King Road grade seperation work limits access and traffic for six week period

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012    King Road is getting all kinds of attention in terms of traffic restrictions. Phase 2 of the King Road Grade Separation Project will begin on March 12, 2012. This phase of the project involves the installation of round steel concrete-filled tubes to form an interlocking wall on the west side of King Road, south of the CN Rail crossing and north of the CN Rail, west of King Road.

Grade separation work will limit access and traffic on King Road for six weeks.

That means King Road will be closed for about six weeks beginning on March 12, 2012 from north of Enfield Road to 1135 King Rd. (IKEA Parcel Pick Up).  Pedestrian access through the closure (across the CN Rail) will be maintained.  Detours to Brant Street and Waterdown Road will be marked.

The construction work will consist of  piles drilled into the ground; a steel sleeve put in place and then filled with concrete.  This process is moderately noisy. Work will be done from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.

It’s going to be a little on the messy side in that part of the city for the next while.

A grade separation is going in at the CN line on King Road. Expect construction to impede the flow of traffic while the city, CN and every public utility gets involved with what is a significant engineering task that will culminate during the Thanksgiving weekend. The project will also involve a widening of the bridge of the QEW.

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Isn’t the Jefferson salamander the mascot for the city of Burlington? So why has the Region grabbed the story?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012  It was Burlington people who brought to light just how many Jefferson salamanders there are in rural part of the city and it was the Harmer family that made the slimy little creature the centre piece for at least a part of the Joint Tribunal Hearings heard by an Ontario Municipal Board hearing that lasted more than a year.

And it is Burlington that is going to shut down parts of King Road so the ladies can cross the road and lay their eggs.  If all these things are true – then why is there this big web site spread on the Regional web site..  Shouldn’t it be on the city of Burlington’s web site.  Memo to the public affairs people at city hall – you were scooped.

This is the section of the road being closed so that the Jefferson Salamander can trek across and lay its eggs. King Road is closed further to the south as well for grade separation work.

King Road, between the base of the Niagara Escarpment and Mountain Brow Road, will be closed March 8 to March 29 to allow the endangered Jefferson salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs.

In Canada, the Jefferson salamander is found only in Southern Ontario, mainly along the Niagara Escarpment. Burlington is home to one of the few pockets of Jefferson salamanders in the province.  In the past the city attempted a voluntary closure of a stretch of King Road to protect the species. In 2011, Conservation Halton conducted field research on the impact of vehicular traffic on the Jefferson salamander during breeding season. That research resulted in a full closure for the duration of the migration.

“We tried voluntary overnight closures as a temporary solution,” said Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven. “But with such a small population, losing even a few of these endangered salamanders is too many. A three week closure is a small price to pay to preserve a species.”

According to Conservation Halton, a typical Jefferson salamander colony is small – with a population of no more than 100 – and confined to a specific area.

Local Jefferson salamanders spend the winter on one side of King Road, then cross the road to seek temporary ponds formed by spring run-off.   “The annual migration takes place during dark, rainy periods in March, in exactly the type of weather where you probably won’t even see the salamander,” said Bruce Zvaniga, Burlington’s director of transportation. “The road closure is key to preserving the population.”

The Jefferson salamander, native to the northern part of the city appears to have become a mascot for the Region.

While Burlington does all it can to create an environment that the close to extinct critter can survive in, the Region is putting all their dollars into promoting the salamander..  The Regional Museum unveiled a new website featuring the Niagara Escarpment in Halton called Jeff’s Home.

The interactive, informative and easy-to-use experimental exhibition on the Escarpment in Halton is named after the Jefferson salamander, an Escarpment inhabitant. Made possible with the assistance of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s Museums and Technology Fund.

The site will serve as a teacher portal, offering access to environmental learning, heritage and escarpment facts and activities for students.  It can also be used by the community at large, by a broader audience who may be thinking of visiting the Escarpment, as well as by those who are not able to visit in person, but who will now be able to enjoy a virtual experience.

Jeff, a Jefferson Salamander, serves as the site’s tour guide.  Jeff was chosen as guide through the site’s Escarpment Discovery Hike, Educators’ Corner and information resources in The Escarpment in Halton pages because he is an indicator species. “If there’s trouble in our habitat, I give a warning,” said Jeff.

Visit the site at


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When they say “red light” they aren’t talking about a district – they’re talking about your wallet and the fines they will impose.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012   The first red light camera in Halton Region is up and running to remind drivers to stop at red lights. This is the first of 12 red light cameras the Region is planning to install over the next two years to help improve road safety.

From left to right: Halton Chief of Police, Gary Crowell; Oakville Councillor Marc Grant; Oakville Mayor Rob Burton; Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr; and Oakville Councillors Tom Adams and Max Khan. Note that the only people smiling are the politicions. The police chief is going to have to enforce this law.

“The fact that there’s at least one collision every week in Halton Region caused by a red light runner is not acceptable to us,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “We want to save lives and make our roads a safer place to be. Running red lights is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.”

To help improve road safety across Halton, Halton Region has worked with the Halton Regional Police Service on various road safety programs in the past addressing issues such as speeding and drinking and driving.

Red light cameras take photos of red light runners 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only operate when a vehicle enters the intersection after the light has turned red.

Burlington is to get its Red Light camera March 19th when there will be a photo op at Brant and Dundas.

No mention was made in the press release on how much was spent on these red light runner detectors.

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They don’t want their insurance company to find out about this mistake.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012  It was reported as stolen but it may have been more of a prank.  A Boothman Avenue resident left a car idling in the drive way.  That’s a no, no – Burlington has an anti-idling by-law.

Sometime after 6:40 a.m. on March 6th, someone other than the owner of the car, a 2002 Hyundai, drove it out of the driveway and abandoned it later on Easterbrook Avenue.  At that time of the morning I think we are looking at a commuter heading for work – he would have been late that morning.

The  Hyundai Accent was not damaged. There is no suspect information as this time.

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

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There was a buzz; it was the sound of 100+ people pulled together by social media guru. Will he go viral?

Margaret Lindsay Holton, an award-winning writer and mid-career Golden Horseshoe artist found herself fascinated with a form of social media intended for the business crowd and reports on her experience for Our Burlington.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012  Chatter about ‘social media’ on the web is all pervasive these days. It is no longer enough to just have an email account. To be in the thick of things one must also have a Facebook and Twitter account.  Generally, the latter two sites are for personal ‘interface’ with other like-minded types. However, in the business world, the pre-eminent ‘social media’ site,, is mandatory to stay within the business loop. Like it or not.

If you weren't at this event - you missed the buzz. Burchill, the social media guru behind this "social media" gathering is in the upper left with notes in hand.

Recently, I was doing my daily ‘check-in’ to that account, when I noticed that a few associates of mine had joined a group called ‘BusinessInBurlington’. Hmmm:  what’s that?, I wondered, and within a few clicks of the mouse, I found out.

“The Business In Burlington open networking group   started online in 2008 with a simple mandate – help connect, promote and support local Burlington businesses.  If you’re a business in Burlington, do business in Burlington, or simply want to connect with local Burlington business owners and other entrepreneurs – THIS is the place to be!”

I was amazed at the size of the group, over 800 members. Wow. How come?  Burlington, unlike Hamilton or Toronto, does not really have a unified City ‘identity’. Burlington is made up of six very diverse Wards spread out over a very large geographical area with a total population of only 170,000 +/-. For long-time residents, the City is better split into two distinct groups: those that live ‘above’ Dundas Street (formerly known as Highway 5), and those that live ‘below’. This divide is often expressed through contentious differences of opinion about the strategic growth of the City. It is built on fundamentally conflicting life values. Those above Dundas Street live in a predominately rural setting, while those ‘below’ live in suburban or urban clusters. Diverse, yes, unified, no.

So, WHO are these 800+ ‘like-minded’ business people of Burlington? And WHY do they feel the need to ‘join’ this group? (as I just did).

In answer, under the group discussion page, was a link for the third MeetUp on March 7th.   There have only been two other MeetUps, in January and February of this year. Each had 60-70 attendees. As of March 7th at 3pm, 148 members have signed up. These are, by any standard, LARGE social events.  People are coming together at a one physical location under the banner of ‘BusinessInBurlington’ without any specific agenda in mind. Again. Wow. How come?

