Toronto theatrical success to play Performing Arts Centre; Miss Caledonia will appeal to those who remember childhood fantasies.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 29, 2012 When Brenda Heatherington took on the task of leading the artistic side of the Performing Arts Centre the city knew they were getting a woman who knew how to create an audience; that they were getting a woman who knew how  to find the talent that would grow an audience in the city.

Brenda Heatherington, chatting up a Performing Arts centre supporter.

They didn’t tell Heatherington that she would also have to juggle the financial side as well and make it work within a budget that was just short of what she felt she needed.  The theatre is days away from the anniversary of its first production.  Royal Oak appeared on December 9th and Denise Walker, the theater’s bag lady at the time, was the first Burlingtonians to step out on the stage and talk to an audience that had bought tickets – but I digress.

Sometime ago Heatherington sought out Melody Johnson who was at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, and booked her for an afternoon show at the Performing Arts centre.  The date happened to be on the same day as the Santa Claus parade, but Melody Johnson didn’t see that as a problem. “Maybe I will draw more people than the parade” she said in her ‘always optimistic’ manner.

Burlington will get a chance to know this growing  actress who writes and directs and comes out of the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto where she has done some excellent work.

Johnson will be performing Miss Caledonia, a one woman story about her Mother who was raised on a farm and wanted to become an entertainer.  The one woman play is about the day dreams and the fantasies that young people have as they think about getting away from home and growing up and becoming something great.

Melody Johnson, on stage during a Miss Caledonia performance.  She appears in Burlington December 2nd.

There is a wonderful scene that has Peggy, the name given to the Mother character, in a milk truck driving into the city.  For anyone with any “Farm” experience you would see the reality of farm life in that scene.  There weren’t regular bus service and often the milk truck was the best transportation service available.  Peggy had decided, in her mind, that she could “magnetize: the milk truck driver and – well you have to see the play to fully appreciate the scene.

There is another where Peggy, gazing at the picture of Bing Crosby on her bedroom wall, slips into her fantasy world.  If the name Bing Crosby doesn’t kindle an old memory then this play may not be for you but for those people who lived in rural setting, understood what it meant to “muck-out” stalls and know what the scent of new mown hay really is – this could be a production you would thoroughly enjoy.

It’s the kind of thing Heatherington brings to Burlington to build an audience and develop an appreciation for performing arts the city hasn’t been able to do without a fully functional building.

The trick is to put good productions on the stage, keep the people in the box office on the stage and let city council feel all warm and snugly as the enterprise grows.  Heatherington might want to look into bringing a production of “I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can” to the city.  She might think of playing the lead role.

Heatherington could go up against Jill Clayburgh any day of the week.

Melody Johnson, does the one woman play Miss Caledonia, the true story of her Mother’s fantasy life as she did everything she could to get off the family farm.

Miss Caledonia is completing its first season at the Tarragon in Toronto; the Burlington production will be the last show for 2012 after which the show goes on the road.  Johnson, who was raised in Brantford said Burlington is a place she always drove through on her way to Brantford.  “I don’t think I’ve ever really been there before”, she said.

Richard Ouzounian, a Toronto theatre critic delights in Melody Johnson’s giggle, which he maintains one of the happiest sounds in Canadian theatre, “caressing the ear even as it reveals characters so unhinged they perch halfway between Stephen King and Steve Martin with the spirit of Elaine May hovering just overhead”.

When this city has enough people who fully understand was  Ouzounian, was saying Heatherington will have succeeded hugely – the task ahead is to keep the Performing Arts Centre alive and open until that day.

Miss Caledonia – at the Performing Arts Centre.  Box office

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Novice driver fails to negotiate a curve in the road – crashes into a house. House could collapse. No one injured.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 29, 2012  It wasn’t a house call; they weren’t crashing a party but two occupants in a Ford Taurus suddenly found themselves still in their car but in the living room of a home on Tavistock Drive.

The accident happened at around 10 pm last night when a lone Ford Taurus was travelling westbound on Mount Forest Drive in the City of Burlington. When the vehicle entered the curve in the roadway leading to the road changing into Tavistock Drive, it left the west side of the roadway.

After cruising across the front lawns of two residences the Ford Taurus crashed into the front of a house and went through the exterior wall and came to a stop only when the entire front end of the car was inside the home.

Police report that the two adult male occupants of the vehicle were miraculously uninjured. No one in the house was injured either.

As police furthered their investigation they found that the driver of the car had a blood alcohol concentration that was above zero which was a no-no when your driving license designation is that of a novice.

Mitchell BOLDUC, age 19 years of Burlington has been charged with Careless Driving and Being a Novice Driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration Above Zero- both are both contrary to the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. He has been summoned to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Burlington on December 18th 2012 to answer to these charges.

The Ontario Graduated Drivers License system restricts drivers of motor vehicles from consuming ANY alcohol and then driving on a highway.

The Ford Taurus will not be removed from the house until a thorough inspection of the structure can be made in daylight as main support beams appear to have been significantly compromised.  The house just might fall down when the car is removed.

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City purchasing decision screws up security at city hall. Kerr gets fired then re-hired; now all the doors get locked at night.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2012  Do you remember that bit we did a while ago about those unintended consequences; that mess up that occurred when the city gave a contract to a new security services company because they believed they were able to get the same level of service for less money?

This came about due to a change in policy that allowed the purchasing department to spend up to $100,000 without having to get the purchase approved by city council.   If transit wants to buy a new bus – that has to come to council.  Paperclips and printing paper  – the folks over at purchasing don’t have to get an OK – they just look for the best price and do a quality check – we suppose.

Midnight Security had the contract to provide security services but they got a little sloppy with the paper work and didn’t get their bid in on time last year and so the contract went to Star Security who were expected to keep the existing security staff on their payroll.

Bob Kerr is back at city hall doing the afternoon-evening security shift. New shoulder patches on his shirt and a smile on his face.

Well Star Security did that but they didn’t want to pay the staff what they were getting from Midnight which created some tension.  The level of security was on the sloppy side according to a number of reports from people who know these things.  When senior city hall staff became fully aware of the mess it became evident that changes had to be made.

But there was a contract and it had to be met.  Then Star fired Bob Kerr; that put the fat in the fire.  Kerr had been on the job for more than five years and knew the building inside out and every staff member by their first name.  He knew every nook and cranny in the building as well.

Wheels were put in motion and the city apparently found a way to end the contract with Star Security and brought Midnight back in.  Midnight gave Bob Kerr a call and he was ironing his new shirt to be on duty the next day.

The purchasing department made the mistake of going for the lowest price forgetting that the savings they achieved had to come out of Bob Kerr`s pocket.

But Bob`s back; says he has had hugs from more than 14 women – so he`s a happy camper and security at city hall is where is was supposed to be. ALL the doors get locked at night.

Someone at purchasing owes Bob a case of beer.


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Christmas Spirit arrived in Burlington last week – it was delivered by a bunch of hockey coaches.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 26, 2012  That stuff about Christmas starting the day after Halloween is a little too rushed for me.  I like to ease into Christmas reasonable early in December and like it when the store and supermarkets ease me into the Christmas Season.

While driving home earlier this week the wife burst into the house and said “you aren’t going to believe this but there is a house down the street that already has their Christmas tree up.  I looked on my way out later and sure enough – there it was – a white plastic one to boot.

Christmas has a sense of season about it but that Christmas Spirit isn’t something we control nor is it something we can decide has to appear when we want it.  Like all things spiritual – we are on the receiving end – it arrives when it is supposed to arrive.

Jill Harrington a wacky, wired, single Mother run the Christmas For Seniors event.  It’s an organization that keeps in touch with different seniors groups across the city and asks them what they would like for Christmas.  These are people who are a bit on the being alone side; their family isn’t in the area, the spouses may no longer be with them.  They have fond memories of Christmas past and don’t want for all that much.

Harrington collects the names and what they would like and then places tags on Christmas trees that are put up in stores, office buildings – wherever she can get a tree she can put tags on.

A typical Children of Christmas Past tree set up in more than 30location in Burlington with trees also set up in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

People see the tree, see the tags, look at what is being asked for and if they feel the gift is something they can give they buy the gift, get it to Harrington who then delivers it to the senior.

Yes, it is labour intensive and Harrington does the work while holding down a full time job and raising a delightful ten year old boy who is still on the shy side.

Harrington handles it all by multitasking.  During one of our conversations Harrington appears to be talking to someone other than me – “not too much chocolate in the coffee please” which had nothing to do with the conversation we were having.

Harrington had sent me a note telling me of a huge surprise she got.

She had said to her seniors: “Wish with a big heart – what would you like, what do you need?”

To her surprise there were six requests for chairs that have the capacity to lift a person from the chair to a standing position.  They are called “reclining lift chairs”.

Harrington had no idea where she was going to find the money to pay for these gift requests but she knew that if she did raise the money she would have to get some help delivering the chairs.  They aren’t the kind of thing you tuck under your arm as you ring a doorbell to deliver a gift.

Harrington knows everyone you need to know to operate in Burlington.  She got herself in front of the Bulldogs coach at the Burlington Lions Optimist Minor Hockey Association and asked if they could lend her someone with a truck to deliver the chairs – assuming she could raise the money to buy them.

In no particular order Burlington Lions Optimist Minor Hockey Association coaches and staff with Burlington’s Mayor. Sheila Ramage, Kelly Meikle, Tim Wilson, Doug Rogers, Perry Lake, Scott Wright, Mike Milford and Rusty Reingruber. The coaches put up the funds to pay for the reclining lift chairs and said they would handle the delivery as well.

