Cosgrove takes a pass – and we all lose. But he will be on the sidelines – watching carefully.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 1, 2011 The email started with: “I’ve decided to leave well- enough alone” which meant that Casey Cosgrove was not going to be a candidate in the forthcoming provincial election. He would have run as an independent, something not done very often.

Cosgrove was a candidate for Ward 5 during the 2006 municipal election where he came in second – just 480 votes behind Rick Goldring who then went on to become Mayor in the 2010 election.

There will be no election signs with the name Casey Cosgrove on the lawns of Burlington homes.

There will be no election signs with the name Casey Cosgrove on the lawns of Burlington homes.

“I will use my energies in the fall” said Cosgrove “to start a foundation ( connected to cancer support for young families), and may blog in my own straight- shooting way on the election , and try to connect Burlington voters ( more aimed at traditional non- voters) in that way.

I will also take up the offer and opportunity to share whatever support, ideas that I can to our Mayor and his team in an ongoing and informal manner.

A good one got away on us.

 

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Gold heist in western Burlington nets two suspect more than $11,000.

By Staff

Burlington, ON September 2, 2011 The house was empty and that was all two suspects needed to break into a Burlington home and steal jewellery valued ay more than $11,000.

The homeowners appear to have some kind of internal security system because police have the following description:

 

Suspect #1 is described as a male, Asian descent, 35 years old, 5’4 ” tall , 160 lbs, with dark spiked hair. He was wearing a red and white plaid long sleeve shirt and blue jeans.

Suspect #2 is described as a male, East Indian decent, 6’tall, 150 lbs, with short dark brown hair. He was wearing blue jeans.

A dark blue passenger van was observed parked in the driveway at the time of the break and enter.

The break-in took place sometime between 9 am and 5 pm on August 8th when the front door of a Pine meadow Drive home was forced open. Once inside, the suspect(s) ransacked the second level master bedroom and removed several 22 k yellow gold jewellery sets valued at $11,500.

Sounds like an inside job to us.

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

 

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Is there a career in policing out there for you? Halton is looking for volunteer police – no gun, but a nice uniform.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON August 29, 2011 – If you want to serve your community as a volunteer the Halton Regional Police Service Auxiliary Policing Services Unit might interest you.

The unit, that was founded in 1989, is comprised of trained civilian volunteers.

It is a demanding yet rewarding activity where satisfaction is derived from making a significant contribution to the safety and wellbeing of the community at large.

Halton Regional Police Service Auxiliary Members:
• Support the work of regular police officers on local crime prevention initiatives
• Participate in ground searches for lost or missing persons
• Volunteer at numerous, large-scale, annual events throughout the year.

For additional information and applications, please visit the Halton Regional Police Service website (www.haltonpolice.ca) or contact the Auxiliary Policing Coordinator, Staff Sergeant Robert Lloyd  at 905-825-4747 ext. 4705 or by email, AuxiliaryPolicing@haltonpolice.ca

 

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Pricey, pricey. How many complimentary tickets will there be?

By Jim M

BURLINGTON, ON August 29, 2011 – So finally, the long awaited, and much anticipated line up of performers at Burlington’s new center for the performing arts has been released. Power house acts such as World renowned Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka , Canadian iconic group Lunch at Allen’s and the play Jason and the Argonauts, to name a few, will grace the new stage of this beautiful venue in the up coming months. Perhaps the biggest name announced will be Sarah McLachlan performing to what promises to be a full house for the “exclusive” Red Carpet event to mark the inaugural grand opening of this Performing arts center.

Going through the Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s first season brochure, nicely designed and presented you find that average ticket prices range from $28.00 – $55.00, with selected discounts for youth and seniors. For a special evening out these ticket prices are affordable and within the reach of the average family. Let us remember that this new facility is city run and paid for by the taxpayers of this city. Yet to be realized will be the true operating cost of this facility in which more taxpayers dollars could be spent.

What is of great interest, is the motivation of the board of directors to price what most would consider, the grand opening, a great event to be able to attend, way out of reach for the average family. At $400.00 plus tax per ticket, what family could? Has this been priced this way to only delight the well to do and all others need not enter. It would seem it is only lip service from our mayor and city councilors regarding community involvement and inclusivity.

How does alienating the larger portion of this cities population from a city run facility by shear cost give us the taxpayers, the feeling… we are important! When will our politicians truly walk the talk? Let’s not hope we hear that the board of directors of this facility, senior city staff, elected officials, and selected public figures have been given complimentary tickets. This quite frankly would represent a double hit to us the taxpaying community.

Editors note:

We normally do not post comments that are anonymous but in this instance we have done so and want to add the comment we got from the contributor.

Further to our conversation, I was not intending to have my name published. I am trying to find a job in the area and don’t want to jeopardize my ability to obtain work.

Jim’s comments do not speak well of Burlington – that a citizen would feel he cannot comment on public matters for fear of not being able to get a job. Unfortunate, very unfortunate – both for Jim and for Burlington.

 

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They actually managed to get in under the wire. The lowest bid is below the $5.8 million that was allocated.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 29, 2011 – The city publicly opened four tender bids for the completion of the Brant Street Pier last Friday. Here is what the bids said:

BOT Construction Group (Oakville)- wants $10,503,350.00 to complete the pier. The “thanks but no thanks” letter should have been in the mail the same day.

Graham Infrastructure (Mississauga) a JV – $6,429,700.00 – that JV means it’s a joint venture with several different groups involved – that will require a much closer look on the part of the team reviewing the bids. This one however is the lowest number.

Rankin Construction, St. Catharines wants $6,714,234.00 to complete the pier.;

Zenith Contracting wants $6,703,160.00 to complete the pier.

Now some might look askance at those numbers and point out that the three in the $6 million range are above the $5.8 million council allocated for the job – and so Council should do what they said they would do if the bids were too high – take the pier down and return all the grant money the city was given.

But those numbers aren’t as high as they appear to be. Here’s why.

The bids had to include 13% HST – so the price you see INCLUDES the HST – and while you may not have known this – municipalities pay just 1.76% HST.

So let’s look at those numbers again. We will exclude the greedy little outfit in Oakville that wanted $10.5 million and focus on the three that came in at just over $6 million and do the same calculation for each one.

Here is the calculation.

We take out 13% of the price in the bid and then add back in 1.76% of the new number.

And that gets us the following

Graham    $5,692,290.57 or $107,709.43 under the allocated amount.

Rankin        $5,944,191.93 or $144,191.93 over the allocated amount.

Zenith        $5,934,387.99 or $134,387.99 over the allocated amount

On a. purely price basis these are very good numbers for the city. But then so were the Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd numbers during the first bidding round – remember, they were the lowest bidder back then. So the lowest price isn’t necessarily the best price. Burlington certainly now knows that.

The city changed its mind about the use of the trestle that belonged to a sub-contractor of HSS, the original contractor hired to build the pier.

The city changed its mind about the use of the trestle that belonged to a sub-contractor of HSS, the original contractor hired to build the pier.

When the bids came in for the original contract to build the pier current Director of Engineering, Tom Eichenbaum said the contractors that submitted bids were not given much more than a cursory review. The city didn’t make that mistake this time. The city hired Morrison Hershfield  to prepare a tender for a new contractor to complete the Brant Street Pier and also bought in project management firm METTKO in April 2011. Procurement consultant Cassels Brock was hired to help prepare a tender package.

There was a bit of a kafuffle over the uses of the trestle that belonged to a sub-contractor who just wanted to be paid or at least get his trestle back. That mater got messy but the Mayor stepped in and that problem got put to bed.

The funds to pay for what the city now calls “phase two” of the pier construction will come from the city’s capital purpose reserve fund

The plans that were included in the tender had significant changes that might create some legal problems for the city but that’s a different kettle of fish that will get dealt with later – and you just know that it will come back to bite us.

What one wonders is why the city didn’t give the public all the details – this is a good news story folks. But based on the news release the city put out, every one of the bidders was over the allocated amount of $5.8 million.

Now of course “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings” but the fat lady has a song sheet in her hands and she can read music – so Mayor Rick Goldring may have more than hit the nail on head when he said he looked forward to the opening of the Sound of Music Festival in 2013 taking place on the Pier with the Burlington Teen Tour Band marching out onto the deck playing a rousing piece of marching music.

