Pier court case still chugging away – legal fees getting higher and higher; public kept in the dark.

October 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  We don’t hear much about the Court cases related to the construction of the pier other than the Mayor saying he hoped to be able to tell the public just how much has been spent on lawyers so far.

There is much, much more to the legal quagmire the city has itself in.

The lawyers are STILL in their Discovery process; they were going through this phase for large parts of the week before last and some now realize that this case is not likely to get to Court in the near future.

No one is prepared to say just how much longer this process will go on.  Each of the parties involved in the dispute keeps asking questions of the city and every time that happens more information comes to the surface that results in even more questions

Involved in the litigation are the following corporations: Harm Schilthuis and Sons Limited vs. the Corporation of the City of Burlington

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Zurich Insurance Company Ltd.

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., Aecom Canada Ltd., Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, P.V &V Insurance Centre Ltd. et al (Insurance Claim)

The Corporation of the City of Burlington vs. Aecom Canada Ltd.

Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. vs. Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, P.V. & V Insurance Centre Ltd., the Corporation of the City of Burlington, Craneway Equipment Ltd. (Insurance Claim)

The week that Tom Eichenbaum was named  Engineer of the Year by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and the Hamilton/Halton Engineering Week Committee, he also spent much of his time in Discovery being examined on his involvement related to the construction of the pier at the foot of Brant street.

The award recognizes those who “exemplify the character of the engineering profession and have inspired the young, contributed to their communities, excelled as engineers and researchers, fostered achievement in those around them, and mentored the next generation of engineers.”

Gathered out on the pier before construction was completed, from left to right are:  Brad Cassidy, Tom Eichenbaum, Craig Stevens and a Graham Infrastructure employee.

Some at city hall questioned the criteria used by the Engineering Society in the selection of members they wish to publicly acclaim.  Eichenbaum’s credibility had taken a big hit when the city manager had to apologize publicly for errors Eichenbaum had made around the inclusion of a wind turbine on the pier.  The city eventually decided to forget about including a wind turbine.

At some point an exasperated Judge will bring the Discovery process to a halt after which the parties involved have to take part in some form of mediation.  Can all this be done and then a trial take place before the next municipal election takes place on October 28, 2014?  Many are beginning to doubt that – which will make members of this council happy campers.  Were trial testimony to come out during an election all but one member of this Council would be wearing a thick coat of mud on their faces.

Ward two Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been the only Councillor who has consistently said the city has significant responsibility for errors made and that a settlement has been possible for some time.

It is believed that the office of the city’s solicitor has become concerned about the quality of the city’s case and that there are two members of Council suggesting the city look for a way to settle.  The Gazette is not aware of who the second Councillor might be.

We do know that at the end of each Discovery session transcripts are on the desks of all the lawyers involved the following day and pored over in some detail by city legal staff.  We are advised that the information in those transcripts has not improved the city’s position.

In the event that the case actually goes to trail all this information will become public.

The public loves the pier – they just don’t know yet what the full cost is going to be. The total cost will be a whopper. High enough to make political heads roll? The politicians just might manage to run out the clock.

Meanwhile the public just loves the pier.  Ask people how they feel about the cost and they just shake their heads and wonder what they can do about any of that at this point in time.

Wait until they hear how much the city is going to have to take from taxpayers to settle the judgement that many expect to see Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd.  awarded.

At some point the city might decide it is time to settle – they have had at least one opportunity to do so.  If they do look for a gag order to ensure the public never gets the details.

The public does not yet have any detail on the waterfront land the city has decided to sell to private interests.  The law suits surrounding the construction of the pier might get the same “you don’t need to know” treatment.


City’s Court case.

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Masquerade Ball resounding success – we tell the story in pictures.

October 27, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was a SOLD OUT event.  No numbers yet on exactly how much was raised but the auctioneer was really  busy for a part of the evening.

Angelo Paletta worked the room of the Burlington Community  Foundation Masquerade ball like a politician running for office.

It was a fun night where Angelo Paletta, this year’s Patron for the Burlington Community Foundation annual fund-raiser,  worked the tables so well one might have thought he was running for office.

There were there to dine, to dance, to raise additional funds and just have a good time. The setting made all that possible.

The Burlington Convention Centre was very nicely decorated with the event where the masquerade theme dominated.  

The evening was part social, part fund-raiser and the occasion when Murray and Diane Hogarth the Philanthropists of the year were celebrated and honoured for what they have given back to the community.

This wasn’t an occasion to take name of identify the “usual suspects” but a time to catch people in an environment they are comfortable in. Deals and conversations are always part of the social mix.

The Burlington Community Foundation is an organization that works on several levels for the city.  Besides holding a boffo ball – it has a structure that serves the people who want to donate some of the wealth and their talent to the community.  The Hogarth’s are the first couple recognized as philanthropists in Burlington and they are the fourth to be so honoured.  Predecessors were: Don Smith, Kevin Brady, Doug Leggat and now Diana and Murray Hogarth.

The Foundation collaborates with individuals and corporations to build endowments, give grants and connect community leadership.  There are currently more than 55 funds overseen by the Foundation with Donour Designated, Donour Advised, specific fields of interest; scholarship based and unrestricted funds.

Philanthropy is not just people giving money – it is service to the community where talent is as relevant as the size of the cheque that might be written.

Each year the Foundation produces a Vital Signs report setting out where the city is on a number of different socio-economic levels and highlighting areas of specific concern to the community.

That is a great smile!

Mental Health was highlighted as a very serious concern and one that will be given more attention through a Roundtable the Foundation will sponsor in the New Year.

There are other organizations that use the Foundation to distribute funds into the community.  The Halton Heros leave the funds they have raised with the Foundation and have the organization deliver the funds when there is a need.  The service allows an organization to focus on fund raising and not get bogged down with the investment and management of the funds raised.

How two women can have a conversation and ignore a Bobby Orr sweater defied understanding – well male understanding anyway.

When it came to bidding for items it was clear this woman knew what she wanted.

Foundation Executive Director Collen Mullholland makes sure the event Patron Angelo Paletta stays on track

Fist full of dollars. One unique auction item was a high end purse stuffed with cask. The winning bidder got the purse and a tax receipt for the cash which went to the Foundation.

He needed just that much more – and the deal might have been done or perhaps it was just that much more for the golf ball to go into the hole. We will never know which.

A ball is a social event – where people spend as much time walking as they dancing and dining. Gives everyone a chance to check out the gowns as well.

You dance with the person who brought you – and dance they did.

Do the masques hid the beauty?

This wouldn’t be a Burlington organization if there wasn’t an invitational golf tournament as well. The Foundation distributes funds to an extensive list of organization including ArtHouse, Bay Area Restoration, Bruce Trail, Burlington Art Centre , Canadian Mental Health Association, Conservation Halton Foundation, Danielle’s Place, Easter Seals, Food for Life, Habitat for Humanity, Halton Food for Thought,  Reach Out Centre for Kids ROCK, , Start2Finish and the YMCA.

Later in the week the Foundation will announce what was raised and move on to the next project which in a few short months will be the Roundtable on Mental Health and the impact that is having on our community.

We asked Ashley to cover the Masquerade Ball, seen as the premier social event in Burlington, where the funds raised go to the Burlington Community Foundation.

One table insisted on posing for the camera – something we don’t do much of.  We prefer to catch people as they are rather than what they want the camera to see.  But this bunch of happy campers had bid on a Bahamas Cruise and invited our photographer to tag along and do an expose on the crowd.  This might be a Burlington Ashley Sloggett could get used to

A night out doesn’t mean the home front doesn’t have to be looked after – this couple work the phones – perhaps to determine just where the kids are.  I’ll call this one – you call that one.

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Electronic polling by the city: a good opportunity for citizen over site and engagement.

October 27, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  City Hall is getting into electronic public opinion polling.  They are going to create a panel of 5,000 citizens who will be asked a series of questions from time to time.  Citizens will be able to respond from their cell phone, tablets, lap tops and desk tops.  The only media you won’t be able to use is Morse code.  This service, expected to roll out before the end of the year is going to be called Insight Burlington.

It’s an approach that is certainly worth looking at – what are the possible downsides to this?

At the public meeting where the plans were passed along to the public 50+ people made it clear they didn’t want this service run by the politicians.

They wanted to know who would decide what the questions should be?  How much of the data would the public actually get to see and who would be accountable for what gets done with both the inputs and the outputs.  Mark Twain often used a phrase thought to have been coined by former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

That pretty well sums up the public perception of survey information which is something city hall is going to have to deal with.

Are surveys an example of a city council governing by polls?  Do surveys become mini-referendums that result in policy?  Where does political leadership come into play?  If one went by the letters to the editor in a local newspaper when the pier was going through a very difficult patch (mostly the result of terrible project management on the part of the city – but that’s another story) the structure would have been torn down.  Go out on the pier at almost any time of day and ask people if they think the project should have been scrapped?

A collection of opinions is a snapshot of where thinking is at a particular moment and depends heavily on a public being fully informed.  Hard to call Burlington a fully informed city – the Shape Burlington report that came out just over three years ago identified a significant “information deficit” that no one would claim has been anywhere near resolved.

Julian Marquis was heavily involved in the development of the Citizen Engagement Charter and registered to be on of the 5,000 people who will be part of the Insight Burlington initiative.

When the public gets told that the city did not live up to its usual high standard of communications during the debate on the sale of the Water Street properties one is tempted to ask – and why was that?  The question was not asked.

The flow of information and the balance that flow is given is critical.  The city spends close to $1 million on communications when you include their advertising, salaries and printing costs.  That allows the city to tell its story in the way it chooses to tell the story.

Will City Hall have the same tight grip on this electronic medium?  Is there room here for some civilian oversight?  Could well be.

About a year ago the city could not handle the flak that was coming out of the very differing opinions on historical homes and the way they were being put on registries with some property owners thinking their homes would be designated as historical and see a diminished value placed on them.  The city failed miserably to educate the public but did have the foresight to re-organize the Heritage Advisory Committee and tasked it with cleaning up the mess.

And clean it up they did.  That Advisory Committee did such a tremendous job that the members of city council actually gave them a standing ovation and a significant budget to complete the job which is going to include creating a web site that will tell Burlington’s stories and how they relate to historical properties.

It is clear that wisely constituted advisory committee can work.

Because there is some well-founded concern over who is going to determine what questions get asked with the electronic polling panel does it not makes solid sense for there to be some citizen oversight right from the beginning?

The city has an Engagement Charter that is marooned somewhere in city hall where it is now just a document gathering dust.  It needs to be brought out and given a little exercise and made live and relevant.

