Police alerted to the body of a 46 year old male in the Fairview – Maple Avenue part of the city. Coronor finds nothing suspicious.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 7, 2012  What appears to be the body of a homeless person was found in an area north of Fairview Street, east of Maple Avenue in the City of Burlington. Police and other Emergency Services personnel attended.

The body was discovered just after 2:00 pm and police were notified.

The deceased is a male, 46 years, of no fixed address believed to have been living where discovered. Attempts are being made to locate and notify the next of kin.

The coroner attended the scene. Initial examination revealed no suspicious circumstances, however the investigation will be continuing with a post mortem scheduled for April 8, 2012 in Hamilton.

Burlington doesn’t think it has any homeless people – this man died all by himself Easter weekend.

 

 

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Water treatment specialists behind the leak of aluminum chloride hydroxide sulphate into Sheldon Creek. Water is now running clear.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON   April 5, 2012 –Ontario Ministry of the Environment staff have identified the product that polluted Sheldon Creek earlier this week as well as the company that let the pollutant into the water – guess what – it was a company that deals with produces materials for the treatment of water and wastewater.  Ouch!

Samples of the spilled material have been analyzed by the ministry laboratory and identified as aluminum chloride hydroxide sulphate, which is used in the treatment of drinking water.  The source of the spill has been identified as ControlChem Canada Ltd., located on John Lucas Drive which is where Environment ministry officials believed the spill originated from – the just didn’t know which company was the source.

Ministry officials have inspected the creek and the water is now running clear.

Scott Stewart, the big guy at city hall who knows how to get to the root of a problem commented on the way his staff handled the problem when it was first reported.  “The response from the team on site was text-book ideal,” said Stewart, general manager of community services. “Roads and parks maintenance staff were on site immediately and helped the Ministry of the Environment contain the spill in a quick and efficient manner.”

Sheldon Creek took on a milky look earlier in the week when a pollutant was found to be in the water. Water is now running clear..

The ministry is requiring the company to take measures to prevent future spills. This matter has also been referred to the ministry’s investigations and enforcement branch to determine if charges are warranted.  This is what you call a public relations disaster.

Halton Public Health has indicated the public can return to the area. As always, residents are reminded to wash hands with soap and water before eating or handling food after coming in contact with creek water or any untreated water in general.  Untreated water may contain E. coli bacteria, which is found in the intestines and feces of warm blooded animals.

On its web site ControlChem states:

Our concern for the environment is so serious, we have committed to an Environmental Management System that is certified in meeting the requirements of ISO14001.

The Environment is an important consideration when planning or arranging your facility’s water treatment program.  In a corporate situation, one should be considering Due Diligence and Sustainable Development issues as they relate to your Company, Management, Employees and other Stakeholders.

ControlChem has recognized these issues as very important for now and the future.  We have invested heavily to achieve our ISO 14001 Environmental Registrations. 

They can now invest in some legal talent to manage their conversations with the Ministry’s Enforcement branch.

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Why would you leave a door unlocked – hope your insurance agent doesn’t read this. Hope police delivered a short lecture as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 5, 2012   Halton Regional Police Service were called to investigate a break and enter to a local residence in Burlington.

They learned that sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on April 2nd, unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a home located on Lampman Avenue. The suspect(s) rummaged through the house and stole an undisclosed amount of cash.

The police also learned that the door the thieves went through was “unlocked”.

When thieves find even one home with an unlocked door they convince themselves that there are other homes with doors unlocked – and they prowl around until they fine one.  Lock your doors.

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

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Harmer tries to convince Ontario Premier to open his kimono – it isn’t going to be a pretty picture.

By Sarah Harmer via Huffington Post

BURLINGTON, ON  April 5, 2012  For the past three months, my dedicated lawyer David Donnelly, Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (“PERL”), and I have been trying to obtain a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) biologist’s written opinion on whether a quarry company’s mitigation plan would protect the breeding ponds and wetlands of the Federally Endangered Jefferson Salamanders that are on our family farm.

On March 27, 2012, I was compelled to appeal an absurd decision of the MNR to deny my earlier Freedom of Information (FOI) request for this opinion.

Wetlands on the Harmer farm in the Mt Nemo area that many believe will be drained if the Nelson Aggregate application to expand their quarry is approved.

Only a few hundred metres away from these ultra-sensitive and ostensibly “protected” breeding ponds is the site of the proposed Nelson Aggregate Co. below-water-table quarry, which would very likely undermine the hydrogeology of the entire area, including the Grindstone Creek Headwaters Provincially Significant Wetland Complex.  If the water goes away, so do the salamanders (the Jeffies, as they are affectionately known).

Our farm, atop the Niagara Escarpment’s Mount Nemo in North Burlington, is part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It is one of only 27 Jefferson Salamander habitats left in Ontario, indeed in all of Canada. Clearly this is the wrong place for a massive extraction industry.

But Nelson Aggregate Co. didn’t even bother to ask us if they could come on our property to monitor the wetlands if the quarry gets approved. PERL’s expert biologist Dave Stephenson is skeptical that a professional MNR Species-at-Risk biologist would have sufficient confidence in a mitigation strategy when access to the ponds has not been sought and is so uncertain.

What if the MNR biologist still has concerns? Shouldn’t the joint board reviewing this quarry licence application hear them?

In their FOI decision of March 6, the MNR did show a record of the information we had requested, but decided to deny me access to it on the basis that “disclosure of the record would reveal recommendations of a public servant.” When I read those words I thought, “How ironic to hide information from someone who is called a servant of the public.” In the next few months I’ll find out if Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner agrees with me: MNR bureaucrats should not be overriding the public interest and hiding information critical to the protection of an endangered species. Just as importantly, a government agency should not be having private meetings with a corporation to review remediation plans for other people’s property without extending to the landowner the same participatory rights.

The existing Nelson Aggregate quarry in the Mt Nemo area. You can't see it when you drive by because it is hidden behind an earth berm - it's pretty ugly.

Seven years ago, citizens of the Mount Nemo area formed PERL, a community group that has represented the interests of the community and sponsored crucial science about what is at risk on Mount Nemo. After incredible amounts of volunteer work and dedication, these citizens, including my family, should not be in this position now: The MNR could have disclosed at the hearing the biologist’s opinion without all this wasted time and energy. We filed a Motion to Disclose this evidence during the hearing, and I swore an affidavit stating how critical this evidence was to our case. When our motion was denied, our legal team had to file the FOI, involving more precious time and resources.

When this FOI request was just recently denied, I had to engage lawyer Alexandra Mayeski, an FOI appeal legal expert and, coincidently, a childhood schoolmate and neighbour whom I rode the school bus with as a kid. Synchronicity at work.

The story goes like this. PERL has been fighting the proposed Nelson Aggregate Co. quarry on Mount Nemo since 2005. For years, the MNR agreed with PERL that the Significant Woodlands, Threatened and endangered species habitats, Provincially Significant Wetlands, source water hydrogeology, and prime agricultural lands on the proposed site added up to a big negative for the quarry proposal. The Region of Halton, City of Burlington, Halton Region Conservation Authority and the Niagara Escarpment Commission all opposed the quarry too.

