Canada’s 2016 Budget - A Road Map for the Future ?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 25, 2016


If you want to make money, you have to spend money. And that pretty well sums up the 2016 federal budget – it’s about re-investing in Canada and Canadians. Hardly revolutionary, this economic plan is corrective and moderate in its measures – a first step in the right direction.

R&D spending

While outdated the graphic does show the impact research and development spending has on an economy.

There is investment in transportation infrastructure, something which will improve our productivity, particularly in built-up areas like the GTA. There is some modest spending to improve access to education, particularly for the underprivileged. And there is a huge push to restore levels of R&D, innovation and science, which had been allowed to lapse over the last decade.

Changes to the income tax code, already in the works, modestly favour the middle class over the wealthy. This is more than an attempt to arrest and correct the growing spread between the rich and the poor; this is sound economic policy. It’s called the marginal propensity to consume – redistributing income from the wealthy increases domestic spending, driving consumption and investment, and consequently economic growth.

There is no question of the social dimension of this budget, which invests heavily in people, particularly the disadvantaged. Veterans complaints about neglect are addressed. More child care money will be going to the lower income parents who really need it. Canada’s first nations are given the opportunity to catch up to the rest of us. And age of seniority has been rolled back to 65, at the same time as greater assistance is provided to those seniors in need.

Energy east pipeline map

Perhaps the bigger questions is – will the country be affected by the pipeline?

There is investment in the environment as well. So we’ll see our national environment assessment process restored. Ironically that might expedite the construction of the Energy-East pipeline, as that is a precondition for Quebec’s consent. And the Prime Minister has solidified his commitment to put climate change money on the table to help motivate Canada’s Premiers to action.

The price tag for this budget comes in at just below the thirty billion deficit that everyone was expecting. The largely muted response to the size of the deficit is the result of a government which has shown its ability to manage expectations, and, of course, the promises made during the last election. Only the interim leader of yesterday’s government couldn’t resist the temptation to dump on the budget.

30 Billion dollars is a lot of money, but even after another four years of deficit, Canada will still have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, and half the level of the US or the UK. Moreover, if the annual deficit projections in the budget bear out, relative debt levels will shadow the debt performance of the preceding government, making Ms. Ambrose’s complaint at best a case of the pot calling the kettle…

And not everyone will benefit from this package. New toys for the military are on the back burner, reflecting a lower immediate priority. There could have been more income re-distribution, even greater support for our cultural industries and a faster path for infrastructure development. But you can’t do everything. We also know that more money will still be needed for a new national health care charter and enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, initiatives on a different timetable.

There are thousands of small solar panel installations like this across the province - they work very well and in many cases provide revenue for the owners.

There are thousands of small solar panel installations like this across the province – they work very well and in many cases provide revenue for the owners.

The budget represents a necessary investment to return Canada to a more balanced, engaging and innovative economy. The fossil fuel era has itself becoming fossilized. Coal has left the station and oil is following suit, being replaced everywhere by renewable energy. Those were yesterday’s ideas promoted by yesterday’s short-sighted leaders.

Canada’s future lies in its potential as a balanced diverse economy. Its strength lies more with our human than with our natural resources. This budget helps us move in that direction by promoting education, science, industry and clean energy. If you get stuck in the past you’ll miss the future.


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 where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. Rivers is no longer active with any political party.

Background links:

2016 Budget in Full



More Deficit


More Criticism


An Easy Sell

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It’s the Money Stupid - or is it?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 21st, 2016



The United States is one of a growing number of places on earth where political candidates can opt for public funding. But in that crazy world we call US politics, Mr. Obama shunned the public option for both of his election wins – because he could raise more money on his own. And much of that money came from small individual donations rather than contributions from corporations and unions


While “Daddy Warbucks was a real person the name came to be used as a charicacture for “big men” with immense wealth that could be used for any purpose they wished – often political.

In sharp contrast, later this year, the infamously wealthy Koch brothers, also known as Daddys Warbucks, are going to rain down almost a billion dollars for the GOP presidential campaign south of the border. And they are but one of the numerous corporate political action committees (PAC) in the game there throwing money into the election, hoping that will get them a win, in the increasingly expensive US election orgy.

Back on earth, Canada’s political parties in last year’s federal election were entitled to spend a maximum of $54 million dollars each. None of them actually got to the max, though the Conservative Party came closest at just over $50 million. And they lost the election anyway which makes me believe that there is a God and that the old Beatles standard, ‘money can’t buy me love’, is occasionally true.

The winners, the Trudeau Liberals, spent around $10 million less. It was what they were selling, rather than how much they advertised, which evidently won the election. Now that is refreshing – that ideas alone can win elections – putting to rest the notion that the public can always be bought with its own money. And it is our own money, or at least most of it, when we consider that the funds raised by these parties are tax-deductible.


Cash in envelopes was the advice former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was said to have given his political cohorts.

Individual donations are the only way federal political parties can raise money here since Mr. Harper eliminated the decade-old annual per-vote public subsidy last year. He argued that government should not be subsidizing the political parties. Who was he kidding? For starters he must have forgotten about the generous rebates Elections Canada doles out to eligible candidate campaigns.

Then there are those individual tax-deductible donations, which in 2009 accounted for almost twice as much of a subsidy to political parties as the per-vote annual government grants. Of course It is no secret that well-healed individual Tory contributors give far more money than that more economically diverse Liberal crowd. And the higher your tax bracket the more valuable these tax deductions are. But perhaps it was only well-meaning ideology and not self-serving hypocrisy which framed Harper’s argument?

But if anyone thinks the federal political funding scene could be better, they need only to look at the provinces. Following the Liberal ‘Sponsorship’ scandal, at the turn of the last decade, corporations and unions were prohibited from contributing to federal political parties. But, provincially, Ontario is still the wild west with the teachers unions, law firms and countless other corporate and labour associations pouring money into party coffers they hope will make a difference.

In B.C.’s last election, corporate donations to the provincial Liberals swamped individual donations. Of course, critics point out that banning corporate and union donations will just result in masked individual donations, leaving the influence peddling unabated. And that speaks to the rationale by those calling for the elimination of individual donations and fully subsidizing political parties, complicated as that might be.

Brown paper bag

It may not come in brown bags any more but cash does move from the people who have influence to the people who want to see that influence used in their favour.

These critics notwithstanding, it is remarkable that the provincial governments have not been forced to follow the federal government by at least eliminating corporate and union donations. Of course, it’s about the money. In fact Ontario’s premier has been criticized for holding ‘special meetings’ with those willing to cough up big bucks for that privilege.

The optics couldn’t be worse. Allowing money to buy access to Ontario’s chief policy maker is what we call influence peddling, and it is the first step on the road to corruption. Ontario residents expect and deserve better.

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 where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. Rivers is no longer active with any political party.

 Background links:

Koch Brothers        PACs (USA)

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

2015 Federal Election Spending          Federal Financing        Influence Peddling      Ontario’s Political Financing

Political Party Financing      Ontario Liberal Donation Limits      Donations from Law Firms

Teachers Unions       B.C. Political Financing

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Another attempt to get a private tree bylaw in place - Mayor advocates a pilot study for Roseland.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 21, 2016


The Mayor is going to make another attempt at getting a private tree bylaw passed by Council – we think.

In July 2013, the Development and Infrastructure Committee chose to receive and file an information report on a private tree by-law feasibility study. Council did not vote to see the creation of such a bylaw at that time.  . The dean of Council, John Taylor, summed it up when he said “the will is just not there”, the public just doesn’t want this” and try as they might BurlingtonGreen and Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward, who pushed as hard as one can push, could not get this through the Development and Infrastructure Committee.   ” It is going to be very tough to get a private tree by law in this city” said Taylor

In a Notice of Motion that he filed for debate at the Development and Infrastructure the Mayor said that since the 2013 failure he “ continues to hear requests for a private tree by-law in Burlington. Most recently, this came from members of the Roseland community as part of the Character Area Study process.


Many of the trees in Roseland are very old – replace trees have not been planted – at some point the residents of this community will deeply regret the loss of their tree canopy.

“Recognizing staff did not support a private tree by-law specific to the Roseland neighbourhood … I believe there is merit investigating a pilot private tree by-law to gauge its impact.

“I propose that a report on a pilot project with recommendations be drafted by staff, with considerations to such aspects as length of time, extent of regulations, performance measures, staff resources required, among others.

“There are several reasons I support a pilot project for a private tree by-law in Roseland. I believe our tree canopy is essential to the environmental and physical health of our city and its residents. As well, as one of the community’s oldest neighbourhoods, Roseland has a large number of mature trees that contribute to its character. Through the Character Study, many residents expressed a desire to maintain the tree canopy and the presence of the large, mature trees.

“The Roseland Tree Planting Initiative is a noteworthy endeavour started by interested community members.

Belvenia trees-1024x768

A truly spectacular tree canopy – most of the trees are on city owned property.

“This cooperative effort by city staff and residents in the community to proactively plant trees within the public rights-of-way in areas with a high percentage of mature trees, and raise awareness among homeowners about the importance of trees within the neighbourhood, demonstrates the value placed on trees and as such, is an appropriate neighbourhood to implement a pilot private tree by-law.”

The Mayor added that “There are many other neighbouring communities that have private tree by-laws, such as Oakville, Hamilton, Toronto and Brampton. Mississauga is currently working on establishing a private tree protection by-law.

He also said: “When drafting the by-law, it is important staff strike a balance between private property owners’ rights and the intent of preserving our tree canopy. The outcome of this pilot project will be valuable in determining the applicability of a private tree by-law in other neighbourhoods, and, potentially, a private tree by-law for the entire city.”

The motion that will get debated is:

Direct the Acting Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance to investigate the implementation of a pilot tree by-law for the Roseland neighbourhood, with a review of options including, but not limited to: length of time for pilot project, extent of regulations, budget and staffing requirements, and measures to evaluate success, and to include community consultation.

Direct the Acting Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance to report back to committee on June 21, 2016.

There is a critical word missing from the Direction – the word “private” isn’t in between the words pilot and tree. Is this a motion to create a bylaw restricting what people can do with trees that are on their private property?

Geese on Guelph Line and the apple trees

A beautiful collection of apple trees next to st. Christopher’s church on Guelph Line that were cut down because Canada geese were eating the apples and pooping on the roadway.

There have been a very sad story told about the man who cut down a 50 year old tree because he didn’t want to rake the leaves. A lovely collection of apple trees were cut down on the property next to St. Christopher’s Anglican church on Guelph Line because Canada geese were eating the apples and pooping all over a driveway used for the most car by just cars. There was a promise to plant new trees – two years and counting and still no new trees,

The environmentalists take the position that people do not own trees – that we are the stewards of a tree for the period of time we own the property on which the tree grows. Mayor Goldring has positioned himself as an environmentalist – he tends however not to walk his talk.

It will take some time for a shift in attitude to take place in this city. Changes in attitude take place when a society is educated – it is the leadership of a community that does the evangelizing.

The motion the Mayor has put forward isn’t going to get us very far – I would love to be proven wrong on this one.

Background links:

Council looks for every way out of a private tree bylaw.

The environmentalists lost the fight in 2013


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Do you want to make sure you get the Gazette?

“I didn’t see that article” is a comment we hear frequently from readers.

Gazette logo Black and redThe Gazette is an on-line newspaper that you can get delivered right into your mail box just as soon as it is published.

Many readers have made logging into the site something they do every day – others come in and see what’s going on a couple of times a week.

We have  lot of people who go south for the winter and they come on line to see what has happened in their hometown.

At the bottom of each story there are two small boxes – they are beneath the section you make a comment if you are so inclined.

