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Meed Ward in an interview: city council just has to become more civil and collaborative.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We asked ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is running for Mayor, what the top five things she has gotten done since you were first sworn in 2010

Freeman station Sept 18-17

Freeman Station – a Meed Ward win for the city – with help from Councillor Lancaster.

The saving of the Freeman station, getting the Drury Lane bridge repaired – the city thought it might have to be torn down, and pioneering the way the public gets informed about developments.

No longer safe for the public to use the Drury Lane pededstrain Bridge was closed in November. Estimate is that $2 million will be needed to re-build and $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

The pedestrian bridge was closed for a number of months. City had to decide if they were going to send $2 million for a new one or $380,000 to put on a five year patch.

We didn’t get beyond those three – Meed Ward needed to press home how important she feels maintaining respect for each other is in a civic, civil society.

“We don’t have to agree but we do have to respect each other” she said. Early in her first term she prepared a set of slides that she would put up at every community meeting – when things looked like they might get out of hand she would put the slides back up.

Those slides are now part of what the Planning department uses when staff are out at public meetings. They are used at Standing Committee meetings when she is the chair.

They came out of Meed Ward’s experience on the Joseph Brant Hospital Board where she learned how a board made up of professional people could function.

Meed Ward saw the hospital board as a high functioning group of people. They have term limits, mandatory training and succession planning. Meed Ward admits that succession planning can be awkward in an elected environment – but Burlington has a deputy mayor that is rotated through the council members. For the most part it is a ribbon cutting exercise but when the city experienced the flood Paul Sharman stepped in as Deputy Mayor until the Mayor got back into town.

At the hospital board” said Meed Ward, “they genuinely knew how to respect each other – there was a strong corporate commitment that allowed the members to vehemently and at times passionately disagree, – but they were able to work effectively without making it personal.” For Meed Ward it was wonderful to see that level of collaboration. She said they got great things done. They had a President and a CEO that brought exceptional skills to the job.

“At the end of the day we produced the best decision because we vetted everything thoroughly”

Better public involvement in development proposals:

From the very beginning she asked developers to meet with the community before filing plans with the city. Years later the Planning department told developers that they must meet with the community first before filing development applications.

Notice of meetings in communities are sent out to home within 120 metres for zoning matter and 200 metres for Official Plan amendment matters.

Meed Ward has gone well beyond those legislated requirements. She did mail drops throughout her ward with the larger developments.

In the early years of her first term it was the Planners who would explain a development – “the optics were terrible” she said. Now Meed Ward chairs the meetings in her ward, the Planners talk about the planning implications and the developer talks about the actual plan.

Her objective has always been to keep people informed. She was behind the improvement on the way the public was informed about how council members voted. On a number of occasions she would ask for a recorded vote which required every member to stand up and be counted. During one memorable meeting she made this happen on six different occasions.

For this she was labelled as divisive, not a team player.

The challenge now is that who voted which way does not appear in the official minutes of the meeting. A vote is either carried or not carried. Meed Ward is working on an improvement.

Meed Ward adds that “it took a lot of pushing to get that done but we have it – however we don’t have it at the committee level. If a vote loses at committee and doesn’t make it to council you never know how people voted – that happened with the off peak free transit vote.

We asked Meed Ward what she would do to re-shape council if she is elected Mayor.

“Establish civility which have been horrible on council and terrible in this election race.

“Establish some collaboration, there is no council wide collaboration on this council.

“As a mayor you cannot play favourites – you can’t talk to just a few until you get your four votes – you have to talk to everyone.

“Create an environment to respect diversity in perspective … understand that people have their reasons for voting the way they did – that has been absent from this council.

“People write and tell me they don’t always agree with me but they appreciate that I tell them how I got there and what my rationale was.

“Start with that – all the tools around team building will fall apart if there isn’t respectful discourse.”

While Mead Ward doesn’t know who is going to be elected she does know that there will be at least three new council members representing wards 1,2 and 3 – and there might be a new Mayor as well.

