Could you please remove my last name and just call me xxxx. I am very frightened ...

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2020



The frantic emails came in at 5:47 pm; then 5:55 pm and again at 6:04 pm

The writer was frightened – the person had written a comment in the Gazette on the Millcroft story and thought she had to provide her full name for authentication.

Her comment, which is published as Name Witheld said:

Where is this developers conscience? How much money is enough? For residents who have their life savings in their home, with respect Mr. developer, how do you sleep?

These are seniors, couples, families who invested in a dream. We live both on and off the golf course. We are not rich, we work hard because we love our community, our schools, and our greenspace.

Safety? Please do not hide behind this pathetic excuse. Sweet dreams, Mr. developer.

You have one hell of a fight coming your way!

The emails to us went:

I am a resident of Burlington who today wrote a Letter in response to the MAD story. I did not know that you would use my full name. Could you please remove my last name and just call me xxxx. I am very frightened as I’m alone with two kids right now. I did not intend for my full name to go out there. Please can you help me. It says it is being reviewed.

Minutes Later

Please do not use my name in the opinions column currently being moderated. I thought I had to put my full name just for you to authenticate. I am a scared mother of 2. Please either remove or change my name to xx.
Thank you! Please let me know ASAP


Hello I mistakenly used my full name in your editorial option section about Millcroft March 4.

Could you please remove the opinion or at least write me as xxx not my full name. I thought I had to leave my name for authentication. I did not want my last name used. Please help me.

Please understand I’m terrified.


Hello, I wrote an opinion on the mad article. My name is xxx xxx can you please not use my last name. I am a scared mother as it is. Please just call me Please. I’m going to lose sleep over this. I thought I had to put in my full name.
Thankyou… please either erase it or just use my name xxx.

Block b 42 view 2

The full colour is part of the housing stock Argo Development wants to add to the Millcroft community. The grey part is development that already exists.

We published the comment and find ourselves asking: what kind of a city is this – that a person would fear that they would be harmed for saying what they think.

The number one city in the country eh!

Related news story:

Scope and scale of the development

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Differing opinions on the current flood of appeals to the Official Plan amendments and the zoning bylaw

opiniongreen 100x100By Pepper Parr

March 4th, 2020



The Gazette prides itself on maintaining a comment section. It gives space to people who have no other way of voicing their concerns. Are they always right? Hell no – there are a couple that are close to certified crackpots who entertain if nothing else; see it as our comics section.

The current flood of appeals to the LPAT has arguments on both sides of the issue. The following are comments that deserve a wider audience – thus our decision to publish them as opinion pieces.

Albert Facenda

Albert Facenda, a small Burlington based developer

Albert Facenda responding to Gary and Graham:
Gary and Grahame. You are correct that in 2005/2006 council conceded the downtown to the wishes of the Province. I believe it was the Liberals at the time. Our Mayor ran as a Liberal in 2007. Do we have any evidence that she was opposed to these decisions at the time?

Is she protecting the citizens of Burlington from over development in the downtown core as you have pointed out? I think not.

Environmentalists created the Green Belt with their doom and gloom scenarios. The Greenbelt created the shortage of land, creating Intensification the “Build up not out philosophy.” I don’t like intensification. But I will tell you the town of Grimsby was voted 2nd to Burlington as the best City to live in category. Take a drive through there and you will see construction everywhere. I predict Grimsby will be #1 this year. One of the reasons would be that it is the place to raise your family for those who can’t afford to live in Burlington. Remember what the Mayor said: ”The Downtown is only1% of Burlington” a significant number according to her.

Muir glancing

Tom Muir, once described as “acerbic”

Tom Muir in reply to Anne and David Marsden.
The appeals will be made public in due course. That is how it works.
In any case, what would you folks do with all the details of all the appeals?

This is a huge number of appeals at once and I would think that this was in fact expected by the city, or at the least, not a surprise. Didn’t surprise me.

The quality of the appeals at this stage is largely irrelevant. They seek to change the entire approved development rights for likely the entire downtown and GO station planning areas to what the appellants want. They want more at any cost it seems – it’s that simple.

It is possible to appeal an entire OP and Zoning. This is not about specific applications and proposals. It’s a grab for the whole enchilada, a saturation bombing.

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The power of a place called home: Open Letter to the community

opinionviolet 100x100By Eric Doubt,

March 4th, 2020


If you change the name Halton Hills to Burlington this Open Letter could have been written for Burlington as well.

In the links to additional material there is a link to a Gazette article – someone in Halton Hills likes us.

During a recent Regional Council meeting one of the representatives from Halton Hills admitted that there was homelessness and people sleeping on park benches in her community.

The person on the park bench spends another winter night in the snowy, wet, subzero weather. Some people in our neighbourhood are helping and the authorities and agencies are fully aware and actively seeking solutions. Similarly, you may be aware of others who are homeless in your neighbourhoods.

Georgetown signThere is homelessness in Georgetown(1). Some of us are vaguely aware that there may be. Some of us may try to do something about it but find it hard to create change. Some of us get upset or become disappointed and frustrated with failed efforts and a few may try to do more or learn more. Some of us just walk by the bench and say it’s just too bad and it shouldn’t be and don’t know where to turn, so turn away.

There is homelessness all over the world – in all developing countries, as well as those countries with the highest standards of living. There (here) it’s a chronic social problem driven by many complex factors including economic and social inequality, apathy, discrimination, impacts of mental illness, family dysfunction, alcoholism and drug addiction. Despite many well-intended and well-resourced studies and valiant efforts, we can’t seem to cure or prevent it.

Somebody had to come up with a different approach. What if we provided homes for the homeless; how might that change the paradigm?

The good news is – it’s been studied, researched and tried and it works. Quality of life gradually improves including: addiction behaviour, health, state-of-mind, ambition and action towards education, self-improvement and a return to society as a full participating member. The research is there and the results are proof.

You have to love the Finns. Four of them, a social scientist, a doctor, a politician and a bishop devised the principle called “housing first” over a decade ago. When I first read about this, I was dumbstruck. This article (2), one of many, describes the initiative: “As in many countries, homelessness in Finland had long been tackled using a staircase model: you were supposed to move through different stages of temporary accommodation as you got your life back on track, with an apartment as the ultimate reward.

“We decided to make the housing unconditional. To say, look, you don’t need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.” Finland now has the lowest rate of homelessness in the EU and is on the road to eradicating it.

Now, let’s bring it home – to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Watch your jaw drop. This western city has been blazing the trail toward functional zero chronic homelessness in Canada, having supported and housed 1166 homeless individuals since 2009. There are currently fewer than seven individuals not yet ‘at home’ in their community, today (3, 4)

A conceptually simple, concrete and sustainable solution, but it raises many issues of social and political will and resource allocation.

What if our community tried the same thing and became, like many other communities well on the road, an example of innovative, collaborative and successful social action? We did it on a smaller but very successful scale for our Beer Fest and the Canada Day flag competition and fly over.

It begins with individuals, – citizens, politicians, community and business leaders, who have the social consciousness and conscience, and the will to act and demonstrate leadership.

Let’s take a look around and challenge potential candidates. I believe an action force comprised of three powerful groups within our community could launch our own Halton Hills Homes First program and succeed. The partnership would consist of leadership from Mayor Rick Bonnette and our strong municipal council – human resources from a cooperative of local service organizations led by Habitat for Humanity – coupled with the experience and capacity of a major local developer prepared to give back.

If you Google ‘’housing first”, you will learn about the many pros and cons, failures and successes, frustrations and challenges and yes, critics, naysayers and deniers. But, you will also understand that it’s the best idea yet and that may convince you to have second thoughts next time you walk past that park bench in your neighbourhood.

Media links:

4file://localhost/. https/


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Is there a Regional plan in place should the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reach pandemic proportions?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 1st, 2020



The coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  has been found in 47 countries.

We may be be close to declaring a pandemic, which is when a whole country or the world is infected.  China, Iran and Italy are struggling to control the spread of the disease. The disease is now being spread in the United States.

Ontario has now found 19 people who are infected.

There is much that is not yet known by this virus. It appears that most people do recover from an infection.

The damage to the economy has been significant; the New York Stock Exchange recorded the largest drop in its history.

Stock prices

Biggest one day drop of New York Stock Exchange prices in its history. “The game has changed with Italy and also with the new case in California,”

People have every reason to be concerned – deeply concerned.

Japan has closed all its schools.

It has been suggested that the Tokyo Olympics might be cancelled.

None of this is said to be alarmist – however we do have a serious problem on our hands.

Ontario learned a lot from the SARS outbreak – those lessons are serving us well.

