Is this what they meant by intensification? Council members felt blind sided

By Pepper Parr

July 22, 2022



Lisa Kearns Councillor for ward 2 holds regular ward level meetings.

It is something she has always done and does better than anyone else.

I wasn’t able to attend the meeting she held earlier this week but her very able assistant was kind enough to send mt the presentation Lisa was working from – Lisa does intense presentations.

As I was flipping through the pages, which weren’t number, one page slipped out of my hand – picked it up and saw numbers that stunned me.

The graphic Kearns presented to her ward was related to a report that came to Council July 5th – my transcribing service didn’t get everything and I was planning on getting back to it.

It was a Receive and File report that stunned all the Councillors.

The graphic, set out below, showed where the high rise towers would be in the Burlington MTSA, an area that surrounds the Burlington GO station area where a significant amount of height was expected.

Look very carefully at all those 45 numbers. Are these going to be residential towers or office towers? If residential – is this what Burlington is going to become?

Look carefully, there are six towers either side of the GO tracks – all are showing 45 storeys.

Where did that come from?

When 30 storeys was mentioned back in 2028, for that Burlington GO station area a lot of eyebrows were raised. Was that necessary – the city has to undergo intensification but 30 was seen as a bit much.

In an interview Kearns said she, along with the rest of Council were “blind sided” which is hard to accept – Councillors get these reports 10 days before they are presented publicly.

“What changed” asked Kearns?

Index for the 2028 graphic

In 2018 the public saw the graphic above, which is significantly different than the graphic council debated last week.

While the report was just a Receive and File Kearns did move a motion that required the:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to re-examine the Burlington GO Central Precinct with respect to requirements related to achieving maximum height permissions on a given site, alongside the provision of community amenities, affordable housing and community facilities commensurate with those maximum height permissions and the supporting policies and policy directions.

Kearns was not able to say when the report would come back to Council; not likely before the election in October.

Kearns was adamant that whatever gets built it “cannot change the quality of life for the people who live in the city.”

This is an issue that needs more attention.

Kearns drew attention to the staff members:

Alison Enns, Manager of Policy and Community,

Jenna Puletto, Coordinator of Community Initiatives

Samantha Romlewski, Senior Planner, Community Initiatives

Karyn Poad,Senior Planner

Rebecca Lau, Planner – Community Initiatives

leaving the clear impression with me that she wanted this group to be reined in and telling council much more than they are hearing at this point.

Kearns who advised the public that she had contracted Covid19 and while the symptoms are gone it “takes longer than you expect to recover completely.

“The virus wrecks havoc on your body, I’m still dealing with small issues.”

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Communications department: a filter that controls media access to senior staff

By Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2022



Part 2 of a series

In the news game reporters have what they call sources.

They are frequently people working in a city hall department or someone in the private sector who can explain a complex document, process or procedure.

Mutual in trust is usually in place.

Each year during budget time calls would get made to the people working on different parts of a budget – a list of the reserves was always an issue.

The amount of money that was budgeted in a year but didn’t get spent often got placed in reserve budget which was often referred to the piggy bank and used by council members for favourite projects.

More often than not there were follow up questions to the experts; with both people on the line a clearer understanding of what are often complex issues is gained.

One of the more challenging was Development Charges – a contentious category for everyone.

Up until very recently Burlington was recovering less than 70% of what they spent handling development application work. It took a couple of expensive reports from consultants, and in the most recent set of discussion, long meetings with BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) and the West End Home Builders Association before a final figure was arrived at.

Development charges are very difficult to explain and at the same time a very significant part of the cost of buying a house that is under construction. Those development charges are all added to the cost of the residence.

Not something the average person fully understands.

Reporters have to wade through thick documents, try to understand the contents and the follow up with staff members.

That kind of thing is done at every newspaper, on line or print, in the country.

But that is not the way it works in Burlington.

Former City Manager James Ridge – fairly described as media adverse

The change began during the last years of the former City Manager James Ridge administration.  What started in about 2016 is maintained by the current City Manager Tim Commisso.

Donna Kell was the communications coordinator at the time. Kwab Ako-Adjei was hired by Ridge and the game slowly changed.

Ako-AdjeiKwab gave Kell the chance to develop her career somewhere else

In a mature, professional organization Ako-Adjei would have reached out to the media and made a point of meeting the player’s and talked about how the two (media and administration) could best do their jobs. Access is the most important thing for media.

I first met Ako-Adjei at an event at the Waterfront Hotel – chatted for less than a minute; I was able to have a longer conversation several months later.

What we began to experience with Ako-Adjei and his staff was when we made a call to a staff member they would either tell us we had to call the communications department or if we reached out by email we would get a reply from one of the communications people who would ask what our questions was – they go away and come back with an answer.

None of the people who serve as communications staff have formal training in journalism or any work experience in journalism.

Most of them have a designation as a public relations specialist.

Public relations is in place to do everything possible to get out the story a corporation wants to get out and where there is a kaflooey, limit the damage and say as little as possible.

I want to share our most recent experience with access. It goes like this.

Sue Connor is the Director of Transit. She came to Burlington with an incredible reputation. The city was lucky to get her.  She is seen and respected as a strong voice on the conversion of transit out of diesel into batteries or H20.

She takes part in the proceedings of CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) a solution based consulting company; leaders in the field.

We reached out to Sue asking if we could talk about the views she would be taking to the CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) conference which was taking place about a week or so later.

Sue Connor – An Executive Director and Director of Transit for Burlington.

Our interest was in Sue Connor as a respected leader in the move from diesel to a less climate damaging source of energy.  She is a solid manager who runs one of the happiest, nicest places in the city to work

We got a call from the city communications people who asked what we wanted to ask Conner.

We explained that the event was not a city event and that Connor was attending the conference as an individual and not someone representing Burlington Transit.

Conner had advised the City Manager earlier in the month that she would retire at the end of the year. Shortly after that announcement Connor was elevated to the position of Executive Director filling the gap that was created when Heather MacDonald retired.

The end result was there was no interview with Sue Connor – which is unfortunate – she is one of the best on the ground thinkers in the transit business in the country and also ran one of the best operated departments in the city.

Policy and practice related to media come straight from the City Manager. While Ako-Adjei, has his finger prints all over every bit of information that comes out of city hall; he reports directly to Commisso.

Kwab Ako-Adjei

Kwab Ako-Adjei is leading an initiative known as One Burlington – it is there to polish the brand.

This is not a healthy situation and has to a considerable degree lessened the amount of information that gets through to the public

We are not the only people struggling with the communications department – several members of the very divided city Council have similar issues.

There is a link, not too difficult to find, between the messy Integrity Commissioners report that was really all about citizen access to information and the control everything communications department.

The root of all this is the office of the City Manager.

The City Manager gets his marching orders from City Council and this council is not going to lift a finger to bring about a change in the way city hall works with media

There are options that I will talk about in the future.

Part 1 of the series

The above are the 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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It's a matter of trust and competency - not much of it around this past couple of weeks

By Pepper Parr

April 26th 2022



Reports that are going to Council meeting as a Standing Committee are always published about 10 days before the meeting.

The report on the comments from a Closed Meeting Investigation were put on the city web site sometime after 7:00 pm on Friday.  Bad optics but optics are no longer a concern for this council or this administration.

