Rivers defines corruption - Auditor General points a finger

By Ray Rivers

August 11th, 2023



Premier Doug was right about one thing. Ontario’s housing crisis is a matter of demand and supply. And though he didn’t actually point fingers, we all know that Justin Trudeau’s ambitious immigration policy is mostly why there are all these new Canadian residents looking for homes which don’t yet exist. Still, of the federal leaders only Maxime Bernier would restrict the flow of immigration. Even Pierre Poilievre, who likes to complain about housing and inflation problems related to the surge of newcomers, has yet to offer alternate immigration targets.

Premier and Minister of Housing take their case to the public – the try to keep a straight face.

In any case, housing demand is not why Doug Ford carved up the Greenbelt. One only has to read the well researched and damning report by Ontario’s Auditor General (AG) to see that his justification for gifting Greenbelt lands to his friends was just not true. Every person who voted in the last election and cares about preservation of our democracy and the environment should make her report mandatory reading.

It is a very sad story; a story of betrayal of public trust and one that we would have expected somewhere else, like Russia, rather than Ontario. But Ontario has its own oligarchs, a handful of wealthy developers receiving privileged treatment by the government in power just as they would in Mr. Putin’s world.

Breaking up the Greenbelt was never really about providing new homes for the masses. The AG’s says it well in her report…

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Housing Ministry) had already allocated the entirety of the 1.5-million-unit housing target to municipalities in October 2022—one month before the government’s proposal to remove land from the Greenbelt.

The government and the Housing Ministry did not have evidence that removing land from the Greenbelt was needed to meet the government’s housing goals.

Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force determined that a shortage of land was not the cause of the province’s housing challenges and that the Greenbelt and other environmentally sensitive areas must be protected.

Chief Planners in the regions of Durham, Hamilton and York—which are home to all 15 sites removed from the Greenbelt—told us that Greenbelt land was not needed to meet the housing targets assigned to them by the Housing Ministry and that there is sufficient land outside the Greenbelt in their regions that is already or easily serviced.

The Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario, a group of senior municipal planning leaders from across Ontario, stated it does not support the removal of lands from the Greenbelt as a necessary step to address Ontario’s housing needs.

Ford has attempted to justify this gift to developers by claiming he is, in turn, adding even more land to the Greenbelt. Couldn’t he have designated those those additional lands for housing instead of robbing the Greenbelt? The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs indicated about 83 per cent of the area being removed is classified as prime agricultural land having the highest quality and capability for agriculture. And then there are the vital wetlands, 117 alone in the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve.

Perhaps just as disturbing is how all of this was done. Again, the AG report says it well…..

The way the government assessed and selected lands for removal from, and addition to, the Greenbelt was not publicly transparent, objective or fully informed, and was inconsistent with the vision, goals and processes of the Greenbelt Plan, as well as previous amendments to the Greenbelt boundary.

Opening the Greenbelt for development was not needed to meet the government’s goal of building 1.5 million housing units over the next 10 years.
About 92% of the acreage removed from the Greenbelt was from five land sites passed on to the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff from two developers, including a land site associated with a third developer.

Assessment criteria provided by the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff were altered and facilitated the removal of land sites from the Greenbelt.

The proposal prepared by the Housing Ministry—signed and approved by the Deputy Minister of Housing and the Housing Minister, and provided to Cabinet (including the Premier) to inform the decision to change the Greenbelt’s boundary—did not clearly and correctly explain how the proposed land sites had been identified, assessed and selected for removal.

Based on our interviews, other political public service staff in the Minister’s Office, the Premier’s Office and non-political public service staff in Cabinet Office, indicated that they were similarly unaware of how specific properties were identified.

The government did not assess financial impacts such as serviceability costs, taxation impacts and land value impacts of Greenbelt boundary changes.

The 2022 Greenbelt amendments were made without regard for environmental and agricultural risks, were contrary to the Greenbelt Plan’s vision and goals of providing permanent protection to key agricultural lands and natural features, and may lead to adverse environmental and agricultural impacts.

The Province did not make sufficient efforts to consult the public in a meaningful way or to analyze all of the comments received from the public consultation process required by the Environmental Bill of Rights,

Finally, the AG suggested that the windfall profit to the developers was something like $8.3 Billion. What would you call that?

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:

AG Report    AG News Release    Oligarchy

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Has the Prime Minsiter walked away from the housing crisis?

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



While in Hamilton handing out federal funds last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there’s “simply not enough places for people to live” and said more initiatives like the one he was handing out money for are needed to create affordable housing in Hamilton.

Did Andrea Horwath, sitting beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. hit him or is that band aid on his forehead something he get when the wife he is now separated from took a whack at him as she was walking out the door?

He also said: “Housing isn’t a primary federal responsibility, not something that we have directly carried out. But it is something that we can and must help with,”

It was a bit of a mixed message and a major disappointment for those who were expecting the federal government to be deeply involved in the housing crisis.

It was the federal government that made the decision to bring millions of people to Canada to help with the labour shortages. One would expect them to be quite a bit more than at the table when the housing needs were being worked through.

The federal government has the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in place; an organization that has led a number of very innovative and successful housing development initiatives across the country.

Is it too much to ask that someone- maybe the new Minister of Housing- to come up with a major initiative?

Sean Fraser being sworn in as Housing, Infrastructure and Communities 

He holds a law degree from Dalhousie University, a Master’s degree in Public International Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University. He represents Central Nova, a constituency in Pictou County in Nova Scotia.

Burlington MP Karina Gould reads her email – let her know what you think.

He has the smarts, what we need to know is – does he have an understanding of just how serious the housing situation is ?  One would hope that he realizes it is going to get worse before it gets better.

If he takes his que from the Prime Minister (Housing isn’t a primary federal responsibility) we then do have a problem.

Burlington has a Member of Parliament who is heard when she speaks in Caucus – pop her a note expressing your opinion. When an MP gets a couple of hundred emails – they respond. Karina Gould can be reached by email at  karina.gould@parl.gc.ca

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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“Around 500 newsrooms closed their doors across the country… and they will continue closing their doors…..The status quo is not working because the money is going to the tech giants.” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez

By Ray Rivers

July 25th, 2023



Is Canada’s news media under threat of extinction? Last year, Meta made more than US$23 billion in profit while Alphabet, Google’s parent company, made close to US$60 billion. Meanwhile news organizations, the vast majority being community based, are running out of cash. And even allowing for some new entrants into the business, the future for independent media is worrisome.

Both owned by the same corporation -they feed each other and control what you get in the way of information in a way that few understand.

Increasingly smaller generators of news content are not able to attract enough ad revenue to pay their staff. And to add insult to injury Google and Facebook news platforms don’t pay for the content they extract from the news providers and exhibit as their own. It’s a perfect way to make a profit. Lots of ad revenue, no serious competition and the content is free.

Some of the better known news outfits, like the Toronto Star or the Globe, have instituted paywalls. Some like CNN and the CBC keep their digital operations operating by cross subsidizing from their TV or other services. Some, like the Guardian, are begging for voluntary donations. And the rest are hanging on by a thread, laying off staff or shutting down completely.

Playing hardball with the federal government.

Buying subscriptions is a hard sell when there are a number of free news feeds around. And how many digital subscriptions can any busy middle class family afford and read? Polling indicates that 85 per cent of Canadians do not pay for online news subscriptions, and Canadians under the age of 64 usually check social media sites such as Facebook and Reddit first to get their news.

The federal government in 2021 introduced an income tax credit for subscribers of Canadian digital news organizations to help stem the bleeding. But, while a good idea in principle, it is too little and probably too late to make a difference. It is early days but this indirect subsidy is more like a small bandage on a large gaping wound, rather than a real solution.

Only online in the future ahead of us?

So this year the feds introduced the Online News Act. Based on pioneering Australian legislation, when fully implemented tech companies will be compelled, dragging and screaming, to make a deal and start paying for the content they get from news organizations like the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Burlington Gazette. The details are still being sorted.

