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: https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/collections/draft-plan (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: https://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/Official-Plan-Review.asp (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 www.Burlington.ca/mobilityhubs

“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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Rivers on the Progressive Conservative leadership race: 'Beware of the Doug'

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 2nd, 2018



What could be more conservative than Doug Ford announcing his candidacy for the leadership of the provincial party, live and direct from his mother’s basement? It’s called family values and if the Fords are anything, they are family. Doug’s father, also a Doug, was an MPP under the great Mike Harris, so Doug Jr. comes to his politics honestly.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford in his mother’s basement announcing his candidacy

Much as Justin Trudeau did, Mr. Ford is seeking to fulfill his destiny, ascending to the lofty political top rung which is his divine right. The divine right of the political elites. This is not new – it is how we practice what we like to call western democracy.


Ivanka Trump – Rivers sees her as a future US presidential candidate

South of the border there are the Bush boys, Ron and Rand Paul, the Kennedy clan and now the Donald Drumpf dynasty with Ivanka Trump lining up to become the first woman president of that country.

Back in the great white north we made Paul Martin’s son, also Paul, our 21st PM. Jack Layton’s great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a Father of Confederation. His grandfather Gilbert was a Quebec cabinet minister, his father Robert was a federal cabinet minister, his son Mike is a Toronto Councillor and his widow, Olivia Chow, was a companion MP and an also-ran just behind Doug Ford in the last election for mayor of Canada’s largest city.

Dominic Leblanc followed his father Romeo into the federal House. Then there is John Clement and his stepson Tony. Joe and his son Robert Ghiz were PEI premiers. Quebec’s premiering Daniel Johnson was succeeded by sons, Pierre-Marc and Daniel. Of course there was David and Stephen Lewis; James and Peter Lougheed; Elmer and Peter MacKay; Ernest and Preston Manning; Harry and Robert Nixon; Grant and Rachel Notley; and Jim, David and Tim Peterson, and their sister Deb Matthews.

Elliott PC

Christine Elliot, came in second when Patrick Brown won the PC leadership.

More relevant to the PC leadership race there was the husband and wife team of Jim Flaherty and Christine Elliot. Elliot got her comeuppance running for leadership last time and was beaten by the now disgraced Patrick Brown – though there is still suspicion about how he won. And while the particulars of Brown’s departure are still pretty much of a mystery, it’s looking more and more like an inside job. Somebody or a lot of somebodies wanted him out.

No sooner had Brown left the building but his party president Rick Dykstra was also shown the door – something to do with sexual misadventures during his time with the federal party. And that has dragged the federal Tories into this mess as well.


Caroline Mulroney – no political experience; with a name like that does she need it?

Caroline Mulroney is at least a new face. And the sins of the father are not necessarily those of the daughter. But anyone who read Stevie Cameron’s ‘On The Take’ will be swallowing hard before voting for her just because of that name. Mulroney may have been a success in the business world but she can’t help but come across as an opportunistic carpet bagger, and hardly the savior to restore respectability to a party heavily mired in scandal and in-fighting.

Doug Ford was the first candidate out of the gate. Despite his own royal blood, he claims to want to represent the real Tories, the grass roots crowd – as opposed to the elites. But it really depends on how one defines elites. He may not be the brightest star in Tory heaven but nobody should count him out. He ran a close second to John Tory in the last mayoralty race, losing by only 60,000 votes in a very competitive race.

His brother Rob was loved by his followers and Doug was his puppet master, except for the crazy drug and alcohol-induced incidents, which Rob needed no help in orchestrating all on his own. So Doug can count on the full support of ‘Ford Nation’ in this race. And he knows a thing or two about business, successfully operating and expanding the label company his father started and bequeathed him.

And his entrepreneurial acumen runs deep into his more youthful days when he was reportedly a major player in Toronto’s drug scene. And that is exactly the kind of experience this province needs as it prepares to introduce legalized marijuana to the public. He might even still have his list of contacts and suppliers, who knows? He has been accused of hanging out with some pretty unsavoury criminal characters as well – hey but friends are friends.

Ford continues to deny this part of his history despite all the evidence the media has uncovered about his past as a hash supplier, and we’re not talking corned beef. But today Doug, like his brother before him, preaches law and order, tough love for all the criminals and crooks. He comes from the Mike Harris school of cutting taxes for the wealthy, privatizing public services, gutting social services, and cutting red tape.

