Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

INRI
‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Luke 23:34

Jesus on the cross

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Luke 23:34

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Gazette has been around for seven years - started out as Our Burlington - When do people read the Gazette?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette is now in its seventh year of publication.

We first hit the streets, via the Internet, in October of 2010 – that was an election year.

For a short period of time we were known as Our Burlington – I didn’t choose the name.

The paper came out of a friendship with the late John Boich who was working with a number of people on creating a better way to deliver local news. In the early stages the people behind that initiative were thinking in terms of getting low frequency radio license – that wasn’t something I was interested in.

The Shape Burlington report had just been published – Boich and former Mayor Walter Mulkewich were the authors of hat report which, in part said:

Engagement: Transform the City Hall culture to promote active citizenship and civic engagement

Promoting active citizen engagement and meaningful public dialogue requires a culture shift at City Hall. A crucial first step is the development an Engagement Charter – a plain language policy document developed with public involvement that incorporates benchmarks and accountabilities, and describes the value, purpose and opportunities for citizens to influence city policies.

The charter would explain how to navigate City Hall and its services. It should stipulate best practices for various kinds of public consultation and affirm the city’s commitment to inform citizens and respond to their ideas and contributions. t would address the question of reaching out to a diverse population.

The charter would incorporate an early notification system to provide citizens and groups information about meetings, events and issues, and to allow reasonable amounts of time to understand, discuss and develop positions before decisions are made.

I managed to convince Boich that a newspaper on line was the route to go – the Executive Director of the non-profit he had set up wasn’t a newspaper person. Boich asked me if I would put together a business plan –

I did – and he said – great – make it happen.

And that was how Our Burlington came to be.

I soon realized that “Our Burlington” was not a fit name for a newspaper and chose the name Gazette for two reasons: Burlington once had a print newspaper called the Gazette and the first photograph I had published as a boy 12 was on the front page of the Montreal Gazette – I also delivered that newspaper as a boy.

When I started the Burlington Gazette I was pretty sure the editorial model I had in mind would work – but it needed to be tried to be certain. The model works.

We have had our ups and downs but the readership growth has been consistent; not massive but consistently incremental.

So who reads the Gazette?

As many readers know we are in the midst of running a readership survey. The practice going forward will be to do a new survey every month – shorter next time; three maybe four questions.

Here is what we can tell you about when the Gazette is read:

Gazette readers story

Just over 40% of our readers are daily readers. We notice that during the winter a decent number of “snowbirders” read us from the United States – we don’t know which state they are reading from – just US of A.

There is more in the way of readership from Hamilton and Toronto than we expected.

survey04The data show in the graph above is “raw” in that we don’t tell you which ward those readers live in.  we will include that data in the full report which we will publish when the survey is  closed.  We wanted the survey open for at least 15 days.  The Sunday readership is always quite high and we want to keep it open beyond the Easter holiday.

 

Related news stories:

The Shape Report

The city’s Community Engagement Charter

Why the Gazette?

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City administration demands that a Gazette column be taken down; leaving it up will damage the city’s reputation because according to the city we are making things up and telling lies.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Our relationship with the city administration is not all that good.

The city has a Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications who wrote us recently saying:

“…  Yet again you have written another article which is completely false and damaging to Planning staff’s reputation.

You are blatantly accusing city staff of lying and making things up about developments in the city. The rendering in question was developed for the city by an outside consulting firm at the request of Council who wanted to know what different sites could develop as. There was discussion of this at committee around the public sidewalk width/heritage building trade-offs and the like.

The owners of the property were and are well aware of the renderings and have not raised any issues with the city. Anything else you say to the contrary is not true or accurate.

This is an article that we demand in the strongest terms be taken down; leaving it up will continue to do damage to the city’s reputation because according to the article we are making things up and telling lies.

This continues a pattern of known false articles you have written about the city.

Some facts: We did publish an article about a rendering of a building on a site on the north east corner of Brant and Lakeshore Road.

We talked directly to two of the principles who said they were unaware of the rendering and did not give anyone permission to have a rendering done. They weren’t asked for permission.

We did not identify the principles – developers don’t like to find themselves in messy situations with anyone at city hall – it just isn’t good for business.

We did not say that anyone at city hall was lying. We made reference to the President of the United States and the number lies he tells and wondered if that habit had migrated north.

There is nothing the Gazette can do to improve the city’s reputation. They own it and what they do with it is up to them.

What we do know is that a number of people do not feel the city administration is hearing what they have to say. The Gazette offers a forum where people can comment on news stories we write.

The piece we wrote on the architectural rendering can be found HERE

There are times when we make mistakes. We correct those mistakes.  There are no mistakes in the article.

What the comments made by the Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications reveal is that we have an administration that bullies, threatens and cajoles.  The City Manager did just that with ECoB when they threatened them with legal action.

Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) To Whom it May Concern:

James Ridge - looking right

James Ridge – Burlington City Manager

On your website, in the area of letter writing campaign, you set out questions to be asked of the letter recipients. Among them is:

How can staff in the planning department be pushing these amendments when they know that they are not following The Professional Code of Practice of the Ontario Planners Institute which requires members to serve the public “to provide full, clear and accurate information on planning matters to decision makers and members of the public”?

This directly alleges that City staff have committed professional misconduct, and is categorically untrue. Staff have met or exceeded all requirements of their professional codes of practice, and have far exceeded the requirements of the planning act and other legislation in terms of consultation and provision of information. The fact you don’t like their recommendations does not mean they have acted unprofessionally.

I would like an immediate removal of these comments from your site, and an apology, or I will take all necessary steps to hold you accountable for these defamatory comments.

James Ridge City Manager

ECoB took the comments off their web site but took a pass on the opportunity to apologize.

There are times when the public makes mistakes and elects a city council that has a tin ear. That kind of mistake can be corrected during a municipal election.

Salt with Pepper is a column reflecting the opinions, musings and reflections of the Publisher of the Gazette.

 

 

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City appears to have a vision for the corner of Lakeshore Road and Brant - owner of the land knows nothing about the rendering.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a very nice drawing. Architects and planner call them renderings. They are used by the real estate agents selling property and frequently they don’t reflect what the end product is going to look like.

The Gazette has used the drawings on a number of occasions.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro b

A rendering out of the fertile mind of someone in the city’s planning department? It didn’t come from the developer that owns the land. Corner of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street.

We were both surprised and a little stunned when we learned that while the property at the north east corner of Brant and Lakeshore is owned by the Molinaro Group – the rendering wasn’t produced by the Molinaro’s.

What? – you might ask.

Apparently the city planning department didn’t ask the Molinaro people for permission to put together a rendering – they just did it.

During a recent city council meeting there was considerable discussion on how high a building on that site should be? The debate had the height swinging from 23 then down to 17 then down to 15 and then down to 12 and then back up to 17.

The Molinaro Group owns the land but they say they haven’t even decided who the architect on the project might be.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro rendering a

The rendering that reflects the thinking of the planning department – the owner of the property knows nothing about it and didn’t authorize it creation or use.

They are busy completing the Paradigm on Fairview and getting ready to start work on Brock 2 and continuing their discussions with the planners on their Brant/Ghent development that is working its way through the planning department.

When that fellow to the south of us (the American President) told some of his supporters that he just made up the international trade figures he gave to our Prime Minister we shrugged – that what he does; tells lies because he doesn’t know what the truth is.

survey04Has that habit worked its way across the border and into the Burlington Planning department?

Just asking.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, musings and reflections of the Publisher of the Burlington Gazette

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Rivers on the PC leadership choice: When you turned your clock back did you take it to the 50's?

 

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 12th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. Take thou what course thou wilt.”
( William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)

Even though Doug Ford claims to have been brother Rob’s brain, advising him daily as Rob ran the city of Toronto, I keep coming across articles which refer to Doug as stupid.

Perhaps people are being prejudiced, swayed by his appearance, a likeness to that high school bully which we all had to confront or accommodate. You know the tough guy who always struggled with his grades, had trouble attracting the right girl for some reason, and who always spoke in monosyllabic superlatives.

Doug Ford finger pointing

Doug Ford – expect to see a lot of him in the next 90 days.

Yet it is possible that this so-called ‘dummy’ has just pulled off the biggest coup in Ontario’s political history, thereby lifting himself to the top of the roost in the respected party of John Robarts, Bill Davis, and Mike Harris. If true this would have been a plot to equal the best scripted by that genius Shakespeare.

The story starts in the aftermath of the 2014 election. The Tories had been devastated by their loss and vowed never again as they licked their wounds. They needed a change of direction and a leader to take them in that direction. Enter Patrick Brown, someone with no apparent dirty laundry, no enemies and no friends in provincial politics, but with the kind of credentials one earns hanging around Stephen Harper’s backbench.

patrick-brown

Patrick Brown gaining the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party.

