Bridgewater development on Lakeshore scheduled to see shovels in the ground right after a big blowout Christmas party.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 10, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

There will be shovels in the ground the first few days of January – and Jeff Paikin will start the next, and biggest phase of his career as a developer.

The three structure Bridgewater project, initially approved in 1985 and justified as a “landmark” project for the city, will rise to 22 storeys under the direction of a man whose first development project was a done more than 25 years ago, which was about when the city approved the project he is going to move into as a resident.

Aerial-rendering-1024x758

The hotel has had an additional floor added to it – shovels are scheduled to dig into the ground first thing in 2016 – now there is a photo op for you!

Paikin will be at the front of a project that will change forever the look and feel of the waterfront forever.

How this came to be is one of those extraordinary  stories of drive, energy and a lot of luck that came about because Paikin decided to go for luxury and quality in a city he loves

There will be a Christmas party for the people who have bought about 60% of the units in the Bridgewater project. Paikin says he needs to be at 62% sold to have the financing he has arranged kick in.

Paikin said he would buy another unit if that’s what it takes to get past that magic 62% number.  “Were at 60% with five in the pipeline” he said rather proudly.

The-50-foot-opening-300x192

The view of the lake from a passing car will be brief – the opening is reported to be 50 feet wide – not much more than a glimpse.

What Burlington now knows as the Bridgewater project isn’t something Paikin started and how it ended up in his hands is an amazing story.

Paikin was developing town homes for twenty years.

He was doing custom renovations, moved into high end luxury homes but “land supply changed the market” and Paikin could see that condominiums was where the growth was going to take place.

The day of the small bungalow market that resulted in the sprawl Burlington how has to contend with was a thing of the past.
The first project Paikin took on had 49 units –  then 101 units then a 134 unit  project – the progression was consistent. The 246 unit Vibe was followed by the 400 unit Mint.

Paikin focused on quality finishes and customization. He sees himself as “in touch with the market” and very much a people person.

Paikin is a big man – tall, imposing and available to anyone who wants to talk to him. This isn’t a developer who hides nor is he a man who suffers fools easily.

His office is in Hamilton, a stones throw from the GO station but his home and his heart is in Burlington where he doesn’t get upset at the profile the city has in the rest of the province – or the country for that matter.  He believes Burlington’s objective is to maintain and protect the lead that it has – and in the eyes of Jeff Paikin Burlington has a great lead over other cities.

The Bridgewater project consists of three buildings – all are part of the project Paikin’s New Horizons corporation now controls. The hotel will now be a Marriott – it was originally going to be a Delta and open for the Pan Am Games – that date got missed.

The project has been littered with missed dates – Paikin sounds confident that the breaking ground in January is going to happen.

Sales office Bridgewater

The buyers for the priciest condo property in town will be treated to a smash of a Christmas party – then the wrecking ball rolls in to level the space.

The sales office will be taken apart sometime after the Christmas party for those who have bought units.

How Jeff Paikin actually got the units is due in no small measure to the way the people at Mayrose Tyco think. In the agreement they put together with the Mady Group, the original builder’s,  there was a “reputational risk” clause that allowed them to back out of the agreement if the reputation of the builder was at risk.

Mady ran into some problems with projects in Markham, Scarborough, Waterloo, Barrie and Kitchener – and sought protection from creditors – Mayrose Tyco invoked the reputational risk clause and according to Paikin asked him if he would take over the project – which he did.

Prior to the call from Mayrose Tyco, Paikin was thinking about building a new home in Burlington. His wife wanted something near the lake, Jeff wanted something that wouldn’t require much of a claim on his time.

Bridgewater at night lit up

They will see this from Hamilton – architects rendering of the Bridgewater project at night.

He liked the look of the Bridgewater project – he and his wife looked at the plans and decided that would be home for them. It was going to be the perfect empty-nest home for him and his wife.

Then he got a call in January: did he want to build the project?

The original builder, Markham-based Mady Development Corporation, had run into financial problems with projects – Paikin took over Mady’s position in a development partnership on the 0.7-hectare, block-long property between Elizabeth and Pearl streets just east of Brant.

Paikin was now pumped “The design is so fantastic and the location is probably the No. 1 location in all of Ontario, if not Canada, as a place to live.”

Prices start at about $400,000 and climb to about $3.5 million.

Paiken now has half of the top floor as his home – all he has to do is get the place built –

The 22 storey structire that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city.  For the better?

The 22 storey structure that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city. For the better?

Paikin says the transition from Mady to New Horizon on the Bridgewater project was fast and seamless. Burlington Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward learned of the Mady problems one day and the next learned that New Horizon had stepped in.

The project has been deemed a “landmark” in Burlington’s official plan which some take to mean” “Any future development on Old Lakeshore Road or across the street needs to defer to the landmark and not overwhelm it.”

Deck of sales office

What a great place to make a sales pitch for a condominium that starts at $400,000

One hopes Burlington has a stronger position than that when they oppose the ADI Development at Lakeshore and Martha that is now before the OMB.

Riviera from front

There are people in the city with fond memories of the Riviera – wonder where the sign went?

The site, in what has been designated the Old Lakeshore Road precinct, was once home to an ice cream shop and the Riviera motel, which was built in 1964 and changed very little before it was demolished in 2012.

The approvals for the Bridgewater date back to about 2006 – as a project it was first approved in principle in 1985

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Transportation Minister explains what the provincial government is going to do with rail transit - catch up and keep up!

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 8, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Once the “love in” part of the evening was over – those in the room at the Royal Botanical Gardens were able to take part in a good discussion on what the province was planning on doing about transit in the province.

Transit - McMeekin tight

Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs is in the thick of transit issues as well – Ted McMeekin takes part in Town Hall on Transit

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon and Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs MPP Ted McMeekin hosted the event at which Minister of Transportation Steve Del Luca did most of the talking and the listening.

The stopover in Burlington was the fourth Town Hall type meeting Del Luca has held – 40-50 people in the room – close to a quarter of them bureaucrats of one flavour or another.

He told the audience that his mandate was to “catch up” and “keep up” on transit matters. While highways are a large part of that mandate – this meeting was about transit.

Difficult for a Burlington audience not to want to drift into highways when the QEW and the 403 cut us into pieces.

Del Luca pointed out that the government has committed $130 billion over ten years into getting a transit system that meets the needs – it’s amazing how these people throw around those big number – billions – millions.

An additional $31.5 million has been has been added to put a 15 minute – both ways service in place on the Lakeshore, Kitchener, Stouffville and Barrie services.

De Luca made a strong point when he explained the situation on the Barrie line: four trains leaving Barrie every morning and four leaving Union Station for the trip home each evening.

Which was Ok for people who just commute and stay in the city all day but for those who want to slip into the city for an early afternoon meeting and then head back to an office in Barrie the current service doesn’t work – those people explained Del Luca drive in and out – adding to traffic congestion and wasting a lot of time behind the wheel of a car.

The Transportation Minister added that getting 15 minute service has some hurdles to be gotten over – and the electrification of the system has its own problems.

Track ownership is also a problem – but Del Luca was able to leave the impression that he has a strong team and that they can learn to understand the problems and then find solutions.

What was refreshing was that Del Luca didn’t even try to sugar coat the problem.

Transit - McMahon - tight H&S

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon hosts a Town Hall on Transit and lets the Ministers do all the talking.

He made it clear that he wants to see the changes made within a decade and that to make it happen there has to be a change in the culture – the car isn’t going to be what it has been – both in the way it is used and in the way it is designed for the future.

The rail lines are going to be electrified – if we don’t do that greenhouse gasses will kill us all.

Everyone wants better service but the changes we need to make to provide that service will be disruptive – which boots the ball into the political realm. Del Luca’s trip to Burlington was to get a sense of what the public in this part of the world was thinking.

Something not usually seen at Burlington based event s was the participation of students from McMaster. All males and all appeared to be graduate level students – and they had good questions.

Del Luca, who represents Vaughan in the Legislature, pointed out that his mandate is focused on capital projects – this guy is building a transit system – all the bells and whistles on what happens when the transit system is in place is the responsibility of the municipalities that connect with those rail lines.
The only thing the Ministry does, explained Del Luca, is give the municipalities a portion of the gas tax it collects. Burlington got between $20 and $21 million last year.

There are Buringtonians who come close to swallowing their tongues when they see some of that tax rebate being put into infrastructure (roads) upgrades and upkeep.

