Local amateur historian to meet the Prince of Wales – given the chance he might tell the Prince about the role Burlington played in 1812 War.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 17, 2012  As a kid, I knew it as 24th of May – firecracker day.  For Rick Wilson it will certainly be a crackerjack day.  He will be meeting the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla at an event taking place at Fort York on the holiday Monday.

The Royal event is part of the Commonwealth celebration of the Queen’s 60th year on the Throne. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

Rick Wilson points to the error in fact on a provincial historical plaque. Will he get a chance to ask Prince Charles to help him change this mistake?

Wilson, who is a serious amateur historian, a member of the Burlington Historical Society and a member of Heritage Burlington, the city’s  advisory committee on heritage matters in the city.

Wilson has a very keen interest in the history of the province and thinks there is a very significant error on one of those historical plaques the governments of the country put up.

The plaque that bothers Wilson is in Hamilton and was put up by the provincial government.  Wilson approached Mike Wallace and asked if his office could do anything about the mistake on the plaque.  Wallace tried but when his office learned that it was a provincial matter there was nothing he could do.   Wilson has not been able to get his telephone calls to Jane McKenna’s office answered never mind getting any help.  We are hearing that complaint from a number of people.  The Lady Jane, who represents us at Queen’s Park is still getting her office organized.

Rick Wilson will, if he gets a chance, tell the Prince of Wales that ships of war did not sail into the body of water west of the Skyway bridge.

Wilson won’t get his 15 full minutes of fame when he shakes the hand of the Prince of Wales, which is fortunate for the Prince,  because Wilson knows his history and he could keep the heir to the Throne standing there for hours while he talks about the War of 1812 and how a serious mistake has been made about how that war was won and what was done right here in Burlington to bring about the victory.

Rick Wilson believes he is standing near where the British ships retreated to and in doing so really won the War of 1812 for the British. There was a battle at Stoney Creek but the real fight, the one that mattered and resulted in mastery over the Great Lakes happened offshore from Burlington.

Wilson is both informed and intense.  If you want a conversation with him on things historical – you better know your stuff.

Meeting the Prince of Wales, who is also known as the Duke of Cornwall and a number of other titles,  will be a huge day in the life of Rick Wilson.  Little does the Prince know that had he the time Wilson could tell him all kinds of things about the war that surrounded the building, the burning and the rebuilding of the fort where the introductions will take place.

The current duke of Cornwall is Charles, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch. Charles was officially proclaimed Duke of Cornwall at Launceston Castle in 1973. As part of his feudal dues there was a pair of white gloves, gilt spurs and greyhounds, a pound of pepper and cumin, a bow, one hundred silver shillings, wood for his fires, and a salmon spear.

But Rick Wilson already knows that and when he meets the Prince and his wife he will be polite and make Burlington proud that he was one of the few that got to meet the Prince at Fort York in Toronto to take part in the celebration of the 60th year that Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne.


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Transit gets an interim fix up – a patch to hold the system together financially until Master Plan is completed. Expect a lot of waiting.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 17, 2012  Transit got a kiss and a promise,  and had half a million taken out of one pocket and put in another last week,  as four “underused” routes had major changes made to their level of service on the roads they travel.

The routes that are to have significant service level changes and some direction changes are:

Route 4; Route 11; Route 12; Route 15, with changes to the #61 and #62 GO specials as well.

The four routes were described as marginal and “under performing” and the city set out a proposed service level for each and called it the Interim Service Plan.

This Interim Plan is to resolve some of the more immediate problems while the city continues its work on the Transit Master Plan and gets a sense of what changes the citizens want to see in the Official Plan Review that is currently taking place.

City Manager Jeff Fielding said he expected to need between 18 and 24 months to figure out if the small fixes made during the interim are going to make a difference.

While the Workshop was all about transit, Fielding explained most of the choices that had been made while Director of Transit Donna Shepherd took Council through the presentation.

In this Interim Plan the city is cutting back frequency from once every half hour to every hour on most of the routes and making alterations on just about all of the four routes.  “How well did we deliver and is anyone better off was the question Fielding asked again and again – and it may well be the question that transit users in Burlington will want to remember and ask in a year and a half.

Doug  Brown, perhaps the most informed citizen when it comes to transit,  doesn’t think all that much of several of the changes.. “Burlington Transit” he said, “thinks they can make route changes whenever there is a problem but transit doesn’t work that way.”    If you keep making changes it just takes that much longer to get a stable ridership.  The change is upsetting to people.

“The most important thing about transit is the need to be reliable and if you go changing the schedule people begin to see you as unreliable and stop using the service.

Brown thinks the transit people have seriously misinterpreted their own data and that the data they use for route 4 is faulty.

The city has created a grid against which it will measure how well it is doing in getting transit to the point where the revenue/cost ratio is bearable and ridership is seen to be increasing. How reducing transit frequency is going to get them there is very debatable. Public will get several opportunities to discuss the changes which are scheduled to go into effect September 2

The changes to the four routes are expected to save the transit service $500,000 each year which they say they will then pump into the well-used routes to improve the service on those routes.  Brown’s comments that : The added service level are rather vague and goes on to say that Burlington spends half the average spend in other Greater Toronto Area municipalities.

“We really do underspend on transit in this city” and Brown should know – he attends numerous transit conference each year.  At a transit event in Markham two weeks ago Brown said the buses they use “are like Cadillac’s compared to some of the 20 year old buses Burlington has on the streets”.

While Brown can talk authoritatively on each of the routes that are to undergo a change he also points to what he believes is one huge error and that is the assigning of funds the city gives to GO service as a transit cost.  The city pays GO $3.3 million each year (just for being there I guess) and that amount is shown on the books as a cost to the transit system when there is no benefit to transit.

In the transit business the key number they use is their Revenue/Cost ratio.  This RC number pops up all over the place and Brown thinks with the $3.3 million given to GO included in the transit costs – the ratio is badly skewed and thus not a very reliable measure.

Route 4

Current Pinedale route

Rte 4 Pinedale proposesd peak

Pinedale Rte 4 WeekendsCurrent service is basically every half hour. There are two proposed services for this route. A) 30 minute frequency 9-4 weekdays; Saturday 7am to 7 pm. B) Weekdays 30 minute frequency 6-9 am and 4-7 pm


Current and proposed route changes for Rte 11 on Appleby Line


Route 12

Only change in this route is having the bus dip into Itabashi Way and the Tansley Wood Community Centre/

Having the service swing into Itabashi Way is seen by many as a very good move – but reducing the service to a 60 minute frequency from the current 30 minute service bothers many people.

Route 15

Frequency of service will be reduced from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes between 9:30 and 2:30

No route changes on route 15 - Walkers Line but the level of service will change.

With the planned routes changes now out in the open the city wants to meet with the public for input and feedback.  There will be four public sessions, which is two more than the city held for the early stage of the Official Plan review

May 23 – Wednesday at the Senior’s Centre 3:00 to 4:30 pm

June 4 – Monday at Holy Rosary School 6:30 to 8:30 pm

June 4 – Wednesday at  Tansley Woods 6:00 to 8:00 pm

June 5 – Tuesday at City Hall 6:00 to 8:00 pm


A newly formed transit will be known as Bfast - they intend to inform the debate on transit and insure the issue of transit service doesn't get lost in the Official Plan Review

There is a group of citizens who have formed a coalition that is going to track the way transit is treated during the review of the Official Plan.  They have titled themselves Bfast and will meet next at the Burlington Central Library June 11 at 7:00 pm when Brian Bedford, former Commissioner of Planning for the city of Toronto will talk about how transit has to be funded.

A number of people who really study transit in this city are troubled with the changes made on route 10 which happens to have buses that travel right in front of Councillor Paul Sharman’s home.  James Smith quotes Sharman as saying he bought his house on a Sunday when there were no buses running and thought he was getting a great deal.  He didn’t realize then that there was a reason for homes being less expensive the other side of Appleby Line.

Smith it should be pointed out ran against Sharman in the last municipal election.  Sharman won; Smith came third.  The second place candidate Cal Millar is now the President of the Burlington federal Conservative Association and now has the ear of MP Mike Wallace and may well expect the Wallace machine to support him in 2014.

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Halton police shoot Black Bear sighted in the Mountainside community. School children never at risk

By Staff.

BURLINGTON, ON  May 16, 2012  Seeing a black bear in the community was more than two Burlington residents expected earlier this morning.  A quick call was put into the police and that brought out Burlington Animal Control people as well as staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources .   A 300 pound + bear was too much for the Animal Control people.

The police had reported two bear spottings in the Milton area but the sense then was that bears would stay in that area.  While there is no certainty that this is the same bear the one the police had to shoot was in the area of Mountainside Park.  The park is heavily forested, contains a children’s playground and is surrounded by many residential homes and schools.

Residents in this area spotted the bear that Halton Police eventually had to shoot, because there was no tranquilizing capacity at Animal Control and the Ministry of Natural Resources were unable to respond. Watch for tranquilizer guns to show up in next year's police budget..

As soon as the report came in police set up a containment area and notified neighbouring elementary schools of the ongoing problem to ensure there was no risk to school children in the area.  Clarksdale, St. Gabriel and Rolling Meadows schools were notified by police of the bear sighting. “MNR personnel advised police that in order to immobilize a bear to relocate it, it needs to be contained up a tree and not in a densely populated residential area,” explained Halton Regional Police media Sgt. Dave Cross.

“MNR officials said it can take up to 15 to 20 minutes for immobilization to take effect, and the bear can be actively on the move and still pose a threat during this time which is why this method is not suitable for residential areas.”

The MNR advised police that they were unable to attend the scene to assist.

This was clearly a public hazard and action had to be taken immediately.  Neither police nor the City of Burlington – Animal Control is equipped with or trained in the use of large animal tranquilizer guns or traps, or wild animal relocation.  Police attempted to engage the assistance of other private enterprises that may have had the training and equipment to respond, but none were available to attend in a timely manner.

