Hospital Foundation has $12 of its $60 million in hand, city will use its $60 million to pay for equipment and furnishings.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012  They appear to have changed something, maybe it was the water, maybe it was the music – maybe someone spiked the water – whatever – the city and the hospital administration are about to do kissy, kissy and make up.

Mario Joanette, vice president communications for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital,  attended the Budget and Corporate Services Committee where Council was given an Update on where things are with the hospital.  We wish to report that they are much, much better.

We can now tell you what the $60 million the city is going to give the hospital is going to be spent  on.  We got an upgrade from having our money spent on a parking garage.  The funds the city gives the hospital will be spent on things like operating room equipment, an MRI machine perhaps, furnishings for some of the hospital rooms  – all stuff  the hospital would have had to buy out of their own funds – will now be paid for with money the city provides.

Here roughly is the way that will work – the hospital will buy a piece of equipment and tell the city what it cost and the city will write a cheque and will keep writing cheques until they have spent $60 million.  Pretty straight forward.

Demotion of an older building underway. Site is where the new parking garage will be built. City money will not be paying for this structure.

The city will also work out a list of the kinds of things they would like to pay for – we don`t want to be seen as the donours of just vases for the hospital waiting room.

It took months to get this worked out and over that period of time the hospital has come to realize that the city is just not going to roll over and let the hospital dictate what happens to our money.  It has been a struggle.  Councillor Taylor called the agreement that has been reached a “great compromise”. The hospital administration has had and continues to have a problem with transparency.

During the Committee meeting Councillor Dennison asked how much had been raised at the Saturday evening Gala.  Joanette strode to the podium and said – he wasn’t able to say – but he was able to say that they  raised more this year than last and they had their largest event ever.  Now Councillor Dennison has been at this game a lot longer than Joanette and he asked – `How much did you raise last year?  Joanette couldn’t duck that one – $250,000 he  replied.  So this year the Gala raised more than  $250,000 – Wow, talk about pulling teeth from a hen.

Councillor Dennison knew he was on a bit of a roll and he asked” how much had been raised in donations to the re-development fund?  That turns out to be $12 million – THAT is a very good number.

$12 million certainly isn't chump change - good start to what is going to be a long fund raising campaign. When the voice mail is from Anissa Hilborn - do return the call.

No announcement from the hospital Foundation about that number.  There have been no announcements – the hospital to the best of our knowledge hasn’t said anything – yet.  Actually, it is not the hospital that should be making that kind of announcement – it should be coming from the President of the Hospital Foundation Anissa Hilborn or the Chair of the Fund Raising Committee – Brian Torsney.

Something still isn’t running the way it should at the hospital.  For reasons that aren’t quite clear yet,  the hospital isn’t tied to the community.  That responsibility rests with the hospital board – the members of that Board are the people that are the public’s link to the hospital – but for some reason – that Board chooses not to say much.  They seem to defer to the hospital administration.  And that has resulted in a rocky relationship between the city and the hospital.  It need not be that way – it shouldn’t be that way – but it is.  Unfortunate.

However, there is hope on the horizon.  The hospital will hold its Annual General Meeting in about three weeks and Mayor Goldring will be the keynote speaker.  That may be the first step in closing the rift between the two institutions and will give the Mayor an opportunity to talk about the kind of relationship the city needs with its hospital.

The agreement on where the city’s money will be spent is expected to be final sometime in June when a revised Contribution Plan goes to Budget and Corporate Services July 10th and to city Council July 16th.

With that irritant out of the way the next hurdle is the site plan for the re-development.  That kind of business usually gets handled by the Planning department but it has been un-delegated and is now handled by council  Planners have been meeting weekly with hospital people and they expect they will be ready to come to Council for site plan approval sometime in the fall.  There is considerable pressure to get the site plan approved so that the construction can begin.

Councillor Craven threw a small spanner in the wheels on that one when he reminded Council that the project could not go to a committee for approval until it has been presented to the community and that there are no meetings in August.  That’s a little awkward isn’t it?

What matters for the citizens of Burlington is that their Council has assured itself that the $60 million the city is putting up for the redevelopment will be spent on things the citizens will find useful.  We don’t have to worry about bricks and mortar or watching milestones.  They buy a piece of equipment for a hospital that has already been built and we pay for it.

Later in the year the city gets to see the site plan and approve it.  There will be sufficient public involvement.  The hospital has retained a “design consultant” to prepare a “campus plan” showing the full development of the site that will include the parking garage/administration building and the hospital expansion/redevelopment.

The city planners and hospital people met recently and held a Design Charette to talk through different ideas on what could work and what wouldn’t work.  Submission of the draft campus plan is expected by the end of June – which is where Councillor Craven sees the log jam – if it comes to the city at the end of June it has to go to the community and then to a council committee and then to Council and all that has to happen during the month of July – and that’s not possible with the meeting cycle Burlington uses.

Watch for a Special Council meeting to bunt this one home.

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First Bike to Work Day crowd small – can it grow? Alton & Orchard residents would have to put their life in their hands to be part of this.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 28, 2012  There weren’t traffic jams around city hall but there were more than fifty people who made it to the breakfast served by the city to mark the first Bike to Work Day which was part of the Smart Commute Halton, that the city and the Chamber of Commerce got behind this year.

It was a start, marred by some political bafflegab that seems to have to be said.  Here`s a sample:

With a hearty breakfast in their tummies the cyclists that made it to city hall for the first Bike to Work Day in Burlington, pose and are now part of the city's history. Photo supplied by Region)

“Transportation is an important issue for Halton residents,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “By partnering with the Metrolinx Smart Commute program, Halton Region is proud to offer Halton businesses and residents an easy to use alternative to driving alone. By working with the City of Burlington and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, we’re excited to have motivating events like Bike to Work Day where cyclists can be thanked for their contribution towards making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

“We encourage Burlington residents and employees to seek alternate means of transport whenever possible,” says Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Whether you’re riding, walking or rolling, we hope to see you get up, get out and get moving.”

It would have been nice to hear an announcement about specific road improvements that would make it possible for people north of the QEW to actually cycle into the downtown core.  It`s still a divided city for cyclists.

The next item on the agenda of those who would have us our bicycles every day of the week is two Car Free Sundays – June 10 and July 15.



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We may all have to learn to be immigrants suggest Deb Pickfield, TEDx speaker and head honcho at Thinkspot.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 29, 2012  She was added to the speakers list at the last minute – or so it appeared,  but she may have had the idea most worth talking about at the Burlington TEDx, held at the Performing Arts Centre last Sunday.  Deb Pickfield, head honcho of Thinkspot, a place on Locust Street, where ideas move forward, just a hop skip and a short jump from where she spoke to more than 100 people suggesting  immigrants are the embodiment of innovation and that if we do not innovate, our economy cannot grow in a sustainable manner.

Using data and commentary from the Conference Board of Canada, Pickfield explained: “At every level of analysis, immigrants are shown to have an impact on innovation performance that is benefiting Canada.

 Immigrants are by definition seekers of a better way—the very embodiment of innovation

To immigrate:  to become established in a new environment

What can we learn from people who immigrate?

What would it take for us to behave and think like immigrants?

Can it happen when we simply learn the job of someone else or join a new network?

Why would someone immigrate? 

How would they feel?  Scared?  Uncertain?   Hopeful?

Why would the hope be worth the uncertainty and fear?

Why would people who immigrate be willing to risk everything and learn a whole new way of being in order to build a better future for themselves, their children, and their children’s children?

What can we learn from immigrants who RISK, SHARE, LEARN when they decide to leave their old environment?

Deb Pickfield, TEDx Burlington speaker and president of Thinkspot, suggests to an audience that immigrants are the real innovators and that we have much to learn from them.

Why are we afraid of RISK?

Why do we start to build walls around ourselves at age 9, Grade 4, when we realize others are better at certain things than us?

Why do we fear failure? 

Why is it difficult to embrace failure as learning?

What would it take for us to share what we have and know with others?

What would we share to create a better future for generations we don’t even know yet?

Why is it difficult to give up in order to share?

Why are we likely uncomfortable with these gaps of silence?

Why do we do our best to fill periods of silence?

What if we are not listening to others if we are waiting to fill the gaps of silence?

What if immigrants listen well to understand and to LEARN?

What would we do if we could not be understood?

Would we listen deeper to understand more?

What if by living in a community like Burlington, in a country like Canada, we become too comfortable?

What if by being comfortable we become complacent?

What if by being complacent we seek to protect what we have?

What if to protect we focus on safety and security?

What if by building safety and security we risk less?

What if by risking less, we learn and contribute less?

What if we could RISK, SHARE, LEARN like an immigrant?

What if these are the key ingredients for creativity?

What if we need to RISK, SHARE, LEARN to be innovative?

Can we be that strong?

Can we try, stumble, fall and keep on going?

Can we afford not to?

What if we make a point of RISKING, SHARING, LEARNING something every day?

What’s stopping us from having the heart of an immigrant?

Those are ideas worth sharing – but the comfortable who have become complacent and have forgotten how to share risk and learn are the ones who will eventually lose out to the innovators who are probably going to be immigrants who are going to eat our lunch and take away our clients – because they know how to risk, share and learn.

Pickfield is on to something – are the rest of us?





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Culture runs into politics – guess who wins? Cultural guru Jeremy Freiburger bites the hand that feeds him.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 28th, 2012  – Biting the hand that feeds you is never a wise thing to do.  Ticking off the people who sign your pay check might be called just plain dumb.

Telling a Ward Councillor in Burlington that you don’t particularly want him to attend a meeting you have called in the Councillors Ward and announcing the meeting without informing the Councillor borders on suicidal.  It gets better.  Jeremy Freiburger also advertised the events in the local newspaper without informing the Council members.

Two of the Burlington Council members are going to be away on the dates the events are to take place in their Ward’s.  Councillor Taylor will be on vacation and asked for an “interview with Freiburger. Councillor Dennison will be in Apeldoorn, our twin city in Holland the day the Cultural Conversation is to take place in his ward.

Cultural guru doesn't make any friends with Burlington council members - tells them they are not wanted at public Cultural Conversations.

Freiburger  advised the two council members that they weren’t actually wanted at the meeting.  Freiburger explained that council members sometimes influence voters unduly.  Ouch!  Most politicians believe that it is the voters who influence them.

Councillor Jack Dennison looked a little dumb struck when he heard those words and he too asked for an “interview with Freiburger.

Councillor Taylor told Freiburger that he had chosen the wrong place for the event in his ward; Councillor Lancaster added that holding two events at Tansley Woods was a mistake as well.

Cultural has its sensitivities and politics has its nuances – Freiburger may have the sensitivities of culture down pat – but he has a lot to learn about the nuances of politics.  Trust Councillors Taylor and Dennison to straighten him out very quickly.  Councillor Lancaster may also have a couple of choice words for Mr. Freiburger.

Jeremy Freiburger is the cultural guru the city has hired to oversee the development of the Cultural Plan that will come in at a little over $100,000  – $61,500 of that is provincial money, the rest came from you dear taxpayer.  If done properly a sound cultural plan can make a difference – the plan is the easy part – it is the execution of the plan that matters and that calls for as much collaboration as possible.

Telling Councillors that you don’t want them at an event in their ward that will deal with something as sensitive as culture is not what is meant by collaboration.

Mr. Freiburger may find his reception at the “interviews” he will be having on the 7th floor of city hall a little on the frosty side.

