Your job as voters is to hold them to account, demand transparency and expect a seat at the table – and then show up.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2018



In the next few weeks they will be meeting with people in accounting and giving them the data they need to get their names on the payroll so that half of their annual remuneration of $100,000, give or take a bit, flows into their bank accounts.

They will tell the printing department how they want their names to appear on their business cards.

The IT people will assign them email addresses and cell phones and iPads.

They will get used to parking their cars in the parking lot right outside city hall

Life as they’ve known it will take a whole new meaning. The anxious voters they were chasing just a few days ago with now address them as “Councillor”

Our Mayor Elect will begin to think how she can deploy these younger, eager people who are setting out to do the people’s will.

Few of the five newbies, Kevin Galbraith for ward 1, Lisa Kearns for ward 2, Rory Nisan for ward 3, Shawna Stolte for ward 4 and Angelo Bentivegna for ward 6.

Will Bentivegna show up with his traditional gift of a selection of his biscotti?

Paul Sharman is suddenly the Dean of Council, the only person other than the Mayor, who fully understands the budget these seven people are going to pass before the end of January.

In his first year as a city Councillor Sharman, in 2011, pushed through a 0% budget increase. He could redeem himself, indeed reinvent himself if he could pull that off again and nurture the new five on the intricacies of a municipal budget..

There probably isn’t one of the newbies who could stand up and rhyme off the names of all the Directors and give you twenty words on the approach they take to the departments they operate.

They will learn and the public will be forgiving for at least six months.

The focus, as it should be, will be on the Mayor Elect. She is going to have t determine who she will take on as staff for her eighth floor office. Will some of the people who worked with her day to day in the campaign be part of that team: Lyn Crosby is a possible.

Now that she is in office the public needs to understand that you can’t just trust her to do what she said she would do.  Politics doesn’t work that way.

You couldn’t live with one-term Can Jackson – so you elected Rick Goldring. He looked good, he was a decent sort and so you elected him and trusted him to do right by you.

How did that work out?

Your job as voters is to hold them to account, demand transparency and expect a seat at the table – and then show up.

Hopefully a lesson has been learned.

They all mean well – help them deliver on what they meant when they asked for your vote. They need both your support and your willingness to ask them the hard questions as they set out to do a really hard job.

Kearns direct smile

Councillor Elect Lisa Kearns

Rory - glancing

Councillor Elect Rory Nisan

Shawna listening to Dennison

Councillor Elect Shawna Stolte

Angelo B - squint - red post H&S

Councillor Elect Angelo Bentivegna

They are all in the middle of an incredible euphoria. Let them enjoy it. Then be there for them. The past eight years should have taught us all something.

Kelvin Galbraith headshot_Super_Portrait

Councillor Elect Kevin Galbraith

Return to the Front page

Alison Braithwaite - Words are powerful; embrace the messiness of our lives.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2018



The Gazette met Alison Braithwaite a number of years ago when she was in the private sector. She had this capacity to pick a point in a conversation when she could shift the direction a conversation with a few words.

I wondered about how she had done that for some time after the coffee meeting we had.

Alison Braithwaite -

Alison Braithwaite –

“Words powerfully manifest our lives

“Words are powerful. The words we choose to use influence what we manifest in our lives and how we feel in our bodies. This week, I was speaking to someone who is very special to me. She was talking about her life and some of the challenges that she is facing at the moment. What I heard her saying was: “I am in a fight with this. I am fighting that. I need to fight this other thing.” For her, in this moment, everything seems to be a battle.

“The words we choose affect our bodies

“What I observed in her body as she spoke was how she tensed up as she spoke. The more she spoke of her fights, the more her body tensed up. It was like her body was preparing for battle and getting ready to ward off the missiles being launched her way. I could see the energy she was using just thinking of the battle.

“Let go of the fight

“The metaphor of war is used a lot in our culture. It seems that we, for whatever reason, always need an enemy. We battle the bulge, we battle drugs, we battle cancer and mental health issues. This battling an enemy becomes a big problem when the enemy we are battling is a part of ourselves.
“Shift the metaphor

“We need to shift our metaphors. The metaphor I like to use is that of a kayaker, skillfully navigating white-water. We all have white-water in our lives at times, fighting the water is not going to get us through it.

Reading the water, feeling the water, dancing with the water and skillfully navigating through it works much better.

“Embrace the messiness

Alison Braithwaite logo“A kayaker does not run from the messiness of the whitewater, she sees it, recognizes it, accepts it and moves through it. There is no fight there. Her body becomes as fluid as the water as she chooses her path, navigates her way through and celebrates with euphoria when she is through the tough parts.
“Let’s embrace the messiness of our lives. Accept it without fighting and navigate our way through.”

Questions for self-reflection

1. Over the next week start to notice the words you use. You may want to get some help with this. It is always easier to notice what someone else is saying than hearing what we say ourselves.

2. Notice what metaphors you are using. Are you struggling, fighting, stuck, challenged or moving through things?

3. How is the language you choose limiting or expanding you?

4. What shifts could you make to use more empowering and expansive language?
Remember, you are amazing, you are capable, you are skillfully navigating through life and that is worth celebrating every step of the way.

Return to the Front page

As we embark upon this new chapter in our community’s history ...

opinionred 100x100By Stephen White

October 24th, 2018



In the aftermath of the election a few reflections come to mind.

First, to all the candidates who were elected, sincere and heartfelt congratulations. It takes courage to run for office, as well as a huge amount of self-sacrifice, effort, determination, knocking on doors, sleepless nights, long days, and copious cups of coffee. The thoughts, prayers and good wishes of a community go with you as you embark on this difficult and challenging journey in our City’s history.

Second, to all those who ran and lost, and even those with whom many may have disagreed, please know that there is no shame or disgrace in running and losing. If it takes courage to run for office it also takes twice as much to move forward after a loss. I hope the sting of defeat minimizes with time, and I hope you find a way to remain active and engaged in the life of our City.

Third, we live in a truly wonderful City. As I campaigned during the election and went door-to-door I met an extraordinary number of unique and talented citizens. I was born and raised in Oakville, and have spent the better part of the last 43 years living in Burlington. Although I have lived in different places throughout my career I have always returned here. I believed then as I do even more so now, that we live in an amazing community that is a fascinating combination of different neighbourhoods, ethnicities and cultures. Whenever I speak to new residents and ask them how they like living in Burlington I invariably hear words like “fantastic” and “great”. It makes me proud, but it also makes me truly blessed to call Burlington “home”.

Hand on microphone

Mayor elect Marianne Meed Ward celebrating at the Polish Hall

No doubt this has been a divisive election for several reasons too numerous to mention and not worth re-hashing. Emotions are running high on all sides. There exists a lot of ill-will and bitter feelings. For those who were successful though this is not a time to gloat. Rather, it is an opportunity for everyone to pause, reflect and determine how best we move forward.

Both during my career in Human Resources, as well as through my political involvement over the course of many campaigns, I learned that every interaction in life is a unique compilation of both conflict and conciliation. Conflict in human interactions is inevitable. We don’t all agree on the same things all the time. That is what makes us distinct as individuals. If we all agreed all the time life would be boring. It would also be very unimaginative. In politics, conflict manifests itself as a healthy and respectful exchange of viewpoints and beliefs. Other times it goes much deeper. At some point though we all need to put aside our individual differences, personality conflicts, past grievances and hurts to find points of agreement that allow us to move forward.

Years ago when I was an undergraduate student at McMaster University I did a major paper for my Urban History class on the role of the business community in shaping Burlington’s development between the First and Second World Wars. As part of my research I poured over microfiche records at the Burlington Library of old newspapers. One of the names that I kept coming across through my research was that of Hugh Cleaver.

Hugh Cleaver, for those who may not know, was Burlington’s Mayor in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and Liberal MP from about 1935 – 1948. To my surprise he was alive and still practicing law. I wrote to him requesting an interview, and he very graciously granted my request.

Cleaver Hugh _House_01_GP___Gallery

The Hugh Cleaver house on Caroline – was demolished and replace by a semi-detached house.

On a freezing cold day in February 1977 I travelled to his office on Caroline Street where I met him. Mr. Cleaver was tall, erect and imposing, but in spite of this remained very approachable. Rather than sit in his office talking we climbed into his Volvo and he drove me around the city. He pointed with pride to many of the developments he had been involved in constructing that included an apartment building on Market Street and homes in the Roseland area, many of which I should add are still standing. His memory was encyclopedic, and despite being well into his eighties his passion and love for this City was nothing short of contagious.

Cleaver - Hugh H&SMr. Cleaver is gone now, but his legacy remains. I think of him today, and wonder what he would think about our City. One thing that resonates about our conversation over 40 years ago was our discussion around how to energize and sustain a community under pressure. During the 1930’s that pressure was overcoming economic challenges brought about by the Depression. Today our challenges may not be economic but they are nevertheless formidable.

One thing Hugh Cleaver reinforced was the notion of respect. Mr. Cleaver knew how to reach across and connect with voters and residents regardless of their political affiliation or approach. He lived in the community, and took enormous pride in what he built and created. For him, it wasn’t just about turning a profit or building a magnificent edifice or monument. It was about creating a community that was vital, diverse, sustaining and balanced, but also, one which was inclusive.

I hope as we embark upon this new chapter in our community’s history that our Mayor, our Council and our community pause to reflect on the legacy we’ve all inherited, and the insights offered by past leaders like Hugh Cleaver.

Return to the Front page

We are about to confirm our selection of municipal leadership for the next four years. Now is the time to re-state the service and planning priorities the citizens of this community value; clearly defining our goals.

background 100By Staff

October 22, 2018



A Gazette reader sent us a letter he received from that was published in the Meaford Independent last week, which he thought deserved repeating.

Burlington is not Meaford but as you read the piece you may find yourself thinking – that place is just like Burlington.

Burlington aerial

Home for all of us.

Congratulations and thank you to the citizens of our community who put their names forward to serve as municipal politicians. As tax-paying citizens, we expect our democratically elected officials to represent our interests and dig deep for the personal courage and commitment to move our community ahead to where we agree it needs to go. Building a genuine, efficiently managed community is a significant public responsibility and not an easy task with the ever-changing nature of societal and economic needs.

I am listening to the discussions and comments of candidates competing for positions as elected representatives of our community and I admit that I am concerned. No one would argue with the importance of ensuring our roads and bridges are safe, now and into the future, but there are other things that are important too. We want our elected representatives to talk to us, the citizens of this community, about the quality of life we seek to have for the future. I believe our government officials and staff need to work together with their citizens to clearly define what we want our town to look like, and once defined, determine how we get there.

