Performing Arts Centre going through a quiet evolution that has much more small group involvement that most people realized.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.

January 8, 2014

Brian McCurdy has a big job ahead of him for 2014 – and that is dispelling a bunch of myths that have grown up around the Performing Arts Centre.

The public talks about the budget problems, they talk about the acts that come to the city with little understanding or appreciation for how the entertainment business operates.  Burlington is a small market that is not high on the list of prime venues for the groups that put together a tour across the province or the country.  The Copps Coliseum fits into that category – Burlington has to fit in with a bigger picture.

More than 165 non-profit groups use the space. The first myth he wants to dispel is that non-profit groups are not using the Performing Arts Centre. “We have had more than 165 non-profit groups use the space.  Their use doesn’t appear on the Centre’s web site so people don’t see the activity and other than the people involved and attending – most people don’t know what takes place.

The Centre wasn’t telling its story and if you don’t blow your own horn – no one gets to hear your music.

The Centre recently held a Poetry Slam which was certainly new to this city.  Later this month there will be a short film festival.  Unfortunately with just 12 days before the event no one has learned what the film offerings are going to be.

You could probably get space at the Performing Arts Centre on a Monday or a Tuesday evening – other than that the place is pretty heavily booked.  Turning a profit?  Not yet – it wasn’t supposed to.

McCurdy, who brought years of experience with him to Burlington when he drove up the 401 from Kingston, has a sense of the dynamics he has to work with and has settled into his new gig.

He has a consultant working up some data that will get shaped into a Strategic Plan.  Brian Arnott, a cultural consultant who was in town doing some work for the Burlington Arts Centre (BAC),  stayed a little longer and did a number of one-on-one interviews with people to get a sense as to what the community wanted and didn’t want and what the issues were when it came to the Performing Arts Centre and culture and the city.

McCurdy arrived in Burlington at a point in time when the cultural community began to show itself.  One of the first inklings that they even existed was when Trevor Copp delegated to city council and said he resented having to drive into Toronto to practice his craft and make a living.  He wanted to see a change.

At about the same time the city was  getting the early draft of the Cultural Discussion report Jeremy Freiburger had put together.

Angela Papariza, started work with the city as a Parks and Recreation Planner bur has been shifted to a Cultural Planner; part of the city’s plan to create more cultural presence at city hall.  Trevor Copp, on the right, shook up city hall when he told council he wanted to be able to ply his trade in Burlington and went on to be part of creating the Arts and Culture Collective that lobbys at city hall.

Copp was not prepared to stop with a delegation to council.  He, along with others, called a meeting and invited every arts person they could think of – 20+ people showed up.  That resulted in a second meeting that brought 125 people to a meeting and Burlington’s Arts and Culture Collective was born and the city began to hear from a focused voice.

As the city moved from the report Freiburger had prepared into the creation of a Cultural Action Plan the Collective improved its organization and pushed to get a seat at the table where the decisions were being made.

The city is now working up a Cultural Action implementation plan that will be part of the 2014 budget deliberations and there is now representation from the artists.

McCurdy has three small white boards on his office wall that set out what’s coming to town and there aren’t a lot of open spaces.  You can book a Monday or a Tuesday but there isn’t much more than that available stretching into 2015 – which is the point where McCurdy thinks he might be able to get by on a little less than the more than THE  $500,000 subsidy that comes from the taxpayers.

Brian McCurdy is kind of pleased with the bookings he has for the Centre.

What the public is seeing under McCurdy’s had is much more community use of the space.  Last week the first ever Ontario wide Poetry Slam took place at the Performing Arts Centre.  Except for a very small, select group of people, Burlingtonians didn’t even know what A Poetry Slam was.

Next week a free dance workshop will take place at the Centre.  Nova Bhattacharya will use lecture and demonstration to take participants on a journey through dance from the classical Indian style and demonstrate how it has evolved into contemporary dance with a South Asian sensibility.

Later the same day she will be offering a 90 minute master class to those interested in learning the basics of bharatanatyam.  That’s another cultural phrase that hasn’t exactly rung in the ears of the city’s cultural community.

The basics of bharatanatyam will be taught at the Performing Arts Centre.

The dance class is part of the Performing Arts Centre’s outreach is funded by an Ontario Arts Council grant and delivered by the  KooGle Theatre Company.

The Performing Arts Centre went through a bit of a bumpy start.  The Theatre Burlington Board which provides oversight of the Centre beefed up its membership and added some needed talent; they actually have a working musician on the board – in the past that board has been made up of people with a financial background. The Board along with some senior staff have taken part in two retreats where they looked at everything.

The Centre did part ways with the first Executive Director and brought in Brian McCurdy.  If the funding plans that are being worked over at city hall actually get through city council, 2014 could prove to be an interesting year for culture in this city.

However, Brian McCurdy is not depending on the city to keep his growth plans alive.  He intends to develop a membership program that will be part fund-raiser and part developing the depth of the cultural community in the city.  Membership will include priority seating, a pre-purchase program and opportunities to meet some of the performing artists in a social setting.

McCurdy has some thoughts on corporate sponsorship as well.  His management style is quiet, he develops relationships over time so don’t expect much in the way of flash from this guy.  Do expect significant solid ideas and plans he actually delivers on.

Background:

BPAC board gets beefed up.

It was certainly a different program: Ten Rooms.

Artists showing at the Seaton Gallery

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Incidence of flu high in Quebec, Alberta and BC – the stuff travels – still time to get a free flu shot.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.

January 8th, 2014

The Province, the Region, the city and even the local drug store – all want you to get your flu shot – and do it now.  While the incidence of flu in Ontario is not high – it is surprisingly high in Alberta and British Columbia, and the stuff travels.

The flu shot is free – and it doesn’t hurt THAT much.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, Dr. Arlene King, is reminding Ontarians to protect themselves from influenza by getting the flu shot.  She stresses the importance of getting immunized – particularly with an increased proportion of laboratory confirmed cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in the province and across the country this year.

This strain of influenza affects people of all ages, but children under five and those age 20 to 64 years old appear to be most susceptible.  To date, children under five appear to be most at risk of hospitalization.  Deaths have been reported in adults and the elderly.

The flu vaccine is safe and the best way to keep you and the people around you healthy during the flu season.

The Region announced today that that the last two regularly scheduled influenza (flu) immunization clinics will be held on Wednesday, January 8 and Wednesday January 15, both from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the auditorium at the Halton Regional Centre in Oakville.

The H1N1 influenza virus is currently circulating in Halton and this strain of virus is included in this season’s vaccine. It is not too late to get your flu shot to protect yourself and to prevent spreading the virus. Residents can still get their flu immunization from many pharmacies, clinics and doctors’ offices.

The free flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and is also available for those five and older through specially trained pharmacists at close to 2,000 pharmacies across Ontario – three times as many pharmacies as last year.  Rexall pharmacies in Burlington offer the service as well as others.

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Burlington is about to get its day in the sunshine. When the daffodils burst into bloom – our guys will head to Toronto to tell our story.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. 

January 8, 2014

The people who believe they matter in this city are going to travel to Queen’s Park and tell the Burlington story to just about anyone who will listen.  They plan to do this “ in the Spring”.

The Mayor will lead the parade.  Perhaps they will form a “congo line” from Union Station and dance up University Avenue and into the Legislature – they will travel by GO train won’t they?  As for the rest of the people on that GO train city hall is “still finalizing but there will be Council and senior management team representatives.

Is this team of stellar player travelling into the big smoke to ask for money?  The Mayors Chief of Staff advises “There will be an ask for support but this would include a combination of things. Anything specific we asked: “There will be multi prong objectives to the meetings”.  And if you have figured out what that means – tell us, because we don’t see any information in the statement.

Is Burlington the Rodney Dangerfield of Ontario municipalities – continually looking for suspect?

Burlington is sort of like the Rodney Dangerfield of smaller Ontario communities.  Tucked in between rough, tough, gritty Hamilton and snooty Oakville, Burlington continues to boast about its splendid waterfront (which it is prepared to sell a portion of, if the price is right, or you can scare city council with a law suit – but I digress) and the Escarpment that a lot of people want to drive a road through.

How does a city go about changing the way it is perceived?  City hall thinks our story should be taken to Queen’s Park where they can talk to the people who make things happen in the province and see how they feel about the development charges we have raked in.

Or we could tell them about how we managed to put up a pier that was to cost something in the $6 million range but got ramped up to $14 million and we still have a court case to settle.

Not exactly growth is it. Burlington tax revenue from the Commercial sector is falling and there are no clear signs that it will improve in the very near future.  Revenue has to come from somewhere – residents are an obvious source.