The respected law firm, Aird and Berlis were brought in because someone filed a request with the city Clerk asking for an investigation – basically to determine if the city was following the rules about going into a Closes session.

The four dates that were investigated related to those occasions when the Integrity Commissioner was asked by Councillors Nisan and Galbraith to determine of Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct.

Few would argue that she did not – she certainly did and has accepted the consequences of her decision.

What the public wants to know is – did the city tell its citizens enough about why they went into CLosed and what they talked about during the meetings.

The Integrity commented that the could improve on what it tells the public.

The public will get an answer to that question; it may not be as fulsome as they expected and would like to see.

In their report Air & Berlus conclude that on each of the four occasions complaints were based on the city met the rules as set out in the Municipal Act – and they site chapter and verse to back up their conclusions.

It goes before Council on May 4th as a Receive and File Report .  All Aird and Berlis were asked to do is advise on whether or not they had the right to go into Closed.

Getting that answer, which we already know has cost the taxpayers $15,000.

Marianne Meed Ward in September of 2018 asking the public to trust her

During the discussion on the Integrity Commissions report Councillor Galbraith made this statement.  He said Staff can submit a report and ask that it be discussed in a Closed session of Council.  He added that it is Council that determines whether or not they actually go into Closed.  They have to vote on that – each time.

Burlington’s city council is beginning to look foolish, incompetent and lacking a clear sense of direction.

Mayor Meed Ward said in a lengthy Statement she released on her tweet account that trust in this council has to be maintained.  She could not have been more right.

In the 2014 election Marianne Meed Ward asked citizens not for their vote – but for their trust.  And they gave it to her and were impressed enough to make her Mayor.

She has lost that trust – the skills. the integrity and the spunk to win it back do not appear to exist.

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 news game and how it sort of works in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2022


Part 1 of a series

Media has always had a role to play in the way a public is informed.

Like any commercial sector, and media is a commercial sector, it has had it low points and its high points.

Media brought about the downfall of US President Richard Nixon when the Watergate story was told.

Media failed terribly, and to some degree is still failing, in the United States with the way it reported on and failed to report on Donald Trump.

Media has excelled with its reporting on the war in Ukraine and how different countries around the world have responded. That the South Africans have gone mute is more than disappointing.

The way in which media reported on the tragic death of Princess Diana and the response from the Royal Family changed the way the British public reacts to their monarchy – that institution is undergoing a tectonic level shift and may not exist at all a few decades from now.

The advent of the internet stripped away the revenue base of print media, many have just sold their presses and disappeared.

Online newspapers began to appear.

The Gazette came into being when a group was trying to establish a radio station for Burlington, not being fully aware of how complicated it is to get a license to broadcast over the public air waves.

I was asked to help with the writing of a business plan and convinced those involved that a radio license was not possible but there was an opportunity for an online newspaper.

At about that time, ten years ago, John Boich and Walter Mulkewich co-authored Shape Burlington which took serious exception at the way city hall handed out information and advocated for public support for a new newspaper.

Shape Burlington cracked the ice that was blocking so much information but it didn’t open the flood gates.

The Gazette grew organically – take that to mean slowly. We covered the building of the Pier and covered the attempt on the part of the owners of the Air Park who were secretly dumping tonnes of fill on land without the proper licenses with the intention of creating more runway.

It took several years of court cases, a libel suit against the Gazette and two citizens before the Air Park owners threw in the towel

Eventually the courts cases ended and the Air Park owners decided they had had enough and walked away from the libel suit as well.

The Gazette was the first online newspaper to be accepted as member of the Ontario Press Council – an organization that became the National Newsmedia Council

Media matters.

Fully understanding just what it is and how the different players are expected to play the game is a different story in Burlington.

The Gazette has worked with five different city managers. The relationship with three of the five worked well.

It was my practice to reach out to a new city manager, do an interview and help where I could as they settled into the city. Jeff Fielding was a dinner guest at my home; I took him to the top of Mt Nemo – he was amazed.

The other guy from the Region

James Ridge: Ten years in the Canadian Army in the Discipline side of the service where he attained the rank of Major were not the ideal background for a job that calls for collaboration and an ability to accept different points of view.

James Ridge was different. That first call to him in Vancouver went well enough; he talked about his dogs and the plans he had for he and his wife to drive across the country while their furniture followed in a moving van – for which the city paid. That is a common practice.

Before Ridge left Burlington he banned me from attending at City Hall on two occasions – one was a life time ban.

The reasons for the banning was set out in documents that I have yet to see. There is litigation. More on that at another time.

When Tim Commisso was hired, first as an interim City Manager and then hired as THE City Manager the relationship was iffy but reasonable.

Tim Commisso had years of experience on the administrative side of the city before he went to Thunder Bay – then returned to Burlington to become the city manager..

I have never met Tim Commisso.

Traditionally media and administration meet personally to exchange greetings, get the measure of each other and set out the rules each intends to follow.  Being the senior level Commisso was the one to do the inviting.

My approach has always been to make sure that those I deal with, elected or appointed, understand that I am not there to be there friend. I am there to hold them accountable and do what I can to ensure that everything is transparent.

Given the current mess where a member of Council is the subject of an Integrity Commissioner report that recommends she be docked five days’ pay I am not sure I can say that we are doing just fine with the matter of transparency and accountability.

One perseveres.

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Council decides not to seek a review of Ontario Land Tribunal Ruling on 2069-2079 Lakeshore Rd

By Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2021



It was a hard decision to accept and one that will have an impact on the way the city develops in the months ahead.

The city decision not to seek a review of or appeal from, the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decision of October 27, 2021.

“Council is disappointed and continues to disagree with the Tribunal’s decision, however, Council has determined that the most effective course of action is to focus its time and resources on pushing forward with the approval of the City’s new Official Plan, which is currently under appeal at the Tribunal.

“Once the new Official Plan has been approved, Council expects to be in a stronger position to require that significant growth occur only in the areas of the City that Council has planned for such growth.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward n her city hall office

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward issued a statement saying: “I know this will be very disappointing news to residents who wanted us to challenge this decision. Council deeply considered all options and the best long-term interests of the community in making this difficult decision. I know that all of council will continue to do what we collectively believe is best to protect our community’s interests and vision for the downtown now and for the future. We also know the Minister’s decision and its effect in grandfathering certain applications as not subject to the adjustment of the Urban Growth Centre boundaries downtown has made our task more challenging. But we will continue to advocate that the vision of our staff, council and the community as outlined in our city and regional official plans, and in provincial decisions, be respected by developers and be considered at hearings before the Ontario Lands Tribunal.”

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns added her comments: “I assure community members that the commitment to advocate and advance our downtown planning vision and values remains steadfast. Planning matters that far exceed the planning vision for downtown and especially the waterfront continue to be an incredible concern amongst residents city-wide. We know the community expects Council to take the time to do the additional diligence that examines legal options to lessen impacts of the unfavorable decision delivered by the Ontario Land Tribunal for 29 storeys at Lakeshore Road and Pearl Street. So at this time, the best path forward for our community is focusing on having our new Official Plan in place. We look forward to defending and implementing our new Official Plan, so we can properly manage the growth in our downtown and beyond.”
What is probably needed most is a pause and time to think through what the city is really up against.