There is some concern that some of those who had difficulty collaborating and were unable to be respectful might get returned to office.

How does she cope with that? “You lead by example” she said.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions.

“We now have the code of conduct and there are penalties that can be applied should it come to that. It never should. Hopefully you only have to do it once and everyone gets the message – if people are called out. If you don’t call them on it people get the impression that it is Ok – you have to stop the bad behaviour. You start by modelling true respect and collaboration.”

Burlington went for years without a Code of Conduct for the members of city council. The city manager had to be pushed by the provincial government to put a code in place.

Residents and council members can file Integrity Commissioner complaints

We wanted to know how Meed Ward would work with what she gets in the way of a council were she to be elected. Would she take them away on a retreat. She wasn’t sure if she could do that but she did plan to reach out to them as soon as she has seen the election results.

She would be reaching out to them the day after the election.

The province shortened the length of election campaigns but left the period of time between the counting of the votes and when the new council is sworn in and meets for the first time.

She pointed out that there will be a meeting for the old council at the end of November during which they can make decisions even though on December 3rd they will no longer be able to follow through on those votes if they were not re-elected – and two of them will have retired.

“We have this long period of time – more than a month where the old council is meeting and making decisions by people who are not going to be back.

Meed Ward wants better election processes and oversight and get rid of third party advertisers and get rid of anonymous funding.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge on his first day sitting in the Council Chamber.

We asked what she wanted to do about city staff were she to become Mayor. City council hires a city manager who in turn hires the staff he needs to run the city. Meed Ward is pretty direct when she says “ Staff recommends – council decides.”

She added that Council needs to show more leadership in directing staff and in making decisions.

The flow of information was a serious concern to not only Meed Ward. Council members were getting committee reports that ran well over 1000 pages and expected to digest it all in ten days.

“There were gentle conversations with staff on the flow of information” said Meed Ward

Med Ward said “We got the revised OP document a month before. It needed more time than that.” Meed Ward’s biggest disappointment was the amount of time that was given to the downtown plan – that was rushed through in two months and it needed a lot more time she said.

The public picked this up and delegated heavily – the council didn’t hear what the public was saying and the OP got sent to the Region over the protests of many.

The Gazette was surprised at how little mention there was on the arts during the election campaign – the city pumps well over a million dollars into the Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery and the museum. Meed Ward didn’t add anything to that during the interview.

Beachway - Full park

The re-development of the Beachway community will have a significant impact on how people use the lake front – it was never seriously debated during the election.

There was not a mention either of the plans for the Beachway community.

We wanted to know what Meed Ward thought the city was going to look like 5 – 10 -15 years out?
“We lost the Herd, a semi professional baseball team that got a better deal in Welland. Why asked Meed Ward. Why are parks in such disrepair?

Regional government:

Burlington goes to the Regional council as 7 people – Oakville goes as a team – how do you change that we asked. “Well you have to be aligned locally and if you are that will be reflected at the Region..
Meed Ward’s two top issues at the Region are growth, public transportation and roads

“I can get a single bus to Hamilton – I can’t get to Oakville on a single bus.
“We have to figure out if we are going to allow widening of the roads north of the QEW

The Region has said if you don’t want those roads widened then you can take them back and absorb all the costs

The city is believed to have achieved the growth that was required by 2031. There is another wave of population growth coming. The province will tell the Region what the growth requirement is going to be for 2041. They will then allocate how much of that growth is to go to each municipality. Those growth allocation numbers will be priority number 1 for Meed Ward. The council that goes with her to the Region will be pretty green – they are going to have to learn a lot fast.

The Region currently has Burlington’s Official Plan in the “in-basket”. They have to approve it, possibly make some changes and send it back. There are those that would like to see the OP sent back now without any changes so the city can revise the document and get it right.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Meed Ward will tell you that there is a lot in the OP that is just fine – her problem is with the downtown core – and the number of matters that she thinks are missing. “We know we are going to have to amend the plan just as soon as it is approved” she said..