The cultural change the Minister is working to bring about hasn’t penetrated as deeply as it is going to have to in Burlington – the city may be one of the last to fully understand what has to be done.

There were people from Burlington transit and transportation in the room – but they didn’t seem to be paying a lot of attention from where I was sitting.
There was a little bit of money for new ideas and pilot projects explained Del Luca. “We put $1 million into a fund for new ideas and doled it out in $100,000 grants. It was so popular and useful that we increased the annual allotment to $2 million.”

Milton got a grant to create an application that would let commuters use their smart phones to tap into their transit schedule – there was no mention of any application from Burlington Transit.

Transit Del Luca + Woodruff

Minister of Transportation for the province Steve Del Luca engages Greg Woodruff on the role of the car in future transit plans – both agree the car isn’t going away.

Aldershot activist Greg Woodruff engaged the Minister on the role cars would play in transportation. He pointed out that the car is undergoing a very radical change and added that research suggests there will be 40% fewer cars on the road within the decade – what does that do to your transit plans he asked.

Del Luca told Woodruff he didn’t think he was wrong and added that within the decade 70% of the cars on the rod will be automated.  Both men agreed that the car was not going to go away and it doesn’t need to go away – it will just play a much different role and will not dominate the way it has for the past number of decades

While transit was the focus of the meeting – land planning policies that make sense was a critical clutch point – and the sense in the room seemed to be that we weren’t doing all that well on developing those policies.

Transit - Rishia Burke + McMeekin

Ted McMeekin, a political activist who got into government to make changes talks with Rishia Burke, a staffer with Community Development Halton – an organization McMeekin got started with others many years ago. One could almost see the torch being passed.

Minister McMeekin, who wasn’t saying all that much, explained that he was coordinating a review of the urban sprawl we have to work with and what part urban boundaries play in transit planning.

There are transit advocates in Burlington who wonder why the Oakville, Milton, Burlington and eventually Halton Hills transit services are not rolled into a single service – York Region has done that very successfully.

At some point there is going to be transit service along Dundas and rolling up into Milton – whose court will that ball be in – Milton or Burlington?
Creating a smoother transition for transit users in the east end of the city who want to or have to use both Oakville and Burlington transit is another problem

When Burlington’s politicians got all hairy about transit and began taking the bus to work, and making sure there was a photo op to prove they had actually ridden the bus, ward 2 councillor Marianne Meed Ward took the bus to a Regional meeting – that isn’t something she will be doing again.
It has become clear to the government that in order for transit use to be increased – growth and intensification has to be along transit lines.

Transit - Vito Tolone

Vito Tolone, interim director of transportation for Burlington, did a lot of listening as the two provincial minsters did all the talking. Their comments seemed to tie into the Draft Transportation Master Plan Tolone is working on

Where are the transit corridors going to be in Burlington. Vito Tolone, interim Director of Transportation, is working on a Transportation Master Plan – a draft was put together by people from both planning and transportation. While far from complete – there were some pretty solid suggestions as to the direction the city could consider taking.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of enthusiasm in the response from city council on what was a well presented set of suggestions and ideas – whatever Burlington does – transit is going to have to be the core – and this city council just doesn’t have much of an appetite for more busses on the streets – all they can see is empty busses going by.

Minister Del Luca asked the municipalities to “work with us and get it right” He wants to do away with the artificial transit barriers and the artificial municipal barriers to get it right.

It is not going to be easy to do that with the city council Burlington has today.

The last topic to get some time was the HOT lanes that were put in place for the Pan Am Games. It may not be popular, but High Occupancy Toll lanes are becoming the flavour of the month in transit and transportation circles.

Ontario transportation officials are fine-tuning a plan to introduce the concept to selected highways in the Greater Toronto Area. Most Ontarians are familiar with HOV (or High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes that require a vehicle to have at least one passenger.

The HOT lane expands upon that, extending access to lone motorists — but charging them a toll. The government is moving ahead on installing high occupancy toll lanes. These are on the way but “we want to make sure we get it right,” he told the media.

At the Burlington event Del Luca said the move wasn’t intended to produce revenue but to free up capacity – the thinking being that if someone was prepared to pay a fee to drive in a HOT lane that meant their car would not be taking up space in the free lanes.

Del Luca told the Burlington meeting that the government had not clearly communicated what the program was, how it would work and the difference it would make.

He certainly got that part right. Many wonder just what the cost would be – and how much would be spent on creating the things – whenever government and technologically are in the same room – the costs just seem to rise – remember the mess and the expense with making hospital records electronic – gazillions – and it isn’t done yet.

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Transportation department tells city council that behaviour has to be changed if the city is to avoid consistent traffic congestion.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

When the draft of the Transportation Master Plan was put before city Council, which was meeting as a Committee of the Whole, Councillor Taylor commented that “it was a lot to take in at one sitting – and indeed it was.

The presentation itself took well over an hour with Interim Director of Transportation Vito Tolone working as a tag team with planner Kaylan Edgcumbe.

The gist of it all was that the intensification the city was going to have to undergo to absorb its share of the 1 million additional residents the Region of Halton was going to have to accommodate between now and 2031 meant a level of congestion “Burlington didn’t have much tolerance for”.

In surveys done by the Transportation department there were two almost diametrically opposed sets of comments – one from the over 55 set and another from high school students.

Using the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words the two graphics below tell very different stories.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT

Hundreds of students responded to the questionnaire that asked for comments on modes of transportation.

The planners and the transportation experts needed to know how high school students looked at public transit. They knew that the older than 55 set thought – getting them out of their cars was going to require crow bars.

Senior engagement

The Senior set didn’t appear to be ready for much in the way of change. Transportation staff made the observation that “Burlington doesn’t have much tolerance for traffic congestion” Without a change in the use of transit – congestion is about all we have to look forward to.

The transportation met with the principal at Charles Beaudoin school and asked if they would participate in a “bike” week program with the city. “The principal wasn’t all that keen on the idea at the beginning” explained Tolone “but he came around and we learned a lot – they also learned what they needed to know, which was that younger people weren’t married to the car to the same degree as their parents.

Bikes at Beaudoin school 2

Bike to school week at the Charles Beaudoin school saw a very strong uptake on bike use that held after the event. Can it be made an ongoing habit?

The week before “bike week” there were 60 students at Beaudoin using their bikes to get to school. During bike week there were 260 using their bikes. After bike week more than 75% of that additional 200 were riding their bikes to school.

Bikes at Beaudoin school

This is the kind of congestion the transportation department wants to see.

Tolone saw hope on the horizon. His research tells him that with intensification now an inevitability and no room to build additional road capacity – and no desire on the part of the city to do so either – other ways had to be found to move people around.

Expect to hear a lot of the phrase “complete streets” added to the “modal split” we are already hearing about.

Last week the province introduced that acronym HOT for high occupancy toll lanes – if you want to use those lanes intended for high occupancy vehicles with just one passenger in the car – you pay a toll.

The longer term objective is “behaviour change” we just don’t have the road capacity to handle the traffic that intensification will bring with it.

Councillor Taylor opined that the number of people the Region is going to set as the Burlington target will amount to 100 Stratas – a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but he made his point.

100Stratas

Councillor John Taylor said there would have to be an additional 100 towers the size of the strata on Maple Avenue – claims he has the data to back that up.

Strata is the name given to the Molinaro condominium of Maple Avenue.

The Committee of the Whole meeting was short two of its members – Councillors Dennison and Meed Ward were not present. Meed Ward was recovering from the concision she suffered when her car was rear ended.

At the conclusion of what was a long meeting city general manager Scott Stewart made the comment that “this is a web cast we will be looking at more than once”. Indeed they will because there was no clear sense of direction from the five members of Council in the room.

Transportation and intensification are words that are now linked together and we are going to hear a lot more about both in the years ahead. In order for the needed changes to be made behaviour is going to have to be changed and in Burlington that is no small matter.

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Would transit picking you up at the door and getting you to GO on time be enough to get you out of your car?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 31st, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Once we have a well-deserved summer, if albeit a hot one at times, behind us and the kids are back in school – hopefully there won’t be a teachers strike, the city will settle down to the business of becoming what it wants to become.

The agenda for the fall is pretty thick.

In the months ahead the public is going to read about “complete streets”; different “modes” of transportation and transit. Lots about transit and behavioural change.

The city has to get you out of your car. The city has to add thousands of people to its current population which means intensification.