The coaches listened politely and told Harrington they would get back to her.  That was the best she could do, she thanked them for their time and moved on to the next challenge.  In less than ten minutes she got a text on her smart phone BLOMHA:

Hi Jill,

The Bulldogs are going to purchase the 6 chairs you require for your Seniors. I pitched it to the group of Coaches and all 25 Bulldogs Teams are going to chip in and buy these chairs ($600 each) Congratulations!!!!!!  Great cause.

Tim Wilson, a BLOMHA coach

BLOMHA would pay for all six chairs – and yes they would arrange for the delivery as well. The association is paying for two of the six with the coaches paying for the other four.

The Christmas Spirit had arrived a little earlier than Harrington expected and so did the tears that just flooded down her face.

The Burlington Lions Optimist Minor Hockey association was formed in 1951 by members of the Burlington Central Lions Club and the Optimist Club of Burlington, making it one of the oldest, longest serving youth organizations in our city. Members of both clubs were once actively involved in the operation of the organization. BLOMHA is governed by Hockey Canada, Ontario Hockey Federation and Alliance Hockey.

They are a not for profit, non-share corporation and volunteer based organization with 2,250 players registered making them the largest minor hockey association in our city. Their aims and objectives are to foster, promote and teach amateur hockey within the City of Burlington and to provide the maximum opportunity for all eligible individuals to participate regardless of their ability.

There are close to 500 volunteers registered to assist in the running of the program, which includes the operation of about 135 teams. All coaches, team trainers and other volunteers are fully qualified, accredited and insured, in keeping with the guidelines issued by governing bodies of minor hockey in Canada.

Cups. trophies, plaques and pictures – all the signs of hockey players as they move from one level to another; from one tournament to the next. BLOMHA’s 25 coaches take several thousand players through the training and the physical development every year.

A key goal of BLOMHA is to provide programs that develop each player’s full potential, subject to talent, ability and enjoyment of the game. Hockey is a competitive game therefore we are organized into three progressively competitive levels. BLOMHA is the only minor hockey association in Burlington that offers a complete range of programs available to all players regardless of ability.

Harrington was grateful that BLOHMA came through and with “thank you’s” galore done, she adjusted to the great news and the extraordinary act of kindness and moved on to collecting the gift requests and making up the tags that would go on Christmas trees and then actually getting the tags to the trees they are going to go on.

It gets a little hectic for Harrington but the work is made so much easier when she gets a response like the one she got from the Bulldogs.

Christmas for Seniors is in its thirteenth year of operation.  It grows year after year.  Last year there were 3,230 requests; Harrington expects that to go to more than 4000 in 2012  .

There are  30 trees in Burlington locations.

Harrington does the work with no form of remuneration, she doesn’t even get gas money.  Everything that comes in is donated and it goes out the door to a senior who might not otherwise get a Christmas gift.

The names of people asking for a gift are collected by people who work in retirement homes, nursing homes, long term care facilities and  people who work one on one with seniors.

Jill Harrington, Executive Director of the Christmas for Seniors charity works with her son Noah sorting tags that will be placed on Christmas trees where people can choose a gift they would like to give

Each location is given a spread sheet file that Harrington sends them.  The names and the gift they would like are entered on the spread sheets which are then aggregated to create a master list which Harrington then uses to create the tags that get placed on Christmas trees.  People pick up a tag, purchase and wrap the gift and then deliver it to Harrington’s home.  “There is a box on the porch – it’s the greatest honour system you can imagine.  Elves come by several times a day and put the gift inside the box” adds Harrington. “I call them elves”.

The gifts are stored at Harrington’s house until the day before Christmas. “We used to deliver them on Christmas Day but there were just too many to get done in the one day so now they are delivered a day or so before Christmas and handed out Christmas day.

Harrington has what she calls “elves” – these are people that arrange for the collection of the gift.  “There are a couple of dozen people who have a key to my house; the just come in put the gifts in a pile and we sort and get them ready for delivery.

A little unorganized?  Labour intensive?  Could a more efficient system be created?  Probably; but right now Harrington is focused on getting the labels out on the trees and then getting the gifts back to her house and delivered to their Christmas Day destinations.

The request for the reclining lift chairs was  a little on the “high” side.  “It was totally unexpected” said Harrington but once I had the request I thought ‘what the heck’.  Let me ask someone and see where it gets me.”

Could be if that’s the way you choose to see it.  Harrington asked the seniors:  what would you ‘wish’ for?

How plugged up does her house get?  Well her son does have to give up a part of his room when Christmas is just a week or so away but they manage to find the space they need.  “At some point” Harrington admits, “we are going to have to change the way we run this charity”.  She is organized as a non profit but doesn’t have charitable status. “I don’t need it right now”, says Harrington.

If you want to help out – send Harrington an email.   Visit the web site 

The program is growing beyond Burlington .  There are trees set up in Nova Scotia and Alberta.  Not easy to administrate all that from Burlington and Harrington realizes it is time to move from her dining room table to an office and secure the funding to allow her to develop it into a national program. “We are going to have more seniors to care for – not fewer” explains Harrington and there will be many of them who don’t have family to both care for them and remember them.

The poster identifies a tree that will have tags identifying a charity for Children of Christmas Past.

Harrington has both compassion for seniors and empathy for their plight.  She is currently working on a book on “elder abuse” and assuring that older people can live their lives with dignity. Once that has been turned over to her publisher’s  Jill Harrington is going to become a regular columnist for Our Burlington and will write about seniors for seniors.  Should be interesting.

This project has been a grind for Jill Harrington; 13 years of running around every day for the last quarter of every year and putting in five to six hours every night, usually with the help of her son Noah and an hour or so more once he is tucked into bed.

“You know” commented Harrington, after a talk about where this project can go, should go in the future, “in all the years I’ve been doing this – no one has asked me what I want for Christmas”.  Telling isn’t it.

The gift from the hockey coaches though was gift enough for Jill Harrington.

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How about fewer drunks on the road this year so that Burlington is truly the 2nd safest city in the country. RIDE program helps.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2012  It happens every year and every year the Halton Regional Police scoop up people who are driving when they shouldn’t be driving.

At the end of the RIDE program,  the police publish their results and – well sometimes there are improvements and sometimes there aren’t improvements.

A really very solid part of the RIDE program is the work the police do in the high schools.  They take the students through what they call RIDE 101 – a chance to get a look – up close and very personal,  on what happens to the head when you put too much alcohol in the tummy.  They make no mention of the experience with the toilet bowl – perhaps that is a little too personal for polite Burlington.

Nelson high school students trying to walk a straight line wearing goggles that create the level of vision a drunk driver would have. Central High students get to wear the goggles this year.

Last year we watched the police have Nelson High students put on special masks that gave the students an opportunity to experience what they would see if they were driving with too much alcohol in their blood.   For most, if not all, it was a bracing experience.

The Halton Regional Police Service takes their show on the road again this year and launches the RIDE program December 4th with the kick off taking place at Thomas A. Blakelock High School in Oakville.

This is the sixth year the police have put on a RIDE program.  The  “RIDE 101”, a program designed to educate drivers, particularly young and future drivers of the importance and responsibility while driving and the consequences associated to mixing alcohol or drugs and operating a motor vehicle.

High schools from across the Region will be participating in the program.  The event will be at Central High School – 1433 Baldwin Street, December 13th  from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spot checks will be conducted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. out front of the school.

The night component will entail members of the student council assisting designated officers in speaking with drivers of stopped vehicles during a R.I.D.E. spot check and distributing ‘Think of Me’ cards and information pamphlets on the consequences of impaired driving.  The ‘Think of Me’ cards are hand-drawn and coloured by grade four, five and six students and reflect on that child’s perception of drinking and driving.

The police stopped 17,396 vehicles during the 2011 RIDE program.  564 of those people were asked to blow into the device that measures the amount of alcohol in the blood; 87 people were given warnings while 23 failed the test.

Failing the test means you get to call home and ask for help or call your lawyer.  If you are just warned you face anything from a three day driving suspension up to a 30 day driving suspension if you are caught a third time.  Should the police officer that stops you decide to take you into the police station for a test on a much more sophisticated piece of equipment or if you refuse to take the breathing test – you lose your license automatically for 90 days.

While Burlington may be the #2 best Canadian city to live in, it had the worst results in terms of the number of people warned or charged by the police.

There were a total of 84 different RIDE check points set up, 31 each in Burlington and Oakville.  67 driving under the influence charges were laid by police.   Burlington’s record was the worst in the Region.

There were seven criminal charges laid for non-drinking offenses, 3 suspended drivers were caught and 178 people nabbed under the Provincial Offenses Act – most of them were from Oakville.

The Halton Regional Police are grateful for the community partners who are supportive of this worthy endeavour, including:  the Halton Catholic District School Board, the Halton District School Board, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), McDonald’s restaurants and Tim Horton’s.


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Cosmetics company short $700,000 – thinks their former VP took the money. Police think so as well. Judge will decide.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2012  It took then months to figure it all out but when the numbers were added up ASK Cosmetics was short $700,000 and Detectives from the Halton Police Regional Fraud Unit decided they had enough evidence to arrest a former vice-president on four counts of Fraud Over $5,000 and one count of Possession of Proceeds of Crime.

Petra Ursula HESS (56 yrs) of Burlington, was arrested and charged on November 15, 2012.

She was released at that time with conditions pending the outcome of her court proceedings.  Her first court appearance has been scheduled for December 19, 2012 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Milton.

It’s going to be a tough Christmas in the Hess household.



