The cheque was in the mail – but it was a miserable $275,293. Small potatoes; could have raised more through bingo games..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON, June 17, 2011 – The cheque was in the mail but it was pretty small ($257,000) and represents less than the interest earned on the money the city of Burlington has set aside for the hospital.

Health is a provincial responsibility but this provincial government has let the hospitals know that some of the money needed to keep hospitals operational and able to handle the growing number of people who now need and will need health services in the future as our population ages.

The JBMH expects to get quite a bit more money from the provincial government which when added to what the city of Burlington has already set aside will result in more parking space and additional operating rooms.

The JBMH expects to get quite a bit more money from the provincial government which when added to what the city of Burlington has already set aside will result in more parking space and additional operating rooms.

Burlington currently has $3,668,88.001 the JBMH reserve fund at the end of December 2010 with an additional $1.2 million going in during 2011 – which will take the total to $4,886,881.00

Last year the city of Burlington did much better than it expected on its investments which resulted in a surplus for the 2010 fiscal year. If the managed to earn as much as 5% on their cash investment (not likely – but w dream can’t we?) the interest Burlington will earn on the funds it has in its reserve fund would be greater than what the province has sent our way.

The money the city has set aside came from: $1.2 million from the 2009 surplus, $1.2 million from 2010 property taxes, $1.2 million from the 2010 surplus and $1.2 million is being levied in 2011 property taxes.

There is a provincial election on the horizon and one of the questions you will want to ask the candidates (Karmel Sakran for the Liberals and it looks like Peggy Russell for the NDP and Brian Heagle who is certainly hoping that his hat is the only one in the ring when the Progressive Conservatives eventually get around to calling a nomination meeting.)

Karmel Sakran has served on a number of hospital boards and committees and is certainly well aware of what the hospital is up against in terms of funding. Would he be an independent enough member of the Legislature to fight his party for the betterment of the community or will he toe the party line?

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital has had its share of problems in the recent past and it needs to upgrade its facilities and expand the operation.

This measly little amount from the province is being “provided for a variety of structural upgrades” – whatever that means. – as well as “improvements to comply with health and safety standards”. JBMH might choose to invest in barrels of soap to avoid another c-difficile outbreak.

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Be careful what you ask for – you just might get it. Ask the good folks on Holtby and Crosby how that works out.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 17, 2011 – Holtby and Crosby Streets run south from Caroline down to New Street. They were built about 50 years ago and had never had any re-surfacing or upgrades done and they were in pretty rough shape. Years of complaining and the city finally got around to putting these two streets on the list and work was scheduled for the spring. More than $900,000 was budgeted fir the work.

Getting in and out of the driveway when the street is under construction is a challenge.  Holtby residents struggle with this one.

Getting in and out of the driveway when the street is under construction is a challenge. Holtby residents struggle with this one.

And now the work is getting done. And the good people of Holtby are basically landlocked. They can’t get their cars into the driveways and walking down the street is a bit of a challenge. But they will soon have a nice new shiny road. Your tax dollars are at work.

For those on Crosby Street – you’re next.

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White construction helmet instead of a tiara and pink work boots – Burlington Beauty Queen graduates

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 15, 2011 – Alton, a neighbourhood in the upper east part of the remaining developable lands in Burlington where a number of construction projects are underway, was the site of a sod turning ceremony with Mayor Rick Goldring and the Ward council member for that part of town, Blair Lancaster on hand to dig a little dirt.

Construction crews can now get onto the sit and begin shaoing it as a soccer field and a play area with plenty of shade trees and parking.

Construction crews can now get onto the sit and begin shaoing it as a soccer field and a play area with plenty of shade trees and parking.

The site that construction crews were finally able to get to into now that the sun is drying up the fields will be home to a soccer field a playing field with plenty of parking spaces and some housing along one edge.

The street leading into the soccer field, Palladium Way is separated by a stretch of employment lands, that have yet to be developed, and the 407 on the north with the project itself east off Walkers Line and north of Dundas. Residents in the area have been waiting for the soccer fields to get built and if the weather holds those fields should be accessible well before the kids are back in school.

Always making a fashion statement – the pink boots Councillor Lancaster wears on a construction site turn an eye just as well as the tiara did.

Always making a fashion statement – the pink boots Councillor Lancaster wears on a construction site turn an eye just as well as the tiara did.

These “ceremonial events” are pretty hum drum but if you pay attention there is usually something that can be picked up for what the politicians call the “photo op”. In this situation the photographer from “another news source that get published in Burlington” wanted to frame people in front of a large crane. Here is their intrepid photographer in action.

Becky Ellis, a city landscaping technician was on hand to show the Mayor and the Council member around the site which has houses within a very short distance allowing parents to wander over to the park and playfield where there children are.

What was missed and so typical of what Councilor Lancaster does(she does have a sense of fashion) were the pink construction boots she wore on the site.

The neighbour hood is going through significant growth – a storey we will tell you about later in the month.

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Salt with pepper – Noblesse oblige has yet to settle on the shoulders of Meed Ward.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 13, 2011 It was a particularly graceless s remark, made by a Council member filling in as deputy for the Mayor while he was out of town meeting with officials in Portland Oregon.

When the Mayor is away a member of Council serves as the deputy for the Mayor. Last week Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was filling in for Mayor Goldring at a Senior Citizens event that had an official from the Bank of Canada teaching seniors how to detect counterfeit money.

Meed Ward arrived a bit early and mingled with people she recognized and “worked the room”. The afternoon meeting was brought to order and Meed Ward approached the lectern to say a few words – which she did. She explained that the Mayor could not be with them that afternoon – but didn’t say a word as to why the Mayor was not able to be on hand. She left the distinct impression that the Mayor didn’t have time for this group when there was an opportunity for Meed Ward to say a few words about where the Mayor was and what he was doing.

Meed Ward works the room and listens to the qualms and concerns of a senior citizen.

Meed Ward works the room and listens to the qualms and concerns of a senior citizen.

She could have referred to the messages the Mayor had sent to Facebook friends, which Mayor Goldring sent every day he was away and which Meed Ward logs into at least once every day and leaves a message of her own. She is the most effusive Facebook user on Council.

There was an opportunity for this Council member to tell the room of senior citizens where the Mayor was, what he was doing and how his trip to Portland could impact the lives they lived.

But Meed Ward chose to let the opportunity pass. More than one Council member has commented on the difficulty they have with Meed Ward and her tendency to carve out her own path through the jungle of municipal affairs. She is the boldest member of this Council and has brought about, and no doubt will continue to bring about, good changes. Her work on getting the Planning department to come up with better scheduling of community meetings so that citizens have enough time to consider development reports and the fuss she made over the Section 37 agreements the city gets into are all more than applaudable.

But grace and a sense of sharing the load with her fellow Council members has so far eluded Marianne Meed Ward. Her inability, so far, to engage her fellow Council members is regrettable.

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A packed convention centre and pom pom girls to fete the biggest cheerleader of them all.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 9, 2010 – It was a Celebration and all the people who do business in this town were on hand to recognize a member of their community who got out of high school because he cut a deal with his principal and went to create a trucking company with a name everyone recognizes –”If it’s on time it’s a Fluke” and a whistle that is blown in more than 100 countries around the world.

This was Ron Foxcroft’s night and he reveled in every minute of it and said Thank You to those who helped him get to where he is as often as he mentioned the Fox40.

Mayor Rick Goldring and his wife lead the procession into the convention hall followed by Ron Foxcroft, 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year and his wife Marie.

Mayor Rick Goldring and his wife lead the procession into the convention hall followed by Ron Foxcroft, 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year and his wife Marie.

The room was packed: 572+ people were in the room to honour Foxcroft as the Burlington Entrepreneur of the Year and install him in the Burlington Entrepreneurial Hall of fame.

All the movers and shakers were on hand. Members of Council, former Lt Governor Lincoln Alexander, who is looking pretty good. Can Jackson made one of his first public appearances since the election and was in fine form.

Connie Smith – The CHCH Good News Girl – who let everyone know she was a graduate of Nelson High, MC’d the event. Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League was on hand and Angelo Mosca made the evening a true sports evening.

Marie, wife of the guest of honour was there along with their three sons.

A piper brought the dignitaries into the hall and Connie Smith even got some in the audience to toast the Queen. Thought that went out in the 50’s but then maybe Connie is a 50’s kind of gal.

Everyone in the room had a Fox40 whistle beside their cutlery. You can imagine what kind of an evening it was.

Someone should tell Foxcroft that the 500 whistles given away don’t counts as sales; he has a tendency to stretch a number just a wee bit.

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He now sits in two Halls of Fame and will still blow the whistle on anyone who doesn’t get it right.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 9, 2011 – You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy, which is part of the reason Ron Foxcroft will be recognized as the Burlington Entrepreneur of the Year Thursday evening. Foxcroft tells people he lives in Aldershot – it’s where he parks his Mercedes at night.

Foxcroft will join Michael Lee Chin, Harry Voortman, Mark Chamberlain, Michael deGroote Sr., Ron Joyce and Murray Hogarth, previously recognized entrepreneurs who built their organizations from a small idea into a substantial organizations that employ hundreds of people.

