Spring plants growing in a pond and a child's painting. Hope prevails

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There were two scenes that I came across as I drove from Milton to Hamilton this morning to get some work done at the office. Both seemed to me to be a message – word that all was far from lost.

We are in a pickle, for certain, and we need to have our wits about us as we take care of ourselves and those close to us.

We also need leaders who have it within them to make the hard unpopular decisions to get us through this pandemic.

The scientists think they know what to do; the politicians need only to hear what the scientists are saying and then take the appropriate action. The solution seems to be to take every step possible to ensure that the virus does not spread through the community any further.  We aren’t doing that as well as we need to – there are still too many new infections being reported.

Yellow plants in pond

Plants floating in a pond on Watson Road South in Puslinch Township, Wellington County.

If we don’t keep our distance from others the lockdown we are in will get tighter.

Have hope + flag

The words of a child.

The Regional Medical Officer of Health (MoH) issued a Class Order. She wasn’t asking us to do what she believed was right and she wasn’t telling us to do what she believed was right – she was ordering us to do what she believed is right.

The Medical Officer of Health has a tremendous amount of power. Her words need to be taken very seriously.

I saw those plants in that pond and the child’s painting in front of a Canadian flag as signs that we can and will get through this.

Just follow the instructions and don’t be stupid.

The people who learned that they had been infected last week were people who picked up the virus from someone they may not have even known.

On Mother’s Day, May 10th, the Premier had his daughters over to the house for the first time since the lock down.  He certainly wasn’t setting a good example; if he can do that then everyone can.

The virus is understood to take 14 days to spread once you have been infected.  Today is the 24th – will the number of infections show a spike when the MoH reports on Monday?  – they did when the last results were reported on Thursday of last week.

Class Order issued by the Medical Officer of 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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What if - we are still in lock down come December?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 12th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The strategic thinkers ask the “What if” questions.

Their job is to attempt to look over the horizon and figure out what lies ahead and then plan for that possible eventuality as well as they can.

The province is stepping very gingerly into opening things up. Parks and provincial conservation areas have been opened. Retail is permitted to sell you something and have it delivered to you at the curb.

I saw one clothing store promoting their product line – couldn’t get my head around buying a suit without tying it on first and then having the alterations done.

Restaurants are hoping the province will come up with some regulations they can live with – staying alive is their issue at this point.

We Canadians watch with despair and at times total disbelief at what is taking place south of us. Hearing the Premier insist that the border between us and them be kept closed now sounds like a really good idea. Interesting change for Canadians.

The province is dragging its feet just a little in announcing when and if schools will be opened. My take is that the writing is all on the wall – see you all in September is the message I think we can expect – but I’ve been wrong before.

Christmas tree

What if ?

The BIG question is – where will we be in December?

Will there be Christmas? If the province finds that every time they loosen up there are spikes in the number of new infections meaning they have to clamp down.

December is the month for retail. It is also a huge festive family month.

But what if things are just so bad that it would be necessary to put and keep regulations in place that severally limit what we will be able to do ?

The Premier broke the rules on Mother’s Day – will he, and others be able to exercise the discipline needed to stay the course should we be in December where we are now ?

The leadership of the country keeps referring to this as a war with absolutely no actual war time experience. We may be about to have to learn just what hard times are.

The people who are doing that strategic thinking are, hopefully, asking the hard questions.

There once was a small community in California named Paradise, which is what the people who lived there thought it was – until forest fires burned down every dwelling. Nothing was left standing.

We no longer have plagues; there are crop failures, tragedy hits some families. Life has never been fair.

All we have is our own inner strength – we might want to think about just how strong we may have to be.

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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We have unaccountable local decision-making being done by the Emergency Coordinating Group - time for some accountability and some transparency.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In normal times the administration of the city is in the hands of the City Manager who works at the will of council.

Council also issues Staff Directions which set out some very specific tasks they expect the City Manager to ensure gets done on time and within the budget.

But these are not normal times.

On March 21st, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward declared a State of Emergency and the role city council played going forward was severely diminished. When the province declared a State of Emergency that meant many of the instructions as to what a city had to do came from the province.

The City manager was, to a large degree bound by what the province was calling for.

So – what was a mere city councillor to do?

In Burlington several of the Councillors began to chafe a bit and worked on the city manager to get more in the way of information as to just what was happening day to day.

Commisso stare

City manager Tim Commisso: With most of the power over local decision making – there might be some reluctance to give it back to council.

As Chair of what is known as the Emergency Coordinating Group (ECG) the city manager takes the steps he thinks are necessary to ensure the safe operation of the city and while city hall is closed to the public there are some people working on tasks that can only be done from within city hall.

The ECG is made up of a large number of people. They meet twice a day on-line and make sure that what needs doing is done.

My understanding is that the City Manager is now giving the city Councillors an update once a week as to what was done and why.

That information however is not being shared.

If the Councillors do have a weekly report they aren’t sharing that information with their constituents. One wonders why.

One could also ask why the City Manager doesn’t share those reports with the public.

An opinion piece in the Toronto Star on April 27th raised some serious questions under the headline: “Use of municipal emergency powers has gone too far.”

Anneke Smit and Alexandra Flynn argue that “meaningful, participatory governance has been thrust aside” in the name of keeping people safe while a virus kills hundreds across the province.

“Municipalities have very weak powers in Canada’s constitutional framework, cities are subject to provincial whims when it comes to both stable funding and political structures. Local governments are overlooked in conversations about democracy and governance, yet they are responsible for many of the decisions that most directly affect our daily lives.

“Canadian municipalities have made big decisions from the start of the crisis, such as enforcing physical distancing; dealing with the functioning — or not — of public transit; access to parks; and deciding whether to dedicate extra space for pedestrians and cyclists to name a few.

“Canada’s municipalities are not governed by a “strong mayor” system. This means that city council as a whole makes decisions, not just mayors. Provincial state of emergency legislation changes this. In most provinces, municipalities have the power to declare their own state of emergency. In its survey of 65 of the largest Canadian municipalities, the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) counts 56 that have done so, in some cases for the first time in history, leaving mayors able to bypass city council votes and act unilaterally.

