Aldershot High students win $250. prize for the school’s Eco Club; Serve as Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON., November. 18, 2011 – Two students at Burlington’s Aldershot High School convinced nearly half the student body to commit to finding an alternate, environmentally friendly mode of transportation to school on International World Car Free Day, which was last  September  22. That effort won their school’s Eco-Club, a $250 prize from Burlington Transit’s Youth Ambassador (BT YA) program.

Carolyn McLarty (Guidance Counsellor at Aldershot High), BT YAs Kayla Peters and Billi Krochuk, and BT’s Sandra Maxwell

Kayla Peters and Billi  Krochuk are Burlington Transits’ Young Ambassadors at Aldershot High. Their efforts, through BT YA’s Green Monster campaign, resulted in more than 300 students and staff finding eco-friendly transportation to school on September 22,  including walking, cycling and taking the bus.

Burlington Transit has ambassadors in several Burlington high schools competing for the $250 prize.

“All the YAs put on great efforts,” said BT’s marketing co-ordinator Sandra Maxwell, “but Kayla and Billi ran a great campaign with great results.”

The program, in partnership with BurlingtonGreen, was launched this fall and encourages students to spread the word that public transit and other forms of environmentally friendly transportation are key to preserving the environment for future generations.

“It’s inspiring to see young people embrace environmental challenges in such a positive way,” said BT director Donna Shepherd. “This group of young leaders will help keep Burlington green and sustainable in the future. We expect this program to grow considerably in the next few years.”

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City Solicitor’s dance card filling up – Council to hear legal strategy December 14th ; will she ask Council to go into closed session?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON November 16, 2011 – It was a Community Services Committee meeting; that meant Scott Stewart was on deck and that meant an Update on The Pier. It was short – less than 50 words actually – which meant there was nothing really happening and Stewart suggested that perhaps Pier Updates could be dispensed with.  ‘Not so fast laddie’ was the response he got to that idea.  Councillor Dennison said there “was significant enough concern” in the community and that putting out the report lets people “at least know there is something going on”.  Meed Ward chimed in saying she was supportive of continuing the updates at every second Community  Services meeting. “It is not a lack of trust” commented Meed Ward. “Things do happen, things did happen.  This is a prudent course.”

Then Meed Ward upped the ante a bit and asked when there might be some information on how much money has been spent on lawyers and what the legal strategy was going to be regarding the Pier going forward.

Stewart, along with Acting City Manager Kim Philips, advised the committee they could expect something at the December 14th committee meeting.  Meed Ward wanted more than an ‘expect something’ but the best she could get was that there would be some material on what the strategy should be on releasing information about legal costs but there would be no numbers.

General Manager Scott Stewart on the left and Councillor Meed Ward second from the right (Helen Wallihura in the middle) This is not the last time Meed Ward will be using hand gestures to communicate with Stewart.

Meed Ward and Stewart bantered back and forth on what exactly the committee was going to get.  “All expenses on the Pier” asked Meed Ward – “No,”, responded Scott Stewart. ” there will be an overview and discussion around a strategy then discussion around the costs.”  It was like pulling teeth from a hen.  It was clear that staff really didn’t want to talk about this and equally clear that Meed Ward did want to talk about how much money had been spent suing the various parties that were involved with the building of the Pier during what is now called Phase 1.

Staff kept talking about looking for a strategy within which they could then release specific financial data on the Pier.  How much are you prepared to bet that much of this “strategy” stuff will get discussed in closed session?

One got the sense that staff (city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol was not at the meeting) wanted to say as little as possible but that cat was out of the bag and Meed Ward wasn’t going to put it back in.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison made an important point when he advised the committee Wednesday evening, that Burlington has not been involved in any construction related litigation in more than 17 years – which made the announced attendance of city solicitor Nancy Shea-Nicol at a December 14th committee meeting all the more interesting because the city now has law suits being pressed on a number of corporations that were involved in the design and phase one construction of  The Pier.

The city has brought in outside legal counsel – understood to be Weir & Foulds, a Toronto law firm that has been a leader in municipal matters, advising on every step they take.  The city has also had a law firm overseeing the procurement of material for the second phase of The Pier.  Ms Shea-Nicol must spend the better part of a day each month approving invoices that several members of council are just itching to know what the total amount is on the invoice.

Councillor Meed Ward made The Pier an election issue during her campaign for public office and she now wants to know just how much the city has spent on legal services.  She had wanted the city to go back to the original contractor and work out the problems with Henry Schilthuis and Sons, (HSS) but the city decided not to “kiss and make up” nor did they like the look of the offer Schilthuis insurance company put on the table.

The real legal issue that is costing the city a small fortune is these steel beams which were found to be defective after a crane accident during phase 1 construction. Councillor Meed Ward wants to know how much the city has spent on legal costs and the city solicitor doesn't want to tell her - yet.

The completion of the Pier, for an additional $5.8 million, is now in the hands of Graham Infrastructure, who now have a construction trailer on the site and may soon begin removing all the deficient steel that is in place and have things ready for the new ‘up to spec’ steel that will be available sometime in the spring.

Shea-Nicol, the Director of Legal Services as well as Solicitor for the city and was once a planner who, in the words of the city’s Director of Planning Bruce Kruszelnicki, moved to the “dark side” and took on “robes” which are not made of silk but perhaps that honour will come her way in the future.  She certainly understands the need for a strategy but does tend to keep every scrap of information that crosses her desk tucked into a drawer or a brief case she locks.  The idea that a public has to be informed if they are to make responsible decisions seems to evade her.  The view seems to be that ‘we the lawyers know best’ which is fine but there is an obligation to let your client know what you are doing and why – and the client is the city council but is not just the city council. The people who pay the taxes have a big interest in all this.

In the meantime Shea-Nicol will battle with council and say as little as possible until she is absolutely certain the city has kept its powder dry and is ready to negotiate the best possible settlement for the city.  Let’s just hope the parties on the other side don’t come across anything during the ‘examination for discovery’ sessions that could jeopardize the city’s claim.

While the Director of Legal Services will put forth a strategy which council will debate – it is the city council that decides what it wants to do – yes of course with advice from the legal counsel, but one would hope that common sense would prevail and that respect for the taxpayers would be top of mind.

This council has a tendency to believe that everything their lawyers tell them is exactly what they should be doing – and that is not responsible local government by any stretch of the imagination.  A council has an obligation to fully inform its citizens and to call to account in-house lawyers who might be in thrall to colleagues who are with large prestigious firms in Toronto. Burlington’s city council has kept information on the cost of this legal mess from the public for far too long.


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Here’s one for you –you won’t believe it – a photo-op at a traffic intersection. Your tax dollars at work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 17, 2011 Halton Region is inviting the media to a photo opportunity of Halton dignitaries at Halton Region’s first multi-lane roundabout at Tremaine Road (Regional Road 22) and Main Street in Milton to celebrate the completion of the Tremaine Road widening.


Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Labour and MP (Halton) and the Mayor of Milton, Gord Krantz, will be available for photos and interviews.

Designed to improve the flow of traffic - but is it worth holding a photo - op for?

Can you believe that these people are all going to show up at a traffic intersection  to have their pictures taken and be interviewed about a road?

They are going to do this Friday afternoon – other than their first born and their Mother’s – who else will be on hand for this stellar event ?

Regional Chair Carr tasting honey on a farm tour - better use of his time than getting his picture taken at a traffic intersection. Must have been a slow day at the office.

Surely they have something better to do.  If Friday is a slow news day someone might manage to get lost and actually get to the intersection and “marvel”  at a traffic intersection.  If the Regional Chair were offering a reception at the Regional Museum just up the road it might get a little coverage; news people are notorious for showing up at an event where the food is free and a bar that just might be open.

It appears that politicians are also notorious for doing whatever it takes to get their pictures in the paper.

The only newsworthy aspect of the event is that the round-about they want to have their pictures taken at was paid for with federal Infrastructure Stimulus Funding, of which Halton Region received $10.6 million towards the $16 million project that included the widening of Tremaine Road to four lanes, installing a water main and creating the Region’s first multi-lane roundabout.

The widening of Tremaine Road will improve the efficiency of Halton’s transportation network and maintain the safety of residents. This project provides the critical infrastructure and capacity in the road network for surrounding residential and employment lands in the rapidly expanding areas of central and west Milton.



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A tag day for Burlington – not Sea Cadets selling you a tag at the mall – the Region will ask for $1 – maybe more to take garbage.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 16, 2011   The Region is responsible for garbage and waste collection and is going to introduce a tag day – and it isn’t what you might think it is. More of your tax dollars go to the Region than the city but that’s another story.


On Wednesday, November 16, Regional Council approved Halton’s new Solid Waste Management Strategy which will guide Regional waste management programs towards the goal of achieving a 65 per cent waste diversion rate by the year 2016.

While there are six to the strategy the one that is going to catch you eye is the requirement at some point in the future to put a tag on the fourth bag of garbage you put out.  Fun, fun this one – so let’s cut to that chase right away.

The face of things to come - Region approves policy that includes tags for garbage bags that go over the limit.

Word is that you will be able to buy the things in shheets of ten. We suggest having school crossing guards seol the things as a side line..

This is going to be the tough one.  No word on quite when this will get introduced, exactly how much the tags will cost or where you will go to buy the things.  The municipalities are clearly going to have to be part of this – no one is going to drive to Bronte Road for a couple of $1. garbage bag tags.

So how will I get a tag?  Might have to trot down to city hall – oops they close pretty early and they aren’t open on the weekends.

Maybe I can call my council member.  He might have a stash in his desk drawer.  Maybe they will attach a tag or two to their campaign literature – Dennison (my council member) will get my vote for that courtesy.

Retailers won’t want to have anything to do with them but school crossing guards could set up a side line by keeping a pocketful of garbage tags and marking them up by 25 per cent – worth the extra quarter for me – because you know the day you need one of the things – you won’t be able to find it in the kitchen drawer, and it will provide a little extra spending money for the crossing guard.

Can’t ask the neighbour if he has one to spare; haven’t returned the Skill saw he loaned you a month ago because you broke the thing.

