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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All kinds of shenanigans at city hall - where is all this coming from?

News 100 redBy Staff

January 25th, 2017



It was an interesting start to a significant meeting on the direction growth in the city of Burlington is going to take.

Ward 2 Councillor set out in her Facebook page what took place.

At the beginning of the meeting I discussed the lack of respect in the proceedings and called on all of us to set a higher standard. We may disagree, but need to be respectful. There’s no place for name calling, false allegations and the like.

My full opening statement on a Point of Privilege is here:

I would like to raise a point of privilege before we begin.

My goal in raising this is to ask all of us to commit to respectful dialogue.

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward raises a Point of Privilege at council meeting.

Point of privilege is used “when a member wants to draw attention to a matter that affects the integrity, character or reputation of an individual/group”

· Last night a delegate say planning staff should be fired; it’s not the first time our staff have been unjustly criticized publicly; I hope it will be the last.

· Another delegate said residents are NIMBYs, motivated only by self interest

· The same delegate said my motions were “political interference” a serious allegation – he chose to criticize the woman who is bringing motions, but had no similar criticism for my male colleague who is also bringing motions – some of which are similar to mine.

· Finally, a 14-page memo has been submitted to the public record from Mr. Mark Bales from Carriage Gate Homes, we all got a copy Monday. Mr. Bales has never spoken to me about my views about the OP or the downtown, and yet in his memo he presumes to know my motives, calls into question my integrity and character, and makes allegations with no evidence.

* and the Burlington Post being told they are “not a real newspaper.”

All of this has to stop. None of this is helpful to our discussions.

Like many women who have been subjected to personal attacks for having an opinion, and saying it out loud, I have mostly ignored these things in the past, assuming they’re simply part of being in public service. I can take it – I have a tough skin – 22 years as a journalist and 7 in elected office does that.

But I’ve realized this isn’t about me; it’s about all of us and the culture and example we’re setting. So it’s time to speak up.

When people see others exposed to personal attacks, it discourages them from participating in the community conversation. And we lose that input. I know people who will not stand at that podium because of the way they have been treated.

When personal attacks go unaddressed, it sends the message that these are okay. They are not. We can’t have one standard for people we agree with – letting their comments go unchecked – and another for those we don’t.

It’s time for this to stop.

So, I am asking that we all – everyone around this horseshoe and all members of the community – commit ourselves to a higher standard of respectful dialogue and mutual respect.

This is in keeping with our Engagement Charter, and referred to in the draft OP Chapter 11: “Mutual respect for citizens, staff and members of City Council is the basis for the development of constructive relationships and successful citizen engagement.”

We may disagree about many things today and going forward; I expect we will. But let’s commit ourselves to this: let’s assume that each one of us around this table and in the community wants the best for the future of our city, even as we have different perspectives about how to get there. Let’s allow for that difference, and maintain mutual respect.

News anal BLACKThe delegate who made the comment about residents being NIMBYs who are motivated only by self interest deserves a closer look.

Glenn WellingsGlenn Wellings is a planner by profession who works for clients in the municipal sector.  He was the last delegator to speak and was one of the three that was supportive of the plans and ideas that had been put forward by the planning department.

Who chooses the order at which delegators speak?  That decision would be made by people in the Clerk’s Office.  Are speaking slots determined by the date at which the request to delegate are received by the Clerk’s office?

Can people ask to be allowed to speak at a particular point?  People who cannot get to a day time meeting will ask to be heard in the evening.

Wellings didn’t add much to the information Council was given.  The Gazette learned that Wellings, representing a client in Halton Hills, had urged the public to participate in the public dialogue – but he did something quite different in Burlington.

Wellings Planning Consultants Inc. lists the following as clients:

  • Township of Amaranth
  • Township of East Garafraxa
  • Town of Grimsby
  • Regional Municipality of  Halton
  • City of Hamilton
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • County of Hastings
  • Town of Milton
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara
  • Town of Oakville

He was doing what his client wanted in Halton Hills.  Did Wellings have a client he was representing in Burlington? He didn’t say he was representing anyone; neither did he say that he has a relative working at city hall.  Nothing wrong with that.  The relative worked in Human Resources.

The relative did at one point work in Planning where the responsibility was related to the development of the downtown core.  The relative did some very good early work on the background related to future changes of the Waterfront Hotel.

What the Gazette was surprised to learn was that in January the relative was transferred from Human Resources to the Office of the City Manager where all the strategizing is being done on getting the draft version of the Official Plan approved by city council.

Wellings could have given full disclosure and told Council about the relative that worked for the city.

Related news story.

Wellings urges citizens in Halton Hills to get out and support a development; in Burlington citizens are NIMBY’s – concerned only about their self interest.

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Rory Nisan: This should be #OurDecision.

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

January 23rd, 2018



After writing my article “Emerging Democratic Issues at City Hall” on December 21, I hoped for more respect for the views of Burlington citizens and, more generally, a more transparent attitude from the City as it enters a critical time in its development. Time will tell, yet there have been numerous developments in recent weeks that continue to give cause for concern for the state of our city from a democratic perspective. Here are four:

(1) The letter from City Manager James Ridge to EcoB:

Ridge quote

While within his right to send a toughly worded letter threatening legal action related to a couple of political lines on a website, Mr. Ridge would benefit from using more honey and less vinegar. He could have invited ECoB for a meeting to discuss his concerns and to hear from ECoB also. It would be entirely proper and reasonable for the City Manager to reach out to a community group and meet with them and hear their concerns.

Instead, he used the threat of employing taxpayer money to sue the taxpayers themselves. Would expensive litigation have benefited the City, the taxpayers or ECoB? In fact, the only beneficiaries would have been the lawyers. ECoB could have called his bluff but took the high road and removed the supposedly offensive language from their website without delay.

Mr. Ridge should seek out the high road also.

(2) #GetTheFacts
A social media campaign is underway from the City of Burlington, using the hashtag GetTheFacts to make posts on Facebook supporting the draft official plan. Having worked in strategic communications myself, I can see the hallmarks of a deliberate intent to change citizens’ views about the downtown hub especially.

What is wrong with the city promoting its own plan? If it were an agreed upon, final document, there would be no problem.

However, this plan is anything but official. City Council has not voted, yet the unelected communications arm of the city is promoting the plan in order to sway the public’s opinion and that of city councillors, and is using taxpayer funds to do so by paying the salary of the communications staff.

If you don’t believe there is a strong bias, take a look at this post, which states that “higher density developments are located near the Burlington GO station away from the downtown core” when the proposal for the downtown includes permission for 17-story buildings. If 17 stories isn’t high density in Burlington, I don’t know what is. #GetTheFacts is the hashtag but these sound more like alternative facts.

Ask Grow Bold

This campaign should stop immediately; the City needs to get out of the way and allow the democratic process to unfold.

The city has no business influencing anyone about plans that are not approved. This is textbook anti-democratic.

This is almost certainly not the case of a rogue social media specialist. These deliberate strategies are typically thought through and assigned at senior levels. I have found the social media team at the city to be second-to-none in professionalism and providing information to the public.

This campaign should stop immediately; the City needs to get out of the way and allow the democratic process to unfold.

(3) $278,970
We learned recently that Mary Lou Tanner has been promoted to Deputy City Manager. A new position was created, and Ms. Tanner won an internal competition to be named to the role.


Former Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner was appointed Deputy City Manager.

The City Manager should feel free to re-organize as he sees fit, but he asked for new money to pay for the position, instead of making the internal sacrifices necessary to have a new senior executive role.

Councillor Meed Ward put forward a motion asking that the new salary be included within the existing corporate management human resources budget but it failed at committee.

How much is a Deputy City Manager paid? Her exact salary isn’t known but once CPP, EI, benefits and other costs are added up, the new position will cost the taxpayer $278,970.

Is that good value for money? What else could the city do with that kind of cash? Here is one hypothetical example of many: the cost of a pilot project in Oakville in 2011 allowing seniors to ride free one day per week was estimated to be $45,200 per year and increased ridership on Mondays during the pilot by 578%. A rough, back-of-the-napkin calculation would indicate that we could allow seniors to ride free six days per week for less than the cost of the new Deputy City Manager.

Here is another idea. The $278,970 could be divided into four salaries of $69,742 to hire some top-notch staff to create a unit dedicated to improving the level of consultation and dialogue with taxpayers, building on best practices and ensuring that citizens’ view are heard at the highest levels and fully considered.

(4) Timing of the Reverse Town Hall
The Reverse Town Hall was a good initiative — an example of what Burlington needs in more supply. However, it was set at the last minute and on the same evening as a critical meeting for ECoB.

A charitable view of this would be that it was an unfortunate coincidence of timing.

A less charitable view would be that there was an attempt to undermine attendance at ECoB’s meeting by forcing people to pick between engagement sessions.

Goldring reverse town hall

Mayor explains what he heard at his Reverse Town Hall

As an optimist, and giving the benefit of the doubt, I prefer the former view. However, even that scenario would indicate an unfortunate lack of consideration of the political calendar in Burlington. More careful attention should be taken in the future, and if the City were taking a more inclusive approach to an important citizen-based committee, this error would not have occurred as outreach to ECoB at the same time as this event would have been on someone’s calendar.

Several of these four issues are connected in some manner, and they all concern democratic practice at City Hall. In an election year, I hope we can aspire to do better.

Councillors and the Mayor were given a mandate to govern in 2014. However, that mandate is not a carte blanche. They must return to the citizens regularly to check the pulse and ensure they are not outstripping their license to govern.