He had a vision – a pathway to victory – growing the party membership, filling the war chest, and creating a platform which had something for everyone in Ontario. It was close enough to the status quo to appeal to left leaning Tories and right thinking Liberals alike. And the people responded in numbers large enough to promise a landslide if the polls could deliver for him. True enough, the party’s popularity wasn’t all his doing, but he was at the helm and the PCs were headed for a victory not seen since Mike Harris.

But things didn’t work out that way for our young hero. The right wing of the party establishment violently disapproved of the newly adopted platform’s policies, which appeared to be carbon copies of those of the stinking Liberals they wanted to replace. Why would the public want to change horses when the one they were on is already going in the right direction. And how could anyone take the PC’s seriously when they were parading themselves as nothing more than blue Liberals.

The right wing establishment must have been AWOL, or fast asleep, when the party membership unanimously approved Brown’s platform just last November. But clearly there was a sense that Brown didn’t deserve to lead, hadn’t been in the trenches, and must have pulled a fast one to slip by Christine Elliott in the leadership vote.

pc-leadership- ontario debate-20180228

It came down to these four – what happened in the back rooms can only be imagined.

This upstart had offered himself up as another social conservative but now was behaving like it was his personal party and he and it had undergone a metamorphosis from red neck to red Tory.

Doug Ford had trumpeted his ambition to one day be the leader of this land – Canada. Ambition is a powerful motivator, especially for a man trying to live up to all that he believed his father could have been. It was Ford’s time, if only he could get rid of Brown. Elliott wanted revenge and Mulroney was simply Mulroney – owed the title by divine providence. If the young Brown got in he might remain premier for a decade or more, and then the time might have passed for these pretenders to the throne.

The flash point in Brown’s platform was his acceptance of the provincial sex-education curriculum. At least it was for Tanya Granic Allen whose extreme religious persuasion propelled her directly onto the war path against Brown. She was not going to stand for it – after all she hadn’t seen the word ‘love’ in the sex-ed program.

Brown may have been gaining popularity among the people but was losing respect in the minds of his peers and the old Harris guard – the right wing of the party. They have always been clear that less government is better government. Tax cuts are good and regulations bad. The primary role of the provincial government is to stop social creep, especially when it comes to matters of sex.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown resigning.

So is it possible that these unlikely wannabe leaders, and a few more of the party’s neocon class, teamed up, conspired to bring down the new king, figuratively, as Julius Caesar’s stalwart’s had taken him down. A couple of shaky accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour, some innuendo about fake membership numbers and some suggestion of financial irregularity – that Brown was pilfering funds from the PC trust fund – would be enough to smear him. Then he’d have to resign and one of their kind would take over.

Of course this is all hypothetical and in this hypothesis it’s possible that only one or two of the candidates may have been aware of the planned political assassination of Brown but it is inconceivable that the others wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. The chief protagonist may not even have been one of the candidates. But if this story is accurate there was a plan to win and Ford won.

And the party echelon had to be eager to rid themselves of a leader bent on a mission to forever shift the party to the centre of the political spectrum and betray those who are have spent their lives arguing right from left. So somebody got to Brown’s old girl friends and then Randy Hillier complied a list of wild accusations and the party was ready to perform political assassination as Brown whimpered ‘et tu Brute?’.

Oh what a tangled web we weave. It wasn’t long before the fangs came out as our lovely snakes engaged in tribal cannibalism. Ford, jumped in feet first calling Elliot his friend, even as he ripped into her over her flip flops and her government job. He was, after all, the only fellow who had demonstrated real leadership – the first to hit the road and set the pace – trashing the carbon tax promise and attacking the morality of allowing teachers to explain sex to students.

That is what likely drew in co-conspirator Tanya, an eleventh hour entry into the pack. She was there to eat into the female vote so Ford would have a better chance of slithering past Elliott. And she did and he did. And ironically Ford, hardly a pinnacle of godly behaviour in his earlier street life, entered into an unholy alliance with Allen. Her reward was that damned sex ed thing, and ending renewable energy and maybe opening the debate on abortion again – from his pulpit as leader of Canada’s most populist province

Conspiracy theories book cover

Their will be more than one book written on “what really happened” – will we ever know?

Conspiracy theories come along all the time about one thing or another. Still there is no other logical explanation for the rapid demise of an elected leader only a few months before an election. There is no rational for the almost panic-like urgency to replace him. And what else explains the chaos that has ensued and will no doubt continue for some time.

If not a conspiracy the only other explanation is sheer incompetence. If a party can’t manage itself choosing a leader does anyone believe it can manage the affairs of the province?

Conspiracy or incompetence, take your pick.  Either way the people of Ontario deserve better.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly 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- Elliot –    Detailed Results –     More Leadership

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Politicians aren't what they used to be - Robarts and Davis delivered in their day.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

As publisher it is no secret that I am a Liberal but that does not mean the Gazette is a Liberal newspaper.

John Robarts - one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

John Robarts – one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

The first political event I attended in Ontario was in 1967 while I was at university. I watched a debate between John Robarts and Robert Nixon at the Grand Theatre on Princes Street and turned to my friend and said “Robarts is a very impressive candidate”; he went on to win his eighth election to remain one of the best Premiers the province has had. He was more than the leader of a party and the Premier of the Province, he was also an outstanding Statesman. His Confederation of Tomorrow Conference was about two things: leadership and dialogue.

He was replaced by Bill Davies as Premier. Davis was a little on the bland side but he represented what the province was at that time. The changes he made to the province’s education system is something we are still benefiting from today.

Bill Davis had problems learning how to balance a budget; never really did learn.

Bill Davis had problems learning how to balance a budget; never really did learn.

His brilliant decision to cede a couple of metres of the Spadina Expressway stopped that road driving into the center of Toronto.

Ontario had good government – we were all well served. Think really hard to recall anything that either man did to embarrass the province.

Fast forward to David Petersen. A Liberal; how did he compare with Robarts or Davis ? – not all that good.

From a purely Conservative political perspective – Doug Ford is just not cut from the same cloth that Robarts and Davis came from.

To be completely honest Dalton McGuinty wasn’t cut from the same cloth either.

Wynne Kathleen - looking guilty gas plant hearing

Kathleen Ford will have to give the performance of her political career to win this one. The choice for the public is crystal clear.

Too early to say anything as definitive for Wynne. She realized that Canadians had to save more for their pension years; her push to create a pension fund for Ontario forced the federal government to change the Canada Pension Plan. She was willing to abandon her proposal to create a provincial pension plan when the federal government went along with a deal to make improvements to the Canada Pension Plan.

The way Wynne bird dogged Stephen Harper into meeting with her was impressive. How does the leader of a federal government ignore meeting with the Premier of the biggest province in the country.

Let’s be clear however – Ms Wynne has some explaining to do – how she hopes to get away with presenting yet another deficit budget at the end of the month is a stretch.

Ford Doug

Will Doug Ford be the next Premier of the province?

The point here is – what has happened to the quality of the men and women who put themselves forward as leaders?

The results of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership are now official- Doug Ford will lead the Progressive Conservatives in the June election

A John Robarts he ain’t. He has a lot to explain. Has he ever said anything contrite about the much reported drug dealing he was involved in? We don’t believe he has ever said he did not deal drugs.

We hear much about the business successes – the family labeling business is not something he is involved in on a daily basis. He benefits from the profits.

Our issue is not that he is a Conservative – it is that he is Doug Ford.

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Rivers has things to say about how Doug Ford won the Progressive Conservative party leadership

News 100 redBy Staff

March 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ray Rivers, our political columnist, plays a guitar in a small band and from time to time takes to the stage.

He and I were in pretty much constant contact during the afternoon watching the CBC’s excellent election coverage of the Progressive Conservative leadership contest.

For political junkies it was pure oxygen.

Rivers had to get to the theatre in Oakville where he has a part in a play before he could write his column.

The play, Dead Men Don’t Itch, is nearing the end of its four – day run. There is a Matinee on Sunday – show up and he will autograph your program for you.

Rivers Dead Men

Rivers performs on stage on a ‘noir’ comedy.

His column should be up for you on Sunday – assuming Ray remembers to set his clock ahead one hour.

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TRANSIT: Without a commitment to Transit, and the will to fund it properly, little wonder transit in Burlington is where it is today.

opinionandcommentBy James Smith

March 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s very refreshing to see both a City Manager and a Transit Director with a commitment to Transit after decades of administrative incompetence and political dogmatic undermining of the file. While competent management is welcome it will take citizens committed to having new civic leadership with some vision and spine this fall to really improve transit.

Perhaps if folks decided it was time for most of the tired old fogeys on city council to retire; real change might come to transit in Burlington. Hope springs eternal for competent civic leadership, but history is a cruel master.

Bfast Transit group logo

Burlington’s Friend and Supporters of Transit has been a consistent and positive voice for better transit. They did more to make the issue public than the Transit service did.

