BPAC and Sound of Music - that's a No Brainer

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When the question was put to a senior person at city hall the answer was – that’s a “no-brainer”.

The situation Tammy Fox was considering was a tighter working relationship with Sound of Music (SoM).  For the most part the Performing Arts Centre didn’t have all that much going when the SoM was taking place – why not make the two stages available to them?

And why couldn’t Fox handle much of the talent that SoM attracts.  She knows, better than a lot of people, who is who in the arts and entertainment world.

Before taking on the management of a performing arts centre she was an agent for a significant number of actors, singers, musicians – experience that was badly needed at SoM

The conversations with the SoM people went very well.

The public won’t see much in the way of detail until SoM is closer to announcing their 2024 program.

There is a lot of upside and not much in the way of downside.

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Exploring Burlington's Online Payment Preferences: From Cryptocurrency to Conventional Methods

 

By Jerome Blazer

March 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In Burlington, Ontario, residents have embraced various methods of payment for their online purchases, which is quite normal considering we all have a diverse range of preferences and priorities. Among these options, cryptocurrency has emerged as a notable contender, capturing the interest of tech-savvy individuals and enthusiasts eager to explore alternative financial avenues.

Despite its growing popularity, the use of cryptocurrency for online transactions remains relatively niche in Burlington, with traditional payment methods still reigning supreme for most residents.

According to recent data, while some Burlingtonians have dabbled in cryptocurrency for online purchases, its adoption rate for everyday transactions remains modest. However, for those intrigued by the decentralized nature of digital currencies and the potential for anonymity in online transactions, cryptocurrency presents an enticing option. Blockchain technology is offering convenience and security that many would like to explore, not to mention the appeal of innovation.

Notably, cryptocurrency’s popularity extends beyond mere online purchases. A segment of the community is expressing interest in its application to online gambling. With the allure of instantaneous transactions and potential anonymity, some residents have turned to cryptocurrency as a preferred method for engaging in online betting and gaming activities. While employing cryptocurrency for online gambling presents distinct advantages for Canadian players, such as expedited withdrawals and heightened privacy, it also entails specific considerations. Some of them are fluctuating exchange rates and regulatory ambiguities, which are particularly relevant to Canadian players.

Anonymity in online transactions: cryptocurrency presents an enticing option.

Despite the allure of cryptocurrency, Burlingtonians predominantly rely on conventional payment methods for their online purchases. Credit and debit cards remain the go-to choice for many residents since they offer familiarity, convenience, and widespread acceptance across online retailers. With established infrastructure and robust security measures in place, credit and debit cards provide a sense of trust and reliability to Burlington’s online shoppers.

Another popular payment method is e-wallets. E-wallets have gained traction among Burlington’s tech-savvy populace, offering a convenient and streamlined payment solution for online transactions. Services like PayPal and Apple Pay provide a seamless checkout experience. They are known to allow users to store payment information securely and make purchases with a single click. E-wallets are particularly popular among individuals seeking added convenience and efficiency in managing their online finances.

Traditional banking methods such as online bank transfers and electronic bill payments continue to serve as staple options for Burlington residents conducting online transactions. These methods have proven reliability and are accessible worldwide, so it’s no wonder that they are still the preferred choice for online shopping adventures.

As you can see, Burlington’s online payment landscape reflects a diverse array of preferences. Residents are utilizing a mix of traditional and innovative methods to conduct their online purchases. While cryptocurrency holds promise as a burgeoning payment option, its adoption remains gradual. For now, conventional methods like credit cards, e-wallets, and online banking continue to dominate the local online commerce scene. As technology evolves and consumer preferences evolve, Burlingtonians will undoubtedly continue to explore new avenues for making their online transactions both convenient and secure.

 

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City administration moves into a defensive mode; using police and security people to maintain order

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The occasion that is being described took place the day the city administration took steps to bar an individual from attending a Council meeting.  It was more than a month ago.

The decision to prevent the individual from attending a Council meeting was justified.  The person’s behaviour had over time become less than polite.  On at least one occasion he shouted out while someone else was delegating. There is no record of how the person was advised that he could no longer take part in a live council meeting.  He was told that he could take part virtually and has done so for the past month.

He was never a threat – he did need some help.

What people who were attending began to notice was the presence of police and a significant number of private security people in and around city hall.

Stairway to Council Chamber.

They were in the lobby, they were in the foyer outside the Council Chamber and they were outside the building.

One person who was travelling to city hall to attend the meeting told the Gazette that he is not certain but at one point as he was driving from his home in the eastern side of the city he noticed there were two police cruisers that he thought were following.

“They were behind me all the way to city hall and they stayed at City hall.”

The citizen walked up the stairway to the Council Chamber level and entered.  As he was doing so he passed City Manager Tim Commisso.

“If looks could kill – I was dead” was the way the citizen described what took place. “The glare from Commisso was profound as well as unsettling.”