At 11:20 a.m., the bear was sighted by police. Officers tracked its movements and saw it was exiting the forested area of the park into a residential area. The bear was seen again within 30 feet of a local residence. At that point, due to overwhelming community safety concerns, the bear had to be dispatched by officers.

The bear was an adult male weighing between 300 to 400 pounds.

“We empathize with those members of the public who are distressed by today’s events. Our officers do not relish having to dispatch an animal, but our options were extremely limited. Given the particular circumstances, we could not risk public safety as the bear moved deeper into residential areas,” said Public Affairs Sgt. Dave Cross.


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More pressure to give the public access to the lakefront. St. Paul Street resident wants to see some action.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 16, 2016    Good ideas just don’t go away.  James Ziegler wants to see a new link added to the Waterfront Trail and is interested in being part of any “community action group” that might want to push this one a little further.  Any pushing needs to be done at the Parks and Recreation department where Rob Peachey has been working the file..

Ziegler explains:  “I’m a resident of St. Paul Street.  While walking with my wife tonight to the end of St. Paul Street where the road meets the lake we mused about how nice it would be to walk right up the lake shore.   My wife was surprised when I said the property maps show that it is public lands right up to the lake at this point however you would not know this from how the adjacent home owners have landscaped the area.

St. Paul Street resident wants to see Waterfront Trail extended through lake shore property the city already owns.

“We took the opportunity to walk right up to the stone lake shore protection wall and enjoy the view and I trust we were not trespassing on private land and fully within a citizen’s right to do so.

“Looking more closely at the land parcels, there is a contiguous strip of public land along the Lake shore between St. Paul Street and Market Street.    I suggest this could become a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, part of the Waterfront trail.

“Although is has become the practice of the home owners adjacent to the lake in this area to treat the land as private it is not part of their deeded land.   I believe this is no different than places along the pipeline right of way that are being cultivated for gardens by the adjacent home owners.   There are so few areas of access the the lake for the general public, areas where the land title and property lines are both separated by a significant distance, such as over 30 feet, and form part of  contiguous lands between existing streets, these areas should be considered for public pathways serving the general good of our community.

Ziegler wants to know if  “consideration of this link has been initiated by the City of Burlington.   If not I would like to discuss the feasibility of a water front link between St. Paul Street and Market Street and the formation of a citizens’ action committee to achieve this goal.  If there is already such a citizen group I will be happy to add my support to the cause.”

Les Armstrong, a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee, along with a couple of his fellow committee members covered the full length of the lakefront of the city looking for those locations where the public has the right to access the lake and found several places where the access wasn’t as accessible as it was supposed to be.

When former Mayor of Toronto, David Crombie met with the Waterfront Advisory he said there was a time when Burlington was a leader in the development of the Waterfront Trail – but that that is no longer the case.

This part of town isn't used to having just anyone tramp through the streets. Will the waterfront access ever be opened up?

The Waterfront Advisory Committee called people at city hall and asked then to explain why this was so.  Rob Peachy appeared and gave some of the background.  The best comment he made at the time was that “this wasn’t his favourite file”.  Apparently the property owners who live by the lake tend to think of the shore line as theirs and don’t appear to want any interlopers wandering around their homes.

The city has found itself with fights on their hands in the past in that part of town and haven’t always won the battle.  We just might be seeing another battle shaping up.  Will having Marianne Meed Ward at the Council table make a difference?  Stay tuned.




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The trial is over, impact statements given, the sentence delivered and they all leave the Courtroom for the last time. Now what?

Part 10

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 16, 2012   Over the course of this trial, the family of Victoria Stafford has spent a large part of their time being spectators to the court proceedings.  Having to sit quietly on the sidelines and follow along, much like the rest of us, just with a closer seat. How frustrating the last ten  weeks must have been; to be voiceless in a room with the alleged killer sitting a dozen or so feet away. Your head and heart are screaming for justice.

Tara McDonald will carry questions for the rest of her life.

The silence broke yesterday when the family gathered in the Court Room for what should be the last time to take part in the sentencing hearing of Michael Rafferty. The judge would be ruling on Mr. Rafferty’s fate, having been found guilty last Friday night on the charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. But not before the family would take the stand and explain how the loss of their beloved Tori has scarred their lives.

This is not the first time Tori’s family have given victim impact statements. They did so at Terri-Lynne  McClintic’s sentencing speaking of their tragic loss. It would seem though, that their harshest and most painful words were reserved for Rafferty.

Tori’s parents spoke along with statements from Tori’s brother Daryn, grandmothers, several aunts and uncles.  All of them listing the pain and suffering they have dealt with over the last three years. Unable to hold back her tears, Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, spoke about having no choice but to be strong and how her pain pales to that suffered by her daughter. And how she had to trade in heartwarming moments like Tori’s prom, graduation and wedding, for sombre memories the likes of the day Tori went missing and the day she was found.

One of Tori’s aunts, Rebecca Nichols, echoed a similar sentiment. Saying that instead of remembering Tori the way she was with her beautiful blue eyes and her smile and laugh, every time she hears Tori’s name she now thinks first of the forensic photographs of Tori’s distorted body.


They were close to inseparable - except for that one day.

As heart-wrenching as these statements were, it was Daryn’s prepared statement read by Crown Attorney, Stephanie Venne, that grabbed everyone. Daryn wrote about being afraid to walk alone on the street without looking back. He talked about having low self-esteem and anxiety. He also spoke of his guilt; how Tori and him had fought before parting ways on April 8, 2009, not knowing it would be the last time he would ever see her. And then he explained the loss of his “bestest friend” the one who felt what he felt. “No hugs, no ‘See you later,’ no goodbyes, just a part of my heart ripped out,” Daryn wrote in his statement. Continuing on to say he feels so alone and that it’s like the world is playing a sick trick on him, but instead it was his reality.

Daryn’s grief even touched a chord with the defendant himself. Rafferty who had remained unemotional and detached throughout the trial, wiped away tears as he sat listening in the prisoner’s box. It was unexpected to say the least, but it garnered no sympathy from the family. If I were to hazard a guess, I would think the family was happy to finally see him feeling some kind of discomfort over what he had done.

Rodney Stafford struggles with his pain - now he and his son must work out the life they will live without Tori

Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford had the harshest words of them all for Rafferty. His grief and, at times, his rage were painfully apparent as he spoke to the court. Rodney told the court how he agonized over Tori’s disappearance until she was found in a rock pile near Mount Forest months later. Of how he had to visit his daughter’s grave stone to say hi and not by having her in his arms and holding her tight. At one point he looked at Rafferty and spoke to him directly, calling him a “piece of s**t”, eliciting applause from the courtroom observers. Rodney perhaps summed it up the best near the end of his statement when he said “Nothing will ever replace what was stolen from all of us. A human life, a child’s life, my daughter’s life.”

When the family finished their statements, the court asked Michael Rafferty if he had anything to say. After being silent throughout the entire proceedings, Rafferty decided to break his silence here and now. He said he admitted he was guilty of many crimes and there are things he was very, very ashamed of doing, but he still stands behind not guilty. He confessed that he believed he was a “definite part” of why Tori is not with us today and that although we may not be believe him, he is sorry. He hopes that everyone will find closure from his sentence.

In a move that I think none of us saw coming, Rafferty addressed Tori’s mother Tara directly during his address to the court. He offered to fill in “all the pieces of the puzzle” if she wanted to hear them, but away from the court, the media and the public. Was this a genuine offer or an attempt to cast some shadow back at Tara, who had often been the scapegoat for suspicion in this case? Surely people would question why this offer was made to Tara and not to Rodney or the family as a whole.

With all parties heard from, Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney, gave his ruling on Rafferty’s sentence. He referred to the negative media attention that angered many regarding the excluded evidence obtained from Rafferty’s computer, explaining the necessity of a fair trial. He pointed out that character evidence is more about who the defendant is, not so much as to what he did, stating “Being a pervert does not mean that he is a murderer.” He went on to say “But with the verdict of the jury, that presumption of innocence has been stripped away, revealing who he really is: a child abductor; a child rapist; and a child murderer.” At the very end he told Rafferty he was a “monster.”

Daryn Stafford is a teenager now. His sister is still his" bestest" friend.

Rafferty was sentenced to twenty five years for the murder charge, and to ten years each for the kidnapping and sexual assault charges. The sentences were to be carried out concurrently. Rafferty is also banned from possessing any weapons, his name will be added to the sex offender’s registry and he also must provide a sample of his DNA. Rafferty will not be eligible for parole until May 19, 2034. However, he may be able to apply for the faint-hope clause after 15 years.

Unless an appeal is filed within the next  25  days, this will bring to a close the three year odyssey we have all endured. Tori’s family and the community of Woodstock will wake up today with no trial or verdict looming. Nothing left to do but to somehow get up and move forward in the aftermath of one of the city’s darkest and most painful periods. The city has changed; there is no doubt about it. Can we move on from this? And how?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9


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LaSalle Park Marina takes their Vision 2012 to a public information session – this is something the community should applaud.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 15, 2012  It’s a laudable objective – have the public marina at LaSalle Park become the 400th Safe Harbour in Ontario.  Burlington is one of the very last communities on Lake Ontario to have a Safe Harbour – and given that we are the Second Best City in Canada to live in – a Safe Harbour would seem essential.

LaSalle Park Marina as it looks today - 219 slips with wave breaker and docks that have to be brought ashore every winter.

For John Birch it is more than essential – a Safe Harbour out at LaSalle Park is an opportunity to add to the goals of the fisheries people, especially the Hamilton Harbour and Watershed Fisheries Management Plan.  Given all the toxic waste Hamilton has created in this end of Lake Ontario getting new fish species in the water is far more than a laudable goal – it’s an essential one.

And that is where Birch has been steering his boat for the past couple of years.  By advocating for a form of wave barrier that will result in a Safe Harbour, Birch envisions  1,500 linear feet of an environmentally friendly, state of the art, riparian rock island fish and wildlife habitat wave breaker that will provide all weather protection for the city’s marina.   It is a bold step.