The founder of Business in Burlington, (BiB), James Burchill, is naturally very enthusiastic about the response to his third event. In his own words, he is considered a “social media guru & an online marketing expert” (with 15,000 followers on Twitter to boot). He is also Founder/CEO of BusinessFusionMarketing, a Social Media Marketing (SMM) Advertising agency.  I emailed and asked him WHY he thought there was such keen interest at this point in time for ‘Business in Burlington’?  He first answered, “Good question!” He then promptly posted the same question on the LinkedIn ‘BiB’ discussion board. Over the next week, a few members responded with positive shout-outs for James, their inspiring BiB leader. But, more importantly, all comments exhibited a sense that ‘we be comrades in arms’.

Meanwhile, back at “BiB HQ”, James began offering a “video marketing” opportunity to some who intended to attend the next MeetUp event. A video booth, run by him, will record short introductions by participating members that will then be edited via his ad agency and posted on the BiB YouTube website with a URL linked back to member’s own websites. The strategy, according to James, is to maximize participants “SEO’d” exposure via YouTube, the “2nd most searched site on the net”. “Smart businesses”, he claims, “don’t have the time, the energy or the know-how to do proper video marketing on YouTube.”

“Businesses have no clue” James Burchill,Social Media guru. Further to this, James is now offering a special opportunity for those who want to “learn more about using video for email marketing”. Ask him about ‘Codename TF”.

All well and good comrades, but hey, WHAT ABOUT THE PARTY?There is no question that having an informal and free-admission ‘MeetUp’ at a familiar watering hole, the Beaver & Bulldog at 2020 Lakeshore Road, differs from more formal or conservative business gatherings that might be initiated by, say, The Chamber of Commerce or by the satellite McMaster University school site in Burlington. Talk about ‘dry’. And therein, to my mind, lies the key to this group’s apparent success.

Some of the 100 + people who took part in a "MeetUp"

Yes, business people from the broad business community are getting together. They are going to have a drink or two at the end of a long work day. They are also finally cashing in on their due diligence re: ‘on-line’ social media networking. Obsessively spinning in and out of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn, can soon consume many hours of the work week. This ‘business’ browsing may keep us up-to-date on what our like-minded comrades are doing, but in terms of actual productivity,  well, we all know how that works. When all is said and done, nothing replaces a good old fashioned chin-wag, or as James simply puts it, it’s “great to connect in person”.  Ergo, and eureka, let’s rendezvous at the local pub! (By the way, another trending ‘social media’ site,, has also figured this Old Truth out.)

Cynics could well dismiss this ‘BiB’ LinkedIn ‘MeetUp’ as just a hybrid ‘pick up’ or a  veiled excuse for a ‘cocktail party’ circa 2012.  However, Jennifer Aaker, Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has a different take. She believes that the role and impact of ‘brand marketing’ has changed so dramatically over the past few years, that brands, especially those gaining traction now, are those who act as “party hosts” aggressively overcoming the ever-increasing public “trust deficit”.

Additional thoughts on the public “trust deficit” can be found  here and here.

Recognizing that we are becoming ‘cyborg-ized’ may also explain an increasing need for REAL human contact. Plugging into the internet is now an integral everyday extension of both our professional and personal lives. So, yes, how refreshing it is to just unplug for a bit, and get-together for some good old fashioned gossip.

To my mind, aside from the business hype, past and present, I think those who attend these ‘BiB’ MeetUps are genuinely interested in ‘down home’ socializing in a way not fashionable in well over a decade or two. In that sense, it really IS a local ‘cocktail party’ where rapid socializing, catching up, flirting, sizing up and business chats WILL happen over a drink or two within a very brief period of time. No strings attached.

James Burchill, as facilitator extraordinaire, has done Burlington a great service by manifesting this basic human need. ‘Let’s talk. Let’s have a drink. Let’s get to know each other a little bit better. Hey, what’s up with you anyway these days? What’s the BUZZ?’ As a community synergizer, he has effectively gotten people off their computers (and iGadgets), and put them in a convivial social atmosphere to ‘mingle’.

All of it – socializing in this friendly and informal way – encourages greater civic involvement, deepens an individual sense of belonging, and tangentially, nurtures a heightened civic responsibility by all those already actively invested in the success of this community. And, that, dear peeps, is GOOD for developing – and strengthening – a truly unified ‘identity’ for a rapidly evolving Burlington.

Turns out, it really is good business to ‘Know thy Neighbour’.  Who knows. Maybe square-dancing will make a come-back soon too.

Business in Burlington (BiB) meets on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 5-7pm currently at 2020 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, inside theBeaver & Bulldog pub. There’s plenty of parking, on-site and on the street

 © Margaret Lindsay Holton, 2012.  Margaret Lindsay Holton, an award-winning writer & mid-career Golden Horseshoe artist, was born ‘above’ Dundas Street (aka Highway 5), and now resides ‘below’ it. The photography is © M.L.Holton 2012 /


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Transit got a rough ride – fare increase on, then off ,then it all got sent over the city manager. He will add a fare increase real fast.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 7, 2012  There is going to be a fare increase – think in terms of it being an additional 25 cents added to the current $3.00 cash fare.   There will be discounts for monthly passes.

The Budget Committee stewed for some time over what to do with transit.  Ridership is only now getting back to the levels it was in the 80’s.  The transit people are reviewing a report from a group of consultants and working on a Transit Master Plan.

The truth for Burlington is that no one wants to take the bus except for the people that don’t own a car because they can’t afford one or are no longer able to drive.  Ten percent of the Burlington population is said to be living below the poverty line

The key metric for everything to do with transit in Burlington is called the R/C ratio; which is the ratio of revenue to cost.  On many routes it is terrible and consistently draws the comment that “I saw a bus go by and it was empty” which gets the response “if you get on the bus it won’t be as empty” from transit staff.

Transit has a budget of more than $8, 647,000 each year.

At the last budget meeting there were two recommendations for fare increases. Councillor Taylor wanted it raised to $3.25 effective September 1st which he calculated would bring in $89,251 in new revenue.  Why wait till September was Councillor Dennison’s response – he wanted the 25 cent increase to be effective May 1 – which would add $170,063 to the revenue side of the budget.  Neither amount does very much for a budget that is over $8 million.

They are looking at the same piece of paper but they are certainly not on the same page. Councillor Sharman and Director of Transit Donna Sheppard separated by key differences: he doesn't take the bus, she doesn't drive one..

Council members kept comparing Burlington’s prices to Oakville and Toronto – the cash fare in Toronto gets one a heck of a lot more value than Burlington is ever going to be able to offer.  It is ingenuous to suggest that a Burlington cash fare should be anywhere near what Toronto charges.

The debate went back and forth with some council members talking about the cost of the system to the city and others talking about the need for the city to provide a service.  None of the council members actually use the bus service; they don’t have to.  It is the public that has to use the service that isn’t being heard by the majority of this Council.  Meed Ward brings an understanding, sympathy and empathy for the problem.

Transit got mentioned in the Strategic Plan because the city had to mention it; it wasn’t put in the document because the city council members or staff saw it as a burning issue.

The budget committee kind of threw their hands up in the air and passed the whole thing back to staff saying – ‘here you guys figure it out’, which staff will certainly do.  The comment in the budget agenda document provided by Dennison went as follows:

Achieve an annual RC ratio system wide of not less than 45% by September 1, 2012 with a 5% ridership increase in the projection; and further, that staff and the consultant review the six routes that have RC ratios of 30% and under and come back with reviews that include buses for peak only; dial a ride for off peak.  All remaining routes are to be reviewed for opportunities for efficiency improvement and further, only improvements that can be implemented by June 2012.  In addition, staff to produce the utilization route maps for individual routes that do not show overlaps of routes on any page.

How’s THAT for a set of marching orders?  Absolutely none of it is do-able in the time frames given. Transit staff struggle maintaining a transit system in a city that really doesn’t want public transit but knows it has to provide such a service.  Somewhere between the early 1980’s and today something changed.  Ridership was much higher, the bus terminal was a bustling place and public transit was not seen as something poor people use.

Whether it was the urban sprawl, cheap gas and a lifestyle that had people driving everywhere; malls that you drove to and a transit schedule that seemed to meet the needs of the community – all hard to tell.  What Burlington does know is that it has a transit system that is costing too much and not delivering all that much in the way of value for what is being spent.

Plans to develop the parking lots either side of the John Street bus terminal and a consultants recommendation to get into marketing as much as moving people around suggest big changes for the service. Is city Council going to pick up the tab?

The most recent consultant’s report suggests that Burlington is going to have to morph from a service that moves boxes with wheels on it  up and down streets to an organization that tailors the transit service to the needs of specific markets and in the process become as much a marketing driven organization as an operator of vehicles.

It’s do-able.  It has been done elsewhere with significant results.  What seems to be missing in Burlington and at the Council table is the role transit plays in the life of a community.  It is not a source of profit.  It is a public service delivered by public servants in place to meet the needs, the real needs of the community.