Millions sold in more than 100 countries.  The Fox40, a Canadian product that dominates its market worldwide – made in Canada as well.

Millions sold in more than 100 countries. The Fox40, a Canadian product that dominates its market worldwide – made in Canada as well.

The now near legendary tale of the 1984 pre-Olympic basket ball game in Sao Paulo Brazil when the pea in the whistle he was using as referee got stuck and he wasn’t able to make a call and the fans rioted. Foxcroft, who makes decisions as fast as you can turn a dime, resolved to make a whistle without a pea in it and found a designer who would take on the task. Three years and $150,000 later ( which he didn’t have at the time) and there were two prototypes. Chuck Sheppard stuck with him and today that whistle is sold in more than 100 countries. They manufacture 40,000 of the whistles in a day

When the prototypes were ready Foxcroft and his wife Marie, who counts the cash for the company, traveled across the country to sell the whistle. Two months later – and zappo, not a single sale. “Marie told me I had the two most expensive whistles in the world – $75,000 apiece.

Foxcroft is no fool though – he knew the whistle was what the sports community needed and decided to catch the ear of the guys who would actually use the thing and attended a convention of sports referees – slipped into the hallway at two in the morning and walked around just blowing the whistle. Angry faces popped out of doors and Foxcroft had there attention and sales bean rolling in. There was no looking back after that stunt and today the whistled is used by not only sports people but by the US Coast Guard and numerous other organizations. You see the things in small water craft everywhere – legally every boat on the water is supposed to have a whistle.

It has become the whistle of choice for the world’s pro-sports leagues and minor league officials alike. Why is it called the Fox40? “I was 40 years old when the whistle was made.”

It is used by the NHL, NBA, NFL, CFL, NCAA, FIFA, and FINA. Because its effectiveness is not altered by water, it has been endorsed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Life Saving Society of Canada, American Red Cross, NATO forces, and many more organizations.

Being a basketball referee was a full time job for Ron and that allowed him to get into other businesses without needing to take an income from the companies he was building. But serving as a basketball referee meant 35 years of being away from home far too many Saturday nights. You pay a price for that kind of thing.

He bought Fluke Transportation from the Fluke brothers (actually he conned them into selling to him because he knew they wanted out of the business) and because he didn’t have any money they took back a mortgage on the rolling stock, which at the time was three trucks. He guaranteed Bobbie Fluke a job for life and was now in the transportation business where he drove the tractors, loaded the trucks and made sales calls.

Foxcroft bought the rolling stock and also bought the name of the company which he turned into one of the best known corporate logos in the business: If it’s on time, it’s a Fluke. The best sale Foxcroft ever made was on the telephone on the Friday of a holiday weekend. The caller needed 30 trucks at a location Tuesday morning, explained Foxcroft, and wondered if I had any equipment. “I asked how many trucks they needed and they said 30 and I said where do you want them.” Foxcroft didn’t have 30 trucks but he had chutzpah and he had friends in the trucking business. That call from Proctor and Gamble 30 years ago paid off – they are still a client today.

Shortly after he bought the truck fleet from Newman Steel – again with no money. “Benny Newman wanted out of the trucking business so I bought his 20 trucks and he gave me a contract to cart steel for him. The revenue from the steel hauling covered the mortgage payments.” A classical Foxcroft purchase. What made it work was his commitment to never fail and his drive to keep his customers.

Foxcroft does client relationships like few others. The art of the deal – not the slick deal but the kind of deal where the solutions aren’t all that obvious. And THAT may be why Foxcroft is gong to be honoured Thursday evening because it was Christmas Eve of 2010 that Foxcroft called together a group of people to talk about the Hamilton Tiger Cats moving to Aldershot. Foxcroft knew all the players and he was prepared to not only referee but have some skin in the game as well. Time was of the essence and so the Christmas Eve call was made and the Paletta’s, our newly minted Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and the people from the Tiger Cats gathered “right in this room – Pat Paletta sat right there”, said Foxcroft as he slapped his hand on the small boardroom table “and we ironed out the basics.”

There was a lot of skepticism about the deal at the time and the deadlines didn’t help but the idea that a massive sports complex could have been built doesn’t look as far fetched today when we see an NHL team going to Winnipeg and even the league mumbles about a second team in the GTA market. Foxcroft will tell you that it was a missed opportunity and that the decision to stay in Hamilton was a dumb business decision.

He might be impulsive but he knows what he’s doing when he lines up a shot.

He might be impulsive but he knows what he’s doing when he lines up a shot.

Foxcroft’s entry into the world of business and his ability to get faced to face with the people that run the Fortune 500 companies comes through his being a basketball referee. No one wanted him to referee anything but they did want tickets to games and that Foxcroft was able to deliver on

This is a guy who failed high school and went on to buy a business with a couple of dimes in his pocket. He is one of those self made entrepreneurs who learned to let people who know what their doing run a company – he doesn’t have to micro-manage today but you kind of know when it “hits the fan” Foxcroft is one of the first people in the room cleaning up

Foxcroft proudly tells you that the whistle was invented in Canada and is made in Canada and then asks: “How many companies can you name that dominate their field world wide, not many” he tells you. But the Fox40 dominates its field. Having a patent on the product sort of keeps others away.

Getting to where he is today was not an easy road. A driven man who knew he was on to something good – Foxcroft couldn’t keep his hands off the trucking company and he micro managed like crazy until he realized there was a problem and that it was him.

That was the day he began to very difficult transition that many entrepreneurs fail to get through –letting the dream go and allowing others with different skills take the helm. Foxcroft made the transition. He learned to hire people who “were smarter than I am and then give them the room to do what they were trained to do.”

Foxcroft was the first, last and only Canadian to referee in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA). They don’t give out work permits for Canadians anymore he tells you. What he doesn’t tell people is that in 1999 he was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Foxcroft learned that people do take advantage. “Some people mistake fairness as weakness. Good relationships, or even great relationships, can turn sour, and you must provide for it in your plans. I am very cautious, but not to the detriment of a good deal. I learned that I was a very impatient person that needed to learn not to be impulsive.”

He can sink a ball and he can chase a ball.  And if you’d like to see how he does it – pay him a visit at his Stoney Creek office where he will play a quick game with you on the small court on the ground floor.

He can sink a ball and he can chase a ball. And if you’d like to see how he does it – pay him a visit at his Stoney Creek office where he will play a quick game with you on the small court on the ground floor.

The Foxcroft group of companies use all the technology that is available to modern business organizations. “We can track everything, we know what has been sold and we know our costs down to the dime – that all part of doing business but what I regret” said Foxcroft “is that we are losing the art of communicating. Email is fine but it isn’t communicating. We need to put more emphasis on people to people communications skills.”

And that is what you can expect to hear from Ron Foxcroft when he stands before his peers at the Burlington Convention Centre and gets placed into the Burlington Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. “This ain’t about me” Foxcroft will tell you; “this is an evening to tell young entrepreneurs never to give up on the dream and to be who you are while you build great corporations.”

Today Foxcroft is still impulsive – but cautiously impulsive. He will jump into an idea if he thinks it has a chance – if an attempt to bring the Tiger Cats to Aldershot wasn’t impulsive then nothing is. He runs Foxcroft International, the whistle business from an office in Stoney creek; Foxcroft Capital is run out of an office in east Burlington and Fluke Transportation out of an office in Hamilton.

Ask Foxcroft why he still pushes and why he even bothered to get into business and he will tell you openly: “It was hunger and fear.” The days of fear and hunger are gone but for Foxcroft it’s the challenge and “I’m having fun. The day I stop having fun, someone else will be at this desk”. Sounds like a pretty good exit strategy but don’t expect that to happen tomorrow.

 

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Mayor improves his photography skills while telling the world how great Burlington is.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 7, 2011 – Give a kid a camera and you just never know what they will click away at.

Our Mayor got himself and his Missus a few days of R&R and set aside a few days for a stop over in Portland Oregon, – on his own dime by the way.

Mayor Goldring appears to like the look of those LRT cars used in Portland.  Would he run the things from the Burlington Mall to the Mapleview Mall?

Mayor Goldring appears to like the look of those LRT cars used in Portland. Would he run the things from the Burlington Mall to the Mapleview Mall?

He is meeting with some of the pooh bahs in Portland and as they showed him around town he just clicked away. Here is what he thought we would be interested.

Transit has been an issue with city council and will become much more so as we go forward – even though some of the Mayor’s colleagues are
not on the same page as he is when it comes to who uses the transit we have, our Mayor wants us to know he is a very progressive thinker and popped us a picture of the rapid transit in Portland.

While Portland is fine city Burlington can most certainly hold its own. The mayor snapped a picture of a garden in Portland – pales in comparison to our Royal Botanical Gardens.

This Portland Park is small potatoes when compared with out RBG.

This Portland Park is small potatoes when compared with out RBG.

 

Well it might go somewhere on Brant Street – I suppose but we could import totem polls that would be more authentic.

