City lauds the very BEST at an awards ceremony - Borovitch named Citizen of the Year

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 12th, 2017



There were 24 people nominated with eight of them named the city’s BEST in different categories.

The awards were presented at an event at the Royal Botanical Gardens – a positive shift in venue for the event.
Burlington’s Best Awards are managed by a citizen’s committee established in 1965 with the mandate of recognizing Burlington residents who bring honour to the city and make a difference in the community.

The Burlington’s Best categories include:
• Heritage Award
• Community Service Award
• Environmental Award
• Arts Person of the Year
• Accessibility Award
• Junior Citizen of the Year
• Senior Person of the Year
• Citizen of the Year

The Citizen of the Year Award is given to a person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the Burlington community.

Dorothy Borovitch

Dorothy Borovich: 2016 Citizen of the Year

Dorothy Borovich has been a community builder for more than 15 years. She co-founded Youthfest, an initiative that brought together community not-for-profit agencies, city, business and youth leaders to promote youth philanthropy and engage in volunteerism.

Borovich encouraged youth to take on community involvement and volunteering as a lifestyle in order to gain a sense of belonging. Through her fundraising efforts, a permanent endowment fund with the Burlington Community Foundation was established and continues to assist youth in their community endeavours. Borovich also founded the Crystal Ball, a significant source of annual funding for Joseph Brant Hospital, and the Healthy Reflections event which raises funds to assist women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Borovich is described as an inspiring leader; her commitment and passion has made Burlington a better city.

The Heritage Award went to Jim Clemens. He is no longer a Burlington resident but the city owes him a huge debt of gratitude for heading up the Citizen Heritage Advisory committee that solved the problems and did what the city had not been able to do.

Clemens Jim - Heritage

Jim Clemens given the 2016 Heritage Award.

The award is sponsored by Heritage Burlington, a City of Burlington citizen advisory committee made up of 14 volunteers who provide advice to City Council on issues related to the conservation of Burlington’s cultural heritage.

The award goes to an individual who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered his or her time to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage.

Clemens has been a leader and supporter of heritage and culture in Burlington for many years. He has a deep knowledge of the issues and legalities that influence Burlington’s capacity to preserve its heritage. As a past member and Chair of Heritage Burlington, he was instrumental in the development of the document “A New Approach for Conserving Burlington’s Heritage” resulting in the implementation of the Burlington Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program. Through his work with the Burlington Historical Society and Heritage Burlington, Jim has demonstrated an ongoing commitment and dedication to maintaining Burlington’s heritage for future generations.

The Community Service Award, sponsored by COGECO, is given to an individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community.

Marion Goard

Marion Goard given the 2016 Community Service Award.

Marion Goard  was chosen for this award – she believes a better community is the responsibility of every individual and she strives to find ways to contribute to Burlington. She is the co-founder of 100 Women Who Care Burlington, an organization of 100 women who donate $100 four times a year to four different charities – $10,000 per charity.

The Environmental Award is sponsored by Walker Environmental Group, a leading waste management company that develops solutions for environmental challenges.

Kale Black was chosen for this award.

Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors gather in a bus shelter. Front row: YAs Benoit, Shaan, Billi and Harrison. Back row, BT’s Sandra Maxwell, YA Kayla and Burlington Green advisor Kale.

Kale Black, upper right given the Environmental Award for 2016.

He is described as a shining example of how one person can truly make a difference. His journey to champion the environment began while attending Aldershot High School and since then, he has dedicated almost nine years of his life striving to create a better planet and benefit the community.

Black has hand-sorted more waste at Burlington festivals and events than any other individual in the city and his active participation and team leadership at 44 community events has resulted in the diversion of 61 tonnes of waste from the landfill. Black is best known in the community for his extensive contributions to inspiring and engaging local youth to grow up green and has taught fun-filled, educational workshops to 7000 Burlington children. Black is an environmental and community champion who actively leads and serves as a steward for our environment and the youth of Burlington.

His hard work and dedication to environmental initiatives in Burlington, including protecting the rural environment and valuable green space, has touched many lives. Black has pushed for environmentally sustainable policy and decision-making and has led the BurlingtonGreen team to grow as an effective, impactful organization through various programs, services and advocacy campaigns.

The Arts Person of the Year Award, known as the K.W. Irmisch Award, went to Margaret Lindsay Holton, a woman who has made a significant contribution to the arts and as an activist she has stood up and spoken out about environmental issues and where the city was getting it wrong.

This is a woman who does not want to understand what no means.

It is interesting to note that two people who have made significant contributions at the cultural level have been recognized. Kudos to the selection committee for seeing things through

Holton - Margaret Lindsay large

Margaret Lindsay Holton: 2016 Arts Person of the Year

Holton is a well-known Burlington born artist and activist who has made significant contributions to the community. Her 25 minute short film called “The Frozen Goose” had a cast made up of local cast and crew – keeping the production “grassroots” and grounded in this area. Accessibility Award

The Accessibility Award went to the Tetra Society, an organization that recruits skilled volunteers to create customized assistive devices for people with physical disabilities and enhances the health and quality of life for thousands of people with disabilities.


A chair being built by the Tetra Society

They design and build a wide variety of “gizmos” such as communication adaptations, eating and drinking utensils and educational and recreational aides for people of all ages and abilities. The Tetra Society is a hidden hero in the Burlington community that is invaluable in enriching the lives of others.

Mehr Mahmood founded Youthfest in 2002 and was named the Junior Citizen of the Year last night.  They avidly promote the importance of youth in our community; developing youth responsibility and action in the community by connecting youth to meaningful volunteer opportunities and available supportive service. The winner receives a $500 bursary, courtesy of the Bank of Montreal, which has been a leading and supportive partner since the inception of Youthfest.

The award is given to a high school student, 18 years of age or younger, who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Mehr Mahmood

Mehr Mahmood, on the right with Burlington MP Karina Gould.

Mehr has made significant contributions to the Burlington community through her volunteer work as a volunteer. She has contributed her time, energy and talents to many organizations including Burlington Public Library, 3 Things for Burlington, Halton Mosque and the Compassion Society. Mehr has been an inspiration and natural leader on the Library’s Teen Advisory Board in the development of a program called Fusion, which brings teen volunteers and teens with developmental disabilities together.

Mehr a compassionate young woman and is dedicated to growing acceptance and inclusivity in our community.

Dave Page was named the Senior Person of the Year Award that is given to a Burlington resident aged 55 years or older who has advocated on behalf of seniors and/or made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.

Dave Page

Dave Page: 2016 Senior Person of the Year

Page has been an active volunteer with the Age Friendly Housing Committee for more than five years and demonstrates his passion for the need for affordable, accessible and safe housing for older adults living in Burlington.

He played a vital role in the development of the Halton HomeShare Toolkit, a guide to support older adults to stay in their home and share it with a home seeker who can help with household responsibilities.

In addition, Page is responsible for the creation of a conversation circle where Halton Multicultural Council’s newcomers and refugee groups can practice their English speaking skills. Burlington is richer for having a man like Page who silently goes about supporting the health and well-being of the community through his volunteer activities.

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Muir provides much more than a 250 wortd outline - at least the trustees know what they are going to hear - hopefully their questioning will be a deep as the information being put before them

highschoolsBy Staff

May 4th, 2017



The School Board trustees are going to get an earful from Tom Muir when he addresses them sometime next week – which assumes that Muir will be allowed to delegate.