One of the more than a dozen Communication specialists employed by the Region advised me that with the policy now approved the thinkers in the garbage collection department will put their minds to this one and come back with rules and regulations that will guide us all.

These things take time to get put together – the bureaucrats should though be able to have it figured out by – say the summer of 2014, which is when you get to re-elect the rascals that gather around the city council table.  There you go – an election issue.

Back to the actual strategy:

Halton Region began a public engagement process this past spring asking residents for their feedback on eleven potential waste diversion initiatives included in the Region’s Draft Solid Waste Management Strategy.  The process included four open houses and a phone and web survey to make it easy for residents to provide feedback and have their say on the proposed initiatives.

“The previous 2006 to 2010 Solid Waste Management Strategy guided Halton Region through significant curbside program changes including the introduction of the GreenCart and weekly Blue Box collection which has led to single family homes diverting 60 per cent of their waste. According to Ontario benchmarking, Halton has the highest waste diversion rate in the province,” said Gary Carr, Halton’s Regional Chair. “By approving this new Solid Waste Strategy, Regional Council is continuing to support Halton as a provincial waste diversion leader in order to work towards a new waste diversion goal of 65 per cent.”

They don`t want to take more than three bags of your garbage - more than that and you will need a tag - that you will have to purchase.

Resident feedback from the public engagement process supported achieving the new waste diversion goal of 65 per cent through the implementation of six key initiatives from the Draft Strategy.  These initiatives have now been approved by Regional Council and will be put into place over the next five years.

1:         Enhance promotion, education and outreach – increased promotion and education strategies include using social media, developing multi-media tools, developing a waste-less campaign and reaching diverse communities.

The Region believes that by educating citizens they will get a better buy in to the changes they need to make in the way they manage waste in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and the communities in Halton Hills

2. Enhance textile communications – expansion of existing textile diversion options for material such as clothing to capture more of this available material.

3. Enhance multi-residential waste diversion – enhancing Blue Bin recycling program and introducing GreenCart composting in multi-residential apartment buildings, engaging multi-residential community ambassadors and developing tenant/landlord recycling pledges.

4. Expand special waste drop-off events – introduce special waste drop-off days in areas not conveniently accessible to a current drop-off centre such as the Halton Waste Management Site.

5. Expand Blue Box materials and enhance Blue Box capacity – expand the list of eligible Blue Box materials to include additional items.

6. Decrease garbage bag limit and introduce bag tags – decrease the garbage limit to three bags/cans of garbage every other week.  In order to place more than three bags/cans of garbage at the curb, residents would need to buy “bag tags” which typically cost $1 to $2 in other municipalities with similar programs.

It is important to note that 80 per cent of all houses currently place three bags or less of garbage at the curb.

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It took longer than expected and it will take even longer to get to like them but the orchids have been planted.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 14, 20111  Have you ever had one of those days where you were probably better off just staying in bed?  That was sort of the situation with the unveiling of the “orchids” that were set up on Upper Middle Road immediately to the west of the railway underpass west of Appleby, which is a part of Burlington that is coming together quite nicely with all kinds of construction on Appleby Line.

There was to be a formal setting up of three large metal orchards which were part of a “public art” program.  These three orchards had a price tag of just over $100,000.  But that wasn’t the funny part.

Orchids being `planted`on Upper Middle Road west of Appleby Line.

They were originally to go up on November 9, but that date got pushed back to the 14th – Media were told there were some “transportation” issues.  These things happens.  The event was to take place at 1:00 pm and a collection of city councillors and staff were on hand to have their pictures taken with these three six-metre tall bronze and stainless steel sculptured orchids. Interesting bit of art and a lot more understandable than whatever it is they call it outside the Burlington Art Centre.

Councillor Sharman, with wrench in hand looks at the bolt holes - which weren`t quite large enough for the bolts. Ooops!

On November 14th, the “orchids” were carefully taken off the trucks that were transporting them.  The city had placed concrete pads in the ground with sturdy bolds that would keep the pieces upright and in place.  We were told later that the bolts were 25 mm wide and that there were eight of the things for each orchid.  It all looked pretty solid – however, when it came time to set the orchids on their bases – guess what? The holes in the base of the orchid that the bolts were to go through was only 20 mm wide.  Ooops!

Someone had to get a drill real fast and make those hole bigger – easier said than done.  The plates at the base of the orchids were more than an inch of steel thick.  This was not going to be easy.  But whoever was doing the actual work got it done – not all of it – but enough for the pictures to be taken and the first of the orchids went up and the photo-op types went back to their offices.

The three six-metre tall bronze and stainless steel orchids, painted in bright colours are installed near the underpass on Upper Middle Road.  One can understand the intention, but the orchids are just a little difficult to appreciate by people driving their cars and there isn’t much in the way of pedestrian traffic in that part of town.  A driver is on a road that dips down to go under the rail line and there really isn’t time to look up and appreciate the public art.

The intention was good – the placement of the art – not so good.  Getting the art from Cork Ireland, where they were made, was almost as awkward as installing the art on Upper Middle Road.

Art and a community is never easy.  There are still people in Toronto who don’t like the Moore sculptures in their city hall square.  Art is very personal – it soothes or challenges your sense of taste – and is often confrontational and challenging; that’s what art is supposed to do.

Burlington engaged a company in London Ontario to handle the selection of an artist, thus getting the decision out of local hands, where there would have been all kinds of pressure for someone local.  That was a good move and some informed, sophisticated people were involved in that process which went very well.

Burlington did all the right things with this project.  They went international when looking for artists, and when the jury selected someone from Ireland, there was the expected noise from local people about not giving our own people a chance.  Our own people do quite well internationally, thank you.

The work, done by Alex Pentek of Cork Ireland who won the competition over 50 other entrants, was more than a year in the making.

In 2010, artists from across Canada and other countries submitted Expressions of Interest to design public art to complement the Upper Middle Road median between Appleby and Walker’s lines.

Proposals were reviewed by an independent public art jury — which included practicing arts professionals and representatives from the local community. The city allocated $100,000, plus consulting fees, for the city’s first public art project meant to complement the Upper Middle Road grade separation — a $15.4 million project completed earlier this year.

This design was shortlisted in an international competition for a landmark public sculpture overlooking Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia. While not selected, this idea gained an underground following with its own anonymous web site:

The Expression of Interest, or the call to artists, was advertised in several forums, including: the Community Planners, Inc.’s and City of Burlington’s websites; an e-mail sent by the Burlington Art Centre to all of its members; paid advertisements in Akimbo, a professional artists website, and the Burlington Post; requests to other Burlington arts organizations and Oakville’s and Mississauga’s arts councils to notify artists; as well as word of mouth.

One can understand why the jury looking into the work of the 50 artists that sent in submission to the Expression of Interest were excited when they saw the work of Alex Pentek.   The artist has an international following and has done some hugely imaginative work that is quite exciting.  Burlington just might become one of the few places in the world that has a “Pentek” .

The city budgeted $100,000 for the public artwork — which included the artist’s travel and accommodation in Burlington — is part of the $15.8-million project budget for the construction of the Upper Middle Road underpass.   The commissioning of public art for Upper Middle Road is part of the city’s Public Art Master Plan of which the rather smart looking bicycle racks scattered throughout the city are also a part.  Mostly local people did that work.

Beating out nearly 50 artists in Canada and internationally in a city-run art contest, the Cork, Ireland resident says he came across the project on the professional artist website Akimbo while in the process for looking for work internationally.

Pentek has been making large-scale and site-specific sculptures for 15 years and his works have ranged from a six-metre tall illuminated sculpture of a dandelion made from bronze and fibre optic cable to a 12-ton steel hedgehog — Orchids is his first Canadian-featured piece.

Once the pieces were completed and ready (earlier in October), they were transported in shipping crates from Cork to Antwerp in Belgium and then to Halifax, N.S. From there, they were sent to Brampton by train and eventually Burlington by truck, arriving last Friday (Nov. 11).  Needing a day to inspect the pieces, Pentek oversaw the final installation of the three orchids..

When asked what he thought of Burlington, Pentek said he was happy to see a level of art appreciation in the community.  “Coming from the outside, I see a very interesting community keen on preserving cultural heritage and encouraging the arts,” he said.

When news of the orchid sculptures was first released by the city last year and its selection of an international artist, several residents sent letters and comments to the Post explaining their frustration over the city not featuring a local artist for the project.

But Riley says residents have it all wrong. “I like the piece for its concept and its historical and geographical significance,” said Riley. “It goes beyond the mundane and it’s an excellent piece for Burlington.”

“It’s important to not only have local artists featured in our city, but we need to bring international artists here too,” he explained. “Not only will it diversify our culture, but it will also encourage our artists to go outside of our area and be recognized internationally — this is a key point our community doesn’t understand. It’s important for our artists to expand.”

Andrea Halwa, vice-president and cultural manager of the London, Ont.-based firm Community Planners Inc., was hired by the city to plan and implement the underpass art project  as well as oversee the artist selection process.  She has been the executive director for the London Arts Council for more than eight years, overseeing the administration of London’s community arts investments and public art programs.

The Photo Op - Artist Alex Pentek on the left, displays a portion of the Orchid to Councillors Sharman and Lancaster

She lists her extensive arts experience to include being “a professional member” of Americans for Arts and its National Public Art Network, as well as a loose knit group of public art managers across Canada.  Halwa also has a teaching position within the arts management program at the University of Western Ontario.

It was this experience, Halwa says, that drew the interest of the Burlington-based Carrie Brooks-Joiner and Associates to contact her to act as an associate for developing the Burlington Public Arts Master Plan — and eventually why the city selected her to oversee the jury and artist selection process.

The jury consisted of Wayne Moore and Deborah Pearce, Ward 6 resident Scott Arbuckle and Brian Meehan, executive director and chief curator of Museum London in London, Ont.