So did important allies like Environmental Defence, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, David Suzuki Foundation, Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) and many others.

Then, on the first day of the Joint Board Hearing, the MNR did an about-face and supported the quarry! Starting on November 19, 2010, the Joint Board Hearing heard evidence from dozens of experts from all the public agencies listed above, and experts from PERL. We all opposed the quarry proposal and provided testimony to the same.

Isabelle Harmer has been opposing the expansion of the Nelson quarry since the day they made the application to more than double the size of the site. Her daughter, singer, composer Sarah Harmer has been right there in the trenches with her during the Joint Board hearings to determine if a permit should be issued.

But what of the independent MNR experts who had filed witness statements critical of the project? We decided to summons them, to cross-examine them on whether it was experts or policy “suits” that decided to do a “180” and support the quarry in this clearly inappropriate location.

One of the experts that was summoned was John Pisapio, species-at-risk biologist for the MNR. He’s also on the Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team. At the time of his testimony, Nelson had no clear strategy for protecting the wetlands and breeding ponds on my family farm if something went wrong with the quarry. For example, if, as predicted by experts, the under-draining of the whole area lowered the water table so that the water in the wetlands leaked out from underneath and the wetlands dried up.

Pisapio’s evidence at the hearing in October, 2011 was pretty devastating to the proposal — he testified he had concerns about the inadequate monitoring and mitigation measures proposed in Nelson’s Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) for the Harmer Wetlands and the Jefferson salamanders in particular.

This was a blockbuster moment!

Did Nelson and the MNR call PERL and my family to talk about what to do next? No.

Instead, MNR staff collaborated with Nelson to come up with a new mitigation plan involving the wetlands on our property without consulting me or my family. Nelson now says they’ll install gauges (monitors) and run pipes onto our property, if the ponds go dry. Right, we’re supposed to trust Nelson after they transplanted and subsequently killed endangered butternut trees, dredged and drained wetlands, and were convicted of illegally placing fill in the Grindstone Creek Provincially Significant Wetland Complex? I don’t think so.

A very telling part of the situation is this: the planning expert for Nelson, Brian Zeman, testified at the hearing that when MNR officials were discussing the new Jefferson mitigation plan, he was the one who was the minute-taker. Separation between corporate interest and our own government has never been more difficult for me to discern.

Thankfully, the law may be on our side. Even if the Information and Privacy Commissioner says the biologist’s opinion qualifies as being protected from disclosure, we can argue that the records are subject to the compelling public interest override provision under Section 23 of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Since the records we’re seeking relate to mitigation strategies for the Harmer Wetlands known to contain a provincially Endangered Species, this fits with previous Orders of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office that have recognized that the public has an interest, from the perspective of protecting the natural environment and protecting health and safety, in seeing that government institutions conduct a full and fair assessment before granting environmental approvals, including approvals under the Aggregate Resources Act.

Do we really need to wait months for this decision? C’mon Premier McGuinty, play fair! Give us the damn biologist’s opinion.

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If you want to be the person that writes the cheques – you might want to attend this seminar – offered by Burlington lawyer.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 5, 2012   An exceptionally successful fund manager couldn’t decide which she wanted to be when she went to university; a business person or a lawyer.  Her Dad asked which she wanted to do: write the cheques or ask for the cheque.  I want to write the cheques the woman decided and she became an entrepreneur.  Her Father explained that lawyers ask for cheques – business people write cheques.

Burlington lawyer Rick Burgess, a former candidate for the office of Mayor has decided that he just might be able to have it both ways by putting on a seminar for entrepreneurs ” like you”.

Burgess points out that entrepreneurs start their company with a great idea and work  many, long hours to build a successful company.  They have a few successes. They also make costly mistakes that could have been avoided if they had known what the experts Burgess has assembled have known for some time

Burgess believes that time, money and frustration can be saved if you have the right information before you start and he has put together a seminar at which you can gain that valuable insight.

Burgess wants to:

Let our panel of experts and colleagues share with you how to avoid costly, common mistakes entrepreneurs make at different stages in their business. They have seen it before and can help you identify future opportunities so that you are better prepared to meet those challenges.

The panel will discuss:

•              Getting Started Right

•              Managing Growth

•              Preparing for Times of Crisis

•              Planning Your Exit Strategy

Come and join this interactive panel discussion. Learn how to take advantage of the opportunities these milestones create. Turn the unexpected into opportunities with the help of our experts and other entrepreneurs like yourself.

The Panel of Experts includes:

Richard Burgess. BA (Honours), LLB, Burgess Law Office Professional Corporation

Doug Gowman, HBA, CFP, Investment Advisor and Financial Planner, RBC Dominion Securities

Greg Clarke, BCom., CA, Partner SB Partners

Stan Lang, Senior Account Manager, RBC Royal Bank (Halton)

Doug Robbins, President, Robbinex Business Intermediaries

Spaces are limited to 25 attendees per meeting to allow for participation and discussions. Please register early to avoid disappointment.  If you have any questions please contact Kristine at 905.523.7510 x217.

 

 

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Pennies from heaven – perhaps. Habitat wants the pennies in your kitchen drawer or garage. 10 million of them please.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 5, 2012  When federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty announced that the copper penny we all use was going to go out of production in the fall and suggested those of us that have jars of the things in the house should donate them to charity there wasn’t a charitable organization in the country that didn’t go into “get creative fast” mode real quick.

Fill this house with pennies so that Habitat for Humanity Halton can build a home for someone that works hard but just can't afford what's on the market today.

Halton’s Habitat for Humanity seems to be the first out of the gate in this neck of the woods with announcement of their plan to collect 10 million pennies so they can build a Habitat house.  Ten million pennies equates to $100,000 which will go a long way to paying for the building of a house. They want to have the pennies in hand by the end of May.

You’re invited to drop off your unwanted pennies and help Habitat for Humanity Halton fill a house to build a home at the Habitat ReStore located at 1800 Appleby Line, Unit 10 or at any branch of Prosperity ONE Credit Union in Halton Region.

The store on Appleby Line is open Monday to Wednesday and Friday 9am-6pm • Thursday 9am-8pm • Saturday  9am-5pm

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Jumping into the social media pool – you won’t drown but this is not the place to find your 15 minutes of fame.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 4, 2012   He did it again and plans on yet another run at a Business in Burlington Meet Up – one of these social media things where you learn on line about an event, register so they know what the count is going to be and you show up.

James Burchill drew 175 people with a pocket full or business cards into a large room at the back of The Beaver and Bulldog at the Waterfront hotel where they all assiduously worked the room.  A cynic would think the event was funded by the business card printing industry.

You know the event is popular when the politicians show up – the Mayor decided he needed to get a look at social media up close and personal like and – well you know what happened – the people who wanted to bend his ear headed towards him like a sucker seeing a plump thigh in a swampy bit of water.

Good crowd at the fourth Business in Burlington Meet up - politicians have moved in - good sign?