The Mayor taking questions at his State of the City Address is the right thing to do (though $45 tickets makes it very difficult for low- or fixed income individuals to be able to afford to attend and ask questions), as was the (unfortunately timed) Reverse Town Hall. Whenever an elected official puts themselves in the hot seat and takes un-moderated questions it is a positive development.

However, this City Council does not have a mandate to undertake the major changes envisioned in the updated Official Plan. A change of this magnitude needs to be put to the voters, if not as a referendum, then as an important element of an election’s discourse. Luckily, the 2018 election is right around the corner so it would be no trouble at all to delay a decision a few months.

A good and necessary first step was taken when the decision on the new Official Plan was delayed to April to allow more consultation. Going into important debates this week, we need more of this kind of reflection of the will of Burlingtonians.

To put it in social media terms, this should be #OurDecision.

rory shotRory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization.


Related content:

Nisan on Emerging Democratic Issues at City Hall

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The fight to make the approving of an Official Plan an election issue.

background 100By Staff

January 23, 2018



There is probably a large part of the city that either doesn’t even know what is going on at city hall or are totally confused over what is taking place.

The Planning department has presented a number of very significant changes to city council – and city council has gone along with them.

Municipalities are required to review their Official Plan every five years. Burlington is in the midst of that process and there are a lot of people who don’t like what they see in the plan so far and are aghast at the speed with which the document is being approved.

It was originally to be completed by the end of January. That date got pushed forward to April.

The changes are so significant that some people, an admittedly small group, want the Official Plan made an election issue. That election is to take place late in October of this year.

Goldring reverse town hall

Mayor did a Reverse Town Hall.

The Mayor got concerned enough to hold a Reverse Town Hall where he listen to 100 + people who made it very clear to him that they were not happy campers. He was hearing seniors tell him that he has betrayed their trust. Not words any Mayor wants to hear heading into an election.

Wallace and Gould

When Karina Gould took the Burlington House of Commons seat Wallace decided he could serve as Mayor of the city.

Mike Wallace a five term former city Councillor who went on to become the Member of Parliament, got beaten by Karina Gould which sent Wallace back to square one, said in his campaign announcement on Monday that the QEW divide in Burlington has to be overcome.

It is almost as if there were two cities.

Every viable city needs a core; Burlington has one but the recommendations coming out of city hall and being approved by city council are seen as extreme by some. A 23 storey tower opposite city hall is too much for some people who don’t think this city council has a mandate to foist that level of development on the citizens.

That first tower is just the beginning – the city is reported to have 22 new applications for high rise buildings that are working their way through the Planning department.
City council is literally under attack and reeling from the assaults coming from a small organization known as ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington. The group claims they knew they were making headway when the city manager threatened them with legal action over some of the wording on their web site.

SaveOurWaterfront- Meed ward

Marianne Meed Ward rode the Save Our Waterfront movement all the way to city hall – can the Official Plan put her in the Mayor’s seat?

The Mayor is reported to have announced that the decisions being made about how development will be done on the downtown core have been moved forward to sometime in June. ECoB is pushing to have all this stuff made dependent on the election outcome.
Downtown ward 2 councillor Marianne Med Ward is very vocal about what she thinks is all wrong about what is taking place and she plans to present a number of motions at city council – one which is to put the approval of the city Official Plan on hold until the municipal election has taken place.

The developers have convinced themselves that what Meed Ward wants will be the end of Burlington.

Meed Ward has not announced that she is running for the Office of Mayor

In her Newsletter, which is widely read in every city ward she recently said:

421 Brant“Ever since council approved (5-2) the 23 storey building at the North East corner of Brant & James, people have become more aware of the proposed changes in the new Official Plan to the downtown, and elsewhere in the city including the neighbourhoods surrounding the Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby GO stations.

“I have heard from residents across the city, and the majority have said they aren’t happy with the proposed changes, especially for the downtown, and the entire Official Plan process seems rushed. They are asking for more time to review the most recent draft Official Plan and revised downtown policies (released in November), the track changes, comments and supporting documents, as well as additional analysis and mapping for the downtown released in mid-January 2018 – all of which is more than 2000 pages.

“Though the Official Plan began in 2011, it started as an update, and the downtown was not included in the scope. On Oct. 31, 2016, the project changed from an update to a rewrite of the Official Plan. The first draft of the Official Plan was released in April 2017. The downtown policies were not ready. The new downtown policies were first released in September 2017, with a revised draft in November. The revised draft Official Plan was also released in November. The mobility hubs were discussed at committee for the first time in December.

“So, we’ve had less than three months to digest and make the best decisions for the downtown, the mobility hubs and the city.
“We need to give ourselves and the community more time to make the right decision for our city. Residents also want to put the Official Plan to the test of democracy by postponing approval till after the October municipal election and asking candidates to campaign on the OP.

“There is no need to rush. Municipalities are required to review our Official Plan every five years, but there is no deadline for completion. We’ve been at our OP for six years without penalty, so what’s a few more months? City business has continued throughout the review, receiving and processing development applications. Nothing stops while we work to get it right.”

You can see where this is going and for parents who are busy getting the kids out to hockey games or wondering just what the teenagers are doing – an Official Plan is not top of mind.

Tell them that it is important and they will agree and add that that is what they have a city council for – to do the right thing.

Most of the people involved in the protesting say – that’s the problem – they aren’t doing the right thing.

The council meeting Tuesday night is going run late.

What is astonishingly remarkable – the public is hearing nothing from the other five members of Council.  The Mayor is vocal – he is running hard to keep his job.

Note a word so far from the other five members of council.

Taylor John slight side view

John Taylor – Dean of the city council with 25+ years of service.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison has served for more than 20 years.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster - both first term members. Will they both be returned?

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster were both elected in 2010 and returned in 2014.

Councillor Craven could make ammends and spearhead a drive to get the Freeman Station located in Spencer Smith Park where it belongs. That would mean getting along with Councillor Meed Ward. Can Craven get beyond his problems with Meed Ward and see the greater good for the city?

Councillor Craven has served for more than a dozen years.

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Rivers asks: What is our country’s readiness to face the unthinkable?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 22, 2018



It’s 8 am on a sunny Saturday morning and you’ve received a message on your phone, also blaring on radio and TV, that there is a missile of unknown origin coming your way and you need to seek immediate shelter. That is the kind of terror that people living in Hawaii recently experienced. That it was a mistake this time, a technical error, doesn’t make it any less gut wrenching. In fact that incident begs the question about our country’s readiness to face the unthinkable.

ban the bombThere is a no-brainer – ban the bomb – but that’s not going to happen because it’d have to be global. Singing Kumbaya from the universal planetary hymn book just won’t cut it, and neither will hope and prayer. But then who would want to do this to us? Canada has no international enemies, right, except maybe ISIS or the Taliban? We are otherwise at peace.

And if peace ain’t enough, there are some of those anti-missile defence systems. Shooting down your enemy’s missiles is almost as old an idea as the missiles themselves, going back to Germany’s V1s and V2s. The Russians now have more modern ABMs, so does Israel, China, India and the USA of course.

There used to be an international treaty banning the development of anti-ballistic missile systems (ABM). But then GW Bush tore it up and in the process empowered/emboldened one very paranoid former KGB agent by the name of Vladimir Putin. And the Russians responded by tearing up the treaty limiting multiple warheads (MIRV). MIRV missiles with ten to fifteen individually targeted warheads are real hard to find and get and the latest Russian technology makes these warheads even harder to take out.

All of this kind of talk takes us back to the cold war option of mutually-assured-destruction. Unless one can guarantee there are enough accurate ABMs to take out all the incoming nukes it’s back to the Doomsday scenarios, fallout and bomb-proof shelters, as they have retained and restored in Moscow.

Star Wars graphic

An illustration of how the Star Wars technology was going to save everyone.

Of course Ronald Reagan who was fond of Star Wars, got a lot of laughs, but back in 2005 Bush Junior tried to involve Canada in its military’s efforts at developing a fleet of North American ABMs. Despite years of testing and development and more money handed to the military-industrial complex than anyone can imagine, performance is still less than perfect. And perfect is what is needed if you are to prevent a multi-megaton nuclear missile from cleaning up your neighbourhood, giving new meaning to the term urban renewal.

Give peace a chancePeriodic test failures provide little comfort that these systems with highfalutin names like THAAD and Aegis would actually do the job. We can tell by the near panic we hear from the man in the White House every time his favourite Rocket Man over there fires off one of his new toys. They certainly couldn’t stop North Korea’s launches over Japan with their ABMs. What makes anyone think these systems could really stop the big one should it ever be coming to a location near you?

Paul Martin, clinging to power with a slim minority government and facing opposition from the Bloc and NDP, told Bush a big negatory back in 2015. Canada would not be in. And seriously, if there were four nuclear ICBMs headed to North America targeting Settle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver – and a Canada/US missile defence system could only intercept three of them – which city would get the short straw?

But some issues never go away. Media folk, perhaps prompted by US defence contractors, raised the topic again last week as Canada co-hosted an international summit on North Korea’s nukes, out in our own la la land, Vancouver. The purpose was to discuss enforcing sanctions on Kim’s little ole’ republic ahead of any negotiations, or something like that. And being the gracious hosts we are, we handed over some chump change (~$3 million) to the cash-starved US to continue to monitor the Russians and Chinese as they breach the UN sanctions.

