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

opinionandcommentBy Lisa Kearns

February 28th, 2018



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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Jim Barnett: This should not be an election issue. It should be a get it right issue. There is still time if you have the will.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Barnett

February 28th, 2018



In past delegations I have pointed out the many shortfalls of the current draft proposal, in particular to the lack of measurable specifics. I have shown that the proposal is an essay on urban planning and it is not a plan on which Burlington can move forward.

The good news is that at a recent council meeting they finally put a number on maximum building height. Seventeen stories. And this can only be achieved with the provision of commercial space, open parking and heritage preservation. Otherwise the maximum is 12 stories!! My question to the mayor” is 17 the max or can staff find “other community benefits” through negation with the developers to increase the height again?” Does 17 stories mean 17 stories max?

This is what happened with the old operating plan. Every development was massaged to give the developers what they wanted. These changes were then used to justify additional changes on other properties and building heights on Maple and Lakeshore rocked skyward, each time setting a new precedent. Soon these ad hoc changes allowed the OMB to rule in favour of the developers and we lost control. Now the planers want to rush us into the new plan saying the current operating plan is not serving us well. They are right, but they are right because they have strayed from the current plan so often that it as emasculated it. Question to the Mayor. What guarantees are you going to write into the plan to make sure that provisions in the new plan cannot be negotiated away by the planning department?


Nautique: The ADI Group development that the city didn’t want – the OMB saw it differently and approved 26 storeys.

In a recent press release ADI has receive approval for 26 stories on Lakeshore. The mayor expressed his regrets and at the same time praised the planning department for all their hard work on the file. How can a department be praised when the results of their efforts are so detrimental to the future of the city?

The downtown is not a mobility hub. The planning there should be quite different from the Mobility Hubs on the Go Train Line. When will this happen?

Question to Councillor Lancaster. You have spoken extensively for the need of affordable housing in the downtown area. What is your definition of affordable housing and how will you deliver the units needed in the down town?

For the mobility hubs and the downtown to be walk able there needs to be grocery stores. Through you Mr. chair, what have the planners done to make sure people can walk to get their groceries in these areas?

Recently a number of council members have said that the proposed plan is not just for now but for 50 maybe 70 years out. This is a classic miss direction to keep us from the important decisions that will effect the next 10 years. We should not let them get away with it. Fifty years from now we may not have enough low cost energy to air condition or heat the 25 story buildings or run the elevators. Lets use our ingenuity to get the near term right.

In my opinion the people of Burlington do not want our downtown to look like Mississauga!!! From what I can read over 90 percent of the citizens do not what our down town to look like Mississaugas. To the Mayor, What steps are you prepared to take to make sure the new operating plan reflects the desires of the people you represent?

The time line is confusing. The city has to do its work then the Region has to incorporate it into their plans which could get changed by provincial edits and directional changes. This could take two or three years and be out of date before the ink is dry. Under these uncertain condition I suggest we just proceed with what is best for us allowing for modest growth.

Underway - too muchFor a city to grow it needs a transportation plan, integral to this in a modern city is a transit plan. So far the current draft has little on how the peoples need to move around will be satisfied and to say this will be worked out after the buildings are built is classic putting the cart before the horse and for a city the ultimate in poor planning. We do not need more Appleby Lines.

Reverse town hall 1

Jim Barnett, on the right, at the Mayor’s Reverse Town Hall meeting.

We do not need more Lakeshore Roads between Martha and Maple.

This should not be an election issue. It should be a get it right issue. There is still time if you have the will.

Related comment and opinion:

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


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Gary Scobie: Council got us into this. Now Council has to get us out.

opinionandcommentBy Gary Scobie

February 28th,2018




City council didn’t want the development but failed to respond to the application within the required time frame so the developer took his application to the Ontario Municipal Board where it was approved.

I live in Ward 3 and I am here to speak against the approval of the proposed Official Plan. Two weeks ago, I received the OMB Vice-Chair’s report that approved the appeal by Adi Corporation to build a 26 storey condo at 374 Martha Street at the corner of Lakeshore Road. If ever there was a proper time to use the phrase “this changes everything”, it was that day.

It was a stunning reminder of the Province’s power to force us to shape up and face up to the massive intensification of our downtown that comes with the territory of being designated as an Anchor Mobility Hub and Urban Growth Centre.

Our current Official Plan, passed in October 2006 by our Council of seven, with three of our current Councillors there at the time, was supposed to be in compliance with the Growth Plan of the province. But alas, we learned that it has not been kept compliant over the years since. It is so far out of compliance that it was disregarded in the appeal. Our City team of Council and planning and legal experts did not even submit as evidence our proposed Official Plan wordings for the site that might have resulted in some compromise in height. Instead, OMB Vice-Chair Schiller pointed out that the City had no legal right to stop the 26 storey condo.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie, a frequent delegator at city hall.

I have to ask, what was Council expecting in 2006 when it embraced, on behalf of all citizens, the Urban Growth Centre designation for our downtown? Did they imagine the coming massive re-build of lower Brant Street and its adjacent streets?

Did they imagine 20 plus storey buildings at most intersections and the eventual almost complete destruction of the two storey nature of our historic downtown? I simply can’t believe that they did.
Yet three Councillors from that long ago Council sit here today and I’d invite them to explain to citizens if this indeed was their plan for our downtown.

It is now quite obvious to me that the Town of Oakville was very prescient in 2005 in their assessment of the loss of control that would come if they accepted a Downtown Urban Growth Centre designation. Their Council rejected it and convinced the Province that the intensification demanded would come elsewhere in their town. If only our Council had done the same.

We the citizens are now being asked to trust this Council and the Planning Department, the ones that couldn’t keep our Official Plan compliant, to endorse a new Official Plan that has heights above what we want and that has already been pierced by an approved 23 storey condo across from City Hall and now an approved 26 storey condo right at the lake and in the most southern and eastern point of our Downtown Core Precinct. It was presented by the developer as a Gateway to the Downtown.

Yes indeed, it certainly will be that and much more. It will be a lasting reminder of our hubris. It will be the precedent at the lake, the building to surpass in height by many future buildings. It will represent the low height that Council and the planners promised us by the lake, rising ever higher up Brant Street to the other Mobility Hub that is the Burlington GO Station.

Citizens can only imagine and envision heights of 30 plus storeys going up Brant Street, culminating in not 30 but likely 40 plus storey heights near the GO Station.

Underway - too muchWe are asked to trust Council and the Planning Department that in approving an Official Plan for all of Burlington, without the three other Mobility Hubs, without a transportation plan and without a transit plan, that they will just get it right on all of these important missing pieces when the time comes to add them. And that the OP rules will be enforceable.

I’m afraid we just can’t trust you to do that. Now that the one entity that is really in charge of intensification throughout Burlington, the Province, has spoken and told us that they have control of our Growth Centres, not just in the downtown, but also at our GO Stations, we have no alternative but to try to at least save our downtown from becoming a forest of 20 to 30 storey highrises.

The only way that this can happen is for one of you to introduce a motion to Council to request that the Province consider the 69,000 people and jobs that are planned to be added at the GO Station Mobility Hubs as our ample contribution to the intensification of Burlington as a whole and free our downtown from this crippling intensification that will come from the Urban Growth Centre and Anchor Mobility Hub designations.

You have, in good conscience, no other choice than to take this route. Council got us into this. Now I request Council to get us out.

You simply agree to contact the Province to try to save our downtown by recovering the control of downtown re-development that was surrendered in 2006.

Do not move forward with the Official Plan approval until you add plans for the critical missing parts and have exhausted every possible avenue of request with the Province to remove the downtown from this planned over-development. I think that you can succeed, but at a minimum, you surely must try.


Gary Scobie was a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee. He is seen here, second from the left.

If you fail us in this, downtown citizens must prepare to endure ten to twenty years of construction noise, congestion, dust and dirt as tall buildings rise from foundations deep underground seemingly from every corner on Brant and adjacent streets. And the end result of this over-build will not make us the envy of other cities, will not make our downtown more livable and will not preserve our title as the best mid-size city in Canada.

Remember, from out in the lake a skyline of tall buildings jutting into the air may look good on a postcard, but for the people who actually have to live there, who have to live without rapid transit to the GO Station, with traffic congestion of intensification, without any feel of historic two storey Brant Street and its unique, independent shops, without enough parking for residents, let alone visitors to the downtown, with tall buildings everywhere they look, with wind and shadows everywhere they walk, there will be little pleasure other than looking at the lake from their window if they paid enough money for that view and wondering, was it really worth the view after all and perhaps pondering, what were they thinking when they approved this metropolis of Burlington.

Gary Scobie is a long time Burlington resident who frequently comments on how city hall works.

Related comment and opinion:

Jim Young tells Council it has failed to failed to inform, consult, involve, collaborate or empower the citizens.

