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

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 3rd, 2018



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

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

The March of Destiny

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

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

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

Mexican caravan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon forest

Amazon forest

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

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

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

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Caravan –    African Migration –     Nicaragua

Birth Rate –     Trump Rolls Back –     Understanding Migration

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New elected members of city council have to figure our how to do their jobs - steep learning curve

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2108



The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

Sharman Paul

Paul Sharman – the only council member who held his council seat.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

Hand salute

The victory salute. Marianne Meed Ward recognizing the public that elected her at a Polish Hall event.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live in 18 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel McCallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.
It is the best hope we have.

Meed Ward is now meeting with the newly elected members of council to get to know them, hear what they hope to achieve during the next four years and answer the questions they have.

One newbie got a call from a constituent about a road problem; he thought about passing it along to the retiring member of council but decided it was his job to do even though he had yet to be sworn in.

He puts out a call to Meed Ward – what do I do? Problem solved.

One of the comments Meed Ward made before she was elected was that if she was elected she wanted to find a way to teach new council members how to deal with staff at city hall.

Who they are, what they do and perhaps how they can best be approached?

The public has now adjusted to the fact that there are going to be changes. People who once had influence at city hall are realizing that the phone calls they used to be able to make to a member of council or the Mayor will not be the same.

Angelo blue sports shirt

Angelo Bentivegna has delegated to city council and knows most of the staff members – he now has to decide what his approach to serving the public is going to be and can he reach the people who were die-hard supporters of the Council member he replaced.

Five of the members of council have no experience dealing with public issues. They each face a steep learning curve; some will do well quite quickly, some will struggle and some may fail and find themselves wondering if they made a poor career choice.

At this point each of the five new members are figuring out how they want to communicate with the people that elected them. Those that voted – and realize that 60% of the people eligible to vote didn’t do so, are, we think, are expecting these new council members to be communicating with them the day after they were elected.

Given the heavy use they all made of Facebook and Twitter and, assuming they kept the names of the people they communicated with, one would think they could have something up in the way of a communications vehicle and a strategy.

Shawna Stolte, who took ward four from a long long term incumbent, found that she really liked talking to people on their doorstep. You can’t cover the 20,000 plus people she now represents walking door to door.

Another newbie thought he would be able to see people in the office of the health club he operates – shades of the Jack Dennison approach; used to be that when you wanted to see Dennison you had to hoof it over to his health club.

Some are suggesting that we need to give these five new members of council time to adjust – the problem with that approach is the issues the public have don’t wait.

Most of these people ran on a campaign that included better engagement. The proof as they say is in the pudding.

How are they doing so far?

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

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Way back when the city manager made comments at a committee meeting that could be described as an effort to influence the decision that was to be made.

background 100By Staff

October 30th, 2018



It was a pivotal meeting; took place on November 1st, 2017 when the Planning and Development committee heard the staff report on the development application for the NE corner of Brant and James Street.

421 Brant

It’s a done deal – the 24 storey tower will go up. And it is likely to be twinned by a tower of the same height on the SE corner

The development application got approved and was named The Gallery by the developer.

The eventual decision meant a 24 storey tower opposite city hall and the issue that became the focus point for the election that took place a week ago yesterday that put a new Mayor in office.

When development applications go before a Standing Committee they start out with a presentation by the Staff Planner, often followed by comments from the develop.

Rarely does the most senior bureaucrat make comments before an application is discussed publicly. The Gazette has never seen a city manager do this in the seven years we have covered city council.

On November 1st, 2017 city manager James Ridge said the following.

“I’d like to make a few introductory comments just before I turn it over to Kyle.
There are two issues that I would like to address in relation to this application that have come up over & over again in the context of the last number of months.

“The first is the relationship between the application and the new plan for downtown and the Official Plan.

“The timing is unusual.

Ridge shilling for the developer

James Ridge: “”You’ve made a decision …

“This is coming just months before we consider the new Official Plan and has been going through the approval process in parallel with conversations we’ve been having about the downtown.

“I’d like to start with the Strategic Plan.

“You’ve made a decision as a City that the City will grow in certain strategic locations and downtown Burlington is obviously one of the locations.

“Tonight, you are considering the merits of this application which addresses at least some of the goals identified in the Strategic Plan.
It delivers a mix of housing, office, retail, in the City’s urban growth centre.

