Rivers on a different Ukraine - a first hand on the ground reflection

By Ray Rivers

January 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

A number of years ago Ray Rivers was visiting Ukraine to get a better sense of a country to which he was culturally attached.  At the time we arranged for him to meet with Canadian troops who were training a Ukrainian army unit.

I visited Ukraine a couple of times after the Russian invasion in 2014.  The second time, in 2017, my wife and I volunteered to teach in their school system for about a month.  We were part of a multinational effort, called Go Camp, involving some 1100 volunteers from 75 countries to share our language and culture with young Ukrainian students.

I taught some French, music and drama, and before I left gifted my guitar to a promising young music student.  Burlington’s MP (Hon) Karina Gould’s office had passed along some Canadian lapel flag pins which were well received by the students.  We were billeted by the parents and literally became part of their families, struggling with the language but sharing meals and laughs and stories of who we are.

We asked, at every appropriate occasion, about the situation in the country.  What did they think about the war and Ukraine’s future relationship with Russia?  They were reluctant to open up but mostly they said they didn’t know.  They didn’t understand what Putin wanted and why he was attacking their country.  And they really didn’t want to talk about the conflict, especially those who had fled from the war zone in the Russian occupied Donbas.

It was as if they were ashamed and embarrassed – unsure if they were to blame in some small way – perhaps their nation had moved too quickly to expand its horizons, promote a market economy, embrace democracy and adopt other western ideals.  Almost like a battered spouse or victim of bullying would react, they couldn’t wait for the topic to change.  It hurt too much to talk about it.

Not everyone was happy with their government, their leaders and all the corruption that had been going on.  Still, nobody said that they’d rather be Russian, even if the government pensions were higher there, as we were told by one woman, a retired school principal now cleaning classrooms to supplement her retirement income.  And there were a number of bright young people hoping for a visa to come to Canada to live, and, more often than not, being rejected.

There is still a good deal of attachment to Russia – a doctor who worked weekdays at a hospital in Moscow and came home on the weekends – a young woman completing her advanced degree in petroleum engineering at a Moscow technical college.  It is more difficult for them to commute now since no flights are allowed between the two nations.  And while many people still use the Russian language, it’s more common among the older crowd who are used to saying ‘Da’ instead of ‘Tak’ for yes, but nobody seems to mind.

Ukraine citizens protesting the high levels of corruption in their country.

Ukrainians thought they knew what they wanted when they declared their independence along with those other Soviet republics and satellites when the USSR disintegrated.  Ukraine was so eager on being a model of peacefulness that it gave up its nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world.  In return the US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest Memorandum which guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Or so they thought.  But when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, the other signatories just shrugged their shoulders.  President Obama, who’d been given a Nobel peace prize, was quick off the mark to say what he wouldn’t do.   He wouldn’t try to stop Russia – wouldn’t send defensive weapons to help Ukraine.  And with that he gave license and argument for every wanna-be nuclear power – the only way to guarantee your defence is with a nuke in your backyard.

When it comes to defence, good fences make good neighbours.  And if your neighbour is a bully then you needed to be ready for him/her.  So Ukraine called on its wannabe European partners, and potential future NATO allies, for help.   Canada, with the world’s second largest Ukrainian diaspora, sent a couple hundred military trainers, gave the country some night vision goggles and a couple hundred million dollars in development assistance.

Mr. Trudeau says he’s only thinking of sending over what Kyiv really wants, some high tech defensive weapons that could help stop Russia’s vast assembly of tanks and planes.  Perhaps he alone understands Mr. Putin’s mind allowing the argument… that a poorly armed Ukraine will better deter a Russian invasion than one appropriately outfitted with high tech armament to fight off an invasion.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly meets Canadian soldiers. There are currently about 200 Canadian Armed Forces members in Ukraine as part of an international training mission to help improve Ukrainian soldiers’ combat skills.

My publisher had organized for me to visit the military base where Canadian instructors are training Ukrainian soldiers.  There was not much joy around.  This is, after all, a conflict with no apparent end in sight and a lot of death and suffering in the meantime.  Putin has the overwhelming upper hand.  We were told that taking pictures of the snipers training was forbidden since, with Russian agents still active, that could make the recruits targets.

Known as Kievan Rus or Ruthenia, Ukraine was the largest country in Europe in the 11th century.  But the invaders over all the intervening years have done their best to create one jigsaw puzzle or another.  Mongols, Ottoman Turks, Swedes, Polish, Lithuanians, Austro-Hungarians, and the Russians all have had a crack at occupying Ukraine – or some part of it.  One of the current day ironies is that it was Ukrainian migrants who first left Kyiv to found Moscow and Russia.

Putin has been pretty clear about what he’d like – a return to the glorious days of the Soviet Union, presumably pre-Afghanistan invasion.  Humiliated by the break up of the USSR, he is determined to wreak a kind of vengeance by humiliating the USA, breaking up the EU and destroying NATO.  He wants to be back in the USSR.  And he wants to take Ukraine, formerly one of the most populous and productive republics in the union, with him.

Russia has twice as many troops in uniform (280,000) as Ukraine, and a very modernized military machine, including nuclear weapons.  But what would be the point of nuking the heck out of Ukraine if it is be included the new USSR?  And though Ukraine is out-soldiered and out-gunned, it has developed a civil defence organization numbering some 300,000.  So while a blitz invasion might get Russia well into the heart of Ukraine it’ll have trouble holding onto it.

The folks we met while over there understood that Russia might invade their homeland, but despite all the pessimism they were resolved that that would not be the end of it. According to a recent survey up to a third of the population of 44 million are prepared to pick up a firearm and join the fight for their country.

Perhaps what I took for traces of sadness in their smiles was just plain tiredness – tired of just another autocrat trying to crush their new-found freedom.  Tired of conflict.  But then again, perhaps they also understand that this conflict is bigger than Ukraine.  Because on the other side of the world President Xi is preparing his own invasion plans to put an end to another democracy, this time on the island of Taiwan.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links

Go Camp –    What Does Putin Want –      Putin

Ukraine History –    Budapest Memorandum

 US Naive –     Trudeau Waffles –    More Waffle

Biden Must Stand Up

 

 

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Once again Premier Ford got it wrong

By Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, 0N

 

Ontario today reported 4,114 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 590 in the ICU and 64 deaths; is this what the Minister of Health meant by a “glimmer of hope”?

Yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced when and how he would open up the province and return to normal business.

January 31st

restrictions would be reduced.

February 21st restrictions would be reduced even further.

March 14th  restrictions would disappear.

Setting out information like this might be good politics but it is bad public health practice.

Once again the Premier got it wrong.

What he needed to say was that when hospitalizations are at ??? and ICU patients are at ??? THEN restrictions will be lowered.

It is decisions made by individuals that will bring down the number of people infected and the number of hospitalizations.

Stop the bromides Mr. Premier.  Let people take responsibility and when the data indicates that people are being responsible, then lift the restrictions.  I, too, want to go out to a restaurant for dinner – but I don’t want to compromise my health.

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

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Open Letter from the Halton Members of Parliament to Catholic Trustees

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The four Members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton wrote an Open Letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.  The contents of that letter are set out below.

Dear Trustees,

On January 18th you will have an opportunity to vote on whether you will allow your schools to raise the Pride Flag this June.  From a group of one elected officials to another we understand the seriousness in which you take this vote and the role that your convictions play in determining how you will side.

Next week, you can act to show the 37,000 students that you teach that the Halton Catholic District School Board embraces diversity, celebrates love, and recognizes the community’s desire to officially embrace the 25LGBTQ+ members of your schools.

In 2016, the Pride Flag was flown for the first time on Parliament Hill. Some of us were there that day to celebrate this important milestone for Canada and the 25LGBTQ+ community. The simple act of raising the rainbow flag made an enormous difference in the lives of the advocates who fought for this ceremony to take place. It told them that their country supports them, that their country loves them, and that their country needs their voice at the highest levels of political leadership. You can send the same message to the students, their parents, and your staff, that the HCDSB supports them, loves them and that they are called to shape the future of their community.

To quote your colleague Trustee Agnew, “(you) have a chance to be leaders, champions if you will, of the future, of amazing things to come.”

On January 18th you have a chance to stand up for change. As the federally elected representatives for Halton, we express our unwavering support in favour of raising the flag.

Thank you for taking time to consider our request.

 

Honourable Anita Anand, MP Oakville     Honourable Karina Gould, MP, Burlington

Pam Damoff, MP, Oakville-North Burlington          Adam VanKoeverden, MP, Milton

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Letter from Halton MPs to Catholic Trustees was inappropriate

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Opinion

Last Friday, the four members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton sent an open letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.

