Tech Place is in pretty good shape: Several Council members didn't know that - they chose instead to trash the work they do.

By Pepper Parr

June 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At a Standing Committee last week there was a considerable amount of discussion about why Tech Place was getting to use some prime space at the Former Bateman High School site that is being turned into a community Centre – at a cost that stunned most people.

Anita Cassidy, the Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation

Anita Cassidy, the Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation provided us with the following:

As part of the implementation of Vision 2040 Burlington Economic Development was tasked to “Create and invest in a system that supports the start-up and growth of businesses and entrepreneurship.”  An Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy was approved that recommended the development of an Innovation Centre to help strengthen and grow the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In 2017 Tech Place was launched using a reallocation of $220,000 annually of the existing economic development budget plus staff costs.

Tech Place during its 6 year lease term at its current location negotiated $12.83 per square foot for a total of 8,600 square feet resulting in an annual rent cost of $127,628 per year in rent.

The lease agreement has been extended until May 2025  at an increased rate of $17.50 per square foot resulting in an annual rental cost of $181,422 in the final year of the lease extension period at 5500 North Service road.

All costs are covered from the existing economic development budget and no additional asks to fund Tech Place have been made to the City of Burlington.

We are just short of being stunned that members of Council didn’t have these acts at their fingertips.

Related news story.

Tech Place gets a rough ride.

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The heavy lifting continues: Council takes part in a second workshop to refine the V2F part of the Strategic Plan

By Pepper Parr

June 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Described is as a Vision to Focus (V2F) Workshop, the second one to take places, it will be a  facilitated engagement to inform, consult, get feedback and have collaboration between members of Council and Burlington’s Leadership Team on the V2F actions using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

It is one of the, if not THE most important tasks city council undertakes this term of office.

The road that will be travelled

The public is aware that there is going to be growth, lots of it.  This Council has signed a pledge with the province that calls for the city to create 29,000 new residences by the year 2031.

There are development applications working their way through the planning approval process.

A number of them are stuck at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Council nevertheless has to focus on what kind of a city will Burlington be at 2031, 2041 and 2051.

Mayor Meed Ward tells citizens that the city has already reached its housing commitment for 2031.

Tuesday morning the process of working through what this Council will set out to do during this term will begin – they have already had one worship where the scope and scale of the work to be done was determined.

Council, along with Staff will be taking a closer at the four Focus areas that have been decided upon. Just who determined what those four focus areas are is a bit of a mystery.

They are set out below.  The space between the two columns is the work that council in a Workshop setting will take on this afternoon.

It is fair to ask if the Focus areas created reflect what most people on Burlington want to see done.

 

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Waste removal schedule - in your email box

By Staff

June 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Monday was a holiday – will the garbage be picked up on Wednesday as usual?

The schedule can be accessed from your cell phone.

And what is it that we are able to put for pick up this week?

Learn about the interactive waste collection calendar tool. View your collection calendar, sign up for weekly reminders and use the Put Waste in Its Place tool.

This tool is for single family and townhouse residences.

Getting the waste schedule for your street is simple – fill in the form.

Search by address to confirm your next waste collection day and what materials are being collected.
Waste Collection Calendar Tool:

View and download your calendar using your address

Weekly reminders: Email or phone

Add a schedule to your personal calendar:

iCal, Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook

Put Waste In Its Place Tool:

Search your item for disposal directions.

Link to set up the program is HERE

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Rent Rates: Burlington came in sixth for average monthly rent in May for a one-bedroom at $2,244

By Staff

June 13th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Average asking rents in Canada rose 6.5 per cent in May, the lowest percentage annual increase since December 2021, according to the Rentals.ca and Urbanation latest National Rent Report.*

But average rent for all property types on the Rentals.ca Network was still up 19 per cent over the past two years.

Toronto finished second on the list of 35 cities for average monthly rent in May for a one-bedroom at $2,538 and third for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $3,286.

Burlington came in sixth for average monthly rent in May for a one-bedroom at $2,244 and 10th for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,514.
Year over year, average monthly rent in May for a one-bedroom in Burlington was up 12.7 per cent and up 7.9 per cent for a two-bedroom.

Several GTA and surrounding mid-sized markets had double-digit annual increases in May: Brampton, up 23 per cent; North York, up 22 per cent; Guelph, up 19 per cent; Markham, up 18 per cent; Hamilton, up 16 per cent; Vaughan, up 15 per cent; Mississauga and Burlington, both up 14.6 per cent and Etobicoke, up 11.5 per cent. 

Oakville continued as Canada’s most expensive midsize market in May with an average rent of $3,373 for purpose-built and condominium apartments

Ten GTA mid-sized cities and areas were in the top 14 most expensive on the list of 25, with rents ranging from $2,634 in North York to $2,527 in Burlington. 

This is a picture that is not going to get any prettier.

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Teacher Wade Richardson receives Lifetime Membership Award from Ontario Council for Technology Education

By Staff

June 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board announced today that Wade Richardson, Teacher and Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) Lead for the HDSB, has received the Lifetime Membership Award from the Ontario Council for Technology Education (OCTE).

The award recognizes an individual who has made a “substantial contribution to advancing Technological Education in Ontario through work with the Ontario Council for Technology Education over a dedicated period of time.”

