Local newspaper gets attention it didn't want; parent company sends out a survey asking people where they get their news.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 25th, 2019



Well, local newspapers are making the news.

An avid Gazette reader popped us a note about a survey she was sent by the Toronto Star asking about how and where she got her local news.

The Burlington Post is owned by MetroMedia a subsidiary of the Toronto Star.

The Post got its name in the paper earlier in the week when the Mayor hammered them for getting a story totally wrong. The reporter who wrote the piece was sitting in council chambers at the time. Ouch!

Here is what the survey looked like.

star survey

The reader who sent the survey to us had this to say about the Post: Unfortunately the Burlington Post no longer has any purpose other than holding advertising flyers. Long ago they abandoned any sort of credible reporting and won’t ever say anything remotely controversial, seem to be a place for our elected officials to get free advertising, and they don’t allow or print contrary opinions, or even anything newsworthy. When they covered the 2018 municipal election debate and failed to mention that our current mayor at the time was roundly booed by the audience, we knew they were not a credible news source. I’m glad we have the Burlington Gazette online.

The Post at one time was published three times a week- then cut back to twice a week and now it is on the streets just once a week.  When it was published twice a week the price was $1. When the dropped to twice a week – the price went up to $2.

Everyone has their favourite newspaper. The Globe and Mail plus the Sunday New York Times work for me.

Cities the size of Burlington rely on local newspapers to tell the local story. The Gazette has been doing this for nine years – and despite a myriad of legal problems with the city we expect to be here for some time to come.

We don’t always get it right and we have been brought before the association we belong to and told to do a better job. The results of those decisions are public.

The saving grace was that the Mayor didn’t whack us in public.

There was a point where former Mayor Rick Goldring thought we were the best thing since sliced bread and had nice things to say about us. Check the video.

Foot 4

Those are porcupine quills in his snout – wasn’t a happy puppy for the day.

There was a time when there was a full sized broadsheet newspaper in Burlington.  It was folded and made part of the Spectator.

One of my bigger jobs is to think in terms of monetizing the paper and then looking for people who can do some of the day to day work.

I’d like to spend more time at home taking care of the lady in my life and trying to teach the dog to keep away from the porcupines. He’s cute but not very bright – this is the second time he got his snout full of porcupine quills.

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 Prime Minister: 'That’ll Teach Him for Browning Around'


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 20th, 2019



After the release of an old photo showing our prime minister dressed up for an Arabian Nights gala at the high school where he taught classes back then, there is only one question on everyone’s mind. Who is the real Justin Trudeau? Is he, indeed, the son of our most celebrated PM, Pierre, or is Justin really Aladdin? Not to start any rumours, but how many of us really knew what went on during those days of Trudeau-mania?

If so why didn’t he use his magic carpet to fly off to chum with his daddy’s old buddy, the Aga Khan, instead of relying on Mr. Khan’s hospitality, and thereby ticking off the ethics commissioner? And when it came to governance, why didn’t he just use his magic lamp on Jodi and Jane – to wish them away instead of suffering through that messy Justice Committee hearing business?

Trudeay blackface

It did happen; he did apologize: now let’s see how he bears up during the rest of the campaign.

But seriously, in today’s world, it doesn’t matter why you do, or did what you did, it only matters that you did it. And historical mistakes are still mistakes. Political parties vet candidates for office; investigating what they had done in their past which might damage them and hurt their chances in the voters’ eyes.

Someone with a criminal record, for example, would likely be rejected by most parties, notwithstanding that they’ve already paid the price of their crime to society. Wearing blackface is not a criminal offence and it may not have been intended to mock or insult. But it is still considered incorrect, since its origins are based on racism.

At one time black performers were excluded from performing before non-black crowds. So white performers emulated them, quite often making them an object of ridicule for entertainment. It wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan and it may have been an America a generation or two ago, but the hurt still continues.

Political correctness is important in politics, almost regardless that the intention may not be to mock, hurt or offend. One needs to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

Mr. Trudeau as PM has been a strong advocate of human and civil rights. And that is perhaps why the revelations of these skeletons from his past, innocent as they may have seemed at the time, are still hurtful, indeed shocking to all of us. And it’s true that he set himself up for the repercussions of this latest outcry – the bigger you are the harder you fall.

Mr. Trudeau recently pulled a candidate’s nomination for comments he made which were considered anti-Semitic. He has attacked Mr. Scheer for his party’s links to apparent white supremacists. He has suggested he might intervene in the Quebec law which bans wearing cultural paraphernalia in the broader public service. And he has attacked Maxine Bernier for his position on immigration as racially motivated.

The revelations of at least three situations in his own distant past, where he wore dark makeup in performances, are shocking for a man with that kind of profile and record. He has fallen off his high horse, tumbled off the pedestal upon which he had lifted himself.

Trudeau -facing the music

Trudeau -facing the music

But he has apologized for his past actions and asked/begged, forgiveness from the Canadian people. He admits that what he did was racist, though he wasn’t aware of its significance when he did it. The media interviewed people on the street and the reaction was fairly muted. Twenty years is a long time ago after all, and who doesn’t have something in their closet that they’d rather not let out?

But Trudeau’s political opponents are making political hay – and that is all fair in the game we’re in, barely a month from the election. We have come to expect a lot of our prime ministers, not only how they run our government but also who they really are. Does the public really believe that their PM is a racist? After all, wasn’t it his father who gave us multiculturalism in the first place?


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:

Brown Face in Vancouver –   Origins of Blackface

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Rivers on the first federal election debate: the winner was the guy who wasn't in the room.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 13th, 2019



It was an impressive demonstration of candidates expressing themselves in clear unequivocal terms on the broad range of issues before the public. At least one of the candidates was so eloquent, and spoke with such passion from the heart, it seemed as if it had been beautifully scripted in advance.

That was the debate for candidates wanting to become the next US Democratic president. The CTV/MacLeans Canadian leader’s debate, that same evening, was something else. The consensus of the pundits was that the winner was the only major leader who wasn’t there, Justin Trudeau. He was at an election campaign event in Edmonton, at a riding he is hoping to take away from the NDP incumbent.

Denaters Sept 13-19

Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh debate the issues without Prime Minister Trudeau.

It might have been the antiseptic-white hospital setting or the way in which the studio lights con-tinuously featured in the images. And Paul Wells, who moderated, really should stick to his day job as a columnist for MacLeans. Ill at ease in that forum he fumbled with the questions and failed to control the debate as candidates drifted off topic and squabbled among themselves. Then there was the empty podium, which the organizers obviously thought cute, but just stood out like a sore thumb making their event look even more awkward.

The candidates, and Scheer in particular, used the venue to attack the absent PM. But if that was his objective it rang pretty hollow, as he himself came under criticism for falling back on discredited Harper era positions. Still, unsurprisingly all three leaders used the opportunity to gang up on Trudeau when the issue of SNC prosecution came up.

The Globe and Mail is at it again, reporting that former Attorney General, Jodi Wilson-Raybould, now running as an independent, had been interviewed again by the RCMP. Clearly Scheer, raising this matter, was hoping to make it Trudeau’s Hillary Clinton moment? An eleventh hour FBI investigation into Clinton’s personal email account cast sufficient doubt among Democratic voters that they allowed Trump to slip ahead and win the election.

Perhaps because expectations of his performance were low, Jagmeet Singh appeared to do reasonably well. His comments typically cited personal anecdotes of mothers with children in their arms or at their feet fretting over the high costs of prescriptions and the perils of climate change. Or he just fell into making broad generalities about policies, raising the question of his actual knowledge of those issues. But mostly he just resorted to the time-honoured and tiresome language of class struggles – the rich versus the poor.

Elizabeth May just failed to impress, especially as there is such expectation of her soaring to replace the NDP as Canada’s third party. She rode the middle ground in some cases, as for example in holding the line on expanding Canada’s universal health care system. And yet she went extreme in others, such as claiming she’d end the major B.C. LNG export project. She often seemed to be riding the fence between agreeing on many issues with both Scheer or Trudeau, perhaps hoping to draw votes from one and the other.

May kept referencing the danger of exceeding an increase of 1.5 C in global temperature, as if it were something Canada could do on its own. She also harped on about setting tougher targets as if that alone would achieve results.

An interesting exchange occurred when Andrew Scheer picked up on her promise to achieve zero carbon emissions for all households in Canada. Scheer has promised to restart the former Chretien home efficiency program that his party had cancelled shortly after gaining power back in 2006.

While Trudeau was somewhere else, it almost seemed that Scheer would have liked to join him. Ill at ease, he stood between the other two leaders like a block of wood, never breaking a smile. Speaking without passion and in generalities that rivaled the other two leaders, it was hard to imagine him as prime ministerial.

He boasted that he has the best climate action plan, but provided only aspirational detail as to how it would achieve that goal. Scheer’s climate plan has been panned by even the Globe and Mail and attacked by economists as leading to increased rather than reduced emissions. And his constant reference to expansion of resource industries, echoed back to Stephen Harper’s fixation on oil and gas exports and his disregard for the environment.

Though Scheer at one point had indicated he would not be eliminating the federal deficit, he has apparently had a change of heart as he is now promising to do so over an election cycle. Still his promises to balance the budget, cut taxes and continue health and other spending priorities sounds a lot like the impossible dream – the one Doug Ford had also promised in Ontario’s last election.

