Are we really selling dirty oil to the rest of the world? And if we are – why? Can’t we clean it up?

September 25th, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Do you have the feeling I get when I hear people talk about the “dirty oil” that is sent around the world from Alberta.  Are we sending the world dirty oil?  Why are we doing that?

Isn’t Canada the country that brought about the Peace keepers – those United Nations guys with the blue helmets?

Aren’t we the people who said no to having American nuclear bombs in Canada?

If there is such a huge profit in the oil sands in Alberta why aren’t we using a part of those profits to do research on ways to make the oil cleaner?Didn’t we take a pass on sending troops to Iran?

And if we’re selling “dirty oil” –why is it dirty?

If there is such a huge profit in the oil sands in Alberta why aren’t we using a part of those profits to do research on ways to make the oil cleaner?

I thought we were the good guys – not like those guys south of us.  We were the country that has state medical coverage while the American are still trying to make that happen.

We are the country where everyone doesn’t have a gun in there house and for the most part we are a gun free society.

We are the country that did away with capital punishment.  We don’t have to kill people to punish them.

My sense of being a Canadian is diminished when I read that we are shipping dirty oil.  I don’t understand why we are not spending large sums of money on finding ways to clean up that oil and spare our environment the harm dirty oil does.My sense of being a Canadian is diminished when I read that we are shipping dirty oil.

I feel ashamed that we are fighting decent people in the United States who don’t want our dirty oil working its way through oil pipes in their fields.  They tell me its good business.  Really?

We Canadians have one of the best educational systems in the world.  We’ve invented some pretty good things.  Our banking system is the envy of the world – yeah some of those banking fees are a little on the outrageous side.

And the cell phone fees are out of whack – but the phone service we have is one of the best in the world.  Almost every time a space ship goes up – it has one of those Canada Arms on it – we did that!

But the dirty oil thing – can’t we do something about that.  Do we really have to sell a product that does a lot of harm to both people and the environment.

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A “Dymond” in the rough and what a whopper of a burger – with shakes as well.

September 24, 2013

By Piper King

BURLINGTON, ON. I had originally planned to compare the desserts from the several different restaurants run by a group in the city.  I drove out to the location of the first one but couldn’t seem to find it.  I was looking for the Local Eatery & Refuge.  My stepson, Jordan and I decided to start our adventure there but when we arrived at the location (4155 Fairview Street), the name on the building was  Dymond’s Social Kitchen & BarA classy feel to it, but with a slightly retro kick..  Puzzled, we parked and entered the establishment.

When you walk in, Dymond’s has a classy feel to it, but with a slightly retro kick.  The tables and chairs are dark, but it thankfully lacks a claustrophobic feeling, due to the large and airy interior.  The walls have a mix of wood paneling and light brick.  The ceilings are a mix of industrial and dark night club blocks, which gives it an upscale, chic feel.

Kasia – took good care of us.

The server, a tiny blonde lady named Kasia greeted us warmly.  We asked for a booth seat, and she ushered us over and took our drink order.  I asked if they have milkshakes (which these establishments usually do not) and much to my delight, she responded YES!  Jordan ordered a chocolate shake and I the peanut butter and chocolate.

When Kasia returned, I asked her if this was still the Local Eatery & Refuge.  She said that it’s under the same management, but they broke away from the Tortoise Group of Companies April 1st of this year and renamed it Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar, after the owner Ryan Dymond.

We were both amazed when our milkshakes arrived!  Basically, we received two shakes for the price of one!  I took a sip of my shake and it was absolutely delicious! What struck me was that it was a lot lighter than the typical milkshake you’d get from either Wimpy’s, or Lick’s, which by the way is no longer in business – the bailiff had posted a notice on the plate-glass door.  A bonus for me with the shake in front of me was that I could taste more of the chocolate and less of the peanut butter (score)!

When Kasia returned she took our order: Jordan chose the Bacon Cheese Burger with fries and I chose the Arizona Dog and chips.

You could feed a family with this burger.

A few minutes later, Kasia brought out the largest burger we had ever seen, I mean this thing was piled high with lettuce, tomato and an onion ring (it was almost Alice in Wonderland/cartoon huge)! My dog was another amazing feat of Foodie heaven!  I have NEVER seen a hotdog piled up with so much deliciousness.  When we make hotdogs at home they’re usually a meager chicken or beef dog and a thin, no-name bun. 

The condiments alone amount to a meal.

This was quite literally, the king of dogs, hands down! The chips were served in a deep fryer basket. (I wondered if they were served in the very same basket they were fried in)? I didn’t ask.  The presentation for both meals were amazing.  The food was hot and delicious!  I suddenly remembered a Carl’s Jr commercial I used to see when I lived in Arizona.  Carl’s Jr is known for the messiest burgers, so much so that their slogan was, “If it doesn’t get all over the place; it doesn’t belong in your face.”  This Arizona Dog would have made Carl’s Jr. proud!

When we “finished” our meals (I managed to eat half of the hot dog and only half of the basket of chips), the owner, Ryan Dymond came over and introduced himself.  He struck me as a person who’s passionate about food and the restaurant industry. 

Ryan, a Burlington resident for many years, explained his reasoning for breaking away from the pack.  He wanted a restaurant that supports local businesses and he felt that this could not be accomplished as a franchise.  Once separated on April 1st, he ensured that all the food served in the restaurant would be sourced from local food businesses.  Most restaurants provide a menu for pairing the food with a fine wine, but his vision is to pair their foods with amazing, locally brewed craft beer. The only outsourced beer he advised us, is Samuel Adams (which hails from the U.S.).  He wanted to create a restaurant with “downscaled food in an upscale setting.” 

Ryan Dymond – broke away from a corporate environment and struck out on his own. The menu suggests he will do well – will the Dueling pianos give him that edge?

He went on to explain that every Friday night (and starting in October, Saturday night too) they have an amazing musical spotlight called Dueling Pianos.  It’s basically two pianos set up in a central location so both the bar and the dining room could request and enjoy the music all night.  He explained that he had renovated to ensure that everyone could enjoy the music and that no one would feel isolated.  Plus, for one Friday out of every month they feature a theme night, whereby they’d play to a specific theme – such as an “all Elton John songs” night.

It was truly a pleasure to meet Ryan and he was so good about posing for a photo or two. I will definitely go back one Friday, or Saturday night to check out the Dueling Pianos and see what the atmosphere will be like at night-time. 

All in all, Jordan and I give Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar four thumbs up!  The food was delicious, the atmosphere was relaxed and it really had an upscale feel to it that would appeal to Burlington’s affluent society, but the fare will cater to the “inner kid”.

Jordan summed it up this amazing event with his spontaneous observation at the end of our meal “Best part about this experience? “Heart”  just came on the speakers.”  So, we can give Dymond’s another gold star for amazing musical taste. 

Dymond’s Social Kitchen & Bar

4155 Fairview Street Burlington L7L 2A4

905.633.9464

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Remember that lottery advertisement line: “Home James, Home” Today one has to add “in less than an hour please”.

September 24, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  “Toronto is a great place to live, if only you could manage to get to work” – so says the Toronto Board of Trade.  Commute times in the greater Toronto area were the longest of 19 major cities in a recent survey.  It takes the average commuter 80 minutes round-trip,  a full 24 minutes longer than it would in Los Angeles, the very birthplace of urban sprawl.

Ray Rivers, the Gazette’s political columnist with Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP Kevin Flynn on the left and Dr. Eric  Hoskins on the right – all at the recent Roundtable held in Burlington.

 So Ontario’s Premier Wynne has made it a priority for her government to improve the lot of commuters by building transit.   “It is a matter of social justice, I want to improve people’s lives by allowing commuters to spend more quality time with family and friends,”  she emphasized in an exclusive interview last Friday.   Ms. Wynne had earlier test-ridden the new half-hour GO train service, en route to a meeting with the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.  Flanked by her Minister of Economic Development, Dr. Eric Hoskins, and the Parliamentary Assistant for Transportation, Kevin Flynn, Kathleen Wynne shared some thoughts on this topic with me.

Premier Wynne believes that this level of traffic eats away at the time people deserve to have with their families and that the time spent in cars is damaging the provincial economy. Is GO the answer – and will we go along with that kind of a solution?

