them how they are doing.  Ask a business person how they are doing and they might tell you THE GDP is up and that they are part of it.

Suzuki suggests that measuring progress with GDP is a gross mistake

Governments, media and much of the public are preoccupied with the economy. That means demands such as those for recognition of First Nations treaty rights and environmental protection are often seen as impediments to the goal of maintaining economic growth. The gross domestic product has become a sacred indicator of well-being. Ask corporate CEOs and politicians how they did last year and they’ll refer to the rise or fall of the GDP.

It’s a strange way to measure either economic or social well-being. The GDP was developed as a way to estimate economic activity by measuring the value of all transactions for goods and services. But even Simon Kuznets, an American economist and pioneer of national income measurement, warned in 1934 that such measurements say little about the welfare of a nation. He understood there’s more to life than the benefits that come from spending money.

The GDP: It’s complex, it’s seen as a standard – and it might be totally useless.

My wife’s parents have shared our home for 35 years. If we had put them in a care home, the GDP would have grown. In caring for them ourselves we didn’t contribute as much. When my wife left her teaching job at Harvard University to be a full-time volunteer for the David Suzuki Foundation, her GDP contribution fell. Each time we repair and reuse something considered disposable we fail to contribute to the GDP.

To illustrate the GDP’s limitations as an indicator of well-being, suppose a fire breaks out at the Darlington nuclear facility near Toronto and issues a cloud of radioactivity that blows over the city, causing hundreds of cases of radiation sickness. All the ambulances, doctors, medicines and hospital beds will jack up the GDP. And if people die, funeral services, hearses, flowers, gravediggers and lawyers will stimulate GDP growth. In the end, cleaning up the Darlington mess would cost billions and produce a spike in the GDP.

Extreme weather-related events, such as flooding and storms, can also contribute to increases in GDP, as resources are brought in to deal with the mess. Damage done by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added tens of billions to the GDP. If GDP growth is our highest aspiration, we should be praying for more weather catastrophes and oil spills.

The GDP replaced gross national product, which was similar but included international expenditures. In a 1968 speech at the University of Kansas, Robert Kennedy said, Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things …Gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities … and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

We deserve better indicators of societal well-being that extend beyond mere economic growth. Many economists and social scientists are proposing such indicators. Some argue we need a “genuine progress indicator”, which would include environmental and social factors as well as economic wealth. A number of groups, including Friends of the Earth, have suggested an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which would take into account “income inequality, environmental damage, and depletion of environmental assets.” The Kingdom of Bhutan has suggested measuring gross national happiness.

Whatever we come up with, it has to be better than GDP with its absurd emphasis on endless growth on a finite planet.

Thanks for that Amy.

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She’s doing it again: Meed Ward goes after the free parking city hall staff gets – she says it is a taxable benefit.

By Pepper Parr

February 28, 2014


This one will keep those who think municipal civil servants are getting too much of the good stuff very happy.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who chairs the Community and Corporate Services Stranding committee that is currently going through the last phase of recommending the current budget for 2014 plans to bring up a new wrinkle – the tax implications of the free parking the city gives its employees and the liability that could create for the city.

Councillor Meed Ward goes after free city hall parking. Wants the tax rules to be applied.

Meed Ward has a Budget Action Request before he committee that asks that free parking show up as a taxable benefit and be part of the T4 tax slips staff get.  There’s a vote getter if there ever was one.

Meed Ward is suggesting the city might be liable should the Canada Revenue Agency do to Burlington what they’ve already done to Kitchener. The CRA has said free parking is a taxable benefit – Kitchener didn’t treat it as such and the government when after them for the money they didn’t collect from their employees for the free parking they had been given.  Kitchener ended up paying thousands of dollars on behalf of employees to correct this.

There’s a vote getter if there ever was one.Meed Ward wants the city to comply with the CRA rules regarding employee parking and sets out the rules:  “Employer-provided parking is usually a taxable benefit for an employee. The amount of the benefit is based on the fair market value (FMV of the parking, minus any amount the employee pays to use the space. You have to include any GST/HST that applies to the value of this benefit.

There are some exceptions to the taxability of parking:

If the employee has a disability, the parking benefit is generally not taxable, see Disability-related employment benefits.

There is no taxable benefit for an employee when both of the following conditions are met:

You provide parking to your employee for business purposes.

Your employee regularly has to use his or her own automobile or one you usually supply to do his or her duties.  Travel between work and home is not considered travel for business purposes.

Scramble parking is still a benefit to the employee, but in the absence of the ability to accurately assign a value to the benefit because of the random or uncertain nature of it, a benefit is not included in income.

