We made it through the ice storm: power now on throughout the city.

December 30, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Gerry Smallegange, Burlington Hydro’s CEO, had dinner with his family Sunday night.  The last home in North Burlington saw its lights go on during the day and the wind was normal with the temperature rising.  Burlington had put a lid on its 2013 power outage.  Now for the cleanup and for the Burlington hydro crews to take  a trip up the road to where the people in Halton Hills are still waiting until they can flick on their lights.

Burlington Hydro CEO Gerry Smallegame and COO Dan Guatto worked all out during the power outage to get light back on – rural Burlington proved to be a real challenge.

Smallegange and his COO DanGuatto, were out day and night.  The worked with the city’s Emergency Operations Committee and interacted with the various stakeholders in the electrical generation industry that serves Burlington.  Burlington doesn’t generate any power; it draws power from various sources and distributes it to homes in the city

Burlington Hydro is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city – you the taxpayer, own them and while you might gripe when you open that electrical bill, when the next one comes in be grateful that you had a fully dedicated team out on the streets and roads of the city fixing the problems.  There wasn’t a person on the operations side of Burlington Hydro who was at home Christmas Day.  It was all hands on deck and forget the idea of an eight-hour shift.

There is quite a story to tell on how Smallegange and Guatto kept it all together and got the job done.  At the second community meeting in Kilbride on Christmas Day, Smallegange was at the front of the room trying to give people detailed answers to the question: When?

He had maps and sheafs of papers in his hands.  Eyes bloodshot from a lack of sleep and his voice a little raspy as well, Smallegame’s voice began to rise as he tried to speak over all the other voices.  He paused and then said: ”I’m not yelling at you – I’m just trying to project my voice.”  It was that kind of day.

Smallegame, a father of three who lives in Burlington may have gotten to see his kids open a present but he sure wasn’t around the house in his slippers playing with the his children and the gifts they had been given.

Running Burlington Hydro is just one of the tasks Smallegame handles; he serves as one of Burlington’s appointments to the Conservation Authority and works closely with the city’s planning department on large projects that call for more than minimal power from the system.

During the awkward times with the MedicaOne project on John Street, Smallegame found himself in the middle of an issue that was not his making.  Power was needed some distance from line that ran along Lakeshore – who should pay for getting a large power line from Lakeshore up to Caroline where the development is to be located was not something Hydro expected to be involved in.

What the public saw was an accomplished executive working just a little outside his comfort zone but nevertheless able to be part of a solution that kept everyone – well almost every – happy.

The efficient and effective distribution of power is essential for a city like Burlington that has moved from greenfield development to infill and intensification.

Running the day-to-day part of the operation that keeps the lights on is job enough – learning that there is a major piece of weather is on the way has Smallegame checking the tools he needs for emergencies and then moving a totally different mode.

It has been a mammoth task.  Early next week the hydro accountants will begin to figure out the cost of the ice storm –they may not be as quick to tell you about that as they were in getting crews out into the field and cutting trees and re-stringing hydro wires.

Christmas Day at the Kilbride Fire Station: Scott Stewart, General manager Infrastructure and development for the city takes questions from area residents while Gerry Smallegame and Dan Guatto look on. Fire Chief Tony Bavato looks on.

With power restored work crews focus on clean-up.   “In the coming days and weeks our staff will focus on the clean-up” was the way  Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure saw things panning out. . “Our crews will be clearing fallen trees and branches and other debris in all parts of the city.”

The Region is lifting the three-bag limit for garbage pick-up, allowing households to place as many  as six bags of garbage for collection on their scheduled day until Jan. 31, 2014. Brush debris will also be picked up on the same day as garbage from Jan. 6-31, 2014 in designated urban areas. For rural areas, Halton Region is coordinating additional resources.

Resident can also drop off brush debris at the Halton Waste Management site free of charge.

The city has set up two drop-off stations – one in Lowville Park (6207 Guelph Line) parking lot and the other at Ella Foote Hall (2175 Blessington St.) – where residents who are able to can drop off brush and wood.

The drop-off sites open on Sunday, Dec. 29 and are staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be either a loader or a backhoe at each location to assist with debris.

The Warming Centre at the Kilbride Fire Station and the Haber Recreation Centre are now closed. The city’s Emergency Operations Committee has also stood down.

 There are a lot of branches that have fallen and while most have been moved to the side of the road where they will be picked up – there are situations where branches have to be moved. Email rpm@burlington.ca

We came through it.  There were some significant communications glitches that need to be looked at but there were no fatalities.  A lot of tired men who spent long hours climbing poles and trimming branches from a box at the end of a boom with the sound of a chain saw roaring in their ears.  


It was a winter wonder land for amateur photographers – a challenge for hydro crews.


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Who serves on city council and how did they get there. You could be there – think about it.

December 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The holiday Season is often used as a time of year to look both back at what you managed to get done and forward to think about what you would like to get done.

Family, finances, career and whatever you have in your bucket list that gets at least some thought and attention.

Think career for a bit – how is yours going?  Promotion perhaps?  What about a total career change?

Some of these Council members may not get re-elected. Two already have candidates who have announced they will run against sitting members. Of the seven there is just the one that is rock solid; all the others could be beaten if the right candidate came along.

Does public service have any interest for you?  Do you see yourself sitting as a member of city council?  Think about it.  Many people work for corporations that are civic-minded enough to see a person leave the company for an extended period of time and serve the community and the return eight years later in a new capacity.

The larger corporations like the idea of having someone return with a deep understanding as to how local government works.  Well just what is local government and what role does a council member play.

Lots of reading is something you would be doing a lot of – and the opportunity to think through real problems that need solutions.  Local government needs people with some business experience and a capacity to see the larger picture.  Burlington currently has a very significant infrastructure deficit – there are miles of roads that are going to have to be re-built in the not too distant future and we don’t have the money to pay for that work right now.

If your current background is in marketing – see the city’s problem as refurbishing an existing product that is essential but has a tired worn out look.  How do you convince your customer base to go along with a price increase?

We took this …

… and replaced it with this. Was this good planning?

Burlington has to grow its population.  It may not be something many people in the city want to see happen – but the province has ruled that our population is to increase.  Developers see those decisions as an opportunity to buy up older properties that have a single small bungalow on a large piece of land and assemble them into a single property on which they will build housing that will be home for a larger number of people.

This is what city building is all about. Seven young Burlingtonians made plaster impressions of their hand prints which were then engraved on the marker that tells the story of the pier and its construction. Despite its construction woes and legal problems the pier is a magnificent addition to the city.

When this kind of development takes place the decisions a city council makes results in a different look to the city; more congestion if you will.  What a council is really doing is “city building” – which when you think about it is pretty exciting stuff.

The planning department works with the developers to come up with the best design and use of land but the final decision is made by city council.  You are in that seat making decisions on the kind of city that your children and their children will eventually live in.  You are making decisions on where your parents will live when they decide to move out of that big house they no longer need and can’t handle into something that is smaller and more manageable.

If you check the city skyline you will see those tall construction cranes at construction sites – many of which are locations for new retirement homes.  They aren’t what they used to be.  The baby boomers are approaching retirement and they are going to do that part of their life differently – and why not, they did everything else differently.  In Burlington, your city council is wrestling with a couple of retirement residences that make a lot of sense when you look at them carefully – but they represent change which isn’t something we human being handle all that well.

The managing of differences is a large part of being a council member.  Politics is all about finding a balance between the various interests and having the strength of character to listen, discern and make decisions that benefit the community at large.  Read up on the differences between various groups who live along Lakeshore Road and don’t want their road clogged up with runners for half a day once a year.  The city loves the 4000 plus people who come to the city for that day and spend major dollars.  Is it too much to ask a group of residents to give a bit so a major event can take place?  Some certainly think so.  What would you do were you a council member and had that one dropped into your lap?

It was the biggest event of the year for the city. The Pier finally opened. Most people love the place – but there are still some legal problems. Is the Pier likely to become an election issue?

The city is involved in some extensive costly litigation related to the pier.  Would you want the public to know how much is being spent on legal fees?  Two of the seven members of this current council have come out publicly for telling the public – the others want to wait until the various court cases are over.  What would you do?  These are not minor matters.  As media people we believe that an informed public can make informed decisions.  We also believe that it is vital for the democratic process we use to choose our leaders be one that consistently brings in new people.  We have two council members who have been in place for more than 20 years each.  Of the seven in place now three were newly elected last election.  Some people are cut out for public service others are not.  Fortunately the public gets to decide on who should stay and who should not be returned.

It’s pretty tough stuff at times – but it is what makes the city you have chosen to live in work the way it works.  Poorly run cities depress the value of property and they become places people choose not to live in.

Becoming a Council member means you face a pretty steep learning curve.  You are not just a member of city council but you are also a member of the Regional Council.  You will work some nights.  Better like people.

The money isn’t bad – you will earn something a little over $100,000 and have an assistant to help you do the job.  You will have a territory – see it as a sales territory with a quota – you want to keep at least 50% of the customers happy so you can be returned to office.  Promise the community you will serve two terms – no more –  then stick to the promise.

Is it something you would like to do?  Log into the city’s web site, rummage through the various documents and go through the Burlington Gazette archives.  The council you will read about needs some new blood and there is nothing more satisfying than truly serving your community.

Thicken up your hide – no room for the thin-skinned in this game.  If you want better local government – be part of it.  And if you decide to file nomination papers – let us know right away – we want to tell your story.


No place for the thin skinned.

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Hydro crews closing in on the final home that will get power restored: biggest problem they have had in decades.

