City council is asked to do some heavy thinking on a report they had in front of them for just a couple of hours.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 15, 2015


Close to the first thing city council did when they returned from a three month vacation away from city business was to go into a closed session to talk about the property the city owned and how it could be leveraged to get something going in the downtown core in terms of development that wasn’t just condominiums and retail operations that lasted a year and went bust.

Before the meeting went into closed session Councillors Taylor (ward 3) AND Mead Ward (ward 2) complained about getting a document several hours before the discussion was to take place.


Councillor Taylor wants to see reports in his hands several days before he is asked to discuss the contents, His beef was over getting document just a few hours before he was to make comments.

Taylor started out with a Point of Order he wanted to make and then asked why the policy that was agreed upon in 2014 to get material to council members on the Friday of the week before meetings take place allowing time to read the material and think it through.

“I don’t know what is expected of us” said Taylor, “there hasn’t been any time to read the material. Are we just going to receive and file it?”

Taylor went on to say that “knowledge is power and it looks to me as if you are going to go ahead and do what you want without any input from Council.

Stewart Scott blue sweater - more face

General Manager Scott Stewart was away on vacation which meant a report to be discussed wasn’t available in its final form until he returned to the city.

General manager Scott Stewart responded by saying the report was meant to bring council members up to date on the thinking that was being done and to give a sense of where staff was going. “If we are offside” he said, “this was the time to let us know”.

Staff may have been offside and council may have let them know – but the public will never know – the session in which all this revealing was taking place was closed so the public.

City manager James Ridge explained that the documents they were seeing today was one of three pieces of information.

Council was getting a look at what staff felt could be done with property the city owned in the downtown core – parking lots for the most part.
Ridge went on to say that with staff thinking in front of council they could then talk about how all this would relate to the “core commitment” – an issue that has been kicked around for more than a decade with no results that are visible.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington's downtown core - but McMaster stifed the city when a nicer deal came along.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington’s downtown core – but McMaster stiffed the city when a nicer deal came along.

The last great hope for the downtown core was when McMaster University got serious about locating a campus on the Elizabeth Street parking lot – McMaster had a change of heart, helped by a great deal on a piece of property and decided that the South Service Road was a pretty good location.

Ridge went on to explain that with the basic information clearly understood and agreed upon staff could begin doing some “growth modelling” that would get attached to the Strategic Plan which would in turn inform the Official Plan that is slowly working its way through a required revision.

While the process was clear enough Councillor Meed Ward wanted a little more information on why the documents in front of her were not available when they were supposed to be available.

Scott Stewart fessed up and explained that he had been on vacation and staff wasn’t able to get as much done without his presence. Stewart did add that changes were being made to the report as late as Sunday night.

All well and good – but the public still doesn’t know what the debate was about.

The web cast did not catch all the council member remarks – there was a comment from Councillor Sharman – he appreciated “you’re bringing this to us now”.

At some point the public might get to know what it was they talked about.

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