The provincial Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health has a constant flow of information – we are informed at the federal level and the provincial level.

We are not informed at the Regional level.

The disease is now in Canada.  It is being passed from person to person.  That does not mean the ravages of the 1918 Spanish flu is about to overcome us – but it does mean things have changed and public behavior has to change.

The public expects leadership from the people who we have put in place to lead.  The Medical Officer of Health is a critical part of protecting us.  Saying nothing is just not acceptable.

In the event that the virus gets completely out of control what does the average uninfected person do?

What does a person who suspects they might be infected do?

What does a person who is infected do?

If there are say 100 people in the Region infected – what do we do?

Is there a plan in place?

We have plans for people to use recreational centers when the weather is sub-zero and dangerous to be out in.

The public is advised when there is a West Nile virus concern – the Gazette publishes those notices regularly as we do with an outbreak of measles.


Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton’s Medical Officer of Heath.

The public has not heard a word from the Regional Medical Officer of Health on the COVID19 virus.

The public deserves better.

The Medical Officer of Health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health board told a local newspaper in that community that “It’s more of a communication event than a medical event for us.”

The communications advisors at the Region said the Medical Officer of Health had no comment when the Gazette asked for a comment.

Region alcohol

A report on Halton’s alcohol consumption took up more than 45 minutes during a Regional Council meeting

The Regional Medical Officer of Health did advise Regional Council recently  that Halton could well have a alcohol problem; the Regional rate of consumption is 5% higher than the provincial rate.

There is something wrong with the priorities.

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 Indigenous demonstrations and the coronavirus: put the focus on the real problem

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 26th, 2020



Justin Trudeau landed about right. After all, he couldn’t have ordered the RCMP to intervene in the non-violent blockades even if he’d wanted. Of course that won’t stop critics from attacking him. The NDP argued he should have met with the hereditary chiefs and further discouraged the police from moving in. And the Conservatives virtually demanded he invoke Canada’s emergency legislation and send in the army.

But after two weeks and with no sign of dialogue in the works, he told Canadians that enough is enough.  He was careful to distinguish between the dispute over the gas pipeline, which had ignited this conflict, and the other protestors with other complaints, primarily in Ontario and Quebec.

These other complaints might be about historical aboriginal injustice. Or perhaps it’s just some folks looking for a diversion from reading about the imminent threat of coronavirus, or maybe just a chance to get out of the house and do some good old fashioned civil disobedience.

Hereditary chiefs

The idea that Mohawks were defending the rights of the Wet’suwet’en all the way in B.C. is a stretch.

Given the history of indigenous peoples in Canada, the idea that Mohawks were defending the rights of the Wet’suwet’en all the way in B.C. is a stretch. And who were they supporting anyway, since not all the hereditary chiefs are opposed to the construction? In fact, a majority of Wet’suwet’en leaders support and have signed on to the pipeline.

So why were the tracks at Belleville blocked when the prime responsibility to resolve land issues around this pipeline resides with the B.C. government, not the feds and certainly nothing to do with Ontario? And even the RCMP in B.C. operate under contract with the province. So there is little that some guy in Ottawa is going to achieve by sticking his nose in.

Still, it is easy to understand why this Coastal GasLink pipeline is an affront to some of the Wet’suwet’en. The land is ‘unceded’, meaning the title is still undetermined, even though they have lived on it for centuries and consider it theirs. Then another affront came when opposing chiefs suggested another route for the pipe, only to be ignored.

And, of course, first nations are all about natural conservation and this project is all about hazardous fossil fuel development.

TMX pipeline

Gas pipe being laid.

The natural gas, methane, in the pipe will be shipped to overseas markets – so one might think there would be little environmental consequence to Canada or B.C. But methane is not the clean fuel that used to be advertised. Methane gas is as much as 70 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 depending on the time frame. And the production and transport of methane results in leaks, called fugitive emissions of the gas. The federal climate assessment puts fugitive gas emissions just under 10% of Canada’s total emissions.

Of course fugitive emissions, like any self respecting fugitive, tends to be a little hard to pin down, so we’re not sure how high they really are. It is estimated that between 1992 and 2012, fugitive methane emissions accounted for 7% of the world’s greenhouse gases. And it is estimated that the world annually loses $30 billion in fugitive gas emission value.

And the concern about the further development of fossil fuels is likely the reason why so many non-indigenous folks came out to join the protests and blockades. Their children will be thanking them when everyone reduces their carbon footprint. But it is a long way and a lot of burnt carbon to join the real blockade up in Wet’suwet’en country, so they need to protest here.

Mohawk demonstration Feb 26

Protesters blocking rail service

But protesting railroads everywhere is a really dumb idea. The railroads and even the rail companies have even less to do with the gas pipeline than the Mohawks do with the Wet’suwet’en. And even with those diesel guzzling train engines, rail travel is the most efficient way of moving goods and people. And that means rail travel makes for a smaller footprint than other transportation, excepting a bicycle or electric vehicle. So, for all those protestors who are just there to support their ancestral brothers and sisters and hopefully help kill another fossil fuel project, they need to rethink what they are doing.

It’s not the protesting but how these fine folks are protesting. The pipeline at issue carries only natural gas. But instead of attacking natural gas and the companies behind it, these rail line protests are hurting commuters and tourists and those who rely on rail for goods and services – and that eventually is too many of us.

Canadian acceptance of some kind of new deal with our aboriginal folks has never been more positive and with a compliant federal government more than eager to act. One can only wonder how those attitudes might shift should these blockades continue for any length of time – or this minority government fall.

Mohawk land back

The message from the Indigenous community – they want the land back.

And if you really want to make your protest meaningful, instead of creating havoc for commuters and others reliant on our rail systems, why not make the punishment fit the crime. Protest the use of natural gas. Call your gas company today and cancel your gas contract. Buy an electric heater to get you through the season until you can replace your furnace with a 90% carbon free heat pump.

And if you really want to be heard, sign onto your favourite social media and ask all your friends and family to also eliminate their gas bills and get rid of gas. And seriously, isn’t it better to be sitting at your iPad in the comfort of your home tweeting, or whatever, rather than freezing in the cold Ontario winter in the midst of shivering crowds and in the season of coronavirus?

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, 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:

Protests –    Gas Emissions –     Train Protests

Reconciliation is Dead –     Emissions

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Mayor studying to earn a Chartered Director designation - doesn't reveal who is paying for the expensive course.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2020



At a Standing Committee earlier in the month we thought we heard Mayor Marianne Meed Ward say that she was taking a course on governance. It was a passing comment.

We follow up with a note to the Mayors communications aide and asked where she was taking the course and who was paying for the course – they aren’t cheap.

Meed Ward with chain Sept 23-19

The Mayor is studying for the designation of Chartered Director.

Monday evening the Mayor said that she was studying for a Chartered Director designation. She made no other comment.

The Mayor’s communications aide told the Gazette earlier this month that: “This is being paid for privately and will have zero impact on the taxpayers of Burlington.”

Who is privately? If the Mayor is receiving a benefit for something directly related to her work the public has a right to know where the money for the benefit is coming from.

This is not to suggest that there is anything untoward going on.

Our view is that first: Congratulations to the Mayor for deciding to take the course – it is not an easy course – there are a lot of people who register, attend the classes but find that they haven’t don’t the work needed to be able to pass the examination.

Before being accepted into the course an assessment based on five key areas which are central to organizational direction and governance.

  • Vision, Purpose, Values and Ethics
  • Strategic Thinking and Stakeholder Management
  • Delegation to Management
  • Discharging your Duties as a Director and as a Competent Member of a Collective and Responsible Body
  • Exercising Effective and Accountable Leadership 

This is not an easy undertaking.

The Mayor may have been given a scholarship, who gave it to her?

Burlington is going to be better off with a Mayor who has the designation.

It would have been better for the city to have paid the fees. Sure a lot of people would have howled. Meed Ward will be a much better Mayor – she already is – due to what she has learned.

This is all a little awkward – being a public person means you are always in the public eye – usually because that is what successful politicians do for a living.

For the time being the public is going to have to accept that the Mayor is getting some valuable training that will benefit all of us which is paid for by – we don’t know who.

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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MP reflects on value of listening, even to a small minority, to reach common ground

opinionred 100x100By Staff

February 19th, 2020



AVK stroke

Milton MP Adam van Koeverden in a former occupation.

Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport,) is the Member of Parliament for Milton, which includes a large part of northern Burlington.

He spoke yesterday in the Emergency Debate related to the Indigenous community protests taking place.

He said:

Madam Speaker, I sat in relative awe of a lot of people today listening to a variety of statements and perspectives. Like a lot of things, that is what makes the House great: a lot of different perspectives and opinions.

