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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Atwood to speak at RBG evening of November 28th She will focus on her “enthralling dystopian trilogy.”

November 16, 2013

By  Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  This is what you would call a `”coup” The Different Drummer is bringing Margaret Atwood to town.  The Drummer along with, Bryan Prince Bookseller and Random House of Canada will have Atwood at  Royal Botanical Gardens on Thursday, November 28  7pm


Margaret Atwood; one of the country’s finest writers.

Ian Elliott, the guy behind the counter at the Drummer is “deeply honoured” to announce what is a  rare local appearance by an international, leading literary figure.

Atwood will discuss her work and the issues at the heart of the final volume in her enthralling dystopian trilogy, MaddAddam.

Tickets are $10.  Please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or to reserve. 


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Airpark files an appeal on the Wednesday decision that found Burlington site bylaw to be valid. The saga continues.

November 15, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The Burlington Executive Airpark has decided to appeal the decision that found the city of Burlington site modification bylaw to be valid.

One needs to look at the time line on this decision to appeal.  Justice Murray released his decision at just before 5:00 pm on Wednesday the 13th.   These things are often sent by fax and would have gone to the offices of the lawyer who argued the case.

That suggests that Vince Rossi and his legal team were up late Wednesday and then spent all of Thursday reviewing the decision and the applicable case law.

They then have to draft their documents and file them at the Court House in Milton and then have the documents served on the city, which they are reported to have done Friday afternoon.

An early photograph of the Airpark property. There are now two runways and a lot more landfill now than there was when this picture was taken. The lines indicate the extent of the holdings.

The news release announcing the decision to appeal did not come from the lawyers representing the Airpark but instead came from Tim Crawford who has been an advisor to Vince Rossi.

Vince Rossi at a community meeting held in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of one of the airport runways

The grounds for the appeal are twofold: arguing that Justice Murray erred in law and that there is a fundamental constitutional issue to be argued as well.  That pulls the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Ontario into the case.  When you involve federal and provincial governments you move into a pace that is best described as glacial.  Someone is buying time.

There is a lot of Vince Rossi’s money at risk.  He owns the land, has a $4 million mortgage to service and will have to keep his development plans on hold until he has a decision.

Selling gas to small planes isn’t going to pay the bills.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, King Paving removed all their equipment from the site.  King was the company that hauled the bulk of the landfill onto the Airpark site. 

The relationship between King Paving, Tim Crawford and Vince Rossi is a complex one.  Both King Paving and Crawford have offices in the same building  in Burlington.  Crawford is in the aircraft insurance business and while he claims that he does not have a financial interest in the Airpark and does not earn fees from the company, many believe there is a benefit in there for him somewhere.

When the Airpark issue was heard at the Region, Crawford who expected to do a 10 minute delegation, was kept hopping with some close to hostile questions from the Regional Councillors. They kept him on his feet for close to an hour and gave him quite the grilling

Vince Rossi is a relationship builder.  He seeks out people with power and influence and manages to get them to do some of his bidding.  When he needed to send a fax to the Minister of Finance the document went from the offices of Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga.  When a fax from the Mayor of Mississauga arrives – attention is paid to it.

Lisa Raitt, second from the right, Tim Crawford centre behind the flowers and Vince Rossi in the red sweater. The flowers suggest a Christmas event.

Rossi has developed  a better than working relationship with Lisa Raitt, the MP for Halton – good business.  That relationship is such that Raitt shows up at some of the Airpark social events.

Rossi has done the same thing with Burlington`s Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster. She has held at least two ward corn roasts at the Airpark

Relationships are good to have but they will never beat a positive cash flow which many suspect is something the Burlington Executive Airpark does not have.

The saga continues.


Rossi meets with residents; his lawyer fails to browbeat city council.

Airpark landfill damage cannot be seen from Appleby Line.

City gets details on landfill damage – not a pretty picture.

City thinks about road access suspensions to airpark property.

It all came to the attention of city council back in may.

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Tough getting heard at city hall when the mics dont work. Learning how to manage agendas is also a skill that needs to be acquired.

November 15, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON It was not their finest hour.

It was the longest Standing Committee meeting this Council has held and it significantly disrupted people who came to city hall because they were told they were going to be heard.

For reasons that are beyond most people, the Clerk’s office decided to hold a public meeting and then put three items that were contentious on the Standing Committee agenda that followed and then they tacked on a Special Meeting of Council.  It was to be a disaster from the start.

We look good but inside we come across as a bit of a hick town.

Councillor Taylor remarked that it was a very bad example of agenda management.  Part of the reason for the mess was that Council cut short their Development and Infrastructure schedule on Remembrance Day so the Mayor could spend the evening at the Legion; something that is a Burlington tradition.  Time well spent,  but that decision backed up things and resulted with the mess Council faced during  the five-hour meeting  – straight with no breaks – while they listened to ten delegations on the VR-Pro Half Chili marathon that takes over Lakeshore Road one day every year.

Delegations from Diane and Nicholas Leblovic set the theme – they felt there are other places the Marathon,  that draws 5,000 people with projections to rise to 6,000, could be held and they had a petition with 150 names on it supporting a move to another location.  The Leblovic’s went further and drew out three routes that might be considered.  They just want the event off Lakeshore Road so that they don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of not being able to get out of the streets they live on and onto Lakeshore Road.