If you want to get the Gazette automatically – scroll down to the bottom of any article.  You will see two small boxes underneath the space where you can make a comment.

Click on the lower of the two small boxes – we drew a red oblong rectangle around the one you need to put the check mark in.

Gazette New posts notificationYou do need to make a comment – be polite and if you don’t want your comment published just say so.  All comments are moderated.

Once you have entered a comment click on the Post Comment  box and it gets sent to us.  Make sure you put the check in that lower box.

You will then get an email asking if you really want to be notified when a new story is published.

Tell them you do – and zippo – you are a regular subscriber – and the news will be delivered to you automatically.

News that matters, news that puts what happens in your city in context with an approach intended to ensure the people who serve you are accountable to you.

It was the Gazette that broke the story on the Air Park bylaw abuses.  It was the Gazette that followed the construction of the pier – the one we built twice and paid for both times.


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Will you flick the switch?

backgrounder 100By Pepper Parr

March 18, 2016



The plan is for the lights to go out at 8:30 Saturday night and remain out for an hour. Will you flick that switch to recognize Earth Day? And if you do what difference is it going to make.

Turning off the lights for an hour isn’t going to save the planet.

It is however a statement – and it is a statement the public needs to make – for a couple of reasons.

The earth is not going to disappear – it will be around for a long time – it is we human beings who are at risk.

Vince Fitorio

Vince Fiorito – probably the city’s best environmental advocate.

Vince Fiorito, a Burlington citizen nominated for the Environment award as one of Burlington’s Best, will bend your ear badly if you let him get started on what we human beings have done to the environment. He does however make a number of critical points.

“2015 a new record high average temperature for the planet’s climate. It broke the 2014 record that was a new high. What seems evident is that there is a rate of change taking place that we have not seen before.

“We are in uncharted territory now. It doesn’t take a genius to know that as these trends continue, the result will be series of unprecedented floods and droughts.

“No human being has ever breathed an atmosphere of 400 ppm of carbon dioxide. What does that mean?   The more carbon in the air the warmer the climate gets.

“We have cut down most of the forests and altered the earth’s ecosystems in ways that reduce the ability of the earth to sequester carbon.

“No one can claim to know the future. What we do know is that CO2 levels are rising, along with the average global temperature and sea levels. Oceans are acidifying. Corals reefs and life at the bottom of the ocean food chain is dying.

Blue sky begins to break through the clouds over Arctic Ocean ice Sept. 9, 2009.

Arctic Ocean sometimes does not freeze over – even in winter.

“The last time the earth’s atmosphere had this much CO2, the Arctic ocean didn’t freeze, even in “winter”. Eventually the climate may change to the point where Greenland will become tropical enough to support crocodiles and palm trees, like it was 55 million years ago when ocean levels were 50-100M higher than today.

“The Arab spring and the Syrian civil war are just a taste of what may be coming.

“How does one link a war half way around the world to climate change? That unrest and violence was preceded by a five year climate change exacerbated drought across North Africa and Middle East. Farmers couldn’t pay their bills, lost their land and moved to the cities where they didn’t find jobs and in the case of Syria, didn’t find a caring government either.

“When people are so poor they can’t afford to some of the nicer things they want, they pick up signs and protest. When they are so poor they can’t feed their children, they pick up guns. When the level of desperation reaches the point where the majority of people have nothing to gain from the status quo and nothing to lose from chaos, even the wealthy living in “safe” gated communities become refugees.

“Likely the biggest climate change exacerbated crisis in the near future will come in Bangladesh. Already they’ve lost about 10% of their rice production in the Ganges river delta to rising ocean levels and salt water contamination. Sooner or later a massive climate change exacerbated typhoon will hit this region, flooding and contaminating the remainder of the delta with salt. Then 100 million people will suddenly become food insecure and desperate. The same thing will happen in the Mekong river delta and many other food production areas.”

What would a drought do to wheat farmers in Saskatchewan?

Why do you think those millions of Americans want Donald Trump as their president? Because he says he will do something for them and they are so desperate they will vote for a man that is seen as a dangerous demagogue by many. And they are our neighbours.

xxx 2

Climate change demonstrations

Millions around the world demonstrate regularly for changes – before the planet becomes a place we can no longer live in.

The environmental movement has been around for a long time. When it began we were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Mainstream North America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.

We are now at least at the point where we accept that the climate is changing – we have yet to get to the point where we are ready to do anything about it personally.

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

Burlington doesn’t hold large demonstrations – we are too polite to do anything like that. Mayor Goldring did speak to a group of activists about climate change – it was during an election and he was told he couldn’t use the Gazebo in Spencer Smith Park nor could he use Civic square – so he gathered in front of a coffee shop.

Earth Day has reached its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day.

Flicking that switch for an hour on Saturday won’t save the world – but it will be a statement – and that is a start.

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We will know them by their limping ...

opinionandcommentBy Staff

March 17, 2016


Irish drunksOn a day when we all manage to find a little Irish in us we like to pass on a lovely little Irish limerick that says it all for us.

May those who love us, love us.
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their Hearts;
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them
by their limping.

Gerry Murphy will be printing this one out and framing it

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And what has the Air Park been up to recently? City solicitor has a lot of questions.

airpark 100x100By Staff

March 16, 2015


One never knows what is going to appear in the mail box.
The following was passed along to us – interesting.

March 11, 2016

Fax: 416-314-8452

Application Assessment Officer
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Operations Division
Environmental Approvals Access &
Service Integration Branch Application Verification Unit
135 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 1 Toronto, Ontario M4V 1P5
E-mail: Ms. Tina Dufresne, District Manager
Halton-Peel District Office, Central Region
4145 North Service Road, Suite 300 Burlington, Ontario L7L 6A3

Dear Sir/Madam:
Subject: EBR Registry Number: 012-6693
Ministry Reference Number: 1720-A59NX4 Proponent: 2120901 Ontario Limited
Instrument Type: Environmental Compliance Approval – EPA Part 11.1-sewage
Location: 5432 Bell School Line, Burlington, Ontario

I am writing on behalf of the of the Corporation of the City of Burlington, in response to an application for a new Environmental Compliance Approval for 2120901 Ontario Limited posted to the EBR on February 4, 2016. For the reasons that follow, the City of Burlington is requesting that the application be returned to the proponent as incomplete for the reasons as will be set out below. In the alternative, the City is requesting that the time for the submission of comments be extended for an additional 60 days beyond the current deadline of March 20, 2016 to permit adequate time for consideration of the issues by Burlington City Council, and affected residents.


The City of Burlington and the Burlington Airpark Inc. have been engaged in litigation for several years arising from an illegal fill operation taking place at the Burlington Airpark. The sewage works that are the subject of the application before you drain water from the landfill at the airport that is the subject of the litigation between the City and Airpark. The Airpark is located between Appleby Line and Bell School line, north of Highway 407, all of which is located in the northern rural area of Burlington.

Air Park dump truck

It was the dumping of landfill that resulted in neighbours calling the Gazette – we published the first stories on the problem which woke up people at city hall who began to look into the problem.

A fill operation on the Airpark property commenced in late 2007. The City of Burlington was never consulted about the fill operation or about any proposed expansion plans that the Airpark might have with respect to its operations. On or about March 2013, the City began receiving a significant number of complaints from new landowners in the vicinity of the Airpark. The nature of the complaints ranged from grading activities, drainage, noise, dust, traffic safety and about the possible effects of contaminants in the fill on drinking water. After having investigated these complaints, staff concluded that the Airpark was using its lands as a fill site in order to generate revenue and was not depositing fill to implement a planned and/or imminent expansion of its airport facilities.

As a result of its investigations, on May 3, 2013 the City issued an Order to Comply pursuant to its site alteration by-law by obtaining a permit for the ongoing fill operation. After the Airpark failed to comply, the City issued a Violation Notice under its by-law. Since that time, the City has been engaged in protracted litigation with the Airpark to bring the Airpark into compliance with the City’s by­ laws to address the off-site impacts caused by its fill operation.

Litigation Round 1

The Airpark brought a court application in July 2013 to prohibit the City from enforcing its Topsoil Preservation and Site Alteration By-law against the Airpark and the Airport. The City responded with a counter application seeking a declaration that the City’s Topsoil Preservation and Site Alteration By-law 6-2003 was valid and binding upon the Airpark and to its fill activities.

In November 2013, the court dismissed Airpark’s application against the City and declared that the City’s Topsoil and Site Alteration By-law was valid and binding upon it. The Airpark subsequently appealed the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on June 13, 2014.

Following the decision of the Court of Appeal, the City continued to press the Airpark to comply with the Order to Comply under the City’s Site Alteration By-law. The City adopted a new Site Alteration By-law #64-2014 which contained materially the same provisions found in the previous by-law. The City maintained that the Order remained outstanding and it continued to be entitled to enforce it. The Airpark subsequently did file an application, however maintained that it was in relation only to a small area at the north-west corner of the Airport. This position

ignores all of the fill unlawfully deposited at the Airpark between January 1, 2008 and August 2, 2013.

litigation Round 2

The City commenced an application to the court in April, 2015 seeking an order to remove all fill deposited on site between 2008 and 2013. In the alternative, the City seeks to have the court order the Airpark to submit a complete application for a site alteration permit pursuant to the new City’s site alteration by-law. The application was heard by the court on November 10, 2015 and at the time of preparing this letter, the court has not released its decision.

Nature of Burlington’s Interest

The City of Burlington has a clear and compelling interest in the application for Environmental Compliance Approval that has been submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and posted on the EBR. As demonstrated above, the City has been engaged in a protracted dispute with the Airpark to regulate the fill that was brought onto the site illegally in order to address the environmental impacts resulting from those actions. In particular, the City is concerned with the grading of the property, and the impacts on the drainage of the lands, all of which are related to the proposed sewage works identified in the current application for compliance.

Councillor Blair Lancaster walking through the property of a farm adjacent to the air port found the land spongy and soaked with water – now we know where that water is coming from.

Prior to 2008, which was the start of the fill operations, the Airpark had a storm sewer drainage system that was located generally in the vicinity of the North­ South runway and the airpark buildings. These storm sewers discharged into the existing pond at the SE corner of the property and into the adjacent farm fields.

With the start of the fill operations, additional storm sewers were installed in the areas of fill. These storm sewers discharge into a regulated watercourse and also at several locations along the west property line. This has resulted in changes to the stormwater discharge regime onto adjacent properties. The change has been from the previous “sheet flow discharge” to “concentrated flow discharge”. As a result, adjacent properties have been adversely impacted, as identified above in the form of complaints received by the City.

The City agrees that the MOECC Environmental Compliance Approvals were required for these storm sewer systems. In addition, Conservation Authority permits should have been applied for. It is the City’s position that detailed storm sewer and stormwater design calculations should be provided for these systems. The application does not include adequate information in this regard.

Irregularities with the Present Application

City staff has had the opportunity to attend at the Halton-Peel District Office to view the materials filed by the proponent. The City submits that the application as filed contains a number of irregularities that merit the rejection of the present application on the basis of incompleteness.

Name of Proponent

Air Park entrance uly 2013

The ownership of the Air Park and the taxes they actually pay are now being questioned.

The name of the proponent making application for environmental compliance approval is 212091 Ontario Limited. The Certificate of Incorporation and the Articles of Incorporation attached to the application for that numbered company date back to 2006. Our recent corporate search of this company discloses that the numbered company was in fact amalgamated with the Burlington Airpark Inc. on January 1, 2007, forming a new company, Burlington Airpark Inc. being Ontario Corp. Number 1721779. Burlington takes the position that the application has been made by a defunct corporation which cannot have legal responsibility for the proposed works to which the application relates. The documents submitted in support of the applicant’s name are neither current, nor do they provide proof of the name of a genuine applicant. Furthermore, the documents submitted do not include copies of the subsequent articles of amalgamation.

