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 hollanda@burlington.ca 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: gerry@redchairbranding.com


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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 www.haltoncrimestoppers.com 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 www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).



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Something odd about train passenger list – police can’t account for about 12 people – they seemed to have just walked away.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 27, 2012  Everyone had heard about the train accident within 15 minutes of it taking place Sunday afternoon.  For the people in the Queensway community I was meeting with mention was made of an almost identical accident four years earlier almost to the day – February 18, 2008 when 19 cars of a 139 car freight train jumped the tracks.

The city called a press conference for 9:00 pm at City Hall to update the media on the Sunday accident.  The bank of television cameras were lined up with all the wires stretched out and the prima donnas that stand before the camera were making sure they looked the way they are supposed to look.

The Mayor was on hand, the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief, the head of Emergency Medical Services.  They gave the media the information they had, answered all the questions, handed out contact sheets with all the information any media person could want – and then everyone left and the city hall atrium became a normal place again.

It was an eastbound VIA Rail train that went off the tracks.  There were five passenger cars with what was understood to be a manifest of 75 passengers.  The EMS people said they had moved 32 people within a 90 minute time frame to various hospitals.

What was odd was that there wasn’t one word said about the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) which is where ambulances would have shuttled injured passengers until there was no more capacity.  The JBMH is literally minutes away.  Hamilton hospitals got mentioned.

Photographers and television crews set up in city hall atrium for press conference on train derailment.

The press conference was told there were three people in the locomotive who were killed and that one of the three was a trainee.  We were told that two of the passenger cars flipped onto their sides.

Gary Sage, head of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the people that run the ambulances and take care of people who have been hurt, reported that getting 32 people out of the rail cars and to hospitals was an impressive achievement.

The Fire Chief explained that his people were on hand to get into the rail cars, which meant popping out windows and in some cases cutting into the cars to get to people.

There was some confusion with what was understood to be 25 people who could not be accounted for – they seemed at 9:00 pm to have just wandered off – which is odd for a train coming out of Niagara Falls and heading for Toronto –  these were not local people who would have somewhere to go.

No one was able to say just where they were.  The Fire Chief did say that his people had “secured the perimeter”.  In major accidents like this chaos tends to reign until the really seriously injured are taken care of and if helicopter evacuations are needed space has to be determined for them to land, get in and get out.

The names of the deceased were not released until next of kin had been advised other than to say that two were from the GTA and one outside the area.

It was city Manager Jeff Fielding who called the press conference to order.  He was also the man who directed  the questions from the media and kept things from getting unruly.  He’s a pretty direct guy.

The rail line belongs to Canadian National Railways (CNR) but when an accident of this nature takes place the Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, sends in teams of investigators and they begin the process of trying to figure out what went wrong.  It could be months before the reason for the derailment is known.

Monday morning commuters will use busses to get from the Aldershot GO station to either Burlington or Appleby Line.  There will be a lot of grousing and grumpy people – but by the end of the day things will be back to near normal.

What we saw was how our emergency people handle complex situations.   They did good.

Meanwhile, the police have a bit of a quandary on their hands.  They now have a copy of the manifest in their hands.  The manifest is the document that tells them how many people paid to get on the train.  It may not include the names of the passengers.  If a passenger went to a ticket counter and paid cash for their ticket there is no record of the person.

In an announcement police has said they “would like to ensure the condition and current location of those passengers. All passengers taken to area hospitals or who received treatment at the scene have been noted and reconciled with the manifest. However the current whereabouts of approximately one dozen passengers is unknown as they left the scene using their own mode of transportation.”

What we know then is that out of a passenger load of about 75 people there are 12 that left the scene of the accident on their own.  You can bet that there are a handful of very smart police intelligence types sitting around a table asking themselves some hard questions.  One or two may have decided to just get out of the area and head for home – but this wasn’t a commuter train – this was a Via train running from Niagara Falls to Toronto.

Something suggests to me that there are 12 people who don’t want to be found and they have hot footed it out of the area.  What the police want to know is: Who are these people and what were they doing on that train

February 28, 2012

Investigators are now confident that outstanding passengers on board the Via train from Sunday’s incident have now all been accounted for.  They do not say if any are in custody.




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Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?

