Where is the structural change to make Burlington a truly inclusive city going to come from?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 22nd 2017



We recently published two articles that lead us to this third article.

In January we published the Mayor’s State of the City in full. The Gazette has done this for the past five years – it gives citizens the opportunity to review just how the Mayors sees the city he governs.

Earlier this month we did an article on the Friday Night Community event that takes place at Wellington Square United Church where some 300 people gather for an evening of fellowship and a meal that gets put together by one of the more ambitious bunch of volunteers from different faith communities in this city.

Pic 2 - ladies at a food table

Setting up a food table at Wellington Square United Church Friday Night Community event.

Lisa Lunski co-ordinates the event at Wellington Square. Glad Tiding Pentecostal church in the Guelph Line – Upper Middle Road part of the city also has a program where more than 300 people gather regularly.
St. Christopher’s Anglican Church also has a program.

These are not “soup kitchen” operations. These events are intended for people who, while perhaps marginalized, are active and have the same social interaction needs as any other group.

Some people meet regularly at the Legion, others go to one of the four Rotary clubs in Burlington – everyone needs to be part of something.

Spend half an hour at a Friday night community at Wellington Square United church and experience the caring, the sharing and the fun that goes on. I’ve never seen anyone at a Legion hand out a birthday card to a member.

Someone at Wellington Square seems to know when a birthday is taking place – and it gets remembered.

The crowd in the Wellington Square kitchen is a marvel – some arrive as early as 7:00 am to get the food preparation rolling. The menu has been worked out and most of the food has arrived – and it all gets done by people that show up regularly as volunteers.


Glad Tidings runs a community program twice a month. You want to hear this crowd when they sing.

Glad Tidings does this twice each month and it becomes a placed where a man named Luke makes a point of standing by a street crossing and pressing the button that will activate a change in the traffic lights so people can cross – that’s the contribution he can make. He also walks up and down |Palmer Drive and caries waste bins from the sidewalk to the door of many homes,

When Mayor Goldring gave his State of the city address he said:

Flood Goldring with chain of office

This interview was the first time Mayor Goldring wore his Chain of Office outside the Council chamber. He was getting used to the job.

“I want to take time today to talk about the whole issue of housing affordability. When I say affordable housing, I am not talking about subsidized or social housing; I am talking about housing that is affordable for the vast majority of people, from millennials to seniors, and everybody in between.”

One got the impression that the Mayor wasn’t interested in social housing – it doesn’t quite fit the image he likes to project of the city. He seemed prepared to leave them at the curb while he does something to make “housing that is affordable for the vast majority of people from millennials to seniors and everyone in between.”

Our Mayor at the same time tells his audience that “we are all in this together”.

And indeed we are all in this together.

Shortly after we published the article on Wellington Square a colleague wrote and pointed out where she felt the need was:

“We need a dialogue on the difference between charity and social development, one meets immediate needs (food banks and food cupboards) and the other changes the structural causes of poverty and marginalization;

“We need a dialogue on community building and inclusive neighbourhoods that create a space for human interaction and belonging, a lot of that interaction starts around food.”

Gift of Giving back logo - 10th

Now into its 12th year The Gift of Giving Back is Burlington at its best.

We are doing pretty well on the charity side – much of the food used at the three churches is raised by high school students as part of the marvelous 10 year Giving Back program.  These are great band aids – what we need are fishing rods so these people can take care of themselves by fishing for their own needs – that is what structural change is all about.

The space between the thinking that was heard at the Chamber of Commerce sponsored State of the City address and the comments made about inclusiveness is very wide.

We do not yet have a table at which all are welcome.

What do we have to change to make that happen?

Related articles:

State of the City 2011
State of the City 2012
State of the City 2013
State of the city 2015
State of the City 2016

Wellington Square United Church – Friday Night Community

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Burlington Downtown Business Association goes on record – keep Central high school open.

Comment 100By Brian Dean, Executive Director
Burlington Downtown Business Association
February 22, 2017


The Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) is a not-for-profit, incorporated organization that represents the interests of its business membership in the downtown core of Burlington. We undertake multiple roles including event management, communications, marketing and advocacy on behalf of the 435 business and commercial property owners in the downtown.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

BDBA Executive Director Brian Dean – is that parking meter on his desk as a keepsake?

We are interested in all issues that affect the present and future health of our unique community of small businesses.

In January 2017 our Board of Directors met with two representatives from The Halton District School Board at our request. Mr. Stuart Miller, Director of Education and Mr. Dom Renzella, General Manager of Planning attended to brief our Directors with a presentation entitled “Program and Accommodation Review Burlington Secondary Schools”.

Central High school

The Downtown Business association calls Central high school a venerable institution.

The representatives shared the fact that two of the five conditions have been met to trigger a Burlington Secondary PAR. Further that the present recommendation includes the closure of Burlington Central High School, and, that a Program and Accommodation Review Committee had been struck. We understand that this PARC is actively reviewing information and garnering feedback from the broader community.

The Burlington Downtown Business Association would like to be considered a community partner to this consultation.

Of the high schools in the City of Burlington none is more venerable or as embedded within an established community of business as Central High School. The BDBA and its member businesses have developed a symbiotic relationship with the student body at Central High School over many decades.

The Downtown business community has a primary trade area, within a two kilometer radius, of approximately 24,497 people. Bounded by a stable residential neighbourhood, our draw includes approximately 1,200 people in the age range 15-19 years. We have observed the value of the student economy to the continued health of several of our member businesses.

Local high school students are patrons of several businesses in the downtown core. In fact, we are aware of some entrepreneurs that have adapted their business models to accommodate the cycle of student schedules. Several businesses have elected to open in the downtown because of the proximity to the high school population which is a primary market for their business model.

Rays with Central sign

There is hardly a storefront on Brant Street that doesn’t have a Save Central sign in their window. More than 1200 of the signs have been distributed.

These same students provide reciprocal value to several downtown businesses as a ready source of labour. Given that Central High School students are generally in the school’s geographic catchment area they are a reliable source of employment for businesses that value a proximal, walk able labour force.

Our business community benefits from the rich group of student volunteers that are critical to the success of our events, arts and cultural programming and other animation. The BDBA in particular, as a chief event organizer has provided Central High School with countless opportunities to explore the forty hours of community service required per student each year.

Further, both public and private sector groups within our downtown have been advantaged by the co-op and intern programs offered to the wider community by Central High School. We value the opportunity to mentor young business leaders and students similarly gain invaluable experience by liaising with community leaders.

The downtown business community has developed an appreciation of the mutually rewarding relationship with our students and the student economy. Toward our goal of making the downtown a “complete neighbourhood” we believe that Central High School plays a key role in ensuring that we cater to patrons at all stages of life.

Evidence of this is the BDBA’s observation that a number of downtown business members have elected to post signs in support of the movement to keep the high school open. As a body that advocates for the best interests of our small business community, the BDBA feels compelled to acknowledge this groundswell of support.

In a broader context, the BDBA has concerns about the potential cultural and historical impact of folding such a storied institution. As a community building organization we value the fact that parents are the city’s primary work force and a key market demographic for many small businesses. Families with school aged children are an important part of the diverse economy downtown; this diverse economy fuels our city centre’s economic resilience. High schools in downtown cores remain powerful agents in creating social networks. It would be unfortunate for families of school aged children to relocate to other parts of the city as a result of a lack of quality schools in their neighbourhood.


How big will the hit to this Tim Hortons be if central high school is closed?

Central High School students and families benefit significantly because of their location within a downtown district. Concerted efforts by community builders to make the downtown safe and livable for young adults results in a higher standards of livability. The result is enhanced facilities like accessible parks and public areas, traffic-calmed streets, better public transportation and other amenities.

In the coming months the BDBA will be canvassing its membership to quantify the value of the student economy to their businesses. We will also endeavour to learn from our business members the value to the students of their high school being located in the downtown core, on the doorstep of 435 businesses as well a several public institutions (City Hall, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Art Gallery of Burlington, Museums of Burlington etc).

Benefits to students include enhanced opportunities for a wide range of co-op placements, work experience, and volunteer service – all within walking distance. The BDBA believes that there is neither this number nor variety of both public and private institutions available to students within walking distance of a high school anywhere else in Burlington.

The BDBA will be assembling survey feedback in anticipation of a revised statement for review by the Program and Accommodation Review Committee.

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Muir wants the Board of Education to fess up and accept public responsibility for the decision to build Hayden high school and then revise boundaries to balance the population between the seven high schools.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

February 22, 2017



I had a good hour long conversation with Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board earlier this month.

He told me he saw this Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) process as being about students, about what is good for them. However, when I raised some questions about how these benefits to students were being measured, this goal was not supported with data.

I asked for several forms of data (see below) but have not heard back from him.

Hayden High, named after a Burlington leader in the development of sport for the disabled. Grades 9 and 10 show up on Tuesday.

Hayden High, named after a Burlington leader in the development of sport for the disabled. Grades 9 and 10 show up on Tuesday.