Burlington wants to tell its story – but no one is quite sure just what that story is.  If there is a vision – it’s tough to see it – unless you are looking at all the “happy talk” that comes out of city hall.  Try this for size: “Burlington is widely recognized as a great Canadian city. Not only do 95 per cent of Burlington residents rate their quality of life as excellent or good, but MoneySense magazine has named Burlington the best mid-sized city in Canada and the third best city of any size for 2013.”

The sources of tax revenue.  The yellow and the blue columns have to be grown – no one is sure just how he city is going to do that.

But how do we stay great? , the city asks. In the future, the challenge will be to maintain service levels and high quality of life without significant tax increases. We need to do this in the context of more modest growth, which means we must be proactive in planning and developing resources, especially our land base.

All too true but we have at least one land holder who refuses to work with the city to develop in a moderate intelligent manner.  Paletta International wants to convert lands currently zoned as employment lands into residential where the return on the investment is much more attractive.

There is another developer who has come up with a unique, interesting – even intriguing approach to development that doesn’t follow the traditional pattern.  Evergreen has been sitting on a piece of property at the intersection of Dundas and Tremaine Road for more than ten years that stretches all the way to Hwy 407.  This development has gotten stuck in that quagmire that includes differences of opinion between the Regional Official Plan, Burlington Official plan and the plans that Oakville has – the property sits on the border of the two communities – and Ontario Municipal Board hearings.

“We need to transition: says city hall “from an expanding suburban community to one that “grows in place,” finding new and innovative ways to grow revenues – especially the assessment base – in sustainable ways that recognize the challenges posed by growth limitations.”

That “grows in place” phrase is one you are going to read a lot about in the next few years.  It needs a little more drill down to be fully understood.

“Burlington needs to sustain its revenue base, while maintaining the service levels and quality of life residents have come to enjoy and expect.”

City of Burlington is going to take its story to Queen’s Park in the Spring

To capture some of those challenges, the city has created The Burlington Story. It tells the story of where we’ve been, where we are today and where we’re going.  Watch for Mayor Goldring to grab this story and use it to as one of the major planks of his re-election platform.  That assumes of course that the Mayor will be challenged in his decision to get re-elected next October.

Is the “Burlington Story” the revised version of the Mayor’s vision?

Residents of the city will get their first look at just where our Mayor wants to go when he delivers his State of the City address  January 23, 2014.  The event is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce.

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Province moving grocery voucher money from Toronto to Burlington – not quite enough to fill a Brink’s truck.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON

January 7, 2014

To assist with the financial burden of the ice storm on those with limited incomes, the Province of Ontario has given Halton Region a limited number of grocery vouchers. Although many people lost food and incurred costs from the storm, the vouchers will only be available to Halton residents who lost power for 48 hours or more and are facing financial hardship.

Line ups in Toronto for grocery vouchers were very long – but at least they were indoors and didn’t have to travel to some industrial part of the city to get the help they needed.

Beginning Wednesday, January 8, the vouchers will be available at selected food banks throughout Halton Region until supplies are exhausted. Each food bank location will use their established screening criteria to assess financial need. Individuals must also bring proof of address.

In Burlington the location is: Salvation Army, Burlington Family and Community Services,  5040 Mainway, Unit 9, Burlington.  Telephone number there is 905-637-3893
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How much are the vouchers? Families can get $100; Individuals can get $50

The location for the distribution of these vouchers has got to be one of the most difficult to get to.  With the weather as cold as it is – it seems almost cruel to send people that far for a food voucher.  For those on assistance a car may not be one of the things they own.  Bus route 81 will get you there – but it will be cold and there is no service from 9:30 to 3:00 pm.

A better alternative is Route 80 across Harvester and then a transfer to route 83 – the service is better.  Doug Brown, one of Burlington’s transit advocates points out that for those who don’t have a car the $6.50 cash fare for a return trip – just to get $50 for a single person isn’t really worth the effort.

This effort on the part of social services from the Region looks to be something done quickly and done poorly.

The weather is so cold that the Region has suspended the pick-up of brush from road sides

Call your city council member and ask him to arrange a ride for you.

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Police arrest two from Hamilton and charge them with series of home break and entry offences.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON

January 7, 2013

Two imports from Hamilton may not be going home soon.  They were arrested in connection to a rash of night-time residential break and enters in Burlington.

An observant citizen saw something that didn’t look quite right shortly after 5:00 am on the 5th of January and called police to report the suspicious activity.

Police converged on the area and quickly determined a residential break and enter was in progress into a home on Woodland Avenue. They arrested one male inside the home while another fled on foot but was later identified and arrested at his residence in the City of Hamilton. The first guy had turned on his partner in crime

Investigators have identified two more residences that were broken into and another where an entry was attempted.  In each instance, the homeowners /occupants were away.

Police have seized an involved vehicle that contained stolen property. A search warrant was executed in the City of Hamilton where money, jewellery, safes and electronics were recovered.

The investigation is ongoing with more charges expected as there are links to past similar break and enters that have occurred in Burlington and Oakville since October 2013.

Accused:

Shane Curtis PYE-PERLER (04NOV1987) of Wilson Street in Hamilton is charged with:

3 counts of Break and Enter and commit indictable offence of theft
1 count of Break and Enter with intent to commit an indictable offence
1 count of Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.

Jermaine Omar GRAHAM (27JUL1990) of Market Street in Hamilton is charged with:

3 counts of Break and Enter and commit indictable offence of theft
1 count of Break and Enter with intent to commit an indictable offence
1 count of Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Ellie Bale – 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau – Residential Crime Team at 905-825-4747 Ext. 2312.

If you have information on this or any other crime please call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the website   or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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Region wil handle the distribution of food cards for those that lost everything during the power outage.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON

January 7, 2014

In the world of social benefits and pension December is a different month.  The federal government sends out pension money around the 20th of the month – when it is normally sent out the last few days of each month.

People stock up because they know there isn’t going to be another cheque until the end of January.  Thus there were a lot of homes with a lot of food in the freezer.  When the lights went out – the food went bad and had to be thrown out.

The provincial government put in a plan to give people bank cards with food money and most of the supermarkets as well as Canadian Tire pumped money into the program.

It took a week or so but the province realized that the world does not end at the Toronto border and some of that food card money will be working its way to Halton.

Later today, the Region expects to publish information on where the food cards will be available and how they can be obtained.

The Region does point out that there is going to be a very limited allocation for Halton and that these cards are for people who are already on assistance and have no other way to purchase the food they need.

Given that social assistance is handled by the Regional government they already have lists of names and know for the most part where the need is most pressing.

There will be more information from the Region later today.

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Police given authorization to publish picture of youth suspected of grabbing the buttocks of a 13year old girl.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON

January 7, 2014

The Regional Police Service has done something we don’t see very often; they published the photograph of a minor and provided the public with a copy of the document they took before a Justice of the Peace to get the authority to publish the picture.

The authority to publish the picture has limitation attached to it. It must be removed from wherever it is published by 11:5 p pm on January 10th, 2014.  How is that going to be enforced?

Unidentified male wanted for questioning on a sexual assault complaint.

Media were given a copy of the picture – the moment we publish it is out there for the world to see and it is all but impossible to erase once it’s public.

The youth, based on the photograph, looks like a high school or community college student.  Once someone at a high school sees the picture it gets routed to every person with a cell phone.

We are curious as to why the police took this action for an event that took place last October.  Here are the details.

On October 17, 2013 at 6:45 p.m., a 13-year-old girl was waiting in line at a Subway restaurant on Driftwood Drive when she was approached from behind and her buttocks were grabbed.  The offender did not converse with the victim and promptly left the establishment.

 The offender is described as male, white, 17 to 19 years of age, 5’8” tall, medium to heavy build, short dark brown hair with acne on his face.  He was wearing a dark-colored hoodie with ‘IRISH’ written in white lettering on the front and white laces protruding from the hoodie area, a white shirt underneath  with baggy blue jean shorts (tied in front), white socks and black runners. 

The police asked for and were given authority to publish the photograph of a youth suspected of grabbing the buttocks of a young woman in Burlington last October.  The time limit placed on the release of the photograph is highly unusual and suggests a lack of understanding of what happens to content when it appears on the internet.

The police asked for and were given a Judicial Authorization to release the suspect’s photo.   The photo is authorized to be posted until Friday, January 10th at 11:59pm.  That authorization is for the police website.  We see nothing in the Authorization that calls for the Gazette to take down what we put up on the 10th of January.