The challenge for all cities right now on the transit file is confronting the big lie of “doing more with less” that has become gospel. Municipal councils will claim to keep their taxes to the rate of inflation. Sounds good, nobody wants to pay more taxes, but the largest single budget envelope under municipal control, police budgets, continue to expand. The obvious result is every other item faces a cut to service as other wages, fuel and capital costs continue to rise.

Without a commitment to Transit, and the will to fund it properly, little wonder transit in Burlington is where it is today. Burlington has dishonestly claimed for years that it has “kept taxes low”, while seeming true on the surface this is the result of Burlington getting a free ride from the Region’s budget take of massive, one time, development charges from the rest of Halton. These development charges continue to pay for services in Burlington keeping tax increases artificially low.

Cities such as Burlington could potentially be entering into a very dark period, not just for transit but for all city services. There is a very real chance the Conservatives may come to power at Queen’s Park. There’s no coincidence that a lost decade of transit in Ontario was the direct result of the hit transit took during the Harris/Eves administration. Provincially it has taken more than a decade to fix many files that were cut or ignored during that time, this is especially true in the case of transit. Part of the likely Conservative agenda is the big lie that “tax cuts will spark the economy”.

So read this as Conservatives cutting funding for many programmes, will transit escape the knife? Look at their leadership hopefuls and their track record.

Spicer + Ridge

City manager James Ridge with former Director of Transit Mike Spicer at an event organized by citizen transit advocates. Spicer resigned as Director not that long after this picture was taken.

In the past few years, Ontario has had a government that’s at least has claimed to have been committed to transit and has gotten the province back in the game. Given Burlington Transit has just managed to kept the lights on under this regime it begs the question: How bad will it get for transit with a Provincial administration that doesn’t have this commitment to Transit? How bad will it get for transit if we have a provincial government that denies the validity of climate change science?

How bad will it get for transit with provincial leadership hopefuls who think of transit as the enemy of drivers? Given the city of Burlington’s track record on transit, and the potential of a conservative provincial government, I suspect that the light seen from the new city manager and new transit management at the city of Burlington is that of an oncoming freight train; no passengers allowed.

jamessmith(James is an award winning Contract Designer, Past member of BFAST, Co-author of the 2014 Western GTA Move Taskforce Report, and Former President of Friends of Freeman Station. James Smith and his wife were 27 year residents of Burlington and now make their home in Guelph.) Smith ran in the 2014 municipal election against Paul Sharman

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Is anyone listening to anyone else?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 9, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“Why don’t you write about what the developers have to say on the growth that is taking place in this city” said a usually reliable source within the corporations that do the building and take the financial risks.

We responded with: The developers tend to be media shy, they don’t think they are going to get a break and their skill set usually doesn’t include much in the way of media savvy.

They build, they know what the rules of the development game are; they understand, in a way that few citizens do, just what the requirements are from the province, the region and the city planning department.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro b

The height for a future tower went from 22 to 17 then to 15 and then back to 17 at a Committee meeting. It will get settled at the April 4th council meeting when the Planning department hopes to get the Official Plan they have written approved.

There is a property in the downtown core that had a 22 storey height designation, then in a single meeting it went down to 17 because a member of council had said he would clip the height in that part of the city because he had gone along with more height than many expected in another part of the city.

At the same meeting another member of council wanted to clip an additional two storeys off the building.

Developers wonder why they get treated this way.

Our source said the development community can’t have a balanced conversation with groups that don’t want to accept the fact that the city has been told its population must grow.

The developers don’t make the rules. Yes, they do look for ways around the rules – isn’t that what everyone does? When you are filing your tax return – don’t you take advantage of every deduction possible? If you got caught driving too fast and find yourself in a court room – do you not look for a lawyer who can ‘get you off’?

The difficulty the development community has is they haven’t managed to create an image of what they do?

Are they just out there to make a killing financially? Some are.

Are they there to create great communities? Is that there role in society? What do we expect of developers and is our expectation realistic?

Nick Carnacelli

Nick Carnacelli of Carriage Gate

Listen to Nick Carnacelli of Carriage Gate and ask him how he felt when he walked across the street to city hall with a cheque for more than $3 million and at that point he had nothing on the way pf permissions to build anything.

To Grow Bold all the players have to collaborate. That means the politicians have to play their part which isn’t to represent the interests of the developers but to represent the interests of their constituents – the people that elected them.

Those politicians have to hold the Planning department accountable and be prepared to send them back to their desks and re-think the recommendations they are sending the politicians.

Citizens have to inform themselves – understand what is happening and to hold the men and women they elect accountable.

The Planners have to up their game. The Mayor has said every opportunity he gets that the city has run out of space for the traditional single family dwelling with a back yard big enough for a swimming pool. We’ve know this for some time.

Has the city Planning department been grown to the point where it can handle and cope with the need to now deal with high rise developments?  The rate at which development applications are being submitted is swamping the department.

Has the city done any polling to find out just what the people of the city think and feel about growth and where it should take place. If they ever do, or have done, any polling let us hope that they bring in outside third party pollsters and not rely on their in-house questionnaires that don’t reach all that much in the way of population.

The city is at a very critical point in its growth.

The development community has to be more open – it needs to get its story out and defend what they are doing.

There is the chance to get it right – but only if all the players are at the table and only if the level of transparency is higher than it has been so far.

Troubling times ahead, cloudy skies with a silver lining in there somewhere.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Gazette publisher.

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If you can't change the culture and you can’t change the behaviour then the only real option is to change the players. City manager and the Mayor are the lead players.

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

March 8, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Admittedly I’m not a big fan of the City Manager’s style, but James Ridge isn’t the only problem or the biggest one.

Continuity and consistency is the hallmark of a good organization. If the City of Burlington were a publicly corporation, and that corporation had gone through four CEO’s in six years, someone on the Board of Directors would be asking the inevitable question: why?

 

City manager Jeff Fielding: About to put his stamp on the way the city has to be run.

Jeff Fielding got an offer he couldn’t refuse – Calgary; the city with one of the smartest Mayor’s in the country.

Roman Martiukformer Burlington City Manager, was often described as someone who thought he was the smartest man in the room - quite often he was and many people couldn't deal with that.

Roman Martiuk a former Burlington City Manager was given a one way ticket out of town.

Patrick Moyle

Pat Moyle came to town to do a job, got it done and went south – it was getting cold.

Turnover is usually indicative of a much broader problem. That, in itself, presupposes an investigation, and truthfully, that is best conducted by a neutral third party who, ideally, would probe for reasons, issues, concerns as well as solutions.

Based on what I have seen a big part of the problem at City Hall comes down to a lack of alignment, a lack of genuine engagement, and a dysfunctional corporate culture. You have a Mayor and a City Manager who, frankly, have a vision that does not strongly resonate with many citizens. Public trust is seriously lacking.

You have a Council with a very broad array of personalities and personal agendas, many of whom have been on Council way too long, are seriously disconnected from mainstream opinion, and often appear to be mouthpieces for special interest groups.

You have a Planning Department spearheading a major initiative that, to put it kindly, has gone seriously awry.

Grow bold - front doorFinally, you have an electorate that is growing increasingly militant and is uncomfortable with not just the vision ( OP, intensification, Mobility Hubs) but with a perceived lack of receptivity and understanding from both elected and appointed officials.

This is not a good dynamic, and it does not bode favourably for those at City Hall. If you can’t change the culture and you can’t change the behaviour then the only real option is to change the players. Since the Mayor and the City Manager set the tone for the organization that’s usually the place to start.

Stephen White is a Human Resources specialist with experience in the finance sector – banking and the civil service – provincial. He is a resident of Burlington.

 

 

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''I will tell you an interesting story'' wrote a reader.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Got another note from another Gazette reader.

“I will tell you an interesting story” he said. “I was on my way into a conference yesterday in the Big Smoke. Went in by GO Train with a colleague who also lives in Burlington. We got into a discussion about the municipal election. This person isn’t particularly political, but what surprised me was how incredibly knowledgeable she was on the election, how well-versed she was about downtown redevelopment, and how passionate she felt about what was happening to the downtown.

City Clock angle looking north on Brant

The Burlington that people like – at least that is what the Gazette is hearing.

“As we travelled between Mimico and the CNE Station we were both aghast at the proliferation of high rises condos. All had the same look, feel and style as what is proposed for downtown Burlington. What stood out for both of us was when we saw a mid-sized building and how unique these seemed. They also seemed to fit into the character of the neighbourhood much better.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro rendering a

A development idea for the south end of Brant at Lakeshore. Those two towers on the left would be opposite city hall.

“Coming home I picked up my car at a GO station and drove past Speers and Kerr Street area on Oakville. I grew up about a mile away from this location. The new condos across from the mall south of the railway tracks look overwhelming. I was astounded by how they dwarfed everything around them. Then I looked at the lower level of the complex. Two proposed businesses are both hairdressing salons…in the same complex no less. Bizarre. Didn’t see a grocery store, or a mom and pop store, anywhere.”