The building of Hayden he agrees is the main driver for the mess. That is something that everyone knows, but unfortunately, for the credibility of the Board and the process you are in, nobody is talking about this. This needs to be rectified as it is key to the legitimacy of what you are doing.

Director Miller said he doesn’t want to go into how Hayden was justified – too political for him, he said. I asked for the paper trail, saying there had to be one, and I want to see it. I intend to follow up on this, and I ask for the paper trail below, but my own inquiry of all the available LTAPs finds that it smells bad.

I have looked into this deeper and it’s not transparent and there is no accountability. There was no justification, except, as Mr. Miller opined, the Ministry was talked into a new school there because the students up there should have a school. There is no justification in New Pupil Places, and Growth Pupil Places, using ministry concepts, anywhere in the LTAPs or Capital Plans.

There is no mention of a need for new pupil places, as the long term enrollment trends were consistently flat to trending down.

In fact, there was scarcely a mention of a new NE Burlington Secondary School to be found anywhere in the LTAPs, just that something about getting one was afoot.

It was clearly a transfer of students from the six high schools to Hayden that was used to fill it. Changing feeders to add to Hayden from Pearson. This much is mentioned, but very little attention was brought to bear.

There was no explanation that I found of why the school was needed, despite stable to falling enrollments, and no rationale was offered.

Gerry Cullen

Gerry Cullen, Superintendent of Facilities and Services; The complex that is made up of the Public Library, the Haber Recreation Centre and Hayden high school was his baby.

The significant issue here is that the staff people who planned and delivered Hayden are not being held accountable, or even explaining, but they are the staff body that is doing the analysis and providing information to the PARC right now. I don’t think you are getting a real drill down and detailed set of options.

The evidence in the LTAPs shows that Board staff basically and covertly fabricated a false rationale, to build student spaces that are not needed, for the opening of Hayden.

So my deep concern now is, that it’s not unexpected that these people can also design and fabricate a false rationale and process to close student spaces – to close schools.

As far as I can see this is what is happening.

All this does is cover up their gross mistake that created the situation, and they are just evading it in order to escape accountability.

Unfortunately, Director Miller, the boss of all this, is too politically shy to bring this accountability forward to the table, and so he countenances and approves this evasion of responsibility.

This leads directly to the conclusion that the Board lacks credibility, which depends on coming clean and being contrite.

Everyone needs to see this, and understand why I persist in raising it as a key issue in the resolution of the PAR.

We discussed information needs and what I would like to see.

Stuart Miller

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller.

1. I essentially demanded the accountability paper trail and business plan of how Hayden was approved.

2. I suggested that empty seats be divided between all seven schools, and then six schools. Analyze what is needed to do this (boundaries), and the relative or net money savings compared to the closure and other options.

3. Show how any money savings will be spent for the benefit of students. I asked for detailed data on; number of additional subject offerings, in what schools and how many students gain. I want to see the entire accounting balance.

4. What are the variable operating costs of the empty seats in Central and Pearson.

5. Revisit student number projections downtown. It is another error to discount families moving into condos as affordable.

These are all essential questions I think.

Beyond these outstanding issues and questions, I have a few things to say about the progress I read about in the Burlington Gazette in the first two PARC meetings.

I think the options outlined so far are directing the PARC to closures. The dot-mocracy process from the Gazette’s latest story suggests to me that the PARC is voting, not to the student benefits, but to save their own schools. I think this is due to the framework the Board is using, that frustrates people to exercise the only power that appears available to them.

Two options that close both Central and Pearson are essentially the same in the biggest and most important outcomes and consequences. People are essentially voting for the same thing.

Having these two options and giving them votes, is like rigging the candidate list so the same candidate can be voted for twice.

You can’t add these votes to get a legitimate result.

This is pretty obvious, but perhaps not to everyone.

These closure options are the worst possible results for students, residents and the city of Burlington.

Dot distribution for option 28

Muir argues that the PARC members are being herded into choices that are not in the best interests on the students and the city of Burlington.

Just look at the criteria met, and criteria not met. Those met by closures are most often expressed in general, vague non-specific terms – there are no details. For example, the “no closures” option; “Does not meet a range of outstanding issues, which prompted the PAR.”

Those criteria unmet by closing schools obviously impact the students directly, in concrete and definitely negative terms. This happens in many ways that you are aware of and I will not repeat here.

These options are definitely not about the student’s welfare.

Unfortunately for the people of Burlington, in my opinion, the Board staff seem to excel at providing rigged and manipulated information and choices to get what they want. They did it for Hayden for seats not needed, and now they are doing it again to get rid of schools.

They have boxed you in to a process that is narrowing and focusing you to vote for what you see as the interest of your school and keeping it open. Since the five schools not really named seriously for closure outnumber the two focused on, you can see how the potential votes are translating to actual results reported in the Gazette.

By way of this message I am asking Director Miller, the Board, and the PARC to request and/or provide answers to my questions, explanations, and requests for information.

If you people want this, you will very apparently have to go after it and demand this accountability.

How else can the Board ever be credible and able to be trusted?

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.”

Muir challenges the decision to build Hayden high school and asks that the Board of Education accept responsibility for the mistake.


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Rivers on cap and trade

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 17th, 2017



Patrick Brown has put the ‘Progressive’ back into the Ontario PC party, as he gears up to give Kathleen Wynne a run for her money in the next provincial election in 2018. His mission is to move his party back to where it was before Tim Hudak took it on a wild joy ride that ultimately alienated the voters.

patrick-brown smiling

Patrick Brown, leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition party at Queen’s Park.

He acknowledges that climate change is real, is caused by humans, and he is in favour of a provincial carbon tax to help mitigate it.

Brown sounds like he’d adopt the B.C. carbon tax model if he got a chance. B.C.’s carbon tax increases over time and is intended to be revenue-neutral since income taxes have already been correspondingly reduced. Not everyone in his own party agrees with him on the idea of a carbon tax though. Perhaps that has something to with it being federal Liberal policy.

Brown opposes Premier Kathleen Wynne’s more complicated ‘cap and trade’ approach to carbon pricing/taxation. Implemented this year, there is an annual provincial greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) cap, which declines every year in line with Canada’s strategy on climate change. All large emitters must buy GHG allowances annually to operate their businesses. As we’ve already seen at the gas pumps, the oil companies and utilities will pass much of the cost of the allowances onto their customers, much like the B.C. carbon tax does.

Smokestacks Hamilton

Air pollution coming out of Hamilton smoke stacks.

The big difference with Ontario’s system is that the price of carbon here eventually gets determined in the market place by the buyers and sellers of allowances. This will eventually take place through an auction, rather than arbitrarily by government decree. It is conceivable in Ontario, though perhaps unimaginable, that the price of carbon could be lower in some future year, because of lower demand for allowances relative to the annual cap – something that wouldn’t ever happen with a flat carbon tax.

A second difference is that Ontario’s system is not intended to be revenue-neutral. The provincial government actually intends to spend much of the proceeds from allowance sales on transit infrastructure and for subsidies to business and consumers to assist them to adopt low carbon technologies, like electric vehicles. The provincial folks feel that is a more effective way to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint, rather than simply lowering their income taxes.

Ontario’s cap and trade will also include provisions for smaller entities to create emission credits, also called offsets, and sell these in the market place alongside allowances. For example a hog farmer could convert methane emissions (~30 times more potent that CO2) into useable energy, thereby reducing those emissions and offsetting his/her normal electricity or heating requirements. Being able to sell carbon credits into the market will provide an additional incentive to spur innovation and help pay for the costs of the technology.

Electric car fill up

No air pollution here: an electric charging station in a city garage.

Finally since cap and trade is a market instrument it requires a large number of buyers and sellers of GHG allowances and credits to work efficiently. So initially Ontario’s program will be integrated with that of California and Quebec, though other provinces and states may join later. A common trading registry and on-line format will be available for all participants in the cap and trade system.

The whole Ontario approach is complex, but no more complex than what we already see with our security exchanges, trading derivatives, hedge funds, etc. And carbon emissions trading schemes do work, as New Zealand, Japan and Europe can attest, though not always without some warts or hiccups. Emissions trading was actually invented by a University of Toronto economist, John Dales in 1968, though the idea that pollution can be monetized goes back much further in economic history.

The US acid rain cap and trade program is perhaps one of the best examples of the effectiveness of that market-based approach. Even the Harris/Eves government ran a small trading program to reduce nitrogen and sulphur emissions from the former coal-fired electricity plants.

The B.C. carbon tax, Canada’s first, received glowing praise for seeming to reduce GHG emissions during Canada’s last recession. But it has failed to do so once the economy rebounded. Since there is no cap on emissions, those who complain that it is just another tax are right. And there is no guarantee that the federal GHG reduction targets, which the former Harper government established and which the Trudeau government has since adopted, will ever be met.