However, there is a degree to which this issue and the people involved in the project are being co-opted to reinforce multiple political narratives. One thing that is clear is that this issue severely lacks consensus. I have heard tonight conflicting reports of support from locals as disparate as the opinions in the House.

pipeline protest feb 19

Protests across the country have impacted commercial operations and put in stark relief what the country is going to have to do to recognize and respect the rights of the Indigenous community.

We can certainly all agree, I hope, that a peaceful process and a resolution that results in no violence is in everyone’s best interests. However, the language that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition is anything but peaceful, as he suggested that indigenous people “check their privilege”. The Leader of the Opposition doubled down on that statement today when he urged haste and force.

I am grateful that my colleagues on this side are able to learn from history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

My question for my colleague refers to his prior role as parliamentary secretary and his important work on the Indigenous Languages Act. Could he elaborate on the value of listening, even to a small minority, to reach common ground, sometimes in the absence of consensus?

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Councillor gets a 'bum steer' from staff as she is learning to do her job.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 19th, 2020



During the very difficult meeting at which the Audit Committee discussed the report the auditor had prepared on what wasn’t working with the CRM system the city had decided to install, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns said she asked staff what she had to do to be a good city councillor.

Lisa Kearns Election Photo

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns. Wanted to be a good Councillor – staff didn’t help.

This was very shortly after she had been sworn in.

Kearns reported that the senior people she spoke with told her she should trust staff and work with them.

Staff mislead the new Councillor; whether knowingly is for them to determine.

What Staff should have said to the new city Councillor was:

Hold us accountable.

That began to happen Wednesday of last week when Lisa Kearns and Paul Sharman asked some very hard and pointed questions about what had gone wrong with the Customer Relations Management system.

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That plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean is ending up in the fish we eat.

News 100 greenBy Ray Rivers

February 14th, 2020



The baby boom generation has a lot to answer for. How many boomers can recall that epic 1967 movie, ‘The Graduate’. A young Dustin Hoffman was the dazed and aimless anti-hero stuck in a fractured picture of an overabundant American civilization looking for its next drug. And there it was, on the strength of advice from a well-intentioned guest. “Plastics… There’s a great future in plastics”.

plastic bio-degrading

Sifting through debris at a plastic bottle recycling plant has led to the unearthing of a plastic-munching microorganism that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The researchers who discovered the bacterium hope that it will provide a new way to recycle PET plastics by breaking them down into their building blocks.

Watching the news today it is hard to get beyond the threat to all of us posed by the Coronavirus, recently named COVID-19. A pandemic is an immediate, and acute threat and we are pretty sure that it will peak and then pass. Contrast that with the chronic challenges of global warming and something we’ve heard less about until recently, plastic pollution.

Micro plastic particles are omnipresent in our environment, the air we breathe and the food we ingest. We may not fully comprehend what that means, but it’s not good. Even in the most remote reaches of our oceans, fish now contain significant amounts of plastic in their bodies… and so do we when we eat them. And unlike the nasty COVID-9 virus, which will eventually be gone, the plastic pollution we have created will be with us for a very long time.

Who could have envisioned the potential impact of such a seemingly benign and inert product, developed to improve the state of our lives. Little more than a half century after our young graduate was turned-on to plastic we learn that there is now an island of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean, three hundred kilometres wide and three times the size of France.

Back when they were filming the Graduate the biggest threat to our survival was the bomb and the Soviets. Whoever had thought of this bigger risk to our survival – big fossil fuel? Yes, the very people who are delivering rising sea levels, acidification and warming of the oceans, melting of the polar ice caps, and increased storms are also the same culprits who have given us plastics.

plastic in ocean

A huge belt of plastic photographed floating off the coast of the Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras.

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, and its production has doubled every 15 years. So unless we do something radical, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish, ton for ton. Of the billions of metric tonnes of plastic that have been produced, fully 80% goes in the waste bins and over a third of that is ‘single use’ – used once and discarded.

Industry’s claim that plastic can be recycled is largely a myth, since less than 10% is actually recycled. In fact, half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year. And eight million tonnes ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of the planet’s ocean coastline.

The prime minister promised that if re-elected he would ban single use plastic starting next year, but the devil is in the details. To that end the government has just released a scientific assessment of the plastics problem. Besides the potential of government regulations, there is already some action afoot to deal with the problem.

Clearly the place to start is to avoid the use of plastic. To that end many grocery stores are no longer offering plastic bags at cash outs, though a good deal of everything in the stores still comes wrapped in layers of plastic film and sits on trays of single use styrofoam. Many restaurants have switched to paper rather than plastic straws, or just eliminated them entirely. And many customers are refusing to accept plastic bags, when offered, for the products they buy.

Then there are a number of environmental non-profit organizations taking the plastic in their own hands by starting to clean it up. One of these is a Vancouver outfit called Ocean Legacy Foundation. Started in 2014, this organization claims about 25 staff, most of whom are volunteers to clean up the plastic refuse which gets washed ashore on the west coast every day. Since 2015 Ocean Legacy has collected 170,000 pounds of waste plastic from Canada’s western shorelines.

Though not presently operational in the Great Lakes, Ocean Legacy is active in Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. In addition to hands-on clean ups, the organization has structured a program of information, education and advocacy which they offer to help communities get involved on their own and on their own shorelines. They have received some funding from governments as well private entities, and they do accept online donations.


The damage plastics in ocean water are doing to the fish we eat.

As important as these voluntary clean up actions are, runaway plastic pollution is a problem that drastically needs government regulation. Some of the larger manufacturers of plastic film and other packaging would have you believe they maintain a cradle-to-grave responsible corporate policy, something which was in vogue a few years ago. Yet they are missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they have inadvertently created, since virtually all plastic is created as a product of oil and gas mining.  So why are big oil and the plastic manufacturers missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they are responsible for?

Canada has become a highly divided nation. There are those who live in oil producing provinces and then there are the rest of us. That was made evident in the last federal election. The only political party promoting big oil won almost every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There is a simmering conflict and an emerging political crisis at our doorstep. The political leaders of those oil producing provinces may not personally be in the pockets of the oil companies but they are there to do their bidding as the industry endeavors to extract that very last barrel of bitumen.

The fight will be between the legitimate right of a federal government to protect the health of its citizens and the right of the oil companies and their sub-national political allies to monetize that last grain of bitumen laden sand. And the consequences of failure may well be the kind of protest action we are seeing among indigenous folks today over pipelines.

Plastics may have played a big role in our economic lives over the last sixty years but it has left us with a poisonous legacy. And its future is no longer great, given the unintended consequences of its widespread adoption.

Background links

Draft Science Assessment –     Great PacificGarbage Patch –     Fish to Humans

Plastic Waste –    PM’s Promise –   Swimming Through Pacific Garbage

Ocean Legacy

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NDP candidate hammers the government - points out that Deputy Ministers have been given 14% increases over a 4 year period

opinionred 100x100By Andrew Drummond

February 5th, 2020



This week, across Halton region there will be three days of education disruption. The elementary teachers will be striking Monday and Thursday while their counterparts in the Secondary system will be striking Tuesday. The reasons for the strikes are many, but the attitude of the Minister of Education has been puzzling throughout. Despite the obvious false nature of many of his comments, the Minister has stuck to the talking point of this being entirely about compensation for teachers. It feels occasionally like the reason we are in such a mess with education in Ontario was that because Minister Lecce and Premier Ford hate teachers, they assumed that everyone hated teachers. Then, once they discovered that to be untrue, they had no backup plan to build a plan that would be palatable to the public.

Teachers elementary strike

Teachers take over the side walks across Halton.

Regardless of the reasons, Ontario is now in a state of distress regarding its education systems. For the first time in decades, every union representing educators is in a strike position. And for all the bluster with press releases and accusations, there are only three primary areas of contention between the two sides: class sizes, salaries, and mandatory e-learning. One of these, salaries, has some limited legitimacy as a contentious issue, but the other two are such terrible ideas that the government has been unable to even defend them effectively.

The biggest hole in the government’s plan is the planned implementation of mandatory e-learning. The government’s dictum for students graduating in 2024 and beyond (typically students in Grade 8 today) will be that in order to get a Secondary School Diploma, they will need to have earned 2 e-learning credits, meaning credits taken online rather than in a classroom. The government had previously intended to require 4 credits but reduced the decision in November after public outcry.

When asked to explain the rationale for this requirement, the government stated that mandatory e-learning will allow Ontario to be “a global leader of modern and digital education,”. Unfortunately, there is very little evidence to suggest that making e-learning mandatory will accomplish that goal. Five jurisdictions in North America (Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, and Virginia) have experimented with 1 mandatory credit, but none of those programs has been successful with lowered passing rates from every data point available.