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How different and unique could your Christmas cards be?

By Staff

Perhaps in your household the children make up cards of their own.  Laura Robinson, a nationally

Laura Robinson, a additionally acclaimed stamping teacher will be in Burlington in the Discovery Room of the Joseph Brant Museum

acclaimed stamping expert will be at the Discovery Room of the Joseph Brant Museum for a two hour stamping class that will have you creating six designer quality holiday cards while learning how easy and fun rubber-stamping is. Bring tradition back into the holidays and give something handmade for those close to you. Everything is supplied, all you need to bring is your sense of humour and holiday spirit  DECEMBER 9TH – 1pm – 3:30 pm

There is a fee of $25which includes all the material you will need to make six special cards.  Refreshments will be served and a tour of the museum will be included. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED.  CALL (905) 332-9888 or 634-3556

The first Christmas cards were illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The picture, of a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each and an industry was born.

Children and evergreen trees were often the focus of a card.  Some of these became collector’s items.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as were increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations and materials. In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer cards in America, though the popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market. The advent of the postcard spelled the end for elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, cards with envelopes had returned.

An example of a more complex stamped card – the possibilities for a message that is uniquely you, are close to endless.

The production of Christmas cards was, throughout the 20th century, a profitable business for many stationery manufacturers, with the design of cards continually evolving with changing tastes and printing techniques. The World Wars brought cards with patriotic themes. Idiosyncratic “studio cards” with cartoon illustrations and sometimes risqué humor caught on in the 1950s.

Nostalgic, sentimental, and religious images have continued in popularity, and, in the 21st century, reproductions of Victorian and Edwardian cards are easy to obtain.

Stamped cards can be simple, complex and very detailed.  You get to use your imagination and send the Christmas message you want to send.

The estimated number of cards received by American households dropped from 29 in 1987 to 20 in 2004.  Despite the decline, 1.9 billion cards were sent in the U.S. in 2005 alone.   In the UK, Christmas cards account for almost half of the volume of greeting card sales, with over 668.9 million Christmas cards sold in the 2008 festive period.

“Official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family’s cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. In 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card. The cards usually depict White House scenes as rendered by prominent American artists. The number of recipients has snowballed over the decades, from just 2,000 in 1961 to 1.4 million in 2005.

Santa hasn’t always been a part of Christmas cards but when he was the pictures were often bright and cheerful – but not always.

Christmas cards have been avidly collected. Queen Mary amassed a large collection that is now housed in the British Museum.  The University College of London’s Slade School of Fine Art houses a collection of handmade Christmas Cards from alumni such as Paula Rego and Richard Hamilton and are displayed at events over the Christmas season, when members of the public can make their own Christmas cards in the Strang Print Room.

An example of a smile and direct stamped Christmas card.

Specimens from the “golden age” of printing (1840s–1890s) are especially prized and bring in large sums at auctions. In December 2005, one of Horsley’s original cards sold for nearly £9,000. Collectors may focus on particular images like Santa Claus, poets, or printing techniques.

The Christmas card that holds the world record as the most expensive ever sold was a card produced in 1843 by J. C. Horsley and commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole. The card, one of the world’s first, was sold in 2001 by UK auctioneers Henry Aldridge to an anonymous bidder for a record breaking £22,250.

And that is far more than you ever wanted to know about Christmas cards.  If you want to enjoy an afternoon learning a new craft – try this event.

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If you want to see misrepresentation on a massive scale be at the Performing Arts Centre Thursday night. Incredible story.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 23, 2012   It started with  two good friends telling another friend about a trailer for a movie called “Miss Representation.”  The outcome was a group of woman doing something they had never done before –  Committing to spreading the word about an issue they  believed  to be paramount for our society in 2012.

One of the, if not THE most important films to be shown in Burlington this year.

So they did spread the word to a few friends but in their hearts wanted to do something more.  Their belief was “when we come together we realize we all share similar thoughts, experiences, concerns, and hopes – and we do this through sharing stories.  Our intention is to create the environment where people as daughters, sons, friends, wives, partners, fathers, husbands, aunts, uncles, cousins (you get the drift) will come together, watch the the movie that trailer introduced us to and then in conversation after the film, take ownership of an issue that is systemically hurting our youth (female and male) and all of us as adults.  It’s how women and girls are portrayed and perceived in the media and how this imagery is then taken and owned in society.

Lisa Bloom in THINK framed it well when she said: Twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.

The movie is not distributed commercially; the distributors didn’t apparently think there was enough money in it.  Groups of people rent the movie on a DVD ($750 for the thing) and then take it to a theatre where it is shown to as many people as they can get into the room.

That movie, Miss Representation, is being shown at the Performing Arts Centre this Thursday.

The film won an award at the Sundance Film Festival and has been critically acclaimed almost everywhere.

If you’ve any doubt as the whether or not this is for you – click on to the trailer.  Short two minutes version  or the longer eight minutes version.

If you can remember Dr. Helen Caldicott and her “If you love this planet” speech you know how a single event can change the way people see a public issue.  Miss Representation is one of those events.  For the sake of your daughters, your sons – and yourself – see this film.  Thursday at the Performing Arts Centre.  Call 905-681-6000


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Is the environmental message really getting delivered? BurlingtonGreen fights on – Awareness, Advocacy and Action.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 27, 2012  BurlingtonGreen, probably the best run community organization in the city and one with measurable impact, held their Annual General Meeting Thursday evening. There is enough of a surplus on their financial statement to continue doing their job and enough in the way of funds on hand to pay for the work they have in front of them for the next year.

BurlingtonGreen president Ken Woodruff and Secretary Susan Fraser hear the financial report at the BG AGM

The organization has come off an incredible high – the visit Dr. Jane Goodall paid to the city and the two very strong talks she gave; one to a packed Performing Arts Centre where students from 33 high schools in the Region took part in a daylong event.

That evening Dr, Goodall spoke to another audience that included the general public.

Dr. Jane Goodall spoke to two sold out audiences at the Performing Arts Centre – it was the highlight of the year for BurlingtonGreen and the event of a lifetime for a lot of high school students.

Dr. Goodall is probably the first international personality those high school students got a chance to listen to and interact with.  Goodall was always gracious and always prepared to listen to that “one last question”.  Tireless, committed and making a difference, she had an impact on a group of students that will mark their lives forever.

While the Goodall event was a spectacular achievement it is just a part of what the organization does.

The Community garden lots were laid out waiting for clients with seeds. The season turned out to be abundant both for garden lot users and BurlingtonGreen. A second Community Garden in 2013 elsewhere in the city?

The Community Garden saw the light of day earlier in the year and the city saw the fruits of that first harvest.

The BurlingtonGreen Clean Up campaign gets bigger every year.  Now if we can learn NOT to litter the CleanUp may not even be needed.

The EcoClubs continue to grow with participation at every high school in Burlington.

The Clean Up campaign this year was their biggest ever.

All this on a budget that hovers around the $65,000 level.

The group is tireless when it comes to getting their message out, which begs the question – how well are they getting that message out?

During the October event at the Mainway arena where some 400 people listened to an update on where things are with the efforts being made to ensure that there is never a highway through the Escarpment, someone asked how many people had heard Dr. Goodall.  Less than a dozen hands went up.

One would have thought there would be at least 100 hands shooting up into the air.  Is the cross between the environment people and the efforts of the Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition not all but identical? That didn’t seem to be the case which does say something about the way people in this city approach their individual interests.

That observation is not meant to be critical of what BurlingtonGreen has been doing – but is their message burrowing deeply enough into the psyche of the city?  Is there yet more to be done?  Of course the job is never done and in the year ahead BurlingtonGreen will be led by Ken Woodruff, President and Paul Haskins, Susan Fraser, Michael Jones, Chuck Bennett, Leytha Miles and Colin Brock as members of the Board.

Amy Schnurr continues as Executive Director. Michelle Bennett continues as the Go Local Food Network Program Coordinator and Kale Black serves again as the Youth Program Coordinator.


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Enjoy Christmas the way it was celebrated at Ireland House – a long time ago.

REVISED November 27, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 26, 2012    There has been a whiff of winter; there was a sprinkling of snow and there are Christmas decorations on many if not most of the houses on my street.

Christmas is the marketing event of the year for the commercial sector and a time for families to gather and be families.  It is also the celebration of the most significant event on the Christian calendar.

The kids are out of school and parents will be looking for places to take them and things to do.  Ireland House, one of the well run parts of Museums Burlington, runs interesting events that have a uniqueness one doesn’t see within the commercial sector.

Food prepared and served the way it was at Ireland House – a long time ago.

December  7th there is a very quaint and close to intimate Christmas food sampling event at Ireland House.   If you’re looking to keep your holiday spirit intact throughout the busy month of December, this is a very festive evening.

Period music, period costumes during an Ireland House Christmas food sampling.

A licensed event, with traditional Christmas food samplings and beverage tastings from the Ireland family will be  offered inside the historic Ireland House.

During the three hour experience you will  sample a range of foods such as Figgy pudding, potato croquettes, cayenne cheese wafers, Jubilees and parsnip and apple soup and also festive beverages such as mulled wine, hot toddies and traditional wassail, all prepared using historic Ireland House recipes.  This isn’t a intimate sit down dinner but rather an occasion to stroll from table to table to table sampling different foods.  The intimate part is the candlelight setting and the music.

There will be musical entertainment, a “Chef of Christmas Past” giving presentations at set intervals, Christmas Fire Cracker making, and a take-away.

You will dine by candle light with a roaring fire and end enjoy live entertainment by Pearls of Time—costumed historic performers.