Burlington submits that the proponent’s name as posted on the EBR is misleading, and a reasonable person having an interest in postings on the EBR respecting the Burlington Airpark Inc. would not have adequate notice of the application as posted in its current form.

Location(s) Related to this Instrument

The posting to the Environmental Registry identify the relevant address as 5432 Bell School Line, Burlington. Our information is that the actual address for the site is 5342 Bell School Line, in the City of Burlington. Again, any reasonable person having an interest in activities related to the Airpark would not have adequate notice that an application had been made for those lands. Also, 5342 Bell School Line is only one of three land parcels forming the Airpark lands.

Statement of the Municipality (s. 5.1)

The City notes that section 1.5 of the Application – Statement of the Municipality has been left blank. The Municipality has to indicate that it has no objection to the construction of the works in the municipality. I can assure you, that the City of Burlington, where the works are located has not been contacted and has not been consulted. Furthermore, the box has not been checked as “NA”.

Our understanding is that a municipal declaration is required from the municipality in which the sewage works are or will be located. The Ministry’s own “Guide to Applying for an Environmental Compliance Approval”, identifies that this declaration, “is required to establish the municipality’s general concurrence with the proposal, to ensure that the proposed works would not contravene any municipal by-laws or other requirements.” Also, the common law requires that the City be consulted in these circumstances.

Based on the background provided in this correspondence, the City of Burlington has very serious concerns about the sewage works identified in the application, and the municipality ought to have been consulted prior to the application having been made. The City takes the position that the installation of sewage works was done concurrent with the illegal infill operation that was occurring at the site, in contravention of the City’s site alteration by-laws.

Burlington’s Request

Barbara Sheldon look at 32 feet of landfill less than 50 feet from her kitchen window. All dumped without any permits because an airport is federally regulated. The city is not done with this issue.

Barbara Sheldon look at 32 feet of landfill less than 50 feet from her kitchen window. All dumped without any permits because an airport maintained they were federally regulated and did not have to comply with city bylaws.

The City of Burlington is requesting that the application be returned to the proponent as incomplete for the reasons as presented. The application contains incomplete and inaccurate information, and has the effect of misleading any person with an interest in tracking environmental activity on the EBR. The proponent ought to correct the application, and ensure that discussions are held with the relevant municipal authorities, including the City of Burlington and Conservation Halton before an application for environmental compliance is re­ submitted.

In the alternative, the City is requesting that the time for the submission of comments be extended for an additional 60 days beyond the current deadline of March 20, 2016 to permit adequate time for consideration of the issues by Burlington City Council, and affected residents.

Please note that these submissions are preliminary and deal only with the adequacy of the application and process followed to date. Should the application continue to be processed for approval, the City will submit its technical comments on the application for environmental approval.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours truly,

Nancy L. Shea Nicol
City Solicitor & Director of Legal Services cc. Mr. Ian Blue, Gardiner

This is the kind of document that would get circulated to council members and discussed in a closed session of council.  Our thanks to the citizen who had the courage to pass it along to the Gazette.

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Will city council get it right this time? An opportunity to revover from the first round handling of the ADI development on Martha Street.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 14, 2016


Mayor and chair

Can Mayor Goldring keep his council focused and on topic in order to meet the two hour limitation he was given by the Chair of the ADI development appeal now before the OMB.

The Mayor is going to have to be brisk and focused when he chairs the Special meeting of Council Wednesday afternoon as they work through what they want to give their legal counsel in the way of instructions on the latest twist in the Nautique development that ADI took to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Nautique ADI rendering - sparse

Can a substantially revised development still be appealed on its original grounds? ADI purchases property to the north of their Nautique development site.

The ADI Development Group appealed their application to build a 28 storey structure to the OMB because they didn’t like the fact that the city did not give them a decision on their project within the required 180 day timeline.

Now they have the temerity to ask the city to go along with an adjournment for six months or more – and it will be more because there is no room on the OMB calendar until the 1Q of 2017.

There is also a bigger issue – the addition of a significant chunk of property to the development proposal would suggest that the OMB can (some say should) throw the appeal out and let ADI make a new application to the city.

The Mayor might have been better advised to call the meeting for 9:30 am – there is going to be a lot to talk about and there is significant doubt that this council can get through the jibber jabber they do when they debate in time to meet that 3:30 deadline put in place by the Chair of the OMB hearing.

City council recently approved the salaries for city council and reported on what council members were given in the way of expense and benefits money. On has to add about $60,000 to the number shown – this is what the council members get paid for their work as members of the Regional council.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Recorded votes are not the norm for Burlington’s city council. In this instance Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward votes against – it will be interesting to see if she demands a recorded vote for whatever comes out of the closed council meeting on Tuesday.

The debate that takes place, in a closed session of city council, which the Gazette believes is one of those occasions when the discussion should take place in camera; however the vote on what the city decides to do should take place in a public session where the public gets to learn what the question was and how individual members actually voted.

This is an important decision that gives the city an opportunity to bring a developer to heal.

One can hope that Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will do her duty and once again ask for a recorded vote – don’t let your constituents down Councillor.

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Not much has changed -

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 10th, 2016


So what did the rascals do while we were away?

The Burlington’s Best web site nomination process experienced a bit of a screw up – a staffer said it was “experiencing some issues”. The city manager had to jump in and attempt to resolve one of the problems.

Fox monument 1

Why hard working citizen groups should have to be put through so many hoops by the planning department is difficult to understand.

The group of people who are behind the creation of a really smart looking monument that will commemorate the stop Terry Fox made in Burlington 35 years ago found themselves stumbling over hurdles the people in the permit section of the planning department kept putting in front of them.

The Mayor has come out from the bushes and is putting forward a motion for a private tree bylaw.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized trhe arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum's operation listens.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized the arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum’s operation listens.

The Arts and Culture Collective of Burlington (ACCOB) has written the people who are beavering away at getting the Strategic Plan into print and in the hands of the public, asking that the word “arts” be included in the Strategic Plan. Culture is already in the document. Trevor Copp, a sometime spokesperson for ACCOB says they “noticed the lack of the specific term ‘Arts’ and advocated for its specific inclusion (good use of ‘Culture’; we want both terms). Hopefully it gets in there and we can reference it in the future.”
The arts community has high hopes for some city money that will be doled out to the arts community.

As for the Strategic Plan – the document is now more than a year late, has ballooned at two levels, the scope and scale of the document and the cost.

Strategic Plan Workbook

The early version was a four year plan – somewhere along the way city council decided to make it a 25 year plan – nothing on the public record as to why they did that.

Traditionally, Strategic Plans are documents prepared by a city council for its term of office. The document that is coming our way covers a 25 year period – a time frame when not one member (hopefully) of this council will be in office.

The cost of the consultants who created the document ballooned as well – but the public may never know exactly how much they paid – the service based budget we now have doesn’t allow anyone to drill down and learn much about the specifics.

There was an agency that has taken on the delivery of a provincially funded initiative that was being funnelled through municipalities. The dollars went from the province to the cities – and in Burlington there was a plug somewhere that resulted in some close to frantic calls for the dollars to move in the right direction so the payroll could be met.

A resident took issue with the way minutes of public meetings are kept. He was unable to delegate in person and mailed in his concerns – and was surprised and upset at the way the public record was kept. Let the correspondence with the city Clerk tell the rest of the story …

Meed Ward as a delegation

Marianne Meed Ward delegated many many times – she saw it as a vital part of the democratic process. The comments that follow were not made by Meed Ward.

“In 25 years of coming to Council as a delegation, with a submission, I have never, ever, to my recollection, had my name, and my main message, not included in the Agenda and Minutes of the meeting. For a recent example, the message I sent not supporting the downsizing of the Nelson pool had my name and main message included.

“If I send something to Council, to speak to an Agenda item, I automatically want to be identified by name, and by my main message.

“After receiving this reply, I looked at the Agenda and Minutes again for the C&CS meeting and see that you have put my original correspondence, with my name back, into the Agenda packet.

“However, in the Minutes, while you put my name back, you did not include my main message, which was I support the staff report recommendation to refuse the ADI Martha St. proposal as outlined.

“Please change these proceedings record to indicate that I supported the staff recommendation.

“That’s the bottom line here – including my name and main message in Agendas and Minutes – and what I want corrected and never done to my correspondence to Council again, if you please.”

The public record matters – everything the Gazette has published is in the archives – except of course for those items we get bullied into removing with threats of expensive lawsuits.

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Spectator columnist makes us look better than we are - but thanks - there is more to come on this story.


February 11, 2016



My colleague, Joan Little, a former Burlington alderman and Halton councillor, writes a regular column for the Hamilton Spectator. We share a table in Council chambers reserved for media.

More often than not, it is just me from the Gazette and Joan from the Spectator – the Post gets a reporter to about half of the meetings.
Little and I share views on what we see taking place – we use each other to check on what we thought a council member said – we confirm with each other how a member voted – there are a couple that you would swear did not want the public to know how they had voted.

In her most recent column, Little wrote the following:

Monday saw the end of the online Burlington Gazette.  (Not completely correct Joan – but do read on.)

Burlington’s online news and opinion journal has been produced by resident Pepper Parr for over five years, initially as Our Burlington. Although a resident for under six years, he seems to know almost everyone in the city and at City Hall.

Mayor Goldring once described the Gazette as almost better than sliced bread – he has changed his mind about the Gazette and the Gazette changed its mind about him.

This is what the original Burlington Gazette office on Brant Street used to look like.

This is what the original Burlington Gazette office on Brant Street used to look like.

The demise of the Gazette is sad, because the outspoken Parr always evoked interesting feedback, and left Burlingtonians with something to mull over. He seemed to be everywhere — city hall meetings, community activities, even sports and arts events. And he strongly promoted local endeavours.

But litigation takes its toll. Always outspoken, Parr regularly made on-the-edge observations. Whether actually litigious, only a court could rule, but he upset companies and individuals enough to attract two challenges over the years, neither of which has been heard yet, according to Parr. They cost money for consultations with lawyers.

He had been increasing the Gazette’s advertising revenue recently, but the time needed, and the confluence of the cost of running an online journal and defending against legal threats took its toll.

One company suing is Burlington Executive Air Park, which itself was sued in 2013 by the City over the amount of fill it imported to its Bell School Line site. The City claimed importation of fill is covered by its site alteration bylaw. The Air Park said it was exempt because airports are under federal jurisdiction. Burlington initially won, but the issue is still before the courts as the result of appeals.

Besides the Gazette, North Burlington citizens Monte Dennis and Vanessa Warren were also sued for comments they made. Dennis wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Spectator in response to a submission by Air Park’s Vince Rossi. The Rural Greenbelt Coalition is raising money to help fund their defence.

Another recent corporate threat was from Adi Development Group. Adi is proposing the 26-storey condo at Martha and Lakeshore, which is the subject of a March OMB hearing.

Adi demanded an apology for comments in two November columns which it claimed damaged its reputation. The apology appeared Monday, and the offending columns were retracted.

A question that troubles citizen activists and journalists is whether they might become the targets of libel chill (the threat of being sued for libel to shut them up). Having a second pair of eyes check columns before publication is a plus. On one occasion my Spec editor was concerned about a column’s content, and cautioned me. Grateful for the advice, I amended it, or could have been in that situation.

Ontario passed legislation in October, “The Protection of Public Participation Act”, aimed at protecting against SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation). It reduces the risk of suits (which are often dropped before getting to trial anyway) and fast tracks the process.

