//static.getclicky.com/js

Letter to the editor - unparalleled examples of nastiness in Burlington’s municipal election campaign.

Letter to the editorBy Carol Victor

October 14th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

These past few weeks have seen unparalleled examples of nastiness in Burlington’s municipal election campaign.

As a citizen I am disgusted by the lack of respect shown particularly to mayoral candidate Marianne Meed Ward.

People in Burlington are very engaged in this election for good reason. Unprecedented over-development has been the focus of discussion and this issue has materialized in every candidate debate. Many depositions were heard at City Hall to no avail.

In two recent debates, candidates were asked to provide a summary of their platforms. In both instances, the current mayor used his time to personally attack and denigrate Meed Ward who has been his chief opponent re-development.

After the debate, I was shocked to see that the candidate in Ward 3, Peter Rusin had uploaded a disgusting article where he compares Meed Ward with the incumbent Goldring and accuses Meed Ward of being a liar.

Rusin 2

This leaflet was published electronically and delivered to mailboxes in the city. Peter Rusin has been negative about Marianne Meed Ward since 2010. At one point the GAzette had to ask that he refrain from using the comment section of the Gazette. In 2014 Rusin ran for the Office of Mayor challenging Rick Goldring.

A printed version of this article was mailed to households across Burlington this week.

Rusin 1

A better understanding about Peter Rusin and his beleifs can be seen in the ECoB video of the Ward 3 debate.

This style of politics has no place in Canadian society. There is enough of that elsewhere. We must insist as voters that our leaders have integrity and demonstrate respect during the democratic process.

Carol Victor is a Burlington resident who contributes to the Comments section of the Gazette frequently.

Ward 3 debate.

 

Return to the Front page

Chamber of Commerce hosts the final Mayoralty question and answer session.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 14th, 2108

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was thee last debate for the Mayoralty candidates – this one hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

All the debates put on this year have been broadcast and available to the public. That is a plus. The Gazette’s raison d’etre is that an informed community can make informed decisions. It is nice to see the other media catching up.

With each of the debates running an hour and a half – few are going to choose to hang in for the full show.

Our job is to watch all this stuff. As we watched the Chamber of Commerce debate a few things became really clear.

All candidates

Candidates at the Chamber of Commerce Q&A. Everyone was polite with Greg Woodruff making some very penetrating comments. Tim CCCC moderated.

Of the four candidates: Rick Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward, Mike Wallace and Greg Woodruff – Woodruff was the one who had ideas and cogent comments. Again and again his comments put the question being asked into clearer focus.
.
Meed Ward was clear on her approach: Stop doing what we have been doing; it isn’t working and it won’t work.

GoldringGoldring seems to need to fudge and fuddle his numbers. He continues to say that the tax increases were equal to inflation. Just not true Your Worship. The only part of the tax bill city council controls is the city budget and for the past seven years the city has been putting out a budget that asks for 4% more each year – and that that isn’t sustainable.

Should Goldring be  re-elected he is going to have to bite that bullet and either spend less or tax even more, which the city has already done. The city asked its citizens to agree to an additional 1% tax levy to cover the city’s share of re-building and transforming the Joseph Brant Hospital. The $60 million that had to be raised and has been raised through a special tax levy should have ended. It didn’t – the city is continuing to collect that money and using it for infrastructure improvements. City council had an obligation to ask the public if it could continue to collect that special levy.

Mike Wallace is depending on his successes on getting federal funds into the city and his “connections” at Queen’s Park where be believes he can be heard. He does have a good idea for the creation of a community that could be built to attract those high tech jobs and also be a place where younger people can afford to live. It was done in Toronto in what is known as Liberty Village. It’s possible but it is a huge task – one well beyond anything Wallace has done in the past.

WallaceHe has his eye on a location for this – he has a developer who appears to be prepared to work with him. Wallace doesn’t always say where the land is and who the developer is. The words Wallace is looking for are Paletta and Bronte Meadows at the curve in the road where Upper Middle becomes Burloak is zoned as employment lands. The Paletta’s have been trying really hard to get a zoning change on that property so they can build residential – which is where the real money is.

Meed WardMeed Ward has grown as a city Councillor. She is on the wrong end of a lot of 6-1 council votes – she is also on the right end of the more than two dozen changes she brought to the Official Plan debates.

Everyone, except the Mayor took the position that the council we have now hasn’t worked very well. It has been unruly frequently with two members who disrupt, colluding and focus far too much of their energy on hammering Meed Ward. Councillor Craven has decided to retire; Councillor Sharman is running for re-election.

The existing Council was split with Taylor and Meed Ward able from time to time to pull in the Mayor and Councillor Dennison.

Councillors Craven, Sharman and Lancaster were continually and consistently opposed to most of what Meed Ward was trying to do.

When asked what the role of a Mayor was Goldring said the job was “to try for consensus” which he said had been achieved with the Strategic Plan and made it sound like it was the bedrock on which the city is going to be built. In the past Strategic Plans have been the four year vision of a council. There is nothing that says a new council has to accept a plan voted for by a previous council.

It is really hard to come up with a decision made by this council that was brought about by the Mayor working with and persuading council to do something.

Mike Wallace said the Mayor has to be an effective leader and to communicate the council’s decisions to the community. Wallace stressed that the job was to collaborate with the other members of Council.

WoodruffWoodruff pointed out that there are situations where “you are dealing with bad people” who vilify the person they are disagreeing with – “when that happens all communication stops”. He was quite right – that is what happened to the current city council and the Mayor was never able to bridge the differences and pull the parties together.

Meed Ward did bring disruption to city council. She wasn’t one of those “go along to get along” people. She believed that she understood the will of the residents and brought that understanding to city council where it turned out to be less than welcome.  Meed Ward pressed on and paid a very high price – she was on the receiving end of the vilification Woodruff mentioned.

These asre the rural lands north of the Dundas-Highway 407 boundary. PERL wants them protected forever. Some want to build communities in this part of the city.

These are the rural lands north of the Dundas-Highway 407 boundary.

The Mayor and Meed Ward agreed on the status of the rural lands north of the Hwy 407 and Dundas Road divide: leave them as they are. Meed Ward said there was an agricultural sector that could be grown, Mike Wallace said the land on the north side of the divide should be developed. Woodruff pointed out that once you develop as much as a foot of land north of the divide – where does it end?

Wallace, who describes himself as the “architect of the current seven member council” believes that the city needs a bigger council. He isn’t wrong but there are complications in creating a larger council.

Currently all members of city council are members of Regional council as well and where, for the ward Councillors, have of their income is earned. If the city adds two members to city council they are not going to become Regional Councillors. Burlington has just seven seats on the Regional Council.

Meed Ward suggests these new members might be seen as Councillors at large – with no ward to represent.
The work load at the Standing Committee is heavy – getting some help at that level is needed. A lot of debate needed on this issue – the incoming council will have bigger fish to fry.

Meed Ward points out that the city is going to have a “new” Council. Two council members resigned and Meed Ward gave up her seat to run for Mayor which means there will be at least three new council members.

She adds that if there is a new Mayor that will mean there could be some 4-3 votes in the future.

There was a time between 2006 and 2010 when Council bemoaned those 4-3 votes. Given the past four years they are looking very welcome.

Cannabis: does Burlington vote to allow commercial operations or does it take a pass on allowing them right now? Meed Ward said yes, Woodruff said yes. Wallace and Goldring thought the city should wait and see what the regulations are going to be.

The views on cannabis are forming along generational lines – same thing seems to be the case for city council.

The debate season is over; what this last debate didn’t have was the intemperate remarks the Mayor made at the Burlington Green and ECoB debates.

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

ECoB Mayoralty debate

Burlington Green Mayoralty debate

Chamber of Commerce debate.

Return to the Front page

Rivers: Clearly his Cabinet and caucus, acting like the well trained sheep they’ve been so far, are not going to change his mind. Are they/you all sheep as well?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“The world can’t say it wasn’t warned – repeatedly. But unfortunately, the dire cautions being levelled by climate scientists these days don’t seem to be precipitating the global panic and outrage that they should.” (Globe and Mail – Oct 10, 2018)

If we are already experiencing global warming, why did it snow so heavily and early in Calgary this year? The answer apparently has to do with the warming of the Arctic. The melting of the polar ice is affecting how the jet stream functions, and the jet stream has a lot to do with our weather patterns.

This new wobble or crookedness of the jet stream is also the reason last year’s hurricane Harvey, the costliest on record at $125 billion in damages, stalled and flooded Texas instead of striking and moving on as hurricanes used to do. Of course the final bills aren’t yet in from either Florence or Michael.

tipping-point- matches

Tipping point

The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the earth. And as the ice melts it stops reflecting solar radiation which enables further warming. And one day within the next decade, as the permafrost really thaws, there will be massive releases of frozen methane. That won’t be the end of the planet but it will be the end of the planet as we know it – the so-called tipping point will have been passed.

But Donald Trump has heard that the climate in the future will be fabulous. I mean who needs 6,000 scientific references from 91 authors across 40 countries when your would-be prescient president knows better. Perhaps he gets his grounding in science from playing as a real estate tycoon and reality show host. Trump calls climate change a hoax and has taken pride in rolling back Obama-era climate change policies, one after the other. First it was coal emissions and power plants, then auto emissions, and now HFCs, (hydrofluorocarbon) the so-called ‘super-pollutants’.

HFCs were the first replacement chemical for the ozone destroying CFCs, (Chlorofluorocarbons)  which had been used universally in air conditioning and hair sprays. It was a rare moment back in the ‘80s when the entire world agreed to phase out the global production of CFC and thus to help forestall a global epidemic of skin cancers. But HFCs add 14,000 times as much global warming to the atmosphere as CO2 when they eventually get released.

And that is where Trump’s Brett Kavanaugh comes in. As a lower court judge, a little while ago, Kavanaugh overruled an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulation to ban HFC’s. And as if in a nod of approval to their newest member, the US Supreme Court just the other day denied an appeal on that decision. Now at least we understand why Trump was so keen on this appointment which places all three centres of government under his thumb.