In reality, the government is just looking to cut more teaching positions. The e-learning courses would be offered with a teacher to student ratio of 35:1 which would be considerably higher than the in classroom 22.5:1 currently or even the 25:1 proposed. Of note, when e-learning was implemented in Alabama, it was done with LOWER teacher to student ratios in order to give students the best chance of success. If student success was truly the goal in Ontario, there would be additional resources to support the program. However, by presenting it as a reduction in teacher support it is clear that for Ontario, e-learning is only a mechanism to reduce the number of teachers.

Teachers Education workers

It it’s not just the teachers looking for an increase – educational works take to the picket lines.

The second major issue in negotiations is salary. The government’s talking points in this dispute revolve entirely around the strike being an issue of teacher compensation. Minister Lecce has stated repeatedly “We prioritize student investment over compensation.” The government has publicly offered the educators a salary increase of 1% per year for three years. The concern is that the inflation rate in Ontario is 2.3%. Therefore, a compensation increase of 1% is really a cut of 1.3% in purchasing power. The ask of the teachers matches most private sector companies. In the private sector, most offer their employees a minimum of a 2% increase every year as “Cost of Living” and performance dictates any increase beyond that. This is seen as necessary to retain talent, but the government is trying to restrain that expected increase for the teachers.

In November, the government also passed the “Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act” to mandate by law that teachers not be eligible for an increase greater than 1%. While not frequent in its talking points, the law is nevertheless used as part of the government’s case (though it is being challenged in court as unconstitutional). The hypocrisy though is that while the legislation would cap increases for teachers and nurses among others, there is a lengthy list of professions that are exempt including:

– OPP officers who won a 2.15% increase in an arbitrated settlement earlier this year
– Doctors, who won an arbitrated settlement to increase fees earlier this year
– Crown Attorneys, who are currently negotiating their next agreement
– Deputy Ministers, whose salary has increased by 14% across the past 4 years

A quick analysis of this list shows the government aggressively fighting wage increases for low earners, but allowing bigger increases for highly paid professions. Limiting compensation is an expected position for the government to take in a bargaining negotiation, but legislation to cap an increase below both inflation and other higher paid positions is not bargaining in good faith.

Teachers strike at Nelson

Teachers line the sidewalk outside Nelson high school.

The last of the primary demands from the government is the increase in secondary class sizes from a student:teacher ratio of 22:1 to a ratio of 25:1. This again, is a retreat from the government as the initial demanded ratio was 28:1. The government nonsensically states that this can be achieved with no teacher layoffs, though the layoffs in every board as a result of increasing to the 22.5:1 ratio in September 2019 shows this to be categorically untrue.

The additional frustrations of this government demand is the clear deception regarding no layoffs (simple math shows that 12% fewer teachers are needed at 25:1 rather than 22:1), but also that the government messaging continues to suggest they prioritize student resources over compensation. It begs the question, what resources are more important to students than their teachers? By essentially removing 1 out of 8 teaching positions, they are depriving students of the very resources they are trying to say they prioritize.

In short, it is clear that the government’s attempts to enforce mandatory e-learning are actually a cover to reduce the number of teaching positions. It is clear that the increase in class sizes will do nothing for student achievement, but will reduce the number of teaching positions. And, it is clear that the government intends to use whatever means necessary to reduce the compensation of whatever teachers remain after these cuts.

Teachers at Central with Horvath

Another photo op for the New Democratic leader. Andrea Horvath with teachers.

The government has an obvious hatred for teachers shown in the false and duplicitous nature of Minister Lecce’s public statements. The government is clearly forcing e-learning for the purpose of cutting teachers and classroom support. And the government mandated class size increases, while profitable, will degrade the quality of public education in Ontario. Is it for those reasons and others, that such an unprecedented number of parents, students, and community members have been joining teachers on the picket lines to help fight these cuts, and to fight for the education resources that Ontario’s students deserve.

Andrew Drummond HeadshotAndrew Drummond was the New Democrat candidate in the 2018 provincial election.  He placed second behind Jane McKenna who won the seat in a previous election. VOTES in the 2018 election were: 25,504 PC; 18,053 NDP; 15,515 Liberal; 2828 Green

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Mayor's tweet account runs amuck - is social media the best way for her to communicate effectively?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Staff

January 30th, 2020




The words were barely out of her mouth and then there they were – in the land of tweets.

These appeared in the Mayor’s tweet account during the Special City Council meeting that took place after her State of the City address earlier in the day.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward had her Media and Digital Communications Specialist gathering what the Mayor had to say and sending them out to her twitter followers – the volume ranked right up there with the president of the United States – and look where THAT got THEM.
Here is a portion of the content.

Land Use cover• For clarity, any policies that reference growth in the MTSA’s should also include reference to the overall MTSA typology which differentiates the characteristics between downtown and the GO station MTSA’s

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility to consider the following modification to the proposed Official Plan Amendment:

Approve the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment as amended attached in Appendix E (
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning report PL-01-20; and

Approve the proposed Official Plan Amendment as amended attached in Appendix D (
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning report PL-01-20; and

Mayor with Civic bling

As the Mayor speaks her words are captured and sent out as short tweet bursts of data.

Receive the Interim Control Bylaw Land Use Study report prepared by Dillon Consulting as amended and attached as Appendix B (
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning department report PL-01-20; and

The motion on the floor for vote follows:
Deem that no further notice is required in respect of the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment in accordance with Sect. 34 (17) of the Planning Act concerning a change to a proposed bylaw made after the holding of the public meeting; and 1/8

“… This is merely another step we are taking in this process and we have a lot of miles still to go.” 5/5

“… We saw from the consultant’s report our downtown bus terminal doesn’t function as an MTSA like our Burlington GO station & it won’t, no matter how many transit upgrades occur. This is a transit-friendly council & we will continue improving transportation in our downtown. 4/5

“… That’s our next step, and the consultant’s report positions us with solid planning rationale for these conversations with the Region and Province… 3/5
“… These policies will help us better manage growth in the downtown. There is also an outstanding staff direction to review the appropriateness of the downtown’s Major Transit Station Area & Urban Growth Centre designations at the end of the ICBL/OP review studies…. 2/5

Mayor Meed Ward comments: “This is a really historic moment and I want to thank staff, Council, all members of our community and the consultant. This is a significant milestone for the City in getting a community vision for our downtown & controlling overdevelopment… 1/5

Here is a link to a copy of the ICBL Land Use Study done by Dillon Consulting and revised January 2020:

This is a classic example of what is wrong with the tweet world – no context,  just a collection of phrases thrown up into the air hoping they will land somewhere.

Responsible, public leadership meets with media regularly to answer not just questions but follow up questions and is available for clarification.  Burlington doesn’t have that level of municipal political leadership.

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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Mayor responds to chippy letter from MPP Jane McKenna - these two women don't seem to want to get along.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2020



In the world of politics keeping clear communications paths is vital.

It means being nice nice to people you may not have a lot of time for.

A number of people have commented in the Gazette and asked: why doesn’t the city do whatever has to be done to move the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) which is a boundary the city must have – province says so. However, it appears where that boundary line is drawn is something the city can influence.

When the UGC was created Burlington either didn’t realize they could influence the boundaries or was satisfied with what the province handed down.

As you can see from the map below – that boundary covers all of lower Brant Street which many people don’t believe that’s where the city’s growth should take place.

Urban growth centre

The precincts that are shown are out of date.

The city council elected in 2018 took a much different view and made some tough decisions. They drafted and passed an Interim Control Bylaw which froze development within the UGB – which really upset the development community.

Council also decided to re-write parts of the adopted but not approved Official Plan. That process is close to complete.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna has written the Mayor offering her services to help with anything the province needs to do. In her letter to the Mayor there were some less than parliamentary comments.  The two women have never really gotten along all that well.

Mayor Meed Ward responded to MPP McKenna in a letter dated January 13th.

It starts out politely enough.

Read on.

Dear MPP McKenna,

Thank you for your interest in the Official Plan Review matters detailed in my January 2020 newsletter. We’re honoured to count you among our readers and subscribers!

Meed Ward hands out frnt city hall

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in front of city hall.

We’re gratified that you have found the information useful, as have so many of our residents, and that the newsletter has prompted further dialogue about issues in our city, which is one of its purposes.

Please allow me to take the opportunity afforded by your correspondence to summarize the journey we have been on, where we are at, and next steps in the process of reviewing our Official Plan and vision for downtown.

