Director of Education panel: Two Spirit & Transgender Awareness: Beyond Bathrooms.

By Staff

March 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The next Halton District School Board (HDSB)  Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights will take place on March 29th at 6:00 pm

The working title for the event is Two Spirit & Transgender Awareness: Beyond Bathrooms.

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board

HDSB families, staff and community members are invited to the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to raise awareness on historical and contemporary issues of identity, inclusion and human rights. The next session in the panel series will be:

Two Spirit & Transgender Awareness: Beyond Bathrooms
Tuesday, March 29 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.
This will be a virtual event, with the livestream linked on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca).
Registration is not required.

Panel speakers include:

• Dani Araya, Coordinator, Trans Youth Mentor Program, The 519
• Andie Davis, HDSB Grade 11 student
• Lyndon George, Indigenous Justice Coordinator, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
• Eliot Newton, Education Program Coordinator, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
• Stella, HDSB Grade 8 student
• Phi Trân Trinh, Program Coordinator, Positive Space Network
• Dinaly Tran, Nonbinary BIPOC Program Coordinator, Planned Parenthood Toronto

Those interested in attending the event can submit a question to the panel before or during the panel discussion through this Google Form: https://forms.gle/L5AxQvpErhR9wpkG9

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board explains:    “Each session in the series will explore how issues of identity and inclusion intersect with education,”

“This provides an opportunity to create awareness of multiple perspectives of insight and analysis on how individual identities can be reflected and engaged in the broader HDSB community. This panel series aligns with the Board’s commitment to raise awareness of diverse community perspectives and the need to broaden resources to support inclusion and student achievement, as reflected in the HDSB’s Multi-Year Plan 2020-2024 and the Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan – The Way Forward.”

Future sessions in the series include:
• Indigenous Perspectives on Decolonizing Education and Land (Tuesday, April 26 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.)
• Perspectives on Islam and Islamophobia (Tuesday, May 31 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.)

Previous panel sessions include Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (Feb. 7) and Black Excellence: Today and Every Day (Feb. 28). Full recordings of these panel discussions are available to view on the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion and Human Rights webpage.

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Some very tough decisions to be made by the people of Ontario

By Pepper Parr

March 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Ontario’s fixed-date election law sets voting day as June 2, 2022, and the formal start of the campaign period as next May 4.

Burlington now has nominated candidates for the three mainline political parties.

NDP candidate Andrew Drummond get a visit from Liberal candidate Mariam Manaa while she was doing her door to door thing.

The New Democrats nominated Andrew Drummond, the Liberals actually made a contest of their nomination and chose Mariam Manaa as their candidate.

The Progressive Conservatives appointed Natalie Pierre as their candidate.

The Greens nominated Kyle Hutton.

There may be others.

While there is all kinds of political maneuvering taking place at the party leadership level, the fight at the ground level will become fierce starting May 4th.

Drummond is well known, he has run before and has acquitted himself quite well.  Were he to be elected he would be a creditable legislator once he has learned the basics of being an MPP.

Andrea Horwath on the campaign trail

The problem with the Ontario New Democrats is their leader – Andrea Horwath isn’t seen as a leader; there isn’t all that much bench strength in the party – she would have difficulty forming a government and the even more difficulty governing.

Bob Rae who brought tonnes of credibility to the job of party leader had difficulty find the talent he needed to appoint solid members to his Cabinet.

Burlington does have a small but solid community of followers – enough to win?  There was a real chance last time out – not sure that chance exists this time around,

Manaa has no experience in government but some knowledge of the way politicians serve their communities having worked as an intern with two federal MP’s.

No one is sure just where her support came from.  If the Muslim community is large enough she could take the seat.; what is not clear is just how many Muslim’s in the riding there are.   The most recent Stats Canada data is not yet available.  The Muslim community will vote for their candidate.

The team teaching Mariam how to campaign is solid.  If she has the capacity to develop into a credible candidate she could surprise a lot of people.

Aldershot resident Greg Woodruff, right,  talking to Stephen Del Duca, provincial Liberal party leader, while he was in Burlington as the then Minister of Transport for the province.

The Liberals have not been blessed with a gifted party leader.  Steve Del Duca comes across as flailing about looking for an issue that he can use to get the foothold he desperately needs.  Not having a seat in the Legislature doesn’t help. .

The Progressive Conservatives in Burlington have struggled to develop really solid candidates. Cam Jackson served as the MPP for years.  One would be challenged to point to anything significant he achieved while in office.

Jane McKenna was nominated at a meeting where she was the only candidate; zip in the way of political experience and a one of the thinnest public profiles ever seen for a person running for public office.  She was fortunate in having some very savvy political players guiding and directing her.  It was one of Keith Strong’s better initiatives.

There has always been something suspect with PC nomination meetings.

McKenna decided there was an even greener pasture for her at the Regional level and she announced she would not run again as the MPP fr Burlington.

There was no immediate identifiable replacement candidate; we would get notes from people asking if we knew who the PC candidate was going to be.

Natalie Pierre, PC appointed candidate for Burlington

It is not known yet how, when or where the appointed candidate Natalie Pierre was found.

No experience other than having lived in Burlington for 30 years.

The PC party made the appointment on March 4th and informed the public on We were copied on an email in which McKenna appeared to be taking all the credit for finding Pierre.

Since that announcement – not a word.

Burlington has solid deep Conservative roots. As a society it tends to be conservative.

The federal candidate the Conservatives put forward was wrapped in a bubble, said next to nothing and was the poster girl for the gun club lobby.

The challenge for every political party and its candidate is to create profile – get the candidate out in front of people.

To date we have seen nothing on Natalie Pierre.

Are the PC’s going to rely on the strength thay have always has in Burlington. A sort of “she is one of us – vote for her” campaign?

Doug Ford casting a ballot

The problem the PC’s have is with their leader.  He has not exactly proven to be a rock star for the way he handled the pandemic; Ontario has yet to formalize an agreement with the federal government on the new child care program.

It is hard to fathom the PC position on climate change but very easy to grasp what they want to do in terms of building new roads rather that focus on and look for different ways to move people from place to place.

The Bradford Bypass and the Hwy 413 extension are really not needed.

