Rivers: GM decides to give up on Ontario - have they stopped making mistakes or is this move just another one?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 29th, 2018



It is nothing short of dishonest for federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to blame the announced closing of General Motors (GM) operations in Oshawa next year on a federal carbon tax – which has yet to be implemented. It is equally dishonest for the Ontario premier to be running around blaming everything on the policies of the previous Liberal government.

Open for business sign at border

One of the bigger business operations in the province had decided to leave. There was nothing the province could do to keep them.

GM was clear that this was a corporate-wide restructure which is closing at least one plant in Canada and several more in the USA. It has to do with excess production capacity for gas guzzlers and the company’s failure to adjust to changing markets. And nothing Mr. Ford could offer, be it lower taxes, lower electricity rates, fewer labour regulations or a cash grant, would make the company change its mind. Ford was told definitively by GM’s management, as they hung up the phone – ‘the ship has left the dock’.

The traditional big three North American auto giants, and GM in particular, are chronic slow learners and always late to the game. The first electric car was invented by a Hungarian dude back in the early 1800s, over half a decade before Mr. Benz patented the first gas guzzler. By the turn of the century there were almost twice as many electric as petroleum vehicles on the road in America. But cleanliness, simplicity of operation and fast acceleration eventually lost out to the increased range and the lower costs of the more complicated Model T.

GM is not fondly remembered for its own history with electricity. In response to California’s emerging tough fuel and emissions standards in the 1990s, the company piloted the EV1 project. Everybody who drove one loved the car but for some suspicious reason GM killed the project and destroyed the cars anyway.

Two decades later, to compete with the Prius hybrid, the Chevy Volt, a miserable compromise of inadequate battery range and an inefficient on-board gasoline charging system, showed up. Its ultimate demise this coming year will result in few tears. Only last year GM finally got the memo and produced the all-electric Chevy Bolt with a battery range into Tesla territory. These cars are built in Michigan and their batteries in Korea.

Oshawa assembly plant

Neither our governments nor the company saw the writing on the wall – that doing the same things will give you the same result.

It was barely a decade ago when, as GM nearly folded-up camp, it came cap-in-hand to the Canadian and US federal and sub-national governments, begging for a handout to ride out the GW Bush recession. Canada and Ontario wasted no time asking how much, and we ended up with a combination of loans and equity totaling almost $14 billion.

The US set specific environmental conditions before issuing the lending instruments and ultimately got all of its money back and then some. The Harper government sold off our equity early in order to present a balanced budget for the 2015 election, and ended up losing $3.5 billion as a result.

In addition there was apparently a billion dollars which had been signed over to a GM entity which no longer exists. There was some kind of ‘old GM’, as opposed to a “new GM“ and the new one isn’t about to pay the money back. This for a company which earned over six billion in profits last year.

Cars are like a narcotic. If GM is a junkie then our governments are the the enablers, feeding its habits and ignoring the consequences. Neither our governments nor the company saw the writing on the wall – that doing the same things will give you the same result. Instead of sending the company to rehab, the governments just benignly encouraged GM to keep doing business as usual – making the same old cars – the same old mistakes.

GM claims the 60 year old Oshawa plant is unsuitable for production of the new generation of EVs and autonomous diving cars. Indeed the facility may be old but isn’t a car a car? Auto companies regularly run different models on the same assembly line. GM is doing that now, building trucks on a line formerly used for sedans.

And why have we all been blindsided by this closure announcement? The company has a contract with its labour union which extends beyond the planned closure date, surely the union should have been consulted. The union president is convinced GM is on a path to also close the other two factories it operates in Canada. What does that hold for the security of pension and benefit obligations?

Leggat old adv

The Leggat family have been in the car retailing business for a long long time.

GM was once Canada’s largest auto maker. Does its executive brain trust think there will be any remaining buyer loyalty after this caper? Once the dust has settled GM might as well take their dealership operations with it if it closes the door on Canadian production. The union boss, Jerry Dias, wants Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Trump to impose a 40% tariff on GM cars built in Mexico and China. That would teach it a lesson Dias says.

We know little of GM’s corporate decision making process, but perhaps somebody should have listened when it warned that Donald Trump’s recent tariffs would end up in a smaller GM. Trump’s reaction to the US plant closures, threatening to remove the federal subsidies for buyers of GM EVs, is as wrong headed as his tariffs were. Those EVs are currently built in America, after all.

GM claims that it has seen the light, joining Ford Motors, Volkswagen and others in shifting from gasoline to EV production. Once upon a time, six months ago, Ontario buyers used to get a provincial incentive for new EVs, as buyers do in several other jurisdictions across Canada and throughout the USA. And a carbon tax raising the cost of gasoline would encourage more car buyers to join the EV crowd. These policies are consistent with the direction the new GM is heading.

Scheer and Ford

Leader of the federal opposition Andrew Scheer with Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Note the picture to the left of former Toronto Mayor the late Rob Ford

But it doesn’t sound like retaining those Wynne government pro-EV policies would have kept the Oshawa plant open any more than Mr. Ford’s killing them did.  Scheer and Ford need to take a step back and re-examine their own policies before they heap unwarranted blame on their political opponents.

Pointing fingers and slinging mud are unhelpful at this time. And putting up signs saying ‘Ontario is open for business’ is a waste of time when the business model the government is using dates back at least thirty years. Like the evolution of the automobile its past time to move into the 21st century.

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:

Who Killed the Electric –      History of the Electric Car –      GM Trade Unertainty

Open for Business –      Trump’s unintended Consequences –      Trump Tariffs

Bailouts Don’t Work

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Bryce Lee: Wants more than any city council could get done in its first 100 days; doesn't think the new Mayor will last more than one term.

100 daysThe Gazette has invited residents for their thoughts on what the new city might try to achieve in its first 100 days.  A lot of wishful thinking and some misunderstanding of how the city actually works.  Interesting comments.


By Bryce Lee
November 28th, 2018

Have often thought the ward boundaries should shift, to accommodate two extra councillors account some wards are geographically larger than others. Even the load so to speak.

No more structures blocking the view of Lake Ontario.

The lake is perhaps the greatest asset this City has, do not lose it to developers!

No more fancy homes on Lakeshore east to Guelph Line.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The want to sell it.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The city sold it.

Over a long time that entire area should become a linear park. Selling those lots on Lakeshore Road between Market and St Paul to home owners was stupid and short sighted.

Let the council delegations be heard, good amplification is required; citizens must not be ignored. They voted the current Councillors in; they can just as easily be voted out in four years!

421 Brant

Approved – all but impossible to change the decision

Looking north from Queens Head

Developer is expected to appeal the council decision to keep the structure to 17 storeys – developer wants 24 – same as the approved building across the street.

As to the planned monstrosities opposite the current city hall and elsewhere; the so-called Official Plan needs to be reviewed. Such tall buildings should be fronting the edge of Metrolinx railway line, not in the downtown area. Keep the downtown building height to six stories, set back from the new wider sidewalks.

Have affordable shops on perhaps the ground floor or even the second floor.

Motorized vehicle parking should be at the rear of said structures or below level; 1.5 vehicles per household please. Employees should also be afforded parking, below street level.

Traffic barriers in place on LAkeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

We are an automobile based society

We are an automobile based society regardless of the method of propulsion; make charging stations available payable by bank card. The car park with Elizabeth on the east and John Street on the west should be a many level parking garage with retail shops and professional offices on the ground floor and second level, shops to be fronted on the streets mentioned above.

Maintain, if possible, the residential areas of old Burlington below Ghent Avenue; homes constructed post WWII, and occupied for the most part by baby boomers.

Keeping those aforementioned residences allows residents to walk to most locations; The Brant Street No Frills plaza needs to be retained; grocery outlets are few and far between in this City unless one has suitable transportation.