Sarah O’Hara is a Burlington mother of two who realized that her degree in modernist literature wasn’t going to lead to work that had meaning or a decent pay cheque attached to it, so she sat down with her husband and worked out a plan that had  her recalibrating her career choices and now rides the GO bus to York University  (“get my reading done on the bus”) where she will earn a teaching certificate and hopes to be in a Halton classroom, maybe as soon as next year.

Sara is not exactly a community activist, but she cared enough about her neighbourhood to be part of a group that has nine people delegating to a City Council committee to get the Drury Lane bridge repaired and operational.

 Sarah expressed an interest in writing for us and because the publisher of Our Burlington wasn’t about to enter Tansley Woods where a couple of hundred women were looking at Botox and new make up and getting financial advice at the Burlington Woman’s Show – he knows when the territory is not man  friendly – so he asked Sarah if she would cover the event.  Here is her report.

By Sarah O’Hara

BURLINGTON, ON February 26, 2012  Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?  The Burlington Women’s Show, of course!  This afternoon I joined hundreds of other women at Tansley Woods Community Centre to meet dozens of local vendors promoting their products and services.  Upon entering I received a stamp on my hand of a “Sex and the City” inspired martini glass which permitted me to enter a world exclusively geared toward women and the things we love.

Tony Racco of Cosimo's Salon- a Burlington institution that has been in the Roseland Plaza for more than 50 years provided coupons for a free wash, cut and style.. That made our reporters day.

The first booth I stopped at was hosted by Cosimo’s Salon which has called Roseland Plaza their home for fifty years.  To celebrate their anniversary the booth was giving each visitor a coupon for a free wash, cut and style – valued at $79.10.  Wow – a great start to my day!  Tony Racco, the owner, did demonstrations on the main stage with two models, one in her twenties and the other in her fifties.  As he curled, brushed and styled, he spoke about the many eras his salon has been through over the past fifty years from the bouffant styles of the sixties, to the sticky back combing of the eighties, to the softer curls that are in fashion now.  He seemed confident and knowledgeable as he turned the older model’s tight cap of curls into a soft cloud of shiny waves.  Seeing him in action made me look forward to visiting his salon.

In the same area I spoke with Ken Arp, owner of Smart Betty, an internet-based daily deal company.  As an avid wagjagger, I was eager to sign up for their emails, especially after finding out that for each purchase made 10% goes to a local charity of your choice, including the ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), the Burlington Humane Society, and Women’s Cancer Centres.

I followed this with a trip to the Booty Camp Fitness booth, where Sandy Cordeiro filled me in on the details of a Burlington-based women’s only boot camp.  This was only one of many fitness-oriented booths throughout the centre, such as golfing, karate, dance classes and yoga.  It was nice to be able to pick up their flyers amid the many chocolate and cupcake giveaways that were prevalent at the show.

Of course it wouldn’t be a women’s show without the latest in beauty and anti-aging products.  Slavica McIntyre, a certified Xtreme eyelash stylist, promises mascara-free beauty with her $150 eyelash implants available at I Love Lashes located in Queen B’s on New Street.  There were also demonstrations of Botox-free oxygenated facelift systems, and Carol Fysh, a face many would recognize from promoting products on the home shopping channel, was there with her new anti-aging line Red.

Upon entering one room I was approached by a woman named Terezia who asked me if I would like a free sample.  Thinking of the chocolate and toothpaste samples already abundant in my large purse, I happily agreed.  I was somewhat disappointed when she ushered me onto a high chair and swiftly removed my carefully-applied eye makeup from one eye with a wet sponge.  She gravely told me that I have inherited thin skin under my eyes and that only her Hollywood Eye Magic tuck serum could help me.  She coated my left eye with the thick yellow serum and told me within ten minutes I would see a change that I would not believe.  After advising me not to change my facial expression she informed me that I could buy the serum for $100.  I promised her I would think about it.  By now the skin under my eye was uncomfortably burning and tight, so I made my escape to the closest washroom to clean it off.

More costume jewellery than an average eye could take in was to be found at the Women in Burlington event at Tansley Woods.

By now I was quite hungry, so I followed the smell of fresh bread until I found the Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill table, where I was treated to delicious brushetta and a glass of Chardonnay.  Next to them was The Water Street Cooker where I munched happily on a turkey wrap while chatting with the cooks about the supposed haunting of the old building where Emma and her family succumbed to strange deaths before the Old Lakeshore Road home was turned into a restaurant.  This mystique, coupled with the delicious fare, makes the restaurant a popular Burlington destination.