Doug Ford has a small business mentality – he genuinely feels the pain of the small business person who had to close their doors during the lock-downs,

Ford understand the small business community – he genuinely cares about the problems they have had to face.

He is prepared to put at risk the health and welfare on students who would be well served with a masking policy for another two weeks until we learn what WORD are going to be as a result of the Spring Break.

What is proving to be very interesting is the number of parents who have decided they will stay with a masking protocol for the immediate future and wait for new virus infection results.

Doug Ford wants to hope that the reports are minimal and that we may have cleared the mist recent wave.  Let us hope as well that the numbers that do exists don’t get fudged.

Kyle Hutton Green Part candidate

What the province needs at this point in its growth is a well thought out vision – something a bit more than Doug Ford’s Open for Business position.

Burlington now has three candidates; two who are credible – the third too unknown at this point to be able to make a comment.

The Greens have a candidate – thin on real experience but quite a bite of on the ground electing candidates which he learned while working to get Karina Gould elected.

There are tough choices to be made.  A minority Progressive Conservative government would serve the province best,

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

 

 

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Government shuffling the deck; dealing themselves a better hand

By Pepper Parr

March 2, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Three months from now we will be marking our ballots and choosing who we want to lead us in Ontario going forward.

The Ford government is sitting at Queen’s Park passing legislation.  Yesterday we learned that there was a section in a piece of legislation that forgave a significant fine the Premier was required to pay for not getting a budget before the public by a specific date.

The government has delayed publishing the budget which was due March 31st.  The new date is sometime in late April

We learn today that the government announced an advertising program that will focus on how well the economy is doing.

While important, critically important the province is slowly coming out of pandemic driven restrictions that has ticket sales of Raptors games at the Scotiabank Arena  close to sold out.

People need some relief.

World news is horrific; we are in the middle of something that doesn’t impact on most of us – but the news we read about what is happening in Ukraine is going to impact every one of us in the very near future.

Premier Ford in the Legislature

Inflation is beginning to play havoc on what happens to us daily.   Have you been to the supermarket; have you looked at the price of a good steak ?

Supply chain issues are still not resolved

With all this going on we have a provincial government shuffling the cards and dealing themselves a stronger hand.

Keep an eye on the rascals.

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

 

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Doug Ford on the pandemic: '“The world’s done with it.'

By Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Yesterday Premier Doug Ford said: he’s “eager to get these mandates moving.”

It has always been about business for Doug Ford.

“I hate as a government telling anyone what to do. We’ve just got to get moving forward and get out of this and protect the jobs,” Mr. Ford said at a manufacturing announcement in Hamilton.

“The world’s done with it, so let’s just move forward.”

The government intends to fully lift capacity limits on businesses and social gatherings on March 1. Its vaccine-certificate policy – which requires certain businesses only admit vaccinated patrons – is set to end the same day.

Mr. Ford said Tuesday that he was “never sold” on the proof-of-vaccination policy, but that he  introduced it on the advice of the province’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kieran Moore.

“Dr. Moore’s phenomenal, but you know something, he’s reasonable, too. He’s reasonable, he gets it, he understands the economy,” Mr. Ford said. “Thank God, on March 1, we’re moving forward out of this … I just can’t wait.”

And there you have a Premier doing a Class A hissy fit in public.  The 1500 plus new infections Ontario is experiencing each day is a clear sign that we are not “done with it” yet.

Apparently his heart was never in the fight to conquer.

The comments made by the Premier are so irresponsible.  He has never understood that it really isn’t all about jobs – it is about the health of the people he serves. The thousands of deaths recorded so far are a testament on just how serious this has been.

There is hope however, early in June the people of the province can decide with their votes if they are done with Doug Ford.

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

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Election sign bylaws and a review of Closed Session meetings: will there be a change in the way the public is treated?

By Pepper Parr

February 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

City staff and Councilors are getting prepared for the fall municipal election.

Two items on the council agenda today are reviewing the election sign by-law and a Staff Direction for the City \Manager to include in a March report a review of the city’s closed session meeting policies and procedures and report back on options and recommendations to ensure the development of updated best practices.

How does on prevent this kind of clutter? You don’t – they are a foundational part of the democratic process.

Let’s take the election signs issue.  Several members of Council would ban election signs completely; they already  have the name recognition they need.

For those looking for a way to gain some name recognition signs on lawns are critical.

It will be interesting to see how Council reacts to what is put on the table.

As for Closed sessions of council there is nothing but shame for this Council; they have held more closed sessions in this term that in any other in the past decade.

Admittedly, there are development issues, especially those related to Ontario Land Tribunal matters that have to be in closed.

The City Manager has advised of his intent to bring forward a report to the March 2002 CSSRA meeting regarding enhancing the alignment and effectiveness of the City of Burlington’s governance related business processes, practices and policies.

The impetus for the report is tied to the need to issue a new RFP for the upcoming renewal of the five-year contract for the City’s independent Integrity Commissioner.

There have been issues raised over the past 12 months in regard to the procedures and processes by which matters before Council are dealt with in Open versus Closed Session Meetings which have substantiated the timely need to review, update and properly define these best practices and procedures and to utilize the findings from this
assessment to support the development of an updated Closed Meeting Protocol.

When Council meetings resume normal operations will we see as much of this?

It will be interesting to learn just what the City Manager thinks a best practice is.

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

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The forthcoming provincial election needs some hard thinking - I like the look of a minority goverment

By Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

During her State of the City address on Thursday the Mayor would not declare that she is going to run for office again – she said she would declare in May (why the wait) but added that she loved the job.

A majority of the current council have indicated that they will run again; there are a couple that should re-think that decision.

But before we get our heads around deciding whether or not members of the current city council deserve to be re-elected we have to make some decisions on the current provincial government.

Do we re-elect Doug Ford? Personally I wouldn’t. In my view the smartest thing we can do, if we must, is return the Conservatives as a minority government.

I’ve not been impressed with the way Ford has handled the pandemic and his Highway 13 plans would be a disaster.
Doug Ford is a business man – that is what he understands – even if he isn’t all that good at it.
He once made the comment that he “detests” closing down the commercial sector – but that is what had to be done to limit the new Omicron variant from spreading.

