Burlington’s Fareen Samji and Stephen Lowe major contributors in long ball drive competition.

November 27, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. You know the feeling when you hit a great drive, that smooth effortless “ping” sound of the ball hitting the centre of the club face and it felt so easy.  Well there is nothing effortless in the world of long drive. These hitters put everything they have into each drive and live for the thrill of the long ball, searching for that rush of hitting a 400 yard drive. Some call the world of long drive the extreme of golf and with music blaring as hitters blast drives the conventional notion of “quiet please on the tee” is counter productive to the adrenaline wave the hitters are riding.

Fareen Samji  experiencing the smooth effortless “ping” sound of the ball hitting the centre of the club face.

A contingent of 40 long drivers from all over the world including USA and South Africa descended upon Mazatlan, Mexico for the 2013 ILDC International long drive championships at the Marina Mazatlan golf course. Burlington residents Fareen Samji and Stephen Lowe were part of the contingent of Team Canada hitters. Samji, 39 and a Pedorthist at Burlington Orthotic Centre in the current ILDC Canadian women’s champion and Lowe, 46 a sales manager with PPG paints is the current ILDC Canadian Senior men’s champion.

Not many driving ranges can accommodate the length of these hitters so the hitting “grid” was the 18th hole, a relatively flat 420 yard long by 49 yard wide fairway marked up like a football field.

The hitters competed in the individual events (men’s, women’s and seniors ) as well as a team event. “In a traditionally solo sport, the team element makes this championship truly unique” say directors of the ILDC, Rick Benoit and Bill Stark. “Long drive is intense and action packed and delivers that element of awesome that every golfer searches for when hitting a drive,” says Gerhart Cotzee, captain of Team South Africa who brought a strong contingent with them to Mazatlan.

In the individual event, 2012 World Champion, Ryan Winther of the US awed the crowd with drives of 394 yards beating Niilo Schonfeld, of Toronto and Henry Roodt of South Africa won out over Bill Stark from Port Rowan, Ontario. In the women’s event current women’s World Champion Heather LeMaster of the US defeated Fareen Samji of Burlington, ON in the women’s final by 4 yards. “Losing is never fun, but being able to keep pace with the world champion and coming short by 4 yards makes me very proud. I hit the ball really well all week, and had a few equipment changes just prior to going down to Mexico and it paid off big time, “says Samji.

But the story of the week belonged to Team Canada in the Team Finals. Each team comprises of 5 hitters. Three men hit first, then the women hit against each other and then one senior hitter rounds out the team. Team Canada hitters were Ryan Hawkins (captain ) of Woodville, Chris Mason, Etobicoke, Nilo Schonfeld, Toronto, Jason Davies , London (alternate) Fareen Samji and Stephen Lowe of Burlington. Each hitter hits a set of 6 balls and the longest ball that comes to rest inside the 49 yard wide grid is counted. The team score is the cumulative total of the longest ball of the five hitters.

The US team were favourites to win with their key hitters being current REMAX women’s World Champion Heather LeMaster and 2012 men’s world champion Ryan Winther both of whom had won their individual titles earlier in the day.  However, Team Canada showed focus and grit as they hit their way to the championships. Due to the double knockout format of the tournament, Team Canada had to beat Team USA twice in the championship round as the US Team had advanced to the finals undefeated. Team Canada had suffered a loss at the hands of the Americans in the preliminary rounds by a margin of 6 feet. “Losing by 6 feet after a total of five hitters really hurt and we wanted another shot at them” said Stephen Lowe of Burlington and current ILDC Canadian senior men’s champion.

Stephen Lowe, Ryan Hawkins ( captain ), Fareen Samji, Jason Davies, Nilo Schonfeld, Chris Mason drove the long ball to win the International Long Ball Championships in Mexico.

But the road was not smooth for Team Canada. Team captain Ryan Hawkins and the current ILDC Men’s champion suffered a neck injury on the range and had to withdraw after the third round. Alternate, Jason Davies of London, Ontario stepped in as a substitute. “I’m an athlete and we always push through the pain” said Hawkins, a firefighter in Georgina, On. “But I had to do what’s best for the team and I knew that Jason could step up at any given time and get the job done.” Davies, a seasoned athlete, London Knights and Western Mustang alumni was ready for the challenge. “Once the first ball flew off the club perfectly I relaxed and got into my groove.” Davies answered the call handsomely and delivered incredible 350 yard drives under pressure.

“Knowing we had to beat Team USA twice was stressful, but we were pumped up and knew we had it in us. They had only beaten us by 6 feet the first time and we wanted it more than they did” said Chris Mason of Etobicoke, On. Mason. “Chris was on fire and we have such a good camaraderie that he helped push me to find my best swing” said Nilo Schonfeld of Toronto as he delivered blistering drives of 369 yards. “Nilo’s job was to stay close to Winther and he was clutch for us all week. He stayed calm and consistent in every round and peaked at the finals,” says Team captain Hawkins.

When the women went up against each other it was Burlington’s Fareen Samji who shined in the first final with a 295 yard drive out hitting current world champion Heather LeMaster. Samji had earlier finished second in the women’s final after losing to LeMaster by 4 yards. “I wanted another chance to hit against her and I got it. You don’t get to hit against a world champion many times and I was stoked. I was pumped up and full of adrenaline and totally focused. It felt really really good to win,” says Samji.

Ultimately, anchor hitter, Burlington’s Stephen Lowe sealed the deal as he hit the final ball to win the championship.


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Rivers forsakes his keyboard and takes to the stage – performs in Modern Times.

November 28, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Ray Rivers will not be with us this week.  He will be on stage at The Pearl Theatre in Hamilton as part of the crew performing Modern Times, Almost a Musical.

The production is described as – these are their words not ours – Lost souls, smart phones, unattended packages. Saints, sinners, and an angel on call. Original music performed by Charly Chiarelli and Venesio De Salvo. Drama provided by Ray Rivers, Mike Queripel, John Darling, and Kaime Woody Sherman. Written and directed by David Laing Dawson. Produced by Gallery on the Bay.

A play that asks the question, “Is it possible to love Rob Ford and Mike Duffy at the same time, and, if not, well, who wants that last piece of pumpkin pie?”

Sounds like a bit of a lark for sure.  If you’re a Rivers fan – and there are a lot of them – attend.  If you’re not a fan and there are a lot of those as well, attend and throw buns on the stage.  It’s all happening at The Pearl in Hamilton

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Leblovic’s leave a Council Standing committee before hearing Mayor’s remarks which they later call unparliamentary and inappropriate.

November 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Diane Leblovic is not happy with Mayor Rick Goldring and gave him a piece of her mind in an email that was part of the City Council agenda Monday evening.

Diane and her husband Nick have been protesting the running of the Chilly Half Marathon along Lakeshore Road in March of each year because the race prevents a lot of people from getting out of the streets they live on that exit onto Lakeshore.

The Leblovic’s delegated as a tag team along with a half-dozen other Lakeshore residents – not everyone was opposed to the race being run along Lakeshore.

What had Lady Leblovic in a snit was comments the Mayor made after she had left the room.  The discussion on the use of Lakeshore road for the chilly Half Marathon was still taking place but the decision that was going to be made was pretty evident so they packed up their papers and left.

There were at least 3336 runners last March running close to the Oakville border and back. And just as many will be there in March of 2014

Mayor Goldring was not aware that the Leblovic’s had left the Council Chamber.  It borders on unreasonable to leave a meeting at which your reason for being there is still being discussed and then later taking exception to comments made by the Mayor.

The Mayor did say that he had offered to meet with the Leblovic’s and when he realized they had left the Chamber he stopped talking.  Mayor’s Goldring’s response was fair and decent.  For Ms Leblovic to suggest the Council’s behavior  was “unparliamentarily, unfair and inappropriate “ and that their not being in the room “provided a limited and one-sided picture of events and circumstances” is stretching things.

The Chilly Half Marathon delegations took up more than two hours when it was abundantly clear that staff had looked at the options and come to the conclusion that Lakeshore Road was the best place for the race.

In her email to a city hall staffer Ms Leblovic asked that the matter be deferred to the December 9th meeting because they will be “out of the country on the 25th for an important and long-standing personal commitment.”

They just keep on coming – and making Burlington one of the most popular racing events in the province.

The recommendations made at the Standing Committee were approved by Council – the Chilly Half Marathon will take place in March of every year for the foreseeable future.

Council approved a policy that has staff automatically approving events that take place each year.  If a matter goes to a Standing Committee – it will be because staff felt something should be brought to the attention of Council.

The Leblovic’s can now plan for an event early in March of 2014 and arrange to be out-of-town.  They could also walk part of the race or follow the lead from the Pastor of the Lutheran Evangelical Church and be out on Lakeshore road offering fresh fruit to the 5000 + runners.

Additional news stories on Chilly Half Marathon debate.