 The police ask that anyone with information concerning this offender to contact the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit at 905 465-8970, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).

This action on the part of the Halton Regional Police Service does not appear to have been thoroughly thought out.

We will follow this one with considerable interest.

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Number of people charged with drinking and driving offences during holiday period basically the same as 2012.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.

January 6, 2014

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported a significant drop in the number of impaired driving charges officers laid during their province-wide 2013 Festive Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) Campaign.

The campaign, which ran across the province from Nov. 23 to Jan. 2, 2014, resulted in 578 impaired driving charges being laid by OPP officers. Another 481 Warning Range Suspensions were issued.

By comparison, OPP officers laid 693 impaired driving charges during the 2012 campaign and issued 625 Warning Range Suspensions.

It’s time consuming work =- but this year it kept 15 people with too much alcohol in them off the roads.  Time well spent.

While the OPP indicated they were pleased to see the lower numbers associated with the 2013 Festive RIDE campaign, they said the charges serve as a reminder that a small number of impaired drivers threatened the lives of other road users over the holidays.

Locally the picture was about the same as last year with fewer cars stopped but the number of charges laid the same as 2012.

The Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) program remains a key deterrent against drunk driving. R.I.D.E. spot checks are conducted year round, with an emphasis placed on holidays and long weekends when higher volumes of traffic and opportunities to drink and drive are present.

R.I.D.E. 101 was an innovative pilot project created by the Halton Regional Police Service in 2006 to educate young drivers about the risks associated with impaired driving. The three-phase program geared towards high school students includes on-campus demonstrations and displays, as well as actual driver spot checks.

Follows are the results of the 2012 R.I.D.E. holiday campaign for Burlington which ran from December 1st-31st:

Vehicles stopped: 6,075

  • Roadside breath tests: 208
  • Pass tests: 192
  • Warn tests: 13
  • Fail tests: 3
  • Impaired charges: 5
  • Over 0.08 charges: 8

The Halton Regional Police recently appointed a new Media Relations officer: Sgt Chantal Corner,  who advises us that their number for the 2013 RIDE program were as follows:

4,125 cars were stopped during the R.I.D.E campaign

203 Roadside tests were administered with 172 pass tests, 22 warns and 9 fails. 

Three charges of Impaired Driving were laid and 12 charges of Over 80 mg.

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The Mayor officially announces he will run for a second term; the only member of Council to do so at 3:00 pm on Monday.

By Staff

January 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON

The Mayor wants to keep his job – he threw hit hat into the ring this morning. Now all he needs is a candidate to run against him.

Mayor Rick Goldring with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Will she get re-elected before he faces the electorate and will he win when he does?

Other than a notice on the city’s web site that published who has filed nomination papers and who has not – there isn’t a word from the mouth of the Mayor. 

No media release, nothing on his blog.  There is no mention of a campaign website; there is a personal email address to reach him as a candidate.  rickgoldring@hotmail.com

Last time out, then Council member Goldring, issued a number of well written position papers.  Residents have no indication from Rick Goldring at this point as to why he thinks he should be re-elected.

We will just have to wait and see how he rolls out his campaign.

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That Free P was a good idea – did it work? Maybe. You will be able to P free in Downtown Burlington every Saturday for the rest of the year.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 6, 2014

The Free P is over.  You have to put coins in those parking meters today and the rate for that spot to park your car went up 25 cents an hour as well.

Burlington took a brave step when it offered free parkingin the downtown core for the month of December, as part of a drive to entice shoppers to visit the downtown merchants over the holiday season.

Couple of bumps during the first few days when people who work downtown decided they could now park for free and took up many of the spaces that were intended for shoppers.

Free parking ?  For who?

It got so bad the first few days that city manager Jeff Fielding had to send an email to everyone employed by the city explaining the parking spaces were not for city employees but for shoppers who wanted to come downtown.  It wasn`t just city employees abusing the free parking – several merchants were parking their cars in the free spaces.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward put a lot of her political capital on the line when she pushed for the free parking and the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA)  got behind the idea with everything they had.

Did it work?  It could have and it should have but there is no data so far and without data no one will ever know.  Did the public like the idea?  We don’t know yet.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.  Not exactly festive was it?  Malls were much better.

Here however is what we do know:  For the second year in a row the majority of the downtown merchants did precious little to decorate their store fronts and give the streets something in the way of a festive look.

The Planning department made a decent effort to make their public counter attractive and festive.

City hall didn’t do much better.  The Civic Square was close to pathetic and inside the building it was as if December was just another month.  There was a tiny little tree beside one of the entrance doors and poinsettia set out around the building.  The people in the Planning department did gussy up their counter a little – they are on the second floor where other than contractors getting permits there wasn’t much in the way of public exposure

Retailers love to see some snow on the ground a week or so before Christmas; that is said to draw out the shoppers.  This year we go snow – we really got snow and icy rain as well those very last few days and then the city moved into survival mode to get through the hard weather.

There is something decidedly unhealthy about the state of retail in the downtown core.  Is it the retailers themselves who just don’t want to put themselves out or is it a leadership problem with no one developing good ideas or programs for the retailers to follow-up on.

The Yellow bags were there for the taking – problem was not that many of them were taken. Good idea badly executed? Or just a bad idea?

The BDBA hopped on a wagon that wasn’t going anywhere when they took part in the Yellow Bag program sponsored by the Yellow Pages people.  The idea had been run in Oakville where it was said to be a mistake.  Based on what we saw in local shop windows it was as bad a mistake in Burlington.

It doesn’t matter how much drive Councillor Meed Ward puts into getting programs that goose up things in the downtown core – it is the merchants who are going to have to make it happen.  And based on what was visible on the streets – it didn’t happen this year.

Did the cash register go “kaching” a lot this year?  Not sure if the merchants will make any of their data available.  Does the DBDA have a data collection program in place that would allow them to publish figures?  We’ve not seen anything coming out of that office.

The city wants to upgrade the parking meters it uses and is having a little difficulty getting that process going the way they want it to go.  Two Requests for Proposals have been issued – both were withdrawn.  The most recent withdrawal was due to some significant misunderstandings between the city and those responding to the RFP.

There is some fantastic technology available now that could tie the parking meters into loyalty programs merchants could take part in – ways for merchants to pay for the parking on behalf of their customers – but all the technology in the world won’t make a difference if the retailers don’t behave as retailers and do some intelligent marketing.

Two poinsettia on a counter do not a Christmas look and feel make.  The city could have put two decent size Christmas trees to the right and left of the reception desk and made it a social evening for staff by having everyone down to the lobby to decorate the two trees.  Civic Square didn’t look all that festive either.

The city has done everything it can to help the downtown core overcome the difficulty parking meters create in the minds of shoppers.  Parking appears to be free at the malls – it  isn’t but it also is not seen as a direct cost to a shopper.

New language was developed to move the focus from the parking meters to the idea that shopping downtown is a destination and an experience – which is great.  But that experience needs wasn’t there last December with retail shops almost devoid of any sense that it was Christmas time.  On that level the malls beat the core.

There is some serious work to be done if this city is going to manage to get its act together and make the downtown core actually work.  We should set aside the word vibrant for the next while because it just ain’t so.

Background:

The Free P video – hilarious.

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Intelligent comment, the sharing of views, the building of community: how are we doing so far?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 4, 2014

When we began publishing an on-line newspaper for Burlington the hope was that we would better inform the public and that an informed public would make informed decisions.

We took our leadership from the Shape Burlington report that focused on what that document called Burlington’s information deficit.

I was mentored by the late John Boich, a co-author of the Shape Burlington report, whose wisdom, guidance and approach to life I deeply miss.  His boisterousness and his care, concern and love for his city were present in every word he uttered.  “Ya think?” he would bellow.

When Burlington lost John Boich, I lost a friend and the best guide I had as to how this city works.  One of the things Boich and I wanted was a publication that was fearless, opinionated, open to all opinions; a publication that would pull out the very best from the people of this city.

Burlington has always had a small group of citizens who get out to public meetings to review budgets, policy proposals and share ideas. In that regard we are fortunate.

With the internet as our platform rather than a printing press there was an immediacy that allowed readers to respond.  Because we were online and the contents of the newspaper were searchable readers could go back and check out what had been said or done months – even years before.

The ability for people to comment was important to us.  Unfortunately, a lot of the comment is pretty juvenile, poorly stated and often nasty and mean.

We publish the name we are given.  If there is a concern with the contents of a comment we will test the email address it was sent from.  If invalid we frequently do not publish the comment.

Intelligent people looking at the numbers and making their own decisions: democracy at its best.