Of the seven contractors that had been pre-qualified to submit a bid – just four actually submitted a document. There was at least one on that list that is seen as the best in the business and quite why they didn’t submit a bit makes one wonder.

Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services Department, leads the staff group that has stick handled this project to the point where the city now has at least three bids that on the surface look pretty good.  The details will get a thorough scouring from Stewart who is a no nonsense kind of guy.  He came to Burlington from Hamilton.

Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services Department, leads the staff group that has stick handled this project to the point where the city now has at least three bids that on the surface look pretty good. The details will get a thorough scouring from Stewart who is a no nonsense kind of guy. He came to Burlington from Hamilton.

The bids are now in the hands of a group that consists of at least Scott Stewart, General Manager Community Services; city engineer Tom Eichenbaum and Craig Stevens, Project Manager, Corporate Strategic Initiatives This group will review the bids and look at any of the provisional items that are in the document and then rank them and take their report and recommendation to the Community Development Committee on September 14th.

Everyone that counts within city hall will have had numerous discussions on which contractor the city should go with and the decision will probably have been made, at least in the minds of most, before the committee meets. There will of course be debate and discussion and there might be some surprises from any delegations that register to speak – but on balance – it looks as if the city has moved one more significant step towards getting the construction of the pier back on track.

A city hall source who was not authorized to speak said the bids were “good news with 3 very close and within expectation”.

Why did we expect them all to be over the allocated amount of $5.8 million ?

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A little early – but what the heck, if you’ve got nothing else to do – nominate someone – just make sure it’s not us.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 26, 2011 The Burlington Chamber of Commerce announced on August 9th that they are now accepting nominations for the 2011 Business Excellence Awards and the Mayor’s Community Service Awards. Closing date for nominations is October 7th . The awards will be handed out April of 2012. Guess they want to beat the Christmas rush.

Burlington just loves handing out awards and holding gala fund raising events. It is almost a cottage industry in this city. The awards are to recognize overall success and excellence of local area businesses and are given in several categories including Manufacturer, Retail/Wholesale, Service Industry, Small Business, New Product and Young Entrepreneur.

A new award will be presented this year to the Employer of the Year.  Awards are not necessarily given in every category each year.  All companies or divisions of companies that are located in Burlington OR are members in good standing of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, AND have a tangible business connection within the City of Burlington for a minimum of three years are eligible to be nominated.  Sounds as if anyone can lob their name into the basket.

Nominees for the Mayor’s Community Service Awards will be considered on the basis of criteria that show how they contribute to Burlington’s quality of life, making Burlington a better place in which to live and work. The first award to be considered is for a for-profit business and the second is for a not-for-profit organization providing charitable works or services in Burlington. The nominees must be located within the City of Burlington and not have received a Mayor’s Community Service Award within the past five years.

Does the Mayor make the selection? And if it is a “Mayor’s Award” why is it being touted by the Chamber of Commerce?

The deadline for all nominations is October 7, 2011.  To nominate a company visit the Chamber website at www.burlingtonchamber.com and click on Business Awards Gala.

All awards will be presented at the Business Awards Gala on April 12, 2012 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in Burlington and represents over 1,000 member companies at the local, regional, provincial and federal level.  For more information visit the Burlington Chamber website at www.burlingtonchamber.com

 

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Forty million will get you a great place to think, play and learn – but no Tim Hortons in the complex.

By Staff

The Halton District School Board is the lead on the new Alton community complex that is scheduled to open sometime in 2013 (before the Pier?). A contract to construct the multi use facility at the intersection of Tim Dobbie Drive and Dundas Street was awarded today to Bondfield Construction of Concord, Ontario.

The joint facility will cost approximately $40.2 million, to be shared by each of the partners – City of Burlington, Burlington Public Library, and the Halton District School Board. Site preparation will begin immediately, with the official groundbreaking anticipated for September 2011.  The architect for the project is Svedas Architect Inc. of Burlington.

“We look forward to working with our partners to bring this unique facility to completion, and to offering families a state-of-the art high school in north Burlington,” says David Euale, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.  

Representatives from the school board, Burlington Public Library and City of Burlington signed a three-party agreement August 17 at Burlington City Hall to move forward with the project with completion scheduled for fall 2013.

The last major development in Burlington is under construction in the Dundas and Appleby Line area and will include an integrated high school, library and community centre.

The last major development in Burlington is under construction in the Dundas and Appleby Line area and will include an integrated high school, library and community centre.

The facility, located at Dundas St and Tim Dobbie Way, includes a high school built to accommodate 1,200 students, a recreation complex, and a shared library which will be used by the public and the high school. A joint construction team that includes the City of Burlington, the Burlington Public Library and the Halton District School Board will manage the project.  Construction began on the adjoining Norton Park in spring 2011 where a skate board rink is being constructed.                                                                                 

The Alton Project will include a 147,069 square-foot (13,663 square-metre) school, an 11,840 aggregate square-foot (1,100 aggregate square-metre) joint integrated library and a 53,886 square-foot (5,006 square-metre) community centre. A common entrance, parking and other shared areas will connect these buildings.

“Families in Burlington will benefit from the expansion of library service to the Alton community while benefiting from having a high school and community centre close by,” adds Library Board President, Carrie Brooks-Joiner.

This shared Alton facility will include four competition-sized double gyms, a three-storey high school with a 200-seat auditorium, and a shared 11,840 square-foot (1,110 square metre) integrated library which will be used by the public and the high school, with flexible classroom and public meeting space.

In partnership with Burlington Hydro, the complex will support a rooftop solar system, which will feed energy back into the city’s power grid system.

 

 

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McKenna – more than a pretty face, but driven to serve the community is a stretch.

By Pepper Parr

This is the third in a series of interviews on the three candidates running in the provincial election taking place October 6th. Each candidate was asked the same questions.

Along with their answers are the impressions and insights gained from the time spent with each candidate. Some we had met before the interview – others were new to us.

There are those in the community who describe Our Burlington as a news source with a “Liberal” slant. Not true. As the publisher of Our Burlington my responsibility is to the community. On balance I personally tend to vote Liberal but have voted for other parties. John Robarts was a great Premier and Bill Davis did a really good job as well. One’s political party is a philosophical choice but my view is that you look for the best person to represent your community. We started this series with Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate, and then Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate. In this issue we publish our interview with Jane McKenna, the Progressive Conservative candidate. The intention is to follow up with the candidates as the election progresses.

BURLINGTON, ON August 24, 2011 – The one issue that come up again and again with Burlington Progressive Conservative Jane McKenna is family and community. The Escarpment is not her concern – “we need roads so that people can get from place to place in a decent amount of time.”

Jane McKenna, Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington in the forthcoming provincial election.  Ready for this level of public office?

Jane McKenna, Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington in the forthcoming provincial election. Ready for this level of public office?

She wants to be the voice for the community at Queen’s Park. There isn’t however a list of any length of the things she has done in the community. McKenna has been employed in media sales with a number of publishing and brand development companies in the city. McKenna was working as campaign manager for Rene Pepin who withdrew from the race. Shortly after Pepin withdrew Brian Heagle also withdrew which left the PC’s with no candidate. McKenna filled the breach and was nominated at one of the shortest nomination meetings this city has ever seen.

Just because there isn’t a lot of political experience doesn’t mean this lady is going to stand still. She has a lot to learn but she also has a tremendous capacity to learn and she is a tiger when it comes to going after what she wants.

The Mother of five children, all born at the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital she will tell you if you give her three seconds, has sold ideas or services all her life – and if McKenna ever calls on you to sell you something – get out your cheque book.

McKenna isn’t a thinker – she’s a doer. “I went as far as grade 13” she will tell you. “What you see is what you get” she adds. The problem is that there just isn’t that much to see. Perhaps we will see more during the Chamber of Commerce all candidate breakfast September 27th

Strength in numbers.  McKenna on the left with Halton Progressive Conservative candidate Ted Chudleigh and current Burlington MPP Joyce Savoline.  McKenna will lean heavily on Chudleigh as the old master shows her how it’s done.

Strength in numbers. McKenna on the left with Halton Progressive Conservative candidate Ted Chudleigh and current Burlington MPP Joyce Savoline. McKenna will lean heavily on Chudleigh as the old master shows her how it’s done.

She has the Burlington Progressive Conservative machine behind her – what isn’t clear is just how well oiled that machine is less than sixty days away from the election. The campaign probably will not want for money – there are some pretty deep pockets within that band of blue brothers and the cheques will get written.

