Transit plans show promise - the challenge now is to deliver while facing a tough budget situation

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 9th, 2020



Transit was showing some very impressive ridership increases; city council was impressed – it looked as if a service that was costing the city a bundle was in the process of turning a corner.

growth forecast

Ridership was growing – senior use grew by 40% +

The new Director of Transit brought a depth of experience to the job and knew the business of moving people better than anyone the city had running that service in a decade.

Then Covid 19 became a reality and for months the transit people didn’t see a dime – transit was free so that people could get to work.

The plans to look seriously at a fleet of electric buses is underway – but the kind of money needed isn’t readily available.

The transit people and council learned during a workshop that a transit fleet could not be a combination of diesel and electric – it had to be one or the other. The cost of running the two systems side by side was prohibitive.

Stoltr - Kearns - Nisan at bus money

From the left: Councillors Stolte, Kearns and Nisan at a traditional photo op.

Then along came a grant from the federal government for six buses – all diesel – looked like a step backward.

Tuesday morning council got a look at a transit five year plan that showed promise.

A brisk, smartly delivered presentation where transit staff had most of the answers at their fingertips covered the following:

Service Strategy and delivery
Mobility Management
Customer Experience
Travel Demand Management

Sue Connor at mike

Director of Transit Sue Connors run a happy shop that is creating a service the city is going to need.

There are challenges:The first step was to get people back to work and using transit. Then determine what is involved with an electric fleet and at the same time consider if hydrogen is a possibility.

CUTRIC (The Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium had been engaged to model the transit service to determine just what would be needed were Burlington to take the electrification plunge.

The first report from CUTRIC was a disappointment, reported Director of Transit Sue Connor. The distance between the stops was a problem.

Electric buses need to be charged and the locations of those charging stations is critical – and at a million a pop there were limits as to just how many Burlington could afford.

The current fleet consists of 63 buses scheduled to grow to 73 in the next four years.

Operating the system day in – day out is job one – figuring out where the growth is going to come from and how it was going to be paid for was job two.

grid concept

Arterial routes, particularly when arranged as a grid, are easy to remember and the roads used are better-known by the wider community, reducing barriers for new customers. The September 2019 route modifications have already moved in this direction, and the plan is to move in this direction for all future services. A grid -based system also allows for convenient transfers between routes at intersections, providing greater connectivity to more destinations than a single local route could. Where gaps are left in the network, alternative service delivery options such as on-demand transit services will be explored as a more cost-effective solution.

Besides new buses – transit was going to need a second campus with a larger garage to accommodate the vehicles. They are squeezed very tight right now.

Don’t leave home without it – and don’t lose it.

Don’t leave home without it – and don’t lose it.

The fare box – something that doesn’t get used anymore (do they even have the things on buses now?) are replaced by the Presto cards.

If Mayor Meed Ward has her way they won’t be needed either. She is of the view that transit should be free.

Connors had said to Council that she was meeting with the Finance people to go through the financial challenges later in the day. In a very telling comment Meed Ward said to Sue Connors: “Regardless of what Finance does, I’ll put it there.”

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman, who has never been a true fan of transit, has seen the writing on the wall. He said he was impressed with the data but that he was reading it a little differently than the Mayor and the rest of his council colleagues. He also said that he has seen three transit business plans – the “first two didn’t hold water”.  He is quite correct – the quality of the work delivered by consultants in the past was not very high.

Transit is going to need a lot of money.

Forcasted financial

Putting WiFi on the buses will cost $90,000 a year.

Driving the need for more buses is the fact that population growth is not being matched by any new roads – those days are basically over for Burlington. In order to get around people are going to have to use transit. The elected officials are going to have to deliver a service that is comfortable and reliable; making this happen will call for a major cultural shift.

Forecast operating

There are a lot of passengers who will use the bus at no cost.

Burlington Transit is going through a lengthy and detailed Business Plan that sets out much of what they are going to have to deal with going forward.

free seniorThe reality transit has to deal with was set out in the Business Plan:In September 2019, Burlington Transit introduced a new service model, based on a grid-based system and increased service frequency. The early results of this service enhancement showed that ridership had increased over 14 percent from September 2019 to February 2020, compared to the same time a year prior. When the pandemic shut down businesses and lock down began in March 2020, ridership dropped by 75 percent. The pandemic has identified the need to review the numbers and adjust the forecast.

Strong leadership at transit, a staff that is motivated and capable of finding creative and innovative solutions should get Burlington to the point where there is a system that people will want t use.

Can Mayor Meed Ward make it a totally free system?  And is it something she really wants to spend a lot of her political capital on is a question only she can answer.

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Private sector planner Glenn Wellings waxes eloquent over a transit station.

background graphic redBy Staff

November 29th, 2020



A small bus terminal on John Street that once had a recommendation from the Transit department to close the station that is the size of a standard classroom has had a serious impact on the way development in the downtown core took place.

The existence of the building and the designation it had, made it possible for the ADI Development Group to get their appeal of an application past the OMB.

The bus terminal that was now being called an MTSA came up recently when private sector Glenn Wellings talked about his boyhood days when he used buses; suggesting there might yet be a bigger role yet for the terminal.  Here is the way a planner saw the bus terminal meeting the interests of his client.


Private sector planner Glenn Wellings

The purpose of my delegation is to speak to concerns regarding the approach and recommendations with respect to the interim control By-Law study. I do have several concerns including modifications to the Urban Growth Centre Boundary so the transition policies however, Madam Chair given my ten-minute limit, I will restrict my comments mainly to the downtown bus terminal.

There is much…..been much discussion today and previously centered around the downtown bus terminal and several decades ago, the downtown bus terminal. I’m not sure if Council members will recall, some may not have been living in the Burlington at the time used to be located at Village Square, and that was probably about 40 years ago and the terminal at that time accommodated city buses, City of Hamilton buses, Gray Coach buses, Gray Coach is no longer with us, and also Go transit buses, and it served as a very important transit hub at a time when Village square was new, and transit was less of a priority than it is today, and how I know that is as a kid growing up in Oakville, I used to frequently take the bus between Oakville and St. Catharines. So the route I would take could be the Go bus along the Lakeshore Road and I would transfer to a Gray Coach bus at Village Square, and that Gray Coach bus would stop in Hamilton, Grimsby and on to St. Catharines, so it did at one time serve an interregional transit function.

I’ll fast-forward to today, there has been no significant investment in the downtown bus terminal. For many years, at a time when I believed the city needs to be investing in transit. It appears that these limitations and deficiencies of the existing bus terminal aren’t being used as a basis to establish updated land use policies for the downtown. A planning regime recommended by the interim control By-Law study seems to accept status-quo for the downtown bus terminal, so it doesn’t speak to possibly improving things, getting back to where it used to be and serving an interregional function. That’s not where the policy regime seems to be headed.

John Street bus terminal

Will history remember the impact the terminal had on the development of the downtown core?

So, the proposed policies do not in my reading support an enhanced role of this downtown bus terminal or even the potential of building something better, a new bus terminal and reintroduce into regional transit to the downtown. The downtown bus terminal has always had a different function than the Go station and the Go transit given the rail function at the Go station and the bus function downtown.

They’ve always had different functions so the typology being suggested and to support policies is really not much different than what we all know. Some may recall that the role bold official plan didn’t anticipate the potential for new transit terminal at 421 John Street and that’s parking lot no. 4 so, that was looked at previously.

The developed policies with no anticipated changes to the bus terminal or even looking at an enhanced role of that downtown bus terminal is not in my opinion long range planning. To me it is not consistent with the Urban Growth Centre nor its transit supportive or a reflection of the spirit and an intend of the major transit station area. Madam, I would like to ask for clarification on three areas and I believe Ms. MacDonald did provide clarification on one area but I just want to be clear of my understanding under the proposed policy regime, is it downtown Burlington will continue to be a Urban Growth Centre with a minimum density target of 200 people on jobs per hector and the downtown Burlington will continue to be a major transit station area and a mobility hub. I’m hoping I got that right but I would just ask for some clarification because there was some confusion and some of the delegations on that point.

Secondly, is Council likely aware the Mattamy application have been in process for more than two years and were filed under the current approved official plan and I would ask for confirmation through staff that the proposed policies are not intended to retro-actively apply to these applications moving forward. And you heard the delegation of Mr. Snider, he had indicated that there is Case Law and there are rules that the policies at the time of application are the ones that should be used to evaluate an application and there is much Case law on that point.

And thirdly, and I’m not sure the answer to this question. If the policies in the proposed Openna 119 are appealed, how does that reflect the timing of the new official plan? OPA, and I’m assuming that the official plan cannot be finalized and approved piecemeal without knowing what’s happening in the downtown, in the policy framework for the downtown which is a major source of the intensification that will occur in the city. So I’d ask for some clarification on that point. I’m not sure how that would evolve. And lastly, I would ask for written notification of any approvals of the OPA and zoning By-Law arising from this exercise and subject to clarification of those three points.

CLK: (Councillor Lisa Kearns) So you spoke about does the study consider an enhanced role of John Street of bus terminal with interregional long-range planning. So the section 3.4.4 transit network and demand does speak to the Burlington transit trips that do occur between Hamilton and Burlington. So I’m just wondering if you’re making statements that it hasn’t may be looked at the regional connectivity piece. I just want to know those things are in there. Are you aware of that?

GW: (Glenn Wellings) And I’m also looking at a little more broadly than that and may be if there is a better bus terminal, that it could be an airport shuttle service running from that. I think we all need to look at the possibilities of what the downtown bus terminal could be rather than what it is today.

CLK: Okay. So I’ll ask staff what the forward thinking long-range planning lens was applied to that. Thank you.

CSS: (Councillor Shawna Stolte – Chair of the meeting) Thank you. Now we have a question from Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

MMW: (Mayor) So just to your clarification question, if I may, there’s no proposed changes on our agenda today to the UGC or the MTSA.

That’s been covered several times so that’s out of scope that we’re dealing with today. Just so you know. So the question is around how we enhance the transit function really throughout the City, downtown for sure. This is a very transit-friendly Council and we have added Millions in our two budgets that we have done to transit. So my question for you is…. And Go transit, of course, is provincial. We can’t tell them where to put their routes, but should a Go bus come to downtown Burlington or we get a nicer terminal and one of the recommendations was additional shelters and so forth, will the downtown ever function the same as the Go Station with 15-minute service across…. Effectively across Ontario? Would you say there is a distinction, nevertheless between those two?

GW: The GO Service just keeps on getting better and better so it does serve a great function for the City. It’s to me the only way to get downtown if you’re going to Toronto.

