Environmentalists look to possible city council candidate to argue their case: No to the marina breakwater and save those swans.

November 5, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  BurlingtonGreen seems to be upping their game.  They have an Annual General Meeting later this month – November 21st – starts at 6:15.   Central Library.  One word to describe these things – BORING.

But they have upped the game and are bringing in a highly rated speaker: broadcast journalist Donna Tranquada of CBC fame. Tranquada will share the inspiring story of a successful grassroots campaign that stopped a proposed mega quarry northwest of Toronto. The Food and Water First organization sprung from this citizens’ movement and is dedicated to protecting Class 1 farmland and source water regions across the province.

BurlingtonGreen represents a community that has no reason to be shy about its successes in stopping developments that they believe are harmful to the community.  The win at a Tribunal level hearing that stopped the addition to the existing Nelson Quarry in North Burlington was a major environmental win.  Tranquada should know that she is partying with champions.

Burlington Green delegated at a city council meeting Monday evening arguing that the city should not, at this point at least, put any money into any steps that will advance the construction of a barrier that will make LaSalle Park Marina a Safe Harbour.

LaSalle Park Marine Association (LPMA) Executive Director John Birch has been beavering away to have the marina upgraded with a wave barrier that is needed to prevent damage to boats during rough weather.

Trumpeter swan – magnificent creatures that many think need the marina space at LaSalle Park to survive the winters. Nonsense according the Marina Association.

The marina maintains they are close to being un-insurable given the number of claims their members have had to make.  Upgrading the harbour to give it the wave barrier it maintains it needs was coming along just fine – until Beverly Kingdon took on the fight to save what she believes is the only place the Trumpeter Swans can winter.  The swans were very close to extinction at one point.

Without going into all the details – and there are pages of them, Kingdon believes that the creation of a wave barrier will do serious harm to the trumpeter swan habitat.  Not so maintains the LPMA.

BurlingtonGreen has jumped into the fray and Michael Jones, past president of the Save our Waterfront Committee that Councillor Meed Ward used to propel herself into office has involved himself.  Jones, who is also a sailor – he sails out of the Royal Hamilton Club, delegated at a Standing Committee and asked that the city not put any money into the wave barrier until a Part Two Environmental Assessment that has been asked for is completed.

The marina types argue that the Minister of the Environment hasn`t agreed to calling for a Part Two Environmental Assessment and delays in having the design work done will delay the project.

What we have is a difference of opinion between a significant environmental organization and a marine association – these things happen all the time.

What was different and very significant was the person who spoke for Burlington Green at the city council meeting.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren, who politically came out of nowhere, when she took the leadership of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that brought he city into the Burlington Executive Airpark dispute that has the city fighting a significant course case to determine just who determines where landfill can be dumped.

Warren has proven to be a very able communicator.  She brings energy and a focus to the work she did for the Coalition. The politicians loved listening to her – she has had them close to eating out of her hands at both the Regional and municipal level.

So there she was Monday evening delegating to city council to save the habitat for the trumpeter swan and explained that she was asked to bring “fresh eyes”  to the issue.

Warren brings far more than “fresh eyes”.  BG has two very able spokespeople in Jones and their Executive Director Amy Schnurr.  Would it be unreasonable to suggest that Warren is not so much “fresh eyes”  but a bigger calibre of gun that the swan people feel they need to win this battle?

Or are we seeing the first step into the political arena for Warren who has been asked by a number of people to take on Councillor Lancaster in Ward 6?  Was Lancaster watching the person she might be running against and asking herself – can I beat this woman?

Our political leaders come out of the community – we just may have seen a potential leader poke her head out just a little and tip her toe into the water.

Council didn’t buy the argument Warren put forward – they went for the Staff recommendation which was to Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to report back to Budget and Corporate Services Committee during the 2014 Capital Budget regarding 50% co-share funding for the construction level engineered design for the permanent wave break at the LaSalle Park Marina; and

Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to continue to support the LaSalle Park Marina Association in their efforts to pursue federal and provincial funding

Those two directions were approved without a word of debate or discussion and no one asked for a recorded vote on the item.

