This one has been some time coming but the police got them; they usually do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. March 7, 2013 The police have been investigating a group of thieves that focus on ATM machines – they know how they operate but until yesterday they had not managed to make any arrests.

They created a Project Scorch that used the resources of a number of police forces – ATM break and enter bandits

Police arrested three  people in connection with a string of over one hundred and thirty break and enters to ATM machines that have taken place in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec since October 24th, 2010.

Police knew what these guys were up to but the security cameras didn’t give them enough detail. Arrests were made yesterday – guess they got better pictures.

The Halton Regional Police and Toronto Police Services have worked in partnership over the last two months, culminating in the arrests on yesterday.   A group of people were identified as being responsible for sixty (60) break and enters into ATM machines within the Quebec region and over seventy (70) break and enters within the province of Ontario.  Areas in Ontario that were victimized by this group include Niagara, Hamilton, Waterloo, York, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, Toronto and Halton Regions.

The accused parties used various methods of breaking into the ATM’s including prying, drilling and torching open the machines to remove the cash inside.  A quantity of cash, break and enter tools and two vehicles have been seized as a result. Police have charged the accused parties with over 20 counts of Break and Enter, one count of Participating in a Criminal Organization and multiple counts of Possession of Break and Enter Instruments.

The accused parties are identified as:

William NOLIN, 43 years of age – Niagara resident

Regean LAVIGNE 48 years of age – Laval, Quebec resident

Maxime LAVIGNE 24 years of age – Laval, Quebec resident.  Maxime is the son of co-accused Regean.

NOLIN was arrested in NIAGARA and the LAVIGNE’s were arrested in the City of Toronto on this date.

 

NOLIN and the LAVIGNE’s are being held for a bail hearing scheduled for Friday March 8th 2013 at the Milton Provincial Court.

A fourth male is being sought in connection with these incidents.  Police anticipate issuing a Canada Wide arrest warrant in the coming days for this individual.  Police continue to investigate these incidents and are anticipating laying several additional charges as information comes to light.

The police will have more to say about this case.


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Hustle, hustle, hustle – he’s as good as a circus barker – Burchill at his best – every first Wednesday of the month.

 

James Burchill convinces the community to donate door prizes and seldom has less than 300 people showing up for an event. His mailing list has surpassed the 1500 mark. He might begin to sell insurance to a list like that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 7, 2013   He has out done himself with this one.  James Burchill the tireless Chief Cheese of Business in Burlington who has the worst collection of puns you will ever come across has pulled of a major score.  He convinced the management at the Performing Arts centre to let him use the Family room, the Community room and now the mezzanine level into a trade bazaar.

He’s going to have three cash bars operating and expects more than 500 people to cruise through the event that will have some 20 vendors in what he calls zones.

Burchill will fill any email box he can find with a breathless announcement of what he gotten done “on your behalf” or as he put it in his most recent missive: “In 2 weeks it’s March 21st – the first day of Spring and at 5pm over 540 people will be arriving to enjoy some Social Fusion Networking and a Trade Show at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.”

Admission, Burchill tells everyone, is FR’EE. There are more than 20 vendor displays to explore throughout 4 zones (the Foyer, (It’s called the Family Room, James)  the Studio, The Mezzanine and now … the Upper Mezzanine as well.)

There are 3 cash bars. FREE canapé’s and other treats. Hundreds of dollars in door prizes and the event runs for an extra half-hour now.

If you’re not on the guest list and you’d like to be, simply RSVP here:

Consistent crowds means he’s serving a need. James Burchill draws them out to his MeetUp every Wednesday in Burlington. He also has groups on Oakville and Niagara Falls.

Burchill has used social media exclusively to build the organization, that’s all he has going for him,  and he is something of an expert in the field.  He has built the networking organization from just under 100 in a short 18 months to a group that is now very close to the 1500 mark.  It is made up mostly of smaller independent types – the services offered range from hypnotism to computer repair.

There are no membership fees, just show up.  Burchill once asked people to show up in shorts – few took him up on that one.  It’s networking at its best and is done with quite a bit more hustle than you see at say the Chamber of Commerce events.

Burchill has an agenda – he is a true believer, more like an evangelist actually, in what he is doing.  Can it last?  Few thought it would get this far.

The crowd and it is a crowd, meets at the Beaver and Bullfrog at the Waterfront hotel in the winters months and has moved the event to the Ivy on the South Service Road for the warmer months where the parking is not a problem.


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Getting foreign environmental professionals out into the woods to make use of their skills.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 7, 2013  When men and woman with professional credentials from a foreign country come to Canada they often have difficulty finding the work they want because they don’t have any “Canadian experience”.  In some instances this is really a racial trick played on people from diverse backgrounds but in many situations an understanding of Canada’s history, its geography and the social mores are necessary.

Canada has an approach to its environment that is totally different from any Asian or African country.  How do foreign trained professionals learn how we handle our environment?

Conservation Halton and Future Watch have taken an interesting and proactive first step in the New Canadian Stewardship Course that offers training  for foreign trained environmental professionals.

Conserving the environment and making room for foreigners with environmental training is part of a new Conservation Halton initiative funded by a Trillium Grant

The course, which starts in April, is an intensive, eight-week certificate workshop series by Conservation Halton for New Canadians in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville. It is designed to help participants gain valuable, introductory knowledge and enhance their employment opportunities in the community environmental sector. Expert speakers will deliver a weekly workshop on topics such as:

Planning and Environmental Management

Local Ecology and Biodiversity

Forestry Management

Natural Hazards Management and Source Water Protection

Recreation Management and Risk Assessment

Governance, Communication and Social Media

“Conservation Halton is delighted to be working in partnership with FutureWatch EDEP on the Natural Connections program to introduce new Canadians to Halton’s green sector,” said Hassaan Basit, Director of Communications Services for Conservation Halton. “The new Canadian Stewardship Course will allow participants to see how their energy, experience and skills can help protect our local environment.”

Ensuring our environment will always have a safe home – for fowl like this to keep an eye on us.

“The course also has a second, equally important objective”, continued Basit, “it promotes our environmental and recreation programs and services to new and ethnically diverse residents within the watershed. Rather than broadcast our messages through traditional media channels and hope that one-size-fits-all, we are aiming to instead have a tailored conversation about our programs by engaging with the various ethnic communities that are taking shape within the watershed”.

What can we learn from people from other countries about how to better manage our environment?

“Natural Connections is promoting environmental engagement at many levels in the community: to families, to diverse newcomer communities, and to internationally trained professionals,” said Eduardo Garay of FutureWatch EDEP. “The New Canadian Stewardship Course provides a great starting point for foreign-trained professionals, who have tremendous knowledge, to get involved with local community initiatives while gaining as well as sharing their expertise.”

Spaces in the course are limited; interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter by Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by e-mail to the program coordinator at aneliat@futurewatch.net, or by mail: Natural Connections Coordinator, 2596 Britannia Road West, Burlington, ON L7P 0G3.

The course is free except for a registration fee of $15 for candidates who are admitted to the course. Successful participants will receive a certificate of completion at a formal graduation ceremony during the Conservation Halton Awards of Excellence on June 13. Please visit the Natural Connections website, www.nchalton.ca for more details.


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Performing Arts want smart people to take to the stage and do more than tap dance. If you have organizational smarts – call them.

Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 6, 2013  Getting good help is never an easy task.  Finding the people with the skill set needed and the temperament to do the job is what smart human resources people do for a living.

When the search is for the director of a public corporation all kinds of resources are available. When the search is for leadership of a community based organization that is expected to be one of the economic drivers – in Burlington, we don’t give them anywhere near the resources needed to find the right people.

We let egos, clout and long-established relationships determine who is selected for a Board and forget that the taxpayers depend on political and economic leadership to make wise decisions.  Thinking outside and looking outside the box is vital – and for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre it is critical to their survival.

The Centre is currently asking for nominations to the Board of Theatre Burlington Inc., the non-profit that oversees, on behalf of the community, how the Performing Arts Centre is run.

Some hard-working people with great skills and experience got the hole dug in the ground and erected a fine structure.  It has all the whistles and bells needed to put on first class performances.

The Performing Arts Centre looked great on its official opening night – staff showed they knew how to dress the place. The program being offered is good – the communication with the community and the selling what they have to offer is where there are problems.

Management of the Centre showed the community they knew how to put on a boffo event when they held the Official  Opening in December of 2010, that had Sarah McLaughlin on stage.  It was a first class event – it didn’t make any money – it wasn’t supposed to.  It was a showing off event that Cogeco Cable used five cameras to cover.

After that it was time to get down to business and that’s where there was some slippage.  The definitive agreement between the city, which owns the building, and the Theatre Board took close to forever to get completed.  That should have been a sign that there is “trouble in paradise”.

The soft start was a wise move, they took time to get the feel of the building and work out the bumps.  The city had great hopes, some of them were uninformed hopes, these places never show a profit but there were those in Burlington who thought the place was going to show a surplus each year.

As the Centre got into full operation the problems began to show up, small ones at first,  but there was a consistency to the problems.  The first year the budget for the Centre was taken to a city council committee the Executive Director was left to fend for herself – there wasn’t a director in sight.

Councillor Taylor  was impressed and said he looked forward to a trouble-free operation.

When the Performing Arts people returned for funding this year it was a different story.  There was a significant shortfall in rentals and a deficit that had to be covered.

The projections put forward earlier were unrealistic, and PAC management didn’t provide Council with the data they needed in a timely manner.

The two city representatives on the Theatre Burlington board had not kept council fully briefed on just what was happening.  If they didn’t know – then we really have a problem.  The Mayor and Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven sit on that Board – it was their job to ask the hard questions and properly represent the interests of the taxpayers who are now going to see their tax money used to pay for the shortfall.

