Citizen attempts to set the Mayor straight. Is the Mayor listening? Does he have the capacity to hear? Some very strong points are made.

BURLINGTON, ON  November 29, 2012  Part of the reason for creating this “newspaper on a web site” was to try and re-balance the “information deficit” the Shape Burlington report said the city was struggling to deal with.  It has not been an easy task and at times we felt we were out there all by ourselves.

When we wrote something about a person or the organization they led – we were taken off the media list.  When we were consistently critical about the leadership of the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory committee we were sued for libeling the chair.

That lawsuit is working its way through the various processes that apply to libel and defamation.  There is a phrase that describes what is being done: – “libel chill”.  If they sue we are supposed to back down and apologize.  Better yet, they could drive us out of business as we struggle to cover the legal costs.  We will keep you posted in the libel matter

We aren’t the only person who understands the “information deficit” and the role of a free press.  Peter Goddard recently posted a comment to a story we wrote.  That comment was so good – not that we agree with everything Peter Goddard has to say – that we felt it should be given a much wider audience.

Here is what Goddard had to say to our Mayor:

Dear Mayor.

I propose that what you have accomplished is a list of gooey sentiments with no real substance. You have expanded on the adjectives you already attached to ethereal concepts, and arrived at intentions with no plan at all.

Today I still face a real problem, that far too many citizens in Burlington have faced, are facing, will face. We are being bullied by developers who, with the aid of a far from contrite planning department, are building unwanted and inappropriate mega-condo projects in the middle of the “jewel on the lake”. Far from contributing to vibrancy, energy, belonging, and compassion, these developments are contributing to a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, depression, and acrimony in the neighbourhoods they blight. These monstrous developments are marketed as separate communities, and indeed they are separate. You cannot draw a line around any other portion of the affected neighbourhoods and say “this area is distinct”. They do not fit. They are the equivalent of inclusions in the jewel, imperfections that make our jewel worth far less than one that is clear and free of undesirable detritus.

The Mayor calls this city of ours a Jewel on the Lake and it may well be but are we not more than just our geography?

In this same sense, anyone could appreciate that while you are busy polishing the jewel, the value still only decreases as we accept a lower and lower quality of gem, and our own experts in city planning, like jaded dealers, contend the imperfections make it better.

I am tired of this conversation. You messaged me with a link to this blog entry, I suppose you felt I should be inspired as you were. But I offer you may be suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome, the psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy or sympathy, and have positive feelings towards their captors.

I feel you may be trapped in the sense you are powerless to influence negative changes in the city, brought about by the provincial and regional intensification plans you are legally bound to observe. In response, you are polishing a turd. In my experience this only results in a shinier turd.

Because we are bound on all sides Burlington faces a difficult problem. How do we grow? In response to this problem Burlington committed to a plan, developed and implemented in the form of provincial, regional, and municipal “official plans”.

Each of these plans describes in progressively finer granularity, the details of how we will achieve required growth within the constraints of the law, and each plan aspires to accomplish a greater goal of improving our communities in fair and equitable ways.

The plans primarily call for DIRECTED intensification, with the specific stated goals of easing traffic congestion while supplying an adequate mix of housing PROXIMAL to workplace and transit lines. The finely tuned plan was unveiled to Burlington a few years back. This included maps of where the development would take place, what it would look like, and how we would accomplish it. It was a good plan.

Post It notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting. Peter Goddard isn’t the only one who doesn’t agree with the city planner.

But now; The city is twisting the plan to serve a single metric. Person/jobs per hectare. Nothing else matters in their decisions. When faced with reasonable arguments against a development, they simply ignore those arguments, or devote their resources to researching obscure and weak counter arguments that are insulting to reasoning persons on the face of them. They hold these weak counter arguments up as proof of their wisdom, but we see the truth clearly. City planning views the plan as an arbitrary guide, and has assigned themselves the role of arbiter. The head city planner told me personally he is “like a cop” and that “people who follow the speed limit on the highways are actually getting in the way”. Presumably this means I am getting in the way when I question his judgement, or the judgement of his staff. He actually became visibly disturbed when I suggested I wanted to check his departments facts, admonishing “you’re not questioning my engineers, are you?” (BTW, yes.)

Peter Goddard has given Mayor Goldring quite a bit to think about. Will the Mayor respond?

You are elected to govern the city in a democratic manner. The four pillars of democracy are Freedom, Representation, Equity, and Justice.

-I am apparently FREE to leave if I don’t like it.

-I am apparently free to consult with my REPRESENTATIVE on council, who may or may not answer my concerns or return my correspondence.

-I am apparently equal to the others in this city who have been bulldozed by the “planning process”, but not EQUAL to the richer parts of the city whose properties are in “significant” areas.

-And Justice? I’m sure I am receiving an equal helping of the kind of justice Burlingtonians are becoming accustomed to. The kind of justice that gives tickets to those who follow the speed limit, and encourages dangerous speeding.

So while you are looking forward to sharing the journey, my dreams are being told to move to the back of the bus.

Peter Goddard

Thank you Peter Goddard.

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