Our reader didn’t seem too happy with what was being developed. Change is never easy to accept.

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Improved transit service will require a political commitment for increased funding.

opinionandcommentBy Doug Brown

March 7th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The transit survey is not a bad idea – but is a very minor item when so much more is needed.

I believe that the City Manager and new Transit Director are committed to improving transit. However, this will require a political commitment for increased long-term transit funding. Will this be possible given that our council that has consistently cut transit and the City now spends less than one half of the GTA per capita average on transit?

doug-brown-with-buses

Doug Brown, a relentless advocate for better transit funding is never happier than when he sees a bus – two buses produces a smile.

The analysis that James Ridge, Sue Connor and Colm Lynn presented to Council on September 7, 2017 made a very compelling case for immediate money to bring the transit system up to labour standards and provide better safety and reliability. For the first time in recent years, this council listened and approved the emergency funding.

During his September 7 presentation to council, the City Manager made clear that the emergency funding would still leave Burlington with “a crappy system” i.e. with low service levels and long wait times – but at least it would run on time and within provincial labour standards.

So what is really needed now is a comprehensive transportation study that will look at all aspects of transportation, roads, cars, transit, walking, cycling, parking, and development. This study should develop alternative options and evaluate the alternatives against economic, social and environmental criteria. Unfortunately, this is not happening as plans for transit, roads, parking, and cycling continue to be developed separately.

The City must begin to look at the cost of transit with regard to all the benefits that a robust transit system would provide – i.e. large savings in road and parking expenditures; improved air quality; improved road safety; improved social accessibility and equity; and savings in private automobile costs.

The economic benefits of transit have been documented in a number of Canadian studies. A national study of the economic benefits of transit concluded that municipalities could make no better investment than in transit with “a rate of return of at least 12% if not more.” A recent study in Hamilton showed significant economic benefits from transit investments, while in Waterloo Region, their transportation plan determined that a transit-oriented scenario would provide more economic, social, and environmental benefits than the car-oriented scenario.

The financial case for better transit has been clearly demonstrated. The question is not whether we can afford better transit, but whether we can afford not to invest more in transit.

Will “Canada’s Best Mid-Sized City” continue to have a “crappy” transit system or will we build a good transit system to provide accessibility for all our citizens, and make the City truly a liveable, walkable, community.

Doug Brown has been a transit advocate for decades and is a founding member of Bfast: Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit

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Rivers: Health care in Ontario - is it meeting the needs? Would a different government make it better?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Keeping ourselves healthy is important. Part of that involves getting well again should we get sick. Enter single payer health insurance – the only efficient way to deliver health care. John Robarts gave us OHIP back in the late sixties with a little help from the federal government. Then Bill Davis added a senior’s drug plan in 1972.

ohipplusLast year the Kathleen Wynne government introduced OHIP+, a pharmacare program to ensure that no child got left behind because of affordability. And that perhaps prompted the federal Liberals to decide the time was right for a national universal plan. In any case it was an obvious choice for Mr. Trudeau to ask Ontario’s health minister, Eric Hoskins, to head up a consultative process with the provinces, territories, health experts and communities on how best to proceed.

Canadians have one of the better health care systems anywhere, and it will only get better with the addition of a single payer drug plan. Oh sure Americans like to talk about our waiting lists for elective surgery, but at least all residents here have access to care. And if we were to double our health budget, the equivalent of what Americans pay per capita, those waiting lines would be a lot shorter. But most importantly, we sail past the US when it comes to health outcomes. We have lower infant mortality, are generally healthier and we outlive them.

Coal fired generating plant - Nanticoke

The last coal fired generating plant in Ontario

The Liberal government in Ontario started to phase out dirty coal electricity plants soon after coming to power in the early 2000s. Between 2006 and 2015 smog-causing nitrogen dioxide emissions dropped by 32 per cent, sulphur dioxide by 48 per cent, carbon monoxide by 53 per cent, and fine particulate matter by 25 per cent. Despite population growth and an increase in the number of motor vehicles on Ontario’s roadways, the air above our cities, like Toronto, is cleaner than we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

According to the Ministry of Environment…“There were no smog advisories issued in 2015, compared with 2005 when there were 53 smog days. Based on the Air Quality Health Index, the province’s air quality was rated in the low risk category for 90 per cent of the year in 2015.”

And Ontario’s carbon ‘cap-and-trade’ system, which started last year, will continue to deliver that kind of good news.

The province estimates that improved air quality is saving over $4 billion annually in health care costs. But then the provincial auditor general estimates that moving to green energy has cost almost forty billion over the past decade or so. That would be a wash – except that these are all mostly hypothetical numbers, the kind accountants and economists like to fiddle with as they make their political arguments. What matters most is whether our quality of life has improved and whether we can afford this improvement in air quality in the face of increases we’ve seen in the cost of hydro.

smoking - public place

Smoking in public is getting harder and harder to do – unfortunately it is the younger people taking up the habit.

The Liberal government also fought an uphill battle banning smoking in public places and restricting toxic lawn pesticides. We all understand the health benefits of not smoking, though pesticides are less well understood when it comes to their relationship to diseases like asthma and cancer. But a recent Conference Board report recognizes Ontario with the lowest rate of respiratory mortality in Canada, despite having the most concentrated population.

OHIP+ is estimated to cost roughly half a billion dollars a year. And the province claims to be running a balanced budget even without the kind of without additional federal finding we might expect coming out of the new federal initiative. The provincial NDP have yet to release their election platform though Andrea Horwath, supportive of OHIP+, has mused about implementing a universal program.

None of the PC leadership contenders have committed to continuing the OHIP+ program, let alone any expansion of it. The platform passed by the party last November does speak to continuation of the Liberal initiated program, but the candidates have been careful to avoid adopting a platform which also contains plans for a $4 billion dollar carbon tax.

That is troubling on a number of fronts, particularly since at least a couple of the candidates have talked about also killing the cap-and-trade program which reduces other air borne pollutants associated with the combustion of fossil fuels in addition to CO2. In fact the preoccupation of the these candidates is with the conflicting goals of tax cuts and debt reduction.

Cookie_jar_overturn

The current cap and trade CO2 emissions program pumps tens of millions into the provincial economy. If cancelled where would funds for health care come from?

And that means that money will need to be found elsewhere to satisfy these goals, most likely in the most expensive part of the budget – health care. There already was a financial hole in the Patrick Brown platform – right smack dab in health care. So it would not be unrealistic to expect Ontario to opt out of any national universal pharmacare program should the PC’s win the election later this year, and maybe even shelve OHIP+.

It’s politics too, as we witnessed by the confrontational attitudes permeating the last PC candidates debate. Why would a Tory government in Ontario agree to anything a Liberal federal government wants to do. Even if, in the case of a carbon tax, the money stays in the province. In Brown’s platform the money would have been returned in lower income tax rates for the middle classes – revenue neutral.

we

The Harris government took millions and millions out of education and health care – it took decades to restore those services.

We have seen this movie before. It was the late ‘90s and Ontario took Mike Harris at his word, having come to office with a promise not to touch health care, and then desperately looking at the health budget to pay for his income tax cuts. He closed hospitals, fired nurses, and threw the entire system into chaos.

Ontario moved to the back of the line in health care, owning the longest surgery wait times in Canada. Gurneys stacked up in hospital corridors as we watched our loved ones suffer in despair. Heart patients were literally dying waiting for surgery and cancer patients had to be bused to Buffalo for radiation treatment. Let us never go back to those days.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly 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:

OHIP+

Health Report Card –    Canada’s Rank –    Cost Effective Care

OHIP+ Details –    Hoskins –    Ontario’s Plans –    Conference Board

Ontario Climate Change –    Canada vs USA –   OHIP+

Ontario’s Cap and Trade

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Mayor Goldring uses the Spectator to tell Burlingtonians his take on the new Official Plan. Does not publish the opinion on his blog.

opinionandcommentBy Staff

March 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In an opinion piece published in the Saturday Hamilton Spectator, Mayor Rick Goldring said:

“The City of Burlington has had many Official Plans, but none have received as much attention as our current draft Plan that council is set to adopt in April.”

The Spectator has very limited circulation in Burlington. The Mayor has yet to post the opinion to his blog

The opinion piece set out below:

Flood Goldring with chain of office

Mayor Goldring speaking to media during the 2014 flood. It was the first time we saw the Mayor wear his Chain of Office outside the Council Chamber,

“City building is constantly evolving, and we all want our city to grow thoughtfully and carefully” said the Mayor who went on to say that “ City Council is no different.”

“As mayor, I certainly want what is best for the entire community. I hear from residents that they want a more vibrant downtown and are supportive of the protection of our rural lands and those who are concerned about the future of our city.

