On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2018



‘The Gazette was able to interview mayoralty candidates Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace. We taped the interview.

We did not interview Greg Woodruff but did talk to him at some length on the telephone and did a piece on the role he has played in this election.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor Goldring explaining intensification to the public.

We asked Mayor Goldring for an interview during the election campaign and did not hear back from his campaign manager.

During his first term of office we reported on the Mayor at length. Search the web site, the Mayor was covered at length and at the time he said we were doing a fine job. He made a 60 second statement on the role we had played during his first term Click to hear what he had to say.

We did interview the Mayor prior to his election to a second term as Mayor. The interview took place in the office of Rick Burgess a Goldring advisor, confidante and a former candidate for Mayor himself.

At the time we expected the Mayor to talk about what he had achieved in his first term and what he wanted to get done in his second term. We came away from that interview empty handed.

Mayor Rick Goldring

Mayor Rick Goldring addressing a group of realtors.

We were disappointed – at the time the Mayor didn’t have anyone running against him – it looked like he was going to be acclaimed.

It was evident to any observer that city council was not working as a cohesive body – not much sense of a council that had a clear vision and direction the residents could point to. Goldring however was popular. People liked him – he was seen as a decent man doing a decent job.

The hope for a private tree bylaw was just that – a hope. Goldring did manage to get a pilot tree bylaw approved for the Roseland community; that will not begin until the Spring of next year.

The New Street Road diet was a mistake that the Mayor should have seen coming. He didn’t.

The Mayor inherited the Pier problem.  The project was stalled and looked like it would be in court for a decade.  Before it got to the Court Room there was an opportunity to resolve the problem and save something in the order of $2 million.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over ad revealed problems with the steel being used - it was all taken out. They ordered new steel and built it again. Now all the parties squabble over who is going to pay for the mistakes.

We actually built the pier twice. First time it was built a crane toppled over and revealed problems with the steel that was being used – it was all taken out; new steel was purchased and a new contractor built it again.

City Council, in a Closed session, turned down a revised proposal from the contractor and looked for a new contractor that tore out much of what had been constructed and completed the project at double the original cost.

The sale of lake shore land between Market and St. Paul streets was close to criminal. The city got less than a quarter of a million dollars for land that is now out of the public domain and will never be available to the public. There was never a solid reason for selling the land. A staff report said selling was an option; the report also said leasing the land was an option and doing nothing was also an option.


It is land that is now in private hands.

During the fund raising initiatives after the August 2014 flood I was covering a photo op with the Mayor. At the time he said that he had “finally figured it out – photo ops were the way to communicate with the public”. I shuddered – why in heavens name would a politician every say something like that.

In his first election as Mayor Rick Goldring published several solid policy papers. One was for something in the way of an incubator that would foster, nurture and grow small entrepreneurial start-ups.

The initiative was handed off to the Economic Development Corporation that created what is now Tech Place – a solid success.

As the Mayor moved from year to year he headed up a city council that couldn’t produce a budget that was much below a 4% increase every year. Numbers like that are what any housewife could tell you are not sustainable.

When the provincial government told the city it would have to come up with $60 million from the taxpayers to pay for a portion of the cost of building the transformed Joseph Brant Hospital the city created a special tax levy to raise those funds.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital whch will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

The tax payers were willing – happy to pay for part of the transformation of their hospital. When all the the money was raised that had a right to expect the special tax levy to end. It didn’t.

The citizens of the city gladly paid the tax – their hospital was important to them. When the $60 million was raised the public had a right to believe that the special tax levy would come to an end. The city just kept on collecting the tax and used the money for infrastructure work.

Intensification then became an issue. While the city had known from at least 2006 that significant growth would have to take place; the Mayor fumbled that ball. It wasn’t until development applications began to pour into city hall and a 23 story building was approved that the public became alarmed.

Lisa delegation

Lisa Kearns delegating at city council on the Official Plan – she was one of 30 delegations.

There were more than 30 delegations made to city hall to stop the approval of a new Official city plan until the public had an opportunity to approve the plan. The plan did have to be approved by the Region but they weren’t going to do anything with it until after the election.

Many wanted the Official Plan to be made an election issues. The city listened but did not hear what the citizens had to say. Grow Bold was now very real; the city’s Planning department produced a document show where some 30 17 floor developments could be located.

The Mayor said those buildings would not be built for years – that build out was some time off. The residents were saying that those 30 buildings were going to change to character of the city that they cared about.

When the election for a new city council began to Mayor stunned many people with his personal attacks against Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who was running against Goldring to be the next Mayor.
The decency that Rick Goldring was known for began to disappear.

Maps of quarry cells and houses

The Mayor wasn’t able to let the environmentalist he used to be be public and support the Tayandaga residents who wanted something different done with the proposed quarry expansion.

People living on West Haven Road in the Tayandaga community learned that a shale quarry site was going to be developed 50 metres from their homes and that thousands of trees were going to be cut down. The quarry operators had a license issued to them in 1972, which in the mind of the Mayor gave them the right to do what they wanted to do.