It concerns me greatly when I hear comments like “give the developers and contractors whatever they want to encourage them to build new housing in our community.” Of course, we need to attract new families to live, work and go to school in Meaford, but we don’t want to meet this goal at the detriment of citizens enjoying what this community already offers. It is the challenge before us to agree upon and implement a balance in the use of resources to create the quality of community life that we seek.

What worries me are some of the comments I’m hearing about things like [community projects] being in jeopardy, or not being able to afford [services]. This is rubbish! People can afford what they want to afford and there are all kinds of levels of affordability. We would like our elected officials to implement plans to keep and build upon the services that our citizens value. It is also important that we have a clear vision of our priorities … now and for the future …. and that we communicate these clearly to those who represent us.
It is a huge expectation we have of our elected officials to come together and agree upon this community’s priorities and commit 100% to work together and with other governments to implement plans to make our priorities happen. There will never be enough money to do all the things that we want to do to enhance the quality of our community life, so we must be abundantly clear about our goals.

So, we have a lot of work to do. We are about to confirm our selection of municipal government leadership going forward for the next four years. In my personal view, perhaps now is a perfect time to re-state the service and planning priorities the citizens of this community value, and clearly define our future mission and goals.

As you go about casting your vote today – understand what the issues are – and make a choice based on what you know.

Tomorrow morning we will know who is going to lead the city through some of the difficult days ahead.

Return to the Front page

Municipal governments make most of the decisions that directly affect people’s day-to-day lives. Decide on Monday who you want at city council to make those decisions.

council 100x100By Staff

October 21st, 2018


Our colleagues at CATCH – Citizens at City Hall in Hamilton published a very appropriate piece earlier today.

Well worth reading – it tells people just who it is that butters our bread.

Across Ontario one out of six councillors will be acclaimed this year. That’s also true for 120 heads of councils and entire councils in 26 municipalities. The new Ontario premier believes voting is the only feature of democracy. He recently declared that “Democracy is you have an election – that’s what democracy is”.

In the provincial election he wasn’t supported by the majority of Toronto voters, but without warning he dramatically cut their municipal representatives to the same number as the city’s MPPs. His party obtained just 40 percent of the ballots cast last June and that was less than one-quarter of those eligible to vote.

Democratic activity measured by actual individual participation is far higher in municipal elections than at other levels of government. There are just 308 federal MPs and only 124 Ontario MPPs. That compares to over 25,000 municipal representatives, barring more changes like that imposed on Toronto this fall.

Hamilton municipal contests show that winners in wards without incumbents get elected with far less than half the ballots cast. And very low turnouts mean most incumbents are returned to office with the support of fewer than half the eligible voters.

Municipal governments make most of the decisions that directly affect people’s day-to-day lives. Provision of roads, water, sewers, waste disposal, and transit are all responsibilities of municipalities along with the determination of built form and development locations. Public health, fire protection, ambulance services and policing are also under city hall’s almost complete control.

Senior government levels have been actively downloading more responsibilities onto municipal governments including the provision of affordable housing, and paying for transit operating expenses. Municipalities also have implementation responsibility for many governance tasks that are funded and directed partly or wholly by the provincial government such as public health initiatives.

Even 70 percent of climate disrupting emissions occur in municipalities. Cities are already facing much of the burden of climate damages and some are playing increasingly important roles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

People queue to cast their votes at a polling station in the Katlehong township, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Voters lined up before sunrise Wednesday in an election that has generated an excitement not seen since South Africa's first multiracial vote in 1994, and that was expected to propel Jacob Zuma to the presidency after he survived corruption and sex scandals. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

People queue to cast their votes at a polling station in the Katlehong township, east of Johannesburg, South Africa in , 2009. Voters lined up before sunrise Wednesday in an election that has generated an excitement not seen since South Africa’s first multiracial vote in 1994.

Municipal politics is supposed to be “the closest to the people”, and local media, where it still exists, reports on the actions and views of individual councillors. Those representatives are far more likely to receive complaints, requests or other personal messages from their constituents than are MPs and MPPs.

People rarely hear what about what their MP or MPP has done because news coverage for federal and provincial legislatures focuses on the stance and behaviour of political parties and their individual leaders. And because of that or as a consequence, voting behaviour seems far more influenced by leaders and parties rather than individual candidates.

Municipal government is also by far the most transparent level. Here there are laws that prevent councillors from holding private meetings except under very specific circumstances such as labour negotiations or the sale or purchase of property. At other levels of government, most real decision-making takes place in secret cabinet meetings without even published minutes.

Individuals are far more able to make delegations to city councils and their committees than to the federal parliament or the provincial legislature. Any resident can get at least five minutes in front of their local council on virtually any matter of concern.

On most planning matters, councillors are actually legally required to hear constituent views without limits on length of presentation. Laws also require public notification through newspaper advertising of many municipal proposals and decisions as part of ensuring democracy and democratic rights. It may be worrisome that those laws are all made by the province.

City election logoThis week’s election and what follows in the new term of council offer opportunities to either strengthen or further weaken effective democratic rights whose future appears increasingly uncertain. Individual action and those of groups will play an important role in both the implementation and protection of democratic rights. This includes the number of representatives, and the actual engagement of residents, not just in voting but in utilization of those rights.

Return to the Front page

On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018



‘The Gazette was able to interview mayoralty candidates Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace. We taped the interview.

We did not interview Greg Woodruff but did talk to him at some length on the telephone and did a piece on the role he has played in this election.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor Goldring explaining intensification to the public.

We asked Mayor Goldring for an interview during the election campaign and did not hear back from his campaign manager.

During his first term of office we reported on the Mayor at length. Search the web site, the Mayor was covered at length and at the time he said we were doing a fine job. He made a 60 second statement on the role we had played during his first term Click to hear what he had to say.

We did interview the Mayor prior to his election to a second term as Mayor. The interview took place in the office of Rick Burgess a Goldring advisor, confidante and a former candidate for Mayor himself.

At the time we expected the Mayor to talk about what he had achieved in his first term and what he wanted to get done in his second term. We came away from that interview empty handed.

Mayor Rick Goldring

Mayor Rick Goldring addressing a group of realtors.

We were disappointed – at the time the Mayor didn’t have anyone running against him – it looked like he was going to be acclaimed.

It was evident to any observer that city council was not working as a cohesive body – not much sense of a council that had a clear vision and direction the residents could point to. Goldring however was popular. People liked him – he was seen as a decent man doing a decent job.

The hope for a private tree bylaw was just that – a hope. Goldring did manage to get a pilot tree bylaw approved for the Roseland community; that will not begin until the Spring of next year.

The New Street Road diet was a mistake that the Mayor should have seen coming. He didn’t.

The Mayor inherited the Pier problem.  The project was stalled and looked like it would be in court for a decade.  Before it got to the Court Room there was an opportunity to resolve the problem and save something in the order of $2 million.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over ad revealed problems with the steel being used - it was all taken out. They ordered new steel and built it again. Now all the parties squabble over who is going to pay for the mistakes.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over and revealed problems with the steel that was being used – it was all taken out; new steel was purchased and a new contractor built it again.

City Council, in a Closed session, turned down a revised proposal from the contractor and looked for a new contractor that tore out much of what had been constructed and completed the project at double the original cost.

The sale of lake shore land between Market and St. Paul streets was close to criminal. The city got less than a quarter of a million dollars for land that is now out of the public domain and will never be available to the public. There was never a solid reason for selling the land. A staff report said selling was an option; the report also said leasing the land was an option and doing nothing was also an option.


It is land that is now in private hands.

During the fund raising initiatives after the August 2014 flood I was covering a photo op with the Mayor. At the time he said that he had “finally figured it out – photo ops were the way to communicate with the public”. I shuddered – why in heavens name would a politician every say something like that.

In his first election as Mayor Rick Goldring published several solid policy papers. One was for something in the way of an incubator that would foster, nurture and grow small entrepreneurial start-ups.

The initiative was handed off to the Economic Development Corporation that created what is now Tech Place – a solid success.

As the Mayor moved from year to year he headed up a city council that couldn’t produce a budget that was much below a 4% increase every year. Numbers like that are what any housewife could tell you are not sustainable.

When the provincial government told the city it would have to come up with $60 million from the taxpayers to pay for a portion of the cost of building the transformed Joseph Brant Hospital the city created a special tax levy to raise those funds.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital whch will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

The tax payers were willing – happy to pay for part of the transformation of their hospital. When all the the money was raised that had a right to expect the special tax levy to end. It didn’t.

The citizens of the city gladly paid the tax – their hospital was important to them. When the $60 million was raised the public had a right to believe that the special tax levy would come to an end. The city just kept on collecting the tax and used the money for infrastructure work.

Intensification then became an issue. While the city had known from at least 2006 that significant growth would have to take place; the Mayor fumbled that ball. It wasn’t until development applications began to pour into city hall and a 23 story building was approved that the public became alarmed.

Lisa delegation

Lisa Kearns delegating at city council on the Official Plan – she was one of 30 delegations.

There were more than 30 delegations made to city hall to stop the approval of a new Official city plan until the public had an opportunity to approve the plan. The plan did have to be approved by the Region but they weren’t going to do anything with it until after the election.

Many wanted the Official Plan to be made an election issues. The city listened but did not hear what the citizens had to say. Grow Bold was now very real; the city’s Planning department produced a document show where some 30 17 floor developments could be located.

The Mayor said those buildings would not be built for years – that build out was some time off. The residents were saying that those 30 buildings were going to change to character of the city that they cared about.

When the election for a new city council began to Mayor stunned many people with his personal attacks against Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who was running against Goldring to be the next Mayor.
The decency that Rick Goldring was known for began to disappear.

Maps of quarry cells and houses

The Mayor wasn’t able to let the environmentalist he used to be be public and support the Tayandaga residents who wanted something different done with the proposed quarry expansion.

People living on West Haven Road in the Tayandaga community learned that a shale quarry site was going to be developed 50 metres from their homes and that thousands of trees were going to be cut down. The quarry operators had a license issued to them in 1972, which in the mind of the Mayor gave them the right to do what they wanted to do.

The community raised funds and lobbied hard and finally got some traction – public opinion began to shift in their favour. The Mayor, a committed environmentalist lost the opportunity to lead.

During his second term the Gazette sent a note to the Mayor asking for a comment – we didn’t get a response. At the end of a council meeting I asked the Mayor when he would be able to get back to me. He said he wasn’t going to be getting back to me because I was “biased and unfair”.

There isn’t a politician on the face of this earth who hasn’t at some point said media was biased an unfair. It is a comment we expect.

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

During the election that returned Goldring as Mayor he found himself not able to speak on a public matter on city property. As Mayor he had a right to speak to citizens in Civic Square – he had difficulty defining just what his role as Mayor was.

What a wise politician does is look for a way to meet with the reporters or editors and talk through the differences. Media doesn’t wake up one morning and say: How can whack the Mayor today. We observe and report on what we see.

