When the electors delegate to the elected and the elected listen you have democracy at its best. That isn't what happened in Burlington yesterday

By Pepper Parr

April 17th, 2029

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The relevant thing about a democracy is that citizens decide who is going to lead the government.

We do that by holding elections – some politicians take the position that you elected me and I can do the job as I see it.

Modern democracies have governments that listen to their constituents on a regular basis. In Burlington we have people delegating to their city council.  For an unfortunate period of time there were very few delegations.  The people who did the delegating began to feel they were not being heard

That has changed.  Delegators know that they are not being heard and have decided that, nevertheless, they are going to speak and on Tuesday they did speak.

The Council Chamber was far from full. That smiling face at center right is former ward 3 Councillor John Taylor who was busy taking notes.

Two delegators: Ann Marsden and Lynn Crosby did a superb job of reminding Mayor Meed Ward of just what her job was and what it wasn’t.

There is little doubt that they had any impact on the Mayor.  She is too committed to the Strong Mayor powers she has – the public is going to have to wait it out until October of 2026 – 30 months away – when they can elect a different Mayor.  Who the other candidates for the Office of Mayor will be is unknown at this point – what was important today is what Marsden and Crosby had to say.

Read on – they were both right on.

Ward 2 resident Lynn Crosby delegating before Council.  She was a significant part of Meed Ward’s election team.

Crosby was there to present the Petition for Restoration of Democracy at Burlington City Council and Opposing the Strong Mayor Powers.

“It is truly sad to find myself feeling the need to delegate to ask my own mayor and council to stand up for democracy and its basic tenet of majority rule and that I’m doing it for a second time because it seems the Mayor may need more convincing.

“I understand that in filing the petition last Friday, we were too late.  We erred.  As a result, we needed a 2/3’s majority vote today to allow the petition to be received.  I thank you all for voting to approve the receipt of the petition.  It is certainly ironic that our protocols could ever block a peoples’ petition, the sole subject of which is the return of democracy to council.  I note that our rules require 2/3’s of you to bypass a procedural filing deadline but only one of you, the Mayor, can hire and fire the CAO or overrule the elected representatives of almost 200,000 people.

“The petition was started on March 26 and as of this morning there are over over 600 signatures.  The petition is in support of the Motion by Councillors Nisan, Stolte and Galbraith in which they asked the Mayor to delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council with respect to the City Manager, as well as asking her to delegate other powers and duties to council as outlined in that Motion.  We intend to keep the petition active until such time as the Mayor agrees to all of council’s requests.

“We are both disappointed and surprised by the Mayor’s decision, as expressed late last week in her ‘open letter’, which some residents may have seen.  When all her supporting verbiage is stripped away, what remains, the single end result, is the fact that she is willing to surrender only one of the Strong Mayor powers and this one only to the City Manager and CAO – an unelected official who reports only to her rather than to Council as a whole.

“Without conceding to the council request in its entirety, and instead cherry picking one power only, the Mayor has made things worse.  One main intent of the Council motion was that our elected Councillors should have equal say in the hiring and firing of senior staff, including the City Manager.  Allowing the Mayor alone to have this power, or her now giving it to the City Manager while the Mayor retains sole authority over he or she effectively concentrates all the power with the Mayor.  There is no change.  For all practical purposes, you have the Mayor and an unelected official selected by the Mayor running the organization.

As Councillor Nisan recently opined in the Hamilton Spectator, “whether used or sheathed, the mere presence of this weapon can wreak havoc on a municipal administration like Burlington’s.  It not only undermines local democratic institutions, but potentially also creates a municipal administration rife with the opportunity for dysfunction as staff may be in constant fear of the strong mayor and being “next.””.

Speaking of the Mayor, Lynn Crosbie told Council "she’s heard from us now."

Speaking of the Mayor ward 2 resident Lynn Crosby said “she’s heard from us now.”

This doesn’t change at all with the Mayor retaining her power to hire and fire the City Manager and then delegating to him the power to potentially do her bidding in regard to the hiring and firing of senior staff.  I also suggest that council look at the current version of the petition – some of the most recent names may interest you when pondering Councillor Nisan’s words regarding staff, particularly recent exits.

“The Mayor has said in the past that she hadn’t heard directly from the public that they were opposed to the strong mayor powers.  While I respectfully suggest that if that is what she thought, she wasn’t paying attention to the commentary that was circulating out in the community, the fact is, she’s heard from us now.

“I ask council to accept the petition today as valuable feedback received from hundreds of Burlington residents; read the comments on it and Mayor please return all powers that you can as requested by the majority of your council.”

Marsden:

Ann Marsden took a slightly different tack saying “The most important part of the request that Nisan, Galbraith and Stolte was that the  Mayor delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under the Municipal Act, with respect to the City Manager.

Thursday April 11, 2024 Mayor Meed Ward publicly made it clear she was not going to give up that power.

What is even more troubling with the Burlington Mayor’s position is the statement she made to Grant Lafleche of the Hamilton Spectator published on April 11, 2024.

“She said (the Mayor) having these powers (to hire the CAO) protects the CAO from “undue pressure behind the scenes by any member of council.”     According to Lafleche Mayor Meed Ward refused to say if she believed Councillors were manipulating City Manager Tim Commisso. .

“Further, Mayor Meed Ward claimed in the LaFleche article that it was important that the CAO and the Mayor, were compatible. Compatibility with the Mayor and indeed all members of Council is something that can never be decided until time proves it is so. More important than compatibility with the Mayor, however, is the ability of CAO to be free to take a stand at Council when the Mayor or indeed any member of council is promoting a path that will see them acting outside any legislation and thereby putting the City at immense risk.

“Besides raising the issue publicly that Mayor Meed Ward believes she needs to protect a very experienced and talented CAO from her fellow Councillors she has, in our minds, spoken publicly about fellow members of Council in a manner that our Code of Governance and “Respect in the Workplace Policy” prohibits.

We believe there is only one way Mayor Meed Ward can fix this.  Publish a decision immediately after this Council meeting that reverses her decision and delegates the powers to hire the CAO to council with a majority rule and commit not to undelegate this power.

Sadly the chances of that happening are the same as Anne running a 20 yard dash.

“For the Mayor to make the changes four of the seven member Council asked her to do would mean she  had listened to what constituents had to say.”

 

 

 

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Council sends City Manager Tim Commisso on his way with heart felt comments and a standing ovation

By Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Drawing attention to myself is not one of my strengths said Tim Commisso as he spoke to Council for the last time.

He had a 20 year career with the city, then a good stretch of time in Thunder Bay, his home town and returned to serve as the City Manager for five years  “which has been the culmination of everything” he said.

“If you’d told me I’d be the city manager for the best city in Canada, I’d never believed you.

I grew up in a small northern Ontario town, Pickle Lake and that’s at the end of the road.

He went on to say “thank you to my counsel” with more emotion one has come to expect from Tim

I  respect the fact that you had discussions today with me that were obviously near and dear to my heart. One of the principles I adhere to is to make the tough decisions, have the tough debates in open session at counsel.”

“The suggestion that something should be named in my honour  – I’m not interested in naming anything – there may be a rumour going around that I might get a temporary naming of the parking lot, which in two years, you can rip out because it’s going to be redeveloped.