The LaSalle Park Marina Association operates the marina at the foot of LaSalle Park and has done so since 1981 without so much as a dime of city money.  “We are a non-profit that built this facility from scratch and have it to the point where there are 219 slips available to members of the  Burlington Boating and Sailing Club.  There is a boat launching ramp for public use as well.

The Marina currently has 219 slips.  The docks have to be brought ashore every winter and the current wave reduction system doesn’t work particularly well.  The LPMA wants to have a riparian rock island fish and wildlife habitat wave breaker built at a cost of  $7 million that Birch expects to see paid for much the same way they built what they have today: a significant portion from the federal government with a close to matching amount from the provincial government and the rest coming from the association through some form of debenture they will pay off over time.

The option the LaSalle Park Marina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due March 2013. The design will add 100 slips plus 20 available for transient use and more significantly provide a solid barrier that will allow fish stocks to return and breed and put an end to the wave agitation

The Association has to be one of the gems for the city to work with.  Founded in 1981 the LPMA put together a joint venture with the city that works this way.  The land is owned by the city of Hamilton and is leased by Burlington and then sub-let to the LPMA.  In 1998 LPMA borrowed $250,000  from the city as part of their joint venture agreement  and built a new wave breaker that has a 20 year life span.  That loan was fully retired in 2008 – without a payment being missed.  The city now has a marina on land they lease and operated by the LPMA.  Close to 90% of the lease expense is paid by the LPMA and the Burlington Boating and Sailing Club – the city picks up 10% which pays for the public ramp.

While the wave reduction devices help – they aren’t up to the job of preventing significant damage to boats tied up in the 219 slips.

There is always someone below deck cleaning up - some things never change.

The demand for additional slips is consistent.  The Association turns people away every year and don’t expect to have any problems renting out the additional 100 slips that will become available when the project is completed.

The association saw an opportunity to take their two needs and add to them a third – a significant environmental improvement  and improving the fish habitat in the area – the result being what the LPMA hopes will become Ontario’s 400th Safe Harbour.

All hinges on a positive environmental Assessment which the LPMA expects to see completed by March of 2013.  Birch believes there are funds available for a project like the one they are proposing and that those funds will be spent somewhere – he just wants to see them spent in Burlington.

Another boat is hoisted out of the yard and into the water as the LaSalle Park Marina opens for another season.

The LPMA is confident that they can continue to operate what can only be described as a very successful business model.  The club provides an excellent marina to the city and is debt free.  It believe it will be able to bear its share of the $ 7 million it is going to cost to get the barrier in place and their hope is that the Environmental Assessment decision is for the option they have chosen.

They expect that the province will pick up 25% of the cost and the federal government an additional 25%. With LPMA picking up the balance.

This is one of those Mother of all Stakeholder partnerships.  There is the MOE, the MNR, the COB, CH, the TSP people and BARC  plus DOF, to name some of the people who will sit at this table.  All have to be placated and accommodated.

There are several options before the various levels of government.  The details are a little on the mundane side unless you sit on the LPMA Board.  The option the association likes is one that will provide everything the sailors want and given that they are going to end up paying the lion’s share of the cost – one would think the governments involved will decide in their favour.



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Region offers residents opportunity to become MVP’s – not what you think it is – but it won’t hurt you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 14, 2012  An MVP – usually means Most Valuable Player but the Regional government has given it a bit of a twist and is calling for residents with a “my point of view” approach to things,  to take part in a new on-line survey.

Do these survey ever make a difference?  Or are they a device for the political leaders to get a sense of what voters want and then look for a way to be able to afford to go in that direction,

In the tiring “political speak” the Region announces that “As part of ongoing efforts to engage with residents, Halton is launching an online citizen survey panel (Halton MVP) to gather information about important Regional issues and initiatives.  Halton MVP is now recruiting residents to join the panel at www.halton.ca/MVP.  

Regional chair Gary Carr tasting honey on a farm tour. These days he is tasting the mood of the residents; wants to know what they are thinking. Take him up on the opportunity.

“I believe it is crucial that we engage with residents and I’m hopeful that the ease and flexibility of the online survey panel will attract many people to participate,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr.  “Public Engagement is a priority of the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan and I’m pleased to see new and innovative approaches being used to connect with residents in Halton Region.”

Who writes this stuff?

The Halton MVP survey panel will be managed and administered by Jane Armstrong Research Associates on behalf of Halton Region through a secure website.  All correspondence, data collection and data analysis are the responsibility of Armstrong Research. To protect your privacy, all information provided by panelists will be held in strictest confidence by Armstrong Research.  The names of panelists, or any other identifiable information, will not be released without written permission by the participant. Individual views will remain anonymous and data will always be analyzed – and presented to Halton Region – in the aggregate. This means that personal data and answers to survey questions are always combined with those of many other panelists so that no one panelist can be singled out or identified.

Residents who register to join Halton MVP may be invited to participate in up to eight surveys each year.  Simply, respond to the surveys and have your viewpoint heard.  Registration is easy and open to all residents of Halton Region (excluding employees of Halton Region) 18 years of age or older.  For more information about Halton MVP visit www.halton.ca/MVP.

Sounds pretty harmless and given that we will be into summer re-runs on television this will give you something to do.  We will report on the survey results and then watch closely to see if they get implemented.


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Mayor takes a vacation – expects to return rested and inspired. Will be reading The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch; heavy stuff.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 13, 2012   The Mayor is on vacation so don’t expect to see him cutting a ribbon somewhere or meeting with citizens and listening intently to what they have to say any time this week

He won’t be at the interactive workshop to get public input on community design elements such as land use; transportation and natural features for the Evergreen community that is to be created along Tremaine Road.  That event, if you’re interested is to take place at Tansley United Church – Sanctuary Room, 2111 Walkers Line – 6:30 to 9:00 pm.  However, the Mayor will be brushing up on his “inspiring”  techniques.  Goldring got a call recently from  Lance Secretan author of The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch that  teaches us how to become a more inspired person and leader and how to change the world for a brighter future. It is an interesting work that helps leaders overhaul stale concepts such as mission, vision and values statements, personal leadership, coaching practices, and rethink our entire model of leadership by focusing on inspiration.

Vacation reading for Mayor Goldring

Providing the Mayor isn’t the kind of vacation reader I am (I tend to fall asleep with the book on my chest – part of my napping routine) Secretan will teach him that a leader’s power comes from the soul and reaches to a place that’s far beyond personality

Secretan, who is highly ranked as an inspirational speaker and works some of the biggest of the big in the Fortune 500 ranks, maintains great leaders inspire people, not just motivate them; they radiate inspiration without saying anything.  That’s going to be a bit of a stretch for Rick Goldring – he has a level of decency that is seldom seen in politics and his sincerity is real.  This guy doesn’t fake it – what you see is what you’re getting.

According to Secretan to be a great leader “you need to be inspired yourself first; that’s the Spark.  Then you’re able to inspire other people; that’s  the Flame, and then you can change the world; that’s the Torch.  Wow, Rick are you sure you want to do this?

Secretan maintains that to be inspired you have to understand why you’re here.  Understand your behavior and values.  Understand what you will do to change the world – ask yourself:  “What’s my calling, gifts, skills and challenges.

Secretan then maintains you have to have a dream.  By that he means not your mission, vision or values, they’re old-fashioned junk, according to Lance.

Mayor to take on the CASTLE principles: Courage, authenticity, service, truthfulness, love and effectiveness. He's doing pretty good with these already. How would his fellow council members rate themselves on this scale?

With the dream firmly in place Secretan says you have to build relationships.  Ideally with the right people and not with those who want to exploit the office you hold for their benefit and not the benefit of the larger community.

Secretan has created what he calls the CASTLE Principles

Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love and Effectiveness.

As Mayor Goldring works his way through Secretan’s The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch,  he will come to the final thoughts part; they go like this:

People get inspired with what they’re fed up by

It’s impossible to be inspired by anything that has no relationship with money

There should be a perfect intersection between your passion and your talent

Money is here to stay and will never be irrelevant because it’s energy and also a signal about your value and worth

The real issue is not the money but how much you’re willing to invest in yourself.

The Mayor told me he was taking a vacation.  This stuff is pretty heavy lifting.

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Environmentalists gather in Hamilton to talk up the mess the Great Lakes are in; Hamilton as good a place as any to begin the clean-up.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 13, 2012  They could have and perhaps should have held the event in Burlington but instead they are holding it in Hamilton.  While we are a Burlington publication, the event: Great Lakes Need Great Friends; Protecting The Great Lakes Forever, being held May 16  at 7:30 p.m. in the Hamilton First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn St. South, is important enough to get mentioned here.

That is not a healthy cloud - more like a marker telling you where Randall Reef is located - the second worst toxic site in the country.

Given that Hamilton has done as much as anyone else to come close to killing the lake and is home to the second worst toxic site in on our side of the Great Lakes perhaps the event is being held there to shame the city.  The plan to cap Randall Reef are kind of on hold – they’re still figuring out who is going to pay for the concrete cap that has to be put over the sludge that has accumulated from years of exploiting the natural water in the lake with waste from the steel mills and the coke ovens that once supplied the gas to light the street lamps in that city.

Maude Barlow, The Council of Canadians along with Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeepers and Linda Lukasik, Executive Director of Environment Hamilton will talk about just how bad the situation is and what has to be done to begin cleaning up Lake Ontario.

Getting a good start at the Hamilton end is an admirable first step but given the rate at which the federal government is killing the whole environmental review process – don’t expect to see all that much done by the federal government.  For them it is all about jobs – most of which might well be at hospices where the cancer patients can end their days after years of being exposed to toxic waste.

Randall Reef - The second worst environmental waste deposit in the country is pretty close to home isn't it

The Hamilton event is part of an eight Canadian city tour, with allied groups, several U.S. cities the “Great Lakes Needs Great Friends” Tour hopes to foster connections along the Great Lakes by making the links between current fights against threats such as “fracking”, bottled water withdrawals, invasive species, and nuclear waste storage and shipments.