More people, more residential development – and traditionally more cars. But more cars on the streets means more congestion and Burlington doesn’t have much in the way of tolerance for traffic congestion.

City council is going to have to buckle down and bite the transit bullet and slowly lead the public to using transit.

It is not going to be easy.

The current city council isn’t all that good on leading when it comes to hard issues. During the briefing council was given recently on the draft Transportation Master Plan there wasn’t much in the way of comment from Council members.

To his credit ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven lectured that a change is necessary even if the public doesn’t like the idea.

What are the options? How do we get people out of their cars?

GO parking wide view

Some of these cars sit in this parking lost most of the day – they are used to get a driver to the GO station in the morning and back home at night. Reliable transit would work better for everyone.

A look at the GO station parking lots offers a major opportunity. Why do people drive their car to the GO station and leave it sitting there most of the day?
Because for the bulk of these people transit is not a viable option – bus service has to be convenient if you want people to use it. And there is nothing convenient about the bus service and GO Stations.

A colleague who works at scheduling the delivery of products to retail locations explained to me that there is software out there being used by tens of thousands of organizations every day.

They know what the traffic patterns are and they know when their clients are open – they take all that data and work out a route for every truck they have on the road. If there is a disruption in traffic flow the software will tell them and the truck drivers are alerted.

So why couldn’t the transit people hire a couple of students to spend part of a day going through the GO station parking lots and noting the license numbers on the cars.

The city would then ask the Ministry of Transportation for the address of the owners of the cars and then send each of the car owners a letter asking them if they would use a service that drove by their house, picked them up and dropped them off at the GO station in time to catch the train they wanted to use.

This kind of thing is not rocket science – it is done all the time by the companies that delivery potato chips and soft drinks to convenience stores. They do it because they are motivated to do it – their profits and their jobs depend on their ensuring that products are on the shelves.

The city could easily instruct Burlington Transit to do a pilot study in one part of the city – The Orchard would a very good place to do a pilot.

GO parking with BURL sign

A combination of reliable transit service and parking fees to leave a car at the GO station might be the only way the city can bring about a behaviour change when it comes to how we use cars.

The city would use smaller buses that would take whatever route was needed to pick up people in front of their house. When the bus was full or it was time to head for the GO station to catch the GO train the bus would end the trip.

How would people get the bus? They would use an app on their cell phone that would call up a screen. Their address would have already been entered into the app as well as the GO station they traditionally use.

The user would click on one of the icons on the screen and request the service would go to the transit company and back would come a message saying what time the bus would bet at the door.

Easy ? probably I’m prepared to bet that the province would put up a large chunk of the cash to pay for the development of such an application – they have to get people out of their cars and transit is the best option.

I can’t see the “suits” driving their bikes to the GO station.

To make using transit more compelling – parking fees at the GO stations could be imposed.

Drastic – probably, but it is clear to the transportation experts and the planners that Burlington has to find a way to cut down the traffic.

If residents found that the service was priced decently and proved to be reliable they will use it – better to have a bus pick you up and get you to the GO station on time without you having to battle traffic congestion.

There is going to be a change in traffic – how the city goes about making it happen is something you want to make sure your opinion is voiced.

Related articles:

A transportation master plan

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Burlington Transit asking its riders what they want – expect to see the words better service in many of the responses.

News 100 greenBy Staff

July 27, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington Transit is conducting ridership surveys on various bus routes, at the downtown transit terminal and online at www.burlingtontransit.ca to help develop new service standards.

“We are gathering information from our riders to determine what is important to them,” said Mike Spicer, director of Burlington Transit. “These findings will be part of a report presented to City Council later this fall to help shape the future of Burlington’s public transportation.”

Transit - breakouts - Youth

A transit users conference held in Burlington had everyone who cared about transit in the room – except anyone from Burlington Transit. Now they are holding surveys to find out what people want. Go figure!

On-route surveying has been completed on Routes 1, 2/3, 10/20 and 80/81.

Remaining on-route survey schedule

Tuesday, July 28, 4:40 to 6:45 p.m. – Route 15

Downtown Terminal schedule

July 27 to July 31, 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

Online Survey

The online survey (click here) will be available until Aug. 10, 2015 at

Burlington has always been chintzy about transit;
intensification is going to add to traffic congestion;
transit is seen by the politicians as the answer.
Now they have to convince the public to use it.

While the city figures out what transit users want there is a Transportation Master Plan that is being created that makes it very, very clear that transit is going to play a very big part in how the city handles its intensification.

The Region of Halton is going to have to absorb a million additional residents – just how many of that million Burlington is going to have to take in has not yet been determined.

More people usually means more cars which in the past has been translated into more roads. But those days are over. Burlington cannot widen its roads nor can it afford to build any more roads and add to the traffic congestion we are already dealing with.

In the near future you will hear the words “complete streets” working its way into the language used by the planners – how the politicians get that message across to you will be something to watch.

The province has decided that it will try using tolls to change public behaviour on how they use the QEW. Burlington is going to make transit better and convince the public that transit is the more convenient way to get around town.

Smart Transit System has been in the works for
a couple of years.  Costing millions it will give transit
users up to date data on bus arrivals.

Burlington Transit will be launching a Smart Transit System (STS) in phases starting late Fall this year. The STS will improve how customers access transit information. Conventional transit users will be able to use an on-line trip planner which will provide detailed bus location information in real-time. As well, all bus stops are being replaced with new signs which will include information on the routes that service each stop and have a numerical code allowing passengers to access next bus arrivals in real-time through their mobile devices.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Mayor Goldring getting the hang of reading the bus schedule from his Smart Phone.

New electronic visual and audio displays will be installed on all buses to allow passengers to read and hear each bus stop location as it approaches.
Handi-Van passengers will no longer have to rely only on contacting dispatch during hours of operation to book their trips as they will have access to a new on-line feature and phone system allowing them to book and manage their trips 24/7. In addition, they will receive a programmed automatic call-out to let them know when their van is about to arrive.

Real-time bus data will also be available through the City’s Open Data feed allowing app developers to access this information.

Goldring selfy

The Mayor of the city took a “selfie” on one of the days he took the bus to work – it wasn’t one of his better moments – was it.

Of note is that Burlington Transit didn’t use the Insight Survey the city bought and paid a pretty penny for – which has all kinds of flexibility and allows for good follow up questions.  Transit is using the Survey Monkey service – the software that high school students use for their projects.

When the results are out we will have some idea as to how good the transit people are at asking questions and actually mining the data they collect.

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Transit union vote results expected to be available around 9 pm Sunday.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 12, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Later this afternoon and again this evening the members of CUPE local 2723, Burlington’s transit union will troop out to the union office and cast their ballots and decide if they want to accept the latest offer from the city.

If a majority decide not to accept the offer the union will be on strike at 12:01 Monday morning.

werv

Will the OPEN sign be lit up Monday morning?

There is a news blackout on just what is in the offer the city made so there is no clarity on just what it is the union is being asked to accept.

Rumour from the union side is that the city wants the transit people to pay for their uniforms. The city for its part wants the union negotiators to sell the tentative agreement to the union membership.

There are those who are very disappointed with the local union leadership and the difficulty they have had in convincing their membership that the best deal possible has been negotiated.

The city web site has a note on its home page that they are meeting with the union but there is nothing backing that up. The city web site is frequently behind the real news.

City hall comes close to shutting down after July 15th when city council meets for the last time until late in September, That just might change.

The Gazette will report on the union voting just as soon as results are available – expected to be around 9 pm Sunday evening.

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Figuring out what a Transportation Master Plan should recommend is no small task - and you want to get it right the first time - Part 2 of a series

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a series

City council got their first detailed look at the draft of the Transportation Master Plan.  They didn’t exactly cheer when the presentation was finished – it is going to mean some hard political decisions – which this council tens to do its best to avoid.

The draft plan however laid out a number of realities the city has to face.  In the first of this series we set out the players involved in transportation planning and the rules, regulations and provincial policy that impact on decisions the city makes.

With those limitations – and they are not insignificant, the transportation department is beavering away at completing the study and aligning it with the Official Plan in order to support and expand upon new and updated policies.

While the transportation department works on its plan – the planners work on the review and revision of the Official Plan and a team at city hall, plus city councillors develops the Strategic Plan the city wants to work to for the next four years.

Mobility hubs

What also has to be added to the transportation mix is what role mobility hubs will play in future thinking.