Tim fondly remembers Lisa Kearns calling him the big cheese in front of some sixty people.

“I want to thank Council for facilitating a seamless transition for a new city manager.

“A lot of times you’ll see acting or interim City Manager. I want to talk about a bit about next Monday when Hasaan will be sitting in this seat whenever you guys meet again.  I am  really impressed quite frankly with the decision you made to have him come on.

“I’ve been working with him for a couple of months. He’s given me his time and met  with senior staff. We’ve spent a lot of time going through transition items. He will do very well and I wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

Tim closed with a remark I didn’t expect. “After 42 years, I’ll quote Neil Young’s “Comes a time”.  I don’t like saying I live my life through rock and roll but that song kind of epitomizes everything for me.

Comes a time when you’re driftin’

Comes a time when you settle down

Comes a light, feelings liftin’

Lift that baby right up off the ground

Oh, this old world keeps spinnin’ ’round

It’s a wonder, tall trees ain’t layin’ down

There comes a time

You and I, we were captured

We took our souls and we flew away

We were right, we were giving

That’s how we kept what we gave away.

No, Tim didn’t sing those lyrics but he was clearly feeling them as he spoke to a Council that he guided and in five cases mentored and help them grow into the job.

Tim Commisso: His practice was to think it through.

Tim wanted the public to understand that everybody on the leadership team, compared to five years ago is new.  “That’s 19 people. I want that to resonate with you because it is a reflection of the fact that we’ve been able to attract or promote the senior leadership team.”

“It’s the reality of my era, everyone has probably retired, but you’ve got a very strong team; a group of about 70 staff. A lot of them, I would say 85% of them, are new in their roles over the last five years. People like Emilie Cote who was here today:  you know, five years ago, she was maybe a supervisor. What you’ve got is really a talented team. The reason I’ve really enjoyed working with all of you is it really comes down to two reasons.

Adieu!

“One is their passion and compassion. Passion is the unrelenting desire to fulfill your own wishes that drives you. And I always look at it as drive in the context of doing better for the city?

“The other one, and this is as important for me, is your desire to help others. That, quite frankly, has been the primary motivating thing people ask sometimes, like, how do you do this job? It’s because you align yourself with people that have both compassion, and passion. And ultimately, the outcome is building a great community.

“I think I’ve covered the bases here. I just want to say this is pretty surreal, but it is real. So thank you very much.  I will leave it at that Mayor.

Council began to applaud and then as a group they stood and continued to applaud.

I’ve had my issues with Tim and he has had his with me.  He has served the people of Burlington very well.  Much of his work is evident today – what people will realize a decade from now is that he was right, very right, far more often than he was wrong.

 

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Food for Life to celebrate a Trillium Foundation grant.

By Staff

April 16th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are dozens of organizations in the city that will celebrate the volunteers who make what they do possible.

Food for Life is holding a meeting on Friday, April 19th at 1:30 pm to celebrate impact of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant at a volunteer appreciation event.

There are 565 volunteers who show up regularly to pack the food that comes in into packages that are distributed to the more than 4000 people who are served each week

There are an additional 200 people in the community who volunteer in different ways.

Those are impressive number and well worth celebrating.

Related news story:

How Food for Life makes delivering fresh food to 4000 families happen

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With news like this you now know why Bonnie Crombie took a pass on running for the Milton seat in the Legislature.

By Staff

April 15th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

With news like this – you now know why Bonnie Crombie took a pass on running for the Milton seat in the Legislature.

The Ontario government is moving ahead with the largest GO train service expansion in more than a decade, adding more than 300 trips per week on the Milton, Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East, Kitchener and Stouffville lines. The 15 per cent increase in weekly trips will give commuters more choice to get where they need to go faster.

“As part of our work to get it done on the largest public transit expansion in North America, our government is adding hundreds of additional GO train trips each week for communities across the GTA,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Today’s announcement, along with our recent introduction of free transfers between different transit systems through One Fare, will help get people across the region where they need to go faster, while saving the average transit rider $1,600 every year.”

Starting April 28, 2024, weekend train service will increase from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes in the afternoon and evening on the Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East lines between Oakville GO Station, Union Station and Durham College Oshawa GO Station. For the first time, riders on the Kitchener line will also benefit from new 30-minute weekday service during midday and evenings between Bramalea and Union Station.

“As Ontario’s population continues to grow, our government is investing in a world-class transit network that connects communities and people to good jobs and affordable housing,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. “We’re delivering on our plan to bring more reliable, convenient two-way, all-day GO train service to commuters in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”

The province is also adding evening train service seven days a week on the Stouffville line, as well as an additional morning rush hour trip to Union Station for commuters in Milton and an afternoon rush hour trip from Union Station to Milton GO.

“Investing in GO rail service and infrastructure is critical to advancing Milton’s long-term complete community vision,” said Mayor Gordon Krantz, Town of Milton. “Additional GO rail service trips in Milton further connects people to jobs, students to learning, stimulates our economy, fosters housing builds in our transit corridors and improves connections to other transit services. We thank the Government of Ontario for this investment, demonstrating a positive step forward in the shared two-way all-day GO service vision for 2031.”

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City of Burlington announces recent hires at the Director level to support its focus on digital transformation

By Staff

April 15th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City rarely sends out media releases on the hiring of new staff.  Those that they do send out have, to date, been about very senior people.

The following came from the city this morning:

The City of Burlington is announcing the hiring of two new directors to Burlington Digital Services – Richard Liu, Director of Information Technology, and Chinelo Okereke, Director of Digital Strategy and User-Centric Services. These appointments support the delivery of the City’s Digital Business Strategy, designed to prepare and shift the organization for transformational changes in digital approaches and architecture.

In announcing the two new hires the city wants the public to know that people really do want to work for Burlington.

Chinelo (Chinny) Okereke and Richard Liu

Richard Liu

Mr. Liu has been appointed as the City’s Director of Information Technology, effective April 8, 2024. He joined the City of Burlington in November 2022 as the Principal of Digital Enterprise Architecture. Mr. Liu brings over 20 years of experience in technology leadership roles to the City. Prior to his most recent role at the City, he held senior leadership positions with the Government of Nova Scotia’s Digital Services, mostly notably as the Director of Enterprise Architecture for over 10 years. He has also held positions in the private sector at CGI Consulting, and CARIS Inc.

With a commitment to digital transformation, strategy, and enterprise architecture, Mr. Liu has been instrumental in spearheading major digital initiatives, including the implementation of public cloud strategies and migrations, artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, and the modernization of legacy technology systems.

Mr. Liu holds a Master of Computer Science from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Southwest Jiaotong University in China. His professional certifications include a COBIT 2019 Foundation certificate, an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certificate, and designations as a Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP), and TOGAF 9 Certified Enterprise Architecture Practitioner.

Chinelo (Chinny) Okereke

Ms. Okereke joined the City of Burlington as the new Director of Digital Strategy and User-Centric Services on March 25, 2024. Ms. Okereke is an accomplished senior technology transformation leader. Prior to joining the City, she was the Enablement, Transformation and Operations Lead for Walmart Canada’s Insights & Analytics Centre of Excellence, created to accelerate the organization’s digital transformation agenda. She has also held positions at the Royal Bank of Canada including driving the strategic enablement of the technology function, and program managing RBC’s global innovation accelerator for employees.