Cabinet Ministers Karina Gould (Burlington); Anita Anand, (Oakville) along with Pam Damoff (Oakville North Burlington) and Adam VanKoeverden, MP, (Milton) wrote about a matter that is not something in which the federal government is involved.

Education is a provincial matter with trustees elected at the local level to represent parents with children in the school system.

The Gazette wonders if it is appropriate for Members of Parliament to meddle in a provincial matter that is being fiercely debated at the local level.

Emotions are running high; views are strongly held. What value does the opinion of someone from a senior level of government add?

The concerns of the four Members of Parliament are legitimate enough but one has to wonder what the upside is for the MPs. Have they brought any clarity to the issue?

Do any of them have children in Catholic schools?

Karina Gould has a mandate as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development but that mandate does not reach into issues that are local.

The differences between the Catholic communities are philosophical and political and they will be resolved politically.

The parents who are opposed to the flying of the Pride flag in front of schools support their children; love their country and believe they are serving at their level of political leadership.

If the federal Liberals had anything of value to add perhaps a comment would be appropriate.

They add nothing other than their opinions.

The Gazette feels the letter was inappropriate and that the members of the Catholic community have to work this out on their own.

Related content:

Letter to the trustees

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

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Opposing views on Pride Flag will be heard by Catholic Trustees on Tuesday

By Pepper Parr

January 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON,, ON

 

The debate on flying the Pride flag at Catholic schools in the Halton Region will be heard by the Halton District Catholic \school Board on Tuesday.

The Gazette has chosen two delegations that reflect strongly held position on the issues.

Both should be heard.

The Rainer Noack and Veronica Touhey delegations follow.

Chairperson of the board, board members, delegates, families – it is an honour to have been asked to
support this evening’s delegation. My name is Rainer Noack and I worked for the Halton Catholic District School Board from 1989 to 2006 where I taught both Dramatic Arts for Grades 10 to OAC, and English for Grades 9 and 10. I was a passionate, popular, and distinctive educator in my field. I spearheaded the entry of the Halton Catholic District school Board into the Ontario Drama Festival (formerly known as the Sears Drama Festival).

Rainer Noack

I am here to support Lauren MacDonald and her team in their efforts to ensure that the Halton Catholic District School Board will raise the Pride Flag in the future, as a demonstration of equality and solidarity for all human beings. The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected by a healing community and can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.

Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life, and to those things required for our human
dignity. I believe that in order to set students up for success and to become healthy contributing members of society, they need to have models. As educators, we are on the front line of helping children every day, and it is indeed some of those teachers and forward thinking leaders that have allowed many Catholic schools to become safe spaces, and recognize that there are many forms of diversity that need respect.Refusal to raise the flag is a blatant signal to further marginalized people demonstrating fear and xenophobia. The parliament of Canada on July 20, 2005 enacted the Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Canada; fourth country to do so. 2005 was the year I married my husband, thus for the first time, acknowledging my sexuality societally. In June 2006, my husband and I, along with many others, including members of the Toronto police force, carried the Pride Flag down Yonge street. A portion of this flag is now displayed in the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.

During my tenure with the school board, I was there for students who were struggling to accept their
identity. I was there to witness students driven to suicide through a lack of acceptance. Statistics have shown that those attending a Catholic school have a substantial increase in the odds of attempting suicide or suicide risk by the age of 15 and self-harm by the age of 19.
The Supreme Court does not try to hide the fact that it will shed no tears if Catholic schools vanish from the scene while they continue to receive public funding and continue to enforce outdated rules of the Bible and continue to believe in supremacy of the Papacy. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a set of human rights enforced by judicial review of legislation. Many Catholic school boards have begun to reconsider the conflict between Catholic beliefs and Human Rights.

Trying to change attitudes is brave and progressive, and I am grateful to be able to share my views here today. As teachers, we promote healthy lifestyles and attitudes and our daily business is prevention intervention. Our experience has taught us that it takes a lesson repeated over and over to truly change an attitude. The best way to teach is by example, and therefore it is the responsibility of adults to model the kind of beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes that will make a better world.

The world needs to examine its conscience. Now, more than ever, is the time to give hope to disenchanted youth. The media advertises that research funding is being designated for youth to reduce violence and mental health issues. This work is as well as wasted if a definite message is not sent by our school boards.

We must be more progressive.

Today’s children will become tomorrow’s patrons, employees, and entrepreneurs. We owe it to them to
help them to feel that we each have a fundamental right to freedom.

Thank you

LIFT HIGH THE CROSS, RAISE NOT THE ‘PRIDE’ FLAG
My name is Veronica Touhey and I address this board as a parent who sends my children to
Catholic schools with the good faith and understanding that they will be taught the magisterial
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

I know that flying the “pride” flag over Catholic schools and administrative buildings violates
these teachings.

It would deeply sadden me to see that flag raised by schools of the HCDSB.

Some believe that the raising of the “pride” flag is necessary to stop bullying and discrimination,
and while these are always good intentions in themselves, the act of raising that flag over
Catholic schools will undermine the mission of Catholic education and the mission of the Halton
Catholic District School Board.

The mission statement of the HCDSB states that the Board is “…dedicated to providing
excellence in Catholic education by developing Christ-centred individuals enabled to transform
society.”

Flying the “pride” flag will not help the board to achieve these crucial objectives. It will, in fact, betray this mission.

Many who advocate for the raising of the flag assert that it will make the schools it flies over
more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive of people.

That only proves that our hearts, and our wishful thinking, can deceive us.

The “pride” flag is a lie.

The flag isn’t about inclusion, diversity, and acceptance, but about conformity, exclusion and
intolerance. The “pride” flag is in fact a giant red flag of warning for anyone concerned about
traditional values and the freedom to live by them.

The “pride” flag is a symbol of mortal sin. It’s no coincidence that “pride” is both the name of
that flag, and the name of one of the seven deadly sins. In fact, pride was the cause of the
Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve, and it is considered the source of all the other deadly
sins.

The Catholic Church can never condone mortal sin, and the “pride” flag is a symbol of mortal
sin.

There are those who will say that secular institutions fly that flag, and so our Catholic schools
should follow along and do the same. But it has never been the mandate of the Catholic Church
to follow the fashions of the world.

Quite the opposite is true.

The Catholic Church is charged to lead the world to Christ.

We should be leading the world by doing what the HCDSB mission statement claims it is here to
do, by “developing Christ-centred individuals enabled to transform society”.

To transform society away from sinful ways and toward Jesus Christ.
Secular institutions that fly the “pride” flag have no mandate to defend the teachings of the
Catholic, or of any other Faith. But this board does!

The Faith we express is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus
Christ, not to condemn the world, but to save it. We know that God is love, and that He
demonstrated this love by dying on the Cross.

The “pride” flag is a mere worldly symbol. The Cross represents the very heart of the Church
and its values, which transcend all symbols.

We do not need any flag, for we have the Cross!

The Cross demonstrates and reminds us of the love God has for all people, no matter who they
are. It tells us that God desires to gather us all to Himself as one family in Christ.

The Cross is our sign of true love and of mercy, of eternal life. It is a bold declaration of hope in
a world full of sorrows. That is the hope we must nurture, a hope in the Lord as our strength.
Symbols such as that “pride” flag will come and go, but as St. Paul tells us, “Jesus Christ is the
same yesterday today and forever.”

We teach our children the marks of the Church, which we recite each time we say the Creed.
The marks of the Church remind us that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church must
speak with a single voice and reject all that is not in keeping with it.

That “pride” flag is not in keeping with our Faith.

Our children are watching us. What will we teach them now?

Thank you for your time and for allowing me to address the Board.

r

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Home Builders Association looks forward to working with city on inclusionary zoning - making homes available to all income levels

By Mike Collins-Williams

January 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The West End Home Builders’ Association is very pleased to participate in the City’s Housing Strategy Working Group. I’ve been very encouraged by the discussions from this diverse group who bring different life and professional experience to the table.

I want to open my comments by acknowledging the housing challenges we face not just in Burlington, but across this entire metropolitan region that is the fastest growing area in North America. In fact – numbers were just released that Canada grew by over 400,000 people in 2021 and for the first time in Canadian history – Canada’s population growth exceeded that of the United States – a country 9 times larger.
Understandably, most of the new growth is coming to Vancouver and the GTA – and we here in Burlington are experiencing the pressures of this growth and the escalating cost of housing due to the inability of housing supply to keep up with demand.

There is no silver bullet solution to the housing crisis. We all need to work together – The private sector, the non-profit sector and all three levels of government. I strongly believe that this is the most important opportunity to develop the effective partnerships we all need to successfully address the housing crisis.

I am happy to be here today to talk about one planning tool that is available to us – and that is inclusionary zoning.