2013 race video

Standing Committee delegations

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Beachway residents get creative; city hall forgets what satire is – wasn’t Jonathan Swift required reading in high school?

November 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  There are times when you are the butt of the joke and the best thing you can do is go along with the laugh at your expense.  It’s part of our political culture and the truly good politicians learn to laugh at themselves.

The people in the Beachway have an issue with their Ward Councillor and the way he voted so enthusiastically against what they felt was their interests.  It was Councillor Craven’s enthusiasm for getting rid of all the homes that make up the Beachway community and the glee and smugness he displayed that just rubbed the people in the community the wrong way.

As a Standing Committee chair, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is as good as it gets. Handling delegations and accepting the ideas of other people – not as good. But he wins elections.

Councillor Craven is the best Standing Committee chair the city has.  He is a rabid advocate for Aldershot.  Touch that community and you have Rick Craven to deal with.  At a recent Standing Committee he used the phrase “how dare you” when some Members of Council disagreed with the amount of money he wanted to see spent on completing the Plains Road Village Vision.

And, Craven deserves credit for the way he has managed to upgrade Plains Road from what was once a highway that had all the speeding traffic that is part of a throughput road.  Plains Road today is one of the most attractive roads in the city.  The planters and other amenities make it a nice road to drive along and when it is completed and Craven has the bicycle lanes he wants, it will be a pleasant road to bike along to get to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The Beachway residents had hoped their Council member might be as kind to them and their plight as he has been towards the Plains Road Village Vision but Craven has never liked the Beachway community – sees them as people who threaten the world as he sees it.

The Beachway, which draws more people than Aldershot will ever see, hasn’t had as much as a dime spent on plantings, park benches or a decent upgrade to the old rail bed that is now a walking path.  Not much in the way of signage on the western end of the Beachway either

Trim well maintained homes – do we bulldoze buildings like this for park space?

Katherine Henshell, a lawyer who maintained her office in the Beachway community for a time and explained to a Council Standing Committee that the “willing buyer/willing seller” phrase that was being tossed around was close to a joke.  Council heard one of the most common sense explanations about how the Beachway community was being robbed of a fair value for their properties should they decide to sell.

This is the location of the 30 homes the Regional government would like to at some point buy and demolish and turn into a park. They have a fight on their hands even though the Region won the first round.

The community put up a good fight – the city, after a lot of debate, came out with a luke warm decision that sort of said there could be a community down on the waterfront but it didn’t have all that much punch to the motion that went to the Regional Council – which is where the decision on the Beachway was eventually going to be made.

When the issue went to the Conservation Authority the Beachway residents got a bit of a break.  On a tie vote the Authority said they were not prepared to move forward without a budget in place to buy the homes that would have to go if there was ever going to be a park in the Beachway.  The price to buy out the 30 home owners was at the $10 million point.

The debate then moved to the Regional Committee level where after hours of argument the Committee found that they could not come up with a recommendation everyone on the committee could agree on so it went to Regional Council without a recommendation – something quite unusual at the Regional level.

But when it was debated at the Region – it didn’t matter what argument was put forward – this item was going to be approved with the real push coming from an Oakville council member who put a motion on the floor.

The significant seven had varying ideas with what should happen to the Beachway Park. some saw it as a place that needed to be made nothing but park while others thought it should continue as a small but tightly knit community. Dennison thought some of the properties could be redeveloped and new housing put in place. what was evident was the paucity of their creative thinking.

There were all kinds of amendments and amendments to amendments but the drift was clear – this was going to pass.  The Burlington crew did their best, however Burlington’s city council wasn’t really of one voice – and it showed.

Part of the motion that was passed has the Region developing a draft plan for the park and a process that would come up with a plan to purchase the homes from the current owners on a willing seller/willing buyer basis.  Expropriation was off the table.

An attractive.ell maintained home in the Beachway – the owner struggles to ensure that it will be xxx

The Beachway residents were crushed – but these are a resilient bunch of people who have that streak in them that the residents of the Toronto Islands have.  That community was under threat for yours and a lot of the houses on those islands were bulldozed – but today there is a vibrant community on those islands that makes the space safe for the public and a delight to visit.  For those who live on the Toronto Islands – the place is a paradise to live on.

Henshell, who lives a couple of houses over from where the ward 1 councillor lives (that must get awkward) needed to let Craven know that the Beachway community was not going to go quietly into the night.  Depend on the small Beachway community to become a burr under the saddle that Craven rides into the election in October of next year.

There is already one candidate ready to file papers in January to run against Craven who may well choose to take a run at the Burlington seat when the province  goes to the poll, as expected, in the Spring.  Craven trounced Jane McKenna when she took a flyer and ran against him.  With the right team, and Craven does have a team, he could beat McKenna.

Craven has also mouthed words about possibly taking a run at the office of Mayor; probably not a good career move.

Henshell’s proposal was more tongue in cheek than real.  What was surprising was how some people spent real-time on thinking about how to deal with.  To suggest that the ward Councillors property be turned into a park made a lot of sense to Henshell who argues that  if her house could be turned into a park then there was no reason not to consider turning the ward Councillors home into a park if an argument could be put forward that had some merit.  Henshell argues that her proposal has as much merit as the plan to turn 30 homes in the Beachway into a park.

Henshell explains that Bird Watching is the fastest growing recreational activity in the world. More people consider themselves birdwatchers than hunters, hikers or even skiers.  A designated park for the purposes of Bird Watching would be a unique feature to Burlington which would grow tourism, create jobs and strengthen the economy. It creates an opportunity for Burlington  to become a world renowned city recognized for the preservation, protection and study of birds and wildlife.  Henshell neglected to mention that such a park would add to the city’s luster as the safest medium-sized city in Canada

She provided data that claims: some 46 million Americans are birders, their average age is 49 and they have better than average education and income levels.  Just the kind of people Burlington wants to attract.  54% of birders are female and 46% are male. 72% of birders are married.

This lot once had a house on it. Its future might be to become part of a parking lot – none knows at this point what kind of a park would be created if all the houses were bought and torn down.

This is a great demographic which Henshell is suggesting the city might want to reach out to with a place where people can spend time watching and identifying different bird species.  It could become Point Pelee north if we do it right.

“Birders contribute $32 billion dollars in retail sales annually in the United States which generated $85 billion in economic benefits and created 863,406 jobs.”  Burlington would surely want a piece of that pie.

“Bird watching is a therapeutic tool that provides social, emotional and physical benefits.  Promoting this recreational activity within a senior citizen community can keep senior citizens engaged and active and has similar positive results as pet therapy.”

Henshell failed to propose that a branch of the Seniors’ Centre be included in the Bird Sanctuary.  “Socialization and sharing observations and memories promote community and brings people together and reduces isolation.  Studies continue to prove the enormous stress-reducing capabilities of animals. A simple connection to nature can provide an emotional benefit to reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness.”  The prime location for the Bird Watching Park would be adjacent to the Bird Sanctuary, as designated by Conservation Halton.

“There exists no public access to this Bird Sanctuary as it is bordered by private residences. A public portal to this Bird Sanctuary would allow Burlington residents to access the benefits of viewing birds in their nests during seasons of migration. As birds have migratory habits, location is key to allow for optimal viewing of rare birds”, explained Henshell.

“The existing Bird Sanctuary is located near the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Burlington landmark of Easterbrook. Tourism would thrive in this area as bird watching, flower viewing and nature viewing are complimentary pursuits.

“Moreover, there are a number of senior citizens homes in the area, some of which already provide transportation services to The Royal Botanical Gardens and which could expand this service to the proposed bird watching park.

Those three indents in the curb were the driveways to houses that used to line Lakeshore Road. They were part of an active, vibrant community that has 30 homes left – which the Region would like to buy out over time and tear everything down and make it a massive park that will get used heavily for the summer months and become a no mans land in the winter. And we all know what happens in space that is not occupied or patrolled.

“Of the private residents located adjacent to the Bird Sanctuary, one property is particularly isolated from the others and is large enough to support a public park for the purposes of bird watching. It is recommended that 614 Bayshore Boulevard, Burlington, Ontario be acquired to allow for park land. This property provides adequate space, viewing capabilities and a quiet tranquility which is necessary for birders to pursue this recreational activity.”

“Other adjacent properties either do not provide adequate land, do not have desirable viewing capabilities, have limited access or do not have self-containment capabilities and therefore cannot be considered.

City hall records indicate that 614 Bayshore Boulevard, Burlington, Ontario is the home of Ward 1 Councilor Rick Craven and his family.

“Economic growth through tourism maintains the current principles for the vision for the future of Burlington.  The City of Burlington needs to take advantage of opportunities that meet city objectives while considering the needs and health benefits of the residents, adds Henshell in her proposal.

Burlington has always been fortunate in having citizens who see the potential for new ideas and aren’t in the least bit shy about putting those ideas into the public realm.