City sponsored transportation should have free Sundays and free all the time to seniors.
Ensure all of the provincial subsidy is used; smaller electric powered (solar?) buses with frequent service is required.

And if the current Provincial Premier wants to merge Oakville and Burlington to Hamilton, tell him he too could be voted out of office, sooner than later!

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward

My own thoughts on Meed-Ward: she will be a one term mayor, as were the two previous female mayors of Burlington.

She was wonderful as a Councillor however a mayor requires a whole different mindset.  She will stumble and in four years be out of office.

As for the other newly elected Councillors; being a ward Councillor requires time; time far beyond what the incumbents know. A Councillor is a 7/24/365 job; no rest during the four years; while  elected.

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Scobie wants to see respect in play at the city council table and a reversal of a rush to pass a flawed Official Plan.

opinionred 100x100By Gary Scobie

November 25th, 2018



There are two major issues need repair at City Hall.

First up is respect. That would encompass respect by members of Council for one another as well as respect by Council for citizens that come to City Hall to delegate their concerns. It is not a small matter to appear at Council with a prepared delegation text. It takes time and thought to prepare an argument for or against a motion and hopefully allow a better solution if there is one. The standard “Thank you for coming” response is quite a de-motivator for most citizens to ever think of appearing a second time.
I’m hoping a near total refresh of Council will start off respecting themselves and others. Citizens will be watching.

Second up is the attitude by the current Council (henceforth referred to as the old Council) of eight years that the Province alone is to blame for the over-intensification of downtown Burlington. No, the Province didn’t mandate 20 plus storey high rises on Brant and Martha Streets. The Council of 2005 accepted without a whimper the designations of Urban Growth Centre and Anchor Mobility Hub downtown. They both designate density targets within these overlapping zones, but not height. It was the developers, the Planning Department and in end the old Council that translated density over an area into one-off high rise buildings that each over-intensified the lot they sat on. It was and is the cumulative affect of adding tall buildings, without adequate parking, expanded roadways or inviting transit that will clog our streets for decades to come if it is unchecked by the new Council.

The old Council looked at the downtown as an infill area to intensify beyond targets, beyond our current Official Plan and against the wishes of the current residents. The Planning Department aided and abetted. The developers cheered. Building only for future residents without keeping in mind current residents is not a recipe for success, especially if future residents realize what a transportation-restrictive neighbourhood they have bought into to now become current residents.

The rush to pass a flawed Official Plan before the election put the icing on the cake for over-intensification. Most of the new Council ran on platforms against the new Official Plan over-development.

The new Council can talk to the Province about the two designations, can talk to the Region about the Official Plan and can talk to (and hopefully listen to this time) citizens who will accept moderate intensification and no more.

It may take longer than 100 days, but these are the issues that I would like the new Council to tackle.

Gary ScobieGary Scobie is a ward 3 resident who has delegated and usually gave more than he got from a Council that didn’t have much time for him He has served on Advisory Committees and has been active citizen by any standard.  In this photograph he is seen delegating before city council.

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Drummond: Doug Ford legislation takes away benefits from minimum wage earners.

opinionred 100x100By Andrew Drummond

November 24th, 2018



On Nov 21, the Ontario Government led by Doug Ford passed Bill 47, the so-called “Making Ontario Open For Business Act”, which cuts a number of worker protections in Ontario. It specifically:

– Allows an employer to force an employee to get a sick note if they take an unpaid sick day. It also allows the employer to force an employee to get a doctor’s note to explain a leave day taken to care for an ill family member

– Repeals the inclusion of step-brothers, step-sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces as people for whom you can take family leave or bereavement.

– Repeals the section of the Employment Standards Act that requires employees be paid equally for doing the same work

– Repeals the minimum wage increase scheduled for January 1, 2019

– Repeals any entitlement for employees to paid sick leave

The stated purpose of this Act is to increase Ontario’s competitiveness to attract and keep business. Premier Ford stated “Businesses tell us that job growth starts with cutting the burdensome, job-killing red tape that drives investment and jobs out of Ontario.” However, the question needs to be asked: If Ontario business is prospering so well, why do we need these changes that will fall most heavily on the backs of low income workers? From January to September 2018, Ontario has gained 122,700 jobs. Ontario’s unemployment level in 2018 has hit its lowest level since 2000. Why then do we need to hurt working people to give the corporate sector more money?

As detailed in an article in the Gazette in October, the minimum wage increase to $15/hr did not need to be halted. Burlington businesses have coped well with the increase to $14/hr and many of the minimum wage employers we have in this city are thriving with new ones opening all the time. There is no crisis in Burlington that required this draconian action.

Another key article of the Act is to remove an employee’s entitlement to 2 paid leave days a year. The Retail Council of Canada pushed Ford to do this with evidence such as “One employer noted that, as of August 31, 2018 (66% of the way through the year, calendar-wise), 57% of the yearly paid PEL eligibility had already been used by employees.” So the argument is essentially that because people are using most of their sick days they shouldn’t have them. How does that make sense? People get sick. People have sick children to care for. Ensuring that a low income mother doesn’t suffer financially for being ill seems like it should be in everyone’s interest.

Beyond stripping the two paid leave days, the government has also moved to restrict people’s ability to take UNPAID leave. Now for any leave (bereavement, Caring for an ill family member, personal illness) an employer can demand proof that the leave was required (i.e. a doctor’s note). The Canadian Medical Association among others has attacked this portion of the bill. Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the CMA pointed out “Requiring sick notes can introduce unnecessary public health risks; patients who would have otherwise stayed home may spread viruses or infection while out to get a sick note,”

Also, consider the local impact. There are only 9 walk-in clinics in Burlington and the majority of those close by 7pm with limited weekend hours. During the day, wait times can exceed 2 hours as the clinics are overloaded with people who actually need care and not just a note. Adding new people unnecessarily to those lines will hurt everyone in the city and reduce the impact of health care services across Burlington.

Then there is the cost. A doctor’s note for illness usually costs between $20-$30 at a walk-in clinic. The people Bill 47 is targeted at are workers at or around minimum wage. They typically cannot afford the loss of income with taking an unpaid day off. Now under the new legislation they will need to not only forgo that day’s wages, but if their employer demands a note, they will actually have to pay to be sick. This is not the way to help people on low incomes.

The last provision that will cause considerable hardship is repealing the requirement that people be paid equally for the same work. The RCC argues “While this sounds fine in theory, these provisions have thrown off numerous issues. The first of these is that there are very significant cost implications for retailers.”

Retailers will need to absorb a cost for paying their part time workers the same as their full time ones however, there needs to be consideration for what is fair. People should be paid for what work they are doing, and the existing rules still allowed different pay by seniority. The previous law was only protecting employees from being underpaid by arbitrary means.

In January of this year, labour law came into effect that significantly improved the lives of low income workers in Ontario. Over the time it was in place, Ontario gained large numbers of jobs and our economy is currently incredibly strong with record lows in unemployment. Despite that the Ford government felt it is necessary to change the laws in the hopes to drive job growth. In Burlington it’s clear that companies providing low wage jobs were not in crisis.

So, the question has to be asked again: Why do we need to hurt working people to give the corporate sector more money?

Andrew Drummond HeadshotAndrew Drummond was the New Democratic candidate for the Burlington seat in the provincial legislature last June when Doug Ford was made Premier and Jane McKenna was elected in Burlington.


Related news story:

Minimum wage earners  lost $1750.

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Rivers: Tight integration with the American economy run by a President we can't trust requires tough decisions.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 24th, 2018



The only similarity between the federal economic statement and the one Ontario announced last week was that neither has a plan to deal with their growing deficits. Canada’s debt as a percentage of its GDP is the second lowest among G7 countries – higher than Germany but lower than the USA and less than half of Japan’s numbers.

Canadian money concept

We cant just print the money we need.