I’m happy to see the time and energy Burlington is investing to analyze housing options intended to promote much needed public policy adjustments through the Housing Strategy. I am here to say to you today as the CEO of the West End Home Builders’ Association that we support the development of mixed income communities, and we are supportive of the use of inclusionary zoning as a planning tool – but we need to make sure it’s done right and within the context of a comprehensive and achievable housing strategy.

There are over 800 examples of inclusionary zoning across North America – some jurisdictions have well designed policy frameworks that support the construction of new affordable units without placing the burden of costs onto the other buyers or renters through cross subsidization… while other jurisdiction have models that don’t effectively generate much of any affordable housing, and others thrust the entire cost of the program onto other purchasers

If Burlington’s Housing Strategy cares about providing housing in Burlington for all income levels, then we as a society have an undeniable role to play. We must collectively pay the costs of constructing affordable or subsidized housing options. This burden should not just be on new home buyers, but on everyone from a shared tax pool which can support the costs of an IZ program.

New first-time buyers of entry level condos near Burlington’s 3 GO Stations and renters absolutely should not be burdened with the entire cost of building affordable housing. Prices are already too high and asking first time home buyers to cover the cost of an affordable housing program is unequitable, unfair and socially irresponsible.

Our members have the knowledge, experience and capacity to build more housing – especially more transit-oriented and energy efficient multi-unit mid-and-high rise buildings in mixed income communities

surrounding Burlington’s GO Stations. This is a huge opportunity for the City of Burlington to partner with the private sector to provide affordable housing units that would otherwise not be built.

Here are a few suggestions for Council to consider as it researches and develops policy options:

Consider early in the policy development stage who will own, manage and maintain affordable units and administer an inclusionary zoning program. We recognize and appreciate that this was identified in Appendix A of the staff report.

As we are still in the earlier stages – we want to ensure that we don’t end up with an overly complex program with overwhelming administrative challenges. This is a particularly important consideration for the City of Burlington due to its size and the quantum of new affordable units that can reasonably be achieved.

I also want to highlight what type of housing inclusionary zoning can effectively deliver – I like to use the British term “workforce housing” – inclusionary zoning is not a silver bullet that can deliver either deeply affordable housing or supportive housing where additional services and financial support are required.

What inclusionary zoning can deliver, if designed properly, is key “workforce housing” within an affordability band just below where the market is today to provide a helping hand to folks that are struggling to get into the market.

As part of the Municipal Comprehensive Review currently underway and to assist the City’s efforts to satisfy its future growth requirements, the city also needs to consider and facilitate and environment that enables the City of Burlington to maximize the growth potential of its 3 PMTSAs.

Given the limited amount of MTSAs in the City, and the amount of growth likely to be allocated to the City, it is especially important to ensure that IZ units are “additive” to the supply that the market would provide in the absence of IZ.

Therefore – we need to ensure that an emphasis is placed on economic viability for those transit station areas under consideration in Burlington.

A poorly designed program won’t actually yield any affordable units and will increase the cost of entry level market-housing for first time buyers and renters.

A poorly designed program also runs the risk of causing Burlington to miss those targets and displace projected growth to other communities in other Burlington neighbourhoods or to adjacent communities that do not have the infrastructure necessary to support growth.

Any inclusionary zoning policy must be built as a true partnership and paired with offsets necessary to ensure the success of the program.

The industry is not seeking direct subsidies – but rather an intuitive partnership where the City of Burlington is not levying tens of thousands of dollars of costs through development charges, cash-in-lieu of parkland fees, underground parking requirements etc – on units that we are trying to ensure are affordable.

We need a partner to make this work – and we believe that with your help we can make this work to build more inclusive communities.

We are also hopeful that we can work together with the City of Burlington to leverage and potentially stack benefits through any provincial programs or through funds or low-interest CMHC loans that may be available from the Federal Government through the National Housing Strategy.

The more coordinated we are in our approach – the more benefits we can deliver.

I encourage Council members to review the case studies that are being generated. We should all have a good understanding of unsuccessful inclusionary zoning programs to understand the pitfalls of poorly designed programs.

We also need to pay attention to the case studies for comparable cities – Burlington is not Toronto, New York or San Francisco – we are not producing tens of thousands of units per year – nor do we have State programs like the 421A in New York where property taxes are waived entirely in rental buildings with affordable units or National programs like to Low Income Housing Tax Credit offered in the States – there are more senior level of government programs down there that can be combined into Inclusionary Zoning programs to support economic viability… I hope that is acknowledged as we move forward in Burlington to make sure we are working together to design an effective program.

I want to close by saying that in 2021, WE HBA has been pleased to see renewed collaboration between ourselves and the City. I sincerely appreciate my appointment to Burlington’s Housing Strategy Task Force and believe we are making positive progress. I am hopeful to continue in that positive direction and spirit of collaboration in any future work on Inclusionary Zoning.

Mike Collins-Williams is the CEO of West End Home Builders Association (WEHBA) .  He is a Registered Professional Planner and is a member of the  Burlington’s Housing Strategy Task Force

WEHBA is the organization that represents the interests of the construction and developer interests.

Related news story:

What is inclusionary zoning.

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Plan B fears the city might have missed the boat on keeping view to Spencer Smith Park as part of the public domain

By Don Fletcher

January 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

An earlier version of this article included illustration that were out-dated.  The illustrations have been revised.

We are pleased to learn from this update that Phase 4 of this study has restarted, and to understand somewhat why the study was placed on hold in mid-2018. Given that we’ve suffered through a pandemic over the last few years, it’s understandable why it wasn’t resumed earlier.

A study on the best way to develop this area began in 2015.

The delay in completing the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study as originally planned is still potentially problematic. In Section 3.3 of Bousfields’ Planning & Urban Design Rationale that was part of the Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc.’s development application submitted on October 26th, 2021, their rationale for requesting the removal of Policy 5.5.9.2(l) of the in-force Burlington OP, as amended, was that this study had an “indeterminate deadline” with a further characterization that it “has never been completed, indefinitely sterilizes the subject site from redevelopment and from achieving its highest and best use potential”. It is not clear to us whether the property owner ultimately plans to ignore the guidance of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study, but it is clear that completing it on a highly accelerated basis must be a top priority.

Citizens’ PLAN B remains committed to the extension of Spencer Smith Park and the enhancement of the Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario, through the application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ design principle related to the Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment. Yes, we understand the changing context of the NE corner of Brant Street & Lakeshore Road with respect to the origins of the ‘Thin Red Line’, but it still has great utility in its’ application to achieve what most residents want in the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel property and remains a simple concept that resonates with everyone.

A citizens group – Plan B – introduced the concept of a thin red line. Will it be enough and will it ever be adhered to?

We understand that City staff with support of project consultant, The Planning Partnership, will resume the work plan where it left off in 2018. This update references Section 3 of Report PB-23-18, which contains 16 key policy directions, as one of those milestones that can be built upon.

PLAN B fully supports PB-23-18.

Application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ will help fulfill Public Realm policy directions 5a, 7, 8 and 9, which in our opinion are not achieved in the current development application.

One deliverable that was not mentioned in this report but should also serve to expedite completion of the project is Emerging Preferred Concept #3. I have attached a Planning Partnership Jan/ Feb 2018 Overview/ Snapshot of its’ evolution for your reference, with some of the rationale for selecting EPC #3 noted there re-iterated below:

Achieves the Urban Design objectives for the Downtown

Achieves a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that balances the base permissions of 5.0 with the Developer’s Current Concept of 7.5 FAR

Buildings located east of the ‘Thin Red Line’, representing the view corridor south of Lakeshore Road, proposed by the Downtown Mobility Hub Study.  A new significant open space defined by the ‘Thin Red Line’ located on the west portion of the property, contiguous with the waterfront park

Buildings that provide a clear landmark visible from the park, Brant Street, John Street, Lakeshore Road & Lake Ontario

A potential development yield that is viable and provides some incentives for redevelopment.

Panel 1 is what the developer originally proposed, panel 2 is what is permitted on the site, panel 3 is one of the alternatives that didn’t include any resident input panel 4 is the last iteration of concepts being considered in the planning study.

This was the last iteration of conceptual designs that we were party to, and while we fundamentally supported it, we through Ramsay Planning Inc. submitted a few minor improvement suggestions. We are unaware of Vrancor’s feedback.

We acknowledge and respect the current property owner’s right to profit from his investment, and that this will necessitate a “reasonable” amount of massing and building height. We also believe passionately that the impact of this development will be felt by many future generations of Burlington residents & visitors, and collectively we must get it right. Citizens’ PLAN B is completely open to work with all stakeholders to help make this a “win-win” scenario.

