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

By Staff

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Pepper Parr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ATM at a bowling alley broken into, unauthorized cash withdrawal. Bowling balls were left in place.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 22, 2012  Burlington Bowl at 4065 Harvester Road was broken into early Sunday morning at around 3:30 am.  People as yet  unknown forced open the front doors of the building and accessed the ATM machine inside.  A quantity of cash was removed from the machine and suspects fled prior to police arrival.

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

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If Sound of Music wants to appear before a Council again they need to get in touch with the Clerk of the Committee to ask to delegate.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 20, 2012  The Sound of Music Festival (SOM) is big business for Burlington by any standard.  It is a community based organization that got its start in 1967,  when the Parks and Recreation department looked for a community group to take on an event that had become too big for city hall to manage.

Ever the trooper, Dave Miller, third from the right, belts out a tune as part of a promotional event to develop interest in the Mayor's Cabaret. Mayor didn't sing for Dave's delegation when he sought an increase in SOM funding.

It is,  by any measure, a significant success and for the music industry in this province it is the stage to get on.  The city has had some very big names come in for the four day event and it has grown.  However, one thing it has failed to do is develop a strong relationship with both City Hall and the members of Council.  When Dave Miller appeared before the Budget and Corporate Services Committee looking for an increase in the SOM grant he basically got the “bums rush”.  He talked of plans to grow the event and they asked “when is enough, enough”.

There was clearly no meeting of minds and one has to ask why SOM didn’t have a sterling working relationship with the city it brings a major entertainment event to year after year.?  Why are these two organizations so far apart in their thinking?  Do the SOM people not realize there is a political aspect to what they do and that they have to keep Council members fully informed and that there has to be a top notch working relationship with every level of the city’s administration that impacts on the Festival?

One wonders if they didn’t move very quickly to meet with the new city manager and brief him on what they do – get there story in front of the man before anyone elsewhere at City Hall decides to give their version of what the SOM is and isn’t.

But that level of liaison with city hall doesn’t appear to be in place. Nor does there appear to be a really smooth working relationship with the Burlington Downtown Business Association whose members hurt when the SOM Festival is taking place.   Not that many of that huge audience drifts north along Brant Street or into the side streets to get a nicer sense of the city.

SOM has expanded their offering and there are now events that don’t fit into Spencer Smith Park talking place along Brant Street.  They want to expand it even more – but the Council committee wasn’t buying into their ideas.

The Sound of Music is believed to have a very sound balance sheet – I say believed because they don’t publish their financial results.  All the public knows is that this is a $1 million operation.  What the revenue sources are and what the expenses are is not detailed “because to do so would let our competitors know how we do what we do” , which has got to be one of the lamest excuses I’ve heard about why the financial kimono isn’t always wide open.

Whenever any organization appears before Council asking for funds – the books get opened.  When you are given public money – you tell exactly what it is being used for and you explain why you need the funds – and that means having your financial statements with you.

A creative accountant can put ones financial situation before the public and not give away critical information.  And, if there is a real concern, ask Council to allow you to go into Closed Session while you explain – and if Council accepts your reasons then the information is kept away from the public.  There is a time and a place for information to be kept confidential.  I must add that keeping the amount the city has spent on legal costs for the Pier squabble with the contractors is not one of those times, but  I digress.

Volunteers make this event happen; hundreds of them. Tent stakes being driven into the ground

Today SOM has 13 committees:

Communications, chaired by Hoda Kayal,

Eco Team, chaired by Jacky Miller,

Music Education chaired by Dora Falcone,

Finance chaired by Tim Miron,

Fundraising chaired by Erin Court,

Licensed Areas chaired by Debbie Milner,

Parade chaired by Kevin Picott,

Programming chaired by Jill Duvnjak,

Security chaired by Ted Mills,

Sponsorship chaired by Kim Horvat,

Streetfest chaired by Martin Harm,

VIP Services chaired by Rick Horvat and

Vendors chaired by Paul Munro.

which has to be an outstanding example of community participation for an event that runs from the Thursday of Father’s Day weekend through to the Sunday.

Sources of revenue are set out - Sound of Music wants more from the city and wants to keep their portion f funding up their with the federal and provincial government.


Like every organization that serves the local community as well as the larger community, there are financial strains. SOM has a budget that exceeds $1 million and they can give you half a dozen good reasons why they need a boost to the city’s grant.

Dave Miller, SOM Executive Director since 1967 appeared before Council Committee recently to ask for an increase in the grant they get from the city.  They wanted to go from the $52,000 they are currently given to $86,000  – a request that got stuck in the craw of more than one Council member.  One of them, who had a pencil at hand and was quick with the numbers said – “that’s a 65% increase”.

A council member politely explained that Boards and Committees were being given a 2% increase.

Miller piped up and said they were going to ask to have their grant raised from $52,000 to $96,000 but added , “realizing the current economy we would like to ask for support to be at $86,000.”

Data charts are nice but the Sound of Music people have to produce a balance sheet along with a profit and loss statement and tell city council if they have a reserve fund.

There was a stunned silence and Miller added that the $34,000 increase he was asking for could be phased in over two years, which would work out to $17,000 a year in 2012 and an additional $17,000 in 2013.

It still didn’t fly.

Miller went on to explain just how much the SOM did for the city.  The city saves $500,000 annually by having the event run by a community group instead of the city.  He didn’t provide much in the way of numbers to support that claim but nobody challenged him on it.

He added that $44,000 of the grant funding is returned directly to the city in permit fees, wages and equipment use.

The SOM is said to have a $4 million economic impact on the Burlington economy.  Miller didn’t back that figure up either and he wasn’t challenged on it.

One got the sense that Miller was saying: ‘we’re good and we want more support from you because we are good’ – but that didn’t matter, this Committee wasn’t buying it and unless there is significant lobbying and the figures tossed out are backed up and a sounder business case made – the Sound of Music is going to have to settle for the annual $52,000 financial contribution.

Saying that Miller failed to make a strong case is not meant to embarrass the man but when you want elected officials to turn tax dollars over to you to spend – make the argument a strong one – or go without.

Miller didn’t get a chance to get into some of the really interesting ideas he and his committee had developed.

Miller says that he doesn’t like doing these “dog and pony” shows and it showed.  The SOM people would be well advised to put someone in front of a committee that can generate some excitement and pump them up.  It would have been great if he could have piped in some of the fabulous sound that comes from the stages that dot the waterfront in June.  Councillor Taylor once flew to New York to listen to the Jersey Boys and told me that he was just pumping away to the “big sound”.

The Ladies of the Canyon would have helped - piping their sound into the committee room might have helped.

A section from the Ladies of the Canyon presentation last year just might have moved the room.  The SOM is all about show business but they didn’t dazzle a soul with their presentation.

Alas, the overhead projector wasn’t working that day and the sound system has been a little jerky of late.

The SOM team has grown the event into a million dollar business that can be made even more beneficial to the city. This is a group that doesn't have any operational or serious budget problems. They just need to tell the story in a better way.