Despite all the alarm-ism during the last election, Ontario’s debt compared to its GDP is quite a bit lower than that of our national government. But unlike a provinces, which can only control its levels of taxation and spending, the federal government also controls and/or influences interest rates, currency exchange rates and the money supply, including printing our money.

When Donald Trump cut US business taxes Canada had to respond or run the risk of watching new business investment move to larger markets south of the border. Canada has long had lower effective corporate taxation rates than the USA but that competitive advantage has now mostly vanished. And cutting corporate taxes to restore that advantage would have added tens of billions more to the deficit, making it a non-starter.

Trump tough glance

“America was no longer the fair-minded economic partner we had come to know.”

But it was really Trump’s trade policies that made our government sit up and take notice. America was no longer the fair-minded economic partner we had come to know. The painful process of renewing NAFTA, the unwarranted and costly tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the US role in slashing the price of Alberta oil required a new strategy – one of trade diversification.

For those who lived through the government of the first Trudeau this is a bout of deja vu. Pierre, faced with an unfriendly Nixon administration, developed what was called the ‘Third Option’ – hoping to diversify our dependency on trade away from the US. The Third Option, which also gave us our domestic metric system, largely failed as a trade strategy.

Britain was joining Europe which was itself pre-occupied resolving internal trade barriers, Japan was struggling with its identity as an emerging economic powerhouse, and China turned the tables on us making us trade-subservient to them. Then Richard and Pierre were replaced by Ronnie and Brian who bonded beautifully, and they buried what was left of the third option. Canada and US agreed to lower trade barriers in a process that eventually included Mexico in NAFTA, and the rest is history.

Can - USA economies

We are so tightly integrated to the American economy that it would be very difficult – if possible – to lessen that integration.

So today we are even more closely integrated into the US economy with three quarters of our exports and a third of our GDP tied to US markets. After all it is so much simpler to just load a truck and drive it across the border than to be bothered shipping overseas to foreigners. We share a common culture and language (except for Quebec), and the US is a prime travel destination for Canadians looking to escape the cold, making us sometimes more American than the Americans.

But we do pay a price when it comes to national identity, and in the end we can find ourselves alone, being bullied by our major economic partner who thinks it has found its own third or fourth option – the nationalist cry of America First. We have since negotiated a number of other so-called free trade agreements, most importantly with Europe (CETA) and also Asia and the Antipodes (CPTPP,) so it is time we put our money where our mouths are on trade diversification.

But it will take some money to restructure our economy onto more of an export footing. The goal of boosting Canada’s overseas exports by 50 per cent by 2025, will not be met just by accelerated depreciation, but it is a good start. And the business community, manufacturing in particular, is besides itself with praise of this mini-budget. For once they are not complaining about a growing budgetary deficit.

Increased manufacturing would enable Canada to better diversify its exports beyond our current raw materials mix, and may also lead to greater import substitution – though that is not the stated goal. Almost as a footnote, companies investing in clean energy production also get this break.

And just to be fair, other businesses will also be entitled to an accelerated depreciation though at a lower rate. Depreciation rates will be raised from four to twelve percent for a pipeline company, for example. And where is our pipeline is the lament of the Alberta oil industry and its government?

oil tank cars

The Alberta government wants the federal government to help pay for oil tankers – Ottawa hasn’t said yes to that request.

They were disappointed that the federal government didn’t pamper them by supporting the price of oil in this budget, or offer to pay for more rail cars – after it had already bought a pipeline company. Perhaps Mr. Trudeau was concerned that he’d be accused of starting a national energy program? And besides how could he reconcile a subsidy for oil when the government is imposing a carbon tax?

The federal government is also planning to redirect and speed up some of its planned funding for the national infrastructure program into marine ports, roads and railways to expedite overseas trading opportunities. And yes this throws last election’s deficit targets into the toilet not that Mr. Trudeau was on the road to balance the budget next year anyway.

There is no guarantee even if Trump is defeated in the next federal election that Democrats would not be just as protective when it come to trade. In fact there have already been rumblings from the new Congress-elect that they will want to re-examine USMCA. One has only to recall how the Canada-friendly Obama administration implemented a “Buy American” clause in the US stimulus package as he undertook to fight the 2008/2009 recession.

Conventional wisdom is that you run a deficit in a recession and a surplus in good times. The Liberals are making the case that, given the deficits in our economic infrastructure, there is no better time to invest than when the economy is booming and the money is rolling in. After all, how prudent would it be to balance our federal budget for the short run only to forego investing to make our economy viable for the longer run?

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:

Countries by Debt –     Fall Economic Statement –     Canada’s Economy

Business Reaction –     Third Option –     50% Export Growth

Manufacturers Happy –     Will it Work

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Can the residents of this city make a Mayor out of Marianne Meed Ward or will she become a one term wonder?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2019



In December of 2014, the city council that was first elected in 2010 sat behind a table on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre waiting to be sworn in. his was the first time the swearing in ceremony took place at that venue.

Trumpeters from the Burlington Teen Tour Band were in the gallery to the left of the stage; the sound of blaring trumpets heralded the event.

While the council being sworn on December 2014 was a repeat of what residents elected in 2010 there was still some electricity in the air.

As each member of Council was announced, after they had been sworn in, the applause for Marianne Meed Ward was just that much louder, lasted just that much longer than the applause for anyone else on that stage. If two people had stood up and shouted “bravo” and clapped loudly I swear she would have gotten a standing ovation.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Marianne Med Ward at the Polish Hall on election night

Mayor Goldring may not have recognized what was going on but the 2018 election campaign had begun.
On Monday, December 3rd, Meed Ward will be recognized as Mayor and the trumpets will blare. The Meed Ward supporters will see this as the beginning of a new dawn.

It is far too early to tell if Marianne Meed Ward is going to grow into a great Mayor. There are still a lot of people out there that do not wish her well.

She is going to have to work with five people who have never served on anything that has had input into city policy considerations. Angelo Beneventigna is familiar with a lot of the people at city hall and has more in the way of understanding as to how the city works than most of the others.

What Beneventigna has to figure out and realize is that he wasn’t elected to be a “friend” of those who handle the day to affairs of the city but to assure that they are always accountable to council and to the wider public they serve.

Meed Ward will be something of a den mother for the first 18 months.

Paul Sharman, a man that Rick Goldring once said was the best strategic thinker he has ever met, will be sitting on the same stage.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during the 2011 Strategy Planning sessions.

Sharman will be the odd man out on this council. He brings a reputation for abrasiveness and a tendency to be abrupt with people. He is more comfortable getting his own way.

When he became BFF (Best Friends Forever) with Councillor Craven there was little hope of there being much in the way of collaboration. Sharman consistently referred to Meed Ward’s “ideology” which wasn’t one he shared. He was more comfortable with his own. The Gazette began to refer to Sharman as “Mr. Data”; he always wanted more data. Over time we realized that the request for more data meant that Sharman didn’t have to make a decision.

Goldring saw Sharman as the best strategic thinker he had ever met – We won’t test the veracity of that statement. However, Paul Sharman does come at what he does from a strategic perspective.


Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

In 2010, to the surprise of many and shock to others, he fist nominated himself for Mayor. When Rick Goldring filed nomination papers for the office of Mayor, Sharman muffled his ambitions, withdrew the nomination for Mayor and nomination himself for the ward 5 council seat that Goldring was vacating.

Meed Ward needs Paul Sharman to get through the first 18 months. He is the only person on the new Council that can get a budget passed. He might even manage to somehow produce a budget with a 0% increase. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in city reserve accounts; – Sharman knows those accounts better than any of the newbies..

Could he find a way to loosen up some of that money?

The option the LaSalle PArk MArina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due MArch 2013.

Funds to pay for the break water barrier were found – all the city had to do was raid the Hydro Reserve fund.