The community raised funds and lobbied hard and finally got some traction – public opinion began to shift in their favour. The Mayor, a committed environmentalist lost the opportunity to lead.

During his second term the Gazette sent a note to the Mayor asking for a comment – we didn’t get a response. At the end of a council meeting I asked the Mayor when he would be able to get back to me. He said he wasn’t going to be getting back to me because I was “biased and unfair”.

There isn’t a politician on the face of this earth who hasn’t at some point said media was biased an unfair. It is a comment we expect.

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

During the election that returned Goldring as Mayor he found himself not able to speak on a public matter on city property. As Mayor he had a right to speak to citizens in Civic Square – he had difficulty defining just what his role as Mayor was.

What a wise politician does is look for a way to meet with the reporters or editors and talk through the differences. Media doesn’t wake up one morning and say: How can whack the Mayor today. We observe and report on what we see.

Do we get it right all the time? We don’t. But when we get it wrong we apologize publicly in print. When city council makes mistakes the Mayor calls them “learning opportunities”.

We read the Mayor’s platform and we listened to hundreds of people and report as well as we can.

For reasons that we don’t fully understand Rick Goldring lost his way during his second term.

He found himself trying to lead a council that had members who were not going to be led. Two in particular were as about as disruptive and rude as a member of council could be.

The Mayor described one of them as “one of the best strategists he had ever worked with”.

The other member of council announced his retirement and then wrote a piece in which he tried to scorch Meed Ward.

It was all just so uncivil, so unnecessary. It is all a matter of public record.

On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

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8 comments to On Monday the voters get to decide who should be leading the city. It should not be Rick Goldring.

  • Marshall


    MMW might have been seen to be disruptive because she was not bowing and scraping to developers as were many of her fellow councillors but also found herself bucking an increasingly ineffective mayor. The outside big pockets who are continually flooding the internet with slanderous adds opposing her along with the public attacks by the mayor show to most of us that she must be our next mayor: someone who will stand up for Burlington.

  • steven craig gardner

    For my dollars MMW was the most disruptive force on council. Rick is still a decent guy despite it all I can’t say same about MMW being a decent person in council or outside..

    • LoverofLiberty

      Craig: This constant diatribe against MMW is getting old. You accuse her of the same things this very Mayor has done. Unfortunately, the Mayor secluded himself in the 2nd term and got cozy with developers. Lost touch with the residents and played cronyism. He allowed all this development throughout Burlington and pushed off transit and traffic. He took the position of let them build and let residents suffer. And all of a sudden, he is all about traffic and transit. AGAIN. Time for a change.

    • Hans

      Decent people don’t stoop to saying the things Goldring has been saying about MMW. Having read Pepper’s facts above, I conclude that Goldring is incompetent (at best) and certainly not qualified to be mayor.

    • Don Fletcher

      Craig: From a residents’/ delegator’s perspective, I believe that Marianne was considerate, engaged, open & respectful Councillors. I would describe her as being one of the most decent Councillors, compared to the others who were often condescending, openly bored, close-minded and critical. I, like you, feel that Rick Goldring is a decent guy, and I have difficulty believing that he had anything to do with the Peter Rusin smear campaign, although his various personal snipes at debates could give people cause to think otherwise. The real question for me is who will be the most effective Mayor, with what will likely be a new council with a change mandate (the type that Marianne has been pushing for). .

    • Stephen White

      Yes Steve, we all agree: Rick is a decent guy….most of the time…except when he is needlessly insulting and shaming a political opponent whose poignant comments get under his skin. He smiles a lot, glad hands well, kisses babies, talks in generalities, and makes nice with voters at the door. Unfortunately, he isn’t particularly effective. And that, sadly, is the point of the article.

      Here’s what he can’t do. He can’t deal with the anger and bitterness that has emerged in this City over the intensification debate. He can’t allay voters’ fears and anguish over the impact rapid intensification will have on existing neighbourhoods. He can’t keep his acerbic City Manager in check whose leadership has created a corporate culture at City Hall based on fear and control. He can’t manage the municipal budget which last year was double the inflation rate. He can’t bring unanimity to Council. He can’t instil respect at Council meetings as Councillors routinely treat citizens in a haughty and dismissive manner. He can’t delegate. He can’t lead. Most of all, going forward, he can’t and won’t be able to mollify the deep anger and divisions that have been created over the past four years that are a direct consequence of his leadership.

      He is, as someone once described to me, malleable. Sorry, but I actually want a Mayor with a backbone who has a vision, policies and ideals and is prepared to stand up and fight for them.

      • Don Fletcher

        Stephen: I enjoy & am motivated by reading your courageous & insightful (my opinion) writing. Obviously what you want is what most Burlington residents wanted on election night. Now we just need Mayor Elect MMW & our new Council to “stand & deliver”.