Another objective is to cultivate a Great Lakes stewardship by encouraging people to recognize they not only have a right, but a responsibility to protect the Great Lakes’ waters.  Ideally this will invite community involvement and encourage inspiring actions that will help shift the current market economy priorities that govern the Great Lakes to priorities based on commons and public trust principles.

Maud Barlow, who is a delight to listen to, will tell anyone with a minute of time, that “protecting the future of the Great Lakes is in all of our hands. When communities come together with passion and purpose, they can change political priorities and shape a better future for our shared water.”

Sometime this week you will get to the lakefront – pause and ask yourself what you can do to improve what we have.  Next time you see Mike Wallace, the person Burlington sends  to Ottawa, ask him what he is doing to help; listen carefully and ask him tough questions.  His first position is to usually try and snow people.

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The murder trial of their daughter ready to go to a jury; Tori’s Mother and Father struggle to cope. They succeed.

Part 8

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 9, 2012   Imagine with me for a moment. I am going to ask you to imagine something horrible, but bear with me. Imagine one day after school, only one of your two children comes home- the other is missing. Twelve hours pass, then twenty-four,…still no sign of your baby. Another day goes by, and then another.

She just didn't come home. Her brother did, Tori didn't and she was never seen alive again.

Each day waking with renewed hope that today will bring answers, each night going to bed just as lost as the night before. The ache, the emptiness inside. The media surrounding your home, pointing a camera in your direction each time you emerge, wanting a sound bite on “how do you feel”. How would you feel? Being the spectacle of a nation; your every comment, tear and irrational reaction recorded for the masses to see? And later, for those eyes to turn their suspicious gaze on you, and you know they are thinking “maybe the mom or dad had something to do with this”.

That was life for Tara McDonald and Rodney Stafford. Treated to revolving bouts of sympathy, pity and suspicion. Knowing the entire country was watching them suffer, and not being able to deal with the darkest moment of their life in private. Something like this is difficult enough. Think about it. If it was your child, how rational would you be? Would you be worrying about what you wore to a news conference, or if what you were doing made you look suspicious. No, you wouldn’t- your mind would be where it should be- on your missing child.

But despite how awful the public ordeal of Tori’s abduction and subsequent murder may have been, I would think it would pale in comparison to having to deal with the trial, and being in the same room as her alleged murderers. For the past ten weeks, Tara and Rodney have sat in the same courtroom as Tori’s accused killers, Michael Rafferty and at times Terri-Lynn McClintic, with only several yards separating them. As a mother myself, I have no idea how Tara and Rodney have maintained enough composure to be able to be in the same room as Rafferty and McClintic without rushing the prisoner’s box.


The not knowing when on for day after day. The eyes of the public were on them every minute. An ordeal they did not need - but Tara McDonald managed to keep it together.

Yet somehow that is what they did. They endured the testimony of Terri-Lynn McClintic, who spared no detail in her narrative of the horror that Tori faced. Six long days of what was labelled the most disturbing testimony of the trial, and they were there every day. Sitting through the excruciating details compelled to bear witness to the crimes against their daughter- in the  only way they can  be there for her, this one last time.

And if the wound wasn’t raw enough, there were pictures; unrecognizable, horrific pictures of their once beautiful little girl. Identified only by her dental records and the Hannah Montana shirt she was wearing when she disappeared. The pictures were more than Rodney could handle and he left the courtroom- it was the only time he left the proceedings. Tara stayed behind crying as the images flashed by. The Coroner explained the state of Tori’s body, every gruesome piece of evidence laid out before the court. Every word another reminder that Tori will never come home.

Of all the proceedings there was one single thing I found more appalling than anything else. On the day of the Coroner’s testimony, some of the most sensitive testimony of the trial, Michael Rafferty wore a deep purple shirt and purple striped tie. It was the same shade of purple that had become synonymous with Tori, and the colour of the ribbons her family wore in her memory. The audacity of his wardrobe choice left me fuming. For the accused to come to court in a show of solidarity to the victim’s family was a huge slap in the face to Rodney, Tara, their families and the community as a whole. And I was not alone in this opinion, with other members of the community taking note of it as well. Whether that was Rafferty’s idea or that of his defence council, Dirk Derstine it was in poor taste.

In spite of all these painful obstacles, Tara and Rodney have fared reasonably well through the trial. Tara was more outspoken during Tori’s disappearance, holding daily media conferences on her front lawn. During the trial she has become a little quieter, taking a bit of a backseat in the media eye. She has kicked the drugs and has been clean for six months now. After a brief move to Brantford, she came back to Woodstock and has been at nearly every session of the McClintic and Rafferty trials.

No longer with the Mother of his daughter Rodney Stafford handled his grief in his own way; resolved to be in the court room every day with a picture of his daughter in his hand.

Rodney on the other hand is determined to build a legacy for his daughter. He has made numerous appearances over the last three years. Showing up on Charles Adler’s program, raising money for ChildFind and speaking to the media at every opportunity. Even pushing a bill proposal loosely named Tori’s law that calls for capital punishment for child killers. He has kept the promise he made at the beginning of the trial to be there and look his daughter’s accused killers in the eye.

It seems that despite their tragic loss one silver lining has come from this horrible event- both Tara and Rodney seem to be stronger people for it. Both of them have come a long way in the last three years. More action, more attention to the family and more cooperation with each other. If Tori were here she would be proud of both of them.

With the prosecution finishing their closing remarks today, the case will soon be in the jury’s hands. Tori’s family will not likely have to wait long now for the final resolution in this case. The last shred of justice to be served in Tori’s name. After that, the media will subside and Tori will become a memory for most of us. But for her family it will be just another day of trying to live without their beloved little girl.

So now, we await the verdict.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

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They haven`t walked off the earth but they are going to be on the OLG stage – June 17th 3:45 pm. We told you that two weeks ago didn’t we?

By Pepper Parr

You heard it here first – Walk off the Earth will appear on the OLG stage June 17th  at 3:45 pm.

That’s what 110 million YouTube hits and a slot on ELLEN  will get you.  What kind of a reception will the band get?  Hard to tell.  Will local guys make good go over in their home town?   we`ll know that night won’t we.

The people who run the Sound of Music in Burlington (this is the 33rd year the event has taken place) had a tough decision in front of them.  Was the group available – of course they were available.  They had to be on one of the stages and not a small stage either.  What were they going to cost?  More than the SOM had planned on spending.  Before that viral wonder they were just another band struggling to get play dates – but now they had turned their 15 minutes of fame into careers where good management could get them into plays that had never heard of them before.

So, Dave Miller, SOM Executive Director, made the phone calls and put together a deal – the rest they say is history.  We will get to see if this “viral” business makes any difference.  You had to give then credit for a cool idea.

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Chivalry will be on display at city council with two knights now at the horse shoe.

By Pepper Parr

On Sunday “The Queen” will create two new Knights of the Realm and we will see Sir Paul of Sherwood and Sir Rick of Aldershot made knights as part of a visit the “Queen” is making to Ireland House on Sunday  -Mother’s Day.

The event is part of a day of fun during which Ireland House will pay all kinds of attention to the Queen and the Monarchy – not that there is any relationship whatsoever between the Farm at Oakridge or the Royal Family for that matter, but it will be a nice day to have some fun in an ideal setting.

This is how a "knighting" takes place today and each year the Queen knights a number of people.

The event is one of those that the Museums of Burlington hold through the year.  Joseph Brant did have a connection to Royalty, quite a strong one base on the evidence at the Brant Museum, but he is apparently not going to make an appearance with the impersonator filling in for “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

There will be “tea with the Queen” at Ireland House in the afternoon and at some point there will be a ceremony that ‘knights’ Councillors Paul Sharman and Rick Craven.  There is an excellent opportunity for those participating to learn more about the heraldry that surrounds Knights, and Lords, and Barons and Viscounts and Dukes.

Knights of the medieval era were asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all.” These few guidelines were the main duties of a medieval knight, but they were very hard to accomplish fully. Knights trained in hunting, fighting, and riding, amongst other things. They were also trained to practice courteous, honorable behaviour, which was considered extremely important. Chivalry (derived from the French word chevalier implying “skills to handle a horse”) was the main principle guiding a knight’s life style. The code of chivalry dealt with three main areas: the military, social life, and religion.

When given a title the recipient has the right to create a "coat of arms". What would Paul Sharman and Rick Craven have chosen for their coat of arms.

The military side of life was very important to knighthood. Along with the fighting elements of war, there were many customs and rules to be followed as well. A way of demonstrating military chivalry was to own expensive, heavy weaponry. Weapons were not the only crucial instruments for a knight. Horses were also extremely important, and each knight often owned several horses for distinct purposes. One of the greatest signs of chivalry was the flying of coloured banners, to display power and to distinguish knights in battle and in tournaments.  Warriors were not only required to own all these belongings to prove their allegiance: they were expected to act with military courtesy as well. In combat when nobles and knights were taken prisoner, their lives were spared and were often held for ransom in somewhat comfortable surroundings. This same code of conduct did not apply to non-knights (archers, peasants, foot-soldiers, etc.) who were often slaughtered after capture, and who were viewed during battle as mere impediments to knights’ getting to other knights to fight them.

Probably not attire that we will see on either Councillor Craven or Sharman Sunday afternoon at Ireland House. Certainly not for Craven - but with Sharman - you never know.