And Scheer has to be skating on thin ice, virtually accusing Trudeau of illegality in the SNC caper, when even the former attorney general said that was not the case. It is all too reminiscent of Mr. Ford accusing former premier Wynne of corruption. If Mr. Scheer really wanted to distance himself from the troubled Ontario premier he could start by changing the channel on that kind of language which smacks of desperation.

All things considered, this debate was a useful exercise in that it provided a venue for the opposition parties to expose their platforms and address what they would do differently were they to win the top honours. That would have been instructive for the viewers had there been more focus on platform detail. And it would have been useful to see exactly how the Greens and NDP differ as they struggle for 3rd place in Canadian politics.

Federal debate Sept 13 No Liberal

Jagmeet Singh, a,no show Liberal leader, Andrew Scheer and Elizabeth May.

The Liberals are now in power and despite any promises they make during the campaign will and should be running largely on their record. So Mr. Trudeau’s absence in this side-debate is less critical from that perspective. He will come before the public in the official election commission debate in early October, in addition to a special Quebec TV debate.

The Bloc Quebecois is a Quebec-only party, but Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party is national,
with candidates slated for all ridings in the country. Given that Mr. Trudeau had indicated well in advance that he would be a no-show, it is curious why Mr. Bernier wasn’t invited to fill the empty podium, or even why he wasn’t invited in the first place. It would have been instructive for prospective voters to see what Mr. Bernier, who came within a whisper of becoming Conservative leader would do were he to become PM.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

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Jim Young on alternatives to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young

September 12th, 2019



Burlington City Council wants to eliminate LPAT (Local Planning Appeals Tribunals), formerly the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board). This matters because in Ontario, appeals to the LPAT/OMB undermine the ability of municipalities to reconcile growth targets with resident wishes. Appeals also cost municipalities, the province and developers massive amounts of money every year in delays and legal costs.

First, some history of LPAT/OMB and “As of Right Zoning”, the concept that governs land use planning in most Canadian cities.

The OMB was created in 1906 as the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board to expropriate land for the expansion of Ontario’s rail network. Renamed the OMB in 1936, it was revised again in 2009/10 as part of Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario. Given its genesis in land expropriation, it is little surprise it was perceived as a developer friendly body where builders could have unfavourable municipal planning decisions overturned.

Formed in 2018 to redress perceived OMB bias, LPAT was, supposedly, a more resident friendly land use appeals body. However, with the same provincial adjudicators and planning act rules, there was nothing “local” in Local Planning Appeals Tribunals.

In 2019, with little case history or jurisprudence, LPAT was drastically revised under Ontario’s More Homes More Choice Act (Bill 108), reviving the old OMB disguised under the friendlier sounding LPAT name.

It is worth noting that no other province or territory in Canada has a similar body adjudicating municipal land use planning or developer/resident disputes. Land use planning in most Canadian and North American municipalities is regulated and operates under a planning concept known as: “As-Of-Right Zoning.”

Prior the introduction of zoning in the 1920s, land-use regulation was hit or miss, planning occurred on a case by case basis. Some areas had use, height and density limits, others didn’t. Rules differed from area to area with no cohesive plan clarifying what could or could not be built. Decisions were subject to suspicion of corruption and influence by developers. Residents never knew what might be built next door to them in the future.

To resolve these conflicts a new concept for regulating urban land use was developed: “As-of-Right Zoning”. Municipalities were delineated as zones, subject to appropriate use and density rules as laid out in a city’s official plan. If developers stayed inside the zoning rules within that plan, they could build without further regulatory interference “as-of-right”. This provided certainty about what could be built and where. Developers avoided delays, unforeseen bylaws or messy public hearings which all added to the cost of housing. For residents, it meant no surprise strip clubs or bingo parlours next door.

Meanwhile in Ontario, the ability to appeal municipal land use plans and win at LPAT/OMB tribunals meant the final say on planning and zoning amendments remained firmly with developers. It forced municipalities to return to ad-hoc, project by project land use planning with all the concurrent legal costs and the knock on effect on housing affordability. It is understandable that municipalities, who shoulder responsibility for land use planning and have a better finger on the community pulse, resent the intrusion of LPAT/OMB and would like it rescinded, especially given the greater powers granted in Bill 108.

Critics worry that in the absence of an LPAT/OMB appeals process, who will adjudicate what constitutes reasonable development as opposed to NIMBYism from local residents? Won’t rescinding LPAT/OMB leave all parties without a means of conflict resolution? I suggest not necessarily.

Burlington already has three citizen advisory committees providing advice on land use planning. The Committee of Adjustment; appointed by Council considers applications for minor bylaw variances, land divisions and small project planning permissions.

Burlington’s Urban Development Advisory, a group of local planning, architectural, engineering professionals, provides impartial guidance to city and developers’ planning staffs on contentious land use and zoning bylaw amendments. The Sustainable Development Advisory advises council and developers on the economic costs and benefits of sustainability in land use and building designs.

If the province is serious about reducing costs and, given Burlington’s commitment to reasonable growth and density, might we adjudicate land use planning conflicts via a combination of these existing committees?

If we increase developer and citizen participation on them we could create an effective and truly local planning reconciliation system to address the legitimate concerns of all parties.

Replacing LPAT in this manner would avoid duplication, eliminate delays (often years), reduce legal costs for developers, municipalities and the province while improving housing affordability and keeping taxes down. All worthwhile planning objectives.

Jim Young 2Jim Young is a frequent opinion writer for the Gazette. He has delivered some of the finest delegations to city council – seldom acted upon but important nevertheless for they are then on the record. Search the Gazette under Jim Young

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Foxcroft the subject of a TiCat video - Oskee Wee Wee

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2019



They all love him – and with much reason.

Foxcroft chasing ball

Ron Foxcroft on his private basketball court.

Ron Foxcroft has done much for Burlington and Hamilton.

He was made a Member of the Order of Canada last week and everyone wants him to know that they are pleased as punch.

Foxcroft is wearing a smile a mile wide – and asking the Tiger Cats who put together the video below not to blow the Grey Cup game that should bring the cup to the city.

The video: Quite funny in places.

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By law officers are reported to be tearing out naturalized gardens they once said were in compliance.

News 100 greenBy Doreen Nicoll

September 9th,2019


Part 1 of a 2 part story.

August 15th, I published an article about Antheia, a long-time homeowner in Burlington who has been maintaining a naturalized area in her front yard since 2015. The City of Burlington has repeatedly told Antheia she is in violation of City by-laws despite the by-laws allowing for naturalized areas. According to Antheia, “Every year they mischaracterize my naturalized area as a lawn and demand that I cut everything down to less than 8 inches/20 centimetres or they will come and do it themselves and charge me.”

After discussions with the by-Law supervisor in July 2019, Antheia was assured her property was being maintained as a naturalized area and was in fact in compliance. One month later, after allegedly receiving many complaints from neighbours, the City sent Antheia a letter demanding she cut everything – all the same plants that were in her yard when the City deemed it in compliance – to less than 8 inches/20 centimetres. She had until August 20th to comply.

On August 16th while Antheia was exploring options to save her plants, the City cut six feet of her naturalized garden to less than an inch/2.5 cm in height. No plants were spared and the devastated milkweed were carted away to be composted undoubtably with Monarch eggs or caterpillars clinging to leaves and stalks.

August 18th, I published the story of Paul Raun and his garden. Three-quarters of Raun’s front yard has been naturalized and is home to over 23 kinds of wildflowers, 12 types of shrubs and vines, three varieties of wild grasses, a sycamore and a redbud tree.

GARDEN Paul Raun

Paul Raun’s garden. Has been told it is in compliance – worried that it will be torn up nevertheless.

Raun purchased his wildflowers from reputable, and qualified, nurseries who specialise in indigenous plants. But, on August 14th, Raun received notice that he was in violation of By-Law 59-2018 which states grass and ground cover must be cut to a height less than eight inches or 20 cm. He had seven days to comply.

Raun made many attempts to speak with the by-law officer, but finally heard from her the day after the article went online. Arrangements were made for two by-law officers to attend Raun’s garden on August 21st to confirm which plants constituted weeds under the by-law.

After learning about what happened to Antheia’s garden Raun took two days off work to keep an eye on his plants.

Not surprisingly, not one of Raun’s plants was considered a weed.

The by-law officers did voice concerns over a vine growing along the side of the yard and some cypress trees growing along the property line. Both the vine and the cypress trees belonged to Paul’s neighbour. No action was taken regarding these two violations.

In his backyard, Raun was asked to move rose bush and tree trimmings further away from his house and to cover them with soil. He complied with this request. According to Raun, “With respect to the wood pile, it consists of branches from a dead rose bush that had grown along the side of our back deck as well as low-hanging branches that I trimmed off a redbud tree. The by-law officer suggested that I bury it just in case a neighbour complained about it.”

Raun says, “With respect to the discrepancy between the original order and the subsequent positive evaluation that by-law officers Ibrahim and Natalie gave our native plants garden, it may have had to do with Natalie’s lack of knowledge about plants.”
“With respect to the need for a more detailed bylaw related to naturalised gardens, it is crucial to spell out the grounds on which one could have a wood pile consisting of cut branches and how far away it would have to be away from neighbouring dwellings, in addressing the issue of harbouring creatures at odds with the interior of one’s dwelling.”