Another negative is that, like any other sales tax, carbon taxes are regressive. Revenue neutrality just means there is a re-distribution of income – a reverse Robin Hood effect – giving the extra money the poorer folks paid to fill their gas tanks to those better off through their income tax reductions. Ontario’s system will still hurt the poor but at least there should be tangible alternatives for them to access lower carbon technology, including, hopefully, less costly transit.

Mr. Brown is certainly on the right track in telling his party to get behind the climate change struggle. He just needs to put politics behind him, listen to the business community and think through on the advantages of the cap and trade program Ontario has just started to implement. And while taking the tarnish off the ‘P’ in his party’s name, he should recall that there is no shame in adopting somebody else’s good idea, but it would be a shame to change just for the sake of change.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray 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:

Patrick Brown –   B.C. Carbon Tax –    Federal Position

Climate Deniers –    GHG –   Canada’s Strategy –   What is Cap and Trade

An Opposing View

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Committee in place to give the Director of Education advice on possible school closings: a consensus has yet to emerge.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 14th, 2017



Scott Podrebarac called it dotmocracy – you cast your vote by putting dots on a chart.

It is a process used to get a sense as to where the thinking of a group of people is going.

Sort of like a straw poll.

When the dots (three to each person) were handed out to the 14 people on the PARC who vote – there are a number of advisors – there were 42 dots to be distributed.

The official tally won’t be released until the minutes of the February 9th meeting are published. The publishing of those minutes will be delayed a bit – they have to be signed off by the Chair who is going to be away from his desk for a personal matter for a day or so.

The Gazette has been able learn what the two critical dotmocracy results were:

Option 19 short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 15 dots.

Option 19, which was the Director of Education told the trustees was the Staff recommendation got 15 dots and

Option 7 - short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 8 dots.

Option 7 which was to not close any schools got 9 dots.

The Board staff recommendation got just a little less than one third of the dot votes that were available.

The other votes were all over the map.

So – at this point in time – after three meetings the PARC has yet to settle on a choice – things are still quite fluid.

Aldershot is very concerned about what will happen to them if Central is closed and Bateman is getting scarred silly that they might get closed.

Central and MM question at PARC Feb 9

Central and M.M. Robinson PARC members write there comments on whether or not they felt a particular option met or did not meet the Framework outline.

The Board has added another day of PARC meetings and is preparing for the first public meeting.

Given the way the December 8th meeting went and some of the hallway conversations that have taken place between parents and Director of Education Miller – it could get noisy.

Many parents look at the data and the facts that are out there and suggest “we are in this mess because Hayden was built” – and that may be so – but the school was built and it did have a significant impact on the class room capacity. There is nothing that can be done – the building isn’t going to be torn down.

The opportunity does exist for some creative boundary re-alignments – and several parent groups who seem to have more of a grip on the numbers than the Board’s Planning staff have come up with some interesting ideas that are now in front of the PARC people.

What we appear to be seeing at the PARC meetings is each set of parents from the seven schools are beginning to do what they have to do to keep their school open.

Nelson is seen as safe because of its iconic status in the city; M.M. Robinson is going to get more students.
Somewhere in all this there has to be some leadership – from either the board staff or the PARC people.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Aldershot high school PARC representatives Steve Cussons and Eric Szyiko are both adept at speaking up and making their point. They can see a yard full of portables coming their way if Central is closed.

There are some very intelligent people within the PARC – will a natural leader emerge and come up with a recommendation that the trustees can vote for?

Don’t expect to see any leadership from the trustees. That crowd is made up of 8 people who are still learning their jobs and a couple of dinosaurs who let this situation develop. There are exceptions: Donna Danielli, who sits on the PARC as an advisor,  is in a position to give the PARC a perspective they need.

At this point the Central people are putting out a very strong case – and they are being very active.

Sharn Picken confering with a parentr at a PARC

Sharon Picken, brash and bold but she knows what goes on in the schools. She is one of the two Bateman PARC members.

The Bateman people realize that their school is at risk and they are now beginning to organize themselves.

The Pearson people are asking that they be given back the students they once had – those that were sent to Hayden where it is said that students are doing their gym classes in the hallways.

At some point a serious analysis has to be done on how boundaries can be re-aligned so that students are distributed more evenly throughout the buildings that exist.

To add to the mix of issues is the cost of the portables that are apparently going to be needed at Aldershot and the cost of transporting hundreds of students by bus.

Four trustees

The trustees sit on the sidelines taking it all in – their time will come in May.

Somewhere in all this data there is an answer. The Board staff are saying that they have put forward an option – close two of the seven schools.

The parents aren’t buying it – the trustees are sitting quietly on the sidelines figuring out what they will do when crunch time arrives for them.



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Are red herrings being put in front of the PAR committee that is preparing a report on high school closings for the Director of Education?

opinionandcommentBy Peter Menet

February 13th, 2017


Last Thursday the Program Accommodation Review  committee was not presented with a 150 page report on AODA prepared by Snyder Architects. They were given a brief outline of approximately six pages. The full report is to appear on the Board’s website. Let’s wait and see where the devil lies.

The asbestos issue was handled very poorly by Board staff. It is my understanding that since the mid 2000’s all Boards in Ontario have tested for and documented the location of asbestos in their schools. My understanding is that this is a requirement of OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). It is also my understanding, having previously been employed at unionized facilities where I was tasked with removing asbestos material, that there will be detailed reports of any occurrence where asbestos has been disturbed and reports of the remedial actions taken.

So the location of asbestos in all the schools appears to be known and well documented.

Asbestos is not an AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) issue, it is an OHSA issue. Now we get into the meat of the issue which is friable and non-friable asbestos, but we have to wait to see what the full AODA report says.

It is unfortunate that the Board has presented asbestos as an AODA issue. It is not, it is an OHSA issue.

Public gallery Feb 9

Parents from high schools that are at risk of being closed listen intently to what the PAR committee members are saying and what staff is telling them.

A considerable amount of work has been done in the province to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Again, we must wait to see the full AODA report to see if the Board’s staff did a disservice to the public by raising fears and a disservice to the PARC committee process.

We have to wait for the full AODA report to be posted on the website to confirm if the architects had been given access to the asbestos documents prepared in the 2000’s and to see how these documents were used to estimate asbestos removal costs.

Asbestos is a hot button and was very poorly handled by Board staff.

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Rivers braves the cold Canadian winter air to protest - all in vain.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 13th, 2017


If I were Donald Trump I’d have to say that it was the largest crowd ever. There were more people assembled at Nathan Phillips Square than at former US president Obama’s inauguration. And all those white spaces between the people… well that was just snow.

Seriously, there were only a few thousand brave souls who turned out on a bone-chilling February mid-day at Toronto’s city hall this past Saturday. They had assembled to protest Trudeau breaking his promise about how we elect our MPs. And it was a pretty good crowd for such an event given such short notice. Besides, there were as many as twenty of these protests being held across the nation.

Rivers protesting

Gazette columnist Ray Rivers publicly protesting the decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made to abandon his election promise to never again hold an election where the First Past the Post was the winner.

The organizers seemed pleased with the turnout. After all, electoral reform is not top-of-mind for most Canadians. No doubt that was what the Liberals found out recently after polling convinced them that they could safely kill the electoral reform promise. And the whole matter is complicated, filled with unfamiliar terms like first-past-the-post, single transferable vote and mixed-member proportional representation. You won’t find that kind of language every day in the sports section.

The faces in the crowd were mostly young – a generation of first-time voters, once convinced not long ago that Mr. Trudeau was just one of them – that new kind of politician, offering a better political deal for Canadians. Better representation might make politics more relevant to this generation and even the one before, the Gen-Xers, who had largely shunned politics and left voting to their parents.

But there was this proverbial elephant in the midst of the protest. If it was this easy to cancel one promise, what about all the other promises the PM made? Can we have faith that he’ll deliver on any of those other promises now? What about legalizing pot, for example? Or will that be the next domino to fall, because someone in the PM’s office has decided there is no consensus on that issue either?

Dalton McGuinty balanced some budgets - but budgets weren't his downfall - the gas plant fiasco did him in.

Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty did try to reform Ontario’s electoral system.

But wait, weren’t these the same political staffers who once convinced Dalton McGuinty to reform Ontario’s electoral system a few years ago? Yes, they engineered a process so fair and discrete that when it came time for the referendum, most voters had little idea what they were actually voting for – a process designed to fail. Was that benign neglect? Or were they disingenuous or incompetent?

There were voices in the crowd on Saturday yelling out liar, liar, pants-on-fire. But it seems unlikely this is a case of unbridled mendacity. I mean what rational politician would set out to raise expectations in an election, planning to break his word following the victory party? And why, especially when he knows full well the ultimate consequence – the shedding of all those voters who had delivered him his majority government?

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray 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:

Electoral Reform –   More Electoral Reform –   Even More

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Have you Googled yourself recently?

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

February 10th, 2017



Studies reveal half us have sought information about ourselves on a major search engine in the last year. More interestingly is the number of us who have gone looking for information about other people (approximately 1 in 3) and the trend continues.