The lack of really strong support from Parks and Recreation was noticeable as well.  If Council wasn’t “gung ho” on the festival, and senior staff didn’t come on side and the Parks and recreation people didn’t speak up for the event – then who is for the Festival?  The SOM people would say the 250,000 people who show up for the event are what it’s all about – and that is certainly the case but Miller didn’t tap into any of that energy.  Pity.

Something else was notable – there wasn’t a single person from the Board on hand to speak – just Dave Miller and his Power Point presentation.  Next time Miller should take a band in with him.

There is a future for the Festival – it just isn’t clear what it is nor is it clear what the community wants.  We know that Council is quite happy to leave things where they are.  Parks and Recreation isn’t going to put in any more than they are doing.  There are no Festival “spear carriers” within senior staff.  The Festival needs to find a champion and move this thing forward – opening up the books would help too.

Attendance of more than 250,000 is no small feat. It takes hard work and perseverance to make it happen.

The Festival did get into “greening” the event and while they struggle with the city’s no smoking policy within Spencer Smith Park (and any attempt to do that with a music event is more than a challenge – if you know what I mean) they are doing their best.

They want to be able to continue with the year round children’s music education initiatives and, once The Pier is open in 2013 they want to bring back fireworks to the event.  There was mention made in the presentation about national broadcasts of the event, Miller let that one slide by.

The most controversial part of the SOM delegation to the Council committee was the wanting to grow the event by adding programs and days to accommodate more visits.  The intention was to make the SOM Festival an event that started one weekend and ended the following weekend – which takes a four day event and makes it a seven day event.  That one just didn’t go down at Committee.

This is what it's all about. People sitting outside and enjoying the Sound of Music. More than a quarter of a million visits to the waterfront every year. Great!

The argument for increased financial assistance was pitched at two levels.  The amount the Festival saved the city and where Burlington was in relation to funding from other sources that had already increased their financial participation.

There was a lot of “happy talk” in the presentation made up of pictures and mention that this was a “free” event.  It wasn’t enough – the Sound of Music Festival is business – good business, but the case has to be made to the people handing out the dollars.   That case didn’t get made last week and the likelihood is that SOM will not get an increase this year.


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Drury Lane bridge repair progresses – city spends $40,000 on drawings and technical reports needed before work can begin.

By Pepper Parr

The Drury Lane bridge repair went forward another step when city council agreed to a single source tender to have drawings done up as well as some engineering work done by AMEC, the company that has done all the work on the bridge since it was suddenly closed down last November.

Council at a previous meeting agreed to proceed with the repairs to the bridge at a cost of $380,000 but couldn’t proceed to making the repairs until there were drawings and specifications put together.  Due to the urgency of this work, city staff recommended a single source contract and recommended AMEC.  They are to get back with the drawings and scope of the work required and then the job goes out to tender.

That further notice now has a date - sometime in July - working drawings are being prepared.

The hope is to have the bridge repaired and opened in July.  That repair is expected to hold for at least five years during which time residents can travel back and forth from the community on to Drury Lane and on south to Fairview which then lets them travel to Burlington Mall and on into Central Park, the YMCA and the Library.

Council in committee debated long and hard about what it was going to cost to replace the bridge after the five year point.  A cost of $2.5 million was not on for Councillor Dennison; other members of council were having serious digestion problems over the cost.  One wonders how they felt when city engineer Tom Eichenbaum let them know that the plans to build a tunnel instead of a replacement bridge would come in at as much as $3 million.

But that wasn’t the issue last night.  The bridge is going to be repaired and in a month or so the community will know more about the kind of repair that will be done and more on how long it is likely to last.

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They are doing it again – Council & staff are going to hide in a dark room at the Performing Arts Centre to “Gear Up” for the Official Plan.


By Pepper Parr

This is certainly a different take on going into closed session of a City Council Committee meeting.

A special meeting of the Committee of the Whole has been called for Monday February 27th – 9:30 am in the Studio Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

The purpose of the meeting is for education and training.  The meeting is closed to the public in accordance with Sec. 239 (3.1) of the Municipal Act.

The Agenda for the meeting is: Official Plan Review Background: “Gearing Up”

Gearing up for what?  A public assault on the process?

The Municipal Act states that:

A meeting of a council or local board or of a committee of either of them may be closed to the public if the following conditions are both satisfied:

1. The meeting is held for the purpose of educating or training the members.

2. At the meeting, no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the council, local board or committee.

So – what they are doing is legal – but why would a council that keeps talking about being transparent and wanting to involve the public, hold a meeting to train staff about how one goes about reviewing and revising an Official Plan – THE most important document a Council can produce and something that is going to take us a couple of years to complete?


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Downtown core still looking for a solution; economic ninjas leading the charge this time.

By Pepper Parr

Sooner or later we will figure it out.  The next stab at finding an answer to that always perplexing question: What do we do with the downtown core?  is being led by those able financial ninja’s at the Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

They have been asked to stick handle a study with two key objectives: quantify the market potential and constraints for the development of office space and while they are at it quantify the unique economic factors affecting retail operations in our downtown core relative to other areas of the city.

Tough part of town to do retail in? Consultants will tell the city just what it costs to do business in the downtown core and what it costs elsewhere in the city - and why.

Retailers claim it costs more to run a business downtown.  Robert Lyons, a Burlington real estate professional produced some data that suggested property assessments in the downtown core were tough for retailers to cope with. There was a lot of anecdotal stuff floating around but the people making the decisions wanted hard data.

The BEDC has been given up to $15,000 to play with and get this done, in what can at best be seen as a real tight schedule.  Proposals in by February 28th; contract awarded March 5th then meet with BEDC staff to go over what’s going to get done three days later.  Then just over a month after the Preliminary draft of the report is due and discussed at an hour and a half meeting the same day.  Final report is due 12 days later.

May 10th the writers of the report present and defend the thing at a Council Workshop.

Much of the forward thinking being done in Burlington it tied to the Strategic Plan that set out three Strategic Directions for the city.

Vibrant Neighbourhoods – and while downtown is described as everyone’s neighbourhood – it isn’t very vibrant.  However, it wasn’t all that long ago when there were dozens of stores with newspapers covering the plate glass and a for rent sign in the window.

Prosperity- bring hundreds of those high tech, high paying jobs to the city.  Everyone knows that the city is not going to see a manufacturing plant with 500 new jobs on the horizon in this lifetime.  Intellectual property, bio-tech, high value added are the buzz words for the economic development crowd.  But to have any of this one needs decent office space – and there  isn’t any of that in the downtown core – yet.

The third Strategic Direction was Excellence in Government which meant delivering services to the community at an acceptable cost and listening to the people who live in the city.  The budget will probably come in at something very close to 2% – the draft version asks for 3.4% but look for some whittling down of that number.

Mayor Goldring has focused on economic development more than anything else (he has spent a lot of time and energy improving the working relationships between his Council members  – but that’s another story) so far in his mandate.  He was insistent that there be a solid, thoroughly thought through Strategic Plan and he made sure the time and the resources were put into the Task.  City Council spent eleven half day sessions producing that document. The Mayor did the thinking behind the innovateBurlington program and has for the past six months being setting things up for a major look at what is wrong with the downtown core.