Of course the hermit dictatorship wasn’t invited and neither of its two influential neighbours China and Russia attended either. So neither of those nations were able to explain why they violate the very sanctions they committed to when they voted for them. There were also suggestions that this would demonstrate to the often belligerent US president that negotiations, rather than the bully-pulpit, or worse, might be more effective. But Trump couldn’t attend, perhaps needing to get some exercise and attend to his putter… or doctor.


Thew people that mattered weren’t in the picture.

There were speeches by foreign ministers from some 20 countries apparently, but only Japan and the US really mattered and neither of those had anything new to add. I’m glad I didn’t attend, well actually I wasn’t invited. But had I been, I would rather have headed for a couple days of something more stimulating up at Whistler. Though at least Vancouver’s weather was a little warmer for a boondoggle than Ottawa’s or Burlington’s, but still too cold for those used to Mar-a-Lago.

But the good news was that this so-called summit had no sooner begun then it was upstaged by serious diplomatic events happening on the Korean peninsula. After a phone call and series of meetings North and South Korea have agreed on a joint athletics team for the 2018 winter games in Pyeong Chang (S. Korea) early next month. And they are talking about other stuff too – so who knows maybe they’ll be restarting peace talks? We’ve seen this movie before but perhaps the ending will be different this time.

Of course Trump is taking credit for this new dialogue, and it is not inconceivable that his fire and fury may have actually helped. But the peace prize, if there is one, will have to go to South Korea’s recently elected pacifist president Moon Jae-In – who came into office promising dialogue. And if that means Kim will ultimately be retiring his nukes, then we here, next door to his real nemesis, will be able to sleep soundly again. And that might put to rest any talk of rushing to pour real Canadian cash into an American ABM system, which has yet to prove its reliability.

Missile testing

The missiles are tested and shipped to almost anyone who can pay for them.

Fellow NATO partners Turkey and Greece have recently purchased Russian-made S series anti-missile/aircraft systems. France has developed its own system. And we in Canada have a defence co-operation treaty and a free trade agreement with Ukraine, which had built many of the former Soviet systems, including those massive SS-24 nukes with 10 warheads, back in the day. Under attack from its more technically advanced neighbour now, this eastern European nation is actively seeking partners to help fast track development of its former missile and missile defence industries.

Perhaps we need to be looking longer and further afield if a missile defence system becomes a priority for this country and peace is no longer the answer. After all, there is merit in that the old adage that good fences make better neighbours. Just ask the Ukrainians.

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:

Hawaii Missile Alert –  Canada and US ABM –  More Canada ABM –   Nightmare Scenario –   Joint Attack Preparation –   NK Summit –   ABM Tech –   Korea Talks –   Vancouver Summit –    Olympics –    Vancouver Summit

Canada Contributes –    American ABMs –    American ABMs Failures

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A large part of the public has taken back the power they gave the people they elected to office

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2018



Burlington is going through an experience it hasn’t had for some time.

They have taken back the power they gave the people they elected to office because those people have not exercised that power effectively or efficiently.

One speaker at the Mayor’s Reverse Town Hall told the Mayor that “You have lost our trust.”
Democracy is a delicate process, it needs constant care and attention which, unfortunately, many citizens have failed to provide.

council with term datesPoliticians have to be held accountable – and not just during elections. Every member of the current council was re-elected in 2014 – they took that as a signal that they could continue doing what they had done the previous four years. That is the message the taxpayers sent.

And the voters in Burlington may well be sending a similar signal again.

Can you name people who are putting their names forward as candidates? The Gazette is aware of two young men who are planning to run for Council seats – unfortunately both are in the same ward so all the city will get is one of the two. Both would be welcome additions to council.

The Gazette has met with close to a dozen people encouraging them to run for office. In several cases they would earn more than what they are currently earning.

There is something noble about being chosen by your peers to represent and preserve what the city they have chosen to live in has going for itself.

There are conditions to being asked to serve; like being invited to dinner – you are expected to leave at some point. The current Council has two members who need to move on and recognize that fresh minds are needed.

When ending a career in civic service the idea is to get out at a high point.

Those who have been Councillors for a long time will not be motivated to move on if they don’t see younger, fresher faces biting at their ankles.

In the past we have seen people put their names forward who were not ready for public office and brought little in the way of wisdom or experienced to the table. There was at least one that got elected in 2010 that met that condition.

The new election rules – pushing back the nomination date to May 1 from January 1 makes it a little harder to create a profile or get known – but it can be done.

If a candidate cannot raise a team to get themselves elected to office then they are not ready for office.
There is a public waiting for good candidates to come forward.

Marianne Meed Ward delegated so often at city council in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that she became a known entity and got behind an issue that mattered to people.

The current Mayor wants to serve a third term, a former city Councillor and former Member of Parliament wants back in and will announce formally on Tuesday that he will run for the office of Mayor.

city hall with flag poles

The seat of government – yards away from the Cenotaph that recognizes those who lost their lives defending the democracy that gets practiced at city. There is an obligation to honour and respect their sacrifice.

There is an Aldershot resident who ran for the Chairmanship of Regional Council in 2014 with absolutely no experience in municipal government who has now convinced himself that on the basis of the votes he got in 2014 he can get elected as Mayor of Burlington. There is a line in that poem: Twas the night before Christmas – “While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads” – the words were intended for children but an adult seems to have taken them on.

We get asked regularly “Is she going to run? Is she going to run?

Did God make little green apples?

Of course Meed Ward is going to run – she is being very strategic on choosing when she announces.

The question that follows is – who will run for the ward 2 seat? And is it possible for Meed Ward to end up with a council that will have 4-3 votes for motions.

The city didn’t like it all that much when Cam Jackson’s council produces a lot of those 4-3 votes and look where replacing Jackson got us. But that is another story.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written from time to time by the publisher of the Gazette

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The Official Plan being developed is the bedrock on which future growth is being based - let it be the core issue in the October 2018 election.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

January 20th, 2018



Yielding to intensive lobbying, delegation and protests from Citizens Groups, Local Businesses and even from Building Developers, Burlington City Council and Staff have pushed the schedule for passing their revamped “Official Plan.” Back to April 2018.

The original December 2017 schedule for Burlington’s most important planning document for the next several decades, was being rushed in order to have the plan adopted before it could become a 2018 election issue. On Tuesday January 23, council will discuss final implementation dates for that plan.

The question now becomes: Will that final vote by council in April still allow Councillors to avoid electoral accountability in next year’s election?

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThis New Official Plan is important enough to be a major issue in that upcoming election so those same community groups are now saying very loudly that accountability to citizens can only be served by moving the decision back until a new council is elected. Instead of rushing to avoid electoral accountability, we should spend the time finalizing a Plan that serves all of our city and let the election be a referendum on the plan.

That New Official Plan must be based on the Mobility Hub, Transit and Cycling Plans, which have been promised but not yet completed, begging the question: “How do you build an overarching plan when the building block plans are not yet in place?” These should all be developed and put in place first, with real input from Citizen, Retail and Commercial Groups and with real engagement; not the pseudo consultation that has taken place to date,.

Mobility hub + graphic

The Official Plan will rely on and be informed by the Transit plan, the Transportation plan and the finalization of the Mobility hubs. Citizens want council to wait until the other studies are completed before making the Official Plan final.

The New Official Plan proposes a radical change to our city. It contemplates massive increases in population, allowing hi-rises on traditional downtown retail and commercial sites with no allowance for preserving the quality of life for residents. The city would have us believe that any negative effects of the Plan will be addressed by Mobility Hub, Transit and Cycling Plans which, as previously stated, are not even in place yet.

As our city moves forward with the revised schedule for its Official Plan, citizens ask our city;

Jim Young A

Jim Young, a frequent delegator at city council.

1. Please do not close off further citizen input and delegation. The legalities of the Official Plan approval process demand citizen input. To date that input has at best been directed by staff rather than real participation by those citizens directly impacted. The best and most attention grabbing ideas so far have come from engaged and active citizens groups, small businesses even city developers and not from the Pseudo Involvement so far undertaken by the city. Let staff and council use this time and this groundswell of engagement to seek real input to improve and perfect the plan.

2. Having accepted that the timeline for the New Official Plan was indeed flawed and reacted appropriately by revising that timeline, we ask that the decision on the zoning amendment for 421/423 Brant Street be revisited and any revisions of that zoning be included as an integral part of the fresh review of the New Official Plan. The parallels between the two issues, Intensification in General, and Specific Downtown Zoning are so similar it seems logical to consider one as part of the other bigger issue.

Jim Young

Jim Young speaking up for his community.

3. Citizens accept that council are elected and staff employed to provide the best possible planning for our city’s future. We will not always agree on what that planning may look like so we rely on two things to limit city power in such disagreements.

First: The professionalism and qualification of city staff to provide guidance to council.

Second: The underlying accountability that our representative democracy gives us to hold our elected officials to.

So we ask again: Why the rush to pass this Plan? If it truly is the basis on which our city will be built over the coming decades, and if our city fathers truly believe in the plan they have created, why not let council make this New Official Plan the core issue in the 2018 election? Why not let the people speak?

Be assured that citizen groups are paying very careful attention to this issue and council’s responses to their voices. A failure to listen to your citizens now will not go unnoticed in October.

Jim YoungJim Young is one of the founding members of ECoB –  Engaged Citizens of Burlington. He lives in Aldershot.



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Mayor holds a Reverse Town Hall meeting while ECoB meets to train people how to get city hall to listen

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2018



The Engaged Citizens of Burlington, a newly formed group working towards a better Burlington for generations to come is particularly concerned with issues of planning and development.