When asked how the process worked, Director of Burlington  Parks and Recreation, Chris Glenn,  explained that “in this case Community Planners Inc., would have been charged with the selection process, which would have used a level of consultation from our staff, a member who was connected (to the project) at that time… they have since moved on,” Glenn said. “They would have had a dialogue with respect to number and type of person/artist that we would need with a certain skill set to align with the type of work in mind and… a bit of knowledge base of Burlington. They would then start to go through a process, to find some people and ask them to volunteer on the jury… in this case we were looking for someone with experience in bigger structures.”

We have cribbed extensively from the Burlington Post for this piece and want to include portions of an editorial they ran.


There was a lot of noise about the delays and the process that was used to select the artist – that’s all part of what a community is.  Not possible to keep everyone happy.  One of the local media certainly wasn’t happy with the choice of artist and let their provincialism show when in an editorial they said:

Surely we had a skilled sculptor living in Burlington who could have produced something as equally spectacular. If no one in Burlington was capable of taking up the challenge are we to believe that Canada does not have an artist talented enough to spearhead a special creation? But, no, our tax money was spent outside of the country.

Heck, we apparently don’t even have the expertise to set the art selection process in motion. That $20,000 job went to a London, Ont. company.

We know that art has no geographic boundaries. However, the city could have stressed the artwork must be made in Canada. What’s wrong with that?

Well just what is wrong with that?  It is a very provincial outlook and not what the art world is all about.  A number of Burlington artists are recognized world-wide and Burlington has, with the installation of the orchids recognized a world class artist.

Halwa made an important point when she said of the kerfuffle in local media: “It’s interesting, we have a very good working relationship with the media and our process for these types of programs is really transparent; I really hope that Burlington has adopted the approach for other public art projects as every project is going to have an artist that feels it should have been “his” project or “her” project or they could have done a better job, etc. The process we use has the jury making the decision and the jury is a mix of community folks, artists, arts administrators, etc. so it is not a process that can really be tampered with. Alas, ‘can’t win ’em all’ really applies here.”

The public got to here from the artist when Pentek spoke at the Burlington Art Centre about his work where he explained the importance of having public art that is unique and meaningful to Burlington during a recent meet-and-greet at the city’s art centre last Sunday.

“With a practice focused on making large-scale commissioned work over the past 15 years, as well as temporary gallery-based work, I’m very excited to work on a project that can create a sense of community through a legacy of shared experience,” Pentek said in an interview at the Burlington Art Centre, where he presented his design of three six-metre tall bronze and stainless steel orchid sculptures.

During his presentation to a room of nearly 20 people, the Irish artist did admit coming up with a design for the project had challenged him a bit.

Pentek, the winner of the Burlington public art competition has always focused on outdoor work. An example of one of his pieces is shown above.

“For one I couldn’t get great images of the site and number two, I have to admit, the site really didn’t inspire me,” he said. “The infrastructure was fully functional, but something had to go in here to lift it up.”

That’s why Pentek says he decided to go for a more colourful and realistic look to his orchids as opposed to a more metallic design.

“It would have been easier to work in monochrome, single-tone structures, but I felt that given where it’s going and the concrete around, the pieces needed to lift the area with vibrant colours,” he said.

The design for Pentek’s Orchids was loosely based on his previous successful work on the illuminated dandelion he did in Cork, he says, which used bronze and fibre optic cables.

Pentek researched various orchids from Burlington’s horticultural history and during a 2010-trip to Burlington, Pentek met with a Royal Botanical Gardens team to view pressed and refrigerated samples of flowers, as well as meet artist Georgian Guenther to view her smaller representations of orchids.

He finally settled on three orchids that were once native to Burlington, including the Cypripedium acaule, commonly known as Pink Lady’s Slipper, Arethusa bulbosa (Dragon’s Mouth), and Triphora trianthophora (Three Birds).

“It has been my aim to create this site specific work by celebrating the rich natural heritage of the local area through the diversity and delicacy of these wild orchids whose stillness and organic forms will visually complement the surrounding rail and road traffic infrastructure in an uplifting and light-hearted way,” Pentek said.

Civic officials and politicians gather around the $100,000 piece of public art. Can you name all of the usual suspects. The artist in the center holds the large wrench used to tighten the nuts on the bolts once the holes for the bolts were enlarged.

Totaling six pieces, the orchid structures are made up of three bronze stems sealed with beeswax and three bulbs/flower tops.

Although the pieces are weather protected, Pentek says the stems may have to be touched up every year or so. The flower tops are painted with urethane paint, a strong, robust outdoor paint — which have been supplied to the city by the artist for any future touch-ups — and covered with a polyurea protective coating that Pentek says should withhold Canadian winters.

“I did not want to have them lacquered (a clear or coloured varnish) because if there was the slightest bit of movement, the paint on the pieces would crack,” he explained.

Pentek went on to assure his audience that the fibre optic and low-cost, low-maintenance LED lighting worked into the construction of the orchids will be more a subtle accent to the surrounding street lighting at night, rather than a distraction to drivers.

“It won’t be strong enough to illuminate the street on its own,” he said. “As you’re walking you’ll clearly see them lit, but you won’t be dazzled by them when driving.”

Pentek has been practicing as a full time artist both nationally and internationally since he graduated from the Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork, Ireland in 1996. He has focused on creating large scale site specific work, and has also made temporary gallery based works in paper and sound performances.


Public art can be astonishingly attractive. This piece, done by Pentek is an example of his work. Burlington`s Orchids, will in time become part of the local scene.

“I like to stay abreast of current scientific and mathematical theories, and elements of these inform my working practice on a practical and philosophical level. The study of light through Holography is an area of particular interest to me where information about the ‘whole’ is contained within each smaller ’part’ encoded by laser light interference patterns.  I am also interested in the question of the emergence of life in Earth‘s early oceans, where complex systems achieved order not through top down commands but through a bottom up grass roots level of interaction. (Similar ‘passive dynamic’ systems can also be found working in today’s communities in the natural world, from ant colonies to the formation of modern cities).  I enjoy exploring these holistic and interactive ideas, which are relevant to the relationship between ‘self’ and the surrounding ‘community’ and World in which we live.

“While the ideas behind each work vary greatly, the work is interpreted just as differently and validly by all who experience it. It is my aim to create openly challenging and engaging work that not only explores different themes and ideas but that also communicates on a more primary visual level.”

The key word there is “challenging”; that is what art is all about.  Artists bring what is possible to us; they force us to look at things differently and while that may make us a bit uncomfortable it also enriches the mind and the spirit.

Not all of Pentek`s work is displayed outdoors. This paper mobile has an evocative look and feel to it.

“As I mainly make large scale permanent work, the processes behind realizing any project are an important part of the work.  Using my own set of skills as an artist where possible (such as drawing and sculpting / casting in various materials); I enjoy the challenge of working to a large scale by drawing on the skills and expertise of architects, engineers and fabricators to realize a project. Also, often introducing an idea to the local community through public consultation, communication and people skills become important to the success of a project as well as expertise in the finished material of the work itself.”

Our Mayor, in his press release said: “Burlington is an innovative and progressive community, built upon a strong sense of community pride. Public art projects like Orchids help give shape to that pride. We’re excited to see such an impressive art project come to life.”

The public chatter overt the Orchids just might move The Pier off the front pages for the Pier will eventually get built band it will be loved by all – but those orchids will stick in the craw of many for a long time.  Fortunately the artist lives in Ireland and he won’t have to put up with all the noise.  The Mayor makes an important point when he says public art helps give shape to who we are – it also draws out comment that – well perhaps the words were better left unsaid.

Are the Orchids good art?  That’s for you to decide.  They just might grow on you.






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An immigrant and a refugee became our Governor General – talks at RBG of her experiences.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 13, 2011  For former Governor General Adrianne Clarkson there was no such thing as a short answer and if you were into great detail from an informed and knowledgeable speaker who was there right on the front lines, then you would have enjoyed the talk given by Clarkson at the Royal Botanical Gardens last Sunday afternoon.  Some 150 people were on hand to hear what she had to say about the ten people she wrote of in her most recent publication, Room for all of us, which is the story of ten people who immigrated to Canada and the contribution those ten have made to the welfare of the country.

Clarkson argues that we are a richer and at the same time more complex country because of our approach to immigration, which, she pointed out is, significantly different than that of other countries.  In Canada` she explained `we expect the people who arrive as landed immigrant to become citizens and some 80% of them do, which is the highest percentage in the world.  The Australians percentage is about 75%  while in the United States around 55% of those who arrive as immigrants eventually become citizens.

In Europe, added Clarkson, landed immigrants cannot become citizens.  They are in a country as workers and when they are no longer needed they are forced to return to the country of origin.  Clarkson told of a housekeeper she had in Paris where she served as Agent General for Ontario.   The woman had been in France for more than 30 years but could have been told to leave the country with just 24 hours’ notice.

The former host of CBC programs the Fifth Estate and Take 30 certainly knew her subject and she entertained her audience for well over an hour before she sat to autograph copies of her book.

Burlingtonians line up to have their books autographed by former Governor General Adrianne Clarkson.

Clarkson, whose  family immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong and settled in Ottawa knew what it was to be an immigrant and told her audience of the less than honourable  past of Canada`s immigration policy `We were no better than many of the others when we interned our Japanese citizens during the Second World War or turned back a ship loaded with Jews during that time as well.

Clarkson at RBG book signing where she spoke of her immigrant experience and the contribution immigrants make to Canadian society.

Canada has changed significantly since that time and the waves of recent immigrants included men who did not want to serve in the Vietnam War and the thousands of Vietnamese Boat people who came to this country.  Tamils have come to this country as well, and each time a wave of immigrants arrives this county accepts them and they integrate and become a part of who we are today.  Clarkson believes we are a stronger and better country because of our immigration policies.

It was the story of these people that Clarkson wanted to tell.  Of the ten people in the book she knew five personally and two others were friends. Ì had to find the other three ‘explained Clarkson.

Clarkson passed on an interesting fact that few probably realized about the Boat People.  The federal government at the time agreed to admit 25,000 people and local church groups clamored to be able to bring in more.  The government agreed and said that if Canadians were prepared to sponsor more and put up $2500. per person then more could be admitted – and Canada eventually brought in 150, 000 boat people who quickly became part of the Canadian fabric.