The challenge is going to be to get out the vote – and on that level McKenna brings an engaging personality and impressive energy to everything she does. Can she motivate the Conservative base and does she have a campaign team that has the drive, energy and experience needed to pull this off? Many of the team come from the Cam Jackson era – and that is not good news.

There are those that believe McKenna fit the profile that the Progressive Conservative party had for the riding – a younger, professional, presentable woman. Burlington, while conservative has in the past elected women to both federal and provincial seats. Paddy Torsney, whose brother Brian is the president of the company McKenna works for, represented Burlington very successfully for a number of years. It was problems with the Liberal leadership that cost Torsney her seat in 2006.

Joyce Savoline was Regional Chair and is the current MPP. Women work – pick one that looks the part and go with her, would appear to be the criteria that was used to choose McKenna who got the nomination at a meeting that lasted less than 20 minutes.

For McKenna the PC leader Tim Hudak’s Change Book sets it all out and she tends to read directly from the book.

McKenna has good listening skills which she will use intensely for the next 50+ days.

McKenna has good listening skills which she will use intensely for the next 50+ days.

McKenna ran in Ward 1 during the 2010 municipal election and came in last. She was basically a Bill Carty sponsored candidate. Carty apparently had an issue with the city at the time relating to a property he had offices in and he had targeted the sitting Council member Rick Craven. McKenna didn’t live in the ward and didn’t generate much in the way of traction.

Keith Strong, a local conservative mover and shaker, is believed to be the conservative who suggested to McKenna that she go after the PC nomination.  She was originally the campaign manager for Rene Pepin who withdrew from the nomination race

Keith Strong, a local conservative mover and shaker, is believed to be the conservative who suggested to McKenna that she go after the PC nomination. She was originally the campaign manager for Rene Pepin who withdrew from the nomination race

Politicians have been known to grow once they are elected. Rick Goldring stumbled a bit during his first few months in office and he didn’t exactly inspire in the last election. He did however put out the best set of policy papers and he did have a very clear idea as to why he was running. He won because the city just didn’t want either of the other two candidates running. Goldring has grown into the job of Mayor and he has a lot more growth in him.

Does McKenna have growth within her ? No way of knowing that yet, at this point all we have to go on is a hope that she will grow into the job if the city decides she is who they want.

 

 

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Former school board trustee wants to serve the city at Queen’s Park. Will she get an upgrade to MPP on Oct 6 ?

By Pepper Parr

This is the first of a series of interviews on the three candidates running in the provincial election taking place October 6th. Each candidate was asked the same questions.

Along with their answers are the impressions and insights gained from the time spent with each candidate. Some we had met before the interview – others were new to us.

There are those in the community who describe Our Burlington as a news source with a “Liberal” slant. Not true. As the publisher of Our Burlington my responsibility is to the community. On balance I personally tend to vote Liberal but have voted for other parties. John Robarts was a great Premier and Bill Davis did a really good job as well. One’s political party is a philosophical choice but my view is that you look for the best person to represent your community. We started this series with Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate, and now Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate. Next we will publish our interview with Jane McKenna, the Progressive Conservative candidate. The intention is to follow up with the candidates as the election progresses.

BURLINGTON, ON August 20, 2011 – It doesn’t take long to realize you are talking to a women who has strong views and little difficulty in making them known. Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate for the Burlington seat in the provincial legislature, served as a school board trustee for ten years and ended that career because she felt her work was done, is now clearly ready to begin working for the people of Burlington again.

NDP candidate in the forthcoming provincial election Peggy Russell has her team in place and her issues clearly laid out and is taking them to whoever will lend her an ear.

NDP candidate in the forthcoming provincial election Peggy Russell has her team in place and her issues clearly laid out and is taking them to whoever will lend her an ear.

For Russell – the three key issues are: The infrastructure first, saving the Escarpment second – and “can I get back to you on the third one”? This interview took place before the provincial government announced it had approved the upgrading of the Joseph Brant hospital but that announcement wasn’t taking any wind out of the Russell sails.

In a statement made after the funding of the hospital was announced Russell said “… the Liberal Plan to finance the hospital expansion and modernization through a private financing scheme. While the full details of what is planned have not been released, the Liberal government has indicated that it will continue with the P3 model of funding that they have renamed AFP (Alternative Financing Plan). Given the significant cost overruns and service reductions that have happened under this model, first adopted by Mike Harris”, Russell says the community has good reason to be concerned.”

If you don’t have you family delivering flyers and knocking on doors then you really don’t have a campaign team.  NDP candidate Peggy Russell poses with part of team.

If you don’t have you family delivering flyers and knocking on doors then you really don’t have a campaign team. NDP candidate Peggy Russell poses with part of team.

For Russell the hospital is all about community and Russell’s focus is very much on community. She feels both the former Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government and the current Dalton McGuinty Liberal government failed Burlington by letting the hospital deteriorate to the point where it was not a very good hospital, but a place very much in need of an upgrade and the province wasn’t putting the funds needed to get the hospital back to the point where it met the needs of the community.

“We have people being taken out of the Region for health care” and for Russell that is “just not acceptable”. The announcement that the hospital will be upgraded pleases Russell but she is not going to stop beating on this “until I see shovels in the ground”.

Infrastructure for Russell is putting in place the services people need to live their lives in dignity and with food and shelter they can afford and hydro bills that don’t strip their purses and wallets of the money for those small discretionary things that give life some depth and meaning.

Russell doesn’t really trust government, yet she wants to be part of one – she wants to be part of a government that will put the people in communities first. People come before budgets Russell will tell you, and while that sounds good – services can’t be delivered without some balance between tax revenue and money spent on services for people.

Russell will argue, very strongly, that better administration and paying attention to the little things before they get out of hand and become big things, is the route to go and she believes that the New Democrats can bring that kind of government to the province. She makes no comment on Bob Rae’s NDP attempt to govern Ontario.

Russell was born in Quebec, moved to Ontario where she raised her three children who were schooled in the city. She worked as a Clerk for an Administrative judge and saw first hand the cases involving young people in conflict with the law who inevitably came from broken homes. They would get “processed” and then eventually released but because they had no marketable skills they would come into conflict with the legal system once again. It was a revolving door that is very expensive to maintain, says Russell. There has to be a better way and she certainly doesn’t think having provincial jail inmates cleaning trash out of highway road sides is the solution.

During her ten years as a school board trustee Russell served as the vice chair and negotiated seven of nine contracts signed.

Russell is rock solid on her opposition to any kind of highway going through the Escarpment.

Russell is rock solid on her opposition to any kind of highway going through the Escarpment.

Issue number two for Russell is the Escarpment and she makes the point that the issue over the Escarpment seems to be about transportation – which is fine with Russell but she adds that people are confusing the transportation of goods and the transportation of people. “We need to look at those two things differently” she said. Russell seems to be saying that getting a tractor trailer load of steel into Toronto isn’t worth destroying the Escarpment and North Burlington. The problem she adds is that if there is ever a highway put through the northern part of the city, the developers will want to build between that new highway and the 407/Hwy 5 road line – and if that happens “you can kiss the Burlington we know goodbye”.

As for the Liberal promise not to build the road, Russell raises an eyebrow and notes that “the Environmental Assessment hasn’t been stopped, has it?” “We can”, she goes on to say” “and should be looking for ways to use electricity to move people”.

When asked about the values that drive her she responded with “community” then “family”.. “If you are truly part of a community then you must contribute to the growth and welfare of that community. You get out what you put into it. You work to make it a better place, it is like being part of a larger family.

Each of the candidates was asked which comes first: the policy of their political party or the views of the community. Russell responded with: “The community, they elected me, I serve them. My job is to make sure this community’s voice is heard.”

When Russell met with NDP leader Andrea Horwath she says she made it clear to the party leader just where she stood on a number of issues. Russell is very good at making her point very clear. This is not a woman who minces her words. During our interview, the back and forth of questions and answers and follow up questions, Peggy reached out and touched my wrist and with a deep penetrating look said: “Pepper, you’re pulling my chain.” Peggy Russell does not like being taken off topic.

The Escarpment was major for Russell and the hospital right in there with it. No problems for Horwath on either of those. These two women would probably twin in terms of their thinking

Russell says that the politicians job is to be tough on the issues, not tough on the people. Her experience with the damage done to the province’s educational system when the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government slashed and burned by closing schools and totally trashing the trustee system we had in place. Russell is very blunt in telling you that the province is still recovering from the Harris damage. “We lost close to two generations of students through high school drop out because of that government.”

