City hall staff romp on Brant Street, raise $3300. of their $60,000 target for United Way.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 23, 2010  The city kicked off it’s part of the United Way

Campaign with a great romp out on Burlington Street while they enjoyed a BBQ on the plaza –

and in the process sold 450 hamburgers at $5.00 a pop to put $2250. into the pot that is holding

the money staff will raise for the 2011 United Way Campaign.  The target for 2011 is $60,000


Corporate giving is a large, large part of what the United Way needs to raise each year.  Burlington’s city hall staff show how it can be done by giving it more than the old heave ho – this year different city hall departments took turns pulling a water truck down Brant street for a stretch.  Some of the times were impressive and while many think the fireman would have made a slam dunk of this – turns out the Roads and Parks Maintenance turned in a slightly better time.  Fire Chief  Shane Mintz will be getting his people into the exercise room a little more often.

The competition came down to rivals Roads and Park Maintenance and Fire. Fire clocked in at 11.something-very-fast, and then RPM clocked in at 11.something-even-faster. It was literally 4/10 ths of a second difference. So RPM wheeled away with baked goods and bragging rights, while a smoldering crew from Fire vows to really bring on the heat next year… or some clunky thing

There were nine teams out on the street pulling the water truck – and each team put up $150. Of their own money just to be in the event.  Some might mutter that – is that all they have time to do – play games on the main street – but this isn’t game playing.  City hall staff have committed themselves to raising $65,000 in 2011.  The target for the 2010 campaign was $60,000 and they came within $500. of achieving their target.

When the final numbers are tallied, yesterday’s event will have raised approximately $3,300 dollars for an incredibly good cause. And by the time the campaign is finished Chair Tracy Burrows feels certain they will reach the  $60,000. goal

The 2010 campaign was successful in raising funds for United Way.

Employee donations:              $49,110.00 – 297 pledges

Special Events:                        $10,388.10

Grand Total:                                        $59,498.10

The 2011 campaign has set the same target as 2010 – to bring in $60,00.  This year the campaign is being led by Tracey Burrows, Chair of the employee United Way Campaign committee. Food for the Kick off BBQ event was  provided by Recreation Leisure Services Ltd. & Sysco Food Supplies, refreshments provided by Pepsi, and BBQ provided by Pat’s Party Rentals.

The campaign slogan for 2011 is – Change Starts Here.  From Poverty to possibility – Healthy People, strong communities, and all that kids can be.

There are more than 50,000 families are at risk of becoming homeless or are homeless due to limited or no income.  The United Way supports the basic needs to improve people’s emotional and physical well-being, moving them from crisis to stability, enabling them to achieve their potential.  Over 10,000 people receive professional social work services and more than 12,000 seniors have accessed United Ways programs and supports.  These services recognize and build on individual strength – the foundations required for independent, healthy living.

More than 77,000 children and youth accessed the United Ways programs allowing children and youth to engage is safe and supportive environments – overcoming barriers and build positive relationships and develop skills for life.  Last year alone over 218,000 people in our region accessed one or more of the 133 United Way funded programs.


Clerks give everyone that funny look all the time - and take best costume prize during the 2011 United Way fund raising event. Lee Oliver, lead scribe is on the right.

The campaign team for 2011 consists of: Chair: Tracey Burrows, Planning and Building, Vice-Chair: Joanne Hyde, Clerks, Kim Phillips, General Managers Office, Andrew Maas, Corporate Strategic Initiatives, Wanda Tolone, Clerks, Bryan Hermans, Finance, Lynn Williams, Human Resources, Steve Fyfe, Information Technology Services, Michelle Walsh, Legal/POA, Ashley McCallum, Engineering, Marg Lambert, Parks and Recreation, Brian Adriaans, Roads and Parks Maintenance, Louise Allard, Transit, Greg Grison, Fire, Kathy Pavlou, Building, Be Nguyen, Planning, Leah Bisutti City Manager’s Office. Other staff assisting:  Jewel McCabe, Parks and Recreation

City Hall staff have chosen the United Way as their charity of choice because they feel the work of the United Way is grounded on an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our

Community.  This is reflected in the three investment priorities of the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton:

  • From poverty to possibility
  • Healthy People, strong communities
  • All that kids can be

When you give to United Way, you are helping to support a network of health and social service agencies throughout our city. Our community agencies provide vital services to thousands of people. It is a funding source for 133 programs and services in Greater Hamilton and Burlington, delivered by 73 agencies. At work across our city every day, they understand how to meet the urgent needs of the local community. Your gift to United Way provides core funding and program support to those agencies, giving them the flexibility they need to respond effectively and ensuring that your donation gets to where it is needed most.

Eighty cents (80 percent) of every dollar committed to the 2011 United Way campaign will go directly to local community building initiatives and program supports, including what United Way uses for its community building activities.

As well, employees who choose to participate in the United Way payroll deduction program may direct their contribution through United Way to any Canadian registered charity of their choice.

United Way reduces costly and time-consuming fundraising efforts for agencies so their time can be spent helping others. The United Way raises funds far more cost efficiently than most agencies can for themselves. United Way analyzes community needs and invests for impact. When the City of Burlington chooses United Way, we are choosing to help the entire community.

This year we are again seeking support from Senior Management for the Early Bird Draw event that the committee has planned.  In past years, Directors, General Managers and the Office of the City Manager have supplied draw prizes for employees who submit their completed contribution form by a specified date.  The Early Bird Draw is a great way to entice donors to have their forms in early. It is our hope that Senior Management will be leaders when approached by department representatives.

The committee has planed the following events for 2011 with all proceeds going to the United Way.

Clothing Drive – Between October 2 and October 14, 2011 inclusive
Pizza Days – October 13, November 10, December 8, 2011Art Sale – November 17, 2011
Gift Basket Silent Auction – December 1, 2011
Early Bird Incentive Draw -TBD
Dress Down Days – last Friday of each month
Kernels Popcorn Sale –TBDRaffles – TBD

Many staff donated their service award dollars to the United Way and there are donations from  NFL Football Pool.  How do people who aren’t on the city payroll get in on that football pool?

What does it all mean?  Staff at city hall are leading and showing the private sector what can be done if you really put your shoulder to the wheel –which is what nine city hall departments did on Brant Street last Thursday afternoon.

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It was part of the soft opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre – however, nothing soft about the applause.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   September 23, 2011  And there it was, a theatre slowly filling up with people and dead ahead a rich, crimson red velour curtain.  It was kind of enchanting.  It wasn’t LaScala in Rome or the Metropolitan Opera in New York – but it was the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and it was about to hold its first public event.  Well not quite public – this was an Invitation Only event for the hundreds of people who wrote cheques that amounted to more than $11 million dollars.

The first person to ever take the stage before an audience was Denise Walker, chief fund raiser for the Centre who gracefully thanked the audience for the support that was given before there were shovels in the ground and before the city had given its consent and support for the project.

A short piece of entertainment was put on – nice and light – more of a reminder that you were in a theatre and that there was much, much more to come.

The event Thursday evening was the first of two such “Thank You Very Much” events.  The first layer of donours filled the Family Room.  Theatre management wanted a relaxed evening for the donours so split the event into two parts.  The second group will attend on Saturday and they too will appreciate the 25 foot bar on the south side of the Family Room.  This is a decent place to get a drink.

The Family Room is spacious and it was full – not packed to the walls, but you did have to work your way through groups of people.  Small tables had been set up throughout the room – they were like ‘talking stations’ you went from table to table and talked with friends.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre on the Thank You All Very Much event.

The real show gets on the road October 1st when Royal Wood will take to the stage but Thursday and Saturday were events for the people who made it happen.  Seen in the crowd were former Mayor Walter Mulkewich and Deb Tymstra, two people who were there at the beginning and involved in the fund raising.  The irony of the evening could not have been lost on Deb Tymstra who was a little more than a week away from closing the doors to Creative Burlington, an organization that was originally known as “Performing Arts”.  They were the people that tilled the soil and advocated for a performing arts centre.

There were speeches – three and all were mercifully short.  The triumvirate that currently serves as “the city Manager” Scott Stewart, Kim Phillips and Steve Zorbas were on hand.  Zorbas sits on the BPAC board and we wondered if he was on hand to pick up the rent cheque but it turns out the lease between the city and the non-profit corporation that runs the BPAC hasn’t been completed – looks like they are in there rent free.


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Youth ambassadors in place to change how students use transit. Higher gas prices doing a large part of that job.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON., September  22, 2011 – Coming to a high school near you: keen, environmentally conscious Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors prepared to wean a generation of students off the car and convince them to get on the bus.

Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors gather in a bus shelter. Front row: YAs Benoit, Shaan, Billi and Harrison. Back row, BT’s Sandra Maxwell, YA Kayla and Burlington Green advisor Kale.

“Today’s youth are sensitive to the environment and know that to preserve the planet for generations to come we need to change behaviours today,” said Donna Shepherd, director of Burlington Transit. “Our Youth Ambassadors are the keenest of the keen. They know how important reducing our carbon footprint is, and they’re ready to spread the word.”

Known as BT YAs, five young ambassadors recently attended their first orientation session at BT headquarters, and there are more to come. To date, the program has three schools signed on – M.M. Robinson High School, Aldershot High School and Robert Bateman High School – with the aim of spreading the program into the remaining Burlington high schools this fall and winter.

Teaching students that QEW traffic can be avoided? A totally different lifestyle change would be needed to make that happen – and that is what the Ambassadors are setting out to do.