Follow Plan B at: www.planbwaterfrontredevelopment.ca

Related news stories:

What about a land swap?

Plan B has been pressing city council for years

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Muir claims the numbers are fabricated with no public input

By Tom Muir

January 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

These are all fabricated numbers from the dictatorship of planning at the province. They are not the product of any thinking about reality, and are not negotiable in any sense at all. All the Region does is follow the orders.

All this with no public input or involvement or process, except the six years or so of the Burlington and Region OP review and rewrites that are going to be put to waste in a wholesale policy nullification in what is looking to be a central planning basis from the Province. How this works explains itself.

The Province keeps increasing the population targets at increasing rates, with longer timelines, in the revisions to the Growth Plan and other elements of the Provincial Policy Frame. It is now spanning 30 years going to 40 years with a target of increasing Halton’s population by 500,000 or more people, essentially doubling the population.

These population targets outpace the City and Regional OP policies and development goals based on lengthy public consultation. The Growth Plan targets and policies basically amplify the populations used by developers to argue their proposals.

There are major omissions in the overall Policy Frame makeup, the context within which the several Provincial Policies are driving what we see, and development in general. They are always driving the same way as we have done in the past, like the world has not changed. In fact the context we live and decide in has changed in every respect.

I don’t think it reasonable to refer to all of the elements of the current Policy Frame as unchanged and constant mandates that have not been severely tested by COVID19, and will be by Climate Change. There is no consideration of these severe economic, public health, and environmental climate background changes and visible impacts on society, in the policy frames about development.

I say that this is not thinking about it, because it is clear that COVID19 has changed everything to do with the use and availability of space and spacing. Almost everything was closed for a time, and very much is still running at a low speed as we see many structural changes taking place, such as use, demand and supply of office space, which as an example, have large vacancies.

We have to ask about what is going to work in the new context. How are we going to get to the employment targets that are so casually just trotted out?

One piece of evidence that is emerging from the pandemic is that COVID19 prevalence is associated with overdeveloped/crowded higher density built form, transit dependence, too little green space, deficient amenity area, and other too many to mention decreased standards that are like what the mass development appeals in Burlington are about.

There is no Big Picture consideration of climate change (CC) and of COVID as a change in context. Both CC and COVID are what is known in science as “Extinction-level events” . Everything will be forced to change form and to adapt to the new reality. We are already experiencing this, but the Policy Frame ignores this fundamental background change completely.

I do not see how this disruptive change in context is being taken into account in the transportation and public transit planning aspects of the Policy Frame and Growth Plan being used and referred to in this development plan. The basic pillars of the entire policy frame and plans for future development are dependent on aspirations and assumptions about growth, transportation and mass transit. COVID19 has emptied a lot of transit vehicles and more people are driving.

As I said above, the timeline impact of the appeal is 30 to 40 years, and scope for 500,000 new people. Nothing in a path to this will be the same as our past experience, and this needs to be considered when changes in form, height, density and, really, everything we say we are planning for. Density and intensification made Toronto an epicenter. Transit dependence amplified that. This is a general feature of the disease prevalence.

I would bet that no witnesses will be giving evidence-based study and testimony on the public health aspects of urban planning, and impacts on transportation.

None of this should be tolerated.

Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has delegated to city council on numerous occasions.  A retired federal civil servant Muir likes to ski at Aspen.  He can’t wait for travel restrictions to be lifted.

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Rivers on Ford: Was he at the cottage or hiding in the basement of Queen's Park?

By Ray Rivers

January 4th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Dog Logic – If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. And Ontario’s Premier Ford figures that’ll work for him. If we stop testing, recording and reporting our cases of COVID infection the pandemic will seem… like it’s gone away.

Ontario is in the midst of the largest COVID wave ever and the government is overwhelmed and over its head. Ontario residents got angry last month when the Premier didn’t show up for a briefing on Omicron just as we were entering the Christmas period. Where was he while this new variant was wreaking havoc everywhere and spreading like wildfire is still unknown. But apparently he has a cottage and there is a basement at Queen’s Park where one could hide.

Is the medium the message? Going to take more than a T shirt to command public trust

Nobody blames Ford for the arrival of Omicron, it’s everywhere. But his inaction in the face of this new public crisis is indefensible/inexcusable. Unfortunately it’s a familiar pattern for this premier. He’s been late to act with every wave of COVID – each delay actually exacerbating the problem.

Anybody could have figured out that the viral surge in South Africa, last November, would land on Ontario’s doorstep by December. So what was Ontario’s government waiting for…Christmas? Even the World Health Organization had warned everyone that it was coming. The feds got the message, and Canada banned travellers from seven southern Africa countries as far back as late November.

Mr. Ford referred to the latest variant as spreading like a wildfire. So one would have expected him to have got the water hose out before the flames were already in the living room. But now he acknowledges that it’s too late, and is content to just slow it down. But he’ll use the same tool as always – lockdown restrictions to limit social contact.

No masks required if they are learning at home – question is – are they learning?

He has once again paused in-class education, after a good deal of dithering. Sadly, even as we move into the 3rd calendar year of COVID our schools are still not safe enough to fully resume in-class instruction. And that means there would have been almost certain student-to-student transmission with this highly transmissible variant. So initially the government plan was to hide the statistics – not report cases of infection in schools.

If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. Except parents, teachers and health care professionals were not going to let him get away with that. Rather than suffer a backlash over reporting, Mr. Ford just closed the schools and Ontario is back to remote learning.

And when it comes to transparency, it isn’t just schools. The rules on PCR molecular testing have changed and are now limited only to health professionals and some most vulnerable folks. If you have symptoms and you’re vaccinated, just stay home for 5 days. That is unless you need to show your boss an official positive test result.

The government has suggested people use one of those antigen rapid tests to see if they are positive, as an alternative. But, despite the federal government giving 50 million test kits to Ontario, there are none available. Ontario had been distributing these free rapid test kits in some malls and the odd liquor store – but not apparently anymore. People lined up for hours to get a kit – bearing a close resemblance to characters from the movie ‘Hunger Games’ as they scrambled over one another.

It was pretty much the same sad story when it came to getting a lifesaving booster shot. The province opened up eligibility to non-seniors only after the Omicron wave was on us. People scrambled to make a booking and the booking systems did what they had done before – disappointed or crashed. Even the National Post, a Tory friendly paper couldn’t hold back its disgust.

The government may be right on reporting infection test statistics. What is the point if they are unreliable and unrepresentative? That is a sad admission – so we will be treated to hospital and ICU admissions data from now on instead. Ford’s is not the first government who has wanted to end testing and reporting COVID numbers. Alberta’s Kenny and former US president Trump also tried to trick the public into thinking things were better than they really were by stopping testing.

It’s a new year, but unfortunately it feels even worse that last year, given that we should have learned something from past. The government’s failure to act in a timely fashion is disgraceful. Some experts believe the variant will peak in the next couple weeks and then crash, as it has apparently done in South Africa. But what if it doesn’t? What is Plan B? Dog Logic?

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Ontario Restrictions –   Anger at Premier –  School Case Reporting – 

Stampede for Boosters –    Hospital Surge –    Rapid Tests

Other opinions

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It is a fractious city council unable to work together all that well - the city suffers - there are some very significant decisions to be made

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The three things the city wants to focus on in 2022

Fractious council

Losing the football

Waterfront Hotel

With nothing but virtual Council meetings for just about two years now it is difficult to read just what is taking place.

Councillor Kearns is missing the Standing Committee Clerk and the City Manager are included

If you know the players a little you can pick up some of the discord – and there is certainly discord but this council works very hard to ensure that very little of it gets seen by the public.

The hope that many Burlingtonians had, including this reporter and the Gazette, when Marianne Meed Ward bent her head forward as the Chain of Office was placed around her neck is not today what it was that December evening in 2018. The hope hasn’t entirely disappeared but there is discord and differences.

Council is split into two factions:  The Mayor who will be supported by Rory Nisan until the day he is no longer in office and Kelvin Galbraith who likes the way the Mayor accepts his – let’s build stuff approach to being a ward Councillor.

One the other side, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman are usually on the same page – and it is seldom the same page as the Mayor.

The factions are not cast in stone with Nisan being the exception.

The swing vote – didn’t see that coming in 2018

The swing vote is ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna (who’d thought this is how things would work out) who has taken to developing his own view on those matters he understands. And while he is frequently with the Mayor – not as much as he used to be.

Five of the seven members of Council have now been in office for three years and are gearing up for re-election. With one exception the expectation is that all seven will seek re-election. And no – I am not prepared to say who the exception is at this point.