Chair Kelly Amos asked each person who wanted to delegate to provide a 250 word outline. Muir gave her 1594 words.

Here is what Muir sent the Chair who now has to decide if what Muir wants to say meets the criteria for selection, which is: ” to have a “varied perspective” of delegations”

Notes for a Delegation to HDSB on Burlington PAR. May 2017

I note that 5 minutes to delegate limits the scope of the perspective and the topics that can be covered. My presentation will follow these notes suitably reorganized to fit the time allotted.

The perspective of my delegation will be an overview of the context of the PAR, and provide analysis of various aspects and criteria of the PAR planning data basis, recommendations, and options available to the Board.


Four of the eleven school board trustees listen carefully at a public meeting.

I will cover points related to planning, financials, fiscal, risk, future planning outlooks and needs, demonstrated student benefits from enhanced academic offerings as opposed to known negative impacts, the real net economic and money effects looked at closely with prudence, and the expressed views of the overall school community.

I will discuss the roots of the criteria and justification of the PAR as results of Board planning decisions in LTAPs, future enrollment projections, and so-called “business plans” done in the period 2008 to 2013, and now currently.

I will discuss the origins and makeup of the utilization justification criteria of the PAR.

I will also consider data on financial and fiscal impacts of options to deal with this situation.
Another topic is the increased and better program selection that constitutes the second criteria for having the PAR.

Other points cover how school closures reflect what the community and students have expressed as their wants.

Concluding points cover summary of perspective and points on the data and evidence offered in terms of Trustee responsibility and decision options on schools.

Presentation Outline.
I did not see anything in writing describing what the Board and Ministry had in mind about what a business case is, or what the thinking behind the business case was, as contained in the Capital Priorities Template sent to the Ministry in 2009. This seems to be the way business is done. Either there’s nothing in words, or it’s not available publically.


Hayden high school – Muir questions why it was built.

My first point is that Hayden was built with no seeming regard or public disclosure for the consequences that were built right into the plan from the start – surplus seats in the other Burlington high schools, and Hayden bursting at the seams. Data show this was done by the Board in their planning, boundary and feeder changes, and construction.

In the 2009 plan, submitted to the Ministry, it showed Hayden overflowing with students within 3 years of opening, and continuing this trend. In planned consequences, back in 2009, MM Robinson utilization was planned to decline, by 2022, from 93.7% to 53.4%, and Bateman to decline from 99.2% to 43.9%, by 2018/19. Nelson declined from 108.7% to 95.6%. Most of these declines coincided with Hayden’s projected opening in 2010. By 2022, 1567 students were in these declines, many transferred to Hayden.

The more recent data, shown by the Board, at the November PAR public meeting, and titled in a slide as, “Current Situation: Low Utilization”, paints an even worse picture of what has been done by the Board and only made public in this PAR. This data clearly shows Hayden continuously overfilled grossly with students transferred largely from the other schools, as part of the plan. And this is being facilitated with portables, part of the plan too.

From no students on 2010, Hayden goes to 129% UTG in 2016, and projected at 159% in 2020 and 141% in 2025. At the same time, the other schools continue the planned decline, but now there are 4 schools that are in that situation, not just the 2 schools identified in the 2009 plan, as I noted above. This data is as follows;

– From 112% OTG in 2010, Pearson declines to 61% in 2016, and projected to 55% in 2020, and 50% in 2025.

– From 87% OTG in 2010, Robinson declines to 53% in 2016, and projected to 47% in 2020, and 46% in 2025.

– From 107% OTG in 2010, Nelson declines to 75% in 2016, and projected to 83% in 2020, and 79% in 2025.

– From 95% OTG in 2010, Bateman declines to 59% in 2016, and projected to 55% in 2020, and 50% in 2025.

Looking at the option 23e, in Miller, and the overall plan for Hayden from 2009, and you can see that according to that option outline, Robinson is also overfull by 2020, as Hayden is now to the end of the planning horizon.

So why are we closing schools?
This is the actual data showing how building Hayden created new seats that then became surplus seats for the rest of Burlington schools. We now have a situation of overutilization and underutilization, the main cause of which is building Hayden and then over-utilizing it using boundary, feeder, and program policies.

This is the cause of the “Current Situation – Low Utilization, but this is being ignored and never mentioned, despite being obvious in the data as consequential to the year Hayden was opened.

I will also consider data on financial and fiscal impacts of options to deal with this situation.

The Ministry is not telling the Board to close schools – it’s our call how we spend that part of the money they give us for accommodation costs – keeping all buildings open. That’s a little more than $100 million of a $700 million total budget for 2015/16.


Director of Education Stuart Miller preparing to speak to parents at Central high school.

According to Miller’s report, it costs $564,000/yr to operate Pearson, and $764,000/yr for Bateman. Closing these 2 schools saves only about $2 million a year, when added busing costs, lost revenues, and staff reduction cost savings, are all accounted for (See Miller; busing costs noted there are incorrect – the report says 226, 286, and 96 more students bused, but only costs the 96). Transportation is a concern as student busing increases, and Hayden already has 580 students bused and is the second most costly in Burlington.

Whether schools close or not, all the rest of the Board budget (except admin and transportation) is for instruction, and this nets out to null savings. So closing 2 schools saves only $2 million, but more than $12 million alone is needed to replace Bateman equipment, somewhere else.

Then there is the cost of decommissioning buildings, mothballing, needed ongoing maintenance, what about the pool, day-care, and so many other transition costs that are just ignored.

So what kind of fiscal savings is $2 million out of a $700 million budget (0.003%), to be so concerned about?

And the fact is, the Director’s recommendation calls for the most expensive option of two closures, and this cost is uncertain, likely underestimated, and doesn’t account for planning errors and risk.

Given the provincial Growth Plan saying Halton must grow by 500,000 people by 2041, and the planning enrollment forecasting error and uncertainty, already experienced for Hayden enrollment, this seems to be a reasonable cost to invest in risk management for planning errors. There has been no risk assessment and management done by the Board. Having all our schools open and functioning provides this risk management as a low cost reserve.

The only other maybe money in this fiscal picture is the PODs, from any surplus asset value that may be realized in the future, and that is only a one-time cash-in, partly chewed up by transition and transaction costs. This will not go far for new schools in Burlington.

Another topic is the increased and better program selection that constitutes the second criteria for having the PAR. Since there is no increase in budgets for instruction, more programming cannot come from there, and more generally, there is no information provided by the Board indicating any details of the delivery of this aspect, and only abstract assumptions, but nothing convincing, that larger enrollments allow for this.

The closures impact students negatively for sure, and the impacts on Bateman students affect them in life-altering ways, as special needs students who have been bumped around in the system.

PARC - engaged onservers

Parents listen intently to the PARC members as they look at the more than 40 options discussed during the seven meetings held.

Other points cover how school closures reflect what the community and students have expressed as their wants. Obviously everyone wants their own neighborhood school kept open. But more generally, when asked for opinions, on two occasions, the public expressed their preference for the Board to spend the money, and implement measures needed, to keep schools open. However, the Board has more or less discounted these results showing public preferences, and it does not appear to have been given any formal consideration.

As it turns out the overall costs of keeping all schools open are a small portion of the Board budgets – savings from closing schools are 0.003% of the Total ($700 M) and less than 0.02% of the more than $100M Accommodation component.

