Imagine That! – good idea. The hotel level service is a smart idea.

By Staff

March 9, 2013

BURLINGTON, ON.

Cute name, conveys the message, and it might meet the needs of busy people with significant parent and child care responsibilities.

Imagine That offers a service that includes back-up care when there is a temporary disruptions in child, adult, or elder care that prevents them from fulfilling work obligations.

The reality of bustling city life: the commute, the traffic, the long work day of meetings and juggling multiple projects, the cell phone calls, emails, texts, and then of course family needs are thrown into the mix.   Finding time for everything is a challenge, especially for those who have children, or are in need of adult or elder care.

 Imagine That, originally a child care services operation, has expanded to offer back up care for individuals of all ages – children, adults and seniors, under the umbrella of Imagine That Family Care Services. 

 The services, a first of its kind, means employers can now set up Imagine That Corporate Family Backup Care for their employees.

Managing that work life balance usually requires involving outsiders – where do you find the people who you can trust – and afford?

 “Our services offer employers and employees alike with that added piece of mind. Through the support of our professionally trained staff, employees now have the opportunity to utilize back-up care services like no other so that they can meet necessary work commitments.”

Anne Bonfigli, Director Sales & Marketing for Imagine That Family Care Services, explains it this way: our extensive services for family care are about supporting employees while helping keep work absenteeism to a minimum”.

“People out there want to excel in their careers and now have access to a support system that covers employees from all walks of life –from the trades and labour, to professionals, and all the way to Bay Street.”

The family care services are cost-effective and flexible and they are offered round the clock, 365 days per year. 

Imagine That Family Care is a division of Bartimaeus Inc.  Bartimaeus was founded in 1988.  It is a Canadian-owned and operated company, committed to providing the highest quality services to individuals of all ages.  The services of Imagine That were first offered in 2001.  The expansion into Imagine That Family Care Services is a result of the company’s dedication to the highest quality of services that are safe, engaging, and professional.

 Imagine That Family Care provides high quality child care, adult care and elder care to individuals, families and employers in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Their  Corporate Family Backup Care service is made available to employees, through their employer, often incorporated into their wellness programs. Their Hotel Family Care service is available to guests staying at premium Toronto hotels, whether they are visiting for leisure or business, and need a quality care for their child or senior who may be travelling with them. The  Direct Family Care service is available to family members of all ages. The care providers arrive to an individual’s home, prepared with age-appropriate activities.


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Mainway accident victim succumbs: 75 year old dies with family at his side.

By Staff

March 9, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

An accident on Mainway in Burlington earlier in the week was more than an Oakville resident’s body could handle; he died at the Hamilton General Hospital at around 3:30 pm yesterday.

Detective Constables from the Halton Regional Police Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) continue to investigate the matter.  Police have not released the name of the victim and to date no charges have been laid against the driver of the vehicle.

This is the second traffic fatality to be investigated by the CRU in 2014, and the first in Burlington.

Background links:

Evening accident sends Oakville resident to hospital.

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The making of a community activist: Emily Ferguson, all 5 feet 2 inches of her took on the big guys.

By Emily Ferguson

March 8, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

My name is Emily Ferguson and I am the sole individual  behind Line 9 Communities. (This is a blog Ferguson writes about the communities along the path of the Enbridge Pipe Line 9 that runs from Sarnia to Montreal.)

  I graduated from McMaster University with Honours BA Geography & Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.

Emily Ferguson mapped every yard of the pipeline so that communities along its path could know just what was beneath the ground.

I first heard about Line 9 at a climate conference in Ottawa in 2012. My interest led me to attend information sessions in Hamilton and surrounding area in early 2013. At one meeting in particular, I asked for a Line 9 information package which had been provided to Council. Although there were extra packages after the meeting, an Enbridge official denied my request and asked “Who are you working for”? The Enbridge team then proceeded to ask myself and a fellow community member for our driver’s licenses and said they would mail a package. Something about the encounter just didn’t feel right and we walked away without the information.

Emily Ferguson – National Energy Board intervener, geographer.

That was the turning point. I went home that night with so many questions. Why was I being denied access to information at a public meeting? What were they trying to hide? Why didn’t they want me to know where the pipeline was?

