Is the Mayor’s “Dream Team” going up against a BurlingtonGreen vision? Will a rosy future for the city come out of all this?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012  We know a bit more about that Defining the Dream idea the Mayor has been toiling away at. About 30 people will be taking part.  The Mayor seems to have his Council members more on side than they were when he launched the idea.

We know there will be two former Mayors involved, Walter Mulkewich and Rob MacIsaac. (Can you imagine if it had been Cam Jackson and Rob MacIsaac?)  There will be two developers; Angelo Paletta – the developer the city has the most difficulty with.  One participant in the “dream team” suggested the Mayor has decided to have his biggest problem in the room rather than outside.  Might be an awkward day for Angelo Paletta.  Will Rick Craven be there to argue for at least some employment land development in Aldershot?  Any guesses as to who the other developer will be?

There are a number of “business people” who have contributed enough to cover the cost of the event.  What is disturbing is that the Mayor expects to see some new ideas come from the core “establishment” of the city.  Sort of like expecting a different answer but always asking the same question of the same people.

When discussing the event with the Mayor – it wasn’t a formal interview – we asked if he had any “oddballs” attending and reminded the Mayor of the idea former Toronto Mayor David Crombie passed along to Goldring at a meeting of the about to sunset Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee more than a year ago.

Former Toronto Mayor David Crombie speaks at a Waterfront Advisory meeting and tells them to “look for some oddballs to sit on your design committee”. Mayor Goldring says he doesn’t know any oddballs to put on the committee he has formed to Define the Dream.

The Mayor said he didn’t know any oddballs and hadn’t invited anyone that might have been described as a loose cannon.  Burlingtonians tend to wax eloquent about the waterfront and the Escarpment and crow about our being the second safest city in the country with the lowest expected growth rate between now and  2031.  That’s all within our comfort zone.  We don’t talk about the poverty.

The names of the people invited to take part in the event haven’t been released yet.  The Mayor explains that some of the invited participants have yet to confirm their attendance.  Maybe the public will get the transparency they deserve next week when all the participants are confirmed and the Mayor issues a second press release.

There is too much about this planned event that is being treated in a very tight lipped manner.  It is always politically foolish to talk about funding being provided by “business” people without naming them.  We are aware of a large commercial property holding company that manages a number of strip malls along Fairview as well as holdings up and down Brant Street, who is reported to have contributed a large amount and to have been a major influence behind the idea.

Angelo Palleta is expected to take part in Mayor Goldring’s Defining the Dream. Will Paletta remind the Mayor that he could have had a massive dream had he gone along with Paletta’s move to get the Tiger Cats into Burlington.

Property owners have close dealings with city hall- it is just politically stupid to get into bed with them.  Go public the moment as much a dime changes hands and thank them profusely for their contribution.

Mayor Goldring has said that he will report to the public on what comes out of the two solid days of meetings with  the 30 people. He will add to that what city staff, who have volunteered their time, think has to be done to implement some of the ideas that percolate up from the discussion being run by a very high powered facilitator.

We are aware of at least one participant who bought facilitator Lance Secretan’s book The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch and was quite impressed with the content and is looking forward to taking part.  This individual bought his copy – have the rest of the participants been given any background?   Our source said he was impressed enough with the content to give the book a second read.

Lance Secretan will lead Mayor Goldring’s two day private event with 30 citizens while they attempt to define the dream for the city. Secretan holds a PhD and has written a number of books. The Burlington event is being based on The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch, which one participant in the event has read and says he was impressed with.

Our source said Secretan calls into question the Strategic Plan approach to creating the way a city works.  Secretan apparently doesn’t have much time for mission statements and “visions”, unless they are driven by a very specific mission and a lot of passion.  Secretan looks for “cultural change”.

Good luck on changing the culture of this city.  Goldring put it all pretty well when he said “Burlington is complacent”.   When the “establishment” in this city realizes it is about to have its lunch eaten by someone else they will go through a very swift cultural change.  Until then they will do everything they can to ensure that the other guys don’t get to eat their lunch.  Complacent indeed.

The Mayor has said that he has been reluctant to release the name of the participants because he “wants them to have a safe place” where they can discuss different ideas – which struck me as a bit of a crock as I listened to Goldring.

One has to assume there will be a report from the event and that the Mayor will take it to the larger community and then eventually to a council committee.

This initiative doesn’t seem to have a clear communications plan attached to it.

While the Mayor does his “thing” BurlingtonGreen, never slouches when it comes to showing initiative, will be holding a “Think Tank”  session of their own at their Annual General Meeting on Thursday of this week at the Central Library.

“We are inviting our members and the general public to attend our Annual General Meeting which will include a “Think Tank” forum to gather strategies to support a brighter future for Burlington.”

“Our City is quickly running out of room to grow, making planning decisions even more important. We must ensure that intensification plans that forever change the landscape of Burlington and many of our neighbourhoods respect the environment and the rights of future generations. We are inviting the citizens of Burlington to share their ideas on neighbourhoods and what they need to make them more liveable & environmentally sound. The input gathered will be included in a report we will be submitting to the City as part of their Official Plan process.” said Ken Woodruff, President of BurlingtonGreen.