Elliot and Mulroney have just announced they too are in the race. There may be a couple more wannabe’s announcing before the February 16th deadline and that will make it an even more interesting and exciting donkey race. But the voting will be by over before March 10th when the new PC leader will be announced.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the hearings into the gas plant cancellations at Queen's Park in Toronto on December 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

When the Tories have figured out who is going to lead them in the June 7th provincial election – this is the candidate they are going to have to beat.

Ford has also announced that he is dropping his bid to run again in this year’s municipal elections against John Tory. And that makes sense since running against Tory, a former leader of the Ontario Tory party – and with a name like that to boot – would be strategically unwise. He doesn’t need to alienate any more conservatives than he already has.

Even so, it’s unlikely John Tory will be doing much to support him in the leadership race or even in the provincial election should he become leader. Hearing how Ford had announced his candidacy, Tory couldn’t resist quipping that he’d love to follow the Ford method of announcing his own candidacy, but his Mom lives in an apartment.

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:

Canadian Political Families –   Doug Ford –    Dykstra

On the Take –    More Ford –    Even More Ford

Even More of Ford –    Ford Family History –    Defence of Ford’s History

Ford’s Basement

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Rick Goldring’s road to good intentions.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 1, 2018



The Gazette has published the full State of the City address the Mayor gave to the city’s business leaders. We did so for the record – the document is there for anyone who wants to search the archives.

During the address the Mayor touched on several topics that are sensitive and disturbing to many residents – especially those in the downtown core.

Mayor Goldring said:

“Building a beautiful and vibrant Burlington is a never-ending marathon. There are always many hurdles to cross as the city will be around much longer than any of us.

Public Engagement is a critical piece of the decision making process for municipalities.

Goldring reverse town hall

Mayor during his Reverse Town Hall meeting – it was a bold move and it was clear that he did hear what the residents had to say.

The City of Burlington was named the Organization of the Year by the International Association for Public Participation for applying the “Community Engagement Charter” adopted in 2013. It recognizes our mandate to consult and engage with residents in all matters.

As one judge put it “Employees now ask how to engage — not whether we should or not”.

As I look forward to our continued progress with public engagement, I am inspired by a 2017 lecture given by Bret Stephens of the New York Times to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia titled ‘The Dying Art of Disagreement’.

He suggests that we may be failing in how we deal with disagreement and that disagreement is critical to a decent society.

I want residents to know that Council recognizes the importance of accommodating differences on the many issues that we face as a city. The view is shared that “every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.”

To be successful, I am drawn to some simple advice from Bret Stephens of the New York Times that reads

“To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, and watch closely. You need to grant people with alternate views moral respect; give people the intellectual benefit of the doubt; have sympathy for people’s motives and participate emphatically with a different line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded by what has been said.”

We will continue to develop and improve how we connect with residents and engage our community and support discussions around issues with strongly held viewpoints – that is democracy.

The Gazette has followed the growth, and the lack of it on occasion, of Rick Goldring. The quote he refers to is something we dearly wish he has used during his Reverse Town Hall and when he was trying to get the audience listening to council debate the changes that will be part of the new Official Plan that has many very disturbed.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015 - hand outWe have seen this before in our Mayor – he comes across something that appeals to him and makes mention of it but he doesn’t seem to absorb what he has read.

There are a couple of thousand people who will scoff when the Mayor says he listens.

He means well – he truly does but that proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Burlington Gazette publisher.

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Rick Golding's eighth State of the City address to Burlington's business leaders.

News 100 yellowBy Rick Goldring

February 1st, 2018


The Gazette has published all but one of the eight State of the City addresses. Links to those addresses are set out at the end of this unedited address.


The ward four debate gave Rick Goldring a lot to think about - he was never challenged like this when he ran for the office of Mayor in 2010

Rick Goldring during a 2014 election debate.

Good morning everyone. I would like to offer a warm welcome to the annual Mayor’s State of the City Address.

Thank you all very much for joining me this morning. It means a lot to have so many people here.

I would like to recognize the Burlington Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event, as they have done for many decades.

In particular, thank you to Keith Hoey and his team, Marty Staz and the board of directors, along with the volunteers and membership. Together, you facilitate many different programs and events throughout the year that helps bring the community together and build relationships that are essential to the prosperity of business in Burlington.

And thank you to all of today’s sponsors.

Congratulations to Bell for another successful “Bell Let’s Talk Day”. Your efforts since 2010 are making a significant impact in de-stigmatizing mental illness.

Before I commence my remarks, I do want to comment on the format this year.