Many had taken the position that this most recent variant wasn’t all that bad – failing to realize that more people died of Covid19 during January of this year than at any other time during this now two year pandemic – save one month.
We had children who were being infected.

On Thursday we had genuine nut cases lining the overpasses along major highways cheering on the Freedom Convoy – truckers who said vaccination mandate did not respect their rights; forgetting that not being vaccinated infringed on the rights of others.

There they were – by the hundreds at overpasses across the GTA. Which part of the solution to bringing the pandemic to an end didn’t they understand? And which part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms do they not understand?

The rank stupidity and level of ignorance is stunning; the crowds that cheered on the truckers to be so uninformed is disturbing – and dangerous. Those who drive a truck for a living have the right to refuse to be vaccinated – but unless they are vaccinated they can’t drive a truck across the Canada \US border.

There are people at city hall who have been told they cannot report for work if they are not vaccinated.
I’ve never had the feeling that this provincial government has a solid grip on the pandemic. The way they have jerked parents with children in school is a real shame.

I am of the belief that Andrea Horvath, the NDP leader would have difficulty forming a government in the very unlikely event that she won a majority.

And Stephen Del Duca has just not inspired me – he is trying to create a profile and get some traction. I like the look of John Fraser, the current Liberal leader in the legislature.

I think the provincial Liberals need a major conference at which they could flesh out just who they are and what their policies will be. Until they do something to let the public know what they will do differently they are wandering in the political wilderness.

Times have changed. The pandemic has brought a lot of the changes to the surface.

One of the issues governments have failed to effectively address is homelessness and Long Term Care.

Housing that is affordable; solving the homeless problem; get a grip on what oxycodin is doing to people – the number who die of this drug when they overdose has to be curtailed.

Learning how we as a society take care of the elderly and ensure that their “golden years” have dignity and the services they need. The long term care problems are far from resolution.

Mental Health – a new health issue brought on by the pandemic with no programs that can come close to meeting the need. More importantly – understanding the need.

Re-thinking the way we are educating our young people. Is what we are doing now the best we can do?

How we allocate the tax money collected needs a much bigger deep think – and it is the public that will have to do that thinking – don’t trust the politicians to do it for you.

With a provincial election less than six months away – it is time to move beyond partisan positions and think about what we as a society need at every level and then decide how we are going to make it happen.

Burlington is going to have three candidates that are very very different.

While canvassing a neighbourhood Manaa found herself on the doorstep of NDP candidate Andrew Drummond. He took the literature but did not invite her in for coffee.

Andrew Drummond, the NDP candidate, is at that point in his political career where he has to do much better or look for a different career choice.

Manaa gained some valuable experience working as a volunteer with Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff and Burlington MP, Cabinet Minister Karina Gould.

Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim women about whom we don’t know enough – the question with this candidate (she is running as a Liberal) is this: Are there enough Muslims to give this candidate the support she needs and are there enough voters in Burlington who can get beyond any level of racism they might have to elect her to office?

The current MPP, Jane McKenna will come out of hiding at some point. Don’t expect her to have very much to say – hopefully she will give up on that really stupid speech she made in the legislature that the pandemic was over-rated.

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

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News delivery options coming this week...

By Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Later this week we expect to be able to show you some of the subtle changes to the look and feel of what we deliver.

We have developed a more efficient way to get the news in front of you.

There are going to be different editions of the paper:

A Morning Edition, an Afternoon Edition and a Breaking News Edition.

The Morning and Afternoon editions go out at specific times. The top three stories are a click away – the rest of the paper is just as easy to get to.

Breaking News goes out the moment there is critical news. When there was a Covid19 outbreak at the Joseph Brant Hospital – that was Breaking News. We pride ourselves on getting news out very quickly – especially when it matters a lot.

Each issue arrives in your email once you’ve subscribed.  There is no subscription fee. You can cancel anytime and go back to logging in the way tens of thousands do daily.

And of course you can go to the web site anytime and look at everything including the archives which hold everything we ever published.

Changes have been tested; staff is now being trained.  There will be a separate news story during the week explaining how easy it is to sign up.  You can also unsubscribe anytime you decide you don’t like us any more.

Best of all the news is FREE!

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Once again Premier Ford got it wrong

By Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, 0N

 

Ontario today reported 4,114 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 590 in the ICU and 64 deaths; is this what the Minister of Health meant by a “glimmer of hope”?

Yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced when and how he would open up the province and return to normal business.

January 31st

restrictions would be reduced.

February 21st restrictions would be reduced even further.

March 14th  restrictions would disappear.

Setting out information like this might be good politics but it is bad public health practice.

Once again the Premier got it wrong.

What he needed to say was that when hospitalizations are at ??? and ICU patients are at ??? THEN restrictions will be lowered.

It is decisions made by individuals that will bring down the number of people infected and the number of hospitalizations.

Stop the bromides Mr. Premier.  Let people take responsibility and when the data indicates that people are being responsible, then lift the restrictions.  I, too, want to go out to a restaurant for dinner – but I don’t want to compromise my health.

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

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Letter from Halton MPs to Catholic Trustees was inappropriate

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Opinion

Last Friday, the four members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton sent an open letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.

Cabinet Ministers Karina Gould (Burlington); Anita Anand, (Oakville) along with Pam Damoff (Oakville North Burlington) and Adam VanKoeverden, MP, (Milton) wrote about a matter that is not something in which the federal government is involved.

Education is a provincial matter with trustees elected at the local level to represent parents with children in the school system.

The Gazette wonders if it is appropriate for Members of Parliament to meddle in a provincial matter that is being fiercely debated at the local level.

Emotions are running high; views are strongly held. What value does the opinion of someone from a senior level of government add?

The concerns of the four Members of Parliament are legitimate enough but one has to wonder what the upside is for the MPs. Have they brought any clarity to the issue?

Do any of them have children in Catholic schools?

Karina Gould has a mandate as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development but that mandate does not reach into issues that are local.

The differences between the Catholic communities are philosophical and political and they will be resolved politically.

The parents who are opposed to the flying of the Pride flag in front of schools support their children; love their country and believe they are serving at their level of political leadership.

If the federal Liberals had anything of value to add perhaps a comment would be appropriate.

They add nothing other than their opinions.

The Gazette feels the letter was inappropriate and that the members of the Catholic community have to work this out on their own.