A typical Beachway cottage – one of many that lined LAkeshore road. There was nothing upscale about the structures but they were home to a community hat was vital and robust – part of the DNA still seen in the community. Neither the planners or the politicians fully understand the community. There was a time when Jack Dennison represented that part of the city.

Henshell wants the city to hold a public meeting a) to discuss the need for a designated park for bird watchers; b) to support the acquisition of 614 Bayshore Boulevard,  and, c) to allow for comments from the public to show their support of this initiative. She copied every member of Council as well as the top levels of the city hall staff and included Wild Birds Unlimited, the Toronto Ornithological Club, the Hamilton Parrot Club and the media.

The last of the cottages that were on leased land to be demolished meeting its end with the back hoe. The Beachway Park residents will fight for the next few years to ensure that not one more house in the park get torn down.

The Post took up the story and gave it significant coverage reporting that Henshell said she had no problem with “changing the Craven property into a park – he had no problem changing my property into a park”.  Craven is reported to have said he has no intentions to sell and was reluctant to comment further but did say that: “We understand and know exactly what’s really happening here.”

The Mayor is reported to have said the “proposal” caught him off guard

Somewhere along the way people at city hall, who we assume are all high school graduates, forgot the work of Johnathon Swift and what satire is.

The Beachway community is showing a some spunk. The proposal was a satire with a touch of sarcasm that drew comments showing that some people at city hall don’t have a sense of humour.  Not so funny is that there are people at the General Manager and Director level who are taking this seriously and have spent time wondering how to respond.

The Beachway community is showing a level of spunk that Councillor Craven specifically never did understand and Council as a whole was just not in touch with.  The Beachway, for the majority of this Council,  is not a real place, not something they can see as a place that could become a unique part of the city with a charm and mystery all its own.  Burlington is still clinging to the ticky tacky bungalows and the monster homes plus all the every so correct communities we have now. 

Councillor Lancaster, who as a young girl was not allowed to spend any of her time in the Beachway – it was not the kind of place a proper young woman spent time in – did however have it right when she said all the residents have to do is just not sell their homes and if they have to sell find a buyer who wants to live in a community like the Beachway. 

This is one of those receive and file, send an acknowledging letter and perhaps pass it along to Councillor Craven for comment.

Additional articles on the Beachway and its council member:

Election material available.


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Province decides to add another floor to the hospital along with more beds and operating rooms.

November 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The way Mayor Goldring saw it – Burlington is basically getting a new hospital.  The provincial government announced today that funding increases will amount to “hundreds of millions” more for the rebuild of the hospital

Health Minister Deb Matthews was in Burlington to announce major changes to Joseph Brant Hospital’s expansion project, but wouldn’t talk money or exactly how much the province will contribute to help fund those changes.  What was a $312 million project is being re-scoped – up.

While the real number of beds being added along with the number of operating rooms wasn’t clear Mayor Goldring reported that beds were going to be 172 up from the previously planned 92 and nine new operating rooms.

Architects rendering of what the re-build of the Joseph Brant Hospital will look like. The angle is looking east into the city. The structure has had an additional floor added.

$60 million of that $312 is coming directly out of the taxpayers’ pockets – it shows up on your tax bill with another $60 million being raised by the hospital foundation that has done rather well in the recent past.

Matthews and hospital officials said they can’t be specific about how much more money the province is giving the hospital expansion because it would tip the hands of the construction companies bidding for the work.  That’s a bit of a stretch – the major contractors are a lot closer to the people who determine those numbers than the taxpayers whose pockets the money comes out of

The hospital announced the plan’s major upgrades mean adding another storey to what was originally a six-storey newly constructed tower, adding beds although it was unclear how many are additional rather than revamped or what the hospital called “renovated” beds. The changes will also mean the emergency department and three floors of current surgical beds will move to the tower now.

Matthews and hospital officials said the changes essentially allow parts of the project that were to consist of renovations to now be built brand new, such as in the case of the emergency department.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital which will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

“As planning got underway, the hospital realized it would get better value to build new rather than renovate,” Matthews said. The new emergency department for example, will be state of the art in meeting the needs of the community”, she said.

“The emergency department is the public face of the hospital…It’s better value (to build new) and it will better meet the needs of the community,” she added.

Jo Brant CEO Eric Vandewal said the main benefit of a new emergency department will be reduced waiting times — the same benefit mentioned when emergency renovations were talked of as part of this major expansion, and again in 2001 during a $12.6 million expansion and enhancement of the emergency department and cancer clinic.  Clearly saying that wait times will be reduced is what the public wants to hear.

Joseph  Brant Hospital CEO Eric Vandewal

Vandewal, who has an earned reputation as a hospital builder, did very good work in Mississauga before he came to Burlington.  One could almost imagine the arguments he took to Queen’s Park telling them he could deliver much better value if he was to build new rather than upgrade an older facility.

The hospital will hold a “topping off” event very early in December to mark the completion of the first phase of the Halton McMaster  Family Medicine  Centre structure, which is to have medical facilities on the ground floor with three parking levels above.  The structure is being built to allow for an additional level of parking at a later date.


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Election battle for ward 1 gets an early starts – nominations aren’t open yet but election material is out there.

November 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Nominations haven’t even opened for the 2014 municipal election and there are buttons opposing the re-election of the Ward1  Councillor, Rick Craven.

Local opposition in Aldershot to the re-election of Co Councillor Rick Craven roars out of the gate before nominations are filed.

The people behind the buttons shown below haven’t stepped forward yet to say who they are but the proof we got of a button that is about to be manufactured is pretty clear.

Candidates can file their names with the city Clerk the first day of the New Year.

The document we got doesn’t say how big the manufacturing run is going to be.

Is this considered election material?  Does the group putting these into production have to file documents with the city?

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City tells its parking story – uses a very funny, cheeky video. Parking to be free for all of December then every Saturday as well.

November 25. 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  A city hall with a sense of humour?  We didn’t see that when a resident sent in a proposal that would turn a Council member’s home into a park – but that’s another story.

For the month of December you will be able to park here free and then for every Saturday during the year.  Sound of Music week as well?

Downtown Burlington has had a problem with parking and decided to change the channel and get people to focus on the downtown experience and forget about the parking.

To get people into this new way of looking at the parking issue the city decided there would be no cost to park downtown for the month of December and once we are into the New Year there will be no cost for parking downtown  on Saturdays.  That’s good news – the trick now was to get the news out.

Someone out there came up with the idea of doing a short video – it is a hoot. See for yourself.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward got herself all worked up when she said: “You asked for it; we delivered: Park FREE in downtown Burlington  on street and in city lots/parking garage for the month of December, and every Saturday starting in January. Free parking starts one day early this year, Sat. Nov. 30, in time for Black Friday and Shop the Neighbourhood events.”

Let’s see if it makes a difference.  Will free parking get you downtown?  Will the merchants along Brant Street decorate their stores this year – few did last year – and make it an experience.  The price for the parking is right – now let’s see what the Burlington Downtown Business Association does with this new tool to draw the good people of Burlington into the downtown core.

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A wellcome that will not be forgotten – how quickly will the error be corrected? Has it been noticed yet?

November 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Oh dear, that was embarrassing. Brand new sign, new buildings, one of which is a high school and the wording on the sign has a mistake.  Ouch!

The sign installation wasn’t completed until just after 3:00 am the day of the public opening. How long will it take for someone to spot the error? We missed it – a reader brought the mistake to our attention.

That will get fixed; perhaps someone will be told to sit in the corner and write out the word welcome 1000 times.

The credit for this “expose” belongs to Allan Harrington, who by the way. Has on more than one occasion pointed out some of our spelling mistakes.  Don’t you just hate people like that?

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Two dozen greeters welcome more than 1000 people to the Alton community complex on a cold Saturday morning.

November 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  This Saturday the place was wide open.  The complex of buildings in the Alton community: a high school, recreation centre and library that are stitched together into one long structure, held their public opening and even though we saw the first bit of snow in the afternoon the crowds were more than decent in size and the kids were all over the place – along with their parents, some of whom looked lost at times.

Two dozen people donned custom T-shorts to greet the more than 1000 people who walked into the complex on opening day for the community.

The politicians were out in full force. Chris Haber, the man who paid big bucks to have his name put on the building had settled into a table and looked like he was going to set up shop.

New signage makes the complex official.

Kids of all ages were in the gyms, the library was filled with people and there were a couple of dozen people on hand to show you around and ask questions.

These three were prepared to give volley ball lessons to anyone who walked into their gym.

Three young girls wanted to teach me how to play volley ball – they were pretty good players themselves – it was that kind of day – everyone just had the run of the place.

Snappy signage was in place – we were told that some of it got the finishing touches at 3:00 am in the morning – but there were in place with flags snapping away in the brisk breeze.