Do we get it right all the time? We don’t. But when we get it wrong we apologize publicly in print. When city council makes mistakes the Mayor calls them “learning opportunities”.

We read the Mayor’s platform and we listened to hundreds of people and report as well as we can.

For reasons that we don’t fully understand Rick Goldring lost his way during his second term.

He found himself trying to lead a council that had members who were not going to be led. Two in particular were as about as disruptive and rude as a member of council could be.

The Mayor described one of them as “one of the best strategists he had ever worked with”.

The other member of council announced his retirement and then wrote a piece in which he tried to scorch Meed Ward.

It was all just so uncivil, so unnecessary. It is all a matter of public record.

On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page

Rivers: Is there a War on the Free Press

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 21st, 2018


“Here’s the smell of blood still. Not all the sweet perfumes of Arabia will sweeten this hand,” (Macbeth)

David Frum

David Frum – his Mother, Barbara Frum was a leading CBC broadcaster was a former speech writer for President George Bush and is now the editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

If only our own David Frum was still writing speeches for the US president, the new axis of evil might include Vlad, Kim and MBS (Mohamed bin Salman). But then Trump would have to be their apprentice, a role for which he has been rehearsing all his life.

If it was a fist fight that took the life of Jamal Khashoggi then why did MBS’s 15 men hit squad bring a bone saw as they flew in that morning to the party with him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Islamic sharia law usually requires the courts to decide before amputating body parts and decapitation, and that is usually reserved for serious crimes like stealing food when you’re hungry or apostasy (renunciation of the faith). I guess MBS wasn’t aware that the best way to quiet a journalist is to damn him/her with faint praise.

Trump’s response says scads about him and his tribe at the outer right end of American politics. Former Baptist tele-evangelist and presidential hopeful Pat Robertson summed it up… “You don’t blow up an international alliance over one person, I’m sorry”. It is nice to see the great religions of the world finally aligning their stars.”


Jamal Khashoggi – slain inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey

But religion wasn’t why MBS assassinated Mr Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and American resident. He did it to send a message to anyone else thinking of criticizing him. And there is precedence – there is nothing new about dictators deposing and disposing of those who dare to criticize. Vlad gets away with it, as does Kim, and the Iranians and now MBS. Trump would really like to be able to exercise that divine right of tyrants as well, but that might be a bridge too far, even for the GOP (Republican) lap dogs who control his US congress.

So he does the next best thing. He belittles those in the mainstream media who have the temerity to believe it is their job to point out his inconsistencies and lies. Trump labels them all as fake news. He even goes further on occasion, recently praising a Montana political candidate for body-slamming a reporter who had the audacity to question GOP policy on health care. So why would Trump give a rat’s ass about some Muslim immigrant columnist working for the news outlet (Washington Post) he most despises?

What happened to Jamal Khashoggi is part of a dangerous global trend towards stifling the movement for democracy. Democracy does not function in a vacuum. News is the substance that helps us select our electoral picks. And we expect our news to be factual and true. But the truth doesn’t always seem fair. Nevertheless, the 1949 Fairness Doctrine in the US was intended to ensure that media remained balanced and objective in their reporting, at least until president Reagan scratched it off the law books.

Newspaper - person reading

We are to a large degree what we read.

We become what we read. If our standard read is the Toronto Sun we will ultimately hold views on key issues in conflict with someone who reads the Star.

And who can afford the time to read both papers. So the more divergent various media choose to make their stories, the more polarization we see in our society and in our voting trends. That is particularly important if you live in a one-paper town.

Facebook and Twitter are even more problematic since they are unedited. Anyone can write just about anything and make it sound like it’s the gospel. We once thought that social media had been intended primarily for family pics and that sort of thing. But thanks to the universality of the internet, social media has been effective at melding attitudes and changing voting patterns. For example social media was believed to have played a big role in the elections of Obama and Trudeau.

Last year there were 81 reporters killed across the globe and 250 were imprisoned for doing what they were supposed to do, keeping us informed. And that was the lowest number of deaths in a decade, down from 93 the previous year. Mr. Khashoggi wasn’t a reporter in a war zone and his death wasn’t collateral. But to brush off his death as Trump is doing is unconscionable, even for him.

Trump on Khashoggi,

President Donald Trump defending his position on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,

Trump is not the first politician to be challenged by a critical media and to shun and avoid them. Stephen Harper disdained the Ottawa media and sought to get his story out while largely ignoring them. At the provincial level Mr. Ford has taken his cue from Harper and set up his own news network.

In fact there are times when we do see media harassment. For example, the ultra-right Rebel media kept referring to Canada’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, by the moniker ‘climate Barbie’ until she cleared the air with them. This was clearly a blatant attempt to humiliate the minister and to denigrate whatever she did as some kind of child’s play.

Recently the Burlington Gazette was banned from Council meetings and city property on some unsubstantiated charges of harassment. Fortunately the on-going cable video link allows the formal proceedings to be observed, though the real news happens, too often, behind closed doors.

What are we to think about democracy in this city? Is it possible that the Gazette’s publisher was being punished for once referring to Burlington’s mayor as ‘climate Ken’ or ‘development Rick’? But at least Mr. Parr isn’t being chased by 15 Saudi hit-men armed with a bone saw.

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:

Trump supports Assault –    Reporter Deaths –     Khashoggi’s Last Post –   Khashoggi’s 9/11

Pat Robertson –   Climate Barbie

Return to the Front page

The Gazette's take on council seat election choices - ward by ward.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st,  2018



With 63 candidates, 11 in one ward and 10 in another, it is a challenge to cover them all.

The Gazette interviewed many, attended most of the debates and read the web sites with candidate platforms.  Here is out take on a ward by ward basis.

Marty Staz with Mak Carr

Marty Staz with Mark Carr on Cegoeco’s The Issue

In ward 1 there are two contenders for the seat vacated by Councillor Craven.  Marty Staz will serve that ward very well were he to be elected.  Judy Worsley is a contender but does not seem to have captured the imagination of the Aldershot residents.  If Burlington wanted one of the best environmentalists in the city Vince Fiorito is available.  Among the others there are several that are far from ready for municipal politics.  The democracy we have lets them run for office and they deserved to be heard.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

Lisa Kearns Election PhotoIn ward 2 there are two that have the potential to become good council members.  Lisa Kearns who first got noticed when she was involved in ECoB and Roland Tanner who served the city well when he was part of the Shape Burlington committee.

Ward 2 has been the most politically active for the past eight years.  The current Councillor Marianne Meed Ward kept citizens informed and created a culture that has served the city well.  Can Lisa Kearns or Roland Tanner continue that tradition?  Of the candidates nominated in the ward these two have the capacity to maintain that tradition.


Rory - glancing

Rory Nisan

Gareth Williams looking sidewaysIn ward 3 there is one of the worst candidates the city has ever seen.  Peter Rusin used his ward campaign to reach out and smear Marianne Meed Ward who was running for Mayor.  Rusin has been gunning for Meed Ward for the past seven years.  Rory Nisan and Gareth Williams are the leading candidates. If Darcy Hutzel had started earlier he could have become a serious contender.

Image 3

Shawna Stolte

In ward 4 we see the only one-on- one race for the Council seat.  Shawna Stolte is what city council needs – Councillor Dennison should have followed the path Councillors Craven and Taylor took and resigned.

The ward 5 voters have an opportunity to remove the most disruptive member of council the city has seen in some time.  Councillor Sharman has little in the way of achievements to point to – he has managed to alienate far too many people in his ward.  Collaboration and consensus are not his strong points.  We are pressed to figure out just what the strengths are..

Mary Alice with micMary Alice St. James has served the people of the east end ward 5 very well.  Her not living inside the ward boundary is not an issue –she is a football field outside the boundary.

Daniel Roukema brings far too much baggage to the campaign.  His legal problems and approach to communicating with people are serious concerns.  Claim against Daniel Roukema

The Roukena defence     Disturbing Roukema email

Wendy Moraghan served as a police officer for 30 years – that experience brings a police xx to most of the solutions she puts forward.


Blair Lancaster

In ward 6 the residents have to decide if they want to return two term council member Blair Lancaster. Some of her ideas a very good – her approach to getting something done for people that will need long term care in the future are worth additional debate – she is certainly going in the right direction

Her ability to communicate with people in an acceptable manner is questionable.  The Gazette filed a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner that will get heard sometime after the election.


Angelo Bentivegna

Is Angelo  Bentivegna ready for a council seat?  He has delegated on two occasions and brought about changes in policy.

Ken white is not yet ready for a council seat.

There are hundreds of pages of reporting on the candidates.  Use the search engine on the top right of the home page for additional information on any of the candidates. Inform yourselves and then vote – take a neighbour with you.  This is the most critical election Burlington has faced in a couple of decades.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page

Meed Ward in an interview: city council just has to become more civil and collaborative.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018



We asked ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is running for Mayor, what the top five things she has gotten done since you were first sworn in 2010

Freeman station Sept 18-17

Freeman Station – a Meed Ward win for the city – with help from Councillor Lancaster.

The saving of the Freeman station, getting the Drury Lane bridge repaired – the city thought it might have to be torn down, and pioneering the way the public gets informed about developments.

No longer safe for the public to use the Drury Lane pededstrain Bridge was closed in November. Estimate is that $2 million will be needed to re-build and $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

The pedestrian bridge was closed for a number of months. City had to decide if they were going to send $2 million for a new one or $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

We didn’t get beyond those three – Meed Ward needed to press home how important she feels maintaining respect for each other is in a civic, civil society.

“We don’t have to agree but we do have to respect each other” she said. Early in her first term she prepared a set of slides that she would put up at every community meeting – when things looked like they might get out of hand she would put the slides back up.

Those slides are now part of what the Planning department uses when staff are out at public meetings. They are used at Standing Committee meetings when she is the chair.

They came out of Meed Ward’s experience on the Joseph Brant Hospital Board where she learned how a board made up of professional people could function.

Meed Ward saw the hospital board as a high functioning group of people. They have term limits, mandatory training and succession planning. Meed Ward admits that succession planning can be awkward in an elected environment – but Burlington has a deputy mayor that is rotated through the council members. For the most part it is a ribbon cutting exercise but when the city experienced the flood Paul Sharman stepped in as Deputy Mayor until the Mayor got back into town.

At the hospital board” said Meed Ward, “they genuinely knew how to respect each other – there was a strong corporate commitment that allowed the members to vehemently and at times passionately disagree, – but they were able to work effectively without making it personal.” For Meed Ward it was wonderful to see that level of collaboration. She said they got great things done. They had a President and a CEO that brought exceptional skills to the job.

