Are we giving people who use Beachway Park the information they need and are entitled to in terms of water safety?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 9, 2012  Water quality at the Burlington Beachway is just fine.  Oakville’s Coronation Park East is still not safe – that’s been that way for some time.

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.  We get the information from the Region and pass it along to our readers.

Many people don’t go near the water when they go to the beach but those who do swim have the right to know the water is safe and that they are personally safe as well. Lifeguards do that job.

Beach water monitoring on August 6 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Oakville – Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West,  Bronte Park Beach.

This is great information if you’re a regular reader of Our Burlington, but alas, not everyone reads what we have to say.

When you walk out to the Beachway there are days when you can see literally hundreds of people enjoying the water.  In the past, when the water was not deemed safe by the Region, the public had no way of knowing the water was not deemed to be safe.

At one point the Region used to divide the Beachway into North and South – with no really clear dividing line between the north and the south.

On a long weekend there are far more people using Beachway Park in Burlington than the number using the beach shown above – we don’t employ lifeguards nor do we post adequate signs to explain the condition of the water. The city owes its public better service on this one.

The Region did provide a map that we posted – but then they discarded the North and South parts and just call it the Beachway – which was fine.

The problem however is that there isn’t any way for those who don’t read Our Burlington to know the water is not safe.  There is a solution.

Do what other jurisdictions do;  Put up signs or put up flags that tell the people what the water condition is.

On those occasions when there are literally hundreds of people using the beach – where are the lifeguards?  It will cost money to hire lifeguards – which the Region or the city will do in a flash the moment there is a drowning.

Time for the city to take a hard look at the way the beach is used by the public and what the city should be providing in the way of safety services.


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Courage, commitment and energy will propel Michele Benoit across Lake Ontario to raise funds for clean water in Africa.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 2, 2012  It takes a certain character, commitment and frame of mind to get up well before the sun rises each day and slip into the cold waters of Lake Ontario.

It takes time, energy and a certain focus to swim day after day while you build up your strength and your stamina as arm goes over arm pulling yourself forward through the water – sometimes against a tide that wants to take you in another direction.

A chase craft follows every foot of the way – watching every move while Michelle Benoit completes a 25 km swim on the old Welland canal with Christine Walker in the water pacing her.

Later this month – Michelle Benoit, a 42 year old nutritionist and personal trainer with a life’s worth of swimming experience, will put herself up against one of the harder challenges in the world of long distance swimmers.  She will leave Port Dalhousie the evening of Saturday the 17th of August and head for Burlington where she plans to land close to 18 hours later on the “instant” beach in the eastern end of Spencer Smith Park.

Our Burlington has been calling  it the  “instant beach”, since the day we saw it while on a tour of the pier construction site while looking for those lamp lights that had disappeared.  The beach was formed due to the way water swirls around the caissons and the land formation built as part of the pier, could well be named Benoit Beach honouring the crossing of the lake.

Toronto has a Marilyn Bell Park to commemorate her successful crossing of the lake; an opportunity here for the Mayor to put a bit of a positive spin on the problems that surround the pier.

Marilyn Bell in 1954 as she swan across Lake Ontario as a 16 year old.

Just over 65 people have managed to successfully swim across Lake Ontario since 1954 when Marilyn Bell, then a 16 year old, completed her swim in 20 hours and 55 minutes on September 8th and 9th.  50,000 Torontonians were on the shore to welcome her landing from her start in Youngstown, Ohio – can Burlington produce even 5,000 people.

Part of the team that follows every stroke: Brian Finlay, on the right,  a master long distance solo swimmer who has done the English Channel, serves at the key guide. Mike Schultz, drives out from his printing company in Toronto every time the boat is needed on the water.  The moment Benoit is out of the water Finlay checks her body temperature to make sure she is recovering from the swim.

Benoit had a magnificent crew working with her while she did the hours of training.  Christine Arsenault, Billie Johnson, Chris Chriswick and others were in the water pacing her through the nine hour day.

There isn’t a day that Benoit is not in the water doing stroke after stroke as she strives to keep her body in top physical form.

After more than nine hours in the water during an endurance swim on the Welland River, Benoit gobbles down a banana and enjoys a laugh with her crew.

Earlier in July she did a 25 km endurance test in the Welland River, a body of water that has both wind to deal with and strong currents.  She swam leg after leg as she piled up the kilometres with different pace swimmers joining her on the journey.  When she completed that endurance test she headed for the dock where she pulled herself up out of the water and sat shivering on the deck while her pacer heaved to hoist herself out of the water – but not quite hard enough and slipped back in.  That was a funny moment for the less than half of dozen people out to help during the test.

As a nutritionist Benoit knows how to care for her body and ensure that she is getting the protein she needs.  While she is just a slip of a thing she has amazing physical strength; but it is her strength of mind that carries her forward. For Benoit this swim is as much a personal calling as it is a swim across an unforgiving body of water.  She is not a “professional solo long distance swimmer.  She has a mission and that is to raise both money and awareness for what she sees as a tragic situation in Africa – Togo to be specific, where tens of thousands of children die every year because the water they drink and use is contaminated.

Benoit has partnered with Compassion Canada, an organization that can issue tax receipts and ensure that the donation goes to the project they were meant to support – water projects in Togo Africa.

While Compassion Canada serves as the organization that can accept funds, issue tax receipts and ensure they get where they were supposed to go – Benoit’s Waves for Water is her longer term project.

It is going to cost close to $20,000 to get the work done needed in Togo and that doesn’t deter this almost tiny woman with a smile that charms and energy that is infectious.