The next opportunity for the environmentalists to de-rail the plans to build the wave break will be during budget deliberations.

If we see Ms Warren actively involved in that process assume you will see her name on a ballot come the October 2014 municipal election.  She would be a welcome addition the council we have in place now.

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7 comments to Environmentalists look to possible city council candidate to argue their case: No to the marina breakwater and save those swans.

  • Roger

    A wooden box would do better in representing Ward 6, Ms. Lancaster from a voter from a Ward 6 perspective – has been absent, ineffective and without merit – the worst councillor Ward 6 has ever had. If Ms. Warren want to run – she to worth a look

  • Frankie V. Kerr

    If Millington wishes to defend the current members of council, he can pay my share of the legal costs for the pier litigation, for starters.

    How can anyone state that all credit be granted to this council for the arbitrary ranking of this city; plugging your nose in response to that comment.

    Its the blend of all these “fringe elements” that help bring a depth of richness to the makeup of the citizen element that actually helps make this a high ranking city, not the clownsillors.

  • John Birch

    So many agenda, both apparent and hidden. Some wish to position this as a zero sum game: “it’s either the swans or the marina.” That is wholly a misrepresetation of the facts – there is no reason not to have both. The swans and marina operate at different times of the year. Those seasons do not overlap.

    It is high time to celebrate both the swans and the marina. A Safe Harbour will enhance both.

    LaSalle Park Marina is an Open Public Marina owned by the City of Burlington.

    The not for profit volunteer LaSalle Park Marina Association is the joint venture group that built, runs and maintains the marina under a JV with the City. Burlington wanted to own the marina when it was first conceived, and continues to want to own the marina.

    At its heart, the Safe Harbour proposal is about public safety at the city’s facility. The proposed project will bring with it opportunities to enhance habitat for fish and waterfowl.

    The construction level engineered design will quantify the habitat; project cost; and allow the various scientific modelings to be done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Ministry of Natural Resources.

    Every other community on Lake Ontario has a Safe Harbour, either man made; or natural; or both that the Federal and or Province have co funded together with those Cities and Towns.

    Why should Burlington not be entitled to a similar facility and consideration?

    It will be the boaters who end up paying for Burlington’s portion.

    The greater Burlington community and businesses will see ongoing benefit from having a proper Safe Harbour offshore of LaSalle, as has occurred with other communities.

    The proposed Safe Harbour is entirely offshore of LaSalle Park in deep water.

    Burlington is a waterfront community, boating is a part of a vibrant waterfront community.

    So too are the swans and all other creatures a vibrant part of the community – yes, Burlington can have it all.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    John Birch, LPMA President

  • Stacy Dykstra

    Tony your comment sidesteps democracy completely. In fact it sounds an awful lot like Goldring saying “keep everyone”.
    Democracy means being able to vote and expressing our choices freely. It doesnt mean leave it alone because one person thinks there is a great balance.
    I dont feel represented, so let me choose. In fact, most people I know have expressed mroe dissappointment in this council than the last.

  • I find it incredible that the LaSalle park marina Association wants Burlington councils support to seek funding from the Federal and Provincial government. Taking over a public park and expecting Canadian taxpayers to pay for their personal pleasure is outrageous. If this group wants a marina then buy some private land and build it out of your own pockets! Leave LaSalle intact for the non invasive use of the public, naturalists, walkers and photographers who use the park year round!

  • tony millington

    Lets keep Burlington at the top of best City’s list. These fringe elements are wasting so much time and energy. Our Council is a great balance lets support them instead of attacking them. They are what has made us one of the top City’s in Canada.

    • Concerned about Burlington

      Obviously you have not been watching and listening to what has been going on. This is not a balanced council. In fact – quite the opposite. Please do your homework!