People were setting in nicely and in time the complex could and should become more of a community centre.  It badly needs a coffee shop and having a small Post Office in the building would be a real convenience for the community.

The complex is the responsibility of the three organizations: Board of Education, Library Board and the city’s parks and recreation department – which means there has to be an oversight committee in there somewhere.

Alton has a very rich diversity that results in a cultural mix some schools don’t have.

It would be interesting to see how much that group is prepared to stretch the envelope and make the location a place where all kinds of services are available.  Could some of the Regional Services be available in the complex.  The police currently have a presence in the building and there are a few commercial services in the building.

There are computers sprinkled throughout the library with units equipped for young users.

One would expect the ward Councillor to begin holding community meetings in the space.  Could the theatre be made available to drama groups that need a place to practice and perform?  Great place for a film club!  The objective should be to use the complex as a safe place for students to grow and play as well as a place for their parents to be at in the evenings.

On Saturday a coffee shop would have been a welcome addition.

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Cheryl Miles Goldring to show her Newfoundland work at the Seaton Gallery on Spring Garden Road, December 1st.

November 24, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It is fast becoming the focal point – the place to see new and interesting art in this city.  There was a time when the Village Square held that title but ever since Teresa Seaton opened up her stained glass gallery on Spring Garden Road, a stone’s throw from the RBG,  the centre of gravity in the art world has worked its way west.

Seaton was smart enough to create a large wall that she calls the guest space where she displays the works of local artists who have new work that needs to be displayed, seen and sold.

Seaton was one of the founders of the Art in Action Studio Tour that just completed its 11th  successful season.  The event is a must include if the arts in this city mean anything to you.  If you do decide to take in the Studio Tour – always the first weekend in November  – allow a full day.

Cheryl Miles Goldring’s “Still Waiting” to be shown at the Fine Art Stained Glass studio on Spring Garden Road

Next Sunday, December 1st,  Seaton will be featuring the work of Cheryl Miles Goldring, an artist that we have watched grow over the past couple of years.  Last summer she and her husband spent some time in Newfoundland.  Cheryl is married to THAT Goldring, the one that wears the Bling around his neck at city hall.  We thought the Mayor would be calling on different Mayors on the Rock but there was apparently time for Cheryl to spend some time at different docks in that province. 

An earlier Goldring piece shown during the Studio Tour.

This is the first time we have seen any of her work that was seaside/water based – it will be interesting to see more of her work and appreciate the progress.

The showing takes place December 1st;   1pm – 4pm

The Santa Claus parade, which is now being called the Christmas Parade, begins at 2:00 pm on Sunday, so the Mayor is going to have to hot foot it across town if he is going to be in that event – and he will be in that event; 2014 is an election year.

The evening view from the Gallery on Spring Garden Road.

The Seaton Fine Arts Gallery was the location of the Art in Action launch of the Studio Tour this year.  With the exceptional glass art work at the ED Roy gallery right next door to the Seaton gallery, there is clearly a little community growing out there.

The Goldring work is well worth your time.

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Police report on drug raid released one week after the event. Why the delay?

November 22, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  A police raid that took place on the November 21, 2013 was reported immediately by the police.  A raid that took place on November 15th 2013, where members of the Integrated Drug, Gun & Gang Unit, along with the 3 District Strategic Support Team, executed 2 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants in Burlington, was not publicly reported until today.  Why the delay?

District 3 police have been busy. Drug raids on the 15th  and the 21st of November seized almost $100,000 in cash and a lot of drugs.

Probably because the two are linked together.  As a result of the November 15th raid, police seized:

9 ounces of cocaine,

$75,000 cash,

8 grams of marihuana, and

3 grams of psilocybin (commonly known as magic mushrooms).

The estimated street value of the drugs seized is $14,500.

Hardeep KALAR (41 years of age) of Burlington was charged with Trafficking a Controlled Substance (cocaine) and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (cocaine). 

 Keith CLARK (27 years of age) of Burlington was charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (cocaine), and two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marihuana and Psilocybin).

 Carly PATRY (23 years of age) of Burlington was charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (cocaine), and two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marihuana and Psilocybin).

Stjepan BROZIC (44 years of age) of Freelton was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (cocaine).

 Hardeep KALAR was held for bail and later released on November 19th 2013 on a Recognizance of Bail, while the three other parties were released on Promises to Appear on November 16th 2013.

It will be interesting to see how this case and the raids conducted yesterday work their way through the criminal courts.


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Cops collar cache of drugs and more cash than most of us get to spend in a year. Drug business must be good.

November 22, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Ouch – that hurt.

Whenever there is an opportunity to tell, or better yet, show the public what the police are doing to protect us – there is a photo-op.  Shown is what the police were able to seize during a recent drug bust.  If you look through pat drug/crime stories you can probably trace which lower level dealer was nabbed, squeezed a bit and gave up the name of the supplier.  Tough business to have any friends in.

On November 21st 2013, members of The Integrated Drug, Gun & Gang Unit executed two Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants in Burlington yesterday and scooped up $105,000 in cash and the following:

3.75 ounces of cocaine,

500 OxyContin tablets,

2 grams of crystal methamphetamine,

7 grams of marihuana, and

0.5 grams powder MDMA (ecstasy).

Andrew HATTON (33 years of age) was charged with:

1. Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (cocaine)

2. Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (oxycodone)

3. Possession of a controlled substance (marihuana)

4. Possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine)

5. Possession of proceeds of crime

 Mr. Hatton was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

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Team Burlington: What has it done? What can it do? Not one of the city’s strongest operations

November 22, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Has a Convention ever come to Burlington?  Even a small one?  Doesn’t look as if anyone in the corporate or association world has ever seen Burlington as a destination.  Wonder why?

Part of the reason is the city didn’t really have anything in the way of facilities for a small convention.  All Burlington has is geography – properly promoted one can go a long way with how you look.  Other than water falling over the edge of a cliff – what else has Niagara Falls got going for it?

Team Burlington: Flying the flag for the Mother Corporation – or just blowing smoke?

Team Burlington made its annual report to the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee last week – my colleague at the media table slipped me a note while the presenter droned on – “terrible” she has scribbled on the agenda.  Dismal was my thought.

Team Burlington was formed in 2001, one of the former Mayor Rob McIssaac’s ideas that hasn’t quite jelled – it needs a hard look.    That isn’t likely to happen for some time – the administration is going to have their hands re-formatting the way the city works.

The idea in 2001 was to “bring the major city economic development organizations together to form a dynamic team that is focused on the creation of a progressive and vibrant city with a unique Approach to business development services. Partners include: the Aldershot Business Community, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Hydro, City of Burlington and Tourism Burlington.” Only a public relations flack could write a sentence like that.

The city is a bit conflicted with what it wants.  The chilli Half Marathon brings 5000+ people into the city – downtown is certainly vibrant when they are there, but there is a bunch of people who live along Lakeshore Road who want the city to have the marathon run somewhere else.  That Marathon is one of the best things the city has going for it.  Many people don’t realize that Burlington is seen amongst the running crowd as the place with some of the best races in the province.

In 2012 Team Burlington lists the Mayor’s One Dream as an achievement.  Not something most people would put on their resume.  That event was poorly thought through, was a bit of a disaster from an operational point of view and after spending $50,000 there is yet to be anything in the way of ideas from the two-day event.

The Team Burlington Report says the event – that event did no such thing.“solidified the direction of the city’s Strategic Plan and reinforced the work.  Poppycock

“...solidified the direction of the city’s Strategic Plan and reinforced the work.\"  Poppycock With the Economic Development Corporation getting a face lift as well as a couple of major organ transplants the purpose of Team Burlington is no longer clear. The city will learn about that when the BEDC format is unveiled.  Production at BEDC has been pathetic and it is going to take at least six months to stabilize that place.

Everyone in this city talks about the vibrant, progressive downtown – I’ve never managed to see it.  The city does have a small Tourism office that is filled with brochures telling you everything you ever wanted to know about what is going on in town and the people behind the counters smile and are helpful.

After sitting through the Team Burlington presentation – “uninspired” is an understatement.

There was no information – just a recitation of what are close to mickey mouse events.  They had a Christmas gathering – really.  There was one very good event that pulled together hospitality related groups to tie them into the War of 1812 celebrations.  The presenters were as good as it gets, there was a lot of very useful information.  But there was a problem – just one person from the hospitality sector showed up.  The woman who put on the event for Tourism Burlington was a “fire cracker”: focused, motivated, and innovative – but she left town, a decision she made.

 The report has statements like this:

“Team Burlington continues to evolve and be recognized as a leading edge and unique business development model, both within our City boundaries and beyond. The Team plans to continue this mandate to support and increase economic development in the City.”  Corporate happy talk at its best.

Why do the people who sign off on these reports let things like this get out to the public? 