The Premier’s goals are straight forward: invest in people; provide much-needed infrastructure; and improve business opportunities that will result in job creation.  But she has her work cut out for her.  We know that most of Ontario’s urban areas are poorly configured for efficient public transit.  Three generations of urban sprawl have made public transit costly to deliver and inconvenient to ride – so the result is gridlock.  And yes, the Greenbelt, introduced by her predecessor, was intended to curb urban sprawl,  but the benefits of that initiative will not be seen for another generation – until after all the approved developments in the queue have seen their day.   

 Back in 1990 former Premier David Peterson, another Liberal, had proposed an ambitious $6.2 billion expansion of public transit for Toronto.  Then he lost the next election to the NDP,  who cherry-picked elements of that plan.  The NDP lost the next election which resulted in a virtual cessation of transit progress under Mike Harris.  Even when the Liberals did return to power, progress was slow as the Toronto kept changing its mind between subways and light-rail and subways again – making sustainable funding difficult.   

 The Province can’t  really afford to do much in the way of funding these days.  Ontario has been bleeding red ink since the 2008 recession and is now carrying a staggering quarter trillion dollar debt-load on its books.  Metrolinx, the organization tasked with creating some order to the provinces transit mess,  is saying they need $2 billion a year for needed transit expansion,and they are probably right.

This is clearly not working?

 That money is not likely to flow  from the business community; having lowered corporate taxes earlier, it is unlikely the province will raise them again.  One of Wynne’s priorities is to promote business development, not scare it away with higher taxes.  Wynne talked about bringing more jobs out to the suburbs, places like Burlington, so fewer folks need to be on that long daily commute.  There are fewer businesses paying taxes these days as we become more reliant on imports. 

Is this a better option? Can we rely on the public sector to deliver consistently reliable service that works within the reasonable budgets they are given?

Worse still, if we are to believe one think-tank, the left-leaning Centre for Policy Alternatives, we should expect an even greater decline in our industrial base following conclusion of the planned Canada-EU trade agreement. 

 Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the Harper government’s economic blueprint, has committed $14 billion for infrastructure renewal. Premier Wynne hosted the Council of the Federation meeting last July and there was unanimous agreement for “continuing the conversation” about infrastructure – which really means they want access to that fund.   Ontario, with a third of Canada’s population might reasonably expect about five or six billion dollars of that commitment – enough to make a really good start on adding public transit.  And, as if on cue, the federal government has just announced over half a billion dollars for the Scarborough subway extension.

 Aside from the auto companies Mr. Harper hasn’t shown much interest in helping Canada’s industrial heartland move forward.  In fact, there hasn’t been a PM in recent memory with so much interest in selling off the nation’s natural resources and so little interest in protecting home-grown manufacturing and services.    Ontario was once  the mighty province that led the nation in economic prosperity, yet today it has slipped to the status of a ‘have-not’ province.  It would be such a shame if the province ended up becoming another rust belt jurisdiction like Michigan or Ohio, and Toronto another bankrupt city like Detroit.

Ray Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office and held executive positions with Liberal Party riding associations.  He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

 

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If the city never sees a private tree bylaw it won’t be because the environmentlists stopped trying. One more kick at this can.

September 23, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  They are going to give it the old college try and provide city council with what they believe is an unbiased questionnaire on just what the good people of Burlington wants to do with the trees that are on private property.

Council has voted against this time and again – not because they are necessarily against a private tree by-law but because they don’t sense this is what the property owners want.

More than 100 years old this oak marks one of the boundaries that demarcate the land given to Joseph Brant for his service to the British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Fortunately it is on city property – or it might have been cut down.

This is an issue on which Mayor Goldring and Councillor Marianne Meed Ward have joined forces but all they could come up with was a 5-2 vote.

Meed Ward brought the issue back to Council with a proposal that staff write-up a bylaw that citizens could look at and think about.  She proposed a no fee – just fill in the form – permit to cut down a tree but still her colleagues weren’t buying.

With the issue going to Council this evening for what most Councillors thought was going to be just a quick vote to get rid of the problem is now going to be yet another presentation and perhaps some drawn out debate during what is already going to be a contentious and lengthy council meeting.

The Beachway Park issue is up for a final vote and this council is far from consensus on that file.

The Carriage Gate development is up for final vote with a group of community advocates arguing that the project should go back to square one due to the changes the developer is looking for in the Section 37 agreement that was supposed to give the city a significant number of affordable housing units.

Watching council on Cogeco Cable is no treat – the production qualities are terrible – but this is a meeting during which you will see city council struggle with several of the biggest files they have had to handle this term.

Might be an occasion to catch the show on Cogeco or go on-line to see how the significant seven operate.

What you probably won’t see on Cogeco is the detailed questionnaire a group of environmentalists are going to present to Council.

Here for your viewing pleasure are the questions that were asked along with the responses.

Having read them – how would you have voted and what do you think your Council should do.  We will tell you what they did tomorrow.

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Downtown development faces challenge from local residents who claim rules are being broken.

September 23, 2013

BY Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It has been so long since Burlington has seen a high-rise building that includes office space in the city that we may have forgotten what this kind of development means to a city.

An eight story office building and a 17 story apartment building with an above ground parking garage in between the two.  Somewhere along the way some people let themselves believe that 70+% of the apartments were going to be affordable housing.

The Carriage Gate project is a  mixed use development consisting of an 8 storey office building, a 17 storey, 154 unit apartment building, an 8 storey above-ground parking garage, three levels of underground parking garage, and ground floor retail/service commercial uses.  

A group of citizens will argue before Council that changing the content of the Community Benefits negotiated in exchange for extra height and density on the Caroline/Elizabeth Street development is a mistake and are asking: “Do they have the right to make this change or does this become a new project?”

In 2010, council approved the project and changed the Official Plan on this site to grant double the height for an 8 storey office building and parking garage, and over four times the height for a 17 storey apartment building.

In exchange, the Developer agreed to negotiate a Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement which was to have over 70% of the units as “affordable” housing under Halton Region’s definition of affordability.

Nick Carnacelli, the developer doesn’t see things this way. He argues that he got the additional density for the parking that he put in place and that affordable housing was not part of the deal.  At the committee meeting where the issue was threshed in the city planner explained that while some people felt there was a deal in place – there is no deal in place until the documents are signed and as of today the Section 37 agreement has not been signed.  The city did approve the change to the Official Plan

According to community advocates the community benefits document that was to be signed by the develop included:  a) providing an additional 269 parking spaces; b) Apartment to be constructed to LEED certified environmental standard; c) Parking garage will contain a green roof design and  d)  Residential component will have over 70% affordable housing units.”

The Official Plan change was approved and changed. The developer is asking for a reduction in the affordable housing component from 73% to 27%. 

The community advocates maintain the developer is not now willing to sign the agreement.  They argue that the project cannot proceed until the Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement is signed as it was an integral aspect of the deal and was to be registered on the title of the property.  They add that the zoning bylaw cannot be changed and a building permit cannot be issued until the Section 37 Agreement is signed .

The change to the Official Plan has already be made but the zoning by-law amendment remains outstanding. Some were surprised that any changes could be made without the attendant agreements being signed or that the changes to zoning and the official plan were not made conditional to the community benefits agreement.

Bruce Krushelnicki patiently explains that Section 37 agreements cannot be made conditional.  The benefits to the community are separate from the issuing of an Official Plan change or a change in the zoning bylaw and the issuing of a building permit.

“A section 37 Agreement is one that allows the city to reap certain benefits when an advantage is given to a developer allowing an increased return on a development.  The development has to stand on its own merits – it is only if it stands on its own merits and is approved by a city council that we planners can then negotiate a Section 37 agreement.”

Much of the council committee debate on affordable housing focused on the question: is there a place for affordable housing in the downtown core south of Caroline?  Where should affordable housing be located and who should be paying for that housing?.  Council committee heard arguments that social housing is a Regional responsibility and should be addressed at the Regional level and that developers should not be expected to take on this social service.  The city already has a significant amount of social housing on John Street, immediately north of Pine and south of the Burlington transit station.

 Staff and the owner agreed to a total direct community benefit valued at $6-7 million to be spent in the provision of parking as well as several other benefits that do not have direct costs but which are nevertheless community benefits.

The Planning department also notes that other Section 37 Agreements where affordable housing was secured the amount was less than 30% in  all instances.

Carnacelli explained that the affordable housing units he would have built were so small that families would not be able to live in them thus defeating the purpose of social housing in the downtown core.