Facebook and Google are not happy. They have announced that once the new law is implemented they will stop hosting Canadian news stories. Google is threatening to eliminate Canadian sources in its search function. And Facebook, playing hardball with the government, has already cut some subscribers off Canadian news content.

This is becoming a game of chicken. The feds, Quebec and BC have retaliated by cutting off the advertising they do with Facebook. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the new legislation could inject around $329 million to the Canadian news industry. But that would only be the case were big tech to cooperate.

And they have mostly in Australia, with Facebook coming back to the table and offering compensation contracts to news content suppliers. However, as Australia is finding, their law is not a panacea. Big tech is paying for content based on the bargaining power of the news organization, more for Rupert Murdock and less for the smaller outfits.

Will newspaper coin boxes disappear?

There are a number of other options which could be taken. For example, given the sheer size of the tech companies in the market place, there could be restrictions on their uncompetitive behaviour. Governments could increase their advertising budgets and only advertise with the news makers proper. Perhaps the techs could be taxed out of the news business, allowing news to return to news providers and the tax revenue used as a direct subsidy, perhaps on some per-readership level or other criterion.

Under the current law the tech companies essentially become the employers as well as clients for the small news creators. How long will it be until big tech also dictates what they should be reporting, and more ominously what shouldn’t? Already, big tech uses algorithms to dictate what appears in your e-news in-basket.

Canadians might want to think about better supporting our own national broadcaster, the CBC, rather than relying for news on the big tech transnationals. The CBC has its problems related to programming and identity – what it wants to be when it grows up – but since 1936 the CBC has been an anchor and standard for news broadcasting on our airways. It is worrisome that the recent string of Conservative Party of Canada leaders keep talking about mostly eliminating the CBC.

“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the motto of the Washington Post, a major US paper with a history going back to 1877. That’s not nearly as old as the Globe and Mail which started operation in 1844 and was printed on the first cylinder press in Canada West,. And there is the Halifax Gazette which began in 1752. Free and accurate information is one of the most important pillars of democracy.

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:

Australian On-Line –   Canada’s On-Line –   Digital Ad Revenue –  Shattered Mirror

Government Spending on Facebook –  Canadian News on Facebook

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Canada is on Already Fire - Why the Fireworks

By Ray Rivers

July 4th, 2023


“Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot….”

Today’s outlandish fireworks displays can all be credited back to a Chinese alchemist who discovered gunpowder back in the first millennium. Though it could be legitimately argued that Guy Fawkes deserves a lot of the credit. He had been captured planning to blow up the entire English government back in 1605, as part of a group of disgruntled Catholic revolutionaries. Brits have since set aside Nov 5th to celebrate that day in his name with a bonfire and, more recently, fireworks.

The Pilgrims brought the fireworks custom over to the new land and it became fundamental to celebrating US independence Day. Canada has also taken to fireworks in a big way and fireworks shows are pretty much ubiquitous everywhere today to celebrate everything from a national holiday to gender reveal parties.

There are encouraging exceptions, such as Chile, which has a universal ban on these kinds of explosives. And some municipalities such as Mississauga have banned, private citizen fireworks and are supported by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs which has called for a complete federal ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks.

Over 240 million pounds of fireworks are used for celebrations releasing about 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment.

But Independence Day in the USA is generally the most polluted day of the year when it comes to air quality. Over 240 million pounds of fireworks are used for celebrations releasing about 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment. That is the equivalent of a single 2,700-acre wildfire. It is estimated that amounts to a 370 percent increase in aerial particulates that day, which can feel like spending an hour on a city street in Beijing during one of its worst smog days.

This year is even worse. With out of control wildfires in northern Canada we have been exporting massive blankets of smokey air south of the border. New York City and Chicago have each taken turns with Toronto and Montreal at being merited with the dirtiest air on the globe. Indeed this is Canada’s worst year ever for forest fires. But nobody should believe that next year will be any better. Already we note that the forest fire season now begins in April instead of the more traditional July.

Wildfires release substantial amounts of organic volatile organic compounds which, when in contact with sunlight, end up creating the intense smog we have been seeing so far this year. Stinging eyes, burning lungs and the acrid stink of burning plastic are all part of the package. Add in vehicle exhaust fumes and those fireworks, and that is a recipe for overcrowded hospitals.

At least we humans have choices when the air outside is sickening. We can go indoors, close all the windows and turn on our air filtration systems. Or, if we need to be outside and are serious about protecting our health, could wear one of those dreaded n95 face masks we used during the pandemic, and hoped to never have to wear again.

However, for the other creatures in our natural environment there is no such escape. The health effects of smoke on wildlife are the same as for humans, except they are magnified by the fact that birds, for example, are more efficient breathers and retain more particulates. Smoke inhalation can and does kill birds. It impairs their ability to breathe and their ability to forage and sustain themselves. Think of the tiny hummingbird taking in life-giving air at the rate of 250 breaths a minute.

Blowing up substantial quantities of explosives just to enjoy a few minutes of noise and flashes of light is a very high price we pay for all of the unintended consequences. Dogs and other pets, babies and some seniors, for example, are known to suffer trauma and discomfort during fireworks exhibitions.

And did I mention climate change? The federal government has a strategy to reduce carbon emissions from the still important oil sector, associated with significant employment and which still powers our transportation systems. But where is the action on something as avoidable as pointless pyrotechnics shows?

Vancouver and Montreal need to be applauded for cancelling their fireworks displays this Canada Day, Vancouver permanently. But what about Toronto and Burlington? Jurisdictions seem to have no trouble banning gas powered leaf blowers to help reduce air pollution, after all.

And if anybody really thinks they’d like to see real fireworks in action, perhaps they could wander over to Ukraine, a country which has seen more than its fair share of fireworks. Isn’t that the kind of thing that Guy Fawkes was really all about when he left us a legacy of pyrotechnics?

Background links:

Fireworks Pollution: Guy Fawkes Day: Canada Day Explosions:
Wildfire and Infections


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

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Federal By-elections - No Tea Leaves Here


By Ray Rivers

June 21st, 2023



On Monday four federal by-elections were held and the results were much as anyone might have guessed. Nothing changed except that four new MPs will take their seats in Parliament.

Marc Garneau’s former riding in Montreal was retained by the Liberals as was that of the late Jim Carr, in Winnipeg. In that case Carr’s son kept the riding for the Grits. And the Tories retained their hold in rural Manitoba to replace Candice Bergen who threw in the towel. Ontario’s Oxford country also stayed Tory though former Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie, called his party on dirty tricks and ended up supporting the Liberal candidate.

Dave McKenzie – Oxford in Ontario

Ben Carr, Winnipeg South, MB

So what did we learn from these by-elections? Not much. These ridings were about as safe for their respective parties as any in the country. It was a test of tribal loyalty for the most part. National polling indicates that Canadians are getting tired of the Trudeau government, but that would probably be just as true for any federal government after 8 years in power. Tired or not the 51 year young Trudeau heir has promised to lead his party into the next general election, which could come at any time – despite his deal with Mr. Singh to keep him in power until 2025.

Justin Trudeau and Pierre Poilievre – they will face each other in the next federal eleection.  When?  That’s the big question.

If the public is getting weary of the Liberals, that was not the message that anyone could take from the by-elections. If anything Mr. Trudeau’s party did better than expected, including a relatively close run in true blue Oxford. And recall that sitting governments normally suffer in mid-term elections as disgruntled voters are free to vent their dissatisfaction without upsetting the political apple cart. But that didn’t happen.

City folk generally prefer the Liberals while the Tories tend to dominate in farm country. It’s always been like that. The exceptions are when the public decides it’s time to kick the bums out as we did with the Mulroney crowd or Pierre eventually. And of course there are the times when some bright light inspires the masses to cross partisan lines, as was the case with both of the Trudeaus in their days.