Becoming a knight was not a widely attainable goal in the medieval era. Sons of knights were eligible for the ranks of knighthood.  While other young men could become knights, in theory, it was nearly impossible for them to achieve that goal, especially for those from the lowest class. Those who were destined to become knights were singled out: in boyhood, these future warriors were sent off to a castle as pages, later becoming squires. Commonly around the age of 20, knights would be admitted to their rank in a ceremony called either “dubbing” (from the French adoubement), or the “Accolade”. Although these strong young men had proved their eligibility, their social status would be permanently controlled. They were expected to obey the code of chivalry at all times, and no failure was accepted.[citation needed]

Chivalry and religion were mutually influenced. The early Crusades helped to clarify the moral code of chivalry as it related to religion. As a result, Christian armies began to devote their efforts to sacred purposes. As time passed, clergy instituted religious vows which required knights to use their weapons chiefly for the protection of the weak and defenceless, especially women and orphans, and of churches.

Some of this could well apply to our Council members and Burlington society in general but for this Sunday afternoon it will be a day of fun and game playing as someone impersonating the queen will tap Sharman and Craven on the shoulder with a sword and declare: “Arise Sir Paul”.

The Code of Chivalry continued to influence social behaviour long after the actual knighthood ceased to exist, influencing for example 19th century Victorian perceptions of how a “gentleman” ought to behave up to today.

Hopefully neither will take the statement all that seriously.

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The cyber crooks never stop; they are relentless. The best defence you have is to be vigilant.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 12, 2012  The email said I had recently changed my Facebook password.  I didn’t change that password and the email message was not from Facebook – but it certainly looked that way.

The message I got, set out below, needs to be looked at carefully – the way you look at your bank statement.

Look at the address he email came from –

Facebook <confirm+pepper@beach.net>

that’s not Facebook.  That’s a bunch of crooks on the other side of the world who want to steal my identity and with the bits and pieces they father they will create a profile of me and decide if I am worth trying to steal something from.

Read the address of the sender - that is not Facebook - that's someone pretending to be Facebook.

When these crooks succeed, and they succeed far more often than we realize, they do massive damage to the finances of the person they are attacking and sometime to the close to irreparable damage to reputations.

You can steer clear of much of this by being attentive – realize they’re out there and for them it costs next to nothing to send out electronic messages with the hope they will snag you.

The one thing the public needs is a place to send the attempts they get – the police are pretty good at tracking this kind of thing – but they need to know it is taking place.  The more they know the faster they can act.

At some point we will have an international agency that can track, apprehend, arrest and punish these crooks.

But for now – when you learn something tell your friends.  And pay attention.


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Guilty, guilty, guilty – he will rot in that prison. Tori Stafford’s murderer to be formally sentenced next week.

Part 9

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK ON  May 11, 2012    At 9:09pm Friday evening, there was a silence throughout Woodstock. The news was broadcasting- the verdict is in. I was on my cell texting friends, warning everyone to get in front of a TV  A friend, who does not have cable,  dashed over to her neighbour and banged on the door. Her startled neighbour was puzzled until she told him the verdict was in as she rushed into the house.   It was that important. I think the city must have ground to a halt. In fact the more I think about it, I am sure there were no cars going by on my usually busy street. We were all waiting, holding our breath.

I had Goosebumps and the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. I was furiously texting between 3 people. This is it. They are back earlier than we had thought. This was either going to be really good or really bad. The newscasters keep promising any moment we will know, be it seemed to be taking forever.

He will live in a prison with Bernardo and Williams and sit in his cell for 23 hours of each day. Child molesters are seen as the worst of the worst in prison society - there are men in there who will want to do to him what he did to that eight year old child.

And then suddenly,…..Count 1, murder in the first degree: GUILTY! I swear I heard a collective cheer within the city.  More texting back and forth. Count 2, kidnapping: GUILTY! And Count 3, sexual assault: GUILTY!  I believe a loud “YES!” escaped my lips and I pumped my fist. It was a celebration! It was over and Tori had justice!  It was like a weight suddenly lifted off the entire city.

More messages back and forth. Many wishing Rafferty would rot in prison. Several stating they wish Canada had the death penalty back. Postings littered Facebook, many making similar statements. In the end we just all felt better. We all felt he was guilty and now it was fact. Michael Rafferty was no longer the accused- it was Michael Rafferty, the convicted murderer and rapist of Tori Stafford. It was vindication, for Tori, her family and Woodstock as a whole.

Tara McDonald - an addiction to drugs brought her into a world with people who would end the life of her daughter.

Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald, left the courtroom quickly and did not stop to talk to the media. The emotion of the moment must have been overwhelming. Tori’s brother Darren was reportedly with her in the courtroom. Now 14 years old, he and his mother hugged when the verdict was announced. Someone in the courtroom asked Tara if she was happy and she said yes.

Rodney Stafford and his mother Doreen Graichen came out and spoke to the reporters. Rodney close to tears at one point said that they were “happy” with the verdict and thanked the Crown, the investigators, the people of Woodstock and even the whole province.

The Crown and Police Services both made several statements, but refused to answer questions, out of respect for the McDonald/Stafford families. They also cited the 30 day waiting period for the appeal. It was short and sweet and to the point. Rafferty was going to prison and for no less than 25 years. The soonest Rafferty could be released from prison would be 2037.

I had tears in my eyes. Especially when Rodney spoke. As I said before, I didn’t know the family, but in the last three years, I felt I knew Tori and in a way I had come to love her, just as the rest of the city had. The emotion of it all was a lot to deal with. Especially in light of what we had learned about Rafferty since the Jury was charged and sequestered.

Back on Wednesday, when the jury was safe away from the public, debating in a room in the London courthouse, new details began to leak out about the investigation into Rafferty.  Police had found much more evidence than we had been led to believe. When Rafferty was arrested he had his IPod Touch with him which was seized and searched. A search warrant was issued for Rafferty’s residence and a search there found a hard drive in a plastic bag hidden behind his dresser.  The hard drive harboured images of child porn and the laptop had a history of searches for “pre-teen” and “underage rape”.  He also downloaded a movie on Karla Homolka, at least one snuff film involving a child and a “how to” guide for raping children.

Unspeakable grief - Tori's Father sitting with his Mother.

Pretty damning evidence right? Wrong! The jury would never hear about it. The evidence was found under a faulty search warrant that omitted to list contents of computers or other electronics. Justice Thomas Heeney, ruled on January 31, 2012 that Rafferty’s rights were violated by the search of the electronics, as police did not have the appropriate warrant and thus the evidence was set aside.

Residents of Woodstock, and practically everywhere, were outraged when they heard this.  To most of us, this erased all doubt in our eyes about Rafferty’s guilt. To know the jury may never hear it was like a stake driven through the heart. Many of us had been debating if they would convict Rafferty on the sexual assault charge and to know the evidence was right there, but inadmissible was utter torture. If he  somehow escaped the charge, I don’t know what we would have done.

But the jurors saw through it. Their almost uncanny perception of this case drove them to stop deliberations and ask for clarification of what could be termed sexual assault. Pointing specifically to Tori’s clothing from the waist down being removed. I think that astute question is what sealed the fate of Mr. Rafferty. That is personal opinion, but I honestly believe that. I’m sure we will find out from the jurors themselves in the days to come.

So tonight Woodstock breathes a heavy sign of relief. An end to a nightmare and the hellish ordeal of bringing the responsible parties to justice. As Rodney said during his interview tonight, it doesn’t bring Tori back. But I’ll tell you what,  it does give us: a little bit of justice and a whole lot of closure. It is now time for the family to heal and begin the process of living life without Tori. Their battle is far from over.  Every day will still present challenges in dealing with their grief. I wish them well and I hope they find  a reason to smile again.

All the public could see was a sweet innocent child - and it was painful.

But for tonight all there is left to say is “Rest in peace Tori –  finally, you can rest in peace.”

Next week a judge will formally sentence Michael Rafferty to “life in prison”, which under out laws means he must remain in a prison for not less than 25 years.  There is a faint hope” cause that allows him to apply for an earlier release.   There is a reason for calling it the faint hope clause.

During the sentencing victims of this horrible, despicable crime are given an opportunity to make a statement on the impact the crime has had on their lives.



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Suspects arrested. Now for the trial. We expected it to be a simple case of convicting – little did we know.

Part 7

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 10, 2012  With Tori’s accused murderers finally behind bars, now there was nothing to do but prepare for the trial. Things became calm and quiet for quite a long time. But on December 9, 2010 news broke that Terri-Lynn McClintic had plead guilty to the first degree murder of Tori Stafford. But not on that day- way back on April 30, 2010. A publication ban placed by the courts had pre-empted our knowledge of this fact, but a Supreme court decision was now allowing us some of the details of McClintic’ s plea and how it played out.


The community felt cheated when there was no trial for Terri-Lynne McClintic -just a sentencing hearing at which Tori's brother spoke of losing his "bestest" friend.

As a member of this city I have to admit, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe this all happened months ago and was hidden from us. I felt cheated. Our community collectively looked for Tori, worried about Tori and mourned Tori and now we had been shut out of getting justice for “our” little girl.

I understand that it was all a necessary part of the legal wrangling that go hand-in-hand with a case like this, but still it hurt. Terri-Lynn McClintic escaped having to face the community as a whole and I was just going to have to get over the injustice of it all.

At least she had to face Tori’s family. They were in court that day and even gave victim impact statements before her sentencing. One by one, they took the stand. Tori’s mother Tara, father Rodney, brother Darren and other family members, told of a loss that pales to all else in this world. Their messages were a blend of sadness for the loss of Tori in their life, how their world was different now and the outrage of why it was their family member who had to die. Darren’s was perhaps the most painful to hear, speaking of the loss of his “bestest friend” and how she was the most important person in the world to him.

After all the proceedings were said and done, Terri-Lynn was sentenced to life- the mandatory sentence in a first degree murder plea. Her sentence was to be served at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario. Terri-Lynn had already served 7 months of her sentence by the time we finally found this all out.

In addition to Terri-Lynn’s plea arrangement and sentence, an edited version of McClintic’s statement to police, an edited version of the agreed statement of facts describing the events of April 8, 2009 and details of her cooperation with police were also publicized for the first time. Finally we had a time-line of the day in question, from when Tori was abducted to her untimely death only hours later.  McClintic admitted her guilt, freely and willingly, even attempting to express remorse for her actions. And now she was going to jail, her part in this tragedy played out and judged. But that was not the end of Terri-Lynn’s involvement. We would see her again in 2012.