Is the city working with a developer who has out maneuvered them several times?  Does the developer understand the process better than the people he has to deal with at city hall?

The project has been something of a paper nightmare for the planning department.  A condition of the agreement approved by Council in 2010 was the imposition of an 18 month deadline for the signing of the required agreements. The bylaw passed by Council at that time was not enacted because Carriage Gate Group Inc. did not enter into the required agreements or pay the rezoning unit fees within the specified time-frame. The conditional approval lapsed on January 5, 2012.  In September of this year  Council granted an 18 month extension to the approval lapsing date.

Carnacelli faces some exceptionally stiff costs on the hydro side of the project.  In order to get hydro to the site he was expected to pay for the cost of getting a hydro lines up from Lakeshore to his site.  Once that hydro line is in place anyone south of the Carnacelli site, which is at Caroline and Elizabeth, would get a free ride.  Carnacelli felt hydro should put the line in and then have anyone developing along the route pay for a share of the cost.

The Molinaro Group didn’t have to pay for the costs Carnacelli is expected to pay to get hydro into  the buildings they  built along Lakeshore Road because the hydro line ran along Lakeshore.

The Carriage Gate project is to have a total of 522 parking spaces of which 193 spaces were required for the residential portion of the development and 60 public spaces were required as part of the land sale. The site is located within the Downtown Parking Exemption Area (DPEA) and therefore the provision of parking is not required except for the residential units. The developer was thereby providing an additional 269 spaces that would not otherwise be required by this development. The estimated value of these parking spaces to service non-residential development is approximately $6-7 million. The developer however will charge a fee for those parking spots when they are used.

The staff report points out that approval was granted almost three years ago  when the initial Section 37 community benefits were being discussed.  In that time economic and market conditions have changed. In that time costs, including but not limited to, development charges, hydro and construction, have increased significantly.

The community advocates argue that a lot of  due diligence, expense and research went into the preparation of the original Staff Report presented to Council on July 5, 2010 which included wording for a Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement which they maintain resulted in the approval of the development. 

They suggest that “if the deal can be changed on this development after the approval process has been completed, this sets a precedent going forward for every Development throughout the entire City of Burlington.”  True perhaps but the Section 39 “deal” has not been signed and as Krushelnicki explains – it isn’t a deal until it is signed.

The community advocates argue that “altering a Section 37 Agreement after the approval process is complete merits a very serious review as developments of this size are going to change the landscape of Burlington forever and this deal sets a serious precedent going forward.  When is a deal not a deal?

Krushelnicki would respond – a deal is not a deal until it is signed.

The community advocates suggest that any change to the approved Section 37 Community Benefits Agreement on the Carriage Gate Development makes it a different project and thus warrants further serious review.

The signatories to any agreement can negotiate changes before the agreement is signed and city planners have reviewed the requested changes and approve of the requested changes.

 Is this a battle between Marianne Meed Ward, Councillor for that part of the city this project is to be built in, and the development community along with those who argue Burlington desperately needs new office development in the downtown core if the city is to have a core that is viable?

There are some impressive properties along Caroline that may not be comfortable with a large office/residential complex parked on their shoulder.

There are those who argue that Meed Ward does not understand the economics of development and is giving the city a bad reputation as a place for developers to ply their trade.

The city has to comply with a provincial Policy Statement that requires the Region to develop a specific amount of housing and a specific number of jobs.  The city does not have a choice – that is what we must do and if a project like Carriage Gate helps the city meet that requirement – they will negotiate the best deal they can get and then happily approve it.

Burlington currently faces negative net growth in the amount of Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) tax levels.  The money to run the city comes from taxpayers for the most part and if it isn’t raised on the ICI side – then it will come from the residential side.

The issue, actually the elephant in the room is what kind of development will there be in the downtown core?  That’s one on which there is the kind of community consensus this council would like to see. Should Burlington office development just be on the North and South Service Roads and over along Burloak?

During the committee debate Meed Ward suggested that if the community benefits were being scaled back then the height and density given should be scaled back as well.

The buildings in this photograph are gone – the developer bulldozed everything as they moved on both the constructions and their marketing plans.

What Carnacelli argues is that the development charges he has to pay have increased 40% since he started work on the project.

Staff in their report have recommended to Council that the city solicitor be directed to re-work the Section 37 agreement and have it conform to what the developer has asked for while a group of citizens want Council to send the project right back to the drawing table and see it as a new project.

The developer has already flattened the buildings that were on what was once called Tudor Square and has begun to market the project.  Would anyone care to wager on what city council will do Monday evening?  If there is ever going to be any serious or significant development in the downtown core the Carriage Gate project has to be approved.  That might mean holding their nose for some.

 

 

 

 

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Developer backs away from residential proposal along western part of Caroline.

September 23, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was going to be Maurice Desrochers jump from operating properties he had bought up as “executive rentals” into a fully-fledged developer who would develop a city block west of Brant street in a part of the city that is settled and knows what it wants and knows very well what it doesn’t want.  And they didn’t want the development Desrochers was proposing for a stretch of Caroline Street between Hagar and Burlington Streets.

Residents believe the developer has focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they are concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

Desrochers had bought up a number of properties and then developed a plan that he felt fit in exceptionally well with the neighbourhood.  Somewhere along the way there was a major disconnect between the developer and the community – when more than 70 residents showed up for a Saturday morning meeting in May to give the idea a big thumbs down.

The resistance in the community was too much for the developer who we understand has decided to sell off some of the property purchased and either move on to some other project or stick to the “executive rentals” business.

Desrochers did one project for which Burlington has been and will continue to be forever grateful and that was the saving of the Gingerbread house on Ontario Street.  Desrochers wasn’t able to translate the good will generated from that project into acceptance from the community that he could build housing that would be consistent with the way most residents saw their community.

Barry Imber, one of the people leading the group, explained the concern at the time when he said:  “Communities evolve over time during which small changes take place and are absorbed into the community and a new norm gets created”.  “These are incremental changes” he adds.  “What Desrochers wants to do is something revolutionary – he wants to tear down a complete block and put up housing that is not permitted under the existing Official Plan or the zoning.

Desrochers was looking for both an Official Plan change and significant rezoning.  Councillor Marianne  Meed Ward made it clear that she would support the rules that are in place now.

The rules in place for the part of Burlington west of Brant are complex. When Burlington did its last Official Plan Review, completed in 2008, it created a number of precincts in the city.  Brant Street was given a zoning of 7 storey’s as of right now with the possibility of going to 12 storeys. 

Residents believe the developer had focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they were concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

The thinking behind the creation of the Precincts back in 2008 was to create communities with a clearly defined zoning by law set in place to protect the character of the community. They called the land between Brant on the east and close to Maple on the west and from Baldwin on the north down to the Lake – the St. Luke’s Precinct – which was anchored by St. Luke’s Anglican Church which has land that gives it a view to the Lake.  That property was given to the Anglican Church by the Joseph Brant family.

The precinct boundary has all kinds of wiggles and squiggles in it but it is basically west of Brant.  The community has many styles; some single story, some two and two and a half.  There are some apartment buildings as well but the core is single family homes and the residents want to keep it that way.  That’s what the Official Plan gave them in 2008 and they don’t want to give that away.

Maurice Desrochers talking to residents about his Caroline street project during a Saturday morning community meeting.

Was this an inappropriate development or a tussle between a developer and a group of citizens who didn’t like the pace of change that was being proposed?  We will never know.  Hopefully Desrochers will have realized some capital gain on the purchase and sale of the properties.  Failing that all he has for this effort is invoices from consultants and some nice poster board with drawings of the dream.

Maurice Desrochers did not make himself available for comment.

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Some of the most imaginative and amazing beds raced up Brant Street last Sunday.

September 22, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was the 4th Annual.  They shut down the lower part of Brant Street to let it happen and happen it did.  The Amazing Bed Race, a fund-raiser for the Joseph Brant Hospital’s redevelopment saw a number of new entrants.  Smith Funeral Homes took the Best Entry prize for an imaginative entry.

They called themselves the Overtakers and along with earning the Best Entry prize they got into the quarter finals as well. The knocked off the Mike Wallace Tories in an elimination race only to be knocked off by the Jane McKenna Tory’s in the next elimination. Great fun.

Not only did the “vehicle” tell the corporate story but it made it to the quarter finals as well.  Calling it a bed was a bit of a stretch though.

