A transit vision for Burlington. It’s in the Strategic Plan and may not get beyond that document.

By Doug Brown

BURLINGTON, ON March 7, 2012  There are five parts to the vision that Doug Brown, probably the best informed citizen on transit matters the city has, which he sets out below.

Every citizen would have access to good transit service. This means that everyone would be within a short walk of a bus stop, and that Burlington’s bus routes and schedules would enable everyone to get to their destination in a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable cost.

That transit along with walking, cycling, and other active modes of transportation become the favoured modes of travel thus reducing car traffic resulting in reduced expenditures on parking and roads, and less traffic accidents, cleaner air, and a healthier community.

While reaching this state will involve some public investment in improving our transit system, it will lead to significant savings in public expenditures on roads (Halton Region has approved over $2 Billion on road expenditures over the next 20 years); and additional parking spaces (at an average cost of $30,000 per space).


Doug Brown wants an affordable, frequent, reliable transit service. Is the city prepared to pay for it?

My vision is that we become a caring and inclusive city that provides good transit for those that are very dependent on the system. This includes the young and the old, the disabled, and those that cannot afford the high cost of car ownership.  Currently, the City of Burlington spends considerably less on transit per capita than other communities of its size. This is true not just for conventional transit – but for handi-van service as well.  Underfunding has led to lower service levels and consequently lower ridership. Burlington citizens, who are dependent on transit, or want to use transit, deserve at least the same service levels as other communities.

My vision is already largely set out in Burlington’s principle planning  documents. Our Official Plan requires that Burlington quadruple its transit use by 2030 in order that we can accommodate further growth through intensification.

 Our Strategic Plan calls for an “increase the number of people who cycle, walk and use public transit for recreation and transportation. What will it look like?
 – There are fewer cars on the road because more people are using public transit, walking or cycling” The Strategic Plan’s expected results include “a common vision and co-ordinated plan to decrease reliance on vehicles; public awareness of, and support for, the vision; and “more people are using public transit, walking or cycling”

 The Strategic Plan sets out the following expectations for the current Transit Master Plan update:
– improved transit service
– more use of Burlington Transit
– better mobility in and out of the city

 We have adopted the vision in words – let’s now take the action needed to transform our city.

Editors Note:  And that of course is where the rub is.  The city has not and will not “walk its talk”









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The party or the person ? Burlington gets to look at how they have voted in the past. Will old habits change ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 4, 2011 –  This is the part of the week you get to think about who you are going to vote for.  On Thursday when you go to the polls, you get to act on the decision you make.

Let’s talk about the thinking you are going to do.  Will you vote for the party or the person ?  If you decide at this point that you will vote for the party no matter what – well then you’re some kind of an idiot or at best an irresponsible citizen.

Political parties, like any other organization, have to be held accountable by both the voters and the members of that political party.  It is irresponsible to vote for a party because you have always voted for them.  Paddy Torsney, the former Liberal member of parliament for Burlington learned the hard way what voters do with a political party they no longer trust.

Most people, once they`ve thought about it, find a political party that reflects their views on the way society should be ordered.  And if you`re at all active in your community you support that party with a financial contribution and perhaps take a lawn sign.

And should the party you support deviate from its core principles, a sensible, rationale person would withdraw their support.  If the local political party association forgets what its job is and puts forward an unqualified candidate the rationale human being would withdraw their support. There are occasions when the party is critically important.  Is that the case today in Burlington.  This city has elected conservatives since 1943 – and what does the city have to show for that support.  Certainly not a hospital and the conservatives are talking about significant changes to the geography of the northern part of the city.

The hospital we have is in desperate need of an upgrade and it needs much better funding.  One floor of the hospital isn`t even open – because the President of the hospital can`t get the funding he needs to open up the beds on the floor of the hospital that is closed.  The current member and the member before her didn`t do all that much for the hospital.  The hospital got so run down and so difficult to keep clean that it had a serious C.difficile outbreak that resulted in the loss of more than 90 lives.  That kind of funding failure in any community is criminal.

If the member of the Legislature or the House of Commons cannot deliver for the community then you might want to look for a person who can deliver.  A member who sits in the opposition seats isn`t exactly a cripple – they have a telephone and they can make phone calls and badger the bureaucrats until they do something for you.

