Getting More Value For Your Money

opinionandcommentBy Steve Marks

December 6th, 2017



When you’re young, you have this idea that once you’ve got the job you want, you’ll be financially stable. If you’re lucky to earn more money than you need, you’ll never have to worry about finances ever again.

Unexpected expensesWhat we don’t realize is that the more money we get, the more we spend. And, perhaps more poignantly, we tend to spend our entire salaries. Which means that when an unexpected expense comes along, we have to dig deep, take out loans, or use a lot of credit.

But if you’re just managing to live on what you’re earning, what’s the solution? A promotion or raise might be the ideal scenario, but chances are you have no control over that. Your income is going to stay the same, and so are your expenses.

There are some very useful ways to get more from your money. If you do the following, you might find yourself in less debt, or even with a bit of extra cash at the end of the month which you can save.

1. Shop online

There are many reasons people still don’t shop online. You may be wary about buying fresh groceries that you can’t pick out yourself. You may enjoy the process of shopping, using it as a way to take some time out of work in the office or at home. You may simply not want to change what you’ve been doing for so many years.

Shopping on lineHowever, there is one very good reason to shop online that should change your mind. You end up saving money. This is, for the most part, for two reasons. The first is that you’re not going to be tempted by things you don’t need while walking down the aisles. The second is that you can compare prices easily, without having to do more work than most of us are ready to do at the store.

Better shopping habits are one of the best ways to make the most out of your money, and online shopping makes it much easier.

2. Take advantage of credit card deals

If you’re stuck with credit card debt, it might feel like you’ve got an endless mountain to climb. You keep paying money into your credit card and it keeps getting eaten up by interest. However, if you take advantage of credit card deals, you can go a long way towards wiping out that debt.

Some of the best credit cards in Canada will take on your debt at 0% interest for the first year. This provides a great opportunity to make your payments actually count. Also, look out for rewards deals which, if you make good use of them, will actually save you significant cash.

3. Use budgeting apps

Budgeting is incredibly important, as you need to be able to see how much you’re spending against how much you’re earning if you want to change your habits. Many of us aren’t cut out for budgeting, however, and do a half-hearted job of it at best.

Telling money where to goThe good news is that budgeting apps now do the hard work for you. They categorize your transactions, showing you exactly what you spend on, making it easier to figure out what you can cut down on.

Get budgeting, and you’ll soon find you may not need to use your whole salary every month.

Steve Marks is a finance consultant who focuses on the development of best credit management practices for young people.

Return to the Front page

Ontario Progressive Conservatives want to broaden their platform to appeal to those marginally committed Liberal voters and the undecided.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 4th, 2017



The Ontario Progressive Conservative party, much like its federal counterpart is regularly supported by less than half the voters. To win an election they must either hope for a strong NDP showing, to take votes away from the Liberals, so they can come up the middle. Or they could broaden their platform to appeal to those marginally committed Liberal voters and the undecided.

Patrick Brown Looking sideways

Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Opposition party.

The latter is exactly what newish PC leader Patrick Brown is doing. Coming out of a policy convention last weekend he tabled an extensive, if verbose, election platform, the ‘People’s Guarantee’ with 147 promises. It is a shopping list of promises that, in keeping with the season, might have been put together by Santa’s elves. Indeed the platform, for the most part, could have been written for the Liberals or NDP and is clearly designed to draw supporters in those parties over to the Tories.

After Harris and Hudak it is hard to imagine that an Ontario conservative could be so progressive. One could accuse Brown of wanting to spend like a drunken sailor, except for the fact that he is a tea-totaler. Though one has to wonder how he ended up with terminology typical of an alcoholic’s anonymous handbook – one hundred and forty seven promises.

Brown would cut taxes for the middle class by 22.5%, reduce electricity rates by another 12%, refund 75% of child care costs and allocate $1.9 billion into mental health care, in addition to introducing another unenforceable law – the “Trust, Accountability and Integrity Act”.

patrick-brown smiling

Patrick Brown – does he have a lot to smile about.

And there is more in a platform with spending that would make the current Liberals almost look like conservatives. For example there is $5 billion for new subways, 15,000 new long term care beds and a $500 rebate on buying winter tires. Plus he’d be keeping many Liberal programs such as youth pharma-care, free tuition for the needy, and offering a new seniors’ dental care plan.

That’s a lot of cash he’s promising to throw around and the document contains an itemized accounting of where it is coming from and where it is going. Of course it is an optimistic accounting, but aren’t they all? The Liberals are claiming that Brown is hiding $12 billion in sneaky cuts to healthcare, education and other social programs (page 76 of the ‘People’s Guarantee’). And they might be right but how would one know, since it is so difficult to navigate such a weighty and sprawling document, that few will even bother?

Brown is still very much an unknown commodity in the province. A career politician, he spent years on Stephen Harper’s backbench in Parliament, nursing all the right right-wing sentiments one expects of a good Harperite. But he is campaigning as a changed man – he’s seen the light and it’s called compromise – pandering to the softer side of humanity. He even claims to accept a woman’s right to choose and has embraced the LGBT crowd. And why wouldn’t all of this now be genuine? After all his father had run for the NDP a couple of times.


Patrick Brown has his work cut out for him – keeping his conservative base happy and making the Progressive Conservative tent big enough for others.

Will this be enough to win the pink palace? That will also depend in part on whether the public is ripe for a change of leadership. That is the prescription from the right wing media, though Brown may not exactly be the package they have in mind. And it will also depend on the competing platforms yet to roll out from the Liberals and NDP, and possibly the Greens – and whether they can find enough holes in Brown’s platform to shake his credibility.

Patrick Brown is paying for his income tax cuts with the cash rolling in from a new carbon tax he’ll introduce to replace Ontario’s current cap and trade climate change plan. That means for every dollar working folks will save in income taxes they’ll be using sixty or seventy cents of it just to fill up their cars – not quite the bonanza the income tax cuts seem at first blush.

Carbon taxes are sales taxes, regressive in that they affect those with lower incomes the most. And if they are effective in reducing carbon, the amount of revenue generated will start to fall, rather than rise as predicted. So if the carbon tax doesn’t bring in enough cash to cover everything on his extensive laundry list, expect to see the list get shorter – or watch the deficit and debt grow. There is no free lunch when it comes to balancing the budget.

Brown has taken his cue in economic and environmental policy from the federal government, first by adopting Trudeau’s prescribed carbon tax, and second by cutting the income taxes of those in the relatively lower income classes. This provides both a restraint and a stimulus to economic growth respectively. And that is an appropriate approach given that Ontario’s economy is booming and had outpaced the rest of the country last year – best in the G7.

Brown Patrick with headset

Now that he has a platform – the leader of the Opposition now has to get out on the road, get known and sell the book with 147 promises in it.

But with unemployment lower than it has been in almost two decades, priming the pump without also applying brakes will only lead to inflation. Good economic policy avoids trying to fix something which isn’t broken. And Ontario and Canada are both doing well economically.

But some folks just like to change horses every once in a while and they’re entitled – this is a democracy. And if we can believe what he says in his ‘People’s Guarantee’, Brown is a different kind of Progressive Conservative – one that Ontario has not seen since the days of Bill Davis. And that would make him more his socialist father’s son and less like the Grinch he used to work for.

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:

People’s Guarantee –      PC Convention –      147 Promises

PC Platform –      Cutting Taxes –      A Red Tory?

PC Plan to Win –      Who is Brown –      Brown isn’t Transparent?

Ontario PC –      Tax Plan Falls Short –      Ontario Polls

Ontario Economy –      Patrick Brown

Return to the Front page

Call for stronger role from ratepayer groups - does anyone know how many we have?

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

December 3rd, 2017



I would submit that one of the reasons this Council and Mayor have run amuck over the past seven years is because there are no strong countervailing organizations in place to challenge or question their decisions.

There are a lot of intelligent, thoughtful and resourceful people who delegate regularly, or write to their Councillor, or express feedback, but because they are acting as individuals and not as part of a concerted, united organization they get “blown off”. A case in point is the November 13th Council meeting on the 421 Brant Street development.

Your city council members: The Significant Seven.