If the outgoing council could find a way to use $4 million plus that was in the Hydro Reserve find for the breakwater facility at the LaSalle Park Marina – Paul Sharman can find a way to wiggle some funds out of other reserve accounts.  This of course will drive the Director of Finance bananas – that department likes nice thick reserves earning solid interest for the city.

Many people are watching how Meed Ward handles herself in the first 18 months. The people she took political power from are quite willing to see her fall on her face.

The pressure will be immense, which will be nothing new to Meed Ward. The current council has bullied and harassed this woman for the past eight years. Some of the behaviour bordered on the kind of thing you report to authorities that can take corrective action and ensure that there is due process.

Her council colleagues were not the only level that harassed Meed Ward; the failures in the Clerk’s department are legion.

Meed Ward tried hard to establish a good working relationship with Mary Lou Tanner when she was first appointed as the Director of Planning. Her efforts didn’t take.

In the months ahead, expect Councillor Sharman to go into his “smarmy” mode and do his best to charm the newcomers. He has reached out to all of them.

He will sit and wait patiently and should Meed Ward not be up to the job she has taken on – Paul Sharman will try to convince the city that he can do the job – for he was the best strategic thinker Rick Goldring had ever met.

Red jacket at city hall

The mandate is thin – the hope runs very deep.

Meed Ward’s mandate is thin. However, she has the goodwill and high hopes of many of the people who want to see the core values that are Burlington be recognized, kept and built upon.

Too early to tell if the battle lines for the 2022 election are drawn.

For her fans, and her supporters – stop lauding and convincing yourselves she can walk on water.  What Marianne Meed Ward needs is to be held accountable day in and day out.

In 2014 she asked people to trust her – they did and she changed the way the city operates.

She will need that trust going forward.

Related news stories:

The day city council beat up Marianne Meed Ward

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A financial update that forgot about the environment - without it, nothing else matters.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 20th, 2018



They’re calling it an ‘economic outlook and fiscal review’. After all it’s been less than six months since Ford rode his big blue machine into the premier’s office. But it’s clear from this economic statement that his team hasn’t yet sorted out all its priorities, even as the brain trust tries to deliver on some of the promises from the election campaign.

The deficit was just one of Ford’s prime promises, and the PC’s s have managed to wrestle it down by a whacking half billion dollars to a mere $14.5 billion. Of course the deficit would be even lower had Ford just accepted the auditor general’s estimate rather than creating his own numbers. But it makes better politics if you can claim you inherited a huge deficit.

And what we are seeing of the accounting is a little confusing because Ford’s finance minister, Vic Fedeli, insists that they actually saved the taxpayers over three billion dollars. He is obviously referring to the price of the environmental programs his government killed. But getting rid of ‘cap and trade’ also killed the goose that laid the golden egg which funded those green initiatives.

Money in your pocket

The statement is pretty clear. Is it the direction the Ontario economy should be going in?

Conservatives are about nothing if not cutting taxes. And Ford, true to his word, has run up half billion dollars of new debt by providing a tax credit for those earning less than $30,000. This credit, called LIFT, is being sold as an alternative to allowing the minimum wage to rise to $15. But nobody is buying that since two thirds of workers in that income range already don’t pay any taxes. And allowing minimum wages to rise wouldn’t have increased the deficit.

He is also dabbling in trickle down economics by killing the income surtax for the wealthiest in Ontario – those earning more than $300,000. Tax cuts at the top and bottom mean that the middle class will need to make up the difference eventually – subsidizing everyone else.

And while the government may take credit for a four cent gas pump price drop, that should be kept in context. Market forces alone have reduced prices by over 25 cents from earlier this year, and those forces may just as easily reverse direction into the future. And then an imminent federal carbon tax will cost at least another four more cents.


A program that will last less than a year. Very tough on those that lose the benefit.

Perhaps the biggest cost saving in this mini-budget actually comes from dropping the universality of the ‘OHIP plus’ drug plan, excluding those with an existing private health plan. Clearly this was something the previous Liberal government could have done and it is a good example of the kind of efficiency Ford had presumably been talking about. Education spending appears to not have been touched and health spending has increased ever so slightly, helping Ford keep his promise of providing more beds.

The government is taking heat for terminating three oversight agencies which monitored francophone rights, child care and the environment. Despite promises to continue to deliver this oversight through the auditor general or ombudsman offices, it is unlikely the Environmental Bill of Rights will survive. And there is a double whammy for Franco-Ontario residents as a French language university proposed for Toronto is also canned. That is on top of the three satellite university campuses Ford has already chopped.

Government employees and civil servants take part in a demonstration against the Spanish government's latest austerity measures, in the center of Madrid, on November 16, 2012. Spain announced on November 15, 2012 it has moved into a second year of a job-killing recession, a day after millions joined anti-austerity strikes and vast protests. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Is never cutting costs good financial stewardship?

Overall this mini-budget is about austerity as the government looks into the nooks and crannies of its programs to save some tax payer dollars. Of course much of those saving will end up funding the PCs own priorities, like the tax cuts and the senseless fight with the federal government over the carbon tax – which legal experts expect them to lose. A hiring freeze has also helped keep the cost of government down, although Ontario already had the lowest provincial public sector costs per capita in Canada.

And the overall effect of the budget will be contractionary at a time when Ontario is likely nearing the end of its economic boom cycle. Cutting the renewable energy and energy retro-fit programs, formerly a key growth area, will hurt all the working people that Ford keeps promising to help. Trickle down tax cuts for the rich never pay for themselves in increased economic activity and serve more as drain than an economic pump. Finally, the lower income tax cuts pale compared to the economic spending power of a $15 minimum wage for those who spend everything they earn.

But, Ford did deliver on his Buck a Beer promise – sort of.

If this budget was intended to stimulate growth and employment it is a failure. And despite the rhetoric and hype, Ford is pretty much retaining most of the previous government’s initiatives, even if that means turning what he called a Liberal mess into a PC mess.

Except when it comes to the environment! The often promised new climate change plan is nowhere in evidence and if it ever does arrive may likely surface as a piece of tokenism – like a page from the former Harper federal government’s playbook on the environment. But we should remain optimistic.

Climate change fire

Catastrophic fires in California are now an annual thing.

Climate change waves

Flooding on the east coasts and hurricanes that demolish communities are now part of the hurricane season.

For a budget which does so little, especially even it comes to the deficit, its pictorial presentation as a comic book almost seems appropriate. But there are serious issues facing the province and one of the most critical is nowhere to be seen, not even in the closing statement… “We gladly tighten our own belts now, knowing that it will provide this generation and future ones with the secure, prosperous future they deserve.”

What good is it to balance the books when the very planet our lives and livelihood depend on is in peril?

Notably absent from Ford’s mini-budget is any attempt to mitigate the province’s contribution to global warming. That is no less serious a public concern than the debt, especially for Ontario’s youth. But at least we can take comfort from the immediate extension of liquor store hours and the upcoming whacky weed stores next year.

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:

Mini-Budget –     Cutting Oversight –    More Cutting

Even More Cuts –     Environmental Commissioner

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Fiorito wants to see attention paid to getting lids on Blue Boxes and a ravine management program.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department and worried about annual tax increases of around 4% annually.  Here is what Vince Fiorito thought.

By Vince Fiorito
November 20th, 2018

Congratulations to Burlington’s elected City Councillors and Mayor! May you govern wisely for our community’s benefit!

Rules of engagement graphic

These were the rules Mayor Elect used at her ward meetings. The city adopted them for city wide use.

Your First 100 Days sets the tone with constituents, city staff and various interest groups. Please treat everyone with dignity and respect to foster a cooperative, collaborative environment at city hall. You never know who can help or hurt you, including former political rivals, their supporters and the person who waters the plants in your office? Why the plant person? They overhear conversations as they water plants and know much more than they let on; same with the person who empties the trash. I recommend you get to know “everyone” at city hall.