The main event was the fashion show, hosted by City Line’s Lynn Spence.  The gym was packed with women (and the odd man) in a horseshoe formation around the t-shaped stage.  If one ignored the tucked-away basketball nets and fluorescent lights she could imagine she was watching the catwalk at a chic big-city show.  Spence hosted with confidence, knowledge and humour.  She showed clothes from Sears, J. Michael’s, Laura, Melanie Lynn, and other local (and affordable) stores.  Spence gave tips on what styles best suit body types, what colours are going to be trendy this season (coral and orange) and how to make an outfit diverse – for instance, pairing a wrap dress with skinny jeans or removing a belt to make a dress a tunic.  Her motto was “[this is] clothing you can understand – that makes sense.”  The audience was enthralled and enthusiastic, applauding and cheering after each model.  Cosimo’s provided all the hair and makeup.

The Women’s Show of course boasted the expected accessories.  Jewelry, makeup, purses, scarves and belts were available from high priced designers, such as Breanne Morrow of White Feather Designs who studied how to pound copper in Mexico, to more affordable fun accessories such as those from Vixin, where I bought a Tiffany and Co. style bracelet for $10.00.

There were also booths I never would have expected to find at a Women’s Show, such as Investors Group.  Mark Murray, the consultant I spoke with, told me they are geared toward family planning and lifestyle goals, and why shouldn’t these be things women think about?  While I wholeheartedly agree that this is something that is important to both genders, I was more drawn to booths that concentrated on fun, beauty and glamour.  This explains why I did not even stop at the Funeral Planning booth, and I didn’t see anyone else do so, either.

Nickelbrook craft brewery was there, and its host, Kevin, told me that craft beer is now making up 20% of the local selling beer.  Coffee Culture was also present, giving away steaming cups of coffee and delicious looking squares for donations.

Of course, health and wellness centres abounded.  Premier Homecare Services offers PSW services as well as companion services to post-surgical or elderly home owners; Dr. Derek Jasek of Headon Chriopractic Wellness Centre told me about the importance of devoting time to flexibility and posture to dramatically increase your quality of life; the Healthy Self Clinic specializes in thermographic imaging to detect and prevent breast cancers instead of the more traditional mammogram option.  I was, however, surprised to see a booth called Brainworx.  Its owner, Patrice Shennette, told me that our brains are deeply affected by trauma, both physical and emotional.  She is confident that her method of converting brain waves to musical tunes, and then adjusting this music to reflect that which our brains made at birth, is key in allowing ourselves to maintain confident, strong and healthy lifestyles.

Several hundred woman spent Sunday at Tansley Woods enjoying all kinds of free treats and more advice than they could possibly use. A chance to get out of the house without the kids.

Sears Mapleview also had a table for the first time.  Carol, the marketing coordinator, told me their new, young CEO, Calvin McDonald, is attempting to make Sears more visible in the community.  On April 17 they are hosting a cosmetic and fragrance gala.  Tickets are $10 and $2 from each goes toward “Look good, Feel better,” for people who are living with cancer.  Canyon Creek will cater the event.

I left the Women’s Show with a bag full of flyers and samples, and a head full of ideas of how to look good, feel good and dress well.  The women at the show all seemed to share a camaraderie, chatting easily to each other while inspecting different products, comparing finds and generally just happy to be in a facility where everything is geared toward the wants and needs of most women.  The Women’s Show is a great way for women to get out and find local businesses that cater toward our needs.  I look forward to next year!

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What kind of a Mayor did you want? What kind of Mayor do you have? What kind of constituents does the Mayor have?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 24, 2012  It was, and still is, a very good idea.  It needed more time and after realizing that the quality of the submissions weren’t quite what he had in mind when he announced the event; Mayor Rick Goldring scaled back his Mayor’s Cabaret and announced a new date.

The event is a good one – it represents the first foray for this Mayor into sponsoring an event that becomes his legacy for the city.   Everything the Mayor does is political and he is on duty 24×7.  He gets calls to do the darndest things and show up at the most unusual places.  They range from cutting a ribbon at a barbershop opening to taking part in the handover of a cheque to a community group.