“At the end of the day we produced the best decision because we vetted everything thoroughly”

Better public involvement in development proposals:

From the very beginning she asked developers to meet with the community before filing plans with the city. Years later the Planning department told developers that they must meet with the community first before filing development applications.

Notice of meetings in communities are sent out to home within 120 metres for zoning matter and 200 metres for Official Plan amendment matters.

Meed Ward has gone well beyond those legislated requirements. She did mail drops throughout her ward with the larger developments.

In the early years of her first term it was the Planners who would explain a development – “the optics were terrible” she said. Now Meed Ward chairs the meetings in her ward, the Planners talk about the planning implications and the developer talks about the actual plan.

Her objective has always been to keep people informed. She was behind the improvement on the way the public was informed about how council members voted. On a number of occasions she would ask for a recorded vote which required every member to stand up and be counted. During one memorable meeting she made this happen on six different occasions.

For this she was labelled as divisive, not a team player.

The challenge now is that who voted which way does not appear in the official minutes of the meeting. A vote is either carried or not carried. Meed Ward is working on an improvement.

Meed Ward adds that “it took a lot of pushing to get that done but we have it – however we don’t have it at the committee level. If a vote loses at committee and doesn’t make it to council you never know how people voted – that happened with the off peak free transit vote.

We asked Meed Ward what she would do to re-shape council if she is elected Mayor.

“Establish civility which have been horrible on council and terrible in this election race.

“Establish some collaboration, there is no council wide collaboration on this council.

“As a mayor you cannot play favourites – you can’t talk to just a few until you get your four votes – you have to talk to everyone.

“Create an environment to respect diversity in perspective … understand that people have their reasons for voting the way they did – that has been absent from this council.

“People write and tell me they don’t always agree with me but they appreciate that I tell them how I got there and what my rationale was.

“Start with that – all the tools around team building will fall apart if there isn’t respectful discourse.”

While Mead Ward doesn’t know who is going to be elected she does know that there will be at least three new council members representing wards 1,2 and 3 – and there might be a new Mayor as well.

There is some concern that some of those who had difficulty collaborating and were unable to be respectful might get returned to office.

How does she cope with that? “You lead by example” she said.

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 Strategy Planning sessions.

“We now have the code of conduct and there are penalties that can be applied should it come to that. It never should. Hopefully you only have to do it once and everyone gets the message – if people are called out. If you don’t call them on it people get the impression that it is Ok – you have to stop the bad behaviour. You start by modelling true respect and collaboration.”

Burlington went for years without a Code of Conduct for the members of city council. The city manager had to be pushed by the provincial government to put a code in place.

Residents and council members can file Integrity Commissioner complaints

We wanted to know how Meed Ward would work with what she gets in the way of a council were she to be elected. Would she take them away on a retreat. She wasn’t sure if she could do that but she did plan to reach out to them as soon as she has seen the election results.

She would be reaching out to them the day after the election.

The province shortened the length of election campaigns but left the period of time between the counting of the votes and when the new council is sworn in and meets for the first time.

She pointed out that there will be a meeting for the old council at the end of November during which they can make decisions even though on December 3rd they will no longer be able to follow through on those votes if they were not re-elected – and two of them will have retired.

“We have this long period of time – more than a month where the old council is meeting and making decisions by people who are not going to be back.

Meed Ward wants better election processes and oversight and get rid of third party advertisers and get rid of anonymous funding.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge on his first day sitting in the Council Chamber.

We asked what she wanted to do about city staff were she to become Mayor. City council hires a city manager who in turn hires the staff he needs to run the city. Meed Ward is pretty direct when she says “ Staff recommends – council decides.”

She added that Council needs to show more leadership in directing staff and in making decisions.

The flow of information was a serious concern to not only Meed Ward. Council members were getting committee reports that ran well over 1000 pages and expected to digest it all in ten days.

“There were gentle conversations with staff on the flow of information” said Meed Ward

Med Ward said “We got the revised OP document a month before. It needed more time than that.” Meed Ward’s biggest disappointment was the amount of time that was given to the downtown plan – that was rushed through in two months and it needed a lot more time she said.

The public picked this up and delegated heavily – the council didn’t hear what the public was saying and the OP got sent to the Region over the protests of many.

The Gazette was surprised at how little mention there was on the arts during the election campaign – the city pumps well over a million dollars into the Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery and the museum. Meed Ward didn’t add anything to that during the interview.

Beachway - Full park

The re-development of the Beachway community will have a significant impact on how people use the lake front – it was never seriously debated during the election.

There was not a mention either of the plans for the Beachway community.

We wanted to know what Meed Ward thought the city was going to look like 5 – 10 -15 years out?
“We lost the Herd, a semi professional baseball team that got a better deal in Welland. Why asked Meed Ward. Why are parks in such disrepair?

Regional government:

Burlington goes to the Regional council as 7 people – Oakville goes as a team – how do you change that we asked. “Well you have to be aligned locally and if you are that will be reflected at the Region..
Meed Ward’s two top issues at the Region are growth, public transportation and roads

“I can get a single bus to Hamilton – I can’t get to Oakville on a single bus.
“We have to figure out if we are going to allow widening of the roads north of the QEW

The Region has said if you don’t want those roads widened then you can take them back and absorb all the costs

The city is believed to have achieved the growth that was required by 2031. There is another wave of population growth coming. The province will tell the Region what the growth requirement is going to be for 2041. They will then allocate how much of that growth is to go to each municipality. Those growth allocation numbers will be priority number 1 for Meed Ward. The council that goes with her to the Region will be pretty green – they are going to have to learn a lot fast.

The Region currently has Burlington’s Official Plan in the “in-basket”. They have to approve it, possibly make some changes and send it back. There are those that would like to see the OP sent back now without any changes so the city can revise the document and get it right.

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.

Meed Ward will tell you that there is a lot in the OP that is just fine – her problem is with the downtown core – and the number of matters that she thinks are missing. “We know we are going to have to amend the plan just as soon as it is approved” she said..

Legally she isn’t clear as to whether or not the city can do that.

“We would have to communicate to the Region that there is a new council that will have a different view of what needs to be changed” she said

Working with the school board and the matter of the two high schools; one already closed a second due to close in 2021. City has no input on those properties. It is only when the school board declares a school surplus that they no longer have a stake in it. After that there is a clearly defined process for determining what happens to the property.”

It doesn’t not just slide into a developer who decides he has some ideas for the land.

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

How the hospital tax levy got to be a tax that would be with citizens forever.

Burlington taxpayers were told by the province that they had to come up with $60 to pay for a portion of the hospital transformation; That news was delivered to the Mayor during his first month of his first term.
The city created a special tax levy that appeared as a separate line on the tax bill and over time the money was raised. Problem was that special tax levy didn’t disappear.

Meed Ward doesn’t exactly cover herself with glory in the way she handled this one. She said the recommendation was in a staff report. Does anyone read all of those staff reports? Meed Ward said she didn’t hear any complaints. Of course there were no complaints – the public didn’t know about the decision. The Gazette did raise the question on more than one occasion.

There could have been a referendum about redirecting those funds – no one asked for one.

“There were no questions so the tax levy remained with the funds going to infrastructure.”

Meed Ward is usually very quick to point to everything that impacts the people of the city – this one was allowed to slide through. Something to be watched for is she is elected Mayor on Monday.

The day city council experienced a major melt down.

The December 19th, 2012 Standing Committee meeting was a disaster. Council was deciding who would sit on which boards and committees

Meed ward said that usually the choice of committees is determined before the meeting starts but on that December day two Councillors met in the foyer and colluded to remove Meed Ward from the hospital committee and the Downtown BIA. Councillor Lancaster was put on the BIA.

The Mayor had been blind-sided by Councillors Craven and Sharman.

People were aware of the city council dysfunction – on December 19th – we saw it – it was ugly – the city council at its worst

Visual - city council full

When the elected members of Council take their seats on December 10th, they will be in a re-designed council chamber. The big question for the public is – will they behave any differently and who will sit as Mayor.

We asked Meed Ward: How do you stop this kind of thing? Do you send them home and bring them back when things settle down?

“The challenge” said Meed Ward” is to change the behavior.  Will an election put an end to that ?  Meed Ward said she cannot speak for others

“The first thing we have to do is find a way to respect each other” she said.

Term limits? Certainly for the Mayor said Meed Ward. Council members – she wasn’t sure how long
Term limits force changes said Meed Ward. When a seat is vacated new blood gets brought in.
The civility of the new council will be determined in some degree on who gets returned

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

What does the Meed Ward future look like?

What does Meed Ward see in the next 5/10/15 years?  What has the city got going for it?  Will this continue to be a nice place to live?

Mead Ward point to her campaign brochure which sets out why she is running.

The printed piece of paper is something she controls – what happens on a day to day basis is something she does not control – the best she can do is manage it

What is there out there that she hasn’t seen? “I didn’t see the cannabis question coming” she said.

Paletta MansionMeed Ward said great cities don’t happen by accident. The citizens of this city fought to make them great. In Burlington the citizens said no to town houses on the Paletta property

They said no to development in Central park

They said no to the sale of the land on the Lake side of Lakeshore Road between Market and St Pail Streets – they lost that one


The chunk of land in the centre block got sold.

Citizens have taken their city council to court when they were unhappy.
Meed Ward said “ there are generations that delivered for us – it is now our turn to deliver for them – what are we going to deliver

Meed Ward said she believes the citizens want that that small town community feeling. She isn’t saying no to development – but she doesn’t want development that is going to destroy the city people have said they want

Seniors Centre

A Seniors’ Centre is needed in Aldershot and in the east end – ideally in the Lakeside Village Plaza that is being re-developed.

Green spaces, trees, community centre’s are what she wants to focus on.  Sports fields need to be improved – people are having difficulty getting ice time and time on playing fields.

“I ensured that there was an additional $200,000 put into the budget with more to follow.
We have to actively take steps to protect what we have.”

In the Avondale community, where a developer wanted approval for the Bluewater development that would take more lake shore land out of public hands, the developer used the city decision to sell that lake shore property between Market and St. Paul as justification to show that the city didn’t need any more lake front property in the public’s hands.

Meed Ward will, if she is elected Mayor, she try to “undo and hold back some of the decisions that have been made and at the same time move forward on some of the good things.”

She wants to see something better done with the Nelson stadium. More trees and better transit.

She fears the city is in serious trouble with the tree canopy we have.

She hopes that within five years people will be able to travel on reliable transit easily and cheaply.

Meed WArd at PARC

Marianne Meed Ward – She began delegating to city council then ran for the ward 1 seat – was defeated by Councillor Craven – moved to ward 2, continued to delegate, especially on Saving the Waterfront. Ran for Council and was elected twice. Now she is running for Mayor

Marianne Meed Ward was born in Colorado – she came to Canada when she was in kindergarten.
She lived in Richmond Hill, Kingston, spent a year at Kingston Collegiate. Went to Carleton University to study journalism – she was never employed full time at a newspaper but her first published piece was a freelance article published in the Ottawa Citizen – it was about job placement for people with disabilities.