Scramble parking is where there are 35 parking spots and 60 employees who want parking.

Should parking for staff in this lot be free? Councillor Meed Ward wants the benefit to be treated as taxable.

Not scramble parking is when there are enough parking spaces for all employees who want a parking space on a daily basis but it is “unassigned parking”, meaning employees are not assigned to a particular parking space.

Meed Ward has been discussing this matter with Roy Male, the Executive Director of Human Resources, Joan Ford, Director of Finance and Jeff Fielding City Manager all who currently have free parking spots.

 The City Manager will be providing wording for a motion at the March 4th budget meeting for staff to review and address downtown employee parking and the taxable benefit status for union and non-unionized city employees, downtown local board employees and members of Council including implementation issues such as required notifications and other related impacts.

Members of city council are assigned free parking spots right outside city hall.  Meed Ward, who doesn’t think the Mayor should be given a car paid for by the city, advised her colleagues some time ago that she would be refunding the value of the free parking she gets.  It should be noted that Meed Ward lives a few blocks from city hall and tends to walk to work most days.

Background links:

Kitchener gets whacked for taxes not paid on staff parking.

Government rules and regulations on free parking: read them and weep.



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City might be at the edge of a tipping point with economic development plans.

By Pepper Parr

February 28, 2014


Council met as a Committee of the Whole and used a workshop format to listen to the people doing the thinking behind the new economic development organization the city manager thinks should be put in place.

It was a fantastic meeting – we heard some of the smartest people this city has seen sitting at the council chamber horse shoe explaining to council how economic development could be improved.

The direction is to create corporations that will be owned by the city and charged with bringing new companies to Burlington.  City general manager Scott Stewart and Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) board member Pat Sugrue led the explanation while lawyer Charles Keizer  explained the rather intricate collection of corporations that would be formed.  Lest anyone think this was going to be a group of people picking up fat fees it was made very clear that these were going to be very lean organizations with a mandate the improve growth.

Is the city about to begin a process that brings real economic development to town? Do the parking lots offer economic development opportunities and will there be better relationships with the development sector?

Two points came close to jumping off the page.  Gerry Smallgange pointed out that BEDC does not have a “deal maker”; has never had a “deal maker” and that the city has to re-think the way it has zoned its employment lands. City manager Jeff Fielding made the point that the Bronte Creek lands are going to have to be mixed developments if there is ever to be any development on those lands.  He also pointed to the Navistar property at th corner of Guelph Line and Harvester Road and said there was never going to be another operation similar to what is on the site now.

Fielding said the city needs to begin working with Emshie Development to get something on that property – and at the same time find a way to work with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to overcome some of the obstacles as to what can be built in and around the major traffic intersections leading onto the QEW.

It was a two-hour meeting during which some startling opportunities were laid out.  We knew that changes in the structure and purpose of the BEDC were vital – this was the first the public got to see as to how bold these people seem prepared to be.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his seminal book, The Tipping Point, that events build up and can reach a point where a direction can be changed.  Burlington just might be approaching a badly needed tipping point.

Burlington is in one of those awkward situations where much of the developable land is in the hands of a few corporations who are just sitting on it.  Most would like to see their holdings converted from “employment lands” to places where they can build residential housing.

Burlington doesn’t need any more residential housing – it needs new businesses to move to the city – and that hasn’t been happening.  It needs better working relationships with the development sector, it needs better working relationships with the agencies that the city.  In time it will become evident that one of the biggest hurdles the IKEA opportunity on the North Service Road could not overcome was the Conservation Authority.

Add to that some of the near toxic “bad blood” that exists between the Paletta corporation and the city.  General manager Scott Stewart said the city needs to “get the problems of the past behind us” which is going to call for a different approach on the part of both the city’s planning department and the key people at Paletta.

Some time ago the BEDC chose Pat Paletta as the Entrepreneur of the year and hoped that wold be a first step in the “kiss and make up” process that is necessary.  Son Angela Paletta was asked to be the Honorary Chair of the Burlington Community Foundation where he did a superb job and worked the room as well as any politician we’ve seen.

What became very clear during the Committee of the Whole meeting was the need to significantly upgrade the way the BEDC has done business – Pat Sugrue, who ran Fearman’s Pork when it was bought in November 2010 by Sun Capital Partners from Maple Leaf Foods Inc. for $20 million.

Sugre told the meeting that Sun Capital moved very quickly and scooped another off that was on the table because they were able to commit to the deal in seven days and close it within 45 days. Burlington hasn’t see a deal like that in the last century.