Before the Leblovic’s got their kick at the cat Colin Cameron, pastor at Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church gave his take on it all which was if you can’t beat them – then join them. Pastor Cameron gave one of the funnier delegations and for a time had them laughing in their seats as he explained how he stands in the middle of Lakeshore Road giving blessings and handing out fresh fruit to runners as they make the return portion of the marathon.

With the Public Meeting at the front of the agenda for the evening, and then the Half Chili Marathon discussions, there wasn’t time for the delegation BurlingtonGreen wanted to make nor was their time for those who wanted to delegate on the Ghent Avenue development that is due to be heard by the Ontario Municipal Board at a hearing November 26th.

Allison Thornton finally got to the podium well past the time that Council normally adjourns and announced that she could not give her delegation because the batteries on her iPad had died. “I have been sitting here for more than three hours waiting to speak”, she said.

As the evening progressed – and progress is loosely used here – tempers began to flare.  Council Taylor had a number of concerns that he felt were not being addressed.  Taylor, who tends at times to be emotional, doesn’t  function all that well at meetings that run late – and this was a meeting that was running very late.

Chaired by Councillor Sharman – it was a meeting that just didn’t work. 

City Clerk Angela Morgan

The running of council meetings is the responsibility of the Clerk’s Office.  The General Manger overseeing this meeting was Kim Phillips who earlier in her career was once the City Clerk.  The city has staff with the experience to know how to run a meeting – for some reason none of that experience was brought to bear on the Council that met Wednesday the 13th of November.

To add to the dysfunction of the meeting, everyone had to use a microphone system that no longer works.  Many of the speakers could not be heard.  The microphone at the podium is not the right size and people who are tall have to lean into the podium and bend down to be heard while those who are short have to stand on their tip toes to get close enough to the microphone.

Kelly Arnott isn’t the tallest person to begin with. She had to stand on her tip toes throughout her delegation in order to be able to reach the microphone

Kelly Arnott of VR Pro, the people who run the Chili Half Marathon , was on her toes much of her delegation.

It gets worse.  When people at the horseshoe want to speak they have to press a button on their microphones.  When they do that a red light flicks on.  All too often speakers forget to press the button when they have finished speaking which prevents anyone else from opening up their microphone.  Committee Clerks have a small sign that they hold up and wave to the person at the horse show who has left their microphone on.

It is both funny and embarrassing.  Professional people who attend Burlington Standing Committee meetings to make delegations must leave city hall wondering why we provide facilities that are just so lousy.  This is not a new problem; the microphones have never worked properly in the three years I have covered this council.

It is a totally unacceptable situation.  The Clerk surely has the budget and the authority to have the right kind of equipment installed.

Will Council members be issued megaphones until the speaker system in the Council Chamber is fixed.

Or are we going to have a situation where everyone at the horseshoe is given a megaphone and delegations get given one as well so that everyone can hear each other.

In Burlington we sing the O’Canada at the beginning of each Council meeting.  A recording is played, everyone stands and the anthem is sung.

Well they try,  Few voices are raised, often because the recoding that is used is a rendition people are not comfortable with or the equipment that plays the recording  doesn’t work and the sound comes out as wobbly.  Hard to describe – but just such poor form.  To add insult to injury the Council meetings are broadcast live on Cogeco cable television.  We come across looking like such a bunch of hicks.

With the meeting over people headed home.  The city planner lives in St. Catharines, the city solicitor lives in Niagara – both had a bit of a drive – and both would be at their desks on time the next day.  We human beings do not function at our best with hours like this.  Agenda management needs a re-think.

The city is planning on reducing the number of Standing Committees from the current three to two – Budget and Corporate is apparently to be merged with Community Services – which will mean even longer agendas.  Does that mean even more dysfunction?  Or does the city want to get out of public meetings and shove everything onto the internet?

Stand By says the city motto – for how long one might ask?

The Clerk needs to read the Municipal Act to assure herself that she has the authority to do something then she has to read the riot act to the people at city hall who have let this situation arise and continue to take place.

Failing that – watch for a tender asking someone to supply the city with a couple of dozen megaphones – something with the corporate crest on it perhaps.  The city motto is Stand By.

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With a round 1 win, city has to think about what should be done with airpark. Rossi now has to listen – city has to have something to say.

November 15, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  So – what’s next with the air park?  The city won – the airpark people can appeal – they’ve got 30 days plus a couple of jiggle days to decide what they want to do.  The final date for an appeal is December 18.   The two lawyers representing the Airpark will be going over the decision with a fine tooth comb looking for grounds to appeal – assuming their client can come up with what it is going to cost to file an appeal.

Meanwhile the city will pull together its team – that will include Ian Blue, the lawyer the city hired to argue the case, and the internal staff that have worked this file.

The city bylaw is pretty specific –

An applicant for a Permit must submit a Control Plan as part of its application which must contain, inter alia, a map showing the location of the site, the site boundaries and the number of factors, the current and proposed use of the site, location of lakes, streams, wetlands, channels, ditches and other watercourses and other bodies of water on the site, the location of the predominant soil types, the existing site topography at a contour level not to exceed 0.5 m, the proposed final elevations of the site, the location and dimensions of temporary soil, or silt stockpiles and provisions maintaining site control measures during construction.

And if the decision stands this is what the Air Park is going to have to comply with.

This Regional government map shows they knew what the plans were – but they didn’t do anything – instead bought the Vince Rossi argument that the airpark was federally regulated.

The challenge is going to be for the city to find a way for the Airpark to comply.  City General Manager Scott Stewart explains the Airpark will have to hire a consultant and put forward a proposal on how they think they can comply with the bylaw.  Expect to see a lot of back and forth on this one.  Vince Rossi has never given an inch in his previous dealings with the city.