Trustees - fill board +

It all comes own to how the 11 school board trustees vote on June 7th. will they go with the Staff recommendation that Pearson and Bateman be closed or will they decide that none of the schools should be closed at this time.

The Trustees do not have to close schools, and it appears that on planning, financial, fiscal, risk, student benefits from significantly enhanced academic offerings that are not documented as opposed to known negative impacts, the real net economic and money effects looked at closely with prudence, and the overall school community, it makes no sense.

The PAR Policy statement says that; “Decisions that are made by the Board of Trustees are in the context of carrying out its primary responsibilities of fostering student achievement and well-being, and ensuring effective stewardship of school board resources.”

I argue that based on demonstrated benefits to student achievement, and stewardship of school board resources, now and in the foreseeable future, there is no case to close any schools. The trustees have within their authority the means to move boundaries, feeders, and programs in order to undo the skewed enrollment caused by building Hayden without considering the consequences.

Hayden was built and filled with students by transfers from existing schools that can just as easily be undone.

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Is poverty just one of those things that every society has and we just learn to live with? Don't say that to Leena Sharma Seth.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2017



There were about 60 – maybe 70 people gathered around 10 tables. They were a pretty representative bunch; there were the professionals, the practitioners and the volunteers – the people in the trenches.

They were there to talk about poverty – something they want to be able to ensure that by 2026 all residents will have a livable income and as a result have access to opportunities, resources and supports to thrive and to fully participate in an inclusive Halton community.

They have their work cut out for them.

Burlington is a city that will admit that there are some serious pockets of poverty in the city and that something should be done – but social welfare is a Regional responsibility. The longest serving city council member wasn’t prepared to try free transit service for seniors on Monday’s on a trial basis.

He was prepared to let them have discounted bus tickets – but there was a sort of means test to get into that program.

The chatter around the city council horse shoe is about everyone getting in on the purchase of property – you can’t lose in that game. Get a starter property and move up the value ladder.

Food for Life

Michael Mikulak, Community Food Network Manager Halton Food Council, Leena Sharma Seth, Director, Community Engagement Halton Poverty Roundtable, Colleen Mulholland, President and CEO Burlington Community Foundation, and Brenda Hajdu Executive Director Food for Life.

This city council doesn’t really understand or appreciate the eco-system that gets food into the hands of people who just don’t have enough money to pay for the food they need.

With housing prices rising – rents tend to rise as well – and the scarcity of rental properties owned by landlords that have no qualms about jacking up the rent as much as they can and then making life miserable for any tenant who chooses to fight back.

Getting to that 2026 target is a challenge indeed.

Some of the ground work took place at St. Christopher’s United Church where the group gathered under the auspices of the Halton Poverty Roundtable.

Each participant was given a sheet of paper with a number of questions on it. How would you have answered these questions?

How do you define poverty? How should it be measured? Are there data gaps that need to be addressed to help improve our understanding of poverty in Canada?

What will success look like in a Poverty Reduction Strategy? What target(s) should we pick to measure progress?

Which indicators should we use to track progress towards the target(s)?
On which groups should we focus our efforts?

Which Government of Canada programs and policies do you feel are effective at reducing poverty? Are there programs and policies that can be improved? What else could we do?

Poverty - Leena-Sharma Seth

Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Roundtable

These people were meeting during the week that the provincial government announced that 4,000 people in Ontario would be put on a guaranteed income program for a period of time to see if with an income that they know is going to be there for a period of time – can they rise out of the poverty they have to lie with?

The Gazette wants to follow what Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Round Table does with this group of people.

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What the downtowners think should be done with the downtown core -

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2017



The Mayor opened up the event with a short overview of the changes taking place in the city and how the need to intensify and create an Official Plan that would deliver on the promises made in the Strategic Plan.

The audience of something under 100 people on a very rainy night filled the Lions Hall where people were told that what people enjoy about living downtown is:

1.The Waterfront (29.85%)
2.Restaurants and Cafes (18.62%)
3.Walking (18.11%) …

Research told city planners that the first  transportation choice was Walking (37.78%)

The meeting was to have people take part in a Downtown Mobility Hub Visioning Workshop.

Mobility hubs were defined as:

Neighbourhoods within a 10 minute walking distance of major transit stations that will support new residents and jobs in a transit, pedestrian and cycling focused environment.

Clicker being usedWith those pieces of data in front of them the audience was asked to use small hand held devices they would record their responses to questions shown on a large screen.

There were interesting with surprising results.

Appreciate that these were ward 2 people for the most part answering questions about the downtown core.

The Planners intend to take this road show into every community that will have a mobility hub.  The workshops will see a return visit to each community once the Planners have had a chance to evaluate the data they collect.

The initiative will take about  six months to cover each of the four mobility hubs.  The next session for the downtown hub is scheduled for June 21st.

Time line mob hubsThe event was framed as a visioning exercise during which ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward explained that developments pop up at the Planning department and they have to process every application that is filed. “You want to be in charge of that process” said Meed Ward.

2 - Enhanced cycling

The strong agree support doesn’t appear to align all that well with the opposition to bicycle lanes on New Street.


1 - waterfront protected

No surprises here.

3 - commercial on Brant

Very mixed views on this question.

4 - daily needs transportation

Vehicles were not included in the question.

5 - downtown growth - where

The street names don’t show up on this map – the white box is the mobility hub area.

6 - downtown transit adquate

This view – from what was a ward 2 crowd contrasts with what the Bfast people think. More thinking to be done on transit matters.

7 - new development family orientated

Compare this with the question on more affordable housing.

8 - affordable downtown

A mixed view here.

9- afforable downtown - more

This response comes as no surprise.

Following the formal presentation the audience was invited to take part in the four information stations where planning staff were on hand to answer questions. The groups that clustered around the information stations were at times intense – in a positive way. They had a lot of questions and the planning staff took a lot of notes.

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner and Anne McIlroy, the consultant the city has hired to guide this process watched and listened intently.

Close look

All the charts and data set out got very close inspections.

There are two parts to this feature article on the visioning exercise. The second part which will follow tomorrow reviews the visuals on the elements of the downtown core and what the planners have to work with.

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Open Letter to the Board of Trustees: Evidence does not justify closing Pearson high school.

Open Letter to the Board of Trustees About Closing Pearson High School: A line-by-line refutation of Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report

News 100 blueBy Rory Nisan

April 25th, 2017



Dear Trustees of the Halton District School Board,

This has been a long process, now coming to a head with the Director’s Final Report recommending closing Pearson and Bateman high schools. As a Pearson alumnus, I am writing to refute the arguments made for closing Pearson in the Director’s Final Report. I have addressed every argument in Recommendation 2 below.

The Director’s Final Report portion is shown in red bold italics, my comments are in standard type.. I have aimed to present Recommendation 2 in full without any deletions or other changes.

Rationale: Recommendation 2 – Lester B. Pearson High School

“Lester B. Pearson High School has been experiencing a decline in enrolment for several years and that is projected to continue to 2026 and beyond.”

This is an unfair, obtuse characterization of enrollment at Lester B. Pearson High School. The Director’s Final Report fails to mention the reason for this declining enrollment: a reduction in the number of feeder schools for Pearson, in order to prop up Hayden High School, leaving Pearson with only 1.5 feeder schools compared with seven for Hayden. This was not by accident, but a deliberate decision taken by the HDSB when Hayden opened.

