It happens in our communities as well. Youth uses Facebook to threaten others; Burlington police arrest Oakville youth.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON January 16, 2013   Earlier in the week the Burlington detachment of the Halton Regional Police Service were made aware of a threat that had been posted on Facebook.

The threat involved a youth who had posted a picture of himself on Facebook holding a high-powered rifle with a caption uttering a threat towards another male.

This is NOT the picture the police found on Facebook but it is the kind of thing that misguided young men mostly put on Facebook pages. Burlington police were able to apprehend an Oakville youth before the threat he had issued went any further.

Police investigated and were able to determine where the photo had been taken which had members of the Burlington Criminal Investigation Bureau seize two shotguns, shotgun ammunition and the rifle depicted in the photo.  The accused was located and arrested without incident.

A 17-year-old Oakville male whose identity is protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act has been charged with Utter Death Threat; Use Firearm in Commission of an Offence and Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

We all know where this picture was taken: Newton Connecticut where 20 elementary students were killed by a young man with a rifle. Has the American gun culture reached Halton Region?

Threats of violence posted to social networking sites will be actively investigated by the Halton Regional Police Service in an effort to enhance community safety.

We tend to think this kind of stuff happens south of the border – it is happening here as well.  Parents need to be vigilant.

 

Return to the Front page

Driver of car that struck a 5 year old at a school crossing charged.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 16, 2013  On December 5th 2012, the Halton Regional Police Service Collision Reconstruction Unit commenced an investigation into a motor vehicle collision outside Maplehurst Elementary School on Plains Road East in Burlington.

A five-year old kindergarten student had been struck and seriously injured by a motor vehicle that also struck the school crossing guard.  Both parties had been on the crossing at the time, and both are now recovering from their injuries.

Location of the motor vehicle accident where a car struck a kindergarten student and a crossing guard.

As a result of this investigation, David Paterson, an 80-year old Burlington resident, has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act with Fail to obey school crossing stop sign – Community Safety Zone.

Mr. Paterson is scheduled to appear at Burlington Provincial Offences Court in March.

As Burlington population ages, and the city is expected to have an elderly population greater than those in neighbouring communities, this kind of accident is going to take place more frequently.  Seniors will insist on being allowed to drive.  Public transit is such that people can only get where they want or need to by driving a vehicle.

At some point most of us will have to turn in our driver’s license – painful and many of us will fight it.  But there comes a time when we should not be behind the wheel of a car.

That child was five years old.

 

Return to the Front page

Burlington Community Engagement Charter - Version two.

Burlington has engaged in the creation of an Engagement Charter, which was one of the recommendations in the 2010 Shape Burlington report.

The creation of the Charter has not been an easy task and the document has yet to be approved by Council and made city policy.

The document set out below is the second version of the Charter put forward by the Engagement Charter Team after considerable discussion with senior city hall staff.

This document is expected go through additional revision.

  Burlington Community Engagement Charter – Version two

  1. 1.   Introduction

 The Burlington Community Engagement Charter is an agreement between and among the City of Burlington Council (City Council) and the citizens of Burlington concerning citizen engagement with city government. It establishes the commitments, responsibilities, and fundamental concepts of this relationship, based upon the City Council commitments set forth throughout this Charter.

This Charter’s overarching objective is to bring meaningful citizen contribution and insight to city decision-making by enhancing communications and access to information for citizens, and to facilitate and enable meaningful citizen engagement.

Details of the charter actions are presented in the Burlington Community Engagement Charter’s Action Plan and Staff Guide.

The Burlington Community Engagement Charter does not supersede existing laws, by-laws, statutes or acts.

 3. Charter Vision and Mission Statement

 Vision:

Burlington aspires to become increasingly more engaged and connected with its community.

 Mission:

To provide Burlington citizens, members of City Council and City staff a plain language, living, policy and procedural document that guides and promotes active and meaningful citizen engagement in the City of Burlington’s planning, policy-setting and decision-making processes.

4. Burlington City Council Commitments:

To fulfill the vision and mission of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter, City Council makes the following commitments:

Accountability

The City of Burlington will be responsible to its stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions. [1]

Transparency

The City of Burlington will actively encourage and facilitate stakeholder participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the City of Burlington’s decision-making process is open and clear to the public.[2]

Early and Widespread Notification

The City of Burlington will provide early and widespread notification to citizens about proposed developments, policies, initiatives, and municipal projects.[3]

Delegation Process

The City of Burlington Council’s delegation process, which allows citizens to address Council and Standing Committees on issues, will be respectful and welcoming.[4]

Clear Language

The City of Burlington will use plain and clear language in documents and public communications that is more engaging and understandable for citizens than technical language and jargon.[5]

Openness and Access to Information

The City of Burlington will provide open data and information to the public in recognized and useable formats to facilitate healthy discussion of city issues. The City of Burlington will provide a variety of ways, including routinely available information in on-line formats, print material, and face-to-face opportunities for citizens, city staff and Members of Council to share information and, discuss ideas and options.

Community Feedback

The City of Burlington will inform citizens how their input was considered and used or why it was not used in City projects, initiatives and policy development.

Capacity Building

The City of Burlington will support citizens and community groups to develop their skills, ability, and confidence to participate effectively with respect to decisions that affect their community and lives. This support will involve education and information about City processes, initiatives, and policies, as well as supporting citizens’ ability to connect with other citizens on city issues.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

The City of Burlington’s public engagement processes will involve and enable the participation of the full range of its diverse population. [6]

Adequate Resourcing

The City of Burlington will provide adequate resources including staffing and budget to achieve the goals of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter and to implement and realize its recommendations.[7]

Measurement, Evaluation and Review

A public process will be established in which The City of Burlington will measure and periodically review the effectiveness of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter. Improvement based on the evaluation of the success of public involvement processes will ensure that the Charter is a “living document”.

Conflict Resolution

Regardless of the best intentions of all involved, conflict can arise in the course of an engagement process. Depending on the type of conflict and the issues involved, different resolution mechanisms will be appropriate. Conflict resolution is described in appendix “A”.

 6. Public Participation Spectrum:

 Five levels of engagement, referenced from the IAP2’s Public[8] Participation Spectrum will be used in City of Burlington community engagement activities. A more complete description of the IAP Spectrum of Participation appears in appendix “B”.

7. Bringing Charter Commitments to Life

 The Charter establishes important citizen engagement commitments by the Burlington City Council.  This section summarizes City of Burlington practices and procedures to both define and implement those commitments and to bring to life citizen engagement.

Early and Widespread Notification:

The City of Burlington will have an early notification system that provides early information about planned policy development, projects, issues, meetings, and events.  This system will include notice posted on the City website about topics to be considered by Standing Committees and City Council at least two months prior to the relevant meetings.  The notice will include staff contact information for citizens who may have questions or wish to provide early input.

To ensure that notification is as widespread as possible, the City will use a multi-media approach including local print media, the City of Burlington website, other relevant websites, on-line digital communication, social media, as well as reaching out to groups that might have an interest or would be affected by decisions.  The City of Burlington will establish a direct notification system to which citizens and groups can sign up for early notification through email, social media, or other means.

Staff Reports:

When citizens have been engaged on a city initiative; prior to submitting the staff report to committee or council for decision, staff will check with citizen participants to ensure the report accurately reflects citizen input. This is especially important for major issues and long-term planning, with the noted exception of the city’s development section of the Planning and Building department. Usually this will be done through a response summary document or report section.

 Talking with Council – The Delegation Process:

The City will publish a document outlining the delegation process as a guide for citizens.

 Staff Training and Performance:

Public engagement training will be provided to all staff who will be engaging

citizens to ensure consistency in the engagement process.