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was on hand – she doesn’t hand out business cards but say your first and your last name and she has her smart phone out keying in the essential data and you’re on her list – which is not a bad place to be – she puts out the best Newsletter from a politician in this town.

It’s two hours out of your life and if networking matters to you – and it should if you’re going to grow whatever it is you are up to these days, then Business in Burlington is the place to be.  Google the name and you’ll get James Burchill and his smiling face.  James does send out a lot of email – so be prepared for that.  It was by working social media that he made this happen.

The question I had as I walked to my car was  – OK, now what?   Burchill holds the event and I did meet a lot of people and I was able to get some face time with someone I have been wanting to chat up for some time but wasn’t able to land on his radar screen.  Are these things going to become a bit like Rotary minus the doing anything for someone else?  The age spectrum ran from early 30’s to the sixtyish set with no one demographic dominating.

What was pleasant to see was the diversity in the audience – you don’t see the same mix in the public sector.

Where does this go?   Beats me – not something I would plan on doing every month but if you wanted to dip into the small business entrepreneur crowd – this was the place to be.  Could the Chamber of Commerce develop membership with this crowd?

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Pilot service is a cross between a paddy wagon and an ambulance – that will get young people home safely.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 4, 2012  You can still see the geek in the guy as he talks about a pilot project that will help get the young rowdies off the street when Burlington`s downtown bars close at around two in the morning.  The service Scott Wallace of Burlington Taxi is developing is about as non-tech as you can get and is best described as something between a paddy wagon and an ambulance.

Scott Wallace, a software developer before he got into the taxi business – and there is a connection between the two – at least there was for Wallace, appeared before a Council committee asking the city to go along with him on a pilot project that would provide a service allowing young people who have had too much to drink to be able to drive, and perhaps not enough cash in their pocket to pay for a cab and not prepared to give the parents a call,

The 15 passenger van will serve as a cross between a paddy wagon and an ambulance and will charge $7 to get the rowdies home - safely.

The service that will run as a pilot from early May to late August will consist of two vans that can hold up to 15 passengers each.  One will make an eastern run while the other handles the western side of the city.  While the details are still being worked out,  the thinking is to have a couple of spots where young people can gather and know, that is where the van will be to drive them home.  The trip home will cost $7.

Something in the order of 300 people pour out onto the streets at 2:00 am – the challenge is to clear the area as quickly as possible which means getting them into vehicles they aren’t driving before they do any serious damage.

Getting those with too much beer in their belly`s off the streets of the downtown core has been a challenge.  Attempts to put this kind of a service in place during a previous administration at city hall didn’t get much past square one.  This Council seems quite prepared to encourage the pilot and listen to the proposal, which has the backing of the Restaurant Association and the Burlington Downtown Business Association.

Wallace is very quick to make the point that “this service is not THE solution to the problem – it is part of the solution, or at least he thinks so and he is prepared to put some time an energy into the idea.

Are there risks involved?  There certainly are.  The kids that will use this service may have been Boy Scouts or Girl

World headquarters for the 50 car + Burlington Taxi fleet. Gearing up to provide a service that will get the bar closing crowd home cheaply and safely.

Guides when they were younger but with far more beer in them than makes any sense they become noisy and tend to want to topple mail boxes and pull shrubs from front lawns – usually after trying to water the plants – if you know what I mean.

“For the most part they are decent kids – just out having their version of a good time and they have to be accommodated”, explains Wallace who lives in the downtown core and is often out for a walk late in the evening and is fully aware of how much noise this crowd creates.  He sees it as part of life in a city that has a part of town where there are bars and clubs.

Possible pick up spot for the bar closing crowd - they're open until 3 am Friday and Saturday.

The disruption created by these young people gets heard at Council committee meetings about once a month – the interesting thing is that no one mentions the one obvious and cost effective solution.  Put more police on the street walking a beat in the bar area.  There is nothing that settles a noisy, drunken youth down faster than a big beefy cop within sight.  It would take four officers walking a small area for a couple of hours to settle things.  Many people comment about the lack of adequate police service but that’s about as far as it goes.  Just talk.  Might the city of Burlington not petition the Regional Police Chief for more “feet on the street”?

Will there be bouncers in the vans ? – no says Wallace “but every vehicle has a camera that runs all the time as well as two way sound – so if there is a problem the action gets captured on video and the dispatcher knows instantly and is a button on a phone away from a call to the police.”

Burlington Taxi video footage has been used by Crown Prosecutors in the past – and, as Wallace puts it – some of these kids are not the brightest lights and they don’t realize how much technology we have going for us.

“This service isn’t going to be a money maker for us, says Wallace. “Some of my drivers would rather I didn’t put the vans out on the street – it would leave more of a passenger pool for them”.  Scott thinks the city need a service like this that gets kids out of the core quickly – in this case 15 at a time in each direction – that’s 30 kids that aren’t whooping it up on the streets.

“We are just a part of the solution” says Wallace.  “We need buses out on the street but the people at transit haven’t been able to meet this need” – bus service ends at 11:00 pm in Burlington.  Burlington Taxi feels it can meet part of the need.

Which is what Scott Wallace is really all about.  He talks about community service, social responsibility and adds “this is a great town”.  I’m doing my bit to keep it that way.

Wallace created, developed and then sold a software development company that focused on taxi dispatching and vehicle tracking.  “We’ve got GPS in every vehicle and software that allows us to log every trip and the revenue it produces which enables us to run a tight operation.”  That operation is a fleet of more than fifty cabs, most painted a bright yellow you can’t miss.

The bar crowd special - probably all cash fares but plastic is accepted.

Burlington is a little different than many cities in that it has just corporate taxi operations – there are no independent operators.  Wallace explains that a cab from Hamilton can drop off a fare but they aren’t supposed to pick up within Burlington and they don’t take calls from the city.  This corporate fleet approach gives the city tighter control over the taxi business – rates are approved by the city.

Wallace continues to go to taxi conventions and is in touch with the industry – knows where the new ideas are being tried out and what can and usually cannot work.  “People always want us to put more cabs on the street to meet those rush periods – but that doesn’t make economic sense.  While every car is not out on the road every hour – the objective is to keep every cab out for as long as possible.”

Scott Wallace is one of those people who arrived in Burlington before the age of ten and while he has been away for periods of time growing his career he has always come back and can’t understand why anyone would want to live anywhere else.

Wallace says: “We’ve done the research and we are pretty sure this will work.  We feel it’s certainly worth a pilot project.”   And we will know next week if city council sees it the same way.  Wallace got past the committee stage quite easily.

 

 

 

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Is there a failure to communicate – because the needed tools aren`t in place? City hall stuck in the 90’s.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 4, 2012  There is a problem at city hall – the difficulty is communicating.   They want to talk, they want to be informed, they want information to come in and the want to get information out – but they don’t have all the tools they need to do all that in place.

Top staff on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of city hall have iPads that are both personal and corporate but they can’t always get on line – because internet access on the top floors of the building just isn’t available.

Turns out that cable television access doesn’t exist in the building either,  which made it very difficult for Mayor Goldring to see what was being broadcast as he tried to stay on top of things during the train derailment.