— Turnabout is Fair Play

Businesses and recruiters now regular “look you up online” to see if you are the kind of person they want to work with. That’s correct, it’s not just people vetting businesses anymore, the proverbial worm has turned and now those businesses are looking back at us.

If you aren’t already actively managing your Internet digital footprint you really should because many North American companies now have online personal presentation polices. A shocking number of businesses are now policing how you present yourself on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even your personal blog.

— Share With Care

Choose the pictures you share with care, be mindful of the videos, audio and blog posts you share with the world because it can have consequences. Remember, what you blog about today can last a lifetime – literally. So what you say on your blog about your favourite religion, political party du jour, or some other seemingly innocuous subject could quite literally cost you your job!

— Damage Control is Too Late

And if there’s nothing bad out there about you right now, and you think you can ignore this – think again. You need to begin proactively publishing your own “approved” content because when someone steps forward after an issue they have less credibility – it’s reactionary not pre-emptive. The same happens online – if you are nowhere to be found until someone says something you dislike, you lose credibility.

— Getting an Accidental Brand

There are many ways to become infamous on the Internet, too many to list here, however be careful of mischievous teenagers wielding video cell phones. In 2007 a video of a drunk David Hasselhoff, sprawled on the floor eating a burger, became hot news when his daughter allegedly published it to YouTube for all the world to see. Type David Hasselhoff into Google and that infamous video is still in the top 10 list (10 years later!)

— Ignorance Is Not Bliss

As the saying goes, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!” Whenever a new frontier opens there are winners and losers, online reputation and personal branding is no exception. For example, if someone spent about 30 minutes being mischievous they could cause you some serious damage to your reputation. The current market rate for reputation repair on the Internet is about $10,000.

Blogging and writing about yourself is free.

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that helps local business connect and network.  He also writes about digital marketing, entrepreneurship and technology and when he’s not consulting, he teaches people to start their own ‘side hustle.’

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Burlington environmentalist likes the Member of Parliament we had before she was made a Cabinet Minister.

opinionandcommentBy Vince Fiorito

February 9th, 2017



Let me get this straight. You admire Karina’s increased ability to avoid answering questions and spinning her answers? I think that’s why most people have low opinions of politicians. Shouldn’t a leader’s actions reflect their words?

Watching Karina Gould evolve since the election, feels like a political version of “Breaking Bad”. I like the old Karina better when she made statements like these:

Gould in the House of Commons

Karina Gould, then just a Member of the House of Commons.

Karina Gould June 2016
“Electoral reform is the next step in this evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results.”

Karina Gould Sept 2016
“The first-past-the-post system that we have is pretty good at producing majority governments but it’s often considered to be a false majority because our government and the previous Conservative government didn’t really go above 39%, 42% of the vote yet would have much more than 50% of the seats in the house.”

Now, she says Canadians don’t have consensus on electoral refrom. What asked what would be a consensus, she couldn’t answer that either,

For the record, consensus is when everyone agrees. IN a large group, consensus is a super majority (2/3) or better. Consensus is where people working together to solve a problem end up. Its not where they start. Not achieving consensus means the job isn’t over.

I can’t know what Karina was thinking when she accepted this bag of excrement from Justin Trudeau. I hoped when I heard the bad news that she’d stand up to Trudeau and show everyone who voted for her in good faith, that their trust was well placed.

Speaking of Trudeau. Why didn’t he break the bad news himself, considering his words:

Trudeau Justin with signs behind

Justin Trudeau during the election campaign in which he announced this would be the last election where the first past the post was the winner.

Justin Trudeau, December 2016
“I make promises because I believe in them. I’ve heard loudly and clearly that Canadians want a better system of governance, a better system of choosing our governments, and I’m working very hard so that 2015 is indeed the last election under first-past-the-post. Canadians elect governments to do hard things and don’t expect us to throw up our hands when things are a little difficult. ‘Oh, it’s more difficult than we thought it could be’ and therefore we’re just just going to give up. No, I’m sorry, that’s not the way I was raised. That’s not the way I’m going to move forward on a broad range of issues, regardless of how difficult they may seem at a given point.”

Gould - first scrum

Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould at her first news scrum.

Yet when it came time to break the bad news, where was Trudeau? He sent Karina out by herself. He didn’t even have the guts to stand behind Karina in symbolic support. That’s cowardly imo.

I also thought the timing of release was a little rushed, like they were trying to hide the news about breaking their promise to reform our unfair electoral system behind a bigger news story around the same time that got far more national coverage.

While you might admire these qualities in politicians, I don’t. IMO, Politics doesn’t get much sadder, self-serving or cynical than this. The Trudeau Liberals never had any intention of reforming our election system or taking action on environmental issues. They were just empty words they used to steal support from the Green Party of Canada.

I feel sad for Trudeau’s and Gould’s gift of political cynicism he gave to all the young Canadians who believed them. I doubt many of them will vote in the next election. Why would they?

Background links:

Rivers on breaking election promises

The evolution of a politician

Vince FitorioVince Fiorito was the Green Party candidate for Burlington 2015.  He has   not stopped trying to reform Canada’s electoral system or taking action on the environment. Fiorito was the recipient of a watershed stewardship award from Conservation Halton. getting new - yellow



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The promise that was broken: Politicians break promises at their own peril.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 9th, 2017



The fundamental elements of a successful democracy are an informed public, a free press and an electoral system which best reflects the will of the vast majority of the voters.

At the time the disparate Canadian provinces undertook confederation, voters had but two federal political entities to choose from: the Liberal Party founded in 1861 and the Conservative Party established in 1854.

Sir John Macdonald9

With just two political parties First Past the Post made sense.

So it was natural for Canada’s election system to be premised as a choice between only two parties. The candidate with the highest vote count would win their election poll in a system called first-past-the-post (FPP). Since the national popular vote typically coincides with the number of seats in a two party system, the public was well represented.

150 years later a lot has changed. Additional political parties representing a more diverse population with more complicated issues and demands have emerged. Recently 100% of Canadians have been governed by political parties which claim a majority of parliamentary seats, regardless that their popular support amounts to less than 40% of the voters.

At the 2012 federal Liberal convention in Ottawa, former leader Stephan Dion chaired an electoral reform policy session, also attended by Justin Trudeau. Although many present, including Dion expressed a preference for proportional representation, there was a consensus to promote a ranked/preferential ballot as a transitional or first step.

Minister of Democratic Institutions and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting on electoral reform at the Mount Community Centre on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Monsef is on a seven-week, cross-country tour gathering input on democratic reform. Jessica Nyznik/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Former Minister of Democratic Institutions and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting on electoral reform. Jessica Nyznik -Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Three years later, as Mr. Trudeau was struggling his way up from third place in the election campaign, he added another vote-getting promise – that this would be Canada’s last federal election under FPP. However once the election was over and the brass ring was firmly in his hand, the urgency seemed to have vanished. He appointed a relatively inexperienced MP as his minister of democratic institutions. She was slow off the mark, proceeded to organize an unfortunate on-line survey, and mis-managed her special parliamentary committee.

The committee finessed the government by recommending a proportional representation approach but only if subject to a referendum. But there is simply not enough time left in the electoral term for that to reasonably happen. So the PM shuffled his junior ministers and announced that he was breaking his promise because there didn’t appear to be a consensus for change.

Except there is consensus. Mr. Trudeau’s own party wants it – they had in fact passed a policy resolution calling for this kind of change. The third parties (NDP, Greens, BQ) are almost unanimous in their desire to adopt proportional representation. And that just leaves the Tories who like the status quo, knowing that FPP is the only way they could ever win majority government again.

But the Conservatives poll less than 40% of Canadians at best. So the government doesn’t need a referendum to change our political system, it already has the numbers. Besides, changing from FPP was an election promise, and Trudeau won the election.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the stage following a discussion on women's leadership, Thursday, November 24, 2016 in Monrovia, Liberia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaving a stage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Politicians break promises at their own peril. I’d bet that electoral reform is one that will come back to haunt Mr. Trudeau. It is unknown how many NDP, Bloc and Green supporters walked their votes to the Liberals largely because of the promise of electoral reform. Judging by the reaction among the media and those commenting on social media, if they did, they won’t make that journey again. Mr. Trudeau has just lost a huge chunk of personal credibility and trust. That will cost him in support come election time.

There are also Liberals who now feel betrayed and alienated by a leader in whom they had put so much faith and trust. Once lost it is almost impossible to regain the hearts of his once loyal supporters. He can expect to see party unity suffer and membership start to decline. Volunteer workers will become less available, and contributions will start to dry up. Come voting day it will be that much harder to get out the vote and fewer volunteers will be there to help get it out.

Mr. Trudeau has been overexposed in his first year in office, and most of that has been positive, at least up until now. Both main opposition parties will have new leaders for the 2019 race and as they energize their party faithful expect to see them stick Trudeau with this issue until the votes are finally counted.

Finally, what will become of all those reluctant millennials who thought they were voting for a different kind of politics and politician? Perhaps some of them will show up at the National Day of Action for Electoral Reform at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, this Saturday 2-4 PM. See you there?