One need only observe the change in enrollment since Hayden came online to see how this gutted Pearson’s numbers. Before Hayden opened, Pearson lost only 10 students from 2010-2011 (see Figure 1, from the Director’s Final Report). Furthermore, the change from 2015-2016 is only 11 less students, because the Hayden transition has ended. It is inappropriate to close a school on the basis of a reduction of 11 students year-over-year when there are many options available to boost utilization.

Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report’s is wholly based on “low and declining enrolment” as the basis for closing Pearson, ignoring the fact that the low enrollment is entirely of the HDSB’s own making.

Figure 1

Figure 1  English Programme enrollment at Pearson as shown in the Director’s Final Report, demonstrating that Pearson would not have an enrollment issue if not for students being sent to Hayden.

“Lester B. Pearson High School is also the only school in the Halton District School Board that provides Extended French at the secondary school level. The students in this program begin extended French in Grade 7.”

This is correct but extended French is only one of several one-of-a-kind features of Pearson High School. The co-op nursery is correctly mentioned further below in the Director’s Final Report. The natural surroundings of the forest allow for unique learning opportunities. The third gymnasium increases sport opportunities. Pearson’s lower capacity gives it unique, well-established strengths, such as less bullying, better social bonds, more opportunities to play on a sport team and/or join other competitive clubs.

Indeed, the student survey (contained in the Director’s Final Report) indicated that Pearson ranked #1 for percentage of students who agreed that their teachers knew something about them (e.g. interests, strengths and how they learn best), #1 for having an adult they could connect with, and #2 in participation in extracurricular activities.

It is therefore no surprise that Pearson regularly punches above its weight in the Fraser Institute rankings of secondary schools. Pearson has the second highest average score over the past five years among Burlington public secondary schools. This is not despite its small size; it is because of it.

“The result of this low enrolment is a diminished ability for the school to provide the same breadth and range of programs for the students as other schools in Halton.”

Nobody doubts that Pearson has low enrolment (though its utilization rate is higher than that of M.M. Robinson). However, as explained above, the Director’s Final Report fails to properly explain how this came about.

Equally important is that he has not given the trustees simple solutions to this low enrolment that do not involve closing Pearson. The simple, obvious answer: redesign the catchments and feeder schools to ensure that (a) Pearson has its fair share of students, (b) Hayden, which is bursting at the seams, is brought down to a proper utilization of 90-100 percent, and (c) M.M. Robinson also sees an increase in students, including from Bateman High School should it be closed (though this is not being advocated), or through redistribution that allows students to go to their closest high school. Figure 3 shows the current feeder schools, demonstrating the imbalance that can be easily fixed.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Feeder schools to the high schools in the north — note the lopsided distribution favouring Hayden while starving Pearson.  (There is no figure 2)

“In order to take specific or desired courses, many students have resorted to online offerings.”

The Director’s Final Report contradicts itself here, as it references in an appendix the student survey which indicates that Pearson has the second lowest percentage of students among Burlington public high schools needing to take online offerings, well below the city’s average (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4 – percentage of students taking online courses

Regardless, this argument is invalid as there are more than enough students in the north of Burlington to fill Pearson’s hallways and provide more course offerings.

“Second, this situation will be exacerbated as it is expected the number of students attending Lester B. Pearson High School will decrease by an additional 70 students by 2025.”

Once again, this assertion rests on the assumption that Pearson would not be given any more students while Hayden bursts at the seams and M.M. Robinson takes on students from Bateman and the Evergreen and Alton West developments.

Perhaps most worrying for parents and students in North Burlington is that the Director’s Final Report fails to take into account (a) turnover in North Burlington as more baby boomers sell their homes to young families; and (b) that there will be more development in the north than that which is noted in the report: the Adi proposed development is over 600 residential units, and the Valera road development is expected to have 400 residential units. Furthermore, North Burlington has seen a trend of multiple families moving into singly houses, leading to having twice or more the number of high school students per household.

“Another issue occurring as a result of low enrolment is the impact on the students’ pathways. At present, the numbers reflecting Lester B. Pearson High School students’ pathway choices are as follows:

Figure 5

Figure 5 The Director’s Final Report emphasized low enrollment for applied students in Grade 9, neglecting to mention the reason why enrollment is so low: Grade 9 students being sent to portables in the Hayden parking lot.

“Unfortunately the low number of students and staff has prevented the school from providing the same breadth of programming offered in other Halton District School Board schools. This is most evident given the low number of students in applied programming and subsequently the college pathway, resulting in these students having fewer options or little flexibility in selecting courses they can take.

“Schools are required to provide a pathway to graduation for all students. This means the school will have some smaller classes (for example, 11 students in Grade 9 Applied), and in order to be compliant with staffing formulas and provincial mandates, will have some larger classes to offset the smaller numbers. Consequently, not only is the range of course selection not available to students but there is also a greater disparity between class sizes.”

This entire section is based on the false assumption that there aren’t enough students available in North Burlington to bring Pearson back up to better utilization levels. The arguments made above make clear that this is not only possible, but an excellent option for managing overcrowding at Hayden and the new developments, as well as the fast rate of turnover in North Burlington communities.

Again this is likely to be exacerbated as the projections indicate a continued decline in enrollment.

Again, these projections are based on the inaccurate assumption that there aren’t any students available to bring to Pearson. The above statement seeks to create urgency where there is none.

“Lester B. Pearson High School is 1.9 kilometres from M.M. Robinson High School. Students who currently attend Lester B. Pearson High School are within the walking distance to M.M. Robinson High School. A closure of Lester B. Pearson High School will not result in an increase in bussing costs for the Halton District School Board.”

This is technically correct yet misleading. If Pearson were to stay open and the catchment areas appropriately reshaped, there would be less students bussing, meaning a cost savings for the Halton District School Board.

Regardless, HDSB representatives have stated on several occasions that it’s about the students, not the money.

“At present there is a nursery school located in Lester B. Pearson High School. This is a longstanding relationship between the City of Burlington and the Board, and since the mid-1970s has become part of the fabric of the Lester B. Pearson High School community. If the recommendation to close Lester B. Pearson High School is approved, the Halton District School Board will engage with the appropriate municipal partners to investigate available options for a continued relationship with the Halton District School Board.”

The promise to “investigate available options” should be interpreted as the Board has not undertaken sufficient consultation on this important issue up to this point, and is not making any commitment to maintain the co-op nursery.

Furthermore, the Director’s Final Report is recommending keeping Hayden as an over-capacity mega school, and turning M.M. Robinson into an over-capacity mega school (see Figure 6 below). It does not take into account new growth in North Burlington, nor the aggressive turnover in Headon Forest and Palmer neighbourhoods, which will take Hayden and M.M. Robinson to unsustainable levels.

Given that these schools will be filled to the brim, are we to believe that there will be space to maintain the co-op nursery?

Figure 6

Figure 6 – Mega schools projected for the north if Pearson closes (before taking into account increased enrollment due to new developments and residential turnover)


“Lester B. Pearson High School has served its students and community very well for the past 40 years; however, its enrolment has been in decline for some time. It is currently less than 65% of capacity, and by 2025 it is expected to decline to 55%.”

Having read this far, trustees already know that Pearson would only decline to 55% if catchments weren’t appropriately reshaped. To assume that Pearson would decline to 55% is to assume that Hayden would be at 140%, which is the status quo prediction for that school in 2025. Everyone knows that Hayden’s over-utilization is unsustainable, and that Pearson has space to accommodate those students. Therefore, the conclusion of Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report is misleading.