In preparation for this year’s state of the city address, I took a look at last year’s event and watched and listened to myself for the full 45 minute speech. That was very hard work. My team and I decided to break up the long winded 45 minute speech by shortening the formal speech and then breaking into an interview with Tim Caddigan, Senior Director of Programming from Cogeco asking me some questions which will include questions from a few of you who are here this morning.

You all have a question card at your table. If you could please use it to write down your questions; there will be staff going around collecting these cards right after my speech, during a video presentation.

My colleagues from Burlington City Council are with us today. I am proud to work alongside these men and women who are deeply committed to our city.

Please welcome councillors Rick Craven, Marianne Meed Ward, John Taylor, Jack Dennison, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster.

Our City Manager James Ridge is here, along with many staff from the city today. I am proud of the dedicated, competent and caring staff working effectively every day to make this city the best it can be.

I am very pleased to welcome our regional Chair Gary Carr, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette and Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. It is great working with you as we build strong communities and a prosperous region at Halton Regional Council.

It is a privilege and an honour to serve as Mayor of Burlington.

Each day I reflect on how grateful I am for everything that I have in my life. I am thankful for the education I have had growing up in Burlington.

I am thankful for my family, especially my wife Cheryl who is here with me this morning.

I firmly believe that we should all be grateful for where we live, whether it is Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills or Hamilton. These are all great communities.

Now I have been inclusive and respectful of our neighbouring municipalities, I am going to focus on Burlington!

Best Mid-Sized City in Canada

If you haven’t heard, MoneySense Magazine has recognized Burlington as the best mid-sized city in Canada five years in a row.

We are the safest region in Canada. Burlington alone saw a thirty-one percent drop in crime over the last five years.

We have a healthy and resilient economy. Last year, our city added over twelve hundred jobs, an increase of eighty-eight percent year over year.

We continue to maintain a higher than average percentage of jobs to population ratio. We have the highest ratio in Halton Region, even higher than Waterloo Region or the cities of Markham, Brantford and Hamilton.

A significant number of Burlington families are financially stable.The latest census data shows that Burlington has an average household income that is twenty-five percent greater than the provincial average.

Our unemployment rate nationally is lowest it has been in forty years at five-point-seven- per cent and our local unemployment rate is a percent below that at four-point-six per cent.

Our residents are well educated. Seventy-three per cent of us have post-secondary education and the average rate of residents holding a University degree in Burlington is higher than the provincial average.

We live longer. The life expectancy in Halton Region is about seven to eight per cent longer than that of provincial average. We don’t just live longer; we live longer with lower incidences of morbidity – the incidence of disease and illness – than the provincial average.

The percentage of Burlington residents whose income is below the Low-Income threshold is five-point seven per cent versus the province as a whole at nine-point-eight per cent.

Despite the fact that Burlington is flourishing overall we need to recognize that there are people in our community who are struggling. No city is immune to social issues like mental illness, addiction, accessibility, isolation, women and children abuse, unemployment, underemployment and poverty, including some of our youth and seniors and many others.

We are fortunate that in addition to the great work being done through Halton Social Services and Housing, there are not-for-profit agencies, service clubs and faith communities that reach out and fill some of the voids.

Burlington Economic Development Corporation

In 2017, we saw significant growth in Burlington’s economy. On top of adding over twelve hundred jobs, we saw a significant reduction in the Burlington Office vacancy rate.

Some of the new companies we welcomed to Burlington include Amec Foster Wheeler, an international energy and industrial company, A-Z-X sport, a promotional products manufacturer and distributor and Cardon Rehab, an innovator in the physical therapy equipment business.

2017 was a year of expanding the supports available to support businesses to innovate and grow in Burlington.

Crossroads Media Centre is an example of this, it was recently acquired by a private investor. In the coming months, the Centre will transform to become a multi-use facility offering state-of-the-art television studios and digital media facilities.

The Halton Hive, Burlington’s first co-working space and business centre for entrepreneurs, startups, and digital content creators, has relocated to the Centre and will be integral to the re-imagining of the space and the growth of a vibrant community of complementary businesses. This is an exciting development for Burlington and Halton Region, with more announcements to follow soon.

Last year, when I stood before you for the 2017 State Of The City address, I announced the signing of a lease for Burlington’s Innovation Centre, TechPlace just around the corner at 5500 North Service Road and a few months later in June, the doors were open, and they were in business.

Today, I’m excited to tell you how TechPlace has thrived beyond our expectations.

First, I want to share with you how TechPlace came to be. In a 2016 report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce identified a critical gap in Canada’s business growth strategy. Forty per cent of new jobs in Canada come from companies less than five years old, but they failed short of growing into large organizations.