The crowd for this event – well it could have been bigger because it was good entertainment.  The teams push and they push hard.  As the elimination races began to take place there was a run off between “beds” from two landscaping outfits – and they were competing in every sense of the word.

The event is a fund-raiser but one got the impression there was a lot of corporate image on the line.  The Tories were all over this event as well.  MP Mike Wallace, looking very trim, lead his team while Jane McKenna, who was away at a Tory provincial convention, was led by a team done up in major blue costumes.

There wasn’t a Liberal or a New Democrat to be seen.  The Greens weren’t to be seen either.

The McKenna Tory team, in their sleek blue costumes, edged out the Smith Funeral Overtakers in the elimination races.

This one wasn’t a race – it was more of a route. The patient looks pretty concerned about the runner

Leggat Mazda had to push past the 007’s to get themselves to the finals – which they did.

The BayHawks Soccer Team beat out the team from the hospital and went on to give the automotive people who were eventually the two finalists a very good run.

Mike Wallace has probably never run as hard in his life. Valiant effort but the Overtakers laid the Wallace team to rest.

That looks like a tie – but it didn’t end that way. The bank lost out the hospital team.

The tone for the event was set by the judges who apparently didn’t take themselves all that seriously.

If you pushed a stroller – you were a winner.

Good clean starts

The finalists getting out of the starting gate. Acura on Brant beat Leggat Mazda in a well run race.

The races begin with time trials.  Each “bed” runs the short course twice, which then sets them up for the races that lead to one final event which for Burlington this year came down to two automotive dealers racing against each other.  The McKenna bed and the Smith Funeral bed hung in right to the end.

Good clean fun – with a camera crew coming uncomfortably close to being wiped out on more than one occasion.

The rules require each bed to stay in its lane, which, given the steering mechanism on these “beds”, made that somewhat difficult.

With four years’ experience behind then – this could become an even more significant event, with the high schools running against each other, the political parties fighting for supremacy and the city’s corporate sector out there in force.

Could city hall challenge the Region?  Could Roseland challenge Aldershot?  Could some of the golf clubs challenge one another.  Lots of room for growth on this one.

The Stroller races were a delight – there was one girl who figured out quickly how to get her stroller up that course quick,quick, quick.  She tilted her stroller back onto the rear wheels and let it fly.

For the 2013 Amazing Bed Race it came down to Acura on Brant beating LeggatMazda in the final race.

The event is presented by Scotiabank and organized by the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation and the Rotary Club of Burlington North. In its first three years the event raised over $272,000.

Teams are formed and either makes their own bed or rents a bed from the organization then they get out and do their fund raising.

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Just Ask! A travel service:Getting to the Montreal area – do we fly or should we drive?

September 23, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON.  Traveling can be fun.  Cruises are great, bus tours can be an adventure but most travel takes some planning.  Ask your questions before you travel and don’t find yourself saying: “I didn’t know that.”  Gordana Liddell a season travel veteran is here to answer travel questions: Just Ask.

My family is planning a trip to Montreal to see my husband’s grandmother in Vaudreuil.  He wants to drive but I want to fly because I think driving is too long for me and my two small kids.  The flight is short.  Can you convince him?

Kate

Hi Kate,

This is a discussion we have had in my own family many times, and having done both with kids, I have definite ideas about which is better.

Let’s examine the flying option:

At first glance a 70 minute flight seems like a short trip.  But that’s only the gate-to-gate time…not the entire journey.

Here’s the breakdown in a best case scenario:

-Travel time from Burlington to Toronto airport:  45 minutes

-Parking:  if you park on site the time added is minimal, but most of us would probably explore the many off-site options. These require a shuttle bus ride to the terminal as well as waiting for said bus.  Add 45 minutes.

Check – at times this can be an “experience”. Allow for the time needed if you are flying.

-Check-in:  Even if you did an online check-in at home, you still need to be at the airport with enough time to check in your bags, (assuming you have bags since you are travelling with children…advice on travelling extremely light in an upcoming article), get through security and get to the gate at least 30 minutes before departure time.  Add at least one hour.

-Boarding, flight time and deplaning:  Add two  hours.

-Getting picked up at the airport or taking a taxi?  Add 45 minutes for drive time to Vaudreuil.  (Renting a car?  You will need to add considerably more time).

Total travel time from Burlington to Vaudreuil by way of flying is about five hours.  And all of this is assuming the fact that you will experience no traffic on the way to or from either airport, that your flight is on time and that your baggage arrives on the same flight you do.

Now let’s look at the cost.  If you get extremely lucky, you can score seat sale prices for only $250-$300 per person.  More realistically, though, $500 per person is what you should expect.  I’ll do the math for you…for a family of four, this adds up to…a lot.

The case for driving.

Travel time should take about six hours in a car.  This, of course, does not factor in traffic or stops.  The best…the very best time to go…is in the wee hours, when traffic has not yet started and ideally you can just transfer your kids from their beds to the car, and they can spend a good part of the journey asleep. 

Weather can be a tough obstacle when driving, especially in the winter.  But it can be an even tougher obstacle when flying.  Winter weather causes flight delays and even cancellations due to storms not only in your own city but in others.  Your plane may be stuck somewhere where the weather is nasty and your own city is sunny and mild.  At least when you are driving to your destination, you have much more control over the entire situation.

If you drive – plan for ways to keep the kids occupied. If the weather is right a picnic is a great idea.

The drive is an easy one but it’s not an overly exciting one so you will need to think of amusement for the kids.  Again, keep them asleep for as long as you can, and as for when they are awake, I’m sure you are already an expert on finding things to keep them occupied on a daily basis anyway.  Plus, you will definitely need to make at least one “refreshment” stop which will kill some time, and at the same time add time to your travel.  So try and keep it…efficient.

And when you get to Vaudreuil, you will arrive at the front door of your husband’s grandmother’s house, AND you will have a car to get around in, AND you will have your luggage with you guaranteed.

Cost:  Yes, gas is expensive.  But you can get there and back and have a full tank of driving around gas by filling up four times.  This should not cost you more than $400.  That’s a huge difference from the cost of flying.

And, probably most importantly, it costs the same for one person to make the drive as it does four.

In the end, Kate, I don’t think I can convince your husband that he is wrong.  But those are the main points you can look over, compare and decide together.

(Do the drive).

Gordana Liddell is our resident travel writer. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, a travel industry veteran of nearly two decades, freelance writer, and most recently book editor. She is fortunate enough to live right here in Burlington with her family.  If you have a travel question you can reach her at: send us an email

 

 

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Winner of BurlingtonGreen bike contest turns out to be a New Brunswicker who has a sister in Burlington.

September 22, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  What was that line – it takes a village to raise the child?  What does it take to create a community that is more than the “vibrant community” line that city hall spouts?  How do you develop a caring, compassionate community that sees beyond galas?

Brenda Richards, a resident of New Brunswick was the winner of the bike that was donated by Mountain Equipment Coop – now known as MEC. Ms Richards got pulled into the contest by her sister, a Burlington resident.

BurlingtonGreen was named as one of five organizations in Canada to participate and compete in the Jamieson Vitamins Call for the Wild contest that would see $100,000 in prize money shared by the five organizations based on the number of people each was able to get to vote for them.

BurlingtonGreen was the smallest organization in terms of the community it represented and they were up against some pretty impressive organizations; the Vancouver Aquarium had a large audience to draw on and the McGill University Bird Sanctuary had an international reputation. 

But Burlington was up to the challenge and, as Amy Schnurr, Executive Director of BurlingtonGreen  commented “we beat Calgary which is five times bigger than we are”.  On a day by day basis the race soon settled into Burlington fighting to keep its third place spot.

Mountain Equipment Coop, now known as MEC got behind the Burlington effort with the donation of an MEC bike that was won – wait for it – by a resident of New Brunswick.  How did that happen?  Well, Brenda Richard, the winner of the bike draw, has a sister who lives in Burlington.  The sister spread the word to the family and as a result there were votes from outside the city that allowed us to literally inch ahead of Calgary by xx votes.

The winner picked up her bike from the MEC shop in Halifax.  Perhaps we will see her on the bike testing herself on Guelph Line one summer afternoon.

It was a good race for the cause and a good run for Burlington Green.  It will be interesting to hear what BurlingtonGreen decides to do with the funds they earned.  Will they take us beyond that “vibrant community” line coming out of city hall and perhaps get us to the point where we are a city with a responsible tree preservation program?