Russell explains that whenever there was a problem with Queen’s Park “we would drive into Toronto and meet with the appropriate people one on one. It didn’t matter what it was – we would drive in and make our case. There wasn’t one school closed in Burlington on my watch” claims Russell.

Former Burlington Mayor Walter Mulkewich held a fund raising BBQ for NDP candidate Peggy Russell then gave a rousing speech that reminded one of the days Mulkewich was running for office.

Former Burlington Mayor Walter Mulkewich held a fund raising BBQ for NDP candidate Peggy Russell then gave a rousing speech that reminded one of the days Mulkewich was running for office.

For Russell being open to every idea possible before you make a decision is critical. “I don’t know everything. When I am asked to make a decision or to develop a policy I need to know what people think – and in order to know what they think I have to listen. I have to make myself available. There were many times when I didn’t know how I was going to vote on an issue at the school board. I certainly understood the question but I didn’t have the answers and so I taught myself to listen. I was prepared to be swayed, I think that’s important. I was certainly assertive in my quest for information.

During the course of the interview Russell suddenly blurted out: My third issue is affordability – and then she launched into how critical it is for things to be affordable to people.

Affordability: Many of our seniors are in trouble. They want to be able to stay in their homes and maintain the dignity they had when they were younger and more active.

Russell sees caring for the elderly as one of our biggest concerns and with the massive shift in the demographics of the province about to take place, her comments are important if she is going to sit in the provincial legislature and speak for Burlington.

Russell tells her troops what they have ahead of them during a fund raising BBQ.

Russell tells her troops what they have ahead of them during a fund raising BBQ.

Russell says “we have to change what we are paying people who are providing care. It’s not about budgets, its about people. True, but the programs have to be paid for and that means balancing a budget. The province is currently so broke that it has to go to the private sector and have someone build the hospital that then gets leased back to the province.

The chances of the New Democrats forming a government in Ontario are slim to non-existent. Does that mean electing Peggy Russell is a mistake? The current member of the Legislature really hasn’t done all that much for the city. Should Peggy Russell convince enough of the voters in this city to vote for her – one thing is certain – she will speak loudly and I suspect very effectively for Burlington.

 

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Karmel Sakran – who he is; what he has done and why he wants to go to Queen’s Park. A closer look at the candidate.

By Pepper Parr

This is the first of a series of interviews on the three candidates running in the provincial election taking place October 6th. Each candidate was asked the same questions.

Along with their answers are the impressions and insights gained from the time spent with each candidate. Some we had met before the interview – others were new to us.

There are those in the community who describe Our Burlington as a news source with a “Liberal” slant. Not true. As the publisher of Our Burlington my responsibility is to the community. On balance I personally tend to vote Liberal but have voted for other parties. John Robarts was a great Premier and Bill Davis did a really good job as well; I voted for both of them. One’s political party is a philosophical choice but my view is that you look for the best person to represent your community. We start this series with Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate, and will follow with Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate. And then Jane McKenna, the Progressive Conservative candidate. The intention is to follow up with the candidates as the election progresses.

BURLINGTON, ON August 19th, 2010 – The three top items in the provincial election for Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran are the hospital, the proposed escarpment highway and the economy. He has developed views on what the hospitals needs are, the result of his e served on the Board and was part of the hiring committee that brought in the current President and CEO, Erik Vanderwall.

“Eric told me that all he needed was the funding to get the Joseph Brant Hospital to what it should be for a city like Burlington”, said Sakran. He added “the hospital has not had a significant upgrade since it was built and points out that the hospital has had the same footprint for more than forty years and that the community has grown significantly over that period of time.

Karmel Sakran chats with guests and supporters at a fund raising event held for him at the home of Dr. James Henry, Burlington’s Senior of the year.

Karmel Sakran chats with guests and supporters at a fund raising event held for him at the home of Dr. James Henry, Burlington’s Senior of the year.

Burlington has been waiting for some time to learn when the province is going to commit to upgrading the hospital. The city has more than $2.5 million sitting in a reserve fund waiting to give it to the hospital and a commitment to provide an additional $2 million a year for the next ten years. Should Sakran actually get to Queen’s Park one can expect him to follow through on his experience on the hospital board. But given that there is an election going on which becomes – make good on the promises time – we can expect an announcement on the hospital before the votes are counted.

Karmel says he has had two conversations with the Premier and believes there will be a very positive announcement very soon. “The leader knows where I stand”, said Sakran. As a candidate there isn’t much more the guy can do.

Besides serving on the hospital Board, and had he not resigned, as he had to, when he declared his candidacy, Sakran would have eventually become the Chair of the hospital Board, a position with a significant amount of social prestige. Besides his involvement with the hospital (and involvement is putting it lightly) Sakran was one of the founding members of the Carpenter Hospice. “I was at a Rotary meeting” he explains ” when Tony Goodrow spoke of an idea that former Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac had come up with, which was the creation of a hospice for the community. I put my hand up and said I’d like to be part of that. I did the legal work for what is a non profit corporation. I was heavily involved in that project which opened in 2002.”

Sakran then came up with an idea for an annual fund raising event for the hospice: Annual Wills and Powers of Attorney that has raised $50,000. since its inception. Last year Sakran donated the money raised the United Way campaign which he chaired and pushed the campaign past its target of $2. million. Sakran has certainly earned a lot of brownie points for his community work – is that enough to elevate one from community to the legislature?

Mayor Rick Goldring in conservation with Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne with Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran looking on.  The Mayor isn’t all that sure the Minister’s promise not to run a highway through the Escarpment is something he can rely upon.  Sakran is hoping her promise will deliver some of those old Tory votes to him.

Mayor Rick Goldring in conservation with Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne with Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran looking on. The Mayor isn’t all that sure the Minister’s promise not to run a highway through the Escarpment is something he can rely upon. Sakran is hoping her promise will deliver some of those old Tory votes to him.

The “promise not to build a highway through the Escarpment and a hospital announcement will certainly do wonders for a Liberal candidate – but 43 years of Conservative history isn’t easy to overcome unless you really motivate the voters. Can Sakran do that?

Throughout the 50 minute interview Sakran wanted to put forward what the government had done for the province and what the opposition was not being honest about. Our purpose with these candidate interviews was to get a look at the candidate and find out who they were and what they would do for Burlington.

We asked each candidate: which came first: their political party or their community. Sakran doesn’t say exactly which comes first. One gets the impression that for Karmel Sakran it is the individual more than the wider community that counts. Sakran says, quite forcefully, that one has to respect the listener. “You have to believe their intentions are good and see the best in them when you advocate on their behalf. I try to understand the motives behind what people are saying and believe in the goodness of the individual.”

He adds that much of the work for an MPP gets done at the office. I will meet with my fellow MPP’s and gain their support for something I want for Burlington. He fails to add that in asking for support for a project he will be expected to give support to the MPP for their projects.

Sakran points out that his experience as a lawyer is advocating and he firmly believes that while he has no political experience he can be a solid advocate for Burlington. “I will have to make my case but that’s what I do for a living” and indeed Sakran does know how to make a case. “It is really about how well you advocate, how well you do your homework, how connected you are to caucus – and that you are always “upfront’ with people. “Choosing who should represent the community boils down to: leadership, judgment and credibility”, according to Sakran.

Sakran likes the provinces Places to Grow policy. “We have to cut back on the urban sprawl and use the land we have responsibly. Sakran is glad there is a “consistent province wide approach and sees the policy as “cutting edge legislation

On the matter of a highway through any part of the Escarpment – Sakran is dead certain – No! However, when asked for his views on the current OMB hearing on the Nelson Quarry expansion, Sakran equivocates and says it would be inappropriate for him to comment on a matter before the OMB. “It would be irresponsible to not let that process go to completion.” The Nelson Quarry application for an expansion is all part of what is going to happen to the rural part of Burlington. The OMB hearing is not a court case; it is a hearing at which different parties make their views known. Sakran isn’t a party to the hearings, there is no reason he can’t make a comment as a citizen. But he chose not to. To me it came across as hiding behind an excuse. He is an informed citizen and surely understands the link between allowing further quarry mining on the Escarpment and possibility of building of a highway through that part of the city. So much for putting the community first.