Raun also believes, “With further respect, the rule for a two-feet buffer along property boundaries needs refining to consider a variety of potential scenarios. The officers raised no complaint about the wild grapevine growing along our southern fence along with wildflowers and wild prairie grasses spreading right up to it without a two-foot buffer. Why is it acceptable to have a fence running along a property line but not a row of shrubs to which any wild-flowers or tall grasses can run up, albeit kept a tiny bit back?”

Both these situations, and many more across the city, are prime examples of the current by-law being used by neighbours to harass and bully individuals embracing ecological landscaping into complying with the untenable and unsustainable grass monoculture sprinkled with a few continuously flowering hybrid mainstays that still permeates the conservative, eco-unfriendly city of Burlington, Ontario.

Doreen Nicol - Raise the HammerDoreen Nicoll is a Burlington resident who is, if anything, outspoken.  She is a feminist, an environmentalist, a free lance writer, teacher and social activist  and member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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Mayor unable to find a restaurant in Burlington to treat her brother to oysters on the half shell.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2019



It takes a certain kind of person to run for public office. And should they get elected it takes a certain kind of person to succeed at the job.

That job isn’t about them – it is about the people they serve.

In clerical circles – priests and minister, pastors and rabbis use the phrase: a calling; they feel called to do the work they do.

We seldom see that kind of language in political circles. Politics is about power.

That power belongs to the voters who give it to the people they elect who they trust to serve the public’s interests.

The public looks for wisdom and good judgement.

It was surprising then to see a photograph of Her Worship Mayor Meed Ward sharing oysters on the half shell with her brother, who happened to be in town, at what looked like a very swishy restaurant near the water – sailboats in the background.
Family is said to be everything – unless of course it is totally dysfunctional – but I digress.

MMW with brother - Oakville

Oysters on the half shell – a favourite Meed Ward delicacy shared with her brother at an Oakville restaurant.

Some might ask – especially those in the hospitality business – why the Mayor didn’t take her brother to a Burlington restaurant. Spencers is the equivalent to anything Oakville has. Others have the same ranking.

Many of the people who run restaurants supported the Mayor in her bid to become Mayor. This must be just a little galling.

We are not arguing that the Mayor should only ever be seen in a restaurant in Burlington. What we do want to suggest is that when she publishes pictures of herself on her Facebook page – it would be politically smart to make sure that the background is a Burlington skyline. They don’t call these things photo ops for nothing.

Council will be in full bloom next week; thick agendas will sit in front of them and some serious recommendations will get passed on to city council later in the month. No word yet on who the Mayor is bringing into her office to replace the staff member who decided she liked greener, more digestible grass.

The Mayor pinched the assistant to the ward 4 Councillor who now has to rely on the other assistants for the support she needs.

Word is that it could be as much as a month before the staff problem is resolved. Is Mayor Meed Ward running into the same problem Mayor Goldring had – not being able to find good people she can work with to carry out one of the toughest jobs in the city.

The staff member she pinched is as good as they get – Meed Ward should have kept her when she was he assistant as a Council member.

The job calls for wisdom and judgement – which seems to be missing at the moment.

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: A carbon tax is the only tool governments have to reduce the amount of carbon in the environment.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 4th, 2019



Canada’s19th prime minister, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, has always told it as she sees it. Who else, during the ’93 election, would have promised her electors continued high unemployment and deficits when they would have preferred prosperity and fiscal discipline. Or who else would be reported as saying, in a nutshell, that an election is no time to discuss important issues.


Kim Campbell was rooting for Hurricane Dorion to make a direct hit on Mar a Largo, Trump’s Florida golf course and estate.

She was understandably disgusted after US President Trump extended his war on planet earth by rolling back some 80 plus Obama era regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). So she tweeted that she was rooting for Hurricane Dorion to make a direct hit on Mar a Largo, Trump’s Florida golf course and estate. Of course, she immediately retracted and apologized, as persons of some significance are expected to do.

But she had only said what so many people who care about the future of this planet were thinking. Bring on retributive justice for one of the two global political leaders most bent on depriving future generations of the planet we know and love. And every person who cares about what is happening to our climate should feel her anger.

The latest roll back concerns fugitive methane emissions. Methane, identified commercially as natural gas, is a greenhouse pollutant which is more than 25 times as potent as CO2. And here even the industry is ahead of Trump, as BP, for one, has criticized this roll back as damaging to the reputation of an industry trying to show how ‘clean’ it can be. The amount of leakage in the production and use of natural gas is frightening. But leaving industry to govern itself has worked out about as well as asking the fox to manage the hen house.

Trump has championed coal, erroneously calling it clean since it still accounts for two thirds of America’s electrical utility GHG emissions. But he is losing that campaign regardless, as the industry is rapidly converting to gas and renewables, which are now far cheaper in addition to being cleaner. This is pretty much the same strategy the Ontario Liberals pioneered as they phased out coal and replaced it with renewables. And natural gas is there as a back up for peaking or when the wind doesn’t blow and sun doesn’t shine.

trucks on highway

If you drive the 400 series highway – any highway for that matter – you know the trucks rule the road.

Transportation accounts for almost a third of GHG emissions in America. And the USA is the second largest carbon emitter in the world, after China, so it is a critical issue. Trump’s roll back of Obama’s regulations for auto emissions is seriously wrong, and even the auto industry is opposed. Many auto companies are signing agreements with California and other states to continue making efficiency improvements.

Between 1999 and 2007 Canadian private vehicle emissions rose by 35%, almost twice the rate of population growth. Obama’s auto efficiency rules would have also applied to Canada and would have helped slow down emissions from the fossil fueled autos still selling like hot cakes – but even those new rules would not put a stop to GHG pollution.

It’s too little too late. The UN has suggested that there are only twelve years until a tipping point, a point of no return from dramatic change, is reached. So fine tuning the fuel economy for the gas engine is little more than the proverbial re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

Carbon tax - Canada France over 5 years.

France’s plight illustrates a conundrum: how do political leaders introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election? They raised the price of gas and the public rioted.

And a carbon tax at $20 or even $50 is not enough, on its own, to get people out of their gas guzzlers either. But the carbon tax and the federal electric vehicle (EV) rebate are the only tools in the transportation tool box, short of shutting down the roads and/or killing the economy. From comments to my column last week it was pretty clear that nobody wants road tolls, let alone shutting down the roads. So it’s got to be the carbon tax.

The Conservatives are the only major political party that is promising to cancel the carbon tax but is not offering an alternative policy for auto GHG emissions. They claim that the tax is hurting the poor folks. Which it clearly isn’t since 90 percent of the money is returned directly to tax payers as a credit on their income taxes. They get the tax credit even if they don’t have to pay any taxes.

So Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford and all the other conservative premiers are lying to us, by omission at the very least.

The poorest struggling or working class families are getting more back than they have to pay to fill their tanks and run their furnaces, on average.

In fact it is the wealthy that are affected most by the carbon tax. And as one can imagine the wealthiest 20% have more and fancier motor toys than those in the lower income classes. So the rich emit almost twice as much per capita as the lowest income Canadians. So exactly who are the ordinary folks that each of the political parties are aiming their pitches?

Kim Campbell H&S no blouse - robe

Kim Campbell was a Progressive Conservative who said what she thought.

Kim Campbell was a Progressive Conservative premier. But today’s Conservative party was taken over by the reform wing led by Stephen Harper and now Andrew Scheer. Campbell may not have been a social reformer, but as a member of Brian Mulroney’s cabinet she got to understand the environment. And so today’s Conservative party is not her party.

As a footnote on carbon taxes, we see Mr. Ford has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. He has already squandered an estimated $30 million dollars when any thinking person could have told him he’d lose the court challenge. Perhaps nobody in his cabinet was willing to tell the emperor the truth about his new clothes. So what’s a few more million.

And to bring his point home, somewhat as Joseph Stalin could be expected to do, Ford is forcing every gas station owner in the province to slather his carbon tax propaganda on their pumps, or face a whacking $10,000 per day fine. That does seem a bit drastic for a province which Ford barely a year ago proclaimed to be finally open for business.

Gas tax sticker

Ford is forcing every gas station owner in the province to post a carbon tax message on their pumps.

And the poster is misleading on at least three counts. First, the scale of the sticker may accurately represent the amount of the tax, but not the impact of a 4.4 cent tax on the total cost of a litre of gasoline – which is what really matters. Second the sticker makes no mention that the tax is revenue neutral and fully 90% comes back in their income taxes.

Finally if the gas pumps are to provide useful information to consumers, what could be more useful than helping them understand the full impact of the gasoline they are buying and using, rather than just the carbon tax on it.

Sweden has recently adopted a policy to do just that. Much as society has placed full disclosure information on cigarette packages, gas pumps need to inform users about the myriad of health issues associated with petroleum and how that impacts health care costs. And then there is climate change.

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:

Kim’s Mar-a-Lar –   Kim Campbe ll Bio –    Methane Regulations

Auto Rule Roll Back –   Canadian Auto Emissions –    Carbon Tax Fight

Warning Labels

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Cellphone Restriction in Classrooms to Take Effect this Year

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2019



The question that comes to mind is – what took so long?

Ontario’s Minister of Education announced plans to move forward with restricting the use of cellphones and other personal mobile devices in classrooms beginning November 4, 2019.

student on cell phoneThe restriction applies to instructional time at school, however, exceptions will be made if cellphones are required for health and medical purposes, to support special education needs, or for educational purposes as directed by an educator.

