What will the students bring home with them - and what will they take back to school?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In a couple of weeks the kids will be coming home for the holidays.

I know of at least one student who expects to be on the plane on the 21st arriving from the Maritimes where the virus spread has been pretty limited relative to the rest of the country.

Her brother will be coming home from an Ontario university west of Burlington.

Christmas breakGiven the rules these students will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Count them – December 21st + 14 days gets them to January 2nd or third.

What are the chances of that actually happening ? These are decent people in the process of becoming adults.

They come from good families with parents who are going to want them to do the right thing.

Checking in with friends, getting together for coffee because there is nowhere they are able to scoot off to for a drink is what you do when you are home from school.

This kind of getting caught up doesn’t get done on the telephone but it does get done.

Expecting the rules to be rigidly adhered to is a huge stretch; the outcome will be a rises in the number of infections both in every town in the province and in the communities to which these students return.

Something to think about.

virus data Dec 9

How much higher will that blue line go once the students return to the universities and colleges?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Most Profitable Industries in 2020

opinionred 100x100By Mildred Austria

December 2, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What industries are some of the most profitable in 2020, and how are they achieving this? We took a closer look at three here!

The world of business is filled with so many interesting sectors nowadays, but there are still some that stand heads and shoulders above the rest. Let’s take a look at some of the most profitable industries operating this year.

PAID Money jar succesful bus 2020

Any of the three successful business choices we outline will put cash in that jar on the right.

 

Gaming
Without a doubt, gaming is proving to be one of the biggest industries of the moment. Brands like Mr Green as a prime example are leading the expansion of safe betting and casino options across the USA and Canada. What’s more, there has been a massive boom in e-sports growth.

It is slowly moving from being a niche hobby into a more mainstream business. With that will come bigger sponsorships and more opportunities for people in the industry. The marketplace has so far exceeded $1 billion and this is just set to get bigger. Top matches are also pulling in figures akin to major sports events like a FIFA World Cup Final.

Play Station 5 Sony

Play Station 5

Even in the wider industry there are massive strides forward being made. Sony is lining up to release the PlayStation 5. Though we currently have little idea about when this release will be, it will hopefully be as innovative a release as its previous incarnations. Gaming as a whole is on the rise. Though many dismiss it as “just playing games”, this then leads to them missing out on some of the incredible opportunities available in this exciting development in the gaming universe.

Software Development
As we move towards a world that becomes more and more reliant on technology, we are going to need more software developers to help us achieve our goals. There have been many moves to introduce coding and other digital-based skills to young children in the classroom, so they can begin to pick up things that might help them when they are ready to enter the workplace later in life.

software coder

Software coding skills are going to be in very high demand in the decade ahead.

Not only have there been calls for software that covers a variety of new tasks within a workplace or home, but there have also been calls to make many more multi-purpose software hubs. Business owners don’t want to transfer data between multiple programs to get the results they need. They want to be able to plug everything into the one portal, so that they can get back results that have already been parsed and analysed into a format they understand. Software developers are keen to meet these demands, and it makes for an incredibly profitable industry.

Property
With property prices holding or moving up, there is no better time to be involved in the real-estate business. In the Burlington area alone, sale prices are up 17% compared to the beginning of 2019. There are lots of opportunities at both ends of the market here. Developers who want to focus on the high-end, luxury market will find plenty of things to play with. There are always new property trends and new tech that you can introduce to the right property.

At the other end of the scale, you could choose to work in the affordable housing markets. There is and always will be a need for affordable property. This sector will help to create homes and houses for those who need them the most. Choosing to get involved with this area of the real estate sector is incredibly charitable, and it could result in some brilliant business dealings for anyone brave enough to try.

These are just three of the many industries proving to be profitable in 2020. No matter where you look, there is a way to make money in a sector. It will take a lot of hard work, and a great business idea, but it is more than possible.

Start thinking about a business you could launch in one of the above sectors now.

Ms Austria is a financial observer who has established a reputation for being able to spot growth trends in the Western world.

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Netflix sends a notice to it's Canadian subscribers

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 2, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

OPINION

I got the notice and if you are a Netflix subscriber, I assume you got one as well.

netflix logoJust what did it mean? They were telling us that they have created a new corporate structure to deal with their Canadian clients. Would that be a defensive move to protect them from the Canadian tax system.

That’s my take – what do you think?

Here is what the Netflix notice said:

We wanted to let you know about some updates to Netflix. These won’t affect your experience—continue watching your shows and movies as usual.

On January 1, 2021, your Netflix contracting company will change to Netflix, Inc.‎. This update will be made automatically, with no interruption to your current membership.

We periodically update our legal terms. Please take a moment to read the current Terms of Use and Privacy Statement.

The notice raised my eyebrows but perhaps that is just  my core suspicion showing.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Have we reached the 'enough is enough' on the cannabis stores in the city?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

There are seven LCBO stores in Burlington.

An application for the 17th cannabis retail location has been received; 10 of the applications are operational, five are under review, two, plus the most recent, are out for community comment.

Municipalities were given the option to permit the setting up of retail cannabis stores or to take a pass and not permit cannabis retail locations.

Burlington chose to permit them: it was a 5-2 vote permitting, with Councillors Stolte and Bentivegna against.

The Mayor was a very strong supporter, at times sounding like an advocate.

The other four were inclined to go along.

The Town of  Oakville decided not to permit  cannabis stores.

Many take the view that the commercial locations will fail if there isn’t a customer base creating a demand.

There is certainly a demand for the product – but it isn’t from the people of Burlington.  The folks from Oakville drive over to patronize the Burlington locations.

I am not opposed to the sale of the product – it’s legal – let people buy it.  My concern is why does Burlington have to become the destination for people in communities that don’t have cannabis shops where they live?

We keep hearing the argument that there are those who need the product for medicinal purposes.

Is this what the people of Burlington believe reflects the values of their community?

Is there a point the city might not want to go beyond?

And can city council do anything to perhaps cap the number of locations?

We think it is a question that can and should be asked of City Council.

Are we at that enough is enough point?

Related news story:

Application for 17th cannabis store received by the provincial government.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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One of those top level medical guys used the word 'precarious' to describe the Covid19 situation in Ontario

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It isn’t the best of news.

Two COVID-19 outbreaks at the Joseph Brant hospital.

Climbing numbers within the city and additional deaths.

PHU Nov 27

Data at the close of November 27th.

Shops, supermarkets and hardware stores are pretty busy. I really wish the supermarket I go to would limit the number of people allowed in the store at the same time. Yes it slows things down but it keeps everyone safer.

The future availability of a vaccine doesn’t look all that promising. The predictions are that in Canada we will not see the bulk of the population completely vaccinated until December of 2021.

You can bet that the politicians at the federal and provincial levels will be deemed to be front line workers.  The people working in the hospitals have to be first.

Can we keep on going the way we have had to for another full year? There are some that can’t keep away from their favourite watering hole for more than a couple of weeks.

Canada doesn’t appear to have the manufacturing capacity to make the stuff and bottle it.

Flu shot line up

We had long line-ups for the annual flu shot. It will be much different with the vaccine is available.

We have manufacturing capacity for run of the mill annual flu shots – the vaccine for COVID-19 is a much more complex product requiring equipment we just don’t have.

Worrying for sure.

While going through the Saturday papers I read that the word “precarious” was used by Dr. David Williams to describe the situation we are in – not very reassuring.