The person the city wanted to keep out of the Council Chamber, justifiably so we thought, based on what we saw on the web casts.  What wasn’t justified was the way the city administration ramped up a reaction that was  out of proportion to what needed to be done.

Mayor Meed Ward with a graphic that she approved.

Since that event the Council member Chairing a meeting now reads out statements that are far from welcoming.  The Mayor has been doing this for some time.

Councillor Shawna Stolte

Councillor Stolte read out this Statement before the start of a Statutory meeting:

All public attendees must maintain order and not engage in any behavior that may be considered disruptive.  No person will use indecent offensive or insulting language or speak disrespectfully to anyone in council chambers.

 

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Performing Arts Centre has worked through its governance issues, now reviewing Board applications and sitting on a $4 million surplus

By Pepper Parr

March 11th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Performing Arts Centre building is owned by the City.

It is leased to the organization that puts on the events that take place at BPAC.

BPAC Executive Director Tammy Fox; eight years on the job during which she got the organization through the pandemic and to the point where it shows a small profit each year.

BPAC is run by Executive Director Tammy Fox who reports to a Board of Directors.

Late last year the wheels fell off and we saw Tammy Fox appearing before city Council explaining that she sort of didn’t really have a functioning Board of Directors.

Rick Burgess, once a candidate for Mayor of Burlington being presented a recognition award by Burlington MP Karina Gould with support from Mayor Meed Ward.

Rick Burgess, who has served as Chair of the Board on a number of occasions, appeared before Council at which all this was debated; it was difficult to get a direct answer from Burgess.

That resulted in the city single sourcing Dr. Richard Leblanc to conduct the independent governance review that was to a review of BPAC board documents, interviews with BPAC board members and BPAC management.

Things like this are always done in CLOSED sessions of Council

The BPAC Board of Directors has reviewed the governance report and accepted the recommendations. As a board, they are taking full responsibility for adopting the practices and protocols necessary to enhance the governance of BPAC; as can be expected, implementation of the recommendations will occur over a period of time.

A call for nominations to the BPAC Board went out – they closed February 16th.

Ken Smithard is the current BPAC Board Chair

Currently, Ken Smithard is Board Chair, Ed Rafih is Vice Chair, Peter W. Van Dyk – Interim Finance Chair, Deirdre A. Flynn – Secretary, Councillor Angelo Bentivegna represents the City on the Board, Kelly Gleeson, Cindy Palmer are Board members. Emilie Cote, Director of Recreation, Community and Culture is also on the Board representing Burlington’s City Manager.

Rick Burgess is not a member of the Board at this time.

Burlington Theatre Board Inc., commonly referred to as the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (“BPAC”), currently operates from the City owned facility located at 440 Locust Street The City has leased the site to the Theatre Board. There is also a Relationship Agreement between the parties.

Prior to the November Council meetings the City became aware of issues respecting the overall governance and oversight of BPAC generally and the ongoing stability of board of directors specifically inclusive of the turnover of volunteer board members.

Burlington Council representatives on the board was Councillor Bentivegna.  It was the Bentivegna Notice of Motion that brought the BPAC issues th Council.

The city brought on an external consultant to establish a comprehensive accountability framework for agencies, boards and commissions. That report, paid for by BPAC, was accepted and is being implemented.

The City’s immediate focus and purpose was to stabilize and enhance the overall board governance capacity.

The BPAC provides a vitally important community service to the residents of the City of Burlington The City provides significant tax supported funding annually to BPAC which in the 2024 budget is proposed in the amounts of $1,102,006 – operating grant and $63,200 – capital contribution.

BPAC turned a profit of about $800,000.00 and are sitting on a surplus of almost $4 million at the end of 2022.

The 2023 numbers are not yet available.

 

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Millcroft Land Tribunal hearing at the end of week 1

By Pepper Parr

March 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is an Ontario Land Tribunal hearing that could result in the destroying of a community – it has that much riding on it.

The infrastructure that was put in place for the golf course could be damaged were 98 new houses added to the site argues the community. The OLT will decide if the development can take place.

Scheduled as a 19 day event, there is not yet much in the way of a clear picture; opening statements from all the parties and a series of Millcroft Greens’ expert witnesses have been heard. The areas covered were non-opinion overview, Environmental Planning, Ecology, Landscape, and Geotech.

 The hearings resume on Tuesday of this week

Developer

Community Group

Community Group

There are two community groups opposed to the application made by the developer, Millcroft Greens.  The unfortunate part of this is that the two groups are indeed singing from the same hymn book but not reading the same music.  The result is that they each have their own agenda and each is in the process of raising funds to pay for the experts that are called in as witnesses – by the time this is over they will have spent $150,000.

The City is onside but hasn’t delivered on several levels, Conservation Halton was at the table but pulled away on Wednesday when they said in a prepared statement that

Conservation Halton reviewed the Millcroft Greens applications based on our regulatory responsibilities under Ontario Regulation 162/06 (i.e., hazard and wetland related matters) and our provincially delegated responsibilities under Ontario Regulation 686/21 (e.g., review planning applications to ensure they do not conflict with the natural hazard policies of the Provincial Policy Statement).