Well it might go somewhere on Brant Street – I suppose but we could import totem polls that would be more authentic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the street art in Portland ? Well, the Mayor should have snapped his Blackberry into over drive and flashed the pictures of our bicycle stands. We are miles ahead of those guys.

Our Mayor will learn a lot and we hope that he uses his time with those folks in Portland to let them know that Burlington is doing.

Amongst the pictures was one of the Rogers Centre in Vancouver. Did the Mayor score a pair of hockey tickets and manage to take in the game. That would have been a feat. We await his return to get the lowdown on our Mayor’s first venture outside the province. Tickets to a Stanley Cup game, we are impressed.

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Your chance to use pictures to tell the city what you think. No prizes – but the picture could get used online

By Staff

Burlington, ON June 6, 2011 Do you like taking photos?  Do you think Burlington is a great place to live, work, and play?  Show us what makes Burlington great with your photos.

The city wants every idea anyone has about what it should look like in the next 20 to 25 years and is currently working up a strategic plan to get us through the next three and a half years of that long term vision.

Residents have been a bit less than forthcoming with ideas – other than the same old, same old from places like the Chamber of Commerce. So they are going to try a slightly different angle and ask people to send in photographs of what they think their city should look like. Have you taken picture that equals the thousand words that sum up what Burlington is to you? Send it in.

As part of the development of the city’s new strategic plan, Burlington, Our Future, the city is inviting you to take photos demonstrating your vision for Burlington – now and in the future.  This strategic plan will be used by city council as it makes decisions that will shape our city over the next four years.  By submitting an entry, your photos may be used in an online photo gallery or in the city’s various publications.

Anyone living or working in Burlington may submit their photo(s). Submissions will be accepted until Thursday, June 30, 2011.

When making a submission to the What Makes Burlington Great? Online Photo Gallery please include: a photo, a completed Photo Gallery Submission Form with your name and e-mail address as well as a title for and a description of your photo.

Please visit www.burlington.ca/ourfuture, for more information on the What Makes Burlington Great? Online Photo Gallery.

There is a photograph that speaks to us at Our Burlington. As you drive north on Guelph Line – and you’re coming over the hump that crosses the QEW you can see it on the horizon. Get to Guelph Line and Palmer Drive and there it is in all its glory – this massive Canadian flag flying outside the Fortino’s store.

For us – it doesn’t get better than this. We’re going to submit this picture. What have you got?

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Are they waiting for a dog they can tie a blue ribbon on and expect it to win? Worse things have happened in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 7, 2011 – We all know there is going to be a provincial election October 6th. We all know that Joyce Savoline is going to ride off into her sunset and enjoy retirement.

We know too that Rene Papin chose to fall on his sword and withdraw as a candidate seeking the nomination from the Provincial Progressive Conservative Constituency Association and by now everyone knows that Brian Heagle is out there shaking hands and talking to anyone who even looks like a Conservative, which for Heagle is a bit of a challenge because he has so many friends who fully expected him to be the Liberal candidate in the provincial election.

He said he was interested but changed his mind and withdrew his name.  Even had signs made up

He said he was interested but changed his mind and withdrew his name. Even had signs made up

Papin really wanted the nomination but the party apparently didn’t want him and he reluctantly withdrew.

Papin really wanted the nomination but the party apparently didn’t want him and he reluctantly withdrew.

 

 

 

 

The provincial legislature has shut down until the election results come in the evening of the 6th of October and we now have the party leaders running hither and yon across the province casting aspersions on one another. Of the 103 constituencies in Ontario the Progressive Conservatives have nominated in all but 12 – Burlington, thought to be a riding that could be won by a dog with a blue ribbon tied around its neck, is one of the dozen that has not yet nominated.

Brian Heagle wants the nomination but the party isn’t at all sure they want him

Brian Heagle wants the nomination but the party isn’t at all sure they want him

The Association clearly isn’t all that keen on Heagle, who will tell you he doesn’t know why they nomination meeting hasn’t been held, but it isn’t his job to call the meeting. All Heagle wants to do is know when the event is going to be held and show up to make his pitch to the full membership.

The Progressive Conservatives don’t have all that much in the way of a campaign organization in place – so whoever wins the nomination is going to have to pull together a new team and then get out on the street.

The Premier, he being Dalton McGuinty, pulled a bit of a fast one, when he shut down the legislature a day earlier than anyone expected thus taking away the opportunity Tim Hudak, the leader of the opposition had of making any last minute statements in the legislature.

Progressive Conservatives have always done wonderfully well in Burlington provincially. George Kerr served as the provincial member from 1963 to 1985 and was followed by Can Jackson who served from 1985 to 1999. Both men left the provincial government under a bit of a cloud. Kerr for making a telephone call to a Crown Prosecutor and Jackson who was basically asked to leave the Cabinet.

Kerr had two run ins with ethical matters. During the first of the two he temporarily resigned from cabinet on February 21, 1975, after allegations that he had solicited and received money from a man involved in a harbour scandal in Hamilton. Kerr protested his innocence, but argued that he could not function as the province’s Solicitor-General while the matter was unresolved. A subsequent investigation found no grounds to warrant charges against Kerr, and he was briefly returned to cabinet before leaving again on July 18, of the same year.

Election ploys were different in ’75 (but then so were the cars) Kerr took to the waters of Burlington Bay to prove how safe they were for swimming.

Election ploys were different in ’75 (but then so were the cars) Kerr took to the waters of Burlington Bay to prove how safe they were for swimming.

He resigned a second time as Solicitor-General after he made a telephone call to an assistant crown attorney on behalf of a constituent who was facing trial for driving while his license was suspended. The call quickly became public and Kerr resigned from cabinet on Sept. 9, 1978.

Burlington was forgiving and Kerr was re-elected in the 1981 provincial election, and served as a government backbencher for the next four years. He retired from the legislature in 1985.

Kerr’s problems with ethical issues didn’t stop Cam Jackson from going after the provincial seat which he won handily in 1985 and held every year through to 1999 when he left provincial politics very suddenly after being asked to leave Cabinet. The paparazzi staked out Jackson’s home for several days when he went to ground and wasn’t seen for three weeks.

Always mercurial Jackson was a winner at the provincial level.  His luck didn’t hold out second time around at the municipal level.

Always mercurial Jackson was a winner at the provincial level. His luck didn’t hold out second time around at the municipal level.

Jackson has always been a bit of mercurial candidate for the citizens of Burlington. Never lost an election but came uncomfortably close when he won by just 605 votes in 1987, then rose from those ashes to take more than 70% of the popular vote in 1995.

He was forced to resign on October 2, 2002 due to a controversy over his practice of billing the government for steak dinners and hotel stays. Jackson did not appear in public for weeks and there was speculation that he would not run for re-election. Jackson was fully exonerated of all allegations before the next election, and did retain his riding in the 2003 election (albeit with a greatly reduced majority) while dozens of other Tory MPPs lost their seats.

His first loss, while running for a second term as Mayor of Burlington was very hard; Jackson came in third behind two former members of city Council who chose to run against him after just the one term as Mayor.

Colourful backgrounds, is it something in the water we draw from the lake ?

Joyce Savoline ran a clean office but wasn’t seen as someone who did all that much for the city. She was reputed to be less than moved by the current Leader of the Opposition, Tim Hudak and chose to announce her plans to retire well in advance and give the party plenty of time to find a strong candidate. Savoline didn’t do all that well against Marianne Meed Ward in 2007. Meed Ward, running as a Liberal, lost the election but not by that much – 19,693 to Savoline’s 21,517 votes.

That closer than usual result for the provincial Liberals in 2007 has led them to believe they have a shot at winning the seat this time around.

For a very short period of time there were two candidates for the Liberal nomination but that got pared down to one with Karmel Sakran now out there campaigning. The Liberals have had a bit of a jump on the PC’s, but they don’t appear to be putting that small advantage to much use. They have yet to name a campaign organizer but at least they have a candidate who just might be enough of a conservative to make the difference.

As for the Progressive Conservatives – So far they’ve not even managed to call a nomination meeting. Trouble in paradise?

 

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Access to the waterfront? Not everything you might think it is – even via city street road allowances.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 6, 2011 Finally, the Waterfront Advisory Committee has done something, and something useful we might add.

Access being a part of their operational name – it was useful to wonder just how much access the average citizen has to the lake at end of road allowances owned by the city. Easy answer to that one – city owns the road allowance so you can walk down that allowance to the lakefront – you’d think. Well not so fast.

Me and the missus was out for a walk the other evening – picked up an ice cream that we didn’t really need and now had to walk it off. Strolling along the lake front and we cane across a spot that was really lovely spot and were about to walk down to the water’s edge and the missus says we can’t go there – it’s private property. I didn’t think it was private property but the missus did and so we just gazed and walked on.

Which raised the question in my mind – where can you walk to the waters edge? The Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee has asked the same question and they prevailed upon Bob Peachey, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces for some guidance. Peachey made a presentation to the Advisory group and that set three members of the committee, Graham Richards, Brian Jones and Les Armstrong, out on a field trip. Some interesting results. Do read on.

Appleby road allowance lets citizens enjoy the view.

