Council needs to take responsibility for the tax levels it sets and not use 'funny ' numbers to disguise the real tax hit

By Pepper Parr

October 25th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The cat is out of the bag.

Ouch!

Financial people are expected to put forward a budget asking for a 5.45% increase over last year.

That didn’t come as a big surprise.

In the media release from city hall they explained that “This represents a 5.45% increase to the City’s portion of the tax bill.”

The statement is totally true.

In the beginning she was all about transparency and accountability. Something changed.

The media release also said: “When combined with the estimated regional and education tax levies, the overall projected tax increase for a Burlington homeowner in 2022 is 3.18% or $24.76 per $100,000 of assessment. For example, homeowners with a home assessed at $500,000 would pay an additional $123.80 per year or $2.38 per week.

That statement is totally true as well.  The point that never gets made is this:  The city collects taxes for the education sector and the Regional government but has absolutely no impact on the amount taxes levied by the Boards of Education and a minimal impact on the Regional taxes levied.  Burlington has just 7 of the 24 votes at the Regional level.

The combined tax level tends to make the Burlington 5.45 % look better, the reality is that the city is taxing its citizens at a level well above inflation.  Two percent increases are not going to be seen for a long time.

Citizens looking over a budget document that they have next to no chance of changing. Better that they be given a piece of cake.

As for the public having any impact – the numbers are all but cast in stone well before the public gets to see them.  For Mayor Meed Ward to say she wants the public to “ assist City Council in the budget process” and “to share their input and tell us what services are important to them.”

To what end?  Adding insult to injury this Mayor does not appear to be doing anything to find ways to let tax payers meet in a live setting and express their views.  She would rather have you “join in the conversation at the November 22 virtual town hall that she will be hosting.

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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She wasn't the Avon lady - she was Burlington's Liberal candidate who unknowingly knocked on the door of Andrew Drummond the NDP candidate

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

October 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington Provincial Liberal candidate, Mariam Manaa, kicked off canvassing in the eastern end of the city,  It was her first time out as a candidate for the provincial election scheduled for next June.

It was while knocking on doors that Manaa met NDP candidate Andrew Drummond – she had inadvertently knocked on his door.

Hard to tell who was the most surprised; Marian Manaa was out canvassing in the east end of the city on Saturday and unknowingly knocked on Drummond’s door.

“This is great,” Drummond said, answering his door with a laugh. The candidates introduced themselves to each other on Drummond’s front porch, planned a coffee meeting, and posed for a coy photo for the Gazette on a bright autumn Saturday afternoon. Drummond lamented not being dressed for the photo but was still caught clad in NDP orange.

Manaa and her campaigners were all smiles as she shared her excitement for the campaign.

“It’s really nice to connect with people and hear their stories. Some are great stories, some are heartbreaking stories but the most important thing is to hear them out and I think that’s the best part of canvassing, is that you get to hear everyone. You get a little glimpse of their life and you kind of get to see how you can be better.”

Manaa has canvassed for the Liberals before, being involved with Karina Gould and Pam Damoff campaigns and working in the former’s office as community affairs advisor. Manaa remarked that October was her favourite time to campaign: skeletons and cobwebs haunted front lawns while light wind battered sepia leaves along winding suburban streets. Despite her familiarity with canvassing, part of this is new for Manaa: she is  the candidate this time around.

Manaa spoke about the differences canvassing for herself and making a foray into provincial politics after her experience in federal government.

“It’s a little different because the accountability is on you at the end of the day. For me, running was an important step forward.

Burlington Provincial Liberal Association president Lisa Mayeski (centre) was out showing candidate Marian Manaa (right) the ropes as they did the door to door thing. The Liberals were a little thin on the ground – looking for more in the way of volunteers.

“There’s enough people with intersectional personalities able to come out and share different views from different perspectives. I think we need that, five of us who are running are under thirty. We have a great network and I think the best part of being a candidate right now is that you get to work with people from all walks of life to bring diverse voices. Being a representative means you’re able to hear people and bring their views forward, not your own views, that’s the point of representation. So, that’s why I want to be a candidate, provincially rather than federally, because I think it can make more of a difference at that level.”

Her fellow campaigners, a handful of mostly provincial Liberal staff (including president of the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association, Lisa Mayeski), were seasoned as well, often fielding questions at the door by committee.  Manaa considers her youth a positive, pointing to herself as one of the five candidates under 30 for the Liberal party. She is young but not inexperienced having worked with Gould and Damoff.

Volunteers also contributed by working on a phone bank from home.

Some eight months out from the provincial election Manaa’s decision to begin canvassing may surprise some. But she is the fresh face in the race against familiar incumbent Conservative Jane McKenna, and returning NDP representative Drummond.

The Liberal party has a lot of ground to make up after a worst-ever showing in 2018 where they lost their official opposition status provincially, and Manaa’s predecessor accrued about 24% of the vote. Manaa’s canvassing often begins with the question “are you satisfied with the current conservative government?” It’s a bid to slip into the Liberal candidate comfort zone as the alternative to the current administration.

“When people come to their MPP, they come to them because they’re usually at their last resort, so if you’re not there for them you really shouldn’t be in that office, and it’s time for you to rethink things and that’s why I’m running against Jane McKenna,” said Manaa.

Andrew Drummond will surely have something to say about Manaa’s bid to position herself as the alternative to McKenna, but whatever it is it wasn’t said during their chance encounter yesterday in the infancy of a long campaign.