Throughout her career, Ms. Okereke has acquired extensive experience in driving large transformation programs and leading successful digital initiatives that increase customer satisfaction, user engagement and employee experience. She has also led the development of user-friendly digital platforms to transform customer interactions.

Ms. Okereke holds a Master of Management Sciences (Technology) from Waterloo University, and a Bachelor of Science, Economics from the University of Toronto. She has certifications in product management, change management and Agile Project Management. She has also served as a part-time instructor for colleges, teaching innovation, change management and business management.

In their roles at the City of Burlington, Mr. Liu, Ms. Okereke, and their teams will be responsible for helping to execute aspects of the City’s Digital Business Strategy. The strategy outlines actions and investments that take advantage of technology and data to optimize and transform the way City services are delivered. The strategy will guide the delivery of services and ensure they meet the needs of the community, are easy to use, and cost efficient.

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National Volunteer Week - a win win for the volunteers and the people they meet with

By Staff

April 15th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is National Volunteer Week (NVW) – a dedicated week to celebrate the importance and contributions volunteers make in
shaping and impacting our community.

The theme Every Moment Matters, highlighting that the sharing of time, skills, empathy, and creativity is vital to all our organizations and builds inclusivity, strength, and wellbeing in our communities.

The staff at Community Development Halton (CDH) and Volunteer Halton extend their heartfelt thanks to each volunteer in our community as well as to those who lead volunteers, in paid and unpaid roles.  Volunteers are fundamental to meeting this challenging moment.

Volunteers across Halton Region, committing their support to increase our collective efforts and impact, help contribute exponentially to quality of life we all strive for.

This week, CDH and Volunteer Halton will honour some amazing volunteers at events in Burlington and Milton. Today please join us in celebrating the contributions
of volunteers who are receiving a Cheers to Volunteers award!

Cheers to Volunteers Award Recipients:  This award recognizes the contributions of volunteers making a difference in our communities.  A total of 12 volunteers
from across the Region are receiving Cheers to Volunteers awards this year!

HALTON HILLS
Diane Fullerton: Links2Care
Ruth Taylor: Town of Halton Hills
Matthew Key: Halton Healthcare, Georgetown Hospital

OAKVILLE
Luisa Reyes: Acclaim Health
Claudia Cortes: Community Living Oakville
Daniel Nash: Kerr Street Mission

MILTON
Freda Patterson: Town of Milton
Cathie Heirman: Milton Place Adult Day Centre
Brittany Marcijus: Halton Food for Thought

BURLINGTON
Nancy Williams: Acclaim Health
Sharon Collins:  Joseph Brant Hospital
Melanie Daley: Halton Regional Police Victims Services Unit

 

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St. Matthew on-the-Plains hosting annual plant sale. Orders must be received Friday, May 10

By Staff

April 15th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

St. Matthew on-the-Plains is hosting its annual plant sale.

Geraniums are available in red, salmon, pink, fuschia and white for $34 per flat of 10 or $3.40 per single.

There are also hanging baskets available in red, salmon, pink, fuschia for $34 each.

Orders must be received Friday, May 10.

Pick up is Saturday, May 25, in Parish Hall between 9 and noon.

For more information contact 905-632-1233 or office@stmatthewburlington.ca.

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Three properties that were not originally part of where the 29,000 homes are to be built are now part of the mix. Everything now changes

By Pepper Parr

April 15th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a long article intended for those who want to understand how the city is going to grow and the changes that will take place

There are three development projects that will set a new approach to how the city works with developers and at the same time result in significant development that will change the way the city is seen as a community.

This was presented to Council earlier in the month and started with:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to implement the targeted timeline set out in a of community planning department report to support the development of an Area Specific Plan informed by City objectives, inputs from the landowner/applicant information and City-led public engagement, to define the Urban Structure role, the Growth Framework prioritization and the land use policies for Bronte Creek Meadows.

Direct the Director to engage with all ROPA 49 landowners as one input into the development of the City’s population and employment work and to inform the development of the revisions to the Urban Structure, Growth Framework and preparing supporting timeline and approach to initiate the development of area specific plans or their equivalent.

Alison Enns: Manager of Policy and Community Planning.

The ball carrier in this instance was Alison Enns, Manager of Policy and Community who was very specific, direct and detailed.  This is a whopper of a task.

None of these properties have been considered in the Official Plan, other Master Plans or the City or Regional Development Charges and all have been supported by City Council to form part of the Region’s 2023 Allocation Program.

In December 2023 the city set out four key areas of focus.

Focus Area 1 is: Designing and delivering complete communities. Specifically, the work discussed in this report responds, in part to G:

Deliver on the City’s Official Plan 2020 with an update to reflect growth and needs of complete communities. This update will include the transfer of all Official Plan policies from Halton Region to the City of Burlington, confirmation of additional strategic growth areas (e.g., ROPA 49 decision – Oct 2022), and Burlington’s 2031 Housing Pledge target of 29,000 units. This update will be supported by a proactive communication and engagement plan.

 

Some background:

After a period of turbulence Bill 162, which is currently referred to a provincial Standing Committee, will, if passed, will reinstate four significant changes with impacts on the BOP, 2020 Urban Structure, Growth Framework and Land Use policies. BOP = Burlington Official Plan

Staff wanted to confirm with Council the approach to planning for three key future growth areas and believe the approach presented can be a model for understanding the role of all of these new areas.

Background and Discussion:

In June, 2023 a number of issues resulted in a need to develop an initial work plan to undertake the necessary work to bring the BOP,2020 into “alignment with the updated Regional and Provincial policy framework”

The overall workplan acknowledged the role for both modifications to the BOP, 2020 at the OLT and statutory official plan amendments (OPAs) to develop a local vision for growth and development to address the range of changes to the planning framework.

While the initial workplan identified a wide range of changes in play some have not been realized as set out in recent Targeted Realignment Update reports.

“The targeted realignment exercise was introduced to Council in mid-2023, and was set out as an initial work plan to advance the Burlington Official Plan, 2020 (BOP, 2020) in a way that ensured alignment with the updated Regional and Provincial policy framework.

“The overall legal strategy acknowledges the role for both modifications through the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)  as well as statutory official plan amendments (OPAs) in order to develop a local vision for growth and development to address the range of changes to the planning framework since the 2020 Regional approval of the Burlington Official Plan.

“Despite continued uncertainty staff have initiated work on the development of City specific population and employment growth forecasts.”

Regional Structure and Regional Urban Structure Changes

Several land use assumptions of the BOP, 2020 and the work prepared to support the Regional Official Plan Review have changed. The BOP, 2020 established a refined Urban Structure, Growth Framework and revised Land Use policies that together set out the long-term growth management strategy for a largely intensifying municipality.

That long-term growth management strategy did not anticipate the new areas (introduced either through the addition of new community areas within the urban area or through employment conversion).

It was an on, off and then on again process that made it very difficult for the Planning department.  With the Executive Director of Community Planning nolonger with the city there is some scrambling taking place.

On April 22 Hassaan Basit former President and Chief Executive Officer at Conservation Halton will arrive at City Hall and serve as the City Manager. Hassaan started his career as an evolutionary biologist.