That direction, put together by Dennison and sent back to staff, sounds like a cost cutting exercise handed out by an MBA graduate who has forgotten that the immediate and long term needs of the community are the issue.

Some social imagination will help.  Now that the task has been handed back to staff we will get to see what kind of a twist the city manager puts on the way he interprets his role.

Doug Brown, who has more documentation on transit services than anyone else in the city, has a vision for the service he thinks the city needs.  Does it square with reality?




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Tax increase to be $16.29 for every $100,000 of assessment; some critical cuts missed; some revenue opportunities left on the table.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012  When your city Council began the process of putting together the budget for the 2012 fiscal year they instructed staff to come back with a document that would result in a tax increase of between 2.5% and 3.50%  The draft budget called for a tax increase of 3.44%.

During the past month Council and staff have been going through a process that has resulted in a committee level budget approval calling for a tax increase of 3.29% over the tax increase for 2011 – that one was less than 1%.

Budget committee meetings were chaired by Councillor Craven who did a superb job of keeping Council members focus and moving through the agenda quickly and efficiently.

What does all this mean to you?  You will be adding $16.96 to your tax bill for every $100,000 of current value assessment attached to your home.  If your house is assessed at $300,000 your tax bill will have an additional $50.88 cents on it

Mayor Goldring said during his election campaign that he would work to hold the increases during his term of office to not more than 10% during the four year period. During the budget discussions Rick Craven, chair of the budget committee, pointed out the 10% was a political statement and not council policy. With a .9% increase in 2011 and a proposed increase of 3.29 % in 2012, the Mayor will be at 4.19 half way through his mandate.

In 2011 Councillor Sharman wanted to see a 0% tax increase – that demand really shook up Council.  The lowest demand we got this year was a 2.99% increase from Councillor Dennison.  The 3.29% increase agreed to at Committee will only go higher when it gets to Council for final ratification.

The final figure will get determined at the March 19th Council meeting and the tax bills will go out late in April.

Watching a city craft their budget is a fascinating part of the democratic process.  In Burlington it began with the Mayor stating that he would be happy with a tax increase that was somewhere between 2% and 3.5% and city Council sent staff a direction instructing them to pour over every department’s expenses and work towards a figure that fell within that range.  Getting to where we are with this budget has been an interesting and at times exasperating process.

Once staff had been given their basic instructions they beavered away over the books.   In Burlington, the Capital Budget gets done first – that’s the document that sets out the spending that has to be done over an 10 year time frame and set out what has to be allocated each year.  Building a bridge, constructing an underpass, replacing a building.  The replacement of the Drury Lane Bridge is an example of a capital expense.

With longer term need set out, Council then buckled down to figure out what they need to get through the next 12 months.  In Burlington 90% of the revenue raised through the tax levy is spent on salaries and benefits – so this gets a very close look.

Last year the management of the FTE (Full time employees) was such a mess that Council put a cap on what the city manager could hire.  Councillor Rick Craven felt this instruction seriously hobbled the city managers ability to run the city.  But hiring had gotten so seriously out of hand the previous two years that Council put the hobble in place.  Whenever there is going to be a new hire, the department looking for a new person will have to make a sound business case.  Lifting the staffing cap was, in the eyes of Budget Committee chair Rick Craven, the biggest and most important decision made by the committee.

Council had a fine little spat last week when Councillor Taylor said he was opposed to going into closed session to discuss what the staff salary increase would be and if Council did that he was going to leave the Council Chamber and hold a press conference in the atrium.

When Meed Ward was first elected it looked as if she was going to champion a move away from these closed sessions but her desire for higher office proved to be stronger than her journalism degree and for the most part she has been silent when it comes to closed sessions.

Staff had settled on a general salary increase in excess of 2% when they knew that the region had settled on 2%.

Meed Ward did attempt to have the free parking city hall staff get taken away; that didn’t fly and her attempt to have it phased out over three years didn’t get the support of her fellow Councillors either.

Same thing happened to her attempt to have $100,000 removed from the city manager’s Staff Training budget.

Jack Dennison moved back into city hall – that’s going to cost you an additional $15,000. Up until very recently, actually close to the time when council members got moved to the 7th floor, where the accommodation was a lot nicer than the digs they had in offices that were windowless for some council members and their staff were stuck in a basement.  Prior to the move to the 7th floor Dennison did most his work out of his health club and didn’t need a full time assistant.

During the part of the process that had Council members digging into very specific spending items Councillor Dennison managed to carve out an additional $600,000 for his Shave and Pave approach to saving the city a bundle and getting our roads to where most taxpayers think they should be.

The city instructed each of the local boards, the Library, the Burlington Art Centre to keep expense increases to not more than 2%, which made it all a little tough for groups like the Sound of Music Festival who came in rather late in the game and asked for an increase that passed the 50% level.  He was rebuffed but expect the SOM people to be at Council to try again.

Mayor Goldring hunkers down with staff from the treasury department delving into the specifics behind a particular recommendation in the Capital Budget.

In order to allow Councillors to get some sense of what cuts at different department levels would mean, the financial ninjas in the treasury department produced a spread sheet application that would allow Council members to cut an amount or add amounts and see instantly what the tax implications would be.  It was a sort of high tech executive toy they could play with at home at night.  When the little electronic memory sticks with the application were handed out Council members stood up and waved the things around like flags.  Councillors Meed Ward and Taylor were like children at a birthday party who had just been given a loot bag.


Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum looks over a drawing that Councillor Meed Ward needed additional information on. Italo Di Pietro's body language tells where he is with this conversation. He sits to the right quietly looking over Capital Budget numbers.

Sometime after the bound budget projections and recommendations are put in the hands of Council members the staff congregate in a meeting room and gather in groups at different tables where they wait for Council members to sit down with them and ask detailed questions about specific expenditures.  Because all the relevant people from a department are on hand Council members get  all the information they need and staff get an indication of where a Council member might be going with a particular expense.  The room had the feel of a Middle Eastern bazaar where merchants trade with one another.

A couple of weeks later Council members get the Current budget – this is a much bigger book and tends to get more attention from the public, especially groups that want something specific from the city.

For example this year the Burlington Performing Arts Centre was at the public tax trough seeking additional funding that was not in their original budget document.

For each of the budgets, Capital and Current, council members are able to have an item placed on the Agenda of the Budget and Corporate Services Committee.  Organizations or individuals that want to delegate on an item can also appear.

Last year, freshman Councillor Marianne Meed Ward took up most of the oxygen in the council chamber with a rather long list of items she wanted to have council discuss and ideally get them to go along with her view and have  the staff recommendation changed.  While Meed Ward had a number of items on the list this year, it was Councillor Dennison who looked for every possible nook and cranny he could scrounge dollars out of and have re-allocated to the repair of the roads in Burlington.  Meed Ward did take a run at reducing the city managers staff training budget by $100,000 but that didn’t fly.

The Fire Department needed and asked for funds to hire additional firemen for the newly opened station # 8 in the Appleby Line Upper Middle Road part of the city.  He was told to get by using overtime, which will only  work for so long.  Men and women asked to take on too much overtime, experience overtime fatigue.  Not the kind of problem Fire Chief Shayne Mintz wants to have to deal with.   This one may get some additional consideration at the full Council meeting on March 19th.

Transit is going through a transition stage and working through the public participation stage of a consultants report and the creation of a Master Plan.  The opportunity to beef up the revenue side by increasing bus fares was lost when Council couldn’t agree on how much and when a rate increase should be implemented.  But this one is going to be coming back to Council – maybe even at the full Council meeting March 19th.

The city is short millions on the amount available to repair roads and if you drive the city street you can see and feel the problems with our roads.  Dennison has become a champion of the “shave and pave” approach to road repair.  If the city maintains a regular schedule of shaving a small portion of the surface of a road and laying down new asphalt the need to re-build a road at some future date, at a significantly higher cost, can be avoided.

The problem for Burlington is that it has not put enough money into the roads repair budget and as a result the city is now years behind in the work that needs to be done.  The longer the repair work is left  undone the more expensive it gets.  Eventually the road has to be rebuilt completely.

Councillor Taylor has been doing this sort of thing since "the day he used to have hair, it was black then" and knows the numbers as well as anyone in city hall.

If what Dennison is proposing holds through the March 19th Council meeting, where the budget will get cast in stone, there will be enough money to get all the work scheduled for up to the year 2014 done this year.  That may sound like we are getting ahead of ourselves – but that’s not the case.  We are so far behind that it was going to take years to catch up – which meant years of complaints from tax payers.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack  Dennison, who could probably run for Mayor on the strength of what he has done for roads this budget, took the $600,000 staff had recommended for road repairs and dug out more – a total of $600,000 additional dollars for a total of $1.2 million.

