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Greg Woodruff: 'How do we get back to a good policy that respects the wishes of people who live here now?'

opinionred 100x100By Greg Woodruff

July 20, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

People in Burlington are going to have to decide if they are seriously interested in changing the current direction of this city or not. Are we just going to express anger or change the direction of the city? A Burlington filled with 11 story buildings is not practically different than 17 story or 23 stories. From the base of these buildings in the tight “trenches” that emerge you are not going to have any idea how high the buildings are. The lower heights are preferable, but they don’t make the city fundamentally different.

Many candidates are selling nothing substantial in the way of change. Slightly-less high does not represent a different destination for the city.

The policy of hi-rises everywhere is entrenched in the new official plan with the Region. It’s not amendable by Burlington City Council while it is with Halton Region (I checked). And it can also be approved by the Region with no further input from us (again I checked). The next Council will almost certainly inherit it as an in-force document along with 421 Brant and 409 Brant in an approved state at 18 stories. 421 is totally approved at 23 stories with all appeals expired. Unless the would-be Councilor has mastered mind control or time travel we need policies that affect a drastic change of course.

high profile 421

Brant and James – a done deal.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

Lakeshore and Martha -under an Administrative Review.

Jeweller after

409 Brant – approved at 17 – expected to go to LPAT

I do not like this direction. I’ve opposed it on multiple fronts and have for five years plus. However, I wish the plan to oppose it to be based in reality. Complaining about buildings one by one is useless. Modifying the buildings by some number of floors is does not take us to a different place. Vilifying the existing council as “out of touch” accomplishes nothing. What is the actual practical plan to change this direction? Just electing different people to the council will not do it, because the direction will be firmly entrenched. What rules need changing and how?

Bridgewater CROPPED

Bridgewater and Lakeshore and Elizabeth

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro b

Lakeshore and Brant – just a concept at this point.

We can not have would be Councillors going around and saying “People in Burlington are all for intensification, but this specific building is too much.” “I don’t like this” is not an operational policy. “We don’t want over-development” is not an operation policy. “I love Burlington” is not an operational policy. The Council makes policy. What exactly is the policy you propose?

With no plan of action, all we will get from the next Council is what we are getting now; “You think this building is bad, you should have seen it before.” The candidates are just taking “over-development” and making it “slightly-less overdeveloped.” Things that are “less bad” are not “good.” Taking a terrible direction and making it less terrible is nothing I’m excited about. Official-Plan-Binder_Image

What this all comes down to is the next Council willing to modify the heights in the New Official Plan down and how much. This is going to be an unbelievably hard slog – with multiple groups bitterly against this. It’s going to require the Region and Province to play along.

I don’t see how this is possible unless local candidates win on a mandate. You need to scare politicians at the Regional and Halton level that voter reaction on this issue is so great that it’s “tough political moves” or “extinction” at the ballot box. Nothing else will change the direction of development in Burlington.

People in Burlington are angry – you should be. But don’t let candidates ride that anger. It’s not going to get us to a policy that changes the direction of the city. All it will get is a new crop of faces making excuses. As it turns out; the municipality does operate under restrictions set out by the Province. You have to strategically work the framework, which will not respond to protests of love or anger.

“This building is too much” is not a mandate, policy or anything that helps. Neither is demonizing the existing Councilors. Ask your candidates “What exactly is the policy you propose?” If they don’t know now, don’t expect them to have any idea of what to do later.

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who is running for the Office of Mayor.  He has in the past run for the office of Chair of the Region of Halton.  Professionally Woodruff toils in the world of information technology.

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Ray Rivers has gone fishing - back in a couple of weeks.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ray has gone fishing.

He will be back soon – he doesn’t really catch very many fish.

Rivers goes fishing NZ - Jan 2015Give him a week – maybe two and he will be back at his keyboard explaining a government policy, giving us background and insights.

The change of government at the provincial level has Rivers pulling back and wondering if we are on our way to the days of Mike Harris. Thinking about just how big the provincial deficit is and how the Liberals will reinvent themselves and wondering as well just how efficient a Leader of the Opposition Andrea Horwath will be.

rivers-on-guitarGreat times for a political pundit – and given that Rivers couldn’t hook a fish if his dinner depended on it – expect him back soon.

Ray 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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

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Michael Jones: This can be taken as a rant of sorts, it is frustrating and heart breaking to see the direction this downtown is going.

opinionred 100x100By Michael Jones

July 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The current City Council has managed to isolate and frustrate the people of Burlington like no other group I have encountered. Unless it is a feel-good moment of a ceremony they continue to leave us disappointed. I really try to find the positive’s, but this group leaves us arm folded and shaking our collective heads. (and told to be quiet) The decisions this group has made are full of contradictory statements and lack foresight.

Burlington has had relatively large community protest groups in the past. The Save our Waterfront group had more than 1000 members - did it achieve anything other than getting its founder elected to city hall? Here one of the masters of public involvement, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie talks with current SOW presisdent.

Michael Jones in conversation with former Toronto Mayor David Crombie who was speaking to the now defunct Waterfront Advisory Committee. At the time Jones was president of Save our Waterfront, a group that at one point had more than 1000 members.

I delegated at the council meeting against the 421-431 Brant Street development. I decided to abstain from delegating on July 10th and July 17th against the 409 Brant as a candidate for Ward 2 but attended as a member of the community. Delegating to Council is like talking to a brick wall that refuses to listen to logic, real statistics and the desire of the people of Burlington. I was in the council chambers listening to each of the councilors “logic” on why they voted the way they did. In a time when facts are forever doubted this group has not done their job in providing the facts we deserve. They also spoke down and minimized the thoughts of the knowledgeable people that did delegate.

The Council seems confused in their own direction when a decision was to be made. They were asking questions that I would think would be asked well in advance of such an important day that impacts the City forever.

• Can we get a third party traffic study? was asked by Council to City Staff as the traffic study completed is widely believed not to address all the developments combined. They then proceeded to vote on buildings that will increase traffic in an area that already faces gridlock without a proper traffic study already being done.

• City staff was asked, “Can we have a pause to re consider or delay the building developments?” They are asking this the day of the vote! Try asking that of a boss or professor, the day of the exam. Didn’t work then doesn’t work now. If in doubt how can they move forward confidently. Go BOLD they say. A Bold decision would be to stand with the people.

After discussions with people across the city many weren’t aware this Council meeting was taking place or the importance of it:

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The price ranges for the Nautique are all over the map. They advertise the top ten floors as having units that go for $1 million

• Paul Sharman gave us a history lesson on where he has lived over the course of his life. He proceeded to give us false numbers on the upper 1 % of wage earners throughout downtown. I for one are far from the 1 % neither are my surrounding neighbours. He stated these buildings will provide affordable housing, he was unable to back these figures up as the condominiums have not even been advertised for sale. For example, the ADI development at Lakeshore and Martha originally had a sign stating condo’s for $250 000.00, this has now been changed to $800 000.00. The sign has so many new increase price tag layers, it may fall over. Not so affordable Councilor Sharman.

• Mayor Goldring had asked City Staff in detail about taking a “Pause” on this development and further developments. He then proceeded to Vote for the development, if you are wanting a moment of clarity normally people don’t dive in.

• Lancaster gave us a firsthand example of her business losing money because of the building of the Performing Arts Centre and moving from the downtown core. She flippantly suggests business’s need to come and go as she has done with her business. What kind of message are we sending to hard working people often investing their life savings on a dream of succeeding in the downtown. Lancaster and Craven seem to believe Kelly’s Bake Shop will set up somewhere else in Burlington. This is far from guaranteed and why would she? My coworkers in my Mississauga office drive from Toronto and Mississauga for her quality bake good. I for one will miss my New Year’s Tradition of Blossom City Chinese Food.

• Taylor leaned on Rick Craven like a crutch clinging to the Places to Grow Act, without providing facts or numbers. The original Official Plan met the numbers for intensification. The City won’t get a special certificate from the Province of Ontario for creating a skyline mirroring that of Toronto across the lake.

Rendering with Bake Shop

The building that houses Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is shown in the lower right corner. The structure may remain – but there is no guarantee that the Bake Shoppe will be inside whatever is kept to show that the city actually has some heritage.

• Jack Dennison did not support the motion for 409 Brant St, but his vision does not bode well for downtown, he detailed his vision on this property of a 14 storey building with escalators. This has been tried before at both Upper Canada Place 460 Brant Street and 760 Brant Street. Neither of these locations offer an inviting street level and have had limited success in occupancy over the years and none to the longevity of Blossom City Chinese Food and the success of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe.

• The ongoing Craven vs Meed Ward opposing views, I do support healthy debate and opposite viewpoints but all decisions need to be based on facts. Marianne Meed Ward presented a detailed list of reasons why this building does not need to be built and were presented in a logical manner. Craven could only raise his voice stating “it is the Law”, this does not provide the citizens the true details on this development excessive goals.

After sitting frustrated through many Council meetings, we need something greater than a “Pause” button, we need to press “Stop”.

Jack Dennison asked Kelly of Kelly’s Bake Shop .”how do you do so well at marketing and communication?” I hope the City Staff listened to her answer. “Passion and love, not schooling just love of what she is doing” Communication is a 2-way street and as a candidate for Ward 2, this is what I believe needs to be changed at City Hall. The people have shown and voiced their love and passion for the City and this Council turned its back on what is important to the citizens.