It was clear that in Burlington we needed to do our part by nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. Not just in Burlington but the GTA west region leveraging relationships within Halton and Hamilton. After all, the business community does not look at municipal boundaries, they look at regional markets.

Today, TechPlace is operating at full capacity with businesses on a waitlist.

Innovative technology companies from Dubai, Finland, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga and Burlington have been accepted into TechPlace’s Launch Pad program and are thriving in their new environment.

For example, in October, representatives from BEDC met with a company named Orfer – A leading robotics manufacturing and robot automation company based out of Finland. Orfer was looking to establish a North American headquarters, and the company had met with many municipalities across the GTHA. After just one meeting with the BEDC team, Orfer decided TechPlace was the new home for their soft landing. And Burlington is the place for their new North American headquarters.

Service Path is yet another success story. This company helps organizations automate their sales processes and reduce the time to quote for complex services. This industry that didn’t exist ten years ago is now a forty-two billion dollar industry. Since settling into TechPlace, the company has hired more staff and is looking to expand within Burlington.

This is precisely the kind of activity we anticipated. Fostering new partnerships within the startup ecosystem and creating a destination for new and growing technology companies to tap into new ideas provides opportunities to network and collaborate.

I want to congratulate everyone at the BEDC for the success of TechPlace. TechPlace is helping to put Burlington and the whole GTA west on the map as a centre for entrepreneurship and innovation.

The BEDC has also been working with key stakeholders to make sure that we have the land we need to attract businesses to Burlington.

In order to support the City’s strategic plan to be a City that Grows, Burlington must make the shift from Greenfield development to redevelopment, intensification and the creation of mixed-use amenity rich employment hubs that meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s employers.

We have over one million square feet of land in the development pipeline that will head to the market.

This means one million square feet of land, ready for new industrial, commercial and institutional spaces in Burlington. Having these spaces ready for businesses looking to locate, expand or start-up in Burlington is an important value-add, to the site selection process.

To attract innovative and prosperous businesses and people to our city, the focus will be on developing and leveraging a strong brand that positions Burlington as a highly attractive business location and a place to call home.

Evolving City

Burlington City Council is in the process of finalizing a new Official Plan for the City that is set to see approval in the spring.

There is nothing simple or easy about where we are as a city.

When you pave over farmer’s fields for suburban sprawl; it is relatively easy to take out a piece of paper and plan where roads, parks, schools, retail stores and homes are built. I contrast that with the redevelopment of existing underutilized areas.

Our draft plan outlines the areas where we will grow.

Fifty per cent of Burlington’s one-hundred and eighty-five square kilometres is protected from development. This area includes much of North Aldershot and the area north of the Dundas – 407 corridor that includes Mount Nemo, Kilbride and Lowville. The vast majority of people we talk to want to keep it that way.

Thirty-four per cent of our city is traditional neighbourhoods and it is critically important that we maintain the character and integrity of those neighbourhoods.

Eleven per cent of the city is our employment lands primarily around the QEW-403 corridor. These lands are crucial to our current and future economy and work force providing a variety of career opportunities for Burlington residents.

The remaining five per cent of the city includes the areas around our three GO Stations and our downtown. These are identified for most of the increased population and corresponding job growth.

After decades of Greenfield development of traditional single-family home neighbourhoods, we are now in essence built out.

This is reflected in the 2016 census data that shows Burlington having the lowest population growth in over fifty years.

Between 2011 and 2016, we grew from 176,000 people to 183,000, which works out to an annual growth rate of around point-eight per cent and the vast majority of this increase occurred in the North East part of the city. Excluding this area of the city, our annual growth rate is only point four per cent.

We know that most cities grow over time – this is just natural – but the question is often asked. “How much should we grow by?”

The Conference Board of Canada states a growth rate of one-point-one per cent is optimal and suggests a higher rate if there is a disproportionate seniors’ population.

Why will Burlington’s population increase?

Some of the reason for this is that we are mandated to grow by the province. We know that primarily because of immigration, the population of the GTHA will grow from seven million to ten million people by 2041.

We know that Halton Region will grow from 550,000 people to one million. While Burlington’s 2031 target is quite modest, the 2041 target will be defined in 2019 at Halton Region.

Our Proposed New Official Plan is for the next twenty-five years and beyond.

A stable and growing economy requires a core working age population. Communities with no growth cannot sustain a strong economy as the workforce ages.

Canada is addressing declining birthrates through immigration, and cities must also grow their population to remain economically vital and sustainable. Too little growth constrains the economy; too rapid growth stresses services and infrastructure.