Anna Gainey in Quebec – Branden Leslie in Manitoba

In addition to the urban/rural divide there is the east/west split, which today has been spirited mostly by the Alberta political mafia. Of course it’s really only anti-Trudeau. But it can’t be smart to be underrepresented federally even if you hate the leader’s guts. So an ongoing Liberal presence in that Manitoba riding which they nailed should be looked at as just a blessing in disguise.

And that Winnipeg South riding for some reason had an incredible number of independent candidates, each getting little more than their own votes back. Talk about democracy gone berserk. Did these folks think they were running for mayor of Toronto?

The Tories are rejoicing that their almost leader only a little while ago, Maxime Bernier, suffered another set back in trying to get his so-called People’s Party of Canada into the hallowed halls of Parliament, finishing second against the real Conservative. But he had a pretty radical or reactionary or, some might just say rubbish, platform, so go figure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – reaching for a fourth term?

Don’t go looking at these four by-elections as some sort of prescription for the big one yet to come. There are no tea leaves here, no foreboding of fortune or failure for Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Poilievre as they prepare their cannons for the big fight yet to come. This is just what we get in a Canada divided, more than ever, and mostly along tribal lines.

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



Election Results –  Trudeau’s Next Election –  An Interpretation

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Will the current or any future Mayor of the city actually use the Strong Mayor powers ?

By Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2023



Come Canada Day the Mayor of Burlington will have what are called Strong Mayor Powers.

Just in case you don’t understand what those powers are about, let me list them for you.

Strong mayor powers and duties include:
• Choosing to appoint the municipality’s chief administrative officer
• Hiring certain municipal department heads, and establishing and re-organizing departments
• Creating committees of council, assigning their functions and appointing the chairs and vice-chairs of committees of council
• Proposing the municipal budget, which would be subject to council amendments and a separate head of council veto and council override process
• Vetoing certain by-laws if the head of council is of the opinion that all or part of the by-law could potentially interfere with a provincial priority
• Bringing forward matters for council consideration if the head of council is of the opinion that considering the matter could potentially advance a provincial priority

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Is this a problem for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward? Or is it an opportunity? Hard to tell – she has said she doesn’t need them and never wanted them. Her statement as Chair of the Big City Mayors Organization was not as resounding as I would have liked it to be – but she was speaking for an organization.

Meed Ward has not gotten into the habit of doing interviews with media so there hasn’t been an opportunity to ask questions directly. To the best of our knowledge Mayor Meed Ward has never held a media event. She uses social media extensively and once said she had 17 points from which she can communicate with the community. They are all one way channels.

There is a scenario that could have Meed Ward using some of those new powers.

The province has said it needs to build 1.5 million new homes by 2031. The province doesn’t build homes, nor does a municipality. Homes are built by developers.

The city sets out the rules that developers have to adhere to.

One of the rules is to comply with the Official Plan which the developers aren’t very pleased with. So they appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal – those appeals take a considerable amount of time and the city tends to lose most of the appeals.

What the city has undertaken to do is build 29,000 new homes by 2031 – they signed a pledge with the province to do just that.

Application has been approved: Seven (7) residential towers on top of four (4) mixed use podiums. Overall heights ranging between 29 and 37 storeys. Podium heights ranging from 2, 5 and 6 storeys. A total of 2,494 residential units of mixed type and tenure. 3993 m2 of commercial space. 41, 821 m2 of shared amenity space. Five (5) levels of underground parking and a four (4) storey parking structure which will be integrated with the residential units. Pedestrian connections to the surrounding neighbourhood and Burlington GO Station.

City Council was successful in getting the Urban Growth Centre boundary moved north which pushed a lot of development north of Caroline and along Fairview where a very large development is planned. But there are no shovels in the ground yet.

Experts seem to agree there is no joy for developers in the rental market – the big bucks are in high end condos – not what Burlington needs.

With Strong Mayor powers would Meed Ward be able to get some of the badly needed housing built? Go back and look at the power she will have come Canada Day

The fear is not what Meed Ward would do – it is about what a future Mayor could do. There are two members of this Council who have said to me directly that they would like to be Mayor – both made the statements before they were halfway through their first term of office.

In the last election we saw a candidate with no local history, a campaign committee that consisted of a close friend with his home phone number as his campaign number to call. Given what little effort was put into the campaign he did remarkably well – and is understood to be ready for another campaign.

It would not be difficult for special interests to find a person, work with that candidate to build a public profile and pump thousands of dollars into the campaign.
Burlington has two habits that make something like this possible.

Voter turnout is traditionally low. In 2022, 27.6 per cent of eligible voters in Burlington voted in the municipal election; in the 2018 municipal election, 39.79 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

And, for the most part, most residents, are woefully ignorant at how important city hall is to the life they live.

Something to think about.

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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Intimate Partner Violence: Ending the epidemic can start with men saying to men: You cannot do that

By Pepper Parr

June 18th, 2023



Jeff Hill is a Deputy Chief with the Halton Regional Police Service.

Jeff Hill: Deputy Chief of Regional Operations Halton Regional Police Service where he oversees Regional Investigative Services (including Intimate Partner Violence, Frauds, Victim Services Unit, Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit, Intelligence, Forensic Identification, Drugs and Human Trafficking, Tech Crime, and Homicide)

He was one of several people who delegated at City Council recently on the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) incidents in Burlington.

He reported that last year the police responded to 3500 calls, 1346 of them came from Burlington. 341 arrests were made.

As of last week the police attended on 544 incidents so far this year.

It was numbers like this that brought the problem to council where they passed a resolution declaring that Intimate Partner Violence had reached epidemic levels.

Deputy Chief took the issue several steps further.

He said “the police alone are not the solution to this issue and we will not arrest our way out of this epidemic. If we don’t do something different, the problem will continue to grow.

“Intimate partner violence cannot be a private issue. We cannot be silent about the violence that is occurring. The resolution before you is a start but we must do something to raise community awareness and education on the surveillance of the issue with the necessity for a holistic approach from the community as a whole; one entity cannot do this alone.”

Hill made an additional comment that was chilling. After saying he was not a big social media participant he then said that whenever he tweeted about IPV, the number of people tuning in dropped.  “People don’t want to hear about the issue.”

Hill closed his delegation saying in “the last 40 years the Region alone has seen 22 women murdered at the hands of their partner, a woman was murdered every other year in our region alone. This absolutely has to stop.”

The Region has a 24 member intimate partner violence unit that responds to every call. The victims are supported and charges are laid. The police believe that they hear from about 30% of the women who are victims. The others live in fear believing that they will not be believed or supported.

The victims are one part of the issue – the men who beat their partners are the other side. Sending them to jail isn’t going to change the behaviour – that is not what jails do.

There has to be programs that work with men to change their behaviour. Having groups of men walk in women’s high heeled shoes does a little bit to bring the issue to public attention. I doubt very much that it changes behaviour.

Research has to be done to understand why men feel they can beat their partners. It is certainly an anger management problem – but I suspect there is much more than that to it.

Hill came close when he said there had to be “a holistic approach from the community”.

The shape and form that approach takes has yet to be determined. It can start with men saying to men: You cannot do that and then helping those that do get the help they need.

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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Too many Aldershot residents have chosen to be uninformed, uninvolved and have failed to hold the council member they elected accountable

By Pepper Parr

May 29th, 2023



Remembrance Day and The Battle of the Atlantic Sunday have always been important to me.

I was a Sea Cadet  as a youth and then served in the Canadian Navy – I was an Able Seaman aboard HMCS Haida that is now tied up in Hamilton.

In 1914 and 1939 we sent young men and women into war; thousands didn’t return and many of those who did, were damaged for life.

Hundreds gather at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day to honour those who served, remember those who did not return and treasure the democracy they defended.

Every November 11th, hundreds of Burlington residents gather at the Cenotaph to remember those we lost, honour their sacrifice and celebrate what we gained – we are a democratically fee nation.