“Based on the two identified criteria for a program and accommodation review (PAR):

“1. The school or group of schools has/have experienced or will experience declining enrolment where on-the-ground (OTG) capacity utilization rate is below 65%.


“2. Reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities.

“Lester B. Pearson High School meets the criteria for a PAR, and subsequently is recommended for closure.”

Pearson would not have met the criteria for a PAR if it weren’t for the redistribution of its students to Hayden High School.

In conclusion, trustees must question the validity of the evidence brought forward through the Director’s Final Report to support a closure of Pearson High School.

Two final questions for trustees as they make their decision on whether to close Pearson:

(1) Is it in the best interests of students and the community to close Pearson, leaving North Burlington with two schools with over 1300 students, already over capacity before taking into account new developments and residential turnover?

(2) If trustees decide to close Pearson high school, will they, in 10 years’ time, receive a Director’s Final Report requesting $35 million to open a new school in north Burlington, and on what land will that school sit?

I respectfully submit that you must, given the evidence, decline Recommendation 2 and ask the Director to provide options for redistributing Hayden’s student population to Pearson and M.M Robinson.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by delaying a decision on closing Pearson until the true enrollment figures are clarified after a redistribution of Hayden (and possibly Bateman) students, and the new developments in the North are completed.

The Director’s Final Report has not met the burden of evidence for a closure of Pearson High School.

Thank you,

Rory Nisan
Lester B. Pearson Alumnus (class of 2001)

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The original option to close Central and Pearson got changed to a recommendation to close Pearson and Bateman. Best decision? - then why wasn't it the original option?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 23, 2017



Few will differ with the Director of Education on the decision that lets Central high school remain open.
This will be third time that Central has overcome a decision to close the oldest school in the city.

The evidence the school parents brought forward was evidence that was already there – the Board staff either didn’t see it or didn’t want to see it.

MMW with T - shirt

Meed Ward went to Queen’s Park – as a lifelong Liberal she nevertheless stood beside the Progressive Conservative leader to make her point. The words on that T shirt would serve her well in the 2018 municipal election.

Some have suggested that Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward choosing to accept the parent request that she sit on the PARC was what made the difference. Meed Ward wasn’t all that effective – a better way of putting that is to say that she has been much more effective at city hall than she was during the PARC process.

Did Meed Ward save Central? Certainly not. She has had to put up with a lot of undeserved political heat for the decision she made. This isn’t the first time she has had to put up with the small mindedness of her city council colleagues. She has prevailed.

The Central parents put out a statement earlier today saying:

“We strongly support a no school closure option and are disappointed that any schools have been named; we feel for the Bateman and Pearson communities as well as the Hayden FI community as we know first hand what it feels like to sit in this position.

Silent auction Joe Dogs

The Central parents held a silent auction – raised $14,000 and had a war chest to dip into.

“We do acknowledge that the Board is in a position where the Ministry leaves little choice but to close schools in order to maximize funding. We feel that the director and staff have done their best to ensure that the new recommendation considers the best interests of students in all of Burlington. Maintaining schools in every community will benefit the greatest number of students by providing maximum opportunity to allow students to walk, bike and participate in extra- curricular activities as well as keep busing to a minimum which is also fiscally and environmentally responsible.

“From day one we have stressed that impacting the least number of students negatively should be a primary focus and feel that this option does reflect that goal. We also stressed the impact on the students in grade 7 and 8 who are currently housed at Burlington Central and who were not being considered as part of the process.

“We took effort and care to prove that Central was not the problem beyond a shadow of a doubt. The new recommendation outlines all the reasons that Burlington Central should never have been named in the first place. We will continue to delegate and push forward to remind the trustees of this until the final vote on June 7th.

“We want to thank all of the Central Strong Community for the support and commitment over the past few months, with a special thanks to our PARC representatives as this was no easy task. This has been an emotional roller coaster and we wouldn’t have had this success without the help of each and every one of you.”

Meed Ward herself was not available for comment

The Director’s report chose to say that the overflow into Nelson made it necessary to keep Central open. A specious argument if there ever was one.

Closing central would have left such a huge hole between Aldershot and Nelson that would require hundreds of students to be bussed at a cost that was estimated to come in at $400,000 a year forever.

Map #1 - all schools

The strongest argument Central had was this map. The picture was worth more than one thousand words.

While city council wasn’t prepared to take a position on the evidence that was on the table Meed Ward was. The political blow back on that Meed Ward choice will continue for a while but longer term the public will see that she not only was capable of walking into turbulent political water she actually did just that. Not something the current Mayor is inclined to do.

On this occasion Meed Ward didn’t just “talk the talk” – she “walked the talk”. The city is the better for that choice.

The closure of Robert Bateman High School and the associated redirection of the English program students to Nelson High School, as well as the relocation of the Regional Essential, LEAP and CPP programs, will result in a substantial increase in enrollments at Nelson High School. In order to provide some accommodation relief at Nelson High School, a review of the existing boundaries was undertaken to determine if there were any opportunities to redirect some areas out of the Nelson High School catchment area.

The existing Tecumseh Public School Grade 8 cohort is split between two high schools: those students residing east of Guelph Line attend Nelson High School, while those west of Guelph Line attend Burlington Central High School. In order to ensure the Tecumseh Public School Grade 8 cohort would remain together, the entire Tecumseh Public School catchment area is designated to be redirected and included within the Burlington Central High School catchment area. Unifying the cohort would provide accommodation relief to Nelson High School, and enhance Burlington Central High School enrollments by providing additional students to that school’s population.

In order to ensure an appropriate transition, grand parenting will occur. This will result in the redirection of all Tecumseh Public School students entering the Grade 9 English program in September 2018 to Burlington Central High School, including those east of Guelph Line. As of September 2018, Grade 10, 11, and 12 English students currently attending Nelson High School from the Tecumseh Public School catchment area will be grand parented to remain at Nelson High School until they graduate.

Now – what does the Board of Education do with the Central facilities? The school was neglected for so long that its condition was terrible. The students put up with a lot. It was a little like a slum landlord letting a property deteriorate to the point where it had to be demolished.

Central property aerial

Could an indoor swimming pool be placed on this site? Could the high school be designated as an historical site? Can Central be brought back to the condition it should have been put in 15 years ago.

The set up on the property at the corner of Brant and Baldwin includes everything from junior kindergarten to grade 12. The addition of the International Baccalaureate will make the school complex just that much more complete.

The facilities need to be upgraded to the level that exists at Hayden. The property to the west of the school – now a playing field owned by the city, is just the kind of location for an indoor swimming pool where there is a more than dense enough population to ensure very heavy use.

While the decision was the right one – the question Lisa Bull, a Bateman parent asks – is still very relevant.
“I am extremely curious about his (Miller’s) change from recommending Central (and Pearson) for closure in his first recommendation to Bateman (and Pearson) in today’s report. I question the influence of a sitting City council member on the PAR Committee and want to better understand the role this played in Director Miller’s change of heart.”

PARC anxious parent

Was it the power of prayer that brought about the change in the Director of Educations final recommendation? Lynn Crosby at a PARC meeting.

What was it that brought about the change in the minds of the Board staff and the Director of Education (it certainly wasn’t a change of heart) that resulted in the decision to keep Central open?