So I took it upon myself to map Line 9. Throughout an unimaginable number of late nights, I compiled satellite images, integrity data and publicly available information to create detailed maps of the 639 km pipeline.

I did it because they said no.

I did it because I felt the need to inform the public.

If Enbridge wasn’t going to adequately consult … who would?

For Burlington – this is where the pipeline was located.

I contacted multiple City Counselors along the line and sat down over coffee with many to discuss the proposal. The lack of information provided to municipalities shocked me. I proceeded to canvass neighbourhoods along the line to poll residents and provide details about open houses and how to get involved.

Line 9 Communities gained instant attraction. Although I blogged about the application, past spills, and changes to federal legislation, viewers wanted one thing … MAPS! Essentially they wanted to know, where is the pipeline and why don’t I know about it?

Emily Ferguson mapped ever foot of the pipeline from Hamilton to Montreal and learned that the thing ran underground right behind her elementary school – the pipeline had always been a part of her life – She didn’t even know it was there.

During the map creation, I found out that Line 9 crosses right through the small community where I grew up. The pipeline is located directly behind my public school playground in Glenburnie, ON, just north of Kingston. It also passes behind Seneca College in Toronto which I attended for three years. I had literally been living beside the line my entire life … and didn’t even know it existed. All of a sudden, things became very personal.

I felt compelled to learn everything I could about the project. My biggest supporter along the way was Eva Simkins – my Grandma. Although diagnosed with cancer in 2009, two weeks of radiation treatments gave us the gift of four extremely memorable years. We traveled, talked politics, did puzzles, celebrated, smiled and laughed. Through it all though, I knew there was that big question in her mind. Why me?

I wondered the same thing.

She held my hand as she peacefully passed away at sunrise on Earth Day of this year … just three days after I applied to be an NEB Intervener.

In my opinion, we accept the status quo far too often. At a Line 9 open house, an Enbridge official told me, “if we say it’s safe, it’s safe”. But I must question the safety of this pipeline. At almost 40 years old and only meeting the engineering standards of 1971, why is the NEB even considering the application? Enbridge has cited over 400 integrity digs (cracks, corrosion, dents) along the line in 2013 alone! They have also acknowledged that their in-line inspection tools do not detect all defects and that their Edmonton control center cannot sense pin hole leaks. With the current application before the Board, Enbridge is proposing to ship Bakken crude and diluted bitumen laced with drag reducing agent (DRA) chemicals – which include known carcinogens such as benzene – through our communities.

I have never had any malicious intent towards Enbridge. As a citizen of Canada and student of environmental politics, I have always been interested in energy issues, climate change, and a sustainable future for our planet. I believe in the strength of communities working together to achieve great things.

My mission through this entire process has been to raise awareness and promote a community discussion. We are living in a critical time. Will we continue to accept the status quo, or will we start asking the tough questions and demand a better future?

Editor’s note:  I had an opportunity to interview Emily while she was thinking about applying to be an intervener at the National energy Board hearing.  She wasn’t sure what she was going to do then and she needed quite a bit of encouragement to send in her application, which was an experience in itself.  But on October 16th, 2013, Emily Ferguson, all 5’ 2” of her stood before one of the most powerful regulators in the country and gave “the best speech of my life”

Background links:

Burlington doesn’t take to the idea of a change in the flow of the Enbridge pipeline

National Energy Board give Enbridge a green light – with 30 conditions.

The Emily Ferguson maps.

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Driver flees accident scene. Why – driving a stolen car – police catch this one.

By Staff

 March 7, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

 Back in February there was a collision at Appleby and New Street involving three vehicles.  Two of the involved vehicles remained at the scene however a third vehicle fled the area.

 Witness provided police with enough information for them to later identify the fleeing vehicle which was later reported stolen by the owner.  This vehicle was recovered the following day a short distance from the accident location.

Arrested:

 Zabiuhalla AZIZULLA (20 yrs) of Nottingham Avenue in Burlington (Released on a Promise to Appear in Milton Court on April 2nd 2014)

 Charges:

 Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident (S. 252 C.C.)