Community engagement practice will be reflected in staff performance expectations, and measured in the same way as performance of any staff core competency.

Communication and Outreach:

Relevant and important information will be available through the website and social media, making information accessible to citizens when they require it.

Making relevant information available in print form, including newspapers, the City Talk publication, and special mailings, remains of great importance for many citizens and stakeholders

Full use should be made of all available sources and reference copies should be available at city libraries and community centers.

Inclusivity and Accessibility:

Enabling participation requires removing barriers to enable citizen participation. Examples of enabling actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Meeting the needs of persons with disabilities; the city relies on the City of Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee; the Burlington Accessible Customer Service Guide: and the expert advice of City of Burlington Accessibility Coordinator. For more information on accessibility.
  • Using language that has been verified as being clear/plain;
  • prearranged, language translation; transportation; child care
  • options for participating online/digitally
  • Public involvement processes will consider ways to enable participation.

Citizen Advisory Committees:

Citizen Advisory Committees should provide both City Council and staff with a valuable array of experience, knowledge, skills, and community contacts, as well as being a source of informed advice on issues related to their Terms of Reference. For more information about Citizen Advisory Committees and enhancing their role and effectiveness, see appendix “C”.

 Capacity Building:

Capacity building will focus on increasing the number of participants, the frequency of participation, and knowledge, ability and skills of those involved to meaningfully participate in engagement processes.

Budgeting / Resourcing:

The City of Burlington will support implementation of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter by providing sufficient resources to ensure its success. These resources include:

  • Hiring of a full-time engagement coordinator at a senior level to manage the implementation and ongoing performance of the charter and related costs to support this function, and
  • Providing resources to implement the actions in the charter’s section – Bringing the Commitments to Life,  the charter’s outreach processes and the strategic actions described in the Burlington Community Engagement Charter’s Action Plan

Charter requirements will be met by city staff in their engagement work, and also by outside consultants or contractors hired by the city. Staff managing consultant-supported work will ensure that all external consultants are informed of Burlington’s engagement requirements and then advised on how to meet them. Advice will be provided by the city’s public involvement coordinator.

Measurement, Evaluation and Review:

Measurement and evaluation  will comprise a two-step process. Each community engagement plan will set out: its objectives; the steps to reach those objectives; and, specific and objective measures to determine success. At the conclusion of each project, staff will prepare a brief evaluation report assessing to what degree the success measures were met. The public who have participated will be asked to provide their assessment of the engagement activities as they are delivered, and these views will also form part of each evaluation report.

Each City department and the Engagement Coordinator will share responsibility for reviewing these evaluation reports as part of the continuous improvement process and create best practices to be shared and shortcomings to be addressed on an ongoing basis.

Evolution: The Charter and its implementation will be reviewed every year in the first two years, then every two years thereafter. This second level review will assess overall compliance and results, how to better the practice of engagement management, and the relevance of new factors, such as changes in technology and demographics that may influence the practice of citizen engagement.

These reviews will seek input from citizens, staff and members of city council and may include peer review. A key action in delivering continuous improvement will flow from the feedback provided to the community. Anticipated improvements will include using new technologies, engagement methods, the growth of staff competency, and the increasing capacity and participation of Burlington’s citizens.

The City will use a web-based reporting mechanism, similar to a report card, to inform the public of the City’s engagement performance in relation to the measures established by the Charter. Reporting will occur annually and the results will be posted to the City website.

Version 1 of the Charter

 

[1] Definition from City Council Procedural By-law 93-2010

[2] Definition from City Council Procedural By-law 93-2010

[3] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[4] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[5] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[6] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010, and the Report of the Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee, June 2010

[7] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April, 2010

[8] Note: The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) uses the term ‘public’ to refer to what the charter calls citizens, ‘community’ or ‘stakeholders’.

 

Return to the Front page

City hall is thinking 2.3% as a tax increase. Meed Ward likes 1.85% – this debate has just begun – there is much more to it than this.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON January 15, 2013   This is the time of year when your council members gather around the table they call the horse shoe and figure out how much of your money they need to run the city.

This Council committed themselves to a 10% increase during their four-year mandate.  Staff has come forward with a budget that calls for 2.3% this year – but that is just for starters.

Because taxes and elections go hand in hand Councillor Meed Ward let it be known that she kind of liked a 1.85%increase.

City Manager Jeff Fielding explained to the Council he serves that he was hoping the city would accept the 2.3% and work with him on what are being referred to as the growth items – that is things people want money spent on that are growth items.

Sound of Music will be coming to the trough asking for more money to grow their event.  The rules at city hall are in the process of changing and anyone, who wants additional money or new money, has to make a Business Case that gets reviewed by the city’s Executive Budget Committee (EBC) but not necessarily recommended by that committee.

Fielding wants Council to make these decisions.  He wants his people to look at the case, but not make it something city staff is advocating.

With a Staff recommendation attached to an additional expense, council members can point to staff and say ‘this was their idea’.  Fielding is the kind of city manager, who once said to this council: “Do your jobs” and he expects to keep their feet to the flames.

If there are tax increases it will be because city council decided to spend money – the buck stops right in front of the council members.  That will make for some squeamishness on the part of those council members who are, how do we put this, “at risk” of losing their council seats.

The city has just begun the budget debate process.  There is one critical date for the public and that is a Public Meeting to take place January 30th at the Burlington Art Centre at 7:00 pm.

One does have to ask: Why are these events always downtown?  Why do the people in the Orchard or the newly opened Alton Village, never mind Headon or the other communities well north of the QEW have to trudge downtown every time.  Admittedly, there isn’t much in the way of public space – the schools aren’t open in the evenings but surely there is a high school that has a gym that isn’t being used one night.  For those of you in Wards 3 and 6 – bang away at your council member.  Not at all sure why Councillor Craven doesn’t create a City Hall West (would he like to call it the West Wing?) and have the number crunchers trot out to Ward 1 and tell the budget story.

There is a lot more to the 2013 Budget – the binders for the Capital Budget and the Operational Budget were made available – one of the them is a couple of inches thick – need some time to pour through the numbers.

The city however doesn’t rely on staff to ensure that they don’t run out of cash.  At the end of the Budget and Corporate Affairs Committee meeting council slid into full Council mode and passed a quickie “interim tax levy by-law” allowing them to send out a tax bill before the 2013 Budget is approved.

Wouldn’t the private sector love to be able to do something like that.

 

 

Return to the Front page

Lakeshore to get dedicated bike lanes from Seneca Ave to Guelph line on a pilot basis.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 15, 2013  After four solid hours of debate and 13 delegations city council meeting in committee decided to go forward with a pilot project that will see bike lanes drawn out on Lakeshore Road between Seneca Avenue and run east to Guelph Line later this year.

Councillors Craven, Lancaster, Dennison and Mayor Goldring voted to send this to a city council meeting at the end of the month  Councillors Meed Ward and Sharman were opposed.  Councillor Taylor was not present.

Marking for bike lanes will be painted on Lakeshore Road and the middle lane now in place and used for left hand turns will be narrowed while the city runs a six to nine month pilot for putting bike lanes along all of Lakeshore Road.

The road markings will begin just as soon as the Region has completed their water main construction work which is expected to be sometime in September.  The trial will continue on into the Spring of 2014  with a report to city council sometime in April of 2014.

If the trial proves to be an absolute disaster Councillors Sharman and Meed Ward will be in a position to say “told you so” and Councillor Dennison will just have to duck.

The meeting at which this decision was reached was long and arduous with almost every possible reason for putting in the bike lanes and just as many reasons for not putting them in.

There were many arguments made that need public disclosure – they will follow later in the week.