While being part of the government certainly has its advantages – it doesn`t solve all the problems.  What a community needs is a member of the Legislature or the House of Commons who understands the community, cares about the community and has the smarts to get the job done.

Running for city council and winning a seat at that level is usually part of the job training that a person goes through as they progress through the ranks.  Nothing wrong with that.  Having someone who is immersed in politics is a plus for a community.  The person believes and loves the job – and it is people like that who deliver for the community.

Is it the person or the party ?  You always have that choice.  And right now Burlington has two very good choices if you take the view that the person matters.  If you take the view that the party is what really matters – then you have a choice for a candidate that will have a very long learning curve and there is no assurance at all that the candidate has the capacity to make it through that curve.

The party or the person?


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Getting down to the short strokes. Candidates to square off at two events giving us a chance to see what they can do.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 24, 2011  Well the candidates know there is going to be an election of October 6th and the people working with them are out there beavering away but that is just about the extent of it.

Peggy Russell, the NDP candidate is doing what many politicians do – let themselves believe what really isn’t possible.   The commitment needed to get into politics and run for office has to be so strong that at times it overcomes you and reality gets away.

There is not going to be an orange wave in Ontario and certainly not in Burlington.  What Peggy Russell will do, hopefully, is sharpen things up at the two major debates that are to take place this week.  She is a tough debater and while the people who put on the events don’t really allow true debate – they see themselves as a little too polite for the tough questions, the thrust and the parry of debate that brings out who a candidate really is and what they really think and believe.

Go back to the 1984 “I had no option” debate between John Turner and Brian Mulroney to understand how vital real debate can be.

The Chamber of Commerce cheats the community when they spurn real debate and limit the event to moderated questions and answers.  It’s part of the ‘coziness’ that is a part of Burlington.

It will however not be easy to limit Russell and her direct style.

Jane McKenna is being shepherded and supported by Keith Strong and I suspect a lot of time is being spent on coaching her and preparing her for the all candidate events.  She has to show up at these two events – there is just no getting out of that.  So far she has skipped the all candidate events.  We will see if she has a handle on the issues and has developed enough as a politician to take a seat at Queen’s Park.  If the Progressive Conservative Association had not dithered for so long in finding a replacement for Joyce Savoline and chosen McKenna a year ago – it just might have been possible to get her to the point where she could handle herself and not clutch the PC Change Book to her chest and hope that the words in the book will get her though it all.  It will be interesting to see how she does.

The PC Association has a lot of explaining to do.  Bert Radfordd sould do what he forced Rene Papin to do – which was fall on his sword and back out of the nomination race.  Time for Radfordd to find another occupation

If they lose the riding – and that is within the realm of possibility – they will have four years to rebuild.  Perhaps in that period of time Brian Heagle can convince them that his blood is truly blue.

Speaking of Heagle – he makes a very good point on his Facebook page with the following data: while “ it’s completely unscientific and not equivalent to polls or even lawn signs – the  “Likes” for each Burlington candidate’s Facebook page are close right now: Liberal=129; PC=118; NDP=114.

Once this interesting bit of analysis by Heagle is out expect the political parties to rush to those Facebook pages and flood them with “Likes” which will make the data Heagle gleaned the best we are going to get from that source.  Interesting though.

Karmel Sakran kept himself busy with two press conferences at which he huffed about the terrible things Hudak would do to the province if  he were to form a government.  Hudak shut down the one issue – hospital funding – by releasing a statement that said he would ensure the hospital was funded if he formed a government.  In the meantime the city of Burlington and the hospitals Foundation are going to have to carry the load.

Sakran is the more accomplished speaker – comes from being a lawyer.  However, Russell has put him off his stride at previous candidate events.  He will need to stay focused and on point – something he should be able to do.

It is interesting to note that the Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates are sticking pretty close to what their leaders have to say rather than saying very much about how they would advocate for Burlington.  What kind of an MPP does Sakran want to be and what kind of MPP does McKenna want to be?  It is pretty clear where Russell is coming from – she will listen to the party line but if she doesn’t like what it is – she won’t support it.  That is not to suggest Russell isn’t a team player – more to the point – she is an independent thinker.