The BT YAs will spend the school year organizing and running transit promotions in their schools in a peer-to-peer approach designed to give the YAs flexibility and control over their events. “We encourage them to take ownership of the program and to really throw themselves into,” said Sandra Maxwell, BT’s marketing co-coordinator. “For this to work, it really has to be students talking honestly to students. We need to keep it real.”

“A sustainable environment is a major part of Burlington’s plan for the future,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “It is encouraging to see young people picking up the sustainability banner and working hard to convince their peers to use active transportation alternatives and to think twice before relying on the car.”


One of the first BTYA events was in support of World Car-Free Day. They were out in force on September 22, asking students, teachers and parents to leave the car at home.


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Getting down to the short strokes. Candidates to square off at two events giving us a chance to see what they can do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 24, 2011  Well the candidates know there is going to be an election of October 6th and the people working with them are out there beavering away but that is just about the extent of it.

Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate is doing what many politicians do – let themselves believe what really isn’t possible.   The commitment needed to get into politics and run for office has to be so strong that at times it overcomes you and reality gets away.

There is not going to be an orange wave in Ontario and certainly not in Burlington.  What Peggy Russell will do, hopefully, is sharpen things up at the two major debates that are to take place this week.  She is a tough debater and while the people who put on the events don’t really allow true debate – they see themselves as a little too polite for the tough questions, the thrust and the parry of debate that brings out who a candidate really is and what they really think and believe.

Go back to the 1984 “I had no option” debate between John Turner and Brian Mulroney to understand how vital real debate can be.

The Chamber of Commerce cheats the community when they spurn real debate and limit the event to moderated questions and answers.  It’s part of the ‘coziness’ that is a part of Burlington.

It will however not be easy to limit Russell and her direct style.

Jane McKenna is being shepherded and supported by Keith Strong and I suspect a lot of time is being spent on coaching her and preparing her for the all candidate events.  She has to show up at these two events – there is just no getting out of that.  So far she has skipped the all candidate events.  We will see if she has a handle on the issues and has developed enough as a politician to take a seat at Queen’s Park.  If the Progressive Conservative Association had not dithered for so long in finding a replacement for Joyce Savoline and chosen McKenna a year ago – it just might have been possible to get her to the point where she could handle herself and not clutch the PC Change Book to her chest and hope that the words in the book will get her though it all.  It will be interesting to see how she does.

The PC Association has a lot of explaining to do.  Bert Radfordd sould do what he forced Rene Papin to do – which was fall on his sword and back out of the nomination race.  Time for Radfordd to find another occupation

If they lose the riding – and that is within the realm of possibility – they will have four years to rebuild.  Perhaps in that period of time Brian Heagle can convince them that his blood is truly blue.

Speaking of Heagle – he makes a very good point on his Facebook page with the following data: while “ it’s completely unscientific and not equivalent to polls or even lawn signs – the  “Likes” for each Burlington candidate’s Facebook page are close right now: Liberal=129; PC=118; NDP=114.

Once this interesting bit of analysis by Heagle is out expect the political parties to rush to those Facebook pages and flood them with “Likes” which will make the data Heagle gleaned the best we are going to get from that source.  Interesting though.

Karmel Sakran kept himself busy with two press conferences at which he huffed about the terrible things Hudak would do to the province if  he were to form a government.  Hudak shut down the one issue – hospital funding – by releasing a statement that said he would ensure the hospital was funded if he formed a government.  In the meantime the city of Burlington and the hospitals Foundation are going to have to carry the load.

Sakran is the more accomplished speaker – comes from being a lawyer.  However, Russell has put him off his stride at previous candidate events.  He will need to stay focused and on point – something he should be able to do.

It is interesting to note that the Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates are sticking pretty close to what their leaders have to say rather than saying very much about how they would advocate for Burlington.  What kind of an MPP does Sakran want to be and what kind of MPP does McKenna want to be?  It is pretty clear where Russell is coming from – she will listen to the party line but if she doesn’t like what it is – she won’t support it.  That is not to suggest Russell isn’t a team player – more to the point – she is an independent thinker.

McKenna doesn’t appear to have a clue as to what Queen’s Park is all about but she learns quickly and one can assume that if she wins, that Joyce Savoline, the retiring MPP, will be available to coach her.

Sakran understands what Queen’s Park is all about and he could, at some point, make it into the Cabinet – but a lot of that huffiness will have to go first.  As a lawyer he has more than enough friends to steer him around the place.  The procedures will come naturally to him.

What we don’t know about either McKenna or Sakran is what they are going to do for the community?  Will they toe the party line or will they be advocates for Burlington?

The most recent polls indicate that there is a very, very tight race with the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat.  That leads to talk of a minority government and we hear party leaders saying what they would and would not do if they had to team up with someone else to form a government.  When Andrea Horwath said she would talk to any party about forming a government she must have shaken her supporters to their very roots – the idea of the NDP supporting a PC party so that the Progressive Conservatives could form a government must have Walter Mulkewich, former Mayor of Burlington and head of the NDP fund raising committee,  tossing and turning in his sleep.

Turnout for the Chamber of Commerce Event and that being put on by the Canadian Federation of University Woman are the best chance this city has to see and hear the candidates.  Seats will be at a premium – and no walks ins for the Chamber event.

We are indebted to (yes it happens) Ward 2 councilor Marianne Meed Ward for the following:

Beat the rush on voting day and vote in the advance polls. Open daily, 10am-8pm now till Sept. 30. Locations in Burlington: 3230 Fairview St, Unit 115; Brant Hills Community Centre, 2255 Brant St; Fortinos, IKEA Plaza, 1059 Plains Rd. E; Good Neighbour Ministries, 5270 New St; St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1382 Ontario St.


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Bank president talks to Burlington business about diversity and inclusion – says it’s the smart thing to do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 22, 2011  When asked how many people there were at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation’s Mayors “Connect-Collaborate-Create” luncheon Laura Geisbecht, a BEDC staffer, replied – 377 – when asked how many people the room could hold she replied 377 – and I saw two city hall employees slip in a bit later so we were over what the Fire Marshal would have approved.  It was a sold out crowd – all there to hear Royal Bank president Gord Nixon talk about Diversity and why it is so important to anyone growing a business.

It was a bit of an uphill sell for the president of the most successful bank in Canada – the number of people in the room that would meet the loosest definition of “diverse” was less than ½ of 1%,  – it would have amounted to 1% if the serving staff had been included.  And that pretty much spells out the problem that Burlington faces – people described as culturally diverse just don’t play much of a role in business in Burlington.  Never have – but if this city is to succeed economically – that is going to have to change and Nixon was here to tell the business elite how and why the Royal Bank chose to embrace diversity right across the board.

He said it was certainly the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do and it is at the smart level that Nixon drilled down into the data.

The Mayor thanked the major sponsors: Burlington Hydro, which the city owns, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre – the city is their landlord and provides a decent subsidy for that organization.  Having them as sponsors for this event amounts to moving money from your left pocket to your right pocket – gives a whole new meaning to keeping it all in the family doesn’t it?

The Mayor commented  that Burlington was not as directly affected by the downturn in the economy as other Southwestern Ontario municipalities. “This resilience” he said, “is evident in the creation of 425 new jobs in the first half of this year.  This job creation is a result of 38 new and 15 existing businesses adding staff to their payroll.

The Mayor added that the city’s Strategic Plan that is now out in the community for consultation and feedback has identified  prosperity as an objective and intends to focus on attracting and growing a knowledge-based economy that provides a future for all, and is a community of choice for both employers and family.

The Mayor shared a new program, centered on knowledge-based activities that several of our community partners including – BEDC, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, DeGroote School of Business, and The Centre for Skills Development & Training – are developing in conjunction with his office. The Graduate Internship Program, to be launched in early 2012, will utilize and pool our talented local graduates to work with companies to identify projects and initiatives that will advance their business innovation and growth strategies.  Updates will be made as the program develops.

Gord Nixon, President Royal Bank of Canada - driven to make the bank diverse and inclusive.

Gord Nixon president of the Royal Bank set the context for his remarks on Diversity and Inclusion by explaining that RBC has approximately 18 million clients and 77,000 employees in over 50 countries.  The Canadian workforce is approximately 55,000 people.

We have been in business for a long time, and over the past couple of decades our business mix has diversified significantly and this strategy of diversified businesses is one of our competitive advantages.

The event was part of the Mayor’s Connect, Collaborate, Create which Nixon pointed out what Diversity and Inclusion are all about

Nixon added he is a firm believer in the power of cities to be engines of economic growth in this country.  “Research has shown that there is not one homogenous “national” or “global” economy as we often think of it – but rather a common market of local economies, including urban economies – and that strengthening these local economies is what will drive the overall economic success of our country.

He continued: “But, the process of economic development is not simple. It’s complex and multi-dimensional, and highly dependent on innovative thinkers. It requires individuals who care not only about what this region is today but what it could be tomorrow. It requires long-term vision and planning and it needs leaders from all areas of the community — business, labour, academia, social services, NGO’s and government — leaders who live here, work here and build their businesses here, and people who can actively participate in formulating a shared vision.  It requires a multi-stakeholder approach like the one you have adopted here in Burlington.”

Nixon pointed out that “one in six Canadians live in this vast region around Toronto and it is our country’s most important and our flagship in so many areas – and Burlington is an important part of that success.  This region – and Burlington — is also a model of diversity, inclusion and integration. This has been an unparalleled success in our region. It has brought vitality, culture and economic growth and RBC has benefited from all of that.”