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The ward 3 situation: five prospective candidates will split the vote and keep the incumbent in office.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

February 24th, 2018



Steven White

Stephen White

Steven White, a ward 5 resident, stood at the ECoB Candidate Workshop Thursday evening and asked if some time could be found for the prospective candidates in the different wards to get together and work through their differences.

White said that the prospective candidates could look at their individual strengths and determine which candidate had the best chance of taking the council seat away from the incumbent.

Ward 3 is one of those classic situations where there are, at this point in time, five prospective candidates plus John Taylor the incumbent.

Two of the five, ran in the 2014 election. Lisa Cooper is in the race for the third or fourth time and has some name recognition; not much more than that. However she did take almost 26% of the vote.

Jeff Brooks was in the race for the first time in 2014. He never fully understood just what the job was but he did take 15% of the vote.

rory shot

Rory Nisan

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

The other three are all young. Two, Rory Nisan and Gareth Williams would make good members of Council.

Both have accomplished much at this point in their lives.


Mike Quackenbush

The third Quackenbush is likeable enough but probably not up to the rigorous demands of a city councillor.

John Taylor, the incumbent has served the city well for the more than 25 years he has been a member of Council. He is the Dean of a city council that has frequently treated Taylor rather shabbily. The ravages of time have caught up with Taylor and there are parts of the job he is no longer able to do.

Actors, politicians and the sports community look for that time when they are at the top of their game and find an opportunity to leave the stage. There is an opportunity for Taylor to look at the five prospective candidates and sign the nomination papers for one of them and then work closely with that person during their first two years on office.

The room at the Tansley Woods Community Centre was made up of people who wanted to get elected along with their supporters and those who had been elected and believed change was needed at city hall; they had the experience to tell prospective candidates what they had to do to win. The message was simple – get out there and knock on doors, identify your support and the get out the vote on Election Day.

Other than talking amongst their supporters we doubt that any of the candidates have been out on the streets of their community knocking on doors and looking for support.

Carr - Leblovic - Thoem

Mark Carr, Diane Leblovic and Peter Thoem had some solid advice for prospective candidates. Were they listened to?

During the two hour ECoB sponsored Candidate Workshop seasoned and weathered politicians Mark Carr andDiane Leblovic laid it out pretty clearly – determine which of the prospective candidates has the best chance of winning and put your energy behind that candidate.

Peter Thoem, a one term member of council for ward 2, explained to prospective candidates that the job is a lot harder than they imagine. “The number of reports you will be given are complex and you don’t have anywhere near the time to read and absorb the documents, form an opinion and get input from the people you represent” he said.

Kearns direct smile

Lisa Kearns

Lisa Kearns, part of the ECoB leadership team, told the prospective candidates that one of the things they could do as members of council was change the way information gets to them.

Narrowing the field in ward 3 to a single candidate who can take on the incumbent will call for a selfless act on the part of four of the five names out there now. It takes depth of character and the strength to put the community before oneself.

Related news story:

Who got the votes in the 2014 election.

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The problems in Canada - with BC moving in on federal jurisdiction and Alberta putting a cork in the wine bottles India was supposed to be a slam dunk. Justin did get dunked.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 23rd, 2018



Come next year’s federal election Mr. Trudeau will be making a list of promises. Top of that list should be never taking another family holiday outside of Canada.

Rivers 23 - Trudeau family

The Trudeau family in India.

Oh sure, he is just doing what his father did, hauling the wife and kids along to see the sights, mixing with the locals and appropriating their traditional wear. It’s the classic Canadian charm offensive.

But the PM’s trip to India became way too offensive when he inadvertently brought along a convicted Sikh terrorist to an official function. Hello, how on earth could this character evade the PM’s security detail and end up in a photo-op with the PM’s wife? And what is it with this Sikh thing.

Rivers - Gregoire with convicted Sikh

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of attempting to murder Malkiat Singh Sidhu three decades ago. Here he is shown with the Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire while on a tour in India.

Sikhs make up a solid political block in places like Surrey B.C. and Brampton. But we are all Canadians first, something the PM and the novice NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh need to remember as they watch over all these potential multi-cultural divides. Singh has been known to waffle on the Air India bombing (a couple of decades ago) and Sikh terrorism generally.

And all politicians need to take a deep breath before musing on the recent decision of the Quebec court of appeal to uphold the ban on Sikh ceremonial daggers (Kirpans). As in everything, there are limits to what can be stuffed under the umbrella of religious freedom. One only has to look south of the border where the NRA (National Rifle Association) is preaching that ownership of assault rifles is now God’s will, and

The PM did get to announce a billion dollar trade deal and did finally have an official meeting with the Indian PM, which apparently went well. But this was anything but the well organized state-to-state courtship it was intended to be with the world’s fourth largest economy and largest democracy. Nobody was singing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’. Unlike his ill-conceived trip to visit the Aga Khan a Christmas ago, at least there were no major personal conflicts.

But somebody needs to figure out why one of his MP’s would set him up by inviting along a former terrorist, and how this character actually got through Indian immigration in the first place. And the PM would do well to ensure his official travel is more necessary than just nice. Most pundits are still wondering why Trudeau took that trip at all and whether he was even invited.

And it’s not that his presence wasn’t requested back home as Alberta and B.C. went at it over oil and wine. B.C.’s new premier Horgan, governing with an NDP/Green Party coalition sparked the conflict with his eastern neighbour. Obviously he was getting grief from the Greens for approving the environmentally destructive Site C massive hydro project, opposed by farmers, indigenous communities and the usual crowd of environmentalists.

So to appease his coaltion partner, Horgan announced he was going to slow down or stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline which Alberta desperately needs to keep its oil sands operations competitive, and to get the product to markets. Alberta’s premier Notley then took on her fellow NDP’er by banning BC wine in her province.

Rivers 23 Notley fingers pointing

When my oil goes THAT way – your wine can come THIS way. Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta.

And in a most ironic moment for both of these governments, Notley also cancelled a power purchase agreement from B.C.’s Site C which would have helped Alberta get off coal-fired electricity. That was a key component of helping the province meet its carbon emissions targets – something very near and dear to every Green Party member’s heart, and the key to winning federal approval for the pipeline in the first place.

Make no mistake that this was pure politics on the part of the new B.C. premier. He might have been hoping that by showing strength he’d win a timely by-election to replace former premier Clark – which he didn’t. Though nothing raises a political leader’s poll count better that going to war; even if it’s only a war over oil and wine. And then there was this thing about mollifying his Green Party partner and keeping the coalition together.

But everyone knows that the inter-provincial pipelines fall largely under federal jurisdiction and the feds had already green-lit Kinder Morgan. And that was Notley’s point as she pleaded for the PM to shut down Horgan. Perhaps he was too busy picking his wardrobe for the India visit but he had little to say about the matter – other than the obvious.

Alberta is the biggest export market for B.C. wines, and Albertans love their wines. So it didn’t take much for Notley to drop the ban and let the wine flow once Horgan announced he was not going to shut down Kinder Morgan. Rather he was going to ask the courts about the limits of his authority. A case of much-ado-about-nothing in the end, though Notley comes out a hero and Albertans get to savour their favourite wines again.

It is pure speculation whether this issue would have been better solved had the PM barged in and demanded Horgan put his guns back in their holsters. In hindsight, whether intentional or not, Trudeau’s calm and low profile approach – letting the situation evolve pretty much on its own or behind the scenes with his officials – was the best thing he could have done. And that also makes him a winner in this. Now about that trip to India?

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:

India Trip –   Kirpans –     Jagmeet

NRA and God –     Blessing the AR-15 –     B.C. Challenges

B.C. Wine –     Site C –     Pipeline Tensions

A Way Forward –     Test for Trudeau

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Assuming the Liberals win the provincial election in June (and that certainly isn't a given) how long do you expect Katherine Wynne to remain as leader?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 19th, 2018



The public got a first look at the four people who want to lead a provincial Progressive Conservative government.

Elliott PC

Christine Elliott

Christine Elliot a former member of the Legislature who lost her run for the leadership twice.

Ford Doug

Doug Ford

Doug Ford who wants to do for the province what his brother did for the city of Toronto.

Caroline Mulroney who started out running for a seat in the York constituency, where she was acclaimed as the candidate. The Gazette has always believed that Caroline Mulroney was setting herself up to replace Patrick Brown as the leader of the party.


Caroline Mulroney

Little did she know that Patrick would self-destruct in the way he did which gave Mulroney the opening she thought she would have to wait for.

And little did she know that Brown would have his Lazarus moment and rise from the politically dead to have a seat at the debate table.

Tanya Granic Allen

Tanya Granic Allen

Then there was Tanya , a gutsy young lady who proved to be the brightest voice during the TVO debate. She kept being identified as a single issue candidate: she wants changes made in the provincial sex education curriculum, – but she had just as much to say about the rot in the PC party.