We heard almost nothing from McClintic during her sentencing - but we would hear from her again in 2012 - it was to be terrible.

With McClintic successfully navigating a clear and media-free path to jail, the public was still looking to hold someone accountable. Enter Mr. Michael Rafferty, McClintic’s boyfriend and co-conspirator. Upon his arrest, Rafferty took the opposite approach to that of his former girlfriend. He hid from the cameras and refused to co-operate with police. Since his arrest in May 2009, Rafferty has not said one word. He never spoke out; not even to proclaim his innocence. There is a saying “ better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Either Rafferty or his lawyers must have seen the wisdom  in this old adage.  And as we were about to find out it would seem his whole defense was based on this premise.

On March 5th, 2012, the case that was supposed to happen in 2010 finally began in a courtroom in London. Proceedings had been moved from Woodstock to protect the integrity and fairness of the trial. No one in Woodstock seemed to mind though. No one wanted Rafferty to have grounds for appeal, so it had to be done right. The general outlook on the situation can be summed up using the words of a fellow Woodstonians. “(Rafferty was).. far enough to be tried and close enough to burn.” And almost everyone in Woodstock wanted him to “burn”.

As anxious as we were to have the murder trial underway, we weren’t prepared for some of the horrible details that would be revealed through the course of witness testimony. I will warn you, just as the judge warned the jury, some of these details are very disturbing and can be quite difficult to handle. But as I see it, we have to face the evil in order to honour Tori and her memory. The only way to acknowledge Tori’s life is to acknowledge the agony she endure for those last few hours of her life.

The Crown called 61 witnesses in total- Tori’s 3rd grade teacher, her mother Tara McDonald, co-accused Terri McClintic, the Coroner and the OPP officer who found Tori’s body, just to name a few.

Tori Stafford's grade three teacher took the stand for what had to be one of the hardest days in her teaching career.

Tori had left school just like any other day and was walking to her mother’s place on Frances St. But as we all too well know, she never made it there. Terri-Lynn picked up the tale at that point, telling the courtroom how she approach Tori and talked to her about seeing her puppy. She lured Tori into Rafferty’s car and the final moments of Tori’s life began to tick away. She told how they stopped so Rafferty could buy drugs and another stop at the Home Depot in Guelph so she could purchase the supplies that would aid in concealing Tori’s broken little body.

And then the drive to the abandoned, secluded field off of 6th Concession near Mount Forest. McClintic said Rafferty had been talking of abducting a child and had even wanted one younger than Tori for his sinister purposes. According to McClintic, she walked away from the car, giving Rafferty the opportunity to repeatedly rape the little girl. McClintic only came back when Tori asked to go to the bathroom, taking the little girl by the hand. I can only imagine what must have been said between them. Tori’s tear-stained face, pleading to just go home. McClintic reassuring the girl to quiet her.

Tori died shortly after that, leaving the mystery of who really killed her. Crushing her skull with a claw hammer and breaking 16 of her ribs, one of them brutally murdered Tori. Only three people know the truth about that moment: Rafferty, McClintic and Tori. No matter who delivered the devastating blows, one could argue the other facilitated these events. One killed Tori and the other helped kill Tori with their inaction. Then they worked together to bury Tori in garbage bags, under a pile of rocks.

The Coroner Dr. Pollanen testified to Tori’s injuries, supporting McClintic’s account of events, but could not offer proof of the sexual assault. Tori’s body was found with no pants, clad only in her Hannah Montana shirt.  Her body was already in an advanced state of decomposition when she was found and that area of her body had already deteriorated completely, thus eliminating any trace of the alleged assault.

She had been murdered the day she was abducted her body left under a pile of rocks.

OPP Det.-Staff Sgt. Jim Smyth, also took the stand, as the officer that found Tori’s body. He testified to the nature in which Tori was found and corroborated McClintic’s testimony of how she & Rafferty disposed of the body.  Smyth had used information regarding Rafferty’s cell phone usage in the area, and acting on a hunch went for a drive to check out the area. After noting similarities to McClintic’s confession he continued to investigate until he found a rock pile,…and Tori.

Rafferty’s behavior after the crime was also presented to the court. Rafferty was portrayed as a womanizer, frequently juggling women. They attempted to show how he manipulated them, specifically talking one, a mother of four, into prostitution and channeling the proceeds directly to him.  After eight  weeks of testimony, the prosecution rested.

The media waited with baited breath- would Rafferty take the stand to refute the testimony of his ex-girlfriend?  Maintaining his silence it was announced Rafferty would not be taking the stand in his own defense. Instead the Defence’s response was short and simple. They called one witness, previously unknown to anyone. This witness, a grandmother of another student at Oliver Stephens, testified that she saw Terri-Lynn inside Oliver Stevens. She claimed she saw McClintic walk away with Tori, looking very determined and on a mission. Rafferty’s attorney, Dirk Derstine, was trying to inject reasonable doubt into McClintic’ s testimony. Implying she forged the plot to abduct Tori as a means of enforcing a drug debt. He connected the dots between Tara buying drug’s from McClintic’ s mother Carol and showing they had previous knowledge of each other. Mr. Derstine was not trying to prove his client innocent, but merely to cast a broad enough shadow of doubt.


Rafferty in a police car. He chose not to take the witness stand. Was there enough evidence to convict?

And then unceremoniously, the Defence rested.

That brings us to today. Wrapping up it’s closing arguments, the defence went through its alternate theory once more and pointed out what was circumstantial. Almost wagging a finger at the jury and reminding them that they cannot convict if there is a reasonable doubt.

And in a day or two, Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney will charge the jury with determining the fate of Michael Rafferty. The decision to convict or acquit will be their’ s, and their’ s alone. All we can do is have faith and wait, hoping they make the best choice with the information presented to them.


Tori Stafford. We lost her - too soon. Woodstock needed a conviction.

It’s no secret that Tori’s family and the community of Woodstock are praying for a conviction in this case. Closure is desperately needed. Tori left our world just over three years ago, her last hours on this planet the most horrible a child could suffer. Tori was not allowed to die in peace, but perhaps with the end of the trial looming near, she will soon get to rest in peace.

Part 6

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Six community leaders recognized at awards ceremony. Wendy Hager named citizen of the year.

From the left: Michelle Bennett Environment, Sam Kawazoye Community Service, Trevor Copp Arts , Mayor Goldring, Wendy Hager, Citizen of the Year, Dan Taylor Junior Citizen and Jim Frizzle, Senior of the year.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 11, 2012  One award recipient saw the letter from city hall and thought it was a bill – so she didn’t open it.  Another had a voice that was made for the world of broadcasting.  Ellen Wilkes Irmisch,  speaking about the Arts Person of the Year Award given in her parents name, had the funniest line when she recalled for the audience the comment her mother used to make as she went out for an evening with a friend: “ make sure your hot date doesn’t become your due date.”  It had nothing to do with the award she was giving but it gave one an insight as to the kind of Mom she had.

Michelle Bennett’s acceptance speech:  This award deserves to be shared.  People who volunteer require the support of all the guests who are here tonight or in my case parents that stayed home to watch our kids.  Without the family and friendship networks  that help cover our at home and work  responsibilities, we’d be so hard pressed to join organizations and committees and support the good work being done in Burlington.  So my heartfelt thank you to you all.Another reason to share this award is because it was and still is a team effort to create this wonderful new community garden.  City Staff  identified available funds early on, and worked diligently to prepare staff reports that City Council unanimously endorsed.  The Burlington Sustainable Development CAC led the charge and BurlingtonGreen received the baton and ran with it to create a wonderful supportive program to really kick start this new pilot community garden.  Citizens have been impressed with the good work of the Parks and RPM staff in the garden construction, and are simply thrilled to be involved with this healthy grow-it-yourself opportunity to add fresh food to their daily plates.To receive this Environmental award has made me ponder the meaning of being identified publically as an Environmentalist.An environmentalist is someone who believes our consumer driven lifestyles have collectively contributed to climate change.  Someone who believes that by reducing our personal impact and by voicing our concern to change government policy and corporate practice that collectively we can hope to mitigate the negative consequences that threaten our immediate security, and our future survival.Personal action is where we each have the most control.   For instance, our household of 5 uses one vehicle. Our kids and I quite easily get the majority of what we need and want done by carpooling, taking a bus, walking or riding a bike.   To transition from stay at home mom I chose to spend my time volunteering for causes I felt important, and work for a local non-profit that advocates and provides programs to support environmental awareness and local policy for a healthier, greener city.  Thank you to Amy Schnurr and BurlingtonGreen for this opportunity.  I grow a garden (a few now actually), buy organic and local food when I can, and hope to inspire others to do the same. I am a daughter, a spouse, mother and citizen.  I do not wear an environmentalist label exclusively or intentionally.  It seems to be something that has grown on me naturally as I have simply altered small and large day to day practices making decisions with a conscious scope on what many consider common sense basics:  Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Grow. Buy and Eat Local.    Many people are aligned with the environmental movement’s goals even if they don’t necessarily align themselves with the movement itself.  We all can live eco friendly lives simply by striving daily to make rational balanced decisions.  Living lightly is a balancing act we can all improve upon.To truly create a more sustainable and equitable social and economic system we need to embrace the creation of “green” jobs and welcome more eco-conscious industry and services to Burlington.  I hope that the City or Chamber of Commerce will someday create an award to recognize the achievement of social, economic and environmental triple bottom line success in Burlington. We need to look past inherited divisions and understand that most of us are on the same side with the same fears, hopes and goals regardless of what labels we may wear.  Timelines are a victim of politics, but goals can be reached in both the short and long term as long as the commitment is made.  Individual efforts can make a difference, and collectively we can make good things grow.

The Civic Recognition Awards is a community event; a time to recognize those people who do the things that make a community real; a place where you can live a good, comfortable life and spend some of your time helping others.