We frequently talk to the writer and on several occasions we have insisted on meeting with the author.  Our objective is to create a forum where views are exchanged and the community at large is better for that exchange.

There have been some comments that were scurrilous, some with terribly foul language.  Others have contained information that while not publishable are an insight into behaviour that bears watching.

From time to time we get a comment that represents what we set out to do ourselves. Comments made on the first person in Burlington to file nominations for the ward 1 seat in the October municipal election came in quickly.  The comments made by one commentator in particular were informative and we felt useful.  This is what we set out to do as a community newspaper – we commend these comments to you:

Rick Craven used to be an effective municipal leader. He listened to ideas, asked questions, worked hard to make a mark for Burlington. All under the great leadership and mentorship of Mayor MacIssac and a fantastic City Manager, Mr. Tim Dobbie. Then came the Cam Jackson era. Craven turned from an effective leader, and a team player, to a one man “lets battle the bully” show. He became a bully himself. He forgot how to be an effective leader, he lost the will to listen, all he wanted to do was fight.

Burlington citizens discussing a draft of the city’s budget.  Councillor Craven is on the right wearing the blue shirt.

He’s never regained his better persona of a good leader, instead Craven enjoys continuing to be the bully. You see it at meetings of Council, in the media….. he just loves to bully delegates, others who have different opinions, and the member of council sitting to his left in Council Chambers. If it’s not a fight for him it’s not worth his time. His “my way or the highway” style has become totally ineffective.

Yes, Ms. Henshell, and many who will put their names forward to run in the 2014 election, may not have the political experience at the starting gate. You do have to learn to crawl, then walk, then run. However I’ll vote for emotional intelligence, a team player, and on the job training any day rather than 4 more years of watching a sarcastic, ineffective bully trying to make his, and “his only”, mark.

Mr. Craven has lost the personality it takes to be a good leader. He needs to learn to crawl again, and walk again before he should ever “run” again. It’s a seven member city council, not a one man show. He needs to be re-taught just that instead of continuing on with the selfish traits he once despised.

A break from Council Chambers would be in the best interest for Mr. Craven if he has any bigger political aspirations. Is he a politician…. yes. A great political leader… I beg to differ.

This kind of trenchant observation and the courage to speak is something we welcome and encourage.

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The best and the worst decisions Burlington made in 2013: Air Park decision was the best; agreeing to sell waterfront property the worst.

By Pepper Parr

Burlington, ON.  January 4, 2014

This is the time of year when everyone thinks about the year that came to an end and the year that we are now into.  How did I do?  Can I do better next year and how will I do that?

What did Burlington as a city do right and what did it get really wrong.  Just one of each.

The city’s best decision: Deciding to take on the Burlington Executive Air Park and their blatant attempt to use federal regulations as an argument for not adhering to municipal bylaws.

The city’s worst decision:  The decision to sell a small strip of land along the edge of Lake Ontario that runs between St. Paul and Market Streets to private interests.

The best: While both the city and the Regional government should have been on top of these problem years ago, Burlington is at least doing something about the problem now.  The Region is still dragging its heels on this one.

Somehow the owners of the Burlington Executive Airpark convinced everyone that his plans came under federal jurisdiction and that the city had no say in what they chose to do. This location was to be the site of a helicopter operation. The owner of the adjacent property is standing on her property line.

While north Burlington residents have been complaining for some time about the problem related to literally hundreds of trucks taking land fill into the air park property on Appleby Line and dumping it they weren’t getting much in the way of response or satisfaction from city hall or their Council member..

It was when Vanessa Warren formed the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition and delegated to Burlington’s city Council and then to the Region that things began to happen.  City Manager Jeff Fielding had no time for a lawyer trying to instruct the city on where they were wrong and General manager, Infrastructure and Development, Scott Stewart had no time for organizations that refused to follow the city`s bylaws.

It took the city administration a bit if time to get a handle on the scope and scale of the problem and to get a clear picture of the kind of corporation they were dealing with, but once the think part of the job was done – it didn`t take long for the city to move with considerable force and dispatch.  Within months the city and the Executive Air Park were in a court room to determine just what the legal issue was and then set a date with Justice John Murphy who listened to three hours of arguments. A number of weeks later he issued a decision stating that Burlington`s site plan bylaw was valid and had to be adhered to by the Air Park – and then he dinged the Air Park for $40,000 in costs.

The ink wasn`t dry on Justice Murrays decision before the Air Park filed an appeal.  That appeal will take some time to be heard in the late spring at best.  It may well go to the Supreme Court of Canada.  It is a critical decision if Burlington is to control the kind of development that takes place in north Burlington.  Vince Rossi can build an airport up there – but he will have to follow the rules and work with the city

Rossi, owner of the Executive Air Park has a $4.5 million mortgage on the property and right now his business plan is in close to a complete shambles.  Rossi took a significant risk and while the end game is not fully known, and  one never wants to guess how a judge will decide an issue – there are a number of very strong reasons to believe that the city of Burlington will prevail and the Air Park will have to comply with the bylaw which will mean significant scaling back of the 30 foot plus piles of landfill.

A bigger concern to the city is – what happens to the air park should the city win the case?  Does all the landfill have to come out?  What kind of an air park will be left.  Something to think about.

The worst decision the city made was agreeing to sell a number of small pieces of property, some owned by the city other pieces owned by the province to three property owners with house that are at the edge of the lake.

Burlington takes great pride in its waterfront and part of its plan is to put as much of the waterfront property in the hands of the public.  The city is now part of a process that is intended to purchase 30 homes currently in Beachway Park, see them demolished and the land cleared for a public park.

The city would create two parkettes on the extreme east and west side of the lands shown. The part in the center, outlined in a yellow dotted line is a combination of land owned by the city and the provincial government.  There are three property owners with homes adjacent to that portion. The one on the left and the one on the right consists of two homes between Lakeshore Road and the water’s edge.  The one in the center will become one of the most valuable sites in the city should the sale of the public lands actually go through.  That owner will have a piece of land that goes from LAkeshore Road to the water’s edge.

At one point the city had a Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPAC) that did some sterling work on opening up small parcels of land the city already owed for public use.  Little did they know that the recommendations they put forward would be twisted and made part of an arrangement that would see small parkettes at the ends of St. Paul and Market Streets and an upgrade to Nelson Park which is a couple of hundred yards to the east of the waterfront properties the city decided to sell.  

While the selling of the land to private interests is not yet a done deal – it is being worked at and should it be made final and the land sold the opportunity for a pathway that would extend across more of the waterfront for public use will be lost forever.

The purchase of the land for one property owner will rank alongside the deal the Dutch made with the Indians for Manhattan Island.  People in Burlington talk about there never being high-rise condominium development along the edge of the lake  when that is what we already have in place.

The only Council ember to vote against the sale was Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

The Bridgewater project is going to see a 22 storey tower go up on a piece of land that is not much bigger than the lot that will be created should the sale of public lands go through.

It won’t happen tomorrow, might be 50 years before there is major development on land the city now owns between Market and St. Paul streets – but with all that land in the hands of one owner – developers drool for opportunities like this. 

That shore line and the view of the lake is a part of the birth right for every citizen of the city.   City Council had no right to sell that property for once it is gone it will be gone forever.

When the city agreed to sell the land that was once part of the old Water Street – they sold a part of the birthright of the people who live in Burlington.  Wiser city Councillors elsewhere in this country would die for an opportunity to do at some point in the future what Burlington is preparing to give up on.

Worst decision the city could have made.  There was an opportunity to lease the land – city chose instead to negotiate the sale of the land.  The private property owners will be pushing their lawyers to get this deal done before it becomes an election issue when wiser minds might get themselves elected to Council and put a stop to this stupidity.

Background:

Unlicensed dump

The background on the landfill dumping.

Water street: The issue:

City agrees to sell waterfront properties.

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Nominations for elected office come in slowly; no rush from those already in office. Could it be the cold weather?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. January 4, 2014 
There was certainly no rush of current council members to file their nomination papers indicating they will be seeking re-election.  At least one is still on vacation and will not be back until next week.  Candidates can go to the office of the city Clerk and file their papers along with the appropriate fee.

A candidate can withdraw from the election campaign – we saw that happen in 2010 when Paul Sharman filed papers to run as Mayor but withdrew the nomination and decided to run for the ward 5 council seat. 

The list of candidates seeking election will become official on Thursday, September 18th, 2014. After that date their name remains on the ballot.

So far there are two nominations – both in ward 1.  Katherine Henshaw and Jason Boelhouwer have announced they are going to run against three term candidate Rick Craven.  Both have an uphill battle.