So why not create an Advisory Committee that would be responsible for the intelligent use of the Engagement Charter and for citizen over site of the Insight Burlington operation.  You can bet that the council members will look for ways to ask questions in such a way that they get the answers they want to approve the actions they want to take.  They do it now during citizen delegations where there is just the one citizen standing before Council.  Imagine what they will do when they say there are 5,000 people who see it their way?

We can think of at least one person on Council who would jump at this idea and two of the potential candidates in the municipal election who would see merit in this.  They might even make it part of their platform.

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The New Battle in the Online Payment Sphere: Amazon vs PayPal

October 26, 2013

By James Burchill

BURLINGTON, ON.  Amazon has launched a service called Login and Pay with Amazon which allows partner sites to enable a Pay with Amazon payment button that can process purchases through the Amazon system. This competes directly with PayPal and merchant services and could become a serious competitor for eBay’s payment processing giant. It’s also something that could give Amazon a third income arm to augment the warehousing sales and cloud services it has built its business on.

Amazon moves into yet another sphere of the online commerce world: payment services.

The new Login and Pay with Amazon combines the current Amazon payments services with a new login service similar to Google or Twitter login systems for websites. Together, the combined services offer a one-stop integration for Web payments in a way similar to how PayPal’s payments button works.

This will allow Amazon’s business partners to tap into the 215 million active customer accounts that the company has on tap. According to Tom Taylor, Vice President, Amazon Payments, ‘Login and Pay with Amazon enables companies to make millions of our customers their customers by inviting online shoppers with Amazon credentials to access their account information safely and securely with a single login.’

Until now, Amazon payments services have directed users to Amazon’s website to authorize the purchase – if you’ve invested in Kickstarter projects, you’ve no doubt seen this in action. This new setup works the same way, but doesn’t require the site redirect and can work in a window or directly on the merchant’s site.

On top of the payments option, this new login service also means that websites can accept Amazon credentials as a login, in the same way they use Facebook, Twitter or Google login authentication. This opens up possibilities for a whole cottage industry of services working in and around Amazon’s consumer offerings like streaming video, audio, etc. Since it works through a simple oAuth implementation, developers will have no difficulty adding it to a site. Amazon’s inclusion of their A to Z Guarantee for this authentication service will only bolster consumer confidence.

For those who travel, you’ll see the new Login and Pay with Amazon in action when you use Gogo WiFi in flight on an air flight later this year – the company plans to have it implemented before the big holiday season of flying begins next month.

For its part, PayPal is not sitting on its laurels waiting to be ousted from the market. The company recently acquired BrainTree, a cross-site payments solution, and has unveiled a physical payment option that can be used in brick-and-mortar retail establishments to pay for goods and services. This would allow small businesses to accept payments via PayPal by having their phone or register bill the client or the client can pay and their phone will produce a QR code that the clerk at the register can scan to complete the transaction. A random four-number code can also be produced which can then be entered into the keypad of the credit card reader at the register to complete the sale.

Still, with Amazon now horning in on their core business, PayPal must be worried. Amazon, meanwhile, is poised to take yet another big chunk of the web’s profit potential and add it to their portfolio.

James Burchill creates communities and helps businesses convert conversations into cash.  He’s also an author, speaker, trainer and creator of the Social Fusion Network™ an evolutionary free b2b networking group with chapters across southern Ontario.  He blogs at JamesBurchill.com and can be found at the SocialFusionNetwork.com or behind the wheel of his recently acquired SMART car.

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The city wants your insights – they are going to go electronic and online to get them and spend $100,000 to make this happen.

October 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Governing is all about information.  Power is also all about information.

How does one get that information?  And just what is the information?

Those were questions and concerns that got raised at a meeting last Thursday at the Performing Arts Centre where Burlingtonians got to listen to one of the greatest public polling practitioners this country has ever had.  Angus Reid was in town to talk about Insight Burlington

Surrey, BC resident responding to an online poll. Burlington will be using the same service to learn what 5,000 Burlingtonians think about issues the city faces.

Mayor Goldring explained Insight Burlington as the city’s new online public consultation and citizen engagement community.  It is an online consultation community where participants will weigh in on important city issues by participating in online surveys and discussions via their smart phones, computers and tablets.  Insight Burlington is powered by Vision Critical’s online community platform, connecting busy people with their city via ongoing consultations and engagement, on their time and on their terms. It is expected to launch early next year.

This “engagement community” will be made up of a panel of 5,000 people – perhaps more.  If you want to be on the panel use the link at the bottom of the page to  add your name to the list – when the panel is being put together you will be advised and given a chance to be part of the process.

Well – just what is that process – how will it work and who controls the process.  While Burlingtonians are decent,  polite people they ask questions and want to be sure their interests are being put first.

The city wants to engage its citizens and they know that there has to be something better than the current council delegation process.  Angus Reid told the audience what they already knew:  “We’re increasingly turning to digital and mobile technology, it’s time for public institutions and local governments to engage people where they are spending time: online.

The Mayor gets emails constantly and told of an occasion when he was in bed, reading a book on his e reader when a “tweet” suddenly showed up on the screen.  He had forgotten to turn that feature off.

If 5,000 Burlingtonians had been asked what they wanted the city to do with the Water Street property they recently agreed to sell to private interests – would we have seen a different decision? Is electronic opinion gathering going to make a difference to the way city council decides?

We live in a society where everything is “on” all the time.  People want information – now.  The city would like to know what people think – now, while a decision is being made.

So Burlington is buying into a service that lets the city create a panel of 5,000 people who will get messages asking them what they think about specific issues.  People will be able to respond instantly through their cell phone, their tablet, their lap top or their computer at home.

The city will tabulate the results instantly and know what the prevailing views of these 5000 people are on the questions being asked.

Who is going to choose those 5000 people several in the audience wanted to know.  They won’t be chosen explained Angus Reid – they will self-select.  If you want to be on the panel then you put yourself on the panel.  What if some organization has all its members rush to be on the panel and thereby dominate the responses?

The technology built into the system will catch things like this the audience was told.  So if there I technology involved then someone does have control?

Gets complex and at some point one has to trust the people running the operation.

OK – who will be running the operation at city hall?  Well it won’t be the council members.  OK – who will be running the operation at city hall?  Well it won’t be the council members.  The Insight Burlington process will be run out of the office of the city manager.  Good – we happen to have a first-rate city manager – but he will retire at some point – if we don’t burn him out before he retires.

The city has an Engagement Charter and some thought this information gathering service could be tied into that.  Good idea – one that needs some additional thinking.

Mayor Goldring explained some of the ways the Insight Burlington service would work.  People just don’t have the time to get out to meetings where they listen to a presentation and then stand in line to get to a microphone to make a comment.  We see this all the time with development applications.

Insight Burlington could be used to put up visuals that show what is proposed as a particular development application.  The facts would be laid out and people would get a chance to answer questions. 

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes – seldom more. Putting questions about the budget on-line and letting a panel of 5,000 people respond would give city hall a much bigger picture. They may not like the response they get – then what do they do?

Typically a city meeting might get as many as 10 delegations from the immediate area – city hall would like to wider response and going electronic gives them that opportunity.

This kind of technology is not however without its downside.  Who decides what the questions are going to be?  City Manger’s office? What if city council wants a question asked and the city manager doesn’t think it’s appropriate?  City managers serve at the pleasure of a city council; could get a little sticky down the road.

Burlington has a public affairs department that isn’t exactly stellar. It looks as if they will be kept to putting out press releases ad getting City Talk into your hands.

Angus Reid pointed out, as most people who have anything to say about the public thinks already know: Local is what matters most to people.  That might be true but that isn’t reflected in the way people vote at municipal elections.  The voter turnout is low – at times abysmally low.  In some situations Board of Education trustees are acclaimed.  If there is anything that should matter to parents it is how we educate their children.

Burlington is the first city in eastern Canada to climb aboard this service and will be signing a three-year contract that will come in at about $100,000 a year – more if the city takes up some of the analytical service offered.

Data in itself doesn’t provide answers – it is the analyzing of the data and what it really means that is important.  On that level what the city learns from the tea leaves is only as good as the people doing the tea leaf reading.

Part of what this process is about is pulling the public into the public square.  That public, according the Angus Reid falls into one of four segmentations.

16% of us fall into the “angry activist” segment

23% fall into a “young and ambivalent” segment.  This group tends not to like the old way of communicating.

35% of us are defined as retiring skeptics

26% are called happy campers and tend to be families that are busy and happy with the way things are going.

Just over 50 people took in the presentation given by a speaker who did not give short answers.  The city has made the decision to use the service and on the surface it looks like a good idea – it will certainly allow more people to have a say in what gets done.

Julien Marquis  enters his name on the list of people who would like to be part of the city’s panel.

What wasn’t clear was just how transparent the flow of information is going to be.  No one will ever know who responded – all the city will know is that that they live in Burlington and there will be just one response possible from each person.  The city will know what percentage of the panel responded and one has to assume they will know which ward and perhaps first three letters of their postal code.

Close to the end of the evening someone asked who would be accountable for what was being done.  There was a long pregnant pause, the Mayor didn’t say a word, Angus Reid didn’t say a word.  The question sort of hung in the air.

“Citizens”, explained the Mayor, “want the ability to choose how and when they engage and provide feedback to us, More than that, they want to know how their input is being used by the city as we make decisions.”  That is what the Mayor expects Insight Burlington to provide.

 The City of Burlington is the first Ontario community to join Surrey and Vancouver in British Columbia, where residents are using the technology to have their say through the service.    

We will let you know how this works out for Burlington.

Getting you name on the list: CLICK HERE

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Horse racing in Ontario: They’ve been at the post for years – then the starting gates were almost closed.

October 26, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  There was time when the only way you could place a bet was to go a horse race.  That was before Trudeau liberalized the criminal code, in 1969, bringing us into the modern age and decriminalizing abortion, homosexuality and lotteries all in one fell swoop.  Prior to that it was strictly illegal to place a bet on anything.  

I recall watching my parents stash away tickets they held for the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes, a complicated lottery based on horse races, illegal pretty well everywhere but Ireland, but which earned its big money overseas.

Slot machine revenue subsidizes race track operations.

Gambling is now very big business. In 2011 Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) turned in $6.7 billion.  Another quarter of a billion came from horse racing.  Horse racing is mostly located in rural areas and so less accessible to the average urbanite.  The forms and betting are complicated, the seasons periodic and the industry heavily regulated.  So, it was inevitable that horse racing would get dwarfed by the dollars rolling in from slot machines and the lotteries, especially when they co-located. 