Related content:

Letter to the trustees

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

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It is a fractious city council unable to work together all that well - the city suffers - there are some very significant decisions to be made

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The three things the city wants to focus on in 2022

Fractious council

Losing the football

Waterfront Hotel

With nothing but virtual Council meetings for just about two years now it is difficult to read just what is taking place.

Councillor Kearns is missing the Standing Committee Clerk and the City Manager are included

If you know the players a little you can pick up some of the discord – and there is certainly discord but this council works very hard to ensure that very little of it gets seen by the public.

The hope that many Burlingtonians had, including this reporter and the Gazette, when Marianne Meed Ward bent her head forward as the Chain of Office was placed around her neck is not today what it was that December evening in 2018. The hope hasn’t entirely disappeared but there is discord and differences.

Council is split into two factions:  The Mayor who will be supported by Rory Nisan until the day he is no longer in office and Kelvin Galbraith who likes the way the Mayor accepts his – let’s build stuff approach to being a ward Councillor.

One the other side, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman are usually on the same page – and it is seldom the same page as the Mayor.

The factions are not cast in stone with Nisan being the exception.

The swing vote – didn’t see that coming in 2018

The swing vote is ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna (who’d thought this is how things would work out) who has taken to developing his own view on those matters he understands. And while he is frequently with the Mayor – not as much as he used to be.

Five of the seven members of Council have now been in office for three years and are gearing up for re-election. With one exception the expectation is that all seven will seek re-election. And no – I am not prepared to say who the exception is at this point.

The important things is the the newbies have found most of their footing – they have developed a good working relationships with their constituents; feel comfortable with most of the issues and are tiring of the way the Mayor treats them. Lisa Kearns thought she would like to serve on the Police Services Board and chose to put her name forward. The Mayor did not support Kearns – and the seat went to a Council member from Oakville.

Traditionally members of a Council support each other when they have something they want to do outside of Council.  Meed Ward may have had some very good reasons for supporting someone else for the Police Services Board but common courtesy called for her to talk to Kearns and explain her position. Kearns was apparently blind-sided by the Mayor.

Without a doubt the quickest and the fastest mind on Council; a workhorse as well – does her homework

Kearns, by the way, would have been an excellent Police Serve Board member – she does her homework (better than anyone else on Council) she would have kept the Board members on their toes.

Councillor Stolte looking for some clarity.

When Councillor Stolte isn’t asking for additional clarification on a matter she struggles to get around the interference the Mayor pushes in front of her.

If Stolte has an event going on and invites the Mayor – it becomes the Mayor’s event.

The differences in approach and philosophy became glaringly obvious when the Mayor could not find a way to get the tax increase number she felt she needed going into an election in October.

Her thinking had merit – it deserves an explanation and some analysis and in the fullness of time we will get that to you.

Meed Ward had a well thought out position – the other council members just didn’t buy it. This Council came very close to being in a position where they were not able to agree on a budget which would have put the creating of a budget in the hands of staff – which City Manager Tim Commisso advised would “not be a pretty picture”.

There are times when the Mayor bends over backwards to get her colleagues to “collaborate” with her. The city does not have someone serving as Deputy Mayor because the members of Council could not agree on just what the job would entail.

When the Burlington Land Partnership was set up every member of Council wanted to be on it – wasn’t something the city manager wanted so no one sits on the BLP – which by the way is a significant venture that the general public knows very little about.

Transparency became her middle name – she draped it around her like a flag

In 2010 there were three new members on Council. Meed Ward, newly elected had a lot of time in as probably the leading delegate as a citizen knew the ropes. Paul Sharman had a lot of senior executive experience in the private sector and knew his way around process and financial reports. The only really new ember in 2010 was Blair Lancaster. There wasn’t nearly as much learning on the job for the newbies.

And Rick Goldring who had become Mayor had a good feel for what the job was about – which is not the same thing as being able to actually do the job.

Normally wears a winning smile.

Meed Ward is now in a similar situation. She is Mayor but has yet to create the set of skills needed to make it happen. Politics is the art of the possible with grey being the dominant colour – black or white doesn’t work.  Meed Ward doesn’t do grey.

Listening intently and being able to read the wind as well as the tea leaves in a cup are vital. It is an art with an understanding of the little bit of science that matters.

What a Councillor is made of should be evident by the end of the third year of the term – and with Meed Ward it is evident but it isn’t all that useful.

Expensive but well worth the price – great legal counsel solved a problem for the ADI Group – shovels are in the ground and the cranes are hauling concrete.

There have been some major wins. The Mayor managed to get rid of the Planner in place when she was elected. She did get the Urban Growth Centre moved north and proved that the a bus terminal that is the size of the average kitchen is not an MTSA – despite what sharp legal counsel was able to convince an OMB hearing that it was.  That was a big win for the ADI Group

Meed Ward seems adrift when it comes to solving the football, almost missing in action on the redevelopment plans for the Waterfront Hotel.

She gave Black Lives Matter the coverage it needs and then got totally silly with her drive to put Rainbow Crosswalks in every ward while learning to live with a budget that needed some time in a Weight Watchers class.

In 2018 the Gazette said Meed Ward was the best of the three people running for the job. We expected her to grow into the job – that hasn’t happened and unless she has a horse shoe in her purse that can be put to good use, or knows how to pull a rabbit out of the hat, she is in trouble.

Rick Goldring seldom wore his chain of Office outside Council Chambers

So much so that Rick Goldring is understood to be looking at his chances of once again wearing the Chain of Office.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Are there other candidates that might want to reach for that brass ring? There are – but they are nowhere near ready to show their hand.

As for the members of Council Meed Ward will have the support of at least two – one of which may not win his seat come October 2020.

The problem with the football and the strange situation with the Waterfront re-development project will follow.

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

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Communications people at city hall are limiting what they choose to say

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

A report from City Hall on how the Emergency Control Group was looking forward and beginning to think about when the State of Emergency could be lifted had a couple of bits of data that raised some questions.

The report mentioned that a “few” staff members described themselves as reacting from “suspected workplace transmissions”.  Not quite sure what that means – but with a positivity rate of more than 40% in the overall provincial population and the Premier talking about hundreds of thousands of people flooding the hospital system and the folks at Joseph Brant saying don’t come to the hospital – self diagnose – that few (five people) doesn’t resonate all that positively.