Every Mayor has to determine what kind of Mayor he or she wants to be.  Goldring needed his first year to get a feel for the office and to figure out how city hall really worked and then to pull together the team he needed to do his job and then settle into a pattern of relationships with his fellow Council members.

Mayor Goldring gets asked to attend all kinds of retail store openings - and he tends to attend. He also gets asked to take part in cheque presentations and when it is for a community group that is helping the disadvantaged - the Mayor attends willingly and hangs around for a lot longer than most do for the run of the mill photo-opportunity. Here the Mayor takes part in the presentation of a cheque for the Camelot Community Centre.

Goldring has done that rather well.  But the being a public Mayor is still a work in progress.  Should a couple of guys who have opened up a muffler shop with the money they got back from beer bottles that were returned to the Beer Store have the Mayor on hand to cut the ribbon for their official opening?  I mean, who really cares?

Is the Mayor supposed to be at the beck and call of anyone that has his phone number?  This Mayor does want to hear from people and he is a good listener.  For every politician the next election starts the day after the ballots for the last one are counted.

The Mayor is the voice of the community.  Should there be a community emergency – he is the guy who goes into a Command Centre at City Hall with the Fire Chief and runs the show.

Hamilton’s Mayor goes to public events and wears the chair of office – Goldring has yet to do that; he’s not that much of a showman and tends to be more low key.  However, he does get challenged with when to say no to a request that he appear.  Say no to a potential voter?  Not easily.

Mayor Goldring on the left and Joanne Taylor on the right with a student at the Camelot Centre. Goldring spent close to half an hour talking to the students and having a piece of cake with them; it was more than a photo opportunity. The Chief Magistrate performing at a high public level.

What is the balance to being the Chief Magistrate and at the same time being a politician running for office?  What kind of a Mayor does Burlington want?  How does Mayor Goldring hear what the public wants in terms of what the Mayor does and shouldn’t do?  It is a tricky business trying to be all things to all people.

Early in his mandate Goldring found himself surprised and a little non-plussed when people approached him in the super market aisles and wanted to shake his hand.  He was at times taken aback when people thought it was a big deal for the Mayor to show up at an event.

It took him awhile to get used to the change in his status and there were times when he dropped the ball – literally at the tossing of the first ball at a Burlington Twins opening season game.

Being a politician means being in the public eye – all the time – which plays total havoc on personal and family life.  The seven people who serve as Council members are out almost every evening, every weekend and whenever someone has something that is important to them.

Most politicians certainly go for the photo opportunity.  Some members of your Council head for the television cameras like moths to a flame.  All that media attention tends to warp a personality and as a result you get the kind of civic leadership you want because you put them in office..

What do you want your Council member to do for you?  Listen to you of course, but what happens on those occasions when the Council members want to hear from you and you don’t show up?

The bulk of the Council members wanted public input from the community and five of the seven held events in their wards inviting people to attend a short workshop where they got a chance to talk about some of the specifics in the budget ad to talk about the trade-offs they would like to see.  City Hall staff went to considerable effort to make the events interesting.

But the turnout was – well it wasn’t great.  Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven didn’t hold a public event nor did Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.  Both directed their constituents to the event the city held.  Councillor Taylor put on an event.  No one showed up.  Councillor Dennison held an event and 14 people showed up.  Councillor Sharman held an event – five people showed up.  Councillor Lancaster held an event ran two advertisements in a newspaper and distributed flyers and not a single person showed up.

Councillor mentioned at his event that there was a time when 45+ people attended his budget information sessions.  What has changed?

The seven members of Council are both civic minded people who are in the business of serving the public and getting re-elected.  And if you don’t think losing an election hurts both emotionally and financially – you’ve not been paying attention.

The seven people who serve you decide how much of your money is going to be spent on taxes and you can’t refuse to pay or take your business somewhere else.

Former Prime Minister John Turner recently told a television interviewer that “democracy doesn’t just happen”.  He got that right.




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If you know how to raise your pinky finger and can fake a British accent – Barb Teatero wants to hear from you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 25, 2012 For those who are of a monarchist bent – there is an opportunity for you to be the “Queen” at  Ireland House on Mother’s Day.   The event is one of three Museums Burlington is putting on with funds they received to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Barb Teatero, Director of Museums for Museums of Burlington, made the application for the funding of a program that has three parts and was given a grant of $20,400 which allows the Museum to put on the events with no entrance fees.

