How far into the public trough will candidates shove their snouts ? Using neighbourhood program funds to throw a party for the Mayor seem to be Ok

By Pepper Parr

July 24th, 2022



What would we do without attentive, sharp eyed readers who know the smell of dead fish when it gets near their nose ?

Here is what came in today:

Are you aware of this? This is from the Mayor’s Facebook page.

What a great way to campaign on the taxpayers dime and look like a hero at the same time.

Why are the taxpayers of Burlington funding private street/block/condo parties? So I can plan a party at my condo building and the city will help pay for it?

Our taxes are already high enough. Is she going to attend every one of these parties along with the sitting councillor for the area?

The timing of this seems very questionable. I discussed this with several people – they were all dumbfounded.

Would love for you to investigate and report on. I keep thinking that I must be missing something.

Why Mayor Med Ward thought this was acceptable – taking part in an election event that was paid for with tax payer dollars ?

It wasn’t just the Mayor that was sucking on the public “teat”; ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna was in their as well.

What the reader is referring to is a city program that was put in place to give neighbourhoods and opportunity to get to know one another better and to improve parks, playground, spruce up the ravines.

The deal was, the last time we looked at it was the people applying had to come up with half of the amount they wanted to spend.  That half could be “in kind”.  The purpose of the grant, in the past at least, had to be spelled out and reviewed by Parks and Recreation.

Sparks will fly on this one.

It was a good program.  I doubt very much that this version of the program as it played out was approved.

I expect bot the Director of Parks and Recreation, the people who run the program and the City Manager will be making phone calls on Monday.

The stunning part is that the Mayor was quite alright with seeing tax payers dollars used to pay for a campaign event.

You wonder sometimes just how far a politician will put their nose into the public trough?

The purpose of the Love My Neighbourhood program is set out pretty clearly on the city web site:

Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Glenn has this to say about the program: “Now more than ever, we need to build our sense of community and connections with our neighbours. This program is designed to help remove some barriers and build stronger connections among neighbours and communities by putting people together and having fun.”

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26 comments to How far into the public trough will candidates shove their snouts ? Using neighbourhood program funds to throw a party for the Mayor seem to be Ok

  • Fred Crockett

    Thank you Dave Turner! We no longer live in 1950’s Burlington – we live in a vibrant, progressive and enthusiastic community, that has no room for self-righteous whiners. I make these comments while in my 70’s…..

  • Fred Crockett

    So some people brought their own wine, some others brought their beers, but I am absolutely certain that insipid old ladies, chewing lemons, were expressly forbidden. Get over it folks, this is the real world. Your whining disgusts me.

  • Doug P

    I remember block parties were paid for by neighbours bringing eats and BYOB. We also paid for daycare or you did without so one spouse could stay home. Now we pay for electricity so you can drive your expensive EV for free including license. It’s a whole generation of someone else pays for me (entitled generation). So I guess we can’t blame the mayor for milking the system we allowed to happen. Although I am so tired of seeing her face every time a news article about Burlington appears, I will be voting for someone else.

  • Sharon

    1. MMW spends like a Liberal
    2. Isn’t there a law being broken drinking on public property?
    3. Does this behaviour even surprise us?

  • Cathy

    Hilarious report and commentary. Clearly, this small group of Gazette readers doesn’t have much to do but get indignant over contrived improprieties.

    The writer confuses the Community Matching fund with the Love My Neighbourhood fund. Organized by neighbours who hosted an event using funds from an official City of Burlington program. That municipal politicians showed up at the neighbourhood event is irrelevant; likely, they were invited by the organizers.

    The Gazette editor has a group of keyboard warriors he can tune up very easily with the flimsiest of facts.

    If this manufactured issue is the biggest thing facing Burlington, then clearly our community is in great shape.

    Editor’s note: Help us with our confusion Cathy – We made no mention of the Community Matching fund. What you have done, which is typical for people who don’t want to look at the facts – they deflect and attempt to confuse.

    The rules in place are pretty clear – the drinking at a city sponsored event was just plain dumb on the part of the Mayor and Councillor Bentivegna. They knew, or should have known – the approved the program, voted for the spending.

    The two were so eager to be seen and then photographed that they forget to remind the people holding the event that booze was off limits.

    We don’t know why these two don’t just fess up, admit it was a mistake, a minor one at that. But instead they go mute. How many other things that matter to the people who pay the taxes do these two go mute on?

    • Dave Turner

      So well said, Cathy!

      Tabloid journalism!

      Why seek out the facts before writing a story which might end up as a non-story, much to the upset of the Gazette editor and his keyboard warriors.

    • Cathy there have been too many sacrifices to win the right to a democratic election rather than have a dictatorship. How candidates, and particularly incumbent candidates get there message across when they clearly have an advantage in any election in terms of name recognition and if there is any help from taxpayers dollars is a very important integrity issue. A read of George Cuff’s book “LEADING” The Real Value of a Mayor and Council may bring some understanding of why such things as using a taxpayer funded event as a photo op after filing a nomination paper as incumbent mayor or councllor will be seen as a problem. The Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of our city and must always take the campaign path of integrity to retain the trust of the families and businesses of Burlington.

    • Kathy Jones

      The first question we should all be asking is “why is a street party in an affluent neighbourhood being subsidized with taxpayer’s money? Clearly the mayor’s presence at a party (which has been subsidized by the City) during an election period, represents a conflict of interest. Just think about it for a minute, there is nothing stopping this from happening all over the city.

      • Dave Turner

        So, you advocate means testing for eligibility. Huh ! Are you ok with means testing for city services? If you live in an affluent area maybe you must pay more than those in not so affluent areas for community services.