In May, 2011 Council asked city staff to update Council on the Status of the Core Commitment along with a work plan,  time frames and a budget for a strategy designed to engage the community.  Key to this was an implementation for delivering the vision, whatever it turned out to be.

Staff produced their report in August of 2011 – and it didn’t hit enough nails on the head to get the job done.  While the Core Commitment had been ongoing for a number of years, they realized now that they really didn’t have enough data.  The anecdotal stuff they did have was getting them nowhere.

The Mayor’s office could see where this was going so Council directed  that a Task Group be formed to “identify challenges, opportunities, roles and responsibilities for creating a vibrant downtown”.

The Core Commitment people had already produced language that described the downtown core as a neighbourhood that belonged to everyone – and while true from a philosophical point of view – its tough to really believe that the folks in Alton and The Orchard or Aldershot for that matter,  see the downtown core as “their” neighbourhood.  These groups of people find what they need in their immediate community or head for the malls.

The Task Group got put together and did what any group does – (don’t think firemen do this)  – determined their mandate, wrote it down and then met and decided that a SWOT (Strengths,Weaknesses,Opportunities,Threats) analysis was needed and that recommendations delivered had to be based on fact – but there weren’t all that many facts in front of them – so they wanted some targeted research to advance the understanding of systemic  issues affecting the health of the downtown core.

That called for three research projects: Benchmarking, Market/Customer Analysis and the Cost of Doing business Downtown.  The cost study is what the city wants to get done pronto.

The Benchmarking is being done by an intern who will compare what has been done in the Burlington downtown with what has been done in other downtown locations of a similar size and similar socio-economics.

The Market/Customer analysis will be the object of a Request for Proposal to be issued at a later date.

So – what have we got?

A Core Commitment group that kind of stalled.  To be fair the Core Commitment is a vision document and a strategy to achieve the vision but they have stumbled a bit

A Task Group that hopes it can do a better job.  And they are going to do their best to ensure that they have valid data to work from.

And three research proposals.

All this to inform and direct a Workshop that is going to take place on what can we do to leverage those two parking lots in the downtown core, spitting distance from city hall.

Is the Brant and James intersection the location for some Class A office space or will it go up in a parking lot a block away?

Councillor Jack Dennison has had dreams about what can be done with those properties.  In 2006 the city thought they had a winner when six proposals came in response to a proposal to develop 100,000 to 150,000 sqft of Class A office space with a parking garage for 500 vehicles.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington's downtown core - but McMaster stiffed the city when a nicer deal came along.

Before that idea got very far McMaster came along with their idea of putting one of their schools in the downtown core and the city retracted the RFP they had put out.  But McMaster stiffed the city when a better offer came along. A BEDC document explains that unfortunate experience thusly: “Unfortunately, new opportunities later in the process presented themselves to McMaster and the downtown campus project was abandoned by McMaster.”  Care to know who owned the land that the university is now located on?

Somewhere in all this there is some progress.

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Armed robbery on Brant – thieves demand drugs at Medexpress and flee in broad daylight.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  There was an armed robbery at a pharmacy on Brant just before noon on Friday. Two armed suspects entered the Medexpress Pharmacy located at 809 Brant St., Burlington.

One suspect pointed a hand gun at the clerk and demanded prescription drugs – the clerk complied.  The suspects fled the store, last seen running eastbound on Prospect St..

Suspect :  Description – male, black, early 40’s, over 6ft tall, medium build. Clothing – all black clothing, wearing ski or motorcycle goggles.

Suspect 2:  Description – male, black late 30’s, over 6ft tall, medium build.  Clothing – black coat, grey scarf over face, light coloured pants.

Neither of the victims was injured.

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

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Ward 4 residents tell Dennison they are with him on his tax cut plans – all 14 of them. Popcorn was served.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  Burlington has a practice of taking its budget proposals out into the community to both explain the document and get feedback from the community.  The city holds information sessions at different locations.  There were about 30 people at one of the city sessions.

Councillor Dennison explaining the budget to a constituent at his Ward meeting.

Jack Dennison, Ward 4 Councillor held  a session and got a turnout of 14 people. It is reported that Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman got a turnout of 5 people and John Taylor got a zero turn out.  We were not able to get a response from Councillors Lancaster or Craven. Of the six Council members Taylor has the most loyal following, spends the least on getting elected knows as much as anyone about the budget numbers.

Meed Ward has a dedicated Ward Advisory Committee she will have briefed fully. She gave them the workbooks handed out at the public meetings to take home and fill out.  She adds: “I encouraged residents to attend the open budget meeting held in Ward 2 at the BAC.”

Dennison’s ward event was held at his office on Cumberland.  I’ve never quite understood why these aren’t held at a more neutral location.  I don’t think a constituent should have to go to the council members commercial office for a meeting.  What if you were an unhappy customer at the Cedar Springs Sports and Racquet Club?  The setting was nice enough and the gas fireplace in the Heritage Room made it pleasant – but methinks there’s something wrong with using a commercial location.  Dennison however has never stayed all that close to the rules and the proprietaries of things.

For the most part Jack Dennison knew his numbers and his penchant for repairing the roads came through loud and clear.  The city does have a problem digging out the money it needs to keep the roads in an acceptable state of repair and as Dennison continually tells people – “if we don’t do the repairs now we will have to do them later and it will cost us more”.  He focuses on the “shave and pave” approach – a way to manage the maintenance of roads that is cost effective.  Burlington’s problem is that the city is so far behind – some $17 million a year behind – and getting caught up means taking money from something else.  Jack took his audience through his solutions.

The federal gas tax, the funds municipalities get from the federal government share of gasoline taxes – Dennison wants to change the way this is split.  Currently 70% goes to roads and 30% to transit.  Dennison wants that shifted to an 80/20 split which will move $500,000 into roads.  Don’t expect the transit advocates to buy this one, especially with a major transit revue about to take place.

Take money out of the Land acquisition fund. Dennison sees $400,000 coming from that source.

Jack Dennison speaking to "his people"

Dennison wants to see $1 million scrounged out of the different departments and applied to the road repair deficit.  His task now is to convince his fellow Council members.

His audience, mostly seniors or very close to being a senior, were certainly aware of the issues and while there were differences of opinion this crowd knew what they wanted.  The city’s plans for an “egov” service would not be in the budget for this crowd –  $600,000 plus saved there in this budget.  Dennison wanted the $2.3 million that is scheduled to cost spread out over five years but he explained that $600,000 has to go in during the first year.  This is one project that has a better than even chance of getting pushed back a year.

Dennison thinks less money should be put into the Land Reserve Fund but he was OK with the 2% increase that would be given to local boards: The Art Centre, Tourism and the Performing Arts Centre.  He was even comfortable with the $500,000 losses the Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre rack up each year.

Ward 4 residents at community meeting working through their differences.

Dennison is not a big fan of the arts – don’t get him going on the “orchids” on Upper Middle Road and if you come up with a cheap way to get rid of the Joseph Brant Museum – Jack wants to hear from you.

Council instructed staff to come up with a tax increase of between 2% and 3.5% – they came back with a suggested 3.4% increase.  Dennison wants that walked back to less than 2% and he set out how he would do it.

