Dennison says no to Cadillac class sidewalk in parks but runs up a biggy biggy legal bill for the taxpayers to pick up

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 23, 2015


Perhaps it was an attempt to make up for the expense the city is incurring during the Ontario Municipal Board hearing taking place now at which Councillor Jack Dennison is asking that a Committee of Adjustment decision be overturned.

Dennison-home-Lakeshore - small version

Councillor Jack Dennison wants to sever this Lakeshore property.

Dennison wants to sever a part of his Lakeshore Road property and the Committee of Adjustment said no.

Dennison is appealing that decision at considerable cost to the city.

Last evening he spent more time than necessary arguing that concrete does not have to be used on pathways being created for the three Windows on the Lake that are being created to give the public some access to the old Water Street road allowance.

Too expensive said the Councillor – this is the Cadillac of pathways which are not needed.

Dennison - Committee-of-Adjusatment-May-2013-1024x501

This Committee of Adjustment said no. Dennison is appealing their decision.

The rest of Council, with the exception of Councillor Craven who sided with Dennison (we don’t know what Councillor Sharman thinks – he didn’t make it to the council meeting) took the position that concrete paths were required at these locations but not necessarily at all park locations and asked the city staff to come back with a criteria they would use to determine whether asphalt or stone screenings or wood chips should be used on park pathways.

Councillor Dennison made the same argument for asphalt at the Standing Committee last week.


Councillor Dennison is never one to shy away from controversial decisions – likes getting right into the middle of an issue. He is certainly in the middle of one now.

Earlier on Monday Council was involved in a Strategic Plan meeting which Councillor Dennison missed – he was arguing his appeal of the Committee of Adjustment decision not to permit the property severance

Councillor Dennison was missing in action for this meeting as well.

Councillor Meed Ward involved in part of the Strategic Plan meeting and managed to attend Council. She has advised her constituents that she is going to be on limited duty for awhile as she recovers from the concussion she experienced in an automobile accident.

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10 comments to Dennison says no to Cadillac class sidewalk in parks but runs up a biggy biggy legal bill for the taxpayers to pick up

  • Roger tipple

    Wow, “insider trading”? , just a bit of overkill. I had no idea that the Councillor was disliked so actively by so many. The original question was about the silly llink between his position on sidewalks and his appeal to the OMB,. We seem to have gone pontification mad from there. Quite an education about politics in this city. BTW I wouldn’t know the Councillor if I sat next to him on a bus, for those who were wondering.

  • Nick Hrebicek

    Mr. Tipple, you’ve clearly missed the point. No one is suggesting for a moment that public officials don’t have the same legal rights as any other citizen. Rather, there is a duty and standard of care that, for bona fide reasons, must be different. Given such individuals’ access to information, ability to use their positions to exploit unfair advantages and personal gain(s) and opportunity to act outside the interest of their constituents, additional control structures need to be in place.

    There should be no epiphany here. Even administrators at banks and investment firms must sign personal non-trading agreements so there isn’t even the slightest perception of personal trading using inside information. This is conflict of interest 101, and City of Burlington should be on top of it.

    • Peter Rusin

      If there was ‘insider trading’, the severance would have already been approved at city hall and/or at committee. All of the information is public, there is no insider trading (a ridiculous analogy), there are no secrets, and the man is exercising his rights in a fully open and transparent manner at an attendance before the OMB, a public hearing to which he is fully entitled.

  • Nick Hrebicek

    Yes, to add to the editor’s earlier post, this is very much a matter of professional ethics as it applies to a duly-elected government official, who’s mandate and governing code of conduct would normally prohibit such behaviour almost anywhere else in the developed world.

    What’s more, the Councillor’s actions bring into question his objectivity when representing and advising constituents in related matters. For example, each time a builder is advocating for further densification in South Burlington against the wishes of existing and long-time residents, who is the Councillor really supporting? Clearly, it would now appear that he has a personal / vested interest towards the developer. Without precedence, it would be quite difficult for the Councillor to make the case to subdivide his own small lot.

    Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again. Burlington is great in so many ways, but City Hall can be an incestuous kangaroo court where sound governance practices are nothing more than checking a box to satisfy audit requirements.

  • Roger tipple

    A quick response is often a hint at a nerve that has been hit. I didn’t realize that elected officials gave up basic rights when they were elected, thanks for clarifying that, the other Councillors must be concerned. Based on your comments the real reason behind all this is starting to surface. I think both Judges and police officers retain the right to appeal, maybe not so for City of Burlington Councillor’s?

    Editor’s note: Judges and police officers do have the right to appeal decision. Judges step away from the bench and do not hear cases; police officers are put on administrative duty. A community gets to decide the values it wants to governed by – if the majority think Dennison is within his rights – and they obviously do – the re-elected him – then that is how that community will be seen. Would you raise your children to behave this way were they to decide to become public servants?

  • Nick Hrebicek

    Is it not a conflict-of-interest for a Councillor to be using City Hall and its resources in advocating for certain decisions and changes to regulations in pursuit of his own agenda (for personal monetary gain)? Where’s the internal governance City of Burlington?

  • tenni

    A question comes to my mind.

    Who did Councillor Dennison ask to overturn the Committee of Adjustment’s decision? (Was it council or the Committee of Adjustments?)

    Editor’s note:
    Dennison appealed a decision of the Committee of Adjustment to the Ontario Municipal Board

  • Roger tipple

    Funny, I always assumed that Councillors have the same rights as all property owners to appeal a decision to the OMB should they feel it is necessary to protect their interests. Is the writer trying to suggest otherwise or that his actions are inappropriate given his position?
    The link between the appeal and his position on sidewalks is just silly and can’t be the real reason for the article.
    Editor’s note:
    Actually your position is not quite correct. Judges are held to a higher standard; police officers are held to a high standard and Council members are held to a higher standard. Part of the job of being a member of council is to uphold the bylaws that are in place. If you can’t defend those bylaws for everyone – then that person doesn’t have what it takes to be a member of a city council. If the person says the rules apply to others but not to that person – then there is a conflict.

    What disturbs me personally is that the good people of Roseland are smart enough to know the difference yet they re-elected the council member.

    There are standards and if you don’t feel they need to be upheld – then dear God forgive them – for they know not what they do.

    • Peter Rusin

      The editor’s comments are actually not quite correct.

      Part of the bylaw process is the committee of adjustment and the rights to appeal at the OMB. Dennison is a private property owner and a citizen of this city. This is a property rights issue, and Dennison has rights equal to everyone else that owns property in this city. The Bylaw is subject to adjustment, so is the Official Plan. A conflict would exist if he were to approve his severance independent of the process to which he is entitled.

      It would be reasonable to grant Dennison the severance as applied for. The parcel fabric along Lakeshore justifies his application.

  • Zaffi

    Sorry Pepper. You mentioned twice that Dennison missed the meeting. Perhaps you meant to refer to a second absentee.