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Making decisions: Soon maybe on some key issues

By Pepper Parr

October 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

To get some sense as to where your ship is going – you want to know something about the person at the wheel and the decisions they make.

Same rule applies to the Mayor of Burlington.

There have been some very good decisions. The decision to have the Urban Growth Centre moved north was a good decision.

A smart lawyer and a planning department that didn’t understand just what the concept of Mobility Hubs (now called MTSA’s) was all about.

The Mayor was dead on about the bus station that was declared a Major Transit Service Area – as soon as she had all the information she saw the obvious.

The disturbing part of that was that the council that served from 2010 to 2018 neither knew or weren’t told by the planning department that the designation given that bus station was an error. Instead they left it in place and the result is the 26 storey Nautique that is now under construction.

Someone in Planning should be wearing that one.

Meed Ward understood the mood of the electorate and chose limiting development and making sure that the development that was coming was the right kind in the right place.

She basically chased the developers out of the downtown core.

Admittedly there are a number (about four with several pieces of land within the football that have not been dealt with) of development along Lakeshore Road and within the football that are a problem.

Mayor Meed Ward does not appear to be ready to take a position on the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site. Is this one of those “right things in the right place”?

And of course there is the Waterfront Hotel development that could take the growth of the city as we know it today in a much different direction.

Perhaps it is time to think in terms of how Burlington could adapt to the change and make it work for them. We don’t see the city planning department getting in front of issues and being proactive.

The decisions in front of the Mayor now that are a concern are:

The Holiday market, which is now  a done deal that got through Council under the shadiest of circumstances;

The park within the Molinaro development at Brant & Ghent;

The Waterfront Hotel site and the redevelopment of that property; and

her enthusiasm for the Holiday market scheduled for December 9th to 12. The Mayor buys into the claim that 1000 people will take part. What that market will do to the merchants in the downtown core who are struggling to stay above water is something they Mayor doesn’t seem prepared to take into account.

Very recently the Molinaro Group took part in a Statutory meeting in which they revealed their plans for a half acre park that would be created at the east end of the development at Brant and Ghent.

Traffic for the towers on either side of Brant would exit and enter via Ghent. The half acre park is shown on the far right. Title to the land would be registered with the Condominium Corporation .

The plan was to create the park, then turn it over to the condominium corporation that would eventually be set up to represent the interests of the condominium unit owners.

The idea that the unit owners will go along with their owning and maintaining a park that would be open to the public is a real stretch.

Anyone who has served on a condominium board would tell you that this is one of the craziest things they have ever heard of.

This is described as a half acre part which was described as bringing some of Spencer Smith Park north

The Mayor seems to think that the city would get another park at no cost and residents of a condominium will cover the costs of keeping it operational.

Renderings on what a park could look like.

Will the information about the park for which unit buyers will have to be clearly set out in the sales literature? Will it be clearly set out in the condominium agreement – those things run to several hundred pages which only the lawyers read.

The Mayor does not appear to have taken a position on the proposed redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel site. One has to ask: Where is the claim that this Mayor wants the right development in the right place ?

There was a time when Meed Ward was all about Truth to Power – now that she has the power Truth seems to have been mislaid.

Growing from a really ballsy ward councillor who brought about some significant changes to the way the city operates, we appear to have a Mayor who has lost the wind she used to have in her sails.

She has pulled together a large part of her re-election team and she is in campaign mode.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman – considering his options?

And at this point there doesn’t appear to be anyone willing to run against her – except for Councillor Sharman who is probably considering his option.

Go for it Paul!

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 number of cars on Burlington streets isn't being looked at properly

By Pepper Parr

September 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward once said that fireworks were something she heard about from residents almost as much as parking.

Parking – where do the people driving put their cars when they want to shop, or visit or dine?

Back up a bit and ask – where are all the cars coming from?

Back up a bit more – when a development application is filed with the Planning Department one of the reports that must be included is a traffic study.

Look at any number of those studies and they will all say that the number of cars that might be added to the flow of traffic in the city is “acceptable”, or words along those lines.

The people who write these reports are seen to be professionals who know their craft very well and their evidence is accepted as true.

The traffic reports get an OK from the planners.

And – the OK for that single traffic study might be very valid.

But there is a bigger picture that has to be looked at – and at this point no one is looking or asking the question.

All the traffic from the underground garage will exist on to Elizabeth, shown on the left. To the left of the development is the site for whatever the Waterfront hotels site ends up looking like for the site

The hundreds of cars coming out of the Bridgewater Development will exit the development onto Elizabeth street and then can continue north or go right or left on Lakeshore Road.

The hundreds of cars that are expected to come out of the proposed redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel site also empty onto Elizabeth Street and then can continue north or go right or left on Lakeshore Road.

While this is, at this point in time, a Ward 2 concern it will become an issue elsewhere when the large developments along Fairview and in the east end of the city come online.

We challenge Councillor Kearns to look for a way to require traffic studies to focus on the impact the single development will have (they are already required to do that) AND to provide a report that sets out the impact their development will have on new developments already approved within a 120 metre radius.

The planners can work out the specifics; the objective is to have information that sheds light on that bigger picture.

It is the bigger picture – everything happening within a specific radius that isn’t being looked at.

The city planners don’t ask – they aren’t required to.

We don’t quite why Heather MacDonald, Chief Planner doesn’t go before council and point out that they are not asked to report on the bigger picture – and ask Council to give them a Staff Direction to do just that.

At some point someone has to get ahead of the problem and ask the bigger question.