Benoit sees challenges as opportunities.  When she was completing her endurance swim in Lake Ontario a few weekends ago she had difficulty getting to the shore – not because she was tired or the waves were too high..  “We couldn’t  see the shore line – there were too many motor boats and Seadoos racing by.  They had no idea what we were doing but we knew what they were doing – getting in the way.”

When the solo swim across the lake is done Benoit will then begin working on the next phase of her mission – and that is to create a charity that will be called “Laps for Loonies” which will be held across the country – much like the Terry Fox run – to raise awareness about the problem with water in many African countries and to raise funds as well to build water solutions for these people.

Benoit chose to swim form Port Dalhousie to Burlington rather than the traditional Niagara to Toronto route. “Burlington is home and I wanted to land in the community where I am asking people to support an important project” explains Benoit.  She has partnered with Compassion Canada so that all funds donated go directly to the project in Africa.

What MIchele Benoit is setting out to do is a challenge but it is also poetic – her body is at one with nature as she strokes through the water – here she is working her way through a 25km swim with a pacer in the water with her – the sun on their bodies as they swim in unison.

After most of the day in the water Benoit shivers on the dock on the Welland River, waiting for blankets and for people to check her body temperature.

Benoit works part time for a health services company in Burlington and at the same time trying to breathe some life into her nutritional supplements business. “That’s something I may have to give up on” says Benoit, “I’ve been at that one for ten years and it may be one of those things that just wasn’t meant to be.”

Michele Benoit with her dog Buckley – he goes wherever she goes but he won’t be in Lake Ontario when she does her across the Lake swim. Expect him to be on hand when she comes ashore at Spencer Smith Park.

Financially – life is a challenge.  The swimming takes up all her time but the rent has to be paid and she has to eat so she works at something that fits in with her approach to life and her demanding schedule.

Throughout it all Benoit has her family supporting her emotionally as well as her dog Buckley, who misses her when she is out of the house but who is definitely not going to swim along beside her.

When Benoit comes ashore there will be a large crowd, maybe someone from the Mayor’s Office, television crews and all kinds of media.  There will also be an ambulance standing close by – a requirement if the swim was to be sanctioned and also a sign that solo swimmers are at significant personal risk.

 

 

 

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You can swim anywhere you want on the Burlington waterfront – can’t do that in Oakville.

By Staff

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton and they are saying that based on July 31st monitoring.

If you live in Burlington – the Beaches are all safe. Oakville isn’t as lucky.

For the most recent information, the Health Department recommends that residents visit Halton Region’s website halton.ca/beaches before visiting Halton beaches. The following beaches are safe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Oakville – Coronation Park West

Now you know why Burlington is the second safest city in Canada.

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Burlington athlete advances to Olympic semi-finals in back stroke. Sinead Russell shows her stuff

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 29, 2012   Burlington has three native citizens in the 2012 Olympics..

Burlington’s Sinead Russell comes out of her start in fine form during the semi finals for backstroke event. (Photo courtesy Ian Macnicol/Swimming Canada

Sinead Russell advanced  to the semi-finals in the women’s 100 backstroke at the 2012 Olympic Games.

She will compete in the finals if she qualifies in Monday and Tuesday.

 

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Spaces available for city summer camps during August; five locations. Register through city hall web site.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 25, 2012  If you haven`t figured out what you want to do with the little ones during August the city might have a solution for you. There are still spaces available in the City of Burlington’s Summer Neighbourhood Activity Program (SNAP) camps.

Funny hats and smiling faces – all part of the summer day camp experience.

SNAP camps are for children between five and 10 years of age, with mini-SNAP for children from three to five years. SNAP offers a variety of activities including games, sports, crafts, songs, and fun weekly events and trips. The SNAP camps are $27 a day (except on trip days), and provide a safe, fun environment for children.

The locations with availability are:

Aldershot Community Pool: 50 Fairwood Place (Adjacent to Aldershot High School)Burlington, ON, L7T 1E5Phone: (905) 637-5688 Fax: (905) 637-4966

Rotary Youth Club: 560 Guelph Line (in Central Park) Burlington, ON, L7R 3M4  Phone: (905) 335-7738 Fax: (905) 335-7837

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Elementary School: 2222 Country Club Drive, Burlington, ON L7M 4S5 (905) 331-4656

St. Elizabeth Seaton Catholic Elementary School: 5070 Dryden Avenue, Burlington, ON L7L 6Y3 (905) 331-7246

Skyway Arena: 129 Kenwood Avenue Burlington, ON, L7R 3Z6Phone: (905) 632-1717 Fax: (905) 632-8839

Brant Hills Community Centre: 2255 Brant Street, Burlington, ON, L7P 5C8 Phone: (905) 335-7720

Summer Neighbourhood Activity Program (SNAP) locations:
(1) Aldershot Pool; 50 Fairwood Place West; (2) Alexander Public School, 2223 Sutton Drive; (3) Ascension Elementary School, 5205 New Street; (4) Brant Hills Community Centre, 2255 Brant Street; (5) C.H. Norton Public School, 2120 Cleaver Avenue; (6) St. Elizabeth Seaton Elementary School, 5070 Dryden Avenue; (7) MM Robinson High School, 2425 Upper Middle Road; (8) Rotary Youth Centre, 560 Guelph Line; (9) Sacred Heart of Jesus Elementary School, 2222 Country Club Drive; (10) Skyway Arena, 129 Kenwood Avenue.

SNAP spaces are also available from Aug. 20 to 24 at the Brant Hills and Rotary Youth Centre locations. To register, visit RecExpress on the city web site.

If you are new to Parks & Recreation you will need to apply for your Family PIN and Client I.D. Numbers. Go online to www.burlington.ca and go to RecExpress /My Basket / Create New Account.