Freiburger   also oversees the city’s Public Art Plan and is shepherding the choice of art for the front of the Performing Arts Centre, which by the way is progressing nicely – there is interest from local artists, regional artists, national and international artists.

This particular piece of public art is being funded to a very significant degree by local businessman Don Laurie of Dan Laurie Insurance, a company with offices in Burlington and Hamilton.

That one has a bit of a tussle going on over just how much the city has to say about what goes on property, which the city points out to the BPAC people is property that the city owns.

The Memorandum of Agreement between the city and BPAC has yet to be signed, that has been going back and forth between the city and the lawyers for more than a year – so in actuality the BPAC people are basically just squatters.  But that’s another story we will follow up on for you.

Freiburger  was taking Council through the process he is using to get the Cultural Plan completed and in place by the end of March next year.  That is going to be tight and Freiburger is going to need Council on his side – he didn’t have them with him Monday morning.

There are plans for a very significant amount of public involvement beyond the planned ward meetings.  Interaction with the Sound of Music and the Children’s Festival is included in the plans.

Cobalt Connects is a simple concept - Freiburger went for a sophisticated look and what is really top level design - that works for the arts and design community. Burlington's city council just didn't get it.

Freiburger is a decent presenter – he would talk and then break for some back and forth question and answer.  Freiburger is a big believer that there has to be strong leadership if a Cultural Plan is to become effective and he wanted to know how Council felt about cultural management – pointing out that Burlington tends to prefer external relationships for cultural management.

“Does Council” he asked “have feelings regarding the development of internal cultural expertise vs. external?”  He got his answer – Council felt that the city could manage its own cultural plan – it just needed to put one in place.

“How often do you want to hear from us” Freiburger asked Council.  At least once a month they replied – they are going to keep this guy on a short leash.

There is a lot of rally good stuff in the plan that has been put together.  We will report in more detail later in the week.  It was given to the council members in a workshop setting – at some point it will work its way to Council Committee – that’s where the pruning will get done.


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Burlington`s first TED event – ideas worth spreading – held at Performing Arts Centre.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 28, 2012  TEDx Burlington came and went – some 100 people plus filled the Community Room of the Performing Arts Centre and then trooped up Locust Street to ThinkSpot!  after the three hour event,  where they munched on sandwiches and continued the conversation.  In a couple of weeks the Burlington ideas worth talking about will be up on the TED web site and those of you who couldn’t score a ticket will be able to see what the rest of us took in.  We will let you know when the presentations are available for the rest of the public.

Some very powerful statements were made.  There was some difficulty managing the time allotted to each speaker – they were supposed to be limited to 18 minutes and that didn’t work with the one session, to the point where the impact of the point the speaker was making was lost.

The live presentations were interspersed with feeds from some of the really great presentations done in the past by other TEDx’s

TEDx is about ideas that are worth talking about and the story Arthur Fleischmann told of his daughter Carly was amazing – but was it an idea worth talking about?  It wasn’t an idea – it was the story of a man and his autistic daughter who has made tremendous strides and as a teenager has come to the point where she can communicate with people like us.  The story is truly magnificent and we will pass it along to you when they have been prepared for internet loading –  it wasn’t an idea that revealed anything to me other than the courage her Father has shown as he walked with his child.

The Josh Nelson story was told – Josh wasn’t able to make it to the live session.  Dramatic, tearful, the story of immense personal courage.  But was it an idea worth talking about?

Scott Graham told about bullying and the damage done.  He mentioned more than half a dozen students who had committed suicide. – the two woman beside me could not hold back the tears.  It was very hard to listen to and they didn’t return after the break.

TED was a concept developed to take ideas that people had; ideas worth talking about and give them a public forum.   Two of the ideas that came out of past TED sessions held in other cities are set out for you below.

Both are quite short – one is a great idea about how we can solve a serious problem with getting clean water that people can drink during a crisis when water is available only in plastic bottles.  This is something that is really worth talking about.  The Mayor was in the room – will he order a dozen or so and have the Emergency Measures Service people try them out?  He should.

Derek Sivers told of the way we identify where we live with street addresses and the way the people of Japan describe where they live.  It is certainly very different and as you listen to the explanation you realize that it wouldn’t work here but it works there – why?   An idea worth talking about?  Yes most certainly.

Of the seven presentations seen Sunday afternoon in an event that was about an hour too long, were any likely to make it onto that list of presentations that will be watched again and again by people around the world?   Other than the comments Patrick O`Neil made about how we in North America tend to use our heads and brains instead of our hearts and maybe the comments Deb Pickfield made about complacency – but other than that – probably not.

One needs to be fair.  Spencer Campbell deserves buckets of credit for taking the initiative to bring TED to Burlington and then doing all the calling around and setting up that makes events like this work.  It was announced at the first annual TEDxBurlington event – which would suggest there will be another TEDx held in Burlington.  Only time will tell if that proves to be the case. Should there be another

An interesting observation. Four times a year the Mayor of Burlington sponsors a speaker – all the seats available are usually filled for hour and a quarter presentation made by very informed, qualified speakers – several with national and international reputations.  The crowd that usually attends the Mayor’s Inspire speakers event was not the same crowd that was in the Community Room this afternoon, which suggests there is a larger audience than we have seen in the past for quality events that engage the mind.  For that reason alone Spencer Campbell should begin now to prepare for the next session of TEDxBurlington.   Is there a personal Spencer Campbell agenda here?  Isn’t there always?


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Burlington’s citizen of the year will tell you “good intentions stink”. We will never run out of opportunities to help the poor.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON –  May 27, 2012    She is a pure evangelical.  She puts her heart and soul into everything she does and trusts in her Lord that she is doing his will.  She wakes up with that thought and closes her eyes at night with the same thought.  She takes her energy and her drive and operates the all voluntary Sew on Fire Ministry.  And it was for this that Wendy Hagar was chosen as the 2011 Citizen of the Year in Burlington.

The play on words in the name of her Ministry “Sew on Fire” is another part of the approach to life the evangelical community takes.  For that community they do feel “so” on fire with the belief that they have been called to do God’s work here on earth.  Wendy Hagar chose to ‘sew’ clothing kits for young Mother’s and changed the ‘so’ to “sew” which grew to the point where the warehouse grew from every room in her house to 1000 square feet, then to 3000 square feet  to the 6,000 square foot location they now have.

Everything that comes in get stored in a box - and every bit of it gets used. Wendy Hagar, Sew on Fire Ministry Founder stands at one of the several working tables in the 6,000 sq foot warehouse.

What Hagar has managed to do is meld different objectives into a single result – finding clothing for people in parts of the world where people do not have the clothing they need; create a place where people can work together to give back to the community and the wider world and also be a place where manufacturers can send the product over-run  they do not need. “By sending it to me – I keep it out of the landfill which is usually the cheapest place for them to send the stuff”.

She does this by inviting corporations to send their staff over for half a day of putting button snaps on pouches that will hold crayons and pencils or working with schools as a location for students who need to do their forty hours of community service.  Wendy Hagar will take anyone from anywhere and put their fingers and hands to work.

Thousands of screwdriver sets were donated - they will get packed up and sent off to people who need tools like this.

Sew on Fire creates products that are new and in the hands of a professional marketer might move quickly to that list of  “absolutely must haves”  that seems to drive the teen world today.

In the Hagar household literally every room became a place to store cloth, buttons, zippers – you name it, that eventually got run through the half a dozen sewing machines that filled the dining room table. “There were occasions when my husband Jeff would come home and have to step gingerly  over and around the boxes and bags of donations that had come in.”  The Hagar household was consumed by the Sew on Fire Ministry.

While church and Sunday school were part of family life when Wendy was a child – the decision to serve full time in a volunteer capacity and take on a really big project is not something that just happened.  There is always a deep level of personal discernment before the decision becomes evident and for Wendy Hagar that included a long period of fasting and prayer and asking for direction.  “What do you want me to do – show me” and then it became evident.

Home church for Wendy Hagar is Glad Tidings on Guelph Line.

It’s the way the faith communities works – you either believe it or you don’t.  Wendy Hagar believes it and lives it.

It all started in a small Saskatchewan town where Wendy was born.  “My  Dad was a mechanic who wanted me to be a nurse – that just wasn’t for me.  I wanted to be a Mother and today I have two grown children.  We were strong parents.  Church was a part of the household I grew up in and it is part of the household I ran.  Our children learned piano and they didn’t date until they were 16.”

The family moved to Ignace, Ontario.   The Hagar family arrived in Burlington in 1994 and by 2000 the Sew on Fire Ministry had been started –” it ran out of the 7 room house we had with two garages.  We never did get to parking cars in the garage.  There was no room for them”.

“There was a time when we didn’t eat a meal at the dining room table and you had to step over and around boxes of stuff that were in the hallway.”

Hagar does it all; works in the warehouse, calls on organizations that can help and brings in the volunteers.

Wendy has an organization that does more than take in production over runs, cloth that can be made into clothing for children – you name it – she will find a use for whatever you have.  Just give her a call.  Hager works with corporations, organizations – clubs, Girl Guide, Brownies – it doesn’t matter the group, Hagar will find a time slot for them and achieve two objectives.  First, showing people how they can “serve ” and at the same time get packages of clothing ready for shipment around the world.

“Students who need a place to perform their 40 hours of community service come to us by the busload and we put them to work – and we teach them what it is to give back to a society that has given them so much.”

Stuffed on shelves in her warehouse are dozen of cardboard cartons with small clear plastic bags that measure about 5 x 7 and have a zipper. ” I paid 60 cents each for these but couldn’t afford that amount for all the over run the manufacturer had – so I convinced him to sell them to me at 5 cents each.  She now has more than 10,000 of the things that will get used to put toiletries in and shipped around the world.

Wendy Hagar would hear people say that “Sew on Fire” was one of Burlington’s best kept secrets.  With just a little bit of  rise in her voice she will, with an imploring look, tell you that “we don’t want to be a secret”.  She adds that “for six years there wasn’t a word about us in the local papers and it was frustrating.”

There was a Burlington company that Hagar had wanted to connect with for the longest time – but she couldn’t seem to get through to the man that made the decisions.  Hagar is persistent if she is anything and she is now on a first name basis with the President of that company.

An insight into the way Wendy Hagar works is how she connected with one Burlington based manufacturer. “I knew they could be a big help but I couldn’t get to the right person – even though I made a lot of calls.  Then one day I made a call and got put through to the President and that was it.  They have become key partners for us.”

Manufacturers have inventory they need to clear out before the next production run can start. If it can't be sold it often gets sent to a landfill site. Hager tries to get to that inventory before then.

Hunter Amenities, a company that got its start in John Hunter’s kitchen grew to become one of the  largest manufacturers of hotel amenities in the world making products for global clients such as the Fairmont, Westin, Club Med, Hyatt and Sheraton and servicing them in over 100 countries. When John Hunter at Hunter Amenities heard her story he  told her she had a partner for life and not to worry any more. Good things happen to good people and in the recent past Hunter has been recognized as being the best manufacturer in Burlington, Ontario (by the Burlington Chamber of Commerce), the best small company in Ontario (by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce) and recently has been selected as one of the “50 Best Managed Companies” in Canada. Praises indeed!