What we don’t understand is the rationale behind Trump’s criminal neglect of the health of the planet. And it is already contagious. For example, Australia, despite toying with green energy and being the perfect candidate for self-sufficient solar collection, has decided to stick with coal for 60% of its electricity. And then there is Canada where the conservative party’s brain trusts are all in lock-step with Trump, regardless that they disclaim being climate deniers.

In any case, we Canadians talk a good story on the environment, but we’re not much better than the Americans in terms of our per capita GHG (Green House Gasses) emissions. We’re just smaller so pollute less in aggregate. And we are every bit as schizophrenic as our American cousins when it comes to climate policy, vacillating between doing something with liberals in power then reversing and otherwise doing nothing when conservatives take over.

The fate of our planet should not be the subject of political partisanship – it is a serious matter and we should all be in this together. Yet only one political party in Canada is opposed to taking action to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps it’s because today’s Conservatives haven’t got any other issues and are desperately trying to distinguish themselves from the others.

American economist William Nordhaus’ won this year’s Nobel Prize for economic research only a week ago. His research verifies that the most efficient remedy for problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions is a global scheme of carbon taxes uniformly imposed on all countries. But the leading forces of Canada’s conservative parties think they know better.

Doug Ford, Jason Kenny, Scott Moe and even Andrew Scheer are so bent and determined on doing everything to prevent Canadians from doing anything to help in the fight against global warming, you’d think they were being paid by the fossil fuel industries instead of the people. But B.C.’s decade-long experience with carbon taxes proves that the carbon taxes don’t kill jobs. It is absolutely not the worst tax, as the Tory Neanderthals would have you believe.

In fact the arguments of these political leaders are totally baseless, flawed and misleading. First of all, carbon taxes are revenue neutral, so the money goes back to the taxpayers. There may be distributional effects but the tax is as efficient as any. And clearly the higher the tax, the more effective it would be in changing human behaviour.

A damaged apartment building is seen in Gatineau, Que. on Sunday, September 23, 2018. Houses and Apartment buildings had roofs torn off and windows blown out and automobiles were damaged after a tornado caused extensive damage on Friday to a Gatineau neighbourhood forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

A damaged apartment building is seen in Gatineau, Que. on Sunday, September 23, 2018. Houses and Apartment buildings had roofs torn off and windows blown out and automobiles were damaged after a tornado caused extensive damage on Friday to a Gatineau neighbourhood forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Second, the costs of not taking action are incredibly high as we see with $125 b damages for Harvey and $90 billion for Maria, last year alone. Yes that is America, but what about Ottawa-Gatineau? Higher insurance premiums, greater costs for government relief and uninsured personal losses await us all in the future.

And finally if those leaders do believe that climate change is real, what are they proposing as an alternative to the carbon tax. Ford cancelled the cap and trade program, which was even more effective at reducing emissions with an even lower cost than a simple carbon tax. Cap and trade would have cost Ontario households a buck a day using Ford’s own figures, before netting out the consumer energy savings from better windows and insulation.

Carbon taxes - how they workThe federal

 

environment minister has compared cancelling cap and trade in Ontario to the equivalent of opening 30 new coal-fired power plants. Still Ford has no alternate plan – and after also killing the province’s renewable energy program he may well take Ontario back to burning coal.

Much has been said about the financial legacy we leave our children and grandchildren, but what about the state of the planet we bequeath them? I didn’t vote for Ford in part because his only plan for the environment had to do with cleaning up litter. But some of you out there must have or he would never have become premier.

So it’s up to you, those who supported him, to let him know that the emperor’s new clothes leave us all naked to a future none of us should relish. Clearly his Cabinet and caucus, acting like the well trained sheep they’ve been so far, are not going to change his mind. So what about those 40 something percent of Ontario voters who put him into office. Are they/you all sheep as well?

I have always been careful in writing this column to embrace passion but stay unemotional. But I am angry now. This is about the future of our planet and we should know better. This is not a drill, there will be no second chances. How will we explain to our grandchildren that we failed them because ideology and partisan politics got in the way?

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:

Arctic Warming Per Capita Emissions –    Tipping Points –    Ford’s Carbon Tax Phobia

Nobel Prize –    HFC Court Action –    Stopping Climate Change at the Table

What is Plan B

Return to the Front page

How the city banned the Gazette publisher from city hall.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a series

It was September 8th of 2016. There was an email from City Manager James Ridge asking for a meeting in room 307 at City Hall.

That struck me as odd – that room is quite large and is seldom used for interviews.

There was some back and forth email about the purpose of the meeting which ended in Mr. Ridge sending me a letter attached to an email.

The letter was stunning. In part it said:

Your attendance at all meetings of Council and its Standing Committees is banned. You are able to access the broadcasting of these meetings in real time from another location.

Before attending at City Hall or Sims Square for any other reason, you need to contact by telephone or e-mail either myself, the Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd, or the City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol. One of us will arrange for an appointment between yourself and the staff member or member of Council and so advise you of the meeting time and place.

We will pre-arrange in advance to have security available to escort you to and from your meeting and you should report directly to security upon your arrival at City hall or Sims Square.

My first question after reading the letter the once was: can they do this?

The second question was – why are they doing this.

I re-read the letter a few times and then talked it over with legal counsel. As it turned out the lawyer was attending a meeting of the Hamilton-Burlington Bar Association. She asked if she could show the letter to some of her trusted colleagues.

All had one response: Where is the due process?

One of the several people I pulled together into a support group said: “The point is you have been discriminated against and are being harassed by the city – banned so that you can’t continue providing in-depth coverage – and they are hiding behind some unknown accusation by some unknown people and some unknown investigation into unknown allegations – it’s what they do in Russia.”

At the time I was going through a divorce from the woman I moved to Burlington to marry. It was a painful process for me and it took a few years to work through it. Vows and covenants were real to me.

I was referred to a lawyer whose practice was in Oakville. She wrote the city a letter on my behalf; Ridge said his position would not be changed.

It became clear to me that I didn’t have the legal representation I needed and began to work with a lawyer in Toronto who understood the issue and the Trespass Act quite well.

Unfortunately there were health issues and he had to withdraw.

I was now at the point where the one year ban was to be reviewed.

I did not go into city hall or Sims Square. I continued to do what I’ve always done as a journalist: call people and ask questions. I didn’t believe Ridge had the right to do what he was doing. I knew nothing about the behaviour. The city had held an investigation that I wasn’t involved in

The issues my legal counsel has was one of my Charter rights, the total lack of due process and the city inserting itself into media matters.

I know who I am; I know how I behave and I know what is right and what is wrong.

My difficulty was this: What is it that the city says I have done?

There was an investigation.

Why didn’t anyone interview me ?

Who am I supposed to have offended or have been vexatious with? I have never touched anyone inappropriately.

When did these events take place? Where did they take place?

The first letter from the city was in 2016 – before the #Metoo movement.

There is language that is now toxic if used irresponsibly. If I did something the city believed harassment of a sexual nature the city should have immediately called the police.

That didn’t happen. They brought in an investigator.

I asked for the name of the investigator – not going to give it to you was Ridge’s response.

The year ended and there was nothing from the city on reviewing the ban.

Instead the city issued a second ban – this time I had some evidence.

I will share that with you in the next installment.

The content of the September 8th, 2016 letter is set out below.

It has been brought to the attention of senior management at the City of Burlington, that there has been a series of incidents involving women working at City Hall and yourself that have given us cause for concern. Several women have come forward and provided information documenting interactions between themselves and you that require the City administration to take further action.

As a result of the concerns raised, the City undertook a workplace investigation with the assistance of an external investigator. The investigation was conducted with the framework of the City’s Respect in the Workplace policy (a copy of which is attached), as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”). As an employer, the City of Burlington has an obligation under the OHSA to ensure that it provides a workplace that is free from harassment. The Act provides the following definition of “workplace harassment”:

“engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is know or ought reasonably be known to be unwelcome”.

Sexual harassment can take the form of harassment based on sex or gender. The Ontario Human Rights Commission provides that sexual harassment can take on a number of different forms such as:

• Invading a person’s personal space
• Making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching
• Making gender related comments about someone’s physical appearance or mannerisms.

The findings of the workplace investigation conclude that the behaviours that you have exhibited towards certain women working at City Hall constitute sexual and gender based harassment in the workplace. As a result of this finding, as the City Manager, I must take action under the Trespass to Property Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. T.21 to limit your access to and interactions with city staff. In order to address the concerns that have been raised, the findings of the investigation, and to meet our commitment to provide a harassment free workplace, the following restrictions on your access to the city’s workplaces are being implemented immediately:

1. Your attendance at all meetings of Council and its Standing Committees is banned. You are able to access the broadcasting of these meetings in real time from another location.

2. Before attending at City Hall or Sims Square for any other reason, you need to contact by telephone or e-mail either myself, the Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd, or the City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol. One of us will arrange for an appointment between yourself and the staff member or member of Council and so advise you of the meeting time and place.

3. We will pre-arrange in advance to have security available to escort you to and from your meeting and you should report directly to security upon your arrival at City hall or Sims Square.

4. If when you arrive, security is not present in the lobby, please have the receptionist locate them, and have a seat in the lobby until such time as security is available to escort you to your meeting. Also have the person you are meeting with notify security when your meeting is finished so that you can be escorted from the building.

5. If you have a need to contact staff either by email or by telephone, please direct your inquiries through that individual’s Director.

6. When attending City sponsored events such as public meetings, open houses, social events located at places other than City Hall or Sims Square, you are to refrain from interacting with city staff, its representatives or councillors. If you have questions you would like to follow up with, please follow the protocol in #5 above.

7. Finally, if a member of staff has expressed a desire not to have their photograph taken, you are to refrain from doing so.