“It’s walkable.

“It is close to major transit hub and it is arguably higher density.

“There can be an argument about whether it is the right density or not,
and people have asked how this relates to the work done in recent months in downtown and that’s been engaged a lot of the community and there are obvious questions about the relationship.

“The short answer is this.

“The application is not bound by that work, by the work that’s been done nor is it bound by the new Official Plan, but nonetheless, it reflects much of it, and that’s the interesting reality of this application.

“The new Official Plan hasn’t yet been approved.

“It won’t be for a month or so, and as such, this principle by law must be considered in the context of the existing Official Plan.

Ridge shilling 2

James Ridge: “The application in front of you takes the density that is allowed in the existing Official Plan, and reconfigures it …

“The application in front of you takes the density that is allowed in the existing Official Plan, and reconfigures it in a way that we believe is consistent with the work that’s been done in recent months in the downtown and the intent and goals of the Official Plan.

“The applicant has a right now in law today, without further council approval, to build 12 storeys across that sight, and the fact that we have been able to take the rights that the applicant has under the current Official Plan, 12 storeys across the whole site, and reconfigure it in a way that is far more reflective of the work that’s been done over the summer around the downtown growth plan and the new Official Plan is a function of hard work that’s been done by Kyle and his colleagues and the applicant and I thank them both for that.

“The application in front of you isn’t bound by the new draft Official Plan, it still achieves a number of the key priorities that the public told us were priorities this summer.

“When we talked about the downtown, they include wider sidewalks, less sun shade impacts, respect for the character of Brant Street, more public open spaces and excellence in architectural design and Kyle will talk about these in more detail.

“So I’m very pleased that staff and the applicant have been able to incorporate many aspects of the new plan and the public’s priorities for the downtown in this application on an entirely voluntary basis.

“While some may argue, and I’m sure many will, that this application doesn’t fully or sufficiently reflect the new downtown plan, I think that any fair-minded person says, looking at the application, there has been a real effort to at least address some of the vision for the downtown in the plan, notwithstanding the fact it’s not bound by the new draft plan.

“The second thing I’d like to talk about is height and height is often the issue that generates the most conversation and controversy about an application,

“You know that as well or better than I do, and yet decisions based primarily on the height of a proposal can have bad outcomes, especially dangerous in my professional opinion is the notion that shorter buildings are always preferable to taller ones and this application is a case study in that fallacy.

“This applicant has a right to build 12 storeys across the whole site In our professional opinion, having the site developed as a full 12 storey block is as inconsistent as you can possibly get with the vision for downtown that has developed through the summer.

Ridge 4

James Ridge: “… the applicant has the right to do 12 storeys across that site today …”

“Once again, the applicant has the right to do 12 storeys across that site today and we think that would have lasting negative impacts for the downtown, and that’s nor an extreme case or hypothetical.

“The applicant came in in 2012 with a proposal to do exactly that, 12 storeys across the whole site.

“We have pictures if you would like to see them, and to the applicant’s credit, they backed away from that proposal and have come with something different, and while height is clearly a consideration, I want to stress it is not first and foremost about height in this application.

“Show this to you graphically … this is about taking the densities that the applicant has as a right by law right now and reconfiguring it differently.

“Height is part of those considerations but it is not the only one.

“So simply put, our collective professional advice to you is that reconfiguring much of the density on this site from 12 storey monolith to a taller skinny to tower on a smaller footprint is far preferable.

“It is better to have wider sidewalks.

“It’s better to have the expanded view to City Hall and the cenotaph.

“It’s better to have more open space on the street and more sunlight than have 12 storeys across the whole sight, in our professional opinion.

“The benefits of height need to be considered fairly.

“In my professional opinion, that happens rarely.

Ridge 3

James Ridge: “Height tends to be a bogeyman …”

“Height tends to be a bogeyman, something that is seen as fundamentally bad in a development.
and we ask only that we have a fair and an honest conversation about both the downsides of height and there are some, but also a conversation about the benefits and there are many of those as well.

“So with that, I’ll turn it over to Kyle”

Kyle Plaz

Kyle Plaz

Here is what is interesting about the comments made by the city manager: they sound like someone acting as a shill for an initiative.

Mention is made of a 12 storey monolith on several occasions but the public never got to see a drawing of what the monolith would actually look like. No architectural rendering.