One constituents wanted to know why the city was hiring firemen at $107,000. a year; another wondered why the city is re-developing the hospital and also why the words Phase 1 was on the sign – Is there a phase 2, he wanted to know.  Another felt the new hospital in Oakville could serve Burlington’s needs very well – they have all kinds of room to grow but Burlington has very little if any room to grow and the property is prime for residential development. “Turn the existing hospital into a long term care facility”  was his recommendation.”

These comments all make their way to the Council chamber where you can bet the mortgage payment that Jack Dennison will make mention of them.  Council members look to their community for  input and comment.  One council member is fond of the phrase “the word on the street is” but there is no sense of how many people are talking to her.

Dennison has always had a thing for the two parking lots in the downtown core – the lot off Brant and the lot next to the bus terminal.  He sees selling that land and using the money to build a parking lot as a big benefit for the city and has been promoting the idea of curtailing the length of John Street and getting some class A office space into that part of town.  Dennison has been pushing this one for more than ten years.

It may have been Councillor Dennison's meeting but the Mayor worked the room.

Mayor Goldring popped into the room for part of the meeting and would join the conversation to clarify or make an important point.  An issue that came up a number of times was the salaries, benefits and pensions paid to civil servants at city hall.  Tough to talk about how much you’re paying the people that run the city but Goldring is pretty consistent in his comments.  He points out that municipalities just can’t afford what they are currently required to put up.

OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, has a “defined benefits” program which sets out what an employee is going to get paid come pension time.  If the investment fund, which is made up of employer and employee contributions, doesn’t produce enough income to meet the pension obligations, OMERS goes to the municipalities to pony up the difference which for Burlington is going to be $600,000 for 2012 $600,000 for 2013 and $1.8 million for 2014.  Ouch!

The investment program OMERS runs, requires an annual return of 7% if they are going to meet their payout schedule – do you know anyone getting that kind of a return, regularly?   When the investment portfolio doesn’t deliver that level of return – OMERS turns to the municipalities and requires them to top up – for Burlington that has means, Mayor Goldring points out that this just isn’t financially sustainable nor does he see it as equitable.  But, as he points out “there isn’t much an individual Mayor can do”.  However, there is strength in numbers and Goldring is meeting with an association of other mayors to discuss what some of their options are.  Goldring did explained  to the audience that the rules that govern the OMERS plan are up for review in 2013 – bet on the municipalities concern being raised to a howl.

The 2008 recession is still dragging down the economy of many small municipalities.  Taxpayers are unhappy with a situation where their taxes support a retirement program that is much, much better than the retirement programs most people have. Goldring expects to play a leading role in the effort to bring about changes.  It’s financially complex but Goldring’s financial planning background will serve him well.

The low ridership on the transit service took the usual hit – “I often see just one person on the bus” is a standard comment which Mayor Goldring corrected when he explain that in the Quality of Service survey the city had done 25% of the population uses the bus service; not every day but the service is used.  There is a major transit study in hand with three public information session planned for the next few weeks.

The Pier – hardly a mention.  One could almost hear the sigh of relief from Goldring on that one.

It was a friendly evening but there was an interesting point raised by Dennison: five to six years ago the attendance was closer to 45 people.  Why the drop off?

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Budding Picasso’s have had their careers stalled: police call it graffiti and that’s a no, no; pre-charge diversion for these lads.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 17, 2012  Police have identified a trio of Burlington youths as responsible for a number of graffiti  ‘tagging’ incidents over the past month.

Beginning in the month of January, The Orchard and Millcroft communities experienced an increase in incidents of graffiti. The graffiti, in the form of spray painted ‘tags’, were popping up on park benches, Canada Post boxes, as well as cable and hydro boxes.  The majority of the ‘tags’ were one word in nature.

It isn’t public art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kids with too much free time on their hands and parents not fully aware of what their children are doing.



In a planned response to the increased incidents of graffiti, both uniformed and plain clothed officers were utilized to patrol affected areas. This initiative included a collaborative effort with residents, school officials and students who alerted police to tagging locations, provided timelines and potential suspect information.

This resulted in the identification of three Burlington youths ages 16 and 17 years who were responsible for the vast majority of the recent tagging.  The youth, whose identities are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are all entering a pre-charge diversion program operated by the Burlington Youth Bureau.

Such acts of vandalism have significant costs associated to them and police are asking parents to be mindful of youths in possession of tagging tools such as spray paint cans, graffiti art and wide-tipped markers.

Anyone with information regarding those responsible for such acts of vandalism are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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If done properly it could be made into a fun event and one that could save their lives. Plan on this one.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17, 2012  The Burlington Fire Department  has an idea for your family on Family Day.  Not quite the same as goofing around and doing nothing.

The fire department is asking families to make a home fire escape plan and practice it as part of their Family Day activities on Monday, Feb. 20.

This little girl got out of the house - the tragedies are when people don't make it out during a fire. Plan an escape on Family Day

“Everyone is responsible to ensure they know what to do if a fire occurs in their home,” said Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill. “If there is a fire in your home, it’s important to be alerted by working smoke alarms so you can quickly execute your family’s escape plan.”

Simple steps for home fire escape planning include:

Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. It’s the law. For the best protection, install smoke alarms in every bedroom.

Develop a home fire escape plan; discuss it with the entire family and practise the escape plan.

Check that all exits are unobstructed and easy to use.

Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance.

Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.

If caught in a smoke-filled area, get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit.

You can too escape safely from fires that rage like this.

Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or neighbour’s home.

Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.

Doesn’t sound very cool does it, common sense seldom is “cool” to the younger people.  But we’re not talking to the younger set; we are talking to parents and as you take the GO or drive to work on Tuesday you might think about the important thing you did for your children – and it could be made into a fun event.

You may have only seconds to safely escape your home. Practice your home fire escape plan and know where to meet outside the home to save your life and the lives of loved ones.


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Renowned world class author to speak at Burlington Library; Different Drummer co-sponsors the event.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 16, 2012  I’m not quite sure how he does it but Ian Elliott, proprietor of The Different Drummer Bookstore manages to attract some very impressive authors to his Engaging Ideas events he holds at the Public Library.

He recently had Michelle Landsberg as a guest and while I wasn’t able to make it to that event, I am told it was a great evening.  Landsberg is always good copy and good conversation.

An author with an international reputation and the ability to explain issues and ideas better than many - will be in Burlington February 27th.

On February 27, 7 pm author Modris Eksteins will introduce his new book Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age.

While that is certainly a mouthful of a title in the book,  Dr. Eksteins examines the career and concerns of Vincent Van Gogh and the explosion of his international reputation through a chain of surprising events in Weimar Germany.

Ekstein’s previous books, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, and Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II and the Heart of Our Century, have brought him major literary awards along with great international success and acclaim.

Solar Dance shares with these works an extraordinary recreation of the times, illuminated with keen insight and an astonishing range of reference in an artful, engaging and edifying presentation.

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

We have pinched shamelessly from a Globe and Mail review of Eksteins work.  I not only don’t have the time to review the books (but they are on my list of books to read) but I don’t think I could do as well as Mark Kingwell. If you are interested in reviewing books for Our Burlington – be in touch.