But horse racing is more than just gambling, it is part of our culture.  If slots and lotteries didn’t exist, it is a safe bet that racing would be far more popular.  When slot machines were introduced at race tracks a portion of the money they brought in was used to help finance the racing business.   However, when former Premier McGuinty set up the Drummond Commission to help him cut the deficit, the subsidies for horse racing were high on the list of things to eliminate.

Despite the need for subsidies, horse racing is an important agricultural industry which generates significant employment underpinning the existence of many of Ontario’s rural communities.  It is estimated that over 30,000 jobs are associated with the horse racing industry which expends over $1.2 billion a year, making this Ontario’s third largest agricultural industry.  Ontario claims to have more race events than any other jurisdiction in North America.  So when the axe fell and the cuts were announced, horse farmers and the agricultural community mounted a public relations campaign to save their industry. 

The horse racing community mounted a strong protest and the government took a second look – out came a compromise which the racing community calls a partnership.

A little over a week ago Ontario Premier Wynne responded to that campaign by bringing forward a plan to restructure Ontario’s horse racing industry to make it more sustainable  and economically viable.  The settlement is not everything the industry wanted, these things never are, and some people had already exited the industry.  Still a subsidy was re-instated and funding was guaranteed for a five-year period, giving stability to the industry. 

Gambling is a big revenue earner, which is why even the Bob Rae New Democrats embraced it back when Ontario was suffering its worst recession since the dirty thirties. Annually about $2 billion of the money that comes in goes back out to help fund our health care system and other government priorities.  Another $2 billion supports local economic development where Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) facilities are located and about $65 million is spent on gambler education, research and treatment.

One could argue that gambling is a natural process.  Every time we get behind the wheel or into an airplane we are gambling with our lives.  And what is the stock market or any investment but a gamble by another name.  Placing a bet is a voluntary action by individuals supposedly responsible enough to manage their affairs.  And if not, there are programs to help the chronic, problem gamblers get their lives straight again. 

There are trotter training operations dotted throughout rural Ontario.

Over two-thirds of Ontario residents gamble at least once a year, although that might involve no more than purchasing a lottery ticket.  And the poor are believed to gamble more than the wealthy thus leading to the label, gambling is a tax on the poor.  Interestingly enough the rise in gambling activity over the years has been associated with the increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor in our North American society.  But it would be a huge overstatement to blame gambling for that sad consequence.  Clearly erosion of the progressive tax system and the introduction of regressive consumer taxes in Canada have weighed-in heavily on that phenomena.

Horse racing is an ancient sport. Its origins date back to about 4500 BC among the nomadic tribesmen of Central Asia, who first domesticated the horse. Since then, horse racing has flourished as the sport of kings. In the USA horse racing is one of the most widely attended spectator sports; over 50 million people attend racing events and wager billions.

That we came close to losing our horse racing industry here in Ontario is frightening.  Hopefully the new plan will allow the industry to focus on attracting more participants to watch the magnificent horses and, if so inclined, to bet on the races. I enjoy doing both, the latter in moderation.

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

Addtional information

Horse racing subsidies

Guaranteed funding for a five-year period.

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Burlington artists now know where the cookie jar is – can they get their hands into the thing?

October 24, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  You know that culture has some traction in Burlington when city council members ask what a Poetry Slam is and when Councillor Jack Dennison suggests the he might even drop by the Black Bull on Guelph Line and hear how Tomy Bewick, a construction worker delivers his message.

Bewick runs the Burlington Poetry Slam, an event most Councillors knew absolutely nothing about; yet it is an organization that has been given a Canada Council grant to bring together Slam poetry artists from across the country.  In Burlington, whoda thunk?

After a close to brutal session at the Regional offices in Oakville where council members took part in a vote that marked the beginning of the end of the Beachway Park community, council met in Burlington to discuss the basics of a Cultural Action Plan and then decide what they wanted to do.

Teresa Seaton, center, organizer of the Art in Action Tour, thinks through a response at one of the Cultural Action Plan sessions. She is one of 250 people organized as an Arts and Culture Collective in Burlington.

They didn’t make any decisions – it was far too late and everyone was far too tired to be able to make sensible decisions, but Burlington did get to see the outline of a community that few really knew existed.  The Arts and Culture Collective, a group of more than 250 people organized on-line,  didn’t really know each other but they have become a voice and they want a seat at the table where the decisions are made.  Nine of their members delegated and laid out their aspirations for a Cultural Action Plan.  They have certainly “informed” the plan the city wants t create but there is still some distance between the bureaucrats and the artists.

The Collective had done their homework – they knew what they wanted – now to actually get it – that’s their challenge.

The delegations were listened to, heard and engaged.  This is not something that happens for many delegations at our city hall.  All too often Council members sit there close to mute as people take their case, their concerns and their hopes the city’s leaders.  That wasn’t the case Wednesday night.

Organized as the Arts and Culture collective in July the thing grew from some 20 people who took part in the first meeting to the 250 people who exchange thoughts and ideas on-line and have learned how to deal with city hall and bring about changes.

The process began a couple of years ago when the city hired Jeremy Freiburg to prepare a report on just what Burlington had and didn’t have going for it in terms of culture.  Everyone knew about the newly minted Performing Arts Centre and everyone knew about the Burlington Art Centre but few of the many ever went to the place to look and see and feel the art over there.

Freiburger’ s  report dug up all kinds of data on where Burlingtonians spent their cultural dollars – far too much of it gets spent outside the city.  He mapped where people go and how much they spend.  He told us what people wanted in terms of culture.

What he revealed was a city that really didn’t have a solid cultural tradition.  We saw a city that chooses to go elsewhere for its culture and entertainment, partly because, they feel, there isn’t anything they like here.

Some thought Freiburger was going to deliver a set of recommendations on what the city should do next – but he chose not to do that.  Instead he gave them the data they needed to begin to figure out what they want to do.

And that is when the Collective began to form.  The people who met, first wanted to be able to do their art here in this city and not have to go to Hamilton or Toronto – but there was no place, no space, nor any expectation, that there was indeed a local arts community.  The city didn’t know they were there and they didn’t know each other.

The group – the Collective – had surfaced and is telling the city that they are here and they want to be involved.

The artists came from every possible discipline. They met to talk through what the city should include in its Cultural Action Plan – then they had to figure out how to actually control that plan once it’s established.

Artists don’t march to the same drummer that the rest of us do – schedules and rules aren’t their strength and it was difficult for the collective to pull together a large number of people.

Because many of the artists were working by themselves they didn’t know many of the people who were doing the same thing.  Trevor Copp, who ended up being the leader/spokesperson for the group came up with the idea of holding a Speed Dating event at a local pub.  The idea was that people would gather and sit with others for a couple of minutes and then move on to another table and meet someone else. Such is the state of relationship building in this world.   It was a good idea, novel and it had the potential to work.  But very few people showed up.  Copp didn’t miss a step – he chose to see the upside, the bright side and pulled together a meeting that saw less than a dozen people talk about what they wanted in the way of an arts community.

That conversation will get reported on at greater length at another time – what we saw was a group that is thinking this through and while the plan is still in the formative stage city hall now has to work with people who are the arts community – we just didn’t know they were there.

Bureaucrats being bureaucrats they decided to have Copp become part of the Steering  Committee that was to fashion a plan out of the data the Freiburger report provided and once a plan is in place,  put together a schedule and time frames to implement it.

One of the major beefs the artists had, was that there were no artists on the steering committee.  The addition of Trevor Copp and Rosanna Dewey to the Steering Committee that had people who administer funds but didn’t “do” art was a significant step.  The challenge now is to ensure that Copp and Dewey don’t get co-opted and turned into bureaucrats.  Power can be very seductive.

Dewy is an artist in her own right and part of the Burlington Fine Arts Association, which has a temperament quite a bit different from that of many of the members of the “collective”.

That there is a change taking place in the cultural temperature of the city is evident.  Freiburger maintains that the change began with the unveiling of the Spiral Stella outside the Performing Arts Centre – debatable. One of the occasions that signaled the change was the “No Vacancy” event that took place at the Waterfront Hotel.

This was “avante garde” for Burlington and while the event lasted less than four hours and experienced a small loss it brought out people who hunger for depth and maturity in their cultural menu – the No Vacancy – which will take place again next year, showed that it can happen in Burlington and is happening in Burlington.

Performing Arts Centre Brian McCurdy makes a point with the Mayor. He is making points all over the city as he brings about a different working relationship with the Centre and the city.

City Hall and the Tourist people see the arts as something that could perhaps attract people to the city.  The Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre has been in town long enough to have figured out what we have and don’t have and has already shown that his institution is able to be flexible with the performance community.

All good signs – but like a great recipe, there is something to the way you flick the rest to get that meal on the table and make an occasion to be remembered.

Council will meet early in November to get down to the nitty-gritty of spending money – and at the rate this council is spending the artists had better move quickly or there won’t be any left.

With a little luck the artists will be at the table helping people whose experience is in parks and recreation learn how to move beyond swimming schedules and volleyball games to events that stir the soul.  Mind you, watching Maurice “The Rocket” Richard put another one past a Toronto goal tender is certainly something to stir the soul.



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Death knell rung for homes in the Beachway Park. The end of a community that has been a part of Burlington for more than 100 years.

October 25, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  There is an  ancient custom of ringing  the Death Knell as soon as notice of the death of a parishioner reaches the clerk of the church.  The Death Knell for the Beachway Park community was rung yesterday afternoon in Oakville at the Regional Council offices.

The beginning of the long end for the Beachway Park community began at a Regional Council meeting Wednesday afternoon.

They fought hard and there wasn’t any plan to expropriate their homes the Regional government now has a plan to acquire the homes over a period of time and demolish them down to make way for a park.

After hours of tortuous motions with amendments and amendments to the amendment the Regional Council votes but it all came down to a vote that did a number of things – none of which are good for the 30 people who live in the Beachway Park.

Regional Council voted to reconfirm the vision of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park (BBRWP) as a public park in its entirety.  That means those 30 homes will eventually get bought by the Region and torn down which broke the hearts of many of the people who have made the place their home.

The last of the cottages on the water side of the old railway line in the Beachway Park being torn down in 2004. The same may well be the fate of the 30 homes left in the community.

The notion that “did the deed” had a sop to the residents – they are going to create a committee that will develop an acquisition/implementation strategy for the remaining privately held properties.

Put crudely – the will work out a way to get these people out of their homes.  They won`t be put out of their homes – there will be no expropriation – but there will be a strategy that will offer incentives, long term lease arrangements, alternate property evaluation methodologies and funding commitments.