That is a question the trustee’s will have to determine when they confer with the Director; it might well be an issue that the Bateman parents delegate on as well. The matter is in their hands.

The Central parents are breathing a huge sigh of relief however this is not the time for them to rest on their oars. The building is in poor shape – it needs the treatment the old Laura Secord property on Lakeshore Road got (now the Paletta Mansion) that brought it back to what it was intended to look like.

Is the high school a heritage site? Should it be one? The parents might want to go after that designation as they work towards that point in time where the school is never threatened with closure again.

Part 1 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

Part 2 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

Part 3 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

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Vulnerable students at Bateman high school are going to need very special consideration if the school does close.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 22, 2017



Part 3 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

Rationale: Closing Robert Bateman High School

Friday was a very tough day for the parents of students at Robert Bateman high school. The Director of Education has recommended to the trustees that the school be closed effective September 2019

Some background:

In 2004, Lord Elgin High School was consolidated with General Brock High School forming a new school named Robert Bateman High School in the original Lord Elgin facility.

FIRE Bateman principal at siren

Bateman principal Mark Duley ringing a fire siren during a cooking contest with fire department staff.

The consolidation, in part, was undertaken to address declining enrollment in both schools at the time. There were also significant facility enhancements made to the newly consolidated Robert Bateman High School. The enrollment in the Robert Bateman catchment area has continued to decline. As a result of declining enrollment in the catchment area, the school offers and houses many regional programs including International Baccalaureate, Regional Essential program, LEAP, and the Community Pathways Program.

Bateman student population

Bateman student population by year and by grade.

These regional programs have improved the diversity and inclusive nature of the school, but there are still great challenges with low enrollment in the catchment area that impacts regular English programming. This is projected to continue. The school is currently at 59% utilization, below the 65% Board criteria, and is projected to decline to 50% by 2026.

FIRE table 2 tattoo guy

Burlington fire fighter explaining the fine points on ingredients to be used during a cook-off contest at the school.

Currently there are 283 students in the English program within the catchment area of Robert Bateman High School. There are an additional 51 students in the International Baccalaureate Program and 36 students in Essential and Special Education programs within the catchment area.

The total number of students in the English program (including 87 students in regional programs) is
370. This is the lowest enrollment number within a Burlington high school’s catchment area.

This utilization factor includes the regional programs, as Robert Bateman High School is the site for students from the entire city of Burlington. The students in north Burlington attending some of these regional programs are being bussed to the south.

M.M. Robinson High School and Robert Bateman High School are similar facilities and both are experiencing low utilization rates and this is projected to continue.

Bateman Robinson utilization rates

The utilization for both Robinson and Bateman were falling off – putting the two schools together seemed to be a solution. The right one?

In addition, students currently residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 in Burlington are bussed to Robert Bateman High School to attend regional programs there. The creation of a regional Essential Program at M.M. Robinson High School will allow students to attend a school in closer proximity to their homes and also provide the added benefit of continuity of program with the existing CPP program at the school.

Clustering regional programs into one school site disadvantages students as they must travel greater distances to meet their program needs and interests. The students in Burlington would be better served by establishing a school site in both the north and the south that provide similar regional programs. Students would have the same opportunities and be closer to their homes. It also enhances the diversity and inclusiveness in more than one site in Burlington.

Regional programs have been moved successfully each year, from school to school. Our history has proven these programs are transferable and our transition approaches have proven effective in support of students.

Although Robert Bateman High School has had facility enhancements to accommodate regional programs, the declining enrollment in the catchment area and in these programs is problematic.

The two criteria which triggered the PAR are based on students and program:

1. The school or group of schools has/have experienced or will experience declining enrolment where on-the-ground (OTG) capacity utilization rate is below 65%.
2. Reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities.

Nelson High School is 1.9 kilometres from Robert Bateman High School and has an enrolment within its current catchment area of more than 1,000 students. This number, although fluctuating slightly, is projected to remain above 1,000 through 2026. The utilization rate in the same time period ranges from 75% to 87%.

Nelson utilization

Nelson’s utilization numbers become possible if Bateman students move in. Was this the only resolution to the problem?


The close proximity of Robert Bateman High School and Nelson High School within walking distance of each other, posed a challenge in determining the most advantageous site in which to house regional programs. The combined catchment areas of the two schools (excluding regional programs) is within the on-the-ground (OTG) capacity of either Nelson or Robert Bateman High Schools.

The parameters used for the PAR, however, are related to utilization and enhancement of program.

Recommending a closure of Nelson High School would result in the relocation of more than 1,000 students in the foreseeable future. Facility enhancements and purpose-built facilities can be accommodated at Nelson High School. The regional programs of south Burlington can be housed in Nelson High School. This does not require the relocation of more than 1,000 students or a recommended closure of a school with a catchment area of up to 84% utilization. Subsequently, it allows the Halton District School Board to have vibrant regional programs in the northwest and the southeast of Burlington.

If the recommended option is approved, it will also result in the relocation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program to Burlington Central High School. Like other regional programs, the International Baccalaureate program can be relocated to another school.

There are requirements for its site relocation as defined by the IB International governing body which will be strictly adhered to.

Presently there are 174 students in the International Baccalaureate track (Grade 9 and 10 pre-IB and Grade 11 and 12 IB) at Robert Bateman High School. By contrast, White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville has 507 students in its pre-IB and IB program. The IB program has been housed at Robert Bateman High School since January 2001 and the enrollment has fluctuated and has presented a challenge. Moving the IB program to Burlington Central High School may enhance uptake of this program as it is in a more central location.

Finally, consolidating Robert Bateman High School and Nelson High School will allow program enhancement for students currently in both schools, offering them now, and in the future, greater equity of opportunity as a result of the broader range of courses and programs. With a greater number of staff and students, there will be more opportunities for co-curricular activities.

FIRE ist an 2nd place cooks

Fireman and students whoop it up when the winners of a cooking contest are announced.

Implications of Closing Robert Bateman high school.
Closure of Robert Bateman High School, and the resulting movement of the English program to Nelson High School

Program Changes that will take place should Robert Bateman High School be closed:

• September 2019, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program will move to Burlington Central High School.

• September 2019, a second Essential Program site will be established in Burlington; Nelson High School will serve students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403, while students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

• September 2019, two sites for the Community Pathways Program (CPP) will continue to be offered; students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School, and students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

• September 2019, the LEAP program will be offered in two locations; students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School, while students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

There are teachers at Bateman High that would like to see this much effort IN the classroom. The football players take their message to the streets.

Bateman high school students staged a protest when they were told that there wouldn’t be a football team that year. Spunky bunch.

Student Movement with the closure of Robert Bateman High School:

• September 2018, English Program students entering Grade 9 will attend Nelson High School.

• September 2019, English Program students entering Grades 11 and 12 will move to Nelson High School.

• September 2018, Grade 9 students entering the International Baccalaureate Program (pre-IB) will attend Burlington Central High School.

• September 2019, students entering into Grades 11 and 12 (IB program) will move to Burlington Central High School.

• September 2018, Essential Program students entering Grade 9 and residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School.

• September 2018, Essential Program students entering Grade 9 and residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M Robinson High School

• September 2019, Essential/Workplace Program students entering Grades 11 and 12 currently attending Robert Bateman High School will move to Nelson High School.