Along with tea being served at Ireland House on Mother’s Day, with someone impersonating the Queen, there is going to be interactive activities for the student crowd during the March break as well as an exhibit that will tour the city with a probable stop at Tansley Woods and City Hall – the details are still being worked out.  Teatero just got the cheque on Friday and it hasn’t cleared the bank yet – so details aren’t cast in stone yet.

The Jubilee is a government program designed to focus on the 6o years that Queen Elizabeth has worn her crown.  That’s a big deal and the government is right to spend money on marking this occasion.  The current government has decided it wants to make the relationship between Canadians and the Monarchy a little tighter than previous governments.  Relationships with the Monarchy are quite specific for Burlington.  While the city had never had a “royal” visit, it has had a citizen who saw quite a bit of the Royal Family even if those visits were a couple of hundred years ago.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

In the 1700’s Joseph Brant, an aboriginal who spent a lot of time in Burlington and was given 3,500 acres of land at the “head of Lake Ontario” for his service to the King.  That land is basically what we know as Burlington.  Elizabeth and James Streets were named after two of Brant’s children.

Not much attention is paid to what Joseph Brant actually did – it’s quite an impressive list of feats and worth knowing more about.  Most Burlingtonians know that the hospital was named after the guy and that’s about it.

Given to Joseph Brant by King George III with the inscription: "A Gift from a friend to Captain Brant`.

Brant travelled to England on two occasions and met with King George III in 1775/6 and again in 1785/6.  The practice in those days was for gifts to be exchanged and George III gave Brant a gorget made of silver with the inscription: “A gift from a friend to Captain Brant”.  A gorget is a piece of equipment that is worn around the throat by warriors. The item is the most important piece in the Brant Museum and is something borrowed by other museums around the world.  It is a priceless piece of history.


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Orchids on the move? Was the “lesson learned” turned into an advantage that might satisfy everyone?

By Pepper Parr


February 24, 2012  It is always very unwise to let politicians anywhere near the selection of public art.

Burlington made a wise decision a number of years ago when they selected the Imperial Cotton Centre for the  Arts as their third party public art advisers.

The placing of public art in the city has raised a lot of negative comment. Most people don't understand why the sculpture, a modernistic interpretation of orchids was installed in the middle of a busy road. There is a solution to this problem.

The first major project they took on was described at a recent Council Committee as a “lesson learned” – which had to do with the ‘orchids’ that now decorate a stretch of Upper Middle Road located just before the street dips beneath the railway tracks – which gives the average driver doing the speed limit all of 1.2 seconds to actually see the art.

While “provincial”  Burlington was convinced someone locally could have done a much better job for a lot less than the $100,000. the city paid for the three orchids, I think they had some local welder who thought he was an artist in mind.   The orchards are good art done by someone with an international reputation.

City Council last week had a major problem with paying as much as $35,000 for individual bus shelters that would adorn the entrance to the up and coming Alton community.  There was some hope that there would be some sculpture in front of the high school being built in the Alton community, but no one could agree on anything so they settled for fancy bus shelters.  Councillor Taylor couldn’t stomach that one and managed to convince his council members to put the kybosh  on that one and they did – almost.  Councillor Lancaster convinced them to defer rather than say a total no and asked staff to look into providing information on fancy bus shelters  more appropriate to the Canadian climate.  The examples given didn`t look as if they offered much protection on a cold winter day.  As soon as we get the pictures from the city hall staff member we will show those to you.

With the orchids on Upper Middle Road now a fact and with negative public comment still growing all admitted that the orchids were perhaps not the arts’ greatest moment in Burlington.

While the bus shelters got the boot,  art for the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre got serious attention.  Dan Laurie, a local insurance broker,  offered to put up a sum of money providing the city matched his amount on a two for one basis for something that would be installed on the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Additional donours have come forward and offered funds on the same basis.

Council wasn’t sure they wanted to have the city stuck with a situation where they had to put up two dollars for every one that someone decided to donate so they seemed to take a pass on that opportunity.

Our Burlington is a cogent observer of all things civic at city hall and there is a very, very simple solution to both getting acceptable art in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and stifling the howls about the art on Upper Middle Road.