The south side of Lakeshore Road may now become a concrete jungle.

The threat to the future of the land known as the football is very real.

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We have a Mayor who does not walk her talk - ducks the opportunity to support local news

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 17th, 2021



Tuesday afternoon, tomorrow,  Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will take her seat in Council Chambers as Chair of a meeting of city council.

Along with her is the City Clerk, the audio visual technician – who should be referred to as the magician given the way he manages to keep the video feed stable. It is no small matter.

Part of getting a Council meeting underway is to read a land acknowledgement and to read out any proclamations that are to be made.

The following are the proclamations that are to apply for this meeting of Council


Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism: May 10, 2021

Apraxia Awareness Day: May 14, 2021

National Public Works Week: May 16 – 22, 202

National AccessAbility Week: May 30 – June 5, 2021

World Sickle Cell Day: June 19, 2021

Senior Volunteer Appreciation Week: June 1-8, 2021

Hidradenitis Suppurative (HS) Awareness Week: June 7 – 13, 2021

Month of Play: June 2021

National Indigenous History Month: June 2021

National Deaf/blind Awareness Month: June 2021

Pride Month: June 2021

Her Worship speaks frequently about her 22 years as a journalist and when there were people in the council chamber the Mayor would acknowledge the presence of media.

One would have thought that the Mayor would have chosen to recognize the National News Media week and take up the opportunity to support local news media.

A web site organized by a group of senior journalists with the humorous name inkstainedwretches took on the task of asking municipalities across the country to support local news.  The “wretches” are asking Canadian municipalities to pass a journalism-support resolution between May 3, 2021 and Canada Day.

The petition read:

Given that the creation and distribution of reliable information is crucial for our individual and collective well-being, democracy and civil society;

Given the point to which digital platforms have evolved during the past decade has severely damaged an ecosystem that enables news outlets to provide reliable information (the damage is evident from the number of established news media outlets that closed or merged in Canada since 2008, and has become more critical due to the novel coronavirus pandemic).

We encourage our elected leaders to enact legislation to shape an ecosystem that supports one of the crucial foundations of a functioning democracy: reliable, local journalism.

The following is a lost of all the municipalities that passed a resolution of support to date – look as hard as you may – Burlington is not in the list.

    City of Winnipeg, Man. (April 29, 2021)

    City of Kamloops, BC (April 20, 2021)

    City of London, ON (April 13, 2021)

    Chatham-Kent, ON ( April 12, 2021)

    City of St. John’s, NL (April 5, 2021)

    City of Prince George, BC (March 22, 2021)

    City of Toronto, ON (March 10, 2021)

    Town of Saugeen Shores, ON (Nov. 23, 2020)

    District of Tofino, BC (Oct. 27, 2020)

    City of Kitchener, ON (Sept. 14, 2020)

    Town of Essex, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    Town of LaSalle, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    City of Cambridge, ON (Sept. 8, 2020)

    City of Kingston, ON (Sept. 1, 2020)

    City of Windsor, ON (Aug. 24, 2020)

    City of Hamilton, ON (July 17, 2020)

    Township of Wellesley, ON (June 30, 2020)

    Township of Woolwich, ON (June 23, 2020)

    Township of North Dumfries, ON (June 22, 2020)

    Township of Wilmot, ON (June 22, 2020)

    City of Waterloo, ON (June 22, 2020)

    Region of Waterloo, ON (June 3, 2020)

While quick to talk about the importance of the media Mayor Meed Ward has yet to hold a press conference since donning the Chain of Office.  Requests to her office for a comment on an issue results in someone from the communications department who ask what it is we want to know.  The Mayor has a full time communications operative working for her.

The Gazette has served the city for ten years. Before becoming Mayor there were numerous interviews with Marianne Meed Ward; nothing since taking the Oath of Office.

Her Worship might surprise us all and produce a resolution before Canada Day.

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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Mayor succeeds in keeping the budget below 3%

Budget 2018 ICONBy Pepper Parr

February 28th, 2019



The tax increase for the 2019 budget will be 2.99%.

They did it.

Moment she became Mayor

Marianne Meed Ward – just sworn in as Mayor. And today she got her first budget approved.

The Operations budget is set at $165,960,609.

The Fire Chief didn’t get his $50,000 drone but the Manager/Supervisor of the bylaw enforcement team did get $35,000 for a car.

There were some incredible decisions made – those people who live below the poverty line are going to be able to get bus passes that will allow them to use transit totally free of charge.

More detail later today – council is getting ready to wind up – talking through some Staff Directions they would like staff to work at and think about.

We have a Mayor who worked hard to bring her colleagues with her and challenged staff to look at the way funds are used differently.

The decision made at the Standing Committee is just a recommendation – it can be changed at the city council meeting at the end of March.

Council without mayor

A new council produced a budget that will surprise man.


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Developer wanting to build a 29 storey Tower on Lakeshore Road gets a Rough Ride at Public Meeting

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young

January 31st, 2019



On Tuesday night  last week, I attended the Public Information Session for the Carriage Gate Development at 2069-2079 Lakeshore Rd. and 383-385 Pearl St.

Pearl and Lakeshore

Proposed 29 storey development will be kitty corner to the 22 storey Bridgewater development now under construction.

The proposed building is at Pearl and Lakeshore sharing the block with the ADI 26 storey building that was imposed on the city by the old OMB. Carriage Gate are seeking amendments to the Official Plan and zoning bylaws to allow 29 storeys in an area zoned for 4 (8 with permissions) It will have 280 residential units and 675 square metres of commercial space.

It will only have 280 parking spaces for residents and 11 visitor/retail parking spaces. Existing zoning requires 500. Setbacks are reduced from 2 meters to zero.

The developer suggested that the 26 storey building approved next door and others on Brant St. serve as a precedent. It was pointed out from the floor that the 26 storeys was imposed by the OMB and never actually approved.

It was obvious from the presentation, and introduction by City planning Staff, that the Official Plan rejected by the region and under review by city council, is still being referred to by both the developer and city planning staff.


The Nautique, in the same block as the proposed Carriage Gate development has the approvals it needs. Testing to determine where the water table is being done – five levels of parking are proposed.

Citizens voiced concerns about the traffic this development will bring, particularly during rush hours, the lack of parking provided for owners and retail customers and the need to back trucks up to the service entrance on Pearl Street. Assurances that lakeshore would not be narrowed during construction were not forthcoming. Many of the city planning and developers comments were met with laughter or anger.


Described as a “legacy” development when it was proposed back in 1985 – the Bridgewater will become the best hotel the city has – until the Waterfront Hotel gets redeveloped.

Asked if they really think about the impact on people or how disrespectful of citizens and council their proposal to build a 29-storey building in a 4 storey zone is, the developer’s representatives declined to reply. This brought derisive applause from those present. When one attendee asked for a show of hands from the audience there was not one hand raised in favour.

After the meeting I got an email from another concerned citizen. He fears that the height precedent was already established by the OMB decision on the adjacent ADI development no matter which OP is used. He wondered if the bedroom sizes, parking space allocation and minimum tall building footprint sizes would meet approval standards in Toronto or even Hong Kong. He was only half joking. He voiced concern about the huge gulf in understanding of what the process is and how best the public can present counter proposals.