If we don’t the phrase in the Official Plan that has Burlington as a “City that Moves” will have to add – moves very very VERY slowly.

To Lisa Kearns and Heather MacDonald – the ball is in your court.

Looking forward to listening to what you put before Council on this one.

 

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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Public can now get a look at what the developer wants to do with the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

September 21st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On the evening of September 8th, there was a virtual pre-application presentation given by Bousfields, planners for Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. , which is the company expected to make the application.

It was the first look at what the property owners had in mind for the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site.

Two things about the images shown below – we were able to show a bit of what the developers have in mind last week.

I think the design is superb.

But I don’t think that design is what the people of Burlington want. It is some distance from the slightly quaint look of the downtown core, which isn’t all that big. It is my belief that there isn’t all that much vibrancy to it. But that’s my personal view.

The decision that gets made about this development is to be made by the people of Burlington.

Unfortunately the people of Burlington didn’t get to see the presentation.

There were just over 100 people participating in the virtual presentation – of which at least a dozen were city staff.

During the Q&A part of the presentation the Gazette asked how we could get a link to the presentation which was recorded.

No one had an answer so on September 11th, I reached out to the Director of Communications Kwab Ako-adjei with the following:

Greetings

I think you will have taken in all of the pre-application virtual meeting on Wednesday.

Quite a show.

As you know it was recorded and the developer didn’t raise any objection on it being made public – what wasn’t clear was –

Thomas Walker (I erred and used the wrong last name – it is Douglas) was asked and didn’t seem to know where it would be located nor did he leave me with the sense that it would actually be put on the city web site.

Would you follow this up for us please.

I address this to you because we intend to follow how the request is handled and want to be on record as having reached out to the head of the Communications department.

Stay well

I later got a reply from Carla Marshal, who is one of the Communications Advisers with the city.

Good morning, Pepper.

Please take a look at this information, which should help to clarify the City’s role in the development application process: Understanding the Development Application Process – City of Burlington

The meeting was led by the developer so the developer owns the recording of the event. The City does not own the recording; the developer does. It is at the sole discretion of the developer, in this case, Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. c/o Bousfields Inc., if and where the recording is posted; it is up to the proponent to decide whether they will post the recording online on their own website: https://bousfields.ca/

Shortly after there was a response from Suzanne Vukosavljevic,  who was filling in for Marshall..  She said:

The City posts its own meeting recordings on the City site but in this specific case you are asking about, it was not a City meeting so therefore, the City is not posting the recording.

Your questions have been answered by staff below.

Thanks for your interest.

The city provided the following:

As the communications advisor for Planning, I have worked with staff to provide you with the following information:

From Thomas Douglas, Senior Planner, Community Planning:

Pre-Application Community Meetings are hosted by the proponent of a development, not the City. If/when the proponent proceeds to submit a development application to the City for their proposal, as part of their application they must provide minutes from the Pre-Application Community Meeting, a written summary of public input received at the meeting, and an explanation of how public input has been addressed and reflected in the submitted application.

In cases where a Pre-Application Community Meeting occurs virtually, this may be done using the City’s or the applicant’s teleconferencing program. When the City’s technology is used, staff will record the meeting and provide the recording to the proponent to aid them in documenting meeting minutes and public input received. The City does not post the recording on the City’s website, and it is up to the proponent to decide whether they will post the recording online on their own website.

I will inform the proponent of the 2020 Lakeshore Road development proposal that the Gazette has expressed interest in obtaining a copy of the recording.

I hope this helps!

I didn’t feel my request had been met and responded:

Actually it doesn’t help very much.  I then set out more specifically what I was looking for: Carla’s responses are short – set in red.

Does the city have a copy of the event that was recorded? No
Pre-Application Community Meetings are hosted by the proponent of a development, not the City.

If not – does the city intend to obtain a copy?
No

and where will the copy be located on the city web site

The meeting recording will not be located on the City website; it is up to the proponent to decide whether they will post the recording online on their own website –

Further: whose technology was used – re: using the City’s or the applicant’s teleconferencing program. When the City’s technology is used, staff will record the meeting and provide the recording to the proponent to aid them in documenting meeting minutes and public input received.
The applicant has the recording.

Further – who would make the decision to not post the recording, should it become available on the city web site.
it is up to the proponent to decide whether they will post the recording online on their own website

I reached out to the planner Bousfields and asked where we could get a link to the presentation. And waited.

This morning there was a response from the Bousefields planner with a link to the presentation.

And later in the day there was a link from Thomas Douglas with the same link.

That’s a lot of back and forth – but we did get what we were asking for. Why the difficulty is beyond me.

There are two images below. They are of what the building will look like from Lakeshore Road and what it will look like from the Lake.

A rendering of what the development might look like from Lakeshore Road. Commercial space will exist at grade.

 

A rendering of what the site will look like from the Lake. Each tower will sit on a four storey podium and then rise to 30 storeys and 26storeys.

In part 2 – there is more in the way of visuals and comment on how the virtual event went and what was learned.

The developer can now submit an application.

When and if they do – they are expected to show how they responded to some of the issues and concerns that were raised.

Bousfields added: Note that the plans are not final and are subject to modifications as we move forward. No formal applications have been submitted at this time, and the public meeting was simply to gauge public interest and explain the proposed intent for the site prior to submission of formal planning applications.

 

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Give the Liberals a minority - and hope the Liberal Party will find the leadership needed when Justin resigns.

By Pepper Parr

September 18th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Many of us have already voted – hopefully a really significant number of Canadians will turn out to cast a ballot in this very important election.