And have you noticed that the top people at the federal level are beginning to equivocate somewhat ? Where are they when you really need them?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Very credible citizen points to some sloppy prevention practices at Jo Brant.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

We received a comment recently from a reader that is very disturbing.

We have chosen not to identify the woman but can verify that she is very credible.

Here is what she had to say:

“I had an appointment last week at a nearby medical center. When I arrived, I was told to call the number posted on the door and wait in my car until someone came to find me.

“Once I was escorted inside, my mask was checked, my temperature was taken and I was led to the doctor’s office.  In contrast today, I went to Joseph Brant for a scheduled procedure.

“Entering through the north doors, I found people wandering in and out randomly. The question check was quick, no instructions were given as far as hand sanitizer and I was left to wander the hallways to find the location of the unit I was to visit.

“In my opinion, the hospital must do a better job of screening those who are required to visit this facility in these difficult times.”

The Joseph Brant Hospital has a regrettable history of sloppy prevention practices.  We thought the lesson had been learned.  Time for the hospital Board members to ask some hard and direct questions, and for the Medical Officer of health to visit and underline what this pandemic requires of the medical community.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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An MPP that Chooses to Disagree with Doug Ford is usually moved to a corner seat in the back row of the Legislature

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 18th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Will we soon be known as the peacock province? A province of many colours, political ones that is.

Rumour is that there may be a new provincial party on the horizon, the Blue party. And why not? There is already a Green Party, Liberals have always been identified as reds and the NDP orange.

So what does this mean for the governing Doug Ford provincial Tories? They are supposed to be the blue party, claiming to be descendants from the former premier Bill Davis’ Big Blue Machine. Heck Mr. Ford even started turning our licence plates blue.

Belinda K - booted outof PC caucus

Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalio

But Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios doesn’t think Ford’s crowd is blue enough. She was kicked out of Doug Ford’s caucus last July for refusing to support his Bill 195, the so-called emergency law on COVID. She knew this so-called emergency legislation was just a power grab by Ford so he could ram his retro agenda down our throats.

Being able to act without challenge is every tyrant’s dream. Not that I’d call our PM a tyrant, but Mr. Trudeau tried something similar in Ottawa, only to be stopped by an observant media and an wide-awake opposition party. Not so in Toronto. An Act to enact the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Re-sponse to COVID-19) Act, 2020 allows the government of Premier Doug Ford to extend or amend emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

For Karahalios this was an “unnecessary overreach” taking away “the legislature’s ability to vote on the use of extraordinary emergency powers on Ontarians for the next year… Bill 195 essentially silences every single Ontario MPP on the most important issue facing our legislature today”.

nurse-1950

A government that attempt to stiff nurses usually regrets the decision.

The Nurses Association (ONA) and other labour organizations are upset to say the least. The premier has given himself the power to override existing labour legislation and collective agreements. It is no secret that Mr. Ford regards organized labour as the enemy, but antagonizing Ontario’s front line work-ers in this time of the COVID epidemic is totally uncalled for. One might think that America’s Mr. Trump had shifted his residence into the premier’s office at Queen’s Park.

Well except that Karahlios doesn’t think Ford is far enough to the right. She thinks he’s not blue enough to represent real conservative-minded voters like her – claiming Ford has moved to the political left and is now in common territory with the other main Ontario parties. So one has to wonder what it takes to make one a real conservative.

Was it the deficit? Conservatives have long opposed budgetary deficits, except when they get into office, as was the case with former PM Mulroney. And even Mr. Harper ran record deficits during 2009-2011 period in an effort to stimulate a recessionary economy. So would it be fair to attack Mr. Ford’s record setting COVID deficit and use that to boot him out of the conservative club.

Fird money in your pocket

The issue for Doug Ford has always been money.

And surely Ford qualifies when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthiest, perhaps the most common of currencies among conservatives. His carefully camouflaged middle income tax cuts have turned out to be a Trojan horse, as predicted, and a bonanza for the wealthiest. The provincial Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has calculated that Doug Ford’s tax breaks are benefiting Ontario’s highest earners. “The top 20 per cent, with incomes over $123,400, are getting 43 per cent of tax benefits, including 75 per cent of deductions, which adds up to over $7 billion every year.”

When it comes to the environment the ultra conservative former PM, Mr. Harper, pulled Canada out of the international Kyoto agreement on climate change and pursued a fossil fuel agenda as Conservative PM. If that is real conservatism then Mr. Ford certainly qualifies as well, having mothballed almost all of Ontario’s emission reduction programs including renewable energy projects. Further he has sued the federal government over imposition of the national carbon tax.

And now the second shoe is dropping as he moves to further please the land development and other business lobbies who seem to have captured his attention. Ford’s most recent retro-legislative initiative, Bill 229, attacks the historical role of conservation authorities in land use planning, one of their primary purposes since their establishment back in 1946, by then PC Premier George Drew. What could be more conservative than conservation?

So it’s uncertain just where and how far Karahalios would like to see Mr. Ford go to prove he is a real conservative? He is already on a clear path to eliminate everything represented by the word progressive in Progressive Conservative. Ford has turned the clock back three or four decades in many regards and especially the environment. And that will create a headache for the next government which will have to clean up the mess.

Perhaps there is more to this story? After all it is no secret that Belinda’s husband, Jim Karahalios, a long time deep Tory, had tried on more than one occasion to become a party president for either/both the federal and provincial parties, only to be foiled by some kind of alleged intra-party conspiracy. It’s easy to see how that can make one bitter and twisted.

In fact he sued the federal party at one point and won. And of course, there is no better way to win friends and influence people than with a law suit. So perhaps this plan to hatch a new Blue party is a case of sour grapes, or even revenge to draw right wing voters away from Mr. Ford’s party. Splitting the right even more beyond the Heritage, Libertarian, Family Coalition fringe party platforms might be a more serious threat.

And unlike these two bit political efforts, the Blue’s would have a seat in the house (Cambridge) at least until the next election. And Jim, who was the creative genius behind ‘Axe the Tax’ anti-carbon tax campaign, presumably is qualified in Belinda’s mind and has the chops to help her lead her new Blue party.

It could happen. After all, Preston Manning’s Reform Party grew almost overnight to become Her Maj-esty’s Loyal Opposition after a lot of conservatives felt Kim Campbell wasn’t quite blue enough for them. It was an act of courage to stand apart from the familiar crowd of mindless desk-thumping seals at Queens Park and speak up when something stinks. And on that note she deserves a vote of appreciation.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links

Blue Party –    Nurses Association –   FAO –    Bill 229

 

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'You would be forgiven if you did not know what was going on'

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 16th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

On a CBC radio program earlier today Melissa Lastman, a strategist with Enterprise Canada said:  She added later that many people feel “Nobody is telling us why”.

We are getting a lot in the way of numbers – nothing comforting in any of them.

1487 new cases in Ontario
538 for Toronto
88 active cases in Halton – 16 deaths in the Region.

Tiered Regional approachAnd we are now in a “red” code which the Mayor seems to be comfortable with as she struggles to breath some life into the hospitality sector.

She is pushing a big stone up a hill.

The virus is in the community – that is a fact. How far it gets to go is up to us.

We have a Premier who is loath to shut things down – it isn’t in the way he thinks or acts. He is a business person – the doors don’t get closed.