MMW: I agree with you on that.

GW: Yeah, so the roles have always been different and I didn’t want to suggest otherwise,

MMW: Right.

GW: But I think we can do better than what we have downtown.

MMMW: Yeah, I think we can certainly enhance that. I think… I’ll save it for my comments. We agree there is always going to be a difference between the two which means there’s a difference in ridership and land use. With respect to the Mattamy proposal that you’re representing, you raised some concerns that I was just trying to take notes about how the policy framework that we’re dealing with today, the MTSA piece, would affect that property. Do you have specific policies that you’re concerned about would somehow impact that piece?

GW: No…

MMW: you don’t want it to be retroactively applied. So I’m just wondering….

Mattamy - 2082-2090-James-at-Martha-Perspective-768x641

The Mattamy development Wellings was delegating on at Council

GW: No particular policies. It’s more of a general approach to evaluating the applications. Mattamy invested in this downtown at a time where there is a different mindset. I am not here to throw stones at anybody. There is a different mindset…. There was a different mindset than there is now, they’re struggling with that, and they’re trying to figure things out. They’re following what’s going on. They’re frustrated. They’re angry and they are just trying to figure out what’s going to apply going forward and I think they deserve that clarification.

So creating policies to respond to an application that’s been in process for two years to me is grossly unfair and prejudicial and if that’s going to occur, then the Mattamy applications made it to go to LPAT because they can’t be dealt with fairly in this room and I’m hoping that’s not the case, that that’s not where they want to go. They want to work with the City. But I would hope that we could clarify which policies are actually going to apply to them going forward.

MMW: Okay. I will ask that of staff. But the…. Certainly the understanding that is throughout the report is that once we approve new official plan policies, they will apply equally to everybody. Nobody gets special treatment. So unless there are specific aspects of the policy, I think that would be helpful for us to hear, if there are specific things that you think are not good planning, then please, you know, let us know sometime between now and the 30th of January.

GW: and through you, Madam Chair, not to belabor the point, but I would ask that you get legal advice on that point.

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Council gets an in-depth look at what the Planning department has to manage in the next couple of years

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2020



It was one heck of a meeting, delivered in a workshop format

Angelo Bentivegna got to serve as chair; Jamie Tellier, currently the Interim Director of Community Planning, set out all the work the Planning Department has ahead of it. Councillor Stolte learned why zoning bylaw reports are numbered the way they are and city manager assured council that the 22 people that have to be added to the planning department staff will not all be taken on in one year – building the staff compliment will take about five years.

Angelo as chair

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna is in the Chair

Tellier has a delivery style that is a delight to hear – he laughs at the few mistakes he makes and chuckles frequently when he is explaining something. He is the kind of person who really puts the J in Joy. He used a number of slides to get his message across.

Wk Dev activity

The numbers startled several of the Councillors – there was more to come.

Tellier started out by telling Councillor that with the Scoped Review of the Downtown portion of the Official Plan completed and the Interim Control Bylaw in place until all the appeals at that level are completed, the planners now get on with the real job of growing the planning department so that it can cope with the work that is ahead of it.

Tellier set out the organizational structure that is in place with three different working groups set out in the graphic below.

functional design

Council has always believed that development should pay for the work the planning department has to do.  A consultant has been hired to do a Planning Application Fee Review; that report is due sometime in November.

Once full cost recovery is in place the planners will be able to bring in the staff they will need.

Tellier didn’t even try to hide his excitement over just how big a deal the passing of the Official Plan earlier in October was.  “It was the end of a very long journey,” he said.

The next phase of that journey will take place at the Region on Wednesday (today) where the matter of the Urban Growth Boundary will be reviewed as well as the boundaries for what used to be called transportation hubs. They are now described as Major Transit Service Areas. (MTSA)

Wk ugc mtsa

Urban Growth and transportation – residential housing locations will be debated at the Region on Wednesday.

The John Street bus terminal that was once called an MTSA has been deemed to be just a bus terminal – which is not defined in the the Planning Act and therefore not a concern.

At the Regional Council meeting Mayor Meed Ward expects to be vindicated for her long held position that the John Street bus terminal designation be removed.

There were those in Burlington who said this would never happen.  They were wrong.

Burlington will have three MTSAs: Burlington GO station; Aldershot Go Station and the Appleby GO station.  Boundaries have been established for all three but have yet to be made final. These MTSA’s are where the growth in residential housing is to take place.

The Gazette will report on what takes place at the Regional Council meeting in detail.

A draft version of the Regional review of the Burlington Official Plan is expected early in November.  Council will go over that document – send its comments back to the Region after which the city will have an Official Plan that will be appeal-able at LPAT.

While all this is taking place there is a Land Use Study being done by Dillon that the city expects to see in November.

The Region is also doing a phased Municipal Comprehensive Review as part of its Official Plan Review.  The MTSA and UGC questions are part of that process.

Tellier took some delight in pointing out that the fist change to an Official Plan that is yet to be fully Official is on its way.  He added that all this is very complex and can be confusing.

The work being done on what were originally known as Transportation hubs, now called MTSAs, will be referred to as Area Specific Plans. That work was started in 2017 and paused in 2019 and has now become part of the work plan for which the city is going to have to hire as many as 22 additional staff.

Tellier and City manager Tim Commisso stressed that these jobs would not be filled in the immediate future and that when they are filled the work they do will be paid for by the fees collected from the developers.  The developers will of course add those fees to the cost of the housing they build.

The Planning Department and the Office of the City Solicitor have both submitted their budget requests.

Tellier spent most of the two hours explaining the work the Planning department now had to take on.

There is to be a community housing strategy.

There is to be a review of heritage sites in the downtown core.

WK urban design

There are Guidelines for everything now.

There is the Urban Design thinking, which Tellier described as “the glue” that keeps everything together.

There is a Pre-building permit process that is being put in place – this was intended for individuals who want to build a deck or install a swimming pool who don’t have the experience or skills to work their way through the way city hall works.  The intention is to have a single person point of reference.  This is covered by the Service Review Study that has taken place.

COVID has forced the city to find a better way of getting documents filed.  Developers would come in with boxes and boxes of reports; now everything comes digitally.

Site Planning co-coordinator Jamie Tellier explans what is going to be built whereon the JBMH campus.

Jamie Tellier explains what is going to be built where on the Joseph Brant Hospital campus.

Tellier explained that Planning has had to lean heavily on Information Services for both direction and support.

The Core Commitment is due for a serious review as well.

Tellier gave some insight into the complexity of the work to be done.  Much of it involves liaising with legal, roads, transit, transportation and community planning.

In summing up, Tellier cheerfully said: That’s it!

Following all this is going to be a challenge.

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Residents invited to take part in high powered panel to discuss city Integrated Mobility Plan

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 7th, 2020



Residents are invited to participate in yet another free virtual event on the City’s Integrated Mobility Plan.

The City of Burlington is inviting residents to register for the upcoming free ZOOM event on the City’s Integrated Mobility Plan. Learn more about the commencement of the Integrated Mobility Plan study in this virtual facilitated panel discussion on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Join the virtual panel discussion with industry leaders where we’ll explore:

• the future of mobility,
• opportunities and challenges related to public health and the environment,
• social impacts of transportation and
• how planning for a multi-modal transportation network will shape how we’ll get around over the next 25 years.

Panel Participants
Moderator: Mary Rowe, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute
Dr. Dianne Saxe, Environmental and Climate Lawyer
Dr. Amed El-Geneidy, Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill
Robin Mazumder, Urban Neuroscientist, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Waterloo
Nancy Smith Lea, Director, The Centre for Active Transportation
Todd Litman, Founder and Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan
Integrated Mobil PlanWork on Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan is underway. The plan will be built around eight pillars which, when implemented, will result in a new era of transportation that:

• Provides a wide range of options for getting around regardless of age, means or ability, including walking, cycling, public transit and automobiles
• Uses compact modes of travel like buses, bicycles and walking to efficiently move larger number of people
• Is well connected to transportation systems in surrounding regions
• Offers fast, reliable and more frequent transit
• Features improved facilities and safety for cyclists and pedestrians

The eight pillars of integrated mobility are:

1. Align land use and transportation
2. Connected mobility
3. Healthy and safe
4. Moving people efficiently
5. Managing congestion
6. Sustainability
7. Affordability
8. Innovation and integration

For more information about Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan and to register for this event, please visit

Kaylan Edgexxx

Kaylan Edgecumbe, Manager of Integrated Mobility Transportation Services

Kaylan Edgecumbe, Manager of Integrated Mobility Transportation Services explains that “Over the next 25 years, the City of Burlington is going to grow in its urban areas and we need to provide people with choices on how they will move through our city. It is important we design and build a transportation model that will support people of all ages and abilities with options like walking, cycling and transit.

“Building more roadways is no longer sustainable and this integrated mobility work will have a great impact on our communities and climate change for future generations.”

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Climate Change - Part II: Responding to the Problem - 2020 Speech From the Throne



background graphic greenBy Ray Rivers

September 25th, 2020



Part 2 of a 3 part series:

In 1976 the World Meteorological Organization warned of a very significant warming of global climate. In 1992 the UN held an Earth Summit in Rio in which climate change became the major topic. In 1997 the world agreed on the Kyoto Protocol, under which wealthier nations would commit to measured reductions and poorer nations would receive help to reduce theirs.

So what happened? Well, Bush and Harper pulled out of Kyoto and Trump is pulling out of the Paris agreement, the latest effort at global action. The oil industry, which had been studying and must have known the effects of their products on the earth’s climate since the 50’s, engaged in a massive dis-information campaign to challenge the science around global warming.

GHG emmissions chart

This was the target – how are we doing so far?

And the oil and gas sector, and their ideological entourage of right wing politicians, were successful. As late as 2015 less that half of all Americans believed that climate change was a serious problem and a year later they elected a bon fide climate change denier as president. The industry pulled a page out of the tobacco companies playbook for deception, denial and mis-information. Unlike the tobacco giants, however, they have yet to face their day in court.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the most part are either carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (natural gas). Methane is a very powerful GHG, upwards of 30 times more effective than CO2, but it is relatively short lived compared to CO2, which can last for hundreds of years.

Methane emissions can be natural as from wetlands, landfill and sewage facilities, melting permafrost, or released as a byproduct of farming from fertilizer or meat production

Methane emissions also come from the extraction, production and transportation of fossil fuels, primarily natural gas. And, along with coal and oil, total fossil fuels make up as much as three quarters of all greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted to the atmosphere. And since the industrial revolution we have increased the carbon in the atmosphere by 30% – an amount which has been increasing just about every year.