The restrictions on your access to people working at or for the City of Burlington will be reviewed in 1 year’s time. If there have not been any further complaints respecting interactions with you, these restrictions may be lifted. If however, any further complaints are received the City will effect your complete ban from all city workplaces under the Trespass to Property Act.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Next: Part 4 of a series.

Return to the Front page

Steve Cussons takes a strip off the Mayor's hide after the ECoB debate.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We hear about video and tweets going viral, which in Burlington might mean 8,000 souls.

Steve Cussons, an Aldershot resident and a member of the PAR Committee that was put in place to allow school parents to debate the various options that were being discussed when school closing issues were keeping everyone up late at night.

Steve Cussons AldershotCussons was attending the ECoB debate and went ballistic when he heard Mayor Goldring take a swipe at Marianne Meed Ward during his closing remarks.  The Mayor had done basically the same thing at the Burlington Green debate when he stunned that audience with his remarks, again, about Meed Ward.

She wants his job and he isn’t going to let her have it without a fight. And if it takes a punch to the kidneys – so be it.

For Cussons this was no-go area.  A couple of minutes after the closing of the debate Cussons got himself in front of the Mayor and let it all hang out.

and took on the Mayor after the debate at Central high school Tuesday evening.

The Steve Cussons dust up with the Mayor is a click away.

 

The Burlington Green debate – closing remarks are at the 1:50:00 minute point.

Return to the Front page

Publisher of the Gazette files a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner against Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 8th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a series

Late in September Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster used the Facebook page Burlington News to explain why she was not going to take part in the debate the was organized by ECoB.

LANCASTER IN PINK FROM HER CAMPAIGN

A former Miss Canada Beauty Queen Ward 3 Councillor Blair Lancaster.

She believed the facilitator of the debate Mark Carr was biased – he ran against Lancaster in 2010.

Lancaster appears to have difficulty with just what bias is.  In another note she posted  on the Facebook page Burlington News she said:

“As you can see in the photo there is clearly a bias when the host of the show ran against me in the past and the co-host ran against me in the past and is now running again against me. I will not be participating in a debate hosted and organized by such an obvious biased group of individuals.”

Blair on The Issue

Ward 3 city Councillor Blair Lancaster refused to take part in a ward level debate because she believed the moderator was biased – for appearing on a cable TV program along with another candidate who had run against her. The TV program took place months before election campaigning began.

She also took exception to two news stories the Gazette published; she said we had threatened her in one of the articles.

The two stories are set out here:

Why is it that incumbents don’t want to defend what they have done?

Lancaster tells ECoB she won’t participate in their debate – blames the Gazette.

We invited readers to look at the article and let us know if you can find any threats. We did not threaten Ms Lancaster.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious; still in a 'learning mode'.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious.

There were two parts to the comment Lancaster made on the Burlington News Facebook page. The second part had to do with my personal relationship with city hall.

Ms Lancaster wrote:

The editor of the Gazette has already been banned from city facilities for other inappropriate actions.

Our first question is: Where did Lancaster get this information? We didn’t give it to her.

There is a problem with my access to city hall – I will elaborate on that and give you full disclosure.

The information Lancaster made public was given to her, and every other member of city council during a closed session of city council sometime between August 25th 2017 and November 16th 2017.

The city is permitted, under the Municipal Act, to go into a closed session to hear matters related to property matters and human resource issues.

Disclosing matters that are discussed in a closed session of city council is a serious matter. Serious enough for a Judge to actually remove a member of a city council from office.

In September of this year the Region of Halton and all four municipalities engaged Integrity Principals as the Integrity Commissioner for the Region and the four municipalities.

Councillor Blair Lancaster gets out to almost every photo op there is and has served as the lead spokesperson at a number of NGTA community events with crowrs of 250+. Her constituents are not happy with how she is handling the Air PArk issue.

Councillor Blair Lancaster at a photo op.

I filed a complaint with the Commissioner on Lancaster’s abuse of the City Code of Good Governance. That complaint will follow a process that is set out. I have been told that there will not be any response from the Integrity Commissioner until after the election.

Lancaster is not incorrect; I have been banned from city hall.

Why? That is complex and I will explain that in detail in the next article in this series.

Part 1 of a series

Next – Part 3 of a series

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

Return to the Front page

Mike Allen - Lemmings - every blessed one of them

Editorial cartoonists are left to their own devices. The Editor doesn’t get to tell them what to do. Mike Allen will run an idea by us but that’s as far as the editors gets to go.

We loved the sentiment in this one – can anyone spot the flaw.

Two of the Goodness of Guinness at the Queen’s Head on the Gazette’s tab for the first person who spots the flaw. Send your best guess to publisher@bgzt.ca  Offer expires 6:00 pm Sunday the 7th

MMW lemming Oct 7

Return to the Front page

Given all the evidence, and in the absence of a better rationale, climate warming can't be logically denied. We’re in the lobster pot and the heat is on.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 6th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

To cook live lobsters you place them in a large pot of cold water and set the pot on high heat. The lobsters may be confused at first by their new surroundings, but being crustaceans, they always try to remain positive. You can barely hear them as they discuss their recent travels and the interesting things they witnessed under sea before crawling into that darn trap.

In a matter of minutes they will begin to feel their environment heating up and the lobster chat quickly turns to lobster screams of panic – hey somebody get me the heck out of here. But eventually the screaming stops as the inevitable befalls them – and soon they are ready for the garlic butter.

That’s us, without the garlic butter. Of course we can’t say with certainty that climate change wouldn’t have happened anyway. The greenhouse effect is really just a theory after all. But given all the evidence, and in the absence of a better rationale, it can’t logically be denied. We’re in the lobster pot and the heat is on.

hurricane-maria-

Hurricane Maria smashed into Puerto Rico years ago – they have yet to recover.

Take hurricane Maria which smashed into Puerto Rico last year leaving over 4000 people dead and over 90 billion dollars in damages behind its brief visit. That is almost the entire annual GDP of the small US owned island. And here our own Doug Ford was off in Calgary this week lecturing Albertans on the evils of a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gases. That would be because it has increased the price of gasoline by so little that nobody even noticed when Ford killed the provincial cap and trade carbon tax.

We can’t afford a carbon tax but we can afford the mounting costs of insurance and property taxes. There is the inevitable bail-out for communities like Ottawa and Gatineau, once the bills are in for the damages from their most recent spontaneous twin tornadoes. How much was spent helping people recover from Burlington, Toronto and Calgary’s floods a few years ago?

Go trains flooded

The Don River overflows in Toronto.

It’s not that Ford and his disciples are necessarily stupid and/or shortsighted. It’s that they’re clearly incapable of comprehending complex matters, like the science behind climate change and sound economic policy. Alternatively, they are being deceitful and playing a very dangerous political game with our lives and our future.

Contrary to his stump speech, the carbon tax is not the absolute worst tax for Canadian families and it does not make everything more expensive. It is a selective tax that increases the cost of using fossil fuels, making safer alternatives more attractive. And it is revenue neutral. A well-designed carbon tax is virtually cost-free to society since the money collected for using carbon is rebated to taxpayers. And those who end up using fewer fossil fuels become the real winners, with extra cash in their pockets.

Mr. Ford might do well to read a newspaper once in a while. He would then have seen that seventeen of the 18 warmest years over the almost 140 years (since we started recording global temperatures) have all have occurred since 2001. And 1998 was the 18th. 2016 ranks as the warmest rising almost one degree Celsius.

Donald Trump is the king of all climate deniers but even his own government has estimated that if we continue to use fossil fuels the way we do, the earth’s average temperature will skyrocket by 7 degrees before the turn of the century. If you thought this year’s storms were bad, wait till you see what 7 degrees will do to that tree in your front lawn. And America promises to be one of the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, ironically.

Ford and carbon tax

Bold words.

Mr. Ford has promised to bring forward a climate change mitigation plan of his own sometime this autumn and one can only imagine what that might include. The UK and France have set 2040 as the year in which all gasoline and diesel vehicles will be banned. China and Germany, which arguably invented the motor car, are also developing guzzler phase-out plans. India has set an aspirational target of 2030 and Norway of 2025. So what about Ontario?

Ford is clearly blowing smoke when he says that a carbon tax is the absolutely worst tax. Perhaps he hasn’t heard about the highly regressive HST, which allows his government to gouge us eight cents on the dollar for just about everything we buy, sell and re-sell. Since he cancelled cap and trade and the extensive rebates of the former Liberal government, Ford is now sitting on over a billion big ones which can only be spent, by law, on helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Why doesn’t our ‘Billion Dollar Man’, who hates the worst taxes, just eliminate the provincial portion of the HST for electric cars? Perhaps he could talk nicely to the feds, for a change, and convince them to also lift their portion of the HST. That would be a powerful incentive for new car shoppers looking to clean up their driving habits. And Ford could still boast about how he is cutting taxes and saving hard working families money on their next family car.

Electric cars

Buying an electric or gas-electric hybrid car is perhaps the most important thing one can do to help reduce their emissions.

Buying an electric or gas-electric hybrid car is perhaps the most important thing one can do to help reduce their emissions, without having to radically alter their current lifestyle. Folks might also consider switching from natural gas heating to electricity for hot water and their homes. Though that only would make environmental sense if the Ford government stopped dismantling of our renewable energy system. And without a carbon tax, switching to electricity is not likely a sound economic choice for the average family.

But we don’t need to wait for government. Those of us who eat red meat and consume dairy products should look at cutting back our consumption of these foods. Cows and sheep are ruminants, and belch methane gas as part of their normal digestion process. Though carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up almost 80 percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, methane traps as much as 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over its decade-long life. It is over 20 times more potent as a contributor to climate change than CO2.

So reducing our intake of red meat and dairy products can help each of us do our little bit to save the planet. New Zealand has a huge dairy and red meat sector and has considered implementing a tax on animal methane – a FART tax they call it. Perhaps Mr. Ford has that in mind for his upcoming climate plan. But when it comes to the carbon taxes Ford seems to spew as much hog wash as bull.

