Mayor explains his first four years: Was it enough to get him re-elected?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 19, 2014



Ten days ago Mayor Rick Goldring was strolling towards an acclamation; it was in the bag. He didn’t have a campaign office, he was attending events for other candidates – he didn’t attend the kick off for the Meed Ward campaign in ward two.

By noon of Wednesday this week it was a much different picture; a campaign office was being set up and the campaign committee was coming out of its country club state of mind; suddenly there was a contender and while Burlington didn’t know that much about the guy – he was real.


Mayor Goldring read the Procedural Bylaw carefully and found a way to collude with the city Clerk to shut down a member of his council.  The days of innocence for this Council came to an end Monday April 8th, 2013

Mayor Goldring read the Procedural Bylaw carefully and found a way to collude with the city Clerk to shut down a member of his council. The days of innocence for this Council came to an end Monday April 8th, 2013

The Gazette had made plans to interview the Mayor to talk about what he felt he had achieved the first term and what he wanted to achieve during his second term which, at the time, seemed like a sure thing.

Goldring won the office of Mayor handily against former Ontario cabinet minister and then Mayor Cam Jackson. In the 2010 election he was angry with what he thought Jackson was doing to his city and while there were a number of position papers – the 2010 election didn’t have that sharp a focus.

Burlington knew Goldring as the guy who had been on Cogeco cable TV for years and was the council member for Ward 5 where he didn’t get into any trouble. There was an opportunity to do more with the PanAm Games in Sherwood Forest Park, but that opportunity got away on both Goldring and the city.

The 2010 election was one that Jackson lost more than it was Goldring winning.

Goldring and MLH

Margaret Lindsay Holton keeps the Mayor on his toes.

Goldring was stiff during the first three years of his term. He didn’t seem to have a grip on the job and was often directionless. His relationship with staff at city hall during the first six months was terrible; there was little respect for the man – some of the comments made reflected very poorly on staff.

Goldring was fortunate in having Frank McKeown as his Chief of Staff – without him at that time Goldring would have been a total failure. McKeown gave Goldring the psychological base he needed to grow into the job.

The Goldring we are seeing now is a man who is much more in control of his job. There weren’t very many people who saw Goldring as a strong leader but some of his more recent decisions suggest he is growing into the job. He is going to grow a lot more in the next 45 days now that he is being seriously challenged.

The Gazette asked Mayor Goldring to talk about his achievements during his first term and then what he would like to see achieved during his second term.

His first four years is set out below. His thoughts on the future will follow in a day.

The re-elect Goldring web site sets out Goldring’s commitment and priorities to the electorate:

My Commitment to You:
• Provide open, accountable and effective decision-making.
• Respect your tax dollar.
• Keep residents informed and engaged.
• Provide leadership through collaboration.

My Priorities:
• Cultivate a prosperous and sustainable economy.
• Protect and enhance greenspace.
• Foster vibrant and safe neighbourhoods.
• Continue to build a healthy, sustainable and prosperous community.

Not all that much in the way of specifics, but it is early in the campaign and when the above was written Goldring didn’t think he had a campaign to wage.

Goldring said he is proud of the change in the relationship between council and city staff. Former Mayor Cam Jackson took an approach to staff that was seen as disruptive. Goldring feels he has mended that relationship.

Goldring mentioned that the city had given the hospital the first $5 million of the $60 million it had undertaken to provide.

Cheque 4.75 million

Goldring is pleased with his performance on the pier and the way that matter was settled. He didn’t actually say the city won the dispute, but he appears to want to take credit for getting that file closed. Not as sure the public feels this file was properly closed.

When council decided not to put the turbine atop the observation deck - was there any reason for constructing an observation deck?

When council decided not to put the turbine atop the observation deck – was there any reason for constructing an observation deck?

The pier was to have a turbine at the top of the observation deck that would produce energy that would be fed into the electricity grid. The city would not get any money for that electricity but it would not have to pay for the electricity it used.

A mammoth screw up within the Engineering department led to a situation that had BurlingtonGreen asking – pleading actually, that the turbine be maintained. Mayor Goldring thought the time for this type of energy initiative had come and gone and said at the time there might be some way to put something solar beside the pier – but that thought came to nothing.