“While B.C.’s emergency legislation requires a mayor to consult the rest of council before they act, this is not the case in most Canadian provinces. CUI counts 10 of the surveyed cities having cancelled city council meetings during COVID-19 (including Toronto, Halifax, Windsor, Winnipeg and Edmonton). The cancellation or diminishment of council meetings means residents won’t know who made what decisions, which questions were asked, or hear staff advice, and decisions on many key issues not immediately related to the pandemic are simply being postponed.

“What is more, 28 of the municipalities have also cancelled committee meetings, and 34 have cancelled public consultations. These meetings are the backbone of local democracy. They give the public a chance to directly weigh in on issues that matter to them in their communities.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, decisions had to be made quickly. A single, authoritative voice on behalf of a government was arguably necessary. Five weeks later, much of the dust has settled, and we are left with unaccountable local decision-making in many communities and no immediate end in sight to states of emergency.”

That pretty well sets out what is taking place in Burlington.

It doesn’t have to be this way – the elected members of council can agitate and advocate for a more open process – and those with the courage to do so might better serve their constituents by being more vocal.

All seven were elected and they speak as the will of council.

The Gazette for one would like to hear that will expressed verbally.

Council ALL 2018

Elected less than two years ago – they have now let someone else make the decisions.

Related news stories:

Mayor declares State of Emergency

What does a State of Emergency mean?

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Nice idea - could we do that here?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 22nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Somewhere in Germany – food is put in a plastic bag and left for people who need it.

Simple, almost elegant.

Food - somewhere in GermanyIf you tried that in Burlington – it would probably be a bylaw infraction or Legal would find a way to say – that it can’t be done.

Nice idea though – eh!  Makes you feel good

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Ontario has a Premier that is delivering

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

You have to give credit where credit is due.

For the past month Ontario has had a Premier who has delivered.  Surprising to many, is the level of empathy we are seeing from the man.

Doug Ford - habd to head

Ontario Premier Doug Ford – being pressed at every level yet keeping it all together.

Doug Ford is there before the cameras every day of the week; answering the tough, but necessary, questions.

Yesterday he stepped away from the camera, took a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his brow.  He was sweating it literally.

There is nothing smooth or slick about Doug Ford; his oratory doesn’t soar but when he says he will “look into it” – he does.

Hearing a politician say that they will do whatever it takes and then having them deliver on that statement is certainly refreshing.

His response to the desperate situation in the long term care homes hit home for this man; his Mother-in-law is a resident in one.

He moved swiftly to make changes across the system – long term care and the people who provide the service will benefit from his ability to see the problem, accept the advice he was given and get the wheels moving.

There will come a time when the spending being done today will have to be recovered from the tax base and we will watch with interest on how the current government pulls that off.

But right now Doug Ford is leading in a way this writer didn’t expect.

Does anyone happen to know where the leader of the provincial Liberals is.  Has the New Democrat leader lost her tongue?

Many of us laughed when Doug Ford was basically hidden during the last federal election for fear that he would embarrass Andrew Scheer.

I may have issues with underlying philosophy that the Progressive Conservatives bring to the table but the man leading the government today is doing the job and I’m not embarrassed.

Listening to him say that he is a politician and he listens to the experts – and that it is his job to step aside and let the experts do their jobs is refreshing.

We didn’t see that from the federal Liberals during the SNC mess that occupied the minds of many trying to figure out just what the full story was behind the demotion of the then Minister of Justice Jodie Wilson Raybould.

Ford for the people

Doug Ford is likely to be a two term Premier.

Every political leader has people who do the longer term political thinking.  Were I Doug Ford, I would be asking my team to think about when to go back to the electorate.

When the COVID-19 crisis is behind us and things are getting back to, or close to, normal I would call a snap election – because when this is all over there is going to be a huge economic mess that may take as much as a decade to recover from and some very painful financial decision are going to have to be made.

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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I heard a very distraught man who was deeply hurt

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I didn’t know John Calvert. I knew of him. He was Director of Planning in Mississauga at a time when Hazel McCallion was Mayor – and he survived – Hazel was one tough cookie.

I was sent a copy of the letter Calvert wrote to Mayor Marianne Meed Ward expressing his profound disappointment on how the National Homes development on Brant was proceeding.

John Calvert has lived in Burlington for more than 30 years.  Watching the shape, look, and feel of the city disintegrate has bothered him for some time.

John Calvert with model

John Calvert: Deeply hurt and disappointed

I had to ask a friend for contact information and see if Calvert would take a call from me.

He said he would and we had a ten minute talk.

I heard a very distraught man who was deeply hurt talk about the Due Process that he did not feel had taken place and the need for public input on planning decisions.

He agreed with me that people were excited when Marianne was elected Mayor – many believed that the development proposals on the table were going to ruin the city.

Calvert said he “likes Marianne” he just didn’t seem to like what she was doing.

“It took me some time to write the letter” said Calvert. “I showed it to my neighbour Ed Doer who was heavily involved in the opposition to the National Homes development; he said I had written what needed to be said.”

When Mayor Meed Ward went to France to take part in the 75th WWII anniversary she went with Calvert’s wife who was one of the Burlington residents who made the Juno Beach reception centre possible. Calvert told me that the two women travelled together and got along very well.

Calvert said he was asked to speak at one of Meed Ward’s campaign funding events. “I did so willingly” said Calvert
Calvert knows the ins and out of the planning profession. He told me that the communities we build today will determine the kind of society we will have a couple of decades later.

He talked about the lack of amenities in a community that was to have 233 homes – which may have been chiselled down to 215.

“The traffic problems will be horrendous.”

Calvert hopes that this Council decides to take a sober second look at what is being proposed.

The issue for Calvert is trust and quality in developments. By quality he doesn’t mean quartz counter tops and shiny high end stoves. He means space for people to live, back yards where there is room for one of those large Italian families and parks where children can play and enough room for a child to learn to ride a bicycle.

Calvert said he was excited when Meed Ward came along – mistakes that had been made were going to be corrected. Now it doesn’t look that way.

“Someone has to stop this” he said

Related news item:

The Calvert letter

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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Easter is about more than chocolate and painted eggs - Palm Sunday ahead of us.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 4TH, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Easter isn’t about coloured eggs and the Easter Bunny.

Starts with Palm Sunday, then Good Friday, then Easter Sunday.