Appleby road allowance lets citizens enjoy the view.

At Appleby Line they found a nicely set bench with a good view out over the lake. A trash container and street lighting made it a safe place to relax as dusk turns to darkness on a summer evening. The trio thought some signage “Window on the Lake” that one sees along North Shore Road would have been helpful.

The Walkers line road allowance, while not quite as nice as Appleby Line is was still a place you could sit and relax.

Walkers Line road allowance gives people access to the lakes edge

Walkers Line road allowance gives people access to the lakes edge

When the trio got to Fruitland Road the situation wasn’t as good – and there was the suggestion that a property owner might be encroaching on the public land. Won’t know for sure until the construction is completed but right now the contractors are using the right of way to store construction material and the guard rail to be installed is sitting on the ground. No problem with that – contractors need a little leeway from time to time.

Lakeland Crescent was just as nice as Walkers and Appleby Line. But that for the trio was where the good news ended. Set out below is the map Peachey used as part of his February presentation to the Waterfront Advisory Committee showing city property between Nelson Park and Green Street.

There is a sneaky situation at the bottom of St. Paul Street where a large boulder with a street number leaves the impression it is private property. The trio points out that the “road allowance at St. Paul has been completely taken over by the home owner at the end of the street”. They go on to say that: “The home owner has installed a large rock in the very middle of the right of way which would certainly curtail the public from venturing on to what is perceived to be private property.” The missus and me certainly saw it that way when we were out on our walk.

How would you see that boulder blocking the way? Would YOU walk to the lake's edge.

How would you see that boulder blocking the way? Would YOU walk to the lake's edge.

We didn't, which is what the property owners wanted us to do. City is being asked to clarify the encroachment policy.

We didn't, which is what the property owners wanted us to do. City is being asked to clarify the encroachment policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets even worse at Water Street. According to the trio the home owner has blocked access to the Water Street parcel from St. Paul Street. Can we expect the people responsible for Open Spaces to rectify this one? What will the city’s legal department have to say? We will keep you posted?

Market Street leaves quite a bit to be desired as well. The trio says that “the end of Market Street is not quite as bad as St. Paul but, there are no facilities pr encouragement to entice the public to this property. A city map indicated that there should be access to the Water Street parcel from the end of Market Street. This has been completely blocked by the home owners fencing.

 

 

 

 

Allview Avenue is an opportunity waiting to be developed. The installation of a couple of benches and trash containers will make this a nice spot for a rest.

End of Allview Avenue road allowance offers a great view over the lake. Time for some benches.

End of Allview Avenue road allowance offers a great view over the lake. Time for some benches.

 

The road end at Stillwater Crescent is an interesting situation. The road allowance is barricaded before it turns right into North Shore – means no one can walk along to the actual waterfront.

The Road allowance at the end of King Road was an interesting one for the trio. As the trio walked down the right of way on King Road to the Bay the home owner challenged the committee as to what they were doing on his private property. The trio, Graham Richards, Brian Jones and Les Armstrong indicated they thought it was public land, a road allowance at which point, according to the trio, the home owner changed his story and said he leased the right of way from the city. The trio reports that 616 North Shore Road does indeed have a long term lease on the road allowance.” How did he get that?

Home owner at 616 North Shore Road first claims he owns the property then fesses up and says he has a long term lease.

Home owner at 616 North Shore Road first claims he owns the property then fesses up and says he has a long term lease.

 

Belhaven Crescent right of way although not marked is well known and used by local people as a link to the waterfront trail along the edge of LaSalle Park.

Powder Magazine Road has no facilities with weeds the completely cut off the view of the water.. Get benches in place before someone comes asking for a long term lease.

Other than inviting former Toronto Mayor David Crombie to a meeting at which he actually fired up the committee, this is the first really solid result to come out of the Waterfront Advisory. Let’s see what they do with the information they came back with. The least should be a report to the appropriate city council committee with some strong recommendations. Good work guys.

No more long term leases for one and as the trio suggest: “Clarify the policy on encroachment”. Do we have a council member who just might be a little out of line in terms of encroachment?

Are we looking at a situation where people who can afford waterfront property deliberately encroach on city owned road allowances while the city turns a blind eye and lets people of means take advantage of their connections at city hall?

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Mayor packs his bags. He and the Misses doing a little R&R and working for the people while he is at it.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 6, 2011 – Travel broadens the mind, gives the traveler a different perspective and often results in the traveler bringing home new ideas and different approaches to problems. And maybe a T shirt or two as souvenirs

Not exactly Mt Nemo is it?  Part of the geography our Mayor is going to take in during his two day visit to Portland Oregon.

Not exactly Mt Nemo is it? Part of the geography our Mayor is going to take in during his two day visit to Portland Oregon.

Thus it is that Mayor Rick Goldring will visit Portland, Oregon while he is on vacation and attending a family wedding. And no, the travel to and from the wedding is not an expense the city is picking up – Goldring is making the stop over in Portland on his own dime except perhaps for some entertainment and hotel accommodation the two days he is in Portland.

Why Portland? Well the Mayor spends a lot of time on the internet, researching and learning what other cities are doing and he found a lot of similarities between Portland and Burlington. He has appointments lined up with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Monday morning and then with the Mayor of Portland Sam Adams and with the Portland Bureau of Transportation later in the same day. This is clearly not a vacation.

OK – so they have a little more to work with.  But they don’t have a lake at one end of the city and a biosphere at the other end – do they?

OK – so they have a little more to work with. But they don’t have a lake at one end of the city and a biosphere at the other end – do they?

Later in the week the Mayor Goldring will meet with The Office of Neighborhood Involvement and later that day with Portland’s BEST Business Centre (our BEDC) and then First Stop Portland

Can you see where he is going with all this?

Some questions we think the Mayor will be asking:

Have you ever tried to build a Pier?

How did THAT work out for you?

What have you got in the way of a waterfront?

Want some ideas on how to develop it – we’ve got dozens of ideas – and can afford to give away a few.

We have much nicer bike racks – perhaps our Mayor can license our design to Portland.

We have much nicer bike racks – perhaps our Mayor can license our design to Portland.

To be serious Portland, Oregon while much bigger than Burlington is the kind of progressive city Rick Goldring wants Burlington to become. When you look at their web site (don’t compare it to ours) you can get a sense of where Goldring wants to go. There are 95 neighbourhoods in the city that says it was built to walk around in. That’s not language one hears of Burlington but it is language Goldring – but he would add in cycling which is a big deal in Portland.

Expect our Mayor to return filled with new idea and innovations he will want to put forward. This would make an excellent Cogeco cable show – the program our Mayor did on Strategic planning was a bit of a bust.

Portland has produced a 48 page cycling report – expect Goldring to snag a copy of that and pass it along to our cycling people.

We hope to follow the Mayor as he spends the next three days in Portland.

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No highway through the escarpment but city hall wants you to drive the electronic highway they’d like to build.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON, June 1, 2011—The city wants to go electronic with you and is asking for your thoughts on just what they can do to make your life easier.

Well a web site that is a little easier to navigate would be a good place to start and then thinking in terms of “open data” meaning that everything the city has in terms of data is available. After all – you pay for the collection of the data.

Municipal governments have a tendency to hold information when information is really supposed to flow so that citizens are informed and able to make intelligent decisions.

The Shape Burlington report said that the city had an “information deficit”. It was true when that report came out and it is just as true today.

The city web site is – well let’s just say it is awkward – but if you go to the transit web site – you get a much more useful site. The difference is that the transit people need you, the potential passenger, to survive. The city doesn’t need you to survive. They tax you and if you don’t pay – they take your house.

Municipalities don’t live in the world that people in the private sector live in. If you don’t sell enough of whatever your company produces – you don’t eat. It’s that simple, but the municipal world is a bit of a cocoon. They are all nice people but there is no urgency to the work they do. They don’t have to make a profit – all they have to do is manage things. They are very well paid and have excellent pensions. Many, many people work in the municipal world for long periods of time. Lots of 20 years + people in Burlington. It is a business that is quite specialized. A municipality doesn’t have a balance sheet; doesn’t have a profit and loss statement. It cannot have a loss – the city cannot run a deficit. Should a city find itself in a serious financial mess – the province has the right to move in and take over.

They err on the side of caution and keep all kinds of reserve funds. Burlington certainly isn’t inefficient. We have good civic administration but there is a tendency not to take risks. Taking a risk doesn’t mean making a mistake but it does mean trying something new. In an effort to help serve its customers better, the City of Burlington is planning to improve its e-Government services to make interacting with the city online easier and more convenient for citizens and businesses in Burlington.

Some of the online services currently offered by the city include applying for or renewing dog licenses; recreation program registration; parking ticket payment and a variety of permit applications.  There is nothing new with these services. A bit of been there, done that.

The press release the city issued said: “As we plan for improvements to services offered online, we need your input. The community feedback collected will assist the city in improving existing online services and will help select the best e-Government services for the public.” They are very sincere in the request. One would have hoped the city would approach this just a little differently and said:

We have these five ideas we think will make your lives easier and allow us to cut down on our costs – what do you think. That would be service management.