That’s where the public expect their mayor and councilors to step up. People have a hard time understanding why city planners work hand in hand with developers to implement an amendment for 29 storeys that is so far higher than the Official Plan “In force and effect” which allows only 4, and why they still consider a plan reviled by citizens, rejected by the region and under review by council for significant changes.

Members of the public fear that city planners are being strung along; debating an amendment that should be rejected out of hand, eating up city planning time and expense while running out the clock on the 210 days the city has to respond to developers. When that time runs out the developers simply appeal to LPAT leaving the city in a position they cannot defend and looking foolish when the LPAT rules in the developers favour.

Kearns Dewc meeting

Councilor Kearns seemed skeptical, but reserved comment until she has time to consider the whole proposal. The Councilor has known about the proposal for more than a month.

Mayor Meed Ward, Ward Councilor Kearns, Councilors Nisan and Bentivegna attended the meeting. Councilor Kearns seemed skeptical, but reserved comment until she has time to consider the whole proposal, Mayor Meed Ward advised the audience, the developers and, indirectly, city planners; that a motion is coming to direct planning staff to only consider the “in effect” official plan and not the regionally rejected one.

Following similar outrage at the Public Meeting on the Proposed Development at 1157-1171 North Shore Blvd and a Councillors Workshop on The Planning Process, I reached out to Councillor Galbraith, Deputy City Manager Mary Lou Tanner and Planning Director Heather MacDonald to ask that a similar workshop on the process be held for interested citizens to help avoid this conflict. I received positive responses from Councilor Galbraith and Ms. Tanner. I am still waiting for Ms. MacDonald. Must I wait 210 days then appeal to LPAT?

Jim Young is an Aldershot resident who delegates frequently at city hall.  He is a member of a city Advisory Committee.

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The old order changes ....

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2018



The old order changeth.

This evening a new city council will be sworn in: five of the seven member council will not be returning – two retired and three were defeated.

Burlington City Council Group

Just two left standing

We can’t find anyone who remembers seeing anything like this in Burlington’s history.

The Mayor was defeated, replaced by ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

Councillors Dennison and Lancaster were also defeated.

Councillors Craven and Taylor retired.

Two issues dominated the election: the approving of an Official Plan that did not have wide public support and the demand for a change in the way city council engaged the public – failed to effectively respect people who delegated at city council is a better way to put it – and the lack of acceptable public engagement.

The distance between council and staff and the public made itself painfully evident in the remarks made at the final meeting of the current city council when Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner commented on the outgoing council and its working relationship with Staff.

City Manager James Ridge was absent.

Tanner spoke of the excellent, professional way that Staff and Council were able to work together. Saying a strong positive relationship existed doesn’t mean it did.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

The contribution made by Councillors Craven and Taylor deserve comment: Plains Road is a different place today than it was when Rick Craven was first elected. And the developments taking place in the community are an improvement over what was in place when he got there.

Craven didn’t have the best of relationships with sectors of his ward; the Beachway people wish he had never been elected. A number of people don’t think he understood the mix that was needed along Plans Road.
He could never come to terms with Marianne Meed Ward who ran against him in ward 1 – he prevailed and Meed Ward moved into ward 2.

There is the suggestion that Rick Craven just could not live with the idea that he would have to work with Meed Ward on her terms. Some have suggested that is a large part of why he chose not to run for another term. Had he run he would have taken more than 50% of the votes.

The piece that he wrote and made public about Meed Ward was regrettable.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMAster jacket would ward off some negative comment. Don't think it did - every member of Council had their ears bent by the 125 people who showed up at the Mainway Arena SAturday afternoon.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMaster jacket would ward off some negative comment.

There will be more tall buildings but nothing any higher than the Drewlo Development that lost its building permit for a period of time when the played fast and loose with the development that had been approved.
Developers found they could work with Rick Craven. Did he compromise himself in doing so. One would be very hard pressed to point to anything that was just plain wrong in the ward.

Craven was tireless in his efforts to make sure that Aldershot was not forgotten. He has superb relationships with Staff.

He was the best chair of a Standing Committee this city has seen in some time. Yes, he was abrupt even dismissive at times but he kept the agenda going.

Publicly there was nothing touchy feely about Tick Craven. All business.

Privately he could be a funny.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

He once told this reporter as we sat outside the Council Chamber at Conservation Halton that he had thought about running for Mayor.

He took a serious look at running for the provincial seat as a Liberal. Sandra Pupatello was a little too much for his taste.

Craven was usually able to take the long view and see the bigger picture – where he fell short was in explaining that bigger picture to people.

Craven is now, officially, a senior citizen. He isn’t going to sit at home and read old city council agendas. He will be a valued observer and hopefully he will tune in with comments from time to time.

There has been word that he will join one of the development organizations in the province.


Taylor was always a careful listener

John Taylor, the Dean of City Council, found that the job was getting harder and harder to do. Keeping up was proving difficult and he had the strength to realize that it was time to move on. For John Taylor the moving on is not going to be as smooth.

He will miss the people at city hall; his job as a Councillor was his life.

He was one of the true liberal voices on council and always went more than the last mile to solve a problem for a constituent.

He was probably working the telephones in the forenoon while his assistant packed up his papers for him.

Taylor wants to stay involved, has his eye on a specific appointment that he will get.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

If the public was in the room – so was John Taylor – listening carefully.

He has a huge store of knowledge, he was there when the big decisions were made.

He could be cranky at times but for the most part he was genial, available and he cared.

He worked for the rural people in the North West side of the city. The provincial plans for a highway that would run through Kilbride and Lowville was not going to happen while John was the ward 3 council member.

He was the rural voice on council. His constituents loved him; community meetings in his ward were more like family get togethers.

The three members of council that were defeated at the ballot box had failed to connect with the public. Rick Goldring just didn’t hear what the vocal groups had to say. He will never be forgiven for selling that part of the waterfront between Market and St. Paul Street.

Dennison - second house

The house on the right was built when Jack Dennison to an appeal to a Committee of Adjustment decision to the Ontario Municipal Board and won.

Blair Lancaster should perhaps not have run; health issues were making it difficult for her to do the job.

Jack Dennison was able to stay in office because the number of voters on the ballot allowed him to split the vote. This time there was just the one candidate running against him and she did very well.

The house that Dennison built on the severed piece of the Lakeshore Road is up for sale; the house next door with the historical designation has been rented.

In his closing remarks Dennison said: “See you around”. Wonder where he will live?

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Ward 1 all candidate debate fills the Aldershot East Plains United church.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2018



The last of the ward level debates that have been organized by ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington, took place last night at the East Plains United Church.

Audiende at the entrance

Locking the doors didin’t help – people just kept coming in through a side door.

The number of people who wanted to get in was so big that the doors to the building were locked; Didn’t matter. Here is what one of the ECoB helpers had to say.

Attentive crowd with bio sheets

The audience was riveted at times and used the sheet with the short bios to follow who was sating what.

“Well that was one for the books.

“People were banging on the locked doors demanding to be let in !

“Other people came in a different way and then went to the locked doors and opened them for them.