Ray Rivers

Ray 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:

Trudeau Lying? –   More Lying? –   Liberal Policy Resolution

Breaking His Promise –   National Day of Action on Electoral Reform

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The evolution of a politician: Gould handles an interview well - stick handles her way through awkward questions.


SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2017



There is a CBC radio program I seldom miss – “The House” every Saturday morning at 9:00 am
Certified political junkies never miss it.

Last Saturday, Chris Hall interviewed Burlington’s MP and Cabinet Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

Karina Gould with cat

She was just a local girl, went to M.M. Robinson, then to McGill University where she decided the wanted to be a Member of Parliament.

I have covered Karina since the day she announced her candidacy. I watched her actually pry away the Burlington riding from Mike Wallace which she did by creating a team of people that were out on the streets almost every weekend.

They would meet at Emmas Back Porch and then head out in teams and do the door knocking. Gould won by being the better campaigner.

On a door step her energy and just plain likability came through.

She once explained what tended to happen when she got to the end of a street she was door knocking on. “People would tell me”, explained Gould “that they intended to vote Liberal but weren’t going to put up a lawn sign.”

On one street Gould said she wanted to shout out: ‘You’re all Liberals” and they were – or enough of them to make her a member of the House of Commons.

Gould - Claite -Kyle - Fed Liberals

Gould with her campaign team during the election that took her to Ottawa – they ran a superb campaign.

She performed well. She loved the moment when then American President Barak Obama recognized her when he paid a visit to Canada.

Gould has that genuine youthful energy – she is just a likeable person who also has the ability to back away from the political rhetoric and ask how a person is doing when she knows they are struggling.

Watching her do the “opening pitch” at what was then the Burlington Bandits was something to observe. It didn’t look as if baseball was a sport she excelled in – but she did get the ball over the plate.

Bandits - Gould opening pitch

The local baseball team didn’t need a pitcher – they did change their name the following season.

When word got out that Prime Minister Trudeau was going to shuffle his Cabinet everyone was pretty sure that Maryam Monsef was on her way out. But few predicted that Gould was on her way in.

She was given Democratic Institutions – and within days of getting back to the House of Commons she announced that the First Past the Post promise made during the election was dead in the water.

When Gould was interviewed on CBC’s The House, it was evident she had grown into the role of a Cabinet Minister quite quickly and was pretty good at dodging some of the questions. She gave the pretty pat statement that her job as Minister was to “protect, improve and make the election process more accessible” and she stuck to it.

Hall wanted to know when she learned that the Prime Minister was not going to make good on his election promise.

Gould explained: “We’ve listened to the public; there is no consensus so we are not going forward with this initiative.”

“When you took this job as minister of democratic institutions” asked Hall, “ did you know at that time that it was looking like the proposal to change the election system would fall ?”

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace, former Conservative MP, paying homage to Karina Gould on election night.

Gould responded: “When the Prime Minister asked me to join cabinet and when he asked me to take on this portfolio what he said to me was that he wanted me to make sure that I protect improve and make more accessible our Democratic institutions.”

Hall came back with: “The question was did you know at that time that you would be pulling away from the promise to have a different election system?”

Gould, sticking to her guns said: “My mandate letter was made public on Wednesday so I’m happy and looking forward to delivering on it.”

That 29 year old, with less than a month’s experience as a Cabinet Minister behind her performed admirably as a politician.

Nathan Cullen, NDP member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in British Columbia, met with Gould the day before she as made a Cabinet minister and asked for some advice on what the Parliamentary committee could and should do next in its attempt to change the way we elect our governments.

Cullen did not know that she was about to be made a Cabinet Minister and Gould was not in a position to tell him.

What we are seeing is a young woman who has all the traits needed to become a strong politician. A good one; only time will tell.

Gould and PM Trudeau

Some thought this junior minister was being made a sacrificial lamb when made Minister of Democratic Institutions – she got past the barrage or criticism rather well. The Prime Minister will be keeping a closer eye on her.

While Burlington is very proud of her – the citizens needs to keep in mind the quote from Junius that appears at the top of the Globe & Mail editorial page.

“The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise or submit to arbitrary measures.”

The complete mandate letter an be found at:

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Rivers on violence: Quebec’s Premier and Canada’s Prime Minister, have not bowed to this false populism of divide and conquer politics.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 3, 2017



An act of hatred and violence. It was 1989 when another mad man slaughtered 14 female students at a University of Montreal engineering school before turning the gun on himself. In this case he was driven by his fear of ‘feminism’. So long as we have guns, guys on the edge and an issue that evokes fear and hatred we can never take our security for granted.

Given all the racist hatred emanating from so many people these days, It was only a matter of time for something like this latest tragedy to happen – the massacre of innocent worshipers in a Mosque in Quebec City.

Quebec mosque


And the responsibility for the event lies partly at the feet of the new leader in America’s White House, a position we used to refer to as the leader of the free world.

In his phone call to Trudeau, Trump offered his condolences, characterizing the massacre as the kind of actions his recent executive orders were intended to prevent. Except they weren’t. Make no mistake Trump incited this act of terrorism. His language and actions served to radicalize this young misguided Quebecer, much as ISIS has radicalized the very ones that Trump was hoping to keep out by his ban.

Rivers graphic for Feb 3And the Muslim ban. This was as poorly considered as so many of his other actions since becoming president. None of the people living in those seven banned countries are known to have committed acts of terror in America over the last quarter century. And yet almost three thousand Americans have been killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon – Muslim countries where Trump has business interests and which are therefore exempt form his ban.

But it’s not just Trump.  He’s not the only crazy mixed-up reactionary, leading his followers out of what we once considered the new world order into a new frontier of chaos.  Russian president Vladimir Putin is the ring leader, the lead conductor of this mad band of, dare I say faux -Nazis,  striving to take the world back in time.  His goal is the re-assembly of the Soviet Union and there is no international law or agreements that can block him in his quest.

France’s Marine Le Pen is one of our Quebec shooter’s internet heroes, along with Donald Trump. She is also a contender for presidency in this year’s elections in that confused nation. Her goal is to break up the European Union, with a Frexit, then to stop immigration and kick out Muslim immigrants. Her political party has been funded in part by Russia’s Putin, of course.

The people of Holland go to the polls this year and their far right-wing politician, Geert Wilders, another ultra-nationalist Eurosceptic, is intent on tearing apart the EU and playing nice with Mr. Putin. And then there is Brexit, an historical accident that was driven by British ultra-nationalists including a lying cabal led by former British EU representative Nigel Farage, the man Mr. Trump asked to be made British ambassador to the USA.

And Canada is not exempt from this global movement of leaders into hate and chaos. Conservative leadership contender, Kelly Leitch, who along with other leadership contender, Chris Alexander, set up the barbaric practices snitch-line prior to last year’s election. And Leitch has made the politics of division a touchstone of her campaign, demanding proof of adherence to sone kind of undefined ‘Canadian values’ – first from immigrants – and eventually from the rest of us.

The Parti Quebecois had once claimed the moral high-ground, the social conscience of Quebecers, until it too pushed the intolerance button demanding Muslim women show their faces and everyone strip themselves of those icons they’d wear for the sake of their gods and saints. This massacre lies on their doorstep too.

But at least the real leaders of Canada, Quebec’s Premier and Canada’s Prime Minister, have not bowed to this false populism of divide and conquer politics. “We will grieve with you, we will defend you, we will love you and we will stand with you,”

Ray Rivers

Ray 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:

The Other Massacre

Quebec Massacre 

Meryl Streep


More Quebec

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Citizen gives her take on using consultants - Ouch she says, look out residents.

opinionandcommentBy Gwen Lock

February 3rd, 2017



Yep- you couldn’t make this stuff up could you? Apparently the City of Burlington cannot function without the aid of consultants – refer to the 2017 budget request by City Manager James Ridge for a $550,000.00 ” just in case piggy bank” – approved – Cha-ching! (View on page 27 pf 2017 Proposed Operating Budget if anyone is interested)

So if it is inevitable that we are to have consultants lecturing Burlingtonians on how to live and what kind of city they are going to get for their tax dollars, as in so many other past situations, I would personally feel comfortable if it wasn’t all so “cosy”.

James Ridge - looking right

City manager James Ridge is a Toderian fan.

As previously reported (Inside Halton Feb 10th 2016) “It was city manager James Ridge who called in his former Vancouver colleague to advise Burlington on intensification and review of its official plan.” Cha-Ching!

OK – so James Ridge in his position as City Manager for COB calls in his ex-colleague Brent Toderian who was fired from his position (without cause) as Director of Planning, City of Vancouver in 2012 after almost 6 years.

Toderian Brent - blue shirt

Brent Toderian who was fired from his position as Director of Planning, City of Vancouver. Consults for Burlington.