  • Obstruct Peace Officer (S. 129(a) C.C.)

 If you can add to the information the police already have contact Detective Constable Trasmundi – 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at (905)825-4747 ext. 233

 

 

 

 

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Province boasts about significant job increases – do you think they want to call an election?

By Pepper Parr

March 7, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

It’s just, jobs, jobs, jobs – nothing else matters.  The focus on creating jobs is so tight that Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has decided to move off his “right to work” position, which no one other than the hard headed right wingers who didn’t like the increase in the minimum wage, liked all that much anyway.

The province released data on Friday – Ontario gained 6,100 net jobs in February – full-time employment rose by 5,300 positions last month.  Ontario’s job market grew by 95,700 net jobs in 2013 and today’s increase is in addition to the 6,000 net jobs the province gained in January.

Premier Wynne runs a job training course for Mayor and Ed Eves, president of the Lakeshore Rotary Club

The province has recovered all the jobs lost during the global recession and employment is now 2.7 per cent above the pre-recession peak. February’s job gains contributed to an overall increase of 446,100 jobs since the low point of the recession in June 2009. Ontario’s economic recovery continues to outpace the United States and the Great Lakes States since June 2009.

In February alone, Ontario announced investments that will help create 340 new jobs and retain almost 2,300 jobs in the province.

The provincial government claims it is creating 200 manufacturing and R&D jobs by supporting the launch of a new clean energy manufacturing facility in London.

Cisco is investing heavily in the Toronto area market and expects to invest $100 million over ten years.

Toronto has been selected as the location for one of four global Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centers, representing an investment of $100 million over 10 years. The province is taking some of the credit for this development.

Ontario has committed over $100 million through Southwestern and Eastern Ontario Development Funds — attracting a total investment of almost $1 billion. This is helping to create and retain more than 24,400 jobs in Ontario communities.

We didn’t see any of that money landing in Burlington

The province has a Youth Jobs Strategy that they claim will help create job opportunities for about 30,000 youth over two years. It has already created internships and job placements for more than 8,200 youth in the province.

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Are the 30 conditions strong enough to protect Burlington if there is an oil spill? Enery Board approves pipeline change.

By Pepper Parr

March 7, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

That the National Energy Board (NEB) decided to let Enbridge Pipeline Inc.,  reverse Line 9, a pipeline that runs right through the top of Burlington, should not have been a surprise.  We are talking about oil from Alberta that they want to transport to Montreal and nothing was going to stop that from happening. 

That it is some of the dirtiest oil being taken out of the ground was not a concern; that we spend a tremendous amount of energy getting that oil out of the ground was not a concern either.

Enbridge has an 18 metre easement through the top of the city. A serious break or leak in that line puts toxic bitumen into parts of the city’s water supply.

That the pipe line is close to 40 years old and has had numerous problems – well that was a concern and the NEB did put 30 conditions into their decision – which was a first step.  Ensuring that Enbridge complies with those conditions is like expecting a drug addict to live up to bail conditions – doesn’t happen.

Enbridge is not a nice company; they tend to bully and they have real clout with the federal government and its regulators and they aren’t shy about using that clout.  They aren’t comfortable with the truth and they think their technology can solve every problem that crops up.  They fail to realize they are working against nature – not a win situation for them.

Having said all that – that oil is going to flow and it is going to flow through our back yard and we had better ensure that we have the resources in place to handle any break or leak in that line.  And we need to hold Enbridge accountable and give up on the idea that they are a responsible corporate entity that will do the right thing.  There is far too much evidence saying they won’t and they don’t.

In its media release the city says “it’s encouraging that the National Energy Board has placed conditions on Enbridge Inc. before Enbridge can reverse the flow of its Line 9B pipeline through Burlington and other municipalities.”

That’s a generous interpretation.

These are the creeks that run from the Escarpment towards Lake Ontario. We all know where they are in the city – we just want them to continue to carry clean water to the lake.

“There are 30 conditions Enbridge must meet, including concerns identified by the City of Burlington in July 2013,” said Mayor Rick Goldring who was “cautiously optimistic” and believes “the National Energy Board took the city’s considerations to heart, which is encouraging. The safety of residents and the environment cannot be treated lightly.”