It looks as if city council will approve the funding required but there are going to be strings attached.  Councillor Taylor as chair of the Budget and Corporate Services committee that will be approving funding but there are conditions: he wants a full Business Plan review that gets into the details and learns where the problems are and what’s being done to resolve them.

And he isn’t going to tolerate PAC management holding back on critical data.  The kimono will be wide open.

That is usually the domain of the Board of Directors of the PAC who have clearly failed.  The good news to all this is that the Board is now looking for nominations to that Board.  Let’s get it right this time.

Is there another local Board Councillor Craven could serve on?

The Mayor does not appear to have kept his fellow council members informed as to just how big a financial mess the Performing Arts Centre was experiencing.

It wouldn’t hurt if the people handling the selection of Board members brought in a consultant with human resource experience.  Jeff Fielding, city manager, had better be on that selection committee.  Given the failure to perform on the part of the Mayor and Councillor Craven,  it might be a good idea not to return either of them to the Board.

We have a serious problem to which there is a solution and there are people in this city with the experience to solve those problems.  Time to look outside the list of the “usual suspects” and bring in people who have the needed experience and the desire to take a fresh look.

Gerry Smallegange, President and Chief Executive Officer of Burlington Hydro could be on that Board and Stephen Friday , chair of the hospital board.  Anissa Hilborn who heads up the hospital foundation would ask the tough questions.   This city has the talent the Performing Arts Centre needs – dig it out and get them to work.

The objective for Board members, as set out on the PAC’s web site is:

To lead a progressive performing arts centre that is a gathering place, offering a balance of community and professional programming guided by artistic vision and excellence

To build, foster and celebrate cultural vitality and diversity in the City of Burlington so that the Performing Arts are seen as an important component of everyday life

Corporate happy is the kindest way to describe those two statements; they are a reflection of why that Board doesn’t function.  The current Board consists of:

 

Allan Pearson, Chairman

Rick Burgess, Vice-Chair

Peter Ashmore

Robert Ban

Councillor Rick Craven

Ilene Elkaim

Jeff Fielding, City Manager

Mayor Rick Goldring

Denise Walker

The media release on the PAC web site doesn’t say how many are being replaced.  The Chair and the vice chair might want to look for something else to do.  Peter Ashmore is stick handling a tough situation, it would be a pity to lose him but he has been at this for four years.

The city’s political representation should first be taken out to the woodshed and then given something else to do.  Does the city have representation on the Animal Shelter?

Denise Walker is a sensible woman but the problems may be more than she wants to handle.  Ban and Elkaim are not people we know.

The PAC Board is looking for some new directors.  The call closes March 15th – slip over to their web site and learn more.  For the strangest of reasons the people who want the applications are using a gmail address – they have a web site, not sure why they aren’t using addresses with their domain name it it.  If you’re interested and think you can help: pop them a note at BPAC2013@gmail.com

Where is Keith Strong when he could really be useful?

The Performing Arts Centre is a vital part, probably the most vital part, of any vitalness that is going to take place in the downtown core.  They can, and are expected, to provide the energy that will have coat tails others can ride on.  This isn’t just about the PAC; this is about the strength of the commercial sector in the downtown core.

Councillor Taylor is right to insist that there be a review of the existing business plan.  Let’s see what he manages to get done in October.  Taylor is the chair of the Budget * Corporate Services committee and he’s not shy about expanding the mandate of his committee.


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Karmel Sakran, former provincial Liberal candidate, takes chair of Halton Learning Foundation

By Staff

BURLINGTON ON – Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) , the charitable foundation supporting students and schools within the Halton District School Board, has named Karmel Sakran, of Green Germann Sakran Law Offices, as Board Chair, replacing Jamie Schumacker, President of I’m Inspired, who has completed his term.

Karmel Sakran, chair of Halton Learning Foundation

New appointments to the HLF Board include Jim Collins, CFO & Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Oakville Hydro Corporation;  Carol D’Amelio, Community Member;  Peter Sarvos, Sales Manager – Global Sales, Outotec Shutdown Services ; and, Melissa Thompson, Investment Advisor & Financial Planner, RBC Wealth Management, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. .  These appointments took effect at the Halton Learning Foundation Annual General Meeting, held February 28, 2013.  The addition of the new Directors will further diversify the outstanding talents and wide-ranging experience of the Board.

Karmel Sakran, on the far right, is the newly appointed chair of the Halton Learning Foundation.

“Each year, Halton Learning Foundation provides emergency assistance to students-in-need through the Eliminating Barriers Fund, as well as in-school enrichment funding and scholarships – all in an effort to increase student engagement in school and to level the playing field for students region-wide.   Our Corporate and Individual donors have partnered with Halton Learning Foundation to improve the educational experience for all students, thus enabling Halton Learning Foundation to grant, to date, over $2.775 million to Halton District School Board  students and schools.”, explains Pat Wright, Executive Director, Halton Learning Foundation.

Karmel Sakran, the newly installed Board Chair and a former member of the Joseph Brant Hospital Board as well as the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election said: “The most important resource for our community is our youth.   The Halton Learning Foundation provides an essential building block to ensure that our children, particularly those in need, participate fully in the variety of learning opportunities existing in our schools. Healthy and strong children reflect well on our community.  I am very encouraged to see the tremendous support from our corporate and individual donors and look forward to my term as Board Chair as we continue our mission to make an even greater positive impact in the educational experience of Halton students.” 

The Halton Learning Foundation is the means for everyone in the community to support quality education for Halton District School Board students by providing emergency help for students in need, as well as providing enrichment funds and scholarships.


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Philanthropy is about more than writing big cheques; it is about taking the calls, attending the meetings and doing the work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. March 6, 2013   We are being asked to think hard about the kind of city we are and determine who the real leaders are.  The Clergy use the word ‘discern’ when they want to think deeply and make decisions that are not the simple everyday decisions we made.

The Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) is seeking nominations from Burlington residents for the 2012 Philanthropist of the Year. This is your opportunity to nominate a philanthropist who merits community-wide recognition for their contribution.

A philanthropist is a person who gives voluntarily to promote the common good. This person, or family, may give financial resources, time, expertise and/or products, and has likely given over a long period of time. This award offers the  community the chance to publicly honour and thank a noted philanthropist for their contribution both to Burlington and the wider community.

Most people probably see philanthropists as people with a lot of money who write big cheques The people the BCF are looking for are those who can write a cheque but more importantly can also show up for a meeting, spend the time needed to make something happen.

Is Burlington a city where many of the men and women in their late 40’s early 50’s could be seen as philanthropists?  Are we going to define ourselves as a city that understands what money can do but knows that hard work is what makes things happen.  Money alone will never make the difference.

The 2012 Philanthropist of the year will be the fourth that Burlington has chosen to recognize.  The first three, Don Smith, Kevin Brady and Doug Leggat were certainly well-known, successful  business people but more importantly they were known for the work they had done.  And for the personal experiences that shaped their lives.

Don Smith, 2009 Philanthropist of the Year

Were you to watch the video done on Don Smith you would see how hugely he was impacted by young boys in Sierra Leone who just wanted a soccer ball and the chance to play the game.  Don was taken aback by such a simple need; it was a transformative experience for him.  But he didn’t stop at that – he made phone calls and got colleagues to buy thousands of soccer balls and probably paid for many of them out of his own pocket.

Kevin Brady 2010 Philanthropist of the Year

Kevin Brady suffered a serious medical situation that left him with an appreciation for life he did not previously have – and he knew then that he was here to do more than make money.  Name the organization that has a need and Kevin Brady will have had his hand in it someway.  Sometimes these men write cheques but more often they show up at meetings and provide experience and energy to community problems.

Doug Leggat 2011 Philanthropist of the Year

Doug Leggat gets into his car, it is fitting to see the film footage of him driving around town,  – to the Nelson Youth Centres to help a needed community facility source the resources it needs.  Sure Doug can, and does write a cheque, but more importantly he is attending the meetings, making the phone calls and asking the questions.

Tom Dobbie, a former Burlington city manager who certainly understands the needs of the city serves as the President of the Burlington Community Foundation and will tell you that “it takes awhile to fully understand just where the needs are and then think about how they can be met.

The BCF holds an Annual Masquerade Ball where everyone has a lot of fun and it takes more than chump change to pay for the tickets.  The event produces the funds needed to cover the operating costs, the ticket price is $250.

There are two things to take away from this story.  Do you know of anyone who serves the community the way Don Smith, Kevin Brady and Doug Leggat have and do you see yourself as a philanthropist?  It isn’t just about money – it is about serving.  Listen to what past philanthropists have had to say about their experience – you might see philanthropy differently.

Giving, and these men do give, substantially.  They give of their time, their energy, their expertise and their experience.  All are successful business people, and several have known personal grief and harm.  They were down, they had been hurt but they struggled and recovered and know that they are here to serve and they do so day in and day out.

For a city the size of Burlington to have such depth in character; for a city this size with a rural background that can remember when the land around Dundas was orchards and Plains Road was a highway to somewhere and not the main street of a community.  They have been a part of the city’s growth, have prospered because of it but have never forgotten who they are and what they were fortunate enough to have given to them.  They have made giving back a part of the life they live each day – and ensured that their children grew to follow their lead.

Next October, the community will gather at the Convention Centre to celebrate and formally recognize the 2012 Philanthropist.  The event is called the Masquerade Ball and they do it up real fancy and use the event at the prime fund-raiser to cover the $200,000 operating budget for the BCF.

The funds that are raised to be used in the community are never touched for administrative purposes.  The BCF currently has $6.5 million in assets under administration.  They use the interest from those assets to met the needs of different community organizations.  The report setting out who they support is HERE

The nomination forms are HERE.