 

Return to the Front page

Vandals take it out on the little merchants: two locations in one plaza are broken into along with six others in the city

Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 14, 2013   The Mountain Grove – Guelph Line – Upper Middle Road part of town took a bit of a hit from the vandals over the weekend.  Two stores were broken into along with an additional six stores elsewhere in the city.

Police investigate these crimes but they can’t be everywhere all the time.  Solid policing happens when community co-operates with police – if you see something that doesn’t look quite right – it probably isn’t quite right.

Give the police a call – they have enough in the way of cars on the road to get to almost any place in a couple of zip zips.

Return to the Front page

This council meeting didn’t pass the smell test this afternoon. Why so much conferring with legal counsel?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 14, 2013   They are back at their first Council Committee meeting and started out with the newly formulated Development and Infrastructure Committee which handles everything that the prodigious Scott Stewart produces.  The agenda was so long that it has to be published in two parts and managed at two sessions; the first this afternoon and the second this evening.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven chairs this one and is working towards having items that has direct impact on the public held at the evening session and other “stuff” held during the day.  The intention is to give the people paying for this road show as much time as they need to speak their minds.

Council did not cover itself with glory this afternoon.

The significant seven, add in three lawyers, and you don’t get a pass on a smell test. Wonder what Councillor Taylor would have had to say had he been able to attend?

At one point the Mayor slid out of his seat and tip-toed over to the city’s in-house legal counsel, Nancy Shea Nicol.  Sometime after that Shea-Nicol tip toed up to the horse shoe and whispered in the ear of chair Craven.

Shortly after that the outside lawyer, the kind that earn enough to wear the $1,500 silk suits and the cashmere winter coats, along with Shea Nicol and Blake Hurley, the other in-house lawyer, all trooped to the horse shoe and went into a closed session of council.

What’s the big secret?  Everyone knows the city is looking for a way to rezone land along the North Service Road between Walkers Line and Guelph Line, so that IKEA can buy the property and re-locate their store from Aldershot, where they appear to feel they have run out of space.

This city does not want to lose IKEA and it is apparently going to go through every hoop it can find to make that possible.

As one listened to the discussions this afternoon it was clear that there are some issues with the Planning Act and some of the Provincial Policies, which the city has to contend with.  It was abundantly clear too that the city planner, Bruce Krushelnicki,  is going to sign off on this one with his pen in one hand and the other holding his nose.

This is not going to be pretty.

They will be at it again this evening during which time it should be clearer as to just what it is they want to pull off.

One got the sense that everyone was standing in the foyer of a criminal court-house where people whispered to each other behind cupped hands.

There is a problem with getting IKEA into the site they want to buy and re-locate to, and that problems is not limited to just the rules and regulations they have to adhere to.

Drive along the section of North Service Road between Walkers Line and Guelph Line sometime and ask yourself if that road can handle the kind of traffic IKEA draws.

This problem needs much more serious thinking and if your planner isn’t 100% behind it – maybe it is time to take a pause.   When you have to turn to the lawyer time and again – you know something just isn’t right.  I think Burlington is better than this kind of approach.  Someone needs to press the reset button.

Run that “second best city in Canada to live in” thing by me again!

 

Return to the Front page

Talking Turkey: Lots of Turkey. Really. I’m talking about turkeys here which could include public art.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON. January 14, 2013  I have been watching and listening with a great deal of interest over the past few days to the ‘Idle No More’ movement that has erupted across Canada. There are many issues on the table, not the least of which is the desire by the people of the First Nations to be treated as Nations by the current Harper regime governing in Canada. In the midst of this activity – that had me thinking a lot about Canadian colonial history – I received a note from OurBurlington’s publisher, to remark on the recently announced winner of the Public Art Commission for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. His note to me read, “Can you comment on this in your next column? Be fair, but be very direct as well”.

I read the attached press release.  Peter Powning, from far-off New Brunswick, has won, with his design, Spiral Stela.  Included in the City of Burlington’s press release was an open invitation to the public to add ‘objects of significance’ or “cultural mulch” to his sculpture. “The artist will make a mould of the object, which will then be cast in bronze and added to a large band that encircles the sculpture.” Three times and two locations were provided so the public can participate:  Jan 31, 10-3 pm at the Central Library and 7 pm-9 pm at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, and also February 3rd at the Burlington Arts Centre from 2-4 pm. The final session will include an artist lecture and ‘creating session’.

The proposed sculpture: Spiral Stela, by Peter Powning, from far-off New Brunswick.

Well, here’s my opinion about all that. (Remember I’ve just been listening, watching and learning from the Idle No More movement … )

I agree to participate in the ‘cultural mulch’ ceremony that will ‘imprint’ objects of significance – presumably from Burlingtonians – onto this foreign object, for posterity. To that end, I will bring a swatch of plastic grass to commemorate the winter of 2009 when our City Elders sold out a piece of our irrefutably unique natural heritage, now known as City View Park in North Burlington, at Kerns Road and Dundas Street, to the Pan Am Games organization of Toronto.

The DESIGN for this largest parkland area in Burlington, supposedly protected under the Greenbelt Act and the Niagara Escarpment Commission, was transformed in the 11th hour by City staff and members of our previous – and current –  City Council into a ‘sports tourism destination’ without any public consultation with immediate residents, or an Environmental Impact Assessment that analyzes how tons of plastic grass will impact this environmentally sensitive era. Thems the facts.

Initially conceived as a “recreational” diverse ‘natural’ parkland area for ALL to enjoy, this park has – and will – become a ‘member’s only’ fenced-in facility geared towards ‘tournament grade’ soccer.  In short, WE, the tax-paying public, have lost OUR park, an important local natural heritage ROOT.

There MAY be an opportunity to regain this park after the Pan Am Games in 2015 when the toxic artificial turf carpets must, by law, go to a hazardous waste facility. (Plastic grass expires every 5-8 years. Two of the plastic carpets were laid in 2011. The ‘tournament’ field and flood-lit stadium will be installed in the fall of this year, or spring of 2014. So, somewhere around 2020, that toxic gunk will have to come out.)

City View Park: Before plastic grass installation, this once-living landscape had to be scraped ‘clean’ and made pan-cake flat.  Photo by Margaret Lindsay Holton.

At that time, it will be up to the NEW City Council to determine if taxpayers funds will be utilized to re-carpet this smothered ground again with million dollar plastic turf, OR, alternatively, whether they will finally have the good sense to rejuvenate this slowly dying eco-system with real growing grass, and, by so doing, provide an essential ‘natural habitat’ for animals (including humans), birds, insects and earth-churning worms. If so, they will also have the opportunity to remove the restrictive fences. This action alone would once again allow all forms of life to freely traverse across this unique open landscape. Living creatures could once again forage within this distinct portion of our section of the designated UNESCO Biosphere, known as the Niagara Escarpment.

Will they do it? Who knows.

Perhaps, years ahead, when Burlington has become the utopian Jersey Shore of the Golden Horseshoe, with electric light-rail transit zipping through the landscape powered by solar and geo-thermal energy, and the old-time ‘locals’ are long dead and buried, newly arrived residents will wonder aloud about the lunacy of previous City Elders who covered their ever-diminishing living-giving-breathing Earth with Life-defying plastic, especially in a ‘protected’ PARK. They may wonder why these turkeys so deliberately eliminated a vital and tangible connection to our communal Burlington natural heritage, the Niagara Escarpment. That is, of course, if they know how to wonder at all.