We need a Mayor at the helm with all Councillors rowing in the same direction to make progress on important issues. I recommend all Councillors fly their ideas by the Mayor first before making public pronouncements.

Within the first 100 days, everyone must have a firm understanding of how the city collects and spends our money. I recommend an independent audit of city finances to establish baselines to measure improvements, as well as identify past poor decisions, waste and mismanagement.

You have a mandate to change the city Official Plan and solve traffic congestion problems. Please design our city to accommodate walking, biking, taxis (fleet owned autonomous vehicles), public transit and delivery vehicles. Make developers accommodate and pay for their fair share of improvements which increase property values.

All new development must prioritize creating affordable, accessible housing for seniors living on fixed incomes and millennials moving out of their parent’s basement.

We need to reform our electoral system to make every vote count, even when 11 candidates run against each other.

Sheldon Creek - farm equipment + Vince

Vince Fiorito with a piece of equipment that got dumped into the Sheldon Creek ravine.

On the environmental front we need:
• lids on Blue Boxes
• a city wide tree by-law
• a plan to relocate the Aldershot Quarry
• a ravine management policy
• a biodiversity and endangered species management policy
• an invasive species management policy
• a recognized right to know about local pollution sources
• a program that makes polluters pay for improvements to the ecological systems that clean our air, purify our water and producing uncontaminated food

Vince FitorioVince Fiorito, a ward 5 resident and an acknowledged expert on invasive species and local environmental issues.  He was named the Sheldon Creek Steward by Conservation Halton

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Bridging the gaps between those who won and those who lost during the election is job #1 for Mayor Elect Meed Ward.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2018



With Thanksgiving and Halloween behind us the next holiday Season has to be Christmas.

How do you know it is here? Check out the mall parking lots. Or look for the community Christmas trees that are going up.

Aldershot tree 2

It looks as if Aldershot was the first community to erect a ward level Christmas tree.

Aldershot appears to be the first ward in the city to put up a tree. Mayor Elect is doing the right thing early in the game – getting out with people in Aldershot, wrapping her arms around the shoulders of the ward election winner and the second place candidate – the job now is to pull the community together and show them how people can work collaboratively and cooperate.

MMW with Kelvin and Judy W

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward with Kelvin Galbraith, elected to represent ward 1 and Judy Worsley who placed second. Hopefully Worsley will stay in with the Aldershot BIA.

Some questions that come to mind?
The new council will be sworn in on Monday December 3rd at 6:30 pm at the Performing Arts Centre. When the event took place in 2014 there was a motivational speaker – Ron Foxcroft did the honours then.

Does the Mayor Elect have any say in who that speaker should be? And if she does who should Marianne Meed Ward choose to address the audience? Who is there out that that has the kind of public profile needed to attract attention and who has a message that will represent what Meed Ward wants her council to stand for and someone who will resonant with the audience.

Ken Greenberg was in Burlington a couple of years ago with a strong message on how municipal governments can build community. He is one the better recognized planners in the country – speaks around the world.

If Jane Jacobs were alive she would have been a natural.

The decisions Meed Ward makes in this first hundred days are vital to both bridge the gaps that exist between those who won and those who lost and at the same time send a message – this is who we are and this is what we want to do.

Deliver that message with strength, humility and a tablespoon of kindness.

Outgoing Mayor Rick Goldring made it clear that if called upon for advice he would be available; Meed Ward would be wise to lunch with him several times during at least her first year in office.

Sometime in the near future she will announce who will staff her office.  The person she chooses as Chief of Staff, assuming she retains that position, will be interesting.

Meed Ward set out a part of her agenda when she used a point of privilege at the final meeting of the current municipal government to make it clear that personal attacks were no longer going to be tolerated.

She said:

Meed ward election night 1

It started at the Polish Hall on election night: where it goes – only time will tell. There were a lot of high hopes in that hall.

Meed Ward said “it was very unfortunate that a member made comments that were a personal attack. .

“We have seen enough of that.

“We saw it during the election

“We see it around this table

“It is a new day

“This stops here

“It stops tonight

“The new council will have respect for each other.

“Respect for the people and respect for staff”

Meed Ward has let the city know some of what she stands for; she has been applauded for not letting this slide by.

Related news story:

A strong statement was made: This stops now.

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Don Fletcher suggests the new city council ask the Region to send the proposed Official Plan back so that it can be re-written.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

They get sworn in on December 3rd.  There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; with the thinking  coming out of the Planning department and worried about 4% tax increases.   People voted for a new path to get the city out of the rut many feel it is in.

By Don Fletcher
November 18th, 2018

“What a great initiative!

Asking for engaged citizens’ ideas, prior to the swearing in of our new Council.

While not original, I think the primary objective of the new Council has to be to “fix” our proposed Official Plan.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageBy “fix”, I mean to retract from the Halton Region’s inbox our current proposal, and in particular, modify and resubmit a downtown plan (with community support) to be a mid-rise (4-8 storey) community, as opposed to the proposed high-rise ( 14- 25 storey) alternative.



1) This is what our Mayor-elect Marianne Meed Ward campaigned on. Trust needs to be restored.

2) The urgency of the submission was self-imposed and the Region will understand, given the “sea change” based on this issue at City Hall.

3) It’s what most engaged citizens want, because they felt that they were being ignored with its’ hasty approval. It became an “election issue”, maybe the central one.

4) It will unquestionably be the “elephant in the room” with all other matters. Deal with it upfront!

5) The developers need certainty with what is permissible in making future investments.

6) LPAT, unlike its’ predecessor OMB, treats the Official Plan as an enforceable criterion (I.e. teeth).

7) The Official Plan has longevity, unlike many of us.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Okay.   So nothing radically new there!

I would like to add a “how” we could do this..

Relationship is the medium for results and accomplishments.

I learned this as an executive of a $5B successful Canadian public corporation.

We have a largely new Council with a current understanding of what the residents want, and a staff that mistakenly thought they did.

I’m not a big fan of the one employee of Council, City Manager construct, with all of its’ implications.  It feels as though we, the citizens through their representatives, are having our input constricted through a straw.

I recommend that the new Council convene an offsite (3-day) planning session, with all the functional heads in the administration (including the City Manager) at City Hall, to work through the City’s values, objectives and plans. A derivative benefit of such a meeting would be to begin developing those relationships needed to move the City forward and in a positive direction.

I know of a few very capable facilitators who could help.

What should I be paid for this idea?

A seat at the offsite meeting table. After all, I am a management consultant.”

Don Fletcher is a downtown Burlington resident who has been a city council watcher for some time.  Before retirement he was a senior vice president with a public Canadian company in the communications and entertainment field.

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It was a council that was mean spirited and divisive right up to the end. Jack Dennison showed that he never did understand what elections are all about.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 16th, 2018



It was the last meeting of a city council first elected eight years ago.

It took place in make-shift space while a refurbished council chamber was being completed next door. Seen as a “lame duck” municipal government with a mandate that had mere weeks left, it was still fractional, and unable to work as a cohesive whole.

Council meetings traditionally end with members of Council speaking to concerns in their wards. In this instance they all chose to speak of their achievements during the eight years they served the public.

The Strategic Plans, which up until this council was first elected, were traditionally the plan that a Council was set for the four year term.

In 2011 city council decided to create a 25 year Strategic Plan that they expected other councils to follow. New city councils are not obliged to stick to that Plan created in 2011.

The Official Plan got sent off to the Region where it has to be approved to ensure that the city’s OP fits with the Regional OP. The problem with that is most of the newly elected council didn’t buy into the OP that was passed against the objections of the vast majority of the 30 + people who delegated before city council earlier in the year. That story isn’t over yet.

City manager James Ridge was absent; the city staff position, delivered by Deputy City Manager Mary Lou Tanner, was that council and staff had worked very well together.