Time is needed to do a closer read of those 30 conditions.  While you and I are reading those conditions Enbridge will be reading them and looking for ways to handle them at the least cost.

In its application, Enbridge requested NEB approval to reverse the direction of flow on a 639-kilometre segment of pipeline between North Westover, Ont. and Montreal, Que., as well as approval to increase the overall capacity to 300,000 from 240,000 barrels a day of the Line 9 pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal.  

When the city sent a letter the NEB in July 2013 asking that Enbridge’s overall approach should minimize the likelihood of a release and that Enbridge should lead an effective and coordinated response in the event of a release; and that Enbridge should be fully accountable financially and operationally if there is a release.

Why does the city use the word “release” – it will be a leak from an old pipeline that was not properly inspected and not effectively maintained.  Time for the city to call a spade a spade and get away from that silky smooth language of the public relations experts.

When there is an oil leak – we want Enbridge to be the first to know and then have them call the first responders in Burlington within in minutes.

Mayor Rick Goldring: He does a pro-active mode and when he’s confident he puts it to good use. Time to get confident on this one Your Worship.

Mayor Goldring got into his pro-active mode and invited Enbridge to provide the community with an overview of the project back in February of 2013.  Showing us more of that pro-activity would be healthy for our Mayor

 Line 9 runs through Halton Region in an east-west direction north of Highway 407 and south of Lower Base Line Road. In Burlington, the pipeline is located in an 18.3 metre easement north of Number 1 Side Road.  There are no municipal approvals or permits required by Enbridge for this project. 

 “In its decision, the National Energy Board has imposed conditions on Enbridge, including pipeline integrity, focus on emergency response, and continued consultation, all of which are important for Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure with the city. “The NEB also refers to Enbridge’s need to have ongoing emergency response planning and consultation with municipalities and first responders. I think there is a level of detail in the NEB decision that we can work with.”

Stewart has taken a course in learning how to whistle as you walk past a graveyard.

 The city is reviewing the 141-page decision and will be conferring with its municipal partners to determine the implications. The city will work with the municipal liaison group—which includes Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto—and Enbridge to address conditions related to coordinated emergency response, pipeline integrity, lifecycle management, watercourse crossing management and post-construction monitoring.

Staff on the Burlington Fire Department receive regular training from Enbridge to be ready to respond should a spill take place. 

 BurlingtonGreen isn’t quite as positive as the city appears to be. They are “disappointed with the announcement of conditional approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline proposal.”

Will this landowner be involved in discussions about what gets done if there is a spill?

BurlingtonGreen “remains concerned not knowing if the public will have a chance to review the plans to mitigate risk to the drinking water of millions of people across Ontario and Quebec” and they want to know what will be done to protect the significant environmentally sensitive areas it crosses including the crest of the Niagara Escarpment in Burlington that has several species at risk.   How, they ask is Enbridge going to engage local right of way landowners and neighbours, local governments, as well as train first responders.  In addition, the position of shut off valves across water courses remains unspecific.

Thousands of citizens have signed petitions asking for full Provincial environmental assessments.  Letters have been written to Provincial and Federal Ministers; people participated in public rallies, agencies formed coalitions, media were engaged, and the message was brought door to door in several awareness campaigns to residents in dense urban communities across the GTA and around Lake Ontario communities that did not realize the pipeline literally travels underneath them. 

BurlingtonGreen with others brought the issue to the attention of the Burlington Mayor and City Hall in several delegations asking them to become involved to protect Burlington’s Niagara Escarpment and watershed system that feeds to Lake Ontario and Burlington resident’s drinking water, which they indeed did.  For that Burlington residents may be grateful to a proactive local government.  Unfortunately the National Energy Board is a federal regulator, so this has been another experience of local government hitting the jurisdictional authority wall and having little power to do more than issue statements of concern.  That said, significant municipal collaboration did occur as the staff of towns and cities across the GTAH worked together to prepare collectively as interveners for the NEB hearing.

Background links:

Burlington not very interested in Enbridge’s plans for changes to the pipeline.