Registering is easier said than done.  It`s certainly not a user friendly site but here is the rigmarole you have to go through. When you get to the RecExpress web site:

Click on the Login button (top right hand corner).  That is IF you are already a register RecExpress user – if you aren`t scroll on down and learn how to register

Enter your Client ID and Family PIN Numbers.

Search for programs by clicking on the Program Icon, Program Tab or use the Continue Shopping Button.

Click the Add Button to add your selection to your “shopping” Basket.

Select Client Selection to assign a family member to a course.

Select either the Continue Shopping Button if you wish to register for more programs OR if you are finished shopping, click the Go to Checkout Button and make your payment.

You must make a payment to finalize your purchases.

Print a copy of your confirmation as a copy of your transactions.

There is no age limit for summer camp.

Once your payment transaction has been authorized by your credit card company, your registration will be confirmed and you will be mailed a detailed confirmation. During non-peak registration times your credit card will be authorized while you wait.

I don’t have or want to use a credit card over the Internet. Can I still use RecExpress to register?

You can make a payment on your Parks & Recreation Registration Account in person at a Customer Service site. Customer Service sites accept the following forms of payment: cash, cheques, debit card, American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Once the credit is applied to your account, you will be able to register via RecExpress and the cost of the registration will be deducted from the credit balance on your account. You will need to ensure that you have a sufficient balance to cover the full cost of your purchase(s). RecExpress will only validate your shopping trip if all programs are paid in full.

If you`re not registered – here`s the drill on doing that.

What are Family PINS and Client I.D. Numbers?

To use both self-serve options – RecExpress by phone and RecExpress through the Internet, you must have your access numbers: a Family Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Client Identification (I.D.) Number(s). If you are a current client with Parks & Recreation your family has been set up with its own Parks & Recreation account and has been given a Family PIN number that is shared with all family members. Each member of your family also has their own Client I.D. Number. In RecExpress any family member can sign in and register other family members.

Your Family PIN Number identifies your Family to the system. Your Client I.D. Number tells the system which individual is signing in. Both numbers are combined to provide an extra level of security for you within our database. Your PIN Number should be kept confidential and can be changed by you at the top right of the My Account screen.

If you are new to Parks & Recreation you will need to apply for your Family PIN and Client I.D. Numbers. Go online to www.burlington.ca and go to RecExpress /My Basket / Create New Account.

What is a TTR (Barcode) number?

Each course is identified by The Technology Registration (TTR)number assigned in the database. Customers use this number to select a specific course with both self-serve options – RecExpress by phone and RecExpress through the Internet. You can find a course TTR number by looking in our current Live & Play Guide. Once you know the TTR number of the course you want, you can register using the express route in RecExpress. If you do not know the TTR number you can browse through our listing of activities.

I told you this wasn’t easy.  Call your Council member.

 

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Pint sized swimmer with courage galore and a mission to boot, plans to swim Lake Ontario & land at Spencer Smith Park August 18.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 23, 2012  The first thing that occurs to you when you see Michele Benoit is her size – she’s close to tiny, and then the question: wasn’t a long distance swimmer supposed to be quite big enters your mind.

This is what a 42 year old pixie of a long distance swimmer looks like. Look out Lake Ontario – she is coming your way.

And you wonder too – a 42 year old is swimming Lake Ontario – isn’t that a game for younger people.  When you meet Benoit – you are a little stunned – she doesn’t look 42 at all – maybe 32, somewhere in there.

But she is going to swim Lake Ontario starting at night out of Port Dalhousie and swimming the 45 km to Burlington where she expects to land at Spencer Smith Park – ideally in that small “instant Beach” that has been formed on the west side of the under construction Pier.

Why would someone this age decide to swim across Lake Ontario?  We will get to the why in a bit.  The how you get yourself physically and psychologically to the point where you can start and actually finish something like this is an incredible story.

Benoit was born in Montreal and lived a childhood that had her believing anything was possible.  If you really wanted to do it – you just did it. She took ballet. She was always a good swimmer – placed very well in the provincial finals in the province in breast stroke.  Other than that her only really emotional experience related to swimming was when her Mother came close to drowning.

Benoit was one of those children that no one quite knew what to do with.  She was bright, hugely energetic and driven.  But there was no direction in her life.

The family moved to Ontario and Michele studied Landscape Architecture, which in those days wasn’t what it is today.  During her time in the field it was mostly doing the front of commercial buildings or parking lots  – very little art in the architecture she wanted to practice. “I wasn’t happy doing the work I was doing”, explains Benoit.

Like every young person growing into adulthood – there were some rough spots and Benoit has had her share of those.

Were it not for the fact that we know Michele Benoit is going to swim across Lake Ontario August 17-18th – the picture suggests she is a model for wet suit swim wear.

With the landscaping world going nowhere for her, Benoit, who has always been fit, got into personal training and ended up as the Aquatics Director at a Burlington health club where she worked for six years.

Health, physical fitness, good nutrition – there was a sense of direction revealing itself by the time Benoit enrolled as a Natural Sciences student at McMaster. “I thought of dentistry but it didn’t take long for me to realize that wasn’t my calling” says Benoit.

Well then what was her calling – and here is where the Benoit story takes one of those twists you read about but don’t quite understand.  “A friend asked me to go to church with him and because I knew that his faith life was important I went.  I was baptized a Catholic and I went to Mass at Christmas and Easter.  I knew about Jesus but I’d never read the Bible.   I knew about Noah’s Ark but God wasn’t part of my life.”