Her audience learned more about what immigrants have done to and for Canada than most knew when they walked into the room.   In the very early 1900`s we brought in 20,000 new people and we know bring in 300,000 every year and they all eventually fit into the country and add to what we are.

Former Governor General Adrianne Clarkson spoke about her book at an RBG event on the weekend.

The Canada we are today explained Clarkson is much, much different than the Canada she came to in 1942.  Clarkson is the first immigrant and refugee to become Governor General of this country.  We have indeed come along way and after listening to Clarkson one can begin to realize, understand and appreciate the contribution immigrants have made to our country.

Upon leaving the Office of Governor General Clarkson, along with her husband formed the Institute for Canadian Citizenship that engages Canadians in citizenship through innovative programs, campaigns and partnerships designed to ensure new citizens are welcomed and included as equals, to create meaningful connections among all Canadian citizens, to foster a culture of active, engaged citizens and to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.

And that is exactly what Adrianne Clarkson was doing on a Saturday afternoon in Burlington at an event sponsored by A Different Drummer, a Burlington bookstore.




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Mayor snags honoured speaker for Inspire series; Andre Picard to speak November 23.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 12, 2011

Going out on a high note is the best way to leave the stage – which is what Mayor Goldring is doing with his Inspire series when, Andre Picard, Health reporter and columnist for the Globe and Mail will be the featured speaker at the last of the 2011 series the Mayor instituted during his first year in office.

Attendance has been good and it will grow as people get used the idea of speakers coming to Burlington with new ideas that stimulate and offer new and different perspectives and begin to recognize the quality of the speakers the Mayor is bringing to the city.

The series started with Christopher Hume, Architectural reporter and columnist for the Toronto Star who told his audience that McMaster University`s behavior in the way they handled building of their Burlington campus on the South Service Rd., was a moral outrage.  There was no doubt in his mind where he stood on all this.

Gil Penalosa was the second featured speaker in the Mayor's Inspired series.

That was followed by  Gil Penalosa, a passionate advocate for improving quality of life through the promotion of walking and bicycling, and of parks, trails and other public spaces as great places which foster vibrant cities with healthier communities and happier residents.

Penalosa earned a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from UCLA’s Management School. Following years of private and public sector senior managerial experience, the Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia (pop. 7 m), appointed him Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the city.

Penalosa led his team to design and build over 200 parks, of which the best known is the Simón Bolívar (360 hectares). They were also successful in opening 91 kilometres of car-free city roads on Sundays, the Ciclovia, where over 1.3 m. people come out weekly to walk, run, skate and bike. They also created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending and since the first year has become the main recreational event in the country.

Tom Rand, author of Kick was the third speaker in the Inspire series. He advocated ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Penalosa was followed by Kick author Tom Rand, a successful software entrepreneur who survived the dot com bubble in 2000. Rand now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization plus public advocacy. Rand is the Cleantech Practice, Lead Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and sits on the board of a number of clean energy companies and organizations, including Morgan Solar.

One speaker was on the platform the night of an NHL playoff game – but the crowd was still good – in the 150 + range.

The series have in the past been held at the Ron Joyce Centre of the McMaster DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road.  The Mayor has decided to keep the business in the family and this last event for the 2011 series will take place in the Community Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  The event starts at 7 pm – the Mayor`s office likes to get a handle on possible attendance – the room holds just over 200 people.

Now – the speaker – Andre Picard.

Picard is the Globe and Mail’s public health reporter and columnist who was recently named the Conference Board of Canada’s CIBC scholar-in-residence.

The program has funded scholars since 2005, enabling them to carry out research on issues that resonate throughout Canada. Picard’s research topic is The Path to Health Care Reform: Policy and Politics.

“He’s the top health journalist in the country,” said Anne Golden, president and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada. “He’s able to cover both the policy issues and the politics because he’s been so engaged on the whole range of issues around all our health-care systems.”

The College of Family Physicians of Canada named Picard a recipient of its 2011 CFPC/Scotiabank Family Medicine Lectureship Award.

Mr. Picard has been recognized for years as one of the country’s top public policy writers. His books, Critical Care: Canadian Nurses Speak for Change and The Gift of Death: Confronting Canada’s Tainted-Blood Tragedy, were best-sellers.

Among Mr. Picard’s previous awards are the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism, the Canadian Policy Research Award, the Atkinson fellowship for public policy research and the Centennial Prize of the Pan American Organization. He was named Canada’s first Public Health Hero by the Canadian Public Health Association and was honoured as a champion of mental health. He is a four-time finalist for the National Newspaper Awards.

Picard said being named the CIBC scholar-in-residence at the Conference Board will give him new opportunities and called it “a nice challenge.”  “This one allows me to do some journalism – some long-form journalism,” he said. “It allows you to do the work that you usually do but in a different way and more in-depth.”

In a recent column Picard had this to say:

Andre Picard, Globe and Mail columnist and perhaps the most prominent speaker the Mayor has brought to Burlington. His views on our health system may include some comments on the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. He will be a very direct speaker.

One of the fundamental structural problems in Canada’s health system is the lack of a clearly identified front door.

Put another way, there is no place where patients can routinely go to access the care they need promptly and efficiently and that tracks them throughout the health-care “journey.”

Traditionally, we have depended on family physicians to serve as that home base. Almost 30 million Canadians have a family doctor, but roughly four million others have none. Still, even for those with a regular caregiver, prompt appointments are hard to come by and same-day access – the gold standard – is a rarity.

So the de facto entry point into the system all too often becomes the emergency room (where patching and dispatching, and long waits, are the norm) or walk-in clinics (tremendous money-wasters that specialize in passing the buck back to ERs or family doctors).

Using these inappropriate points of access is the equivalent of entering your home by clambering up the fire escape or crawling in through a basement window, only to find that the door into the main floor is locked and you have to start over again.

It’s a terribly inefficient and expensive way to deliver health care. Among other things, when there is no front door, there is no real gatekeeper and, with the proliferation of ever-more-expensive drugs and technologies, the gatekeeper function has become more essential than ever.

Worse yet, regardless of what door patients use to enter the health system, there is little continuity in their care.

One of the principal reasons for this disjointedness is the lack of electronic health records. If someone has a heart attack and ends up in the ER, or is prescribed antibiotics at a walk-in clinic, or gets to see a specialist, his or her family doctor is unlikely to know.

This situation is not new.

The Inspire Series is one of the best things the Mayor has done for the city. It ranks right up there with his decision to tough it out and continue with the building of The Pier.

Primary health reform has been talked about for decades. In fact, with the publication of the Lalonde report, a ground-breaking document prepared by health minister Marc Lalonde in 1974, Canada became a world leader in the concept of primary care (but sadly not in the practice.) Every one of the dozens of health commissions since has dedicated a good chunk of its recommendations to the need for primary-care reform.

In the 2004 Health Accord, the provinces received $800-million to bolster primary care, but it was overshadowed by the politically motivated focus on reducing surgical wait times, where billions were invested to produce modest results.

The good news is that there has been a lot of progress of late on the notion that every Canadian should have a clearly identifiable primary-care provider for preventive care, sickness care, and some quarterbacking and follow-up when a patient needs acute care.

In the 21st century, this kind of care can’t be provided by a single physician à la Marcus Welby.

Today’s patients require episodic care occasionally, but mostly they need chronic care. Consider that 81 per cent of people over the age of 65 have at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc. For the most part, they need a team to provide health care, not a single physician.

Thankfully, in recent years, there has been a significant shift to providing primary care using interdisciplinary teams. Alberta has Primary Care Networks; Ontario has Family Health Teams; Quebec has Family Medicine Groups and; most other provinces have variations on these names with similar philosophies.

We shouldn’t forget either that excellent primary care has been offered for decades by CLSCs (community health clinics) in Quebec and Community Health Centres in Ontario, but these pioneering initiatives have always been chronically underfunded.

But the process needs to be accelerated and valued. And, practically, that means shifting resources from acute-care hospitals to community-based primary-care practice.

Picard is a prolific writer who works from his home in Montreal as the Globe and Mails Health columnist. He has been given some very significant awards for his work.

The notion of creating a clear front door into the health system got a significant boost recently in a report from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which represents the country’s 35,000 family doctors. (Canada has another 34,000 physicians in specialties other than family medicine.)

The CFPC calls for a model that has as its foundation a concept called the “Patient’s Medical Home.” The PMH is described as a family practice that serves as the “central hub for timely provision and co-ordination of a comprehensive menu of health and medical services patients need.”

The PMH is, naturally enough, centered around the family doctor (after all that’s who the CFPC represents), but, to its credit, the group fully embraces the need for interdisciplinary care, the belief that a patient requires a team or network of caregivers, including nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, and other health professionals, located in the same physical site or linked virtually from different practice sites throughout the community.

The report also makes some key points that are not emphasized nearly enough in our continuing discussions about health-care reform. To wit:

The foundation of good healthcare is good relationships between providers and patients, and among providers;

Timely access to both prevention and treatment is an essential component of good health care, and Canada’s waits are among the worst in the world;

Patients themselves need to be active participants in their care. They need to take responsibility, not just be passive recipients of care;

Continuity of care has to be a priority because it is in the transitions – from the family doctor to the specialist, from the ER to the ward, from hospital to home, etc. – where all the bad things happen.

In Canada, we have a terribly knee-jerk reflex when responding to problems: We throw more money and bodies into doing more of the same, no matter how inefficient.

With primary care, the opportunity for reform lies in actually doing things differently and ensuring that patients have access to the right care, at the right time, from the right professional.

That can’t even begin to happen if there is no front door, no medical home for them to call their own.

Burlington is in for a treat.  The Community Room at the Performing Arts Centre has seating for just over 200 people – this could be a SOLD OUT event, which by the way is free.

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Paddy Torsney, former MP reviews book written by former Governor General. Recommends it to everyone.