Wade Richardson, Lifetime Member Ontario Council for Technology Education

“I’m honoured to have received this Lifetime Membership Award from OCTE,” Richardson says. “It is so satisfying to know the difference that we, as an organization, have made to furthering technological education in Ontario, and I’m thrilled to have played a part in that alongside so many talented, dedicated and devoted professionals.”

“The Halton District School Board is so proud of Wade for receiving this award,” says Nick Frankovich, Superintendent of Education for the HDSB. “His commitment to advancing technological education, not just in Halton but across the province, has been exemplary. He collaborates with his department to ensure secondary program colleagues have a voice in supporting technological education, and they couldn’t be happier for Wade. He has accomplished this as a teacher and system-lead to the benefit of countless students, and we extend our congratulations to him for this provincial recognition.”

Over the years, Richardson has worked in many positions on the executive board for OCTE including conference organizer, stakeholder relations, OYAP representative and is currently the Chair. He has worked on many projects with OCTE over the years to support technological education. Some of the projects have been creating supporting resources for teachers, such as lesson plans and student information resources.

“Wade connected our organizations with consistent messaging and advocacy through opportunities such as the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Youth Advisory initiative, which ultimately led to very important policy changes for education including the introduction of the compulsory Technological Education credit for all Ontario students,” according to OCTE.

“Wade is a well-liked and effective leader and supporter of Technological Education in Ontario. The future of OCTE and Tech Ed in the province are in great hands with the leadership that Wade offers.”

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Halton Region Public Health confirms rabies in a bat found in Aldershot

By Staff

June 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

Halton Region Public Health confirmed that a bat tested positive for rabies last week – there are no known human contacts.

The bat was found in Aldershot, a southwest neighbourhood of Burlington. This is the first confirmed case of animal rabies in Halton Region this year.

They are nasty little things that terrify young children.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes severe damage to the brain and spinal cord and, if untreated before symptoms appear, can lead to death. The virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal such as a raccoon, skunk, bat, dog, fox, or other wild animal, usually through a bite or scratch. Rabies illness in humans can be prevented by the use of a rabies vaccine, which is extremely effective, but only if it is administered before symptoms occur.

Although rabies in bats is rare, bites from rabid bats have caused almost all human cases of rabies in Canada over the past several years. Bats have small, needle-like teeth, and their bites easily go undetected. If you have been bitten, scratched or exposed to bat saliva, wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

It is not always possible to identify if a bat has rabies, however rabid bats may move slowly, lose the ability to fly, remain active during daylight hours or be unresponsive to loud noises. If you find a bat in your home, do not attempt to move it and contact your local Animal Control Services.

To report a wild animal that you suspect may have rabies, follow the steps on ontario.ca/rabies.

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Conservation Halton advises that approximately 15 to 30 mm of rain has fallen across our jurisdiction - more expected

By Staff

June 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

Time: 7:30 A.M.

Conservation Halton advises that approximately 15 to 30 mm of rain has fallen across our jurisdiction over the previous 24 hours.

The creeks that form high into the Escarpment and run south to Lake Ontario are the source of flood waters in the suburbs.

Local forecasts suggest an additional 15 mm to 30 mm of rainfall is possible today with locally higher amounts in areas that receive thunderstorms. Precipitation is expected to end by late this afternoon as the system moves out of our area.

Consist rainfall increases the flow of water from the Escarpment through the system of creeks – pushing them beyond their natural capacity.

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

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

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

This Watershed Condition Statement will be in effect through Tuesday June 13, 2023.

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EV fast chargers installed at 20 renovated ONroute stations along the province’s busiest highways, the 400 and 401.

By Staff

June 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In place and ready for the summer traffic. Come October the public should learn just how often these charging stations were used and are there enough of them in place.

Electric Vehicles (EV) fast chargers have been installed at all 20 renovated ONroute stations along the province’s busiest highways, the 400 and 401.

The new fast charging stations are part of the roll-out announced in December 2021 by the Ontario government, Ivy Charging Network, ONroute, Canadian Tire and Natural Resources Canada. All stations are now equipped with at least two EV chargers at each site, with busier areas equipped with more. The chargers are available to all drivers on a pay-per-use basis and serve all vehicle types.

As the EV population grows, more chargers may be added at each site. These critical infrastructure builds will further encourage the electrification of the transportation sector in Ontario by making EV charging more accessible and utilize the province’s world-class clean electricity supply by shifting away from gas-powered vehicles.

One of the 20 ONroute stations located on the 401 1nd 400 highways

The government also launched a new Ultra-Low Overnight electricity price plan which will support EV adoption and reduce emissions. The new electricity pricing structure is a third option for electricity customers, in addition to the existing Time-of-Use (TOU) and Tiered plans. Customers who use more electricity at night, including shift workers and those who electrically heat their home or charge their electric vehicle, could save up to $90 per year by shifting demand to the ultra-low overnight rate period when province-wide electricity demand is lower.

Quick Facts
• As of May 2023, there are more than 118,000 EVs registered in Ontario, including both battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). By 2030, there are expected to be more than one million EVs on the road in Ontario.

• Three additional rest stops in Maple, Ingersoll and Newcastle will undergo planned renovations between 2023-2025 and will have EV fast chargers installed at that time.

