Popular jazz vocalist at the Alexander Barn of the Halton Museum in Kelso. Take in the fall colours as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 29, 2011  Gary Carr, the Chief Cheese over at the Region wants you to know that  “Fall is the perfect time to visit the Halton Region Museum in Kelso, you can take in the fall colours, the beautiful views and round it out with a top notch performance from two well-seasoned and soulful jazz/blues musicians, Terry Blankley and Al Matthews.”

Cool, quiet jazz vocals in a fall colour setting.

The Chair is absolutely right on this one.  The Jazz at the Museum program is great entertainment and very good value.  It would be nice to see the Chair at one of these events – he could use a little R&R and the Missus would probably like a chance to get out of the house.

Artist/composer Terry Blankley will draw you in and warm your spirits on October the 9th.   Described as a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, Terry has been a regular at the grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.  Whether singing Billie Holiday’s classic, “Don’t explain” or the Ray Charles hit, “Hallelujah, how I love her so,” or songs from his latest CD, Cold Weather Blues Blankley is fine entertainment.  Terry will be joined at the Museum by Al Matthews, whose brilliant musical styling’s  and vocals are matched by a wicked sense of humour.

Sunday, October 9th – great way to spend an afternoon – take friends.  Limited tickets are available at the door for $20 per person and include light refreshments. The performance  takes place in the Hearth Room in the Museum’s historic Alexander Barn from 2 to 4 p.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.  You can reserve a ticket by calling 905-875-2200, ext. 27


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Another heavy equipment theft in Burlington. Insurance rates may rise soon. Crime Stoppers could use your help.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 29, 2011 –   The construction industry took another hit the past few days.  A loader was stolen from a Longmoor Drive construction site

The equipment was valued at more than $170,000 so you know it wasn’t taken away in a wheel barrow.  If you’re offered a chance to buy a 2008 John Deere Loader, Model 544J, take a pass on the offer and give 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)

There are always equipment thefts from construction sites – the contractors need to find ways to better secure the equipment at night and on weekends and the police might make a practice of driving by known construction sites regularly but randomly as well.

Perhaps the police could provide a service that allowed contractors to call in and let police know there is equipment on a site.  They could then do drive byes and keep an eye on things.  The thieves will figure out the sites are being watched and look for easier picking.


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We appear to be in the mudslinging phase of the provincial election.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  September 29, 2011  You know someone is running a little on the scared side when they start slinging mud.  However, with every story there is often a grain of truth – and truth be told, political parties do have to fund their campaigns and when they need money it usually calls for a trip to the bank.

And banks don’t give money away – so when you need a loan and you don’t have much in the way of assets – what do you do?  You have to get someone to co-sign the loan, which appears to be what the New Democrats did recently.

Nothing wrong with that.  Every one of us has kids that need a helping hand and we put our “John Henry” on the line for them.

If there is a financial understanding between an organization and a political party it is usually wiser to get the story out before someone else puts it out on you with their spin and not yours.

There was a time when the federal Liberals always had a Senator who was also a Director of one of the largest banks close at hand, so that when an overdraft had to be approved all it took was a phone call.

The NDP has never formed a government and has never been able to give goodies to the banks – and so they have to look to other friends for support.  Nothing wrong with that – just come clean fast.

Here’s the story the provincial Liberals have out on the

 New documents reveal that Andrea Horwath misled reporters and failed to disclose the true relationship between the Ontario Cornerstone Leadership Corporation and the Ontario NDP.

 Asked this morning if Cornerstone plays any financial role in the NDP campaign, Horwath said “None whatsoever.  None whatsoever.  It’s a separate corporation, separate board of directors, no role whatsoever in our campaign, no financial, you know, no financial connection whatsoever.  It’s completely separate.” (Andrea Horwath Media Scrum, September 29, 2011)

 And she continues to duck questions on the whereabouts of $100,425 of taxpayer money and another $100,000 in union funds granted to Cornerstone for accessibility.

 But that’s not the whole story.  Horwath was in a position to know how her party raises money.

 Documents obtained by the Liberals reveal that links between Cornerstone and the NDP are far greater than previously believed.  Not only are all 8 members of the Cornerstone board current or former board members of the NDP, but the corporation is actually bankrolling the NDP’s campaign.

 Land registry documents show:

•           Cornerstone served as collateral for a $4,350,000 loan that is currently financing Horwath’s 2011 campaign

•           Cornerstone served as collateral for a $3,450,000 loan that financed the 2007 NDP campaign

 And contrary to Andrea Horwath’s claim that Cornerstone “has nothing to do” with her, new documents also reveal that Andrea Horwath sat as an ONDP Vice President when the Cornerstone fundraising scheme was hatched, and served as the 2007 NDP Campaign Co-Chair. (OntarioNDP.com)

The Cornerstone campaign’s sole goal was to purchase a property that would finance NDP election campaigns:

•           “The Cornerstone Campaign is a 3-year capital campaign aimed at purchasing a permanent party headquarters in order to finance future election campaigns…purchasing a building will allow the Ontario NDP to continue to qualify for election campaign loans.” (NDP Cornerstone Campaign, The Business Case, pg. 1)

 It’s time Andrea Horwath told reporters and Ontarians the truth on the NDPs intricate relationship with Cornerstone.  It’s time she said what the NDP did with the $100,425 they received from the federal government and provided assurances that money was not funneled to the NDP campaign.  It’s time she returned the money.

When you need money for a project - and an election is a project - you pay a visit to a friendly banker, and if that banker isn't really friendly, you take a freind along who can co-sign for you. All the politicalparties do it - the Liberals want you to know how the NDP is doing it. Why?

What’s interesting about the comments the Liberal’s released about Cornerstone is that they never say what the company does, who owns it and how long it has been around.  Cornerstone is a marketing company that deals primarily in the creating and marketing of lists of names.  Everyone uses lists of names.  When you get an offer from a credit card company mailed to you they bought your name from a broker who developed the list and kept it active.  Good list brokers develop and maintain very sophisticated lists and market them.  It’s all part of the way products are brought to people’s attention and sold.  If you live in an apartment you don’t want an offering for a lawn mower and a good mailing list will not have apartment dwellers on lawn mower lists.

The really good list development people can put together a list that is very tightly targeted.  That’s what Cornerstone does and if they have enough money in the bank and are able to help a political party obtain the loan they need – nothing wrong with that. Just be clear and up front about it.  Play it straight.

Could all this “new” news from the Liberals be because Andrea Horwath did quite a bit better than the Liberals expected in the all candidates debate earlier this week – and that her position in the polls has risen a bit more than the Liberals are comfortable with and they need to knock her down a point or two?  Just asking.

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Wake me up when it’s over!

By Casey Cosgrove

BURLINGTON, ON September 28, 2011  – Is it just my imagination, or does there seem to be a noticeable lack of interest in Burlington over the coming provincial election ?  Naturally, those working on a campaign, directly for a candidate, or as advocates for a specific issue (like the hospital or mid-peninsula highway) probably won’t see it this way as the city serves as a daily campaign battleground until October 6th.

The mainstream media is covering the election as usual, but on the ground here in Burlington, there seems to be very little buzz.  One usual predictor of interest – lawn signs – also tells the story.  Take a drive through the city and you will see relatively few lawn signs staked into the grass Burlington.

A  reading of local newspapers, blogs, campaign brochures, and discussing the coming election with neighbours, friends, and a network of young families in Burlington in recent weeks, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the level of interest among Joe Voter.

I conducted a small, informal survey with 41 busy, working, middle-income individuals, mostly commuters, and most with school-aged children.  These folks are common working Burlington families – a demographic each of the political platforms I have read appear to be targeting on paper.   Of the 41 respondents, 26 will vote in the Burlington riding, while 15 (who live in the Orchard or Millcroft) will vote in the Halton riding.  All are Burlingtonians, but none described themselves as politically ‘active’, or are involved in any of the campaigns under way in either riding.

I asked five basic questions.

 1- Will you be voting in the coming election? 

2 – If you are voting, have you decided whom you will vote for?

3 – How will you determine who will get your vote? (local candidate, party itself,

      party leader, party platform, a combination, a specific issue, or other).

4 – Have you seen a candidate at your doorstep yet?  Does that matter to you?

5 – If you are not voting, have not decided, or are reluctant to vote, why is that?

 19 of 41 respondents (less than 50%) said they will definitely be voting in the coming election.  12 said they might, while 10 said that they won’t bother to vote.  Interestingly, 14 of the 19 who will be voting have already decided whom they will be voting for.

Of the 19 sure voters,

10 said they vote for the party itself,

2 on particular issue,

3 for the local candidate,

1 the party platform,

2 the party leader, and

 3 indicated it was a combination of all of the above.

 Of the 41 respondents, only 1 has seen a candidate show up at their door.  When asked whether this mattered to them, 16 said they’d  like the chance to talk to candidates while 25 said it does not matter to them if a candidate shows up at their door.  Some even stated that they would prefer if they did not see a candidate.   It is worth mentioning that only two respondents were seniors, the rest were younger families, which may better explain this particular result.

As you might guess, the most intriguing, and disturbing responses were to the last question – ‘if you are not voting, have not decided, or are reluctant to vote, why is that?  The responses to this question included

 ‘why bother, they break their promises anyway?’,

 ‘I cannot tell the difference between them’,

 ‘my vote wont count in Burlington anyway’,

‘I do not trust any of them’,

‘I do not feel informed enough to vote’,

‘I do not like politics’,

‘I do not know the options well enough’,

‘there is no issue that I feel particularly strongly about’,

‘I waited 2 hours last election’ and

‘they are all the same, so I do not care who wins’.