“We gave up.

“Who would have thought that East Plains United Church would have been the “IN”
place to be tonight.”

It was packed. And it was a good debate.

There was one comment that defined the community. “No one who lives in Aldershot ever says they live in Burlington.”

It was a fun debate. The candidates were serious, no one got booed and there was a sense of humour that was in place throughout the evening.

ECoB arranged for the debate to be videoed – The link to that debate is HERE.

The Gazette will report on the debate at length during the evening.

The candidates

The stage wasn’t wide enough to squeeze in al the candidates. The 11 performed well.

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City knocked a 24 story proposal down to 17 - developer takes that decision to LPAT

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 11, 2018


This one doesn’t come as a surprise.

Reserve Properties is appealing City Council’s approval of an 18 storey building opposite City Hall. The site encompasses the entire block from Brant and James to John St., including Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, two restaurants, a jeweller, and a former furniture store.


The two historical properties, what is now Kelly’s Bake Shoppe on the left and the jewelers on the right were to be part of the final development.

Last November, council approved a 24 storey tower on the opposite corner of Brant and James.

The appeal seeks similar consideration.

Mayoralty candidate Marianne Meed Ward said in her newsletter that the 24 storey building is double the allowed heights on one of the assembled lots (12 storeys, due to an earlier Ontario Municipal Board decision), three to four times the allowed amount on the balance of the assembled lots (four to eight storeys) and even higher than the 17 storeys proposed in the new Official Plan (which isn’t yet approved by Halton Region, therefore not in force and effect).

The 17 storey building is two to four times the existing Official Plan (four to eight storeys), and matches the new (unapproved) Official Plan permissions here added Meed Ward.

The applicant had a pre-consultation with staff about the project in December as the new Official Plan for the downtown was being discussed over a series of public committee and council meetings. The application was filed in January. The new Official Plan was adopted 6-1 in April

Meed Ward maintains that “City council opened the door for this appeal when it approved the 24 storey building across the street. It is not surprising that the developer is seeking the same treatment for the other side of the street.”

Looking north from Queens Head

Revenue Properties took the council decision to the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal

Meed Ward, who did not vote for either tower, she said she would have supported projects in keeping with the existing Official Plan for low to mid-rise here, which is appropriate and accommodates growth while being respectful of the character and infrastructure downtown.

Reserve Properties begins a process that starts with a meeting to determine if the appeal Reserve Properties wants to make has merit.

Meed Ward argues that the height and density of both towers are excessive for Brant Street and that there is a reduction of overall commercial space by almost 70%

The towers will fundamentally alter the small-town feel and historic, low to mid rise character of this stretch of Brant Street.

The Delta Hotel will give the city some first class convention space that could radically change the way the city is seen by the small corporate convention community. Add the Performing Arts Centre to the portfolio and the city has a good offering. Now to put a team in place that could work with the Delta Hotel organization.. We don't have that in place today.

The Delta Hotel will give the city some first class convention space that could radically change the way the city is seen by the small corporate convention community. Add the Performing Arts Centre to the portfolio and the city has a good offering. Now to put a team in place that could work with the Delta Hotel organization.. We don’t have that in place today.

The argument as to how the city is to grow and how much of the small town feel that exists in some parts of the core has been going on since 1985 when the land the Bridgewater development is being built on now was first assembled. That development was at one point to be 30 storeys high and was on the edge of the lake.


The city took the OMB decision to an Administrative review Panel

With the north east corner of Brant already approved for 23 storeys the accepting of height in the downtown core is just a continuing exercise.

The ADI Group development on the corner of Martha and Lakeshore was approved by the OMB. That decision has been taken to an Administrative Review Panel – it has yet to be heard.

Just how much height is going to be permitted in the downtown core has become an election issue – come October residents get to choose what direction they want to see their city take.

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National Newsmedia Council statement

The Burlington Gazette is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.
When the Gazette was covering a meeting of the Halton District School Board we made an error and attributed a statement to one of the trustees from Milton when it was made by one of the trustees from Oakville. The two sit side by side during school board meetings. We corrected the error but not to the complete satisfaction of the trustee. The NNC requires the Gazette to publish their report on how they respond to a complaint. That report is set out below.

April 3 2018
The National NewsMedia Council has upheld a complaint about accuracy and errors correction in the Burlington Gazette.

The March 22 2018 article reported on a Halton District School Board meeting, where part of the discussion was about a new administration building.

The complainant, Kim Graves, stated that two statements in the article were untrue.

The first cited inaccuracy was that “The Oakville and Milton trustees didn’t like the distance they would have to drive to get to Board meetings if they continued to be held in Burlington”. No trustees were named in the article but Graves, a trustee from Milton, objected that she did not make that statement.
Graves said the second untrue statement is that trustees “are queasy” about discussing the new administration centre. She said the statement implied all trustees are queasy, and is untrue because she is not queasy about having the discussion.

In its response, The Burlington Gazette said it did not refuse to make a correction, but that it would review the three-hour video of the meeting web cast.

Subsequently, the news outlet published a correction stating that in an “earlier version of this news story we said that Milton trustee Kim Graves had complained about the distance she had to drive to get to school board meetings” and that it was the trustee beside her who made the comment.

That correction also stated “we said ‘… they were a little queasy about having this matter on the table…’. It would have been more correct to say that some were queasy.”

The complainant objected to the first part of the correction as inaccurate. She noted the original article did not name her as making a statement, but did incorrectly imply she made a statement.

Based on the above, Council upheld the complaint about an inaccurate statement. It also upheld the complaint about the correction, because it incorrectly conveyed the original statement and drew unwarranted attention to the complainant. It is worth noting that the original statement implied six trustees were of the same view, but the correction admitted to misattributing a comment to just one.

The complainant also raised questions about the news media’s approach to making a correction. While it is reasonable for the journalist to double check the audio video recording, and to ask for a quote on that or another issue, it is also the prerogative of the trustee or any other interviewee to decline to comment. A correction should not be contingent on providing a further quote.

The news outlet defended its request for further quotes, and stated it “wanted to see a statement that was clearer” than the complainant’s earlier comments.

As a general comment, Council noted that tension between the media and institutions is normal and part of the accountability dynamic of a healthy democracy. However, journalistic standards of accuracy, opportunity to respond, attribution, citing reliable sources, and willingness to make prompt and meaningful corrections are essential in a reputable media. Similarly, government and institutions have a role in allowing media access to information, and those in public office must expect a higher degree of scrutiny and less privacy than those individuals in private life.

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Having the courage of your convictions.

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2018



Maintaining the commentary section of an online newspaper takes up a lot of time.

We become liable for anything that is defamatory. There are a number of people that we have, from time to time, had to caution. There are three that have been invited to find some other place to make their comments.
We test each email address that is used by the person commenting. From time to time we get this kind of message:

This is the mail system at host

I’m sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. It’s attached below.

If you are a current customer of DreamHost, please contact our technical support team here

If you are not a customer please use our contact form at.

If you do so, please include this email in your support ticket. You can delete your own text from the attached returned message.

DreamHost Email Support
<>: host[] said: 550 5.5.0 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable. (in reply to RCPT TO command)

The email address was phony.