Dennison had Budget committee go along with taking the $400,000 that was scheduled for Strategic Land Acquisition and moving it into road repair and replaced that amount with part of the $4 million plus surplus from the 2011 accounts.  Dennison was just slicing and dicing and looking for anything that wasn’t nailed down.

As a result the terrible roads condition list will get cleaned out – all done – but Dennison hasn’t stopped.  There are funds in the Capital budget which has been approved – like a street that is going to get sidewalks on both sides of the road – Jack wants to cut some of those back to sidewalks on just one side of a road and use the funds saved for road repair. He thinks he can scare up an additional $600,000, for a total of $1.8 million in new money going into road repair.

The “shave and pave”  process Dennison has taken on as his personal mission, has a machine that goes along a street and shaves off an inch and a half of asphalt that is immediately replaced by two inches of new asphalt.  The result is a road that was beginning to deteriorate is now freshened and good for many years.

Goldring is seen to be doing a fine job as Mayor and has taken a Council that was once very fractious and molded it into a team that pulls together quite well for the most part; however he may find himself having to do even better in 2014.  One can almost hear candidate Dennison talking about how good a steward he was of the tax payer’s purse when he not only kept taxes low (he wanted the increase to be 2.99%) but ensured that the money collected was spent on road repair,  the city’s biggest problem.

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$2500 and a HUG was all the cultural community could pull out of a budget committee.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 6, 2012  The culture mavens gave it their very best shot.  Barbara Teatero, Executive Director Museums Burlington, stood at the podium delivering a delegation on why the city should come up with $20,000 to support a collaborative efforts pilot project involving the Burlington Arts Centre, The Performing Arts Centre, Royal Botanical Gardens, Museum, Library and Tourism that would result in a web site that would create a brand for the city’s cultural destinations.  There was going to be more than a web site but that seemed to be the focus of her comments and the thing that council members couldn’t get beyond.  Weren’t there already enough web sites out there?

Burlington Art Centre Ian Ross assuring Librarian Maureen Barry that all will be well in the cultural worlds - eventually.

Burlington Art Centre Executive Director Ian Ross stood quietly beside Teatero as she made her presentation and proved that the two were no tag team.  Ross didn’t get to say a word – perhaps he should have spoken.  He did during the questions but didn’t have much in the way of a reply when asked what would happen if the group did not get the funding.

Almost everyone on council had their finger in this pie though. Councillor Craven wanted originally to approve a one-time expenditure of $5000., but he withdrew the request.  Taylor was quite prepared to give the Open Doors group $5000 provided the City Managers budget was reduced by $5000 but he too withdrew his request.

Councillor Sharman put forward the request for the $20,000 but wasn’t able to convince his fellow Council members that this was a wise expenditure at this time.

Teatero explained that the objective was to tie into the “culture as a business” view that is floating through the municipal sector.  She said 700 towns in Ontario have a Culture Day and that the objective for the pilot project was to create a collective identification for the cultural interests in Burlington;  harness the inherent synergy between the different agencies and get some interactivity so that people who visit the Art Centre to look at collections there also get made aware of the Joseph Brant Museum and its offerings.  Culture and heritage were going to be turned into Siamese twins – joined at the hip.

Councillor Meed Ward wanted to know “what would prevent you from doing that with what you have”.  The point Teatero wanted to make was that they didn’t have the money they were asking for.

The city has just put out a Request for Proposals for the development of a Cultural Master Plan and the thinking around the council table was that nothing should be done in terms of creating synergies or developing identities until there was a master plan in place.

Burlington is close to awash with Master Plans.  The transit people are working through theirs, which Councillor Taylor doesn’t think is going to go much further than the five has already seen during his 20 plus years on council.  There is a Beachway Master Plan being worked up – the most current iteration of that plan is a follow up on work that started in 1987.

Barbara Teatero, Executive Director Museums Burlington

To be fair to this planning business, the Spencer Smith Park and the Discovery Centre are the result of good planning.  We at Our Burlington cannot wait for the warm summer evenings to arrive where we can sit on the veranda at Spencer’s and take in a sunset with chilled white wine. But I digress.

The request was for one time funding of $20,000 – didn’t make it but the $2500 as ongoing funding for the Doors Open program supervised by the Heritage Umbrella Group – HUG did make it.

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Outdoor ice skating at Spencer Smith Park ends. There go the Spring Break Plans. Did we have a winter?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012   And then it was over.  Winter had hardly gotten a decent grip on the city and the lake came nowhere near freezing over.  There wasn’t any buildup of snow and the city must have saved a bundle on snow removal.

The true sign for Burlington that the winter was over is the announcement that as of 10:00 pm this evening the skating rink at the  Rotary Centennial Pond at Discovery Landing will close for the skating season.

If you didn't get to strap on the blades this winter - you're out of luck. Rink closes at 10:00 pm this evening.

This is probably the first executive decision Chris Glenn made as the now Director of Parks and Recreation; the Acting was removed from the title very recently.

“With the mild winter we were happy to be able to keep the rink open as long as we have,” said Chris Glenn, director of parks and recreation. “We are now looking forward to the spring season and the opening of the reflective pond.”

City staff will spend the next few weeks cutting the ice out of the pond and preparing the 10,000 square-foot (930 square metre) reflective pond for opening.

“Skating is still available at the city’s indoor arenas,” said Sandy Osborne, co-ordinator of swimming and skating. “Our indoor recreational skating and shinny hockey programs run all year and are a great way to stay in shape and have fun.”

Fun sure, but it’s not skating on ice is it.

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Honouring our own, recognizing the people that serve the community because they believe in service. Entries close March 9th

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 6, 2012

Recognizing one’s  peers is a sign of a civilized community that pulls together for the greater good of everyone.  The politicians manage to get their picture in the paper at every opportunity, they don’t want us to forget them.  How could we?

Fireman and police officers get recognized for their heroic deeds.  Beauty Queen’s get recognized because they please they eye and play into our fantasies.

The little guy, the school crossing guard, the person that turns up at Rib Fest or the Sound of Music Festival to collect tickets or direct visitors..  The volunteer that pounds a pipe into the ground on a cold winter day to hold a seasonal decoration in Spencer Smith Park – these are the people that make a city.

Each Year Burlington creates a committee that selects citizens who deserve recognition.  The people selected for recognition come from a list of names submitted.  And you dear citizen have the opportunity to submit a name of any one of the six categories the city has created.  They are:

    Citizen of the Year

    Junior Citizen of the Year

    Senior Person of the Year

    Arts Person of the Year

   The Community Service Award

   The Environmental Award

The deadline for  the 2011 nominations is March 9, 2012.

In Burlington, being recognized by the community has in the past been the first step into a political career.  While that isn’t the purpose of the award it is interesting to note how recipient’s names often end up on ballot forms.  The real purpose is to recognize that unsung community hero who plugs away month in and month out; doing what it takes to make a city great.

If you know someone who has volunteered his or her time and played a role in making the community a better place to live, work or play, consider submitting their name for this honour.

Burlington is plunging head long into the world of electronic communications – thus you can submit a nomination electronically online at:

Nomination forms can also be picked up at Burlington City Hall, 426 Brant St., first floor, clerks department.

Committee clerk Andrea Holland at 905-335-7600, ext. 7413 or email is also there to help you.  Recipients of the awards will be honoured at a special awards event on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

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The mood was a little different, Council wasn’t as negative but the Sound of Music folks still have a struggle on their hands

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012  And the music played on.

Dave Miller, Executive Director of the Sound of Music Festival (SOM)

A lazy, hazy early summer evening on the lakefront - sweet music, cold beer and the entry price is just right.

took his case to a budget committee once again.  This time he wore a suit and they had a projector that worked for him and he was able to talk about his numbers but they still took a pass.  But it wasn’t as blunt a pass as his first attempt to get the city to pony up a little more cash. – that qualified as a disaster.

He also brought along a couple of volunteers and the new chair of his board – oddly enough they stayed in the seats in the public gallery; one usually trots them out to hopefully entice a council member to ask them a question or two.

Part of the problem Miller has is  that “show business” is not like any other business.  It chews up a lot of money and everything is on the line until the day of the event – and if it rains – you’re out of luck.

The Festival has a reserve of $400,000 which one would think they could dip into to cover the cost of growing the event.  Better to look at that $400,000 reserve as their “operating” money.  Fees have to be paid, artists want an advance to confirm a booking.  Show business needs that kind of cash in the bank.