 We often focus on the percentage of people that do not vote, but we spend little time analyzing this reluctance or refusal to participate in this

Platforms are full of smoke and mirrors, and are like moving targets. There are plenty of reasons to be disillusions and even disgusted with elements of our electoral process.

democratic right.  It seems clear that many people in Burlington are feeling a lack of engagement, a lack of trust, and a feeling that their vote does not matter.  Why is this?  Are those that do not vote just plain lazy and unappreciative of this right that was fought for?

Perhaps a few, but many have good reason to be fed up.  Election promises are often made and broken. Partisan ‘spin’ has become a prime tactic in campaigns.  Loca

l candidates often ‘hide’ behind the leader, not sharing much about their own credentials and vision.

Once elected, representatives are basically forced to toe the party line, or else they can expect to get comfortable in the backbenches. A vote for a truly independent thinker may be a ‘lost leader’ if that party ends up governing.

Elections seem to be used as much to confuse people as to bring clarity, as the lines between the existing parties have blurred substantially, fighting for a piece of the ‘middle’.  Aspiring candidates spend much of their time obsessing about those in power, rather than trying to engage people with their own ideas and vision.

Platforms are full of smoke and mirrors, and are like moving targets.  There are plenty of reasons to be disillusions and even disgusted with elements of our electoral process.  Getting elected is the  prime goal of those campaigning so there will be no acknowledging these issues during a campaign.  Smile, stay on message, disregard and poke holes in the opponents platform and ideas. Just win.

I am among those that have never missed an opportunity to vote.  I am sometimes offended during elections, and I don’t always have a clear choice that I feel great about, but I always vote.  I care enough to find something I feel strongly enough to vote for.  This is not simply about getting people to cast a vote.

Rather than berating people for not exercising their right to vote, perhaps we should spend more time engaging citizens, exploring things that they do care about, and making them feel heard.  If one really cares about something, and feels ‘heard’, they will vote every time, guaranteed.


Casey Cosgrove has lived for all but five of his many years in Burlington where he has been active in the community.  He ran as  city Councillor in the 2006 municipal election. He  teaches leadership a the University of Guelph and is on leave as a Director of the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy.




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If it works, leave it alone. If it’s broken, fix it. If it cannot justify its existence, it goes.

By Jane McKenna, Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington.

Our Burlington was created to reduce the information deficit that was described and defined in the Shape Burlington report.  As part of this initiative we asked the Progressive Conservative, the New Democratic and the Liberal party candidates to provide material on two features.  The first was an opinion piece on what each candidate thought was not in the best interests of Ontario and Burlington in the other  party’s platform.  The Liberals and the New Democrats participated in the editorial feature.  The Progressive Conservatives declined.

 The second editorial feature was an opportunity for each candidate to set out their political party’s platform.  Today our readers hear from Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran.  Later this week you will hear from NDP candidate Peggy Russell and Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna.


BURLINGTON, ON  September 28, 2011  Dalton McGuinty had his chance. But over the last eight years, he chose gimmicks over growth, indulgence over responsibility.

And again and again: Dalton McGuinty raised taxes. He raised taxes even after he signed a pledge not to raise taxes: With Dalton, “put it in writing” isn’t a protection. It’s a temptation.

Right now, Dalton is on another of his spending sprees – from his secret deals with unions to raise their pay to his expensive energy experiments that are running up hydro bills.

And you know how Dalton McGuinty plans to pay for all this secret spending? Of course you know. With another tax increase should he win the next election. In fact, the McGuinty team has their next round of tax increases planned already, such as the Carbon Tax, Smart Meter User Tax, Water tax and school board property tax.

Our changebook is a stark contrast from the Liberals and the NDP’s platforms. Not only is it completely costed, but it is the only platform to have been written by Ontario families, seniors and small business owners.

We say it’s time for change. Change that gives families the relief they need and the hope they deserve.

Instead of raising taxes for most – while lavishing special breaks for the favored few – we will provide broad based income tax relief.

We will lower taxes 5 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income and allow income-sharing for couples, providing over $1400 in tax relief annually for families.

This change is an important step towards recognizing that there really is a family budget.

We will double the caregiver tax credit. That’s compassion and it’s the relief families need when taking care aging parents or critically ill family members.

And we will remove HST from home heating and hydro bills. And then we will remove the debt retirement charge, the DRC, from your Hydro bill.

The charge was imposed in 2002 to pay off Hydro’s residual stranded debt.

All of the debt principal was paid in full by 2010. But the charge was not removed! It was extended to 2018.

Can you imagine if a bank did this to you as a credit card customer?

You’ve paid off your balance – congratulations – but we’re going to keep hitting you for interest payments anyway? They’d go to jail.

Late campaign start was soon overcome. LAwn sign team seems to be winning the battle at that level. Two copies of the Changebook needed by the candidate - one to read and the other to put under her pillow.

But in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, it’s just another experiment in creative revenue enhancement.

Under a PC Government – it will be gone.

As we relieve families of tax burdens, we will restrain spending in a responsible way that protects health and education.

We will increase healthcare spending with an extra $6 billion.

The Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment will be a priority for a Tim Hudak government.

Under Dalton McGuinty, 24,000 seniors are still waiting for access to a long term care beds. We will fix this by investing in 40,000 long term care beds.

Under Dalton McGuinty, Ontarians are waiting more than 26 hours in emergency rooms. We will fix this by implementing ER wait time guarantees that put hospital CEOs accountable.

Under Dalton McGuinty, one million Ontarians still do not have a family doctor. We will fix this by bring more doctors, nurses and physicians to communities that need them.

Under Dalton McGuinty, half of urgent cancer patients don’t receive care within the recommended wait times; eliminated 2,500 nursing positions and cut 4.3 million hours of nursing care; and closed two ERs. We will fix this.

We won’t be spending that money the way McGuinty did – to hire Walt Disney world performers to entertain LHIN bureaucrats.

In fact, we’ll abolish the LHINs, which have wasted $300 million on unnecessary bureaucracy. That money could have gone to the redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, which just shows you the priorities of the Liberal Party.

Excellent healthcare costs money. Ontarians pay the price and pay the price willingly. But we get mad when we are told to pay for bureaucracy and bloat.

Beyond health and education, we will work to find 2% in responsible savings throughout the government. That’s two cents on the dollar each year until we get this province’s budget balanced again.

It took 23 Premiers 136 years to do what Dalton McGuinty did in just eight- double the debt.

Ontario has a serious problem. If you were to compare Ontario (population of just over 13 million) versus California (population larger than Canada at over 34 million) and were to take each of their debts and divide equally for every citizen, Ontario would be worse off. Each Ontarian (including infants) would be paying over $16,500 and each Californian $9,000.

What Ontario can live without, we will live without.

Ontario has almost 630 different Agencies, Boards and Commissions. Every one of them will be reviewed to ensure they are providing good value.

Our process will be straightforward. If it works, leave it alone.

If it’s broken, fix it.

If it cannot justify its existence, it goes.

We will shrink Dalton McGuinty’s bloated public sector and bring public-sector salaries into line with private-sector realities.

McKenna listens and she responds quickly. Given the short, short length of her camapign - she got the jist of it all.

We believe in paying public servants what is fair.

But I also believe in taxing Ontarians no more than is fair.

We will bring fairness and democracy to our labour law.

We will uphold the right to a secret ballot in certification votes.

We will introduce pay cheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support.

Unions spend more money on Ontario elections than any of our political parties, but with much less transparency.

Which means that public-sector collective bargaining in Ontario often puts union leaders on one side of the table – and politicians elected by union money on the other side.

Who’s looking out for the taxpayer?

Dalton McGuinty can’t do it. I can. I will.

In this northern nation, heat is not a luxury. In this industrial province, electricity powers our jobs.

For Dalton McGuinty to hike the power bills of ordinary families so that he can pay higher prices to special favorites – it’s a rip-off and it’s wrong.

That is why we will end the $7 billion sweetheart Samsung deal.

A PC government will restore the fundamental principle: one law for all.

If you or I decided to open an illegal cigarette factory in our backyards, we’d have the OPP on us two hours later.

But some lawbreakers are more equal than others in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario.

Lawbreakers will use their time in provincial prison to repay society: picking up litter, raking leaves.

We’d especially like to see prisoners using mop and pail to clean up the graffiti that defaces our cities and towns – and that threatens law-abiding citizens with the message – gangs rule here, and there’s nothing the authorities can do.

If entrusted with the government of Ontario, those who fight the law will find… the law won.

For 8 years, Dalton McGuinty has governed Ontario by his unique ideology. If it works, break it.  If it’s broken, hide it.  If you run out of money, borrow more.

Everything is government’s business, but nothing is ever government’s fault.

We have the opposite point of view: a practical plan for Ontario families.

Changebook.  If it works, leave it alone. If it’s broken fix it. If you are out of out money, stop spending.  When things are going wrong, change them. Respect working people. Support families. Create opportu

Ted Chudleigh, running as the PC candidate in Halton and the current member, Joyce Savoline who announced her retirement opening up the seat for a newcomer, were on hand for one of McKenna's first campaign forays.

nity. Restore hope.

And whatever else you do, never ever stop believing in the great future of this beautiful province of Ontario and its compassionate, hard-working people.

Now decision day has almost arrived. I’m looking to you, for your support – to deliver the change that Ontario families need. The choice on October 6th is clear.

Vote Liberal and vote for more tax increases, more surprises, more misplaced priorities, more experiments with your money, and more and more of your money being wasted on bureaucracy and bloat.

Or you can vote for change- change that delivers families relief on their taxes and hydro bills; that guarantees the services that matter most to you; and change that cleans up government.

Together we will change this province – and restore Ontario as the best place on this earth to live, start a business, and raise a family.

Dalton McGuinty won’t do it. Dalton McGuinty can’t do it. We can. We will.

I will represent you with passion and distinction- listening, working hard and delivering the results that matter most to you, so that this community remains the greatest in Ontario.

On October 6th, vote Jane McKenna, PC Candidate for Burlington.