If one were to define the issues that motivated many of those who elected a new municipal government, the disrespect many people felt the council had for the people who were delegating and the degree to which council relied on Staff reports that. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and now Mayor Elect consistently pushed staff for answers. The other members of Council, for the most part, accepted the reports. Mayor Goldring did get better at asking questions during his second term.

It was clear to anyone watching the web cast that John Taylor is going to miss being a city Councillor. It had become the focus of his life – he is literally counting the days until he has to give up his parking spot and turn in his security pass – they will probably let him keep the one he has. Expect him to be on the phone on December 3rd, trying to resolve an issue for someone.  He said that being a city councillor was the :“Best job I ever had.”

Councillor Lancaster told her colleagues that the event she will remember most is the occasion when she repelled down the side of a 26 story tower.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison wasn’t quite ready to give up his job or accept the fact that he lost his election.

He had the temerity to say that: “A portion of my traditional support was taken away by the vote Marianne Team and my opponent with non-factual information with the result that the enjoyable honour I have had of serving my constituents and the city is over. I guess I am not too young to retire. See you around.”

It was a stunning, totally ungracious comment made at the last sitting of the current council at city hall.

The Dennison comments were followed by a few words from Councillor Lancaster who said the event she remembers most fondly was the day she repelled down the side of a 26 story building. Not sure where the value to the public was in that event.

Mayor Goldring closed out the comments by talking about what he felt had been achieved during the eight years he was the Chief Magistrate.

Mayor elect Meed Ward began to respond to the Dennison comment when the Mayor pointed out that comments were not debatable. Meed Ward replied that she wanted to make a”point of privilege” which the Mayor didn’t fully understand and turned to the Clerk for direction.

Meed Ward said she could help the Clerk and read out the section of the Procedural by law that states when the integrity, character or reputation of a member is made a “point of privilege” allows the member to draw attention to the remarks and the member has the right to respond.

She then proceeded to make the point that was really what the election was all about.

Meed Ward said “it was very unfortunate that a member made comments that were a personal attack. .

“We have seen enough of that.

“We saw it during the election

“We see it around this table

“It is a new day

“This stops here

“It stops tonight

“The new council will have respect for each other.

“Respect for the people and respect for staff”

It was a blunt direct statement from a woman who had to put up with at times disgraceful behavior on the part of every member of council.

No more.

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Young on the first 100 days: Give the new city council some time to breath.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

They get sworn in on December 3rd – tell us what you think has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in.

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department and worried about annual tax increases of around 4%

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.


By Jim Young
November 15th, 2018

The first thing Burlington has to do is to breathe. Everybody just take a deep breath. We have voted to change council in a massive way that has replaced not only most of the Councillors, but hopefully has transformed the viewpoints and attitudes that previously prevailed. We, and they, now need a little time to digest this.

If I have learned only one thing in my years of committee involvement and delegation at City Hall; it is that municipal politics move slowly and when we consider the importance of city actions and decisions that is probably a good thing. So where is the need to rush?

On October 23rd, we awoke to a new mayor, five brand new city and regional Councillors and one returned incumbent. Our new mayor is smart, savvy and brings eight years’ experience on council to her new role. But, with the utmost respect and support for her, she needs time to adjust to her new role which I have no doubt she will accomplish.

Our new Councillors need time to get their feet under the table, understand their new roles and some of the procedures and protocols of the job. Even the returning Councillor Sharman may need time to adjust to a new and very different council in which he may now find his views in the minority.

Individually we may have voted for or against them but they are now our democratically elected City Council and, as such, deserve our backing and support, at least until we get an honest and reasonable opportunity to judge them in action. Let us not rush to criticize or condemn.

City staff also need time to adjust to their new reality too. If our new Councillors hold true to their promises of change, this will create a seismic shift in many of the directions they have been following up until now.

Like a large ship, any city needs time to change course. This is not a time for recriminations or wholesale staff changes. We need an orderly transition to the new citizen/city paradigm we have been promised.

Our Regional Councillors will do almost anything for a photo-op; this time they are showing you the new 2 gallon blue boxes.

Regional Councillors displaying the new 2 gallon blue boxes. They have one more meeting as a Regional government before their term of office ends.

Perhaps more important than the first 100 days of the new council are the few remaining days of the outgoing council. Until the new Councillors officially take their seats on December 3rd, we are at the mercy of outgoing City Councillors who also double as Regional Councillors. This leaves them with a major say in the Regional Adoption of the New Official Plan which the majority of them favoured but was the main reason so many of them are no longer city Councillors.

We must demand that they accept that the people have spoken finally and emphatically against the adoption of The New Official Plan and conduct themselves accordingly. For them to vote at the Region to adopt the Plan, while perfectly legal, would be morally repugnant and an act of unparalleled vindictiveness on their part.

The outgoing Regional Council should must defer to the clearly voted wishes of the people of Burlington. They have spoken and deserve that the outgoing council take the high road on this matter.

Meantime let us not rush to oppose our new batch of city Councillors or demand immediate answers to long term issues but support them in their transition and give them the opportunity to live up to their promises.

We elected them, let them prove themselves worthy. In order to do that they need and deserve a little breathing room.

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Richards: City Staff at all levels should be put on notice by this new Council that they are there to serve to Citizens and not the other way around.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

They get sworn in on December 3rd – tell us what you think has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in.

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department and worried about annual tax increases of around 4%

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.

Krista Richards doesn’t see much that she likes at city hall.

By Krista Richards
November 13th, 2018

This election we almost got a full clean sweep of council.  That is a huge message for this new council.


Lori Jivan, Acting coordinator of budget and policy patiently leads people through an explanation of the budget and the workbook the city created.

Hitting the ground running is an understatement.  The most obvious thing to deal with is the new budget.  And more to it,  how the City treats the taxpayers and Citizens of Burlington with how they spend our money.

In the past 4 years,  City Hall including past council, spent money recklessly on “nice to haves”,  3rd party contractors,  and consultants that even a high schooler could see was a waste of money.   Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs John Q Taxpayer had  City Staffers  (NOT ALL OF THEM), ignoring emails, phone calls, lying to residents, and giving favors to their friends.    And yet, no transit plan (8 years that has been talked about), infracture is horrible,  the OP,  etc etc etc.  This HAS TO STOP.

The most direct way, to start to right the ship…… control the money!   Control departmental spending, 3rd party contractors rebilling for the same job 3 times because they messed up.  Stop hiring consultants who are friends of a friend.    These few examples of  reckless spending, goes hand in hand with the Citizens of Burlington being treated like persons of servitude.   There is a great deal of money that could easily be trimmed from the budget with no loss of service.  In some respect,  services could be increased if someone actually put some effort into their department(s).

Ridge 4

City manager James Ridge

City Staff at all levels should be put on notice by this new Council that they are there to serve to Citizens and not the other way around.   New Council should be going through old budgets NOW line by line, and not just trust the staffers on what they say.  There is a lot of smoke in those lines.   While doing so,  this will send a clear message for the City Manager and staff to wake up and do their jobs, if not a lot of dead weight, bad attitude paycheck collectors needs to leave.  Making room for people honestly get what public service means and want to do it well.

The Citizens of Burlington voted for change.  We need fiscal, ethical and moral responsibility at City Hall.    If this new council accomplishes this very thing, it wont be easy but they will be well on their way to doing exactly what we elected them to do.



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Hersh: resident involvement is essential if anything is to be achieved in the first 100 days.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

The Councillors  gets sworn in on December 3rd – what has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in ?

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; even unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department.

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.

By Penny Hersh
November 12th, 2018

City election logoThe residents voted in a new council with the mandate for change. Will it be what residents expect in what they perceive as a reasonable time frame? That is yet to be determined.

In response to this request and because Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB feels that resident involvement is essential I asked the seniors who attend the current events class I am a part of for their input.

In no particular order this is what was expressed.

– Get control over development.

– Culture change at City Hall – Council needs to direct staff, not the other way around.