During the consultation on education reform in fall 2018, 97 per cent of parents, students and teachers who participated said that cellphone use should be restricted in some way.

In response to this feedback, the Provincial Code of Conduct has been updated to include this restriction. It sets clear standards of behaviour and requires that all school boards ensure their own codes of conduct are up to date and consistent with requirements.

“When in class, students should be focused on their studies, not their social media,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “That’s why we are restricting cellphones and other personal mobile devices in the classroom, while making sure technology is available to help students achieve success in the digital economy and modern workforce.”


To ensure that parents and guardians are clear on the new guidelines, including the exceptions, the following resources are available:

• Parents’ Guide to the Provincial Code of Conduct

• Cellphones and Other Personal Mobile Devices in Schools – Questions and Answers for Parents and Guardians.

In our travels as journalists we have, on far too many occasions, watched students chit chat with each other during a classroom presentation.

There are occasions when a cell phone is a useful tool and should be permitted in a classroom.

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Rivers: economist in him wants road tolls; he is looking for a politician to lead that charge..

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 29th, 2019



There is only one way to describe the experience of driving back from northern Ontario on a long Ontario weekend.

Overwhelming traffic and grid lock! Much like the rest of the free highways around the province, and the GTA in particular most days.

HOT lanes

Pay a fee and you can ride in that left hand lane.

So the economist in me wants to cry out road tolls. That’s right. Not only would the cost of tolls ration demand, but the tolls would also raise much needed cash for governments all drowning in deficit financing. That does mean that rich folks could afford to take the highway more often than the poor – and unless there are reasonable options to driving that will get the equity folks all upset.

In fact everyone seems to get upset. Nobody likes toll roads, even if, like the 407, they are relatively painless – get a transponder and the cost goes on your monthly visa bill. And talk about success, that highway is now worth over $30 billion, ten times the value Mike Harris got for it twenty years ago.

When Toronto’s city council wanted to impose some road tolls to help with city finances the Liberal provincial government feared a public backlash in the upcoming election, so nixed it. As it turns out that would hardly have hurt them in their election fortunes.

weekend traffic

Weekend traffic

In fact only the Green Party has had the courage to advocate road tolls. The other parties would no more dare to promise tolls, than they would photo radar or another long gun registry. The Wynne Liberals did, however, initiate tolls for driver-only cars using high occupancy lanes (HOV) – thus making them high occupancy or toll (HOT) lanes.

So what are our federal politicians promising to do about cars and congestion as we head to the polls in October to vote for them? The Harper Conservatives had launched a national multi-government infrastructure program as the centre piece of their effort to pull Canada out of the 2008 recession. That effort has been criticized for leaving too much money on the table – more ‘much-ado’ than actually ‘doing’.

As part of their 2015 election campaign the Trudeau Liberals had promised a massive nearly $200 billion, 10 year infrastructure program – increasing Canada’s infrastructure by roughly 20%. But like the Tories before them, they have found it difficult to spend as planned. The money needs to be initiated through application from the responsible jurisdictions and that takes two or more to tango.

One might recall the squabble between the Premier and the PM over the Bombardier transit car layoffs in Thunder Bay. It turns out that Mr. Ford had dropped the ball and failed to apply for the infrastructure money which might have kept the company and its employees working.

construction workers

Tolls would pay for infrastructure – which would create jobs.

Infrastructure investment is credited with creating over 547,000 jobs in 2017 alone. And job creation was the primary motivation behind the Liberal infrastructure program. Though fewer jobs were actually created than planned, it all helped move Canada to a four decade low rate of unemployment, and away from impending recession as Trudeau came to power.

Roads are high on the list for funding, getting almost a quarter of all that infrastructure money. Of course we can all see that money at work as we navigate our way through construction season. But you don’t have to be in a corn field in Iowa to know that if you build it they will come – no sooner do we finish a new road then it is congested with cars again.

There are an ever increasing number of trucks on the road and some of the blame goes to the wasteful industrial practice of just-in-time parts delivery, where trucks essentially become warehouses on wheels. Then there is the new trend of on-line shopping with free truck delivery to your door.

Bernier immigrant sign

No immigration – no traffic congestion.

And where do all the cars come from? On going urban sprawl necessitates car ownership and private vehicle commuting. Maxime Bernier would blame congestion on too much immigration. But nobody is listening to him, preferring to label him and his party as racists and keeping that party at the bottom of the polls.

Between 2011 and 2016, almost 30 per cent of immigrants to this country, some 356,930 people, settled in the Toronto census area. Even if only one in four acquired and drives a car that is still almost a hundred thousand cars we’ve added to Toronto area roads during those Harper/Trudeau years.

Elections are a perfect time for trying out new ideas. Kathleen Wynne promised to build some long needed high speed rail in southern Ontario had she won the last election. It is not clear how many drivers would have left their cars at home and shaved a four-plus-hour commute in rush hour down to 73 minutes – but at least they would have been given the option.

The federal government has played a huge role in facilitating the development of transportation in this country, the railways and highways and even pipelines. Isn’t it time for one of the political leaders to come out swinging with a better idea about resolving our road congestion?

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:

National Infrastructure –    More Infrastructure –    Even More Infrastructure –    Free Highways

Canadian Immigration –    Toronto Immigration –    High Speed Rail

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There is a better than even chance that the Ford government will strip citizens of effective political representation next year.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 21st, 2019



They gather every year for an annual conference – an event that lets the municipal sector talk to the provincial ministers about what’s coming down the pipe.

In Ontario the municipalities are creatures of the province; their names and their boundaries can be changed at the whim of the Premier.

The province has made it very clear that they want to reduce the $11 billion debt that the Liberals left when they were basically wiped out electorally by the Progressive Conservatives.

When that last happened we all thought Mike Harris was a disaster – now we get to see Doug Ford up close and in person and we learn what a disaster really is.

Steve Clark Minister of Muni affairs Ontario

Minister Clark.

Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipalities spoke at the AMO conference to talk about what he had in mind. He spoke the day after the Premier who made it clear that there were major cuts coming, what the province was going to pay for and what the municipalities were going to have to come up with.

It looked as if the Premier was going to find the money to pay down the provincial debt by forcing the municipalities to pick up more of the freight for the services they deliver.

Moody’s debt rating service said they thought the damage would amount to a $2 billion hit to the municipal sector.

Clark sugar coated everything his Ministry was going to do – it sounded like sunshine and lollipop pops or a verse from The Big Rock Candy Mountain.

It wasn’t until the very end of his speech that we got to see the sleeper – amalgamation is going to take place despite what Burlington’s MPP said.

Clark said: “At last year’s conference, I announced we would be reviewing the regional government system. It’s been in place for almost 50 years — and we wanted local input on how to improve governance, decision-making and service delivery.

Fenn Michael 2

Michael Fenn

“I’ve been unequivocal from day one and stated throughout the review — we have no preconceived outcomes” and added that “Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn are finalizing their recommendations — over 8,500 submissions and close to 100 in-person presentations were received — an overwhelming response — and I look forward to receiving their report.

“I’ll have more to say this fall. For now, I want to thank everyone who participated.”

Not so fast Minister.


Ken Seiling

When Seiling and Fenn were at Halton Region listening to delegations they mentioned that the event was their last stop and that they were ready to distill what they had heard into a report they would give the Minister by the end of July.

The concern for many at the Halton event was – would the report be made public. Seiling pointed out that they had been asked to do the work by the Minister and that the report would be given to the Minister – he would decide if and when it was to be made public.

There were delegations on how well the Region of Halton operated.  Ken Seilling challenged an Oakville delegation that suggested the financial impact was going to be severe if there was any kind of amalgamation in Halton.

At the end of July we heard that the report would not be released until after the federal election.

2018 Council

This Regional Council consists of ward representatives plus the Mayor from each municipality. Far too many people for Doug Ford’s liking.

Yesterday we learned that it will not be on the table until next year.

Most people believe the report has been completed; that the Minister has read it and decided what the government  will be doing.

It will have been discussed at Cabinet and there may well be bureaucrats creating new maps.

Halton map cropped

Will these municipalities get down graded to being a ward in a city?

Will Halton and it’s four municipalities be organized into something called the City of Halton? Far too early to know – what we do know is that Premier Ford is not shy when it comes to downsizing local government.

When he was in Oakville speaking to the Chambers of Commerce from the four municipalities, he was recognizing people in the audience. As he was reading out the names of those from Oakville he paused and said: “Boy, you’ve got a lot of people on that council.” The feeling that rippled across the Burlington Convention Centre was palpable.

Doug Ford thinks a Board of 7 to 9 people is what corporations need and he sees municipalities as corporate structures. Having people at the table who can effectively represent a community is not the role Ford sees for a politician.

His approach is to do it all himself. At that same event he read out his cell number and said ‘you can call me anytime’.

Doug Ford does not understand local politics, doesn’t respect the needs of communities at the grass roots level.

Expect the worst and hope that the very real representation problems in the Niagara Region get the attention they need and that Halton is left alone.

The Gazette got some comments from a former Ontario civil servant who served in several ministries who told us that he “would be very surprised if Clark has not been thoroughly briefed on what the report contains and its main recommendations. “

Our source added that he would “not be the least surprised if there was not some attempt to shape the main recommendations and right from the beginning of the process.

Steve Clark H&S

Minister of Municipalities Steve Clark: Already fully briefed?