As such, based on our review of the materials submitted, CH staff is satisfied that the submission addresses any fundamental natural hazard or wetland related comments and that any remaining comments can be addressed through Draft Plan Conditions. For this reason, CH did not submit Witness Statements nor reply statements.

The Conservation Authority is in place partially  to ensure that a close watch is maintained over the flow of water through the 13 creeks that feed into Lake Ontario. 

 The Regional government’s interests in this hearing include:Regional Natural Heritage System and demonstrating the ability to establish appropriate limits of development as it relates to Area A;

Ensuring impacts to the Regional Road network and access as it relates to Area E are able to be addressed;

Appropriate extensions to water and wastewater servicing to accommodate the proposed development can be achieved; and,

That appropriate approvals can be obtained as it relates to investigations regarding the potential for site contamination.

Through the review and OLT processes these matters have been reviewed and the Region is working towards having them addressed with the applicant through the implementation of appropriate conditions of approval or planning instruments (such as holding provisions).   It should be noted that the Region has been working diligently throughout the OLT hearing with City staff and legal representatives to ensure they are fully aware of how the Region is managing these matters.

Jennifer Lawrence left Conservation Halton as a planner in 2013

Some people have expressed concerns that Jennifer Lawrence, the environmental planner for Millcroft Greens, was a former employee of Conservation Halton.  It is not unusual for a planner to move from the public sector to the private sector.

The light yellow areas are where new development would take place.

Lawrence, in her testimony said that there are no flooding concerns on areas B – E of the proposed development. When asked if there were any flooding what the impact would be on the ability to get any insurance coverage Lawrence said she was not an expert on insurance matters and could not respond to the question.

Concerns were expressed about some sponsorship support given to the Conservation Halton Foundation.  Both Argo, the people behind the Millcroft Green organization and the Mattamy Group were financial sponsors for the 2023 Foundation Fundraising Gala.

Sponsorship of Conservation Halton Foundation events is not a conflict. CH and the Foundation are seperate organizations.

The Conservation Halton Foundation is in place to raise funds for Conservation Halton that are not possible with the budget CA has.

CH does have representation on the Foundation Board – it is not a majority and it does not set the agenda for the Foundation.

The OLT hearings are public.

Nothing exciting – sort of like watching paint dry.

The outcome could be anything but exciting – a way of life and 4000 people.

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Russ Garth Campbell: A wise voice that will not be heard again.

By Pepper Parr

March 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We learned earlier today of the passing of Russ Campbell. A wise voice that will not be heard again. A friend who will not be able to take a call.

Photography came to Russ Campbell easily; a natural eye and an ability to time the taking of the picture.

Russ was many things to many people – the comments on his Facebook page attest to that.

Russell Garth Campbell came to Canada at the age of 15 from Jamaica and literally married the girl next door, raised two children and lived a full life.

There wasn’t a day in the life he lived that he wasn’t learning something new.  He was part of the world of information technology in the early days when punch cards were how data was fed into computer.

He learned that he needed to know more and studied to become an accountant earning a Certified General Accountant (CGA) designation and worked as a Vice President Finance for a company in the food sector.

Russ was troubled by the shift in the way we conversed with each other politically and how political life was becoming polarized

When those who read his political thinking wanted something more conservative Russ decided that wasn’t the kind of conservative he was and shut it down; civilized to the end.

His final years were punctuated with illness that he managed bravely.

Link to a previous story.

Do the things that are important now

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Neoliberal economic policies which transformed the welfare state began in Canada with Mulroney

By Alexandre Dumas

March 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mulroney government (1984–1993) was a contemporary of the Reagan administration (1981–1989) in the United States and the Thatcher government (1979–1990) in the United Kingdom. All three were characterized by their neoliberal economic policies, which transformed the welfare state that their predecessors had taken decades to build.

So-called “Reagonomics” and Thatcherism were defined by a distrust of the planned economy, government corporations and universal welfare. Reagan made his mark with the famous quote: “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government IS the problem.”

Generally speaking, neoliberalism blames a sprawling, intrusive state for undermining the economy. The economic recessions of 1975 and 1982 seemed to confirm this. Both Reagan and Thatcher championed trickle-down economics: when companies prosper, workers get richer and all of society benefits.

Brian Mulroney showed the same colors from the start of his first mandate, creating the Ministry of State for Privatization and Regulatory Affairs in 1986, a portfolio entrusted to Barbara McDougall. Taking up the project from his predecessor, then prime minister Joe Clark, Mulroney began the withdrawal of the Canadian state as a producer of goods and provider of services.

When the Conservatives came to power, the federal government owned 67 Crown corporations, with a combined value of $50 billion. Nine companies were privatized under Mulroney, including Air Canada, Canadair, Canadian Arsenals and Teleglobe (now a subsidiary of India’s Tata Communications). Privatization of Petro-Canada and Canadian National began (and was completed under the Chrétien and Martin governments).