By Paddy Torsney

BURLINGTON, ON  November 11, 2011

It is fitting that I write this review of Room for All of Us by Adrienne Clarkson on November 11th.  Like many Canadians, I spent the morning at Remembrance Day ceremonies in my community. My parents are immigrants to Canada so we don’t have uncles, aunts and grandparents to remember. In fact, my parents came from Ireland, a country that remained neutral during the war and they did not serve in the two world wars.

This morning the Minister who spoke used the theme “I remember it well”, expanding the notion to remember the lost and injured soldiers and civilians, to experience through his stories the suffering of the times.

Mme Clarkson’s book encourages readers to do just that: remember it well.  Remember the stories of the individuals she presents to us and remember how their journey is similar to ours, or our ancestors, and that whether they came in 1999 or in 1799, the stories have similarities.  Though the distance, nationality and skin colours may be different, in our hearts we are all the same: courageous people who have chosen, or been driven to choose, Canada. Even more importantly, we need to remember that our nation is richer for each of the experiences.

Mme Clarkson chose ten Canadians to profile in her book. Their backgrounds are diverse and most of them faced diversity before choosing Canada.  Each and every one of the people she presents had an interesting story to tell.   Each and every one caused me to learn more about what Canada and the world was thinking at the time of their arrival – anti-Vietnam protests, Idi Amin’s expulsions, destitute boat people from Vietnam and Sri Lanka, the Holocaust.  Although the circumstances are different, there are many similarities to more recent migrations and migrations further in the past.

The book is well researched and the stories well woven with Clarkson`s experience coming to Canada as a young Chinese girl and settling in the Ottawa of the 1940’s.   This tapestry of stories and history allows readers to feel, and be inspired by, the wonderful nation building that is occurring with each arrival this year as some 250,000 new entrants join our country.

Former Governor General of Canada, Mme Clarkson’s legacy project is The Institute for Canadian Citizenship.   It’s a great project that ensures more Canadians will learn our country’s rich history, a history that comprises dynamic people and remarkable journeys. This book will help launch that Institute to many readers.

I can recommend this book to readers. While readers will be familiar with some of the public figures presented (Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, former MLA Corky Evans, radio star Andy Barrie and Rogers Canada president Nadir Mohamed), there are other people many Canadians won’t know well (Holocaust survivor Fred Bild, film director John Tran or artist Tamara Toledo, author David Albahari).  With each story we learn more about the people and become interested in their journey and how their experiences have influenced careers and life choices.

Former Governor General Adrianne Clarkson has written a book consisting of profiles of people who chose Canada. For those of us who were born here, the book offers a view of our country that is both refreshing and rewarding.

The Blair family story presents another perspective on the decision to choose Canada.  The Blairs descend on both sides from ancestors who arrived in Canada in 1843.  After generations of life in Quebec City, the family moved to the UK for professional reasons but kept their children connected with Canada in stories and summer vacations.  After years abroad, all three children returned to live in Quebec City as bilingual citizens who care deeply about their country and have put enormous effort into preserving Quebec’s historical buildings. “The Blairs are now part of only two percent of the Quebec City population, whereas their ancestors (British) formed fifty percent.  But they have adapted.  They have done what they wished to do: live in the society of their ancestors and adapt to the changing conditions.”

The Blairs represent well the story of Canada: people coming to our shores and making and remaking our nation through the centuries. And we are all enriched by these experiences, whether or not they are part of our family.

Mme Clarkson presents the ten stories in a context which is interesting and informative.  Her emphasis on history made me long for more!  I think this book would be an interesting addition to the school curriculum.

I had a high school teacher who once told me Canadian history was boring. These stories and Ms Clarkson’s presentation of our history were engaging and important.  As she says at the end, “When Canada adopts you, you are part of the whole family, with its benefits and its dysfunctions, with its birthday celebrations and crazy Uncle Herb”.  And further, “If our presence is to have meaning in our chosen country, we must all of us accept all of our history.  Our history must be taught and absorbed; our experiences, bad and noble, must be shared.”

I know I’d like to give a copy of this book to one of my teachers (Mr. H) with an inscription inside the book – for you  Mr. H., Mme Clarkson’s book is inspiring, interesting  enjoyable and anything but boring.


Paddy Torsney is a member of the Privy Council and served as the Member of Parliament for Burlington.   Room for All of Us by Adrienne Clarkson is published by the Penguin Group in Canada and is available at The Different Drummer in Burlington.

Mme Clarkson will be reading from her book at a public event at the Royal Botanical Gardens at 2:00 pm on Sunday November 13th.

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SOLD OUT ! Big words and delightful news for the Burlington Art Centre Soup Bowl event. Just two days available now

Wearable Art event a success at Burlington Art Centre.

By Staff

After a very successful Wearable Art event the Burlington Art Centre now moves into its Christmas Season and will begin with the always popular Soup Bowl event and the annual Christmas Sale.

Wearable art attendance held up – basically the same as last year according to Sandra Baker Director Marketing and Development for the BAC,  and artists were generally pleased with their individual sales.  It was certainly a colourful event.

The Soup Bowl, an always very popular event – so much so that the Thursday and Friday, 17th and 18th  noon events,  are SOLD OUT – and when we make that statement said Baker – we mean it.  Those days are sold out.

The selection was excellent and the buyers were curious - and sales were good.

Saturday and Sunday still has some room – but move quickly if you want to participate in this event where you choose a fabulous handcrafted bowl, fill it with a choice of gourmet soups made by local restaurants. Add delicious salad, a roll, coffee and dessert for a great meal! The bowl you choose is yours to keep! All sittings have a cash bar. $35 BAC Members; $40 non-members; Reserved Table of 8: $275; Tickets and information: at the BAC; online: or 905-632-7796, ext 326    Remember – just Saturday and Sunday are open.

The Annual Christmas Sale event will have 95 artisans taking part this year. The event runs from

November 17, 11 am – 3 pm;

November 18, 11 am – 9 pm;

November 19 and 20, 11 am – 4 pm

Free admission and parking.


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Reader writes: Traffic lane configuration on Lakeshore at Brant is all wrong. Let’s change it.


Eva Amos, a Burlington resident would like to see stronger traffic controls along the Lakeshore, especially at Brant and Maple where she feels the right hand lanes are used by aggressive drivers to rush ahead of the traffic flow. She thinks making those right hand lanes, right hand turns only.

By Eva Amos

BURLINGTON, ON November 11, 2011  –The concern I have and have been expressing to council for years now, since Lakeshore Road was reconfigured in the downtown core is the bottleneck this has created in the core and especially the aggressive driving behaviour of many drivers in this particular area.  The reply I get most often from council members is that Lakeshore is not a highway and the intent is to slow traffic through the downtown.  This is all very commendable but in my opinion this configuration does nothing but cause road rage and encourage aggressive driving behaviour.

As a driver I have been cut off too many times to count, by the aggressive driver roaring up the curb lane, just to get in ahead of the long line of drivers, patiently waiting in the middle lane, as the signage instructs us to do.  Putting signs up and painting some lines on the road simply doesn’t work.  Most drivers do stay in the through traffic lane but at every light change there is the driver(s) waiting to beat the traffic and put the rest of us at risk.  This to me is like saying most drivers stop at a red light, only a few run them.  This is not OK.  It is not a speeding issue.  It is an aggressive driver issue, which I thought we were trying to cut down on.

If the configuration is to remain, which it seems it will, let’s make some changes to the traffic flow.  Some suggestions I have made but have gone unanswered are:  make the curb lane going westbound at Brant and Lakeshore a right turn lane only.  This would allow the driver, patiently waiting to turn right at Brant, but stuck behind the driver waiting to roar up the curb lane to cut off the through traffic, to make his turn, thus taking the aggressive driver out of the lane.    The same could be done at Maple and Brant coming eastbound.

Also make it a no right turn on red at Brant and Lakeshore.  Also at Maple and Lakeshore, turning right.  Again the aggressive driver is in no position to come up the curb lane when traffic is coming through.  This would all slow traffic down I realize, but isn’t that the intent of council.  It would certainly make it safer for all.  Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

It is my understanding the engineering department has recommended the configuration remain until 2019.  I understand from an earlier e-mail from Jack Dennison that council would probably review this recommendation in 2011.  It is now November 2011.  I don’t think it

There was a time when Lakeshore was known as Water Street and traffic was a little slower. But Burlington isn't a sleepy little town anymore - traffic has to be controlled.

has or will happen this year.

I am not suggesting Lakeshore Road should go back to 4 lanes, although this could be done with parking meters put along this stretch of roadway, with parking only in off peak hours.

This would add some much needed parking in the downtown core and add some revenue for the city.  It seems to work well in Oakville.

Ideally we would get everyone on transit and bikes but the reality is, this is not going to happen.  We are not a sleepy little town anymore.  We are a big city with a large population.  Let’s try and get our residents around safely.

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Lest we forget.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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Plains Road hair and nail salons experiencing a break in streak – bad hair day perhaps?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 11, 2011  Between August 29th and September 10th, five nail and hair salons on Plains Rd, in the area of King Rd were broken into. In each incident the front door was smashed to gain entry. Small amounts of cash ranging from $10 to $100 were stolen. In one of the break and enter, a 42 inch LCD television was taken.

This type of petty crime is often the result of drug addicts looking for something easy and can be a signal that there are concerns about safety in the community..  The police know how to handle this type of situation but they need your eyes on the street.  Be vigilant.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)

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Dutch Highlanders visit the city. Pipe and drum band performs military music at city hall.

 By Staff

Veteran watches Dutch Highlanders remember at city hall cenotaph.

BURLINGTON, ON  November 9, 2011  As the city gets ready to celebrate Remembrance Day it hosted the Dutch Highlanders who performed a remembrance service at the cenotaph and performed a short military music program in the plaza outside city hall and hoisted the colours for Burlington’s sister city, Apeldoorn, on the flag staffs..

The Dutch Highlanders are from Apeldoorn, Burlington’s partner city in Holland.  That city was liberated from the German army during the Second World War by the Royal Canadian Regiment.  The liberation of Apeldoorn was that Regiment’s final Second World War battle honour.  The 48th Highlanders were part of that battle.

