Citizen is perplexed; Council member misleads and Mayor gives a whole new meaning to meaningful response

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 2, 2015


The Mayor blows off a constituent – publicly, and the most proactive member of city council disappoints – all over a development project that city council has said they don’t want to see built and which planning staff advised council to reject.

The ability to manage the file got taken out of the city’s hand when it failed to give the developer a decision within the prescribed time line. .
The matter is now before the Ontario Municipal Board where the city case looks shaky to many

Why is this happening?

Muir making a point

Active whenever development issues are being discussed publicly – Tom Muir wants to know how and why the city failed to vote as a Council on a development application for a project at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road

For reasons that no one has been able to sensibly explain to Tom Muir, the citizen who fist asked the question – why did the city fail to vote on the ADI Development project proposed for the north west corner of the Martha Street Lakeshore Road intersection within the 180 day deadline mandated by the Planning Act?

Muir put together a time line that makes it clear the Planning department report was ready in plenty of time for both the Standing Committee to debate and send a recommendation to Council and for council to vote on.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken - now she is on the other side of the podium, sitting as a Council member. Should make for greay political theatre when the Medicca One zoning matter comes before committee.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken – now she is on the other side of the podium, sitting as a Council member. As a citien delegating frequently she was vocal and persistent. Some feel she dropped the ball on the ADI Development in her ward.

Meed Ward in her responses to Tom Muir wanders all over the place – she even suggests at one point that failing to vote on the application was no big deal and that it would not harm the city’s case now that the matter is at the Ontario Municipal Board.

And she wants to be Mayor? Yikes.

What is difficult to understand is this – why is it so hard for the Mayor to come out with a formal detailed response to the questions Muir asks? They are important questions.

Mayor has yet to hold a formal media conference this term of office – and if memory serves us correctly he did just the one during his first term of office. The last one done in the previous term of office had to do with the pier and at that time the Mayor had then city manager Jeff Fielding answer the questions.

This Mayor doesn’t perform well in public/media sessions.

Does this city know how to deal with controversial development applications and if they don’t what can citizens do about that – other than vote them all out of office in 2018.

Muir wrote Meed Ward because the project was to be built in her ward and, to some degree, because she has a reputation for getting answers to questions and tends to fight for her people.


Usually always on top of every issue in her ward and frequently on top of issues in other wards – much to the chagrin of other council members.

Meed Ward was in a very serious automobile accident in June that left he with a concussion that was not immediately treated. Her recovery has taken longer than even she expected.


“Meaningful response” seems to have a different meaning for the Mayor of Burlington.

But we cannot hang this one on the council member – this is a city issue – which happens to be taking place in her ward – the responsibility belongs to council which is led by the Mayor.

We are in the awkward position of having retired the Planner who managed the file and is therefore not available for questioning. And, we found ourselves with the committee that heard the debate being chaired by the city solicitor acting as Interim city manager at the time.

We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and stumbling around like a bunch of rural rubes who don’t know any better.

When political leaders fail to inform their public – rumour, innuendo and all kinds of conspiracy crap comes to the surface.

Was the decision not to have Council vote deliberate so the issue would go to the OMB and the city could blame them for approving a building that many think is high and adds too much density to the area?

Was not voting a slick way to up our intensification numbers – and blame it on the OMB as well?

The city deserves better.

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9 comments to Citizen is perplexed; Council member misleads and Mayor gives a whole new meaning to meaningful response

  • Lois Best

    always interesting to read what side your own depending on the issue!

  • JQ Public

    Thank you Peter. I don’t often agree with you and your sometimes extreme views, but this time you have hit the nail precisely on the head. A well composed response.

  • Peter Rusin

    I believe that people would be smart enough to understand the complexities of this matter if there was a more transparent delivery of information from the council regarding this file. Transparency is a very potent and effective communications tool. People are not stupid, and need to be treated with respect. This Martha street situation provides an excellent opportunity for this council to educate people about what is taking place, and why things are happening the way they are. The problem appears to be more about political protection than accountable management and effective governance.

    It starts with the mayor.

    If would be very helpful if the mayor simply answered the question, and ignored any potential political risk associated with providing an answer from both a technical perspective as well as from the heart.

    It is obvious that the mayor does not wish to see 28-storeys, and that is something that has to be respected because he does have a certain understanding and vision of how he would like to see this city. But, certainly he knows that we are moving forward with mandated intensification objectives which have to be embraced and managed responsibly. In other words if the mayor wishes the city stayed at 8-storeys, but knows that the reality will be something greater,and likely less than 28, then he should be working towards something that makes sense, and not simply passing the job over to the OMB at great risk and significant cost. The mayor’s style erodes confidence in the leadership of this council.

    I just wish that the mayor of this city would be stronger, take charge of the situation, get people actively debating, challenging each other with reasoned arguments, and take the future of the downtown development out of the hands of the OMB.

    At least we have the editor providing the answer to the question.

  • Steve

    What are the scenarios? Incompetence, or a way through the backdoor? Either way, it ain’t right.

  • Lois Best

    Mr. Jester,
    Please look up the word naive! Our council has their own interests at heart. We can assure you of that!! We must not trust them and must watch their every move. We need eyes on the back of our heads just to keep up with their under handed moves!! In the spirit of transparency…we must not accept anything but!!!

  • C Jester

    Lois, Peter, Tom et all

    This is far too complex for mere citizens to ever understand. Our Council (whom we elected) obviously knows the complexities and has our best interests at heart. We must trust them on this. And pray like mad that they have a clue!

    In the spirit of transparency, they will never disclose why they wouldn’t vote this application down.

    • henri de beaujolais

      Yes, much too complex for us mere citizens.

      We bow to the wisdom of our elected leaders.

      Maybe Peter can show us the way….

      … right

  • Lois Best

    Peter, Can’t wait to see where you sit (which side of the fence)on this article. Tom, congratulations…we must show Burlington citizens what this council is up to!! One of the worst governments that we have ever had!!