All but one of the Significant Seven has said they will run for office again. How many of them will actually get returned to office is a choice the voters make.

Councillors Rick Craven, Marianne Meed Ward, John Taylor, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster have said publicly that they will run.  Councillor tends to delay any announcement until sometime in June.  It will be interesting to see if he holds to that practice this time out.

There are a number of known candidates in wards 4, 5 and 6.  They are expected to announce their plans in the coming months.

Mayor Rick Goldring has also said he will run for the office of Mayor again.  Councillor Rick Craven did once say that his running for the office of Mayor was “not out of the question”.

Along with city council members the public are asked to elect a Chair of the Regional Council and trustees for the two school Boards.

The members of the Regional Council are drawn from the different municipal Councils that make up the regional government.  In Burlington every member of Council is a member of the Regional government as well.

To date two people have filed nomination papers for school board seats. Mary Elizabeth Dilly and  Laura Stanciulescu  are both running for the Halton District School Board seat in Wards 1&3.

The city’s manager of public affairs released the following information:

Burlington candidates who wish to run for office in the 2014 municipal election taking place on Oct. 27 began registering on Jan. 2, 2014 and have until Sept. 12 to register.

The election for City of Burlington mayor and councillors, as well as trustees in the Halton District School Board and the Halton District Catholic School Board, are being accepted at Burlington City Hall, 426 Brant St. Registrants must meet the criteria found at on the city’s web site,  under Eligibility to Vote.

Nominations are accepted at City Hall during regular business hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sept. 12, 2014, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The term of elected office will be from Dec. 1, 2014, to Nov. 30, 2018.

Nomination forms for the position of Regional Chair should be filed at Halton Region

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Bank bandit evades police and German shepherd from the canine unit. BMO on Brant was robbed.

By Pepper Parr

January 3, 2014, Burlington, ON. 

It was just after 1:30 pm.  I was driving up John Street into the Plaza on Brant that is home to Joe Dogs when I spotted a police cruiser with its light flashing stopped in the parking lot behind the Bank of Montreal, just south of Eatalia on Brant.

I glanced to the far end of the parking lot and saw an unmarked cruiser in the drive coming in off Brant Street.  Police had clearly blocked access to the bank parking lot.

I made a fast U-turn and parked my car – illegally – and grabbed my camera.  There was no movement.  The police officer didn’t have much to say.  It was cold and I had very light foot wear on – so after standing around for 10 minutes I got back into my car drove in the parking lot and slipped into the Scotia Bank where I had an account, took out some cash and headed down Brant Street where I saw five policed vehicles, sirens blaring, come to a screeching halt in the middle of Brant where all kinds of police officers piled out.  Officers went to the trunks of the vehicles and grabbed weapons while the officer from the canine unit let the dog out of the van.

Dog from the canine unit had a little personal business to take care of before picking up a scent and chasing down a bank robber.

The dog had a little personal business to take care of first before he was led to the side of the bank to pick up a scent – and then they were off. 

Two “beefy police officers following the German shepherd at the rear of Joe Dogs on Brant Street looking for the bank robber.

The canine officer, two of the beefiest police officers I have seen in some time and a very young, nervous looking officer with a sub-machine gun following rapidly behind the dog who was leading through a city parking lot east of John Street, then back to Joe Dogs where he was sniffing away.

Police stand by as German shepherd picks up scent of suspected bank robber outside Bank of Montreal branch on Brant Street.

Then back to the bank parking lot and eventually back down John Street towards Caroline.  I got the sense that whatever the dog was looking for wasn’t going to be found.

And the man, who had entered the bank at about 1:30, according to the police report was not apprehended.

Police reported that on Friday, January 3, 2014, at about 1:30pm, a lone male suspect entered the Bank of Montreal at 519 Brant St in Burlington where he indicated he had a weapon and demanded cash.

The suspect made off with a quantity of cash and fled in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as: Male, white, 6’4-6’5, early 30’s, clean-shaven, wearing beige pants, a blue hooded winter jacket, dark toque over top of a baseball cap and sunglasses.

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Rivers on 2014 and what lies ahead. We will check in as we roll through the year and see how well he prognosticates.

By Ray Rivers

January 3, 2014, Burlington, on.

Oil will dominate much of the Canadian agenda this coming year, as it did last.  Expect to see continued rail transport of bitumen unhindered by new federal safety regulations.  But also expect a surge in pipeline development with the Northern Gateway, the twinned Kinder Morgan and the Energy-East projects.  At the same time it is likely that the Obama administration will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, as a domestic political move in the run-up to congressional mid-term elections this year, and a response to the latest oil train disaster in the Dakotas.

All of this capacity comes, ironically, at a time when global oil reserves are expected to top demand.  Fractured shale extraction will enable US self-sufficiency in the not too distant future.  Hot on Americas heels China and Russia, with even greater shale reserves than the US, are planning some 400 new fractured-shale wells.  Mexico is opening up foreign investment to expand its production and Libya and Iraq are ready to resume full production. Should Iran cooperate in talks on its nuclear program, there is that additional oil to complement the impending glut for the world market.

Expensive oil being mined for a market that has falling prices – and toxic to boot. Oh Canada – how could you?

All of this means that we will be facing even lower global prices for oil sands (tar sands)  bitumen, which is already discounted due to its inferior quality.  To make our product more competitive we will see the Harper government try to further devalue the Canadian dollar.  That means continued low-interest rates for at least the next year – so you wont be getting rich from the interest in your tax-free interest savings account.  And dont expect to see lower pump prices since the oil companies will need to pay for all those new pipelines.

On the positive side however, a depreciated currency can be a stimulus for Canadas declining industrial base, in Ontario and Quebec, though it will realistically take years to turn that around.  And the competition from our new free-trade agreements will make that even more of a challenge  Declining oil revenues will, however, impact tax revenues.  So expect the federal government to further cut social programs and the size of the public service to meet its deficit elimination target by 2015.  Expect, also, some sell-off of public assets, including possibly the post office.

US congressional elections will dominate the news from that country in 2014, and though the Tea Party Republicans deserve to be tossed out on their ears, and some will be, the House of Representatives will continue to be Republican dominated.  Gerrymandering of electoral districts and working-poor electors voting against their own economic interests will ensure a divided Congress.  Obama will be faced with ongoing road blocks from his political opponents, prompting him to rule by Executive Order where possible.  Dont be surprised to see him begin the process of normalizing relations with Cuba. 

Major unrest predicted for the Middle East – same as last year.

Discussions with Iran over its nuclear program will go almost nowhere, since Iran neither trusts not desires to work with the Great Satan.  The mullahs in that theocracy, not the Iranian president, call the shots.  Obama will also be constrained by his own Congress and the hostility of the Republicans to Iran.  Israel will continue its dysfunctional threats to bomb Iran, regardless.   And expect to see more turbulence in the middle-east as Israel pushes ahead with even more settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, making a two-nation solution and that kind of peace almost impossible.

Assad will begin to regain authority over Syria as the splintered opposition, contaminated by Al-Qaeda, loses local and international support.  Egypt will continue to experience turmoil even as free elections are held.  North Korea will advance its nuclear arms program, despite increasing Chinese opposition.  This and the failure to curtail Irans nuclear efforts will encourage countries like  Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia ,Turkey and Japan to begin developing their own nuclear arms programs.    Japan may seek some kind of mutual security pact with Taiwan and South Korea, given Chinas heightened territorial protectionism; though history would make that a challenging proposition.

Look for Justin Trudeaus popularity to increase across the nation as Liberals meet for a major policy congress in Montreal this February.  Pundits are desperately looking for the meat on the bones of his oft-stated declaration to rebuild the middle class.  Thomas Mulcair, despite his excellent parliamentary performance, has failed to attract new subscribers to his party.  His support for the partys Sherbrooke Declaration, by which Quebec could leave Canada on a 51% referendum poll – in conflict with a Supreme Court ruling – will cost him dearly among federalists throughout the country, including those in Quebec.

Best buds?  will both still be on the front pages by the end of the year?

Stephen Harper will continue to shun any responsibility for Senate-gate, regardless that no one believes him.  The RCMP may allow Duffy and Brazeau a get-out of jail card but Wallin and Harb may not be so fortunate.  Canadas teflon-coated PM will likely spin his way out of this mess unless, the once-loyal, Nigel Wright has a story to tell and decides to spill the beans. 