This Sunday we remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds waved branches and laid down coats and shouted “Hosanna!”

palm sunday kids

Children in churches around the world will take part in a Palm Sunday procession.

In many churches there is a procession with the children walking into the Sanctuary waving palm tree leaves and singing hymns.

Covid-19 has put a serious crimp on church attendance. My church, Hamilton Mennonite, sent out a note saying they “need help to do a different kind of Palm Sunday processional, and anyone of any age can participate! Here are the steps:

Palm Sunday1) Print the attached palm branch colouring page (as many as your household needs)
2) Colour (or otherwise decorate) it
3) Take a Picture of your artwork (horizontal is best). Include you holding it, if you want, or add your name to it.
4) Email it here or to Alissa at hmcpastor@cogeco.net by Friday night (or 1st thing Saturday morning if you must!)

Watch for the Photo Processional this Sunday morning in worship!

I’ll go on line to see how my Pastor handles the procession.

Think about what that procession was all about; the trial that took place, the decision to crucify a man named Jesus – that part is all fact – well documented.

The balance of the story, the Risen Lord – on the third day he rose – is pure faith – you either believe it or you don’t.

Much of our core social philosophy and fundamental social beliefs comes out of a Christian perspective. We now have many who bring a Muslim perspective to the way lives are lived.”

With parents struggling to keep their children active and at least a little entertained painting hard boiled eggs seems like a good idea and the hunt for the treats that are part of the secular Easter will keep the kids happy for a couple of hours.

You might give some thought to telling them what the season is really all about.

It isn’t the Easter Bunny is it?

On Sunday 9:45 – Join live here:

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 little more transparency at the Emergency Coordination Group please

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I was surprised to learn that there isn’t always someone from city council at the Emergency Coordinating Group (ECG).

I knew that the Mayor and the City Manager were never in the room at the same time. Tim Commisso told me in a telephone interview that he is putting in 15 hour days and stick handling 200 + emails.  He has deep experience at the municipal level and has seen a city through a disaster.  But he is not a young man and he doesn’t have as much as he needs in the way of bench strength.

A State of Emergency does change the ground rules – but it shouldn’t dilute the level of on-the-ground democracy.

Running a city under a State of Emergency is not business as usual.

The politicians have to let the experts do what they do.

However, there isn’t a reason in the world why at least one member of Council cannot be in the room. They are not in the room to participate – they are in the room to witness, record and to serve as a hobble on bureaucrats that could go too far astray.

They are not there to ask questions. A good committee chair would ask the Councillor if there were any questions or suggestions at the end of a meeting.

Right now we have a Mayor saying everything is going just fine. That may well be the case.

We are not suggesting there is anything amiss. It is when the proceedings are transparent that things don’t go amiss.

Our Mayor would be serving her constituents’ interests well if she advocated for having at least one member of Council at that table or on-line.

Sharman was right to bring this to the attention of a very concerned public.

Related news story:

Councillor Sharman finds being elected means squat during an emergency.

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Troops on the border? Is he crazy? Probably

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

   OPINION

With so much news coming at us from every direction – there are times when we might miss something or mis-interpret something.

From the left, John Norton, Sir Isaac Brock and John Brant at the LaSalle PArk Brant Day event. All three men played a very significant role in the War of 1812. while Brock lost his life t Queenston Height, Brant and Norton went on to play major roles in the growth of the native community.

Troops Canada might send to protect our border from Americans feeling COVID19 in New York

When I heard the piece about the President of the United States thinking of putting American troops along the border we share with the Americans my first thought was – that can’t be right.

Did Donald Trump think thousands of Canadians were going to head for the United States ?

If anyone wants to put troops on the border – it should be Canada.

Given what is in the process of hitting New York city – one can expect thousands to be getting in their cars with as much as they can pack in the trunk and heading for the border hoping we will let them in.

This is a crazy world. Hang tight.

Hold onSmileCouple of gems were sent to us yesterday.  Two residents, walking along Centennial Trail came across these painted stones.  Anyone know who put them there?

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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Our City Councillors seem to have parked themselves on the side lines, letting the Mayor do all the talking Do Something!

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 22, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Premier Doug Ford has said time and again that he will do “Whatever it takes” and for the most part he has lived up to that statement.

As Premier he is looking pretty good. Confident, forthright; no flip flopping. Perhaps a little bragging about the province’s industrial might – but Ontario is the economic engine of the country. I can put up with Doug Ford’s briskness: no forced empathy from this guy.

We are in the midst of a crisis and Ford appears to be doing what needs to be done.

Meghani - Mar 19th

Regional Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Meghani – not a politician in sight as she addresses the public.

The Regional Medical Officer of Health (MoH) is learning to be less bureaucratic and explaining the decisions she has made. She is making the right decisions. She will be a stronger MoH when this crisis ends.

Burlington’s Mayor is doing her best – my own view is that her pleading for the public to be more sensible and responsible isn’t going to do the trick.

The Mayor declared a State of Emergency in the city. It isn’t clear to me just what kind of power she has to force people to do what needs to be done.

Large numbers of people were reported in Spencer Smith Park on Saturday, and at Mt Nemo – people who didn’t seem to know what “social distancing” is – if they did, they ignored the need to social distance.

Our City Councillors seem to have parked themselves on the side lines,  letting the Mayor do all the talking.

During the flood in 2013 then Councillors Sharman and Dennison went door to door asking people if they were all right. Hundreds had flooded basements.

sandwhich board person

Wearing sandwich boards might be a bit much for some of our Councillors – if they care about the people they represent they will get out there with them – at a socially acceptable distance of course

City Councillors can’t knock on doors with this crisis but surely they can summon some of the innovative ideas they used to get elected.

All we are seeing at this point is their repeating what the Mayor is saying – which is good as that keeps the message consistent.

The Mayor speaks for the city and to her credit she is doing a good job.

sandwhich board

How about each Councillor buying half a dozen signs – putting a clear message on them and setting them out in different places in their ward. Real Estate agents do it all the time.

The city Councillors represent the people in their wards and it is incumbent upon those Councillors to get out as much as they can – yes, at an acceptable social distance – and communicate.

They are basically sitting at home, collecting very good pay cheques and waiting this out.