They operate online and through community meetings to help build awareness on issues affecting Burlington residents and the community as a whole.

ECoB noticeThe group planned a Workshop for volunteers that takes place this evening.

Unfortunately, the Office of the Mayor planned an event at the same time and while ECoB said they “applaud the Mayor for taking time to listen to the public” they did think that the Mayor’s office should have been aware of the meeting they had planned and been able to avoid a conflict.

Goldring defends turf 2

Rick Goldring during a 2014 election debate when two lightweight candidates went up against him. The 2018 election is going to be a lot different. Former Mayor Mike Wallace has thrown his hat into the ring – others are expected to follow.

ECoB said they were under the impression that the January 23rd City Planning and Development Meeting was the time for the Mayor to listen to the public.

Matters got a little difficult for ECoB when the city manager sent them a letter threatening legal action if they did not remove some comments about the city planning department from their web site.

It’s all getting a little messy – there must be something in the water the people at city hall are drinking.

ECob is going ahead with their meeting.

The Mayor is going ahead with his Reverse Town Hall meeting.

They will all be at city hall on January 23rd for a critical Planning and Development meeting.


Mike Wallace with Connie Smith.

The day before – January 22nd, Mike Wallace a former city Councillor and former MP for Burlington will stand up in Civic Square and formally announce his intention to run for the Office of Mayor.

Suddenly everything comes into focus!

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column published from time to time.

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Citizen Advisory group on the waterfront ceases operation.

News 100 blueBy Deedee Davies

January 17th, 2018



I am saddened to be writing to let you know that the citizens-led volunteer group, Burlington Waterfront, has shut down its operations. I had to step down as Chair of this group to focus more personal time and energy on providing elder support. With our executive members already also deeply involved in the complementary advocacy efforts with other groups to protect our waterfront lands and downtown from unnecessary overdevelopment, none of them were able to take on this role.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

Deedee Davies on the left with Councillor John Taylor and Realtor Linda Davies – the two women are not related.

We encourage you to stay involved in protecting public access to our waterfront. Writing to all the Councillors and Mayor with your views on issues is a good start. Mayor@burlington.ca; Ward 1 rick.crave@burlington.ca; Ward 2 marianne.meedward@burlington.ca; Ward 3 john.taylor@burlington.ca; Ward 4 jack.dennison@burlington.ca; Ward 5 paul.sharman@burlington.ca; and Ward 6 blair.lancaster@burlington.ca

As well, there are several advocacy groups operating where you can offer your support, expertise, time, or effort.

Plan B rendering

Plan B, a group of downtown residents, want to ensure that the public has better access and sight lines to the waterfront and the pier. They want to be “at the table? when the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel takes place.

Plan B is working with the city planners to develop a better plan than the city’s preferred concept for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel lands at the foot of Brant Street. The draft city plan called for two towers of up to 25 and 18 storeys and a large 4 storey podium all on the waterfront side of Lakeshore Road. You can join Plan B in their efforts by getting involved through their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/PlanBwaterfrontHotelRedevelopment/

ECoB (Engaged Citizens of Burlington) is “fighting City Hall” to have overturned the recent approval by City Council for a 23 storey condominium on the north-east corner of Brant and James Streets. This is the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and would permit a flood of 20 something storey condominiums into our downtown and line Brant Street from the waterfront up. In fact, city planners already envisage (and are trying to put approval for it in the Official Plan) a 22 storey condo being built at the NE corner of Brant and Lakeshore Road, where the old bank building, now a falafel restaurant is located. This would be directly across from the proposed 22 storey replacement for the Waterfront Hotel and the 22 storey Bridgewater Development already under construction.

This not-for-profit group of citizens are also proposing to delay approval of the Burlington New Official Plan that regulates land use for the next decade so that citizens have proper opportunity to learn about and comment on the sweeping changes being proposed for some neighbourhoods. Find out more on how you can get involved at www.engagedburlington.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ecoburlington/ and on Twitter at Twitter.com/EngagedCoB or email them at info@engagedburlington.ca .

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

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

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who represents the downtown is working tirelessly to try and stop these irreversible events from occurring. She has brought to light new information on the Downtown Mobility Hub and a discrepancy between city and provincial intensification boundaries that could be game changers.

Please read her latest Ward 2 newsletter at www.ward2news.ca or follow on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ward2burlington/ or on Twitter at @MarianneMeedWard to learn more. If you care, please get involved, particularly if you are not from Ward 2.

Burlington Green Environmental Organization believes the City of Burlington is missing a huge opportunity to preserve and add green spaces to the downtown as they finalize the Official Plan. With all the condominiums planned for the core, there are not any park spaces planned for south of James, east of Brant and north of Lakeshore. Where will the children of families living in this neighbourhood play? You can learn more at www.burlingtongreen.org under the Local Issues /Preserve Greenspace tab, or follow them at www.facebook.com/Burlington.green.environment/

Burlington Core Residents is a forum for residents to stay current on the latest news and developments in the Burlington downtown area. Their email address is coreresidents@gmail.com, or follow them at www.facebook.com/coreresidents/


The developer wants to intensify this property.

First Urban Inc is appealing the city’s refusal of rezoning for 143 Blue Water Place and 105 Avondale Court (between Walkers and Appleby Lines south of Lakeshore Road). It will be going to an OMB Hearing at City Hall beginning May 14, 2018 at 10:00. The City and citizens are trying to prevent a development of 35 three storey townhouses and 4 semi-detached units from being built on the waterfront where currently there exist two homes. This development is inappropriate at this location for so many reasons. An association was formed to help the city fight this proposed development. They are called Burlington Lakeshore Residents Association. Their chair, Ben King will be an official Party with legal standing to the OMB Hearings. To become involved, please write to them at lakeshoreresidents@outlook.com or check out their website at www.lakeshoreresidents.com.

All is not going to stay quiet on this waterfront. A city council member, Marianne Meed Ward has created a citizens advisory committee on the waterfront that is going to take a holistic look at what is best for the city.

When the city sunset the Waterfront Advisory committee that a former member had set up the Council member for the ward, Marianne Meed Ward, created a citizens advisory committee that would “take a holistic look at what is best for the city”.

On behalf of the executive of Burlington Waterfront, I would like to thank you for your interest and efforts in protecting public access to our waterfront and encourage you to continue making Burlington a great city with a great waterfront by staying engaged. And please take time to enjoy our beautiful waterfront, in every season – it is a jewel.

If there was ever an occasion for Mayor Goldring to seek the opinions of others on the Beachway PArk - now is the time to do it and on Wednesday he will have an opportunity to listen to one of the best minds there is on waterfront development. Former Toronto Mayor met with MAyor Gildring at a Waterfronty Advisory meeting a number of years ago. Time for another chat.

Former Toronto Mayor David Crombie was a guest at a Waterfront Advisory Committee where he urged Mayor Goldring to listen to what the citizens of the city.

Editor’s note:  The Waterfront group that has ceased operating had an interesting history.  It was what was left of the Waterfront Advisory Committee that was formed by former Mayor Cam Jackson.  The city sunset that committee.  Both Mayor Golding and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said they would form committees to take up the work that both felt needed to be done.

The Mayor did nothing – Meed Ward decided to serve as an advisor to the group she was going to form.  While serving as Chair of the committee Davies worked tirelessly and brought interesting information to the public.  Think Deedee Davies when you think about who should be nominated as one of Burlington’s Best.

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Were social license or civic space part of the decision to close two Burlington high schools ?

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

January 14th, 2018



What is democracy?

Is it a single act, an election every four years?

Certainly, that is one part of democracy, an essential but not sufficient component. Without the ability to have the final word on our leadership through a free and fair vote, and the ability to do so in a human rights-based system, with freedoms of association and expression, we do not have democracy.

However, a vote every four years does not guarantee that leaders will listen to their constituents in the long gaps between elections.

Is democracy a decision made by an elected representative?

Trustees - fill board +

Halton District School Board trustees in session

When that person is balancing the values and interests of their constituents, the sum total of decisions is certainly an important aspect of democracy.

Yet, individual decisions by representatives can nevertheless be anti-democratic if they are taken for other reasons, such as payback to political, union, private or corporate interests who have funded their campaign, or to further professional goals (promotion, a future private sector career, fear of disagreeing with a senior bureaucrat).

Is democracy the social licence given to leaders from civil society?

Licences carry responsibilities to be maintained. They are only given when tests are passed. They can be revoked. Social licence is critical to democracy.

Is democracy a function of civic space?

When a society has the room it needs to engage in decisions that affect it — and it fills that space with collective action, we have the strongest democracies.

As far as the decision to close Pearson and Bateman High School is concerned, we do not believe that civic space was respected; nor was any social licence given to trustees to make that decision. We were then let down a second time by an Administrative Review process that supported the decision of the trustees despite noting several flaws in the process. We expected a better outcome based on the consultations we had with the facilitator and the numerous violations of policy we had uncovered.

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Administrative Review Facilitator Margaret Wilson listening to Diane Miller.

Yet, while there are errors and omissions in the Administrative Review report, our battle was never with the facilitator, because the true letdown was a Program and Accommodation Review (PAR) that was so deeply flawed that the Premier had to put a halt to all PARs shortly after ours was completed.

Second, the original sin was committed by trustees who voted against our schools in the first place; they did so against strong evidence as well as the wishes of a clear majority of constituents. And we cannot forget one trustee whose failure of leadership all but ensured the closure of Pearson High School.