Burlington isn’t there yet. But give them a hand. Complete the online survey (it’s on the city’s web site unfortunately) and can be found at: www.burlington.ca/eGov or if you prefer a paper copy, please visit city hall or any city community centre, library or pool.

Surveys must be submitted online, in person, or by mail to City Hall, 426 Brant St., P.O. Box 5013, Burlington, L7R 3Z6, to the attention of Frances Grano, Manager, Strategic IT Service Delivery no later than June 30, 2011.

Learn more about the e-Government strategy visit www.burlington.ca/eGov or contact us at ITS@burlington.ca.

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Aldershot residents want the city to force developer to play by the rules. Planner thinks the issue will go to the OMB.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 30, 2011 – When the city planner tells a council committee that he can “see this one heading for the OMB ” – pay attention. Bruce Krushelnicki the planner knows a lot about the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB); he wrote the definitive text on the organization and once sat as a Board member.

Massive five building complex that has been a problem since day one – now has to deal with a Council committee.

Massive five building complex that has been a problem since day one – now has to deal with a Council committee.

The Planner was speaking at a Community Development Committee meeting at which close to 50 residents from the Plains Road and Fairwood Place East area of Aldershot where a five unit development of 20 storey high-rises are going up.

The developer, Drewlo Holdings has been described as a “difficult” neighbour and has a tendency to walk all over the rules that regulate development in Burlington.

Mark Preston, a known Burlington Tory operative, has an office directly across the street from the construction site and complains of noise, dust and traffic problems. Such is the price of development in a community.

However, the residents of Fairwood Place East have decided they are not going to sit quietly by while a developer consistently flouts the rules.

The issue at the moment is the decision on the part of the developer not to put in one of the five ramps to the massive underground parking complex. They just didn’t build it – and when the city inspectors began asking questions the developers sought an amendment to the site plan.

The city wasn’t prepared to go along with the request to an amendment to an approved site plan, especially when neighbours in the immediate area said the decision to change the ramps to the garage would have a profound impact on traffic in the immediate area.

Rob Cooper, speaking on behalf of the 40+ resident who crowded into Council chambers, said the developer was trying to use the application for an amendment to legitimize something they should not have done in the first place.

One of the ramps just wasn’t built and the planning department wants to see it built.  Residents have very strong feelings about the ramp and want the city to enforce its construction.

One of the ramps just wasn’t built and the planning department wants to see it built. Residents have very strong feelings about the ramp and want the city to enforce its construction.

The planner had a clear understanding of what was going on and he asked Council to un-delegate the site plan. When a development is approved the matter gets turned over to (delegated) to the planner who oversees the construction and ensures that all the rules are followed. He makes all the decisions and because Krushelnicki is pretty sure this difference of opinion just might be taken to the OMB he wants to be sure that the cities case, in the words of Ward 2 councillor Marianne Meed Ward is “bullet proof. So after hearing all sides of the issue Council went along with the request to un-delegate which means the matter is now in the hands of the Committee.

And what will the Committee do for the suffering residents of Fairwood Place? Well first, the Committee wants a detailed report on just what has taken place and then wants to hear what the planner recommends. While the report writing is going on the developer is expected to initiate talks with the city to look for any possible compromise.

No problem there for the planner – he is there to keep things moving and he is also there to ensure that things move the way they are supposed to – and with this development very little has moved the way it was supposed to. The complex we are talking about will, when completed, have 950 residential units and Rob Cooper believes that many will end up using Fairwood as the street to get out of the complex of apartment units.

Cooper argues that gridlock has already taking place with the twice a day Aldershot school traffic as well as traffic to the public swimming pool and the 750 students who travel through the area to the high school.

When approved the project, a cluster of three buildings that were supposed to have five ramps leading into the underground parking. The developer arbitrarily failed to construct one of the ramps to the under ground garage and then when challenged decided to ask for an amendment to the site plan which would make his arbitrary decision legal.

This kind of hanky panky doesn’t go down very well with our planner. A gentleman to a T and more than prepared to be reasonable – but don’t cross him or try to pull a fast one. That’s what Drewlo tried to do and now they are in the cross hairs of a planner who knows the rules.

Rob Cooper says the planning department believes that on “a technical level, the street can support additional volumes of traffic” “We absolutely challenge that” said Cooper

“We believe” said cooper, “that the planning department is relying on outdated traffic data, and given the ongoing difficulty of dealing with Drewlo, are not dealing with this matter effectively.”

More than forty residents attended the Council Committee meeting to voice their anger with a developer who has been a consistent problem.

More than forty residents attended the Council Committee meeting to voice their anger with a developer who has been a consistent problem.

“It is the city’s responsibility” he added, “to act in the best interests of its residents. That simply is not the case with regard to this entire Drewlo development. There have been many violations of the original site plan but tonight we wish to focus on the traffic gridlock that this amendment, if approved, will create.”

Cooper and his neighbours want the city to:

Reinstate the central ramp exiting onto Plans Road.

Generate a new traffic report conducted by the city and not Drewlo Holdings

Provide the staff with more legal support.

No one knows yet if the residents are going to get what they have asked for. The matter is now back in the hands of the Council Committee who will now wait for a detailed report with recommendations from the planner. That should be in hand by the middle of July.

Council committee with then review the report and make a decision. The planner believes that the developer will appeal any decision that is unfavorable to the developer to the OMB. That process can take months and there is nothing the community can do until the OMB makes a decision. The critical part of this process is that the city have the strongest possible report in hand should there be an appeal to the OMB – that’s the bullet proofing Meed Ward was talking about.

While all this is going on the city will not be issuing and additional building permits for other parts of the development – which makes it a little sticky for the construction people – because the summer is the time of year to get those buildings up.

But developers have to deal with any number of issues: financing, marketing demand for construction crews elsewhere. It is a complex business that usually runs smoother when the rules are followed. Because the rules are as complex as they are the planner said “there are times when our hands are tied.”

What Councillor Craven wanted to know, “will the report tell us that we don’t already know” “Not much” was the response from the planner – but the report is being done for two reasons; to communicate to the developer that the city will be prepared if there is an OMB appeal to the decision council committee makes and (2) there will be a recommendation in the report on what the best next step should be.

The best line of the evening came from a staff member from the traffic studies group when he said: “What we have is a central ramp that is not there.”

It’s a messy situation with a developer who has chosen to break rules rather than comply. Time will tell if Council will give the Planning department the clout is needs to bring this situation back in line.

 

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We were named # 3 best city to live in – now we are the # 2 best city to raise children in. What’s next for us?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 30, 2011 – Any event you attend where either the Mayor or the President of the Chamber of Commerce or the General Manager of the Burlington Downtown Business Association and heck even Kyle Benham of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation will remind you that Burlington was named the third Best City to live in – two years in a row. None of these guys give up an opportunity to tell you just how significant we are.

Well, are you ready for this? Last week, Mayor Rick Goldring told his Council that Burlington is now the Second Best City to raise children in – in all of Canada. The only city better than us is St. Albert in the province of Alberta. And you know what else? The Executive Director of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre came to Burlington from St. Albert. This is all absolutely fabulous – isn’t it ? Aren’t you excited?

Well, the devil is in the details isn’t it. We learned from the Mayor that the people who publish Money Sense magazine, they were the ones who said we are number 3 as the best place to live – they also own the magazine Today’s Parent which has us as the number two Best City to Raise Children in. It’s all a little incestuous.

But a prize is a prize – look for the Board of Educations to latch onto this one and every day care in the city will want to put this on their web site. And can you imagine what the real estate people are going to do with all this glory?

Why does Burlington need to have all these awards ? We have the Philanthropist of the Year, the Entrepreneur of the Year, the Citizen of the Year. Are we missing anything? Or are we telling more about ourselves than we want to or should be saying. A smart, sophisticated city tends to grow beyond the need to do all this self congratulating.

Nothing wrong with the people we recognize, they are all fine people. It is significant to note that many of those named in these lists go on to public office; almost as if you can’t get elected unless you have done community service.

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Citizen participation builds better communities – they make Burlington what it is today.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON May 29, 2011 – It turned out to be a lesson in Civics when Walter Mulkewich, a former Mayor of Burlington spoke of his colleague John Boich who was given the Citizen of the Year award posthumously at a municipal event last Thursday

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Six Recognized for Civic Participation.

Click on each of the names below for full details.

John Boich

Emma Harper

Carole Ward

Burlington Teen Tour Band

Guy Granka

Dr. James Henry

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“The Citizen of the Year award is for an individual who has shown devoted and energetic service to worthy causes and has been an example to others” explained Mulkewich. He added: “This award symbolizes the immense role citizens have in making our community the best it can be. It is citizens who build community.”

“Most in this room will be aware that John died just a little more than two months ago. Many here tonight are aware of the lasting impact John has had on them as individuals and on our community – and could tell their John Boich stories.”

A recent article about citizen engagement in the Toronto Star suggested that we live in a swamp filled with cynicism, anger, disengagement, diminished expectations, and an attitude that has reduced citizens to their roles as taxpayers and consumers. John’s contribution has been to try to lift our community out of that swamp. To understand John Boich’s contribution to our community we need to understand how profoundly and passionately he embraced a positive ethic of community involvement and practiced the creative art of citizenship.