Thanksgiving family-dinner

Thanksgiving …

But the good news is that turkey, not roast beef, is the traditional fare for the upcoming weekend’s celebration of Thanksgiving. So enjoy and give thanks for today because we really do harvest what we sow, and the times they are a changing. Oh and by the way, even eating lobster would be better for our climate than beef – if only we could afford it.

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:

Puerto Rico –     Ottawa Tornado –    Global Temperatures

Seven Degrees –     Billion Dollar Man –   Ford Lectures Alberta

Guzzler Bans

Return to the Front page

Just why did some Council members not take part in the ECoB debates; one says she was threatened.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

With the ward level debates behind us – now is the time to look at just what we learned about ourselves as a city.

It is absolutely incredible that all three incumbent Council members; Dennison, Sharman and Lancaster refused to take part in the debates organized by a citizens group.

The incumbents kept saying ECoB, the group that organized the events, had no credibility. That argument got blown apart when close to 400 people came out on a wet chilly night to hear the ward 2 candidates debate.

Full house 350

The ward 2 ECoB debate – more than 400 people.

Audiende at the entrance

The ward 1 debate – locking the doors didn’t keep people out.

The issue that kept Blair Lancaster from taking part in the debate organized by ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington was the bias she perceived and the two articles the Gazette published.

The Gazette has never been able to interview Lancaster, she literally scoots away when we approach her.

We learned why Lancaster decided not to take part in the ECoB debate from a comment on the Burlington News Facebook page.

Burlington News is a Facebook page. It is not an accredited newspaper. It appears to be the most recent hobby of John Was who often uses the name Andrew Miller.

A number of months ago the Gazette had to ask John Was to stop posting comments on the Gazette. We found that his goal was to constantly attack a member of city council.

In her comment on the Burlington News Facebook page Lancaster posted:

To: Attendees and Participants of the ECOB organized debate on September 20th, 2018

Please be advised that I will not be attending this evening’s debate.

Unfortunately, the organizers of the ECOB debate have failed to provide a fair and equitable environment for a debate to occur.

I initially shared my concerns about the debate’s facilitator, whom I believe to be extremely biased.
While ECOB initially responded positively to my request to change the facilitator, they immediately went on to share information about my private correspondence with the Burlington Gazette—to discredit me and my concerns.
The Gazette then proceeded to write an article citing threats of violence against me.

Lancaster had more to say and we will report and react to that information in due course.

Links to the two articles the Gazettte published in which Lancaster claims she was threatened are set out below.  If you can see a threat do let us know.  You can send your comments to publisher@bgzt.ca

Dumb decisions

Lancaster announces she will not take part in the ECoB ward 6 debate.

NEXT: Part 2 of a series

Return to the Front page

Drummond: Evidence is overwhelming, businesses adapted to $14 minimum wage. They would adapt to $15.

opinionviolet 100x100By Andrew Drummond

October 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last Wednesday, Ontario Minister of Labour, Laurie Scott announced that Ontario would not follow through on its commitment to raise the minimum wage to $15 on January 1, 2019. The new Ford administration argued that “The increase of 20 per cent this year was a lot for businesses to absorb so we’re putting a pause on the minimum wage,” Scott said. “What we’re doing is that businesses have the chance to catch up but we’re also helping the low-income people in Ontario with tax breaks,”.

The regressive position of the Ford government contrasts with the actions of the government of Alberta which on October 1, raised its minimum wage to $15 across the province. Alberta’s Labour Minister, Christina Gray claimed “Going forward, we know that paying a little bit more to workers will provide greater stability, lower turnover, more loyalty,” she said. “We hear that a lot from businesses that pay at or above that higher minimum wage — that there is a benefit in retention and lower training costs.”

The argument from the Ontario government and other fiscal conservatives is that business has been hurt by the increases in minimum wage and that has caused them to scale back on part time jobs, hurting the most vulnerable. “Employers are finding it hard to cope with the precipitous rise in the minimum wage. In response, they’re cancelling part-time jobs.” said Minister Scott in an editorial for the Financial Post. This statement raises the following questions: What is the reality of this assertion? What impact did the proposed wage raise have on businesses in Ontario and specifically in Burlington?

Ad 2The evidence is so far inconclusive. In Ontario, 51,000 jobs were lost in January. Many critics of the minimum wage increase incorrectly pointed to this as evidence of the detrimental effect of the policy – however the data told a different and more nuanced tale. In additional to the confusion over the data there was also anecdotal evidence showing that some companies (notably Tim Horton’s franchises) had dramatically scaled back their employment immediately on January 1 as response to the implementation of $14 as a minimum wage.

However, there was not nearly as much focus on the employment numbers after January to measure the long-term effect of the policy. When we look past the January employment figures, we see a different picture emerge. For example, in February, Ontario gained 16,000 jobs. In March another 10,000 were added. By July, Ontario had gained 132,000 jobs since the end of January, more than offsetting the gut jerk reaction from employers when the minimum wage came out. Ontario currently has the lowest unemployment rate it has had over the past 5 years at 5.4%. The argument that employment has struggled under a higher minimum wage appears to be disconnected from the actual employment figures.

Fortino adFor Burlington specifically, we need to understand what a living, rather than minimum wage should be. Living Wage Halton has done an exceptional job of figuring out what the minimum value needed to live here is. They take into account a 4 person family with limited expenses. The family does all its travel on public transit, needs only limited childcare for 1 of 2 children, and has a meagre entertainment budget (a weeklong camping trip and once a year to the zoo). This is measured against the current values of food, housing, and services in Halton to compute what exactly the 2 adults need to earn on a 40 hour workweek to support this family.

Servoce Ontario adThe current value for the Halton region is $17.95 an hour. This amount represents the bare minimum that a person needs to make while working full time and supporting a family on two incomes. Against that value, the current $14 Ontario minimum wage is clearly inadequate. A family with minimum wage earners would have a shortfall of $15,800 in their yearly budget just to make ends meet. To cover this shortfall, the family would need additional earnings from part time jobs that made up 22.5 hours a week. While there are obviously some assumptions made here in the makeup piece, (taxes would be lower for example) a family should not need many hours of part time work just to have a meager lifestyle.

Wimpys adThe question is then can Burlington businesses afford it? What has been the local result of the increase to $14/hour? There is relatively little unemployment data available at the city level. However, the 2016 census put Burlington’s unemployment at 5.7%, or 1.7% lower than the province as a whole. So Burlington is relatively well off compared to Ontario at large. Extrapolating, if Ontario gained jobs despite (or because of) a minimum wage increase, it is possible that Burlington did as well.

To test this theory, I conducted an informal survey of a number of plazas in Burlington over the past three  weeks. At every one of them, there were multiple companies looking to hire. As far as I can tell, every Tim Horton’s in the city is looking for more people, and many clerical/retail opportunities exist as well. If the minimum wage hike had done such damage, why are there so many businesses still looking for people willing to work at that wage?

What all this means is that the closer the minimum wage gets to $17.95 in Halton, the better off all families and by extension our entire community will be. The caveat on this is that it only works if business can sustain it. The evidence is overwhelming that businesses adapted to the $14 minimum wage, and they would certainly be able to adapt to $15 as well.

Businesses are doing Ok, so it’s time to make sure families are doing Ok too.

Andrew Drummond HeadshotAndrew Drummond was the New Democratic candidate for Burlington in the most recent provincial election.

Return to the Front page

Roland Tanner: The 2007 rose-tinted vision for downtown Burlington should give us warning for the rose-tinted vision of the current City Council.

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

October 3, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In 2007, Bruce Krushelnicki, director of planning at Burlington City Hall, told us the Official Plan was “right up-to-date, which is a point of pride for us. I think we are the first community to establish an urban growth centre for our downtown.”

This single statement contradicts two articles of faith repeatedly made by the current council:

a) that the Official Plan was 30 years old and indefensible before it was replaced this year and

b) that the urban growth centre designation on downtown, which is the primary reason enabling over-development downtown, was not a city-made decision but was forced on us by the provincial government.

A volunteer on my campaign forwarded an article dating from about 2007* to me the other day. Published in the Toronto Star, it was illuminating to say the least. It details how things have changed in ten years, and how certain claims now held as unquestionable facts by council and staff in 2018 were viewed in a different way in 2007.

The article begins with a quote from Elizabeth Law, owner of Elizabeth Interiors, then located at Brant St and James St.

Plan B rendering

The removal of the Waterfront Hotel and replacing it with a larger development got a lot of public discussion. It was a group of residents – the Plan B team that put forward an option that would open up Brant street and create a clear view of the Pier and the lake.

“I believe that if you develop your downtown core well, then that’s your opportunity to individualize the community,” says Law. “The city planners have kept the downtown waterfront area wide open to make sure everyone can still see the lake and people love that. Even with all this development, the town has kept its history upfront and centre so it doesn’t lose its identity. Customers come into the store and say, `Isn’t it great that we finally have a downtown with character?’” (Elizabeth Law, Elizabeth Interiors, circa 2007)

But Elizabeth Interiors left downtown in 2017 and is now located on Fairview St. The location of the old store lies empty, and is unlikely to be filled as the building is approved to be demolished as part of the development at Brant and James which will see two highrise condo tower of 24 storeys built (the second tower may still be held to 17 storeys, depending on the decision by LPAT). As part of the redevelopment, two heritage properties are likely to be reduced to facades or lost entirely. So much for keeping “history upfront and centre”.

The Delta Hotel will give the city some first class convention space that could radically change the way the city is seen by the small corporate convention community. Add the Performing Arts Centre to the portfolio and the city has a good offering. Now to put a team in place that could work with the Delta Hotel organization.. We don't have that in place today.

On Lakeshore Road looking east from Elizabeth street – a different city. A 22 story condo, an eight storey hotel and a 7 strong condo south of the hotel.