Get out there and communicate. If they are stuck for ideas – try this: Spend some of the expense money you have and buy some sandwich boards – put a message on them and move them around the ward.

Do something!

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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Is there a Regional plan in place should the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reach pandemic proportions?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  has been found in 47 countries.

We may be be close to declaring a pandemic, which is when a whole country or the world is infected.  China, Iran and Italy are struggling to control the spread of the disease. The disease is now being spread in the United States.

Ontario has now found 19 people who are infected.

There is much that is not yet known by this virus. It appears that most people do recover from an infection.

The damage to the economy has been significant; the New York Stock Exchange recorded the largest drop in its history.

Stock prices

Biggest one day drop of New York Stock Exchange prices in its history. “The game has changed with Italy and also with the new case in California,”

People have every reason to be concerned – deeply concerned.

Japan has closed all its schools.

It has been suggested that the Tokyo Olympics might be cancelled.

None of this is said to be alarmist – however we do have a serious problem on our hands.

Ontario learned a lot from the SARS outbreak – those lessons are serving us well.

The provincial Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health has a constant flow of information – we are informed at the federal level and the provincial level.

We are not informed at the Regional level.

The disease is now in Canada.  It is being passed from person to person.  That does not mean the ravages of the 1918 Spanish flu is about to overcome us – but it does mean things have changed and public behavior has to change.

The public expects leadership from the people who we have put in place to lead.  The Medical Officer of Health is a critical part of protecting us.  Saying nothing is just not acceptable.

In the event that the virus gets completely out of control what does the average uninfected person do?

What does a person who suspects they might be infected do?

What does a person who is infected do?

If there are say 100 people in the Region infected – what do we do?

Is there a plan in place?

We have plans for people to use recreational centers when the weather is sub-zero and dangerous to be out in.

The public is advised when there is a West Nile virus concern – the Gazette publishes those notices regularly as we do with an outbreak of measles.

Dr MOH

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton’s Medical Officer of Heath.

The public has not heard a word from the Regional Medical Officer of Health on the COVID19 virus.

The public deserves better.

The Medical Officer of Health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health board told a local newspaper in that community that “It’s more of a communication event than a medical event for us.”

The communications advisors at the Region said the Medical Officer of Health had no comment when the Gazette asked for a comment.

Region alcohol

A report on Halton’s alcohol consumption took up more than 45 minutes during a Regional Council meeting

The Regional Medical Officer of Health did advise Regional Council recently  that Halton could well have a alcohol problem; the Regional rate of consumption is 5% higher than the provincial rate.

There is something wrong with the priorities.

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

 

 

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Mayor studying to earn a Chartered Director designation - doesn't reveal who is paying for the expensive course.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At a Standing Committee earlier in the month we thought we heard Mayor Marianne Meed Ward say that she was taking a course on governance. It was a passing comment.

We follow up with a note to the Mayors communications aide and asked where she was taking the course and who was paying for the course – they aren’t cheap.

Meed Ward with chain Sept 23-19

The Mayor is studying for the designation of Chartered Director.

Monday evening the Mayor said that she was studying for a Chartered Director designation. She made no other comment.

The Mayor’s communications aide told the Gazette earlier this month that: “This is being paid for privately and will have zero impact on the taxpayers of Burlington.”

Who is privately? If the Mayor is receiving a benefit for something directly related to her work the public has a right to know where the money for the benefit is coming from.

This is not to suggest that there is anything untoward going on.

Our view is that first: Congratulations to the Mayor for deciding to take the course – it is not an easy course – there are a lot of people who register, attend the classes but find that they haven’t don’t the work needed to be able to pass the examination.

Before being accepted into the course an assessment based on five key areas which are central to organizational direction and governance.

  • Vision, Purpose, Values and Ethics
  • Strategic Thinking and Stakeholder Management
  • Delegation to Management
  • Discharging your Duties as a Director and as a Competent Member of a Collective and Responsible Body
  • Exercising Effective and Accountable Leadership 

This is not an easy undertaking.

The Mayor may have been given a scholarship, who gave it to her?

Burlington is going to be better off with a Mayor who has the designation.

It would have been better for the city to have paid the fees. Sure a lot of people would have howled. Meed Ward will be a much better Mayor – she already is – due to what she has learned.

This is all a little awkward – being a public person means you are always in the public eye – usually because that is what successful politicians do for a living.

For the time being the public is going to have to accept that the Mayor is getting some valuable training that will benefit all of us which is paid for by – we don’t know who.

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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Councillor gets a 'bum steer' from staff as she is learning to do her job.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the very difficult meeting at which the Audit Committee discussed the report the auditor had prepared on what wasn’t working with the CRM system the city had decided to install, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns said she asked staff what she had to do to be a good city councillor.

Lisa Kearns Election Photo

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns. Wanted to be a good Councillor – staff didn’t help.

This was very shortly after she had been sworn in.

Kearns reported that the senior people she spoke with told her she should trust staff and work with them.

Staff mislead the new Councillor; whether knowingly is for them to determine.

What Staff should have said to the new city Councillor was:

Hold us accountable.

That began to happen Wednesday of last week when Lisa Kearns and Paul Sharman asked some very hard and pointed questions about what had gone wrong with the Customer Relations Management system.

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Mayor's tweet account runs amuck - is social media the best way for her to communicate effectively?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Staff

January 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

WowWow!

The words were barely out of her mouth and then there they were – in the land of tweets.

These appeared in the Mayor’s tweet account during the Special City Council meeting that took place after her State of the City address earlier in the day.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward had her Media and Digital Communications Specialist gathering what the Mayor had to say and sending them out to her twitter followers – the volume ranked right up there with the president of the United States – and look where THAT got THEM.
Here is a portion of the content.

Land Use cover• For clarity, any policies that reference growth in the MTSA’s should also include reference to the overall MTSA typology which differentiates the characteristics between downtown and the GO station MTSA’s

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility to consider the following modification to the proposed Official Plan Amendment:

Approve the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment as amended attached in Appendix E (https://burlingtonpublishing.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=38757
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning report PL-01-20; and

Approve the proposed Official Plan Amendment as amended attached in Appendix D (https://burlingtonpublishing.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=38756
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning report PL-01-20; and
3/8

Mayor with Civic bling

As the Mayor speaks her words are captured and sent out as short tweet bursts of data.