Legally she isn’t clear as to whether or not the city can do that.

“We would have to communicate to the Region that there is a new council that will have a different view of what needs to be changed” she said

Working with the school board and the matter of the two high schools; one already closed a second due to close in 2021. City has no input on those properties. It is only when the school board declares a school surplus that they no longer have a stake in it. After that there is a clearly defined process for determining what happens to the property.”

It doesn’t not just slide into a developer who decides he has some ideas for the land.

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

How the hospital tax levy got to be a tax that would be with citizens forever.

Burlington taxpayers were told by the province that they had to come up with $60 to pay for a portion of the hospital transformation; That news was delivered to the Mayor during his first month of his first term.
The city created a special tax levy that appeared as a separate line on the tax bill and over time the money was raised. Problem was that special tax levy didn’t disappear.

Meed Ward doesn’t exactly cover herself with glory in the way she handled this one. She said the recommendation was in a staff report. Does anyone read all of those staff reports? Meed Ward said she didn’t hear any complaints. Of course there were no complaints – the public didn’t know about the decision. The Gazette did raise the question on more than one occasion.

There could have been a referendum about redirecting those funds – no one asked for one.

“There were no questions so the tax levy remained with the funds going to infrastructure.”

Meed Ward is usually very quick to point to everything that impacts the people of the city – this one was allowed to slide through. Something to be watched for is she is elected Mayor on Monday.

The day city council experienced a major melt down.

The December 19th, 2012 Standing Committee meeting was a disaster. Council was deciding who would sit on which boards and committees

Meed ward said that usually the choice of committees is determined before the meeting starts but on that December day two Councillors met in the foyer and colluded to remove Meed Ward from the hospital committee and the Downtown BIA. Councillor Lancaster was put on the BIA.

The Mayor had been blind-sided by Councillors Craven and Sharman.

People were aware of the city council dysfunction – on December 19th – we saw it – it was ugly – the city council at its worst

Visual - city council full

When the elected members of Council take their seats on December 10th, they will be in a re-designed council chamber. The big question for the public is – will they behave any differently and who will sit as Mayor.

We asked Meed Ward: How do you stop this kind of thing? Do you send them home and bring them back when things settle down?

“The challenge” said Meed Ward” is to change the behavior.  Will an election put an end to that ?  Meed Ward said she cannot speak for others

“The first thing we have to do is find a way to respect each other” she said.

Term limits? Certainly for the Mayor said Meed Ward. Council members – she wasn’t sure how long
Term limits force changes said Meed Ward. When a seat is vacated new blood gets brought in.
The civility of the new council will be determined in some degree on who gets returned

Meed Ward has suggested to the committee that looks into compensation take a longer look at just what a Deputy Mayor should be. Meed Ward wants to see more professional development and training for city council members. Next term she would like to see some definition put around the role of the deputy Mayor..

What does the Meed Ward future look like?

What does Meed Ward see in the next 5/10/15 years?  What has the city got going for it?  Will this continue to be a nice place to live?

Mead Ward point to her campaign brochure which sets out why she is running.

The printed piece of paper is something she controls – what happens on a day to day basis is something she does not control – the best she can do is manage it

What is there out there that she hasn’t seen? “I didn’t see the cannabis question coming” she said.

Paletta MansionMeed Ward said great cities don’t happen by accident. The citizens of this city fought to make them great. In Burlington the citizens said no to town houses on the Paletta property

They said no to development in Central park

They said no to the sale of the land on the Lake side of Lakeshore Road between Market and St Pail Streets – they lost that one

Market-and-St-Paul-Street-LAkeshore-Rd2

The chunk of land in the centre block got sold.

Citizens have taken their city council to court when they were unhappy.
Meed Ward said “ there are generations that delivered for us – it is now our turn to deliver for them – what are we going to deliver

Meed Ward said she believes the citizens want that that small town community feeling. She isn’t saying no to development – but she doesn’t want development that is going to destroy the city people have said they want

Seniors Centre

A Seniors’ Centre is needed in Aldershot and in the east end – ideally in the Lakeside Village Plaza that is being re-developed.