An American study on civic engagement offered a metaphor for two styles of community participation and governing. There is the vending machine metaphor where you as a citizen put your money in and get services out. When the machine does not deliver, you do what people do – kick the machine.

Another more useful metaphor is the old-fashioned barn-raising. A barn-raising is not a transaction where you pay someone to do work on your behalf, but a collaborative process of working together. The same report suggests that the community is more livable and government works better and costs less when citizens do more than simply choose decision makers. In John’s community work, mentoring, and advocacy, he promoted the barn-raising model.

He was a member of the Political Action Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. He became the leader and President of the Burlington Provincial Liberals. When the City established the new Inclusivity Committee John became a member and helped get that committee off the ground. He was citizen member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Niagara to the GTA Transportation Corridor Study (also known as the Mid Peninsula Highway).

In November of 2009, our former Mayor asked John and I to put together and Co-Chair a Mayor’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Civic Engagement. After a unique and intensive five-month process ending mid April 2010, a dedicated committee of citizens presented to the community a report known as “Shape Burlington, Creating an Engaged Community”. John’s fingerprints are all over that landmark report which I hope will move Burlington into the barn-raising model for city building.

Then, John was a part of the new group, Shaping Burlington, which took on the task of advocating for the Shape Burlington Report.

John is being recognized not only because he was part of a lot of committees and went to a lot of meetings. His presence at those committees and meetings made a difference. He prodded, he encouraged and mentored people, he asked questions, he listened to others, he encouraged intelligent and informed dialogue, he was always positive rather than negative, he presented ideas and alternatives, he encouraged people to expand their expectations, and to see a vision of what can be.

Four other Burlington citizens and one community organization were recognized for the role they have played in making this city the community it is. Emma Harper was recognized as Junior Person of the year; Carol Ward was given the Community Service Award, Guy Granka was given the Environmental Award and Dr. James Henry the Senior Person of the year. The Burlington Teen Tour Band was recognized as the Group of the Year.

A total of 19 Burlingtonians were nominated for a Civic Recognition Award and each person was recognized for their contributions and presented with a certificate of congratulations. Nominees for the 2010 Civic Recognition Awards included Peter Andreana; Burlington Teen Tour Band; BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association; John Boich; George Curran; Finger 11; Guy Granka; Emma Harper; Dr. James Henry; Greg Hunt; Beverley Jacobs; Madi Lalonde; Mary Nichol; William O’Rourke; Richelle Papin; Jackie Ralston; Sally Romanowski; Deb Tymstra and Carole Ward.

 

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Emma Jane Harper recognized as Burlington’s Junior person of the year. Start them early and they just get better and better.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 30, 2011 It all began when she was 10 years old. Not an awkward child but certainly not a child that would stand in front of a group of people and make a short speech. Today Emma Jane Harper expresses all the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ and the “awesome’s” that populate the speech of her generation.

Emma Jane Harper, Burlington’s Young Person of the Year.  Keep an eye on this one, you’re going to read a lot more about her.

Emma Jane Harper, Burlington’s Young Person of the Year. Keep an eye on this one, you’re going to read a lot more about her.

The Junior Person of the Year award for her was appreciated but what she takes away from the night was being able to sit amongst a group of people who have made such a difference to their community”. It was amazing, absolutely amazing and when it was my turn to make a few comments I wasn’t really sure what I was going to say”.

A student at Corpus Christi High School Emma Jane got into the community service business at an early age when she took part in a CIBC Run for the Cure Race and a few years later, at the age of 10, she became became a team captain and basically hasn’t stopped since then.

Her list of achievements just goes on and on. When she graduated from elementary school to high school – she was attending a brand new school and because there wasn’t much in the way of structure or student organization – Emma Jane jumped right in and began setting up student groups.

She has worked with her twin brother Luke on a video about veterans that he taped and edited. The video was about the contribution veterans made during the Second World War. “I found them to be just so positive. They told me I could do anything I wanted in life and that was surprising to me to hear those words from people who had gone through so much pain.” The video was done with the S4S (Students or Students) group at her high school. The lesson that I got from that experience was the question: “Why do we go to war?

Her best subjects in high school? History and English and right now Louis Riel is getting a lot of attention from this student. University will follow once she graduates with Queen’s and Brock at the top of her list. That next step in her journey has a bit of trepidation attached to it, “I’ve never been away from my family” she explains, but she is still looking forward to the idea of being a full time university student.

School used to be about text books and classroom conversation. That changed when the internet arrived and today much of the research and a lot of the social chit chat gets done on computers. Emma Jean took charge of that as well and created a web site for the Students 4 Students project she set up for her high school. The link for that web site is:

https://www.wix.com/beyourownsuperhero/s4s Check it out.

The most recent book she read and liked? Three Cups of Tea. Most recent movie she liked? The Note Book. The magazine she would pick up at the airport is she were taking a long flight? “17”, the teen magazine for girls, and that just about sums up Emma Jean Harper; a bright outgoing, giving young woman who still has a lot of girl in her life. Keep an eye on this one.

A touch of poignancy to close this piece. Arlene Miller, the woman who accepted the Citizen of the Year Award on behalf of her late husband John Boich taught Emma Jane’s Mother English as a high school student. That’s a bit less than six degrees of separation.

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He stood his ground, gave as good as he got and got us a little closer to real civic engagement.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 25th, 2011 – It came down to a one hour delegation with phrases like:

“Give the money back to the developer.”

“Money from developers is tainted.”

The fix was in.”

It’s hush money.”

“City staff` want money for their favorite projects”.

from a citizen who stood his ground and gave better than he got from a Council that paid lip service to the Shape Burlington report said needed to be changed in terms of engaging the citizens about changes made to the way the city is going to grow.

Council heard a delegation that went much longer than anyone expected and one in which every council member had something to say and, except for Craven, they were all inclining towards a: Yeah, the community should be more involved and there was one of those inevitable staff directions that leads to… Our Mayor wasn’t happy – he wanted the meeting to move along and was behaving as if he had an upset stomach and wanted to go home.

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Mark Henderson a retired teacher who lives on Burlington Avenue, a block away from the 14 storey project the Molinaro Group wants to build at Brock and Elgin where the official plan permits 7 storeys, was given his five minutes to make his point and got cut off rather abruptly by the Mayor.

This project had gone through two public meetings that were long and noisy and at which, if you believe the residents, none of their concerns were shown in the application the planners approved and sent along to a city council committee. There, the project was once again raked over the coals by unhappy residents, with Ward 2 Council member Marianne Meed Ward putting forward four amendments on which she insisted on a recorded vote and lost 6-1 every time.

Meed Ward was back at when the matter came before a Council meeting, but this time she had a single delegation that did all the talking. Every member of Council engaged Mark Henderson, and each time he came back with cogent arguments about the process the city had taken with this particular project that left Burlington city council looking very pro- developer, a Council that gives developers anything they ask for.

Henderson was appearing before Council as the spokesperson for the Ward 2 residents committee that didn’t like the idea of a developer giving the city a significant sum of money ($500,000) in community benefits for permission to put up a 14 storey structure when the Official Plan allowed only 7 storeys. The Ward 2 residents thought that stunk and they felt the city should not accept the money and stick with the 7 storeys. This Council wanted the 14 storeys and used the excuse that it was what the Planners had recommended. However, there was no mention in the Planners report of the significant community dissatisfaction and Council didn’t ask why there was no mention. They certainly knew about it.

Henderson didn’t get a chance to finish his delegation before his five minutes was up and the Mayor, who is usually a little on the tolerant side with delegations wasn’t in a tolerable mood with Henderson although he did congratulate him at the close of the Council grilling and said he had earned himself a beer to which Henderson responded: “Are you buying?”

A stones throw north and a bit to the west of the Burlington Art Centre, there is what is close to a concrete jungle. This kind of concentration has become a ghetto in many North American cities where delinquency and poverty grow.

A stones throw north and a bit to the west of the Burlington Art Centre, there is what is close to a concrete jungle. This kind of concentration has become a ghetto in many North American cities where delinquency and poverty grow.

The March 3, 2011 community meeting, held at the Burlington Arts Centre, was noisy and it was clear the resident didn’t like what was being put in front of them but none of that dissatisfaction made its way into the report the planners sent along to the Council Committee that approved the report. The community had already met once with the planners and made their views known that time as well.

The process is was now before Council which was going to put its stamp on all the papers and the builder could start digging holes. There were two delegations: the Ward 2 residents and the planner for the Molinaro Group. Each had five minutes to make their points. Mark Henderson, who was speaking for the Ward 2 residents got his five minutes after which Council members kept him at the podium for an additional 45 minutes.

The Ward 2 residents had two concerns. The way the Official Plan was basically ‘thrown under the bus’ and the way the $500,000 given by the developer was allocated. The $500,000 was the result of a section 37 agreement (Planner speak for a getting money in exchange for giving the developer increased density.)