If there was not going to be a turbine on the pier then there was no need for the observation deck either. There was a missed opportunity to cut a significant chunk out of the construction cost; the observation deck doesn’t add all that much to the pier.

Goldring is pleased with the re-launch of the Economic Development Corporation. It took far too long to dismiss the former Executive Director and get a new crew in place. Frank McKeown, the Mayor’s former chief of staff, was appointed to the position last June and there hasn’t been a single media release other than to announce a luncheon/networking event that had been scheduled before McKeown was appointed. (We stand partly corrected on this one – the BEDC did release the September Newsletter this morning.)

Senior staff and city council realize it has a lot of work to do to bring new business to the city. In 2012, 2013 – and probably the numbers for 2014 will show net negative growth in the tax revenue from the industrial, commercial and institutional sector of the tax base.

Goldring turning sod Palladium

The Mayor knows the city needs more commercial and industrial development – getting it is proving to be the tough part. Is the Mayor out there selling hard enough?

The city cannot cover its costs from the residential sector – it must get more from the commercial side – and while there is some construction taking place – it doesn’t appear to be enough.

There doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency; there is what Deborah Pickfield, head of Thinkspot, calls a “high level of complacency”. But the Mayor is happy with the way things are going.

When he came to office Mayor Goldring said he would keep tax increases to 10% and he did that – thank goodness Ward five Councillor Paul Sharman forced a 0% increase during the first year of this council’s term. Had he not done that the city would have experienced something in the order of 15% increase over the four year term.

It is this kind of \"flim flam\" playing with numbers that ticks off the voters.  They can handle the truth - so give it to them.Mayor Goldring took out one of those fancy pocket calculators that gives you whatever number you want and said during our interview that “over the four years the city experienced tax increases that were 15% less than inflation. And if you add up the numbers the way Goldring did – he is not wrong.

To get that 15% Goldring adds all the levels of government that tax you. The Region of Halton did not increase their tax level – which made the Burlington numbers look quite good.

Goldring takes credit for how well he has communicated with the community – and on that level he has done very well. He has taken to social media in a big way – not sure how many people are actually getting the message, but he is certainly sending out the signal.

His Inspire Burlington series of speakers was a very good idea. Goldring brought people like Ken Greenberg, a noted planner and Andre Picard, the best public health thinker we have in this country to Burlington. Goldring didn’t say if he was going to continue the program in the next term.


Mayor Goldring chats with then Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne.  He wasn't buying what she was selling then.  Saturday the Mayor will squire the Premier around Ribfest.

Mayor Goldring chats with then Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne. He wasn’t buying what she was selling then.  Now that Wynne is Premier can the Mayor develop the relationship? One time provincial Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran, stands between Goldring and Wynne.

Rick Goldring has always been an environmentalist. He once ran as a candidate for the Green party.

He takes more credit than he deserves for stopping the HGTA highway the province was thinking about ramming through the Escarpment from Kilbride into Lowville.  John Taylor, Councillor for Ward three, was the stronger player on that file. During that period of time the Mayor was still getting the feel for the job.

Goldring takes the position that he was the person, who did all the talking to the province.

He wants credit as well for the decision not to allow a Nelson quarry expansion. That magnificent community response was due more to the PERL (Preserving the Escarpment and Rural Lands) crowd. The city did spend a lot of money on the legal side of that dispute.

Sheldon Property, June 5th looking up at

This Appleby Lline resident wonders if the Court decision will mean this pile of earth will be hauled away.  Or does the decision mean she has a claim against someone for the damage done to the value of her property/

When Mayor Goldring first saw the small mountain of earth on this  Appleby Line property he was reported to have said he was “appalled”.  Is the city going to be able to resolve the problem or are they looking at yet another court case?

The site plan problems with the Air Park is something Goldring wants credit for as well. The city did a great job on that file, but as I sat through council meetings I never got the sense that the mayor was leading that parade. City staff found themselves with a serious problem that, truth be told, they should have been on top of – but when north Burlington residents made enough noise the then city manager Jeff Fielding directed general manager Scott Stewart to make things happen – and things did happen.