Add to that a new City Manager joining the city and you get a sense as to the environment staff are working within.

Initially, the Minister’s modifications to Regional Council approved Regional Official Plan Amendment 49 (ROPA 49) converted several employment areas, and added several new urban areas within the City of Burlington.

Next, legislation through Bill 150 was introduced to rescind almost all of the Minister’s modifications. Subsequently, in response to feedback from the Mayor, with Council support, the initial Minister’s modifications may soon be reinstated almost in their entirety if Bill 162 is passed in the Provincial legislature.

While the effect of Bill 162, if passed would automatically incorporate the physical changes to the Regional Official Plan it is important to note as recently set out in Region of Halton Staff report

ROPA 49 as adopted by Regional Council in June 2022 directed growth to 2041 to the existing Regional Urban Boundary and identified a framework that would be used to plan for future growth between 2041 and 2051. The Minister’s November 2022 decision modified ROPA 49 to extend its growth strategy to 2051 and to revise the population and employment forecasts for each municipality. The Minister’s modifications related to the planning horizon and growth forecasts were rescinded through Bill 150, but are now proposed to be reinstated through Bill 162. The population and employment distribution to 2051 for Halton Region and the Local Municipalities in  the Regional Official Plan is as follows:

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak is now land that becomes part of the planning domain.  A Ministerial order converted it from Employment to mixed use.

The City has determined it is critical and timely to initiate its own population and employment growth analysis, in advance of Royal Proclamation of Bill 23. In order to prepare this study best information is required to support this analysis, including determining the role and function of several new community areas including new urban areas.

The Local Growth Management Update will require best information and assumptions as inputs as it relates to the new areas, at a minimum the following issues must be considered:

      • How will the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas fit within the City’s Urban Structure;
      • How will the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas bereflected in the Growth Framework in light of the City’s focus on growth within existing Strategic Growth Areas within the built boundary; and
      • What the vision, role and function of the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas reflected through the creation of area-specific plans or policies for major growth areas.

The answers to these three questions will be assessed against:

      1. Updated Regional and Provincial plans, policies and legislation,
      2. Burlington’s Strategic Plan and From Vision to Focus,
      3. Burlington Official Plan, 2020,
      4. Burlington’s Housing Strategy,
      5. Burlington’s Housing Pledge, and
      6. Other City objectives

The outcome of the work will be to determine how the City of Burlington will be planning to 2051 and beyond for:

      • Employment, jobs and economic development,
      • New population growth,
      • The creation of diverse housing options and opportunities to welcome new residents to the City,
      • The development of these three key areas from all

Bound by Hwy 403 and the rail lines the land will change how Burlington relates to Hamilton. King Road is at the bottom of the photograph.

Some of the landowners noted above currently hold broad appeals to the Burlington Official Plan, 2020. A critical early priority of working with any of these landowners should be a request to scope appeals to the BOP, 2020 to site-specific appeal. This is an important request as staff have continuously noted that the wide-ranging broad appeals to the BOP, 2020 are impacting non-appellant landowners and developers from moving forward with the creation of new homes and new development. Staff believe this approach to be reasonable as the individual landowners retain their appeal, albeit at a site-specific level.

The three “future” areas have single owners, none have been considered in the Official Plan, other Master Plans or the City or Regional Development Charges and all have been supported by City Council to form part of the Region’s 2023 Allocation Program.

A partnership with the City, landowners and the public to guide the planning work for these areas presents an opportunity to demonstrate, in action, community responsive growth and the opportunity to create vibrant, mixed use, people-oriented communities.More broadly, new assumptions and new population and employment growth along with new policy directions will drive new considerations and requirements that will need to be captured in a whole range of other plans and strategies. As has been previously noted there will be additional costs related to updating critical local master plans and other key documents to appropriately plan for the whole range of local services (in addition to Regional Services). As with all new growth there will be long term costs as well as benefits related to new growth that will be considered in the coming years.

Rendering of some of the development ideas the Alinea Group had for their 1200 King Road property.

Other Resource Impacts
There are significant demands on staff time given critical deadlines, and other associated efforts underway or about to be initiated. Staff will continue to monitor staff and work plans and proactively identify means of addressing any gaps.There may be a need to supplement staff complement to continue to make progress on a wide range of issues.

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Council gives Mayor a rough ride before endorsing her 'Better Burlington' speaker series

By Pepper Parr

April 15h, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Meed Ward has decided to copy the Inspire series of speakers that Rick Goldring hosted in his first term of office.

They were, for the most part, very successful.  There was one event when Andre Picard, a highly respected advocate on health issues and a regular columnist Globe & Mail columnist was to speak.  The first row of seats were reserved for Joseph Brant Hospital staff.  Every reserved seat was empty – unfortunate because Picard had a lot of solid advice.

Mayor Meed Ward calling her speaker series:  “A Better Burlington: Innovation to Action”.  The goal was for two sessions each year focused on the key challenges we face and fostering tangible ways to improve Burlington and engage residents in the process.

Jennifer Keesmaat, former City of Toronto Chief Planner and candidate for Mayor.

“Each Speaker’s Series will have a clear theme with a relevant speaker. The first session will be on Monday, May 27 at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and will feature Jennifer Keesmaat, who will present on discussing housing, community development and growth.

“Deputy Mayors will be invited to be participants in these series, where relevant to their portfolios. Councillor Shawna Stolte, in her capacity as Deputy Mayor of Housing, is part of the planning team for the inaugural event on housing. The team includes staff from relevant departments, including events, finance and communications.

“The Speaker’s Series will be free. This is to encourage as much participation and engagement from Burlington residents and city staff as possible. Costs associated with the series will be secured through corporate sponsorships and the Mayor’s Office budget.

Meed Ward added that on the recommendation of the Integrity Commissioner, sponsorship shall be secured through the City following its standard process, and will be separate from the Mayor’s Office to avoid perceived or potential conflicts of interests.

“In keeping with the Council Code of Good Governance, sponsorship will not be accepted from anyone with an active application before the City.

“The Integrity Commissioner also advised seeking Council’s endorsement of the Speakers Series, which has prompted this motion.”

Mayor Meed Ward: As an added level of extra due diligence and an abundance of caution I reached out to the Integrity Commissioner.

All the Mayor wanted was an endorsement for a speaker series she wanted to host. Several members of this council were not about give it a rubber stamp endorsement.

Chair Nisan asked Mayor Meed Ward if she would like to move the item and begin the comments.

Mayor:  “Certainly I’ll move it and give you more detail. I always like to borrow I ideas where I see them and I think back to two terms ago, Mayor Goldring brought forward the Inspire series and it this has really patterned after that it it brought people together. It provided an opportunity for community engagement. It focused on key areas that the community was interested in and is free to the community and at the time.

“That was helped along by being free as through sponsorships, and this is a new area certainly for me. Not always new for the city. And so in order to just make sure that this was done in an appropriate way of course I can tell that our and our council code of good governance it does have guidance around all of this in terms of seeking sponsors. So obviously no direct funding that is handled by any individual member of council and really the big caveat and condition is don’t seek a sponsor from someone that has active business in front of the Council for decision making.