Burlington and the Conservation Authority will now begin updating the Master Plan for the park.

What the Master Plan will look like; what the acquisition/implementation plan will look like won`t be known until April of 2015.

The residents of the Beachway Park have one thing going for them.  If they hang together as a community they can remain there for as long as they wish.  If they don`t hang together as a community they will hang individually and that will be the end of a community that has been part of Burlington for more than 100 years.

It is a long, sad story that will get told in more detail at another time.  For now the shock of realizing  this could be the end, the very end for that community has to set in fully.

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Public gets a park upgrade and a couple of “windows” – big money gets the really good stuff.

October 21, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Susan Ford, an Aldershot resident,  passed us a note at the end of the City Council meeting last Monday evening (the 15th) asking “why has communication been so poor on this issue if “discussion” has been going on for a year or more?  That park belongs to all of us.”

“What a mess” she added.  Park area vandalism is not such a big deal.  If they are so worried – then heck lets rid of all the parks.”

Brian Coleman wrote and asked why the city wasn’t listing the property so that others who might be interested could buy it.  Coleman is of the view that a group of citizens might choose to join forces, raise the money and buy the property and then give it to the city and get a tax receipt.

Peter Menet pointed out that it is likely Councillors will find themselves in contravention of title restrictions, imposed by earlier deeds, should they approve the motion to proceed with the selling of these city lots.  Also, there is a strong possibility that these title restrictions exist in perpetuity.

The owners of the properties between Market and St. Paul Streets are the people who want to purchase the waterfront land that is owned by the city and the province.

For this reason, he said it would be prudent of council to review all previous deeds related to these lots. He added that Councillors have not received any information on these city lots that is prior to 1990.

These city lots are shown in the Halton Atlas of 1877 as part of the sub-division of a larger lot, and hence these lots are parts of earlier deeds that more than likely have title restrictions, he said.

He pointed out that title restrictions that exist on the deeds of the nearby lots on Stratheden Drive and Strathallen Avenue.  In the late 1940’s the owners of the land that became Stratheden Drive and Strathallen Avenue sub-divided land into smaller building lots, which were sold singularly to individual builders.  I know that there are title restrictions on at least two of these lots and I believe that there are similar restrictions on all the lots on Stratheden Drive and Strathallen Avenue.

“Title restrictions exist and it is my understanding that all subsequent owners of the property are bound to them”, said Menet..

Brian Coleman thought a public auction of the land (like closing a road allowance?) so that the city gets the maximum price for the land if it is sold.  Also to force all three land owners all to purchase (if only one does the parkette concept is ruined or seriously curtailed) if it comes to that. And the purchase of the MNR land has to be tied into the sale so that the city doesn’t acquire it if it doesn’t sell unless the parkette goes ahead.

Emily Skleryk, a ward 2 resident and an OPP sergeant who unfortunately did not identify herself as such commented that she was not comfortable walking on public land that is unmarked. 

Brain Rose, a Beaver Street resident said he saw the whole process as sneaky on the part of the property owners who were demanding the city sell them the land or there would be a court action.  He added that he could not find an instance of lakefront property being sold to a private person in the past.  He added the refrain that many used – they didn’t know the land was owned by the city.

James Ziegler proposed a pathway through the properties. Council voted to make it private land.

Dean Dunbavin, a First Street resident said the  property was one of the best kept secrets in the city and that he was “flabbergasted that you would make these decisions against everything you have in the way of public policy in place..  “Your decision” he added “defies logic.”

 “When it’s gone” he said –“ it’s gone.”Paul Dunnett who lives on St. Paul had no idea the land belonged to the city.  He has been walking his dog out there for 14 years and said the “walkway was a great asset”.  “When it’s gone” he said –“ it’s gone.”

Dunnett said he thought the whole future of Burlington was to have waterfront.

Janice Connor, one of the property owners in a house that was built in 1938. Valued in 2012 at $1,927,000 with 100 feet of frontage on Lakeshore Road and an effective depth of 264 feet – before the addition of any of the provincially and city owned land, went after Councillor Meed Ward for not being as forthright as she should have been with the facts and then added that 90% of the people in Burlington don’t go to the waterfront and that “not everyone loves the waterfront”.

“not everyone loves the waterfront”.Connell closed her remarks with the comment that she didn’t think keeping the property would benefit the city.

Yikes – there are two statements she will come to regret having put out there.

There can never be a conversation about getting to places in Burlington without a mention of parking – there is none on either Market or St. Paul Street.  All those in favour of creating a park agreed that this was to be a small, local walking park that would appeal to the approximately 5,000 people in the immediate vicinity.  The land mass is about a third of an acre – it is the view it offers that is precious.

The people at 2414 Lakeshore; 220 St. Paul; 222 St. Paul and 235 Market fully understand this.  They know that trees will be put up that will limit their view if a park is created on that land – and that isn’t something they ever want to live with.

There were 16 delegations (11 against selling – 4 prepared to see the land sold )  at the Council meeting– each got a polite hearing but that for the most part is all they got.  Few were engaged by council members – there was precious little dialogue.  Odd too that Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, whose ward boundary included the property that was being talked about, made very few comments. 

She seemed resigned to seeing the opportunity lost and other than correcting Janice Connell over a technical point we didn’t here all that much from Meed Ward, during the delegations

Most of the questions were asked by Councillor Dennis whose ward is immediately to the east.

Some interesting and valid new information was put forward.  The number of homes that were within a 1000 metre radios of the land that is to be sold was far more than what  Janice Connell suggested at her Standing Committee delegation.

Russ Campbell one of the better Tory thinkers in town said on his Facebook page that : “There is precious little public access to the lake as it is without limiting it even further by selling land the city already owns. Yes, a complicated issue, but one that could have been settled in favour of the residents and not private interests.”

“city did not live up to its usually high  standard of public communication” We heard the word “scandal” used more than once.  I don’t see a scandal but I do see a bunch of people elected to represent the interests of the residents not doing their job of informing the public and getting solid feedback.  For a senior staff member to admit that the “city did not live up to its usually high  standard of public communication” was both a bit of a stretch and embarrassing.

Mike Swartz, one of the property owners, was seen leaving city hall a few days before the Council meeting.  One observer who was in the building at the time remarked on the “fix is in” look he wore as he left the building.

Are Council members prepared to say when they met with Mike Swartz between the Standing Committee and the Council meeting and if they also met with the residents who were opposed to the sale of the land?

Don’t wait for the answer to that question.

What’s the rush with all this?  A report goes to a Standing Committee on the 2nd of the month and then to council on the 15th and the deal is done?  And there doesn’t appear to be any Ontario Municipal relief available to citizens who think this one doesn’t pass the smell test.  Others think it stinks.

The Windows on the Lake, that should have been opened up much, much more to the public years ago, are finally going to be put in place.  But that is small potatoes – a jewel from the crown that is Burlington is being pried out and sold under what has to be described as clouded circumstances.  No wonder Rob Narejko says “this doesn`t pass the smell test”.

What is perplexing is – Why?  There was no good reason for this land to be sold.  And while some thought the sale would put major dollars into the city’s coffers, a closer look at this deal suggests otherwise.

Look carefully at the map set out below.  The land being sold is made up of two parts: land currently owned by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), which is closest to the water and land owned by the city.

This graphic sets out the issue. The two pieces of land at each end are owned by the city and will be turned into Windows on the Lake. The piece in the centre is owned by the city and the province. The three property owners want to purchase that centre piece and make it private property. Other people want to see a pathway through the property running from Lakeshore, down Market Street along the waterfront and up St. Paul back to Lakeshore. City council voted t sell the land in the center.

The MNR has said it will do whatever the city decides to do BUT the MNR is not going to just give the land to the city.  When the land is sold the MNR will surely want their share of the proceeds.  Look at that map again – much of it is MNR land.  What Burlington is doing to do is buy the MNR land, assemble it with the land it already owns and then sell the assembled land to the property owners that abut the lands.

That’s a lot of legal work being done to satisfy the desires of three property owners.  What is the city getting for all the work it is doing?  We don’t know – hopefully staff will report to the city before any deal is actually done.

This is really a cock-up of major significance and one would think that it can be prevented.  Is a recorded  city council vote of 6-1 against a motion the very end of the world?  There are people who believe this is an issue that can be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board and have begun to organize their data.

There are a bunch of people on city Council that think the public is going to forget the decision to sell a small patch of prime waterfront property.  And they might – publics tend to be that way.

But there just might be a legal initiative on the part of some people who feel this was just a plain wrong decision.  It gets a little embarrassing when the Mayor of Oakville – the municipality next door –  tweets “Hard to imagine this in Oakville!”  Mayors usually stay out of one another’s business but this one as apparently just too good for Oakville Mayor Rob Burton to pass up on.

The City Council voted for the private interests of three property owners rather than the broader public without getting anything substantial back in terms of waterfront access.Former Burlington Mayor Walter Mulkewich pointed out to possible ward 4 candidate in the next municipal election Brian Heagle that: “…  the City sold its soul.  Bad decision. Forget the language of park and parkette -think trail and waterfront public access. This is selling out future generations and an opportunity to maximize public access to our waterfront which the goal of the City’s Strategic Plan and Official Plan, Council approved policy – and which Council blatantly disregarded. This decision was not a compromise – it was a sellout. The City Council voted for the private interests of three property owners rather than the broader public without getting anything substantial back in terms of waterfront access. Within the legal complications there could be a way to be sensitive to those property owners and still maintain a unique public access. They did not try. The City should improve Port Nelson window on the lake when they have funds available and not tie improvement of Port Nelson by selling your birthright and that of your children.”

Other than a few people who didn’t fully understand the issue there was really no one speaking  for the decision council made.  Well there was one: Byron Kaczmarek, who lives east of Nelson Park and therefore not directly affected by the sale of lands, once  caught a couple of kids making out in his back yard – that would be upsetting – but is it reason enough to sell the land?  Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

There are all kinds of issues surrounding this mess that have been left unexplained.  There is the legal history the city doesn`t want to make public.  Other than tribunals that concern matters of public security and terrorists, judicial decisions in this country are a matter of public record.  Anyone who wants to read a decision can get on up to a Court house and obtain a copy.

The Gazette doesn`t have the resources to take on this task – but the city certainly has and in the past has made copies of decisions available.  The Air Park case is an example.  So why not with the land complexities on the old Water Street property?

