Mayor maintains selling waterfront property is showing leadership.

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

January 7, 2015


A four part feature on the city’s decision to sell small parcels of land that it owns that fronts on to Lake Ontario between Market and St. Paul Street. Part 4: The Meed Ward position. 

“This is not the end” said Councillor Marianne Meed Ward before members of Council voted to approve the “stop up and closure of Water Street land parcels”, which were steps that had to be taken before the property on the lakefront between Market and St. Paul Streets could be sold to Michael Swartz and his neighbours.

Meed Ward + Taylor Water Street vote

Councillors Meed Ward and Taylor seemed to see eye to eye on the sale of the waterfront property – but Taylor did vote for the sale of the land.

Meed Ward knew hers was going to be the only dissenting vote but she appeared to want to be on the record when she added: “I know the residents in this city, I have heard from people in every ward, and they want us to put public waterfront access at the top of our agenda.”

“They want us to preserve what we have.”

“I know” she continued. ”that if it is not this council there will be a council that will realize the vision”.
“The residents will not change” said Meed Ward, implying that councils come and go. However in Burlington Council members stick around for a long time.

Councillors Taylor and Dennison have warmed their seats for more than 20 years.


Councillor Meed Ward called the site “magnificent” and “spectacular” It will soon become totally private.

The resident’s wants access to the spectacular, magnificent waterfront said Meed Ward. This is no the last chapter. I know the community will see this through. It may take 50 years, it may take 100 but the public will eventually have the trail they want.

When the other members of Council spoke they chose to be defensive. Councillor Dennison said he agreed with a lot of what Meed Ward had to say but as Councillors we have to “pick our battles”.

“This particular piece of land does not fit the vision” Dennison added that he didn’t like being painted as against a waterfront trail – he just didn’t think a piece of land the city already owned was part of the vision; something he didn’t enlarge upon.

Sharman said he too supports a public waterfront but there are circumstances that have not been portrayed correctly.


The two windows on the Lake on the East and the West will be accessible by the public. The parkette in the middle will become private property. Don’t expect the Windows to be all that inviting. One council member wanted any amenities to be “minimal”

There has been a “massive deception” that is the critical issue that has to be recognized by the community.
The problem is the “circumstances” Councillor Sharman refers to were never made available to the public.
Sharman is sticking to his guns and closed his comments saying: “We’re doing the right thing”.

Councillor Lancaster appeared to be reading from the same script Sharman had. “At the end of the day” she said” “given the legal opinion and the complexities of this particular piece of property it didn’t make sense” to keep it.

That wasn’t the view of the Staff report which recommended leasing the property. Senior staff probably did not see the report Swartz had prepared and made available privately to some members of Council.
Mayor Goldring said “this issue has been around for 20 years – this council has addressed the issue and made a decision. “We are showing leadership”.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Standing up and being counted as they vote to sell city owned waterfront property.

The one thing that came across as this sorry episode came to an end is that there were legal opinions and privately commissioned reports that were not made available to the public.

Somehow, the transparency this council speaks about often did not apply to these documents.
Councillor Craven made no comment.

Councillor Taylor said he felt the issues had been personalized and he wanted council to get on with other matters.


Part 1 How the decision got made
Part 2 The Scobie delegation – it made no difference.
Part 3 The Swartz situation
Part 4 Meed ward position

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 comments to Mayor maintains selling waterfront property is showing leadership.

  • J Szold

    The English language provides an excellent metaphor for the Mayor’s concept of “leadership”. It’s called “putting lipstick on a pig”.

  • Glenda Dodd

    Mayor & five councillors are handing three property owners a windfall in property value increase..(regardless of what they pay the increase in overall property value will be significant)…just imagine what can be rebuilt now that those three property have ownership to the lake….

  • Hans Jacobs

    The so-called “legal issues” make me wonder what they could be? Is the City in danger of violating a contract if Burlington refuses to sell its land? From what I’ve read, this issue does not pass the basic “smell test” and six council members (includes the mayor, who seems to think that 20 years is a long time) need to do a reality check and start doing what is best for Burlington.

  • D.Duck

    “There has been a “massive deception” that is the critical issue that has to be recognized by the community. The problem is the “circumstances” Councillor Sharman refers to were never made available to the public.”

    No kidding!!!! I know that we lowly, uncouth, uneducated citizens of this city could not possibly understand the finite details that were with held from us. We looked upon city staff to affirm that the property should not be sold……….and they did. But luckily, the councillors of this city are much smarter than us inbred swine and they overrode the city staff’s report after reading this private and privileged ‘in camera’ report. Who needs transparency and accountability. They are just words to these academic stuarts of our city. We should follow blindly in their divine glory.

    Goldring states that “We are showing leadership”……..funny, I tell my kids that apologizing (when they have done wrong) shows strong character. Leadership is based on character, morality, trust, honesty. That is apparently lacking in this mayor. The word ‘Honourable’ is earned!!

    Tell us the facts and quit treating us like farm animals who have to be lead by a nose ring. We may actually agree with your decision??!! Otherwise suspicion makes us believe this was a planned event to benefit the favoured few.

  • Peter Rusin

    It is unfortunate that Meed Ward continues to mislead the public with her comments on waterfront issues specific to this case, and to use her dissenting vote to aggravate the situation.

    Notwithstanding that a greater level of transparency would have been helpful, council did the right thing, and City staff did an excellent job.

    End of story.

    • Mr. Horrible

      Shucks! End of story? What kind of ending is that? A (moderately) charming Prince finally extols the virtues of transparency, all the while trying to knock the dastardly dissenting Witch from her broomstick with his iPad.
      All right everybody, off to bed. All 180,000 of you. That’s it, story’s over. Off you go. Do as your told. There will be another story soon…kinda like Jack and the Beanstalk only higher.