Here is what someone out there wanted to have published:

Always dumbfounded by such ridiculous commentary. Yes I mean from you William, Phillip and Penny. Your commentary is shameful. City staff and senior citizen volunteers receive an award for improving our community and the comments posted are so negative and hurtful. What have any of you done to make our city any better? Let’s celebrate our collective accomplishments and not be so quick to critisize hard working folks, especially senior volunteers! Great job City Staff and the Seniors Volunteer committee.


You actually wrote that?

We are dumbfounded – how stupid can you get. In saying what you had to say Patrick you did what you claimed others were doing; diminishing the really solid city staff – and there are many solid people working for the city. You reflect rather poorly on the people of the city. Shame on you.

We put our name on most of what we write. It would be nice to see you have the courage of your convictions.

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National Newsmedia Council upholds a complaint against the Gazette.

March 10th, 2018

The Burlington Gazette has been a member of the National NewsMedia Council for five years. We became members when it was the Ontario Press Council.

The Council is in place to ensure generally accepted journalistic practices are followed.

We disagree with the decision the Council made in their March 9th founding but as members we are obliged to publish their reports.

The Council decision is set out below.


nnc logo - just type

March 9, 2018 – For immediate release
2018-06 Ako-Adjei vs Burlington Gazette


The complainant, Kwabe Ako-Adjei, said the December 15 2017 Burlington Gazette article, “Major
organizational moves by the city manager seem to be out of focus”, contained inaccurate information.

He cited specific examples including errors in the reporting of a department re-organization and a staff change. He argued the errors could have been avoided with an email to city staff for verification. The complainant emailed the news organization a list of five points it felt were inaccurate and asked for a correction of the article.

The complainant also objected to the manner in which corrections were done, which was to append portions of the complainant’s email, in a different font colour, to the top of the article.

Subsequently, the complainant provided an example of an article that was critical of a city manager and published without giving the staffer opportunity to respond.

The Burlington Gazette responded by contacting NNC staff for clarification about the complaints. Staff stated a response should speak to the method of correction, and the reasons to seek verification of the information or not.

After three weeks with no further response from the news organization, NNC staff issued a warning that a recommendation would go ahead based on the information at hand.

At that point, the news organization responded with information detailing conflicts with municipal officials and expressing the opinion that city hall was trying to ‘shut down’ the Burlington Gazette.

The response also noted the publisher previously met with NNC staff for a discussion on journalistic standards about separating news from opinion in articles.

Finally, the Burlington Gazette suggested the complaint should be set aside until the publisher’s legal conflict with the city is settled.

On reviewing the complaint and related materials, the articles in question, and the news organization’s response, Council upheld the complaint about accuracy. The complainant, who is a city staff member, provided information that pointed to reporting errors. The publisher acknowledged one error and did not contradict others, nor did he defend his original material.

The complainant invited the publisher to call city hall to verify facts. There is no evidence that the publisher responded to those invitations. In contrast, the publisher stated that the city manager is trying to shut down the news organization.

In reviewing the article in question, the news organization failed to follow generally accepted journalistic practice for making corrections, which is to label the correction, state the correct material, and make clear what material it replaces. Council upheld this portion of the complaint.

Council found repeated instances in the submitted material where news and opinion were not adequately separated. The article in question was labeled both ‘News’ and ‘News Analysis’, which is not helpful in letting the reader know if news or opinion was being presented.

It was also evident that the news organization made liberal use of reported information without seeking verification, with qualifiers such as “according to people who were in the room”, and suppositions such as “appeared to have looked at Tanner in a manner that was uncomfortable to her”. Widely accepted journalistic standards require verification of fact, naming sources of verification when appropriate, and giving those named an opportunity to respond.

In light of the reasons stated, the NNC upholds the complaint.”

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Dean gives as good as he gets in verbal fisticuffs with Councillor Sharman.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2018



Brian Dean, the Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association, has a pretty good sense of what any buzz going on is about. He is at times shameless when wanting to know “what’s up”?

Dean moved to the point he was before city council to make – consider a delay in the approval of the draft Official Plan.

It is our Board’s contention that the stated timeline to adopt the draft Official Plan by the first week of April 2018 is too ambitious.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

Brian Dean with the ward Councillor celebrating the installation of new parking meters.

More specifically, it will not allow the BDBA to adequately position itself as a commenting agency, with the support of its membership.

Dean explained that his association was doing its outreach to his membership – it was proceeding rather well – until …

Dean explained that

“it was in September, with the first release of the draft Downtown precinct plans when our efforts really ramped up.

“The City’s Mobility Hub Team took the BDBA people on a block-by-block walkabout of the proposed precincts to explain the policies and answer questions.

“Until November 2017 I reported the observations that the Official Plan and Mobility Hub sessions were “reasonably” well attended by the business community.

“My conclusion was that there was no clear consensus amongst the membership about whether the draft downtown precincts were positive, negative or otherwise. NOR did there emerge a collective voice petitioning our Board of Directors to advocate in a particular direction.

“That changed in November.

“The watershed moments were the Committee and Council approval of the application by Carriage Gate Homes for a development at Brant & James Streets.

“The feedback to my Association was immediate.

“It seems that the business community was viewing the potential implications for their businesses and considering issues like: construction, future rents and potential displacement… as if for the first time. AND My Board took notice!

“The BDBA wants to put together a series of precepts or statements that will act as the “official comment” from our business community and Association when we are challenged to insert ourselves in discussions around downtown developments, Official Plans and other documents that can affect the health of our community of business.

“We also believe that there is evidence for City Council to reconsider its position on the “innovation district” designation in the revised Official Plan.

“We contend that there is room for more than one “innovation district” in Burlington and that our Downtown does qualify as possessing similar criteria to the area around the DeGroote School of Business.

“Thank you for your time…we are happy to field any questions you might have of us.”

Dean was civil and direct. He has been delegating for years; does it well and comes fully prepared.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Councillor Paul Sharman had some choice advice for a delegator – Chair Craven had to intervene.

Councillor Paul Sharman didn’t see the request for the additional time as reasonable and got into verbal fisticuffs with Dean requiring Chair Craven to caution the council member and basically told Sharman to move to his own corner of the ring.

What has become pretty clear is that this Council isn’t liking what they are being asked to do – the questions are short, often grumpy and there is no sense that council want to be in a collaborative mode with its citizens. The exception is Meed Ward and at times Lancaster who looks for clarification to make sure she understands the point being made.

There was a point when Lancaster was the Council representative on the BDBA Board – that didn’t work out.

Goldring reverse town hall

Mayor wants to know if a delegator wants the downtown core plan put on hold or if they want the draft Official Plan in its entirety put on hold until after the October election.

The Mayor asks the same question of each delegator – Do you want just the downtown core plans put on hold or the complete draft Official Plan?

They all tell the Mayor – put it all on hold and while no one says it directly the implication is that they want time to decide if they want this council making the decisions.

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National Newsmedia Council upholds complaint against the Gazette.

News 100 redFor immediate release

September 14, 2017



The National NewsMedia Council has upheld a complaint that the Burlington Gazette breached journalistic standards in printing a correction that was inaccurate and did not provide opportunity to respond to an allegation.