The Dutch Highlanders were on tour in Canada where they performed in Toronto and ended their visit to Canada in Burlington.

The Dutch Band was founded in The Netherlands, in 1991, as a “living memorial” honouring the liberation of the Dutch city Apeldoorn and its surroundings by Canadian forces in April 1945 in which the leading role was played by the 48th Highlanders of Canada. This was a liberation in which so many young Canadians lost their lives. The Dutch Band has dedicated itself to honouring the memory of all soldiers who perished in the struggle to rid Europe of the Nazi regime between 1939 and 1945.  Their motto is “We do remember”.


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If you can’t beat them, then you join them – so former Acting City Manager Scott Stewart accepts an award.

By Staff

Burlington, ON  November 8, 2011  This city is big on two things: Galas and awards.  There is hardly a city council meeting that doesn’t have some kind of an award given to someone for something.  Senior city hall management used to insert a page at the front of many of their reports which stated that the contents had been given an award.

And talk about Gala’s – you name it and there is a gala to raise funds for it.  In the very neat future Our Burlington will be putting up a What’s On! Feature which will set out everything we can learn about taking place in the city and we are pretty certain there will be some kind of a Gala every week of the year and in some weeks more than one.

Burlington General Manager Community Services Scott Stewart with his award for leadership at the Tier 1 level of Public works Commissioners.

This type of social interaction is typical of cities the size of Burlington that has a smallish geographical footprint.  Some of the awards are very significant – the one given to Burlington Firemen for their bravery in a  rescue mission of a citizen whose life was suddenly in very real danger was a much deserved reward.

Last evening at a City Council meeting the former Acting City Manager and General Manager of Community Services Scott Stewart was asked to leave his seat and come to the podium to accept an award for his work since 2003 on the Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario (RPWCO), which is an organization of Tier 1 municipalities and the Regions that meet regularly to iron out policies that are consistent across the province and to work collectively to influence the province and the federal government on issues that are important to municipalities.

The Walkerton water disaster is one of the issues that the organization was in on from the very beginning, explains Stewart.  “We have worked with the province and the federal government on the quality of water in Burlington Bay and Hamilton Harbour where several jurisdictions have a significant say”.  It is vital that senior management in the municipalities be able to work together and both lobby and advise the federal and provincial governments on what actually happens at the municipal level.

Stewart came out of Hamilton where he was Commissioner of Public Works which is the equivalent to being a General Manager Community Services in Burlington.  But for a guy like Stewart “Commissioner”  seems to fit him better.



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She has a mischievous eye; one that catches your glance and also catches the light and images she puts on paper.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 8, 2011  – Repairing the roads is important; developing a Strategic Plan and coming out with a budget that provides the services needed at a tax rate residents can live with is all part of what makes a city “work” – but it is the arts that give a city its colour, vivaciousness and puts a beat in its heart.


Getting your art on the walls of the Office of the Mayor is impressive; does it count if you're married to him?

That art comes from the people that live in the city; the people who take the pictures that are posted on web site; that put brush to canvas and paper to produce the paintings that get sold at silent auctions.  These are the people who came up with the designs for the bicycle racks that dot the downtown streets.  Art extends into the 26 dance studios in this city, the student theatre and the bands that play in the clubs downtown or the jazz sessions at the Lowville Bistro. Burlington has grown culturally to the point where it now has a Performing Arts Centre along with an Arts Centre and a museum in the downtown core.

But behind all the structures there have to be artists who “do art”.

Chickadees have always been an attraction for Cheryl Goldring who uses watercolour frequently.

One of the more public art viewings is the Art in Action event that just completed it’s ninth year and near record public participation.  One of the 27 artists that took place in that event was Cheryl Miles Goldring who works with watercolour and acrylic paint. “The acrylics are a little forgiving” explains Goldring, who yes, happens the be the wife of the Mayor but she doesn’t let that get in the way of her life as an artist and an author.

Goldring, who was raised in Quebec and has some of the culture and appreciation for things artistic that are part of the fabric of that province and which the very uptight Ontario types can’t seem to handle, brings a mischievous view to much of what she sees.  That ability to see things others often miss is layered into a strong steak of compassion that comes from her work as a nurse where she spent many years in the emergency department. “it’s a tough place to be and the people in those rooms are often in desperate straits and need everything anyone can give them.”

Every artist likes to have their work on a wall somewhere and if there is someone who wants to purchase a piece of art – Goldring is a willing seller.  Her art manages to go a little further than most artists because it first graces the walls of the Mayor’s office and is used as a gift to visiting dignitaries.

“I donate the art and the city has it framed and used as a presentation piece given to visitors.  My favourite is the chickadees I seem to be able to capture on paper.”

Simple fence post - forbidding clouds - Goldring

Goldring has written two books.  “One of my books is in the hands of a publisher and I’m talking to another publisher at the same time” says Goldring.  This lady clearly means business and that comes through in the art we see.  Some are very strong and direct and others, with the chickadees being the best example, are soft, almost delicate.

Goldring however doesn’t have the fingers of a painter; they are shortish, strong – the kind of fingers you would expect from a potter or perhaps someone who sculpts.   The woman is to some degree a collection of contradictions – with eyes that are bright, enquiring and have  just that interesting little bit of mischief in them.  She works out regularly, stays in shape and slips away to the family cottage as often as she can.  No word yet on when we might hear a book publishing announcement – it will be interesting to hear what she has to say.


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They all got together; they all got strategic. They all worked harder than they expected to and lost a city manager along the way.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON November 8, 2011  Burlington now has a Strategic Plan.    It is a good plan – not the plan some had hoped for – but a good plan and much better than other plans that have been foisted on the public.  The last one Future Focus 7 , was not much more than a collection of pictures with a bit of a wish list.  This plan is not a wish list. It is the result of more than ten half day long meetings as well as a couple of just staff meetings where issues were further refined.


These are the guys who did it. Over a period of seven months and more than ten meetings that lasted more than half a day each. They worked as a team but they didn't set aside their differences. What they managed to do was respect their differences and produce a Strategic Plan that will move the city forward for the next decade at least.

Like everything done at council committee meetings there is a procedure to be followed and that often results in amendments and then maybe even an amendment to an amendment.  Then there are “friendly” amendments and when it gets really serious a council member will call for a recorded vote – which is when everyone has to stand up and be counted.  And last night – they all stood up and voted for the Plan.

Something very different about this plan is the Council’s commitment to review where they are in getting the plan implemented.  That task falls to Allan Magi, Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives, who now has to get a sense of what can be done and the time frames things can get done in – Magi has his work cut out for him.  He didn’t play much of a leadership role during the ten public meetings, one never got the sense that he was managing any part of the process.  In his defence he was working with one of the best facilitators the city has employed in the past few years and it will be tough to follow that act.

The plan is going to be treated as a dynamic document that grows and changes to meet the city’s changing needs and Magi has to manage that process.

So – what’s in the document?

It has several parts that all link together to form the Strategic Plan city council will now work towards implementing.  Last year during the budget sessions there were a number of spending areas the city didn’t want to make decisions about until they had a sense of what the bigger picture was going to be.  Now they have the big picture in place – so lets go through the different parts and explain what they are and how the city council and senior staff arrived at their conclusions.

There is a vision for the city. Where people, nature and business thrive.

The Strategic Planning Team (SPT) then set out three values in which they said:

1: We are a caring, friendly and inclusive community.

2: We value innovation and trusted partnerships

3: We demonstrate respect by being fair and ethical.

These are what you might call the philosophical base from which the city is going to work to become what it wants to be.  Keep those in mind and perhaps ask yourself if you see yourself and the city as you see it reflected in those statements.

The SPT then created three Strategic Directions.  These were very broad wide ranging statements.  They were not intended to be detailed – the detail follows.  The Strategic Directions were:

Vibrant neighbourhoods


Excellence in government.

See those as very high level statements – again, no detail.  These are the high level objectives  being set out.  Within each of the Strategic Directions there are the following questions about the future we are striving for:

What will it look like ?

How will we measure success?

Those two are followed by an Action list.  The Action List is pure detail; these are the thing the city is going to do and they will align their budget to that Action List.

It is at this point that the document gets into detail which we will cover off and comment on in future articles on how the Strategic Plan the city has now approved came into being.

Councillor Taylor and KPMG facilitator Georgina Black often set the tone for a meeting. They worked well together.

It was not that smooth a process.  Both city hall staff and council members worked very hard and learned much more than they expected to when they got started at that first meeting back in April  at Paletta Mansion.  That first session was a primer on the different ways a Council can interact with the community it was elected to serve.

When city council decided to look for outside help in putting together a Strategic Plan they settled on KPMG, an international consulting firm that has a significant municipal client base; they know municipalities.  Burlington was very, very fortunate to have Georgina Black put in as the lead facilitator on this assignment.  The original expectation was that there might be five, perhaps six sessions – they ended up needing ten sessions and that of course took the project over budget.  Whatever the cost – it is money well spent.  Everyone got a graduate course in how to put together a Strategic Plan and they had one of the best teachers in that business leading them.  Black was tough.  She would lead and when she realized her students weren’t keeping up she would back track and get them all up to speed.  Some were in a bit over their heads but she was a good shepherd and didn’t lose any of her flock.  At one point she said to a Councillor who had made a statement. “No Councillor, you’re wrong. Let me explain …”   Everyone in the room gulped a little but the ground rules were in place; the facilitator was not going to run a “feel good” class.

This Council tends to want to do the right thing – but when it gets down to the short strokes – they sometimes  fail themselves.  In one of the earliest sessions Black introduced them to a BHAG.  That acronym stands for “big hairy audacious goal”.   The goal was to be something that was bigger than anyone would have thought possible – sort of like that Sunday school lesson: Dare to be  Daniel.

But the Strategic Planning Team never managed to get their head around that kind of an idea.  They tended to fall back on the lake and the escarpment as the defining aspects of what Burlington is.  “Those are just geography” Black would point out.  Kitchener-Waterloo is technology, Guelph is advanced agricultural research, Hamilton is a steel city transitioning to something that is not really clear yet but that they are transitioning is very clear.