• The Ivy Charging Network, a joint venture between Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), is responsible for the installation, ownership, and operation of the fast chargers.

• Ivy’s fast chargers charge 40 cents a minute to charge an electric vehicle. With a fast charger most drivers can get a 150 km range of charge for as little as $7, depending on their vehicle.

 

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Retrofit Pilot Program goes to Council on Tuesday for approval

By Pepper Parr

June 12th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

As recommendations go they don’t get better than this:

Approve the establishment of the Better Homes Burlington Energy Retrofit Pilot Program to provide a maximum of twenty loans to Burlington homeowners who meet program eligibility criteria to support the implementation of air source heat pumps.

Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services to monitor and assess the results of the Better Homes Burlington pilot program and report back to council in one year with recommended next steps.

The purpose of the report was to obtain council approval of the necessary elements to deliver the Better Homes Burlington (BHB) program. In 2020, Council approved the Burlington Climate Action Plan and set a target to become a net zero carbon community by 2050. The BHB program will support decarbonization measures in the residential sector to help Burlington achieve its net zero community target.

The report recommended the BHB program as a pilot project which will support residential decarbonization by:

• providing a concierge service to homeowners with guidance on options to complete a home energy efficiency retrofit;
• offering loans to homeowners to accelerate the adoption of air source heat pumps; and,
• engaging and educating homeowners and contractors to promote/deliver home energy efficiency retrofits.

For those who want to upgrade the way they heat and cool their homes the Better Homes Burlington would appear to be something worth looking into.

Council directed Staff to bring forward a business case as part of the 2023 budget process for the resources required to support implementation of a small-scale home energy efficiency retrofit program including a virtual delivery centre/support for homeowners, and loans through a Local Improvement Charge (LIC) mechanism for Burlington homeowners to improve home energy efficiency.
Council recently approved the Better Homes Burlington program coordinator position (one year contract) as part of the 2023 operating budget.

Better Homes Burlington – Concierge
The program coordinator will act as a concierge to provide assistance to homeowners as they consider options to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This role could be more significant than administering the BHB loan given the complexities for homeowners to navigate the home energy efficiency retrofit environment. The concierge will provide guidance on:

• Grants and incentives – Enbridge Gas has partnered with the federal government’s Greener Homes program to be the one stop shop for both the Greener Homes and Enbridge grants to support a wide range of home energy efficiency measures – Home Efficiency Rebate Plus (HER+)

• Financing – discussing options with homeowners for the best options to finance home energy efficiency retrofits (ie. financial institutions, the federal government’s Greener Homes loan program, Enbridge Sustain and/or Better Homes Burlington loan)

• Energy audits – provide guidance on the benefits of and how to arrange an EnerGuide Home Evaluation

• Energy Efficiency Measures – provide guidance on the types of measures which can improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint

• Contractors – offer guidance on how to find and retain contractor services for energy efficiency improvements
The program coordinator will also be responsible for community engagement activities to promote the benefits of home energy efficiency measures and the options available to homeowners, as noted above. Contractor engagement to promote the program will also be part of this role.

Jim Feilders, the owner of a home that is carbon neutral explains: ÈPutting it all together with the best data I could find, is shown in the chart below. It includes the “What if” we do nothing, called business as usual. You know, keep our heads in the sand and keep doing what we have always done. I’m not saying change is easy by any means.” Burlington GHG emmissions – source The obvious solution is to make the Community Energy Plan work – problem with that is we don’t know yet how to do that. Extrapolations for the CEP are less optimistic as most of the behavioural change will have occurred. With our CEP alone, we fall short.

Better Homes Burlington Loan
To implement the Better Homes Burlington pilot loan program, a bylaw is required to utilize the Local Improvement Charge (LIC) mechanism. In 2012, the provincial government amended the LIC regulation to permit municipalities to deliver home energy efficiency loans to homeowners, which can be repaid through property taxes.

A maximum of $10,000 will be offered to homeowners to support the installation of air source heat pumps and leak sealing. The target for the pilot project is 20 homes which currently rely on burning fossil fuels for a source of heating.

Eligibility criteria include:
• All registered owner(s) of the property must consent to participating in the Program;

• Property tax and all other payment obligations to the City of Burlington for the past five years must be in good standing;

• Owners must enroll in the pre-authorized property tax payment plan prior to approval for term of loan; and

• The owner must notify its mortgage lender (if applicable) of the owner’s intention to participate in the Program using the City of Burlington’s prescribed form.

• Note: homeowners with CMHC or other insured mortgages are ineligible to participate in the Program.

The maximum term for a loan will be 5 (five) years to be paid back with interest (prime rate). Through the LIC mechanism, the loan is tied to the property and can be transferred to new homeowners if a home is sold, however, most homeowners pay off the loan prior to selling. An administration fee will be charged in the amount of $50.00 (fifty dollars).

The program details for the Better Homes Burlington loan is summarized here:

1. Homeowners will be asked to contact the program coordinator to discuss eligibility for a loan. The program coordinator will provide information on all options available to homeowners to fund energy efficiency measures, such as grants, loans, the Home EnerGuide Assessment process, and how to find a contractor.

2. If the homeowner is eligible for a BHB loan and decides that this is the best option, they will be directed to obtain quotes for the work.