“As an added level of extra due diligence and an abundance of caution I reached out to the Integrity Commissioner for conversation. I do that occasionally just to bounce ideas around and make sure that I’m on the right side of things.  The Integrity Commissioner did suggest that there might be an opportunity to invite counsel to endorse this. I’m not asking you to plan or fund it, but  to endorse the concept.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte chose to be with the Mayor on this one. Earlier in the month she was grilling the Mayor to determine when she was going to let Council know what her decision was going to be on the request made to relinquish her Strong Mayor powers.

Councillor Stolte: I certainly endorse the speaker series, and especially given the fact that the first one is subjective housing, which just happened to be quite a nice coincidence because the mayor and I had sat down on about a month ago. And we’d have we’d had a conversation and I was speaking about the fact that as Deputy Mayor of housing I was hoping to try to put together a city wide information session on the state of housing in Burlington and lo and behold, the mayor had been thinking already along the same lines as far as that being the first topic for Speaker Series.  I’m glad to be able to partner on this. I hope that this receives support from committee.

Councillor Kearns wasn’t as charitable. “I did take an opportunity to look into some of our existing policies and while the concept is definitely noble, I want to make sure that we’re aligned with our policies. So one of the things that I’ve still yet to be able to acquire in order to do some effective decision making is the actual budget.

“I’m not sure what we are out there looking for in terms of sponsorships and where that may or may not impede our ability to secure sponsorships for their priorities that have already been endorsed. And our staff time because with a fully staffed office of four through the mayor’s complement

“I wanted to understand a little bit better around staff time. I’ve further looked into some of the policy pieces which I may have continued questions on and to that and while all these costs come into clarity, I would like to put a motion to refer it to council and perhaps we can have the budget the cost of one of the speaker series may be by that time, so my motion would be to refer to counsel for information on budget and staff time.”

The motion to refer was put up on the screen so everyone could see it.  It went through numerous revisions.  Okay, referrals been put on the floor. Does anyone want to jump in?

Councillor Bentivegna began with: “Just a quick question to obtain the question on staff budget and time I make the assumption from what I sort of anticipate it is this Mayor’s staff budget and the Mayors staff time? Is that what I’m reading or not? I think that was the question.”

Mayor Meed Ward: “I can speak to both if you like by way of responding to my comments on the referral.   The request did come through to my office about the budget; the Counsellor is aware of the answer to this. We are bound by contractual agreements not to release information about the budget for this for this particular speaker series. So we won’t be doing that.

“As council members have a $5,000 budget for events. We have our other discretionary budget and Council member that that is reported out annually. So that’s where the that’s where people will see the aggregated amount of spend for any for any individual member of council. Finally, with respect to non staff time. Staff do provide a certain amount of support to council members whether it’s preparing design work for flyers or newsletters or other items. We all have a council appointed communications person. We are a service of the city and have the ability to submit work requests for those things. So there’s not anything over and above staff time on this that that other members of council don’t also have access to in the normal course of things. So this is a non-issue and I won’t be supporting the referral.”

Councillor Sharman: This is an initiative I wholeheartedly support. If we haven’t got budget for it this year, we will take a look at it next year.

The Appleby Line Car Free Sunday.

Councillor Sharman: “Back in 2011 or 12  Gil  Penalosa put forward an idea that became the premise of what is now the Appleby Line Street Festival for which we have masses of sponsorship funds.

“I’ve never actually had been questioned about whether there competes with other people asking those people for funding. This is an initiative I wholeheartedly support. If we haven’t got budget for it this year, we will take a look at it next year. We’ve got to approve it.  If the Counsellor were to think about this in terms of asking her questions offline, and come back, counsel and make the comments. Right now I’m entirely in support of what’s before us.  I won’t be supporting a referral to Council.”

Counsellor Bentivegna: “I have questions related to the referral. I’m not sure exactly what’s in any emails but the referral refers to information on the budget.

“So are we able I’m not sure how contractual obligations. I mean, we can’t see the know the budget for the event that we’re all supporting. So I assume that relates to the speaker, but are we able to find out what the overall budget for the event is?”

Meed Ward: “I assume that’s a question for me. I’m not asking Council to approve the financing. I’m asking you to endorse the concept of the series and the financing will be handled through my office budget and the normal course of things and any sponsors that I bring in as cleared through first checking that we’re not competing with stuff and also through the Integrity Commissioner policy and process.”

Councillor Kearns: “With respect to non-staff time who’s organizing the event?  Is it the mayor’s office with staff because the staff would not normally organize an event that I would hope so I just want to clarify are they in a support capacity? Like are they doing  processing newsletters, for example.

“Is that the kind of what are you expecting from staff outside of the mayor’s office to organize the mapping over and above the support they would normally give any other member of counsel for an event.”

Councillor Bentivegna: I just make the assumption that everything is done the way we normally do on a day to day business. 

Councillor Bentivegna: “I didn’t want to open a hornet’s nest here. But as the mayor mentioned, we all have $5,000 and some broke community events that I use completely every year. And I do have as I do as staff for certain things that they may or may not be able to help me and I do them in each my neighbourhoods. I just make the assumption that everything is done the way we normally do on a day to day business.  I have difficulty I don’t want to read into this motion so I if stuff happened then I get into it. But at this point I’m going to support the mayor’s program.”

Chair Nisan: “I will call the vote on the referral motion all those in favour. Any opposed?  Motion does not carry.”

We will  move back to the main motion and look for any questions or comments on the main motion I do not see any.

Well now call the vote. All those in favour, Aye.  Any opposed? That carries?

6 to 1.

That was it – the Mayor had her endorsement; expect her to make that point at every opportunity she gets.

The rough ride given the Mayor came from Councillors Kearns and Nisan.  Stolte chose to ride with the Mayor and Galbraith kept his tongue in his cheek. Sharman and Bentivegna were with the Mayor from the beginning.

This is your Council folks.  Live with it for now – but try and do better next time.

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What did the Mayor do: she buckled - gave back some of what Council didn't think she should have taken in the first place.

By Pepper Par

April 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told council in March that she needed time to think about the request Council members had made related to her Strong Mayor powers.  She took the time she needed, got the lay of the land and realized what she was up against and issued three orders that gave council much of what it wanted.

Councillor Angelo Bentivegna: Working through a very hard month.

Kudo’s to Councillor Angelo Bentivegna’s and his insistence that this whole business go to Council on April 16th.  The Gazette has no idea what members of Council will have to say – the Mayor has made public what she has done.  It all comes into effect on April 22nd when Hasaan Basit starts his new job as City Manager.

Councillor Kelvin Galbraith: The decisions the Mayor made get him out of the very uncomfortable position he found himself in. Doesn’t appear to have the kind of grit needed to perform at this level.

The decisions the Mayor made gets Councillor Galbraith off the hook – he was having an awkward time of it.  Now he can vote with the Mayor which takes away the majority the rebelling councillors had.

This is complex stuff, not something a parent trying to get the kids to the soccer pitch has time to think about.  They are nevertheless important decisions.

Earlier in the week members of city Council made the Mayor’s day a very uncomfortable one.  She wanted Council to support her decision to hold a Speakers event that she said was not going to cost the tax payers a dime.   Council members asked how much time would the Mayor’s Staff, paid for the tax payers, be used to get the Speakers event underway?