From Globe and Mail, February 10, 2012

No film fan can forget the scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) in which two pseudo-intellectual New Yorkers, played by Michael Murphy and Diane Keaton, enumerate the members of their “Academy of the Overrated”: Norman Mailer, Scott Fitzgerald, Lenny Bruce, Gustav Mahler, Heinrich Böll, Ingmar Bergman, Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Isak Dinesen, possibly Sol LeWitt.

Allen’s character, Isaac, a self-involved but earnest television writer, is particularly dismayed by their inclusion of Vincent van Gogh – pronounced, notoriously, “van Goch”

“Van Goch?” he mouths incredulously to his girlfriend. “She said van Goch?”

Van Gogh has been sneer fodder for snobs longer than most. Critic Carl Steinem, commenting on the craze for his work in the early 1920s, condemned the work as “petit-bourgeois kitsch” with “the likeness of a collectively minded idiot.”

Then and now, denunciations seem only to fuel an enduring, outsized popularity. Three of the highest prices ever paid for art were fetched by van Gogh’s work, even as blockbuster shows continue to create queues down the blocks of every city with an art gallery.

Posters of his paintings regularly outsell every other artist, to the point of being a dorm-room nuisance – for God’s sake, hang something else! – and his visage, name, story and signature now adorn everything from high-end liquor to banks.

This ubiquity has a non-cash price, namely that, precisely because we see the works everywhere, it’s no longer possible for us to see them. The startling vividness of van Gogh’s vision, the madness, the tragic impoverished death at 37 with just one work sold, no longer have the antagonistic power of a century ago.

Philosopher Karl Jaspers: “I could not help feeling that van Gogh was the only truly great and unwillingly ‘insane’ person among so many who pretended to be insane but are really all too normal.” Nowadays, van Gogh is no longer even an authentic madman; he is, instead, a textbook case of cultural over-determination, strangled by his own success.

The book is about the guy who cut off his ear and sold just the one painting before his life ended at 37 - it is much more than that.

Modris Eksteins’s subtle and engaging new book offers an account of how this came to be, and in telling it, Eksteins bestows a great gift: new strangeness. In 56 short sections, each linked to a van Gogh work, he interweaves the large fabric of culture, politics and money with the small, indeed pedestrian tale of a dancer turned art dealer who, in 1927, was arrested for the crime of offering 30 forged van Goghs for sale. The dealer, Otto Wacker – also known by various stage names and pseudonyms – was, in Eksteins’s phrase, a “twentieth-century mutant”: chancer, fabulist, romantic, a homosexual who joined the Nazi party, a dancer who leaped around the truth as well as the stage.

Wacker, in common with many talented men and women of Germany’s Weimar period, found interregnum Berlin an irresistible playground for stimulation and self-creation. “Berlin was crazy, debauched, metropolitan, anonymous, gargantuan, futuristic,” one Viennese writer said, “an infernal cesspool and paradise in one.” The combination of freedom and anonymity – the “metropolitan attitude” that sociologist Georg Simmel had identified as early as 1903 – would have lasting effect not just on these people but on the century’s course. Painters, writers, architects, philosophers and frauds of all types flocked to the wide-open, decadent city that would later host the extended madness, the violent “solar dance,” of Hitler’s Third Reich.

The Weimar Republic, Eksteins writes here, “was installation art on a grand scale, a fantastic panorama of commotion, imagination, and violence, literal and figurative, fuelled by a never-ending sense of emergency. Hitler and National Socialism were as much a product of Weimar as were Walter Gropius’s architecture, Fritz Lang’s films, and Marlene Dietrich’s legs.”

Makes you want to read the book – take advantage of the opportunity to meet the author.  I won’t be able to attend – there is a City Council committee meeting that needs attention.  If you choose not to join me at Council committee – do get to the library and take in this event.

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This could turn out to be a very useful program and has the potential to become a model across the province.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON, February 15, 2012 In his State of the City message in January the Mayor announced a new graduate internship program, innovateBurlington.  The objective is to help drive growth and innovation in Burlington by using talented young graduates to complete projects for local companies that help drive their business forward.

The project has some very interesting potential and appears to be one of those situations where everything came into line at the same time and it was relatively easy to go from concept to becoming operational.

The idea was part of Rick Goldring’s election platform – a promise he is delivering upon you might say.  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation, the organization that keeps tab on the health of the city’s economic development, is the lead on the project and will be asking the private sector for the most part if they have projects they would like to get started on or complete but for a number of reasons have not been able to get off the ground.

The Mayor’s idea was brought to fruition by an Advisory Board made up of   Cheryl Jensen, Paul Bates, C. Brotten, Keith Hoey, Catherine Mills, Nigel Jacobs, and Mike Jane who handed off the facilitation of the program to the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) who will administer the program during the formative years until it is clear how the program is going to be taken up by the private sector.

Kyle Benham, working with Anita Cassidy, )we will tell you more about her in a moment), take the needs a company has expressed and looks at the graduate students they are working with and looks for a match.

The students in the program are being given an opportunity many of today’s graduates feel they need to kick start their careers.  The deal for the students is that they are employed for a period of time – they get paid $23.00 an hour and work four days a week with their “client” and spend the fifth day in a classroom being mentored by some of Burlington’s success stories.

A piece of plastic got turned into a multi-national corporate endeavour. Innovative financing and a measure of moxie made it all come together. Foxcroft is going to share his experiences with interns taking part in the innovateBurlington program.

Ron Foxcroft, the basketball referee who turned a crisis, a piece of plastic and some entrepreneurial moxy into an internationally successful company.  Today’s students need time at the feet of people like Foxcroft – who also happens to be a heck of a story teller.

BECD’s Benham has taken the program one step further.  He and Cassidy look for situations where students work as team and for perhaps more than one client.  They get to share ideas and network in a way they just can’t when they are out looking for work.

Will some of the students find full time work out of the program?  That could happen but it is not the core objective.  The purpose is to give students an opportunity to get some experience and to expose the private sectors to students who were educated in the Burlington area and have a great deal of talent.

In these lean times many companies have put some projects on the side to focus on keeping the revenue side alive and healthy.  Projects that tended to be “future focus” got set aside either because existing staff just didn’t have the time or because a company wasn’t in a position to hire a new full time person.

BEDC has partnered with the Centre for Skills Development & Training and McMaster University.  Students will take their mentoring classes at the Centre and will, from time to time take in a class at McMaster.

What made this program close to perfect from BEDC’s point of view was that they were able to administer a program that is relevant to their base and use it as another feature for companies looking at Burlington for their operational base or perhaps their headquarters.

One of the problems the city has had is enticing new corporate entities to a city the Mayor and the people that oversee the growing of the city know is a great place to live and raise a family.  One of the problems they are up against is a form of apathy that says – “things are fine as they are” when many realize things are not all that fine.  Good – but not good enough.

Graduate students will be with the program for a minimum of four months with the possibility of putting in a full year.  The program isn’t meant to be a “full time” job for the students, even though they will certainly work full time and then some.  There just may be a situation where the project the employer has requires a full year and the student is picking up great resume building experience.  Most graduate interns will be involved in programs that last from between four months to a year.