Your city council members: The Significant Seven. Three of the seven were first elected in 2010 – all were re-elected in 2014. Two have been there more than 20 years

By contrast, Oakville has 17 Ratepayers’ Associations. They offer a strong, sustained and ongoing mechanism through which local residents can make their voices known and their opinions heard. When they delegate their Council and their Mayor listen. When they push the agenda and demand action they are able to quickly galvanize public support and things happen. Their efforts around saving Glen Abbey Golf Course is a case in point.

Burlington crest - with city referenceECoB is a great start, but if it turns into Shape Burlington it will just be gabfest and a waste of time. The time for pleasantries and persuasion is past. I hope part of ECoB’s mandate entails identifying and formally supporting municipal election candidates. Without a strategy in place we’ll have a repeat of 2014 with multiple candidates running in each ward, vote splitting, and incumbents slipping through again.

Stephen White is a Burlington resident who comments frequently in the Gazette.

It is worth noting that the Town of Oakville Clerk reaches out to the community and asks for contact information from each of the known resident and ratepayer groups and ensures they are kept informed of what takes p0olace in Oakville.

Related content:

Shape Burlington

Formation of ECoB

Return to the Front page

Jim Young asks city council why they have put the cart before the horse as they work at creating a new official plan?

opinionandcommentBy Staff

December 1st, 2017



A city Council Committee of the Whole listened to delegations in an afternoon and an evening session yesterday.

There were three delegations from people representing developers setting out the impact the proposed Official Plan would have on their projects.

This was followed by four people who delegated in the afternoon – in the evening there were nine registered delegation.

The Gazette will report on what those people had to say. We want to pass along what Jim Young, an Aldershot resident, had to say. Young is perhaps the best delegator this Council has seen during 2017. He has been superb and taught this council some badly needed lessons. He was instrumental is convincing this city council to maintain the ten minute time allocation for delegation. Staff had proposed that it be limited to five minutes – and council was prepared to go along with it.

During his delegation on the Official Plan Young had this to say:

I am not here today to condemn or oppose the latest rendition of the Official Plan.

Jim Young

Jim Young

Neither am I opposed to intensification, downtown density or the concept of mobility hubs.
My first concern is a Big Picture concern about the validity and workability of an Official Plan that is contingent upon several other plans, if those contingent plans are not yet in place.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe draft Official Plan references the Cycling Plan and the Transit Master Plan, both of which have been in development for several years and are still some time from completion. It also references The Downtown Parking Study, which as we speak is still seeking public input and an Area Specific Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub which according to your timeline will not be completed until June 2018

There are matters of great importance which will impact the lives of citizens embodied in the official plan which council are being asked to vote upon when the prerequisite building blocks are not yet in place.

Is it fair or reasonable for you to vote on detailed areas of intensification and density before we have the Transit Plan in place to move people through these propose areas of intensification?

Can you really make a decision which will determine the walkability and the transport modal split for cycling to ensure livability in our new high density intensified city, if we don’t have a cycling plan in place to support it?

Jim Young

Jim Young speaking at a public meeting on transit issues. He has led some of the public commentary on how the transit service is not meting the needs of the citizens

Can we plan for a forecast 19,000 new residents every 10 years, many of whom the new intensified precincts are designed for and almost all of whom will bring cars if we do not have a parking plan in place? If buildings are approved with 1.2 parking spaces per unit while the average Ontario household owns 1.7 cars, where will we put the all cars? We cannot just hope people will be less inclined to own a car. We need to have that plan in place.

The proposed intensification precincts are premised upon the success and high level of utilization of the downtown mobility hub; yet the Area Specific Plan for that will not be presented to council until June 2018.

The Official Plan Review team has a huge task on their hands and they have to juggle a number of research projects at the same time and manage to find time for real public engagement. The above sets out the projects that all have to be eventually pulled together to create what will become the city's official plan for the next five years.

In 2012 the Official Plan Review team set out how many moving parts there were in the Official Plan. Young points out that many of the parts are contingent upon several other plans that have yet to be determined before the bigger picture is cast in stone.

How do we intensify around a mobility hub when we don’t have the details of what that hub will look like, how it will work? If it will work?

I am asking how can council and staff move forward on this very complex and, for our city, somewhat revolutionary, official plan if the building blocks of all the other supporting infrastructure plans are not in place?

A lot of common sense there. Using a well-worn phrase Young pointed out that the Planners had ‘put the cart before the horse.’ He got that right.

Good questions – Jim Young didn’t get any answers – staff have yet to comment on the points brought up during the delegations yesterday.  That is supposed to take place when the Committee of the Whole resumes this afternoon.

Return to the Front page

Paul Sharman takes a chance and uses some spare committee time to let people just speak extemporaneously to council - and it worked.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 30th, 2017



It was an absolutely remarkable hour and a quarter.

The afternoon session of the Standing Committee meeting was basically complete – all the developers who had things to say about the draft Official Plan had completed their delegations. The Halton Hamilton Hone Builders Association once again made their point that more time was needed before attempting to pass the Draft of the Official Plan

Each of them had what they felt were strong and compelling arguments for the points they were making and the ask they had of Council.

Gloria Reid, on the right with her husband - a welcome addition to the BurlingtonGreen board.

Gloria Reid gently suggested to Council that they could learn to do things differently – that were other community engagement tools they may not be aware of.

Jeremy Skinner gave a superb delegation – if there is an award for the best delegation to Council this year – it would go to Skinner. We hope to be able to publish that delegation in the near future.

He was followed by Gloria Reid who delegated on behalf of BurlingtonGreen. She gently suggested to Council that they were talking the talk when it came to civic engagement but they weren’t necessarily walking that talk. We will report in more depth on what the “teachable moment” from Reid was.

There was still about an hour left on the clock and Committee chair Paul Sharman decided to open up the meeting to anyone who wanted to come forward and address the committee.

Sharman at Lakeside Village visioning

Councillor Sharman was exceptionally engaging with speakers that were invited to talk to committee.

What followed was truly remarkable. The atmosphere was relaxed. No one had anything prepared – they were just winging it – and what we got to see was real dialogue.

No one had rock hard positions – the speakers were told that they had ten minutes. Every one of them ended up being at the podium for at least twenty minutes while back and forth questioning and answering took place.

Sasha Menzies spoke, Christine Dobbs spoke, Don Fletcher spoke.


Hearing Councillor talk about Aldershot grow by 27,000 was a stunner.

It was relaxed – we learned that Fletcher once lived in Aldershot and while talking about intensification mentioned that he and his wife had four children in five years – someone on Council mention that that was certainly intensification – and no one was offended. Fletcher added that he is a sculpture who works with nude female models.

Fletcher learned a lot about how the Official Plan is going to get to the point where it is the law of the land and how it will get revised going forward. Few people in the city understand how complex that process is.

Several of these “add-on” delegation thought the Official Plan should be made an election issue.

Dobbs wanted to know how “information gets out there” and came up with half a dozen ideas straight from the cuff that Council members wanted to talk about.

One of the speakers thought the city should rename itself and use Tyendaga and let that reflect our heritage more accurately.

During the conversation there was an astounding bit of information from Councillor Craven. At maximum build out Aldershot will grow by 27,000 people. That should shake up some of the good folks in Aldershot.

Fletcher talked about the “polarity of this council” – that this Council was not uniform on its vision for the city.

Remembered, respected

Remembered, respected and never to be in the shadow of an office tower.

Menzies didn’t think the Cenotaph should ever be in the shadow of any building. She talked of her 9/11 experience and what she referred to as the “sniper” experience in the United States. She spoke movingly of what it was about Canada and Burlington that she appreciated. We sometimes have to hear from others just how good things are for us in this country.

Sharman as chair of the meeting took a chance and opened things up – not what we usually see from him.

What Council saw was that they are capable of dialoguing with members of Council – and that citizens do have a contribution to make.

Will any of it stick? Gloria Read made the point that “these things take time”. And they do but city council got to see what it is like when they open things up a bit and listen and dialogue with people.

It does work.