McKenna doesn’t appear to have a clue as to what Queen’s Park is all about but she learns quickly and one can assume that if she wins, that Joyce Savoline, the retiring MPP, will be available to coach her.

Sakran understands what Queen’s Park is all about and he could, at some point, make it into the Cabinet – but a lot of that huffiness will have to go first.  As a lawyer he has more than enough friends to steer him around the place.  The procedures will come naturally to him.

What we don’t know about either McKenna or Sakran is what they are going to do for the community?  Will they toe the party line or will they be advocates for Burlington?

The most recent polls indicate that there is a very, very tight race with the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat.  That leads to talk of a minority government and we hear party leaders saying what they would and would not do if they had to team up with someone else to form a government.  When Andrea Horwath said she would talk to any party about forming a government she must have shaken her supporters to their very roots – the idea of the NDP supporting a PC party so that the Progressive Conservatives could form a government must have Walter Mulkewich, former Mayor of Burlington and head of the NDP fund raising committee,  tossing and turning in his sleep.

Turnout for the Chamber of Commerce Event and that being put on by the Canadian Federation of University Woman are the best chance this city has to see and hear the candidates.  Seats will be at a premium – and no walks ins for the Chamber event.

We are indebted to (yes it happens) Ward 2 councilor Marianne Meed Ward for the following:

Beat the rush on voting day and vote in the advance polls. Open daily, 10am-8pm now till Sept. 30. Locations in Burlington: 3230 Fairview St, Unit 115; Brant Hills Community Centre, 2255 Brant St; Fortinos, IKEA Plaza, 1059 Plains Rd. E; Good Neighbour Ministries, 5270 New St; St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1382 Ontario St.


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We’ve “finally become what was promised”. Really?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 24, 2011  –  When the lights are turned out and you’re completely in the dark you’re never quite sure where you are going and what you are going to bump into.

We “think” we are doing the right thing – but how do you know.  We got a note from a Ken C who said:  Your ‘newspaper’ is finally becoming what was promised. When will we hear about the long term status of Shaping Burlington?

I want to tell Ken, who is now my very best friend for life and with whom I will become a blood brother when we nick our wrists and swear fealty to each other for the rest of our lives – what is happening with Shape.

Burlington City Hall Staff` will be giving their response to the Shape report at a Council meeting March 8th.  The ”illustrious” Kim Phillips, she being THE General Manager of Corporate Services for the City of Burlington will lay upon us the way staff feel they should respond to the eight recommendations contained in the Shape report. 

If you are not quite sure what illustrious means let me share with you the definition in the dictionary.com – to wit, highly distinguished; renowned; famous: an illustrious leader or, glorious, as deeds or works: many illustrious achievements. Kim’s Mum will like that.

The development of an Engagement Charter, which was one of the Shape recommendations, caught the eye of the United Nations Public Administration Network where the comment was made that –

“The charter would affirm the city’s commitment to reaching out to a diverse population and would explain how to navigate city hall and its services,” said Ken Edwards, a member of Shaping Burlington who also worked on the Shape Burlington report. “The charter would incorporate an early notification system and allow a reasonable amount of time for all participants to understand the steps and develop decisions before decisions are made. Ultimately, the charter would promote active public engagement and meaningful dialogue, which likely will require a culture shift at city hall.”

I’m pretty sure Ken’s family doesn’t know that his remarks are being discussed in the halls of the United Nations.  There must be some kind of a plaque the Mayor can give Ken for putting Burlington on the world map.  We’re not just home of the Burlington Teen Tour Band you know.

While it has taken the city longer to respond to the report than it did for Messrs Boich and Mulkewich did to create the Shape team, research and write the report – that is incidental.  Ms Phillips has consulted widely and after an internal review and some discussion with the Shaping Burlington (that being the group of citizens who wanted to ensure that the Shape report didn’t just gather dust) she will release her findings at the Committee meeting.

It needs to be said that there will not be a reception after the committee meeting, but, depending on the content of the staff report, there will be huzzahs or much wailing and flailing once the contents have been digested.  This is going to be a report that will be worth the paper it is written on.

 So – there you have it Ken.  Stay tuned because you know that Our Burlington will be at the media table in Council chambers covering this event.


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