She got a job as the editor of a national magazine, was promoted to publisher and, after a number of years decided to go out on her own where she made more money. She freelanced for 11 years.

Asked what who she looked to as a role model – she thought for a moment and said Hazel McCallion – the Mayor who grew Mississauga into the city it is today.

Anyone else, I asked. I’ve always liked the way Bernie Saunders does things, he was consistent and the public was with him.

Marianne Meed Ward, an 18 year citizen of Burlington believes the public is with her. She will know what the immediate future holds for her Monday night.

Return to the Front page

How many voters and how much money will the candidates spend to get those votes.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 20th, 2018



Where are the voters and how much will the candidates be able to spend on getting hose votes;

The following came from the City Clerk.

The spending limits are calculated in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 Based on the number of electors within the ward and City as of September 14, 2014.

The formulas are prescribed as follows:

Spending Limits
Head of council: $7,500 + $0.85 per elector
All other offices: $5,000 + $0.85 per elector

Number of Electors Maximum Expenses
Mayor                        126,791       $115,272.35
Councillor Ward 1    19,552         $21,619.20
Councillor Ward 2    17,547         $19,914.95
Councillor Ward 3    17,712          $20,055.20
Councillor Ward 4    26,638         $27,642.30
Councillor Ward 5    22,763          $24,348.55
Councillor Ward 6    22,579          $24, 192.15

Mayor candidates Oct 9

Cartoonist Mike Allen reminds you to vote.

Return to the Front page

Marty Staz: How do we want our city to grow ?

opiniongreen 100x100By Marty Staz

October 20th, 2018



Really, How Do We Want To Grow

Being involved in a municipal election campaign for the first time has certainly been an eye opener. What started out as a bucket full of presentable ideas has now morphed into a collection of defined plans, processes and objectives. The more you talk with people, the more you research and the more you think.

This eventually provides you with something that you truly believe is the right plan.

Side view - mid rise

An election campaign was an eye opener for Marty Staz.

Without a doubt, the most talked about and the most focused topic in our city is intensification, or as I often refer to it over-intensification. So to begin, let’s look at a definition of intensification. From the website Neptis.org intensification is defined as any new residential development within the existing built-up urban fabric. By this definition, intensification may occur on undeveloped or on previously developed land; what makes it “intensification” is its location within the area defined as already urbanized. This definition is the one used by the Ontario government. So, keeping this definition in mind, let’s explore what is really going on in Burlington.

In Ontario, The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006) has policies designed to contain the urban footprint of one of the fastest-growing metropolitan regions in the developed world. Research has shown that if the Toronto region, which includes Burlington, continues to grow as it has in recent decades, its residents will experience a decrease in their quality of life. This last sentence is where I think we have to push the pause button and determine how we want Burlington to grow.

After looking at the various development projects on our city’s website, either proposed or underway in our city, I determined that there are 28 projects with a proposed height of 8 stories or more stretching to 25 stories. Eight of those projects are proposed for Ward 1. Also, let’s keep in mind that this number is what is current. With the recent approval of 23 stories across from City Hall I can only imagine what future proposals will look like. So this brings me back to the question of how we want to see our city grow. When going door to door and listening to what people have to say I would suggest that the answer is a resounding no – but growth is inevitable. I know we have growth targets in place as mandated by our provincial government but that’s an argument for another time. In my opinion achieving those targets is a non-issue.
So how do we want to grow?

Staz on the missing middleThere is a very interesting concept referred to as “The Missing Middle”. The illustration below gives us a good visual interpretation of what the missing middle means and if you want a good real-life example of this just look to Mississauga. This city started out as a bedroom community for Toronto full of single family homes. When growth started to occur their local politicians decided that the solution was to grow up, so now it’s either single family detached or high rises that stretch forever.

To be perfectly clear, any design that reflects the Missing Middle still must adhere to specific density requirements and accommodate the proper parking, green space, parkland, etc. Just look at the proposed townhouse development at 2100 Brant Street as an example where these standards have been ignored.

“Well-designed ‘Missing Middle’ buildings unify the walkable streetscape as they greatly diversify the choices available for households of different age, size, and income. Smaller households tend to eat out helping our neighbourhood attract wonderful restaurants. Diverse households keep diverse hours meaning we have more people out walking our streets at more varied hours—keeping them safer.” — Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs

So this is a call for architects, planners, and developers to think outside the box and to begin to create immediate, viable solutions to address the mismatch between the housing stock and what the market is demanding—vibrant, diverse, sustainable, walkable urban places. Missing Middle housing types are an important part of this solution.

The City of Burlington is at a crossroads and I honestly think that this could be a solution to growing our city, meeting our provincial mandates and creating a great place to live.


Marty_Staz_Marty Staz is a candidate for the ward 1 city council seat and is a former president of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.

Return to the Front page

Wallace wants to be at Queen's Park before the ink is dry on his business cards should he be elected Mayor.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2018


Exclusive to the Burlington Gazette

When asked: Why run Mike Wallace said “We live in a terrific community – but we are facing some challenges and I think our relationships with, not only our fellow Councillors, but with those at the regional and provincial levels as well need some work.

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace taking in a city council meeting.

Wallace thinks the way we solve our problems is what will define the kind of city council he wants to lead.
“I think that the way we solve the problems of growth, intensification, traffic and transit is going to call for partnerships and I think I am the best candidate to deliver that kind of leadership.

Wallace said he had decided to run before the June election that put a Conservative government in office at Queen’s Park. “I thought there needed to be changes in the leadership and the city mayor and that the city needed someone who understands the process and is willing to be much more decisive.”

Wallace said “we need to move the agenda forward – it took them six years to do a Strategic Plan which put the city behind on the Official Plan (OP) review – because of that lack of leadership we are now behind the 8 ball.”

“My experience at the federal and municipal levels means I can add a tremendous amount of value.”  We asked Wallace if he felt bound by the current Strategic Plan.  He said “the 25 year Strategic Plan should be used as a reference document and that each Council should have its own four year action plan.”

Wallace said he has heard that there will be a spanking new council chamber ready for the new Council but hasn’t seen anything yet.

Wallace doesn’t think in terms of his first 100 days. His first priority will be to get to know who his Council members are and to learn what they want to see done.

His first hundred days – get to know my Councillors, get us up to speed and involve myself in their training, particularly the budget because there is a steep learning curve. I think I can be a mentor.”

“Three things that have to be done in the first while: Getting a council in place that can make quality decisions, there is a lot of work to be done, we may not get Christmas off.

“The Province says we have to decide on cannabis – Jan 22 is the date on that by which city Council has to make that decision”.  Wallace is for waiting to see how other municipalities manage canibus retail operations in their city’s.

“There is a need for me to send a message, not just to council, but to staff that there is a need for a new culture at city hall – not just for the council members and staff but for the public as well

“I want the new council to think more of a how can we help. There has to be a better sense of collaboration – I don’t want silos, I wants them all in the same tent working towards the same goal.

“I think it starts with staff understanding that that is the kind of atmosphere we want” and he hopes this is what the council members want. Hopefully there will be a culture they want to develop.

“Leadership” said Wallace “comes from council and particularly the mayor’s chair. There has to be a positive message to staff because they do most of the work.” Wallace said he wants them to be “excited about the new council and excited to be working for Burlington.”

He said the atmosphere hasn’t been as productive as it should be. To bring about the changes he believes the city needs Wallace said he will be reaching out and meeting those that are elected immediately

He said he could meet with them as a group before they are sworn – he can do anything he wants but before they are officially members of Council and added that he would clear this with the Clerk.


Rob MacIsaac – a leader Wallace worked with.

Wallace said it is “vital to create those positive relationships and pointed to the days when he was a Council member under Rob MacIsaac I. We knew where each of us stood. “I want that same sense of working together on my council.

Atmosphere and tone are critical said Wallace and I think I have the leadership skills to make that happen.
Wallace said he didn’t know the city manager very well “I met him a few times”

When MacIsaac was mayor the city manager got clear direction. He said he would be happy to work with the current city manager to improve the relationship between council and staff to ensure that the direction staff gives is actionable. Wallace said he isn’t sure that has existed over the last number of years

Asked how fast he he wanted to get to the Region and talk about the OP Wallace said they have a certain amount of time to take action – to tell us if it is congruent with the Regional OP.

Queen's Park

Mike Wallace wants to get to Queen’s Park quickly and get help from the province to solve our problems.

For Wallace the top priority is to get to Queen’s Park and see if we can get them to make some changes with their plan that fits better with our plan and he expects he will be able to do that some time in the Spring of next year

He said the transit solution needs more money. We asked: with a 4.3 % budget projected for the next fiscal year where is the money going to come from?

His fundamental view on transit is that what is needed to get a person who wants to get from A to B … effectively and efficiently

He didn’t have solution but said he “did like the look of the current Director of Transit who did good work at her previous job. ” Wallace said “We are putting $10 million into transit – we need to figure out where transit is going – should we be looking at shared services, Uber, or dial a ride because 40 foot buses aren’t the answer. He concedes that transit is part of the solution and ways have to be found to increase ridership.

He is prepared to try the free service for seniors idea that is being used in Oakville.

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

Burlington Transit getting new buses – Wallace doesn’t think these 40 footers are what we need.

We didn’t come away with the feeling that Wallace has a significant commitment to transit – just that it is something we are going to have to have. The issues that he gets passionate about is the current Handi-Van service. He thinks that service should be Region wide – having people transfer buses at municipal borders is just plain dumb.

Another one that gets to Wallace is why isn’t there a bus service that will get people in Burlington and Oakville to the Pearson airport directly. If he had his way Wallace would like to see transit becoming a GTA west service.

He believes there is technology out there that is not being tapped into.

I asked Wallace why people feel the city isn’t working – why is there is a sense of dysfunction that we are hearing about in this election?

“People are frustrated” said Wallace –” they can’t point to anything that this council has done.  On the OP this council didn’t read the public.”  Wallace doesn’t blame staff.  The Strategic Plan set out the vision especially on land use but the OP doesn’t address how that is going to be achieved.

Orchard PArk residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a citty staff recomendation for parkland in their community.

Residents pack the public gallery at city hall.

He maintains that “this council has not been proactive … they claim that they held a certain number of public meetings but they didn’t respond to the public concerns. This council has been in a bit of a bubble – not proactive and they didn’t accept input from the public on the issues. They have worked from a Father Knows Best position.”

Wallace wondered why are all the Standing Committee meetings are held down at city hall. If there are issues that relate to a community – hold Standing Committee meetings in those communities makes some sense.