Should there ever be a civic emergency, plans exist for the Mayor to set up an Emergency Centre with the Fire Chief where back up telephone systems would be in place and theoretically the Mayor would be able to be in communication with everyone.  There is web broadcasting capacity in the Council chamber but there doesn’t appear to be any way for the Mayor or the Fire Chief, or any other senior public official, to be able to broadcast directly to the public via the city`s web site.

Neither the Fire Chief or the Mayor is able to turn on a television set at city hall and see what the rest of the city is seeing – which has to be a major flaw in the communications set up.

We understand it is being looked into – about time.

Get cable into the building and routers up into the top floors so that staff can join the rest of the world.

 

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Acclaimed Titanic author to speak at library April 17th; tickets limited..

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 4, 2012  Prolific, widely honoured publisher, writer and historian Hugh Brewster, an internationally recognized authority on the Titanic, brings us his vivid examination of the people and the ship known to all after the events of April 1912.

On the Centenary of the tragedy, Hugh Brewster visits the Different Drummer Bookstore Engaging Ideas series at the Burlington Central Library on April 16th at 7:00 pm, to discuss his superlative new book, an absorbing document of the passengers’ stories, RMS Titanic: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage.

Tickets are $10, available at the bookstore and at the third floor Information Desk at the Library.

Brewster has worked closely with Robert D. Ballard, the discoverer of the remains of the Titanic, and has created several acclaimed books about the vessel, for both adults and young readers.

The author has an extraordinary gift for storytelling and for recreating history, both in person and on the page.  His other subjects have included Grand Duchess Anastasia, John Singer Sargent, Mozart, and the First World War.

To reserve seats in advance, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

 

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It looks pretty white to me! So much for diversity in Halton. Board of Education appears to take a pass on diversity

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 2, 2012  The flyer reproduced below was handed out at the Mayor`s Economic development luncheon last week where a group of students from different Burlington schools listened to an invigorating speaker who buzzed the crowd with a solid presentation of information bombardment.

Not exactly inclusive or all that "politically correct is it?

There was a certain irony to a presentation on information and a flyer that surely gave the wrong information to the audience

The Halton District School Board was one of the sponsors of the event and were entitled to have some of their promotional material put out on the tables in the room.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.

We have people from dozens of countries sharing the community with us and while Burlington is, for the most part,  a pretty white community there are many people of colour who have chosen to make Burlington home.  They are for the most part quiet and unassuming.  We don`t hear a lot from them.

Bringing about a sense of inclusion is not something the private sector is very good at – it is not in their immediate best interests.  They don`t avoid changes in the social make up of a community – they just adapt to the change.

The leadership in bringing about more inclusive community has to come from the public sector in its hiring and promotional practices.

The police hire men who wear turbans; the school boards strive to hire teachers who are people of colour who reflect the change taking place in the community.

Thus it was with some surprise and concern that we see a flyer being handed out at an Economic Development luncheon promoting a Pathways program, which in itself appears to be an excellent way to tie the private commercial sector to the educational system.  The problem with the flyer was that everyone in the pictures was white – and mostly male.  It was as politically incorrect as you can get.

If people of colour and diverse backgrounds do not see themselves in the literature put out by the public sector – it doesn’t take them very long to translate what it means – if you don`t see yourself in the picture it`s because you are not in the picture.

Burlington needs to take another picture.

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Mountainside arena and pool to undergo revitalization. Place will look great when it`s done and be easier to get into when completed.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 2,  2012  It was eight years in the making, but Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor sat at a Community Services Committee meeting beaming with pride as he watched a presentation on the revitalization of the Mountainside Arena and Pool.  Then he said – twice – for emphasis – that the site was not being closed.  It would Taylor explained be closed for a season while the construction and upgrade work was done – which will be in the summer of 2014 – oops, that’s an election year isn’t it?  Taylor has such a high following that he can withstand some community dissatisfaction while an important community recreational site is closed to be upgraded.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

As is Taylor’s way – the Committee went with the least expensive of the three possible approaches to the significant upgrade planned for the site.  Council will meet on April 10th and put a stamp of approval on the project.

The next step will be the issuing of a purchasing order for the detailed design phase of the project which lets the architects begin the detailed drawings.

The entrance to the complex will now be at the top of the site with a large parking lot that Parks and Recreation people expect will hold most of the cars that pull up.

An aerial view of the Mountainside recreational complex that will undergo revitalization in 2013

The buildings will now have a much more presentable entrance with a small pull into lane for those that want to drop off kids with those massive bags that hold their hockey equipment.

There will be better change rooms, a concession area as well as two community meeting rooms.  Expect Councillor Taylor to make considerable use of these.

The splash pool that was paid for with federal/provincial government Stimulus money will remain with very minor modifications.

An architectural rendering of the site with the view from the north looking south. Parking and entrance have been re-oriented making it a much easier site to move in and out of - also has much better facilities inside.

The architects commented that it was a challenging site with homes on the west side that objected to headlights from cars parking in the lower lot so they moved the orientation of that lot to face east.  The long, thin site the architects had to work with was hedged in by a woodlot on the east and an incline to get to the upper level parking lot.  Someone should have explained to the architect that there is a reason for calling the place “Mountainside”.

A look at the detail once revitalization has been completed.

With the entrance now moved to the northern end of the site it might be a little difficult to figure out where you’re supposed to go the first time you visit but after that – it will make a lot of sense and be a lot easier to get in and out of the building.  Burlington is currently on a bit of a sign blitz – so expect there to be good signage at the entrance to the site.

It is going to be a very significant improvement to a site that is heavily used by the community.  Good on John Taylor for steering the development of this project for his ward.

Burlington has seven arenas with two that are older than Mountainside: Nelson is 47 years old and Central is 44 years old.  The newest is the arena on Appleby.

The Mountainside site was first opened forty two years ago.  The pool was opened in 1962 and an arena added in 1969.

ZAS Architects have done some very innovative work on the lower Don River part of Toronto and based on their presentation they have brought the same innovation and quality to the Mountainside site.

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Committed shopper didn’t take to the Momstown line ups – suggests going on line to save time or head for the Mall.

Sarah O’Hara, a Burlington Mother of two, who is completing a joint Arts Degree/Teaching certificate program at York University, will be our “Critical Consumer” with regular contributions once she has finished her studies this April.  A hearty welcome to her.  This lady has a keen eye for value.

By Sarah O`Hara

BURLINGTON, ON March 31, 2012   When a friend sent me an email about a Momstown clothing sale, I thought I’d check it out.  Last summer my daughter still fit into the shorts, Capri’s and sundresses from the summer before, although they were much shorter than they were originally.  I know I won’t luck out again this year, so I am going to have to buy some new things.  My friend Christy’s son is three years older than mine, and she hands down all of his clothes to us.  We aren’t fortunate enough, however, to have a close friend or relative with a daughter slightly older and bigger than mine, so we have to shop for my six-year-old, Laura.