Return to the Front page

I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street.

opinionandcommentBy Deby Morrison,

November 390th, 2017



It is unacceptable to be rushing this Official Plan through Development and Committee tonight to head to Council for a vote when the public has been given 14 days to comment on such major and drastic changes to the future of this City. Defer the approval of the Official Plan to June, 2018. Defer approval of the Downtown Mobility Hub precinct plan and Official Plan policies until June, 2018.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Official Plan was released November 9, 2017 to the public, an email went out Nov 13/17 and the public was given 14 days to Nov 27/17 to comment. After only 14 days, why is this plan being considered today, November 30, 2017, at a Planning & Development committee meeting to be sent to Council for a vote? Noted, there were three public open house presentations of this plan from November 16 to 20th, 2017, 4 days, during which time I was out of the Country; I am sure that I am not alone in this situation. Many Burlington residents are still unaware that the Official Plan has been released.

This Plan is recommending drastic changes to the City and is going to forever change the landscape and culture of Burlington and our Downtown. This should not be rushed to Council prior to a specific, detailed design of the Downtown Core has been established and further public consultation and discussion. I haven’t had time to review the entire report, but I do not agree with raising heights to 17 to 25 storeys from 4 to 8 storeys in entire precincts and changing precinct borders without a more refined, detailed design of the Downtown Core.

Burlington aerial

The fight is for what kind of growth there will be on Brant Street – the spine of the Downtown core.

I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street. What a sure way to kill the Downtown core for people and entrepreneurial business and encourage car traffic. What is being proposed would create a most unfriendly environment for people and create a congested traffic mess. This City is going to end up with what King Street in Toronto has become.

Toronto is spending millions trying to figure out how to end the daily traffic gridlock and bring people back to King Street at night. We have history and lessons close by to draw from, why would we do this to our Downtown Core? Who is benefiting from this type of Development and why are we in such a rush to move forward in this manner?

I attended many of the public sessions on developing the new official plan and the grow bold initiatives and was left with the impression that the majority of residents did not support this level of increased height and density in the core. The City is on target to meet their intensification targets of 200 people/jobs per hectare as we are already at 174 jobs/hectare, without this level of intensification in the Core.

It would be irresponsible to change these zoning laws without having a Downtown Design, Transit, Traffic and Infrastructure Plans in place. The traffic and construction time and effect of these buildings will gridlock the downtown in the near term and forever be a detriment to the appeal and draw to our downtown core. Any successful City needs a successful Downtown.

Downtown core precinct

Proposed Downtown Core precinct

Making zoning law changes for Developers over these past years has led Developers to overpay for downtown properties as they gambled on whether or not they would be able to build 23 storeys vs. the zoned 4 to 8 storeys. These Developers have allowed the Downtown Core to become somewhat shoddy as they have not kept their properties in good repair nor have they allowed entrepreneurial business owners to sign long term leases. Developers wanted to be ready to go when “the height was right”. Should Developers be rewarded for these actions; driving up property prices and encouraging decaying property conditions. Why should the residents of the City have to pay the price because Developers are lamenting that they can’t make a profit on 4 to 8 storeys as a direct result of their own decision to overpay for property. Should Developers be driving the design and future of our Downtown Core? Or should the citizens of Burlington be the driving force behind the design of our Downtown?

A wonderful Downtown ‘culture’ has been emerging the past few years with interesting entrepreneurial businesses bringing residents and tourists alike to our Downtown Core. Kellys, a major draw for residents & young people from far and wide, Centro Garden Store & their Sunday Farmer’s market & Maker’s Markets, Tamp Coffee, a major meeting hub for business & residents, the Burro, draws a younger crowd from far and wide, just to name a few and none of these businesses will survive the higher rents these new high rise condos bring.

In fact, Kellys has been given their walking papers by a Developer, Centro is slated for a 17 storey development and we won’t get these businesses back. We should be nurturing and encouraging these business owners, as against all odds, they were building a culture and environment that was drawing young people, residents and tourists to the core. If there’s any doubt about that just look at the current businesses at ground level in the current high rise condo towers: real estate, bank, mortgage, franchise, medical, empty; absolutely no draw or culture to be found.

Sometimes what’s in the buildings is more important than the buildings and we have an opportunity to foster and create that environment in our City. Part of the Downtown Core should be developed into an area where these businesses can flourish, perhaps a Pedestrian Promenade. This should be designed prior to any change in the Official Plan. We only have one Downtown Core, there is no where else in our City for these businesses to relocate or this type of Pedestrian friendly area to be developed. I’m sure if this type of project was tendered to Developers, we’d see some wonderful plans.

We have a gem on the Lake, let’s be careful going forward and foster a thriving “Niagara-on-the-Lake” destination, not a “Toronto Queen’s Quay Nightmare” on the Lake.

I am pro development downtown, however, I am for reasonable, responsible development with a defined design plan prior to pushing forward.

Deby Morrison is a member of the Core Residents Association.

Return to the Front page

Burlingtonians put Facebook to work to get their opinions out - is anyone listening to them?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 30th, 2017


We appear to have attributed a comment made by Liz Benneian to John Was in the copy of the material from the Facebook page.  Mr. Was is offended and has asked that we remove the comment attributed to him.  He has asked for an apology – Sorry John – we certainly would not have you on the side of those who want to do something for the Trumpeter Swans

There are almost as many opinions on the usefulness of Facebook as there are people using the site.  As a society we are still struggling with how to use it effectively, fairly and legally – without doing any harm.  The Americans are still grappling with how the Russians intruded on their most recent presidential election.

Burlington is finding that its citizens have taken to Facebook to get their story out.  The current story is the dis-satisfaction with the way city hall is rolling out an Official Plan and determining where growth can take place and what kind of growth can take place  in various parts of the city.

The approval of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall was what set things off.  Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward putt her views on what is known as the 421 Brant development on Facebook.  Liz Benneian a well known and respected environmental advocate commented on the Meed Ward posting – and then things took off.

Liz Benneian 1

Liz Benneian

November 29 at 9:26am

All the people commenting on this thread, if you want to have any power over these decisions, you need to organize. Share your emails with each other. Organize a community meeting. Support each other in getting your views heard and delegating at Committee and then Council. Be prepared to be in it for the long-term. Organization and persistence are the key to having an impact.

Comments flowed in.  If there was ever any doubt in your mind that social media works read on, and on – and on.

Phillip Wooster I don’t agree with this intensification by adding numerous tall buildings in the downtown core which will destroy the character of Burlington as we know it. But the question must be asked, “Why are the politicians, special interests/developers, bureaucrats supporting this type of development when as Marianne has noted we get NOTHING in return.”

Pam Casey I would like to register to speak at the meeting but before I do register, I want assurance that I will not be booed at. I would like to express my view. Can you make that happen Marianne?

Deborah Jukes I have lived in Burlington ALL of my life in the core as a child, then to north and four years ago, right sized back to the core! Hearing about this plan makes me want to leave Burlington…. this plan angers and saddens me! It shows no respect for our history or the life style we aspired to when we talk about a walking community! Be careful City Council- you about to pave paradise!!!

Candice Carson

There have been a few posts like this providing a bit of an “FYI” to residents but as our ward representative can you please share with us what actions you have taken to advocate on our behalf? From what I can…See More

MizTracy Ann
Some of the buildings that will be replaced by this plan look like they should have heritage designations. Do they? If there are appropriate places for higher rise buildings in the downtown, couldn’t a requirement be that they be designed with retail space at ground level?

MizTracy Ann If we were to distribute and place small signs on our property stating our opposition to the intensification. What do residents feel would be a good message to put on the signs? One clear statement we could all display. Thoughts?

Liz Benneian
Sorry for butting in again. Lawn signs are nice but the very best way to advocate for what you want is to contact your Council members. Phone them, write them, email them. Sign up to have your say at the relevant Council or committee meeting. Show up a…See More

Larissa Fenn
Participants on this thread may also be interested in the relevant background:…/ser…/Official-Plan-Review.asp

Lisa Kane
Do we need to register to attend the meeting, or it is just for speaking?

Mark Sheehan
This video is disturbing to say the least. So in essence, the City planners and the “Rogue 5” Councillors are basically planning to tear down every one of the city’s historic/character buildings that make up Burlington’s charm and heritage and replace …See More

Lisa Quondamatteo Is there any kind of petition I can sign Marianne?