• September 2018, all Community Pathways Program students (Grades 9 to 12) attending Robert Bateman will continue at Robert Bateman High School.

• September 2019, Community Pathways Program students attending Robert Bateman HS will move to Nelson High School.

• September 2019, LEAP students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

• September 2019, LEAP students residing south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School.

• September 2018, students entering into Grade 9 in the Gifted program who reside south of the QEW/Hwy 403 will attend Nelson High School, while students residing north of the QEW/Hwy 403 and entering Grade 9 will attend M.M. Robinson High School.

• September 2018, students in existing Grades 10 to 12 Secondary Gifted Placement at Nelson High School will be grandparented at Nelson High School until graduation.

• September 2018, Grade 8 students from Pineland Public School will move together to Nelson High School as a cohort (English and French Immersion)

Other Considerations:
• Facility enhancements or additions to address program needs at Nelson High School re: Community Pathways Program (CPP) and technological education programs

• Aldershot High School will be explored as a magnet or themed school

• IB training and certification for administrators and staff at Burlington Central High School as mandated by the IB governing body.


The parent turn out at the public meeting during which Board staff were on hand to explain what the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) was all about drew less than five parents.

There is no nice way to explain this closure. When the original recommendation to close Central and Pearson high schools Bateman and Nelson seemed to take the position that they were safe – they would not be closed.
But as the PARC process rolled out and the Central parents mobilized themselves and asked a lot of questions closing Central no longer seemed like such a good idea.

Lisa Bull, one of the two Bateman PARC members did all she could to get the Board to think about innovative ideas – she wasn’t wrong, but it was a little too late in the game to get the Board to look at things differently.

This experience is probably one of the most disappointing in Bull’s professional career – the woman holds a Master’s degree in Education.

Does Bateman have a case they can take to the trustees? So far they have not managed to bring forward any solid evidence. There are students that are very vulnerable and any change is going to disrupt their lives.

The task for the Bateman parents at this point is to ensure that their student population is not harmed by a closing and a move.

There are some really fine programs at that school – they will be missed. The cooking programs should not be lost in the shuffle – and some way has to be found to ensure that the swimming pool is not lost to the community.

The Bateman parents have a lot of work to do to ensure that they are well taken care of during what is a very difficult time.

Lisa Bull said she was “devastated and shocked by Director Miller’s recommendations. I am also extremely curious about his change from recommending Central (and Pearson) for closure in his first recommendation to Bateman (and Pearson) in today’s report. I question the influence of a sitting City council member on the PAR Committee and want to better understand the role this played in Director Miller’s change of heart. Most importantly I will continue to work closely with the Robert Bateman community on creating impactful delegations for the Board of Trustees.”

“There are far too many vulnerable students who would be impacted by the closure of our school so we will not stop fighting.”

Part 1 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

Part 2 of a series on the recommendation to close two Burlington high schools.

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Downtown residents give their response to some critical questions about the kind of city we build.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2017



The room was full. It was a rainy night but under 100 people showed up for an information session on their vision for the downtown part of the city. The focus was on mobility hubs.

The Gazette will do a more in-depth report – this is a first look at the kind of questions that were asked and the answers given

There were some surprises.

Clicker being used

A participant using the hand held device to record their answer to the question being asked.

There were 12 questions asked.  The question was put up on a screen – the people in the room had been given hand held clickers that they could use to indicate their choice.

We report on two of the questions in this early look at what was an important event.  There will be a follow up meeting in June for the people in Ward 2.

The intention is to hold similar session for each of the four mobility hubs that city has identified.

This is city building at its best.  How it will roll out is going to be interesting to watch.

Transit question

These answers are going to surprise the Bfast people and give Burlington Transit a lot to think about.

There were a number of developers in the room along with just about everyone that mattered from the Planning department.  On the political side – Councillors Taylor and Meed Ward were in the room along with the Mayor who opened the session. More to follow.

Family oriented

So much for the argument that we need more people downtown to make the core the vibrant place everyone appears to want it to become.


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Public peek at what the mobility hub planners are doing amounted to some maps and a lot of cupcakes.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 13th, 2017



We were unable to cover the Open House the city held at the new Go Bold offices that have been set up for the planners that are doing the big think on the four mobility hubs that have become the hot new buzz words at city hall. Mobility hubs seems to have replaced intensification.

Mobility hubs

The downtown hub is the first of the four that is going to get the “community engagement” treatment.

Earlier in the week the city’s communications people set up a conference call that allowed us to exchange views with Mary Lou Tanner, Director of Planning.

The Gazette had a very poor connection – not sure if the problem was on our end or theirs – but it was difficult to have an in depth conversation with Tanner, who is usually quite willing to explain and put forward the reasons for the decisions made and the work being done by her department.

What we did learn was that the mobility hub intention is for people to be able to walk within the defined area of each mobility hub – and that the longest walking distance would be around a mile in length.

Ann McIlroy and Associates are on a three year contract to work with the Go Bold mobility hub team. The McIlroy team have done a lot of work with and for Burlington in the past. One of the more recent assignments was the detailed planning for the new Beachway Park. A lot of the very early design work was done by McIlroy.


Much of the original design work for the Beachway Park concepts was done by Ann McIlroy and Associates – they are advising the city on the mobility hub thinking.

Tanner described mobility hubs as a “higher order of transit” and said there was some science behind this kind of transportation thinking. The intention was to have “area specific plans” for each of the mobility hubs with the downtown hub being the first to get attention from the planners and the Grow Bold team.

The first meeting, the one that took place Wednesday evening, was intended to introduce people to the concept. A colleague of ours, comes out of the real estate sector, described the event as “underwhelming”

“I went to the Mobility Hub Open House. Just a few maps up on display and an “ask” for emails addresses so we could be kept informed. Lots of treats (cakes and candy) and coffee.”

There is another meeting scheduled for June 2nd that will focus on that downtown mobility hub with additional meetings to follow in the fall. Each of the hubs is to get this multi-meeting community engagement touch.

Jennifer Johnson at Lakeside Plaza visioning

The public was heavily involved in community engagement meetings where people poured over plans for a proposal the city had encouraged for the east end Lakeside Village Plaza.

When the community engagement and the deep thinking is complete a report will go to city council where the Planner will ask for directions.

The approach for the Official Plan, which also comes out of the Planning department, where Andrea Smith, Manager of Policy and Research has been focused on getting the new Official Plan ready for the public. Smith spent years working on a revision of the old Official Plan. When Mary Lou Tanner was appointed the new Director of Planning she decided to press the reset button, take a pause and ask if the old Official Plan was worth a revision.

This is the Escarpment we are talking about. Our country, our rural country - forever.

The Escarpment is basically out of bounds from a planning perspective – except for some growth in the hamlets – Kilbride and Lowville.

Tanner apparently decided that a totally new plan was needed – and that is what the city is now looking at.
The draft Official Plan that is being reviewed now is meant to align with the Strategic Plan; the approach being that the Official Plan is expected to create rules and regulations for developers to have a clear idea of what the city want to get done on the next 20 years. At this point we know that we are to grow up and not out – and that all this has to be done within the urban boundary. The Escarpment is out of bounds.

There are going to be three months of discussion and community engagement with perhaps ward specific meetings.

Municipal politics is like any other form of government – new brooms can be brought in and the Strategic Plan scrapped – the planners then have to tinker with and revise the Official Plan – an action that drives people in this city bananas.