“Ministers never “receive” anything that they’ve formally commissioned until they’re ready. They are briefed at regular intervals so that there are ‘no surprises and the final report is an anti-climax at best.

“Well in advance of the formal transmission of the Fenn/Seiling report a fulsome communications strategy will have been developed, ready for precise deployment like the Normandy invasion.”

That invasion of citizen rights looks as if it is going to take place sometime early in the New Year.

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.

Related new stories:

We Love Burlington delegates

Background on the Provincial Review of Regional governments

Edwardh describes Provincial Review as very limited


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Steward of Sheldon Creek supports social activist who told the story about by law abuses.

opiniongreen 100x100By Vince Fiorito

August 20th, 2019



I agree with Doreen Nicol’s recent Burlington Gazette article.

City policy appears to harass people doing their part to fight climate change, the biodiversity crisis and environmental toxification problems.

Not only do Burlington’s current property standard by-laws appear to conflict with City Council’s recent climate change emergency declaration, they may also conflict with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Species At Risk Act.

Imagine if Canada’s Group of Seven artists were held to the same standards as Burlington’s property standard bylaw, and they could only paint landscapes that were dominated by neatly mowed lawns.

Grp 7 art

Landscape design, like painting, is an art form, which is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

purple flower - skyscraper

World class examples of native species based landscape designs, that would violate Burlington’s current property standards by-laws.

Burlington’s by-laws and policies currently empower people who don’t understand or deny the existence of serious environmental problems. These people will pressure untrained city staff to mow what appears to them to be weedy unkempt looking lawns. Burlington residents shouldn’t have to fight with the city to be responsible stewards of the Earth. Some of them will inevitably take the city to court and seek damages and compensation.

butterfly on plant

Urban monarch butterfly

If city staff fail to recognize habitat for endangered species (Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies or New Jersey Tea for Mottled Duskywing Butterfly),then their actions could violate the Species At Risk Act and the city could risk fines up to $1,000,000

Also, modernizing and upgrading city property standards policies and by-laws, should include solutions to long term neglected environmental problems.

City policies and by-laws must encourage and assist property owners to clean up old dumpsites ASAP, like this one contaminated with old pesticide and petrochemical containers behind Creek Way in The Orchard.

garbage in creek

Located next to Sheldon Creek along the South Service Road, between Appleby and Burloak.

abandoned construction site

Current City property standards also ignore dangerous derelict buildings.

City property standards allow local businesses to dump industrial effluent into our watersheds with impunity. The above has been reported repeatedly to all levels of government, and is legal. Residents living down stream from environmental problems must have a right to know.

They should not have to use the Freedom of Information Act to access information that the city be collecting and sharing. Ignorance isn’t bliss for children playing or fishing downstream.

salmon 1 horizontal

Rainbow Trout caught 200M downstream from the Harvester storm sewer

salmon 2 vertical

Chinook Salmon aught in Sheldon Creek near New Street – about 1km downstream from Harvester sewer.

sewer pipe with grate

Harvester storm sewer

Burlington must modernize and upgrade city policies to solve climate change, the biodiversity crisis and environmental toxification problems.

The city must have policies to inform residents of reported problems that may affect them and pressures property owners to remediate serious environmental problem or face punitive measures.

Burlington must protect and create habitat for the Halton region’s 48 endangered species, manage the health and improve the vitality of the city’s ravines and wildlife corridor system, give Burlington residents a “Right to Know” about local environmental problems and make polluters pay to clean up their messes.

This issue is an opportunity for city council and Burlington residents to treat the climate change emergency as an emergency.

No one should have to fight with the city to prevent future generations from inheriting a resource depleted dying planet.

Vince FitorioVince Fiorito is a Burlington Resident and Founder of Friends of Sheldon Creek.  He has also been named the Steward of Sheldon Creek by Conservation Halton.

Related news stories.

Activist points to significant by law abuse issues.

Resident wins argument over milk wood in her garden.

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City is pushing hard to get people to think about what they want their city to look like - speak now rather than complain in a couple of years.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 16th, 2019



City hall is reminding people that there are public engagement opportunities now underway to help shape the adopted Official Plan policies that will guide development in the downtown core.

They want to know what matters most to you about downtown Burlington.

Their hope is that they (the planners) can work to gather public feedback about the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan. The process begins with a series of pop-up events. Additional public engagement opportunities to share ideas that will help refine and improve the downtown policies include two Citizen Action Labs taking place on Thursday, Aug. 22 and an online survey available at www.getinvolvedburlington.ca

All four buildings are within a five minute walk of each other.  These are basically done deals with others in the planning stage.  If this is what you want – say so – If this isn’t what you want speak up.


The Nautique – shovels will be in the ground within months and take close to three years to complete.

421 Brant

Due to go up across the street from city hall.

Brant looking north - Kellys

Approved for 17 floors – developer wants 26 – has appealed. To go up opposite city hall as well.


Completion has stalled – they need another year to complete the job.

Pop up Events
City staff will be visiting a variety of locations and events throughout the community to talk with residents and identify what is most important to them about downtown Burlington.  They really want to hear what the average person thinks.  During the October municipal election people complained that city hall wasn’t listening.  They are listening now.  Let them hear what you have to say.

Pop-up Dates and Locations

Friday, Aug. 16 Burlington Farmer’s Market, 777 Guelph Line 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17 Spencer Smith Park (playground), 1400 Lakeshore Rd.

Tansley Woods Library, 1996 Itabashi Way
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. & 2 to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 18 Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust St.

As they get a little older - they are ready for bigger challenges. This group works there way through a children's obstacle course.

Children’s Festival will be taking place on the weekend – planners will be out in force asking for your opinion.

Children’s Festival, Spencer Smith Park, 1400 Lakeshore Rd

Central Park (bandshell), 2299 New St.
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 19 Alton Library at Haber Community Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr.
5:30 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 20 Appleby Arena, 1201 Appleby Line

Brant Hills Library, 2255 Brant St.
12:30 to 2 p.m. & 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 21
Brant Hills Library, 2255 Brant St. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 24 Burlington Farmer’s Market, 777 Guelph Line

Aldershot Farmer’s Market, 484 Plains Rd. E. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Citizen Action Labs – Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown
At these public meetings, participants will work in small groups to discuss and identify what is most important to them about downtown Burlington.

Thursday, Aug. 22
1 to 3 p.m. or  7 to 9 p.m.
Art Gallery of Burlington, 1333 Lakeshore Rd.

Online Survey
An online survey will be available until Aug. 30 at www.getinvolvedburlington.ca to share input about what matters most about downtown Burlington.

Feedback gathered from all the public engagement activities will be used to inform the creation of two concepts of what the downtown could look like in the future. These concepts will be shared with the public in the fall for review and further input.

Visit www.GetInvolvedBurlington.ca to learn more about the re-examination of the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan and upcoming engagement opportunities.

ECOB logoNot everyone sees the process city hall is using to gather feedback as the best there is. ECoB Engaged Citizens of Burlington, the group that organized the public debates in every ward that was to a considerable degree responsible for the changes at city council have written the planners with their concerns.

1. The Feedback summary of comment and advice received during the pre-engagement process includes a broadly fair summary of comments provided by ECoB during our meeting with the planning department.

2. Our impression in meeting with the Planning Department staff was of a good faith intention to carry out a better engagement process during the Official Plan Review than has been made in the past. ECoB welcomes the growing recognition of effective and genuine engagement in city decision-making processes. ECoB welcomes the opportunity to take part.

3. ‘Doing engagement right’ is a difficult, time-consuming and potentially costly process. It is important to recognize at the outset that the extremely restricted timescales will of necessity create an imperfect engagement process. While the OP Review provides an opportunity for limited additional input from residents over what was received in the initial ‘Grow Bold’ process, it will still be far short of what we would consider the ideal engagement process for a new Official Plan. We believe it is better to recognize these shortcomings now than to argue that a comprehensive engagement process can be carried out in the time available. This observation may be valuable in future engagement initiatives and the ongoing review of advisory committees and engagement in general.

4. The feedback received has been made anonymous in the summary sent to us. We believe it would in fact be advantageous to know which comments came from which groups and individuals. Purely as an example, one can guess that the stipulation that the Engagement Charter be referenced frequently came from the ChAT team. Likewise, there was contrasting advice on ‘pop-up’ engagement processes. Knowing who gave this advice might clarify why there is a discrepancy in opinion. The source of advice is highly relevant in assessing the value of feedback received, and for those attempting to understand how the engagement plan was formed. We believe there is no reason why the names and affiliations of all people consulted could not be included, in the interests of openness and transparency.

5. The pre-engagement process primarily involved receiving advice from advisory committees of various sorts. Only two organizations (ECoB and the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders Assoc.) are fully independent of City Hall. It would further clarify to know who, if any individuals were consulted and to ascertain their independence. ECoB’s position is that the current make-up and selection processes for advisory committees is in urgent need for reform, as recommended by the Shape Burlington Report in 2010, but not implemented. Ironically, most advisory committees, including ChAT, do not regularly interact with the public. There is a perception of a lack of transparency in the selection of citizen volunteers and the operations of the ChAT group. With the greatest of respect for the volunteers on the committees, some of whom are also ECoB members, these longstanding procedural problems weaken the validity of advice received.