The community will bear the consequences of these errors for years to come, and the “divide and conquer” approach to community engagement of the Halton District School Board and the PAR process has left the Burlington community divided.

Has democracy failed us?

It has been said that democracy is the worst system of government, except for all of the other ones, and we certainly feel that way at the moment.

Still, we need to expand our horizons in reflecting on this encounter with democracy, politics, interests and values. Because while Burlington is going to be worse off as a result of the school closures, we have made strides in improving democracy as well as local and provincial governance as a result of the actions taken.

We stood up for what we believed in and proved that decisions in Burlington and Halton cannot be taken lightly in the future. We did so by protesting in the middle of winter, by putting up signs and getting signatures, and so many other activities to get our voices heard. We will also make sure that future decisions are better made, by supporting candidates for trustees later this year who understand the foolishness of the decisions taken, who will actually read our emails and who have the analytical and leadership skills that our community deserves.

rory shot

Rory Nisan

We engaged the province in our fight, pulling no punches in confronting Premier Wynne with our plight. She took notice, as did Education Minister Hunter, as did MPP McMahon. As a result of our tireless conviction, and that of other citizen groups around the province, Wynne put a hold on all PAR processes, thereby admitting that they have failed Ontarians. It was too late for our schools because our PAR process had concluded, but it may save many others.

Furthermore, Leader of the Official Opposition Patrick Brown has promised to stop all school closures should he be elected on June 7, in part because of our advocacy, meaning our collective efforts could have an even bigger impact across the province.

We also exposed the flaws in the decision and in the process, so when a new system of reviewing schools is developed they will have a “worst practice”, which has been carefully documented by our teams, upon which to draw.

Importantly, we also learned how to advocate for our community: how to push our objectives in the media, how to go door-to-door for signatures, how to build momentum, how to convince people to get involved. These democracy skills are ours to keep.

And finally, we gained enthusiasm. We will not go home. We will continue to advocate for Burlington’s children when they are confronted with bad ideas from un- elected bureaucrats who have forgotten that they were not elected, or from elected representatives who have forgotten how to represent.

Several years down the road, when the Director of Education has moved on to a new position, and most or all of the trustees have been voted out or retired, we will still be in Burlington, fighting for our kids.

And by holding our elected officials’ feet to the fire and never giving up on what we believe in, we will be agents of change, and create a better Burlington.

rory closeupRory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization, serves on the City of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee, and is co-creator and co-organizer of the One Burlington Festival, which brings together Burlingtonians of different faiths and cultures.








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Rivers: Humans pass wind an estimated twenty times a day on a good day.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 13, 2018



FART. Not a word you would have seen in print only a couple decades ago. Four letter words were once taboo – LOVE excepted. But today they are as common as crows, showing up everywhere; print media, television, movies, school playgrounds and sometimes even at the family dinner table. And when the leader of the free world uses language like “shithole countries” – well what the heck!

farting couple rivers

He seems rather pleased with himself!

Humans pass wind an estimated twenty times a day on a good day. Of course that can vary with weight and exercise and health… and diet. We know it’s beans, beans, beans. But it’s also broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, beer and meat.

Aesthetics aside the real problem with off-gassing is the contribution it makes to our changing climate. It’s the methane gas generated in the intestines during digestion which is the culprit. And methane, as we know, is a far more potent greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide we always talk about.

It’s true that beans are a much more potent flatulent than meat. Yet it’s where these foods come from that really puts that statement on its head. Cattle and sheep are ruminants, they have four stomachs and regurgitate their food (chewing their cud) which leads to massive gas production.


Do the math – 500 litres of methane gas per day x how many cows?

One study estimated that a cow generates up to 500 litres of methane gas per day. With almost seven million cows in Canada, that is a heck of a lot of gas. An article in the Atlantic estimated that meat consumption accounts for more than a third of all US greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). And if all meat were banned tomorrow, the US would be in the home stretch, fully three quarters of the way there, to meeting its Obama-era 2020 emissions reduction goal – without doing a single thing more.

But that is not likely to happen in a USA where its president goes to bed hugging a cheeseburger instead of his wife. America is blessed with Trump, the climate change denier, who has worked hard to transform the once proud USA from world leader to rogue nation. And nothing was more rogue than thumbing his nose at the rest of the world and the planet and pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

TRump burger

Trump with his burger and fries.

Trump may be part of the problem but he is hardly the cause. Meat consumption has been increasing globally, a response to rising national incomes and the extension of western culinary customs. Global meat consumption grew by FIVE times between 1992 and 2016. Even in India, where a third of the population claim to be Hindu or Jain vegetarian, meat consumption has been growing faster than a raging Brahman bull.

Perhaps it’s a presidential thing as former US president Bill Clinton was also an infamous hamburger hog, until he finally needed bypass surgery – and the meadow muffin hit him smack in the face. Trump is so passionate about his meat that he’s been known to throw away the buns so he can get right at the beef. In fact he forced his Japanese hosts to change their traditional sushi dinner menu to hamburgers for his recent state visit.

And besides climate change, meat is also a contributing factor for obesity, diabetes, cancer, soil degradation, high water consumption and deforestation. And lest we forget, milk also comes from that big brown moo-moo. Yet, it is inconceivable that any liberal democracy would adopt a policy to outright ban farm animal production or meat and dairy consumption.

But we might tax it! That is exactly what many organizations are calling for, including those claiming an authority to lobby for human health and animal welfare. They want a sin tax on meat, just like what we have for tobacco and alcohol, carbon, and pretty soon marijuana. Increasing the cost would encourage consideration of alternatives in our diet. A salad and single-malt scotch instead of meat and milk works for me.

Back in 2003 New Zealand floated the notion of taxing its 100,000 plus farmers with a hefty but inappropriately named ‘fart tax’ – a misnomer since cows actually belch more than fart. Animal rearing is responsible for as much as half of all of that island nation’s GHG emissions. And of course, the farmers continue to protest that such a tax would imperil their international competitiveness and crash their economy.

However, taxing meat at the production stage does more than raise cash. Clearly more research needs to be funded into developing less gas-causing animal diets, and other technology, until we find that perfectly toot-less moo-moo. But an emissions tax would also encourage greater adoption of that technology, even by today’s more conventionally-minded farmers.

And there is complementary research on the consumer front, including at least one Franken-science laboratory which has developed a synthetic something-or-other in a petrie glass. It’s not a soy-burger, but rather, something which apparently looks and tastes like Harvey’s ‘a beautiful thing’. And no animals are being harmed in the process. But at a cost of $300,000 per burger, the Ontario minimum wage would have to increase well beyond $14 before McDonald’s starts to worry about sales of its Big Mac.

cow face

Apparently – I am the problem.

Taxes have a way of forcing technology and changing habits. Cigarettes are a case in point. Keeping them hidden and banning them from public spaces helps, available vapour E-cigs probably help as well, but higher prices are the real kicker, forcing sales to continue their downward tumble.

Who knows? One day hamburgers may be banned from bars and other public places as well. And perhaps those gassy beans will be next on the list of controlled substances. And maybe one day we’ll hear that the US president prefers settling down with a Franken burger next to him at bedtime.


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:

“Shithole” –   Passing Gas Etiquette –   Farting –  Trump’s Big Mac

More Burgers –   Meat Tax –   More meat –   Beans vs Meat

Indian Meat –   Cow Farts –   NZ Fart Tax –   More NZ

Meat Tax –   More Meat Tax –   Franken Burgers –   Profanity

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Rivers, with tongue in cheek, predicts for 2018.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 6th, 2018



2018 is going to be a year of surprises.

On the international front, America’s Supreme Leader will visit North Korea. After an inspection of Kim’s ‘goose-stepping’ million-man army, he will dine with the North Korean leader over a meal of Kimchi and Korean-style barbecued Rottweiler – a meal, as Kim will say, befits the lead running dogs of communism and capitalism.

Kim red button

Who has the biggest red button?

Following the state dinner Trump and Kim will discuss plans for nuclear cooperation and reunification of the Koreas, in addition to comparing the size of their respective nuclear buttons. Trump will return home a self-described hero for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula, though he will have to be admitted to hospital almost immediately for medical attention related to an acute case of intestinal parasites.

But his successful visit will be instrumental in allowing the Republicans to win the mid-term elections and continue their best efforts at eliminating taxes on the wealthy and ending publicly supported health care. Most pundits will attribute the GOP victory to the campaign promise of tearing up NAFTA as the best way to make America great again – keeping American jobs out of Canada and Mexico and bringing them back to the USA and China.

On another front President Trump will decide to completely end all military activity in Afghanistan. The US diplomatic break with Pakistan and a dramatic upturn in al Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban military victories, coupled to general public disillusionment with America’s longest war, will be cited as the primary reasons for the US withdrawing from this region. Trump will tweet that his decision is consistent with history – citing the Russians and British who also left the country with their tails between their legs.


Between the two of them, Horwath and Brown, they form the next government.

Ontario voters will surprise even themselves by electing an NDP minority government which will be supported by the Green Party, having elected its first Ontario MPP candidate ever. Patrick Brown will place a close second to NDP leader Horwath. Still his party’s rank and file will demand his resignation blaming him for running a campaign borrowed almost entirely from the Liberals. Brown will step down, making way for ‘heir apparent’ Caroline Mulroney to lead the provincial party. Karl Heinz Schreiber, having just been released from a German prison, will offer to help her with fund raising, much as he tried to help her father.