But then, suddenly, Michele Benoit came out of a very sound sleep and had a very up close and personal relationship with God.  She then knew she was going to swim across Lake Ontario and raise money for people in Africa.  Weird ? – not for Benoit.  Did she have a complete plan in front of her – sort of like a blue print?  Nope, but for her it was as plain as the nose on her face and that is the force that drives her.

There is more to the Michele Benoit story; how she prepares for an arduous 45km swim across one of the hardest lakes in the world; how she exercises and prepares both physically and emotionally.

We will follow this remarkable woman and her quest.  If supporting something like this financially – click into the web sitethat was set up with more of the story.

Meanwhile – we will stay with this story and keep you up to date.

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Halton Region beach water monitoring results declare all Burlington beaches safe for swimming.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  July 18, 2012  The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.   Beach water monitoring on July 17 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Safe for swimming:

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Oakville – Coronation Park East,  Bronte Park Beach

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Oakville – Coronation Park West

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Second car free Sunday – this time in the downtown core from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Dennison will be on skates, city will pick up the tab.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 13, 2012  Burlington is going to pull out all the stop for this second car free Sunday.  The first car free day was in the east end of the city where large parts of Appleby Line were closed to cars.  Turnout was good – could have been more but it was far from a disaster.

Now that the city administration knows the public can be gotten out of the houses and onto the streets to have fun and mingle – this second effort in the downtown core will leave officials know if this kind of thing can be done more frequently.

There wasn’t all that much opportunity for the retail market to experience all that much of a boost on Appleby Line – but Brant Street has a much different commercial makeup.  Merchants can take advantage of larger crowds and perhaps even see more in the way of traffic than they see on a good Saturday with cars on the street.  It’s a gamble but something has to be done to get people out on the streets.

Streets that will be car free Sunday July 15th. Read the detail carefully.  Full lane closure on Brant Street between Blenheim Street and Lakeshore Road.The north two lanes on Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and Locust Street will be closed and the northbound lane on Locust between Lakeshore Road and Blenheim Street will be closed. 

The stretch of city streets that will be closed on Sunday between 2 and 7 pm will include:  full lane closure on Brant Street between Blenheim Street and Lakeshore Road.

The north two lanes on Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and Locust Street will be closed and the northbound lane on Locust between Lakeshore Road and Blenheim Street will be closed.

The initiative came about when Councillors Dennison and Sharman took the idea to Council where the Mayor who is an environmental advocate bought into it and while Councillor Meed Ward didn’t buy into the idea at first she was big enough to admit that she hadn’t gotten it right the first time but knew a good thing when she saw one and dug out her blades and joined the parade.

The Downtown event will feature different groups with their tents out on the street one of which will be the Community Engagement Charter crowd  – and they need help.  This is a group that has the right idea but has not managed to attract nearly enough people to their cause.  If things continue the way they are going this city might find itself with a Community Engagement Charter written by a group of less than 50 people.

The group will have a table and a tent at Caroline and Brant – drop in and hear what they have to say.  They are talking about your city and how it can work better.

The Country & Blues BBQ Festival will be taking place in Spencer Smith Park

The Burlington Teen Tour Band will parade during the event.

There will be food and drink vendors out on the street, there will be a Marketplace and Pony rides.

There will be live music from Tori Sutherland, Harrison Kennedy, Michelle Titian, Mary Simon and the Hill Brothers.

One of the Mayors favourite city’s, Portland Oregon, has been doing things like this for years and our Mayor is convinced events like this can work and are good for the city.  Let’s see if he is right.  What matters most with this event is this – will is draw people from Aldershot and the communities north of the QEW hump?  If it does, it will be a great success.

Getting people from all over the city, not just those who live in the core and can ride safely to the stretch of streets that will be closed.

 

 

 

 

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Canada Day; new citizens, great weather – we didn’t see anyone who wasn’t having fun.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 2nd, 2012  Canada Day – 145 years out and Burlington celebrates the day with Ashley MacIsaac on stage doing what he does so well with his fiddle.  He then tried telling the citizens to do everything they can to ensure that the current prime minister isn’t in office on the 150th anniversary.  That appeal fell on deaf ears.

Homes on the Beachway left no doubt about what they were celebrating.

He was as good on his fiddle as he usually is – but he shouldn’t try to sing.

Spencer Smith Park filled up as the evening approached after a day when a crowd of new Canadians took to the stage one by one to be made “Canadians” with Citizenship Court Judge Frank Hayden swearing them all in and giving them his “being a Canadian” pep talk.

It was a wonderfully sunny day; crowds were out and the Beachway part of the city had hundreds of families out on the grass with hundreds of kids in the water.

If you didn't have a bright red T shirt - there was a booth you could buy one at.

Parking was close to impossible and the city had additional staff handing out parking tickets.  There was a subtle change in the uniforms the men were wearing – instead of the shirts with the By Law enforcement shoulder patches these men had Provincial Offences Enforcement, which meant they could give people tickets for provincial offences and not just parking – no drinking in public parks.

Families out on the grass - enjoying great weather and a day to remember.

It was interesting to note that the people on the Beachway tended to be large families that had hibachis and all the gear needed for a picnic.  Many were people of colour, dressed traditionally and while quiet were very friendly.  Soccer was the predominant sport but we did see one little tyke who had put together twigs for a camp fire in what any Scout master would have given him a badge for.  The child was being very well supervised, there was no chance that he was going to light a fire.

Police officer told us he was on "bikini patrol" and that he loved his job.

The Regional police had officers out on bicycles patrolling what we were told was a quiet day.

Her name was Jade - she just seemed to love the camera.

Captivated with the cell phone - this young man was having the time of his life.