We also asked if there were any members of Council, members of the Emergency Control Group and the Burlington Leadership Team had reported symptoms or gone into self isolation.

We were told that information wasn’t available due to privacy and confidentiality protocols.

That’s equivalent to what the ostrich does with its head.

City Manager Tim Commisso, above and Sheila Jones are the core strength of the administrative side at city hall. Were both to be ill at the same time – things would be difficult.

Were Tim Commisso, the City Manager and Sheila Jones the best Executive Director the city has to both be coping with the Omicron variant at the same time the city would be in close to dire straights.

There are a lot of people referred to as leaders – Burlington has precious few who bring to bear the experience, skill set and command know how that Jones and Commisso – with the exception perhaps of the Fire Chief.

Several of the other bright Executive lights at city hall know their jobs exceptionally well – Joan Ford leads at that level, but that doesn’t quite equate will tested, proven leadership.

A touch of transparency would go quite well about now.

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

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Confusion and frustration reign when competency and skilled managers should be at the wheel

By Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The Provincial Science Table determines the Omicron variant of Covid19 is here and it is going to infect thousands.

The Premier does another media event and implores people to call the telephone number set out in front of him and get vaccinated.

People turned out in droves; some line up at 5:30 in the morning waiting for the GO-VAXX bus to arrive.

Someone somewhere in the bureaucracy said walk-ns were permitted – all you had to do was show up and you could get your first shot; your second or the booster shot.

A GO-VAXX bus has the capacity to vaccination 247 people in a day.

It didn’t take much in the way of math skills to see a train wreck coming.

Hundreds were turned away and told to go online and register.

Add to this “dog chasing his tail” scenario: those refusing to get vaccinated at all and complaining about their rights being trampled upon with less than a thought about the rights of others not to be infected by someone not prepared to be vaccinated.

Most responsible organizations are respecting the right not to be vaccinated but insisting that the consequences have to be borne as well.  Don’t show up for work until you are vaccinated

The vaccination numbers for the Region of Halton are very good – depending on how you slice and dice them there is a cohort that has a 93% vaccination level (80+ with one dose).

Yet there appears to be some confusion and a lot of frustration.  With more than 1000 airline flights cancelled a few days ago it is clear a lot of people aren’t going anywhere.

The numbers today popped up to record 10,436 new cases with 726 hospitalizations and 190 in ICU.

The damage resulting from the Christmas get togethers is coming in.  Expect a lot more with New Year celebrations.  We have experienced 20 months of living through a pandemic and there is little assurance that once we get through Omicron there won’t be another variant.

People will want to let loose and assure themselves that even if they do get infected the Omicron variant isn’t all that serious.

The tourism and hospitality sectors, particularly at the small business level, have been almost decimated.

Parents don’t know if classes will open in January.

Many people are reluctant to return to jobs that put them in direct contact with people they don’t know who might be infected.

We learned yesterday of a person getting ready to start a new job but having to isolate for ten days – the person isn’t infected but the children are.

The province says more than 176,000 vaccine doses were administered yesterday. 90.7 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have one dose and 88.1 per cent have two doses.

When we can step back and look at the vaccines the pharmaceutical sector has produced in very short periods of time, yes, we know they are making a bundle but the fact remains – some exceptional science has been done.

There are two levels that continue to disappoint.  The Neanderthals who don’t understand what is taking place and refuse to be vaccinated, and the provincial governments that manage to screw it up time after time.

There is more than business at stake.

Ontario’s Premier is fixated on businesses being open – failing to realize that it isn’t all about just the economy.

Is anyone convinced there is a clear, well thought out plan to get us through all this?  At a time when threats of polarization and social fragmentation prevail it is fair to ask if there is a national collective of trusting citizens able to confront the contemporary challenges.

Keep in mind,, dear reader that come next June – not that far away – the stumble bums in office now will be seeking your vote to continue doing what they have been doing.

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

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Council passes a budget without letting the public see just how dysfunctional this tribe of seven actually is

By Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The spin masters at city hall are doing everything they can to put the best possible spin on the budget decisions that were made yesterday afternoon.

A media announcement declared: “ City Council approves 2022 budget: 2.87 per cent overall tax increase to maintain City services and infrastructure, and address continued impacts of the pandemic.”

The statement is true – it is a fact – however it isn’t the fact that matters most to you.

You want to know how much the city increased your taxes: THAT number is 4.62% over what the taxes were last year.

That 2.87% number is the result of combining the taxes you will pay to the Boards of Education and the taxes you pay to the Region. The city collects all those taxes from you.

This is not a good budget – not just because of the size of the increase. The Mayor said it was less than the current rate of inflation – which is also true.

The media release also said: “For example, homeowners with a home assessed at $500,000 would pay an additional $111.80 per year or $2.15 per week.

When was the last time you saw a house in Burlington assessed at $500,000? Houses are now in the $850,000 range with $1 million prices showing up regularly.

The spending that the city does is the number that matters to you. And that spending increased by 4.62% over last year.

Council did manage to reduce the size of the budget Staff had presented – but by less than 1%

The five year simulation suggests that we are looking at higher tax increases for a number of years.  The best Council could do was shave off less than 1% from the budget Staff gave them.

These are very tough times; everyone knows that. What we have a right to expect is straight up honest answers and information from the people we elect.  That seems to be in short supply these days.

It is unusual for municipal counsellors to increase taxes in an election year.

There were a number of way this Council could have gotten the increase into the 3.5% range.

Getting what she wanted proved to be out of the Mayor’s reach.

The problem was Mayor Meed Ward could not convince her council colleagues to see things her way – All, except for ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, voted against this budget

Mayor Meed Ward called this “… a true collective effort of Council and staff in service of our community to deal with now needs and plan for our future.”

In truth it is the best this council could do given the level of acrimony between a majority of the council members and the Mayor.

Few are prepared to stand up to the Mayor and wrest the control she now has and ensure that the voices of the others are fairly heard. Councillors Stolte and Kearns need to stand up to the Mayor.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan chaired the Budget Committee: prevented Council members from moving motions on more than one occasion.

On just about every issue the Mayor has the full support of ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan.