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Dreadful, is being polite. Not one of the candidates roused any interest or enthusiasm. Surely Burlington can do better than this.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 27, 2011  The Chamber of Commerce web site said “No walk ins” – implying that if you hadn’t reserved a seat you were out of luck because the place was full.  A busload of people could have walked in and the room still wouldn’t have been full.  The event was the first time Burlington has seen all three candidates in the provincial election at the same podium.  Maybe the rain dampened everyone’s enthusiasm to see what the political choices were.

The soup was on the thin side.  The only time there were any amusing answers was when the issue of a gas fired generating plant was mentioned and all three candidates came back with a “not on my watch”.  The question was – given that Oakville has turned down a gas fired energy plant and now that Mississauga has said they don’t want the thing either could Burlington be home for the plant?   And that was about as exciting as it got.

Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran, out on his third all candidate event but his first with Progressive Conservative Jane McKenna didn’t make it.  New Democrat Peggy Russell was on point and her energy was certainly evident,  but this was a Chamber of Commerce crowd and they tend not to want to hear about the poor and the suffering.  McKenna held her own.

The questions were a lot better than the answers that were given and because of the format – you wrote out a question and it was asked of each candidate in a rotating order – you had the table with the Tory supporters writing out questions and having them asked – then the Liberal supporters would do the same thing.

The predictable answers to the question of raising the minimum wage: Liberals have  already raised it, Conservatives would leave it where it is and the NDP saying it had to be raised because it wasn’t even keeping up with inflation.

Burlington’s conservatives are still at that point where they believe that keeping wages at the minimum level keeps the costs down – they’ve yet to learn that if the minimum wage is raised people have more money to spend which results in higher sales.  They will get it over time.

What was disturbing, and I mean really disturbing, was the way all three candidates would dive into their briefing books to look for the party position on the question they had been asked.  McKenna didn’t seem to be able to get through a question without referring to her briefing book,  Karmel Sakran wasn’t much better and even Peggy Russell had to refer to her notes.

At times the candidates seemed to be racing through what they were reading to ensure that they didn’t get caught by the time keeper.

One of the questions late in the event was to “put the scripts aside and tell us why you want the job”  McKenna came back with why she went after the job – which just wasn’t true.  The Progressive Conservatives recruited her when they couldn’t find anyone else or didn’t like those who had put their names forward. McKenna got talked into the job, she was originally the campaign manager for Rene Papin who withdrew when the PC association asked him to do so.

McKenna then said something that was surprising.  She said that the “severity of where we are is not understood” by most people and then added that she was “overwhelmed by how much she didn’t know”.  To her credit McKenna has learned a lot – she had a lot to learn but she is more than ‘hanging in there’.  She is earning her spurs.  For a period of time she had chosen to be a peek-a-boo candidate.  She would go to events that were safe for her.  Her handlers should have let her out of the bubble they had her in earlier.  She may not be steeped in all this political stuff but she is learning and punching above her weight.

This was an event that Karmel Sakran should have taken hands down.  He is the most qualified candidate for provincial office, and he is said to be one of the best candidates the Liberals have had for some time.  He is a local boy who has done very well and has done more than his share in terms of community service.  But the room he spoke to Tuesday morning was a room that was not moved by Karmel Sakran.  He wasn’t able to move the words he read off the page.  I am sure he is just as disappointed as his supporters.

There was very little spontaneity and even less passion from any of the candidates.  During the last federal all candidates meeting and the municipal event almost a year ago I don’t recall seeing candidates sitting there with briefing books.  It was absolutely amazing to watch each candidate flip to the appropriate page in their briefing book.

The concern going in was – would McKenna show up.  And of course she had to show up and while her performance was passable at best she looked pretty good because the others just weren’t all that good.

Cogeco Cable had three cameras set up in the room – if they broadcast any of what they filmed they will surely be in the running for one of the worst public service performances ever put on by candidates for public office.  It was dreadful.

Peggy Russell kept having problems with the time allocation.  The Chamber of Commerce had a time keeper who would hold up a yellow care signifying that you were about to run out of time and a red card saying you were out of time and you got cut off.  Russell should have learned that when she saw yellow she had to say five more words of which the last two should have been thank you.

Sakran, a lawyer by training, droned on several times as he read from his briefing book – for a man of his experience that just wasn’t acceptable.

If you were an executive with a large corporation and you had asked Human Resources to advertise a job and send you their top three candidates and you interviewed each one of them – you would have asked Human Resources to run the ad again.  The first batch just weren’t all that good – with the possible exception of Peggy Russell who would be out there fighting the good fight.


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Council offices, the Mayors Open Door and seeing taxpayers as revenue and city hall staff as an expense.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 27, 2011  The Mayor has always been on the eighth floor of city hall.  Up until very recently Council members were in dingy little offices on the ground floor where the windows were so high up in the wall that you could hardly see out and some councillors didn’t even have windows.

The space for the councillors and their assistants was moved to the seventh floorwhere there is more light and the offices are,while not spacious – they are decent and their assistants are all close at hand. There isn’t any sense of individual privacy for a council member by which I mean if you pay a visit to your Council member, every other council member can see who you are.  So if you’re looking for a confidential meeting – pick a coffee shop somewhere.

If you want to see your council member they ask you to call and make an appointment and they will have someone come to the reception area and take you to the seventh floor.  It’s a little awkward but security is a wee bit on the high side at city hall.  There was an incident at a city hall in the Niagara area I think, where someone went in with a baseball bat – and council across the province installed various levels of security.

What would be useful is a small meeting office on the ground floor where you could meet with a council member and enjoy a cup of coffee.  But we’re not there yet.

Mayor Goldring is constantly looking for new ways to involve the people he represents - next idea for him is going to be an Open Door day.

The Mayor is taking this meeting with the voters one step further and is going to hold what he calls an Open Door – his office is just “open”.

FRIDAY September 30th  10:00 am to 3:00 pm

No appointment necessary – just drop by city hall. Tell reception you are there to see the Mayor and you will get escorted to the top floor and have your meeting with the Mayor.  Please don’t take your baseball bat.

The city has installed a new telephone system that is going through the usual kinks and bugs.  One very senior person at city hall wondered aloud why the city would spend as much as it did for the new telephone system when people don’t use the telephone the way they used to.  My informant said that the bulk of his communication is by email and texting.  He might find that they’ve taken away his desk telephone and given him a megaphone.

In every business there is what the academics and the consultants refer to as the “core competency” – that is the one thing, sometimes several things that you are really good at – and the thing you are known for.

So what should the “core competency” be for the civic administration.  They are not a service you choose – you own a house, you pay taxes, you drive on a road and it is cleared of snow and that work is paid for by your taxes; but you don’t have much in the way of choice.  A city doesn’t have to do very much to get your business – they’ve got you.

So what is it that you have a right to expect from your municipal government?  If you don’t like the policies or the tax rate you can elect a new council member, but you don’t have much choice on the staff side of things.

Burlington has been talking about ‘improving’ customer service which is nice to know.  They have a web site – which is a bit of a challenge to navigate.

I want to pass along to you an experience we had when we wanted to learn more about the tax deferral plan the city has in place.  The subject of deferring tax increases for seniors that want to remain in homes they own but find that they face some difficulty with tax increases when they are on fixed income.  We will come back to what the various tax deferral programs are later – for the moment let us share our experience with city hall.

                     Your request for information for Property Tax Deferral for Seniors has been passed to me.

 May I suggest that you review the information on our web site.


 Click on City Hall

Click on Departments

Click on Finance

 Scroll down to Property Tax Rebates, directly below Taxation.

 The 5th item is a question and answer document pertaining to the Low Income Seniors and Low Income Persons with Disabilities Tax Deferral .

Directly beneath that is the application document.

 In addition, you will find information under the 3rd bullet for the Low Income Seniors Property Tax Rebate as well as an application for 2011.

 Once you have reviewed this material, should you have any questions, please contact me.


Customers have a way of telling you they are not being served very well. Are you listening?

Is this customer service?  I managed to get through to where the tax collector wanted me to be – understanding what I read when I got there was another matter.

If there is a senior out there who thinks the tax deferral program will help them and they want to know more, the information the city provides leaves much to be desired.  Most people will just give up.  I am on line for more than a third of every day and often well into the evenings and I didn’t find the instructions all that helpful when I finally got to them – there was the kind of information only a lawyer would appreciate.  What is someone who does not have much in the way of computer literacy going to do?

New offices for council members were necessary – they deserved attractive, bright offices to work in.  The Mayor is doing the right thing with his experiments in getting through to the people he serves.  City hall staff have a long way to go however to provide a user friendly web site and a level of customer service that respects just who the citizens are.  In the real world, the tax payers are revenue, city hall staff are an expense.  Which ones do you cut first and which one do you give the most attention?


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This is Burlington’s most important election in decades, Jo Brant Hospital redevelopment in peril under Hudak


Our Burlington was created to reduce the information deficit that was described and defined in the Shape Burlington report.  As part of this initiative we asked the Progressive Conservative, the New Democratic and the Liberal party candidates to provide material on two features.  The first was an opinion piece on what each candidate thought was not in the best interests of Ontario and Burlington in the other  party’s platform.  The Liberals and the New Democrats participated in the editorial feature.  The Progressive Conservatives declined.

 The second editorial feature was an opportunity for each candidate to set out their political party’s platform.  Today our readers hear from Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran.  Later this week you will hear from Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna.

By Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate for Burlington

BURLINGTON, ON  September 26, 2011 — There’s no question: this is the most important provincial election for Burlington in decades… because the Liberal government-commitment to redevelop Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital remains at stake. When it came to our hospital, here’s how the Hudak PCs treated Burlington voters.

This summer, after the McGuinty Liberal government officially endorsed the hospital’s $312 million redevelopment plan, Mr. Hudak stopped in Burlington. The resulting September 16th Post story quoted him saying this:

“If Tim Hudak becomes Premier on Oct. 6, there is no guarantee the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment will be completed under a Progressive Conservative government.”