Diversity is part of Burlington's social scene - do we ssee inclusivity in the work force, in senior management positions?

“Diversity and inclusion is something we want to get right. I say this from my perspective as CEO of RBC, certainly, but also from the perspective of a resident of southern Ontario, a community member, a taxpayer and a participant in many of the cultural and charitable activities that take place in this region.”

Nixon went on: “And so while my interests and experiences extend right across the social, economic and political fabric of this region, today I’d like to talk about why diversity matters, its central role in driving productivity, innovation and growth, and how embedding diversity in what we do at RBC is helping us achieve our potential as a company, with our clients and in our communities. And how it is helping our employees achieve their full career potential.”

“I am often asked” said Nixon, “ Why does diversity matter to business and to RBC? Simply put, it makes good business sense.  It’s the smart thing to do.

“Why do I say that?  First, talent comes in both genders and from diverse backgrounds.  Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent is essential to the success of any business.

“Reflecting the clients we serve is also a business imperative.  Let me start with newcomers.  As you know, the demographics in this country are changing and Statistics Canada projects more change will come.

“Our diverse population is both a unique strength for this region and a critical component of our economic success. The growth in visible minorities and new immigrants is dramatic; especially in our large cities.  For the greater Toronto region, visible minorities are projected to be 63% by the year 2031.  With baby boomers retiring, our workforce is shrinking.  Immigration can offset this, but our success depends on attracting skilled immigrants and ensuring they find work that utilizes their expertise, education and experience. We know it’s the right thing to do, but we’re also clear on the business potential.”

Nixon went on to point out that “some newly released numbers are troubling when it comes to relying on immigration to fuel growth.  While our region is the number one destination for immigrants settling in Canada, we have seen a 17% (17,000 people) decrease in the number of immigrants it receives over the last decade due to increased attractiveness of other Canadian regions.”

“We surpass most city regions in integrating large numbers of newcomers, but there remain significant opportunities to help immigrants realize their full potential as a key competitive advantage for the region.”

“Immigrants consistently face both higher unemployment and a greater incidence of underemployment than people Canadian born. Immigrants with a university degree have twice the unemployment rate and earn 40% less than Canadian-born people with a university degree. And, the situation is worsening – more recent cohorts of immigrants are falling further behind.

For a country that prides itself on its diversity, fairness, and our open door policy, this is a surprise. For a country whose demographics promises worker shortages in the decades ahead, this doesn’t make sense. Diversity is one of our competitive advantages.”

“A large portion of the region’s immigrants” Nixon pointed out “come from rapidly developing emerging markets. As more of the world’s economic growth shifts to those markets, immigrants will increasingly be an important asset that differentiates our region from global competitors.

Newcomers enrich our region’s human capital with their international experience, diverse language skills, access to international networks and understanding of global markets. Many developed economies are competing for the same immigrant talent and being a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion can help us better compete.  Studies have shown that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are among the most attractive places for employers precisely because of our multilingual workforces, our commitment to equal opportunity and high literacy.”

“For business leaders in this region”, said Nixon, “ this is an important means to succeed and contribute to Canada’s future as a player on the global stage. If you aren’t convinced, let me share a few more numbers with you. In 2005, RBC Economics found that if all new Canadians were fully employed at their level of education and experience, earning equal pay to someone born in Canada, personal income would increase by $13 billion a year. We are leaving economic growth – never mind fuller lives and stronger communities – on the table.”

“Like the underemployment of new immigrants” said Nixon,” the paucity of senior women is troubling.  It can prevent younger women from entering certain professions or finding role models.  A lack of diversity can also impact overall employee engagement, productivity and innovation.  It has been shown that companies with more women senior managers typically have higher total returns than those with fewer women.  Again, we are leaving economic growth on the table – never mind demonstrating a real commitment to the principles of equity and fairness in the workplace.

“Speaking as a business leader, I know that achieving gender equity is key to the success of our company and our country.  Canada cannot succeed in an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy without the full and active participation of women.  Fifty percent of Canadians are women – they obtain the majority of university degrees and influence over 80% of purchasing decisions.  Women also own or manage over 40% of all businesses in Canada.  We simply cannot afford to waste this human resource.”

“Over 60% of our 77,000 employees globally are women”, said Nixon. “ It is abundantly clear to me that it is in our best interest – you could call it “enlightened self-interest” – to create the conditions where women can excel.   This is why we say it is the smart thing to do.”

“At RBC, this means fostering our corporate values of respect and integrity.  This means creating a world where everyone is respected for who they are and what they bring to the table.  It is a fundamental tenet of a civil and just society.  A place where every woman and man can achieve their full potential.  That’s why we also say it’s the right thing to do.  At RBC, we support this objective by implementing workplace programs that enable women to build their confidence, to develop their skills and talents, and to realize their dreams.”

“Over the last 30 years or so”, said Nixon, “RBC has focused on enabling women to achieve leadership roles. Our first woman vice president was appointed in 1979.  Not a particularly great statistic.  We were already a 110-year-old company at the time.  However, today about 38% of our executives in Canada are women, 54% of managers and professionals are women, something we are proud of, but not complacent about.  The work must continue. Women bring unique and valuable perspectives to our social fabric and tangible bottom line results to our businesses.  Our society needs their contributions and the success of women is one of our country’s greatest strengths.”

I believe that corporations must see diversity as not just an add-on or a business opportunity, but a path to excellence, that embedding inclusion  in your culture will help you get the most out of the mix and that the benefits will flow when you get it right.

At RBC, we have learned that when diversity and inclusion are part of decision-making, we are better positioned to connect with our customers and provide more meaningful products and services, driving customer loyalty and an enhanced bottom line in return. Meanwhile, ensuring that each and every promising employee has an opportunity to contribute can pay off exponentially by driving innovation and growth; strengthening our workforce and enhancing our profile with potential recruits—not to mention inspiring other employees to give their best.

Diversity will increasingly be a key driver of economic growth in the future.  It is both the right thing and the smart thing to do and something that we at RBC are passionate about.


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Property damage to retail location on Fairview. Video surveillance captured images. Can you help?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 – Stupid senseless property damage from youth out on the streets at 3 am resulted on the windows of a Fairview Street retail outlet being broken.

Police have some surveillance video and are screening that looking for information that will lead to the culprits. Surveillance video depicted a group of four male youths walking by the store, when one of the males intentionally smashed the window and continued walking on. It could not be determined what was used to smash the window.

Suspect is described as male, white, 20-23 years, 6’2,” stocky build, light coloured, crew cut hair. He was wearing grey hooded sweatshirt (black and white pattern on the interior lining) and blue jeans.

Police provided the photograph shown above and would like to talk to the person in the picture.  Use Crime Stoppers to report to the police if you wish.

Police provided the photograph shown above and would like to talk to the person in the picture. Use Crime Stoppers to report to the police if you wish.

A surveillance photo of suspect was obtained from a nearby convenience store, just prior to the incident. Police would like to talk to the man in the picture.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes)





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These things happen – we mixed up a couple of names. Shame on us but could a Karmel Jackson get elected in this city ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 One needs a sense of humour in this business and one also needs people out there who read what you are saying and catch the errors.

And we made a really good one earlier today. In the lead sentence we described Karmel Sakran as Karmel Jackson. Our apologies to both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sakran, we corrected the mistake immediately. Our good friend Brian Heagle, a local lawyer who reads us more often that he reads the Ontario Business Corporations Act, brought our attention to the error and then added: “On the other hand, for those who want to see a conservative Liberal voice at Queen’s Park, that name change may work around here!”

Cam Jackson on one of the hardest days of his life – results night during the last municipal election when he lost to Rick Goldring and, worse still, to Carol D'Amelio as well.

Cam Jackson on one of the hardest days of his life – results night during the last municipal election when he lost to Rick Goldring and, worse still, to Carol D'Amelio as well.

Speaking of the former Mayor Cam Jackson, – we understand from a source that has been known to be reliable in the past about a phone call Cam Jackson got from his former boss Mike Harris. The conversation was about the rumour that Jackson was thinking about running for the Burlington seat he held for so long. THAT would have put the fly in the soup now wouldn’t it.

Our typographical error appeared in a piece we did on a press conference that Liberal Sakran held on comments Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak made about funding for the hospital. Hudak quickly saw the error of his ways and issued the following statement:

“I agree there is a definite need for hospital redevelopment in Burlington,” Hudak said. “The Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment will be a priority for a Tim Hudak government.”

So that issue has been set aside. Now if we can get a clear statement on the Mid Peninsula Highway the PC’s can sit back and relax.




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Liberal candidate gets huffy over suspicion that hospital funding by a PC government might not materialize.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate for the Burlington seat is ticked. He thinks Tim Hudak, the leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition at Queen’s Park, is equivocating on the funding for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) – and Sakran is having none of that nonsense.

Sakran has been part of the JBMH Board for more than five years. He was part of the team that hired the hospital’s current Chief Executive Officer Eric Vanderwall who has managed to wrestle the institution out of its state of shame during the C.difficile crisis. Sakran had every reason to expect to become chair of the hospital board ( a position that has significant social clout in this city) but resigned to run for public office. The bread on Sakran’s table comes from his law practice.

Sakran was so angry with the hint that a Hudak government might renege on funding for the hospital that he held a press conference to make a statement: “PC leader Tim Hudak’s refusal to guarantee the McGuinty government commitment to the $312 billion JBMH redevelopment, makes it more vital than ever that Burlington carefully consider their vote” said Sakran.