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If you think your picture being in cyber space is compromising; how do you feel about having your fingerprint out there?

September 22, 2013

By James Burchill.

BURLINGTON, ON. Apple’s new iPhone with fingerprint security is raising privacy questions and giving many people reason to balk at buying the latest from the gadget giant. The question isn’t whether or not the idea will work, it’s a question of whether or not trading biometric data as sensitive as fingerprints, and the privacy implications that could have, for some convenience is really a good deal. As usual, it’s all about perception and preference rather than one-size-fits-all reality.

The iPhone 5S will let you use a fingerprint as an ID; what happens to that fingerprint should you lose that phone?

The Touch ID on the iPhone 5S: The idea behind the new iPhone’s fingerprint security system is pretty simple. Fingerprints, known to be unique to the individual, are now easily scanned and stored, and can easily be compared to a known base metric for verification. Other biometric options include retina scans, which are very expensive, facial recognition, which is still largely in its infancy, and DNA, which is difficult to do on-the-fly.

Fingerprints have been the most common go-to for consumer-grade biometric identification, but Apple is the first to add it as an option for a common gadget rather than a device meant to be used in secure situations and businesses.

The Touch ID for the iPhone 5S, which is now on the market, uses a fingerprint scan to replace a personal identification number (PIN) for the phone’s security features and can be accessed (limited to a “is the person verified?” Q&A) by apps on the phone to replace similar security measures they might have.

The iPhone will use the scanned fingerprint, but not the fingerprint itself as verification. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s due to the complex nature of how physical attributes like a fingerprint are digitally converted and stored. The fingerprint itself is not stored, per se, but a digital version of it is. That digital version is not as simplistic as a scan or photo of the physical fingerprint, but is instead a series of plot points (or a metric) that describes the fingerprint’s defining characteristics. Those who work with fingerprinting will understand this. The rest of us need more explanation.

How Digital Fingerprinting Works:  Try to remember back to your school days in a Geometry class. Remember how the Fibonacci sequence (Editor’s note: Sure James I remember that.) could be made to make swirls by simply plotting the numbers (1, 2, 3, 5, 8…) in a series of defined points on a chart? Imagine an equation that described a fingerprint using a similar number sequence.

Fingerprint: a unique identifier. Do you want it out there for anyone to grab and use. That would give a whole new dimension to identity theft. Apple’s iPhone5S can use a fingerprint as ID. Is this a smart move? Burchill wonders.

A fingerprint is basically a bunch of swirls with defined beginning and ending points for the individual lines making up the swirl. So to store it digitally, all that is required is to know the beginning, apex, and end point of the swirls that make the print unique and you have a stored version of it. One that takes up very little data space, but that can be easily re-drawn at any time.

This same idea is how most graphics are plotted on a computer screen, in fact, and is also what makes up a lot of the other things we now consider common in digital graphs, photography, and more.

Why It’s a Privacy Concern:  For privacy advocates, what Apple has introduced is a device that can scan a fingerprint and store it, even if it has been encrypted, on a device that is known to be easily hacked. Further, the physical storage of the fingerprint information is on the phone itself and therefore accessible by blunt means.

Other devices that use fingerprint data for security, such as laptops from most of the major makers, have been found to have similar security issues. The difference here is that smart phones are more often stolen and compromised than any other device and with HTC reportedly planning a similar fingerprint ID system; this could become a serious problem.

James Burchill creates communities and helps businesses convert conversations into cash.  He’s also an author, speaker, trainer and creator of the Social Fusion Network™ an evolutionary free b2b networking group with chapters across southern Ontario.  He blogs at JamesBurchill.com and can be found at the SocialFusionNetwork.com or behind the wheel of his recently acquired SMART car.

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Competition for the book audience at the end of the month. Local author Turpin Myers launches “Nightswimming”.

September 21, 21013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Sunday the 29th is going to be a busy day for the book lovers.  A Different Drummer Books has author Shelly Sanders in their shop  celebrating the publication of a new entry in her superb historical fiction series for young people, The Rachel Trilogy.

Rachel’s Promise, taking place in Shanghai and St. Petersburg in the early 20th century, continues the vivid saga begun last year with Rachel’s Secret, drawing upon Shelly’s own extraordinary family history.

Rachel’s Promise on Sunday, September 29 at 2pm, right in the bookshop.  Admission is free, everyone is welcome, refreshments will be served.  

Janet Turpin Myers, local author launches her first title at the end of the month.

Local author Janet Turpin Myers will be holding the local launch of her first title “Nightswimming” on the same date and at the same time.  It’s a private event but if you know Janet – pop her a note and she will find a way to squeeze you in.

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Premier takes GO to Burlington to listen while she works her way to a transit strategy.

September 20th 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The Premier was in town for a Roundtable event facilitated by the Chamber of Commerce at which she listened to some 30 + area business people  talk privately about jobs and the economy – which has been the anvil Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has been banging his steel hammer on for the past couple of years.  The Premier is clearly moving in on territory he had staked out.

The visit was the Premier’s second visit to Burlington this month – does she think the Burlington seat can be won?

Taking part in the Premier’s Roundtable in Burlington were: Tom Hughes, President –EarthFresh;  Brad Wiseman, CFO EarthFresh; Sylvia Parr, 1st VP – Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies, and poultry farmer; Ken Forth-Local Farmer and past President of Canadian Horticultural Society;  John Sawyer -Oakville Chamber of Commerce; Orla Johnston, Oakville Chamber of Commerce; Wendy Rinella   -First Canadian Title; Rocco Delvecchio, Siemens; James   Rowland, Ford Canada; Roland  Tanner, Tanner Ritchey Publishing; Rick Goldring -Burlington Mayor; Ian          Cameron, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Paul  Subject, CEO Stanmech Technologies, Ted Lee, Javelin Techologies; Hani Kaissi, VP-Anaergia; Steve Watzek;  CEOAnaergia; John Dehne, President L-3 Wescam; Jean Jacques-Rousseau,  Senior Manager AmerisourceBergen; Keith Hoey, President Burlington Chamber of Commerce; Eric Blinkhorn – Konecranes Canada Inc; Gerry Kavanaugh – Apex Composites; Glen Russell  – Kontek Ecology Systems Inc.; Heather Gerrie Kwant, Gerrie Electric Wholesale Limited; Heidi Cowie, Stresschat Inc.; John Goodwin-MTE Consultants Inc.; Laurie Nadeau, Bevsupport Corp; Nancy   Moore , Centre for Skills Development and Training; Marty Staz, Marty Staz – Royal LePage Burloak Real Estate Services; Michael Clothier, Inter Mune Canada; Sharon  Jackman, Service First Forwarding Inc. and Jonathan Levy                                  

Earlier in the week Premier Wynne announced a panel of prominent people who were going to take a deeper look at the public and municipal responses to The Big Move recommendations.  You remember that one don’t you?  The announcement that we needed billions to upgrade the transportation infrastructure so that we could get people out of their cars and put at least a dent in the grid lock that at times turns the QEW into a parking lot.

The Big Move report estimated $34 billion would be needed to upgrade public transit in the heavily congested region.  The problem with that report was there was no consensus on whose pockets that money was to come out of.  We all know whose pocket it is going to come from eventually – what’s going on now at all the political levels is none of them wants to be seen as the one that asks for the money.

When the Big Move report got to Burlington’s city council they all sat glumly realizing there wasn’t a thing they could actually do and fearful that the city would be given the job of sucking the money out of your wallets.

The Premier, doing her bit to ease the load on the QEW took GO to Burlington.

That has happened to Burlington before: while health is a provincial responsibility that didn’t stop the province from advising the Mayor that he had to come up with $60 million to pay a share of the cost of re-developing Joseph Brant Hospital.  The Mayor gulped because that was all he could do.

 Creating a panel to dig through the mounds of reports and find a consensus in there that will keep the public from voting them out of office is a monumental task.  Hoping for a decision in December of this year is as close to a pipe dream as you’re likely to get.

This Premier needs an issue that makes her the clear favourite when she goes to the polls and she would like to choose the issue rather than have one slapped on her plate.  Tricky business but that is what the art of politics is all about.  The good ones are great at it – and this country has had a couple of great ones.  Too early to tell if Kathleen Wynne has greatness in her.

