New elected members of city council have to figure our how to do their jobs - steep learning curve

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2108

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

Sharman Paul

Paul Sharman – the only council member who held his council seat.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

Hand salute

The victory salute. Marianne Meed Ward recognizing the public that elected her at a Polish Hall event.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live in 18 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel McCallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.
It is the best hope we have.

Meed Ward is now meeting with the newly elected members of council to get to know them, hear what they hope to achieve during the next four years and answer the questions they have.

One newbie got a call from a constituent about a road problem; he thought about passing it along to the retiring member of council but decided it was his job to do even though he had yet to be sworn in.

He puts out a call to Meed Ward – what do I do? Problem solved.

One of the comments Meed Ward made before she was elected was that if she was elected she wanted to find a way to teach new council members how to deal with staff at city hall.

Who they are, what they do and perhaps how they can best be approached?

The public has now adjusted to the fact that there are going to be changes. People who once had influence at city hall are realizing that the phone calls they used to be able to make to a member of council or the Mayor will not be the same.

Angelo blue sports shirt

Angelo Bentivegna has delegated to city council and knows most of the staff members – he now has to decide what his approach to serving the public is going to be and can he reach the people who were die-hard supporters of the Council member he replaced.

Five of the members of council have no experience dealing with public issues. They each face a steep learning curve; some will do well quite quickly, some will struggle and some may fail and find themselves wondering if they made a poor career choice.

At this point each of the five new members are figuring out how they want to communicate with the people that elected them. Those that voted – and realize that 60% of the people eligible to vote didn’t do so, are, we think, are expecting these new council members to be communicating with them the day after they were elected.

Given the heavy use they all made of Facebook and Twitter and, assuming they kept the names of the people they communicated with, one would think they could have something up in the way of a communications vehicle and a strategy.

Shawna Stolte, who took ward four from a long long term incumbent, found that she really liked talking to people on their doorstep. You can’t cover the 20,000 plus people she now represents walking door to door.

Another newbie thought he would be able to see people in the office of the health club he operates – shades of the Jack Dennison approach; used to be that when you wanted to see Dennison you had to hoof it over to his health club.

Some are suggesting that we need to give these five new members of council time to adjust – the problem with that approach is the issues the public have don’t wait.

Most of these people ran on a campaign that included better engagement. The proof as they say is in the pudding.

How are they doing so far?

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the publisher of the Gazette, an on-line newspaper that is in its 8th year of as a news source in Burlington and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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A new development will be going before the public before the planners at city hall see anything - is this the way development applications are going to be handled going forward?

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

A new development will be going before the public before the planners at city hall see anything – is this the way development applications are going to be handled going forward?

A development taking place in ward 2 is going to be presented to the public BEFORE it is presented to the Planning department.

That is new; the ward 2 Councillor and Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward explains “This is a pre-consultation with the community prior to submitting an application, so we will all see the information at the public meeting.

This approach to development was unheard of with the council that was first elected in 2010.

The development will be presented to the public at a meeting to take place at the Lions Hall on November 19th, at 6:30 pm.

Nov 17 meet dev proposalThe development is yards away from a controversial  18 storey development.

Councillor Elect Lisa Kearns published a note telling her “constituents” that she would be attending the meeting to represent their interests.

Kearns gets to represent the good people of Ward 2 sometime during the evening of December 3rd once she has been sworn in.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

Adi’s Nautique development is stuck at the Administrative Review level.

Martha Street is undergoing a massive change.  The Nautique, an ADI development that is stalled in an Administrative Review Tribunal hearing is planned for where Martha meets Lakeshore Road.

The Mattamy development for the corner of James and Martha is working its way through the planning process.

The Mattamy development was for 18 fkloors at one point – then got taken down a notch to 17 storeys which is what the city was prepared to approve on Brant Street.

The Adi development is for 24 storeys and almost across the street is the 22 storey Bridgewater development that is well underway; the full height has already been reached.

Mattamy - 2082-2090-James-at-Martha-Perspective-768x641

Mattamy wants to put up a 17 storey tower right across the street from the proposed 11 story building the public get to know more about later in the month.

 

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Way back when the city manager made comments at a committee meeting that could be described as an effort to influence the decision that was to be made.

background 100By Staff

October 30th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a pivotal meeting; took place on November 1st, 2017 when the Planning and Development committee heard the staff report on the development application for the NE corner of Brant and James Street.

421 Brant

It’s a done deal – the 24 storey tower will go up. And it is likely to be twinned by a tower of the same height on the SE corner

The development application got approved and was named The Gallery by the developer.

The eventual decision meant a 24 storey tower opposite city hall and the issue that became the focus point for the election that took place a week ago yesterday that put a new Mayor in office.

When development applications go before a Standing Committee they start out with a presentation by the Staff Planner, often followed by comments from the develop.

Rarely does the most senior bureaucrat make comments before an application is discussed publicly. The Gazette has never seen a city manager do this in the seven years we have covered city council.

On November 1st, 2017 city manager James Ridge said the following.

“I’d like to make a few introductory comments just before I turn it over to Kyle.
There are two issues that I would like to address in relation to this application that have come up over & over again in the context of the last number of months.

“The first is the relationship between the application and the new plan for downtown and the Official Plan.

“The timing is unusual.

Ridge shilling for the developer

James Ridge: “”You’ve made a decision …

“This is coming just months before we consider the new Official Plan and has been going through the approval process in parallel with conversations we’ve been having about the downtown.

“I’d like to start with the Strategic Plan.

“You’ve made a decision as a City that the City will grow in certain strategic locations and downtown Burlington is obviously one of the locations.

“Tonight, you are considering the merits of this application which addresses at least some of the goals identified in the Strategic Plan.
It delivers a mix of housing, office, retail, in the City’s urban growth centre.

“It’s walkable.

“It is close to major transit hub and it is arguably higher density.

“There can be an argument about whether it is the right density or not,
and people have asked how this relates to the work done in recent months in downtown and that’s been engaged a lot of the community and there are obvious questions about the relationship.

“The short answer is this.

“The application is not bound by that work, by the work that’s been done nor is it bound by the new Official Plan, but nonetheless, it reflects much of it, and that’s the interesting reality of this application.

“The new Official Plan hasn’t yet been approved.

“It won’t be for a month or so, and as such, this principle by law must be considered in the context of the existing Official Plan.

Ridge shilling 2

James Ridge: “The application in front of you takes the density that is allowed in the existing Official Plan, and reconfigures it …

“The application in front of you takes the density that is allowed in the existing Official Plan, and reconfigures it in a way that we believe is consistent with the work that’s been done in recent months in the downtown and the intent and goals of the Official Plan.

“The applicant has a right now in law today, without further council approval, to build 12 storeys across that sight, and the fact that we have been able to take the rights that the applicant has under the current Official Plan, 12 storeys across the whole site, and reconfigure it in a way that is far more reflective of the work that’s been done over the summer around the downtown growth plan and the new Official Plan is a function of hard work that’s been done by Kyle and his colleagues and the applicant and I thank them both for that.

“The application in front of you isn’t bound by the new draft Official Plan, it still achieves a number of the key priorities that the public told us were priorities this summer.

“When we talked about the downtown, they include wider sidewalks, less sun shade impacts, respect for the character of Brant Street, more public open spaces and excellence in architectural design and Kyle will talk about these in more detail.

“So I’m very pleased that staff and the applicant have been able to incorporate many aspects of the new plan and the public’s priorities for the downtown in this application on an entirely voluntary basis.

“While some may argue, and I’m sure many will, that this application doesn’t fully or sufficiently reflect the new downtown plan, I think that any fair-minded person says, looking at the application, there has been a real effort to at least address some of the vision for the downtown in the plan, notwithstanding the fact it’s not bound by the new draft plan.

“The second thing I’d like to talk about is height and height is often the issue that generates the most conversation and controversy about an application,

“You know that as well or better than I do, and yet decisions based primarily on the height of a proposal can have bad outcomes, especially dangerous in my professional opinion is the notion that shorter buildings are always preferable to taller ones and this application is a case study in that fallacy.

“This applicant has a right to build 12 storeys across the whole site In our professional opinion, having the site developed as a full 12 storey block is as inconsistent as you can possibly get with the vision for downtown that has developed through the summer.

Ridge 4

James Ridge: “… the applicant has the right to do 12 storeys across that site today …”

“Once again, the applicant has the right to do 12 storeys across that site today and we think that would have lasting negative impacts for the downtown, and that’s nor an extreme case or hypothetical.

“The applicant came in in 2012 with a proposal to do exactly that, 12 storeys across the whole site.

“We have pictures if you would like to see them, and to the applicant’s credit, they backed away from that proposal and have come with something different, and while height is clearly a consideration, I want to stress it is not first and foremost about height in this application.

“Show this to you graphically … this is about taking the densities that the applicant has as a right by law right now and reconfiguring it differently.

“Height is part of those considerations but it is not the only one.

“So simply put, our collective professional advice to you is that reconfiguring much of the density on this site from 12 storey monolith to a taller skinny to tower on a smaller footprint is far preferable.

“It is better to have wider sidewalks.

“It’s better to have the expanded view to City Hall and the cenotaph.

“It’s better to have more open space on the street and more sunlight than have 12 storeys across the whole sight, in our professional opinion.

“The benefits of height need to be considered fairly.

“In my professional opinion, that happens rarely.

Ridge 3

James Ridge: “Height tends to be a bogeyman …”

“Height tends to be a bogeyman, something that is seen as fundamentally bad in a development.
and we ask only that we have a fair and an honest conversation about both the downsides of height and there are some, but also a conversation about the benefits and there are many of those as well.

“So with that, I’ll turn it over to Kyle”

Kyle Plaz

Kyle Plaz

Here is what is interesting about the comments made by the city manager: they sound like someone acting as a shill for an initiative.

Mention is made of a 12 storey monolith on several occasions but the public never got to see a drawing of what the monolith would actually look like. No architectural rendering.

421 Brant 12 and 23

The dark shading is what the developer had an “as of right” to build. The light blue is what city council approved instead.

There was never the sense that the 12 story’s was actually seriously considered. The public was just given the impression that it was going to be plunked down on the land and that it would be squat looking and really ugly.

Ridge uses the word fairness in his remarks – many of the delegators who spoke to council later on in the process (there were 30 of them) had to focus on a development that was going to change the city they knew radically.

It was clearly what the city planners wanted.

12 storey design

Some creativity might have solved that 12 storey situation.

What if the city had challenged the developer to hold a design competition for a building that was just 12 storeys – what have others done with 12 storeys?

12 storey desigh 2

Others have dome some very good 12 storey designs.

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Losing the race with grace and humility is the sign of a great candidate.

opiniongreen 100x100By Roland Tanner

October 27th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thank you so much

On Monday night I didn’t get the result I and my team wanted to see, but I believe the results, in Ward 2 and across Burlington, were excellent ones for our city. I don’t have the slightest reservation in congratulating Lisa Kearns on an excellent campaign.

Burlington and Ward 2 voted for the things I entered the race to pursue.

A return to civility and respect for residents’ voices.

A council that doesn’t just listen, but sees engagement with citizens as the constant responsibility of every level of democratic government.