At a Standing Committee Council was focused on getting a little closer to normal and beginning to open up a little. There were some really good ideas and the mood of council was upbeat.

Then the move into a Red Control Zone.  Council and Staff didn’t seem to be fully aware of just what the numbers were really telling us.

ppe

The province today announced significant changes in the way PPE is sourced.

There is a bigger picture and a bigger responsibility that no one seems to fully understand or prepared to do all that much about.
At Council next week they will decide if the second round of $125,000 funding for PPE is to go forward.

There is now a very vigorous debate within the medical community. The province appears to be prepared with new infections just as long as there aren’t too many.

There is a new group of medical professionals who urge that a 0 growth rate be put in place and that we shut down as much as possible until that level is reached.

We need to do more to get this virus under control is the sentiment that is being heard.

long termcare 29 dead

A reported 29 deaths at this Long Term Care residence

No one at the political level is prepared to say that Christmas will be different – just how much is the big question.

The Canadian Medical Association has said that “we are very close to a tipping point”. This is a voice that needs to be heard.

Something that has to be said as well: We should be ashamed of what we have let happen in the long term care homes.

There is a report of one home in which 80% of the residents are infected.

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Covid19: New Region Restrictions not far enough or fast enough

opinionred 100x100By Andrew Drummond

November 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On Nov 13, the Ford government announced that Halton region will be added to the list of regions in the “red” zone, effective Nov 16. After a Toronto Star story exposed that the government ignored health experts’ recommendations and amplified the requirements for inclusion to red restrictions by 4x, they announced a new set of guidelines that will include Halton into the most restrictive conditions that currently exist in Ontario.

Unfortunately, even these restrictions are too little to seriously impact the spread of COVID-19 within our community given the explosive increase in cases and positivity ratings during the last month. The best course of action would be for the government to fund a complete two week shut down of all non-essential businesses so that Halton and other communities have a chance to fight the spread of COVID-19. Without decisive action now, we will be forced into a second, lengthy lockdown that will threaten the economic recovery that our region has worked so hard to build.

Covid cases for the region

Regional Public Health data for November 11th

Over the week of Nov 5-11 Halton region had a rate of 54.9 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. The Region also has a positivity rate of 4.4%. These are alarming stats, and indicators that the current efforts in the Region are not sufficient to contain the spread of the virus. There is reason for concern however that the new measures to be implemented on Nov 16 will also be insufficient in stopping the spread. As an example, Peel region is currently under even more restrictive measures than what the “red” zone mandates and yet has seen its cases increase exponentially. People are fatigued with social gathering restrictions and will only follow guidelines if stringently enforced, not if they are merely recommendations.

Controlling the spread of COVID is essential to the health of our community. Beyond spread within the Burlington community, there is also a localized outbreak at Tansley Woods Retirement Home. To date 35 residents and 11 staff members have been infected with the virus. As of Nov 13, 7 of these residents have died. This is too terrible an impact within our community to ignore. Without quickly imposed strong measures in place, we risk further institutional outbreaks that will endanger our most vulnerable populations.

McKenna + Drummond

Andrew Drummond talking to Jane McKenna at an all candidates meeting during the last provincial election.

On October 24, Burlington MPP Jane McKenna co-authored a public letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health referring to the minimal restrictions in place at that time. “These measures are working.” she said. This was completely untrue. We now know that holding back on necessary restrictions then allowed the virus to spread virtually unchecked within our community. It is critical that those mistakes not be repeated again. We need a stronger set of restrictions with rigid enforcement or we risk our region suffering the same fate as Peel with more than 400 cases every day.

The COVID pandemic has to date caused a massive amount of damage to the Burlington economy. Countless small and medium businesses in Burlington have struggled. Many have closed and many more have been forced to move. And throughout, there has been very little support from the provincial government. The federal government has offered a significant amount of support towards businesses and employees affected by the economic downturn. But the province has been hesitant to provide even meager additional supports. That has to end.

According to the Ontario government, 97% of direct support for COVID impacted people and businesses has come from the federal government with only 3% coming from Ontario itself (https://www.fao-on.org/en/Blog/Publications/fed-prov-response-2020). Ontario needs to step up and have a plan for the long term health of our economy. Preventing shutdowns now risking future COVID outbreaks is short-sighted. We need the government to actually support our businesses through the short term so they can rebound through what is to come.

Burlington, Halton, and Ontario need to beat this wave of COVID-19. Our community cannot afford another week or month of the indecisive wait and see approach from our leaders. But our small and medium businesses cannot afford to take this hit by themselves. The Ontario government must finally step up and give our business community the support that it needs to shut down in a controlled manner, before we are forced to do so in a panic.

Tiered Regional approach

Burlington is currently in the red zone – Control

The current measures do not go far enough. It is a continuation of the conflicting direction and expectation that most people will take additional measures on their own initiative. That is not good enough, we need better. Even the “red” zone guidelines are conflicting in their expectations. The strong recommendation is that no one leave their homes except for essential travel (work, school, etc.). However, there are guidelines set as to how house league sports are to conduct themselves (no games, practices only). Is house league sports really an essential activity worth risking our community’s health?

Why have guidelines for it if everyone is supposed to stay home except for essentials? Mall food courts are restricted to 10 seated guests. The food court at Mapleview almost certainly has to close under those restrictions. So where is the support for those businesses? Every recommendation from the government in the last three months has been politicized and constantly modified to the point that neither citizens nor businesses are sure what the exact advice is anymore.

These conflicts are only examples of the conflicted, unclear, and indecisive leadership shown by the government during this crisis. They are so invested in protecting businesses in the immediate short term that they can’t or won’t plan for what is necessary in the medium term. Burlington needs a decisive shut down in order to protect our community and to ensure that all of our efforts in the past six months were not in vain. Burlington has worked too hard for too long to suffer through more indecision and half measures. The time is now for decisive action to ensure that our community has a chance to build the recovery we need.

Andrew Drummond is a Burlington resident.  He was the NDP candidate during the last provincial election.

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How did Council and City Administration miss the Regional Health data?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

City Council has a cycle of meetings for each month.

They hold Standing Committee meetings at which there is usually vigorous debate on Staff Reports.

Then a Council meeting at which the results of the debate get approved (or not approved) which results in a bylaw that governs what we can and can’t do.

Sheila Jones - in group

While supported by good staff – these are the brains and executive capacity that keep the Emergency Coordinating Group ahead of major problems.

We are currently in a mode of government where the real power is in the hands of the Emergency Control Group. (Council is involved, heavily involved, but the ECG does have the power to call the shots.)

The Emergency Control Group was the result of a decision made by the province that required every municipality to create an emergency control group.

Each month Council gets a “Service Re-design” report in which the ECG sets out program changes and modifications.

On Thursday Council heard a report from the Parks and Recreation Department on the Community Winter 2021 Opportunities for Recreation Services.

In the Executive Summary of the report, Staff said “…there is still a degree of uncertainty regarding the spread of COVID-19…”.

Tim-Commisso-finger-up-hard-eyesThere was no comment from the City Manager on just what that “degree of uncertainty” was; there was mention of the costs involved in the proposals that were put forward.

There were ideas and proposals for Outdoor Skating,  Holiday Skates, Holiday Activation, and Winter Activation all with numbers attached setting out what it would cost and require in the way of staffing resources.