She has managed to keep a fractious Legislature under control – no mean feat.  While jobs is her biggest challenge resolving the transportation issues has to get done first and that isn’t a two year task.  Wynne needs a quick political fix, one of those rabbits that get pulled out of a hat. 

Can the panel she appointed do it?  Anne Golden, the woman selected to head the panel, is certainly an accomplished and politically savvy social animator.  Running the Toronto United Way and then the Conference Board of Canada and now at Ryerson certainly stands her in good stead.  Can she make a 1% increase in HST sound palatable?  Probably but a five-cent-a-litre regional gas tax is going to choke us.  We are then in the $1.50 a litre realm.  Add to that the $350-million-a-year business parking levy they have in mind and an additional $100 million a year in development charges and one begins to wonder just how much pain the public can handle.  Was the appointment an attempt to stall the inevitable?  Four months isn’t much of a stall.  Do we have a Premier whistling as she walks by the cemetery?

Is there a consensus in here somewhere?

“I’ve always been opposed to revenue tools and I continue to be opposed to revenue tools,” said Ford. “People are taxed to death enough, and revenue tools is just a tax.”

The Progressive Conservatives criticized the Liberals for appointing a panel to study the recommendations from Metrolinx instead of making decisions about which revenue tools they want to use to raise the transit funding.

“I guess this is another study group, wrapped in a committee, buried in a panel,” complained PC Leader Tim Hudak. “When you call 13 political appointees to study this, that’s Liberal job creation, I guess.”

The New Democrats agreed transit expansion has to be funded, but said they would not support it being done on the backs of already overburdened workers, while the government is giving tax breaks to big corporations. They don’t believe the government’s plans to dig into the pockets of everyday families who are already feeling the pinch is going to be a successful strategy.

“This is a culture shift for this region, it’s a culture shift for the North American context, that people think not in terms of the automobile, they think about transit,” said Premier Wynne. “So we need to make sure that we make the fairest choices possible.”

Government studies show people in the greater Toronto-Hamilton area spend an average of 82 minutes a day commuting, and forecast that will jump to 109 minutes a day by 2031 if nothing is done.  And Wynne desperately wants to do whatever she can to ensure that it doesn’t become a provincial election issue either.  Quite how you hit the tax payers for $34 billion (that’s $34,000,000,000.) without making it an election issue is astounding.

Government studies show people in the greater Toronto-Hamilton area spend an average of 82 minutes a day commuting, and forecast that will jump to 109 minutes a day by 2031 if nothing is done.  There’s an incentive for you.

Next year municipalities in Ontario choose their leadership. Transit will be an issue for Burlington – perhaps not as big as many may think.  The transit people have handled the reallocation of services,  an awkward situation, rather well.  Cutting back on some routes and beefing up others is having an impact – quite how big an impact isn’t known yet but there are promising signs.

Meanwhile Burlington transit plugs away at improving its performance and the level of service it offers.  About six months ago city manager Jeff Fielding looked at the transit financial and realized immediately that this wasn’t sustainable and called for less service on the under performing route and more service on those routes that showed potential for growth.  The transit advocates didn’t like that decision but it was implemented and Mike Spicer, Director of Transit was given some breathing room and a more of a budget to revitalize transit – it was a city service that had lost its way.

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Predicted rainfall has the potential to flood – caution advised. We can never tell what weather is going to do anymore – can we?

September 20th, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  These days you just never know – do you?  Conservation Halton issued the following Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook today at 3:30 p.m.

Environment Canada is advising a period of extended rainfall over the next 24 hours due to the train of a slow-moving cold front. The rain is expected to begin this evening and continue overnight and into tomorrow morning. Rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 mm are expected across the watershed along with the potential for some isolated thunderstorms which could increase the rainfall values.

One of the several reservoirs in the Region:

15 to 25 mm are expected across the watershed along with the potential for some isolated thunderstorms which could increase the rainfall values.As a result of the rainfall our rivers and streams will result in higher than normal water levels and flows, creating dangerous conditions. Widespread flooding is not currently anticipated. Our reservoirs are still in range of our seasonal levels and have storage capacity available. 

 Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to stay away from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts and dams.  Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous.  Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue further messages as necessary.

This Watershed Condition Statement will be in effect through to Sunday September 22, 2013.

 Note: A Watershed Safety Statement – Flood Outlook is an early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.

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The cod fishery – gone; just gone. Left to whither to nothing while 30,000 workers lost their jobs.

September 20, 2013

By Ray Rivers.

BURLINGTON, ON.  They are romantic little fishing villages dotting the coastline of this Island province, the last to join Canada.  The quaint, brightly painted houses and boat shacks are all well maintained and clean.  It is as if the clock had been turned back a half century or more – except for the quiet.  An eerie silence pervades, almost like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone.  Perhaps it just seems that way because the sea is empty.  There are no boats in the harbours; nobody selling their catch-of-the-day on the docks; no seagulls dodging and diving for discarded fish guts; and nobody fishing off an island that was founded on the cod fish.

The cod almost jumped out of the water and into the boats. It was a phenomenal resource that sustained  a province – until the bureaucrats got the numbers wrong.

The almighty cod fish which attracted settlers and fishers from all around the world; which led to the discovery of Newfoundland; and that provided the income and livelihood for its inhabitants… is gone.  The cod fishery collapsed in the late 1980‘s, though it took the federal government until 1992 to actually declare a total moratorium.  Thirty thousand workers lost their jobs overnight and now Newfoundlanders are allowed only a three-week window to catch a few lonely cod for their own tables.

 The expert government scientists really blew this one. They over-estimated the cod stock, underestimated the impact of the fishing vacuum cleaners, called factory trawlers, and then nodded politely as their masters applied political pressure to keep the fishery open, long after it should have been closed.  Now, over two decades later the stock has still not recovered.  Locals do express hope for the cod, some optimism, unlike they do for the wild Atlantic salmon which is truly gone forever.

 Thank God we have agriculture.  But now we have more expert scientists guiding our policy makers, as they support Monsanto and other companies creating the new and exciting genetically modified organisms (GMO).  It was only1994, less than two decades ago, when the first commercially available GMO food, a tomato, was approved by the US FDA.  Yet today there are 25 GMO plants being grown around the world, and almost all of the corn and soybeans (90%) grown in the US are GMO.  Canada is not far behind this trend. 

 Some of the genetic material spliced into these foods simply allows the plants to defend themselves against pesticides like Monsanto’s Round-up, which does such a deadly job of cleaning up the weeds.  Some GMOs have altered biological processes, such as the tomato, which now ripens slower than nature had intended – keeping it fresher-looking on the grocer’s shelf.  And the latest GMO being developed claims to enhance the nutritional value of food (golden rice), thus offering the promise of feeding the masses being born into hunger in the less developed nations of the world.

...they are missing something and haven’t grasped the bigger picture - and that we should be moving slower and more cautiously.  The remaining category of GMO foods actually contain pesticides within their DNA, such as bt corn and bt potatoes Every time we eat these foods we intake the same pesticide DNA that kills or wards off predatory insects, fungal diseases, etc.  Now the agriculture and health agencies and their scientists tell us that these products are safe.  But I worry that, like the fisheries experts, they are missing something and haven’t grasped the bigger picture – and that we should be moving slower and more cautiously.   GMOs have been critically labelled ‘franken foods’ by the organic industry because their process of gene splicing is unlike anything which occurs in nature.

 I confess, I used to be an organic producer and I managed an organic certification agency here in Ontario – so that is my bias.  Like others, committed to organic foods, I am concerned about how much testing has gone into these GMO products, given how soon after development we move these foods into production, the market place and our stomachs.  What if we discover a problem in due course, will we have enough non-GMO seeds to change back?  I am annoyed that there is no labeling where we purchase food, informing us whether we are getting GMO, thus purposely blocking us from exercising our rights to choice as consumers.  And I do worry about the cumulative effect of eating foods with poison in their genetic make-up. 

  I know our agricultural scientists are well-educated and have our best interests at heart when they tell us they believe that GMOs are safe - and time may well prove them to be right.  But then I think ...Once, I ran out of soybean seeds for some garden-variety edamame I was planting.  Rushed, I inquired about organic seeds at my local farmers’ supply store.  But the only kind they had were ‘Round-up Ready’ by Monsanto.  These seeds came with a contract I needed to sign confirming that, though I bought and grew them, they were Monsanto property into perpetuity.  I just shook my head and contacted an organic grower to help me out.