And what about the property on the east side where there are several properties that run from the lake up towards Lakeshore.  Which ones have property rights?  The most southerly property apparently encroaches on city land but no one seems overly concerned about that problem.  Councillor  Craven, who can get himself worked up into a lather when mention is made of encroachments in Beachway Park,  didn’t utter a word about Water Street  area encroachments.  He did sit through the Council meeting with a grin that would have put the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland fame to shame.  Other than telling the public that “making unclear muddled decisions gets us in trouble” and that we “cannot ignore the reality of the legal history”, which may be true but the public will never know because they have not been told.

Councillor Taylor, Ward 3, made an interesting observation when he said he got 48 emails from people but just one of the emails was from people in his ward.  Taylor felt the area had too many parks already and the city should get what it could out of a possible sale.

He, along with Dennison, commented on the massive infrastructure deficit the city is facing.  Sell what you can to get as much as you can seemed to be his viewpoint.  All to catch up on an infrastructure deficit that was created in the last 20 years while they were serving as a Council member.

Particularly disappointing was the willingness with which Taylor would sell city owned waterfront land while he asks everyone to fight with him to save every square inch of the Escarpment.  Councillor Taylor seems to feel he can have it both ways – a position that may well come back to haunt him should a candidate emerge to take him on in the 2014 election.  It was a disappointing decision on the part of Councillor Taylor.

Councillor Paul Sharman explained that in ward 5 there were people who had homes adjacent to park land and life for them was terrible.  The noise, the vandalism and the litter seemed to have changed the life style for many people.  Sharman seemed to want to apply the same set of circumstances to the Water Street properties.

Is Burlington a city where we let our young people take over once the sun sets?  Do we not have a police force that is costing us an arm and a leg to operate, that can bring some order to our public property?  If we can’t manage these smaller parks whatever are we going to do if the Region strips all the homes out of the Beachway Park?

Far too many Council members seem prepared to just give up on keeping some form of public order in the parks.  The role of municipal government is to maintain public order.

Sharman, along with most of the other council members referred to the messy legal history and explained that it was far more complex than the public realized – but, like the rest of Council, he was unprepared to let the public in on that complexity.

Meed Ward does say, without breaking the confidentiality of the Closed Council session, that she feels the legal issues can be worked out.

The Mayor took the position that keeping the land for future use wasn’t necessary because,  should the three properties be redeveloped the owners would have to deed to the city a 15 metre set back from the edge of the water which would put that land back into the hands of the city.  Neat bit of legal sophistry there –that assumes the 15 metre set back rule will still be in place at some future date. The Mayor saw this as a logical issue and not an ideological one.

This Mayor is certainly not married to the concept of getting as much waterfront land as possible into public hands and keeping it there.  We’ve known for some time that the Mayor has gone looking for help in coming up with a vision for the city.  We know now just how much help he needs.

For the Mayor it was ideology vs. logic.  Public access where it is practical and feasible and the Mayor saw keeping the land as neither practical nor feasible.

It’s all about the view. The choice was making it a public view or a private view. Money and the fear of a law suite won out – the view ill be private.

Why sell the land – just hang on to it or lease it – and where did that $1 a year price comes from?  Have you seen those views?

Lancaster seemed torn between leasing the property and selling it.  Her comments suggest she would have preferred a lease.  She commented that “option # 1 assumes we have a need for these parks and then made mention of the options to preserve the land for future use.”

Lancaster said she was “not of the opinion that we require this parkland currently” (and on that Miss Canada is correct) and then she added that “would we require it in the future” and here she was asking the question that was paramount.  The answer is we do not know – but we do have policies that talk about preserving every scrap of waterfront land we can. 

This is a Council that worked hard to create a Strategic Plan and works just as hard to consistently fail to adhere to the Strategic Plan they created.

What was interesting and a little disturbing was that Meed Ward chose not to lead much of the discussion at the Council level when delegations were being made.  Once her motion to keep the land was defeated and Council went  into Closed Session she didn’t say much.  Jack Dennison led the debate and was determined to create Windows on the Lake – minimalist at that – and sell the land to the people who wanted to buy it.

Before the vote on her motion however Meed Ward had plenty to say but as she said later – the decision had already been made.  She asked her fellow council members if they wanted more waterfront property for their citizens – and all the policies in place say you do – then just hang onto the property.

While Meed Ward was speaking Councillor Sharman, tried to cut Meed Ward off – we call that pulling a Goldring – but she fought back and claimed her 15 minutes.  It is both embarrassing and a bit shameful to watch the way Councillors Craven and Sharman treat Meed Ward.  The Mayor was the first one to cut her off when she was speaking – but he did change his behaviour and asked the rest of Council to respect the approach different Council members brought to their jobs.

Meed Ward claimed Council was not serving the residents if they let the land go.  She added that the silly argument over the $7500 it would cost to take care of the land if it were in city hands was something she could fund from her Councillors budget.

The additional silly part of all this is that any parkette was not going to be developed for at least five years.  It didn’t matter – Meed Ward asked for a recorded vote and was the only one to vote for keeping the land.

The public will get an upgraded Nelson Park and a couple of Windows on the Lake. The great view – private.

Councillor Dennison moved a motion to sell the land and that passed.  In six months or less we will hear how well the property managers for the city have done with the negotiations to sell the land.  If the Freeman Station deal to rent a piece of land is any example – this matter will not be over in six months – more like right smack in the middle of the election in 2014.    Heck the deal just might fall apart.

Janice Connell whispered a touching “thank you” to Jack Dennison that looked a little like a kiss being blown across the room.  Jack Dennison now has new friends in Ward 2, unfortunately they don’t get to vote in Ward 4 where Dennison needs all the help he can get.

The citizens who lost the debate gathered in the foyer while Council members approached the property owners to congratulate them.

Poor form people, very poor form. 

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Has the city had a problem with their Windows on the Lake signage – couldn’t find any to use?

October 21, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Burlington has a signage policy and a design standard that is applied to all the signs that get put up throughout the city directing people to different places.

The city has modern looking, informative signage throughout the city.

The design is neat, modern looking and conveys the information more than adequately.

Where those signs get put up and where they don’t get put up is something that has confused many people.

No city signage on this piece of city owned property. Plans are in place to make a proper Window on the Lake at this location.

The two road allowances, one on Market Street and one on St. Paul south of Lakeshore Road have been in place for more than 50 years but there has never been a sign indicating that the property is public.

On the contrary people have gotten away with putting up boulders and driveways on what is city land without city hall doing anything.

There is excellent signage on Northshore Blvd where there is a Window on the Lake.

The city has known about the road allowances for years.  The former Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPAC) was the group that in recent times took action to get something done about the way public property was almost being denied to the public – most people who walked in the area did not know the land was owned by the city.

It almost appears as if the city actually wanted it that way.

Good signage at Sioux Lookout on LAkeshore Road – a short distance from the Market Street and St. Paul Street road allowances that should have been marked as public property.

While the sale of the city owned land behind the three homes that front onto the lake is not yet a done deal, the Windows on the Lake are a done deal and the public can expect to see signage and benches in place.  Councillor Dennison wanted the benches to be minimalist – like one bench – let’s not encourage people to actually use the space.

The deliberate decision to do nothing to make those road allowances open to the public should shame all members of Council.  The Mayor, Councillor Meed Ward and Councillor Craven sat on WAPAC and they were certainly aware of the issue.

It was the hard work of Les Armstrong and his colleagues that got the hard data in place and a document with recommendations in front of city hall.  It took more than a year for the WAPAC recommendation to turn into a Staff Report that Council debated last week – but at least a wrong has been righted

The sale of the city owned land has been a very recent issue – one that sort of snuck up on the public.  Was it planned that way?  If the residents who are looking for a way to get this issue before a tribunal for a fairer loo succeed the citizens of Burlington might win on all levels.

When the city wants you to go somewhere they put up excellent signage. When there is no signage – could that be because the city doesn’t want you on the property – or could it be because the adjacent property owners don’t want you there?

The upside of this mess is that the Windows on the Lake can be created any time now.  They don’t have to wait until the land sale gets settled.

Might we see those two Windows on the Lake in place for the spring of 2014?

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Adult male retrieved from vehicle found floating on Lake Ontario. Name of deceased being withheld.


October 19, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Halton Regional police got a call a t 9:45am, reporting a vehicle floating  upside down in the waters of Lake Ontario near Lakeshore Rd and Walkers Line in the City of Burlington. 

The point at which a vehicle went into Lake Ontario. Bottom of Walkers Line.

Police and emergency services retrieved the vehicle from the water.  At this time, the vehicle is believed to contain a single occupant.   

Police have confirmed a deceased male adult was retrieved from this vehicle. The name is being withheld at the request of the family.

Longer view of Walkers Line south of Lakeshore Road. Vehicle retrieved with the body of an adult male whose identity is not going to be released to the public.

At this time no foul play is suspected, however the investigation is ongoing. 


Police found the car 40 metres from shore.  Burlington Firefighters entered the water and retrieved the body of the lone driver, a 21 year old Burlington man and brought him to shore, where he was pronounced dead.

Preliminary indications are that this single vehicle collision occurred around 2:00 a.m.  It appears that the vehicle, a 2007 Volkswagen, was southbound on Walker’s Line, south of Lakeshore, when it mounted the curb at the dead end, traveled through a small parkette, through a chain link fence and plunged to the lake below.

Walker’s Line was closed south of Lakeshore for 8 hours while the CRU conducted the at-scene investigation.  No other occupants were in the vehicle other than the driver. 

Due to the impenetrable terrain from shore, conventional methods of recovering the vehicle are prohibitive.  Police are working with the insurance company on alternate recovery methods which may include the use of a crane-barge.  The car is currently still in the water but has been marked and buoyed by the marine unit.  Recovery could take another day or two.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Paul Davies of the Halton Police Collision Reconstruction Unit.  He can be reached at 905-825-4747 ext. 5245. 

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A ‘flu shot’ is not the only way to beat the bug. Naturopaths recommend herbal medicines to combat flu.

October 18, 2013

By Dr. Jeremy Hayden.

BURLINGTON, ON   In light of the looming cold and flu season, I am interjecting with a brief mention of a promising, true and tested approach to improve one’s health (and I’m talking about thousands of years here folks, not a time frame to take lightly). Granted traveling south for the winter may be the most attractive option, running from those pesky winter viruses and bugs won’t ultimately fix what may already be broken. We all should know that a whole person approach to a healthier more robust system should be first and foremost, yet it’s often quite evident that what we know is best for one self, due to lack of time, motivation, commitment and effort, is, for some, sometimes a lot easier said than done…


Reference to fighting a cold or flu is often a primary focus for many. The immune compromising winter season is one which too often places unnecessary and  undue stress on our bodies. One may argue that getting sick or catching colds build the immune system and is beneficial, which to an extent may be true. However wouldn’t you prefer to reap the same benefits by doing so without ever needing to get sick? Within the Naturopathic Medical (and Natural living) realm, the realization of this can be achieved, and often with simple ease; strengthening our innate and adaptive immunity whist keeping happy and healthy throuOne may argue that getting sick or catching colds build the immune system and is beneficial, which to an extent may be true.gh it all. Why position ourselves to have to fight these bugs, when we can utilize and take advantage of their unwanted effects to better our overall health?