The transportation people, led for the time being by Vito Tolone, are doing a solid review of transportation trends in conjunction with our changing demographics, travel patterns and future community planning. Part of the team is planner Kaylan Edgcumbe.

They are Identifying the transportation facilities and services that will be required to meet the needs over the next twenty years and then develop the policies, guidelines, plans and actions that will guide day to day transportation programs and provide a basis for future capital budgets.

That is a mouthful!

What is NOT included in the TMP is a detailed analysis of specific intersections and roadways nor will it consider site specific impacts.  Detailed assessments will be addressed through project specific studies and may be recommended as a result of the TMP

What happens if the city doesn’t complete the TMP ? Well, all hell isn’t going to break loose but over time things will stop working the way people want them to work.

Day to day transportation programs would not be current with community needs or emerging trends; Capital infrastructure planning and budgeting would not be able to address evolving development trends and growth management policies.

Council and staff would not be able to respond to changing development standards and major planning considerations.

Regulating agencies at the Region, Ministry of Transportation and Conservation Halton would not be apprised of Council’s transportation vision and its preferred strategy for moving forward.

dfer

It sounded like a good idea at the time but there was too much that both IKEA and the city didn’t know about what Conservation |Halton and the Ministry of Transportation had to say about putting a large retail operation on the North Service Road at Walkers Line

Burlington ran into this problem when IKEA announced it wanted to move its location from Aldershot to the North Service Road at Walkers Line – that proved to be something that wasn’t possible given the views of Conservation Halton and the Ministry of Transportation. Tuck Creek was a significant conservation problem and the MTO couldn’t do what needed to be done with the QEW/Walkers Line intersection in time – which brought an end to any IKEA moved and put a significant dent in the careers of a number of people involved in the project.

Had there been stronger policies in place and a clearer planning vision, and better communication between the parties, a couple of years of grinding away at something that couldn’t happen might have been avoided.

Will a solid TMP avoid problems like that? Maybe – but what is clear is the need for a plan that fits into the requirements the province and the Region lay on us; that meshes well with the Official Plan and helps achieve the Strategic Plan – and is possible with the budget the city creates.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Council members have to stand up and be counted – Councillor Meed Ward wasn’t with the majority on this vote

For all those people who think our municipal council doesn’t have a tough job, that they don’t work all that hard and it is really a part time job – think again.

This is hard work that requires the ability to think at several levels at the same time. Every member of the current council is challenged daily to keep on top of it all. Some of them don’t do all that well at it either.

The Transportation Master Plan study will:

Identify transportation policies and initiatives that are working in other areas that could be considered in Burlington
Ask citizens – where do we want to to go – how do we want to get there and how do we develop a solution that meets the needs of all residents.

Develop actions and policies that will guide day to day transportation projects providing a basis for future budgeting activities

So what is Burlington dealing with?
The infrastructure we have was designed for the car – what we have was designed to efficiently move the automobile and that has left us with urban sprawl. That urban sprawl is no longer sustainable

Population auto trips

Auto trips are rising faster than the population – building more roads will not get us out of this spiral.

90% of all trips in the city are by car

Levels of congestion are increasing; Commuting time is increasing; Cost to operate and maintain the current infrastructure is increasing; City revenue are not increasing at the same rate as growth or congestion.

This is not sustainable.  And we cannot build our way out of congestion

Modal share 2011The way we move around the community is heavily influenced by where we live, work and play. The way we travel impacts our quality of life, our health and relationship with our community

The majority of the trips are SOV – single occupant vehicle

To reduce congestion on our roads other travel modes must be available for both local and long distance travel.

Length of trips taken

Can those 2 km trips be made using a different mode of transportation? Is the car the only option? The current transit service is not going to coax people out of their cars and there are limits to how many people are going to ride bikes.

In 2011 over half of all daily trips in Burlington were 5 km or less. These trips could be easily replaced with walking, cycling or taking transit.

Where our workers livr

40% of the people who work in Burlington also live in Burlington – that means 60% of the working people use some form of transit

Where we work

Most of our residents work outside of the city – that represents a major transportation challenge.

Is the answer to all the questions that get raised in the data we have?  Because there is a lot of data.

Part 1 of the series

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Crunch time on a transit service decision - will they walk or will they vote yes?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 8, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

What if the transit drivers decide they want to force their issues and walk off the job Monday morning – the 13th

Transit people will tell you that once a bus rider leaves it takes a long, long time to get them back.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Mayor explains using the bus schedule on his cell phone

Riders are forced to find some other way to get around – and they often like what they find – even if it costs more and they stay with it for some time.

There is a break in the trust that existed between the transit drivers and those who use the buses.
People who depended on transit had their lives significantly disruptedand they don’t see their transit driver as the friendly person who they met and chatted with every day.

There is a disintegration in public trust – something that is hard to quantify or measure but it is certainly there.

Burlington is not a transit friendly city. There are people who will be delighted when the bus no longer drives by their house making more noise than they want to put up with.

Those same people don’t like the noise the garbage truck makes but they put up with it because they want their garbage removed.

They are not transit users and they resent the amount of their tax dollars that are used to support transit – they see transit that is something for people of limited means – and they don’t see Burlington as a city of limited means.

This attitude is part of a particular demographic – it isn’t seen in the younger people – they adapt more easily and tend to have a different take on the damage that cars do to the environment.

It will be interesting to see what the transit workers decide to do and how city council reacts.

Mayor Goldring: Is there an event he won't attend?  He doesn't have to get out to everything - but he usually does.

Mayor thinking through a problem – transit is going to occupy some of his thinking this weekend.

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City of Burlington and Transit Workers, reach a tentative settlement; they did the same thing last week

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 7, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

A tentative settlement was reached today between the City of Burlington and the members of CUPE Local 2723, representing Burlington Transit workers.

The union will be holding a ratification meeting on July 12. Both parties have been ordered by the conciliator to respect a full blackout on any details of the settlement until the day of ratification. Both parties fully recommend the tentative deal.

Strike signThe city has known for some time that there were going to be problems with the transit union; a tentative deal, which was recommended by the union negotiators to the membership, was nevertheless turned down by the membership.

There is something the transit workers are really unhappy with.  Was the city able to sweeten the deal enough for the membership to accept?  We will know Sunday evening

The union has informed the city that if the tentative settlement is rejected by the union members, a transit strike would start effective 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

That’s cutting it close.

City staff are concerned that a lengthy strike will drive people away from transit – and it takes a long long time to win them back.  Critical; time for transit in Burlington

The community is encouraged to consider alternative arrangements for transportation in the event of a strike.

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Transit union negotiations about to get a little tense and sticky; council meets next July 15th and then wants to be off for the summer - good luck on that one.

werv

How much longer will that open sign be lit up ?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 6, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The telephones will jangle this morning – because there is a crunch coming on the transit union’s membership decision to turn down the city’s most recent offer.

Dean Manville, a CUPE negotiator brought in to oversee the talks with the city is trying to get the Ministry of Labour conciliator back into the city to take part in the next round of talks. Both the union and the city have said publicly that they want to continue negotiations.

The union has committed to giving the city 72 hours’ notice should they decide to with draw their services.

Here is where the rubber hits the road.

Mayor Goldring is usually very direct - no flim flam with this guy. But something went werong last Monday.

Mayor might have to call a Special meeting of Council during the summer if an agreement can’t be reached with the transit workers.

Council will meet this evening as a Standing Committee – and while the transit negotiations are not on the agenda there is nothing preventing anyone from asking to speak and nothing preventing the Mayor from speaking on the issue.

Whatever agreement is reached has to be ratified by Council. The offer that was put on the table was agreed upon by the city at a Special city council meeting June 30th – that offer was turned down so whatever the city decides to offer, if anything, will have to be ratified again.

The next city council meeting is July 15th – then they are off for the summer.

The tone from the union people the Gazette has talked to is not to let this situation simmer for the summer.

If the union tells the city they are withdrawing their services in 72 hours – expect the Mayor to call another Special meeting – we can see some vacation schedules being changed.

“Stay tuned”.

Background on where things stood earlier today:

 

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Burlington Transit workers turn down a recommended settlement; both city and transit ask that negotiations continue.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 6, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

In a surprisingly short media release the city announced that Burlington Transit workers, represented by CUPE Local 2723, Sunday night turned down a negotiated settlement reached by the union and the City of Burlington on June 30 and recommended to the members.