Receive the Interim Control Bylaw Land Use Study report prepared by Dillon Consulting as amended and attached as Appendix B (https://burlingtonpublishing.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=38753
) to supplementary staff memo dated Jan. 30, 2020 to community planning department report PL-01-20; and

The motion on the floor for vote follows:
Deem that no further notice is required in respect of the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment in accordance with Sect. 34 (17) of the Planning Act concerning a change to a proposed bylaw made after the holding of the public meeting; and 1/8

“… This is merely another step we are taking in this process and we have a lot of miles still to go.” 5/5

“… We saw from the consultant’s report our downtown bus terminal doesn’t function as an MTSA like our Burlington GO station & it won’t, no matter how many transit upgrades occur. This is a transit-friendly council & we will continue improving transportation in our downtown. 4/5

“… That’s our next step, and the consultant’s report positions us with solid planning rationale for these conversations with the Region and Province… 3/5
“… These policies will help us better manage growth in the downtown. There is also an outstanding staff direction to review the appropriateness of the downtown’s Major Transit Station Area & Urban Growth Centre designations at the end of the ICBL/OP review studies…. 2/5

Mayor Meed Ward comments: “This is a really historic moment and I want to thank staff, Council, all members of our community and the consultant. This is a significant milestone for the City in getting a community vision for our downtown & controlling overdevelopment… 1/5

Here is a link to a copy of the ICBL Land Use Study done by Dillon Consulting and revised January 2020: https://burlingtonpublishing.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ash

This is a classic example of what is wrong with the tweet world – no context,  just a collection of phrases thrown up into the air hoping they will land somewhere.

Responsible, public leadership meets with media regularly to answer not just questions but follow up questions and is available for clarification.  Burlington doesn’t have that level of municipal political leadership.

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

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Mayor responds to chippy letter from MPP Jane McKenna - these two women don't seem to want to get along.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the world of politics keeping clear communications paths is vital.

It means being nice nice to people you may not have a lot of time for.

A number of people have commented in the Gazette and asked: why doesn’t the city do whatever has to be done to move the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) which is a boundary the city must have – province says so. However, it appears where that boundary line is drawn is something the city can influence.

When the UGC was created Burlington either didn’t realize they could influence the boundaries or was satisfied with what the province handed down.

As you can see from the map below – that boundary covers all of lower Brant Street which many people don’t believe that’s where the city’s growth should take place.

Urban growth centre

The precincts that are shown are out of date.

The city council elected in 2018 took a much different view and made some tough decisions. They drafted and passed an Interim Control Bylaw which froze development within the UGB – which really upset the development community.

Council also decided to re-write parts of the adopted but not approved Official Plan. That process is close to complete.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna has written the Mayor offering her services to help with anything the province needs to do. In her letter to the Mayor there were some less than parliamentary comments.  The two women have never really gotten along all that well.

Mayor Meed Ward responded to MPP McKenna in a letter dated January 13th.

It starts out politely enough.

Read on.

Dear MPP McKenna,

Thank you for your interest in the Official Plan Review matters detailed in my January 2020 newsletter. We’re honoured to count you among our readers and subscribers!

Meed Ward hands out frnt city hall

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in front of city hall.

We’re gratified that you have found the information useful, as have so many of our residents, and that the newsletter has prompted further dialogue about issues in our city, which is one of its purposes.

Please allow me to take the opportunity afforded by your correspondence to summarize the journey we have been on, where we are at, and next steps in the process of reviewing our Official Plan and vision for downtown.

Our current Official Plan was created in 1997 and has been updated more than 100 times since. Our current plan has enabled the city to be recognized at the Best City in Canada, and the Best City to Raise A Family, as well as achieve – 12 years early – our city-wide population of 185,000 by 2031.

We are also well on our way to surpassing our population and growth densities for the downtown of 200 people or jobs by 2031.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the previous council chose to develop a new Official Plan rather than continue to update the existing one. That led to the 2018 Adopted Official Plan, which the current city council is in the process of revising to better respond to the community’s vision for our city, particularly downtown.

To support the review of both the current and the Adopted Official Plan, council initiated two studies in early 2019: the Scoped Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan related to the downtown policies, and an Interim Control Bylaw to conduct a land use study to consider the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street as major Transit Station Areas and as well to examine the planning structure, land mix and intensity for the lands identified in the study area.

That work kicked off last February, and the one-year Interim Control By-law expires March 5th of this year.

Given the MTSA and UGC currently exist in Regional and Provincial policy and did so at the time we began our review, our work to update our Official Plan was required to conform to the existing designations.

John Street bus terminal

The transit station on John Street, which was once up for demolition as a cost saving measure, is defined as a Major Transit Service Area.

Nevertheless, council and the community are keen to discuss the appropriateness of the designations. As a result, last year, council also directed staff to, at the conclusion of our studies, to review the designations for the MTSA and UGC downtown.

The ICBL land use study has just been completed, with the report released to council and the community in late December 2019. Discussion of this matter is happening at committee on January 14, 2020. The scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies is expected to be completed and considered by council in April 2020. After completion of both studies, staff will report to council in May 2020 on any proposed changes to the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station Area designations applicable to the Burlington’s downtown and the Burlington GO that could be recommended as a result of any proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments arising out of the studies.

Over the past year, the City has consulted with the Region on the status and process steps related to the ICBL land use study and the scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies. The City will continue to work closely with the Region of Halton and the Province on any further changes that might be proposed regarding the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station designations as the result of the report directed to be brought forward to Council following completion of the studies. It is expected that the process to seek any changes to provincial legislation will be complex. While a formal request to Province would ultimately be required, there would be several steps that would first need to be completed including reporting back to City and Regional Council for required approvals.

The sequencing of steps is to ensure that our discussion on all planning matters, including these designations, is grounded in good planning analysis, policy and principle. This will be particularly important should the City ultimately seek any amendments to the provincial Growth Plan.

No invite for the Burlington MPP - was this a mistake or is it petty politics.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna was first elected to the provincial legislature in 2010 , lost the position to Eleanor McMahon in 2014 and regained the seat when she defeated McMahon in 2018.

We believe the analysis provided by both studies will be immensely helpful to the Province, Region and City of Burlington as we move into the next step of discussions together about the MTSA/UGC designations downtown.