The deadline for nominations is March 15th: Nominations due at BCF by midnight. Please submit by mail, fax, email, or deliver in person.

Late March/April 2013:  Past BCF Philanthropists of the Year and BCF senior staff review nominations and select finalist.

May: BCF announces 2013 Philanthropist of the Year.

October 26th:  Award and honouring of Philanthropist of the Year at BCF Masquerade Ball.

If one were to be just a bit critical – positively critical, the same organizations are the beneficiaries of the philanthropic efforts.  The YMCA got mentioned by all three men nominated in the past (time for a woman to be nominated folks); everyone was involved in the hospital and the United Way.  Those are the core groups – there are literally hundreds of others that serve the community and at times need some help.

Later this year the community will nominate the next person to be recognized and honoured and then added to the list.  How many of these philanthropists do we have?  More than we imagine.  Appreciate those who have been recognized.

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New fire chief named; Bavota will lead the brigades and wrestle with the city for more funding.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2013  The city  has a new fire chief – Tony Bavota will take on the role of chief of the Burlington Fire Department, effective immediately.

Tony Bavota appointed Chief of the Burlington Fire department.

Bavota has been a deputy fire chief with the Fire Department since 2009 and is in his 18th year of employment with the City of Burlington.  His progressive responsibilities within the department include acting platoon chief, fire captain, acting captain, firefighter and infrastructure project manager. Bavota also gained extensive corporate experience while working in the city manager’s office on a job rotation as the assistant to the city manager.

Bavota is going to have to rely heavily on his city hall experience to get the fire fighters he feels he needs and to prepare Burlington for a different kind of preparation.  In the next five years the city will see a 22 storey structure on Lakeshore Road and, if the way the city manager is talking, we can expect to see more in the way of high-rise structures.

High rise buildings create different challenges for fire fighters. This multi-storey building on Maple was completed recently and the 22 storey development on Lakeshore Road mean different, expensive equipment and time to train the men who will man it.

The Strata on Maple Avenue is an example.   These buildings require different kinds of firefighting equipment – and the stuff isn’t cheap.  Then firefighters have to be trained in how to use the equipment.

Before joining the Burlington Fire Department, Bavota worked with the Guelph Police Service, as a constable and tactical response unit member.

Bavota earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario in 2011, and holds a diploma in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts-Economics Degree.

Acting Chief Dave Beatty will return to his role as deputy chief.  “We thank Acting Chief Beatty for his continued leadership. The fire department management team continues to work effectively together throughout the transition period and I sincerely appreciate their collective efforts,” said Phillips.

The fire department has a combined urban and rural area covering 189 square kilometres that has to be covered. They provide public education, fire prevention, suppression and emergency response in Burlington.  The Burlington Fire Department currently has 202 full-time staff and a complement of 65 volunteers serving the community.

The previous fire chief left the Burlington fire department for greener pastures where he didn’t have the ongoing battle with city council for the resources he felt he needed.

Firefighters in Ontario are exceptionally well-organized and aren’t shy about showing their muscle to make their point.  In the last provincial election they made it very clear they were supporting the government.  They have been known to attend city budget review meetings as a group and to attend at Council meetings sitting as a group in Council chambers. .


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Chilly Half Marathon floods the downtown core and brings traffic to a halt on Lakeshore Road.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 6, 2013.  It was close to perfect weather for a solid 5k run and Burlington was just the place to do it – along Lakeshore Road with either water on one side of the road or grand homes you could never afford to live in but are nice to look at on the other side.

The Chilly 5k is a commercial venture that brings 3500 + runners to the city.  They flood the downtown core and with the Performing Arts Centre open they had a place to store their gear while they ran.

Last year, when Mayor Goldring announced the start of the event he said in a rather grand voice that Burlington was the running capital of the province.

His statement was very close to the truth.  Burlington hosts the Chilly 5K and the Santa run.  Both draw thousands.  What kind of economic impact do these people have on the city?   Anyone driving through downtown Burlington Sunday afternoon would never have known there was a massive event earlier in the day – so it appears they don’t stay very long.  But while they are here – they take over the town.

Clearly an economic development opportunity here – if we could keep even a thousand of them in town for the balance of the day the merchants would feel the love as they say in the biz world.

Kune Hua, A cinema photographer with a sharp eye when looking through his lens and a fast hand in the editing room – expect to see more of his work in the city.

Kune Hua,  a cinema photographer with a very deft touch and an ability to catch the mood of an event.  He appears to have a fine eye and a very practiced hand in the editing room.  Hua, who has done some excellent work for the city in the past, decided he wanted to capture this event and spent the day out on the street with his camera.

This piece of film along with others he expect to be doing are being collected under his What’s Good in my Hood collection of videos that will be featured on Our Burlington and other platforms Hua is developing.

He is currently marketing his services to the commercial markets and has created a number of packages that fit different budgets and cinematic needs.  This is a fellow worth watching.  www.trueessencemedia.com

The race, more of a mixture of young people who really want to race and thousands of others who are out for the day.   While Lakeshore is a lovely location there are others in the city that are just as pleasant to use and less intrusive in terms of traffic flow. No word yet on just how much was raised for the Joseph Brant Hospital.


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Council member remuneration on the table – citizen’s committee will determine what pay rate should be for next term.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 5, 2012. Now that they have said they will pocket that “massive” pay increase – a miserable 1.5%,  your Significant Seven have buried themselves for half a day over at the Performing Arts Centre to focus on leadership and team decision-making case studies.

IF they are returned to office next municipal election they will each earn 1.5% more than they are earning now. But there is little certainty that all will be re-elected. Two might not choose to run again and two are on less than solid ground.

Good idea to meet at the PAC – they own the place and they just might have to evict their tenant if they can’t come up with a Business Plan that meets the needs of the council members who have to roll with the ire of their constituents over the revenue problems at the PAC

The Monday meeting at the PAC is one of the Quarterly Governance meetings – something this Council put in place when it got itself organized back in 2010.  It was a good idea then and it has become a very good idea now that there is a city manager who keeps reminding his employers that there is serious work to do on the governance side.

During the budget debates it became clear that there was serious discord with the Boards and the office of the city manager.  Jeff Fielding has to come up with the money the boards ask for, but appears to have little in the way of input with the boards as they put together their budgets.

Carrie Brooks- Joiner, former chair of the Library board,  told a council committee during a budget delegation that she was offended with the procedures followed in the creation and presentation of the libraries funding requirements.  City Manager Jeff Fielding agreed that there had been some communications problems.  Expect this problem to get resolved before the next budget comes up.

The Boards, Economic Development Corporation, the Library Board, the Burlington Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre along with the Museum Board eat up a significant amount of the tax revenue. Combined they consume $12 million + in taxpayer money.  The city manager would like to get a little closer to the way those funding requests are put together.

BurlingtonGreen gets funding as does the Sound of Music.  The Seniors’ Centre also gets funding as does the Burlington Teen Tour Band.

These are services the city provides and which most residents want to see in place,  but if it means a tax hike – well maybe the interest won’t be as high?  None of them generate revenue for the city and each has its own independent fund raising programs plus various fees and admission prices they might levy.

Our Burlington knew of the Monday Governance meeting and was preparing to attend when we learned it was a closed session which is permitted under the Municipal Act.  “The purpose of this meeting” said the notice on the city website “is for education and training and will be closed to the public in accordance with Sec. 239 (3.1) of the Municipal Act.”

The decision to close a meeting, as we understand it after talking to City Clerk Angela Morgan, is something the she can advise Council it can or cannot do.

The first part of the full  day session is to focus on leadership and team decision-making case studies that will be led by Gerard Seijts, Associate Professor, Ivey School of Business.

The afternoon Session focused on the way Council makes decisions.  It was facilitated by Linda Moore and Brad Quinn, a team that has done a lot of work with the city in the past.

The question that one wants to ask is:  Should the public have an opportunity to listen in on how city Council and senior staff go about making their decisions?     Is this meeting similar to the Pre-meets Burlington holds where decisions are made as to who will say what and when at council and council committee meetings?

It gets a little dodgy when the people who are spending public money want to close the doors and talk privately.  That isn’t to suggest for a moment that this Council is deliberate in wanting to keep information from the public but, the Mayor of this city has in the past decided,  on his own,  to not send media releases to Our Burlington because he didn’t like what we were saying.  He can do that if he wishes.  He did reverse the decision a day later.

There was a time when a very popular Mayor, Roly Bird, refused to talk to the reporter from the Spectator.  Politicians can do whatever they like – the one thing they must do every four years is face the people who put up the money that pays them to run the city.

During the budget debates the Budget and Corporate Services committee agreed to an increase of 1.5 percent in the remuneration for council members.  That increase however does not come into play until the next term of Council.

At the same meeting council decided to reconvene the Citizen Committee to review Council’s Compensation, Expense Limits and Staffing requirements.

The mandate of the committee would be to:

Set out recommendations for council member compensation.

What should be given in terms of expense allowances

What do they need in terms of staff and technical support.

Other matters including workload distribution and severance.

The committee will report to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee by October, 2013

The mandate sets out who is to be on that committee:  There are to be seven members on the committee with representation from the city’s bankers; someone from a local board; someone from one of the city advisory boards;  someone from the Chamber of Commerce; someone from community social services organization plus two Burlington resident – one each from north and south of the QEW.

People who served on the last committee that met in 2009 will be polled to see if they are interested in returning.  The city would like to see three or four of them return to provide continuity.

The city currently pays the Mayor $123,831 and gave him an expense allowance of $19,953.  The Mayor has in the past not spent all of his expense allocation.