Not sure where the credit for the new signage that is popping up all over town should go -good looking stuff – the information needed is all up there.  There are some who quibble with the design.

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Moral chains and civic leadership; do they matter and do they exist?

November 22, 2013


By Pepper Parr


BURLINGTON, ON.  There is on the wall of my office a quote from Edmund Burke that goes:

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion

to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites.

Those words stuck with me – for we read again and again of the nationally and internationally prominent men who live lives that are public, who seem to feel that the way they treat the women in their lives is of no concern to the rest of us.

I take the view that the way men treat the woman in their lives is probably the most critical indicator of their personality and character – and it is character that matters most in the men that lead us.  Think of a major political leader and it is easy to find one that has some salacious gossip attached to their relationships with women they are not married to.  Call me old-fashioned, a prude if you like – but the way you treat the people nearest to you is an indication of how you will treat those not as near.

I think Edmund Burke had it right.  I remember the images of that young American President standing before the Brandenburg  Gates in Berlin and declaring:  Ich bin ein Berliner”, while a massive crowd roared their approval and we saw how he identified with their hopes and their longings.

Marilyn Monro singing Happy Birthday to President John Kennedy in 1962

And then there is that image of that same President sitting in a ballroom looking smug while the sex queen of the time sang Happy Birthday, while his wife must have been at home cringing with shame.

The current American President doesn’t have so much as a whiff of the philanderer about him; Canada’s Lester Pearson slept in his own bed with his wife every night.

To have the charisma that the public loves to see, to be dashing and  glamorous certainly does things for the ego – but if the ego needs that level of massaging,  then politics and public service should perhaps not be your first choice.

Have we grown as a society in North America where the morals of the men who lead us are part of the equation we use to evaluate their worth to society?

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Taylor talks to constituents – will run again – event almost like family gathering where local gossip gets shared.

November 21, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Each Council member has their own style and their unique relationship with the people who elect them to office.  They bring their personalities and their working style to what they do.  They all hold meeting in their wards and hope that someone will show up.

Councillor Meed Ward has a following; she comes close to filling a room with groups of people around tables working on issues of concern to them.

Others have difficulty attracting groups of more than five.  Councillor Dennison insists on holding his meetings at his place of business where there is a room with a fireplace and bowls of popcorn on the table

John Taylor pulled together a group of about 25 people at the Conservation Halton offices on Britannia Road Wednesday evening.  It was almost like a family gathering but then he has been representing them for more than 20 years.  We erroneously reported that the meeting was to have both Councillors Taylor and Lancaster taking part.  We regret that error and regret that there wasn’t an opportunity to hear what each Council member had to say about progress with the legal differences on the airpark and what their individual thinking was on the role an airpark plays in the development of north Burlington.

Ward 3 residents use the occasion to hear what John has to say and at the same time get caught up with their neighbours.  Rural life doesn’t have those places where people congregate naturally – given that a local Post Office is a thing of the past.  There probably isn’t a coffee shop north of Side road #1

It was interesting to observe how people from across the rural part of the city look to Taylor for comment.  People who are naturally in Ward 6, Lancaster territory, look to Taylor for comment and direction.

John Taylor, in the red shirt, always an attentive listener, sits with Councillor Lancaster on his left and General manager Scott Stewart on his right.

Taylor is not very big on agenda, he tends to roam from subject to subject and he often gets his facts mixed up.  But his constituents like him and they trust him.  You can observe that they realize he has been at the job for a long time and that perhaps another term is stretching his capacity, but they are loyal and unless there is someone they know well – Taylor is not in trouble politically.

Because Taylor doesn’t set out an agenda questions about anything and everything pop out.  The mail boxes on the side roads, the speeding problem on Side road # 1, the Britannia traffic that zooms towards Waterdown and, of course the pier and now the Airpark.

Taylor tells his constituents that the settlement of the pier dispute will go to mediation in January – and hinted that he expects a settlement. He stated he would insist the public get all the financial details. The observation deck on the pier we have yet to pay for completely has no cap on it – Taylor thought it looked like a champagne glass and liked it that way. The deck doesn’t have a wind turbine on it either but that wasn’t Taylor’s doing.

The city will get into mediation on the pier – because it has to.  A trial cannot be held unless mediation has taken place.  All the parties involved in this – and there are five of them, have basically completed the discovery portion of the deliberations.  Everyone now knows who did what when – and they now have to think through what their individual legal strategy should be.  Burlington is not in a strong position.  Mistakes were made – not by this Council but there are members of this Council who were around when the mistakes were made.  Meed Ward, Lancaster and Sharman were not members of Council when the really dumb decisions were made.  But they were there when there was an opportunity to resolve the design problems and complete the pier for far less than it eventually cost and they were there when a settlement opportunity was turned down.

Taylor and Dennison have to take responsibility for those early decisions. They were on Council in those heady days when the province and the federal governments were handing out money faster than it could be counted.  Everyone was excited and there were ideas flying around like balloons at a New Year’s Eve party.

Then reality took the bite it usually takes when the rubber hits the road – and we begin to see where staff, especially those in the Engineering department made some major errors.

Taylor would insist that the full cost to the city be part of the minutes of settlement and that the city publish those minutes.But all those details are stories for another day.  We are now in that reckoning stage – the settling up as it were and it is going to cost.  We asked Councillor Taylor what his position would be if there was a settlement that had a gag order attached to it.

Taylor responded that if the city found itself able to resolve the problems during the mediation stage he would insist that the full cost to the city be part of the minutes of settlement and that the city publish those minutes.

 Justice Fitzpatrick, the judge that will hear the case if it goes to trial,  is pushing all the parties on this case.  He wants them into mediation in January and our information is that no one appears to be against mediation – the problems have to do with dates.  Everyone has to be in the room when the mediation takes place.  The issue seems to be one of getting all the calendars to work together rather than one of attitude and the dragging of heals.

Burlington’s city council would like this out of the way well before the civic election next October.  It is going to cost the city and the political objective is now – get it out of the way before campaigning gets serious.  Each candidate will create their own smoke screen to keep the smell away from them.  Stay tuned on this one.

Were it not for the strong delegations Vanessa Warren made to both city and Regional Council there would probably be trucks running along Appleby Line with loads of landfill from who knows where with who knows what in the fill. Warren will become a member of the Burlington Green board this evening – she will not be a candidate for the Ward 3 seat in the 2014 municipal election

Vanessa Warren, who lives over on Bell School Line, showed up and we learned that she will not be a candidate for the Ward 6 seat in 2014; part of the reason for that is there are two other possibilities for someone to run against Blair Lancaster.  One will announce sometime in December, the other is meeting with various people and sounding out her potential.

The first is working through a number of family concerns with his wife – serving as a council member means big changes in the way a family lives its life. 

The second candidate lives in the Alton community which is seen by many as key for a win in Ward 6.  Both potential candidates are focused on their being just one person who runs against Lancaster, they do not want to split the vote.  Mark Carr will not be running in Ward 6 in 2014.  With much deep unhappiness with the way city staff and council handled the Air Park matter before Warren formed her Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition, the community wants to see some accountability.  They would also very much like to see more room between Councillor Lancaster and the president of the Airpark Vince Rossi.

Taylor believes the city is in a good position on the Airpark matter however he didn’t talk much about what should happen with the Airpark long term

Taylor explained the changes that are taking place at the Economic Development Corporation where the Executive Director was asked to leave and the “good times” board of directors is being replaced with a much smaller board that will focus on bring new corporations to the city that will hire local people.  Taylor was of the view that Burlington economic development went nowhere for the last ten years while other communities “ate our lunch”.  Ron Witton, a builder, raised his voice and said – no not so – the reason no one wants to build in Burlington is because of the development charges are close to the highest in the GTA.  Taylor’s explanation for that was a little on the weak side.

Dundas is eventually going to become a six lane road; Burlington’s population is projected to reach 190, 000 + by 2013 and a lot more people are going to be using public transit.

What is interesting to observe is that while meeting as Standing committees and as a Council the level of detail one hears at the media table is quite a bit different from what one hears at a community meeting.  Part of that is because Taylor has been around for so long he has a much deeper understanding of the issues – there is something to be said for longevity.

Ownership of the Regional roads: Guelph and Appleby stretches as far south as lakeshore. City has to pay for the upkeep – and it ain’t cheap.

He explains that many of the major roads are Regional property and gave Appleby and Guelph as examples – however the ownership, and therefore the responsibility to maintain them stops at Mainway and only recently has the ownership extended to south of Fairview.  Those are major roads and they require a lot of upkeep and maintenance  – which the Region pays for.  If the ownership of those roads extended all the way down to Lakeshore there would be a considerable savings for the city but Taylor contends that there are “powers in the Burlington core that don’t want the Region messing around with those roads”.  Is Taylor talking about special interests?