December 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Gerry Smallegange probably didn’t sleep all that well Friday night.  The weather people are predicting winds of 20 kmh – which in the world Smallegange currently lives in is not good news.

Gerry Smallegange, center, along with his COO Dan Guatto  explaining to Kilbride area residents just where Hydro was in its restoring power to the community project.

The temperature hasn’t risen enough for enough of the ice on the trees in north Burlington to melt.  If those tree branches start swaying in the wind they could come down on all those hydro lines he has had to re-build.

Smallegange is the chief cheese at Burlington Hydro who, along with his second in command,  Dan Guatto, have been at it  24/7 since the first sign of a serious weather problem became evident more than a week ago.

It was close to impossible to keep up with the demand for help.  Saturday of last week Smallegange knew that he had thousands of homes in the city without power.  Situations like this are not new to the people who supply homes with electricity – it was the sheer volume that came close to crippling the hydro people.

By the end of the Monday, the 23rd, things were beginning to look a little better.  Lines were getting put back up in the communities south of the QEW but there were still some stubborn pockets that were taking longer than expected.

While north Burlington wasn’t being ignored by any stretch – the scope and scale of the problem up there was brutal.  Smallegange knew that he had a very significant problem on his hands and needed all the help he could get.  He also needed a break in the weather – and that wasn’t happening.

The ice that had built upon the hydro wires needed to melt – and the temperatures were staying at a stubborn six to ten degrees below zero.

Working from his cell phone with an ear piece, Dan Guatto, the senior operations person at Burlington Hydro, is in communication with each of the hydro crews and the eight tree trimming trucks out on the roads of North Burlington during the power outage.

The city’s Emergency Coordinating Committee was almost in constant session and doing their best to maintain a constant flow of information to city residents.  The difficulty was that with no power radio and television were useless as was the internet and social media.

What worked best was  neighbour telling neighbour and in the north – community meetings.  The city held its first community meeting in Kilbride where hundreds showed up with questions.  The city did its best – but at times that wasn’t good enough.

The lack of information was frustrating for the residents without power and the politicians and bureaucrats who had information.  Information, like energy, has to have lines it can flow through – and the available lines weren’t working all that well when it came to keeping people informed.

For those without power – they were in the dark in more ways than one.   For reasons that are not yet clear the city’s communications department didn’t seem to have strong working relationships with the radio stations – which meant the people needing the information weren’t getting it from the radio stations – apparently because information wasn’t getting from the city to that media.

The news people have one need – information – and if it is given to them – they get it out.  Mayor Goldring expressed considerable frustration over the lack of radio coverage.  “This has been a frustration and challenge for us, compounded by the time of year when so many organizations are working with lighter than usual staff compliments., he said in his blog posted on the city’s web site.

Mayor Rick Goldring explaining to Kilbride area residents what was being done and the time frames the repair crews were working to in their community.

Mayor Goldring went on to “ assure you that we did communicate extensively with the local stations that reach the Burlington audience. Burlington is without its own radio station; if we had our own station, it would have helped enormously in pushing communication out to those without power. I will be asking our Communications staff to reach out to area radio stations in order to create better connections during times of emergency.”  Better late than never, I suppose.

Many of the outdoor locations that families use during holiday periods are not operational.  Of the seven facilities run by the Galton Conservation Authority – just the one, Glen Eden, is open. All the others:Crawford Lake; Mt. Nemo; Mountsberg; Hilton Falls; Rattlesnake Point and Robert Edmondson are closed and are expected to remain closed until early in the New Year.

While it has been tough for Burlingtonians – the rest of Halton has had it hard as well.  The situation in Toronto is beyond comprehension and it isn’t much better elsewhere.

Bolton: 368 customers 

Guelph: 1,639 customers 

Orangeville: 1,774 customers 

Toronto Hydro: 32,400 customers (300,000 at peak)

Brampton: 500 customers 

Halton Hills Hydro: 900 customers 

York Region (Power Stream): 1,000 customers 

Durham Region (Veridian): 1,000 customers 

Milton Hydro: less than 1,000 customers 

The city is now running the Emergency Operations centre out of the Kilbride Fire Station which is also serving as a Warming Centre where people can get drinking water and to use washroom facilities.

The Haber Recreation Centre – 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr., Burlington, is set up as an overnight evacuation centre with warm beds and hot showers.

A photographers paradise: a major problem for hydro crews when there is ice on those tree branches that become a real problem when the wind rises and the branches begin to sway and snap off – falling onto the hydro lines.

Hydro just might be able to report by the end of the day that they have our local problems licked – assuming the winds stay low and the temperature rises.  Burlington Hydro crews can them move on into other communities and beginning stringing hydro lines elsewhere.

Burlington has a neat little habit of referring to those occasions where problems have cropped up as opportunities to learn – and learn they will.  Mayor Goldring added in his blog that: In the following weeks, we will be conducting a thorough review, debrief and analysis of our response to the ice storm. We have learned a great deal from this experience and much of what we have learned will be incorporated into future emergency operations response. Our communication protocols and the tools we have available are areas that we have realized need particular focus.

He got that part right.


Mayor leafs through his emergency Measures Manual

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Hydro works around the clock Christmas Day to get power on in North Burlington homes. “It’s a challenge” says the Mayor.

December 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Christmas Day in a rural fire hall and hearing explained Gerry Smallegange, Burlington Hydro’s President and Chief Executive Officer explained that he was not yelling “ I just want to project my voice as far as I can.”  He was speaking to a group of about 75 people who had gathered in the Kilbride Fire Station waiting to learn when the lights might come on in their homes.

The crowd just wanted to know when the power was going to come back on.  No power, no water from the well, no water to flush toilets – it wasn’t a pretty picture.

At this point, day six in the power outage experience Burlington was having, there were less than 200 homes without power.

Smallegange’s fear was that there might be more if the weather conditions changed.  Smallegange isn’t the worrying kind of guy but he was in instant communication with the work crews who were out on the roads and the feedback was not promising.

Burlington Hydro CEO Gerry Smallegange and Dan Guatto, COO and Vice President take the crowd at the fire hall through a road by road description of the work that had to be done and when they hoped it would all be completed.

“The ice is this thick” explained Smallegange, as he held up his thumb and his forefinger almost as far apart as he could, and it isn’t melting.  And with the snow that is falling he added – there is going to be more weight on those ice-covered branches and they will break and fall – on top of those hydro wires we have put back up a few days ago.

It was an exhausting experience for the hydro people.  Foresters would go along a road and be followed by hydro people who would re-build a line and get the power moving.

Cedar Springs Road had sections that were impassable – just about every road in the city had piles of brush and broken branches along the sides of the road.

Along with the heavy equipment and very tired foresters and hydro teams there were dozens of photographers out taking pictures of the sheer beauty.  When the sun shone though those ice-covered trees one had the impression they were in a world made of glass with everything glistening in the sunshine

You wore what you needed to keep warm.

But it was not sunshine for the Kilbride area residents who asked how long they could leave their generator running before it blew up.  “What are you running off it” asked a city staffer?  A couple of lights and the sump pump.  You’re OK – but try and shut it down once a day and make sure there is plenty of oil in the machine.  I didn’t think I would be running it for that much longer was the response.

The 75+ people in the fire hall were brought to the location for a meeting to get an update on just where things were. Dan Guatto, Chief Operating Officer for Hydro had sheets of paper with road by road, address by address information – but as Smallegange added again and again – these are not promises – this information is what we think we can do.

The city has moved its  Emergency Operations Centre to the Kilbride fire hall that will be in place until all hydro in the area is restored. It is staffed with employees from Burlington Hydro and the City of Burlington.

Hydro staff will provide residents with details on the efforts they are taking to restore power as well as an estimate on when hydro will be restored to homes in that area.

Fire chief Tony Bavota handing out cards with direct line telephone numbers and ensuring that people got the help they needed. Bavota said he wasn’t going to worry about lines of authority – if they need help – Bavota did everything he could to get it to them.

There are currently 120 Burlington Hydro customers without power.

The anticipated restoration schedule from Burlington Hydro for the remaining  customers is:

 6683 Twiss Road, 5675 to 6583 Twiss Road – targeting late Thursday or Friday morning

No 8 Sideroad on the south side west of Twiss road – targeting Saturday but could go to Sunday/ Monday

All of Panton Road – Friday

Breckinridge court / McNiven Court – tonight / into tomorrow morning

McNiven Road – south of Kilbride road on Friday, north on Saturday

2465, 2365 Britannia, 3175 Britannia – targeting Saturday and Sunday

Millar Cres at Guelph Line to No. 1 Sideroad – targeting tonight.  All of Milborough Town Line – Friday

Britannia west of cedar springs over to Milborough town line – Friday / Saturday

Cedar Springs Road from Britannia south to No. 1 Sideroad – portions tomorrow but some pieces will take until next week (cedar springs community internal)

Blind Line south of Britannia to Colling Road and all of Colling Road – Sunday earliest

6059, 6101, 6150, 6202-0, 5089 Walkers Line – energizing in pieces tonight if there are no trees

 To ensure the safety and protection of homes Halton Regional Police have extra officers in north Burlington who have been proactively patrolling the area.

The city will continue to keep their two warming stations open for residents.

 Burlington Fire Station No. 5 –2241 Kilbride St., Burlington, provides a place to warm up, to get drinking water and to use washroom facilities.

 Haber Recreation Centre – 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr., Burlington, is set up as an overnight evacuation centre with warm beds and hot showers.