Five days later, after Ted McMeekin and I held a news conference, Tim Hudak changed his position. He agreed “there is a definite need” but said only a redeveloped hospital “will be a priority” if he forms a government.

Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran at a press conference with fellow Liberal Ted McMeekin

We all know a “priority” is not a “commitment,” so for me, nothing has changed – especially when you look at Hudak’s record. Early on, he vowed to scuttle the HST but later admitted it was OK and he wouldn’t change it. Around the same time, he scoffed at full-day kindergarten, then flip-flopped on that issue as well. The Hudak PCs just seem to make up policy as they go along… when they see a backlash.

To give him his due, Hudak did make a commitment in the earlier Post story; he will definitely proceed with the Mid-Peninsula Highway, which will pave over valuable farm and sensitive escarpment lands in north Burlington.

Here’s the bottom line: the Hudak PCs want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a highway right through his riding that will shave a few minutes off the trip to Highway 401 for truckers from Buffalo and Fort Erie. And to do it, he’ll throw the Jo Brant Hospital redevelopment under a truck.

Put simply, Mr. Hudak’s preference of highways over our hospital is just NOT acceptable to the thousands of voters I’ve spoken to. And the $14 Billion hole in the Hudak PC platform tells me he’ll be doing a lot of slashing in education, health care and other programs that Ontarians deem vital. For instance, to help pay for 229 uncosted promises in his platform, watch him revert back to form when he was a minister in the Harris PC cabinet. Back then, they downloaded billions of dollars of services to towns, villages and cities across the province.

The Harris/Hudak downloads were a huge burden on municipalities, robbing their ability to use property taxes the way their voters chose. Since 2003, the McGuinty government has uploaded the lion’s share of this municipal burden and promises to continue doing it so councils across Ontario can help keep property tax hikes to an absolute minimum. Here in Burlington, the Liberal government uploads now saved the city $4.5 million in 2011 alone.

If we want a redeveloped hospital, Burlington can’t afford a Hudak PC government. If we want to preserve the agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands north of Dundas that make our city the jewel that it is, we can’t afford a Hudak PC government.

I’m the grocer’s son, raised on Ontario Street by parents who stressed the importance of community. I made a conscious decision to return to Burlington after law school to practice here. I was on the Board of Jo Brant Hospital for five years, helped found Carpenter Hospice and continue to organize runs that raise money for various worthy causes.

We’re now less than two weeks away from choosing our government in the provincial election. As Premier McGuinty has often said, what we have achieved together over the past eight years is little short of amazing.

The Liberal government’s unwavering commitment to education has put our system back on track – with smaller class sizes, higher test scores and full day kindergarten.

We have built 18 new hospitals, (the Harris/Hudak team closed 28), expanded or renovated 100 others and more than a million Ontarians now have a family doctor.

And our economy has created more full-time jobs than the rest of Canada combined.

Now, moving forward to create a better, brighter future for our families depends solely on the party Ontarians choose to lead on October 6th.

The Hudak PCs and the Horwath NDP have played politics and flip-flopped on too many important issues that matter to Ontario families. One would think they would have their

Burlington Councillors Rick Craven and Marianne Meed Ward support Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran at press event.

differences, but in fact, they have voted together an astounding 183 times against such initiatives as:

Funding for full-day kindergarten

The $1,100 benefit that is helping more than a million low-income children

Infrastructure stimulus projects that created 70,000 jobs

Second career retraining that has helped more than 47,000 Ontario workers to date.

Over the next five years, the McGuinty Liberal government plans to invest close to $8 billion in new hospitals, creating 79,000 jobs. Remember, the Harris/Hudak PCs closed 28 hospitals – after making repeated pre-election promises that they wouldn’t cut health care.

And after they closed these hospitals, the PCs told families they’d have to travel to other communities to get care or visit sick relatives.

Now, the Hudak PCs are at it again. Their platform has no money for building hospitals. The only capital projects they mention are highways.

The Hudak PCs have promised $14 billion in tax cuts and unfunded giveaways that will surely mean cuts to health care and hospitals. The Horwath NDP would introduce a crushing $9 billion in job-killing taxes. Remember too that the last time the NDP formed a government, the health system didn’t have the resources to invest in hospitals because of their disastrous economic policies and they cut medical school spaces, creating a crisis in family medicine.

As your Liberal MPP at Queen’s Park, I will deliver strong representation on these provincial issues – especially those that affect us in Burlington.

Let’s move forward! Together!

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Mea culpa – fingers were ahead of my brain. Sorry about that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 26, 2011

We goofed.

While writing a column I somehow managed to mangle a name.  The intention was to use the name of Bert Radfordd, president of the Burlington provincial Progressive Conservative Association but somewhere between my brain and my fingers touching the keyboard I came out with Burt Radcliffe.

That was my error and it was corrected the moment Mr. Radfordd brought it to my attention.  My apologies.

For those of you who missed the error and misunderstood what was being said the story in which the error was made  here is the corrected story.

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Peggy Russell makes her case. “We believe in putting people first.”

By Peggy Russell, New Democratic Party candidate.

Our Burlington was created to reduce the information deficit that was described and defined in the Shape Burlington report.  As part of this initiative we asked the Progressive Conservative, the New Democratic and the Liberal party candidates to provide material on two features.  The first was an opinion piece on what each candidate thought was not in the best interests of Ontario and Burlington in the other  party’s platform.  The Liberals and the New Democrats participated in the editorial feature.  The Progressive Conservatives declined.

 The second editorial feature was an opportunity for each candidate to set out their political party’s platform.  Today our readers hear from NDP candidate Peggy Russell. Later this week you will hear from Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran and and Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna.

BURLINGTON, ON  September 25, 2011  Burlington is my home.  It is where I raised my children and it is where I want a great future for my grandchildren.  It is the community where we have so much to be proud of, but also a community where there is still work to be done.  I am proud and honoured that this community chose me to represent them for the past 10 years as an elected school board trustee.

At the board of education and on Provincial committees I helped to deliver results for Burlington.  Working with other great people, we had 10 consecutive balanced budgets, we added resources for vulnerable children, I voted to end fees for basic school needs, and I worked hard to ensure that neighbourhood schools remained open.  I am now once again asking for the trust of Burlington residents to send me to Queen’s Park as your Member of Provincial Parliament so that I can continue to advocate and work hard on behalf of you and our community. Having been an elected official in Burlington where I met so many people and where I have listened to so many concerns and ideas I understand what still needs to be done to make our community even stronger.

The Russell family: With twin boys Russell was thought to have a bit of an advantage – they make a great election sign team.

As I write this, I know that there are many Burlington families that are concerned about the state of our economy as we continue to hear reports of a potential downturn given some of the problems around the globe.  There are young people and families that are concerned about jobs, seniors concerned about their pensions, and small businesses concerned about their future.

These are just some of the concerns and a strong reason why Burlington needs experienced leadership at this time.  As an elected official for the past 10 years I understand how to navigate through the complexities of government to get things done.  Governing can have a steep learning curve and we in Burlington and across Ontario don’t have the luxury to time if an economic downturn is at our doorstep.  We need experienced leadership now that can hit the ground running and get the right results for Burlington and Ontario.

I understand that there will be some of you that will be skeptical and I accept that.  Governments have not always made the best decisions regardless of the party they belong to.  The Ontario New Democratic Party has grown and evolved over the years into a strong, stable force at Queen’s Park and has been a leading advocate for families in Ontario.  The NDP understands that the old politics of the past don’t work anymore and that it is time for new ideas, and a new way of doing politics at Queen’s Park.  The NDP believes in politics that puts the partisan games aside and instead works in the best interests of those who elect us, the people of Ontario.

We believe in putting people first.  Jack Layton understood this and as a result many Canadians took notice and put their trust in the NDP.  It is that pragmatic leadership that drew me to the NDP and it is that style of leadership that I want to bring to Queen’s Park to act on your behalf.

Andrea Horwath, myself and our Ontario New Democratic Party Team have a plan to help youth, families, seniors, and businesses.  Our plan calls for,

 -Removing the Provincial portion of the HST off of hydro, home heating, and gas to make life more affordable for families,
-Freezing tuition for post-secondary education and removing the interest from student loans,
-Ending ambulance fees and other basic medical costs,
-Providing stable funding to municipalities for transit while freezing transit fares,
-Reducing the Ontario small business tax to 4% to ensure that small businesses have the resources to create jobs,
-Helping businesses by creating a tax credit up to $5000 for all new hires in Ontario that are sustained for at least one year,
-Expanding the home energy retrofit program and enhancing energy conservation in Ontario,
-Cutting emergency room wait times,

-Eliminating wait-lists for homecare with an addition of one million hours of home healthcare over 4 years and providing an additional 7.5 million hours of non-medical

Peggy Russell is a very forthright speaker, she makes her point and seldom backs down. Expect her to excel at the all candidate meetings

, home-making care for things such as preparing meals and shoveling snow,

-Capping out of control Public CEO Salaries and ending the million dollar/day payouts to consultants,

-Balancing the Ontario budget by the year 2017 in a responsible manner,

In Burlington there are two other big issues that have been on the minds of families in this community for many, many years; our hospital and preserving rural Burlington.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is long overdue for an expansion and modernization.  That is why I have made this issue my number one priority.  A hospital is not a political pawn to play games with.  As your next MPP, I will fight to ensure that shovels are in the ground as soon as possible for our hospital expansion and modernization.


Burlington is extremely fortunate to be situated in a position where we have a beautiful lake to our south and a natural treasure to our North.  We need to preserve this.  Ever since discussions began under a previous PC government to build a highway through Rural Burlington, the Ontario NDP has held a strong position that we are opposed to a Mid-Peninsula Highway and any new highway through Rural Burlington.  No other major party has made such a commitment to Burlington.  As the next MPP for Burlington I will ensure that there is no new highway across our escarpment.