This is a picture of happier days for Burlingtonians.  Standing is Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran – part of a crowd waiting for a provincial government minister to arrive with “great” news – she never arrived,  it was said she got stuck in QEW traffic.  And so Burlingtonians are still waiting for “great” news and getting by on a politicians promise during an election.

This is a picture of happier days for Burlingtonians. Standing is Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran – part of a crowd waiting for a provincial government minister to arrive with “great” news – she never arrived, it was said she got stuck in QEW traffic. And so Burlingtonians are still waiting for “great” news and getting by on a politicians promise during an election.

Karmel, who has more than a good chance of winning the riding for the Liberals, is going to pull at every string he can lay his hands on. And hospital funding is one of the hotter local election issues. He is out at the debates and knocking on doors. He is certainly very visible and he appears to be gaining solid traction.

Speaking of the hospital Sakran said the Hudak comments are a “real disappointment for our community” He added that it is difficult to create a successful local fund raising campaign when one of the leadership candidates isn’t saying he is 100% behind funding the hospital. The local PC candidate is certainly saying the hospital will get built and paid for if she is sitting at Queen’s Park. Four of her children were born there – so she’s a fan.

Speaking of the local candidate – where has she been. She hasn’t made it to any of the all-candidate meetings. She explained that she couldn’t make one of them due to prior commitment but withdrew at the last minute from the second all candidates meeting.

There are several all candidates meetings scheduled for next week – no way she can avoid those. McKenna’s peek-a-boo campaign has worked so far. But at some point she has to come out of the bushes and let people here what she has to say without reading words from the PC Change Book.

The Liberal government has sent the hospital a letter saying that funding is now in place but the hospital won’t see any of that money for more than four years by which time there could be a different government in place.

Any construction that is going to take place down on Lakeshore will be paid for by a tax levy the city is imposing and fund raising that the hospital has committed to undertake. The city is going to put up $60 million and the hospital is going to match that dollar for dollar” But the truth of the matter is that Burlington hasn’t seen a dime from the province and won’t see a dollar until sometime in 2014. That’s a tough one to swallow.

Sakran’s close colleagues at the hospital were hoping that he would get to Queen’s Park and get something for the city. The visit from the Premier didn’t hurt but had the Premier said the province was going to match what the hospital and the city are raising – dollar for dollar – a lot of the unrest we have now wouldn’t exist.

Burlington is a seat the Tories have to hold if they are to have any hope of forming a government. If the Liberals manage to win the seat – they will form the next government.

To make their point even stronger the Premier said yesterday that: Ontario Liberals are building 18 new hospitals and are dedicated to bringing new hospitals and redevelopments to communities across Ontario. Most recently, Ontario Liberals have pledged to move forward with major projects for Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Milton District Hospital and Sudbury Regional Hospital — to name a few.





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Is Burlington – a set of unique, distinct, but isolated communities within a larger community setting?

This is the first of a regular column by Casey Cosgrove that will appear on Wednesday’s in Our Burlington.  Cosgrove, is a life long resident of Burlington who has been an active participant in community affairs.  His focus will be on community, leadership and keeping our leaders accountable for the decisions they make and advocating that the community accept its responsibility to engage with leaders.

By Casey Cosgrove

BURLINGTON, ON  September 21, 2011  –  When I agreed to write a column on community and leadership, it allowed me the rare opportunity to reflect more deeply on the concept of community and how it relates to a place that means so much to me – Burlington.

I have lived in Burlington as long as I can remember, and have watched my hometown grow into a very prosperous city in the last 45 years.  I do remember when there was very little of ‘anything’ north of Fairview Street.  My parents referred to Burlington as a ‘suburb’, but with a tone as if to say it was not its own unique place, just a bedroom community.

Some may still see it that way, but I never did.  It was seen as a  ‘nice, safe place’ to grow up away from Toronto or Hamilton, where our parents worked, mostly our fathers at that time.   It still is.  Like most kids, my daily life revolved around my family, my school, and various playgrounds in southeast Burlington.  As a kid, that was ‘my community’.

Casey Cosgrove: “I believe that we have no shortage of passionate citizens, people willing to lead, and a creative energy right here in Burlington, to bring an even stronger sense of community to everyone that lives in this city.”

40 years later, I wonder whether that view of community that I had as a child is the one that many others that live in this city default to when they think of ‘community’.

Do we, as Burlingtonians, have common, shared, elements (other than the name of the city on our mail) that bring us a strong sense of belonging to the larger community?   Looking more closely, it is as though Burlington has organically evolved into a set of unique, distinct, but isolated communities within a larger community setting.  When I speak of isolated communities, the most telling case in point is the north-south dichotomy in Burlington.

The south is more established, so you might expect an increased level of community engagement stemming from this part of the city.  Yet, efforts to engage younger families and diverse ethnic communities in the north have yet to take hold in measurable terms in Burlington.

Given that we are in the midst of an election, voter turnout is a good case in point. The ‘south’ tends to determine our political representation to a great extent, and I suspect the final voting numbers for the provincial election October 6th will bear this out again, as it has election after election here in my lifetime.

Is it simply that those ‘north of the QEW’ feel less engaged, less a part of the Burlington community, so they vote in smaller percentages?  Further complicating matters is the fact that many of our fellow Burlingtonians from the north actually vote for a Halton candidate in both the federal and provincial elections.  This fact would not only be confusing for many, but is not likely to promote a sense of belonging and engagement among those that live in these areas feel while the ‘rest of Burlington’ votes for a candidate in the Burlington riding.

When I ran in the 2006 municipal election, I had a great many people living in the ‘Orchard’ tell me they didn’t feel like they were a part of the Burlington community.  I suspect that this can and will change, but it wont do so by itself.

It is natural that every larger, growing community is made up of smaller sub-communities, that will always be so.    In our case, with a major highway running through the middle of the city, this isolation takes on a physical dimension as well.  It would be an oversimplification to choose one isolated target within the city as a way of explaining why we have had difficulty engaging all citizens in our community, but the north-south example is one few can argue with.

Perhaps the larger issue is the fact that we, as a community, have not identified and nourished those common elements that speak to all Burlingtonians, that bind us together as a larger community, both young and old, north and south, and across the many demographic realities shaping our city.

Some take great pride in what others think of us (we were ranked as the 3rd best place to reside in Canada by Moneysense magazine).  The criteria that were used to determine this ranking were prosperity, housing, lifestyle, crime, health, and weather.  We can read the statistics to see that compared to the rest of the country, Burlington is doing well in most ‘prosperity ‘ measures.  This is indeed something to feel very fortunate about.  Yet, as someone who has been doing community engagement work for many years, and grew up here, I know we can do more.

I believe that we have no shortage of passionate citizens,  people willing to lead, and a creative energy right here in Burlington, to bring an even stronger sense of community to everyone that lives in this city.  We have done quite well getting good people involved, but the much harder work and greater reward will come from engaging the unengaged in this city, not just including the same folks who always seem to step forward.


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Performing Arts Centre donours to be recognized at two seperate events. Invitation Only for very special people.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 20, 2011 The folks that put up the big bucks – and there were $11 million of those dollars put on the table – are going to be recognized and celebrated on September 22, and on September 24th. Why two dates – because there are so many donours that all of them couldn’t get a seat if everything was done on the one night.

When BPAC Executive Director Brenda Heatherington talks to you – you get every bit of her attention.  This woman focuses on everything she does – the results of that focus can now be seen on Locust Street

When BPAC Executive Director Brenda Heatherington talks to you – you get every bit of her attention. This woman focuses on everything she does – the results of that focus can now be seen on Locust Street

So it’s a two night set up with Take Your Seat and the Keys to the Future donors being recognized and feted on the Saturday and the others on the Thursday

This is a By Invitation Only event. It’s a big deal – without those donations this city would not have the Burlington Performing Arts Centre it has today.

The event takes place from 7:00 pm to 9:30 with speeches from Denise Wallace Chair of the Fund Raising Committee, Mike Wallace on behalf of the Federal government, Rick Goldring on behalf of the city, Rick Burgess speaking for the Board of Directors and Brenda Hetherington speaking for the people that run the place. Count em, five speakers, and Denise Walker who is going to front the whole thing tells me that the speeches – from five people – will not go beyond a total of 15 minutes. That will be something to hear – short, short speeches. You know they’re not going to make it.

She got called the bag lady because she made telephone calls asking people for money and she was incredibly successful at getting donours.  Thursday and Saturday she will be part of a private program – By Invitation Only that will fete and thank the very generous donours.

She got called the bag lady because she made telephone calls asking people for money and she was incredibly successful at getting donours. Thursday and Saturday she will be part of a private program – By Invitation Only that will fete and thank the very generous donours.

When asked if she had bought a new dress for the occasion Walker responded: “I haven’t had time.” But she did say there would be a drink for each donour and some special entertainment for the evening.

This is an occasion to recognize the people who put up the money to make it happen. Everyone assumes that rich people just write cheques – and they do but the not so rich people write cheques too – and all deserve recognition and the kind of applause that a grateful community can give.

The very first live performance will take place October 1st – when Royal Wood will appear on stage. Burlington will hear the man who was named iTunes Songwriter of the Year in 2010.

When it came to getting the building built – once the jabbering about the bricks was over – it was Keith Strong who put his shoulder to the wheel and made sure the place was built on time and on budget.