Bus station John Street lined up 1 side

Transit wil continue to operate while both sides return to the bargaining table.

Negotiations will continue, said the city and transit services will operate as usual at this time.

In its statement the union said:

“Our members have spoken and indicated the contract offer before them did not go far enough to address their concerns,” said Dean Mainville, CUPE national representative for CUPE 2723. “We are calling on the city to resume discussions with us and explore ways to overcome this impasse.”

“We have reached out to management and asked them to return to bargaining in an effort to work out an agreement that will be acceptable to members, and prevent a service disruption that will affect transit users,” added Mainville.

CUPE 2723 represents 130 transit workers, including drivers and mechanics.

On its website the city said: “We hope the union does not choose to withdraw its services, but if they do initiate a strike, we intend to do the best we can to meet our obligations to the residents of the city and our other non-striking employees.

During a strike, unionized staff will picket in certain locations near city facilities. It is legal to picket and to attempt to persuade third parties to support a strike.

It is also legal for non-striking employees and customers to cross a picket line, to report to work or conduct business with the city.

The rights of both parties should be respected. In a strike situation, local police work with the striking workers to determine a reasonable arrangement that allows the striking workers to temporarily delay the entry of vehicles. We anticipate responsible, respectful behaviour from members of CUPE Local 2723.

Should you attempt to come to a city building and you are unreasonably delayed or prevented from conducting city business as a result of picket line activity, please speak with one of the city’s picket line monitors (wearing an orange vest) or call Service Burlington at 905-335-7803.

 

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Strike against the city and the transit system are now distinct possibilities - picket lines around city hall?

News 100 redBy Staff

June 27, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

James Ridge Day 1

City manager James Ridge wants union workers to understand the issues before the walk off their jobs.

In a message to the citizens of the city Burlington city manager James Ridge, who seldom makes public comments, said on the city’s web site:

The City of Burlington’s bargaining committee is scheduled to meet with the union’s bargaining committee on Monday, June 29, 2015. The city is committed to working hard to reach a resolution that is fair to our employees and responsible to our taxpayers. If we are unsuccessful, the union has advised us that we can expect a strike.

To be very clear, the city does not want a strike. Strikes are hard on everyone–union members, management, City Council and, most especially, city residents.

Before you go on strike, we urge you to understand the issues and make sure you communicate your views with your union. We simply ask that you know what is at stake and make good decisions.

Burlington city hall with clock

Will there be picket lines around city hall?

That last sentenced had the thread of threat in it – well what are the issues and what is at stake?

Corporations are usually loath to involve media in the labour bargaining process – it muddies things up. The city is negotiating collective agreements with two unions: CUPE Local 44, outside workers and arena/outdoor pool operators, and Local 2723, Burlington Transit workers. Both unions have stated that if there is no agreement by the end of June, they will begin strike action as of midnight (12:01 a.m.) on July 2, 2015.

The unions maintain that benefits for workers over the age of 65 are written into the existing collective agreement but are not being paid. A staff member at a senior level who asked not to be named has said that the city and the outside workers are “not that far apart but that there is considerable distance between the city and the transit drivers.”

Burlington’s transit drivers earn considerably less than their counterparts in Hamilton and Oakville.

If there is a strike there will certainly be picket lines – will the inside workers cross those pickets lines.

Get ready for some disruption.

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Two unions, transit and outside workers, do mediation on the 29th - are in a position to strike on July 2nd

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 17th, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The labour picture in Burlington is getting that cloudy look.

Two CUPE locals have passed the “no board report” point and are now moving on to mediation which will take place June 29th.
If they can’t settle with the city at mediation they can go on strike July 2nd.

The view among many was that the outside workers would find a way to settle with the city but the transit workers are very far apart – strike is quite likely with the bus drivers.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met.  There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now.  We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban.  The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

The sign in the window might not say open for parts of July.

The unions have one issue which they both want to see some movement on – workers over 65 do not get health and welfare benefits – even though it is apparently written into the collective agreement.

Burlington has never paid those benefits to people over 65 and is apparently now taking the position that not paying the health and welfare benefits is a past practice and does not have to be paid.

The unions claim they have served a legal notice on the city and want the benefit, as it is written into the collective agreement, paid.

The size of the health and welfare package is lower for the outside workers than it is for other union locals, according to the union.

It sounds as if the outside workers are going to use the howl that will come from the public if the pools and splash pads are shut down for July to make their point.

City Council has standing Committee meetings on the 6th, 7th and 8th of July – so they can’t just leave town. If the Outside workers strike – do the Inside workers respect the picket lines?

Xcelsior BUS 009 FRONT VIEW

This bus might stay in the garage for part of July – and not because it is out of gas.

Wages are the issue for the transit workers. The union claims that Burlington transit drivers earn $7 an hour less than those in Hamilton and $3 an hour less than those in Oakville.

Putting money into transit is a hard sell in this city.

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Outside workers about to settle with the city; transit and firefighters have some arm wrestling to do yet.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 8, 2105

BURLINGTON, ON

The city has a memorandum of settlement with the outside workers.

A conciliator worked with the city and the unions and reached an agreement June 4th – the agreement will go to the union membership June 9th.

That should keep the unionized outside workers, arena/pool operators on the job.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Mayor looks at a transit schedule on a Smart phone – his hope is that transit will keep on working so that phones are needed to call a cab.

Things are not going nearly as well with the transit workers who are reported to be some distance apart from where the city sees a wage settlement going.
Both unions have gone very quiet, not returning phone call or answering requests for information.

Local 44, representing outside workers and arena/pool operators, and Local 2723, representing Burlington Transit, each recently held strike mandate votes and both voted in favour of a strike mandate. Both continue to negotiate with the city.

Fire 3155 Michael 3 alarm

Why are fire fighters allowed to even think of striking?

The city is also negotiating with Burlington Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 1552; that issue will get very sticky – the fire fighters have demands based on a municipality’s ability to pay which is giving municipalities across the province considerable grief.

“We are currently in negotiations with the two CUPE locals,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of Development and Infrastructure with the city. “Although each has held a strike mandate vote, this is not an actual action to start a strike. We are hopeful that we can reach a negotiated collective agreement with all of our CUPE bargaining units.”

 

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Transit advocates issue a short report with recommendations - will city council react?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 27, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Late in March, BFAST (Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit)  held a meeting to hear what transit users thought of the service.

Goldring selfy

Mayor Goldring decided to promote his personal use of transit by releasing a “selfie” he took while riding the bus to work.

Earlier in the year BFAST put out a challenge asking members of Council to use transit one day of every week for a month. Mayor Goldring took the challenge, got himself on the front page of a newspaper and was begging to be seen as a transit advocate.

Ward 1 Councilor Marianne Meed Ward took the challenge – she didn’t get her picture in the paper but she had some very useful data – it was not good news.

As community based events go the Saturday morning session went very well. BFAST issued a Summary of their findings – the full report will come out late in May.

Transit - seniors with Gould

The March meeting broke out into workshop groups – here the seniors discuss what works and doesn’t work for them.

The Forum attracted about 90 people with much to say about their experiences using Burlington’s buses. There in the role of listeners were four of the seven members of Burlington City Council, including Mayor Rick Goldring, as well as Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon. Not present, unfortunately, was anyone responsible for designing and operating the transit system – Burlington Transit.

Positive messages from the participants can be quickly told: everyone praised the friendliness and thoughtfulness of the bus drivers, who often help passengers in unusual circumstances.

Now for the negative messages, the same problems coming up over and over again. Because of cuts to service and frequent route changes during the last three years, Burlington Transit’s system is no longer convenient, resulting in a considerable drop in ridership. And two fare increases, one in May 2013, and another to take effect in May 2015, have made it unaffordable for many potential users.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Community Development Halton  Executive Director Joey Edwardh looks a little puzzled with the information Mayor Goldring has pulled up on his Smart phone

To illustrate the lack of convenience, consider the schedule on the North Service Road (Route 81.) The buses operate between 6:00 and 9:30 am and between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, on weekdays only. A person who uses this route asked, “What am I supposed to do at other times of the day? It makes it difficult if I have appointments to go to.” Or, she might have added, if you have to get back from work after 6:00 pm. Further, this route has no service on Saturdays and Sundays. This is just one example among many that show how inconvenient transit service is in Burlington.

The South Service Road is even worse: although there are many hotels and businesses, as well as McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business located along this road, there are no buses to serve them.