The Supreme Court will likely rule that abolishing the Senate requires the consent of all provinces but the election of senators and term limits are under the purview of Parliament.  Expect the PM to act early on these recommendations and reform rather than abolish the Senate.   In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on prostitution, expect the Harper government to bow to the religious right in his party and outlaw prostitution (currently legal).  And then there will need to be another Supreme Court ruling to deal with that law.

Global climate change is a reality and the scientists tell us that related weather events are largely unpredictable, so I wont try to predict extreme weather events – but they are coming.  Canada may finally announce some federal climate change related regulations regarding oil and mineral extraction, and perhaps even an Alberta-style emissions cap-and-trade program.  This might be part of the deal for Obama approving that Keystone pipeline.  But dont expect much more on the environment from a government bent on energy extraction at all costs.

The Ontario and Quebec minority governments may go, or be forced to go, to the polls this year.   Pauline Marois gamble on the Charter of Values will have paid off for her and expect to see her win a majority.  This would empower her to prepare for the next sovereignty referendum sometime in 2015.  Marois will also be emboldened by the successful Scottish vote for independence from the UK later this year.  As England considers leaving the EU, expect Scotland to apply to join the trade body and adopt its currency, as Ireland has done.

Is another minority government the best Wynne can expect if she goes to the polls in the Spring?

Kathleen Wynnes will almost certainly face an election this year.  Tim Hudak continues to frighten voters with his reactionary Tea Party agenda and Andrea Horwath has found almost nothing to say since she was scooped on the left by the Premier, so expect another Liberal minority to be elected.   Given some of the past mistakes of the Liberals, shed be very unlikely to do better than that, despite her considerable leadership qualities.

Finally, Toronto will elect a new mayor and it wont be Rob Ford – providing there is at least one credible and qualified candidate in the running, and not so many that Ford rides up the middle.  If he loses, this may well be the last we see of this colourful but troubled man who would like to be Prime Minster one day.  Unfortunately he will remain mayor for the balance of 2014.

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.

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First nomination for the municipal election filed at city hall; Henshell puts her hat in the ring for the Ward 1 seat.

January 2, 2014, Burlington, ON. 

By Pepper Parr

Maybe it was the weather.  Parking spots for members of city council were empty except for the one used by the Mayor on the first working day of the New Year..

With every member of Council (except for Councillor Dennison who traditionally waits until June to announce) declaring they would be running for office again in 2014 one might have thought they would be in filing their nomination papers.

The first person to hand over nomination papers was Katherine Henshell who plans to go up against Councillor Rick Craven in Ward 1 – where he hasn’t had much in the way of competition the last couple of runs.

Katherine Henshell, first candidate to file nomination papers tries out a seat in the Council Chamber and thinks she likes the look of her name on the name plate.

It will be quite a bit different this time for the three term Council member.  Henshell spent a couple of minutes trying out the seat in the Council Chamber usually used by the member for Ward 1; she looked as if she was measuring the place for new drapes and wondering how her name would fit on the name plate.

A media colleague remarked that “there’s a one issue candidate if I ever saw one” when she heard that Henshell was going to run against Craven.  Henshell, who live a couple of doors over from Craven in Aldershot, also has a property in the Beachway where she used to run her law practice.

During the Beachway debates she delegated to Council on two occasions to explain the serious flaw in the “willing seller/willing buyer” policy the city had settled on for people who had homes in the Beachway.  Henshell argued that there wasn’t much in the way of willingness on the part of the owners of property who were experiencing no rise in the selling prices of their homes when everyone else in Burlington was seeing a 5% to 7% annual increase.  “This city council is toying with the property values.”

Henshell left the Council chamber after her delegation feeling that she had not been listened to and hadn’t been treated with the courtesy a taxpayer deserves.  She soon learned that a lot of other people feel the same way and when an acquaintance emailed her and said: “If you ever decide to run for office – you have my vote.”

“I’d never thought of running for office “ explained Henshell but then realized that “I had been talking about the Beachway issue as if I was a politician.”  Henshell who plays defence on a community hockey team bounced  the idea of running for office on  some of her team mates and got a very positive response.  She talked to her husband and between the two of them figured they could run their household, which includes a child less than two years old and that she could run her law practice and continue wither Seminary studies as well and also serve as a city Councillor.

Katherine Irene Henshell is one of those A type personalities that just does it all.  Having decided to enter municipal politics she then got herself a copy of the Municipal Act and read it – she may well be one of the few council members who have actually read the Act.  She then plunged into the city’s procedural bylaw as well.

Having decided to take the plunge Henshell dug and began asking people what their issues were.  “I was somewhat surprised with the responses I was getting both in terms of ideas and issues as well as the financial support that came forward.  There are a lot of angry people in Aldershot”, said Katherine Henshell.

Councillor Rick Craven, centre, with a copy of the 2013 budget on a memory stick. Craven did a superb job of chairing the budget committee last year. He will have no argument with candidate Henshell over the need for additional shopping facilities in Aldershot – getting them there has been the challenge.

Biggest want in the community – a place where people can buy food. “The only outlet is the Fortinos location in the east end of the ward and that doesn’t do much for the people in the center and west end of Aldershot” said Henshell.  She won’t get any argument from Councillor Craven on that issue: he has been battling for years to get an additional supermarket in the ward.  Craven says he keeps getting told the market just isn’t big enough for an additional supermarket.

Henshell says she drives up to Waterdown or over to Dundas to do her family food shopping. “It’s just easier” but I drive and there are a lot of people in Aldershot who don’t drive and would like to be able to walk to where they shop.  Craven will be right with her on that approach as well.

Not a lot of nonsense to Katherine Henshell candidate for the ward 1 seat on city council.

What kind of a city Councillor would Katherine Henshell turn out to be were she to best Rick Craven in October?  Is she a populist or a lawyer who can speak legalese but not much more?  Two comments suggest Henshell is more of a people person than a lawyer and that she is a Conservative politically but a parent before anything else.  Add to that an understanding for the needs of different groups in the community – and for Henshell that includes seniors.  “We need to align the services the city offers to the needs of the people in the community – and seniors have very different needs”, she said.

“Mothers pushing strollers have one set of needs, parents with children heavily involved in sports activities and seniors with their needs calls for a council member able to both understand and have empathy for each group and then also able to balance everything.”

Where will her campaign funds come from?  Henshell will accept contributions from developers in the ward.  “The limits are public and I will publish where my campaign money came from”, she said.

While Henshell`s focus will be Aldershot, she realizes that she has to be aware of and up to date on what is happening elsewhere in the city.  The tussle over the running of the Chilly Half Marathon along Lakeshore in the east end was one Henshell couldn’t understand.  “It is a an inconvenience for some people, that`s for sure”, she said “but it is just one day of the year.  When the Race around the Bay takes place I just make other plans.”   Henshell is very quick to point out that she won`t be running in the next Half Chilly Half Marathon – her sports are played on the ice where she keeps her head up and her eye on the competition.

Councillor Craven will find he has a much more formidable opponent than he had when he ran against Jane McKenna or Mary Dilly.  He might want to instead run against Jane McKenna again and spend his time at Queen`s Park.

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How to handle that Red Nose – Region issues a cold weather alert.

By Staff

Burlington, ON  December 31, 2013.

Not sure how these two managed to get together – but if ever there was a natural relationship – this had to be it.

The Region issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert starting Wednesday, January 1 and is expected to last for two days. The alert gets issued when temperatures are expected to fall below -15 degrees Celsius – without wind-chill.

Give them a call – they ca keep you out of a lot of trouble and ensure the safety of others on the road.

One day in September 1984, as Jean Marie DeKonick was driving and listening to a radio show about the serious problems caused by impaired driving he  came up with an idea: he’d get his swimming team to offer motorists who had a few drinks to drive them home in their own vehicle.

Today, more than 100 organizations across Canada benefit from the proceeds of the Operation Red Nose campaign. Each year, between $1,200,000 and $1,300,000 are redistributed to non-profit youth organizations and/or amateur sports organizations.

From the very beginning, Operation Red Nose adopted a philosophy that enabled it to gain the trust and respect of the population. The organization does not encourage nor condone those who choose to have a drink. Instead, the message « DON’T DRIVE IF YOU ARE IMPAIRED» is conveyed in a humorous and non-judgemental way. Operation Red Nose’s preventive approach is a wonderful complement to the more repressive measures of the law.

Great idea – if your red nose is the result of the colder weather, bundle up and walk a little faster.  If the red nose is the result of more alcohol than the police want you to consume – check into the Red Nose Operation.