GG throne spech Sept2020

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivers the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa.

So what are we doing about this now? On Wednesday the Governor General read a speech from the throne outlining the federal government’s aspirations and plans for legislation they will be introducing. The throne speech is directional, devoid of specific and detailed plans. And this speech for the most part was just a reiteration of last fall’s Liberal election campaign promises, but it made the point that attention to climate change will be one of the four cornerstones of Liberal policy going into the future.

The government promised to create thousands of jobs by retrofitting homes and buildings. It promised to make zero-emissions vehicles and public transit more affordable. It will maintain its carbon pricing policy, subject to a favourable Supreme Court ruling on it’s constitutionality. It will move to exceed its 2030 Paris emission goals. It will make meeting the goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 the law of the land.

There was a promise to make Canada a world leader in clean technology by launching a fund to attract new investments in zero-emissions products and cutting corporate taxes in half for those companies. The speech noted that Canada already has the natural resources needed for zero-emissions vehicles and batteries, such as nickel and copper.

A Clean Power Fund will connect surplus clean energy to regions that are transitioning away from coal. And the government will uphold campaign promises to ban single-use plastics by 2021, protect a quarter of Canada’s land and oceans in five years and plant two billion trees by 2029.

Energy was only mentioned twice and the government was almost silent on any goodies for the fossil fuel industry, a marked change from previous years. There was no mention however, that the feds will finally end the subsidies that flow to that sector – something they have been under pressure to do for at least a decade.

Will this be enough when it come to combating Canada’s contribution to climate change? Probably not, but it is the most forward looking set of environmental commitments since former PM Brian Mulroney championed sustainable development back in the late eighties. And unless the NDP or Bloc decide to support the government on the upcoming non-confidence vote we will all be in an election, just as we move into Canada’s second COVID wave.

Erin Otoole

Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons Erin O’Toole

Currently COVID quarantined Conservative Leader O’Toole didn’t spell out his objections, other than mentioning his concern with the prospective price tag. And there is no way he can politically support a program which doesn’t promise more oil extraction and pipelines for the west. Much like former PM Harper and leader Scheer, he is captive to the fossil fuel barons and their supporters in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Trudeau noted that electric vehicles and their batteries will soon be manufactured in Canada, primarily at Ford in Oakville and Windsor, to get drivers out of the gas burners. But the UK is going further, moving to ban the sale of all petroleum powered personal vehicles by 2030. And Norway will be doing that by 2025. Banning the sale of new carbon powered vehicles would be a far more effective policy than even the federally mandated carbon tax.

Absent from Trudeau’s speech was something about the residential and commercial use of fossil fuels in heating and cooking. A ban on sales of gas appliances for new homes and business would have been a measured step to reduce our carbon footprint. And one only hopes that somebody will ban those – so popular they’re out of stock – backyard propane heaters which mostly just heat the outdoors.

It would be fair to say that this throne speech really only addresses the proverbial tip of the fossil fuel iceberg (apologies for that oxymoronic metaphor). But it is a good start and reinforces the results of the last election. Canadians everywhere except the prairies want Canada to move into the post fossil fuel era.

And that is the achilles heel for Mr. O’Toole, the new leader of Conservative party. Despite moving with great speed to modernize existing Tory policy positions, he can’t help but try to keep the separatist Wexit movement from eating up his petro-country base. That political entity has recently rebranded as the Buffalo party, and O’Toole must be praying that like the four legged buffalo they too will almost disappear.

Background links:

How Much Warming –    Global Warming –    EV’s –

Oil knew about Climate Change –      Cows

Ray Rivers writes frequently on environmental matters


Part 1.

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Did the federal and provincial funding kill the hope for an electric transit fleet ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 10th 2020



When funding is given to a municipality it rarely comes as a surprise.

More often than not the city and the funding body work with the municipality work out what is available and what it can be used on.

The Member or in Burlington’s case the Members of Parliament are heavily involved.

MMW at transit funding Sept 8

Mayor Meed Ward leading the announcement of new transit equipment. She had them dancing about the funding before they all went home.

Thus the decision to lay millions of dollars on the city is something that was worked out between the federal government, the province and the city. The Region had nothing to do with this one.

The question that popped into my mind was: What does this mean to any electrification of the Burlington Transit fleet.

Every bit of professional advice Director of Transit Sue Connor got was that it was not possible to operate a fleet that was electric AND diesel. Not with the money that is available to Burlington transit. Everything about electric is different.

You have to go all in if you are going electric.

The charging stations needed to ensure that the bus batteries don’t fail are a million dollars each. It looked as if Burlington was going to need two of them.

Also on the table was the use of nitrogen as the propellant. There is a very strong argument for nitrogen over electricity.

Sue Connor at mike

Director of Transit Sue Connor

Sue Connor brought in a speaker who took council through the nitrogen argument explaining that Canada was at that time a bit of a leader in applying the use of nitrogen to transit.

Adding 12 diesel buses to the fleet does help Connor in meeting the demand that she hopes will come back.

Just before the covid shutdown took place transit was reporting double digit rider increases.

How quickly that ridership returns is an unknown at this point.

The 12 new 40 foot buses and the five conventional buses to replace vehicles in the fleet now are to be acquired over a three year period.

Perhaps Connors can hold getting those buses and make them electric when she does purchase.

Connor, AVK and Gould - bus money

Director of Transit Sue Connor looks on while the political set announce that she is going to get 17 new buses over a three year time frame. None were to be electric – does this kill her dream of an all electric transit fleet?

When Sue Connor was brought on board she made big changes at transit. There are people on staff there now who moved from other city departments to work at transit.

Connors has made the necessary changes; prior to her arrival there was some pretty incompetent leadership.

At one point a former Director of Transit had suggested that the terminal on John Street be closed and that bus tickets be bought at city hall (which closed at 4:30) or at local convenience stores around the city.

Problem was none of the convenience stores wanted to be bothered.

A lot of really stupid decisions were made before Connors took the wheel. Let’s hope that the senior levels of government that made the funds available have not killed the idea of an electric fleet for Burlington Transit.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

What makes politicians dance: a funding announcement.  Watch them do it.

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Developer asking the city to put the building of a transit shelter on hold until the construction is complete.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2020



It has been a very bumpy ride for the Molinaro Group and their Paradigm Development on Fairview.

They were the first developer to propose a development alongside the GO Train tracks.

They were one of the first developers to hold a community meeting to hear what residents thought of their development before it went to the Planning department.

The development was to be done in two phases. The first phase has been completed and the company wants to proceed with the second phase.

Paradigm -3 from front

The three buildings on the North side are basically completed. The developer now wants to begin with phase 2 and learns that a bus shelter is to be built at the edge of where the final two buildings will be erected.

They got caught in the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) that put everything in the Urban Growth Centre on hold for what was originally going to be a year. They hadn’t done anything wrong – the agreement with the OMB that approved the development required them to go back to the city for specific site plan approval for the second phase.

It was a technical point that would not have been an issue if the ICBL had not been put in place – they would have shovels in the ground.

As the Molinaro Group gets ready to begin work on phase 2 they learn that the city wants to install a transit shelter right in front of the development site.

Most people would say: What dumb idea. The Planning Consultant for the Molinaros, Ed Fothergill, delegated to Council earlier in the month explaining the situation. Common sense should have prevailed.

North side from GO platform

The Paradigm development seen from the Burlington GO station platform.

The Molinaros had no problem with the transit shelter – once the development was completed it would add value to the units – having a bus stop right outside the building you live in would be a convenience.

For reasons that aren’t clear yet – the planning people didn’t see it that way.

The Molinaros have said they could move the transit shelter – put it in storage and put it back when the development is complete.

They see it as a hindrance to the trucks that will be entering the site during the construction phase and hazardous to pedestrians waiting for a bus.

The site is right next door to the GO Station where buses come and go on a regular basis.

One would have thought this would be a no-brainer.

Vince Molinaro will be delegating to city council on Monday to see if he can untangle the mess and let some common sense prevail.

The Molinaro consultant has told Council that they will have to oppose the building of the transit shelter at this point.

Working with city hall isn’t supposed to be this hard or time consuming.

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Inconvenience while eastern part of New Street is resurfaced - possible internet disruption.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 3rd,2020



More grief in store of those who depend on or live near New Street.

The final phase of the renewal of the street – from Walkers Line to Burloak where resurfacing is to be completed.

The City of Burlington is making improvements to New Street as well as Shane Court, Patrick Place and Bower Court.
The work to be done is extensive. All the details are set out below.

New street - being rebuilt

New Street west of Walkers Line was done more than a year ago.

The biggest concern for many might be the disruption to home internet or telephone service which may occur. The city is aware of the heightened concern with respect to families who are working from home and has raised this concern with utility companies and their need to react quickly to disabled services. Our goal is to have affected internet connections repaired by the utility companies within 24hrs of an issue occurring. The contractor typically contacts the utility company, however if you lose service, please feel free to contact us.

The City of Burlington and Halton Region are working with the contractors to make sure this work is done in a safe and timely way.

This construction site is managed by Associated Paving Ltd (APL). It is APL’s Health and Safety Policies and Procedures that will govern the job site. City of Burlington staff, Halton Region staff and all other consultants that go to the project site will follow APL’s policies for onsite health and safety.

Project Contacts
Inquiry/Concern Contact Contact/Road construction inquiries
Jason Forde
Construction Inspector

All other inquiries

Marc Daffre
Contract Administrator

June 2020 Project Scope
New Street – Walkers Line to Burloak Drive

• Resurfacing
• Base repairs as required
• Curb and sidewalk repairs as required
• Bus stop landing pad improvements
• Minor drainage improvements
• Pavement markings
New Street at Walkers Line (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Remove traffic island north east corner
• Renew traffic signal
New Street at Longmoor (in addition to the above noted works)
• Widen Longmoor Drive to accommodate right turn lane
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Belvenia Road (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Shoreacres Road (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Appleby Line (in addition to the above noted works)
• Full depth asphalt replacement
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Timber Lane (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Adams Street (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street west of Wedgewood Drive (in addition to the above noted works)
• New Street widening to extend centre turn lane
New Street at Hampton Heath Boulevard (in addition to the above noted works)
• New Street widening to create centre turn lane
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
• Minor traffic signal improvements
New Street at Amanda Crescent (in addition to the above noted works)
• New Street widening to create centre turn lane
New Street at Burloak Drive (in addition to the above noted works)
• Pedestrian accessibility improvements
Shane Court
• Full depth asphalt replacement
• Curb repairs as required
• Minor drainage improvements
Patrick Place and Bower Court
• Asphalt resurfacing
• Curb repairs as required
• Minor drainage improvements

Project Schedule and Temporary Lane Restrictions
Construction Start: May 2020
Construction Completion: November 2020
New Street works including the road widenings, curb and sidewalk repairs as well traffic signal improvements will be completed weekdays during daytime hours. The removal and replacement of the asphalt surface on New Street will be completed at night.