The relationship Rossi established with the Ward Councillor Blair Lancaster, which bothered the people whose property was being harmed environmentally and de-valued financially, is not going to get Rossi out of this one.  There is one resident who has probably lost 50% of the value of her property now that there are 30 foot hills either side of her lot.

Many felt that Lancaster, was far too close to Vince Rossi.  They felt her sitting beside him at a community meeting was a dumb decision and when she was spotted walking out of the court house with Rossi some wondered if any of the confidential information Lancaster is given as a Council member was working its way to Rossi.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster held some of her ward meetings at the Airpark. Area residents didn’t fully appreciate in 2011 and 2012 how tight she was with Vince Rossi.

Lancaster had spent a few minutes with Ian Blue, the city’s lawyer and Scott Stewart, general manager for Development and Infrastructure and the point man on this file, after the Judge completed the hearing.  Lancaster then walked from the Court house to her car with Rossi.  The political optics were terrible – one would expect the Council member to be mindful of her position.

The north Burlington residents have been meeting with senior city staff at regular Saturday morning get togethers at a coffee shop and have been kept in the loop.  One hopes that the city will have at least some of that Saturday morning group at the table as they work out how to get the Air Park to comply with the bylaw.

The city expects Rossi to comply with the bylaw using some of the money he made from landfill dumping fees – problem is much of that money doesn’t show up on the Airpark’s financial statements.  So where is that money – and we are not talking chump change here.

During the hearing before Justice Murray,  Ian Blue managed to slip in the fact that the $2 million plus per year, earned by the Air Park in 2011 and 2012 and a smaller sum in 2013 did not appear on the company’s financial statements.  Many want to know where that money went.

The public does know that there is something in the order of $4 million in mortgages on the Airpark property – hard to understand how that debt is going to be serviced with no more dumping fees coming in.  Might the TD Bank end up foreclosing on the property and offering t sell it to the city who might operate the place as a municipal airport?

Stranger things have happened.  Jeff Fielding, city manager, has council convinced to let him come up with business cases for what he calls Enterprise Corporations.  A municipal; airport could be just another enterprise.

Assuming the court case is not appealed the city has some major thinking to do.  First how to fix the damage that was done and then to decide just what it wants to do in terms of how it grows north Burlington.  It is a development no go zone, designated as agricultural but doesn’t really support an agricultural industry.  There are a number equine operations up there, places where you can pick your own berries and pumpkins and quite a bit of hay and soy bean farming.

The mess the city got itself in with the Airpark development was because there was no one paying any attention.  The residents were telling anyone who would listen that there was a massive landfill operation going on up there and when people at the Region, city hall and the Conservation Authority made telephone calls they were told that the Airpark came under federal jurisdiction and for a time everyone let it go at that.

Will this mountain of landfill ever get taken out?

It wasn’t until Vanessa Warren formed an organization and went public at both the Regional and city levels that we saw some action on the part of the city.  They sent people up and took a look around; the Mayor visited several of the properties and left stunned by what he saw and is reported to have been on the phone to the city manager as he drove out of one property saying he was appalled at what was being done.

The city, to its credit, grabbed this one by the horns and moved quickly and with more certainty and confidence than was ever seen under the term of the previous city manager.  When Glenn Grenier, a lawyer representing the Air Park, delegated to city council the city manager advised the Mayor on three occasions during the meeting to send the man packing.  Fielding, who is a man you do not want to cross, exchanged words with Grenier in the Council Chamber foyer later.  That should have been signal enough for the thickest of mindsets to figure out they had a fight on their hands.  But Vince Rossi has never indicated that he took listening very seriously.

Right now he is reading and re-reading Justice Murray’s decision and telling his lawyers to find a hole in the document; give him something to crawl through.

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Judge rules that city has the right to enforce its bylaw at the airpark: now what? Does it all get taken apart?

November 14, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. We now have more detail on the decision Justice Murray handed down this morning on the dispute between the city and the Burlington Executive Airpark.

The Airpark had taken the position they were a federally regulation operation and did not have to comply with local bylaws and regulations. They argued that the federal government was who they had to listen to.

Vince Rossi, president of the Airpark had great plans.  He was going to turn a sleepy little rural airport with a grass runway into a thriving regional airport.  To do that he needed to dump tonnes of landfill on the property.  An outline of the Airpark is shown above.

The city argued that they didn’t want to intrude on the running of an airport but they did believe they had the right and more importantly the responsibility to ensure that property was protected.

In his conclusion Justice Murray ruled that the “application of the City of Burlington is allowed” which means Burlington is entitled to a declaration that Burlington’s by-law 6-2003 is valid and binding upon Burlington Airpark Inc. in respect to its landfill activities at the airpark.

The City, wrote Justice Murray “has requested an order requiring the respondent to comply with the by-law forthwith. This court has determined that the by-law is valid and binding on Burlington Airpark Inc. The issue of enforcement is properly left to the municipal authorities.

Justice Murray said the City of Burlington by-law was designed to regulate the use of landfill for the protection of the environment and for the safety, health and welfare of municipal residents. It was not enacted for the purpose of regulating federal undertakings and therefore the Burlington by­ law does not impair the core of the federal power.

