Chamber of Commerce hosts the final Mayoralty question and answer session.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 14th, 2108



It was thee last debate for the Mayoralty candidates – this one hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

All the debates put on this year have been broadcast and available to the public. That is a plus. The Gazette’s raison d’etre is that an informed community can make informed decisions. It is nice to see the other media catching up.

With each of the debates running an hour and a half – few are going to choose to hang in for the full show.

Our job is to watch all this stuff. As we watched the Chamber of Commerce debate a few things became really clear.

All candidates

Candidates at the Chamber of Commerce Q&A. Everyone was polite with Greg Woodruff making some very penetrating comments. Tim CCCC moderated.

Of the four candidates: Rick Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward, Mike Wallace and Greg Woodruff – Woodruff was the one who had ideas and cogent comments. Again and again his comments put the question being asked into clearer focus.
Meed Ward was clear on her approach: Stop doing what we have been doing; it isn’t working and it won’t work.

GoldringGoldring seems to need to fudge and fuddle his numbers. He continues to say that the tax increases were equal to inflation. Just not true Your Worship. The only part of the tax bill city council controls is the city budget and for the past seven years the city has been putting out a budget that asks for 4% more each year – and that that isn’t sustainable.

Should Goldring be  re-elected he is going to have to bite that bullet and either spend less or tax even more, which the city has already done. The city asked its citizens to agree to an additional 1% tax levy to cover the city’s share of re-building and transforming the Joseph Brant Hospital. The $60 million that had to be raised and has been raised through a special tax levy should have ended. It didn’t – the city is continuing to collect that money and using it for infrastructure improvements. City council had an obligation to ask the public if it could continue to collect that special levy.

Mike Wallace is depending on his successes on getting federal funds into the city and his “connections” at Queen’s Park where be believes he can be heard. He does have a good idea for the creation of a community that could be built to attract those high tech jobs and also be a place where younger people can afford to live. It was done in Toronto in what is known as Liberty Village. It’s possible but it is a huge task – one well beyond anything Wallace has done in the past.

WallaceHe has his eye on a location for this – he has a developer who appears to be prepared to work with him. Wallace doesn’t always say where the land is and who the developer is. The words Wallace is looking for are Paletta and Bronte Meadows at the curve in the road where Upper Middle becomes Burloak is zoned as employment lands. The Paletta’s have been trying really hard to get a zoning change on that property so they can build residential – which is where the real money is.

Meed WardMeed Ward has grown as a city Councillor. She is on the wrong end of a lot of 6-1 council votes – she is also on the right end of the more than two dozen changes she brought to the Official Plan debates.

Everyone, except the Mayor took the position that the council we have now hasn’t worked very well. It has been unruly frequently with two members who disrupt, colluding and focus far too much of their energy on hammering Meed Ward. Councillor Craven has decided to retire; Councillor Sharman is running for re-election.

The existing Council was split with Taylor and Meed Ward able from time to time to pull in the Mayor and Councillor Dennison.

Councillors Craven, Sharman and Lancaster were continually and consistently opposed to most of what Meed Ward was trying to do.

When asked what the role of a Mayor was Goldring said the job was “to try for consensus” which he said had been achieved with the Strategic Plan and made it sound like it was the bedrock on which the city is going to be built. In the past Strategic Plans have been the four year vision of a council. There is nothing that says a new council has to accept a plan voted for by a previous council.

It is really hard to come up with a decision made by this council that was brought about by the Mayor working with and persuading council to do something.

Mike Wallace said the Mayor has to be an effective leader and to communicate the council’s decisions to the community. Wallace stressed that the job was to collaborate with the other members of Council.

WoodruffWoodruff pointed out that there are situations where “you are dealing with bad people” who vilify the person they are disagreeing with – “when that happens all communication stops”. He was quite right – that is what happened to the current city council and the Mayor was never able to bridge the differences and pull the parties together.

Meed Ward did bring disruption to city council. She wasn’t one of those “go along to get along” people. She believed that she understood the will of the residents and brought that understanding to city council where it turned out to be less than welcome.  Meed Ward pressed on and paid a very high price – she was on the receiving end of the vilification Woodruff mentioned.