The important things is the the newbies have found most of their footing – they have developed a good working relationships with their constituents; feel comfortable with most of the issues and are tiring of the way the Mayor treats them. Lisa Kearns thought she would like to serve on the Police Services Board and chose to put her name forward. The Mayor did not support Kearns – and the seat went to a Council member from Oakville.

Traditionally members of a Council support each other when they have something they want to do outside of Council.  Meed Ward may have had some very good reasons for supporting someone else for the Police Services Board but common courtesy called for her to talk to Kearns and explain her position. Kearns was apparently blind-sided by the Mayor.

Without a doubt the quickest and the fastest mind on Council; a workhorse as well – does her homework

Kearns, by the way, would have been an excellent Police Serve Board member – she does her homework (better than anyone else on Council) she would have kept the Board members on their toes.

Councillor Stolte looking for some clarity.

When Councillor Stolte isn’t asking for additional clarification on a matter she struggles to get around the interference the Mayor pushes in front of her.

If Stolte has an event going on and invites the Mayor – it becomes the Mayor’s event.

The differences in approach and philosophy became glaringly obvious when the Mayor could not find a way to get the tax increase number she felt she needed going into an election in October.

Her thinking had merit – it deserves an explanation and some analysis and in the fullness of time we will get that to you.

Meed Ward had a well thought out position – the other council members just didn’t buy it. This Council came very close to being in a position where they were not able to agree on a budget which would have put the creating of a budget in the hands of staff – which City Manager Tim Commisso advised would “not be a pretty picture”.

There are times when the Mayor bends over backwards to get her colleagues to “collaborate” with her. The city does not have someone serving as Deputy Mayor because the members of Council could not agree on just what the job would entail.

When the Burlington Land Partnership was set up every member of Council wanted to be on it – wasn’t something the city manager wanted so no one sits on the BLP – which by the way is a significant venture that the general public knows very little about.

Transparency became her middle name – she draped it around her like a flag

In 2010 there were three new members on Council. Meed Ward, newly elected had a lot of time in as probably the leading delegate as a citizen knew the ropes. Paul Sharman had a lot of senior executive experience in the private sector and knew his way around process and financial reports. The only really new ember in 2010 was Blair Lancaster. There wasn’t nearly as much learning on the job for the newbies.

And Rick Goldring who had become Mayor had a good feel for what the job was about – which is not the same thing as being able to actually do the job.

Normally wears a winning smile.

Meed Ward is now in a similar situation. She is Mayor but has yet to create the set of skills needed to make it happen. Politics is the art of the possible with grey being the dominant colour – black or white doesn’t work.  Meed Ward doesn’t do grey.

Listening intently and being able to read the wind as well as the tea leaves in a cup are vital. It is an art with an understanding of the little bit of science that matters.

What a Councillor is made of should be evident by the end of the third year of the term – and with Meed Ward it is evident but it isn’t all that useful.

Expensive but well worth the price – great legal counsel solved a problem for the ADI Group – shovels are in the ground and the cranes are hauling concrete.

There have been some major wins. The Mayor managed to get rid of the Planner in place when she was elected. She did get the Urban Growth Centre moved north and proved that the a bus terminal that is the size of the average kitchen is not an MTSA – despite what sharp legal counsel was able to convince an OMB hearing that it was.  That was a big win for the ADI Group

Meed Ward seems adrift when it comes to solving the football, almost missing in action on the redevelopment plans for the Waterfront Hotel.

She gave Black Lives Matter the coverage it needs and then got totally silly with her drive to put Rainbow Crosswalks in every ward while learning to live with a budget that needed some time in a Weight Watchers class.

In 2018 the Gazette said Meed Ward was the best of the three people running for the job. We expected her to grow into the job – that hasn’t happened and unless she has a horse shoe in her purse that can be put to good use, or knows how to pull a rabbit out of the hat, she is in trouble.

Rick Goldring seldom wore his chain of Office outside Council Chambers

So much so that Rick Goldring is understood to be looking at his chances of once again wearing the Chain of Office.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Are there other candidates that might want to reach for that brass ring? There are – but they are nowhere near ready to show their hand.

As for the members of Council Meed Ward will have the support of at least two – one of which may not win his seat come October 2020.

The problem with the football and the strange situation with the Waterfront re-development project will follow.

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

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Communications people at city hall are limiting what they choose to say

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

A report from City Hall on how the Emergency Control Group was looking forward and beginning to think about when the State of Emergency could be lifted had a couple of bits of data that raised some questions.

The report mentioned that a “few” staff members described themselves as reacting from “suspected workplace transmissions”.  Not quite sure what that means – but with a positivity rate of more than 40% in the overall provincial population and the Premier talking about hundreds of thousands of people flooding the hospital system and the folks at Joseph Brant saying don’t come to the hospital – self diagnose – that few (five people) doesn’t resonate all that positively.

We also asked if there were any members of Council, members of the Emergency Control Group and the Burlington Leadership Team had reported symptoms or gone into self isolation.

We were told that information wasn’t available due to privacy and confidentiality protocols.

That’s equivalent to what the ostrich does with its head.

City Manager Tim Commisso, above and Sheila Jones are the core strength of the administrative side at city hall. Were both to be ill at the same time – things would be difficult.

Were Tim Commisso, the City Manager and Sheila Jones the best Executive Director the city has to both be coping with the Omicron variant at the same time the city would be in close to dire straights.

There are a lot of people referred to as leaders – Burlington has precious few who bring to bear the experience, skill set and command know how that Jones and Commisso – with the exception perhaps of the Fire Chief.

Several of the other bright Executive lights at city hall know their jobs exceptionally well – Joan Ford leads at that level, but that doesn’t quite equate will tested, proven leadership.

A touch of transparency would go quite well about now.

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

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Rivers on - The federal Liberal record during 2021

By Ray Rivers

December 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Many folks, including some Liberals, criticized the Trudeau government for choosing to call an election in the midst of the pandemic this past year.    Under Canada’s fixed term election law, when in a minority situation, the party in power can either call an election at their convenience or wait for the opposition to bring them down at their’s.   Even Mr. Harper, who had introduced the election law, had opted for that provision.

Candidates in the 2021 federal election

The polls had been indicating a Liberal majority, but that didn’t happen.  Still after all the ruckus about this having been ‘an unnecessary election’, the Trudeau government wouldn’t dare do it again.  And neither would the opposition now.  That should give the Liberals four more years in power, if all parties act responsibly.

Brian Mulroney’s government had been the first to alert the nation to global warming.  Jean Chretien signed onto the first international agreement committing Canada to emission reduction limits.   But the Trudeau government is the first to implement policies and programs to seriously address climate change.

The government has announced caps on oil and gas emissions and is regulating Canada’s electricity grid to be net zero carbon by 2035.  Subsidies to the fossil fuel industries, which have persisted in the billions through the early Trudeau years, are set to finally be ended.

Regulations to ban the single use of plastic by the end of 2022

A significant tree planting program is being launched.  Regulations to ban the single use of plastic by the end of 2022 are in process, and plastic has been named a toxic substance under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act.   All new sales of gasoline powered car and trucks will be banned as of 2035. Grants for the purchase of electric vehicles will continue and have actually been expanded to allow for more models.

And the Trudeau government has been investing in ‘green infrastructure’, such as public transit.  But perhaps most significantly, the PM is borrowing a page from former PM Mulroney and demanding each of his ministers to assume responsibility for the environment.  Ministerial mandate letters dictate all hands on deck since climate change affects so much in our society/economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot of the wind out of government plans to do much else.  Despite some hesitation and missteps early in the pandemic the federal government finally got it mostly right on border security; vaccination availability, vaccine mandates and passports.  Despite having no vaccine manufacturing capability, Canada is now one of the most vaccinated nations on earth.

Canada now manufactures its own personal protection equipment (PPE), even though some is still imported.  The military and Red Cross have gone in to help when provincial governments in at least half of Canadian provinces were no longer capable of handling COVID on their own.  And though public health policy, lockdowns and business restrictions are managed at the provincial level, it is the federal support programs which provide a crutch and blanket for those displaced by COVID.

So when provincial jurisdictions like Alberta, and even Ontario, ignore the advice of their medical professionals, potentially allowing another surge, more cost just gets added to the federal deficit and debt.  And, as we know, the federal spending bill, our deficits and debt burden, is huge and growing.

First Nations communities are expected to transition to self-government and move away from the Indian Act.

Another priority, Canada has embarked on an historic path to resolve its almost incoherent relationship with our indigenous population.   The tragedy of native residential schools has highlighted the injustice of our past relationship with our indigenous population, going back to well before confederation.  The new Crown-Indigenous minister, Marc Miller, has been tasked with resolving long standing land claims and supporting First Nations communities as they transition to self-government and move away from the Indian Act.