We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we elect our representatives at the Federal, Provincial, Regional and Municipal levels. As a nation, we have fought to have the fundamental right to freely select those who will govern us. It is both our privilege and our responsibility to make informed choices and vote.

Over the last two weeks we have highlighted the way the Councillor for Burlington ward 1 manages his personal financial interests and the way he has chosen to represent the people who elected him.  We feel that he is unable to represent his constituents in an open and unbiased fashion. Despite our journalism efforts there is no indication from Kelvin Galbraith that there will be any change. He simply does not seem to understand his conflicted position. There also seems to be an equal problem with his constituents and opponents holding him accountable.

Kelvin Galbraith swearing an oath to serve his constituents.

In the 2022 municipal election the candidate in ward 1 did not tell the voters that he had been advised by the Integrity Commissioner that there would be occasions when he would have a Conflict of Interest due to the location of some of his business interests.  The other 2022 candidate in the ward became aware of the Integrity Commissioner’s report 11 days before the election but decided not to advise voters. To do so would not have been playing ‘dirty political games’ or ‘hitting below the belt’. Rather it was his duty to ensure that the constituents of ward 1 were properly informed before they made their choice. He failed to do so.

The information was made public by a resident who keeps a close eye on civic matters and has made repeated but unsuccessful efforts to hold Councillor Galbraith accountable. He has been confronted with apathy, indifference and, we believe, systemic incompetence.

What Burlington seems to have difficulty with is taking the time to ensure and insist that the men and women they elect are accountable and transparent. We wait until the situation becomes intolerable or uncomfortable, for whatever reason, and vote for wholesale replacements.  It is an all or nothing scenario repeated every 4 years. Or so it seems.

The Gazette has published five articles on election campaign donations.  Those articles have been read by thousands of people.  The Aldershot Insider, a Facebook page, carries a number of comments on the issue – non favourable to the Council member.

The Councillor for ward 1 has chosen not to comment and we were informed that he was advised to not respond.   It’s an old issues management truism that when you have a fiery issue you don’t provide it with oxygen. Stay silent and it will pass; people always forget.

And that is where we have a real problem. It appears that the truism is 100% true. The reason that our elected representatives are not transparent is that they don’t have to be. In fact, it’s a serious disadvantage to them if they are. The reason that they are not accountable is that we don’t hold them to account.

As citizens we need to exercise our democratic responsibilities – be informed, be actively involved and vote. In the final analysis, Galbraith is the self-made problem of the people of Ward 1.

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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It is time for Honest,Direct Engagement and Straight Talk about what the possible impacts of Upper Tier Dissolution will be other than expensive

By Blair Smith

May 22, 2023



Burlington Today reports that:

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward says there will “absolutely not be a City of Halton.”

She told BurlingtonToday that Burlington council has agreed to support an assessment of Halton Region and be an active participant in that process, after passing a motion at its May 16 meeting.

Burlington, along with Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills are gathered together as a Region. The Region has its own Official Plan that Burlington must comply with. The Region handles Social Services, Waste and water management, some roads, police and Emergency Services. It levies taxes which the city collects.

“Everything else is on the table,” she said, adding things like transit could be uploaded to the Region and other things downloaded, “but it must deliver better service for better value.”

To be polite, here we go again with our Mayor answering a question that may have been relevant six months ago but hardly now in the face of Minister Clark’s announcement on Thursday.

Actually, it’s puzzling why BurlingtonToday would choose to report the Mayor’s comments since their context is now rather dramatically changed. And just to be completely accurate, “the motion” was tabled as a “consent item” at the May 16th Council meeting with no questions, comments or debate. So much for being “an active participant”.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward greeting Premier Doug Ford during a tour of Joseph Brant Hospital.

Indeed, there will certainly not be “a City of Halton”; there may be no Halton at all. There may be no City of Burlington either, although I imagine that Meed Ward is eager to accept the prospects of a Mississauga scenario with abundant Strong Mayor powers.

The reality is that the Ontario Government is once again rolling the municipal dice and the target – not for economies of scale and operational efficiencies but for better management of new housing targets – is the Upper Tier.

All the services that were consolidated will be disaggregated into the emancipated municipalities and the costs, both of dissolution and of creating needed service depth and structure, will be borne by the taxpayer.

Will Burlington benefit if Halton Region is dissolved? It is impossible to say at this point but I personally don’t like the prospects. The economics just don’t make sense.

When a group of us fought regional amalgamation in 2019 we believed that we were protecting local voice and decision-making. Today, we would be far less enthusiastic. Even in 2019 we acknowledged and supported the benefits of further consolidation of certain services and functions at the regional level – things like information technology, fleet management, common purchasing, vendors of record and transportation.

However, we felt that cities, such as Burlington and Oakville, should have strong influence over how they grew as communities and should not be amalgamated into an indistinct ‘melting pot’. That would still be our belief today despite the failure of our Council to deliver on their promises and a truly remarkable opportunity.

It is time for honest and direct engagement with Burlington’s citizens – straight talk about what the possible impacts of Upper Tier dissolution are. Given the fact that the municipalities left standing and perhaps whole will still be creatures of the province, subject to provincial direction and control, but now tasked with funding standalone services, it is difficult to be enthusiastic.

Related news story:

The article that brought out the opinion.

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Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre is expected to be in the Legislature on Monday - how will she react to medical service people in Public Gallery ?

By Pepper Parr

May 5th, 2023



Next Monday a large group of people who oppose what the provincial government wants to do to the health system we have will do their best to fill parts of the Public Gallery in the Legislature .

Natalie Pierre speaking at Queen’s Park

While the group sits in the Gallery Natalie Pierre will be in her seat and when there is a vote she will stand and vote with the government and I wonder how she will feel.

I met with Natalie for a very short period of time during the election.  I was impressed – there was a sense of empathy that I felt during the short period of time I was able to talk with her.

There was supposed to be a longer follow up interview with Natalie but her handlers made sure that didn’t happen.

Natalie was new to the game and chose to follow directions rather than follow her instincts and inquire.

Her years at Sheridan College, where she worked in Human Relations, was a time when she developed the ability to listen.

I find myself wondering what Natalie will think is as she glances at the people in the Gallery and wondering if she will ask herself: Am I serving those people or am I one of a number of people in this place, here to support a government that I am a part of ?

The woman who represented Burlington before Natalie was elected didn’t have the ability to understand what people wanted or needed.  She was an MPP looking out for herself.

The sense I gained when I talked to Natalie was that she was genuine; real and capable of knowing what people needed.

I expect Natalie will vote with the government knowing full well that to not vote will kill and chance she might have to grow is as a legislator.

My early sense was that this one was different.

There has not been an opportunity to interview Natalie since she was elected. Whatever her office sends out to media doesn’t come our way.

It has been our practice to publish the maiden speech of every member of both Parliament and Queen’s Park.  We were in touch with Natalie’s office asking if they would let us know when she was to speak.

We didn’t hear from her office then and you didn’t get to hear what she had to say.

So far the voice of Natalie Pierre has not been that strong.

We understand that some people, elected to serve the public, aren’t comfortable with the way we report events.  Their job is not to be comfortable but to be available to accredited media.

Were we to publish puff pieces often enough we would be made very welcome.

Our approach it to work at doing our best to inform the public so that they can make informed decisions.

Going forward we will work a little harder at getting through to Natalie Pierre.

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 Royalty - he wants to watch the Coronation - fears he might have to do that alone

By Ray Rivers

April 29th, 2023



It’s a Coronation – Does Anyone Care?

King Charles Philip Arthur George III

There is not much promotion that I’ve seen over King Charles’ upcoming coronation. And it’s only a few days away, yet I can’t seem to find anyone keen to join me to watch and celebrate the event.