Besides not liking the way the money came to be Henderson, speaking on behalf of the residents, didn’t like the way city hall planning staff were deciding how it was to be spent.

The beef for the Ward 2 residents was the way the decision to use the provision in the Act got decided. They wanted to be inside the tent as it were, shining their light into what they thought might be dark corners. Meed Ward felt the community should be involved in determining what happens in a community and she wanted to be involved much further up the food chain. She maintained that way back in December of 2010 she asked the Planning department to bring her in on these conversations and says she was told things weren’t done that way and, because she was a freshly minted municipal councilor at the time, she didn’t know what else to do and took the word of the planning staff. Thus Meed Ward was a little surprised when she heard Ward 1 councillor Craven say that he had been invited to take part in a Section 37 conversation when there was a project in his ward. Meed Ward will be having a conversation with the planner about that.

However, this being an issue that involved Meed Ward it wasn’t going to be that simple – it wasn’t Meed Ward that was making it difficult – she just insisted in getting down to the details. And that’s when Council learned more than they may have wanted to know about how parts of the Planning Act actually work.

The developer was quite prepared to give up the $500,000 and he didn’t give a hoot how it was spent – all he wanted was his building permit and he made it clear he wanted it approved at the Council meeting – and this Council doesn’t have the cahonies to tell a developer to cool their heels while the city works through its issues.

Not only is it a very uninteresting building it exceeds the height limits set in the official plan and has a postage stamp of a park and no schools in the immediate area.  Still said to comply with good planning principles.

Not only is it a very uninteresting building it exceeds the height limits set in the official plan and has a postage stamp of a park and no schools in the immediate area. Still said to comply with good planning principles.

The citizens however were concerned with how the $500,000 was spent and they wanted to give that process a review, with involvement from the community. Henderson’s argument was that if the city is giving a developer additional density in return for a financial benefit then the residents should be involved in deciding just what those benefits should be. There was never an issue with how much money was going to be given to the city – the issue for the residents was what that money got spent on.

Meed Ward had thought she could get agreement to approve the project and figure out how the $500,000 would be applied – and that’s where the Planning Act got in the way. Council could not “uncouple the two. If the project was to be approved and the developer given the additional density council had to approve BOTH the additional density and the benefits. That would have meant holding up the approval and without the approval no building permit. And this Cou

The Molinaro Group already has a very productive relationship with the city. They found their cash flow wasn’t quite what they needed to b able to pay the $655,000 in development charges on the Maple Avenue project in2010 and, rather than approach their bankers, the developer approached the city and proposed a schedule of payments that stretched the paying of the $655,000 over three years.

On March 2, 2010 City Council did the following:

APPROVAL OF A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT CHARGES DEFERRAL AGREEMENT FOR 551 MAPLE AVENUE

Approve a residential development charges deferral agreement for 551 Maple Ave [535-41/06] at the prime lending rate plus 1% of the city’s bank with the payment plan specified in Appendix B of Finance Department report F-14-10, dated February 5, 2010; and

Authorize staff to prepare a legal agreement for the development charges deferral agreement for the development at 551 Maple Ave [535-41/06]. (F-14-10)

The developer was putting up a large building on Maple Avenue, a part of town where there are already a number of high rise buildings. That project is still under construction.

Here is where it gets a little messy. The Molinaro Group meanwhile did an additional land assembly within a couple of blocks of the one it got the deferral on the development charges. It was on this second assembly that they made an application to build a 14 storey building on land that the Official Plan said should permit just 7 storeys.

More housing being crammed into an area that has the potential to become a bit of a low income ghetto.

More housing being crammed into an area that has the potential to become a bit of a low income ghetto.

The developer, being an adroit business person knew that the city had to comply with the provinces Places to Grow policy and intensify and he felt he had a development that would meet a number of the city’s needs which he set out in a document that justified the application being made.

The developer hires an architect, and a planner who put together a project that has a big buildings that exceeds the plans. Burlington is seen as a community that doesn’t give developers that tough a time – they approve just about everything. There are situations where they ask for significant changes but for the most part Burlington will give you what you ask for.

The planners and several members of Council argued that the high rise buildings in the Maple Avenue sector would provide affordable housing for people who would spend money in the downtown core. According the Meed Ward, people living in affordable housing don’t spend money downtown. The merchants, she says tell her that their customers are the people who work in offices downtown. The people who are going to live in these new high rises are not seen by the downtown core as people who will be getting out for lunches and shop.

The people who live in a very established neighbourhood to the east, see very significant changes taking place. They don’t understand how the Official Plan can be flouted so easily.

That’s what the issue really was all about. “If we have an Official plan then why don’t we follow it?” they wanted to know. The Official Plan is supposed to represent the vision of the city – so how come planning staff get to over-ride that vision and why does Council just rubber stamp everything that comes from the planning department ?

The Planning department took the view that density was needed and the project had merit and they were prepared to pass it along to council committee with their approval.

Sharman’s view is that “It might be reasonable to assume that most of the decisions “go the developers way”. It seems that way because by the time the decision gets to council a huge amount of work has been done by very senior and highly qualified staff to make sure that such proposals meet legal requirements and serve the stated needs (per official plans etc) of the community in general. They have also held public information sessions. Often times the developer has made significant changes to their plans in order to satisfy broader community expectations.”

“It is incorrect”, Sharman maintains “to believe that the zoning bylaw is final and binding on the city. Variances to zoning bylaws are expected and intended. The system is designed so that staff and council have an opportunity to review such modifications.”

What Staff did not do was look at the concentration of poverty already in the area. The illustration set out below shows moderate to high poverty along Maple Avenue with high poverty clustered around the 403,407 and QEW interchange.

There are no schools in the immediate area, a postage stamp of a park and no plans for a school or more park space in the immediate area. The planners say that one of the best parks in the city, Spencer Smith Park, is just two blocks south of the proposed development and that is true – but you have to cross Lakeshore Road, one of the busiest and more dangerous intersections in the city. Only good thing is that the hospital is about 100 yards away should you be struck by a car.

The developer provided this 3 dimensional view of how his building relates to others in the immediate area and they point at that theirs is lower than the others.  True, but what the view does not show is that their building is at the edge of the high rise area and that there is no stepping down to the two storey single detached homes immediately to the east.

The developer provided this 3 dimensional view of how his building relates to others in the immediate area and they point at that theirs is lower than the others. True, but what the view does not show is that their building is at the edge of the high rise area and that there is no stepping down to the two storey single detached homes immediately to the east.

Where did the meeting get us? This Council may have begun to realize that there were things about the Planning Act they didn’t really understand. One would have thought that Craven with his 10 years on Council, Taylor with his 20 + and Dennison with 16+, would have had all this stuff down cold. But that group doesn’t bring the zeal for citizen involvement to the table that Meed Ward brings.

What we are beginning to see is a shift in thinking of both Taylor and Dennison. They were both surprised that they couldn’t make changes to the way the $500,000 in community benefits were to be spent. Dennison was prepared to make changes on the spot. Taylor made a point of saying he wanted this whole community benefits issue looked at carefully. If Meed Ward can learn how to cultivate these two guys a little more effectively, we may see a Burlington where the residents are listened to a little more closely and understood by the planners. However, there is a building sense among several of the Council members that Meed Ward is being obstructive and difficult and not ‘playing the game’ the way it is usually played. She would respond with a ‘you got that right’ for she wants to be obstructive and difficult because it is the only way she knows how to bring about the change she feels is needed. She’s right on the need for change but wrong on the tools she’s using

Meed Ward represents a part of the community that wants more say – and as Mark Henderson said: “Theses are not a bunch of crazy people meeting in a basement somewhere. These were solid respectable people who felt that if there was an Official Plan it should be respected – and in this instance they didn’t feel the plan was being respected and they wanted to know why. What the residents didn’t know was that the majority of Council felt the 7 storey limit in the plan was a mistake. Several used the argument that the provinces Places to Grow policy meant that parts of an Official Plan had to be changed but Meed Ward pointed out that Places to Grow was known in 2003 and that the Official Plan was revised in 2007 – so that argument wasn’t going to hold much water with her.

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Blair Lancaster, Councillor for Ward 6, seems concerned mostly with who is in charge. Her view is that Council was elected to develop policies needed to run the city and ensure that senior staff were carrying out that policy. She has great difficulty understanding what Meed Ward is up to

Sharman talks of free market forces and while both were part of the Shape Burlington Committee, they didn’t bring all that much of the spirit John Boich and Walter Mulkewich were trying to foster. Sharman however does understand the need for affordable housing. In a communication with a citizen Sharman said: ” There is a little push back on intensification from some people in Burlington. Mostly it is a misunderstood topic in Burlington. Burlington is not going to experience the kind of growth that Oakville is/will be. We expect to grow by about 20,000 in the next 20 years. So an average of 1,000 people a year. Intensification in Burlington will happen in specific and a relatively few number of zones. Burlington is now the slowest growing community in the GTA and is expected to stay that way.

Sharman takes the view that there will be intensification – but not all that much.  What’s in the water he drinks?

Sharman takes the view that there will be intensification – but not all that much. What’s in the water he drinks?