What the Strategic Planning Team couldn’t come up with was – what is Burlington?  Black realized that the team wasn’t ready to tackle a question quite that big.  Due partly to the wrong kind of leadership; the city manager at the time wasn’t working from a vision that was shared by Council.  He was more of a strong administrator who knew the numbers and the procedures.   The Mayor was still new to the job (realize that this was late April and he’d not been in office 120 days yet) and while Goldring knew a Strategic Plan was vital for the city he hadn’t grown enough into the job to be able to formulate that big hairy audacious goal.  Don’t hold that against him: that the city took on the task of setting out to create a Strategic Plan was Goldring’s doing.

Councillor Dennison used his MBA to tangle with facilitator Black just the once. He soon realized this was her event and he fell into line quickly. Dennison however brought a perspective that his years of experience on Council made invaluable.

A recent newspaper headline about Hamilton said: “Because the city of Hamilton is heading nowhere, it’s likely to get there.” That statement cannot be said of Burlington.  We know we are heading somewhere and in the next two and a half years we will be able to look back and see where we were and where we are – and we will surprise they heck out of ourselves when we see the trail behind us.

Council is very proud of the significant amount of public involvement in the plan and use the phrase “more than 5000 touch points” with people in the city..  That is a somewhat inflated number unless senior staff are counting people who walked by outside the room a meeting was taking place in.

The ten sessions were held at several locations: Paletta Mansion, Burlington Art Centre, LaSalle Pavillion, the Conservation Authority offices in the rural part of the city and included television call in shows and structured interviews.  Different interest groups met at Tansley Woods and, disappointingly brought the same old, same old special interests to the table.  Mayor Goldring led that session and moved things along quite briskly.  It was evident then that this Council was not going to buy into same old, same old.  They wanted a bigger vision and while it was early in the process one could sense that they were all going to learn much more than they expected about what it meant to think strategically.

Council members grew individually and they grew as a unit.  Georgina Black was made a partner of KPMG, a very well deserved reward.  She will go on to do some very significant work in the municipal sector.  Burlington can take some satisfaction that she was with us before she was made a partner.  she was a good one.

Our Burlington sat in on almost every Strategic Planning session – we were the only media to do so and in the days ahead we will take you through the sessions the Strategic Planning Team went through; some of them a little on the torturous side; others quite  disappointing and some filled with promise.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison put it very well Monday evening when he said: “This is the best Strategic Plan the city has put out – and I’ve gone through seven of these things.”  What Jack didn’t say was that he was part of six plans that were not worth the paper they were printed on.  And he had his problems with the creation of the plan we now have – but he also made an absolutely vital contribution which we will tell you about during this series of news features.

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City manager replacement project coming along very well. New city hall staff leadership could be in place before Christmas.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON November 8, 2100  – The process of hiring a new city manager is coming along very well.  All of the candidates have been seen and interviewed by the complete Council and they now move to the assessment of the candidates.

That process will not take all that much time- so the city just might be able to decide on their choice before the middle of November and make an offer soon after.

General Manager Scott Stewart finished his two month stint as Acting City Manager and is being replaced by General Manager Kim Phillips who will fill the role for the balance of the year.

So far all members of city council have been able to attend every interviewing session and by now all probably have the protocol that sets out what the job of city manager is and what the expectations and deliverables are committed to memory.



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Some good news on the Burlington economy scene but it isn’t all sunshine; dark clouds as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7, 2011  Gerry Visca socked it to them.  The room was packed and Visca, a very energetic inspirational speaker kept throwing strong, declarative statements at his audiences and for the most part they loved it.

“How many people in this room know someone who is going through hell right now” he asked.  Put your hands up, if you know anyone this is happening to, he urged.  A half a dozen or so hands went up and Gerry shouted out: “Great – tell them to keep going because that is the only way they are going to get through it”.

His message was one of being consistent, being disciplined and staying the course.  “Easy” asked Visca.  “No” he added “But I want you to keep this thought in mind.  What happens when water reaches a temperature of 212 degrees? Right – it boils and with boiling water you get steam and with steam you can drive engines and make things”.  All said with great enthusiasm and energy by Visca.

“What do you get when the temperature of the water is 211 degrees” he asked in a quieter voice.  “You get hot water – but with that one extra degree you’ve got something you can use”.  And that was the message – try harder, stay focused and stick to your plan.

John Chisholm, president of the BEDC told most of the good news but didn't mention a word of the black cloud hanging over the city's economy - the scheduled closing of the Maple Leaf Foods Distribution plant on Harvester Road and the loss of some 800 + jobs that will go to their new location in Hamilton.

The room loved it and at one point he had everyone in the room standing up and wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders.  THAT is an inspirational speaker.

The Mayor’s Luncheon series ran under the tag line “Connect-Collaborate – Create” Series and featured five speakers.  John Chisholm, President of the Burlington Economic development Corporation and CEO of SB Partners announced that there had been a 16% increase in luncheon attendance since 2010

The final event for 2011 is to be a session with Royal Bank of Canada Senior Vice President & Chief Economist Craig Wright on December 1st.  Wright is going to provide an informative financial look into 2012; that assumes that there will be an economy to look at.  Burlington’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced at that luncheon. The official award celebration will be held on June 7, 2012.

Burlington Economic development Corporation (BEDC) completed its Lean Green and Connected Innovative industrial building stock project. This initiative was undertaken with the local firm KNY Architects who developed models for future industrial facilities that meet the needs of the next generation of advance manufacturers.

BEDC is now actively working with local companies and building owners to launch a demonstration project to take the models from concept to reality. Economic activity in the city continues at a steady pace – In the first half of the year companies have invested $69 million in the renovation and/or construction of their facilities.  Some 15 local companies expanded their operations, 38 new companies opened in Burlington, which all together created 425 new jobs in the community. One of these expansions is ABS Machining that is building its second facility in Burlington. Their new 52 thousand square foot industrial facility at 1601 Corporate Drive will increase their capacity to make parts for a wide range of industrial sectors and accommodate the new staff they will be hiring.

BEDC Staff are working on 30 investment files to date and have visited 50 of our Burlington companies through the Business First corporate calling program. Staff have reported 2011 Industrial vacancies are at 95% full and Office occupancy is 87%.

The dark cloud on the horizon is the announced closing of the Maple Leaf Distribution plant on Harvester Road.  There is some hope that Fearman’s  Pork “might” pick up that space, but the two events won’t happen at the same time – so Burlington is looking at a 87 + job loss in 2013

The Mayor’s BEDC Luncheon Series in 2012 will have the tag line  “Imagine-Ignite-Innovate”! This series will feature speakers and resources that our Burlington companies can take information and inspiration from. The dates in 2012 are: February 16th; March 29th; September 20th and November 1st.  All are on a Thursday.

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We got up close and personal with The Pier. It was not a pretty picture. You had no idea how much steel has to be removed.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7, 2011  The city took a slew of media people out onto the Pier and gave us all time to wander about and have a look at just what it looked like up close.  There were a number of politicians along – The Lady Jane, our freshly minted MPP, Jane McKenna, who now gets a bit more than $1500. each year to drive from Burlington to Queen’s Park, where she will work on our behalf, was on hand wearing two right-footed work boots, which we thought might have been a political statement.  Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster was also on hand but not wearing her delightful pink work boots.  “They give me blisters” she explained, “unless I wear thick socks”.

It was a bit of an experience to walk out on the Pier.  While very clearly a construction site, what was noticed immediately was that the “instant beach” that has formed on the west side of The Pier at the edge of the breakwater, has grown considerably since we last saw the site.  This is where the city wants to, at some point in the future, put in something in the way of a boat dock. We just might have more beach to work with than we thought we’d have.

The Pier as it stands today has three parts. The trestle to the right which is used for construction purposes and will come out when the work is completed. The round section in the lower left of this picture, which is built above land. The rest, that large S shaped section that reaches out into the lake - every inch of that steel has to be taken out. The caissons the S shape rests on are embedded five metres into the lakebed and are solid and do not have to be replaced.

What had not been made clear to the public, and I have followed this issue for some time, is the amount of steel that has to be taken out and trucked off the site into storage somewhere. Basically all the steel is going to be taken out.  That was never really made clear during the many council committee sessions or in the 10 Pier Update releases the city has put out since this mess came to the surface.

What the city is faced with is replacing all the steel that has been put in place.  The only things being kept are the caissons (those are the big round pipes that have been driven five metres into the  lake bed.  All the steel, ALL the steel that has been put in place is being taken out and placed in storage, while the lawyers work through the legal difference of opinion.

And that is what the legal fight is all about – the steel used for the construction of the site was not what was needed but that didn’t become evident until the crane accident.  Can’t blame the contractor for that one – he didn’t specify the steel, he just built to plans he was given.  Architects and structural engineers do all the designing and planning at work and they sign off on that.  So the goof was at the architect and design levels.  We have been saying the contractor walked off the job – think I can understand why he walked.  He couldn’t build a Pier based on the plans he was given.  Quite why the original contractor didn’t do the level of due diligence that would have revealed the problems is something we don’t understand.  This is probably something the contractor will regret for some time.  But we think it will become clear that the city issued a call for bids and gave the contractors drawings that called for steel that proved to be unsuitable.

In the illustrations you can see just how much steel is involved – basically ALL of it.

The problems were not the making of the current Council.  They approved a contract that involved plans that had been prepared and signed off on by professional architects and engineers.

Should the city engineers have taken a closer look at the drawings they issued?  The designers and the structural engineers signed off on the plans – is that where the city’s responsibility ends? Someone, somewhere at the design level really screwed up on this – and that will get worked out by the lawyers.  However, you the public may never know just what happened.  The city doesn’t care if we know what happened – what it want to do is recover as much of the money that has been spent as possible.  This project was supposed to cost $9.2 million in 2010.  Graham Infrastructure, the firm hired by the city to complete the Pier, is being paid $5.9 million.  Other costs total $8.4 but we’ve not learned yet what the legal bill for all this is going to amount to – but know this; it is not going to be a small bill that will get paid out of petty cash.