“Why are we not meeting at the Haber Recreation Centre. Wee need to do something that lets people know we are reaching out.”

He wants to get to Queen’s Park in his first 100 days and convince them to make some changes to the Place to Grow plan and let the city get rid of the downtown mobility hub and move the Urban Growth Centre boundaries further up Brant Street. He wants help from the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs to help Burlington decide where and how grows.

The Baxter was a very successful condo development; seen as a prime location and an attractive building to boot. The proposed structure for Brock and Elgin is anything but attractive if the drawings are any indication of what they want to build.

The Baxter

He wants changes made so that the city can take control of its destiny. He admits that there are going to be three towers in the downtown core for sure. He can live with the height the Baxter has but he doesn’t want to see a downtown that works for just those who are fortunate enough to live there

He wants to see specialty retail in the downtown core and thinks the it should be the entertainment focus; a major thread in the social fabric of the city.

The litmus test for Wallace is when people come to Burlington, downtown is where they want to go. “If we over develop it will become restrictive for other people – it will become a place just for those who live in the core.”

We asked Wallace where he would cut if he had to bring in a budget that is at inflation. The city portion of the budget has been running either side of 4% for the past seven years. Wallace once reminded the audience during a debate that the city once went for a number of years with 0% budget increases.

He wants staff to work within the budgets they are given and doesn’t think there has to be any services cut – that there is more than enough money coming in. As long as the city keeps close to inflation Wallace thinks the city will be fine.

Wallace points out that Burlington is part of a two tier government and we need to focus on the blended tax rate. The current council has been doing that for a number of years. If Burlington could keep its own budget at inflation taxes would be a lot different.

Wallace said “there is money available for some projects but that the city departments need to live within what they are given and projects might have to be stretched out over a longer period of time.
Wallace pointed to the federal government where there was a plans and priorities approach – he wants staff to better manage what they are given.

aerial of Bronte meadows

Mike Wallace thinks Bronte Meadows could be turned into the kind of community needed to solve many Burlington’s housing and work related problems.

Liberty West, is a Wallace pet project that he believes can solve a lot of the pressing issues the city has. His vision is for a part of the city that has offices and residential mixed together where the housing would be more affordable and keep the younger people in the city instead of having them move to Toronto.

Wallace likes the look of Bronte meadows and believes the city can work with the Paletas who own the land.

When would he like to see shovels in the ground?  Wallace said he hopes to have the plan in place by the end of his first term. He pointed out that right now the land is the subject of a Special study – he wants that study accelerated and have the city begin moving on some of these opportunities. Council has to stop sitting around and begin to get things done.

One can almost see the outline of a second term election for Wallace.

Caroline Wallace

Caroline Wallace – likes the idea of moving to the core of the city.

Wallace and his family live on the eastern side of the city. His wife Caroline has been said to be interested in moving into a condominium in the core. “We won’t be living in a high rise condominium” said Wallace. “A townhouse for us. We are both walkers –something within 2 km of city hall” seems to be what he is suggesting.

All Mike Wallace has to do to make all this happen is get more votes than the other three candidates on Monday.

Return to the Front page

A look at the numbers - who has to get what in the way of votes to be the next Mayor.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 18th, 2018



In the 2014 election, the one that returned every member of council to office, five percent of the city’s 121,535 eligible voters, 6053 voted before the election day either on line or at the advance polls.

The Gazette learned from the Returning Officer that 9,000 people have registered to vote on line for the 2018 election – that number may have increased

News anal REDThe total voter turnout for the 2014 election was 37.6 per cent; 45,671 ballots were cast.

The increase in the online vote so far this election suggests there will be a higher turnout for the 2018 election.

The candidates know how many voters there are in their ward – that information is not posted on the city election web site for general reference.

We will use the 2014 eligible voter count for the purposes of an analysis and a projection of what could happen on October 22nd.  The actual numbers for 2018 will be higher.

Exclude Greg Woodruff for the moment – even though he may turn out to be a spoiler.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

With three other candidates, one of them is going to have to get 40% of the vote to become Mayor.

Rick Goldring no longer has the base he felt he had.

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace listening during a city council Standing Committee meeting.

Mike Wallace has a solid Tory base – does that amount to 40% of the voters. Likely not but more to the point Wallace hasn’t generated the excitement and enthusiasm that was needed and his performance in the debates didn’t give him the lift he would need.

The unknown is Marianne Meed Ward. If her base is as big as she implies it is then she could get 40% of the vote leaving 60% to be split between Goldring and Wallace. Can either of them get enough of that 60% to push them past Meed Ward?

Goldring’s two unfortunate personal public attacks on Meed Ward soured many people on a candidate who was already in trouble. Is the Goldring vote low enough to let Wallace get the bulk of the vote (that 60%) to pass Meed Ward?

The Meed Ward team is pumped and primed – they believe 2018 is her year and they are fervent in their belief that she is the difference the city needs.

All the above is plausible – now bring Greg Woodruff back on the stage.

Just under 6000 people in Burlington voted for him as Regional Chair in 2014. Gary Carr literally blew Woodruff out of the water.

Greg WoodruffBut Woodruff didn’t sink – he has made some very intelligent remarks in each of the debates. He will never get elected Mayor – the question about Woodruff is where will his votes come from?

Are there people who are edgy about Meed Ward and will vote for Woodruff?

Are there past Goldring voters who are disappointed with what he hasn’t managed to do during his eight years as Mayor and will give their vote to Woodruff because Meed Ward is a little too over the top for then and there isn’t a hope in Hades that they would ever vote for a Tory?

The Woodruff vote has to come from somewhere. He had almost 6000 last time and he hasn’t done anything really stupid to lose any of that. His performance suggests his vote count will rise – the question is at whose expense.

If the Woodruff vote comes off of Goldring’s plate – Meed Ward is home free.  If it comes off Meed Wards plate she could be in serious trouble.

I have an amiable relationship with Dr. Shih, one of the smaller developers and owner of a number of plazas around the city giving him a consistent rental cash flow.


Dr. Shih, centre, at a community planning event.

We spent a moment in a hallway at the Art Gallery one recent evening and he asked me how I thought the election was going to pan out.

I took him through my ward by ward expectations and added who I thought would be the next Mayor. Dr. Shih gave me that inscrutable look of his, tilted his head and asked: How did your projection in the last election work out. He knew that I had been totally wrong.

Dr. Shih did not share his election result thoughts with me. He did use that Oriental phrase: “We live in interesting times’” and went about his business. The phrase is said to be a curse.

Return to the Front page

TVO hosts Goldring, Meed Ward and Wallace in a solid debate. You get to see what the options are on a bigger stage.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 18th, 2018



It was worth watching – three of the Mayoralty candidates debating on TVO’s The Agenda.

It gives you a chance to watch a debate with an experienced moderator who put tough questions to the three of them.  This level of quality is something ECoB can aspire to.

TVO debate 2

The Agenda with Steve Paikin and three Mayoralty candidates

Steve Paikin covered a number of bases.

Development, intensification, aggressive third party advertising that was aimed at Meed Ward which the other two candidates said they knew nothing about.

That advertising didn’t fall off the back of some truck

Paikin missed picking up on Mayor Goldring’s two public gaffs when he went after Meed Ward with some uncalled for comments.

The matter of Mayor Goldring asking the province to think about letting us annex Waterdown came up. Wallace said the idea may well turn out to be a Pandora’s Box.

Meed Ward said it should never have been brought up.

TVO debate

It was a good debate – they got to go after each other in a polite Burlington way.

Paikin pointed out that one of the worst kept secrets in the province are the plans being developed at Queen’s Park for more municipal amalgamation. It was suggested that the provincial municipal ministry might decide to merge Burlington with Hamilton.

The question I found myself asking was: Which of these three do I want leading the city through the tough issues ahead of us.

Make a point of watching the 27 minutes – you will come away with a better view of what the options are after watching the program. Click on the link to view the broadcast.



Return to the Front page

Canada enters new age - where will it end up - not all that certain - but the natives are happy. We replaced let then eat cake with let them smoke their brains out.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 18th, 2018



It’s this recurring dream – Rob Ford is back again but this time he’s the PM and his drug of choice is marijuana rather than crack cocaine. Why else would Canada be only the second, arguably the first, nation on earth to fully legalize weed? And it’s no wonder everyone in the country is so happy today. We haven’t seen this kind of euphoria since we won the Second World War. Our national jubilation is so strong that I’m sure Justin would not be opposed if he declared himself PM for life.

Weed line ups in Mtl

Montrealer’s lined up to purchase cannabis.

And if you turned on the TV recently you’d see how the media has freaked out – getting their high-on with non-stop broadcasting of all the ins and outs of this ancient far-out drug. Of course in Ontario you can only get MJ legally by ordering through the provincial on-line agency. Premier Ford, for some unknown reason, has killed the previous plan to conveniently and safely sell the product in LCBO stores. No, rumours to the effect that Doug is going back to his alleged occupation of dealing drugs cannot be substantiated – and besides he’s the premier of all the people now.

Drugs ordered on-line would have to be delivered by Canada Post, which is now almost certainly heading for a very long strike. So you might want to put a hold on stocking up your larder with munchies. And don’t be surprised to see some very happy posties dancing around on the picket line as they roll and light up your mail. And watch out for the stampede as the postal strike mob heads out for an overload of Timmys to feed their brains.

Since it’s now OK to engage in reefer madness the second shoe drops – the question about the fate of all those sorry sods who were unlucky enough to get nailed for simple possession. It was illegal at the time, right. But it’s not now. And there are still questions over what possession really means and when it means dealing.

The NDP says the records should be expunged and the Tories say spare the rod and spoil the children. Nobody should be pardoned, at least not without paying the fee and waiting for some ten years they believe. But hey, wouldn’t this be the perfect time for Mr Trudeau to pull off another of his famous public apologies.

Us border guards

US border guards are fixed on keeping out cannabis out of their country.

You are being warned by US authorities not to cross the border even if you so much as dreamt of ever getting high. The guards are rumoured to have access to the on-line store orders and your criminal records, even if pardoned. But then they do keep changing their story almost every day. Still I’ve learned not to mess, or joke, with those well armed folks. Besides it is above their pay-grade to even consider that recreational weed is legal in nine states and that over 60% of Americans want it legal everywhere.

All the people I know who ever smoked the stuff have decided to give up MJ now that it’s legal. I mean what’s the point – the thrill is gone. Surveys show that less than half of all Canadians are planning to ever buy the stuff. But they’re probably lying. And so are the ones who claim to never having at least tried it. We’ve been conditioned to lying about drugs from that first painful lecture our parents conducted on the birds and buds.

Trudeau - happy

Trudeau is delighted with the way his election promise is being received.