3. The homeowner will submit the information with a funding application to the City. The funding application will be reviewed by the program coordinator to confirm eligibility and once approved, a property owner agreement (POA) will be shared with the homeowner for signature, which will be signed by the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services (or designate).

4. Once the POA is executed, the homeowner can proceed with the proposed works and can submit the final report (project completion) to the City with the invoice.

5. If the amount differs from the original application, a revised schedule can be attached to the POA. The program coordinator will work with Finance staff to begin the loan process through the property tax system.

Jim Feilders turned his home into a carbon neutral house. He said: We need to replace gasoline vehicles with electric and hybrid models and transition our residential space heating and water heating from natural gas to electric inverter heat pump technology – air, water and ground sources. These technologies are actually less expensive on a life cycle basis than their fossil fuel alternatives.

The program will be promoted to homeowners throughout the summer with the opening of applications to occur in September. From the time homeowners receive funding approval, they will have six months to install the improvements (air source heat pump and leak sealing) with an opportunity to request a further extension (up to six months). Once the improvement is installed, the homeowner will submit the completion report to confirm the loan amount. The completion report will be reviewed by the program coordinator and the manager of environmental sustainability, and the loan will be processed. Loans will be added to the tax bill at the end of April 2024 to begin the repayment process. If the homeowner has not submitted the completion report in time to process a loan and add to the annual tax bill by April 2024, then the homeowner loan repayment will be added to the tax roll the following year (2025) for repayment.

By January 2024, the program coordinator and manager of environmental sustainability will review the loan application process to determine whether to recommend continuation, particularly given that loans are only added to the tax roll once per year.

Assessment of the pilot program will be based on overall interest in the program and number of applications received. If 20 loans have already been pre-approved by the end of January 2024, the pilot program will come to a close and will be assessed at that time.

Program Monitoring and Assessment
Metrics will be tracked to assess and monitor all aspects of the Better Homes Burlington program to report back to council in 2024 on the results, such as number of homeowners assisted, types of questions asked, number of community engagement activities and participation rates, and number of loans applied for and issued, and number of loans refused. In addition, staff will continue to collaborate with neighbouring municipalities and our extended networks to identify alternative measures for future consideration to support the transition off of the use of fossil fuels for thermal energy.

Financial Matters:
It is recommended that the Energy Initiatives Reserve Fund provide the source of funding to support homeowner loans through the LIC mechanism. Annual loan repayments by homeowners will be credited back to the reserve fund.

With the uncommitted balance currently at $185,000, along with the 2023 funding provided through the rooftop rental fees the City receives from three solar installations on City facilities of $25,000 per year, accounts for the $200,000 reserve fund requirement of the loan program. The reserve fund was originally established in 2015 to help fund energy efficiency initiatives in City facilities.

Total Financial Impact
Based on a cap of 20 loans for each homeowner at $10,000/resident, a total of $200,000 is required to support this program. In addition, Council approved $120,000 one-time funding for a one-year contract for a program coordinator position.

Staff time will be required from Finance in the property tax section to support on the tax eligibility criteria listed above and adding the loan to the property tax bill for repayment.

Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability

Engagement Matters:
A communications plan is being finalized with Communications staff to launch, promote and deliver the Better Homes Burlington program. Engagement activities to promote the program will include webinars, presentations and demonstrations in partnership with community stakeholders and networks. A website was created at the same time the Better Homes Burlington feasibility study was completed in partnership with the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College and will be launched in the near future with a media release.

The program will be voted on at the June 13th Council meeting.

The prime contact at this point is Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability 905-335-7600 x7931

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Ward 1 is the focus for the cartoon of the week

June 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

Our carton for the week.

Covers one of the biggest news stories this year.

And it probably isn’t over yet.

Our apologies to the Integrity Commissioner

The plan to publish a cartoon every week turned out to be easier said then done.

We will publish every second week and have the cartoon be the opening news item on the Sunday.

Cartoons are opinion intended to inform, educate and entertains readers.

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Heritage is now very much on the city's radar - council has yet to reach a clear consensus

By Pepper Parr

June 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Heritage has become a bigger issue for the current city council than anything the Gazette has seen in the past.

There was a situation recently where owners of a house on Lotus Street found that their house was going to be designated despite some significant differences of opinion on just how important a building it is from a heritage perspective.

We will cover that story in detail in a forthcoming article

By the end of the study, Burlington City Council will be presented with information to decide if any of the properties or landscapes assessed in the study should be specially recognized, heritage designated or be subject to any conservation regulations or policies. Council will also be asked to decide if the 26 properties added to the heritage register at the July 12, 2022 City Council meeting and the September 20, 2022 Council Meeting should continue to be listed on the heritage register or removed.

John O’Riley is the lead staff member on matters related to heritage. He reports that there are now six study areas, set out below, and eight individual properties that are being studied.

The tan coloured properties are the subject a close study.

 

 

One of the six study areas.

Another of the six study areas.

On Monday, June 19th, the City is hosting an evening consultation meeting at 7PM at Burlington City Hall with property owners in the following study areas:
• Foot of Brant Street;
• Village Square; and
• Downtown East.

Three of the eight properties that will get a detailed study are shown in tan.

