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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace listening during a city council Standing Committee meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shie-and-Desgrosiers

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

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

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

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

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

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

TVO debate 2

The Agenda with Steve Paikin and three Mayoralty candidates

Steve Paikin covered a number of bases.

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

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

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

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

Meed Ward said it should never have been brought up.

TVO debate

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

Weed line ups in Mtl

Montrealer’s lined up to purchase cannabis.

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

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

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

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

Us border guards

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

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

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

Trudeau - happy

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

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

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

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

Background links:

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

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

background 100By Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

He knew his stuff.

He had done his homework.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map of Saskatchewan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related news stories:

How Woodruff thinks he could become Mayor.

Debating the Official Plan

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

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

What did we learn from the ward 4 ECoB debate?

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

Shawna listening to Dennison

Shawna Stolte during the ward 4 ECoB debate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison

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

Shawna with Jack at debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image 8

Shawna Stolte at the Farmers Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dennison - second house

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

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

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

Dennison email

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

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

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

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

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

Dennison announcing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News 100 redBy Staff

October 15th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 15th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 4 of a series

Let’s review the facts we have so far.

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

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

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

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

James Ridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mary-lou-tanner-city-hs

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

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

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

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

Bustamenta - centre ice

Planning department staff at a public meeting.

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

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

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

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

Tanners out of office notice

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

The pre Haloween email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Part 3 of the series.

Next: Part 5 of a series – final part.

Apology to Mary Lou Tanner

Complete November 20th, 2017 letter

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

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AN OPINION ON THE 2018 ELECTION

opinionred 100x100By Jim Barnett

October 15th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

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

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

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

high profile 421

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLEASE VOTE!

 

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The voices of reason and stability have gone silent in this city.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 15th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We got a comment from a citizen who had this to say:

“Disrespectful behaviour creates division in our city – whether it’s the mayor taking a cheap shot using the school issue to save his own political skin; or Sean Baird and whoever he’s fronting, hiding behind anonymous 3rd party advertisers.

“We need our civic leaders – whether it’s the politicians (where’s John Taylor?), former politicians ( Walter Mulkewich), the media, business people, community group leaders, church leaders speaking up against disrespectful behaviour to say “Not in our city”.

“If we don’t have community consensus on acceptable public discourse and a willingness to speak out, then Burlington is big trouble.”

Hear no evil monkeys

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. It is time for civic leaders to stand up and say what the city really stands for.

That citizen just might be right – we could be in for some really big trouble.

Another question: How is this city going to heal once this is all over?

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

Letter to the editorBy Carol Victor

October 14th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

Rusin 2

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

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

Rusin 1

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

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

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

Ward 3 debate.

 

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 14th, 2108

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

All candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ECoB Mayoralty debate

Burlington Green Mayoralty debate

Chamber of Commerce debate.

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

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

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

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

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

tipping-point- matches

Tipping point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carbon taxes - how they workThe federal

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Background links:

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

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

What is Plan B

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How the city banned the Gazette publisher from city hall.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a series

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

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

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

The letter was stunning. In part it said:

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

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

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

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

The second question was – why are they doing this.

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

All had one response: Where is the due process?

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately there were health issues and he had to withdraw.

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

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

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

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

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

There was an investigation.

Why didn’t anyone interview me ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will share that with you in the next installment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1 of a series

Part 2 of a series

Next: Part 4 of a series.

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

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 8th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a series

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

LANCASTER IN PINK FROM HER CAMPAIGN

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

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

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

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

Blair on The Issue

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

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

The two stories are set out here:

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

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

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

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

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious.

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

Ms Lancaster wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Councillor Blair Lancaster at a photo op.

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

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

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

Part 1 of a series

Next – Part 3 of a series

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

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Mike Allen - Lemmings - every blessed one of them

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

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

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

MMW lemming Oct 7

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

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 6th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

hurricane-maria-

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

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

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

Go trains flooded

The Don River overflows in Toronto.

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

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

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

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

Ford and carbon tax

Bold words.

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

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

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

Electric cars

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving family-dinner

Thanksgiving …

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

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

 Background links:

Puerto Rico –     Ottawa Tornado –    Global Temperatures

Seven Degrees –     Billion Dollar Man –   Ford Lectures Alberta

Guzzler Bans

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

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

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

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

Full house 350

The ward 2 ECoB debate – more than 400 people.

Audiende at the entrance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dumb decisions

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

NEXT: Part 2 of a series

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

opinionviolet 100x100By Andrew Drummond

October 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

October 3, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan B rendering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People on pier between trees

The Pier

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

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

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

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

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roland Tanner is a ward 2 city council candidate

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