A “sharrow” on your street? Should you be worried ? Not if you drive a bicycle.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  Sept. 5, 2012— Watch for painted signs along the side of more than two dozen roadways in Burlington.  The city is installing 285 new sharrows throughout the city on streets identified in the city’s Cycling Master Plan as proposed bicycle priority streets.

At $95 a pop – tax included – the city is putting in a couple of dozen of these. They are called sharrows and they tell drivers to share the road with cyclists.

Sharrows are bicycle use road markings that are painted on the road where a complete bike lane barrier cannot be installed.  The markings are meant to attract cyclists who prefer to ride on less busy streets and help increase driver awareness.

“The city’s efforts in improving our cycling infrastructure demonstrate our long-term commitment to promoting and encouraging active transportation in Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure.

Burlington received the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition last August. Share the Road is an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

Work crews are installing 285 sharrows on the following streets:

•         Millcroft Park Drive from Dundas Street to Walkers Line

•         William O’Connell Boulevard from Millcroft Park Drive to Upper Middle Road

•         Jordan Avenue from Walkers Line to Headon Road

•         Headon Road from Palmer Drive to Headon Forest Drive

•         Forest Run Avenue from Walker’s Line to Bianca Forest Drive

•         Bianca Forest Drive from Forest Run Avenue to Pincay Oaks Lane

•         Headon Forest Drive from Headon Road to Northampton Boulevard

•         Northampton Boulevard from Headon Forest Drive to Dundas Street

•         Duncaster Drive from Upper Middle Road to Cavendish Drive

•         Coventry Way from Cavendish Drive to Guelph Line

•         Tyandaga Park Drive from Brant Street to Kern’s Road

•         Kerns Road from North Service Road to Canterbury Drive

•         Mount Forest Drive from Brant to Fisher Avenue

•         Fisher Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Mountainside Drive

•         Mountainside Drive from Fisher Avenue to Guelph Line

•         Mountain Grove Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Dead End

•         Martha Street from Centennial Bikeway to Lakeshore Road

•         Pine Street from Brant Street to Martha Street

•         Northshore Road from Belhaven Crescent to LaSalle Park Road

•         Pearl Street from Pine Street to Lakeshore Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Kenwood Avenue to Hampton Heath Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Goodram Drive to Appleby Line

Motorists may experience some delay while pavement markings are put in place.  The work is underway and will be completed this week.

Each sharrow costs $95 to put in place.  The city expects to spend approximately $31,000 this year on sharrows.

$55,000 is budgeted for cycling each year. It is used on minor cycling improvement projects……this includes installation of new bike lanes (grinding of vehicle lane pavement markings and applying new bike lanes)…..curb cuts, sharrows and signage.

Hopefully drivers will see the markings on the roadway and recognize they are expected to share the road they are using with those who choose to cycle.

Once the sharrows are in place we can perhaps see more people using side streets and locations where they can fel safe and be safe.  The REAL challenge for Burlington is coming up with ways to make it safe to use a bicycle on Guelph, Walkers and Appleby Lines.




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There are six of them, these Olympians grew up in this community and we chose to laud and honour the job they did.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 5, 2012  Once they become  Olympians  the title is with them for life.  We applaud them, we laud their achievements and in Burlington we have claimed five as our own – and then we realized we have a sixth – that being Brandon Wager who is participating at the London Paralympic Games.

Canadian cupcakes for three of our Olympians. From the left – Mark Oldershaw, Colin Russell and Melanie Booth.

Burlington held a small reception for the Olympians, it was the second such event.  There was a get together in the Atrium for Colin and Sinead Russell, held to accommodate Sinead’s travel plans.  She was leaving the next day to begin her sports scholarship at a university in Florida.

The event Tuesday evening was larger and included Melanie Booth and Mark Oldershaw.  Melanie was part of the soccer team that dazzled Canadians who felt the pain when the Canadian team lost the opportunity to bring home Gold – but we happily accepted bronze and know that next time out the world is going to watch a superior soccer team.

Oldershaw, who is the fifth member of his family to take part in the Olympics, was on hand.  The man has a remarkably laid back approach to people and speaks exceptionally well.  We will see more of this man.

Both athletes in the room passed their medal around and let anyone wear it for a while.