A council that will protect downtown from excessive intensification, and demand a creative approach to growth directed at creating complete communities on a human scale.

A transformational approach to better transit, walkable and cyclable communities, and infrastructure that gives us all transportation choices.

A focus on affordable and subsidized housing so our parents, children and grandchildren can afford to live and work here.

I want to thank everybody who took even the smallest role in this process for your support and your interest.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

Thank you for reading my emails and articles.
Thank you for taking lawn signs.
Thank you for your donations and incredible generosity.
Thank you to the volunteers, family and friends who worked harder and were more generous than I could possibly ever have expected, to reach so many doors with me, to speak to so many residents in every corner of Ward 2 and to make this campaign one I can be proud of, even though we didn’t win.

Working with you all was both a privilege and an absolute blast.

Next steps

I’m not going anywhere. A new and better council still needs residents to stay engaged. Council alone will not create a better Burlington. A large part of the responsibility still falls to us. I intend to stay involved and keep pushing for the things I care about, and the things the residents of Ward 2 and Burlington care about.

Burlington is coming of age. There is huge promise in our city as it grows and changes, while treasuring and protecting our history, heritage and special neighbourhoods. I can’t wait to be part of that future.

 

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As we embark upon this new chapter in our community’s history ...

opinionred 100x100By Stephen White

October 24th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the aftermath of the election a few reflections come to mind.

First, to all the candidates who were elected, sincere and heartfelt congratulations. It takes courage to run for office, as well as a huge amount of self-sacrifice, effort, determination, knocking on doors, sleepless nights, long days, and copious cups of coffee. The thoughts, prayers and good wishes of a community go with you as you embark on this difficult and challenging journey in our City’s history.

Second, to all those who ran and lost, and even those with whom many may have disagreed, please know that there is no shame or disgrace in running and losing. If it takes courage to run for office it also takes twice as much to move forward after a loss. I hope the sting of defeat minimizes with time, and I hope you find a way to remain active and engaged in the life of our City.

Third, we live in a truly wonderful City. As I campaigned during the election and went door-to-door I met an extraordinary number of unique and talented citizens. I was born and raised in Oakville, and have spent the better part of the last 43 years living in Burlington. Although I have lived in different places throughout my career I have always returned here. I believed then as I do even more so now, that we live in an amazing community that is a fascinating combination of different neighbourhoods, ethnicities and cultures. Whenever I speak to new residents and ask them how they like living in Burlington I invariably hear words like “fantastic” and “great”. It makes me proud, but it also makes me truly blessed to call Burlington “home”.

Hand on microphone

Mayor elect Marianne Meed Ward celebrating at the Polish Hall

No doubt this has been a divisive election for several reasons too numerous to mention and not worth re-hashing. Emotions are running high on all sides. There exists a lot of ill-will and bitter feelings. For those who were successful though this is not a time to gloat. Rather, it is an opportunity for everyone to pause, reflect and determine how best we move forward.

Both during my career in Human Resources, as well as through my political involvement over the course of many campaigns, I learned that every interaction in life is a unique compilation of both conflict and conciliation. Conflict in human interactions is inevitable. We don’t all agree on the same things all the time. That is what makes us distinct as individuals. If we all agreed all the time life would be boring. It would also be very unimaginative. In politics, conflict manifests itself as a healthy and respectful exchange of viewpoints and beliefs. Other times it goes much deeper. At some point though we all need to put aside our individual differences, personality conflicts, past grievances and hurts to find points of agreement that allow us to move forward.

Years ago when I was an undergraduate student at McMaster University I did a major paper for my Urban History class on the role of the business community in shaping Burlington’s development between the First and Second World Wars. As part of my research I poured over microfiche records at the Burlington Library of old newspapers. One of the names that I kept coming across through my research was that of Hugh Cleaver.

Hugh Cleaver, for those who may not know, was Burlington’s Mayor in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and Liberal MP from about 1935 – 1948. To my surprise he was alive and still practicing law. I wrote to him requesting an interview, and he very graciously granted my request.

Cleaver Hugh _House_01_GP___Gallery

The Hugh Cleaver house on Caroline – was demolished and replace by a semi-detached house.

On a freezing cold day in February 1977 I travelled to his office on Caroline Street where I met him. Mr. Cleaver was tall, erect and imposing, but in spite of this remained very approachable. Rather than sit in his office talking we climbed into his Volvo and he drove me around the city. He pointed with pride to many of the developments he had been involved in constructing that included an apartment building on Market Street and homes in the Roseland area, many of which I should add are still standing. His memory was encyclopedic, and despite being well into his eighties his passion and love for this City was nothing short of contagious.

Cleaver - Hugh H&SMr. Cleaver is gone now, but his legacy remains. I think of him today, and wonder what he would think about our City. One thing that resonates about our conversation over 40 years ago was our discussion around how to energize and sustain a community under pressure. During the 1930’s that pressure was overcoming economic challenges brought about by the Depression. Today our challenges may not be economic but they are nevertheless formidable.

One thing Hugh Cleaver reinforced was the notion of respect. Mr. Cleaver knew how to reach across and connect with voters and residents regardless of their political affiliation or approach. He lived in the community, and took enormous pride in what he built and created. For him, it wasn’t just about turning a profit or building a magnificent edifice or monument. It was about creating a community that was vital, diverse, sustaining and balanced, but also, one which was inclusive.

I hope as we embark upon this new chapter in our community’s history that our Mayor, our Council and our community pause to reflect on the legacy we’ve all inherited, and the insights offered by past leaders like Hugh Cleaver.

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Meed Ward in an interview: city council just has to become more civil and collaborative.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We asked ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is running for Mayor, what the top five things she has gotten done since you were first sworn in 2010

Freeman station Sept 18-17

Freeman Station – a Meed Ward win for the city – with help from Councillor Lancaster.

The saving of the Freeman station, getting the Drury Lane bridge repaired – the city thought it might have to be torn down, and pioneering the way the public gets informed about developments.

No longer safe for the public to use the Drury Lane pededstrain Bridge was closed in November. Estimate is that $2 million will be needed to re-build and $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

The pedestrian bridge was closed for a number of months. City had to decide if they were going to send $2 million for a new one or $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

We didn’t get beyond those three – Meed Ward needed to press home how important she feels maintaining respect for each other is in a civic, civil society.

“We don’t have to agree but we do have to respect each other” she said. Early in her first term she prepared a set of slides that she would put up at every community meeting – when things looked like they might get out of hand she would put the slides back up.

Those slides are now part of what the Planning department uses when staff are out at public meetings. They are used at Standing Committee meetings when she is the chair.

They came out of Meed Ward’s experience on the Joseph Brant Hospital Board where she learned how a board made up of professional people could function.

Meed Ward saw the hospital board as a high functioning group of people. They have term limits, mandatory training and succession planning. Meed Ward admits that succession planning can be awkward in an elected environment – but Burlington has a deputy mayor that is rotated through the council members. For the most part it is a ribbon cutting exercise but when the city experienced the flood Paul Sharman stepped in as Deputy Mayor until the Mayor got back into town.

At the hospital board” said Meed Ward, “they genuinely knew how to respect each other – there was a strong corporate commitment that allowed the members to vehemently and at times passionately disagree, – but they were able to work effectively without making it personal.” For Meed Ward it was wonderful to see that level of collaboration. She said they got great things done. They had a President and a CEO that brought exceptional skills to the job.

“At the end of the day we produced the best decision because we vetted everything thoroughly”

Better public involvement in development proposals:

From the very beginning she asked developers to meet with the community before filing plans with the city. Years later the Planning department told developers that they must meet with the community first before filing development applications.

Notice of meetings in communities are sent out to home within 120 metres for zoning matter and 200 metres for Official Plan amendment matters.

Meed Ward has gone well beyond those legislated requirements. She did mail drops throughout her ward with the larger developments.

In the early years of her first term it was the Planners who would explain a development – “the optics were terrible” she said. Now Meed Ward chairs the meetings in her ward, the Planners talk about the planning implications and the developer talks about the actual plan.

Her objective has always been to keep people informed. She was behind the improvement on the way the public was informed about how council members voted. On a number of occasions she would ask for a recorded vote which required every member to stand up and be counted. During one memorable meeting she made this happen on six different occasions.

For this she was labelled as divisive, not a team player.

The challenge now is that who voted which way does not appear in the official minutes of the meeting. A vote is either carried or not carried. Meed Ward is working on an improvement.

Meed Ward adds that “it took a lot of pushing to get that done but we have it – however we don’t have it at the committee level. If a vote loses at committee and doesn’t make it to council you never know how people voted – that happened with the off peak free transit vote.

We asked Meed Ward what she would do to re-shape council if she is elected Mayor.

“Establish civility which have been horrible on council and terrible in this election race.

“Establish some collaboration, there is no council wide collaboration on this council.

“As a mayor you cannot play favourites – you can’t talk to just a few until you get your four votes – you have to talk to everyone.

“Create an environment to respect diversity in perspective … understand that people have their reasons for voting the way they did – that has been absent from this council.

“People write and tell me they don’t always agree with me but they appreciate that I tell them how I got there and what my rationale was.

“Start with that – all the tools around team building will fall apart if there isn’t respectful discourse.”

While Mead Ward doesn’t know who is going to be elected she does know that there will be at least three new council members representing wards 1,2 and 3 – and there might be a new Mayor as well.

There is some concern that some of those who had difficulty collaborating and were unable to be respectful might get returned to office.

How does she cope with that? “You lead by example” she said.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions.

“We now have the code of conduct and there are penalties that can be applied should it come to that. It never should. Hopefully you only have to do it once and everyone gets the message – if people are called out. If you don’t call them on it people get the impression that it is Ok – you have to stop the bad behaviour. You start by modelling true respect and collaboration.”

Burlington went for years without a Code of Conduct for the members of city council. The city manager had to be pushed by the provincial government to put a code in place.

Residents and council members can file Integrity Commissioner complaints

We wanted to know how Meed Ward would work with what she gets in the way of a council were she to be elected. Would she take them away on a retreat. She wasn’t sure if she could do that but she did plan to reach out to them as soon as she has seen the election results.

She would be reaching out to them the day after the election.

The province shortened the length of election campaigns but left the period of time between the counting of the votes and when the new council is sworn in and meets for the first time.

She pointed out that there will be a meeting for the old council at the end of November during which they can make decisions even though on December 3rd they will no longer be able to follow through on those votes if they were not re-elected – and two of them will have retired.

“We have this long period of time – more than a month where the old council is meeting and making decisions by people who are not going to be back.

Meed Ward wants better election processes and oversight and get rid of third party advertisers and get rid of anonymous funding.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge on his first day sitting in the Council Chamber.

We asked what she wanted to do about city staff were she to become Mayor. City council hires a city manager who in turn hires the staff he needs to run the city. Meed Ward is pretty direct when she says “ Staff recommends – council decides.”

She added that Council needs to show more leadership in directing staff and in making decisions.

The flow of information was a serious concern to not only Meed Ward. Council members were getting committee reports that ran well over 1000 pages and expected to digest it all in ten days.