Justin may have broken a few promises in his term as PM, starting with the last election being the last election with a first-past-the-post electoral system. Hey but if you smoke enough dope the plan is that you won’t care – about that or our growing national debt, or the painful memories of that India voyage.

Of Canada’s recent PM’s: Diefenbaker killed the Avro Arrow; Lester gave us the flag; Pierre entrenched our supply management and cultural industries, Brian the gave us the GST and so-called free trade, Jean the long gun registry, Kim, Paul and Stephen almost nothing, but Justin made us happy. I wonder who will be remembered best in the history books.

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:

Pardons for Drug Possession –     Doug Ford and Drugs –    US Smokin’ States

Return to the Front page

Were Greg Woodruff to be elected Mayor - what kind of a Burlington would he try to create?

background 100By Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018



He knew his stuff.

He had done his homework.

Some of his solutions for the city were a stretch – some made you wonder if had had gotten ahead of the cannabis legislation.

WoodruffBut during the ECoB debate when he pulled out some of the campaign material he used for the 2014 election – when he ran for Regional Chair – he was able to show that everything he said in 2014 had come true in 2018.

Does that mean he would be a great Mayor for the city?

Probably not – but Greg Woodruff has certainly made a significant contribution to the quality of the debate. There are solutions he was championing that were superior to those of Marianne Meed Ward who shared the debate events with him and the two other Mayoralty contestants: Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace.

He argued for nothing above six floors throughout the city and points out that no one ever challenged him on the position. The debate Q&A format didn’t really allow for much in the way of a challenge and for the most part the other candidates didn’t take him seriously.

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

Traffic barriers in place on Lakeshore Road – making them wider isn’t going to do anything for traffic congestion. – more road just means more cars. expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

On traffic, which everyone agrees is a serious problem Woodruff is blunt: there is no way to resolve it. The 100,000 people that are going to be added to the population are going to have to use the already congested streets which everyone says cannot be made any wider.

Transit as the solution – difficult for a city council that has never properly funded transit and for a budget that is already strained – how much high than 4% annual increases can the tax payer put up with – to pay for buses they don’t want to ride on?

Map of Saskatchewan

Burlington with a population bigger than the province of Saskatchewan? Boggles the mind.

Woodruff has the ability to make a point in language that can be understood – by 2041 the population of Burlington will be greater than that of Saskatchewan. Sort of puts Burlington’s growth in perspective doesn’t it?

Woodruff has a problem with the “I’m for reasonable growth” line being parroted by the other three candidates. They don’t define just what they think reasonable is.

Woodruff came to Burlington when he was in grade 10 – attended Nelson high school for the first year and the moved to MMR. Before Burlington he lived with his parents in Campbellville.

His graduate studies were done at Ryerson where he did computer studies. He earns a good living creating web sites and applications for commercial clients.

Woodruff sounds cranky when he points out that the current Mayor talks about the Official Plan that was passed and how it aligns with the Strategic Plan – but “no one ever mentions the impact of the Official Plan.”  The public is told there is nothing to worry about.

The Planning department is already snowed under with development applications. Woodruff believes that once the OP clears the Regional government new development applications will come rolling in. He maintains there are property consultants earning a decent living telling people how they can get in on this bonanza – especially in the downtown core.

Sign at Guelph Line north of new street. Are their days numbered?

The planners think many of the plazas in the city could handle a lot more intensification.

This man with a lot of common sense doesn’t believe there is really vision for the city that has been clearly explained and that has the support of most of the residents. He wants to know: what will the place look like. Condominiums on every one of the plazas in the city?

Why is he running when there isn’t much of a chance that he will get elected? He wanted the public to be aware that there are other options – his six stories max for Aldershot is one of them.

Is growth really necessary? Woodruff doesn’t think so. But the province says we have to grow – “it’s all set out in that Places to Grow document isn’t it ?”

We can say no – we can push back – we can keep up the pressure maintains Greg Woodruff.

He says he believes in growth – we just aren’t doing it right. “I am the only person who is saying that growth is not the best idea.

There is a short video with Woodruff doing one of the Smart Car Coffee Confidential interviews that gives you a sense of where he is coming from. Worth looking at. Here’s the link.

Woodruff got 12,344 votes in the 2014 election when he ran for Regional Chair. 5,812 of them were cast in Burlington.  He can expect at least that this time around.  What if he were to double that number – and THAT is possible.  He could make October 22nd very uncomfortable for someone.

Related news stories:

How Woodruff thinks he could become Mayor.

Debating the Official Plan

Getting back to good policy that respects the people who live here now.

Return to the Front page

How is the vote in ward 4 going? The Gazette thinks Shawna Stolte can defeat Jack Dennison.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018



The Gazette has looked at the ward debates, attended many of the candidate events and arrived at conclusions in each ward. Those conclusions are based on watching the incumbents for more than seven years and interviewing most of the new candidates. Here is the way we think things will go in ward 4

What did we learn from the ward 4 ECoB debate?

We learned that Jack Dennison, the incumbent has been in office for a long long time; he said 36 years and two months during the ECoB Q&A.

Shawna listening to Dennison

Shawna Stolte during the ward 4 ECoB debate.

Many think his time has come. Shawna Stolte came to that conclusion and decided to run for the seat.

In 2014 Carol Gottlob gave Jack Dennison a good run for the money – a woman with little in the way of profile she managed to take 35% of the vote. It was evident there were cracks in the Dennison base vote.

Did the crack in the base change the way he served. Not one bit.

When ECoB set up the debates for each ward Dennison jerked them around. He wouldn’t confirm the date they had selected; said he didn’t know enough about ECoB. He knew enough to at least try and stay away from debate.

He put his opponent in the very awkward position of not knowing if she was going to have a conversation with the moderator or was going to do a Q&A with the incumbent.

When Dennison would not commit to the date that was chosen for the ward 4 event (he was given six days to decide) ECoB went with the date they had planned originally. Unfortunately that date was the day there was a city council meeting. ECoB might have been wiser to stick with the date that Council was not meeting.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison

The ECoB people were never certain that Dennison was going to show up until he walked through the door. He wasn’t capable of giving the organizers a heads up and tell them that he would spend some time at the city council meeting and then head over to Nelson high school.

Shawna with Jack at debate

At least he showed up. Jack Dennison with Shawna Stolte on the Nelson high school stage.

However, arrive he did. No apology for being late. He settled into his chair and behaved as the amiable man he conveys to people.

Shawna Stolte did fine for the most part. Few knew that she was not well; she wasn’t at all sure she could make it through the evening.

She handled the questions put to her as well as Dennison did.

The bothering matter was the several “high fives” the two of them did during the evening. It is never a safe move to get to close to Jack Dennison – he will charm and manipulate.

It would have been nice to see Stolte differentiate herself from Dennison.

When Dennison arrived – a half hour late – the moderator shifted gears smoothly and reverted to the original format which was to put questions to the candidates.

First question was: What would you like to see city council do more of and less of.

Dennison said he wanted the public to know more about development applications before they got to the Standing Committee stage.

Marianne Meed Ward has been saying that for the past eight years and actually doing that for development applications in her ward. Jack had no problem taking her initiative and making it his own – and not a word of recognition to Meed Ward for the job she had done. Instead Meed Ward gets described as divisive.

Image 8

Shawna Stolte at the Farmers Market

Stolte couldn’t match Dennison’s knowledge of budget matters but she did let the public see how she thinks.
She thought members of council should get out and meet the public much more. She acknowledged that council members have boards and committees they have to sit on and wondered if city council could not be enlarged by perhaps two members who would be Member at Large with no specific ward responsibilities but they would handle the boards and committee work: The Hospital Board, the Library board, the Performing Arts Centre Board and the Arty Gallery along with the Downtown Business Development Association.

The idea needs discussion and some fleshing out – but it has merit. Not bad for someone who isn’t yet a rookie member of council.

Stolte is basically a decent person; deception isn’t something she learned, listening is something she had to learn. Social workers make decisions about people lives and they don’t get the opportunity to correct any mistakes they make.

If our reading of the city is correct – the citizens want a change and they want their council members to not only listen but to hear what the residents are saying and to be accountable to them.

Burlington is so damned polite that they never say; Excuse me, that isn’t quite what I had in mind.

Orchard PArk residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a citty staff recomendation for parkland in their community.

Citizens often pack city hall to delegate and hope that they are being heard.

There is a strong core group that has been very vocal – for the most part it is very active south of the QEW. There are people in the northern part of the city who know next to nothing about city hall. They willingly pay taxes that have been increased at about 4% every year and for some of the communities they put up with parking problems that are impossible to deal with.

Stolte is the only candidate in a one-on-one race with a long term incumbent. Dennison does not do well in the Roseland community. His decision to sever his Lakeshore Road property really offended that community – so much so that they blackballed him from membership at the community association.

Dennison - second house

The second house built on the property that Jack Dennison managed to sever.

Dennison lost his application for the right to sever the property. That didn’t stop him. He appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board where he won the right to sever and build a second house – which he promptly moved into and rented the house with an historical designation that Dennison always spoke of as a badge or personal honour.

The phrase ‘conflict of interest’ is not one that Dennison ever really understood; he certainly didn’t abide by it. His Cedar Springs health club sold services to the city which put him in a conflict of interest which Dennison rarely declared. For Jack Dennison – he was just taking care of business.

Dennison email

A portion of a recent newsletter Councillor Dennison sent out. A number of people have claimed that Dennison used city resources in putting together the email list he used – a no no in municipal election. The tone of this news letter is pretty defensive.

At the end of the Q&A at Nelson high school the moderator asked the candidates to talk about their strengths and weakness. Stolte was as direct as you can expect. She said she was a social worker and active in community development because those two occupations spoke to her personal values.

Were someone to suggest at some point in the future that a decision she made as a council member was a conflict of interest she would be aghast. Openness and transparency are written all over the woman.

Being accountable is something that she will learn – it isn’t that she is not accountable – she is entering an arena where competing interests want her support. She will make wise decisions and she will make mistakes and learn that it is very hard to be accountable in the eyes of everyone.

Is she up to it? We think so; Shawna Stolte is certainly a far better choice than the incumbent.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison the day he announced the sale of his health club – a difficult day emotionally.

Dennison has made a point of keeping his constituents informed with his newsletters. He used to hold regular meetings at the health club when he owned it. Residents remember that. We recall one comment from a Gazette reader who wanted Jack to run for Mayor. He built that kind of loyalty and when he helped you out he let you know, and would remind you, that he had helped.

Being a city Councillor for Jack Dennison was friends taking care of friends.

If you live in ward 4 and haven’t yet voted – make some time to watch the video. You can skip through parts of it – especially the part where Dennison explains the way the tax rate is determined. Not sure he would understand what he said if he were to listen to it again.