When you are running for the governing party you’re able to bring in Members of the government.  Here Ontario Attorney General Chris Bennett chat with a group of lawyers.  Karmel Sakran, Burlington Liberal candidate is on the extreme right.

When you are running for the governing party you’re able to bring in Members of the government. Here Ontario Attorney General Chris Bennett chat with a group of lawyers. Karmel Sakran, Burlington Liberal candidate is on the extreme right.

Sakran is the kind of guy who goes after what he wants. After graduating from law school he decided he wanted to work in the criminal prosecutors office in Toronto and sent in an application. He got what he was pretty sure was a form letter response saying basically – no thanks. So he called up the person who had signed the letter and explained to them that they didn’t understand – he was the kind of person they should be interviewing a and he got an interview. On the appointed day he was sitting in a coffee shop opposite the government office at 720 Bay at 7 am “sweating like crazy” for his 8 am appointment. “I wasn’t going to be late for that interview. He got hired for the short term position.

Karmel Sakran is the son of an immigrant grocer who came to Canada from the Middle East so that his children could have a better life. Norm, his Dad was a highly trained professional in the Middle East and gave up his life in that part of the world so that his boys could grow and be educated in a safer society.

Karmel’s Father was the touchstone of his life. His Father supported his community anyway he could. There wasn’t a lot of money around, small convenience stores don’t generates piles of money but Norm was always there with a helping hand. Karmel is fond of saying that for years few knew him as Karmel. “I was mostly known as Norm’s kid.”

Sakran has an odd view on giving speeches. He feels better sitting with people one on one, but there are times when a public person has to speak to the larger community. Sakran prefers to speak from the heart – which suggests that there isn’t a full understanding of what it is to give a speech. Winston Churchill certainly spoke from the hearts when he held the spirit of the British people aloft during the darkest days of WW II. And John Diefenbaker was speaking from the heart when he shook those jowls of his and let Canadians know what he thought. On the speech level, Sakran may have something to learn; perhaps he was trying to differentiate himself from the public view of politicians.

It was both a fund raising event and a cultural festival.  Sakran, the Liberal candidate in the forthcoming election steps his way through a dance routine.

It was both a fund raising event and a cultural festival. Sakran, the Liberal candidate in the forthcoming election steps his way through a dance routine.

There was an interesting piece in the New York Times that talked of what politicians need to do when they make speeches – it is appropriate to pass some of that article to you.

“The stories our leaders tell us matter, probably almost as much as the stories our parents tell us as children, because they orient us to what is, what could be, and what should be; to the worldviews they hold and to the values they hold sacred. Our brains evolved to “expect” stories with a particular structure, with protagonists and villains, a hill to be climbed or a battle to be fought. Our species existed for more than 100,000 years before the earliest signs of literacy, and another 5,000 years would pass before the majority of humans would know how to read and write.

Stories were the primary way our ancestors transmitted knowledge and values. Today we seek movies, novels and “news stories” that put the events of the day in a form that our brains evolved to find compelling and memorable. Children crave bedtime stories; the holy books of the three great monotheistic religions are written in parables; and as research in cognitive science has shown, lawyers whose closing arguments tell a story win jury trials against their legal adversaries who just lay out “the facts of the case.”

When Barack Obama rose to the lectern on Inauguration Day, the nation was in tatters. Americans were scared and angry. The economy was spinning in reverse. Three-quarters of a million people lost their jobs that month. Many had lost their homes, and with them the only nest eggs they had. Even the usually impervious upper middle class had seen a decade of stagnant or declining investment, with the stock market dropping in value with no end in sight. Hope was as scarce as credit.

In that context, Americans needed their president to tell them a story that made sense of what they had just been through, what caused it, and how it was going to end. They needed to hear that he understood what they were feeling, that he would track down those responsible for their pain and suffering, and that he would restore order and safety.

These stories are called speeches – that is what leaders do when their community needs to hear from them. The full articles van be found at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/opinion/sunday/what-happened-to-obamas-passion.html?

The economy is important to Karmel Sakran. He understands the need for a strong economy but then all politicians say that – what Sakran wants to focus on is a stronger “local economy”. He doesn’t get specific but makes the point that more and better government involvement is possible when the member for the city is part of the government.

Sakran makes the statement that 90% of the people who live in Burlington are one pay cheque away from poverty – which I found an exaggeration. There are poor people in Burlington but this city is not a poor city and while there are never enough social services we do not have people standing outside soup kitchens.

Sakran trots out the usual line of public service being the highest form of trust one can have with their community that is equaled only by the trust people have in the police and the trust that one has with their spouse. Given the high divorce rate in this province one wants to look askance at spousal trust.

Serving the community is a job that not all that many people can do well. It calls for understanding the community and finding a way to balance all the competing interests and still be able to get the job done. Being chosen by ones peers is humbling for the community has publicly selected you to lead.

The Sakran family ran and still runs the Ontario Variety, a small store that has served the community for many years.  Karmel worked behind the counter and swept the floors and was always known as “Norm’s kid”.  His Father was revered and respected by his peers.

The Sakran family ran and still runs the Ontario Variety, a small store that has served the community for many years. Karmel worked behind the counter and swept the floors and was always known as “Norm’s kid”. His Father was revered and respected by his peers.

The son of a grocer, Sakran has a deep appreciation for the community he grew up in and now lives and works in. “Burlington is the hub of a collection of communities; we are the apex and play a significant role in the make up of the GTA” he explains. “For the longest time we were happy to be a bedroom community, an unappreciated jewel in the Golden Horseshoe – but those days are past. Queen’s Park hasn’t paid much attention to Burlington and I think that day should be past as well. We can’t stay silent anymore.” Sakran wants a change and hopes that people in Burlington vote for more than a tag line.

 

 

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Keeping a watchful eye – if you are suspicious – call the police.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON August 18th, 2011 Halton Regional Police Service are getting reports from homeowners about people they have seen lurking in their back yards. The Regional police are investigating a number of these reports.

One of the more recent reports came in on August 16th, at 2:20 am from a Maple Crossing homeowner who heard a noise coming from her backyard. The homeowner peered into the backyard from her window and observed a silhouette. The suspect saw the homeowner and fled the area.

Earlier in the day, a male suspect was observed in the area peeking into the patio door of another resident.

Halton Regional Police remind homeowners to lock their backyard gates and to be mindful of not leaving windows unlocked especially during the hot summer months.

Tough to do for those who do not have air conditioning. Crime can be prevented and lessened through vigilance and caution. If there something that you see that you think is suspicious – call the police. Your suspicion is what the police can work from – don’t hesitate to call.

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

 

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Timmy says “roll back the rim” and Wal-Mart say there going to “role back those prices”. BPAC is rolling back the fence.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON, August 19, 2011 More than $40 million later and the box office is open. On Saturday you can buy your tickets for the more than 32 events booked for between now and April of 2012 – and if you’ve won the lottery or your pension cheque has come in then you can pony up the $400. for the opening night tickets. Think this is for the fur coat crowd. For the rest of us – this is good theatre in a great building put up by people in this city who had the courage and the conviction five years ago to see great things for the city in the future. That future is this week.

The sound from those lips were the words “cha ching” which for Brenda Heatherington was the sound of a cash register – she wants you to head over to the Box Office which will open on Saturday, and buy the reasonably priced tickers for any one (or more) of the 32 events booked for between now and April of 2012

The sound from those lips were the words “cha ching” which for Brenda Heatherington was the sound of a cash register – she wants you to head over to the Box Office which will open on Saturday, and buy the reasonably priced tickers for any one (or more) of the 32 events booked for between now and April of 2012

The opening is a remarkable achievement and the people that made it happen deserve our sincere gratitude – and for those who have called the Burlington Performing Arts Centre a “nice to have” – don’t you dare look for a free ticket opening night.

It is going to be really nice to have and if you want to be able to walk into the building and just gawk – then be on hand Friday, the 19th at 10:00 and watch as all the dignitaries roll back the construction fences in preparation for the opening of the Box Office on Saturday, August 20, 2011.

Brenda Heatherington, Executive Director for The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, who will undoubtedly buy a new pair of shoes for this event (and Blair Lancaster may well wear who pink suede work boots) invites you to attend and applaud.

 

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Seniors in Burlington targeted by thieves in parking lots and retail stores.