Of the four Granic Allen is the one that would give Premier Wynne a run for her money.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown resigning as Leader of the Opposition. He has since filed nomination papers as a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. It is confusing.

The day after these four debated on TVO, Patrick Brown filed his nomination papers and is waiting for the Progressive Conservative party to sign off on his nomination. How they do that after booting Brown from the PC caucus is something they will have to figure out.

The Progressive Conservatives are looking for a leader and trying to find a vision, a direction they can sell to the public.

Everyone is assuming that the Liberals have all these things – and indeed they do have a formidable leader with a very clear message. They also have terrible polling results but the Liberals are tight and they have solid campaign depth.

However, should the Liberals win the provincial election in June – just how long do you expect Kathleen  Wynne to remain as leader?

wynne-at heritage dinner

Kathleen Wynne: Will she stay on the stage if she wins the provincial election in June?

She has fought the good fight and she has weathered some storms – will she want to serve another four year term as leader of the Liberal party?

And how many of the younger members of her Cabinet are going to want to continue to wait for their chance to grab that brass ring?

There are at least four that will want to jump in.

Ontario is not looking at just a new Progressive Conservative leader – it is looking at a sea change in the demographic that is going to lead the province.

Interesting and confusing times ahead.

Salt with Pepper reflects the views, observations and opinions of the Gazette Publisher.

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Rivers: The First Debate PC was a snooze; with Patrick Brown back in the race the second could well be a circus.

Rivers 100x100Ray Rivers

February 18th, 2018



It is hardly the greatest show on earth. No, not the Barnum and Bailey show which retired last year. It’s that other circus called the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership contest. And so far it’s a long way from being entertaining, as anyone watching the first four declared candidates square off for an all-candidates debate on TVO’s The Agenda would have to agree.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown resigning

But perhaps the campaign will get more exciting now that a fifth candidate, former leader Patrick Brown, in the running. Brown is making noises like he was set-up, and he is determined to clear his name from the sexual allegations which forced his resignation in the first place. He points to holes which are already starting to appear in both of the allegations against him.

The first of two TVO debates was among the sleepiest debates of all time. It would have been much better theatre had Brown been there to counter all the slings and arrows… and mud being tossed his way.

Tanya Granic Allen

Tanya Granic Allen

The latest candidate, before Brown’s re-entry, an angry, ardent, young woman by the name of Tanya Granic Allen, rubbished him for not promising to get rid of the provincial sex-ed curriculum. She also tore into Christine Elliott for not defeating the Liberal ban on the questionable practice of gay sexual conversion therapy.

Granic Allen declared that the recently member-approved election platform called the People’s Guarantee, is now dead – but gave no indication of what would take its place going into an election a little over three months from now. And she grumbled about the last leadership and how the membership lists were rigged. Despite the PCs being well funded and more popular than before he became leader, she accused Brown of destroying the party.

The other three candidates Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott were less committal on the platform, stressing that only the carbon tax was dead, as far as they were concerned and that they would take the federal government to court on this. They also agreed that they’d have to run a deficit to pay for their promised 22% income tax cut, though Elliot was convinced there were saving to be had somewhere.

Elliott PC

Christine Elliott

Elliott, a former provincial politician turned civil servant (patient ombudsman) was particularly disappointing in her performance. She had trouble identifying almost any of the issues facing the province, let alone how she would better deal with them. That can happen to politicians once removed from political office – John Turner in the 80s comes to mind. She lost out twice in seeking the leadership so perhaps she was just being guarded about another defeat, or tired of it all.

Mulroney also seemed painfully ignorant of what the job entailed and unable to identify issues, though at least she wouldn’t kill sex-ed, or the minimum wage. She would just figure it all out once she’d looked at the budget line-by-line. One could ask why she hadn’t done that before this debate. Though well composed and calm most of the time she occasionally had that deer-in-the-headlights look about her.

Her lack of depth is likely a consequence of being such a relative newcomer to Ontario politics and Ontario. After all she lived so much of her life in Montreal or the USA, where she also holds  citizenship. It was hard not to want to paraphrase Stephen Harper’s quip about his rival Ignatieff – she didn’t come back for us.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford

Doug Ford was remarkably reserved, given his reputation. He kept going back to his own and mostly irrelevant experience as a Toronto Councillor, supporting contracted garbage services which arguably saved a billion dollars for the tax payers. He said he’d pare back the layers of bureaucracy and the Green Energy Act in particular. When asked to be more specific he mentioned the grade six math scores and said that sex-ed was to blame.

This is still relatively early in the leadership process since nominations had just closed on Friday. But the winning candidate will be announced March 10th, so there isn’t much time for these characters to whip themselves into shape for the next leadership debate at the end of February. Membership sales also closed on the 16th and it will be interesting to see how many supporters of these candidates have been added to the lists.

Brown back in the race

Brown back in the race

Winners are rarely made by a debate. With Brown back in the race, assuming his nomination is approved, all bets are off. He, no doubt, is counting on those loyal supporters who picked him in the first place coming back to support him. Brown, having been the principle author of the platform would at least have a much better handle on the issues facing the province than any of his competition.

All of the candidates, in particular Mulroney, talked of the need to be different from the status quo. Change the government just to get rid of Kathleen Wynne. But then it would be helpful to know what they would do better – and there was little sign of that from any of these hopefuls. One only has to look south of the border to see how well change for the sake of change is working there.

PC Four candidates

The four candidates in the first debate will be joined by Patrick Brown in the second debate.

The leadership ballot will allow members to rank the candidates in order of preference. So expect to see Elliot and Mulroney gang up so that they are each other’s first and second choices. We should expect Ford to mobilize his Ford Nation political organization to get every ultra-conservative marking him as the only candidate. That angry young Allen woman is destined for last spot, given her scary demeanour alone. With Brown back in the race, he might just win again.

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 Eat Itself –     Brown is Back –     Brown’s Allegations

TVO Debate –     More Debate –     Even More Debate

Caroline Mulroney –     Christine Elliott –    

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Rivers suggests a closer look at the idea of changing jury selection - possible unintended consequences.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 16th, 2018



It is easy to see why a jury of his peers might sympathize with Gerald Stanley. The cattle farmer near Biggar Saskatchewan had shot and killed a young man who had driven onto his land uninvited. Imagine if four strangers suddenly roared up to your farm house in a ratty old SUV, went poking around into your garage and fired up a piece of your equipment as if it was their own. They were trespassing, apparently argumentative and clearly disrespectful.

It is not clear what the youths had in mind when they drove up to the Stanley farm house. Nor is it clear that they hadn’t just wanted Stanley, who operated a small auto repair shop, to fix their flat tire. There is evidence they had been drinking and that they had earlier tried to break into a neighbour’s vehicle. So they may well have been up to no-good.

Bouchie H&S

Colten Boushie

But none of that excuses the killing of young Colten Boushie, who lived on a Cree reserve about an hour’s drive away. Stanley had several weapons in his possession, including the hand gun which killed Boushie, so he clearly understood something about guns. He claims the weapon fired accidentally, an action which couldn’t be replicated in tests by a crime lab. Handguns are restricted weapons requiring registration and have strict storage requirements, but Stanley was also careless about how he stored his guns.

Stanley had used the handgun over the years, he said, to scare wildlife off his farm. Clearly the noise from a starter pistol would have been just as effective, unless he had intended to also kill the wildlife. And it sadly begs the question of whether he regarded these indigenous youth as just more wildlife, which he had hoped to scare off when he fired bullets into the air.

Gerald Stanley

Gerald Stanley – acquitted.

Gerald Stanley was acquitted of responsibility for that killing, something which has outraged the aboriginal community, civil rights lawyers and the federal government. Mr. Trudeau and his justice minister have promised to make changes to our legal prosecution system and/or jury selection process as a result of the trial. But that won’t bring back Mr. Boushie, nor prevent this kind of incident from happening again. Nor will it heal the wounds for Boushie’s family and his fellow band members, nor indeed for the Stanley family who have not escaped this sad event without some kind of trauma.

Improving the fairness of our judicial system is always a good idea. But if that involves mandatory inclusion of indigenous jurors in these kinds of trials, that may precipitate an explosion of demand for culturally populated juries from now on. Muslims for example, may demand representation on a jury when one of their own is accused or victimized. Will that lead to a quota system as the basis for jury selection? And will multiculturalism then take precedence over the blind execution of justice?

Wouldn’t it be better for the Trudeau government to take action to reduce the chances of this kind of incident repeating itself, rather than shifting the discussion to how the courts process the consequences? The government could focus on what killed Mr. Boushie – the gun. The only purpose of a handgun is to kill people. Why not ban all handguns in this country, except those used by law enforcement officers.

