Meed Ward holds feet of Councillors Lancaster and Dennison to the flames. Wanted them to pay part of Car Free Sunday event.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Marc h 28, 2013  It was almost sweet. The Community Services Committee was meeting to discuss a report on the upgrades being made to Lowville Park and talk about the revenue problems at Tyandaga Golf Club where a surplus of $75,000 just wasn’t good enough for Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison.  On the agenda as well was a discussion about the Cultural Action Plan that is being worked up and on which we should see something more concrete later in the year.

What wasn’t on the agenda was a Memo from Councillors Dennison, Sharman and Lancaster who wanted funding for a pet project they thought had been included in the budget but was not.

Last year the city held two “car free Sunday event; one on Appleby Line and the other on Brant Street.  Appleby Line was a limited success worth doing a again.  Brant Street was not worth the effort, the time or the cost.

Councillors Sharman and Dennison led the charge last year with the Mayor along for the ride.  There were a number of photo ops as well.  Councillor Lancaster wanted to get in on the game this year but they discovered that the car free Sunday was not in the budget much to their surprise.

Traffic barriers in place on Lakeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

So they began to see if they could make it happen on their own and soon realized that they would need funding from the city – to the tune of $10,000 for two events – one that would take place on Appleby Line Sunday June 9th and the other on Palladium Way in the Alton Community June 23rd.

No problem spending a bundle on Car Free Sundays last year – but 2013 was going to be different. Councillor Meed Ward wanted Council members to pony up some of the cost from their expense accounts. Didn’t happen – but she did try.

These three Musketeers, Councillors Sharman, Lancaster and Dennison, then asked their fellow Council members to join them in voting to “Authorize the Director of Finance to transfer up to $10,000 from the Tax Stabilization Fund to an account in support of Car Free Sunday.

Not so fast piped in Councillor Taylor.  You can use the Tax Stabilization Fund for a one time expenditure.  This is your second kick at the can – can’t use that fund.

The Appleby Line Car Free Sunday was better attended than the one on Brant Street several weeks later – but neither event was a huge success. That wasn’t going to stop Councillors Sharman, Dennison and now Lancaster from giving it another go.

Ooops said the three Musketeers.   Councillor Meed Ward wasn’t part of this initiative but did say she would support the effort if each of the Council members used some of the $9000 expense account to support the effort.  Lancaster didn’t like that idea but did say she would use $500 of her expense money and might go up to $1000 if she had to.  Meed Ward then turned to Councillor Dennison to see what he was prepared to put up.  Dennison wanted none of that and he bobbed and weaved and did everything he could not to answer the question.

Councillor Craven, who was also not involved sat there smirking for a while and then pointed out that there was an event in Aldershot that was getting his community into this type of thing incrementally.  There was going to be a “Jane’s Walk in Aldershot May 5th and  he would support the motion if they would add in $500 for the Aldershot event.  That would bring Craven on board and give the group the four votes they needed.

Because this was a sort of Parks and Recreation project members of Council asked Parks and Recreation director Chris Glenn if he could fund this.  Nope – I’m broke was the gist of Glenn’s answer.  And besides he added – this is more of a Transportation matter.  The “buck” was being moved from department to department.

Councillor Taylor thought he had a solution. “You must have more than 10,000 reserve funds – just take $1 from each and pay for this that way.

Still no takers.

General manager Kim Phillips saved the day for the three Council members who wanted to promote a pet project and have the city pay for it. She found $10,000 that wasn’t being used.

General Manager Kim Phillips did observe that the Executive Budget Committee noticed Councillor initiated events were ending up as projects that “you expect us to take on.”

Phillips, always ready to be helpful, suggested there was some money in the Strategic Plan Implementation Fund that wasn’t spoken for – would that help.  Now getting a Car Free Sunday event defined as part of implementing the Strategic Plan is a stretch – but they did find a way to stretch this one by saying that it would contribute to Vibrant Communities which is one of the Strategic Plan pillars.

But before they got to that point in the discussion, Meed Ward pointed out that when there was a role for the city in Councillor driven events, some of the funding could come from the individual council member’s expense account and she went back after Councillor  Dennison and asked again how much of his expense money was he prepared to put into the project.  She almost had him.

But then he Mayor said: “We have much bigger fish to fry this evening” and Dennison added “let staff find the money”.

Blair Lancaster moved the motion – they had the four votes they needed – and so there will be two car free Sundays in the city – one June 9th and the other June 23rd.

Now you know how Burlington works. Meed Ward did hold their feet to the flames.


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4 comments to Meed Ward holds feet of Councillors Lancaster and Dennison to the flames. Wanted them to pay part of Car Free Sunday event.

  • Rob Narejko

    Chris: +1

    Summer Streets is totally aligned with many of the strategic initiatives of the City. Getting people out of their cars, meeting their neighbours, getting a bit of exercise and fun is great.

    The success of last year’s events: Appleby was very well attended. Brant St took place after 5 days or so of +35 degree weather. It was hot.

  • Chris Ariens

    God forbid we actually encourage people in this city to get out of their cars for one Sunday afternoon and have some fun. The importance of these events in other communities that have them cannot be overlooked.

    Then again, some places celebrate cycling and walking instead of denigrating the most efficient methods of transportation available. Madison WI for example, gets 20,000 at their event, but they’ve been at it for 5 years. Here in Burlington it seems that the minority of councillors (Taylor, Sharman, MeedWard) prefer to pander to Ford Nation. We’ll talk about encouraging active transportation as a “strategic priority” and then when it comes time to vote, we see the opposite.

  • Penny Hersh

    The next election cannot come soon enough….I agree with Mr. Douglas….most of the councillors are continually out of touch. I am glad to be represented by Marianne Meed-Ward. $10,000.00 taxpayer dollars for a “waste of time” event. So important to 2 councillors, but not important enough to dig into their own expense money to help fund it. Guess it can’t be that important after all. Actions speak louder than words.

  • James Douglas

    Meed Ward continues to impress despite being new and what I would have assumed to be inexperienced. Lancaster seems continually out of touch.