Hopefully this October our new Council can serve the people of Burlington as they deserve, we have invested our money and our families in this City. Burlington Citizens need to feel their voice is heard, all the good hard working, educated and prepared people who delegated were not listened to. This opinion piece can be taken as a rant of sorts, but it is frustrating and heart breaking to see the direction this downtown is going.

Michael Jones is a downtown resident and a candidate for the ward 2 city council seat

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Mayor's campaign manager clarifies the highlighted statement in the second version of a Newsletter - sort of.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 19th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

David Vandenburg contacted the Gazette to clarify why a second version of the mayor’s newsletter went out earlier this week.

The Mayor said, according to his campaign manager, that the downtown Councillor contacted the Mayor’s Office with the request for correction, which he then provided. Apparently the Mayor “didn’t want to mislead readers by not highlighting the part that was corrected.”

Vandenburg

David Vandenburg announcing that he is going to manage Mayor Goldring’s re-election campaign.

Vandenburg added that as the “lead representative of council, any Mayor should keep residents informed on votes and what other Councillors were looking for, it wasn’t a political shot. Which is why the Mayor referred to Councillor Dennison’s wishes for the site as well.

“It was a minor error in the first one that was simply requested to be changed by a colleague, which was done and highlighted.”

Vandenberg said he was “clarifying the reason why the part was highlighted in the second version was because the first newsletter went out only saying MMW put forward a motion for 11 stories. She asked for it to be changed to 3-11 stories, which the Mayor did and highlighted it so readers understood the correction in the newsletter.

“MMW asked for the change and he did it for her and to clarify to the public, not a shot at her. She asked for the change.”

I’m confused.

Here are the two version of the paragraph in the Newsletter:

Unhighlighted comment

The paragraph as it appeared in the first version of the newsletter on the Tuesday.

Highlighted comment RG

The second version of the paragraph as it appeared in the second version. All the Mayor had to do was say that he was asked the make a correction. Now we know. Awkward!

 

It all comes across as a little confusing – kind of like the New Street Road Diet. Do it right the first time and don’t slip and slide explaining something that was pretty simple.

Why couldn’t the Mayor have said something like: I was asked to make the following correction by the ward Councillor – then make the correction.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column reflecting the thoughts, opinions, observations and musing of the Gazette publisher.

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Mayor crosses an ethical line in his bid to get re-elected.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 19th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How does the Mayor get to use his Report to the citizens as part of his campaign to get re-elected as Mayor?

Mayors Update heading

The Mayor is given space on the city web site to report to the citizens of the city on decisions he makes and why he made them. Mayor Goldring’s practice has been to produce a report at least once a a month.

 

The Mayor is expected to use various media to speak to the public about decisions he has made and why he voted the way he did.

Nothing wrong with that – it is part of the job of being Mayor.

However, when his Updates are used to advance his electoral campaign he is stepping outside the lines.

In the most recent Update the Mayor chose to highlight part of his remarks in yellow in which he set out what one of his competitors for the Office of Mayor had said she wanted to see accepted in terms of height for a controversial downtown development.

The Mayor can and will campaign for re-election.  He will discuss what he has done and what his competitors are doing on the campaign trail and in debates.

It is not appropriate for him to use media space given to him by the city to take a swipe at another candidate.

Highlighted comment RG

The Mayor highlighted the views of a council member in yellow marker.

 

 

What makes this particularly tacky is that the Mayor published his update on Tuesday at 4:37 pm in which the words about Meed Ward were not highlighted in yellow.

Unhighlighted comment

He republished his Update on Wednesday at 6:03 pm – that is the version that has the highlighting.

It is actions like this that make election campaigns dirty.

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Are they having any fun at city hall?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We just might be hearing the phrase “Common Sense Coalition” when the municipal election gets more active .

There are candidates who are getting together and talking about identifying themselves as a coalition where they will have a statement they all endorse that is city wide.

The individual candidates will then have issues they want to identify and work with within their own wards.

The people behind this idea point out that there is nothing partisan about what they want to do. “We are just candidates for public office that want to tell the public that we can work together and avoid the rancor that exists on the council we have now.”

One of the concerns the Gazette hears again and again is the lack of civility at council meetings. There are some very very poor relationships between some council members. There are two that just will not let up – they go at each other as if there were working on a long standing family feud.

PAcked meeting

Citizens standing for the National Anthem at the start of a council meeting. Twelve people delegated – not many smiles from even one of them.

We hear from people who have delegated at council and say that they will never do that again. They felt they were humiliated and not respected. Some people don’t have experience delegating and they are nervous, lose their train of thought and then wander off from the issue.

There is the sense that the delegator and the council member come across as combatants – the council members don’t come across as leaders.

Frequently a council member challenges a delegator in a dismissive diminishing manner.

There is rarely the sense that they are all in the room to achieve the same goal.

On Monday there were people delegating and talking about how well their community worked for them. They were the personification of that phrase city hall trots out with every media release: Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.   A comment from a Georgian Court reader went like this:  “Our city counselors totally let us down, and in the process were disrespectful. I have lost all faith and confidence in our city government”.

walter mulkewich

Walter Mulkewich

rob-mcisaac

Rob MacIsaac

When we meet with people we ask: Who is the best Mayor the city had in the past? Rob MacIsaac   and Walter Mulkewich are always at the top of the list. “Rob was always informed, knew what he was talking about and was a pleasure to work with” was the way one citizen described a past Mayor.

During a conversation with someone who knows MacIsaac  well told us that he was at an event with MacIsaac recently and asked him which of the several jobs he has had in the past did he like the most. We were told that MacIsaac said he had fund while he was Mayor.

One seldom gets the sense that anyone is having any fun at city hall. The planners are almost under siege. They are over worked – the development applications arrive almost daily.

TrampolineAt times the work for the planners is both exciting and challenging but the pace is relentless and fatigue sets in.

City Council is off for the month of August – the planners aren’t going to have that luxury.

Perhaps Parks and Recreation could put on an event for the Planning department – let them all hop onto a trampoline and just have fun.

How about the City Manager on a trampoline?  That might be asking for too much!

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

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Roland Tanner: 'Developer's argument for a Brant Street development is very far from one that Council should endorse. And it went unchallenged.'

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

July 17,2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Before I begin I just want to recognize the futility of the exercise we are engaged in tonight. I doubt very much that there is anybody in this room who has not made up their mind about this development.

Delegations will be read, and votes will be cast, but the former will have no impact on the latter. I honestly don’t say that as a criticism, I simply say it as a matter of fact. Whatever happens at the election this year, let’s all please commit, citizens, Council, City Staff, to find a better way of doing this in the future. A way that finally gets all sides talking and listening together. Win or lose, I promise I’ll be willing to help.

Moving on. Last week we heard the argument that it is the Province, and the new Provincial Growth Plan, that is forcing the city to accept 17 storeys or more, on this location.

There are two reasons why I believe that argument is incorrect.

First, the Special Planning Area in the Brant Street Precinct is zoned for 17 storeys by the new Official Plan for one reason and one reason only. By allowing greater height, the City is seeking to trade developers for an enhanced public space near City Hall to augment the current civic square. That objective has nothing to do with the Province, or with the Places to Grow Act, or the Growth Plan.

But for that objective, 409 Brant street and associated lots would be zoned for a maximum of 11 storeys with a 45 degree setback from Brant to John St, along with the rest of the Brant St precinct. That lower height, by the City’s own argument, not mine, is a defensible level of intensification under the Growth Plan.

I reiterate. That is the City’s position, and the City’s argument, not mine.

Second. The delegation on behalf of the developer last week by Mr Bronskill made a novel legal argument, and one which has yet to be tested at the LPAT. That legal argument was that the wording of Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe obliges cities to ‘optimize’ intensification on any lot. The developer is entitled to their opinion, but I will argue that Mr Bronskill’s argument is very far from one that Council should endorse. And yet his argument went unchallenged.

In fact the Provincial Growth Plan uses the word ‘Optimize’ exactly ONE TIME with regard to intensification. I will quote the sentence in full.

“It is important to optimize the use of the existing urban land supply as well as the existing building and housing stock to avoid further over designating land for future urban development.”

This sentence is almost identical to the 2006 Growth Plan. It differs only in the addition of nine words ‘as well as the existing building and housing stock’.

In other words there is clearly no intent whatsoever to cause a wholesale reinterpretation of what is permitted for intensification on any single assembly of land. Instead we still have only the standard requirement for Intensification which has been in place since the Places to Grow Act.

So, having dispensed with those two arguments that the height of 409 Brant Street is not in the City’s control, what are we left with?

We are left with an area which has been zoned by the City at 17 storeys, but could equally have been zoned for 3 to 11, with a 45 degree setback. The City’s own logic, not my logic, argues that a lower height is a defensible position to take to any future appeal at the LPAT. I am not cynically arguing what I think residents want to hear, I am arguing from the City’s own position used in the creation of the new Official Plan.

The City has the power. It should also have the will. I ask again: please reject the staff recommendation, and consider removing the lands under discussion from the Special Planning Area and zoning them according to remainder of the Brant Street Precinct.

Tanner cropped

Roland Tanner

Roland Tanner is a candidate for the ward 2 seat on city council.  He is a history scholar and one of the very few candidates for council seats to speak out and delegate.

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McKeown brought in as a strategist on the Goldring re-election campaign team.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A source that does have a vested interest in the outcome of the municipal election in October advised us yesterday that he can confirm Frank McKeown, the recently retired executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation, has taken on the task of being chief strategist for current Mayor Rick Golding who is seeking a third term.