Jim Frizzle, recognized as the Burlington Senior of the Year arrived 20 years ago and got to know his neighbour Keith Strong. And anyone who knows Keith Strong knows the rest of the story.

Jim Frizzle, who certainly did a lot of helping, explained that when he moved to Burlington twenty years ago,  his neighbour said he would have plenty of things to volunteer on.  His neighbour was Keith Strong, chair of the Civic Recognition Committee for 2011,  and probably the best civic minded strong arm the city has.  We are fortunate to have both of them.

Dan Taylor, Junior Citizen of the Year thanked his parents for driving him to all the places he had to get to as he both motivated and lead fellow high school students.  This young man has a voice that was made for broadcasting; listening to him – and you understand immediately how he motivates.

There were award recipients in six categories.

Community Service Award given to Sam Hawazoye, the sole nominee in the category.

Environmental Award given to Michelle Bennett with Susan Fraser and Barbara Frensch nominated.

Arts Person of the Year given to Trevor Copp with Myles Erlick nominated.

Junior Citizen of the Year given to  Dan Taylor with  Bo Chen Han and  Amy Stringer nominated.

Senior Person of the year award given to Jim Frizzle, with Donald Jervis, Mary Plows and Dr. Salem Rao nominated.

Citizen of the Year Award was given to Wendy Hagar with Marilyn Heinz, Bev Jacobs and Crystal McNerney nominated.

Burlington has been recognizing its leading citizens since 1955



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Freeman Station comes to a stop to take on fuel and load up with some cash. An oil change is in the works as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 9, 2012  The Friends of Freeman Station (FoFS) appear to have gotten at least a two base hit with the announcement on the location for the structure that is sitting  on the Fire Station parking lot on Fairview Avenue.  Less than an hour after the location announcement the Burlington Historical Society (BHS) said they wanted to share “good news” which it certainly was; a generous pledge to the restoration of the Freeman Station, as  well as a matching pledge for donations by members of the BHS.

Now if the Mayor announces he will be bringing a motion to provide the Friends of Freeman station a significant chunk of money and then those city Councillors who shamed themselves when they let the federal Stimulus money get away on them were to agree to support the motion and at least buy a Save the Freeman Station T- shirt this could go down as a day in Burlington history where its heritage got a decent shake.

The new location, which the FoFS call “temporary” is less than 50 yards from where it sits.  The property was donated to the city by Ashland Inc., a company that has been in Burlington for 100 years.

Each time any of the FoFS checked in on the station they would see this empty triangular shaped space with a hydro tower looming over it and wonder why the station couldn’t be stored there.  Calls to the people who owned the property went very well and before they knew it The Friends of Freeman Station had a partner and a place to put the station.  Prior to that break the FoFS were beginning to feel a little glum and some people began to give up.

“I was just blown away by how receptive they were to the ideas we had.  Scott Thomson couldn’t do enough for us” said James Smith, president of  FoFS which now has charitable status that lets them issues tax receipts and eligible for federal and or provincial grants.

The Burlington West Station at Freeman is going to need a lot of tender loving care but now that she is with a family that wants her she will grow into a beautiful structure.station

FoFS have done surprisingly well on the local fund raising.  They are all but sold out with their first run of T-shirts.  The second run should be slightly different so that the first run become real collectors’ items.

The Burlington West Station in Freeman, built in 1906, was closed more than 20 years ago, but is still part of Burlington’s living history.

The relocation was approved April 30, 2012, by City Council, based on a proposal by the non-profit community group Friends of Freeman Station. The historical structure, bought by the city in 2005, will move to land offered by Ashland, a global company that specializes in chemical solutions for consumer and industrial markets.


A spot of land that Ashland could not use was made available to the Friends of Freeman who brokered a deal with the city that has the station, which the city owns, being located on land that Ashland donates or leases to the city. The building will sit just inside the gates shown above. The Fire Station on Fairview is adjacent to the property.

“I’m thrilled we’ve found a home for the station so restoration can begin soon,” said James Smith, president of the Friends of Freeman Station. “Our volunteers have worked very hard to achieve this arrangement. I’m excited by the opportunity and impressed by the positive response from Ashland.”

Somehow the station name sign was salvaged. It won't be long before it sits in its rightful place with a new coat of paint.

The city, challenged with finding an agreeable home for historic Freeman Station, in January 2011 approved the creation of an ad hoc committee that was facilitated by Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster to look at options for saving Freeman Station. Sites that had already been rejected by the previous City Council were not to be considered.

“The Friends of Freeman Station has done a phenomenal job, and has grown to 243 members,” said Councillor Meed Ward. “The community has really come through for the station, donating more than $30,000. I would like to send a special thanks to Rob and Laura Freeman and Don and Wendy Smith for their lead donations of $5,000 each.”

Station will sit on a triangle of land right beside the Fairview Street fire station

The relocation of the station is expected to take place later this year.  The first step is to get it moved onto the property and that means getting some kind of a base put in place.  Then perhaps looking for a way to cover the structure so that there is no more damage from the weather.  Smith thinks the roof is the first part that needs attention.

Ashland celebrates a 100th anniversary this year. The current Ashland facility was built in 1912 by the Vera Chemical Company of Canada Ltd. Its four employees manufactured rosin sizing to supply Canadian paper mills. The Hercules Powder Company of Wilmington, Delaware bought the company in 1931. Ashland bought Hercules in 2008.

“We look forward to working with the Friends of Freeman Station to achieve a successful and timely completion of the restoration to Freeman Station,” said Scott Thomson, Ashland plant manager.

Headquartered in Kentucky, Ashland markets high quality motor oils under the Valvoline brand name

So, who are the people that pulled this off after city council basically walked away from the building and hoped that someone might buy it for scrap.  An advertisement was run in newspapers – but there were no takers.

The scope of the restoration work can be seen - lots of work to be done. Willing hands ready to do it. Give the Friends of Freeman a call - they will keep you busy for the next while.

The Friends of Freeman Station is a non-profit community group and registered charity whose aim is to relocate, restore and preserve the historic Freeman Station for the enjoyment of current and future generations. Freeman Station is recognized for its architectural and historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Heritage Burlington.

While the group and many members of the public are still hopeful that the station ultimately can be located in Beachway Park, an immediate move will allow FoFS members to begin restoration and continue fundraising and public education in a new and more visible location. Public events are planned in co-operation with Ashland Inc., whose site is celebrating 100 years in Burlington this year.

The City of Burlington owns the station. Restoration is expected to cost $350,000. The station, which used to sit on the CN tracks just west of Brant Street,  less than a “click away” explain Smith, is being stored behind the Burlington Fire headquarters on Fairview Street.


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JBMH wants the money but they don’t seem to want to say how they will spend it. They will want a quick site plan approval.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 8, 2012  There was a line from the film Cool Hand Luke, that starred the late Paul Newman, where a prison guard said “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  At the time Newman was doing everything he could not to communicate.  The ending was a tough one.

One got the feeling that while delivering a very brief update to a Council Budget and Corporate Services committee meeting, General Manager Scott Stewart wanted to use those words but chose to be a little more diplomatic, which for Stewart is a stretch at the best of times.

City General Manager Scott Stewart doesn't take this smile to hospital meetings.

Stewart reported that the city had not been able to arrange a meeting with the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) until sometime in August to discuss the Contribution Agreement that is to be signed between the hospital and the city.  That’s the document that is going to take $60 million of your dollars and slide it across the table to the hospital. The city has just over $4.8 million of the $60 million saved already but we are going to have to borrow much of the rest of it so the hospital can begin the build.

Stewart added that it looked as if the agreement would get worked out between the city and the hospital by email; which has got to be about as archaic as it gets – they are less than a twenty minute walk away from each other.  Saying they are not available until sometime in August is basically the same as saying: ‘we don’t want to talk to you, so go away – but send us the money you have to give us’.

Apparently the real reason for not being able to meet before sometime in August is a combination of  vacation schedules, commitments that can’t be broken – we all go through those problems.  However, if you really want to meet – you make it happen.  Unless of course there is a problem that is insurmountable – and that would be what?  Wait for it.  The lawyers, the lawyers can’t clear time for a meeting until sometime in August.

What are the lawyers doing in the room at all?  Surely senior city people and senior hospital people can put together the basics – all we are doing here is setting out what they will do with the money we send them – then give it to the lawyers and let them make sure that all the niceties are covered, shake hands and then deliver the cheque.

Is the city negotiating with the hospital?  We will know when the Contribution gets to a city council committee.

The city is required to help fund the renovation of the hospital and it has taxed its citizens and used a significant portion of last year’s surplus to come up with our share.  The hospital has to raise an additional $60 million.

Burlington does not have a choice in this matter – the province mandated that we give the money to the hospital.  We apparently don’t give the funds directly to the hospital corporation but to the hospital Foundation which in turn passes it along to the hospital.

The relationship between the city and the hospital corporation is getting a little caustic.  The city needs an agreement that sets out a “responsible and timely release of funds” and given that we are going to have to borrow much of our contribution we would like to be able to plan the flow of funds.  Burlington maintains a very strong, positive relationship with the Performing Arts Centre where more than half a million dollars is sent every year.  They find a way to work through the differences with the Seniors basically because they meet and work through the issues.

With the city being required to come up with $60 million, the hospital, one would hope, would accept the fact that they have a new partner and not a junior partner either, and they have to learn to share the responsibility of working with the community to raise the funds and get the hospital to the point where it is not the mess it was when current president Vandewall was brought in.

JBMH president Eric Vandewall is reported to be working on his schedule and making time to meet with the city. Dinner with senior city staff was a good start.

The egos that are at times all too visible, have to be left at the door so that an adult relationship can take place.

When Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital president Eric Vandewall appeared before a city council committee last year he made the statement that the hospital would match the city contribution “dollar for dollar”, which made a number of Council members feel a little better about turning over tax payers’ dollars to the hospital.  That good feeling has come close to evaporating.