– Council needs to stop depending solely on Staff Reports.

– Council needs to work with the Provincial Government – Regarding” Places to Grow” and the demands put on Municipalities to reach the mandated target set out for them.

– Council Meetings should take place throughout the City not only at City Hall. Parking is a problem downtown, and if the meetings take place during the day there is a parking fee.

– Town Hall Meetings – to explain in “layman’s language” what is happening. Telling people to go to the City’s website is not the answer.

– Newsletters from Councillors that do more than just detail events happening in their wards. High praise for Marianne Meed Ward’s “ A Better Burlington”.

– City needs to hire a Public Relations firm to make Municipal Politics “resident friendly”.

City Hall BEST aerial

Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

The change Burlington needs requires commitment from City Hall and the citizens of Burlington alike, and it needs to start now. Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

To be part of this change ECoB is asking residents to participate in the resident ward level committees that are being formed. More information can be found on our website Engagedburlington.ca To sign up email us at info@engagedburlington.ca and make your ward level committee a success.


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Rutherford: audit planning staff, evaluate previous recommendations and educate planners.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the city needs to go in its first 100 days.

The new city council gets sworn in on December 3rd – what has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in?

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department.

Here is what Kevin Rutherford thought could be done and should be done.

By Kevin Rutherford
November 12th, 2018

1. Perform audits of planning staff and City manager to evaluate the performance of previous planning recommendations. Staff recommendations are wildly different depending on the planner on file, they need to reign this in and provide a consistent message and approach. Performance should also be evaluated based on the time spent reviewing applications and whether they completed the recommendation within the 120 day window, failure to do so allowed the National Homes Developer on Brant Ave to file an appeal and with the Georgina Court Development it forced council to make a decision in haste because of fear of litigation from the developer because they were at roughly 390 days.

2. Come up with a plan on engaging residents more in development plans, and earlier in the game, and treat residents with respect when they are engaged. Current meetings are essentially about checking a box in the process rather than actually engaging with residents.

Parking sign3. Scrap or re-visit the City-wide parking review. They are reducing the parking spaces required for developments creating massive parking issues. The reality is that adult children are living at home longer so more spaces are needed, not less. The justification for their plan is that they want to eliminate cars from the roads and force people to take transit etc… I am sorry I manage rail/transit engineering projects and Burlington needs massive investment before any of their objectives will ever work and in the meantime residents will continue to struggle. In areas of the city where they are exploring street parking permits is just a cash grab and not proper planning.

4. Educate planning staff on the current OP, PPS, Places to grow act etc… They are submitting recommendations that do not comply either due to incompetence or insufficient education. I agree they need to try to ensure they meet the conditions of these plans/policy, they do not seem to understand the basic principles. Even when mistakes are found, they still defend their decisions and fight, forcing developers or residents to file LPAT appeals.

Keith Rutherford is a Senior Project Manager, managing Rail & Transit engineering projects. He is also the individual leading the LPAT appeal for the Georgina Court (Upper Middle Enclave) residents. He reports that “We just received responses from the City staff on our appeal synopsis and record that we submitted and they are still digging in and standing their ground essentially “sucking and blowing” in their response on the issue items.

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Alan Harrington wants to see something done with the city's brand and the fire damaged property south of the QEW in the first 100 days of the new municipal government.

100 daysWith a new municipal government getting ready to assume power the question is – what will they do first?

What are the big issues?

We asked the readers of the Gazette what they thought the new council should attempt to get done in its first hundred days.

Here are some of their thoughts.

By Alan Harrington
November 9th, 2018

One Burlington issue that irks me and the community is the horrid “Welcome to Burlington” sign that greets a million drivers heading into the city on the QEW westbound.

It looks like a town that hasn’t put any effort into its brand for 30+ years.

The “O” is shaped like a sliced egg with a sulfur smell.

Paletta from hwy

The severely damaged Paletta property on the south side of the QEW at Appleby Line.

And speaking of stink… what is our Councillor doing about the burned out meat factory sitting on QEW and Appleby? This neglected piece of property looks like an abandoned third-world-country war zone. It’s sat like this for a year now as of December 6th.

Does the city like the image of a city that doesn’t care how it looks to the millions of drivers that pass through each day?

Alan Harrington feels like a resident tortured in the Orchard.


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Fred Crockett wants to ensure that Council doesn't try to micromanage everything during the first 100 days.

100 daysWith a new municipal government getting ready to assume power the question is – what will they do first?

What are the big issues?

We asked the readers of the Gazette what they thought the new council should attempt to get done in its first hundred days.

Here are some of their thoughts.

By Fred Crockett
November 9th, 2018

Residents want their municipal authority to take care of day to day services on a responsible budget, prudently set aside reserve funds for major capital works, handle emergency services, establish a reasonable planning structure, and to do so in a manner that is respectful to those residents, staff, fellow Councillors, and the broader public.

They do not want a Council that seeks to micromanage everything, and views activities as ego-boosting shenanigans so as to foster perpetual re-election. This past vote showed that some 60% of the electorate was jaundiced by the previous structure, and the rest chose to bounce most of the incumbents.

City hall - older picCouncil is not measured by the individual accomplishments or goals of its members, but rather by the quality of its collective judgement. Competent and properly paid staff exist to perform the necessary tasks, to provide advice to Council, and to support the policy decisions made by elected representatives.

Within its first 100 days, the new council should reinforce a meaningful code of conduct, pass a responsible budget, support a functional transit system, and revise the pending planning conundrum, all in the interests of the residents.

Fred Crockett is a Burlington based real estate broker.

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Elections matter - the provincial election took $1750 out of the pockets of those earning a minimum wage.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 6th, 2018



For the 60% of the people in Burlington who didn’t vote – a message. Elections matter!

For the 60% that didn’t vote in the provincial election – a message. Elections matter!

What difference would it have made to me some will ask?

For those people who have to work at the minimum wage level here is how it matters.


The Liberal government that was in office (By the way they deserved to lose) had a program that increased that minimum wage to $14 an hour last January and had planned on an increase to $15 an hour this January.

The government you elected four months ago cancelled that program.

Assume that the person being paid the minimum wage was working 35 hours a week and assume that they worked for 50 weeks in the year they would have received $1750 more in 2019.

That’s not an in-substantial amount for people who earn a minimum wage.

When Doug Ford was running for Premier of the province he didn’t tell anyone he planned on scaling back that planned increase. We suspect that very few minimum wage people thought anything about it.

The point is – who governs us as a society matters.

Parents might want to mention that to the children that are still living at home because they can’t afford to rent a place they can afford. For many of them they will never be able to buy a home.

Things were different for their grandparents – they probably voted.

The drive in the United States today will be to get people out to vote in what is going to be one of the most important elections to take place in the United States in decades.

What does that mean for Canada, Ontario or Burlington? We won’t know until the election results are in. If nothing changes – you can be assured of one thing – none of it will be good for us.

Elections matter!

How we got to this point as a society is troubling – the answer to that question is you just didn’t give a damn.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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What will the Mayor Elect have on her desk when she assumes office on December 3rd?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2018



The bigger picture.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward has been meeting with the newly elected Council members to hear what they would like to achieve in the next four years and at the same time organizing her own agenda and figuring out what has to be done and when.

She will have to decide who is going to work with her when she becomes Mayor, she has that figured out; then she has to get the council ready to tackle the budget and help her colleagues make city council work.

Those are the local issues.

She has to then think through what she wants to have in the way of a relationship with the provincial government that she doesn’t share a political philosophy with nor does she have the same political temperament.

Click to view report

Getting some changes in the Places to Grow program and a strong relationship with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and reaching out to other municipal Mayors are just the beginning.

A much bigger issue is: Will there be a Burlington come 2022 when this council will return to the electors for a second mandate? Burlington was incorporated as a village in 1872, and erected into a town in 1915 and became a city in 1974.