Work on Shane Court, Patrick Place and Bower Court will be completed weekdays during daytime hours.

The roadworks will progress from east to west over the project duration.

Traffic signal work will be completed in advance of the roadworks.

Single lane restrictions will be in place in the area of the active work.

Sidewalks will be closed where work is being undertaken.

Access to Businesses
Vehicle access to and from businesses will be maintained. Where a business has two driveways, one may be closed temporarily when work is being carried out in the immediate area.

Access to Your Residence
Vehicle access to and from your residence may be affected during normal construction hours, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Driveways will be temporarily closed when work is being carried out in the immediate area.

Burlington Transit
This project will include upgrading most of the bus stops between Walkers Line and Burloak Drive.
During the construction, Routes 4, 10 and 25 will be impacted with possible delays and stops may be temporarily inaccessible or moved. Signage will be installed at all affected bus stops.

Lawn Irrigation System
If you have a lawn irrigation system where a curb and sidewalk are to be replaced, please disconnect and remove any sprinkler heads within the City’s road allowance. Please flag all other irrigation heads.

You may experience some minor vibration in your home during construction. We recommend you remove small, light objects from shelving in your house.

Waste Collection
Please continue to put your garbage and recycling out on the usual day. It is the contractor’s responsibility to move your bags and containers to a location that can be reached by the waste collection vehicles and return your containers. To help the contractor, please mark your house numbers on your garbage cans and recycling bins.

For more information, please contact:
Bob Jurk, C.E.T.
Senior Project Manager, Design and Construction
Capital Works Department
905-335-7600, ext. 7682

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Province reduces the number of essential services that can operate during the COVID crisis: from 74 to 44

News 100 redBy Staff

April 3rd, 2020



The province has revised the list of essential services that can remain open and operate in the province.

For the purposes of this order, businesses include any for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein.

This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. This also does not preclude the operation or delivery of services of any publicly funded agency or organization that delivers or supports government operations and services, including operations and services of the health care sector.

Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

The list has been reduced from 74 to 44.

They are:

Supply chains

Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.


Businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses including:
Supermarkets and grocery stores.
Convenience stores.
Discount and big box retailers selling groceries.
Restaurants (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only).
Beer and wine and liquor stores.


Gas stations and other fuel suppliers.
Laundromats and drycleaners.
Security services for residences, businesses and other properties.
Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services.
Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services.
Funeral and related services.
Staffing services including providing temporary help.
Veterinary services (urgent care only) and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums and research facilities.
Home child care services of up to six children as permitted under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, and child care centres for essential workers authorized to operate in accordance with Ontario Regulation 51/20 (Order Under Subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act – Closure of Establishments) made under the Act.
Hotels, motels, other shared rental accommodation including student residences, except for seasonal campgrounds and any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses.
Cheque cashing services.

Services to the public that are restricted to alternative methods of sale

Stores that sell any of the following items and provide them to the customer only through an alternative method of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery, except in exceptional circumstances:
Hardware products.
Vehicle parts and supplies.
Pet and animal supplies.
Office supplies and computer products including computer repair.
Safety supplies.

Financial services

Businesses that provide the following financial services:
Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services.
Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation.
Land registration services.
Real estate agent services.
Pension and benefits payment services.
Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services.

Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers

Information Technology (IT) services, including online services, software products and the facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
Telecommunications providers and services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc.) and facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
Newspapers, radio and television broadcasting.


Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.

Transportation services

Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including,
transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and
support services for transportation services, including,
logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators,
services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs, and
marinas, but only to the extent that the marina is necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence.
Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online.


Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers, (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer), regardless of whether those other manufacturers are inside or outside of Ontario, together with businesses that support and facilitate the movement of goods within integrated North American and global supply chains.

Agriculture and food production

Businesses that produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants, including by farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing.
Businesses that process, manufacture or distribute food, beverages, crops, agricultural products, animal products and by-products.
Businesses that support the food or agricultural products supply chains and the health and safety of food, animals and plants.


Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
Critical industrial construction activities required for,
the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residential construction projects where,
a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

Resources and energy

Businesses that provide and ensure the domestic and global continuity of supply of resources, including mining, forestry, aggregates, petroleum, petroleum by-products and chemicals.
Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage and natural gas distribution, transmission and storage.

Community services

Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:
Sewage treatment and disposal.
Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
Potable drinking water.
Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean up and response.
Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses.
Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.
Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits.


Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities.

Health care and social services

Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities.
Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.
Regulated health professionals (urgent care only) including dentists, optometrists, chiropractic services, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists and podiatrists.
Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports.
Laboratories and specimen collection centres.
Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies.
Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations.
Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities.
Not-for profit organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals.

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Transit User's Forum scheduled for May postponed to Fall

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 26th, 2020



The scheduled Burlington Transit Users’ Forum, has been postponed.

bfast-logo-w-type-rgb-400x133No new date has been set, Bfast will examine holding the Forum this Fall when the picture becomes more clear with regard to the COVID-19 virus.


Doug Brown in his happy camper mode.

In a statement released Wednesday, Doug Brown said: “This postponement is a disappointment to all of us, but we at BFAST will continue to make submissions to City Council and staff to promote continuing improvements to a transit system that was making excellent progress in providing better service and significantly increasing ridership before the virus hit.

Brown said: “We see three major issues for transit on the agenda now. The first is to ensure that our City Council continues to support improvements to the system.

“The second is to make Council aware that, while we support the City’s efforts to develop a Climate Action Plan, its current approach will worsen traffic congestion and not achieve the admirable goals it sets forth.

“The third is to participate in the development of the City’s Integrated Mobility Program. To this end, we have been meeting regularly with City staff to help ensure the Plan points us toward a transit-oriented future.

“Despite our disappointment in postponing the Transit Users’ Forum, we are excited and optimistic about the medium-term prospects for transit in Burlington and look forward to continued progress.”


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City is now at Level 2: Partial Activation of Issue/Crisis Management and/or Disaster Management

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 16th, 2020



To protect the public and City staff and to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 virus, all City facilities including City Hall continue to be closed to public until Monday, April 6. City operations, services and responses are focused on protecting the community from COVID-19 and urgent matters.

While Mayor Meed Ward has not yet declared an official emergency on COVID-19, the City of Burlington activated its Crisis Management Team (CMT) on Friday, March 13 to coordinate City efforts to protect public and staff from the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining essential City services to the community.

The activation of the CMT is a phased approach as part of the City’s Emergency Management Program. The City of Burlington has four (4) levels of emergency activation, which mirrors that of Halton Region and the Province.

Alert Level – Very Low – Manageable – has no immediate impact on service operations or resources.

Level 1 – Enhanced Monitoring – Low – Disruptive Impacts a small subset of essential services or a broad range of essential services for a short period of time or has no immediate impact but impacts will grow if not addressed in a timely manner.

Level 2 Partial Activation – Medium – Issue/Crisis Management and/or Disaster Management.  An event, procedure, practice or action that may trigger a crisis community centric (public facing) and / or a corporate /department impact disaster that occurs (internal facing with service line impact(s).

Level 3 Full Activation – High – Crisis – Mission Critical – Impacts the ability for the Corporation and/or Department or other service areas to deliver essential services and/or impacts the community on a large scale.

Currently, the City is at Level 2.

A Level 3 activation would mean the activation of the City’s Emergency Control Group (ECG).

During the onset of this pandemic, the City started tracking outbreaks geographically. As the numbers of the infected population started to spread, we increased our level to an enhanced monitoring state and proactively pulled together our Rapid Response Team which was comprised of executive representatives across the corporation to collaborate and strategize means of preventing the spread of COVID-19 across our corporation and in the community. Upon receiving information of infected residents of Burlington and monitoring staff returning from declared countries in self-isolation, the City of Burlington decided to activate its Crisis Management Team under a Level 2 – Partial Emergency Activation.

In alignment with the approach from the federal government, the best thing residents can do to protect themselves and the community is stay home, except for essential trips.

closed sign city hallCity buildings closed to general public access effective March 16 include:

NEW – Burlington Performing Arts Centre

NEW – Provincial Offences Courtrooms will be closed from March 16 through April 3; however the Courthouse remains open for business.

City Hall – phone/online/drop box still available

Roads, Parks and Forestry

Burlington Transit – Transit Operations Centre

Animal Shelter

City offices in SIMs Square office building – 390 Brant St.

414 Locust St. offices

Burlington Fire Headquarters and all stations

In addition to all Parks and Recreation services and programs being cancelled and facilities being closed, residents are asked to avoid using City playgrounds until further notice.

Essential services including Burlington Fire, Burlington Transit including Handi-Van, Halton Court Services, Traffic Services, Roads, Parks and Forestry Operations and Animal Control Services will continue to operate as needed to support urgent needs in our community.

Burlington Transit continues to have its buses sprayed with disinfectant to sanitize all buses.

Service Burlington will continue to operate via phone 905-335-7600 and email and we encourage residents to reach out if they have questions about COVID-19. Residents can also access services using the City of Burlington mobile app. A drop box outside of City Hall is available to drop off documents. Residents are encouraged to delay any non-essential business.

All Burlington Citizen Advisory Committee meetings have been cancelled until April 5, 2020. It is possible that meetings scheduled later into April may also be cancelled or delayed as needed.

The following meetings are cancelled:
March 18 – Agricultural and Rural Affairs Advisory Committee
March 18 – Sustainable Development Advisory Committee
March 23 – Seniors Advisory Committee
March 23 – Committee of Adjustment
March 23 – Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee
March 27 – Inclusivity Advisory Committee
March 31 – Council Workshop
March 31 – Cycling Advisory Committee
April 1 – Mayor’s Millennial Committee
April 1 – Mundialization Committee

This situation is evolving every hour and we are continually monitoring. The City of Burlington will continue to keep you informed.

For further information and updates, the City has launched the webpage

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said today that:

Meed Ward H&S

Marianne Meed Ward – Mayor

“COVID-19 is a very real threat to our city and the world, and we know it is understandably causing a great deal of fear and anxiety. The City has activated our emergency planning at a level 2, which allows us to respond appropriately right now.