When it came to getting the building built – once the jabbering about the bricks was over – it was Keith Strong who put his shoulder to the wheel and made sure the place was built on time and on budget.

The City of Burlington, which actually owns the building, will celebrate The Centre’s completion with a free family event on Sunday, Oct. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring entertainment, refreshments and tours of The Centre. These are your tax dollars at work – get in and take a peek at the place.

The fences around the site are down, the Box Office is open and they are open for business with the first live performance on October 1 – Royal Wood will take to the stage.

The fences around the site are down, the Box Office is open and they are open for business with the first live performance on October 1 – Royal Wood will take to the stage.

The Performing Arts Centre is made up of three principal rooms. The Main Stage, which seats 720. The Family Room which is a combination lobby, open area and a great place to hold events that are free form. Seating can be set up in the Family Room but basically it is just a wide5,000 square foot space that has a very high ceiling and is looked out over from the second level balcony that has glass partitions that serve as a railing and give a sense of openness. You’ve got to see it to fully understand how the place is going to work. The third space is the Community Studio Theatre that is multi-purpose in terms of design and can be used for a dinner party or a small production.




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Must be more police on the drug beat – several arrests the past couple of weeks. Hamilton man faces several charges.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 20, 2011 Halton Regional Police Drug and Morality Unit have been working a drug trafficking case since last July and bagged their man yesterday.

Worked as an undercover operation the investigation into the trafficking of crack cocaine in the City of Burlington began with the purchase of 1.75 grams of crack cocaine.

On September 16th another transaction was arranged by the undercover officer. It was also completed in Burlington. After the purchase had been made the accused was arrested for these offences. A search of the accused and the vehicle he was driving resulted in the seizure of $760.00 dollars in currency, a digital scale, 4 cellular telephones, and approximately 14 grams of crack cocaine.

The street value of the drugs seized was $1100.00 Germaine Nicholson, 20 of Hamilton, was held pending a bail hearing. He was charged with two counts of trafficking in cocaine, one count of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and a third charge of possession of proceeds obtained by Crime. They really want this guy.

Investigators remind the public to utilize Crime Stoppers to report on any illegal drug, gang, or gun activity at 1 800 222 TIPS(8477).






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What have we been up to? Growing like crazy and adding contributors. Casey Cosgrove starts later this week.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2011 We will soon have a year of operation under our belts – time to bring you up to date on who reads us, how often they read us and what we are adding to the menu.

We went live last October, the 19th to be exact and in the last six months have published more than 350 stories. More than half a million pages (504,278 to be exact) have been read by the more than 27,000 people who have come to the web site. Those 27,000 people visited the web site more than 68,500 times in the last six months. The average reader looks at between 3.5 and 7.5 pages.

When the city did it’s semi-annual survey of how satisfied people were with the quality of service the city delivers they were asked where they got their information – 28% of the people who answered the survey listed Our Burlington as one of their sources of information and 25% said they get some of their information from Cogeco Cable. Just 33% said they get their information from City Talk, the newspaper the city publishes and distributes to every residence within the city.

Our Burlington was less than six months old when this survey was done.  The numbers speak for themselves.  One of the major advantages of an electronic media – or a newspaper on a web site – is that you can go in and search everything we have ever written.  Everything stays on the web site.  Ouch!, some might say.

Our Burlington was less than six months old when this survey was done. The numbers speak for themselves. One of the major advantages of an electronic media – or a newspaper on a web site – is that you can go in and search everything we have ever written. Everything stays on the web site. Ouch!, some might say.

Experience in the political trenches and a life-long Burlington resident Casey Cosgrove will bring a viewpoint with a bit of an edge.  His focus will be on community and leadership – especially making leadership accountable to the community.

Experience in the political trenches and a life-long Burlington resident Casey Cosgrove will bring a viewpoint with a bit of an edge. His focus will be on community and leadership – especially making leadership accountable to the community.

Two new regular contributors are joining our ranks this month.  Casey Cosgrove is going to write regularly on community and the leadership communities need to prosper.  His column will be Casey on Community.  Casey, who was a candidate for Ward 5 during the 2006 election and came in second – losing to current Mayor Rick Goldring by less than 500 votes.  Many are convinced that has Casey had another week of campaigning he could have beaten Goldring – who would then not have been the Ward Councillor nor gone on to defeat Cam Jackson in the 2010 election.  There are those who are grateful Casey lost.

Besides writing for Our Burlington, Casey is an avid hockey coach and is in the arena with sons Jack and Evan almost every day and on the road with them close to every second weekend.  He is currently on leave from his job as Director of the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy (CCFL).  He teaches leadership at the University of Guelph.  He is married to Bryna who also teaches business at both Seneca and Sheridan College.  The family includes daughter Kate.  All were seen in the Terry Fox run last Sunday.

The CCFL was created to build and develop financial literacy among low-income Canadians. It works with governments, businesses and communities to help people save and invest wisely.  Launched in 2008, the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy (CCFL) is a division of the national, charitable organization SEDI. The CCFL is the first of its kind in the country. It is the only Canadian centre that delivers easy-to-use money management training to low-income groups. It works through partnerships with community-based social agencies in an effort to effect positive change.

The goal is to educate Canadians to make informed decisions about their money and the financial resources available to them. To achieve this goal, the CCFL aims to combine efforts with governments, businesses and community organizations. Casey, who is frequently quoted in the national news media has been involved in improving the financial literacy of low income families for more than 15 years.  He is currently on leave from CCFL.

Everything in the Cosgrove household is family focused.  We don’t think Bryna play goalie (yet?) but everyone works for the team.  The whole family of five took part in the Terry Fox run last Sunday.

Everything in the Cosgrove household is family focused. We don’t think Bryna play goalie (yet?) but everyone works for the team. The whole family of five took part in the Terry Fox run last Sunday.

Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI), the parent organization, is a Canadian national charity which has been at the forefront of initiatives that enable people to save and invest wisely and participate in the economic mainstream. The organization’s work focuses on three areas: financial literacy, asset building and entrepreneurship. Since its founding in 1986, SEDI has helped shape significant social policies in Canada by conducting market and policy research and by acting as a knowledge broker between communities and governments.

Later in the week we will be introducing a well-known, nationally we might add, blogger who has a strong Conservative and conservative streak to him. He can be positively acidic with some of his comments. Russ Campbell will be more fully introduced later in the week.

We had an unfortunate hiccup with our service last February but we recovered and settled the differences that brought about the disruption of service.

Since then we made significant revision to the look and feel of the web site and will introduce many more in the weeks ahead.. We originally allowed for immediate comment and feedback but had to disable that feature because we were getting literally thousands of comments most of which were nonsense spam. We have figured out how to eliminate the spam and the ability to comment will be back in place by the end of the week. We look forward to whatever you have to say. We will be tweeting anyone who wants our 140 characters of comment.

For a period of time someone at City Hall put a block in place and people at Brant Street weren’t able to read us. That got lifted – we still don’t know exactly who put the block in place but it has been lifted. At some point we will get to the bottom of that.

Since our arrival the number of media covering city hall committees has increased – on occasion there are four media people at council meetings. We were the only media organization that covered all nine sessions of the Strategic Planning meeting. We are about to publish several articles on that exercise. Your city council and city hall staff learned a lot about themselves and the city they work for during the Strategic Planning Sessions. One of our early stories on the Strategic Plan is at this link..

We are not giving Education or Sports the attention they deserve nor are we adequately covering entertainment and culture effectively. Now that we know the business model we have is sustainable we can invest more into the organization and begin adding full time staff.

We think we have reduced the information deficit just a little and hope that we have entertained as well.




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President of Royal Bank is going to advise Burlington to embrace it diversity and capitalize on it. Will we hear him?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2011 – This Thursday, the Burlington Economic Development Corporation presents its fourth session of a five-part speaker series designed to connect, empower, and facilitate local companies through the changing economic climate, as well as share some insight for future growth. The event is part of the Mayor’s Networking Luncheon Series: Connect – Collaborate – Create 2011.

Gordon Nixon, president of the Royal Bank will be the guest speaker at an Economic Development lunch this Thursday  Nixon is a strong advocate for taking advantage of the economic diversity in Canada.  Will Burlington hear him?

Gordon Nixon, president of the Royal Bank will be the guest speaker at an Economic Development lunch this Thursday Nixon is a strong advocate for taking advantage of the economic diversity in Canada. Will Burlington hear him?

The keynote speaker is Gordon Nixon President and CEO of Royal Bank of Canada – the country’s largest financial institution for the past decade. He is a recipient of Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year Award and the driving force behind RBC’s diversity journey. In 2010, RBC was awarded the prestigious Catalyst Award for its outstanding diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Nixon will share his insights on why diversity matters, the success behind RBC’s activities, how diversity can help spur expansion and innovation and the business imperative that all Canadian companies should embrace to succeed in today’s fast paced, ever evolving international economy.

Nixon was one of the forces behind the MaRs district in Toronto, a location where high tech and bio tech organizations are housed in what used to be the College Street part of the Toronto Hospital. Mayor Rick Goldring’s guest speaker at his Inspire series, Tom Rand, heads up the Cleantech Practice at the MaRS Discovery District. He is Practice Lead, Cleantech and Physical Sciences. This is not small potatoes. Many may not realize that the Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s office have worked together to bring some top level speakers who are leading the change that has to take place in this country if we are to experience the growth we want and need.

The Mayor has a clear vision for the city which is to attract new high tech and high paying jobs to the city. It is speakers like Gordon Nixon and Tom Rand who can lead us into this new territory.

Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation worked with local Royal Bank people to get Nixon to the city. As Benham explained it: “We work with our local partners to develop both programs and development opportunities.” That local networking certainly worked for all of us this time.

MaRS was created in 2000 by a group of thirteen visionary individuals, organizations and companies concerned about Canada’s performance in the global innovation economy. It’s mission is to act as a catalyst in helping build Canada’s high-tech industries. Burlington would be well advised to get to know people down there – some of the start- ups that are toiling away at MaRs will experience a breakthrough and be looking for a place to set up their operations. They would love Burlington – we need to make sure they know exactly where we are.




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Liberals claim Hudak going to whack taxpayers with an annual $168. per household tax hit. Real or just a scare tactic?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 14, 2011 – The press release said “urgent” and the sender apologized for the short notice but there was going to be a press conference outside city hall. Wow – we thought, must be something hot. Burlington city councilors Craven and Meed Ward were going to be on hand.

Then we wondered – did the people organizing the press conference know that the plaza in front of city hall was being torn up while repairs were being done? Guess not.

Moments later there was an email from Liberal Media people in Ottawa with mention of a breakfast the Premier attended in Ottawa where he talked of the tax increase that would hit Ontario municipalities if a Hudak government were elected.

The picture was suddenly quite a bit clearer – this was a concerted effort by the Liberals to take their municipal message to every city and town across the province. The Liberals are well organized – they pump out several press releases every day.

So, the press conference was on – we gathered on the part of the city hall plaza that wasn’t being torn up and three media people, one photographer, two candidate staffer, the two council members who identify themselves as Liberals and the candidate and listened as Liberal Candidate Karmel Sakran read a prepared statement. And that was it – they are called photo ops and an opportunity for a candidate to communicate with the larger community. Democracy in action.

Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran has a real race on his hands.  Last week he held a short notice press conference on an issue that was being raised across the province

Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran has a real race on his hands. Last week he held a short notice press conference on an issue that was being raised across the province

What was it Sakran wanted to say ? Basically the same thing the Premier said to the people at the Mayor of Ottawa’s Breakfast – “we won’t down load anything on you.” We won’t do what those dastardly things the Tories did to you. But gosh guys – Mike Harris has been gone for some time and while you are working at pinning a “Harris Lite” label on Tim Hudak – and that isn’t hard to do, can we not get some balance in here?

The Premier said:

“We believe the provincial government should pay for provincial responsibilities — so municipalities have what they need to provide a great quality of life for their people. Ontario Liberals get that. The Harris-Hudak PCs didn’t,” said McGuinty. “Now the PCs are at it again. They want to go back to the days of downloading to balance their own books — costing taxpayers money and robbing cities like Ottawa of vital public services.”

The PCs have already proposed the first of their new downloads — making municipalities pay for hazardous waste disposal. Their scheme would make Ottawa property tax bills skyrocket by at least 6% — costing the average family about $186 per year.

The last PC government stuck municipalities with a $3 billion bill for provincial programs like seniors’ drug costs and services for the disabled or unemployed. This left less money in municipal budgets for other services like policing or snow removal, and made property taxes rise.

Ontario Liberals partnered with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) on a plan for uploads that would reverse the damage from the last PC government. When finished, it would put communities on stable footing so they can plan for the future.

Ontario Liberals are committed to finishing that job — and honouring that commitment.

Sakran was a little more blunt. He said the contrast between the Liberals and thhe Progressive Conservatives is pretty clear. They down load …. We upload

They cut – we build

They believe in the politics of division. We believe in working together to move Ontario forward.

Sakran mention a tax increase of $186 per household that would be needed to fund the plans the Tories have put out in the Change Book and refers to it as a “hardship”. Hardly! It amounts to less than fifty cents a day 0 a little perspective would help here.

Sakran adds this line: “Or the local library will be closed.” Really, there isn’t a hope in hades of this city ever closing the library. That kind of statement is divisional.

This election is about leadership and making alarmist statements isn’t leadership. They amount to scare tactics which we don’t need. Put the facts before the votes and they will figure it out.

Councilor Rick Craven, thought to be a Liberal, let his colours show when he appeared at a press conference with Candidate Sakran to decry any possible end to the funding agreement the municipalities currently has with the Liberal government.

Councilor Rick Craven, thought to be a Liberal, let his colours show when he appeared at a press conference with Candidate Sakran to decry any possible end to the funding agreement the municipalities currently has with the Liberal government.

Downloading costs to the municipality in the Harris years did a lot of damage to Ontario municipalities and the Liberals deserve credit for reversing a lot of that damage. McGuinty deserves credit for what he is doing for education and his green energy initiative is admirable. Does he have it right? We don’t know that yet but he is doing something positive and showing that he is working his way through difficult times.

The municipalities, through their organization, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, AMO, worked out an understanding with the Liberal government that amounted to $1.5 billion of which $1 billion has been delivered. Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition has said that he isn’t committed to following through on the last half a billion and that does have municipalities up in arms. The municipalities fear a return to the days when the province stiffed them by down loading all kinds of services to the municipal level. Harris’s government just said – here you deliver these services and find a way to pay for them.

Marianne Meed Ward, the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election gave then MPP Joyce Savoline a real run for her money.  She then decided to run municipally where she now gives city council a real run for its money.

Marianne Meed Ward, the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election gave then MPP Joyce Savoline a real run for her money. She then decided to run municipally where she now gives city council a real run for its money.

Because municipalities are creatures of the provincial government they have to do what the province tells them to do. That’s what had Councilors Craven and Meed Ward out in public with Sakran warning there is a serious problem with any suggestion that the AMO agreement might not be followed through on. No one wants a return to the Harris days and the fear is that Tim Hudak, who was part of that Harris government, is going to take the province back to the days when downloading was the rule.

Locally, McKenna, the PC candidate had nothing to say about Hudak’s thoughts on the downloading issue. The community is not seeing nearly as many press releases from the Progressive Conservatives.





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Pharmacies are being targeted by armed robbers in Burlington

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2011 Sunday afternoon a citizen observed two masked males walking towards the Medical Centre at 141 Plains Road carrying firearms. Before entering the clinic the males realized they had been spotted and fled on foot..

Less than an hour later police were dispatched to 185 Plains Rd E, the location of a Guardian Drug Store, where two masked men who entered the pharmacy and demanded cash and drugs from the employees. The males produced a firearm in the robbery.

Serious damage was done to the Plains Road pharmacy in October 2010.

Serious damage was done to the Plains Road pharmacy in October 2010.

This pharmacy is believed to be the same one damaged seriously by fire in October of 2010.

At the time Firefighters from the Waterdown Road station, who were on their way to check an unrelated alarm signal, discovered the blaze as they passed the Aldershot Guardian Pharmacy just after 1 a.m. in the morning. The crew attacked the fire and called in additional units.

Damage has been estimated at least $750,000 and the cause of the fire has not been determined. Investigators from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has been called in. Pharmacy owner Lisa Vogt, who opened the business in June, says she plans to rebuild her “dream.”

Just under a year later two males rob the pharmacy and take an undisclosed quantity of money and prescription medication and then fled the pharmacy to a pickup truck parked outside. The vehicle left the area eastbound on Plains Rd. The pickup truck is described as green with a white cap, no make or model determined at this time.


The suspects were described as male white, 18-25yrs, 5′-10″ to 6′-0″ft, wearing dark hoodies and dark pants. One male was carrying a blue duffle bag; a dark pistol type handgun was seen by the pharmacy staff.


Earlier this month another pharmacy was robbed at gunpoint.




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So far a very quiet campaign – does that mean the minds are made up?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2011 – At the half-way point – no political party is losing the race but no one is winning it yet either. The citizens seem to be burnt out with the federal and municipal elections during the past 10 months. Very, very few lawn election signs and those are the ones that count.

During a two hour drive about the city we counted less than 50 signs for all three parties. McKenna had 21, Sakran 13 and Russell 4. We didn’t count the signs outside campaign offices nor did we count those clearly on commercial. We went looking for those individual homes in places like the Queensway community, south of the QEW and west of Guelph Line where McKenna had support that surprised us.

What is confusing is this: Each political party must have at least a couple of hundred members, that is people who pay their dues annually, and we wondered why those members did not have signs on their lawns. They wouldn’t say no if asked. Does this suggest that the political parties are so poorly organized that they don’t have a sign crew that gets out and puts signs on lawns. Or are political signs on lawns passé?

Clearly there is no excitement about the election. It’s going to take place and the people of Burlington seem to be comfortable with that and on election day – they will trot out to the polls and cast a ballot. Will we see another less than 50% turnout?

Province wide – no one candidate has scored big points. They have all made significant points and there is a clear difference between what Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals are prepared to do to help immigrants, with credentials that are not recognized, get a job. The Progressive Conservatives see this as unfair and point to the 50,000 Ontarians who are unemployed. The philosophical differences between the two parties is perhaps most clear on this issue.

What will it mean in Burlington? Jane McKenna, the Burlington Progressive candidate was very vocal on this one and managed to put both feet in her mouth and have Burlington described as home to the Conservative lunatic fringe.

Karmel Sakran didn’t goof to the same degree but he did suggest that if the downloading deal the municipalities have with the provincial government is ended by the Progressive Conservative government, we will all experience financial hardship as the result of the $168. increase in our property taxes. That increase would amount to 50 cents a day – not exactly financial hardship territory.