Enbridge passes a cheque along to the city, was it a sin tax?

Emily Ferguson; a community activist who spoke for the public at the NEB hearings.

 

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Garbage removal supervisor sent to jail for 45 days for not properly supervising safety of workers.

By Staff

March 7, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

A company engaged in garbage removal and hauling, and a supervisor have been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of a worker who fell off a roof. The company was fined $75,000 and the supervisor has been sentenced to 45 days in jail. A company representative has also been fined $2,000 for obstructing a Ministry of Labour investigation.

The incidence took place in October of  2008, when workers were sent to an address to remove shingles from a one-storey bungalow. One of the workers was tossing loose shingles from the roof toward a bin and stepped back, then slipped. The worker rolled off the roof of the house and landed on a walkway. The injury resulted in permanent paralysis of the lower body. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed the incident.

No safety harness for these workers. You can get sent to jail for that in Ontario.

The injured worker testified to not being trained in the use of fall protection equipment, nor was any such equipment provided in the company-supplied truck used for transportation to and from the job site. As well, the worker indicated that the practice for payment for work was cash and that work was provided on an on-call basis. The worker identified J.R. Contracting Property Services as the employer and Teisha (Tina) Lootawan as the supervisor.

The court determined that the worker was an employee under the definition of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and that J.R. Contracting Property Services was the employer. The court also determined that Lootawan was a supervisor under the OHSA. As such, she failed as a supervisor to ensure that a worker wore protective devices as required by law, and failed as a supervisor to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that an adequate form of fall protection was provided where a worker is exposed to a fall hazard of more than three metres.

As the Ministry of Labour investigation proceeded, the company was requested to provide documentation that included employment and telephone records. A company representative, Andrew Joshua Haniff – who accepted the call from the Meadowvale Road homeowner requesting the company’s services – attended a meeting on December 23, 2008, but refused to answer any of the inspector’s questions. He was convicted by the court of obstructing an inspector.

The jail sentence and fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Mary A. Ross Hendriks. The court heard seven days of testimony over 2011 and 2012; judgment was passed April 18, 2013.

The investigation, the court case and the decision point to the responsibility corporations and their senior staff have for the safety of their workers.

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Evening accident sends senior to Hamilton hospital – struck by a car on Mainway.

By Staff

March 7, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

On a cold Thursday evening a 75 yr. old Oakville resident was rushed to Hamilton General Hospital where he remains in serious condition after being struck by a vehicle on Mainway Drive and Northside Road.

Police were called to the scene just before 7 p.m. in response to a report of a pedestrian being struck by a car.

Paramedics attended the scene and got the pedestrian to hospital.

The driver of the car, a 44 yr. old Burlington man, was not injured.  He was taken to the 30 Division station where he was interviewed before returning home.

Due to the seriousness of the injuries, the Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) was called to the scene.  Reconstructionists have taken over the investigation.  The intersection was still closed as of 11 p.m. while the CRU measured the scene and collected evidence.

Preliminary indications are that the senior was crossing Mainway when he was struck near the intersection with Northside by the vehicle, a black 2006 Saturn sedan.

Any witnesses are asked to contact the CRU at ext. 5065.

Police will not be releasing the name of the pedestrian or the driver.  Next-of-kin are being notified.

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Justin Trudeau – To the manor born – or does he have to earn it? In this country he has to earn it

By Ray Rivers

March 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

There is a whiff of change in the air as the polls place the Trudeau Liberals at the head of the pack racing to the 2015 federal election.  It is still early days, but I keep getting asked what I think of Justin Trudeau – is he ready for the job of PM.  I met him last year, had a brief chat and gave him a copy of my book (for which he never thanked me).  The book has a lot of ink devoted to his father, but he is not mentioned; so perhaps that is why.

Some people said that he is more like his mother than his father, Pierre the intellectual.

Some people said that he is more like his mother than his father, Pierre the intellectual.  If true, Im not sure if that makes him more or less appealing.  His youth is a huge asset, and he has used that to advantage, attracting young voters into the world of politics.  A few actually find their salvationhere and become active party supporters, but just getting our youth to the polling booth is a huge public service. 