“There were gentle conversations with staff on the flow of information” said Meed Ward

Med Ward said “We got the revised OP document a month before. It needed more time than that.” Meed Ward’s biggest disappointment was the amount of time that was given to the downtown plan – that was rushed through in two months and it needed a lot more time she said.

The public picked this up and delegated heavily – the council didn’t hear what the public was saying and the OP got sent to the Region over the protests of many.

The Gazette was surprised at how little mention there was on the arts during the election campaign – the city pumps well over a million dollars into the Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery and the museum. Meed Ward didn’t add anything to that during the interview.

Beachway - Full park

The re-development of the Beachway community will have a significant impact on how people use the lake front – it was never seriously debated during the election.

There was not a mention either of the plans for the Beachway community.

We wanted to know what Meed Ward thought the city was going to look like 5 – 10 -15 years out?
“We lost the Herd, a semi professional baseball team that got a better deal in Welland. Why asked Meed Ward. Why are parks in such disrepair?

Regional government:

Burlington goes to the Regional council as 7 people – Oakville goes as a team – how do you change that we asked. “Well you have to be aligned locally and if you are that will be reflected at the Region..
Meed Ward’s two top issues at the Region are growth, public transportation and roads

“I can get a single bus to Hamilton – I can’t get to Oakville on a single bus.
“We have to figure out if we are going to allow widening of the roads north of the QEW

The Region has said if you don’t want those roads widened then you can take them back and absorb all the costs

The city is believed to have achieved the growth that was required by 2031. There is another wave of population growth coming. The province will tell the Region what the growth requirement is going to be for 2041. They will then allocate how much of that growth is to go to each municipality. Those growth allocation numbers will be priority number 1 for Meed Ward. The council that goes with her to the Region will be pretty green – they are going to have to learn a lot fast.

The Region currently has Burlington’s Official Plan in the “in-basket”. They have to approve it, possibly make some changes and send it back. There are those that would like to see the OP sent back now without any changes so the city can revise the document and get it right.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Meed Ward will tell you that there is a lot in the OP that is just fine – her problem is with the downtown core – and the number of matters that she thinks are missing. “We know we are going to have to amend the plan just as soon as it is approved” she said..

Legally she isn’t clear as to whether or not the city can do that.

“We would have to communicate to the Region that there is a new council that will have a different view of what needs to be changed” she said

Working with the school board and the matter of the two high schools; one already closed a second due to close in 2021. City has no input on those properties. It is only when the school board declares a school surplus that they no longer have a stake in it. After that there is a clearly defined process for determining what happens to the property.”

It doesn’t not just slide into a developer who decides he has some ideas for the land.

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

How the hospital tax levy got to be a tax that would be with citizens forever.

Burlington taxpayers were told by the province that they had to come up with $60 to pay for a portion of the hospital transformation; That news was delivered to the Mayor during his first month of his first term.
The city created a special tax levy that appeared as a separate line on the tax bill and over time the money was raised. Problem was that special tax levy didn’t disappear.

Meed Ward doesn’t exactly cover herself with glory in the way she handled this one. She said the recommendation was in a staff report. Does anyone read all of those staff reports? Meed Ward said she didn’t hear any complaints. Of course there were no complaints – the public didn’t know about the decision. The Gazette did raise the question on more than one occasion.

There could have been a referendum about redirecting those funds – no one asked for one.

“There were no questions so the tax levy remained with the funds going to infrastructure.”

Meed Ward is usually very quick to point to everything that impacts the people of the city – this one was allowed to slide through. Something to be watched for is she is elected Mayor on Monday.

The day city council experienced a major melt down.

The December 19th, 2012 Standing Committee meeting was a disaster. Council was deciding who would sit on which boards and committees

Meed ward said that usually the choice of committees is determined before the meeting starts but on that December day two Councillors met in the foyer and colluded to remove Meed Ward from the hospital committee and the Downtown BIA. Councillor Lancaster was put on the BIA.

The Mayor had been blind-sided by Councillors Craven and Sharman.

People were aware of the city council dysfunction – on December 19th – we saw it – it was ugly – the city council at its worst

Visual - city council full

When the elected members of Council take their seats on December 10th, they will be in a re-designed council chamber. The big question for the public is – will they behave any differently and who will sit as Mayor.

We asked Meed Ward: How do you stop this kind of thing? Do you send them home and bring them back when things settle down?

“The challenge” said Meed Ward” is to change the behavior.  Will an election put an end to that ?  Meed Ward said she cannot speak for others

“The first thing we have to do is find a way to respect each other” she said.

Term limits? Certainly for the Mayor said Meed Ward. Council members – she wasn’t sure how long
Term limits force changes said Meed Ward. When a seat is vacated new blood gets brought in.
The civility of the new council will be determined in some degree on who gets returned

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

What does the Meed Ward future look like?

What does Meed Ward see in the next 5/10/15 years?  What has the city got going for it?  Will this continue to be a nice place to live?

Mead Ward point to her campaign brochure which sets out why she is running.

The printed piece of paper is something she controls – what happens on a day to day basis is something she does not control – the best she can do is manage it

What is there out there that she hasn’t seen? “I didn’t see the cannabis question coming” she said.

Paletta MansionMeed Ward said great cities don’t happen by accident. The citizens of this city fought to make them great. In Burlington the citizens said no to town houses on the Paletta property

They said no to development in Central park

They said no to the sale of the land on the Lake side of Lakeshore Road between Market and St Pail Streets – they lost that one

Market-and-St-Paul-Street-LAkeshore-Rd2

The chunk of land in the centre block got sold.

Citizens have taken their city council to court when they were unhappy.
Meed Ward said “ there are generations that delivered for us – it is now our turn to deliver for them – what are we going to deliver

Meed Ward said she believes the citizens want that that small town community feeling. She isn’t saying no to development – but she doesn’t want development that is going to destroy the city people have said they want

Seniors Centre

A Seniors’ Centre is needed in Aldershot and in the east end – ideally in the Lakeside Village Plaza that is being re-developed.

Green spaces, trees, community centre’s are what she wants to focus on.  Sports fields need to be improved – people are having difficulty getting ice time and time on playing fields.

“I ensured that there was an additional $200,000 put into the budget with more to follow.
We have to actively take steps to protect what we have.”

In the Avondale community, where a developer wanted approval for the Bluewater development that would take more lake shore land out of public hands, the developer used the city decision to sell that lake shore property between Market and St. Paul as justification to show that the city didn’t need any more lake front property in the public’s hands.

Meed Ward will, if she is elected Mayor, she try to “undo and hold back some of the decisions that have been made and at the same time move forward on some of the good things.”

She wants to see something better done with the Nelson stadium. More trees and better transit.

She fears the city is in serious trouble with the tree canopy we have.

She hopes that within five years people will be able to travel on reliable transit easily and cheaply.

Meed WArd at PARC

Marianne Meed Ward – She began delegating to city council then ran for the ward 1 seat – was defeated by Councillor Craven – moved to ward 2, continued to delegate, especially on Saving the Waterfront. Ran for Council and was elected twice. Now she is running for Mayor

Marianne Meed Ward was born in Colorado – she came to Canada when she was in kindergarten.
She lived in Richmond Hill, Kingston, spent a year at Kingston Collegiate. Went to Carleton University to study journalism – she was never employed full time at a newspaper but her first published piece was a freelance article published in the Ottawa Citizen – it was about job placement for people with disabilities.

She got a job as the editor of a national magazine, was promoted to publisher and, after a number of years decided to go out on her own where she made more money. She freelanced for 11 years.

Asked what who she looked to as a role model – she thought for a moment and said Hazel McCallion – the Mayor who grew Mississauga into the city it is today.

Anyone else, I asked. I’ve always liked the way Bernie Saunders does things, he was consistent and the public was with him.

Marianne Meed Ward, an 18 year citizen of Burlington believes the public is with her. She will know what the immediate future holds for her Monday night.

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Marty Staz: How do we want our city to grow ?

opiniongreen 100x100By Marty Staz

October 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Really, How Do We Want To Grow

Being involved in a municipal election campaign for the first time has certainly been an eye opener. What started out as a bucket full of presentable ideas has now morphed into a collection of defined plans, processes and objectives. The more you talk with people, the more you research and the more you think.

This eventually provides you with something that you truly believe is the right plan.

Side view - mid rise

An election campaign was an eye opener for Marty Staz.

Without a doubt, the most talked about and the most focused topic in our city is intensification, or as I often refer to it over-intensification. So to begin, let’s look at a definition of intensification. From the website Neptis.org intensification is defined as any new residential development within the existing built-up urban fabric. By this definition, intensification may occur on undeveloped or on previously developed land; what makes it “intensification” is its location within the area defined as already urbanized. This definition is the one used by the Ontario government. So, keeping this definition in mind, let’s explore what is really going on in Burlington.

In Ontario, The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006) has policies designed to contain the urban footprint of one of the fastest-growing metropolitan regions in the developed world. Research has shown that if the Toronto region, which includes Burlington, continues to grow as it has in recent decades, its residents will experience a decrease in their quality of life. This last sentence is where I think we have to push the pause button and determine how we want Burlington to grow.

After looking at the various development projects on our city’s website, either proposed or underway in our city, I determined that there are 28 projects with a proposed height of 8 stories or more stretching to 25 stories. Eight of those projects are proposed for Ward 1. Also, let’s keep in mind that this number is what is current. With the recent approval of 23 stories across from City Hall I can only imagine what future proposals will look like. So this brings me back to the question of how we want to see our city grow. When going door to door and listening to what people have to say I would suggest that the answer is a resounding no – but growth is inevitable. I know we have growth targets in place as mandated by our provincial government but that’s an argument for another time. In my opinion achieving those targets is a non-issue.
So how do we want to grow?

Staz on the missing middleThere is a very interesting concept referred to as “The Missing Middle”. The illustration below gives us a good visual interpretation of what the missing middle means and if you want a good real-life example of this just look to Mississauga. This city started out as a bedroom community for Toronto full of single family homes. When growth started to occur their local politicians decided that the solution was to grow up, so now it’s either single family detached or high rises that stretch forever.

To be perfectly clear, any design that reflects the Missing Middle still must adhere to specific density requirements and accommodate the proper parking, green space, parkland, etc. Just look at the proposed townhouse development at 2100 Brant Street as an example where these standards have been ignored.

“Well-designed ‘Missing Middle’ buildings unify the walkable streetscape as they greatly diversify the choices available for households of different age, size, and income. Smaller households tend to eat out helping our neighbourhood attract wonderful restaurants. Diverse households keep diverse hours meaning we have more people out walking our streets at more varied hours—keeping them safer.” — Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs

So this is a call for architects, planners, and developers to think outside the box and to begin to create immediate, viable solutions to address the mismatch between the housing stock and what the market is demanding—vibrant, diverse, sustainable, walkable urban places. Missing Middle housing types are an important part of this solution.

The City of Burlington is at a crossroads and I honestly think that this could be a solution to growing our city, meeting our provincial mandates and creating a great place to live.

.

Marty_Staz_Marty Staz is a candidate for the ward 1 city council seat and is a former president of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.

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The Downtown mobility hub with the 30 towers.

background 100By Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Home work.

The graphics set out below are on the small side – the content is important if you want to understand what the Planning department is suggesting.