Boushie apparently also had a firearm, a 22 calibre rifle in poor condition but still loaded with bullets in the chamber. It was not a part of the actual conflict but it is also telling about the gun culture spreading in this country from the contagion south of the border. One wonders how this incident might have evolved had Boushie had a chance to discharge that weapon in self-defence.

Bouchie demonstrators

The sign makes the statement.

There is much less regulation and consideration over Canada’s firearms now that the nation’s long gun registry has been destroyed. It’s elimination was a political action to satisfy western gun owners, presumably like Stanley, despite appeals to the contrary by virtually all law enforcement agencies and most of Canada’s provinces. We register our cars and dogs but not our long guns.

Stanley’s ‘scare wildlife’ comment is telling, since it highlights the extent of racism that still exists concerning Canada’s aboriginals, particularly in the western provinces. He may not consider himself a racist but the question remains whether he would have pursued the same aggressive tactics were the invaders non-aboriginals.

The jury declined to pronounce Stanley guilty of even manslaughter, let alone the greater charge of second degree murder which the prosecution had been calling for. Stanley had every right to suspect the trespassers on his property were up to no good and may have felt threatened by their presence. And he had every right to evict them, which it appears he had done as they were in the process of leaving when the incident culminated in Boushie’s death.

Stanley pistol

The trigger on this pistol had to be pulled for the gun to fire.

The evidence that Stanley’s gun accidentally went off as he claimed was clearly rebutted during the trial, but even if it hadn’t been, the gun that killed Boushie was in his hand the whole time.

The jury may have been motivated to find for the defendant because of the colour of his skin, or not. And they clearly believed Stanley had been in the right, that he had done no wrong. Yet it is hard to understand how any reasonable person would not have called this manslaughter. That is what happened after all – a slaughter of that young man.

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:

What happened –     Trial –    Response to Verdict

More response to Verdict –     Historic Perspective –     Weapon Malfunction

Background –     Even More Verdict –     Trudeau Response

Firearms Charges –     Jury Selection

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Some pretty hypocriticalbehaviour on the part of some council members - will a Code of Conduct make any difference?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2018



On March 1st there will be a council Workshop about the Code of Conduct for members of city council that the majority of this council just do not want.

A Code of Conduct was discussed at some length on a number of occasions during the first term of this council in 2011.

At a meeting in July of 2015, the last meeting before Council went on their six week summer vacation in the summer of that year, Councillors  Craven and Sharman had a discussion in the foyer outside the Council Chamber.  Both went to their seats when the conversation concluded; Sharman said a few words to Councillor Lancaster who sits beside Sharman and the meeting began.


Later in the meeting Councillor Lancaster introduced a motion, seconded by Councillor Sharman to replace wording in the Code of Conduct that had been taken out at an earlier meeting.

No one had seen the motion until it was introduced – not the Clerk or the Mayor. All the chatter about professionalism and respect for each other got blown out the window.

The final vote on what to do with the Code of Conduct was to refer what had been done up to that point  to the City Manager who assured council he would move with some dispatch; debated under the Governance section of the Strategic Plan. One of the problems is that Strategic Plan meetings are for the most part not recorded or broadcast on the city’s web site.

The firm that provides Ombudsman support services to the city, ADR Chambers prepared a detailed document on this for staff; the City Clerk worked hard to get a document in place – council didn’t let it happen.

Among the issues that cropped up during the 2010-2014 term of office was whether or not the council member for ward 2 could involve herself in the affairs of ward 1. No love lost between those two.

The matter of what was a gift to a council member and what wasn’t a gift got debated as well as what the ramifications to a council member would be should they happen to be off side.

The Gazette published articles on this in  in July of 2015 and again in November of 2015 when the issue was discussed on Cogeco cables The Issue.

There was another article on November 16th, 2016 and on January 30th, 2016.

Earlier this week there was a Committee of the Whole meeting that agreed to have a Task Force formed on bullying and harassment in the city. The members of council feel there is just too much harassment being aimed their way and they want to see some rules in place to manage this behaviour.

What a bunch of hypocrites; they are complaining about the way citizens with well founded concerns about the way growth is being managed who will not ensure that there is a Code of Conduct governing their behaviour.  There has been a code in place for city staff that is enforced.  What’s good for the goose doesn’t appear too appeal to the gander.

Bullying – what does one call the letter sent to ECoB by the City Manager threatening legal action if they did not remove some of the content on their web site. A conversation inviting the ECoB people to meet with the City Manager and talk about the information that was on the web site could have resolved the issue.

No carrots in the office of the City Manager – just big sticks.

In 2012 the then city manager Jeff Fielding said that the behaviour of a council member came very close to sexual harassment. Earlier the council member had been identified as being in a personal relationship with a member of the Planning department – those things are no no’s.

Councillor Sharman and Director of Transit Donna Shepherd working trhrough a budget document

Councillor Sharman and then Director of Transit Donna Shepherd working through a budget document.

Sharman and Shepherd never did have a close working relationship. Did this contribute to her retirement?

Her body language says it all. Shepherd retired later in the year.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday Councillor Sharman complained of a delegator who eyeballed every member of council in what he felt was a threatening manner before leaving the chamber. Sharman said it was “uncomfortable “.

Dumb behavior is dumb behaviour and it is not to be tolerated. How we manage it is another matter.

During the council meeting on the Task Force Lancaster was proposing Councillor Sharman spoke frequently about misinformation and seemed to be suggesting that what was going on in Nazi Germany during WWII may be now taking place in Burlington; propaganda and misinformation. The Councillor is watching too much television.

Transit - unhappy customer

This citizen was unhappy about transit service. At the time the city was doing nothing about transitr until a new staff member did an analysis of some data and told the city manager there were serious problems. The citizens had been right for some time – but they weren’t listened to.

Unhappy parent

A parent who didn’t want the high school his child was attending closed.

As I listened to the debate via the web cast there was never any sense that the harassment council members are getting is something they take any responsibility for – the public is upset, very upset. They don’t like what they see their council doing to them and when they find that their delegations are not being heard they react.

Brian Wrixton, the Chair of the Inclusivity Advisory Committee made a very strong point when he said at Committee “there was a lot of educating to be done”.

This council isn’t talking about educating – they are talking about rules they want to see in place to control what happens. Councillor Craven wants to see something in the Procedural bylaw that permits the chair of a meeting to do something with a delegation that is upsetting the members of council. “All a chair can do now” he said “is adjourn the meeting.”

There is some very nasty racist behaviour coming out of the Alton community and that is not to be tolerated. It takes time to erase racist attitudes – ham fisted responses don’t work – never have.

Change gets brought about by leadership – usually from the top. Citizens are finding that they have a city council that just does not want to hear what their concerns are; that their Council has become close to bloody minded in their behaviour. They seem prepared to let the electorate decide if they are doing their job at the election that will take place at the end of October.

With no one coming forward in wards 1, 4 and 5; a possible candidate that might not be much different than what is there now in ward 6, we stand to end up with a council that will be on the wrong end of 4-3 votes.

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace taking in a city council meeting, wondering perhaps what the Chain of Office will look like on his shoulders.

There is more than enough evidence to suggest that the current Mayor is in serious electoral trouble; the question is will the people of Burlington take a leap of faith with Meed Ward or fall back to former city Councillor and Member of Parliament Mike Wallace.

Related articles:

January 30 – 2017 – Clerk gets handed the hot potato issue.

November 16, 2016 – Province begins to nudge the municipalities

November 6, 2015 – Cogeco’s The Issue discuses the lack of a Code of Conduct

July 26, 2015 – New Culture at city hall?

June 2012 Transit director retires

Salt with Pepper are the views, opinions and observations of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette


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Why did the city fail to process the original 2015 application for the Nautique development: two views.

background 100By Pepper Parr

February 15th, 2018



The Ontario Municipal Board decision to allow the ADI Development at Lakeshore and Martha isn’t the only thing going on in the city.


It will have a transit stop in front of it.

Having said that, Gazette readers are proving to be quite vigilant on this issue; one brought to our attention a piece we published in 2015 when the city was doing its best to recover from the failure to respond to the ADI application within the required 180 days.

Neither the current City manager or the current planner or the current Deputy city manager can be blamed for that mess.

Tom Muir, who has been described as an “acerbic” city hall critic asked Meed Ward what happened. The dialogue between the two of them is instructive.

It points to some of the reasons why this development and the opposition to it went off the tracks before the train got out of the station.

Link to that article:

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Can the ADI development on Martha be appealed - yes but the basis of an appeal is very very limited.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 15th, 2018



Those unhappy with the Ontario Municipal Board decision will look for ways to appeal the decision.
OMB decisions can and have been appealed but only on an error on a question of law.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016An appeal cannot be made on a matter of evidence that was presented. If the hearing officer, in this case Susan de Avellar Schiller, made a reference to or relied on some law and was wrong – that can be appealed.