The new Bridgewater development south of Lakeshore Road cuts off a large area which was formerly a ‘wide open’ view of the lake. The planned redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel (formerly the Travelodge), shown to the left, will see a further major loss of space currently considered by most people to be part of Spencer Smith Park, albeit it is actually in private hands.

“Burlington has many ambitious plans on its agenda. With a current population of about 163,800, the target is 184,500 residents by 2021.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

Burlington has already surpassed this target with a population in 2017 of 187,000.

“A few blocks away, the Village Square is being enhanced by an Artisans’ Walk area of shops, restaurants and galleries. And there is a proposal to locate a McMaster University campus for 5,000 to 7,000 students across the street.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

There is no ‘Artisans Walk’ to my knowledge. The planned McMaster campus downtown fell through, and the business school was placed on the South Service Road instead.

“The Brant Street Pier, an S-shaped pier that will stretch 132 metres out into the water, is expected to be completed in 2008.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

People on pier between trees

The Pier

Years of legal and construction problems saw the pier at a standstill until it was finally opened in 2013. Planned daytime mooring for boats and a wind turbine were abandoned.

“[Waterfront revitalization] has also generated a lot of developmental interest. We’re seeing some condo development on the Lakeshore Rd. and we’re getting about a building a year. The third or fourth condo is just now being started. One was occupied this year, one was finished last year.” (Bruce Krushelnicki, director of planning for Burlington, circa 2007).

I was recently told by a council member that the number of highrise condominiums was very small, and that it was irresponsible to speak of a large number of towers as only a handful had been approved. Yet in 2007 the head of planning expected a new condo every year. On balance, it’s Bruce Krushelnicki who was closer the mark.

The Waterfront East condo/ hotel project, being developed by Mayrose-Tycon, has most of its approvals. “It’s been a long time coming because it’s complicated due to the shoreline,” Krushelnicki says. “About $1.2 million will be spent just on its stabilization. The site will also include open public space to continue the waterfront trail. They haven’t branded the hotel yet but it will probably be four-star.”

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

A controversial project from the very beginning – the Nautique was tuned down by the city, lost an appeal at the OMB. The developer has taken the appeal decision to an Administrative Review panel.

First approved back in the last century, the Mayrose-Tycon development, now known as Bridgewater, is finally taking shape on Lakeshore Road. Intended as a ‘landmark building’ which council argued would not act as a precedent for other towers, it has, as feared, set a precedent which has led to other nearby buildings being successfully appealed to the OMB. A public footpath, constructed around 2004, was open to the public for about a month before being closed and remaining closed ever since.

As we watch Lakeshore between Elizabeth and Pearl start to resemble the sort of urban tunnel we have seen in Toronto, I find it almost impossible to believe that we were assured, again and again, that that residents’ fears for downtown were groundless. We were told, by Councillors, that citizens who express doubts are ‘entitled’, ‘privileged’ or ‘NIMBYs’ for expressing concerns. But our fears have been completely justified. We now see a colossal 22 storey concrete and glass tower that fundamentally changes the nature of downtown forever. This building, more than any other in downtown Burlington, I see as an unforgivable error of judgement.

“Parking problems are an issue, like most communities achieving higher density. ‘Four years ago a multi-level parking lot opened on Locust St. and there is a proposal for another parking structure to open downtown,’ says Krushelnicki. New homes and condos have to provide parking of 1.25 spaces per unit. ‘That doesn’t facilitate the ordinary two-car family or visitor parking so that’s putting pressure on the downtown. We’re going to review that standard and it will probably increase.’” (Toronto Star, Bruce Krushelnicki, 2007)

If such a review ever happened, council decided to keep the parking at 1.25 spaces per unit. Current appeals and proposals brought to council by developers have tried to reduce spaces per unit to 0.9. While reducing reliance on cars is absolutely the correct objective for our city, we need the infrastructure and transit in place to make such a situation work. Without it, pressure on downtown parking, which many downtown residents already find highly problematic, will become far even worse. The planned additional multi-level parking facility is still a very long way off.

“When increasing intensification, transit-supportive development warrants a better bus service. ‘But to get to that you have to endure the congestion that is created by the intensification until the transit is built to meet demand. So the lag time is a funding lag’” [Krushelnicki] says.” (Toronto Star, Bruce Krushelnicki, 2007)

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. There were busses that had more than 15 years on their tires - those old ones certainly rattled down Guelph Line when I was on one of them.

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. How many and what size of bus will the city need to provide the kind of transit service thay are talking about?

This might be called the ‘if you make traffic bad enough, people will have to take the bus’ approach to city planning, still prevalent at City Hall. To me, it’s a highly problematic logic. In essence, City Hall is willing to deliberately create a city-wide problem and inflict discomfort on residents. Meanwhile we have had successive councils that simply do not believe in public transit, have cut funding, cut routes, and increased prices. The result is a fall in ridership by approximately 300,000 rides per year (15%) when other cities are seeing 100%+ increases.

Bruce Krushelnicki’s rose-tinted vision for downtown Burlington in 2007 should give us warning for the rose-tinted vision of the current City Council. Since 2007 too many things went wrong; too many businesses are leaving or being forced out of downtown; the waterfront is being irreparably damaged, over-development is here. All these things, we were told, would never happen.

It’s not good enough. We can’t buy this tired sales-pitch any more. Burlington needs change.

*The article was long ago cut and pasted into a Word document, and is no longer available at the Toronto Star website. It is undated, however it dates after the passing of the Places to Grow Act in 2006 and the then planned completion of the new pier in 2008.

Roland Tanner is a ward 2 city council candidate

Return to the Front page

Rivers: We are left with a bad taste on our palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 2nd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are left with a bad taste on our palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here?

Just as I predicted. President Trump had called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history – and now it is history. Well in name anyway, though it is essentially intact and newly re-minted as the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Some are calling this eleventh hour agreement a win-win-win. After all Canada has successfully fought off a pre-emptive strike on our time tested agricultural supply management system. Yes, we’ve lost some ground in the ability limit dairy and other sector imports, which will likely result in more American agricultural goods on our shelves. But then supply management was never about trade protectionism – it was about farm income stability.

Trudeau on USMCABut even though we minimized the potential damage, Canada still took another hit to its economic and social sovereignty. And the US appears to won little and lost nothing, compared to where we all were in NAFTA. So we have no reason to be popping champagne corks on this side of the 49th. When the mouse and the elephant take each other to bed, we should understand how it is going to turn out.

But the biggest disappointment was with the process and the negotiating tactics of the other side in this last round. If the illegal tariffs on steel and aluminum were intended to scare us, they did. But the artificial deadlines, threats and verbal abuse were untoward and over the top.

The process came to an end because Trump ran out of time, given the upcoming congressional elections around the corner and so much else on his plate. Otherwise we’d still be in Washington, though never Ottawa nor Mexico City. And the irony is that the US Congress may not even approve the deal, particularly if the Democrats win the House. Though it appears Canada and Mexico will ratify the agreement, even if somewhat reluctantly.

Trump looking hardish at Trudeau

BFF – Best Friends Forever ? President Donald Trump sizing up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada and the USA are supposed to be best of friends with the longest undefended continuous land border anywhere. Our relationship has always been characterized by RESPECT. Even when Nixon was bombing the hell out of Vietnam and Trudeau the senior was criticizing him for that, and allowing American draft dodgers into this country. There was civility between our leaders – despite how they felt about each other in private.

At the end of the day there is no question that the economies of all three nations have benefited from the enhanced trade, if not real free trade, which resulted from NAFTA. Trump’s denial of that reality reflects his ignorance of these matters and is an outright falsehood. But then he lives in that never-never land he calls America First.

His style, behaviour, and his disregard of international diplomacy have cast a pall on what should be a glorious celebration of the renewal of, arguably, the second most successful trading partnership ever (after the EU). And his outlandish bullying of his two closest and natural trading partners has left a bad taste on all of our national palates, leaving the question of where do we go from here? When is the next surprise coming?

The military tactic of divide and conquer is how you fight a war, not re-negotiate a trade deal with your friends. It was an insult to both of his trading partners for them to be treated as vassals. Nobody needs to be told that America’s economy is large, but a breakdown of trade in autos even between Canada and the US would have hurt them too. Was this so-called disastrous NAFTA really that bad a deal for the US, that it survived the terms of three other presidents and has contributed to the current US economic boom?

In the end there will be little difference in the implementation between NAFTA and USMCA. The US gained little so all the fuss was much a do about not much. But Canada and Mexico will have a new perspective when it comes to dealing with their neighbour in the future, or at least the future until Trump is history himself. The America we used to know – the brand we admired for the last century has been damaged, though hopefully not forever.

Trump being laughed at the UN

President Trump pauses while the world laughs at his comments at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He wasn’t telling a joke – he was the joke.

Our first trade agreement, the Canada-US deal was negotiated between friends singing about their smiling Irish eyes. But Trump doesn’t have friends. Men are seen as competitors and women as sex objects. It is jokingly said that his closest buddies are Colonel Sanders and Ronald McDonald, though one is dead and the other a cartoon character. But insulting the chief insulter is unhelpful. He doesn’t get it, as when the whole world laughed at him during the ridiculous presentation of his accomplishments at the UN last week.

It is doubtful anyone but North Korea’s Kim would have been able to do a better job than Freeland and Trudeau, negotiating almost thanklessly in that hard place. We didn’t win anything in our transition from NAFTA to USMCA, but at least we didn’t lose much. This entire exercise was about fulfilling a false campaign promise by an out-of-touch wanna-be who miraculously became the most powerful man on earth. For him it’ll always have to be a win-lose-lose.

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:

USMCA –    US View –    Canadian Perspective

Return to the Front page

This is either very stupid or there is a political game being played by the city administration.

 

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

The short video mention in this article does not appear in a re-issued version of City Talk.

City Talk logoWith what is proving to be a tight race for the office of Mayor one has to ask why the city would publish its most recent edition of City Talk and feature the Mayor in a video as the lead article.

If there was ever a reason to complain to the Elections Officer – this is it.