        Are you saying any candidate should not attend community city subsidized events like Ribfest. One needs to segregate what is a political electioneering activity and what is a councilor’s normal community activity. Councilors are still councilors until November. Yes, in some ways it is an advantage for the Councilor, but chest la vie.

        • Dave there is a huge difference between a subsidized event such as Ribfest where everyone is free to attend and it is well advertised and a subsidized private community party that is by invitation only giving the perception that it is being used as a campaign event. All candidates, but especially the Mayor and a Councillor need to be more aware of the integrity issues in using city subsidized private community events to promote their candidacy.

      • John Volk

        A councillor in Lincoln township was docked 1 months pay and suspended for recieving free food at the truckers protest in Ottawa. He attended as a trucker bussiness owner and not as a councillor. Where is the equity everyone wants? Maybe only for their projects?

  • Jim Young

    My question is where is the city clerk’s office on this? They have tge legal responsibility for the fair and transparent conductvof municipal elections. In previous elections, rules for candidate propriety and conduct have always been strictly enforced, sometimes to the point of silliness (remember bumper stickergate?) During elections City Advisories are suspended to avoid any appearance incubent advantage. Why was this very obvious incumbent advantage allowed to slip through?

    • Jim, they are taking up their time asking a mayoral candidate for an explanation of why they want a copy of the current Procedure By-law and informing them remembers you are not to use city consumables in your election campaign!!! We kid you not.

  • Dave Turner

    First off understand please I’m not saying what has taken place is either right or wrong. I do not think there are enough facts known to make that call.

    I guess the editor and those who have commented here so far do not need to keep gym memberships because they stay fit by jumping to conclusions in quick time. LOL

    Seriously though I’m just wondering if the Gazette or the resident that brought this to the Gazette’s attention have bothered to speak to the party organizers to get information as to:-

    • the stated purpose of the party in the application for the grant

    • who was invited to the party

    • were any political, electoral speeches made

    • the party organizers’ perspective.

    Maybe the Gazette will do a second report after having spoken to the party organizers.

  • Sharon H.

    Do believe serious priorities need to be set out for spending of tax payers money. One in particular – single garbage container at the Spencer Smith Promenade during the mobile food festival had overflowing trash during two nights that I took a walk and no one had been around to empty. Monies spent for this I would classify as a priority, not neighbourhood connection events. Balancing our yearly budget always comes in as being a difficult task, this story only touches the tip of the iceberg on spending..

  • Sarah

    Excellent reporting! This is so very frustrating. Day after day the Mayor posts out on public media about her campaigning in x, y, and z neighbourhoods – always accompanied by the same three ususal suspects. She thanks residents for the lemonade, comments on the ear-rings, notes the age of those who invite her into their backyard and gets more and more face/name recognition. Or she goes out on public, City-funded media and thanks everyone from the dogcatcher to the local pest control person at every available opportunity. No one ever asks her to defend her record, to explain her policy failures or her operational incompetence or our rising tax rates. She is having a wonderful summer outdoor party with neither challenge nor real scrutiny.

  • DownTowners

    We’ve casted our vote for Mayor!!

    Shame on you Mayor Mead Ward…your head must have been firmly planted in the ground if you didn’t learn from your Provincial and Federal counterparts during the last elections. This speaks to the pure and simple entitlement you must feel as you march your way to victory in October.

    Go Anne Marsden Go!!!

    For the first time you’ve got our vote….if you’re giving out signs, we’ll be sure everyone in our downtown neighbourhood has one.

  • A friend of mine’s daughter knew some of the people in the photos and said that they are affluent. It is a very nice neighbourhood. Your story was well written. It’s funny, I had sent out an email about this whole situation to many before I thought of sending it to you. Suddenly those same people started messaging me the link to your story. I have also been passing it on. Burlington already has a great deal of community events without having to fund private parties. I didn’t realize that we were voting for the position of Social Director. This stinks on so many levels. Hopefully the comments pile up, but unfortunately people are so uninterested in municipal politics.

  • Charles

    Finally some real journalism.


    The Liberal Party of Canada has entered municipal politics.

  • Absolutely not surprised, this follows approval of taxpayer refunds for donations to anyone running for Office. Going on last election’s donations of over $50,000 with the majority obtained by incumbent councillor going for mayor and incumbent mayor a percentage will be returned to donors out of taxpayers dollars. This means Burlington taxpayers for the first time are funding percentage of donations to candidates and the largest portion will likely go to incumbent donors. There is also the question of whether all candidates were informed of this opportunity to be part of a neighborhood celebration – Anne certainly was not – looks like if only incumbents had access to this information, city currying favour with incumbents. When you realise the Clerk’s Office is closed during the election and inhibits access to public documents as is required by Municipal Elections Act to public documents, City Clerk follows Re-Elect Angelo Bentivegna on his twitter account and questions regarding Official Plan and minutes approved contrary to Procedre Bylaw remain unanswered no matter how many times asked, there is a huge question mark begining to evolve around the integrity of the Burlington 2022 election.

  • Mitch

    It’s always easy to spend OP’s money….so easy.

  • Penny Hersh

    Is anyone really surprised or shocked?? Photo ops at their best.

    Surprised that Councillor Bentivegna was part of this. On council he is always challenging staff on budget allocations.

    Was it necessary to be serving wine at a “neighbourhood” event that children were in attendance( the wine glasses in the photo tell the tale).

    Certainly hope there is more oversight by Parks and Recreation moving forward, and some questioning on how this event was approved.