The most recent fare increase seems to have been designed to persuade (force?) users into acquiring Presto cards. However, for many people, getting a Presto card is not as simple as saying “Hey, presto!” For some seniors and young people and for people with limited financial resources the application process is not easy, and putting money on the card can only be done online or at the three GO stations and the Downtown Terminal. Also, the initial fee of $6.00 is enough to deter some people from applying. A young person said that Presto ought to be as convenient as cash in order for it to replace cash fares.

Signage at bus stops throughout Burlington presents a problem for many, especially occasional transit users. Ideally, every bus stop should display the route numbers of the buses stopping there and the scheduled times of arrival. The reality is rather different: bus route numbers and arrival times are nonexistent. You need a Ride Guide and the ability to decipher it. It was pointed out that signage for buses serving the GO stations is quite limited.

Transit wkshp - Smith + Crevan

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven appears to be making a point to transit advocate James Smith about how the service works. Craven did not take the BFAST challenge.

Burlington Transit’s Handi-Vans provide an essential service for people with disabilities unable to use the regular bus service. Unfortunately, as BT’s nine Handi-Vans cannot handle the current demand, users must book at least a week in advance. To deal with requests at short notice, such as necessary medical appointments, taxis should be used to supplement the Handi-Van fleet when required, as is the case in Oakville. This provision would be a valuable service, as well as the taxi scrip program which many citizens would like reinstated. (For many seniors who are frail, the ride on Handi-Van is not possible due to a bumpy ride.) It should be added that several people questioned why those who are legally blind and those with low vision are excluded from using the Handi-Van service.

Another issue affecting many transit users concerns buses no longer going into Mapleview Mall and Burlington Mall. The walk from the closest bus stops to a mall entrance is not pedestrian friendly, and it can be dangerous in winter conditions, especially for people with limited mobility and for those who use walkers and wheelchairs.

Many people pointed out that the bus schedules are too tight, making it very difficult for the drivers to stay on schedule. When a driver attempts to catch up after falling behind schedule, there may be a loss of safety.

All the shortcomings of the Burlington transit system mentioned above result from a common cause: serious underfunding of transit by the City Council. It seems that the guiding principle when making decisions about transit is to save money, not to provide a good service.

Transit - Paul sharman

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman making a point during one of the BFAST workshops. Sharman did not take the BFAST challenge

Recommendations

Spend more money on transit!

Provide more frequent service and extend the hours of service.

Improve the route schedules to make good connections at GO stations and other transfer points.

Post schedules with route numbers and arrival times at all bus stops.

Make Presto cards easier to obtain and to load.

Supplement Handi-Vans with taxis when required and reinstate the Taxi Scrip program.

Community buses should be labeled as such, and promoted.

The Downtown Terminal should be staffed during all hours when buses are operating.

Provide more bus shelters and make sure they are accessible for motorized wheelchairs.

The community meeting was a success;  a majority of the members of Council were in the room, what happens next?  The budget for the next fiscal year has been cast in stone.  The two members of council with the most fiscal prudence, Taylor and Dennison did not take part in the meeting – don’t expect either of them to move any money from their |”shave and pave” program into transit.  Councillor |Sharman is not likely to become a transit advocate any time soon.

Burlington Transit seem to have convinced themselves that the several million they are going to spend on technology to gather data will solve all their problems.

The transit advocates have a long road to travel.

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Burlington transit announces changes to routes 1 and 101; routes 2 and 3 and routes 10 and 20 effective May 3rd

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 2, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Starting May 3, 2015, several routes and services are being either adjusted or enhanced based on public feedback and expanding service levels.

Scheduling improvements focus on a number of routes to adjust timing and connectivity as well as expansion of the Community Connection service and Handi-van service which will be expanded later this year.

Bus terminal John Street 4 busses in-out

Tucked in behind the buses there is a small ticket office – the transit people talked seriously about shutting it down and sending people to city hall top buy ticket. Decisions like that – this one got killed – make one look askance when news comes out of the transit department.

“A transit system that is efficient and effective is good for all, regardless of your reasons for taking it,” said Mayor Rick Goldring “Many of these improvements and adjustments are a result of public feedback. “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance services to improve the system for regular riders, as well as attract new ones.”
Improvements

• Based on rider feedback and transit data, Routes 2 and 3 will change slightly so riders will no longer need to transfer buses to continue their travel from Route 2 to Route 3, and alternatively, from Route 3 to Route 2. This will begin May 3, 2015.
• Also beginning May 3, 2015, and based on rider feedback, the schedules for Routes 10 and 20 will be adjusted to improve on-time performance.

• Burlington Transit bought a new Handi-van vehicle to meet increased service requests. The new van will be in service later this year.

• The Community Connection service will be expanded to provide a network of coverage into areas north, east and west of the city with routes meeting at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre. The service will be provided midday Monday to Friday and is served by smaller transit vehicles that will allow Burlington Transit to make stops at the entrance doors of key destination areas, such as malls and community centres.

Temporary Route Detour

• Route 1 will detour as a result of an extended construction project on Waterdown Road. The timing will be adjusted on both Routes 1 and 101 during the project, which is expected to be completed in October 2015.

We will get revised maps up as soon as they are available.

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Transit riders say what they think about the bus service: it isn't all bad but they make it clear it has to get better.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 1, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

It was the third in a series of transit meetings – this time it was the riders who were going to do the talking – and talk they did.  They packed the Centennial room at the library and told each other what worked and what didn’t work for them.

Transit - MMW + Sharman + Sydney

Six breakout groups took part in animated discussions on what works and what doesn’t work.

What was not surprising was the number of positive things the public had to say about the men and women who drive the buses – and the number of drivers who give students a break when the coins in their pockets don’t equal; the demand of the fare box.

However – it wasn’t all good news.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Joey Edwardth, on the left isn’t sure the Mayor has it figured out. A newly converted transit advocate Mayor Goldring may have an issue he can run with.

Routes don’t work the way they need to work and the service is spotty much of the time.

When Bfast (Burlington friends for accessible transit) put out a challenge to the members of city council to use the bus one day a week for a month – Mayor Goldring took up the challenge and made a media event out of it. He has continued to use the bus since that kick off date for him

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward used the bus to get to a Regional Council meeting – she won’t be doing that again – close to three hours and $12+ in costs for what she says can be done in a fifteen minute car ride.

So far none of the other Councillors have taken the challenge – don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

James Smith, a consistent transit advocate said he wasn’t able to take transit to get to the meeting: “the bus schedule wouldn’t allow me to do the errands I needed to do and get to the meeting on time”.

Transit - seniors with Gould

The public meeting for transit users broke out into different groups – these are the seniors talking about what the transit system does for them.

Smith was originally concerned that the politicians would take over the meeting – that didn’t prove to be the case.

Councillors Sharman, Craven, Meed Ward and the Mayor were on hand. The Mayor has clearly gotten the message – he has a new understanding of just what the transit problems are.

Meed Ward isn’t that much of a transit user – but then she lives and works in the downtown core and can walk to almost everything she is involved in.

Councillor Sharman didn’t look like he was enjoying himself and Councillor Craven just worked the crowd.

There was no one from Burlington Transit at the event. “They were invited”: said James Smith.

Transit MMW talking to group

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward explains a point to one of the breakout groups.

The much touted Presto pass can’t apparently be easily loaded – students found this a problem. The city had to spend a considerable amount of money to get the Presto pass service operational – it wasn’t an option and it wasn’t cheap.

The Burlington Transit system has 51 buses covering 31 routes. Coming up with a schedule that meets the needs of the ridership has been a challenge and synchronizing the bus schedule with the GO schedule has been close to impossible. GO trains come and go more frequently than the buses.

Transit - shatrp lady grey hair + rings

A transit rider making a point.

One of the Bfast organizers pointed out that there is apparently no one at the transit office with a long, deep background in transit – and it shows.

Signage was also described as a problem;  especially when moving from the bus service to the GO service.

The biggest problem transit has is a lack of resources. The provincial gas tax rebate is devoted to transit in most municipalities – no so in Burlington. This city has a very significant infrastructure deficit and council has decided to repair the roads rather than improve the bus service.

And some of the roads are in close to desperate need of repair. The city’s namesake street – Burlington – is a mess. There are more people living on that street who drive cars and can complain than there are bus riders. And this city council knows how to listen to as few as a dozen complaints to make a change in a policy. They are certainly responsive – they need to work on being more responsible.