When Burlington was named the second best city in Canada to live in by MoneySense magazine everyone touted that story.  The real story about Burlington is people like Wendy Hagar and companies like Hunter Amenities

There was an opportunity to bring in $150,000 worth of screw driver parts which we did.  We then had to find willing hands to assemble the parts.  They were the kind that had multiple pieces that could be fitted into the handle.  “We took them in and in time we will find a place for them.  Men looking for work will have tools that can get them employment.  Maybe not today – but someone will need those screw drivers and we will ship them out.”

Today it might be Uganda, tomorrow somewhere in the Philippines. ” I never know where the call is going to come from – I just pray that I am able to respond when the call does come.  When the earthquakes destroyed parts of Haiti we knew there were going to be calls and we began looking at what we had and preparing.”

“Back packs for students are something every kid wants and needs, we’ve sent out more than 3,000 of them.”

While Sew on Fire Ministry is about helping people Hagar is not shy about her statistics.  In a Newsletter she sets out what was done in one year: 16,500 gift bags to 38 countries; partnered with 64 churches/ministries to send 112 shipments; 3,000 backpacks, 1750 layettes; 40 teachers kits, 1,000 shoes/boots; 336 refugee baskets and 12,000 other items like blankets and bikes and Bibles and sewing and knitting machines.  All done by the between 600 to 900 volunteer hours put in at the warehouse each month.  The operation is very thin on the administrative side – there is no payroll department – everything is done by volunteers – no one, not even Wendy Hagar gets as much as a dime.

When one listens and gets a sense of the size of the Sew in Fire operation you kind of realize that the Hagar family is writing cheques to pay some of the bills.  So are a lot of other people who send in donations and somehow the doors stay open.  Hagar doesn’t worry too much about getting the bills paid – her view is that the Lord will provide – her job is to get what she brings in out to the people who need it.

The sewing table where parts ore stitched together and packed for shipping somewhere in the world. If you know how to service and fix these machines -- give Wendy Hagar a call.

Hagar is constantly on the prowl for new suppliers.  She wants to talk to those companies that have a production over run and need to clear out inventory so they can begin the next production run.  “I’ve got space”  she will tell you.

When the house could no longer hold everything Hager had to find a place where there was some room.  Jack Hawkins came to her rescue, which some would say was a nice piece of luck, at which Hagar will look at you over the top of her glasses and say firmly: “God`s will.”  You can`t argue with her on that point.

“Jack Hawkins learned of us and offered us 1,000 square feet of space on Herring Court.  We were there for three and a half years but Jack’s company decided to move to Brantford.  We were offered space in the new location but knew that the travel wasn’t for us.  We were given plenty of notice – more than a year and that was when we took the leap and rented space.”

“We looked at 60 different places.  Parking was critical for us.  School buses that bring students in for volunteer hours needed a place to park; the volunteers needed a place to park as well.  We started with 1,000 square feet and then needed 3,000 square feet and now we are in a 6,000 square foot space and when you look around there isn’t any space that isn’t being used.   Layettes for new babies are always in demand.”

“When we moved into the first space we were renting I felt like a teenager moving out of the family home; I was excited and at the same time just a little apprehensive – for me it was another walk of faith.”

While Hagar is the energy behind Sew on Fire she is supported by her husband Jeff and her best friend Evelyn Molyneaux.  They are her closest friends and sounding board.  Her children have grown up, completed their educations married and moved on to lives of their own.  Sarah Jane lives in Vancouver with her husband and her son Matthew lives in Dorchester, Ontario with his wife.  Both children are graduates of Nelson High School.  They, along with their friends,  spent many hours in whichever room in the house had work that had to be done.

Sew on Fire is a non-profit organization with Registered Charity status.  If there was one observation about the company it is that there is an opportunity to improve the governance and add more talent to the top level.  Hagar is often there as almost a one man band running everything with the help of two very close friends.  There doesn’t appear to be a succession plan and to lose all that the organization does, when Wendy Hagar isn’t able to put in the amount of time she does, would be a terrible shame.

On the “what I need today” list is someone who can volunteer to take care of the sewing machines.   “There are ten in regular use now and additional machines that come in and need a fix up. They need maintenance and repair and we don’t have anyone who can do that for us right now.”

Sew on Fire is a working operation. It may look a little cluttered - they don't worry too much about appearances - it is the serving that matters to them.

“Oh, and if you happen to have a couple of 5×5 waste bins, those big steel things you put out by the freight door – give us a call – we need two of those.  The ones we had were apparently needed more by someone else and they disappeared one night.”

Hagar’s message is always the same, “the need is great and we will never run out of opportunities to help the poor.  Sew on Fire  is successful because people invest their time, treasure and talents;  we are 100% volunteer, our gifts are freely given, our volunteers are priceless, and partners are vital”.

More about the organization at

If you want to help – you can reach Wendy Hagar at

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Turbine might get second chance – kudos to BurlingtonGreen for ensuring environmental sustainablility is kept on the table.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON            May 26, 2012     That decision you made about the turbine on the Pier – said a staff report, we think you should re-consider it – we have more data for you.

That staff report, which we go into further below, is the result of a community group putting their muscle behind their convictions and pressing both staff and now Council to do what they can now do, to have the turbine on the Pier.

It’s an awkward story and as much as people like to blame city hall for as much as they can – it doesn’t look as if the city engineers are to blame for this one.  What is evident is that while Burlington Hydro pays the city a nice dividend each year – they don`t provide much in the way of background and on-going advice with things related to electrical technology.  It is a changing world out there and while BurlingtonGreen is certainly plugged into it – the same can`t be said for Burlington Hydro.  Is there a member of Burlington Green on the Burlington Hydro Board?   There should be.

Let’s go to the beginning.

The city engineers learn that it will not be possible to feed energy into the electrical grid and then use that energy to power the LED lights that will illuminate the Pier once it opens – and the Pier will open – but there are  – ahem, problems with the steel that is needed for the beams.  More on that situation elsewhere.

City engineer Tom Eichenbaum, on the left, has to wonder if his colleagues over at Burlington Hydro are on the same team he is on.

The city engineers are stunned with that news but they don’t run hydro so they put their minds to the problem  and go to council committee with a solution that has a battery pack installed in the utility room underneath the Pier.  The energy from the turbine goes into the battery pack and is then drawn on at night to illuminate the Pier.  It’s a solution with a $70,000 price tag and the council committee says “nope and votes at committee level to not have a turbine on the Pier.

Not so fast say the good people from BurlingtonGreen.  They maintain that the turbine is needed at several levels and they delegate to city council where they lose the argument.  BurlingtonGreen is a well-run community activist group with a focus on the environment and they didn’t think what they were being told was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  They do some digging.   It would appear that they have people within hydro or people in the hydro business feeding them information and advising them.  Good for them.

BurlingtonGreen learns that the city can indeed feed energy into the electricity grid and that Burlington Hydro has the necessary permits in place to accept hydro.  There is some confusion as to just which permits are being talked about – technical stuff which any bureaucrat worth  his title can hide behind.

That information gets teeth grinding at city hall.  Why in hell didn’t we know that? was the most memorable comment.

All this has led to staff suggesting to Council committee that they might want to review the decision they made to not have a turbine on the pier.  Here is a sample of the comments in the report.  The full report is available here.  

The Brant Street Pier construction project had included a wind turbine that would feed energy back into the power grid. In April 2012, city staff reported to the city’s Community Services Committee that the wind turbine could not feed power into the grid but could be a stand-alone power source if a battery pack were added. City Council removed the wind turbine from the pier project. 

 “We recognize that City Council did not have all the facts when staff provided a project update to committee on April 18,” said City Manager Jeff Fielding. “Since then, staff has worked diligently to gather key information.”

In May, city staff met with hydro officials to reconfirm the status of access to the Cumberland Transformer station. They discovered that the city may be able to connect to the grid through the MicroFIT program run by the Ontario Power Authority. 

 “We are asking Council, ‘If you had this information before you made a decision to remove the wind turbine, would you have made a different decision?,

Some shifty language there – “working diligently” is a bit of a stretch.

The provinces Micro Fit program let homeowners put solar on the roof of their houses and sell the power to the Ontario Power Authority. It was a very popular program and the province fell behind processing the application. Someone finally figured out that the turbine planned for the Pier would qualify under this program.

Burlington got caught up in the provincial FIT program that allowed people to install solar panels on their houses or set up a stand-alone structure with an array of solar panels.  Once installed they would be linked so that they could feed directly into the power grid.  Thousands of people saw this as a great investment opportunity.  The province was paying top price for the power they were getting which resulted in more applications than they could handle and things began to back up.

The MicroFit program allowed people to invest in solar arrays and earn an income. It was seen as a very secure investment and is one the city will come under when it's application to have wind turbine energy fed into the power grid. If it takes longer than planned - so what.

This initiative came out of the province’s realization that clean energy is available through the use of solar panels and they put a program in place that would allow individuals to participate.  The province re-developed the application process and called it the MicroFIT program.  The FIT part stands for Feed in Tariff.

It appears that Burlington Hydro or BurlingtonGreen,  figured out a way to have the turbine being built on the Pier qualify under this revised MicroFIT program.  No one particularly cares about which program is used – the city just wanted to generate power with a turbine and feed that power into the grid and be seen as a progressive community using all the advanced technology available.

BurlingtonGreen saw the turbine as both great energy conservation but also as a statement they wanted to see made about being environmentally sensible.  BurlingtonGreen deserves credit for keeping the pressure on.  The city now has to use some forceful language at the next Burlington Hydro Board meeting.

City staff just wants to get beyond the mess.  In their report to Council committee, which will come up at the Community Services Committee at 6:30 pm on the 30th, staff set out the situation as they have come to understand it and set out a number of options.

The background:

At its meeting of April 30, 2012 Council approved the following resolution:  DIRECT the General Manager of Community Services to have the turbine eliminated from the Brant Street Pier project (Councillor Rick Craven) (SD-15-12) Council, April 30, 2012.

The decision to eliminate the wind turbine from the project was largely based on the information provided to the Community Services Committee on April 18, 2012 as part of the Project Update #13.

In part, as a follow-up investigation of the information presented by by Burlington Green (Amy Schnurr) as a delegation to the April 30, 2012 Council meeting, staff now have indications from both Burlington Hydro and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) that there may, in fact, be capacity at the Cumberland TS to allow for a connection to the grid from a Pier Wind Turbine and other renewable energy sources in the Downtown area.

The two more critical points of contact were:

• February 15, 2012 Burlington Hydro (BHI) confirmed to City staff that (based on a Hydro One ruling) the Transformer Station (TS) servicing the Downtown area could not accept grid connections for renewable power

Burlington Hydro keeps the lights on, runs the system efficiently but does seem to have a problem communicating with their peers at city hall.

• May 15, 2012 BHI staff confirmed to City staff that (based on a Hydro One ruling) the Cumberland TS does have 7 MegW of capacity for renewable energy feed-in connections. However, BHI understands that there are 257 FIT (greater than 10kw) and MicroFIT (less than 10kw) applications in Burlington that have been portal. BHI staff advised City staff to contact the OPA directly as the applications and approvals for MicroFIT renewable projects are administered by the OPA.

May 18, 2012 City staff were able to contact OPA staff for information on the MicroFIT program (The City’s Wind Turbine being rated 10kw would fall into the MicroFIT program).