Our current Official Plan was created in 1997 and has been updated more than 100 times since. Our current plan has enabled the city to be recognized at the Best City in Canada, and the Best City to Raise A Family, as well as achieve – 12 years early – our city-wide population of 185,000 by 2031.

We are also well on our way to surpassing our population and growth densities for the downtown of 200 people or jobs by 2031.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the previous council chose to develop a new Official Plan rather than continue to update the existing one. That led to the 2018 Adopted Official Plan, which the current city council is in the process of revising to better respond to the community’s vision for our city, particularly downtown.

To support the review of both the current and the Adopted Official Plan, council initiated two studies in early 2019: the Scoped Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan related to the downtown policies, and an Interim Control Bylaw to conduct a land use study to consider the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street as major Transit Station Areas and as well to examine the planning structure, land mix and intensity for the lands identified in the study area.

That work kicked off last February, and the one-year Interim Control By-law expires March 5th of this year.

Given the MTSA and UGC currently exist in Regional and Provincial policy and did so at the time we began our review, our work to update our Official Plan was required to conform to the existing designations.

John Street bus terminal

The transit station on John Street, which was once up for demolition as a cost saving measure, is defined as a Major Transit Service Area.

Nevertheless, council and the community are keen to discuss the appropriateness of the designations. As a result, last year, council also directed staff to, at the conclusion of our studies, to review the designations for the MTSA and UGC downtown.

The ICBL land use study has just been completed, with the report released to council and the community in late December 2019. Discussion of this matter is happening at committee on January 14, 2020. The scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies is expected to be completed and considered by council in April 2020. After completion of both studies, staff will report to council in May 2020 on any proposed changes to the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station Area designations applicable to the Burlington’s downtown and the Burlington GO that could be recommended as a result of any proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments arising out of the studies.

Over the past year, the City has consulted with the Region on the status and process steps related to the ICBL land use study and the scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies. The City will continue to work closely with the Region of Halton and the Province on any further changes that might be proposed regarding the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station designations as the result of the report directed to be brought forward to Council following completion of the studies. It is expected that the process to seek any changes to provincial legislation will be complex. While a formal request to Province would ultimately be required, there would be several steps that would first need to be completed including reporting back to City and Regional Council for required approvals.

The sequencing of steps is to ensure that our discussion on all planning matters, including these designations, is grounded in good planning analysis, policy and principle. This will be particularly important should the City ultimately seek any amendments to the provincial Growth Plan.

No invite for the Burlington MPP - was this a mistake or is it petty politics.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna was first elected to the provincial legislature in 2010 , lost the position to Eleanor McMahon in 2014 and regained the seat when she defeated McMahon in 2018.

We believe the analysis provided by both studies will be immensely helpful to the Province, Region and City of Burlington as we move into the next step of discussions together about the MTSA/UGC designations downtown.

We welcome and will need your involvement and assistance in this next step and appreciate the offer in your letter to work with myself, the city manager and council on these matters.

I look forward to the next step in this journey and am grateful for your continued assistance in these matters.

Signed The Mayor of Burlington.

When it comes to pecking orders – MPP’s trump Mayors. The city is required to work with the local MPP.  Meed Ward does not have the best of relationships with the current MPP nor did she have a particularly strong relationship with the former MPP, Eleanor McMahon.  Based on this observer’s experience the chemistry between the Mayor and the MPP’s just wasn’t there.

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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There are limits to what a Mayor is supposed to do internationally; three trips abroad is not what she was elected to do.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2020



How many times does the Mayor have to travel abroad to represent the city?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is the Mayor of a mid-sized city.

She is not yet the Premier of the province nor is she representing Burlington at a federal level.


Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward with Richard Rohmer, Honorary Lieutenant General Richard Heath Rohmer OC CMM OOnt DFC CD QC), during the D-Day celebrations.

The trip to Normandy to celebrate the D-Day landings had merit.


Burlington’s Mayor leading a parade in Itabashi Japan.

The trip to Japan to celebrate the xx year relationship with the city of Itabashi was a little excessive; the trip to Apeldoorn in May is one of those “nice to have’s” the Mayor complained about when she was a citizen banging on the doors of the council chamber to be let in.

Being a Mayor with provincial pretensions calls for an ability to judge the difference between personal ambitions and the needs of the city you lead.

The plans for a side trip to France while she is in Holland can’t be justified no matter how hard you try.

Our Mayor is not listening to the genuine concerns of a lot of people.

She could be in the process of losing the connection she has to her base.

In October of 2018 Marianne Meed Ward was the best choice of what was available for the job of Mayor – her “tribe” expects her to grow into the job.

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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How many countries should Burlington twin with?

 SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2020



Burlington has twinned itself with two cities: Itabashi in Japan and Appeldoorn in the Netherlands.

The relationship with each city is robust with delegations from Burlington going to Holland and Japan and delegations from those countries visiting Canada.

It is a satisfying relationship for everyone and the cost is minimal.

Storming the beach on D day

Canadian soldiers storming the beach of Normandy on D-Day

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward spent the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Juno Beach in France. Prior to her leaving for the trip she learned about the very significant role Burlington plays in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The Juno Beach Centre was designed by an architect from Burlington and paid for with funds raised in Burlington.

The Mayor of  Courseulles-sur-Mer is reported to have asked Mayor Meed Ward if they could twin with Burlington. It sounded like a nice idea with much merit. Far too many Canadian men lost their lives storming the beaches of France on D-Day. It was the event that turned the tide of WWII. Twinning with Courseulles-sur-Mer  would be very fitting.

It raises the question, however, of just how many countries does Burlington want to twin with. There has to be a limit somewhere.

The Mundialization Committee is working through a number of ideas including the creation of a second category which would be a “friendship” relationship that would involve a lot less interaction and probably not include visits to France. (Link to that report below.)

The Mundialization Committee has not made any decisions; the Mayor is going to be in Holland for the 75th Anniversary of the end of the second world war and has plans to make a side trip to France to follow up on the idea.

I have a very serious concern over the creation of a “friendship” relationship with Courseulles-sur-Mer while we maintain a full blown boisterous relation with a city in Japan.

Canadians died on the beaches of France defending democracy.

Canadians died in the Pacific in a war we fought to bring an end to; a nation that attacked Pearl Harbour and wanted to conquer  America.

Perhaps the status of Itabashi could be downgraded to one of “friendship” and Courseulles-sur-Mer brought in as a twin.

It might be awkward from a diplomatic point of view but to put that small sea-side community whose beaches our men died on to defend democracy as a “friend” while Itabashi has a full blown twinning  relationship is just not right.

Juno Beach Centre

Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer, a beach where many Canadian men died during the D-Day landings.

Canadian troops liberated Apeldoorn in World War Two; an event that is celebrated by both countries every November 11th.

Japan and Germany have come along way from being what they were in the 1940’s but we don’t celebrate the wars they started.

Related news story:

Council to decide how many locations around the world the city will twin with.

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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Changes planned for the Advisory Committees? Something appears to be in the works.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2020



A reader, who is more comfortable remaining anonymous, but who we know to be reliable, wrote to comment that “the City went all big on Public Engagement and held Citizen Action Labs – public sessions to consider Citizens Advisory Committees” (my understanding is that this ‘issue’ has been in discussion since 1997).

“A list of many of the suggestions/recommendations was sent around to participants (and is available on the getinvolved site – click on Latest News). Then a staff report was to be presented at the Nov. 4 COW meeting – but pulled, literally at the last moment.

“Explanation, of sorts, can be found

HERITAGE B Oct 16-12 A

The Heritage Advisory Committee is exceptionally successful. Former city councils gave then a lot of responsibility and they didn’t fail to deliver. There are other Advisory committees that are close to failures.

“Since then, some kind of ‘review team’ was struck to ??? Jim Young and Roland Tanner are two names that I can identify as being invited.

“I caught wind of a Q & A (not my words) to be held at City Hall on the evening of Jan. 23, with some members of existing Advisory Committee members before the staff report gets sent to Council.

“I don’t think there’s anything nefarious going on but it is frustrating when a citizen takes time out to participate and then is kept in the dark until the ‘results’ are presented as a fait d’acompli almost a year later.”

Anything to it?  The report was pulled very suddenly last November.

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Crosby - Smith delegation: This is the final chance any of us have to protect our downtown and waterfront. We ask that you don’t let us down.

opinionred 100x100Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith

January 14th, 2020


“This is the “as written” rather than the “as delivered” version of WeLoveBurlington’s delegation.  There are some inaccuracies in the “as written” version, a result of late changes in the staff/consultant presentations that were presented just before the delegations, to which the delegates had no opportunity to respond and which caused last minute ‘on the fly’ changes for us and others.   As such, it is a resounding QED (Quid est demonstratum = which is proven)  for WLB’s principal complaint of a flawed and disrespectful public engagement process”.