The process for this is a motion to the Divisional Court for an order of the Court allowing the appeal to proceed.

In certain rare circumstances, you may be able to seek Judicial Review in the Divisional Court.

People usually hire a lawyer to appeal to a court or to ask for a Judicial Review because of the complicated procedures and issues.

The starting point for a Judicial Review is a call to the Registrar of the Court for more information about court processes and procedures.

If the Mayor’s blog and the media release from the city are any indication, the city is going to gulp, swallow the decision and move on. The spin, so far, has been that the OMB decision is all the more reason to press on with approving the draft Official Plan.

There is a Statutory meeting at which residents can have their say on the draft Official Plan:

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018
1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
City Hall, Council Chambers, level 2
426 Brant Street

That draft might want some additional modification based on the OMB decision. Taking their lumps for the failures in the city’s case – and that is what they were, the city now needs to take the time to fully assess what the decision says and figure out how to live with it and work with it going forward.

This isn’t the time for hasty decisions.  It is the time to fess up and apologize for mistakes.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has set out her position on the decision, the Mayor has thanked staff for all their fine work.  The Gazette reached out to Mayoralty candidate Mike Wallace for a comment, they have said they will get back to us – nothing yet.

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Burlington’s Mayor and City Staff disappointment over the OMB decision to allow a 26 storey building on Martha St. seems like just so many crocodile tears.

By Jim Younopinionandcommentg

February 14th, 2018



crocodile-tears-Forgive my cynicism but the disappointment expressed by Burlington’s Mayor and City Staff over the OMB decision to allow a 26 storey building on Martha St. seems like just so many crocodile tears. This from a city who already amended their own zoning bylaws to approve 24 storeys a few hundred metres away at 421 Brant St.

The ADI appeal, while complex, was not based on a good building /bad building argument but was based on a “No Decision Appeal” to the OMB which is allowed when City Councils fail to come to a decision on a developer’s building or zoning application.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016Essentially The City of Burlington failed to consider the ADI application within a reasonable time so ADI took their case to the OMB and won. The questions our city, which seems hell bent on intensifying its downtown core at all costs, must now answer are:

Why was there “no decision” by council on the original ADI application, thereby forcing the appeal?

Was this an oversight, in which case shame on them?

Was this a deliberate tactic so that council gets a 26 storey building in line with the other 23 & 24 storey buildings on Brant St. and the 20-25 Waterfront Hotel Development on Lakeshore while hiding behind the developers and the OMB? In which case who are they to be trusted with the New Official Plan which they now tout as a saviour from developers.

The New Official Plan is just as open to amendments and appeals by developers and planners as the old plan and in fact by removing Brant St. from the Official Downtown Core in the New OP, and designating it a “Special Development Precinct” they may in fact leave it open to ever more amendment and modification resulting in more hi-rises.

When the city had the opportunities to control development in the downtown they either failed to decide, leaving the decision to the OMB or voted to amend their own plans allowing ever taller buildings. Their hand wringing and expressions of disappointment sound very hollow to the people of Burlington this morning.

Jim YoungJim Young, is a founding member of ECoB, the Engaged Citizens of Burlington

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Whose interests are being served with the comments section of the Gazette?

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2018


Revision were made to this story after its initial publication.  Some of the quotes were attributed to the wrong person.

We got a note from James Schofield, who tells us that he reads the Gazette and added that there was “a line in your piece on the code of contact that caught my eye.

Lancaster on bullying“Lancaster said that the incidences of harassment and intimidation have occurred both internally and externally and appear to be linked with the insurgence of social media, media, increased communication and participation with the public.

“It may be worth some reflection on the role the Gazette plays in relation to this.

“I’ve largely stopped commenting on your site. I won’t go as far as to say I’ve been harassed or intimidated, but I’ve certainly had my character and motives called into question and been the target of juvenile name-calling. Far from being a place for respectful dialog and an intellectual debate on issues and ideas, I find the Gazette’s comments are often replete with ad hominem arguments and those with entrenched ideas spewing vitriol at anyone who dares express an alternative point of view.

“So I just don’t bother trying anymore. And I suspect I’m not alone. I think that’s a problem, because as the moderate voices keep their heads down we lose out on a diversity of opinion, and the comment section increasingly becomes an echo chamber for those with a particular way of thinking.

“For example – how many commentators have written anything critical of ECoB? Or in support of council’s efforts to pass the Official Plan before the election? Even on something as banal as trying to make it easier to ride a bike around this city, few are willing to stick their necks out. Why poke the bear? Yet when I listen and talk to people in the community — many of them Gazette readers — I find a broad diversity of opinion on these matters. You’d never know it from reading the comments.

“I’m thankful you’re at least moderating comments — I can’t imagine how much junk you must filter out as it is. A real name (and ideally, validation of that name against a social media account) would be a good step. But I think the recognition that commenting on your site is a privilege, not a right, and certainly not a “free speech” right, is also important.”

We consistently have to tell people that we will not approve their comment.

In the back and forth email with Schofield we asked: Are we part of the problem? We wanted to be part of the solution.

Transit - unhappy customer

An angry old man or an unhappy transit customer?

Schofield said “I don’t know if you’re part of the problem or not. You’re at least serving a helpful role in providing some form of media coverage in a city otherwise devoid of it. But I feel there is a strong echo chamber effect, both in the comments, and in the editorial content you feature. “Aldershot resident thinks…” and the like tend to pull from the same streams of consciousness as your most frequent commentators. Can you do more to foster some diversity — both in ideology and in demographics? Can you find some female voices and some young people to complement your “angry old man has something to say” content?

Schofield makes an exceptionally good point – one that has bothered us for some time. There are some very very good comments – and boy is there ever a lot of crap that doesn’t see the light of day.  Our objective was to give people a place where their comments and ideas can be published and shared.

In the the past few days the comments on the cycling survey the city is running are a case in point. There are people on both sides who go at it day in and day out and make the same argument.

The New Street Road diet idea was a disaster in the way it was executed and I think that the views of those opposed it were part of what brought the city the point where they realized it had to be cancelled.

The idea never got a chance to have a true trial run – mostly because the city found that the road was continually under some form of construction.

New street - being rebuilt

The New Street Road Diet never got a chance to be fully tested. Poor execution on the part of the city and the Region and vociferous opposition from the car set doomed the idea.

Schofield said he did not want to “dwell on New Street but I largely agree with you. As one of the instigators of the whole saga I’ve learned a lot from the entire experience. I still think it was a sound idea, but poor execution, and a 2 km stretch that didn’t connect to anything useful on either end didn’t set it up for success. Lessons learned and we’re moving on.”

Part of the purpose of the comments section in the Gazette is for new information to come to the surface, a place where sound, rational ideas can be voiced and a place where a citizen can hold the politicians they elected to account and ensure that the bureaucrats actually serve the interests of public.

Related content:

Lancaster asks for an anti-bullying – harassment Task Force.

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Downtown resident responds to Councillor Sharman and his reasons for approving the 421 Brant Street 23 storey condo.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 11th, 2018



Deborah Ruse was one of the 34 people who delegated to city council when the committee decision was made to approve the development (a 5-2 vote for the project) of the 421 Brant Street 23 storey condominium opposite city hall.

During the discussion after her delegation Ms Ruse said she was not aware of any Councillors’ reasons for support of the project.  Councillor Sharman corrected Ms Ruse saying he had made his reasons public in his newsletter, and offered to send it to her.  After doing some research on the points Sharman made in his Newsletter Ruse responded.

“I have some comments on your newsletter regarding the approval of the 421 Brant Street project. I hope these thoughts can project the strong feelings from many people in the community regarding Council’s confusing approval of this project. Especially given the current Official Plan guidelines, and other new motions which have recently been passed, particularly:

Direct the Director of City Building to modify the building height permissions of the Downtown Core Precinct so that development shall:

i) have a maximum height of 12 storeys; or
ii) have a maximum height which shall not exceed 17 storeys, subject to a site-specific Zoning By-Law

Amendment, with additional storeys above that permitted in the Downtown Core Precinct being provided in accordance with the following:

1. one additional storey for every 150 sq m of dedicated office and/or employment floor space; or

2. one additional storey for every 8 publicly accessible parking spaces provided in an underground parking structure.

As far as I am aware, the 421 Brant St project offers neither of these gains, with only 8 visitor parking spots and actually less office or retail space than what is there now. Could you please provide me your thoughts on this?

Here are the Ruse comments on the point made by Sharman in his Newsletter.  Sharman is in bold; Ruse is in regular typeface.