  If Council decides to reconsider the elimination of the Wind Turbine from the Pier program, the following steps would be required:

• a motion to reconsider the previous Staff Direction SD-15-12 needs to be brought forward by a member of Council. It must receive a 2/3 majority vote.

• If the motion of reconsideration is passed, the Committee can debate the re-introduction of the Wind Turbine or alternatively discuss other options.

• The Committee should then move a recommendation to approve its preferred option and if applicable, formally rescind SD-15-12.

The options:

Not having the turbine available doesn't mean the observation deck and the Tower Beacon won't be built.

Option A  Re-introduce the Wind Turbine as originally specified – 23 foot diameter rotor (11 ½ foot long blades)

To proceed in re-introducing the Wind Turbine into the project, the following points are noteworthy:

1)      A Change Order has already been processed to the Contractor to delete the Wind Turbine from the project. If Council re-introduces the Wind Turbine, a subsequent Change Order will be necessary to re-include for the Wind Turbine.

2)      Staff would request the Project Design Consultant to make submissions to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) MicroFIT program as soon as the new ‘application portal’ is available on-line.

3)      The OPA approval process may be from 3 to 6 months

4)      The City’s application will likely be in a queue of many applications for the Burlington area and application processing and approvals is on a “first come first served” basis.

5)     There is a possibility that even with a successful application to the OPA, other Burlington applications to the OPA may use up the available capacity at the Cumberland TS. Neither BHI nor the OPA are able to assess this eventuality at the present time. The implication of a future approval by the OPA for the Wind Turbine on the overall construction schedule needs to be assessed further by the Project Team. However, the erection of the Turbine is a project task that would have happened later in the overall schedule.

The turbine part is in actuality rotor blades that will be 23 feet in diameter - each blade being 11.5 feet long. The blades will turn a shaft which will in turn generate the power that will be fed into the electricity grid.

6)     Staff understand that MicroFIT wind renewal energy applications are not nearly as popular at the present time, partly because solar feed-in tariff is presently considerably higher than for wind projects.

What does this mean? What will a “change order” cost? How much will it cost to have the design consultants make the application to the OPA for participation in the MicroFIT program?

A wait time of three to six months isn’t an issue – the completion of the Pier isn’t due for another year and if there is not enough capacity for us this time around – we can wait a little longer.  We’ve waited five years longer than we had planned.

Option B   Solar Power Option

Staff and the Design Consultant have assessed whether there may be merit in considering a Solar Power alternative. Solar wouldn’t provide the power needed and visually it wouldn’t work.  Staff doesn’t recommend going solar.

Option C    No Wind Turbine

If Council decides not to reconsider its resolution of April 30, 2012, the Beacon Tower itself will still be part of the Pier project.

Staff recommends  that, if the Wind Turbine is not re-introduced, that the top of the Beacon Tower be extended to give it a more complete appearance.   The cost of this top extension minus the savings or not having the Wind Turbine would be in the order of a net savings of $5,000. The project team recommends that this modification be done if the Wind Turbine is not re-introduced.

Option D    Another Renewable Energy Demonstration Project at Another Location

If Council does not wish to re-introduce the Wind Turbine onto the Pier structure, Council could consider a Staff Direction for the investigation of other opportunities for a demonstration of a renewable energy project at other waterfront or other locations.  The new  8 Fire Station at 1837 Ironstone Drive in Burlington has a 10kw solar installation on its roof.

Those are the choices.  Council can sit on its hands and not vote to open the question.  A Councillor has to move the motion to re-open and then 5 of the 7 have to vote to revisit the issue.   The environmentalists would call this a “no brainer” but the Pier is now a political issue and this council is real skittish about doing anything that will make things worse.  This isn’t an “environmental” council yet – they are into getting people on their bikes for Car Free Sunday’s – are they ready to take a bit of a risk – and it really is a small risk and decide that the new information does change the situation and the turbine should be part of the Pier as long as it isn’t going to cost any more money.

There is some settling up to do with Burlington Hydro -it  is “owned” by the city of Burlington.  The city is the only shareholder and it appoints the Board of Directors.  The Mayor sits on the Board and the city manager sits on at least one of the Board committees.  We were not able to confirm that the city manager sits on the board.

Burlington Hydro Board meetings are for the most private.  They don’t fall under the Municipal Act and the only person they report to is their shareholder which is the city.

In the old days when we had Utility Commissions, the commissioners were elected and that made the meetings open to the public.  Perhaps some changes can be made at that level?

City manager Jeff Fielding might bring his "do your job" line to the next Burlington Hydro meeting he attends. The evidence suggests they could benefit from his very direct approach to problems.

Our city manager raised a lot of eyebrows when a while ago he said to the council members “do your jobs”.  There were a lot of people who watched the on-line broadcast of that meeting and told there friends which minute of the broadcast they could fast forward to and catch the comment.   So, many said to themselves, we do have someone who is going to deliver value for money to the taxpayers – which the city manager has told everyone at city hall to begin calling customers.

It is time for the city manager and the mayor to begin bringing some discipline to the way Burlington Hydro works – these are the guys that keep the lights on for us.


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TEDx – another first for Burlington. Seven speakers will use 18 minutes each to talk about ideas worth spreading.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 25, 2012  TED – Technology, Entertainment and Design  – have you heard about it?  It appeared in the mid 80’s and became an international rage for a period of time.  TED’s early emphasis was largely technology and design, consistent with a Silicon Valley center of gravity. The events are now held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, offering live streaming of the talks. They address an increasingly wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture. The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. While still influential, what the operators of the organization have done is use a marketing practice – extend the brand so that we now have TEDx – and that’s what’s coming to Burlington on Sunday.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. This event is called TEDxBurlington, where x = independently organized TED event. At the TEDxBurlington event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

The event, which is working from the theme Passion for Compassion, will take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre followed by a reception at ThinkSpot on Locust Street.  Attendance is limited to just 100 people and – sorry but the tickets are SOLD OUT.  However, you will be able to go on line and see each of the six 18 minute segments.

The TEDx Burlington was brought to town by Spencer Caldwell who has tapped everyone he knows for help on this one and has been fortunate enough to get some local support.

Speakers include:

Arthur Fleischmann lives with his wife, Tammy Starr, and their three children, Matthew, Taryn and Carly, in Toronto, Canada, where he is partner and president of john st. advertising – one of Canada’s top creative, digital and design agencies. Born in New York, he grew up in the Boston area and attended Brandeis University, where he graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Economics. He later earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Arthur co-wrote “Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism” with his 17 year old daughter, Carly. One of the first books to explore firsthand the challenges of living with autism, Carly’s Voice brings readers inside a once–secret world, in the company of an inspiring young woman who has found her voice and her mission. As you will hear, his ‘Idea Worth Spreading’ is don’t judge a book by its cover!

Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese,is founder and executive director of Save the Mothers and has been consulted by the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office as an expert in maternal health.

Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese is an internationally recognized expert in women’s reproductive health and winner of the Canadian Royal College’s second Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award. Dr. Chamberlain Froese has volunteered in some of the world’s poorest countries to make childbirth a safer experience. She is founder and executive director of Save the Mothers (STM) International, an organization dedicated to saving some of the 340,000 mothers within developing countries who die in childbirth every year.

Dr. Chamberlain Froese spends eight months of the year at the Uganda Christian University and four months in Canada advocating for safe motherhood, while teaching and working clinically at McMaster University in Hamilton. She is an associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology and co-directs the McMaster International Women’s Health Program. She has written a book, “Where Have All the Mothers Gone” and is also co-editor of the 2006 book “Women’s Health in the Majority World: Issues and Initiatives.” She was a special guest speaker for the Youth Summit of the G8 meeting in 2010 and has been consulted by the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office as an expert in maternal health.

Besides Uganda, during her career Dr. Chamberlain Froese has also spent time in Yemen, Pakistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo and Russia doing work for women’s health. In 2006, she was one of only six individuals worldwide presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award from the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FIGO), recognizing her outstanding contribution to the health of mothers around the world.

Josh Nelson, at the age of  9, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. After enduring a 10 hour surgery, seizures, a stroke, a post-surgery syndrome that left him unable to walk or talk, 31 radiation treatments and 52 weeks of chemo, it became clear he was a fighter.

“I am now a nine year cancer survivor and I have not taken this title lightly. I have been invited by several community groups to share my story of hope and inspiration and have participated in many community events to help support a cause that’s close to my heart. One such event was the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride where, in 2009, I gave a speech in Burlington.

“I asked the riders to “ride for me until the day I can ride along side you myself.” They listened, and in 2010, my dream came true. On a tandem bike with Drew Molnar I rode across Ontario from Thunder Bay to Ottawa in an unforgettable life-changing five day journey. Last September, Mark Burger and I cycled tandem all the way across Canada on a 16-day, 7,000 km epic adventure from Vancouver to Halifax in the fourth annual Sears National Kids Cancer Ride.”

Michael Jones: Through the beauty of his music and the inspiration of his stories Canadian Michael Jones, a Juno nominated pianist/composer, leadership educator and award-winning author of Artful Leadership and Creating an Imaginative Life offers a unique and memorable experience.  “Who will play your music if you don’t?” he asks. By asking the question that he was once asked, Michael takes us on a journey to explore the heart of our own creativity. In so doing he engages others in a uniquely evocative exploration of how, through our gifts we can co- create environments where people can learn… and ideas can grow.

Michael’s 1983 debut recording PIANOSCAPES was the first release on the Narada/EMI Record label and also served as a benchmark for the  popular genre of contemporary instrumental music. Since that time he went on to produce fifteen more solo and ensemble recordings, appeared on more than twenty compilations and sold more than two million of his recordings worldwide.

Michael has performed in many settings including the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo Japan, the Seoul Art Center in Korea and The International Piano Festival in Montreal, Canada. He has also been a featured keynote speaker in leadership forums alongside such widely recognized thought leaders as Colin Powell, Peter Senge, Margaret J. Wheatley and Peter Block. And he has introduced his art in the facilitation of many large group engagement processes and worked with innovation teams within several  leading global businesses exploring the synergies between creative artistry, authentic leadership and collective learning and innovation.

Patrick O'Neil, acknowledged as a gifted teacher, mediator and mentor.

Patrick O’Neill has been studying the wisdom traditions of the world for over 25 years and has integrated them into his extensive teaching, mentoring and consulting work. He has worked with thousands of people, and scores of teams and is acknowledged as a gifted teacher, mediator and mentor.

Since 1988, Patrick has led Extraordinary Conversations Inc., a leader in transformational change management with organizations and individuals. His clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ontario Pension Board, Nestle, Labatt Breweries of Canada, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, The Boeing Company, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

Patrick O’Neill’s work has taken him to global corporations in North America and Europe; to the townships of South Africa; and to the peace process in the Middle East.

Scott Graham is a bestselling author, singer/song writer and sought after keynote speaker. Scott has inspired leadership skills in children for over twenty years. He has created the Kids 4 Kids Leadership Programs, summer camps and Heroes Academy, positively affecting over 18 000 children. One of Scott Graham’s Kids 4 Kids graduates, received a personal invitation from Nelson Mandela as the result of his leadership endeavours.

A leader in the Human Resources field Trish Barbato is also a certified fitness instructor, certified meditation instructor and a black belt in Kung Fu kickboxing. She is a CMA and a CA as well. Wow!