On Wednesday, June 21st, the City is hosting an evening consultation meeting at 7PM at Burlington City Hall with property owners in the following study areas:
• Locust Street; and
• Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore Road.

The meetings are an important step in terms of letting people know what the city has in mind. Up until this point property owners didn’t know very much about what the city had in mind.

The debate will be interesting. There are those that are strong proponents of property right however they may not be able to carry the vote.

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Growth is taking place everywhere - Burlington is no longer an exception

By Staff

June 9th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Rising 73 and 84 storeys in the heart of the Toronto entertainment district, Forma is defined by its twisting form and a shimmering façade, which was designed to reflect the city’s light and colour. A unique addition to the downtown core, renderings reveal stacked steel boxes soaring into the sky.

Construction has finally begun on Frank Gehry’s highly anticipated Forma condos.

The Canadian architect’s first residential towers in the country and his tallest buildings in the world, the two-tower Forma will top off well above most downtown Toronto skyscrapers.

Well, thank goodness that  isn’t Burlington.

This is Burlington.

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GO train serving is going to be a little different during the weekend.

By Staff

June 9th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There will be a temporary service change on the Lakeshore West line between Oakville and West Harbour GO starting today at 9 p.m. until end of service on Sunday, June 11.

With lots of events planned in Toronto and around the region, we expect very high volumes of customers on our service. During this time, GO buses will replace train service between Oakville and West Harbour GO. GO train service will run as normal between Oakville and Union Station.

For customers travelling to Niagara, we encourage you to consider bypassing the bus replacement by travelling straight to Aldershot GO to begin your train trip to Niagara Falls. Alternatively, customers can take the Route 12 bus from Burlington to Niagara Falls. For those travelling to Toronto, we recommend travelling straight to Oakville GO to begin your train trip into Toronto.

Customers using bus shuttles will experience longer than normal travel times while transferring between trains and buses. Staff will be available at stations to answer questions.

What customers need to know:

To prepare for upcoming construction of the Burloak Drive grade separation, we need to move important infrastructure in the corridor. This can only be done when trains are not running. That is why starting today at 9 p.m. until end of service Sunday, June 11, buses will replace trains between Oakville and West Harbour GO.

Here is what customers need to know:

  • Normal GO train service will run between Union Station and Oakville GO.
  • Shuttle bus service will run only between Oakville and West Harbour GO stations.
  • Niagara Falls train service will start and end at Aldershot GO.
  • Train and bus connections for routes 12, 15, 18, and 21 will also be impacted.
  • Use gotransit.com or triplinx.ca to plan your trip

Regular service will resume Monday, June 12.

 

 

 

 

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Community gardens have been an ongoing success - now to find places for more of them

By Pepper Parr

June 9th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is a good news story and an example of what can be done when people come forward with an idea and, despite some foot dragging within a department, they manage to give birth to a program that has grown.

Michelle Bennett

It was back in 2012 when Michelle Bennett and Amy Schnurr delegated before council seeking support for a community for an idea. The two women had sourced some funds from the provincial government that was dependent on municipal support.

What was then the Parks and Recreation department didn’t have any money they could use and at the time didn’t appear to be all the excited about the idea.
Bennett and Schnurr convinced council that the municipal portion could be in kind and that worked.  The first community garden was up and running.

They have proven to be a success year after year.

A tireless advocate for the environment – Amy Schnurr speaking at the opening of the very first community garden.

Staff produced a report outlining where the program could go and what the costs would be.
Nothing was decided at the meeting on June 1st – it was filed and will come back when the next budget is crafted.

The challenge then will be to figure out how to keep the idea alive in a Burlington that is now becoming a very different city.
There are going to be thousands of people moving to the city and living in high rise buildings where there is very little in the way of plots of land that can be turned into community gardens.

Some very creative thinking is going to have to come out of Parks and Recreation that is now known as Recreation, Community and Culture which is now led by a Emilie Cote who has shown that she can get things done and has so far come up with some very creative ideas that appear to have motivated staff in that department.

In the Staff report we learned that “The benefits of any community garden provision are well documented in social, mental and physical health materials. The residents of Burlington also agree as we continue to see increased demand for the community garden program. Throughout the pandemic years, there was a substantial increase in those seeking a garden plot.”

The Lutheran church in east Burlington has had a community garden for some time. It was a pattern for the community gardens now established in Central Park

What started as a two-year pilot project in 2012 with one 30-plot garden operated by Burlington Green Environmental Organization on City-owned land. At the conclusion of the pilot in 2013, operational management shifted to the City and two more gardens were added to the inventory.

There are now five gardens with a total of 231 rent-able plots and supported by one Community Garden Coordinator.

The city has pledged to create 29,000 new homes.  Most of those people will live in high rise buildings. Hopefully someone somewhere will find a way to make community garden space a part of every development that is approved.

Over the past few years, staff focused marketing the Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund to encourage community to lead small projects around gardens being built in housing complexes and private lands.

In 2021 staff updated the zoning by-law to allow food gardens on any property, private or public; thus removing any zoning barriers to residential, institutional, or commercial property where people would like to have a food garden.