I have to admit, I do love to shop.  Usually I go from Burlington Mall to Mapleview Mall and buy whatever is cute or on sale or durable – all of these are factors in my decisions on clothing for Laura.  However, this year we have a different financial situation in my household, so I have to pay more attention than usual to price tags.  Thus, when I found out about the Momstown sale I decided to go.

The dream view for every Mother shopping for childrens clothing at bargain prices.

The email said the first hundred people would get a goody bag.  I like to get anything for free so I resolved to be there right at eight o’clock, when the sale began.  However, when setting my alarm last night I was hesitant to set it too early.  After all, it has been a busy week with six a.m. wakeups – Saturday is my morning to sleep in a bit.  Besides, would anyone actually show up to buy used clothing and toys at eight o’clock on a cold Saturday morning?

As luck would have it, my kids woke me up by seven thirty anyway, and by eight o’clock Laura and I were out the door.  It’s only a few minutes from our house to the Angelic Treasures Christian Childcare Centre on Mountainside Road where the sale was held.  We turned onto the street just after eight and immediately saw cars and minivans being rerouted from the already-full parking lot.  I groaned inwardly but was determined to follow through on my aim to be financially smart and buy some decent second hand clothes.  After all – how long do kids actually wear their clothes?  I have donated outfits that have been worn less than a handful of times.  Kids grow – fast.  It seems silly to pay full price for clothes that only last one season.

I parked on the street and Laura and I trudged through the still-snowy grass to the back of the Centre, following bright orange signs hung with balloons directing us toward the entrance.  As soon as we turned the corner I groaned again – this time out loud.  There were at least sixty people queued up at the entrance.  Mothers, grandmothers, women with very pregnant bellies, a few men, strollers, toddlers, and women with politely unobtrusive lumps under their jackets obviously concealing babies.  We made our way to the end of the line.  I spoke to the woman in front of me who told me she is not a member of Momstown, the hosts of the sale, but that she often comes to these types of sales.  The woman behind me told me she is from Lindsay and is staying in Burlington with her in-laws for the weekend.  She is not a member of Momstown either, but heard about the sale on Kijiji.  She often finds out about such sales through the Internet and plans for them when she comes to Burlington, as she said there is very little of this sort of thing in Lindsay.

This isn't the line up outside the Angelic Treasures Christian Childcare Centre on Mountainside Road but it paints the picture our Critical Consumer, Sarah O'Hara wants to pass along - the line ups were just too long.

By this time I counted forty people in front of us and forty behind us.  It was ten after eight.  Slowly, slowly, the line moved.  When we were close to the doorway a Momstown representative came around with a clipboard and ballot entries for a draw.  With fingers numbed from the cold I filled out my information and asked her if this type of lineup is usual.  She assured me these sales always draw such a crowd.  Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, only a few shoppers are allowed into the sale at one time.  Laura and I finally gained entrance and were relieved to feel the warm air.  However, we were then stuck in a tiny vestibule for about ten minutes.  This was both the entrance and the exit, so we were routinely pushed up against the wall while people left with sacks full of goodies from clothing to ride-on toy cars.

One of the people exiting was an old high school friend, Lee-Ann.  She stopped to chat for a moment and told me she used to be a member of Momstown, but because she worked she was able to make very few of the scheduled events.  She told me the meetings are generally held on week days in the afternoons and because of her hours as a working mother she was never able attend.  She felt the group is best for stay-at-home mothers or those still on maternity leave with young babies.

We eventually made it to the table in the lobby where we could choose which draw to put our ballot in.  I let Laura pick and she chose an Avon draw.  I’m sure the stuffed panda in the basket helped to sway her vote.  I paid my Toonie to the volunteer at the desk, and then we lined up again to wait for a certain number of people to leave before we could enter the sale proper.  A volunteer told me that to my right was the boys’ clothing, across the hall toys, and through to the left girls’ clothes.  After that I could continue through to check out.

In about five minutes, after receiving some signal I was not aware of, the volunteer told us we could go in.  Laura and I entered a small room lined with racks of boys’ clothes.  They started from 0-6 months, 6 months to a year, and so on.  The final rack held clothes for ages five and up – this was the one rack that applied to my family in the crowded room.  I rummaged through the hangers of assorted clothes, each marked with a price and the identification number of the seller.  The clothing ranged from brand new looking to very well worn.  I finally found a pair of camouflage shorts for $2.

Mothers shopping for clothing. This wasn't a photograph of the Monstown sale - but it's what you run into when there are crowds looking for bargains.

We then moved into the toy room.  This room had games, books, videos, puzzles, cars and dolls.  It also held exersaucers, playpens, bicycles, vibrating “bouncy” chairs and safety gates.  The prices ranged from a few dollars to about fifty dollars.  I saw a bouncy chair for five dollars sitting right beside one nearly identical for thirty.  I am not sure who set the prices but the range didn’t make sense to me.  I browsed through a table of toy cars and was surprised to see some broken cars for $3.  I saw a large tent-like castle which looked like fun but it was $45 – far more than I would pay for such a toy.  The toy room was well organized however, and had many books and toy animals neatly packaged in zippy bags at reasonable prices.

Finally Laura and I entered the room we had come to see – girls’ clothes.  Again the racks were organized by age.  The racks with clothes for young children were bursting at the seams, while the one we were interested in – age five and up – had very little on it.  I managed to find two cute pairs of Capri pants for $2 each.

I spoke briefly with Andrea Kovacs, who told me she owns Momstown Hamilton.  Momstown is a franchise.  The first one was started right here in Burlington, and now there are twenty chapters nation-wide.  She told me the $45 per year membership fee pays for all the events and get-togethers members can enjoy.  There are both on- and off-line programme events for members, and each event aims to include six pillars that are fundamental in infant and child development.  These include literature, nutrition and fitness, art and music, play and socializing, math, and science.  The programme also helps mothers to make connections with others.  She further informed me that a recent study by the University of Waterloo confirmed that Momstown plays a distinct role in helping new mothers deal with illness such as post-partum depression.  Andrea told me that they had thirty sellers there today, and that sixty per cent of their sellers were not members.  They have this sale biannually.

Momstown seems to be geared to the stay at home Moms with younger children

When my children were babies we frequented the Burlington Family Resource Centres.  Laura was just two weeks old when we first attended “Calling New Parents,” where I learned all the ins and outs of being a new mother.  I met many new mothers there whom I still call friends today.  We met at each others’ homes, took our babies on walks and to movies.  The Centre grew with our children and we were able to register for programs such as Mother Goose, Creep Crawl and Toddle, and Creative Movement and Arts.  There are no fees involved and it is a fantastic network for new parents who want to seek out connections and learn about parenting.  I guess the biggest difference from the Early Years Centres and Momstown, besides the fee, is the on-line connection.  Momstown also hosts events and field trips (which cost extra on top of your yearly fees).