There was nothing modified about this natural resource. All we had to do was responsibly preserve and wisely harvest. We failed to do that.

I know our agricultural scientists are well-educated and have our best interests at heart when they tell us they believe that GMOs are safe – and time may well prove them to be right.  But then I think back to those meetings with the well-respected federal fisheries biologists, when we used to finalize and allocate fishing quotas.  They were convinced that the northern cod stock was strong and growing, and that despite all the fishing pressure it was facing, would never collapse. 

 Ray Rivers was born in Ontario; earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and earned a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office and  held executive positions with Liberal Party  riding associations.  He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

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It was one of the shortest cultural events the city has ever seen. Quite an impact. Watch for it again next year.

September 19, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was like one of those small things that you come across.  An object you see in a store window, a restaurant menu that delights the palate, a sunset or a cloud formation that deserves the word – awesome.

If you were there – and you could have been there – the No Vacancy event held at the Waterfront Hotel Thursday evening was certainly a one of a kind.  Held in a part of the hotel where the hallways were narrow and left people feeling a little crowded which turned out to be part of the charm of the evening.

The images, some thirty of them were just hanging from the ceiling by a piece of nylon – twisting from time to time. It was simple, almost austere until you looked closely at the work and saw immense detail. People kept wanting to go back to the room and look again.

Ten artists either in their room doing their work or standing outside the room assigned to them welcoming you and in a couple of cases handing out a small memento to remember the experience.  And there were experiences.

Ten area artists were each given a room and asked to do whatever they wanted with the space.  They were to be open to the public for just three hours.

The space couldn’t handle all that many people and the hallways were plugged solid at times; people bumping into friends and chatting away.  There were a couple of “slam poets” that brought energy and life to the hallways.

Kyle Tonkens stepped way outside his comfort zone and stretched the imaginations of most of those who looked at his installation.  It was a bold, brave move.

It wasn’t the kind of thing that could be reviewed.  Some of the artists had a large collection of their work on the walls of the room.  Another went way, way WAY outside his artistic comfort zone and put on one of the most stunning displays.  Two people in a room, one standing, and the other stretched out face down on the bed.  If you were there – you hopefully understood the significance and the strength of the installation.

Another artist had a small table of small flashlights that you needed to work your way through her display – the room was close to totally dark.  I didn’t get the significance of the ironing board in the bathtub but the room was fun to experience.

Selina Jane Eckersall is to be credited for getting the event off the ground.  Too early to tell if all the work was worth the outcome.  The sense I got was  that everyone wanted more.

What Burlington is beginning to see is a cultural layer that was below the surface and not seen by very many people.  When Jeremy Freiburger turned in his Cultural Directions document to the city – he was commissioned to do the report – then  watched it sit on a desk for more than six months before the city finally got moving on public consultations the artists in the city decided they needed to do something.

The formed a collective; held a meeting.  Twenty people came to the first, sixty to the second and there is now a group of 220 + people who chatter away on the Facebook page they created.

And they do chatter and in the process the public gets to learn more about just how much there is going on in this city.  It is amazing – few people knew about much of it.

Everyone knows that Canadian authors by definition are non-profit operations.One author complained about not being able to put up any literature on the Bulletin Board at the library – the space is apparently only for non-profit organization; something we will look into.  Everyone knows that Canadian authors by definition are non-profit operations.

The Arts and Cultural Collective may not move the yard stick very much at city hall but they have broken that hard surface and people now know more about the events taking place.

Mayor Goldring is certainly onside.  He attended the first Public Consultation and was close to overwhelmed with the energy and the talent he saw.  Translating that enthusiasm into policy with funds attached to it is going to be the challenge.

There wasn’t a dime of public money spent on the event.

There are some very interesting art and cultural events going on in this city – it is out there – you just have to dig to find it.

Don’t expect to see anything on the library bulletin boards however.

Will  Selina Jane Eckersall do another show next year?  She should.

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Inappropriate Touching of young girls on the rise. Second incident reported in the last ten days.

September 19, 2013

By staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Earlier this week a 13-year-old Burlington girl was walking home on Palmer Drive near Newlands Crescent when she sensed she was being followed.

While walking, she turned to see a man walking behind her and quickened her pace to create some distance.

 A few moments later her wrist was grabbed and the man spun her around and touched her inappropriately.  The girl fought off the man and ran home.

 The victim did not report the matter to police until earlier today, September 19th.

 The suspect is described as white, older than 20 years of age, wearing a baseball cap, light coloured t-shirt and jeans.  The suspect may have had piercings in his mouth area, known as ‘snake bites’.

This is the second incident of public molestation of young girls in the city in less than a week.

 Police offer the following prevention tips when walking:

 Walk with a purpose

Be alert and attentive of your surroundings at all times

Avoid unlit streets and shortcuts through parks and/or vacant lots

If you suspect you are being followed, cross the street, scream if necessary

IF YOU FEAR FOR YOUR SAFETY, CALL 9-1-1

 Call the police as soon as you can to report the incident; they can move very quickly and be in a neighbourhood in minutes.

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Fromer Toronto Mayor, David Crombie, has deep roots in Burlington area and is fond of the city, tries to bend our Mayor’s ear.

September 18, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was an event held at perhaps the most prestigious site in the city.  It had relatively little to do with Burlington and at the same time it had everything to do with Burlington.

Marlaine Koehler, part of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust that created the Waterfront Trail that first opened in Burlington just east of the Canal on Mother’s Day in YEAR

Some of the best minds in the province were in the Discovery Room overlooking the lake and Spencer Smith Park with the pier at the east end.  There were people from municipalities and government agencies across the province. They were there to honour two women: Marlaine Koehler and Vicki Barron who, together, were the driving force behind the creation of the Waterfront Trail that today stretches from Niagara on the Lake to the Quebec border and has begun to include large parts of Lake Erie.

Vickie Barron, one of two women given the David Crombie Award bu the Canadian Urban Institute in Burlington earlier this week.

Nothing like this had ever been done before.  The initiative came out of a Royal Commission led by Crombie  that resulted in a Waterfront Regeneration Trust; an organization that holds waterfront property or the right to walk on properties in trust for the public.

There was a time when Burlington was a leader in the development of the “waterfront”, something David Crombie reminded us of when he was in the city a few years ago talk to the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

Crombie was back to witness the awards being given and took advantage of the opportunity to chat up the Mayor on how he was doing with the plans for the Beachway Park.  This park is where the Waterfront Trail used to begin.  The series of pictures set out below show – well, check the body language.  Crombie was having some difficulty with comments Goldring was making.

Mayor Goldring is struggling with this issue.  I think his heart is in the right place, which is more than can be said of some of his council members, but setting out a vision and then executing the leadership to make the vision a reality is not our Mayor’s strong suite.

The pictures are shown in the sequence they were taken in – minutes apart.

David Crombie, centre, likes everyone he meets and has a soft spot for Burlington.  Crombie listen, he listen carefully.  Mayor Goldring is on the left with the chair of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust on the right.

The conversation was about the lakefront, the Beachway and Spencer Smith Park.  Crombie who has vast experience with how to make the waterfront accessible to the public and at the same time include community makes a point.  Is Goldring listening?

Crombie thinks about the responses being made by Mayor Goldring.

The folded arms tell the story – and the expression on Crombie’s face suggest he doesn’t like what he is hearing.  The city will have a better idea of what Mayor Goldring thinks when he speaks at Council Monday.  The city’s position on the Beachway Park, which will the go to Regional Council, will be made known on Monday.

Ms Koehler told the small audience something about the day, it was a Sunday, a Mother’s Day when the Waterfront Trail was officially opened.  “we got calls from Hamilton asking if the trail could be stretched to their part of the province and we explained that Hamilton had not taken part in the planning and making a last-minute change just couldn’t happen”.

The event was one of those things that take place to honour our best in this country.  What made this event particularly poignant was the presence of former Toronto Mayor David Crombie.  The award was given in his name and he had worked for many years with the two women.  Crombie has been the strongest argument in the province for making our waterfronts livable places.

Burlington is on the cusp of making a decision that will define for a century what kind of a waterfront we are going to have as decisions get made about what Burlington wants to see done with the Beachway Park – a location that was at one point thought of as a bit of a slum; a place where biker gangs held court and where houses were yards away from a railway line and hydro towers loomed  over everything.