The average driver stuck in traffic on Guelph Line who has to wait for two cycles of the traffic light to be able to make a left on Fairview doesn’t care a hoot who owns the road – the just want the traffic to move.  This two tier level of government makes things complex and most people know next to nothing about what the upper tier- the Region does for them, or more importantly,  to them.

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We all lost something that November afternoon in Dallas; a President, a promise and hope.

November 21, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  Where were you when JFK was shot?  Kennedy was young, handsome, rich and the closest thing the Americans ever had that could be called royalty.  With that perfectly groomed Boston accent, his speeches were poetry.  They went straight to the heart and made you want to cry and/or cheer…  “ask not what your country can do for you…” 

President Kennedy speaking the masses of people in Berlin where he made the now famous  statement: Ich Bin Ein Berliner.

Jack Kennedy was a progressive democrat, who, despite his family’s wealth, promoted America’s post-war movement for income equity through progressive taxation, a pillar of his party and its previous two president before him. 

Ich Bin Ein BerlinerHe believed in other kinds of equality as well.  He began the emerging battle for the civil rights of Afro-Americans and started the fight for medicare to protect senior Americans.  Kennedy drove the initiative to land a man on the moon; got drawn into that sad conflict in Vietnam; and nearly started WWIII.  His marital infidelity is well known and his obsession with communism blinded him from rational policy in Cuba and Vietnam, battles America would never win.   Khrushchev treated him like a kid because of his age and lack of experience, but JFK came of age in the Cuban missile crisis. 

Presidential limousine racing the hospital with a mortally wounded President.

Barely a thousand days in office, Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet, or several assassin’s, or whatever the latest conspiracy theory suggests took his life and zapped the optimism of an entire generation of Americans.   He has been called the greatest President by people of both parties, even in that partisan and divided place called America.  His call to youth was answered in the Peace Corps, and by young Americans everywhere inspired by this fresh new leader – one they could call their own.  Leadership is about vision and nobody made Americans dream bigger than Kennedy.

When Pierre Elliot Trudeau came on the scene some three and a half years after the tragedy in Dallas, we Canadians embraced our own Kennedy-like PM.  He too was a visionary, if nothing else.  Calling it the ‘Just Society’ he brought our criminal code into the modern age; enacted the Canada Health Act to secure universal care; brought the Canadian constitution home; raised our standard of living with regional economic development; protected national interests from foreign takeover; and kept Quebec in Canada by introducing bilingualism, multiculturalism, and eliminating the FLQ.

Trudeau, unlike Kennedy, lived to implement his vision.  After serving the equivalent of four US presidential terms in office Canadians had developed a pretty good impression of the man and his evolution through the Trudeau-mania and fuddle-duddle moments.

We knew him as John John, the President’s son playing in the Oval Office of the White House.

Yes there were large deficits, a contentious energy program, a partially implemented metric system and some other grievances.   But like many, I came to appreciate him even more after he had left office.  I often think about where we would be today, as a nation and a society, without his thumb print on our political history.  I wrote a book to that effect.

One day Trudeau took a walk in the snow, reflected on his record and retired.  He had accomplished much of what he had come to office to achieve.  And to his credit he continued fighting the separatists until the end.  

JFK never got the chance to implement his dreams and was unable to go peacefully into the sunset.  And whether it truly was the family curse or just coincidence and bad luck, neither did the other Kennedy’s.  In the end, Trudeau will be remembered for the things he did, Kennedy celebrated for the things he might have done.  It was fifty years ago, but sometimes it seems like only yesterday.

Ray’s column will not appear next week.  Besides being an author Rivers takes to the stage as well and will be performing in Modern Times – Almost a musical  which will be presented at The Pearl, 16 Stevens Street in Hamilton.  Thursday to Saturday: 28, 29, 30.

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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Is someone drilling for oil on the airpark property or is there more soil contaminent testing being done and if so – why?

November 20, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Just because lawyers have managed to wrap up the Airpark differences in appeals to a higher court doesn’t mean nothing is happening up there on that 100 + piece of property that has a $4.5 million mortgage on it.  Those payments have to be made month after month and given that there are no more truckloads of revenue producing landfill being dumped on what Vanessa Warren, founder of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition once described as a “toxic dump”one has to wonder how the bills are being paid.

Layout of the Airpark lands.  This is an older photograph that doesn’t clearly show the runway that runs diagonally from  lower right to upper left.

The landfill dumping was always seen as illegal by the north Burlington residents.  They wish the city had listened to them earlier.  When the city did begin listening – and it was hard to ignore Vanessa Warren and her delegations – things moved along rather briskly and the dumping stopped.

The city got itself into Court and a Judge declared that the Burlington site plan bylaw was valid and had to be adhered to which was seen as a win. The residents thought they saw some light at the end of the tunnel they have been in for the last five years.

Almost everyone expected there to be an appeal – and sure enough, the Airpark filed their appeal within 36 hours of the decision being handed down.  With the differences now mired in the legal process, which tends to move at a glacial pace, what happens on the site while the lawyers do their paper work?

At least one lawyer involved in this is fighting to retain his professional chops as a leading expert in federal airport regulations.  If the city’s arguments hold the lecturing and consulting work could well dry up and the client base will send him packing the way city council did when he first delegated there.

There is still the contaminant issue to be dealt with.  When the July 11th report from Terrapex, a respected environmental consulting and engineering firm hired by the City, submitted their report, they said 60% of the soil sample reports provided to them posed a serious threat to the environment and to the neighboring landowners who rely entirely on well water.  

MOE did not agree with the Terrapex document and said the samples analyzed met MOE standards.  Because there is not an adequate record of just where that landfill came from and what’s in it – the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) asked that some testing of the soils and water that runs off the Airpark site be done.

Back in August, the MOE informed the City that the Airpark had agreed to co-operate with them and test for off-site adverse effects (leaching) into groundwater of any contaminants that might be present within the fill dumped on their lands – and that this would be done by installing test wells around the outer perimeter of the filled locations.  Those wells were eventually drilled in late September by Airpark contractors.  

The September MOE testing was done at the periphery of the airpark  but the city is not being allowed to see the results.  MOE told the city to use a Freedom of Information request to get the data.  The city did that and we are told the request was denied. 

Something doesn’t smell right here. 

These people are not drilling for oil – it is believed they have sunk a drill to test the make up of the landfill dumped on the property in the last 18 months.

On Tuesday morning around 9 am., a large, unmarked white cargo truck rolled into the center of the south-west portion of the Airpark land, to the west of its main runway.  Some heavy equipment was unloaded and the drilling of a test well began.  One observer wondered why a professional environmental testing company wouldn’t have its name or logo on the truck.  The area being tested has landfill dumped by King Paving who did much of the work on that portion of the Airpark.

Could it be that the MOE periphery testing raised some questions and that brought about the need to test in the centre of the airpark?

No markings on the truck. Who does it belong to?

All the key players in the Airpark dispute: On the left standing city lawyer Blake Hurley, in front of him lawyer Ian Blue hired to argue the city’s case in Court.  Scott Stewart, city general manager leaning forward and talking to Roger Goulet, Ken Woodruff and Monte Dennison. In the row behind Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition founder Vanessa

No one knows yet who asked for the testing, why it is being done and who is paying for it.  With no markings on the vehicles that rolled out onto the property we don’t even know who is doing the testing.

There is a larger question that the city of Burlington and the Region have to think through and that is: what should happen to the Airpark?  If the city wins the appeal (expect a win at the Appeal level to be taken to the Supreme Court of Canada – that’s how important this issue is) and the Airpark finds that it has to adhere to at least some municipal oversight – what does the city want to see done in that part of the municipality.

Up until now Airpark president Vince Rossi has trampled all over senior city staff.  Not a smart move on Rossi’s part.  The city now needs to begin thinking what it requires in the way of site alteration on that land.  It is currently a small airport and it can remain that way for as long as Rossi can afford to pay the bills.  As a small sleepy airport it barely paid for itself.  When Rossi bought the place he had big plans for that land.  He tried putting up a communications tower, making the place a giant location for a used car auction site and then worked at closing a deal to have the place used as a helicopter pilot training school for the Chinese government.  So far he hasn’t managed to make any of the ideas actually work – such is the world of entrepreneurship.  It is not easy and for every success there are thousands of failures.

Vince Rossi, president of Burlington Executive Airpark Inc., at a meeting with members of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that took place in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of his largest runway.

There was a time when a business person could go it alone and swashbuckle  their way through almost anything – those days are gone, now you collaborate and work within a system that can be slow and sluggish.

This evening, Councillors Taylor and Lancaster will be meeting with north Burlington residents at a public meeting  where there might be an opportunity to get a sense of what they think should happen with the Airport lands.

Rossi has a pilot’s license and clearly has an affinity for aviation.  Burlington badly needs entrepreneurs who are prepared to take risks but it needs people who will work with the city to set out and achieve a common goal.  Rossi may not have the temperament to work with people in a collaborative manner.  One of the things that every business person knows, or will eventually learn the hard way, is that you cannot beat city hall.  And in Burlington city hall cannot be bought.