However, we are monitoring the situation hourly and prepared to escalate if needed, working closely with our federal, provincial, regional and municipal partners. We at the City of Burlington are focused on the health and well-being of our residents as our number one priority. I encourage everyone to stay engaged with our communications to ensure you are updated and informed.

Similar to the announcement made today by Toronto’s Medical Office of Health, I would also encourage Burlington’s bars and restaurants to close to seated patrons.

Businesses offering takeout food options could remain open to offer that option to the public. As our public health officials have maintained, these steps help to flatten the growth curve of COVID-19.

We will also be watching for announcements from the federal government later this week regarding supports for business and individuals whose livelihood has been impacted by this crisis.”

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Pushing retail development north of Caroline - part of the endorsed preferred concept.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020



What kind of a city are we going to have three, five or ten years hence?

City council told the SGL consultants that they were content with the work done so far and then endorsed that work with a unanimous vote. The work being done is referred to as the “preferred concept” which sets out what the city would like to see built.

Enns group

After months of work with the community and hours of thinking by the SGL, the consultants and Planning staff they were ready to put it all on the table. From the left: Paul Lowes, Catherine xxx, Alison Enns and Charles Walker

The reality is – the developer has to look at what the city wants to see and work through what they want to build. The end result is usually somewhere in between.

The consultants,  the people from the Planning department working on this file, now return to their desks and begin developing the policy statements that will make the endorsement law sometime in April.

Not actually law quite yet.

When the scope stuff is completed and inserted into the approved but not yet WORD and then gets approved by Council – it then gets sent to the Region where they put their thumb print on the document and send it back – and THEN we have a new bylaw.

Of course everything that was submitted to the planning department under the old, existing and in force bylaw will be judged and interpreted under that Official Plan.

During the discussion and debate on want were presented as “preferred concepts” council made some significant changes.

Village square architects model

Architectural model of Village Square; a part of the city that has heritage designation. and a rich past but has floundered during the past decade. Council wanted to build on the unique feel the Village has.

They took a much closer look at the Village Square and at the property on Brant, north of Caroline, where the No Frills Supermarket is located.

They also did a deeper dive on the property at Brant and Ghent where the Molinaro Group owns three of the four corners. Mention is made of a park in this location.

The lands on the north side of Fairview where the Paradigm development is ready to start on the final phase of the five tower development are getting a lot of attention. This is where the GO station is located and is designated as a MTSA with the expectation the high rise will prevail. Metrolinx, the authority that runs the GO train system owns a considerable amount of land within the boundary and, the city planners think Metrolinx is going to want to do some development of their own.

There is a lot of Metrolinx parking space on the north and south side of the railway tracks that could meet the criteria for the kind of development the current city council campaigned for in the October 2018 election.

The area that developers have been crawling all over is bound by Brant on the west, Fairview on the south, the railway tracks on the north and Drury on the east.

The following photo essay focuses on the No Frills location on Brant.

Brant Plaza -city parking lot to south

The land to the immediate south of the plaza property has a city parking lot on the east side and rear entrance to Joe Dogs and a tire dealer plus a convenience store. These could be included creating a very strong commercial centre.

John Street runs right into the property. The city has a large parking lot on the south east side of John, which at that point is actually a lane and not a street. Lanes get treated differently.

Council agreed that whatever John is going to be should be extended north to Victoria.

Rambo Creek looking south

Rambo Creek could get an upgrade – maybe a place for swans?

Rambo creek is the eastern boundary. Plans are to clean up the space along the edge of that creek and turn it into a park like setting with benches.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was very keen on the idea of a park in that immediate area. There are currently two banks, a dry cleaner, a nail shop, a Dollarama, a pharmacy and a Tim Hortons along with a building that has office space.

The city has yet to receive a development application from anyone. The Planners are setting out what the city will be asked to approve.

The property from the southern edge of the plaza to Caroline Street has another bank, two hospitality locations (Joe Dogs and an Italian restaurant  and the Bell Telephone switching station on the corner of Caroline and Brant.

The switching station isn’t going anywhere soon but everything else has development potential and could become a major commercial focus with high rise residential included.

Plaza with No Frills on the left

A super market would be moved close to the street with higher buildings – up to 17 storeys between the supermarket and Rambo Creek.

The planning consultant thinking would move the supermarket to the Brant street side, put parking underground and put residential reasonably close to the edge of Rambo Creek. This of course is all speculative.

In their report to council the consultants, SGL, with Planning staff cheering them on, recommended:

Graphic of plaza

A transportation corridor, not necessarily a road, would be in the space and a park as well as a trail alongside Rambo Creek.

The Mid Brant Precinct will serve as a mixed-use neighbourhood containing a significant amount of retail space including servicing a food store function.

The precinct will function as a major retail centre that serves the day-to-day and weekly shopping needs of Downtown residents.

To support a walkable community the entire area must provide an accessible and attractive pedestrian environment with wide sidewalks, and greenway connections to adjacent residential neighbourhoods.

Future development will also result in the redevelopment of surface parking lots and the intensification of under-utilized buildings.

Brant Street will be enhanced as a Pedestrian Priority Street with wide sidewalks, bringing buildings close to the street and small urban squares adjacent to Brant Street. The extension of John Street will reduce the number of driveways necessary along Brant Street and help to improve the pedestrian priority of Brant Street through this precinct.

An increased open space buffer will be provided along Rambo creek with a walking trail along the west side of the Creek. John Street will be extended north as a local road abutting the open space. Together the open space and John Street will create a significant separation from the low-rise neighbourhood to the east.

To create an appropriate height transition to the neighbourhoods to the east, a 45 degree angular plane will be measured from the western property line of the creek block.

Plaza angular plain

Rambo Creek is on the right.

A new public urban park will also be created in the block. A detailed block plan study will be required prior to applications with the block from Caroline Street to Victoria Avenue to identify the size, location and configuration of the public park; the boundary of the open space along Rambo Creek; the configuration of the John Street extension and the siting of all buildings.

Max. 3 storeys for 20 m. from Brant Street.

3 storeys abutting Rambo Creek

Max. 17 storeys in centre of the block subject to a 45 degree angular plane from the western property line of the creek block.

Later this week we look more closely at the plans for the land around the GO station, the Village Square and then the Brant Ghent intersection.

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Resident questions data in a transit report; finds that City Councillor agrees with him. Watch for some sparks at the Monday Council meeting.

opinionviolet 100x100By Tom Muir

November 15th, 2019



At a November 4 meeting of Committee of the Whole, transportation staff was giving Council Committee an overview of their five year business plan for Transit.

Councilor Sharman had read the report carefully and he had major problems with some of the numbers. He didn’t like the math, and he had some very challenging words to staff on what he thought.

Subsequently, he made a motion to forward the staff report to the Council meeting Agenda of Monday, November 18 for further scrutiny and discussion. This motion was carried 5-2.

Table 5

The disputed Table 5

It will be interesting to see what happens at this meeting and how Council responds to his concerns and position. This analysis and startling assessment of a staff report, by a Councilor, is very unusual in my experience and is what motivated me to write this opinion piece.

“The numbers are all completely wrong, and there are a number of things where they don’t make sense”; “Table 5 is completely wrong”; are the gist of what he was reported to say in a story by the Burlington Gazette.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir – if there is a flaw in your data – he will find it.

Since I was a citizen member of the City Development Charges Consultation Committee that considered the transportation and transit service plans, and I had expressed serious concerns of my own to this Committee on the transit plans and unfunded costs to 2031, and Councilor Sharman was the Committee Chair, I reached out to him to ask what was behind his serious concerns and the words he chose.
I found we had a lot in common in our views of what is really a complicated situation that is a big deal in its own right, but in particular, for laterals to the City Budget, which happens to be under review right now.

Significantly, the stated focus on Table 5 of the 5 year business plan report goes to the heart of his discontent as the Table summarizes the finances of the 5 year business plan – Planned Operating Costs and Revenue, wherein you can see the bottom line Net Operating Costs, dollars that need to be mostly funded from somewhere in the Budget, going from about $13.5 million to almost $20 million annually from 2020 to 2024.

Sharman July 2016

Councillor Paul Sharman

And peering a little closer into some line items you can see another possible alarm bell in the fact that the Operating Costs are comparatively “hard”, if implemented, but the Revenue estimates, which are based on the assumed ridership associated with the services provided by the costs, are decidedly “soft”, and to the both of us, not believable.

As far as I can discern, neither Mr. Sharman nor I have any idea where this growth is going to come from, and this was also discussed at the DC Committee meetings. This is also being pushed by the Halton Region in their DC study to increase the modal split by assuming it can be done.

In our discussion I think the crux of the matter is shared – the lack of a rationale to show how the transit system configuration proposed will work to provide real results. Remember, this is a Business Plan, and it seems obvious that such a thing should have a firm evidentiary foundation in support of an expectation that it will work.

Mr. Sharman put it this way; I summarize

Sharman at transit

Councillor Paul Sharman explaining what was wrong with some of the data in a transit report.

1. There was no assessment of the Burlington market, economic factors, routes (maybe 80% of ridership is all routes 1 and 101), long term history of transit numbers, forecast City demographic change and ridership mix impact.

2. Burlington ridership and routes are not much different than they were 20 years ago i.e. primarily between Burlington and Hamilton south of the QEW. The report has no analysis of ridership split between handivan and regular buses routes. Presumably, since we have been adding handivan buses and drivers, and with the increasing elder population % ridership growth the projected growth would be worth knowing.

3. The numbers in the report are entirely unrepresentative of anything to do with Burlington. The report is entirely premised on Region of Halton Modal Split targets for the next 5 years and from there calculating what ridership numbers would have to be in order to meet the 5 year target, which is 23% average growth per year.

4. The consultant then used Canadian Urban Transit Association standards to determine what that meant in terms of how many more buses, drivers, maintenance staff, overhead staff and facilities would need to be added to the budget in each year going forward. CUTA standards are aspirational goals that have been demonstrated to not actually represent any Burlington peer municipality (Jeff Casell, Waterloo University 2012). They are more representative of highly intensified big city circumstances.

5. So when you look at the numbers in the table provided, it shows that the 23% average will be highly front end loaded with a 36.5% growth in year 1 of the plan, i.e. from 2,000,000 riders in 2019 to 2,730,000 in 2020. When Mr. Sharman challenged the consultant on the number he was unable to explain the distribution.

6. The critical concern in this is not so much the report per se, but that that the 2020 budget for the City of Burlington includes funding to purchase 4 new buses and hire 8 new drivers. The report proposes that the City should do that in each of the following four years at a cost of $millions each year. Keep in mind that 1% increase in the City of Burlington budget equals $1.6m. Further, that transit revenue, presently, represents less than 25% of operating cost.

