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

By Pepper Parr

Burlington, ON.  January 4, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unlicensed dump

The background on the landfill dumping.

Water street: The issue:

City agrees to sell waterfront properties.

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

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

January 3, 2014, Burlington, ON. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ray Rivers

January 3, 2014, Burlington, on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

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

January 2, 2014, Burlington, ON. 

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Staff

Burlington, ON  December 31, 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handling of food regulations are being upgraded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regulations related to water heaters are being beefed up.

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

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

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

Add a French version of the regulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building code revision come into force,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour bus fees in Niagara Parks to be raised. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

December 30, 2013

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That puts a little bit extra in the giving column.

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

December 30, 2013

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

December 30, 2013

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

December 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We took this …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No place for the thin skinned.

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

December 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bolton: 368 customers 

Guelph: 1,639 customers 

Orangeville: 1,774 customers 

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

Brampton: 500 customers 

Halton Hills Hydro: 900 customers 

York Region (Power Stream): 1,000 customers 

Durham Region (Veridian): 1,000 customers 

Milton Hydro: less than 1,000 customers 

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

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

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

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

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

He got that part right.


Mayor leafs through his emergency Measures Manual

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

December 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You wore what you needed to keep warm.

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

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

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

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

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

There are currently 120 Burlington Hydro customers without power.

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

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

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

All of Panton Road – Friday

Breckinridge court / McNiven Court – tonight / into tomorrow morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

December 24, 2013

By Staff.

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


Great snow – most hills are open

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

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

Special Note Regarding Cancellation of Christmas Town

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

Important Trail Safety Notice

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2013

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2013

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

A hydro incident waiting to happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 24, 2013

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guelph Line south from Lowville

Cedar Springs to McNiven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Haber Recreation Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr., Burlington

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

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

The Region is kept informed  are brought in as well.

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

December 24, 2013

By Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more details:

See city updates at  or directly at the city’s Ice Storm link

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

To report fallen trees or branches call 905-333-6166 or email

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

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


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

December 23, 2013.

By Pepper Parr

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

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

Damaging but beautiful to observe in the late afternoon sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

In one email the thread read like this:

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

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

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

 Ward 2 areas affected

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

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

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

  What to do if you are without power

 If you are without power, there are several options:

 ?? Call a friend to stay with

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

At least we knew he was there.




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

December 24, 2013

By Ray Rivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this the Whitehorse Post Office?

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

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

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

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

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