Rogers hockey with Mayor

It is a very short video – 38 seconds but it will pull at the heart strings of those dedicated to the healthy city everyone wants.

Someone at city hall is either very stupid or there is a political game being played by the administration.

With most documents issued the final sign off is that of the City Manger.  We understand he is currently out of the country.  He might want to stay out of the country.

We are not providing a link to the article in City Talk – no one should add to the malfeasance.

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

 

 

Return to the Front page

Turns out there was nothing crooked about the provincial government deficit - other than it was far too big.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a 2004 provincial law on the books which mandates that the provincial auditor general (AG), an independent officer of the legislature, conduct a detailed audit prior to a provincial election in order that any incoming government should not have to do what Premier Ford has just done – commission his own financial review.

Ford with documents

Premier Ford with the budget.

As it turns out Ford’s team, headed by former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell conceded that the AG’s audit was correct. There had been a $5 billion dollar dispute over deficit numbers between former premier Wynne and the provincial auditor. And Campbell determined that this was due to a change in accounting practices being demanded by the AG. The dispute centered on the AG wanting to change how pension surplus and costs borne by a crown corporation are accounted.

But there was no payola by the Libs to their friends. There was no sign of corruption committed by Liberal politicians with their sticky fingers in the public cookie jar. There was only one set of books and they hadn’t been cooked by the Premier’s folks. In short there was no wrongdoing. If there was any conspicuous money wasted it would have been by Ford conducting his own unnecessary review at public expense – but that is another story.

Auditor General - Ontario

Bonnie Lysyk, provincial auditor general.

Of course, Kathleen Wynne was wrong. She should have listened to the AG, despite her own counsel and her obvious desire to minimize the deficit numbers for political advantage. It was the AG’s job to prepare the official audit and her results should have been the final ones. But as a consequence of the dispute the amount of the deficit became a distraction and allowed Wynne’s opponents to cast doubt and throw false aspersions on her and the entire Liberal financial record.

That turned out to be unfortunate for her and all those Liberal candidates who must have had doors slammed in their faces on the campaign trail. No question, that controversy helped propel Mr. Ford into office on a totally unjustified claim that the Liberals were dirty and crooked. Though he was on the road to winning anyway. And there was a huge deficit number to deal with for which none of the political leaders had a plan. So the NDP stuck with Wynne’s smaller numbers and Ford didn’t even bother developing a financial platform, his expensive promises were so obscene.

407_sign

$3 billion for thee 99 year lease on the 407 toll road

Some folks would argue that Ontario has a spending problem, the conclusion of another study completed for Mr. Ford by consulting firm Ernst and Young. The solution, most likely dictated by Mr. Ford, himself, is the beginning of a season of fire-sales, selling off crown assets like the LCBO and maybe other infrastructure. That is an historical Tory practice. To balance his 1999 budget Mike Harris gave a 99 year lease for $3 billion on the 407 highway.

Others say we have an income problem. We don’t charge people enough for all the services we provide. And of course getting rid of the cap and trade carbon tax has just made it worse. Ernst and Young suggested that we need to drop universality of public programs – make those who can afford the services pay. But we already have a progressive income tax which means that those with an ability to pay do so in higher taxes.

For example our provincial health tax already addresses people’s fair contribution to the health care system. Perhaps we need to augment the progressivity to help pay for OHIP plus rather than just adding to debt, though. The Ernst and Young report notes that the biggest rise in costs over the last fifteen years has been in education and health services. These are ongoing and systemic variable costs. It is not clear how the one-time income from selling capital assets like the LCBO will secure future finding for these areas.

The one thing Ford’s studies and even the AG’s report confirmed is that there was no wrongdoing by the Liberals in their fifteen years of governance. That doesn’t mean there weren’t mistakes like the gas plant fiasco, but there was nothing criminal. That means that Doug Ford was wrong to accuse the Liberals of criminal wrong doing, as he seemed to do when he accused them of giving contracts to their Liberal friends.

And for all of that misinformation during the campaign and even afterwards, Ford owes the former premier and the people of Ontario an apology. Though instead of being contrite for his outrageous behaviour, Mr. Ford appears to be taking a page out of the US president’s playbook. Much like Trump, Ford is holding rallies, presumably to prolong his victory celebration and build his following. He won the election, Wynne lost, isn’t it time he moved on. Wynne is being a good loser, why can’t he be a good winner?

Ford Fest 2018

Ford Fest – held in Vaughan this year.

At his last rally, the so-called Ford-fest or Ford-stock, last weekend, with five thousand cheering fans on hand, rockstar Doug couldn’t help himself from going way over the top. He over-spoke that the previous government had committed the “largest financial cover-up in history”. And the response to that piece of hatred was predictable – his flash mob couldn’t restrain themselves from chanting an enthusiastic Trumpian “Lock her up”.

Seriously? What has happened to civility in this country, fair play and sense of justice? Didn’t Premier Ford just make a public statement on hate speech. Do the bullies in that Ford flash mob, and their leader, really think the former premier should get jail time for using an arguably inappropriate set of budgetary statistics in her campaign for re-election. It’s not like she was a drug dealer, crack cocaine addict or drunk driver.

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:

Ernst and Young –     Auditor General –     Pre-election Report

Ford-Fest –     Hate Speech

Return to the Front page

ECoB debates are proving to be just what the public wanted.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 22, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was some doubt in the minds of many that the ECoB initiative to hold debates in every ward of the city would actually work.

Did people care enough to attend a debate?

Could the space in which to hold the debates be found?

Could the costs be covered?

Those doubts disappeared when the public began streaming into Bateman high school on Wednesday evening; they were further dispelled when the audience at the theatre in Hayden high school was very close to full on the Thursday.

Links to the video of the two debates so far are shown below.

ECOB logoThe EcoB people thought it would be a good idea to hand out information on how to vote to the people attending the debates. They asked the city for copies of the instruction sheet they had.

Can’t do that said the City Clerk who is also thee Returning Officer for the municipal elections.

In an email exchange of views Clerk Angela Morgan said to the ECoB people:

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

“As the Returning Officer for the election, I fully support community organized debates however, my role is to ensure that all events association with the City of Burlington Clerks department are completely impartial.

“I have received numerous complaints and concerns from members of the public about the ECOB specifically that they are not impartial and the organization is vocally supporting specific candidates.

“Given these concerns, we cannot permit the City of Burlington logo or materials to be distributed at these events.”

That is just poppy-cock.  Someone needs to explain to the Clerk just what her job is – she is a public civil servant.

Will the City Clerk have the decency to view those debates and determine for herself if they were impartial?
Morgan got complaints – it is the right of any citizen to file a complaint (it would be nice to see the actual complaints with the names redacted – our suspicion is that there are perhaps five – maybe ten).

Resident at Bateman debatte

As more and more people arrived – additional chairs had to be set out.

For the 500 people who attended the two debates so far there is an opportunity for you to help the City Clerk understand that she needs to hear both sides.

Her email address is: Angela Morgan angela.morgan@burlington.ca

Let her know what you think.

The incumbent candidate for ward 5 sent out his limp excuse for not attending but then ensured that he had people on site handing out his literature.

The incumbent for ward six also handed out literature – she did her distribution outside the school. What she had her people hand out should get her a phone call from the with the city’s Ombudsman.

Angelo and Ken White

Angelo Bentivegna and Ken White participating in the ward 6 debate. Kinsey Schurm also participated – Incumbent Lancaster did not.

Two of the seven scheduled debates are on line. You can see and hear every blessed word that was said. You decide if the debates were impartial – and be sure to let the City Clerk know what YOU think.

Ward 5 debate on Wednesday September 19th

Ward 6 debate on Thursday September 20th

Just click on the red type that will get you to the debate – they run for close to two hours but you can skip forward and back.

Return to the Front page

There was a time back when municipal politicians were part-time civil servants, doing their political duty out of love for their community - is that day gone?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 22, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I wonder if Mr. Ford has changed his view of unelected judges now that an appeal tribunal has sided with the premier and stayed the Superior Court decision against him. Ford may be unfair but apparently didn’t violate anyone’s freedom of expression in the appeal panel’s view. It will be up to a proper court of appeal to make the final decision, but what’s the point now?

Toronto’s municipal election will go ahead with 25 Councillors and that likely means there will be no need for the premier to invoke the notwithstanding clause. For every hundred thousand Toronto residents there will be a Councillor in City Hall just as there is an MP in Ottawa and an MPP at Queen’s Park. That is among the lowest level of representation in the country regardless of order of government.

Ford - dumb thoughtful

A thoughtful Premier?

But reducing the number of Councillors should also serve to strengthen the position of Toronto Council and its mayor, vis-a-vis the provincial level of government. To start with each Councillor will have been elected by the same number of residents as was the Premier. If Mr. Ford had hoped that by cutting numbers city officials would become more compliant to the whims of the province or beholden to him, he hadn’t really thought this through.

Then there is the obvious. Fewer Councillors will result in a city government less in touch with its various communities, and especially those of diverse demographics. And as for the twenty-five million dollars of savings over four years – that’ll get lost once the inevitable salary increases and extra staff are added. “Remember the Amalgamation” should be the battle cry every time somebody mentions those imaginary cost savings from reducing the number of politicians.

Fewer politicians’ means more responsibility for those remaining and that will lead to more pay, sure as night follows day. There was a time back when municipal politicians were part-time civil servants, doing their political duty more out of love for their community than for the pay or the opportunity to climb the ladder to a higher office.

Now just look at the nearly one dozen aspiring candidates running for full-time Councillor in Burlington’s Ward One. And check your Adam Smith. Simple economics tell us that when the number of wannabe public officials exceeds the number of positions like this, the price (remuneration) is already too high.

Click to view report

Few realized how big an impact this report was going to have; some want it re-written.

Growth brings prosperity we’ve been told. But urban growth, leading to high density development, is also a huge issue in Burlington’s elections this year. Which is why Burlington’s mayor trucked off to Queen’s Park to ask for relief from a decade old band aid, known as Places to Grow – intended to mask a generation of poor urban planning. Like a bandage it just covers, but doesn’t actually heal the wound.