Frank McKeough, former Chief of Staff to MAyor Rick Goldring asked about how politicians can handle complex issues when voters tend not to be informed and don't have the background needed to arrive at decisions.

Frank McKeown.

McKeown was once the Chief of Staff during the first two years of Goldring’s first term, 2010 to 2014 and is  believed to have been the person who wrote the several position papers that Goldring issued during the 2010 election. They were good papers and set out issues the Mayor was able to deliver on.

The creation of Tech Place was a Goldring initiative in the 2010 election. After leaving the Mayor’s office McKeown was appointed the Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation where he did the grunt work that got Tech Place on the map.

His initial objective was to work with the McMaster De Groote School of Business and create a partnership with the German Fraunhofer Group and establish a Centre at De Groote; that didn’t work out. The German group partnered with the Innovation Centre in Hamilton.

TechPlace, where the tech community connects, develops and grows, has worked out. There are now a reported seven “clients” working out of the offices on the North Service Road in the east end of the city.

Goldring’s re-election campaign is being managed by David Vandenburg. At one point there was the hint that Martin van Zon of Burlington based Interkom Smart Marketing  would be playing a large role in the campaign. That idea didn’t go very far.

Rock at Kick Off - crowd

Mayor Rick Goldring at his campaign kick off.

The chatter amongst those that follow the election is that Golding is not holding his own and that Mike Wallace, with very little in the way of public comment on significant development matters, is doing better than many expected.

There is nothing to substantiate that view but bringing McKeown on at this point in the campaign suggests that a Goldring feels he needs some bench strength.

McKeown has never been a fan of the approach ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward takes to development in the downtown core.

On the occasions when McKeown has delegated at city council his body language and the responses he gives Meed Ward to many of her questions speaks volumes. There has never been a good working relationship between those two.

There was a point in 2013 when McKeown was giving serious thought to a run at the Mayor’s job. His decision not to enter the political arena at the time was that he felt the morale at city hall was toxic.

Frank McKeown, then the Mayors Chief of Staff explains a concept to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman. McKeown was described as the 7th council member during the Strategic Plan sessions.

Frank McKeown explains a concept to Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman. McKeown was described as the 7th council member during the 2011Strategic Plan sessions.

McKeown is a team player; quiet, soft spoken with the capacity to deliver. McKeown doesn’t have to work another day of his life. He is in that fortunate position of being able to decide what he wants to do and nothing is Ok with him rather than taking on a useless task.

His relationship with Goldring is not all that clear. You can bet that McKeown didn’t volunteer to serve as the lead strategist – my guess is that he got a phone call and rather than see either Meed Ward or Wallace be elected as Mayor he joined Goldring’s team.

McKeown is direct, he thinks things through and when he has questions or concerns he gets out of the office and looks into situations himself.  He has few pretensions; he’s the kind of guy who can be in a room and you never know he is there.

Meed Ward winsome

Ward 2 city Councillor Mary Anne Meed Ward is a candidate for the Office of Mayor in the October election

Both Meed Ward and Wallace will know that there is now some weight on the Goldring bench; the concerns all three candidates have with the performances coming out of the Planning department will be high on the campaign strategy agenda for Goldring.

Will having McKeown be enough to shore up the Golding position?  There is more than enough time to fix whatever flaws there might be in the Goldring team.

Mike in full campaign mode

Mike Wallace in full campaign mode.

Wallace has much more bench strength than many realize.

Meed Ward desperately needs some bench strength on the realities of real estate development.

The city now has a public that is unhappy, somewhat confused and determined to do as much as they can to bring about a change.

Frank McKeown, Mayor's Chief of Staff, attempts to fix the clock in Council Chambers. There are things that perhaps need fixing on the eighth floor.

Frank McKeown attempts to fix the clock in Council Chambers. He is a detail type – get it right and keep it on time.

McKeown is the kind of strategist who not only knows that you get in front of the parade and lead; he can be expected to come up with ideas and directions to slow down the pace of the parade and get the band to play a different tune.

Goldring opens his campaign office early in August – he announced it will be in the Plaza on Guelph Line at New Street – next to the Tim Hortons shop. They got that part right.

There is more than enough time to fix whatever flaws there might be in the Goldring team.

Wallace has much more bench strength than many realize.

Meed Ward desperately needs some bench strength on the realities of real estate development.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column reflecting the view, musings and observations of the Gazette publisher.

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A totally cock-a-mammy idea from people that should know better. Get a grip on reality folks.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 13th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A candidate for one of the city council seats sent us a proposal that had come to his attention via ECoB: Engaged Citizens of Burlington that he felt council should consider.

The proposal is to use some of the community benefit money that would be a part of the process if the 409 project proceeds to move the Kelly’s Bake Shop from its current Brant street location to an empty city lot at John and Caroline, allowing Kelly’s Bake Shoppe to remain in the downtown core.

Ford + two others at Kellys

Kelly’s Bake Shop has become a destination for many. A condo development threatens the existence of the buisness.

While the sentiment is nice – this idea is fraught with problems.

First, John Street north of Caroline is not actually a street – it is a lane way and there might be issues over what can be built on a lane way.

Second, City Manager James Ridge brought to council’s attention that any rental the city might do would have to be at market rates – the Municipal Act requires him to do that.

Third, should the city be in the business of favouring a specific commercial operation? This is not the purpose of municipal governments. It opens the door for all kinds of cronyism – and if Ridge is against anything, his stomach would turn if he saw that happening on his watch.

The desire to do something for the cupcake store is based on an emotional concern – that’s not what city hall is about.

Kellys - her with cup cakes-edit

Kelly Child’s is a very talented marketer – trying to convince a city to give her special treatment.

It is the Gazette’s understanding that Kelly Child’s has yet to meet with the Economic Development Corporation; that organization is in place to work with commercial operations that need help.

What Kelly Child’s has done is play the “crying in public” card for sympathy and support.  This is a business situation and we are talking about public money – be very careful.

The candidate said he has “spoken to Kelly Childs and confirmed that this is a proposal she would be happy to consider.”

I’ll bet she would be happy to consider the proposal.

The candidate, who we have deliberately not identified; (we don’t want to embarrass him any more than he has embarrassed himself by promoting a totally cock-a-mammy idea), said he “believes this is an excellent and inventive idea worthy of full and urgent examination by Council and Staff, and I will be supporting that examination.

John looking south - empty lot

John Street at Caroline looking south – a proposed new location for Kelly’s Bake Shop. The building on the property has been demolished

“Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is a Burlington success story that may become a Canada-wide and international success story. Burlington should do everything it can both to protect the heritage property and recognise the tenant’s special contribution to the downtown.

“I believe that this is a proposal well worth getting out to your readers today.”

Hmmm … is this what we want on city council?

Salt with Pepper is a column reflecting the opinions, views, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

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Rivers: 'Canada’s position on military spending is untenable.'

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 13th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?” (Donald Trump July 11, 2018)

It’s not often that the US president is right but Trump’s argument here is pretty solid. His European bloc allies are still living in the ’90’s when Russia was (maybe) one of the good guys. So when Russia was invading Ukraine, France and Germany, the two strongest mainland powers just watched in dismay. Only after a Malaysian air flight carrying some two hundred European civilians was blown out of the sky by a Russian missile did they impose some economic sanctions on the aggressor.

Putin and trump

Does anyone trust either of them?

Perhaps the US president is just trash talking Russia to quash criticism of his summit next week with Mr. Putin. But to his point, even after Russia invaded Georgia Germany was still training Russian soldiers, and the French were building two of the largest helicopter carriers ever for Mr. Putin. Still, Germany’s leader, Merkel, claims she doesn’t need any lectures on the evils of Russian occupation, having been raised in East Germany.

The other shoe Trump dropped on his breeze through Brussels was about the disproportional commitment to national defence by his NATO partners. Canada’s position on military spending is untenable. We did agree to commit more money into our military, we need to bite the bullet. And yes, so long as the US military can be relied upon to respond to any violation of our sovereignty under NATO, Mr. Trudeau can be smug about our need to spend more on our own defence.

And it’s not that Canada shouldn’t be enhancing its defensive capabilities, certainly when it comes to that sparsely populated part of our geography facing the Russian bear. Defence of our interests in the north will become more critical as the ice continues to recede with climate change, facilitating greater international navigation. And the best argument for meeting our 2% commitment may be to get the Donald off our back.

The PM boasting about how we’ve had a role in every NATO mission doesn’t buy him any credit with the US president. And seriously, one has to ask about the merit of some these NATO adventures the US has pushed us into. What does Afghanistan have to do with the defence of the North Atlantic? And if NATO is supposed to be strictly defensive, what were we all doing bombing Gaddafi in Libya?

Russian ice breaker North pole

Russian ice breaker at the North pole.

Has NATO so outlived its original purpose – its usefulness and rationale – that it has to go looking for fights? Perhaps Trump is right – it’s time to pack it in. Why did NATO bomb Serbia in response to its military aggression in Bosnia, but not Russia for its aggression in Ukraine?

To be clear the US maintains a large military establishment with bases and troops in many places, largely of its own volition and mostly to defend its own interests. A Russian annexation of much of western Europe, for example, would weaken US economic and political influence even more so than when the Soviet Union controlled only eastern Europe – the cold war. And that would hurt the US more than any kind of America First would ever compensate for.