The “good” and the “bad” poor

From the third government of William Lyon Mackenzie King (1935–1948) to the second government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1980–1984), the welfare state had not been seriously challenged. On the contrary, social assistance, particularly universal health insurance, had become one of the features that set Canada apart from the United States in the eyes of Canadians. Today, it remains one of the cornerstones of Canadian identity.

Let’s recall some of the milestones in the construction of the Canadian welfare state: the Unemployment Insurance Act in 1940, the Family Allowance Program in 1944, the Old Age Security Act in 1952, the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act in 1957, the Canada Pension Plan and Guaranteed Income Supplement in 1965, and the Medical Care Act in 1966.

The 1970s saw no further major initiatives, but programs were reformed to reach more Canadians, and to ensure that basic needs of the population were met.

One of the Mulroney government’s objectives was to improve the strained relations between Canada and the United States that had marked the Trudeau era. The 1987 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) required a semblance of economic uniformity. Competition between companies in the two countries would have been distorted if Canadian companies could afford to offer lower wages, thanks to the existence of social programs that would have offset the income of Canadians. Completely aligning Canada with the U.S. by weakening the welfare state to the American level would not have been a winning formula for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Instead, the Mulroney government ended the universality of some welfare programs, reducing some of the differences between the two countries.

Like most of his Conservative contemporaries, Mulroney presented the failure of the welfare state to eliminate poverty as proof of the need for fundamental reform. A line was drawn between the “good poor,” those in real need of state assistance, and the “bad poor,” those who take advantage of the system. The problem was not that social programs were running out of money, but that layabouts, crooks and people who didn’t need the money were absorbing resources.

“Does the man who makes $500,000 a year as bank president need to collect family allowances?” asked Mulroney at a town hall meeting in Vancouver in 1984. The example was extreme, but the message was clear: Some Canadians were receiving government welfare without needing it.

Starting in 1944, all Canadian families had received the same family allowance, regardless of their financial situation. As of 1989, some families had to repay their family allowance, depending on their income. In 1993, the Conservative government abolished universal family allowances, replacing them with the Child Tax Benefit, a selective program available only to low-income households. This new program was presented at the time as an incentive for women to stay at home.

Other programs were slimmed down with the stated official objective to reduce the deficit. Eligibility rules for the employment insurance program were tightened to serve fewer workers; benefit rates were lowered and weeks of eligibility were cut. Old Age Security payments were reduced, based on income. Federal participation in provincial social assistance programs was reduced. Universal benefits were replaced by tax credits.

Their main beneficiaries were not low-income families. The Canadian tax has become increasingly complex, and only a minority of people are able to benefit from all the tax advantages to which they are entitled.

The government’s official objective was always to give more aid to the truly needy, while cutting off assistance to those who were not. There was also a desire to prevent state financial assistance from discouraging recipients from working. “Unemployment insurance was not designed to become a system of income support and supplementation,” states the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Unemployment Insurance, tabled in 1986.

Discreet, more modest dismantling

According to journalist Linda McQuaig, Mulroney was a quiet disciple of Reagan and Thatcher. While the American and British governments dismantled the welfare state with great fanfare in the name of the economy, Mulroney quietly attacked it, always insisting that the reforms were aimed at a more effective fight against poverty.

When it came to privatization, however, the government was so sure it was rowing in the direction of public opinion that the official discourse exaggerated the scale of the movement. Not only did the government privatize fewer companies than had been officially announced, but new Crown corporations were created under the Mulroney Conservatives without great fanfare.

The Mulroney years were only the beginning of the decline of the Canadian welfare state. Liberals Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin ended the Canada Assistance Plan and reformed the Employment Insurance program to make it even more restrictive. Between 1993 and 2002, the proportion of unemployed people eligible for EI fell from 57 per cent to 38 per cent. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government raised the minimum age for entitlement to Old Age Security to 67 (a measure since cancelled by the Trudeau government).

By transforming universal programs into selective ones, the Mulroney government changed the spirit of the Canadian welfare state. Liberals and Conservatives alike sought to provide the absolute minimum. They sought to reduce state financial assistance as much as possible, without placing more Canadians below the poverty line. The objective was to save the truly needy without risk of shrinking the labour pool, and to avoiding wasteful spending. Mulroney’s policies may have been less radical than Thatcher’s or Reagan’s, but they opened a door that future governments would walk through.

Alexandre Dumas has a doctorate in history from McGill University. His book L’Église et la politique de Taschereau à Duplessis (MQUP, 2019) was a finalist for the political book prize of the National Assembly of Quebec. He is a lecturer for the Universités du Québec network.

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Five-month investigation paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

By Staff

March 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Five-month investigation, paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

A report released by the Ottawa and Ontario Health Coalitions contains shocking revelations about the ownership and management behind private health clinics in Ottawa. Based on a five-month investigation, Freedom of Information requests, corporate filings, interviews and court records, the report paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

The report centres on the South Keys clinic featured in a flurry of media reports last fall when its “Clinical Director” announced that patients would be required to pay a $400 annual fee to access primary care by a nurse practitioner.