This disinterest may have something to do with Charles himself. Those of us who cared about Diana have never forgiven him for casting her aside and for what followed – her tragic and untimely death. The highly successful Netflix series, the Crown, also may have tempered our love of the royals as it demystified their lives. Though clearly privileged, they were portrayed as pretty ordinary folks in many ways, with flaws and warts just like the rest of us.

Princess Anne was something of a spoilt brat. Sexual exploitation had stained Prince Andrew thanks to his seedy association with Jefrey Epstein. Then, there was this royal passion for things Nazi, including the former King Edward apparently designated to be Hitler’s puppet in London. And Prince Phillip also had a softness for the fascists.

That makes some sense since a monarchy traditionally is just another authoritarian system of governance. It is leadership gained by breeding rather than by popular vote. So today a growing number of Brits, mostly younger ones, would like to ditch the royals. Over 40%, would prefer an elected head of state instead of an inherited, according to one survey.

Weighs tonnes; is heated and air conditioned.

Older Brits on the other hand seem content with the status quo, so this may just be an age thing. After all, Charles is no spring chicken, and despite his longstanding concern for the environment, doesn’t seem to relate well to the younger generations, even in that regard. Ageism is a reality in politics these days. One only has to consider the mixed reception Joe Biden is receiving in his bid for another presidential campaign, despite a very impressive record of public achievements during his first term.

The monarchy serves a useful role as head of state, not only in the UK but also through its representatives in Canada and other commonwealth nations. And here in the colonies the Governor General, like Supreme Court judges and senators, is appointed – making them more like public servants than politicians. These appointees owe their loyalty to the government of the day and the rule of law. When Stephen Harper wanted to avoid losing a non-confidence vote in 2008 he went to the Governor General for permission to prorogue and she did what she was told.

Democracy is under attack, more today than at any time since the second world war. We need look no further than the Jan 6th attempted insurrection at the US Capitol building, an act precipitated by the ‘big lie’ that Trump was cheated out of the presidency. For that, some would blame social media and cable news channels, like Fox, for the misinformation and outright lies that makes us wonder what exactly we should believe – if anything at all.

There has also been a growing trend for opposition politicians to engage in hate mongering and character assassination. If you say a lie enough times, folks may start to believe it. Once upon a time there was some semblance of accountability for one’s actions in the political theatre. Yet Donald Trump’s popularity seems to be rising, hand-in-glove as his criminal behaviour is uncovered and he faces a growing number of criminal court cases.

Indeed we see the same phenomenon happening back here in the great white north. Instead of being evicted from his party’s caucus for embracing and supporting the insurrectionist criminals (truckers) in Ottawa back in February last year, Pierre Poilievre was rewarded. He was promoted to become leader of Canada’s official opposition party for his supporting role in shutting down the nation’s capital.

Trucks parked on the streets of Ottawa during a long civic disruption.

Voter turnout in last year’s municipal elections was one of the lowest ever, as two thirds of voters stayed home. Being effectively disenfranchised, there is little reason to leave your TV sets and run to the polling station to cast a ballot in an election which more and more means less and less. Premier Ford slashed representation for Toronto residents by half as one of his first acts.

Ranked ballots to ensure that only the most popular candidate would win were banned. Ford has overruled the municipalities and conservation authorities taking away their power to manage local development decisions. He made it harder and moire expensive for individuals and councils to challenge his development decrees. And then he became just another a lying politician, raising questions of corruption, by breaking his promise to protect the provincial greenbelt from more urban sprawl.

Alberta has just passed it’s own sovereignty legislation, a declaration of war on the federal government and on Canada’s efforts to rein in its carbon footprint. It is a cheap stunt by politicians more concerned with the politics of division than the reality of what is happening to our planet. Alberta’s ongoing anti-Canada monologue has become more of a threat to Canadian unity than Quebec’s attempts at independence ever were. At least Quebecers had legitimate complaints about their linguistic and cultural rights in this country.

We are in troubled times – a nation divided by the very political leaders who should be uniting us. Is it any wonder that voters are disillusioned? And if we can’t be positive about our local or federal/provincial governance, why should we even give a hoot about what is going on in London this coming weekend?

My parents were not of British stock but they purchased a brand new TV just to watch Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. And we would crowd around that set to watch her annual Christmas address every year. We went to see Charles and Diana when they came to Vancouver in the ’80’s and like many Canadians wept when the Princess senselessly died in that car accident.

The Crown that will be used at the Coronation on May 6th

I don’t consider myself a royalist. In fact, I am rather indifferent about the Crown. But I still plan to watch King Charles and the spectacle of the formal coronation on Saturday May 6th, even if I have to watch it alone.

It’s a great excuse for a spring-time party. And, it may be the last coronation I ever get to watch, even if the British public doesn’t replace that inbred crowd with an elected president as their head of state.

Related news story:

How Ontario plans to celebrate the Coronation


Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy  with a Parliamentary Democracy – we are stuck with a King

About those Royal Carriages – How many are there.

Andrew in Bed with Epstein

Nazis in the Royal House

Ditch the Royals

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Nick Leblovic is no longer fit for office - he should be removed from the Committee of Adjustments.

By Pepper Parr

April 20th, 2023      



Janice Atwood

Janice Atwood, a Principles Integrity partner, acquitted herself very well earlier this week when she reported to city Council on the report she had written on a complaint sent to the Integrity Commissioner related to the behaviour of a member of the Committee of Adjustment (CoA).

Council listened to the CoA member Nick Leblovic as he explained what he had done and both challenged the conclusion reached by the Integrity Commissioner and impugned the reputation of the professional planner who was representing the complainant.

During his delegation, Leblovic claimed that the whole investigation, which he estimated to have taken 50 hours at $235 per hour, would have been unnecessary had the Integrity Commissioner agreed to meet with him and discuss the complaint. In fact, Ms. Atwood did invite Mr. Leblovic to meet but received no response to her invitation. She notes that the extensive correspondence and responses Leblovic sent the Integrity Commissioner and which seemed to be his preferred method of communicating “articulated fully and unequivocally his perspective, his position and his views, rendering an interview unnecessary. As a result, all of our communications were in writing.”

He went on to argue during his presentation to Council that hearsay evidence was admissible and that he could introduce new evidence when he thought it was relevant.

Nick Leblovic

This was Leblovic in full flight and in his usual form – the kind of performance that was seen and experienced at the Waterfront Advisory Committee that Leblovic chaired until the city sunset the committee.

Members of that Waterfront Advisory will well remember Leblovic’s chairmanship. I recall one member swearing that if Leblovic continued with his behaviour he would “punch him in the face”.

Leblovic tends to draw that kind of response from people.

He served in a senior position on the Meed Ward run for Mayor in 2018 and again in 2022 – he was one of the very few (some think that together with his wife, the only core member) that carried over from 2018 to 2022.

The relationship with Leblovic was so tight that the Integrity Commissioner had to advise the Mayor that she did have a Conflict of Interest forcing her to give up the gavel and let the Deputy Mayor handle a portion of the City Council meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Leblovic is a citizen who has been active in local politics for decades, he was believed to be very close to former Mayor Cam Jackson who was instrumental in getting Leblovic on the Waterfront Advisory Committee

Waterfront Advisory committee before City council voted to shut the committee down. From left to right: Nick Leblovic, Michael O’Sullivan, Ken Harris, Jeff Martin, Donna Ankrett, and Gary Scobie. 

There comes a point when the grey beards need to sit on the sidelines and let those who are not past their “best before date” run the show.

The greatest surprise in this whole mess was the recommendation put forward by the Integrity Commissioner – not suspension, not removal but a voluntary couple of hours of training for everyone on a City Board or Commission. How does this either fit the offence or reflect the lack of contrition that Mr. Leblovic so obviously demonstrated?

It contrasts so jarringly with the decision made by the Integrity Commissioner on the Shawna Stolte matter, where she was docked five days pay, that one shakes their head in disbelief. The Integrity Commissioner made the point, after the decision had been sent to Council, that had they known Stolte was not in the least contrite the penalty would have been more severe.