Staff offered consultation services to develop new gardens with schools to establish school-based gardens, condo and apt buildings, faith land resulting in Glad Tidings community garden at Mount Nemo Farm. There was an expansion at St. Christopher’s and developer land on Brant that where Grow4Change is struggling to get that operational this year,

The current operating model is no longer sustainable with just one dedicated staff person. Roads, Parks and Forestry (RPF) staff maintains the infrastructure and delivers materials annually in the spring but does not have the capacity to play a role in the day-to-day maintenance operations. Any new expansion of community gardens would require additional funding for operating and capital support.

The Community garden lots were laid out waiting for clients with seeds. The season turned out to be abundant both for garden lot users and BurlingtonGreen.

Also, there are now competing interests for the limited green space in City Parks. The Parks, Recreation and Culture Assets Master Plan (PRCAMP) update will assess the variety of community needs for green space and make the comparison on asset other municipalities to assess comparable service levels.

During the 2020 COVID Experience, the community garden service was the first to re- open by June with brand new COVID protocols. Four part-time Garden Assistant positions were created for four months when POA staff were redeployed to the community gardens. This experience highlighted the need for Garden Assistant positions as the maintenance of the garden areas and friendly customer service were much improved by their efforts.

The community garden operations got through the pandemic and service levels went back to pre-pandemic levels without additional staff assistance beyond the one dedicated Garden Coordinator.

In 2021, Park Ambassadors were instructed to add the community gardens to their routes to provide customer service.

In 2022, a summer student Sports Field Ambassador was co-opted to become a part-time Garden Assistant. The additional 15-20 hours per week was unfortunately insufficient even though the student was excellent.

The deteriorating maintenance situation created anxiety and stress for staff. The Recreation, Community and Culture (RCC) department sourced $8,500 unbudgeted funds to pay a local landscaping company to provide a one-time maintenance fix due to the complaints.

For 2023, service improvement efforts will be piloted to compensate for no approved increase in the operational or capital budget for the service:

A volunteer opportunity via Better Impact will be piloted. This may prove helpful if there is enough interest, however, any volunteers must be supervised by city staff so a coordinated schedule will be required between volunteers and the Garden Coordinator and depend on volunteer availability.

RCC staff are investigating offering camp staff the opportunity to work in May and June as Garden Assistants prior to the July/August camp season.  Staff have reallocated funds from other areas to make this possible; however, this model of reallocation is not sustainable long term.

Grant applications to Canada Summer Jobs and the Ontario Parks and Rec Association have been submitted for three Garden Assistant positions to help with short term need for current service. This is dependent on whether submissions are approved and sourcing and redirecting RCC funds to supplement wages.   A long term solution will still be needed for future years and any expansion.

There is a demonstrated desire to expand the community garden program. However, to do this, there needs to be additional funds added to the current operating dollars to maintain the current inventory for maintenance and staff and/or a change to the operating model with the alignment of the required budget to expand the garden service.

To maintain a sustainable community garden program options are being considered.

Option 1 – Community Group Based

The Community Group Based option is considered when there is an identified group willing to deliver a community gardens service – This was negotiated with BurlingtonGreen in 2013/14 which provided a proposal to act as a vendor to provide this service to the City. However, the negotiations were not successful, hence operation moved to City’s care and control ever since 2014.

Option 2 – Service Provider

The Service Provider option is considered when there is an identified vendor willing to provide some of the community gardens service – This model would split the responsibilities between City staff and a vendor with the maintenance expertise. City staff would manage the plot registration and assignment, customer experience and oversee community garden development. The service provider such as a landscape company would provide the necessary maintenance and upkeep the garden inventory.

Option 3 – Enhanced City Direct Operation

The Enhanced Model for Operation by adding in financial and HR resources and a mechanism for moving to a sustainable model for delivery – This model would be scalable and would manage the current demand and future growth of community garden service. It would consist of the following additions to the current model:

• A team of four Garden Assistants for summer student positions.
• Build a robust garden volunteer program.
• Bring current operating dollars to a sustainable value for the service with continually inflationary costs added to subsequent budgets.

Staff are looking to move to an enhanced model of regular operation for summer 2024 and beyond as the most sustainable model for operating community gardens in current state.

For any capital garden projects, develop a capital planning process for expansion with the appropriate operating dollars for supplies, equipment and staff also factored into the project.

Council makes both capital and operating investments in the community garden program. The section below is a high-level overview of the investment per garden, the overall annual operating cost and annual revenues.

Annual operating costs include the Community Garden Coordinator, operating costs to cover supplies costs provided by the Roads, Parks and Forestry department (RPF) and revenues from the plot rental. For 2023, the total net impact is $78,822.

Capital Investment
Capital renewal of the asset happens every 5 years with a budget of $30,000 per site.

For any capital expansion such as a new garden, capital costs include the total project budget consisting of design, construction and associated project costs. For example,
$170,000 is the planned project budget for a new garden at Nelson Park with 37 plots forecasted in 2024.

Once developments like this are populated finding space for a community garden will have been lost. This is the time to find space for the gardens.

Proposed Estimation for Business Case
In order to maintain the existing service level, an estimation for additional funding would be $25,000 – $40,000 for items to support daily operations, to include:

• 4 PT seasonal staff ($25,000 – $36,000)
• Inflationary increases for supplies and equipment ($4,000)

For 2025, any additional funds required to cover operating costs (staff, supplies and equipment) will be requested for the Nelson Garden expansion. Any further garden builds will be pending the outcome of the PRCAMP strategy to guide any expansion requirements and site selection. As mentioned, any new capital investments will include operating budget dollars for equipment, supplies and PT staffing dollars.