I think it’s only natural to want check this guy out – after all consultants charge LARGE! A quick internet search brought up the following article published in the Vancouver Sun 31 January 2016 by Jeff Lee (the link to the article in below for anyone who would like to read it)


This particular article provided a bit of background as seen from a local (Vancouver) point of view. It would appear that the impetus for the firing may have been the fractious relationship that existed between then City Manager Penny Ballam and Brent Toderian – well let’s be honest – there’s no “may have” about it is there ? Consider the following after Hallam herself was ousted from her position as City Manager in 2015.

15 September 2015 – CBC News Vancouver (direct quote)

“When news of Ballem’s departure broke, former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian, who was let go at the recommendation of Ballem in 2012, issued a tweet simply saying “What goes around, comes around.”

What goes around, comes around. #Vancouver #VanPoli

— @BrentToderian

Speaking to the CBC later, Toderian, who is now a city planning consultant for cities around the world (Cha-ching!), reflected that Ballem’s departure represented an opportunity to change the culture at city hall.

“It really is almost the entire city-making function that is about to be refreshed. That is both challenging and an incredible opportunity. “The morale at city hall has not been the best in recent years, so I think this is a chance to get back to Vancouver city hall being an international model.”

Mmmmm -classy guy – trash your old boss – reveals quite a lot. Type A personality????

So how did we end up in this situation? Like Mayor Goldring I seem to have lost the plot. REVIEW TIME !!!!!

23 March 2015 -James Ridge takes up his position as City Manager (as per COB web site)

11 February 2016 Consultant Brent Toderian arrives at the invitation of ex-collegaue James Ridge to advise Burlington on intensification and review of its official plan -Cha-Ching!

Mary Lou Tanner

Planning Director Mary Lou Tanner had worked with Brent Toderian before he was invited to Burlington.

21 September 2016 (as reported Inside Halton) Mary Lou Tanner, Burlington’s chief planner and director of building announces that at a cost of $20,000, Consultants BrookMcIllroy -Cha-Ching! have produced the 28 page Tall Buildings Guidelines – she described it as “a living document” that will evolve as staff has more experience implanting it. What does that even mean?

14 November 2016 Consultant Brent Toderian, invited back again to lecture, apparently by the Mayor, but this time with Consultant Jarret Walker (Jarrett Walker and Associates) -Cha-Ching!

8 December The Financial Overview of the 2017 Proposed Operating Budget is presented to The Community and Corporate Services Committee. James Ridge makes a pitch for $550,000.00 in 2017 budget -Cha-Ching!

23 January 2017 (After review and approval by The Community and Corporate Services Committee 16th and 19th January 2017) Council approves the 2017 Operating Budget. Signed, sealed and delivered! Cha-Ching!

25th January 2017 it’s reported that Developer Carriage Gate Homes has dropped the BIG planning application on the planning department’s collective overflowing desk-if approved massive Cha-ching!

Marianne Meed Ward reports it in her news letter as if it was a shock and a big surprise and arranges a public meeting. Sadly though, as correctly reported in this publication, it appears to conform to the Tall Buildings Guidelines – can you say OMB -Cha-Ching!

So after a long journey in response to your very pertinent question posed in the title of your article – “do we need consultants?” As we have seen so many times in the past COB seems totally unable to function without them I suppose the answer must be yes.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor invited Brent Toderian to speak at one of his Inspire lectures

Is Brent Toderian, for example, the right choice for Burlington? I personally find it difficult to imagine a less suitable fit. He appears to have no time for consensus building; according to him you spend your energy convincing the convincible – so does that mean you ignore the yet to be convinced? Absolutely! He never ever wants to hear the words “stable neighbourhood” because in his world they do not exist; his advice is to take those words right out of the conversation.

Unsurprisingly taxpayers are viewed as nothing more than cash cows who then become an annoyance when they dare to try to get in way of “planning” As per the Brent Toderian’s of this world,rip that band-aid off quickly.

Ouch! – lookout residents!

Gwen Lock is a Burlington resident with strong views on how the city uses consultants.  She believes choosing Brent Toderian to advise was a mistake.

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Was the decision not to try harder to bring about electoral reform a political mistake by the Liberals.?

News 100 blueBy Jay Fallis

February 2, 2017



Amidst the commotion outside the House of Commons doors, I couldn’t help but hear one MP say to another

“What’s going on here?” I think many Canadians are asking that very question as they hear the news that the Liberal Government is going to abandon its plans to reform our electoral system.

In a mandate letter to newly minted Minister of Democratic Institutions and Burlington MP Karina Gould, Prime Minister Trudeau was clear that this once touted election promise was not to be pursued.
“Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate” it read.

As opposition MPs lined up in droves to criticize the move, I began to realize what all this would likely mean. Electoral reform, the dull policy area turned Cinderella story, was fast losing its footing.

Real Lavergne Fair vote

President of FairVote Canada Dr. Real Lavergne.

To get a better sense for the situation and the road ahead for electoral reform, I decided to talk to electoral reform advocate and President of FairVote Canada Dr. Real Lavergne.

I opened with the only question I could think of: “Is it over?”

Without hesitation I got the response I had been expecting: “It’s looking over.”

As we talked, it was clear that Dr. Lavergne was disappointed by the Government’s actions.

“I think the NDP bent over backwards and so did Elizabeth May to [bring about] electoral reform… [We all were] looking for a solution that would give us a better system for Canada and this government was simply unable, unwilling, to deliver on its promise. “

Dr. Lavergne’s frustration was no doubt rooted in the all for naught work that had been dedicated to this cause.

For years FairVote Canada and many other actors have been advocating for the country to adopt a proportionally representative electoral system. Trudeau’s election victory had marked the potential turning point, as electoral reform had been outlined by the Liberals as a promise.

Since the electoral reform committee’s first meeting over the summer, politicians, advocates, academics, and ordinary Canadians spent an extensive amount of time and energy to bring about reform. However, despite their best efforts, it seems the government refused to listen.

“[FairVote Canada] wrote a letter to Minister Gould about 10 days ago…. What we were saying was: “look, if you want to reduce the disruption for sitting MPs, there are ways to do that while still bringing in Proportional Representation, here they are… We also said you could have ranked ballot… within the context of a proportional system. If it is within the context of a proportional system and what you are doing is giving voters the opportunity to express themselves in more detail, that’s great! That’s democratic.””

It was clear from what Dr. Lavergne’s was saying that the conditions existed for multiple parties to find consensus. However, despite these efforts, the government was simply not prepared to compromise.
While this announcement certainly marks a setback for electoral reform, Lavergne was confident that the extensive work of the various actors had been worthwhile.

Trudeau electoral reform promise

“I don’t know how many people voted for them strategically in 2015 but I can’t imagine any of those people doing so again… I think it will cost them.” Real Lavergne.

“I think awareness for this issue in Canada is at an all-time high….As time goes on, people have been becoming more and more aware of the need for electoral reform. “

He also suggested that the fight to implement electoral reform was far from over.

“Every time there is an election now, people are outraged…. [They] are starting to understand this doesn’t make any sense, this is not democratic. As more and more people understand that, we’re going to have more situations where there is a possibility [for electoral reform] and people will keep fighting for it…This is unstoppable.”

On conclusion, Dr. Lavergne suggested that this could come back to bite the Liberals.

“I think they are going to pay quite a severe price for this. I don’t know how many people voted for them strategically in 2015 but I can’t imagine any of those people doing so again… I think it will cost them.”

As this chapter in our political history comes to a close, electoral reform seems to be lying dead on the operating table. However, maybe the fruition of reforming Canada’s electoral system to be more proportional is an inevitability that just hasn’t been realized yet. Perhaps, as Dr. Lavergne put it:

“The Liberals lost the opportunity to be on the right side of history.”

Jay Fallis Bio PicJay Fallis writes on politics for several newspapers in Canada.

He covers political events from Ottawa.

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Do you know how many customers leave because they don't feel appreciated? 68%

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

February 2, 2017



The #1 reason your customers walk out the door, never to return is simply this: they feel unappreciated.

Business is personal

A stunning 68% of the people who once walked into your place of business stop doing business with you because they feel you don’t care! That’s almost 3 out of 4 clients who take business personally.

The data proves it:

9% leave because of price issues
14% leave because of quality issues
5% leave because they change their purchasing habits
4% of your customers leave because they simply move away
68% stop doing business with you simply because they feel unappreciated!

Gates quote BurchillYou don’t lose the majority of your customers due to high prices, or poor quality. You lose 68% of your customers simply because you don’t pay enough attention to them!

What Can You Do About It?

The absolute easiest and most ‘hands-off’ way for you to pay attention to them and boost your bottom line each and every month – a simple tactic that only a handful of smart business people use – is this:

Step 1: Contact your customers on a monthly basis.

Step 2: And there’s no better way to stay connected to your customers and clients than a monthly newsletter!

Not exactly rocket science – but it’s true. The simple reason this works so well is because your customers or clients have already spent money with you (they trust you.) And they’ll spend more money with you if you let them, and if you give them a reason to do so. You can’t simply sit back and hope that people will remember your business next time they need your product or service.