While Stolte took the position that she did what she did was a matter of principle for her, which would not excuse her, she never challenged the jurisdiction of the Integrity Commissioner to adjudicate and she did nothing to denigrate the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Can the same be said for Mr. Leblovic?

It is our view that Nick Leblovic is no longer fit for office and the responsible thing to do would have been to remove him from the Committee of Adjustment.

Related news stories:

Nick Leblovic gets to tell his story.
Integrity Commissioner teaches Councillors just what a Conflict of interest is
Integrity Commissioner refutes statements Leblovic makes

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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Election campaign finance reports hard to find on city web site

By Pepper Parr

April 15th, 2023



The words accountability and transparency get banged about like a ping pong ball – but little respect from some senior administrative staff and just about every member of Council. They mouth the words but there is little in the way of meat on the bones of their statements.

The swearing in of a new council is the process that transfers power to newly elected Council members. They swear to be accountable and transparent.

Elections are critical: they are actually a transaction between the public and those running for public office. The voters give the power they have – a ballot and use it to transfer their power to the people seeking public office.

The city administration, in this case the City Clerk overseen the elections, makes sure the ballot are properly counted and issues a statement declaring the winner for the Office of Mayo and the Council member for each ward.

Sometime after the election the City Clerk releases the financial statements each candidate is required to file. Those statements were due to be released on March 31st.

Detailed election finance reports are behind this file on the city web site. Go figure.

Try to find them on the city web site.  They are there but difficult to find – we had to work with the City Communications department to figure out just where the documents were posted.

Unfortunately, and unfairly the Communications people are taking the hits for this dumb situation. We believe it is the City Clerk’s responsibility to ensure that the information is made public and easy to find.

Executive Director Jackie Johnson

Both the City Clerk and the Director of Communications report to the city’s newest Executive Director Jackie Johnson; she might want to invite Kwab Ako-Adjei and Kevin Arjoon in for coffee and explain to them that they first have to cooperate and then exactly what she means by accountability, transparency and open government.

The Gazette is in the process of reviewing all the financial returns and doing an analysis of how much money each candidate raised and where the money came from.

Accountability, transparency and Open Government.

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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By Anne Marsden

October 3rd, 2022



Click  Let’s End the MMW Era   

December 19, 2016 will be a Council meeting my husband Dave and I will never forget for two reasons.

1. The misrepresentation in the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee Minutes of what really happened at the Audit Committee regarding an audit of the 2014 Election Nomination Papers, was approved by all Council members regardless of having an understanding that the minutes were incorrect.

2. A without notice removal of the definitions of accountability and transparency from the 2014 Procedure By-laws proposed by a group that included Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and a representative of the Clerk’s Office, was unanimously approved by Council.

It took five months for the definitions referenced in paragraph 2 above to form the core of an approved corporate policy covering the accountability and transparency definitions that Council unanimously removed from the Procedure. By-law.

Fast forward to the opening of nominations for the 2022 election when we heard commitments by at least one candidate and multiple members of the electorate, to end the MMW (Mayor My Way) era 2010-2022. The Burlington DownTowners in particular announced in the comments section of the Burlington Gazette, this election for the first time Anne Marsden had their vote for Mayor and offered to put up her signs if available.

After 2022 nominations opened, a better way of communicating by the City through the website was announced and implemented without any warning. The new website had huge gaps in information including committee and council webcasts and minutes of the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee and December 19, 2016 Council meeting. Further, the 2018 financial reports of incumbent members of council all running for re-election were missing.

Lisa Kearns the Marsdens Ward 2 councillor refused to address this sudden dearth of information that affected voters becoming fully informed. She claimed it was a Clerk/Marsden issue and announced to numerous email recipients that she had withdrawn from the email conversation on this matter. Strange as it seems what was not missing was the Corporate Policies which is not something the electorate would normally be checking for to determine who would get their vote.

A cursory review showed a dejavue situation the Marsdens had addressed with Council in the past. “Many corporate policies had passed their due date for review some of them expiring years earlier.”

The 2022 posted Corporate policies identifies the Council Code of Conduct was scheduled for review in October 2022 – a time known, when the date was set, that Council would not be meeting. Although requested in the past no-one has volunteered the information as to what it means when review dates of corporate policies have expired, or what the liability is attached to such expiration.

We all know however, what is behind these expiries – sheer incompetence and lack of accountability. This incompetence in my professional career world would have resulted in an immediate removal of this responsibility from my job description and a much lower salary for me to take home, at the very least.

The biggest shocker to the Marsdens, however, post nominations opening was the Review Date on the Corporate Policy headed ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY. The date was April, 2022 and the person responsible? “The City Clerk”! If the Burlington City Clerks over the past decade, two of them, have been unable to handle a simple follow up file to keep a check on such review dates, what can we expect from someone who is responsible for all the policies, legislative requirements etc. that are a part of oversight of a municipal election. An election that gives the winners the right to decide how they spend a $287 million operating budget. Further, how we undertake our responsibilities to all those we serve who put the money in the city’s budget accounts. Let’s also not forget the Clerk is responsible for the Burlington tender process and accurately recording Committee and Council meetings.

The Council approved definitions of accountability and transparency removed from the 2014 Procedure By-law state:

1.1 “Accountability” means the principle that the City of Burlington will be responsible to its stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions.

1.38 “Transparency” means the principle that the City of Burlington actively encourages and fosters stakeholder participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the City of Burlington’s decision making process is open and clear to the public.

My September 28, 2022 Gazette opinion piece advises my first priority is a full and thorough review of the Procedure By-law. These definitions that should never have been removed will go back into the Procedure By-law through this review with I am sure, a unanimous vote by the elected council. This will then ensure regardless of corporate policy expiry dates that these two definitions are respected as they must be.

The definitions that the MMW (Mayor My Way) era council saw fit to remove from their reference handbook that should be considered their “bible” is now, as far as anyone knows, not a legitimate part of City of Burlington corporate policies.

No wonder those we talk to on the campaign trail have the highest discontent rate Dave and I have ever heard beginning 1997. The discontent is related to lack of: integrity, accountability, transparency, public engagement, public safety, accessibility and much more! October 11 – October 24 we all have an opportunity to state at the ballot box the MMW era must come an end.

Anne Marsden is a candidate for the Office of Mayor

Content paid for by the Committee to elect Anne Marsden Mayor Burlington

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The quarry that the operator wants to turn into a park is ready to announce an operator - it won't be the city

By Pepper Parr

September 28th, 2022



There is an issue that no one on city council wants to talk about – the Councillors for wards 3 and 6 are terrified that their constituents would tar and feather them if they supported the offer the Nelson Quarry has made to give the the city title to the land which would be turned into a park.

The quarry, once it has been mined out and some work done to return the land to its original form has the potential to meet a need that is going o exist in the not too distant future.

Nelson quarry that is near its end of life – the site will fill with water and could be turned into a park.

Council members take the view during an election that it is heresy to talk about something many are against rather than explain the long term potential and why the idea of having the quarry turned into a large public park when all the useful aggregate has been mined out is a very wise long term decision.

The people managing the application for a license extension and renewal are about to announce that they will be making an announcement on a park operator.

Rendering of what part of the quarry could look like once all the aggregate has been extracted

Does this suggest that the city has lost the opportunity to be involved in the creation of parkland that is going to be needed in the not too distant future.  The ability to be consistently short sighted on the part of Councillors Bentivegnia and Nissan is astonishing – both are reacting to the views of their constituents north of Hwy 407 and Dundas, forgetting that the bulk f their constituents are south of that border.

The Joint Tribunal process is winding its way towards a decision.

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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'Honour the Sacrifices'

By Anne Marsden

September 7th, 2022


Anne Marsden has had articles and a paper published at the International, National and local levels. These publications include sports reporting. a paper for an International Conference on Mental Health and the Law based on Halton Long Term Care and a newspaper column that discussed disability issues.