The mood and the scene at The Joseph Brant Museum was quite different.  There was entertainment for the young people and displays to look over with plenty of shaded space to sit and eat more of that ice cream with fresh fruit than we perhaps should have.  Quite a different feel than that out on the Beachway.

The Canadiana Tent the city set up was both a smart thing to do and the best deal available on the waterfront during the weekend.  It was a place to sit and relax, for those who had been on their feet for several hours, the $20  price was worth every penny.  You got a meal, an alcoholic beverage, a cold drink, a Maple Leaf cookie and reasonably comfortable seats plus shade.  You can do that one again city hall.  And that extra drink you wanted was nicely priced – less than we paid for the same drink in Grimsby the day before.  You also got a small flag.

As dusk approached the waterfront filled up quickly for the fireworks.

The SeaDoo races around an obstacle course kept the air filled with the sounds of those roaring engines but no one seemed to mind.

It was just one of those pleasant sunny summer days – no doubt whatsoever that summer was here and staying for awhile.  A national holiday, celebration of the founding of the country.  Most born in the country Canadians take it all for granted; those who chose to come to this country knew what they were doing.  We can learn from them just how fortunate we are.

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Corporate ladder at city hall getting lots of use these days. Mercanti moving to the seventh floor

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012  Cindy Mercanti, who has worked in Community Services for almost three  years, where she was instrumental in reviewing and enhancing programs and processes within Parks and Recreation, has put her foot on the corporate ladder and is joining the General Managers office on a secondment until December 2013.

This position will make use of her operational skill set and take her out of an environment where people skills were vital.

Mercanti, was involved in getting the Alton community centre off the ground as well as working with the construction company building the North Burlington Skate Park that is part of the Norton Park across the street.

Cindy Mercanti is joining the General Managers office for a secondment that will last until December 2013. Here she looks over construction plans at the North Burlington Skate Park.

Mercanti, who was Manager of recreational Services at Parks and Recreation,  will be involved in the leadership team roll out of the deployment of performance measurement based on “results based accountability”,  and the implementation of business plans for all services.  Cindy Mercanti will be beginning her assignment June 25th.

Results based accountability is the approach city manager Jeff Fielding brought to Burlington.  The concept is considerably different than the approach taken previously and it means training senior staff just how it works and then having the concept work its way down into each department.

This operational side of city hall is where it is hoped Mercanti will excel, while others work on the people side of things at Parks and Recreation where relationships with the Seniors’ Centre are in the process of being repaired and grown.

 

 

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Beachway Park North not ready for swimmers yet – Region reports on water quality.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 21, 2012  – The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.

Beachway North is not yet safe for swimming

Beach water monitoring on June 19 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

• Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

• Oakville – Coronation Park East, Bronte Park Beach

• Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

• Burlington – Beachway Park South

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Boundary markers for Beachway Park North and South

• Burlington – Beachway Park North

• Oakville – Coronation Park West

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Oppressive heat leads to longer public pool hours at LaSalle, Nelson and Tansley.

By Staff

BURLINGTON  ON  June 20, 2012   The city of Burlington has  extended the pool hours for the following  locations. :

The best way to keep cool - in a public pool. Hours for city pools extended.

LaSalle Wading Pool

11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Nelson Wading Pool

4 to 8 p.m.

 

Beats the heat doesn't it? Your tax dollars at work.

Tansley Woods Pool

4 to 9 p.m.

 

This extreme heat can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and even death. The public is asked to take precautions to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and to keep a lookout for the most vulnerable in your community.

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If you fish – you want to fully understand what the budget bill is doing to you. It will be worse than getting a fly hook in your finger.

By Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

BURLINGTON, ON  June 14, 2012   “No Fishing” signs popped up across Toronto’s waterfront recently. Will we see signs like this in Burlington?

The public backlash in Toronto was immediate and fierce and city Councillors quickly voted to have the signs removed.

Lake Ontario is a vibrant and historic fishing location, even in Toronto’s borders. There are at least 10,000 anglers within the city’s borders, part of the community of 7.5-million fishing Canadians.

These signs went up in Toronto on Tuesday with no news announcements. Will this happen in Burlington?

The timing of Toronto’s “No Fishing” experiment sent chills up our spines. As the signs went up, Members of Parliament gathered in Ottawa to debate the omnibus budget bill that will dismantle protection for fish and fish habitats across the country. Sure, the government says that the new Fisheries Act will still protect fish of commercial, cultural, or recreational value. But Toronto, with one small action, demonstrated the meaninglessness of that approach to environmental protection.

One of the reasons Waterkeeper has been so concerned about the changes to the Fisheries Act is because the new legalese actually creates incentives not to protect the act of fishing. It encourages the disenfranchisement of anglers rather than encouraging the protection of fish, fish habitat, and the restoration of fisheries.

If you live in a place like Toronto where the commercial fishery has already been wiped out, there are no fish of “commercial value”. The Fisheries Act won’t protect your fish.

If you live in a place where traditional fishing practices have been eliminated, there are no fish of “cultural value”. The Fisheries Act won’t protect your fish.

If you live in a place where a city can simply erect a “No Fishing” sign to keep recreational anglers away, fish of “recreational value” can disappear overnight. The Fisheries Act won’t protect your fish.

See how easy it is?

The environmental changes tucked into the budget bill being debated in the House of Commons today is going to be more painful than that hook in that finger.

The federal Fisheries Act rollbacks are crammed into an 800-page bill that affects every Canadian in dozens of different ways. It is hard to predict exactly what it will all mean for Canadians or when the impacts will first be felt. The one thing we know for certain is that none of the changes are intended to improve protections for fish, habitat, or the people who enjoy those resources.

