City manager keeps the wheels on when it comes to services; Mayor fills in the cracks on needed support.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 24, 2020



City Manager Tim Commisso, and Executive Director Alan Magi, co-chair the Emergency Coordination Group (ECG) – they meet at least every day – the several sub-committees of the ECG meet regularly as well.

It is a grind – but they keep on top of all the issues and so far the wheels are still on the cart.

Meed WardMayor Marianne Meed Ward formed the Burlington COVID-19 Task Force; they held their 7th meeting last week.  The focus was responding to the changes that were happening  as a result of provincial announcements related to reopening Ontario, including parking lots and parks, golf courses and tennis courts, off-leash dog areas and more.

The Burlington Restaurant Association is now represented by Ted and Shelley Kindos who own Gator Ted’s Tap & Grill as well as nearby Barra Fion.  The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit by this pandemic, and even though they are permitted to offer take-out and curbside pick-up, their revenues have been significantly diminished – we have already seen the closure of Emma’s Back Porch/The Water Street Cooker.

Reopening the restaurant sector and better understanding what controls need to be in place to ensure everyone’s health & safety. Emma’s is expected to re-open when the re-opening process is further along.  The owners of the building are believed to have interviewed a large number of the staff; preparing them for a re-start.

Eric Vandewall, President & CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital spoke about the issue of hospital capacity as it relates to COVID-19.

Eric andewall TITLE

Eric Vanderwall, President and CEO Joseph Brant Hospital

While there is, indeed, capacity at this time, it is a fine balance to maintain the space and staffing that also allows for the treatment of other conditions the people of our community are facing.

Having enough room for COVID-19 patients is not the only concern – the hospital needs to have room for elective surgeries and the other urgent and acute care that residents depend on.

Robin Food Bank with milk

Robin Bailey, Burlington Food Bank – feeding hundreds – delivering to homes.

Providing food and learning more on the status of food scarcity in the community and how government financial supports are enabling people to rely less on food banks and see positive impact to their mental health.

Subcommittee to address the issue of food security and actively identifying those at risk/in need and matching up with support.
May 20 Update: Denise Beard

Gift of Giving Back food drive still in planning phase based on gathering size as we wait on more direction there.

Basic Income Program: support from government has helped get many people to a basic income level and get them to a point where they no longer need the targeted food support and has had a very good effect on their mental health and well-being.

Worth considering what we can do to advocate making this more of a permanent solution.
Burlington Together (formerly Care Mongering) has a new program called Grow a Row – offer to grow a row for the food bank at the end of the season. Share/spread the word.

Jamie from MP Gould’s Office: Emergency Community Support Fund was also launched this week for organizations who help vulnerable organizations: support-fund.html

Dan VanderLelie – Burlington Professional Firefighters Assn members are helping to deliver food to in-need families for Eid in partnership with Mosque.

Promoting the Friday Night Porch Clap more effectively:
May 20: No additional updates at this time.

Burlington Foundation / United Way funding and grants:
May 20 Update: Additional Funding Announced for both Burlington Foundation as well as United Way Halton & Hamilton.
Tyler Moon – $2.4M available July 31 so apply via United Way, rolling intake for Halton & Hamilton – website has guide, criteria and applications.

As per a press release shared by Colleen Mulholland, Burlington Foundation received $336,450 and starting on May 19 will begin accepting applications for funding from qualified donees. Grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including to cover staffing or resource needs, purchase assistance and more.

Funding will be issued on an ongoing basis through July 2020.

Create a directory of where residents can purchase consumer safety masks (not the same as medical grade PPEs procured by the federal and provincial governments and reserved for front line workers).

Directories are now available on Chamber/Team Burlington site + there is a provincial directory for businesses to use as of last meeting.

May 20 Update: Mayor conveyed the City’s approach to masks is wear them where you can’t maintain physical distancing at this time.
Jamie from MP Gould’s office – Use of non-medical face masks in community settings: eng.php and

How to make your own mask: health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention- risks/sew-no-sew-instructions-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html

Burlington Restaurant Association:
– Rent relief is a top priority, some rent forgiveness has happened but not broadly. The business revenue can never be recouped for the lost time being closed so deferrals really just become debt.

– Despite being open for takeout, liquor revenue is almost nil and used to account for a considerable part of revenue. Overhead continues to be high including liability insurance that has not been discounted at all despite significantly less clientele on premises.