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Things got a little frosty during the Chilly Half Marathon delegations.

 November 19, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. The item on the Agenda was to approve the Special Events Team plans for 2013/14.    The Staff report recommended that Staff be given authority to approve  events that have taken place previously and have gotten a successful post event reports and that they be given the authority to automatically approve minor events.

There are 151 events on the calendar with attendances that range from less than 25 to more than 200,000 people. More than 635,000 people took part in events during 2012.

The creation of the Special events Team has streamlined the process with everything coming to the one committee that includes:  Parks and Recreation, Roads and Parks Maintenance, Fire, Building, Transportation, Transit, Health Department and Halton Regional Police Services. This gets everyone at the same table.  The process now has staff from Parks and Recreation and Transportation meeting and passing information along to others.  It wasn’t working.

The city came up with a collection of “process improvements” that Council has been asked to approve.  After a long and arduous meeting the Standing Committee agreed to receive and file the report which will bring it back to Council on the 25th where it should get approved.   Much needed changes were made; Kudos to staff on this one.

The following are new events scheduled for 2013/14: Ride for Betty, St. Timothy’s Run, Move – a-thon, Yoga by the Pier, Epic Ride, Spin for Limbs, Miles for Smiles, This Magic Moment Concert and the Marque d’Elegance Street Festival

There was a two-line mention in the report about the Chilly Half Marathon that has taken place in March of each year since 2009.

“Chilly Half Marathon has been questioned by a resident affected by the event. The resident who is requesting  rerouting will be delegating at the committee meeting.” That was an understatement.  Lakeshore residents turned in a petition with 150 names and had 10 people delegating to the Standing Committee – they did not want the Marathon being run along Lakeshore Road. After more than two hours of delegations and discussion they were still at it.

The race is a major event for the city.  The Esso station at the eastern end of the race losses out but the downtown core does exceptionally well.

The race “officially” starts at 10:05 which puts it smack in the middle of church time.  It is scheduled to run for 3 hours and 15 minutes. And that’s the problem for the people whose streets run into Lakeshore from the south side – they are basically land-locked for the duration of the race.  Starting the race earlier is an option – some suggested starting as early as 7:00 am and being done by 10:00 am.  That would take away from the excitement and momentum that builds up and probably cut down on the attendance.

Is there a compromise out there that will work?  Were people willing to meet with open minds?  There wasn’t much of that to be seen at the Standing Committee meeting.

When the Santa Clause parade takes place on Guelph Line and New Street a lot of people get locked in and there is nowhere near the number of complaints that the Chilly Half generates.  Why the difference?  Mostly attitude on the part of the people who are inconvenienced.  Those along New Street see the Santa Clause  parade as part of the season they take part in.  The Lakeshore people don’t see the Chilly Half Marathon as something they are a part of.

Not everyone was opposed to the event. Colin Cameron, Pastor at the Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church took the position that if you can’t beat them – then work with them.  He stands out on Lakeshore Road during the race offering Blessings and fresh fruit to the runners as they work their way back towards Brant Street – all 5000 of them.

The good pastor told of an 80-year-old parishioner who took issue with a police officer who wasn’t prepared to let her drive her car along Lakeshore Road.  When asked what she would do her response was: “Well they are going to have to catch me aren’t they?”

Pastor Cameron in his refreshingly amusing comments referred to those who take part in the marathon as member of the St. Mattress and All Sheets parish.  He talked as well about how his church coped with all the runners on Lakeshore on that Sunday in March.

Other residents objected to being locked in their homes while the marathon takes place.  Traffic from all of the side streets on the south side of Lakeshore Road have their access limited while the race takes place.  That can be very frustrating and a significant concern as was evident from several of the delegations.

Dr. Rita Moeinafar-Combden  wanted the race organizers to be more forthcoming with their for profit agenda and stop hiding behind the veil their modest donations to the hospital.

Carol and Ian Milne Smith pulled Edmund Burke into the debate with his remark that “All government …is founded on compromise and barter” and the Milne-Smith don’t see much of either.

Nick and Dianne Leblovic delegated as a tag team – she spoke first and complained that the public process has failed  and she wants city council to be responsive to public input – which if they delegations were fully understood they wanted the road opened so that caterers could get to the streets that run south of Lakeshore road.

Ms Leblovic maintained the city reneged on a commitment they made last May which was when they decided to do their own research and knock on doors and hold meetings.

They do flood the streets.

They met with the churches, they got names on a petition and while they believe it is a great event they want a change in the route.  The Leblovic research revealed that the amount donated to the hospital was far less than many people imagined and that seems to have changed a lot of minds.

Ms Leblovic argued that more than 5000 people are locked into their homes for more than four hours.  People do have limited access to Lakeshore Road while the race is being run.  Traveling along Lakeshore Road this past three months has been limited due to the new water and sewage pipes being put down. 

Ms Leblovic would like to see the race started much earlier and points out that sunrise on March 2, 2014 is 6:54 am.  Is a change in the start time an accommodation the race organizer and the city can make?  Ms Leblovic also pointed out that some consideration has to be given to “rolling openings” as well as putting caps on the number of participants.  Her list of concerns has merit: what it doesn’t have, apparently, is enough meat on the bones to attract city staff to meeting with her to bring about some changes.

Nicholas Leblovic followed his wife to the podium and presented three alternate routes that he felt had merit.  One was a loop around Mainway that would have the runners going through an industrial community; a second along the Waterfront Trail to Confederation Park in Hamilton and a third that used parts of Lakeshore Road and the North Service Road.

None compares all that favourably to the current Lakeshore route, however the Waterfront Trail route does have merit.

Mr. Leblovic wanted to see a committee created with representation from VR Pro, city staff and the Leblovic group.  Staff doesn’t want to see any such committee and VR Pro will take part only if they have to.

As we listened to the delegations it was apparent that there is some significant hardship for some people.  It was also evident that many of the Lakeshore residents just plain don’t want that race in their community and evident as well that the city isn’t going to do all that much about the complaints.

The Leblovic’s and the community they represent have a legitimate concern that is not being addressed.  Both Diane and Nicholas could see the writing on the wall and left the Standing Committee meeting before all the talking between council and staff had been completed.

Councillor Meed Ward did feel that a committee could be struck that would have staff and the Lakeshore residents meeting to iron out the problems – and there are some problems.  She couldn’t get anyone to vote with her for a committee.  Staff was happy with what they have, Kelly Arnott loves the situation and it looks as if things will not change.  There are people living south of Lakeshore Road who are being short-changed.  Will this become a political issue in the Oct 2014 election?  Think you can bet on that.

Greg Pace who organized the Moon in June event delegated as well.  He has gone along with a change staff suggested that will have his event rolled into the Sound of Music Festival.  What got Pace all kinds of brownie points was the revelation that 41% of his race revenue goes to a charity.  Pace did ask Staff to reserve the date he had last year so that he can go back to that date if things don’t work out with his race becoming part of the Sound of Music program.

The finish line

Kelley Arnott of V-Pro also delegated and did her best to answer the questions put to her. There was a lot of spin to the answers given.  Many people thought the Marathon was an event to raise funds for the hospital.  The hospital does get some money from the marathon – it was difficult to nail Arnott down on exactly how much had been given in donations and she wasn’t prepared to let anyone near the financial records of the organization but she did say she would make financial statements available to council members on a confidential basis.

What the public saw was two sides with markedly different interests.  The Lakeshore residents who resent Lakeshore Road being closed led by the Leblovic’s who deeply resent the closure.  One Council member described Diane Leblovic as a determined activist.  You can bet on her not giving up on this issue.  

One the other side there was Kelly Arnott who runs a very popular and profitable race; that is the business her company is in and they do this very well.   VR Pro appears to organize about a dozen races each year.  Their Chilly Half race is seen as the standard for the running community.  Arnott put out the figure of $3 million as the amount they have raised for charities.  What she would not say is what percentage of the revenue raised gets into the hands of the hospital.   

VR Pro pricing schedule

VR Pro earns its money from registration fees which come in at basically $75 per racer for the Chilly Half Marathon.  The number of actual racers seemed to vary.  One report had it at 5000, Arnott seemed to be saying it was 4000 and there was a projection of 6000 for the 2014 event.  Use the lowest number and multiply that by the $75 fee and you come up with a substantial $300,000 in revenue.  Yes there are expenses but the Chilly Half Marathon is one hot revenue generator for VR Pro.

Arnott said her revenue was $340,000 from the race in 2012 and that expenses came in at $300,000

The Burlington restaurants love the event.  The operator of the No Frills supermarket on Brant has no love for the event NAME says the runners park their cars in his lot and plug it up leaving no space for his regular customers.