Council members are paid a base of $53,214 and have an expense allowance of $9,000   Both the Mayor and Council members are paid by the Region for the time they spend there –  $ 45,827.  In addition Regional Councillors have an expense allowance of $5,130 per term.

The Mayor is also paid for meetings of the Hydro Board he attends as well as Hydro Committee meetings. He attends those meetings as Mayor; accepting payment is really “double dipping”.

During the beginning of this term of Council there were several deferrals of pay increases that had been approved by the Citizen’s Committee which was council reacting to public criticism.  Ideally the Citizen’s Committee will set the remuneration up in such a way that Council cannot defer

The Citizen’s Committee will, hopefully make use of the Citizen’s engagement Charter and meet with the public in each ward, without the presence of council members and explain the rationale behind their decision and then each year publish a public notice declaring that the raise in pay, if there is one, was determined by citizens.

Last time around council members didn’t have the courage to stand up behind the Citizen’s recommendation – they saw it as self-serving.  Spare them the opportunity to make themselves look both foolish and a little childish.

Most of these men and woman who you elected work hard.  If we want intelligent, educated people to lead us then we have to pay them accordingly.  You do get what you pay for.


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A bigger blue box – did a former Miss Canada jump out of one at the formal unveiling?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. March 4, 2013  Your tax dollars are hard at work – and you can now avail yourself of a larger Blue Box and there is more “stuff” that you can now put in that Blue Box.

Monday, April 1, 2013 (hold it – that’s April Fool’s day isn’t it – are they pulling a fast one on us?) will mark the start of new changes to Halton Region’s waste collection program, including larger Blue Boxes that will help residents recycle a number of new acceptable Blue Box materials.

The changes are part of the Region’s Solid Waste Management Strategy with a goal of  reaching  a 65%  residential waste diversion rate by 2016.

“Halton Region residents are already among the best in the province when it comes to participating in waste diversion programs like Blue Box recycling,” said Gary Carr, Halton Regional Chair. “Currently, 95 %  of single-family homes place a Blue Box out for collection every week.”

Members of Halton Regional Council show off new larger Blue Boxes available for pick up free of charge starting in March.

Effective Monday, April 1, 2013, Halton residents can add more items to their Blue Box, including clear plastic clamshells (e.g. berry and lettuce containers), single-serve yogurt cups, plastic plant pots and trays, empty metal paint cans (lids removed), and cardboard cans (e.g. frozen juice cans/chip cans). A complete list of new acceptable Blue Box items can be found at this web site.

You can use the print feature on this website to print out the list and put it  on the fridge.

To help manage these new materials, larger Blue Boxes (22-gallon capacity vs. 16-gallon) will be available to residents for pick up at eight different Blue Box Pick-up Events

Saturday, March 9th: 9-3 pm

Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary

School, 5150 Upper Middle Road, Burlington

 

 Mohawk Racetrack (Parking Lot)

9430 Guelph Line, Campbellville

 

Saturday, March 16th : 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Acton District High School, 21 Cedar Road, Acton

Halton Regional Centre, 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville

 

Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Burlington Closed Landfill, 291 North Service Road, Burlington

Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Road, Oakville

 

Saturday, March 30, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Robert C. Austin Operations Centre,

11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown

Milton GO Station, 780 Main Street East, Milton

 

Starting March 11, 2013

Halton Regional Centre    1151 Bronte Road, Oakville, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Halton Waste Management Site (Scalehouse), 5400 Regional Road 25, Milton, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Robert C. Austin Operations Centre            11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown,  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Residents can also continue to use their existing Blue Boxes.


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Computer fraud is rampant – people will call you and offer to fix a problem with your computer – they are after your money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 5, 2013  There isn’t one of us that doesn’t find at some time that their computer isn’t doing what we wanted it to do and we are flummoxed in figuring out what has gone wrong.  So when someone calls saying they can help – all caution gets set aside and we eagerly answer the questions we are asked by the person who called.

We don’t ask – how does this person know I am having a problem with my computer?   As soon as you have answered the first two questions – they have you.  All that isn’t known is how far they are going to take you and how much of  your money they are going to end up with.  They are not going to fix anything on your computer but, according to the Regional Police they are probably going to install a virus on your computer and then try to convince you to pay them to remove that virus.

The best protection available is you asking questions.

March is Fraud Awareness Month – use the time to think about who you let near your computer.  If you don’t personally know the person calling – hang up.

The Halton Regional Police are warning  the public to be suspicious of any calls they receive from people claiming to be employed by a computer company that has become aware of a problem with your computer – they will tell you it is infected with as virus they can remove.

This is known as the “Anti-Virus Scam” which has been around for several years.  Between March 1st 2011 and August 31st 2012, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 13,842 complaints of this type with a total dollar loss of $814,511.00.  In most cases, these calls are originating from call centers based outside of Canada.

As part of this scam, the call recipient would be instructed to do a series of keyboard commands that would allow the caller to remotely access the computer over the internet and actually install the “virus” to make the computer appear to be infected.  The caller would then remove the “virus” and request credit card payment anywhere between $35.00 and $469.00 for their services.

In some instances, the same person will call back and report that the version of the security software has expired and request an additional $100.00 to have it re-activated.  They got you once and they figure they can get you a second time.

If you receive an unsolicited call from people telling you that your computer is infected with a virus or that your version of security software is inactive or invalid, you are urged to hang up – this is someone wanting to defraud you of money to fix a problem they may have created.

If you don’t know them – don’t deal with them.

Allowing a third-party, someone you don’t really know, to remotely access your computer, puts you at considerable risk.  They can install software that logs every keystroke you make and capture sensitive data , such as online banking user names and passwords, bank account information and other information to steal your identity.

Police are also reminding the public to be very careful about providing credit card and/or banking information to anyone over the phone and internet, especially in cases where the call was unsolicited.

March is Fraud Awareness Month.  Police ask you to please take the time to educate yourself, your family and your friends on how not to become victims of Fraud.  For further information, please visit www.haltonpolice.ca or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.


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Giving it your best shot takes on a whole new meaning for the ONE event being held for Breast Cancer Support Services.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 4, 2013   Here’s a different one for you.  A group is putting on an event for a local charity,  Breast Cancer Support Services.  The city certainly has its share of charity events.

But this one is different with a unique angle.

Kimberly Neale, a young go-getter we met some time back, had created a service for people with more money than time.  She called her business “I’m On It” and was available to do things that called for promptness and quick thinking.

We got this media release from her yesterday.  What the group she is part of has come up with is a photo session that has a local model posing for 12 different photographers.  The concept came from Derrick Van Der Kolk  who pulled together a group of photographers who would be given a camera, a roll of colour film, a couple of props and a model to photograph.  The photographers would all use the same studio and have one hour to complete their shoot.

A simple naturally lit setting for the twelve photographers taking part in the ONE event. The setting along with a pink boa, a pink mask and a pink scarf was all each photographer had to work with. They all had to use the Hasselblad camera with Fuji colour film that will be developed and mounted by a professional film processing company.

The camera – a Hasselblad – not too shabby – and 120 Fuji Colour film with an ISO of 400 would be used in the warehouse space using the same the same props: a pink boa, a mask and a pink ribbon.

That’s it.  There is also a make-up artist,  Courtney Nevins available to the photographers.

The studio space they used offered some interesting lighting opportunities.  It sounded interesting.

“I hope this email finds you well” said Kimberly Neale in the email she sent us. “I wanted to let you know about a unique charity event taking place at Spencer’s at the Waterfront in Burlington March 28th to help support Breast Cancer Support Services.  Now the relevance of the pink scarf became evident.

We gave Kimberly as call and learned more.  The 12 photographers were chosen a couple of months ago by Derrick Van Der Kolk .

The photographers were given the film and camera – Fuji Colour film (ISO400) – that’s about all there is in terms of colour film – yes film – not digital.  Kodachrome  bit the dust about a year ago.

Each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased, displayed and will appear anonymous at the Gala event March 28th at Spencer’s on the Waterfront.  Each photograph will be framed in the same manner.  The film will be processed with no retouching and of course no Photo Shopping – this is real film, the old stuff, the original stuff.  The photographers will use 120 film – didn’t know they still made the stuff.

Each print will be blown up to 36 x 36 inches and then framed.

The prints will be judged and then sold at the March 28th event.

ONE will feature the creative talent of 12 photographers and showcase the artistry of film photography while raising funds for an amazing, local charity.

The showing of the photographs is the culmination of the event.   At the final event on March 28, 2013, at Spencer’s, where each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased and displayed. Photo Media Décor is doing the framing with World of Lighting  putting just the right amount of spotlights on the pictures to show them all at their very best once they are hung. The photographs will not have the names of the photographers on them.  Three judges will then declare the winning photo. Traditional film photography will be used and photos will not be altered after the development process.  Film processing is being done by  Duncan & Wright.  At the conclusion of the voting, the winner is announced and a silent auction will be held for each photo with all the money raised going to Breast Cancer Support Services.

This is a ONE of a kind event taking place in a beautiful location, featuring the artistic abilities of talented, local photographers!

Kimberly tells, in a breathless voice that their “Facebook page has reached 78,463 people in just ONE month and we continue to see this number rise.”

Almost too much – but it in an interesting take on modern photography.

The idea came out of three minds that managed to meet. Derrick Van Der Kolk came up with the concept and recruited Neale and Chris Sakai (Sakai Promotions) to assist with organizing, hosting and promoting the event.

ONE was created to bring the true art of true photography back in to the forefront.  As a talented and  passionate photographer, Derrick wanted to give photographers a platform / competition where the true skills that a group of photographers could be challenged.

The twelve chosen include both professionals and amateurs and one as young as fourteen.