In this election you do have a choice.  You can choose the partisan games of the past or you can choose a new kind of politics at Queen’s Park.  I am asking the people of Burlington to once again put your trust in me so that I can continue to deliver for you.  It is about putting our community and people first.  I hope that I can count on your vote on October 6th.


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City hall staff romp on Brant Street, raise $3300. of their $60,000 target for United Way.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 23, 2010  The city kicked off it’s part of the United Way

Campaign with a great romp out on Burlington Street while they enjoyed a BBQ on the plaza –

and in the process sold 450 hamburgers at $5.00 a pop to put $2250. into the pot that is holding

the money staff will raise for the 2011 United Way Campaign.  The target for 2011 is $60,000


Corporate giving is a large, large part of what the United Way needs to raise each year.  Burlington’s city hall staff show how it can be done by giving it more than the old heave ho – this year different city hall departments took turns pulling a water truck down Brant street for a stretch.  Some of the times were impressive and while many think the fireman would have made a slam dunk of this – turns out the Roads and Parks Maintenance turned in a slightly better time.  Fire Chief  Shane Mintz will be getting his people into the exercise room a little more often.

The competition came down to rivals Roads and Park Maintenance and Fire. Fire clocked in at 11.something-very-fast, and then RPM clocked in at 11.something-even-faster. It was literally 4/10 ths of a second difference. So RPM wheeled away with baked goods and bragging rights, while a smoldering crew from Fire vows to really bring on the heat next year… or some clunky thing

There were nine teams out on the street pulling the water truck – and each team put up $150. Of their own money just to be in the event.  Some might mutter that – is that all they have time to do – play games on the main street – but this isn’t game playing.  City hall staff have committed themselves to raising $65,000 in 2011.  The target for the 2010 campaign was $60,000 and they came within $500. of achieving their target.

When the final numbers are tallied, yesterday’s event will have raised approximately $3,300 dollars for an incredibly good cause. And by the time the campaign is finished Chair Tracy Burrows feels certain they will reach the  $60,000. goal

The 2010 campaign was successful in raising funds for United Way.

Employee donations:              $49,110.00 – 297 pledges

Special Events:                        $10,388.10

Grand Total:                                        $59,498.10

The 2011 campaign has set the same target as 2010 – to bring in $60,00.  This year the campaign is being led by Tracey Burrows, Chair of the employee United Way Campaign committee. Food for the Kick off BBQ event was  provided by Recreation Leisure Services Ltd. & Sysco Food Supplies, refreshments provided by Pepsi, and BBQ provided by Pat’s Party Rentals.

The campaign slogan for 2011 is – Change Starts Here.  From Poverty to possibility – Healthy People, strong communities, and all that kids can be.

There are more than 50,000 families are at risk of becoming homeless or are homeless due to limited or no income.  The United Way supports the basic needs to improve people’s emotional and physical well-being, moving them from crisis to stability, enabling them to achieve their potential.  Over 10,000 people receive professional social work services and more than 12,000 seniors have accessed United Ways programs and supports.  These services recognize and build on individual strength – the foundations required for independent, healthy living.

More than 77,000 children and youth accessed the United Ways programs allowing children and youth to engage is safe and supportive environments – overcoming barriers and build positive relationships and develop skills for life.  Last year alone over 218,000 people in our region accessed one or more of the 133 United Way funded programs.


Clerks give everyone that funny look all the time - and take best costume prize during the 2011 United Way fund raising event. Lee Oliver, lead scribe is on the right.

The campaign team for 2011 consists of: Chair: Tracey Burrows, Planning and Building, Vice-Chair: Joanne Hyde, Clerks, Kim Phillips, General Managers Office, Andrew Maas, Corporate Strategic Initiatives, Wanda Tolone, Clerks, Bryan Hermans, Finance, Lynn Williams, Human Resources, Steve Fyfe, Information Technology Services, Michelle Walsh, Legal/POA, Ashley McCallum, Engineering, Marg Lambert, Parks and Recreation, Brian Adriaans, Roads and Parks Maintenance, Louise Allard, Transit, Greg Grison, Fire, Kathy Pavlou, Building, Be Nguyen, Planning, Leah Bisutti City Manager’s Office. Other staff assisting:  Jewel McCabe, Parks and Recreation

City Hall staff have chosen the United Way as their charity of choice because they feel the work of the United Way is grounded on an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our

Community.  This is reflected in the three investment priorities of the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton:

  • From poverty to possibility
  • Healthy People, strong communities
  • All that kids can be

When you give to United Way, you are helping to support a network of health and social service agencies throughout our city. Our community agencies provide vital services to thousands of people. It is a funding source for 133 programs and services in Greater Hamilton and Burlington, delivered by 73 agencies. At work across our city every day, they understand how to meet the urgent needs of the local community. Your gift to United Way provides core funding and program support to those agencies, giving them the flexibility they need to respond effectively and ensuring that your donation gets to where it is needed most.

Eighty cents (80 percent) of every dollar committed to the 2011 United Way campaign will go directly to local community building initiatives and program supports, including what United Way uses for its community building activities.

As well, employees who choose to participate in the United Way payroll deduction program may direct their contribution through United Way to any Canadian registered charity of their choice.

United Way reduces costly and time-consuming fundraising efforts for agencies so their time can be spent helping others. The United Way raises funds far more cost efficiently than most agencies can for themselves. United Way analyzes community needs and invests for impact. When the City of Burlington chooses United Way, we are choosing to help the entire community.

This year we are again seeking support from Senior Management for the Early Bird Draw event that the committee has planned.  In past years, Directors, General Managers and the Office of the City Manager have supplied draw prizes for employees who submit their completed contribution form by a specified date.  The Early Bird Draw is a great way to entice donors to have their forms in early. It is our hope that Senior Management will be leaders when approached by department representatives.

The committee has planed the following events for 2011 with all proceeds going to the United Way.

Clothing Drive – Between October 2 and October 14, 2011 inclusive
Pizza Days – October 13, November 10, December 8, 2011Art Sale – November 17, 2011
Gift Basket Silent Auction – December 1, 2011
Early Bird Incentive Draw -TBD
Dress Down Days – last Friday of each month
Kernels Popcorn Sale –TBDRaffles – TBD

Many staff donated their service award dollars to the United Way and there are donations from  NFL Football Pool.  How do people who aren’t on the city payroll get in on that football pool?

What does it all mean?  Staff at city hall are leading and showing the private sector what can be done if you really put your shoulder to the wheel –which is what nine city hall departments did on Brant Street last Thursday afternoon.

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It was part of the soft opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre – however, nothing soft about the applause.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   September 23, 2011  And there it was, a theatre slowly filling up with people and dead ahead a rich, crimson red velour curtain.  It was kind of enchanting.  It wasn’t LaScala in Rome or the Metropolitan Opera in New York – but it was the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and it was about to hold its first public event.  Well not quite public – this was an Invitation Only event for the hundreds of people who wrote cheques that amounted to more than $11 million dollars.

The first person to ever take the stage before an audience was Denise Walker, chief fund raiser for the Centre who gracefully thanked the audience for the support that was given before there were shovels in the ground and before the city had given its consent and support for the project.

A short piece of entertainment was put on – nice and light – more of a reminder that you were in a theatre and that there was much, much more to come.

The event Thursday evening was the first of two such “Thank You Very Much” events.  The first layer of donours filled the Family Room.  Theatre management wanted a relaxed evening for the donours so split the event into two parts.  The second group will attend on Saturday and they too will appreciate the 25 foot bar on the south side of the Family Room.  This is a decent place to get a drink.

The Family Room is spacious and it was full – not packed to the walls, but you did have to work your way through groups of people.  Small tables had been set up throughout the room – they were like ‘talking stations’ you went from table to table and talked with friends.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre on the Thank You All Very Much event.

The real show gets on the road October 1st when Royal Wood will take to the stage but Thursday and Saturday were events for the people who made it happen.  Seen in the crowd were former Mayor Walter Mulkewich and Deb Tymstra, two people who were there at the beginning and involved in the fund raising.  The irony of the evening could not have been lost on Deb Tymstra who was a little more than a week away from closing the doors to Creative Burlington, an organization that was originally known as “Performing Arts”.  They were the people that tilled the soil and advocated for a performing arts centre.

There were speeches – three and all were mercifully short.  The triumvirate that currently serves as “the city Manager” Scott Stewart, Kim Phillips and Steve Zorbas were on hand.  Zorbas sits on the BPAC board and we wondered if he was on hand to pick up the rent cheque but it turns out the lease between the city and the non-profit corporation that runs the BPAC hasn’t been completed – looks like they are in there rent free.


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Youth ambassadors in place to change how students use transit. Higher gas prices doing a large part of that job.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON., September  22, 2011 – Coming to a high school near you: keen, environmentally conscious Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors prepared to wean a generation of students off the car and convince them to get on the bus.

Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors gather in a bus shelter. Front row: YAs Benoit, Shaan, Billi and Harrison. Back row, BT’s Sandra Maxwell, YA Kayla and Burlington Green advisor Kale.

“Today’s youth are sensitive to the environment and know that to preserve the planet for generations to come we need to change behaviours today,” said Donna Shepherd, director of Burlington Transit. “Our Youth Ambassadors are the keenest of the keen. They know how important reducing our carbon footprint is, and they’re ready to spread the word.”

Known as BT YAs, five young ambassadors recently attended their first orientation session at BT headquarters, and there are more to come. To date, the program has three schools signed on – M.M. Robinson High School, Aldershot High School and Robert Bateman High School – with the aim of spreading the program into the remaining Burlington high schools this fall and winter.

Teaching students that QEW traffic can be avoided? A totally different lifestyle change would be needed to make that happen – and that is what the Ambassadors are setting out to do.