The more traditional wing of the party is comfortable with Trudeau, because of his roots and because they really need a winner after almost a decade in the dugout, and third place at that.  And Trudeau understands that, so has taken a moderate, small cconservative approach in articulating his policies: retaining the Senate, building the middle class, promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, better developing the oil sands, and even more free trade.

Colourfull – yes.  Depth – we don’t know that yet but the signs are good.  The Senate decision was a good one.

Justin is among the most articulate and communicative of recent Liberal leaders, benefitting in large part from his theatrical training,   He claims his campaign is about fairness –  and it is a vision which he links to his fathers Just Society.  His opponent on the right has been publicly attacking him over his promise to legalize cannabis.  But on this issue, anyway, he sees himself getting on top of the wave sweeping this hemisphere, right behind Mexico and Uruguay and the US states of Colorado and Washington.

Trudeau has also said and done things that have got him into trouble.  His joke about Putin and the Ukrainian crisis has handicapped him on that important file.  There was his comment about admiring China, about the need for more Quebecers in Parliament, and that whole messy speaking-tour business – which he should have done for free as an elected member.  

So is Trudeau ready for the job?  Some said that Joe Clark, Canadas youngest PM at 40 years, wasnt ready when he was sworn to the job back in 1979, yet he ably stick-handled the Iran hostage crisis and won the acclaim of the much of the world.   Mike Harris used to attack Dalton McGuinty as not up to the jobthough McGuinty gave us some of the best government in the provinces history, reconstructing our eroded health care and education systems and balancing three of his budgets before the recession hit – and before he pulled that stunt with the gas plants.

Pierre shocked many, especially the Monarchists with this stunt in London.

Pierre, Justins father, was also attacked as immature for some of the antics he pulled, pirouetting behind the Queens back, uttering fuddle-duddle in Parliament and giving the finger to the media.  But when Canada was facing its greatest national crisis in October 1970, he knew what to do and did it.  Experience and training are essential for most careers but there is no apprenticeship for being PM – you either have it or you dont.  So the real question for the pretenders to the throne is what do they stand for, what is their vision and where are they getting their advice.

Mr. Harper threw his closest advisor under the bus after Senate-gate broke, so at least he knows what to do when he gets bad advice.  But his vision for Canada is retrograde.  Whether it be criminal law, environmental policy, political science, trade and industrial development, or taxation and fiscal policy he represents the past.  That isnt always bad and I do agree with a few of the measures he has introduced since 2006.  But if your fantasy is turning the clock back he is your man.

Mr. Mulcair has been very impressive in the House of Commons as a debater representing the official opposition.  Probably most people respect his perspectives on social justice and equity and are comfortable with how he has distanced his party from external lobby forces, such as the labour unions.  He was a good environment minister in Jean Charests Liberal government in Quebec and has a huge electoral base in Canadas minority language province Quebec.

However, Mulcair has endorsed his partys policy on Quebec separation, the Sherbrooke Declaration, which would entitle Quebecers voting 51% for sovereignty to begin the process of separation.  This was Jack Laytons legacy, one which had lifted his party to official opposition by playing to the separatists.  The Supreme Court has ruled that there needs to be a reasonable majority and nobody except Mulcair and the separatists believes that is 51%.  My vision for Canada includes Quebec.

That is big hair.

Mr. Trudeau has been Liberal leader for less than a year, so its still early to pass judgement on him.  And he has been spouting generalities which most people could only agree with: no tax increases for middle class Canadians, politically independent Senators, and legal weed.  I know at least one of the good people advising him, and my expectations for a detailed progressive platform in time for the election are pretty high.  So maybe the question, come election day, is  are we ready for Trudeau, and what he promises – rather than the other way around.

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

 

Background links:

Sherbrooke Declaration

 

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Meed Ward gets the free parking and transit passes for city staff on the table – council was not pleased.

By Pepper Parr

March 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

The evidence Meed Ward put on the table was pretty persuasive – parking is a taxable benefit except in some very specific cases – the disabled and those who need their car to do their jobs.

City employees are given a choice in terms of the perks they get – they can get a free transit pass or a free parking spot in any one of the city’s parking lots.