Good morning Chair, Councillors, Your Worship.

I am Lynn Crosby and with me is my colleague, Blair Smith. As you know, we represent the advocacy group, WeLoveBurlington.

We stand before you, as we did on December 5th, to ensure that citizens are heard. We are honouring a commitment – both to ourselves and to the other advocates for citizen empowerment and strong local voice. We question the timing and basic process of the course that brings the 243-page Integrated Control By-Law Land Use report before you for approval today – just 14 working days after it was first released on the Friday before the Christmas holidays. Also the 319-page Preliminary Preferred Concept Report to be presented to Council two days from now, and released only 3 business days ago. The reports are highly interdependent and the almost concurrent timing of both is very unfortunate. Is this truly enough time for even an engaged and well-informed citizenry to properly review, assess and comment? We believe not.

Lynn and Blair 3

Lynn Crosby watching council while her delegation partner reads.

The ICBL Report is exceedingly long and dense. A great deal of the necessary detail and the associated import is carried by and buried within the appendices; the degree of cross-reference and referral needed does not produce ease of understanding nor transparency. Nor does the staff report provide a clear and readily understandable summary of what it all means.

There has been no engagement exercise or review of the ICBL Land Use policies – no opportunity for the public to examine and respond. Why hasn’t the public been engaged on this as they were on the concepts? Why hasn’t this crucial meeting been actively promoted? Isn’t the Statutory Public Meeting the opportunity in the planning process to address the issues, allow the public to debate and obtain public input? Why is this meeting focused on approval rather than information collection and exchange?
This report accepts the same limiting factors and planning constraints identified in our earlier delegation:

· The urban growth centre designation for downtown
· The anchor mobility hub designation for the DT and
· The major transit station area designation for the current John St. bus station

Although important qualifications are made, no consideration has been given to our earlier recommendation – to shift the focus and effort to first eliminating these constraints, or attempting to, before establishing the amendments to the Official Plan.

Where is the “strategy” for approaching the Region or Province to relocate the Urban Growth Centre? Why is that not before us today? We believe that that is the first order of business and last month we were told by Ms. MacDonald that it would be coming. We are in a good position to ask for the Province’s assistance in this regard. As noted in the staff report (p.4), “Local Official Plans address much more specific planning issues within a city and provide greater detail and clarity on how a broad provincial direction is addressed at a local level.” In other words, the province is predisposed to leave issues of detail, such as the location of the UGC, to local decisioning.


MPP Jane McKenna

One year ago, our MPP Jane McKenna stated publicly in the Burlington Post, and again in her newsletter, that she often hears this request from residents and that she approached the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. She reported at length and concluded that …

“The City of Burlington council is free to remove these mobility hub designations from the local official plan. If city council voted to change the boundaries of the downtown Burlington urban growth centre this could be accomplished by Halton Region as part of the next official plan review. This must take place prior to July 1, 2022. Burlington could then, in turn, amend its official plan to reflect the new boundaries.”

We would like to openly acknowledge Ms. McKenna’s effort. WLB has not always been a cheerleader for our local MPP but here she did what she was elected to do and she did it when it could have made a difference. The citizens of Burlington expected and still expect that these conversations would have been undertaken by the City and that we would be well on our way to having the designations removed and the UGC moved. That this much time has elapsed without any such attempts is disappointing. We don’t accept that it’s now too late since you don’t want to extend the ICBL because you fear developer appeals if you do.

Respectfully, this is a situation created by you; we ask you to now fix it. If developers appeal, let them. In the meantime, you have the time needed to get the vital missing components done and in the proper order. As we have stated and continue to state, you only have one chance to protect the downtown and the waterfront and that chance is now.

The revised Land Use policies being recommended for adoption this morning, as Official Plan Amendment 119, are conveyed as appendices D and E. If accepted, we believe that OPA 119 will lock us into a downtown over-intensification scenario. There are technical planning considerations and policy issues that speak against the direction proposed for the downtown. They include the absence of all the planning components for which the Adopted OP was originally considered to be “non-compliant” by the Region, including the lack of a Transportation Plan or Mobility Hub Plan. Why do these gaps still exist? Why does the ICBL Land Use Study not address them?

John Street bus terminal

There was a time when Transit staff suggested the bus terminal be torn down – now the building is being described as vital if transit is to grow or the defining of the building as Major Transit Station Area as a major mistake.

How can the downtown be designated as an MTSA when it is recognized that the anchor DT bus terminal currently does not function as a major bus depot and is unlikely to do so barring substantial and unplanned future improvements?

How can the downtown be designated as an MTSA when it is acknowledged that it “is not located on a priority transit corridor nor is it supported by higher order transit nor by frequent transit within a dedicated ROW”?

Shouldn’t the land use implications of designating the downtown as an MTSA be identified and isn’t this designation, since MTSAs are focal points for higher intensity and mixed-use transit supportive development … likely to result in over-development?
Can we be confident that with these amendments, but leaving the mis-designations and the UGC as is, that building heights can be effectively limited and those limits defended? We’re looking to the downtown of the future but also to developments that are already in process, such as those proposed for Lakeshore and Pearl or James and Martha? This question is critical to the entire exercise.

Significant details and implications are carried by the maps and are not immediately transparent. Map 3 should be amended to remove the Major Transit Station “dot” reference since it is easily missed and accepts the mis-designation of the John Street bus terminal as an MTSA.

Maps 1 and 2 amend the existing OP with what the Dillon report refers to as the “revised” DT Urban Growth Centre boundaries. Set aside the question of whether it should still be located in the DT at all, were the UGC boundaries revised and what were the revisions? On what basis and why was this not presented to the public and Council first?

City council photo Xmas

Weeks after being sworn in the new Council posed for a Christmas photo – there was nothing festive about the questions asked by delegations.

We would like to echo something raised this morning but that has been frequently voiced at Statutory Meetings, the Action Labs and Ward Meetings. All of you ran, implicitly or explicitly, on a platform that became a populist groundswell that defeated the incumbent Mayor, two sitting members of Council and caused two more to seek alternative career or life opportunities. When not a fully expressed component of your own platforms, you nevertheless benefited from the anti-intensification message that resonated with exceptional force. The citizens of Burlington now expect you to honour this mandate. At the very least, please defer approval of the recommendations before you today until a much more complete engagement process with Burlington citizens has been conducted.

Why are we rushing as staff led Council to rush in 2018? As we noted previously, and as confirmed by the Region, there is no clock ticking. We urge you to take the time to address all the building blocks of a new Official Plan. Indeed, if the recommendations of the ICBL Report are approved today, then Thursday’s Preferred Concept meeting becomes ‘pro forma’ and meaningless. Which process is being respected today – a sense of false urgency to the Region – or that which provides for meaningful citizen engagement?

Stolte - the chair

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte chaired the Standing Committee today. She had to tell two very strong delegations that there were no questions for them. It appeared she did so reluctantly.

We do not believe that what is before you today hears either the voice of the people or the direction of the Council they thought they elected. We recognized in our previous delegation that many of the errors made concerning the future of Burlington’s downtown go far back and are not yours. But that excuse stops today. The direction going forward is clearly yours and yours alone. It will be your lasting and irrevocable legacy. We ask you to consider your legacy carefully, step up and defer the decisions being asked of you this morning.

We acknowledge and appreciate the work of staff in creating the Preliminary Concept Report to be presented on Thursday. However, what that concept allows or does not allow for the downtown doesn’t matter if it won’t be enforceable because you approved this report today with the mis-designations and UGC location unchanged. Thursday’s report would then be irrelevant and we would see little point in debating its merits. We delegated today because this is the crucial moment. This is the final chance any of us have to protect our downtown and waterfront. We ask that you don’t let us down.

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Scobie: Tough words, and I feel bad using them ... this will be your legacy.

opiniongreen 100x100By Gary Scobie

January 14th, 2020



Scobie Jan 14

Gary Scobie

I am here today to speak in opposition to the sections of the Land Use Report that deal with downtown planning and the downtown Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). I support the recent letter to Council drafted by ECoB, Citizens’ Plan B and We Love Burlington citizens groups. I also support Jim Young’s recent article on his concern for a downtown maybe already lost.

Last time I was here in December, I disappointed some on Council.

I’ll warn you now that I’ll probably do that again today.

The MTSA is an outgrowth of both Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations from the first decade of this century.

It seeks to densify urban areas in Southern Ontario that satisfy or seek to satisfy the intermodal transit needs of citizens.