421 Brant

The high rise was approved by city council on a 5-2 with the Mayor and Councillor Meed Ward voting against the project.

“This was most apparent when late last year City Council approved a 23-storey building across from City Hall at 421 Brant St. I voted against this development for three reasons; it is the wrong location for a 23-storey building, where the adjacent roads are narrow, this approval would lead to similar requests for similar height, and from a policy perspective, this was inconsistent with the proposed 17-storey limit identified in the City’s earlier draft Downtown Precinct Plan.

“While residents are trying to digest this decision, we were recently informed of the decision by the Ontario Municipal Board to approve the ADI development at Lakeshore Road and Martha Street. The board sided with the proponent on a proposed 26-storey high-rise plan. Again, in my opinion, this is the wrong location for the height of the building, and I am very disappointed that the OMB did not prefer a height that was comparable or lower to those in this area.

“It is more important than ever that we approve our new Official Plan. The city’s current Official Plan is out of date and doesn’t conform to provincial policy which is one of the significant reasons why the OMB did not agree with the city’s opposition to ADI’s 26-storey proposal. Clearly, our current Official Plan is unacceptable in planning for an Urban Growth Centre.

Rendering with Bake Shop

409 Brant is on the south side of James street – across from city hall. They have tucked two “historical” properties on the south end – next to what will become the Downtown mobility hub to give the application some credibility.

“With two tall buildings recently approved in the downtown, I understand why residents feel anxious about what is going to happen in the future. I disagree with the decisions to allow the 23 and 26-storey downtown buildings. However, I am supportive of well-planned and justified intensification in appropriately targeted areas of our city.

“Burlington is not an island unto itself. We are part of the Greater Hamilton Toronto Area that currently has 7 million people and will grow to 10 million within 23 years primarily because 40 to 50 per cent of newcomers to Canada want to live in this area. We must accommodate our share of growth.

“We also need to be realistic and acknowledge that Burlington is a highly desirable place to live with an amazing waterfront and rural areas that includes the Niagara Escarpment, great neighbourhoods, wonderful festivals and events that contribute to the creation of an inclusive and caring community. In addition, interest rates are low, undeveloped land supply is depleted, and single family house prices are high. This has made condominium apartments an attractive housing form to all demographics for different reasons.

“It is simply not true that we will have tall buildings at every corner of our downtown. It would be wonderful to protect our downtown and limit growth to exclusively low-rise buildings, but this approach is simply not realistic. By only allowing low-rise buildings, we are making downtown very exclusive to those that have significant wealth.”

“After listening and considering input from residents, Burlington City council made many important amendments to the proposed new Official Plan. We reduced permitted heights and increased building separations, and heritage building preservation is addressed.

“Once the high-level vision of our new Official Plan is approved, we can get to work completing the details to be included in area specific plans. City staff is currently working on new transportation, transit, cycling and parking plans. We will dramatically improve our transit system to provide reliable and frequent service along our key areas, including our GO stations.

Goldring - Christmas picture

The photograph was provided by the Office of the Mayor – it was used for his 2015 Christmas card.

“I am confident that Burlington will successfully evolve to meet our growing population and economic needs. We will be champions for great design and continue to give careful attention to all the important city building details that have made Burlington the city we are so proud of. We need to plan for our children and grandchildren so that Burlington is an inclusive, environmentally and fiscally sustainable city for generations to come.”

 

 

 

Related articles:
Meed Ward on why the draft Official Plan needs more time before it is approved.
Jack Dennison on why he is going to vote for the draft – with some changes.

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Meed Ward sets out her position on the draft Official Plan that is being debated at city hall. Dennison is the only other Councillor to make public comments.

opinionandcommentBy Marianne Meed Ward
Councillor Ward 2
March 4th, 2018
BURLINGTON, ON

 

At Planning and Development Committee (P&D) I brought two motions, both lost: one to add the downtown and GO station mobility hubs to innovation districts (currently there is only one innovation district in the OP – the DeGroote School of Business); the second to conduct character area studies for the St. Luke’s and Emerald precincts, as requested by delegates to the P&D meeting. I will be asking for recorded votes on both these items at the March 19 council meeting, and encourage residents to come and speak to them.

St Likes-Emerald precinct

The St Luke’s and the Emerald precincts – on either sode of Brant street are solid residential neighbourhoods consisting of single detached homes with good set backs.

At P&D I also asked for additional information on Clause 8.3.3(1)(b) which will permit townhouses and walk-up apartments in all residential low-density single family neighbourhoods. This in spite of the assurances that growth will not be directed to stable neighbourhoods. If that clause stays in, every neighbourhood in the city is affected.

We will be getting additional information on this clause in advance of the March 19 Council meeting, and I will be preparing to bring a motion to strike that clause from the plan.

Any changes made at the March 19 Council meeting, will be included in the final version of the Official Plan when it comes to Committee April 4 and Council April 23 for final adoption. Residents can attend and register to speak at all three meetings (March 19 council, April 4 committee and April 23 council).

Mobility hubs

It’s worth noting that the three GO station Mobility Hubs are not ready for inclusion in this Plan – yet they will dramatically impact growth in the city: bringing 27,200 people to the Aldershot GO, 22,000 residents to the Burlington GO, and 20,000 residents to the Appleby GO stations. These areas have been under study much longer than the downtown.

werv

Pete Ward recording his wife Marianne filing her nomination papers for the 2014 election. The city clerk advised the Gazette that we were not permitted to take “political” pictures in city hall during an election period.

So why the rush for adoption of the downtown plan? Why adopt an incomplete Plan where major growth areas aren’t included? In addition, delegates to Committee expressed concern that the plan for the GO stations and downtown are just about building buildings, not about building all the community services these new residents need, for example community centres and parks. In response, the city manager suggested that weekly meetings with developers will address that.

For these and other reasons, I don’t support this Official Plan and will continue to work for changes.

Meed Ward made the following comments at the February 28th P&D Committee meeting. Motions approved at the P&D meeting go to a City Council on Monday March 19th.

“I don’t think this Plan is the best we can do for the best mid-sized city in Canada. It’s not visionary. Members of our community, DeeDee Davies in particular, but many others, are challenging us to build community; what we’re looking at in this Plan is building vertical sprawl, and the community hasn’t even weighed in on the Mobility Hubs which will have even more height and density. I suspect that there will be a similar conversation when those three plans come forward as we have had for the downtown.

“Meetings with developers are not going to deliver us the community services and amenities we need in all of those areas including parkland to truly build communities and not just build buildings.

“I am not persuaded at all that adopting this plan in April is going to save us from OMB or Local Planning Appeal Tribunal appeals, and the reason for that is the Adi decision. That decision was argued almost entirely on the basis of what the new LPAT rules are. The new rules require you to conform to provincial policy, and the entire ruling essentially said that the 26-storey building conformed and therefore it was okay.

“That was a wake-up call, that the LPAT is not going to save us and I don’t think us adopting 17 storeys in the downtown core is going to hold at 17 storeys, given that decision.

“The other wake-up call with the OMB ruling was that even though alternative heights were offered – the city offered 11 storeys, another party to the hearings offered 16 – the vice-chair said there was no planning justification for those heights. There was nothing to justify why those were better than 26. And so, in the absence of justification for those heights, she went with 26 because the applicants made a case for it.

“And when I hear delegates coming in front of us saying there’s no planning justification reports of the type that you would see at a hearing that would justify why now all of a sudden we jump to 12 or 11 or 21 or 17 storeys, we are going to be in exactly that same position at LPAT as we were with Adi.

Ward 2 Councillor MArianne Meed Ward made her presence known to Council well before her election to office, the city knew what they were getting and she has delivered on that promise.

Marianne Meed Ward made her presence known to Council as a consistent and persistent delegator. The ward 2 residents knew what they were getting when they first elected her in 2010.

“The studies that have been done for the downtown were not planning justification reports that would justify those heights and densities.

“So I am not persuaded that adopting this plan will protect us from appeals, and that we will win those appeals at the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

“I think we need to slow this process down and get all of our studies in place because those will provide the justification that we need to defend this plan. And until we get those, we’ll not be able to do it.”

Related article:

Councillor Dennison tells why he believes the city needs the draft official plan.

 

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Burlington BEST nominations extended one week - Jim Young, Deedee Davies and Gary Scobie deserve to be nominated.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Staff

March 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This seems to happen every year – the date for submitting nominations for Burlington’s BEST gets extended.
We never know if there haven’t been enough in the way of nominations or if people need more time to get the paper work done.

If more time is needed – be in touch with the Clerk – she is very good at helping people get all the documentation in place.

If you haven’t thought about who you would want to nominate – look no further that the people who delegated at city council for a slow down on the rate at which the city is proceeding with adoption of th draft Official Plan.