“Van Der Kolk had the idea but he needed help in promoting and getting it to actually happen. He approached us with his idea and how to bring this to life.  The three of us saw an incredible opportunity to tie it all together; creative art (showing local talent), local charity and an opportunity to showcase / promote local businesses – community, art and business all in one location”, says Kimberly. The venue, the Discovery room at Spencer’s, is as good as it  gets. The Killin’ Time Band playing an acoustic set will be there as well!

Tickets are only $25.00 online / $30.00 at the door and can be purchased on the website or by emailing ONEphotographyandcharityevent@gmail.com


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Tear down city hall – and the Arts Centre while you’re at it? Who said Burlington was called Borington?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 4, 2013  This stuff is as dry as toast and watching paint dry is more exciting BUT, it is the stuff that is going to result in the foundation your city gets built on.

In Burlington, the Capital Budget is a ten-year rolling document.  They plan ten years out and advance the decisions  each year.  This year there are so many things in a state of flux that the city manager advised Council he will want to re-state the Capital Budget very soon.  The intention is to align the Capital Budget with the Strategic Plan.  Burlington now has a thoroughly thought out Strategic Plan that came out of more than five days of meetings spread out over a three-month time frame.  It was what council and staffs were able to do at the time – the city might be ready for a review of that plan – perhaps in the next term of council.

So- what is it that’s on the table from a Capital spending point of view for the city in 2013?

Well the Tyandaga Golf course is not seen as a revenue generator for the city and the land could, some think, be put to better use.  The city manager isn’t prepared to stake his reputation on these numbers but he thinks the club needs 23,000 new people every year to replace those that don’t return.  He adds to that,  the view of many golfers – that the club just doesn’t cut it as a fine place to play the game.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven argues that the place could be managed better and they could think in terms of recreational uses during the winter months – like allowing cross-country skiing and maybe even an outdoor skating rink.  So – what does one do with that land?  Just asking was what we thought we heard the city manager saying.

Will we see additions made to city hall or will the site be sold to a developer – or perhaps the building could be torn down and turned into a parking lot?

City Hall is getting a very close look.  The city currently rents space in the Simms building directly across the street from city hall and that lease is up in 2016.  Legal and Finance are in the Simms building and it is not uncommon to see staff walking across Elgin Street with their arms full of documents.  Some are advocating for putting additional space on top of what already exists at city hall, while others think selling the building and putting up a brand new city hall is the better direction to go in.

When the suggestion about doing something with the city hall was put out, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven immediately suggested that Aldershot would be an ideal place for a stunning building.  Has he put a feeler out to the Paletta’s?

The sense was that if a new city hall were to be built it should be in the downtown core but no one identified what the boundaries of that core would be.  There is the space in the parking lot four between John and Elizabeth Streets that the city has been hankering to do something with for some time.

Here’s a WOW for you. Tear down the parking lot, put up a condo – then tear down city hall and build the parking lot on Brant at Elgin. Put commercial space at the ground level. Where would city hall go? Over on parking lot # 4 om John Street. – and while you’re at it put the Burlington Arts Centre in the same building as well. The capital budget meeting at which ideas like this got tossed around was quite the meeting. Is Burlington ready for this kind of growth?

Now try this idea on for size.  One of the city’s general managers asked: Why do I park my car in a building that is close to overlooking the lake.  The parking lot on Locust Street immediately south of the Performing Arts Centre is on pretty prime property.  What if that parking lot structure were torn down (yes it is fairly new) and the land sold to a developer for another condo much like the others spread out along Lakeshore Road?  Great views of the pier and Spencer Smith Park from that location.

Then tear down the city hall building and put the parking lot in that location.  What would the net cost be?   Councillor Dennison pointed out that what the city has spent in rent could have paid for an addition to city hall. The city needs more space for its staff who are currently in two buildings on opposite sides of  Elgin Street.

Whatever is built on that lot would be a multi storey building – think maybe 10 to 12 stories and could house the Burlington Art Centre collection on two – maybe three floors.  The ground floor would have all kinds of open space with the different guilds working away at their crafts that the public could look in on.  The world-class collection of Canadian ceramics could be on display and visible to the public.  They are currently in cardboard cartons in a storage vault.

The land the Burlington Art Centre is located on – Lakeshore Road across from Spencer’s on the Lake would be sold and have condo sites on it.  That BAC lot is very, very deep – something exceptional could be built on that property.

The Burlington Art Centre sits on some prime lakefront property.  The land is said to be worth $6 million and the Centre needs more space for its ceramics collection.  Maybe there is a better place for the BAC?  Perhaps in a new city hall built on parking lot #4 on John Street?

The BAC needs more than $4 million in upgrades to get their  structure and  HVAC up to scratch.  Some thought there was merit in selling the current BAC property, said to be worth $6 million for the land alone, and moving the Art Centre to a building that will go up on that parking lot everyone has eyes on but no one wants to invest in.

There were some pretty heavy ideas floating around. It got better.  The city manager has noticed that the Hydro property on Brant near Upper Middle Road is a large piece of land that, to use the language of planners, is under-utilized. It is much bigger than Hydro will ever use – there are ideas floating about as to how that property might be put to better use.

The city is about to take a closer look at what it wants to do with the Beachway part of the city.  The first steps in that process are finding an entrepreneur who wants to put something commercial in the old Pump House.  One young lady delegated to a council committee meeting and said she wanted to talk to the city about using the space to rent bicycles and paddle boats to people during the summer season.  If she adds a patio where Councillor Dennison could enjoy a glass of wine she’s got his vote.

The sign is the brightest thing about the shopping plaza.

The Skyway Arena in the east end has just a single ice pad which isn’t seen as very efficient. When this came up during the capital budget discussions the city manager asked how much tolerance the city had for risk and would Council give any thought to considering the idea of trying to make something out of a possible combination of the arena property, the library that is currently using rented space on Fairview and attempting to work out something with the owner of the Lakeshore Plaza that is in dismal shape?

No sooner were the words out of the mouth of the city manager and Councillor Sharman piped in with: “Consider it done and that resulted in a staff direction on which council can expect there to be a lot of push back from the residents of the community.

The Lakeshore Plaza is a bit of a dump with almost as many “For Rent” signs as there are actual occupants.  The Swiss Chalet is closed.  The theatre and bowling alley haven’t been used for years and the place has that sad, run down look about it.

A too small to be economically viable – the Skyway Arena is getting a close look from the ‘bean counters’ at city hall.  The city manager thinks there are some development opportunities.  The local community wants to be at the table if there are any deals made.  Could get interesting.

The Skyway Arena sits at the back of the plaza property – which is what got the city manager to thinking – what if the city made its property available to a developer and asked anyone interested to come up with some ideas.

Combining the Arena space and the Lakeshore Plaza properties would create a very enticing development opportunity.  The Skyway rink is currently a single pad which the city finds very expensive to maintain.  Two pads are much more economical.

Were a developer to come up with some housing ideas that would accommodate families – the city could create a community out there that would anchor the east end of the city, create a new community that would have access to the arena, that could be enlarged – add to that the immediate access to Burloak Park – and there would appear to be a win-win situation for everyone.

Save the Skyway arena didn’t lose any time getting the word out and making sure city hall knew who they were.  Is their Ward Council member aware of the group?

During the discussion Councillor Taylor, whose turf is in the north-west part of the city, piped in and suggested to his fellow council members that the community needed to be included in all this grand plan thinking.  That point seemed to have gotten lost.

It didn’t take long for the residents of the community to stand up on their hind legs and begin to bark.  Before you could say “Bob’s your uncle”, a group had a web site up with a headline saying  “Because Burlington City Hall doesn’t listen to its residents” .

So, while the capital budget itself is a pretty dry document consisting of how much gets spend on roads and then which roads, and then how many buses does the city buy and what size of bus – some of these decisions are for something that is going to happen eight years out.  Difficult to get people excited about what is going to get done that far out into the future.

What all this is leading to is a much more entrepreneurial look at the way the city develops its capital spending.  Those longer term spending decisions determine the shape of the community we get to live in.

Way back in 1985 city council approved a development on Lakeshore Road that is only now at the early stage of actual construction.  That decision approved a structure that will reach 22 storey’s into the sky line – something few people in this city fully appreciate.  Will it loom over everything or will it add to the skyline.  When the debates were taking place back in 1985 it was seen as a “landmark” building – will the community see it that way when it opens?

In her last delegation to city council the late Jane Irwin reminded them that many called the place BORINGTON.  That just might be about to change.

 

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Fifteen Burlington businesses are finalists in Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award

By Walter Byj

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 3, 2013.  How often do we drive by a business in the city and wonder:  what exactly does that company make or what services does that business offer?  We all know what products Ford makes and many in Burlington will know who Fearmans is; but what about the 100s of smaller industries that are spread throughout the city that contribute to the growth and sustainability of this city?  Are there companies you didn’t  know about who provide a service you can use?

Burlington has companies that employ hundreds of people. Each year the Burlington Chamber of Commerce   invite the public to nominate companies that they deem to be the best  in one of five categories.

The Chamber then gives those nominated to a committee that interviews and determines which is the best of those nominated.

The 2013 winners of the Business Excellence Award for each category will be announced at the upcoming Chamber Business Awards gala to be held on April 11th.

There are five categories:  Manufacturer, Retail/Wholesale, Service (Small), Service (Large) and Employer of The Year.

Following is a brief description of each of the finalists in each category.  How many do you recognise?

Manufacturers

Apex Composites Inc.  This manufacturing company located on John Lucas Drive in Northeast Burlington, originated in 2002 as a supplier and repair facility for race cars. However, like most progressive companies, they set their goals higher and along with highly trained personnel and sophisticated equipment, they now participate in parts manufacturing in the highly sophisticated aerospace and defence industry. The ability to meet the demands of their customers, should bode well for this company in the future.