This is designed to be a fun, celebratory evening; an occasion to sample various holiday foods made from historic recipes aided by festive beverages – mulled wine, hot toddies and traditional wassail! There will be heritage musicians, special presentations, holiday activities and a take-away.

An Ireland House Christmas food sampling, held in a quaint, almost intimate setting and enjoyed under candle lights.

Tickets available in advance: $20/person (there are only 125 tickets available!)  Not recommended for children under the age of 12.  Friday December 7th, 6 to 9 pm.

For further information on these holiday events, please contact: Sylvia Hentz, Special Events Programmer: 905-332-9888 –   Ireland House is located at  – 2168 Guelph Line, Burlington, ON L7P 5A8

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Pedestrian struck while crossing Plains Road East Sunday evening. Injuries were serious.


By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 25, 2012  Halton Police are currently investigating a collision between and vehicle and pedestrian in front of St. Mathew on-the-Plains Anglican Church located at 126 Plains Rd East.

Scene of a serious injury. Pedestrian struck by vehicle while crossing Plains Road East.

The accident occurred at approximately 5:14pm Sunday evening when an eastbound vehicle struck an elderly male crossing Plains Rd.

Police and other Emergency services were called to the scene and located a single male in critical condition.  He was  transported to Hamilton General Hospital for life threatening injuries (identity is being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin).  The driver of the vehicle was uninjured.

The roadway was closed to facilitate the police investigation but was opened later in the evening.

The pedestrian, an 82 yr old Burlington resident, is still at Hamilton General Hospital with multiple critical injuries.   The driver of the vehicle, a 75 yr old Burlington resident, was not injured.

Due to the seriousness of the injuries, the Halton Regional Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating.  Alcohol was not a contributing factor in this incident.

Any witness or person with information is asked to contact Detective Constable Chris Heffernan at 905-825-4747 ext. 5420.

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Can you become an entrepreneur without a Mentor? O’Krafka doesn’t think you should even try without one.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 23, 2012  Becoming an entrepreneur  is now fashionable; it’s hip.  And if you’re a budding entrepreneur then you need a Mentor.  Learning how to choose a mentor has become another arrow in the quiver of any  university graduate looking for a job or the person out of a job, which is the pool of people producing the entrepreneurs.

The Pythons’ Pit project, a Halton Rotary initiative being led by Fareen Samji and Tom McLeod, is getting close to its day of deliverance when applications have to be in for the $150,000 that is available for entrepreneurs who can convince a group of proven business start-up people that they have the right stuff and can make money out of an idea and their energy.

A group of people who have ideas  and want to move them  forward but need more funding to make that happen met at e-spot over in Oakville recently.  They were there to do early practice pitches on their ideas – sort of like a baseball pitcher being in the bullpen practicing.  This is the place you can make the mistakes that are going to be part of your success.

Tina Turner on the left with Donna Messer critique funding proposals for entrepreneurs who want to appear before the Pythons’ Pit.

There were a lot of mistakes made at the e-spot meeting.  Of the close to a dozen people making presentations there really wasn’t one that was fully prepared.  There were a couple of ideas that had potential and one that could be funded almost immediately.

Everyone has to start somewhere but the starters have to do more hard work and the people commenting on their efforts have to be  quite a bit tougher with their comments and criticisms.  At some point some of these people are going to get funded and if what we saw last week is the best they have – then a lot of money is going to be lost on ideas that have not been fully researched.  There wasn’t one person in the group that had financial projections.  None set out what they needed financially or how long it would take them to break even.

The critical comment was pretty soft.  You don’t do budding entrepreneurs any favours when you soft pedal the criticism.  The consumer spending their dollars will be brutal in their choices.  People want value for what they pay money for and if the value isn’t there, they don’t buy and the business goes belly up.  Not a pretty picture.

There was however some excellent advice given by Jeremy O’Krafka, a man who has made a business out of the mentoring business by organizing people who were interested in becoming mentors and people who needed a mentor but didn’t know how to find one.

One of his claims to fame is having held the World’s Largest Business Mentoring Event which got him into the Guinness Book of Records – and that is going to do what for his business?  A conversation ice breaker I guess.

While talking to people who wanted to be entrepreneurs O’Krafka, who can be found at his web site,  made a number of very, very useful points.  His starting point was that you need a mentor and laid out three tips for protégés to get themselves ready for a mentor.

Be Prepared advised OKrafka:  “Know who you’re meeting with – research your mentor before you meet. With all of the information that’s available on the web, there’s no excuse to not conduct a background check.”

Use your time wisely:  “Get to the point. There are certainly networking situations that require the customary social niceties. But, if the agreed upon purpose of the meeting, is for the mentor to provide advice on your business, let that be the focus.  One mentor told us how he called out the protégé he was meeting with, for wasting the first 2 minutes on fluff – welcome to someone who values their time.”

Take Action: “Strive to have at least one action oriented take away from each mentor that you meet with.  Do it. Follow up with your mentor to let them know the outcome.  There’s nothing that says our time together was worthwhile like a message to say thank you – and this is the progress I’ve made.”

OKrafka had some very solid advice – there is more that we will share with you as we follow the progress and development of the Pythons’ Pit.

Entries close December 1.  The organizers are expecting a number of entries from students at the McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business and from students taking business courses at Sheridan College.

The entries will be judged by six area entrepreneurs who will determine where the $150,000 seed money will go and may, if they see potential that interests them personally, invest some of their own money.

The  six are:

John Romano, owner of Nickle Brook brewery and operator of Better Bitters Brewing Company, is one of the six Pythons that will be looking critically at the proposals.  At 27 years old, Romano dramatically altered his career path: he gave up aerospace engineering to open a small home brewery in Burlington called Better Bitters.

Randy Pilon, founder and current president and chief executive officer of  Virox Technologies Inc. in Oakville, Ont., spent 14 years with Bausch & Lomb, where he rose through the ranks eventually becoming Corporate Vice President of the Canadian subsidiary. In 1998, Pilon founded Virox, a company with a patented technology in disinfection and sterilization.

Susanne Mikler, Co-founder and Owner of LC Liaison College | Culinary Arts, an organization that has more than 11 campuses located throughout Southern Ontario, Mikler and her business partner, husband Rudy Florio, have made Liaision College the fourth best culinary arts school in the world.

Nadir Ansari grew up in London, Ontario where his unquenchable curiosity and affinity for music, math and personal refinement came to life. After completing his Master’s thesis on Statistical Modeling of Bridge Loading from the University of Western Ontario, he joined forces with Brian Isherwood, to become partner and eventual owner and CEO of Isherwood Associates.

George Minakakis, is a Milton businessman and global retail leader.  During his tenure with the Luxottica Group, he was solely responsible for the Canadian divisions of LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut and Licensed Brands with a combined store count of more than 300 locations across Canada. He also served as Chief Executive Officer for Greater China including Hong Kong where he was responsible for the expansion of Luxottica’s Premium brand LensCrafters with over 250 locations.

Don Dalicandro is Chief Executive Officer of ASI, a software company serving the mobile field workforce needs of Fortune 1000 North American clients.  He has over twenty-five years experience working with large and medium sized companies in diverse business sectors including finance, manufacturing, consumer goods, oil and gas, field service, commercial office construction and leasing, retail and food service.

Grace Attard of the e-Spot, outlines the program for budding entrepreneurs who want to hone their pitch to the Pythons’ Pit.

There are a lot of people very interested in seeing how this initiative works out.  Do we live in a community that fosters innovation and creative thinking?  Do we have people in the community that will do the really hard work that it takes to get a business off the ground? Do we have mentors that are tough and direct with their critical comment or do we have people who want to play nice?

Personally, I didn’t see the kind of grit that it takes at the e-spot event.  Nice people, some interesting ideas but none were really fleshed out and except for one – there just isn’t a market for the idea.

e-Spot, is a place where people, wanting to develop a business and have an idea they are passionate about, might want to be aware of and look into.  Located at 353 Iroquois Shore Road  just off  Trafalgar in Oakville, with Grace Attar ready to answer questions.  They have a membership program some might find useful and provide various consulting services geared to those who are not ready for and can’t afford the big consulting outfits. Worth looking into.

We will follow this.

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Help the environment and the 200,000 people who make use of a United Way service in Burlington/Greater Hamilton.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 22, 2012  The United Way campaign isn’t going to go away – unless of course, we go right over the top and reach the $2.1 million Burlington target.  But if we do that – you know what’s going to happen: Paddy Torsney will want to set a new record for the city.  This is a very competitive woman.

The next opportunity to be part of a campaign that is easy for those of us that have a decent job, live in a secure setting and are amongst people who love and care for us; we are able to contribute.  There is an electronics collection taking place at Best Buy on Brant Street.

The United Way has partnered with Greentec’s E-Waste Collection program, which collects unwanted electronics that clutter up our offices, drawers, basements and garages – and recycles them responsibly, diverting it from local and international landfill sites.

Most of these would get dumped into a landfill or shipped to some African country where desperately poor people would scavenge to collect scrap they could sell. The Burlington United Way has arranged for electronic waste to be collected with funds then going to the United Way campaign.

On Saturday, November 24 from 10am to 4pm,  the public is invited to recycle their unwanted electronics including, desktop and laptop computers, cell phones, ink/toner cartridges, printers, stereo equipment and display devices up to 29”.

Here’s how the program works:

You take your stuff to the location in your community – in Burlington that’s Best Buy, 1200 Brant Street, Burlington.  They weigh it and based on the kind of stuff you are giving them a price is determined and the funds donated to the United Way.