It is a very real possibility that this on-going eco-travesty will just be forgotten.   Taxpayers will duly pay the exorbitant replacement costs for a PRIVATE ‘members-only’ tournament soccer facility in a PUBLIC park, and the wildlife that does still roam and roost throughout North Burlington’s escarpment terrain will just quietly die off … A dull robotic monoculture of humans will survive on imported genetically modified foods. Tax-enslaved workers will buy FRESH water from off-shore nations who did FIPA-like deals under Harper’s regime. Children will learn programming before they can speak. And ‘play’ itself will become a forgotten IDEA buried under intense competition to host tournament-sport ‘tourism’.

Still, I have hope.

On the first dawn of this New Year I looked out the frosted windows at the farm in North Burlington and watched as twelve robust wild turkeys emerged from a conifer stand and slowly began to forage across the snow-covered yard under the bright winter sun. It was a stately, near sacred, sight to see.

Where had they come from? Where were they going? And why did there seem to be so many?

I had to do some sleuthing.

Author tracks multiple wild turkey tracks.  Photo by Margaret Lindsay Holton.

 Wild turkey was originally native to Ontario, but they disappeared at the turn of the last century due to rapid colonization, habitat destruction and unregulated hunting by settlers.  In brief, we killed off the species.

But, in the mid 1980’s wild turkeys were re-introduced at 38 different release locations in southern Ontario through a program to “restore our natural heritage, provide fowl for hunting and viewing recreation, and derive economic benefits.”  (Ministry of Natural Resources). Begun in 1984, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, launched a reintroduction program that began with just 274 birds.

Stock from the wild turkey populations of New York, Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee were often ‘swapped’ for wildlife species from this province: moose for Michigan, river otters to Missouri and Nebraska, and gray partridge to New York state. Today, wild turkeys have adapted to our agricultural farmlands totaling somewhere between 60 to 80,000 wild birds.

Turkey hunting season officially began in 1987, and was initially restricted to a spring hunt. But in 2009, a fall hunt was introduced.  Only bearded toms, (mature male turkeys), are allowed to be harvested. ‘Turkey season’, (April 25th, after the peak breeding season, until the end of May), has now been established in most rural areas in Ontario. This hunt is also open to hunters from outside the province.

Wild turkeys are known as promiscuous breeders. Most individual adult males will mate with multiple females. Hens lay a clutch of 10-12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. Young males are commonly called ‘jakes’ and young females are ‘jennies’. They consume a wide variety of wild foods, including hard mast (acorns, seeds), soft mast (wild grapes, raspberries), green vegetation, and insects. In areas where natural habitats have been replaced by agriculture, turkeys may also feed on domestic grains, like corn, buckwheat, alfalfa and/or soybean. Young turkeys (poults) feed almost exclusively on insects for the first several weeks of life. Insects provide poults with the high-protein diet that they require for rapid growth. A 2-3 week old turkey can eat several thousand insects a day. As you can see, wild turkeys, like all wild critters, need a diversified  living habitat in order to survive.

Wild birds die after ingesting bright bits of PLASTIC, mistaken as FOOD.

Other predators, besides humans, such as coyote and raccoon, are capable of snatching young turkeys, but most are no match for a mature fighting tom. Wild turkeys can run up to 40 km per hour and fly as fast at 90 km per hour. They can cover over 20 miles per day in search of food. A male tom can be up to 4 feet tall (!), and weigh over 30 pounds. Females are, on average, about half that size. Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day, but can hardly see at night. They roost high off the ground, usually in trees, at dusk. Conifers often provide thermal protection for roosting turkeys so they can conserve energy under extreme cold and windy conditions.

Wild turkey roosting in trees at night fall.

The sale of turkey licenses per annum contributes over $250,000 to wildlife management programs in Ontario. The annual spring and fall hunts generate economic activity for the province worth $2.3 million. (So says the Ministry of Natural Resources).

As of 1999, the use of live decoys, electronic calls and baiting for the purpose of hunting wild turkeys was prohibited. Finally, only a landowner, with a valid firearm license, may shoot wild turkeys that are damaging or about to damage their property.

Obese domestically raised 20 pound turkey carcass in a kitchen sink.

Can wild turkeys hurt you? Any wild animal when cornered or harassed may attack. So, if concerned, call in an expert. Note, only a registered turkey hunter or landowner (with a valid firearm license) can shoot wild turkeys.

All in all, the reintroduction of wild turkey in this province has been a success. Wild turkeys are thriving once again in Halton County in rural North Burlington. Due to human initiative and determination, this formerly extinct species has re-established a solid toe-hold in this, our home and native land. Their reintroduction has, as promised, added to the natural heritage of Ontario. The growing populations are providing viewing as well as hunting recreational activity and, as such, they are adding revenue to our economy.

If we, as humans, can do that over the short course of twenty odd years, surely we can a) improve our dialogue with Canada’s First Nations, and b) bring back City View Park to a ‘natural state’ for future generations.

I wonder what plastic grass looks like when it’s cast in bronze …

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.

Return to the Front page

Public art jury got this one right. Intriguing piece of art in a great location. Kudo’s to Dan Lawrie for putting up the cash.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 14, 2013   It took long enough, but the best of the three finalists in the most recent public art competition was announced today.

Peter Powning’s work, Spiral Stela, has been selected as the winning design for a public art installation at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Powning, of New Brunswick, was selected from a group of 119 artists from around the world who submitted designs for the project.

This Cooke-Sasseville piece had a lot of energy and colour and a level of detail that isn’t apparent from a photograph this size.   Was there a concern that the colour would fade over time?

This piece by Aaron Stephen was to be installed at the side of the Performing Arts Centre where it would not get the  exposure that was hoped for.  There was an immense amount of detail for the public to take in but the height on the piece on the side of the building might have made it difficult to fully appreciate.

A jury of local residents and cultural arts experts short-listed applicants to three finalists. More than 500 residents gave feedback, online and in person, on the three designs. After reviewing public comments, the volunteer jury selected the winner.

The jury included: Ian Ross, Executive Director of the Burlington Art Centre; Emma Quin, Executive Director of the Ontario Craft Council and Trevor Copp, Artistic Director of Tottering Biped Theatre

Because Burlington has difficulty with artists who don’t “come from here it might be a useful exercise to show all 119 applications – let the public understand what the jury had to work with.

The spiral will be 16 feel tall and will be outside the Performing Arts Centre for many,many years.  How will Burlingtonians take to the piece and how will the artist decide what to “decorate the piece with?

The nature of the Powning piece of art is such that Powning now needs to meet with the community and solicit objects that can be included in the final fabrication.  This is a truly exciting aspect of the design.  Clearly there will be lots of WW I and WW II medals brought forward for inclusion but what else will the residents of Burlington come up with?

We are about to see just how imaginative the residents of the city can be.  Whatever is selected will be part of the sculpture that will be outside the Performing Arts Centre on Locust Street for many, many years to come.  Hopefully the city will promote the daylights out of this and use every possible media and not just their favourites.  If there was ever an event that could put social media to the test – this is it.  City hall doesn’t understand social media and is to some degree afraid of it – this could be their opportunity to see if it will work for them

The artists might have a budget to get his need out to the public and the  Performing Arts Centre could, hopefully, turn its promotional guns on this one.  Whatever gets brought forward and used in this sculpture will be around for a long, long, long time.  At least as long as the Pier and we are going to spend $20 million on that sucker.

The objects in this illustration are examples of what have been used on other sculptures – this is an opportunity for Burlington to put its memorabilia on display and have it become a part of the public record.  A spike from the old CNR line that ran along the edge of the lake?  A can from the cannery that used to be on the water’s edge.  The only limit is our imagination.

Will someone put in a call to the Historical Society and get them involved?

Powning is calling the meetings at which residents bring in their objects “cultural mulch”.  The artist will make a mould of the items chosen. There will be a significant number of items used.  The molds will them be used to form the bronze castings that will be part of the final sculpture that is expected to be installed during the late summer of 2013.