Battlefield Graphics.  Established 1964 in Stoney Creek , this commercial printing company moved to its current location on Harvester Road in 1988.  Privately owned by the Theoret family, Battlefield Graphics, with a current staff of 85 people, has not only expanded over the years but has continually updated its presses so that it can meet the requirements and demands of its North American customers.  You may be familiar with some of their work as they produce the GM car catalogue and are a supplier for in-store signage at Wal-Mart.  Combining a strong sense of service along with the most up to date technology, this company has plans beyond North America as they strive to be a global player.

Marshield Radiation Protection & Storage Units  Many of us have benefitted from at least one of their products whenever we are seated in a dentist’s chair; the  dental apron is just one of their many products. Located on Morris Drive and established in 1979, the company is a division of Mars Metal Company.  Their products are also used in the nuclear industry not only in North America, but also for selected international accounts.

Shipway Quality Stairs & Railings.  Established in 1980 and located on Ironstone Drive, this company has become one of the premier staircase and rail makers not only in Ontario, but also throughout North America. With over 100 employees (craftsmen), this company is synonymous with quality and customer service which has enabled it to earn a strong reputation in the designing and building of stairs and rails.

Retail/Wholesale

Frid & Russell Business Products.  Filling business supplies needs since 1947, this Canadian office supplies company located on Ironstone Drive has become the largest independent office supply company in Southwest Ontario. Serving an area from Toronto to Kitchener to Hamilton this founding member of Office Plus has maintained their market dominance through a focus on competitive pricing and strong customer service.

UPS Store # 89  Located on Fairview Drive, this independently owned franchise is geared to serve small businesses. As the name suggests this outlet is equipped to package and ship parcels worldwide. In addition, they offer digital print and copy services along with a mailbox service.

Throat Threads Apparel  Originating as a tie company by Russ Fearon in 1993, this company has grown exponentially over the past number of years. Located on Plains Road East in a large century building, this company has yearly gained distribution rights for a number of highly recognizable international brands in such categories as men’s sportswear, dress shirts, belts, women’s wear and footwear. Some of their better known brands are Ping, Tommy Hilfiger and Swiss Army brands. Using strong sales and marketing skills, their products are located in a vast array of retail stores in Canada.

Service(Small)

AIS Solutions  Offering expert financial advice, this company, located on the South Service Road, is ideal for those small businesses that required financial solutions but are not large enough to maintain their own staff.  By outsourcing their accounting or bookkeeping requirements to the AIS  Solutions team, smaller business will receive expert advice and solutions to a number of business requirements at a very reasonable cost.

Pat’s Party Rentals  Providing the necessary accoutrements for a large variety of social gatherings such as weddings, corporate events, fund-raising or trade shows has been the goal of this company for over 25 years. Established in 1987 and recently consolidating two locations into one larger facility on North Service Road, they provide not only the product required but also help with planning ideas.

Seferian Design Group  How often do we observe a nicely landscaped area and wonder who was responsible for this island of beauty?  Well, it just might be the Seferian Design Group. Established in 1992 and with a client list of well over 100, this landscape architecture and design firm has been beautifying residential, commercial and industrial areas throughout the golden horseshoe and beyond. Located on Ontario Street, this firm is the recipient of many awards.

Service(Large)

Ampersand Group  Located on Billings Court, this hospitality focussed company offers, through its numerous divisions, expertise to clients in the hospitality business. Their services range from consulting and implementing unique restaurant experiences to software that enables a restaurateur to better track and record many aspects of their business.. Some of the Burlington restaurants Ampersand works with are The Dickens and The Rude Native and Prime Rib.  They also provide catering services at the Burlington Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre.

Neelands Refrigeration Limited  We may take the refrigeration sections in our grocery store for granted but not so for Neelands. In operation since 1958 and located on Palladium Way in North Burlington, this distributor of a number refrigeration companies, helps in the design, location and logistics of a variety of refrigeration units within a store.  The ability to provide a full service menu to their customers has enabled this company to be highly respected in their field.

The Idea Factor Inc.  Highlighting and  promoting  their clients to potential and existing accounts is the target of this firm that is located on the North Service Road . The use of telemarketing, direct mail or other unique avenues helps in reaching out on behalf of their accounts for new customers. Representing accounts in both Canada and the U.S., their unique and innovative methods has enabled them to be in business for over 25 years.

 Employer of the Year

In 2012 the Chamber felt it was time for Burlington to recognize an Employer of the year.  This year two companies were nominated.

O.C. Tanner Recognition Company Ltd  To help motivate and then recognize the efforts of employees is the target of this firm that is located on Fairview Drive. In Canada since 1982, they work with a large number of employers in developing incentive packages that set targets and respective awards for their employees.

Thrillworks Inc.  Recognizing the growing influence of the internet and importance of a powerful web page was the genesis of this company located on the South Service Road.  Using a five step approach, they offer a one stop all service package for all of their clients. Some of their better known accounts are Tim Hortons, Pet Valu and Petro Canada.

There you have it – the fifteen companies that were nominated by their peers and will now go through a rigorous vetting procedure that is kept very confidential until the night of the awards.

 

 

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Forget the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised you – put up the big bucks and have your name in lights in Alton Village for-ever.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 2, 2013  Burlington, Ont., March 1, 2013 – The City of Burlington is looking for sponsors and a name for the new recreation facility in Alton, opening this fall. The new facility will support Burlington’s sports community and will be a destination for regional and provincial sports tournaments and events.

A sponsorship package for the naming rights to the facility and the amenities inside is now available to the community and businesses.

The Library Board now has the funding for the staff to work the new Library – now to buy the books, train the staff and get ready for the Grand Opening.  Will there be a “get it all done at once” opening or will there be three different events?  What do you think – can those politicians turn down a chance to mug for the media?

To assist in the development of the naming and sponsorship program, the city worked with a consultant and conducted a national assessment of municipal naming rights practices. The research indicated that more than 60 per cent of 41 municipalities surveyed were actively involved in seeking naming rights sponsors.

“Like many other cities across Canada, the City of Burlington is looking at sponsorship as a viable way of reducing a potential burden on the tax base by generating new funds to help with the future repair and renewal of facilities,” said Rob Axiak, manager of recreation services.

The concept of sponsorship and naming rights is not new to the city.

“We have several city facilities that carry the names of community sponsors such as the Dofasco Waterjet at the Waterfront, Paletta Mansion and various rooms inside Tansley Woods Community Centre to name a few,” said Axiak.

The new recreation facility in Alton includes 53,886 square feet (5,006 square metres) of space and is connected to a new high school and public library branch. The high school and library will be pursuing naming options separately.

All it needs now is some landscaping and a name that someone with a ton of money and a hankering to have their name in lights and the place will be ready for the public. This fall is the planned opening date.

Background:  Located on the north side of Dundas Street, east of Walker’s Line beside Norton Community Park, the Alton facility is equipped with amenities to support basketball, volleyball, badminton and disabled sports tournaments and other sporting events.

The recreation facility boasts four 40-metre-high competitive-size gymnasiums, change rooms, two multi-purpose rooms, a meeting room and an indoor sports square designed for award ceremonies.  This unique facility is fully accessible for athletes and spectators with disabilities and is the only facility with eight competition-sized double gyms west of Toronto in the Greater Toronto Area.

The high school, with a classroom capacity for 1,200 students, is equipped with four 38 metre-high, competitive-sized gymnasiums, a 200-seat auditorium, art rooms, an illuminated artificial sports field and an eight-lane running track.

The Burlington Public Library branch will combine with the school board’s library to create a joint, integrated library that serves both students and the community. The library’s design provides for multi-generational use and includes flexible space that will take full advantage of new and emerging information technology.

Now that the Library Board has their funding for staff – can you imagine – there were people thinking that the library didn’t need new money to pay for the seven new people needed for the new facility – maybe it could sponsor a search for a new name and then work with the community to find a sponsor.


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Friends of Freeman station get an adjustment – they would like you to tie one on as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  The Committee of Adjustment approved several variances for the Ashland property on Fairview Street next to the central fire station, which will allow Friends of Freeman Station to move the historic station there this spring.

The variances were to allow: a one-storey building on a property zoned for a minimum of two storeys; a larger setback from the street; a smaller floor ratio; six parking spaces rather than one per four person capacity; no landscaping abutting the street; and parking access via the fire station entrance.

Peter Thoem, a former Ward 2 council member and now in what defeated council members call heaven – Committee of Adjustment to the rest of us, was heard to have said “there is a lot of my blood in that station” as he voted to approve the small adjustments the FoFS were seeking.

The decision clears the way for Friends of Freeman Station (FOFS) to apply for a building permit.  In the meantime plans are underway to stabilize the station at its current location prior to a spring move. Architectural and engineering drawings are almost completed and will be submitted to the City for approval before work begins.

Part of the crew that got the Freeman Station to the point where they can now apply for their building permit and then move the structure to what will be its new home for the next half-dozen years or so. John Mellow, shown here talking to the Mayor.  On the far right Reg Cooke.  In between is Ron Steiginga , the man at city hall who stick handled all the paper work between the city and a multinational corporation located in Burlington that owns the land.

“We’ve been successful in getting the approval for the variances in large part thanks to the many hours volunteered by Mr. Tony Millington of Millington Associates, planning consultant,” said James Smith, FOFS President. “Without Tony’s participation we would still be wading through the approval process. Many other volunteers have helped manoeuvre our process through the hoops, notably Vice President Brian Aasgaard and Restoration Chair John Mellow. We are also grateful to all the City staff who guided us through the process. This brings moving and restoring Freeman Station that much closer to reality, ” said Smith

This certificate will show that you helped move the Freeman Station – six feet at a time – to its new location.