So it’s all about managing potential strategic threats to America. And Trump either doesn’t get that or is talking through his fake hairdo when he makes the argument that America is defending Europe and Canada. America is only, after all, defending America. But America’s boss is less than happy with its partners. Perhaps that is because their governments are largely run by weak democratic leaders in his eyes, unlike his tyrannical heroes running China and Russia.

America First in all things but starting with trade. There must be enough economists in the US who if stacked end-to-end would reach to the moon. And they are all of one mind except for the man advising the president on trade. The US economy would only be smaller without trade and immigration, After all the dust has settled on all the tariffs and other trade and immigration barriers, US GDP and the US standard of living will be lower, not higher.

Work being done on tanks at the General Dynamics Land Systems Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. NOT BLADE PHOTO handout from General Dynamics

It takes some Canadian steel to manufacture these tanks in Lima, Ohio.

But Trump doesn’t need to hear from the elitists. You need steel for tanks and aluminum for jet fighters. And in Trump’s world America will never be secure until and unless it controls every aspect of its economy and doesn’t have to rely on trade with the rest of the world. That is also his point about Germany and Russian gas.

But cutting trade and possibly military relations with America’s closest neighbours will only push Canada into a closer relationship with Europe. It’s just across the pond so why wouldn’t Canadian snowbirds think about moving their winter homes to Spain and southern Italy, instead of a Florida soon to be under water anyway.

As for Trump’s musing about leaving NATO? How comfortable would the next American president be with a nuclear armed (non-US) NATO sitting on her Canadian border? Trump sure says some of the darnedest things.

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Trump and Germany –     Trump and NATO –     NATO Spending

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Mayor Goldring sets out why he voted for a 17 storey condominium opposite city hall

opinionred 100x100By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Minutes before city council, meeting as a committee, voted on a Planning Staff recommendation to approve a modified version of an application to develop the east side of Brant Street south of James to the parking late next to Kelly’s Bake Shop.

The vote was 6-1 to accept the Staff Recommendation which goes to city council on July 16th for a final vote.

The time between a July 11th committee meeting and July 16th meeting for final vote is precious little time for the public to come to terms with the decision that has been made.

Before the vote Mayor Goldring read some notes he had prepared on why he was for voting for the Staff recommendation, what his concerns were and what he expects from the development industry.

“This is the first downtown planning proposal to be considered following the Council adoption of the new Official Plan in April.

“While the new Official Plan policies are only informative, they are important in that they provide Council’s vision for development with new growth framework which affects the downtown.

Site - south of 421

The red square is the location of an approved 23 storey structure; the black square is where a developer want to build a 22 storey building – council committee has approved a 17 building.

“The Plan was developed with intensification framework that highlights the importance of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre. The downtown is desirable and people want to live here and enjoy all that it has to offer. This is something we should all be proud of.

“It has been my view for sometime that I am confident that the Council-adopted Official Plan will bring greater certainty to planning outcomes. In doing so, we can address the frustration expressed by many residents that planning decisions should not be inconsistent with our Official Plan. This report moves us in that direction.

“November 1st Committee when we considered the proposal for 23 storeys at 421 Brant Street. In that case, I was unequivocal in my opposition based on some key points:

the conflict with the policy directions for this Special Policy Area which contained a 17 storey height limit.

I heard from many residents who told me the height was much too high for this area of Brant Street.

My concern for the possible precedent that it may create for this property at 409 Brant Street; and,

My opinion that a building height up to 17 storeys would be more appropriate.

“The applications from Reserve for a 23 storey building plus 1 storey amenity created similar concerns for me.

“The neighbourhood meeting on May 1, 2018 at the Lion’s Club confirmed that many residents shared the same view that the proposal would create considerable negative impacts on the downtown.

Looking north from Queens Head

A rendering of the 22 storey structure the developer has applied for from the Queen’s Head. Council has approved a 17 storey structure that goes to council next week

“So I am pleased that we have a modified recommendation in this report that rejects a proposal that contains excessive height and density in consideration of the Brant Main Street Precinct Special Planning Area Policies contained in the adopted Official Plan.

“There are a number of desirable features that have been addressed in the recommendation: the building respects land use compatibility, there will be high quality public realm improvements, and the recommendation complies with the Tall Building Guidelines, including maximum floor plates. And, staff advise that the technical 18th floor will not impact the overall massing of the building.

“I am also pleased that Heritage conservation is being addressed with Heritage staff advising that 401 Brant and 444 John Street are worthy of designation and being preserved. The report sets out a plan to make this happen and I support the use of a holding zone provision that is being proposed.

“I will be supporting staff’s recommendation. I am satisfied that it is responsive to the policy decisions that this Council recently made through the adopted Official Plan. The modified approval for 17 storeys is in line with the Council approved vision in the Plan and it responds to the objections to the proposed 23 storeys that were heard from many residents in response to the Reserve initial proposal.

“I do want to emphasize how important I think it is for us to achieve good building design.

Goldring with bike

Mayor Rick Goldring on his bike.

“It is my opinion that the importance of developers building high quality and well-designed buildings in Burlington has never been more important. This comes at a time as our new Official Plan advances to an approval point at the Region and our City faces greater intensification interest.

“Our message to developers must be that they are expected to conform to our policies, adhere to design guidelines and be responsive to the recommendations of our new Urban Design Panel.

“We need to create interesting and beautiful design that will enhance the downtown and continually make our public spaces and streets more attractive for our residents.”

The Mayor refers to the city planners, the Urban Design Panel, the Official Plan, the importance of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre but not a word saying he believes the development represents the wishes and aspirations of the residents.  His comments certainly didn’t represent the views of those who chose to delegate to city council saying this is not what they want for their city.

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Affordable housing - the need is great - but real policy direction from council to make it happen isn't on the radar screen yet.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Affordable housing – an oxymoron perhaps.

In a market where housing prices have risen as much as 20% year over year, the cost of buying a home has skyrocketed – and that impacts directly the cost of rental accommodation.

Rocca partial listing for 2017

Some of the year over year changes were mind boggling – a market run amok.

The Burlington mind set is married to the idea of owning the home you live in – rental accommodation is not for people who are true Burlingtonians – we are all property owners.

Every development that comes before city council has the words “affordable housing” tucked in the application somewhere and the response from the planners pays lip service to the idea.  Members of council will insist that some affordable housing be included in a development.

Carriage Gate agreed to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration that was to go towards an affordable account the city appears to have created.

Reserve Properties, the developers promoting a development on the SE corner of Brant and James, have made mention of their plans to contribute something to the need for affordable housing if  their development is approved.

The developers offer up some cash in lieu of actually including affordable units in the condominium.

Where does that cash the developers give the city go?

That isn’t exactly clear. The Gazette isn’t sure if any funds have actually moved from the developer’s bank account into the coffers of the city. Funds from carriage Gate should be in the city bank account by now.

The issue is not about the need for affordable housing – the issue is who is to provide that housing.

Every member of city council knows that housing is a Regional responsibility.

Co-op on Maple close to lakeshore

This high rise close to Lakeshore sets aside 60% of its space for rent geared to income (RGI) tenants. The building is owned and operated by a co-op that works with the Region.

The Region has policies, they have a reasonably clear idea of what is needed. How close they are to that need could be a little tighter.

The Region operates a number of towers that are totally affordable.

They partner with organizations that make space in buildings they own for rent geared to income space.

They maintain the list of who is looking for affordable housing and they determine who can get into a building and when.  The mix of affordable housing is pretty good.

The problem is the need for a shift from the approach that has language which makes affordable housing options sound like or look like welfare options.

Housing has to be looked at differently.

Search options

The Region has a section on its web site where people can search and see what is available. Waiting times to get a residence is measured in years.

The Region is responsible for the social housing needs of all four municipalities: Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

Gary CarrDuring the 2010 election Regional Chair came close to losing it when people were going on about the need for affordable housing at the municipal level – “it’s a Regional responsibility” he almost shouted out in an exasperating tone..

There are some very good people at the Regional level administering the policies and the properties.

In the event that Burlington sends the money it gets from developers to the Region (and that point isn’t clear) the Region does not appear to be committed to spending what it gets from Burlington in Burlington.

Instead of trying to outdo each other in how committed they are to affordable housing Burlington city council needs to get its act together and set out what it would like to see done and then take the Burlington plan to Regional council and fight for it at that level.

That however would require a council that is cohesive and can actually work together.
Burlington is now seeing a new crop of candidates that are younger, have good intellectual chops and want to see a change.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

ECoB – engaged Citizens of Burlington held a meeting for people interested in running for office – the came close to packing the room.

The city is close to have good solid candidates in all six wards and clear choices for the next Mayor.

In the 2014 municipal election Mayor Goldring said he was quite comfortable with seeing every member of the council re-elected.  And they were all re-elected.  They really weren’t any tough races with the possible exception of ward 6 where Blair Lancaster faced nine candidates.

 

There were two problems with the comfort level the Mayor had chosen.

He wasn’t leading council and council wasn’t taking the city anywhere.

That could be about to change.

The next step is for the people who live in the city to think about what they want and then decide who can deliver what they want.

Then get out and actually vote.

We did a piece recently on a woman who taught the city something about milkweed plants and learned that she had run for public office in 2003 – the turnout in that election was 16%.

No wonder we are in a mess.

The complacent people of Burlington did this to themselves.

As for an affordable housing policy that delivers for Burlington – that has to get worked out at the Regional level and Burlington city council members have to make their case at that level.

They’ve known that for the past seven years.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column reflecting the views, musings, observations and opinions of the Gazette publisher.