Council Blair Lancaster told a committee meeting that when she was a young woman she “wasn’t allowed to go to the park”.  Janet Turpin Myers, a recently published Burlington author, said that “when I was young you were behaving really badly if you went to that place.  It was seen as a ‘wild’ place.

The vision parks and recreation staff has put forward is “plastic”.  It has no life, no vitality and no colour and no imagination.  It is what you would expect from bureaucrats.  The limited vision that came out of Parks and Recreation is far from final and there will be some good work done to make the park much more vibrant.

What is missing is the strongest thing the park has going for it and that is the “community” that is already there and one that should be grown.

It took Torontonians a couple of years to get to the point where homes were allowed to remain on their islands – making it one of the nicest, safest places to visit in that city.

The city wants to create four zones within the park that will allow for the protection of the sensitive sand dunes and for the creation of better parking. The current plan to to take four properties that are currently privately owned and turn them into park space. There are three structures on the four properties.

On the plus side, the city has limited the land grab it wants to do to four pieces of property with four structures.

What Marlaine Koehler and Vicki Barron did with their Waterfront Trail work was change the mindset.  They were the beginning of the movement that brought the lake back into the hands of the public and made it a living breathing place.  Ms Koehler told her audience that her mother saw the lake as a place where “dead fish being washed up on the shore”.  Koehler and her children visit Burlington frequently and swim at Beachway Park.  My children see that body of water much differently than I did when I started working on it.  They see it as a place that is rightfully theirs.  My generation had to fight to get it back into the hands of the public.  The Waterfront Agency in Toronto has spent seven years getting three km of the trail through the downtown part of that city.  It is still a struggle but courageous people with innovative ideas have shown it can be done.

Burlington can have a Beachway Park that will become the envy of the province; a place where community, a protected environment and activities for all ages can be enjoyed.

As people were getting ready to leave the event a large ore carrier was seen coming out of Hamilton’s harbour.  Crombie pointed to the ship and said: “I want to go home on that”.  Minutes earlier Crombie said to me that Goldring needed to be cautious because he was about to make a long-term decision.

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Late football season fundraiser at the new Wendell Clark’s on Brant Street – I was there for the food.

September 17, 2013

By Piper  King

Wendel Clarke opened up his new shop on Brant Street last week with a nod to the football season and looking for a way to raise some coin for the Critical Care Unit at the hospital

Hot buttered soul – the band. You can almost taste music like that.

The franchise owner slapped a $10 cover charge on everyone who walked through the door and then gave them a swag bag of goodies that far exceed the $10. The “donation” provided every attendant with unlimited access to a delicious pulled pork entrée (fresh off the roasted pig), hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, bean salad and coleslaw, as well as live performance from band Hot Buttered Soul playing out on the main level patio. 

It got better – two drink tickets and a chance at a 50/50 draw.  More yet – Prizes included in the draw were a barbeque hibachi, a wine tour, three $50 gift certificates to Canyon Creek, dinner for two at Paradiso, dinner for two at Montana’s. 

The grand prize was a Wendel Clark jersey which Clark will sign when he is next in town..

Wendel Clark’s opened in June 2013 by franchise operator Merlin Webbe.  Kristina Frizell set up the fundraiser.  Hubby Chris Frizell pulled food serving duty.

Staffer takes the first dunking – all in the name of a good cause; Critical Care at JBH

The band swung between light jazz, blues and jazz cover titles.  Management didn’t like the way donations were going in so they hoisted some of the staff onto the dunk tank platform and for a reasonable sum – down they went.  Leah, a staffer took the first dive.

Guests chose between the spread on the patio or off the menu.  I went for the traditional poutine and apple blossom (Wendell’s fresh twist on the classic Apple Pie).

Our Foodie isn’t recommending the poutine; too salty and the coverage of the gravy left something to be desired.

From a foodie’s point of view, and I am a foodie – I was there for the food – the poutine was tasty, but a little bit salty, some of the fries were untouched by the gravy and a few of the cheese curds were not melted. 

The Apple Blossom worked for our Foodie. “I’ll be going back for more of that” she advised.

The Apple Blossom on the other hand was a hit! The innards of a delicious apple pie was wrapped in a blossom-shaped pastry, but exposed! To the left of the blossom was a line of whipped cream and to the left of that a scoop of vanilla ice cream. When I took a scoop of ice cream and a scoop of the blossom, it was a phenomenal sensation when hot met cold in my mouth!

I need to go back again –  just so I can try another comfort food and dessert off the menu.

Most of the crowd was there for a good meal and not for the football kick off.  With it being football pre-season, the only sports viewable on the television was mainly hockey.  Golf doesn’t count as a sport – it’s what hockey players do when they are not on the ice.

 It was a decent event was fairly decent, but it did not draw as much of a crowd as anticipated. The upside was that those $10 donations will work their way to the hospital.

Wendel Clark’s – Burlington

380 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario L7R 2E8
Phone: 905-633-9217 

 

Piper King will be writing about food for the Burlington Gazette.

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A slam and ten rooms – or is it ten rooms and a slam? Apparently there is No Vacancy. Culture in Burlington.

September 17, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Last July the Burlington Slam Project celebrated five years of monthly poetry slams in this city.   That’s an impressive number and impressive enough to convince the Canada Council to send some coin their way.

This month, with the generous support of our favourite local pub, The Black Bull; we are able to offer the winner of our first slam of the season a $100 CASH PRIZE.   Second prize is a  generous gift certificate to the Black Bull Neighborhood Pub itself.

Poets read and the audience judges. If you like what you hear – you clap loudly. And if you think you have something to say – sign up and take the mike.

What’s a Poetry Slam?  It’s a competition judged by the audience.  They are held in cities all over the world – San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Madrid, New Zealand, Hamilton and Burlington.

It’s the kind of thing you’ve gotta be in the room to fully appreciate.  You never know who is going to say what.  Every month there is Open Mic – anyone can sign up and share anything for 5 minutes.  There is usually a feature artist to really rock the show.

Thursday evening the event will be The P.O.E. (Poetically Organized Entity); Hatched: 1981, on planet Aggression; Parents: Sarcasm, Spite; Occupation: Articulation; Special Skills: Speed, rhymes and rage.  Points of Note: Beaten, ship full of hip hop awards.  Quote: “I’m just some weirdo whose axis is off kilter, whose half assed practice has enough skill to kill ya“

Raw, straight from the heart performances – some are exceptionally good.

The Poetically Organized Entity (P.O.E.) is James Owen Brown. A slam poet from Hamilton Ontario, he has competed nationally at the Canadian Festival of Spoken word twice and been a semi-finalist. He has been a finalist at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam and was the first ever winner of Last Poet Standing. In 2012 P.O.E. won the title of Grand Slam Champion of Toronto as well as the first ever Champion of Champions Cup. He has released a chapbook of poems called “More Poetiker Than Ever”. Typically P.O.E.’s style is very intense and aggressive. His hip hop background comes through in most pieces and his use of pop culture references to help clarify the abstract has made him a southern Ontario favourite.

If you’ve a taste for an appreciation of the English language – give it a try.

Thursday is a full night – but you can cover the No Vacancy in the ten rooms event at the Waterfront, runs from 6 to 9, and then scoot up Guelph Line and take in the Slam at the Black Bull

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This is the way it is supposed to work; United Way at the really local level.

September 17, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  At every game you would see him walking through the stands selling 50/50 tickets.  There weren’t a lot of takers but that didn’t matter – week after week Ryan Harrison, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Burlington Bandits did the job – which earlier this week paid off.

The season needed a lot of improvement – but the community spirit is certainly evident.

The Bandits turned over $1062.00 to the Burlington Hamilton United Way 2013 campaign.  The day of the $7 million target for the campaign ArcelorMittal Dofasco announced a really big donation – for which everyone was grateful.

Ryan Harrison, Director of Sales and marketing for the Burlington Bandits in their traditional red sweaters.

But for the United Way to be really successful – the giving has to happen at the small operations – in the places where someone will take on the task of bringing in those small amounts which grow into big amounts when there are enough of them.

Last year Burlington missed its target by $90,000 – and that kind of a shortfall really hurts the organizations that end up getting less than they had budgeted for.  To the Bandits – Good on You for the idea and for the effort.

Last game of the season for the bandits. They made it really exciting in the closing innings.

For those of you who take in a Bandits game next season – they will do better next year; they’re building, when you see Ryan – buy one of those 50/50 tickets.

 

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