They are operational from 9:00 pm to 3:00 am.  905-634-6665

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I didn’t know that – didn’t want to know THAT. Ontario has fewer civil servants than anyone else. Fees for almost everything to go UP^

 

 

By Staff

 December 31, 2013  BURLINGTON, ON.   Ontario has the lowest number of public sector employees per capita. In 2012, Ontario had 6.5 public sector employees per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 9.7 employees per 1,000 people.

Tim Hudak, Progressive Conservative leader at Queen’s Park believes the civil service is too big – government says we have the smallest per capita in Canada.

 So much for Tim Hudak’s “bloated government” claim.  Now we know why we can never find anyone at the end of a telephone line – they aren’t there.

 At 6:00 am, on the Eve of the New Year the Office of the Premier did us all a dirty and released the following list of Regulation and Fee Changes Coming into Force Jan. 1, 2014

 Agriculture and Food: The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is amending a regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act to clarify language in the regulation and make requirements more flexible while preserving food safety.  In addition, amendments were made to exempt the following operations from requiring a meat processing licence:

Facilities that prepare food products that are not primarily meat-based, such as a pasta business that makes sauces with meat.

Handling of food regulations are being upgraded.

Businesses that only prepare lower-risk meat products and wholesale less than 25 percent or 20,000 kilograms of meat products per year – such as grocery stores.

Businesses that are primarily geared toward food service, such as restaurants or caterers.

 The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is amending a regulation under the Food Safety and Quality Act to change the way supplementary inspection fees are set out in the regulation and making them consistent with current practice for when to begin charging for supplementary inspection.

 The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of the Environment are amending a regulation under the Nutrient Management Act to require signage that includes contact information to be posted at all regulated, mixed anaerobic digestion facilities (farm-based facilities that break down organic material to produce biogas that can be used to generate electricity, renewable natural gas or heat).  The regulation number of the Building Code, which is referenced in the regulation, was also updated.

 Attorney General: The Ministry of the Attorney General is amending a regulation under the Liquor Licence Act that will remove Ipperwash Provincial Park from the list of Ontario parks that bans alcohol on and around the Victoria Day weekend in May as it is no longer classified as a provincial park.

Paralegals will be able to take on more of the legal work in smaller matters.

The Ministry of the Attorney General is amending regulations under the Courts of Justice Act regarding court rules for civil, small claims and family courts to allow people to hire a lawyer for only a portion of a case, to allow paralegals to officially receive court documents on behalf of their clients, and to streamline various court processes.

 Community Safety and Correctional Services: The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is amending regulations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act that will give fire officials the power to carry out at least one annual fire safety inspection in every regulated retirement home, long-term care home or other residence caring for vulnerable Ontarians. The change will also allow fire inspectors to conduct a fire safety inspection when a complaint or request is made.

 Consumer Services:The Ministry of Consumer Services is amending a regulation under the Vintners Quality Alliance Act to allow “Moscato” and “Primitivo” to be used as synonyms for two grape varieties, bringing Ontario in line with other jurisdictions.

 Energy: The Ministry of Energy is amending a regulation under the Green Energy Act to set new or enhanced energy efficiency requirements for 25 products such as water heaters, boilers, household appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers), televisions, fluorescent lamps, and small motors.  The amendment also updates required references to test standards and allow manufacturers the option of complying with upcoming efficiency requirements prior to their effective date.

 The original regulation also sets energy efficiency requirements for certain types of windows manufactured after Jan. 1, 2014, intended for low-rise residential buildings.

Regulations related to water heaters are being beefed up.

A regulation the Ministry of Energy previously amended under the Green Energy Act prohibits 100 and 75 watt incandescent light bulbs manufactured after Jan. 1, 2014, from being sold in Ontario.

 Environment: A Ministry of the Environment provision in a regulation under the Environmental Protection Act comes into effect after Jan. 1, 2014, that will increase the number of collection locations for pharmaceuticals and sharps from 80 per cent of retail and pharmacy locations where these products are sold to 90 per cent in 2014.

 In addition, the Ministry of the Environment is amending several regulations that will:

Add a French version of the regulation

Rename the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food

Rename the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment

Update references to the new Building Code and remove references to outdated or repealed acts

 Finance: The Ministry of Finance is amending a regulation under the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act to update the list of dealership financing corporations that are exempt from licensing requirements. The list was out of date due to name changes, wind-ups, corporate reorganizations and entities no longer engaging in any activity that would require an exemption.

 The Ministry of Finance introduced a regulation under the Pension Benefits Act to allow public and broader public sector pension plans to enter agreements that would give eligible members and pensioners who were affected by past government divestments the opportunity to consolidate their benefits in the successor plan.  This process was previously unavailable under Ontario pension rules.

 The Ministry of Finance introduced a regulation under the Pension Benefits Act to facilitate the restructuring of pension plans affected by corporate reorganizations (e.g. sale of a business, public sector divestments).  It sets out the requirements to be met regarding funding, filings, benefit changes and disclosure to obtain approval from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for such a transfer. It is expected that this framework will ensure more efficient and timely transfers, while protecting the benefit security of plan beneficiaries.  No similar framework existed prior to this regulation.  Previously, asset transfers were made at the discretion of the Superintendent of FSCO.  FSCO policy required exact replication of benefits.

 The Ministry of Finance also introduced housekeeping amendments to an existing regulation to reflect the pension-related regulation changes.  These amendments implement changes that give the Superintendent of FSCO discretion, if circumstances warrant, to extend deadlines for certain filing requirements, to add flexibility to the transfer process.

 Ontario amended the Employer Health Tax Act to increase the employer health tax exemption from $400,000 to $450,000 of an employer’s annual payroll for private-sector employers or groups of associated private-sector employers.  The exemption will be eliminated when their annual payroll exceeds $5 million.  Registered charities, at all payroll sizes, will be able to continue to claim the exemption.

 Health and Long-term Care: The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is amending a regulation under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to change the term “regional veterinarian” to “director”, consistent with recent changes made to the Food Safety and Quality Act.

 The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is proclaiming into force a provision in the Nursing Act to authorize registered nurses (RNs) or registered practical nurses (RPNs) to dispense drugs on the order of a physician, dentist, chiropodist, midwife or nurse practitioner. This change will recognize RN and RPN competencies regarding dispensing a drug by clearly saying that dispensing a drug is within the scope of practice of nursing.

Nurses will be permitted to dispense drugs on instructions from a doctor.

The College of Nurses of Ontario made a regulation under the Nursing Act to clarify that a RN or a RPN who is authorized to dispense a drug may not delegate that act to another person.

 The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is bringing in a regulation under the Independent Health Facilities Act and amending a regulation under the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 to allow Independent Health Facilities to receive funding through the Local Health Integration Networks.

 The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is amending three regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to refer to the current version of the Ontario Building Code.

 Labour: The Ministry of Labour is bringing in a regulation that changes the method that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is required to use to calculate its assets for the purpose of reporting its sufficiency ratio.  The ratio measures whether there are sufficient funds to meet the WSIB’s future projected claims payouts.

 Municipal Affairs and Housing: The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending regulations under the Building Code Act to:

Building code revision come into force,

Ensure specific requirements are met for care facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and retirement homes licensed under the Retirement Homes Act. It complements amendments made to the Ontario Fire Code that require retrofits to provide sprinklers in existing care facilities and retirement homes

Correct minor technical and administrative errors in the 2012 Building Code and revise references to standards in regard to wood-burning appliances and exterior insulation and finish systems, as well as heating, cooling and ventilation systems

 Ontario is amending nine regulations under the Environmental Protection Act, Ontario Water Resources Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Health Protection and Promotion Act to ensure references to various Building Code Regulations refer to the new 2012 Building Code.

 The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending regulations under the Planning Act to give more municipalities local planning approval authority.  The amendments would:

Provide 20 municipalities across northern Ontario and Pelee Island with approval authority for plans of subdivision that allow for the creation and sale of multiple lots

Provide eight municipalities across northern Ontario with consent granting authority for the creation and sale of one or two lots

Allow four municipalities in northern Ontario to exercise their authority to validate title to a property and to exercise a power of sale of land

Provide clarification of exercises of power of sale to one municipality in Ontario

 The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending a regulation under the Housing Services Act to require municipal service managers to provide annual progress reports on their 10-year housing and homelessness plans to the public and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

 The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending a regulation under the Housing Services Act to update the Household Income Limits and associated High Need Income Limits for social housing.