It’s all an ambitious agenda, especially for a minority government having to rely on enough opposition support to keep the momentum going.  That likely explains why Mr. Trudeau wanted so badly to win a majority.   Still, it is a credit to all of our political leaders that there has been so much multipartite support to help Canadians hurt by the pandemic public health policies.

The Conservatives have more recently dropped their support for the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) which provides income support for unemployed workers directly.  They do, however, support the more expensive wage subsidies, despite these periodically ending up as bonus payments for executives and as corporate dividend payments.

Mr. Trudeau has rejected calls for a universal basic income program in lieu of the current patchwork of low income financial supports, something the NDP has been advocating would be more efficient and less costly than CERB.

Tory opposition to CERB is rooted in complaints by some business entities that CERB impacts labour’s work ethic.  CERB had been scheduled to wrap up before the end of 2021 but support funding will be extended, thanks to the arrival of Omicron.

Is this the last oil-gas pipeline to be laid?

There is also disagreement between the two major parties on the future of the oil and gas sector, even though the handwriting is on the wall.  The fossil fuel era is over but oil and gas revenue has been a big part of Canada’s GDP, even though it has been massively subsidized by governments at all levels for over half a century.   And, after all, fossil fuels, including oil and gas, are most responsible for global climate change.

Canada made the list of the top top ten climate disasters of 2021.  Not only did these disasters cost in the billions, both privately and publicly, but they destroyed forests, farms and even whole towns like Lytton BC.  We know these kinds of destructive events will not be a one time event as the temperature of the planet continues to warm.

Apparently some folks were so upset that Trudeau called the election last fall that they voted for one of the other parties.  But I have yet to hear about people being so upset that they didn’t even show up to vote.  In fact voting in last fall’s election was significantly higher than that in two of the previous four elections, despite the challenges of the pandemic.  It’s past time to get over the election.

2022 is a new year and the federal government is kicking it off with a tough agenda and three priorities.  The pandemic, global warming and indigenous reconciliation.   Let’s get on with it.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links:

Top Ten Climate Disasters –

Banning Plastics –

Crown-Indigenous Minister Mandate

Tory Support for CERB –
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Confusion and frustration reign when competency and skilled managers should be at the wheel

By Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The Provincial Science Table determines the Omicron variant of Covid19 is here and it is going to infect thousands.

The Premier does another media event and implores people to call the telephone number set out in front of him and get vaccinated.

People turned out in droves; some line up at 5:30 in the morning waiting for the GO-VAXX bus to arrive.

Someone somewhere in the bureaucracy said walk-ns were permitted – all you had to do was show up and you could get your first shot; your second or the booster shot.

A GO-VAXX bus has the capacity to vaccination 247 people in a day.

It didn’t take much in the way of math skills to see a train wreck coming.

Hundreds were turned away and told to go online and register.

Add to this “dog chasing his tail” scenario: those refusing to get vaccinated at all and complaining about their rights being trampled upon with less than a thought about the rights of others not to be infected by someone not prepared to be vaccinated.

Most responsible organizations are respecting the right not to be vaccinated but insisting that the consequences have to be borne as well.  Don’t show up for work until you are vaccinated

The vaccination numbers for the Region of Halton are very good – depending on how you slice and dice them there is a cohort that has a 93% vaccination level (80+ with one dose).

Yet there appears to be some confusion and a lot of frustration.  With more than 1000 airline flights cancelled a few days ago it is clear a lot of people aren’t going anywhere.

The numbers today popped up to record 10,436 new cases with 726 hospitalizations and 190 in ICU.

The damage resulting from the Christmas get togethers is coming in.  Expect a lot more with New Year celebrations.  We have experienced 20 months of living through a pandemic and there is little assurance that once we get through Omicron there won’t be another variant.

People will want to let loose and assure themselves that even if they do get infected the Omicron variant isn’t all that serious.

The tourism and hospitality sectors, particularly at the small business level, have been almost decimated.

Parents don’t know if classes will open in January.

Many people are reluctant to return to jobs that put them in direct contact with people they don’t know who might be infected.

We learned yesterday of a person getting ready to start a new job but having to isolate for ten days – the person isn’t infected but the children are.

The province says more than 176,000 vaccine doses were administered yesterday. 90.7 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have one dose and 88.1 per cent have two doses.

When we can step back and look at the vaccines the pharmaceutical sector has produced in very short periods of time, yes, we know they are making a bundle but the fact remains – some exceptional science has been done.

There are two levels that continue to disappoint.  The Neanderthals who don’t understand what is taking place and refuse to be vaccinated, and the provincial governments that manage to screw it up time after time.

There is more than business at stake.

Ontario’s Premier is fixated on businesses being open – failing to realize that it isn’t all about just the economy.

Is anyone convinced there is a clear, well thought out plan to get us through all this?  At a time when threats of polarization and social fragmentation prevail it is fair to ask if there is a national collective of trusting citizens able to confront the contemporary challenges.

Keep in mind,, dear reader that come next June – not that far away – the stumble bums in office now will be seeking your vote to continue doing what they have been doing.

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

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Inflation in a Time of COVID and Global Warming

By Ray Rivers

December 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

COVID and climate change, not the federal deficit, is driving up prices in this country. Public health measures have led to global supply chain blockages and workplace interruptions. And 2021 has been the absolutely worst year for disastrous climate events, including forest fires, flooding and drought. Prairie grain harvests, for example, are reported to be 30-50% lower this year, which also impacts meat prices.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre in the House of Commons

So it’s unfortunate that Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre is peddling misinformation. He blames the high deficit and debt levels for the country’s current 4.7% increase in the price of an average basket of goods. He argues that it is because government debt has resulted in too much money being printed and circulated in the economy. But that is not what is happening.

To complicate his argument, Poilievre is demanding federal tax cuts, including the revenue neutral carbon tax, which will….put more money in people’s hands and further increase the deficit.

Poilievre is entitled to his opinion but no reputable economists support his thesis. Canada is actually doing better than most OECD nations when it comes to inflation and with an inflation rate a whole third lower than we’re seeing south of the border. Canada’s inflation has been hovering around 4.7% for the last couple of months, though nobody is discounting that it might climb a little higher before it declines again.

In any case,Ha good chunk of Canada’s economy is inflation proofed – our pensions, income tax deductions, etc. which have been indexed to the consumer price index (CPI). And our health and education programs are all publicly funded. So it’s mostly food and other consumables, some of which are waiting to unload at the ports or sitting in a barge adrift in Vancouver Harbour.

The Covid19 virus and the variant Omicron along with Climate Change are the structural changes we are going through right now.

And then there is housing. Housing prices have been rising for a while now. And while low interest rates, allowing more people to qualify for mortgages, are partly responsible, the real culprit is the extremely high rate of immigration. Canada’s immigration target is 400,000 new entrants a year, over 100,000 of those looking for housing in the GTA.

Some level of inflation is not unhealthy in a growing economy and/or one experiencing some measure of structural change. And structural changes is what we are going through right now, thanks to COVID and climate change. The federal government has a number of tools to slow down inflation should it get out of hand. These include tax increases, reducing government spending and transfers, import and export restrictions and controlling the interest rate.

The Finance Minister just renewed the Bank of Canada’s mandate, which includes exercising monetary policy to raise interest rates and attempt to bring inflation down to 2% or less. However, given the still shaky economic situation with an ongoing pandemic, nobody should expect the Bank to jack up rates, particularly for the current bout of price increases which reflect an economy very much in transition.

Higher interest rates will also raise the cost of the government borrowing to finance our debt and deficit. That will lead to increased deficits and possibly eliminate funding for other government programs. In the end higher rates suppress economy activity by reducing consumer demand. That will lead to higher unemployment which no government ever wants.

Raising interest rates would push Canada’s international exchange rate up as foreign investors up their Canadian investments to get the higher rates here. That would prompt exchange rate increases and impact Canada’s international competitiveness as our exports become relatively more expensive and imports relatively cheaper.

This is the situation Brian Mulroney found himself in the late 80’s as he attempted to quell inflation with monetary policy. We ended up with higher unemployment, deterioration in our terms of trade and creating the greatest accumulation of federal debt in Canada’s history – that is until the pandemic hit us.

Over-reacting to Canada’s modest inflation rate can be fraught with these potential complications. The Minister of Finance and Bank of Canada are betting that the supply chain blockages will be resolved and the price pressure will lessen. But given where we are with the pandemic rebounding energetically, and climate change throwing curve balls around every corner, nobody is in a hurry to raise interest rates or cut taxes. That is possibly except for Pierrre Poilievre who has no idea what he’s talking about.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Pierre Poilievre –  National Debt –  Crop Failures –

Food Prices –   Inflation –   Fiscal Update

Actual Fiscal Update –   Home Prices –

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Council passes a budget without letting the public see just how dysfunctional this tribe of seven actually is

By Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The spin masters at city hall are doing everything they can to put the best possible spin on the budget decisions that were made yesterday afternoon.