– Credit card companies have offered some interest free respite – would help to have more from hydro, gas, etc.

Pop up on rant Coop BEST

Will pop up re-appear on Brant.

– Concerns persist about revenue going forward even once open due to limits expected on capacity.

– Additional patio/parking lot/pop-up capacity will be helpful especially in the north. Partner with landlords but also city zoning.

– Council resolution advocating for commercial rent relief will be brought forward on Monday with wording related to where landlord does not take advantage of the rent relief, tenant needs ability to bypass and access the support.

– Mayor / City Manager Commisso – we will support restaurants opening as soon as Province gives green light + assist with any additional measures at the city level that can help with capacity such as expanded patio space zoning, etc.

MPP Triantafilopoulos – cannot yet confirm timing for restaurants to open – so much depends on covid numbers in next 2-4 weeks. Rent support opens end of next week and Premier will watch uptake and if it is not adequate, further action will be taken.

– Anita Cassidy, BEDC – early June outreach to BRA to continue the conversation around support for restaurant industry both short and longer term.

– Carla Nell, Chamber – seeking specific data to support reform in addition to anecdotal evidence.

Hospital Capacity:
– While Covid19  has not surged, the rest of hospital activity has to be maintained at a certain level to support capacity should it be needed. While some people in the community with other health issues have been staying home rather than seeking treatment and care at the hospital, they are now presenting at emerg/acute care because they can’t maintain their health at home any longer.

– Surgeries that were delayed need to come back online soon and per provincial guidelines, hospital capacities need to be less than 85% for elective surgeries to be reintroduced.

– Looking to leaders to get the message out that it is still essential to follow provincial orders to minimize Covid19  spread so that everyone in our community can access healthcare for any issue, not just covid. Eric Vandewall

– There are concerns about the fall flu season and volume that may create.

Modular - full view

Built it a cost of $2 million and put up in very short order – the Pandemic Response Unit, a Field Hospital, was a responsible move – it might yet be needed.

– The Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) remains available with no plans to take it down at this time. Eric would like to see us get through the fall flu season before making a decision on whether it is no longer needed and that decision would be made in partnership with the Province.

There are those who have that 20-20 hindsight that ask if the unit was really necessary.  They would be the first to scream bloody murder if the hospital had found itself facing a surge of infected people that it could not accommodate.

The decision to purchase the PRU (field hospital) was a sound decision; Vanderwall deserves credit for doing what could be done to ensure there would be the hospital capacity if it was needed.

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1 comment to City manager keeps the wheels on when it comes to services; Mayor fills in the cracks on needed support.

  • Tom Muir

    In the language of planetary ecology, the virus is a newly emergent “hopeful monster” whose never before interaction with humans has caused what is known as an “extinction event”, with rippling out punctuating consequences, many irreversible. We have a new invisible organism competing with us for dominance and the space, and right now they are winning. They have closed the whole world down.

    It is not an extinction of human “life”, although it does thin the herd, but an extinction of a human “life-style”.

    How we lived before this event, which in effect caused the event, is never going to come back as it was. We haven’t even dealt with the first wave of infection, sickness, and death, and deep economic hole we are digging in only very partial compensation.

    I agree that many things can be done, and must be done, to reorganize, evolve and to adapt.The suggestions made to open spaces for restaurants to operate in a needed physical distance metric to survive the virus, and economically, is really revolutionary because we will be taking back spaces that have come to represent our city forms and processes.

    I think that the landlords, mortgage holders and assorted creditors are going to have to realize that their properties are now not usable at almost any economic price. I say they all need to share in the big hit that is a gathering storm and it really needs to be a we are all in it together agreement.

    Landlords cannot just expect that they are entitled to all of the rent due because as owners it is their responsibility to provide usable space and they cannot do this because the impacts of the virus are also impacting what their property can be used for.

    I think this will be generalized, as in ecology you can never only do one thing. The fundamentally changed use of space metric will have knock-on financial and economic impacts on the rental rate metric, what the market can bare, a large surplus of space that cannot clear at current rents because business cannot survive, equally large losses in asset values on markets, insolvency, bankruptcy, and so on and so on. We are seeing it now.

    This is not a prediction of just what new forms will be successful, but rather an expectation that there will be very large changes, and humans are very busily trying to figure out what that reorganization must be. Expectation is based on probability of various outcomes, and what I think I see is that the probability of the existing economic structure and system surviving is practically zero, so it’s a lousy bet to think it will.