The risk is that that the City is about to pour all sorts of real hard dollars into a plan that is completely devoid of any substantive analysis, ridership projections or realistic plan.

Muir making a point

Looking for a Plan B.

We want to see a Plan based on a modal split that is realistic, and will work to service the needs and wants of residents without forcing people onto buses, or blithely assuming they will walk or bike (doubling from 5 to 10%; remember winter?)), and there will be fewer cars.

Is there a Plan B, and what form does it take? What rational criteria or indicators are being used to stage or trigger additional service supply, and when do you stop or lag additions? What constitutes success?

What about “failure”? – remember the biking trial project failure (New Street Road Diet) ; and stagnant transit ridership, at a 2% modal split, that must be completely reversed and exponentially energized upward continuously by 600% by 2029-2031 or so?

For most of my needs, the bus doesn’t go there. Walk, and bike and bus all you want, but most people basically have to drive to survive in Burlington and surrounds. It’s called needs, and work, and distance, and time, and family and so on in reality.
How to get to Costco, Walmart, Longos, Fortinos, Sobeys, Clappisons Corners, Terra Landscape, Connons Garden Center, Canadian Tire, and so on.

The bus doesn’t go there. I need a case of beer, a lawnmower, lumber, groceries for a week, hockey for the kids, music lessons, all of this on Saturday, etc. etc. Try walking, biking or busing this stuff there and home.

For most commuters, except as noted for route 1 and 101, the bus doesn’t go there I believe.

I have never sensed a significant latent demand for such a transit service on the part of the majority of residents.

These are big decisions you have to make that are interrelated and not explained.

Have you done financial risk assessment for all costs? When do you stop the experiment? Do you have a fail-safe mechanism?

Remember, Burlington cannot fund transit from Development Charges (DC)  – the transit plans to add services are considered to be largely “benefits to existing” residents. So there are large cost additions to be funded, and very small contributions for transit from developers as part of the ever-growing need for transportation services due to growth in Burlington and Halton Region. Also remember the provincial policy drivers that are forcing a renewed Grow Bold, at higher cost to the city.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir – uses a sharp pencil when looking at numbers.

It’s time that this transit cost burden on the city, and not the development responsible, be reconsidered or the transit plans will not be sustainable and fully funded, which is what the transportation staff have said is needed and the goal.

In conclusion, If staff are going to direct the city to implement the transit and transportation quantitative plan identified, and Council agrees to approve this, with all the costs identified with no visible tracking of results, and triggering of rational incremental system steps based on results, and financial risk assessment and management controls in place, then they must be held transparent and accountable for showing how it is realistic and founded on evidence, visible trends, and realistic/rational possibilities for changing the behavior of city residents in the substantive way described.

I was told that this issues set identifies an area where we have to improve and that’s communication. I believe we’re looking for the same things and that’s a sustainable, funded transportation system that moves us (likely slowly) away from total auto dependency over the long run while keeping in mind that the auto is still the primary mode of travel.

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

Couple of million in high priced talent welcoming a new bus into the fleet.

You can buy and supply all the buses you want, but getting people to demand and use these is an entirely different matter, conceptually and practically. I don’t think it legitimate to try and force people into acceptance of a rejigging of their lives.

I see nothing presently, or moving forward from this, that shows awareness of what the actual problem is other than attributing it to people not liking it or the change. The change is not the problem. It’s the change based on impossible levels of different behaviors people are expected to manifest for no reason.

I see no fact-based explanation for why people should or could use a significant and costly increase in transit and pay the estimated large cost share, as calculated. I support some transit increase, but I see no demonstration and evidence-based reasoning to support what I see here, never mind the DC Plan to 2031.

This needs evidence, and not just rationalization, to show how the transit system configuration proposed will work to provide real results.

All I have seen so far are assumptions that people will somehow and magically change.

Finally, remember a basic principle governing any planning exercise is; “that everything that starts with a faulty premise is bound to fail”

Editor’s note: Mayor Meed Ward has said she wants transit to be free for everyone. Factor that into the Muir comment and the Sharman point of view.

Related new story:

The numbers didn’t add up.

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Telephone Survey of 740 residents to start Monday.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 1st, 2019



This time THEY are coming to YOU.

You are not going to have to spend time staring at the computer monitor thinking about your answer to a question that might not be that clear or make that much sense.

The 2019 Community Survey; that opportunity for you to add your wisdom to that of 750 people so that the city can confidently move forward with what it has decided to do.

Community durvey 2019

750 citizens will get the call. Stand By

The Survey is scheduled to begin Monday, November 4th to provide the City with information about the opinions of the public as it relates to services provided by the City.

There will be 750 telephone surveys completed; 125 households in each ward. A combination of land and cell phone numbers will be contacted by random selection. The caller ID for the survey will show the phone number: 1-866-415-0012 and “TSP”. The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

An online version of the survey will also be made available on Get Involved Burlington. This online survey gives residents whose telephone numbers were not chosen an opportunity to provide input.

The survey results will indicate how the community would like to receive information from the City, the methods of public involvement they prefer (and if they feel they are part of the decision-making process), value for taxes, identification of the most important issues in Burlington and questions about transit.

How survey results will be used
Information gathered in the survey will be used in updating City business plans, guide the development of communication initiatives, and public involvement programs on City issues and provide benchmarking and performance indicators. Council may also use the information to influence budget and spending decisions.

Kwab Ako-Adjei, Director of Corporate Communications & Government Relations wants people to know that: “This survey will provide Council and City staff with important community feedback to help shape the City’s services, communication initiatives and business plans.

Input from all wards will be included to ensure all corners of the city are heard. These survey results will help the City better understand resident opinions and needs to inform future City planning.”

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City asking the people who pay the bills to speak up and take part in the planning for what the city should look like.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 17th, 2019



The push is on.

The city wants some of the political oxygen that we are all breathing.

People are focused on the federal election.

The city wants you to remember that they too play a role in how decisions are made and they want you to take part in that process.

They have all kinds of things lined up for you.

It all starts with a feedback report summarizing what the City heard during the first phase of public engagement for the re-examination of Burlington’s adopted Official Plan; that is now available online at

What follows is all great stuff – what is worrisome is that an earlier survey drew 308 responses from a city with a population of over 175,000 people.

308 respondEarlier this year, Burlington City Council directed City staff to re-examine the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan, including the height and density of buildings. As part of this work, the City hosted a series of public engagement opportunities in August and September, designed to give the community the chance to provide meaningful input on the community’s vision for the downtown, both online and in person.

Participants in the engagement were asked questions about the downtown, including what matters most to them; what they like and dislike; what they want to see protected as the downtown continues to grow; and what they want to see more of in the downtown, through the following engagement opportunities:

• Action Labs – two workshops open to the public where approximately 70 people worked together to discuss, identify and prioritize what is most important to them about the downtown

• Pop-up events – 17 pop-ups events across the community where City staff interacted with hundreds of residents from all wards

• Survey – a total of 308 responses were received online and by hard copy. Working with the Halton Multicultural Council, the survey was translated into five languages, including Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.

What matters most about downtown: What we heard
From the feedback gathered, the themes heard most often from participants included:

• Keep and attract new businesses

Plan B rendering

Plan B hasn’t gotten much in the way of attention lately – it is a citizen led initiative to ensure that when the Waterfront Hotel is torn down and replaced that whatever is built keeps a clear view from Brant Street out to the Pier. The city has never shown much enthusiasm for the idea.

• Protect and enhance existing green spaces, strengthen connections to the waterfront, and plant more trees

• Enhance downtown’s role as a year-round cultural, tourism, shopping, leisure and event destination

• Housing options and affordability

• Enhance pedestrian spaces and provide more transit and cycling options, and reduce congestion

• Mid and low-rise buildings preferred in many areas

Street - what is being taken down

These are the storefronts on Brant Street, opposite city hall that will disappear when the development for the area begins construction. A height of 17 storey has been approved – the developer wants 23 – identical to the property to the north on the other side of James Street.

• Maintain the small-town charm and preserve heritage

• Safer, more usable, inclusive public spaces

• Appropriate parking supply.

How will the feedback be used?
The feedback gathered in August and September is being used to develop two concepts of what the downtown could look like in the future. These concepts will be shared with the public for further review and input starting the week of Oct. 21. Feedback gathered in the second phase of the public engagement will inform a revised downtown concept, presented as a recommendation to Burlington City Council in January 2020.

More public engagement – Phase 2, starts the week of Oct. 21
To create policies that reflect the community’s vision for the downtown, the City of Burlington needs to hear from as many people as possible. Please consider lending your voice at one of the upcoming public engagement opportunities:

• Week of Oct. 21, go online to to view the two concepts of what the downtown could look like, reflecting the priorities the City heard in the first round of engagement

Dwyer-Tanner-preg lady

Action Lab participants in one of the early sessions.

• Action Labs
Working in small groups, discuss and identify what you like and don’t like about the two downtown concepts. Action Labs will be held on:

• Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1 to 3 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lions Club, 471 Pearl St.

• Saturday, Nov. 2, 1 to 3 p.m. at Mountainside Recreation Centre, 2205 Mt. Forest Dr.
Drop-in, registration not required.

• Downtown Walking Tour
Take a walking tour of downtown Burlington to get a first-hand view of the areas where policies are being re-examined, on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., meeting at the No Frills Plaza at 571 Brant St.

• Online Survey
Go online to share your thoughts about the two downtown concepts at Survey available starting Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Blair Smith talking to planner Heaher MacDonald

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility in conversation with Blair Smith.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, who is driving much of this public engagement explains where all this is going: “When we set out to re-examine the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan, one of the objectives we established was to create an ongoing record of the feedback gathered and to report back to the community about what we heard.

“We hope this report is helpful in tracking the progress of the project and in understanding how the input collected may or may not inform the final recommendations to Council.”

“The next key opportunity for public engagement that will directly influence a recommendation to Council starts the week of Oct. 21 and I encourage anyone who cares about the future of the downtown to participate in the conversation.”


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Three of the five candidates took part in the BurlingtonGreen sponsored debate - the other two were no shows.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 4th, 2019



It wasn’t really a debate – it was an occasion when three of the five people running for the House of Commons seat for Burlington sat beside each other and responded to questions put to them by the moderators.

Two of the five did not attend: Jane Michaels said she had a meeting conflict and the People’s Party Candidate said he had a dental appointment. Something to remember when you get to the polling stations.

candidates at debate 3

The three candidates who showed up – from the left Lenaee Dupuis, Gareth Williams and Karina Gould.

