City hall doesn't have much in the way of an agenda for its first cycle of meetings after a three month vacation

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 11, 2015



The city’s Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee won’t be holding a day time session this time around – there doesn’t appear to be all that much happening on the development side of things – is that good news? Because there are all kinds of projects in the works.

The agenda for the Standing Committee meeting, which takes place t 6:30 pm on the 14th is as follows:

On the Consent Agenda there are the following:

Report recommending approval of a variance to the Sign By-law to permit a fascia sign at 3365 Fairview Street.
Report recommending dissolution of the Flood Disaster Relief Committee.


The city doesn’t want the public feeding these critters – staff report has some recommendations – will the public go along with them

On the Regular Agenda there is the one item:

Report recommending options regarding the feasibility of a by-law prohibiting the feeding of wildlife.

That issue will draw some views that see this problem quite differently – it is a problem that needs serious consideration. Councillor Dennis and Burlington’s MPP Eleanor have weighed in on this one

There are then two Public Meetings. These meetings are required when the city wants to make changes to its Official Plan – the public is given a clear opportunity to express their views.

There is a report on the city-initiated housekeeping amendments to Zoning By-law 2020. This is not easy reading and for the most part it doesn’t matter – until you have an issue with city and they tell you that there was a change in the bylaws way back when – didn’t you know about it? Lawyers will get you through that kind of mess.

Statutory public meeting and information report for a proposed Official Plan Amendment for 4880 Valera Road.

And that is about it for this first cycle of city council Standing Committee meetings.

There are some concerns with the rather weak agenda.

Has the city manager figured out what it is he wants to do now that he has warmed the chair he sits in for five full months?

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge – the current city manager has yet to give any sense as to the way he plans to run the city. He brings a much different and an as yet understood style to the job.

James Ridge has a management style that is considerably different than his two predecessors. Both Jeff Fielding and Pat Moyle served as city managers with a style that was open and transparent for media.

James Ridge doesn’t see his job in the same way making difficult to understand how he [plans to communicate with the public. He has not made himself available to media; on those occasions when we have been able to ask him questions at the end of a council session he has chosen to be curt with an economy of words that is – how shall we put his – disarming.

Other than that he shipped his pets to Burlington buy air freight rather than drive across the country with them, we know very little about James Ridge. He has yet to make a public comment.

He appears to have decided to join himself to the Mayor at the hip – the administration of the city is distinctly different than the political direction – the politicians come and go – the administration is there forever – ensuring that the doors open every morning and that the streets are cleared of snow and leaves and that the parks are in the shape the taxpayers expect.

There is a respectful distance required between the office of the Mayor and the office of the city manager.

Usually a city manager sets out a work plan and explains to city council in a public setting what and how he expects to perform his duties. This city council has yet to see such a document.

We do know that the production of a Code of Conduct for city council has been punted to the city manager who is expected to somehow fit this into the Strategic Plan that is languishing between various dates on the calendars that determine when Councillors can meet.

The next reported date for a Strategic Plan meeting is October 19th – the public should not expect to get a chance to comment on whatever comes out of the political process before the end of the year – at which time this council will have completed one quarter of their term of office.

The Strategic Plan is expected to inform the review of the Official Plan which is having its own problems getting out of the gate.

People within city hall consistently talk about Burlington’s vibrancy – if there is any such thing in this city it has yet to find its way to the 6th floor where the James Fridge rules the roost.

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5 comments to City hall doesn’t have much in the way of an agenda for its first cycle of meetings after a three month vacation

  • James

    I’m sure Mr. Ridge is a nice person, but let’s face it, introverts don’t usually make for very strong leaders, especially when given the task of keeping the reigns on outspoken Council Members and a whole raft of municipal employees. It’s not an easy job, nobody said it would be, but that’s why it’s the highest paying job at City Hall. He has been here long enough now that we as the public should at least have some sense of who the man is and what he’s capable of. That hasn’t happened yet. The position of City Manager demands a strong leader, but all we’ve seen so far is the grown up equivalent of that kid who sits at the back of the classroom in his imaginary invisibility cloak hoping the teacher doesn’t ask him a question. Come on Mr. Ridge, take off the training wheels and toss away those water wings, it’s time to step up and show us what you’ve got!

  • Monte

    Burlington has MAJOR problems in the north. In my humble opinion, ignoring the Airpark issue by pretending that they can’t do anything because it is before the courts is nothing more than acting like the famous Ostrich.

    City council, with the exception of a few, just don’t get it. There are lives being ruined, relationships crumbling and positive projects put on hold. Council should stop hiding behind the legal excuses and start being proactive before the area known as North Burlington becomes stagnated and eventually destroyed. A basket of apples requires no help whatsoever in turning rotten, once it starts.

    The Airpark issue and the bigger picture of North Burlington must be put in the forefront of critical issues facing Burlington. While it is already too late for some of us, there will be other people moving in to replace us. Are they going to be ignored from the start or are they moving into a vibrant, positive area which is worth protecting?

    This choice could be made by Burlington City council, by showing and implementing leadership.

    What choices will Council make, after they hopefully “get it”, or will North Burlington, and in turn Burlington, become known as the Ostrich capital of Ontario?

    • Alice

      Hiding behind the “its with legal excuse” is one of the most incompetent styles of management, or mismanagement as is the case in this city.

      The lawyers work for the leaders, not the other way around. Its disgusting to always hear that nothing can be done because a file is sitting rotting on the desks of some lawyers – please – yuck – gag – barf.

  • Rob

    James Ridge has only just arrived and you have already written him off! I would suggest that you stop being so negative and you may gain more respect from City Hall, Politicians and your readers.

    • Alice

      There is nothing negative about keeping a civil servant accountable especially after having been here long enough to do demonstrate results. He is getting paid full freight for the role, so there is no excuse about getting up to speed on business in what is a relatively small municipality with virtually nothing going on. He is the top dog and he should be taking the initiative and delivering on that ever so nauseating message of vibrancy – yuck.

      Based on this guy’s performance style to date, my bet is he is planning a short stay to leverage even greener pastures.

      If James Fridge voluntarily sought to be a civil servant in this city making $300K a year, then all type of criticism and scrutiny is fair game.