This Appleby Line resident wonders if the Court decision will mean this pile of earth will be hauled away. Or does the decision mean she has a claim against someone for the damage done to the value of her property/

The Judge’s decision set out the questions brought to him. He said: “There has been an ongoing dispute between the owners of Airpark and Burlington with respect to on-going fill operations maintained by Airpark. The owners of Airpark have consistently taken the position that its fill operation was not subject to review or regulation by Burlington because the airport is subject only to federal jurisdiction and regulation. Much debate has taken place since 2008 and has related to, inter alia whether the fill being used by the airport is clean. Although Airpark has made efforts to persuade Burlington that fill it is using on its premises is clean and presents no risk to neighbouring properties, the owners of Airpark have taken the position that as a matter of law, Burlington has no jurisdiction to regulate its fill operations.

“The issue came to a head in the spring of 2013 when Burlington started to receive significant complaints about the continuing fill operation at the aerodrome including complaints related to grading, drainage, noise, dust, traffic safety and possible effects of the fill on groundwater relied upon by neighbouring residents for drinking water.

“Burlington had a number of concerns including: the amount of fill deposited on the airport  premises, whether the airport property is being used for a commercial landfill business unrelated to the airport, and the adverse drainage effects from the imposition of significant gradient and slope changes on the airport property that have been created by the deposit of fill. Fill samples provided by Airpark to Burlington have reinforced concerns that fill being dumped on the premises may result in contamination by pollutants of area groundwater.

“On May 3, 2013, Burlington issued an order to Airpark to comply with the by-law by obtaining a permit for the ongoing fill operation at the airport. Violation notices were subsequently issued notifying that Airpark was in breach of the order to comply and in violation of the by-law. Owners of the airport refused to cease accepting fill on its premises and commenced its own application to prohibit the city from enforcing its by-laws against it. In sum, Burlington indicated its intention to enforce its by-law and Airpark indicated that it will not comply. The result of this stand-off is the two applications before the court.

An application by Burlington for an injunction to restrain the delivery of fill to the airport lands was settled by Airpark agreeing to suspend all fill deliveries pending the outcome of these applications.

The fence at the edge of this property can be seen at the bottom of the picture – there is 32 feet of earth that got put there without permission from the city. What happens to that earth now?

The Burlington bylaw was pretty clear: An applicant for a Permit must submit a Control Plan as part of its application which must contain, inter alia, a map showing the location of the site, the site boundaries and the number of factors, the current and proposed use of the site, location of lakes, streams, wetlands, channels, ditches and other watercourses and other bodies of water on the site, the location of the predominant soil types, the existing site topography at a contour level not to exceed 0.5 m, the proposed final elevations of the site, the location and dimensions of temporary soil, or silt stockpiles and provisions maintaining site control measures during construction.

Vince Rossi at a meeting with north Burlington residents. He took everything the resident had to say under advisement. Justice John Murray told Rossi that he had to apply with the city’s bylaw. Now what?

With the Judge’s decision in hand, Burlington can now take steps to bring the site into compliance with the bylaw – and that is going to be a huge stretch. Some of the residents will want those 30 foot plus high hills of landfill taken down. Who will pay for that? Does the Airpark have the money to do that work?

The decision is a positive one for the city – now what they do with that decision and how they bring the Airpark property into compliance with the bylaw will be interesting to watch.

Scott Stewart, the city General Manager handling this file said: “Staff will be meeting with our legal counsel to determine our next steps, including how this decision might be used in respect of the city’s other regulatory powers, to deal with the situation at the Airpark”.








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City wins Airpark court case: details to follow.

November 14, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  The city was right.  Justice John Murray thought about it and wrote a decision that ruled city’s site alteration bylaw applies which means the Burlington Executive Airpark has to follow the rules like everyone else.

Earlier this week King Paving removed the equipment it had on the Burlington Executive Airpark site and said they were not going to be doing any more work for the airpark people.  King Paving was the company that trucked in the tonnes of fill that resulted in massive changes to the geography of the airpark.

The question now is – will the Airpark appeal?  Will the private aircraft pilots who were funding a large part of the court case continue to put up the money?

And, more importantly what will happen to the development of the Airpark.  Those who have land abutting the airpark are experiencing significant flooding.  Suing Vince Rossi, president of the Airpark would be worse than throwing the money down a well.

The task now is – how does the city go about forcing the Airpark to comply.

It was a court case the city, and the Region, even though they didn’t put up a dime to help out with the costs, had to win if they were to have any hope of running their city.

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It was about the men and women who signed up, particularly those that did not return. Lest We Forget

November 3, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  At the end of WWII Canada had the third largest navy in the world, the fourth largest air force and the largest volunteer army ever fielded.  Since that time we have participated in over 200 international military operations though, with the exception of Korea and Afghanistan, these were largely peacekeeping or international policing exercises.

The only nation which has ever invaded Canada was the USA and they are unlikely to ever do that again since we beat them in 1814.  Besides, if they did invade what would we do?  Even during the 50‘s cold war Canada was never threatened, except perhaps in our minds. 

National War Memorial – Ottawa

So in the late sixties, the Canadian government swallowed a reality pill and changed the role of our military from fighting to peacekeeping.  We downsized our war machine, unified the three branches of the armed services and focused on what was most important – finding the path to peace.  Hey, and even with a smaller and presumably less effective fighting machine nobody invaded us.

However our current PM is a big promoter of the military, in fact, the biggest we’ve had since the second world war.  He has plowed a tonne of money into military hardware such that Canada is now the 13th or 14th biggest arms spender in the world and the 6th among NATO members.  Our military budget rose 42% over the ten years ending 2008, he’s changed the names of the air and naval forces as if to restore the good old glory days, and he has his eye on some fancy fighter jets and other toys.