How many of the parking spots in this building are used by city staff – free?

Meed Ward did her homework and found that the city pays $16,000 for free transit passes and $217,042 for parking spaces.  That is tax money is transferred into accounts that are then used to pay for the parking spaces or transit passes.

Meed Ward pointed out that there was a matter of unfairness and that the city should not be using tax payer money to provide something free to an employee when Canadian Revenue Agency rules say parking is a taxable benefit.

There wasn’t much joy seen on the faces of the other six council members.  None of them wanted to do anything until there was a report.  Mayor Goldring was close to brusque with his remarks,  Meed Ward may be right, she may be wrong – I don’t want to implement anything without a report.

Councillors Lancaster and Dennison shared the Mayors position – give us a report.  Councillor Craven didn’t say a word.  Councillor Taylor wanted to know if this would apply to every city employee – even those working out at Paletta Mansion.

Councillor Sharman was chairing the meeting at this point because Meed Ward, the actual chair was discussing her motion.

Sharman wondered aloud if the parking was not a right of employment and also what impact would it have on attendance and morale.  He actually said that because salary increases were just 1% this year that employees had paid for their parking spaces “over and over and over”.

One could almost hear the feet of the council members being dragged across the floor – they just did not want to do this.There were three votes involved – the first was to get a report from Staff on what the implications were, Dennison and Craven did not vote.  The second vote was to remove the $217,042 from the 2015 budget and to work out way to remove what would have been spent during 2014 – assuming the report council members insisted on supports the position Meed Ward had taken. Meed Ward was the only council member who voted for the motion – it failed.  The third vote was to remove the $16,000 allocated for free transit passes – it too suffered the same fate.

One could almost hear the feet of the council members being dragged across the floor – they just did not want to do this.  They behaved as if Meed Ward had done something rude in a room full of people with sensitive noses.

Based on the evidence she put forward it would certainly appear that she was absolutely correct.  Parking is a taxable benefit – if your employer gives it to you – you must declare that benefit and pay taxes on it.

The President of the hospital pays for his parking spot.  The Halton Board of Education has asked us to clarify the question we put to their communications people on whether or not teacher parking is treated as a taxable benefit.  The teachers might be able to get away with this one in that there is no known price to park in a school parking lot whereas the spaces city employees use has a price that everyone else has to pay.

Mayor Goldring and most of his colleagues carp consistently about the high salaries paid municipal civil servant; Mayor Goldring sits on a committee of large city mayors looking at ways to bring municipal human resource costs into line with the public sector.

Mayor Goldring and most of his colleagues carp consistently about the high salaries paid municipal civil servants.When an opportunity to show some leadership and demonstrate to city staff that some controls are needed and ways have to be found to reduce the cost of human resources one would have hoped the tone would have been considerably different.

Meed Ward has always had an issue with free parking.  Most of the time she walks to city hall from her home which is a few blocks away.  Each council member is given a parking spot right outside the back end of city hall.   Meed ward feels they should be paying for that spot and even though she seldom uses the spot allocated to her she apparently return the cost of the parking space to the city each month.  She opposed the car that the Mayor is provided as well.

Background links:

Meed Ward announces she plans to ask council t0 remove free parking perk.

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

By Staff

March 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

The route of the pipeline is clearly marked.

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

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

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

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

Background links:

Burlington opposes any change in direction of pipeline flow.

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

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

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

By Staff

March 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There you have it.

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

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viewpoints that were not known before were now public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Obstruct Peace Officer

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did Phillips even know what Fielding was thinking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope prevails.

Background links:

Standing committee took a pass on the cultural manager

Artists and cultural types want to be hard.

Who is Jeremy Freiburger?

 

 

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

By Pepper Parr

March 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Staff

March 4, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

By Staff

March 4, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

March 3, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect to see considerable discussion around that issue.

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

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

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

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

Background links:

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

Meed Ward suggests free staff parking is taxable.

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

By Staff

March 3, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Age breakdown: male and female are counted together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gender breakdown of the runners was pretty even.

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

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

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

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

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

It gets crowded on Lakeshore Road

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

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

Background links:

Residents don’t like the road closures.

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

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