Unfortunately it won’t help Dennis or Warren, because they were sued before this legislation was passed. Such suits can cost defendants thousands. How many people have that kind of spare change?

Meantime Parr has shut down the Burlington Gazette. Asked what he will do now, he said he wasn’t sure, but is considering a couple of options, and will enjoy expanded participation in his church community.

Burlington owes him a debt of gratitude for demystifying some of the operations of city hall, and for providing a local sounding board.

Clearly disappointed, he noted that one of the main things he tried to do was educate citizens about how City Hall works, and how to effectively present their positions. In that, he succeeded brilliantly.

He definitely knows more about the internal workings of City Hall than most people as the result of investigations he’s done. And he has acted in the past as a consultant for small business.

Who knows? He could show up on a council ballot.

Little got most of it right. The Gazette has not shut down – it has just limited what it publishes for a very short period of time.

The apology we were required to publish, if we wanted to avoid a very expensive libel suit, which we thought we could win but could not afford to fight, was to be the top story on the paper for a period of forty – eight hours.

If we published our usual daily volume that apology would have been shoved off the front page with a day or two. So we published very little – and let the apology – that we didn’t write, got top billing.

That 48 hours is coming to an end and we will get caught up.

However – and this is critical – the Gazette needs to change its financial model if it is to continue and find a way to get more advertising into the paper so we can pay our bills and have a cookie jar with some fall back on cash.

I have put everything I had into the Gazette – it cost me a marriage that I did not want to see end and it requires me to move from the accommodation I have now to something that is closer to the pension money I get. It is going to be bumpy for a while

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The Stateside election: River's discounts The Donald, remembers The Ronald and seems to want to put his money on The Cuban.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 4th, 2016


I’m in Nicaragua this week, taking in a little sun and a lot of car exhaust fumes. Even in the picturesque tourist city of Granada, a walk down its narrow streets yields an unhealthy lung full of petroleum byproducts. The privately owned cars, trucks and motor bikes scoot around or get tied up in vehicular traffic on these mostly pot-holed streets, pumping out nasty black fumes and all those other pollutants we don’t see.

It’s a poor country, as I discovered trying to drive on what passes for roads here, before giving up and championing public transportation and my shanks’ mare. And it is a treat to watch the many horse-drawn vehicles and the oxen carts hauling the nation’s produce and its people.

It makes one wonder how these people manage their extensive cane and corn plantations, when not a tractor is to be seen. Oxen technology? One wonders if the exhaust fumes from grass-fed ‘quadro gastric’ ruminants are worse those than from the petroleum-fed internal combustion engines when it comes to global warming?


Donald Trump

It may be a poor country but they do have universal internet, even if it runs a tad slow, in true Latin tradition. So I could hardly avoid exposure to that other hot air activity, the 2016 US primary in Iowa, which was plastered all over the cyber sphere. Our own Canadian-born Ted Cruz managed to trump ‘The Donald’, thanks in part to the flamboyant Trump’s set-to with Fox News and his insatiable appetite to insult and alienate.

One would have thought the endorsement of the unintelligibly rambling Sarah Palin would have pushed him over the top, but not so. Cruz invoked the higher order of ‘The Ronald’ (Reagan) and that must have sealed the deal. Even if Cruz’s own party finds him an unlikeable sort – and if unlikeable, unlikely to win the big one in November – he’s still a more authentic neo-con than Trump, cut in the cloth of his hero Ronnie.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on that other Cuban, the handsome Marco Rubio to get the GOP nod, though. Oh and I’d be surprised it Trump doesn’t fall on his promise to the party, and run as an independent along with former New York mayor Bloomberg.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, to discuss Republican efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare and other programs that have an impact on working families. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee when the new GOP-controlled Congress began. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The democrats had a see-saw contest in Iowa with Hillary and Bernie almost equally balanced off. Except it wasn’t supposed to go that way. Iowa should have been a shoo-in for the capable and likeable Clinton, and would have been except for all the baggage she is carrying. No one can blame her for her flirtatious husband’s sexual addiction, and she might get a pass on voting for the Iraq invasion, but it’s her unimpressive record as Madam Secretary which is weighing her down.

And Bernie – God bless his 74 years as a socialist – he is creating quite a stir, especially among those spoiled millennials who need a good reason to vote. In fact Sanders’ impact on the younger crowd hasn’t been seen… since America elected its first black president. Well maybe that didn’t work as well as some of us had hoped, but Sanders like our own Trudeau, is a breath of fresh air in a country on a precipice.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

The precipice – progress or regress. This is not the first time that Americans have faced that kind of choice in their outdated bi-cameral electoral system, with its archaic electoral college and independent state-managed voting systems, And as often as not they have made the poorer choice, as when they and the Supreme Court elected GW Bush and when Cruz’s hero Ronald Reagan won two back-to-back elections – which takes us back to Nicaragua.

The US has had a long history of helping Nicaragua discover democracy even as the Monroe Doctrine, defining the US role in Latin America, was evolving. In the mid 1800’s an American slavery promoter by the name of Walker, from the great state of Tennessee brought in an army on the pretence of supporting one side in a civil conflict. He was there anyway so decided to make himself president and revoke Nicaragua’s anti-slavery law, just to please his southern state-side supporters.

But all good things must come to an end and eventually the bordering states of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras ganged up to defeat Walker, and with a little help from the Brits, he ended up before a Honduran firing squad. Then a half-century later the marines landed, and using the Roosevelt corollary hunkered down to ensure the US’s Panama would be the only canal in the continent. (Nicaragua had been an alternative route).


Former American president Ronald Regan

In the late 1970’s the Sandinista socialist hoard overran the corrupt dictator Samosa and Reagan’s CIA and Oliver North broke American and international laws, selling arms to Iran via Israel – as incredible as that sounds today. The money was used to train the ‘Contra’ militants to commit acts of terror and human rights violations against the Sandinistas. That included killing over 3000 people and mining the nation’s harbours.

The Nicaraguan government first took and won its case against the US in the International Court of Justice, where the court ordered the US to desist and pay reparations. Then armed with that judgement they went to the UN Security Council, only to be vetoed five times by the US. Eventually, brought before the UN General Assembly, a resolution was passed condemning this act of state sponsored terrorism.

Of course the US approach to Latin America has changed recently with the Obama administration turning the page on the Monroe Doctrine – or as some have observed, returning to it’s original intent. As for Ronald Reagan, the world would be a better place had he stuck to his career as a mediocre actor.

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 where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. Rivers has taken a break to complete his second book – he does dabble in local politics.

Background links:

William Walker   ICC Ruling     Contra Affair

Sandinistas       Monroe Doctrine       Terrorism

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Public involvement in getting ideas from the general public got left out - all the stakeholders got a chance to promote their interests. Wasn't this new Liberal government going to be more open?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 2, 2016


“In keeping with the Liberals’ commitment to ensuring an inclusive and open government” said the media release, “Burlington MP Karina Gould and Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff continued the Finance Minister’s collaborative approach to budget planning by participating in a large number of extensive pre-budget consultations across the ridings in January to gather input from a variety of individuals, groups and organizations on the key issues that should be addressed in the federal governments’ upcoming budget.”

In early January, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau officially launched the Government’s pre-budget consultations and called upon Canadians to share their thoughts on how to better support the middle class, create jobs, and set the right conditions for long-term prosperity and stronger economic growth.

Levee Gould welcoming a new Canadian

Burlington MP Karina Gould works very well with people – she listens well. Not widening the pre-budget consultations to include more than the stake holders might have been a lost opportunity.

Throughout the month of January, Damoff and Gould participated in consultations with a large number of groups including both Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce, the Town of Oakville and City of Burlington, the Region of Halton, representatives of local unions, businesses, social service providers as well as other local MPs and MPPs. They also invited all residents in their ridings to have their say on the budget through their Facebook and Twitter pages.

And that’s the rub – social media is not consulting with people; it’s sort of like a placebo – something you put in place hoping that the person swallowing the medicine will never know that it isn’t the real thing.

The input the local MPs received during pre-budget consultations covered a number of broad themes, including economic growth, climate change, social infrastructure – particularly housing , public transit, youth employment, a national transportation strategy, local infrastructure including active transportation like cycling and walking, and green infrastructure. Of particular importance to those who offered input was improved local infrastructure to assist and improve economic growth.

Examples of local infrastructure put forward in Burlington included grade separations, LED lighting conversion and active transportation links over the QEW. The Burlington Chamber stressed the importance of small and medium –size business to not only our local economy, but national economic growth. The need to focus on local transit, and integration between municipalities was brought up a number of times. Both Oakville and Burlington were clear that they need stable and sustainable funding for infrastructure, and that the process needs to allow for transformational change in the riding.

Damoff polar ear dip

Oakville North Burlington MP Pam Damoff takes part in the annual polar bear dip – she’s capable of doing things differently.

“I was very impressed with the high level of input I received throughout the pre-budget consultation process and was particularly pleased to see such a collaborative approach taken to addressing our local and national economic issues,” said Ms. Damoff. “I look forward to continuing to consult with constituents across my riding as the budget process continues.”

“Our government was elected on a platform that promised extensive consultation throughout the legislative process,” said Ms. Gould. “It’s positive that many of the issues stakeholders raised during our pre-budget consultations are in direct correlation with our government’s priorities which I’m confident will translate into results for Burlington and Canada.”

All input received has been shared with the Finance Minister to inform the decision-making around the budget.

Both Damoff and Gould are superb political campaigners – they have a very real capacity to listen to people and they are part of that new wave of politicians who don’t take themselves too seriously and have fun at the same time.

Both members of Parliament could have and should have held an open mike evening where people would have been invited to speak – but out there ideas and see how the meeting reacted to them.


A grade separation is important and when this one on King |Road was completed it made a difference – but it has yet to result in any new business development along King Road

They went to the stakeholders – this with vested interests – did you expect the Chamber of Commerce to advocate for a $20 minimum wage and does anyone think that Community Development Halton is going to get excited about a grade separation at a rail crossing?

There was an opportunity to have them all in the same room where they could mix it up and perhaps, just perhaps hear each other and begin to understand each other.

A missed opportunity. Maybe next time.

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Putting the Mayor’s State of the City in context.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 29th, 2016


He is getting better  as a speaker; one of his council colleagues suggested he was getting some training.

Another council colleague said “he went on to long”.

Ok – but what did he say?

There were no “announcements” – he just ran through the things that had been done, mentioned several of the senior staff additions and got one decent joke in.

There wasn’t a standing ovation.

Flood Fairview plaza

Business people know that problems like this need a resolution – all they heard on Thursday was that more money was going to be thrown at it.

The Mayor made very small mention of a possible storm water tax levy – his audience was a combination of senior city hall staff and business people.

Intensification got several paragraphs. If we understood the Mayor correctly, Burlington has already reached its 2031 target.

The Mayor made much better use of good visual aids – at one point he put up three pictures; one of Waterdown Road as it is today – with its widening and a nice new coat of asphalt; a second on what is possible in terms of height under existing zoning and told the audience that if the people of Aldershot wanted a supermarket all they had to do was go along with those higher buildings.

It is clear that the Mayor hasn’t taken in a planning meeting in Aldershot – those folks want to keep their bungalows and streets without sidewalks.

There was quite a bit of time spent on the strategic Plan – he did mention that it was late – made no mention of the cost and didn’t touch on the content – not even a couple of tease lines. The audience he was talking to Thursday morning is going to be very disappointed when they see the final document – unless there are massage changes from the draft versions.