Partnering with the Centre for Skills Development & Training,  a not-for-profit incorporated affiliate of the Halton District School Board, brought in seasoned educators with experience  at all stages of employment from youth just starting out, to older workers who have been laid off; from newcomers to Canada who need to improve their workplace English, to people interested in the trades who need to build their technical skills; and from small business owners looking to hire staff, to large companies who need help developing and transitioning their workforce.

The person in the trenches for this project is Anita Cassidy, who brings an almost perfect mix of academic training and experience to the task.  A Scot ethnically, Cassidy brings charm and a soft brogue in her voice to a sector in Burlington that is often neglected – the building of talent within organizations that are still working their way through the 2008 recession.

Educated at the University of Glasgow with majors in history and economics she went on to do a double Master program; an MSc with Merit in Economic Development, and an MA Honours in History and Sociology, both at the University of Glasgow

Anita Cassady, inovateBurlington program co-ordinator and Kyle Benham, Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation work up the early staging part of a program that has been launched.

Cassidy went on to work as program assistant from 2005 – 2007with the Strathclyde European Partnership where she saw how funds from the European Union were used in the re-development of the ship building industry in western Scotland.  That experience gave her both an insight and an appreciation for how much benefit there is to programs like the one the BEDC is embarking upon. She then went on to work for the British Council and then back to Scotland where she was involved as the Funding Coordinator, for Glasgow’s Regeneration Agency.  Burlington is going to seem mild to this woman

Frank McKeown, the Mayor’s top aide, pushed to have mentoring as a critical part of the program and said in an interview that he hoped to see a situation where the people involved in the program came back from Monday to Thursday sessions with their clients and spent the Friday in mentoring classes where they might get an opportunity to listen to someone like Ron Foxcroft talk about how you take an idea and grow it into a business.

McKeown fears that the Burlington private sector is just a little on the complacent side.  He points to the co-op program at McMaster/DeGroote where some 140 students were put into programs with employers.  Less than 4% of the 140 co-op students were placed with Burlington firms.  “If they aren’t working for our private sector then they are working with private sector firms elsewhere in Ontario who might well be competitors of Burlington companies”, he said.

The project got off to a strong start when local company Global Mobility Products (GMP) was able to match up with a graduate to help them realize strategic projects.  Ryan Djordjevic, GMP President, is keen.

Another program objective is to recruit, and retain talented young graduates in Burlington economy.  James Maxwell, one of the graduate interns  sees the program as an opportunity  through which he can gain experience, and increase his employability.  The hands on experience the program gives graduates includes learning how the business world works, which they don’t get in a classroom.  The hope for the people at BEDC, and the wish the Mayor had in mind when he thought up the program, was that Burlington would become home to both their work lives and where they raises their families.  The city wants to create a workforce that is part of those high paying, high tech jobs that everyone is after.  Mayor Goldring found that the mountain wasn’t coming to Mohamed – so he took Mohamed to the mountain.

Great idea – let’s see if it work.  If you want more information on this – log into www.innovateBurlington.ca  Better still – give Anita Cassidy a call..


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What’s open and what’s closed in the city on Family Day

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 15, 2012   Family Day is a relatively new event for Ontario and while municipalities were quick to pick up on it – legislation said they had to – the commercial sector hasn’t done much.  Denningers has announced they will not be open on Monday February 20th, which is the public holiday the province gave us in 2008 to celebrate the family.  It is a statutory holiday – which means banks, government offices, schools and municipal offices will be closed. The idea was that everyone would bet at home being family.  Hasn’t quite worked out that way but the city has set up a special schedule.

City hall is closed and a number of administrative services will not be available.

Burlington Transit and HandiVan service will operate a Sunday service schedule on Monday, Feb 20. The administration offices including the Downtown Transit Terminal will be closed.

While City Hall is closed on Family Day, Burlington parks and recreation facilities are wide open for family fun. Activities range from drop-in gym, swimming, skating and crafts to fitness classes.

A family of up to five (min. of one adult) can purchase a Family Day Pass and participate in up to three activities at Tansley Woods Community Centre for only $15. The full schedule of programs includes:

Family Day, drop-in programs

Activity Time Fee Per Participant
Drop In Family Gym* 9:30a.m.-2:30 p.m. $3.10/child, $2.10/additional child
Drop In Basketball* 2:30-4:30 p.m. $3.00
Family Fitness – Walk Tone & Stretch* (14yrs+) 10:30-11:20 a.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Cardio Sculpt* (14yrs+) 1:30-2:20 p.m. $5.80
Family Fitness – Zumba* (18yrs+) 11:30a.m.-12:15 p.m. $4.50
Leisure Swim* 9:30a.m.-1:30 p.m. $2.84
Shallow Aquafit 9:30-10:15 a.m. $5.91 youth/senior, $7.84 adult
Water Running – Deep 9:30-10:30 a.m. $2.84
Combo Swim* 10:30a.m.- Noon $2.84
Lap Swim Noon -1:30 p.m. $4.34 youth/senior, $5.75 adult
Fun Swim* 1:30-4 p.m. $2.84

*Family Day Pass Options


Additional Family Day Drop-In Programs

Appleby Ice Centre Family Skate – Pad 3
Sticks & Pucks – Pad 3
Public Skate- Pad 4
Rotary Centennial Pond Public Skate
Aldershot Pool Family Swim
Angela Coughlan Pool Lap Swim
Fun Swim
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Another home invasion in Burlington – police are pretty good at apprehending – are judges being stiff with the sentences?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 14, 2012.  It wasn’t hearts or roses yesterday for two residents on Dryden Avenue.

It was 2:00 am on Valentines Day when four armed people broke through the front door of a Dryden Avenue home and rounded up the two residents of the home – brothers who are both in their 20’s.  The victims were led to the basement and restrained. The suspects assaulted one of the victims and demanded drugs and money.

The house was then ransacked and the bandits began stuffing electronics and other valuables into a duffle bag. It is believed that the presence of police in the neighbourhood resulted in the suspects fleeing and leaving all the property behind, including weapons.

One victim was unharmed and the second victim was treated for minor injuries at Joseph Brant Hospital and has since been released.

Suspects are described as:

1) Male, not white, mid to late 20’s in age, darker skin possibly Latin American, 6’3″, 260-270 lbs, covered face with dark hoodie and pulled dark shirt or scarf up over lower part of face, wore dark clothing and gloves

2) Male, white, mid to late 20’s in age, described as being a “skin head” light coloured possibly blonde short hair, 5’10”, 175 lbs, jeans with a ski jacket, no other identifiable marks, scars or tattoos, did not wear gloves or a mask.

3) Male, Asian, mid to late 20’s in age, 5’9″, 150-160 lbs, wearing brown Timberland boots, grey hoodie pulled down on head, dark shirt or scarf pulled up over lower face, blue jeans, unknown type of gloves.

4) Male, possibly Italian descent, mid to late 20’s in age, 6’0″, 220 lbs, grey hoodie, white scarf or shirt pulled up over lower part of face.