Councillor Dennison said he felt he could live with making the grant $17,000 a year over a two year period but Councillor Taylor got crotchety and said based on what he was looking at the Festival made a profit.  And if they made a profit then why did they want more money from the city?  The problem during the second delegation was that the numbers on the committee report weren’t an accurate reflection of SOM’s financial condition.  This is a very successful financial operation that wants to grow the business and would like the city to get on the wagon.

All isn’t lost but Miller is going to have to make a strong business case if he is to get a vote from either Taylor or Lancaster.  Miller has done some of his homework – met with the Council members individually to plead his case.  He still has some work to do but he is beavering away at it.

If he could put together his financials in a format that was simple and direct and show that the Festival is a very financially successful event that brings major dollars into the city.  And if he could manage to convince the people at the Burlington Downtown Business Association to join him at the podium – he might just pull this off.

They are making him jump through hoops and so far Miller has managed to handle most of the questions – but that critical sense of confidence still doesn’t exist within Council.

They stream in by the thousands, all heading for a soft spot on the grass or a seat in the beer tent. The thrill seekers take a spin on the Ferris wheel.

And there is some work to be done on the relationship building side of things as well.  Miller wants to hold another event on a Saturday which makes good business sense but that will mean having all the barriers in place for that second Saturday and the Parks and Recreation people explain that they can’t just leave the barriers sitting out there for a week. “We would have to take them back into storage and then bring them out again and of course take them away again – that’s a lot of work for our people”, explained a Parks official.  However, if the Festival is picking up the cost – shouldn’t matter to the city – should it?

The Festival is a big event and Miller wants to work at having it broadcast which would be quite a coup for the city.  Imagine – the Burlington Sound of Music Festival being broadcast live across the country!  Every one of the seven people at that Council table would stand a little taller and feel quite a bit prouder if the Festival was getting national coverage.

That kind of thing just doesn’t happen.  It takes hours of work; Miller has to cultivate relationships, work angles and convince all kinds of people that this could work and the music is great content for a broadcaster.  That potential isn’t going to happen this year but it is certainly a pony worth putting a couple of bucks on.

Miller doesn’t come across as one of those slick entertainment types that promises everyone whatever they want just as long as he gets what he wants.  He’s a quiet guy who isn’t all that comfortable standing before council explaining things that he hasn’t made all that clear in his written presentation.

This is where perceptive council members can see beyond the presentation and provide the leadership to get the Festival to the next level.  $34,000 over two years to get a shot at broadcasting Burlington to the rest of the country. And we are thinking about taking a pass on that?  Are we crazy?

Might be.  The March 19th Council meeting is their kill date.


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They were out in force on Woman’s Day, making sure there was a place at the decision making table for the next generation.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012 It was an incredible mix of women.  The war horses were there; those women who have been fighting the good fight for decades along with the high school students who approached the event with the awkwardness and shyness that adolescents girls fall back on when they face situations new to them.  Most paused and looked about them,  not exactly sure where they were supposed to go, as they walked into the Halton Room at the Holiday Inn with backpacks hanging from their shoulders.

The event, the annual Women’s Day Breakfast has been sponsored by Paddy Torsney for 16 years. The attendance this year topped at 190 with more than 30% of the crowd there as high school students; there were 18 from M. M. Robinson high school.

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of Co-operators Insurance Group, a self-confessed math nerd and 15 year old army recruit, was the guest speaker.

Ann Swarbrick, former MPP in the Bob Rae government and now the executive Director of Habitat for Humanity listens attentively.

Anne Swarbrick was in the audience and had a question of the speaker on what could be done to rebuild the co-op housing programs in Canada.  Swarbrick pointed out that Burlington has 10% of its population living below the poverty line.  Bardswick agreed that co-op housing was not getting the attention it deserved.

Torsney talked of the level of female representation at the various political levels.   She pointed out that 76 of the 308 Members of Parliament are female but that at the Regional level, just four of the 21 are female, while some municipalities don’t have any female representation.

Torsney argues that the public gets better representation when there are woman at the table where the decisions are  made.  I think that it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that just because the person is female the decisions are better.  Gender is very important but there are just as many ill-suited men in this world as there are women.  One would hope that the women’s movement would strive to put their very best forward.

One of those very best is Kathy Bardswick.  She brought a really interesting message which she aimed directly at the high school students in the room.  “How many people like math”  the audience was asked.  Hardly a hand went up.  “How many of you like music´ – and every high school student shot their hand into the air.  Then they were told of a very significant link between mathematics and music.  Bardswick pointed out that minds that tune into music understand structure and tend to be better at problem solving which is basically what mathematics is all about.

“This is your time” said Bardswick Bar.  “You have the tools and you have the ability to make a difference”.

Bardswick went on to explain that women have a natural tendency to be more expansive; that women dialogue more before they make a decision and that with more dialogue the greater the understanding.  And with understanding people can move to meeting both their own needs and the needs of those they are working with. Has Bardswick sat in on a Burlington city council meeting and listened to some of the dialogues?   But I digress.

It is always interesting to watch successful woman speak to students, particularly female students.  There is earnestness; you can almost feel the successful female business person wanting to will these young women into the business world.

One of the students asked Bardswick  how she spent her early years and that brought a pause to the room.  Bardswick explained that she was a bit of a rebel when she was young.   She tended not to fit in all that well.  She did manage to get herself into the army at the age of 15 but was booted out when they learned of her age.

Isabelle Harmer, mother of Sarah Harmer, a popular singer and environmentalist, who was part of the community leading the drive to stop the expansion of an aggregate mine in North Burlington, discussing the guest speaker.

She was accepted at McMaster at the age of 16; thought she wanted to be a doctor but failing biology and chemistry suggested she should look at some other field of endeavour.  She was definitely not going to work in insurance but when a job at an insurance company came along – well there were student loans to be paid – so she worked for an insurance company. “I decided to work for the insurance company until I could get a real job”, she said.  Thirty years later she is still with insurance and today is the President and CEO of The Co-operators Group; an organization with $40 billion in assets under management and a corporate culture that focuses more on serving the community than it does on racking up the profits.

Guest speaker Kathy Bardswick, told more than 60 high school students to be be "absolutely fierce about achieving your goals”

What Bardswick didn’t do was explain in more detail just what a co-operative insurance company is about and how it is significantly different than those in place to earn profits for their shareholders.  In her talk, she mentioned that in her career in insurance she had never been asked or had to do something that was outside her ethical comfort zone. She explained that she believed the quality of one’s life is the most important concern and the chance to use skills and experience to make a difference in the quality of life for everyone is a noble endeavour. “It is not all about making a lot of money”, she added.

Bardswick made on very telling comment when she suggested to the students that they “find your passion, figure out what you really want to do with your lives and then be absolutely fierce about achieving your goals”.

“Your aptitudes are connected” she said.  “Listen to them and listen to your hearts.  There are huge problems to be solved in this world”.

Carole Ward, recipient of Burlington's 2010 Civic Recognition Award has been a community activist for as long as most people can remember.

Bardswick talked about sustainability and used her views on some of the things this world is doing that are not sustainable, to giving her views on the tar sands in western Canada.  “I am somewhat schizophrenic about the tar sands.  We shouldn’t be doing what we are doing to the earth.  We can’t just keep pulling stuff out of the ground – it’s just not sustainable but on the other hand we are so dependent on that oil and at this point in time we don’t have alternatives.

And that for Bardswick was what the breakfast was really all about – harnessing the energy and the enthusiasm of youth to find the alternatives and beginning to solve the multitude of problems we face – one of which for her is the  inclusion of women at the tables where decisions are made.  She is convinced that we will be a better world with more women involved and that the new day is coming.

As for her personal career – she mentioned being in the sunset of her  time as a CEO and looks forward to working with the co-op model at an international level.  “We are beginning to see some acceptance for the idea in China”  – and she wants to do more work on educating people about the co-op movement.

Debra Pickfield runs Thinkspot ! in Burlington, an organization that takes an innovative approach to problem solving.

Few Canadians know that Canada has played a leading role in the development of the cooperative movement..  Much of the philosophical thinking was done at St. Francis Xavier University at Antigonish N.S.  If you want to get a look at an approach that could make this world a better place and remove much of the greed that came close to ruining the world economy in 2008 – the cooperative movement is one you might want to take a look at.  It is an economic solution – not a political one.