Herbal medicine is a practice that will help achieve this common goal


Herbalism is utilized to incorporate the vaccination stimulating effects of cold and flu viruses in order to ramp the immune system while simultaneously building immunity to those pesky cold and flu season bugs. Think of it similar (relative perspective here) to getting a vaccination shot; the bug or virus enters the body, provides a stimulus to our immune system, enough to create a resistance to its current and future presence, yet without the effects of making us sick. Enter the herbal medicine perspective; Cold and flu bugs are inhaled and enter the body day-to-day from those around us who may be infected by a cold or are sick. Specific herbs taken prophylactically allow the body’s immune defenses to become stimulated and build immunity to various cold and flu strains, yet due to the stimulation and balancing effects of concentrated herbals, the immune system is strong enough not to allow these ‘bugs’ to take over and make us sick.


Herbal medicines are not injected – they are swallowed.

Basic facts about herbal medicine for a better immune

Most immune herbals are safe when used as outlined on the bottle.

Little to no contraindications exist when using these herbs (contact a licensed natural health care practitioner if and when in doubt or if complicated health issues may exist)

·        Herbal tinctures (liquid herbal form) are often the best option for many people as they concentrate the active constituents of a herb and allow for better therapeutic effect.

·        Immune herbals often have long-lasting therapeutic immune effect.

·        Liquid herbals are considered food type medicine; they are in whole form, grow naturally, and are unadulterated, but concentrated naturally, so our bodies recognize and utilize them best

·        Herbals work well as individual (single herb) extracts, however will work to a greater synergistic effect when combined together

·        Look for Canadian companies that represent true certified organic, pure herbal tinctures (all are not created equal!)


        Top immune prophylactic herbals are:

Astragalus root, Siberian ginseng,codonopsis, schisandra, reishi and licorice root.

 Look for herbal liquid tinctures that contain some or all of the above immune herbals. Effective herbals exist for acute immune compromise as well (existing cold), so don’t hesitate to use an Andrographis, Baptisia, Echinacea, Thuja herbal combination to ‘beat the current bug’ (discontinue other immune herbals until the acute virus has been eradicated). A minimum of three-month prophylactic treatment is always best, however supporting your immune system at any point will help your body remain healthy, build immunity and prevent that nasty cold or flu.

Finding a supplier that is reliable is not always easy in a market that is not that tightly regulated.  People in the naturopathic field are always very comfortable recommending products from St Francis Herb Farm

What is a naturopathic doctor?  Where an MD focuses more time on pharmaceutical medicine, NDs also study pharmacology and its drugs, however extensive training in natural medicine (such as botanical, Oriental, nutritional, physical, and homeopathic medicine as well as lifestyle, counseling and herb-drug interactions) is adjunctively studied as well. In Ontario, a naturopathic doctors is considered a primary care physicians. NDs cannot prescribe pharmaceutical medications in Ontario as MDs are able to, and are only covered under extended health plans and not OHIP billing, however they are able to employ conventional laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging as necessary.

Jeremy Hayden, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND).    ND is a professional medical designation earned following an undergraduate pre-medical degree and four years of post-graduate medical training at a fully accredited (CNME) naturopathic medical college. All licensed Naturopathic Doctors practicing in Ontario have been fully regulated under the Drugless Practitioners Act.

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Search of land and lake following the discovery of clothing in the Beachway Park

 October 18, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  A pile of clothing sitting on sand at the Beachway Park led Halton Regional Police to begin an investigation and a search in the immediate area.

Clothing was found in a pile in Beachway Park – police searched land and water – no body recovered and no missing report filed.

Along with clothing there was some personal property as well but nothing to identify the owner.

The call came into the police at approximately 10:30 a.m. this morning.  The clothing was identified as that of a male.

Officers immediately began a search of the shoreline and called in the Halton Regional Police marine unit to search the lake.  They were assisted by members of the Burlington Fire Department, the Hamilton Marine Unit, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Halton Police K9 Unit.

At this time, the land search has been concluded but the search of the Lake is continuing.  A body has not been recovered and there is no missing persons report.

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A Throne Speech that offers little might well be termed “Much Ado About Nothing”.

October 18, 2013

By Ray Rivers

BURLINGTON, ON.  If you have nothing new to say, then don’t say anything at all.  The only new idea in this week’s much ballyhooed ‘Speech From the Throne’ is the proposed ‘balanced budget’ legislation – a perfectly idiotic notion.  Talk about dumb laws!  Is Mr. Flaherty incapable of balancing the budget without a law?  Jean Chretien and Paul Martin ran surplus budgets so the Liberals hardly need this.  Or, does Mr. Harper really expect Thomas Mulcair to win the next election?   I recall how Stephen Harper enacted a four-year fixed-term election law in 2007, then proceeded to break it by calling an election the following year.  What a waste of breath!

And it is not good politics to promise something you know you won’t be able to deliver - something for which you might be held accountable at the next election.As for the promise of matching US prices on goods sold here.  Didn’t we learn about meddling in markets from Trudeau’s problematic mid-seventies Anti-Inflation Board?   And it is not good politics to promise something you know you won’t be able to deliver – something for which you might be held accountable at the next election.  But even if the government managed to match prices, we’d still need to add the dreaded HST onto the Canadian prices – and Harper would need an army of bureaucrats to make it work.  And how will Mr. Harper deliver this new initiative when he is freezing budgets and slashing the public service at the same time?  Doing even more with even less? 

And speaking of frozen budgets, where will the money come to compensate Ontario and Quebec farmers and cheese makers as they become a casualty of the new trade agreement with the EU, which Mr. Harper has just initialed.  Sure, the western beef producers are licking their chops in anticipation of all the extra meat they can sell in Europe, but only if it isn’t contaminated with e-coli from Alberta’s  XL Foods. 

And where will the money to properly fund the clean-up and restoration at Lac-Magantic come from?  While the Throne Speech noted that the federal government is reviewing rail transport policies for hazardous goods, it neglected to mention the federal complicity in that disastrous railway accident (see my July 15, 2003 column).  And Lac-Magantic, like just about everything else in the Speech, is really yesterday’s news.

The cost of the clean up of the railway tragedy in Lac-Magantic is going to have to come out of the budget this government is going to have to bring in soon.

It’s not that there isn’t an abundance of worthwhile ideas, any one of which would have brought new life to this government at its mid-term.  What about a new industrial strategy to rebuild the manufacturing sector in Canada, given the ravages of the last recession, the challenges of uncompetitive exchange rates, and trade policies which too often favour our trading partners?  What about action on the environment, which has never been a priority for this government?  The couple of lines promising some illusory ‘absolute reductions in greenhouse gases’ is hardly going to convince Mr. Obama that Canada has an environmental plan worthy of him approving the Keystone pipeline. 

Conservatives might have tried to address the growing inequality in incomes and wealth for Canadians and Canadian families.   It would have been re-assuring for the federal government to commit to ensuring sufficient inspections to finally eliminate the periodic contamination of our meat at processing plants like XL Foods in Alberta, which handles a third of Canada’s processed beef.  And if this government wanted to win back the hearts of the middle class, instead of tinkering with cell phone charges and cable TV, the Conservatives might have tried to address the growing inequality in incomes and wealth for Canadians and Canadian families.  

Speaking of incomes, what about helping to ensure income security for the growing number of young people passing through their productive years without any provision for their retirement.  Despite repeated calls from the provinces, this federal government has refused to modify the CPP, to make it do what it was originally designed to do – provide adequate pensions for the millions of Canadians who will approach retirement without an adequate nest egg.  Ontario is mulling the idea of establishing its own pension plan to complement, or perhaps replace, the national CPP.  Quebec has been operating its own plan since 1966.

Stephen Harper beetled out of the Senate Chambers on Wednesday and flew to Europe to finalize the EU trade deal the very next day, and so missed the first question period of the new legislative session.  The opposition parties wasted no time on the Speech.  They were only interested in the juicy details about Senate-gate and the PM’s role.  Did he really not know about that whopping cheque his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, had given to Mike Duffy?  Proroguing Parliament, the long summer break and a new speech from the throne were meant to help reset the direction of this government as it heads towards the 2015 federal election.  And it might have worked if only Mr. Harper had something worthwhile to say, and perhaps if the talented Mr. Wright were still there to help write the speech.

Ray Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; has run for municipal and provincial office and held executive positions with Liberal Party riding associations.  He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


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“Cool” – school announcements not broadcast – tweeted to students instead. Hayden High is different.

October 16, 2013

By Milla Pickfield

BURLINGTON, ON.  New technology, new furniture, new teachers, and new students; everything about Hayden High is new! I sat down with Jacqueline Newton, the principal, to discuss what makes Hayden High so special.

 When I first arrived at the school I was skeptical. It’s such a large school with few students, and last year the school I attended lost some really great teachers to Hayden High.

Hayden High School – named after a prominent Burlington citizen, is part of a three purpose complex that includes a recreation centre and a library.

 It is always hard when a new school is built. Students leave their friends, legacies are lost, and favorite teachers are taken from many different schools. It’s hard but it also leaves room for change… and change they did.  Hayden High is not just different because of its impressive layout or the fact that the morning announcements are done through twitter.  Not different because it is attached to a community center which allows them to use the eight large gyms or the library until nine o’clock at night.   Hayden High is different because it’s highly interactive with its students.

Every week a poll is organized on one matter or another to get feedback from the students on how they are finding school, how they would like to design one area of the school, or what they want their gym uniforms to look like. Getting feedback from the students is very important to Jacqueline Newton. “We want the kids to build school their way.”

Another way  Hayden High is different is the fact that students can rent a Chrome book from the library if they need a device to use. Gone are the days of worry whether your parent’s laptop is free for a school project, schools today provides you a device to work on.

Student cafeteria with table settings that allow for large groups or just two people – the room looks out over the playing field.

But the coolest place in the whole school would have to be the cafeteria! Set up much like a café with varying sized tables, this eating spot allows the students to sit with large groups or with just the one friend.  So if you’re feeling like you just want to talk to your best friend and no one else you could choose a two person table instead of a ten person group table.    