The report is 85 pages long – we need some time to dig through the details.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones has yet to deliver on a promised investigation.

At the time, Health Minister Sylvia Jones promised an investigation, noted the Coalition. No update has been forthcoming and the Health Coalition reports it conducted its own inquiry into the clinic resulting in three major findings, as follows:

A review of the two key statutes establishing the legal rights of Ontarians to primary health care services confirms that the $400 per year fee recently introduced by the South Keys clinic is unlawful.

The Coalition called on the Ford government to stop stalling and enforce Ontario’s and Canada’s Public Medicare protection laws.

The Coalition called for an investigation into the charges levied on patients, and said that the scope of this investigation must be expanded to examine the ownership and management of the South Keys clinic and another Ottawa clinic co-owned by the same individual.

The owners of the South Keys clinic and a second related clinic – Neuromotion Therapy – appear to have been convicted of serious crimes including 64 counts of insurance fraud and sexual assault.

The Coalition also identified a troubling pattern of misleading practices in the marketing of these clinics. A number of individual practitioners who are now, or have been, listed on the roster of the clinics’ health professionals appear to live in communities far away from Ottawa, or were listed on the website long after they left, or never worked at the clinics.

The report’s authors concluded, “The details contained in this report reveal the consequences of the Ford government’s policies that have allowed more and more vital health care services to be owned by profit-driven business people and investors who lack a social commitment to the provision of health care.”

“We call upon the Ford government to take immediate action to enforce our public health care laws and stop the South Keys clinic from charging patients for primary care services, at bare minimum,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“The extremely disturbing details about the apparent legal histories of the clinics’ owners illustrate the serious dangers to the public created by the privatization of our vital health care services,” added Kevin Skerrett, of the Ottawa Health Coalition. “Along with actually “shutting down bad actors”, as Minister of Health Sylvia Jones promised in October, this broader problem must be addressed through ending the for-profit privatization of primary care that has accelerated significantly under the Ford government and establishing public and not-for-profit community health teams with strong public oversight.”

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Some consolidation in development sector: New Horizon and Krpan join to create Newrise

By Staff

March 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Meet Newrise, a new name for a development company that comes out of the joining together of New Horizon Development Group and Krpan Group. Combined, the two have  more than 80 years of experience

The two have joined forces ” to further advance the conversation and opportunities around sustainable building. These like minded individuals understand the importance of creating communities that benefit future generations.

Defined is as a strategic union brings together expertise in land development and construction, aimed at delivering visionary communities and buildings across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

With over 80 combined years of experience, this partnership brings new opportunities for innovative and groundbreaking development projects that will shape the landscape of the GTHA.

NEWRISE seeks to redefine industry standards, elevating the quality of living opportunities through the partnership’s commitment to lasting craftsmanship and forward-thinking design.

New Horizon Development Group and Krpan Group sought each other out when they realized a shared set of values; to creating enduring projects, embracing visionary ideals, and demonstrating the highest level of dedication to their craft. “We’re excited about the opportunity NEWRISE brings. It is a testament to the power of partnership – our alignment and shared vision accelerates our ability to bring much-needed new home communities to fruition” said Jeff Paikin, President of NHDG.

NEWRISE is committed to sustainability and environmental consciousness. Each partner recognizes the importance of creating developments that contribute to a resilient future. With a focus on green building practices and energy efficiency, NEWRISE will achieve high standards for sustainable development in the region. “With the new partnership that we are announcing today, it expands our ability to create lasting communities with a focus on attainability through rentals, and sustainable building technologies in the GTHA,” explained John Krpan Sr of Krpan Group.

Both New Horizon Development Group and Krpan Group have proven track records of delivering communities that exceed industry standards. NEWRISE will continue this tradition by upholding both partners’ project standards in all areas, including design, construction quality, and client experience.

New Horizons got to build the Bridgewater development, the first high rise to sit on the edge of the lake.

New Horizon Development Group (NHDG) has been active in building communities in Southern Ontario, spanning between Oakville, Beamsville, Brantford and Cambridge in their 30-year history. NHDG built Bridgewater in Burlington.

Krpan built the new headquarters for L3 Harris when they moved from Burlington to Hamilton in the Waterdown community.

Krpan Group is a diversified family-owned private real estate company with origins in land development and a history that stretches back to 1973.  They and expanded into a vertically integrated real estate company with divisions in residential, industrial, office and commercial/retail.

 

 

 

 

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A federal tax increase on beer

By Staff

March 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

The Canadian Revenue Agency published notice of an excise tax increase of 4.7% effective April 1, 2024. Today, the Beer Store launched a consumer awareness campaign in all its stores province-wide regarding this beer tax increase.

 “TBS believes it is important to tell our customers of the Government of Canada’s decision to increase beer taxes by 4.7% on April 1,” said Roy Benin, President, and CEO of The Beer Store.