City hall and the Region bought into the Vince Rossi Kool Aid and drank heavily from that bottle, believing that the Air Park was federally regulated and there was nothing the city could do. It was Ward six candidate for Council Vanessa Warren, who did the research and made it clear to the city that the Air Park ownership was wrong.


Mayor Goldring feels now that not accepting the pay raises that were due in 2010 and 2011 was "perhaps a mistake".

Mayor Goldring feels now that not accepting the pay raises that were due in 2010 and 2011 was “perhaps a mistake”.

A Mayor truly in touch with his community would have had his ear closer to the ground and seen this one coming. However, once informed the city did move on the file and won the two court cases.

Burlington has achieved a result that will benefit every municipality in the country – which is a much more laudable thing to have said of us than that “best medium sized city in the country”.

Mayor Goldring was very effective in working with the other municipalities to develop a revised site plan by law that should go into effect next week.

While the Mayor wasn’t tuned in enough with the residents of north Burlington, he is now on top of that file and expects to work with people at the federal and provincial levels to come up with plans that have the city at the table, when whatever development is going to be done at the air park is decided.

Mayor Goldring is proud of the new City View Park which will be the location for soccer team practices during the PanAm games.  Burlington was/will be paid $1 million for the use of the park while training takes place. But the public will not be allowed on the grounds while the teams practice.

It is a sterling park and over time the city will become very proud of it – the work up there isn’t completed yet.

Cootes ParadiseThe Cootes Paradise and the Randall Reef are two projects dear to the Mayor’s heart. The Randall Reef, while actually in Hamilton, has been polluting Burlington Bay water for years. It is the second worst toxic site in Canada. The huge glob of toxic sludge is to be capped with a massive concrete box that will seal everything. “Over time” said the Mayor “the water Burlington uses will be much cleaner and safer.” The Region’s water treatment facilities ensure that our water is safe – so there isn’t a problem. The sealing of that toxic sludge ensure that it won’t work its way into the water system.


The Goldring family whoops it up the night of the 2010 election.  Same scene for 2014?

The Goldring family whoops it up the night of the 2010 election. Same scene for 2014?

Mayor Goldring is proud of the Community Energy Plan and he has every right to be proud. Did you know that Burlington has a community energy plan and do you have any idea as to what it is going to do for you? Didn’t think so.

That plan is a solid initiative that came about because some very smart people put their minds to a serious problem. It is very good forward thinking – but nothing seems to be happening. On the energy front what Burlingtonians did see happen was a request by Burlington Hydro for a rate increase to cover the cost of cleaning up from the ice storm last December.

Tomorrow we will write about what the Mayor has in mind for the next four years – assuming he wins more votes than the other two candidates.
Rick Goldring’s re-election web site.


That turbine on the pier.


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1 comment to Mayor explains his first four years: Was it enough to get him re-elected?

  • Nicholas Leblovic

    Pepper you keep repeating that the overall tax increase during the current term of Council in only about 10% or in line with Goldring’s original commitment. You really need to check your math. Based on the best information I can find,(and its almost impossible to find it on the City’s website) the yearly tax increases at the city level were as follows: 2011-0.9%; 2012-3.29%; 2013-4.46%; 2014-3.5%. What you failed to consider is that each increase is calculated with reference to the rate for the previous year and not the base rate in 2010. So here is how you calculate the aggregate tax increase. First you assign the number 100 to the 2010 year representing $100 of 2010 tax revenue. For 2011 you multiply 100 times 100.9% which results in 100.9 or an increase of 0.9%. For 2012 you multiply 100.9 times 103.29% which results in 104.22 or an aggregate increase of 4.22% over the two years. If you follow the same process for 2013 and 2014, you come up with an number of 112.68 which reflects a total tax increase of 12.68% over the four year period. This calculation error was pointed out to you earlier in a reply to your article of March 5, 2014. The total increase of 12.68% represents an increase of almost 27% above Goldring’s commitment. Based on this discrepancy he he should not get a free pass from you or anyone else on this issue.