My municipal campaigns since 1997 have always included reference to the very poor municipal election turnout. My 2022 campaign to be Burlington’s Mayor and Chief Executive Officer is no different. Every family has a story of the sacrificial giving of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or grandparents. My husband Dave and I have never believed that simply recognizing this sacrificial giving on Remembrance Day is enough if, we are to teach this present generation what “Lest We Forget” actually means.

Sacrificial giving, has affected families for a full generation and more. In my family it affected two generations. The inability to just “suck it up” that was expected from those who returned to civilian life and those who had fought the battle on the home front, was often deemed mental illness that was genetic, as it was for my mom, with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia that lived with her until she passed April 9, 2006.

Mom was just 19 years old when dad left her and my brother, just a baby at the time “to go to war”. My father was a medic and anyone who has seen actual footage of the carnage he had to deal with knows what horrific memories it left him with. Mom lived in a high bombing area and worked at the ship yard during the day, which was bombed. She spent most of the war sleeping in the shelter at the bottom of the garden. There were no phone calls or leaves during that long six years, only letters that spoke of undying love. Their marriage ended in divorce when I was very young. Dad was told mom needed the divorce for a fresh start that would hopefully heal her memories. It never did despite the more than one hundred shock and coma treatments, that autopsy showed left her brain scarred, and finally drugs with horrible side effects.

Harold Stevens

Eva Bourgoin

One anonymous soldier’s words set out in a poem called “Memories” have never been forgotten. They illustrate why he could no longer walk in the woods as stepping on a twig created a noise that took him back in time. To ensure the frozen bodies he had to bury would fit a small grave, he had to force their legs together and the snapping noise haunted him forever. His words constantly remind me of how grateful we all need to be to all those who not only gave the ultimate sacrifice; but also for those who came back with their horrific memories/missing limbs/and shell shock from any war we as Canadians are part of.

God! How I hate the sound
A dead branch makes
When stepped upon

The snapping of a stick of celery
Chills my spine
Calls up old memories
Makes the hairs
On the nape of my neck

So what has this to do with a Burlington 2022 municipal election? Most reading this know the answer. The sacrificial giving as described above is demeaned by poor turnouts at any election in any country in the world that claims to have democratically elected governments in place nationally, provincially or locally.

What can we as individual families do about it? We can decide that we will do our very best to do the research we need to do to cast fully informed votes rather than just vote for the incumbent or another name we know as they are a member of a social group we attend.

Talk the fact that we have an election October 24, 2022 up with family, friends and neighbours and encourage them to vote. Participate in the Honour the Sacrifices sign blitz I am proposing as my effort to bring up the numbers casting informed votes. While I would prefer no candidates’ names appear on each family sign just encouragement to Honour the Sacrifices and vote on or before October 24, 2022, everyone is free to design the sign they think will Honour the Sacrifices.


Everyone who sends a photo of the sign in place in their garden or as a magnetic sign on their car or posted on their car window will be entered into a draw for several family entertainment treats. Hopefully this can happen at the Friday Fish and Chip Night at the Legion with a veteran making the draw before the election. Send the photos of your sign in place to anneandave@gmail.com. Your email will be your ticket in the draw. Print shops can laminate your sign to protect from the weather.

I was told a pack of cigarettes was the price dad paid for a drawing of mom by a German prisoner of war. He drew it from a photograph mom sent. The first time I saw the drawing, long after their divorce and folded up with the crease lines wearing a hole in the bottom right corner, I pictured Dad in my mind’s eye soaking in every feature of mam’s beautiful face. Re-energized he would fold the picture up and put it in his uniform’s top pocket close to his heart and then get back to his difficult work as an army medic, dreaming of when his darling Eva would be back in his arms.

September 7, 1945 our family was complete with my birth. The words of the Dame Vera Lynn song mom sang so beautifully every day of her life are carved into my brain, the same as Jim Menken carved the veteran in my “Honour the Sacrifices Gazette Block Ad” into a dead tree, never to be forgotten “There will be joy and laughter and peace forever after, tomorrow when the world is free.”

Anne Marsden during a contemplative moment in front of the Cenotaph at Veteran Square

Paid for by the Anne Marsden election campaign

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Engagement has become malodorous - city hall doing stinky stinky

By Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2020



It would appear that City Manager Tim Commisso and citizen Stephen White have different views on professional courtesies.

White was told that the Staff Report going to Council for the September 14th meeting of the CSSRA – Corporate Service, Strategy, Risk and Accountability would include his report as an Addendum and that if he wanted to delegate he would have to register.

Note something that happens in polite households – and if Burlington is anything – it is polite

He adds that “ If they sit on it until the 14th, and don’t release it before, then in fairness they should have advised Julie and I as a professional courtesy.”

So far the promised report has not been seen by anyone we know.

The city certainly has its own definition of “engagement” – something you talk about when it is to your advantage but neglect when it has an odour that isn’t going to pass the smell test.

This is not what the bulk of the people in Burlington think their city is about.

Some people at city hall need to change their diaper.

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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Who is going to hold the debates that give the people of Burlington a chance to see who wants their vote

By Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2022



The Roseland Community Organization (RCO) is hosting a debate that will involve the ward 4 candidates and the people running for the office f Mayor.

And good on them for taking this on.

In 2010 the Gazette sponsored a debate for the ward six candidates – there were eight or nine of them. It went well but it required a lot of work and ate up time we just didn’t have.

In 2018 ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington sponsored debates in all six wards during which the city saw some of the biggest turnouts for a political event in several decades.

ECOB filled the Baptist Church on New Street during the 2018 election debates.

ECOB’s Penny Hersh did the bulk of the work to make those happen.

Other than the Roseland Group – who else is going to step up and arrange for debates in their wards ?

Are there service clubs that could take this on ? Sponsoring a debate is not a political activity – it is a civic decision to put in motion an event that gives people a chance to inform themselves.

Ward 2 and 3 both badly need a debate as does ward 5 now that Paul Sharman has to run for office instead of being acclaimed.

There were some interesting comments made by Gazette readers on the story we ran of the RCO announcement

One reader wrote: Roseland Community Group is a group of homeowners, who show interest and take pride in their community. There is no reason why other communities cannot form the same type of organizations.

Another wrote:  The problem I have is, who is the Roseland Community Organization? Who are the members? Are any candidates” a member or affiliate with them? Did any of the members of the ROC help or donate to any of the candidates’ campaigns? If so, isn’t that a conflict of interest? and how do we know it will be fair and impartial. Even the venue is suspect, do any of the candidates belong to the church? Who is going to moderate the debate and come up with the questions? Hopefully it’s not Mr. Parr because we know he mentions Shawna in every article he writes. What experience does the ROC have in running a political debate?

All this reader had to do was spend five minutes on the RCO web site and his concerns would disappear.  Suggesting that using a church would be a conflict – Really?

The same reader went on to say that RCO “hasn’t truly thought this out and don’t have a lot of experience with a political debate. I mean the can’t even figure out how candidates answer questions and alphabetical order is not that fair i mean 1 person always has the first word and 1 person always has the last word.. I would suggest that they have a predetermined order to answer each question determined buy random draw now isn’t that fair.

The level of political naivety and sophistication is so disappointingly low in Burlington.

One can only wish that each community had organizations like the Roseland Community Organization.

Until that happens – would the people in each ward look for a way to hold a debate in their community.

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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Gaetan: POPS unfair to Condo Owners

By Joseph Gaetan

August 20th, 2022



If you know anyone who is thinking about buying a condominium – pass this along to them. They will thank you.

Privately Owned Public Spaces, a.k.a POPS, are spaces dedicated to public use and enjoyment, which are owned and maintained by private property owners (but not all property owners in the City of Burlington, just condo owners), in exchange for bonus floor area or waivers.