This past week we celebrated Remembrance Day.  Always a solemn day, this year our veterans had another reason to be sad.  You see the Conservatives introduced the Veterans Charter in 2006, under which a lump sum cash payment has replaced life-long after-service care for disabled vets.  It may have sounded like a good idea at the time but the reality has bitten hard.  Since the Charter was enacted our vets have been increasingly concerned that the lump sum will be inadequate to cover all the costs relating to their conditions as they age.  This is especially true for the younger returned soldiers. 

Nobody makes a greater sacrifice for the nation than our men and women who put their lives in harm’s way for us – principally our soldiers, police and firefighters.  When they are injured in the line of duty we owe them.  It is something to dedicate a day of remembrance with music, wreaths and parades.  But it is something else to do the right thing by these heroes and make sure we have got their backs covered, now when they need us most.   Canada has been spending a lot of money on military hardware lately, let us not forget our obligations to those who have put their lives ahead of ours. 

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.


Canada’s armed forces

13th biggest military spender

Veteran’s Charter    Does the Veteran’s charter need a change?


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Why does all the talk talk about the pier court case get done behind closed doors all the time? Because they don’t want YOU to know.

November 13, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We got asked to leave – again.  Council, meeting as a Standing Committee, was going to take a break for a fast lunch and then re-convene to hear what city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol had to tell them about the latest in the Brant Street Pier saga.

Happy campers? Part of the legal team representing the city in their battle with Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.,  and AECOM

The lawyers who do the heavy lifting for the city were waiting patiently in the Council foyer to update Council on how things were going.  The lawyers are still in the Discovery process where we understand that the information being “discovered” is not all that good for the city’s case against Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. (HSS), the contractor that decided to give up on the job when he believed the plans he was given would not work and AECOM, the company that was managing the project for the city.

The company that did the design of the pier Totten Sims Hubicki  (TSH), was a private entity when they got the job to do the design work but they were bought out by AECOM during the construction of the pier.  That purchase apparently didn’t raise eyebrows at the time.

This court case has been going on since March of 2011 and the city is believed to have spent a significant amount of money going after the people they feel damaged the city.

The pier design that seems to be the cause of most of the problems, was approved in 2003, after several changes.  The city then selected Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. as the General Contractor ion August of 2006.

The pier opened to great fanfare – oddly many of the political types who got the idea off the ground didn’t attend.  Most had good reasons.

It opened to much fanfare in June of this year.

While the lawyers were in court doing battle the city re-tendered the project and brought in a firm that was strong in western Canada to complete the job.  The pier opened successfully  in June and has proven to be a very popular place.  The people paying for the pier would like to have gotten better value and the original contractor who is being sued by the city and also counter suing the city would like to get paid for the work he has done.  There is a couple of million dollars in invoices that have yet to be paid.

The legal costs mount and the Mayor has promised to tell all – once the court case has been settled.  Council has gone into closed session three times in the last 60 days which suggests something is going on and it may not be going the way the city had thought when they originally decided to take legal action.

There is much more to this story.  The suffering tax payers in this province might find themselves facing a provincial election in the spring and a municipal election in the fall with all the details of a significant law suit snuck in between those two events.

The pier was an issue in the 2010 election and might be an even bigger issue in the 2014 election.


They promised to tell you everything – even hired spin doctors.

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Burlington Woman Faces an Attempt Murder Charge after victim found stabbed in Lakeshore apartment.

 November 13, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Regional police are continuing their investigation of what they are calling an attempted murder at an apartment building in the east end of the city at 5220 Lakeshore Road.

A 9-1-1 call came in from a young girl at 8:35 pm Tuesday.

Police have charged a resident of this apartment complex with attempted murder; weapon is believed to have been a knife.

Halton Police attended an apartment at 5220 Lakeshore Road, Burlington in response to a 9-1-1 call from a young girl. When police arrived they located the caller in a common hallway and found a teenaged girl suffering from stab wounds in a nearby apartment.  She was transported to an area hospital for medical intervention and remains under observation.

 A 32-year-old woman, who is known to the victim, was taken into custody at the scene and will be charged with Attempted Murder. 

A police presence at the scene will be maintained throughout the day as detectives continue their investigation into this incident.

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting ‘Tip201’ with your message to 274637(crimes). 

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What do you want taxes to pay for? Everything? Can’t happen. City manager proposing big changes.

November 12, 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was a report  requesting approval to explore new service delivery models and if it gets the approval the city manager is asking for – it will change drastically the way the city is run.

If we don’t change the way we run the city – what we have today is just not sustainable.

City manager Jeff Fielding: About to put his stamp on the way the city has to be run.

The report comes directly from city manager Jeff Fielding’s desk and is the first look we get of his longer term thinking.  It is a strong report, it takes the city in a direction it has not been before.

 Now Fielding has to debate his ideas with a Council that has never seen anything like this before and there are several members who will have difficulty grasping what Fielding wants to do.

 His mission is to identify and report back on opportunities that will support the sustainability and quality of directly delivered services.

 Fielding believes he can get this done in a month. He already knows what he wants to do and has the team that will get it done during the next two years already lined up.

 City Council has not seen what Fielding is putting before them.  The first step of the long term plan took place All Hallows Eve when the Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation was given his walking papers.

 The Economic Development Corporation will hold its AGM in April – expect it to dissolved and become a city department.