It is too late to tell your MP how you feel.  In this city our guy in the capital is voting for the bill.  Don’t think he fishes – but he will fish for your votes at some point in the future.  Remember that.  This is going to be more painful for people who like to fish than getting a fishing hook stuck in your finger.

Toronto reversed the fishing ban decision they made – but the total lack of notice was not a good sign.

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Water testing indicates the real start of summer. Not all area beaches are safe for swimming yet.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 8, 2012 The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton. Beach water samples taken on June 5 revealed the following beaches have acceptable levels of bacteria and are safe for swimming:

•       Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

•       Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Not all the area beaches are safe yet.

The following beaches have high levels of bacteria and are unsafe for swimming:

•       Burlington – Beachway Park North, Beachway Park South

•       Oakville – Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach

Residents can also call Halton Region to find out which beaches have acceptable levels of bacteria or which have been posted as unsafe for swimming due to poor water quality. Beach water quality information is available 24 hours a day by dialing 311 or calling 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866 or TTY 905-827-9983.  During regular business hours ask for beach information, and after regular business hours press 2 for health information.

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First Bike to Work Day crowd small – can it grow? Alton & Orchard residents would have to put their life in their hands to be part of this.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 28, 2012  There weren’t traffic jams around city hall but there were more than fifty people who made it to the breakfast served by the city to mark the first Bike to Work Day which was part of the Smart Commute Halton, that the city and the Chamber of Commerce got behind this year.

It was a start, marred by some political bafflegab that seems to have to be said.  Here`s a sample:

With a hearty breakfast in their tummies the cyclists that made it to city hall for the first Bike to Work Day in Burlington, pose and are now part of the city's history. Photo supplied by Region)

“Transportation is an important issue for Halton residents,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “By partnering with the Metrolinx Smart Commute program, Halton Region is proud to offer Halton businesses and residents an easy to use alternative to driving alone. By working with the City of Burlington and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, we’re excited to have motivating events like Bike to Work Day where cyclists can be thanked for their contribution towards making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

“We encourage Burlington residents and employees to seek alternate means of transport whenever possible,” says Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Whether you’re riding, walking or rolling, we hope to see you get up, get out and get moving.”

It would have been nice to hear an announcement about specific road improvements that would make it possible for people north of the QEW to actually cycle into the downtown core.  It`s still a divided city for cyclists.

The next item on the agenda of those who would have us our bicycles every day of the week is two Car Free Sundays – June 10 and July 15.

 

 

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LaSalle Park Marina takes their Vision 2012 to a public information session – this is something the community should applaud.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 15, 2012  It’s a laudable objective – have the public marina at LaSalle Park become the 400th Safe Harbour in Ontario.  Burlington is one of the very last communities on Lake Ontario to have a Safe Harbour – and given that we are the Second Best City in Canada to live in – a Safe Harbour would seem essential.

LaSalle Park Marina as it looks today - 219 slips with wave breaker and docks that have to be brought ashore every winter.

For John Birch it is more than essential – a Safe Harbour out at LaSalle Park is an opportunity to add to the goals of the fisheries people, especially the Hamilton Harbour and Watershed Fisheries Management Plan.  Given all the toxic waste Hamilton has created in this end of Lake Ontario getting new fish species in the water is far more than a laudable goal – it’s an essential one.

And that is where Birch has been steering his boat for the past couple of years.  By advocating for a form of wave barrier that will result in a Safe Harbour, Birch envisions  1,500 linear feet of an environmentally friendly, state of the art, riparian rock island fish and wildlife habitat wave breaker that will provide all weather protection for the city’s marina.   It is a bold step.

The LaSalle Park Marina Association operates the marina at the foot of LaSalle Park and has done so since 1981 without so much as a dime of city money.  “We are a non-profit that built this facility from scratch and have it to the point where there are 219 slips available to members of the  Burlington Boating and Sailing Club.  There is a boat launching ramp for public use as well.

The Marina currently has 219 slips.  The docks have to be brought ashore every winter and the current wave reduction system doesn’t work particularly well.  The LPMA wants to have a riparian rock island fish and wildlife habitat wave breaker built at a cost of  $7 million that Birch expects to see paid for much the same way they built what they have today: a significant portion from the federal government with a close to matching amount from the provincial government and the rest coming from the association through some form of debenture they will pay off over time.

The option the LaSalle Park Marina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due March 2013. The design will add 100 slips plus 20 available for transient use and more significantly provide a solid barrier that will allow fish stocks to return and breed and put an end to the wave agitation

The Association has to be one of the gems for the city to work with.  Founded in 1981 the LPMA put together a joint venture with the city that works this way.  The land is owned by the city of Hamilton and is leased by Burlington and then sub-let to the LPMA.  In 1998 LPMA borrowed $250,000  from the city as part of their joint venture agreement  and built a new wave breaker that has a 20 year life span.  That loan was fully retired in 2008 – without a payment being missed.  The city now has a marina on land they lease and operated by the LPMA.  Close to 90% of the lease expense is paid by the LPMA and the Burlington Boating and Sailing Club – the city picks up 10% which pays for the public ramp.

While the wave reduction devices help – they aren’t up to the job of preventing significant damage to boats tied up in the 219 slips.

There is always someone below deck cleaning up - some things never change.

The demand for additional slips is consistent.  The Association turns people away every year and don’t expect to have any problems renting out the additional 100 slips that will become available when the project is completed.

The association saw an opportunity to take their two needs and add to them a third – a significant environmental improvement  and improving the fish habitat in the area – the result being what the LPMA hopes will become Ontario’s 400th Safe Harbour.