Other Resource Impacts
Staff from RPF, part-time summer day camps staff from recreation and customer service from recreation support the community garden’s ongoing operations in addition to the full-time Community Garden Coordinator. In addition, the community garden also uses the support of the RCC marketing team and corporate communications to assist in getting information out about the gardens and program for resident awareness. In addition, the water cost is covered within the park maintenance budget.

Staff will be putting forward a business case through the 2024 RCC and RPF operational budgets.

Could all that space on the outskirts of the Bateman site that be turned into community gardens – better than using it for parking spaces.

Is there room at the back of the former Bateman High School property for a community garden? Had the city held meetings for the public to have input on how that community hub would be developed community gardens would have been mentioned.

RCC and RPF staff will review the most economical option to improve the service maintenance level by increasing staff complement for the community garden service in the 2024 operating budget. This would be in alignment with for the next needed community garden at Nelson Park in ward four in the 2024 capital forecast. This next garden would take demand pressure off the Central Park community garden and expand the service into the south-east area. With the current five gardens and potential for a sixth community garden additional staff are needed to properly maintain these assets.

The Community Gardens initiative came from the community – not city hall.  Hopefully city council will turn to the community for input on how this very successful program should evolve.

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Tech Place – what it does

By Staff

June 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For members of City Council who wondered what Tech Place does – a report on how they celebrated their 5th anniversary during their s first large public event since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were celebrating the start-up and growth of new businesses in Burlington.

With more than 100 in attendance, the event featured several companies that have directly benefited from TechPlace. 3Terra, one of the first companies admitted to the LaunchPad program, increased their revenue by 60% while at TechPlace.

“TechPlace gave us a great home in the early days of scaling our business,” said Richard Obuhowich, Founder and COO at 3Terra. “It gave us professional meeting space, great energy from fellow entrepreneurs, and many useful educational sessions to help build our business knowledge.”

Companies like Iris R&D also saw substantial revenue growth while part of the LaunchPad program. The company was also able to tap into more than $5 million in funding through support from Haltech Regional Innovation Centre, who is co-located at TechPlace.

Haltech Regional Innovation Centre and Angel One Investor Network were both part of TechPlace since day 1. Over the last five years, their support of the local innovation and entrepreneurship community has grown significantly through additional mentorship and new programs. Haltech has delivered more than 1400 hours of mentorship in the space, as well as hosted more than 200 events. Angel One has completed more than 40 investments since 2017, and became a founding member of Equation Angels.

“TechPlace remains the cornerstone of our innovation and entrepreneurship strategy,” said Anita Cassidy, Executive Director, Burlington Economic Development. “With the support of partners across the private and public sectors, we are very proud of what we have accomplished over the last five years, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are launching new programs that will put attracting international start-ups at the forefront. As we plan for the next five years and beyond, we will continue to focus on delivering the critical infrastructure the start-up community depends on to grow.”

TechPlace is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm and more information can be found at techplace.ca. Information about the new Acceleration+ program, which was announced August 17, can be found at accelerationplus.ca.

Related news story:

What might Council do with Tech Place?

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The scam scum are now using well known respected brand names to lure you in. You need to be vigilant.

By Staff

June 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON. ON

 

An attentive reader sent us an example of the stuff the scan scum use to try and steal your money.

Until better security is created it is up to each person to be careful when they respond to an email.

Always look at the address the email came from and if it looks suspicious it probably is/

Here is what our reader got.

 

Can you see the mistakes?

Look closely at the address:

The email came from an address out of Poland.

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Citizen engagement: Just show up, SIT THERE, SAY NOTHING, AND DO NOTHING.

By Pepper Parr

June 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember her? When she was just a citizen Marianne Meed Ward delegated frequently. What happened – was she just padding a resume ? And look at the number of people in the Council Chamber.

From a dedicated reader:

If you have had enough of COB’s engagement record, it may be time for the real Engaged Citizens of Burlington to join together en masse for an engagement sit-in at a COB council meeting?

Just show up, SIT THERE, SAY NOTHING, AND DO NOTHING.

Why?

Speech is silver, silence is golden.

Where is ECoB when you need them ?

Speaking of engaged citizens, the Gazette uses a number of analytics to learn where are readers come from, what they read when they are at the Gazette and where they go when they have finished reading.  How many articles have they read and how many times habve they visited the newspaper ?

We ave no idea who the reader is – just that they read the Gazette.

Some of the data:

 

This reader has visited the Gazette 2605 times – the data for this visit whow what was being read.

This reader is close to their 4000th visit Somewhere in the data there is a reader who has read the Gazette more than 8000 times

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Newly elected school board trustee takes his seat

By Staff

June 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board trustees welcomed and observed the swearing in on the newest trustee.

Robbie Brydon will be a welcome addition to the Board that has a heavy agenda ahead of it.

It is going to be interesting to see how Mr.Brydon does as the trustees wade through budgets and take a deep look into the longer term program.

School boards come under the thick thumb of the Ministry of Education; Brydon has a considerable amount of experience working with senior levels of government.