GreenTec is in the waste collection business and recycling is a very large part of what they do.  They’ve involved themselves with the United Way with a program that has the amount they pay for your stuff going to the United Way.

GreenTec is an approved primary processor with the Ontario electronic Stewardship Program.  They have a number of programs one of which has them paying for the planting of trees based on what they process in the way of electronic waste.  It’s an interesting marketing model and if  it gives us a place to take electronic equipment we don’t want and put some money in the hands of people who know how to care for people in need – why not.

You were going to throw the stuff out anyway and hope the Regional garbage collection people would take it away.  All you have to do is drive to Best Buy and give it to the GreenTec people.

United Way gets the cash; we keep a couple of tone of stuff out of landfill sites and you’ve got more space to use at home – one of those everybody wins.

Now, if Best Buy offered you a 5% discount once you have done your environmental thing and you could sign that 5% over to the United Way – we would be well on our way to reaching that target.  Back in 2010 we had to give the Burlington United Way campaign a bit of a boost to reach the top.

Couple of conditions – easy ones to work within.  Display devices can’t be more than 29 inches.  Other than that – well here is what they will take:  desktop and laptop computers, cell phones, ink/toner cartridges, printers, stereo equipment and display devices.

I recently returned a dozen laser toner cartridges to a supplier I was very unhappy with – not mentioning any names but they are located close to the Walkers Line – Dundas intersection; I could have given them to GreenTec.

Millions of cell phones get dumped by users – they can be recycled. Keep the things out of landfills where they don’t do anyone any good.

GreenTec could not exist at a better time. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream worldwide and each year, for example, more than 300 million empty printer cartridges are generated in North America alone. GreenTec is responsible for diverting millions of pounds of electronics from landfills, in turn providing nearly $5 million in fundraising to its members in exchange for the e-waste they collect.

In addition to giving monetary rewards to its members for their efforts, Think Recycle donates funds to have one tree planted through American Forests or Tree Canada, for every 24 Qualifying Products collected by United Way. To date, Think Recycle is responsible for the planting of more than 57,000 trees effectively removing 8,700 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

GreenTec has placed a huge bin on the Best Buy parking lot and advise that they can get 10,000 lbs into the thing – 12,000 if they squeeze.  Let’s see what we can do to fill that bin – Best Buy parking lot – Saturday 10-4 pm.


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Meetup groups are popping up all over the place. Should City Hall host a Meetup?

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  November 22, 2012 Earlier this year I wrote about the BusinessInBurlington MeetUp organized by social media entrepreneur James Burchill.   Since that time I’ve been intrigued by the continued proliferation of other Meetup groups in the area. There’s a group now for just about every interest imaginable: books, games, movies, health, pets, meditation, drumming, careers and even odd-ball hobbies. Seek and ye shall find.

Not quite a WANTED poster at the Post Office but a good representation of the kind of people who show up at meetings of the Burlington in Business MeetUp.  Attendance roared up to 300 plus – which is pretty close to the capacity of the Beaver and the Bullfrog  pub at the Waterfront Hotel.

For those unsure of what ‘MeetUp’ is all about: the idea was started by two New York City techie entrepreneurs, Scott Heiferman and Brendan McGovern. The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, was pivotal to the formation of their ‘meet-in-person’ concept. Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman says that the manner in which people came together in the aftermath of that traumatic event inspired him to use the internet to make it easier for people to connect with strangers in their community. These young gents launched their ‘interactive’ website in New York in 2001. Now, eleven years later, there are over 11 million registered Meetup users and over 110,000 groups world-wide. In Burlington and the Region of Halton, there are reputed to be over 513 groups. Personally, I found about 40 Meetups catering to a diversity of interests in the area.

Meetups are all about people and the way they choose to spend their time.  In this montage photographer Margaret Lindsay Holton has caught the feel of a Burlington in Business MeetUp organized by James Burchill.

It’s easy to start a specific Meetup forum, (a monthly fee of less then $30 gets your group up and running), and easy too to join any other Meetup group for free. Add your personal tastes and preferences during sign up, then off you go. At all times the option to attend any Meetup is entirely voluntary. The point of all this ‘meeting up’ is to find friends and/or associates who share your interests, and then, basically, enjoy yourselves. One of the perks of this kind of ‘focused’ meeting is that a lot of preliminary ‘social sorting’ doesn’t have to occur. All attending know that all attending are there for the same reason, whatever that might be.

A sample of Burlington and regional Meetup groups follows. Once on the group page of any Meetup group, click on the Home Page to find an overview of what that group offers.

FTDTW or ‘Friends to Do Things With’ is a relatively new addition to the Meetup community having formed in January of this year. Yet obviously they’ve hit a nerve, because 87 events later, they now have over 500 members, 30 years of age and up. What do they do? Meet at bars, clubs, the Ribfest, restaurants, movie theatres and cafes.

Sassy Bookworms have been around a bit longer, and have a very loyal following. Started in July 2010, with now over 200 members. Sassy Bookworm Meetups usually occur in members’ residences and are limited to 30 or so sassy bookworms per event. They get together to discuss a new title by a different author once per month.  (You’re going to love their Marilyn Monroe-with-a-book logo!)

The Burlington Photography Meetup Group  was founded in April, 2010, and now has just under 200 members. Designed for both amateur and professional photographers, the Meetups are social photographic outings in the region.

Looking for alternate cuisine ideas? Try vegetarian with a friendly vegan groups  – The Burloak-Vegetarian Meetup Group or Danielle Roche’s inspired Eat Local Burlington group.

Details Happy Veggie Heads

As Eat Local Meetup organizer Danielle says, “After reading the ‘100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating’, I am inspired to eat more organic foods grown within 250 km of Burlington. It has been an amazing experience visiting farms, markets and meeting other local food enthusiasts.” Since August 2010, over 240 locavores have signed up with this Burlington-based Meetup group. There have been over 120 ‘local’ foodie events organized by Danielle. Now that’s commitment!

Interested in Salsa dancing? You’d be surprised the number of Meetup groups within a 250 km radius who have, or are preparing, Salsa dance events. Check out the very popular 400 plus members of the Llamas Meetup group of Mississauga:  or, in Oakville, the smaller group – Salsa Night/Noche de Salsa – Don’t want to dance, but want to drum? The 500 strong Burlington-based Naked Beat Drum Meetup hosts frequent events.

Tin ear, no twinkle toes? Never fear. The Halton-Peel Social Group (over 400 members) is hosting a ‘big screen’ event of The 100th Grey Cup between the Toronto Argonauts & the Calgary Stampeders at Philthy McNasty’s (Oakville location) on Sunday from 4 to 10 pm. A small $2 cover with RSVP is requested. Bar, big screen, beer, passionate fans: what more could you want?


Too much noise ? Ok. Try urban buddism’, or meditation, with the Centre for Compassion and Wisdom, founded in October, 2011. This group now has 57 members located in Burlington: Don’t like that group? Try Burlington Meditation: OR, join the Quick Brown Fox Meetup group on Novermber 24th at the Appleby United Church on Spruce Ave for a workshop on ‘How to write a Page-Turner’ Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo. His proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published. The workshop runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fee: $44 paid in advance or $48 at the door.

If over 50, single, and just want to ‘mingle’ for a bit, try the very popular 500 member strong Singles Mosaic –  Founded in 2009 by social director, Diona Szcerbak, she too charges a small cover fee for organizing these socials-for-active-seniors events. Small price to pay, really, to make new old friends.

 One of Burlington’s newest Meetup groups, Mommy Connections, just started up on November 1st, 2012. There are only four members. Hard to know whether they’ll be a success or not, because unlike many of the other Meetup groups that charge, if at all, a small ‘admin/entrance’ fee, this group is hoping to have new mums fork out $120 for an 8 week class.

Contrasting that group with the explosive growth in popularity of the Burlington’s ‘League of Extraordinary Ladies – (founded in January 2012, with now over 140 members), it would seem that Mommy Connections is off to a rocky start.

Still, that’s the fun of these Meetups.  Some ‘click’, while others don’t.  Like-minded gravitate towards like-minded. It’s up to YOU how engaged you want to be.

A member of the League of Extraordinary Ladies

A lot of the success of a Meetup group comes down to the personality, passion and administrative attention of the principal organizer. Jessica Dennis of ‘Extraordinary Ladies’ is passionate about “bringing women together for the benefit of gathering ideas, bridging business cultures and changing lives! This group is intended for women from all walks of life.”

Whatever your passion or interest, you’ll find like-minded people on

Still not sure? Consider this ‘what’s it like’ video.

Some Meetup groups can become victims of their own success. The Business In Burlington (BiB) Meetup frequently has a waiting list now for its monthly get-togethers at the Beaver & Bulldog on the Lakeshore. On average, 120 people get together monthly. Very popular with the small business, IT and entrepreneurial crowd, BiBers are working this social network to ‘get connected’ and ‘get ahead’. So, if you are interested, be sure to RSVP your attendance early.

One additional small note: once you do  ‘join’ Meetup, make sure you set your ‘group alerts’ for once a week, or once a month depending, again, on your level of interest, otherwise, you will be bombarded by incoming Meetup mail. This has been a growing problem with the Business in Burlington group. With well over 700 members and an active ‘on-line’ forum, email is frequently clogged with their updates and self-promoting announcements. Still, all said and done, it remains an interesting bunch determined to make their Burlington a better place to live, work and play.