Political campaigns do bring out the hyperbole and exaggeration. It all needs to be taken with many grains of salt.

Both Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate and Peggy Russell, running under the NDP banner, are seen in the community and their organizations pump out press releases every day. McKenna seems to have withdrawn a bit and is running what is called a “bubble campaign”, which is when the candidate goes to places where the reception will be pleasant and no one asks hard questions. The Progressive Conservative campaign now has a small recreational trailer that drives about the city. They haven’t issued any press releases at least nothing we saw

If the Tories are to retain the seat they must hold their traditional vote and that means getting McKenna in front of every Tory they can find that is still breathing. If they can keep the traditional base – they should be able to retain the seat.

Sakran’s strategy was to be seen by the conservative community in Burlington as a moderate they can trust and, given the way McKenna has mismanaged her campaign so far, many conservatives may choose to sit on their hands October 6th or actually vote for a Liberal.

Less than three weeks to go. The two all candidate meetings will let the community see how McKenna stands up to Russell who is well briefed and can be forceful. It should be interesting to watch her. Sakran, who is equally well briefed, but we’ve yet to see him in a forum where he has to perform under some pressure.




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City sees major benefits in elite cycling – prepared to work with new leadership at cycling club.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 15, 2011 – It was a great idea at the time but it got off to a shaky start and just didn’t get any better.

The first step in having elite cycle racing take part in Burlington started during the Jackson administration when a group known as MidWeek Cycling appeared before a Council Committee asking for financial support for a plan they had to run two cycling event in the downtown core and at other venues around the city and elsewhere in the region.

Then Mayor Jackson however didn’t like the look of the idea and was disturbed over the fact that the project wasn’t properly documented and that the promoter hadn’t showed up for a critical meeting. We should have paid attention to that red flag.

On a recorded vote it passed but Jackson didn’t go for it. On that one he was right. More than a year later, a lot of egg on our faces and hours and hours of time pout in by staff and the Regional Police – and guess what? We are looking at the event again.

This time however – it is going to be a lot different. The biggest change is at the MidWeek Cycling club level. Crag Fagan, the guy that drove people at city hall and the Regional police offices nuts, will not be part of the next attempt to bring elite cycling to the city.

Why are we doing this a second time? The original agreement was for a two year period. The thinking at the time was that 2011 races were to be a lead up to the 2012 races which were 2014 Olympic qualifying events.

Chris Glenn has kept his staff focused on the objective, it wasn’t always easy working with an event organizer who didn’t appear to be able to meet commitments.

Chris Glenn has kept his staff focused on the objective, it wasn’t always easy working with an event organizer who didn’t appear to be able to meet commitments.

Many saw this as an opportunity for Burlington to take advantage of the geography and put the city on the map as the place to hold first class racing events. The plans to hold a Criterion event in the downtown core had a lot of people excited. The Burlington Down Business Association and the Burlington Hotel Association were all a twitter over the possibilities.

They liked the idea so much that they petitioned the Region for permission to have retailers remain open for the Canada Day Race. They could just see the dollars rolling in.

Councillor Jack Dennison, a keen cycler did everything he could to make the event happen but it was just one problem after another that had city hall staff doing far more than they should have. That won’t be happening again. The event is actually the Canadian National Road Cycling Championships which are held by the Canadian Cycling Association. That association doesn’t really put on the event. They look for a local association to put on the event and chose MidWeek Cycling to do that job. MidWeek had Crag Fagan lead the project for the club. That was a terrible mistake.

Fagan came close to getting himself arrested when he had MidWeek issue a cheque to the Regional Police to cover some permits. The cheque bounced. Bouncing a cheque made out to the police isn’t exactly a positive career move.

Things are going to be much tighter and much more disciplined. City hall staff now have a much better understanding as to how these events take place and what the dynamics are and what they need to do and what they need the partners in the events have to do. During early 2010 staff did everything but send a cab to Toronto to pick up Fagan so that he would actually be at meetings. It was dispiriting for the staff and disappointing for everyone involved – but Scott Stewart, currently the Acting City Manager but in real life the General Manager of Community Services could see the potential and he worked with his staff to figure out how they could salvage something from the experience.

Stewart’s team has put together a list of what has to be done and by when – and made it very, very clear that if a deadline is missed – no excuses this time, the deal is off. The deal amount to $30,000. From the city and $20,000 from the hotel association.

The cycling association has to have the following worked out and documentation delivered to the city and the Regional police by October 3rd. No extensions.

If they come up with documentation on the timing, the staging of the event, worked out the logistics that are involved, worked out how residents in the affected areas will be notified, how the general public will be kept aware of what is happening and provide a preliminary traffic management plan – things will go forward. But – the city has made it very clear – the deadline is October 3rd.

Traffic management was a major hurdle that really wasn’t overcome during the 2011 experience. The costs police were looking to have covered were seen as just too high by the MidWeek Cycling people. The belief is that the police have also learned something from this experience and the intention seems to be to make more use of the volunteer police.

Acting City Manager Scott Stewart mentioned that someone had suggested the police volunteer some of their time. Stewart commented that “that one wasn’t on – the idea didn’t fly:, which is unfortunate. Our police are well paid and policing in Burlington isn’t exactly hard work. Giving a little back is part of the Burlington culture that could work its way into the police service.

There were some valuable lessons learned from the summer of 2011 experience. The city now knows that cycling events work best when roads being used are closed with escorting available for those who must drive along the cycling route. There were other lessons learned as well – the biggest one being to insist that deadlines get met by the sponsors of the event. We will know on October 3rd if that lesson has really been learned.




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It’s a done deal. Council to approve pier contractor Sept 26th. Council members may dance on their desks.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 14, 2011 It’s done. The city’s Community Services Committee approved an Engineering department recommendation to go with the bid submitted by Graham Infrastructure to complete the construction of the Brant Street Pier at a cost to the city of $6,429,700.

Every member of council voted FOR the recommendation – all in favour votes by this Council have not been the norm. The matter goes to a regular Council meeting on September 26th where it becomes legal. You can expect to see construction people on the site the next day.

The Council committee went for the whole package which added $283,360 to the price which included the extension of the promenade from the edge of the pier right up to Lakeshore Road and for the access ramp that will let people get to the small mini beach that has formed on the west side of the pier.

They deferred on a floating dock on the west side of the pier even though councilor Dennison pushed a bit to get that included. What happens next?

Here’s the schedule:

Finalize contract and mobilize the construction team – October 2011

Site preparation/Steel removal – November/December 2011

Much of the steel used in the first phase was found to be deficient and will have to be removed.

Steel fabrication – November 2011 – March 2012

New steel beams that meet the design specifications has to be fabricated and delivered to the web site.

Steel installation – April May 2012

This is the point where it all begins to come together.

Deck and beacon construction May to December 2012

The beacon, which we’ve heard very little about gets built during the phase of construction.

Winter shutdown    December 2012 to March 2013

An early winter or a long winter could extend this phase. If it is a mild winter some time may be gained.

Total completion, grand opening – April – June 2013


Council looks for re-lection November 2014

The first major task is the removal of tons of steel beams that are deficient.  Some of the beams that were never used are shown above.  Who will get the funds recovered from the sale of this scrap steel?

The first major task is the removal of tons of steel beams that are deficient. Some of the beams that were never used are shown above. Who will get the funds recovered from the sale of this scrap steel?

There was a very satisfied feeling in the Council chamber when all seven hands went up approving the recommendation. And they have every reason to be satisfied – they worked long and hard and overcame several significant obstacles.

There are legal points to be argued with the claims the city is making against the original contractor and the designer – but those are matters for another day. Wednesday, September 14th was a win day for this council and they deserved to feel pleased with what they had achieved. The Engineering people deserved the credit they were given

The total project cost, including the nearly $5.98 million spent to date, will amount to a total of $14.44 million, which does not include the legal costs.

There is more to say about where we are with the pier project; how we got here and just what those “lessons learned” were. Agreeing to a $6 million dollar project and ending up with a price of $14. million calls for a hard look at what the crowd at the city hall really did. Credit where credit is due, yes – but accountability and laying the responsibility for the mistakes where they belong is also a part of the process. We will cover that story when city council passes the by-law that lets properly qualified contractors begin their work.

Much of the steel from the circle area on the left out to the end of the pier has to be removed and replaced.  The caissons that dig deep into the lake bed are sound and that portion of the electrical system installed is in good shape.  However, three of the light standards seem to have just disappeared.  The Engineering department managed to return the light standards that were unacceptable and has bought twelve new light standards

Much of the steel from the circle area on the left out to the end of the pier has to be removed and replaced. The caissons that dig deep into the lake bed are sound and that portion of the electrical system installed is in good shape. However, three of the light standards seem to have just disappeared. The Engineering department managed to return the light standards that were unacceptable and has bought twelve new light standards

The city has a strong legal case and will probably settle with the designer and the contractor at some point in the legal process but, as the Mayor said during the meeting – “that is something we will handle on another day.

Graham Group of Companies is a North American-wide company, with a local base in Mississauga. Graham is the fifth largest construction company in Canada with more than 1,200 salaried staff and a 2010 revenue of $1.8 billion.




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Chair of Council Committee “will be more vigilant” when Council is in closed session.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 15, 2011 When city council committees meet to do the business of directing the city they do so in public. They meet with the appropriate staff – in public where all the facts are heard by everyone in the room.

When the bids for the completion of the Brant Street Pier were opened it was done in public – no one knew what the bids were until the envelopes were opened – in public.