The unpredictable weather resulted in a small crowd. Other activities kept MP Mike Wallace away (on vacation in Italy) while MP Jane McKenna was in the Legislature debating a bill to ensure teachers don’t walk out. The Mayor came close to getting all mushy about that final soccer game when the Canadian team earned bronze medals

Mayor Goldring came close to getting a little carried away with himself when he spoke of watching every minute of the soccer game “that brought home”  the bronze medals.  Didn’t we all do that?

These young men and woman went to personal lengths few of us manage to do in our lives.  Mindless hours of putting their bodies through routine after routine.  They take on a lifestyle that shuts out many of the pleasures and pleasantries the rest of us enjoy day in and day out.

This is what an Olympian wears when they want to make a fashion statement.

They push their bodies to limits the rest of us don’t even think about doing.  They go without.  They take a pass on opportunities that don’t fit in with the lifestyle of being an Olympian,

We remember them when they win medals and forget them if they don’t.  We want their autographs when they win and don’t even recognize them when they just take part in the Games.

For the record – here is what these remarkable men and woman did:

Melanie Booth; Bronze medal in Woman’s soccer

Scott Dickens, Men’s 100 m breaststroke, Men’s 200 m breaststroke, Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Mark Oldershaw; Bronze medal in 1×1000 m canoe sprint.

Colin Russell: Men’s 4×100 Freestyle relay, Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay.  Colin retired from Olympic competition this year.

Sinead Russell; Woman’s 100 m backstroke, Woman’s 200 m backstroke.

Brandon Wager; currently at the Paralympic Games

Susan Fraser brought her canoe paddle to the civic reception for the Olympians hoping that Mark Oldershaw would autograph it for her. He willingly signed the paddle which will probably never go into the water again.

The beauty of an electronic media is that what we write is on the web site for as long as we choose to keep it there – and we are thinking in terms of decades.  Among the memories will be the picture of Susan Fraser having her paddle signed by Mark Oldershaw. “What are you going to do with it now?” someone  asked. “I’m taking it to bed with me tonight” replied Fraser.  “My husband can sleep on the couch”.

Oldershaw was very generous in letting people handle his Bronze Medal and put it around their necks.  The scene in the city hall atrium was a public adoring and honouring their Olympians.

The Paralympic Athletes had 20 medals as of this reporting with five gold in the bag.  Brandon Wagner who plays basketball from his wheelchair learned his sport inAldershot.  He will be honoured by the city when  he returns from the games.


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Lake Ontario water conditions for swimming at Beachway Park not as good as they were last week.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  August 31st, 2012  The beach water monitoring results done by the Regional Health Department revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Oakville – Bronte Park Beach, Coronation Park East

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Oakville –Coronation Park West

Burlington – Beachway Park

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

The Beachway Park has been safe for swimming for the past six weeks – this report is a change in the condition of the water.

Unfortunately, other than media posting, the public that uses the Beachway Park in Burlington has no way of knowing if the water is safe or unsafe.  There are no signs to indicate the condition of the water.  Unfortunate indeed.


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Michele Benoit postpones Lake Ontario swim to 2013. Support crew problems and weather conditions meant a delay.

 By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON Burlington, ON—Aug. 30, 2012 – Burlington resident Michele Benoit who was scheduled to attempt a 45KM Lake Ontario crossing this summer has had to postpone until 2013.  In an effort to raise awareness and funds for clean water in Africa, Benoit was scheduled to swim 45KM from Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines to Spencer Smith Park in Burlington on August 17, 2012.  Severe, unfavorable weather and water conditions forced the swimmer to reschedule and re-plan for a new date.

“Open water swimming is one of the most unpredictable sports around due to the reliance on the conditions” says Benoit.  “You can plan and be completely prepared to attempt a crossing, but if the weather and water do not cooperate, it’s completely out of your control”.

Lots of pool time this winter for Michele Benoit as she turns her energy and determination to being ready for a 2013 attempt to swim from Port Dalhousie to Burlington as a fund raising event for Waves for Water, a charity that wants to build systems in Africa that will provide fresh water.

And this is what Ms. Benoit has had to accept.  “I have done everything possible to make my attempt for 2012 but between unfavorable conditions and unavailability of boats and crew at the end of the season, I have to set my sights on next year.”