It should have been a humbling experience for the Mayor but she isn’t paying all that much attention to how a majority of the Council feel these days.  More on that in a seperate news story.

The decisions Mayor Meed Ward announced are:

# 1 Mayor Meed Ward delegated the following duties to the Chief Administrative Officer:

Determine the organizational structure of city hall Staff.
This Mayoral Decision comes into effect on April 22, 2024.

# 2  As Mayor and Head of Council I hereby delegate the following duty to the City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer:

 to hire, dismiss, or exercise any other prescribed employments powers with respect to the head of any division or the head of any other part of the organizational structure.

This Mayoral Decision comes into effect on April 22, 2024.

The following positions, relevant to the City of Burlington, are excluded:

1. the clerk or deputy clerk
2. a treasurer or deputy treasurer
3. an Integrity Commissioner
4. an Ombudsman
5. an Auditor General
6. a registrar for lobbying matters, as described in section 223.11 of the Act
7. a chief building official, as defined in the Building Code Act, 1992
8. a fire chief, as defined in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997
9. other officers or heads of divisions required to be appointed under the Municipal Act, 2001, the City of Toronto Act, 2006, or any other Act
10. any other persons identified in regulation

# 3
The delegation of decisions regarding existing committees
I hereby delegate the following duties to Council related to existing committees:

1. Establish or dissolve committees
2. Appoint chairs and vice-chairs of committees
3. Assign functions to committees.

This delegation is subject to the following guidance in accordance with the Municipal Act.

1. That any recommended change to chairs/vice-chairs be discussed first with the existing chair/vice-chair, and is subject to their agreement regarding the change, subject to Guidance section 2 below; and
2. That any finding or recommendations arising from an Integrity Commissioner (IC) investigation of a violation of the Council Code of Good Governance overrides Guidance section 1, and would be dealt with in the normal course of Council dealing with an IC report and recommendation;
Decision Number: 07-2024
3. That any establishment or dissolution of existing committees or change to their functions require a reconsideration vote of 2/3 majority prior to tabling the item, per our procedure bylaw for reconsideration of Council decisions.

Decision regarding new committees
Council may wish to create new committees for the balance of this term.

I hereby delegate the following duties to Council related to establishing new committees:

1. Establish or dissolve committees
2. Appoint chairs and vice-chairs of committees
3. Assign functions to committees.

This delegation is subject to the following guidance prior to proposing a new committee in accordance with the Municipal Act.

1. That the City Manager/CAO confirm capacity exists among staff to support any new committee; and
2. That should capacity not exist for a new standing committee of Council, the City Manager/CAO has the option to suggest alternatives to achieve the objectives of the proposed committee(s).

This Mayoral Decision comes into effect on April 22, 2024.

Mayor is pressed by Councillors as to when she will respond to their request that she relinquish some of her Strong Mayor Powers

Full details on the decisions Mayor Meed Ward made that delegated various authorities to the City Manager and Council.

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Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act to streamline approvals for garden suites, laneway housing and basement apartments

By Staff

April 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Yet another government plan to get housing built.

A bill was introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday designed to streamline government permit processes, make it easier for universities to build student residences, improve transparency around the controversial minister’s zoning orders (MZO) framework and eliminate parking requirements for higher density housing developments near transit stations to lower costs.

Housing Minister Paul Calandra includes a “use it or lose it” provision in the bill to allow cities to withdraw building permits for stalled housing developments.

“ These measures recognize the struggles that our municipal partners have faced in building homes and are targeted at removing those obstacles”, said Housing Minister Paul Calandra.

The Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act enshrines — and prioritizing new infrastructure such as roads and waterworks for ready-to-go projects — and further streamline approvals for garden suites, laneway housing and basement apartments.

The Tories will not mandate as-of-right four-plexes across Ontario despite calls from Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie to do so in the name of “gentle density.”

Bonnie Crombie calls new legislation a ““a random grab-bag of small-ball measures”.

Crombie blasted the legislation as “a random grab-bag of small-ball measures the Ford government could have done years ago if they were serious about building housing.”

NDP Leader Marit Stiles said it was “a weak bill from a government lacking in the bold vision and leadership that is needed in order to do what they should have done years ago: build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.”

Green Leader Mike Schreiner said “with this bill, the Ford government is effectively admitting defeat after five years of housing failures.”

The Act includes amendments to the provincial building code to promote mass timber buildings, which are faster and cheaper to build, and modernize Ontario’s standards to be more in line with national construction codes. Currently, only 12-storey “advanced wood” buildings are permitted, but that will change to 18 floors.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles said it was “a weak bill from a government lacking in the bold vision and leadership that is needed in order to do what they should have done years ago.

The province will also allow cities to revamp development charges on condos and many other projects by eliminating a previous five-year phase-in of hikes; as  of June 1 there will finally be exemptions from or discounts of such fees for builders of affordable housing. These are designed to spur construction and increase revenues to municipalities that had been concerned about previous Tory moves.

Calandra told reporters the government has “listened to our municipal partners” and will ensure civic revenues aren’t affected by the changes to development charges.

In what is seen as a bid to curb NIMBYism, the government will be “limiting third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal” to get quicker approvals for housing. Some 67,000 housing units, which began being built between 2021 and last year, are being thwarted by third-party appeals of official plans and rezoning.

The proposed changes would also allow proponents to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal when a municipality refuses an application or does not make a decision on a settlement boundary change outside the Greenbelt area, ensuring that decisions over boundary changes are subject to an independent and neutral process.

Ontario’s 23 publicly funded universities will join colleges in being exempted from Planning Act restrictions when it comes to building student housing on campuses and on land they own elsewhere. All universities and colleges will be required to improve accessibility to student housing.

None of the people named in various public documents have been interviewed yet by the RCMP

The legislation arrives on the six-month anniversary of the RCMP launching a criminal probe of the $8.28-building Greenbelt land swap scandal comes as the Tories risk missing their target of 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

The government needs to build an average of 150,000 new homes annually to meet its goal.  110,000 were built in 2023,  73%  of what’s needed each year.

 

 

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Where do the people who want to get elected to serve the public come from?

By Pepper Parr

April 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington seems to have a pattern when it comes to electing their City Council.

They elect a council that has more than half as first term Councillors.  When it is time to re-elect four years later – the citizens tend to re-elect all of them.  When that second term ends – the boot out a majority.

Is this what we might be looking at in 2026?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward speaking at a public event.

We know this – the Mayor is in trouble – but she has close to two years to recover and she will need every month of it if she is to continue to wear the chain of office.

Four of the current council members are at least eyeing the Office of Mayor.  Both Stolte and Galbraith have talked openly about liking the idea of being the next Mayor.

We will talk about the merits of each at some other point.

Right now the question we have is – where do new candidates come from?

Is the city at the point where a group of people – six to eight would be an optimum size, gather and begin the search for new candidates.  They would not be running for office – but they would be tapping people on the shoulder and asking if they might be interested in running for office.

For some reason people wait until about 10 months before an election to begin to create a public profile; look for ways to let the public know who they are and what they think city council should be doing.

Municipal politics doesn’t run on political party lines.