The Liberals will attribute their election loss to their decision to increase the minimum wage. The NDP which had also supported the wage increase will attribute their own victory to the promise to nationalize all Ontario franchises of Tim Hortons in the public interest, and to unionize its workers under CUPE, which also represents the garbage workers. US based ‘Restaurant Brands’ which had owned Tims, as well as Burger King and Popeye, will plead unsuccessfully for a ruling under the defunct NAFTA. “Tim Hortons is the hole in the donut that nourishes the lives of all Ontarians” Horwath will be quoted as saying.

male drag actorMale actors and directors of theatre and film in Ontario have formed an association to support them against what they call the mischievous accusations of sexual misconduct running amok throughout the industry. Called the “# Fork You Too” these actors will announce their refusal to engage in any intimate scenes with female actors and demand that all female roles now be played by men in drag, as they were in Shakespeare’s day. This will cause great consternation in the entertainment industry, particularly among those engaged in the pornography sector.

Most of Canada experienced its coldest winter in decades in early 2018. In response the federal Minister of the Environment has announced the decision of the government to join the US and withdraw from the Paris Climate Change agreement. Despite accusations by David Suzuki that the government is confusing weather for climate, the PM will defend this position, at the opening of a new tar-sands plant in Alberta, noting, “It is clear that our efforts to mitigate global warming have succeeded in bringing us back into the cold,”

So there you have it folks. Recall that last year I just about nailed it… well the Keystone XL pipeline prediction anyway. And recall that it was in this column where you read it first, in 2016 – I predicted Donald Trump would be elected president.

Happy New Year. May we all live in interesting times, even without the surprises predicted above.

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 a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  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:

Dog Meat –  More Dog Meat –   Other Predictions

Tims –  Tim Hortons –   Rivers 2017 Predictions

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'I can do something about that' didn't make it to the PARC meetings; a failure in leadership.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2018



In the not too distant future Burlingtonians will learn what the provincially appointed Administration Review facilitator Margaret Wilson has to say about the Program Accommodation Review process that was used to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

How did this city get to this messy place?

The Gazette believes a large part of the reason was Marianne Meed Ward’s failure to lead.

How did a natural leader fail to lead when it really mattered?

SaveOurWaterfront- Meed ward

Meed Ward is a very astute politician – she chooses and issue and sticks with it asking people not just to vote for her but to trust her telling people: “I can do something about that”.

I have watched Marianne Meed Ward develop as a politician since 2010. I sat in on a few of her early 2010 election campaign meetings. I was given an opportunity to be part of the team that was going to run her election.


Marianne Meed Ward delegating as a citizen – before she had been elected to city Council.

I have watched Meed Ward appear before council as a citizen delegate; she was tireless, deliberate, focused and consistent.

When she was elected I watched her begin the process of bringing city council around to a better way of operating. Her colleagues did not make it easy.

During the period of time after a car accident that resulted in a concussion that Meed Ward was not fully aware of, I watched her struggle through a city council meeting and then drove her home – it wasn’t that she couldn’t walk – she knew she shouldn’t.

That same evening all the members of city council were being entertained for a holiday event at the home of a Council member whose application for a property severance had been denied by the Committee of adjustment. The decision was appealed to the OMB at considerable cost to the city.

Meed Ward said she had not been invited to the event.

Visual - city council full

Councillor Meed Ward has always wanted what council does to be on the record. She makes her colleagues stand up and be counted – and they don’t like it one bit.

I vividly recall watching Meed Ward put her colleagues through five recorded votes at a city Council meeting. The Councillor closest to her philosophically, John Taylor, sat there rolling his eyeballs. Meed Ward wasn’t budging one inch; she wanted those Councillors to be on the record.

I watched Meed Ward mature as a politician. She has been described by some as divisive – and to some degree she was – but not to the majority of the people in her ward. They believed she could walk on water.

Meed Ward held frequent ward meetings. I recall one during which she blurted out that she “loved her job” and she did.

During her first few months in office she got a call from a constituent about some garbage on the street – Meed Ward drove out with her van and picked up the garbage.

During her first six months as a city Councillor the City Clerk had to point out to her that she had used up her postage budget. She used up much of her coffee and donuts budget well before the end of the fiscal year. Her job was to send out information and meet with people, which she did.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more "mayoral" than the man who wears the chain of office.

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward has had her eye on the job of Mayor from the day she filed her first set of nominations papers. The public should get a chance to decide if she is what the city needs next October.

She told her colleagues that that they should be paying for their parking – and that city staff should pay for their parking as well. Council didn’t agree with her – that didn’t faze Meed Ward – she said she was going to remit to the city the value of the free parking she was getting.

During the first election in 2010 Meed Ward had made it clear that she wanted at some point to be the Mayor.
She decided in 2014 that her children needed her at home and so she ran again in ward 2 and was handily re-elected.

With the 2018 municipal election in October expect to see Meed Ward running against the current Mayor.

The Gazette doesn’t agree with everything Meed Ward does but she is much, much closer to what a politician people in Burlington want to see representing them.

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 city Councillor and Central high school parent Marianne Meed Ward at a school board PARC meeting.

Which gets me to the point of all this: Where were those leadership skills when it came to Meed Ward’s service as a member of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC)?

That group of fourteen people was desperate for some leadership. Meed Ward could have given the group a strong sense of what needed to be done.

What went wrong?

PARC with options on the walls

PARC members deliberating with options on the walls

The members of the PARC certainly knew who she was. There was some concern expressed over a member of city council taking part in a Board of Education matter.

The Gazette didn’t have a problem with Mead Ward taking on the assignment. The Central high school parents asked her to represent them and given that she had a child attending the school she qualified.

We believed that Meed Ward knew the difference between the two roles she was playing. She was doing what the Mayor should have done. Mayor Goldring took the weasel position of sending his city manager to the PARC – James Ridge displayed a significant lack of knowledge when he said the school board should not sell any school property. Once a property is declared surplus the Boards of Education are required to sell property.

It was pretty clear by the second formal PARC meeting that they were stumbling. While the Board of Education Superintendent who was tasked with running the PARC had a lot of rules that he imposed those 14 people were bound by any of them. They had no input in the creation of the rules and began to realize that they were being manipulated.

To this day I don’t understand why someone: Steve Cussens , Steve Armstrong, Lisa Bull or Cheryl De Lugt – anyone, didn’t invite everyone over for a BBQ and have a frank and open discussion. The opportunity was there – they didn’t take it.

Central and MM question at PARC Feb 9

PARC members ranking the various school closing options that were put in front of them.

Without the leadership that was needed the best the 14 PARC representatives could do was protect the school they were representing.

The chance to take the high road was missed. They ended up hurling invectives at each other. The Bateman people panicked when they saw their school as marked for closure and claimed the Central parents had thrown them under the bus.

Whatever opportunity there was for a consensus was lost; the people power Meed Ward talks about wasn’t seen at any of the PARC meetings.

There is a phrase that Meed Ward uses when she talks about why she got into public service: “What inspired me to seek public office in the first place – “I can do something about that!” And she certainly does something as a city Councillor.

She just didn’t follow that direction as a PARC member.

There was from the very beginning an option that would have solved the immediate problem; options was #7 – do nothing, don’t close any of the high schools. The option wasn’t worded all that well and had a bit of a battle to remain on the list.

Some PARC members thought such an option voided the whole purpose of the PAR process while others felt very strongly that the public had the right to voice an opinion on whether or not they wanted any of their high schools closed.

Mead Ward chose not to take that option and run with it using her formidable skills to rally the other 13 people to that position.

The PARC could have, indeed the Gazette believes they should have, arrived at a consensus – option # 7 was there for them.

MMW typing

PARC member Marianne Meed Ward directing school board trustee Leah Reynolds on how to vote during some of the procedural issues.

The best Meed Ward was able to do in terms of leadership came after the PARC had been disbanded was to send a text message to a trustee with directions on how to vote, while the trustees were deliberating before the final vote to close two high schools.

MMW message to Reynolds

A parent took a photo of Meed Ward’s iPad screen during a school board meeting that clearly showed she was instructing Reynolds. In one line, Meed Ward wrote; “DON’T VOTE IN FAVOR” and in another, “Do not uphold the Chair’s ruling.”

It was not Meed Ward’s finest hour. Many people expected better.

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


Related content:
If there was ever a time when real leadership was needed the above this was it; the PARC infighting was getting dirty.

Meed Ward had to decide how she wanted to position herself once the Director of Education released the final report.

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Gazette reader takes issue with an interview given by the new Deputy city manager.

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

January 4th, 2018



It was an interesting news story – the former Director of Planning doing a sit down interview with Colleen Podesta, a real estate agent. What could have looked like a fluff type interview by someone with a vested interest in the decisions the Director of Planning makes turned out to be something quite a bit different. Mary Lou Tanner, who is now the Deputy city manager explained that “granny flats” were possible in Burlington.

Tanner with Colleen Podesta

Colleen DePodesta, a Re/Max Escarpment real estate agent with Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner during an interview in the Atrium at city hall

The full interview can be seen at: Click here.

Stephen White didn’t see the interview that way.

He sent the Gazette some very pointed comments which were significant enough to be upgraded to an Opinion piece.

Here is what White had to say:

First question: since when were “granny flats” under consideration as an affordable housing option in Burlington?

Second question: since when do municipal public servants express public policy that, at least as far as I know, hasn’t been officially endorsed or sanctioned by Council?