The balance of the other four tend to side with Councillor Sharman who was certainly doesn’t get credit for making sure this budget fully served the people of Burlington.

Galbraith is perhaps not aware of the election race he is going to face next October. There are people in ward 3 considering giving Nisan a run for that council seat.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman with his eye on the prize

As for the Mayor – you heard it here first – Former Mayor Rick Goldring will run for Mayor in 2022. There is a substantial group that are urging him to run again.  He is positioning himself for a run – whether he throws his hat in the ring – only time will tell.

Councillor Sharman will also run for Mayor and because Goldring will take votes away from Meed Ward – Paul Sharman could well be the Mayor of the city for the 2022 – 2025 term.

This terrible budget exercise can and should be seen as the beginning of the 2022 municipal election.

Before then however, there is a provincial election that will take place. There are some changes needed at that level as well.

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

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Council struggles to recommend a budget that can be voted on

Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Some background on the budget process to put what took place last week in context.

Staff prepare a budget setting out what they believe is needed in the way of funding to operate the city.

They prepare a Capital Budget and an Operating Budget.

There is a lot of work done to get the drafts of the budget completed including presentations to Council at Standing Committees.

That budget is then debated at a Council Standing Committee.  Burlington uses BARs (Budget Action Requests) prepared by each council member setting out where they would like to see changes made in specific items.

Those BARs then become the agenda for the budget meeting

This is the process when Council tells staff what they want made in the way of changes.

The work Staff does is administrative; the work done at Council is both administrative and political.  Council members have views and projects they want to advance; see it as the individual council member’s agenda.

The Mayor also has an agenda.

And 2020 is an election year.

The budget timeline was to have council do its work on the Tuesday and Thursday and send a recommendation to Council that would be dealt with on December 14th.

That didn’t happen.  The four votes required to get a recommendation to Council just weren’t to be had.

Budget Committee Chair Rory Nisan

Between now and the 14th individual council members were asked to review their original decisions and come up with ways they think they could get closer to whatever number is going to be acceptable to the Mayor and Rory Nisan Chair of the Budget Committee.

Council would review the recommendation on the 14th, vote on it and if at least four votes for the budget can be found at council it passes and we would all know what we were looking at in the way of taxes for 2022.

However, if at any point in the process a member asks that the vote be called the Chair has to call the vote.  If the Chair doesn’t call the vote he will be challenged this time and forced to call the vote.

Councillor Sharman tried to force a calling of the vote at Standing Committee on Thursday but got stiffed by Chair Nisan who understood the rules better than Sharman.

As messy as all this has been there was one point that everyone agreed upon before the Standing Committee recessed on Thursday – any ideas for changes would be run by Treasurer Joan Ford who would coordinate whatever was put in front of the Standing Committee on the 14th.

Joan Ford, Executive Director of Finance, has a busy few days ahead of her if there is going to be a Council recommended budget.

Ms Ford has a busy weekend ahead of her – she can expect a majority of the members of council to be on the phone to her.  Fortunately for Burlington this is a treasurer who knows the budget and the ramifications when changes are made.  She has been supported by Lori Jivan who has been crunching the numbers.  At some point Ms Jivan will be treasurer somewhere – she has been doing a great job.

As for Mayor Meed Ward she desperately needs a vote from the Committee that recommends a budget.

Without that her re-election prospects are at serious risk.  As it is, the myth that she leads a Council that is reading from the same hymn book is no more.

Related news items:

Is the budget the first municipal election skirmish?

Sharman pushes Council to get more information when preparing budgets.

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

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Are there grounds for dismissing the City Clerk?

By Pepper Parr

December 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

In the municipal world the Clerk used to reign supreme.

The person holding the office had years of experience and understood the needs of the people and knew both the strengths and weaknesses of Staff.

Like most things, the administrative needs grew and people with better educations and stronger administrative skills began to be hired and grew into becoming CAO’s or City Managers.

Kevin Arjoon came to Burlington from Halifax

The position of Clerk remained: bylaws require the signature of the both the Mayor and the Clerk before they can be declared.

When a new Clerk is hired the first task for the new hire is to get the lay of the land: what exists in the way of staff; get to know the members of Council; take a hard look at what there is in the way of Governance policies and scour the outstanding Staff Directions.

Staff Directions are documents that instruct staff to perform specific tasks and report back to Council.

They are debated at Council meetings, written into the minutes and with web casts, now archived, are available to the public.

To say the 2018 Staff Direction related to the issuing of taxi licenses was lost is (a) not true, (b) rank incompetence and (c) a sign of some pretty deep rot somewhere in city hall.

Kevin Arjoon, current city Clerk.

When a Staff Direction doesn’t get followed up on, it can lead directly into the hearts of the lives of people.

The lack of a taxi service limits in an often severe way the way some people live their lives.

This isn’t the place to dissect those instances.

This is the place to ask the current Mayor and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman what they have to say about the Staff Direction that can’t be found.

Both have been on Council since October 2010 and were in the room when the Staff Direction was created and voted upon.

Time for a heart to heart talk involving the Mayor, Councillor Sharman and the City manager about what to do about the current Clerk.  This one can’t be blamed on City Manager Tim Commisso, he wasn’t an employee in 2018.  However, he did hire the current Clerk.

Some feel there are grounds for dismissal.

What is not acceptable is the cover up that appears to be taking place.

There is a very competent Deputy Clerk in place – a staff position Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wanted to get rid of to save about $150,000, but that’s another story.

Related new stories

New city Clerk

Managing an at times fractious council

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

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The Mayor is now in re-election mode - much different campaign team this time

By Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Creating the organizational structure needed to run an election – and win – requires a network.

To the winner go the spoils.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and her husband Pete were out for dinner with Dianne and Nick Leblovitch at Jakes earlier in the month.

Was this the first meeting of the Mayor Meed Ward 2022 re-election team?

Meed Ward had a solid team during 2018.  Pete Ward is a fine strategic thinker and knew what his wife needed in the way of emotional support as well as some sound strategic thinking.

Pete delivered on both levels.

The Leblovics were part of the 2018 team and, based on the information we have, they are the only two who are hold overs from the 2018 election.

That is unusual and has resulted in several noses being out of joint.