Patricia (Trish) Barbato is the author of “Inspire Your Career” and a recognized authority and speaker on career and leadership topics. She is currently Senior Vice President, Home Health and Business Development for Revera Inc., a health services and accommodation organization in North America. Trish oversees over 5,000 employees across Canada and is responsible for service-based acquisitions. Prior to Revera, Trish served as President and Chief Executive Officer of COTA Health; Vice President, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer for Providence Healthcare and Managing Director at Bayshore Healthcare.

Trish has been involved extensively with charities and non-profit groups. She is Past Chair, Big Brothers Big Sisters Council of Champions, Board Director, Quality Healthcare Network and founder and Director of the Shambhala Meditation Centre of Mississauga. She is a Big Sister to Little Sister Caitlin. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Ms. Barbato is a Certified General Accountant and a Chartered Accountant. She is also a certified fitness instructor, certified meditation instructor and a black belt in Kung Fu kickboxing.

Lifelong Burlington resident Spencer Campbell brought TEDx to Burlington.

Spencer Campbell, the man behind the idea of bringing TEDx to Burlington has lived in the city most of his life with the exception of times spent in Asia, Western Canada and a few other interesting places. A business consultant who encourages respectful honest debate, he has dealt with many leading corporations to start-ups. Spencer has travelled extensively, including, among other places, to Mt. Everest, Calcutta (where he met Mother Theresa) and the awe-inspiring ancient cave drawings of the Dordogne, France. Ask him what it felt like to look up and see a chalk outline of a mammoth drawn by one of our ancestral cave dwellers.

In 2010 Spencer was part of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride team that cycled from Vancouver to Halifax in 15 days to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer needs. “Working with a dedicated team, I am thrilled to help bring to our terrific city the prestigious TEDx event – the first of what is expected to be an annual event to listen, learn, reflect and share many great ideas.”

It’s quite a line up and another interesting first for Burlington. While the tickets are sold out – you will be able to go on line sometime after the event and watch all six of the 18 minute presentations.  The material will be at: and we will let you know when it is all on line.



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First thing Monday – check the weather, check your bike and if both are good to go – be at Elgin and Brant for breakfast on the city.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 25, 2012  – This is a whole new line of business for the Chamber of Commerce and if we don’t see CoC president Keith Hooey on a bicycle Monday morning we will sue for false advertising.  The Chamber has partnered with the city and the Regional government to sponsor the first Annual City-Wide Bike to Work Day Breakfast.

The event will terminate at the corner of Elgin and Brant, which isn’t exactly ground zero for the most jobs in the city – but we assume the Mayor has convinced everyone within city hall to bike in and that will fatten out the crowd.

You can enjoy breakfast and have your bike looked at while you’re there.  All the politicians will be on hand; prizes will be handed out including the grand prize of a trip for two to Quebec City courtesy of VIA Rail and a weekend cycling getaway to St. Catharines courtesy of Welcome Cyclists.

For more information on the grand prize, visit Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 1.  Not sure why the contest closes four days after the event – you will figure that one out.

It happens Monday, May 28 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Breakfast starts at 7:30. Ride your bike to the corner of Brant and Elgin Streets for 7:30 a.m. and chow down.

Burlington has been bitten by the bike bug and for those south of the QEW events like this are great.  But ways have to be worked out to get over that hump that crosses the highways and ducks under the railway tracks – that part of the city is a war zone for cyclists.

There are two events during the summer where parts of the city are going to be closed for Car Fee Sundays

City's biggest advocates for more bike use gather at the announcement for the Car Free Sunday Burlington has planned. All three will be on hand for the Bike to Work event that is taking place all across the Region and in many parts of the GTA.. The guy on the far right is Sound of Music honcho Dave Miller.

The first is June 10th, in the Appleby Line – Fairview part of town with the second taking place in the downtown core on July 15th.

Mayor Goldring has been a fan of using bicycles as much as possible and Councillor Jack Dennison is not only a bicycle fan but an avid cyclist as well – he’s the kind of guy that takes in five day cycling events as vacation time.

The city’s cycling Advisory Committee recently did a tour of the downtown opportunities to cycle and pointed out the gaps in the existing trails and those intersections where things were a little iffy for the cyclist.  One couple from north of the QEW admitted that they put their bikes in the trunk of their car and drove to the Central Library which was the gathering point for the event.

Great to see the city getting behind the idea of cycling more – now they can get behind the idea of making all those north of the QEW equal participants.




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It took a little while but police arrest Hamilton resident for assault at Club 54 on Harvester Road.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  It looks as if the Burlington detachment of the Regional Police are making it very clear that they will not put up with rowdy scenes in the “club” district along Harvester Road or the South Service Road part of town.

Way back in April there was an assault that sent a man to hospital with serious injuries.  There was an argument between two patrons outside Club 54, at 3345 Harvester Rd., in Burlington at  2:30 a.m.

The victim, a 21-year-old Oakville man, was punched in the head by another unknown male resulting in injury to the victim. The assailant fled the scene on foot and police are seeking assistance in identifying him.

He was described as white in his early 20’s, 5’6 to 5’8, small build with an olive/dark complexion and shaved head.  He was wearing a grey sweater, grey jacket and jeans.

The victim was transported to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

And that’s where things stood – until May 20th , when a comprehensive investigation and some police with keen observation skills made an arrest.

Charged with assault causing  bodily harm is Tariq HIJAZI, 24,  of Hamilton

The accused will next appear in court on June 20, 2012.

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Giant Hogweed; a nasty plant that can do a lot of damage. Spring is best time to remove it – call Conservation Authority for help.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  Giant Hogweed – This is not something you want to deal with until you know what you are doing. – There are many invasive species that can threaten the native plants in your garden, but probably one of the best publicized is Giant Hogweed, known for its tremendous height and the dangers from its sap.

Giant Hogweed has two major negative impacts. Firstly, due to its invasive nature, it poses a threat to native biodiversity. Secondly, it is  a public health hazard. It produces a noxious sap that sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet light. This is known as photosensitivity, which can result in severe and painful burning and blistering. It is important to avoid any skin contact with this plant.

If this plant, or anything that even looks like it is in your garden or on your property - remove it very carefully. Call the Conservation Authority if you need help.

If you have seen Giant Hogweed on your property in the past,  then now is the time to investigate, see if any small hogweed plants are coming up, and take steps to control or eradicate them. Late in the summer, when Giant Hogweed is a giant plant with big white flowers, it is easy to spot, but that is not necessarily the ideal time to try and control it. In fact, you could be putting yourself at significant risk, from the sap in the plant’s stem and leaves. Right now in the spring, when the plants are just starting to grow, is the best time to try and control it, and prevent it from producing seeds.

If you are considering doing the removal yourself, it is very important to wear proper protective clothing (waterproof fabric with long sleeves, high shoes, gloves, face and eye protection), so as to avoid skin contact with the sap. If you have a small patch of Giant Hogweed, then you can dig the plants up, but be sure the entire root is removed, and check the area again in two weeks for any re-growth.

Alternatively, if you have a large infestation, other control methods will need to be considered. In some cases, a herbicide used according to the label, and by a certified professional, is the best method of controlling this invasive plant.

Even if you undertook removal, or control, late last year, there likely will still be seedlings sprouting this year. To control an invasive species like hogweed you must be vigilant and return to the site to ensure control has been effective.

Giant Hogweed is known for its enormous size, reaching heights of 2.5 to 4m (8 to 14ft), with leaves up to 1m (3 ft) in breadth. It has a thick, 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) hollow stem. Its stem and the undersides of its leaves are covered in coarse hairs. Its large, umbrella-shaped flowers are white in colour and can be more than 30cm (1ft) in diameter.

With the heightened public attention given to Giant Hogweed over the last few summers, Conservation Halton received numerous ‘reports’ of Giant Hogweed that were actually a smaller, harmless plant that has a similar (but greatly smaller) white flower called Queen Anne’s Lace. If you are unsure whether you have Giant Hogweed, feel free to seek confirmation from an expert.  Call Conservation Halton and speak to Brenda Van Ryswyk, 905-336-1158, ext. 282, email or use the invasive species reporting form found on the  website


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She fought the good fight, won more than she lost and now takes a bow: Anne Swarbrick retires from Habitat for Humanity

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  – She’s done it all – fought the good fight, did what she thought was right; went public with personal health issues at a time when that just wasn’t done.

Anne Swarbrick, socialist, community activist – one of those that make a difference and will continue to make a difference took her last bow at Halton’s Habitat for Humanity and retired from that day to day activity.

Anne Swarbrick: Always front and center when it came to the right of the underprivileged.

Swarbrick served as a politician, public employee, labour representative and senior administrator of non-profit organizations. She was a New Democratic Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1995, and served as a cabinet minister in the government of Bob Rae.

Born in Toronto, Swarbrick entered public life after working as an Immigration Counsellor and Adjudicator at the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, as Regional Representative of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), as Special Projects Coordinator for Labour Community Services, and as Executive Assistant to the President of the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto and York Region, where her responsibilities included serving on the City of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee.

Her first run at politics was a 1987 run against Progressive Conservative member for Markham, Don Cousens. She lost that one but in the 1990 provincial election, she ran to succeed veteran NDP member Richard Johnston in the riding of Scarborough West.

The NDP won a majority government and Swarbrick won a landslide victory in her riding. She was named a minister without portfolio responsible for Women’s Issues. Among the Rae government’s initiatives for gender equality, Swarbrick became the first woman to Chair the Cabinet Committee on Justice Policy, traditionally chaired by the Attorney General. Her accomplishments included gaining a 43% increase in provincial funding to address violence against women and, along with provincial Health Minister Evelyn Gigantes, co-leading a delegation to the Canadian Senate that assisted in preventing passage of the then federal government’s legislation to re-criminalize abortion in Canada.

Swarbrick became involved in controversy in 1991 when it was revealed that she had written a letter to the head of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons asking for suspension of the license of a physician who had been convicted on five counts of sexual assault of his patients. That was a no, no and could have cost Swarbrick her seat in the Legislature but Liberal Party leader Bob Nixon expressed his view to the Ontario Legislature that, while it may not have been an appropriate action for a member of Cabinet, it was not one that should lead to her discharge.

Diagnosed with breast cancer during her fourth month in Cabinet, Swarbrick became the first Canadian public figure to be open about her battle in an effort to end the culture of silence about this then highly stigmatizing disease. As Swarbrick’ s treatments of chemotherapy and radiation continued to take their toll, she eventually resigned her position on September 11, 1991 in order to focus on her recovery.

Regaining her health, Swarbrick was again appointed to cabinet as Minister of Culture, Tourism and Recreation on February 3, 1993. Overseeing a wide range of provincial Crown corporations, her initiatives included support for the Art Gallery of Ontario to bring the world famous Barnes Collection to Toronto. She also assisted in gaining provincial funding for Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada. Swarbrick was not a fan of Bob Rae’s Social Contract legislation and the media had her threatening to resign but she didn’t actually do so.

Swarbrick lost her seat to Progressive Conservative Jim Brown  in the 1995 election but then so did just about every other NDP member.  With her political career at an end Swarbrick returned to the classroom and completed graduate studies and obtained her Master of Business Administration from  York University. She then served in a variety of leadership roles in the non-profit sector, including Manager of Toronto Operations for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Executive Director of the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange, and President and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation.

So – what kind of a lady is it that we have moving into retirement?  A scrapper for sure and while the hours she puts in will be a little shorter – don’t expect any of that talent to be wasted.