Bardswick closed by telling her audience that the United Nations had made 2012 the Year of the Co-op and had established a web site to tell the world what the cooperative movement was all about..  That web site as at: www.canada2012.COOP



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Torsney tells breakfast meeting: Women needed in Canadian political, & financial arenas. Guest speaker talks up the co-op sector.

By Tania Mais

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012  The empowerment of women and a commitment to the issue of hunger and poverty was the theme established by the United Nations for the 2012 International Women’s Day.  The 16th annual International Women’s breakfast presented by Honourable Paddy Torsney,  with guest speaker, Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO from the Co-operators Group Ltd. was definitely empowering but fell short when it came to adequately addressing concerns of local poverty.  Torsney and Bardswick took the time to appeal to the students and aspiring women in the room encouraging representation in politics, economics and the field of mathematics.

Guest speaker at the 16th Annual Women's Day Breakfast, Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of the Co-operators Group shares thoughts with the 60+ high school students at the event..

There was a powerful buzz in the air as over 190 women filled the conference room of the Holiday Inn in Burlington to celebrate women.  Women were relating to each other with ease and joy.  It was inspiring to be among retired professional women, working women, mothers, eager students and a handful of male supporters.  There were groups of co-workers, friends and families. The conversations were rich, the laughs were heartfelt and the passion was fierce.

As I worked my way around the conference room, I met amazing women, including two secondary school students from Notre Dame Secondary, Sarah Lowicki and Chelsea Urquico.  These ladies were proud to announce that they were handpicked by their Principal to attend this event.  Lowicki explained that she is very active in sports at her school while Urquico advised that she is a mentor to the grade nine students.   I was also pleased to meet a student from Gary Allan Secondary, Katherine Bell and her mother Kathleen Bell while they celebrated the honour of her being chosen by her peers to represent her school.  Burlington Secondary students made up almost 30% of the quests in attendance.

I shared in a joyous conversation with an employee from A Different Drummer Book Store, Carol Hunt.  She graciously introduced me to her long-time friends and golfing companions.  Among the five spirited women (who make a point of coming together to meet at this event annually) were three retired school teachers that worked together in various Burlington schools.  Hunt reported that “Paddy Torsney is a loyal customer of her bookstore and that is how they became the destination for purchasing tickets to the International Women’s day breakfast”. Janet Dawson and her colleague, public health nurses informed me that this was their first year attending the annual breakfast.  Dawron reported “I wanted to come here and celebrate women”.

There was a token amount of male political figures including Mayor Goldring, Ward 1 Councillor, Rick Craven, and the Regional Chair, Gary Carr, in attendance.

Before introducing the main speaker, Paddy Torsney, who will be the 2013 Chair of the United Way, highlighted the value of women in the political arena.  Torsney emphasized the under representation of women in politics at all levels of government.  Torsney invited women to consider running for political office.  She maintained that  “women in politics have better outcomes for children and communities”.

Kathy Bardswick,  president and CEO of Cooperators Group spoke with confidence and ease as she highlighted the value of cooperative model in business and the important role that women play to contribute to its international success.  After reviewing many benefits of the cooperative business model (including the ability to engage and vote on decisions in a democratic style) Bardswick enthusiastically tried to entice the female students in the room to keep their minds open to mathematics and financially based studies.   Bardswick connected mathematical skills with musical ability and well developed problem solving skills.  During the question period, Bardswick highlighted some strides the Co-operative Group  is making to connect with first nations communities and minimize the impact of national catastrophes.

Ann Swarbrick, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity in Burlington listens as Kathy Bardswick talks about the role the co-operative approach plays in the world of finance.

Ann Swarbrick, executive director of Habitat for Humanity inquired about the lack of commitment to  cooperative  housing initiative in Oakville and Burlington stating that “10% of the population in Burlington and Oakville live under the poverty line”.  Swarbrick wondered “how the Co-operators group  planned to assist the initiative to revalue cooperative housing”.  Bardswick advised that “although Cooperators Group has tried to engage in supportive dialogue regarding affordable housing, the issue does not seem to be resonating with those who have authority to make decisions about housing”.

In my discussion with Paddy, she told me she has sponsored this women’s breakfast for the past 15 years because it “celebrates women and offers the opportunity for continued networking”.  When asked about how Canada fares internationally in regards to the economic, social and political advancement of women, Torsney reported “Canada has a long way to go economically.  Although women are making more income, they should have more opportunity to influence economic policy and make budget decisions”.

In keeping with the theme of International Women’s day to address the issue of Poverty and hunger, I asked Torsney how she thought we could address poverty and hunger in our own backyards of Burlington Ontario?.  She responded: “ we need to get the information out into the community.  Did you see how surprised this crowd was to hear Ann Swarbrick from Habitat Humanity announce that there is a 10% poverty rate in Burlington.  We need to think more about the impact that hunger has on the development of our children and their access to resources. We need to ensure that the local decision makers know about these things.”

The message was clear.  Women in politics and economically influential positions have better outcomes for children and the communities according to Torsney and Bardswick.  The hope is that the young women who attended this breakfast and other events will feel empowered to get involved in cooperative businesses and political office to influence social, political and economic growth and change. We need better outcomes for our children and communities facing poverty and hunger right here in Burlington.


Tanya Mais is a graduate of the University of Toronto.  Her studies and professional life are related to mental health and justice services.  She takes a sociological approach to her work. Her quest is to contribute to social justice within an anti-racism, and anti-oppressive framework.  Currently Tanya is the proud mother of two girls and works part time at a local mental health agency in Burlington as well as volunteering at her daughters school facilitating bullying awareness discussions at the kindergarten level.   



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Discipline, persistence, focus and passion: keys to developing positive work habits that grow you and your business.

By Gerry Visca

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 20112  Many entrepreneurs that I coach often ask me how I am able to stay focused and help so many others create their lives.  I tell them the key to driving my brand and my actions is daily discipline.  Sounds easy right?  Sometimes it’s the simple things that when executed on a consistent basis will drive your success forward.

Visca inspires - had Burlington's business elite on their feet shouting out BIG words - then hugging each other.

How long does it take to form a new habit? I receive several answers from audiences ranging from twenty to sixty days and everything in between.  Based on my experience, I have found that the formation of a new habit will take the average individual approximately thirty days.

Following the consistent application during this period of time will encourage the mind to accept it as a new form of behavior.  Ask any successful person and they will tell you that success is defined by replacing bad habits with really good ones.  The key here is to ‘focus’ on creating new and better habits to replace the old habits and align all of your actions to pursuing your goals.  The key words here are consistency and persistence.

Ask any professional speaker or entertainer how they are harnessing their energy. They need to recondition their mind and body for better physical and mental shape.  They need the ability to summon their inner energy upon demand. They strive to form new success habits; preparing themselves physically with disciplined physical fitness and a healthier diet.  They look great, feel great and have the physical energy to live life to the fullest. The audiences can sense their high energy the minute they pounce onto stage! They address the audience with great enthusiasm and passion and engage them within the first 10 seconds. Imagine being a leader in your organization that continually inspires and engages its employees to become the best that they can be?  What would this look like?

If you have never fallen you have never challenged your potential.”

Gerry Visca  

Your employees would be encouraged and inspired to strive for personal greatness in all they do.  Just think about it for a moment, what could you achieve in that one hour of time every morning? It’s only one hour right?  I know, you convince yourself that you really need that extra hour of sleep and you can’t function without it right?  That is the habit you have created for yourself and you have conditioned your mind in that manner.  The key is to stick to a consistent plan that is best for you.

The key to discipline includes the following attribute: Patience – a strong focus combined with harmonized thoughts.  This allows you to get into flow and learn how to balance your energy levels.   Personally, I find the morning the best time for me.  I love getting up with enthusiasm before the world is awake, it is my time to get myself mentally and physically focused, organized and ready to face new and exciting challenges.  My morning routine also provides me with the physical and mental energy needed to stimulate creativity.  I actually find sleeping in makes me more tired.  My routine starts with a twenty minute run followed by another twenty minutes of muscle conditioning followed by a meditation exercise.  I encourage you to start tomorrow. You will feel great and be surprised at what you will be able to achieve with this type of daily disciplined conditioning.

The second attribute to discipline is: Passion – If you’re not passionate about what you are doing how can you expect to engage anyone around you?

As you start to form new habits you will be in a better position to manifest the things that you want most.  Your mind is more in tune and ready to accept the transformation.  This creative principle is also geared towards helping you laser focus on the things that you want most in life.  Incorporating daily discipline is a very powerful principle in your personal transformation tool box.