Sugre made another important point: municipal people do not, cannot and should not be in the deal making business.  It takes people with skills sets that don’t exist in a municipal environment.

There is a lot more on this story – for the moment the time line the city wants to work to on this is very aggressive they want to have it all wrapped up before the BEDC AGM late in May.

They are going to squeeze some public information sessions in there somewhere.  The Gazette was the only media in the room for this meeting of Council.  We will keep you posted.

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You will learn what the budget total was – when you get your tax bill. Council decided you won’t be able to delegate.

By Pepper Parr

February 27, 2014


Sometime next Tuesday afternoon city council meeting as a Standing committee will recommend the current operating part of the 2014 budget.  Traditionally that recommendation goes to city Council about ten days later for final approval and the tax rate is then set.

Citizens then have an opportunity to delegate before city council and attempt to plead for changes to the budget.

People in Burlington will not have an opportunity to do that this year.  Council voted on Thursday to have the Mayor call a Special Council meeting immediately after the Standing Committee meeting and approve the budget immediately.  There will be no opportunity for the public to delegate because they will not know when the meeting is taking place.

Councillor John Taylor moved a motion on Thursday that the budget be made final at a scheduled council meeting on March 17th.  There was very little debate on the motion and Councillor Taylor wasn’t particularly direct or forceful with his comments.  Councillor Meed Ward was direct; the city manager didn’t seem to care if the date was set back to the March 17th

The vote lost 4-2; Mayor Goldring had left the Standing Committee shortly before the vote.

What is disturbing with the vote is that Council is being very deliberate in not ensuring the public has some opportunity to read about the contents of the budget; go on-line and watch parts of the debate if they wish.  It is almost as if this council has something to hide and at this point we don’t see that as the case.

It is a complex budget; we still don’t know what they plan to do with the $2.6 million 2013 surplus which they call retained savings.  Staff had difficulty getting some critical reports before the Standing Committee on time – which meant the public didn’t get much opportunity to inform themselves.  The transit advocates are close to spitting nickels over what they call the transit shenanigans.

The report on what the snow levels are to be before equipment is put out on the road was late – part of the reason for that was due to snow still falling.

“I don’t want to hear anymore delegations” said Councillor Jack Dennison.

Councillor Dennison said he didn’t want to hear any more debate on spending decisions; Councillor Sharman felt the public had had more than enough opportunity to make themselves aware of what council is doing.  Not quite sure how he arrives at that conclusion when council has yet to make many of the budget decisions.  Councillor Lancaster has never been a big fan of meeting with the public.

The public was given just the one opportunity to look at the budget in an open public meeting when they met at the Art Centre in January. .  At that time people complained that they didn’t see anything before the meeting and that all they were able to do was respond to what was put in front of them.

There were close to 100 people at that January meeting which was held south of the QEW.  Burlington now has a brand new campus in Alton Village where a second public meeting could have been held.  The finance department staff chose not to do so this year but have indicated they will do so next year.

In 2010 Burlington received the Shape Burlington report; a document put together by the late John Boich and former Mayor Walter Mulkewich who were supported by a strong committee that, believe it or not, included Blair Lancaster and Paul Sharman before they were elected to council.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

The Shape Burlington report made it very clear that Burlington suffered from an “information deficit” – the public just didn’t have the information they were entitled to – city hall wasn’t making it available.

When the report got to Council it was unanimously adopted – then apparently forgotten.

An informed public can make informed decisions and given that it is the public’s money that is being sent giving them an opportunity to make themselves fully aware would seem reasonable.

It is sort of like the cashier not letting you see the tape with all your purchases on it but just grabbing your cash and ringing up the sale.

The public is entitled to better treatment and if democracy is to prevail the elected officials should ensure that the public has more than adequate opportunity to inform themselves.

Odd that the four people who voted against giving the public time to review the budget decisions plan to ask the public to re-elect them to office in October.

Background links:

Just the one public meeting on the budget – comments are telling.

Shape Burlington points to “information deficit”.

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Were Quebec a country it would have placed third in medals at the Sochi Olympics – the rest of Canada would have been 6th.

By Ray Rivers

February 27, 2014


 “President Yanukovych has been made illegitimate. It’s very worrying, especially because Russia lost in hockey, they’ll be in a bad mood. We fear Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.  

Trudeau made himself a target for those questioning his maturity for the job of Prime Minister with this inappropriate comment and poor joke, given the tense situation in the Ukraine.  Of course this is exactly what everyone is wondering – the Russian bear in the room– it’s the media has been discussing ever  since the Ukraine went into crisis mode.  