With the water and the air getting a lot colder now, the focus will be on a new year of training, planning and continuing to raise awareness and funds for clean water in undeveloped countries.  “I will be back in 2013 strong, ready and determined to raise as much money as I can for clean water in Africa. “

Ms. Benoit started Waves for Water to help those in need.  Her choice to do a swim of this magnitude was to raise awareness and funds and spread the message of ‘Making Waves for Water’ big or small.  “This swim has never been about Benoit – it was about how an event can champion a cause”.  A new date will be announced in the Spring of 2013.

Maybe Burlington will be able to stand on the pier and watch Benoit arrive at the small beach to the west of the pier currently under construction.  The city still talks of it being “open” in the spring of 2013 and if the weather holds that just might be possible.

“I would like to thank my family, my team and everyone who was so incredibly supportive,” Benoit said.  “Be ready!  I plan to return next year for a successful crossing!”

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City awarded a bronze medal for being friendly to bicycles. Now we need ways to make cars and bicycles friends as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   Aug. 26.  2012-   Last week Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster was in Ottawa as a city delegate to the Association of Municipalities annual convention and while there accepted the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award on behalf of the city.

Burlington was awarded the bronze rating by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

The Regional Police use bicycles on a regular basis as part of the way they do their work. Are there any other civic employees using bicycles?

Burlington has gone some distance in making the city a more cycle friendly place – in this instance the city is ahead of its citizens.  In June and July the city held two Car Free Sundays at which the turnout was less than expected.  To the surprise of many the event on Appleby Line had a considerably better turn out than the event held on Brant Street.   It was clear to many that the idea needed a re-think.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) Program, an initiative of the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, was launched in Canada in August 2010 by Share the Road. The program provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling.  Municipalities are judged in five categories often referred to as the Five “E’s” engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.  A community must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories in order to be considered for an award.

The city did a photo op in May to promote the idea of cycling to work – threw in a free breakfast for those that showed up. It wasn’t a large crowd. Councillor Dennison is the only serious and sincere cyclist on Council. Bike rack at city hall is seldom full – parking spaces at city hall are well used however – they’re free. Beats a free breakfast.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “Over the last number of years the City of Burlington has committed to adding to our cycling-friendly infrastructure throughout the city. We have increased the number of kilometres of bike lanes and paths and made on-road cycling safer with the installation of signage, buffered and coloured lanes and sharrows. This award also recognizes the work we have done in education and awareness.”

“This award is a reflection of the hard work of city staff and our community leaders,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure. “I encourage more residents to make the safe and healthy choice of cycling.”

A key focus of the city’s strategic plan, Burlington, Our Future, is increasing the number of people who cycle in the city for both recreation and transportation.

Burlington approved a Cycling Master Plan in 2009.  This plan guides the city’s efforts in creating a network of on-road bikeways and multi-use pathways as well as providing policies, practices and programs to encourage more people to cycle.

Burlington has 49 km of bike lanes, 22.5 km of bike boulevards, 19 km of shared use paths and 20.7 km of multi-use paths.  Bicycle racks are available at all city facilities and public art bike racks have been installed in the downtown. Bike racks are also mounted on the front of all Burlington Transit buses.

Increasing its cycling infrastructure is just part of the task: work in the areas of education and awareness continue.

The Burlington Sustainable Development Committee and Burlington Central Library are hosting an active transportation seminar; Get it in Gear, on Oct. 18th,from  7 to 9 p.m.  The city has a Green Transportation Map –  outlining transit routes, trails and tourism destinations in Burlington, available at the Tourism office on Brant Street.

Burlington was up for a pre-Olympic cycling competition but the opportunity got away from us. Maybe in the future?

Burlington got a sense of what was possible when it took a hard look at the idea of holding pre-Olympic elite level races that would have resulted in a jam packed Canada Day.  That idea didn`t fly due to problems with the promoter – but we got a clear sense of what was possible.  At some point the city will meet up with the right promoter and we will perhaps see elite cycle racing in the community.

In the meantime the cycling infrastructure keeps being added to and more and more roadways are truly bicycle accessible.  Hopefully sooner rather than later the city will devote some time and money figuring out how to make the stretch of roadway from Mainway to Fairview bicycle friendly – that for Burlington is the real challenge at Walkers Line and Appleby Line as well.  It is what creates that big divide between the Burlington north of the QEW and the Burlington south of the QEW – and until we resolve that one we won`t be united as a city.  When that problem is solved – we could win gold!