James, the BiB organizer, is such an accomplished enabler, perhaps he could mesh a few other local Meetup groups in the region to generate a ‘living picture’ of the DREAM that is Burlington for Mayor Goldring?  There certainly seems a proliferation of paid consultants and INSPIRE events coming from City Hall that are working very hard to determine what Burlington is and should be all about. Maybe it would just be easier (and cheaper) if City hosted a monthly ‘Meetup’ at City Hall.

Sign up with Meetup here.

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.

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Two bus fires, tens of thousands in damages but the transit system is running just fine.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 21. 2012  Transit Advisory meetings are going much better these days. Joanne Vassell-Pittman ended her stint as chair during which time she did a marvelous job under some very trying situations.

Eric Pilon, formerly with Oakville Transit, is the new chair and they seem to be off to a good start.  With Mike Spicer serving as Acting Director of Transit  he had  some good news and some news that was not so good.

Two buses caught fire in a very short period of time.  One was a 2009 New Flyer while the other was a newer 2012 bus from the same company.

They zip in and zip out of the John Street terminal driven by well trained drivers who know what to do when there is an emergency.  Two bus fires in a two week period, while unfortunate, were very well handled by the drivers.  The bus manufacturer is working with the transit people to determine why the fires started in the first place.

Bus fires are  rare, not an everyday event and they certainly scare the daylights out of the passengers when the bus fills with smoke.

Spicer advises that the transit service has a well-honed protocol for handling these situations and in both cases no one was hurt.

The task now is to figure out what started the fires in the first place.  While both buses were New Flyers the two fires started in different parts of each bus.  The manufacturers of the vehicles had their technical people on site pronto and are working with Burlington Transit and the insurance company to get at the bottom of the problem.

Two buses out of service squeezes the vehicle inventory a bit but Spicer says “we still have more than enough buses in the fleet to meet the service demand”.

Should you happen to be on a bus when there is a fire – don’t panic and listen carefully to the bus driver.  They really do know what they are doing – and they will get you off the bus safely.

Serving on the Transit Advisory Committee are:  Eric Pilon – Chair, John Fuca – Vice Chair, Joanne Vassell-Pittman, Nicholas Civiero, Kevin Rahmer, Sonia Harrison, Brian Coleman, Jenny Wen and  Cecille Wyte.

The Committee meets on the third Tuesday of each month at city hall.

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Final stages of a project in the planning stages for more than 20 years. A Delta Hotel and two condos to go up on Lakeshore Road.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 20, 2012  A project that has been in the works for more than 20 years cleared another hurdle and is one more hurdle away from applying for a building permit, which the city will have to issue. The Committee of Adjustment approved all 15 minor variances asked for by Mayrose Tyco, the company that has worked to put a “landmark” structure at the edge of Lake Ontario.

What is now a flat empty lot on the south side of Lakeshore road will become a bustling construction site just about the time city council expects the pier to open. During the next three years, three structures will rise from the site – one 22 storeys into the sky. Burlington will finally have its landmark structure.

Committee of Adjustment meets to handle minor variances that a citizen wants made to a zoning by-law, usually for something they want to do with their property.

The committee has a chair and four members appointed to the committee by the city.  Each has a vote and the majority prevails.  The Committee has to answer four questions in the affirmative in order for the variance being asked for to be granted.  Those questions are:

1:  Do the proposed minor variances from the zoning by-law maintain the general intent  and purpose of the Official Plan?

2:  Do the proposed minor variances from the zoning bylaw maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law?

3:  Are the proposed minor variances from the zoning by-law desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?

4:  Are the proposed minor variances from the zoning bylaw considered minor in nature.

Get a yes to all these and you’ll probably get what you were asking for – but you have to get that yes from at least three of the five members of the committee.

Last week, we attended our first ever Committee of Adjustment hearing because the Mayrose Tyco Corporation was asking for 15, yes 15 minor variances on the three structure project that is going to be built at the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth streets.  This one has been a long time coming and except for one more hearing at the Conservation Authority the project will be ready to apply for a building permit and then the digging begins.

It will be the largest construction undertaking this city has seen for some time.  A builder hasn’t been appointed yet – the document needed from the Conservation Authority has to be in hand before they make that announcement.

But that Building Permit application is in the process of being drawn up.

The Riviera Motel is now nothing but a memory – the bulldozers were pulling that down last week.

The next step is readying the lot for the construction which is going to take at least three years.

The rendering needs a really close look to fully understand what the developer had to work with and what is going to be built.  Start with the open space in the centre.  Due to the grade there is all kinds of terracing necessary to get people from the street level to the waterfront.  No one in a wheel chair is going to get down that part of the site.  There is a curved roadway to the east of the large condo on the right.  There are opportunities for some very upscale commercial on the right side of the Courtyard in the middle.  Can Burlington support that level of commercial?

All three structures will go up at basically the same time – an eight story Delta four star hotel that will face Lakeshore Road and have an entrance on Elizabeth Street.  The building got an additional storey in height to accommodate the 152 rooms that are a must if the hotel is to have a four star rating.

The buzz in the community was that the hotel would be open for the Pan American Games in 2015 – not true.

The first look for the public at the Delta four star hotel that shaped much of the later design of the project. The entrance to the hotel will be off Elizabeth Street which will be pushed through to south of Lakeshore Road.  The 22 storey condo is west of the hotel.  An additional seven storey condo will be south of the hotel.

The thinking is that the hotel won’t be completed in time and Four Stars in the hotel business that  means quality – this one isn’t going to be rushed to completion.

The project is “four to six months behind our original planning” said Ken Dakin, the project planner who has been the project planner since 1999 – he was involved with the project as far back as 1997.  He took the committee of Adjustment through each of the 15 variances he was asking for – and explained carefully the wisdom, as he saw it, of the changes he was asking the Committee to make.

There was a couple of what some might call “slights of hand” proposals, such as the decision to treat the hotel restaurant as one of the commercial elements that  the Committee agreed to go along with.  Another was the decision to convert some of the space on the east side of the hotel into residential rather than commercial.  The argument put forward by the project planner, quite persuasively, and we thought correctly, was that commercial just wasn’t going to survive on the east side next to the walkway that leads down to the waterfront.

The 22 storey condo has a slight triangular shape to it; narrower at the south end than the north end which allowed for balconies that will give every unit owner a decent view of the lake.  Balconies were not as in vogue when the project was first put forward.  At that time the height was a proposed 33 storey structure.  That didn’t fly.

View from Lakeshore Road looking south to the lake – 22 storey condo on the left with the four star Delta hotel on the right.  The access to the Courtyard is in between the two buildings.  There is also a winding pathway that is already in place on the east side (the left side in this rendering) that leads to the waters edge.  The Courtyard will be a series of shortish terraces to accommodate the grade which is actually quite steep.

While the public continually said they wanted commercial activity to the sides of the open space that will stretch from Lakeshore Road to the water’s edge the builders are concerned about finding commercial tenants who want to locate and can survive financially in an area where cold winds will roar in off the lake on some of those colder winter days.

The hotel wants the site to be upscale and not have a Tim Horton’s that becomes a 24 hour hangout on the property.  Finding the right commercial tenants will be a challenge.  The hotel will have a coffee shop of its own but the site could probably support a second one that is part of the open space at the centre of the three buildings.  A family restaurant would probably fit in as well – but where does one go from there?  Maybe the Art Centre could be convinced to open up a retail outlet – but the rent would have to be a bit of a gift.

The entrances to the three levels of parking space that will serve all three structures will be at the second floor level and there will be just the one entrance which is going to mean some very tight scheduling for vehicles wanting to get in and out of the garage.

The zoning bylaw called for 3 metres of space between the edge of the southern part of the hotel.  Given changes required by the Conservation Authority there wasn’t as much room as the planners originally had in mind.  But at the early stage the plan was for a 125 room hotel.  The need to move that up to 152 rooms – meant something had to give somewhere and that give is at the southern end of the hotel.  Look carefully at the illustration to see the challenge the architects faced.

The pathway to the east of the Mayrose Tyco project has been in place for a number of years. It was part of a land transfer that gave city land to the developer in exchange for the pathway and the walking space along the edge of the lake. The 22 storey condominium will sit beside the pathway.

The developer asked that the requirement for 272 commercial parking spaces be cut back to 152 raised some eyebrows.  The project planner explained the changes that have taken place since 2006 when the parking requirements were put in place.

In 2006 the property was not within the city’s Defined Parking area.  That Defined Parking Area is a part of the downtown core that “shares” parking space in the several city parking lots.  Properties within the Defined Parking Area can forgo the installation of on-site commercial parking and instead pay a levy to the city to guarantee access to the municipal lots and parking garages within the Defined Area.

Somewhere between 2006 and today that Defined Area boundary got moved to include the Mayrose Tyco development and with that stroke of a pen – there went the need for all that on-site commercial parking.

The 188 parking spaces for the residents who will eventually live in the condos still stands.  What this means is a real tightening of parking space in the area around the site.

Accessible parking spaces also took a hit.  There were to be 9 – the developer asked that it be reduced to 5.  The argument was that if the commercial space was being reduced by 60% (that was the 272 down to 152) then it would follow that the accessible spaces would also be reduced by 60%.  Explain the logic of that rationalization to people who need parking closer to the entrances of buildings.

There were a bunch of other small changes that made sense to the adjustment committee members who spent relatively little time on this application.  Much more time was spent on an applicant who wanted to put an addition on a house that a neighbour felt would intrude on their privacy.  That one didn’t get Committee of Adjustment approval.

The Bridgewater project will be a welcome addition to the city – it will be a wonderful site to spend time on and will open up a pathway from east of the Waterfront Hotel through to where the pier will be located and on into Spencer Smith Park.