There was no reason for this election to even take place and it is our belief that we will end up with basically the same thing when all the ballots are counted: A minority Liberal government.

Justin Trudeau does not deserve to be given the majority he wants.

There is hard work to be done: Covid19, the economy, housing – do we need a list longer than that?

The current problems aside – there is still the SNC Lavalin issue and the loss of a two female members of the Liberal caucus.

The embarrassing trip to India

The embarrassing trip to India

The WE matter

Two pronouncements from the Ethics Commissioner.

The hopes were high

The hopes were high when Justin Trudeau first ran for the leadership– another Trudeau was going to lead the country – but it hasn’t worked out that way.

That happens in politics. Let Justin Trudeau work with whatever the public gives him on Monday.

Politics being the blood sport it is – the knives will be coming out and the Liberals will begin to look for a new leader – expect to see that in 18 to 24 months.

There is a shift taking place in the way different segments of society expect their political leadership to perform.  The People’s Party of Canada is growing at a disturbing rate; the Greens are failing to grow at a disturbing rate and both the Liberal and Conservative party leaders are learning that they aren’t really as in touch with the members as they should be.

The Liberal Party polls higher than the leader of the Party and the Conservative leader is not able to impress upon his own membership that getting everyone vaccinated is critical if we are ever going to get ourselves from a pandemic to an endemic state with Covid19.

We will be watching closely Monday evening – we might be up very late or we might know as soon as the pools open in the Prairies.

The mess in Alberta – it’s actually a tragedy, that could have been avoided.  Hundreds will die unnecessary death because of decisions Jason Kenny made.

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Will the current Liberals representing Burlington in the House of Commons all hold their seats ?

By Pepper Parr

September 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

It’s just a matter of days now.

The advance poll numbers for the 2021 federal election show an increase of 20% more people using advance polls to vote than they did in 2019.

We are looking at one of the most interesting federal election in some time.  A government could fall because they called an election that wasn’t needed.

Burlington happens to have three people sitting as members of the House of Commons representing our interests.

Will all three be returned?

Who amongst them is at risk?

Given her performance during the debates, such as they were, Karina Gould has earned the right to return to Ottawa.

Emily Brown needs to take a civics class and learn what is required of a candidate.

For us the Green Party candidate was a major disappointment.

The NDP candidate certainly injected some energy and a lot of common sense but it is our view that this election is a choice between the Liberals and Conservatives.

Liberal MP fr Oakville North Burlington Pam Damoff

Over in Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff will likely hold her seat if only because the Conservative candidate had little in the way of profile and wasn’t that visible.

The Conservatives decided to hide their candidate and focus on their core vote and hope that enough people would be angry enough to oust Justin Trudeau. Time will tell if they are right.

Milton is an interesting situation. It represents the people in rural north Burlington – there aren’t that many people in that part of the world.

Milton’s ethic community is coming into their own. They are active culturally, they have good representation at the municipal level and they are now ready to take their place at the federal level.

The provincial seat is held by Parm Gill.

The Milton Conservative Party association dumped the former Member of Parliament, Lisa Raitt, from the board. It was about as close to being apolitical coup as you get in Ontario.

Nadeem Akbar, Conservative candidate for Milton. The northern rural part of Burlington is in the Milton boundary.

The issue for current MP Adam van Koeverden is going to be – has he made the inroads he needs to hold the ethnic community vote. Do they trust him or is their confidence going to go to Nadeem Akbar.

Canada has grown through the addition of immigrants from around the world. The first came from the UK, then Italy and, in time, from Japan and Germany.

Most recently they have come from the Middle East – thousands came from Syria and more thousand’s will arrive from Afghanistan.

That is how this country grew to what it is today.

It will all become clear but probably not Monday evening – there are going to be some messy situations where the fight for a seat might be contested or put to a recount.

That’s what politics is all about.

What matters new is you getting out to vote.

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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What if the pandemic never ends?

By Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What if the pandemic never ends?

What if we are going to experience one version of the Covid19 virus after another?

Where are the variants coming from – indeed, where did the virus first exist. There are far far too many counties that do not have aggressive vaccination programs.

We are currently dealing with the Delta version.  Given that less than 40% of the world’s population is getting vaccinated it is not that outrageous to suggest that there will be other, perhaps more dangerous variants.

Will we experience decades of limitations on what we can do?  As a society can we cope with that kind of a situation?

Segments of the population have very strong feelings about the current federal leadership.

The anti-vaxers are close to rioting on a daily basis.  Our human rights are being limited and we are tolerating that for the “better good” – but how long are we prepared to put up with that.

Are we going to find ourselves being inoculated a couple of times each year against the latest variant?

Ontario certainly doesn’t have the leadership it needs to get us through this – and the alternatives don’t inspire all that much confidence.

Societies go through immense change with situations like this.

The Western world became a much different place at the end of WW II – we saw decades of growth and prosperity the like of which human society has not seen since the Enlightments.

The scientists have delivered – and they might be able to continue to deliver at the same level.

But the world is made up of people, driven by their emotions and best interests for the most part.

Are we descending into a different Dark Age.

Do we have the capacity to overcome what we are faced with?

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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At a Statutory meeting last night the public got to see how changes get made - dozens had wanted to delegate and didn't know how

By Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a certain amount of satisfaction watching a political leader evolve.

They don’t all manage to grow into real leaders able to listen and to hear.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken – now she is on the other side of the podium. committee.