The Parks and Recreation people were asked to get more solid numbers on the costs. I suspect the Parks and Recreation people were a little taken aback at just how keen council seemed to be with most of their ideas.

That was Thursday.

On Friday the Province had taken a harder look at the numbers and moved all of Halton into a Red Zone, effective Monday (why the delay?) with a clear threat for a tough lock down later in the week.

It seemed as if Burlington City Council and the senior city administration people and the provincial leadership were singing from different hymn books.

City Manager Tim Commisso has some very smart people working with him – he frequently refers to his lead person on just what the province is doing and keeping him up to date on what is coming out of the Regional Public Health office saying that he couldn’t do his job without that person.

So here we were with Burlington sailing ahead with what sounded like good plan for giving the public things to do – the Santa traveling about the city on a fire truck was particularly neat –an innovative way to make up for the cancellation of the Santa Claus parade.

I couldn’t reconcile what Burlington was setting out to do with what the Province did on Friday.

I decided to look at the Regional Public Health data – something I now wish I had done much earlier.

Gazette resources are limited and I just didn’t keep a close eye on the data.

It was a shocker – there is a link below to the piece we published earlier today on what we learned.

The rolling average for the Region is 50 new infections each day with a positivity rate of 5: that is not a sustainable number.  The hospital cannot manage those levels.

The concern is this: Did the city manager not know about the Regional data? Was that information not passed along to him?

Council in memory

No mention of the Regional Health data from this bunch on Thursday

Did members of Council stop looking at the Regional data? Not one of them made any mention of what the Region was telling anyone who took the time to visit their site.

Don’t expect anyone to say much about the eyes being taken off the ball – but hopefully we can expect a different tone at the meeting of City Council on the 23rd.

We could be in a total lock down by then.

Related news story

Regional data

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Rivers calls the Provincial Budget An Exercise in Creative Writing

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government released its latest budget last week, though you might have missed it given all the attention in the media about the US election. And you’d be excused for not reading it, given that it’s such a voluminous manuscript. Though if you like fiction there was a good amount of unashamedly creative writing about how quickly and effectively the Ford government sprang into action to tackle the coronavirus last spring.

Extendicare HAlton Hills

The Extendicare facility in HAlton Hills has received numerous notices from the government – but has been allowed to remain operational.

But there were no apologies for how poorly the province actually responded to the crisis in long term care (LTC) homes, in failing to stock adequate supplies of PPE (personal protection equipment) or how it is failing to protect all the students being sent into crowded classrooms this year. And there was no thanks given to the federal government for having to send in the army to save our LTC residents. And let’s not forget the federal cash subsidies which have kept us afloat.

Nov prov budget

Provincial budget being presented in the Legislature.

There are a lot of numbers which add up to give us Ontario’s largest deficit ever. Big business gets another huge break on electricity thanks to the taxpayers. And there is something novel, a staycation, to encourage people to travel around the province in 2021. How can that make sense when Mr. Ford keeps telling us to stay home, rather than go about spreading the virus?

So that may be great news if you own and rent out your lakefront cottage. For renters, if you can afford the two or three thousand for a week, you’ll be entitled to 20% of the rental price back with your income taxes. Rent is a consumable why not just drop the PST? And why provide an incentive at all, given that cottage rentals sold out like hot cakes last year in the midst of the pandemic?

Back to the US election, America’s four year bad dream is finally coming to an end as Joe Biden prepares to replace Donald Trump as America’s next commander-in-chief But the nightmare continues, at least for the majority of Americans who voted to change the channel. They are tired of watching the COVID death toll continue to rise coincident with ever increasing infection rates, and no end in sight despite vague optimistic promises from Trump about a vaccine supposedly just around the corner.

virus testing

Testing and tracing to control the spread of the virus can’t effectively be done at this stage of the contagion, even in most of Canada.

One can only hope that the pandemic can bring Americans together in more ways than it has divided them. Still with over 100,000 new cases a day and an exponential contagion which can accelerate by a factor of two or three, that will require hard medicine. Testing and tracing to control the spread of the virus can’t effectively be done at this stage of the contagion, even in most of Canada.

Hard medicine is what China and New Zealand and some other nations used to virtually eliminate their viral transmission. It’s called a lockdown. Keeping people from spreading the virus to each other worked because the contagion’s preferred transmission route is close personal contact and hanging out in closed areas where the viral load can concentrate.

The lockdown also was working for a while in Canada and even the USA. New York, once the hardest hit with graphic images of bodies being stored in refrigeration trucks, got the contagion under control and flattened the curve of infections. And so did Ontario and Alberta and even Quebec.

cafe crowd - no six feet here

Convincing people to stay at home just isn’t working.

But then we got impatient. Lobbied by those who had been shut down, our leaders bowed to the bar, restaurant and gym owners’ demands. And to appear even-handed the advisories allowed larger public gatherings – weddings, funerals and church services. So the epidemic naturally came back with a vengeance. Call it a second wave, it is really just a revival of the contagion our leaders did not allow to die off the first time.

There is no question that Ontario’s hospitality and entertainment industries have been hurt. But collectively they make up about 3% of the provincial GDP – 6% if we generously count the upstream and downstream economy. If the choice is between keeping the gyms and bars closed or filling the emergency rooms and morgues which should we choose?

Our numbers have yet to reach the levels we see in the USA, but wait for it. On Sunday Ontario reported over 1300 new cases. There have been 150 outbreaks in long-term care homes, nearly 1000 cases per day (7 day average) and the largest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day. And Doug Ford has just loosened restrictions to the delight of the virus. Once our numbers parallel those in the USA does keeping the border closed even make sense?

So who is advising the Premier on this calamitous policy. He claims he is listening to his scientists. But they must not be talking to the medical experts on the front line like Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president of physician quality at Unity Health in Toronto, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto and sits on provincial and federal committees related to the COVID-19 response. “It wouldn’t take much to put us on a path towards the kinds of outcomes we’re seeing in Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, many American states.”

Nov 9 COVID numbers ON

If this graph isn’t evidence enough – then we are in for a very hard winter.

It sure looks like all that pain we went through getting that curve flattened last spring was for nothing. Deja vu, again. And while it is up to all of us – we’re all in this together – we do expect leadership to navigate us all to safety. But at least we’ll get a tax break when we rent that summer cottage next year.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 Background links:

Ontario Budget –    More Budget –   Even More

Biggest Mistake –   Ford –     Virus Spread

Cottages –    School Infections

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Procedural bylaw matters - Clerk is setting out some adjustments

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was a bit of a rumbling and part of the earth that we know as Burlington may have moved just a bit.

The Clerk’s office released a report that will be discussed on Tuesday – changes to the Procedural Bylaw – the document that sets out the rule on how Council has to act.

Some good changes.

We have set out the report and added some editorial comment beneath many of the changes to give just what is being done some context.

In response to the committee review, the Clerk’s department has been working on expanding tools which enable residents to better interact with Council and in the Council process. The proposed amendments stem from an analysis of the committee review survey feedback, conducted in 2019. The survey comments indicated that the processes for communicating with Council were not apparent and that not having that information was a barrier to participation. Staff anticipate that these amendments will help to enhance communication for residents and Council, in creating rules and standards for Council correspondence, and petitions.

Additional amendments are proposed to align the By-law with legislation, and to create a timeline for when the public can reasonably expect when additional information is provided to Council and made available to public.

