Did the Mayor improperly use information politicians had access to?

By Pepper Parr

August 31at, 2021



Interesting little stunt on the part of the Mayor’s office last week.

Parks4people, a community group that supports the idea of the Nelson quarry being turned into a public park when the open pit mine is mined out.

Nelson Aggregates is offering to turn over all the land in the map and see it turned into a 1000 acre public park

Nelson Aggregates, the operators of the quarry are seeking an extension to the property they are currently taking aggregate out of; part of their application includes giving the property to the city to operate as a park.

All this is some twenty years down the road and isn’t going to have much in the way of an impact on people living in the rural area for some time.

People who read the report put out by Parks4people had an option at the end where they could say they supported the idea.

What readers of the report did not know was their support was telegraphed to every member of city council, every member of Regional Council as well which included the name, email and street.

A number of readers took exception to their support being revealed.
Mayor Meed Ward’s office went one step further. A lengthy note from the Mayor’s office went like this:

From: Mailbox, Office of the Mayor <mayor@burlington.ca>
This is Shelby from the Mayor’s team. Thank you for your email concerning the Nelson Quarry extension application and your interest in parkland in Halton. Unfortunately, there has been quite a bit of misinformation spread regarding this application.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no park “application,” only an application to remove aggregate from the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve for many years to come.

The City of Burlington and the Region of Halton as well as the Niagara Escarpment Commission are reviewing the quarry application and will look at the full range of potential significant impacts to the community, the environment and quality of life for residents directly impacted by the proposed expansion. I would also like to note that under the Mining Act, Nelson Aggregate is under no obligation to ever close its quarry. The license, if given, is forever.

The information published on the website http://www.parks4burlington.com suggests there is a parkland shortage in the area. This is incorrect. Halton Region has well over 7,000 hectares of publicly owned park and open space available for residents and visitors to enjoy. This includes lands owned by each municipality, local Conservation Authority partners and the Region for parks and open space uses including:

• Over 1,130 hectares in Burlington
• Over 950 hectares in Halton Hills
• Over 3,100 hectares in Milton
• Over 1,850 hectares in Oakville

The amount of public park and open space lands in Halton meet or exceed the offerings in our neighbouring communities.

Parkland needs are identified and planned for by each of Halton’s local municipalities. We are planning for the future. For example, we are investing over $50 million into the Beachway Park in Burlington to add green space, improve amenities and remove the hydro lines from the beach.

Unfortunately, the website that you used to send your form letter to Mayor Meed Ward does not include all of this important information. Additionally, the City of Burlington has implemented a new procedure around filing petitions, to ensure they are formally put on the public record. Information on how to file a petition with the city, including members of council, is available here: Communicating with Burlington City Council. This page includes a range of ways to communicate with council and ensure your views are put on the public record. Please note that multiple form letters/emails sent to a city email address do not constitute a petition. You must compile the petition yourself, and then submit it once complete.

Thanks again for your interest. If you have specific questions on the proposed expansion to the Nelson Burlington Quarry and the review currently underway, please contact Joe Nethery coordinating the review with Halton Region at joe.nethery@halton.ca or (905) 825-6000 ext. 3035.

One resident responded saying:

“Thank you for your unexpected reply.

“I signed this petition as I believe a park of this magnitude will be need in the next few decades, particularly outside the urban areas. Coincidentally, that is the location and timing being proposed for this park.

“What I did not do when signing this petition is ask for the mayor’s opinion and I did not expect this obvious attempt to influence my thoughts and promote her personal position.

“What I suggest, and will be looking for, is a public statement as to why the mayor believes Burlington does not require more parks.”

The disturbing part of all this is: why does the Mayor feel she is permitted to sort of hijack an opinion from a resident and then attempt to influence there thinking.

The Nelson Aggregate application is now before Joint Administrative Review Tribunal that has set out a lengthy and exhaustive review of the application.

That Joint Administrative Tribunal will report in the fullness of time. Then the politicians can comment.

There is little doubt in the minds of most people who can read that there is going to be a huge increase in the population of the Region during the next two decades and park space, which is overcrowded in several places now, will only get worse.

The Adi Group development in Aldershot will house thousands of people.

The Skyway development in the east end of the city will include seven towers.

Three recent developments point to the direction Burlington population growth is going.

What people did not know when they offered their support was that the Region and Burlington city council got both the name, email address and street address of those who supported.
The People4parks  apparently wanted the politicians to know they had support.

An awkward situation all around.

More than awkward was Mayor Meed Ward’s taking advantage of the information and attempting to use that information to influence people.

Meed Ward has done this sort of thing in the past. One of a number of lessons she has not yet learned.

Might be a case for the Ombudsman to look into.


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7 comments to Did the Mayor improperly use information politicians had access to?

  • Mark Visser

    The 4Parks website is not clear on what will be done with your information once you enter it in that form. It says “Will you sign?” above the form, and the button to press says “Add your Signature”. This, to me, implies adding your name to a petition, not sending out a form letter.

    To be entirely honest, after reading the reply from the Mayors office, and looking at the 4Parks website again, it becomes fairly clear (to me at least) that the 4Parks site (& marketing campaign to go along with it) is backed by Nelson Quarry or another company that has a vested interest in ensuring this expansion goes ahead.

    Also, the reply from the Mayor’s office is quite fair – they include instructions on how to properly submit comments on this topic. If they wanted to impart a bias, they could have easily just neglected to mention that part.

  • David Barker

    The Mayor has done nothing wrong or inappropriate. She has, as she should, responded to an email received from a constituent.

    Sadly this is another example of the publisher/editor MMW bashing without any foundation for it.

  • Rob n

    Holy cow. A little Stasi methodology at work here.

    Unexpected from the Mayor, in a negative way.

  • Gloria Reid

    The parks4halton website request is quite clearly seeking residents to “Ask Regional Council for More Park Space” and their request is clearly addressed “Dear Regional Council”. All of Burlington Council, including the Mayor are members of Regional Council. Had I completed the request I would have understood the request was going to them and would hope Council members with an interest in regional parks space and the quarry expansion to provide me with a response. Pretty standard in web-based “petitions”. Not quite sure what your point is on this one Pepper.

  • Cathy

    The criticism of the mayor is misplaced.

    Within minutes of signing up on the Parks4Halton.com, I received a reply from the Mayor’s office.

    People4Parks is instantly forwarding our names without our permission. They even have the gall to say on the sign-up form that “Your information is Safe with us”.

    They are clearly violating the federal CASL anti-spam legislation. They do not have consent to share our names; they do not identify themselves; and they do not provide an unsubscribe mechanism.

    I have no idea what was sent in my name to the mayor’s office. Clearly, the mayor’s office created the auto-responder email to handle the flood of emails.

    Their website is sketchy. No where can we find who is behind it.

    This is not a community group. This is a front for someone or something, illegally gathering and distributing personal information.

    The Gazette needs to focus on the real bad actors. It’s not the mayor’s office.

    • Agree 100% unfortunately the Gazeete has chosen nog to publish our agreement, although confirming receiving.

      Editor’s note: Spelling errors aside – this “agreement” is a Marsden issue – we leave it up to them to beat their own drum

  • Jim Thomson

    The resident didn’t sign a petition, they sent a form letter by email to the Mayors office.

    I don’t have a great opinion of the Mayor, but surely her office is permitted to respond to any email it receives.

    Any fault here is with the Parks4people for not being clear about what a resident was doing when they pushed the send button.

    The punch line is that just above the send button is the note

    “Your Information is Safe With us!”