The BT YAs will spend the school year organizing and running transit promotions in their schools in a peer-to-peer approach designed to give the YAs flexibility and control over their events. “We encourage them to take ownership of the program and to really throw themselves into,” said Sandra Maxwell, BT’s marketing co-coordinator. “For this to work, it really has to be students talking honestly to students. We need to keep it real.”

“A sustainable environment is a major part of Burlington’s plan for the future,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “It is encouraging to see young people picking up the sustainability banner and working hard to convince their peers to use active transportation alternatives and to think twice before relying on the car.”


One of the first BTYA events was in support of World Car-Free Day. They were out in force on September 22, asking students, teachers and parents to leave the car at home.


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Getting down to the short strokes. Candidates to square off at two events giving us a chance to see what they can do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 24, 2011  Well the candidates know there is going to be an election of October 6th and the people working with them are out there beavering away but that is just about the extent of it.

Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate is doing what many politicians do – let themselves believe what really isn’t possible.   The commitment needed to get into politics and run for office has to be so strong that at times it overcomes you and reality gets away.

There is not going to be an orange wave in Ontario and certainly not in Burlington.  What Peggy Russell will do, hopefully, is sharpen things up at the two major debates that are to take place this week.  She is a tough debater and while the people who put on the events don’t really allow true debate – they see themselves as a little too polite for the tough questions, the thrust and the parry of debate that brings out who a candidate really is and what they really think and believe.

Go back to the 1984 “I had no option” debate between John Turner and Brian Mulroney to understand how vital real debate can be.

The Chamber of Commerce cheats the community when they spurn real debate and limit the event to moderated questions and answers.  It’s part of the ‘coziness’ that is a part of Burlington.

It will however not be easy to limit Russell and her direct style.

Jane McKenna is being shepherded and supported by Keith Strong and I suspect a lot of time is being spent on coaching her and preparing her for the all candidate events.  She has to show up at these two events – there is just no getting out of that.  So far she has skipped the all candidate events.  We will see if she has a handle on the issues and has developed enough as a politician to take a seat at Queen’s Park.  If the Progressive Conservative Association had not dithered for so long in finding a replacement for Joyce Savoline and chosen McKenna a year ago – it just might have been possible to get her to the point where she could handle herself and not clutch the PC Change Book to her chest and hope that the words in the book will get her though it all.  It will be interesting to see how she does.

The PC Association has a lot of explaining to do.  Bert Radfordd sould do what he forced Rene Papin to do – which was fall on his sword and back out of the nomination race.  Time for Radfordd to find another occupation

If they lose the riding – and that is within the realm of possibility – they will have four years to rebuild.  Perhaps in that period of time Brian Heagle can convince them that his blood is truly blue.

Speaking of Heagle – he makes a very good point on his Facebook page with the following data: while “ it’s completely unscientific and not equivalent to polls or even lawn signs – the  “Likes” for each Burlington candidate’s Facebook page are close right now: Liberal=129; PC=118; NDP=114.

Once this interesting bit of analysis by Heagle is out expect the political parties to rush to those Facebook pages and flood them with “Likes” which will make the data Heagle gleaned the best we are going to get from that source.  Interesting though.

Karmel Sakran kept himself busy with two press conferences at which he huffed about the terrible things Hudak would do to the province if  he were to form a government.  Hudak shut down the one issue – hospital funding – by releasing a statement that said he would ensure the hospital was funded if he formed a government.  In the meantime the city of Burlington and the hospitals Foundation are going to have to carry the load.

Sakran is the more accomplished speaker – comes from being a lawyer.  However, Russell has put him off his stride at previous candidate events.  He will need to stay focused and on point – something he should be able to do.

It is interesting to note that the Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates are sticking pretty close to what their leaders have to say rather than saying very much about how they would advocate for Burlington.  What kind of an MPP does Sakran want to be and what kind of MPP does McKenna want to be?  It is pretty clear where Russell is coming from – she will listen to the party line but if she doesn’t like what it is – she won’t support it.  That is not to suggest Russell isn’t a team player – more to the point – she is an independent thinker.

McKenna doesn’t appear to have a clue as to what Queen’s Park is all about but she learns quickly and one can assume that if she wins, that Joyce Savoline, the retiring MPP, will be available to coach her.

Sakran understands what Queen’s Park is all about and he could, at some point, make it into the Cabinet – but a lot of that huffiness will have to go first.  As a lawyer he has more than enough friends to steer him around the place.  The procedures will come naturally to him.

What we don’t know about either McKenna or Sakran is what they are going to do for the community?  Will they toe the party line or will they be advocates for Burlington?

The most recent polls indicate that there is a very, very tight race with the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat.  That leads to talk of a minority government and we hear party leaders saying what they would and would not do if they had to team up with someone else to form a government.  When Andrea Horwath said she would talk to any party about forming a government she must have shaken her supporters to their very roots – the idea of the NDP supporting a PC party so that the Progressive Conservatives could form a government must have Walter Mulkewich, former Mayor of Burlington and head of the NDP fund raising committee,  tossing and turning in his sleep.

Turnout for the Chamber of Commerce Event and that being put on by the Canadian Federation of University Woman are the best chance this city has to see and hear the candidates.  Seats will be at a premium – and no walks ins for the Chamber event.

We are indebted to (yes it happens) Ward 2 councilor Marianne Meed Ward for the following:

Beat the rush on voting day and vote in the advance polls. Open daily, 10am-8pm now till Sept. 30. Locations in Burlington: 3230 Fairview St, Unit 115; Brant Hills Community Centre, 2255 Brant St; Fortinos, IKEA Plaza, 1059 Plains Rd. E; Good Neighbour Ministries, 5270 New St; St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1382 Ontario St.


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Bank president talks to Burlington business about diversity and inclusion – says it’s the smart thing to do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 22, 2011  When asked how many people there were at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation’s Mayors “Connect-Collaborate-Create” luncheon Laura Geisbecht, a BEDC staffer, replied – 377 – when asked how many people the room could hold she replied 377 – and I saw two city hall employees slip in a bit later so we were over what the Fire Marshal would have approved.  It was a sold out crowd – all there to hear Royal Bank president Gord Nixon talk about Diversity and why it is so important to anyone growing a business.

It was a bit of an uphill sell for the president of the most successful bank in Canada – the number of people in the room that would meet the loosest definition of “diverse” was less than ½ of 1%,  – it would have amounted to 1% if the serving staff had been included.  And that pretty much spells out the problem that Burlington faces – people described as culturally diverse just don’t play much of a role in business in Burlington.  Never have – but if this city is to succeed economically – that is going to have to change and Nixon was here to tell the business elite how and why the Royal Bank chose to embrace diversity right across the board.

He said it was certainly the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do and it is at the smart level that Nixon drilled down into the data.

The Mayor thanked the major sponsors: Burlington Hydro, which the city owns, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre – the city is their landlord and provides a decent subsidy for that organization.  Having them as sponsors for this event amounts to moving money from your left pocket to your right pocket – gives a whole new meaning to keeping it all in the family doesn’t it?

The Mayor commented  that Burlington was not as directly affected by the downturn in the economy as other Southwestern Ontario municipalities. “This resilience” he said, “is evident in the creation of 425 new jobs in the first half of this year.  This job creation is a result of 38 new and 15 existing businesses adding staff to their payroll.

The Mayor added that the city’s Strategic Plan that is now out in the community for consultation and feedback has identified  prosperity as an objective and intends to focus on attracting and growing a knowledge-based economy that provides a future for all, and is a community of choice for both employers and family.

The Mayor shared a new program, centered on knowledge-based activities that several of our community partners including – BEDC, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, DeGroote School of Business, and The Centre for Skills Development & Training – are developing in conjunction with his office. The Graduate Internship Program, to be launched in early 2012, will utilize and pool our talented local graduates to work with companies to identify projects and initiatives that will advance their business innovation and growth strategies.  Updates will be made as the program develops.

Gord Nixon, President Royal Bank of Canada - driven to make the bank diverse and inclusive.

Gord Nixon president of the Royal Bank set the context for his remarks on Diversity and Inclusion by explaining that RBC has approximately 18 million clients and 77,000 employees in over 50 countries.  The Canadian workforce is approximately 55,000 people.

We have been in business for a long time, and over the past couple of decades our business mix has diversified significantly and this strategy of diversified businesses is one of our competitive advantages.

The event was part of the Mayor’s Connect, Collaborate, Create which Nixon pointed out what Diversity and Inclusion are all about

Nixon added he is a firm believer in the power of cities to be engines of economic growth in this country.  “Research has shown that there is not one homogenous “national” or “global” economy as we often think of it – but rather a common market of local economies, including urban economies – and that strengthening these local economies is what will drive the overall economic success of our country.

He continued: “But, the process of economic development is not simple. It’s complex and multi-dimensional, and highly dependent on innovative thinkers. It requires individuals who care not only about what this region is today but what it could be tomorrow. It requires long-term vision and planning and it needs leaders from all areas of the community — business, labour, academia, social services, NGO’s and government — leaders who live here, work here and build their businesses here, and people who can actively participate in formulating a shared vision.  It requires a multi-stakeholder approach like the one you have adopted here in Burlington.”

Nixon pointed out that “one in six Canadians live in this vast region around Toronto and it is our country’s most important and our flagship in so many areas – and Burlington is an important part of that success.  This region – and Burlington — is also a model of diversity, inclusion and integration. This has been an unparalleled success in our region. It has brought vitality, culture and economic growth and RBC has benefited from all of that.”

Diversity is part of Burlington's social scene - do we ssee inclusivity in the work force, in senior management positions?

“Diversity and inclusion is something we want to get right. I say this from my perspective as CEO of RBC, certainly, but also from the perspective of a resident of southern Ontario, a community member, a taxpayer and a participant in many of the cultural and charitable activities that take place in this region.”