 Look for the creation of what Fielding calls Enterprise Corporations – free standing organizations that will probably not report to any of the Standing Committees.

Developers have done a great job with condo creation along the Lakeshore Road. The city has not managed to find a way to get the developers to put some of the economic lands into production.

There are five of the things on the “thinking board”.

Economic Development Corporation: This corporation would oversee strategic investment and to potentially hold strategic land assets.BEDC is currently in the process of developing this concept.

Real Estate Asset Management Corporation: This corporation would control civic facility assets to increase asset value and

potentially create a revenue stream (dividend) from increased asset value.The City’s Real Estate Office and Corporate Strategic Initiatives have taken the lead in developing this concept.

Service Based Corporation: This corporation, in partnership with Burlington Electric Services Inc. (BESI) (which is managed under the Burlington Hydro Board), would serve as an in sourced business to operate a select group of services currently managed in-house by each of the parties.

The initial services considered (storm water management, street lighting, tree trimming, right of way access, etc.) and would involve minimal risk to the taxpayers while representing an opportunity to establish and/or enhance existing common or shared services.  What this translates into is: should street lighting be a tax supported service? Could the city and hydro create an organization that handles all tree trimming.  These are significant changes.

Cultural Enterprises Corporation will not be advanced at this point but you can see where the city is going. This corporation would manage culturally – focused revenue generating businesses.This concept aligns with the theme of the Cultural Master Plan.

The final Enterprise Corporation would focus on energy and would establish and manage the City’s revenue generating energy service delivery model.

For each concept, a comprehensive business case , inclusive of a legal and decision-making framework , will be developed in order to-identify and assess the benefits, costs and risks as well as determine the recommended course of action. Each concept will have a revenue generation and/or cost saving focus, and will only engage in more traditional municipal service functions when it is deemed to be advantageous by Council.

Enterprise Corporations, like other operating models, have inherent advantages and disadvantages. For example, an arm’s-length organization has the ability to act quickly and adjust to market pressures, but on its own, may not be as sensitive to social and/or political issues. Conversely, the City’s current model, inclusive of public engagement, has been successful in addressing wider community issues, but can result in slower decision making.

The lesson learned on the building of the pier was the need for a tight working relationship between the builder, the project manager and city hall.  If the public ever gets to see just how terrible the relationship was with the project managers they will demand better staffing in the Engineering department.  When a second contractor was given the job the city had some top notch people doing their jobs.

There is no perfect service delivery mechanism, so it is important to investigate these concepts in order to identify the operating model that offers the “best fit”. What will be vital, when public spending is limited, is a clear understanding of the City’s objectives within a wider social-economic context.

“The evaluation of which service delivery vehicle might best achieve the City’s identified objectives will include an analysis of whether the service is best delivered in-house only, by a combination of in-house resources and a special purpose vehicle (ex. municipal service board) or by an independent development corporation.”

This is heady stuff.  What doesn’t appear evident is this: Where is the public input in all this?  And why, politically, are ideas like this coming forward when we are less than a year out from a municipal election?

Where is the concept of Community Engagement in all this.  We do have an engagement Charter – it’s on a shelf somewhere in city hall.

Burlingtonians will show up for public meetings and take an active part in any discussion – but they have to be given background briefings and decent opportunity to study and prepare.

Fielding doesn’t talk much about public involvement – but he does explain how he will marshal the staff he has and assign them to this task.

 Each concept will be investigated in accordance with the following principles:

1.Alignment with the City’s strategic plan and objectives.

2. Preservation of services that are core to the municipality and its citizens.

3. Transparency with respect to the approach, assumptions and risk considerations.

4. Accountability to Council, citizens and identified interested parties.

5. Positive social or environmental impact, or at minimum, socially or Environmentally neutral.

6. Return on investment will be measured by several metrics, with a primary focus on enhanced service delivery and long-term sustainability.

7. Adaptable and flexible to expeditiously take advantage of emergent opportunities.

8. Risk tolerance will be viewed in the context of its position as a subsidiary of the municipality.

9. Legal authority and framework for establishing the service delivery vehicle and its relationship with the municipal council.

10. Conflict of interest considerations.

In order to provide consistency with decision-making and support,a staff resource will be reassigned.  This reassignment will be

managed by utilizing a vacant FTE.

To provide context, many private sector organizations have small strategic staff groups that focus on identifying and fostering Innovative growth opportunities; some are referred to as mergers and acquisitions while others may go under the banner of sustainable development.  Patterning a small (temporary staff) group on this model would allow the City to coordinate service delivery and corporate services in a new and innovative way.

Fielding wants 18 to 24 months to figure it all out - how many of this Council will be around to read the results?Given the depth and breadth of the analysis required, the investigation stage is estimated to take between 18-24 months; depending on staff availability and resourcing.

All this is going to cost money – however this time Fielding does not have to go to council members with hat in hand.  Burlington Hydro is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city and each year it takes its surplus – call them profits – and pays the city a dividend which gets tucked into one of the reserve accounts and used to lower the tax rate.  Last year the dividend was $750,000 but it didn’t get put into a fund that would reduce taxes – it was set aside as a sort of piggy bank for the project Fielding is taking to Council on Tuesday.

There is more to this than just some fiddling with the way services are delivered.  City hall staff are currently working through a list they call the portfolio – what does the city do for the taxpayers?