 With consumers seeing higher prices on daily purchases, The Beer Store wants consumers to be aware of the increase in beer taxes and its potential effect on retail prices.

We applaud The Beer Store initiative. Can you think of a worse time to impose this tax.

 Under Canada’s Excise Act, excise tax increases every year based on inflation. Given persistently high inflation levels, this year’s increase will be the biggest in 40 years. Last year, the Government of Canada capped the excise tax increase at 2%, in line with the Bank of Canada’s CPI target. 

We applaud the Ontario government’s announcement of a two-year freeze on provincial beer taxes,” said Benin. “We urge the Government of Canada to implement a similar freeze, beginning with not increasing the excise tax planned for April 1 or, at a minimum, impose a 2% cap.”

 In Ontario, typically, 43% of the retail price of beer is provincial and federal taxes.

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Look at the facts - and celebrate International Women's Day

By Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A snapshot of population ages by gender in 2022.

Raises a lot of questions – the one for me is:  How can men possibly continue to rule the roost the way they have for decades with population numbers like this?

They can’t and the shouldn’t.

This being International Women’s’ Day perhaps we can each do our part to ensure that the needed, necessary changes take place.

Rosie the Riveter was the star of a campaign aimed at recruiting female workers for defence industries during World War II, and she became perhaps the most iconic image of working women. American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the war, as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labour force. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home.

That was then – today 57% of woman feel they can achieve what they want in the work place.  65% of the women today feel they are underpaid.

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Who will live in Burlington in 2051 and how do we prepare the city today for the huge population changes that will take place

By Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If anyone thought for as much as a second that Paul Sharman was going to behave any differently on the Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee than he does on any other City Council Committee – they don’t know Paul Sharman.

Sharman has come to the conclusion that population growth in Burlington is anticipated to be in the order of a minimum 110,000 people, leading to a total population of 305,000

While data consumes him he tends to look at the long game and figure out what we need to do today to ensure that we don’t run into cockups down the road.

With that objective Sharman produced a Motion that focused on where we will be as a city in 2051.

Sharman has come to the conclusion that population growth in Burlington to 2051 is anticipated to be in the order of a minimum 110,000 people, leading to a total population of 305,000. This is despite the fact that Burlington ran out of Greenfield developable land in 2015, when it essentially became built out.

Developments like this are being discussed at Council and within the Planning department.

“Being built out has led to stagnation of development and assessment growth over the last decade. With an influx of 110,000 people, many aspects of the City are about to change, especially when the current economic conditions become favourable for development again.

“In related planning studies, it has been estimated that the mix of new homes in Burlington will be 82% high density, 12% medium density and 6% low density, which represents a significant change in comparison to the existing preponderance of low- density homes. Another aspect of existing housing is the high proportion of expensive large lots, which will likely be unaffordable for many future homeowners and renters. This suggests that future land assembly and densification of lots in single family neighbourhoods will lead to greater densification of Burlington than currently imagined.

“The question Burlington needs to address is how to sustain the existing high quality of life experienced by current residents for generations to come as population increases and densification occurs?

“Our prior and current planning regimes and regulations were designed for different times, where cheap land was readily available, and development occurred around roads and assumed frequent use of vehicles. None of which is possible going forward nor consistent with our vibrant mixed-use vision for tomorrow.

“To answer the question, we now need to look into the future to be able to determine who will likely live in Burlington. What will their cultural heritage be? What will be their sports interests, health needs, transportation needs, work characteristics, financial capacity, age distribution, housing needs? These and a myriad of other factors should be considered to understand the people who will be the future of Burlington, and how we can best prepare for their needs now.

With his Motion on the table Councillor Sharman leans back and watches the reaction.

“Today’s community members do not and mostly will not live the lives of future generations and while we might guess at the answers to the essential question, our answers might not be reliable. It is suggested that the answers can be better understood by seeking to anticipate demographic change, technology change, financial change, energy needs, and housing availability with which to paint a picture and a vision that will satisfy our ambition for our children, grandchildren, and future generations of Canadians, wherever they may come from.

We are not alone in this conundrum explains Sharman. Please see One Crisis After Another: Designing Cities For Resiliency. The book, which calls for a new, comprehensive, systems-driven approach to designing resilient cities and buildings.

Also worth considering is the following video of the mounting pressure and opportunities to transform our urban regions for the better by employing a variety of “shelf-ready” approaches and digital technologies to the problems virtually every city on Earth faces: https://youtu.be/HBMlQZeXMiA?si=6WjzIV7MuQtQox_O .

In his Motion Sharman said: “I propose the City, through Burlington Economic Development (BED) and the Burlington Lands Partnership (BLP), and partner with other potentially interested parties to undertake the necessary research and modelling to answer the questions raised in this motion memo.

 

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Detailed data on whatever you want to know about what is being built

By Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Data is going to drive everything.