Liz Benneian
My two cents again. Usually petitions mean very little to politicians. Call, write, email, show up at Council. Organize your community. Make this an election issue.

Phil Garner

Thomas C. Riddell
Burlington fine the way it we don’t want to be Toronto lakeshore

David G. Denis
I want to register my disapproval of these plans. What is going on with the City of Burlington? I planned to retire here after living here for 30 years but the gridlock and lack of a downtown is going to make me leave. Is this a high density property t…See More

Michelle Sallows Preyde
Every city NEEDS to maintain a quaint, downtown core if the want to attract tourists, both local folks who shop and eat downtown for the experience and out of town folks who want to experience Burlington.

Leslie Clanachan
Burlington was one of the few cities that voted in favour of keeping the OMB so that should tell you where there priorities are. For shame councillors. I can’t imagine any resident in Burlington thinking this is positive and responsible growth plan. Li…See More

Geraldine Armitage
I think the Council has gone absolutely MAD. I would like to speak but will have trouble keeping civil.

Enid Donaldson
What a terrible idea. I thought what they allowed up at upper middle and Appleby was bad enough.

Ron Dennis
Back in the 1960s, when I covered Toronto Township, (Now Mississauga) for The South Peel Weekly, they had a tall building-loving planner known as Highrise Harry (Petschar). Looks like his ghost is lurking in Burlington city hall.

Iain Stubley Someone must be getting something in return some nice brown envelopes full of $$$$ and trips overseas … very sad how can those in power be so detached?

Linda Yvonne Johnson
How many historical buildings are going to be knocked over for this?? People from Oakville, Mississauga, Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby and beyond come to Burlington for our waterfront and the ambiance that exists in the downtown core. All of this w…See More

Frances C Iuticone
BIG NO. I live in the core. Traffic is unbearable now. I had no idea. Thanks for the info. I’m sharing to everyone

Barbara Hitsman
This is just terrible! I sure hope the city doesn’t let this plan go ahead! These are some lovely charming buildings!!😩😩😩👎🏼👎🏼👎🏼

Marie Grenier Davis
The same is happening in Aldershot, concrete and more concrete tall buildings are part of the plan.

Citizens will gather at city hall this afternoon and this evening to listen to the Planner defend the plans for the Downtown Mobility Hub and then listen to the council debate.

Return to the Front page

This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. Woodruff would like it to become a long serious debate during the 2018 election.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

November 29th, 2017



Burlington released it’s “official plan” recently; a 500 plus paged tome with a plan to pass it as quickly as possible. They may as well have called it “Hi-rises and traffic jams.” Believers in this plan have two precepts. 1) That they have found “good” and efficient ways for people to live. 2) It’s the government’s job to enforce it on the unwilling. The result will be a cost free infinite growth utopia. Here is the net effect of Burlington’s official plan:

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

First it’s designed to make it difficult for future councils or citizens to limit the construction of high buildings almost anywhere. High-rises are encouraged in the “down town” in the “up town” (Appleby and Highway 5) around the Aldershot GO, Appleby GO, Burlington GO, Walkers GO (if province builds) and any “intensification zone” which is basically along any major road.

If you want to build higher then specified – don’t worry plenty of underlying “denser is better” principles are sprinkled through to allow you to win a OMB or tribunal at the provincial level. Placing new heights into the official plan this way effectively overwhelms the original zoning on thousands of properties by writ.

Snow on street - lady - walker

Walking is going to be one of the options in the forthcoming Master Transportation Plan.

Second it’s designed to create city wide grid lock. You can stay tuned for the “master transit plan”, but I can pretty much tell you what it says, “don’t drive anywhere.” Because if you do stupefying city wide gridlock will take place. The city’s solution will then mainly be to hector the population into busing, walking, biking or abandoning travel. Secondarily will be a push to remove parking around stores and GO stations (yes GO stations) with heroic investments into park benches, speed bumps, stop signs and traffic signaling. The theory being the faster the road system is unworkable the faster people will “come to their senses” and be hostages for city provided alternatives.

Third it bakes in the idea of “infinite sustainable growth”. Burlington is set on a vision to first looking like Vancouver, then Manhattan, then eventually like that episode of Star Trek where people were trying to escape population density via fatal disease. No limits or systems on when over building has occurred in an area. The formula for infinite cost free population growth has been found; people will just have to ration.

Even if this all seems great to you the manner in which this is going on should trouble us all deeply. You would think a city which represents it’s citizens should would want a long serious debate on all these plans.

Instead they are trying to rush this massive change through lest it become a long serious debate during the 2018 election. I remember this answer in 2014 when I ran; “The official plan is done” becomes the response when you question the judgement of those involved. That’s the purpose of the rush; to limit the scrutiny of the less involved citizen that might tune in for the 2018 election.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street weeks days before Christmas 2013. Not a lot of vibrancy here – not much height either. This city does not yet know what it wants.

This is not an attempt to make Copenhagen or any other livable European city. Those places have mainly strict 6 floor limits and specific building specifications. The problem from a city planning overlord perspective is that those places can’t “grow forever.” At a certain density – that’s it. They don’t let you come back and bulldoze down the 6 floor buildings cut down all the trees put up high-rises, because that affects the livability of the city.

This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. It not about creating sustainable green transportation options or there would be some concrete proposals to do that. It’s a just magic voodoo to allow infinite sustainable “cost free” growth to be the operational policy of the government. And we will be left with the problems when the snake oil salesmen have moved on to the next town.

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who comments frequently on city wide issues.  He ran for the office of Regional Chair in 2014 and suggests aqt times that he will run for Mayor of Burlington in 2018

Return to the Front page

Rivers: There is a cultural revolution taking place in our society; education and conciliation may be a better pathway to peace than confrontation and litigation.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 27th, 2017



2017 – The year harassment dominated our news! In an epidemic of outings, victims of harassment seemed to be popping out from the woodwork determined to slay their dragons – some of the very people we once respected. The truth is many of us, at one time or another, have been victims or perpetrators of this socially destructive wrong. There is that bully at school, the overzealous landlord or tenant, a supervisor at work or a subordinate or maybe even even a disgruntled life partner.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines harassment as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” Harassment is often related to the exercise of power where an unequal relationship exists, such as an employer threatening employees with job loss or demotion for something unrelated to their job descriptions. And of course harassment is often associated with racism, sexism and ageism. It’s the ugly side of human social interaction.

Former Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein (R), after an Ontario judge found him not guilty on four sexual assault charges and one count of choking in Toronto, March 24, 2016. Jenna Marie Wakani/Reuters

Former Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein (R), after an Ontario judge found him not guilty on four sexual assault charges and one count of choking in Toronto, March 24, 2016. Jenna Marie Wakani/Reuters

Assault may be involved though not necessarily. We recall CBC personality, Jian Ghomeshi, who stunned his national radio audience when allegations of sexual harassment and assault filled the papers back a few years ago. It was hard to believe that such a mild mannered on-air persona, a Dr. Jekyll by day, could also be such a Mr. Hyde by night. His punishment was losing his job and watching his promising career vaporize as the complaints of sexual misconduct piled up around him.

And assault is at the heart of the allegations against Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump and Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore. They have crossed a line which they either didn’t see or didn’t care was there. So they have met their comeuppance, except for Trump who despite something like 16 sexual accusations against him won the last federal election. He just denies everything and everybody as fake news and liars, with even more confidence than former president Bill Clinton.

Trump and access

President Donald Trump in a video that captured his views on how a celebrity could relate to women. It should have cost him the election but America ignored it.

Trump’s unwavering political support for religiously pious Alabama child predator Roy Moore is unconscionable. The irony of sexual predator Trump promoting another sexual predictor, Moore, while attacking former comedian Al Franken for his sexual harassment has obviously escaped him. One can only hope the voting public will place ethics and their own morality ahead of partisanship – but this is Alabama and this is an America in flux.

There is a cultural revolution taking place in our society. But the challenge, as with any revolution, is how to rein-in the overzealous and avoid over-reaction. Wilfred Laurier University (WLU) has hit the news over the matter of gender based personal pronouns and how they affect identity. The binary system of gender identification seems to be inadequate for some who cross over from one discrete gender to another.