Ed McMahon, Chair, Board of Directors, put it all into perspective when he said at an Open House to honour and celebrate the retirement: “Anne has contributed in meaningful ways to the effectiveness of our affiliate. She has demonstrated her commitment to the vision and mission of our organization, and has built a professional staff team that is dedicated to serving our partner families and the community of Halton. We wish her well in her retirement.”



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Those with thick wallets and cheque books have needs too; hospital fund raiser brings understanding and experience to raising money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  –  The combination of very dark intensive eyes, energy galore and drive to spare, resulted in her serving as president of the Student Council at University of Western Ontario where she ended up doing fund raising for student events.  It was that look into her future at Western that Anissa Hilborn probably didn’t appreciate at the time but something she realizes now – fund raising was to be part of her journey.   She was going to raise funds for organizations that needed financial support.

Anissa Hilborn: Smiles on the job, brings a sophisticated approach to her fund raising work - Saturday night the announcements get made - how much has been raised to date?

After some exceptional fund raising work, which we will come back to, she is now the President of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation and tasked with raising $60 million and perhaps then some in an 18 to 24 month time frame.

She brings a combination of diplomacy, persistence, a lot of class and an ability to fully understand the needs of the donours she is meeting with to the job.

Pulling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to make up that $60 million also calls for a level of management skills.  There is a fund raising Cabinet that Hilborn works very closely with – this is very, very much a team effort.

“Fund raising” Hilborn points out “is an emotional business – you put everything you have into it – and then some.”

First phase of the re-development construction has started - funds have to be raised to pay for the work being done.

Currently a resident of Oakville Anissa and her family (twin girls) plan to move to Burlington when the school schedules can be worked out.

Hilborn serves under Brian Torsney, Chair of the Foundation.  We can expect to see Hilborn serve under a succession of Foundation chairs.

Hilborn has worked for one of the granddaddy of the fund raising groups; the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – an organization that went through a massive transformation from a location where patients with mental health issues were dealt with in a way we couldn’t think of doing today.

The CAMH had to not only re-develop themselves but at the same time had to educate the public on the changing approaches to mental health and then begin raising the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build the kind of organization that could meet the newly identified need.  It was a massive public relations job and a little appreciated fund raising achievement.  Hilborn comes to the JBMH Foundation a fully tested and proven fund raiser.  She certainly has her work cut out for herself here.

Prior to joining the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation Hilborn was with the ErinoakKids Foundation; an organization that dealt with a wide range of physical and/or developmental disabilities, communication disorders, autism.

Hilborn did the fund raising for a foundation that had more than 650 staff and 8 sites from which they provided a comprehensive array of medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families.  ErinoakKids worked from a family-centered philosophy with the focus on the strengths and resilience of their clients and their families.

She will work in much the same environment in Burlington.

Fund raising for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital comes together this Saturday night when the Annual Crystal Ball is held for the second year at the Mercedes Benz dealership on North Service Road.  It would be less than true to say that some of those attending the event will drive their Mercedes to the dealership and have their cars serviced while they wine, dine and dance the night away.

It will be an important occasion for the fund raising task the Foundation has before it now – there is $60 million that needs to be raised to match the amount the city is required to put up.  The city can tax its citizens, professional fund raisers don’t have that kind of power but they do have the gentle art of persuasion.  Some funds come from corporations who have a policy of supporting the community and a hospital is certainly a vital part of any community.

Some families have created trusts and they have a mandate to distribute the funds they hold to special places.  Hilborn has to convince them that the hospital is a very special place.

Waiting at the Foundation office door for donours to arrive. They will all be treated very, very well.

There are other situations where a family has suffered a tragic loss and they want to use some of their money to create a legacy, a lasting public memory and want to do so in a very unobtrusive yet meaningful way.

“Every donour brings their needs to the table” explains Hilborn “and my job is to be sure I fully understand the needs and am aware of the sensitivities that may be involved.  It is about a lot more than money.”

At the same time there are the realities of the larger world that have to be dealt with.  While the economic health of Burlington is  good – the 2008 recession left some deep scars that are still being dealt with – business isn’t what it used to be and along with being aware of and sensitive to the personal needs Hilborn has to be aware of the economy she is working in.

Holding the Crystal ball at a Mercedes Benz dealership is somewhat removed from the day to day life that the average Burlingtonians who will be using the hospital has to deal with.

The announcements that get made Saturday evening on just where the fund raising is at this point are important – critical actually.  It is vital that the community understand the significance of this first announcement.

The event takes place less than two days from now.  The hairdresser appointments have been made, the gowns are fitted or back from the cleaners.  The men will move from the casual wear that is quite common in many offices to the shiny black shoes and the tuxedos that may have been let out a bit.

Have fun!


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Burlington MPP McKenna doesn’t buy the government statement on how roaming black bears should be handled.

By Pepper Parr

Burlington, ON  May 24, 2012  Burlington MPP Jane McKenna isn’t letting the provincial government forget about the impact their budget cuts are having on this city. In a comment on a statement made by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the Legislature where he said:  “The plan has been, or the protocol has been, for many, many years that when there is an issue related to public safety, indeed we do suggest that you should be calling the police. If there’s a real public safety issue, the police are the ones who can manage that. There are more of them than there are of us in terms of managing that.

“We will continue to work with the police forces, particularly in situations of an emergency, and in fact, there’s a situation going on right now in southern Ontario, which always draws a lot of interest, when you have a bear down in southern Ontario. Our ministry people are working with the police force, in fact, in Halton right now. So the long and the short is that if indeed a decision is made, where it’s clear that there is some assistance required to potentially immobilize-i.e., tranquilize-the bear, we will still be in a position to do that.”

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna isn't buying the explanation the government has given about managing the black bear problem - and she knows her bears.

McKenna wasn’t buying that response from the Minister and said: “a 400-pound adult male black bear was shot to death in Mountainside Park by Halton police officers. They had contacted the MNR for help but no assistance was available.”

McKenna adds that “MNR staff reportedly advised Halton Police that in order to immobilize a bear it needs to be contained up a tree while the sedatives kick in — apparently this can take 15-20 min and in a residential setting, there is concern that the bear will still be on the move during that time.

She went on to say that “the City of Burlington’s Animal Control were also unequipped to deal with the situation, though they were contacted by police. It’s not hard to imagine why they’d be outmatched: I doubt they have ever had to contend with anything bigger than a Great Dane, and probably spend most of their time on skunks and raccoons.

McKenna believes there is “some mixed messaging going on anyway. In their coverage of this story, the CBC wrote that “Minister Gravelle… said that the ministry would no longer tranquilize and relocate rogue bears, arguing that the practice wasn’t working and bears continued to return to the same areas.” Which makes it sound they’re spending half the money but getting something totally useless.

McKenna, who seems to know a lot more about black bears and their habits reported that “black bear season generally runs mid-August to Halloween, but I don’t think Hamilton/Halton is zoned for that (Glanbrook maybe). Population displacement through increased development in rural areas is probably responsible for some of these unusual visitors, and the mild winter probably didn’t help either. Look at what’s happened to the fruit farmers in southern Ontario.

Police succesfully tranquilized this bear and then caught it when it fell to the ground. Burlington wasn't able to do this -we had to kill the bear we found.

“Black bears are omnivores but seem to be largely herbivores, eating mainly plants and berries but choosing meat when they find dead animals or garbage. Residents are advised to reduce risk of attracting bears by taking sensible steps: Store garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids, only put out garbage the morning of pickup (works against raccoons as well). Rethink your bird feeders, since suet, seed and nectar attract bears. And of course keep a clean grill — bears can smell food from a great distance and don’t mind traveling to get to it if they’re hungry.

McKenna adds that “police acknowledge that the shooting was a sub-par conclusion but say they didn’t have a lot of options. As it stands, it’s just another vivid example of the 2012 Budget in action. And we’ve barely even started.

It should be added that since the Legislature returned there hasn’t been a single piece of legislation passed.  The Legislature is due to break on June7th.

The issue of the police having the resources they need is being put on the table at a Halton Police Services Board meeting on Thursday by Burlington Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven.  You can bet that the police don’t ever want to find themselves in this kind of a situation again.

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She answers all the requests with – I’m on it and is about to turn the phrase into a business opportunity.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  –  I have for some time been looking for a real example of how social media actually did something for someone that was useful.  I know that it is something you can spend hours of your time on and it is certainly the one place where every inanity can be observed.

What I wanted to see was something that produced something for someone.  James Burchill and I pull a pint on occasion and we talk about the number of people who attend his Business in Burlington events – but did those events actually get anything done?

The first Meet Up was on the small side - but then it grew and James Burchill now pulls in well over 200 people at the Waterfront Hotel in Burlington - next event - June 6th. (Photo credit Margaret Lindsay Holton)

The Mayor of Burlington showed up at one of the Burlington events and the Mayor of Oakville made the scene at an event in that town – but other than handing out business cards and getting your face in front of someone else – what did you get?

We at Our Burlington did pull a number of news stories out of the event we attended and it was an opportunity for us to rub shoulders with people we might not have otherwise seen.  But was there real value – did I get something that I probably couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

We may have found an example.

Kim Neale, a woman who spent fifteen years in Call Centre management decided she wanted to get out on her own and developed a concept and began to market herself and the business she was building.  We will tell you about that in a moment.

She was also involved in the development of a community hospice two people in Milton wanted to get started and she was loaning them her marketing skills.  She wanted to have some T-shirts made up promoting the organization developing the hospice.

Neale does the “admin / executive asst. / social media strategy tasks for the Townsend Smith Hospice Foundation on a voluntary basis.  The story of that organization is interesting in itself – if getting a hospice off the ground interest you at all – take a look at what this group is doing; it’s a rather touching story. They’ve not put up a web site yet – but they can be reached at:     P. O. Box 489 – 420 Main street East Milton, Ontario L9T 5G3

Business in Burlington is more than a place to hand out your business cards - exactly what it is though is not yet clear. It's certainly a nice piece of promotion - but to what end?

Neale had been to one of the Business in Burlington events and decided to start a discussion group through which she asked – does anyone know where I can get quality T-shirts at a decent price.  She was wowed by the response.  People came back with strong referrals.  Yes, others jumped in saying, they supplied T-shirts and they could help.

What Neale wanted was recommendations from people and some sense as to how much money she was going to need to buy her initial run of T-shirts  Not only did she get names, with a specific person to call, but she found that several people recommended the same company.  Getting multiple strong references is about as good as it gets when you are looking for a supplier.

It all started with Kimberly asking:

I’m looking for a local promotional product company. Need quotes for printed T-Shirts for The Townsend Smith Hospice Foundation – a great…

The responses rolled in:

You need to call Ralph at Battlefield 905 662-1199 ext. 221

Nancy Schreiner of Excel Advertising 905 335 9784 or you can mention my name, we live in the same neighbourhood in Burlington

Contact Garrett at Brash Avenues. His number is 905-637-1578. They are a local Burlington business which I have dealt with personally on many occasions.

I would highly recommend Battlefield Advertising – they do all our promotional stuff. great company and they go above and beyond. Ralph at Battlefield 905 662-1199 ext. 221

Kimberly I see you have a few companies to choose from. If you need 1 more quote contact Sandy Stevenson @ or Cell: 416-209-4073. He lives in Burlington, and they SPECIALIZE in T-shirts, golf shirts, etc. Good luck! 🙂

In less than three days Kimberly had what she needed and ended her conversation with:  Very useful ! I spoke with some wonderful people and found the information I needed. Life is good!  Thanks BiB!!