By Staff

A pair of thieves, one male, one female are approaching seniors in retail stores and super market parking lots saying they are looking for the hospital and have a map in their hands.

Halton Regional Police Service detectives are urging seniors to be cautious if they are approached by a man and woman in their mid-30s to early 40s claiming to be lost and looking for the hospital.

The suspects are targeting elderly patrons of grocery and retail stores, and distracting their victims by asking them to point out directions on a map which they place over the victim’s wallet or purse, thereby giving the  thieves an opportunity to steal the property unobserved.

The female suspect is described as Caucasian, in her mid 30s to 40s, slim build, between 5’7 and 5’8″ tall with long dark hair and a European accent.  The male suspect is described as Caucasian, in his mid 30s to 40s, approximately 5’6 to 5’8″ tall with dark hair and a European accent.

Constable Wendy Moraghan of the Halton Regional Police Service works with seniors in their communities within the Halton Region listening to concerns they have and explaining a problem they should be cautious about.

Constable Wendy Moraghan of the Halton Regional Police Service works with seniors in their communities within the Halton Region listening to concerns they have and explaining a problem they should be cautious about.

Detectives have determined that the suspects have targeted at least six different victims since August 6, 2011. The pair appear to be operating primarily in the Oakville and Burlington areas, and targeting seniors who are shopping alone. They have approached victims both inside the retail location and outside in the parking lot just prior to the victim departing.

“Unfortunately, this is another variation of a crime targeting our elderly population under the guise of someone in distress and asking the senior for help – in this case, needing directions to the hospital,” said Cst. Wendy Moraghan, Elder Services Coordinator. “Seniors can help police by being extremely cautious when approached by a stranger asking for assistance.  Direct them to a store clerk instead, and ensure your personal property is protected and in your sight at all times.”

Constable Moraghan has worked with seniors groups explaining how they need to be both cautious and observant.

The Halton Regional Police Service Regional Fraud Unit is continuing its investigation into this case and are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying these individuals. If you or an elderly relative has fallen prey to this scenario, or if you have any information related to the investigation please contact Detective Brad Murray at (905) 825-4747 Ext 8982 or by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

 

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Regional heath workers report more West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes being found.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON August 17, 2011 Reports of new batch of mosquitoes collected last week have tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the 14th batch of mosquitoes collected this year and for the first time positive testing mosquitoes were found in Action.

We are still in a the West Nile Virus season and as the map shown below indicates there are more pools of infected mosquitoes being found. In Burlington the following are locations where mosquitoes were captured:

  • New Street and Guelph Line (4 pools)
  • Upper Middle Road and Walkers Line (2 pools)
  • Lakeshore Road and Appleby
  • Guelph Line and Dundas

Halton health services report that their “surveillance indicates that there is a risk of West Nile virus infection throughout the Region this year and there are still several weeks of summer to go,” said Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “It is important that all Halton residents continue to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites throughout the rest of the summer.”

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on birds carrying the virus. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from

The Regional map showing where mosquitoes were captured is set out below:

 

 

Using the appropriate repellent and long sleeve shirts are first line of defense measures you can take. For more on what West Nile Virus is and how it is transmitted please click here. For details on Burlington area infected mosquito locations click here.

 

 

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Pier tender opening moved back to Wednesday the 24th – could be later date. Good news? Depends on trestle decison.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 17th, 2010 Some things go smooth as silk and others – well there is just bump after bump. The date for the opening of the tenders for the completion of construction of the Brant Street Pier has been moved back to August 24th.. It might get pushed back a little further. A total of five addendums have been issued by the city. An addendum is a document that sets out a question a contractor has asked and the answer the city has given. The rules of the tender approach to getting the best price is that every gets all the information that is handed out.

The trestle is a vital piece of equipment needed to complete construction of the Pier.  The one shown above would have to be re-tested to insure that it is safe for us before any construction equipment can be placed on it.  No one is taking any chances on safety with this project.  Owners of the trestle don’t want to pay for testing – city says then remove it.

The trestle is a vital piece of equipment needed to complete construction of the Pier. The one shown above would have to be re-tested to insure that it is safe for us before any construction equipment can be placed on it. No one is taking any chances on safety with this project. Owners of the trestle don’t want to pay for testing – city says then remove it.

As things stand now – the bids have to be in the hands of the city Engineering department no later than 2:00 pm on Wednesday the 24th and will be opened 15 minutes later in Room 247.

As has been pointed out before the number that gets read out at the public opening is the price the contractor says they are willing to complete the construction of the Pier for – however, more often than not there are conditions and small adjustments and comments made by the contractors and what appears to be the lowest price at first glance turns out not to be the lowest upon review and inspection. This is why the engineering department will take away the bids and review and analyze and then take them to the appropriate Council committee where they will be debated and get voted upon and then passed along to full Council where they get voted on and – after that – we have a deal.

Everyone at Engineering can’t wait until the envelopes with the numbers are opened. That there are delays in the opening tenders date is a sign that the contractors are asking a lot of questions – one of which might be is there a trestle we can use?

The following constructions firms picked up tender packages – a 40 page document with a roll of drawings and a bunch of forms that had to be filled in: ConCrete USL Limited; Toronto Zenith Contracting Limited; Belor Construction Ltd; Rankin Construction Inc.; Bot Construction; PCL Construction Canada Inc. and Graham Infrastructure. According the city staff all the construction firms are still in the game.

There are some top ranked firms in the list. The city has indicated that it has $5.8 million left in the piggy bank for this project, which lets the contractors know that the city is serious, but that there is a limit as to what they are prepared to pay out to have the project finished.

Peter Smith of Bermingham wants his trestle back – the city says he can have it – they want him to get it out of the construction site by the end of September.  One of those careful what you ask for situations?

Peter Smith of Bermingham wants his trestle back – the city says he can have it – they want him to get it out of the construction site by the end of September. One of those careful what you ask for situations?

The trestle is one of the issues that now has to be worked out. The thing may no longer be certified to take the load that would be put on it once heavy equipment is brought in. The owner of the trestle is getting a little antsy about being paid and is putting the squeeze on the people who appear to be paying the bills. HSS got more than $4 million from the city – they are the ones who should be paying that Bermingham Construction invoices.)

The present tender calls for the removal of the existing trestle by the new contractor.

While it has been a bumpy road the Mayor has consistently said he will see this project through but that he is not going to pay both an arm and a leg to get the Pier built. $5.8 million – but you know it is going to creep a bit higher than that.

 

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Take that Paul Hellyer. Government announces the navy is Royal once again. Break out the rum, tots for all

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 16, 2011 The federal government announced today that the ships at sea, which have been until now known as the Maritime Command, will now again be referred to as the Royal Canadian Navy and the air force would be known as the Royal Canadian Air Force.

They were always the Royal Canadian Navy.  The government just forgot to use the words for the last 45 years.

They were always the Royal Canadian Navy. The government just forgot to use the words for the last 45 years.

In 1968 then Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer, took away the Royal reference as part of his drive to integrate the three armed forces.

Now perhaps they will fly the white ensign and get things back to where they were before the politicians got silly.

Finally, some common sense and a respect for tradition and history has returned to the country. Hopefully they will serve us a double ration of rum today.

 

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Ontario Municipal Board has another customer, Queensway community wants a hearing.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 15, 2011 – The Queensway community, that collection of neat, smallish houses on really large lots south of the QEW and west of Guelph Line has decided they don’t think they have to accept the decision of city council to let a developer put up 54 units on land that had just six dwellings and they have taken their complaint to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) where they will argue their case for a reduction in the number of units.

Until there is a decision, the develop has to sit on his hands and wait. Richard Szymczyk, the very able community spokesperson is leading the effort even though he no longer lives in the community. His view is that he doesn’t want to abandon his neighbours even though he doesn’t live amongst them.

Sign selling homes that may not get built for some time..

Sign selling homes that may not get built for some time..

Szymczyk put forward a pretty sound argument at the committee level where his neighbours were also heard. When the matter got to Council, Szymczyk got cut short and wasn’t given time to complete his delegation. He had gone past the five minutes allotted but others had been given a little extra time in the past. Queensway didn’t get that courtesy.

Burlington knows that it has to intensify and the Queensway community looked like a good place to add additional housing – most felt that going from 6 to 54 was just a bit too much. Let’s see what the OMB thinks.