Staff and Council members went through six days of Strategic Plan development in 2011. None of the issues set out in Fielding s report came up in the Strat Plan discussions. does the city have the bench strength it needs on both Council and the staff side to pull off what Fielding says we have to do>

It is a bold, new approach to civic administration.  Fielding isn’t taking the city through this exercise because he thinks it’s a nice idea.  He has come to the conclusion that we must look at the cost of what we deliver and find less expensive ways to do what we do.

Thus those Enterprise Corporations. 

One of the ongoing problems Burlington has had is the quality of its relationships with other levels of government and agencies. Fielding maintains Burlington’s approach to service delivery and economic growth will require support from various governmental agencies and officials and local businesses. A dedicated resource in this area has the potential to drive Burlington’s priorities forward by leveraging the relationships with several levels of government and local business. The role of an Inter-Governmental Affairs Officer has the potential to secure support, thereby establishing our platform for growth, and is recommended for consideration. Many thought the Economic Development Executive Director would be doing this job.  That didn’t happen.

Staff is in the early stages of investigating opportunities through the potential formation of a targeted enterprise corporation. The intended purpose of the corporation(s) would be to undertake business opportunities that will generate new sustainable revenues and/or cost savings for the City in order to offset the municipal tax levy.

Notice the consistent use of the words “new sustainable revenues” and “cost savings”?  Fielding realizes that the tax base we have isn’t going to cover the costs.  He will do what he can to cut costs but Fielding doesn’t look like a budget slasher.  Council probably wouldn’t let him cut all that deeply anyway – they do need to get re-elected.

Fielding doesn’t look like a budget slasher.  Council probably wouldn’t let him cut all that deeply anyway – they do need to get re-elected.He has already explained to Council that the Industrial Commercial sector is not bringing in what it should be bringing in, in terms of tax revenue.  Part of the reason for that is the terrible performance of the economic Development Corporation.  Burlington has some serious catching up to do – and we are competing with every other municipality out there for those companies that set up shop and create jobs.

Add to that the difficulty the city has had with several of the developers with very large lands holdings that are zoned “economic” The property owners would much rather put housing on that land.  They’ve not been able to convince the city to let them do that – so they do nothing.  And that is a big “ouch” for all of us.

Buried in all this is a very significant change in customer service.  You saw it mentioned in the remuneration report on Council member salaries.  There is the suggestion that Council members might not really need the six admin assistants that are in place now – the thinking is that better, more focused customer service at the counters and bigger use of the internet and creating a totally different delivery of information with the e-Gov stuff the city is working on will solve all the problems.

That is pie in the sky bureaucratic thinking.  Keeping people who are in touch with constituents and their problems at the right hand of every Council member is much better public service.  Watch for the battle that takes place on this one.

Fielding has produced a fine piece of work.  Council now has to debate the merits and then it has to bring the public onside.  Nothing will happen before the end of the year and come 2014  members of Council move into election mode.

With the decisions the city manager wants Council to make and the direction he feels the city has to go and all the changes that will entail – there is a need for strong public debate.


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18-30 and looking for work? Wallace sponsors a panel to guide job seekers. New Street Library on the 14th

November 11, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  MP Mike Wallace will be hosting a seminar for young adults aged 18-30 on Thursday, Nov. 14 from 7-9 p.m. at the Burlington Central Library, 2331 New St.

Employment Options for Young Adults will feature four guest panelists representing the financial, health care, manufacturing and food sectors  will talk about accessing the job market in specific industries and learn about current hiring trends and what they can do to get the competitive edge and stand out from other applicants.

Burlington MP Mike Wallace – flipping burgers at a Chamber of Commerce event.

The Region recently held a Job Fair that attracted  800 skilled and motivated job seekers who met  with 43 employers from across Halton.  Halton Region’s Economic Development Strategy has been successful in attracting new business to Halton but those companies don’t seem to be choosing Burlington as their home base.

The  unemployment rate for the Region in the second quarter of 2013 remained historically low at 4 per cent, markedly lower that the region’s five year average unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent and significantly lower than the provincial rate of 7.5 per cent.

There seems to be a data gap in there somewhere – unemployment at 4% with 800 people showing up at a job fair?

Several of the courses given at the Centre for Skills Development & Training are fully booked months in advance – the students usually know where they are going to be working before they graduate.

Wallace get is right when he says:  “Employment is integral to a healthy economy.”  While job creation has traditionally been seen as a local and provincial responsibility the federal government has come up with a plan that would cost share the training of new people in new jobs.  The provinces are suggesting the federal government turn those funds over to the provinces and let them design programs that meet the specific needs of each province.

At least they are talking about training people.  With technology surrounding everything we do – and that technology changes almost every 90 days – keeping people fully trained and productive as opposed to just employed is a prime concern.

Co-host for the seminar is the Centre for Skills Development & Training.

For information or to register, call 905-639-5757 or email


Training classes:

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With Council member pay scale on the table – listen for the howls. The good ones are worth every dime we give them.

November 11, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Early in 2012 city council decided they could no longer make fools of themselves when it came to accepting pay raises that had already been voted upon.  After deferring the actual accepting of pay raises more than once and then bickering over whether or not they should pay for the parking spots they get right outside city hall they threw the problem over to a Committee that would come back with a set of recommendations.  And by, did this committee ever come back with a solid set of recommendations.  A couple of the people on that committee might serve the city rather well were they to become council members.

The Committee made up of Fay Booker (Chair), Robert Bisson, David Tait, David Gore, Sheila White a representative from the city’s bankers and Diana Tuszynski who also sits on the Theatre Burlington Board.