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A New Democrat's view of Doug Ford's government - Burlington is getting stiffed.

opinionandcommentBy Andrew Drummond

July 9th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The past week has given us a clear indication of the direction the new provincial government will take. Most of their decisions have been a follow through on things that Premier Ford said during the election campaign.

The long fight against the federal government regarding cap and trade for example, was something the Ontario PCs seemed to relish having and we will spend months or years on this battle that they seemed to want. Others of their decisions, such as delaying implementation of anti-scalping measures seemed to be less predictable.

But each of the actions taken so far will have a local impact in Burlington either directly or indirectly. So below is an evaluation of some of the actions taken by the new Ontario government and how they will impact our city and community.

LOCAL REPRESENTATION
The cabinet was announced on June 29, and perhaps expectedly, neither Jane McKenna nor Effie Triantafilopoulos was chosen for cabinet. But after the parliamentary assistants were named, and Effie was given a prominent role while Jane was overlooked, it became clear that Jane is not among the most trusted in the Conservative cabinet.

McKenna + Drummond

Andrew Drummond NDP candidate during the provincial election in conversation with Jane McKenna, now the MPP for Burlington,.

How does this impact Burlington? There are many pieces of government funding that rely on the local MPP to wield influence. The most prominent example of which is funding for Joseph Brant.  Across Jane’s first term in government Jo Brant was the lowest rated emergency room in all of Ontario. Over the last few years that has improved slightly (we are still in the bottom quartile) but the improvement came from funding that our MPP fought for. If the local MPP wields no influence, can we be sure that Jo Brant is going to get the operational funding it needs to continue its improvement? It is critical that we see action from our MPP that shows she has the influence in the government to get Burlington the support it so desperately needs.

CAP AND TRADE
Of all the announcements from the incoming government, the one publicized the most was the end of the Cap and Trade system implemented by the previous government. However, in declaring the end of that program, the government gave no notice as to what they intended to do about the Cap and Trade credits already purchased by companies intending to use them on the market. This is a 2.9 billion dollar investment that Ontario businesses that the government to this point has not explained how they will make companies whole.

The details on exactly who has spent how much on credits is not publicly available, so it is difficult to pin an exact figure on how much liability there is to Burlington specifically. And we are lucky that Burlington did not join this program and open us up to risks like other municipalities did (examples: Kingston, Kitchener). But there are undoubtedly local effects. Every negative consequence for province wide industries will effect us locally too.

And of the most concern is the limited impact this will have for Burlington. As was argued during the election campaign, there is sizable evidence that the price of gas is more controlled by market forces and less by costs. With that comes a risk that any reduction in gas taxation will not have any measurable impact on price and rather only increase profits for gas companies. The premier’s quote on the issue “We just have a good heart-to-heart talk with the oil companies and understand that they’re being watched right now,” also does not spark confidence that Burlington will see any meaningful cost savings from this government policy.

ANTI-SCAPLING LEGISLATION

The Ford government has made a number of quiet changes since being sworn in that will impact quality of life in Burlington. One of those was a delay in the implementation of the Ticket Sales Act that would have limited the resale price of a ticket to 50% above the printed price on a ticket. The company Stubhub believes that the law is dangerous because it is important to ensure sales “occur on platforms that provide vital consumer protections.” Most consumers would interpret this argument as Stubhub saying: If consumers are going to be gouged we’d like our cut of the gouging fees.

For Burlington residents this means that it will continue to be impossible to find tickets to concerts and key sporting events at reasonable prices. CBC did an analysis of some upcoming concerts in Toronto and noticed some egregious examples on resale ticket sites. Bruno Mars tickets raised from $100 to over $13,000 or Elton John from $221 to $1,878. The average family in Burlington cannot compete at those prices. As long as tickets can be bought in large buckets and then resold at incredible markups, the average Burlington family will be shut out of these events. And the Ford government is apparently ok with that.

Dowdeswell delivering Throne Speech MAr 16-2018

Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell delivering Throne Speech

So in all, it is difficult to see how anything in the first week of this government has had any positive impact on the day-to-day life of people in Burlington. From questions about how effective our MPP will be at securing critical hospital operating dollars to potentially costing local businesses millions in now useless Cap and Trade credits to blocking legislation to help us afford popular events, most actions to date seem in the best interest of people outside of our community.

However, the government will give its speech from the throne this week. We all remain optimistic that the government will set an agenda that will be better than these first early actions. Time will tell if there is any chance of Burlington being a priority for the next 4 years.

Andrew Drummond HeadshotThe opinions are those of Andrew Drummond, the New Democratic candidate for Burlington.  He placed second, ahead of the Liberal and Green Party candidates.  He is employed in the marketing and sales department of a major internet, cable TV and wireless service provider.

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Why did a building on the NW corner of Brant and James get approval for 24 storeys while the one on the SW corner is limited to 18 storeys?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City council will be debating a staff recommendation for the proposed development on Brant street, opposite city that starts on the SW corner of James and will run south to Kellys Bake Shop and include the full block.
The developer is asking for 27 stories – the city planners are recommending 18.

high profile 421

Approved.

The development on the NW corner of Brant and James has been approved at 23 storeys – why are the planners recommending 18 storeys for the second building when the one across the street has been approved for 23 – seems like a reasonable question – and for the developer it is a difference of six floors of condominium units

The 421 – 431 Brant Street development – it hasn’t been given a name yet – has been approved and will consist of:

• Twenty-three (23) storey building, which includes a 1-storey rooftop amenity area;
• Four-storey podium;
• 760 square metres of ground floor retail / commercial space;
• 365 square metres of 2nd floor office space;
• 169 residential units (maximum);
• A parking ratio of 1.2 parking spaces per residential unit in the below-grade parking structure, in addition to 8 dedicated visitor parking spaces and 1 car share space;
• Appropriate building setbacks from Brant Street (2.95 metres), James Street (2.6 metres) and John Street (1.8 metres);
• A 128 square metre (16 metre x 16 metre) visibility triangle (publicly accessible open space) at the corner of Brant Street and James Street;
• Appropriate building stepbacks and terracing above the 4th floor and above the 18th floor

The planners point out that the site is located within the Downtown Urban Centre and within the Downtown Core designation. They add that it “is important to note that the existing OP (that is the one in place before the Grow Bold OP – which was approved and sent to the Regional government for approval at that level), included a site specific exception for a portion of the site (421 – 427 Brant Street) which recognized the site as appropriate for increased height and density.”

What that means is that part of the land assembled for the development had an exception attached to it for height above the permitted heights for neighbouring properties. The way these things work is that the highest height is frequently applied to all the properties when they are assembled.

“The exception set an increased maximum height for the site of seven storeys with taller buildings up to a maximum height of twelve storeys permitted where they provide a sense of compatibility with surrounding land uses and a sense of pedestrian scale by the use of terracing above the second floor. The exception for 421 – 427 Brant Street also set out an increased maximum floor area ratio of 4.5:1, except that higher floor area ratios were permitted subject to community benefits provisions.”

“It is also important to note that the timing of the 421 Brant Street application preceded emerging policy directions for the Downtown Urban Growth Centre, which are now incorporated as a part of the Council Adopted Official Plan: Grow Bold.

From Civic Square

The view from Civic Square looking east at the two “landmark” towers. The one on the left (shown as a shadow) has been approved. The one on the right is before Committee of the whole today – planners want this one cut back to 18 storeys.

“On Sept. 28 2017, the draft new Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan was presented to Council for the first time for discussion and feedback at a Council Workshop at the Committee of the Whole. No decisions were made.

“On November 13, the 421 Brant Street applications were approved in principle.

“On November 30, 2017 a staff report on the Draft Downtown Precinct Plan and proposed Official Plan policies contemplated modifying the building height permissions at Brant Street and James to recognize that node as an area appropriate for landmark buildings and to reduce the building height permissions in the Cannery Precinct for the property located at Brant Street and Lakeshore Road in light of the 421 Brant Street application.”

What the city did was decide to live with height across from city hall and limit height along Lakeshore Road. Councillor Taylor was very specific when he said that he went along with the 23 storeys for 421 Brant on the understanding that Lakeshore heights would be limited to 17 storeys. That’s planning on the fly!

Untitled

There is a lot of detail in this map- you can identify the precincts that planners use to describe parts of the city and the kind of development permitted.

The Revenue Properties application (409 Brant) now has to find a way to work through and around a thicket of precinct plans, mobility hubs, the Urban Growth Centre and transit issues.

Bus roites - 1st design

Those red lines are the buses that come down Brant and loop along James into the bus terminal that got an upgrade and is now called a Mobility hub anchor. Traffic nightmare!

And, speaking of transit issues – there is a drawing that was part of one of the staff reports on the 409 project that showed the number of bus routes that flow into John Street, which is the street the garages for both 409 and 421 will exit onto – there is a nightmare of a continual traffic jam waiting to happen.
“No Staff/Council motion was made to increase height permissions in the Special Planning Area at Brant and James Streets as a result of the approval of the 421 Brant application on November 13th, 2017.”

What that seems to say is that the height 421 was given isn’t going to be available to 409. It is going to be interesting to see how that works out.

The Revenue Properties proposal is before Planning and Development Committee on Tuesday -July 10th in the afternoon and in the evening.

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Rivers: Requiem for the Environment ?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Shouldn’t a conservative by definition be one who practices conservation? Despite any word association, today’s popular conservatism is more akin to reactionary-ism – the impossible dream of winding the clock back to those good old days. But none of us is going to be able to recreate the glaciers and ice packs lost to global warming, nor roll back the oceans to levels where they were when the post war generation was coming of age.