A media announcement declared: “ City Council approves 2022 budget: 2.87 per cent overall tax increase to maintain City services and infrastructure, and address continued impacts of the pandemic.”

The statement is true – it is a fact – however it isn’t the fact that matters most to you.

You want to know how much the city increased your taxes: THAT number is 4.62% over what the taxes were last year.

That 2.87% number is the result of combining the taxes you will pay to the Boards of Education and the taxes you pay to the Region. The city collects all those taxes from you.

This is not a good budget – not just because of the size of the increase. The Mayor said it was less than the current rate of inflation – which is also true.

The media release also said: “For example, homeowners with a home assessed at $500,000 would pay an additional $111.80 per year or $2.15 per week.

When was the last time you saw a house in Burlington assessed at $500,000? Houses are now in the $850,000 range with $1 million prices showing up regularly.

The spending that the city does is the number that matters to you. And that spending increased by 4.62% over last year.

Council did manage to reduce the size of the budget Staff had presented – but by less than 1%

The five year simulation suggests that we are looking at higher tax increases for a number of years.  The best Council could do was shave off less than 1% from the budget Staff gave them.

These are very tough times; everyone knows that. What we have a right to expect is straight up honest answers and information from the people we elect.  That seems to be in short supply these days.

It is unusual for municipal counsellors to increase taxes in an election year.

There were a number of way this Council could have gotten the increase into the 3.5% range.

Getting what she wanted proved to be out of the Mayor’s reach.

The problem was Mayor Meed Ward could not convince her council colleagues to see things her way – All, except for ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, voted against this budget

Mayor Meed Ward called this “… a true collective effort of Council and staff in service of our community to deal with now needs and plan for our future.”

In truth it is the best this council could do given the level of acrimony between a majority of the council members and the Mayor.

Few are prepared to stand up to the Mayor and wrest the control she now has and ensure that the voices of the others are fairly heard. Councillors Stolte and Kearns need to stand up to the Mayor.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan chaired the Budget Committee: prevented Council members from moving motions on more than one occasion.

On just about every issue the Mayor has the full support of ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan.

The balance of the other four tend to side with Councillor Sharman who was certainly doesn’t get credit for making sure this budget fully served the people of Burlington.

Galbraith is perhaps not aware of the election race he is going to face next October. There are people in ward 3 considering giving Nisan a run for that council seat.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman with his eye on the prize

As for the Mayor – you heard it here first – Former Mayor Rick Goldring will run for Mayor in 2022. There is a substantial group that are urging him to run again.  He is positioning himself for a run – whether he throws his hat in the ring – only time will tell.

Councillor Sharman will also run for Mayor and because Goldring will take votes away from Meed Ward – Paul Sharman could well be the Mayor of the city for the 2022 – 2025 term.

This terrible budget exercise can and should be seen as the beginning of the 2022 municipal election.

Before then however, there is a provincial election that will take place. There are some changes needed at that level as well.

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

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Call Centres and the law in Canada

By Connie Price

December 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Have you found yourself calling an organization to resolve a problem and finding that the person you are speaking has a poor command of the English language and you have difficulty understanding what they are saying, The problem is often exacerbated by a poor connection.

Turns out there is an option available that will get you someone who you can understand.

Connie Price, active in a number of community initiatives came across a solution.

Any time you call an 800 number (for a credit card, banking, charter communications, health and other insurance, computer help desk, etc. ) and you find that you’re talking to a foreign customer service representative (with an accent, difficult to understand perhaps in India, Philippines, you can do the following.

Offshore Call Centre

After you connect and you realize that the Customer Service Representative is not working in Canada (you can always ask where they’re located) if you are not sure about the accent).

Say, “I’d like to speak to a Customer Service Representative in Canada.”

The rep might suggest talking to his/her manager, But, again, politely say, “Thank you, but I’d like to speak to a Customer Service Representative in Canada ..”

You will be connected to a representative in Canada – That’s the rule and the LAW.

It takes less than a minute to have your call re-directed to Canada .

Tonight when I got redirected to a Canadian Rep, I asked again to make sure – and yes, she was from Calgary.

Imagine what would happen if every Canadian Citizen insisted on talking to only Canadian phone reps, from this day on.

Imagine how that would ultimately impact the number of Canadian jobs that would need to be created ASAP.

If I tell 10 people to consider this and you tell 10 people to consider doing this – see what I mean…it becomes an exercise in viral marketing 101.

Remember – the goal here is to restore jobs back here at home – not to be abrupt or rude to a foreign phone representative. You will get correct answers, good advice, and solutions to your problem – in real English.

If you agree, please tell 10 people you know, and ask them to tell 10 people they know.

Price adds that she had also learned that Canada Post Customer service is headed to India before the New Year.

This can get a little sticky – people who don’t have a command of the English language will never improve if they are not given an opportunity to use the language.

Racist attitudes slide in here and the complaint is frequently based on race and not the quality of the service.

Some people are hard to understand.  Many can be understood – a little patience might be needed.

The issue could be resolved if those Canadian companies who use offshore Call Centres were required to provide a minimum number of hours training people who don’t handle English all that well.

Let’s not let those racist inclinations to come to the surface.

Connie Price

Connie Price is active with the Burlington Senior Community and her local church.

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Council struggles to recommend a budget that can be voted on

Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Some background on the budget process to put what took place last week in context.

Staff prepare a budget setting out what they believe is needed in the way of funding to operate the city.

They prepare a Capital Budget and an Operating Budget.

There is a lot of work done to get the drafts of the budget completed including presentations to Council at Standing Committees.

That budget is then debated at a Council Standing Committee.  Burlington uses BARs (Budget Action Requests) prepared by each council member setting out where they would like to see changes made in specific items.

Those BARs then become the agenda for the budget meeting

This is the process when Council tells staff what they want made in the way of changes.

The work Staff does is administrative; the work done at Council is both administrative and political.  Council members have views and projects they want to advance; see it as the individual council member’s agenda.

The Mayor also has an agenda.

And 2020 is an election year.

The budget timeline was to have council do its work on the Tuesday and Thursday and send a recommendation to Council that would be dealt with on December 14th.

That didn’t happen.  The four votes required to get a recommendation to Council just weren’t to be had.

Budget Committee Chair Rory Nisan

Between now and the 14th individual council members were asked to review their original decisions and come up with ways they think they could get closer to whatever number is going to be acceptable to the Mayor and Rory Nisan Chair of the Budget Committee.

Council would review the recommendation on the 14th, vote on it and if at least four votes for the budget can be found at council it passes and we would all know what we were looking at in the way of taxes for 2022.

However, if at any point in the process a member asks that the vote be called the Chair has to call the vote.  If the Chair doesn’t call the vote he will be challenged this time and forced to call the vote.

Councillor Sharman tried to force a calling of the vote at Standing Committee on Thursday but got stiffed by Chair Nisan who understood the rules better than Sharman.

As messy as all this has been there was one point that everyone agreed upon before the Standing Committee recessed on Thursday – any ideas for changes would be run by Treasurer Joan Ford who would coordinate whatever was put in front of the Standing Committee on the 14th.

Joan Ford, Executive Director of Finance, has a busy few days ahead of her if there is going to be a Council recommended budget.

Ms Ford has a busy weekend ahead of her – she can expect a majority of the members of council to be on the phone to her.  Fortunately for Burlington this is a treasurer who knows the budget and the ramifications when changes are made.  She has been supported by Lori Jivan who has been crunching the numbers.  At some point Ms Jivan will be treasurer somewhere – she has been doing a great job.

As for Mayor Meed Ward she desperately needs a vote from the Committee that recommends a budget.

Without that her re-election prospects are at serious risk.  As it is, the myth that she leads a Council that is reading from the same hymn book is no more.

Related news items:

Is the budget the first municipal election skirmish?

Sharman pushes Council to get more information when preparing budgets.

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

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Are there grounds for dismissing the City Clerk?

By Pepper Parr

December 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

In the municipal world the Clerk used to reign supreme.

The person holding the office had years of experience and understood the needs of the people and knew both the strengths and weaknesses of Staff.

Like most things, the administrative needs grew and people with better educations and stronger administrative skills began to be hired and grew into becoming CAO’s or City Managers.

Kevin Arjoon came to Burlington from Halifax

The position of Clerk remained: bylaws require the signature of the both the Mayor and the Clerk before they can be declared.

When a new Clerk is hired the first task for the new hire is to get the lay of the land: what exists in the way of staff; get to know the members of Council; take a hard look at what there is in the way of Governance policies and scour the outstanding Staff Directions.