One should always respect the wishes of how people want to be called, but it is difficult to understand why the terms ‘she’ and ‘her’ would be offensive to a person who has transgendered from a male body type to that of a female, for example. There is now a demand for the use of the gender-neutral terms like ‘they’ and ‘them’, or one of the new batch of pronouns, ‘ze, sie, hir, co, and ey’ and ‘Mx’ for Mr., Miss, Ms or Mrs.

Wilfrid Laurier free speech

Students at Laurie r University supporting the rights of a Teaching Assistant.

Of course the conflict at WLU is also about freedom of speech and the responsibility of educators to challenge their students to fully explore a subject’s matter. And that subject warns that the deliberate mis-use of an appropriate pronoun applied to someone could be seen as harassment. But looming in the distance is the concern that using the wrong pronoun might also be construed as discrimination under Canada’s recent law C-16. And that might lead to criminal penalties.

Country/pop singer Taylor Swift had been groped while doing a photo shoot with a radio personality back in 2013. After she complained to the station’s managers the creep lost his job and since he was out of work decided to sue her for damages. She’s the biggest star in music today, sings almost as well as me, and could afford the best lawyers money could buy, which I can’t. So Swift counter-sued and won as the judge threw his claim out the window.

Not everyone wants to end up in court on matters this personal, staring down aggressive legal beagles and exposing your innermost self to some fickle judge who might just deliver a bizarre judgement. Sexual harassment is a serious offence, was even before Canada’s government formalized its illegality, but so is libel and slander. And that puts more of the spot light on accusers to get it right – to be objective and fair.

Is the offense just a bad attempt at a joke or is someone genuinely out to hurt? As each new generation replaces the previous one, what was acceptable human behaviour continues to evolve. So jokes depicting racial or sexual topics and situations, once tolerated back in the day, are simply no longer acceptable. Still, the child is father of the man – people are captive to old habits and beliefs, even if those customs are no longer in fashion.

Tolerance cannot be a one way street. Some folks don’t understand that the world has moved on – they need help and education to wake up to reality. And education and conciliation may be a better pathway to peace than confrontation and litigation. That is true in cases of harassment, as in all things, despite the more recent trend to outing the culprits.

Crying wolfAnd sometimes actions and words can be ambiguous. A victim needs to be sure that harassment is what it seems before crying out, in case that cry turns out to be ‘wolf’ and the situation between them becomes intolerable. To that end the Ontario’s Human Rights Commission cautions that harassment needs to be seen in the context of a process – when it comes to words a single vexatious comment is insufficient. Because in the end nobody wants to be victimized twice.

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:

Trump Sex Assault –    More Trump

Weinstein –   OHRC –    Gender Free

Congress Pays – Rampant Congress–    Charley Rose –    Jian Ghomeshi

Why do People Bully –    More Harass –    Even More Harass

Peterson –    Bill C-16 –    Gender Pronouns

Gender Queer –   Taylor Swift –    No Harassment in Russia

Return to the Front page

Tony Brecknock: - it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 26, 2017



Tony Brecknock, a parent with children who graduated from Pearson high school, the school he once attended  came out of the gate swinging at the Administrative Review meeting held to hear the views of parents on a school board vote that closed the high school.  He didn’t choose to thank the chair for allowing him to speak – he went straight to his main point.

“The HDSB policy clearly states that “There must be no fewer than ten (10) business days between the public delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees” , this simply did not happen on June 7, 2017.

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

Tony Brecknock, male figure in the centre, attended the PARC meetings and delegated the evening the vote to close the schools was taken

“I was notified of my delegation on June 6th, the day before I was expected to present and it was received and presented on the same day of the vote, June 7th, which means there was a failure of the board’s own policy, namely to provide the Trustees with the sufficient time needed to fully process any and all information before voting.

“This lack of due process, negatively and directly impacted the final decision to close two schools in Burlington.

“My delegation was to be a strictly timed, one shot presentation – I had submitted over 13 pages full of data – so I made sure to include the documents as attachments in my submission, of which a receipt was confirmed by the Board – at noon on the day of the vote.

“There is simply no way that all of my information was clearly ingested.

Amos and Graves

It became painfully clear that Chair Amos, on the left and the vice chair, Kim Graves did not know how to manage the confusing flow of motions that were before the meeting.

“On the night of the vote it was also apparent there was a lack of understanding of how to proceed.

“It seemed that the possibility of not being done, prior to a summer break, pressured decisions to be made ad hoc – not because of clear judicial thinking, but because of the clock ticking,

“During the meeting, the Trustees constantly bounced back and forth amongst specialists in the room, trying desperately to decipher the rules of engagement that they should have studied in advance.

“From that chaos, random recess’ started to happen – one of which was conducted, strategically prior to the final vote.

“The meeting should have been stopped right there, with everyone regrouping.

Voting by hand

The vote was taken to close two of the city’s seven high schools so late in the evening (after midnight) that the electronic vote software had shut down. The trustees voted by a show of hands.

“This decision was made during the very late evening hours, after listening to an overabundance of information – it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

“The prudent course of action would have been to wait 10 business days, as policy dictates, to allow for a period of reflection before a final vote.

“It needs to be mandated at a higher level, that the Boards are fulfilling their due diligence. They need to ensure they are delivering the best educational experience to ALL students.

“A Provincial moratorium on school closures, was put into effect, just two weeks after the vote for a reason – the realization of a flawed process.

“Had the Board adhered to their own policy, this vote would have been deferred to a time of better and calm understanding.

“This committee and by extension the Board, needs to take this review and adhere to the many key components within their own guidelines.

“They need to listen to those that continue to express dissatisfaction with the result, and re-vote to pause the closures – until they have fixed the process.”

Return to the Front page

We can't continue disrespecting the Indigenous people - school board chair needs to learn how to pronounce the words.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 20th, 2017



It has taken decades for Canadians to begin to come to terms with our Indigenous community.

The federal government took us through the Truth and Reconciliation process and the Halton District School Board (HDSB) has been very proactive in getting the subject of recognizing and respecting the people who walked this land long before white people first sailed up the St Lawrence River.

Burlington doesn’t have an Indigenous population – we don’t have any direct issues to deal with. Thunder Bay is in a very different situation – something they struggle with.

The HDSB now makes a practice of having the Chair reads out a statement at the beginning of each public meeting.

Amos treaty land statement

Statement read at the beginning of every public session of the Halton District School Board.

There was a time when that Board may have had everyone stand up and Sing God Save the Queen or O’Canada
Most of us knew the words or at least some of them.

The Chair of the Board read the Honouring the Land and Territory  – she shouldn’t have, at least not until she has taken the time to learn the correct pronunciation and is able to get her tongue around the more difficult ones.

To read the statement so badly is an insult to the Indigenous people.

There are Indigenous people on staff that can help the Chair get the pronunciation right. Some of the words are not easy – practicing and getting it right is what we owe these people. If HDSB Chair Kelly Amos cannot do it right  – better not to do it at all.

Our ancestors took their land, do we have to mangle their culture?

Return to the Front page

Is community organizing taking on a different shape in Burlington? Have the citizens had enough of what the current city council doing to them?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2017



How can citizens have some control over the changes that are made to their city?

The current crop of politicians on city council take the view that they were elected to lead and so they bring their values and approaches to leadership – failing to connect in a meaningful way with what their constituents think.

That just might be changing in Burlington.

There are currently three community groups protesting against decisions that city council has made or might be making in the months ahead.

The 421 Brant development is a done deal. The best the citizens were able to do was put together a petition and pack the city hall chamber with unhappy people. City council paid even less than lip service to their concerns and approved the project. There is a rumbling going on about a possible appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that doesn’t look as if it has any traction.

421 Brant

Approved by city Council November 13th, 2017

While the 421 Brant decision is truly trans formative for the city – there wasn’t a deep understanding as to just what it is going to mean longer term. And while there were some strong points made during the delegations at the council meeting where the development was approved – there wasn’t a focused group behind the protests.

And, not everyone was against the development.