Bill Davis - pipe cloud

Bill Davis: saved farm land with Ontario’s first experiment in green belting, and was a major force behind stopping acid rain.

Bill Davis was a conservative but he was determined to restore the Great Lakes, to save farm land with Ontario’s first experiment in green belting, and to stop acid rain. And Brian Mulroney won accolades from environmental organizations for promoting sustainable development and raising concerns about climate change. These were the last real progressive conservatives.

When the US government set out to eliminate lead in gasoline back in the seventies they adopted cap and trade. Cap and trade was  invented by a U of Toronto economist in the sixties. The technique is  considered business friendly and the single most efficient (least costly) way to achieve an environmental regulation.

The phaseout of lead exceeded everyone’s expectations, taking the lead out ahead of schedule and at far less cost than anticipated. The same kind of results were achieved when cap and trade was applied to the US acid rain program in the 90’s, reducing sulphur emissions from power plants faster and at less cost than  imagined. These programs had been developed by Republican administrations in the USA.  Generally, conservatives favour market instruments over intrusive regulatory ‘command and control’ approaches when it comes to the environment.

we

He just didn’t like taxes of any kind and suggested using regulations – command and control

The Harris conservative government had implemented a cap and trade program for smog pollutants from the electricity sector back in the early 2000’s, though it suffered from a number of design issues, and became redundant once the province phased out coal as an energy source. Cap and trade works best when there are a large number of entities involved in trading, which is why Quebec and California had been chosen to partner in Ontario’s program.

Economists are used to saying: bygones are bygones, and so cap and trade is now history in Ontario. Nevertheless killing the program, and doing so mid-year, is problematic. For one thing the province will surely be obligated to return the almost $3 billion Ontario businesses paid for their carbon allowances this year. And, since this was a multi-year program, we might be on the hook to return the previous year’s money as well.

cap_and_trade

Few fully understand how cap and trade programs work. The idea was created bu a Canadian economist at the University of Toronto. They are effective ad have been around for a long time.

It is unclear whether the abrupt and unilateral cancellation of our emissions trading arrangements with trade partners in Quebec and California will result in breach of faith and possible law suits. Clearly any trades of Ontario allowances or credits to businesses in those jurisdictions are now worthless, so we’ll see.

And Ontario will end up with a new carbon tax imposed by the federal government, which will be far more expensive than the previous estimated 4.3 cents per litre cost of cap and trade. The good news for Ontario residents is that while we’ll have to pay a carbon tax, all that money will be returned to us in some form. The bad news for Ontario’s new premier is that his government is not likely to have any access or control over it.

Doug Ford finger pointing

Don’t expect the federal government to be stupid enough to give the proceeds from a carbon tax to a premier who is unwilling to do anything to help the country meet its global climate commitments.

The BC government returns most of its provincial carbon tax back to its residents through lower income taxes, making it a sort of revenue neutral tax. Although the feds have not disclosed how they will return Ontario’s carbon taxes, nobody expects them to be stupid enough to give it to a premier who is unwilling to do anything to help the country meet its global climate commitments, and somebody who is actually suing the feds about the tax.

And the only savings we might see from cancelling the cap and trade program would be Mr. Ford’s promised 4.3 cents at the pump. I wouldn’t count on it though because the oil companies have not yet confirmed they will reduce gas prices.  Call that ten cent gas reduction the first casualty of Ford’s ‘chicken-in-every-pot’ election promise. Everyone knows you should not promise something you don’t control.

And he’ll have to break another election promise, about not firing anyone. Otherwise he’ll be paying salaries for those bureaucrats who used to manage cap and trade and those who administered the Green ON and other conservation programs funded by the revenues from cap and trade, to sit on their butts. No wonder nobody believes all the promises politicians make in an election campaign.

I saw former premier Mike Harris being interviewed during the recent PC leadership convention. He just didn’t like taxes of any kind and suggested using regulations – command and control – rather than a carbon tax. Well that made my soon-to-be buck-a-bottle beer start to curdle – just to hear Mr. Anti-Red-Tape proposing more… red tape.

But I’m not betting on Mr. Ford bringing in any regulations to curtail GHG emissions, let alone anything as bold as banning coal or as imaginative as cap and trade. You see, that would be progressive, and Mr.Ford is more the reactionary type of conservative. So don’t be surprised when he starts shutting down the EV charging stations, cancelling solar and wind electricity generating projects, and maybe even bringing back coal-fired electric power back to Ontario.

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Ford Cancels Cap and Trade –    Ontario Trading Partnerships –    US Acid Rain Program

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Campaigns for Burlington's next mayor begin to take shape - some early surprises.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The election that takes place October 22nd for a new city council and school board representatives is not going to be the snoozer that the 2014 election was.

That year every member of city council was returned. In the four years that seven member Council sat they made two major decisions.

They approved a new Strategic Plan and they passed a new Official Plan.

Strategic Plan Workbook

Traditionally Strategic Plans were for the term of a city council – four years.

strat-plan-logo-25-years

The current Strategic Plan is for a 25 year period. An incoming council is not bound to a plan created by a previous council.

Up until the 2012 a Strategic Plan was put in place Burlington created a Strategic Plan for the term of office. The understanding was that a current city council could not bind future councils to an objective they might not agree with.

There was never a public debate on lengthening the time frame of the Strategic Plan. The current council decided that it was better municipal governance to create a 25 year plan and tweak it as the years rolled by,

Four “pillars” were defined WHA ARE THESE and they became the base on which the plan was to rest. The city brought in KPMG as consultants who guided council and city staff through the process.
There were numerous delegations done but there was never a OPEN THIS UP

The four pillars for 2015 strat plan

The four pillars on which the 25 year Strategic Plant was built. How are we doing so far?

During the years leading up to the creation of a new Official Plan there were several speeches given by the Mayor on intensification and what it was going to mean to the city.

Rick Goldring chose what he believed was the safe political route to take – assure people that there will be changes but they aren’t really going to change very much. About 5% of the city would experience change.
The document that set out what intensification was really all about was a provincial policy statement – Places to Grow. It set out where the growth was going to take place and just how much growth there was going to be.

That process for Burlington had the decision made at the provincial level and the deciding of specifically where the growth was to take place made at the Regional level.

Downtown precincts - all

The Downtown part of Burlington is broken into precincts. There are development rues for each precinct. A precinct is not always one contiguous area. Confusing at times

Burlington had all kinds of input in that process but very little of it was as public as it could have been and there was certainly no public debate or information sessions on where the residential growth was going to take place and where the jobs would be located. That was done by the Planning department.

Mobility hubs

There are four mobility hubs -n Burlington these are centered around the four GO stations. Significant development, of both commercial and residential is planned for these locations. The development around Burlington and Aldershot GO stations is well underway.

Included in all this change was the mobility hubs; a concept that was never explained to the public in the early stages. The two words made sense – what wasn’t clear to the public, and to some of the members of council as well, as to what it did mean.

During some of the Strategic Plan meetings it looked as if the mobility hub at the Aldershot GO station was where the first stage of growth would take place. At the time the Paradigm project had broken ground and it soon became clear that the Burlington GO station was where all the early action was going to take place. Land on the north side of Fairview between Brant and Guelph Line became the real estate hot spot. Deals were being done weekly with several property owners holding out to get a better sense as to which direction the wind was blowing.

Downtown core precinct

This is the downtoen precinct – it is within the downtown core. Many felt that the high rise development should have been clustered further north. It may be too late for that – most of the property has already been assembled.

The public attention however was focused on the downtown core. The first of the high rise condo’s was before the planners. The developer came in with a 27 storey proposal on the NE corner of Brant and James that got whittled down to 23 which city council approved on a 5-2 vote.

Prior to this the ADI Group development at Lakeshore and Martha that had gone to the OMB where everyone was certain it would be scaled back. Didn’t happen – the city didn’t make its case and the OMB said the xx storeys were just fine.

Many felt the die was cast and that Burlington’s downtown core was to become a forest of 23+ storey condominiums.

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The beginning of the change for the downtown – this one will go up opposite city hall.

Many of the citizens were aghast – how could this happen?

Members of city council knew how it happened – they let it happen.

All this led to people wanting to stop this level of change from taking place.

The election scheduled for October was going to be their chance to elect a new city council that would create a new direction.

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward became the spokesperson for those who said they were not opposed to development – they just wanted responsible and properly phased in development. The developers saw a blazing hot market and they were not of a mind to wait. The current city council seemed quite prepared to go along with them.

The Mayor is on the ropes, Meed Ward has her loyal following – and then Mike Wallace makes it known that he will run for the office of Mayor.

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace congratulating Karina Gould on her win of the federal seat in Burlington.

Mike Wallace lost the federal seat as the Burlington Member of Parliament to Karina Gould. Mike loves being in power.

He was never seen as a big thinker but he brought millions of federal dollars to the city and he decided he could knock off Goldring and beat Meed Ward.

The Tory machine that didn’t deliver for him in the xx federal election still existed and Mike was going to take a shot at making it work for him at the municipal level. To be fair to Mike – he was facing a very popular Liberal leader whose coat tails Gould rode into office.

Each of the three major contenders, Goldring, Meed Ward and Wallace made early announcements, then each held their campaign kick-off events.