What is it that takes criminals to a specific house on a specific street at 2:00 am in the morning and assaulting the occupants and demanding drugs and cash?  Because they think that’s what’s in the house?  There is some detective work being done around this robbery.

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


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Queensway residents comments on the Drury Lane bridge; Council agrees to repair. Building a new bridge? That’s five years off.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 13, 2012  The core values of a community are often not fully appreciated until they are threatened and that is when the community comes together and focus on the challenge it faces.  That is when members of the community find their voice and make it public.  And that is what the Glenwood School drive Community did last week when nine of its members stood before the city’s Community Development Committee and said: “fix our bridge”.

For a time city council chamber looked like a day care centre with children scampering all over the place while other draped themselves over their parents laps. In this picture city Manager Jeff Fielding looks on from the public gallery and made no comment. Let's see what he says when this gets to city Council.

Each person spoke with their own passion; some were more direct than others, some talked of the history and the small things that made the community unique

Steven Kopysh talked of the change that had taken place in the community from the time 44 years ago it was a quite secluded area that not too many people realized existed. At the end of my street you could walk across the tracks to a wooded area with a well-worn path through it.  There were no fences, Fairview street was not there, Burlington was not a city.

All that has changed.  Fairview was built to be a main east west corridor, railway underpasses were built,  Brant and Guelph line were widened and Queensway made into a main thoroughfare.  The GO train added more traffic and the tracks were fenced off. Our community had gone from a secluded area to an isolated area.

Kopysh reminded Council Committee that forty years ago Council had the foresight to build a pedestrian bridge to the south.  It made sense. All the elementary schools, the high school, central Park, the Library and the Seniors Centre were to the south.

Then in a way that only a long-time resident can, Kopysh  chided Council members  as said” If Council is serious about greening the city and reducing our carbon footprint, if this Council is serious about promoting vibrant communities, if this Council is serious about promoting walking and cycling – the bridge makes sense. Please do not isolate us.  Do not force us to use our cars.

And if the point was not already made Kopysh added “my sincere hope is that our city council has the foresight and wisdom shown by their peers forty years ago and that we will have a bridge for generations to come”.

Alicia Lovatsis was pretty direct in her comments to a Committee of city Council when she said: - we want THAT bridge and not a path

Alicia Lovatsis, a Fassel Avenue resident first took issue with the bridge traffic survey the city was using And pointed out that a petition of 240 names of people this neighborhood that are saying we use THAT bridge and we want THAT bridge fixed.  Not a pathway.  Our bridge!!

Our children and youth are the ones being forced into busy roads and dark train station tunnels!

The main reason I stand before you is speaking environmentally.  I am not an environmentalist but I have been taught to think about the choices I make and how they impact our world.  At the first council meeting I watched you councillors roll your eyes at Marianne (Councillor Marianne Meed Ward) telling her it waste a waste of the cities time to include statics about cost per trip when using the bridge!

Again maybe this is just a difference in generations but this is the way our generation thinks.  I don’t want to live in a world where my children think its ok to get in the car every time they want to go somewhere!!  So I decided to look back at how many times I could of crossed the bridge but instead I had to get in my car and drive.  From November 25 until January 21 I made 52 unnecessary trips with my car.  I will spare you the details but all my destinations were south or southeast.  I never once went to the go station!! I did another little experiment just thinking in line of the councillors thinking that its no big deal to go around and through the station, I did a little walking experiment.  I left my house at 1:13pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I walked across Fassel and up to Glenwood  School and across to the Go Station.  I got to the station at 1:36 , down and through the station and across the south lot.  Arriving at lights at 1:47, cross the street, backtrack to Aragon and cross down through catwalks arriving at Tom Thomson at 1:59.  That is travel time of 55 minutes.  No one will do that, even if it cuts down on my time by a pathway…it still leads me to the go train station platform, not an ideal place for my 3 and 5 year old!!  I used to be able to leave at 8:45 and arrive at Tom Thomson. 20 minutes is very reasonable for travel!!

Lovatsis then reminded Council of the Pedestrian charter, passed in Burlington in 2009.  There was the clear sense that few on Council knew what she was talking about but Lovatsis reminded them that

“an urban community is one that encourages and facilitates walking, and supports community health, vitality and safety.  It increases use of public transit, decreases car dependence, reduces conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, leads to cleaner air and more public green spaces, as well as supports green tourism.  Such an environment creates opportunities for the informal social interaction that is one of the main attributes of a vibrant, livable urban community.”

She wasn’t finished. She urged the committee to truly listen to the people of this community that have come together to speak about how important this bridge is to our community.  That is what they call ‘walking the talk’.

Sarah O'Hara told a city council committee that she and her kids, as well as neighbours from across the city, stand on the bridge and watch the trains pass underneath and delight when the train engineers blow their whistles.

Sarah O’Hara, who has lived on Glenwood School Drive for more than twelve years pointed out that the Drury Passenger Bridge has a rich history in our neighbourhood.  People use this to get safely from our survey to the business section of Fairview Street and can easily access Burlington Mall, the library, the Y, and other places without having to take the longer route of Guelph Line.  Safety issues aside (which are of course one of the main reasons this bridge needs to stay), I would like to touch on the rich tradition this bridge offers our residents.

I use the bridge daily to get fresh air for my daughter and exercise for myself!  While making the daily trip I meet many other mothers, fathers and grandparents in the neighbourhood who also made the bridge the destination of their walks and they love to climb the bridge and eagerly check the colour of the lights for the trains.  When we saw a green light a sense of excitement would ensue while we waited for the approaching train.  GO trains, VIA and freight trains would never fail to honk their horn and wave to the thrill of all the children who stood on top, clinging to a grown up in a mix of fear and delight while they waved excitedly to the passing train, then quickly turn to watch it receding the other way.  I met countless parents who have actually driven from other neighborhoods so their children could climb the bridge and experience the same thrill.

The bridge O’Hara told Council committee “helps to define our neighborhood, and a place where neighbours meet.  This bridge has helped to create neighbours in the true sense of the word, not just strangers who happen to live on the same block of land.  We are already experiencing so many changes in our neighbourhood; it would be a shame to lose this bridge.

The Queensway community ,managed to get a city council committee to go along with $380,000 worth of repairs to the bridge. Getting the thing rebuilt or an underpass put in place in five years will be the next battle for them. Guess which community is going to be active in the next municipal election? will this sign be gone by then?

O’Hara asked the members of Council to “look behind me.  You are looking at teachers, waitresses, social workers, postal workers, stay at home mums…children.  What brought us all here together?  What “bridged” our differences?  We are here out of a desire to have our voices heard on something that is evidently important enough for us all to come here tonight.  This is our chance to show our youth that the city of Burlington takes the concerns and opinions of its citizens seriously.  Please show us that what is important to us, the people living here, matters.  Please fix our bridge.”

There was one occasion when the public cheered and clapped and committee chair Blair Lancaster quietened the crowd and explained that applause wasn’t allowed.  I wondered why the first time Lancaster said no responses were permitted but then understood when Lancaster added:  If we let you clap when you’re happy then we have to let you boo when you’re not happy.  Thhe beauty Queen has become a politician!