BurlingtonGreen president Ken Woodruff will chair the BurlingtonGreen AGM and participate in the “Think Tank” session they plan to hold. He is reported to be also participating in the Mayor’s Dream Team that is meeting earlier in the same day. Busy man..

Is Woodruff making sure the BurlingtonGreen agenda is clearly heard and not muffled by whatever the Mayor “dream Team” comes up with.

What`s really interesting is that Woodruff is also reported to be taking part in the Mayor`s two day event.

The BurlingtonGreen  event is open to everyone, and will be held on Thursday November 22, 2012 in the Holland Room at Burlington Central Library located at 2331 New Street. Doors open at 6:30pm, with the presentation beginning at 7pm.

Colleen Mulholland was apparently the force behind the decision to publish a Vital Signs report that some in the social services community thought was a little “spotty” and on the weak side.

Colleen Mulholland Executive Director of the Burlington Community Foundation is taking part, hopefully not on the basis of the Vital signs report they recently produced.  That report is seen by some in the city as a “rushed effort”; done by Burlington Community Development because almost every other city had put one out and Burlington needed a similar report just to be seen as being in the game.

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1 comment to Is the Mayor’s “Dream Team” going up against a BurlingtonGreen vision? Will a rosy future for the city come out of all this?

  • Peter Goddard

    Dear Mayor.

    I propose that what you have accomplished is a list of gooey sentiments with no real substance. You have expanded on the adjectives you already attached to ethereal concepts, and arrived at intentions with no plan at all.

    Today I still face a real problem, that far too many citizens in Burlington have faced, are facing, will face. We are being bullied by developers who, with the aid of a far from contrite planning department, are building unwanted and inappropriate mega-condo projects in the middle of the “jewel on the lake”. Far from contributing to vibrancy, energy, belonging, and compassion, these developments are contributing to a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, depression, and acrimony in the neighbourhoods they blight. These monstrous developments are marketed as separate communities, and indeed they are separate. You cannot draw a line around any other portion of the affected neighbourhoods and say “this area is distinct”. They do not fit. They are the equivalent of inclusions in the jewel, imperfections that make our jewel worth far less than one that is clear and free of undesirable detritus.

    In this same sense, anyone could appreciate that while you are busy polishing the jewel, the value still only decreases as we accept a lower and lower quality of gem, and our own experts in city planning, like jaded dealers, contend the imperfections make it better.
    I am tired of this conversation. You messaged me with a link to this blog entry, I suppose you felt I should be inspired as you were. But I offer you may be suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome, the psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy or sympathy, and have positive feelings towards their captors. I feel you may be trapped in the sense you are powerless to influence negative changes in the city, brought about by the provincial and regional intensification plans you are legally bound to observe. In response, you are polishing a turd. In my experience this only results in a shinier turd.

    Because we are bound on all sides Burlington faces a difficult problem. How do we grow? In response to this problem Burlington committed to a plan, developed and implemented in the form of provincial, regional, and municipal “official plans”.
    Each of these plans describes in progressively finer granularity, the details of how we will achieve required growth within the constraints of the law, and each plan aspires to accomplish a greater goal of improving our communities in fair and equitable ways.
    The plans primarily call for DIRECTED intensification, with the specific stated goals of easing traffic congestion while supplying an adequate mix of housing PROXIMAL to workplace and transit lines. The finely tuned plan was unveiled to Burlington a few years back. This included maps of where the development would take place, what it would look like, and how we would accomplish it. It was a good plan.

    But now; The city is twisting the plan to serve a single metric. Person/jobs per hectare. Nothing else matters in their decisions. When faced with reasonable arguments against a development, they simply ignore those arguments, or devote their resources to researching obscure and weak counter arguments that are insulting to reasoning persons on the face of them. They hold these weak counter arguments up as proof of their wisdom, but we see the truth clearly. City planning views the plan as an arbitrary guide, and has assigned themselves the role of arbiter. The head city planner told me personally he is “like a cop” and that “people who follow the speed limit on the highways are actually getting in the way”. Presumably this means I am getting in the way when I question his judgement, or the judgement of his staff. He actually became visibly disturbed when I suggested I wanted to check his departments facts, admonishing “you’re not questioning my engineers, are you?” (BTW, yes.)

    You are elected to govern the city in a democratic manner. The four pillars of democracy are Freedom, Representation, Equity, and Justice.

    -I am apparently FREE to leave if I don’t like it.
    -I am apparently free to consult with my REPRESENTATIVE on council, who may or may not answer my concerns or return my correspondence.
    -I am apparently equal to the others in this city who have been bulldozed by the “planning process”, but not EQUAL to the richer parts of the city whose properties are in “significant” areas.
    -And Justice? I’m sure I am receiving an equal helping of the kind of justice Burlingtonians are becoming accustomed to. The kind of justice that gives tickets to those who follow the speed limit, and encourages dangerous speeding.

    So while you are looking forward to sharing the journey, my dreams are being told to move to the back of the bus.

    Peter Goddard