The big challenge for the city is that house prices will rise accordingly and will leave no where for those entering the housing market, or those wanting to reduce their financial commitment to housing to live in Burlington. We need affordable housing. The only way that will happen is for smaller homes that use less land. My son and his wife and 2 young children, for example, bought a home in Whitby for 60% of the comparable Burlington price. That upsets me because they now live over an hour’s drive away or over 2 hours by public transportation.

It was pretty clear that Councillors Taylor and Dennison didn’t like the process. Dennison was quite prepared to make changes to the way the $500,000 was to be spent at the meeting but the rules didn’t allow for that. Rather than insist that the approval be put on hold while the matter of how the community benefit money got spent – this Council approved it and, unless someone suggests there was a failure of due process on the part of Council and asks the Ontario Municipal Bard to review this, nothing is going to happen. This is a done deal.

However, this Council has heard the community rumblings and Taylor and Dennison don’t want to do business this way. They Mayor just seemed to want to get on with it. He felt the 14 storeys was a good thing and that the Official Plan limit of 7 storey was wrong and even though the Official Plan represents the will of the people, the vision of the community – didn’t matter. It was going to be a 14 storey building.

Why the rush to approve the change to the Official Plan that was needed to approve the project? The developer is still completing a different project on Maple Avenue and there doesn’t appear to be a huge demand for new residential space.

It was equally clear is that this Council doesn’t fully understand the rules they have to deal with – their Planning staff do, but what the professionals know doesn’t seem to work its way onto the desks of the Council members.

Meed Ward fought this development every step of the way and while she did not win this battle she is on the way to winning the war.

Meed Ward fought this development every step of the way and while she did not win this battle she is on the way to winning the war.

Meed Ward didn’t win this battle but she is on her way to winning the war. Ward 5 Councillor Sharman said he would be preparing a Staff Direction on how community benefits are arrived at. It will be interesting to see if any of the Spirit of Shape Burlington has clung to Sharman now that he sits at the Council table.

It will be sometime before a developer tries to play the Section 37 game the same way again. The more senior members of this Council will begin looking more closely at just when the community gets involved in a development. Shape Burlington told the city that the public wanted more involvement and more information and that point was made brutally clear during the hour long delegation during which Mark Henderson held their feet to the flames.

Mayor Goldring went live on Cogeco Cable a few days after the Council meeting to talk to the citizens about how they can, and he wishes they would, get involved in the development of the city’s Strategic Plan. He wants ideas, their thoughts and ideally a dialogue. It would have been nice to see some real dialogue at the Council meeting where the city gave a developer double the height – 14 storeys instead of the seven, set out in the Official Plan.

Many citizens feel the Official Plan is a bit of a joke that gets amended whenever a developer walks in with a request for more density which is usually translated into height.

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A planning tool that forgets people are part of the planning process. Section 37 – a missed opportunity.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINTON, ON May 28, 2011 – Burlington is one of a few cities that makes use of Section 37 of the Planning Act. Ottawa, Toronto and Markham use the provision which can be a very useful planning tool. In Burlington we are fortunate to have a planner who wrote the definitive text on the Ontario Municipal Board and a man who has served as a member of that Board. The significance of this is that most matters that go to the OMB are related to planning matters and to have a planner who knows the ins and outs of the OMB as well as the intent of the Board gives Burlington an intellectual advantage.

The way Section 37 of the Planning Act is implemented just might get a re-working in Burlington if Council members follow up on their comments.

The way Section 37 of the Planning Act is implemented just might get a re-working in Burlington if Council members follow up on their comments.

Section 37 of the Planning Act relates to situations where an Official Plan calls for a certain type of development. It could be single detached housing, row housing organized as a condominium or a high rise, inevitably the issue become one of density. How many units can you put in a piece of property ? The municipality’s Official Plan (OP) will set out what the density can be and the zoning on the piece of property will set out what kind of building can be built on the site.

There are occasions where a developer will approach a municipality with a proposal that exceeds what is set out in the OP, but after discussions with the Planning Department, agreement is reached that the proposal is “good planning” and meets both the immediate and long term needs of the city.

We had two instances of just that happening in Burlington very recently and both created significant opposition within their communities. One was a condominium development south of the Queensway and the other was the apartment/condominium development at Brock and Elgin. In both instances the city approved an amendment to the Official Plan to permit the development

Burlington is faced with a provincial requirement that we grow our population. The province tells us that is what we have to do and that is what we do. The provincial Places to Grow legislation requires Burlington to grow its population by 20,000 people over the next 20 years – that’s 1,000 new housing units every year.

Because the city no longer has very much “green space” to build large projects on they have to resort to intensification.

Developers see opportunities to take land that is being under utilized and they begin to assemble properties until they have an area large enough for the plans they have in mind.

In the Queensway area this resulted in a developer purchasing six properties that consisted of half an acre each. These lots were created at the end of WW II and known as Veterans Land Act properties. Once the land was assembled the developer asked for permission to build a 74 unit complex on the property and the local community was up in arms. That development eventually got cut back to 58 units but is still a significant bit of intensification – going from six homes to 58 on the same pieces of land.

In the Brock Elgin area the developer did an assembly and came to the city with a proposal to increase the density permitted in the Official Plan from 7 to 14 storeys. The community was aghast and argued against the development at two public meetings and a third meeting at a Council Committee and finally at a Council meeting. They were beaten back at every meeting.

In this instance the developer made a Section 37 proposal in which the city determines how much the value of the land the development is being built on is going to increase due to the development.

Note that the unit of measure here is the increase in ‘value of the land’ not the revenue and potential profit the developer expects to see. The city gets an appraisal of what the land was worth before the development and what the land will be worth after the development and then asks the developer to contribute half of the increase in value back to the city as community benefits.

In the Brock Elgin development the increase in the value of the land was deemed to be $1 million and the developer agreed to pay for community improvements worth $500,000.

This is seen as a way for a city to share in the gain that a developer earns when asking for and getting an amendment to an Official Plan. Sounds fair and is seen as a sound planning practice.

Where people in Burlington get really wound up is how the community benefits are determined. The Planning department does all that thinking – with not a peep from the community. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward thinks this is wrong and fought vigorously to have the community involved in determining what the benefits should be.

She came close to getting her Council colleagues to look at what was being proposed then, to the surprise of just about everyone, they learned that if Council wanted to make any changes to the community benefits the matter had to be sent back to Committee.

Several Councillors believed that the amendment to the Official Plan and the applicable by law could be approved and the specific make up of the community benefits looked at later – wasn’t possible. The two had to be approved at the same time.

Section 37 of the Planning Act is a very sound and accepted planning tool. What Burlington hasn’t done is bring the community in on the process and get their input before deciding what to do.

Councillors Sharman and Taylor have said they want to see the community benefits issue handled much differently. We will be watching.

 

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Burlington gets Targeted – dog with bulls eye may be seen on the streets. Bargains for all

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON May 27, 2011 – The dog with the red target over his eye will soon be seen at the Burlington Mall located at Guelph Line and Fairview.

Target, the second largest chain of retail stores in the United States is coming to Canada, much to the satisfaction of thousands of Canadian shoppers who have loved the bargain available south of the border.

Target has created a “cheap chic” brand that has been giving Wal-Mart a run for their money. The first Target store will be at the Burlington Mall where it will replace the existing Zellers.

The company has taken over the Zellers stores leases and intends to invest heavily in upgrading and modernizing the retail outlets.

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Brother reminisces about John Boich, the man chosen as Burlington’s Citizen of the Year.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON ON May 26, 2010 They were born 15 months apart and as boys they were inseparable. They grew into young men who were taught to serve their communities and this evening Eli Boich will sit with his brother’s widow as she prepares to receive the Burlington Citizen of the Year Award on behalf of her husband, John Boich who passed away in March.

John Boich<br>Burlington Citizen of the Year 2012

John BoichBurlington Citizen of the Year 2012

“We were taught that serving was not just a responsibility for the privileged but a responsibility for all of us”, said Elijah Boich. “John would be so honoured to know that he was being given this award by his community.”

John, said Eli, believed that if a problem was man made then there was a solution for men to bring to the problem and he used that principle to guide his life. He was a teacher who expected you to arrive at your own conclusions and then to use those conclusions as you went about your work.

We did everything together. We played ball together, we had a small dance band and many people may not know it but John directed a student musical while he was at Trafalgar in Oakville. For those who knew John Boich, the thought of his directing a production of Oklahoma will gladden their hearts. We can just imagine him directing those students. Eli will quickly tell you tat there is a 78 rpm vinyl disc of that production.

John Boich wanted people to be publicly useful and privately happy and he lived his life that way. The school in Burlington named in his honour while it is under construction will have close to 1000 students enrolled; there are already 200 registered for kindergarten explains Elijah. Imagine a couple of hundred students being educated as little Boichs

The Civic recognition event will celebrate and remember a man who had an impression on everyone he met. You may not have liked John Boich but you certainly remembered him and he would be very quick to tell you that he didn’t want or need to be liked but you were going to respect him. You will be with us forever John.

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