6. Having consulted with our members and executive over the last week, there is certainly still concern among our membership that the engagement process will remain too superficial. As we stated during our meeting, we strongly encourage the planning department to ‘be bold’ with the engagement that it conducts to go beyond conventional methods. This should include acknowledgement of and clearly stated attempts to reach:

◦ People from all age groups. Meetings with school-age children a year or so from adulthood are easy and quick to arrange through civics classes and may provide a different but important perspective. The same goes for seniors groups (albeit seniors are traditionally well represented in ‘volunteered feedback’), but also commuters and young families. ‘Pop- up’ events may be most valuable if held, for instance, at ice-rinks or venues where young families take children to participate in sport, as well as malls and supermarkets.

◦ People of different ethnicities. Reaching out to local religious and cultural organizations can be an easy way to ensure people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds are included.

◦ People of different income groups. Again, religious organizations and local and regional non-profits can advise on the many events and gatherings organized for people on low incomes.

Unless attempts to meet and address these groups are explicitly mentioned in the engagement plan, they are highly likely to be overlooked.

7. We mentioned during our meeting, but it is not included in the summary, the possibility of using local organizations to help with engagement. This would need to be done in a way such that the volunteer groups could not influence the information collected. Such groups could assist with delivery and collection of questionnaires, or explaining the engagement process to people who would traditionally not participate.

8. We did not mention at our meeting but would like to add the suggestion of an important education component to assist residents with learning about the planning process. A fear of a lack of knowledge is a major barrier to people participating in engagement activities. Such a program was provided for new councillors in 2018 – it could be adapted for the public. While the most frequently engaged residents become aware of the complexity of the issues at hand, other residents are naturally less well-informed. This can lead to unrealistic impressions of what is feasible in the provincial and regional planning context and to repetitive and time consuming covering of the same ground. This is where a prominent educational component, presented as separate educational meetings, plus a website and/or documentation, would be of value to both planning staffs and citizens.

9. Re: “Trade-offs and options – Avoid oversimplifying discussion to height alone”
By contrast lack of background information or education must not invalidate resident opinions. This phrase copied above embodies some of the problems that frequently arise when institutions undertake engagement. It is imperative that when questions are asked of residents, they are not asked in ways that lead to institutionally-desired responses. An example of such a ‘trade-off’ question is: “Would you be willing to accept additional height in return for a medical facility included in a development”. Height is a huge issue for many residents, and that opinion has to be recognised and acknowledged alongside all others, regardless of how problematic it is marry that desire with the current provincial planning context.

“Maintaining low-rise to mid-rise character”, or “lower heights in downtown”, are perfectly valid desires for a residents to have, and residents should neither be patronized to by an inference that they “don’t understand”, nor should their opinions be hidden by using engagement processes which lead to minimizing widely held opinions.

In summary – it is the purpose of engagement to find out what residents and other ‘stakeholders’ want, and then to see how the OP Review can best satisfy those desires within the context of the in force provincial and regional planning frameworks. It is not the job of engagement to shape opinion in ways which may appear more convenient.

10. Some of the most ‘scientifically’ valid and innovative methods of engagement available are being ruled out by time and budget. While time is certainly an issue, we would urge the City to consider an increased budget if it allows engagement at a scale, and of a validity, that has not been achieved before. The key objective must be to reach a representative sample of the vast majority of residents who, for entirely valid reasons, do not take participate in conventional engagement opportunities. We feel dollars spent at this stage will save expenses and points of conflict at a later date if an OP is put together that residents can broadly support.

The summary of pre-engagement gives a reasonable reflection of the advice we provided at our meeting with the Planning Department, and we have noted some items which we think could have been included. We do have concerns that some of the same processes which failed citizens in previous OP engagement efforts are likely to be repeated. Nevertheless, we believe the Planning Department is moving in a better direction with regard to engagement. Cognizant of the shortcomings of previous engagement exercises, we would like to see additional weight given to engagement methods by which “the city goes out to residents ”and not “residents coming to the city” thereby reaching out in as representative a manner as a manner as possible to the entire population.

While the timelines are extremely short, we still believe the City should set ambitious engagement objectives. If doing so demands additional budget, we believe the City Manager and Council should make the funds available urgently to ‘do engagement right’.

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Very little development money dumped into ward 3 - some lackluster candidates who chose not to file financial returns.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 14th, 2019



Continuing with our series on the amount of money that was raised and spent during the October municipal election.

We covered ward 4 last time, today we take a closer look at ward 3 where Rory Nisan came out the winner against four other candidates.

John Taylor was the 25 year plus incumbent who chose to retire which opened up the field for anyone who thought they could win.

Candidates were given an amount they could spend; that amount was determined by the number of eligible voters in the ward.

In the data set out below the TCI is the total dollar amount brought in by each campaign. The TAE is the TCI minus  any applicable expenses. It is the total applicable expenditures or the total expenditures that apply to the Total Spending Limit and must be less that the Total Spending Limit. We then took the TAE and calculated it as a % of the TSL (also called “The General Spending Limit). So if someone had a TAE of $7 and the TSL/GSL was $10, then they spent 70% of the allowable campaign limit.

Total expenditure headings

ward 3 spends


Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

Lisa Cooper 2

Lisa Cooper, a third time out candidate, she wasn’t able to break through and win.

Rory Nisan

Rory Nisan took the seat and within a month there were concerns about how he was handling some issues and had to face an Election Compliance audit.




In the list of donours to each campaign funds that came from known developers are show in yellow.
The Nisan donours were:

Nisan source

The Williams donours were:

Williams source

Cooper self-financed her campaign, raised $168.00 and spent $3,419.86

Kinsey Schurm self financed his campaign and spent $2,910.55

Peter Rusin and Darcy Hutzel failed to file election campaign financial returns.

The issue in the ward today is the plans the Nelson Quarry announced to turn the quarry into a park once it is totally mined out.  The ward is a middle class/working class community that just wants to have the road plowed and the recreational services as up to date as in every other ward.

Ward 3 png

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You know what the issue is with this world. Everyone wants a magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 13th, 2019



One of the beauties of an on line newspaper is the opportunity to look at the back and forth in communication between two people.

In what follows we give you a look at how David Barker’s electronic conversation with Burlington MPP Jane McKenna went.

Alice for BarkerBarker, a Lakeshore Road resident, takes issue with Jane McKenna’s position on affordable housing. She basically sticks as close as possible to the Ford government position- something Jane has always done. She knew the lines to the Tim Hudak position on significant issues better than Tim Hudak did when he was PC party leader.

Have a listen to how McKenna digs a hole and then looks for ways to dig down even deeper.

David Barker to Jane McKenna June 22nd, 2019
On Sat., Jun. 22, 2019, 11:25 a.m. Barker wrote:

Ms McKenna in your statement directed towards the We Love Burlington group, published in the Burlington Gazette, you state “Our estimates from the Ministry of the Attorney General show that over 100,000 housing units are caught up in legacy cases at the tribunal. That’s 100,000 desperately needed homes that can’t get built – or three years worth of construction in Ontario waiting for approval….” By making this statement, Ms McKenna, you imply that you would expect all 100,000 units that await review by LPAT would gain its approval.

Maybe you did not mean to imply that. But your statement reflects exactly the public’s perception of just what is wrong with LPAT (and before it OMB). The perception is that the unelected, unrepresentative body seems to invariably side with the developer’s position, completely ignoring the municipality’s official plan and the desires of the local residents.

Please can you provide any justification as to why the Province of Ontario should even have an unelected, unrepresentative body to pass judgement on how a municipality manages its development. As far as I am aware no other Canadian Province has such a body. I assume in those other Provinces the developer’s recourse is to a non-political court system. Should that not also be the recourse here in Ontario?

Surely if a municipality has an official plan that has been accepted and approved by its region (and by implication the Province) why should that municipality then be second guessed by an unelected, unrepresentative political body. If a developer’s proposal does not comply with the requirements of the municipality’s (Region/ Province approved) official plan, then surely the developer should not expect municipal plan approval until it does conform.

My understanding is the official plan in effect in Burlington dates back to 2008. That means the official plan has been in effect for ten years NOT twenty five years as you contend. That 2008 official plan, although soon to be superceded by an updated official plan, does in fact remain compliant with regional and Provincial requirements. As such it should be respected by all, including developers, the Province and LPAT.

Ms McKenna you are right to champion the need to increase the supply of affordable housing, both rental and owned. I believe you will find allies for that goal at the Region, at Burlington City Council and in the community. However, the high rise condo developments proposed for downtown Burlington do not in any meaningful way address affordable housing. The price point of the proposed condos are way outside the affordability of first time home buyers. Further the monthly rental cost of those units being bought by investors for the rental market is also likely to be well beyond the budgets of the twenty somethings who look for affordable rental accommodation. So for you, Ms McKenna, to in any way imply that the developers proposals for downtown Burlington high rises address affordable housing is completely disingenuous on your part.

Please, Ms McKenna would you temper your standing up and defending the bullying Ford government, of which you are a part, with more standing up and advocating for the desires and positions of your constituents who elected you to represent them. Those views are clearly and accurately expressed and advocated by the City of Burlington Council.

I dare you to publish on your website this opposing view to your statement. But I doubt you are either brave enough or confident enough to do that.

Barker to McKenna June 30th.
I’m looking forward to your response to my emailed message below.

