City recognizes the contribution made by co-chair of the Shape Burlington report.

By Pepper Parr

It was an emotional event. City Council decided to recognize the community contribution made by John Boich, co-chair of the Shape Burlington report.

Boich’s  1956 Shredded Wheat football card.

Boich’s 1956 Shredded Wheat football card.

John Boich, who spent most of his career in the field of education after a couple of years playing football for the Ottawa Rough Riders, also happens to have a football card that was sold recently on eBay.  John was immensely amused by that sale.

He covered a lot of ground in a life that has been filled with activity and citizen engagement.  The issue with perhaps the highest profile is of course the Shape Burlington report,  produced by a committee that was co-chaired by John and former Burlington mayor Walter Mulkewich.  That report is still reverberating around city hall where, later this month, staff will produce their response to the document that has the potential to re-shape the way citizens interact with their elected officials and the staff hired to look after the city on their behalf.

Boich at a political event – doing what he does so very well.
Boich at a political event –
doing what he does so very well.

John has always been an intervener.  On the football field, within educational organizations, at the community level and in his relationships with those who were not as fortunate as he has been, John has been generous.

He is a large man and a large personality and there is never any doubt that he is in the room.  His involvement with local politics is close to legendary and if there was a shift in the thinking of a political party John had no problem moving his political allegiance.

But he never shifted away from the interests of the community and this evening the city he loves and cherishes met in a formal city council session and recognized the contribution he has made to the city of Burlington.

John is not well.  He has pancreatic cancer and faces this extremely difficult stage in life with the courage and determination he has faced most of his challenges.

His indomitable spirit got him to City Hall where he sat in a front row with Arlene, his wife of 30 years and received from the Mayor on behalf of the City, a Medal of Merit. Long, sustained applause that no one wanted to hear end followed the prtesentation.  The Council chamber had almost as many people in it as there were at the Inaugural session.  After the presentation of the certificate every member of Council came forward to congratulate John Boich and wish him their very best.

The only ones not in attendance were John’s  three Shiatsu  dogs, Buster, Molly and Winston. The event was televised live on Cogeco Cable.  Arlene Miller said a few words about the many, many meetings that took place in her dining room and she closed with the comment that rang true for every one in the chamber:  “John was doing what he loved”.


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4 comments to City recognizes the contribution made by co-chair of the Shape Burlington report.

  • Ken Woodruff

    Great article on one of Burlington’s hardest working and most modest citizens. John seems to know everyone working to better Burlington and I bet he helped most of them too! He is a great person and I agree with Marianne – the city is much better today because of his “hidden help”.

  • Ken Colombo

    I have not had the privilege of meeting Mr. Boich. I do wish to extend my highest unconditional praise for his TEAM EFFORTS on behalf of the citizens of Burlington.

    When people of goodwill and patience dedicate themselves to solving a governance problem, it is important they provide workable solutions. In this situation, their concerns and desire for change were reciprocated by a Council which was willing to listen and accommodate their concerns. I also recognize the exchange of ideas and resultant interchange can be difficult at times. Salute, Mr. Boich, and my compliments to other team members and Councillors.

    The core issue of this fine lesson in civics, had to be the following statement;

    Service quality and process

    “Many citizens thought that the quality of service, response time and staff attitude has declined. Interestingly, several members of Council agreed. Citizens’ experience with City Hall is a major determinant in creating trust in municipal government and the democratic process. Citizens have a right to be well treated, as customers and as citizens. The City does not appear to have a clear quality service policy, although one is in early stages of development.”


    Citizen mistrust of city hall ‘toxic’
    BURLINGTON (Apr 20, 2010)
    Burlingtonians believe they can’t fight city hall.–citizen-mistrust-of-city-hall-toxic

    “Pepper Parr, 3152 Palmer Drive, Burlington, commented that the report “Creating an Engaged Community” is a good solid report but contains a lot of the content is similar to a report that was completed in 1997. Parr indicated that the Strategic Plan is not written for the average person and noted that the initiatives fail as there is no accountability or benchmarks to measure that things are being accomplished. Parr stated the importance of communication and noted how the Internet has changed the way we communicate and the way information is distributed.”

    Shape report irks Burlington councillors
    THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR—Ken Peters Tuesday May 4 2010–shape-report-irks-burlington-councillors

    “Councillor Rick Craven stopped just short of asking for committee co-chairperson John Boich to apologize for earlier suggesting in an interview with The Spectator that citizen mistrust of city hall was a “toxicity” that must be addressed.

    Boich, who spoke about the report with co-chairperson Walter Mulkewich yesterday, said both Mayor Cam Jackson and Mulkewich suggested he apologize for the comment.

    “There are people who feel I should not have made that statement,” Boich said. “An apology now would be hollow. I made the statement and I stand behind it. I did use the word ‘toxic’ and ‘toxicity.’
    He added he believes the relationship with the public could be poisoned if council fails to address the communication problems.”

  • Ken Edwards

    Excellent article that you wrote Pepper. I have known John for just a short period working with him on the Shape Burlington and Shaping Burlington committees and have found him to be a tremendous guide and mentor, and a resource to me. It is my pleasure to have gotten to know him.

  • Thanks for this tribute to our friend and community asset John Boich. Burlington would not be what it is today without his considerable influence.