Rock at Kick Off - crowd

Mayor Rick Goldring at his campaign Kick Off

Goldring’s was tepid at best – he just didn’t say very much.

Meed Ward made her event a kick-off and a fund raiser – it cost $25 to get in the door.

Wallace held his event in the same room at Emmas Back Porch where he had conceded the federal election to Karina Gould.

This time Wallace had something to say – he spoke of two planks of his election platform.

He would ask council to approve an increase in the size of council – he thought going from a seven member council was now necessary and felt that nine was a good number.

Bronte MeAdows - BurlOak side

Bronte Meadows – owned by the Paletta interests, zoned as Employment land and included in the package of GTA properties that were in the offering to Amazon who were looking for an eastern headquarters – dubbed HQ2

He also said he wanted to create a community that would attract the young people back to Burlington where they could live and work and proposed the development of a large community. He didn’t say where he thought this development should take place and he didn’t say how large it should be.

There is only so much land that residential housing can be built on. The size of the land needed to do what Wallace has in mind is owned by Paletta’s.

The large property at Upper Middle Road and Bronte – known as Bronte Meadows – is zoned as Employment land. The Paletta’s have been trying for years to get that changed to residential or at least mixed use.
Wallace said that he was the kind of politician who could get things done; that he knew how to pick up the phone and talk to people.

The province now has a government that looks at development a lot differently hat the previous Liberal government.

Can one assume that Mike Wallace has talked to Angelo Paletta. I’d bet on that.

If, and this is just an if, those conversations have taken place does that mean the developers are still in control. Many people feel they have controlled the current council for some time.

MeSalt with Pepper are the opinions, musings and observations of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette

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Letter to the Editor: Resident frustrated by the self-righteous rhetoric of Deputy city manager.

opinionandcommentBy Carol Victor

June 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

mary-lou-tanner-city-hs

Mary Lou Tanner – former Director if Planning – now Deputy city manager.

Many of us are frustrated by the self-righteous rhetoric of (Deputy city manager) Marylou Tanner and the decisions made by the planning department in Burlington. Stop telling us what you want us to want, start listening to what we do want.

The planning department and Councillors who supported the decisions to “protect what residents value” better known as the “department that is destroying our beautiful city” have failed to listen to what engaged citizens have been saying for the better part of a year. They ploughed ahead with numerous presentations, emails, meetings, and brochures while failing to hear what the citizens don’t want. I attended many of the council meetings and was dismayed that so many delegations were heard and nothing was done.

mmw with supporters

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with some of her supporters.

One of the developers at a February meeting printed and had available for the public copies of a letter where he expressed his disdain for the one Councillor (Marianne Meed Ward) who had voted against this extensive development. This was a disgusting prank . Ms. Meed Ward deserves much credit for truly expressing what many of us feel. She was joined by one other person on council who voted against revising the official plan.

However in the case of the other individual, this was purely a case of optics as he clearly knew that the motion would pass despite the two dissenting votes. A lack of leadership is clearly missing when so many citizens take the time and energy to thoughtfully express their visions for the city they love.

Burlington aerial

The Burlington Carol Victor loves; she moved here nine years ago after 40 years in Toronto.

I moved here nine years ago after living in Toronto for 40 years. It was a breath of fresh air with an unencumbered and accessible waterfront, quaint shops downtown, no traffic gridlock, lots of green space and wonderful amenities. How things have changed!!!! There emerged this spring a great shadow over Lakeshore between Elizabeth and Pearl Streets. Lower Brant Street as we know it will soon disappear.

high profile 421

What family will move into a 23 storey tower with 1 and 2 bedroom condos.

As for meeting the demands of intensification, this is nonsense, what family will move into a 23 storey tower in what will be 1 and 2 bedroom condos, with one spot for parking, no nearby schools, grocery shopping that will soon be gone and traffic gridlock. If you don’t live near the downtown, I would suggest that you visit soon as you won’t recognize it in the near future. We will look like every other suburban off-shoot of Toronto; a western Mississauga with no character, a myriad of shopping malls with chain stores and a series of concrete towers without a real downtown. Why are we giving this away?

werv

werv

The only power we have now is at the ballot box. The function of our Municipal Government is to serve the citizens of the city. Going forward we need to elect people who listen to its citizens and truly respect the democratic process.

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Rivers: Would we be better off on our own - Oh Canada 2018

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 30th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“Overall, NAFTA was neither devastating nor transformational for Canada’s economy. Opponents of the 1988 free trade agreement had warned that Canada would become a glorified 51st state. While that didn’t happen, Canada didn’t close the productivity gap with the US either…” (NAFTA’s Winners and Losers by David Floyd Jan 30, 2018 – Investopedia)

And that is perhaps because NAFTA has always been a free trade agreement in name only. You see that every time you cross the border and some official asks you if you have something to declare. Try ordering something on-line from a US supplier and you’ll find yourself waiting a long time until the customs have been cleared and after you’ve paid the duty.

And while NAFTA is supposed to include services as well as goods, there is no free trade in labour services – you can’t just waltz across the border and get a job there. NAFTA and its Can-US ‘free trade’ predecessor were implemented to assist large corporations enhance their profitability, particularly in the auto sector which needed to update the 1960’s auto-pact.

And over the last twenty five years NAFTA has benefited consumers with lower prices on a good number of items and some services. But like every good economic idea, NAFTA has had consequences on Canada.

Trucks at the border

Rivers does make a strong point about how much damage those trucks do as they move parts and produce across the border.

One we almost never hear about is transportation and the environment. The auto industry likes to brag about how often an automobile crosses the border before its final assembly and sale. That crossing is accomplished mostly by trucks rushing to fulfil their just-in-time assembly line orders, zig-zagging half way across the continent.

So there is all this truck congestion at the borders and all around us on our highways. Transportation is inherent in the definition of freer trade. Trucks, trains and ships move goods and components across even greater distances. And these vessels all use fossil fuels to operate. So the biggest casualty of free trade is the environment and how we are accelerating global climate change.

More congestion translates into gridlock – more time for the daily commute and the immeasurable costs of lost family play time. Then there is the added noise and that smog inducing pollution. There is danger in sharing road space with those massive speeding trucks. And of course there is the cost of road bed maintenance and highway reconstruction – and the inconvenience of it all.

trump-signing exec order

President Trump seems to have to show off his signing of Executive Orders. Raw political power on display.

It’s not that Canada wants to tear up NAFTA but Mr. Trump does, and he’s going to do it. In any case, there won’t be much left after softwood, aircraft, metals and autos – his next target. When the Canada-US free trade deal first got off the ground there was a huge sucking sound as manufacturing jobs and incomes headed down to the US. Companies decided they could still sell to Canadian customers duty-free while being better located for the much greater US market.

Ontario and Quebec were particularly hard hit, but we adjusted and we’ll adjust again once Trump has rendered NAFTA into the dust bin of history. And that could be as soon as he announces his upcoming tariffs on autos.

Toyota estimates a 25% auto tariff will push up the cost of a Camry – currently the most popular car in the US, and built there – by $1800 for its US customers. And as Toyota goes so goes the rest of the industry. But that simple reality hasn’t deterred Mr. Wreck-it Ralph in the White House from his path of destruction.

And autos? They’re changing. The electric vehicle is simpler to manufacture, not needing the complication of the myriad of devices used with gas engines to help detoxify car emissions. And batteries which last a minimum of eight years have eliminated the need for a dealer network to service the vehicles once they leave the showroom – no more oil changes.

That means it should be a lot easier for new entrants to get into the auto industry – who needs the big three anymore and their integrated vehicle assembly plants anyway. Those corporations are yesterday’s business model. They need to move over for a new breed of smaller auto manufacturers who sell the products on-line or in shopping malls and Costco. Is there a Canadian entrepreneur, our own Tesla inventor, up to the challenge?

Wood-300x199

The factory that manufactured the first Rivers family freezer.

My parents bought their first food freezer from the Guelph appliance company W.C. Wood Co. Ltd.. It lasted for over forty years without a breakdown. Mr. Wood recounts that…“In 1964 37 Canadian companies manufactured washing machines, stoves and refrigerators. Today, there are four. Workers in the industry used to total 10,000. Now, there are 2,500… By next year, Mr. Wood said, he’ll be looking at just three manufacturers (here).” Try to get 40 years out of one of the US built models today.

And what is Trump talking about. Canada has an overall trade deficit in the billions with the US, although we have a surplus on goods. But that is mostly our export of crude oil, and we all know where that will be going as fractured drilling is making America more oil independent every year. Sure manufacturing and manufacturing jobs are declining in the US for a number of reasons, including automation. But they are declining even faster in Canada – we’re not gaining at America’s expense.

And why didn’t someone tell the Donald that Canada actually buys more steel from the US than it sells – $2.1 billion more. And we buy more military hardware from the US than anywhere else in the world – over a billion a year on average. We pay more for our pharmaceuticals and intellectual goods because we have conformed to US rules on patents and copyrights.

Sir Jogn - old flag

Is this the direction Canada is going in? Is t the direction we have to go in?

We’ll survive as we did for over a century before NAFTA or the Mulroney deal. And Trudeau is right – we’re not going to be pushed around. Canadians have got the message – we love our American neighbours but there is a trade war and we need to defend ourselves. So a lot of us are responding the best way we can. We have stopped buying US gods and services, even if that means buying Chinese.

I noticed the last few times shopping in the liquor store that people were asking more and more about alternatives to US wines. That should be our next target in this ever growing trade dispute with the US. I’d rather drink Ontario or B.C. fine wines anyway.