421 Brant 12 and 23

The dark shading is what the developer had an “as of right” to build. The light blue is what city council approved instead.

There was never the sense that the 12 story’s was actually seriously considered. The public was just given the impression that it was going to be plunked down on the land and that it would be squat looking and really ugly.

Ridge uses the word fairness in his remarks – many of the delegators who spoke to council later on in the process (there were 30 of them) had to focus on a development that was going to change the city they knew radically.

It was clearly what the city planners wanted.

12 storey design

Some creativity might have solved that 12 storey situation.

What if the city had challenged the developer to hold a design competition for a building that was just 12 storeys – what have others done with 12 storeys?

12 storey desigh 2

Others have dome some very good 12 storey designs.

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She is the best hope we have - but that doesn't mean she can walk on water. Meed Ward now has to demonstrate that she is the leader the city needs.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2018



The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Meed Ward thanking the crowd at the Polish Hall.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Meed Ward election night 4

Gives a whole new meaning to Standing Room only.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that

Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

MMW Mike and Goldring 2

Rick Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace debating on TVO’s Agenda

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live.
In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel Mccallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.

It is the best hope we have.

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

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If we care about the future of the planet, the only issue that should matter is the environment.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 27th, 2018



The Trudeau Liberals are getting worried, some might say panicky, about their most important signature program – climate change. When polled, Canadians claim to be almost universally aware, even though fewer people are convinced of our role in the problem or that climate change is even a real threat. But awareness in opinion polls doesn’t always translate into what happens at the election polls, as we’ve seen in Ontario and New Brunswick recently, and possibly Alberta next spring.

Easter Island statues

This wasn’t the solution for Easter Island – the problem cannot be ignored.

Given the most recent scientific report, global warming will be the single most important issue people will be voting on in the federal election next year. The battle lines are already drawn. The Conservative party, which has never had a climate plan, will stand alone among today’s parties. And if Andrew Scheer becomes Canada’s next prime minister, federal policy will be a replay of what is happening at Queen’s Park. Scheer would terminate Canada’s most important program to fight carbon emissions – the carbon tax.

Two years ago, as Canada was signing onto the Paris climate change agreement, every sub-national government in the country, but one, embraced the Pan-Canadian Framework, a market-based national climate plan, including carbon pricing. It was a rare moment of national conciliation. The feds wouldn’t unilaterally impose a carbon tax where carbon pricing was already underway, as it was in Canada’s four largest provinces at the time.

The other provinces were given time to come up with their own carbon pricing system but Manitoba, Sask. and New Brunswick flunked the laugh test, and Ontario gave Mr. Trudeau the finger. So these provinces and the territories will get a federally imposed tax this January where the money collected will be rebated through the income tax system directly to residents in those jurisdictions.

The $20 per tonne tax will cost about 4 cents at the gas pumps and about 3 cents for natural gas. The critics rightly say the tax isn’t high enough to get people to switch to lower carbon emitting alternatives, such as electric vehicles (EV) and electric heating. But those who reduce their use of fossil fuels will still be the winners – with more cash in their pockets than they had to payout in carbon taxes.

Nissan Leaf

One of the way we can reduce what we do to the environment.

Market signals work for both demand and supply. Consumers will be given another reason to go green, especially as the tax gradually jumps to $50 in 2022 One can see how a rational car buyer would want to consider the cost of gasoline when choosing between buying an SUV, a Prius or a Nissan Leaf And that market signal should also prompt the auto companies to increase the supply of hybrid fuel as well as pure EVs – the ultimate solution.

The critics are right that the the $20 per tonne carbon tax is too low an incentive for people to break with their business as usual. It’s a start but slightly higher fuel prices are not enough. So other market based instruments might be a good idea. Economic incentives for doing the right thing, like buying EV’s, weather proofing your residence or business, and converting your heating systems to clean renewable electricity would be a good idea. Gosh weren’t those the programs Ontario’s new government just cancelled?

Some European countries and even China have announced they will be banning all gasoline powered cars in the future. Now that is a powerful market signal to auto makers to jump start more technological progress and to car buyers thinking about resale values. Perhaps that strategy will appear in the plans of Scheer and Ford, when they eventually get around to drafting one.

Rivers EV charging stations

If we could turn these EV charging stations into status symbols we just might change some minds.