This is the process that keeps people honest and allows a public to be informed.

The Burlington city council goes into “closed session” which means the media has to leave the room and a sign gets posted on the door to the Council Chamber saying Council is in closes session.

Councillor Craven is the best procedural person on council but he too can let something slip by.  To his credit, he recognizes his mistakes and does something about them.

Councillor Craven is the best procedural person on council but he too can let something slip by. To his credit, he recognizes his mistakes and does something about them.

One of the Council committees recently went into closed session to talk about a matter related to the Paletta Mansion, which Council had learned was losing a pile of money. There was no reason given as to why they were going closed – they just say it is confidential and the media has to accept that. Any council member can ask that they go into closed session. Ward 1 councillor Meed Ward has on occasioned mildly questioned going into closed session but she has never said no – which she has a right to do.

When they come out of closed session council never tells you what was discussed. The Clerk knows but she (usually female) is bound by an Oath of Secrecy..

During one such meeting, the Chair of the committee that was coming out of closed session said they had discussed the Paletta matter – and then added that there were questions raised about the Pier as well. THAT was a no, no.

Your council has a right to decide something is confidential and they can talk about that and only that in a closed session. So when Councillor Craven mentioned that Pier questions had come up I asked him later why that was done..

He agreed that it should probably not have been done. I advised the chair of the committee that I would be writing him formally and lodging a complaint.

Councillor Craven is a pretty proactive chair and he looked into the issue, discussed it with the Clerk and made the following statement last night at a Committee meeting.


It has been pointed out to me by a member of the news media that I made a procedural error at our last Community Services Committee.

I announced that we were going into closed session to discuss the Paletta Mansion

When we came out of closed session I announced that, while we were in closed session, there had also been a couple of questions about the pier.

I have met with the Clerk about this matter.

The member of the news media was correct..

I should not have allowed the pier questions in closed session because the had not publicly stated his intention to ask these questions before we moved into closed session..

In the future I will be more vigilant in ensuring that we stick to the announced subject in the closes session, and I ask that all members refrain from asking questions on other topics, unless they announce their intention in public before we go into closed session.


Now on the surface this might look like someone being overly picky and sensitive. Not the case. Your city council goes into closed session far too often – and when they are there you, the public, have no way of knowing what was said other than the subject they went into closed session to discuss. And, as Craven’s comments show, – they will talk about other issues while in closed session. There is no oversight and while the Clerk has considerable influence legally, there isn’t a member of the Clerk’s office in this city that is going to challenge a chair.

There is a different, healthier ethic developing on this council. Burlington is a better city for it. The information identified in the Shape Burlington report is being narrowed.

Councillor Craven has served notice that he will be more vigilant and he will. Councillor Sharman, the other councillor that chairs a committee, as well as their respective co-chairs now know that they need to respect the public’s right to know.




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Mayor’s Inspire program brings top notch, international level speakers to the city.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 13, 2011 The Mayor is ready to put on the third in a series of Inspire sessions that he holds at the McMaster University DeGroote School of Business on Thursday September 29th – 7 pm. This time we get to hear Tom Rand, one of those successful software entrepreneurs that survived the dot com bubble in 2000. He sold his company in 2005 when it had reached the xxx level

Rand is the Inspired speaker – part of Mayor Goldring’s efforts to bring intelligent debate to the city.

Rand is the Inspired speaker – part of Mayor Goldring’s efforts to bring intelligent debate to the city.

Rand now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization plus public advocacy. Rand is the Cleantech Practice, Lead Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and sits on the board of a number of clean energy companies and organizations, including Morgan Solar.

The first 100 people at the Inspire event to be held at the DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road on September 29th will be given a copy of Kicking

The first 100 people at the Inspire event to be held at the DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road on September 29th will be given a copy of Kicking

Tom’s book Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our Word, will be the focus of his talk on the 29th. In a different approach to getting his books into the hands of people Rand is giving away 100 copies of his book at the event.

Rand has a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, a MSc in philosophy of science from the University of London / London School of Economics and an MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. He speaks publicly about the issue because it is his belief that we have yet to have a serious, public conversation about the threat of climate change, and the economic opportunities afforded by the global transformation to a low-carbon economy.

“I’m really just a guy trying to slow our gallop toward an over-heated climate. Doing what I can with what I’ve got.” Is how Rand explains what he does.

Tom Rand is a part of the group of people who work out of one of the most impressive operations in the country.  The MaRs centre is an incredible learning place that brings new ideas to the market.  Log into

Tom Rand is a part of the group of people who work out of one of the most impressive operations in the country. The MaRs centre is an incredible learning place that brings new ideas to the market. Log into

Kick is richly illustrated and accessible. It addresses achievable solutions that will have a real and meaningful impact on the future for our children. It’s been conceived to appeal to a broad range of readers on multiple levels. For those who skim read and pull quotes and captions, Kick provides an engaging glimpse of this fascinating subject. For those who seek deeper understanding, the lively, factual text provides an easy-to-understand summary of the technologies and supports all claims with scientifically verified end-notes-from a politically neutral technology expert. Kick will engage, entertain and educate the public about one of the most important subjects of our time. The book deals with Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biofuels, Hydropower, Ocean, Smart Buildings, Transportation, Efficiency and Conservation and the Energy Internet.

Rand has an interest in the Planet Traveler – North America’s Greenest Hotel. The building was an abandoned structure in downtown Toronto when Tom and his partner Anthony Aarts bought it. During 2008-2009 it was converted into a low-carbon hotel. The target was to reduce carbon emissions from business-as-usual by three-quarters. Using existing technologies, and leveraging only 5% of the buildings value that target is being met. Technologies deployed include geo-exchange heating and cooling, solar thermal and PV, high-efficiency lighting and drain-water heat recapture. The geo-exchange pipes were the first to be buried under a public laneway in the City of Toronto.

It’s a different hotel – Tom Rand thinks it is one of the best examples of how we can cut down on carbon emissions.

It’s a different hotel – Tom Rand thinks it is one of the best examples of how we can cut down on carbon emissions.

The overall lesson? “Buildings are really low-hanging fruit when it comes to emissions reductions”, says Rand. “Not only can we reduce emissions by three-quarters or more, we can make money doing it.”

Rand points out that we ” have just left the hottest year on record. While experts again try to ring alarm bells, our media still gives voice to the pseudo-intellectual pursuit of climate skepticism. Perhaps while Rome burned, some bravely questioned the finer qualities of fire. Perhaps on Easter Island, as the last trees fell, some elders courageously debated the necessity of wood. These days, Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail columnist and Rex Murphy, CBC voice, sing in tune with the likes of Glenn Beck, sincerely believing their skepticism to be a form of intellectual virtue. It is not.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel calls the low-carbon economy the “third industrial revolution.” A new energy internet supplied by clean energy sources like biomass, wind solar, hydro, and geothermal has spread across the continent. There are new storage technologies like compressed air and low-friction flywheels. Large-scale efficiencies make economies more competitive. If Canada gets it right, we’ll sell this stuff to the rest of the world.

The transition to a low-carbon economy brings huge economic opportunity, but it is not optional.

While Wente asks whether humans can control the climate, global average ocean temperatures hit record highs. More ominously, as the oceans have warmed since the 1950s, plankton levels have dropped 40 per cent. As goes plankton, so goes the rest of oceanic life.

Skepticism becomes a vice when applied to a broad consensus of expert opinion warning of existential danger. The policy commitments demanded by climate science need broad public support. Skeptics erode that support without intellectual justification.

Let’s be clear, says Rand. We have known since the early 19th century that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, insulating the earth like a blanket. In 1965, the U.S. president’s Scientific Advisory Committee warned the build-up of carbon dioxide would cause changes in the climate. By 1989, then U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher declared to the UN General Assembly that climate change was the single greatest threat to our very existence. There are other informed opinions.

Thatcher, no shill for the environmental movement, was scientifically literate. The same cannot be said for those who scoff at the accumulated wisdom of our scientific elite. All national academies of science in the developed world have endorsed the basic premises of human-caused climate change. The only scientific argument remaining is not about whether climate change is real or imagined, but whether the results will be catastrophic or merely disastrous.

Yet untrained skeptics assure us that the dangers of which the scientists speak may not be real.

For Murphy, public acceptance of expert opinion on climate change amounts to religious indoctrination. Wente asserts that climate cannot be controlled by human behaviour. Beck argues that it’s a Communist conspiracy. The purported dangers are at best hypothetical constructions of a few scientists, at worst mere monsters under our bed, easily dismissed with a dose of adult skepticism. The skeptics explicitly cast themselves against the orthodoxy of our time, as noble knights standing up to society’s pressure to conform.

This is nonsense. Climate change is not like politics or a painting. The opinions of laypersons are not relevant. It’s hard science, and the truth of the matter has been settled by those qualified to make the judgment.

But we’re far past the complex theoretical models now. Ask an Australian farmer what climate change means. The same climate instability that brought Australia the longest drought in human memory, now unleashes catastrophic flooding. To B.C. foresters, it’s the pine beetle destroying their timber. Lloyd’s of London, like most insurance companies, faces escalating costs due to extreme weather events. Russia’s scorching summer, which temporarily ended grain exports, and the floods in Pakistan are but appetizers before the main event.

The pseudo-intellectual pursuit of climate skepticism delays Canada’s participation in a new economy, and it makes it harder to have that public and adult conversation we so desperately need: the one about how volatile nature has become, and how angry it will get.




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