New city council will need to ground itself and understand the mistakes that were made in the past in order to ensure they don't get repeated.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 18th, 2018



There is a lot of celebrating and congratulating of the new city council sworn in on December 3rd taking place.
City hall has announced that a new edition of City Talk, the magazine that is basically a public relations piece with a lot of feel good news that has never included a critical comment – it is there to tell you how lucky you are to have these people running your city.

City Talk mock up Dec 2018

In your mailbox – just before Christmas.

In the words of the Kwab Ako-Adjei, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Strategic Communications, “The new issue of City Talk provides an important overview of the elected officials that will be the governing body for the City of Burlington over the next four years. If you live or work in Burlington and have a question or concern about something going on in the city, your representative of City Council is a valuable resource. The seven members of City Council are responsible for ensuring the thoughts of residents in their wards and across Burlington are voiced at City Council.”

Shape Burlington logoEarlier this month the Gazette asked all members of council, except the Mayor, if they had read the Shape Burlington report that was published in 2011.

That document, written by the late John Boich and former Mayor Walter Mulkewich, was the first report in some time that was very critical of the way city hall was engaging with the tax payers. Senior staff at city hall were less than happy with the document and wanted sections of it re-written.
It was a seminal document, one that pointed to systemic problems at city hall. It was unanimously adopted by that city council and then forgotten.

It wasn’t until 2017 when ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington – was created that a closer look began to be taken at what city hall was doing or rather was not doing. A state of deafness existed at city council (not all of them) and in the Planning department.

It was the ECoB all candidate meetings in every word and an all candidates meeting, plus a TV Ontario debate between the Mayoralty candidates that brought the depth of the problem to the surface.
Every member of the old council that was running for office, save one, lost their city council seat. Two saw the writing on the wall and retired.

These newbies had a huge task ahead of them – and collectively they had little in the way of experience but they were keen, wide eyed and bushy tailed.

ECoB debate at Baptist on New

When you pack a room like this – you know that people want information.

They were elected by a city that wanted change and they personally wanted change.

The Gazette asked each of the new members of council if they had read the Shape Burlington report. The results of that question were disappointing.

Just one responded and she had not read the report but had asked for a copy and had plans to read it.

There is a maxim out there that says we are doomed to repeat our past mistakes if we do not know our history. A reading of the report would inform these five people how long the problems they are there to fix have been in place.

Not a good sign.

What we are getting is that limp statement city hall puts on most of the documents that are sent out:

Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.

Revising that statement to read “Burlington could be one of Canada’s …” would be closer to the truth.

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10 comments to New city council will need to ground itself and understand the mistakes that were made in the past in order to ensure they don’t get repeated.

  • Dave

    Phillip, regardless of your peeing match with the Councilman, it is still an excellent and timely template for newsletters for those that don’t expect more from local council people than is in their purview.

  • Dave

    Phillip, I am guessing you were not on the Ward 4 email list for the “Ward 4 News”. Minimum 3 reports a year (plus special reports when warranted) and very detailed both in the ward and all city business. Don’t let your disgust with the old council blind you to the good things that got done for this city by many, and previous councils in particular. Happy to send you a copy of these reports to have a look. It is an excellent template, sorry you missed it.

    • Phillip Wooster

      No Dave–Dennison knew better than to put me on his email list. I had numerous contacts with him and generally found him to talk a good game but DO LITTLE. I lived in his ward the entire time he was councillor. My disgust with Jack Dennison is that he did little for his constituents, but looked after himself and several special interests. I’m not sorry to see him gone.

  • Elle Woods

    I’m not going to hold the fact that these busy Councillors haven’t read a 7 year old document put out by three administrations ago against them. Nor should anyone really.

  • joe gaetan

    Pepper maybe a link to the Shape Burlington Report would be of benefit.

    Editor’s note: The Shape Burlington Report has been on the Gazette archives since the day it was published.

    Just type in Shape Burlington in the search box in the upper right corner of the HOME page.

  • Lucy

    I searched on the city site for the Shape Burlington Report (2010) but could not locate it. (Maybe it’s there and I missed it). However, I was able to find it right here on the Gazette site and read it. Wow…all that work to develop that report and it now appears that in all these years gone by, matters actually got worse instead of better. We have such high hopes for this new council and mayor; only time will tell if they will provide the effective governance the citizens are entitled to receive. Great points made in that 2010 report!

  • Dave

    Penny, regarding the “more information” in “Councillors Newsletters”, a good one to study and use as a template is from former Council member Jack Dennison to the Ward 4 constituents. It was an excellent and informative email update on Ward 4 and City business in detail.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Dave, you’ve got to be kidding!!! I live in Ward 4 (Dennison’s previous ward). The only time I saw a newsletter from Jack was in the two months previous to an election and then it was merely a self-congratulatory missive. Use this as a template? I sure hope not!

  • Kevin Rutherford

    @Penny, I couldn’t agree more! I find it challenging to get information on things happening in my Ward 5, or in the City in general. It would be great to have some more “meat and potatoes” in a Councillor newsletter so it makes it easier for residents to be informed and get involved.

    That being said, I don’t believe I have ever received a Councillor Newsletter since living in Burlington.

  • Penny

    In my opinion there are 2 statements that need to disappear. ” GROW BOLD” and the one mentioned in this article “BURLINGTON IS ONE OF CANADA’S BEST AND MOST LIVABLE CITIES etc.”

    I hope that the Councillors Newsletters will have more information than the social events that are happening in their Ward. Residents would like information on what is happening at Council.