Municipal budgets are much different than the budget process used in the corporate sector. Very few people fully understand the procedures; as a result there is no one to critique how the city is spending the money raised through taxes. The example from 2018.

Municipal government is complex – they are creating policy for a $500 million corporation that doesn’t follow the financial pattern of a corporation in the private sector.

Voters are not shareholders – every question has to be answered and every complaint responded to – quickly.

Municipalities cannot have a loss – they create reserve funds that are in place to cover those situations where the budgeted amount doesn’t cover the actual costs.

They do not a Profit/Loss statement nor is there a balance sheet.   The budget document in the past ten years has run in excess of 700 pages.

Probably the best candidate for public office at the municipal level would be someone at least 50 – that was an upper level manager – better yet a director who has come to realize that he or she is not going to be made a partner in a profession – legal, accounting.

They want something that is a little slower where the focus can be on serving people and not on being riveted to constant demands to increase revenue.

There are times when the demand is heavy but it isn’t heavy all the time.  Lots of time for family, six weeks off during the summer.  Great benefits and if you run for three terms you leave the scene with a 12 year pension that is very comfortable.

You want to learn to be able to give your constituents a polite no – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that.

Photo ops are the most cost effective way to get your name before the public and unfortunately those people who do bother to cast a ballot settle for a name and picture they have seen again and again.

The public would, we believe, want to hear from people who have ideas, experience and a desire to engage with the public.

Photo ops are the biggest tool used by members of Council. It is an opportunity to put their best foot forward. On this occasion Burlington is being awarded by the United Way Hamilton Halton.

This kind of person is out there.

Someone has to do the asking around.

It is a little like a congregation that is looking for a new pastor or minister.  They advertise – the city doesn’t do that – nor should they.  Finding the people that are interested in running for office is a citizen responsibility – city hall has to butt out and let the citizens work it out.

Burlington has to learn to take responsibility for who runs for office.

That process should have started by now.

 

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Burlington is #9 out of a list of 35 in rental rates

By Staff

April 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington finished 9th out of 35 cities in the rental increases list for the  month of March.

The average 1 bedroom rent was $2145, which was a -2.2% decrease month-over-month, and -1.6% decrease year-over-year, while the average 2 bedroom rent was $2589, which was a -0.1% decrease month-over-month, and a 1% increase year-over-year.

Is this good news?

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Those advertisements that were popping up on your computer monitor - we managed to get rid of them

By Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A little celebration and a deserved pat on the back for the people who take care of all that code in our Press Room.

The problem was in there some where.

For the past four to five weeks advertisements that we knew nothing about; advertisements that didn’t produce any revenue for us and advertisements that were so out of character with what we publish each day – were popping up.

It took weeks of scrubbing code, checking the various plug ins we use to determine who the ads were coming from – and why were they ending up in the pages of our newspaper.

Earlier today the miscreant was identified and sent to the place in the sky where bad code goes.

There were complaints – more than one and they were justified.  It took far longer than we expected to determine where the problem was and how it came to be.

That experience is behind us.

Your patience was appreciated

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Getting messy when people selected to serve on an agency board need governance and integrity advice.

By Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It started as a question.

Regarding agencies board and commissions and Integrity Commissioner advice? Would Counsellor Bentivegna like to speak to his motion?

Councillor Angelo Bentivegna gets caught up in a Performing Arts governance problem – mostly because he wasn’t kept informed on some of the decisions being made.

I’m not sure. Do I need to read it? No, I don’t need to but I would like to speak briefly about it. I guess learning from experience that sometimes when we’re on boards or different elements that we’re exposed to and not intentionally, you know, we vote on certain issues and again, with all good intentions, and sometimes we get to a situation where there’s an unintended consequences that occurs when we get to this horseshoe (Council Chamber) in terms of having to make a decision or a vote, whether it’s financial or otherwise.

All I’m asking here is for some clarity for us through the Integrity Commissioner so that the governance of what we’re doing is being properly  followed.  I guess that’s really what I’m hoping  – that we’re going to get support for this and I want to thank staff for helping me out on this and putting us on the right path.

Emilie Cote, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture represents the City on the Performing Arts Board.

Mayor Meed Ward commented: I really support the work that you’ve done Angelo to bring this forward. This has been an issue that has vexed us since, I started in 2010. And my only question would be, and maybe this is already contemplated, would be really for you, Emily, around would there be value in engaging a governance and independent governance person as well on these matters? I know some of the advice I’ve gotten from governance folks is very helpful. It is different than Integrity Commissioner – both are important. So it’s not an either or here and wondering if that is something that you will consult in and bringing back recommendations.

Cote responds:  Absolutely. So that’s the intent, to kind of marry the two together to get some advice from a governance expert and then have the Integrity Commissioner also speak to some of those recommendations.

They then voted on the Motion memorandum regarding agencies boards and commissions and Integrity Commissioner advice. The Motion was in the Agenda but never displayed during the meeting.

All those in favour and any opposed?  And that carries.

 

What in heaven’s name were they talking about?

There was a point at which Councillor Bentivegna represented the City on the Performing Arts Board.  His term was over and he was replaced by Emilie Cote who is the Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture.

This is the first time we recall a Staff member replacing an elected person on the Performing Arts Board.

The issue Cote had to deal with was the shake up taking place at Performing Arts where, for a period of time it didn’t appear that the organization had a functioning board.

Performing Arts Executive Director Tammy Fox

Performing Arts Executive Director Tammy Fox had explained to Council in November just what she was having to deal with.

Given that the city puts a significant amount of money into BPAC they wanted to get to the bottom of the issue and ordered that an independent consult be brought in, at BPAC expense, to put forward a series of recommendations.

That happened.

It was a thorough Governance Review that Council accepted and wanted to see put in place. This was all done on the QT.  No public involvement.

Then there was a call for new directors that closed February 16th.  No word yet on how that is working out.

Biggest free event festival in the country.

Executive Director Tammy Fox is busy making the Sound of Music part of the Performing Arts Centre even though there is no mention of that happening in the current Strategic Plan.

A decision to have the Performing Arts Centre as the presenter of the Sound of Music (SoM) and to invest some cash into the event is not small potatoes.

There are many really good reasons for aligning the SoM with the Performing Arts organization.  The biggest one being that the BPAC stages are not used all that much during the June SoM events.  Makes all the sense in the world to bring the two closer together.

Surely someone did a thorough risk analysis and ask all those pesky cost benefit questions.

Sound of Music Chair Steve Cusson with BPAC Executive Director Tammy Fox who is expected to make the SoM event an even bigger success

The Strategic Plan in place currently covers a period that ended in 2023.    The words Sound of Music don’t event appear in the current document.

One of the more immediate benefits is that Tammy Fox, the BPAC Executive Director knows the entertainment business better than anyone else in this city.  She is on a first name basis with anyone that matters.

Fox is reported to have said on November 16th, 2023 that substantial resources have been invested in updating the strategic plan, including the board’s best practices.

There is a full Board in place but there are no co-ordinates to reach any of them.

That is not a healthy situation – the people who make the decisions have to be available if transparency is to have any meaning.

Don’t blame this on the Executive Director – she has to work in what must be an awkward situation – not that she is ever going to say that.

 

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Just what has happened at City Hall and is there even more to come?

By Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mayor has had a busy past 30 days – and the hecticness is not over yet.