So it works – not quite sure why this particular query worked when others don’t seem to be able to get any traction.  None of the companies that were referred were aware of what was being said about them.

Kim Neale proved you can make social media work for you - now she has to focus on her business and make that work for her and her client base.

So Neale will settle on one of the two T-shirt suppliers that came highly recommended.  Prices from both were about the same which was important for Neale.

The Halton Hospice will soon have their first run of T-shirts and that community opportunity will work through its own destination.  Meanwhile Kim Neale will get on with her own business – which has a name that says it all.  Her web site is Im on

The logo says it all - now all Kim Neale has to do is deliver on the brand.

The name says it all doesn’t it.  You know exactly what she does and you get the sense that she is efficient, quick and no nonsense.  The proof of course will be in the pudding – but if the brand name matters – this woman nailed it.

Her target audience is quite specific.  While she will work as a “personal assistant” for anyone,  she sees a market within the affluent seniors community – those that live in the high end retirement homes who want and can afford to have someone handle small administrative matters where confidence and trust are important.

Neale describes herself as “a freelance personal assistant that helps busy people and / or small business owners with their excessive task list, on an “as-needed” basis.”

The developing of the relationship with the senior and linking into their families is the stuff of developing a solid customer base.  Neale is developing relationships with several large residences where the residency costs are not cheap.  These people have significant disposable income and they want to spend it and not be tied down with all the details of getting small things taken care of quickly, efficiently and confidentially.




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Author is Mother of an 11 year old daughter, resident of Woodstock who has finally come to terms with the murder of Tori Stafford.

By Martha Emonts

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 23, 2012    For the past few weeks I have written over 12,000 words on the abduction and murder of Tori Stafford. I have tried to give you the one perspective that has been missing from most reports on the subject. While most articles have focused on what has happened to the victim, her family or the apprehended killers, I have tried to show you what Tori’s story has done to an average parent within the community and the community itself. Hopefully I have provided you with some insight into my hometown and how we felt about this tragedy.  All that is left to tell you is about my experience in writing this and maybe to answer a few questions that have crossed your minds while reading the various sections.

I didn’t tell many people I was publicly writing about the murder. I kept it quiet for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most prominent was that that the case was very emotional for my hometown. There was a great deal of debate over almost every aspect of the case, the vast majority of it rife with some form of controversy. You have to understand in a small town like Woodstock, old fashioned values and justice are still brimming near the surface. You’ll find more “eye for an eye” than “turning the other cheek”.

The trial renewed discussion about capital punishment, with even my own family disagreeing over the “what should be“ fate of Tori’s killers. Those discussions were not pleasant and involved a lot of heated words and flustered conversations. Some of my family knew I was writing these segments and followed along religiously- maybe not always agreeing, but okay with what I wrote because I kept things fair. A couple would call to tell me I was wrong and I shouldn’t have said something a certain way. And I only told the more tolerant ones. Could you imagine telling the others? Yeah,…not likely.

Now you might be thinking; wouldn’t I be worried they might stumble across my article and see what I wrote? You’re right, I was worried about that. But steps were taken to avoid that issue all together. No I didn’t email viruses to their computers. I did something much more devious- I adopted a pen name. Elizabeth Maloney does not exist anywhere but in my mind.  I`ll tell you a bit more about that in a minute.

For now, let`s go back to my clandestine existence of writing under a pen name about a topic that was highly controversial in my world. Articles were written late at night after my daughter was in bed, because with having a full time job, it was the only time I could put fingers to keyboard. Reviewing the heinous details of Tori`s tragic murder every night before bed, it’s a wonder I didn’t have nightmares.  The articles took their toll on me, leaving me raw with emotion some nights.

One such night, I made the mistake of watching part of the movie `The Lovely Bones`.  For those of you who have not seen the movie, its about a young girl who is murdered by a man in her neighbourhood and the story is about her transition from earth to heaven, watching her family and her murder from the place in between. There were so many similarities between the movie and Tori that I ended up in tears. It was probably the rawest and most emotional moment I felt while doing this series, but it was also the best. By the time I went to bed that night I felt I was meant to see that movie when I did. The little girl in The Lovely Bones resolves what she needs to and happily moves on to heaven feeling at peace with herself and filled with love for her family. That night, as the tears streamed onto my pillow, I imagined the same for Tori. I felt relief for that little girl. Knowing that she was probably looking down at us the same way and knowing she was finding the peace we were so badly struggling to find here on earth.

And on many nights my daughter went to bed puzzled at why her mother had insisted on hugging her several times before she went to sleep. Tori has reminded me that even though my daughter drives me absolutely crazy most of the time now, our time together is very precious. Neither my daughter nor I have been given a guarantee for tomorrow. The last thing I want her to hear from me at bed time is how much I love her and how she is the best thing I have ever done with my life. Tori has given me the greatest gift- the gift of appreciation for my child. In a world where we often put people off or let angry words get in the way, I have been given a powerful reminder of how we have to cherish every moment we can, because that moment just might be our last.

Martha Emonts, mother of an 11 year old daughter who wrote of the trial that convicted the murderer of Tori Stafford.

So today I put the last couple of things to rest. Today I let go of little Tori, hoping I did her some justice in my telling of the events. The little girl I have come to affiliate with my own child. I feel like Tori has become part of my life and having to let her go is proving more difficult than I had once thought. But let her go I must, because life must go on.

And lastly, today, I also put my pen name to rest. Over the weeks I have given you a glimpse into my thoughts and feelings, all while keeping you in the dark about my true identity. It was a necessity at the time but with the case resolved, the murderers firmly behind bars and everyone beginning to move on with their lives, it is time I fess up and do the same. These 12 segments you have loyally read for the past few weeks under the name of Elizabeth Maloney, actually belonged to me, Martha Emonts;  thirty-six year old mother of one beautiful 11 year old daughter and a proud resident of the City of Woodstock.

Editors note: Martha Emonts works in Burlington and sent us a note about what she felt was an error on our part in a piece we had written – she was right.  We corrected the mistake and in the process learned of her feelings about the trail then taking place in London, Ontario of the man accused of murdering  8 year old Tori Stafford in Woodstock, Emonts home town.  While not a Burlington story, Emonts works in Burlington/Hamilton in the finance industry and we felt her raw emotions were worth publishing.  Children being taken off the street and never again seen by their parents is, as Emonts’  put it: can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11


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Police surprised when they learn provincial ministry “doesn’t do that kind of work anymore”; had to shoot bear using untrained staff.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 23, 2012   Remember the difficulty the police had getting the help they needed with that black bear that was roaming around Mountainside Park last week?

They put in a call to the people that were thought to have the capacity to handle situations like this.

Turns out that the Ministry of Natural Resources isn’t in that business anymore but they neglected to tell the police forces across the province.

Properly trained police can handle situations like this. The Halton Regional Police thought this was the kind of thing the Ministry of Natural Resources handles - what a shock when they learned the provincial government doesn't do that anymore. The police did what they had to do and got very little thanks from the public for handling the problem.

The Animal Control people in Burlington apparently didn’t  know either.

Government cut backs were the reason for getting out of that line of business.  Public responsibility apparently wasn’t factored into the decision. Why didn’t the Ministry alert the police forces and then hold a work shop to teach the police what they need in the way of equipment and how best to handle dangerous animals that get into public spaces?

They could have perhaps sold some of the equipment to the police services as well.

Our Burlington has asked our MPP, Jane McKenna if she can ask some questions in the Legislature and do something to help the Regional Police do the job we expect them to do.

Learning that the Ministry of Natural Resources don’t tranquilize animals that have to be removed from an areas must have come as a shock to the police as they scurried around trying to get the help they needed.

You can bet the Regional Police are adding a line to their budget for the equipment needed to do this job and the funds to train staff.



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“Get the politics out of it – and put the turbine on the Pier” advises BurlingtonGreen.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 23, 2012

Something’s just get completely bedeviled and no matter what you do – things still go wrong.  Is Burlington going to be defined by a Pier that just seems to be plagued with problem after problem?  Have you noticed that the construction site isn’t exactly a beehive of activity?

Stripped to the bare essentials with not much more than the caissons and the apron in place - the Pier awaits new beams. It was expecting to see a neat turbine mounted on the east side that would power the lights at night but that is in a solid state of confusion right now.

Let’s take the most recent developments one at a time.  The turbine – it was a device that was going to make the Pier different and it would provide the energy to light up the lights that would illuminate the Pier at night.  City Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum said “once the lights are on at night they would forever shape the view people had of Burlington”.  Eichenbaum is a decent man who does his job with efficiency and dispatch; the kind of person you want in the job he has.  When there are problems, and there are always problems in construction, Eichenbaum usually comes up with an innovate solution.  The one observation is that the solutions are sometimes a little on the expensive side.

What the city calls Phase Two of the Pier construction,  is tooling along; the steel beams that were not up to specifications were taken out and are in storage.  Highly qualified and expensive consultants are in place and we have a construction company that has a good reputation under contract.  What could go wrong?  Guess what – things went wrong – just a bit.

The city has project management software telling them what has to be done when and they were approaching the point where some attention should be paid to the construction, installation and all that kind of stuff, related to the turbine.  Then, right out of the blue, Burlington Hydro advises the city that they cannot take an energy feed from the turbine into the Cumberland Street transformer station.   What!

This project has been on the table for more than six years.  Hydro, which is owned by the city, put up $100,000 to pay for the turbine.  And now they tell us that the energy created by the turbine cannot be fed into the electricity grid.  There are people at city hall spitting teeth on this one.  Unbelievable.   Eichenbaum does what he does – and comes up with a solution – for just $70,000,  the city will install a battery pack in the electrical utility room which is almost directly under where the turbine will sit.  The energy created by the turbine will be fed into the battery pack and be used to keep the Pier lights on at night.

It is not a solution city council wants to go anywhere near and they nix the idea in a unanimous vote at committee level.  We report that development.

Everything that happens at committee goes to Council for a final vote.  Not so fast say the good folks over at BurlingtonGreen – and they delegate at city council.  While Amy Schnurr does an admirable job of stating the BurlingtonGreen case she does not  change any minds.  Schnurr is not happy – she does not like situations where common sense and a strong  belief in the need to pay much more attention to the environment are not given their due.

This council doesn’t want to approve any more spending on the Pier.  While it is regrettable they say – that Hydro cannot take an energy feed – that’s the way it is and they are prepared to live with that for today and perhaps at some point in the future they city will revisit the idea.

BurlingtonGreen isn’t easily dissuaded.  They dig in and do some homework.  And they learn that an energy feed can be handled by the Cumberland transformer station and that apparently the permits to do that are all in place.

More teeth are spit out at city hall.  Telephone calls are made, one can hear the sound of teeth grinding.

Understanding how this confusion came about is a little complex – the transformers are part of the Hydro One operation.  They manage the grid and they determine what can be fed into the grid and what cannot be fed into the grid.  Capturing energy and feeding it into the grid is something everyone wants to do these days and Hydro One can only handle so many situations at any one time.   To manage the many requests Hydro One set up a systems where applications are invited for a specific time frame – perhaps three months.  Hydro One chooses the ones they can handle and approve and they advise those chosen and issue the permit.  The is relatively complex – the one thing the OPA will not let happen is have someone suddenly begin feeding energy into a transformer that is not set up to handle it.  It’s a process and it takes time.