All hinges on a positive environmental Assessment which the LPMA expects to see completed by March of 2013.  Birch believes there are funds available for a project like the one they are proposing and that those funds will be spent somewhere – he just wants to see them spent in Burlington.

Another boat is hoisted out of the yard and into the water as the LaSalle Park Marina opens for another season.

The LPMA is confident that they can continue to operate what can only be described as a very successful business model.  The club provides an excellent marina to the city and is debt free.  It believe it will be able to bear its share of the $ 7 million it is going to cost to get the barrier in place and their hope is that the Environmental Assessment decision is for the option they have chosen.

They expect that the province will pick up 25% of the cost and the federal government an additional 25%. With LPMA picking up the balance.

This is one of those Mother of all Stakeholder partnerships.  There is the MOE, the MNR, the COB, CH, the TSP people and BARC  plus DOF, to name some of the people who will sit at this table.  All have to be placated and accommodated.

There are several options before the various levels of government.  The details are a little on the mundane side unless you sit on the LPMA Board.  The option the association likes is one that will provide everything the sailors want and given that they are going to end up paying the lion’s share of the cost – one would think the governments involved will decide in their favour.

 

 

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Mountainside revitalization a Go, GO, GO. Taylor delivers and keeps the pool open while arena upgraded.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 11, 2012  He isn’t known as the Dean of City Council just because he has been there longer than anyone else – he’s the Dean because he gets things done.

Last night city council, after eight years of work, approved the revitalization of the Mountainside Community Arena and Pool.  John Taylor shepherded and guided this project and made sure it was done well within the budget available.  This was HIS baby and he wasn’t going to not let it happen – nor was he going to let it disrupt the summer pool schedule either.

The Mountainside recreational complex will be a much different place when the revitalization that was approved by Council is completed in 2013

Taylor worked the phones, and probably twisted some arms as well, to ensure that there was a provision in the construction tender that will go out once the drawings are completed, to keep the pool open during the summer months.

While there were rumours that the whole project was going to be shut down – Taylor squelched those – he also told the public last night that the pool would not be shut down while work was being done on the arena upgrade.

The project now goes to the architects who will do the final drawings that the contractor who wins the tender will work from.  There will be a little disruption on the site but come the fall of 2013 the arena will be completed and the disruption will have been well worth it.

Will Councillor Taylor be on hand to drop the puck for the first hockey game once the arens is opened?

With a municipal election following shortly after the Official Opening, Councillor Taylor will have quite a feather in his hat.  Good on him.

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Mountainside arena and pool to undergo revitalization. Place will look great when it`s done and be easier to get into when completed.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 2,  2012  It was eight years in the making, but Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor sat at a Community Services Committee meeting beaming with pride as he watched a presentation on the revitalization of the Mountainside Arena and Pool.  Then he said – twice – for emphasis – that the site was not being closed.  It would Taylor explained be closed for a season while the construction and upgrade work was done – which will be in the summer of 2014 – oops, that’s an election year isn’t it?  Taylor has such a high following that he can withstand some community dissatisfaction while an important community recreational site is closed to be upgraded.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

As is Taylor’s way – the Committee went with the least expensive of the three possible approaches to the significant upgrade planned for the site.  Council will meet on April 10th and put a stamp of approval on the project.

The next step will be the issuing of a purchasing order for the detailed design phase of the project which lets the architects begin the detailed drawings.

The entrance to the complex will now be at the top of the site with a large parking lot that Parks and Recreation people expect will hold most of the cars that pull up.

An aerial view of the Mountainside recreational complex that will undergo revitalization in 2013

The buildings will now have a much more presentable entrance with a small pull into lane for those that want to drop off kids with those massive bags that hold their hockey equipment.

There will be better change rooms, a concession area as well as two community meeting rooms.  Expect Councillor Taylor to make considerable use of these.

The splash pool that was paid for with federal/provincial government Stimulus money will remain with very minor modifications.

An architectural rendering of the site with the view from the north looking south. Parking and entrance have been re-oriented making it a much easier site to move in and out of - also has much better facilities inside.

The architects commented that it was a challenging site with homes on the west side that objected to headlights from cars parking in the lower lot so they moved the orientation of that lot to face east.  The long, thin site the architects had to work with was hedged in by a woodlot on the east and an incline to get to the upper level parking lot.  Someone should have explained to the architect that there is a reason for calling the place “Mountainside”.

A look at the detail once revitalization has been completed.

With the entrance now moved to the northern end of the site it might be a little difficult to figure out where you’re supposed to go the first time you visit but after that – it will make a lot of sense and be a lot easier to get in and out of the building.  Burlington is currently on a bit of a sign blitz – so expect there to be good signage at the entrance to the site.

It is going to be a very significant improvement to a site that is heavily used by the community.  Good on John Taylor for steering the development of this project for his ward.

Burlington has seven arenas with two that are older than Mountainside: Nelson is 47 years old and Central is 44 years old.  The newest is the arena on Appleby.

The Mountainside site was first opened forty two years ago.  The pool was opened in 1962 and an arena added in 1969.

ZAS Architects have done some very innovative work on the lower Don River part of Toronto and based on their presentation they have brought the same innovation and quality to the Mountainside site.

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Bump up the kids allowance – there might be a $100. ticket to pay. Skate board fines might be in the works.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 6, 2010  –  Redo that budget and get in some money for the $75.00 fine the city wants to levy for those caught using their skate boards on city streets.  Add the victim fee and that $75. which will get you as close to $100. as you want to be.

The city isn`t all that concerned about the money – it just wants to find a way to be able to control the people that are behaving recklessly and feels that a $75.  fine will do the trick.  Problem with the fine is that there are all kinds of legal and Highway Traffic Act concerns.