Third question: why are local real estate agents interviewing municipal public servants for a promotional video that will be hosted on Ms. DePodestga’s website to advertise and promote the services of her business?

Fourth question: if a municipal public servant is supposed to maintain an arm’s length relationship with developers, real estate agents, etc., while ensuring a high degree of impartiality and objectivity in the process, why is she appearing in a featured interview? If she were being interviewed at a convention or broader public forum by a news agency that is one thing, but appearing in an exclusive interview for one business creates the impression of endorsement.

Fifth question: As per the City of Burlington’s policy on Media Relations, dated Wednesday December 24, 2014, Corp. Comm. -3-05, it states:

The Public Affairs department, which publishes City Talk, is run by Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs. She directs a staff of 2.5 people plus a summer intern.

Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs.

“The City of Burlington will designate corporate media spokespersons based on their accountability and responsibility. Corporate media relations spokespersons will function as the primary contacts with the media”.

Why wasn’t the Communications Manager the spokesperson on this issue.

Aside from the messaging the optics of this really stinks!


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Mobility hubs and precincts - the evolution of a city as the planners see it. Some of the public want a seat at that table.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 3, 2018


Precincts and Mobility Hubs is a series of editorial features on what the planners have in mind as they develop ideas and concept for a bigger Burlington.

A report was presented to a city Standing Committee last September and approved by council on October 10th, 2017.

News anal REDIt was one of those foundational reports upon which much is built – it sets out how the planners see the core of the city developing; the core is like the root of a tree – everything comes from those roots.

The 27 page document set out the Downtown Mobility Hub draft new Precinct Plan and key land use policy directions. The draft is a key input into the creation of the Area Specific Plan for Downtown Burlington.

Burlington aerial

What will this picture look like in ten to fifteen years?

By undertaking secondary plans or Area Specific Plans (ASPs) for Burlington’s Mobility Hubs, the City continues to implement the objectives of the Strategic Plan and Official Plan to direct intensification, achieve transit-supportive densities and develop pedestrian and transit-oriented mixed use areas in the downtown Urban Growth Centre and at the City’s key major transit station areas – the GO Stations. The Downtown Mobility Hub draft new Precinct Plan supports the 2015-2040 Strategic Plan objectives.

In 2014, the City, along with consultants from Brook McIlroy, completed the Mobility Hubs Opportunities and Constraints Study, which provided a high-level analysis of each of the City’s Mobility Hubs and informed the development of the study areas for future Area Specific Planning work to be done in each of the Mobility Hubs.

In July 2016, Burlington City Council approved staff report which outlined a work plan, allocation of staff resources and required funding to simultaneously develop four ASPs, one for each of Burlington’s Mobility Hubs. The project was approved with unanimous City Council support and expeditious timelines that will culminate in the delivery of all four ASPs to City Council no later than June 2018.

In April 2017, the Mobility Hubs Team initiated the study publicly with a launch party followed by the beginning of a comprehensive public consultation program around the future vision for each of the Mobility Hubs.

In addition to achieving City Council’s objectives for intensification and growth, the Mobility Hub ASPs will also support the objectives of Metrolinx’s The Big Move, including the development of Regional Express Rail (RER) service, through the creation of complete communities with transit-supportive densities, as identified through the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and in the Region of Halton’s Official Plan (2017).

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.

It’s now just a place to refill your Presto pass and keep warm on the colder days. Think of it as an Anchor Mobility Hub – that’s what the planners are now calling the site.

Schedule 1 of The Big Move recognizes two Mobility Hubs in Burlington: the Downtown Mobility Hub is identified as an Anchor Mobility Hub and the Burlington GO Mobility Hub is identified as a Gateway Hub. In the City’s draft New Official Plan, all three GO Stations and the downtown are identified as Mobility Hubs and as areas of strategic importance to accommodate the City’s future growth. Through this growth strategy, the City is also protecting the stable residential neighbourhoods.

The Downtown Mobility Hub draft New Precinct Plan and key land use policy directions will be considered by Council with the draft New Official Plan later this fall. The Downtown Mobility Hub Study remains on target, with the delivery of the ASP for the Downtown Mobility Hub planned for June 2018. Following the approval of the ASPs in June 2018, work on the implementation of the ASPs will commence.

Time line

Time line the Planning department expects to work within. All this takes place with an interim Planner while the former planner, now the Deputy City Manager stays focused on the completion of the draft Official Plan,

The Gazette will report on 12 precinct plans – setting out a map of each and the Draft Intention Statement the planners have for each.

421 Brant

Looming over everything is the 421 Brant development that was approved by city council on a 5-2. A citizens group wants to appeal the decision.

Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan
Parks and Promenade Precinct Plan
Brant Main Street Precinct
Bates Precinct
Public Service Precinct
St Lukes/Emerald Precinct
Cannery Precinct
Upper Brant Precinct
Downtown Core Precinct
Old Lakeshore Precinct
Mid Rise Residential Precinct
Tall Residential Precinct
Downtown Residential Mobility Area Specific Plan

The Mobility Hubs project is funded through the Operating Budget from 2017-2019.
Something missing here

The draft New Precinct Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub achieves key important city- building objectives including: the establishment of a public realm precinct that includes new and enhanced public parks and promenades; the conservation of existing historic streetscapes; the provision of sites for future community and public services; the concentration of tall buildings in proximity to higher order public transit (Burlington GO); the establishment of height peaks and built form transitions; and the provision of development permissions that will attract future population and job growth to the downtown.

The Gazette intends to have as much information as possible in the hands of the public before the critical January 23rd meeting that has Urban growth center, heights, and key re-development sites on the agenda.

There was an interesting interview with the Deputy city manager on affordable housing – worth watching

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New Deputy city manager does a sit down interview with a real estate agent - some interesting comments were made.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 3rd, 2018



The video runs for just over four minutes – you come away with a sense as to part of the direction Mary Lou Tanner had as the former Director Planning for the city and what she expects she will be doing as the newly minted Deputy City Manager.

The interview was done by Colleen DePodestga of Remax Escarpment Real Estate.

During the interview we learned that “Granny flats” are going to be (are?) legal in Burlington. When asked how millennials can get to live in Burlington Tanner said … well it is all in the video – worth listening to.

It is all here.


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In an Open letter to city Council Aldershot resident wants a slow down on the Official Plan - a radical irreversible experiment.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

January 2nd, 2018



Staff have recently announced a new schedule for passing the revamped “Official Plan.” The staff proposed timing is completely unacceptable. This new Official Plan represents a radical change to the city. It contemplates eventually increasing the population by hundreds of thousands of people, allowing hi-rises on thousands of properties with no notification to adjacent owners, removing traditional commercial sites everywhere, making completely unknown modifications to transit and imposing completely unknown costs for it all.

Placing the vote on a decades long plan in April, just one month before the 2018 election season starts in May, seems to deliberately avoid democratic input. Even if the timing is quite innocent, the appearance of impropriety alone demands that the vote be moved off to the next elected council. Staff should spend the next months finalizing a completed Official Plan, completed Mobility Hub plan, and completed Transit Master Plan, with costs. Then we can all have an election on the merits of all of these plans, and costs, and move forward with a mandate and the understanding of the population.

The new plan contains no mechanism to preserve the quality of life for residents; each day seems to have less tree cover, less greenery, fewer local services, more people, more pollution and more time wasted traveling around a congested city. These negative effects are imagined to be offset by a plan for a massive switch to non-vehicular transportation that will be discovered in the future, but has not been presented or costed today. It treats existing citizen’s investment in their property, travel patterns and the lives they have built in Burlington as an inconvenience to be swept away. That theoretical efficiencies in energy consumption or land use might occur on a planning spreadsheet is not sufficient justification to draft 185,000 taxpayers into a radical irreversible experiment.

Additionally, the possible closing of citizen delegations before upcoming official plan votes looks equally bad.

ScheduleCThe effects of the rules and definitions in the new Official Plan requires detailed study, and the public needs much more time to provide proper feedback to council. As one quick example – at first the coloured map (Schedule C) shows pink for “Neighbourhood Centre”, and would seem to protect those traditional commercial sites. This is until you realize that the “Neighbourhood Centre” designation requires re-development to “To ensure the in-filling of surface parking lots (”

NebirohoodDesignations Some of the rules attempt to distort the free market further and remove surface parking in exchange for allowing 12 story buildings on the site. It’s completely unclear what replaces all these traditional commercial sites, or how the commodities of living are to be acquired.

MixedUsageCommericalCenterIt seems as if the current population is to just blindly begin these changes then endure whatever local fallout occurs.

Though Councillors have a provincial direction to review and update the plan with staff, they certainly have no requirement to pass the plan in the current term. Population targets are set out at 2031, which leaves a decade or more before any tisk-tisking might even come from the Province. The current time line is simply not imposed by the Province. However, using this as a pretext again makes it seems like the real purpose of the timing is to remove the discomfort of Councillors and staff having to defend something they suspect voters are unlikely to support.

There is far too much focus on intensification for population numbers alone, and too little on positive intensification to enrich our communities. A focus is needed on quality of life, not the quantity of people. If the plan is worth voting for now, then it should be easy to get re-elected promoting it.


Are they prepared to stake their council seats on the Official Plan that is being proposed?

If members of Council don’t think they can get re-elected supporting it, then they should not vote for it now. It’s that simple. Changes this radical require a mandate, and this Council can help more than ever by making sure it exists for the next Council.