Gerry Visca is an inspirational speaker who has made presentations to the Mayor’s Burlington Economic Development  Corporation luncheons and has “inspired” some 100,000 people to harness innate abilities.   He can be reached at:


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Council member threatens to walk out of chambers and call a press conference to spill the beans on staff pay increases.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  Match 6, 2012  Things got a little feisty at the Budget meeting at city hall last week.

Councillor John Taylor said he was not going to allow a budget committee to go into closed session to talk about how much the city was going to allocate for staff salary increases and that if he was found to be out of order he was going to walk out of the Council Chamber to the atrium and hold a press conference and spill the beans.

That is exciting stuff for Burlington.

The Dean of Burlington Council members, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor fights for what he believes in. One of the things he wants is more openness and more transparency. He didn't get it this time out.

Councillor Taylor was talking about salary figures that were well known and discussed at the Regional level, Committee chair Rick Craven kept intruding and telling him that he was getting very close to the line on what was permitted and what was not permitted in terms of talking about specific matters.

Taylor would lose his train of thought and while the two bickered back and forth, they eventually went into closed session and sent everyone out into the foyer for close to an hour.  That gave everyone sent out of the room time to get caught up on the gossip.

Taylor was making an very significant point.  The matter was how much of the tax money collected goes into staff salaries and how much does what Burlington pays its employees?

Taylor started off by pointing out that the Region had gone public and openly discussed salary increases and said the Region was not going to go above 2% increase in their 2012 budget.  Taylor felt Burlington should fall into the same line.   At that point chair of the meeting Rick Craven cut in and advised Taylor that he might be crossing a line and beginning to talk about a matter that wasn’t permitted by the Burlington Procedural Manual.

A staff report had recommended more than a 2% increase but that document was kept confidential.

That wasn’t going to deter Taylor – he then began to talk about comments made by an Ombudsman’s report that said council members should be generous and broad in their interpretation of what is confidential and what isn’t.

That wasn’t going to deter Craven who said that he was following the rules as set out in the Burlington Procedural Manual and he didn’t want to have to rule Taylor out of order.

What Taylor wanted to do was put forward a motion to decrease the amount to be allocated for salaries in the 2012 budget.

That was enough for the rest of the Council.  They decided to go into Closed Session and everyone was asked to leave the room.

Once everyone was back in the room Taylor’s motion to reduce the amount set aside for salaries and wages by $455,820 was voted on and defeated.  Taylor then put forward a second motion for a reduction of $152,000 and that was passed.

The $455,820 would have meant a 1% increase in salaries and wages for city staff; the $152,000 meant the increase was going to be just 2% ; not the more than 2% staff was recommending.

Municipalities pay their people very well and the benefits are also very good. The pension – a defined one – is amongst the best in the country.

Taylor pointed out that 90% of the money raised in taxes by the city, which amount to $125 million, is spent on salaries and benefits and he wanted this to be discussed in public.

The discussion got to the point where Taylor and Craven were sparring over phrases and wording in the city Procedural Manual.

The heck with what is in the Procedural Manual:  why does a budget committee go into closed secret session when discussing how much they are going to increase staff salaries by?  They aren’t talking about an individual’s  pay – they are talking about how big the increase is going to be for all staff during a specific budget year.

Folks that’s your money; 90 cents of every dollar is paid out as salary or benefits.  If open, transparent government means anything telling what you are paying your staff is part of that business.

The province has a Sunshine list that calls for municipalities to report the name and amount paid to every person earning more than $100,000 a year.  That information then gets published.  If the province is prepared to let the public know who is earning more than $100,000 why can’t the city say how much they are going to increase salaries by?  What is confidential about discussing the increases?

That young lad, second from the left is THE Lord Acton who took part in a Halton agricultural tour last year. The Acton name is famous for that powerful political dictum: "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.." One can expect this picture to get used in Taylor's next election campaign.

A Burlington city staff report that was confidential had set out an increase for staff salaries that was in excess of 2%

These discussions are at committee level and have to go to Council meeting to be made final March 19.

One Council member pointed out that the staff report, which wasn’t public, uses what other municipalities pay their people as  “comparators” and Taylor was arguing that it is unfair to use other municipalities as comparisons – that the city should be using what the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker are earning – these are the guys paying the taxes and Taylor was arguing that they aren’t getting much more than 1%

One the day that Burlington was having this noisy debate the Premier of the province was telling teachers that their new contract would have a 0% increase for the next two years and that the practice of being able to get paid out for sick days that had been banked was going to be pared back.

Burlington might want to pay attention to the reality the province finds it has to face – it’s our reality as well.



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Young female believed she was being stalked by the driver of a white van in the Plains Rd East & Maple Avenue area.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 2, 2012  On February 29th around 8:30 p.m., a fifteen-year-old female  walking west along Plains Road East from Maple Avenue to Spring Gardens Road  noticed a vehicle that seemed to be following her.  The vehicle, a van, was spotted several times travelling back and forth along Plains Road, as well as being seen parked at various commercial properties along the route. The female believed she was being followed.

As the female approached Spring Gardens Road the same van pulled into a driveway, turned around and blocked the sidewalk directly in front of the female.

The van’s tinted passenger window was lowered just a few inches and the male passenger told her to get into the vehicle.

The female replied that she was calling the police on her cell phone and the van sped away.

The passenger in the van has been described as white, with brown hair. No other descriptors are available.  The vehicle is described as a white van with tinted windows. A sticker was seen on the left side of the rear window.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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She took a principled stand and they short her down. Bang, bang – they shot her down.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 1, 2012  She did her best.  She stood up and took a stand.  She was brave.

Alas, her fellow Council members didn’t have quite the same degree of courage and they all sat on their hands when it came to a vote on whether or not the city should continue paying for employee parking.

This is not a small matter – the city pays out $184,844 annually for employee parking and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward felt this was a perk that was no longer justified and should be done away with.  Other members talked around the issue but none came right out and said they thought city staff should get their parking paid for.  The city provides discounts on bus passes but there is apparently a very small uptake on that offer.  Why take the bus when the city is going to pay your parking.

She was never shy about speaking up and at a Council Budget committee she certainly spoke out about the city paying for employee parking. But every other council member sat on their hands when it came to a vote.

For a city that wants to increase transit use – paying parking for staff that could take the bus to work seems to be a policy that isn’t being lived up to by city management.

There are some situations where very senior people should get their parking paid for – that`s consistent with what is done in the private sector.  It should be noted though that none of the people at the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital get there parking paid for.  That they must pay their own parking is written right into their employment contracts.

Meed Ward is a trooper if she is anything. This wasn’t the only time that she was the owner of the only hand that went up in the air when the vote was called.

She couldn’t get any support on a vote to cancel the free parking so she put forward another motion to have the perk phased out over a three year period.  No takers on that one either.

Meed Ward made three points as she argued for ending the free parking for staff..  There was a matter of principle.  There is no free parking for anyone else.  You pay to park on the streets or the city parking lots and while you don`t pay to park at the malls, the cost of that parking space is built into the rental structure meetings pay for retail space at the malls.  Meed Ward did not think staff should be putting forward expense items that were advantageous to them.  When staff put a line item in the budget to cover parking – they are in effect giving themselves a direct benefit – which comes in at $184,000 plus annually.

Her second point was that Council was expected to show leadership and all the talk of keeping tax increases low is a bit of a sham when the city had an opportunity to reduce the expenses by $184,000 plus – just like that.

Her third arguing point was that paying for staff parking and then fining people who may have spent a little longer than they expected in a store to come out and find they have a ticket on their car – well she thought that was a bit  much.

On a personal note – the Council committee that was debating the budget had announced that they would commence at 9:30 am and break at 12:30 pm – and so I put the $4.50 needed in the parking meter.  They broke for five minutes at 12:10 and then went back into session and stayed there till 1:30 pm.  Had the meter man been in the parking lot I use I would have been looking at a $20.00 parking ticket so that I could sit in the Council chambers to hear a debate about staff getting free parking.

Council members get a free parking spot right outside city hall – fair enough.  They are in and out frequently and they do work long hours.  And they are the Board of Directors – they get a perk.  When this benefit was conferred on Meed Ward she declined and my understanding is that she pays for her parking spot.  Good on you Ms Meed Ward, there are times when you drive people bananas with some of the stuff you do at Council but on this one you are right on principle and you were right on leadership as well as customer service.

Can that populist principled approach get you elected as Mayor?   That’s a different issue.