In the past – that being the last decade – decision mistakes were made because we didn’t really know what was going on.  No one was counting.

That has changed.  This city administration is counting everything.  Chad MacDonald, the Executive Director of Technology is spending a fortune adding software, upgrading existing software to get to the point where the city will know what took place yesterday and the day before and the month before as well.

The document set out below was released on March 7th and included data from February 29th.  At the next meeting (April) of the Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee there will be an update.

The city now has a computer program that reaches out to a number of departments and plucks data from each one and then assembles that data so that you get what appears below.

This is no small feat; some very smart people are now making things like this happen.

Roll your cursor over the graphic to enlarge the image.

 

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Don't dally - find Sally - Jeff will be with her. Mating season for these two

By Staff

March 7th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Can You Find Jeff & Sally?

When was the last time you played hide and seek?! Our friends at CORE are inviting anyone who likes fun and games to try finding their salamanders, Jeff & Sally!

He isn’t exactly pretty but nevertheless plays an important role in the local environment. Comes in different colours as well.  He once brought changes to an extension to the Nelson Aggregate site to a halt.

These giant, one-of-a-kind Jefferson salamanders are art installations being hidden all over Burlington from March 11th to the 15th.With 5 pairs of Jeffersons to find, each one has been uniquely painted by the Escarpment Artists.

Find the daily Jeff & Sally pair—but don’t dillydally, each salamander will be visible for one day only! Whether you’re 8 or 88, seeking out these unique art pieces will be great fun for anyone.

Great prizes to be won! Get the details here.

Read the short story of Jeff and Sally here

 

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Housing applications approved are higher - OLT appeals are being resolved All Good news

By Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the second meeting of the Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee meeting, Jamie Tellier,Director of Planning set out to explain the data on the chart below.

One of the reasons the Pipeline to Permit committee was created was to look at the available data to better understand just what was happening in the development sector.

It crystal clear:  better data was needed.

Roll your cursor over the image to enlarge.

As you can see in really small print on the bottom, it was generated on February 27 2024. The previous chart that was presented to you at the last committee meeting was generated on February 2. So this what you’re seeing here is less than a month.

The total number of housing units for major planning applications has gone up since the last chart  – it’s gone up by about 3500 residential units. We are now a little over 45,000 residential units within the major planning process pipeline.

Jamie Tellier, Director of Planning in his animated mode.

I’m going to take you through the application status and you’ll see some of the changes through the various stages of the planning pipeline.

On the right side you’ll see the application status, that’s gone up by about 3000 units. That number signals the ongoing interest in obtaining the planning approvals for residential developments. This reflects the confidence that we commonly refer to as the hoping to dream stage.

This is very early days and we’re having those consultations but again, it signals the interest to develop residential in Burlington.

Underneath that you’ll see the under review status. That has stayed pretty much the same since the last one.

I do want to note that even though that number has stayed the same, when we when we consider major planning applications to things that are subject to legislative timelines, and certainly the bill 109 refunds, we are achieving our legislative timelines 100% of the time.

Underneath that you’ll see appeal to the OLT. I’m very pleased to note that that number is going down. Staff have been busy resolving various litigation matters, which ultimately will enable more housing in Burlington.

Depending on the decision from the OLT (Ontario Landing Tribunal) landowners are either going to move to a building permit stage or perhaps they’re going to move into the site plan stage depending on the nature and type of development.

Underneath that you’ll see waiting for site plan application. That number has increased by a little over 600 units. Referencing the appeals –  perhaps fresh off of an OLT decision.

Now the developers have to put all their technical documentation together to come in for a site plan.

The last one is the planning approval. We’ve changed that name to bring a little more clarity to it. This number is where the planning approvals have been issued. And now they can move on to the building permit.

This is a planning approval, not building permit approval. I’m happy to note that that number has also gone up by about 1100 units since our last report.

At that point Tellier was ready to turn things over to Nick Anastasopoulos, City of Burlington Chief Building Official,

We report on what Nick had to say in a separate article.

 

 

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Ontario NDP cracks Greenbelt code info suggest intent was to conceal 

By Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2024

BURLINGTON. ON

 

FOI documents suggest intent to conceal

The Official Opposition NDP has obtained documents through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request showing the use of code words across thousands of pages of government records referring to the Greenbelt grab.

The New Democrats are on the case. The Mounties will love this.

Terms like “G*,” “Special Project” and “SP” were found in several records, including correspondence between the ministry and the Premier’s office.

In some emails, a reference to the Greenbelt had been replaced with “G*” before being forwarded to Ryan Amato, the former chief of staff of former Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Steve Clark.

The change was discovered by comparing the original email with what was forwarded to Mr. Amato’s account.

“What this looks like is intent to conceal—a creative use of code words to evade public scrutiny for what they clearly knew was wrong,” said Marit Stiles. “For months, the Ford Conservatives claimed that there was nothing wrong with their Greenbelt grab. Clearly, they knew they had something to hide.”