The city`s Emergency Coordinating Committee: From the left, Ward 3 Council member John Taylor – much of the damage was in his ward, Mayor Goldring, city manager Jeff Fielding, communications advisor Lee Oliver, Roads and Park Maintenance Director Cathy Robertson, General manager Scott Stewart and a nice guy from the Region who we cannot identify.

Adding to the power outage problems was the difficulty in getting information to people.  No telephone service and limited cell phone service in the area meant the city had to have people going door-to-door to let people know about the meetings.

City General Manager Scott Stewart led the parade for the city; fielding questions and making sure people got the answers they needed.

Residents were able to bring their cell phones  into the fire hall to re-charge them; they were able to pick up fresh water and get the latest information.

Volunteer fire fighters were going to man the Kilbride station 24×7 until power was back up.

What about fire response times asked a residents.  Fire chief Tony Bavota admitted that fire response time in the rural area were not as good as they are elsewhere in the city.  Bavota has re-arranged his staff and will have regular fire fighters in the Kilbride station during the day.

Smallegange tweets on the hour and the Mayor re-tweets but for those with cell phones that get low on power all the marvels of the electronic age don`t help.

Another problem that many people were not aware of is – who owns the line that is down?  Some of the lines are feeder lines and belong to the power authority – and that puts wrinkles in the repair work.

Smallegange explained that it can take 4 to 8 hours to rebuild a line on a rural property with a long lane and a lot of trees.

Mayor Rick Goldring was on hand to assure people that everything possible was being done. City manager Jeff Fielding stood by ready to back up every statement he Mayor made.

“Burlington loves its trees – and they are great” said Smallegange – “but at times like this – those old trees and their canopy are a real problem for us.”

City manager Jeff Fielding added that “we don’t know how to get to you guys”  which had the city sending people door to door.  The target was to have everyone with power by Saturday – but weather conditions were the unknown

“We need you to feed information to us – and that isn’t easy – there really wasn’t a one place – an information central if you will – that people could call.  Moving the EOC to the Kilbride fire hall was a help – that allows people to drive over, ask questions, pass along information, have cell phones charged and pick up fresh water.  It was in the process of becoming the community centre.

Councillors Lancaster and Taylor were on hand – but there really wasn`t much either of them could do – they both live south of Dundas and weren`t personally impacted.  What was clearly evident is the lack of political representation for the northern part of Burlington by people who actually live in those hills.

Hydro had 8 tree crews out on the road and explained that everyone wanted the foresters in their community. Milton is in worse condition than we are explained Smallegange, Oakville is in pretty good shape and Toronto has hydro crews in from Manitoba.

“When?”  was the question everyone was asking and when the response was “Could be Monday of next week”  a shudder and a shiver went through the room.There wasn’t a hydro worker involved in field operations who spent Christmas Day at home – everyone was in the field.  City General Manager Scott Stewart sheepishly admitted that he had not been home with his family for more than an hour or two.  The field crews got less than that.

Mayor Goldring was on hand explaining to people as well as he could what was being done and what just wasn’t possible.

It was a fluid situation – one at which every resource available was being put to use with an eye constantly being cast on the weather.  If the wind picks up” said Smallegange “much of the work we have done might well have to be done all over again.

Foresters worked around the clock – this picture was taken in the dead of night – brightened digitally to show the work being done.

Due to the geography and the way power feeder lines are set up there was a point where hydro crews had to go up over the Escarpment to access power.

No one uttered a word as to how much all this was going to cost.

At one point someone thanked Smallegange after a comment he made and the room burst into spontaneous applause.

“When?”  was the question everyone was asking and when the response was “Could be Monday of next week”  a shudder and a shiver went through the room.


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All Conservation Halton Parks closed until December 27th , Glen Eden scheduled to reopen December 26th – Boxing Day

December 24, 2013

By Staff.

BURLINGTON, ON. All Conservation Halton Parks and Glen Eden are still without power at the end of Monday the 23rd.  Due to the loss of electricity in the area, our staff’s ability to communicate via phone and email is limited at this time.


Great snow – most hills are open

Glen Eden will remain closed from December 23 to 25 and is scheduled to reopen on Boxing Day (December 26). Anyone who has missed programming, such as Lessons or Rentals, will be provided with other options.

All other Conservation Halton Parks will remain closed on December 24th, 25th and 26th. They are scheduled to reopen on Friday, December 27. Please note that the parks may have limited services available when they reopen, and they may not all open on the same day – we will post updates.

Special Note Regarding Cancellation of Christmas Town

Unfortunately the remaining Christmas Town programs for December 23 and 24 are cancelled. Staff will offer full refunds as well as provide other options to all our customers who were scheduled to attend on these days. We apologize for this cancellation; however we are unable to offer a quality experience without electricity.

Important Trail Safety Notice

Conservation Halton’s seven parks are also closed for safety reasons as the trails may be treacherous or have downed trees and limbs from the ice storm. Conservation Halton staff are inspecting the trails and doing any necessary maintenance.

We strongly advise everyone to stay out of the parks and off the trails until we are able to safely reopen. Users are also advised not to access trails under ice-covered trees and avoid trails until further notice on other lands that conservation Halton own/manage. These include all seven primary Conservation Areas – Crawford Lake, Hilton Falls, Kelso, Mount Nemo, Mountsberg, Rattlesnake Point and Robert Edmondson – as well as Clappison Woods, Waterdown Woods (Waterdown), Wildflower Woods (Oakville), 16 Mile Conservation Area (Oakville/Milton) and Carlisle Conservation Areas.

It can be very dangerous out there under the current conditions.

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Burlington to host 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League National Championship April 4-6 at Haber Recreational

December 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  When the Alton Campus was planned one of the intentions was to make the recreation portion of the campus a place where major sports events would be played.  With the site officially open less than a month there are already two events booked that are either province wide in focus or national events.

The Burlington Vipers, in conjunction with the city announced earlier this week that they will host the 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL) National Championship April 4-6, 2014 at the Haber Recreation Centre.

The tournament features competitive club teams from across Canada as they compete for the title of national champion and includes past, present, and future athletes with the Canadian National Team program.

Burlington will host the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Championships at the Haber Recreational Centre in April

Mayor Rick Goldring said he hopes “this is the first of many tournaments we host in partnership with Wheelchair Basketball Canada, and we’re proud that they chose Burlington as the host city for this prestigious event.”

Spectators will have the opportunity to witness all of the skill and athleticism that make wheelchair basketball one of the most popular sports for athletes with a disability in the world.

The Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL) was founded in 1986 and has two primary divisions: the open division and the women’s division. The league features wheelchair basketball club teams from across Canada and culminates each season with a national championship for each division.

The league is fully integrated as both divisions welcome athletes with a disability as well as able-bodied athletes to play in the spirit of competition. It often features some of the country’s best wheelchair basketball players, including past, present and future members of Team Canada.

Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport that has emerged as one of the most competitive and athletic sports played at the Paralympic Games. Our senior national teams are held in high esteem around the world for the elite skill and control that placed them on the podium with a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last six Paralympic Games.

Brendan Wagner, an Aldershot resident, played in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

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More than 200 homes still without power on Christmas Day – city will meet public in Kilbride at 4 pm.

December 25, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  All the roads are passable – you might have to be careful on many  of them but they are at least open.

This is not a lane way – this is a municipal road west of Cedar Springs.  It was cleared by Christmas Day.

Freezing rain covered everything leaving the landscape looking like a winter wonderland.

That is not a black snake – it is a hydro line tat was down – didn’t get restored until Christmas Day.

Once the branches were cleared a way Side Road 2 was ready for normal winter traffic.

A hydro incident waiting to happen.

The force of nature bowing before a structure built by man.

The damage was not limited to north of Dundas.  This home was south of Upper Middle, between Guelph Line and Walkers Line.

There were about 200 homes without power in the city – all in North Burlington at mid-day.  The city hopes to have that down to 150 by the end of the day.

Scott Stewart, city General Manager, said it might be Saturday before the very last homes get electricity.

Hydro workers found hundreds of situations where lines ether snapped or weighted down by ice hovering just above the ground.  Burlington Hydro had their crews out for all of Christmas Day.

The city will hold a public meeting in Kilbride late in the afternoon to bring people up to date and to look for ways to arrange for the sharing of generators to help people who have livestock and need to get at water.  Pumps are not working and those animals need water.

The city maintained the two Warming Centers; Haber Recreational Centre and the Kilbride Fire Station.  About 50 people have used the Fire Station to get water while a handful used the Haber showers.

Stewart headed home to be with his family to do the gift opening and then let his wife know that he would be out again late in the afternoon.  Mayor Goldring, Fire Chief Tony Bavota, Gerry Smallegange  of Hydro, Daniele Pitoscia from the city’s Clerks’ department as well as Parks and Road Maintenance Director Cathy Robertson and Park and Recreation Director Chris Glenn took part in the Emergency Coordinating Group to review where there were still problems and make sure all the bases were covered.  Stewart added there were a lot of people out early Christmas Day getting hydro lines back up and roads cleared.

City manager Jeff Fielding and communications advisor Lee Oliver were on hand as well.

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City and Hydro getting the storm damage under control but there are people who are going to have a cold Christmas.

December 24, 2013

By Staff

 BURLINGTON, ON.  Burlington Hydro reports that approximately 850 customers located north of Hwy 5 are still without power and no one is able yet, to say with any certainty just when all those homes will have full power.

It is a road by road situation.  An Appleby Line resident, who has a small generator, is running low on propane and not at all sure a truck is going to be able to get up the lane way.

Some 150 people attended the community meeting in Kilbride where they got a full update.

More than 6000 customers  have had their power restored  Hydro crews now have to deal with – falling snow, – is making wires already laden with ice even heavier.