It was a dull speech – the Mayor doesn’t do barn burners – but gosh, golly, gee could he not have said something that would have the business men and woman in the room sitting up in their chairs?

The city planning department has been working on the concept of mobility hubs and there are still those prosperity corridors being talked up.

Mobility hubs

While the city council has not actually said that the |Aldershot GO station is where the first mobility hub is going to be located – all the signs point to that location.

Those start ups the Mayor is so hungry for got another mention and the Advanced Manufacturing Hub that former Prime Minister promised us is still in the works. But he didn’t drill down into just what this would mean for the business community.

The Mayor did mention the newest speaker he has coming to town – this time it is going to be Brent  Toderian who has said  “good planning is not a popularity contest.”    Toderian will talk about the need for city’s to grow “up” and not out at the Royal Botanical Gardens February 12th.

Mayor Goldring seems to want to go back to the Burlington of the 1970’s when he knew everyone in Roseland where he lived at the time – he longs for that “small town fee”.

He touched on the Community Investment Plan that is going to put small amount of money into community groups and let them plan and run recreational event in their communities.

“We are an engaged city” said the Mayor – it would be really wonderful if the he expanded on what he means by “engaged” because Mayor Rick Goldring certainly didn’t engage his audience Thursday morning over breakfast at the Burlington Convention Centre

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Mayor gives the business community his take on the State of the City - sunshine and roses.

News 100 blueBy Mayor Rick Goldring

January 29, 2016


The Gazette has published the Mayor’s State of the City report for most of the last five years.  Links to previous addresses at at the bottom of the 2016 address.

Theologian Leonard Sweet said, “The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.” Today, I would like to talk to you about Burlington’s future.

Mayor and chair

Mayor Rick Goldring.

I am pleased to share that after more than a year of cooperation and collaboration between the community, City Council and city staff, Burlington’s 2015 to 2040 Strategic Plan is almost finalized. Staff is currently making final revisions based on your feedback before sending the completed document to council for approval this spring.

The city is undergoing an important transition, one that some municipalities don’t step up to. In addition to our core mandate of providing a range of critical city services, council has decided to add a new mandate, to actively “city-build.”

City-building entails using all of the tools available to council and working with partners to actively shape the physical, social, economic and cultural fabric of the city.

The new Strategic Plan is fundamentally different than past plans. It is the twenty-five-year blueprint for city-building, and will be supported in more detail with the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and the Corporate Work Plan. Collectively these plans will be setting ambitious, clear and measurable targets for physical growth, sustainability, carbon neutrality, economic growth, changing how people move around the city and how we engage with the public.

Burlington is one of the first Southern Ontario municipalities to stop sprawling and instead grow in place, something many other municipalities will be faced with in the next decade or two. We are leading the way, and are the ‘poster child’ for David Crombie’s recent report on how municipalities in Southern Ontario should be evolving.
As we stop sprawling, we are now going to focus more deliberately on our rural area through our Strategic Plan and Official Plan.

In preparation, we are actively changing our internal management structures, planning processes, and where necessary, skills and resources to support this new agenda.

There are four key directions outlined in our new Strategic Plan, including: A City that Grows, A City that Moves, A Healthy and Greener City and An Engaging City.
Today, I will talk about these directions, highlight the objectives in each section and discuss achievements of the past year related to the four strategic themes.

A City That Grows

A City That Grows is one where Burlington is a magnet for talent, good jobs and economic opportunity while having achieved intensification and balanced, targeted population growth for youth, families, newcomers and seniors.

Promoting Economic Growth
I believe that economic development is the key to a vibrant, prosperous Burlington – whether five or twenty-five years into the future.
Our results in 2015 were steady. Our key metrics are in line. However, vacant employment land supply is low and we are working to activate key employment lands to provide some much-needed inventory for business to locate.

We are also working through our Official Plan and recognizing that with over 88 per cent of employment land already in use, and a large portion of this development more than 50 years old, we need policies to support redevelopment of these employment areas.

Several expansions took place, most noticeably Cogent and Evertz with significant physical expansions. There are many others in our community with aggressive growth plans.

We are working on a number of office and industrial developments for 2016 and we expect to continue to meet out targets in the short term.

As the global economy becomes more and more connected, innovation and globalization are critical to our future. With global competition and the race to low labour costs, our businesses must innovate and utilize new and emerging technologies, supply chains and intellectual property to prosper.

Cities and governments around the world recognize this. Investments in innovation and industry coordination are increasing in certain jurisdictions. Germany and Austria, for example, have introduced Industry 4.0 and are investing more than 70 billion Euros to ensure that manufacturers are operating at the leading edge. The U.K., U.S. and many others are moving in this direction.

The province of Ontario is recognized as one of the best places to start a business. We are not, however, having the success we need growing these businesses. Data shows that 75 per cent of new jobs come from new businesses, primarily between year two and year seven of operations.

Recognizing these trends, our focus for economic development is shifting. Traditionally, we have focused on retaining the businesses we have. Going forward we will be:

Focusing on supporting start-up and growth businesses.
Developing a Regional Employment and Innovation District, which better reflects the work environment companies are looking for and is connected to our highway and public transit network.
Supporting population growth and initiatives to attract and retain the talent that we need to have. This includes youth, young families and professionals, and a more welcoming environment for newcomers.
Improving our transit connectivity to employment areas including looking beyond our borders is critical. After all, almost 35,000 people go back and forth for work between Burlington and Hamilton every day.
Working with our post-secondary education partners to ensure that employers have the talent that they need and that we as a community are taking advantage of the more than 10,000 annual graduates from our local institutions. We are currently working with Mohawk, Sheridan, Brock and McMaster to provide better access to research and development for local business.

McMAster Univesity is developing a three year program that will significantly improve the management skills of senior and middle management staff at city hall. As many as 150 staff members will be taking courses over a thtree year period.

McMaster Univesity De Groote School of Business is adding a fourth floor.


Within the coming months, DeGroote will be finishing the fourth floor of the Ron Joyce Centre. This will be the home of the new Michael G. DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, as well as a Centre for Evidence Based Management. McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business is also launching their new Executive MBA program in Digital Transformation this year.

In 2016, we will continue to work with industry, education and senior levels of government to support the development of an Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Burlington, which will assist manufacturers in Burlington, Halton and Southern Ontario in becoming more competitive globally.

Burlington has a strong, diversified local economy. We will continue to support this, and invest in the future to ensure prosperity in the long term.


Intensification is another key aspect to the future of our city outlined in the proposed Strategic Plan.

Burlington intensification areaINSERT

To understand intensification – the greater concentration of people living and/or working in a defined area – we need to understand what factors are influencing the future of Burlington.

Burlington is built out. There is very little room left for traditional greenfield suburban-type development. Fifty per cent of Burlington is rural, agricultural, natural greenbelt and the vast majority of people I talk to want to keep it that way. North Aldershot, Mount Nemo, Lowville and Kilbride areas house the Bruce Trail, Lowville Park, the Cootes to Escarpment Eco Park System and many other natural features. As the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area becomes more urbanized, the importance of maintaining these assets will only magnify.

Primarily because of immigration, 150,000 people move to the Greater Golden Horseshoe area every year resulting in 3.7 million new residents and 1.8 million new jobs in the next twenty-five years.

The Ontario government released the Places to Grow Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2006 defining how we should accommodate this growth.

Halton Region agreed to accept growth of 315,000 people and 175,000 jobs by 2031, with best planning estimates stating that Milton will grow to 228,000, Oakville 246,000 and Burlington 186,000 by 2031. Burlington is close to 186,000 people now.

In a city that is out of traditional greenfield land, where 50 per cent of our city is protected greenbelt land, the next question is: Where do we grow?

Downtown is an Urban Growth Centre in the Ontario Places to Grow Plan and is targeted to have approximately 200 jobs and people per hectare by 2031. It is two-thirds of the way there now.

Our Official Plan also identifies other sites suited for intensification, such as Uptown located at Appleby Line between Mainway and Upper Middle Road.

The Fairview/Plains Road corridor. When we talk about the transformation of Plains Road through intensification, it is important to recognize the leadership and vision of Councillor Rick Craven.

Site with GO in background before sunrise

Five tower Paradigm project on Fairview at the GO station is selling very well.

The areas around our three GO Stations – Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby.

Aging retail plazas like Roseland, Eastway and Lakeside.

We anticipate that 80 per cent of our urban area will not experience significant change.

If we take federal and provincial policies out of the picture, what makes sense when it comes to residential growth for Burlington? Would we intensify regardless of growth policies?

According to city planner and former Vancouver chief planner, Brent Toderian, the advantages of creating more density, if done well, are:

Facilitating more affordable housing choices
Curbing the negative impacts of sprawl
Mitigating climate change
Dramatically decreasing energy costs
Increasing energy independence
Making walking, biking and transit more inviting
Improving public health, diversity, creativity, safety and vibrancy

These advantages are possible if density is created in an appropriate manner.

I would like to note Brent Toderian is our keynote speaker at Inspire Burlington on February 11th. I invite you to join us for an engaging evening around great city-building.

Brent Toderian writes: “What really matters is how you grow big, not how big you grow…. Most cities perceive growth to be a positive thing when done well, supporting such civic goals as improving affordability, enhancing ecological sustainability, supporting social equity and choice, and stimulating creativity and economic development.”

We are improving conversations about density and we will continue to connect and engage with the community soliciting input on how we grow.

Extreme Weather Resiliency

In order to grow within our urban boundary, we need to be assured that our infrastructure can handle the growth. Since the flood of 2014, the City of Burlington and Halton Region have stepped up our focus on storm water and wastewater management.

Flood presentation - 407 flooded

The initial damage from the flood and the cost of making sure we don’t get hit as hard next time – Mayor said we need to plan for the next one

As a result of the thorough analysis and extensive reports completed by the City and Region, we have committed a total of more than $120 million over the next 10 years to improve our resiliency in the event of extreme weather.

A City That Moves

A City That Moves is where people and goods move through the city more efficiently and safely.

A City That Moves offers a variety of convenient, affordable and green forms of transportation that align with regional travel patterns. This is a city that features walkability within new and transitioning neighbourhoods, as well as in our downtown.

We are investing $300 million over the next 10 years on our roads, which includes such projects as road reconstruction, resurfacing and intersection widening.

However, moving forward, we are shifting our focus on moving people through more sustainable modes of travel that do not rely exclusively on the automobile.

Ninety per cent of all trips made on a weekday within our city – which number more than 260,000 – are made by automobile. Furthermore, 50 per cent of these trips are five kilometres or less.

Walkable trips are considered to be two kilometres or less. Bikeable trips are considered to be within the two to five kilometre range.

These are the ideal distances to cycle, walk or hop on a Burlington Transit bus – including to and from one of our three GO Stations.

Just ask Councillor Jack Dennison, who is on the cycling committee and can be found cycling to events on weekends.

Long-term, we are looking to implement a complete streets vision. This vision will be part of an integrated plan that will see on- and off-road bike lanes, sidewalks, multi-use paths and trails and public transit well-connected and coordinated.

Complete Streets will make Burlington more walkable and bikeable, support investments in transit, foster social engagement and community pride, support the local economy and property values, and improve the livability and long‐term sustainability of our region. Burlington will be a better place to live and work, realizing long‐term savings from improved public health and safety, environmental stewardship, social mobility and transportation equity.

Speaking of transit, we are expecting full implementation of our transit intelligent transportation system within the next few months. This includes a website, trip planning function, real-time information and stop announcements.

Creating walkable neighbourhoods directly relates to a City that Moves and a City That Grows.

Noted American urban planner Jeff Speck notes that a walk has to satisfy four main conditions: it must be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.