This picture taken from close to the walkway that leads to the waters edge with the now demolished Riviera Motel in the background give some sense of the rather steep grade the architects had to work with.  A lot of terracing was needed to accommodate the drop from the street level to the waters edge.

What is missing however is any sense of grandness to it all.  The condo towers will soar into the sky and be the biggest thing this city has ever seen but on the ground it will be kind of cramped, small in scale and nowhere near what we see in European cities where public places are grander in scale.

The sad part is that the money behind this project is Austrian in nature.  Pity that they didn’t bring the tradition of grand public places to Burlington.

There were four people taking part in the Committee of Adjustment meeting.  Their concerns seemed to be related to how the structures would impact on their view of the lake.  There are literally hundreds of people in the immediate area who are going to see a hugely different architecture in front of them and many will be very upset.  Nothing they can do now – the appeal period is close to ending.  Next step is a document from the Conservation Authority and then on to city hall for the building permit – which the city must give them.

A view of the drop the architects had to work with as they redesigned the site when the larger hotel became part of the project.  The hotel will come very close to the concrete pathway.  It is a very challenging site.  The Riviera Motel has been demolished.

The developers have had this property in their hands for more than twenty years during which time they have seen little return on their investment.  When the major changes to the original proposal were made in 2006 the thinking was that we would see construction equipment on the site within a year.  The recession in 2000 put the bollocks to that plan.  It was basically impossible to get anyone to become a partner in the project.  Minto, a highly regarded developer in Toronto and Ottawa pulled out around 2010.  Mayrose Tyco was then squeezed by the Conservation Authority who advised them that there were some regulatory changes about to come into force that would result in a deeper set back from the edge of the water.  That would have changed far more than the developer wanted to even think about coping with.

They landed Delta as the hotel operator and re-worked the site to give the hotelier what they needed and still keep the condominium part of the project financially viable.  Now all they need is a robust economy through to 2015 when the condo units will be very much in demand.  Getting to this point meant some compromises from the original dream.

They chose to create a tight site rather than go for the expansiveness that we appreciate in Spencer Smith Park.

But twenty years is a long time to wait for a return.  And it will be a wonderful place to live if you can afford one of the condo’s – especially in that 22 storey tower.  Wonder what they will go for?

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Has the final Jackson mark been made? Is the Walkway the last public performance by the former Mayor? Don’t bet on it.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 20, 2012 It was a bit of a mystery to many people.  Everyone knew why they were there, many attended because they were invited.  Some weren’t sure if they could just show up; there was apparently no security for the event which was an occasion to recognize the 35 years of service Cam Jackson had given the city as a School Board trustee, a Member of the provincial legislature and finally as the Mayor of the city.

Controversial and perhaps out of place at city hall, Jackson was recognized on the weekend by his friends for his service. His most important contribution, the Shape Burlington report which he commissioned, brought about a change in the way the city wanted to see its citizens participate. It was an important report and should be seen as the biggest part of his legacy to the city.

To give the occasion a lasting sense of occasion the walkway between the Locust Street parking garage, which was put in place by Jackson’s erstwhile foe Rob MacIsaac, and the Performing Arts Centre was named the Cam Jackson Accessibility Walkway.

Many remembered the work Jackson did while at Queen’s Park on behalf of many in the dis-abled community.

We are told there were between 300 and 400 people in attendance with plenty of food and drink.  Our commentator said he didn’t know who paid for the refreshments or for the use of the space at The performing Arts Centre.  The event was clearly a Tory Blue day; one with the Conservative faithful paying their respects to the work Jackson had done.

There was a mention of Jackson’s work as a lobbyist on behalf of an organization in the optical business but our commentator advises us that Jackson is no longer employed there but that his former administrative assistant while he was Mayor,  is still listed on the web site staff directory.

No one is sure either, as to how the Walkway came to get Jackson’s name put on it.  The garage is owned by the city, the Performing Arts building is owned by the city – which would then mean that the Walkway is also owned by the city – no?

The decision to put the name of a former Mayor on the walkway was never approved by Council – it was never even taken to city Council.  Was the fear that a decision would be one of those infamous Jackson 4-3 votes with the direction of the yea or nay never really certain?

Mayor Goldring was asked if he would attend a private event to recognize Jackson’s service and being the decent human being he is Goldring said yes.

Always there to help the “Sally Ann” former Burlington Mayor Cam Jackson, recognized for 35 years of community service on the weekend, continues to head up the Salvation Army Food Drive

Jackson was controversial as a Mayor.  There are still many who voice some very hard feelings about the way he served as Mayor.  One former council member who has been in place almost as long as Jackson was at Queen’s Park made the observation that “Jackson took on the job of Mayor as if he was the Prime Minister of the city” and that did not ride very well with most of the senior level of the civic administration.

Part of the historical and the political process is to bind the wounds and remember that the purpose is always the betterment of the community.  There are times when you have to hold your nose while doing so – but Cameron Jackson did represent the people of the city at Queen’s Park and racked up some impressive wins as well as some close calls.  Controversial he may have been but there was a day when he took 70% of the vote – not something to be ignored.

Jackson continues to serve as chair of the Salvation Army Food Bank drive.



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Is the Mayor’s “Dream Team” going up against a BurlingtonGreen vision? Will a rosy future for the city come out of all this?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012  We know a bit more about that Defining the Dream idea the Mayor has been toiling away at. About 30 people will be taking part.  The Mayor seems to have his Council members more on side than they were when he launched the idea.

We know there will be two former Mayors involved, Walter Mulkewich and Rob MacIsaac. (Can you imagine if it had been Cam Jackson and Rob MacIsaac?)  There will be two developers; Angelo Paletta – the developer the city has the most difficulty with.  One participant in the “dream team” suggested the Mayor has decided to have his biggest problem in the room rather than outside.  Might be an awkward day for Angelo Paletta.  Will Rick Craven be there to argue for at least some employment land development in Aldershot?  Any guesses as to who the other developer will be?

There are a number of “business people” who have contributed enough to cover the cost of the event.  What is disturbing is that the Mayor expects to see some new ideas come from the core “establishment” of the city.  Sort of like expecting a different answer but always asking the same question of the same people.

When discussing the event with the Mayor – it wasn’t a formal interview – we asked if he had any “oddballs” attending and reminded the Mayor of the idea former Toronto Mayor David Crombie passed along to Goldring at a meeting of the about to sunset Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee more than a year ago.

Former Toronto Mayor David Crombie speaks at a Waterfront Advisory meeting and tells them to “look for some oddballs to sit on your design committee”. Mayor Goldring says he doesn’t know any oddballs to put on the committee he has formed to Define the Dream.

The Mayor said he didn’t know any oddballs and hadn’t invited anyone that might have been described as a loose cannon.  Burlingtonians tend to wax eloquent about the waterfront and the Escarpment and crow about our being the second safest city in the country with the lowest expected growth rate between now and  2031.  That’s all within our comfort zone.  We don’t talk about the poverty.

The names of the people invited to take part in the event haven’t been released yet.  The Mayor explains that some of the invited participants have yet to confirm their attendance.  Maybe the public will get the transparency they deserve next week when all the participants are confirmed and the Mayor issues a second press release.

There is too much about this planned event that is being treated in a very tight lipped manner.  It is always politically foolish to talk about funding being provided by “business” people without naming them.  We are aware of a large commercial property holding company that manages a number of strip malls along Fairview as well as holdings up and down Brant Street, who is reported to have contributed a large amount and to have been a major influence behind the idea.

Angelo Palleta is expected to take part in Mayor Goldring’s Defining the Dream. Will Paletta remind the Mayor that he could have had a massive dream had he gone along with Paletta’s move to get the Tiger Cats into Burlington.

Property owners have close dealings with city hall- it is just politically stupid to get into bed with them.  Go public the moment as much a dime changes hands and thank them profusely for their contribution.

Mayor Goldring has said that he will report to the public on what comes out of the two solid days of meetings with  the 30 people. He will add to that what city staff, who have volunteered their time, think has to be done to implement some of the ideas that percolate up from the discussion being run by a very high powered facilitator.

We are aware of at least one participant who bought facilitator Lance Secretan’s book The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch and was quite impressed with the content and is looking forward to taking part.  This individual bought his copy – have the rest of the participants been given any background?   Our source said he was impressed enough with the content to give the book a second read.

Lance Secretan will lead Mayor Goldring’s two day private event with 30 citizens while they attempt to define the dream for the city. Secretan holds a PhD and has written a number of books. The Burlington event is being based on The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch, which one participant in the event has read and says he was impressed with.

Our source said Secretan calls into question the Strategic Plan approach to creating the way a city works.  Secretan apparently doesn’t have much time for mission statements and “visions”, unless they are driven by a very specific mission and a lot of passion.  Secretan looks for “cultural change”.

Good luck on changing the culture of this city.  Goldring put it all pretty well when he said “Burlington is complacent”.   When the “establishment” in this city realizes it is about to have its lunch eaten by someone else they will go through a very swift cultural change.  Until then they will do everything they can to ensure that the other guys don’t get to eat their lunch.  Complacent indeed.

The Mayor has said that he has been reluctant to release the name of the participants because he “wants them to have a safe place” where they can discuss different ideas – which struck me as a bit of a crock as I listened to Goldring.

One has to assume there will be a report from the event and that the Mayor will take it to the larger community and then eventually to a council committee.

This initiative doesn’t seem to have a clear communications plan attached to it.