Complainant Denise Davy stated that a May 23 2017 article, “The Gazette erred – Director of Education Miller did not meet with MPP McMahon”, provided no evidence to support a statement in the correction that false information was “knowingly given”, and allowed no opportunity to respond to that allegation.

nnc logo with glassesThe complainant stated that she was called by the Burlington Gazette for information related to a school closing, and in that conversation she stated the director of education met with the MPP about a school closing issue. The news media organization reported her information. Later the same day it ran a correction stating the meeting in question had not occurred, and that “false” information was knowingly given. The complainant alleged the inaccurate correction and accusation impugned her reputation as a writer. She provided wording for an amended correction.

In its response, the news media organization said the interview with the complainant was interrupted and not resumed. It justified the decision to rely on a single source for the original story by referring to the established working relationship with the complainant. The correction article reported the director of education stated the meeting format was by phone rather than in person. There was no evidence of effort to verify either source in either instance.

The paper’s correction apologized to the director of education and the MPP, and faulted the complainant for the error. The news media organization denied the correction impugned the complainant’s character as it did not specifically identify her.

Reviewing the articles, Council found the news media organization’s view that it did not specifically identify the complainant was disingenuous in view of reporting her gender, occupation and position on the controversy. As well, the complainant was named and her photo was included in the original article, which remained easily searchable on the news media organization’s website.

No evidence was provided to support the statement in the correction article that the information given by the complainant was known to be false. The unsupported statement in question is an allegation of intentional error or shortcoming, with no indication there was opportunity to reply to the accusation. Council found the correction breached journalistic standards of accuracy and accountability by making a serious allegation and by failing to provide opportunity to respond to the allegation.

In upholding the complaint, Council noted it is commendable that the news media organization corrected information about whether a high-level meeting on a contentious community issue was held in person or by telephone. However, no evidence was offered to support the allegation that the flawed information was known to be false.

Best journalistic practice is to avoid single-source material. Adherence to that practice may have avoided the problem in the first place. In this case, the error was in the format rather than in the fact of the meeting. Because there was a breach of best journalistic practice, a simple clarification noting a reporting error would have been appropriate.

The complainant specified the wording of a correction. Because the NNC supports the prerogative of news media to determine their own content, it will not dictate the wording of a correction or compel a member to publish an apology. The NNC does expect member news organizations to publish or post NNC decisions in the case of an upheld complaint.

The NNC’s business is to consider complaints about journalistic standards. It declines to comment on the allegation that the complainant’s character was impugned.

The Gazette and the Newsmedia Council

Reach the National Newsmedia Council

The Gazette wished to add that “We have been judged to have erred and accept the wisdom of our peers.”

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National NewsMedia Council reports to its members: The Gazette has been part of this organization or a number of years.

The Burlington Gazette is a member of the National NewsMedia Council. This is the body in place to protect the public interest and ensure that media are fair, not always something that is easy to define.

Every quarter we get an update on what the association is doing and what other news media are up to.

We thought we would share what John Fraser, the president of the NNC, had to say.
Fraser has a rather impressive bio – he was the first North American reporter to be posted to China when he was with the Globe and Mail. He was also a former Master of Massey College. He is also a shameless punster; don’t let him get started.

opinionandcommentBy John Fraser

April 6, 2017



Opinion-mongering is one of the great bulwarks of traditional journalism. If you look at the history of newspapers, it will inevitably lead back to the glory days of London’s “Grub Street” periodicals and political broadsheets in the early 18th-century, generally favouring one party over another. Within a few decades, the business of music and theatre reviews also started up, either in their own broadsheets or attached to leading periodicals.

nnc logo - just typeThere is, these days, a kind of return to these foundational roots in the rapid and happily unregulated rise of specialized digital journalism platforms. iPolitics, for example, has started asserting itself on the national consciousness as an important source of knowledge on our political and governmental life. Ditto for impressive digital-only publications like The Tyee; or some of the newest members of the NNC like Musical Toronto or Queen’s Park Today. They come about because there are readers who care about the things these platforms report and comment on and they want to stay informed. They also like the angle or perspective taken, and especially the sharp commentaries.

The diffusion is equally a challenge for readers as it is for an organization like ours which strives to offer a legitimate and independent service to deal with disputes or errors or misunderstandings, whether on a digital service or the printed page. It’s the misunderstandings about opinion mongering that I want to focus on in this issue of the NNC Newsletter. Columnists and reviewers often have strong opinions and strong opinions invariably arouse reactions, one way or another.

A big part of the NNC mandate and our day to day work is to explain to complaining members of the public the traditional role of critics and reviewers, whether in the arts, the legislature, or even the dining rooms of the nation. When an outraged bistro owner feels a food critic has been unfair in Toronto Life, or an angry patron of the Canadian Opera objects to a critical evaluation of a performance, or a political party member feels there is a particular bias in a column about his or her favourite public figure or issue, our team at the NCC spends a decent amount of time explaining the role of the columnist or critic. It is part of the service, you might say.

John Fraser

John Fraser

I am a former arts reviewer and former political commentator, so believe me I know exactly how exercised readers can get about opinion mongering. I often find myself explaining what I firmly believe is the matrix of a healthy political or performing arts life in any community and it usually involves engaging the public through reviews or commentaries that are studied in their provocation. If, on the other hand, a writer makes factual errors, it is a legitimate source of complaint with which we always deal very seriously. If it’s a matter of “he says, I say”, then we try to put it in the context of acceptable community standards and practice.

Fraser book cover

John Fraser wrote an award winning book on his experience in China where he reported for the Globe and Mail.

This usually works to the complainant’s satisfaction, but sometimes it doesn’t. In one such encounter we have had recently, we listened for an age (and several times) to a complaint about an editorial in a leading newspaper. The complainant was exercised by the fact that there were conflicting facts which emerged after an editorial had been published (a day later in fact). His solution was to ask the NNC to order the newspaper to add a note to the digital version of the editorial which said, in effect, “This was researched and written before counterbalancing facts emerged.”

We tried to explain that this was something that could be put on almost any article anyone published. The logic escaped him and he is probably still complaining to anyone who will listen that both the newspaper and the NNC lack 20-20 hindsight – or is it foresight? Hindsight, in fact, we have. Foresight is for unanswerable or unresolvable complaints.

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Developer is shocked - Mayor hasn't seen anything like this before - two 19 storey apartments in Alton lead to some less than friendly words - in Burlington?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2017



The Mayor hasn’t seen anything like it in his ten years in office and the developer is shocked.

The two are now trading strong words. A Burlington developer is telling it as he sees it – the city is playing “pay-back time” against the Adi Development Group when they rejected a staff supported decision to allow the creation of a development in the Alton community that would include two 19 storey apartment buildings in a community where two storey homes are the norm.


A graphic of the [proposed Adi development proposed for Alton. The graphic came from the web site of Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward – no friend of the Adi’s.

A Planning department report approved a 612-unit housing project for the Alton community last month. City council voted against the project and the developer now claims that this vote was a pay back for Adi taking the city to the OMB on another project.

Tariq Adi, CEO if the Adi Development group is reported to have said: “Oh yeah, absolutely. “Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, I know what’s going on here.”

Them’s fighting words.

City Council voted against the project located just north of Dundas Street in north Burlington.