When I ask people what they like most about living downtown, they respond it is they can walk everywhere. That is one of the reasons Councillor Marianne Meed Ward says she enjoys living downtown.

Just as Councillor Meed Ward walks to work every day, we want to develop more neighbourhoods across the city where people have that same opportunity.

Mobility hubs offer significant potential for intensification and walkability.

These are places of connectivity where different modes of transportation – from walking to commuter rail – come together seamlessly.

There are currently 3,500 customers using the Burlington GO station on a weekday. The addition of more than 900 residential units further transforms the site into a walk-friendly, cycle-friendly, transit-friendly neighbourhood that also includes office and retail. GO customers can look forward to 15-minute service on an electrified Lakeshore West GO line within the next decade.

This type of development also gives first-time homebuyers, especially young professionals, a chance to enter the real estate market, as well as those looking to downsize, units at a good price.

A Healthy and Greener City

A Healthy and Greener City is one in which the City of Burlington is a leader in the stewardship of the environment while encouraging healthy lifestyles.

In this area, I believe we are ahead of other municipalities with our Community Energy Plan, as well as our vast array of parks, recreation facilities and programming.

According to the respondents of our online survey about the draft Strategic Plan, a Healthy and Greener City was ranked as the most important of the four key directions.

Our health is one of our greatest assets.

Last week, NASA confirmed 2015 was Earth’s warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. While last saw a major El Niño weather system, this dubious milestone was largely driven by climate change. Fifteen of the top 16 warmest years have occurred since the year 2000.

Healthy Lifestyles

Going back to Brent Toderian’s comments, the potential advantage of creating more density is making walking, biking and transit more appealing, which fosters improved public health.

Healthy living in Burlington is supported by a well-planned city with walkable neighbourhoods featuring good access to parks and recreation facilities.

The Mayor calls this the

Hundreds walk this park right out to the canal boundary every day.

We will ensure every resident lives within a short distance of parks or recreational spaces, creating multi-use parks and green space, and supporting the Bruce Trail. The city’s approximate 50-50 split between rural and urban settings has positioned us as a city rich in outdoor recreational space.

Good programming at top-level recreational facilities also promotes healthy living. Last January, for example, we opened a revitalized Mountainside Recreation Centre, which features an arena, outdoor pool and community space. This centre has become a draw for young people at the weekly No Socks for Ivan drop-in, with an upwards of 200 youth and teens coming weekly.

Councillor John Taylor was a staunch advocate in the revitalization of this recreation centre, and I know the community is grateful for his role in its transformation.

Late last year, City Council also approved a rebuild of Nelson Pool at a cost of approximately $5 million. The updated facility is scheduled to open in 2018, possibly earlier if construction goes well.

Related to a Healthy City and An Engaging City, a new initiative created by the City of Burlington that I am particularly excited about this winter is the neighbourhood rink program. Sixteen parks will feature 18 neighbourhood rinks for the 2015-16 winter season. This supports our parks and recreation mantra: Live and Play Every Day.

The rink program was inspired by Seattle community builder Jim Diers, who worked with our staff on neighbourhood power.

Inspired by Jim’s work, City Council approved $80,000 for community investment. This funding will support residents and groups of neighbours in enhancing city space by adding a park feature, creating an event or starting a new program.

Burlington is also one of 45 communities across Ontario taking part in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge. The City will receive up to $1.1 million in one-time funding from the Province between April 2015 to March 2018 to promote children’s health through physical activity and healthy eating.

Healthy living is also connected to good community health care. The City of Burlington has committed $60 million to the redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital. This is the city’s largest investment in a non-city facility in the history of our community.

Groundbreaking took place in March 2015 for the redevelopment and expansion project’s second phase: a new seven-storey patient care tower.

When construction of the tower is complete in 2017 Joseph Brant Hospital will feature 172 acute inpatient beds, a new emergency department, a larger cancer clinic, nine new operating rooms, expanded medical, surgical and outpatient services, and much more.

Brant hospital - part of 4th floor

Joseph Brant Hospital getting close to topping off. Will open in 2018

Joseph Brant Hospital treats more than 250,000 patients each year. The hospital opened in 1961, but has not had a major renovation since 1971.

I want to thank the provincial government for their significant investment that will cover approximately two-thirds of the total cost of the project.

The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation is close to reaching its $60 million contribution. To date, the foundation has raised $48 million thanks, in part, to significant donations in 2015 from the Joyce Foundation, Voortman Cookies (Mr. Harry Voortman) and Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation.

A healthy and greener city encourages sustainable projects. Our community gardens program has been well received by the community and we are looking to continue to grow it.

Burlington City Council appreciates Halton Regional Council’s support of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan. The development of this park will enhance the Region of Halton. The park features a natural sand beach that is part of a unique landform called a Baymouth Bar. It is also home to provincially and regionally rare plant and animal species.

The estimated project cost is more than $51 million. The majority of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park plan will be developed over the next five to ten years. It could take up to twenty to twenty-five years to completely finish the park.

Environmental Leadership

The ongoing implementation and updates of the Community Energy Plan are integral to moving forward as a city on environmental leadership.

This past year, we had a number of accomplishments connected to our Community Energy Plan: Burlington Hydro’s co-gen pilot project, our first electric vehicle charging station on city property and my Inspire Burlington Series/Take Action Burlington event with David Miller from the World Wildlife Fund.

Carpentr House - walking the trail

Citizens walking the trail in the Beachway along what was once a railway line.

We are also in the process of completing phase one of our community energy system feasibility study. The study is looking at opportunities for more efficient and sustainable local generation of thermal energy with electrical generation.

Long-term, we are looking to continue moving forward on environmental leadership through a variety of initiatives, such as city operations that are carbon neutral, increasing our urban forest and tree canopy, and continuing to preserve our rural area.

We continue to be proud partners in the Cootes to Escarpment Eco-Park System. This is a collaboration between ten local government and non-profit organizations to protect, restore and connect more than 9,600 acres of natural lands at the western end of Lake Ontario.

David Suzuki said: “I can’t imagine anything more important than air, water, soil, energy and biodiversity. These are the things that keep us alive.”

An Engaging City

In a city that engages, community members are engaged, empowered, welcomed and well-served by their city. Culture and community activities thrive, creating a positive sense of place, inclusivity and community.

Our vision of an engaged city builds on the foundation we have laid since our Engagement Charter was approved by City Council in 2013.

We created and launched the Get Involved page ( for all things citizen engagement on the city’s new website. This includes our online platforms – Let’s Talk Burlington and Insight Burlington, Get Involved calendar and volunteer opportunities.

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

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

In the past year, we engaged thousands of residents online on a variety of topics, like the Transportation Master Plan, community gardens, Strategic Plan, budget, intensification and parking.

Councillor Paul Sharman’s engagement with the community around the potential redevelopment of Lakeside Plaza is commendable. Last November, more than 300 residents came out to the Lakeside Plaza visioning exercise.


It goes without saying that a major priority for council and staff is balancing increased services and investments with the need for responsible tax rate increases.

The capital budget was approved in December and the operating budget for 2016 was approved this week.

When combined with the Halton Region and the school boards, the overall property tax increase is 2 per cent and that number is inclusive of a 3.14 per cent increase in the city’s portion.

The city increase of 3.14 per cent is broken down as follows:

The base budget increase of 1.28 per cent that is less than the Consumer Price Index.
A 1.44 per cent increase dedicated to the renewal of the city’s infrastructure.
42 per cent to increase service levels in areas such as winter maintenance, bylaw enforcement and storm water management.

The 2016 budget marks the second year the city presented the operating budget in a service based format. Under this approach, business plans are developed for all 37 of the services provided by the city.

We will continue to strive towards annual property tax increases that are responsible to current and future residents, as well as reflect inflationary increases, infrastructure renewal and increased service investments.

Government Partnerships

Building strong relationships with other governments also moves us towards our goals as a city.

Federal infrastructure investment, which we support 100 per cent, is a key priority of the new Trudeau government.

Property taxes in Ontario are the highest in the country, so we also welcome the federal investment in identified priorities around affordable housing, public transit and climate change.

I look forward to working with our Members of Parliament Karina Gould, Pam Damoff and Lisa Raitt on these issues.

Recognizing that municipalities are a provincial responsibility, it is only natural I have regular contact with our Members of Provincial Parliament Eleanor McMahon and Indira Naidoo-Harris on a wide range of issues, including transit and transportation, environment and municipal legislation.

Meanwhile, the cities of Burlington and Hamilton are involved in discussions through our city managers. The two mayors and members of council also meet as the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee to discuss areas of common interest.

It is noteworthy that Burlington and Hamilton’s chambers of commerce are hosting the second annual Bay Area Economic Summit in June.

This term, I have also played a leading role at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I currently serve as the Chair of the Large Urban Caucus and the Chair of the Climate Change Task Force. I am also on the Memorandum of Understanding team, which meets regularly with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and other members of provincial cabinet discussing proposed changes to policy and legislation affecting municipalities.

Public Engagement Through Cultural and Community Activities

As the City of Burlington grows and will continue to do so over the coming decades, we are diversifying. It is essential to foster a Burlington where everyone feels welcome, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Councillor Blair Lancaster represents one of our most culturally diverse wards. She is focused on creating a strong sense of belonging in neighbourhoods in her ward, as well as city-wide through her role on the inclusivity advisory committee.

The ongoing initiative of Burlington groups sponsoring Syrian refugees and the outpouring of support is an example of the embodiment of engagement and inclusivity.

Arts and Culture

Thanks to city investment and the dedication of leaders, boards, staff, and members of the arts and culture community, I believe we are starting to fully realize the tremendous assets we have right here in our city.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre was booked for more than 600 uses last year, with in excess of 100,000 visitors. Based on the recent economic impact study in 2014, the arts centre generates $7.8 million in annual economic activity, with room to grow. It also serves as a world-class venue for many local groups, from our Burlington Teen Tour Band and Symphony on the Bay to Tottering Biped Theatre and Burlington Student Theatre. Suzanne Haines became the centre’s new executive director last year.

The Art Gallery of Burlington saw another good year, with new leadership from Robert Steven as the president and CEO. There were 45,000 visitors to exhibitions, not including visitors from facility rentals. There were also 24 exhibitions in their five gallery spaces in 2015.

Ireland Hse front view

Ireland House – heritage that was saved.

Last year, Burlington Museums connected with a large number of young people, in particular, through its education programming. Almost 5,000 children visited the museums through camps, and school and youth group education programs.

More than 1.1 million people visited Burlington Public Library’s seven branches in 2015. The library loaned out nearly 2 million items last year – the equivalent of each resident in Burlington borrowing 10 to 11 items.

Last year marked a historic moment for the City of Burlington’s Public Art Program when six murals were unveiled by seven local artists at one time in December 2015.

There are also the numerous festivals and events that showcase our city and boost our local economy. Hundreds of thousands of people come from near and far to take in events like the Sound of Music Festival, Canada’s Largest Ribfest, the Children’s Festival and Canada Day.

Arts and culture has been a cornerstone of societies throughout history and they will continue to be so in Burlington as we look to the future. Canadian scientist Steven Pinker said: “There is no society ever discovered in the remotest corner of the world that has not had something that we would consider the arts.”

What do we want Burlington to be in twenty-five years?

We want to be a city that grows, a city that moves, a healthy and greener city and a city that engages.

Let’s work together to make our great city even greater.

State of the city addresses by Mayor Rick Goldring:

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

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The budget debates settled on an increase higher than the accepted rate of inflation - some significant problems on how to manage the costs have become evident.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2016


Is it a good budget?