After speaking with Andrea, Laura and I moved on to pay for our three pairs of pants.  Of course we were met with yet another line up.  A volunteer took the tags off my clothing and put them in an envelope.  Then I moved to another line where a volunteer behind a table totaled my bill and gave me a receipt to take to yet another volunteer, whom I paid.  She cheerfully asked me if I got the information for another sale just a few blocks away hosted by BAMOM (Bay Area Mothers of Multiples).  I replied just as cheerfully that I did, but inside I was aching for the anonymity of a good old mall where I could walk in and out of stores at my will without having to pay to get in, nor wait in lineups to enter and pay, or collect stacks of flyers and coupons (which is pretty much all my “goody bag” held).

This lady was NOT at the Momstown sale - her pet would not have put up with the lineups. Don't think she would have either.

So I spent six dollars for three items – a very good deal.  But it took me an hour, and about forty-five minutes of that was spent in lines or shoulder-to-shoulder with other people.  I think I will make my way to Burlington Mall next week and see if I can get good deals for Laura’s summer wardrobe without this hassle.  I am all for recycling and up-cycling, and for new mothers I would highly recommend buying second-hand items such as cribs and high chairs.  But for me, as the parent of a four- and six-year-old, this was more hassle than it was worth.  In the future if I want to buy used items, I will do it from the comfort of my home and shop on Kijiji.

The Burlington Momstown can be found at:  https://burlington.momstown.ca/

An excellent little shop on Main Street in Milton has no line ups and a very wide range of  slightly used and new clothing at bargain prices. SnailsnPails  221 Main Street East, Milton –   https://www.snailsnpails.com/

 

 

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Burlington business crowd gets goosed by McMaster prof – advises them to use Google alerts.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON,ON March 31, 2012  Nick Bontis, one of the uber prof’s at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road in Burlington, told a business audience that there are currently 2.1 billion IP addresses in the world that has a population of 7 billion when Nick last counted.

An IP address is the unique address given to your computer when it goes out into the internet.

The premise of the presentation Bontis was giving is that if you think you are being bombarded with more email than you can manage now – get ready for the tidal wave, because we are about to have mail from – wait for it – your car, your refrigerator and dozens of other devices that will have a level of computerization built into them

Bontis told an Economic Development network meeting how to prepare for information bombardment.

Bontis is energetic, speaks faster than anyone I’ve ever heard and still be understood.  He is certainly informed and while there is a big entertainment quotient to what he does – he makes his point and explains where changes have been made in the way we communicate and suggests what we are going to have to do to cope with the change that is already on its way.

For those who can’t cope or don’t want to cope with the change Bontis doesn’t suggest a cave somewhere but he doesn’t seem to have any other option for them.  But let’s be optimistic and go with the flow Bontis creates.

Here is a scenario he painted for the audience at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation’s Mayor’s I “Imagine-Ignite-Innovate” luncheon series.

You’re driving along in your car and the car talks to you – “running a little low on gas – the lowest price ahead is $1.27 a litre – GPS has you three minutes away.”

Seconds later the fridge calls and says: “If you’re turning in for gas cross the road when you come out and pick up three litres of milk – none left in the fridge and the price is very good.  GPS has you just a minute or two away.”

You come away from the gas station with a full tank, the milk is in the cooler in the trunk and as you drive north the GPS pipes in and tells you “ there has been an accident three minutes away” and gives you two alternate routes to avoid the traffic delay.  You make a left turn and you’re passing a mall and Holt Renfrew calls to say “there is a very good deal on a jacket that will go very well with the slacks you bought a month earlier” and then photo shops a picture of you in your slacks with the jacket they are suggesting you buy and puts the image up on the  small screen in the car – when you are at a stop light -and then advise you that “you have enough points in your Holt Loyalty card to get the jacket for next to nothing.”

That’s the world Dr. Nick Bontis sees coming our way – and he should know – he teaches graduate students at McMaster on just how to do this.  All the pieces to put an information flow like this exist today and some of them are already in place and operational – and it will be privacy be damned,

Bontis made another strong point – 80% of the world’s population speaks, read and writes either Hindu, Chinese and Arabic – “which we don’t understand.  And we are arrogant enough to think that if it wasn’t thought about in English or written up in English then it isn’t important.  We are letting a lot of information and ideas get away on us.”

Yet another point made with his audience (this guy delivers value for money) was that time wasn’t the thing that was scarce – it is our  “attention span” that is scarce.  How much attention span do you have – can you increase that span?

Like any good prof there was homework and a quick quiz.  Bontis gave out a link to his web site with a special extension for the people at the BEDC luncheon.  How many people actually clicked on the link?  If you missed noting it: Here you go – www.nickbontis.com/BEDC.htm

How do we deal with the massive flow of data?  We create sort acronyms that convey information: BYOB, LOL, FYI, FTE – there are thousands of the things that allow us to communicate faster.

Bontis explains that we have to learn how to work “smarter” and that means controlling the flow of information that comes to us.

If the  rate at which you read is the average of 200 words per minute (I could have written WPM) and you use acronyms like FTE for Full Time equivalent – you’ve just goosed the rate at which you read.  The kids have taught us how to do this – they know the direction things are going in.  Do you?

Google Alerts – use them says Bontis, one of the most popular prof’s in the country and you just know after five minutes with this guy that the students love him.

Training and development – critical says the prof.  He uses the formula T&D/FTE – which will tell you how much money a corporation spends on training and developing its staff. When looking for a job says the prof, look for a company with a high T&D/FTE ratio – you know you’re going to get grown there.

Given that information is coming at us a tonne at a time Bontis tells you – learn to read faster.  And you can learn to read faster he assures you.

Dr. Nick Bontis explains how we can begin to deal with the information bombardment coming our way.

While email is a great way to communicate – it will never replace face to face.  “Bontis tells of the boss he had while he was in the securities business who told him: “I want you to take someone out for lunch every day.  That way you will build up a network that will serve you very well in the future.

And, he added, don’t forget alumni.  Remember the people you used to work with, or the people who once worked for the company you are with now.  They have all kinds of institutional knowledge that is available to you – especially over lunch.

During the BEDC luncheon Mayor Goldring made mention that Gillian Sheldon was leaving the organization after eight years.  He wished her well on the new direction she was taking.  Gillian was the longest serving staffer at the BEDC – when she goes out the door a lot, if not all, of the institutional memory goes with her.  Will the BEDC head honchos do a solid exit interview with her and keep in touch or will they sulk over losing a good one and lose touch.

Bontis has a number of goodies on his web site.  If you want to extend the value of the fifty bucks or so you spent for that lunch, create a Google Alert and keep in touch with this guy.  Begin an email relationship with the guy – he wants one with you.  www.nickbontis.com

 

 

 

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Predators are still out there. Caution your children and think about giving them a whistle.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 30, 2012  On March 28th at 3:40 p.m. a ten-year-old boy was walking east along Blairholm Ave, approaching Courtland Dr., in Burlington when he saw a truck driving along beside him at his pace.  It was 3:40 in the afternoon on Wednesday.  The boy reported the next day that the driver of the vehicle lowered the passenger window and asked the boy if he wanted a drive home. When the offer was refused the driver then asked where the boy lived. The boy continued walking. The truck followed for another few second, made a U-turn, and was last seen westbound along Blairholm Ave.