A number of years ago when Marianne Meed Ward was the council member for ward 2 she came to the realization that people were not aware of what was going on in their communities. A development was being proposed, notices were sent out but to a limited number of people. Meed Ward decided to do something about that and the practice now is to send notices to people within a 120 metre radius of a development.

During a meeting last night when there was a Statutory meeting about the Oval Court development a number of people complained that they had not received the notice of the meeting.

A staff member was asked if notices could be sent to a wider radius – he commented on possible limitations within the Planning Act.
Watching the web cast you could see the Mayor thinking it through – thinking perhaps about how she could arrange to have Statutory meeting notices sent to a larger area.

Watch for something like that in the months ahead.

Later in the same meeting as council members were preparing to wrap it up for the day – it was approaching 10:00 pm, the Mayor took a moment to comment on what things used to be like when development applications were filed..

There would be a Notice of a development application.

There was no such things as a pre-application meeting.

The application would be submitted and then things went quiet – not a word.

Then a Statutory meeting was called. The Planning Act required those meetings.

Council required a report from Staff with a recommendation on the development. They could say yes – it looks good or it is not a good development application and does not represent good planning.

What Meed Ward found amazing at the time was that the Staff Report would be submitted at the same time the Statutory meeting took place.

Whatever comments the public wanted to make during the Statutory meeting was irrelevant – the Staff report had already been written.

That said Meed Ward was the way things were done.

Councillors had been away from the business of getting things done for six weeks – it was a slow start plagued by technical issues. Delegations to the Statutoy meeting were coming in at a surprising clip – getting the equipment to work was a challenge.

Last night there was a Statutory meeting on the Oval Court development. There were some technical problems and it turned out that a lot of people wanted to delegate and found that they were not able to do so.

Again there were technical problems.

The Statutory meeting was very unsatisfactory to both the residents, staff and Council members.

But the meeting had taken place.

Mark Simeoni, Director of Community Planning, told Council that a Statutory meeting was mandated – a meeting must be held and it must be advertised and held in public.

He however added that there was nothing in the Act that said the city was limited to just one Statutory meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: All the ideas, all the things she wanted to do while a member of Council can now be advanced as Mayor.

Expect the lawyers who were watching the web cast to be searching through their copies of the Planning Act to see if that was true.
This is a different council, breaking the practices of the past and finding new more effective ways to get things done.

Mayor Meed Ward is far from perfect – she has a lot of growing to do yet – but it is interesting to watch her as she thinks something through, makes a note and comes back to it later on.

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School board will rename Ryerson school - city will rename the abutting park

By Staff

September 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board wants ideas from the public on the renaming of Ryerson Public School.

The city wants idea from the public on renaming the park that abuts the school.

Could they not create a joint committee and come up with a single name ?

Not on your life – there is too much political upside for all the politicians to share this one.

The school will be renamed – as will the park that abuts the property.

The decision to dump the name of Egerton Ryerson was done very very quickly – basically on one delegation from an Indigenous parent.

The statue of Ryerson was toppled shortly after it was splattered with paint. The head of the statue ended up on an Indigenous reserve at the end of a pole.

There is tonnes of research on just what Ryerson did and didn’t do but those documents aren’t going to get much attention.

This is classic rush to judgement and lets pile on a good thing.

Community members are encouraged to submit a suggestion for the new name of the school by Sept. 24

In a media release the HDSB said: “Ryerson Public School was named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental to the design of Canada’s residential school system.

Students, families and community members are encouraged to submit suggestions for a new name for the school between Sept. 7 – 24, 2021.

The HDSB recognizes the significance of naming a new school as an opportunity to:

• reflect the geography, history, local environment, culture or traditions of the community;
• consider equity, diversity and inclusion in the school community;
• name a renowned person of historical significance to the Halton community, or a real person whose contribution to society or humanity is recognized and valued across Canada.

Suggestions can be made:

• By completing the online form
• By fax — 905-335-4447
• By mail — Communications Dept., Halton District School Board,
PO Box 5005 STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON L7R 3Z2

Suggestions will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Each name that is submitted will be reviewed by a committee which will include parent/guardian representation. A shortlist of names will be prepared and presented to the Board of Trustees who will select the final name at one of the regularly scheduled Board meetings in November 2021.

The selected name for the school will be announced in a news release and posted on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca) and social media.

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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Will the hospitality sector begin standing up for their clients?

By Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

So – there is going to be a vaccine passport. Took the Premier long enough to get a wiggle on. He is right however – why isn’t there a federally issued Covid19 Passport?

Being able to prove that you are vaccinated is critical. Getting everyone fully vaccinated is proving a little difficult but we are at close to 80% and with the need to have that passport to be able to get into a restaurant or an event will push the number to, ideally 95%.

Provision has been made for the exceptions.

For those who don’t want to get vaccinated there are limits to what they can do in a public setting.

The one that really galls me is this. I have to be able to show that I have been fully vaccinated but the person taking my order in a restaurant, but the person serving the food and the person cooking the food does not have to prove they are vaccinated.

I was in a restaurant in Guelph talking with the owner and he said that he could not ask his employees if they were vaccinated.

Really?

That restaurant owner wants me to have a meal in his restaurant but he isn’t prepared to ensure that his staff is Covid free.

I want to go to a restaurant that has the courage to put a sign on the front door saying all their staff are vaccinated.

Those that aren’t – tell them not to bother coming to work until they are vaccinated. What about their human rights? What about my right to stay alive?

There is something wrong with a set up that requires me to be vaccinated in order to be served but does not require the server to be vaccinated.