The first graphic is of the Downtown mobility hub that is for the most part on the eastern side of Brant Street from Lakeshore on the south to Prospect on the north.

There are small boxes with numbers which indicate the height that will be permitted on different properties.

During the election campaign ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, a candidate for Mayor, has been saying that there will be 30 towers in the Downtown Mobility hub – Mayor Goldring doesn’t deny that – but adds that the 30 would be at “build out”.

In order to fully appreciate what this looks like we have broken the large graphic, which is shown first,  into three parts which allows you to see the streets and the number of buildings and their height that are proposed.

Burlington aerial

The city from the air – getting a closer look at the plans for new structures and proposed heights.

DT Mob hub

The Downtown Mobility hub that runs from Lakeshore Road north to Prospect. At build-out you won’t recognize the city.

Now that graphic above broken into smaller pieces.

Part 1 DT MB

The section from Prospect south the Baldwin.

 

 

 

Part 2 DT MB

The section from Baldwin to Elgin – the band of green is the pathway that will run through the city from about the Performing Arts Centre to Maria.

Part 3 DT MB

From Elgin to the lake. Burlington’s new look. The map doesn’t show what the Plan B group have in mind for the Waterfront Hotel site that is going to get redeveloped at some point. Downtown might become a construction site for the next decade.

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Wallace wants to be at Queen's Park before the ink is dry on his business cards should he be elected Mayor.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Exclusive to the Burlington Gazette

When asked: Why run Mike Wallace said “We live in a terrific community – but we are facing some challenges and I think our relationships with, not only our fellow Councillors, but with those at the regional and provincial levels as well need some work.

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace taking in a city council meeting.

Wallace thinks the way we solve our problems is what will define the kind of city council he wants to lead.
“I think that the way we solve the problems of growth, intensification, traffic and transit is going to call for partnerships and I think I am the best candidate to deliver that kind of leadership.

Wallace said he had decided to run before the June election that put a Conservative government in office at Queen’s Park. “I thought there needed to be changes in the leadership and the city mayor and that the city needed someone who understands the process and is willing to be much more decisive.”

Wallace said “we need to move the agenda forward – it took them six years to do a Strategic Plan which put the city behind on the Official Plan (OP) review – because of that lack of leadership we are now behind the 8 ball.”

“My experience at the federal and municipal levels means I can add a tremendous amount of value.”  We asked Wallace if he felt bound by the current Strategic Plan.  He said “the 25 year Strategic Plan should be used as a reference document and that each Council should have its own four year action plan.”

Wallace said he has heard that there will be a spanking new council chamber ready for the new Council but hasn’t seen anything yet.

Wallace doesn’t think in terms of his first 100 days. His first priority will be to get to know who his Council members are and to learn what they want to see done.

His first hundred days – get to know my Councillors, get us up to speed and involve myself in their training, particularly the budget because there is a steep learning curve. I think I can be a mentor.”

“Three things that have to be done in the first while: Getting a council in place that can make quality decisions, there is a lot of work to be done, we may not get Christmas off.

“The Province says we have to decide on cannabis – Jan 22 is the date on that by which city Council has to make that decision”.  Wallace is for waiting to see how other municipalities manage canibus retail operations in their city’s.

“There is a need for me to send a message, not just to council, but to staff that there is a need for a new culture at city hall – not just for the council members and staff but for the public as well

“I want the new council to think more of a how can we help. There has to be a better sense of collaboration – I don’t want silos, I wants them all in the same tent working towards the same goal.

“I think it starts with staff understanding that that is the kind of atmosphere we want” and he hopes this is what the council members want. Hopefully there will be a culture they want to develop.

“Leadership” said Wallace “comes from council and particularly the mayor’s chair. There has to be a positive message to staff because they do most of the work.” Wallace said he wants them to be “excited about the new council and excited to be working for Burlington.”

He said the atmosphere hasn’t been as productive as it should be. To bring about the changes he believes the city needs Wallace said he will be reaching out and meeting those that are elected immediately

He said he could meet with them as a group before they are sworn – he can do anything he wants but before they are officially members of Council and added that he would clear this with the Clerk.

MacIsaac

Rob MacIsaac – a leader Wallace worked with.

Wallace said it is “vital to create those positive relationships and pointed to the days when he was a Council member under Rob MacIsaac I. We knew where each of us stood. “I want that same sense of working together on my council.

Atmosphere and tone are critical said Wallace and I think I have the leadership skills to make that happen.
Wallace said he didn’t know the city manager very well “I met him a few times”

When MacIsaac was mayor the city manager got clear direction. He said he would be happy to work with the current city manager to improve the relationship between council and staff to ensure that the direction staff gives is actionable. Wallace said he isn’t sure that has existed over the last number of years

Asked how fast he he wanted to get to the Region and talk about the OP Wallace said they have a certain amount of time to take action – to tell us if it is congruent with the Regional OP.

Queen's Park

Mike Wallace wants to get to Queen’s Park quickly and get help from the province to solve our problems.

For Wallace the top priority is to get to Queen’s Park and see if we can get them to make some changes with their plan that fits better with our plan and he expects he will be able to do that some time in the Spring of next year

He said the transit solution needs more money. We asked: with a 4.3 % budget projected for the next fiscal year where is the money going to come from?

His fundamental view on transit is that what is needed to get a person who wants to get from A to B … effectively and efficiently

He didn’t have solution but said he “did like the look of the current Director of Transit who did good work at her previous job. ” Wallace said “We are putting $10 million into transit – we need to figure out where transit is going – should we be looking at shared services, Uber, or dial a ride because 40 foot buses aren’t the answer. He concedes that transit is part of the solution and ways have to be found to increase ridership.

He is prepared to try the free service for seniors idea that is being used in Oakville.

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

Burlington Transit getting new buses – Wallace doesn’t think these 40 footers are what we need.

We didn’t come away with the feeling that Wallace has a significant commitment to transit – just that it is something we are going to have to have. The issues that he gets passionate about is the current Handi-Van service. He thinks that service should be Region wide – having people transfer buses at municipal borders is just plain dumb.

Another one that gets to Wallace is why isn’t there a bus service that will get people in Burlington and Oakville to the Pearson airport directly. If he had his way Wallace would like to see transit becoming a GTA west service.

He believes there is technology out there that is not being tapped into.

I asked Wallace why people feel the city isn’t working – why is there is a sense of dysfunction that we are hearing about in this election?

“People are frustrated” said Wallace –” they can’t point to anything that this council has done.  On the OP this council didn’t read the public.”  Wallace doesn’t blame staff.  The Strategic Plan set out the vision especially on land use but the OP doesn’t address how that is going to be achieved.

Orchard PArk residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a citty staff recomendation for parkland in their community.

Residents pack the public gallery at city hall.

He maintains that “this council has not been proactive … they claim that they held a certain number of public meetings but they didn’t respond to the public concerns. This council has been in a bit of a bubble – not proactive and they didn’t accept input from the public on the issues. They have worked from a Father Knows Best position.”

Wallace wondered why are all the Standing Committee meetings are held down at city hall. If there are issues that relate to a community – hold Standing Committee meetings in those communities makes some sense.

“Why are we not meeting at the Haber Recreation Centre. Wee need to do something that lets people know we are reaching out.”

He wants to get to Queen’s Park in his first 100 days and convince them to make some changes to the Place to Grow plan and let the city get rid of the downtown mobility hub and move the Urban Growth Centre boundaries further up Brant Street. He wants help from the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs to help Burlington decide where and how grows.

The Baxter was a very successful condo development; seen as a prime location and an attractive building to boot. The proposed structure for Brock and Elgin is anything but attractive if the drawings are any indication of what they want to build.

The Baxter

He wants changes made so that the city can take control of its destiny. He admits that there are going to be three towers in the downtown core for sure. He can live with the height the Baxter has but he doesn’t want to see a downtown that works for just those who are fortunate enough to live there

He wants to see specialty retail in the downtown core and thinks the it should be the entertainment focus; a major thread in the social fabric of the city.

The litmus test for Wallace is when people come to Burlington, downtown is where they want to go. “If we over develop it will become restrictive for other people – it will become a place just for those who live in the core.”

We asked Wallace where he would cut if he had to bring in a budget that is at inflation. The city portion of the budget has been running either side of 4% for the past seven years. Wallace once reminded the audience during a debate that the city once went for a number of years with 0% budget increases.

He wants staff to work within the budgets they are given and doesn’t think there has to be any services cut – that there is more than enough money coming in. As long as the city keeps close to inflation Wallace thinks the city will be fine.

Wallace points out that Burlington is part of a two tier government and we need to focus on the blended tax rate. The current council has been doing that for a number of years. If Burlington could keep its own budget at inflation taxes would be a lot different.

Wallace said “there is money available for some projects but that the city departments need to live within what they are given and projects might have to be stretched out over a longer period of time.
Wallace pointed to the federal government where there was a plans and priorities approach – he wants staff to better manage what they are given.

aerial of Bronte meadows

Mike Wallace thinks Bronte Meadows could be turned into the kind of community needed to solve many Burlington’s housing and work related problems.

Liberty West, is a Wallace pet project that he believes can solve a lot of the pressing issues the city has. His vision is for a part of the city that has offices and residential mixed together where the housing would be more affordable and keep the younger people in the city instead of having them move to Toronto.

Wallace likes the look of Bronte meadows and believes the city can work with the Paletas who own the land.

When would he like to see shovels in the ground?  Wallace said he hopes to have the plan in place by the end of his first term. He pointed out that right now the land is the subject of a Special study – he wants that study accelerated and have the city begin moving on some of these opportunities. Council has to stop sitting around and begin to get things done.

One can almost see the outline of a second term election for Wallace.

Caroline Wallace

Caroline Wallace – likes the idea of moving to the core of the city.

Wallace and his family live on the eastern side of the city. His wife Caroline has been said to be interested in moving into a condominium in the core. “We won’t be living in a high rise condominium” said Wallace. “A townhouse for us. We are both walkers –something within 2 km of city hall” seems to be what he is suggesting.

All Mike Wallace has to do to make all this happen is get more votes than the other three candidates on Monday.

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A look at the numbers - who has to get what in the way of votes to be the next Mayor.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the 2014 election, the one that returned every member of council to office, five percent of the city’s 121,535 eligible voters, 6053 voted before the election day either on line or at the advance polls.

The Gazette learned from the Returning Officer that 9,000 people have registered to vote on line for the 2018 election – that number may have increased

News anal REDThe total voter turnout for the 2014 election was 37.6 per cent; 45,671 ballots were cast.

The increase in the online vote so far this election suggests there will be a higher turnout for the 2018 election.

The candidates know how many voters there are in their ward – that information is not posted on the city election web site for general reference.

We will use the 2014 eligible voter count for the purposes of an analysis and a projection of what could happen on October 22nd.  The actual numbers for 2018 will be higher.

Exclude Greg Woodruff for the moment – even though he may turn out to be a spoiler.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

With three other candidates, one of them is going to have to get 40% of the vote to become Mayor.

Rick Goldring no longer has the base he felt he had.

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace listening during a city council Standing Committee meeting.