The delegations done by Jim Young, Deedee Davies and Gary Scobie are amongst some of the best we have heard.  These people don’t have an axe to grind – they are informed and speak intelligently and with passion about the city they live in and care about.

The are the E in the word engagement.

They understand that what happens to the downtown core impacts everyone.

2017 Best winners

The 2017 Burlington BEST

The city announced that those wishing to nominate a fellow resident for a Burlington’s Best Award can now do so until Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The original deadline has been extended by seven days.

There are eight award categories:

Citizen of the year
A person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the Burlington community in 2017.

Junior Citizen of the year
A high school student, 18 years or younger who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community in 2017.

Senior Person of the year
A person, 55 years or older, who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community and advocated on behalf of seniors in 2017.

Environmental Award
An individual or group that improved and/or protects Burlington’s environment in 2017.

Arts Person of the Year
An individual who has contributed to the arts in Burlington as an artist, patron or advocate including but not limited to, visual arts, media arts, musical arts, performing arts and literary arts in 2017.

Community Service Award
An individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community in 2017.

Heritage Award
An individual or group who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered their time in an effort to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage in 2017.

Accessibility Award
An individual, organization or business that has made significant contributions to increase access and participation of people with disabilities in the Burlington Community in 2017.

Jim Young for Senior; Deedee Davies for Citizen and Gary Scobie for Community service.  Just an opinion.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by the Publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

 

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Rivers suggests there is a pot calling the kettle black on the matter of corruption at the Tory debate for a new leader.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Rivers suggests there is a pot calling the kettle black on the matter of corruption at the Tory debate for a new leader.

The candidates for the Ontario PC party called the Wynne government corrupt at their first debate and again at the last one this week. When they accused the Liberals of corruption they offered only innuendo to substantiate to those accusations for a Liberal party which has been in power now for a decade and a half.

Tanya Granic Allen

Tanya Granic Allen – best debater but needs more than one issue.

And then Tanya Granic Allen, gave the term real substance as she turned on her own political party, citing why both the PC party and its former leader Patrick Brown were corrupt. Doug Ford raised his concern that there might have been ballot stuffing at one of the nomination meetings he’d attended. And if faking memberships and financial wrong doing is what Patrick Brown had been doing for personal gain or to win the PC leadership, that too would certainly qualify as corruption.

Allen went further, accusing each of the other candidates of doing nothing to stop Brown – alluding complicity, turning the other way, and letting him get away with it. And then she wondered where they had been when Brown had developed a platform, at least some of which they have all rejected a mere three months following its formal acceptance by her party. And where was she?

There was something surreal about this exhibition as the candidates responded to the debate questions emanating from the party membership. For example, everyone complained about the size of the provincial debt, even though they are all planning to run sizeable deficits for at least their first couple of years. And none of them seemed to understand that the province had already balanced its budget, at least as far as official accounts go.

Green house gasses A

All four candidates would dump the mandated national carbon tax and take the federal government to court.

They argued to a person that they’d defy the mandated national carbon tax and would take the federal government to court, as only Saskatchewan has suggested among all other jurisdictions. They all agreed that our climate was changing but nobody had a serious plan to do anything about it. And Ford was vehement that he’d scrap Ontario’s existing cap and trade system which the Trudeau government has accepted as an alternative to a carbon tax.

Allen complained about the high cost of electricity, laying the blame entirely on renewable energy and promising to “rip wind turbines out of the ground” and tear up the green energy contracts. She said she’d read a Fraser Institute report which had convinced her she could do this without encountering any legal or financial recourse. That naive notion was challenged by Christine Elliott, a lawyer by training and former MPP, pointing out that such an action would end up costing even more.

Elliott PC

Christine Elliott, a lawyer by training and former MPP.

A question about the possibility of combining Ontario’s public and separate school systems was met with a big a big negatory (neg-a-Tory) response by everyone by everyone. And Elliott then embarrassed herself by making an unfortunate reference to former leader John Tory’s election loss – which has been attributed to an election promise to fund more, not fewer, separate schools.

Caroline Mulroney - arms crossed

Caroline Mulroney – faltering?

Caroline Mulroney was the lone voice opposed to scrapping the three year old sex-ed curriculum. Mulroney is running third and that is probably where she deserves to be. She may be polished, poised, well spoken, and have a political name, but she suffers from an obvious lack of familiarity with the province and Ontario’s bread and butter issues. She mostly rattled off theory and platitudes, or quoted from the PC platform which the other candidates have largely discarded.

Doug Ford was pointed and cogent for the most part. He made an oblique appeal to the male crowd by claiming that ‘# me too’ was as important for men as for women. But he looked flustered and grumbled when the moderator had to cut him off for taking too long to make his closing remarks.

Ford Doug

Ford made big points taking on Elliott

Ford made big points taking on Elliott about what he saw as her flip-flopping on sex ed and carbon taxes, though she refuted both. And he stuck it to her about working for the Liberal government as its $220,000 per year patient ombudsman. She swung back that she’d been hired by an independent panel, but nobody was buying that smoke. Elliott was a much more confident candidate this debate than before and she should be since she is now roughly tied with Doug Ford for first place.

Watching Tanya Granic Allen was an uplifting experience. She communicates better than all of the other candidates put together – but it is what comes out of her mouth. But then she is really just a fringe one-issue candidate, and fittingly trailing the others in recent polls.

Voting for members starts this Friday and the results of the preferential ballot will be known March 10. Preferential (ranked) ballots can be unpredictable since in a tight race so much depends on second and third choices And nobody knows who’ll receive the votes which might have otherwise gone to Patrick Brown, should his folks vote at all. If the numbers can be believed, there are over a hundred thousand new members which he brought into the party.

Patrick Brown resigning

With supposedly more vote than anyone else in the leadership race but no longer a candidate – the big question is – where are those votes going to go?

But if those Brown supporters do vote, you can be sure it won’t be for Tanya Granic Allen. Her aspersions of party corruption have smeared them as well as their former leader. Brown was not at the debate to defend himself, having dropped out of the race only a couple days earlier.

But, as was obvious to the viewers, the ghost of Patrick Brown was alive and well and he was certainly there, if only in spirit. Even in absentia he was forced to absorb the slings and arrows of this 11th hour coup by his ambitious competitors for the job of party leader. And the repeated references to his presumed wrong doings helped to remind voters about that old adage of pots and kettles. For a party, once known for the professionalism of its Big Blue Machine, this debate was a shameful exhibition of political naivety and cannibalism.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly 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:

PC Leader’s Debate –   PC Leaders Polling –    Reality or Fiction

Mulroney Walks Away –    Brown is Better Off

 

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Is immigration the answer: '300,000 new immigrants and half of them are coming to southern Ontario'.

opinionandcommentBy Joseph A. Gaetan

March 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

The opinion set out below is one of a series of opinions given to city council during the debate on the status of the draft Official plan.  Links to the other opinions are set out at the bottom of this opinion.

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mayor, Councilors, staff, fellow citizens, I would like to base my comment today on some of the reasons that were given by council prior to their votes on the Official Plan changes, that took place during the council meeting of January 29 ,2018. As a matter of context, I appeared before you on the matter of the Official Plan on January 23.2018.

I then attended the council meeting of January 29, 2018. What I heard on January 29th was a mixture of rationalizations, opinions, historical anecdotes, and some data. For the record, I do not live in downtown Burlington.

The first comment has to do with Immigration and the statement that, “The federal government is letting in 300,000 new immigrants and half of them are coming to southern Ontario”.

Syrians arriving in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcoming Syrians to Canada

Population Growth is something our country desperately needs, and immigration is one component of Population Growth. The Stats Canada formula for Population Growth = (natural increase where NI =births-deaths) + (migratory increase where MI =immigration-emigration).

Immigration is not news, according to Statistic Canada our normal immigration since the 90’s has been in the order of 235,000 per year. The Canadian immigration plan going forward sees that going as high as 340,000 by 2020. Compare that to the fact that in 1913, 400,000 immigrants came to Canada at a time when our population was a mere 7 million.

So, while immigration is important to us as a country, Stats Canada states the “observed” growth from 2001 to 2011 was 1.11%, with the “projected” growth for 2011 to 2021 to be in the area of 1.07 %, dropping thereafter to .72% by 2061. That is a serious problem.

Gaeten stats chartWhy? If we compare those projections to the period between 1951 to 1961, population growth during that decade was far greater at 2.67 %, where natural growth was 1.87% and migratory growth was .79%. So, while we seem to be experiencing population growth in this area, the reasons for that have little to do with immigration alone.

The real problem this country and this province will face as we approach 2061 is that the natural increase (births minus deaths) component of population growth will drop to .42 % with the migratory component dropping to .64%. So, Canada is struggling to replace itself and I think we are pinning a lot of hope on a balloon that may burst and that would have dire consequences for Canada, Ontario and Burlington. With that in mind I would like to suggest we take a more conservative approach to our OP and our downtown which includes taking a step back for a few months.