Lenaee Dupuis spoke for the New Democrats, Gareth Williams for the Green Party and Karina Gould for the Liberals; Gould is seeking re-election.

There was really just the one issue – climate change. Everything else was somehow related to the climate.

Throughout the event each candidate threw out numbers: $15 million here; another $150 million there; 300,000 jobs or 50,000 housing units.

It was all in their party platforms which you could find on line.

Fast forward to the end of the debate – Karina Gould spoke of the empty seat that was set up for the Conservative party candidate Jane Michaels, and said a vote for the Conservatives was a vote for an empty seat in the House of Commons.


Lenaee  Dupuis, candidate for the New Democrats.

Lenaee Dupuis was pleasant enough and had a decent grip on the issues – electable – probably not.

Gareth Williams has the wind in his sails but he is going to have to loosen up and come across as approachable.

He was a little bit better at this election than he was during the municipal election.

Williams knows his stuff – he has been active in the community for well over a decade and was one of the first people in Burlington to put solar panels on the roof of his house.

Up until this election Williams has been a Liberal. He lost faith in the party and doesn’t believe they are the answer to the climate change tsunami that is coming our way. He said he could not accept the way the Liberals failed to deliver on their promises.

There were mentions of the affordable housing issue, very little about the growing number of seniors in the community and how that was going to be dealt with.

There was mention of the need to deliver more in the way of gas taxes to the municipal sector.
Gould had the facts and figures down pat – she delivered very well.

voice 19

Burlington Green creating space and opportunity for the public to hear what candidates had to say.

The event was sponsored by Voice 19 – the name BurlingtonGreen gave their election coverage.

The event was held at NuvoOne, the former location of the 100 Huntley Street television series. The building is undergoing a major refit. It currently has 80 different organizations with 300 people using some of the space. It is one of those buildings you can easily get lost in.

The NuvoOne concept has huge potential – the refit, based on the plans will be very attractive.

Sean SAulnier

Sean Saulnier, owner of NuvoOne – location of the Burlington Green election debate.

Sean Saulnier, owner of NuvoOne, donated the space for the event and then put on a small buffet and a cash bar. It has been some time since this city has seen a commercial organization put on free food.

The environment was the issue – with climate change as the focal point.

Williams was close to strident on the need to make changes now – not in a couple of months – but now.

“This is not a choice” he said –“ this is an imperative.”

Gould cautioned the audience to be realistic – she pointed out that “the kids get it” and added that they don’t see much in the way of solutions. She mentioned a student she talked to at a high school event. He told her that all he was hearing was how bad it was going to be and that was scaring him – he didn’t know what he could do – and he didn’t see a very bright future.

Gould said “We need plans people can participate in. This is the biggest challenge we have ever had to face and many of the young people don’t know what they can do.” The kid in the high school reflected the views of a lot of people. While they “get it” they aren’t being given much in the way of tools to make the difference.


Karina Gould, the incumbent in the 2019 federal election talking with a voter at the BurlingtonGreen debate last night.

They can go on marches, take part in protest and hold up smartly written signs. Gould was suggesting we had to give them more. “If people think they are losing they won’t be with us. We need to prepare people for the transition to a different economy. A “just transition” was the way Gould put it.

Williams wanted to see the billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel directed to writing off the billions in student debt.

Gould pointed to the funding being done now to re-train workers in the automotive sector and the oil and gas sector to work in the environmental sector where answers have to be found for some very complex issues.

Gould pointed out that people are not opposed to doing something about climate change but they are not all that keen on paying for those changes.

In the automotive sector there are far more pick-up trucks being sold than electric vehicles – the message has not gotten through.

All three candidates took shots at the Harper government and the changes he made that are seen now as retrograde. Andrew Sheer, the Conservative party leader was seen as a smaller version of Harper. Neither Sheer nor the Prime Minster was the issue. The issue was who can get a handle on the problem we are facing. That dilemma is reflected in the polls – the two traditional parties are in one of those neck and neck ties.

The questions put to the candidates came from different sources. The first was the only question the candidates saw in advance. The rest came from youth groups, the 300 people who worked at NuvoOne, were asked for their input – the uptake was pretty poor. This is the cohort that is supposed to be coming up with all the new technology to solve our problems. They didn’t put anything on the table at the debate last night.

There were some prepared questions from the audience but there were no direct questions from the floor.
Two statements pointed up some of the difference between Gareth Williams and Lenaee Dupuis. Gareth said “you cannot negotiate with physics and science. Dupuis said she wanted to “make life better for everyone”

Gould closed with: “We can do this, we can make people feel they are part of the solution.” Williams saw this as an “all hands on deck” situation.

The audience was polite, courteous and appreciative – this is Burlington,

What was missing was any of the candidate resonating with the audience. There wasn’t a really stunning comment or a well worded retort.

Gould was good, Williams knew his stuff and Dupuis was wearing orange.

Gareth Williams

Centre Gareth Williams made one of the strongest statements – but he never managed to grab and hold the audience.

What the audience didn’t get to see was any one-on-one between the candidates. At some point one of the organizations sponsoring these events will grow up and treat the audience like adults and make the candidate truly on-the-spot accountable.

Dupuis could have asked Gold and Williams a direct question. The other two, Williams and Gould would be given the same opportunity.

There were no sparks – but Williams did make an irrefutable point – there is no negotiating with physics or science.


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City council opts for free transit for high school students; top bus driver in the city and the Mayor and going to steer this one.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 30th, 2019



It was the Mayor’s initiative from the get go.

She is going to ride this one and reap the benefits.

Meed Ward was a big fan of getting people out of their cars and on public transit.

She was behind the free ride for seniors that is now in pilot and reported to be doing very well.

She next moved onto getting high school students on to public transit.

Her goal is to have anyone who has somewhere to go to do so by just hoping on the bus – free for everyone, eventually.

Meed Ward took it one step further – she thinks transit should be a Regional government issue so that there is easy travel to Oakville, Milton and even Halton Hills where there is currently no public transit.

Transit-report-card- 2018

Public perception was very poor in 2018


It improved in 2019.

One of the new buses added o the Burlington Transit fleet. There were busses that had more than 15 years on their tires - those old ones certainly rattled down Guelph Line when I was on one of them.

Then it becomes totally free?

The instruction that came out of the city council meeting last week were crystal:

Direct the Mayor and Director of Transit to develop a draft report including a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding free transit for Burlington students, outlining the program, costs, revenue impacts, eligibility, and commitments in more detail, in partnership with Halton Region and the four school boards that serve Halton students: Halton District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board, and the two French school boards, Conseil scolaire Viamonde and Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, and report back to council for a decision.

Mayor Meed Ward is going to be at the table where this happens – bet on it.

This initiative is going to be led by Burlington Transit with the different Boards of Education picking up the tab – they can certainly expect to pay more than they are paying now.

The Halton District School Board fell in love with the idea and had their motion passed before the city had their’s cast in stone.

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller when asked how this was going to work out said:

“It’s a little complicated.

“We do need the Catholic Board to agree and the transportation consortium as well. That hasn’t been done yet, but I suspect it is just the timing and it will as soon as the Boards can all meet.

“As for the work, most of it will be done by the City of Burlington with us helping to educate our students. The budgetary component will also be largely Burlington. We will continue to contribute the amount we have been providing, but this is pretty straight forward.”

Let us hope so.

Director of Transit Sue Connors, who did some exceptionally good work with the Brampton Transit system when she ran that operation, can be expected to do the same thing here. She is looking forward to being the first city in the province that has electric buses.

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Public school board loves the idea of free transit on Burlington transit buses for their high school students.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2019



When Mayor Marianne Meed Ward left a city Standing Committee earlier this week she had a nod from her colleagues to have the talk she wanted to have with the Halton District Board of Education about putting students on Burlington Transit buses with a pass that made the service free to use – 24/7

There are some 4500 students who live outside the area that would qualify them for passage on a yellow school bus. Meed Ward wants them on a Burlington transit bus using a student pass that would be free and usable 24/7.

She takes that view even further – she wants transit free for everyone – 24/7.

She goes much further – she thinks transit should be a regional issues and that it should also be free.

Her argument was compelling enough for the school board trustees to pass a resolution urging the trustees, when they are meeting as a Board to make it formal and pass a motion.

Meed Ward + scl bd chair

Halton District School Board chair Andréa Grebenc welcomes Mayor Marianne Meed Ward to the first committee meeting of the year.

The trustees were meeting as a Committee of the Whole where they cannot pass motions. They will meet on Wednesday of next week and in all likelihood pass a motion which will have the school board more on side for the free transit idea than the city. Burlington Councillors don’t meet as a Council until the 23rd when they will have the opportunity to “make it so” as they say on Star Trek.

Mead Ward, who was invited to speak to the trustees (that would have been brought about by Trustee Leah Reynolds asking that the Mayor be invited – the two go back some distance,)

The Mayor’s pitch was twofold: she believed that getting students on buses was an environmental and an economic plus for the city.

Meed Ward told the trustees that there were some 4500 students who lived outside the area that would provide them with school bus passage. As a result parents were driving the students creating traffic chaos at most of the high schools.

The Mayor’s pitch had another angle – giving students free passes was removing barriers now in place that kept students away from opportunities to get to part time jobs, take part in extracurricular events and use the bus to explore their city.

Meed Ward told of her grade 9 experience in Kingston when she got a pass that let her go wherever she wanted on a bus. “It was really empowering” she said. “I was my own person and could go wherever the bus would take me. It helped me grow as a young person to be responsible and to be inquisitive.” She added that the service in those days was 25 cents.

Sue Connor, Director of Transit for Burlington, attended with the Mayor. The Board of Education Superintendent Roxanna Negoi, responsible for transportation, was asked how much the Board spent on bus passes and said it was between $110,000 and $120,000.

Connor, never a slouch when it comes to numbers, opened her binder and said that the public school board spent $115,500 and the Catholic Board spent $10,500.

Mayor Meed Ward knew she was talking to people her understood her language when ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collar said “This has been a long time coming.”

Heather Gerrits - Milton trustee 2019

Milton trustee Heather Gerrits

The Board of Education is made up of representatives from the four municipalities in the Region. Donna Danielli, representing Milton, said there was a concern that some people would feel that their community doesn’t have free bus service – why should yours – and quickly added that the idea was an “incredible vision”. Heather Gerrits, also from Milton said she “loved the idea” and began talking about how she would advocate with both Milton Councillor Colin Best and Milton Mayor Gord Krantz to get Milton going on something similar.