Addendum Timelines
At present, there is no timeline for how additional information is provided to Council or made available to the public. Staff are proposing to create a timeline for the release of additional meeting materials to ensure that both the Council and public have a reasonable expectation of when they will receive additional information. Staff will ensure that the addendum is posted not less than 24 hours before the hour for holding the meeting.

Finally – all too often addendum items have been added to the agenda at the last minute.

Should Council approve the proposed amendments, the additional items package will be renamed the revised addendum and that it be posted to the website for the public. Staff will ensure that the updated revised addendum is distributed to Council and posted to the City’s website not less than 12 hours before the meeting, to ensure that information is provided to the public.

Special Meetings
Current practice affords the Mayor or the City Manager to call a special meeting, the Clerk is then directed to petition Council to determine if there will be a quorum of Council present at the meeting. In review of the Municipal Act, S.O. 2001, c. 25 (the Act) section 240 the current procedure by-law provisions are incongruent with the Act.

Incongruent is putting it mildly

Council in memory

A majority of Council members could Call a Special meeting of Council. Good move – hobbles the Mayor who has been calling Special Council meetings at the drop of a hat.

The staff are recommending that the Procedure By-law be amended to align with the provisions outlined in the Act. This would allow the Mayor to call a special meeting, and they may be requested by a Council resolution to call a special meeting. In advance staff will poll Council to ensure that a quorum of Council is available before the meeting is called.

In addition, a proposed second clause to the special meeting section aligns with section 240 (b) of the Act. This would allow for the majority of members of Council to request a special meeting by petition. Upon receipt of the petition, the Clerk shall call the special Council meeting. This would allow for a majority of members of Council to request a special meeting.

We were not aware that the City Manager could call a Special Meeting of Council.  The Mayor has used the calling of Special meetings in a manner that this reporter has never seen before in 40 years of covering councils – they were being held at the rate of one a month.

Correspondence and Petitions
Currently, there are no provisions in the Procedure By-law that address how official correspondence, or a civic petition is received. According to the By-law, the only way to participate at a Council or at a standing committee is to do so as a delegation, this is echoed on the City’s website. The Clerk’s department currently allows for correspondence and has a provisional process in place for petitions but there are no resources that are publicly available. The proposed amendments set forth a detailed process and timelines which have been included in the accompanying amending by-law

In drafting the new sections, 42. Correspondence and 43. Petitions, staff have reviewed other procedural by-laws to better understand how other jurisdictions process these documents. Both correspondence and petitions will be handled in a similar fashion, with aligning deadlines. Staff have proposed that only petitions will be received at Council, as they will be ceremonially read into the record. If there are no additional motions regarding a petition or a piece of correspondence it will be received and filed.

It would be nice to see provision for one of the people behind a decision to be at the podium and able to answer questions from Council members.

Correspondence providing commentary on a matter that has been dealt with by Council will be received, circulated to members of Council, and filed, but will not appear on a minute record.

Correspondence that does not correspond to an agenda item, that is addressed to Council and received by the Clerk will be circulated. Petitions that do not correspond with an agenda item will be directed by the website to be sent to a member of Council, as it will require a sponsor. The member of Council who sponsors an item must submit a Municipal Officer’s report, outlining why the item was sponsored and the remedy sought. These items must abide by the deadlines regarding adding items of business on the agenda, the Wednesday, the week the agenda is published.

The requirement that a Petition be sponsored limits this tool.  If Council doesn’t want to hear what Petitioners have to say they could just be mute and ignore the Petition.  The Mayor should be appointed as the Sponsor of last resort or the Chair of the Standing Committee that will hear the petition

Administrative Changes
Staff are recommending the following administrative/housekeeping changes to the by- law.

Section Change
1.2 Italicize Name of Act
14.1 (c) Delete reference to “Citizen” in connection with citizen advisory committees
20.2 Capitalize the word Chair
27.3 Italicize Act name
41 Addition of Header – Public Participation
41.7 Deletion of incorrect references in Planning Act and correction
41.13 Deletion of incorrect section for delegations and correction

Strategy/process
The proposed amendments realign the Procedure By-law closer to legislation and with common meeting practices.

Options Considered
There are other areas in the current Procedure By-law that need review, these will be done over time and be brought back through subsequent amendment packages.

It would have been nice if these “other areas” were set out so that people could think about them and make comments to the Clerk.

Engagement Matters:
A public survey, hosted on the GetInvolvedBurlington.ca webpage open from April 30, 2019, through to June 7, 2019 received 385 respondents. The public survey posed questions to determine barriers to participation, advisory committee experience, and asked for suggestions to improve the system. This information was helpful in determining what services needed to be approved to enhance the overall experience for residents working with Council.

Kudos to the Clerk’s office for determining what services were needed to be approved to enhance the overall experience for residents

Should Council approve the procedure by-law amendments, supplemental materials will be created to help individuals navigate processes such as webpages and tip sheets.

Staff will work with Corporate Communications to ensure that public materials are reviewed to ensure that they are in plain language.

Conclusion:
Creating rules with respect to correspondence and petitions will help residents to understand what is involved and what they can expect. Rules and additional information will also work towards breaking down barriers, which will allow residents to more freely communicate and comment on agenda items that are before Council.

 

 

 

 

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Members of Council have found a way to stiff people who want to address them

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 8th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We wrote last week asking where have all the good delegators gone – those men and women who pay attention to what is taking place at city council and then make the time to put their thoughts and observations on paper and speak to Council.

We wondered aloud if the issue was the limitations put in place by Covid19 or was there something else?

The something else is a change in the way the Clerk’s office handles requests for delegations.

You have to let the Clerk know that you wish to delegate – which isn’t unreasonable; the Clerk has to know how many delegations there are going to be in order to get a sense as to just how long a meeting might last.

What is new is the requirement that a delegate submit a copy of the delegation before they are told they can actually delegate.

The Chair of the meeting explains that this is done so that members of Council can think about what they are going to hear and be able to ask questions of the delegation.

On those occasions when there are no questions from council, the Chair of the meeting will tell the delegate that there point was so clear there was no reason for any questions.

Jim Young standing

Jim Young

That is so slick as to be just a little sickening.

It is the open sharing of ideas and the willingness to not only listen but to hear what is being said that keep a society stable.

Jim Young, a frequent delegator in the past,  put it so well when he told council during a delegation: “the power they have was given to them by the electorate “in trust” and that they were expected to use the power they were given wisely.”

Council seems to have tired of listening to the people that elected them.

Related article.
When was the last time …

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Moving Beyond “Business as Usual” With Sustainability as the Driving Force

opiniongreen 100x100By Nicole Ramberg

November 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When the word “sustainability” is mentioned, what comes to mind? Maybe the battle that is climate change, or on a smaller scale, deciding to bring coffee to work in a reusable mug instead of buying one on the way. A connection that may not be as quickly drawn is how sustainability relates to business operations. This may be attributed to the fact that incorporating sustainability principles into business processes can be difficult and confusing for many reasons. A local organization, Sustainable Hamilton Burlington, recently launched their new Sustainability Leadership Program that helps businesses navigate the process, providing a clear path forward.

sustainabilityThe journey to becoming a more sustainable business is usually not an easy one. There are various challenges that can present themselves along the way, hindering or even halting the process. For businesses either thinking about, or just starting on their path to more sustainable practices, the process can seem daunting:

• Sustainability focuses on the triple bottom line, including economic, social and environmental sustainability – where do you even begin?
• How do you determine your performance indicators, and measure changes to identify when improvements occur?
• When you decide to take action, how can you ensure your actions are credible, and gain recognition for your efforts from your stakeholders and the public?