Green spaces, trees, community centre’s are what she wants to focus on.  Sports fields need to be improved – people are having difficulty getting ice time and time on playing fields.

“I ensured that there was an additional $200,000 put into the budget with more to follow.
We have to actively take steps to protect what we have.”

In the Avondale community, where a developer wanted approval for the Bluewater development that would take more lake shore land out of public hands, the developer used the city decision to sell that lake shore property between Market and St. Paul as justification to show that the city didn’t need any more lake front property in the public’s hands.

Meed Ward will, if she is elected Mayor, she try to “undo and hold back some of the decisions that have been made and at the same time move forward on some of the good things.”

She wants to see something better done with the Nelson stadium. More trees and better transit.

She fears the city is in serious trouble with the tree canopy we have.

She hopes that within five years people will be able to travel on reliable transit easily and cheaply.

Meed WArd at PARC

Marianne Meed Ward – She began delegating to city council then ran for the ward 1 seat – was defeated by Councillor Craven – moved to ward 2, continued to delegate, especially on Saving the Waterfront. Ran for Council and was elected twice. Now she is running for Mayor

Marianne Meed Ward was born in Colorado – she came to Canada when she was in kindergarten.
She lived in Richmond Hill, Kingston, spent a year at Kingston Collegiate. Went to Carleton University to study journalism – she was never employed full time at a newspaper but her first published piece was a freelance article published in the Ottawa Citizen – it was about job placement for people with disabilities.

She got a job as the editor of a national magazine, was promoted to publisher and, after a number of years decided to go out on her own where she made more money. She freelanced for 11 years.

Asked what who she looked to as a role model – she thought for a moment and said Hazel McCallion – the Mayor who grew Mississauga into the city it is today.

Anyone else, I asked. I’ve always liked the way Bernie Saunders does things, he was consistent and the public was with him.

Marianne Meed Ward, an 18 year citizen of Burlington believes the public is with her. She will know what the immediate future holds for her Monday night.

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16 comments to Meed Ward in an interview: city council just has to become more civil and collaborative.

  • Susie

    A good question for MMW is to what extent she plans on amending the official plan once it is sent back to the City. Will this be carried out locally, or will she seek Provincial approval to go forward? This will have to be top priority as timelines will be a major factor. The City has been known to procrastinate and lose, e.g. the Nautique fumble!! Political positions come with a price tag, and I can only say that there is alot at stake for whomever fills the slot tomorrow.

  • Gordon Givens

    MMW speaks of the merits of collaboration, yet time and again has called for 6-1 recorded votes in council. This would in most minds spell obstructionism or in the very least a very ineffective capacity to seek consensus. An outrageous example relates to her 6-1 recorded vote on the waterfront sale, after-which she actually used her conflicted roles as Waterfront Committee Chair and City Councilor to lodge a formal complaint against Council’s use of a closed session meeting. The results of that formal investigation are noted below:

    CONCLUSION

    Amberley Gavel has concluded that the CSC did not breach the open meetings requirement of the Municipal Act in closing part of its meeting to the public on October 2, 2013 during discussion of the proposed acquisition or disposition of the Water Street land parcels. Further, since City Council did not go into closed session on the subject matter of the complaint, it cannot be said that Council breached the open meetings requirement of the Municipal Act during its meeting of October 15, 2013.

    This was for sure a Hail Mary attempt by MMW to disrupt accepted Municipal Act procedure, something she should be familiar with and respect.

    By the way, Burlington taxpayers paid for this frivolously requested investigation.

    • Tom Muir

      Not obstructionism or inability to seek consensus in my mind. Speak mean words for yourself Gordon.

      MMW was doing what people told her and wanted her to do and you can see this in the public record. If you had been paying attention to what was going on for the last while you should know this.

      This Council wanted what it wanted and was not interested in getting consensus. MMW would not go along to get along, and they disliked her because of that. Vote to get consensus and you own it too, like it or not.