And not everyone was offended by the remark.  For example, the Russian ambassador to Canada, Mr. Mamedov, during an interview told the media, “I’m turning serious, because I know you don’t appreciate jokes. But Trudeau should not have linked Russian military action to the Olympic games – the games of peace. And Canada did make a spectacular showing at Sochi, ten golds including back-to-back hockey and curling. 

The Dufour-Lapoine women at the Olympics.

A lot of money has been devoted to preparing athletes for the Olympics and it clearly has paid off.  The Harper government has been throwing something like $150 million into the pot, Ontario another twenty million or so, and Quebec even more.  Ontario had 63 Olympians competing, Alberta was right behind with 55,and B.C. fielded 30.  But forty percent of all the athletes came from Quebec, prompting one news medium, reflecting on early returns (9 medals), to speculate that were Quebec a separate nation it would have placed third and the rest of Canada sixth.

The federal Liberal party held its biennial policy conference in Montreal last weekend and Justin Trudeau delivered an upbeat speech – including better jokes.  One session involved the three eastern Liberal premiers and provincial party leaders from New Brunswick and Newfoundland.  Kathleen Wynne spoke passionately and sincerely about the need for nation-building by the federal government.  She complained about the frustrations of trying to work with a senior level of government which refuses to consult the provinces and acts unilaterally on issues which affect them, including job training, health care, education, pensions and infrastructure.

Most impressive of the panelists was the fluently bi-lingual and articulate would-be premier from New Brunswick, Brian Gallant, as he switched between English and French with more ease than anyone Ive ever witnessed before.  I couldnt help wondering how different things would be in this nation if we could all communicate like that.   It was some 19 years ago when Quebecers came close to a yes vote for sovereignty in that last referendum.  And we know there is another one down the road, once Premier Marois wins the next provincial election this year.

I recall that last referendum.  My daughter and a close friend skipped school to train down to Montreal and join the throngs pledging their love for Quebec as a part of Canada.  I have rarely been more proud of her.   And it was her and all the others across the country professing their love for the people of ‘la belle province that, I believe, convinced those last-minute Quebec voters to scratch their check marks for Canada, even as the Chretien government was sleep-walking through it all.

A massive Canadian flag was passed hand over hand amongst a huge crowd in Montreal days before the citizens of Quebec voted in their referendum to remain a part of Canada.

It was a race of Olympic proportions and Canada won by a squeaker – but the separatists demonstrated their competitive ability, not unlike Quebecers in the Olympics.  Come the next referendum we can expect the separatists to be even more competitive.  This will be a provincial government which has learned from two earlier failed attempts, and a federal administration which, like Chretiens, doesnt want or know how to get engaged. 

René Lévesque had always planned to hold his 1980 referendum while Joe Clark, with only 4 seats was in power, but Trudeau the elder came back with majority support in Quebec and trounced him.  One could surmise that Jean Chretiens modest support in the province (about a quarter of the federal seats) contributed to the near loss by the forces of unity in 1995.

Pauline Marois would love to run her referendum while Mr. Harper is in power, given that he has no more political support in the province than Joe Clark did back then.   If she waits until the election she might end up fighting the Quebec-popular NDP; still a federalist party though one promising an easy sovereignty exit with 50-plus-one percent Yes; vote.   The federalist Liberals appear strong in todays polls but winning nationally, and winning in Quebec, is still a crap shoot at this point.  Then there are the Tories, who might just get re-elected but are unlikely to improve their Quebec numbers.

Today, as we watch the Ukraine struggle with nation-building amidst threats of secession from minority regions it behooves us to contemplate how a successful Yesvote on sovereignty would play out back here.   It is true that Quebec is a net recipient of equalization and some other economic benefits for being part of Canada.  However, we should remember that the financially crippled Ukrainian people rejected the huge Russian multimillion dollar bailout, and expect a similar response from Quebec. 

It will be instructive to watch how Scotland votes on its independence referendum this coming June.  The pundits are betting the Scots will vote No, but then this is only their first referendum.

Is this the kiss goodbye from a Quebecers or just a happy Olympian who happens to be from Quebec?   Charle Cournoyer of Canada celebrating his Bronze medal win in the men’s 500 metre short track speed skating event on February 22, 2014 at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Quebecers are a passionate lot, something they clearly demonstrated at Sochi, even under the Canada banner.  The next referendum will not be played out on the pocket books of Quebecers, it will be won by what is in their hearts.  A dis-interested, almost hostile, federal government is exactly what the separatists are hoping for – and that is what they are getting.