McKenna to Barker August 7th.
Mr. Barker,
Every community in Ontario is unique. But no matter where you go, one thing is the same – people are looking for housing that meets their needs and their budget.

Here in Burlington, the cost of buying a home is becoming out of reach for many and affordable rentals are too hard to find. In addition, the high cost of housing is making it harder to attract investment and create jobs.

According to 2017 projections by Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Halton Region will grow by 56.2 percent over the next 22 years – making Halton the fastest-growing area in the GTHA. That’s why we need to get the housing supply right – the right housing, in the right place, at the right time in the most efficient way.

Provincial growth plans have determined land use patterns for over a century. Regional and Municipal Official Plans align to provincial policy and are used in planning local communities.

Ontario is not the only province that handles appeals involving municipal planning decisions with a Tribunal. Like Ontario, Alberta is also home to some of the fastest growing cities in Canada; they also handle municipal planning with a tribunal.

The tribunal exists because people don’t always agree on how their communities should develop or change. Disputes often arise over land use planning issues, such as where industry is located, where roads and transit are built, protecting environmentally sensitive lands and managing overall development. When people are unable to resolve their differences on planning issues or have disputes with their municipal council, the LPAT provides a forum to resolve those disputes.

Recently, Halton Regional Council passed a motion calling on the government to eliminate the LPAT. Unfortunately, this is not an option as it would remove the ability for residents to appeal Council decisions outside the courts. Relying on our over-burdened court system would increase costs, delay decision making and hinder people’s ability to settle planning disputes.

Our government’s recent decision to appoint 11 new adjudicators to the LPAT will speed-up decision making to address the 2 to 3-year backlog of appeals.

As Burlington works to create a new Official Plan, our Mayor and Council continue to receive expert advice from local and provincial planning staff. That’s why I’m confident that by mid-2020, under a new Official Plan, the number of appeals will be reduced, with the LPAT playing an important role in ensuring critical checks and balances are in place.
Best regards,

Barker gets back to McKenna before the end of the day on August 7th.

Thank you for your email below. Its contents do raise further questions in my mind, which you might be able to answer or comment upon.
I totally agree with you that so much more needs to be done to provide the “affordable” housing that is needed for the less well off in our society. The main hurdle to achieving that goal is that it does not make commercial or economic sense for developers to create affordable housing when ROI is so much better with condos and single family homes. Ontario should look to other jurisdictions outside of Canada where local, regional and central governments provide the affordable housing stocks. It is nonsense and folly to believe the private sector will step up. Doug Ford, the Premier for the People” surely would want to champion a Housing for the People initiative funded through the three levels of government.

I would hazard a guess that of the 100,000 units you have cited as being held up at OMB/LPAT less than 5% would relate to applications for affordable housing developments. Perhaps you have a supportable number for this?
Those applications for multi unit developments in Burlington tied up at OMB/LPAT, I am confident are all for $500,000+ condos or similar price point developments. Not for affordable housing.

Tying the affordable housing issue to the purpose or need for an OMB/LPAT body is not appropriate or valid.

You say, once Burlington, or any other municipality, gets its OP compliant with Provincial requirements the number of instances of appeals being accepted for adjudication by LPAT will be substantially reduced. That being the case why could a dedicated Property Planning Court not be created to deal with the appeals.

Surely it is better to have an independent judiciary act as the arbiter rather than an unelected body of political or patronage appointees, who likely have no connection to the municipality. If a separate Property Planning Court is a no go, then why not have a requirement that the LPAT tribunal members must be resident in the municipality from which the matter emanates.

You cite cost as being an insurmountable hurdle that rules out the use of the courts as a viable place to settle disputes. The cost to appeal a municipality’s decision to LPAT likely puts an appeal out of the financial wherewithal of individual residents. Lawyers, planning consultants and other expert type witnesses are required, all costing a pretty penny. Developers have deep pockets. Individuals do not. A “small claims court” type model for a Property Planning focused court should be the way to go.

You have cited Alberta as another province with an LPAT type system. So perhaps you can elaborate as to how other provinces deal with planning disagreements. What happens in say BC, Quebec, Nova Scotia. Can Ontario not learn anything from those provinces?
You mention Halton recently passed a resolution calling for the end of LPAT. The regional and city council’s were more recently elected to office than were MPPs. Your words come across like those of an overly protective or controlling mother telling her child “no, don’t bother your pretty little head with that, Mommy knows what’s best”.

Might I suggest in the next month or so you host a constituency meeting on this subject so that you can hear directly from your constituents on this subject.
David Barker

Jane gets back to Barker on August 12th
Mr. Barker,
Thank you for your follow up email including your suggestions.
Best regards,

Barker gets back to Jane – he is like a dog with a bone and he isn’t letting go.

You are most welcome.

Mad Hatter for BarkerWill you be offering your thoughts or comments as to those suggestions:-

* a “small claims” model type court for municipal property planning disputes be set up to replace LPAT.
* an LPAT tribunal be comprised only of citizens resident in the municipality from which the matter emanates.

* you hold a townhall meeting within the next couple of months to have an open discussion on this matter, which is of immensely high interest to your constituents.
* have the Province and municipalities come together to finance, construct, hold and manage a stock of affordable housing.

I look forward to hearing from you.
David Barker

Blair Smith, a citizen’s advocate adds his two cents:
If the Government really wanted to increase affordable housing then it would act as responsible governments do – as stewards of the public trust – and mandate that developers do much, much more to provide housing that applies. If you leave it to the private sector with incentive programs and self-regulating regimens then your last name may be Wynn. Government is intended to fill the gap where private sector and self-interest will not go. Not a difficult concept.

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Incomplete rules and regulations that are a part of Bill 108 look like a disaster in the making.

News 100 blackBy Staff

August 13th, 2019



Our friends across the Bay in Hamilton have published a newsletter that has to be shared.

Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) comment on Bill 108 and the degree to which it is going to gut the way planners within municipalities have to deal with development applications.

CATCH said:

Additional though still incomplete information has come from the province about massive changes being made to rules on planning, community benefit agreements, parkland funding and development charges. Described as “welfare for developers”, the More Homes, More Choice Act appears to mean more subsidies from property taxpayers and an abandonment of the claim that growth pays for itself.

Aerial view - skyway bridge

The good citizens of Hamilton have looked at Bill 108 -and they don’t like what they see. The view will be the same from this side of the Bay.

The stated objective of the legislation is to lower housing costs. It eliminates growth fees for services such as libraries, recreational facilities, parkland development and social housing. These make up about a quarter of the development charges currently collected in Hamilton from developers to offset some of the costs of new growth.

Some of these revenue losses could be recovered with modified Community Benefits Charges that are included in the legislation. These replace existing “section 37” collections whereby cities bargain with developers who want to exceed approved building sizes and densities and in return obtain various community benefits.

But the modified community benefits charge will be capped by the province at a rate that has still not been released so there is no certainty that the financial result will be equivalent to that obtained by the existing two growth funding mechanisms. And if a city utilizes this community benefits charge it will be forced to abandon collection of parkland dedication fees – a long-standing method of ensuring sufficient land for parks.

Currently the parkland dedication fee – which has been in effect since the early 1970s – requires developers to provide land or monies based on the number of new residents in the growth area. Now it will be set irrespective of how dense the development.

Toronto staff have calculated that for one new apartment tower the new rules will mean an 80 percent drop in parkland paid by the developer. In another situation, the park area falls from nearly four square metres per resident down to half a square metre.

Central Park - play area

Developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

This flies in the face of both provincial and local commitments to encourage higher densities, especially along major transit lines like the LRT. Instead the municipality will be penalized for more concentrated residential development and the developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

Other changes in the legislation drastically shorten the time allocated to cities to respond to development proposals. For example, the timelines for an official plan amendment drop from 210 days to 120. Local planners contend these make proper review and public consultation virtually impossible and will mean many more appeals to the provincial planning tribunal.

All of these changes are likely to leave existing taxpayers shouldering more of the costs of growth. As Hamilton’s chief planner Steve Robichaud warned in June: “There’s a big shift in terms of who pays for growth and how that balances and they’ve taken the costs off the developer and they’re shifting some of those costs onto the municipality.”

While the new rules are purported to lower housing costs, they don’t include any way to ensure this. “It is unlikely that they will positively impact housing affordability,” argue Toronto planners, “as Bill 108 does not provide for any mechanisms to ensure that reduced development costs are passed through to future home buyers and renters.”

Bill 108

The developers may have been given even more than the keys to the city.

The Ford government rushed through the legislation without details between May 1 and June 6, leaving municipalities scrambling to even provide comments on changes that could not be properly evaluated. Now Queen’s Park has extended the confusion with incomplete draft regulations and schedules.

“The province has not posted an actual draft regulation, but rather has posted a notice of intent to issue a regulation”, notes Hamilton staff.

“The regulations … have been provided in general terms and the full impact of the proposal is not capable of being fully understood and assessed without the official language that will appear as written in the regulation.”

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What does one do with a City Clerk who treats a totally unacceptable breach of the election rules as a learning experience?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2019



Earlier today the Gazette published an article on some problems that were brought to the public’s attention by Blair Smith and Lynn Crosby.

The problems they discovered after an exhaustive analysis of the data that was submitted to the City Clerk by each candidate brought some very disturbing matters to the surface.

Small administrative errors and typos happen. But when significant amounts of data just don’t appear a full public understanding of who contributed what to whom is no longer possible.