Brant street is a bit of a mess – it is a location badly in need of some of that “vitality” many think it already has. There are those who want things to be the way they were 40 years ago. The decision to grow the population and the geographical boundaries the city has to work within meant growing “up” and not out. The Burlington we had 40 years ago is no more.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17There are two other projects that have people upset: The plans Meridian Brick has to begin mining for shale in the eastern sector of their property off the upper part of King Road and the Tyendaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) group that wants to bring that to a halt.

Graphic of TEC quarry

West Have residents don’t want the third shale quarry site to get into production. Saving their homes and 9000 trees is seen as critical to a planet that is staring climate change in the face.

Then there is the Plan B group that wants to ensure that the city doesn’t screw up the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site.

Plan B rendering

What a group of well funded citizens want the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site to look like.

The TEC and the Plan B people are taking a much more focused and well-funded approach to their issues.

The best that the people opposed to the height of the 421 development could do was get the support of the ward Councillor and deliver a petition to city council.

The Plan B and the TEC group have gone to their community and raised funds and then retained professional help to take on city hall.

There is talk amongst the movers and shakers about creating a slate of candidates for public office in Burlington and electing a council that represents the interests of everyone and not just the limited understanding that most members of the current city council have.

Burlington City Council Group

City Council: Three of the seven were first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. One of the other four has been around for as long as 24 years.

To be fair to this city council – they were all re-elected in 2014 after being elected in 2010 – they felt they had a mandate. The people that are complaining now are the people that voted them all back into office in 2014. Surely there was enough evidence at the end of their 2010 term of office to know what they were going to deliver.

Are they politically adroit enough to change course and get ahead of the parade of protest that is taking place?

Or will enough of them give it up and move on to retirement. Councillors Dennison and Taylor have been in office for more than 20 years, the Mayor and Councillor Craven have close to 15 years as public servants behind them.

The big question is going to be – where will the new blood come from? Are there any prospective candidates out there that show at least some promise?

Salt with Pepper is the publisher’s opinion column.

Return to the Front page

Rivers wonders if the over-population of earth is what is going to drive us into space and living on some other planet.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 18th, 2017



A reader recently suggested that we might have to leave this planet should the consequences of climate change become overbearing. Fortunately for him astronomers have been working on that very solution.

They have located a planet which just might do the job as our next residence – a new earth for us after we have filled-up all the proverbial ashtrays here. It is an unfortunate human condition for too many of us – move on rather than clean up the teenager’s bedroom we live in.


The Planet Ross B

The planet Ross 128 b has a temperature not unlike ours, today. And it is only 11 light-years away – too far for the daily commute but, at only 65 trillion or so miles, it might be close enough for the hardiest and youngest among us to relocate. And the really good news is that, being about a third larger than our earth, it will be that much longer before we’d need to move again.

To expedite this kind of travel, scientists are working hard to invent a functional working particle transport mechanism, like the one used to ‘beam them up Scotty’. That would allow space cadets to avoid those deep-sleep chambers which Stanley Kubrick imagined in his travels with HAL back in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course I am expecting any day to hear that the amazing Elon Musk has developed a new Tesla which can reach warp speed.

Starship Enterprise

The Starship Enterprise – many of us were raised on the story of that adventure. Was it just a peak of what is to come?

Kubrick’s flick dates back to the late sixties, well before most of us had even heard of global warming. But now it is over two decades since the global science community came together in Rio (1992) to really ring the alarm bell. Brian Mulroney should always be remembered for the leadership he showed in bringing his minsters on-side, back then, with all things environmental including the changing climate.

In fact most of Canada’s political leaders have done more than just pay lip service to the environment. Pierre Trudeau led the fight against acid rain, Mulroney expedited the clean-up of the Great Lakes, and Chretien signed onto the Kyoto climate agreement, though he did little about actually implementing it. But Stephen Harper was the odd man out, pulling the country out of Kyoto and eroding other environmental protection safeguards.

GW Bush must have been Harper’s mentor, for they were in lock-step on tax cuts for the rich and the war in Iraq, as well as global warming. In the end Bush was so reviled by his peers and party that he wasn’t even invited to attend the GOP leadership conventions. Who would have thought America could have had a worse president, at least until Mr. Trump showed up?

scheer - big smile

Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal opposition

And now Harper’s protégé, the thirty-something Saskatchewan. MP Andrew Scheer has taken over the reins of Canada’s second party. Scheer is not yet a household name so has embarked on an advertising campaign to that end. But the early ad I watched was just fluff, the safe stuff all politicians are guided to spout – where’s the beef? He has been labelled a social conservative and today that tag represents some of the most divisive aspects of social policy, particularly when it comes to gender politics, a woman’s right to choose and the environment.

Coming from the prairies it is unsurprising that this young Diefenbaker mostly echoes the tired ideology of Brad Wall, the province’s outgoing Premier – oil is king and never say yes to a carbon tax. But Saskatchewan is yesterday’s Alberta, at least when it comes to energy and climate change. How ironic that this home of Canada’s socialist party, the NDP, is being led by the neo-con Wall.

Scheer might want to mimic the approach his former colleague and once fellow Harper-era MP Patrick Brown has employed since he became leader of Ontario’s PC party. Brown has seen the light, is a changed man, and from what he has been saying about policy these days almost sounds like a Liberal – a far cry from that last extremist Tory leader. Brown has done a one-eighty degree turn on classroom sex education and a woman’s right to choose. Of course that is not how he campaigned to the party faithful back when he was running for the job.

Something about the climate, and I don’t mean the weather report, is on the front page almost every day now. So Canadians cannot help but think about what is happening to our world. Hopefully the security of our planet will be among the highest priorities of the next Prime Minister to be elected in 2019. And that would mean a real carbon reduction strategy, including a conservative policy on population.

Even back in my day most folks who cared about the environment restricted themselves to simple replacement, a two child family. That wasn’t because we didn’t love children – but because we did – and cared what kind of world we were leaving them. It is estimated that a third child for a family in America would add almost ten thousand tonnes of extra carbon into the environment, almost twenty times more than could ever be saved by any of us turning down the thermostat, adding more insulation and driving hybrid-electric cars.

Tesla recoverable rocket

Tesla SpaceX recoverable rocket. No longer will vehicles go into space and disintegrate when the re-enter earth’s environment – they can now be brought back to earth. The grandchildren cam visit at Christmas.

Indeed the single most effective way for any of us, of child bearing age, to reduce our carbon footprint would be to restrict ourselves to having only one or two children. The consequences to this planet of having as many as five children would be literally astronomical – and would indeed force astronomy and all things related to astronomy to become our highest priority.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes reguloarly 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:

New Planet –    Kubrick’s Movie –   Coal Phase Out

Climate Change –    Scheer Ad –    More Scheer –    Harper Climate Change

More Harper –    Climate Deniers –    Even More Harper –   Reducing Carbon Footprint

Over Population –    More Over Population

Return to the Front page

Jim Young tells about what he heard at a city council meeting - palpable feeling that there may have been a settling of old scores between some members of council

opinionandcommentBy James Young

November 15th, 2017


In November of 2016 Jim Young said to city council during a debate on the amount of time a citizen would have to delegate that: “Sometimes it may seem as if we delegates are the enemy of the process. That we somehow stand in the way of the great works and plans you all have in mind for the city.

“The democratic processes of our city demand that qualified, talented professionals like the city staffs and managers, we are fortunate to have in Burlington, apply themselves to a certain vision of the city.

“That they nurse that vision through the often tortuous process to council for approval and implementation, only to have someone like me, a citizens delegate, put a flea in council’s ear, a spoke in staff’s well-oiled wheel and force a review all of their efforts and the inevitable delay that brings.”

Jim comments on the most recent meeting of city council.

On Monday night Burlington City Council, ignoring the more than 1400 signatures on a petition and the 13 delegations opposed to it, voted to break their own rules governing downtown development and allow the development of a 23 story building in contravention of their own 12 Story bylaw. (Only one delegate, the developer, spoke in favour of the project.)

This was a sad display of council voting against the vast majority of citizen opinion, a rejection of local voices made even sadder by the fact that compromise may have been possible. Instead entrenched positions and a degree of “Not in My Wardism” were allowed to carry the day.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating before city council.

We all know and understand that council cannot be swayed by every nuance of public opinion, we elect them to lead and expect them to do so, but in this instance the opposition was so overwhelming and the possibility of compromise so obvious that the wisdom of the five Councillors who voted for the amendment, in a the year before an election, must be seriously questioned.