If the restaurants want our business, which many of us really want to give them, then let those restaurants step up and be bold enough to make it clear they are watching out for us.

Restaurants turned to the city for help and they were given help. A lot of taxpayer money was shoveled out the door to help the hospitality sector and most people were happy to see this done.

Our Council members urged us to support the hospitality sector and to begin shopping locally.

I’d like to see those in the hospitality sector looking out for me while I dine in their establishments.

I’d also like to see the Burlington Downtown Business Association counseling their members to care for the people that they want to attract.

There is a film crew using the third floor of the building my office is in.   I rent office space on the third floor.  Every member of the film crew is masked.

Juliana Robertson

Juliana Robertson, a paramedic by training, asked me to come to the table she had set up so that she could put a little stick up my nostril to ensure that I was not infected even though I told her I have been fully vaccinated.

Sorry she said – you have to do this. I surely had the right to go to my office and do my work.  I decided not to challenge her right to “invade my privacy” She asked me to wait 10 minutes for the results and then told me I was good to go.

Robertson runs Reel Medics in Motion – her market is the film production companies  doing their filming in Hamilton. She is the Medic/Covid Supervisor on the Ghosts of Christmas Past production.  She does the Covid testing and is the first responder for anyone hurt on the film set.

It would be really nice if the hospitality sector was as conscientious.

 

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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This election is all about power - the voters get to decide who wields it

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Elections are about power.

Those who have it want to keep it.

Those who don’t sometimes think they can get it and they do their very best to win power.

The current Prime Minister wanted a majority which would give him the power he wants to run the country the way he wants.

Karina Gould has a seat in this house – Emily Brown wants that seat – you the public get to decide which woman will represent you best. Remember they both take an ideology with them.

There was no need for this election but the Governor General decided to agree to his request to form a new Parliament.

Karina Gould wants to be part of that government Emily Brown thinks she can win the seat.

The public will decide – our role is to do what we can to ensure that the voting public is well informed.

The candidates may not like what we write – we aren’t writing for the candidates. We are writing for people who are going to decide who they want to represent them

Emily Brown brings a lot to the table. She thinks she can win and should she do so – she will want to be a Member of Cabinet.

The Conservatives see an opportunity and they are going to fight as hard as they can to win the seat.

Both Karina Gould and Emily Brown have impressive educational achievements.

This country had a tradition of politicians meeting with media.

The argument that she is too busy organizing her campaign office to meet with media is spurious at best.

Ms Brown speaks of supporting traditional family values – truth, honesty and decency.

Ms Brown was the child of a military family. One would have thought she would be defend the values her Father put on a uniform to ensure we kept the democracy we have.

The power is always in the hands of the people.  Those who want that power are obligated to to be transparent and accountable.  Going door to door is part of the process, meeting with media is another part.

We wish her the best – and hope that she chooses to be what she is telling us she is.

Should she win the seat and find herself sitting in the House of Commons she will be a force to contend with.

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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That Urban Growth Boundary - what's the big deal - it was a big deal and it looks like the Mayor pulled it off

By Pepper Parr

August 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington and development have for the past five years been in one of those awkward relationships.

The city wants development, the developers want to build – the problem has been what kind of development and where.

It became a menage a trois when the province said that we had to grow – big time. More housing for more people with not much in the way of space for the traditional single family house with a nice back yard that made Burlington what it is today.

Those that live in the southern part of the city didn’t want to see dozens of high rise towers taking over.

The developers wanted their buildings to be in the downtown core where the pricey condos were being built.

The argument got intense from about 2015 to the 2018 election when the issue was the boundary for the Urban Growth Centre.

Set out below is the boundary that was in place when the current city council was elected.

The Urban Growth Boundary that is in the Official Plan that is in force now went through a number of changes. The colours define the different precincts the city is divided into. A precinct is an area that has zoning and development rules unique to that area.

Marianne Meed Ward convinced people that she could get hat boundary changed and while the fight isn’t over yet – there are new Urban Growth Centre boundaries in place and once the Official Plan gets completely approved – it is currently in the hands of the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs – where it is expected to be approved – all it has to do is get through the appeals process – there are 40 some odd organizations appealing – it becomes the law of the land.

Meed Ward was adamant from day 1 – the boundary has to be changed.

This is what the Urban Growth Centre boundary is going to look like.

Boundaries for the Urban Growth Centre that are part of the approved but not in force Official Plan.

Now slide back up and look at what was in place before a new city council set out to make a change

A huge difference – and the credit for much of it belongs to the Mayor. She was thee one who pushed and pushed and did her best not to budge an inch.

It was no small feat.

Meed Ward did not do this alone – what she did was lead the five newcomers to council, who for the most part were on her side when they were first elected, and then supported what she was setting out to do.

The Gazette has a number of differences with how this first term Mayor has handled and portrayed herself; Lord Acton had it right when he said:  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Time will tell if Marianne Meed Ward can catch herself before she falls. None of this should take away from what she did in getting that Urban Growth Boundary moved north,

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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2SLGBTQIA+: An acronym that does not help the Pride Community

By Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The definition appeared in a media release from the city’s communications department.

I had never seen something like this before.

2SLGBTQIA+ (TwoSpirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual)

This expansion of the acronym to refer to the community has gone too far.

The symbols are important -let’s not demean them with acronyms that lead to ridicule.

The fight to get the Pride community the respect it deserves has been long and hard; it has taken decades to get to the point where the community is recognized and not shunned, dismissed, shamed and hurt.