City snow clearing operations are out in full force salting of primary and secondary sidewalks began overnight and is ongoing. Salting and sanding of primary and secondary roads is ongoing.

Burlington Hydro is hoping to restore power to the following areas today: 

Up Guelph Line from Lowville, across 8 Sideroad, to Twiss

Guelph Line south from Lowville

Cedar Springs to McNiven

Britannia east of Guelph Line to Appleby and down to No. 1 Sideroad and then up into Kilbride

Up and down Appleby Line and then up and down Walkers Line

West along Britannia from Walkers Line and then over to Waterdown Road

 Additionally, there remain some small outage pockets in the city. Crews were able to respond to most of these outages today, however, some localized outages remain and will be attended to tomorrow.

Customers are reminded of the dangers of downed power lines and the importance of staying well away. In an emergency situation, customers are reminded to call 9-1-1.

Two warming stations are available for residents still without power. They are located at:

Burlington Fire Station No. 5, 241 Kilbride St., Burlington

 Haber Recreation Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr., Burlington

The Haber Centre did have a couple of people use the location to take showers

The city’s Emergency Response group, which consists of the Mayor, city manager, general manager, fire chief, director of RPM, director of transit, director of parks and recreation, city clerk, and communications have been pulled together and have kept the community informed.  Hydro issues reports regularly.

The Region is kept informed  are brought in as well.

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Power restoration well under way with small pockets still without hydro.

December 24, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  The city opened three locations where people could go to for warmth and shelter while power in residences was out if they were unable to find any other place to go to.

Burlington Fire Station No. 5, at 2241 Kilbride St., in North Burlington.  The Seniors’ Centre on New St., – Central Park adjacent to the Central Library and Arena and the Haber Recreation Centre in Alton Village at Tim Dobbie Dr., just north of Dundas were originally set up but by Monday evening the city was able to cut that back to just the one location – the Haber Recreation Centre.

Residents of North Burlington met at Kilbride Fire Station Monday afternoon for an update from the City,  Burlington Hydro and Halton Region about post-ice storm cleanup and power restoration efforts.

Power has been restored to most homes in Burlington, but there are still small pockets across the city without electricity.

Haber Recreation Centre gymnasium: Is this to be “home” for anyone in Burlington on Christmas Day?

Haber is now the city’s primary warming station. Residents from across the city who still lack electricity are encouraged to visit Haber Recreation Centre to warm up or stay overnight.

Those heading to the evacuation centre to stay overnight should bring the following items: sleeping bags, extra blankets, toiletries, medication, money, identification and warm clothes. Also consider books, board games, playing cards, electronic devices with chargers and extra batteries.

Domestic pets are also welcome at the evacuation centre and will be housed in a separate area. Please bring pet crates, food and pet dishes.

Kilbride Fire Station No. 5 will remain open overnight and tomorrow as a warming centre and as place for residents to pick up drinking water.

Now that the Haber evacuation centre is operational, the warming station at the Seniors’ Centre has been closed.

For more details:

See city updates at www.Burlington.ca  or directly at the city’s Ice Storm link

To report power outages and to hear the latest hydro updates,  call Burlington Hydro at 1-877-310-4937

To report fallen trees or branches call 905-333-6166 or email  rpm@burlington.ca

Halton Region will be picking up brush in the coming weeks in both urban and rural areas of the city.

Public inquiries can be directed tonight, Monday the 23rd  from 5 to 10 p.m. to 905-467-0135 and tomorrow, Tuesday the 24th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.


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The power outage and retail politics. Who was on the front line and who wasn’t?

December 23, 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We were away for three days and missed the havoc the weather wreaked on Burlington.  Tucked away safely in Huntsville for a family pre-Christmas we watched as Toronto struggled to get a grip on their problems.  CHCH didn’t have all that much on Burlington so when we headed back Monday afternoon we weren’t at all sure what we were going to find.  Did the pipes freeze and burst.  Did a tree fall on the house?

The drive down Hwy 11 and the 400 then 407 was all but perfect.  Cruising down Guelph Line everything looked fine and as we turned into Palmer Drive we didn’t see any damage worth noting.

Damaging but beautiful to observe in the late afternoon sunshine

We did marvel at how beautiful those trees in the fields along Hwy 11 and 400 covered in ice looked as they glistened in the afternoon sunshine.  Sheer beauty.

Eventually got a sense of the Burlington situation when we went on-line and got caught up.  Our power never did go out – the clocks were right on in terms of time and other than some branch damage in the back yard we were fine – but many others were not.

We read of the Warming Centre set up by the city and the Region – who didn’t always seem to be on the same page.  There was a solid stream of media releases from the city as well where Helen Wallahura appeared to be the only person speaking for the city.

We understand the Mayor was at city hall but there was nothing from him – unless he was tweeting or putting everything up on his blog.

What was interesting and revealing was the way the ward Councillors used or didn’t use social media.  Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was all over the place and seemed to be putting out more information that city hall and Burlington Hydro combined.  Her output was retail politics at its best.

In one email the thread read like this:

There wasn’t all that much need to see who was behind you – you probably weren’t going anywhere anyway.

As of 5:30 pm tonight, power is out in 12 of the city’s 28 transformers, affecting about 4800 customers. Hardest hit are areas in North Burlington where falling trees have brought down power lines, creating serious safety issues. Those areas will be brought back up first.

 Once individual transformers are up, there will be several days of tree clearing and re-hanging power lines, radiating from the transformer out. Therefore, the further you live from a transformer, the longer you could be without power.

 Ward 2 areas affected

  Pockets of streets in Ward 2 are still without power, including parts of Martha St, Wellington, Caroline, Emerald Cresc. Ghent, Drury Lane, Bridgeman, Lorne and more. This isn’t a full list, but what I know about right now.

 Let me know if you have power, or are out of power. I’ll provide updates on social media throughout the night.

 Ward 2 may be without power for 36 or more hours.

  What to do if you are without power

 If you are without power, there are several options:

 ?? Call a friend to stay with

  ?? Can’t get out? Call my cell at 905-220-5749 and I’ll arrange for fire department pickup.

  ?? Know someone who is a shut in? Let me know and we’ll check on them.

Part of Meed Ward’s Facebook page read like this:

Councillor Meed Ward was everywhere – with very specific and detailed information.  The only thing she didn’t tell people was which pizza delivery services had power.

Councillor Meed Ward kept the pace up and was getting great response from her readers.

Councillor Blair Lancaster did have an entry on her Facebook page but there was some splash back she certainly didn’t appreciate.  There is only so much damage a franchise can take – the Miss Canada story may have run its course in Burlington.


Social media has its plus side – but being a two-way pipeline – the blow-back can be – unsettling.

There were situations like this across the province – that may keep some people out of their homes Christmas Day.

Based purely on what we were able to see on social media there was never the sense that the Mayor was in charge; that he was in regular touch with the people who were driving the response on the ground.  Did the Mayor tour the city at all with either the fire chief or some of the EMS people.  If he did there was no mention of that on social media.

Councillor Meed Ward understand retail politics better than anyone else in this city – that became abundantly evident during the power outages.  Expect to see her out checking on things Christmas Day as well.

Do people turn to the city website for information?  Or do they rely on people they have confidence in and trust?


Many people did get a generic Christmas message from Jeff Fielding, the city manager who apologized for not getting a thank you note out to individual people but explained the combination of the snow storm and the rain that turned into ice – there just wasn’t any time.

At least we knew he was there.




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Rivers plans his Christmas shopping: it could have been worse.

December 24, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.   Ray Rivers usually writes for us the last part of each week – but his material has a best before date that happens to be Christmas Day – so – from the pen – or keyboard of the Ridiculous Ray River we give you:  A dialogue:

So come on sweetie, you seemed to manage every other year – how many is it now? 

“Yeah I know, but this year it’s seems like I have to deliver more coal than candy, if you know what I mean.”  “What is the problem dearie, its your job.  Do I have to do all the thinking around here?  “ Ok – you’re right – but do you think you could help me with this, honey bunch”?  Fire away, Santa Baby.

The old pitchman trying to sell a Judge on a golf ball scheme. Chretien at the Gomery Inquiry

 “Jean Chretien?”  Golf balls. “Again?”

 “And Mulroney?”  Has he been good?  “I think so – let me see – yeah he kept his head down this year”  What did he ask for?  “An envelope of unmarked bills… again”. “Why not give some more shoes for Mila and a cheque made out to that disgusting Karl Heinz guy ?

 “Ah, here’s a tough one – Rob Ford”?   I know were supposed to give and not take – but lets do him a favour and take away his recreational drugs.


He was born to be different -just how different is something we will have to wait for.

“And Justin Trudeau”?  “Give him Fords drugs.

 “Wow, you’re good at this – so for Stephen Harper some new music so we won’t have to listen to him ruining the Beatles – besides it’s so yesterday… get it, Yesterday.  Oh and some anti-depressants to lighten him up little”. Yes, thats the spirit you ole flying-sleigh driver – and maybe do something to stop his nose from growing every time he opens his mouth

 “By Jove, I think I’m on a roll.  For Pamela Wallin a new board directorship.  She no longer has to pretend she is doing Senate work.  I’ll put it conveniently in Saskatchewan.  Mike Duffy’ll get a subscription to weight watchers and Nigel Wright a cheque for $90,000.  I’ll drop off some boxing lessons for Patrick Brazeau, so he won’t get whipped so pathetically by Trudeau next time around.