This is not a true photograph but rather two pictures superimposed on each other - to give you an idea what the orchids would look like if they were installed on the plaza outside the Performing Arts Centre. The council members and city staff in the picture would not be part of the installation.

Move the orchids from Upper Middle Road to the plaza in front of the Performing Arts Centre. Whizzo! – everyone is happy.  To give you an idea as to just how magnificent those orchids would look in front of the Performing Arts Centre, we Photoshopped the Orchards into a picture of the Performing Arts Centre so you could see just how fine this would look.

In the “art” work we did, we included the Mayor, several Council members and some senior City Hall staff.  One might give some thought to having those people pose during specific events during the year – the public could buy peanuts to feed them with the profits from the peanuts going to offset the $500,000 the Performing Arts Centre is going to cost in the way of their annual subsidy.

There won’t be any problem moving the orchids.  Some people think they are in Jack Dennison’s Ward 4 but  he claims they are in Blair Lancaster’s Ward 6 – they are both right – the thing is in the middle of the road on a small floral island and they really aren’t in either ward, much to the relief of Dennison who doesn’t ever want to be touched with anything to do with the arts.  Jack just wants to pave those roads.


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Halton’s Crime Rate lowest since 1974; Drops 10.4% in 2011. Chief says low crime is a community achievement.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 23, 2012   An historic bench mark in public safety was achieved by the Halton Regional Police in 2011 with the lowest crime rate since regionalization in 1974.

Specifically, there were 1,259 fewer criminal offences reported in Halton in 2011 (13,678) as compared to 2010 (14,937), according to the Halton Regional Police Service’s year-end crime statistics which were presented at today’s Police Services Board meeting.

When Regional population growth is taken into account, this represents a significant 10.4% decrease in the overall crime rate since last year – and the lowest rate in 37 years.


Chief of police reports lowest crime statistics since the force was regionalized in 1974. Now he can retire, which he will do in June.

“When a community that is already as safe as Halton sees this kind of significant decline in criminal offences, it speaks volumes about how effectively everyone, including the police, the public, our community partners, and the media are working together for public safety,” said Chief Gary Crowell.

In more good news for home and business owners, Halton’s property crime rate dropped by 13.0%, with 10,025 offences committed in 2011. Crimes in this category include theft, breaking and entering, mischief, counterfeit currency, arson, fraud and the possession of stolen goods.

The breakdown of types of crimes committed remained virtually identical to previous years, with property related crimes comprising 73.3% of all criminal offences committed in the region; violent crime such as robbery, assault and homicide equalling 18.8%; and other crime such as prostitution and offensive weapons representing 7.9%.

One trend Chief Crowell is not pleased to see in the Region is an increase in motor vehicle collisions. Despite a 19% increase in traffic enforcement by police, motor vehicle collision totals were still 10.1% higher in 2011 compared to 2010 (up from 7,649 to 8,425).  Property damage collisions were up 10.5% and injury collisions were up 8.2% year over year. Of most concern, the number of fatal collisions increased from 13 in 2010 to 15 in 2011.

“As police, we are doing everything we can by using a combined approach of enforcement, education and engineering to improve traffic safety, however far too many people are still being injured or killed on our roads,” said Chief Crowell.

“There is no question distracted drivers, impaired drivers and aggressive drivers are posing a serious risk to themselves and others. I cannot say it any more clearly: motorists must slow down, focus on the road, and do not get behind the wheel while under the influence of any substance which could impair response or judgment.”

Crime rate is the number of offences committed per 100,000 people.  Statistics Canada and police use crime rate measurements to give the most accurate comparison of criminal activity between communities with different populations, and within a single community over different time periods.

The statistics paint a very satisfactory picture for a police chief heading into retirement.  Chief Crowley will turn in his badge and his weapon in  June .

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Get out the seed catalog and be ready to go on line and get a Community Garden Plot

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 23, 2012  While winter may not be quite done with Burlington yet – the good folks at Burlington Green are seeing beyond any snow we might get as they prepare for the launch of their first ever community garden plot program.

Registration for this program opens March.7 and closes April 1,  with a launch event at Centennial Hall.  The Grand Opening will be May 5th when Michelle Bennett expects to have all her guests on their knees planting everything from lettuce to cucumbers – whatever you want – as long as its legal.