But I rarely see the B.C. wines in the LCBO. Perhaps that is where we need to make sure free trade is really working – right here across Canada. After all we are on the eve of Canada Day – more important for us now than ever.

 

 

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

NA Free Trade –    Manufacturing Decline –    Tariffs Hurt

Appliance Makers –    Toyota

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Two thirds of workers don’t have a workplace pension; teachers,federal, provincial & municipal employees have a defined benefit with a fixed payout. Some corporate pension plans get misused. Not much fairness.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“When people think whatever they happen to believe constitutes a fact, there goes a reasonable chance at having a meaningful discourse.” (Kevin Mathews, Care2)

Even if, true to his election promise, Mr. Ford doesn’t fire a single civil servant, they will all be retiring one day.  And that will cost the government a whack of money in pension payouts, right?  We know public pensions come from the government so they must be paid for with tax payer money.

Pensioners

Burlington has a senior citizen population that is growing faster than neighbouring communities.

That is gospel because we hear that opinion all the time – reading the National Post, The Sun and Globe and Mail; or just listening to some of my readers of this column.  So I thought I’d try a back-of-the-envelope calculation, using the federal pension system as an example, just to get a handle on the facts around pensions.  Most defined-benefit pension plans operate in a similar fashion.

Federal employees each contribute about 10% of their annual salary into their pension fund.  And like most other employers, the government matches that amount, thereby doubling the contribution.  For employees starting out at age 20 and assuming an average $50,000 salary over their working career, they would contribute about $5000 annually.  After 30 years of service the employees would be eligible for retirement (85 formula) having added some $300,000 in total to the pension fund.

At retirement, when the employees are 55, they would receive 2% of their average last five years’ salaries multiplied by their years of service.   In this highly simplified case that would amount to an annual pension of $30,000 per year (2% X 30 yrs. X $50,000).   Of course pension plans are a platform for investment which can earn capital gains, dividends and interest.

So even at a modest 3-5% return over the initial thirty years of paying into the fund, the retirees’ initial endowment would double or more over all that time.  That would give the pensioner over twenty years of getting back their own money – taking them well beyond their 75th year before their pension contributions finally run out.

Indexing the pension for inflation, which has been insignificant over the last two decades, would affect that calculation in the other direction.   And while those pensioners who live a long life will be a drain on the plan, those who die prematurely will allow the pension fund to accelerate.

pension benefits +There are competing types of pension funds.  Though under attack by right-wing think tanks, the defined benefit, with a fixed payout, is still the modus operandi for pension plans for teachers, hospital workers, provincial and municipal employees, crown corporations, financial institutions (banks and insurance companies) as well as a number of larger private sector organizations.

The defined benefit is also the formula used by our highly successful Canada Pension Plan.  However the current favourite of the chattering classes and the investment industry is something called a defined contribution plan, where the payout will depend strictly on how well the money had been invested.  This is akin to hiring a financial advisor, giving him/her your money and accepting the vagaries of the markets and the whims and/or skill of the advisor – the Casino Rama pension plan.

Still two thirds of Canadian workers don’t even have a workplace pension plan at all, let alone a defined benefit plan.  Former premier Wynne understood the frustration of those who had been excluded from the security provided by a registered pension plan.  She had proposed to ensure that all Ontario workers were covered by a plan comparable to the one government employees receive.  But the premier was forced to compromise in the face of opposition by other provinces, though not before forcing the federal government to increase CPP payouts for all Canadians.

Sears scoreboard

The failure of Sears as a corporation impacted pension benefits – Why?

There are a mess of private pension plans out there and why not?  What better way to get your corporate hands on a whole bunch of cash in a hurry, to pursue some risky investment or bail the corporation out in an economic downturn, than dipping into a find you control.   And because pension plans are tax-deductible, dipping into those assets is like getting money for nothing – at least the taxable amount.

Nortel pension

Nortel pensioners have had to take on a protracted court case to get some of their benefits.

And then there are the consequences of bankruptcy.  Look at Nortel, Stelco and now Sears – just the latest private plans to abuse the trust of their pensioners.  When it comes to collecting pensioners fall behind secured creditors, banks and bondholders in getting compensation after bankruptcy.

And if/when the companies eventually go into receivership it falls to governments to bailout the pension fund, as the Ontario government has done a couple times with Stelco.  But bailouts are never what the pension should have been – usually compensate to a fraction of entitlements.  And, of course, bailouts are undertaken with taxpayer dollars.  That is a fact and not an opinion.

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links:

Fact Vs Opinion –    Pension Facts –    Federal Pension Rules

Sears –     Stelco –    Nortel

Conversion of Plans –    More on Pensions – 

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Rivers isn't betting on NAFTA being in place for much longer.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A trade war between Canada and the USA is already here but according to at least one columnist help could be on the way. Apparently Kim Jung Un has offered his good offices to host peace talks between Canadian PM Trudeau and the US president. Kim was considered the evilest of evil until US president Donald Trump announced that he is a good guy after all, funny and strong, and someone who loves his starving oppressed people and is loved in turn.

trump-kim-jong-un-

Kim Jung Un with Donald Trump

Donald Trump wants to be known as a man of his word and true to his election promises. So he’s tearing up NAFTA through a series of small injuries – the ‘worst treaty yet’ along with the Paris Climate agreement and the Iran Nuclear deal. And Canada and Mexico are just chump change, small game in the foreground of his grander gun sights. Because America First is going to change the world – burying the notion of freer global trade big league, and bringing an end to globalization.

Trump and the latest incarnation of his inner cabinet are convinced that trade is only good when America exports more than it imports – the emperor’s new clothes. They’ve seen the equation used in standard economics text books and know that gross domestic product equals domestic consumption plus investment plus net exports. So all exports are good and all imports are bad. The Donald would know this too because he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in economics back in the ’60’s.

Of course the economics of trade is far more complicated than that, since, for example imported investment capital is far more valuable to an economy than imported consumer products. But complexities like that and philosophical theories like comparative advantage are the kinds of details that the bloody ‘elites’ like to toss around to show how smart they are. And by elites the Trumpeters mean anyone with more than a passing knowledge of anything besides… real estate deals. After all, it was the anti-elite crowd who elected him.

donald-trump-mcdonalds-fast-food-hamburger

American President is known to chow down on junk food – McDonalds being a favourite.

Trump probably sees Canadian prime minster Trudeau as one of those elites. Though Trudeau, like Trump, hadn’t made it to Harvard his father did briefly. But Justin has that aura anyway, the stuff that elites are supposed to be made of – civility and culture, politeness and courtesy, and political diplomacy. He is so unlike the in-your-face, tweet-prone, American Big Mac – the US president. They do have drama in common – Trudeau as a teacher and Trump playing his best real life Willy Loman character from Arthur Miller’s classic, The Death of a Salesman.

Canada will not forfeit supply management for its dairy industry because Canadians know it is more sustainable than the American alternative of market distorting subsidies. The evidence is clear. We have stability and they have over-production and market chaos. Then they expect us to absorb their excess dairy products. Supply management is something which all Canadian political parties fully endorse, a policy initiated by Justin’s father almost half a century ago.

cows

Canada has supply management in place which gives us price stability; the Americans have over-production and market chaos.

And it’s not like Trump cares a drop about the mainline dairy industry. He doesn’t even drink the stuff – he’s a raw milk guy. So why would he care about the conventional dairy folks wanting to dump their millions of gallons of subsidized milk in Canada, instead of their plowed fields? No, dairy is just a pretext for battle, and another nail in the NAFTA coffin.

If I were a betting man I’d put my money on NAFTA being relegated to the history books at least for rest of this generation. The new and substantial tariffs Trump is planning for the auto industry will be the coup de gras. Of course Canada’s foreign minister is hoping to seduce the US congressional types with her charm offensive, but the odds are not in her favour. The Republican Party is the party of Trump now, and he won’t be charmed.

This is a job for our own big guy, the PM. Some might think the emerging problem between the two men is lack of respect. Trump had said nice things about Trudeau in their earlier days, but then he also slobbered all over China’s leader Mr. Xi before slapping him with $50 billion dollars of tariffs. Despite their names both beginning with the letter T, they are different, One is old and messy the other young and fit, one opens the door for women to get catch up, the other just lusts over them.

And one is a true liberal while the other is neither that nor conservative – just a thug. Canada is a smaller economy and nation, and heavily dependent on the US for its trade and arguably its defence. So Trump’s ‘weak’ and ‘meek’ and ‘mild’ comments are likely more about the nation and not just its leader. One believes in climate change, the other believes in coal.

Justin as a boxer

Trudeau showing some real strength.

Maybe it’s time for Mr. Trudeau to take a lesson from North Korea’s Kim and show some real strength. Perhaps he should bring in the TV camera’s and show off a newly installed big red button on his office desk. Justin should then brag about how much bigger it is than the one in the oval office, and that pressing it would release a barrage of nuclear missiles aimed at the White House, Mar-a-Lago and Trump Towers everywhere. But he’d be happy to meet in Singapore for a nuclear summit.

Of course none of that would be true. Canada hasn’t had a nuclear missile on its soil since former PM Diefenbaker sent the Bomarc’s back stateside in the sixties. But then when has telling the truth ever been important to America’s liar-in-chief, Mr. Fake News south of the border?

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Kim’s Offer –   Trump and Trade –   Drama –  

Freeland goes to Washington –   Emperor’s New Clothes –  

Raw Milk

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