 “Dont forget to give Joe Oliver and the NEB a lump of coal for pushing so hard for those pipelines“Better still, I’ll give him a pot full of tar smack dab from the tar sands – Brer’ Oliver.  For Jim Flaherty I’ll just wrap up the Ford brothers, he likes them so much – and sending them to Whitby-Oshawa will be Jason Kenny’s gift as well.”

“For Tom Mulcair I have a shaving kit – you’d think he was competing with me with that hideous looking beard.”  I do hate the whisker burn I end up with after our annual get-it-on whether we need it or not, you old red-coated devil.  “Oh – I can’t leave out Elizabeth May.  How about one of those old classic two-seat Honda hybrids, now that she has finally got another Green Party member to fill the second seat.”

Is this the Whitehorse Post Office?

 “There, youre almost done.  What about that CEO, Chopra, from the Post Office? “Oh yeah I’ll help him get some exercise… a ‘group mail box’ of his very own in Whitehorse.  That man really cares about seniors staying fit.  Oh and I’ll give his gold-plated pension to the Salvation Army.”

 “Let’s not forget Mike Wallace.”  How about a column of his own in the Burlington Gazette?  “Right, but does he have anything to say?  And since you mention that, how about a printing press for Pepper Par so he can give people the feel of a real newspaper.?  There youre all done.  I told you it wouldt be that hard. 

 “Except for that Ray Rivers character.”  Well I know hed be happy if we just wished all the readers a very merry Christmas.

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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Target stores get hit with credit card breach – data stolen on thousands of cards.

December 20, 2013

By Staff.

BURLINGTON, ON.  You will have heard about the 40 million credit and debit cards that were stolen from Target store computers.  That theft is going to do as yet untold damage to the Target corporation.

And it is likely to impact a lot of individuals.  There are several ways you can protect yourself.

This type of card is dangerous.  The data on the magnetic strip is easily stole.

First – never use your debit or credit card on a machine that swipes the magnetic stripe on the back of the card.  If the device at the place you are doing a transaction does not have a pin feature – that’s where you push the card into the device – don’t use it and tell the operator of the location that you will not use the level of technology.

High school students now know how to steal the data from your card on machines that rely on the magnetic stripe.  It is very unsafe.

The second thing you can do is get a credit card that has a predetermined limit.  Something in the $500 range and use that for your on line purchases.  There are a number of organizations that offer these cards – Home Trust in Canada has this kind of card.  While it is called a credit card – it is really a Visa card that you load your money on.  Because it has a small limit – your full line of credit on another card is not exposed.

The data on this type of card is within that gold square – very hard to breach that kind of technology.

When Target announced the computer breach they advised that thieves had accessed data stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards during the Black Friday weekend through card swiping machines that could have been tampered with at the retailer’s stores, a practice known as card skimming.

The data could have been used to create counterfeit cards that could even be used to withdraw money at an ATM, according to the reports.

Target said it “is working closely with law enforcement and financial institutions, and has identified and resolved the issue.” It also said it was working with an outside forensics firm. 

The data that was stolen was sold within hours of its theft and was being used the next day.

Security news writer Brian Krebs reported Wednesday that it was first thought that the breach extended from just after Thanksgiving 2013 to Dec. 6. But investigators found evidence that the breach may have lasted up to Dec. 15, which has now been confirmed by Target.

The Target store computers were the target for data thieves.  Someone took a big bite out of them.

Millions of cardholder accounts may have been vulnerable after the breach that is believed to have affected about 40,000 card machines at store registers, The Wall Street Journal said, quoting people familiar with the situation. Sources at two of the top 10 card issuers told Krebs that the breach had affected nearly all Target locations in the U.S.  They make no direct mention of Canadian locations – we have two of them in Burlington.

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No coal for these Christmas stockings – the Significant Seven are not forgotten.

 December 19, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We wish each and every one of the significant seven that set policy at city hall the Merriest of Christmases.  .  We have watched you; perhaps more than anyone else in the city, as you have done the job you were each elected to do.  On this your last Christmas this term we want to put our wish for you in that Christmas stocking you have hung.  No pieces of coal from us in your Christmas stockings. 

We have watched you for every meeting you have held – well not for those that you chose to go into a CLOSED session for – there were far too many of those by the way.

Has anyone ever done a count as to how many times you have gone into a CLOSED session on the city’s legal travails with the pier?   When you do get someone to count you will shudder.  It didn’t have to be that way.

Let us run through the seven and tell you what we wish for them.  It would not be fair to start with Ward 1 – everyone has been dumping on Councillor Craven recently, so let’s start with the Dean of Council – John Taylor.

John Taylor, Ward 3: Thoughtful, emotional always come out for the little guy.

We would wish John two things – more time at home with his wife and some time to think before he lets his emotions get to his tongue before his brain does.  John knows as much as anyone as to how the city works.  He struggles a bit to pull some of that information off the shelves in his head and pass the information along. 

Would that there were a Senate for municipal politicians – a place people like John could be sent to and where we could call upon them for sober second thought and some refection as to what municipal government is all about.

Jack Dennison, Ward 4  – Still athletic, still breaking he boundaries

For Councillor Jack Dennison in Ward 4 we would wish a membership in the Roseland Community Organization – they chose not to accept his membership cheque and so he is for the most part on the outs with some of the people who make things happen in this city.

We would wish as well,  an Ontario Municipal Board decision that is deserved, one that reflects the best for the community he was elected to represent.

Blair Lancaster, Ward 5:  Picture perfect

For Blair Lancaster, the ward six Councillor,  we wish a clear understanding as to just what a conflict of interest is and to understand as well the difference between the people she was elected to represent and those that have strong vested interests and want to exploit their relationship with her.

As well, we wish her the wisdom to reflect and fully understand the agendas set out for the Standing Committees she now chairs.  There are many watching her performance very closely; this is her chance to show those that wonder if she has what it takes.  And perhaps a can of tiara polish – might be needed to get her over the finish line come October.

Finally, an appreciation for those voters north of the 407.  They basically represent the number of votes Lancaster won by last time out.

Paul Sharman, Ward 5:  Focused, data driven.

For Paul Sharman – the Ward 5 council member who came on so strong during his first year and now seems to have gotten his wheels  spinning in a thing called the data rut.  The art of politics – and it is an art Councillor, not a science, is about people not strategies we wish a biography of Fiorello LaGuardia, the famous Mayor of New York city who loved every constituent he had and often took city buses just to be with them. Irascible, energetic, and charismatic, he craved publicity and is acclaimed as one of the three or four greatest mayors in American history.

We would add to the list of gifts for you, a Friends of Freeman Station – the one you could wear when you apologize for doubting their ability to pull of the magnificent job they have done.  Add to that T-shirt the grace to do the smart thing when they delegate next and thank them and ask how you can help.

But that touch of arrogance, just a bit, wouldn’t let you do that. So add a velvet bag you can put some of that arrogance into and then toss it out.

We would add for you a PRESTO pass that you can wave at campaign meetings to show that you are ready to take the bus.

Rick Craven, Ward 1: Plains Road, Plains Road and Plains Road.

Our wish for Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is for someone to give the man a good tickle along with a train set he can play with.  Craven has a bad case of serious, serious, serious.  The boy in him needs to be allowed to come out.  We don`t think Councillor Craven has bad manners but we do think he needs to use the ones he was given.  Politics is not a game for the thin-skinned.

A Dear Abbey book on manners will do the trick here.

So for Councillor Craven – the ability to laugh, have fun, engage people, like the people he   represents (not always easy)  Set aside your well-marked copy of the Procedural bylaw and accept the gift of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people.   Politics is about people – ya gotta like them and you have to like yourself before you can like others.  Time for some deep reflection – there is a hill on the horizon Craven may not manage to get over.

Then there is His Worship.  He wants to do a good job, and desperately wants to do the right thing – and to be liked at the same time.  Leadership is being able to figure out what the right thing is for the community you lead.  That chain of office can be very heavy at times.  Each time you put on that chain of office – you need to also take on the strength of character voters thought they saw in you when they marked an X beside your name.

Mayor Rick Goldring: Compassionate, still looking for the right direction for him.

Many describe you as a weak Mayor.  Your reasons for running in 2010 were more emotional, with that worked out of your system you can now show the city who you really are with a thoroughly thought out plan.  Losing your senior advisor hasn’t helped.  There is a very good chance you will be acclaimed – which would not be good for Burlington nor for you.  You need to be challenged and further tested and given the opportunity to come through a hard fight and be the Mayor you could be – but that is going to call for you to be stronger, more forthright and more deliberate.  Were a strong well focused candidate to come forward – you can be beaten.

So for you Your Worship a good Churchill biography to gain some sense of how great leaders handle crisis and lead their people – the one done by Roy Jenkins is a perfect place to start.   We can promise that we will not have put another book by Lance Secretan in your stocking.

We wish you time to spend with the people in this city who raised you, perhaps a long talk with a high school teacher.  We wish you time to reach out and find people who can help you shape a second term.  Do something that is well outside your comfort zone –  be bold.

We wish as well, the smarts to better understand how Meed Ward has defined herself and the introspection to determine how you want to define yourself in the months ahead.

Finally, we wish a candidate that will test your mettle and force you to defend all the decisions you made during your first term.  You will be a better Mayor for it – and Burlington will be a better city if you win.

And finally Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward we wish a dictionary with fewer words.  Of the three new Councillors she has grown the most and extended her reach far beyond the boundaries of her ward.  She is the go to person for many people in every ward – but she talks too much.

Marianne Meed Ward, Ward 2:  She has it figured out – now can she pull it off.

Meed Ward no longer has to says she might run for the office of Mayor – other people, many of them, say it for her.  She has changed the way all council members communicate with their constituents.  Her ward “council” is a close to perfect example of how a Councillor should interact with constituents.