Waiting on the phone BurchillI’m sure you’ve heard the same thing over and over again from every marketing expert. I bet you’ve even considered publishing a newsletter (you may even already do so), but if you’re like most business owners, you just can’t find the time to ever get one published, or get one published regularly … and it’s most likely the writing that ‘gets in the way.’

No doubt about it, coming up with interesting articles and content is hard work, and unless you have lots of extra time on your hands, it’s easy to keep putting off publishing a newsletter until “tomorrow”.

But of course, we all know “tomorrow” never comes

Yes, that’s the big problem: Who has time to write a monthly newsletter — how do you make a newsletter fun, enjoyable and useful for people to read without making it a full-time job?

A number os smart people who know how important it is to communicate with thier customer outsource the creating of a newsletter to a professional writer.

You get your time back – priceless!

You stop worrying your newsletter won’t be published on time

You can focus on running your business

Waited 30 minutes BurchillYou will reduce (or stop) customer loss

And by default … MAKE MORE SALES/MONEY

It’s win-win all around.

Of course it helps to know a trusted source that can help you with this project. It’s not something you can just throw together. You need to consider the format, the content balance, the tone, the style, and the images.


burchill-jamesJames Burchill has been the associate publisher for two of Canada’s leading aftermarket auto magazines, written  over a million words for clients.  He has published three business books reached best-seller status online.  He currently operates the Social Fusion Network that brings business people together in a friendly social setting.  He also produces two trade shows for the local small business market.


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Do consultants have the answers we need to decide what kind of a city we want?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 1st, 2017



Bfast – Burlington for Accessible affordable Transit, published a piece on what a consultant said to city council.

They,  Bfast,  seem to be suggesting that consultants don’t always get it right,


Brent Toderian

On February 11th, noted Urbanist and Twitter phenom Brent Toderian was invited to come to Burlington to speak with City Council and Staff, as well as to present to the public as part of Mayor Goldring’s “Inspire Burlington” series.

Here are some things we picked up on from Brent’s presentation to Council:

Brent Toderian’s first point was that we need to change our thinking from being a suburb to being urban. We need to look at three dimensional streets rather than one dimensional roads. He noted that a suburb with more density will result in gridlock and congestion. In order to make this transition, and to position us for success our government needs to treat the Official Plan review as a rethink, not a tweak. Part of this is being willing to fail before we succeed.

Mobility: Brent stressed the need to prioritize transit, walking, and cycling over cars. We now have a very car-centred system meaning that we have to go well beyond the so-called balanced approach to moving budget dollars from cars to transit, walking and cycling. The car as the primary means of getting around has had a 40-50 year head start, so just seeking balance now won’t get us there. He also stressed that in urban places, balance isn’t good enough.

Transit: Brent noted that western Canada’s largest condo developer has said that the key factor in real estate development has changed from “location, location, location” to “transit, transit, transit”. Brent called improving transit “our strongest opportunity” as a city.

Strategic Plan WorkbookStrategic Plan and Budget: Brent noted that the City’s Strategic Plan was good – but the budget was not. He stated “the truth of a city’s aspirations is not in its plan, but in its budget”.

Making the transition -“pull the bandaid off quick” Brent was very critical of the slow approach re bike lanes. He said this approach maximized the controversy. Instead, he recommended rapid completion of a viable network that would work immediately. He also said that separation was needed on arterials – but not on other streets. Although he cited cycling in this approach, it would also apply to transit.

Prioritize the incentive for taking transit: Brent said that drivers need to see a benefit to take transit for example, bus only lanes that allow buses to move faster than cars.

Parking: Brent emphatically said “get out of Park’n Ride” (will Metrolinx listen?). He suggested that the City constrain the supply of parking.

Tall buildiong design - material useIntensification: Brent discussed how building density right is a challenge because it can result in “the sweet spot of failure”; intensification on too low a scale will create traffic congestion but not enough density to support efficient transit. We need to have an honest conversation about the real cost and consequences to growing the right and wrong ways, with respect to climate change and public health. The starting point of “I don’t want the city to change…” is common, but ‘stable neighbourhoods’ are a lie. All cities are changing in ways beyond the control of local government, so take the word ‘stable’ out of your vocabulary. Cities should reject the idea that there is an optimal number for growth (how big should we get) and worry about quality instead of quantity.

Doing the wrong thing better: Painted bike lanes were one example of this; need to make sure we don’t mistake for doing the right thing.

Public Engagement: Your goal should be to convince the convinceable; as leaders you need to change the conversation. Just because we don’t have consensus doesn’t mean we can’t have an intelligent conversation.

Burlington Transit: It was upsetting to hear that Brent Toderian did not get to meet with anyone from Burlington Transit.

As I read through the piece I found myself asking – is this how we decide what kind of a city we want and how we build it? Do we have to bring in consultants who have never lived here, never walked the streets, never attended an event?

Toderian told city council that they need to get rid of rural names – hang on – Walkers Line, Guelph Line and Appleby Line are part of the history and a part of the feel for the city. They remind of us our rural roots.

They no next to nothing about how rich our agricultural background is.

These consultants want to come into town for short periods of time, get very well paid for their time, spout all the most recent flavour of the month in urban design and move on to the next consulting assignment.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

City manager James Ridge – an old friend of Toderian who he had worked with during his time in Vancouver. Toderian got turfed by a th Vancouver city council.

Both city manager James Ridge and Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner, both relatively new to Burlington, knew of Toderian and his work – they thought the guy was great before he had spoken as much as a paragraph. It was almost like he was a member of the club coming back into the circle.

It’s the citizens that decide what kind of a community they want. Consultants have a place and their opinions are important but the people who grew up in the city and want to see it evolve and be something they at least recognize when they are taking their grandchildren to events.

There is nothing wrong with progress and growth – it just has to take place at a pace that works for the people who live here.  Why else do we have a community?

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That Code of Conduct city council has been avoiding is now in the hands of the city Clerk. You might want to pass along some of your ideas to her.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 30th, 2017



At the Committee of the Whole Standing committee meeting this afternoon city council members will be asked to recommend the following Staff Direction:


City Clerk Angela Morgan

Direct the City Clerk to draft a Code of Conduct for members of Council which addresses, donations, fundraising, sponsorship, entertainment and the acceptance of gifts by members of Council as well as other standards clauses included in Codes across the Province. The Code of Conduct for members of Council should not be less stringent than the Code of Conduct established for City of Burlington staff.

This is close to unbelievable. Most of the members of this council have bobbed and weaved and done everything they can to not have a Code of Conduct.

The Mayor found a way to shuffle this hot potato to the city Manager who has now handed it down to the Clerk.

City hall - older pic

Creating a Code of Conduct for members of city council has taken some time – more than five years. There was some resistance amongst the members of council – not all of them.

Let’s see what Angela Morgan can achieve.

It might be a useful exercise to pass along any ideas you have on what should be included in the code of conduct to the city clerk. She can be reached by email at: angela.morgan@burlington.ca

If you have words of wisdom for our Clerk and choose to pass them along to her – the Gazette would be interested in what you have to say.  You could copy us at newsdesk@bgzt.ca

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A tough road ahead for the electoral reform committee

backgrounder 100

By Jay Fallis

January 27th, 2017



For those of you that have been following the electoral reform debate over the last few months, you may be a little disoriented. Initially we saw the appointment of an electoral reform committee that showed great promise. This committee was designed to be representative of the parties in the House of Commons which meant practicing consensual politics could help to bring about a new political mantra in Ottawa.

When the committee hosted its first witness, it was clear that this political cleanse so many had been hoping for would be difficult to achieve. That witness, then Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, while responsive to the committee, did not confirm that the recommendations of the committee would be taken seriously by the Canadian Government.

As the committee continued to meet and witnesses came and went, it seemed that while progress was being made and MPs were interested in the information being presented, there continued to be partisan overtones. This made it difficult to have a neutral educated discussion on the matter as each side tried to convey their own points.

Now, as our Prime Minister wavers on his promise to bring in a new electoral system by 2019, there is concern both on and off of Parliament Hill, that the committee may not have accomplished its objective.

Although there are many good arguments coming from both sides of this debate, the real discussion should come down to one thing: voters should have a greater capacity to influence the results of elections.

Gouild with Gov Gen and PM on swearing in

Karina Gould with the Governor General and the Prime Minister after being sworn in as the Minister for Democratic Institutions.

In the 2015 federal election, Burlington and Oakville elected three candidates: Liberals John Oliver, Pam Damoff, and newly minted Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould. Together they gained support from 92,611 voters across both cities. However, that meant 102,989 votes, roughly 52.7% of voters from the Burlington and Oakville area, did not influence the final results. How is this fair for those that do not vote Liberal in these two cities?

What would electoral reform mean for residents of Burlington and Oakville? Should anyone here really care?
There have been many different proposals put before the committee, but generally speaking the favoured concept is a family of systems referred to as “Proportional Representation”. This type of system ensures that no matter where a person lives, their ballot will more often than not go toward electing a candidate of their choice.