Meed Ward said she would be happy to assist in bring the other municipalities around to the idea and would chat up the other Mayors at Regional Council meetings.

The school board trustees couldn’t do enough and the Director of Education Stuart Miller got onside by saying he would take direction from his board and believed he could have a report ready for early December that would set out what should be in the Memorandum of Understanding that would be put in place and what should be out.

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller.

He was thinking in terms of a high level report that would be ready for the lawyers by the end of the year.

Meed Ward said there “was no moss under our feet”. Amy Collard added “we don’t want this to sit idle”.

You could see where this was going. There is nothing a politician likes more than real forward momentum.

Now to get the public on side and to work out just where the money for those free passes is going to come from.

Sue Connor told the meeting that she has a bus that is about to be retired. She will have it done over with signage and make it an Orientation bus that will travel from school to school and be used for public education on how to use transit as well.

As the meeting was edging towards a close Meed Ward gave Connor that look that said: ‘We clinched this one’ – and indeed they had.

Someone in the room said: “Giddy Up”

Trustee Danielli added that when it come to a new idea “success begets envy”. The hope appeared to be that that envy would result in every municipality wanting free public transit.

Halton Hills unfortunately doesn’t have a transit service.

When Meed Ward moves to make transit a regional service – Halton Hills will be part of that package.

Burlington’s 2014-2018 city council could not get past their view that transit really wasn’t what people in the city wanted. They missed all the signs saying otherwise – or perhaps the signs of the times have changed.

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Incomplete rules and regulations that are a part of Bill 108 look like a disaster in the making.

News 100 blackBy Staff

August 13th, 2019



Our friends across the Bay in Hamilton have published a newsletter that has to be shared.

Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) comment on Bill 108 and the degree to which it is going to gut the way planners within municipalities have to deal with development applications.

CATCH said:

Additional though still incomplete information has come from the province about massive changes being made to rules on planning, community benefit agreements, parkland funding and development charges. Described as “welfare for developers”, the More Homes, More Choice Act appears to mean more subsidies from property taxpayers and an abandonment of the claim that growth pays for itself.

Aerial view - skyway bridge

The good citizens of Hamilton have looked at Bill 108 -and they don’t like what they see. The view will be the same from this side of the Bay.

The stated objective of the legislation is to lower housing costs. It eliminates growth fees for services such as libraries, recreational facilities, parkland development and social housing. These make up about a quarter of the development charges currently collected in Hamilton from developers to offset some of the costs of new growth.

Some of these revenue losses could be recovered with modified Community Benefits Charges that are included in the legislation. These replace existing “section 37” collections whereby cities bargain with developers who want to exceed approved building sizes and densities and in return obtain various community benefits.

But the modified community benefits charge will be capped by the province at a rate that has still not been released so there is no certainty that the financial result will be equivalent to that obtained by the existing two growth funding mechanisms. And if a city utilizes this community benefits charge it will be forced to abandon collection of parkland dedication fees – a long-standing method of ensuring sufficient land for parks.

Currently the parkland dedication fee – which has been in effect since the early 1970s – requires developers to provide land or monies based on the number of new residents in the growth area. Now it will be set irrespective of how dense the development.

Toronto staff have calculated that for one new apartment tower the new rules will mean an 80 percent drop in parkland paid by the developer. In another situation, the park area falls from nearly four square metres per resident down to half a square metre.

Central Park - play area

Developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

This flies in the face of both provincial and local commitments to encourage higher densities, especially along major transit lines like the LRT. Instead the municipality will be penalized for more concentrated residential development and the developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

Other changes in the legislation drastically shorten the time allocated to cities to respond to development proposals. For example, the timelines for an official plan amendment drop from 210 days to 120. Local planners contend these make proper review and public consultation virtually impossible and will mean many more appeals to the provincial planning tribunal.

All of these changes are likely to leave existing taxpayers shouldering more of the costs of growth. As Hamilton’s chief planner Steve Robichaud warned in June: “There’s a big shift in terms of who pays for growth and how that balances and they’ve taken the costs off the developer and they’re shifting some of those costs onto the municipality.”

While the new rules are purported to lower housing costs, they don’t include any way to ensure this. “It is unlikely that they will positively impact housing affordability,” argue Toronto planners, “as Bill 108 does not provide for any mechanisms to ensure that reduced development costs are passed through to future home buyers and renters.”

Bill 108

The developers may have been given even more than the keys to the city.

The Ford government rushed through the legislation without details between May 1 and June 6, leaving municipalities scrambling to even provide comments on changes that could not be properly evaluated. Now Queen’s Park has extended the confusion with incomplete draft regulations and schedules.

“The province has not posted an actual draft regulation, but rather has posted a notice of intent to issue a regulation”, notes Hamilton staff.

“The regulations … have been provided in general terms and the full impact of the proposal is not capable of being fully understood and assessed without the official language that will appear as written in the regulation.”

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Transit knows it needs to begin partnering with others who have a stake - problems is some of those others don't yet know they should be at the table.

background 100By Pepper Parr

August 6th, 2019


This is a seven part series on transit and how Burlington plans to get to the point where the public will take public transit to get to where they want to go in the city because it is cheaper, faster, more convenient and seen as the smart thing to do.

Part 6

Partnerships is going to have to be a large part of what the transit people do going forward. All the stakeholders have to be at the table which includes people who don’t see themselves as transit stakeholders.

Transit in Burlington has been trying for some time to create partnerships with the larger employers – looking for ways to create transit services that meet the needs of employees working shifts that were outside traditional working hours.

Nothing seemed to get any traction.

Strategy 4E: Employer Partnerships

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. Should a slughterhiuse be in this location?

Fearmans was an excellent prospect for a partnership with transit. No one was able to make it work.

Targeting employees that regularly commute represents a good opportunity to increase ridership on Burlington Transit. Employers that have standard office hours are typically located along key arterial corridors that have direct service, with start and end times that typically coincide with peak transit frequencies. Since service levels are high, the strategy for office employees is typically to target communications and marketing of the service and work with employers to offer an emergency ride home program if midday or evening service levels are not attractive.

Mapleview Mall parking east side

Mapleview parking lots are the size of a couple of football fields. The sales staff might consider public transit if they knew it was going to be reliable. Expect the Director of Transit to begin looking into that opportunity.

Large industrial-warehousing employers, retail service employers and other employers located in areas not well serviced by Burlington Transit provide another employer partnership opportunity. These types of opportunities typically involve some degree of employer funding to provide more tailored service to meet employee requirements. This could include free or discounted transit passes, emergency ride home programs, and/or shuttle or on-demand services from transit hubs to work locations.

Burlington Transit staff time would be required to develop these programs and establish partnership with key employers. It is recommended that Burlington Transit staff first target a key employment area (e.g. the industrial area along Harvester Road) prior to developing a city-wide employer strategy.

This initiative aligns with Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #3 (Be Business-Minded and aligned with municipal directions), particularly Objective 3.2 (Partnerships), by working with employers to generate mutually beneficial outcomes.

• Explore opportunities for partnerships with employers and evaluate alternative service delivery models to provide service to employees (Strategy 2A). Target one employment area first for a year to assess level of effort relative to uptake and ridership growth.

• Look at whether regular service can be supplemented by on-demand alternatives during off-peak travel times and/or emergency ride home programs (see Strategy 2A and 2B).
• In the longer term, explore an Employee Pass Program that offers discounts on transit passes based on enrollment in the program.

Strategy 4G: Improve Coordination with Other City Departments

Transit’s biggest asset is the land use and community design it operates in. Transit services that operate along mixed-use high density corridors with good connectivity to the places where people live, work and play offer the highest potential to grow ridership. In this way, transit and land use development are inexorably linked and therefore land use planning should always give strong consideration to transit needs, and vice versa. Ensuring the alignment of land use and transit will help create sustainable, mixed-use communities and also drive ridership by placing transit where residents and employees are located.

The City of Burlington has a number of plans to intensify around key transit corridors and mobility hubs. This is primarily focussed around the Burlington and Appleby GO Stations and the downtown terminal. In addition, the City of Burlington Official Plan (2018) identifies several corridors for mixed-use development and increased intensification. These include Brant Street south of Highway 407, the Plains Road and Fairview Street corridor and Appleby Line. The City is also currently conducting an Interim Control Bylaw review to assess the appropriate density and land use around downtown Burlington, the Burlington GO Station and the section of Brant Street connecting these two nodes.

Routes that are working - those not

When you have a service pattern with routes that under perform the way several do – change is in the wind.

Burlington Transit’s growth should largely be focussed on these corridors, which aligns with the arterial focus of Strategy 1A. As recognized in Strategy 1A, access between transit stops and this increased development will be key to ensuring that the potential transit ridership growth is achieved.

While improved planning integration between land use, roadway planning and transit is unlikely to result in measurable ridership growth in the short-term, it will pay dividends as development patterns evolve over time.

Improved integration with land use planning is the core of Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #2 (Be Forward-Thinking in how services are planned and delivered), particularly Objective 2.6 (Transit Oriented Development), as it facilitates better planning and delivery of transit services.

Stolte + Connor +

Sue Connor should be at every table when transportation and land use is being discussed.

• Play an active role in strategic land-use planning decisions, highlighting the need for high levels of pedestrian amenity and access to the arterial grid network.

• Continue to work with City of Burlington staff on the alignment of development, growth and employment areas with transit investment and service by reviewing development applications and secondary plans.

• Develop and formalize a Service Development Plan for Burlington Transit that outlines where service investment is expected in the future. This should be a living document that can help inform land use planning decisions to support transit.

• Develop a proximity service standard with the City of Burlington’s Planning and Development Department. This standard should define a five-year target from proximity to transit once the grid-network has been established and place to bonus on the Planning and Development Department to achieve the target based on growth.

• Continue to work with Transportation Services Department to coordinate transit interests in roadway capital improvement programs (e.g. new stops, shelters, accessibility improvements, transit priority features).

• Work with Transportation Services Department as a key stakeholder in the Integrated Mobility Master Plan and identify strategies to help meet the transit mode share target.

Burlington Transit has the best leadership it has had in a decade.  Its leadership is far superior to that of the departments it has to work with to pull all the parts together.

The city manager appears to have gotten the message – assuming he has – there should be some heads banged together if that is what it takes them to work together – or let some of those heads roll.

Part 1: Transits five year plan has what some might call an over abundance-of wishful thinking

Part 2: Strategies and recommendations to create the needed structure and delivery model.

Part 3: Making all the parts fit.

Part 4: Can the public afford the new ideas?

Part 5 – Managing and influencing demand

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