And since he had the ear of the new government Mayor Goldring popped the notion that his city should annex Waterdown. His argument was based on the proximity of Waterdown and how its future development would have significant ramifications for Burlington. Besides Mr. Ford had just demonstrated that there is no such thing as impossible, so why not grab that little bit of tax base from Hamilton.

Goldring campaign picture

Did Mayor Goldring throw a Hail Mary pass or did he really think through what he proposed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Cynics might say that Burlington’s mayor was only trying to inject some life into an uninspiring campaign for re-election. But he certainly created an impression and precipitated a reaction from the Hamilton crowd. Some of Hamilton’s Councillors, blind-sided by this proposal suggested that Hamilton should in turn annex all of Burlington. Good for the goose….

I recall an interview prior to his election victory in 1995 where Mike Harris talked about the ideal sized community, choosing his own North Bay as an example. But his perspective changed once he got convinced by his bureaucrats that 850 municipalities were way too many communities for them to get their heads around. And getting down to some 400 would be better. Better for whom?

So forced amalgamation became a means to that end. The clarion call was that lumping communities together would somehow result in lower costs. Economies of scale would kick in and yield big savings. But that didn’t happened, and certainly not in Toronto or Hamilton. Seems the problem was what we call dis economies of scale – the new cities were too large.

In the case of Hamilton none of the constituent municipalities were looking for an amalgamated hook-up with old steel town. So it was going to have to be a shot gun marriage. And that is what they got. But before they arrived at the alter some of the local authorities got to check out their potential partners like any forward thinking couple would do.

Waterdown sign

Is it a fit? Where will the idea go?

East Flamborough and Burlington had fallen in love for each other but never quite made it to the sack to consummate their relationship, barred from the bedroom by the premier dog-in-the-manger. Even though the sparks of requited love were abounding Harris knew Hamilton needed lots of suburban tax revenue to pay for his downloading of social services.

And Hamiltonian’s already were paying the highest taxes in the province, so he couldn’t let any part of the former region elope with another well-heeled partner. McGuinty, though winning Hamilton seats as the anti-amalgamation candidate refused to unscramble the omelet called Hamilton. But who knows, perhaps Mr. Ford will.

Oh how much fun it can be for grown-up people to act like children, playing risk or one of those other political board games, and re-enacting the 19th century European wars. I wonder if Premier Ford had as much fun re-engineering and gerrymandering the wards in the City of Toronto – swatting all those lefties off the game board.

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:

Waterdown Annexation –   Response to Goldring –     25 Member Council

Return to the Front page

The ward 6 debate takes place this evening - Lancaster, the incumbent will not attend.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

The following are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

The second ECoB debate takes place in ward 6 this evening where there are three candidates; the incumbent Blair Lancaster, her strongest opponent in the 2014 race Angelo Bentivegna and Ken White a first time candidate.

The debate is to take place in the theatre in Hayden high school. Event starts at 7:00 pm with the doors opening at 6:30 pm

The event will be moderated by Deb Tymstra a popular Cogeco TV personality who has produced several programs and is a regular interviewer on The Issue.

Unfortunately, Lancaster has announced that she will not attend, because, she claims, the debate’s facilitator, is extremely biased. “While ECOB initially responded positively to my request to change the facilitator, they immediately went on to share information about my private correspondence with the Burlington Gazette—to discredit me and my concerns.   The Gazette then proceeded to write an article citing threats of violence against me. (The article Lancaster is concerned about are attached below.)

Lancaster, a two term member of city council was a member of the Shape Burlington report that was one of the attempt to get city staff and council to be more responsive to citizen concerns.  Lancaster did little to advocate for any real changes.

Considered part of the more reactionary wing of the current council Lancaster has a couple of achievements that need to be remembered. Her decision to work with ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward (she is now a candidate for the mayoralty) on saving the Freeman Station – they succeeded. The station is close to complete and is expected to be open to the public on a regular basis soon.

Were it not for the efforts of Lancaster and Meed Ward the Freeman station would be kindling burned in a fire place somewhere.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

Lancaster brought another significant issue before council during the current term. Lancaster realized that the city was losing a couple of the long term care facilities – the Mt. Nemo operation was moving to Hamilton –and there was no land available for new facilities.

With a growing seniors population there is going to be a desperate need at some time in the near future.

Lancaster thought that long term care facilities could be built on land that was zoned as Employment Lands. She argued that the patient staff/resident ratio made these facilities significant employers and as such could be built in the Employment Lands the city has.

She didn’t get the traction the idea deserved.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

She has a tendency to rely on Councillor Sharman, who sits next to her at council, for advice and direction.

She didn’t cover herself in glory on the air park matter. She was far too close to the owner of the Air Park at a time when the city was involved in expensive court proceedings

Lancaster can be scrappy at times and gets dramatic on occasion.

The evening she gave a demonstration on the use of Epi pens was a bit of a flop; the expert in the room politely told Lancaster that she wasn’t demonstrating the use of the pen properly..

Angelo Bentivegna came a close second to Lancaster in the 2014 election. There were 10 candidates in the race then. Lancaster took exception to the debate being sponsored by the Gazette. She has always had difficulty with media – it goes back to her days as a beauty queen.

To her credit she did tell the publisher of the Gazette after the debate that she thought the event was fair to all the candidates.

Bentivegna has done little since the 2014 election. In his campaign literature he said he “will create a ratepayers association in each community of ward 6 (Rural, Alton Village, Millcroft, and Headon Forest) to engage citizens in what’s happening in their area long before the ink dries!”

wevb

Ward 6 candidate Angelo Bentivegna

There isn’t a reason in the world why B couldn’t have formed those association the day after the last election. Saying you are going to involve people and actually doing so are two different things.

The  Bentivegna family worked hard to make a wonderful contribution to the Joseph Brant hospital.

In December 2009, Diane, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor and began a regime of chemotherapy and radiation proved to be successful. The family wanted do something special to thank our physicians, nurses, caregivers and the hospital.  They decided to raise funds to purchase  State of the Art Digital Mammography unit with a Biopsy attachment.

The goal to reach was $450,000.00. In 2012 they raised $75,000.00. In 2013 they raised $101,000.00 plus $88,000.00 on a Bobby Orr autographed Bruins color Corvette.

In 2014 they raised the balance to achieve our goal: $450,000. The equipment was purchased,  delivered and installed at Joseph Brant Hospital in 2014.

Bee covers all the bases in his campaign literature – but other than delegating on the signage that was to be permitted by candidates for council seats the Gazette hasn’t seen much of him.

Budget public Angelo Benivenuto and Carol Gottlob

Angelo Bentivegna and Carol Gottlob at a 2015 city budget meeting.

He did appear at a presentation of a city budget one evening during a snow storm when there were more people at the ice pad next door than there were in the room the budget was being explained.

Bentivegna was available for media interviews during his 2014 campaign – he has chosen not to be interviewed by the Gazette this time around. That puts him in the same camp at Lancaster, Sharman and Dennison – not the right side of the political spectrum to be on in this campaign.

In his campaign literature Bentivegna lists his issues.  He includes the schools which has nothing to do with the city, as a former educator one would have thought he would know that.

Taxes: We need to focus on industrial and commercial opportunities to reduce the dependency on raising residential taxes. Taxes over the last two terms have been excessive to say the least…4.3% this past year alone! This council spends our money recklessly. They have demonstrated throughout their term of office that this trend will continue!

Our city is reactive, when it comes to compliance, as to who follows the rules and who doesn’t. Our city leaves a ton of money on the table…would you…I will work to recapture lost revenues!

Traffic: Every day I hear from our residents…Please help us move traffic around our city!Our roads get busier and busier each day, drive any major road north to south or west to east and vice versa. Intensification added to Ward 6 and to our city needs to be planned better! We need to incorporate with help from developers (community benefits..section 37) and resident input, solutions to move traffic flow smarter, easier, and timely…

The Transit System: Put Transit where the cars are!!!! Transit needs to be easy for users…needs to be frequent and reliable…needs to be simple to use, even if you are not a transit user! We need to develop a trust in the system…a trust the allows frequency, on time and reliable service when we need it! Let’s create a workable plan and work with our stakeholders to lure riders.

OP & Development: I am not against development, we need it to become sustainable and to attract people and Jobs to our city…What I am against is ” the “NEW” way we do business in our City. Our Official Plan & our Zoning Bylaws moving forward will not only act as guidelines, but they will now become targets for amendments! There was a time when an ‘amendment” was a change to fill a need that was somewhat minor or insignificant…now amendments are serious “ASKS”…10 stories to 17 stories…is that the “NEW NORMAL”.

Rural: We need to actively revisit our Official Plan to give our farmers and rural residents the tools that create flexibility to effectively manage their lands for the future. Together we can make this a positive economic issue in our City.

Seniors: In the next twenty years our senior population will double. We need to have more places for seniors to interact and stay connected in our City. We need to design all inclusive amenities that allow seniors to stay connected & comfortable with aging.

Our schools: How will our schools stay viable and at capacity in the future. What will happen to the school buildings that may struggle or lay empty. Now is the time to work cooperatively with our province, region, and school boards……City Council as a whole needs to voice a collective opinion. I said this during my last campaign in 2014 and we still need to pay attention to these issues looking forward.

Recreational Facilities: A need to re-examine how we can be more productive in our arenas, parks, gyms and libraries. We are not maximizing potential revenues from our City owned facilities. We have an opportunity to be creative in partnering with the private sector to find ways to increase revenues and reduce overhead.

ken-white-clicker-problem

Ken White delegating at city council.

Ken White is an Alton Village resident. He takes a very tough approach to what he thinks a new council will do.  He is for firing the city manager

Alton skating - two boys + dad

A Do it Yourself community hockey rink that White was instrumental in creating.

White has been active in his community – that involvement had him out late at night flooding a do-it-yourself hockey rink.