When the community took their argument to city council they failed to convince a majority that the development was far too big. Szymczyk had a number of very capable communicators with him – it will be interesting to see how the OMB reacts to their concerns.

We will try to keep you posted.

 

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Is there an independent candidate about to declare his intention to run October 6th ? Sounds like Casey Cosgrove wants to run.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 15th, 2011 – Elections are fascinating events. People talk about who is going to run for public office and who is ahead and why this person should hold office and why this person shouldn’t.

We organize our elections around political parties whose members decide who their candidate will be. The political party that wins the most seats forms the government. We’ve been doing it that was since Confederation. However, one does not have to belong to a political party to run for public office. A person can deice to run as an independent and not be attached to a political party. There is an honourable tradition of independents in this country – and Burlington just might produce the next independent to sit in the provincial legislature.

Casey Cosgrove – running as an independent?

Casey Cosgrove – running as an independent?

It all seemed to start with some chatter on the internet between Casey Cosgrove, Lawrence Winterburn and Brian Heagle. Here is the way the Facebook chatter went.

Casey Cosgrove had made a comment about the way the provincial election was going and Brian Heagle, 2009 Citizen of the Year, candidate for Ward 4 in the last municipal election and a candidate for the Progressive Conservative nomination before he withdrew replied:

Heagle wrote: “Casey, I didn’t realize you spoke Daltonese – and in several languages!. The decision to “green light” redevelopment is opportunistic, but not just for Liberals with their vote-getting timing. It’s the chance for Burlington voters to elect an MPP who understands and will support the community for such a vitally important concern – regardless of political orientation, or who may want to “kill the deal”. Voters need to look closely at the individual, not so much their Party, in this case. We will need a true local champion with integrity, smarts and tenacity to keep the “green light” on after October 6.”

Cosgrove, who was a candidate in Ward 5 in the 2006 election and came a very respectable second (480 votes behind Rick Goldring who won and went on to challenge Mayor Cam Jackson in 2010 and won at that level as well.) Cosgrove is the director of the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy (CCFL), which is a division of the national charitable organization and also teaches at Guelph University, Casey responded: “..now you’ve got me thinking of running as an independent in October. gosh, just when things were quieting down around here..”

Lawrence Winterburn then jumped in with:

“Paying wealthy people to put up solar panels, increasing taxes in the middle of a recession-(no Ontario isn’t even close to back where we were-regardless of propaganda-), Trading good paying jobs for part time retail sounds like a progressive plan. Ontario has great leadership presently…. of course I have a 60 IQ and I am blind from starvation…but yes, re-elect Dalton. Casey–you will notice this is a non- partisan comment, any party is fine with me too, I just want somebody with benevolence, intellect and honorable intent.”

Heagle came back with:

“Casey, I believe Lawrence may have just provided your campaign for MPP with a great slogan: “Cosgrove – The Benevolent Independent”.”

Cosgrove wasn’t going to let that stand and came back with:

“I don’t use words I can’t define. I don’t like independent, I prefer interdependent. Brian, I have a couple hundred ‘engage, listen, lead’ signs that have been rotting behind the shed for 6 years – I may just use those. I also have 2 old Heagle signs back there if you want them :)”

The dialogue then took a surprising twist when Casey wrote:

“Brian, I will credit you and one other friend-Chris K, for getting me worked up enough that I may just do this. so tired of all three leaders…just cleared it with Bryna.. Looks like one more kick at the can for me :). Larry – I know you will join my team!”

Later in the day Cosgrove goes public – sort of ands says:

Musing today about a run in the fall election as an independent (interdependent). Not sure I could sit under a banner of any of the three party leaders at this point, so why not just run under my own ‘Burlington ‘ banner? Am I joking? Not really. Bryna just smiled, gave me that ‘uh,oh, I see that look in your eyes’ glance….hmmm, decisions, decisions.. 🙂

In a message sent to us from Cosgrove he said:I clearly don’t mind people knowing I’m frustrated enough to be thinking about this, but I wanted you to know I will spend the next couple weeks at the cottage with the family before even considering jumping in. Just wanted to be up front with you.

Cosgrove seems to have said he could be an independent candidate and go after the Burlington seat at Queen’s Park. Wow, this social media does make things happen. We may not use the media the way the thugs in London use it and we may not use it to take to the streets the way they did in Cairo – but seeing it used to bring another candidate to the surface. Amazing, truly amazing.

 

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It is going to happen –Joe Brant is getting an upgrade. No operating rooms soon though, parking garage comes first.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 11, 2010 The announcement to expand Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is a reason to celebrate,” said Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate in Burlington.

Hamilton Mountain MPP Sophia Aggelonitis and Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MPP Ted McMeekin, on behalf of Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews, announced funding for the long awaited expansion of the hospital.

“As a kid, I lived two blocks from Joseph Brant and I determined some day I would be part of that great hospital. Like you, I have seen Joseph Brant neglected by one government after another and not receive needed expansion funding. As a member of the Hospital Board that put the strategic plan together over the last two years, I am proud to see the McGuinty government respond to our plan and approve the expansion,” Sakran said.

Anyone who was anybody was there – but not a dollar to be seen from the provincial government

Anyone who was anybody was there – but not a dollar to be seen from the provincial government

Sakran said one of the reasons he’s running is the McGuinty Government’s commitment to healthcare. “Dalton McGuinty expands and builds new hospitals. Unlike the previous PC government which shut the doors on 28 hospitals during the Harris/Hudak years” said Sakran

“I congratulate our community and the government for working together in a co-operative spirit that is moving us forward. Now we must carefully engage in the planning process to ensure that we get the expansion right for the people of Burlington,” said Sakran.

That was Karmel Sakran’s take on the announce made Wednesday afternoon at an elaborately event that included a large white tent for the assembled dignitaries who made speech after speech – but the odd part was that no one said exactly how much money the government was going to spend or what kind of a partnership there would be or when construction would start. The audience was told that the hospital was going to be expanded – that is WAS going to happen.

It would help if the financing of the upgrade were a little clearer. Burlington citizens have had a small levy for the hospital improvement added to their tax bills – $4 for every $100,000 of assessment. And the city has $4.8 million sitting in a bank account that the hospital would like to see sent their way yesterday, but that money isn’t going to move until there is a Memorandum of Agreement in place.

The hospital foundation has said it will raise $60 million – so we have $120 million coming from the community.

Ted McMeekin announcing that the government will put up some of the money for a major upgrade to the hospital.  Didn’t say how much or when the check might be in the mail.  Burlington has committed $60 million.  I thought health was a provincial responsibility.

Ted McMeekin announcing that the government will put up some of the money for a major upgrade to the hospital. Didn’t say how much or when the check might be in the mail. Burlington has committed $60 million. I thought health was a provincial responsibility.

McMeekin, who was once a patient at the hospital, didn’t put out any numbers but the hospital has been working with a figure of $312 million. The understanding is that the province will use its Alternative Funding Plan (AFP) to get the hospital upgraded. The AFP is a plan that has private contractors building the hospital and then maintaining it for a period of time, in this case reportedly through to 2043, during which time the contractors will see something in the order of $1 billion flow their way. Sort of like the 407 – forever and ever kind of thing.

Hospitals are very complex structures and it will take some time to get the plans drawn up. Eric Vanderwall, President and Chief Executive Officer of the hospital corporation, is said to have put out a date of 2017 before new patients get treated at the hospital.

Later on Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring put out a press release saying the announcement is good news for the people of Burlington. He called it “an awesome day, an historic day,” for the city. “No one wants to end up in hospital, but when you do, you want the best care possible as close to home as possible. Thanks to the hard work of the previous mayor and council, the current council and our provincial funding partners, the dream of a redeveloped hospital can become a reality.”

In December 2009, city council approved not more than $60 million as a municipal contribution for the proposed hospital redevelopment plan.  The city is working on a memorandum of understanding and contribution agreement with the hospital that will outline when and how Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital will receive the city funding.

The city began collecting $1.2 million in 2010 and 2011 through a special tax levy. City Council earmarked $2.4 million from previous years’ surpluses, and now has $4.8 million committed in a reserve fund earning interest. The tax levy amounts to $4 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

“The city has shown leadership in committing $60 million for the hospital redevelopment, and taxpayers have confirmed they think this money should be spent on improving our community hospital,” said Steve Zorbas, acting city manager. “We now need to look at next steps, working with the hospital and our community to raise the money needed to complete the redevelopment project.”