And of course there is a need for education. After almost two decades after being introduced into Canadian market place it is astounding the number of people who still have no idea that gas-electric hybrid cars exist, and that buying one could save as much 50% of their annual gas bill. After owning my Prius for 200,000 kms I calculated I’d driven the last 100,000 kms for free.

Of course other matters will come up in the course of the election, like the federal debt and deficit, social and immigration policy, taxation, and possibly trade or other international matters. But if we care about the future of the planet, the only issue that should matter is the environment, and what we’re prepared to do about climate change in particular.

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:

Pan-Canadian Plan –   Technology –   How Climate Change Will Look –   Opinion Polls

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Losing the race with grace and humility is the sign of a great candidate.

opiniongreen 100x100By Roland Tanner

October 27th, 2018



Thank you so much

On Monday night I didn’t get the result I and my team wanted to see, but I believe the results, in Ward 2 and across Burlington, were excellent ones for our city. I don’t have the slightest reservation in congratulating Lisa Kearns on an excellent campaign.

Burlington and Ward 2 voted for the things I entered the race to pursue.

A return to civility and respect for residents’ voices.

A council that doesn’t just listen, but sees engagement with citizens as the constant responsibility of every level of democratic government.

A council that will protect downtown from excessive intensification, and demand a creative approach to growth directed at creating complete communities on a human scale.

A transformational approach to better transit, walkable and cyclable communities, and infrastructure that gives us all transportation choices.

A focus on affordable and subsidized housing so our parents, children and grandchildren can afford to live and work here.

I want to thank everybody who took even the smallest role in this process for your support and your interest.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

Thank you for reading my emails and articles.
Thank you for taking lawn signs.
Thank you for your donations and incredible generosity.
Thank you to the volunteers, family and friends who worked harder and were more generous than I could possibly ever have expected, to reach so many doors with me, to speak to so many residents in every corner of Ward 2 and to make this campaign one I can be proud of, even though we didn’t win.

Working with you all was both a privilege and an absolute blast.

Next steps

I’m not going anywhere. A new and better council still needs residents to stay engaged. Council alone will not create a better Burlington. A large part of the responsibility still falls to us. I intend to stay involved and keep pushing for the things I care about, and the things the residents of Ward 2 and Burlington care about.

Burlington is coming of age. There is huge promise in our city as it grows and changes, while treasuring and protecting our history, heritage and special neighbourhoods. I can’t wait to be part of that future.


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It is long, complicated and very disturbing for those who understand why we have due process and the rule of law.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2015


Part 5 and the last of a series

When we left you last – there were two banning notices from city hall.

Neither had even a hint of due process. We live in a society whose foundation is built on the rule of law.

We live in a city where the City Manager, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he left with the rank of Captain after 12 years of service, and is presumed to understand something about the administration of laws, rules and regulations, nevertheless issued a Trespass Notice with no due process.

When the second banning notice was delivered November 20, 2017 there was mention of an email I had sent the then Director of Planning. That email was the pretence the city manager used to issue a second ban that was for an indeterminate length of time.

We searched our email files and found the email.

Tanner email Oct 30




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

I personally didn’t think the email was offensive but Ms Tanner did. I wrote an apology that was sincere. In my world, when a sincere apology is given, adults accept the apology and move on.

The apology wasn’t acknowledged.

When the second banning was issued I retained legal counsel who wrote the city in June of 2018.

This time the city said we should perhaps talk.

August was a period of time when my counsel was away for the month. That got us into September. James Ridge was out of the country for a period of time. Some possible meeting dates were shared.
At this point there is no date for a meeting.

James Ridge did advise us that “We will not be providing the investigation report in advance of the meeting, and are assessing whether it can be redacted in a way that sufficiently protects the identities of the women involved.”

He added: “You should also be aware that while the decision to lift the ban, or defend it in court, is ultimately mine, I would want to brief Council on my decision in camera, and that would occur no earlier than November.”

James Ridge is going back to Council for approval – which suggest to me that he got permission to ban me from city council in the first place.

Our demand of the city was for a copy of the Protocol that was issued to staff as to how they were to handle me and a copy of the Investigation the city had done about the complaints they received. Are those complaints as flimsy as the complaint Ms Tanner had – an email that was sent in jest the day before Halloween.