While the Mayor does his “thing” BurlingtonGreen, never slouches when it comes to showing initiative, will be holding a “Think Tank”  session of their own at their Annual General Meeting on Thursday of this week at the Central Library.

“We are inviting our members and the general public to attend our Annual General Meeting which will include a “Think Tank” forum to gather strategies to support a brighter future for Burlington.”

“Our City is quickly running out of room to grow, making planning decisions even more important. We must ensure that intensification plans that forever change the landscape of Burlington and many of our neighbourhoods respect the environment and the rights of future generations. We are inviting the citizens of Burlington to share their ideas on neighbourhoods and what they need to make them more liveable & environmentally sound. The input gathered will be included in a report we will be submitting to the City as part of their Official Plan process.” said Ken Woodruff, President of BurlingtonGreen.

BurlingtonGreen president Ken Woodruff will chair the BurlingtonGreen AGM and participate in the “Think Tank” session they plan to hold. He is reported to be also participating in the Mayor’s Dream Team that is meeting earlier in the same day. Busy man..

Is Woodruff making sure the BurlingtonGreen agenda is clearly heard and not muffled by whatever the Mayor “dream Team” comes up with.

What`s really interesting is that Woodruff is also reported to be taking part in the Mayor`s two day event.

The BurlingtonGreen  event is open to everyone, and will be held on Thursday November 22, 2012 in the Holland Room at Burlington Central Library located at 2331 New Street. Doors open at 6:30pm, with the presentation beginning at 7pm.

Colleen Mulholland was apparently the force behind the decision to publish a Vital Signs report that some in the social services community thought was a little “spotty” and on the weak side.

Colleen Mulholland Executive Director of the Burlington Community Foundation is taking part, hopefully not on the basis of the Vital signs report they recently produced.  That report is seen by some in the city as a “rushed effort”; done by Burlington Community Development because almost every other city had put one out and Burlington needed a similar report just to be seen as being in the game.

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Taxi service pilot project works well enough to be done again during the holiday season says operator..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012   It is always interesting when a person who operates a business in the city; one that requires licensing and is overseen by a city department, suggests to the city that they might be able to offer an additional service and would like to try out a new idea.

Scott Wallace, president of Burlington Taxi did that last March when he took the idea of setting up a taxi shuttle service that would get people, who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car, home once the bars in the downtown core closed and to drive people from bar to bar during the evening.

It worked, sort of, and well enough for Wallace to ask if he could run the same type of service between late November and the first of the new year.  After very little discussion council committee said “sure, why not” and moved it along  to a full council meeting.

What was disappointing was that the committee didn’t give the idea a lot of attention and no one thanked Scott Wallace for the idea and the initiative he took.  The least he deserved was a “thank you”.  Maybe he’ll get that at the council meeting.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster chats with Burlington Taxi president Scott Wallace during the Downtown visioning exercise recently.

The idea was brought forward last March when Burlington Taxi made a formal request to Community Development Committee to operate a shuttle taxi service for the downtown restaurant and bar patrons. The proposed pilot was to operate during peak times of the year on Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. after which time the City of Burlington would evaluate whether this would be a long term viable.

Council approved the pilot.

Overall, while the pilot project was not a huge success, the idea that there are options available for people to move about the downtown and to take people home during the peak times was seen as an important move forward in the area of alternative transportation said Manager of By-law Enforcement and Licensing, Tracey Burrows, who has the letters  C.P.S.O., M.L.E.O. (c) behind her name;  heaven only knows what they mean.

The goal of the Pilot, which ran from  May 5, 2012 to September 1, 2012, was to evaluate operating larger capacity vehicles in the downtown core to assist in moving patrons between downtown bar locations during the late evening (11pm -1am) hours and then out of the downtown core in a more timely fashion during the bar rush period. (1 a.m. – 3 a.m.)

The Service Area for this pilot was bordered by QEW in the west, the Guelph Line in the east, Fairview Street in the north and Lakeshore road in the south. All patrons requiring rides outside of this area would use standard taxi services or other transportation of their choice.

Two Multi-passenger vehicles (Ford club vans) between the hours of 11PM and 3AM every Saturday night. beginning on May 5.

One van was used to shuttle people between different bars and began at Emmas Backporch at 11PM and drove a route:

1. Proceed to Pearl Street (Poacher)

2. Proceed to Elizabeth Street (Martini House/Dickens/Honey West)

3. Proceed to Brant Plaza using John Street Access (Joe Dogs)

4. Proceed South on Brant Street to Lakeshore Road. (Queens Head/Rude Native/Pepperwood)

5. Turn East on Lakeshore Road to Waterfront Hotel (Beaver and Bulldog)

6. Return to Old Lakeshore Road (Emmas)

The vehicle stopped for passengers at any point on the route but would not take passengers to any destinations off the route. This bar to bar service ended at 1AM. When the vehicle began to deliver patrons to any destination within the designated Service Area concluding service at 3AM.

Older Ford club vans, which were technically not licensed as taxis, were used during the pilot with the full consent of the city.  The multi-passenger service worked well enough for Burlington Taxi to ask for a second pilot with a view to making this a permanent service.

After the first six weeks Wallace found there was little demand for the bar to bar service so he revised the offering to allow both vehicles to be available to transport anywhere in the City of Burlington including bar to bar downtown.

Wallace fully expected problematic behavior to be a major concern.  He is “ happy to say that it has not been an issue at all. Our drivers have reported to us that for the most part the passengers have not caused any major issues.”

“The impact on Taxi Drivers Income was a major issue when we debated this type of service”, reports Wallace. “  We closely monitor driver income to ensure they can also make a decent living. When we compared driver revenue per hour from the same time last year there was no significant change. Additionally we had no complaints from our drivers about the vans being on the road.”

The total Revenue for the pilot was $3,425.00. The total Expenses for the pilot was $5,152. This only includes driver wages, fuel and insurance. It does not include vehicle depreciation or repairs and maintenance.

Wallace also reported that the pilot had limited impact on service levels. “They averaged around 80% which is considered good for this specific PEAK period. The use of the service was very limited with less than 5% of all calls using the service while having to be subsidized by Burlington Taxi.”

However the pilot did have some successes. “People were generally satisfied with the service and having another option of getting home at peak times. Additionally while the pilot operated during some peak months a good part of it ran during slower months skewing the ridership volumes. We had extreme high volumes of business during the Sound of Music festival and usage was very high, ” said Wallace

Wallace believes that “ if marketed properly and operated only during the peak months of November, December, May and June that this service could be successful.”

Wallace wanted pricing to be $5 per person anywhere in the City of Burlington.

Wallace likes what he learned enough to advise the city that he is in the process of finalizing a proposal to the city  for peak period taxis to operate on Saturday nights throughout the year.

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We are here to serve and the city of Burlington has numerous opportunities for those who want to serve their community.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012  Burlington, like many other municipalities across the province, looks to its citizens for advice, guidance and fresh ideas.

Among those currently looking for people who want to serve and feel they have something useful to offer are:

    Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee

    Burlington Civic Recognition Awards Committee

    Burlington Cycling Committee

    Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee

    Burlington Mundialization Committee

    Burlington Public Library Board

    Burlington Sustainable Development Committee

    Burlington Transit Advisory Committee

    Heritage Burlington

    Heritage Umbrella Group (HUG)

    Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee

    Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee

    The Board of Directors of Burlington Hydro Electric

Members of the Inclusivity Advisory Committee who put on a Civic Square BBQ event to draw attention to an initiative they developed. Advisory committees are not just attending meetings – lots of fun as well.

The Waterfront Access committee has been sunset by the city – shouldn’t have been on the list, but if the waterfront interests you – get in touch with Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and take part in the ad hoc committee that she formed when the Waterfront committee, formed by Cam Jackson before the 2010 municipal election, was shut down effective December 31st.

While we have not attended meetings of  every Advisory committee we have been to enough of them (the only media in the city to do so by the way) and we can tell you that some work very well while others are walking disasters where people shout at each other, throw documents at each other and get precious little done.

At the same time there are others that are close to sterling in what they do and the advice they pass on to city council committees.  The city actually outsources much related to heritage in the city to Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee.  It is an exceptionally well run committee but it has some deeply rooted differences of opinion on property rights and the role heritage plays in the creation of a balanced community.

The differences are real and for the most part respected – it is a pleasure to watch the dynamic created when different opinions work towards a solution they can all live with.

Working in that kind of an environment takes a level of maturity not seen on some committees.  So if you decide serving your city in an advisory capacity is for you – think about leaving your emotional baggage at home and go to meetings prepared to hear new ideas that might move you out of your comfort zone.

You’ll be a bigger and better person if you can do that – and the city will have the benefit of a public that has some skin in the game.

Terms vary from one to four years, with monthly meetings. Volunteering on one of our local boards or citizen committees is a great opportunity to meet new people, share your talents, and develop your skills while addressing a common interest.

The city also appoints people to various boards and agencies.  Several of these are reserved for members of Council.  If you’re interested – check into the city’s web site and look over the forms – and if you’re still interested – look up the names of the people who currently serve on an advisory committee and have a chat with them.  That won’t be easy because the city doesn’t make their addresses or telephone numbers available (they call that protecting a person’s privacy – if you want to be private then don’t get involved in public matters is our view on this)

Each of the Advisory Committees reports to a committee of city council and reports to them at least annually.  The more active advisory committees are in close to continued communication with the city.

It can be fun, it can be exciting and it can also be very exasperating.  But if you want to make a difference – this is as good a place as any to start.  If you do decide you want to try this – leave your ego at home.

Still interested?  Here’s where you start.

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