Of course the school is only as good as its teachers but no worries there, Jacqueline Newton and Michael Gallant interviewed every one of them! “We wanted to make sure that they (the teachers) were excited to work at a new school.” “It was necessary that they knew how to use social media. We even asked the students what questions they wanted to be asked during the interview and used those questions.” Really?  How often do teenagers get asked their opinions? Not that often.

Jacqueline Newton took last year to really study in depth how to use social media to her full advantage and that is exactly what she is doing. How many high school students really listen to the announcements (especially when half of them don’t relate to you sometimes)? Now instead of listening to them every morning you can go onto twitter and scroll through them.

Not only is twitter frequently used but so are cell phones, computers, and iPads! When was the last time you heard your teacher tell you to take out your phone in a lesson (for something other than writing down your homework)? Definitely a foreign thought! But at Hayden High this is a regular occurrence. Everything is paperless which means everything is on technology. Textbooks, announcements, even group assignments! You can use Google Docs to all edit a page at the same time!

Technology is there to help us innovate, not just help us do old things in a new way. Jacqueline Newton and others on the Board really wanted the students to feel comfortable and happy coming to school. Creating a place where kids can be creative and excited was one of their top goals, and I think they succeeded. Even the classrooms are different! There are no rows. The desks are deliberately placed in semi circles or other configurations in hope that this encourages the students to participate and feel more like a community than a sole individual. Getting the students to voice their opinion and feel as if they run a part of the school really sets this high school apart from others.

Gone is the old way of teaching; the new way is through technology and it’s a lot more fun. It reminds me that technology is there to help us innovate, not just help us do old things in a new way.

New is cool, new is frightening, new is possibilities. Possibility is exactly what the staff at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School have accomplished; the possibility of a new start.

Milla Pickfield is a graduate of Nelson High school who is freelance writing as well as improving administrative skills before she starts university.  The principal of the new Hayden High school was a teacher at Nelson when Pickfield was a student there.


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City council votes 6-1 to sell lakefront property. Public may never know what the selling price will be.

October 16, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  There was a meeting of the Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPAC) in late 2012 , when Michael O’Sullivan passed around a news clipping that was more than 20  years old that told about the legacy project the Council of the day had approved for buildings that would soar more than twenty storeys into the sky less than 200 yards from the pier.  That project should see shovels in the ground early next year.  Most people in Burlington are going to be stunned when they see that building go up.

You wouldn’t know it – but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake. City will now put signage indicating that the land is public. Great views.

It was that same committee, WAPAC, that Les Armstrong and a few others took on the task of walking from North Shore Blvd and King  Road in the west to Burloak in the east and looked at every Window on the Lake the city had in place.  The contents of that report were a bit of a shock.

In location after location this WAPAC sub-committee found there were situations where private individuals had access to the lake that was public but no one knew the property was owned by the city.  There were no signs telling the public that the property belonged to the city.  No one has ever explained why there was no signage telling people they could walk onto the property and enjoy the view.

The WAPAC report got passed along to the city and in time city hall produced a report that focused on what many saw as the most egregious example of public property being made to look like it was private and set out to be most uninviting to any public person in the area.

Those properties were at the foot of Market Street, at the foot of St. Paul Street and a stretch of land next to the lake that was between the two old road allowances.

This road allowance will be tidied up and turned into a window on the Lake. A bench will be put in along with a sign telling the public they can use the space.

The report wasn’t a particularly strong document but it did recommend that the city keep ownership of the property.  Things didn’t work out quite that way and many feel the city is much the poorer for the decision made last night to sell the property to the three private property owners whose homes abut the city owned land.

Nelson Park, a long neglected patch of land will get a significant upgrade. The land on the right hand side will be upgraded and allow the public to get to the edge of the water. City parks people were apparently not fully aware of how that land dipped down to the lake.

Many were stunned at how quickly the deal was done.  The public knew very little about the report and the city did very little to advise and inform people.  General manager Kim Phillips did admit that the city filed to meet its usually high standard of informing the public.  That “usually high standard” was a bit of a stretch.  One of the things former Mayor Cam Jackson did was commission the Shape Burlington report that clearly identified what they called an “information deficit” – and that deficit was clearly visible last night.

But he deal is done.  The city will now direct its staff to meet with the property owners and arrange the sale.  How much will the property be sold for?  You may never know.  The people on the buy side of this sale don’t want you to know and it appears as if the city is not going to tell you.

There is more to tell about a meeting at which 16 people delegated with 11 opposed to the sale of the property and four speaking in favour of a sale or a lease.

City council managed to forget about three or four solid city policies and forgot what they set out in their Strategic Plan less than three years ago.  Odd because the Mayor trots out portions of that Strategic Plan every opportunity he gets.

This bit of business was poorly handled by a city council that failed to live up to its core principles for reasons that are still not clear.

If you want to enjoy this view wander out to what is still public property and set yourself down and take in the sunrise or the sunset. Within six months this will become a private preserve. The land will be sold to three property owners whose land abuts proprty that is owned by the city and the province.

Burlington has a crest with the motto “Stand By”.  Council certainly ‘stood by’  the people who wanted to purchase the property.  As for the rest of the public – they get to see a Window on the Lake created with what Councillor Dennison proposed be minimalist – a bench and a sign.  Don’t want to really encourage people to use the space now do we?

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Fuel truck rolls over on Harvester Road – details sketchy.


October 14, 2013.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Halton Regional Police have been investigating a tractor-trailer rollover on Harvester Road between Appleby Line and Burloak Drive

Harvester Road opening Tuesday morning might be delayed if cleanup is not complete: tanker with fuel and diesel flips over.

At approximately 8:30pm, Monday evening a fuel carrier transport laden with gasoline and diesel fuel rolled onto its side on Harvester Road near Century Drive.  The driver sustained minor injuries and was treated by ambulance.  No other vehicles were involved and the reason for the rollover is still under investigation.

A significant fuel spill has occurred as a result of the collision and containment efforts are still underway.  The road closure is expected to be significant, and could continue into tomorrow morning

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

Tuesday morning update:Police, Fire and Ministry of the Environment officials continue to work at the location of this roll over.  Investigation of the scene has revealed that spilled fuel may have infiltrated nearby Sheldon Creek.  Area residents and their pets are advised to avoid the waterway until the extent of the spill has been fully assessed. 

Harvester Rd remains closed in both directions while cleanup efforts continue.  It is not expected to reopen for several hours and as a result *will* impact morning commuters at that location (between Appleby Line and Burloak Drive).    


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Will new data convince at least three council members to change their vote on the Water Street land sale?

October 14, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  James Ziegler, a 24 year resident of St. Paul Street was one of four people who delegated at a city council committee meeting speaking in favour of the city retaining the land it owns along the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Streets.

Ziegler is a detail person, he tends to look at the information put in front of him and interact with it rather than react to it.

After delegating and listening to what he thought were very short-sighted views he sent Councillor Sharman (Ward 5) a note which we set out below along with Sharman`s replies.

I’m writing with regard to Water Street properties and the recent  committee meeting on this matter.   I’m disappointed the committee’s  motion on this matter and intend to provide additional comments and new  information to support the merits of a Water Street walkway.   Considering  the nature of your questions it appears you may have a rather fixed view  point and the valuation of this land.  By your questions you appeared to  be less interesting in considering an alternate point view and more  seeking to elicit comments that would support a predetermined position.  I  believe there was a deficiency in objective facts on the matter and trust  that you will listen to these with an open mind.

Goldring also has this chronic desire to either hide behind legal counsel justifying any sensitive decision, or, go ad nauseum through some sort of group hug consensus building process with the same members of the loud minority. You and your colleagues have chosen a short-sighted solution disregarding the need of future generations in Burlington for an expedient answer.   I believe you have been bullied by the threat litigation and very narrow  minded comments from the landowners.  This does not represent the value of  a potential park to the general community.

 Should the council choose to sell this land, they are acting against  several layers of adopted policy and I believe there are grounds for a  class action lawsuit on the matter.  A course of action I will participate  in.

I was appalled by some of the comments of the landowners and some  committee members.   These  statements demonstrated a sour attitude to the  general population and lack of faith in the people in our community.

James Ziegler presented a graphic that illustrated where a paved pathway could be built and the proximity of a pathway to the three houses that abut property currently owned by the city.  The property consists of three parcels: road allowances on each end and the old Water Street road in the centre.  The city has voted, in principle, to sell the land in the middle.  Reason for doing so appears to be financial and some legal history that the city does not want to talk about.

This is a sad reflection of the community I live in.  Councillor Mead Ward  was the sole voice thinking of the value to the public at large about this  matter.  The paternalistic and condescending  comments form Mr. Dennison  and Mr. Taylor were a very poor display of public governance.  In  particular Mr. Dennison pacing the floor behind the chairs as Councillor  Ward spoke to her motion could not have demonstrated any more clearly how he was fixated with his position and not willing to listen to any contrary  idea.  I don’t frequent the proceedings of council but was expecting better. (To be fair to Councillor Dennison, he frequently gets up and paces behind his chair – shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on what is being said or who is speaking.)

 There were other citizens in the room for the committee meeting on Oct. 2  who did not rise to speak however they spoke to me afterwards and  expressed their displeasure in the tone and attitude of the committee  members.

 Regarding the merits of a connected pathway, people on a run, walk or bike  ride are far less likely to go out to a dead-end requiring them to  turn  around and follow back to the original line of travel.   How many times on a run or walk have you chosen to back track on your route?  Likely never  or only when circumstances such as a closed path forced you to.

 The cavalier  comments regarding safety and potential malevolent behavior of  some irresponsible people,  made by the members and landowners were  exaggerations intended to manipulate the argument based on fear.  No  evidence was presented to support these claims. Yet they appeared to be a  significant factor in the decision.   Applying the same criteria and  comments made by the members most parks or large portions of parks in  Burlington and in the Province should be closed to the public. There is no  logic or facts to support these arguments. The police that I have talked  to on this matter do not see this as a significant security problem.  In  fact the opposite is more likely true, a short walkway is safer and easier  to manage than a dead-end. I have also talked to planners and landscape  architects on this matter.  The committee decision flies against  progressive good community planning.

 On the mater of parking for the area, this was a red herring, It  completely missed the point,  It is a  walking pathway.   I will present  the council a map showing the populations served by the Water Street  walkway, within a 1 km range.  To suggest we (several thousand people,  many in apartments and without cars) have ample opportunity to drive to  Spencer Smith park or to crowd into the 50 usable feet of lake edge at  Nelson Park to see the lake is akin to the Marie-Antoinette  comment, “let  them eat cake”  People, the general population, need local  access to the lake within walking distance of their homes.