These challenges can be especially hard for smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “It really comes down to resources. SMEs often lack the human, technological, and financial resources to implement sustainable change, and quickly. It’s also higher risk because there needs to be obvious returns on their investments – financially and otherwise – to warrant these changes being made,” says Jordyn Divok, Program Manager. “Another challenge is recognizing these successes in a credible way, which is achieved through third-party recognition.”

With these challenges to becoming a sustainable business, it’s important to seek guidance, support and resources to help you on this journey. Sustainable Hamilton Burlington (SHB) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to inspiring sustainability leadership in business organizations for healthier environments and thriving communities. From retail to energy providers, from architectural firms to local airports – sustainability can be built into any business. Business Sustainability 101 is a course offered by SHB to introduce businesses to the vast benefits of sustainability, including increased profits, efficient operations and employee satisfaction – to name a few. This starting point allows for any business to better understand the potential that sustainability has to offer for their triple-bottom line.

When the organization is ready to take the first step on its sustainability journey, the Sustainability Leadership Program guides businesses towards becoming truly sustainable. The membership-based program helps businesses to identify and overcome challenges along the path to becoming a more sustainable operation, building brand recognition and business resiliency in doing so. The program consists of a sequential four-step approach, each of which accomplishes new objectives that help organizations address different aspects of sustainability, while developing the systems and support needed to drive these changes forward.

Outcomes from the steps involve learning about how to calculate the organization’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, expanding the understanding of sustainability to include social and economic pillars, the use of globally recognized standards in sustainability reporting, and ultimately embedding sustainability into policies and work culture as a core value.

Sustainable Hamilton Burlington publishes an Annual Impact Report to highlight the impacts that members have made over the past calendar year. Conservation Halton recently won the Social Initiative Award 2019 presented by SHB for their initiative which positively impacted the Burlington community. Ash trees on Conservation Halton’s properties were removed. Rather than disposing of the wood, they decided to partner with Notre Dame High School to donate the lumber. The wood shop students used the material to create items like live-edge wood tables, in turn auctioning them off to fund raise for their school programs and activities. By incorporating a social sustainability guideline into their organization, and developing initiatives like this one, Conservation Halton was able to increase their brand value and recognition within the communities they serve.

Though this year has been a roller-coaster to say the least, excellent examples of sustainability in business have emerged, which have helped businesses become resilient and able to adapt in a changing economy. With sustainability as the guiding force, the future of business is about more than just the money they make; it’s about the impact they can leave behind.

Nicole RambergNicole Ramberg is a graduate of McMaster University where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences.  She is currently a student at Fleming College in Lindsay ON, where she is studying Ecosystem Management Technology.

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When was the last time you heard a good delegation?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Where have all the good ones gone?

Where are the dozen or so people who could be relied upon to delegate responsibly, to keep the members of Council on their toes?

Where is Gary Scobie, where is Tom Muir, where is Greg Woodruff, Blair Smith, Jim Young, Roland Tanner and Hunter Lawson?

Jim Young 2

Jim Young

Roland Tanner

Roland Tanner

Scobie 3

Gary Scobie

Hunter Lawson

Lawson Hunter

Dee Dee Davies  always spoke in a measured deliberate tone abd had that ability to pause when she felt she wasn’t being listened to.

These are the people who did their homework and had the courage of their convictions to stand before council and speak on behalf of their communities.

Some say that people are going through burn-out.

Some say that the people who were always available to speak no longer believe that they were heard, worse they don’t believe they are being heard now.

Is the awkwardness of delegating under the conditions that the pandemic imposes what is keeping them away from Cit Hall?

Do delegators find they don’t feel there is any real connection with the members of council when they are speaking ?

Council chamber - new look

There is more than enough room for the members of Council to attend in person. Staff would have to take part virtually.

Could this council find a way to have at least some of the Councillors in the Council Chamber? There is more than enough room in the Chamber for at least half of the Council members be in place with the delegator at the podium.

The Halton District School Board has 4 trustees in the room.

What we aren’t seeing is any effort to make the process of citizens speaking to the elected

When a delegator has finished there is, frequently, all too frequently, a statement read by the Chair that there were no questions because the delegator made their point very clear.

Balderdash – the Chair just blew the delegator off.

What City Council is doing now is not healthy for the democracy we are all so proud of – it actually stinks.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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When is an apology appropriate? When do they become almost trite? What about those that are not followed up on? Ask the Aboriginal community

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

It’s Justin’s own fault. Unlike some other world leaders, notably GW Bush, Mr. Trudeau’s name became synonymous with ‘I’m sorry’.

Another day, another mea culpa. Residential schools, LGBT discrimination, turning away refugees – those were the easy ones. Somebody else was responsible for those mistakes. Justin even apologized for the Pope not apologizing over the role Catholics played in the residential school disgrace.

Jstin in black face

Was this the object of the first apology or was that the trip to India?

And then there were the occasions he goofed up: that vacation with the Aga Khan, brown-face gate, and the WE fiasco. And some would say he should have even apologized for his choice of costume while visiting India. But he balked when Jody Wilson-Rayboult (JWR) demanded he apologize for clarifying her place in the political pecking order. Instead he got rid of her and also her mutinous buddy Jane Philpott, who wanted him to apologize for not apologizing to JWR.

So Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has asked Justin to also apologize for the War Measures Act, which his father reluctantly imposed to rout and eliminate Canada’s homegrown terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). Well heck, Brian Mulroney had apologized for correcting an earlier War Measures action, the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII. In fact, he paid out $21,000 per internee and re-instated the citizenship of those deported.

Perhaps Blanchet is also looking for compensation for the 500 or so FLQ suspects who were later released without charge – or those who weren’t? Who knows? So even the opposition Conservatives are not giving him any encouragement.

Blanchet was five years old at the time the War Measures Act (WMA) was imposed for the very first time in peacetime, and for the last time before it was re-labelled the Emergencies Act. So perhaps he doesn’t clearly remember all the events of that period.

There was this reign of terror going back to 1963. The FLQ blew up mail boxes and buildings, attacked military bases to steal weapons, attempted to sabotage a train carrying former PM John Diefenbaker and robbed banks to finance themselves. There was Soviet KGB involvement, and FLQ operatives had been trained in military camps by the Palestinian PLO and other organizations deemed terrorist back then.

War Measures Troops on streets

Troops were on the streets in Montreal with close to 500 arrested without a warrant. The tension was very high in the province of Quebec

By 1970 the FLQ had 7 deaths on their hands including a Minister in the government of Robert Bourassa. Before they were eliminated they had rung up an impressive list of violent acts, (see link below). In all there were more than 200 bombings and dozens of robberies by this dis-aggregated, but well organized and highly motivated, group with a single goal in mind.

Pierre Trudeau only reluctantly imposed the War Measures Act, and only after Quebec’s premier and the mayor of Montreal had formally requested that the federal government to do so. Trudeau then took the decision to Parliament where it received near unanimous approval, including support from the major opposition party leaders.