There will be three “cultural mulching” sessions at the end of January and early February.

Central Library

2331 New Street,  Holland Room  Thursday, January 31 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Burlington Performing Arts Centre

440 Locust Street,  Main Lobby – Thursday, January 31 – 7 to 9 p.m.

Burlington Art Centre

1333 Lakeshore Rd., Lakeshore Room – Sunday, February 3 – 2 to 4 p.m.

Drop by one of the sessions below with an item to contribute to the project.  See it as something like one of those Antique road shows that are televised – but this time you’re not selling something or learning what its value might be you – you are becoming a part of the city’s history.

After his lecture in February Powning will be looking at objects people have brought in and. according to a statement from the city, casting the objects that day.  People are asked to bring in just one object each.

Powning is not new to Burlington.  His work is represented in the Burlington Art Centre’s Permanent Collection with five pieces.  The city also saw some of his work during the East Coast Potters exhibit.  His work is not currently on display but one can expect that to change.

Powning will give a short lecture about being an artist, whose work ranges from vessels to large-scale public art.  He will talk about his experience responding to RFPs and working with municipalities/developers.  An opportunity for Burlington artists to hear what a commercially successful artist has managed to do.

Spiral Stela continues the successful career of Powning who has completed several public art projects across the country and whose work can be seen at solo exhibitions worldwide.

This sculpture came to be when  long-time Burlington resident and successful business owner Dan Lawrie, decided the Performing Arts Centre should have something outside the building and offered to fund a portion of the cost.  Some members of city council wanted a bit more than Lawrie was prepared to put up, and the $37,500 cheque he did write isn’t exactly chump change.

The work is scheduled to be installed in late summer of 2013.

Return to the Front page

Police need help identifying two males suspected of thefts from vehicles and fraudulent use of stolen credit cards

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 10, 2013  If there was ever any doubt on the message behind the Regional Police Lock it or Lose It campaign these photograph  should convince you to lock you car and never leave valuables where they can be seen

A Beachway Park resident left a purse in a car that had a credit card inside it. The purse was stolen and the credit card used at a nearby ESSO gas station and at an area Best Buy location

On January 6, 2013 a purse was stolen from a vehicle at Beachway Park and a stolen credit card was later used at a. nearby ESSO gas station and at an area Best Buy location

Police believe these two men are responsible for thefts from cars in the Beachway Park community and for the fraudulent use of credit cards stolen from those cars.

On January 9, 2013 police were once again notified of a purse being stolen from a vehicle while parked at Beachway Park.  An attempt to use a stolen credit card was made later that day at a Burlington business.

In the January 6th  incident the suspects were observed in a 1999 Black Dodge Ram 1500 with an Ontario plate of AA76725 affixed.  The truck had been previously reported stolen from the City of Toronto.

SUSPECT #1 – white, 30-35 yrs of age, 5’11”, average build with a fair complexion, wearing a black toque, brown plaid scarf (Burberry style), black waist-length coat, blue jeans and white running shoes

SUSPECT #2 – possibly south asian descent, 25-30 yrs of age, 5’10”, heavy build, wearing a black toque, plaid scarf, black waist-length leather jacket, blue jeans and white running shoes.

There have been car thefts throughout the region.   Time to be more careful.

These are probably crooks from Toronto.  Anyone with information that would assist in identifying the pictured individuals 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 274627(crimes).

Return to the Front page

What happened to the 72 hours’ notice? ask parents. Burlington Museums do their bit.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 10, 2013   When the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO) announced they were going to hold a day of protest and not report for work the Halton Board had no choice other than to announce that schools would not be open.

The Board put out its notice which gave parents a scant 48 hours to find a place to put their kids for the day.

The protest on the part of the EFTO decision comes close behind an Ontario government decision to use Bill 115 (Putting Students First Act ) to impose contracts on teachers and education workers.

The teacher protest is against the Bill which was used by Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten at the start of 2013 to impose contracts on teachers and education workers.

This is what classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side-walk outside.

The teachers appear to be saying ‘we don’t give a damn’, we are angry and we want the public to know it.   There will be all kinds of ‘toing’ and ‘froing’ about how irresponsible the teachers are while their union goes on about losing their democratic rights.

“The minister made a deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators rather than work towards a respectful solution,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond, in a news release.

“She could have taken our olive branch and waited for a new leader to try to find solutions, but she chose not to.”

Meanwhile parents scramble.

Museums Burlington is doing their bit to help out by opening up their community resource and offering their Museums as a program facility and service for learning and play on Friday January 11, 2013.  They quite correctly called the service a Strike Camp – useful helping hand on the part of the Museum people.

Their program day would take place from 9:30am to 3pm at Joseph Brant Museum at a cost of $20 per child, not including lunch or refreshments.

You can get more information at 905-332-9888.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Are we about to see a significant, and perhaps more effective, approach to citizen involvement?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 8th, 2013  The “new” Waterfront Committee is certainly different from the one that had its wheels taken away from it.

The city decided to sunset the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee that was created during the Cam Jackson era.  It was a good idea that was politically motivated (nothing wrong with that – just recognize why it got created in the first place) and it never really got a chance to find its way.  The city tired of it, used an administrative reason (duplication) to get rid of the thing and it was a dead duck.  Those dead ducks weren’t prepared to give up quite that easily and with the help of Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward they reconstituted themselves as a citizen led committee on the Waterfront and have set up shop in the office of the Councillor.

The old gang decided they had a good thing going and who cared if the city sunset them – they would continue to do their thing under a different name: Bob Wingfield on the left with Gary Scobie, Jeff Martin and Marianne Meed Ward who decided she would convene a waterfront committee.

Too early to tell how this might pan out but they have already done a couple of things the sunset committee wasn’t able to do – and that is communicate with people.  They have created a Twitter account and expect to have their very own Facebook page in place soon.    City policy didn’t permit Advisory committees to communicate directly with the public.  Burlington is still taking baby steps with a technology that has swept the rest of the world.  The people responsible for communications and communications policy at city hall haven’t managed to understand the role social media plays in the way the rest of us communicate.

The “new” Waterfront committee also made the important decision to meet in the evenings when it is convenient for the public to attend.  Most of the original committee made the move to what is now to be known as the Burlington Waterfront Committee (BWC).  They now need to determine who their chair will be and have taken a rather unique approach to this task.  There will be a person that “convenes” the meetings, but that person will not be the chair.  This was due, in part, to make it clear that while Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward has her fingerprints all over this group – it is not a Meed Ward organization.

Someone else will be the chair and serve as the spokesperson.  Bit of a problem at this level in that there isn’t much in the way of actual leadership talent on the committee.  The members, and there is representation from each ward, are decent, passionate waterfront people with a deep, genuine concern for what happens to the waterfront.  Being passionate about something doesn’t necessarily equal leadership.

The one person who can do that job is Bob Wingfield who so far hasn’t volunteered but just might accept a draft if his fellow committee members push hard enough.  Wingfield could handle this for a few years, might take as much as three, while he develops and nurtures new and younger talent on the committee.  Right now I don’t think there is anyone under 55 on the committee – with the exception of Meed Ward.

The committee is creating its strategy; it has a full list of things it wants to get done – many of which are holdovers from the original committee.   The new Burlington Waterfront Committee (BWC) is not there to advise – it can now advocate and push for solutions to some of the stickier waterfront problems.

The matter of access to the waterfront is one that needs attention.   City hall is sitting on its hands over both waterfront encroachment issues as well as access issues.  There are people along the waterfront who have put up barriers that prevent others from getting to the edge of the lake on what is city property. The BWC can now delegate at council meetings and push for some action.