Collectively they did a fine job.  They met six times during the five months they took to prepare their report and went beyond just setting the compensation for members of Council.  They suggest that the city Customer Service Team to develop a plan to educate the public on how best to deal with the City to resolve issues through the appropriate staff prior to contacting the office of the Mayor and Council.  Many tax payers will be surprised to learn that there even is a Customer Service Team.

We now know what a Committee of respected citizens think these people should be paid next year. How many of them will be around to collect those pay cheques?

The Committee wants to maintain the compensation for Councillors at $53,095 per year and the Mayor at $121,676 per year and adjust annually on April 1 by a percentage equal to the average annual change in the all Ontario consumer price index (CPI) for the twelve month period October to September with the provision that the increase is to have the following banding:

Mayor Goldring: Is there an event he won’t attend? He doesn’t have to get out to everything – but he usually does.

Any increase cannot be greater than the increase determined for budget purposes for non-union staff compensation;

No increase can be granted in the event the Ontario CPI amount is less than 1%;

Any increase cannot exceed 65% of the calculated Ontario CPI percentage;

When no increase is taken in a year, the amount cannot be carried over and aggregated in future years, that is, no carry-over of forfeited increases from any year to another.  

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through. Needs a hug badly.

This is a well thought out approach to paying the people who make the decisions.  It is fair, should the CPI rise significantly in any one year the would not see their pay rise at the same rate – they would be limited to just 65% of that increase.

Burlington Council members are also members of the Halton Regional Council.  They are paid a salary as Regional Council members that was $45,827.  and an expense allowance of $5,130 per term.

Meed Ward: She drives them all bananas and talks too much but she asks the questions and genuinely wants to see things changed. Not a member of the old boys club.

Each Council member has an administrative assistant, which the committee says should continue until at least 2017, when perhaps the new customer service process might lessen the need for those assistants.  Don’t expect that recommendation to go very far.  We have a couple of council members who couldn’t do their jobs without their assistants.

There is a need for one additional staff member to serve the Council members and that is a qualified research person.  The administrative assistants are clerical in nature.  Most of them do exceptionally good work but they are not trained researchers.  Municipal government is now very complex and the public cannot expect the people they elect to office to know everything.  Add a researcher to the staff compliment.

John Taylor; Dean of this city Council. Has announced his intention to run – why so early? Does he want to scare off any competition? Real competition might be good for him.

The parking perk stays as does the expense allowance of $32,000 for the Mayor and $9000 for each council member.  They cannot carry this allowance forward from year to year and they are being asked to show what they spent those expense dollars on.  No mention of miscellaneous being an unacceptable category.

The committee wants the current level of pension and benefits for Mayor and Council maintained and disclosed and described on the City’s website.

Dennison, on the left, explaining the budget to a resident. will Dennison be back at council next term? Not if the people in Roseland decide who is going to represent Ward 4 next term.

The Committee wants the Burlington Hydro Board to change the appointment of the Mayor to the Hydro Board and have that appointment rotated each term; and ask Hydro to provide no compensation to members of Council appointed and make a similar request to any other board that provides compensation to Council members appointed by Burlington City Council.

The Mayor was getting a fee for every board meeting he attended as well as a fee for committees he attended; double dipping at its worst and something the Mayor should have been ashamed of – the least he could have done was to give the money to some charity if he had to take a fee or just not cash the cheque.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster – both first term members. Will they both be returned?

If compensation must be made then the payment should be made to the City of Burlington and added to the general revenues.

The City Clerk is asked to draft a Code of Conduct for members of Council which addresses, donations, fundraising, sponsorship, entertainment and the acceptance of gifts by members of Council as well a s other standards clauses included in Codes across the Province. The Code of Conduct for members of Council should not be less stringent than the Code of Conduct established for City of Burlington staff.

The Committee suggested that Council may, if it wished, adjust the calculated increase within the banding to a lesser amount than that determined while meeting the other provisions.

They should pull that one.  Given the rather foolish behavior on the part of this Council when they last talked about what they are to be paid – it is a mistake to let them have any say. 

A committee of respected citizens have come in with a fine report.  Adopt it as it is and add the final recommendation: that the Executive Director of Human Resources presents information on the compensation.

There is another re[port that this Committee might be asked to provide and that is a review of the size of the current city Council and a restructuring of the existing Standing Committee structure and a through review of the procedural bylaw that sets out how meetings are to be conducted.

This Council is too small and every Council member does not have to sit at the Region.  Burlington has seven seats on the Regional Council, which has a total of 21 members.  Burlington could increase the size of its Council to 10 and have the Mayor and six of the most senior Council members also serve at the Region.

We had three new Council members elected in 2010 and all had to get through a very steep learning curve as Council members.  To add a Regional role on top of that for an inexperienced Council member is pushing it.

Finally, get ready for the chorus of people who will stand up on their hind legs and howl at how much we pay these people for what should really be a part-time job.  It is a full-time job, these men and woman work hard.  Yes there are a couple who have other business interests; specifically Jack Dennison and Blair Lancaster.  Dennison feels he can run a major sports/health club operation and still serve his constituents as a council member.  Well, if you live in Ward 4 and want to see your Council member be prepared to see him at his Cedar Springs office – which is not professional.

It is a full time job, these men and woman work hard.  Yes there are a couple who have other business interests; specifically Jack Dennison and Blair Lancaster.When I want to see my Council member I want to see him at city hall.

It might be interesting to have each member of Council be available for evening meetings for people who have to work during the day.


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