Community members who would like to contribute to the move can now have an opportunity to take part in a unique way.  For the princely sum of $20 you can help move the station 6 inches?  Why six inches?  That is the distance between two railway ties.

Annual memberships are available for $10 and include a souvenir train ticket membership card. Those who have purchased a membership in the past are encouraged to renew for 2013 – this year will be a big year for the station!

Cheques can be mailed to The Friends of Freeman Station, 3023 New Street, P.O. Box 91536, Roseland Plaza, Burlington, ON, L7R 4L6


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Questions raised over how Mayor funds events; council needs to provide him with some clarification.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  Mayor Goldring has done something Burlington hasn’t seen for some time and that is the Inspire Series he has sponsored for the past two years.

This city has had an opportunity to listen to nationally respected speakers who have talked to residents about health issues (Andre Picard) and what hospitals of the future will need to do; planning (Ken Greenberg) and how developers can work with communities to plan the kind of growth everyone wants.

The most recent speaker, Pamela Blais filled the Studio Theatre at the Performing Arts Centre last night.  These events were part of the platform the Mayor got himself elected on and he has certainly delivered.

Focused and direct is probably the best description one could apply to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Then some questions were raised by other council members as to how all this was being paid for.  It’s not quite sure where this issue was raised, it certainly didn’t come up at a council committee meeting.  It was done behind closed doors somewhere.  We do know that it was raised by Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Burlington’s Mayor thinks through what he does and chooses to err on the side of caution. Polite and as straight as they come – he will seek direction when he feels he needs it. On his sponsorship he needs and should expect some comment from his council members.

The Mayor, quite correctly, decided to get in front of this parade, and tell the public how the events were paid for,  He produced an exceptionally detailed report setting out his “level of participation, the funds raised and their intended purpose.” This is exactly what a public official is supposed to do.

Here is part of what he released in the way of information and data.

The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC ) has developed a number of events as part of their program to generate net revenue that is used exclusively by BEDC to cover the costs of their operating and marketing activities as well as provide networking, educational and industry resources to the business community. These activities align with the Strategic Plan direction of Prosperity.

Included are a four – part luncheon series and a golf tournament. These latter two events have been operating for several years, with the use of the title “Mayor” in the description of the events, and have had participation from the two past mayors  as well as myself.

The summary of revenue and expenses for the noted activities are shown below, along with a summary of the use of funds. The 2011 figures are taken from BEDC’s audited financial statements that are submitted to the City each year.

The 2012 figures are based on their preliminary year-end statements that will be audited in March 2013

BEDC Luncheon Series (Four events annually)

In additional to operating and marketing activities, funds were used for the “Cost of Doing Business Downtown Study” , Waterdown – Plains Development Concept .-2012

2012 Revenue Raised: $74,630

2012 Activity Costs:$39,372

Net revenue: $35,258

 In additional to operating and marketing activities, funds were used for redesigning the

Website.

 2011 Revenue Raised: $107,350

2011 Activity Costs:$57,958

Net revenue: $49,392

 BEDC Golf Tournament The Mayor’s Annual Golf Classic was initiated by a former Mayor in 2005 to support funding for BEDC’s economic development programs and scholarship funds.

These scholarships are presented in partnership with the Burlington Community Foundation, McMaster University, Mohawk College, The Centre for Skills Development & Training and CIBC, to Burlington post – secondary students for academic excellence and to assist with continuing their academic studies.

For both 2011 and 2012, eleven students received scholarships.

2011 Revenue $103,455

2011 Activity Expense $47,093

2011 Net Revenue $ 56,361

 2012 Revenue Raised: $102,030

2012 Activity Costs: $42,081

2012 Net revenue: $59,949

The Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) Masquerade Ball

Purpose: This fundraising event, formally known as The Mayor’s Gala, is used to raise money for BCF operations and special projects.  The BCF Board of Directors assumed total responsibility for this fundraising gala in 2010 and ran the first Masquerade Ball in October 2010 with no input from the Mayor at the time.

The sponsorship funds raised were sought by a sponsorship sub-committee at the Burlington Community Foundation. In 2011 and 2012, I supported the events as the Honourary Chair, signing sponsorship request letters and providing minimal sponsorship assistance through phone calls.

A portion of the net proceeds were allocated as follows:-

2011: $25,000 to assist in the launch of a graduate internship program which became innovateBurlington, facilitated through the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.

2012: $25,000 to create an opportunity fund administered by the Burlington Community Foundation to support graduating secondary school students in their career – focused endeavours, providing successful applicants with opportunities that otherwise may not be made available to them. The fund has an initial focus on youth from lower income backgrounds who may be receiving social assistance and/or living in subsidized housing.

The Mayor’s Inspire Burlington Speakers Series

Purpose: Provide opportunities for Burlington residents to attend, free of charge, educational speaking engagements that feature guest speakers presenting on a variety of subjects that are of interest and relevant to residents and to the City’s Strategic Plan directions: Vibrant Neighbourhoods, Prosperity and Excellence in Governance.

Funding: Corporate sponsorship has been sought to cover the costs associated with running these events: speakers’ fees , transportation and travel, venue rentals, AV requirements.  Additional in-kind sponsorship is provided by local media for advertising and promotion of events; estimated at $7,500 per year.

All events are cost-recovery and no revenue income is generated. Any net loss is covered through the Mayor’s discretionary budget for Special Projects.  These are not charitable events. Thank yous and corporate logo recognition is provided to the sponsors and no charitable receipts were issued.

One Dream Workshop

Purpose: To bring a group of community leaders together that represent a broad spectrum of the community with the goal of defining an over-arching dream for the community that aligns with the existing Strategic Plan – Burlington Our Future. An outside consultant was engaged to facilitate this workshop which was held at the Royal Botanical Gardens over a three – day period in November 2012.

Sponsorship funds were raised to cover the costs of the facilitator, venue and workshop expenses.

Funds were provided by 11 local corporations.  These sponsors will be acknowledged as supporters of the Inspire Burlington Speakers Series for 2013.

Any net loss is covered through the Mayor’s discretionary budget for Special Projects.  These are not charitable events. Thank you letters and corporate logo recognition is provided with Inspire Burlington to the sponsors and no charitable receipts were issued.

Inspire Burlington One Dream Workshop

Venue rental: RBG $5,169.01

Consultants’ Fees: The Secretan Centre* $50,880.00

Consultants travel expenses $555.73

Workshop materials $61.06

Pre-meeting with facilitator $280.81

Post-meeting with participants $660.58

Total $57,607.19

Editors note: $5000 to use RBG facilities sounds a little steep.

Sponsorship

Burlington Electricity Services Inc. $2,500.00; Union Gas $5,000.00; Pioneer Petroleum $5,000; Molinaro Group $5,000; Emshih Developments; $5,000; Brady Benefits, $5,000; SB Partners, $5,000; AXYZ Automation, $5,000; StressCrete, $5,000; KPMG, $5,000; L3 Wescam, $5,000 and  Cogeco, $5,000 for a sponsorship total $57,5000

The loss on the event was $107.19

The problem in the mind of at least one council membership was the appropriateness of asking for sponsorship funds from a corporation that is owned by the city – Burlington Electricity  Services.   Less problematic is the $5000 given by AXYZ Automation.  The president of that organization is the President of the Economic Development Corporation that is currently being reviewed by city council and asked to take a significantly different approach to the way they do business.

While Burlington is in love with how polite it is there are times when a strong point of view has to be put forward and that’s a little difficult to do when the guy you’re frowning at put up five big ones for your pet project.

What the Mayor did with his report to Council is exactly what he should have done.  It is now up to Council to have a debate on what a Mayor should do.  Burlington doesn’t want the mess Toronto has dealt with in the past three months.

While still a little wooden in his public performances the city’s Mayor preps himself and looks to his staff for support.  Is he getting what he needs?

Unfortunately your city Council voted to file and receive the Mayor’s report and you wouldn’t’ have heard a word about it had we not published the details.  Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward did comment on the Mayor’s report in her Newsletter.

This is an important issue.  Influence is sometimes more valuable than cash and the Mayor, by xx of his office, is in influential guy.

Rick Goldring never wants to tarnish that reputation.  Council needs to openly discuss his report and provide him with some guidance.

Councillor Craven put it very well when he said: “we don’t want a return to a period of time when a Mayor used his fund-raising ability to do so for purely political purposes.

Rick Goldring  sponsors the Inspire Series because he thinks it is good for the city.  If showing what kind of a Mayor you are is political – we say – bring on more of this kind of stuff.

This item will get all of two seconds at Council on March 19th – still time for someone to delegate and suggest this issue be given more air.

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Is there a “bigger picture” to the 2013 budget? What did council get done? They brought BPAC to heal.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 1, 2013  What does the budget Burlington’s city council, sitting in committee, tell us?

Well, it looks as if we are now in show business and that transit is getting a boost. Those are the immediate impacts.  Longer term we have at least done something to bring a new focus and hopefully some hustle to the economic development side of the way this city is going to grow.

The show business part of the spend the city did, relates to the amount of money being put into the Performing Arts Centre and the Burlington Art Centre.  Neither of these in themselves are going to produce any revenue – both will be a constant draw on the public purse.

What the city has to do is ensure that both are vibrant enough to draw the audiences they need and that the spin-off from each provides the economic activity that will result in a more robust downtown.

While that might seem obvious on the surface – it hasn’t been clear to the Performing Arts management team, who, knowing they were going hat in hand to city council weren’t able to get useful data into their hands until Monday morning of this week.  The Performing Arts Board made its pitch on the Tuesday – which gave council members and the public less than 48 hours to pour over the 16 pages of very useful data.

Transit Director Mike Spicer, in the yellow shirt, shows Mayor Goldring what he wants in the way of new buses. The Mayor and council obliged and gave Spicer the go ahead to buy smaller buses.