Meed Ward may well run for the office of Mayor at some point in the future – but in the world of politics the future is a long, long way off.

She may well be acclaimed in 2014 – the chances of anyone beating her are slim to none.  There is no one on the horizon that comes even close to threatening her.

In the event that she is acclaimed that will keep her out of the 2014 municipal election race – which will drive her bananas.  She loves the game; she loves the job she has and she loves working for people.

While Meed Ward has certainly grown there are some lessons to be learned.  We wish several large colourful pictures for Meed Ward – each picture will save her 1000 words.

We wish her the opportunity to attract advisors who can guide her as she grows.  We wish her the time to take a summer course on economics and finance and how assets can be used as leverage.

There was a time when she had few supporters within staff – that is changing.  She has work to do at the senior levels – she is never going to get to the point where she will be exchanging Christmas cards with the city’s planner.

Burlington’s Significant Seven.

The Season is about to settle upon us.  Home, family, friends and time to relax and reflect are gift we wish for each and every one of you.

Return to city hall in January and meet with the Clerk to file your nomination papers.

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Two children say no – police now looking for older man carrying a small pink backpack.

December 19, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Police are asking the public for the public’s assistance in identifying a man who interacted with two children on Spruce Avenue near Goodram Drive, on  December 17, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.  Two children were walking home from school when a man approached on foot and engaged them in conversation.  During the brief interaction the man offered to give them a ride home, which they refused. 

During the brief interaction the man offered to give them a ride home, which they refused.  The man was described as:  white, 55-60 years of age, 5’10”, average build and short greyish hair.  He wore a toque, dark puffy waist-length jacket, brown pants and was carrying a small pink backpack with black zippers over his shoulder.

 Anyone with information concerning the identity of the individual involved is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the website   or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes).





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Is a sole source contract the only option for delivery of a service? Apparently so. More transparency from the contractor perhaps?

December 19, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Does a sole source contract fit in with the values of an organization like BurlingtonGreen?  Would one not expect a higher degree of transparency from leaders with a strong moral ethic?

Should one expect to see a fully detailed financial statements of the funds BurlingtonGreen (BG) gets and has on hand?  And should the public they ask to support them financially get a better look at their financial statements?  How much of the BurlingtonGreen funding actually comes from dues paying citizens?

The city is negotiating a two-year sole provider contract with BurlingtonGreen bu the public knows nothing about the finances. 

We expect our city Councillors to tell us how they spend the expense allowance they are given and to post the receipts on the city website – but we don’t call for BurlingtonGreen to do the same.  Why not?

This issue came to the surface when, at a Standing Committee meeting, Councillor Craven was talking about the plans to add additional community gardens to the existing, and very successful Central Park operation one might add, run by Burlington Green.

The staff report being discussed has BurlingtonGreen as the sole provider for services that could reach $50,000 a year; Councilor Craven commented that he wasn’t all that comfortable with just the one provider being considered.

BurlingtonGreen is the strongest advocacy group in the city. They have put Burlington on the may environmentally.

A number of years ago BurlingtonGreen applied for a provincial grant to open a community garden that is  now tucked in behind the Seniors’ Centre north of New Street.  In order to get the grant BG needed the city with them as a partner.  It took some fast footwork but BG eventually go the city to make the needed contribution as an in-kind offering – the city put in the fences and did the early prep work on the plot of land that has 29  individual garden sites that are rented out for $50 a year.

The city is committed to the idea of community gardens.  It had to decide which of several delivery models it would use.  The possibilities were: Community based operations; operations handled by a service provider and operations run and delivered by the city.  The BG community garden program was designed to be a resource for other community groups that wanted to start a garden.

The official opening of the Central Park community garden. It was a pivotal point for BurlingtonGreen that wasn’t evident at the time.

The provincial grant covered the administration costs and an individual was hired to do the work.  We don’t recall ever seeing a “public” call for someone to do the job.  It was just given to the person that did all the work to get the grant.  Were city hall to do something like that – there would be howls of derision – some of which would come from BurlingtonGreen.

BG has an Executive Director; a very competent individual.  We assume this is a paid position but the public has no idea how much the Executive Director is paid.  That figure should be a public number and the public should know as well the length of any contract in place.

We don’t have a problem with BurlingtonGreen as an organization.  But we do have a problem with the level of transparency they have chosen to settle for.

We covered the BurlingtonGreen AGM recently.  They had a very good speaker.  We did not hear anyone talk about the financial affairs of the organization nor did we see any financial statements set out on the information table.  We covered the previous AGM and was told later that the financial information was not public

There is a cardinal rule for organizations that accept as much as a dime in the way of public funding – the kimono is thrown wide open; the public gets to see everything.  It’s called accountability.

The Central Park community garden has been so successful that the city decided to look for ways to do more of them.  It developed several models to meet the different situations that were presented.

A group in the Francis Road part of the city wanted a garden but there was a problem getting access to the water needed.  Rather than installing a municipal water source at a cost of between $25,000 and $30,000, the city is working with RealStar Property Management who have offered a water source for the community garden. The cost to design and construct the community garden will be $21,500.

 In September 2013, ward 3 Councilor John Taylor provided Parks and Recreation staff with correspondence from residents, along with 64 signatures, requesting consideration for a community garden in Amherst Park. Preliminary discussion with the Taylor suggests the group doesn’t wish to form as an organization to administer and operate the garden.

It is becoming clear that there is an interest in community gardens and that the Community Development policy that includes leisure services has merit.  Determining how best to actually deliver on the policy is where some thinking has to be done.

City staff along with significant input from BurlingtonGreen has resulted in three different models.

Michelle Bennett checking out a community group model garden in the east end of the city.

Community Group based: An identified group willing to deliver a community gardens leisure service as guided by the Community Development Policy. This model has the group handling the administration and operation of a Community Garden.

The group would work directly with city hall for any help they might need in getting started.  There are groups within the city that have been around for some time and operating quite well.   The city’s Community Development/Leisure Services Policy  was designed to encourage additional groups to come forward and develop new gardens.  The objective is to have community gardens in every ward in the city – at least in the urban parts of the city.

The Service Provider model is considered when there is an identified group or organization willing to deliver a community gardens leisure service as guided by the Leisure Services Policy. This approach would be considered when the local community just isn’t able to take on the administrative tasks, may not have the expertise or local leadership to get a project off the ground.  At this point in time there is just the one service provider – BurlingtonGreen.

City Direct Operation is an approach used when there isn’t an identified group or service provider willing to deliver a community gardens leisure service as guided by the Community Development Policy or Leisure Services Policy.

This is a situation where the city finds itself in the business of delivering a service that can often best be done by others.  It is not likely to be a service we will see much of, especially at a time when the city is looking at everything they do and asking the question: Is this a service we should be providing?  The answer to the question will be heavily impacted by where the money to pay for the service is going to come from.

BurlingtonGreen has done much of the early stage work; were it not for their initiative in getting the provincial grant and convincing the city to work with them – there wouldn’t be much, if anything, in the way of a community harden program.   That was the purpose of the provincial grant they were given. They developed an on-line registration process to receive gardener’s requests and conduct a lottery to award garden plots then manage the waiting lists.  Many of those people became volunteers.

The city reports they did not receive any negative feedback from the 118 applications for the 29 plots that were available in the first year.

BG collected the fees and provided the city with revenues which was used to offset the cost of municipal water. They recruited and trained volunteers. In the first year: 41 adults and 7 children volunteered an estimated 274 hours of time to garden operations.  They also pulled in approximately $3,690 was provided through gifts in kind and funding.

BurlingtonGreen provided day to day oversight of the Central Park community garden ensuring adherence to the user agreements and regulations. No reported incidents of conflict were reported, suggesting BG were effective in conflict resolution. They were the primary contact with gardeners handling day to day inquiries, conducted gardeners meetings and website updates. BG proved they could be successful in establishing effective communications with the gardeners.

As the moves forward with its Community Development/Leisure Services Policy the costs have to be considered.  Working with the three models it has been estimated that the costs for various numbers of sites would break out as follows:


(2- sites)





Option 1-CommunityGroup Based






Option 2-Service Provider






Option 3-City Direct Operation






 BurlingtonGreen’s responsibility for the Central Park community garden concludes at the end of 2013. The current budget and capital impacts of continuing to administer, operate and build new community gardens will be part of the 2014 budget.

That pilot was a success, primarily attributed to the administrative efforts, oversight and program provided by BurlingtonGreen. In particular staff believes a presence on site made a significant contribution to the success.

Considering the options in the context of the Community Development/Leisure Services Policies, the following were considered in providing the recommendation:

A group is currently not identified to operate the Central Park garden as a Community Based model

The Warwick-Surrey Community organization have indicated they don’t have the capacity to operate the proposed Francis Road garden under the Community Based model

There is a service provider (BurlingtonGreen) that is interested in providing the service of community gardens

The BurlingtonGreen proposal includes program elements that may not be considered necessary to administer and operate the community garden

There is merit in negotiating the scope of the tasks and costs of working under the Service Provider model with BurlingtonGreen to meet the city’s requirements

The city now wants to consider BurlingtonGreen as a sole source provider within the Strategic Alliances Policy that is in place to establish, maintain, or enhance partnerships with external agencies to ensure a cooperative approach to service delivery.

Does the city want to continue with this model?