The "instant beach", a natural formation of sand that was formed as a result of the currents around the Pier is a gift from Mother Nature. It is now twice the size of what is shown in this photograph and just might grow to be even larger. Plans to put some kind of boat docking in place are in the thinking stage.

City council will not even go along with saying how much they have spent to date – they claim that would reveal their legal strategy to the people they are suing.  The people the city is suing already know the strategy – a claim has been made.   Some Council members talk in terms of recovering some of the additional money they have had to spend.  Given what they have known since last December that was irresponsible.  The city would like to recover as much of that money as possible.  Don’t think they’re going to get what they were hoping for.

The engineers and architects that screwed up don’t want you to know what they did wrong either.  This will get dragged out for as long as the people the city is suing can drag it out – but when it comes down to the short strokes the people we are suing will settle.  Just hope that the city stands tough and gets as much as they can for the damage done to our reputation.

Where does all this leave Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., the original contractor?  They are between a rock and a hard place.  All they did was attempt to build on plans the city provided.  They may find a judge deciding the contractor should have taken a much closer look at those plans but if your doctor gives you a prescription you assume that he knows what he’s doing – after all he is a doctor.  A judge might also decide that the city bears some responsibility for giving out plans for a Pier that in effect could not be built.  Had that crane not fallen over we perhaps would never have known about the deficient quality of the steel. That’s something the courts will work out – but methinks that  Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. has been had – to some degree due to a bit of negligence on their part, they should have perhaps checked those plans a little more closely.

The structural problem, according to reported comments city engineer Tom Eichenbaum made, came to the surface when the city hired a materials testing firm to do an analysis of the steel. Eichenbaum is reported to have said: “Through forensic destructive testing, they were able to chop up beams and do some testing on the actual metal content …there was enough concern that it may not meet the long term strength requirements”.  That steel certainly didn’t meet the requirement when the crane toppled over.

Now we understand why the Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. insurance company came back with a proposal to re-do the deal.  The city didn’t buy the deal (although we’ve no idea what the deal offered was, because the city’s legal department keep the kimono on that matter tightly closed).

As for The Pier – it is going to be, in the words of  Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum, “fantastic”.  During his comments, while we were all out on The Pier, Eichenbaum mentioned  there was “going to be 150 LED lights spread out along the Pier, which will be quite a site from the Skyway bridge”.  “It will” said Eichenbaum, “define a part of the Burlington shoreline.”

The 150 LED lights that will go on the Pier will be powered by the small wind turbine that is part of the structure. City engineers expect the Pier to be quite a sight from the SkyWay bridge at night. They will define the look of the city's shore line.

Marianne Meed Ward took part in some of the tour – the Mayor was there for the full Monty but the other council members took a pass.  They didn’t need to see the site – they had already seen it – last December when it was a lot colder than last Friday afternoon.  But on that cold December day every member of your council knew exactly how much of the steel had to be taken out – ALL of it.  But they didn’t pass that fact along to their constituents.

Will it all come out in the wash – yes but that wash will never get hung out to dry.  The city will settle with the architects and the general contractor and the insurance company and the  agreement will include a gag order which will prevent you from ever knowing all the facts.

It is nevertheless going to be quite a thing to see.  It will make a big difference to the shoreline and the way Burlington sees itself.  But we will have paid far more than we should have to get that Pier built.  That isn’t something the current Council did but there are three members of this Council – Craven, Taylor and Dennison who were on deck at the time and they bear some of the responsibility.

The Mayor wasn’t on the Council that did the original deal and he wasn’t Mayor when the problems came to the surface.  What Goldring has done is make the best of the hand he was dealt and for the most part he has done a very good job.  But he could have and should have let the public know just what he was up against.  Had he done so however, those who wanted the Pier torn down would have been howling at his doorstep – not something he deserves.



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It could have very easily turned into a really great party, – the weather, the people and the talent made it that kind of event.

By Pepper Parr and Pia Simms.

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7, 2011  – The only thing wrong the weekend of the 5th and 6th was that there was barely enough time to take in both the Burlington Art Centre Wearable Arts Sale and the 9th Annual Art in Action studio tour that saw eight different studios around the city opened on two days for visitors.  If you hustled around you could just make all nine locations.  We hustled.

Each studio had three to four different artists displaying their work.  Most had a mix of mediums except for a residence on Ross Street where Dan Jones, Glen Jones and Fred Oliver displayed their photographs.  We made our rounds on the Saturday and by mid-afternoon this Studio had logged more than two hundred visits.

The Studio Teresa Seaton set up shop in had very close to 500 people pass through. "We worked like dogs to make this event happen said Seaton, one of four people that bring Art in Action to Burlington annually.

While the art work at each studio was different so was the atmosphere.  One studio in Hidden Valley had what amounted to almost a tour guide at the door to greet each visitor and explain what each artist was doing and where they were located on the property which, in this instance, amounted to the house and then a small dwelling in the back yard that served as a studio and a display room.  You could hear the sounds of the small but robust stream in the background and at the same time be very aware that you were in the bottom of a small valley with slopes rising, quite steeply on one side and less so on the other.

Perhaps it was the locale or maybe it was the people but the Hidden Valley Studio was the kind of place that had we had two bottles of wine in the car we would have stayed and become part of the party.  We had just the one studio left on our tour – and were very glad that we pressed on.  At the studio on

Cheryl Laakes stands proudly before a piece of jewelry she had on display. Her fabric work was particularly good as well.

Lemmonville Road we came across George Wilkinson a wood turner who has worked with wood all his life; met with a former Sheridan College Dean of Arts and Cheryl Laake, a lovely fabric artist who turned demurely away from the camera before we took our pictures, to “make sure the girls were all right” as she adjusted her sweater and blouse.

One of the things that happens on these tours is you bump into people whose path you crossed somewhere else along the way and with some you strike up friendships.  We watched a young woman of about 25 purchase a painting from an artist and when the artist asked what it was she liked about his work her answer kind of stunned him.   He just didn’t see what she saw in the work – which is the magic of the visual arts – the beauty and life is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

We listened to Nebojsa Jovanovic explain his work to a woman who wanted him to do a private commission with the finished work to be a very specific dimension.  The artist had that look in his eye that left you wondering – was the client buying something to fill some space on a wall or was she buying art that appealed to her.  Whichever, the sale was made.

An artist at one studio looked up in surprise to see a former student walk into the house with her very young daughter in tow.  The pleasure shared by all – perhaps not the daughter, she kept glancing cautiously at the artist.

This work was a favourite, while according to the artist, it is not yet complete, I liked the rabbit just as he was with his grumpy look.

Teresa Seaton, co-chair of the Art in Action event and a stained glass artist, explained that the group had learned to keep the number of studios down to less than ten – which allowed people to get to every studio.  It was difficult to know what you wanted to take in from the brochure – there was nothing wrong with the document – but you had to be in the houses to get a sense of the artist and both hear and feel the passion they have for their work.

The thinking behind the creation and development of the Art in Action Studio Tour is to bring close to 50% new talent each year so that the public gets to see fresh talent and artists get a good run and then can take some time out to refresh their offerings.

I have been to a number of Art Studio Tours; the one in the Toronto Beach community is touted as being on of the best there is in the GTA – the talent in Burlington was every bit as good and in many cases much better than the work on display in the Beach in Toronto..

The only noticeable difference was that there was more jewelry on display in Burlington, which one artist suggested was a bit of a fad.

Geore Wilkinson's wife shows some of his work while he stayed in the garage turning his lathe.

A number of artists worked in more than one medium.  Some was more craft than art and while many might describe the wood that George Wilkinson turns on his lathe as “craft” it made no difference to George what you called it.  But as you watched his hands handle the tools he used and looked at his fingers as he ran them over the curve of a piece of wood – you knew you were watching an artist.

Except for the one Studio all were in private homes and while each had to get creative to make the space work – one had black plastic garbage bags over windows to keep the sunlight out, the homes were by far the nicest spots to look at the art work and talk with the artists.  The commercial location in the Village Square left one feeling you were just in another store.

Artist Nebojsa Jovanovic explains his approach to his art to an interested client.. She bought.

Most places had coffee or cider and cookies.  Some went the full, really nice cheese and crackers route, and at one that we won’t forget had wine for their individual appreciation – and they shared.  The Art in Action people deserve great credit for the excellent signage.  Visitors were driving to private homes in residential neighbourhoods, to streets they may never have heard of never mind been to before, saw good signs at each intersection pointing the way.  The signage was better than it is in elections.

One artist, Peter Schlotthauer, worked with metal and was negotiating a bench the client wanted to have made as a memorial.  While he wasn’t able to give an “exact” price,  the $800. he mentioned was a darn sight better than the $2,000. the city wants, to put up a memorial bench in one of the parks.

Don Graves talks about a piece of art bought by a patron.

The Art in Action people had near perfect weather for both days, always a bit chancy when you hold your event in early November. “We had absolutely glorious weather” said Teresa Seaton “and the traffic was very good. We got very close to 500 people at our studio”.

We spent the best part of a day touring the eight studios and had the time of our lives.  Saw parts of the city we’d not seen before, met some people we hope to meet again, saw and appreciated some art that we would like to acquire for our own collection.  Yes, we did see some art that had us both totally bamboozled – we had no idea what the artist was trying to say.  It didn’t matter.

Next year will be the 10th annual Art in Action studio tour.  We hope the committee that makes this event happen doesn’t decide to do something that is over the top to celebrate ten years of success.  The eight studios were just fine – mix up the artists a bit and always bring in fresh talent.  But don’t try to make it something it isn’t.  A little less jewelry perhaps but my co-writer probably doesn’t agree with me – she is into jewelry.

It’s an event you want to mark down in your calendar – first weekend in November.

One added benefit – we didn’t see one, not a single politician of any political stripe in our tour.

We managed to spend an hour at the Wearable Art Show at the Burlington Art Centre.  There was lots of traffic when we were there and it was a good spot to have a sandwich and a sit down – and the parking was free.


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