There is an announcement coming in May apparently on more changes to the schedule and in the not too distant future Burlington Transit will begin installing some technology that will provide them with real time information on how many people get on a bus and where they get off. It will cost millions – transit believes that with this data they can develop a schedule that will meet the needs of the bus riders.

Transit - group in breakouit

Everyone got an opportunity to tell their transit story – they weren’t all bad.

Doug Brown, a retired engineer has most of the information the city needs in filing cabinets in his basement. A tireless transit advocate, Brown surprisingly is not used or appreciated by many members of council or the people who run the transit system.

Brown does have a style that is unique to him – but he knows what he is talking about. He is a resource that should be tapped into.

Doug Brown, chair of Bfast, wants to see a bus schedule with routes that work for people and not the current bus route set up in place.  It doesn't work claims Brown.

Doug Brown, chair of Bfast, wants to see a bus schedule with routes that work for people and not the current bus route set up in place. It doesn’t work claims Brown.

The city no longer has a Transit Advisory committee. The one they did have consisted of had some people who should not have been at the table; they were uninformed, rude and interested only in advancing their personal agendas. There were a few that served well – just not enough of them.

Bfast is an organization the city might think of outsourcing the advisory role to – they have a wealth of talented, informed and committed people that can help make a difference.

Transit wkshp - Smith + Crevan

Councillor Craven on the right explains a point to a transit users meeting participant while James Smith on the right looks on.

There should be a group of people who use the bus daily serving as a sounding board for the people who run the transit service.

Transit apparently doesn’t have a Twitter account – it does have a web site that more than does the job; it’s better than the city’s web site.
Burlington is reported to spend 50% less than comparable municipalities – and it shows.

Bfast Transit group logoBfast will produce a report once they’ve gone through the comments that came from the several breakout groups that were created.   Expected to be completed by the end of April, it will be a solid, fact based report.

Getting the response it needs from city council is not a given – however, the Mayor now has a better understanding of the needs and the problem.

Can he swing the minds of his colleagues? Don’t expect to see Councillors Sharman, Lancaster Taylor or Dennison becoming transit advocates – their focus is on repairing the roads.

The public is going to have to howl louder to get what the city needs. The squeaky wheel does get the grease.

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The 2014 edition of Ontario's Sunshine list - Burlington has just over 100 people on the list; a lot of them are firefighters.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 29, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

REVISED:

THERE IS A PERSON ON OUR STAFF THAT WILL NOT BE GETTING A BONUS.

THE FIGURES ORIGINALLY POSTED WERE FOR 2013 – THE FIGURES BELOW ARE FOR 2014.  WHEN WE GOOF, WE REALLY GOOF DON’T WE?

$100,000 does bring out a smile.

$100,000 does bring out a smile.

The first figure is the salary component, the second is funds paid for something other than salary that was defined as a taxable benefit.

The people shown in red are part of the Fire Department.

Council members don’t appear on the list because a large part of their income comes from the Region and that is a different list.

For some reason, none of the people at the Economic Development Corporation don`t appear on the list nor is the Librarian.  No one from the Performing Arts Centre or the Burlington Art Gallery.

What is clear from this list is that public sector jobs pay very well.

The 2014 list is just a little shorter than the 2013 list.

 ADCOCK ALAN     Firefighter    $102,031.26    $483.84
ALDHAM JUDY     Field Services Supervisor    $111,009.49    $2,185.06
ALLDRIDGE BRIAN     Platoon Chief    $125,971.19    $649.80
ANTONIOW PHIL     Manager of Program Development, Budgets and Contracts    $114,881.79    $636.11
AXIAK ROB    Manager of Recreation Services    $102,451.31    $562.56
BAKOS MICHAEL    Captain     $108,367.48    $570.96
BARANOWSKI DEREK   Captain    $102,812.05    $514.29
BARRY PHILIP    Captain    $108,850.00    $570.96
BATTAGLIA MARY   Manager of Field Services   $106,085.34   $1,248.03
BAVOTA ANTHONY   Fire Chief $165,324.85   $2,974.19
BAYLOR MARK    Captain    $111,922.02   $570.96
BAYNTON STEVE T.    Captain    $111,754.92    $585.12
BAYSAN ERGUL    Senior Traffic Signal Technician    $100,847.25    $491.60
BEDINI CHRIS    District Supervisor    $110,226.37    $703.61
BENNETT RANDY    Manager IT Infrastructure and Operations   $117,482.38   $652.56
BERDAN MICHAEL   Senior Transit Operations Supervisor    $100,193.47    $458.04
BEVINGTON KIM    Captain    $103,733.66    $526.47
BIELSKI BIANCA    Manager of Development Planning    $136,058.28    $736.98
BIRCH CHARLES T.    Captain    $113,196.51    $585.12
BLACK JEFFREY   Manager of Field Services    $107,380.39    $3,169.47
BOYD LAURA    Human Resource Manager    $106,127.55    $595.79
BRILLON SYLVAIN    Firefighter    $100,768.89    $483.84
BURROWS TRACEY    Manager of By Law and Administration    $101,981.11    $11,207.00
CAUGHLIN DEBORAH   Manager of Council Services    $109,094.40    $587.86
CHOLEWKA CHRIS    Captain    $109,661.47    $570.96
CLARK CARY    Manager of Development and Environmental Engineering    $108,338.17    $592.77
COFFEY PETER    Captain    $109,134.34   $566.28
COULSON ANN MARIE    Man Financial Planning & Taxation    $131,771.98    $722.67
CRASS JOHN    Manager of Traffic Services    $106,951.19   $1,553.48
CRAVEN RICK    Councillor $100,722.85    $562.10
DI PIETRO ITALO    Manager of Infrastructure and Data Management   $119,020.45    $655.90
DONATI DERRICK    Firefighter    $101,411.97   $495.00
DOWD TIMOTHY    Captain   $113,714.92    $585.12
DUNCAN JOHN Transit Manager   $121,674.39    $680.72
DYKES RICHARD   Firefighter    $100,542.18    $509.16
EALES MARK Captain   $107,463.41    $562.64
EICHENBAUM TOOMAS    Director of Engineering    $132,494.20    $511.91
EVANS FRANCES      Manager Halton Court Administration    $106,003.66    $580.83
FIELDING JEFF City Manager   $163,343.09    $4,337.84
FORD JOAN    Director of Finance    $152,992.02    $845.42
FRYER E. TODD    Firefighter    $100,329.68    $509.16
GALEA KYLE    Firefighter    $100,919.65    $483.84
GILROY GERALD    Firefighter    $100,314.51    $485.36
GLENN CHRISTOPHER    Director of Parks and Recreation    $142,035.88    $758.76
GLOBE DARREN    Captain    $108,598.54    $570.96
GOLDRING PATRICK    Mayor $170,025.95    $2,927.50
GRANO FRANCES    Manager of Strategic Information Technology Service Delivery    $101,898.44    $568.61
GRISON GREGORY J.    Captain   $111,754.92    $585.12
HAMILTON SCOTT     Manager Design and Construction    $116,702.59    $642.75
HAMMER CHAD     Captain    $105,795.32    $544.74
HAMMOND BILL    Fire Training Supervisor     $111,519.22    $567.96
HAYES DENNIS M.     Platoon Chief    $124,167.54     $649.80
HEBNER PETER B.     Captain    $113,567.52   $585.12
HURLEY BLAKE    Assistant City Solicitor  $133,679.42   $649.80
JAMES MICHAEL     Fire Training Officer     $101,861.64  $570.96
JARVIS DAWN     Manager of Fire Communications & Admin $104,927.27 $575.94
JONES SHEILA City Auditor $129,085.03 $680.64
JONES STEPHEN Captain $106,570.42 $556.92
JURK ROBERT Senior Project Manager $105,669.95 $585.12
KELL DONNA Manager of Communications     $114,981.30    $638.52
KELLOGG GAVIN    Supervisor Golf Course   $108,587.82    $552.16
KELLY JOHN     Captain      $110,066.14    $570.96
KOEVOETS MATT    District Supervisor      $118,371.00    $1,142.13
KRUSHELNICKI BRUCE    Director Planning and Building    $159,392.67     $891.60
KUBOTA ERIKA    Assistant City Solicitor    $134,953.30    $652.56
LANCASTER BLAIR   Councillor $100,722.85   $562.10
LAPORTE N. JASON   Captain    $107,951.53    $570.96
LASELVA JOHN    Supervisor Building Permits    $104,601.68    $582.72
LEGG TRACIE    Manager Business Services    $101,413.14    $564.55
LONG MARK    Captain    $113,601.59    $585.12
MACDONALD GARY F.   Captain    $112,659.31     $585.12
MACKAY MICHAEL J.      Captain     $111,754.92     $585.12
MAGI ALLAN     Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives    $180,473.51    $982.32
MALE ROY E.    Executive Director of Human Resources  $180,372.37    $1,012.56
MARTIN CHRISTOPHER   Captain    $106,638.03    $556.92
MATHESON JAMIE    Firefighter    $100,887.23     $483.84
MCGUIRE CHRIS    District Supervisor    $108,192.88    $683.50
MEED WARD MARIANNE    Councillor $100,722.85    $562.10
MEEHAN DAVID    Firefighter    $102,019.98    $510.10
MERCANTI CINDY    Manager of Recreation Services    $113,924.30    $473.50
MINAJI ROSALIND    Coordinator Development Review    $101,438.02    $568.14
MONTEITH ROSS A.    Deputy Fire Chief    $145,953.17    $1,372.72
MORGAN ANGELA    City Clerk    $143,711.02    $770.03
MYERS PETER R.    Captain    $111,754.93    $585.12
NICELIU KENNETH    Firefighter    $102,254.95    $509.16
NICHOLSON J. ALAN    Captain    $111,754.92    $585.12
O’REILLY SANDRA    Controller and Manager of Financial Services    $110,567.13    $604.47
PEACHEY ROBERT    Manager Parks and Open Space    $114,401.18    $633.57
PHILLIPS KIMBERLEY General Manager    $185,505.87    $7,599.39
POLIZIANI MATTHEW    Captain    $107,805.24    $556.92
REID DAVID    Fire Prevention Officer    $101,295.09    $556.92
REILLY PETER   Captain    $111,754.91    $585.12
ROBERTSON CATHARINE    Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance    $149,458.02 $1,403.87
ROESCH GORD CHARLES    Fire Training Officer    $101,821.02   $542.88
SCHMIDT-SHOUKRI JASON   Manager of Building Permit Services and Chief Building Official   $133,681.16   $748.20
SHAHZAD ARIF   Senior Environmental Engineer    $102,105.76   $567.67
SHARMAN PAUL   Councillor   $100,722.85   $562.10
SHEA NICOL NANCY   City Solicitor    $172,124.38   $836.38
SHIELDS LISA    Assistant City Solicitor   $136,246.06   $651.90
SLACK CRAIG D.   Platoon Chief   $126,694.90    $649.80
SMITH CLINT     Platoon Chief      $125,523.38     $649.80
SMITH SIMON Firefighter    $100,300.17    $495.00
SPICER MIKE    Director of Transit    $129,920.15    $721.53
STEIGINGA RON    Manager of Realty Services    $112,646.26    $619.76
STEVENS CRAIG    Senior Project Manager    $103,459.71    $568.88
STEWART SCOTT    General Manager    $227,077.25    $9,381.94
SWENOR CHRISTINE   Director Information Technology Services    $156,493.35    $876.68
TAGGART DAVID    Manager Facility Assets    $112,157.40    $462.71
THANDI JAZZ    Manager Procurement Services    $107,953.94    $592.99
VRAKELA STEVE    Field Services Supervisor    $105,436.15    $1,920.30
WEBER JEFF    Deputy Fire Chief    $116,019.23     $7,670.64
WHEATLEY RYAN    Captain    $110,028.42    $570.96
WIGNALL T. MARK    Firefighter     $101,647.73    $509.16
WINTAR JOSEPH    Chief Fire Prevention Officer    $110,961.56    $621.60
WOODS DOUGLAS S.    Captain    $113,128.08    $585.12
ZVANIGA BRUCE    Director of Transportation Services    $153,951.49    $787.56