Mike Wallace has a solid Tory base – does that amount to 40% of the voters. Likely not but more to the point Wallace hasn’t generated the excitement and enthusiasm that was needed and his performance in the debates didn’t give him the lift he would need.

The unknown is Marianne Meed Ward. If her base is as big as she implies it is then she could get 40% of the vote leaving 60% to be split between Goldring and Wallace. Can either of them get enough of that 60% to push them past Meed Ward?

Goldring’s two unfortunate personal public attacks on Meed Ward soured many people on a candidate who was already in trouble. Is the Goldring vote low enough to let Wallace get the bulk of the vote (that 60%) to pass Meed Ward?

The Meed Ward team is pumped and primed – they believe 2018 is her year and they are fervent in their belief that she is the difference the city needs.

All the above is plausible – now bring Greg Woodruff back on the stage.

Just under 6000 people in Burlington voted for him as Regional Chair in 2014. Gary Carr literally blew Woodruff out of the water.

Greg WoodruffBut Woodruff didn’t sink – he has made some very intelligent remarks in each of the debates. He will never get elected Mayor – the question about Woodruff is where will his votes come from?

Are there people who are edgy about Meed Ward and will vote for Woodruff?

Are there past Goldring voters who are disappointed with what he hasn’t managed to do during his eight years as Mayor and will give their vote to Woodruff because Meed Ward is a little too over the top for then and there isn’t a hope in Hades that they would ever vote for a Tory?

The Woodruff vote has to come from somewhere. He had almost 6000 last time and he hasn’t done anything really stupid to lose any of that. His performance suggests his vote count will rise – the question is at whose expense.

If the Woodruff vote comes off of Goldring’s plate – Meed Ward is home free.  If it comes off Meed Wards plate she could be in serious trouble.

I have an amiable relationship with Dr. Shih, one of the smaller developers and owner of a number of plazas around the city giving him a consistent rental cash flow.

Shie-and-Desgrosiers

Dr. Shih, centre, at a community planning event.

We spent a moment in a hallway at the Art Gallery one recent evening and he asked me how I thought the election was going to pan out.

I took him through my ward by ward expectations and added who I thought would be the next Mayor. Dr. Shih gave me that inscrutable look of his, tilted his head and asked: How did your projection in the last election work out. He knew that I had been totally wrong.

Dr. Shih did not share his election result thoughts with me. He did use that Oriental phrase: “We live in interesting times’” and went about his business. The phrase is said to be a curse.

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Were Greg Woodruff to be elected Mayor - what kind of a Burlington would he try to create?

background 100By Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

He knew his stuff.

He had done his homework.

Some of his solutions for the city were a stretch – some made you wonder if had had gotten ahead of the cannabis legislation.

WoodruffBut during the ECoB debate when he pulled out some of the campaign material he used for the 2014 election – when he ran for Regional Chair – he was able to show that everything he said in 2014 had come true in 2018.

Does that mean he would be a great Mayor for the city?

Probably not – but Greg Woodruff has certainly made a significant contribution to the quality of the debate. There are solutions he was championing that were superior to those of Marianne Meed Ward who shared the debate events with him and the two other Mayoralty contestants: Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace.

He argued for nothing above six floors throughout the city and points out that no one ever challenged him on the position. The debate Q&A format didn’t really allow for much in the way of a challenge and for the most part the other candidates didn’t take him seriously.

Traffic barriers in place on LAkeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

Traffic barriers in place on Lakeshore Road – making them wider isn’t going to do anything for traffic congestion. – more road just means more cars. expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

On traffic, which everyone agrees is a serious problem Woodruff is blunt: there is no way to resolve it. The 100,000 people that are going to be added to the population are going to have to use the already congested streets which everyone says cannot be made any wider.

Transit as the solution – difficult for a city council that has never properly funded transit and for a budget that is already strained – how much high than 4% annual increases can the tax payer put up with – to pay for buses they don’t want to ride on?

Map of Saskatchewan

Burlington with a population bigger than the province of Saskatchewan? Boggles the mind.

Woodruff has the ability to make a point in language that can be understood – by 2041 the population of Burlington will be greater than that of Saskatchewan. Sort of puts Burlington’s growth in perspective doesn’t it?

Woodruff has a problem with the “I’m for reasonable growth” line being parroted by the other three candidates. They don’t define just what they think reasonable is.

Woodruff came to Burlington when he was in grade 10 – attended Nelson high school for the first year and the moved to MMR. Before Burlington he lived with his parents in Campbellville.

His graduate studies were done at Ryerson where he did computer studies. He earns a good living creating web sites and applications for commercial clients.

Woodruff sounds cranky when he points out that the current Mayor talks about the Official Plan that was passed and how it aligns with the Strategic Plan – but “no one ever mentions the impact of the Official Plan.”  The public is told there is nothing to worry about.

The Planning department is already snowed under with development applications. Woodruff believes that once the OP clears the Regional government new development applications will come rolling in. He maintains there are property consultants earning a decent living telling people how they can get in on this bonanza – especially in the downtown core.

Sign at Guelph Line north of new street. Are their days numbered?

The planners think many of the plazas in the city could handle a lot more intensification.

This man with a lot of common sense doesn’t believe there is really vision for the city that has been clearly explained and that has the support of most of the residents. He wants to know: what will the place look like. Condominiums on every one of the plazas in the city?

Why is he running when there isn’t much of a chance that he will get elected? He wanted the public to be aware that there are other options – his six stories max for Aldershot is one of them.

Is growth really necessary? Woodruff doesn’t think so. But the province says we have to grow – “it’s all set out in that Places to Grow document isn’t it ?”

We can say no – we can push back – we can keep up the pressure maintains Greg Woodruff.

He says he believes in growth – we just aren’t doing it right. “I am the only person who is saying that growth is not the best idea.

There is a short video with Woodruff doing one of the Smart Car Coffee Confidential interviews that gives you a sense of where he is coming from. Worth looking at. Here’s the link.

Woodruff got 12,344 votes in the 2014 election when he ran for Regional Chair. 5,812 of them were cast in Burlington.  He can expect at least that this time around.  What if he were to double that number – and THAT is possible.  He could make October 22nd very uncomfortable for someone.

Related news stories:

How Woodruff thinks he could become Mayor.

Debating the Official Plan

Getting back to good policy that respects the people who live here now.

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How is the vote in ward 4 going? The Gazette thinks Shawna Stolte can defeat Jack Dennison.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette has looked at the ward debates, attended many of the candidate events and arrived at conclusions in each ward. Those conclusions are based on watching the incumbents for more than seven years and interviewing most of the new candidates. Here is the way we think things will go in ward 4

What did we learn from the ward 4 ECoB debate?

We learned that Jack Dennison, the incumbent has been in office for a long long time; he said 36 years and two months during the ECoB Q&A.

Shawna listening to Dennison

Shawna Stolte during the ward 4 ECoB debate.

Many think his time has come. Shawna Stolte came to that conclusion and decided to run for the seat.

In 2014 Carol Gottlob gave Jack Dennison a good run for the money – a woman with little in the way of profile she managed to take 35% of the vote. It was evident there were cracks in the Dennison base vote.

Did the crack in the base change the way he served. Not one bit.

When ECoB set up the debates for each ward Dennison jerked them around. He wouldn’t confirm the date they had selected; said he didn’t know enough about ECoB. He knew enough to at least try and stay away from debate.

He put his opponent in the very awkward position of not knowing if she was going to have a conversation with the moderator or was going to do a Q&A with the incumbent.

When Dennison would not commit to the date that was chosen for the ward 4 event (he was given six days to decide) ECoB went with the date they had planned originally. Unfortunately that date was the day there was a city council meeting. ECoB might have been wiser to stick with the date that Council was not meeting.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison

The ECoB people were never certain that Dennison was going to show up until he walked through the door. He wasn’t capable of giving the organizers a heads up and tell them that he would spend some time at the city council meeting and then head over to Nelson high school.

Shawna with Jack at debate

At least he showed up. Jack Dennison with Shawna Stolte on the Nelson high school stage.

However, arrive he did. No apology for being late. He settled into his chair and behaved as the amiable man he conveys to people.

Shawna Stolte did fine for the most part. Few knew that she was not well; she wasn’t at all sure she could make it through the evening.

She handled the questions put to her as well as Dennison did.

The bothering matter was the several “high fives” the two of them did during the evening. It is never a safe move to get to close to Jack Dennison – he will charm and manipulate.

It would have been nice to see Stolte differentiate herself from Dennison.

When Dennison arrived – a half hour late – the moderator shifted gears smoothly and reverted to the original format which was to put questions to the candidates.

First question was: What would you like to see city council do more of and less of.

Dennison said he wanted the public to know more about development applications before they got to the Standing Committee stage.

Marianne Meed Ward has been saying that for the past eight years and actually doing that for development applications in her ward. Jack had no problem taking her initiative and making it his own – and not a word of recognition to Meed Ward for the job she had done. Instead Meed Ward gets described as divisive.

Image 8

Shawna Stolte at the Farmers Market

Stolte couldn’t match Dennison’s knowledge of budget matters but she did let the public see how she thinks.
She thought members of council should get out and meet the public much more. She acknowledged that council members have boards and committees they have to sit on and wondered if city council could not be enlarged by perhaps two members who would be Member at Large with no specific ward responsibilities but they would handle the boards and committee work: The Hospital Board, the Library board, the Performing Arts Centre Board and the Arty Gallery along with the Downtown Business Development Association.

The idea needs discussion and some fleshing out – but it has merit. Not bad for someone who isn’t yet a rookie member of council.

Stolte is basically a decent person; deception isn’t something she learned, listening is something she had to learn. Social workers make decisions about people lives and they don’t get the opportunity to correct any mistakes they make.

If our reading of the city is correct – the citizens want a change and they want their council members to not only listen but to hear what the residents are saying and to be accountable to them.

Burlington is so damned polite that they never say; Excuse me, that isn’t quite what I had in mind.

Orchard PArk residents pack the public gallery at city hall where nine delegations spoke AGAINST a citty staff recomendation for parkland in their community.

Citizens often pack city hall to delegate and hope that they are being heard.

There is a strong core group that has been very vocal – for the most part it is very active south of the QEW. There are people in the northern part of the city who know next to nothing about city hall. They willingly pay taxes that have been increased at about 4% every year and for some of the communities they put up with parking problems that are impossible to deal with.

Stolte is the only candidate in a one-on-one race with a long term incumbent. Dennison does not do well in the Roseland community. His decision to sever his Lakeshore Road property really offended that community – so much so that they blackballed him from membership at the community association.

Dennison - second house

The second house built on the property that Jack Dennison managed to sever.

Dennison lost his application for the right to sever the property. That didn’t stop him. He appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board where he won the right to sever and build a second house – which he promptly moved into and rented the house with an historical designation that Dennison always spoke of as a badge or personal honour.

The phrase ‘conflict of interest’ is not one that Dennison ever really understood; he certainly didn’t abide by it. His Cedar Springs health club sold services to the city which put him in a conflict of interest which Dennison rarely declared. For Jack Dennison – he was just taking care of business.

Dennison email

A portion of a recent newsletter Councillor Dennison sent out. A number of people have claimed that Dennison used city resources in putting together the email list he used – a no no in municipal election. The tone of this news letter is pretty defensive.