We welcome and will need your involvement and assistance in this next step and appreciate the offer in your letter to work with myself, the city manager and council on these matters.

I look forward to the next step in this journey and am grateful for your continued assistance in these matters.

Signed The Mayor of Burlington.

When it comes to pecking orders – MPP’s trump Mayors. The city is required to work with the local MPP.  Meed Ward does not have the best of relationships with the current MPP nor did she have a particularly strong relationship with the former MPP, Eleanor McMahon.  Based on this observer’s experience the chemistry between the Mayor and the MPP’s just wasn’t there.

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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How many countries should Burlington twin with?

 SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington has twinned itself with two cities: Itabashi in Japan and Appeldoorn in the Netherlands.

The relationship with each city is robust with delegations from Burlington going to Holland and Japan and delegations from those countries visiting Canada.

It is a satisfying relationship for everyone and the cost is minimal.

Storming the beach on D day

Canadian soldiers storming the beach of Normandy on D-Day

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward spent the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Juno Beach in France. Prior to her leaving for the trip she learned about the very significant role Burlington plays in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The Juno Beach Centre was designed by an architect from Burlington and paid for with funds raised in Burlington.

The Mayor of  Courseulles-sur-Mer is reported to have asked Mayor Meed Ward if they could twin with Burlington. It sounded like a nice idea with much merit. Far too many Canadian men lost their lives storming the beaches of France on D-Day. It was the event that turned the tide of WWII. Twinning with Courseulles-sur-Mer  would be very fitting.

It raises the question, however, of just how many countries does Burlington want to twin with. There has to be a limit somewhere.

The Mundialization Committee is working through a number of ideas including the creation of a second category which would be a “friendship” relationship that would involve a lot less interaction and probably not include visits to France. (Link to that report below.)

The Mundialization Committee has not made any decisions; the Mayor is going to be in Holland for the 75th Anniversary of the end of the second world war and has plans to make a side trip to France to follow up on the idea.

I have a very serious concern over the creation of a “friendship” relationship with Courseulles-sur-Mer while we maintain a full blown boisterous relation with a city in Japan.

Canadians died on the beaches of France defending democracy.

Canadians died in the Pacific in a war we fought to bring an end to; a nation that attacked Pearl Harbour and wanted to conquer  America.

Perhaps the status of Itabashi could be downgraded to one of “friendship” and Courseulles-sur-Mer brought in as a twin.

It might be awkward from a diplomatic point of view but to put that small sea-side community whose beaches our men died on to defend democracy as a “friend” while Itabashi has a full blown twinning  relationship is just not right.

Juno Beach Centre

Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer, a beach where many Canadian men died during the D-Day landings.

Canadian troops liberated Apeldoorn in World War Two; an event that is celebrated by both countries every November 11th.

Japan and Germany have come along way from being what they were in the 1940’s but we don’t celebrate the wars they started.

Related news story:

Council to decide how many locations around the world the city will twin 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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The unfinished business from 2019 is the challenge for the city in the first half of 2020

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 2, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The doors to city hall were open this morning – it isn’t certain that a full complement is in place to get the wheels turning.

Ford on gapping

Joan Ford, City Treasurer, led a team that brought forward a budget that was given a solid work over by Council – her team responded quickly and found ways to meet the 2.99% this council wanted.

Many appear to be adding a couple of days to that magnificent period of time from the Eve of Christmas to the beginning of the New Year and returning to their desks on the 6th. There are a number of people, especially those in Planning and Finance who worked long hours responding to questions from council and revising documents – sometimes on the fly, who deserve any additional time they were able to get over the holidays.

The Clerk’s department has had its hands full; they will be dealing with a significant shake up at the leadership level – will the new Clerk come from within or will Burlington look for a seasoned Clerk elsewhere. There are a number of women in that department who could take on that job – the City Manager is one who could nurture one of several women who have shown considerable promise. A change in attitude within the department will be welcome for those who happen to deal with the Clerk’s office on a frequent basis.

Some members of council were making the best of that opportunity.

Land Uses Dec 2019

135 pages long and dense + the appendices.

The Mayor has said she would be burrowing down and working her way through the several documents that were part of the Land Use Study that was brought about when the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) was passed last March. The document and its appendices are not for the faint of heart; it will be interesting to hear what Council has to say when it meets at a Statutory Meeting January 14th.

Those who do read the document might well ask if the will of council has been fully discerned by the consultants who wrote the report and the Planning staff team that sent the report to Council.

Lakeshore pic 2 3d

The Taking a Closer Look at Downtown report was a blurred image to many. They get another chance on January 16th to put up a clearer picture.

Two days after the Land Use Study Statutory meeting council will see the second version of what might be included in the Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan report that didn’t get a round of applause from Council when they reported to Council in December.

At the risk of appearing petty we wonder just how many members of Council reported the gifts they received from developers, National Homes appears to be the one looking for “por favour” from Council – they have two applications that are both at LPAT with settlements that have yet to be given the LPAT seal of Approval.

Lisa excited

Kearns chose to share the gift she got with her colleagues.

Several of the Council members said that they didn’t accept the gift – instead passed it along to a community organization – except for Councillor Kearns who, after explaining in some detail that she does not accept gifts, went on to say that she shared the gift with others on the 7th floor – which is where we house Council members.

Roland Tanner, who actually reads critical documents that come out of city hall, pointed out that the Code of Good Governance , a document signed by every member of Council, as well as being the subject of a half day Workshop, states quite clearly what is to be done with any gift that gets sent along to a Council member.

One of the requirements is to report receipt of the gift to the Clerk, who is required to report annually to the public on who was offered what. We will watch for that report.

The October 2018 municipal election gave the city a new set of wheels to move forward on; the electors chose the candidate for Mayor they believed could best bring about the change they wanted. There was no doubt about that vote.

The five newcomers have had the time they needed to get to know and understand each other; appreciate the different strengths and weaknesses and create some common cause.

In the first six months of 2020 they are going to have to make some very significant decisions – the response to the Land Use Study, getting a rejigged Official Plan in place and sending a stronger message to Staff on just what the will of council is and making sure they understand just what that will is and that it is adhered to – we aren’t there yet. Several news stories and opinion pieces we will publish in the days ahead make that point quite clear.