The Esso station at the turning point for the run doesn’t like it – he closes his gas station for the day – no one can get to his station and he resent losing a day’s revenue.

City staff want the event to continue and have come to the conclusion that the current route is the best one available.  The runners love the route – it is flat and the view along the road suits them just fine.

Despite several attempts on the part of Council members to have a committee formed staff said again and again that a committee set up to guide their thinking was not needed.

Nick Leblovic has been a part of civic life for a long time. He served as the Chair of the Waterfront Access Protection and Advisory Committee/ Diane Leblovic once served as a school board trustee. In this photograph Leblovic is seen on the right.

Mayor Goldring told the meeting that he and Councillor Dennison had offered to meet with the Leblovic’s but the offer was turned down which was enough for Councillor Craven.  He took the position that the city offered to help – the offer was turned down – and that was it.  The Leblovic’s are adamant – if you don’t want to talk about a route change then there won’t be much of a conversation with them.

The Leblovic’s have an ongoing issue with public access to property.  An article in the Orangeville Citizen, a community newspaper that has been around since 1974, reported that a “property squabble can be traced to 2001, when Nicholas Leblovic, a Toronto lawyer with a summer home on Balm Beach, made the first application under the Boundaries Act to extend his property line to the water’s edge. But the Marion’s are the only ones to cordon off their property — even though any of the others could do the same, transforming the beach into barricaded corridors.”

The news article went on to say: “Thankfully, Kim Craitor, Liberal MPP for Niagara Falls, has introduced a private member’s bill, the Great Lakes Shoreline Right of Passage Act, which would guarantee the public’s ability to walk all the shorelines of the Great Lakes. It’s now awaiting committee review and surely should be approved, either as is or as a government bill with the same purpose.”

The news article concluded by saying: “As we see it, this should be a matter for our legislators, not the courts. Provincial law should reflect a clear (overwhelming?) public interest in having all the Great Lakes shoreline accessible to everyone, not just a relative handful of rich property owners.”

The Standing Committee received and filed the Staff report which one can expect to see made final at Council on the 25th.  Chilly Half Marathon will take place on Sunday March 2, 2014.

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Team Burlington: What has it done? What can it do? Not one of the city’s strongest operations.

November 18, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Has a Convention ever come to Burlington?  Even a small one?  Doesn’t look as if anyone in the corporate or association world has ever seen Burlington as a destination.  Wonder why?

Part of the reason is the city didn’t really have anything in the way of facilities for a small convention.  All Burlington has is geography – properly promoted one can go a long way with how you look.  Other than water falling over the edge of a cliff – what else has Niagara Falls got going for it?

The Delta Hotel will give the city some first class convention space that could radically change the way the city is seen by the small corporate convention community. Add the Performing Arts Centre to the portfolio and the city has a good offering. Now to put a team in place that could work with the Delta Hotel organization.. We don’t have that in place today.

Burlington now has the Performing Arts Centre and should see shovels in the ground in 2015 when construction starts on the Delta hotel that is part of the Bridgewater development on Lakeshore Road.  The Delta wanted to be open to participate in the Pan Am Games in 2015.  So there is convention potential – even if it is small.

Team Burlington made its annual report to the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee last week – my colleague at the media table slipped me a note while the presenter droned on – “terrible” she had scribbled on the agenda.  Dismal was my thought.

The Team Burlington partners include City of Burlington, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Tourism Burlington, Aldershot Village BIA, and Burlington Hydro.

Team Burlington was formed in 2001, one of the former Mayor Rob MacIsaac’s ideas that hasn’t quite jelled – it needs a hard look.    That isn’t likely to happen for some time – the administration is going to have their hands re-formatting the way the city works.  The Tourism potential is there – creating a contact point within the city and promoting the opportunity could begin – even if the city brought someone in on a part-time basis.

The idea in 2001 was to “bring the major city economic development organizations together to form a dynamic team that is focused on the creation of a progressive and vibrant city with a unique approach to business development services. Only a public relations flack could write a sentence like that.

The city is a bit conflicted with what it wants.  The Chilly Half Marathon brings 5000+ people into the city – downtown is certainly vibrant when they are there.  But there is a bunch of people who live along Lakeshore Road who want the city to have the marathon run somewhere else.  That Marathon is one of the best things the city has going for it.  Many people don’t realize that Burlington is seen amongst the running crowd as the place with some of the best races in the province.

For 2012 Team Burlington lists the Mayor’s One Dream as an achievement.  Not something most people would put on their resume.  That event was poorly thought through, was a bit of a disaster from an operational point of view and after spending $50,000 there is yet to be anything in the way of ideas from the two-day event.

The Team Burlington Report says the event “solidified the direction of the city’s Strategic Plan and reinforced the work”.  Poppycock – that event did no such thing.

With the Economic Development Corporation getting a face lift as well as a couple of major organ transplants the purpose of Team Burlington is no longer clear. The city will see some clarity when the revised BEDC format is unveiled at the April 2014 AGM.  Deliverables at BEDC has been pathetic and it is going to take at least six months to stabilize that place.

After sitting through the Team Burlington presentation – “uninspired” is an understatement.

Located in the lower levels of the municipal parking garage on Locust many of the Team Burlington members have modern offices and a decent restaurant with a sidewalk patio.

There was no information – just a recitation of what are close to mickey mouse events.  They had a Christmas gathering – really.  There was one very good event that pulled together hospitality related groups to tie them into the War of 1812 celebrations.  The presenters were as good as it gets, there was a lot of very useful information.  But there was a problem – just one person from the hospitality sector showed up.  The woman who put on the event for Tourism Burlington was a “fire cracker”: focused, motivated, and innovative – but she left town, a decision she made.

The report has statements like this:

“Team Burlington continues to evolve and be recognized as a leading edge and unique business development model, both within our City boundaries and beyond. The Team plans to continue this mandate to support and increase economic development in the City.”  Corporate happy talk at its best.

Why do the people who sign off on these reports let things like this get out to the public? 

 Not sure where the credit for the new signage that is popping up all over town goes.  Good looking stuff – the information needed is all up there.  There are some who quibble with the design.

Everyone in this city talks about the vibrant, progressive downtown – I’ve never managed to see it.  The small Tourism office is filled with brochures telling you everything you ever wanted to know about what is going on in town and the people behind the counters smile and are helpful.

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Restaurant chain proposes upscale eatery with a roof top patio for Appleby Line and New Street. Parking concerns residents.

November 18, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Is it an appropriate place for a restaurant that will have a patio on the roof of the building that is being built to handle up to 80 people?  Depends on where you live.  There will be seating for 90 people on the ground floor level.

The working name for the new restaurant is expected to be Casey’s.  it is part of the franchise chain that operates East Side Mario’s and other brands.  The Casey’s operation will start out as a corporate operation rather than a franchise.

Glen Wellings, the planning consultant representing FCHT Holdings (Ontario) Corporation, a unit of First Capital that basically owns the intersection.  They operate the mall on the north-east side as well as the smaller strip mall on the north-west side.

Architectural rendering of the proposed Casey’s restaurant at New and Appleby Line was described at a Public Meeting last week.

A restaurant can have a patio at the ground level – to create a roof top patio they need an amendment to the zoning bylaw.    The event was a Public meeting where anyone can show up to speak.  The Public meeting format gives city staff an opportunity to hear what residents feel about a proposal.  Staff then meet with the restaurant operators and return to Council with a plan and a recommendation that, ideally,  meets all the concerns that came up at the public meeting.

The planners assured everyone they have made managing and buffering the sound a significant part of the design.  Containing sound is not easy.

A number of the residents have a major concern about parking which they contend is a very tough  go as it is.  There is a martial arts school right next to the location which used to be home to the TD Bank.  Some feel that parking will not be an issue – if there isn’t space outside Casey’s – patrons will just park across the street.

After the meeting an area resident opined that the plan was to make the roof a place where smokers could drink.  The current bylaw calls for no smoking within 9 metre of a building – one has to assume that would apply to the 9 metres above the roof patio.

The developers application is for an amendment to the zoning bylaw that would permit a rooftop patio. Sound control was a concern to residents.  The architects have included barriers they believe will control the sound.

The manager of the location lives in Burlington and gave the Standing Committee every assurance he could that the parking issues were more than manageable and that sound disturbance would not be as issue.

Well – try a sulky summer evening with breezes floating in off the lake and wonder aloud where that sound is going to go.  It will be noisy; pleasantly so and acceptable to the community?   To early to tell.  Much depends on how responsible the operators of the restaurant are and the kind of clientele they attract.  If you see half a dozen motorcycles in the parking lot – you know there is a problem.

The operators of the chain have done their market research and believe there is a place for what they want to operate. These people do their homework – if they got it right the neighbourhood will have a pleasant place to get out for a meal and a drink and spend some time on that patio – assuming the place isn’t populated by smokers.

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