Councillor Sharman finds being elected means squat during an emergency.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020



In 2014 Paul Sharman, ward 5 councillor found himself dealing with people whose homes had been heavily damaged during the flood that August.

Sharman finds himself in much the same situation and will tell you that “We need to recognize that Covid-19 is quite different from what we were dealing with in 2014 because it is pre-emptive, not reactive.

Sharman hand up

Councillor Paul Sharman: this is not an emergency that requires the city to stop functioning,

“I appreciate that an emergency has been declared and I know that protocols are being followed. However, this is not an emergency that requires the city to stop functioning, there are no armies in the street, no service outages, no starving crowds, no panic, nothing that manifests as a physical impediment to many people continuing to live their lives with optimism. Indeed, we need the economy to keep working and for people to continue to function as well as possible.

“In fact, technology permits us to conduct business, pretty much as usual on many core activities. A you may know, I ran a business with clients around the world with a bunch of staff members and colleagues. All of us worked from home. We would meet in person from time to time, but on-line technology makes that unnecessary now.

“The notion of an emergency in the case of Covid-19 is different from previous such emergencies in the sense that it is in anticipation of a worsening situation. Thank goodness governments took the steps they did. No complaints from me. Having said that, it seems probable that until widely available vaccination and significant levels of community immunity has been built up through natural transmission and recovery from Covid-19, it isn’t going away.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable.

“Lets hope three months is enough. Possibly not, given what is happening in the USA.

“If it does extend for many months, governments at every level might consider operating as always intended but as a modified continuum by adapting to the new context rather than continue as an emergency per se. Perhaps with a modification/adaptation of the emergency process to take advantage of available benefits.

“I understand that the Region and Province have not yet adopted a three month planning horizon. This means that Burlington is ahead of the curve, which I applaud. Further, because there are plenty of risks, plans are always wrong by definition. We need to recognize that planning is an inexact art that is only as good as its assumptions. Plans for rapidly changing times obviously need to be modified and adapt in an agile fashion.

Sharman folded

Emergency Coordinating Group meetings are not held in public nor with members of Council listening in.

“As a business person and as a consultant I have worked through quite a number of significant organization design activities (downsizing, ongoing business crisis are two examples), some quite aggressive. In all cases, leading practice was to begin with a strategic assessment of conditions, assumptions and goals for the long term, recognizing that short- and medium-term circumstances would arise that require evolving tactics and choices.

I believe the City of Burlington has something like that in mind. As a Councillor, I am waiting to find out, because ECG (Emergency Coordinating Group) meetings are not held in public nor with members of Council listening in.”

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5 comments to Councillor Sharman finds being elected means squat during an emergency.

  • Greg

    I understand that the City of not getting user fees, and is deferring taxes (cash problem), but the City is also doing very little compared to what is normally does. There should be huge savings.

    Have we considered layoffs of City staff in programs that are mothballed? Why should layoffs, wage reductions, forced vacation usage only be for the private sector? The City should be looking for significant savings on their operating expenses (hint, check salaries) to offset whatever increased costs they have and put some money in the bank.

  • Joe Pyche

    I have full confidence that councillor Sharman will be a strong advocate for members of Burlington town Council to be involved in the final decisions made by the Emergency Coordinating Group.Time for an action plan now.

  • Lynn Crosby

    I would say the ever-changing situation with respect to the COVID virus requires both pre-emptive and reactive response, actually. In any event, we in Burlington, and the World, have never seen anything like this and there is really nothing with which it is comparable. The Emergency Control Group was approved by council back in the summer with the emergency response plan.

    Today Toronto Mayor John Tory did the same thing and closed and cancelled all Toronto city events, permits, etc., also though June 30, and this was also done without going to council. This is the very definition of an emergency: you act fast, based on the advice of the relevant experts, using the tools that you have at your disposal and the processes for emergency planning that you have in place. We are in a state of emergency in our city, region and province, and have been for almost three weeks and likely will be for some time.

    Really strange article which reads to me like one councillor has his knickers in a knot because he didn’t receive a phone call despite having “worked through quite a number of significant organization design activities, some quite aggressive” at his other job. I’m pretty sure none of them involved a world-wide growing pandemic.

  • Without Councillors, full participation in Emergency decision making never mind listening in Burlington has evolved into a dictatorship. That was never the intention of the provincial and federal government.

  • Steve Holman

    With no user fees, deferred taxes and penalties, and unusual spending, can you imagine the cash burn at city hall? Surely there is a limit at which we run out of money. When you extend this to the region, province and federal levels you get a debt explosion of massive proportions. We may flatten the curve, which could prolong this to the fall, and claim success against the virus, only to be visited by an unprecedented economic collapse shortly after. The craziness is just beginning.