421 BrantA number of residents said they simply want to keep Brant street the way it is. – No, actually most delegates and people posting comments online said they want Brant St to be developed in accordance with the current OP (4-12 stories), or even the new OP (up to 17 stories)

Yet a discussion that focuses on one location and on one measure (i.e. height) without giving sufficient consideration to other important and complex matters will cause much long term, serious problems in the City that Council is focused on trying to address. – Delegates were addressing the issue at hand, the over-development of 421 Brant. We’ll get to the other ones now that we will be more aware. But we thought that developments would move forward according to the Official Plan in place, so we didn’t know we would have such drastic deviations. And citizens can comprehend complex issues, given a full explanation and time. It will just take time for citizens to catch up to Staff and Council once they have full explanations, to understand all the details.

Clearly, the owners had a right to build something new on the site that would be larger in scale. – Yes they do, and the right to build something larger than what is there is 12 stories, as in the current Official Plan.

Site map

City hall is across the street from the site. Another development application has been filed for the property to the south on Brant (left of the red hash marked site) The properties to the right will feel development pressure – mist have already been assembled.

Clearly, the City had created a plan to encourage redevelopment of the site with something new and large. – The plan the City had created says 4-12 stories on this site – this could be considered large vs the existing 2 story building (up to 8x as high).

Staff had to negotiate with developers over what design characteristics would be acceptable. Clearly, height is one such concern, but there are others. These include “massing”, set-backs, shadowing, parking, design and others. – One wonders what sort of negotiation was held – how did ‘negotiations’ go from 12 stories in the Official Plan to 23? And what about affordable units, green space, public parking, retail or office space gains? From the final plan none of these areas will be delivered to the level they could or should have been.

This was a requirement from the Province, not a suggestion. – But this location was not a required location. Location was up to our city councilors to plan – like in Oakville. How can Oakville be in compliance with their only intensification around a single GO station, when Burlington has 3 GO stations to intensify near? And actually, the Mayor has stated that we are meeting our provincial density targets currently.

3d rendering intersection

3d rendering showing the intersection of Brant and James

They calculated the number of square feet of residential space that would have been allowed in the 12-storey block building and redistributed the floor space in a design that has a smaller street level foot print, with a four storey “podium”, on top of which they then proposed a 19-storey “slender” tower. This design would satisfy all legal requirements. It also meant the developer was required to reduce the total amount of floor space in the building by 25%, part of which meant including less commercial and less retail space in the first four floors – First, how was the total square footage calculated? Only one property has allowance for 12 stories; the other 4-5 properties assembled were allowed 4 stories or 8 stories with community benefits so if the 12-story limit was applied to the whole property, it would have been over-calculated. Second, what “legal requirements” are you referring to? And third, how was the 25% reduction of total floor space calculated? I do not see a calculation for this in the planning report. What are the actual numbers leading to this percentage? And less commercial and retail space works for the developer because they don’t have to own and lease that space, constantly overseeing the tenants/leases, etc. It is much easier to sell a condo once and be done. Could you please provide feedback to these questions?

Finally, the residents’ discussion became a debate about personal preferences and opinions about how something might look without taking into account all the other considerations. – The residents were not allowed a discussion, so it did not become a debate about personal preferences – a Councilor, and later the Mayor, ASKED each delegator what their personal preference was – delegator’s mostly focused on asking why the planning department deviated so completely from the OP.

a reasonable compromise. – Given the citizen backlash, many would beg to differ that this is a reasonable compromise.

Burlington home prices increased 73% in the last 4 years.-  Royal LePage data: The average house price in Burlington in 2014 was $502,000 and today it is $750,000 so about a 66% increase. This only includes detached homes. It may vary a little depending on what and where we include.

Our goal is to increase the availability of housing for the young and old that they can afford – let’s ask 25-39 year olds in Burlington if they can afford the condo prices set for these buildings. And even if these young people can afford these condos, they won’t be able to stay long if they want to raise a family as there are not enough two- and three-bedroom units since a larger unit is “not as profitable, per square foot as a small unit. Developers will cater to the more profitable market segment, even if there is a strong market interest for two- and three-bedroom units. But it’s not the job of [the] Planning [Department] to maximize the profit of developers. Developers will argue that two- and three-bedroom units are not viable, but it’s false. Economic analysis shows that two- and three-bedroom units can be less profitable than one-bedroom or studios, but that’s not the same as saying that they aren’t viable”. This quote is from Brent Toderian (article by David Roberts, VOX, June 21, 2017)

421 James street rendering

3d rendering of the 421 development from James Street with city hall in the background. The condominium entrance is to be on the James Street side.

The plan is to allow only 5% of Burlington land to increase in density, most of which will be less than 11 floors and that will be along Fairview St., Plains Rd. and some areas around plazas – So then why was 23 stories downtown presented and approval?

Most of the Brant Street height will occur close to Burlington GO. Even that will not be anything like Toronto or Mississauga where 50 floors is common. We expect the maximum to be in line with the buildings at Burlington GO station which are more like 25. – So there will be buildings taller than 23 stories near the GO? And the towers in Toronto and Mississauga that are 50 floors are on major arterial roads of 4-6 lanes, or the Gardiner Expressway, not a 2-lane street. And if most of the Brant St height will occur close to the GO station, then how did this lower Brant St development get approval in this height bracket? Again, such a drastic deviation from the OP begs the question.

Sharman - bullying meet Feb 5-2018

Councillor Paul Sharman

Some people think the precise number of floors in a building is more important than everything. I disagree. – So do most of the delegators who spoke. The issue the public has is with Staff and Council providing an approval that deviates so glaringly from the OP.

As proof that this concern is city-wide and goes deep, look at the online comments about the approval of the 421 Brant St project from just one article published on the inhalton website. “23-Storey Condo Approved for Downtown Burlington” (by Alan Kan, November 17, 2017).

Each entry is from a different reader, tough to ignore.

very sad;
what’s the use of having a city bylaw then approving this?;
terrible decision;
no affordable [units];
agree there is a place for high-rise development in our city, but it is not in our very compact downtown core;
sad to see this happen;
destroying the core of Burlington;
we are not Toronto or Vancouver;
thanks Burlington city council;
it is a freaking disaster;
very disappointed that council have gone against the wishes of most Burlington citizens;
this building is far too tall for our downtown;
barely any traffic control to begin with let alone room for more traffic to come in;
it’s a mess;
supposed to have geared to income rentals in there;
sold out to the developers;
council hands out exemptions to the building codes/bylaws like its Halloween candy;
this is terrible;
downtown is already ridiculously congested;
total disgrace!;
awful idea;
such a nightmare;
would like to know what council is thinking;
bad decision;
try to find a parking spot like the rest of us who struggle to find a spot;
councilors and builders just don’t listen to us;
yet another monstrosity;
the roads are already a nightmare;
gridlock down there now;
traffic is going to be insane;
I don’t think council cares;
we don’t need it and we don’t want it;
these councilors they are not speaking for the residents of Burlington;
this is a travesty;
please no;
it’s just becoming a corridor of condos;
very sad;
why are we trying to be like Toronto?;
awful decision;
horrible decision;
we aren’t Toronto;
hate it!!;
very disappointed;
not impressed;
major fail;
terrible decision;
they will never listen to the people;
very sad;
high rise cement jungle on Brant St;
more traffic is gonna be awful;
traffic is terrible already;
shorten it and then I will accept it;
traffic is a mess down there now;
horrible idea;
terrible decision;
terrible news;
thumbs down symbol;
I lived in Van .. hated the downtown core;
we aren’t Toronto!;
so very sad;
turning into Toronto;
hate it;
very sad;
what do I think? Not much!;
very sad;
just shaking my head;
we don’t need this;
traffic chaos;
shake up council;
terrible decision;
short sighted;
shame; absurd;
not great decision;
what a mistake!;
no; 3 thumbs down;
5 thumbs down;
this is an abomination.

Is Paul Sharman a member of city council who has lost the ability to hear what residents are saying and has decided to dig in his heals and maintain his position despite the considerable protest against too much height in the downtown core?

The public does have the opportunity to turf a politician that is not listening to them – at this point there is no one prepared to run against Paul Sharman in ward 5.

That is a fact the citizens are going to have to contend with.

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The pace of change is wicked. Beer and wine in the supermarket, cannabis at a corner store and now your transit card at the drug store where you can pick up the headache tablets and the Viagra you need to get through the week.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 9th, 2018



At some point it looks as if we are going to be able to get everything at one location.

Loblaws owns Shoppers Drug Mart, they also owe the citizens of Ontario a bit of cash for the price fixing they were doing for 14 years – but that is another story.

PRESTO Web Banner 2Shoppers Drug Mart is about to become the place where you can get your Presto transit card and have it loaded with the funds you need to get around town – when there is a transit service that will actually get you around town – but we digress.

Metrolinx, the people that operate the GO service – buses and trains – is entering into an agreement with the Presto service, that Burlington is required to use, that will provide some convenience for people who don’t manage their Presto card on line.


Wine and beer in supermarkets – can the hard stuff be far behind?