 I believe you and your colleges have grossly undervalued the  significance of adding over 400 lineal feet of public access to the lake,  compared to the existing 55 lineal feet of accessible frontage at Nelson  park.   You and others referred to this as excessive to put two parks  between 3 houses.  This is misleading to make a measure of scale by  counting the three houses.   I’m sure you will agree the three houses are  much larger than the average size house and lot size in the Burlington  core.  A better measure would be to look at the real dimensions.

Please reflect on the real motive why you voted against the Water Street  walkway and take another look at the matter.   As I said at the committee,  consider this generation and the next three generations that can enjoy the  Water Street walkway.   Consider what kind of city you are contributing to. The Vision in this regard should be thought of in terms of many  decades not the short term fiscal issues.   At the very least leave the  land available to a future council with a greater vision for the public  welfare.   This I use in the true sense of the word, faring well in mind  body and spirit.

 James Ziegler

And what is wrong with ideology?  That is what underpins  our vision and drives progress in our society.  Ideology is behind all transformation of community.   Without it we are rudderless  perhaps making expedient decisions but traveling without a compass.Sharman, the Councillor for Ward 5 responded with:   Mr. Zeigler: Thank you for your email. I appreciate your thoughtful and considered argument. I am curious to hear how you feel about Ms. Meed Ward’s position on not acquiring the properties on the Beachway for park, and perhaps even selling vacant lots to private owners? The fact is that there are inconsistencies in all of the arguments, that is normal because the devil is in the details.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

I understand the higher level motives behind your argument, and in principle I agree. In my experience, in theory everything is practical, in practice it is not. Water Street needs to be resolved now, punting the decision to a future time is simply not helpful. We have parks we don’t maintain. And while I would love to have a path along the waterfront, the properties with riparian rights in the area of Water Street will not allow for further extension of such a pathway.

Councillor Sharman with Councilor Blair Lancaster. Sharman has dug himself into an ideological argument that he probably cannot get out of. Lancaster liked the sound of leasing the land and might be convinced to change her vote.

Each opportunity is evaluated on its own merits. The Water Street properties do not need to kept by the City just to satisfy a higher level ideology. The City policy is clear about acquisition of waterfront property when it is practical and logical to do so. Your view and that of Ms. Meed Ward versus the views of 5 of my colleagues and I are different. It happens.

Sharman is an avid cyclist. Were he to cycle through the pathway Ziegler proposes he would in all likelihood pause along the path and marvel at the view and tell himself – this is why I am a city Councillor of this city.

Besides, I am concerned that the location is so obscure that very few people will actually benefit, apart from the malcontent youth.  The proposal is to have two parkettes and to maintain the existing park 200 yards away. That will work quite fine. The City does not need to spend a pile of money to satisfy just a few people. We have bigger matters to address.


Ziegler probably took in a deep breath after the Sharman response but soldiered on and replied with:

Dear Councillor Sharman:  Thank you for your reply.  I’ve forwarded your comments to my neighbours.   I don’t consider this a matter of ideology, for myself and my neighbours and our families it is a very practical matter.   This in not in the realm of conceptual notions.   It would be an aspect of many people’s daily lives.

I hope we will be able to convince you that this walkway will be a significant contribution with the potential to be enjoyed by many.   I see that you have some challenges to appreciate the importance of creating a 400 ft. walkway.   It will be linked to the walk along Lakeshore and the fact that adjacent lands will not be available makes it all the more important to create portions that are accessible.  

You may not be a frequent walker or runner so you may not appreciate the value of a linked pathway.  I hope my friends and neighbours will help to change your opinion.

James Ziegler.

Later in the weekend Ziegler passed along several of the graphic illustrations he plans to use during his delegation on Tuesday evening.

There are an estimated 4500 people within a 100 metre radius of the pathway James Ziegler proposes be created along the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Street.

He then takes on the view that there aren’t that many people in the immediate area who would use the pathway parkette that is proposed and provides a graph to make his point.

Ziegler and his neighbours realize that they face a steep uphill battle.  Meed Ward is close to despondent – she just doesn’t see a 4-3 in favour of keeping the land or leasing it.  She would need three more votes – the Mayor is a possible, Lancaster is a possible as well.  Craven would rather die than vote with Meed Ward and both Taylor and Dennison see the revenue that a sale would being and they want those dollars for infrastructure work.

Several council members went on about the amount of park space on the eastern side of the city.  The Water street property is one of the few areas where parkland can be created.  The western side of the city has much more park space.  Will these arguments make a difference?

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Air line security and knitting needles – is there a connection?

October 14, 2013

By Gordana Liddell 

BURLINGTON, ON.  Travel has been different since the tragic attack on New York and Washington in September of 2001.  Public safety took on a whole new meaning as airlines in particular increased security which meant a much closer look at the people who boarded air[planes and what they carried on with them.  The rules imposed at times seem confusing and some feel perhaps a little silly.  Well  just what can you take aboard a plane and what should you pack and not pack?

Asha of Burlington asked:

Harmless in the hands of your sweet Grandmother – but how does security know she’s a sweet little old lady?

Recently, my 80-year-old mother’s knitting needles were taken away at airport security.  I think it’s ridiculous.  She’s a senior citizen.  What do they think she is going to do with knitting needles?

Dear Asha,

The first thing to remember is to not take it personally.  The airlines and airport authority are only trying to do all they can to ensure passenger safety.  They have rules they need to follow – without the option of discretion.  It’s safest that way.

Think of it this way if you like:  it’s not assumed that passengers will do nothing.  Even your 80-year-old mom.  This thinking is, what if this person is a psycho?  Or what if the person sitting next to her is a psycho and gets a hold of those knitting needles?  Or what if she drops them and they roll down a few rows into the hands of the psycho sitting in 3B?  Yes…in order to ensure the safety of all those passengers enclosed in that metal tube darting through the sky…everyone is viewed as being a potential psycho.

You just never know what anyone is going to do at any given moment.  And normally, people just go about their lives without going ballistic.  But if they do go off, it’s usually easy for us to gain some distance.  Up in the sky however, this is not possible, and so it is imperative to completely avoid any potential danger.

I realize it seems silly to you, and we are all aware that your mom intended to use the knitting needles to knit.  But when she is on an airplane, think of them as eleven inch metal spikes rather than crafting tools.  It’s not a public space where we are free to do as we please.  There are rules set in place that we must follow and to try and dispute them is pointless.

I once had an enraged passenger come to me because security had turned her away.  They would not let her bring her bullwhip on board as carry-on and she was just outraged.  She told me it was ridiculous and screamed at me, “What do you think I am doing to do on a plane with a bullwhip?  Whip someone?!”  I was almost speechless; struck by the simplicity of what she just said…but what had obviously escaped her.  I did manage to get out an, “I have no idea.”

And that is the truth.  You have no idea what anyone will do, and on an airplane, it’s just best to prohibit any item that might pose any possible danger.

That September 11th changed the world and certainly changed airline security procedures. Box cutter, bombs in a diaper and a bomb in a shoe are the attempt we know about. Knitting needles in the wrong hands would be lethal.

Look at an item in terms of its basic form…not in terms of its use.  There is no difference between trying to board with knitting needles or a bullwhip, handcuffs or fuel or box cutters or any number of potentially dangerous things people try and innocently carry onto planes on a daily basis.  Nobody thinks the person carrying them WOULD use them for ill intent.  But for the safety of others, the WHAT IF must be considered and general rules must be made and enforced.

The next time you or your mom travel and plan to do some knitting on the way, check with the specific airline you are travelling with.  Every country and airline has their own security guidelines, and these are constantly being updated. 

The smaller, rounder tipped needles as well as the circular knitting needles are usually okay.  The smaller and the more blunt they are, the more likely they will pass through security without a problem.  Anything sharp and pointy should be avoided as a general rule.  Common sense goes a long way. 

Once again, don’t take it personally.  They are just looking out for everyone’s safety as best they can. 

Gordana Liddell is our resident travel writer.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, a travel industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience as a freelance travel writer, and most recently book editor. She is fortunate enough to live right here in Burlington with her family.


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Is this a site for just a few or will it be retained for all? Citizens could be the ones to decide.

October 12, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It usually comes down to the money – you sell what you have if things are kind of tight or you bank a couple of bucks when you’re flush.

Will this view exist for a couple of families or will it be one that can be shared by anyone who wants to walk down to the waterfront and just sit and enjoy the view. Citizens could be the ones to determine what happens with this land.

As Burlington rolls towards putting together its 2013-2014 budget Council knows where the shortfalls are and they know all too well what the tax revenue problems are as well – and they are not good.

The city has a serious shortfall on the Industrial, Commercial, Institution side that can get made up in a couple of way: raise the residential, cut costs or find new money and that property on the edge of the lake between Market and St. Paul Street looked really tempting – so tempting that they took the opportunity to sell that land and ideally use some of it to offset that massive underfunding on the infrastructure.

Two of the strongest proponents for selling the land are guys that have been on Council for more than 20 years each – they need to take some responsibility for the infrastructure deficit – they let it build up.

Having done that they are now prepared to sell of lake front property and hide behind the argument that the city doesn’t need another park in that part of town.

There was once a very strong community organization called SOW – Save our Waterfront. They had more than 2000 members who paid to be members of the organization.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has always worked with groups of people in the community. Here she works with some of the Friends of Freeman Station. It was her initiative along with support from Councillor Lancaster that put a top to the city selling the building for scrap. Freeman Station was saved – can Meed Ward do the same with part of the waterfront.

If there was ever a time to get out that crowd and make their views known to this city council this is it for that crowd.  The fight to keep the land is being led by Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.  SOW was very much a part of her election as a city councillor.  They were a force to contend with – do they have anything left?

This council will fold if 50 people protest – get 500 down to city hall and one might well see a different outcome.

We are into a lovely fall weekend, the weather is going to bless us and one of the days is called Thanksgiving Day.

Some on Council might be thankful that this little windfall of a property sale of prime city has come along and can solve the serious budget short fall for which they will choose to be thankful. Others in the city might use the Thanksgiving Day to talk to neighbours and friends and ask each other – is this what we want.

The public is seldom wrong.  There is an opportunity to plan and then present yourselves to the people you elected and let them know what you want.

You can also do that by doing nothing.  That too will be a message.

Part 1 of waterfront property sale background

Part 2 of waterfront property sale background


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