The political leadership has once again gotten over-enthusiastic and in the process hurt the people she chooses to speak for.

The Pride Community can speak for itself.

Gazette readers are commenting – some examples.

Brave step – smart move. One in every ward in the fullness of time.

Agreed (name withheld).  “I do not have the time of day for this passive aggressive approach orchestrated by the mayor. She created the survey (not staff). Now there are 2 rainbow crosswalks in Ward 2 and not one of them is in front of city hall. She will hide behind the survey results but we all know what her goal was.”

Another reader wrote:  “I was surprised to see the latest permutation of inclusivity symbols in this article (2SLGB….+). While I am fully in favour of demonstrations of support for people struggling to find their identity, there is a danger of going to extremes to include more and more subsets until everyone finds their own personal home. And let’s not forget there is another axis of identity being explored these days based on race, heritage, language and age. At some point our whole view of our society becomes a jumble of alphanumeric compartments that render it meaningless, while activists in each group clamor for special attention. Thus we become divided, not united.”

What the Halton Regional Police Service did was dignified and appropriate.

Let’s continue to raise the Pride flag and when we see instances of discrimination personally do everything we can to put a stop to it.
Support the Pride Community the way you would like your community to be supported.

Why the city communications department went to the lengths it did is both surprising and disappointing.

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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No reason for a federal election this year - maybe not even next year

By Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We ran a piece yesterday announcing the Green Party candidate whose people suggested that an election call might come as early as next week.

The next election isn’t due until sometime in 2023.

There is no valid reason to call an election at this time. The country is doing just fine with the current minority Liberal government.

The Conservative Opposition cannot get itself elected; the federal New Democrats couldn’t from a government in the very unlikely event that they did get elected.

The federal Green Party may not be a political party if they continue with the internal squabbles.

The only reason for an election is the Prime Minister wanting a majority government.

David Peterson called an unnecessary election in 1990 because he thought he would win. Ran a terrible campaign and lost.

David Peterson tried that stunt in 1990 and it cost him the government he had.

Governor General Mary Simon

Canada has a new Governor General – what little we have seen of Mary Simon suggests she might suggest that the Prime Minister go back to his office and think about it should he decide to pay her a visit asking that she dissolve parliament.

When the Liberal Caucus meets (virtually) are there Members of Parliament with the courage to tell the Prime Minister that an election now is a mistake.

Given the polls we are seeing there is no certainty that the Liberals could win a majority.

Ending up with another minority would be reason enough for Justin Trudeau to offer his resignation.

 

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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A slightly different look at the growth of the city downtown

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are public hearings taking place at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Before a full hearing can take place what are known as Case Management Conferences are held that set up the data and sworn statements that will become part of the actual hearing.

At this point in time there are appeals to the ICBL (Interim Control Bylaw) that shut down development in parts of the city for more than two years and the Approved but not in force city Official Plan.

The creation of a new Official Plan is a big deal – the changes the council elected in 2018 put in place were hugely different than the plan the 2014-2018 Council approved.

There are major dollars on the table – opportunities for eye popping profits for the developers and buildings that will change the look, feel and character of the city for decades.

Many people don’t pay all that much attention to these matters – they often don’t understand what is really complex stuff and wonder what difference their voice would make.

Then when they see a 26 storey tower that comes right out to the property line leaving them feel like they are in downtown Toronto they ask: How did this happen?

The picture below is a look at what it at stake.

The cultural and historical heart of the city has been bought up by developers who want to put up high rise towers reach close close to 30 storeys. Each circle represents a development underway of property on which a development application has been filed.

 

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An incredibly successful program gets hit by the pandemic

By Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Food Bank Executive Director Robin Bailey put the situation in plain black and while.

An incredible record of performance

The damage the pandemic has done to the annual Gift of Giving Back food raising event is going to have a negative impact on what the food banks are able to do.

In the past, Jean Longfield and her team have done a superb job of rousing the team spirits of young people involved in sports and using that energy to produce tonnes of food that kept the food banks running quite well.

When Longfield came up with the idea in 2007 it just grew and grew – to the point where she was able to pass the idea along to other communities.

Jean Longfield talking to a television reporter about the success of the Gift of Giving Back program. John Tate is in the background.

This year, there will be a food drive – it won’t use the traditional Gift of Giving Back – instead they will work under the banner of xxx and work with Burlington Centre to create a location people can take food to and have it picked up from the cars parked in the lot.

It won’t be the same – the buzz that always existed around the Giving Back event was exciting; seeing student after student come into the high school gymnasium with cartons of food that other people would need was a sterling example of our young people learning to care for others.

For Jean Longfield this must be an anxious period of time. She put everything into making the program better year after year.

To be stopped in your tracks by a pandemic is understandable – but that doesn’t lessen the disappointment.

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Race for the Liberal Provincial nomination was a messy affair.

By Pepper Parr

July 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Politics can be a cruel mistress.

A number of months ago Andrea Grebenc thought she had grown to the point where she decided she would like to try something bigger in the world of politics.

She was chair of the Halton District School Board. The Burlington Provincial Liberal Association was going to have to nominate a candidate soon and Grebenc thought she could do that job.

The process to the actual nomination of a candidate for the Liberals was messy – sloppy is perhaps a better word.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was coy about seeking the Liberal nomination. She announced; shortly afterwards Andrea Grebenc announced she was also running for the nomination. Kearns withdrew.

The Liberals invited ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns to seek the nomination. After a month or so of saying maybe yes – maybe no publicly, she finally came out and said she would seek the nomination.