At the end of the Q&A at Nelson high school the moderator asked the candidates to talk about their strengths and weakness. Stolte was as direct as you can expect. She said she was a social worker and active in community development because those two occupations spoke to her personal values.

Were someone to suggest at some point in the future that a decision she made as a council member was a conflict of interest she would be aghast. Openness and transparency are written all over the woman.

Being accountable is something that she will learn – it isn’t that she is not accountable – she is entering an arena where competing interests want her support. She will make wise decisions and she will make mistakes and learn that it is very hard to be accountable in the eyes of everyone.

Is she up to it? We think so; Shawna Stolte is certainly a far better choice than the incumbent.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison the day he announced the sale of his health club – a difficult day emotionally.

Dennison has made a point of keeping his constituents informed with his newsletters. He used to hold regular meetings at the health club when he owned it. Residents remember that. We recall one comment from a Gazette reader who wanted Jack to run for Mayor. He built that kind of loyalty and when he helped you out he let you know, and would remind you, that he had helped.

Being a city Councillor for Jack Dennison was friends taking care of friends.

If you live in ward 4 and haven’t yet voted – make some time to watch the video. You can skip through parts of it – especially the part where Dennison explains the way the tax rate is determined. Not sure he would understand what he said if he were to listen to it again.

The ward 4 choices are very clear. If the residents want change – Stolte offers that.

The 2018-2022 Council will be different – there are going to be at least three new members due to the Councillors Taylor and Craven retirements and Meed Ward giving up her seat to run for Mayor.

There may also be a new Mayor – Rick Goldring is in a very very tight race.

Electing Shawna Stolte in ward 4 would mean the new Council members would be a majority on the seven member council; something the Mayor choices would have to deal with.

There are dozens of news stories on Jack Dennison.  Use the Gazette search tool on the Home page to find them.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

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Meed Ward issues a statement on the sustained personal attacks, lies and defamation being heard during the last week of Burlington’s mayoral race.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayoralty candidate Marianne Meed Ward issues a statement on malicious attack advertising.

“Our campaign, and only our campaign, continues to be the target of numerous, sustained personal attacks, lies and defamation, which are ramping up in the last week of Burlington’s mayoral race. The latest is a flyer slandering me while promoting the current mayor, and a series of Facebook and Instagram ads and videos which use the same slanderous content as the Campaign Research push poll in August/September.

Rusin 2

What has a flyer about the pros and cons of two mayoralty candidates got to do with a person running for the ward 3 council seat?

“Negative personal attacks and smear campaigns have no place in this election, or any election, anywhere, against any candidate. These tactics divide our community. Every candidate should be condemning this appalling behaviour, especially where it is used to promote their own candidacy.

“The public are not fooled, and have told us they are in fact disgusted by this. We’ve been overwhelmed with support from the community, with residents contacting us to say there is no place for these tactics, regardless of how they are voting.

Meed Ward“I want to thank the decent people of Burlington for calling for this to stop, and for rising above. Residents will cast their votes based on platform and track record, not lies and slander hiding behind numbered companies and anonymous polls.

“The smear campaign will not intimidate or silence us from continuing to speak out for reasonable growth, not overdevelopment, which has emerged as the key issue in this election. We will continue to advocate for our community and for better decisions on development with a new mayor and council who will work with residents.”

Mayor Goldring said in a news report that he was aware of the attack ads and was not involved with them or supportive of them.

The flyers that were distributed by ward 3 council candidate were his and his alone. Rusin has opposed Meed Ward for more than five years. He has used whatever electronic media he could find to trash the woman.

Running as a council candidate gave him the platform he needed to continue – his nomination became a megaphone to get his message out.

It will be interesting to see just how many votes he actually gets.

Greg Woodruff was very firm in his condemnation of the flyers, and the electronic tricks and games that have been played.

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Orchard residents get to hear what their Councillor has to say about his performance - the rest of the ward got forgotten.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

‘There now – that didn’t hurt did it’ is an appropriate comment to make to Councillor Sharman at the end of the debate that took place at the Halton Waldorf school last night.

all candidates

The candidates, all of them this time, listening to Xin Yi Zhang.

The other four candidates for the ward seat showed up and did what they did at the first ward 5 debate that Sharman found he just could not attend because he didn’t know enough about ECoB, the grass roots citizens organization that is evolving into something that has been lacking in Burlington for more than a decade: a group that will help the public speak back to a city council that has not been able to both listen and hear what the people of the city want.

The evening was for the people in the Orchard community, a part of the city that is rich with schools but poor when it comes to parks and places for children to play.

Orchard community entrance sign

It was planned as a community that would be serviced by state of the art transit – that never happened and now they have to cope with serious parking problems.

The less than 200 people that attended were typical Burlington polite and none of the candidates pulled a gaff they couldn’t recover from.

Amy Collard 1

Ward 5 public school board trustee Amy Collard moderated the Q&A sessions.

Traffic congestion and better facilities for the children were top of mind. The question and answer sessions were moderated by Amy Collard, the ward 5 school board trustees who did say at one point that she understood how hard elections were. Ms Collard has never really fought an election – she has always been acclaimed and has served her constituents better than any other school board trustee.

A number of interesting facts came to the surface. The Orchard doesn’t have even one city facility. It has a parking problem that is structural. When the community was being built the plan was to include a state of the art transit service that would serve the community.

The houses got built – the buses never arrived.

Mary Alice

Candidate Mary Alice St. James was the only one who came close to holding the incumbent accountable.

While the event was supposed to focus on the Orchard, the plans to re-develop the Lakeside Plaza got a fair share of the time. Too big, and nothing for the residents was the complaint. The developer wants 900 units, candidate Mary Alice St. James wants to see that cut back to 300 – and forget about the idea of 18 storey building at the edge of Lakeshore Road.

Sharman

Councillor Sharman, expecting to be re-elected, got through the Orchard Q&A. Getting through the election is another matter.

Councillor Sharman did explain that what the public has seen is what the developer is proposing.

The city has to accept every proposal put in front of them. Planning staff then come up with a recommendation for city council.

Sharman let the room know that he expected to be the council member who would be part of the council that decides. He said that the staff recommendation would get to council in March of next year– but that could be May or June.

There will be at least one more community meeting and then the Statutory public meeting and then to Council – the public could see something in the way of a decision in the summer – which will not keep anyone happy.

Of the less than 200 people in the room – the vast majority were supporters of one candidate or another. There weren’t very many undecided voters in the room.

What was evident is that the Orchard has a focal point – a Facebook page with more than 2000 followers.

This community has found a way to keep in touch.

Glenda Carver

Glenda Carver was called the “Mayor of the Orchard” – they got that one right.

Glenda Carver, the woman who organized the event and runs the Facebook page got described as the “Mayor” of the Orchard.

Mary Alice St. James described the Orchard as school rich and park poor. He comments were the liveliest made during the evening – there was a point at which it looked like she had Councillor Sharman on the ropes but she didn’t follow through. Halfway through the evening it was clear that no one was going to lay a glove on Sharman. He made it through another round.

Daniel R

Daniel Roukema gave the word “collaborate” a solid workout in his closing remarks. Van he walk that talk? He added that he “really wanted the job”

Daniel Roukema has proven to be a strong campaigner. Had he started earlier and had the residents seen him at city council meetings delegating on their behalf he could have been a contender. His financial baggage and legal claims will get in the way of his being able to be an effective member of Council. His working style lacks the collaboration he mentioned seven times in his closing remarks.

Xin Yi Zhang, a kind, quiet gentle man working in the financial sector as an IT specialist, while also working on a doctorate said he knew about traffic congestion. He had been struck by cars on more than two occasions. He uses local transit to get to the GO station; the man certainly walks the talk when it comes to transit.

What was really interesting is that the Orchard community had plenty of asks – all of which are going to cost. Not one word or question about the 4% + tax increases the city has levied.

In 2011 there was a 0% tax increase and it was Paul Sharman who made that happen.

Wendy M

Wendy Moraghan; an all in Burlington girl – Teen Tour Band, Pinedale school, Nelson high school and 30 years with the police force. Is a Council seat next?

Wendy Moraghan admitted that she tended to bring a police service spin to her candidacy; she saw community safety as what results in the quality of life everyone enjoys in Burlington.

She made a telling remark when she explained that the bus that used to run along Spruce – and past the Council members house – doesn’t operate anymore.

The excellent idea that came out of Oakville – to let seniors use the bus free on Mondays – didn’t get approved at council. Councillor Sharman said he needed more data before he could vote for the idea.

Apples-400x261

It really was an Orchard at one point – one of the best in the province. What it wants now is a swimming pool – they would settle for some splash pads.

What the Orchard showed the community is that it has learned how to communicate amongst themselves – now let’s see who they choose to represent their interests at city hall. The ward 5 election race is going to be one of the most interesting races in the city. The tone of the city council in place on December 3rd when they are sworn in will be determined by the quality of the candidates.

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How did the Aldershot community handle the election debate - they made it a family event.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 12, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The ECoB debates took place in every ward. The happiest event was in ward 1 where 11 candidates laughed with each other and talked about how each could serve the community.

It was a fun evening – there was laughter and kidding around and serious discussion about the serious issues in the community. It was clear that there were those who were not ready for public office, it was also clear that there were some very good candidates – any one of four would be good council members.

Audiende at the entrance

It was standing room only for the Aldershot community who came out to hear the 11 people running for public office,

There were some foolish statements; one candidate committed to giving half his salary away and another who promised to do what he could to get the salary for council members cut by 10%.

Some clearly didn’t understand the issues, others were there to promote their pet issue.

What was pleasantly clear was that they all loved the community they lived in, in a way that wasn’t as evident in any of the other ward level debates.

resident ward 1 reading bios

ECoB made sure that everyone had a bio sheet that could be used to follow the debate.

ECoB made sure that everyone in the audience had a sheet with a photograph and a short biography of every candidate. It was difficult to remember who was who amongst the 11 candidates.

There was an environmentalist who would make a significant contribution to city council thinking were he to be elected.

There was a transportation specialist who could ask Transportation department staff some hard questions.

There was a candidate who has the solid support of the retiring council member – so much so that the current incumbent managed to convince his wife to stand at the candidate’s table at the Burlington Green debate.

The Aldershot candidates were asked where they stood on the question of should the city allow retail cannabis stores. Most of the candidates stepped gingerly around this one – except for the candidate who suggested the stores be permitted – if they didn’t he said, his sons would have to continue buying from the sons of another candidate. The audience roared with laughter

The evening was a little like a large family gathering for some festive occasion and enjoying the company of each other.

One of the biggest concerns in the community was traffic congestion. No one had a solid answer.

Intensification and the loss of retail that gives people a reason to get out and walk to stores that are disappearing. It would be a hoot if Aldershot was chosen by the city as a cannabis store location when the community doesn’t have an LCBO location or a beer store.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

Tyandaga Environmental Coalition has managed to get their concern about further development of the quarry on the public agenda.

The plans the Meridian Brick company has to extend their shale mining to the third cell on the east side of the quarry got more mention than that problem has gotten in the two years the Tyandaga community has been asking for a change in the 30 year plus license the company has from the provincial government.