The driver in this incident is described as male, white, tanned complexion, 30s, 5’9” – 6’0” tall, large build, medium length hair, and goatee. He was wearing a brown shirt with a gold coloured logo.

The vehicle is described as a black, older model, extended cab, pick-up truck – possibly a Ford F150. The truck had several dents and scratches along the passenger side and was generally in poor condition.

Give them a whistle - Kids might think it silly - until they are frightened and pull it out and use it

Parents might caution their children, do so carefully, that they should not accept rides from strangers and if they are being followed to slip into a store or a place where there are other people.  Parents might want to give their children one of those Foxcroft whistles – there are inexpensive plastic ones available.  If there is any doubt about their safety just take out the whistle and blow like crazy.

Nothing scares predators like the sound of a whistle.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2385, 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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Milky substance colouring Sheldon Creek. Ministry and city staff onsite. Not thought to be dangerous but caution advised.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 30, 2012  That milky look to the water in Sheldon Creek early this morning still hasn’t been identified by Ontario Ministry of Environment people.  City Roads and Parks Maintenance people say that all they know is that there is a higher than normal level of acidity to the water but nothing that could be described as dangerous.

Unhealthy however and you want to keep your pets on a leash if you are in the area.

Cleanup crews and equipment are on site ensuring that the chemical spill doesn't spread.

Mop up crews are on site with flotation devices that slow down the flow of water and allow skimming of anything on the surface.

The Ministry people will work their way up the creek to find the source of whatever it is that is colouring the water and increasing the acidity levels.

We will tell you more when there is more to tell.

The spill into the creek took place early Friday morning between Sherwood Forest Park and John Lucas Drive which is where all the clean up activity is taking place.

 

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Chemical spill in Sheldon Creek being managed. Residents and pets advised to steer clear of the creek.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 30, 2012  Somewhere around 5:00 pm, March 29th, 2012 the Ministry of the Environment was alerted to an unknown chemical spill in the Sheldon Creek area at Sherwood Forest Park in the City of Burlington.

What the makeup of the spill is – not known yet, but the team on sight managing the problem believes the spill originated from the area of John Lucas Drive. The chemical in the water has yet to be identified however the Halton Regional Police Service, Ministry of the Environment and the City of Burlington are urging residents and their pets to stay clear of the waterway until the Ministry is able to determine the nature of the chemical and the possible potential dangers.

A chemical spill into the Sheldon Creek has resulted in the watercourse being cordoned off from John Lucas Drive to Sherwood Forest Park.

The contaminated area of Sheldon Creek has been cordoned off from John Lucas Drive to Sherwood Forest Park and it is believed that this is the only affected area. The Ministry of the Environment, City of Burlington and NEWALTA Environmental Services are actively treating the waterway and surrounding embankments.

At 2:30 am police report that the experts on site believe this is the only affected area. The Ministry of the Environment, City of Burlington and NEWALTA Environmental Services are actively treating the waterway and surrounding embankments.

Cities across Ontario have well-rehearsed protocols for handling situations like these and contractors are on standby to move in with spill cleanup equipment.  The Ministry of the Environment and their chemical investigators are on site as well attempting to determine what the chemical is and where it came from.

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First it was fire trucks getting into SOM at Spencer Smith; now it’s getting adequate parking space for sponsors and vendors.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 30, 2012 It’s tough getting the respect you think you deserve.   Dave Miller, Executive Director Sound of Music (SOM) Festival seems to find himself facing hurdle after hurdle.  It started with city council committee rejecting the SOM request for an additional $34,000 spread out over two years – $17,000 each year.

Miller delegated at two committee meetings and a council meeting and while he came close the best he could do was a “we will work with you on this for the 2013 budget”.  Miller limped away resolved to do the best he could with what he did have.

At a council committee meeting last night, Wednesday,  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward commented that some of the material in the Festival and Events report that was being discussed would have had an impact on the budget discussion if it had been available.  Staff agreed that it was unfortunate that the information in the report had not been made available to people just as soon as it was known rather than wait until it was published in a report. It is not immediately clear just what was in the report discussed last night that could have significantly changed the budget discussions.

Two of the more than 125 Sound of Music volunteers driving in stakes as they set up for Sound of Music.

While not getting the funding he felt SOM had actually earned left Miller with a hard case of indigestion, it was water under the bridge; he had more important issues to deal with.  He learns that the fire department doesn’t want him to use the East Lawn – that space on the Waterfront to the east of the “in progress” pier construction.  Two years ago the SOM people added  a “community stage” and was in the process of building up this feature.  SOM also had plans to move the “bike coral” to this area – that’s the place where people with bicycles can tie up their “wheels”.

Being told that the fire department didn’t want the SOM people in that area because it would impede their ability to get in if there was a fire.  Miller takes a deep breath and meets on the East Lawn with people from the fire department and they look around and decide – no problem – you can be here.

Miller wonders why he gets told that he can’t use the space but when he chases after the people who make the decisions they tell him – it’s OK.   So the East Lawn will be used by SOM in 2012.  Those that take in events on that side of the waterfront will get an up front and personal look at the construction of The Pier.

Feeling that he has put out one fire Miller turns around ready to press on and then learns that the parking the SOM has rented for many years is not going to be available in 2012.

SOM rents 110 spaces in the parking garage on Lotus Street. “We used that space for our sponsors and vendors who need to be as close as possible to the venue.”   Miller says he put in his application last September and asked for 140 spaces this year.  The response – you can’t have 140 spaces – in fact you can’t have any space in the Lotus Street garage – but we can give you space in two different parking lots in the area.

Miller doesn’t understand what has changed.  And he doesn’t understand why he is told now that he can’t have the parking spots. “They could have called me in for a conversation last September.”  Miller wants to know what’s changed and “who is making all these decisions that are really hurting the event we run”.

Miller points out that the Sound of Music Festival has won awards for the past ten years on being one of the top two events in the province; one that Miller maintains contributes $4 million to the Burlington economy.  And the event is free to anyone who wants to walk down to Spencer Smith Park on those nice easy going summer evenings in early June.

To add insult to injury Miller tells people that Hamilton almost showers the events in their community with funding.  The Crawl – an increasingly popular event on North James Street in Hamilton that has the public visiting dozens of art galleries in the area.  The Crawl got more for their event than SOM was asking for from the city.

Hugely popular music event running into static and facing hurdle after hurdle, Line up for 2012 will be announced early in May.

Something has gone amiss with the relationship between the city and an event that is hugely successful from any metric you use to measure.  The SOM was originally a city run event and when it got too big for city hall staff to handle it got spun off to a non-profit.  Miller has been with the event since his early days as a volunteer.

Heading up an operation with more than 125 volunteers, the organization  draws tens of thousands to the city, Miller  works from his kitchen table and uses space at city hall when they have to hold a meeting.  This is an outfit that is very skinny in terms of staff and facilities – everything goes into the event.

On the surface it would appear the Sound of Music Festival deserves more and better consideration.

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Can we expect to see a different format and working relationship between the Economic Development people and city hall?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 29, 2012  The first hint came when the city manager said: “This might not be the best model for the organization.  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation is currently an arm’s length one and they have a specific mandate and we have to decide if that is the mandate it should have and then determine how well it is being met.