Why, for instance, could the developer not have settled on 15 or 17 floors, there would still be ample profit in this, it would still meet intensification targets and be much less intrusive on the character of the area?

Why was there no offsetting land allocation for park or green space? Why does council not hold the developer responsible for affordability units in the development? (Only vague and non-binding considerations on affordability are embodied in the proposal)

While sensible intensification and increased density are supported by all of council, city staff and the majority of citizen opinion, last night’s decision to allow a development so far removed from the official plan, existing bylaws and any sense of building proportion, may well prove to be a tipping point in the eventual destruction of Brant street as we know it. Other developers have already snapped up adjoining properties and now have the green light on non-complying developments.

Ironically, the idea of downtown walk-ability and community vibrancy that the downtown plan seeks are the very things that will be destroyed by developments like this as the floodgates open and they become the new downtown.

On Monday night, there was palpable feeling that there may have been a settling of old scores between some members of council and ward 2’s Councillor Meed Ward. It would be a sad day indeed if decisions of this importance are based on past enmities. Hopefully, electors will such behaviour accountable in next year’s civic election.

Jim Young

Jim Young as he thinks through a point he is making at a transit meeting.

On the subject of elections, if I may be so bold as to offer Councillor Dennison some advice: Questioning the integrity of a well-intended citizen petition is just not smart politics. Even if a few of the more than 1400 signatures were not fully vetted, disparaging the integrity of the signatories as well as insulting a lot of citizens, ward constituents and voters, is hardly the way to encourage civic engagement by well-meaning citizens. If a few signatures were disqualified would 1399 have swayed you?

Mayor Goldring had to remind the gallery of the rules of decorum at the groans which accompanied one Councillor’s suggestion that this would not set a precedent for future downtown development, (by Wednesday, one more developer had requested approval to add two more stories to a proposed building at Locust and Elgin Streets) or that council’s rejection of citizen input is a template for future engagement.

While he insisted, we will listen in future and staff will listen in future. The groans from the gallery suggested: “Then why are you not listening now?”

Burlington City Council loves to parade their national and international honours and laurels for civic engagement. They now have to learn that when you talk the self-congratulatory talk you must also walk that walk!

When you ask citizens to come together, ask for their input, then, when they do, you overwhelmingly reject them, you can no longer claim that high ground on civic engagement.

You either listen to your voters and compromise or they will assume their voices are only heard at election time with all the future electoral consequences that entails.


Return to the Front page

Is there a way to make what many feel is a minus into a plus for the city?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 15, 2017



The decision has been made.

421 BrantThe condominium that is to be built on the corner of Brant and James Street is to rise up to 23 storeys.

How many parking spaces, the number of elevators, how many, if any, affordable units – all that will get worked out in the months and weeks ahead.

We now know that the land assembly of the block to the south is all but complete – just the jewellery store to be acquired.

What we heard however is that the block to the south – the one that was once the Elizabeth Interiors operation – is going to be limited to 17 stories – a limit that is set out in the Downtown Core Mobility Hub that isn’t cast in stone yet.

That could be both a mistake and a missed opportunity.

We have yet to hear much in the way of negative comment on city hall as a structure. It gets referred to as “iconic” and the city planner likes the building.

Given that we are going to have high rise buildings can we not make the best of it.  If the city hall is really “iconic” (I’ve yet to be convinced) then feature it.

While Burlingtonians hate Toronto being made a reference point – bear with me.

When you drive up University Avenue from Front Street and approach Adelaide there are two towers (Toronto type towers) on either side of the street. Both are Sun Life Assurance buildings meant to frame University as you go north.

University Avenue Toronto

Set aside that the two buildings on either side of University Avenue in Toronto loom over the street – it’s Toronto. Note the way they frame the street.

The photograph we have dropped in isn’t all that good but it makes the point. It is possible to have buildings in place that serve as a frame to what lies beyond.

Now come back to Burlington and place yourself on James Street a block or two along the street and look towards city hall.

James looking at city hall

James Street looking west to Brant Street.

The current Carriage Gate building, on the right in the photograph, which is going to be turned into a 23 story tower. That is a done deal.

The property on the left, now the vacated Elizabeth Interiors store will fall within the rules that are going to govern the development limits for the Downtown Mobility Hub.

There is an opportunity here.

Someone with initiative and a desire to see something significant come out of the decision that has been made could pick up an idea like this and make a difference.

Why not work with Carriage Gate and Revenue Properties (the people who are assembling the block south of Brant and James) and build a better city.

Look for a design that is as close as possible to identical in design and have them rise to the same height. Same set back from the side walk; same trees, same patio set up, same sidewalk furniture.

The public art set outside each building would complement each other.

That is something that people could be proud of and perhaps change the way downtowners look upon their city. For those who need the quaint and historical the Queen’s Head and the old Russel Hotel will still be there.

Can the 421 project be more than just the first high rise tower in the downtown core?

Look at the Sun life building on University.

All this assumes that those opposed to the Carriage Gate building don’t take their beef to the OMB.

Return to the Front page

Do public petitions make a difference? Are they worth the paper they are written on?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 13, 2017




Do they make a difference?

421 Brant

The 421 Brant development, approved by a city council Standing Committee, goes before city council for approval this evening.

Are they an accurate barometer of what the public in general is thinking or are they an opportunity for people who are opposed to something to show their opposition?

Do the politicians pay attention to petitions?

In many cases a petition is the only voice people have when they want to oppose something their government.
The current petition asking the city to stick to the current zoning for the northeast corner of Brant and James streets was put forward by Joanne and Kevin Arnold who said they created the petition to change something they cared about. 1384 people have added their name so far.

The people who are opposed to the New Street Road Diet have collected 2641 signatures as of January – that is the most recent number – appear to have signatures from the ward the bike lanes are in.

UPDATE: As of Nov 13th there are 3262 signatures, plus 500 signatures on a hard copy of the petition.

A number of years ago Councillor Marianne Meed Ward created a petition to oppose the sale of lake front property the city owned between Market and St. Paul Street – she got more than 2000 names on that petition. The property was still sold.

Those opposed to the now recommended development at Brant and James have the right to delegate before city council.

The city is faced with a serious problem – they are required to add significantly to the population of the city and there isn’t very much land on which to build new homes. They can’t build out – so they are going to build up. And they chose to recommend to council that a project that would have 23 storeys be approved. The 5-2 vote was pretty emphatic.

Are those opposed to the development – they say they are not opposed to height they just don’t want it built on property so close to the waterfront – wanting a Burlington that cannot be sustained?

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating before city council – he was one of the few that had anything to say about the development at a city Standing Committee early in November.

There were not very many public delegations speaking against the development when it was at the Standing Committee stage. The city manager spoke more forcefully for the project than any city manager has spoken in this reporter’s memory.

City councils are elected – put in office to serve the people. If the public is really, really, really opposed to this project have several hundred of the 1380 who signed the petition get off their couches and head for city hall and use their five minutes to demand that city council respect their wishes.

Something like THAT would have an impact.

The Gazette has published the delegation Tom Muir,  an Aldershot resident will make to city Council this evening.  A review of the comments about his delegation is worth a read – it gives a sense as to how the public feels about this issue.

An Open Letter from former Mayor Mary Munro to the current Mayor is also a solid insight on how this development proposal has been managed.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by the publisher and sole share holder of the  Burlington Gazette.

Return to the Front page

War is hell - art is used to convey just how dark a hole that hell is.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

November 11th, 2017



The art of war – that statement can be taken several ways.

It could be the methods used to kill people when we are at war. Goodness knows we have read more than enough about just how inhuman we can be.

Art has also been the form we use to show the horror of war.

Slide01Dave Barry used art to talk about what war at a presentation he made at the Teresa Seaton Gallery on NAME Saturday afternoon.

Using a very impressive collection of pictures Barry took his audience through

Using the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words we are going to let the art tell the story. There were 97 pictures used in the presentation.

This feature shows just a portion of the presentation.Slide22Slide13 Slide19Slide52


Return to the Front page

A former Mayor said to the current Mayor that ...


opinionandcommentBy Staff

November 11, 2017



What does a former Mayor say to the current Mayor on issues they disagree on?