Burlington’s planning staff had negotiated with the developer and thought they had a deal. Feelings are now hurt.

City planners recommended acceptance of the project after months of negotiations with the developer to modify the original proposal. The ward Councillor, Blair Lancaster, told the residents she would not support the development.

Residents of the Alton community, turned out in large numbers for a meeting in December and expressed their anger about the existing congestion in their neighbourhood, traffic issues and overcrowded schools.

Adi has now taken the city’s rejection of their Alton project to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Adi has a proposal for a 26 storey unit at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road that is also now before the Ontario Municipal Board. It is currently in an OMB guided mediation that took place December 15th and 16th. The outcome of that mediation is not yet known.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brohers, Tariq on the right, Saud on the left. It was Tariq who was shocked into taking their development to the OMB.

Tariq Adi is also reported to have said: “Yes, what happened at Martha absolutely has something to do with this. That’s fine, that’s part of doing business. We’ll just deal with it.”

The Mayor is reported to have denied that the votes against Adi are politically motivated and said the vote was based on the delegations made to city council.

Burlington is in the process of writing a new Official Plan. The decision to write a new plan rather than concentrate on revising the existing plan was to have it reflect the 25 year Strategic Plan that was approved last year.

The Planning department is also working up the rules and regulations that will apply to proposed mobility hubs at the downtown transit terminal, at the Appleby and Aldershot GO stations as well as at the Burlington GO station where the Molinaro Paradigm development, currently well underway with sales exceeding the original projection.

The Adi Development Group is relatively new to Burlington. They have a number of projects in different stages of development.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

The Station West development in Aldershot has yet to break ground. Their Moder’n project on Guelph Line was completed more than a year ago and fits into the community very nicely.

ADI Link development

The Adi Link development at Dundas and Sutton in north east Burlington.

Their Link project at Dundas and Sutton is well underway.

There are still disputes with the organization that paid for the initial infrastructure work in the Orchard community. The Adi people appear to not want to pay their share of those costs at this point in time.

Tariq Adi is reported to be shocked at the rejection of the Alton project and is quoted in the Spectator as saying: “The mayor is not a fan of me and I’m not a fan of the mayor, period. He’s walking around preaching intensification and he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Goldring + Jivan and son

Mayor Rick Goldring talking to an Alton resident during the last municipal election.

“He says this is not a good site for intensification when staff is saying this is the perfect site for intensification.

“We were proposing something that we believed was fair and reasonable and from a planning perspective conformed to all the official plans and growth plans that the City of Burlington was trying to do,” Adi said, “especially with the whole preaching of the intensification gospel.”

The city and the Adi people will now hire lawyers to argue before the OMB.

The one consistent factor in all this development activity is that if Adi is the company digging the hole in the ground – there will be major differences of opinion and, so far at least,  two of their developments are going to the OMB.

They are quite quick to sue when they don’t get what they want.

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Me, the Mayor and the media; a relationship that is stronger because of the almost daily stress.

By Pepper Parr, Publisher, Our Burlington.

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 21, 2013  We were accepted as full members of the Ontario Press Council last fall.

The Press Council serves at the body that listens to the public when they feel media have been unfair.  Anyone can take a complaint or a concern to the Press Council.  The address is set out below.

Ontario Press Council, 890 Yonge St., Suite 200, Toronto M4W 3P4.  Telephone: (416) 340-1981

There is no cost to anyone going to the Press Council.

As member of the organization we are required to abide by their decisions and publish any decision they make.  Because we are an electronic publication any Ontario Press Council decision related to anything we have published remains on our web site for anyone to see.  The decisions of the press council are also on the Press Council web site.

Many people don’t understand the role of media in a society.  Communities with small local newspapers are often poorly served by those publications.  Burlington’s “information deficit” was brought to light in 2010 when the Shape Burlington report was published.

That document, written by former Mayor Walter Mulkewich and the late John Boich,  set out quite clearly what the problem was and where the responsibility for the information deficit lay.

One of the Shape recommendations was to create a Community Engagement Charter and the city is in the last phase of finalizing that document and deciding what it wants to do with the numerous recommendations that have been set out in draft versions of the Engagement Charter.

Another recommendation was for the city to fund some form of media that would help reduce the “information deficit”.  The city should not be in the business of funding media, look at City Talk, the city’s quarterly magazine that is filled with puff pieces written by Council members or their staff.  Terrible waste of money.

John Boich convinced me to use my 30 years of publishing experience to produce some form of electronic media; that conversation resulted in Our Burlington that came out October 2010.

The relationship between the different organizations in the city and the media is usually a strained one.  People and organizations want nice things said about them.  Our job is to say nice things if there are nice things to say but we are also there to report and explain.  We have chosen a cheeky and irreverent style.  We are constantly amazed at how bland most of the statements that come out of city hall, the Region or the offices of the MP and the MPP are; self serving puff pieces for the most part.

Here is what the Mayor had to say about us last summer.

The two or three media people who cover city hall are there to observe and report.   Running a city is a complex business and its matters are complex.  Saying the tax rate is going to be increased is a statement of fact – but those facts have to be put in context.   One percent of the tax increase last year was to pay for the city’s portion of the hospital re-build.

Saying the pier is now on schedule does not mean we don’t also say that the thing is over the initial amount it was expected to cost by more than 200% – and then asking why this happened.  Getting a straight answer is easier said than done.

Asking why city council always goes into closed session when the city solicitor speaks about the law suits the city is involved in over the pier and continually asking how much has been spent on legal fees is part of what media does.

We also reported on the 58 Burlingtonians who were awarded Jubilee medals.

We see more of the council members and staff than most people and we arrive at conclusions.  There are some very good people doing fine jobs at city hall; there are others just putting in the time until the can leave on a pension.

There are some that are always helpful and others that snow you with a dozen documents or refer you to someone else when their job is to provide information and inform.

Our Burlington has had some major differences with some people; some of those differences get resolved, on others we just disagree.

City hall has 1000 people on the payroll and is run by a top tier team of three people – with five layers of management between the city manager and the entry level clerk.

There are more really smart, energetic enthusiastic people at city hall than there are slugs.  And more often than taxpayers realize, they give very good value.

Our relationships with the members of council are all different because they are different people with agendas of their own.   Their public image is basically a brand they use to get themselves  re-elected.  Re-election for a council member is like a promotion to other people; they work hard to get them.

The Mayor is, we believe, in place to show leadership.  While the Mayor has just one vote he  does have the opportunity to lead and to set the tone.  For those who don’t think the style of leadership and the tone of the city council is important,  look back to how quickly this city decided it didn’t want Cam Jackson as Mayor, even though he had served the city as its MPP for many years.  Adapting a Queen’s Park skill set to city hall was something Jackson was not able to do.  Voters saw that inability and chose someone else to be Mayor.

While we have been critical of Rick Goldring in the past, and will be critical of him again in the future because that is part of what media do – we will never forget the evening he basically said goodbye to John Boich a week before he passed away.  He treated John Boich with great dignity, deference and sympathy and in doing so reflected what this city is about.

We really liked the comments the Mayor made about Our Burlington a couple of months ago – note sure Goldring would say them today but they reflect the kind of man he is.


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