Natural Resources:  The Ministry of Natural Resources is amending two regulations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that will:

Let people follow rules outlined in regulation to hunt raccoon at night, or fox, coyote and wolf during the day, and allow the release of chukar partridge and ring-necked pheasant that were imported or bred from stock imported into Ontario

Make aquaculture-related licences valid for the length of time specified on the licence, where currently the term is only set out in regulation, and clarify that operators of aquariums open to the public and at educational facilities do not need an aquaculture licence but must follow rules outlined in regulation

 The Ministry of Natural Resources is establishing a new regulation under the Public Lands Act that will let people follow rules outlined in regulation to relocate rocks on shore lands, dredge shore lands that were previously dredged, remove limited amounts of native aquatic plants in areas other than the Canadian Shield, and remove invasive aquatic plants. People will also be able to register with the ministry and follow rules outlined in regulation to maintain, repair and replace existing erosion control structures and to construct or place and buildings on a mining claim.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is amending a regulation under the Endangered Species Act to identify protected habitat for the bogbean buckmoth, four-leaved milkweed, Fowler’s toad, Laura’s clubtail, queensnake, and rusty-patched bumble bee, update the description of protected habitat for the pale-bellied frost lichen, and make administrative changes to the existing regulatory provisions for the American ginseng, redside dace, barn swallow, wind facilities, and butternut. The changes will also update language by replacing multiple definitions of the term “land classification for southern Ontario” with one definition.

Office of Francophone Affairs: The Office of Francophone Affairs is amending a regulation under the French Language Services Act that will designate Collège d’arts appliqués et de technologie La Cité collégiale, Sudbury East Community Health Centre and St. Gabriel’s Villa of Sudbury as agencies that provide services in French. These organizations asked to be designated as agencies that provide services in French.

 Seniors Secretariat: The Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat is bringing into force sections of the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 and its regulation to further safeguard seniors living in retirement homes.  These provisions include:

Making police background checks mandatory for staff and volunteers before they work in the home

Putting a formal complaints process in place within the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) including a new independent Complaints Review Officer

Making additional expense insurance mandatory to ensure retirement homes can cover the costs of residents’ accommodation and care during most emergencies

Making Emergency Fund payments available to current and former retirement home residents for eligible costs in the event of an emergency that disrupts services and/or their accommodation at the home

Appointing an independent Risk Officer to review and assess how effectively the RHRA is administering the Retirement Homes Act

Allowing the RHRA to conduct inspections in response to retaliation of threats against whistleblowers

 Transportation: The Ministry of Transportation is amending two regulations under the Metrolinx Act to allow municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to continue sharing the costs of GO Transit’s growth and expansion and collect development charges to offset them until Dec. 21, 2016.

 The following fees come into effect on Jan. 1, 2014:

 The Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, will introduce a new fee to charge 20 per cent to an employer  to recover wages owed to an employee under the Employment Standards Act. This provision already existed, but was not enforced until now.

 The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending a regulation under the Line Fences Act that provides a process for neighbouring landowners to resolve disputes about fences on property lines.  The amendment will increase the fee to file an appeal from $50 to $300.  The fee will be indexed to inflation and adjusted every year.

 The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is amending the Building Code to:

Increase the application fee for Building Code qualification examinations from $80 ($70 online) to $150.New fees will also be established for Building Code Commission applications ($170) and requests for Minister’s ruling authorizing the use of innovative products, systems and building designs ($560). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be applied on the Building Code Commission application and Minister’s ruling fees going forward.

 The Ministry of Natural Resources is increasing fees for the hunter education exam from $5.71 to $10 and the hunter education manual from $18 to $20 to support delivery of the Hunter Education Program.

 The Ministry of Natural Resources is increasing fishing licence fees and hunting fees for Ontario residents and non-residents. The amount of the increase depends on the type of licence purchased. The increases range from 25 cents for a Resident One Day Sport Fishing License to $10 for a Non-Resident Moose Licence. Fees charged for hunting and fishing licences are used for fish and wildlife management purposes only.

 The Ministry of Natural Resources is increasing fees for car camping in provincial parks by $1 to cover increased costs for utilities such as electricity, fuel, sanitation, maintenance, waste management, enforcement and wages. Fees for off-season rental of some provincial park lodges and staff houses will also increase depending on the location and range from 75 cents to $2.75 per person, per night.

Tour bus fees in Niagara Parks to be raised. 

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is amending the Niagara Parks Act to update annual fees that have not changed since 2006. These include fees for sight-seeing vehicles, such as motor coaches that regularly make two or more trips a week and whose itinerary has been approved by the Niagara Parks Commission.  The changes are as follows:  Class 1 from $100 to $250, Class 2 from $150 to $375 and Class 3 from $45 to $50.  Guide licences will increase from $50 to $65.

 The Ministry of Transportation is increasing permit, registration, validation and plate fees as follows:

Registering an off-road vehicle (for example, an all-terrain vehicle) will increase from $36 to $37

Registering a trailer (which includes the permit, plate and one-time validation) will increase from $40-$46

A replacement permit and number plate for a trailer (in the case of loss or destruction) will increase from $23 to $26

Registration of Off the road vehicles fee to be raised by $1.  That’s it?  Why bother?

Range for a 10 day special permit, which allows vehicles to be temporarily exempt from Ontario registration when travelling in Ontario, will now be $20 to $175. The previous range was $17 to $152.  Vehicles requiring special permits could include commercial vehicles and trailers and vehicles purchased at authorized auto auctions

Range for validation for farm vehicles will now be $107 to $848. The previous range was $93 to $737

Registering a motorized snow vehicle will increase from $31 to $32.

 

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Just over a day left to make your United Way contribution if you want the tax return for 2013.

December 30, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Has all the wrapping paper been cleaned up and put out for the waste collection people?  Are the toys, the ties and the bright socks that are always bought as gifts tucked away?  Are the kids out on the hills sliding around on the new boards they got or out on the ice with new skates or just any skates for that matter?

For those sensible enough to stay home and avoid the bargain Boxing Day prices for things you really don’t need, today is a day to realize that you did put on some weight and you survived another season.  As long as you’re not in retail or a hydro line worker or a forester you got some time at home with family and friends or making phone calls or perhaps exchanging photographs with distant family and friends via the internet.

There are in Burlington tens of thousands who will remember the days when you had to book the long distance call you wanted to make; some people even dressed up to listen to the Queen’s Christmas message.  Those were distant days and different times.

One of the things that is not part of the past – it is still very much with us today – and that is family who do not have enough.  There are children who got one or two gifts and a Christmas meal that was adequate but the plates definitely were not heaping.

From the left: Lisa Hepfner, Leslie Stewart from CHCH and Sunni Genesco of KLite wrapping gifts for Burlington Mall shoppers

Each year the United Way holds a Gift Wrapping event at the Burlington Mall where they bring in local celebrities who cheerfully wrap a gift you bought.

Each year, Burlington’s MP, Mike Wallace makes the rounds of the Senior’s homes and has a gift wrapped at the Mall.  This year Commie Smith happened to be on hand to adjust hit Christmas tie for him and wrap his package.

Wallace enjoys making the rounds.  He tends to take a laugh into each room he walks into – although this year he got a bit of a jolt when one female senior told him he had worn the same time last year.

Connie Smith adjusts MP Mike Wallace’s Christmas tie at the United Way gift wrap counter at the Burlington Mall.  Expect to see Wallace in a newer tie next year – at least one senior told him she had seen it the year before.

The Gift Wrapping service is one of many events the United Way holds to draw attention to its annual fund raising drive.

One of the advantages for United Way donors is the tax receipt – but if you want to use that deduction on your 2013 tax return – you’ve got a bit more than a day to send your dollars winging towards the United Way.  Through the magic of technology and the internet you can make a donation – a sizable one if you don’t mind – with just a couple of clicks.

Scoot on over to the United Way web site – make your donation and bank that tax receipt – and take some satisfaction know that you are helping fund 130 different programs that 65,000 people in the Burlington Hamilton community reply upon.

That puts a little bit extra in the giving column.

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Identity thieves find a new angle – if your security software is up to date it will help block this kind of crap.

December 30, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  It doesn’t take the identity thieves and the bank scammers very long to find a new angle.

This is what the email message looked like.  The language used gives this one away – as well as the country code in the url.

Yesterday emails began going out advising you that the government had a tax refund for you – all you had to do was fill in a form and the dollars would flow your way.

If you had good email security software in place you would have gotten this message.  If you didn’t – you would have gotten a form that looked like the kind of thing a government agency might have sent out and had you filled in the form someone who wants to steal your money would have had the kind of information needed to do just that.

If it looks to good to be true – that’s because it probably is too good to be true.

This email message was sent out to tens of thousands of unsuspecting people with Canadian email addresses.  Where did they get the name?  That is a tougher question to answer.

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