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The sandbox is now his to run as Chris Glenn has the Acting taken away from his title. Congratulations..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 1, 2012  The acting part of his career ended last night and this morning Chris Glenn enters city hall as the Director of Parks and Recreation.  It is a well-earned change to his title and while it won’t make any difference in his work load, it should make a difference in his pay cheque.  It is also the first step in the several that newly minted City Manager Jeff Fielding will be making in the ranks of his senior staff.  This one was easy.  He now has to resolve the Acting Executive Director of Finance and the Acting General Manager, Development and Infrastructure – there are some musical chairs involved in these two.

Chris Glenn has been with the city for some time, working his way through various departments but always coming back to parks and recreation which may have been the result of a summer job as a life guard at a swimming pool a long time ago.  He has been serving as the Acting Director for a number of years while a medical disability  leave of absence for the former Director worked its way through to completion.

He is no longer "acting"; it's now the real deal as Chris Glenn gets appointed the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city.

Glenn works with General Manager Scott Stewart and is frequently Stewart’s go to guy when there are some awkward negotiations to be done.  Every problem that cropped up with the development of the Alton community got resolved to some degree because of the steady hand Glenn brought to the table.

When you put a city administration, a school board and a library board all in one room and direct them to “work it out” you know there are going to be some fundamental differences of option and provincial rules and regulations that have to be dealt with.

The community centre that is made up of a high school, a community recreation centre and a library is now under construction.  The interminable meetings that got everything to the point where a shovel went into the ground were stick handled to a large degree by Glenn.  The actual construction of the Alton community is under the direction of the Halton District School Board – it is up to their people to ensure that the project comes in on time and on budget.

Burlington served as the lynch pin that pulled all the pieces into place and ensured that the needs and interests, of each group were fully understood and to the degree that it was possible, were met.

Developing executive level talent requires the kind of human resources leadership that is part talent scout and part strong administer with an ability to move people from department to department to give them mixed experience and at the same time asses the competencies.  Roy Male, Executive Director of Human Resources does this job for the city.  He has watched Chris Glenn grow over the years and while his comments made to city council in a closed session are not public, he must take a sense of pride in watching Glenn grow into this position.

Glenn now has to deliver on the expectations senior management have of him.  Expect to see a well-run operation with some surprising flashes of innovation. His patience and sound understanding of the way people work and what can be efficiently and effectively delivered have been in play for some time.  He can now go forward with a more satisfying sense of his authority.




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McKenna getting the hang of the job and having the time of her life. Give her a year and we will see if she develops into a great MPP.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 28, 2012   Jane McKenna, Burlington’s member of the provincial Legislature is settling into her new digs on Brant Street just fine.  Her tasks as the political representative for the city and her role as a “player” in the Progressive Conservative political scene in the province are coming together quite well for her.

The “official” opening of the office and her co-chairing  the Progressive Conservative party’s Annual General Meeting have had her jumping and seeing very little of her household but, except for two of her children the place is pretty quiet.

She learned very quickly how to listen. She has enough executive capacity to get things done. The next year will tell us if she has the making of a good MPP.

Lady Jane, as we have chosen to call her, is still close to enamoured with Tim Hudak, her party leader, who got a pretty stern  message from the party membership on the campaign that was run during the provincial election.  The sense seemed to be that if the “real” Tim Hudak had been allowed to come out the Progressive Conservatives would have formed the government.

I think the public saw the real Hudak and took a pass.

While the Liberals still hold power at Queen’s Park, given the state of the economy, I think everyone in the province is going to take a haircut.  The demographic shift of the population to the western side of Canada; the  significant shift in manufacturing out of the province and the demands the health care system is beginning to make on the public purse are all coming together and will result in a significant change in what Ontario is going to be.

The province doesn’t have the revenues it used to have and the economy is sluggish at best and is going to remain that way for as long as this government is in office.  It is going to be tough.

Some of the deep thinkers see the province’s role as the “engine of the Canadian economy” coming to an end. Ontario is no longer the province that manufactures the tractors and the combines that are used to harvest western crops.  Technology is also in the mix changing everything.  McKenna is convinced Premier McGuinty made a critical mistake on the deal he made with Samsung for wind turbines.  That one hasn’t proven itself yet and one isn’t sure if McKenna arrived at that conclusion on her own or if she is spouting the party line.

In our half hour interview with the MPP, we did see a woman in the process of getting a good grip on the job to which she brings impressive energy and enthusiasm.  This is the best paying job Jane McKenna has ever had and she is being treated by her political party as someone to watch.  Standing before the 1600 delegates at their convention was a huge highlight for her. She actually got them to swing and sway to the beat of some “big sound” music.

In the close to six months she has been at the job, the Lady Jane has gotten out to dozens of “official” openings and has held at least one public workshop for Seniors where she arranged for people from a broad spectrum of service groups to explain what is available to them and how different services work and can best be accessed.

What Lady Jane has to determine for herself is if she is going to be a lightweight MPP who gets her picture in the paper at every opportunity or if she is going to buckle down, do the hard work and the studying and ask hundreds of questions and read much more than she has ever read in her life – and become an MPP that will make a difference.

She is currently the Vice chair of the Ethnic Outreach Committee for the Progressive Conservative party and the Children & Youth Services Critic for the opposition in the Legislature.  She has had responsibilities for tracking the Children’s Aid Societies for the PC’s.  And, as one politically astute observer noted, “Jane has one of the best seats in the Legislature, the camera will rarely miss her.”

The biggest provincial issue in this city is of course the re-development of the hospital but McKenna is sort of out of the loop on that one.  The hospital people need someone within the government to press their case and they rely on Ted McMeekin to take their arguments to the right people at Queen’s Park.  Ted, who was a Minister in a previous term of office and then was no longer a Minister but then was made a Minister again when the existing minister lost her seat.

She has energy, enthusiasm and more than enough chutzpah for the job. Can she bear down and do the reading and studying to become a truly effective MPP. Burlington wants to hope so.

Now that Ted, who is a very accomplished politician and very tight with the hospital people they see no reason to involve the Burlington MPP.  Joyce Savoline, didn’t do much for the hospital in her time as the MPP.  The one thing the hospital has to have is an advocate that will argue their case.   That Burlington has to rely on the Member of Legislature from a neighbouring constituency says something about the way politics is done in Burlington.

As an opposition MPP neither McKenna or Savoline were able to do very much.  McKenna can, if she chooses,  create opportunities to stand up in the Legislature and ask questions.  She’ll have to get on very good terms with the party whip; but if she’s any good at asking tough questions and fast on her feet with follow up questions, she will be given lots of time.

If you see the Lady Jane standing in the Legislature with a piece of paper in her hand reading a question, that is a sure sign that she can’t go with the flow and go up against the best of them.  Too early to tell if that talent is within her..  She certainly has the “cahonies” to pull it off.

The Burlington Progressive Conservative Association now has new leadership and has gotten away from the dreadful leadership Bert Radfordd  brought to the organization.  With a new executive in place they could develop a strong association that will keep the city blue for the next decade.

Burlington has managed in the past to elect representatives who made it into Cabinet and both ran afoul of the system, when they did things that were no no’s.  Should the PC’s form a government – is McKenna Cabinet material?  Not today – but who knows how she will develop; it’s up to her.  If she makes it into Cabinet the trick will be to keep out of trouble and stay very close to that ethical line.

It is going to take some time for Jane McKenna to create her own political profile in Burlington.  She brings the energy and enthusiasm that always helps in politics but it is going to take much more than a great smile to be truly useful.

The process of nominating her was a true political travesty but she didn’t make that happen.  The association just asked her to be the candidate for a political party she wasn’t even a member of at the time and she said yes..  When you ask McKenna if she would have even dreamed of being where she is today she will quickly say – “never” but she is the MPP for Burlington and she is working at doing the best job she can.

Time may show that Keith Strong and Ron Foxcroft are much better talent scouts than anyone realized.  Strong has a discerning eye and is very good at sizing up situations. McKenna was never a basketball player – so who knows what Foxcroft saw.



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Indecent act on Brant Street committed by male in a minivan.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 29, 2012  It was more than a jolt for the young woman walking south on Brant near Prospect when she noticed a silver minivan exiting from a private driveway on the east side of Brant Street near Prospect Street.

The vehicle stopped directly in front of the youth and the front passenger window was lowered.  The female observed the driver committing an indecent act while staring at her.

The minivan then travelled southbound on Brant Street and may have turned westbound onto Ghent Avenue.

The driver is described as male/white, late 30’s to early 40’s in age, with a scruffy beard, big black sunglasses and wearing a black leather coat.

Brant Street has seen other criminal activity – an armed robbery took place in the same area recently.

D/Sergeant Ray Bruce, Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau, 905 825-4747 x2315 would like to talk to you if there is any information you can provide.

If you’re not comfortable with talking to the police directly use Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).



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