I felt I was entitled to be made aware of those first complaints. It may not have been necessary to know who made the complaints. For some reason city hall seemed to feel that complaints about behavior can be made in a vacuum; were the people who made the complaints sworn?

The city has a protocol for handling behavior complaints between staff that involves contractors working for and with the city. As a journalist I was neither an employee nor a contractor so the very detailed process didn’t apply.

A more professional approach would have been to call me in and say there were complaints and while I am not an employee or contractor the city was going to apply the staff protocol to me as well.

However, if the objective was to shut me out of city hall and prevent me from talking to staff in an attempt to shut the Gazette down, so far it hasn’t worked but at least we now understand the motive.
It look as if there is a resolution to all this out there somewhere.

My concern isn’t being allowed to walk back into city hall. I don’t have much of an appetite to spend time in the place. I do miss my conversations with the security guard.

The decisions the city manager made totally trashed what I had in the way of working relationships with more than 45 staff members that I admired respected and enjoyed working with.

Another very troubling part of the notice the city manager served on me was his saying I could not meet or talk to elected members of council in their city hall offices or at public events.

Ridge wrote: “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.”

That one stunned me – hard to believe that people elected to public office would let the man that reports directly to them decide who they can see and who they cannot see. Perhaps this is what city council wanted; did all of them, even Marianne Meed Ward and John Taylor go along with tthis?. For some that was perhaps welcome, they could avoid talking to media with the excuse that ‘James Ridge said I can’t’.

The decision made by James Ridge was one that he put before the members of council in a Closed Session.

We have no idea what the members of city council had to say at the closed meeting; we don’t know who asked questions; we don’t know if the decision to authorize the city manager to issue the Trespass Notice that keeps me out of city hall was unanimous.

Did anyone ask if there was the required due process? The city Solicitor was in the room, she is a Member of the Law Society and has a license to practice law in the province; she knows what due process is. She also knows what the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is and she would, if she were being as professional as she is supposed to be, know that those rights were really trashed.

My issue and overriding concern is: How do I repair the damage that has been done?. I believe that at some point in the not too distant future I will be permitted to return to city hall and to talk to staff with all the conditions James Ridge put in place removed.

My objective from the very beginning has been to get this matter before some level of the judiciary where there is due process, procedure and rules of evidence.

That stuff is expensive.

What I have taken from this experience is the need the current city manager has to control. His default position is to issue edicts that cannot be supported in law.

Requiring media to put their requests to talk to staff before his office allows James Ridge to control what kind of information journalists have access to – that isn’t the way a democracy works.

Unfortunately for me and the citizens of the city, at least a majority of the elected members of council agreed with the city manager.

Media serve a role in a democratic society. As the publisher of the Gazette I certainly didn’t always get it right, I may have been a little too aggressive – but I was transparent and accountable. And everything is on the record, in the archives and searchable.

There are consequences to the decisions the current city council and the city manager have made.

Rule of law graphicThe next step is apparently going to again be done in a Closed Session by a Council that will have no authority, no mandate and very little credibility.

My objective is to get this matter before some level of the judiciary where the rule of law, due process, evidence that can be tested and the people making the decision are concerned about what is right.

I’ll get there somehow.

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Part 3 of the series.

Part 4 of a series

Rivers on a Free Press

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Reflections on a campaign: a lot of 'woulda, shoulda, coulda'.

opinionred 100x100By Marty Staz

October 25th, 2018



It seems like forever ago that I ventured into City Hall with my paperwork in hand, plunked down my hundred bucks and entered the Municipal Councillor’s race in our city. Having never done this before I will readily admit that I didn’t really have a grasp on what to do next. My nature has always been to “plan your work and then work your plan” but that wasn’t getting me anywhere since I couldn’t come up with a plan.

Fortunately we were still feeling the effects of very strange provincial election so it gave me time to gather my thoughts.

Side view - mid rise

Marty Staz reviewing a panel of development guidelines

It wasn’t long before I was able to see where I was headed. The issues, the challenges and the talking points all came together and as I started knocking on doors and meeting with people I could feel some engagement building.

I can say with complete honesty that I was in this race with total conviction. Unfortunately, I really don’t feel I could say the same for some of my competitors. A total of eleven candidates submitted their nomination forms. A quick scan of the election results will provide proof of what I mean. I think that $100 isn’t enough to prevent less than committed individuals from wanting to see their name in the public eye. All of this only leads to thoughts of what might have been had we only had the die hard candidates in this race.