When Mike Spicer, Director of Transit appeared before a Community Development Committee on Wednesday evening to delegate on the acquisition of new buses he was asked if he could merge two documents and get them to council members for the budget meeting the next morning.  Spicer went home and started work, his key staff members went home and started work and advised General Manager Scott Stewart what they were doing and where they were going.

They all gathered early Thursday morning, went over their numbers and passed along the document council needed.  Dedicated professionals doing what they do well.  They have the confidence of senior management and council – and as a result they got their funding and then some.

It’s hard to fathom why it took so long for the PAC people to get their data into the hands of the people who have to pay the bills that the PAC racks up. Time for an attitude adjustment over there.

The data isn’t bad but some of the rationale in the report they produced sounded like a bunch of people feeling sorry for themselves and sounding like they felt they were being put upon.

The document starts with:

We have been required to deliver higher numbers:

Increase our revenues

Increase attendance

Increase opportunities for local NFP clients (NFP is not for profit)

This industry demands a high commitment and dedication of staff resources to operate a 6-7 days per week operation where days can start at 7:00 am and end after midnight.

Every word of that is true – except that the PAC operation hasn’t been anywhere near 6-7 days a week.  In 2012 they were operational 209 days.

The PAC management argued for and were given the funding to hire a sales associate.  It was put in place for two years.

While several council members didn’t really buy the argument that an additional technical person was needed they went along with that funding request as well.

In asking for the sales associates funding PAC management explained the sales associate would:
Engage the community to generate new business which will increase attendance  and revenues.

Develop and nurture relationships with new and existing rental partners

Promote group ticket sales

Implement initiatives by working directly with the community to break down barriers to access and make sure we’ve made them aware of our services and available opportunities.

BPAC Executive director Brenda Heatherington talks up her operation with a supporter.

There isn’t a person in this city who doesn’t know all about the Performing Arts Centre – the problem is with what they know – management over there hasn’t gotten it’s message out.  In a fondly remembered movie Paul Newman said to a sheriff who was standing there with a shot-gun in his hands as Newman called out:  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  That kind of sums up where things stand with the PAC and the city. They need a more effective spokesperson.

In their report they trotted out a couple of equations.  Try these on for size:

ROI = Gain from investment – Cost of Investment

Cost of investment.

They later put this one out:

ROI = ($368,675 – $275,813) + ($320,810 – $273,783) – $63,600 = $76,289 – 120%

   $63,600                                                $63,600

I suspect that both Councillors Dennison and Sharman sputtered a bit when they saw those equations.

What PAC management was trying to say was that projected revenue for 2013 is $368,675,  with ancillary revenue projected at $320,810

Actual revenue for 2012 was $275,813 and actual ancillary revenue came in at $273,783

Cost of the sales associate was set at $63,600.

PAC management seems to see a 120% return as acceptable.  All they are bringing in is 20% more than their cost.  There isn’t a sales manager in this city that would accept a sales representative bringing in just 20% more than the cost of hiring the person.

Councillor Taylor got it right when he said the funding approved in the budget was conditional on the review of a new business plan from the PAC – “and I don’t mean a 10 minute delegation” added Taylor.  This one is going to be a getting into the mud with management and cleaning this mess up.


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City tax rate for 2013 – $16.32 for every $100,000 of valuation. They kept the tax hike to 3.46% with the hospitasl levy of 1% on top of that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 28, 2013  “The impact per $100,000 CVA for an urban residential property is $16.32 with respect to the 4.46% city portion.”  Those were the words straight from the horse’s mouth – Director of Finance Joan Ford, who shepherded city council through a marathon city council committee meeting at which the budget was basically set.

It will go to a city council meeting and be cast in stone.  All kinds of detail to come but the basics are: Performing Art Centre got their money $225,000 to cover the short fall and money for two years for a technician (expect that to become full-time)  and money for a sales associate who is going to get behind and push to ramp up the sales numbers – especially on the rental side where the Centre fell very flat last year.

The Burlington Art Centre got the funding they needed to recast themselves and to figure out who they want to be, where they want to go and then how they will get there.  They didn’t get the chunk of change they needed to pay their staff what they felt they were worth.  That’s an ongoing problem they are going to have to deal with – and it might result in their losing some key people.

Finance department staffers excelled once again not only with the detail and the way they were able to grab numbers out of the air when questions were asked but with the way they presented the data so that council members could see the impact on the tax levy as they debated different sending requests.

Burlington Economic Development got the money they needed to come up with an organization that can attract new business to the city.  Burlington has reached residential build out – there ain’t no more land to put those housing projects on – unless we try to go north of Dundas- 407 and that is not going to happen.

So – find the analysts who can figure out what there is for us out there and then put a marketing genius in place who can do the work that has to be done to make Burlington a city that at least gets some serious attention.

Our Mayor can’t help himself when he says we are the greatest place in this province to live in but he has not managed to attract people to the city.  In some municipalities,  the Mayor is the #1 sales person and works the phones tirelessly to let people know why Burlington deserves a really close look.

That’s not the kind of Mayor we have – a Lee Iacocca he ain’t – so the city will have to find someone who can do the selling.

Transit got basically all it asked for – but you dear transit user are also getting what you didn’t ask for and that is a rate increase – 8% across the board with special situations we will set out for you later.

The fire department got an additional mechanic so that the fire trucks will be able to get out the door when the fire alarm is sounded.

The city manager has a pool of money that he dispenses to each department that is used as merit pay for staff that go above and beyond.  And many of them do.  The crew that pulled together the presentation of all the financial data, deserved no less than a double scotch or a bag of cookies – whichever they preferred, for their efforts today.

The ‘bean counters’ set up a computer that handled transactions and then fed the data into a second computer that projected the information on a large screen and also onto the monitors sitting in front of staff and council members.

Every time a decision was made to spend dollars the number would appear on the screen showing how much was spent and what that impact was on the tax bill.

It was a tough, tough day for Councillor John Taylor.  He sits on the board of the Burlington Art Centre and is passionate about the operation and the staff but he wasn’t able to get council to go along with an allocation that would allow Art Centre management to correct the significant imbalance between city hall staff and Art Centre staff salaries.

At around 2:30 pm it Councillor  Taylor who was chairing the meeting began to lose it.  He was deeply hurt when he realized the Art Centre staff were not going to get what he believed they deserved and that weighed on him.  He was tired and dis-spirited and suggested the meeting adjourn and come back to it tomorrow. His colleagues were not on for that and suggested he turn the chair over to Councillor Meed Ward and she ran the show for the balance of the meeting.

There were no delegations – this was council members dealing with the projects they wanted to see go forward.  Then Councillor Craven snuck one in and asked if the Director of Museums could plead for $7000 for a curator.  She got it – and Craven broke every rule in the Procedural Manual to pull that one off.

It was sort of like driving through a super market aisle and dropping items into your cart and seeing a screen with your total spend on it.  Throughout the day – the session went from 9:30 to 4:00 pm with a 25 minute lunch break – the number went up, then down, but mostly up.  As the budget session was near its end council members looked at the numbers and wondered where they could cut.  They had given out a lot of money, which they felt was needed and that old shave and pave spend kept coming back.  Councillor Dennison was merciless at getting every dollar he could grab.  He argued, again and again, that every dollar spent now was $3 saved down the road.

Council decided to take the $2.2 million in surplus from last year and put it in the tax rate stabilization fund and transfer funds to accounts to pay the bills out of that account.  The spending done amounted to $1,938,360 which when taken out of the $2.2 million surplus they had to play with – there wasn’t much to leave on the table.  Some would treat the difference as a rounding number.

In the closing minutes of the meeting Mayor Goldring wondered what the city was going to do for what he called “opportunity” money; those situations that come along and shouldn’t be passed on.


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Expect to see new, smaller – 25 passenger – buses in the streets of the city in the not too distant future.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. February 28, 2013  Transit is going to get a lot more attention in this year’s budget that it did last year when close to half a million dollars was sucked out of transit and put into upgrading roads.

Then a funny thing happened – city council and staff learned that the people of Burlington did care about transit – they had made it their number three concern in an Environics poll done for the city.

That was all it took for the bureaucrats to start looking at transit more seriously.

Having a new Director of Transit in place didn’t hurt either.  Mike Spicer took over from Donna Shepherd who retired at the end of last year and has gone on to retirement.

Every manager brings his or her own style to the job – Spicer is different.

The specifics on the budget will get debated at a daylong session Thursday.  At a session of the Community Services Committee Wednesday night we got a peek as to what the transit people are thinking – in a phrase – more buses and a fleet that will have more flexibility.

Burlingtonians can expect to see smaller 25 passenger busses cruising along city street if the excited talk coming out of the mouth of the Director of transit is to be believed.

While nothing is cast in stone – the gist of what is planned is the purchase of 12 – eight metre “cut-away” buses that will carry 25 passengers: 19 seated, six standing.

The information was in an Alternative Vehicle Acquisition that feeds into a larger report on transit that will be debated on Thursday.

The words fare increase are going to creep into the budget debates.

What was interesting was the approach council took as it met in committee.  They looked as if they were prepared to sign the purchase order on the spot before Councillor Taylor piped up and said: “the public hasn’t seen these buses and we haven’t done any trial runs or testing”.  Taylor wanted to see something in the way of community input, to which everyone nodded – ‘uhuh we want input from the public’.  Had Taylor not made a comment – my sense was that the public wasn’t going to have much in the way of input on this decision.  Meed Ward, the traditional champion of the people’s interests didn’t say a word.

The 8 metre, 25 passenger bus that looks like it is going to be cruising around the streets of the city sometime in 2014 can be seen in the photo.


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