We can now purchase beer and wine in supermarkets. Cannabis is going to be sold in government operated retail outlets. The chance to get really stoned to celebrate the country’s 151st birthday has to be put on hold – the regulations for the selling of the weed won’t be in place in time.

cannabis retail outlet

Cannabis won’t be sold at independent retail outlets – it will in in a provincially operated retail outlet – where in Burlington has yet to be determined.

The politician who is overseeing the introduction of the public sale of cannabis is a former Toronto Chief of Police. The argument for having the government sell cannabis is to keep the business out of the hands of the criminals.

Get out of jail free card

Loblaws got to stay out of jail – we get a $25 gift card.

The people who sold us overpriced bread for 14 years have slipped around being found guilty because they confessed which got them one of those Get Out of Jail Free cards.

If Loblaws, which owns Shoppers Drug Mart, is going to be giving anyone who asks a $25 gift card – there must be some way for a citizen to have that $25 applied to their Presto card

Will there be a candidate for public office in Burlington making that their campaign platform

Interesting how the federal government can defer plans but Burlington can’t find a way to defer the approval of a new Official Plan when there are so many people opposed to the pace at which the plan is being put forward.

The late Jane Irwin once told city Council that Burlington is called BORINGTON by many people – wonder what dear Jane would say today?

Salt with Pepper is an opinion and observations  column written by the publisher of the Burlington Gazette

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Rivers: Is the growth in the American economy going to really mess up what the Ontario government has to do to keep inflation at bay?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 9th, 2018



“In the “old days,” when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!” (Donald Trump Twitter Feb 7, 2018 – 9:59 AM).

Gasoline on a fireBut it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire, sir.  The US was already near full employment when Trump came into office.  So when Trump’s tax reform bill cut corporate taxes bigly, the US stock market players scrambled over one another to buy up those corporate shares.  And that drove up the market to historic levels, that is, until somebody whispered the word…. inflation.

Some inflation is normal in an economy, though it can get seriously out of hand as it did in the 80’s and 90’s.   And the instrument of choice to slow it down has been the interest rate.  It’s a draconian solution and tough medicine, jacking up the cost of borrowing to the point where the economy borders on recession.  We’ve seen this movie before and it ain’t pretty.

While corporate tax cuts may have spurred market volatility, Trump’s middle class tax cuts are also of concern when it comes to inflation.  More money in the pockets of the folks who spend almost every penny of it will lead to greater demand for goods and services which in a tight labour economy means inflation.

Mr. Trudeau, in his first budget, in 2016, also cut taxes for the middle class.  But Canada’s economy back then was hovering around recession with little danger of inflation.  And it worked because today Canada has the fastest growing economy in the G7 with near full employment numbers, especially in Ontario.

Wall street

A hiccup there means an upset stomach here.

Still when Wall St. hickups, it is felt around the world.  So it’s now officially a correction (10% reduction in share values) and the hissy fit is over, but the volatility is still there.  And it’ll take more than Valium to chill out those traders who can smell what is coming, even if the US president doesn’t.

Expansionist policies in good times are as wrong-headed as austerity measures during recessions.  Instead of adding more money to the US economy as it steams into a wall, Trump should be cooling his jets – election promises not withstanding.  Either he does that or the US Federal Reserve will do it for him by raising the interest rates in due course.  And Canada will necessarily follow suit.

Rising interest rates will be painful for all us common folk holding serious debt or wanting to remortgage our homes.   But it also drives up the cost of borrowing for governments which have let their debt pile up over the years.   Canada’s federal government is already more than $700 billion in the red and we pay out about $25 billion annually in interest payments, about a third of that to foreign interests.

The Fraser Institute estimates that debt by all levels of government in Canada now exceeds a trillion dollars and the cost of interest alone is in in excess of $60 billion – roughly what is spent on all primary and secondary education in the country.

Here in Ontario the Wynne government balanced its budget last year, the first time since the 2008 recession, and is now forecasting surpluses and paying down the debt going into the future.  Of course that does not include the recent mortgaging of the electrical sector by crown corporation Ontario Power Generation, but that is another story.  Still, Ontario’s debt level now exceeds $300 billion with annual interest payments around $12 billion a year.

Caroline flip flops

Caroline Mulroney flips on her carbon policy – decides to go with the party line.

There is a provincial election coming and the currently leaderless Progressive Conservatives are still leading in the polls, despite the fact that their last leader had been forced to resign in disgrace. The party’s election platform had been approved by the membership policy conference late last year and it includes taking Ontario back into deficit territory for at least the first year, should they become government.

This platform has essentially adopted most of the current Liberal programs.  But it also includes a notional 22% cut in income taxes that was to be balanced, in part, by a $4 billion carbon tax.   The carbon tax, an alternative to Ontario’s current efficient and business friendly ‘cap-and-trade’ program would be modeled on the one implemented in B.C.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford was the first PC leadership candidate out of the gate – a significant threat to the Ontario we now have.

Doug Ford was the first leadership contender out of the gate, and his first campaign promise was to not impose the carbon tax.  The other two declared candidates at first indicated they’d stick with the platform as it was.  But they have now flip-flopped on the carbon tax, taking their lead from Ford and sidling up to his position.

So the questions are what else these wannabe leaders are prepared to rip out of their official election platform?  Do they even have a platform anymore?  Are they going to ask Ontario voters to put them into office with a whacking on-going $4 billion deficit?

And what will that mean for Ontario’s future budgets when interest rates climb making that debt even more expensive?  Will that mean the end of some hard-won health and social programs, such as the pharmaceutical-care plan for our children?  Or will we just be plunged back into never ending deficit spending?

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:

US Unemployment Rate –   Deficit by Country –     Business and Stock

Inflation by Year –     Market Panic –    More Market –      Even More

Republican Deficit –     More markets Canada –     Government Debt

Even More –     Ontario Balanced Budget–    PC Candidates


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Aldershot resident believes city council has betrayed the citizens of Burlington.

opinionandcommentBy Tony Schafer

February 8th, 2018


Having attended meetings of the ECOB, the mayor’s reverse Town Hall and the January 23, 2018 committee meeting, I get an overall sense that this Council has betrayed the citizens of Burlington.

You seek our support to get elected. We elect you because we believe you will represent our interests. We work with you to develop a vision of what we want our city to become in the future and this is reflected in the Official Plan (OP). You then embark on a history of deal-making with developers that ignores this plan and what was at one time our collective vision of the future.

The introduction by staff at the January 23 committee meeting included a detailed history of many meetings held to engage the citizens of Burlington in the development of a new OP. It seems you wanted to convince us that staff and Council had done everything it could to get our input. Unfortunately for us citizens, your feedback of the way this was playing out was poorly communicated and whether this was by accident or design we will never know.

Approval of the 23-storey building across from City Hall was a wakeup call that you had your own agenda, and that a new OP would have no more integrity with this Council than the last OP. That was the first time it became crystal clear to me that the vision of the future was being formed by a small cadre (with one exception) of omnipotent demigods we call Council.

Debby Morrison

Debby Morrison

Lisa delegation

Lisa Kierns – delegating.


Citizens – waiting to delegate.

The people of Burlington who have come forward in the debate on the new OP overwhelmingly oppose what you are doing. While this may not be a large enough sample to extrapolate this opposition to the entire population of Burlington, it should provoke you to give pause in this process and seek a new vote of confidence from the people to proceed.

In a February 1 article in the Burlington Post, the deputy City Manager is quoted as saying “by delaying the approval, Burlington would lose an opportunity to shape how growth and change in the city and downtown is going to occur”. Since we are talking about an OP that looks decades into the future, it is a huge stretch of credibility to believe that a delay of several months until after the municipal election will make any difference in how this plan unfolds.

If you truly believe that the majority of our citizens support your plan then you should have no concern with putting your belief to a test with an election.

On the other hand if you persist in ramming this unwanted OP down our throats, we can only hope that there will be a sufficient slate of new candidates in the fall election so that this Council, will be removed from office in a free and democratic vote, and replaced by elected officials who will work with the citizens of this community to develop an OP that truly represents a vision of the future that we can all buy into.


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Long time Burlington resident can remember when there was a strong citizen's association. Wants city council to slow down on OP approval.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Barnett

February 7th, 2018



City staff did a lot of hard work putting together Grow Bold, a draft of the new Operating Plan for the city. It now appears that they did most of their work without very much in the way of asking the citizens what they wanted in the city going forward before it was published. After it was published, they then began a number of initiatives to engage with the public to introduce the Mobility Hub concepts.

The presentations were primarily used to sell what was in the Plan, give outside pressure from other layers of government as justification for a number of the conclusions reached and to keep the time line for passage as short as possible.

Reverse town hall 1

Jim Barnett at Mayor Rick Goldring’s Reverse Town Hall.