Nick Leblovic is a long time political junkie and loves being around people who are close to the seat of government.

Wife Dianne has a well honed political sense that goes all the way back to when Cam Jackson was Mayor.

There was a time when, as publisher of the Gazette, there would be long Saturday morning calls from Nick who was looking for updates, reaction, and as much political gossip as you could feed him.

At the time, Leblovic was the Chair of the Waterfront Advisory committee that ran into a sunset decision which brought a fast close to his career as an Advisory Committee Chair.

When he was told that the committee would cease to exist at the end of the year Nick; said he was blind-sided.

The chummy relationship with Nick came to an end soon after when he sued me and the Gazette for a million – which I didn’t realize I had.

The Libel action didn’t go anywhere.  Leblovic chose to be his own lawyer and either lost interest or forgot how to practice law.

Can the Diane Leblovic political savvy, Pete Ward’s strategic ability, and the support Meed Ward has from her tribe result in another win?

Time will tell but get ready for a rough and tumble election.  Recall what was done to Meed Ward when she ran in 2018.

Related news stories:

Life of the Waterfront Advisory Committee comes to an end.

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

 

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The grandfathering given to developments south of Lakeshore Road and east of Brant make Burlington a much different city

By Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

We now know a little bit more about the developments that have been grandfathered by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and will proceed through the Ontario Land Tribunal process.  If past appeals are any example, they will be approved at that level.

Five years from now Burlington will be a much different city.

A closer look at what has been grandfathered and what they want to build is now possible even though city hall and the Office of the Mayor haven’t had much to say.

It is a different skyline. The degree to which it will change the small, local feel that many people have of Burlington is something that will work itself out if these two towers go up.

The Waterfront Hotel site, even though not yet at the application stage has been grandfathered.

The Core Development that runs from one side of the football to the other – from Lakeshore Road on the north to Old Lakeshore Road on the south has been grandfathered.

The development planned for the eastern end of the football, one of the Carriage Gate developments has also been grandfathered.

This is the structure that will sit right next to Joe Dogs. How that hospitality operation will operate is something that they are certainly thinking really hard about.

The development that would be next to Joe Dogs on Brant street – put forward as a 30 storey building has been grandfather as has 407 Martha – a building that is very close to Rambo Creek where part of the retaining wall has been described as not all that safe.

2085 Pine, a property that has changed hands a number of times and been before council with different suggestions on just how much height there could be and at the same time preserve a heritage building at the front of the property – that, too, is at the OLT.

The land between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road, known as the football because of its shape was at one time described by former Toronto Mayor David Crombie as a jewel we should not let get away on us.

It became a jewel that developers realized needed a bit of polishing up and then sold off as a very desirable high end property that would never have a building put up between it and the lake.

Somewhere in the last ten years the city was never able to come up with a plan that would secure that land and make it more public space.

The CORE Development takes up all the land between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road in the centre of the football area. The plan is to keep the popular but expensive restaurant that has been on the site for a long time.

The Carriage Gate people see this development as the eastern gateway into the city. Old Lakeshore Road is to the left with Lakeshore Road to the right.

With the grandfathering in place all the planners are left with is the south side of Old Lakeshore Road:  Top of bank rules limit what can be done on that land.  The heritage designation Emma’s Back Porch has, will limit what can be done with that property.

Once we are out of the pandemic we can expect someone to lease Emma’s and get it back into operation. Not sure how pleasant a local it will be with all the construction that will be taking place.

The triangle shaped property will be where Carriage Gate puts up their 25+ tower – they see it as the eastern gateway to the city. The property to the immediate left is where the CORE development will be built. To the left of that is parking across from Emma’s Back Porch which is owned by 2084 Lakeshore Holdings Ltd.   They also own the small parking lot to the east of Emma’s. On the western tip of the football the property is owned by a trust – we’ve yet to learn who the beneficiary is of that trust.

What does all this leave the city with?  Is there nothing more in the way of options?

The pandemic has changed the way citizens can communicate with the elected leadership and that elected leadership hasn’t done all that much to find ways to hear what citizens have to say.

The Office of the Mayor has seen this as an opportunity to put her spin on what has taken place.

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

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Did Mayor Meed Ward miss a much needed opportunity or did the Minister of Municipal Affairs take a pass on meeting with her?

By Pepper Parr

November 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

In the world of politics – getting the right people in the right room at the right time is an art.

Our Mayor may have missed some of those art classes.

Mayor Meed Ward invited all the members of the OBCM –  Ontario Big City Mayors to hold their October 15th meeting in Burlington at the Pearle Hotel and Spa.

The Gazette didn’t have a lot of information on how that meeting was put together. Neither the Mayor or her staff talk to us.   We’ve not been BFF for sometime. But that is another story that will unfold in the fullness of time.

All we knew was that there was a lot for the Mayor to brag about – the locale of the Pearle and its stunning grand stairway and the wide open space overlooking the lake and the Pier would be the envy of any Mayor.

Parts of the meeting were held via Zoom.

Mayor Meed Ward has needed a one-on-one conversation with Steve Clarke, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for some time.  The OBCM event was a perfect opportunity.

The Minister is reported to have said publicly on June 15th of this year that he was on for having the Urban Growth Boundary moved from the location that was agreed upon by the 2014-2018 City Council to something further north and closer to the Burlington GO station.

Meed Ward argued strenuously during the 2018 election that the boundary should have been much closer to the Burlington GO Station to begin with.

Once she was elected as Mayor the first thing she did was fire the City Manager and then began the process of revising the city’s Official Plan that had the Urban Growth Centre moved north.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clarke: Mayor hasn’t been able to connect with the Minister – maybe the Minister doesn’t want to talk to her.

One of the problems was that there were a number of significant developments that were banking on being part of the UGC – should that be moved they would lose part of their development argument.

All that was needed to make the City and Regional decisions real was the signature from Minister Clarke.

But that signature wasn’t forth coming.

The press conference at which the Minister is reported to have said he was on side for moving the boundary was seriously questioned by a member of the Ontario Land Tribunal who would not accept it into evidence.

One would have thought that a political operative of Meed Ward’s stature would have found a way to set up a one-on-one with Minister Clarke. The OBCM event taking place in Burlington with the group meeting at the spanking new Pearle Hotel and Spa (it is understood that some of the Mayors taking part stayed over at the Hotel) was a perfect place for a conversation.