We need to continue to create as much variety in our housing stock as possible and housing will take on different forms that are no longer the traditional detached dwelling.

We will provide opportunities for ageing baby boomers to downsize. It’s critical that the housing supply is increased – to improve affordability for younger residents and so that families are not priced out of our traditional and new neighbourhoods.

Without reasonable growth in our housing stock, real estate prices will increase even more than they are currently and the pressure on school enrollment will be unabated.

Our vision for the areas around our three GO Stations will provide Burlington residents with the benefits of walkable neighbourhoods.

The Aldershot Mobility Hub area is already seeing development. As more people move into the area, there will be an increase in jobs, amenities, stores, restaurants and pubs that everybody can find value from.

And this growth can help lead to that grocery store in the west end that many people have been asking for.

Residents will have access to all day fifteen-minute GO Train Service within seven years and sooner than that we will see fifteen-minutes all-day service provided by Burlington Transit along the Plains Road and Fairview Street Corridor.

And with more people living in the downtown, current businesses will thrive and new businesses such as stores, restaurants and other services will be attracted to move to the downtown.

When I ask people what they like about living or working in the downtown; invariably the answer is “You can walk everywhere.”

You can walk along our waterfront, to the Burlington Performing Art Centre, to the Art Gallery of Burlington and to the new Joseph Brant Museum when it opens as well as to stores, restaurants and cafes.

It’s exciting to think that new developments will have car share and bike share programs. This will result in some residents making the shift and choosing not to have a car or reducing multiple car ownership because they can walk, cycle or take transit for the vast majority of their trips. And, if needed, they can use the car share program for long distance trips or to make larger purchases that don’t happen on a regular basis.

This type of lifestyle is healthier and reduces the carbon footprint. We know this isn’t a lifestyle that will work for everyone, but in time, it will be desirable to many.

Deciding how Burlington will evolve isn’t just about new buildings and where they will go.

We are making an improved commitment to ensure that new development will be architecturally attractive and unique, with a great feel for pedestrians on the street. By doing this, we will be proud of how our city looks and continues to grow.

A publication titled “Intensification: what it is and what it promises” on Neptis Foundation website said this about intensification.

“Intensification is promoted as a way to achieve several benefits.

First, if population growth can be accommodated at higher densities, or within existing urban areas, or both, less Greenfield land will be required for new housing.

Second, research shows that when density increases beyond a certain level, automobile use declines in favour of transit, walking and cycling.

Third, where surplus infrastructure capacity exists in urbanized areas, adding more people to these areas make more efficient use of public urban infrastructure such as water and sewer pipes, as well as soft infrastructures including schools and social services.

In short, development in already urbanized areas plays to the city’s strengths rather than spreading its resources over an ever-wider territory.”

Public Engagement

Building a beautiful and vibrant Burlington is a never-ending marathon. There are always many hurdles to cross as the city will be around much longer than any of us.

Public Engagement is a critical piece of the decision making process for municipalities.

The City of Burlington was named the Organization of the Year by the International Association for Public Participation for applying the “Community Engagement Charter” adopted in 2013. It recognizes our mandate to consult and engage with residents in all matters.

As one judge put it “Employees now ask how to engage — not whether we should or not”.

As I look forward to our continued progress with public engagement, I am inspired by a 2017 lecture given by Bret Stephens of the New York Times to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia titled ‘The Dying Art of Disagreement’.

He suggests that we may be failing in how we deal with disagreement and that disagreement is critical to a decent society.

I want residents to know that Council recognizes the importance of accommodating differences on the many issues that we face as a city. The view is shared that “every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.”

To be successful, I am drawn to some simple advice from Bret Stephens of the New York Times that reads

“To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, and watch closely. You need to grant people with alternate views moral respect; give people the intellectual benefit of the doubt; have sympathy for people’s motives and participate emphatically with a different line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded by what has been said.”

We will continue to develop and improve how we connect with residents and engage our community and support discussions around issues with strongly held viewpoints – that is democracy.


In order to build a great city, you need to have great support and great partnerships.

We are fortunate to have that with our federal and provincial representatives.

Last year, we received over eleven million dollars from the Federal and Provincial governments through funding applications for various city projects.

Six million dollars of that was for the Joseph Brant Museum Expansion, which allowed us to break ground for the work that has begun this winter.

Once completed, the museum will expand from the current five thousand square feet to seventeen thousand square feet of barrier free space for gallery displays, interactive programming, the storage of collections and community outreach.

It will also become a destination and a beautiful addition to our waterfront.