With each passing week the citizenry became more concerned . While there were a number of meetings, there was almost no dialogue. Even in the Reverse Town Hall, a new term, dialogue was discouraged. The essence of Town Hall Meetings is to encourage dialogue!

Then the bombshell. 421 Brant went from 12 to 17 to 23 stories!

421 Brant

The 421 Brant project was a surprise to many – they weren’t aware of the development and stunned at the height approved.

At the last committee meeting on the subject there were over 30 delegations, more than 90 percent against the plan and its current amendments,


I suggest the following.

1. The bombshell woke people up to what was happening to their city and they did not like it.

2. The Plan has four Mobility Hubs. Yet the downtown is very different from the others on the Go Train line. The downtown should have its own set of criteria, its own set of restrictions in the precincts and its own name such as Historic District.

3. A Transportation plan in general and Transit in particular are not in the proposal. People realize that you have to get people in and out and around the area efficiently and needs to be part of the plan, not something that is done sometime in the future.

4. Parking in the downtown area is insufficient now. What will it be like with all the planned new construction. Increased parking ratios for residences, visitors and commercial units in this area need to be increased now.

5. Affordable housing in the area keeps being mentioned as a necessity by some yet they do not come forward with a method to accomplished this. This needs to be corrected.

6. The Plan will and its iterations will affect Burlington for a long time , 25 to 40 years. There is no reason to not take whatever time is necessary to get it right and get the majority of the citizens on side. The timing of the municipal election should not be the issue.


Planning department expects to bring an updated Official Plan to council for adoption.

7. A plan has numbers so one can measures progress and if necessary take corrective action suggested by actual results not meeting the plan. The current proposal is almost devoid of actionable numbers. This a major shortfall in the proposed “plan”. The current draft is more of an essay than a plan.

8. There has been a suggestion that a meeting be called, under the chair of a moderator, where say 10 representatives of council and staff and 10 from those who have delegated spend a day to try and find common ground. This appears to have great merit. Lets hope the Mayor encourages the dialogue.

9. Past practice is for the Planning Department to grant deviations on property if in their opinion ” community benefits” are derived. This practice should be greatly curtailed.

10. There needs to be a large dedicated food shopping area in the plan. Otherwise, a walk able downtown plan is not complete.

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through. Needs a hug badly.

Councillor Rick Craven – represents ward 1

11. The Councillor for ward one, at the council meeting on January 29, expressed his concern that there had been little feed back from the BIA or the Chamber of Commerce. I would think the planning department has an obligation to get submissions from both of these groups before proceeding. It should be noted that individual business delegations to council presented a number of short comings in the plan.

12. Joan Little, our columnist emeritus suggests that when the citizens and the developers are equally unhappy then council has it right. A better conclusion would be if everybody is annoyed, then there is a lot of work to be done.

In my opinion the process has been flawed. It is up to the council to take the time to get it right.

Jim Barnett is an east end Burlington resident who recalls the time when there was a strong citizens association.

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Comments on the cycling survey - are the right questions being asked?

News 100 greenBy Staff

February 6th, 2018



Joe Gaetan is a Burlington resident who lives in a high rise on Maple Avenue.

He cycles about 1,250 km a year in Burlington and another 250 km while vacationing in Palm Springs CA

Gaetan finds Palm Springs a much better place to cycle than Burlington, mainly because of their wider streets.

The Cycling survey is online.

He completed the online Cycling Plan survey and has some comments:


Do sharrows give a false sense of security?

“In terms of increasing the amount of cycling, I don’t believe there is much Burlington can do that will cause me to cycle more. But here are few things than could be considered when reaching out to us in surveys. I am not a big fan of cycling sharrows as I believe they give one a false sense of security and I go out of my way to avoid using streets that have sharrows.”

Here are some things/comments ideas etc. that impact cycling and could possibly be added to the survey.

Will this MAyor on this bike ever get to ride on a separate and safe bike lane on the LAkshore Road? Not if they MAyor folds at city council this evening.

Mayor Goldring on his bike, Councillor Dennison on roller blades – a photo op.

Cycling Frequency ( how often and how far)
Daily, weekly, kms. cycled per year etc
In which months do you cycle using check boxes Jan to Dec

Why I don’t cycle to certain destinations?
Fear of having bike stolen
Location and type of bike stands

Things I fear the most as a cyclist:
Distracted drivers
City buses
Pick-up trucks with large side mirrors
Young children suddenly crossing my path
Pedestrians with head phones

Cycling driver dooring a cyclist

Driver education.

Why do I cycle?

Things I would like to see
Bike licensing ($5 per person vs bike we have 4 bikes)
Mandatory lights and bells
A cycling awareness program to cyclists, pedestrians, motor vehicle owners
Something on electric bicycles

The city is well into the construction of the Elgin Promenade – a bike/walking path that runs from Brant to Martha and will connect with the Centennial Path.

Elgin promenade

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Bob Wilson: Grow Bold appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding downtown development, without justification.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 4th, 2018



On January 25, 2018 8:15 PM, Bob Wilson, a Burlington resident had questions and concerns about the planned Mobility hub for the Downtown core and the hub planned for the Burlington GO station. He sent in a question to Mailbox, Grow Bold, the city site where people could ask questions.

To: Mailbox, Grow Bold; Subject: Downtown Mobility Hub
“What changes are happening to the downtown core that will make the Mobility Hub there a viable traffic network hub for all the intensification that planners are encouraging there as opposed to north Brant which already has a network hub of size and scale in the form of the GO/VIA station?”

Phil Caldwell, Senior Planner, Mobility Hubs replied on Jan 30, 2018 3:17 PM
“Hi Bob,
“Thank you for your question.
“Metrolinx’s identification of areas as Mobility Hubs is intended to not only recognize areas with significant existing transit infrastructure and service, such as the Burlington GO station, but also to recognize areas which should be a focus for future planned transit improvements. As a key growth area for the City and Region and a location with major government and public services, Downtown Burlington is recognized as an area which should be a focus for future transit planning.

Mobility hubs

Some residents question the creation of a mobility hub on the downtown core.

“At the Provincial level, Metrolinx recently released a draft of their new Regional Transportation Plan which identifies future Provincial transit projects and improvements which are being planned up to 2041. This document identifies various projects which are intended to improve transit service in Downtown and throughout Burlington and the Region. This document can be viewed here: (a word search of ‘Burlington’ may help you find the most relevant sections of the plan with respect to your question).

“At the City, there are a few initiatives underway with respect to future transit planning in the Downtown:
“Firstly, the City’s proposed New Official Plan has introduced a new ‘Frequent Transit Corridor’ concept which identifies key corridors in the City which will be prioritized for frequent transit service in the future. Corridors leading into and out of Downtown, including Brant St, Maple Ave and New St are identified as Frequent Transit Corridors.

“A link to the proposed New Official Plan is provided here: (note Schedule B-2 of the Plan contains the Long-Term Frequent Transit Corridor Mapping).

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street – it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn’t have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

“Secondly, the City is currently developing an Area Specific Plan (also referred to as a Secondary Plan) specifically for the Downtown. Amongst many things, the plan is looking at a variety of transportation matters in the Downtown, including identifying ways to further promote and facilitate expanded transit use in the Downtown. Work on this is currently on-going. You can find out more about this project at

“I hope this helps answer your question. If you have any other questions please let me know.”

Bob Wilson responded on Feb 4, 2018 5:29 AM
“Thank you for the information.
Unfortunately, this did not answer my question on the Downtown Mobility Hub.

“The Metrolinx document makes no reference to downtown Burlington.
“Secondly, identifying routes is not my question. My question was about planned actions, not taxonomy.

“I am very concerned. Grow Bold appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding downtown development, without justification. Given the Official Plan (OP) policy of downtown intensification and the Provincial per hectare target, I would have expected an answer that outlines the infrastructure investment planned for the downtown hub.

“The Province has committed to investment to provincial and regional transit hubs and express corridors. The OP does not align with that, but instead makes s dangerous distracted focus to a Downtown that already lacks the infrastructure to support the growth.

“That is not “good planning”.

In a comment to the Gazette Wilson said: “City Planners have not thought this one out. Not only is the planned downtown intensification changing the character of the Downtown, (an area that should have a vision statement just like the greenfield areas have), but it lacks a complementary plan for the hub itself. This is in direct conflict with Metrolinx plans for GO station hubs and rapid transit corridors.

Metrolinx hub 1“Attached is what Metrolinx has stated hubs should achieve. City is nowhere close to that. Why are we being pushed towards a future commitment for the downtown that not only is not budgeted for, but would spend taxpayer dollars at the municipal level in direct competition to how taxpayer dollars are being invested by regional and provincial transportation authorities?

“Who is forcing this? It serves no objective other than that of private sector condo developers. Is that who runs City Hall?”

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