      She voted for the Strategic Plan and Mayor Goldring threw this in her face as her support of Grow Bold every chance he got during the election.

      She was the lone voice at times of 6-1 and this was a sign that she was staking out her positions, supporting residents expressions of concerns, and holding the others to account on the record with recorded votes.

      Seeking consensus with this Council was mostly a waste of time for a few years. I tried with a lot of others to make progress, but the record speaks for itself.

      I and a lot of people did not want those lands sold off, and we were glad the decision was pursued to the bitter end. It’s our money after all. The Municipal Act is abused all the time with no challenge because there really is no accountability, and most people don’t know what goes on.

      And that was as you noted, in 2013. That was 2 elections ago by tomorrow.

      Why are you raising it now, the day before the 2018 election?

      The last election was the place she would have been punished if folks in Ward 2 didn’t approve.

      It’s apparent from your hyperbolic choice of words – obstructionism, ineffective, outrageous, conflicted, Hail Mary, disruptive, and frivolous – where you are coming from with a mean streak.

      It speaks more about yourself than MMW.

  • joe gaetan

    Really,the old council gets to meet one more time, “during which they can make decisions even though on December 3rd they will no longer be able to follow through on those votes if they were not re-elected – and two of them will have retired”. This is absurd and should never happen, one more thing that needs fixing next term.

  • LoverofLiberty

    City Councillors do need to collaborate. Not have some members meet in backrooms and collude. She stood up to that. There is not one person on gods green earth that is perfect. I support her yet do not like all her policies. I am sick and tired of people saying she is a bully or is too blunt. If a women does that she is a “B***ch** yet a man can do it and is a hero. She has done no more bullying than the current Mayor. Does anyone recall “Hurricane Hazel”? She was blunt direct and to the point. If that is not your cup of tea, so be it. Mike had some good points, but he is too political. That is my opinion. Which we are all entitled. Mr. Woodruff has done his homework and is pretty much right on the issues, he just picked the wrong time to run. Tomorrow evening will tell the tale. After which some of us will be very happy, and some of us will be not.

  • Hans

    Chacun a son gout…..People who have low expectations can vote for the status quo or an unremarkable MP. I prefer someone with a very high intellect, high ethical standards, and unmatched capacity for achievement; therefore, MMW is the clear best choice for me.

    • Mary Jenkins

      Unremarkable MP???? I would put Mike’s accomplishments up against the other candidates any day of the week. Ethical? Ha!! Funny Mike Wallace is the only one who has not been mentioned or involved in any of the nastiness going on. Unlike the others, he has continually taken “the high road”. He has not made promises that cannot be kept, just to win votes. The old “tell the people what they want to hear and they will vote for you”. Fortunately there are some people out there who are intelligent enough to know how our system really works and see right through the “big promises” and fear tactics. They know who actually has the experience and the relationships to deal with the upper levels of government in order to change the direction that the current council has led us in. They know that Mike Wallace is the only choice if we are to actually get things done. While we appreciate your “personal opinion” Hans, I think the smart people will stick with the facts and documented track records. After all, talk is cheap!

  • Mary Jenkins

    Does anyone read those staff reports???? One would hope that all of our elected councilors would be reading them. Why are we wasting the time and money if they are not going to be read? All of this talk of civility. While at a meet and great for MMW very early on in the campaign I was quite surprised when she started bashing the current mayor and belittling the accomplishments of former city councilor and Member of Parliament, Mike Wallace. I was undecided up until that point. Ms Meed Ward has openly promoted and urged voters to vote for 4 particular city councilor candidates. Perhaps this is to ensure that Council can “get along”. That should give us all “cause for concern”.

    • Tom Muir

      “Bashing” and “Belittling” are your angry sounding words about what campaigning, staking out why you are running, and criticizing your opponents is all about.

      And what I heard was going both ways all around. And MMW was the sole target of the crap brigade organized by Rusin on the surface, but who really knows. Yes, talk about civility why don’t you?