The ward 4 choices are very clear. If the residents want change – Stolte offers that.

The 2018-2022 Council will be different – there are going to be at least three new members due to the Councillors Taylor and Craven retirements and Meed Ward giving up her seat to run for Mayor.

There may also be a new Mayor – Rick Goldring is in a very very tight race.

Electing Shawna Stolte in ward 4 would mean the new Council members would be a majority on the seven member council; something the Mayor choices would have to deal with.

There are dozens of news stories on Jack Dennison.  Use the Gazette search tool on the Home page to find them.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page

City Clerk explains why the delay in getting the PIN number needed to complete on-line voting.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 15th, 2018


Headline has been revised after details supplied by City Clerk/Returning Officer

Mark Gillies, a frequent contributor to the Gazette had a problem when he went online to vote.

on line voting“My wife and I tried online voting this morning. It was unsuccessful. We followed the entire procedure successfully, right up until a PIN number was to be emailed to each of us from the city. Usually, something like this would be sent immediately, but in this case we’ve waited patiently for over half an hour, and still nothing has been sent.

“I’m wondering if other residents of Burlington have been facing the same problem. If they are, then this whole online voting is a complete waste of time and a big embarrassment for the City of Burlington.”

City Clerk and Returning Officer for the municipal election Angela Morgan has advised us that “there are absolutely no problems with internet voting.   As we have stated in all of our materials, it can take up to 24 hours to receive your PIN.

“There are a number of security measures in the background that need to be verified before a PIN in released.  Also, in some cases, the PIN e-mail has gone into the SPAM folder in voter’s inbox which is based on the settings with their providers.

City Clerk Angela Morgan fails to ensure media alerted to Special Council meeting. Her communications people dropped the ball as well.

City Clerk Angela Morgan signing the 2010 election returns. That was an easy election – the 2018 event is turning out to be a much more boisterous event.

“We have staff assisting any voter that is having issues or have not received their PIN after 24 hours – from my count a very small number of people have not received their PIN after 24 hours and in the majority of cases it has to do with their e-mail provider.”

If you need help – call the city at 905-335-7600.  The city clerk advises that 9,000 people have registered to vote online and the majority of those have cast their ballots.

Gillies pointed out that “younger voters would prefer online voting rather than taking the time to line up at a polling station. How many of these younger voters might just not bother to vote at a polling station then? I wonder if this apparent screw up would favour, or harm any of the candidates.”

Gillies adds that this is “such a decisive election” every vote needs to be counted properly.

Gilles wrote a series of articles on the people who built the city we have today. His series on Spencer Smith were exceptional.

Return to the Front page

City issues a second banning notice - tougher than the first one and using the flimsiest of evidence

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 15th, 2018


Part 4 of a series

Let’s review the facts we have so far.

In the fall of 2016, the city administration claims there were complaints about my behavior with female staff at city hall.

They do not ask me to come into city hall and discuss that behavior.

They hire an independent investigator who interviews some people. I have no idea who those people are.

I am not interviewed. A report is prepared and presented to city council in a Closed Session believed to have taken place between August 25th and November 16th, 2016.

James Ridge

Burlington city manager James Ridge now in the fourth year of a five year contract.

On November 17th of 2016 James Ridge City manager asks to meet with me. I assume there is going to be an interview. When I inquire as to what we will be discussing Ridge doesn’t say. He then sends me a letter via email which set out and advises me that the city is using the Trespass Act to prevent me from entering city hall or Sims Square.  If I want to enter city hall I must be escorted by security personnel.

I am apparently allowed to enter other city buildings, the Transit offices, the Roads and Park Maintenance office.  I choose not to enter any city premises.  The details of this first ban are set out in part 3 of this series.

There is more detail on part 3 of this series – the link to that is at the bottom of this article

I meet with an individual who has served in municipal administrations in very senior positions and asked what he would have done if he had faced this kind of a situation that involved me. The response was: We would have met with you, described the behavior and cautioned you.  I meet with this person, someone I have known for more than a decade, on a number of occasions.

It takes a full year for all this to play itself out.

The first banning was for a period of a year after which it was to be reviewed. That review would have been sometime after November 20th 2017


Mary Lou Tanner came to Burlington as the Director of Planning and promoted to Deputy city manager sometime later.

In July of 2017 I take part in a walking tour of John Street with City planner Mary Lou Tanner and staff planner Charles Mulay. The tour lasted about an hour. The conversation was amiable; I learn how planners take a longer look at a part of the city that is undergoing change.

The story on that tour is published in the Gazette on  July 17th.

The Grow Bold Plan the Planning department has released in being discussed publicly – there are numerous city sponsored meetings. I am in touch with planning staff by telephone continually for follow up questions.

Bustamenta - centre ice

Planning department staff at a public meeting.

Some of the staff appear to be uncomfortable with what they can tell me. On a few occasions staff suggest I clear the request with Tanner.

Tanner and I come to an agreement that I will ask my questions of staff electronically and copy Tanner on all the requests for information.

I was beginning to feel that the city really just wanted to restrict my access to information that any journalist is entitled to. The role of a journalist is to ask questions.

On October 30th 2017,  the date is critical – it is the day before Halloween. I send Mary Lou Tanner an email – when she can be available for a phone call. I get one of those “out of the office” responses.

Tanners out of office notice

Later that same evening of October 30th, 2017 at 6:47 pm I send Tanner a note. At the bottom of the note there is an emoji, which in my world signifies that the contents are meant to be funny.

The pre Haloween email

The wording of that email is quite small – It said; “I have had developers tell me that you are using the time off to prepare you witch costume and broom for Tuesday night. Any comment – for attribution?  The spelling error was mine.

On November 20th, there is a response from the city manager. Portion of that letter appear below.  The complete letter is appended at the bottom of this article.

Despite the actions taken by the City, those actions appear to have been ineffective in preventing your further harassment of female staff. On the 30th of October this year, I was contacted by the Director of Planning and Building, Ms. Tanner, who provided me with a copy of an e-mail that you had sent to her that was both offensive and misogynistic in nature. Ms.

Tanner was very disturbed by your action in this regard. The City simply cannot and will not permit you to continue to harass our staff and in particular our female staff.

As a direct result of your actions, I have decided that the restrictions placed on your access to City Hall functions and contact with staff pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act as set out in my September 8, 2016 correspondence will continue indefinitely with two modifications as highlighted below.

This second banning is indefinite which I did not believe the city had the right to do.

I kept the correspondence from the city to myself and the small group of advisors I had put together.  When Councillor Lancaster posted a comment on the Facebook Burlington News in September that I had been banned from city hall I decided it was time for me to tell my story and to make the letters from the city public.

The Lancaster comments are set out in part 2 of this series.  I filed a formal complaint with the Integrity Commissioner because I believe Lancaster published information she got from a Closed Session of city council

I had already engaged a new lawyer who wrote the city. I had to borrow the $5000 retainer the lawyer required. His hourly rate was more than my disposable income for a month.

When the first banning notice was put in place I struggled to figure out what it was I had done to merit the action the city manager had taken.  I had done nothing.

When I was given the second banning notice in November of 2017 – this one was for an indefinite term, I finally had some evidence.  An email – sent as a humorous Halloween joke was all the city had.  They decided to define it as misogynistic and sexual harassment.  It was nothing of the kind.  The city manager was going to use whatever pretense he could come up with to keep me out of city hall and away from staff.

The letter the new lawyers had sent to the city manager got a response; things begin to change; city hall suggested we meet.

More on that change in tone at city hall in the next installment.

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Part 3 of the series.

Next: Part 5 of a series – final part.

Apology to Mary Lou Tanner

Complete November 20th, 2017 letter

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Return to the Front page


opinionred 100x100By Jim Barnett

October 15th, 2018


Jim Barnett can remember a time when the city had a number of rate payer associations that kept city council on its toes.  Now that there is a grass roots organization in place at least three members of  the current council is doing everything they can to trash the group and get rid of them.

The term of the current Burlington city council is almost over and this is a good thing. In my opinion there has been little teamwork likely due to a lack of leadership, taxes raised beyond the rate of inflation, and no clear plan for the future. Grow Bold is not a plan, it is an essay on what should be planned.

The root cause for the difficulty we are in was caused by politicians creating a green belt which resulted in Burlington loosing half of its land from development opportunities. They forgot that this created a scarcity of land on which to grow in Burlington and ignored the classic economics that scarcity leads to increase prices, and in Burlington’s case has priced many people right out of the market and put great hardship on those needing “affordable housing”.

high profile 421

The developers indeed did see the opening – they took the risk and they won.

Developers saw this scarcity coming and took advantage of it. They were then given an additional gift with the downtown designated as a mobility hub requiring intensification and the race was on.

The old plan, and in fact the one that is still on the books in Burlington, limits heights of building to four to six stories. Yet even with this regulation the developers have been able to get the planning department to present to council projects with over 20 stories on many occasions. Somewhere the citizens of Burlington lost control of their city and we find our elected council spending all their time blaming the Provincial government and the OMB for the loss of character in the place we live. In my opinion the blame is with them. The new plan, currently at the region for review still needs a lot of work to put meaningful measurements into it and I hope the new council will make its first order of business to put a defensible plan supported by the citizens in front of the region.

I have been a regular delegator, both to the committees and to council for the past six years. I have attended three of the recent debates and read extensively the campaigns, both in print and on electronic mediums. I have drawn the following conclusions.

Goldring with bikeMayor Goldring has decided to double down on his record. If you are happy with the Burlington city tax increases, the plans for the downtown in disarray, and wanting more of the same, he is your man.

Portrait standingMead Ward seems to be in sync with the majority of Burlington residents about development and had the right solution to the Pier debacle. However, she seems to end up in a lot of six to one votes. Has she a consensus building problem? Can she provide leadership? Will she be willing to address she staffing problems?

WallaceWallace does not seem to be part of the current problems which is an asset. His campaign has a lot of good ideas and seems to be more aware that it will take collaboration with the region and the province to find solutions to our ills. If you think he can deliver on that need, read his campaign again.

WoodruffWoodruff has some refreshing ideas and rookie naivety. He need seasoning at the councilor level.

While I am at it, If you live in wards five and six, remember your current councilors, Sharman and Lancaster refused to participate in a public debate. Democracy is presenting yourself and your ideas to the electorate. What did they want to hide? Dennison, to his credit, while initially refusing, saw the light and attended most of the debate he was asked to attend.

Our future depends on fixing the parking issues, developing a realistic traffic plan including transit and listening to the citizens. A good start would be to having committee chairs pay attention to what the delegations are saying and realizing when the delegations are being critical of the council and staff they might be right! For starters all the new council should read the file, The Road Diet on New Street versus the people.



Return to the Front page