POPS agreements when in place are provided by a developer but then maintained by property owners in perpetuity in accordance with the statutes, bylaws, regulations in place and pursuant to any City approvals. POPS in part are also the result of City zoning regulations aimed at ensuring the densest areas of our city also offer a measure of open public space and greenery. Thus, POPS can be important amenities for the enjoyment of Burlington citizens, and visitors.

The POPS that is to be part of the Core development located between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road is a decision made by the developer that future residents will have to pay for.

If you have never owned a condo that has a POPS or never plan on doing do so, you may think what is the big deal anyway? Well, the big deal is, those who do own one, end up paying for something they had little input on and something that will affect their cost of living as long as they live there. The cost of the POPS will be reflected in both the common area fees (CEF’s) that owners pay on a monthly basis as well as the monthly contribution to the Reserve Fund that is put in place for major repairs and/or replacement of the POPS assets at some point in the future.

So, imagine a situation where the parking structure is buried under a POPS. In the beginning owners will be paying for basic and ongoing yard maintenance, snow removal, pruning of trees, replacement of benches and any litigation, insurance etc. Sometime in the future (as identified in the Reserve Fund but often sooner) the underground concrete slab will have to be repaired or sections replaced. But before that, all of the overburden, all the trees, all the sidewalks, everything on top of the slab will be stripped clean and taken off-site so that the remedial work can be performed.

Upon completion of the repair/remediation work, guess what, new soil will be returned to the site, new trees planted, new sidewalks poured and after 6 to 8 months of disruption the POPS will have been restored to its original design parameters. Without exaggeration this could cost the property owners millions of dollars.

When a developer turns a property over to a not-for-profit condominium corporation the common area fees and Reserve Fund allocations are grossly understated. The principal reasons for this being, there is no cost history or Reserve Fund study to base these figures upon. A condominiums first Reserve Fund study occurs during its first year of incorporation with follow-up studies every three years afterward.

Under normal circumstances per the Condominium Act 1998, upon turnover the Condominium Corporation usually has one year to cancel any contracts made by the Declarant.

Case in point, one condo in Burlington chose to cancel the Geo-Thermal, Renewal Energy Agreement put in place by the Declarant. The corporation was able to cancel the agreement and then secured a loan to purchase the system saving residents approximately $6 million dollars over a 30-year period. This option does not apply to POPS as canceling such agreements is beyond the scope of this section of the “Act.”

Below is an excerpt from an Official Plan Amendment Rezoning Application document for a development that was approved in 2008:

Conditions of Zoning Approval
“agree to grant an easement to the City for the purpose of providing public access over the (feature details redacted) containing the (feature details redacted) at the South end of the front yard, from (address details redacted) of, and pay for all costs associated with the easement including the preparation of a reference plan legally describing the location of the landscape courtyard subject to the easement; and,

“include the following warning clause in all Offers of Purchase and Sale and in the

Condominium declaration:
“purchasers/tenants are advised that the landscape courtyard containing the (redacted) at the South end of the front yard, is for public use”

POPS were invented in New York, in 1961 via a Zoning Regulation, the purpose was to find solutions to the city’s budget gaps in providing public spaces. Mobilising private funds seemed like a good way to build public infrastructure and something a city could offer that was seemingly free (i.e., public spaces, in exchange for additional housing units).

POPS have a place in the public realm and should not be discarded in totality. The use of POPS has been successfully used throughout the world (i.e., High Line NYC) but not without issues (i.e., Autumn of 2011, a small anarchist group occupied Zuccotti Park, a public plaza in Downtown New York).

All homeowners in Burlington should expect and deserve to be treated fairly and equitably. While I there is a place for POPS, such developments that create a cost burden to one class of taxpayers and not others are simply wrong. If the City of Burlington approves POPS for additional height on a particular building, or additional housing units in a development, those costs should be spread across all taxpayers within the City of Burlington.

With an election on the horizon the subject of POPS deserves attention. When a candidate asks for your support, it is fair game to ask them if they are in favour of approving developments where the POPS will place an unfair financial burden on some taxpayers (condo owners). Residents of a building that sits on .58 hectare of land, and contributes around $1 million a year in realty taxes, should not be asked to also pay more for a POPS.

Further information regarding the issues and cost effects of POPS on condo owners can be found by reading the CCI Toronto article entitled, “Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces” that may be found by visiting, CCI-T-Condovoice-Spring2019-FB19.pdf (ccitoronto.org)

Related news story:

Just what does a POPS mean

Joe Gaetan is a Burlington resident who lives in a condominium that has a POPS.

He speaks on occasion before Council on civic issues and participates in Ontario Land Tribunal matter




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POPS - Privately owned public space - something every condo buyer wants to know more about

By Pepper Parr

August 18, 2022



Imagine this:

You decide to buy a condominium and learn, probably well after you the sale has closed, that some of the property is privately owned but it is public space – which means any Tom, Dick or Harry can use that space and you are responsible for the upkeep of the space and probably ensuring that it is safe.

The Chrysler Carriage House will be integrated into the development

The developer selling you the property will not have told you this but it will be included in the title document you get once the condominium is registered.

The lawyer you hired to handle the paper work may not know all that much about POPS

Privately owned public space (POPS), or alternatively, privately owned public open spaces (POPOS), are terms used to describe a type of public space that, although privately owned, is legally required to be open to the public under a city’s zoning ordinance or other land-use law.

Both terms can be used to represent either a singular or plural space or spaces. These spaces are usually the product of a deal between cities and private real estate developers in which cities grant valuable zoning concessions and developers provide in return privately owned public spaces in or near their buildings. Privately owned public spaces commonly include plazas, arcades, small parks, and atriums.

The term privately owned public space was popularized by Harvard professor Jerold S. Kayden through his 2000 book Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience. The history of privately owned public space commenced in 1961 when New York City introduced an incentive zoning mechanism offering developers the right to build.

Between 1961 and 2000, 503 privately owned public spaces, scattered almost entirely in downtown, midtown, and upper east and west sides of New York City’s borough of Manhattan, were constructed at 320 buildings.

While privately owned public space as a term of art refers specifically to private property required to be usable by the public under zoning or similar regulatory arrangements, the phrase in its broadest sense can refer to places, like shopping malls and hotel lobbies, that are privately owned and open to the public, even if they are not legally required to be open to the public.

POPS is often referred to as Public Realm by a developer.

Let’s apply this concept to Burlington, and specifically to the Core development that is located on properties that are between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road and the large Molinaro development that has towers on either side of Brant Street at Ghent.

That development has five POPS.

The Core development, in the words of the development justification report describes the development as having “ been shaped by a comprehensive landscape strategy that integrates high quality public realm improvements across the site.

“A significant area of privately owned, publically accessible open space is provided on the west side of the development, adjacent to the proposed tower. The 19.3 metre wide space facilitates an important view corridor down to Lake Ontario from Lakeshore Road. The open space draws people towards Burlington’s waterfront serving as a connection point, while also providing an active meeting and gathering space where the whole community can interact, relax and play.

“The open space will provide a diverse and attractive green contribution to the proposed development that softens and balances the paving and the building massing. It has been designed to allow for the future expansion of the open space when the property to the west ultimately redevelops.
“Significant public realm improvements will also be integrated along the north and south sides of the site, through significant streetscape improvements. The widening of sidewalks and new paving and tree planting will bring life to both Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road, and significantly improve the setting of the heritage building.

This rendering shows the POPS looking north from Old Lakeshore Road

“The integration of these public realm improvements will create a strong sense of place, foster social interaction and support a positive pedestrian experience. The benefits will be experienced by both the residents of the development, and Burlington’s existing residents, and contribute towards the building of healthier communities for a more sustainable future.”

All well and god but the fact of the matter is that the condominium owners are responsible for that property and all the liability that entails.

We will be writing about this in more detail going forward.

There are eight high rise developments in this photograph. Not all of them have POPS as part of the development.  We have identified the eight properties; some are almost complete other are at the OLT appeal stage.

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