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Pier has settled in for the winter; work resumes in Spring; providing a crane doesn’t topple we will see the Pier open in 2013.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 11, 2012  – Whenever there is bad news about The Pier ears perk up and the Doom Sayers wonder why we just didn’t tear it down, take our losses.  At times bad news about The Pier actually gets manufactured and results in front page stories.

The Pier has certainly had its share of problems and they aren’t all the fault of the people who were hired to design and build the thing.  The city’s engineering department made its share of mistakes but the city is not at fault here.

Contractor gets a break with the unseasonable weather and is able to remove all the deficient steel. The trestle, needed for construction equipment lies to the right, the steel rails are to the left of the trestle. Fabricators begin work on the new beams.

As everyone knows – there are a couple of law-suits working their way through the legal process.  In this country it seems to take forever to get a resolution to a dispute – but that too isn’t the fault of the city.  The unseasonable weather has been great and allowed all the sub-standard steel that was put in place to be taken out.  Note that the city didn’t buy the steel, nor did the city specify the steel that was used.  It just paid the bills when they came in.

All the deficient steel was removed before Christmas - the lady is now naked - waiting for a new steel dressing come the Spring. The trestle is still in place but the steel rails have been removed. The windmill that will power the lights will be placed on the rails that stick out on the upper left. It is going to happen.

With all the steel taken out and stored in a yard in Hamilton – (unfortunately at the city’s expenses) because it might be needed when the case actually has a Court date.  One could argue – does all the steel have to be kept?  Good argument but you know that the lawyers on the other side will come back with a way to get out of being found responsible should the city dump anything – so at this point – every scrap of evidence is being kept.  Expensive – yes; necessary, probably.

The contractor is now putting together the drawings that will get passed along to the people who are going to fabricate the steel – this is being done by a company in Kitchener.  That work should be done by the time the winter that has just started comes to an end and crews can get out and beginning riveting the steel in place and then move on to the concrete pours.

It’s all happening on time and no snags or problems.  The city’s engineering department is watching this one like a hawk with an eye on a snake that is trying to slither away.



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Burlington women gather to celebrate and listen to a financial leader talk about climbing the corporate ladder.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  February 13, 2012  The girls are going to show the guys how they have a plan to take over the world. On March 2nd, Paddy Torsney will host the 16th  Burlington International Women’s Day breakfast to be held at what was once the Holiday Inn Burlington, South Service Road and Guelph Line.

The speaker this year is Burlington resident Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators Group Limited. Bardswick is one of the few women in Canada to head a large financial institution. She will share with us her life’s journey and secrets for success.

Bardswick, featured speaker at the 16th Burlington International Woman's Day breakfast, heads up The Co-operators, a large Canadian insurance company.

Kathy Bardswick began her career with The Co-operators in 1978. Prior to her appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Co-operators Group on March 1, 2002, she served as Chief Operating Officer of The Sovereign General and L’UNION CANADIENNE. From 1998-2002, she was in charge of operations for these companies and their subsidiaries under the umbrella of The Co-operators Group Limited.

A graduate of McMaster University’s M.B.A. program, Kathy Bardswick also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Manitoba.

She is Chairperson of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Equally active in the co-operative sector, Kathy served as Chair of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation. She is currently a member of the ICMIF Executive. She is also a board member of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

International Women’s Day celebrates the accomplishments of women and girls in our community, our country and around the world. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and plan for the future.

This annual event in Burlington allows people to celebrate, network, learn and be inspired.  Our generous sponsors will ensure girls from each of our high schools in Burlington attend and you may wish to sponsor students you know.

Tickets are available at A Different Drummer Bookstore (see below) for $15 each and must be purchased in advance.  Every year, this event has been sold out – so get your tickets early.

We are told that men and boys are welcome to join and celebrate women and girls!  But no high heels guys.



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Making the business hubs work; Aldershot seems to have developed an integrated approach; how is Brant Street doing?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 10, 2011  – What is it that brings about economic growth in a community?  How can the strides that are taking place along Plains Road in Aldershot be grafted onto the downtown core?

The Plains Road Village Vision Group (PRVV) have shown that when people in the community want change to take place – it happens.  When Shoppers Drug Mart opened their location on Plains Road they had planned on using their template for the store.  Shoppers has a way of doing things and they planned to follow the formula..

Plains Road - no longer just the highway to Hamilton but now a Main Street in a part of the city with an identity of its own

Not so fast said members of the community.  We’d like to see the orientation of the store more towards the street and not the parking lot you’re putting in – and while you’re at it – we want you to place one of the benches we’ve created close to the front of the store.  And the door should be placed facing the street.

The bench is in place; the greenery at the front of the location is pretty consistent with the rest of the street and there is a door that faces the street – but it’s kept locked – you can’t use it.  Which underlines the phrase – you can’t win every time.  But the Plains Road Village Vision win often enough and a road that was once the main route through to Hamilton has become a street that is a little slower when it comes to traffic and is certainly much nicer to walk along.  There are shops and restaurants and new projects are announced almost monthly.  The shovels go into the ground whereas in downtown Burlington a project is announced and that’s about it.

The Ontario Municipal Board recently gave a developer additional height at the James – Brant intersection, which made him happy but the same developer has a major project past the approval stage for John Street.  No shovels in the ground there yet.

The PRVV people have done such a good job on their end of things that the local Business Improvement Association has made the PRVV a formal subcommittee of the BIA. “In my view” said Ward Council member Rick Craven, “this initiative will strengthen both groups and serve the interests of Aldershot very well”.

Looks very cosmopolitan - and it is. But property taxes take a big chunk out of the revenue.

Meanwhile the downtown Burlington merchants struggle attracting traffic and making Brant Street vibrant.  Downtown rents are a killer for those who don’t own their buildings and taxes, up significantly due in some measure to the high rise condos that have been built, don’t allow these business people to see the profits they need to grow.

That cup of coffee on Brant Street is the same price as that cup of coffee on Plains Road but the tax portion of the rent on Brant is a lot higher than it is on Plains Road

Much to the chagrin of the Brant Street merchants, as well as their colleagues on the streets east and west of Brant, the condos brought tax increases but didn’t do much in the way of directing traffic to their doors.

All that hustle and bustle at Spencer Smith Park during the Sound of Music and RibFest doesn’t drive much traffic up Brant Street either.

While the people in Aldershot seem to have a grip on what their issues are and are working together to make the best of what they do have – Downtown can’t seem to make things work for them.  During the Christmas Season at least two well-known restaurants did nothing to dress up their street scape.  There wasn’t much of a “festiveness” on the street while the Village Square made their location look inviting at least.

Retail and hospitality are a grind – it isn’t easy to stay fresh, be seen as “the place” to get to and have fun or enjoy a meal.  When retail is good – it’s great – it’s just isn’t all that good much of the time.

Are there lessons for the Burlington Downtown Business Association with what Aldershot’s BIA is doing?  Might be worth looking into.  Is there an equivalent to the Plains Road Village Vision representing the downtown merchants?  That too might be worth looking into.

And does anyone have any thoughts on what the Festival of Lights will be doing for sponsorship next winter?  And if anyone happens to know where those reindeer wandered off to – give the Festival of Lights folks a call.



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