This version of the waterfront committee thinks in terms of a budget and talks about fund-raising whereas the old committee didn’t see itself spending the $5000 budget it had.

Meed Ward moved $500 of her 2012 $9000 expense into a trust account at city hall and ear marked that for BWC and then, just as soon as the New Year was legit, she moved another $500 over giving the BWC a total of $1000 to work with.  There was the suggestion that council members from each ward might want to allocate some of their expense allocation to the committee.  Ward 5 Councillor Sharman and Ward 2 Councillor Craven have waterfront interests.  Be interesting to see how they respond.

This newly created committee just might be the vehicle that opens up the current Advisory committee system the city has.  Heritage Burlington has done a superb job on how to preserve the heritage properties we have.

Brought in specifically to lead the review of the Official Plan Gummo got off to a very good and very strong start; the city was about to see a much different and more agressive review of its Official Plan than it had in the past.

The original committee had difficulty getting traction on a number of key issues that related to the city’s Official Plan which was up for its five-year review this year.  They decided that Old Lakeshore Road issues and waterfront access could be taken to the Official Plan Review (OPR), which was a great idea.  The OPR has stumbled with the very sudden “retirement” of Alan Gummo. Many expect that the OPR schedule is going to slip by as much as six months and perhaps as much as a year.  Unfortunate; Gummo was providing just the kind of leadership this task needed.

In putting together their budget the committee penciled in funds for speakers suggesting they want to invigorate the community with new ideas and get a real dialogue going.  That is going to need some fund-raising which this group seems more than prepared to take on.

It is indeed a much more focused committee that should serve the waterfront interests of the city quite well.

The Terms of Reference they are creating puts one little wrinkle into the longer term plans – the Ward 2 Council member is a large part of what the committee is setting out to do: what if the Ward 2 council member is challenged at the next municipal election and loses?

 

Return to the Front page

Ok – how did this happen? You locked yourself out of your car while stopping for a red light. Hmm

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. January 8th, 2012  We call them awkward situations.  They happen.

We don’t want to identify or further embarrass the driver of this car but somehow she got herself locked out of the vehicle while stopping for a red light on Upper Middle Road Tuesday afternoon.

You slide the coat hanger in carefully and wiggle it until it catches the lock window button and then give it a quick tug and the window is open – right.  Yeah, but it usually takes many tries before it works

Another driver came along and used the old coat hanger trick to get the door open.  Few people manage to get that coat hanger around that window button the first time – this guy certainly didn’t.

They were still working at it when we pulled away from the scene of the mishap.

They were still jiggling the window button when we passed.

The Canadian Automobile Club has a service that includes getting drivers out of situations like this – they have a device the slide into the door of your car and it pops open in less than three seconds.

I wasn’t able to ask – how did this happen?  It must have made for good dinner table conversation.

 

Return to the Front page

Construction starting on Guelph Line in Burlington; expect delays – look for alternate routes.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 8, 2013  One of the busiest thoroughfares in the city is going to get squeezed a bit which will reduced the flow of traffic, while the Region replaces the waste water main crossing on Guelph Line just north of Mainway

This project is expected to be completed by the end of January.

These traffic lanes are going to be narrower for the balance of the month while waste water mains are replaced. You might want to look for alternate travel routes. Construction will take place north of Mainway.

The project starts on the 10th – and is expected to last till the end of the month. Look for lane restrictions and delays. Emergency vehicles will get the priority they need.

The Region refers to this necessary work as part of Building a Better Halton, the Region’s infrastructure construction plan for roads, water, wastewater, and waste management projects across Halton Region:  Happy talk at its best.

The flow of traffic north and south on Guelph Line is significant during the rush hours – for those who can, looking for an alternate route into the core and back home might be a good idea.

 

Return to the Front page

How similar and different were Winston Churchill and McKenzie King? Lecture at Central Library on book about these two man.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 8, 21013  Terry Reardon, historian and former Director of The International Churchill Society of Canada, introduces his bracing chronicle of the collaboration of two celebrated and very complex heads of state. Winston Churchill and McKenzie King.

For Churchillians – this is a must not miss event.

While Canada is still not appreciated as the major player it was in conferences and on the battle fields of WWII – research is bringing to light the role we did play. Prime Minister McKenzie King was a part of two very significant conferences involving US president Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Terry Reardon will talk about the personalities of Churchill and King at the Central Library.

With scholarly rigour and insight, Terry Reardon traces the intriguing similarities and the startling divergences in the background and prior achievements of both men, examining their alliance in riveting detail through the war years and after.

Terry Reardon speaks at the next Engaging Ideas lecture and discussion event, presented by A Different Drummer Books in partnership with Burlington Public Library, on Monday, January 21 at 7pm in Centennial Hall, Burlington Central Library.

Tickets are $10, available at the bookstore and at the third floor Information Desk at the Library.  This should prove to be a very popular event; To reserve seats, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.


Return to the Front page

Kilbride collision puts two in hospital – shuts down road for more than four hours. Serious but not life threatening injuries.

 

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 8th, 2013  A serious collision on Cedar Springs Road in the Village of Kilbride, shut down traffic for a four and a half hour period while the Regional Police Collision Reconstruction unit investigated.  Alcohol use is not being considered a factor.

Shortly after 6:00 pm, a white Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling north on Cedar Springs Road, approaching the intersection with McNiven Road, when the vehicle crossed the centre line and collided with a southbound VW Jetta being driven by a 36-year old Burlington woman.

Intersection on Cedar Springs Road where accident put two in hospital.

After being extricated from her vehicle by Fire Department personnel, the female was transported to Hamilton General Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.  The driver of the Dodge Ram, a 58-year old Puslinch man was transported to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in Burlington with less serious injuries.

Police will not be releasing the names of the involved drivers, and due to the early stages of the investigation, no comment will be made on charges, although alcohol is not being considered as a factor.

Anybody with information regarding this collision, who has not already spoken to police, is asked to contact the CRU at (905) 825-4747 ext. 5056 or 5065.


Return to the Front page

Robber breaks into cars big time – has been charged with 17 counts of theft. Many from cars with unlocked doors

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 7, 2013  Is it because we are the second nicest city in Canada to live in?  Is it because we perceive the city to be a safe place so there is nothing to worry about.  OK, so there are a few break ins, some small thefts but we don’t have a crime problem do we?  Our homes are safe places and our cars are safe in our driveways – aren’t they?

Apparently not. Halton Police recently arrested a man and charged him with 17 offenses – all related to breaking into cars – and there wasn’t much breaking in to do – most of the cars were left unlocked.

On January 3, 2013 at 3:30 a.m., an alert citizen,  in Acton, contacted police to report a man breaking into vehicles on his street.

A concerted response by uniform officers resulted in the quick arrest of an Acton man who when apprehended, was in possession of several stolen items.

The investigation to date has determined multiple vehicles were entered on Greenore Crescent, Cameron Street, Kingham Road, Church Street East, Gould Crescent, Wright Avenue and Birchway Place all in Action.  If it is happening there – it can happen here as well

Jeffery McBEAN, 26 has been charged with 17 counts of Theft under $5000 and two counts of possession of stolen property.

Deputy Police Chief Andrew Fletcher (he’s the one with all the gold braid) and Auxiliary police officer Voorberg putting a notice on a vehicle that had objects of interest to thieves. This was the kick off of the Lock It or Lose It campaign.

The vast majority of the incidents involved vehicles that were left unlocked, this despite a recent Provincial Campaign, ‘Lock it or Lose it’, aimed at urging motorists to lock their vehicles and keep valuables out of sight.

These particular crimes are largely preventable by simple crime prevention techniques including:

–  Parking in an enclosed garage OR well lit area.