This is a delicate area – just about every kid that doesn`t use a bike, uses a skate board to get around and the law as it stands now says you cannot use a skateboard on a public road.  You can use it on a side walk or in the bike lane.  All the police can do now is talk to you – there is no penalty for them to levy.

The city thinks that giving the police a tool they can use will solve the problem – and when they do that they shift that problem to the police who are going to be expected to exercise discretion.

The problem is with gangs that see skate boarding as almost an extreme sport.  Ward 1 councillor Rick Craven reports that there are kids who gather at night on Kerns Road where the hills and the grades are great for skate boarding. They get out there with a van and a video camera, film the thrill ride of someone speeding down the hill and post it on You Tube.  The police are powerless for the most part because even if they do catch the kids behaving recklessly they can only warn them off.

Council wants to give the police a bigger stick and wanted to talk about ways that a system of fines could be put in place.  But they didn`t want the police to be slapping a $75. ticket on every kid using a skate board on a public street – they wanted the police to use their discretion.

Can you imagine drivving up the street and seeing this coming at you? Not reckless but not the safest thing to do either.

Police didn`t attend the Committee of the Whole meeting – city staff said they were invited, the police say they weren`t.  Our information from our media man at Regional Police was that :“ I have spoken with the Burlington Operational Inspector who advised me they were aware of the meeting you are referring to, but they (police) were not asked to be in attendance for it.“   Go figure.  Methinks staff were being a little disingenuous.  The police are aware of the problem and they too would like to see a solution.  They are the people that have to attend when there is an accident and report that a young person has suffered serious head injuries.

Giving police the ability to issue a ticket and then expecting them to use their discretion reflects a bit of misunderstanding as to what police do.  They are there to enforce the law.  Give them clear rules and they will do their job – expect them to use their discretion and you invite nothing but problems.  I suspect too that traffic offence lawyers will have great fun with this one should a ticket case every get to traffic court.

That said, there is a problem.  Kids are creating dangerous situations in parts of the city where there are really good hills they can speed down.  The city put up signs saying Skate Boarding was Prohibited – the kids tore down the signs.

The problem however is not limited to parts of the city with steep grades.  Recently there was a serious accident involving a van and a young man on a skate board who was luging along a flat street.  Luging is when a person lays flat on a skate board.  The driver of the van just didn`t see the person on the skate board.

This problem is going to call for some very creative thinking by people who are very familiar with the Highway Traffic Act.  A new fine of $75. and expecting the HRPS to exercise discretion isn`t the answer to this problem.

Educating the kids isn`t going to solve this problem either.  The vast majority of the kids who glide along quiet residential streets with buds plugged into their ears meaning they don`t hear traffic approaching are harming no one.  It is just a few that are creating a problem – let`s find a stick that won`t cripple them when they are hit with it – but let`s not put our police in a situation where they have to solve a problem we can`t solve.

The Highway Traffic Act says that bicycles can be used on the streets.  Blades and boards can be used on a sidewalk or in a bicycle lane if one exists.  Can you imagine the howls from the public if all the skate boards are suddenly on the side walk ?

Sergeant Dave Cross, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) media man, advises that HRPS does not have a Skate Board Swat Team, so we shouldn`t expect to see cruisers out on the prowl along Kerns Road every night

And as for Officer who gave me a speeding ticket for doing more than 60 on Walkers Line, ( I thought the limit was 80)  – he did exercise some discretion and cut it back a bit and saved me some points.  Will that kind of discretion solve our skate board problem ?  Is it worth a try ?

The officer who caught me was parked behind a cluster of bushes – are we going to see officer hiding in hedges along Kerns Road with bicycles at the ready to race after skate board miscreants ?

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Elite level cycling opportunity brought to a close. City will terminate the agreement.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 3, 2011  Today was the Go – No go day for elite cycling in Burlington and because a hard deadline the city had set for a response from the MidWeek Cycling Club did not arrive before the end of the cling events during the summer of 2012 in Burlington.  Which is unfortunate because the city’s geography offered so much potential for the development of some sports tourism that the city had dearly hoped to develop.

The Canadian Cycling Association has given the rights to the 2011 and 2012 qualifying events to Mid-Week Cycling who then approached Burlington and the

We could have become a great place for elite level cyclists to develop their skills. Not this time but the geography we are blessed will be there for the next attempt.

city along with the Burlington Hotel Association put up a total of $50,000. to support the initiative that was to see exciting Criterion races in the downtown core of the city o

n Canada Day.

But it was not to happen.  In 2010 Parks and Recreation staff bent over backwards to make the event happen.  The Halton Regional Police spent hours working through traffic plans and routing possibilities.  But time and again the Mid Week Cycling Club failed to deliver documentation and details.  The last time around in 2010 and 2011 everyone worked very hard and there was the one race event in the Aldershot areas that most people felt went off very well.  But the city tired of never really knowing of the cycling people were going to come through.

At one point in the comedy of errors on the part of the Mid Week Cycling Club a required payment was made to the Halton Regional Police but the cheque bounced.

Police turned a blind eye to the offence and continued with all the field work.  It amounted to nothing.

The contract was for a two year agreement and 2012 was to be the year that it all came together.  This time the city was not going to be run around in circles.  The Parks and Recreation people at the direction of Council established deadlines that had to be met and October 3rd was one of them.  If event route data was not in the hands of the city by 5:00 of the 3rd – the event was off and the agreement  would be terminated.

There was nothing in hand by 5:00 pm.  So no cycling races in Burlington during the summer of 2012.  City hall staff were not as disappointed as they had been in the past.  They learned some hard lessons last summer and were not going to make the same mistakes twice.

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