The FOI records also show that throughout October 2022, ministry officials regularly used the term “Special Project” (or “SP”) to refer to the Greenbelt grab. This includes two emails exchanged between Amato and Patrick Sackville, the premier’s current chief of staff.

The emails are dated Oct. 17, 2022 — 10 days before the date Sackville claimed under oath that he was first briefed on the Greenbelt project.

“We’ve cracked the code, and it’s time for the Premier to come clean about his office’s involvement in this mess,” Stiles said.

The NDP’s FOI yielded

3,776 pages of documents from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The term “special project” appeared 36 times.
The term “SP” appeared 44 times.

In an index of records provided by the ministry to the NDP in  response to its FOI, there are five instances of the term “special project” and 21 instances of the term “SP.”

A criminal investigation into the Ford government over the Greenbelt scheme is currently underway.

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BPAC performance with a 50% off ticket price - Stray Cats with Lee Rocker

By Staff

March 6th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

LEE ROCKER of the Stray Cats

Tickets available at 50% off!

Saturday March 9, 2024 at 8pm
Main Theatre 50% off!

Use Code: GIANTBASS at checkout

*while quantities last

*not applicable to previously purchased tickets.

If you want to take advantage of the deep discount you will want to call the box office.Box Office. 905-681-6000

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 4pm, and one hour prior to a performance.

Lee Rocker made his mark singing, playing, standing on, spinning and rocking his giant upright bass as a founding member of the Grammy-nominated music group The Stray Cats.

He has since been named “Greatest Of All Time” in Bass Player Magazine’s 2022 listing of the top 100 bassists ever.

Hear hit songs like Stray Cat Strut and Rock This Town live in concert! $69.50 – $89.50 (All-in). Member: $64.50 – $84.50 (All-in) This is before the discount.

 

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Galbraith: a lot of time sucking features in my ward

By Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Updated: 9:40 am

Yet another update:  Note from Councillor Shawna Stolte: Kelvin made the “time sucking” comment about issues in his ward…then I, as the Chair of Committee of the Whole, jokingly alluded to using this phrase in reference to our Committee having taken 20 hours, over 2 days, to debate what should have taken 12.

Funny bunch of people

 

How often do we hear members of Council tell you it is an honour to serve you? Often, especially during elections

During discussion on changing the ward boundaries and taking a hard look at the size of Council (Mayor Meed Ward has no problem with a larger council) Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith let us know how he sees the job he has when he said:

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith: the job is a time sucker.

“RBG, Beachway, hospital  –  there’s a lot of time sucking features in my ward that need to be considered and they will be ongoing whether it’s me or somebody else.”

Galbraith seems to resent having to attend meetings that focus on the needs and interests of the people he was elected to represent.

Moments after Galbraith made his comment, a Council member said: “Could you use that time sucking quote frequently –  there are many opportunities for that.”

They represent you – how do you feel about that?

 

 

 

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The battle over what will happen to the Millcroft community begins today.

By Pepper Parr

March 5th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The arguments begin today.

Milton Greens, the developer who wants to put 98 high end homes on what is golf club land.

Millcroft Greenspace Alliance and Millcroft Against Development have each raised significant sums of money to oppose the development at the Ontario Land Tribunal that begins today.
he both want as many of their supporters as possible tuning in today for the hearing.

The hearing is scheduled from Tuesday March 5 to Thursday March 28 through virtual meetings. You may log in at the link below.  Only lawyers and those speaking at the meeting will have cameras and microphones on.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/719383509  Access Code is 719-383-509

David Donnelly, the lawyer representing Millcroft Greenspace Alliance will make an opening statement today and will continue representing the group throughout the hearing.

MAD has their team in place with local planner Allan Ramsay representing them.

It will be some time before there is a decision – many feel the hearing would not have taken place if Mayor Meed Ward had been able to convince the Minister of Housing to issue a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) would have brought everything to a halt.

That as the community knows didn’t happen.

 

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The full story on that $21 million

By Pepper Parr

March 5th, 2024

BURLINGTON. ON

 

Councillor Rory Nisan

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan, who now lives in ward 2 explained in a Linked in comment that Burlington has received $21 million from the federal government that will be used to build new homes.

Just because he said it – doesn’t mean it’s all true.

Here is what he did say:

Later today Nisan who is Chair of one of the Standing Committees.  He is also the City’s representative on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and has a meeting to attend.

Mayor Meed Ward participating in a meeting from her vehicle.

Nisan told Council yesterday that he is going to try and chair the Standing Committee meeting while he is in the air or at the airport.

That should be something to see – we will let you know how that works out.  There is a vice chair so the meeting will take place – no idea where Nisan will land.

Mayor Meed Ward did participate in a Standing Committee meeting while in her vehicle recently.

Councillor Stolte is reported to have told a community meeting at the Port Nelson United Church that the $21 million was clinched when the city committed to four dwelling units per lot as of right instead of the provincially mandated three units. Stolte is reported to have said that “the more aggressive target unlocked the federal money (21m).”

 

 

 

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