There are few taxpayers who are happy about the rate of increase over last year – and the 20 year projection calls for more of the same.
While the increase year over year is above the rate of inflation – the numbers have to be looked at carefully – they aren’t going to get much better. The biggest thing that appears to have come out of the budget exercise is a realization on the part of council members that they don’t have a tight enough grip on what they need staff to do.
Council seems to be continually blinded sided by one catastrophe after another.


Repaired at a cost of $380,000 in 2012 – the bridge is going to have to be replaced in the near future.

The Drury Lane Bridge had to be repaired at a cost of $380,000 – that was for a five year patch – the estimated cost of replacing the bridge was something in excess of $2 million – which comes due any day now.

The Nelson Pool had to be closed because of problems with the steel structure and is now not going to be re-built and repaired until sometime in 2018.

The families with children that make use of the Nelson Stadium took matters into their own hands and began working with the school board to upgrade the facilities. The Stadium is on property owned by the city and the school board – two organizations who are not known for how well they get along with each other. They don’t even have a structure that has them meeting regularly to resolve shared concerns.

When a citizen’s delegation spoke at city hall they knew more about what was happening than members of council. That was not a pretty picture.
Council members expect staff to do the ongoing analysis that tells when an asset is due for an upgrade.

How did the city not know that the Drury Lane bridge needed work and how did staff did not know that the Nelson Pool was due for a major upgrade. There is asset management software out there that works all this out – and Burlington spends a fortune on software.

Do we have the right people managing this software and the way it is utilized?

Flood Fairview plaza

The one thing we know about the 2014 flood is that it has cost us a small fortune – think in terms of $40 million so far. We also know that climate change is likely to cost us even more in the years ahead.

Managing the financial cost of the 2014 flood and coming to terms with what has to be done in the way of storm water management had $20 million thrown at it. Council has realized that it is going to take an additional $20 million to make the changes that were recommended by the consultants the city hired.

Storm water - flood mitigation map

The scary word in this graph is “initially” It will probably take an additional tax levy to handle storm water.

The Mayor commented that the city was going to have to take a serious look at a special tax levy for managing storm water. The realization that climate change is upon us and we no longer know what our weather is going to be – here we are at the end of January and you could be wearing shorts on some days.

As for city hall and the media people over there – they are doing it again. Messing with the numbers – and totally trashing there commitment to transparency and accountability.

The city’s media release said:
“The City of Burlington has approved the 2016 operating budget with a 3.14 per cent increase in the city’s portion of property taxes, which will result in an overall property tax increase of two per cent when combined with Halton Region and the boards of education, or $17.10 per $100,000 of home assessment value.
Highlights of the approved budget include:

• The base budget increase of 1.28 per cent is aligned with inflation (Toronto CPI 1.86 per cent) which is consistent with the Long Term Financial Plan objective of competitive property taxes.

• The base budget maintains the $4.8 million contribution towards the Joseph Brant Hospital reserve fund to meet the city’s $60 million commitment to the redevelopment project.

A 1.44 per cent increase dedicated to the renewal of the city’s infrastructure.

An additional $20 million in funding has been provided to accelerate roadway renewal needs over the next four years.

An additional $20 million of funding has been provided over the next 10 years for surface water drainage projects.

$613K in funding (0.43 per cent) to increase service levels in areas such as winter maintenance and stormwater management.

For those that qualify, the Senior’s Property Tax Rebate has increased from $450 to $525 in this budget.
“There are many competing demands for city tax dollars as well as an urgency to find inefficiencies and minimize tax rate increases,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “We have tried to balance all the city’s needs, prioritize them and forecast with great thought and care to deliver a responsible budget that serves everyone.”

“This budget continues to provide funding to priority areas of infrastructure renewal, the city’s contribution to the hospital redevelopment and maintaining existing services,” said Joan Ford, director of finance. “In key areas, service levels have been increased.”

That’s their story and they are probably going to stick to it.

You won’t get another viewpoint on the budget – the print newspaper distributed in this city didn’t have a reporter at the meeting. My colleague Joan Little who writes a column for the Spectator will undoubtedly make a comment.

Financial impact 20 year

Is this an acceptable rate of tax increases? Does this Council think it can get re-elected in 2018 with these numbers?

Take a look at that 20 year projection again. Did our city Councillors deliver a good budget?

The Mayor has asked the city manager to look for new revenue sources.  Until he has a much better handle on how to manage the problems he has on his table now there isn’t much James Ridge is going to be able to do in the immediate future.\

He needs to get his strategic plan passed – it is close to a year overdue.

Can the current Council provide him with the advice and direction he needs?  Two of the seven members have been on Council for more than 20 years.  Will they run again in 2018?  Will their constituents re-elect them?

2017 is going to be an uncomfortable year for this council.

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Mayor interrupts delegation - says he was straying from the topic under discussion. So much for encouraging people to take part in the civic process.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 26th, 2016


It was his first serious delegation, one at which he had a concern he wanted to put before city council.

Vince Fiorito, a candidate in the last federal election and a committed environmentalist who spends some of his weekends clearing out rubbish from the city’s creeks, had announced to friends that he was planning on running for city council in his home ward in 2018.

His intention was to spend the next couple of years attending meetings and networking like crazy.

Vince Fitorio

Vince Fiorito was named the Watershed Steward for Sheldon creek. He now wants to become the member of city council for the ward he lives in – Sheldon Creek runs right through the middle of it.

Fiorito is the Steward of Sheldon Creek, a title given him by the Conservation Authority, something he takes very seriously.

His delegation to city council was to focus on what he felt was very poor citizen engagement and he launched into his presentation. Less than 18% of the people in this city know about the ways they can be engaged in the civic process he said.

The city treasurer said she was going to inform citizens about the budget but would not be engaging them, advised Fiorito.

He explained that while he as new to the ways of city hall he expected more public participation.

It was at that point that Mayor Goldring interrupted Fiorito and explained that while he could talk about civic engagement he had to confine his remarks to how civic engagement related to the budget that council was considering.

We recall the Mayor interrupting delegations in the past but never on such a fine point,

Fiorito thought he was going to be able to talk about his concerns over the poor level of citizen engagement – the Mayor advised him that he could talk about his citizen engagement but only as it pertained to the budget – which was limiting what Fiorito had planned – but he recovered and went on to make his point – which was that the public really wasn’t in the room when the budget was being discussed

Fiorito was taken aback at first. His first comment was “Gee whiz” as he fumbled a bit to figure out how he was going to get back on track.

He did pretty well – pointing out to council that Seattle had held 38 neighbourhood meetings and involved 30,000 citizens.

This was the kind of thing he wanted to see happen in Burlington.

He also pointed out that there were no evening sessions in the committee meetings that went through the budget in detail.

The Clerk informed Fiorito that there was a planned evening session but no one asked to be a delegate.

Most of the council members hold meetings in their wards to get local input. A couple of Ward 4 residents discuss a previous budget.

Most of the council members hold meetings in their wards to get local input. A couple of Ward 4 residents discuss a previous budget.

Councillor Dennison told Fiorito that he held a budget meeting for ward 4 residents and it attracted more people than the city meeting held at Tansley Woods. Dennison serves water and popcorn – that must be the attraction.

Councillor Meed Ward explained to Fiorito that many people send email to council members directly and questions are answered.

She and the Mayor asked for a link to the Seattle procedures.

There was to be a second delegation from Robert Lovell who had planned on talking about the need for the Free Monday transit for seniors – but he decided not to speak.
Was Lovell spooked by the way Fiorito was cut off by the Mayor?

Was it necessary for the Mayor to interrupt Fiorito? We have heard others go much further off track than Fiorito did without being interrupted.

What was most disappointing was while Fiorito had strayed – this was his first delegation and the Mayor could have cut him some slack.  Mayor Goldring did approach Fiorito after the meeting and apologized for having to interrupt and did invite him to meet with the Mayor and discuss his concerns.

What was disappointing as well was that the Mayor could have said that Burlington had some distance to go to pull in stronger citizen participation.

Those that might have watched the live broadcast will probably have concluded that delegating and getting shot down was not something they needed to experience.

Meed Ward as a delegation

Vince Fiorito, delegating for the first time at a city council meeting brought back visions of the days when Councillor Meed Ward used to delegate and press council on better transparency and more accountability.

Fiorito is cut from a different cloth. We saw traces of the original Marianne Meed Ward who delegated several dozen times pressing council to be more transparent and accountable before she was elected to office. And she began her climb to those august chambers several years before the 2010 election.

Fiorito seems to have decided to use the same approach. He will be worth watching. And don’t expect him to get tripped up again by the Mayor.


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Ontario Creating New Enforcement Team to Combat Contraband Tobacco: they want the tax money.

Crime 100By Staff

January 25th, 2016


Ontario is taking action to combat contraband tobacco and keep our communities safe by creating a new Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team within the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Located within the OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, the new team will be dedicated to investigating the smuggling and trafficking of contraband tobacco and will work closely with local, provincial, national and international enforcement agencies to combat and eliminate sophisticated contraband tobacco networks across Ontario.

cigarettes - illegal

There are very few young men in high school who cannot tell you where to buy illegal cigarettes.

The team will also work with the Ministry of Finance’s tobacco tax enforcement staff by sharing information and collaborating on contraband tobacco enforcement investigations. The Ministry of Finance will continue to provide tobacco enforcement through audits, inspections, and investigations.
Tobacco consumers should be aware that:

All legal cigarettes sold in cartons or packages have a legal yellow ‘ON Duty Paid Canada’ Ontario tobacco stamp, with only certain limited exceptions.
It is illegal to buy, possess or distribute untaxed cigarettes without proper authorization.

Punishment includes civil penalties, fines, and in some cases, jail time, depending on the quantity of contraband tobacco and conviction history.
Addressing contraband tobacco continues to be a priority for Ontario. Low-cost, contraband tobacco undermines provincial health objectives under the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, results in less tobacco tax revenues for critical public services our communities and families rely on, and compromises public safety through links with organized crime.

Cigaettes - with Toronto cop

Gary Grant is the national spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco. He is also a decorated retired police officer with the Toronto Police Service and current director and founder of Toronto Crime Stoppers.

Since 2008 more than 252 million contraband cigarettes, 4.1 million untaxed cigars, and 169 million grams of untaxed fine-cut or other tobacco products have been seized by the Ministry of Finance.

The RCMP estimates that 175 criminal organizations are involved in contraband tobacco in Canada, and it is believed that many use it to finance more serious illegal activity, like drug and weapon trafficking.

Being caught in possession of a single pack of 20 contraband cigarettes will cost the purchaser $108.The fine for 50 cartons or baggies is $4,693 and possession of any more could send you to jail.

Anyone can anonymously report cigarettes being sold illegally, to Ontario Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or online at TipSoft.

The provincial government seems to be more interested in stopping the sale of cigarettes on which they cannot collect taxes.

Cigarette advertising

If doctors said they were OK – then they had to be – right? Those same doctors then earned fees for trying to cure the lung cancer.

After years of allowing the sale of a product that has had a devastating impact on the health of people who decided to smoke the province increased the taxes which created an opportunity for the criminal community to move in and sell cheap cigarettes.

cigarette advertising chesterfield-reagan

This dashing young man went on to become the President of the United state – don’t recall him every saying his promoting tobacco was something he regretted.

The advertising and marketing community earned very fat fees for coming up with advertisements that convinced us smoking was cool, hip and the thing to do – and we still have tens of thousands of people who are still smoking. Those same advertising people have not managed to come up with advertisements that change the behaviour.

There are a whole bunch of conflicting purposes and agendas here – and I think the young people see it for what it is – hypocritical.


Related article:

Top cop rolls into town in a limo to tell media about the ills of illegal tobacco.