These asre the rural lands north of the Dundas-Highway 407 boundary. PERL wants them protected forever. Some want to build communities in this part of the city.

These are the rural lands north of the Dundas-Highway 407 boundary.

The Mayor and Meed Ward agreed on the status of the rural lands north of the Hwy 407 and Dundas Road divide: leave them as they are. Meed Ward said there was an agricultural sector that could be grown, Mike Wallace said the land on the north side of the divide should be developed. Woodruff pointed out that once you develop as much as a foot of land north of the divide – where does it end?

Wallace, who describes himself as the “architect of the current seven member council” believes that the city needs a bigger council. He isn’t wrong but there are complications in creating a larger council.

Currently all members of city council are members of Regional council as well and where, for the ward Councillors, have of their income is earned. If the city adds two members to city council they are not going to become Regional Councillors. Burlington has just seven seats on the Regional Council.

Meed Ward suggests these new members might be seen as Councillors at large – with no ward to represent.
The work load at the Standing Committee is heavy – getting some help at that level is needed. A lot of debate needed on this issue – the incoming council will have bigger fish to fry.

Meed Ward points out that the city is going to have a “new” Council. Two council members resigned and Meed Ward gave up her seat to run for Mayor which means there will be at least three new council members.

She adds that if there is a new Mayor that will mean there could be some 4-3 votes in the future.

There was a time between 2006 and 2010 when Council bemoaned those 4-3 votes. Given the past four years they are looking very welcome.

Cannabis: does Burlington vote to allow commercial operations or does it take a pass on allowing them right now? Meed Ward said yes, Woodruff said yes. Wallace and Goldring thought the city should wait and see what the regulations are going to be.

The views on cannabis are forming along generational lines – same thing seems to be the case for city council.

The debate season is over; what this last debate didn’t have was the intemperate remarks the Mayor made at the Burlington Green and ECoB debates.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of
the Gazette publisher.

ECoB Mayoralty debate

Burlington Green Mayoralty debate

Chamber of Commerce debate.

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4 comments to Chamber of Commerce hosts the final Mayoralty question and answer session.

  • I think this applies to the Mayors race and some of the ward races – I’ll write out the entire quote from the event:

    “The important principle is that if you disagree with someone and you change from the disagreement into some kind of villainization – It’s not that they disagree with you – it’s that they are bad people or that they are indifferent then – all communication is gone. And then people won’t listen to you, because they are trapped in this narrative this guy is a jerk and I’m not a jerk. But the problem is that everybody thinks everyone else is a jerk and they are not.”

  • Susie

    On the subject of high costs and addictions going hand-in-hand with Cannabis, this should be a red flag to the reporting officials. With higher numbers of cannabis users soon to be reaching out for accommodations, food, clothing, and medical, the taxpayers cannot begin to support these costly life style habits that will eventually feed additional poverty. Another “oops” by the Government, gone forward only for the mighty $$$$$.

  • joe gaetan

    On the subject of Cannabis retail outlets; as a person who spent over 10 years in the smoking cessation field and having interacted with over 6,000 smoking cessation clients. I can say without reservation our citizens will find and will be buying and ingesting pot/cannabis legally starting Oct. 17, 2018.
    Had the province paid proper attention to the fact that the higher they jacked taxes, the more people were driven to purchasing contraband cigarettes, they could have applied that knowledge to cannabis.
    Anecdotally, when we asked smokers about their smoking preferences, people admitted contraband cigarettes were inferior, but due to price, they were still willing to drive 20 ,30 ,40 kilometers to buy a bag of cigarettes.
    The same will happen here, except illegal cannabis providers will be filling the gap rigth here in Burlington, while we drag our feet “waiting” for the right time to review whether we should or should not support retail outlets in Burlington. Reminds me of the dry county concept found in the U.S of A.
    Full disclosure I have never used recreational cannabis and don’t intend on trying it just because it is legal. Medical cannabis is an entirely different conversation that is worth having. Our Prime Minister like him or not, thinks Cannabis is ok, no foot dragging a the highest level of government in the land.