It has been known for quite a few years that the downtown Bus Terminal does not qualify even as an Anchor Mobility Hub, and the Dillon report finally acknowledges this clearly. I want to thank them for their honesty on this issue. I only wish that Planning staff had not chosen to disregard this acknowledgement and continue to plan as if the downtown is truly a Major Transit Station Area.

Repeatedly saying something that is untrue does not make it true and it certainly doesn’t help our case at the Local Planning Area Tribunal (LPAT) hearings.

The downtown MTSA, the Anchor Mobility Hub, and the Urban Growth Centre are the three cornerstones that legitimize the over-intensification of our downtown, notwithstanding that Burlington will reach its intensification targets before 2031 without their further help. They’ve already done enough damage. I want to offer some contextual comments before I return to the subject at hand, and request that you’ll let me do so. On November 13, 2017, I came before Council and referred to a recent Ryerson University report that worried about the average Toronto condo height increasing from 15 storeys to 21 storeys at that time. The authors were concerned about parking for residents and visitors, the increasing scarcity of parks nearby and the livability factors of these condo groupings. Were they indeed  communities at all?

I asked Council that night if they had the ethical and moral courage to stop their quest to legitimize the Anchor Mobility Hub in the Official Plan and instead make it an election issue in 2018. I also asked that they not grant the developer the right to build a 23 storey high rise at 421 Brant Street, across the road from City Hall.

421 Brant

Scobie on the decision to allow this 24 story structure: If you allow an OP with these designations, you will fail to save the downtown and that will be your legacy,

If they failed to accede to my request and the requests of others, I said the future of high rise buildings along Brant Street would be set that night. November 13, 2017 would go down in our history as the day our Council gave its blessing to a future building spree along Brant Street and its environs to the lake never seen before.

Of course that last Council did not listen to me nor other engaged citizens and the die was cast. Their legacy was set as the Council that abdicated responsibility for future downtown redevelopment.

We’ve continued to follow that path through OMB and LPAT decisions on approving high rises since then. But downtown over-intensification did indeed become an election issue and the majority of this new Council did actively campaign to stop it and can thank that issue in large measure as the reason why you were elected. And it was clear what citizens then wanted you to do.

Today or Thursday or at the January 30th Council meeting, the fate of the downtown is going to be decided by this Council and I am apprehensive to say the least. I view this report and the one on the recommended downtown development concept coming on Thursday as key drivers of the stake through the heart of the downtown. If the recommendations are allowed to stand and they lead to amendments to the OP within the designation mandates of the Urban Growth Centre, Anchor Mobility Hub and Major Transit Station Area, then I believe that the downtown’s fate is sealed as no longer a pedestrian-oriented place of retail, commerce and government but as a sterile, shadowed, windswept, unfriendly place of imposing podiums and high rises of steel, glass and concrete. I see only a few buildings left harkening to our past, like City Hall, Smith’s Funeral Home and the Queen’s Head Pub.

I know there is to be a follow-up study on the merits of the three land-use designations I’ve mentioned. But it will be too late if the OP is already amended as above. If you then intend to re-amend it without the three imbedded designations, the time it will take to remove them with permission from the Region and Province and come up with replacement intensity limits of our own making is simply not available in the five weeks before the March 5th ICBL end. Even if you can do this, it will result in a re-amended OP that I believe will be treated with disdain at every LPAT hearing to come and will be appealed over and over again by developers as unprofessional, poorly executed and manipulative.

Tough words, and I feel bad using them. I campaigned hard in 2018 and supported a number of you in the election, believing that we could save the downtown. But there is only one way – removal of all of the designations, not conformity to them. By investing all of the time, expense and effort in conforming, and none on the removal, we have squandered precious time and resources. It’s not just that we’ve fiddled while the downtown burned; we’ve created a complete orchestral composition that no citizen wants to listen to.

And remember, this composition is being directed for Planning staff by our new Council. You are on the hook for the results.

I’m asking you to put this composition on the back shelf where it belongs. I’m asking you to instead create a new composition without the three designations for the downtown that gives us back control of the downtown’s re-development future, with our own vision of reasonable height and retention of and respect for much of what we value.

Keep the recommendations for the GO Station Mobility Hub intensification that make sense and update the Official Plan once and done with those and with new wordings for the downtown of your own making. Answer only to citizens who elected you to save the downtown from a complete transformation, not to provincial bureaucrats in Toronto who make sweeping generalizations and rules for every city as if they are all the same. Nor to the Local Planning Area Tribunal, nor to the developers. Stand up to keep Burlington’s downtown as one of the main reasons we continue to be judged an excellent city to live in and visit. Adding high rises and further congestion will not add to our score in these ratings. If you allow an OP with these designations, you will fail to save the downtown and that will be your legacy, so early in your term. I don’t want that and neither should you.

Scobie spoke with both eloquence and passion.  No one on council asked him a follow up question

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Aldershot resident 'fears the downtown as we know it is already lost to over development.'

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young

January 10th, 2020


Jim Young is going to be out of town on January 14th & 16th and unable to delegate when the City’s Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee meet to discuss the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) and the Scoped Review of the 2018 Official Plan (OP). Here is what he would have loved to say.

Considering the Dillon Report on the ICBL, The Official Plan  Review (downtown precincts only), the continuing backlog of intensification zoning amendment applications and the complete lack of progress on the Transportation and Mobility Master Plan, I have to conclude that the ICBL has achieved nothing for the people of Burlington.

The ICBL was intended to buy the city a one year pause on the land planning process which would allow them to correct the more egregious errors of the OP. Citizens were hopeful that their concerns with the OP would be addressed. Concerns that: downtown intensification and building heights were extreme, exceeded provincial guidelines and that there was no Transit Plan in place to address the increased traffic and congestion that over-intensification would bring.

The over-intensification was predicated on the precinct being designated an Urban Growth Centre (UGC) which in turn was based on the Region’s designation of the bus ticket office on John Street as a Major Transportation Station Area (MTSA).

The ICBL and the OP Review have failed to address these concerns in a way that means anything to the people of Burlington.

Even the Dillon Report suggests the John Street Bus Terminal is not on a priority Transit Corridor, not supportive of regional transit and does not function as a major bus depot. Yet, so long as that John St. MTSA designation stays in place, any changes to the OP are meaningless and the proposed scoped review of that OP bears this out. Planners have presented two downtown options which amount to unattractive “Short Squat” density on Brant St from Ghent to Lakeshore or Alternating Extremely High buildings along that same stretch, neither of which have won favour with council and certainly do not appeal to local residents.

In the meantime the ICBL has not stopped developers from submitting numerous amendment applications, it has only stalled these in the process. They are still awaiting planning consideration while the ICBL is in effect. So even the hoped for “slowdown effect” has not been achieved. This will eventually allow developers to bypass the process by appealing to LPAT (Land Planning Appeals Tribunal) when planners are too overloaded to respond in time.

This will be aggravated by changes at LPAT, shortening the city’s response time from 210 to 90 days (120 for OP Amendments). Now even more failure to respond appeals will go to LPAT. Wins for developers will increase due to the fact they can now claim “compatibility” with the already approved/appealed hi-rises on Brant, Lakeshore and Martha Streets and the fact that city planners plan to “average” precinct density targets while developers and LPAT review applications on a case by case basis.

Burlington GO south side

The Burlington GO station is clearly a point where different forms of traffic can flow in and flow out.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

Report suggests the John Street Bus Terminal is not on a priority Transit Corridor


The end result will be a severely over-intensified downtown without a transit plan in place to move the additional people around or to the real MTSA at Fairview GO. While a dedicated few will cycle or walk from downtown to the GO station, it was always more likely that commuters already committed to transit into Toronto would take a bus to the GO. If the bus is there! Yet all the talk of “Integrated Transportation and Mobility” are centered on cycling, walkability and active mobility modes, ignoring the most efficient way to move people in an over-intensified and congested downtown: Improved Public Transit.

Sometimes it feels like downtown mobility concepts seek health outcomes more than serious transit solutions.

The year of grace granted by the ICBL would have been better served by planners creating the transit plan that would have connected the city’s Urban Growth Centres to its GO stations, eliminating the need for a downtown mobility hub, working instead with the Region to remove that downtown MTSA designation. The Dillon Report clearly points out that this is a regional responsibility, “………The Province directs that upper-tier municipalities such as the Region of Halton are responsible for evaluating the major transit station areas within the region, delineating the boundaries of each major transit station area ……….”.