Almost all Canadians supported the action which wiped out the FLQ, including 86% of Quebecers. The measures abrogated Canada’s Bill of Rights and included unwarranted search and arrests. But it was effective and ended only a few months later, in early 1971. And there were no documented casualties as a result of the Canadian military and police actions.

But most important, the FLQ and its reign of terror had been completely eliminated. So which Quebecers in Mr. Blanchet’s mind should Mr. Trudeau be apologizing to? Though perhaps someone needs to apologize to those who became victims of the FLQ’s reign of terror.

Background links:

Trudeau’s Mea Culpas      Blanchet’s Request –      FLQ Timeline – 

History of War Measures Act –    Opinion in Retrospect –     Read My Book

No Need to Apologize

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes frequently on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

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Will Halton be moved back to Stage 2 this week?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is it time for a painful reality check?

Are we paying attention to the COVID-19 numbers?

1042 new cases identified in Ontario – highest number ever and the colder weather that will keep us inside more often has yet to really start.

Region graph Oct 25

We are in the beginning of a second wave – it was expected. How long will it last?

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna penned a letter to the Chief Medical Officer for the province urging him not to put Halton back into Stage 2. York, Peel and Toronto were moved into Stage 2 earlier in the month when their numbers kept climbing.

With Peel in Stage 2 there are reports of people from those communities driving into Halton for dinner at our local restaurants.

A tough question: Are restaurants essential?

More than 15 schools in Halton have reported infections – not huge numbers but infections nevertheless.

A Burlington MacDonald’s reported an infection; a very popular Oakville supermarket reported an infection.

Is it time to think in terms of mothballing the hospitality sector?

These are tough decisions that have to be made.

McKenna has asked the Provincial Medical Officer to hold off – isn’t that a decision that is made by the Halton Medical Officer of Health?  In her letter McKenna said: “In June, when we began to emerge from the lockdown, the advice given by our medical experts was to wait two weeks (the incubation period), before lifting any restrictions. When taken together with our decreasing case counts, there is no evidence to suggest that moving Halton to a modified Phase 2 will have any meaningful impact on reducing case counts. One thing that is certain, is that many people and businesses can not financially withstand another shutdown.”

Noteworthy is the fact that neither Oakville Mayor Rob Burton nor Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette signed the letter – perhaps they were unavailable?

Burlington is spending very large sums of money to protect the people who work at city hall. The majority are still working from their homes and for the most part doing a good job.

The economy is vitally important – is a healthy population not just as important?

Do we really have to get out for a beer and mix with people? Can we not buckle down, find within us the personal discipline and do what is in our best interests and see ourselves through what is a crisis that has the potential to rip us apart as a society?

What will we do if a third of the schools are shut down for a couple of weeks at a time? What happens when the number of classroom teachers who become infected are in the hundreds?

Is this being alarmist?

That 1042 number of infections reported on Sunday by the province was a fact.

The Premier will be sweating this one out when it is the public that needs to do the sweating. The people from Toronto and Mississauga who travel to Burlington and Oakville for an evening out have to learn to stay within their own communities and spend time with the people who are in their immediate circle.

This virus may be very hard to beat and we may have to wait until there is a vaccine – but in the meantime we can limit its growth by limiting what we do.

Do your best to not pick up the infection from someone else and do your best to not pass it along if you do get it.

In the meantime we wait for the numbers from the province Monday morning and wait to hear what the Halton Regional Medical Officer of Health has to say.

Her job just got a lot harder.

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Mayor skirts the offer of quarry land being turned into park land - no political upside in thisfor her or the ward Councillor.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has a regular television show on the Cogeco cable network.

Cogeco provides the free time as one of the conditions attached to their license.

Late in September the Mayor and Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan took part in a virtual conversation with Curt Benson, the Regional planner about the Nelson Aggregate application for new licenses to continue open pit mining for aggregate needed for the concrete used in construction for everything from high rise towers to sidewalks in the city.

MMW + Nisan + Benson on Cogeco

Mayor Meed Ward, Councillor Rory Nisan (lower right) and Regional Planner Curt Benson on the Cogeco cablecast.

There is considerable opposition to the license applications from people who live in the rural part of the city.

The process and level of public involvement is complex and involves five levels of government and agencies.

The Mayor had Benson take her through the process that would be used. It is complex and time consuming and will take at least two years before they are anywhere near a decision. A municipal election will have taken place before the issue is ready for a decision.

Burlington’s city council is one of the bodies that makes a decision but it is the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) that has the clout. If they decide the granting of licenses is not in the public interest and does not meet with the NEC mandate there will be no license.

The provincial Ministry is the body that will actually issue the license.

At this point in time the focus is ongoing through the thousands of pages of documents that were submitted with the application. It will take a couple of years for this to be completed.

Quarry time line

There are a lot of hoops for the application to get through before this gets to a decision point.

During the half hour broadcast Meed Ward and Nisan talked about community involvement, protection of the environment and the interests of the citizens – especially those who live in rural Burlington. Ward 3 covers the North West part of the city and while the population is not all that large – they certainly have clout.

Meed Ward and Nisan want to be able to say that they have done their best to save rural Burlington. They are half way through their first term of office and can be expected to shift the shape of the way they see things and move into election mode.

As elected officials they are not in place to focus on just the immediate and short term interests but the longer term interests of the city.

And that is where Meed Ward and Nisan failed miserably.

Neither made any mention of the offer to turn the mined out properties over to the city to be used as a public park.

Meed Ward did say that the area did have a park – she was referring to the Cedar Springs Golf Club – private and expensive.

Much mention was made of the community group that is opposed to future development of the open pit mines – little mention of the citizen’s group that would like to see a park created out of the land once the aggregate is mined out.

Spencer Smith Park and the Beachway are packed on the weekends when the weather is good.

The Conservation Authority is now charging a fee to enter their parks and limiting the amount of time you can spend there.

Lowville Park, a destination for large family gatherings, now meters the number of vehicles that can be in the park and limits the amount of time people can stay – which puts a real damper on family groups that often spend the best part of a day in what is a very nice park.

If there are limits now on where people can enjoy the outdoors what will Burlington do when they have added 15,000 to 20,000 people to its population by the time the quarry is ready to be closed?

The long range look is part of a city Councillor’s job – a Mayor is expected to take a long term view and to prepare the public for what is coming and to make the best of an opportunity.

The public didn’t see much of that when the Mayor dragged the Regional Planner into the fray.

Benson was pretty good at keeping his distance by being the professional he is – he was not about to be co-opted by a Mayor.

Nelson Aggregates may be talking to the wrong level of government. The Conservation Authority operates the Mt Nemo property which is a couple of football field lengths away from the quarry. They would be more suited to operating any park that might be developed in the future.

More on this in the weeks ahead.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Related new stories:

Citizens organize to oppose quarry expansion

Nelson Aggregates releases plan to turn quarry into parkland

 

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Halfway through this term of office Council may want to reflect on what they have managed to get done and if this is really the job for those new to the job.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

 October 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For most of us it’s a Friday, another weekend where there are more restrictions than things to do.

But for most of the members of city council Friday matters. Marianne Meed Ward was elected Mayor, Angelo Bentivegna, Kelvin Galbraith, Rory Nisan, Lisa Kearns and Shawna Stolte were elected to council for the first time.

Full council

Paul Sharman was re-elected – he wasn’t certain that he was going to pull it off – but he did.