Organizations make their applications and if they are accepted they are advised.  All those not accepted get thrown out and when the new window opens new applications have to be submitted – sounds kind of dumb but that’s the way it apparently works and Burlington is not going to get that changed.

The Burlington Hydro people had been making applications – not making the cut and re-applying, apparently for some time.  Suddenly they are accepted but someone at Hydro fails to tell the city but BurlingtonGreen manages to find out

So – BurlingtonGreen is right – and Burlington Hydro is lousy at communicating.

The communication between BurlingtonGreen, the Mayor, who for some reason inserted himself into this when he should have delegated it to his staff and stayed above the fray, was interesting and confusing.

This all started with a Staff report on the power feed problem.  Engineering said the city council committee”

“In January 2012, the Project Management Team met with Burlington Hydro staff for an update on the wind turbine installation. Hydro staff advised that the transformer station serving the downtown area is not adequately configured to accept feed-in (surplus power) from the pier wind turbine.

“An upgrade of the transformer station to accept renewable energy from the pier and other sources is fairly expensive and not currently planned for the immediate future.

“In order to maximize the usage of the pier wind turbine power, staff have authorized the pier design consultant and contractor to revise the wind turbine configuration to have on-site excess power captured using battery packs. The cost of this reconfiguration, including the batteries, is about $70,000 and will be funded from the overall project contingency (approximate total project contingency allowance of $890,000). The overall appearance of the wind turbine will be the same and the battery packs will be housed in the existing pier electrical room. *NOTE: Having discussed the extra costs of the battery pack option and the overall merit of the wind turbine, Community Services Committee approved the following recommendation for consideration by City Council on April 30, 2012: “”Direct the General Manager of Community Services to have the turbine eliminated from the Brant Street Pier project.” Should council approve this option, the wind turbine will deleted from the project.”

Tom Eichenbaum, P. Eng. Director of Engineering Community Services Division

As you would expect, BurlingtonGreen is very disappointed with the unanimous decision of Council to cancel the pier wind turbine.

In a delegation to city council BurlingtonGreen says:

“It would have served as an important symbol of Burlington’s commitment to innovation and economic growth as well as providing environmental benefits. We believe the decision to cancel it will send a strong signal counter to our collective goals.

“Of additional concern is Council’s unwillingness to explore creative (i.e. privately funded) solutions to support the added costs for the project and unwillingness to defer the item to allow for public awareness and an invitation for meaningful engagement. This appears to be very much at odds with this Council’s expressed commitment to do a better job at this.

“ Moving forward, without the benefit of a staff report our team has some questions I am hoping you can answer or direct to the appropriate staff member.

1. What are the next steps with the wind turbine unit? Who owns it? Is it available for use elsewhere in the City? Will there be any costs as a result of cancelling the turbine order and if so , what is the amount?

2. There were Council comments about a preference to redirect the 100k from Hydro (earmarked for the turbine) to support another, more effective renewable energy project in the City. We would like to learn more about this opportunity and what the process will include as far as specific project opportunities, the 100K funding redirection and the projected timing of this.

3. We would like to know how and when the cancellation of the wind turbine will be communicated to the citizens of Burlington. Thank you in advance for your attention to these inquiries and we look forward to a response.

Amy Schnurr, Executive Director, BurlingtonGreen 

They don’t manage to win the debate at city council but they do dig down and learn that the city can in fact feed energy into the grid.  They write the Mayor:

“We believe the inaccurate information shared at Committee and Council meetings and followed up in the media regarding the pier wind turbine was misleading to the public and harmful to the renewable energy industry. We trust the following information will be considered helpful in getting the turbine installation back on track as planned.

“Below is our understanding of the turbine and its installation based on information from Hydro One, the wind turbine manufacturer and the wind turbine installation company (We have not received a reply to our request for confirmation from Burlington Hydro at this time).

1. The wind turbine energy can feed into the transformer and the permits are in place. Counter to what has recently been reported, no added battery packs are required. If you did want to add a battery pack (although not necessary), the cost would be $11,800 not the reported $50,000.

2. The “$200,000 plus” figure quoted by Councillor Dennison is not accurate. The wind turbine feature has already been paid for by Burlington Hydro via a $100,000 contribution. The invoice we have reviewed states a total cost for the turbine including installation to be $89,819 leaving a project surplus of $10,181 available to support any hydro connection costs that may be required.

3. We understand the city already has in its possession some of the components of the turbine at a cost of $52,000 and that there could be an additional cancel order fee if the project was not to proceed.

4) The wind turbine is a small 10 kW unit and yet it is a good investment, both financially and environmentally. Unlike other infrastructure expenditures in the City, renewable energy projects produce a financial return. Projected energy revenue for the wind turbine is estimated to be $3000 per year and instead of lighting the pier lights with conventional energy supply and paying for it, you will be using “free” wind power and setting a clear example of Burlington’s innovation and environmental leadership.

Considering these facts and continuing to recognize the benefits to the City of Burlington, we look forward to seeing the City proceed with the pier wind turbine project.

Amy Schnurr, Executive Director, BurlingtonGreen

BurlingtonGreen issues a statement saying it is very disappointed with the unanimous decision of Council to cancel the pier wind turbine.

The Mayor then makes a tactical mistake and responds to the Burlington Green people directly saying:

1. No wind turbine has been purchased. There could be a change order fee for cancelling the turbine component due to time spent on this by the contractor. Staff does not believe that fee will be greater than $10,000.

2. The potential for a meaningful renewable energy project is up for discussion during the Community Energy Plan process. There is nothing specific in mind at present. ( I am sure you are aware of the solar panel installation that is on the roof of the new Fire Station number 8.)

3. The cancellation of the turbine has been communicated in both The Spec and The Post. All pier updates are added to the city website.

I have had several positive comments about council’s decision and I know Councillor Meed Ward has heard from several residents by email that support removal of the turbine from pier as well.

If you have any other questions, please let me know.

That’s a brush off if I ever saw one – and BurlingtonGreen is not a crowd that is easily brushed off.  If it comes to going toe to toe – Amy Schnurr is going to best the Mayor every time.

It is now possible to feed energy from the turbine into the grid and BurlingtonGreen wants the city to get on with it.

There was a turbine at least partially built by the original contractor  Henry Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. but they apparently want more for it than the city is prepared to pay.  BurlingtonGreen makes mention of “parts” of a turbine that are “somewhere” and city hall isn’t being as transparent as it perhaps could be, should be on this whole file.

There’s more – there is a reason why there is no construction activity down on the Pier.  That one is being worked at.  Stay tuned.

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They’re back; bureaucrats beaver away at maps showing where the highway we were promised would not be built is going to go.

By Sue McMaster

Co-chair, Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment.


BURLINGTON, ON  May 23, 2012  The Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) is calling on the Provincial Government to stop wasting money, especially on a highway they promised not to build: the Niagara to Greater Toronto Area (NGTA) highway.

Despite facing immense fiscal challenges, the McGuinty government is quietly spending money on the NGTA highway that local governments and citizens oppose in part because it will divert money from transit and make traffic congestion worse by dumping more traffic onto the already overloaded GTA highways. Moving ahead with the highway also contradicts a Liberal pre-election promise.

The purple lines are the ones you want to pay attention to - this is where they want to build a six lane highway.

Legend for map displayed.

In August 2011, prior to the October election, then Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that Ontario’s Liberal government would not build the western portion of the Niagara to GTA highway. “We were pleased that Minister Wynne saw the logic in our group’s position: a highway isn’t needed now and, with gas prices rising rapidly and congestion in the GTA, it certainly won’t meet Ontario’s needs in years to come. Evidently, that promise vanished after the election,” says Susan McMaster of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE).

Back in 2002 COPE, a member group of the SEHC, led public opposition to the NGTA, then known as the Mid-Peninsula Highway. Planned to run from Fort Erie, through Flamborough it would meet up with the 407 in North Burlington. “They said we needed a highway in the area, but their assessment and numbers didn’t add up,” says McMaster. “The GTA was and is experiencing significant congestion; anybody could look at a map and note that the highway is a bad idea.” Public pressure forced the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to take a second look at the project and they conceded that no highway was needed – at least between the Fort Erie and Flamborough section, but the push remained to build a highway through the heart of rural Flamborough and Burlington – until Minister Wynne’s empty pre-election promise.

Mayor Goldring didn't look as if he believed then Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne during the provincial election. There is a different Minister now and they are talking a different story.

“Going ahead with the planning for this highway after they said they wouldn’t build it is pure folly” said Geoff Brock, Chair of SEHC. “An Ontario Government Agency, Metrolinx, has mapped future congestion in the GTHA. It is exactly where anybody in the GTHA knows it will be. Starting in Burlington and increasing Eastward on the way to downtown Toronto. This highway we’re talking about – skirts the Western end of Burlington – culminating at Burlington and putting more pressure on an already severely congested area.”

Brock notes that at a recent Transportation Forum organized by the Federation of Urban Neighborhoods (Ontario) in Markham the message was clear – congestion will not be solved by more roads. We’ll be adding 2.5 million people to the GTHA in the next 20 years, and we won’t solve our congestion problem with more expressways. “There was a lot of anger expressed at the lack of transit,” he says. Clearly there’s a disconnect between what the MTO is planning for transportation and what people want.”

The SEHC is ramping up the pressure on the Provincial government to honour their promise and to build transit. The SEHC wants Premier McGuinty to give the money being spent on the NGTA

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Tireless worker finally recognized. Tymstra given the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award. Congratulations.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 19, 2012  The Rotary Club of Burlington Central did something recently that should have been done some time ago, which was to recognize Deb Tymstra for the contribution she has made to the arts in Burlington.

The Paul Harris Fellow Award was given to Tymstra for her “tangible and significant assistance for the furtherance and better understanding of friendly relations among peoples of the world”.  That doesn’t tell the half of what Deb Tymstra has done for Burlington.

We have in the past been critical of some of the governance practices of the organization Tymstra created but that criticism can’t for a second take away from the job she did during the years of tireless work in advancing the arts in this city.

Always an artist at heart, Deb Tymstra worked tirelessly on behalf of the arts in Burlington. Rotarian Award richly deserved.

The early, hard, ground breaking work done when a performing arts centre wasn’t much more than a glimmer in the eyes of Mike Wallace and Walter Mulkewich got done by Tymstra.  She didn’t do it all but she was always there doing the work that had to be done.

She was both tireless and shameless in raising funds, raising the profile of performers in Burlington and never letting the community forget what it needed.

When the fund raising for the building of the Performing Arts Centre began, it was Tymstra who stepped forward with a $64,000 donation which amounted to almost all the money in the till of her organization.

When the people behind the building of a centre decided they wanted to use the name  “Performing Arts”, which Tymstra had for her organization, she graciously stepped aside and came up with a new name for the works she was doing in the community.

Creative Burlington didn’t last as long as Tymstra had hoped but its closing had nothing to do with the passion and dedication she brought to the drive to develop not only a place for the performing arts to perform but the information and contacts of the people who did the performing.

Tymstra was never adequately recognized by the Burlington Performing Arts Centre people.  Thankfully the Rotarians saw the gap and filled it.

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