Nixon went on: “And so while my interests and experiences extend right across the social, economic and political fabric of this region, today I’d like to talk about why diversity matters, its central role in driving productivity, innovation and growth, and how embedding diversity in what we do at RBC is helping us achieve our potential as a company, with our clients and in our communities. And how it is helping our employees achieve their full career potential.”

“I am often asked” said Nixon, “ Why does diversity matter to business and to RBC? Simply put, it makes good business sense.  It’s the smart thing to do.

“Why do I say that?  First, talent comes in both genders and from diverse backgrounds.  Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent is essential to the success of any business.

“Reflecting the clients we serve is also a business imperative.  Let me start with newcomers.  As you know, the demographics in this country are changing and Statistics Canada projects more change will come.

“Our diverse population is both a unique strength for this region and a critical component of our economic success. The growth in visible minorities and new immigrants is dramatic; especially in our large cities.  For the greater Toronto region, visible minorities are projected to be 63% by the year 2031.  With baby boomers retiring, our workforce is shrinking.  Immigration can offset this, but our success depends on attracting skilled immigrants and ensuring they find work that utilizes their expertise, education and experience. We know it’s the right thing to do, but we’re also clear on the business potential.”

Nixon went on to point out that “some newly released numbers are troubling when it comes to relying on immigration to fuel growth.  While our region is the number one destination for immigrants settling in Canada, we have seen a 17% (17,000 people) decrease in the number of immigrants it receives over the last decade due to increased attractiveness of other Canadian regions.”

“We surpass most city regions in integrating large numbers of newcomers, but there remain significant opportunities to help immigrants realize their full potential as a key competitive advantage for the region.”

“Immigrants consistently face both higher unemployment and a greater incidence of underemployment than people Canadian born. Immigrants with a university degree have twice the unemployment rate and earn 40% less than Canadian-born people with a university degree. And, the situation is worsening – more recent cohorts of immigrants are falling further behind.

For a country that prides itself on its diversity, fairness, and our open door policy, this is a surprise. For a country whose demographics promises worker shortages in the decades ahead, this doesn’t make sense. Diversity is one of our competitive advantages.”

“A large portion of the region’s immigrants” Nixon pointed out “come from rapidly developing emerging markets. As more of the world’s economic growth shifts to those markets, immigrants will increasingly be an important asset that differentiates our region from global competitors.

Newcomers enrich our region’s human capital with their international experience, diverse language skills, access to international networks and understanding of global markets. Many developed economies are competing for the same immigrant talent and being a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion can help us better compete.  Studies have shown that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are among the most attractive places for employers precisely because of our multilingual workforces, our commitment to equal opportunity and high literacy.”

“For business leaders in this region”, said Nixon, “ this is an important means to succeed and contribute to Canada’s future as a player on the global stage. If you aren’t convinced, let me share a few more numbers with you. In 2005, RBC Economics found that if all new Canadians were fully employed at their level of education and experience, earning equal pay to someone born in Canada, personal income would increase by $13 billion a year. We are leaving economic growth – never mind fuller lives and stronger communities – on the table.”

“Like the underemployment of new immigrants” said Nixon,” the paucity of senior women is troubling.  It can prevent younger women from entering certain professions or finding role models.  A lack of diversity can also impact overall employee engagement, productivity and innovation.  It has been shown that companies with more women senior managers typically have higher total returns than those with fewer women.  Again, we are leaving economic growth on the table – never mind demonstrating a real commitment to the principles of equity and fairness in the workplace.

“Speaking as a business leader, I know that achieving gender equity is key to the success of our company and our country.  Canada cannot succeed in an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy without the full and active participation of women.  Fifty percent of Canadians are women – they obtain the majority of university degrees and influence over 80% of purchasing decisions.  Women also own or manage over 40% of all businesses in Canada.  We simply cannot afford to waste this human resource.”

“Over 60% of our 77,000 employees globally are women”, said Nixon. “ It is abundantly clear to me that it is in our best interest – you could call it “enlightened self-interest” – to create the conditions where women can excel.   This is why we say it is the smart thing to do.”

“At RBC, this means fostering our corporate values of respect and integrity.  This means creating a world where everyone is respected for who they are and what they bring to the table.  It is a fundamental tenet of a civil and just society.  A place where every woman and man can achieve their full potential.  That’s why we also say it’s the right thing to do.  At RBC, we support this objective by implementing workplace programs that enable women to build their confidence, to develop their skills and talents, and to realize their dreams.”

“Over the last 30 years or so”, said Nixon, “RBC has focused on enabling women to achieve leadership roles. Our first woman vice president was appointed in 1979.  Not a particularly great statistic.  We were already a 110-year-old company at the time.  However, today about 38% of our executives in Canada are women, 54% of managers and professionals are women, something we are proud of, but not complacent about.  The work must continue. Women bring unique and valuable perspectives to our social fabric and tangible bottom line results to our businesses.  Our society needs their contributions and the success of women is one of our country’s greatest strengths.”

I believe that corporations must see diversity as not just an add-on or a business opportunity, but a path to excellence, that embedding inclusion  in your culture will help you get the most out of the mix and that the benefits will flow when you get it right.

At RBC, we have learned that when diversity and inclusion are part of decision-making, we are better positioned to connect with our customers and provide more meaningful products and services, driving customer loyalty and an enhanced bottom line in return. Meanwhile, ensuring that each and every promising employee has an opportunity to contribute can pay off exponentially by driving innovation and growth; strengthening our workforce and enhancing our profile with potential recruits—not to mention inspiring other employees to give their best.

Diversity will increasingly be a key driver of economic growth in the future.  It is both the right thing and the smart thing to do and something that we at RBC are passionate about.


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Property damage to retail location on Fairview. Video surveillance captured images. Can you help?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 – Stupid senseless property damage from youth out on the streets at 3 am resulted on the windows of a Fairview Street retail outlet being broken.

Police have some surveillance video and are screening that looking for information that will lead to the culprits. Surveillance video depicted a group of four male youths walking by the store, when one of the males intentionally smashed the window and continued walking on. It could not be determined what was used to smash the window.

Suspect is described as male, white, 20-23 years, 6’2,” stocky build, light coloured, crew cut hair. He was wearing grey hooded sweatshirt (black and white pattern on the interior lining) and blue jeans.

Police provided the photograph shown above and would like to talk to the person in the picture.  Use Crime Stoppers to report to the police if you wish.

Police provided the photograph shown above and would like to talk to the person in the picture. Use Crime Stoppers to report to the police if you wish.

A surveillance photo of suspect was obtained from a nearby convenience store, just prior to the incident. Police would like to talk to the man in the picture.

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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These things happen – we mixed up a couple of names. Shame on us but could a Karmel Jackson get elected in this city ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 One needs a sense of humour in this business and one also needs people out there who read what you are saying and catch the errors.

And we made a really good one earlier today. In the lead sentence we described Karmel Sakran as Karmel Jackson. Our apologies to both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sakran, we corrected the mistake immediately. Our good friend Brian Heagle, a local lawyer who reads us more often that he reads the Ontario Business Corporations Act, brought our attention to the error and then added: “On the other hand, for those who want to see a conservative Liberal voice at Queen’s Park, that name change may work around here!”

Cam Jackson on one of the hardest days of his life – results night during the last municipal election when he lost to Rick Goldring and, worse still, to Carol D'Amelio as well.

Cam Jackson on one of the hardest days of his life – results night during the last municipal election when he lost to Rick Goldring and, worse still, to Carol D'Amelio as well.

Speaking of the former Mayor Cam Jackson, – we understand from a source that has been known to be reliable in the past about a phone call Cam Jackson got from his former boss Mike Harris. The conversation was about the rumour that Jackson was thinking about running for the Burlington seat he held for so long. THAT would have put the fly in the soup now wouldn’t it.

Our typographical error appeared in a piece we did on a press conference that Liberal Sakran held on comments Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak made about funding for the hospital. Hudak quickly saw the error of his ways and issued the following statement:

“I agree there is a definite need for hospital redevelopment in Burlington,” Hudak said. “The Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment will be a priority for a Tim Hudak government.”

So that issue has been set aside. Now if we can get a clear statement on the Mid Peninsula Highway the PC’s can sit back and relax.




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Liberal candidate gets huffy over suspicion that hospital funding by a PC government might not materialize.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 22, 2011 Karmel Sakran, the Liberal candidate for the Burlington seat is ticked. He thinks Tim Hudak, the leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition at Queen’s Park, is equivocating on the funding for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital (JBMH) – and Sakran is having none of that nonsense.

Sakran has been part of the JBMH Board for more than five years. He was part of the team that hired the hospital’s current Chief Executive Officer Eric Vanderwall who has managed to wrestle the institution out of its state of shame during the C.difficile crisis. Sakran had every reason to expect to become chair of the hospital board ( a position that has significant social clout in this city) but resigned to run for public office. The bread on Sakran’s table comes from his law practice.

Sakran was so angry with the hint that a Hudak government might renege on funding for the hospital that he held a press conference to make a statement: “PC leader Tim Hudak’s refusal to guarantee the McGuinty government commitment to the $312 billion JBMH redevelopment, makes it more vital than ever that Burlington carefully consider their vote” said Sakran.

This is a picture of happier days for Burlingtonians.  Standing is Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran – part of a crowd waiting for a provincial government minister to arrive with “great” news – she never arrived,  it was said she got stuck in QEW traffic.  And so Burlingtonians are still waiting for “great” news and getting by on a politicians promise during an election.

This is a picture of happier days for Burlingtonians. Standing is Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran – part of a crowd waiting for a provincial government minister to arrive with “great” news – she never arrived, it was said she got stuck in QEW traffic. And so Burlingtonians are still waiting for “great” news and getting by on a politicians promise during an election.