Hassaan Basit starts his new job on the 22nd. He is far from an unknown entity.

Comment has to be made on the claim that the new City Manager who moves into his office on the 22nd is the Mayor’s Sock Puppet.  People who make that kind of comment haven’t done their homework

The much anticipated April 16th Council meeting at which the Mayor committed to telling her colleagues what she would do in terms of sharing her Strong Mayor powers  may not be as exciting as many expected.  She set all that out in an Open Letter to Council members on Thursday.  One does wonder if the Mayor actually speaks to her colleagues on a one-one one basis.

Some comment has to be made on the toxic environment that front desk people have to work within. The reports are more than disturbing – this kind of rot tends to start at the top.

And, with all the political infighting one has to ask: What kind of a council will the citizens elected in 2026?  How many of the current Council members will choose to challenge Meed Ward?

All this will be in the Gazette – some today – more tomorrow.

 

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United Way Halton & Hamilton reaches historic $12.5 million target

By Staff

April 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

During last night’s Evening of Celebration, United Way Halton & Hamilton honoured community donors and partners following a fundraising campaign that raised $12,500,000.

This year’s fundraising campaign marked a historic milestone, with the largest amount ever raised for our community’s vital programs and initiatives.

The target was reached!

The atmosphere was electric at the Burlington Convention Centre, where over 600 attendees came together. Local leaders, labour partners, supportive organizations, and dedicated non-profit agencies from across Halton and Hamilton celebrated growing together to support the community as this year’s fundraising campaign came to a close.

In its first year, the Local Love Community Match helped propel the incredible generosity of the Halton & Hamilton community. For every $4 donated to this year’s campaign, an additional $1 was matched by supportive community members and organizations. This collaboration helped to increase support for vital programs aimed at improving lives and strengthening our communities.

“I’m truly amazed by the overwhelming generosity of our community this year. With the most vulnerable among us facing immense challenges, these funds will play a crucial role in supporting critical programs,” remarked Brad Park, President and CEO of United Way Halton & Hamilton. “The unwavering support we’ve received from our donors is incredibly inspiring, particularly during these challenging times for nonprofits. We are deeply grateful for their care and commitment to making a positive impact in our community.”

The night’s virtual event was hosted by Chris Mai, former Weather Network personality and current media teacher, with an appearance by Matt Wickham, Senior Vice President, Sales and Operations at Cogeco and United Way Halton & Hamilton’s 2023-2024 Campaign Cabinet Chair.

Claude DeMone, Regional President, Southwestern Ontario, RBC

The incoming Cabinet Chair for next year’s campaign was also announced at the event. Claude DeMone, Regional President, Southwestern Ontario, RBC, was thrilled to share his excitement for helping lead next year’s campaign.

“Our community showed up in a big way, helping us reach a historic fundraising milestone. With last year’s assistance to over 143,000 individuals, we’re highly motivated to extend our reach even further. Despite a 68% increase in demand for social services programs, and over 50% of agencies having wait lists, we’re hopeful these funds will help increase critical support to those who need it the most,” said Park.

Throughout the evening, United Way presented the Step Up for the Community Award, The Game Changer Award, Leading the Way Award, Champions of Change Award, Inspiring Local Love Award, the Labour of Love Award and the Leading the Way in Philanthropy Award, in recognition of the profound influence of this community’s generosity over the past year.

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That pledge city council unanimously agreed to is now seen by some as a mistake

By Pepper Parr

 April 11th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Who’s counting and why are they getting different totals.

The counting got serious when Burlington signed the pledge.

When they agreed to build 29,000 housing units by 2031 Mayor Meed Ward got Strong Mayor powers which she promptly used to wring the necks of most of her council members.

That part was easy – the majority of this council are just not in the same category as Meed Ward when it comes to strategic thinking.  For the Mayor the strategy is to have the biggest basket and keep all the eggs in that basket,

Mayor Meed Ward needs a math upgrade: 29,000 divided by seven does not equal 2,900

Earlier today she explained that in order to have the 29,000 units by 2031 – would mean 2,900 units each year.  How did she arrive at that number?  This is 2024 – 2031 is seven years away – 2900 a year will not get us there.

As to counting – well what counts.  Is it when a building permit is issued?  Having a permit in hand does not mean there will eventually be a home.

Maybe it counts when the developer’s contractor starts building.  That sounds like a good way to count.

But it’s not the way CMHC counts and because they are one of the biggest players in the housing game the way they count really matters.

The number of units in this high rise at Pearl and LAkeshore will not count until construction has reached grade.

Turns out the fact that matters for CMHC is when the development reaches grade.  When a single family dwelling or a four story apartment is being built grade is reached quite quickly.

When a 30 story tower is being built grade isn’t reached until anything between four and seven of underground parking is completed – then construction is at grade.

Complex.

At the Pipeline to Permit monthly meeting today the Information Technology people released the data report.

Most recent Pipeline to Permit data

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Low Pressure System will bring Widespread Rain across Southern Ontario starting Overnight Tonight

By Staff

April 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Conservation Halton advises that Environment Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Surface Water Monitoring Centre (SWMC) are forecasting that a low pressure system will bring widespread rain across southern Ontario starting overnight tonight and ending Saturday morning. Currently, forecasts indicate that 25-45 mm of rain is expected, with higher local amounts associated with thunderstorms possible on Thursday afternoon and evening. The anticipated rainfall combined with increased runoff from wet soil conditions will likely result in elevated water levels in rivers and streams within our jurisdiction.

Widespread flooding is not anticipated, however, fast flowing water and flooding of low-lying areas, natural floodplains, and areas with poor drainage may be expected.

Heavy rain pushes creek banks beyond their capacity.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to keep a safe distance from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts, and dams.  Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and cold water temperatures combined with slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue an update to this Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety message as conditions warrant.

This Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety will be in effect through Saturday April 13, 2024.

For further information or questions regarding this message contact:

Ben O’Reilly, Flood Duty Officer, Engineering

T: 905-336-1158 ext. 2258

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Is Mayor Meed Ward feeling the heat and talking about a reset of the Strong Mayor powers - looks that way

By Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Mayor Meed Ward had several opportunities to speak to City Council when they met for most of Monday and Tuesday of this week.

She appears to have taken a pass on that opportunity and decided instead to write an Open Letter.

It is all there, for you to read.  Nothing has changed, but that is an opinion you should reach on your own. The complete OPEN LETTER can be reached HERE

The question we have for the Mayor is:

Have you met individually and personally with the four members of Council that are, to date, rock hard in their view that they want you to relinquish some of the Strong Mayor powers you hold. In the news letters that members of Council send out none, other than ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, have made public comments on what you have done.

In your Open letter you point out that:

Of the 44 municipalities that have received the additional powers and duties under the legislation, 12 Mayors delegated all duties that could be delegated, 16 delegated none of the duties, and 16 delegated some of them.

I read that information, that you made public, to mean that most municipalities have shared the Strong Mayor powers.

Your colleagues are waiting to hear what you have to say at the scheduled April 16th meeting of City Council.

Use the word “reset”.  I can hardly wait to learn just what you mean by that.

That you chose to send the Open Letter suggests you are feeling the heat.

I see that as a good sign.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

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