White, unfortunately, got himself on the wrong side of the city’s Heritage Advisory committee who found they had to send him a cease and desist letter when he was linking an idea he had for heritage fund raising to the Heritage Advisory web site.  At the time his wife was on the Board of that Advisory committee – hashtag awkward.

Among the issues he wants to promote:

Responsible development:
The future of our fine city is in our hands and right now Burlington is in crisis. The choices we make today will have far-reaching impact and it is critically important that every decision be thoroughly examined, well balanced and sustainable. We want growth, prosperity and advancement, but never at a reckless pace and never at the expense – or exclusive benefit – of any one stakeholder.

“I for one do not want to sit on the sidelines and watch as potentially poor decisions bring on deterioration of the services, lifestyle and values we currently embrace”, Ken explains. “I am committed to be part of the solution, where growth is measured, analyzed for the common good and always well planned.” Today, we are already well ahead of provincially mandated intensification goals. Accelerated high rise development without corresponding infrastructure improvement will be harmful in the long term and we will all pay through skyrocketing taxation.

Responsible development.

Every one of us is responsible for making sure that our voices are heard and our opinions considered.

We also expect prudence, fiscal restraint, transparency and accountability.

It is troubling to see that these expectations are not currently being met by our City. Burlington’s budget increases have averaged almost 4% a year since 2014. The City’s “human resource” cost is now $141,000 per employee. With the new Joseph Brant Museum being built at an incredible cost of $650 per square foot, the existing City Council has demonstrated a total lack of restraint or prudence.

As a financial executive, Ken finds these statistics an assault to the principles of his profession. That’s why he advocates changes that would help the City operate in a manner resembling a responsible, successful business – thereby holding the line on tax increases.

Consider just a few of ideas on his low-cost, high-impact slate:

Improve efficiency by appointing a City Manager who would receive a modest base salary supplemented by a variable compensation for meeting aggressive cost-cutting goals.

Engage an independent body to investigate where the City wastes money and where it performs well. The province’s Auditor General is very effective at keeping both politicians and government employees thinking twice before spending money on White Elephants.

The Joseph Brant Museum is being built at a cost of $650 per square foot. While I support a greatly expanded museum for a City of Burlington’s size the construction costs alone exceed the cost of buying a house in Millcroft at less than $500 per square foot including the land!

The time for accountability is now.

Every proposal for a zoning change, development project or building permit must receive the City’s approval. That stipulation gives City Council enormous influence.

Existing Council has failed to exert that influence to the benefit of our children’s education. Its unparalleled access to School Boards is an indirect lever to ensure responsible planning, yet Council has refused to voice their opinion or speak on behalf of their constituents. Even the City Manager was silent while he sat on the Halton District School Board’s Program Accommodation Review (PAR).

The HDSB has chosen to close two high schools with one just outside Ward 6. Frank Hayden High School in Alton Village has 16 portables while, 3.8 kms away, Lester B Pearson is being closed. School Board Trustees are voting favourably to build a new $23 Million Administration Centre. Councillor Meed Ward took her fight to Queen’s Park and won the right to keep Central High School open. The rest of Burlington Council, including Blair Lancaster, voted to NOT send a letter to the Provincial government to stop the closures of more schools.

Other municipalities in Ontario demand that their School Boards and developers provide a cogent plan with respect to where, how and how many children are going to be schooled when a building or subdivision is approved. Acceptable development demands intelligence.

Burlington needs to step up and take its zoning responsibilities seriously.

Deb Tymstra

Deb Tymstra will moderate the ward 6 debate

Those are the ward 6 candidates – two of them will be debating this evening.

Deb Tymstra will be moderating.

Related articles:

Defending dumb decision

Lancaster announces she won’t show up at the debate.

 

Return to the Front page

The full two hour ward 5 candidates debate is now on line.

council 100x100By Staff

September 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON ON

 

If you weren’t able to make it to the ward 5 council member candidates debates last night you can hear every blessed word that was said.

Candidates att table on stage

The four candidates that took part are: from the left Xin Yi Zhang, Daniel Roukema, Wendy Moraghan and Mary Alice St. James. Paul Sharman, the incumbent chose not to attend.

Mark Carr

ECoB debate moderator Mark Carr

Mark Carr moderated.

Here’s the LINK.

It runs close to two hours.

The debate was organized by ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington – an organization you might want to learn more about.

Related article:

Ward 5 ECoB debate – Councillor Sharman chose not to take part.

Return to the Front page

Gazette editorial cartoonist announced - has the Mayor in his sights.

The Gazette has its own editorial cartoonist.

Mike Allen, a Burlington resident who draws, teaches guitar and works in the music equipment business will be providing a visual look at events in the city of Burlington.

Sept 20-18

Return to the Front page

Lisa Bull gives her side of the story on the Steve Cussons opinion piece.

opinionviolet 100x100By Lisa Bull

September 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Hello All – As the “accused” in the article that is linked below (and another PAR “expert” and Committee member) I thought it only fair that I have a chance to respond. Not that I expect to change any minds that have been made up about what “really” happened but to share my perspective. As most intelligent adults know, there are always multiple sides to every story and there is no such thing as a “true” account. Accounts can only represent the perspective of the person sharing them. So – here’s mine.

PAR banner

Collard and Miller

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard giving Director of Education Stuart Miller the evil eye.

As anyone who followed the PAR process knows it was wrought with conflict, misinformation and confusion from the start. And, this continued right until the night of the final vote to determine which, if any schools in Burlington would be closed. The tension of the night was palpable – it was clearly felt by the Trustees and all of us who attended in the gallery. I came to the evening hopeful. I knew that our Trustee – Amy Collard – was planning on bringing forward a motion to introduce some alternate solutions to closing Robert Bateman (the full motion is posted on the Save Bateman Facebook site) I – like many of the community members were hopeful that the other Trustees might be willing to give this motion a chance. Ms Collard had shared her planned motion with her colleagues in advance of the meeting so they knew it was coming.

I thought her brave, innovative and courageous for wanting to try AGAIN to look at another option other than closing a school. However, it became clear very quickly that none of the other Trustees were interested in this. Much confusion began to take place as ms Collard tried to introduce her motion. The Chair was incredibly rude to Ms Collard during this process and other Trustees – including Leah Reynolds appeared to be working hard to vote against Ms Collard’s right to be even being able to introduce the motion. All of this can be seen on the video tape of the evening. As I sat with a friend and fellow Bateman parent – in awe of what was going on in front of us – we noticed that Councillor Meed Ward was furiously typing away on her I-Pad in front of us. She was making no attempt to shield her notes and we weren’t standing our our chairs or peering over her shoulder to read.

What she was writing was clear as day and right in front of us. Was she saying “CLOSE BATEMAN?”. Of course not.

But, what she appeared to be doing was providing very directive advice to Ms Reynold on how to stop Amy Collard’s ability to make a motion and then to stop the motion itself. At first, my friend and I couldn’t believe what we were reading.

While the photos posted on social media were a bit blurry, the messages we read Councillor Meed Ward typing were perfectly clear. They included:

Reynolds with Roberts rules

Was trustee Leah Reynolds getting instructions from PARC member and ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. The evidence suggest that might have been the case.

” DON’T VOTE IN FAVOR! “(caps on in original) Let it go – done your job”

“Do not support (uphold) the Chair’s ruling to allow the amendment”

“Okay – you have done your job”

I still have the photos and am happy to share if someone wants to invest time in having them enhanced.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong?

However, from our perspective, it appeared very clear that Councillor Meed Ward was a/ telling Ms Reynolds how to act, vote and speak and b/ that she was attempting to influence the outcome of a critical Board vote.

In my experience as a member of the PAR Committee I’d tried at least once to collaborate on an effort to stop all school closures. I’d tried to bring the whole Committee together to write a letter to the Provincial government as a group and while most all of the other school reps agreed to this, Ms Ward and the other rep from Central waited until the last minute and then decided not to work together with the Committee.

This lead me to believe that Councillor Meed Ward was focused solely on keeping Central open and had no interest in working with others to keep all schools open.

MMW typing

Marianne Meed Ward at her iPad.

I add this only to explain that I had every reason to believe that Ms Meed Ward was working with Ms Reynolds to shut down any attempt to save Bateman from closure.

Was I right in my assessment on the night of the vote? Councillor Meed Ward argues that I was not, She argues that she was merely trying to help Ms Reynold navigate Robert’s Rules. I can tell you that from what I saw, her notes appeared to go far beyond this. I suspect that the full “truth” will never be known.

I made the decision to share this information publically because I was shocked by what I saw. As someone who lives in Ward Two I was already incredibly disappointed in Ms Reynolds decision to go back on her campaign promise of “Close No Schools” and felt that the communication between her and Councillor Meed Ward was unacceptable.

I know that Councillor Meed Ward has a small but strong core of avid supporters who will defend her and her conduct until the end. And, in our democratic society they will soon have their right to show that support by voting for her. I, on the other hand, will show my support for leaders who I believe have demonstrated a commitment and a willingness to support to ALL citizens of Burlington.

Packed - it was that packed

Lisa Bull in the purple scarf – Steve Cussons is to her left – short grey hair at a packed public meeting on the closing of two of the city’s two high schools.

One final thought for you all. I’m currently dealing with a serious health issue. And, while all of the activity around PAR and the election seemed so important and so critical months ago and inspired so much passion, rage and anger I am learning – unfortunately the hard way – that these issues, while are important, are certainly not the most important things in life.

So I leave this discussion by genuinely wishing everyone all the best.

 

 

 

Related opinion piece:

The opinion piece Lisa Bull is responding to.

Meed Ward and Reynolds 2014 election nightEditor’s note:  The Gazette did ask Meed Ward for a copy of all the notes that were sent from her to trustee Leah Reynolds.  There was no response.  We are in the process of getting all the photographs taken and having them enhanced so that what was photographed can be seen by the public.

Return to the Front page