We also partnered with the Province of Ontario, the City of Hamilton, Mohawk College and Sustainable Hamilton Burlington to launch the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College last year.

The centre is the first of its kind at an Ontario college and will help accelerate the region’s transition to a low-carbon economy and support Burlington’s Community Energy Plan, which has already made a significant impact in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The partnerships we build with our neighbouring cities and the different orders of government are crucial to the success of Burlington.

As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”

Connected City

I mentioned earlier that Halton residents have a higher life expectancy than the rest of the province and the country.

I believe a major contributing factor is the opportunities in Burlington to be mentally and physically active, to be engaged and to build relationships that result in a sense of belonging within our community.

2017 was a banner year for community building and togetherness in Burlington.

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the city initiated a goal of reaching one-hundred and fifty Love My Hood events. The program was designed to build a healthier Burlington by engaging and empowering residents to come together and host events celebrating their neighbourhoods.

I’m happy to say we surpassed our goal of one-hundred and fifty with one-hundred and fifty-eight Love My Hood events.

This initiative attracted residents of all ages. We had a fourteen-year-old boy who hosted a block party that brought one-hundred neighbours together.

You’re never too young to make an impact and initiate change in our city. Last summer, we opened up a brand new playground at the Bolus Parkette in the Aldershot community.This park was designed by local kids and built by the community members. The playground has created a place for culture and community activities to thrive and has provided a positive sense of place, inclusivity and community.

A special thanks to the McNally Foundation for their tremendous financial support not just for the playground but also the journey that got us there.

In August last year, the new Michael Lee Chin and family patient tower opened which is a major milestone in the redevelopment of Joseph Brant Hospital. The renovations to the original tower of the hospital will continue this year.

This past November, Burlington’s Carpenter Hospice broke ground on a significant capital redevelopment that will see the construction of a new state-of-the-art resident wing and a new wellness outreach centre that will extend the Carpenter Hospice care into the community.

I am proud to say that I am the Honorary Chair of the capital campaign for the Carpenter Hospice’s Making Room Redevelopment Project.

Thanks to the generous contributions from donors over the last decade, Carpenter Hospice has over three million dollars saved, and now it’s up to us, the community, to raise three million dollars more to reach the goal of six million.

I know I can count on the support and generosity of residents and businesses in our city to make this happen because when there is a need, our community comes together like no other.

Ladies and gentleman, these are just some of the reasons why Burlington continues to be the best mid-sized city in Canada.

This concludes my formal remarks. While Tim Caddigan and I get comfortable on the chairs, please turn your attention to the video.


Previous State of the City addresses:

State of the City 2011
State of the City 2012
State of the City 2013
State of the city 2015

State of the City 2016

State of the City 2017

The Gazette has published all but one of the eight State of the City addresses. 

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OPINION: Not a hope of replacing this city council unless people step up and run for office.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2018


Being heard or getting a new council

A Gazette reader commented:

“In a democracy the number of votes really count. If people want the Official Plan then the councilors who feel it is a good thing will be voted in again.

“If people don’t want the Official Plan and are dead set against changing Burlington into another Mississauga, Toronto, etc., then they will not be voted in again and we’ll see what a new group of councillors come up with.

“It will all be in the hands of the voters.”

True – but not completely true.

council 100x100The number of votes does count – providing there is a choice of candidates.

Nominations don’t open until May 1st but Mayor Goldring and Mike Wallace have made it known that they are both going after the same job.

Incumbents have such an advantage especially those who have been sitting on council for more than 15 years.

Anyone expecting to be elected has to begin to develop a profile – and that isn’t hard to do – you aren’t allowed to spend any money but meeting people is not hard to do.

Votes count – when there is a clear choice.

If good candidates don’t come forward and make a choice possible the current council will get returned – the people of Burlington let that happen in 2014. The writing was on the wall in a close reading of the Strategic Plan.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

Strategic Plan

How many votes did the current council get

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Gaetan gives his take on that 'as expected' city council vote.

opinionandcommentBy Joe Gaetan

January 31st, 2018



Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Rick Goldring as he appeared on a Christmas card.

“The Vote is as expected”, said Mayor Goldring affirming that the Official Plan will not be delayed until after the fall election. The Mayor’s words underscored the vote of six members of council not to defer the adoption of a new plan.

The lone vote to defer the plan was cast by Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. But before that, all council members had an opportunity to say why they voted “as expected”; here is my take on what was said.