Newly elected Burlington wards 1&2 school board trustee Robbie Brydon with Director of Education Ennis Curtis.

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Burlington Public Library Launches New Reading Garden

By Staff

June 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Friday June 9th, Burlington Public Library will be officially launching its new Reading Garden.

Friday June 9th, 2 p.m. sharp to 2:30 p.m.

Burlington Public Library, Central Branch 2331 New St. Burlington, Ontario

Following the official ceremony, the garden will be open to the public for a celebratory open house from 2:30 p.m. to 4
p.m.

A quiet place to read in a neglected nook at the New Street library.

Masks will be available for attendees concerned about air quality.

About the Burlington Public Library Reading Garden
Reading and spending time outdoors are two great passions for Burlington residents; they are being combined at Burlington Public Library’s Central Branch.

Converting a neglected nook into a public reading garden was one of the Library’s sesquicentennial anniversary projects.

Work began in 2022 during the library’s 150th anniversary celebrations and was supported by in-kind donations from businesses in the community.

The Reading Garden is nestled into a courtyard and is surrounded by views of the Library’s vast collection of books. It features a spectacular variegated beech tree and benches for reading and relaxing.

The garden will be accessible through the library during the branch’s open hours.

It will be open to the public when daylight and weather permits.

 

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Delegate suggests paid parking at Bateman - slams council for constantly changing delivery dates.

By Staff

June 7th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Jim Thompson delegates frequently – he is currently focused on the Bateman project.

Last week he had a list of things that were not working out all that well

Delegator Jim Thomson going through his list of things that are not being done on the Bateman project. He suggested that the city require people to pay for parking.

At the April council meeting the mayor stated that the project was on time and on budget. She was only half right. The schedule presented in December had Phase 1 occupancy at September 2024, not September 2025. The schedule slipped by a year. I’m surprised that none of you asked any questions about the slippage in the schedule and how this affects the project cash flow. I assume the tenants won’t start paying rent until they move in. Counselor worries about $20,000 for a city wide mailing but ignores the cost of the years delay in occupancy. I also note that the December schedule had already slipped by a year from the initial schedule that showed everything being done by September 2023. That schedule slipped due to the time taken to negotiate the purchases. So I guess that’s okay.

Both the initial schedule and the December schedule were presented as Gantt charts – those useful charts were dropped from the April report. I guess it would have made it too obvious that the project schedule had slipped.

When Counsellor Kearns asked for a timeline for the milestones and decision points for the balance of the project, I would have expected this to be presented as a Gantt chart rather than a bunch of dates and a table. I don’t actually see any decision points listed in the table.

At the public meeting last year it was stated that traffic studies would be done in Phase 2. I don’t see any reference to traffic studies at all. How does the number of extra users impact congestion on New Street and Appleby Line?

I’m disappointed in this draft plan. I expected to see a complete plan that gave dates for the two public information sessions that council directed to take place in Q3. The only date is the Food for Feedback event which isn’t actually looking for feedback is just to inform the public of engagement opportunities. No actual feedback is expected.

There’s no consult in the engagement. The document states that the engagement began in spring 2022 with the creation of a project site, a survey was started and quickly paused and never restarted. How’s that for engagement?

I guess the initial results of the survey weren’t what the city hoped for. Okay, the project page has a Q&A section that is filled with non answers. When I looked at it in preparation for this meeting, I was struck by the number of questions regarding the green space that were posed five and six months ago. The reply to all of them was that council has directed staff to review the parking issue. That direction only came in March. So basically the question went unanswered for two to three months. That’s engagement ?.

I found this to be typical of the current situation at City Hall.

Last year, it took six months for someone to get around to answering a question I posted through Service Burlington. I’m currently waiting two months for a case number to be assigned to the question I posed through Service Burlington. And that’s after complaining that I didn’t get a case number. I was told I’d get a response soon.

Jim Thomson delegating while Daintry Klien waits patiently for her delegation to start.

Okay, with regards to the policies and factors that cannot be influenced. Option 2 states due to expanded use of the facility anticipated additional parking will be required and that may result in the loss of green space. If that’s a given, then the staff direction regarding parking is a farce. . The decision has already been made and the staff direction is just window dressing. The key parking space message is that you’re going to communicate more parking as needed. Why? You’re supposed to be looking at the future and transit and moving people away from cars, building parking just encourages commuting. So I guess the communication tactic is to stress the need for more parking. So to make it palatable to the public when the cost comes due when staff reports.

I’m going to suggest that you need to add paid parking as one of the issues to be put in place. When I go to courses at Mohawk College I had to pay for parking; when I use the Engineering Library at McMaster – I have to pay for parking. When I come here to delegate I have to pay for parking. When I go to Joseph Brant Hospital, I have to pay for parking. So there’s a revenue stream – paid parking at Bateman.

In the key messages for the outdoor green space planning residents are asked to provide their thoughts on what should be done with the space available within the limits of budget and services. What are the limits?

Who’s making those decisions? And if this is really about engagement, why will there be a walking walking path through the green space? Who decided? Isn’t that what the public consultation is for?
Those are my comments. Thank you for your time.

Thank you very much, Jim. I don’t see that you have any questions at this time. So thank you for your delegation.

Council was prepared to tolerate Thomson and let it go at that.

 

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