What was surprising was that there wasn’t even a mention of the Beachway that was once a lively almost self-contained community that is in the process of being taken apart one house at a time.

Beachway - Full park

There is a long term development program for the Beachway. It didn’t get a single mention during the debate.

The people of Aldershot were pretty clear about LaSalle Park, which happens to be owned by the city of Hamilton. Some wanted it to be part of Burlington. One candidate thought the city should buy it for $1. Burlington currently pays rent of $67,000 and covers all the maintenance costs.

LaSalle Pacillion

Restored by Aldershot residents, owned by the city of Hamilton.

The city manager was tasked with negotiating a purchase agreement with Hamilton – they didn’t like what the city was offering.

The Mayor recently suggested that Burlington should annex Waterdown which probably means Hamilton won’t be sending Burlington any Christmas cards and certainly soured the relationship we have with that city.

The candidate who wasn’t aware that half of a council members salary came from the Region probably won’t have to worry – not likely to get elected. It would help had the candidate known where the Regional Council meets.

Aldershot has several solid choices – trust them to pick the person that will ensure that not just the needs of the community will be served but that whoever they elect will be able to see the bigger picture. Burlington is going through a critical phase of its longer term development – it is vital that the city get it right this time.

The candidates

The 11 candidates running for the Ward 1 city council seat.

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The selling of high end condominium units in the downtown core has begun - The Gallery has been announced.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October, 12, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is the first step into a new level of development for the city’s main street.

There are those that are comfortable with the development; there are those that love the development (and that isn’t just the developer) and there are those who think it is the beginning of the end of their city as they know.

It is a major part of the election that will get decided in less than 10 days.

421 from James

The view from the corner of Brant and James.

So what are the optics of the developer beginning the process of converting the ground level space of the building from a restaurant to the sales office for what is going to be known as The Gallery – A Carriage Gate development?

421 from Brant

The view will be a lot different in two years.

421 name - windowThe building now has a coat of white paint – we don’t know if that is the base for something more imaginative – certainly hope so.

Politically, we think that some of the candidates wish the developer had waited a couple of days.

But winter weather is closing in and with Climate Change one never knows what the weather will be.

Get that paint on while the weather is decent – and optics be damned.

There are five years of change for this intersection – seven if the development on the other side of the street gets approved.

Change is coming at several levels.

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Ward 2 candidate discovers that city council has the power to determine where a mobility hub should be located

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 2 candidate Roland Tanner has done his homework.

There has been confusion and different opinions on just what the city can do about the location of the mobility hubs – there are four of them.

Location hubs are locations with significant levels of planned transit service as identified by the regional planning transportation agency Metrolinx under The Big Move.

 

Mobility hubs

The city has four mobility hubs. Three , those at Go stations are named as gateway hubs. The hub downtown is referred to as an anchor hub.

There are some people who feel that the locating of a mobility hub in the downtown core is being used by some developers as a pretext to convincing city council to approve high rise towers.

Tanner did what any good researcher does: ask questions.

Tanner reports that “MPP Jane McKenna’s office yesterday confirmed to me that Burlington City Council has complete control over mobility hubs. According to this opinion, the city can choose to remove the mobility hub designation in downtown without reference to the province.

“Yesterday morning I emailed MPP McKenna’s office with this question.

“Can you give me the government’s and MTO’s perspective on the designations regarding the urban growth centre and Metrolinx mobility hubs in downtown Burlington, and whether the municipality has the ability to request that the locations be lifted, modified or moved? Or does the ability to change the designations lie entirely with the municipality as part of its ability to modify its own Official Plan?”

“This is the reply I received from MPP McKenna’s office some hours later:

“It requires a local Municipal Council decision to change the designation in the official plan (provided it is currently designated in the official plan).

There is no specific Provincial requirement to designate the mobility hub that our MTO team is aware of.”

“What does this mean asks Tanner

“The MTO (Ministry of Transport) is responsible for Metrolinx. Burlington’s two mobility hubs in Ward 2 are recognized as Metrolinx anchor and gateway hubs under ‘The Big Move’. The MTO has clearly now stated its opinion that Burlington, and Burlington alone, has the ability to decide the location of its mobility hubs.

Will there be a reduction in the number of people who use the transit service when the new rates hit May 1st? Probably not - the people who use transit for the most part don't have a choice.

Most people see the bus stop on lower John street as a place to transfer from one bus route to another. The city saw it as an anchor mobility hub – that definition gave developers a reason to apply for more density – higher buildings.

“This suggests Burlington has the power to remove the ‘anchor mobility hub designation’ from downtown. I am now seeking urgent clarification from the City of Burlington as to their position in light of the MTO assessment. I will update residents as soon as I receive a reply.

“Some weeks ago, when I submitted a similar question to the city about the process for removing designation of a mobility hub, I received this reply:

“There is no legal framework that exists to challenge in force provincial planning policy.”

Burlington downtown ‘Anchor Mobility Hub’.

“Anchor hubs are major transit points where multiple modes of transit meet – like Union Station, or Pearson Airport. It is currently a mystery as to how the downtown hub was designated an anchor hub.

“While this statement is certainly true in a technical sense, it did not answer the intent of the question as to whether Burlington has the power to modify the designation given to mobility hubs and the urban growth centre. It seems that MPP McKenna and the MTO have now provided their interpretation.

“Anchor mobility hubs are intended to be major transportation points where multiple modes of transportation meet – buses, trains, planes, etc. Lester B Pearson and Union Station are anchor mobility hubs. The St John’s St bus station does not, by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase, amount to a major transportation hub with multiple transportation nodes coming together.

Mobility hub - downtown

Burlington downtown ‘Anchor Mobility Hub’. Anchor hubs are major transit points where multiple modes of transit meet – like Union Station, or Pearson Airport. It is currently a mystery as to how the downtown hub was designated an anchor hub.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

“While the intention of placing the bulk of a growing population near transit is absolutely the right idea, and one I entirely support, downtown has never met the criteria for such designation. Having two Metrolinx mobility hubs in Ward 2, closer than anywhere outside downtown Toronto, while lacking anything approaching the transport infrastructure needed at the ‘anchor hub’ downtown, is a mistake. It is a mistake which has led to the widespread public unease which is being seen at this municipal election.

“The whole of Hamilton has just two Metrolinx mobility hubs.  Oakville has one.  Milton has one.

“So why does Ward 2 have the same number of Metrolinx mobility hubs as some major cities, and more than others? Perhaps we’ll never know – the entire process by which the mobility hubs were designated appears unclear.

“We have over-designated our ward for growth, with the result that change is happening far beyond what is reasonable or what the community wishes to see. It now appears, according to the provincial government, that we have the power to fix the problem.”

Expect Tanner to do something about fixing what he sees as a serious problem.

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Election advertising is getting really nasty - negative attack ads do have an impact.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON. ON

 

If you were wondering what those numbered corporations that had registered with the city as Third Party Advertisers were going to do – you can stop guessing.

There are a number of people we know who are into this stuff – no one wants to give any names – this kind of stuff is always done in the shadows.

 

 

MMW - Goldring comparison

Part of an election advertisement – really really nasty.

An email was sent out earlier today – what you see below is just a part of the  For all the details – Click HERE

One Gazette reader noted that he didn’t think the mayor has the integrity or the courage to call out this disreputable action. He’s too compromised and desperate to hang on to power.

An advertisement that is going to appear in the Post later today is pretty slimy as well.

Rusin ad

Peter Rusin ran against the Mayor in 2014 0 did very poorly. Running in ward 3 this time around.

There is going to be more of this.

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Candidates for the job as Mayor debate - no sparks yet - but the differences in the platforms are becoming clearer.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The people of the city got to use the space at NuvoOne in a studio that was the broadcast centre for 100 Huntley Street. Few of those in the audience to listen to the four people who want to be the next Mayor had been in the huge cavernous room before.

The room was not brightly lit – the debate between the candidates wasn’t all that illuminating either.

Judy W table

The studio used for the debate needs some help with its lighting. It could become a major meeting place in the city – no parking problems.

The event was sponsored by Burlington Green and the turnout was good, there were seats to be had but not many.

Time had been set aside for all the ward level candidates to meet and greet people. Not sure all that many minds were changed but the candidates were active. The room had the feel of a trade show with all the merchants standing before their tables with their campaign literature set out.

It was a great occasion for all those who like the thrust and parry of politics – the closing of the two schools in June of 2016 was still a hot topic.

MMW - Wallace - Rick G

Three of the four candidates for the Office of Mayor.

There wasn’t a defining moment in the debate. None of the candidates drew blood or scored a significant point. Amy Schnurr, who wore a suit, which told you that it was an important event, told the audience that she had a whistle she would blow if things got out of hand – never had to put the thing to her lips all evening.

Candidates Greg Woodruff, Marianne Meed Ward, Mike Wallace and incumbent Mayor Rick Goldring answered the six questions but no one got in a good shot at any of the others.  There was no defining moment.

The final question to be asked was left up to the audience.  Did they want to hear what the candidates had to say about cannabis, traffic improvements or affordable housing for seniors.  The audience chose housing for seniors.  Interesting.

What has become clear is the approach each wants to take to the developing of the city.

Woodruff doesn’t want to see any buildings more than six storeys tall – nothing higher than a mature tree.

Woodruff doesn’t have much chance of being elected but he makes some really solid points when he explains what he feels is really happening to the city.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Meed Ward wants the Official Plan city council spent years completing and sent off to the Region to be brought back where it can get overhauled.

She told the audience that between 2016 and 2017 the city lost 17 companies – we’d never heard that before from the Economic Development Corporation.

Mike Wallace explained on more than one occasion that he wasn’t really up to date on the specifics of an issue but he would get himself up to date once he was Mayor.

We did learn that Mike Wallace’s wife wants to move into a condo downtown – maybe in five or six years.

The Mayor said we have to grow, the province was making that very clear. Goldring didn’t come up with any ideas or initiatives that could or would change the trajectory the city is on.

Meed Ward said, on several occasions that the growth that is required by 2031 has already been reached.

Transit Del Luca + Woodruff

Greg Woodruff, on the right, talking policy with Steven Del Duca,   a former Minister of the Wynne government

Woodruff and Goldring pointed out that there is another growth requirement coming our way – the Region is going to be told that an additional 220,000 people have to be added to population by 2041. The Region gets to determine which municipality that growth is going to be allocated to.

The audience heard significantly different views on the shale mining that is being done at the small quarry on upper King Road where the lifestyle of several hundred resident in spacious homes will have undergo significant changes.

When the Tyendaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) fought hard to get someone at city hall to listen they were told that Meridian Brick had a license and there was nothing anyone could do. Last night it became clear that there was quite a bit that could be done – they heard that there should be a 200 metre set back behind the homes.

Meed Ward wants the Environmental Commissioner to issue a zoning hold that would put a hard stop to the plans to begin mining for shale in the eastern cell of the quarry.

Full TEC site

The shale quarry on King Road is now a significant election issue. All four candidates had opinions.

Eighteen months ago TEC couldn’t get much in the way of attention from city hall. They have proven that if you persists you can prevail.

Meed Ward focused on the need to restore trust and civility at city hall.