This also brings me to another questionable practice that happened for the first time in Burlington. Online voting. Do we really need a seventeen day window to give everyone an opportunity to vote online? We have two days of advance polls so why don’t we have two days of online voting? Over two weeks is a lot of time to lose for a candidate new to the elections race trying to get their message out there. Who knows, maybe it was simply done to favour any incumbent candidates.

Another gripe for me is the number of people that actually got out to vote. In an election with a multitude of issues and the new opportunity to vote online we only got a measly 3% increase in voters from 2014. When I realized this my first reaction was, “those people that didn’t vote must be living in a bubble.” But the more I thought about it I think I was one of the ones living in the bubble. Sixty one per cent of our city don’t seem to be too concerned about what is going on.

A lot of this may sound like sour grapes but truly it is probably more of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda”. I fought hard and have no regrets at all. The 39% of the public that voted simply felt that there was someone else better for the job. To all of the new members of our Council I say congratulations and work hard for us.

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2018



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did that work out?

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

Hopefully a lesson has been learned.

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

Kearns direct smile

Councillor Elect Lisa Kearns

Rory - glancing

Councillor Elect Rory Nisan

Shawna listening to Dennison

Councillor Elect Shawna Stolte

Angelo B - squint - red post H&S

Councillor Elect Angelo Bentivegna

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

Kelvin Galbraith headshot_Super_Portrait

Councillor Elect Kevin Galbraith

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

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2018



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

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

Alison Braithwaite -

Alison Braithwaite –

“Words powerfully manifest our lives

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

“The words we choose affect our bodies

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

“Let go of the fight

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

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

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

“Embrace the messiness

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

Questions for self-reflection

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

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

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

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

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

opinionred 100x100By Stephen White

October 24th, 2018



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

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

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

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

Hand on microphone

Mayor elect Marianne Meed Ward celebrating at the Polish Hall

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

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

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

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

Cleaver Hugh _House_01_GP___Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

background 100By Staff

October 22, 2018



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

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

Burlington aerial

Home for all of us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

council 100x100By Staff

October 21st, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018



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

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

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor Goldring explaining intensification to the public.

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

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

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

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

Mayor Rick Goldring

Mayor Rick Goldring addressing a group of realtors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It is land that is now in private hands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa delegation

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

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

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

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

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

Maps of quarry cells and houses

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

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

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

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

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

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rivers: Is there a War on the Free Press

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 21st, 2018


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

David Frum

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

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

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

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


Jamal Khashoggi – slain inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey

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

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

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

Newspaper - person reading

We are to a large degree what we read.

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

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

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

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

Trump on Khashoggi,

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

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

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

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

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

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

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

Pat Robertson –   Climate Barbie

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st,  2018



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

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

Marty Staz with Mak Carr

Marty Staz with Mark Carr on Cegoeco’s The Issue

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

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

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

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


Rory - glancing

Rory Nisan

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

Image 3

Shawna Stolte

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

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

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

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

The Roukena defence     Disturbing Roukema email

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


Blair Lancaster

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

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


Angelo Bentivegna

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

Ken white is not yet ready for a council seat.

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

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

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

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018



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

Freeman station Sept 18-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better public involvement in development proposals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residents and council members can file Integrity Commissioner complaints

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beachway - Full park

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

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

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

Regional government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The day city council experienced a major melt down.

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

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

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

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

Visual - city council full

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Meed Ward future look like?

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

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

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

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

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

They said no to development in Central park

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


The chunk of land in the centre block got sold.

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

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

Seniors Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meed WArd at PARC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 20th, 2018



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

The following came from the City Clerk.

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

The formulas are prescribed as follows:

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

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

Mayor candidates Oct 9

Cartoonist Mike Allen reminds you to vote.

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

opiniongreen 100x100By Marty Staz

October 20th, 2018



Really, How Do We Want To Grow

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

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

Side view - mid rise

An election campaign was an eye opener for Marty Staz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2018


Exclusive to the Burlington Gazette

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

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace taking in a city council meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rob MacIsaac – a leader Wallace worked with.

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

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

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

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

Queen's Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residents pack the public gallery at city hall.

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

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

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

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

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

The Baxter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aerial of Bronte meadows

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Wallace

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

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

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

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