That might mean that instead of an MP for Burlington, an MP for Oakville North—Burlington, and an MP for Oakville, there would be one MP for Burlington, one MP for Oakville and a third MP representing the entirety of both cities. The advantage of this would be having representatives from at least two parties in the area, ensuring that local interests on multiple sides of the political spectrum are represented. This would also allow residents the opportunity to seek assistance from representatives they feel most comfortable dealing with, and with whom they are politically aligned.

However, the affects to local political practices will not be the only thing that changes under a new electoral system. A proportional electoral system would mean a different form of government. Majority governments, dominated by one political party would become a thing of the past, and coalition governments would likely become the norm.

A coalition government, whereby multiple parties help to form government, are proven to be difficult for the winning party to control. However, there are many advantages that come with these forms of government as well.

Elections - FPP vs Proportional

What the current government would have looked like had members of the House of Commons been chosen on a proportional representation model.

Experience on the international stage suggests that parties in coalition governments are much more likely to negotiate, meaning that more segments of the Canadian population would be considered during the creation and passing of legislation. Furthermore, the tendencies of coalition governments are to spend more on infrastructure and services while also proving to be more capable of balancing a budget.

While the effects of implementing a proportionally representative electoral system may not be cut and dry, it would seem that many benefits could flow from its implementation for both the country of Canada and the cities of Burlington and Oakville.

However, the government will need to defy both partisan logic and political history to say yes to a system from which many Canadians would likely benefit.

Jay Fallis Bio PicJay Fallis writes on politics for several newspapers in Canada. His preference for “proportional representation” is one of several choices available.

Burlington’s MP, Karina Gould, now the Minister of Democratic Institutions, is tasked with bring a recommendation the Cabinet on how, if and when any changes will be made to the way Canadians choose the form of government representation they want.

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Just the facts please - which ones - the real ones or the alternate facts?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 27, 2017



Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his adopted non-de-plume, George Orwell, would be in his element were he alive to witness America’s latest president in action. Like Big Brother out of the Orwellian novel ‘1984’, the Trump presidency has been transitioning the English language towards Newspeak. Among the various intricacies of Newspeak was the construct of ‘Blackwhite’ – “impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts…and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary”.

Orwell George

George Orwell – his “1984” was ahead of its time. Is it’s time today?

‘Alternative Fact’ is today’s version of Orwell’s Blackwhite. Trump’s lieutenant Kelly Anne Conway, was being questioned on a US talk show over why the Trump administration was so ridiculously insistent that more people attended the inauguration than actually did. She responded their’s were just ‘alternative facts’. But as any reasonable person knows, ‘alternative facts’ are not facts. They are falsehoods – or worse – out and out lies.

Former dragon, and most recent applicant for the job of leader of the federal Conservative Party, Kevin O’Leary has his own version of alternative facts. He recently complained that Ontario trails Michigan in auto investment because “business there enjoys “30% less in tax, no regulations and no carbon tax.”

First of Ontario doesn’t trail. The two jurisdiction have been alternating closely for first place in auto production in North America, though Ontario actually has a stronger five year record. And according to the Premier, Ontario also outpaced Michigan with a recent $2 billion investment in the auto sector.

Kevin olearly - shouting

Kevin O’Leary – he will be heard from – will Canadians listen. His candidacy will tell us more about ourselves than about him.

To claim that an historic industrial state, like Michigan, lacks regulations comparable to those in Ontario, governing everything from the industrial workplace to the environment is just plain nonsense. It’ is true that Michigan hasn’t, nor is likely to have a carbon tax in the near future. Still the combined federal-state corporate taxes there run at close to 40% (38.9%) compared to the combined rate of only 28.5% in Ontario – Ontario’s tax regime is almost 30% lower.

That O’Leary, the investor, lacks a handle on something as basic as corporate tax rates, or was too lazy to look it up, is inexcusable for someone vying to be our future PM. But then maybe he was just making up stuff, hoping nobody would fact-check – or that no one would care. This is Canada so we should hope he is wrong on that account.

O’Leary has also jumped on the Ontario electricity rate bandwagon. It is true that Ontario’s rates have risen to become among the highest in the country but they are close to those in Detroit and far lower than many other jurisdictions south of the border including New York and Boston, where Mr. Wonderful has a second home and must pays the bills – so should know better.

Kevin O'Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, in New York. (Photograph by Stephanie Noritz)

Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, in New York. (Photograph by Stephanie Noritz)

Trump may have spun some big whoppers and got away with it, but O’Leary is not Donald Trump, charisma notwithstanding, So when he finds himself onto the next debate platform, it will be his lack of knowledge of the issues, and his willingness to build his campaign on falsehoods, which will cost him the nomination. For if there is anything Canadian voters expect more of their federal leaders than being able to also speak reasonably fluent French, it is intellectual honesty and competence.

After all, running the country is not a game shown, like the Den or the Tank. But if it were, most Conservative voters should say ‘I’m out’ to O’Leary’s pitch. Perhaps it would be best for Mr. O’Leary to stick to the business he understands and where he has been successful, leaving politics to those who can tell the difference between the facts as they are and the alternative facts as he’d like them to be.

kevin o'leary mouth open

Seldom at a loss for words and never shy about getting an opinion out – Keven O’Leary will make the campaign trail interesting.

O’Leary has been supported by the Toronto Sun and has assembled a team, including former premier Mike Harris. His entry into the race will be an interesting diversion for as long as it lasts. In at least one of his open letters to the Premier he raises some legitimate criticisms. Unfortunately those points will be lost in the dust of the bigger picture – the world of his alternative facts.

In the end, if this is the worst damage our Mr. Wonderful can inflict on Kathleen Wynne, she is doing a far better job than her poll numbers would indicate. And ironically by giving her government new credibility, he may have just thrown the Premier a lifeline and another term in office.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray 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:

Orwell –    Newspeak –    Alternative Facts – 

Wynne-O’Leary –    O’Leary – A Gift –     O’Leary Not Trump –    Ontario Responds –

O’Leary Letter –    O’Leary Letter 2 –   Electricity Prices –

Autos –    Sun Support –

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Your face is better than Facebook - together they can make a difference when selling.

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

January 26th, 2017



Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter can be powerful allies in the sales person’s arsenal. The trouble here is context. Many over- or under-emphasize the importance and usefulness of social media in sales today.


Sometimes those 143 characters are all you need.

Not using them is worse than using them badly, some say, while others argue that using them is just a waste of time that should be spent doing other things.


Facebook can be a tool – but it is never going to replace a face to face sales call. People buy from people.

The reality is somewhere in between that. Facebook has shown itself to be a useful tool for keeping contacts alive and pushing information to already-interested or active customers and clients. It is not such a great way to recruit new ones, however, despite all the hype. Twitter is basically the same, though generally more accessible due to its easier use via mobile devices. Every sales person should have both accounts and keep them active.

But how active?

The other problem is time. These tools can really use up a lot of a person’s time and for anyone in business, especially sales, time is money. So the payoff must be balanced with the effort spent for the gain. Facebook is not a replacement for face-to-face meetings and interaction. In nearly all industries, especially more personal ones like insurance, that personal, face-to-face connection is always going to be the top way to sell. Digital revolution or not.

social media - digital trends

The scope of the sales relationships are critical – understand the kind of sales network you have and how social media can be made tot work for you is worth spending some time on.

Your sales people should be versed in using Facebook and Twitter as tools to enhance the personal, one-on-one connection, not as substitutes for it. Yes, they can decrease the amount of time or number of times you’ll need to see the client in person, but they won’t replace it. The important thing here is to use these tools as if the interaction were actually taking place in person.

Respond personally, with a name if you can, and answer questions or queries quickly and with more than just a link or a “yes” or “no.” The sales person should visualize the person in front of them asking the question, rather than just staring at their iPad or their computer screen and seeing anonymously typed messages. Respond as if you were talking to the person right there. This bleeds through the connection and shows the person you’re interacting on a personal level. Even virtually, online, people respond to that.

social media - people with cell phones

Using social media to connect directly with your prospects – makes sense – just get the message right every time.

Social media should be a tool to get or maintain live connections, so treating it as another face-to-face (but not the only F2F) connection will enhance those personal interactions. This leads to better retention, better sales, and more confidence on the part of the client. In insurance, those things are all good things and are what drive repeat sales and continued value.

Finally, sales people should understand what kind of commitment their Facebook and Twitter accounts are going to require and realize that this means something is likely to be sacrificed. Most of the time, though, that sacrifice can be in the travel and personal one-on-one time spent. Many customers will ask questions or submit queries via instant or direct messages (or email) rather than make a phone call. In terms of time, that’s a good thing.

Training and understanding how social media can benefit your sales force is very important and should be a top priority for every business.

James BurchillJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that helps local business connect and network.  He also writes about digital marketing, entrepreneurship and technology and when he’s not consulting, he teaches people to start their own ‘side hustle.’


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