City staff  recommended the  Service Provider model for administering and operating the existing and future Francis Road community gardens for the next two years. They did so for the following reasons:  The model is consistent with Community Development/Leisure Services policy; it provides oversight that limits staff requirements along with guidance and customer service.  Staff was confident that an appropriate scope of tasks and costs could be negotiated with BurlingtonGreen and that any agreement provides an opportunity to work with other groups who might want to operate under the community based model

Right now BurlingtonGreen is the only known group that can provide the service.The recommendation had BurlingtonGreen as a single source provider, which is where Councilor Craven voiced his concern.  Right now BurlingtonGreen is the only known group that can provide the service the city is looking for and so city staff asked that Council authorize the Director of Parks & Recreation, Manager of Purchasing and City Solicitor to negotiate and sign a sole source agreement with BurlingtonGreen to provide a service to administer and operate city community gardens for the 2014 and 2015 seasons with an option to extend the term of BurlingtonGreen’s services.

If acceptable terms cannot be reached with BurlingtonGreen, staff will request Council authorize them to administer and operate the Central Park and Francis Road community gardens for 2014 and 2015 season, through the  City Direct Operation model for the 2014 and 2015 current budgets.

This allows staff to operate the existing garden and undertake the process of Community Development to increase the opportunity of community groups coming forward to operate community gardens. If community interest is not evident, Parks and Recreation will conduct a Request for expressions of interest to provide the service of community gardens for the 2016 season.

What is also needed is an organization with a commitment to transparency. The Central Park community garden was a success because of the site oversight of BurlingtonGreen. It is now clear that an organization with the experience and commitment to community gardens is needed.  What is also needed is an organization with a commitment to transparency. BurlingtonGreen has yet to show that kind of a commitment.


The seed of an idea is planted.

Community garden opens.


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That pier of ours just might become an election issue after all. And they thought it had gone away – silly people.

December 18. 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Been awhile since we’ve heard anything on the pier.  Like children – when there is no noise you want to look in on them.

That mediation many thought was going to take place in January is not likely to take place for a number of months.  Why?

It was a great day in the history of the city.  The official opening of the Brant Street Pier – now the problems its construction created have to be cleaned up.  Looks like a Court room is the only place we can get this done.

Well turns out some “realizations” have brought about a shift in the thinking of several of the players in this rather expensive game.  You’ve heard the phrase – “there is an elephant in the room” – those involved in the pier litigation are realizing that the contractor was not the problem.

And the company that is the problem has recently realized they have a problem on their hands and they didn’t have their homework done and now they need time to dig through the mounds of paper and be ready for a trial.

Mediation is a step that must be taken before a trial can take place.  There is at least one player in the game that doesn’t see mediation as a solution to the grief they have had to go through – so mediation, when it does take place, might be very short.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over ad revealed problems with the steel being used – it was all taken out. They ordered new steel and built it again. Now all the parties squabble over who is going to pay for the mistakes.

Getting trial dates set with so many companies involved is never easy.  Having a trial start in the middle of the summer would certainly tighten up things in the municipal election. 

What is clear is this:  there is a bit of a mess to clean up.  Under normal circumstances this would come under the normal day-to-day business of a municipal government but the pier became such a defining issue that took on a life of its own.

It became part of the agenda for three different mayors; each handled it quite differently.  For Mayor MacIsaac it was part of a dream that he left in decent shape as he turned over the chain of office.  For Mayor Jackson it was a problem he had hoped to ride all the way to the top – until the crane accident took place. Then it became an issue that gave a freshman candidate an issue to get elected on.  It wasn’t the pier and its problems that cost Jackson the election.

That young man will return to the pier for many years to see his hand print. At some point he will read about and understand how convoluted an exercise it was to get that pier built.

The Goldring administration thought their task was to clean up the mess and get the pier opened but along the way they missed several opportunities to keep the city out of a court room.  Those failures, when combined with the city’s significant and serious financial problems, are like chickens coming home to roost.  And coming home during an election year isn’t the kind of good news story people running for office like to tell.

Some distraction might take place in the Spring should the provincial government decide they need to get a majority and Kathleen Wynne decides to ask the Lieutenant Governor to call an election.

Much of January will be taken up with budget deliberations.  The 10% increase over the four-year term that Mayor Goldring tied himself to will weigh him down a bit – it will be interesting to see what this Council decides it is prepared to give up.

Once the budget for the next year is cast – the election race will take on energy of its own.  And that is just about the time that the whole story behind the pier might come to the surface.


Pier legal problems always discussed behind closed doors.

Pier gets a soft opening.

New steel girders begin to arrive – progress.

New pier tender opening delayed.

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If pensions are a problem for the post office – what are they to the rest of us?

December 19, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  First it was the milk man and now its the letter carrier.  The post office is losing money, again, and will be shedding eight thousand letter carriers as it brings an end to an era of time-honoured service. Losing money is not a novelty for Canada Post Office.  This organization, originally created as a government department at the time of Confederation, last spent 32 years in the red (1957 to 1989) only to get out of that hole by lifting the price of stamps.  And I presume it hopes that strategy will work again this time.

I examined alternate-day mail delivery while at Canada Post back in the seventies and discovered that cutting delivery in-half wouldnt automatically cut labour costs in-half.  Even worse, valuable customers like Time Magazine might have been lost with such a radical service change.  I suspect the current postal management will experience some of that.  For example, installing and servicing group boxes in built-up areas may end up being more costly than originally imagined by the bean counters at Canada Post.   And watch the movement to e-mail accelerate.

Another study, I reviewed, demonstrated the potential cost-effectiveness of Canada Post installing facsimile machines in every Canadian household, as an alternative to letter mail.  This was before Al Gore had been credited with inventing the internet.  Isnt that what is happening now?  I already receive and pay most of my bills via the internet, and next year my Christmas cards will all be electronic.  Mailing is becoming too expensive.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Isnt Canada Post heading in the wrong direction?   Buy anything on the internet and its delivered to your door pronto, sometimes by the Canada Post owned Purolator.  There will always be a demand for to-the-door delivery; for the junk-mail distributors, political pamphlets and for all those on-line purchases.  Perhaps their strategy is to make letter mail so pricey and unattractive that you decide to choose their premium Express Post service rather than lick a stamp. Its called up-selling. 

There was a time when a penny got the letter mailed.  Today – $1.

But Business 101 tells us that increasing your price while simultaneously reducing the quality of service is a mugs game.  Only a mad man would do this, unless he/she wanted to go out of business.  If that is Mr. Harpers strategy, then why not just privatize mail delivery while there is still market share and value, as other nations have done and some pundits are demanding?

Its hard not to be suspicious that something else is in the soup, as we hear more and more about how pensions are imperiling the profitability of Canada Post.  That seems to be the flavour of the month for a government that has no truck with enhancing the nations pensions.  The federal finance minister just shut the door on expanding the miserly Canada Pension Plan (CPP), at a meeting this week with his provincial counterparts. 

Better pensions – for everyone?

He called it a payroll tax and mumbled something about not wanting to raise taxes.  But he is only partly right since half of the CPP contribution is paid by the employee, as a kind of forced saving in order to be able retire with dignity.  You see Flaherty knows that we either consume stuff or we save our money.  And this government wants us to spend more on consumption in the run up to the 2015 election, so his GDP numbers will look healthy as we go to the polls.   Retirement issues are too far off in the future for a government determined to win a second majority mandate, and complete its transformation of Canada from that liberal society Mr. Harper inherited

Flaherty either doesnt know or doesnt care that two-thirds of Canadians dont have a workplace pension scheme, and a third of Canadians have no savings at all.  Today’s CPP is a light-age away from what it was originally intended to be.  At about $12,000 a year it is pathetic.  Yet, for the first time in over a decade Canadians have started saving more of their own money, so wouldnt this be the perfect time for an expanded CPP program to lock in those savings?

Finance Minister Flaherty – the man with the answers.

The irony is that instead of enhancing CPP so people can live on their savings, the Harper government would prefer that the federal government keep on handing out Old Age Security (OAS) payments.  OAS is a kind-of seniors welfare program – where the working generation subsidizes those retired.  How could that make any sense to a government that claims to be big on fiscal responsibility?  Why would saving so you can live off your own money, instead of the governments, be anathema for a government that believes in personal responsibility?  It makes no sense. 

Chopping 8000 letter carriers as early as possible will save the mismanaged Post Office pension scheme some money, no doubt.  And Deepak Chopra, the CEO of the Crown Corporation. is also asking postal employees to allow him to cut their pension entitlements. But I have to ask why Mr Chopra, a passionate, modern executive with a very impressive biography, doesnt offer to lead by example.  For that matter, what about the minister responsible for the Post Office, Lisa Raitt , Mr. Flaherty or Mr. Harper.  Why dont they offer to cut their gold-plated pensions if they really feel public sector pensions are too generous.


Canada Post Changes   History of Canada Post Privatization  Privatization 2  Privatization 3   Pensions   CEO Canada Post

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.  While employed as a civil servant Rivers worked at Canada Post.

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Finally a reason to go to the Farmer’s Market in the downtown core. Province wants you to buy Ontario wines at these markets.

December 16, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The provincial government has been popping out media releases faster than most rabbits give birth to little bunnies.  The latest has some interesting potential for the small but growing Farmers’ Market that operates during the warm weather on John Street just in behind Centro.

Imagine – maybe a couple of Ontario wine tasting tables set out at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Province says it could happen.

The province wants to make it easier for consumers to choose Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Ontario wine by expanding the LCBO’s new “Our Wine Country” destination boutiques and allowing VQA wines to be sold at farmers’ markets through the renewed Wine and Grape Strategy.

I’m certainly on for easier access to provincially grown grapes and I really like the idea of a couple of those wine tasting stations being set up at an outdoor market.

