Did Mayor Meed Ward miss a much needed opportunity or did the Minister of Municipal Affairs take a pass on meeting with her?

By Pepper Parr

November 13th, 2021



In the world of politics – getting the right people in the right room at the right time is an art.

Our Mayor may have missed some of those art classes.

Mayor Meed Ward invited all the members of the OBCM –  Ontario Big City Mayors to hold their October 15th meeting in Burlington at the Pearle Hotel and Spa.

The Gazette didn’t have a lot of information on how that meeting was put together. Neither the Mayor or her staff talk to us.   We’ve not been BFF for sometime. But that is another story that will unfold in the fullness of time.

All we knew was that there was a lot for the Mayor to brag about – the locale of the Pearle and its stunning grand stairway and the wide open space overlooking the lake and the Pier would be the envy of any Mayor.

Parts of the meeting were held via Zoom.

Mayor Meed Ward has needed a one-on-one conversation with Steve Clarke, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for some time.  The OBCM event was a perfect opportunity.

The Minister is reported to have said publicly on June 15th of this year that he was on for having the Urban Growth Boundary moved from the location that was agreed upon by the 2014-2018 City Council to something further north and closer to the Burlington GO station.

Meed Ward argued strenuously during the 2018 election that the boundary should have been much closer to the Burlington GO Station to begin with.

Once she was elected as Mayor the first thing she did was fire the City Manager and then began the process of revising the city’s Official Plan that had the Urban Growth Centre moved north.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clarke: Mayor hasn’t been able to connect with the Minister – maybe the Minister doesn’t want to talk to her.

One of the problems was that there were a number of significant developments that were banking on being part of the UGC – should that be moved they would lose part of their development argument.

All that was needed to make the City and Regional decisions real was the signature from Minister Clarke.

But that signature wasn’t forth coming.

The press conference at which the Minister is reported to have said he was on side for moving the boundary was seriously questioned by a member of the Ontario Land Tribunal who would not accept it into evidence.

One would have thought that a political operative of Meed Ward’s stature would have found a way to set up a one-on-one with Minister Clarke. The OBCM event taking place in Burlington with the group meeting at the spanking new Pearle Hotel and Spa (it is understood that some of the Mayors taking part stayed over at the Hotel) was a perfect place for a conversation.

Having Minister Clarke taking part in the meetings was a natural thing for him to do. He is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and all the biggie municipal Mayors were either attending personally or taking part via Zoom.

But Minister Steve Clarke did not make it to the city on October 15th.

One has to wonder – why a connection wasn’t made. Is Burlington too small for the Minster to pay attention to or is the Mayor just too small a fish for the Minister to make time for?

Or did the Minister realize that there were serious problems with his Ministry and the City and it was better to step around that one.  His political advisers would have advised him on that one.

The public is in the dark on just what is going to happen next.  Other than blowing off some steam the Mayor didn’t really say all that much. “This is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community, which completely disregards the vision of residents, council and staff for this area.

She might have been a little contrite and admit that she really blew this one.

She did add that “Council will be examining all of our options for a review of this OLT decision.

Transparency was a big word when she was a candidate – it didn’t make it into her bag of tricks when she was elected Mayor. How come?

Mayor Meed Ward speaks frequently about her experience as a journalist.  This would be a good time for her to make herself available to media and be both transparent and accountable and lay all the facts on the table.

Mayor Meed Ward gets in front of the Cogeco cameras as well as the CHCH cameras on a regular basis.  They are seen by the Mayor as friendly folk – not the kind of people who ask her tough questions.

Ahmed Hussen, Federal Minister for Housing and Diversity was able to attend Ontario Big City Mayors event.

Why not Minister Clarke?

Related news stories:

The Minister is reputed to have said something about the UGC but there doesn’t appear to be anything in writing

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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4 comments to Did Mayor Meed Ward miss a much needed opportunity or did the Minister of Municipal Affairs take a pass on meeting with her?

  • Margaret Riley

    No wonder you are not BFFs. Very one sided piece.

    Did the Gazette seek from the ministry details of Mr. Clark’s appointments for October 15th, which I believe to be public record? Maybe he had other commitments.

    Is there any reason why the Gazette does not take MPP McKenna to task for not having nailed down the UGC thing in writing? I seem to recall she took quite a bit of credit back in June.

    • Margaret MPP McKenna nailed down in writing in 2018 the moving of the UGC. We read it into the record of the January 2020 public meeting of Council. Contact her Office and we are sure they can give you a copy of her Newsletter and probably a copy of her article that we believe covered this in the Post. The No. 1 question neither Meed Ward nor the Ward 2 councillor are willing, or is it perhaps unable to respond to, right now is: . Why in January 2019 did Council pursue and introduce an ICBL rather than using the identified channels to immediately pursue moving the UGC asap?

      Until that question is answered those who understand what this council did are never going to accept the Mayor’s typical response of “disappointing and unfair and OLT is to blame”. The citizens of Burlington need to understand we have a master of spin team behind our mayor and, therefore the council she leads, who like many politicians always refuses to take responsibility for her actions of commission or ommission.

      • Margaret Riley

        I have noted in your many posts here that you often miss the point being made by another correspondent. That seems to be the case here too.

        It has been stated that one of the reasons that the Lakeshore/Pearl decision went against the City was that the OLT ignored the fact that Minister Clark had previously indicated his to revise the UGC boundaries per the 2021 OP was because the Minister still has not executed the change via his sign off. That is all factual.

        The Gazette and others have criticized the Mayor and others for not having publicly called upon Minister Clark to in fact sign off and make the boundary changes official and in effect. My question which you missed was why was the same amount of criticism not directed at MPP McKenna. You are right MPP McKenna was involved in getting the Minister to indicate that he would be in agreement to make the UGC changes. MPP McKenna to substantial credit for getting the Minister to indicate his support.

        The fact is, until Minister Clark signs off on the changes to the UGC boundaries reflected in the 2021 OP, the old boundaries remain in effect. Those old boundaries include the Lakeshor/Pearl development.

        So other than asking the Gazette and other anti MMW correspobdents why they have not equally criticized MPP McKenna, I ask you are you as blindingly supportive of MPP McKenna as you are blindingly critical of the Mayor?

        BTW I am not saying the Mayor should not be criticized for not having publicly called upon Minister Clark to stop lolly gagging and sign off. Just equal treatment.

        Editor’s note: I think you’re missing something here. While I don’t wish to suggest that MPP McKenna should have done more – and should be called out on just how little she did do – the issue is a city of Burlington issue and that lands in the lap of the Mayor. The Mayor did manage to get the MPP to come to Burlington and publicly make a statement supporting the move of the UGC. He just didn’t deliver – can’t blame Jane for that.

        Somewhere along the way a connection was missed. McKenna might prevail upon the Minister to do whatever he can do at this point and help her hold her seat.

  • The question that has been waiting for an answer from the Mayor and Lisa Kearns (her Ward) is why in January 2019 was the Council’s choice to go for an ICBL rather than to begin immediate work on moving the UGC. Moving the UGC was after all, the election promise that gave them the City’s decision making power in terms of ICBL or move the UGC. Particularly as our MPP was stating in 2018 that it could be moved and publicly documented how to do it
    Perhaps if Cogeco and CHCH are encouraged by enough people, they will begin to ask the tougher questions beginning with this one!