A few days later Grebenc announced her intention to see the nomination.

Within 48 hours Kearns withdrew.

By that time there was a third candidate seeking the nomination.

Mariam Manaa announced she would seek the nomination. Ms Manaa, a young Muslim woman had been recruiting new members for the Burlington Provincial Liberal Party since January.

Grebenc chose to wait until May 27th to file her papers. The Provincial Liberals set June 6 as the date for the nomination meeting.

Andrea Grebenc, chair of the Halton District School Board – lost the nomination contest.

Grebenc explained to the Gazette at the time that she was working regularly with Jane McKenna, the MPP for Burlington and felt that it would be rather awkward to be working with McKenna and at the same time preparing to run against her.

Thus the wait until May 27th.

With just 10 days to sign up new members there wasn’t much of a chance to overcome the new membership lead that Ms Manaa had.

“I can tell you that the Manaa supporters were very loyal. I called many of them – they weren’t budging.”

Ms Manaa is the Liberal candidate – she won fair and square – the problem was that the rules didn’t allow those who had been Liberal supporters with Party experience to make a choice.

Anybody could become an instant Liberal.  All you had to do was live in the city and be able to prove it.

The process turned out to be a race to see who could recruit new members – Manaa recruited more than anyone else and won.

The nomination process was unfair to both Grebenc and Manaa – they were limited to a 10 minute speech with nothing in the way of debate between the two women.

Mariam Manaa – Liberal candidate .

Manaa has some very credible experience in the community. Her work for the Member of Parliament was much appreciated by the Minister and the community that she was able to help.

We were indeed in the middle of a pandemic and there were stiff restrictions. But not so many that a debate could not have taken place and streamed live.

Neither candidate was given a chance to show their stuff.

The blame for this rests in the hands of the Burlington Provincial Liberal party executive. They failed the party; they failed the candidates, and they failed the people of Burlington.

Hopefully Ms Manaa will create an election team and keep her distance from the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association – they have proven to be incompetent.

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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Gazette Comments Section Open Again

By Pepper Parr

July 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

So far the fix to the comments is holding.

It took some binder twine and duct tape and there is no guarantee that it will hold all that long – but the comments section has been reopened.

The re-design, using a different design theme, is a work in progress.

Our techie spent hours trying to figure out where the issues were – thinks he has found them. We did trial runs late Sunday and this morning – they are holding.

Thank you for your patience.

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City Council starts a six week break - back at it September 6th

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They waved to the cameras once the motion to adjourn was passed – and with that the seven members of Council were off for the summer.

They return to a thick schedule of meetings September 6th.

Some have set out pretty hectic schedules for themselves; others are taking a break.

Meed Ward - at lectern

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Nothing specific from the Mayor – she will network with her tribe and shore up the weak spots.

Stolte May 5

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Ward 4 Councillor Stolte is going to hold Pop Up meetings in parks throughout her ward. We lost count at seven locations. They will take place on Wednesdays from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Bentivegna plans on something a little more subdued – he will be meeting with small groups of five or six in back yards to listen and to ensure that they know he will be running again.

AB Apr 20

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Bentivegna is very effective in working a crowd; he plunges right in and makes friendly. He isn’t as available for media – basically he doesn’t respond; he used to – early in his first campaign he posed for pictures and talked about his plans as a city councillor. When he didn’t like what we had to say – he stopped talking.

Sharman Jan 2020

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Sharman is going to focus on his Orchard Park community – it might have to be virtual. He has an annual Appleby Line event that might make it out of the Covid19 social distancing limitations.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith will be taking part in a couple of community events. The Rolling Horse Tour d’Aldershot is on his calendar. Summer is cottage time for the Galbraith household.

Every member of Council will begin, or have already begun, looking at their election prospects.

Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns will be doing some Zoom broadcasting. A usually reliable source told the Gazette that Kearns told him she would not be running for the Council seat even if she lost the attempt to gain the Liberal nomination for a seat in the Legislature.

We all know how that event went – she dropped out the day another candidate threw her hat into the ring.
Kearns can be mercurial at times. Will she live up to the statement she is reported to have made?

The long break gives the people elected to represent the interests of the tax payers time to think about what they have managed to get done and what they want to do with the time left in this term of office.

The achievements have been significant – they set a different direction in terms of the development that is taking place and will take place.

They have also come to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses are of their fellow council members and what they can achieve personally.

Some rude awakenings for several.

For those that decide to run again – most of them will – but they aren’t all going to retain their seats.

The Mayor will run again – she loves the job and, truth be told, there is no one out there who can beat her at this point in time.

Also true – she was the best choice the city had for Mayor in 2018

The budget could trip her up – there are too many changes coming on the expense side. Insurance premiums are going to sky rocket for the municipal sector – and there isn’t much councils can do.

Spending on small items will add up –a reported $100,000 for Rainbow Crosswalks comes under the Mayor’s “want to have”. She used to talk in terms of must have and nice to have.

There are two members of Council with Mayoralty aspirations – both realize this is not their time – 2026 might be.

Tim-Commisso-finger-up-hard-eyes

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager Tim Commisso has done a fine job of rejigging the way the administration is to operate and put some very qualified people in place. He has a number of top level positions that will see retirements – Legal and Finance might not change while the pandemic has to be dealt with but once things are secure they will want to live different lives.

Will Commisso renew his contract? Probably not – but his work isn’t done yet.

However, his replacement gets better every day.  And a majority of Council thinks she great.  Awesome was the word used by several.

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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