General Manager Stewart and the city manager are to have dinner with the hospital president and some of his leading people, which will undoubtedly include VP Communication Mario Joanette – who might manage an explanation as to just what is wrong with the communications.

There have not been any announcements from the hospital foundation on how they are doing on the raising of their $60 million.  We are told that there is a very big announcement coming and to expect a number of announcements at the Crystal Ball Gala, which takes place later this month.  We are told it is a sold out event with more than 100 people learning they could not get a ticket.  This Gala event – and it is quite the event, being held at the Mercedes Benz dealership on the North Service Road, is where the hospital Foundation may announce what it has collected to date in the way of its fund raising efforts.

The Foundation people are good at what they do – they don’t have any problem communicating.  Things are a little different on the hospital administration side.

While the city does its best to meet with the hospital to work through the agreement on how the JBMH people are going to spend the tax dollars we give them – the city’s Planning Department is able to talk to the hospital people about the actual construction of the building – reported to be a seven storey building on land that currently serves as a parking lot.

Site Plan approval for the structure is anticipated in late May or early June with approval expected in September or early October.  So far the public has very little information on what’s going on.  It seems like a ‘send us your money and don’t ask any questions’

Site plan approval will include traffic impacts, archeological investigation, storm water management and public consultation.  The city will have to deal with all this in a relatively short period of time.

The archeological aspects could turn out to be interesting.  The land the hospital was built on is part of the original land grant to Joseph Brant and there are reported to be some strings attached to just what can and cannot be done with that land.

It's supposed to be all about the hospital and its desperately needed re-build. Can they all not just get on with it?

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been a very strong proponent of ensuring that the public is given every opportunity to comment on developments in the city and has been very vocal about the amount of time the public has to read the reports and given the time to form their opinion.  Meed Ward is a member of the hospital board and while there is an evident conflict in sitting on the hospital board and sitting as a Councillor, especially when there is serious and significant tension over the wording of the Contribution Agreement, but that does not seem to bother Meed Ward.  Can she act for her constituents to ensure they are given the information they need and at the same time sit on the hospital board and argue that information should be made available and that the public, who after all are picking up a significant part of the cost of the redevelopment, be given every opportunity to comment?

Elections cost money.  Anyone running for the office of Mayor needs people who can write the cheques to cover the cost of an election campaign.  Meed Ward doesn’t accept campaign funds from developers but she would be comfortable with getting funds from the kind of people who attend social events with impressive ticket prices.


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Community group formed to ensure transit does not get overlooked during Official Plan review.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 9, 2012  If the team overseeing the review of the city’s Official Plan thought they were going to be able to give transit a once over – they learned Monday that Walter Mulkewich, a former Mayor, was not going to let that happen.

The city may have a Transit Advisory Committee and Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward might have a group in her community taking a close look at transit as well, but  Mulkewich and his crowd are going to be sure that the city fully understands the link between transit and the social welfare of the city.

Walter Mulkewich will bring years of experience and a committement to social justice will be brought to bear on how transit is treated in the Official Plan Review. Being a former Mayor won't hurt either.

Mulkewich delegated to the Special Council meeting held to hear delegations on the Official Plan Review

The committee has some of the best citizen transit thinkers in the city and they fully intend to ensure the Official Plan review gets a full ear on transit matters

Mulkewich was there to speak for an Interim Steering Committee, which is a group of citizens who are in the process of organizing a broad based coalition to advocate for better transit as a apart of the Burlington transportation system.

This is a group that is citizen based, that has people with a solid background in transit and the ability to not only lay their hands on the data that tells what is happening with the transit system but also the ability as well to do the analysis and draw conclusions from which evidence based decisions can be made.

Transit is more than just busses - some people would be delighted if bus transit got the attention and the funding it needs.

Mulkewich set out the premise the group is working  from when he said “we support the significant point in the staff report that a long-term view of the city’s transportation system is a necessary part of the Official Plan. Our hope and expectation” he added, “ would be that the parallel Transportation Plan would include all modes of transportation, including transit, walking and cycling as well as automobile and truck transportation.

Mulkewich noted with interest that all six major topic areas that staff has identified to date will require a consideration of a significant role of transit.

The six major topics Mulkewich refers to are those that the team leading the Official Plan review think need attention.  The six Neighbourhoods; Downtown; Nodes and Corridors; Metrolinx and Mobility Hubs; Movement and Connectivity and Community Infrastructure.  We will expand on each of these in some detail later in the process and follow each for the two years (mercy) the city expects to require for the full review of the Official Plan.

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We didn’t know it at the time but there was a break developing in the case. The police had a suspect.

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.


By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 5, 2012  The trial trying Michael Rafferty for the murder of Tori Stafford is in its final stages.  The prosecution made its case with close to a score of witnesses; the defence called just the one witness who with her testimony shed some serious light on the relation between Terri-Lynne McClintic and eight year old Tori.  It would appear from that testimony that the child knew McClintic who earlier plead guilty to the murder of the child.

Now it was all coming to a close – the jury would hear closing arguments from the prosecution and the defence and the judge would then instruct the jury and they would then deliberate and come back with a verdict.  In less than ten days the decision would be known.  Would Woodstock feel any sense of relief?  The city was feeling very anxious, worried and afraid three years earlier when we didn’t know enough.

In the weeks following Tori’s abduction, Woodstock had weathered a roller coaster of events. The parents were investigated, searches were conducted and the police scandalized over the Amber Alert. A reward for Tori’s safe return was offered by a mysterious unnamed benefactor and the child’s story was highlighted on America’s Most Wanted. The drama had played on and on and the emotion of it all was wearing on the community. We didn’t seem to be any further ahead than we were 41 days ago when it all started. Hope was dwindling. People began to vocally speculate Tori had met an unfortunate end. No trace, no signs – what other answer could there be?

Even Tara McDonald and Rodney Stafford, Tori’s parents, were reaching their limit. For the most part they had respected each other’s boundaries, not treading on each other in the public eye. But by May 15th,  2009,  something snapped and they were caught publicly bickering at each other during a news conference. The fact that they made it this far without something happening sooner was laudable. But the emotional toll of constant interviews and media conferences seemed to finally get to them. They made up a few days later when they jointly announced they had accepted the help of a private investigator and apologized to the media for their previous behavior. They wanted the focus to remain on Tori.

While being held on an unrelated charge Terri-Lynne McClintic was questioned about the murder of Tori Stafford.

Unbeknownst to Tara & Rodney, as they were representing their unified front, police were working on a break in the case.  A young woman named Terri-Lynn McClintic was in police custody and had been since April 12th on an unrelated charge. She had been placed in Genst Youth Detention Centre in London, and during her time there, had agreed to a polygraph test regarding that other charge. In order to prepare for administering the polygraph, police interviewed several of Terri-Lynn’s acquaintances, including Michael Rafferty, who had made two visits to see McClintic during her stay at Genst. On May 19th police administered the polygraph to McClintic with surprising results.

On the same day police arrested McClintic and later her friend Rafferty. During that polygraph on the unrelated charge, Terri-Lynn confessed to the abduction of Tori Stafford and implicated her friend Michael as her co-conspirator and identified him as Tori’s rapist and murderer. Rafferty was charged with first degree murder and abduction of someone under the age of 16. McClinitc was booked on abducting someone under the age of 16 and accessory to murder.

So there it was. Six weeks of mystery concluded with an answer no one wanted- Tori was dead. There was no body, so some in the community refused to give up hope. Most others accepted what they already felt all along. Tori’s young bright light had been snuffed out in a twisted reality that seemed more like an episode of Law & Order SVU than real life. It was a relief in some ways. It was over and the parties presumed responsible were in police custody.

It was also a  frustrating end to a very painful six weeks. Woodstock had invested a lot of time into Tori and finding her. The community involvement in the case was overwhelming, with many people actively volunteering. The last thing we had was hope- waning hope, but still hope. And now that too was taken from us. The fear of the unknown was gone and we were faced with the stark reality.

While the details were not fully known - there were now two people that were identified as being somehow involved with the murder of Tori Stafford. Michael Rafferty was the second suspect.

The attention in the community now shifted from Tori to these two suspects. Who were they? Where in the city did they live?  Had we been interacting with these people and not know what they really were? To many of us it was hard to comprehend that the people charged with this heinous set of crimes had been living amongst us all along. I found myself wondering if I had passed one or both in the local Wal-Mart or one of the grocery stores. It’s one thing to suspect there is a predator on the loose, it’s another to realize you may have been standing next to one of them in a line somewhere.

And my daughter- she was with me in those stores. Did they look at her? Did they think about taking another child?…. maybe even my own? It was a horrid thought but a realization I could not help but come to. How close did we come to these two suspects? Too close for me. I later found out both McClintic and Rafferty lived within less than a 2 km radius of my home.

The following weeks and months would be a continuous leak of new information about these two individuals. What they posted on Facebook, the things they said, the people they knew. What was once a lack of information had become an almost overwhelming wave of detail and minutia. Did I want to know this much about the alleged murderers of our beloved Tori? No, but I needed to know. I needed to face it out of respect for Tori.

The pictures of Tori Stafford were now harder to look at because we knew now we would never see her again.

The end of May brought the announcement that McClintic and Rafferty would be tried separately. Rafferty’s newly hired counsel speculated publicly that there was no need for it unless there was a deal in the works, a very bold jab at McClintic’ s camp. The pieces were starting to fall into place, with everyone beginning their preparations for the eventual trial. The roller coaster of information would take another dive as each camp begun to hold their cards closer to their chest, not wanting to tip their hand before their day in court. It would be the start of a 3 year battle to bring the accused killers to justice.

And what of Tori’s family? Now having to face the idea that they will never see their precious little girl again. Never again to hold her hand when crossing the street or feel the brush of her cheek as she kisses them goodnight. No prom, no graduation, no wedding or grandchildren. It was more than the loss of a life, it was the loss of a future. There is no charge for that, although there should be.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5






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