What makes the democratic system we have the success it is – is that we all abide by the laws in place and everything is transparent.

If the numbers aren’t available transparency isn’t possible. And once those who set out to game the system become aware that they can hide where their campaign election money came from, just imagine what can happen.

In a series that will follow in the Gazette in the weeks ahead we list who got what from whom and do our best to identify known developer interests.

Does receiving campaign funds from a developer mean that a candidate has compromised themselves – no but – know that developers are in business and they use their money to enhance their business interests.

Brant looking north - Kellys

Two of the four buildings are done deals – two are working their way through the approval process. Did election campaign funding make them possible?

high profile 421

Done deal


Done deal

Pearl and Lakeshore

Looking for approval.

The public depends upon the bureaucracy to protect their interests, to ensure that the data they get has been fully reviewed and meets the criteria.

How Mike Wallace got away with filing a return that did not have critical dates in his report is not just an oversight. It is sloppy administration done by people who don’t understand or appreciate that accuracy is important.

Are the results of the election in question? No.

The vote count was pretty decisive. The Office of Mayor was not won by money – it was won by a person who heard and responded to the cries of the people who pay attention to civic matters.

The disappointment is that less than 40% of the people who had the right to vote actually cast a ballot.

Mayor Meed Ward was not as unequivocal as she could have been on this matter; she has certainly had her issues with the way this Clerk has handled a number of matters in the past.

The comments made by the Clerk that this was a learning experience cannot be accepted. The position of Clerk in municipalities is significant; for example a bylaw is not in force until both the Mayor and the Clerk sign the document.

Smith and Crosby argue that the Clerk’s behaviour is “a completely unacceptable contravention of information practice and protocol, particularly for one entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the official record.”

It is up to Tim Commisso, City manager to decide what to do next, if anything. What he decides to do will say a lot about the kind of City Manager he is going to be.

There was a situation a number of years ago when the then Director of Planning, Bruce Krushelnicki, sitting at the Council table, advised council that a very senior member of his staff would no longer be in the employment of the city. He walked the individual back to his office; that was the last we saw of him.

Strong managers take strong action when it is necessary, providing they have just reasons for doing so.

Related news story:

Clerk revises public record – considered a no no.


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: Gets a taste of what the federal election in October might be like - grants and photo ops.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 8th, 2019



 This is an election year and politicians show up at every chance they get.


From the left: Oakville North Burlington MP, Pam Damoff, Burlington MP Karina Gould who is also the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna, They were at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters – there is a freighter sailing past them in the background.

So Liberal MP’s from Burlington, Oakville and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek were along for the ride when Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna did a presser at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW). It was Karina Gould’s home turf so she moderated.

And fiscal conservatives might have been relieved that it was only a little over a million dollars being awarded for essentially low-level environmental clean up projects stretching over the next three years. It’s chump change, though the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which had scored two projects under the federal Great Lakes protection initiative, was out in force to thank the minister for her/our largesse.

CCIW 4 Minister

Catherine McKenna – Minister of the Environment.

The announcement took place upon the broken pavement out the back of CCIW, which houses the world renowned National Water Research Institute (NWRI). I had spent a lot of time working in that building and it seemed little has changed over the two decades since I’d left. It was great to see so many of my former colleagues still slaving over a hot test tube.

One of the primary purposes of NWRI at its inception back in the ‘70s was to rid the Great Lakes of those nasty algal blooms which choke all the life out of the waters. And there had been progress, and for a while it looked like we had won that battle. But climate change has opened up a whole new challenge. Rain storms bringing nutrient-rich soil from well-fertilized farms and sloppy urban development have combined with warmer water to facilitate renewed algal growth.

Seriously, a million dollars is a pretty modest amount of money, given the three billion dollars the federal and other governments are giving the fossil fuel industry to continue generating greenhouse gas emissions.  But every action helps and these projects, restoring habitat and cleaning up the shoreline certainly will help.

And, of course, the feds have more arrows in their quiver. So Minister McKenna wasted no time chastising the Conservative provincial premiers who are wasting tax payer money on court challenges over the carbon tax.

But as I said it was a pre-campaign election event.

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:

Canada Centre for Inland Waters



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Paying to Poison the Planet

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 6th, 2019



Ever since I can remember environmentalists have been demanding an end to government subsidies for the oil and gas sectors. And ever since I can remember governments have been ignoring the issue, or have been in denial. And those not in denial keep making promises to end the flow of cash to the energy giants, but never actually do.

sustainable for who

Sustainable for who?

Canada by everyone’s calculations leads the G7 when it comes to doling out cash to the fossil fuel industry. And while the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) puts the direct value of Canadian generosity to big fossil at $3.3 billion per year, the International Monetary Fund calls it more like $50 billion after all the externalities are included.

Mr. Trudeau, recognizing the inappropriateness of these subsidies, and echoing long standing Liberal policy, promised during the last federal election that he would eliminate this gravy train. Then he made a similar promise when his government purchased the TransMountain (TMX) pipeline. The NDP, like the Liberals, utter wishful thoughts on the matter, but the national reality just won’t let that happen – at least not yet.

Canada’s is a diverse economy, and three or four provinces rely heavily on the oil and gas sector for their standard of living. And demand for petroleum is still strong. So ending the subsidies would appear as an attack on those provinces and the national economy. Besides there is still some small chance that the Liberals or NDP might win some seats in the prairies.

The Greens are probably the only party which could be counted on to end the freeload, though the probability of them becoming government in the near future is pretty slim – so it’s an easy promise to make. Maxime Bernier’s fledgling People’s Party shuns all subsidies and has criticized the most recent federal gift to the oil execs. But then given current polling he has even a lesser chance of forming government than the Greens, let alone keeping his own seat.

Sheer loves oil and gas

The sign says it all.

Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are the outliers. Despite criticism of Trudeau on the latest handout to the industry, nobody should doubt where Scheer stands. He represents oil producing Saskatchewan, after all, and like his former boss, Alberta’s Harper, can be counted on to do the bidding of the oil giants.

In fact his recent policy paper on climate change and the environment would see even more subsidies go out to fossil fuel firms presumably looking for cleaner ways of burning even more fossil fuels. He stands shoulder to shoulder with big oil, regurgitating their positions on the new fuel standard and environmental assessment. And his opposition to the carbon tax is all about protecting the oil producers.

But if climate change is the most important issue facing humanity this century, then fossil fuels will have to go, and fossil fuel companies will have to shut down eventually. And alternatives need to be available and put on an even footing financially. According to the IISD, globally, the fossil fuel fellows get four times as much in handouts ($400 billon) as does the worldwide renewable energy sector.

Bernier is dead wrong. Subsidies are an essential part of modern government. They are as essential as fair taxation. If government’s role in society is to provide leadership then it must use all of its tools to tip the scales and nudge us in the right direction. For example, the recently announced federal electric vehicle rebate program helps to level the costs of purchasing a non-polluting vehicle.

Smokestacks Hamilton

The Hamilton skyline on a difficult day.

Subsidies to the oil industry are wrong headed and must and will end. Otherwise how do we move society off oil and gas and onto cleaner electric or hydrogen. The federal carbon tax is expected to raise $2.3 billion this year, all of which will be returned to the public. And that is still at least a billion shy of what the Canadian taxpayers are giving to the oil companies, so they can compensate their oil exec’s with fat salaries, bonuses and stock options. And their product is the poison changing our climate.

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:

Subsidies for Fossil Fuels –    More Subsidies –    Canadian Subsidies –    Highest Subsidizes in G7

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City is looking for some input on Leash-Free parts of the city.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 1st, 2019



The woof woofs need more room to run around.


Dogs off leash in Central Park - if you have an opinion - speak up

Dogs off leash in Central Park – if you have an opinion – speak up

The City of Burlington is looking for feedback on the City’s current Leash-Free Area Criteria.

Residents are encouraged to visit getinvolvedburlington.ca/leashfree to review the criteria and provide the City with feedback and suggestions.

The City currently has three public Leash-Free Areas:

• Roly Bird Park (2203 Industrial St.)
• Norton Park (4275 Dundas St.)
• Bayview Park (1800 King Rd.)

With feedback from residents, staff will report back to City Council by the end of this year.


The current Council-approved criteria, described below, is used when the public expresses interest in requesting a new Leash-Free Area.

The survey is looking for resident feedback on the criteria along with any suggestions on the criteria that residents may have.

Current Criteria for Creating a Leash-Free Area

• Parks must be within City of Burlington boundaries
• Leash-Free Area must be at least 0.3 hectares (30 metres x 30 metres)
• All Leash-Free Parks must be enclosed with permanent fencing, which the City will provide as part of the budget process
• An assessment will be made to whether parking will be required at a proposed leash-free site, based on the size of the Leash-Free site, location and any disruption to park function.
• A significant barrier must exist between Leash-Free Areas and children’s playgrounds, splash pads, sports fields, waterfront, cemeteries and residential housing.
• Leash-Free Areas cannot be located beside schools or in the City’s waterfront parks
• Area must be accessible to the public for year-round use
“Leash-Free Areas are great amenities in our parks. They encourage play and socialization for all. We also know there are challenges when developing new Leash-Free Areas, and with the general operation of them.

The city asking you what you think – they want some help shaping the Leash-Free future.”

Ideas, opinions what works and what doesn’t work as well as what could work..  Is the current criteria the right criteria?

Speak up!


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