The second comment was “we need assessment now”. The member did not elaborate on what that entailed. Did that mean Burlington will struggle going forward to contain tax increases? Or, did that mean that units that sell at $2 million each, is an easier way to meet our future assessment/spending needs? An answer to that question would be helpful.

John - No frills - laneway

No-frills” is more than a grocery store, it is a meeting place, it is a place where locals meet and chat and laugh in the aisles.

Here is what I do know, both the developers and city win under a scenario where 20 plus storeys developments are built and where penthouse floors sell for between $4 and $8 million per storey. But who and what we lose is the question that is not answered under the OP. For example, under this plan, do we stand to lose the “no frills” grocery store, or Centro for example? No-frills” is more than a grocery store, it is a meeting place, it is a place where locals meet and chat and laugh in the aisles, it has energy and vitality, something that you will not find in the two other grocery stores that people will be forced to shop at if it disappears and no words contained in the OP, such as there will be a grocery presence, will replace what is lost.

The third comment was, “downtown has to take its share too”. The downtown in recent years has shouldered its share of density and when asked the downtown residents and opponents of the OP seem willing to continue take its fair share of growth. Perhaps what is at issue then, is the definition of “its share”? It seems that what that means under the proposed OP, is we will have 23 and 24 storey buildings across from city hall and 17 storey buildings sprinkled elsewhere.

I don’t live in the downtown, but I do believe the pushback you are getting is genuine, grassroots and is not about to go away anytime soon, and not because people are angry, but because the stakes are too high to be ignored.

What I also heard was this plan means “100-170 people will be coming into the downtown on annual basis”. I don’t believe the increase in population growth is the issue, the change in height permissions and the number of tall building is the issue.

I would like to finish with a statement that we can all agree upon and that is “we have to make this decision based on 195,000”. I am here as one of the 195,000 and I would like to see the OP delayed in order to remove the Mobility Hub designation and what that means to the future of Burlington. Finally I heard “deferring challenging and contentious issue is not leadership” and that may be the case, but leadership is also having the willingness to taking a second look at an issue and then having the fortitude to change your mind.

Joseph Gaetan is a retired Burlington resident who lives in the highest condominoum in the city.  He comments in the Gazette frequently.

Related comment and opinion:

Opinion: Jim Young
Opinion: Gary Scobie
Opinion: Lisa Kearns
Opinion Deedee Davies
Opinion:  Jim Barnes

 

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Deedee Davies: my perception is that you have lost control of our downtown on us.

opinionandcommentBy Deedee Davies

February 27th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

This is one of a series on delegations that were made at a Statutory public meeting on the draft Official Plan now being prepared by staff and debated at council.

Thank you for this opportunity to stand before you and share my thoughts on the latest version of the Plan.

I was not going to come. After you approved the application for 421-431 Brant St at James I was disillusioned by the Planning staff and most of my elected officials. When the 24 storey application arrived a few weeks ago for the other corner I experienced an ‘I told you so moment”. And then when OMB approved the Adi development at Martha and Lakeshore, in part because the city was not averse to height, I threw up my hands in despair – as my perception is that you have lost control of our downtown on us.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

Deedee Davies at a Waterfront Hotel redevelopment meeting with Linda Davies, (no relative on the right) and Councillor John Taylor.

So why am I here? This is YOUR last chance to get it right. If you screw up this opportunity, there is no going back. Downtown will be ruined FOREVER. I am here because I want to tell you what’s missing from the Plan to protect the downtown Burlington I use and love. I know we have to intensify.

However, I feel this Plan is not going to give us what we need. I will lay out my reasons for this concern. I’m hoping my speaking here can lead to improvements. My views are shared by so many other people who are not speaking here tonight. Please don’t let me and them down.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The Ontario Municipal Board made the 26 storey Nautique the new standard for the developers.

I am not going to go on about the heights in the various precincts. I believe they are all much too generous. It will destroy the feel of our downtown, and they are unnecessary for us to meet any of our targets. I’ve said it all before so I am not going to repeat it tonight.

First off, I want to tell you that I read the entire new draft OP. Yes from cover to cover.

Rahoon Perian Eatery in the Village Square won for the Best Overall Display for 2011.

Someone somewhere said that a high rise would be dripped into the middle of Village Square – that got squashed during the council/staff meeting on Wednesday. However, there was a time when the ADI group tried to buy the Village Square from the XX interest. They weren’t able to put a deal together.

I would like to thank you for removing the tower from the centre of Village Square and also for removing the Cannery designation from the NE corner of Brant and Lakeshore.

Chapter 1 talks about the desire to achieve a complete community. This is what I want to focus on tonight. These would include all the amenities needed for residents in the downtown to live, work, and play here. It includes parks, recreational facilities, offices, medical services, daycare, seniors gathering areas, youth gathering areas, and a mix of housing, etc. After reading the entire document, and in particular Chapter 3 on Complete Communities, and then comparing it to the buildings that are coming into our downtown, I don’t see how the two can be reconciled.

If the future means everyone living in towers, how can we replicate the living experiences of what people currently enjoy in neighbourhoods? We need developers in Burlington to include amenity spaces for basketball courts, tennis courts, road hockey rooms, just like they are doing in Toronto, in the latest towers being built there. They also need to build community garden spaces on the sunny side patios or roofs so residents can grow their own vegetables. We need some creativity about what we are expecting from the developers. We know we are going to get the “smooth jazz” pool, bar, and lounge that every developer includes for their hipster clientele. Challenge them to Grow Bold in their design. I spent 35 years in the Federal Government dealing with contractors. I know the games they play. They bargain hard for what they were going to give you anyway, just so you feel like you won something, when in fact you lost, because you gave away more than what you would have got if you hadn’t blinked first.

In Chapter 2 under Population and Employment Distribution, Table 1 shows a population in 2031 of 193,000 of which we are not far off. It also shows an employment target of 106,000 for which we are further off. Why are we focusing so much on residential instead of putting in place policies that will attract employment to our downtown? For a Complete Community, how can we get the Daycare centres, the hardware stores, grocery stores, entertainment venues, that we will need to satisfy the activities of the residents? How can we tailor our specifications so that developers will include these spaces in the towers they propose building? Currently, we are lucky to get one floor of office. The condos will come without trying as they are cheap to build.

As an example in the Chapter 3 Policies you only state you will examine opportunities for partnerships to increase the supply of affordable housing. Why not include a standard of one unit for each additional floor of height granted above what the current zoning is that must be provided to the Region as part of the Community Benefits – similar to what you included for public parking and office space.

Also in Chapter 3 Parks and Open Spaces are addressed. It even states an objective of ensuring an adequate and equitable supply are available throughout the city. And yet Lions Park is showing a designation of half St Luke’s/Emerald Neighbourhood Precinct and half Downtown Core Precinct. That would mean that the neighbourhood could lose the park and potentially gain 2.5 storey and 17 storey buildings. Why is it not protected under the Downtown Parks and Promenades Precinct?

With all the intensity planned for the Downtown Core Precinct, I am surprised there is still no mention of a new park south of James and north of Lakeshore on the east side of Brant. There will be thousands of people moving into this area. If we are looking for Complete Communities, where is the park for this community? Any family in this area would need to cross a major road to reach an existing park. Are the children to play on the new promenade?

In Chapter 6 on Infrastructure and Transportation, it talked about Active Transport for pedestrians and cyclists with such measures as wide sidewalks and barriers to protect cyclists. These are important in our crowded downtown streets. We can’t make the roads narrower to achieve this so we need greater setbacks for the buildings. I didn’t see this proposed anywhere.

Couriers parking

Couriers are going to need places to park when they are making deliveries, taxis will have to park somewhere while waiting for their passengers to arrive.

Chapter 6 also covered Goods Movement. This is critical in our intensified downtown if we want it to function well as we already have problems with most buildings built to their property lines. There are no places for couriers to deliver packages, moving vans to move residents, delivery vans to deliver goods, pick up and drop off places for visitors coming for residents, trades people to make repairs to units, taxis to wait for their fares to arrive. Are they all to double park on the active roadway lanes?

These issues must be dealt with clearly and effectively in our Plan and not left to developers to provide these necessities, out of the goodness of their hearts.

In Chapter 7 under Design Excellence I read all the “Shalls” and was left with the impression we don’t need to award extra height for much if developers complied with all our design excellence standards. Unless these are only our wish list that we get with Section 37. It should be mandatory for buildings to be built to these standards. This is Burlington, folks. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking no one will develop here if you ask for too much. They will come and they will build. Just be clear and firm on everything you want. Don’t give it away. It is too precious.

In Chapter 8 on the Downtown Urban Centre, one of the objectives is to conserve cultural heritage resources and maintain character defining areas. The most significant aspect of our downtown, other than its waterfront and unique shops is the heritage look and eclectic feel of our downtown streets. Yet I don’t see this anywhere in the document. Our shop fronts are unique. There are many heritage buildings that are not yet designated.