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Can the Mayor and the two Councillors who voted for the Free Monday transit for seniors find a fourth vote to make the basically no cost pilot take place?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 22, 2016


It’s called being between a rock and a hard place, The rules will ‘get ya’ every time.

Your city council and the staff at city hall will say, whenever they get the chance, that they are always transparent and always accountable and that they are there to serve the people of the city.

The words “citizen engagement” are sprinkled throughout the Strategic Plan that is working its way through the bureaucracy.

Look at this situation and see if you can find the transparency or the accountability or even a smidgen of citizen engagement.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data.

Burlington has a very good finance department; some of the most diligent people on the city payroll work in that department. They usually always have their fingers on whatever number a member of council might want. Whenever Treasurer Joan Ford doesn’t have a number at her finger tips or makes a small mistake she actually blushes with embarrassment and correct the error very quickly.

Our only beef is that the finance people are not particularly interested in engaging the citizens of the city – they are interested, and are very good at informing the public. These are two different approaches to civic government.

But that is not the current issue. The finance people set an aggressive agenda to get the 2016 budget completed. Debates on the budget take place within a Standing Committee.

Staff set out several days for the process of budget delegations and debate to take place.
Tuesday, January 19th: 10:30 to 6:30 – the meeting ended just after 4:30 pm
Wednesday January 20th: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Thursday January 21st: 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. This meeting did not take place; the Standing Committee was able to adjourn at 4:00 on the Wednesday when they set they recommended a tax increase of 3.16%

Delegations were held on the Tuesday during the day. For some reason they saw no reason to hold evening sessions- why not?

Why wasn’t there more in the way of public notices – the Gazette would have cheerfully run an advertisement for the city had they chosen to use our medium – which gives better value than any other media in the city – but I digress.

The delegations were strong, factual and well delivered and members of council certainly engaged those who were on hand to speak.

The Council debate took place the following day – the Gazette and the Spectator were the only media present.

It was a good debate – we saw some staff behave in a very disrespectful manner when a member of council put forward some data that was supplied by Oakville on their Free Monday for seniors program. A city Director came very close to saying he didn’t believe the numbers read out to him from the Oakville Director of transit. Our city manager, a former Canadian Armed Forces Captain, knows what insubordination is, quite why he didn’t intercede is a question he might want to answer.

When it came to a vote – those wanting the Free Monday transit for seniors lost on a 4 against – 3 for vote.

Councillor Craven is reported to have told an Aldershot resident that he liked the program – but he did not vote for it – that may have been because almost anything Councillor Meed Ward puts forward, Craven opposes. He didn’t speak at any length on the matter during the debate.

Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Paul Sharman voted no – he wanted more data.

Councillor Sharman always wants more data before he makes a decision – there does come a point when a decision has to be made based on experience and wisdom. There was the sense that the asking for additional data was punting the ball off the field.


Councillor John Taylor – he voted no – saw free transit as social welfare which most people didn’t need.

Councillor Taylor couldn’t help but see Free transit as some form of social welfare; his mind is still stuck in that old style thinking.

One wonders why Taylor does not label the $225,000 that is forgone in terms of parking fees for the free parking members of staff get every year. With that kind of money the city could make the transit service free to everyone.

Votes can be changed at city council; members can change their mind when they have new information.

But here is the rub. If council votes a second time on the budget matter of free transit for seniors on Monday’s and the vote is lost a second time – it cannot be brought back to council again for the balance of the term of office of this council – two and half years, unless the motion is brought by one of the people who originally voted against the motion – and that vote must pass with a 5-2 for vote just to get it on the table.

That is a high hill to have to climb and would make anyone who wanted to attempt to have the vote over turned at council think twice. Forcing the vote kills the opportunity for the balance of this term of office – which we suspect is exactly what some of the Councillors wanted.

A wiser mind would get into discussions with any member of Council they thought could be swayed – and if the votes were not there – then go to ground and wait for the right opportunity.

There is nothing to prevent council from asking the transit people to prepare the document that would set out what the metrics would be to measure a successful pilot program.

At one point Director of Transit said he could have the document done in a day – when pressed a bit he said he would need a couple of weeks.

Transit Director Mike Spicer, in the yellow shirt, shows Mayor Goldring what he wants in the way of new buses. The MAyor and council obliged and gave Spicer the go ahead to buy smaller buses.

Transit Director Mike Spicer, in the yellow shirt, shows Mayor Goldring what he wants in the way of new buses.

The pilot program wasn’t due to start until April – so Mike Spicer, the Director of Transit has all kind of time to prepare a report – he might use some of that time to meet with his peer in Oakville and learn just how they made their program work.

There is a sliver of hope for the program. Mayor Goldring suggested that the transit people might want to use the pilot project as a marketing initiative – their response to that was they already had a number of marketing programs.

And how well are they working ? is a question the Mayor might have reasonably asked.

Rick Goldring doesn’t yet fully understand what it is to be a Mayor – as the Chief Magistrate he has a “bully pulpit” which he hasn’t learned to use. He could have and should have asked the Director of Transit to re-think his response and then invite the City Manager and the Director in for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Flood Goldring with chain of office

Mayor Rick Goldring on one of the few occasions that he wore his chain of office during an interview.

During the debate James Ridge, City Manager, wouldn’t touch the question. He said – and he right – “this is a political decision.”

That chain of Office the Mayor wears isn’t just a piece of bling. It is a symbol of the office he holds and the authority given him.

There was an opportunity to do something bold, something visionary and, in the words of Jim Young, a chance to show Burlington as a caring, conscientious community.

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He got himself onto the Performing Arts Centre stage - where a crowd of friends listened to him sing.

By Pepper Parr
January 22, 2016

A funeral at a Performing Arts Centre? Well first it wasn’t a funeral – it was a celebration of the life of Thomas  Sutherland – everyone in the theatre knew him as Tom.

It wasn’t a sold out event but it was better than many of the events for which tickets are sold.

A good 450+ were in their seats to listen to people who loved Tom dearly and wanted to talk about him before his passing in a very sudden death that no one was ready for begins to be forgotten.

His children Kirsten, Derrick and Matthew were there as were his grandchildren: Noel, Gavin, Oland and Jamie.

Walter Mulkewich asked the audience to “grieve the loss of a good man”.

Tom Sutherland at an arts event

The arts were a big part of Tom’s life – he was an active supporter of the Performing Arts Centre and what was the Burlington Cultural Centre when he first got involved.

I didn’t know Tom all that well – we would cross paths – we were both big L liberals and believed in the cause.

I last saw Tom at the Liberal Christmas Party at the Polish Hall. He was his usual loquacious self. I sort of knew he sang but wasn’t fully aware of the roll music played in his life.

That evening he sang and had MPP Eleanor McMahon joining her voice with his. I thought at the time – we are going to hear more of these two. McMahon likes to ham it up and, if one was to believe all that was said at the celebration of Tom’s life this afternoon – Tom was a born arm twister, could sell ice cubes to Eskimos and encyclopedia’s to people who didn’t know they really needed a set of the books until Tom got in front of them.

He sold the Spectator on the corner of King and James in Hamilton when he was a couple of sizes above a sprout – and as his sister told that story you could almost hear him calling out: Extra, Extra – real all about it in the Spectator. There was a time when that was the way newspapers were sold.

Tom did it all –and he did it his way. He loved to take the Frank Sinatra songs and sing his heart out. During the video that was played on Tom with all kinds of pictures there was his voice. I found myself asking if that was Tom or Frank himself.


Was he singing or was he giving a speech? For Tom Sutherland they were one in the same – he did prefer the singing.

The remarks made by the several people who spoke were more political than I expected and were, I suspect, a significant change for Burlington. The Liberals have only held the two seats for just over a year.

Tom ran federally again Bill Kempling in 1978 and again in 1980; he was the kind of guy who couldn’t pass up on an election campaign. Both MPP McMahon and MP Gould spoke entertainingly about their door to door experiences with the man.

One of the highlights of Tom’s personal political career was the occasion he got to introduce then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

He was clearly loved and treasured – he was a one of 11 children – with five of his brothers passing before him.

His sister Loretta spoke of the occasions when the family would be at the pier on the Beach in Burlington – no not the one we paid $14 million for – one of the wooden structures that were a part of the city we have forgotten about. But the Sutherland family hasn’t forgotten those days.

For a family of 11 – it was as if they were a small tribe – they cared for each other; the love was the glue that kept them all together; it was so evident in the pictures that were shown on the screen at the Performing Arts Centre on a Friday afternoon when several hundred people paused in their busy day to Thomas  Sutherland.

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Aldershot citizen speaks in favour of free transit on Monday. for seniors - council vote no.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

January 21st, 2016


I am speaking as a private citizen in support of Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee’s effort to reduce or eliminate Transit Fares for Burlington Senior Citizens.  A proposal has been made that City Council and Burlington Transit consider Reduced Transit Fares for Seniors.

In support of, and in addition to the well-made case presented by Mr. Lovell on behalf of Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee, I would respectfully submit to Council and the Budget Committee that Seniors Transit is not just a senior’s issue but is one that affects the entire city, its residents and its reputation as a caring, conscientious community. An issue, which, if addressed effectively, will have beneficial impacts on Traffic Congestion, Road Safety, The Environment and will dovetail perfectly with many aspects of Burlington’s Strategic Plan Proposals currently under review.

As Burlington’s senior’s population approaches 30,000 and continues to grow, it is fair to say our impact on every facet of our city’s way of life is and will continue to be significant.

Jim Young

Jim Young

Seniors Impact on Burlington’s Traffic Congestion:
There is universal agreement that traffic congestion is becoming a more serious issue in Burlington every year. As council strives to encourage continued growth and increasing population to ensure the economic well-being of our city this congestion will only become more troublesome and the economic and the environmental impact more acute. City Council recognizes this and addresses the issue in its Proposed New Strategic Plan (A City That Moves).

Seniors using affordable transit for one in five of their journeys would reduce traffic congestion by approximately 3%. While that may not sound like much, traffic flow science suggests such a reduction has a major impact on traffic flow and reduced commute times particularly at peak volumes. The more attractive any incentive to switch seniors from cars to transit, the greater that improvement will be. More seniors on transit allows working people, business transport and goods to move more efficiently, improving productivity, and supporting the vibrant business environment our city strives to encourage in that Strategic Plan.

Road Safety:
Studies indicate that as we age our cognitive abilities and response times deteriorate resulting in higher levels of traffic accidents, injuries and claims for senior drivers. The safety of senior drivers and their impact on accident rates is an emotionally charged subject we are loath to address for fear offending spouses, parents or potential voters.
Reduced transit costs for seniors would alleviate that burden by providing a dignified and affordable alternative to driving; thereby reducing the risks with all the human and monetary costs involved for their families, the city, traffic authorities and emergency services.

Reducing traffic accidents by moving seniors from automobiles to transit would also go a long way to meeting the city’s Age Friendly City and a Safe Place to Live objectives of its Proposed New Strategic Plan.

Jim Young A

Jim Young

The Environment:
Thirty Thousand Burlington Seniors driving an average of 15,000 Kilometers per year, even allowing for some spousal car sharing, emit 105,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Every car taken off the road by affordable transit for seniors reduces this annual amount by 3.5 tons.

Again, the Proposed New Strategic Plan aims to make Burlington a Greener Place to Live: an admirable objective for our city that we can help achieve by switching seniors from automobiles to transit and reducing our carbon footprint.

Jim Young has lived in Burlington for more than 30 years where he raised his family and involved himself in his community. He still has a pleasantly strong brogue accent.  This opinion pice is a delegation he made during the budget deliberations at city hall.

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