Telier + MacDonald

Heather MacDonald with Planner Jamie Tellier at a council meeting.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility suggests this was clearly the original intention of the City’s ICB: …. “The recommendation to implement an ICBL ……………. will come back to City Council on Jan. 14 with proposed amendments ……………. that will make it possible for new development in the identified study area to be better informed by the City’s transit, transportation and land use vision……” I ask again, as many did in 2017/2018: Where is The Transit Plan on which all this intensification is based?

City advocacy groups; Engaged Citizens of Burlington, We Love Burlington and Waterfront Plan B are disappointed (see Open Letter, Gazette January 6) that after so much citizen outreach, feedback and supposed input so little attention has been paid to their voices.

Jim Young 2Personally, I fear the downtown as we know it is already lost to over development. My only hope is that maybe now, finally, the city is coming to realize that that the voices of city residents must be heard. Because so far they have not.

Perhaps city engagement efforts should involve a little less reaching out, and a little more listening in.

Jim Young is an Aldershot resident who was part of the group that formed ECoB.  He delegates at city council frequently.

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Ward Councillor has to deal with numerous views on complex issues and then try to please everyone.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 8th, 2020



There is often a high degree of tension between a ward Councillor and those who are both active and passionate about their community.

With almost every ward having a new council member there is bound to be some friction between the residents who were close to abused by the previous council and the new council member who is still learning the ropes.

National development Plains Rd Bingo hall

Greg Woodruff said he thinks the public input was sadly lacking on the 92 Plains Road development application – Ward Councillor doesn’t see it quite that way.

Last week Greg Woodruff, a former candidate for the Regional Chair and for the office of Mayor in 2018, wrote an opinion piece in which he set out his concerns with the practice some developers have gotten into the practice of taking their applications to LPAT as fast as they can. His Opinion piece is linked at the bottom of this piece.

Kelvin Galbraith responded to several questions the Gazette put to him with the following:  “As is the case with the 92 Plains Road site and other similar developments that have gone to LPAT, the public consultation and input has been used to form the final application that is being considered by staff and LPAT.

“The fact that some of the public’s input was not considered is usually because of a difference of opinion or that the planning rational by our professional planning staff could not support the request. Should the public have new information to form opposition to the development, they would have the opportunity to become a participant in the LPAT hearing.

Galbraith at King Paving

Kelven Galbraith had a solid handle on what the people of Aldershot were looking for – they don’t all agree with each other which puts him in an awkward spot from time to time,.

“At a settlement hearing, staff are not there to defend residents or participants. Planning staff have contributed to the settlement agreement and by this time it has been also endorsed by council so opposing the settlement at this stage would not make sense.”
Galbraith adds that: “There is a new pre-application process that adds another layer of public engagement when it comes to development applications. I would argue that this improves public input opportunities and assists with the tight timelines that we are now facing and hopefully prevents more applications from being appealed for lack of decision before the deadline.

“At some point in a development application a decision needs to be made. There will always be some opposition but we need to make decisions as staff and council that are best for the community. Much work and expense of the taxpayer are afforded to files that go the LPAT route. Negotiating a settlement as opposed to taking our chances with an adjudicator, allows our staff to offer their professional planning rational and come to some conclusion of the file and not prolong further expense. “

Galbraith points out that he is “not sure how the old council worked but I can say that I have offered a fresh set of eyes on every situation that I have encountered. Development is going to occur and Aldershot is seeing lots of interest and activity surrounding the Go station and Plains road. Many that I speak to in the community do not want empty lots, strip clubs and motels that currently hinder the success of our main street. I feel we are in an awkward period of transition between our old highway and a new urban strip of vibrancy with successful businesses and people living close to the amenities.”

Related Opinion piece
Woodruff on LPAT hearings: they are a total fraud.

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Community engagement on Aldershot development is currently a total fraud.

opinionred 100x100By Greg Woodruff

January 6th, 2020



That headline is a strong statement but the 92 Plains Rd development is a case in point:

Planning department Staff did not come back to Council with a recommendation on the development application which gave the developer Chelten Developments Inc. an automatic Local Planning Act Tribunal hearing.

Tom Muir, also an Aldershot resident, has raised the issue of the Planning department repeatedly letting this happen: no accountability ever occurs. The current council has done nothing to address this issue. I’ve asked several times if Staff are attending LPAT hearings and if residents can get a heads up on what they are going to present. They don’t respond.

Currently, residents have no idea what the staff might present until the development application has already been settled and heading to LPAT. Council has done nothing on this practice.

National development Plains Rd Bingo hall

The development was originally for four stories of housing – the application was revised to six.

In the 92 Plains case, Tom Muir was able to get participant status at the hearing with a couple of other residents. Muir submitted several well-reasoned arguments as to process and development compatibility. He was doing the job Staff should have been doing. Some Planning Staff did attended the hearing but said nothing at that time.

Staff, who are paid by the residents through their taxes, should be on the side of truth or basic reality and represent the interests of the residents, assuming this is the will of council.

Because of the structure and process used by LPAT only people with accepted professional designations can give testimony. Staff have those designations. The developers have planners with the required designations. Staff chooses to be mute so the developer’s “land use planner” is then the only “planner” presenting evidence.

Muir, who consistently provides reams of evidence, which gets put into the file but is never heard at the hearing, because he is not a “land use planner”. If Burlington staff said the exact same words it would be “testimony” and the tribunal would have to take these points into consideration. However, since they don’t, the developer’s testimony is “uncontested”. The LPAT makes their decision based on what they hear and because there was evidence and testimony from just the one land use planner the LPAT Commissioner has to side with the evidence presented by the developer’s representative.

An LPAT decision made without any input from residents or council becomes just an elaborate farce.

It’s hard to tell if the LPAT system works or not; the negligence on the city’s part is staggering. Not only do they bungle the application by letting it go to LPAT because there was no decision within the required time frame. City staff doesn’t even say anything at the LPAT hearing. They could defend the settlement by backing up participants when the developer’s land use planner makes misleading statements.

92 Plains Go distance

Woodruff: This requirement was to take a point in the far end of the go station parking lot, not the entrance which is 600 m away.

That staff offers nothing at LPAT matters immensely because there is no evaluation of anything. The developer can just say anything true or not, real or not. For example, the developer said the development was within 500 m of the GO station. This requires them to take a point in the far end of the go station parking lot, not the entrance which is 600 m away. Would this have made any difference?

No one knows because the staff presented nothing. What residents present doesn’t matter. This because we are not “land-use planners” and cannot afford one.

Now we can get into an interesting discussion. Is the the city just insanely incompetent or is it deliberately “throwing the game”. The take-home point is “engagement” or “consultation” has nothing to do with what gets built. You either get planning staff to defend residents or we don’t have any say on development at all.

I have seen nothing that leads me to believe staff is doing anything differently than they were doing in the last administration. Nor, have I seen anything from the current council that directs staff to behave differently. Thus we are currently getting what we were getting from the old council.

That the LPAT system certainly sucks does not let the council off the hook. They don’t appear to be even trying to work the system. If the city was doing all that could be reasonably expected to give at least lip service to will of residents. However, the current new council is just working the will of the old council.

Putting the development in context.  Content taken from the developers application:

In 2008 the City of Burlington released its “Intensification Study” which intended to provide preliminary residential and employment intensification estimates to 2031 in support of the Sustainable Halton Plan. Within the study, Plains Road is identified as an “Urban Growth Corridor”

Staff outlined that there was potential for approximately 3,750 dwelling units and 7,500 residents along these particular growth corridors. The available GO Stations were an important component of the corridors, and these areas were identified as being suitable for higher intensity development. These figures were based on an estimate that indicated that future developments or redevelopments would be made up of 60% residential, 30% mixed use, and 10% retail/service commercial.

The owner has proposed to redevelop the subject site for a six storey, 49 unit apartment building with ground floor office/commercial uses.

The proposed building will front onto and have pedestrian access to the pedestrian network on Plains Road East. Vehicular access to the subject site and development will be maintained along Plains Road East.

The proposal will also be accessible via a mixture of public transit modes; the Aldershot GO Station is located within 500 m of the proposal (walking distance). Burlington Transit route 1(1x) provides east and west services along Plains Road, and is accessible just west of Birchwood Avenue, and immediately north of the subject lands on the north side of Plains Road East.


Greg Woodruff taking part in a Mayoralty debate broadcast by TVOntario


Take home points:
1) We need Council to change direction and insist that Staff defend the plans Council passes.
2) Tom Muir has basically done the work the planning department should have done.
3) Presently unelected LPAT Commissioner and developer consultants are deciding if we get to keep trees, stores, grass and sunlight in our community.

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who works as a web site developer. He ran for the Regional Chair in 2010 and for Mayor of Burlington in 2018.

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