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Free breakfast Saturday if you get to the library on time and talk about your transit experiences.

News 100 greenBy Staff

March 25, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Now that travelling transit is about to experience a sharp increase in ridership – heck the Mayor takes the bus to work now – Burlington’s Friends and supporters of Transit (Bfast) wants to pull together people who have used transit and hear what they have to say about the service.

Bfast meeting March 28-15This is the third public meeting Bfast has held – their purpose has been to focus attention on transit in a city that hasn’t taken to that mode of transportation.

Bfast has had the view that city council isn’t really transit friendly – the Transit Advisory committee was shut down and some of the gas tax money the city gets from the province got put into infrastructure repairs rather than transit.

A newly formed transit will be known as Bfast - they intend to inform the debate on transit and insure the issue of transit service doesn't get lost in the Official Plan Review

The first Bfast event had Paul Bedford, a former chief planner for Toronto and a strong transit advocate spoke about Transit from an overall GTA wide Lets-Just-Get-On-With-It point of view.

The second session was a Panel Discussion with a City Councillor Rick Craven,
a VP from Metrolinx, MPP & Legislative Assistant to the minister of Transportation, Mike Colle, Burlington Green, and journalist Lorraine Sommerfeld

If there was ever a place to locate a transit terminal - that would be John Street where the only terminal in the city is now located.  Transit department is recommending it be removed and tickets sold at city hall.  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward isn't buying that business case

There was a point during the last term of council that the city looked seriously at the idea of closing the small ticket office – that led many to wonder how serious the city is about transit. If there was ever a place to locate a transit terminal – that would be John Street where the only terminal in the city is now located.

This third public meeting they are attempting to shift the discussion to make it user focused. Bfast wants to be able to take the experiences of those who attend the meeting and work them into a set of Good, Bad, Ugly bits that we can then package up into recommendations for how to improve Burlington Transit.

There are 50+ registrations including the Mayor, and Councillor Paul Sharman plus the city’s MPP Eleanor McMahon.

Share your experiences and what it is like for you riding the bus with Burlington Transit

Share your ideas for improving transit and special transit

Register at electronically or by phone –  905-632-4774.

Complimentary continental breakfast provided.

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Proposed provincial changes to the Planning Act might help Burlington transit and bring an end to five years reviews of the Official Plan

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Ontario is proposing reforms to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act that would give residents a greater say in how their communities grow and would provide more opportunities to fund community services like transit and recycling.

At some point all the data and all the public input gets placed in front of Burlington's Planner, Bruce Kruselniiki - who will issue a report and city council will make decisions.  Creating the downtown the city wants and needs has not been an easy process for Burlington.

City planner Bruce Bruce Krushelnicki will undoubtedly applaud the proposal the have Official Plan Reviews done every ten years instead of the current five.

The proposed Planning Act changes, if passed, would:

Ensure residents are better consulted at the beginning of the planning process for new developments.
Encourage residents to provide feedback on the future of their communities.
Help municipalities resolve potential planning disputes earlier, reducing involvement of the Ontario Municipal Board in local disputes.
Extend the review of new municipal official plans to 10 years, instead of the current five-year cycle.

Bfast Transit group logoIf passed the Bfast people (Burlington for Accessible Transit) will burst with Joy! – and probably have to have Pacemakers installed to still their beating hearts.

Burlington has always had a confusing relationship with transit – most people don’t use it – and council doesn’t like spending for a service that isn’t used all that much

Changes to the Development Charges Act, if passed, would:

Help municipalities recover costs for transit services and waste diversion.
Create clear reporting requirements for capital projects municipalities financed though development charges, as well as section 37 of the Planning Act related to density bonusing and parkland dedication.

Working groups of stakeholders will review and consider further more complex land use planning and development charges issues, and propose solutions.

The proposed amendments are based on input from across Ontario including more than 20 public workshops and stakeholder meetings held from October 2013 to January 2014.

More than 1,200 submissions on the land use planning and appeal system, and the development charges system were received during the reviews.
Approximately 200 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities use development charges.

Bus station 1

Province appears to want more public input on transit decisions – might mean crating a new transit Advisory Committee. We scrapped the one we had.

The announcement from the provincial government this morning are proposals that will have to be debated and it will take some time for them to work their way into the way business is done in the province.  If passed they have the potential to make significant changes in the way transit development gets done and the rile the public can play.

The question left hanging for Burlington on this one is:  Will we have our Official Plan revised and voted on before the province makes these proposals law?

Ten years between Official Plan reviews must have resulted in huge sighs of relief in the city’s planning department.

 

 

 

 

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