As a Standing Committee chair, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is as good as it gets. Handling delegations and accepting the ideas of other people - not as good. But he wins elections.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven

Councillor Rick Craven was adamant in his belief that 34 out of 35 delegators, or in his words the “200 angry people” who were opposed to the Official Plan were not going to sway him because he cares and does listen, and that the Burlington downtown has to take its share of intensification. During the 2014 election 4,772 voters gave Mr. Craven the right to vote as he did.

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

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster.

Councillor Blair Lancaster also made the point that she cares and listens and took the time to ponder her decision, but that council sets the policy which is what they were elected to do. During the 2014 election 2,087 voters gave her the right to vote as she did.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Paul Sharman said the vote was not about today but about our city 50-70 years from now, he also stated we are kidding ourselves about affordable housing and that he was looking forward to running on this issue in the fall election. During the 2014 election 3,935 votes gave Mr. Sharman the right to vote as he did.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison Councillor Ward 4

Council Jack Dennison stated we need the “assessment growth” (aka taxation revenue), there was “no news in this Official Plan”, that they had to vote as they did and not because “of the 200-people” standing in front of us. During the 2014 election 5,401 voters gave Mr. Dennison the right to vote the way he did.

The Dean of Burlington Council members, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor fights for what he beleives in. One of the things he wants is more openess and more transparency. He didn't get it this time out.

The Dean of Burlington Council, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

Councillor John Taylor opined on the fact Burlington has run out of greenspace, that we need to grow as a city and that we need to start intensifying south of the QEW. During the 2014 election 2,977 voters gave him the right to vote a she did.

Meed Ward H&S

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, cast the lone vote to defer the adoption of a new Official Plan April 4th.

Councillor Meed Ward made several attempts to sway the vote, asking council to put the Official Plan “to a test of democracy”, that citizens had been given little time to review parts of the plan, that citizens only learned about some aspects of the plan in November, that the changes were not minor. During the 2014 election 4,654 voters gave Ms. Meed Ward the right to vote as she did.

Mayor Goldring stated he did not believe there is any benefit to deferring the OP, that there had been tremendous dialogue and good discussion on the  Official Plan  and that OP’s were never perfect, that there was no benefit to deferring, as it would not represent leadership and that council had to finish what it started.

During the 2014, 36,237 voters gave Mr. Goldring the right to vote as he did.

According to Deputy City Manager, Mary Lou Tanner, the citizens have four more opportunities to weigh in on the Official Plan, not that it will make much difference where our downtown is concerned. Why? The fate and future of the downtown was sealed on Monday January 25 by the “Expected vote”.

It appears that the majority of council believe, the voices of 35 delegators have no weight in this matter, are not representative of the majority of Burlington voters, and that they were fairly elected to vote as they did on this and other matters that come before council.

Joseph GaetanJoe Gaetan attended and delegated at the meeting of January 23,2018, and attended the Council meeting of January 29,2018. While a resident of Ward 2 in a Tall Building, he does not live downtown.

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Using taxpayer money to promote a pet project.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 29th, 2018



The federal government runs a program called Canada Summer Jobs, an effort to assist unemployed students get summer work and income. This program, which has been going for a while, is largely administered locally through the MPs’ offices on the basis of some fairly open-ended funding criteria.

Over last five Harper years about $3.5 million dollars were handed out to anti-abortion groups, such as Campaign Life Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR).

Abortion truck

In Calgary, Canada, there is a pro-life group, The Canadian Centre For Bio Ethical Reform, that drives around a truck with the images of a post-abortion fetus on the side.

The latter, CCBR, is best known for distributing obscene and disgusting images and literature in the hope that the visceral images would shock Canadians and convert them to support ending a woman’s right to choose. The federal money paid for household leaflet drops and obscene posters placed on the sides of city buses in the organization’s base town of Calgary.

Canadian policy is very clear on this matter. The criminal code has only always defined life as beginning at birth, not at conception nor when one forgets to purchase a package of condoms for a romantic evening. Still, ever since former PM Kim Campbell ended the national debate on abortion almost a quarter century ago, there has been an ongoing campaign among the folks who aren’t happy with the status quo. But while these dissidents have continued their campaigns unabated, the rest of the country has grown to become overwhelmingly supportive of the right to choose, particularly among those women in their child bearing years.

Harper in chair - Star photo

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper may have personally been opposed to a woman’s right to choose, and he did cancel funding for Canadian organizations providing family planning in developing nations. Yet, even he resisted re-opening the abortion issue in this country, in fact actively discouraging the zealots in his caucus from bringing the subject up.