–  Never leave valuables in plain sight OR remove from vehicle entirely.

–  LOCK your vehicle.

Residents in the Alton Community,  north of Dundas and west of Appleby Line,  have a system that allows one person to tell others electronically that something is going on.  The Alton resident’s, who have organized themselves with an electronic service that gets word out on problems in the community, sort of like an electronic Neighbourhood Watch, recently sent out an alarm and the person breaking into cars was nabbed.

This reporter was taking part in the media event at which Halton Police launched their Lock It or Lose It drive and got a notice from police on the spot that he had left a purse sitting in the front seat of the car and got a warning notice.

It is surprising that cars being broken into are not stolen as well.

Lock it or Lose It – these guys are out their – 17 charges – that’s going to keep this one off the streets for a period of time – hopefully.


Return to the Front page

Long hours, many late nights and the pay isn’t the greatest either. But we elect them and here is part of what they do for you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 4, 2013   They are just bears for punishment – or perhaps they want to have more time to do the city’s business while they are “live” on Cogeco Cable TV  – which ever – City Council meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. in 2013.  The traditional start time was 7:00 PM

Historically, standing committees (Development and Infrastructure, Budget and Corporate Services, and Community Services) would meet at 6:30 p.m., while council meetings began at 7 p.m.

“Two separate start times can be confusing for residents,” said Grant Bivol, manager of committee services. “Starting council and standing committee meetings at 6:30 p.m. makes it easier and more convenient for everybody, particularly members of the public who are unfamiliar with the city’s three-week meeting cycle.”

Is this crowd worth just over three quarters of a million each year?  We are getting good value for the money we pay these people.

The council-approved change takes effect on the first council meeting of the year, Jan. 28, 2013.

There will however be occasions when a committee will not meet in the evening; Development and Infrastructure has such a heavy work  load that they will now meet in the afternoons and in the evenings. Committee meetings which,  committee chairs never tire of telling their audiences, is where all the “heavy lifting gets done.  Much of what is done at committee gets rubber stamped by Council – although there are occasions when a committee decision will get reversed by Council.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison takes a break during one of his long bike rides. He pushes for bike lanes wherever he thinks he can get one put in; he also pushed his council members last year to allocate more money to the “shave and pave” process that saves on the cost of repairing our roadways and streets.

When everything that comes out of the committee meetings gets to city council meetings – the Mayor rushes through the reports and explains that the “heavy lifting” got done at the committee level.  You never get told how each council member voted at committee.  No record is kept by the city on those votes.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven digging out a business card for provincial Liberal leadership hopeful Sandra Pupatello.

Media have a difficult time figuring out whom voted which way; the clerks don’t ask for a clear count nor do they announce what the count is.  Sometimes council members will slip their hand up – hoping the people at the media table won’t see how they voted.

Development and Infrastructure is getting busier; most of the challenging stuff has been slid over to General Manager Scott Stewart.  That Standing Committee will now meet in the afternoon and in the evenings.  One assumes those items that have significant public interest will be put on the evening schedule.

The city is currently on a three-week cycle for their committee meetings.  The next week the cycle is run is the week of January 14th when they face four days of meetings.  Two weeks later a city council meeting takes place to confirm everything done at the committees.

The most senior member of Council Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor is the most vocal on ensuring the public is informed. He gets emotional at times but he is bar-none, the hardest working council member the city has. Also the most transparent and the guy that should have Mt Nemo named after him – his consistent, tireless efforts at both city council and Regional Council ensure the provincial government never forgets – no road through the Escarpment.

Because each council member is also a member of the Regional Council, our significant seven have to haul themselves over to Oakville where they gather with the Council members from Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

City Council meetings are broadcast live on Cogeco Cable TV.  Next to watching paint dry these have to be the dullest thing you use your eyeballs for.

The city does web cast all the committee meetings and while they aren’t live they are usually on the web site within 36 hours.  And it is now easier to find a listing of the web broadcasts. Link  If that gets changed – go to www.burlington.ca – choose city hall from the tabs near the top of the page and look for web casts on the right. If it’s really late and there isn’t an infomercial that tickles your fancy log into the web cast listing and pick a date and watch how they get their work done.

Some call her disruptive, several of her colleagues think she asks far too many questions but Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has certainly changed the way this Council operates. She advocated for more public involvement and she has brought about real change. Is she an effective politician or a populist aiming for the top job?

Council members are paid about $50,000 by the city and close to that amount by the Region for the work they do; which amount to something in the $100,000 range.  There are a number of Executive Directors running sports organizations in this city who earn that much.    The Mayor is paid just under $160,000 annually.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster may not know as much as she needs to know but she does understand what a photo op is. Is that enough ?

There is committee of citizens who determine what the city remuneration is to be.  That committee has not met for some time.  Burlington’s citizens consistently begrudge the reasonable amount we pay the seven people who run our civic government.  Some do work harder than others; several have other jobs but, except for one, taxpayers get good value for their money.  Despite what Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison maintains, being a council member is not a part-time job.  He will say that he gives the job 120% – not true.

While these men and woman are entitled to a small increase you won’t hear a word uttered by any of them about what they are paid, which is really poor management.  They are worth more than we pay them and that has to be recognized.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman can be smooth as silk and tough as nails – he chooses which he wants to be to suit his purpose. The original bluster we saw during his first year in office has moderated a bit.

It is time for the Mayor to create another commission and give that Commission the task of setting a remuneration level for council members for the next term of office which will begin in late 2014.  That Commission should be renewed every four years with the task of setting the remuneration level for the council that will be elected each term.

Currently council members are given a $9000 expense allowance (there are rules in place on what they can spend those funds on); the Mayor has a $31,300 expense budget.  Goldring tends to not spend much of his expense allocation.

All seven members of Council are provided with a parking space and participate in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement fund the way any other city employee does.  They get all the health benefits every other employee gets.  The Mayor is also provided with a leased vehicle.  Every member of Council is provided with a cell phone.

Mayor Rick Goldring: He doesn’t hunger for power, he doesn’t have a politically motivated agenda – but he does want to see a better Burlington; a city he loves – the city he has lived in all his life.  Nothing complex about the man.

If you think these are easy jobs with decent pay and worth taking a run for – give that a second thought.  It is a hard job and the people who do it aren’t paid well enough.  Some like the power and the public exposure the job gives them – and they certainly do have power locally.  They get to make decisions that directly impact the quality of the life you live in this city.  They also get to advocate and push ideas of their own.  Dennison pushes for more bicycle use; Taylor is going to die defending the Escarpment.  The Mayor, mis-guidedly at times, wants better ideas for the city and will give more than most on the environmental issues.

There was a time when people ran for public office because they genuinely wanted to “serve” – they still tout the term but there is less “serving” today than there was 20 years ago.


Return to the Front page

Artist depicts the ruins of a society … “which have been lost to the bustle of life without integrity.”

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 7, 2012  You see him on the street from time to time; easel before him, fingerless gloves on his hands in the colder weather. Scott Thomas Anderson, a graduate of Central High in Burlington; graduate of Sheridan College and the Ontario College of Art and Design.  Anderson added to that a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Waterloo.

Anderson uses what is known as a plein-air approach to his art.  Years of study and hundreds of art shows later Anderson can now make the time to walk the streets of the city and record what he sees in oil.

Anderson has done a dozen Juried Shows and came away with the Best of Show Award at two of them.  We first saw Anderson while he was doing a painting of the Riviera Motel as the claws of an excavator were tearing down the walls of the building.

We next saw Anderson in front of the Queen’s Head where we were able to photograph him.  So who is this young man who says he is “compelled to paint the landscape as it stands on the brink of change.”