Munron Mary

Mary Munro – Burlington Mayor 1997 and 1998

Mary Munro, Burlington’s Mayor in 1977 and 1998 has said to Walter Mulkewich Mayor from 1992 to 1997 that she didn’t ever vote for a high rise on Lakeshore Road.

The Bridgewater project was approved during Mulkewich’s term as Mayor.

Now Munro wants our current Mayor to know that she isn’t particularly impressed with what he is doing either.

In a Letter Munro said:

Dear Mayor Goldring:

First of all, I was bemused the City Manager, James Ridge, led off @ what was a Planning Committee discussion of a proposed project. Also bemused by his statement of the desirable merits of the project, leaving no doubts about his support. I wonder about Ridge’s history and his planning experience, let alone the propriety of his intervening @ the outset of discussion — would it be he wanted to forestall the usual agenda, i.e. Planning Dept.’s introduction and explanations of the effects of the project? or to discourage interveners’ arguments or presentations ?

James Ridge - looking right

Burlington city manager James Ridge

I believe Ridge’s statements were prejudicial to the aim of the public meeting, i.e to hear from Burlington citizens their views, and to let City Councillors debate the issues without the bias, possibly formed by Ridge’s remarks.

On the merits of the project , as an active and involved Burlington resident since 1959, I somehow “blew it” by long before now, not being aware of the changes to the Official Plan and Zoning By-Laws that allow dense development on Burlington’s “Main Street “. I thought , obviously wrong, we all had a vision of Burlington following the wise moves of our sister communities on the shores of Lake Ontario to stand against density in their downtown and to promote historical and profitable enterprises in their town centres.

It seems to me, B has little likely hood of becoming more than a city of tall towers, not treasuring it’s history and wonderful attractions. More than that, it might be possible to affect change, so late in the game, by looking carefully at candidates in our next City election.

Ask yourself, do we really want reps who say “The future is in tall buildings.” Or one who called “the project fantastic”. Or one who said ” Councillors have to view everything from a high level'”.

This is your city evolved by truly dedicated people — so why not take ownership of your own interests in how we live?

Mary G. Munro

Return to the Front page

Governor General upsets some with her comments on science and Divine Rights.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 11th, 2017



It’s not a compliment. Calling our federal environment minister ‘climate barbie’ is a sexist trick intended to demean her and distract the public from the serious work she is doing. But The Rebel, Canada’s alt-right publication, is using this ad hominem because they don’t have a single shred of evidence to disprove the climate science she supports.

Rebel_LogoWhy is it that The Rebel and its co-conspirators on this topic, the shrinking but determined pool of climate deniers, see this the earth’s climate as a partisan issue? And how can survival of life as we know it on this planet be even an ideological issue? This is a good question to ask as we learn that CO2 levels are now the highest they have been in a million years.

Of course climate change is happening and of course we humans are almost entirely responsible. Denying reality won’t make the problem go away or allow us to hide in an alternate universe, in the right wing. And calling an environment minister names will not change public policy in this country. At the end of the day even Mr. Harper realized that he had to take global warming seriously.

Perhaps in time his replacement, Mr. Scheer, will as well.


Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Opposition, House of Commons

Andrew Scheer has some history with The Rebel, at least through his campaign manager from the Tory leadership race. So when somebody in Catherine McKenna’s office sent a congratulatory note to two of the remaining nations to sign on to the Paris Climate Agreement, Scheer, he couldn’t help himself and fired a volley at the minister. But rather than get embroiled in squabbling over this nonsense McKenna elected to apologize and let the matter die.

It wasn’t like she was congratulating the despotic Mr. Assad on his human rights record – just that Syria was joining the rest of the world in agreeing to subscribe to global climate change targets. That by the way leaves only one significant polluter and rogue nation out of the global movement to combat this serious problem. And given what we understand about the changing climate, that is more scary for us than what’s happening in Syria.

The Rebel represents the worst in right wing extremist journalism. Their correspondents have even been banned by the Alberta government for their obnoxious behaviour. Not just a sexist rag, it has also cast itself as racist, given its response to the Quebec mosque shooting last year and its reporting of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville Virginia. Its coverage of that white supremacist event, which culminated in street violence earlier this year, led to mass resignations among the less extreme supporters of this particular medium.

But The Rebel and its publisher are not relenting, even as Post Media, the other Canadian right wing standard, is trying its best to steal some of the almost million Rebel followers to boost its own ratings. So this week veteran Post journalist, Rex Murphy, tore into Canada’s new governor general (GG) for stating the obvious, telling us what we already know about science and the challenges scientists faces in an ever skeptical world of alternate facts and social media.

Astronaut Julie Payette speaks as she presents the Quebec government the Quebec flag she brought with her in mission on Space Shuttle Mission STS-127, in Quebec City Thursday November 26, 2009. Payette says the controversial one-way mission to send people to live on Mars is going nowhere. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard

Governor General Julie Payette

Her Excellency Julie Payette, Canada’s former astronaut has exceptional qualifications in science and was addressing a science policy conference. Along with puzzling at the wherefore of climate change denying, she moved on to question people’s faith in horoscopes before shifting to that other faith – the wording Moses supposedly wrote into the book of Genesis – the one about creation. And seriously, nearly two centuries after Darwin there are still folks out there who deny that humans are an evolved species.

And this is important since while Ontario’s separate (Catholic) schools are required to teach evolution, that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to teach human evolution. But it wasn’t just Rex ranting. Andrew Sheer also leveled both barrels at the new GG.

Then outgoing Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall jumped in, actually sending the GG a personal letter scolding her and lecturing her to better behave if she ever plans to visit his province.

But earth to Brad, the GG is head of state (Queens representative) and doesn’t need your invitation to visit Canadians anywhere. Given that the the province’s police force, the RCMP is also Canada’s national police force, it’s not clear how he would stop her anyway. And she can speak on almost any topic she chooses, after all her position is non-partisan though hardly non-political.

Human evolution is a touchy subject since it does touch on the Bible and some other belief systems, such as those held by our indigenous folk. But Scheer and Wall are likely more bothered by her comments on climate science than her observations on our acceptance, or not, of evolution. Perhaps it is the other faith – faith in the future of fossil fuels – which is most threatening them. That would account for their over-reaction to a scientist speaking science at a science conference.

Many years ago, then newly appointed governor general (GG) Ed Schreyer was guest speaker at the University of Ottawa where I received my Masters degree. A former MP and Manitoba Premier, an environmental leader and a social progressive, there was just so many topics he could have explored before the crowd of eager young graduates. Instead he plunged right into discussing the eternal struggle between the arts and the sciences.

Give me Julie Payette any day.

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:

Payette Speech –     Ed Schreyer –     Divine Intervention –     Payette Climate Change

Rex’s Attack –    More Post Attack –     Julie Payette –     Payette Defence

CO2 Highest in a Million Years –    McKenna Syria –    Climate Barbie

Separate Schools Evolution –    The Rebel and Scheer –    Scheer and Climate Change

Return to the Front page

What's the rush - slow down and let the public decide what should be done during the next municipal.election

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 9th, 2017



What is the rush?

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Draft of the Official Plan will be public on Friday – it runs close to 1000 pages. Those with a major interest in the contents of that document are going to have less than 20 days to respond to it.

Suzanne Mammel, the Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) Executive Officer explains that Official Plans usually go through at least half a dozen versions. The current document is in its second version.

Burlingtonians complain loudly and frequently about how city council fails to uphold there Official Plan.

There are four Mobility Hub studies taking place. The city wants to get the Downtown Core Mobility Hub approved before the end of the year.

Emerging Preferred conceptThere are the plans for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel property that the city is pushing with their Emerging Preferred Concept. There are citizens who don’t like what they are seeing.

What’s the rush?

The word is that James Ridge the city manager wants as much of this as possible approved by city council before they all move into major election mode.

There are citizens who want to suggest to the city manager that he lighten up and let these issues become election issues.

Related news stories:
The HHHBA has issues with the draft Official Plan.

What the HHHBA had to say with the first version of the Official Plan

Return to the Front page