Last year the Trudeau government refused to allow these anti-choice organizations to use federal money to distribute their propaganda. And this year (2018) the government has firmed that up with specific criteria – “The government recognizes that women’s rights are human rights. This includes sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions. These rights are at the core of the Government of Canada’s foreign and domestic policies.”

Abortion Trudeau positionAs expected the government has come under fire from the anti-abortion crowd claiming their constitutional right to freedom of expression and/or freedom of religion is being violated. But of course that is nonsense. They are welcome to express themselves but just not on the taxpayer’s nickel.

And abortion is not a religious matter. The term doesn’t even appear in any of the scriptures. Quite likely creationist evangelists just missed this little piece from their favourite book. Genesis 2:7 (New International Version) – Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Life begins at birth.

Neither the pronouncements of the Catholic Church on this subject, nor the chattering of the disparate evangelicals makes this a matter of conscience except for those directly involved – the woman and her doctor. And while the Prime Minister has been unequivocal in his protection for the rights of women, that is not the case for his primary opponent, federal Tory leader Andrew Scheer. Scheer has not been supportive of the right to choose, and he would reverse the government’s decision and allow anti-abortionist groups to use federal money to promote their cause.

Scheer shared a place in Harper’s caucus with the prominent former MP, Patrick Brown. Brown also represented the so-called religious-right, and the wedge issues of opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. But then after winning the leadership of the Ontario PCs, Brown had an epiphany and disowned his past political life. He grew the party’s membership, put together a progressive popular platform, and brought his poll numbers up into the majority range.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown giving a press conference hours before he resigned as Leader of the Provincial Opposition.

Unfortunately the other side of his past political life came back to bite him when two women he knew back in his MP days came to cry out about sexual impropriety. If the claims are true wouldn’t that be the height of religious hypocrisy – claiming piety but acting like pig?

There are a couple of wild conspiracy theories to Brown-gate. Suspicion is high that the release of these stories was orchestrated by his own party or someone influential in it. One rationale is that the Mulroney camp wanted to get Brown out of the way when it seems like the summer election is in the bag for the PCs. If Brown wins he might get two or three terms before Caroline Mulroney gets a crack at it.

Then there is the revenge theory. The right wing of the party was unhappy with Brown for having walked back his commitment to those so-called religious-right wedge issues and they staged the confessions in the hope of forcing him out and installing a more conventional conservative leader. The only thing for sure at this point is that the party, which only a breath ago had been measuring the Premier’s office for new blue furniture, is now living in much more exciting times.

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:

Harper’s Charity Audits –     Summer Jobs Program –

Life Begins –

Boston Globe –

Canada’s Catholic Church –

Abortion Poll – 

Harper’s Cuts – 

Freedom of Religion –

Evangelicalism –

More Evangelicals –

Summer Jobs – 

Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform –

Scheer on Summer Jobs –

PC’s in disarray –

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Rivers opines on what the fall out might be from the Patrick Brown resignation.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 25, 2018



Damn I hate when that happens. Now I owe my publisher, a bottle of single malt over who’ll win the election this year. But I won’t give it to him until election night, just in case Brown manages to defy gravity and bounce back.

We don’t know anything about the allegations of sexual misconduct which have led to this yet, though that detail seems irrelevant at this point. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, here in Canada. But it is pretty incriminating when virtually all of his office staff had resigned because he initially wouldn’t – though he has now. No doubt we’ll be getting the tabloid details in weeks to come, but it sure looks like he and his political career are toast.

Patrick Brown resigning

Patrick Brown – former leader of the Progressive Conservative party in Ontario

The Ontario PCs will have a major test before them to appoint a new leader and determine if they move away from the platform Brown had assembled. Despite Liberal accusations that he was playing stealth with his carving knife, this was one of the most progressive and middle-of-the-road Tory platforms in over a generation.

Given that most Ontario voters still had no idea who Patrick Brown was, this gives the PCs a chance to grab the limelight in Ontario politics and introduce a new leader. And depending on their choice that may more than compensate politically for having to shed Brown when the polls looked so good for them. So this may not be the gift for the Liberals that some pundits might speculate it is for them.

Still, this has to be a huge personal defeat for Brown who had spent his entire life up to now priming himself for political leadership. If the facts prevail against him in this case, that will be another huge lesson for everyone, and especially males with a penchant for whatever it was he did that led to this.

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:

Patrick Brown resigns.

There was someone waiting in the wings – she never expected to become the leadership this way.

Publisher’s note:  Whenever Rivers has to pay up on his wager debts he invites me to his home and we seem to consume all of the bet that I won.


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