Mayor Meed Ward

Minutes before the Chain of Office was placed on her shoulders in December of 2018

Meed Ward has certainly made her mark during this first two years as Mayor. She has and is moving the needle.

The Gazette will report in depth on how each of the newly elected have done now that they are at the half way point and their minds get turned to re-election or deciding that being a council member isn’t everything they thought it was going to be.

It is certainly a harder job than any of the five new members thought it was going to be.

Some have grown into the job, for others it’s clear they shouldn’t be there.

There have been some surprises – the job is clearly a calling for them.

COVID-19 hasn’t helped these people adjust to the job.  There is still a little trying to figure out just what they can do and what they can’t do as members of Council when a lot of the decision making is in the hands of the City Manager and senior staff.

This Friday the five newbies deserve congratulations – they have worked hard; they have struggled and they are learning.
Mayor Meed Ward is, for the most part, doing what she said she would do. There are parts of her promise she may not be able to keep but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Like the five newbies she is adjusting to a role she has thirsted for, fought for and won.

Much to her chagrin she has found that some of her colleagues are not looking to her for the leadership she would like to provide. In the municipal world the Mayor is just one vote with a bully pulpit along with some bling.

The money is decent, more than most of the members of this council have ever earned in their lives.

The newbies have power; they can make things happen.

Power often does funny things to people; it tends to eat into whatever humility they had before they took the oath.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

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The steak was great - the brownie was 'heavenly': Turtle Jack's had a full covid-level house - there was a reason for that

By Michele Bogle
October 21st, 2020
BURLINGTON, ONTARIO

Originating in Ontario in 1992, two of Turtle Jack’s franchised locations are conveniently located at either end of Burlington. One located at the Mapleview Mall at Maple Ave and Fairview St; and the other at Appleby and Ironstone giving you the convenience of not having to travel far to this popular fine-dining eatery.

Taste Oct 18 Turtle Jack'sThis may be a chain of commercial restaurants but it doesn’t compromise when it comes to quality food and flavours. The decor is trendy and lighting is low for a stylish, yet inviting setting.

Of course, everyone donned a mask, both staff and patrons – evident when entering. There are direction markers on the floor in an effort to avoid close contact while moving within the restaurant. Much of their seating are booths and cannot be moved; temporary plexiglass partitions were erected in between them. No reservation is required for small groups when contact information is typically gathered, but rather it’s collected, at the door. Standard practices seemed to be in place; the tables weren’t pre-set.

Although it was a Saturday night, there was no evidence that the Appleby location was suffering from a decline in patronage. At 6:30 Turtle Jack’s was at full capacity, adhering to the new guidelines of safely spaced seating, and a two metre spaced lineup developed at the door.

There was a family of ‘energetic’ people with resounding voices seated near to us. The General Manager asked if we were at all bothered. Another time my answer may have been different, but today I was quite happy to hear the sounds of ‘life’ in an otherwise quieted environment of late.

Even having looked ahead at the Pre-Fixe Taste of Burlington Menu for Turtle Jack’s, I was still undecided when I arrived. Their three course menu choices, exclusive to this dining event, all looked entirely too delicious to pick just one from each course offered. I really wanted to try the ‘Seafood Chowder’, therefore reluctantly eliminated the blackened bass from my entree choice. My son chose the ‘4 Cheese Cajun Chicken Penne’, so I knew that I’d get to sample a little; and happily landed on the steak.

Taste Oct 18 soup

I really wanted to try the Seafood Chowder – it did not disappoint.

The seafood chowder has a blend of flavours that hits your palate in the most delightful way. While just the right serving size as an appetizer, it left me wanting more.

Taste Oct 18 steak

Steak that passed my touch test.

My family, well aware that I avoid ordering steak anywhere because of the exhausting disappointment expressed when the temperature of my steak is wrong. I had noticed them shoot one of those glances that expressed concern over my choice. I hadn’t ordered steak in some time and after tasting the well-balanced blend of flavours in the chowder, I thought I’d give this restaurant the heavy task of impressing me.

The presentation for me, is a great part of the sensory preparation for what is about to be enjoyed. On paper, I had ordered steak and potatoes. Quite straight forward. The plating of my “Certified Angus Beef 8OZ Top Sirloin” was 5-star quality. On my plate was a pillow of fluffy mashed potatoes with just the right amount of salt added; crisp sauteed green beans and mushrooms; then in the centre a perfectly-sized steak with a medium-rare cook that I just knew by looking, as well gestured with great approval when doing the finger touch and it sprung back; adorned with evenly cut, buttermilk-dipped onion strings. It’s quite easy to destroy a steak.

My tastebuds rejoiced at the ‘sight’ of this dish. When the General Manager came around to ask how everything was, I was quite pleased to respond with, “perfect’ followed by the sounds of my family unanimously exhaling, then resuming their conversation. The seasonings worked well together. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

Taste Oct 18 pasta

Cheese Cajun Chicken Penne

The ‘4 Cheese Cajun Chicken Penne’ is always going to be a palate-pleaser if you’re a cheese lover. The combination of cheeses: Asiago, mozzarella, cheddar and feta produced a very satisfying flavour combination. What was remarkable to me was the presence of cheddar that I could taste. It usually takes a back seat to the other flavourful cheeses, but I loved it! It was made with quality Barilla pasta; complemented with a tender piece of blackened chicken.

Taste Oct 18 brownie

Heavenly brownie covered w/ a layer of caramel & chocolate caramel mousse.

We moved on to the dessert, all of us ordering the ‘Turtle Pie’. Here is the restaurant’s description: “Heavenly brownie covered w/a layer of caramel & chocolate caramel mousse. Sprinkled w/walnuts & chocolate flakes.” First of all, the plating was beautiful. This dessert isn’t at all brownie-like. What I tasted was a slice of chocolate mousse that was exquisitely silky smooth, not too sweet. The drizzle of caramel was the right amount to complement this dessert. While the sprinkling of walnut pieces was present, I was captivated by the silkiness of the mousse.

During the course of the time spent at Turtle Jack’s, we had gaps when our server wasn’t present and would have made mention while there if it wasn’t for the General Manager who filled in those moments when we were looking for service, in a timely manner. I have never dined at Turtle Jack’s before last night, but I’d return. I give the food ‘3-thumbs up’.

For more information on the Pre-Fixe menu options during this dining event that ends on October 25, 2020, please check the Taste of Burlington website for more details. https://tasteofburlington.ca/prix-fixe-program/. Remember to sign up for the Taste of Burlington Passport to make menu selections from the app, paperless. The more you check-in from the app, the more chances you have of winning the weekly gift certificate giveaway and eligible for the grand prize of a $500 gift card to a restaurant of choice. This is useful for family gatherings now that the holidays are approaching.

Turtle Jack’s
1900 Appleby Line , Burlington, L7L 6A1
289-288-0390

OR

Turtle Jack’s
900 Maple Avenue Mapleview Centre, Burlington, L7L 6A1
289-288-0484

Michele BogleMichele Bogle is a Burlington resident who writes for the Gazette on community issues. Ms Bogle has taken part in the Food Network for the second year in a row to audition for the ‘Great Chocolate Showdown’ 2020 and 2021. She made it to the second stage of auditions for ‘Wall of Chefs’ 2019 and finished top 1% of auditions last year for ‘The Great Canadian Baking Show’.

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