City Clock angle looking north on Brant

Just a “dumpy” little town that doesn’t make the best economic use of the land.

Contrast this with developers who want to create their landmark glass towers. Mr. Carnicelli referred to Brant Street as dumpy when we were speaking out about losing the character of Brant Street with new development so you can see they are not going to protect or recreate this aspect. It is up to city planners and Council to embed this in our OP. We can have new heritage look and feel built with the new construction coming.

In the section on the Downtown Core Precinct is states that one additional storey will be granted for every 150 sq metres of dedicated office floor space and every 8 underground parking spaces dedicated for public use. So if they build 150 metres of office space they get an additional 750 metres of residential. These standards are much too generous for what we get in return. Please make it fairer to the city.

In Chapter 8 you also address downtown parking. It says the city will explore opportunities for public private partnerships to expand the supply of public parking. How about just putting it right in the requirements that X number of parking spaces must be provided for public use in relation to the amount of commercial space they have at ground level. End of discussion.

In the explanation of Community Benefits in Chapter 12 you talk about giving extra height, density, or intensity for providing what should be standard in any development proposed for our downtown. A sustainable building? Come on. It doesn’t cost extra to do this stuff any more. It saves money down the road in operations – but then developers don’t care about that stuff because they don’t operate these Goliath’s after they build them. A floor of office – our standards already state some buildings need three uses while others only need two. Make them all three purpose and get something useful for your Section 37 instead.

I’m about out of time, so I hope my thoughts will encourage you to take a bolder stance on what we need to have in our OP to have a better downtown. Please don’t rush this through approval. The Region won’t be considering it until 2019. Take the time to get it right. Thank you for listening.

Related comment and opinion:

Opinion: Jim Young
Opinion: Gary Scobie
Opinion: Lisa Kearns
Opinion:  Jim Barnes

Deedee Davies chaired a Waterfront Watchdog committee for a number of years.  She kept a close eye on who was doing what and held public meetings to keep people up to date.  Should be seen as one of Burlington’s BEST

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Lisa Kearns: We need a complete strategy and we need it before this is voted into law.

opinionandcommentBy Lisa Kearns

February 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) is a not for profit group working towards a better Burlington for generations to come. Working within the civic process, we are particularly concerned with issues of planning and development. The group is energized to bring voices and action to challenges that will affect the quality of life today and in the future, we are advocates for good planning across the entire City.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

ECoB organized the first public meeting and found that they were providing a form for the public to say what they wanted to day.

In the three months from inception, ECoB has held an open meeting, a rally, a municipal elections workshop, hand delivered thousands of flyers, displayed hundreds of lawn signs, received press in no less than four publications, appeared on community television and radio, grown our social media base, delegated, met with provincial and municipal elected officials, city planning, business owners, developers and most importantly residents. The message is clear each time – we can build a better Burlington.

The delegation for PB-14-18 will focus on four matters: ECoB Requests, Public Engagement, Planning & Smart Growth and the vision for Downtown.

As we have listened to and learned from our members, we are using the Engaged Citizens voice to ask Committee to direct Staff to include the following points in the final draft to Council. These can be read, but I wish to highlight a few:

Kearns direct smile

Lisa Kearns

Official Plan is an Election Issue. ECoB questioned the rush for intensification and the tools available to keep it in control. The mayor responded with: “the need for an Official Plan to bring clear expectations to Burlington’s planning – this is what residents have been telling us”. The Mayor states that delaying the Official Plan approval would only create more instances where unexpected outcomes can occur, similar to the reaction which led to the decision at 421 Brant Street.

They mayor further states that the current council has the critical knowledge and understanding of the draft Official Plan and Strategic Plan and that it’s important that they complete this critical work. The question begs to be asked – is this in fact the best council to implement the draft Official Plan? Our trust in this council has been broken the moment 23 storeys was approved at Brant and James – this is why the official plan is an election issue.

A record number of delegations and written submissions indicate the need for a further analysis, peer review, a 3D model, character studies, and audits on the Draft Official Plan. There is little consensus by various stakeholder groups on the adoption of the plan as drafted. It is time to look to an independent third party to provide advice to council on the review and update of the Official Plan – deliverables would include the scope of work outlined in the 2009 Whitby OP peer review.

 

 

Public Engagement.
We are told the official plan project captures a significant amount of public engagement since 2012. If so, then how can we be in a place where there is a strong citizen backlash to the draft official plan? If we look to the Engagement Charter, would committee support a rating of “empower”? I refer to the last ECoB delegation: This is too little time for residents to review, analyze and understand this new material – and in response – this is too limited a time for staff and committee to review comments and respond appropriately. Would this be considered an indicator of good planning?

The main source of frustration is the Downtown Precinct Plan – already voted on and brought forward in September, was this the vision for downtown all along and residents were only let in at the last minute.

You have embarrassed and silenced residents presenting a 1400 signature petition, the continued decisions to force excessive height and drive a perfunctory timeline despite citizen opposition tells your constituents that they will simply be informed.

The surveys completed are clear on the allocations for height. Have new surveys been conducted on the draft plan and the locations where height has been identified? We would believe that is a logical follow up once conceptual videos have moved closer into reality.

Is the information presented transparent and accurate? We would have to disagree. It is highly challenging to understand the lines between mobility hubs and the official plan. Renderings are available under one and not the other. This example shows the height of the Brant & James intersection far lower than supported. Are we being misled? With less than a handful of visuals for the future of our downtown, shouldn’t these at least be accurate?

Kearns at podiumThis is not an isolated example, two months before the ADI OMB decision the Bay Observer, published “The Best of Burlington” with content from Burlington and showcased the 26 storey building as a fixture of the waterfront. This is not our waterfront.

And again, the lack of transparency at the Official Plan Open Houses this month. The precinct Plan highlights on the screen had to be asked for at each of the three sessions, these are an outcome from a meeting with ECOB and Planning Staff. Most importantly, why were these never available in the fall?

Land Use Designation:
The numbers before you have been held steadfast by committee – in November we asked for an assessment or audit of how much of the proposed employment and growth uses would be met by the three mobility hubs, not the anchor hub. We were told that there are 1-3 new tall buildings every 10 years. If this is what Planning truly believes, then we are in trouble. There has been a significant uptick in applications, if these cannot be processed within the required time, we will see many more developments than projected. Most of the lands for build out are already unencumbered and Burlington is being sold off before permits are in hand.

We need to look at this growth and be certain that the current designations are not closing the door to smart and optimal growth – and more importantly, that the parts of the city that are working aren’t destroyed. We have a vibrant downtown and growth can also be absorbed through re-designation, deferral or special planning areas in supporting parts of the City. To showcase this, and further to the Burlington Green deputation this afternoon, here is an opportunity to create a complete community near amenities, 1200 m from a mobility hub and close to highway infrastructure – the current lands are employment and as we also heard with Penta this morning these lands need collaboration with the province to ensure that maximum community benefit can be derived from underutilized lands.

Downtown Burlington Brant north from CH

This is a view of Burlington that will not exist in five years.

Vision for Downtown.
Downtown visitors and residents can feel the character of Brant Street, there is a true sense of community, an ethos, a culture and a high quality of life. The people who have worked to build a downtown, a strong downtown community and put Burlington on the map deserve a commitment from the City and Planning that the draft before us will replace this gem with concrete jungle. These corridors do not reflect the character of Brant Street.

ECoB has been asked, what would you like to see? While we have this answer we still strongly believe that the supporting plans should come forward with the official plan.

We have worked across the country with planning departments and compiled some of the best streets in Canada – especially those with a waterfront. The following slides showcase a balance in height and maintaining a more appropriate low density human scale.

Here is a report by Director of Planning Services for the city of Barrie dated June 2013 talking about the height review & tall building principles. They had decided to stick with the principles of the original 1989 height review study “based on the need to balance population growth pressures with the desire to appropriately manage built-form, while protecting the public interests of the city”. A tall building is anything over 3 storeys – any more than that is for maximized profit.

What can we do before it is too late? Recognize vibrancy and the human scale, support evolution through natural redevelopment that is compatible with the neighbourhood, and to champion the mix of older, smaller buildings to support greater levels of positive economic and social activity rather than areas dominated by newer, larger buildings.ECoB req #1

ECoB 2How can we do it? We need a character study for Brant Street and the established neighbour-hoods. We need a peer review on the downtown urban growth area to prevent the risk of excessive build out and intensification – we need to protect the view corridor to the lake and take a balanced and objective approach support a mix of population diversity and the mix of uses that continue to grow the culture of live, work and play in downtown Burlington.

We can do this together when the citizens are empowered within the civic process and Committee and Council listen and engage. We need a complete strategy and we need it before this is voted into law.

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