Mike Wallace said he has the connections that are need to ensure that Burlington gets heard at Queen’s Park.

Rick Goldring said he has proven that he can work with anyone; that he is as non-partisan as a politician can be even though he ran as a Green candidate in 2006

Designed to improve the flow of traffic - but is it worth hold a photo - op for?

Designed to improve the flow of traffic – but is it worth hold a photo – op for?

The idea of using roundabout to better manage traffic was put out; do something about synchronizing the traffic lights – the Mayor did tell the audience that there is a pilot taking place – he didn’t say where or how long it would be before there was some data that would allow some decisions to be made.

The city has a significant amount of land that is zoned as Employment Land. When Schnurr asked the candidates what they would do with that land Mike Wallace actually began to wiggle a bit in his seat. This was a question made for him. When he launched his campaign several months ago he told his followers that he had an idea for a Liberty Village look alike in Burlington.

Liberty Village is a part of Toronto where a lot of the high tech happening is taking place – it is a part of the city where people live, work and play – a phrase that is dear to the hearts of everyone running for office. People in Burlington want to be able to live, work and play in houses that are affordable.

That put the matter of affordable housing on the table – just what is it and how does the city get more on it in the inventory of what there is that can be bought or rented.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

There will be a number of affordable units in the Paradigm development on Fairview .

Meed Ward pointed out that there are affordable units being included in some of the developments. The city and the Region are going to have to work on this to ensure that the public understands the issue and how to can be tackled and also to understand the difference between subsidized housing and affordable housing. It is probably the biggest challenge the city faces.

Mike Wallace put a good idea on the table when he suggested that when there is a problem on the bridge to Hamilton and traffic gets badly backed up in the city that street with four lanes have three of the lanes made one way so that traffic can move faster.

Good idea – one that will need a lot of massaging to make it work – it would mean a lot more in the way of traffic management for the police but it could certainly be done.

Each of the candidate was asked to talk about their strength and weaknesses: Meed Ward admitted that she need to learn to cut back on how long she talks – blessed relief for us all there.

Mike Wallace said his strength was his ability to pull people together and get some collaboration into the mix. His weakness – he tends to be a little too frank.

Goldring on Facebook live 1

Mayor Goldring said he tends to “ruminate” on issues – no argument with him on that one.

The Mayor admitted that he tends to ruminate too much – he won’t get an argument there.

It was a good debate – the city has grown in the past eight years; residents are no longer prepared to sit and passively listen. They want to be at the table well before decisions are made.

That is a big cultural change for this city.

Giving all the ward level candidates space and the time to talk to people was a good idea – but it did make for a long evening.

John Street - Elizabeth parking lot

At one point it was going to be the home of the McMaster University School of Business. That idea didn’t pan out. Now there is talk of making it a park. Meed Ward loves the idea of a park – she wants it to be on the roof of an office building that would have underground parking.

Turning the Elizabeth street parking lot into a park was an idea that got put out – no problem with that for Meed Ward – put the park on the roof of an office building and put parking underground.

The public got to see what NuvoOne plans to do with the space that was once used exclusively by Crossroads.  It could be developed into a major space where people can work and play and collaborate.

What didn’t get debated?  Taxes – not a word.  Tax increases from the city in excess of 4% during the last seven years just isn’t sustainable.

The ward 1 debate takes place this evening at the East Plains Road United Church – giving the 11 candidates the time they need to set out their platform is going to be a challenge for moderator Mark Carr.

There will be another Mayoralty debate at Central high school on the 9th.

 

 

 

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Roland Tanner: The 2007 rose-tinted vision for downtown Burlington should give us warning for the rose-tinted vision of the current City Council.

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

October 3, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In 2007, Bruce Krushelnicki, director of planning at Burlington City Hall, told us the Official Plan was “right up-to-date, which is a point of pride for us. I think we are the first community to establish an urban growth centre for our downtown.”

This single statement contradicts two articles of faith repeatedly made by the current council:

a) that the Official Plan was 30 years old and indefensible before it was replaced this year and

b) that the urban growth centre designation on downtown, which is the primary reason enabling over-development downtown, was not a city-made decision but was forced on us by the provincial government.

A volunteer on my campaign forwarded an article dating from about 2007* to me the other day. Published in the Toronto Star, it was illuminating to say the least. It details how things have changed in ten years, and how certain claims now held as unquestionable facts by council and staff in 2018 were viewed in a different way in 2007.

The article begins with a quote from Elizabeth Law, owner of Elizabeth Interiors, then located at Brant St and James St.

Plan B rendering

The removal of the Waterfront Hotel and replacing it with a larger development got a lot of public discussion. It was a group of residents – the Plan B team that put forward an option that would open up Brant street and create a clear view of the Pier and the lake.

“I believe that if you develop your downtown core well, then that’s your opportunity to individualize the community,” says Law. “The city planners have kept the downtown waterfront area wide open to make sure everyone can still see the lake and people love that. Even with all this development, the town has kept its history upfront and centre so it doesn’t lose its identity. Customers come into the store and say, `Isn’t it great that we finally have a downtown with character?’” (Elizabeth Law, Elizabeth Interiors, circa 2007)

But Elizabeth Interiors left downtown in 2017 and is now located on Fairview St. The location of the old store lies empty, and is unlikely to be filled as the building is approved to be demolished as part of the development at Brant and James which will see two highrise condo tower of 24 storeys built (the second tower may still be held to 17 storeys, depending on the decision by LPAT). As part of the redevelopment, two heritage properties are likely to be reduced to facades or lost entirely. So much for keeping “history upfront and centre”.

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.

On Lakeshore Road looking east from Elizabeth street – a different city. A 22 story condo, an eight storey hotel and a 7 strong condo south of the hotel.

The new Bridgewater development south of Lakeshore Road cuts off a large area which was formerly a ‘wide open’ view of the lake. The planned redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel (formerly the Travelodge), shown to the left, will see a further major loss of space currently considered by most people to be part of Spencer Smith Park, albeit it is actually in private hands.

“Burlington has many ambitious plans on its agenda. With a current population of about 163,800, the target is 184,500 residents by 2021.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

Burlington has already surpassed this target with a population in 2017 of 187,000.

“A few blocks away, the Village Square is being enhanced by an Artisans’ Walk area of shops, restaurants and galleries. And there is a proposal to locate a McMaster University campus for 5,000 to 7,000 students across the street.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

There is no ‘Artisans Walk’ to my knowledge. The planned McMaster campus downtown fell through, and the business school was placed on the South Service Road instead.

“The Brant Street Pier, an S-shaped pier that will stretch 132 metres out into the water, is expected to be completed in 2008.” (Toronto Star, circa 2007)

People on pier between trees

The Pier

Years of legal and construction problems saw the pier at a standstill until it was finally opened in 2013. Planned daytime mooring for boats and a wind turbine were abandoned.

“[Waterfront revitalization] has also generated a lot of developmental interest. We’re seeing some condo development on the Lakeshore Rd. and we’re getting about a building a year. The third or fourth condo is just now being started. One was occupied this year, one was finished last year.” (Bruce Krushelnicki, director of planning for Burlington, circa 2007).

I was recently told by a council member that the number of highrise condominiums was very small, and that it was irresponsible to speak of a large number of towers as only a handful had been approved. Yet in 2007 the head of planning expected a new condo every year. On balance, it’s Bruce Krushelnicki who was closer the mark.

The Waterfront East condo/ hotel project, being developed by Mayrose-Tycon, has most of its approvals. “It’s been a long time coming because it’s complicated due to the shoreline,” Krushelnicki says. “About $1.2 million will be spent just on its stabilization. The site will also include open public space to continue the waterfront trail. They haven’t branded the hotel yet but it will probably be four-star.”

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

A controversial project from the very beginning – the Nautique was tuned down by the city, lost an appeal at the OMB. The developer has taken the appeal decision to an Administrative Review panel.

First approved back in the last century, the Mayrose-Tycon development, now known as Bridgewater, is finally taking shape on Lakeshore Road. Intended as a ‘landmark building’ which council argued would not act as a precedent for other towers, it has, as feared, set a precedent which has led to other nearby buildings being successfully appealed to the OMB. A public footpath, constructed around 2004, was open to the public for about a month before being closed and remaining closed ever since.

As we watch Lakeshore between Elizabeth and Pearl start to resemble the sort of urban tunnel we have seen in Toronto, I find it almost impossible to believe that we were assured, again and again, that that residents’ fears for downtown were groundless. We were told, by Councillors, that citizens who express doubts are ‘entitled’, ‘privileged’ or ‘NIMBYs’ for expressing concerns. But our fears have been completely justified. We now see a colossal 22 storey concrete and glass tower that fundamentally changes the nature of downtown forever. This building, more than any other in downtown Burlington, I see as an unforgivable error of judgement.

“Parking problems are an issue, like most communities achieving higher density. ‘Four years ago a multi-level parking lot opened on Locust St. and there is a proposal for another parking structure to open downtown,’ says Krushelnicki. New homes and condos have to provide parking of 1.25 spaces per unit. ‘That doesn’t facilitate the ordinary two-car family or visitor parking so that’s putting pressure on the downtown. We’re going to review that standard and it will probably increase.’” (Toronto Star, Bruce Krushelnicki, 2007)

If such a review ever happened, council decided to keep the parking at 1.25 spaces per unit. Current appeals and proposals brought to council by developers have tried to reduce spaces per unit to 0.9. While reducing reliance on cars is absolutely the correct objective for our city, we need the infrastructure and transit in place to make such a situation work. Without it, pressure on downtown parking, which many downtown residents already find highly problematic, will become far even worse. The planned additional multi-level parking facility is still a very long way off.

“When increasing intensification, transit-supportive development warrants a better bus service. ‘But to get to that you have to endure the congestion that is created by the intensification until the transit is built to meet demand. So the lag time is a funding lag’” [Krushelnicki] says.” (Toronto Star, Bruce Krushelnicki, 2007)

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. There were busses that had more than 15 years on their tires - those old ones certainly rattled down Guelph Line when I was on one of them.

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. How many and what size of bus will the city need to provide the kind of transit service thay are talking about?

This might be called the ‘if you make traffic bad enough, people will have to take the bus’ approach to city planning, still prevalent at City Hall. To me, it’s a highly problematic logic. In essence, City Hall is willing to deliberately create a city-wide problem and inflict discomfort on residents. Meanwhile we have had successive councils that simply do not believe in public transit, have cut funding, cut routes, and increased prices. The result is a fall in ridership by approximately 300,000 rides per year (15%) when other cities are seeing 100%+ increases.

Bruce Krushelnicki’s rose-tinted vision for downtown Burlington in 2007 should give us warning for the rose-tinted vision of the current City Council. Since 2007 too many things went wrong; too many businesses are leaving or being forced out of downtown; the waterfront is being irreparably damaged, over-development is here. All these things, we were told, would never happen.

It’s not good enough. We can’t buy this tired sales-pitch any more. Burlington needs change.

*The article was long ago cut and pasted into a Word document, and is no longer available at the Toronto Star website. It is undated, however it dates after the passing of the Places to Grow Act in 2006 and the then planned completion of the new pier in 2008.

Roland Tanner is a ward 2 city council candidate

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