The comments were made during a Special Council meeting that had the words “Board of Directors” at the top of an Agenda rather than the words City Council.

Kyle Benham, Executive Director, Burlington Economic Development Corporation. Thinking through a Prosperity Index.

Burlington Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kyle Benham was explaining how his organization works with the different economic sectors to keep an eye open for new business opportunities for the city as well as keeping in touch with those already here and growing.   With a Strategic Plan in place that calls for a prosperous community – Benham and his crew are expected to kick in and be a large part of creating that prosperity.  So far it hasn’t worked and many are wondering if the city manager might have a point – the model we are using may not be quite right.

There hasn’t been a major new business brought to the city for some time, and worse, several we may have had a chance with that got away on us.  There doesn’t seem to be a solid, credible program in place to attract people to this city.

When Money Sense magazine declared Burlington was the 2nd best city in the country to live in the BEDC put out a special press release labelled Important Announcement!   That seems to be the level at which the organization works; putting out press release “full of sound and fury but signifying nothing”.   Many realize that the  Money Sense “listing” is a public relations game and not something that one takes seriously or builds a marketing campaign on.

Mayor Goldring however is going to trot out that listing every opportunity he gets – he did it today at the networking luncheon.

Earlier in the day that Benham delivered his presentation the city’s Auditor, Sheila Jones,  had given the meeting a solid explanation as to just what her job was and what she wasn’t there to do.   While most tend to see auditors as people who count the money and make sure it was spent properly and then, as Councillor Blair Lancaster commented: “They tell you what you can and cannot do.”  Jones explained that auditors do much more than that.  We will tell the Jones story in more detail on another occasion – it’s impressive and if followed through on Burlington will see a much more professional level of accountability.

The BEDC is in an awkward situation.  The model they work within has them holding events to raise much of their revenue.  The organization is reported to raise more than 55% of its revenue through various events it holds which range from the four Imagine, Ignite, Innovate Luncheons which are known generically as the Mayor’s Networking Series.  Then there are the two Economic Outlook Breakfasts and the Signature event – the Entrepreneur of the Year Celebration which is really more of a Lifetime Achievement Award.

These events suck up much of the available staff time and many wonder if these events are really  a meeting of  the mandate – which is to bring new business to Burlington.  Each of the events are  good networking occasions – but just how many networking events does the business community need each year and isn’t this something  the Chamber of Commerce is already doing?

With PROSPERITY a key word in the Strategic Plan it was felt it would be useful to have a Prosperity Index that would pull together a collection of reliable data that would,  in an instant, tell business people how the city was doing economically.  Benham struggled with explanations as to how such an index would be put together; one didn’t get the sense that we were going to see anything useful very soon.

There is development taking place but too much of it is public sector development that creates jobs until the task is done - doesn't create long term well paying jobs - and that is what economic development is all about.

In one part of the presentation Benham asked: “What are the key objectives of an Index? And then went on to list the following: Common Focus on Strategic Objectives, Greater Accountability, High Performance Governance, Evidence based decision making.

These are first year commerce student platitudes.  An Index is a measure.  Show how many widgets were made last month and how many were made this month and ask why the difference.  And did we manage to sell the widgets we made.

These are the questions and answers the manufacturers along Mainway want and it is what they are entitled to from an organization in place to aid in the development of the local economy.  It isn’t an easy job.  Everyone out there realizes that manufacturing as we have known it in Ontario is a thing of the past.  And everyone wants those high paying, high tech, clean jobs.  Those jobs will go to the community that offers the most to the companies looking for a place to live and a place to grow – and they aren’t all that impressed with a sign that says -We are the 2nd best place to live in the country.

Economic development may indeed be more efficiently and effectively delivered if it is run from City Hall.

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“Budget spending climbs, jobs plan a big zero”, claims Burlington MPP McKenna. Prepared to go to the polls again?

We did not write this piece, nor did Burlington MPP Jane McKenna write it.  The document is a canned letter that was made available to all the Progressive Conservative MPP’s.  All they had to do was drop their names in.

The biggest impact the Provincial government is going to have is the notice that the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is going to get done with ground breaking planned for next December.

 

QUEEN’S PARK  March 28, 2012   Burlington MPP Jane McKenna emerged from the budget lock-up today to express her disbelief at the Liberal government’s 2012 Budget, a dismal plan that will do little to stem government spending, spur economic recovery, or create jobs for Ontarians.

“This is an empty gesture,” said Mrs. McKenna. “There’s no plan to make significant structural changes to the way government operates. There’s no plan to deliver the jobs we need. The budget increases spending over last year and – after outsourcing economic vision to Don Drummond – has now apparently outsourced the responsibility for delivering savings.”

 The 2012 Budget revealed that the Finance Minister is hoping to find almost $13 billion in savings through restraint by public sector workers, who are apparently expected to balance the books for the government. The success of the budget depends on this sunny best-case scenario.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna is not going to support the Liberal budget.

As well, the Finance Minister has identified $4.9 billion in savings from overlap and duplication.  “That so-called savings is what most Ontarians would call waste,” said Mrs. McKenna. “To be more specific, it’s Liberal waste. The reality is that this government has waited nine years to commit to spending sensibly. And then they actually have the nerve to talk about ‘the respect we owe all Ontarians who are counting on us to eliminate the deficit.’   “This is a government that doesn’t understand how to budget, doesn’t know how to stop spending, and doesn’t have the stomach to lead real change. It doesn’t have the courage or the creativity to tackle the very real, very serious problems that we’re facing. But it’s still costing taxpayers $10 billion annually to service interest on the debt. We have a deficit now three times the size of all other provinces, combined. We’re barreling toward a $30 billion deficit and a credit downgrade. Ontarians are not just running out of patience. They’re also running out of time.”

This government has lost touch with reality, suggested Mrs. McKenna. ”The McGuinty Liberals make no connection between fiscal responsibility and business confidence, but you can bet Bay Street and the ratings agencies get it,” she said. “Capital is mobile. Investors can go anywhere.  Why would they go somewhere with high levels of debt and high taxes? What we’re seeing is an almost total lack of a jobs plan except for yet another advisory body. It’s a big zero.”

Burlington MPP McKenna appears prepared to see the province plunged into an election over the budget. Does she have election signs left over from the last election - when was that? - less than six months ago.

 “This is the time for tough and responsible fiscal management,” MPP McKenna added. “Today’s budget is a weak and disappointing response to Ontario’s jobs and spending crisis. But there’s absolutely no need for Ontario to be condemned to a $30 billion deficit and continued stagnant economic growth. That’s why I will continue to promote our positive Ontario PC plan to get our economic fundamentals back in shape, as we have been doing every day since the last election.”

Editors note: McKenna doesn’t have a word to say about the hospital news.  The Progressive Conservatives are expected to vote against the budget in the Legislature then cross their fingers and hope that the New Democrats hold their noses and vote for it and thus avoid an election which the PC’s cannot afford – they still owe a reported $6 million from the last election.

 

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