Please help everyone now by defending the people’s impression of our democracy which has placed Council in a position of trust.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional Chair in the 2014 municipal election.  He delegates frequently at city council.

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Rory Nisan: 2018 - it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch.

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

January 2nd, 2018



“May you live in interesting times” — an English expression commonly attributed as a Chinese curse, and an appropriate characterization of the situation in Burlington at the beginning of 2018.

LBP cardWithout a doubt, 2017 was a year of some turmoil in our community. Two of our schools are on the chopping block and the campaign of the Halton District School Board to close schools come hell or high water has without a doubt been a source of civil conflict in our community.

And more recently, Burlingtonians have contended with drastic proposed changes to the city’s official plan, causing outrage among many (and satisfaction for others) as Burlington feels the effects of development agendas.

For those who are engaged on these issues, we enter 2018 with some trepidation. Will the approval of 421 Brant street stand? Will more proposals for sky scrapers at the bottom of Brant street come forward?

Will the 5-2 vote on the Brant street building be mirrored by a 5-2 vote in favour of the new Official Plan?

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Margaret Wilson listening to a delegation during the Accommodation Review of the HDSB decision to close two high schools.

Similarly, what will Margaret Wilson’s Accommodation Review of the HDSB Trustees’ decision to close Pearson and Bateman high schools contain?

As easy as it would be to be fearful for the future, I see many reasons to be optimistic. We are busy people: families, commuters and active retirees, among others. We could be forgiven for not always having our fingers on the pulse of local politics. After all, Burlington is one of the best cities in which to live in Canada.

I am truly impressed at how many stood up for what we believe in this year. I have been most active with the Save Pearson team and many of us were not engaged between elections prior to this issue coming forward.

That has all changed.

Now, moms and dads, alumni and grandparents are working together towards common aims. There are bonds forming, political and social, that will carry us into 2018.

We are seeing Burlingtonians coming together across cultural lines as well. Burlington is changing fast — it has never been as diverse. We could either become more inclusive, or more exclusive — neutrality is tantamount to giving permission for xenophobia to creep into our society. After the Mosque attack on 29 January 2017 in Quebec, we organized a vigil for the victims at city hall. The hundreds of people who attended and signed the condolence book were proof that Burlingtonians want and will take action towards a more inclusive city.

After that, we wanted a more happy occasion to celebrate inclusion and diversity, and so with the support of a dozen faith groups we pulled together the first-ever One Burlington Festival. We celebrated our different cultures and faiths with food, music, dancing and games on 22 August. I am excited to help make it an annual event with another One Burlington Festival in August 2018.

Finally, membership on the City of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee has afforded me the chance to meet several younger Burlington residents. I was never anywhere near as engaged as they are in their high schools years. It has been gratifying to mentor some of the younger members of UN Subcommittee in particular. They are truly impressive and now, at 35 years old, I am finally understanding why it is often said that youth are the future. I aspire to be as focused and determined to be an agent of change as these students.

2018The next 12 months promise plenty of excitement. First, in June we will have a provincial election, which will bring fevered campaigning through the spring. Then, Burlington will hold its municipal election on 22 October along with the rest of Ontario. This one looks like it’s going to be interesting, with multiple competitive candidates for the Mayorship, and a strong probability that city council will not be fully re-elected as it was in 2014.

What I will look for in 2018 is how Burlingtonians will build on the actions taken this year to fight for the city we want, with the schools we want, the downtown we want, and the roads and transportation we want, all coming together to build a city fit for purpose in 2020. I am hoping that a 2020 vision emerges through citizens’ engagement and that the upcoming elections unify Burlington rather than divide us, and put us on a path towards the kind of city we deserve.

Of course, it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch. It is critical to take action to be a part of the change that one wants to see, and that is what I will do.

Will you?

rory closeupRory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization.


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A look at how the June provincial election might play out in Burlington.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 1st, 2018



In our business we get media releases from city hall, from the Region, from the provincial government and from the federal government. Plus dozens of commercial organizations who want a mention. Nice to know that they think we matter.

The number coming in daily from the province tells you that something is up – and of course the expected election in less than six months means the media releases get cranked out for just about anything.

News anal BLUEThere were two media releases today, that are not news but, point out to two changes the province has put in place that make sense in their own right and are examples of good government policy – they were the increase in the minimum wage to $14 an hour and a better deal for the minimum wage workers in terms of the time they can take off for sick days and personal matters.

The hospitality sector has been crying poor over paying the people who take our orders and serve us our food a decent wage. Their hope was that our gratuities would make the job worthwhile.

ohipplusThe other is described as OHIP plus which gives people under 25 all kinds of pharmaceuticals free of charge.

There was a new story of a university student who had to come up with $500 a month to cover the cost of her medications. There is one vote the Liberals can count on.

Both new programs appeal to and were aimed at a demographic that has not been known for its engagement in things political.

Will these two offerings make a difference to the Liberal party’s fortunes? They are said to be behind the Progressive Conservative opposition in the popularity polls.

McMahon - First public as Minister

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon

With the festive season behind us – expect to see a lot more election advertising and much more from the candidates. In Burlington the sitting MPP Eleanor McMahon, who is also a member of Cabinet and sits on the Treasury Board as well, will be on your doorstep. She is an accomplished campaigner – expect her to hold her seat.

While she should hold her seat she may return to Queen’s Park as a back bencher.


Jane McKenna, Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington in the June provincial election.

The Progressive Conservatives brought Jane McKenna back after her loss to McMahon in YEAR. McKenna’s campaign is being run by former Member of Parliament Mike Wallace who has his hat in the ring for the job of Mayor.

They might have been better off running Wallace as the candidate for the provincial seat.

Vince smiling - head cocked

Vince Fiorito – Green candidate in the 2014 provincial election – is expected to run as a candidate again.

The New Democrats have yet to name a candidate. Vince Fioroto is reported to have agreed to run as the Green candidate. This time around he might actually campaign in Burlington – last time he spent much of his time in Guelph where the Greens thought they actually had a chance of winning that seat.

Burlington is represented by three people in the provincial legislature – the constituencies are: Burlington, Milton (covers the northern part of Burlington and Oakville North Burlington.  Editorial on those constituencies will follow.


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In the matter of trust - this city council isn't doing all that well.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2018



It always come down to a matter of trust.

Do you trust the person you are working with?

Do you trust the mechanic to fix your car?

Do you trust the grocer to sell you food that has not passed its best before date?

Trust doesn’t seem to go as far these days does it?

Learning that the largest supermarket operator in the country has been involved in the fixing of bread prices for more than ten years was a bit of a jolt. Many were stunned when they learned that Volkswagen was playing with the emission test results.

Hundreds of Ontario investors are out a lot of money because of foul play on the part of shady financial operators. These people wonder why the Ontario Securities Commission isn’t doing more to right the wrongs.

council with term dates

Thousands of Burlingtonians are close to furious with what they believe their elected officials seem prepared to let take place in terms of growth in the downtown core which they feel will destroy the city they love and live in.

Those same people question who the bureaucrats are working for and why recommendations they don’t believe reflect what the citizens want are sent to city council.

In 2010 the citizens of the city decided they didn’t like the way the then Mayor, Cam Jackson was doing his job and they turfed him. They elected a council that was quite a bit different led by a new Mayor they trusted.

Hold over Councillors Taylor, Dennison and Craven were re-elected. The sense was that Councillors Meed Ward, Lancaster and Sharman and a new Mayor was enough to change the way things were being done.

The electorate was satisfied enough to re-elect all seven members of city council which then let the bureaucrats foist a tag line on them that said:

Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.

The problem with the tag line is that it isn’t true – the “best city” part comes from a magazine that runs a poll each year and they declared the city was the “best”. The citizens of the city didn’t come to that conclusion – a publisher somewhere made that statement and the bureaucrats fell in love with it.

Far too many of the citizens are disagreeing with that statement – the trust that needs to be there is no longer in place.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of a city budget.

Make no mistake however that tens of thousands of the people that live in Burlington love their city – the way it is. They are not opposed to change but they want to be involved in the decisions that are made and when they speak they want to be heard.

When a group of well-meaning people take the time to gather names on a petition they don’t want to be belittled and denigrated by a member of council who suggest the names gathered are suspect.

Dennis Monte at Council

Monte Dennis delegating at city council.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren delegating at city council.

People who don’t have much experience speaking to others don’t want to feel inadequate when they have finished their delegation and are not asked a single question.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating at city council

Jim Young A

Jim Young delegating at city council

Burlington is fortunate to have some very accomplished people who address council; this writer cannot remember a single situation where an idea put forward by a citizen has been taken up by council. With the exception of Councillor Meed Ward, none of the others offer to get back to the speaker and follow up. They may do so – but they aren’t seen to do so.

It is a trust issue which this council does not appear to hear or even understand.

Staff at Council meeting Nov 30 - 2017

The quality of the image is terrible – the city has chosen not to invest in cameras that will produce a decent image. These are the messengers.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

By way of example – the images from Board of Education meetings are clear – and their vote recording system actually works.

Much of what city council is given in the way of staff reports infuriates intelligent, informed people who expect better. City managers serve at the will of council and they take their direction from Council. The bureaucrats are just the messengers – look to the people the bureaucrats serve for the kind of direction you want – and then press on to ensure that your message is heard.

And good luck – very few new faces wanting to become city council members have come forward.  We are aware of two – need more than that. Four of the incumbents might not even be challenged.

Blame yourselves for what you have.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by Pepper Parr, the publisher of the Gazette.

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