Where will this piece of art go?  Whose wall will it hang on and what story will it tell 25-50 years from now.  With art – one just never knows – that’s why people collect it.

“Souvenirs” explains Anderson, “ represent dying values.  My paintings are an attempt to collect the views overlooked by the majority, who prefer the topography of the future.  Using the plein-air tradition that affords me an autonomous immediacy, in order to better experience the spatial relationships which the landscape reveals to my senses.”

“The architectural loose ends I depict are the ruins of a society, or the remains of the canon, which have been lost to the bustle of life without integrity.”

That’s a point of view – well thought out.  What impressed me was the painting.  Perhaps we will see Anderson in an exhibit at the Burlington Art Centre and hopefully as part of the Art in Action tour next fall.  Anderson is an artist worth keeping an eye on.


Return to the Front page

Retailers along Brant Street did next to nothing to gussy up their part of town for Christmas: How come?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 6, 2013  You live in Burlington; you shopped and therefore you shopped at the malls.  I didn’t know Burlington had that many cars until I went looking for a place to park at Mapleview Mall Christmas Eve day – but I found a spot and, as is my habit, did all my shopping in less than an hour – knew what I wanted to buy and where it was being sold.  Then I strolled along the different levels and saw a few things I had not thought of and that was my Christmas Shopping – done.

You didn’t pick up much Christmas spirit along this stretch of Brant Street if you walked along it during the holiday.

Earlier in the week I had occasion to be on lower Brant Street and wondered what had happened.  There was nothing to suggest that it was Christmas – well yes, there were those pitiful little lights on the street lamp poles.  Even Civic Square had a lackluster look to it – until the lights were on and then it looked decent enough.

I thought perhaps it was just the bottom of Brant Street that had been ignored – so walked north to Caroline and then on up to Prospect – and it was even more grim.

So what’s with this phrase we use about having a “vibrant” downtown core that is a pleasant place to shop and meet with friends?

Once the location for one of the better “hotels” in town this Emshih property doesn’t have even a Christmas twig on it.

The pictures that accompany  this article  show precious little in the way of Seasonal decoration – with the exception being the works who showed some creativity.

Last year the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) held a contest for the best displays – several of which were very innovative, Especially the one done up by the condo sales agency on Lakeshore.  Did that competition get cancelled this year?

Even with the contest last year,  lower Brant didn’t look all that well then either.  Emshih Developments owns a number of the properties along Brant; one would have hoped they would put some of the profits back into the community.  They found it useful to financially support the Mayor’s One Dream that we are told we will hear more about sometime in January.

The opportunity to do something really spectacular with this storefront was lost to one of the reputedly better marketers in the city.  This was embarrassing.

The Works, a new franchise in town that created a buzz on their opening day by offering a free burger. They have the most innovative storefront look of the Season.  Is that because they are new and don’t know any better – Burlington doesn’t appear to “do” Christmas.

It didn’t get any better when you got off Brant Street.  One would have thought that a pub with the name Dickens would have taken the spirit of the season in its teeth and done the place up really nice.  They opted to spend twenty bucks on stuff from the dollar store.  Can you feel the vibrancy?

The Downtown Business Association used to support this effort financially – they had to cut back – Burlington Hydro took up the slack. So what is it that BDBA does for their members?

The BDBA had to tell the Festival of Lights people that the $5000 donation they traditionally made to that organization,  which sets up the lights that are dotted throughout Spencer Smith Park and along Lakeshore Road would not be forthcoming in 2012.  Fortunately Burlington Hydro came to the rescue.

During the Car Free Sunday last summer that saw Brant Street closed to traffic so that people could stroll the streets and ride bicycles in complete safety and shop if they wished – there were stores that didn’t bother to open.  There were people at the Caroline – Brant Street intersection close to spitting nickels because of the traffic delays – had they known this was all to aid the objective of getting people out of their cars – and that some stores didn’t open; one wonders how they would have applied the word vibrant to that situation?

There seems to be a mis-alignment here.  Is the BDBA an organization that has lost its drive or purpose?  Anyone within the BDBA boundary pays a tax levy whether they like it or not.  Are they getting value for what they are paying?

Those retailers also pay into a parking levy which in lieu of providing on site parking.   That parking levy was used by the Bridgewater development on Lakeshore as the plank on which they built their argument about not having to provide parking space – instead they would pay into the levy just the way other downtown core business people do.  With 150 + hotel rooms and two condo’s – there is going to be a parking need.  A problem brewing there that someone at Planning hasn’t thought through.

The restaurants were doing a very brisk business on the Thursday and Friday leading up to the start of the seasonal holiday for city hall.  Impossible to get a parking spot in the lot off Elizabeth Street.

In the fall the city held a Downtown Workshop that filled the Art Centre as people listened to a consultants report and took part in exercises where they got to trot out their ideas and visions.  All good stuff – we suppose but one can`t see any new ideas on our main downtown streets.

Is it even possible to grow our downtown to the point where it is a busy, vibrant, profitable place for retail and serviced people to locate?

Sheila Bottin, the Deloitte consultant the city has hired to advise on what kind of commercial office space can be built on the John Street and Elizabeth Street parking lots has told the city to “forgetaboutit” – developers can’t get the rents they need to cover the cost of providing those underground parking places.  And no one is going to take a bus downtown – they would rather take the GO into Toronto.

Brian Dean, Executive Director of the BDBA works his tail off for his association. Is he beating a dead horse

The Village Square is up for sale with much gnashing of teeth on the part of the public, or so we are told, but the location no longer works for many retailers.  There was a time when it was THE hot spot in the city but some less than wise management practices resulted in many restaurants fleeing to Brant Street where rents were more manageable.  Brian Dean, president of the BDBA,  will tell you the biggest favour Jack Friedman, owner of Village Square, did for him was when he revised the rental agreements: “those people moved to Brant Street suddenly the downtown core had a future.

But that future is stymied.  Management mistakes by others are not what one builds a business plan on.  Dean is tireless in his work for his association – it would be nice to see his association members doing as much for themselves as he does for them.  Perhaps Dean has done all he can do and someone else should take the helm?  Something isn’t working.

Jody Wellings has toiled tirelessly at city hall on the city’s core commitment and never fails to bring a positive attitude to the job – but there don’t appear to be any solutions that are gaining traction.  What is it we’re missing here?

Brant Street is a great place to be during the Sound of Music but RibFest and the Children’s Festival don’t do much for the retailers.

It might be too early to tell if the Performing Arts Centre has had the hoped for impact on the restaurant business.  Melodia Mediteranean Cuisine and Bar opened and is getting decent reviews but Prime Rib announced a move from Brant around the corner to Locust, a stone throw from the Performing Arts Centre close to a year ago and it has yet to open its doors.

We’ve not seen solid attendance and audited numbers from the PAC people yet, so we don’t know what the attendance has been.  The line-up has been impressive but everyone knew, or should have known, that it was going to be a long painful labour getting the place to the point where it had created a market for live entertainment and a following for specific kinds of entertainment.

For a retailer that  sells poinsettias by the truck load this is just not a Christmas look.

The feel of Brant Street is in the hands of the retailers; they decide what they want to do to their store fronts.  If they are bare and uninviting – people stay away.  Yes, parking is a problem but it doesn’t take long to get a parking spot, just some patience.  But one needs a reason to go downtown – and if the storefronts are as dowdy as they were in the photographs we took – heck I’ll drive to Oakville, which by the way got written up in a Toronto electronic magazine as the place with the nicest Christmas feel to it on the main street.

Mayor Goldring’s former Chief of Staff, Frank McKeown,  may have figured out the solution when he said “Forever Elvis” will work.  If all else fails – perhaps?

 

Return to the Front page