Football - east end

Proposed for the eastern gateway to the downtown core.

The city and its bureaucrats need to make it as clear as possible to the development community that Burlington is not a community where anything goes.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: Much more than a pretty face.

Mayor Meed Ward has shown that she knows how to take the gloves off and land a solid punch on the nose – when the Grow Bold mantra had lost favour and whatever charm it had, the planners were a little slow in getting the message. Meed Ward made the course correction that was necessary when she said:  would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.”

Stand By says the city motto - for how long one might ask?It is going to be an interesting six months – far too early to suggest that the year will be: a great one for the city – although the potential is certainly there.

That phrase on the city crest Stand By is perhaps the appropriate phrase for the year.

And lastly – do the police have Sean Baird in custody ? And if not – why not?

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

Related news stories:

Mayor shows how to get a message to Staff

The gifts that shouldn’t have been accepted.

Come home Sean.

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An incredible feat planned to recover rocks from Mars: $7bn and more than a decade to complete.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 28th, 2019

BURLINGTON,, ON

 

One of the gifts for me came in what looked like a tube. It was a magazine The Economist, withiout a doubt the best magazine published in this world. It was the double issue holiday edition – which I’ve yet to complete.

There is an article about what this world is doing in space – I just had to copy and share with you. It izs about how we are going to recover rocks from Mars when xxx Incredible story – the lengths the scientists go to. Read on please.

THE IDEA, popular in science fiction, that alien life will do bad things to life on Earth if the two come into contact, is not restricted to the activities of malevolent extraterrestrial intelligences. In “The Andromeda Strain”, a novel by Michael Crichton, the baddies are mysterious and deadly (but completely unintelligent) microbes that hitch a ride to Earth on board a military satellite. They start by killing everyone in the town of Piedmont, Arizona, and then wreak havoc in a secret underground government laboratory, as scientists struggle to understand and contain them.

Utah is the planned landing place of the first samples to be collected from the surface of Mars. Optimists like to think that those samples might contain traces, even if only fossil, of life on Mars. And in case they do, the samples’ ultimate destination will be a purpose-built receiving facility with level-four biosafety controls—the highest category possible.

Mars surface

The location on Mars where the xx will land and the recovery process begins.

The Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission intended to achieve all this will require three launches from Earth over the course of a decade, and five separate machines. The organisations involved—America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, and the European Space Agency, ESA—are each responsible for specific craft in the chain of what David Parker, ESA’s head of human and robotic exploration, calls “the most ambitious robotic pass-the-parcel you can think of”.

At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, space scientists and astrobiologists outlined the details of the MSR. The project will begin with the launch, next July, of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. This will carry to the planet a successor to Curiosity, a rover that has been crawling productively over the Martian surface since 2012. The Mars 2020 rover, yet to be named, will land in a 45km-wide crater called Jezero, in February 2021. Its main purpose is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. Around 3.5bn years ago, Jezero contained a lake. Mars 2020 will drill for samples from the clay and carbonate minerals now exposed on the surface of what used to be a river delta flowing into this lake When the rover finds something that its masters want to bring back to Earth, it will hermetically seal a few tens of grams of the material in question into a 6cm-long titanium test tube, and then drop the tube on the ground. It can deal in this way with around 30 samples as it travels to different parts of the crater.

Once it has dropped a tube it will broadcast that tube’s location to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a satellite already on station that is armed with a high-magnification camera. This camera will take photographs of the tube and its surroundings, so that the tube can be found at a later date. The tubes are intended to be able to survive for more than 50 years on the surface of Mars, at temperatures less than 20°C.

The next phase of the project will begin in 2028, when a “fetch rover” designed and built by ESA will be sent to Mars to find and collect the tubes. This rover will be small, nimble and ten times faster than any of its predecessors. It will also be semi-autonomous, which will permit it to spot, pick up and manoeuvre the test tubes into the interplanetary equivalent of a test-tube rack without detailed instructions from Earth.

Once the fetch rover has collected all the tubes, it will deliver the rack to a NASA-built craft called the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). This rocket will have arrived from Earth, filled with fuel, in the same mission as the fetch rover. Once it has the samples, it will launch itself from the surface of Mars—the first ever rocket launch from a planet other than Earth.

Once in orbit, the MAV will throw its basketball-sized payload overboard. Waiting nearby to intercept the cargo will be yet another craft, the Earth Return Orbiter (ERO), built by ESA. This will have been launched from Earth independently of the MAV-and-fetch-rover mission. The ERO will find, ingest and seal the payload, to avoid contaminating it with any organisms that might have hitched a ride all the way from Earth. Using a gentle, solar-powered electric propulsion system, the ERO will then take the payload back to Earth over the course of the subsequent few years.

sun earth mars

From the left: The sun with earth (the closest planet) and Mars ( the outer planet in their orbits around the sun.

When the ERO eventually goes into orbit around Earth (which will be in 2031, at the earliest) it will release the payload. This will be packed into a special, dome-shaped Earth Return Vehicle designed to carry the samples safely through the ferocity of atmospheric re-entry to a landing in the desert of Utah—whence they will be taken to their new bio-fortified home for examination. Once examined and deemed safe, the samples will then be distributed to researchers around the world for study.

It is, then, an extraordinary enterprise. But all of this complexity does raise the question of why researchers would go to so much effort to collect Mars rocks. The answer, as Michael Meyer, the scientific boss of NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme, told the conference, is that although, when you are on another planet, you have to hand all the rocks that you could ever want, you are also stuck with the handful of instruments that you took with you to look at them. Using sophisticated X-ray scanners or grinding samples up and feeding them through a chemistry set is not an option.

A sample-return mission will not be cheap. Researchers from NASA and ESA, who have established a working group to harmonize technical efforts for the various stages of the project, estimate it will cost $7bn to complete.

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 residents being well served by the new Customer Service Response system?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

More than eight years ago during a conversation with then Mayor Rick Goldring he remarked on how surprised he was when people would approach him in the supermarket or at some event and chat him up. It wasn’t something he expected when he was elected Mayor.

Goldring

There were different views on Rick Golding’s effectiveness as a Mayor – but there was never any doubt that he cared passionately about his city. See him in a Santa Claus parade collecting loonies and twonies in a sock.