Staff Directions are documents that instruct staff to perform specific tasks and report back to Council.

They are debated at Council meetings, written into the minutes and with web casts, now archived, are available to the public.

To say the 2018 Staff Direction related to the issuing of taxi licenses was lost is (a) not true, (b) rank incompetence and (c) a sign of some pretty deep rot somewhere in city hall.

Kevin Arjoon, current city Clerk.

When a Staff Direction doesn’t get followed up on, it can lead directly into the hearts of the lives of people.

The lack of a taxi service limits in an often severe way the way some people live their lives.

This isn’t the place to dissect those instances.

This is the place to ask the current Mayor and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman what they have to say about the Staff Direction that can’t be found.

Both have been on Council since October 2010 and were in the room when the Staff Direction was created and voted upon.

Time for a heart to heart talk involving the Mayor, Councillor Sharman and the City manager about what to do about the current Clerk.  This one can’t be blamed on City Manager Tim Commisso, he wasn’t an employee in 2018.  However, he did hire the current Clerk.

Some feel there are grounds for dismissal.

What is not acceptable is the cover up that appears to be taking place.

There is a very competent Deputy Clerk in place – a staff position Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wanted to get rid of to save about $150,000, but that’s another story.

Related new stories

New city Clerk

Managing an at times fractious council

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

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Rivers: The Apple and the Tree - one tends not to fall very far from the other.

By Ray Rivers

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

“The premier thinks the road to recovery from COVID-19 is paving over paradise,” – Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner

How far from the tree has this apple fallen?

Brian Mulroney can’t be happy. He was once proclaimed Canada’s greenest prime minister. And here his own daughter Carolyn Mulroney, as Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, is opening up the province for even more environmentally unsustainable and costly urban sprawl.

It was bad enough that as former provincial attorney general she declared war on the federal government’s carbon tax, widely considered one of the most efficient ways to lower society’s carbon footprint. But now she has begun paving over parts of Ontario’s greenbelt with even more highways.

The new 413 highway would be 59 km long and would take up over 400 acres of the Greenbelt and more than 2,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland – among Ontario’s most productive farmland. Impacts include cutting through 85 waterways, damaging 220 wetlands and disrupting the habitats of 10 species-at-risk. And the kicker – it is estimated to cause over 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 resulting in more than $1.4 billion in damages from that pollution.

Justification for this highway has never been made – is there one?

The previous government had convened an expert panel which ended up dismissing the 413 concept on the basis that it would save the average commuter only 30-60 seconds, less than a minute, in commute times. In fact this highway, estimated conservatively at around $10 billion would mostly serve drivers wanting to get up to their cottages. And the government is claiming it’ll also be toll free for them.

Doug Ford has made new highways the centre piece of his campaign for re-election as premier of Ontario. A second highway, the Bradford Bypass, joining highways 400 and 404 and running through the heart of Ontario’s primary market growing land has already started accepting bids for construction.

The province estimates that some drivers could save as much as 35 minutes using this bypass, but again that would largely be people travelling into cottage country. If built, its four lanes would cut through 27 waterways, nearly 11 hectares of sensitive wetlands and the Holland Marsh, a region of the protected Greenbelt nicknamed “Ontario’s vegetable patch” for its fertile soil.

But even as the Premier is planning a new highway, a current high capacity highway, designed specifically for commuters in the GTA’s urban sprawl is sitting nearly empty given its capacity. The contract with highway 407 allows for the company to raise its tolls whenever traffic reaches a pre-determined threshold – something it has done repeatedly. The reverse also applies – that tolls should come down when usage falls.

How come the toll rates never come down?

But for the last two years traffic on the 407 has been considerably below levels to justify the high tolls they are charging. So under its contract, the 407 should have been fined a billion dollars. But the government has given 407 a free pass, a get out of jail card. 407 is not even required to lower the tolls to match traffic volumes. It was like an officer stopping you driving 140 kms in a 40 km school zone and telling you to be careful.

Mr, Ford complains about traffic congestion for daily commuters. Make no mistake, the single best way to reduce that traffic congestion on the 401 would be lower tolls on Hwy 407. Why build another highway way the heck out in farm country that will also sit mostly empty?

So why is the government so determined to build these new roads? Well the Toronto Star and Canada’s National Observer have identified a good reason. Their investigation found over 3,000 acres of prime real estate near the proposed route that is owned by large developers and would be expected to increase dramatically in value. Five of these developers have close ties to Premier Ford’s government including one who was the chair of Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign.

And it only gets juicier when it appears that Minister Mulroney’s office got its hands dirty redirecting the highway Bradford Bypass highway routing away from the second, third and 11th holes of a golf course owned by the father of another Conservative MPP.

Golf course locations appear to be a determining factor in highway locations.

The federal government has claimed that it will intervene with its own environmental assessment (EA) of the Hwy 413, because the Ford government had virtually disassembled and gutted Ontario’s EA process after taking power. The feds have not yet said they will require an EA for the bypass, however, though the current assessment is stale dated, having been undertaken some twenty years ago.

And it’s not just environmental assessments that have been subject to Mr. Ford’s my way or the highway management philosophy. Doug Ford has issued 57 MZOs, more than triple the number that the last Liberal government issued over its 15 years in power. He has expanded his powers three times and has bulldozed his pet developments over the rulings and wishes of local municipalities, the Greenbelt and conservation authorities.

The Auditor-General, Bonnie Lysyk, in a recent report noted that the province is failing to protect wildlife from developers and resource industries, and that the Environment Ministry is “essentially facilitating development rather than protecting species at risk.” Building another highway will just add to the toll of killed and injured wildlife. According to one study, today there are an estimated 14,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions a year – 5 to 10 per cent of all accidents in the province.

In that part of the world this might be seen as an election sign.

When Carolyn Mulroney told the world that she had decided to relocate to Ontario and enter provincial politics there was a sense of optimism in the air. After the dirty tricks the party had engaged in to politically assassinate their former leader, Patrick Brown, a fresh face and mind would be welcome in Ontario’s traditional ruling party.

But that was not to be. While she and her dad may differ on the environment and climate change, they share a passion for political favouritism and its dirty laundry. A two-year inquiry into Brian Mulroney’s dealings with German-Canadian arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber concluded that the former prime minister acted in an “inappropriate” way when he accepted large amounts of cash from Schreiber. According to the judge, Mulroney had “failed to live up to the standard of conduct that he himself adopted in the 1985 ethics code.”

Carolyn Mulroney hasn’t been caught with her hands in the till yet, but her role in building highways to the benefit, primarily, of her development friends and political colleagues doesn’t look good on her. She’ll never be seen as an environmental steward, as her father was, but when it comes to the darker side of politics, it’s what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Mulroney Honoured –   Hwy 413 –   Bradford By-Pass –   407 Free Pass

Developer Friends –   AG’s report –   Wildlife and Road Traffic-

Mulroney – a different view 

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The Mayor is now in re-election mode - much different campaign team this time

By Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Creating the organizational structure needed to run an election – and win – requires a network.

To the winner go the spoils.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and her husband Pete were out for dinner with Dianne and Nick Leblovitch at Jakes earlier in the month.

Was this the first meeting of the Mayor Meed Ward 2022 re-election team?

Meed Ward had a solid team during 2018.  Pete Ward is a fine strategic thinker and knew what his wife needed in the way of emotional support as well as some sound strategic thinking.

Pete delivered on both levels.

The Leblovics were part of the 2018 team and, based on the information we have, they are the only two who are hold overs from the 2018 election.

That is unusual and has resulted in several noses being out of joint.

Nick Leblovic is a long time political junkie and loves being around people who are close to the seat of government.

Wife Dianne has a well honed political sense that goes all the way back to when Cam Jackson was Mayor.

There was a time when, as publisher of the Gazette, there would be long Saturday morning calls from Nick who was looking for updates, reaction, and as much political gossip as you could feed him.

At the time, Leblovic was the Chair of the Waterfront Advisory committee that ran into a sunset decision which brought a fast close to his career as an Advisory Committee Chair.

When he was told that the committee would cease to exist at the end of the year Nick; said he was blind-sided.

The chummy relationship with Nick came to an end soon after when he sued me and the Gazette for a million – which I didn’t realize I had.

The Libel action didn’t go anywhere.  Leblovic chose to be his own lawyer and either lost interest or forgot how to practice law.

Can the Diane Leblovic political savvy, Pete Ward’s strategic ability, and the support Meed Ward has from her tribe result in another win?

Time will tell but get ready for a rough and tumble election.  Recall what was done to Meed Ward when she ran in 2018.

Related news stories:

Life of the Waterfront Advisory Committee comes to an end.

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

 

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