“The estimated cost for Phase 1 of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment is more than $300 million. The planned local share is $120 million. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $60 million through a fundraising campaign in addition to the city’s contribution of $60 million”, said Goldring.

So far all Burlington has is this nice drawing.  No financial commitment from the province and no start date for the project.  We are told it will be six storeys high.  The Pier will open before they start digging any holes in the ground.

So far all Burlington has is this nice drawing. No financial commitment from the province and no start date for the project. We are told it will be six storeys high. The Pier will open before they start digging any holes in the ground.

A much needed upgrade is now a certainty, according to provincial government Ministers and every one of them will tell you there is no link between the announcement and the forthcoming provincial election. Right.

 

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Three cultures managed to overcome differences and agree on a unique approach to creating a community centre.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 12, 2011 — It was a unique idea – why not put a school, a library and a community sports complex all in one place and attached to each other ? And why not do it in a brand new community. Do you think it would work?

Burlington is in the process of finding out if three organizations that are in place to serve the public can adjust their operating procedures enough to be able to work together. Cindy Mercanti, Manager Recreation Services for the city of Burlington speaks glowing of the process and how well it has worked so far.

Getting this project to the point where shovels will begin to dig into the ground had to work its way through reams of paper – and you know what that means: lawyers. There were so many lawyers on this file that they had to hire a law firm to write the definitive agreement to ensure that no one party favoured themselves. Nancy Shea Nicol advised a city council committee that herding the lawyers was not quite as difficult as herding cats and that except for some concerns with the drafting of the operating agreement – it went pretty well.

Organizationally it was quite a challenge but fair minded people with willing hearts put together a collection of committees and got on with the job of making it happen.

The last major housing development in Burlington is well underway.  Occupancy should begin late in the year.

The last major housing development in Burlington is well underway. Occupancy should begin late in the year.

At this point, August of 2011, construction on the skate board park is well underway and should be opening sometime in the fall. Off in the background of where the skate board rink is being built one can see the frames of new houses going up and construction vehicles running up and down Tim Dobbie Drive, the street that dissects the location which is immediately north of Dundas and west of Walkers line.

The Skate Board park and playing fields will be to the east of Tim Dobbie Drive with the combined library, community sports centre and the school will be on the west side along with additional playing fields. The North Burlington Skate Park is being built as part of the Norton Park development. It is targeted to be complete mid-October, 2011.

Manager Recreational Services for the city of Burlington, stands in front of the transit being used by engineers as they work on the construction of the skate board rink that is part of the Norton development across the street from the high school, library, community centre complex.  The only thing not on the site (yet?) is a Tim Hortons.

Manager Recreational Services for the city of Burlington, stands in front of the transit being used by engineers as they work on the construction of the skate board rink that is part of the Norton development across the street from the high school, library, community centre complex. The only thing not on the site (yet?) is a Tim Hortons.

The Alton community was the last large greenfield residential construction project for Burlington on land that had been zoned for housing. At some point in the not too distant future some of the lands that are designated employment lands may get re-designated and become available for housing but at the moment Alton is the last big one – and big it is.

The city of Burlington, who are not the lead on this project, insisted that all the agreements be in place, signed and approved by the various boards involved before any tenders were awarded.

The community site is on the eastern side of Tim Dobbie Drive north of Dundas.  A sports fields and a skate board rink are on the east side.  Rink is expected to open in September.

The community site is on the eastern side of Tim Dobbie Drive north of Dundas. A sports fields and a skate board rink are on the east side. Rink is expected to open in September.

 

The lead on the construction side of the project is the Halton District School Board. The project was tendered and the best bid came in from Bondfield Construction at a cost of just over $40 million. Burlington’s piece of that cost is $13.9 million. The bid is good until August 17th – the same day that the city will open bids from construction companies for the completion of the Brant Street Pier. If all these project get completed on time 2013 is going to be a ‘gang busters’ year for Burlington. We may not be able to live with all that success. Shovels are expected to go into the ground for the community centre part in September. The project has yet to be given a name. Please not another politician, there is a veteran who got passed over just awhile ago – maybe time to remember him?

At a July Council committee meeting council members were brought up to date and advised how well the project was going. The only hiccup was mention of a budget shortfall. There no panic, but at the time the HDSB was still shy close to $1.7 million for their part of the project.

The Burlington Library, The Halton District School Board and the City of Burlington are all part of this unique arrangement with Burlington Hydro in the mix as well. They are installing the solar panels that will be on the roofs collecting sunshine and pumping that energy back into the electricity grid.

Architects rendering of what the three part complex will look like.  A high school, a community centre and a library are all linked together into a single complex.  Construction is scheduled to start in September.

Architects rendering of what the three part complex will look like. A high school, a community centre and a library are all linked together into a single complex. Construction is scheduled to start in September.

 

So – what’s the big deal about this project. To most people it would make sense to have a library, a school and a community sports complex all in one place. The students could use the library, which would be part of the complex and evening sports events could use the gymnasium facilities that are part of the school. Common sense was written all over the idea. The stumbling blocks were at the organization level, where the operating cultures are quite different.

A high school principal runs one kind of organization and has obligations that must be met under the Education Act while the Chief Librarian runs a significantly different origination which is, yet again, quite a bit different that a community centre. Parks and recreation has a totally different culture and operating procedures. Each had to be identified and understood by all the parties involved and then adjusted enough to be able to work together seamlessly. Getting them all pulling together at the same time and in the same direction was much easier said than done. But in Burlington – it looks as if it is going to get done.

The people behind this are thinking well outside the box are not just linking up a couple of buildings. Heating and air-conditioning – vital – but did there have to be three separate systems? Why not just the one – sure but then how do you figure out how much each participant pays when the hydro bill comes in and who gets the benefit of those solar panels on the roof ?

Are you getting the sense that there were a lot of committee meetings going on. You betcha there were. And the lawyers were in their big time. First there was an all party Joint Development Agreement that set out the sharing of the design ands construction costs. Care to guess how many drafts that went through?

The project came together when Leo DeLoyde, GM Development and Infrastructure, asked then newcomer Scott Stewart if he would talk to the people at Parks and Recreation to see if anything could be done

This project however is planned as much more than a collection of organizations coming together to benefit from synergies and scale and the cost savings that come from a larger project. The group involved the Burlington Tourism office which was the first signal that something quite a bit bigger is planned.

Once the building is open and operational the layout above give you a sense of what will exist and how all the parts are linked together. One wonders where the hallway monitors at the high school will end their rounds.  Maybe no monitors?

Once the building is open and operational the layout above give you a sense of what will exist and how all the parts are linked together. One wonders where the hallway monitors at the high school will end their rounds. Maybe no monitors?

 

The city wants to create a centre where provincial level sports events can take place and Burlington is being positioned as the community that has it all. The focus is going to be on floor sports: basketball, badminton and volleyball are the original focus. Meetings have already been held with the provincial sports organizations and while there are no events scheduled for the facility yet – those 32 foot ceilings and four courts all in one large space with up to date change rooms and a large venue – will certainly put Burlington on the map for the provincial level sports community. Burlington Tourism will finally have something to sell – I mean Spencer smith Park can only take you so far.

While having a flashy new facility with all the whistles and bells will certainly draw flies, it has to work as a single entity – and that is where the magic in this initiative exists.

There was a Steering Committee, a Construction Team as well as an Operational Team, and various sub-teams. The Steering Committee has representatives from all three organizations and is overseeing the project and the development of the various agreements. The Construction Team deals with all aspects of construction and has representatives from all organizations as well as the architect.

Cindy Mercanti stands before the bill board that shows what is about to be built on the site north of Dundas and West of Walkers Line.  Major change for that part of Burlington.

Cindy Mercanti stands before the bill board that shows what is about to be built on the site north of Dundas and West of Walkers Line. Major change for that part of Burlington.

The Operational Team assisted the Construction Team with detailed design and has led in the development of the operating model and operations and maintenance agreement.  Similar to the Construction Team, representatives from all three organizations participate.  And there are sub-teams all over the place from the three organizations. As Cindy Mercanti explained it: “This was a very collaborative process” The city team included Parks and Recreation, Roads and Parks Maintenance and Community Strategic Initiatives

The three groups of people from three significantly different organizations made this happen. Let us return and tell you who they are and how they managed to make it all come together and work – so far.

 

 

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