Nominations for Burlington’s Best awards now open; rules tightened up.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 5th, 2015


The city is indeed filled with many superb people, groups and organizations. Well organized communities create ways to recognize the contributions they make.

The way in which a city does this is important – the event has to be done with dignity and not lavishly.

The recognition of those people who make this city what it is has had its share of ups and downs. The choice of MC has been uneven – last year a very solid choice was made. If you attend this year – and it is worth attending – look for the man in the white sports coat. He was great last year.

The event will take place in May at the Burlington Convention Centre.

The ticket price is moderate – it should be less – the event shouldn’t be expected to make a profit.

The food served has been a little on the skimpy side in the past; the program at times seemed rushed –a sort of how quickly can we get them out of here.

In the past mother’s has nominated a son, a husband could nominate a wife – it wasn’t a healthy approach to really recognizing the best we have.

While the rules don’t specifically say that you can’t nominate a relative – city staff have said that they will suggest to nominators that they might want to choose someone else. The rule should be crystal clear – you cannot nominate a relative.

In the past some have gamed the system and the committee that makes the decisions seemed to have forgotten why they were on the committee; it wasn’t to take care of old friends.

The Selection Committee has stronger leadership in place; expect to see a different event this year. BEST Awards Committee is made up of 10 voting members, including: six citizens from the community, and four representatives from media and information agencies.

The purpose is to nominate someone deserving of civic recognition for their hard work, compassion and dedication.

Nominations will be accepted until Feb. 19, 2016.  Last year the nomination closing date was extended – suggesting that there may not have been all that many nominations which would lead to one asking: Is this a relevant event?

It certainly should be – the strength of a community is the willingness on the part of individuals to pitch in and make a difference and a look at last year’s recipients makes it clear that we have some fine people in the city.

There are seven award categories of Burlington’s Best:
Citizen of the year
A person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and well-being of the Burlington community.

Junior Citizen of the year
A high school student, 18 years or younger who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Senior Person of the year
A person, 55 years or older who has advocated on behalf of seniors and/or made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Environmental Award
An individual or group that improved and/or protects Burlington’s environment.

Arts Person of the Year
An individual who has contributed to the arts in Burlington as an artist, patron or advocate including but not limited to, visual arts, media arts, musical arts, performing arts and literary arts.

Community Service Award
An individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community.

Heritage Award
An individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered their time in an effort to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage.

Nomination forms can be completed online at or by picking up a nomination form at the clerks department at City Hall, 426 Brant St.

What to consider when you want to nominate someone:

The preparation of a good nomination should not require lots of work, especially if you are very familiar with the candidate and his/her work. A well written nomination should not be long. The best ones are short and clearly show the impact of the work of the nominee(s). The most time consuming activity is to select people who will support the award with a letter of recommendation and the follow-up to remind these authors to submit their letters on schedule.

Match the nominee with the award

As the nominator, your most important responsibility is to nominate a person who has made an important impact to the field of interest covered by the award. Nominators should always take two simple steps:

  1. Review the list of previous recipients to get an idea of the quality of the contributions of past winners.
  2. Make sure that the contributions of your nominee(s) satisfy the description of the award. It is not unusual to read a nomination of a person who has done outstanding work, but the work does not satisfy the description of the award.

Be specific

Provide a specific, meaningful description of the candidate’s contributions. Don’t say something like, “He/she has done good work.” Rather, be specific. This is the most important information that you can give in the nomination. Also, be specific in describing the impact of the contribution. In addition, make sure that your nomination is brief and contains a specific description of the candidate’s contribution.

Meaningful support letters

Sometimes selecting people to write meaningful supporting letters can be the most challenging part of the preparation of a good nomination. Make sure that these people are familiar with the contributions of your candidate and that they support your nomination. Get supporting letters from people who have used the contribution of the candidate. Also, ask the authors of supporting letters to avoid just copying what you wrote in the nomination. The selection committee treats these letters very seriously and expects the author of the letter to provide his/her personal views on the specific contributions of the candidate.

The 2014 choices were just fine; they reflected what had taken place in the community.

Burlingtons-Best-Winners 2014

The 2014 winners pose with their awards. From left to right: Mary Nichol, Tomy Bewick, Bonnie Purkis, Ron Foxcroft, Kevin Han, Jan Morris, accepting on behalf of her late husband Dave Morris, Susan Fraser.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments to Nominations for Burlington’s Best awards now open; rules tightened up.

  • Kris Kringle

    To Tinni,
    1.It is an on-going MISTAKE to ‘compare’ Burlington to Hamilton.
    Size, demographics, and wealth separate the two by some distance.

    2. Expecting and/or demanding ‘cash’ for what is a celebration of, at core, ‘community volunteerism’ cheapens the event and fundamentally changes the nature of the award. People are who they are, and not because of the money.

    3. That ‘nominations’ in the past have been ‘familiar’ with the ‘jury’ doesnt preclude their eligibility. And, everyone knows these kinds of ‘kudos’ are often given to ‘insiders’ of those ‘friendly’ to the regime in power. It’s not perfect, but it’s Burlington. Revel in that.

  • marco

    Liven up people. Stop knit-picking and celebrate volunteerism. Negative is all we seem to breed.

    Editor’s note: Help me out here – what is the difference between being negative and holding people accountable. The Gazette thinks the BEST awards are a very good idea and a necessary part of a civil society – they just need to be fair and wide open. Criticism is meant to improve. Your comment and response would be appreciated.

  • tenni

    You have hit the nail on the head but failed to call what was permitted by its name: Conflict of Interest.

    A conflict of interest is the appearance of or a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial interest, or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.

    The people being honoured are generally deserving and worthy and so to permit To permit the appearance of a Conflict of Interest to exists damages all who have been nominated.

    A small bird told me that the committee feels that it is difficult to find candidates and they prefer to look the other way than be an honourable award. If there are insufficient people willing to be nominated fix the award system. Put some cash with the awards. Reduce the number of awards if there are no nominees or make it biennial awards.

    It is my understanding that the event is to cost the city nothing. Sponsors and ticket sales are to pay for everything. Does at least one sponsor ask for final approval?

    In the past, the concept is to be based on volunteerism rather than the actual deeds and accomplishments. I don’t think that this works well in all categories. Create a separate series of arts awards based on arts disciplines where merit as well as volunteerism is at the core of why a person is nominated. Hamilton gives $2 500 with each arts award.