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


 Additional information links:

Trudeaus Joke

Reaction     Russian Worries      Apology      Sochi Olympics    Own the Podium  Quebec Athletes

Early Medals    Trudeau Speech in Montreal     Quebec Anglophones   Liberal Premiers

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Premier Wynne needs to put the “fair” part of the minimum wage act into the document – $11. an hour is not fair.

By Pepper Parr

February 27, 2014


Got an email from Yasir Naqvi, an Ontario Liberal party MPP who told me he was proud to stand with Premier Wynne when she announced the government was increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour on June 1st of this year. 

The government introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act in the Legislature which is apparently going to tie all future increases to inflation because it will create consistency for businesses and Ontario workers.

While the increase is certainly welcome – why is the province being so cheap.  A household hasn’t a chance of getting out of poverty at $11 an hour.  Indexing that amount to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) assures society that those below the poverty line will always be there.

The increase to $11 an hour in June is fine.  Now take it up to $12 in a year, then to $13 a year after that and then to $14 a year after then THEN index the amount to the CPI.

Naqvi assures us that “businesses, labour groups, youth and workers support our legislation because they helped shape it: the Minimum Wage Panel was made up of all these stakeholders. They held province-wide consultations, received over 400 submissions, and brought forward unanimous recommendations that we are acting on.”

I’ve yet to meet anyone earning a minimum wage tell me that they are happy with this increase and the indexing.

MPP Naqvi points out that “the New Democrats ignored the Minimum wage panel and were silent on minimum wage—in the House, the media, and the by-elections. After a year of ducking, it’s too late for the NDP to try and be leaders. They need to do the right thing and support our plan.”

“Between the NDP’s flip-flopping and the PC’s radical ideas, we know the opposition will try to stall, so we need your help to pass this legislation.”

That’s just so much politicking – shame on the Ontario Liberals for doing this on the backs of the poor people.

“The Liberal plan for jobs is practical and it’s realistic” says MPP Naqvi. “Together”, he adds “ we are building a fairer, more prosperous Ontario.

There is no fairness in this act and at $11 an hour there is no prosperity for people earning a minimum wage.

Revise the bill Madame Premier make it really fair and decent.

Pepper Parr is a lifelong Liberal who has voted for every federal Liberal leader as far back as Louis St. Laurent.  He has served as the president of Liberal Party Associations on more than one occasion. He is the publisher of the Burlington Gazette and expect to tell the Premier that her that the “fair”of the minimum wage act just is missing.  She can fix that.

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Province to pony up some real coin to pay for that power outage; citizens get a chance to hug a hydro worker.

By Pepper Parr

February 26, 2014


We’re in the money,
We’re in the money;
We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!
The bean counters at city hall are just singing the praises of the provincial government with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announcement today that the province will help affected municipalities, including Burlington, recover some of the costs of the December 2013 ice storm.

“I’m pleased that the provincial government has responded to the GTHA Mayors request for assistance to deal with ice storm recovery and costs,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “The ice storm was a catastrophic event for municipalities and we are still cleaning up.”

The city, like other municipalities, will wait for the details of the one-time Ice Storm Assistance Program to understand what costs will be covered. Burlington has asked for help in recovering $1.8 million in short-term costs related to the ice storm.

City Manager Jeff Fielding points out that the province is looking at reimbursing affected municipalities up to $190 million in eligible costs.   “This gives the city hope in recovering some or all of our unexpected expenses.”

The December 2013 ice storm caused widespread damage and blackouts across southern, western and eastern Ontario. At the peak of the ice storm, more than 800,000 hydro customers were without power.

It was brutal for those living north of Dundas. And it cost the city well over $1 million to get things back to where they were.

In Burlington, 7,500 homes were without power for various lengths of time beginning Dec. 21. Power was restored quickly to the urban areas of the city, but in the rural area, north of Dundas Street, 1,000 homes remained without power on Dec. 22, with power being restored to pockets of homes until Dec. 27. The city activated its emergency operations centre, responded with warming stations and continuously communicated updates to residents to help ensure their safety.

“City of Burlington staff, including firefighters, went beyond the call of duty to help residents in Burlington return their lives to normal during icy conditions and power outages,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of Development and Infrastructure.

Burlington is going to “share the love” for the hydro workers, the EMS people and the fire fighters that spent a large portion of their Christmas day out trimming limbs from trees and re-stringing hydro lines.  A public event to “hug the troops” will take place  Tuesday, March 4, 2014–6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kilbride Public School, 6611 Panton St., Gymnasium.  There will be speeches.

Background links

Hydro crews close to restoring all power.

City polishes its tin cup – asks the province for a handout.

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