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The team is in place, most of the equipment is in hand, the Mayor is tweeting for her – Benoit is basically ready to swim across Lake Ontario.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 13, 2012  The pint sized lady who is going to swim Lake Ontario from Port Dalhousie to Burlington this Friday and Saturday, is at that frenzied stage;  trying to get it to that “it’s all together now” stage.  Michele Benoit isn’t there yet.

The hard, day in day out training is behind her – if she isn’t in top shape physically now – she never will be. Her mental condition will be known by this swimmer the moment she slips into the water.

She could use someone with a Zodiac for the trip that will last at least 20 hours.  She has one – she would like a second one.    By the end of the week she will have all the pieces in place and slip into the water Friday evening and begin the solid stroke after stroke that will get her from there to here.

That pixie look hides a very determined woman who has decided to take on Lake Ontario

Making this happen has not been an easy task.  The swim is badly under-funded.  It has had to scrimp and scrape to get the equipment and people needed to make this happen.  But bit by bit – the pieces are falling into place and Benoit continues her daily swims and exercise routines.

Mayor Goldring has been tweeting his audience about the event.  The city is getting ready to set up a small tent to receive Benoit when she comes ashore sometime Saturday afternoon.  The special entrance being put in place to get to the “instant beach” formed on the west side of the under construction pier was moved up in the schedule so Benoit could land there.

They are still working out just where the people who are going to be at Port Dalhousie with her will park their cars once someone brings them back to Burlington.

Stephen Turner is part of the crew serving as the paramedic.  Billy Johnson and Joe Atikian will drive the boats. Christine Arsenault is her swim master.   Colleen Shields is one of the pacers as well as a boat driver.

You swim across a lake by putting one arm in the water after the other – with a Lake Ontario swim – you can be doing that for as much as 24 hours. That`s the battle between Michele Benoit and Lake O

As Benoit strokes toward shore there will be a large crowd of people out on the Beachway Park building sand castles and when the word gets to them – they may walk to the other end of the Park and be on hand to greet this unbelievably committed young lady who has been doing media interviews that range from the French CBC radio station to a handful of small Christian based radio program and an interview on 100 Huntley Street.

Benoit brings a strong Christian commitment to the swim – it is not something she is doing just to get her name on a list of people who have swum across the lake.  The swim is the first step in a planned approach to raise funds for an organization that helps people in Africa get fresh water.

Benoit will tell you all you ever want to know about the plight of people in a number of African countries where fresh water – something we take for granted – is a precious and at times hard to come by commodity.

Waves for Water is the charity all this swimming is being done for.  Once the swim is completed – and there is absolutely no doubt in Benoit’s mind that she will complete the swim – in record time?  That’s not something she can tell you.  Everything depends on the weather.  High winds will mean large waves and that means more time – but for Benoit –well she will face what she is given.

Her team is in place – for the most part.  Her Mom and Dad is going to be there as is her sister, niece and nephew, who will handle the land side communications.

Her feeders are in place – these are the people that will get nutrients to her from a cup at the end of a pole.  Matt Smith heads up that task as well as being the crossing coach.   Deborah Arsenault is the nutritionist preparing the feed. Her pacers will be aboard one of the accompanying craft.  During the swim various pacers will be in the water with her to help her keep a steady arm over arm stroke.

It`s a cold forbidding body of water that Benoit will slip into next Friday night. She believes that she is up to the challenge.

Doug Hawksworth will be out there with his sailboat along with members of the family, Chelsea and Candice and Brett White  helping out.

Sue Reed is her crossing manager. Miguel Vadillo will help with the pacing as well as driving the boat which has to have huge lights on it at night so that Benoit is never out of sight.

Geoff Farrow will also pace and drive the boat.

Jessie Douglas will be along as the photographer.

Michael Shaen and sister Kim are land co-ordinators.

Chris Chriswick, Bud Seawright, Nigel Reed and Branko Dren will be part of the crew on the landside of things.

There is a team meeting on Tuesday – the last one before the pace changes and Michele Benoit prepares herself for the challenge – the awesome struggle between her and what she calls Lake O.



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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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