Is that man on the right about to become the chief sommelier at the Downtown Farmer’s Market next Spring. That would be an achievement.

The province is throwing $75 million at a Wine and Grape Strategy to help the sector grow.  That chunk of change is spread out over five years.  There is going to be a  Wine Secretariat to be a one window point for discussions between the province and industry and identifying ways to reduce red tape to help make grape growers and wineries more competitive.

The winery’s would certainly like the LCBO to be at that window and make their lives a little easier.

Ontario has significant winery developments in the Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore.

Ontario’s wine and grape industry contributed an estimated $3.3 billion to the province’s economy in 2011.


Chef’s battle it out at Farmer’s Market.

Farmer’s Market move to a Sunday schedule.

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City and Burlington Hydro announce joint project and new board chair – not a lot of detail on what the joint project is going to achieve.

December 16, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.   Hydro, the guys that keep the lights on and send you a bill every second month that never gets smaller – unless you are in Florida for the winter,  wants to “find some efficiencies” and get more out the company’s assets.

Burlington Hydro has one shareholder – YOU; the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city of Burlington and pays the city dividends on a regular basis.  There are times when Hydro looks like either a rich uncle the city begs money from or a  piggy bank that gets raided frequently.

The City of Burlington and Burlington Hydro Electric Inc., jointly  announced the appointment of Archie Bennett as director and chair of the Burlington Hydro Electric Board following the resignation of Charles Keizer. 

Charles Keizer leaves Hydro board to consult for the organization.

Keizer, a partner and co-head of Torys’ Infrastructure and Energy Practice, (Torys is a leading Ontario law firm with probably the bluest pedigree in the province) resigned as Burlington Hydro Electric Board Chair to provide legal services  to Burlington Electricity Services Inc. and BHEI in partnership with the City of Burlington.

 “As lead counsel on a number of generation and transmission projects, Keizer has provided solid strategic advice and has a strong understanding of project development,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “On behalf of the city, BESI and Burlington Hydro Electric, Charles will lead the charge in finding efficiencies and cost-saving opportunities that will help benefit ratepayers and taxpayers.”  

Keizer brings considerable depth in hydro transmission and grid operations to his new consulting assignment.  It should be interesting to see what he comes up with.

Keizer had to resign from the Hydro Board if he was going to provide services for which he will be paid.  In the energy business payment for services is very healthy.

 In addition to Bennett, a former BHEI board director and chair, the BHEI board also includes Darla Youldon, a former executive at John Deere & Co.; City Manager Jeff Fielding; Phil Nanavati, vice-president at FENGATE Capital Management; Don Dalicandro, CEO of Azertech Inc.; John Maheu, Association of Ontario Road Supervisors; and Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring.

“We’re very pleased that Charles Keizer will put his extensive industry experience into play as he undertakes the task to assess potential service delivery opportunities between the City of Burlington and Burlington Hydro Electric,” said Gerry Smallegange, President and CEO of BHEI. “In the interim, and until further notice, Archie Bennett has agreed to step in as chair of the company, providing his very capable and experienced leadership on the BHEI board.”

Bennett returns to an old stomping ground after retiring in 2007 completing  a 45-year career in senior management, engineering and construction including  leading the Burlington-based Zeton group of companies since 1989 to become the global leader in its field. He continues to serve on the parent and Dutch subsidiary boards of Zeton, and provides consulting services on management matters.

Bennett has the look of a place holder until Burlington Hydro has a sense as to what Keizer suggests the corporation can ger into to dig out those “efficiencies”.

Can Hydro be more than an energy transmission company. They should have kept the fibre optic network they once owned.

City manager Jeff Fielding has always believed that Hydro can and should play a bigger role in the financial evolution of the city; he has cast a covetous eye on the head office Hydro property on Brant street and wondered aloud if the city could not get more out of that asset.

Burlington is beginning to realize that we have a city manager who while good on the administrative side happens to be very good on the thinking side and has in the short time he has been at city hall managed to completely shake up the way the city puts together its budget and has everyone in every department taking a much closer look at the service they deliver.  He is asking them to ask themselves: Is this a service the city should be delivering?  This is radical within the municipal sector.

Fielding has permission from city council to explore the idea of “enterprise corporations” that will be like Burlington Hydro, stand alone, wholly owned subsidiaries that have the potential to generate revenue and perhaps even find a cheaper way to deliver services.

Hydro has been paying the city significant dividends over the years. That spike is the year the fibre optic network was sold.

Fielding knows better than anyone, except for Joan Ford who knows every number in every account of the city budget, how desperate the city’s Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) tax revenue situation is.  The Economic Development Corporation has done such a terrible job of both attracting new companies to the city and positioning the city as a place corporations want to locate.

Jeff Fielding – proving to be a very strong conceptual thinker as well as a decent administrator.

The ICI side of the tax revenue stream for 2013 is going to be a negative number when measured against 2012 – and things right now don’t look a lot better for 2015.  If the funds don’t come from the ICI side then they have to come from the residential side or spending has to be cut.  In an election year?  Financially the city is not in a healthy situation even thought our reserves are in very good shape.

Given a five or six snow storms like the one late last week and we just might have to dip into the snow removal reserves.

The Burlington Hydro announcements are good news in that they show some movement.  Task now is to see which direction they actually move in.  Hydro is one of those fat calves with all kinds of revenue and not a lot in the way of transparency.


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More community presentations at Performing Arts Centre – public has been waiting for this.

December 16, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The city is having a little difficulty attracting some of those new high-tech, high paying jobs.  The arts community has found a way to help – they are going to move a theatrical production along the QEW from Oakville to Burlington and bring a truck load of Leading Ladies to the city

The Burl-Oak Theatre Group (BOTG), which is presenting Leading Ladies by Ken Ludwig,  at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, January 23 and Friday, 24 – show time for both days is 8:00 pm.

Fun, light hearted comedy – great way to start the New Year.

This is a new venture for BOTG, they tended to like the climate in Oakville but the digs at the Performing Arts Centre were just too good to pass up.  Now of course they need to sell tickets for each performance. 

Jim Clemens, who usually spends his spare time on Heritage matters explains this production as a  “hilarious comedy, in which we meet an elderly lady on her deathbed who is looking for two relatives, Max and Steve, whom she has not seen since they were children.  She plans to bestow her fortune upon them, to be shared with her one remaining niece, Meg.” 

Clemens goes on to explain: “Enter Jack and Leo, two down-on-their-luck Shakespearian actors who plot to pose as the missing nephews and arrive in time to claim their inheritance.”

For the rest of the story – you need a ticket and Clemens has come up with an angle that he believes can’t miss.  He wants to see a full house and explains that BOTG has a special Yuletide ticket price for  their friends and colleagues. You can purchase any number of tickets to Leading Ladies at $18.00 each directly from Clemens who will look after the box office hassles.

Here is how it works. Jim Clemens has figured out a way to let his vast circle of friends in on a bit of a deal.  There is a group discount available.  Clemens had a brain storm and came up with the idea of forming a group, buying the tickets for that group and giving them all the benefit of the group discount.  Jim’s price is $18 per ticket.  The Box Office price is $25 – the difference will get you a decent glass of wine at the theatre which will put you in just the frame of mind you want to be in to fully enjoy a lark of a play.

You have to let Clemens know that you want in.  Email him by December 30, 2013, Email Me and tell him which date you wish to attend and the number of tickets you wish to purchase.    He will order the tickets and send you an e-mail confirming the order.

You  have to pay Clemens – make your cheques payable to Jim Clemens, and not the Burl-Oak Theatre Group or the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Mail cheques to 1296 Knights Bridge Court, Burlington,  or pay either Miki or Jim when you see either of them. Clemens adds that he knows where his vast circle of friends lives and doesn’t expect to have any problems collecting.

BOTG has taken a huge leap of faith in the Burlington market.  They have arranged for billboard ad signs in four locations in Burlington in the next few weeks along with a mail drop to selected postal code locations around town. 

Jim Clemens has a deal for his vast circle of friends – take him up on the offer and use the money he saves you for a decent glass of wine at the Performing Arts Centre to watch the Leading Ladies.

Clemens has found the new administration at the Performing Arts Centre to be more than accommodating.  A number of months ago there was to be a BOTG production mounted in Burlington that just couldn’t get off the ground.  Brian McCurdy, Executive Director at the Performing Arts Centre, used his experience and understanding of the problems small theatre groups have and found a work around some of the problems the group was having and for them into the Centre for the January dates.

We are seeing much more community use of the Performing Arts Centre.  A church group is going to be holding a Christmas Eve Candle Light service in the Main theatre, in January Tony Bewick is going to produce the first Poetry Slam to be held at the Centre and now the news that the Leading Ladies are going to be on stage as well.

One of the complaints many people had, was that the Centre was not catering to the local needs – that all we were seeing was groups who were passing through the city, and while Roseanne Cash was nice, the public thought there would be more local material.  We appear to be seeing that change – refreshing.

Keith Strong had his guiding hand behind much of the Magic Moments event that added to the Halton Heros fund.

The re-establishing of relationships between the Centre and some of the people who did that “in the trenches work’ when the place was not much more than an idea are coming along just fine.  Keith Strong, who was a major player in getting many of the early donation cheques in, has had a chance to meet with Brian McCurdy; those two should get along very well.  The Mayor, city manager, Strong and McCurdy had a meet which we are told went very well.

While Strong doesn’t always get it right – when he does – it is both right and strong.  The kind of guy the Performing Arts Centre wants on its side.  

The BOTG appears to be going all out on this their first event at the Performing Arts Centre; like every smart marketer – there is a clip on YouTube.  Go for it.


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