Having Minister Clarke taking part in the meetings was a natural thing for him to do. He is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and all the biggie municipal Mayors were either attending personally or taking part via Zoom.

But Minister Steve Clarke did not make it to the city on October 15th.

One has to wonder – why a connection wasn’t made. Is Burlington too small for the Minster to pay attention to or is the Mayor just too small a fish for the Minister to make time for?

Or did the Minister realize that there were serious problems with his Ministry and the City and it was better to step around that one.  His political advisers would have advised him on that one.

The public is in the dark on just what is going to happen next.  Other than blowing off some steam the Mayor didn’t really say all that much. “This is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community, which completely disregards the vision of residents, council and staff for this area.

She might have been a little contrite and admit that she really blew this one.

She did add that “Council will be examining all of our options for a review of this OLT decision.

Transparency was a big word when she was a candidate – it didn’t make it into her bag of tricks when she was elected Mayor. How come?

Mayor Meed Ward speaks frequently about her experience as a journalist.  This would be a good time for her to make herself available to media and be both transparent and accountable and lay all the facts on the table.

Mayor Meed Ward gets in front of the Cogeco cameras as well as the CHCH cameras on a regular basis.  They are seen by the Mayor as friendly folk – not the kind of people who ask her tough questions.

Ahmed Hussen, Federal Minister for Housing and Diversity was able to attend Ontario Big City Mayors event.

Why not Minister Clarke?

Related news stories:

The Minister is reputed to have said something about the UGC but there doesn’t appear to be anything in writing

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

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Wink,wink and nod, nod practices are what lead to light level of corruption - which like rust only gets worse

By Pepper Parr

November 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

A reader sent in the following: It was in regard to the Heritage Advisory Committee and the recommendations it makes.

Sad to see the usual suspects piling on in this case.

As a person who has served on a number of voluntary community boards, I can only ask: would you not expect and welcome people with an interest in art to be on an art gallery board?

Or people with attachment to gathering artifacts to join a museum board? I could go on.

All governments depend on usually unpaid citizen groups to perform such roles, since the alternative is inexpert and uncommitted paid staff.

So it’s a win-win, as long as conflict of interest principles are well defined and managed, which seems to be the case here. Searches for absolute purity after the fact by self-appointed nitpickers will only discourage others from sharing their expertise.

The piling on is part of the way some people choose to express themselves.  It happens.

Here is where I think the problem exists.  It is my firm view that when people choose to serve they are there to serve the public not themselves.

And that, in my opinion is what has happened.

The people who serve on a heritage committee are advocates for protecting as much heritage as possible.

The people who are passionate about heritage tend to share a mind set: Alan Harrington is fierce when it comes to fighting for the preservation of our history. Rick Wilson brought to light a more complete story about the Burlington Races, a name used to tell part of the War of 1812 story. His efforts resulted in a plaque being erected, and hopefully in the fullness of time, a plaque being corrected.

It would be difficult for these two men, for whom I have the greatest of respect, to not recommend a grant for a house that is a superb example of what the city wants to ensure isn’t replaced by some ugly monster house.

What the Heritage Advisory Committee does not have is a clear set of guidelines or rules that prevent self serving.

The practice in Burlington is to have a member of Council sitting on each Advisory Committee: one would hope that Councillor would have a deeper understanding of what good governance is all about and explain it to the Committee members.

This is what you don’t want happening at any level of city business.

The thing you don’t want is a situation where there is a lot of wink, wink; nod, nod taking place when decisions are being made.  That is not the case with the Barker recommendations.

That kind of behaviour is the first step to the slippery slope that lets corruption take place.

It is not about “absolute purity after the fact by self-appointed nitpickers.”  It is about consistent good governance.

It is not enough to be on the right side of the rules; it is the spirit of the rules that matters.

It is clear to me that the rules need some tightening up.  What perplexes me is that Council chose to let it pass.  Staff advised the city that a previous grant had been given – that should have raised a red flag.

I recall a discussion taking place at Council when James Ridge was the City Manager and they were discussing what a Council member could accept in the way of a gift or a benefit.  Ridge at the time said all you had to do was document everything: if someone else paid for your coffee, note it.  At the time we had a member of council who saw someone one else paying for a golf game or a ticket to an event as quite acceptable.  It wasn’t and it isn’t.

The rules need to be tightened.

Related news story:

An example of what strong advocacy can do.

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

 

 

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Are the budget deliberations going to be the first skirmish in the battle for the Chain of Office ?

By Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Taxes are about politics – good government service comes after that.

The four year average amounts to 4.14% – nothing to brag about but with inflation hitting that level – might it be acceptable?

You get elected when you lower taxes and fake the delivering of service as best you can.

Burlington changed the way and frequency that it collects leaves and then citizens fight like crazy with those who want to cut down the trees so they don’t have to rake them up or they want to put in a swimming pool.

In the fourth year of a term of office the practice is to lower taxes just enough to show that you care and add a service or two that doesn’t cost all that much,

Some will argue that COVID19 changed those practices.

When the public sees just how much money the city got from the federal and provincial governments they will wonder why taxes are predicted to increase by 5.45% over last year.

The four year tax run for the current council is not encouraging.  Is this a tax and spend government?

Too early to tell.

Sharman will experience some indigestion

Mayor in waiting Paul Sharman will tell you, even if you don’t ask, that during his first year as a member of Council he pushed for a 0% increase – and got it.

Sharman will experience some indigestion over the Mayor in Waiting title; he’s not modest – just strategic.

How the rest of council are going to explain the increase will be interesting to watch.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. was seen as unbeatable when she ran for Mayor the first time – has the music changed? Will a budget be her undoing?

The Mayor has already staked out her position – the budget they will be looking at on Wednesday is a “staff wish list” – that’s what the Mayor is reported to have said during her CMHL 15 minutes of fame bit last week.

During this four-year period, the city’s budget included the 1.25% infrastructure levy to direct towards the growing infrastructure funding gap while at the same time provided significant investments in Transit, By-law Enforcement and Forestry.

Add to the mix interest former Mayor Rick Goldring has shown in matters civic.  This could be very interesting.

 

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