The Mayor will be on hand, the Ward Councillor, city hall staff,  MPP Ted McMeekin and anyone else that can be rounded up.

Information about the Central Park Community Garden can be found at www.burlingtongreen.org  Click the Go Local Food Network logo on the home page, or under the Program pull down tab.

There are just 27 plots available - great location and parking as well.

Applications to register for a garden plot will open online March 7 until April 1st and in person on March 7 between 7-8:30pm in Centennial Hall at Central Library.  Reserve Wed. March 7th to come out as we’ll also be featuring a great video clip about why growing your own food matters, and have some of our 2012 Grow, Learn & Eat Healthy Series speakers attending.  This will be a good chance to find out what will be happening in the garden over the next season.

There are 27 (7′ x 12′) plots available and 2 raised accessible plots.   Once registration closes on April 1st plots will be assigned based on a fair lottery process. All will be notified before April 16th if they drew a plot or if they have been placed on the waiting list.  It is the only way in year one like this to be fair. Payment of $50 and signing the plot permit will be required to receive the gate and tool shed lock combinations to enter.  A meeting time to relay the signed plot permit and payment can be arranged with the Garden Coordinator, Michelle Bennett once you have been notified of receiving a plot, or by the first Gardener Meeting on Sat. April 28.  We will have some common use tools available in the tool shed.  There will be tap water and rain barrels, and washrooms nearby.

For those who may not draw a plot, Bennett advises you can volunteer.  There will be many volunteer opportunities to tend portions of the edible/pollinating gardens outside the fence, and the demonstration plot to keep as many people involved as we can.


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Mickey Mouse to teach at McMaster, Xerox scientist tells guests of growth opportunities with intellectual property.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 23, 2012  The Mayors “Imagine-Ignite-Innovate” speakers luncheon went just fine.  The room wasn’t chock full but the program was good.  Burlington business people learned that there was growth potential in developing intellectual property and using that property to give yourself a competitive edge.

There are two organizations along Mainway that do just that: Thordon Bearings and Ecosynthetix have created and continue to create products based on either patents they have secured or use trade secrets to put them ahead of others in the same field.

Xerox has done it with new products in the laser printing field and grew from a company that owned the photocopying market to one that is now heavily engaged in the short run printing business that brought full colour printing to a desk top in the office.

Paul Smith named a vice president of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada last September spearheads Xerox’s materials research activities through a team of 120 scientists and engineers. The research centre’s most recent innovations include advances in emulsion aggregation toner and the development of long-life photoreceptors. The centre has also played a key role in developing the next generation of solid ink, Xerox’s proprietary ink that melts to a liquid in the printer and because it does not use cartridges to hold the ink, reduces consumables waste by 90 percent compared to competitive office laser-based products.

Smith joined Xerox in 1995, and has held a number of management positions at the centre (XRCC), leading teams that have developed key materials for Xerox product platforms, including solid ink components and new inks for Xerox Phaser printers.

Smith received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Bath and was a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) fellow from 1995 to 1997.  In 2001, he received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He is a named inventor on 55 U.S. patents and has published 16 research articles.

Dr. Smith was introduced by Acting Dean Dr. Bob McNutt, who announced that the Disney Institute was going to partner with the Executive Education group at DeGroote and sponsor a session on Business Excellence.   The session, to take place at the Burlington Convention Centre April 25, will focus on teaching business leaders how to think differently.  “Bring your business challenges and we will show you a clear, simplified way of looking at the problems and seeing what’s probably already right in front of you – easy effective solutions”, said the promotional literature.

In the world of marketing there is the phrase :”brand extension” which is when you take a product that has a very strong brand and extend it to a different product.

Mickey Mouse is about to become part of the Executive Education branch of McMaster's DeGroote School of Business.

Take Disney – you immediately think of Disney Land and that gets you to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in less than a jump.  Disney has managed to extend their brand in the entertainment field very successfully.  Now they are going to try and extend the Disney brand into the field of executive education.  McMaster announced at the Mayor’s BEDC luncheon that the Disney Institute was going to become part of the Executive Education program at the McMaster DeGroote School of Business.  Folks that means Mickey Mouse is coming to Burlington and that perhaps we will be able to recognize Mac students by those Mickey Mouse ears.

Now that is brand extension – the kind of thing that makes marketing managers cry as they struggle to make their brand work for them.


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