But it is what people expected of their elected representatives. In Burlington people want to keep that small town feel and know that they can approach their member of city council to talk about a problem or a concern. The practice then, for many of the council members, was to give the citizen their business cards and ask them to call their assistant, explain the problem and the Councillor would follow up and make sure it was taken care of.

Then something changed. Not sure where the change came from. We recall conversations a number of years ago from a General Manager (when Burlington had General Managers) about installing a CSR (Customer Service Response) system – this was supposed to handle all the communications problems.

The Gazette is in touch with members of Council frequently – the level of response varies, most get back quite quickly. There is one who said he had been told “not to talk to you” when we approached and asked a question.

We recently sent a note to a member of Council and used the new system – the one where you enter the ward number – ward4@burlington.ca – if you wanted to reach Shawna Stolte.

Here is what came back to us:

CRM notice

Being referred to as a “case number” didn’t strike me as all that customer friendly.

Maybe times are changing and it will all come down to each of us being a “case” with a number from which all our questions will be answered.

How much did the city spend on the system that assigns me my case number and are we getting value for those dollars?

Perhaps the problem is the Councillors just don’t have the time needed to respond to all the calls.

There is a solution to that problem – add more Councillors.  But that is not likely to happen for one reason – it would impact on the financial interests of the current members of Council.

Burlington has seven seats on the Regional government Council.  If we added Council member they would not get a seat at the Regional level and not earn the $50,000 +/-

Oakville solved that problem by having members of Council that are Regional Councillors as well as town Councillors and some who are just town Councillors.

Council ALL 2018

There are seven members of council in Burlington – are they able to meet the needs of the people they represent?

It is a direction Burlington should at least be looking at – soon, so they can be in a position to approach the electors in the 2022 municipal election with a council structure that meets the needs of the citizens.

Don’t expect the current council to put that kind of initiative on the table.

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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Sound of Music appears before city council budget committee - there might not be much for the Festival.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 11th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the budget before them and the Mayor having whittled down what she would like to see in the way of a tax increase to 3.99% it was time for delegations to speak about what they would like to see.

There were several outstanding delegations – asking for the most part for additional staff to be on the Climate Change file and for better communications coming out of city hall.

Myles Rusak 2

Myles Rusak, Executive Director Sound of Music Festival: Making his case for a funding increase.

There were two exceptions: Myles Rusak speaking for Sound of Music who wants an additional $40,000 a year each year for the next three years starting with this year.

Why?

The other levels of government have cut back on what the Sound of Music was getting and SoM isn’t interested in cutting back. They want the city to make up the short fall.

Their view seems to be that if they cut back on the quality of what they have been doing, audiences will dwindle and the economic impact of what SoM does for the city will dwindle as well.

Last year SoM did a two day kick off – that’s the period of time when paid ticket performances are put on stage – to raise money for the shows that the public can see free.

The two day Kick off didn’t work out all that well last year – so it will be just a one day event going forward.

It may be quite a bit less than that if the city doesn’t come up with some cash.

There is a Municipal Accommodation Tax  somewhere in the works at Queens Park – Myles wants to get a piece of that using the phrase “100% – we want some of those dollars”. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward pointed out that it is city council that decides where the dollars go.  Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) Hotels and people doing short-term rentals must pay a four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). More information will become available in December 2019, regarding short-term rental regulations.

Myles told Council, meeting as a budget committee, that SoM has been meeting with anyone that delivered a service to the public, looking for ways to partner with them. The YMCA, the Library, the Museum, the Performing Arts Centre – conversations have taken place looking for ways to partner with them.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Tammy Fox, Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre has been waiting to hear from Myles Rusak for sometime.

Roll that film back – during our last interview-conversation with Tammy Fox at the Performing Arts Centre she said that she has been trying for a couple of years to put something together with the SoM. Which is correct? We’re going with Tammy.

Myles told council that he has as yet not been able to meet one-on-one with every council member. Then he hasn’t been trying very hard. Councillor Sharman would certainly like to have a conversation with Myles and the SoM music long term plans – the Mayor probably has some sage advice for Myles as well.

Myles talked the big picture and said that that the Sound of Musical Festival was going to drop the word Festival from the brand name.

The want to be seen as more than a ten-day event and become the organization that gives the music industry in Burlington the cohesiveness it lacks.

Myles wants SoM to be the curator of everything that is music in town – from what takes place at the Library to what is featured at Emmas.

Myles Rusak 1

The Sound of Music wants to morph from a 10 day event to become the curator of everything musical in the city. They are looking for much more in the way of clout.

It is an ambitious reach – one that is going to have to be earned and not taken.

SoM was once an organization that had an active membership – anyone could be a member and every member could vote for the Board of Directors. That form of governance disappeared about four years ago when Andy Porecki was Executive Director.

When the Board decided that Dave Miller needed to use the exit door – he was dismissed rather unceremoniously which threw the membership into a serious state of confusion. SoM almost had a mutiny on its hands. The unhappy members were not able to organize themselves and bring about changes that would make the organization more transparent and accountable.

Councillor Sharman wanted to know what part the city would play in this change in the way music would be managed, overseen and developed. “We have people on staff” said Sharman who can and should be part of the thinking you are doing.”

Myles said he has had meetings with a few people at Parks and Recreation and he has been working with Tourism as well.

The SoM gets $106,093 from the city each year. He wanted that bumped up by $40K this year and an additional $40,000 for the next two years.

Myles said they are putting together a television show with Cogeco and that there are plans to put on a program with the Indigenous community that will be highlighted in 2020.

Myles Rusk 4

Sound of Music needs a fatter cheque from the city.

Sharman wanted to know a lot more before he went anywhere with additional financing. As he put it he “wants to eat the meal before he pays for it”.

Councillor Kearns cut Myles short – as chair she had heard enough. Kearns sits on the SoM Board.

Myles Rusak should wait for a fatter cheque to arrive from the city. He should take Tammy Fox out to lunch – she really does want to do some business with the Sound of Music people – she has been trying to get something going for more than two years.

Myles needs to learn just who will butter the bread he needs. Council needs to be romanced.

Related news stories:

SoM lets council know they will be back looking for financial support

SoM volunteers feel left out.

S0M – trouble in paradise

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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