Karmel, who has more than a good chance of winning the riding for the Liberals, is going to pull at every string he can lay his hands on. And hospital funding is one of the hotter local election issues. He is out at the debates and knocking on doors. He is certainly very visible and he appears to be gaining solid traction.

Speaking of the hospital Sakran said the Hudak comments are a “real disappointment for our community” He added that it is difficult to create a successful local fund raising campaign when one of the leadership candidates isn’t saying he is 100% behind funding the hospital. The local PC candidate is certainly saying the hospital will get built and paid for if she is sitting at Queen’s Park. Four of her children were born there – so she’s a fan.

Speaking of the local candidate – where has she been. She hasn’t made it to any of the all-candidate meetings. She explained that she couldn’t make one of them due to prior commitment but withdrew at the last minute from the second all candidates meeting.

There are several all candidates meetings scheduled for next week – no way she can avoid those. McKenna’s peek-a-boo campaign has worked so far. But at some point she has to come out of the bushes and let people here what she has to say without reading words from the PC Change Book.

The Liberal government has sent the hospital a letter saying that funding is now in place but the hospital won’t see any of that money for more than four years by which time there could be a different government in place.

Any construction that is going to take place down on Lakeshore will be paid for by a tax levy the city is imposing and fund raising that the hospital has committed to undertake. The city is going to put up $60 million and the hospital is going to match that dollar for dollar” But the truth of the matter is that Burlington hasn’t seen a dime from the province and won’t see a dollar until sometime in 2014. That’s a tough one to swallow.

Sakran’s close colleagues at the hospital were hoping that he would get to Queen’s Park and get something for the city. The visit from the Premier didn’t hurt but had the Premier said the province was going to match what the hospital and the city are raising – dollar for dollar – a lot of the unrest we have now wouldn’t exist.

Burlington is a seat the Tories have to hold if they are to have any hope of forming a government. If the Liberals manage to win the seat – they will form the next government.

To make their point even stronger the Premier said yesterday that: Ontario Liberals are building 18 new hospitals and are dedicated to bringing new hospitals and redevelopments to communities across Ontario. Most recently, Ontario Liberals have pledged to move forward with major projects for Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Milton District Hospital and Sudbury Regional Hospital — to name a few.





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Is Burlington – a set of unique, distinct, but isolated communities within a larger community setting?

This is the first of a regular column by Casey Cosgrove that will appear on Wednesday’s in Our Burlington.  Cosgrove, is a life long resident of Burlington who has been an active participant in community affairs.  His focus will be on community, leadership and keeping our leaders accountable for the decisions they make and advocating that the community accept its responsibility to engage with leaders.

By Casey Cosgrove

BURLINGTON, ON  September 21, 2011  –  When I agreed to write a column on community and leadership, it allowed me the rare opportunity to reflect more deeply on the concept of community and how it relates to a place that means so much to me – Burlington.

I have lived in Burlington as long as I can remember, and have watched my hometown grow into a very prosperous city in the last 45 years.  I do remember when there was very little of ‘anything’ north of Fairview Street.  My parents referred to Burlington as a ‘suburb’, but with a tone as if to say it was not its own unique place, just a bedroom community.

Some may still see it that way, but I never did.  It was seen as a  ‘nice, safe place’ to grow up away from Toronto or Hamilton, where our parents worked, mostly our fathers at that time.   It still is.  Like most kids, my daily life revolved around my family, my school, and various playgrounds in southeast Burlington.  As a kid, that was ‘my community’.

Casey Cosgrove: “I believe that we have no shortage of passionate citizens, people willing to lead, and a creative energy right here in Burlington, to bring an even stronger sense of community to everyone that lives in this city.”

40 years later, I wonder whether that view of community that I had as a child is the one that many others that live in this city default to when they think of ‘community’.

Do we, as Burlingtonians, have common, shared, elements (other than the name of the city on our mail) that bring us a strong sense of belonging to the larger community?   Looking more closely, it is as though Burlington has organically evolved into a set of unique, distinct, but isolated communities within a larger community setting.  When I speak of isolated communities, the most telling case in point is the north-south dichotomy in Burlington.

The south is more established, so you might expect an increased level of community engagement stemming from this part of the city.  Yet, efforts to engage younger families and diverse ethnic communities in the north have yet to take hold in measurable terms in Burlington.

Given that we are in the midst of an election, voter turnout is a good case in point. The ‘south’ tends to determine our political representation to a great extent, and I suspect the final voting numbers for the provincial election October 6th will bear this out again, as it has election after election here in my lifetime.

Is it simply that those ‘north of the QEW’ feel less engaged, less a part of the Burlington community, so they vote in smaller percentages?  Further complicating matters is the fact that many of our fellow Burlingtonians from the north actually vote for a Halton candidate in both the federal and provincial elections.  This fact would not only be confusing for many, but is not likely to promote a sense of belonging and engagement among those that live in these areas feel while the ‘rest of Burlington’ votes for a candidate in the Burlington riding.

When I ran in the 2006 municipal election, I had a great many people living in the ‘Orchard’ tell me they didn’t feel like they were a part of the Burlington community.  I suspect that this can and will change, but it wont do so by itself.

It is natural that every larger, growing community is made up of smaller sub-communities, that will always be so.    In our case, with a major highway running through the middle of the city, this isolation takes on a physical dimension as well.  It would be an oversimplification to choose one isolated target within the city as a way of explaining why we have had difficulty engaging all citizens in our community, but the north-south example is one few can argue with.

Perhaps the larger issue is the fact that we, as a community, have not identified and nourished those common elements that speak to all Burlingtonians, that bind us together as a larger community, both young and old, north and south, and across the many demographic realities shaping our city.

Some take great pride in what others think of us (we were ranked as the 3rd best place to reside in Canada by Moneysense magazine).  The criteria that were used to determine this ranking were prosperity, housing, lifestyle, crime, health, and weather.  We can read the statistics to see that compared to the rest of the country, Burlington is doing well in most ‘prosperity ‘ measures.  This is indeed something to feel very fortunate about.  Yet, as someone who has been doing community engagement work for many years, and grew up here, I know we can do more.

I believe that we have no shortage of passionate citizens,  people willing to lead, and a creative energy right here in Burlington, to bring an even stronger sense of community to everyone that lives in this city.  We have done quite well getting good people involved, but the much harder work and greater reward will come from engaging the unengaged in this city, not just including the same folks who always seem to step forward.


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Performing Arts Centre donours to be recognized at two seperate events. Invitation Only for very special people.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 20, 2011 The folks that put up the big bucks – and there were $11 million of those dollars put on the table – are going to be recognized and celebrated on September 22, and on September 24th. Why two dates – because there are so many donours that all of them couldn’t get a seat if everything was done on the one night.

When BPAC Executive Director Brenda Heatherington talks to you – you get every bit of her attention.  This woman focuses on everything she does – the results of that focus can now be seen on Locust Street

When BPAC Executive Director Brenda Heatherington talks to you – you get every bit of her attention. This woman focuses on everything she does – the results of that focus can now be seen on Locust Street

So it’s a two night set up with Take Your Seat and the Keys to the Future donors being recognized and feted on the Saturday and the others on the Thursday

This is a By Invitation Only event. It’s a big deal – without those donations this city would not have the Burlington Performing Arts Centre it has today.

The event takes place from 7:00 pm to 9:30 with speeches from Denise Wallace Chair of the Fund Raising Committee, Mike Wallace on behalf of the Federal government, Rick Goldring on behalf of the city, Rick Burgess speaking for the Board of Directors and Brenda Hetherington speaking for the people that run the place. Count em, five speakers, and Denise Walker who is going to front the whole thing tells me that the speeches – from five people – will not go beyond a total of 15 minutes. That will be something to hear – short, short speeches. You know they’re not going to make it.

She got called the bag lady because she made telephone calls asking people for money and she was incredibly successful at getting donours.  Thursday and Saturday she will be part of a private program – By Invitation Only that will fete and thank the very generous donours.

She got called the bag lady because she made telephone calls asking people for money and she was incredibly successful at getting donours. Thursday and Saturday she will be part of a private program – By Invitation Only that will fete and thank the very generous donours.

When asked if she had bought a new dress for the occasion Walker responded: “I haven’t had time.” But she did say there would be a drink for each donour and some special entertainment for the evening.

This is an occasion to recognize the people who put up the money to make it happen. Everyone assumes that rich people just write cheques – and they do but the not so rich people write cheques too – and all deserve recognition and the kind of applause that a grateful community can give.

The very first live performance will take place October 1st – when Royal Wood will appear on stage. Burlington will hear the man who was named iTunes Songwriter of the Year in 2010.

When it came to getting the building built – once the jabbering about the bricks was over – it was Keith Strong who put his shoulder to the wheel and made sure the place was built on time and on budget.

When it came to getting the building built – once the jabbering about the bricks was over – it was Keith Strong who put his shoulder to the wheel and made sure the place was built on time and on budget.

The City of Burlington, which actually owns the building, will celebrate The Centre’s completion with a free family event on Sunday, Oct. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring entertainment, refreshments and tours of The Centre. These are your tax dollars at work – get in and take a peek at the place.

The fences around the site are down, the Box Office is open and they are open for business with the first live performance on October 1 – Royal Wood will take to the stage.

The fences around the site are down, the Box Office is open and they are open for business with the first live performance on October 1 – Royal Wood will take to the stage.

The Performing Arts Centre is made up of three principal rooms. The Main Stage, which seats 720. The Family Room which is a combination lobby, open area and a great place to hold events that are free form. Seating can be set up in the Family Room but basically it is just a wide5,000 square foot space that has a very high ceiling and is looked out over from the second level balcony that has glass partitions that serve as a railing and give a sense of openness. You’ve got to see it to fully understand how the place is going to work. The third space is the Community Studio Theatre that is multi-purpose in terms of design and can be used for a dinner party or a small production.




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