      I have been paying attention for years and watched her get bashed and belittled first and foremost by Craven because he is a small and vindictive man. he didn’t like what she was doing and saying because he didn’t do this and didn’t want any of us in Ward 1 asking for the same. He never missed a chance to be sarcastic about her, or spare a dirty look. He has a hate on for her make no mistake.

      But she took residents issues and concerns to heart and most of the rest of the them never did and I have delegation material to show this. In this regard, Council was getting along just fine doing their thing, and I heard Craven bragging that he had 4 votes.

      Craven tried to lead a charge to reduce public delegation time at Committee to 5 minutes from 10. How does that fit with your issue about staff reports getting read? I will tell you that serious delegations have to read this stuff to be credible.

      She certainly does as I delegate a lot and she was the most frequent competent questioner, extending delegation time to explain, and in Council debate time, had the single best grasp of the issues and what the public was saying and what the downsides were in the city charge to Grow Bold. She always paid respectful attention to what was going on.

      And I never heard her promote anyone, and I asked her in writing, and I asked her campaign people, and I never got an answer. If I were her I am sure I would have had some picks in her platform delivery of respect at city hall.

      The only cause for concern I have is that undeserved crap that she has been subjected to in heaps. All the while she has kept her head up, even when the Mayor was blaming her for the school closures that he refused to speak to.

      No need for you to accuse her alone as being uncivil as you do, like no one else is, and in your opinion expression, add to the crap pile.

      • Mary Jenkins

        Tom Muir, here we go with the old double standard. When MMW does it, it is “just what campaigning, staking out why you are running, and criticizing your opponents is all about”. Your words, not mine. Yet when others did just that, it was something so much more sinister. Hmmm.

        • Tom Muir

          No Mary, I objected to your choice of words of bashing and belittling. And your accusations without evidence of actual deeds, and overall angry tone didn’t help.

          No double standard from me, just reaction to your mean hyperbole. They all did the criticism of each others policies and positions I agree.

          But only MMW was singled out for special attacks that were way over the top and slanderous.That was fact. That was sinister. Not acceptable.

          No Hmmmm about that.

          And by the way, I know Mike, and if he is elected I think he could be a good Mayor and acceptable to me. I could try and work with him. He’s just not been around and active in the local scene for too long compared to the others.

          I won’t bash him or belittle him. He doesn’t deserve that and he has done more political things than I ever have or ever will, like it or not. I respect the man.

  • Craig Gardner

    I guess she will learn collaboration if elected as she sure has not shown this skill set as councilor sil those 6 to 1 votes show an inability to collaborate similarly with public negativity towards various city staff does not show collaborative skill set needed when folks have differing views.

    • Connie Kibbitz

      Bang on Craig.

    • Phllip Wooster

      Actually, Craig, Marianne stood up for the constituents who elected her unlike the Gang of 6 who consistently supported the development industry. I’m sure that you disagree given your pro-overintensification perspective. We will see tomorrow who the residents of Burlington support–the special interests or those candidates who are there to serve the electorate.

    • MMW ALL THE WAY!

      Isnt the same Craig Gardner who constantly complains about traffic? Drives less than 6 km to work and is always Boo Hoo poor me. But is pro development?
      Who has been bashing MMW forever. Where is a transit plan, where is the traffice plan, all promised by the major more than 8 years ago. Hey Craig, show me a vote where you current Councillor took a stand on an issue and voted NO. Did she consult her constituents on the mega towers? Did she take a position and vote no in protest? Did she ever send out an announcement on her stand on any issue before Council? NO! Give me a break. Stop drinking the “Pink” kool aid and do some investigation.

  • Ted Griffith

    Interesting how she cites Paletta Mansion and Park as a place where the citizens said no. She omits the fact that it was Mike Wallace that organized the citizens and created the first-ever sponsorship of a city project to save and restore the building, as well as a park. Oh, and the City has no influence over the disposal of school board properties – except that Mike Wallace was able to do that, create new homes and a park at no cost to the city.