When current Mayor Rick Goldring met with the Ministry during the municipal election, along with several other Mayors wanting to begin a discussion about Places to Grow, Goldring went rogue and mentioned to the Minister that he had his eye on Waterdown and wanted to talk about an annexation.

Goldring didn’t inform Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger what he had in mind.

Eisenberger, who did get himself re-elected, was pretty direct when he said he thought the idea was a flyer crafted on the back of a napkin.

doug-ford-1The province has changed the make-up of several Regional governments. In that announcement Doug Ford said:

“For too long (Toronto) city council has failed to act on the key issues facing Toronto. Less Councillors will mean a more efficient government, and more action on key issues like transit, housing and infrastructure,” Ford said in his statement released earlier.

“I promised to reduce the size and cost of government, and end the culture of waste and mismanagement. More politicians are not the answer. These changes will dramatically improve the decision making process, and help restore accountability and trust in local governments.”

“The Better Local Government Act introduces a number of changes, such as:

“Changes to the Municipal Elections Act to have elections for regional chairs in York, Peek, Niagara, and Muskoka Regions are reversed back to the system they were prior to 2016: when they were appointed by sitting councillors. Regional elections in Halton, Durham and Waterloo remain.”

It had become clear to those who followed these things that there is more in the way of change coming for municipal governments – look what Ford did to Toronto.

Map Region HaltonLooking at municipal government from a Halton perspective one could wonder what might be in the works for Halton; will the province use a shotgun approach that could blow apart local government as we know it today?

The Region of Halton was created in January of 1974, prior to that it was Halton County, one of the oldest in the province was created in 1816.

Creating the Region of Halton was controversial at the time. Local politicians at the time had to fight to keep Burlington out of Hamilton.

Dis-membering Halton and adding Oakville and Burlington to Hamilton and adding Milton and Halton Hills to Peel would fit in with the kind of thinking we are seeing coming out of Queen’s Park these days.

Dundas foreverWhen Dundas was rolled into Hamilton the locals came up with a defence strategy that didn’t work but there are still these small signs placed in some local windows with T- shorts bearing the words on sale in stores on Kings Street.

What would Burlington do?

Burlington has always been a bedroom community for Hamilton; Oakville has been the place for the moneyed set who didn’t want to live in Forest Hill or Rosedale.

City Hall - high frontal viewWhat would any of these changes mean to the average Burlingtonian – we would still be called Burlington but the shots would no longer be called from a city hall on Brant Street. Would there even be a city hall on Brant Street?

Something to think about. The Mayor elect has a lot more than local issues on the desk she will sit behind on the 8th floor of city hall.

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Rivers on immigration: a problem that is only going to get worse.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 3rd, 2018



The roots of America’s current border issues go all the way back to the 1823 Monroe doctrine when America announced that it had replaced Europe as the colonial master of Latin America. There is no reason to believe Monroe had anything in mind but self-interest, particularly when it came to America’s commercial interests. And those interests were not in the best interests of what were to become America’s banana republics. And now, as Fidel Castro once said – the hens have come back to roost.

Call Number: Graff 4195 Author: Triplett, Frank. Title: Conquering the wilderness, or, New pictorial history of the life and times of the pioneer heroes and heroines of America ... / by Colonel Frank Triplett ... ; with 200 portraits from life, and ... engravings from designs by Nast, Darley, and other eminent artists. Published: New York ; St. Louis : N.D. Thompson & Company, 1883. Physical Description: xxxix, [2], 17-716 p. : ill., ports. ; 24 cm. Contents: pt. 1. From the Alleghanies to the Mississippi -- pt. 2. The plains -- pt. 3. The Pacific slope. Subject (LCSH): Indians of North America --Wars. Indian captivities. Frontier and pioneer life. Pioneers. Other Name: Nast, Thomas, 1840-1902. Darley, Felix Octavius Carr, 1822-1888. Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana (Newberry Library) References: Graff coll. 4195 Frontispiece "The March of Destiny" shot with digital NikonD100 camera

The March of Destiny

The accounting of US transgressions against its neighbours is overwhelming. The declaration of Manifest Destiny justified the theft of Mexican territory. Washington engineered carving Panama and its canal out of Colombia. The CIA organized numerous government coups and the military invasions in Cuba, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Grenada. Even today US troops are stationed in Honduras, ostensibly to support the Honduran government, but primarily to secure US banana and coffee interests in that country, something it has done for over a century.

One could argue that America’s actions with its backdoor neighbours were not unlike those of the Soviets following the second world war. Except that the Soviets didn’t just invade and pillage, they actually made an effort to improve the social and economic conditions of their satellites. Notwithstanding the loss of freedom and the inherent faults of the communist system, the Soviets were benevolent colonialists at least from that perspective. And, of course, the fight against communism served as justification for America’s role as enforcer in Latin America.

Former GW Bush era Secretary of State, Colin Powell, labelled it the ‘Pottery Barn rule’ – if you break it you’ve bought it. And central America in particular is one broken basket case of poverty and violence, thanks largely to US commercial and foreign policies. And so, for the masses of Central American pilgrims and their families, forced from their homes by poverty, political oppression and violence, it is a matter of just coming home to Uncle Sam.

Mexican caravan

Immigrants heading for the US border -1000 km away the caravan has become a political issue

The most desperate of these people come from the nations which make up the so-called northern triangle, composed of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. With a population approximating that of Canada, these three states harbour some 50,000 violent gang members. Honduras has been called the most dangerous place in the world. And they are all dirt poor.

Migration, people leaving or forced out of their homes and looking for a better life, is not a new thing, and it is only news because the US president thinks it makes good politics. But it’s not a simple case of we and they. 60% of Mexicans have relatives already living in the US, and over 15% of those who were born in the Caribbean or Central America now live in the USA.

Trump’s dystopian wall and his army on the border is a false god and a stop-gap at best. Walls will not keep the starving Latin American hordes out any more than China’s wall held back the Mongolian hordes, or the Mediterranean has served to ward off desperate migrants leaving Africa for a better life. If you want secure borders you need to help those nations you border enjoy their own security – economic, political and social.

The history of the planet is replete with case studies of migration and migrants moving on in search of a better life. And Immigration is the story of America, despite the inevitable xenophobia and even outright racism that is too often its companion. So you better get used to it America. This latest caravan is a harbinger of migrations yet to come as humanity continues to do what it is doing to prepare for its own extinction. Greater poverty and starvation, and political and criminal oppression are the future for this planet… unless…

There are half a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region alone who now go hungry every day. It should be no surprise that we are incredibly over-populated and still growing, even as our ability to feed ourselves is ever diminishing. We have wiped out 60% of all animal species since 1970. Scientists claim there is only two years for us to to put an end to the loss of the earth’s biodiversity, and twelve years to stop our accelerating rate of climate changing emissions. Just read the newspaper and you’ll soon become your own Dr. Death on this stuff.

Amazon forest

Amazon forest

And the response of our global leaders? The American president is a climate denier who is terminating all efforts to deal with climate change and the environment in general. Brazil has elected a new leader who wants to convert the rest of the Amazon forest, the lungs of the earth, into high methane emitting cattle ranching. Germany is helping Russia build a new pipeline so it can burn even more natural gas.

Our greenish PM is promoting new pipelines to spur even more oil and gas extraction. And our new Ontario premier has just shut down all climate change programs, is attempting to kill a national carbon tax and has even threatened to get rid of the environmental Greenbelt. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how this movie is going to end.

American has never acknowledged its role as an imperial power, and the American people I know don’t consider themselves colonialists. Perhaps that is the reason it is so bad at this colonial stuff. So perhaps it should stop pretending. Aren’t we all Americans?

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:

Caravan –    African Migration –     Nicaragua

Birth Rate –     Trump Rolls Back –     Understanding Migration

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