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Mobility hubs the latest buzz word to come out of city hall - might replace intensification which seems to have become a non issue.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2017



City council has decided that growth and development is, to a large degree, going to be centered around Mobility hubs and they want you to help them do that work.

Mobility hubs

Four mobility hubs – expected to be the preferred locations for future commercial growth and development.

There are two meetings taking place.

The city has invited the public into their new Locust Street Grow Bold offices on April 12th. “Individuals interested in learning more about the Mobility Hubs studies are welcome to drop by to meet the city staff working on the Mobility Hubs studies and to ask questions. Refreshments will be provided along with fun activities and games.”

Takes place on Wednesday, April 12 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Mobility Hubs Office, 1455 Lakeshore Rd., Unit 7 (across the street from the ESSO gas station)


Mary Lou Tanner, Director of Planning and Building for the city.

Mary Lou Tanner, Chief Planner and Director of Planning and Building explains the purpose of the meeting: “The city needs to hear from the entire community about what they love and value in their downtown so that we can create a long-term vision that continues to make downtown Burlington a great place to live, work, shop and play.

“There is a lot of interest in our downtown from developers. As our city grows, we will receive more and more requests for new buildings of all sizes. With input from the community, the land-use policies created through the Downtown Mobility Hub study will help ensure we have the type of growth in our downtown that we want.”

Once approved, the policies created through Burlington’s Downtown Mobility Hub study will be adopted as part of the city’s new Official Plan.

The offices on Locust Street are not that large – if the weather is good the overflow can spill out onto the side walk cafes on Lakeshore.

Grow bold - front door

Home to the people who are going to focus on our growth.

On April 20th, city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will return to her Downtown Visioning project and focus on mobility hubs and the role they play. This meeting takes place at Burlington Lions Club Hall, 471 Pearl St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Halton Region is anticipated to grow from 530,000 to one million people by 2041. The Province of Ontario’s provincial growth plan, Places to Grow, mandates the City of Burlington plan for a population of 193,000 by 2031.

Just what are mobility hubs? There is a general idea but specifics and details are far from being worked out. The prime objective will be to find ways to move all these people around efficiently.

To get this worked out in the next 18 months is a challenge and include it in the Official Plan

A number of years ago Burlington Transit decided they would shut down the small terminal office on John Street where people were able to buy bus tickets and update their Presto cards. That idea didn’t last very long – what was stunning to many who know something about transit was that the idea actually got to a city council meeting.


John Street transit station was at one point thought to be past its Best Before date. Clearer minds looked at the property again and decided it could get an upgrade to the status of a mobility hub.

What the city has done is set out where the mobility hubs are to be located and have produced a draft Official Plan that focuses on the four locations.

Mobility Hubs locations are around the city’s three GO stations, Aldershot, Appleby and Burlington, and the downtown bus terminal; this is where new growth and development over the next 20 years is to take place.

The city plans to hoist a number of engagement opportunities over the next 18 months to gather input from residents and businesses about how they’d like to see these areas grow and change in the future.

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Resident doesn't like the look of the transportation ideas - thinks planners are saying - support biking, stay home or get out of Burlington.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

April 6th, 2017


City council will begin discussion of the draft Official Plan this week.  Opinions are already being formed.

There are so many problems with Burlington’s official plan update that it’s hard to zero in on the most problematic element. Leaving alone for a moment the massive green space loss or the complete lack of any mathematical forecasting, the transit plan is truly insane.

My largest problem when running for Regional Chair in 2014 is that I just could not get people to accept what the cities future transit plans actually are. People would just say “That is crazy” and look at me like I must not understand the plan. Either read what is coming out of the city or take my word for it. The future of Burlington is city wide deliberately induced gridlock.

I realize that this is so divorced from reality that the average resident of Burlington simply cannot accept this is the cities plan. It is simple – keep jamming people in until roads are mostly impassible and largely slower than walking. People will then seek “alternatives” once they realize they can walk or bike to a location in just hours vs multiple hours of driving. If you are disabled, elderly or have a schedule that doesn’t support biking, stay home or get out of Burlington.

The first problem is that I would say you need a public mandate to do this. This certainly does not exist. The draft says the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to mobility” (Page 14 in the link below). Right now for example you might like to drive to the gym. In the new city walking and biking should be your forms of city recommend exercise. In the future city staff will decide what you do, how and when you move around. The city needs to execute the mandate of citizens, not try to force everyone to do as they think we should.

The second problem is that the transit plan cannot withstand even light mathematical examination. It can’t possibly achieve its own goals. You won’t see numeric calculations coming from the city – because they won’t add up. To believe that 300,000 people are place-able in Burlington with “No New Car Capacity” (Page 15 in the link below) is to believe we will have pedestrian rates orders of magnitude higher than Paris France. As I delegated to council:

Even if you line up Paradigm developments along every possible place all the way down Plains road – you will never get a pedestrian commercial base. There is no mathematically possible pedestrian city on a single straight road. Cities are built in grids for a reason – it is the only way to get transit time low and have the density for a partly pedestrian customer base.

The last problem and most deeply troubling aspect of this is the underlying theory behind it. This mentality places the city in direct opposition to you. Your goal might be to take your kids to soccer practice. This “unsustainable transit pattern” makes the city wish you didn’t. You want to visit your Mother after work – the city wishes you didn’t. It’s all to pretend that intensification doesn’t need increased infrastructure to support it. That an infinitely increasing population doesn’t cost anything in money or environment because the city now rations “what is” out.

They can’t figure out a transportation strategy for this mess of intensification. So now “untransportation” is desirable. Not enough water – the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to bathing.” Not enough parks – the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to sports activities.” This “reprioritization” is to no longer do what is best for yourself, but instead do what city planners have rationed out for you.

Since we still live in a democracy – it will not work. Once the main streets are nothing but micro businesses very few trips will be to them; just past them. The constant gridlock will be the largest issue and people will not care beyond mobility. This will give rise to and elect a class of politician that will run on and expand the road base. Though since staff have worked deliberately to make this difficult, the roads will now expand in ugly and awkward way.

If you want 300,000 people in Burlington then we need developments totally concentrated in the down town core – it’s the only place with a grid. Yes, you will need an aggressive walking, biking and public transit strategy. But you will also need the major arteries of Burlington expanded to 6 lanes, plus a dedicated bike path, plus a large public walking space. You can get into fanciful debates as to what you want to do in those extra lanes – single passenger cars, rapid bus transit, street car, etc. But they need to be reserved and planned as if they will exist.

There is no possible benefit to this gridlock – hundreds of thousands of cars idling and caught in congestion will have a far higher environmental footprint than a hand full of bikers can ever offset. Congestion helps big box retailers and hurts small business – this can only lead to greater commercial concentration. The idea “if you build roads people are going to use them” so if we stop building them people will then not use to road we didn’t build.

This is just idiocy. If you feed starving children they are just going to keep eating and eating; to a point yes. If you provide houses with water people are just going to keep bathing and bathing; to a point yes. However I consider the ability to feed, bath and get my kids to soccer – all as positives.

I’m pretty sure the rest of Burlington does as well.

Background link:

Official Plan report to city council committee

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who rant for the office of Regional chair in the last municipal election.

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Project that will put a high rise opposite city hall gets a good response from its first presentation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 5th, 2017



It was the same room, basically the same crowd three years later, but the mood was a lot different.

Last week the Carriage Gate group told the public what they had in mind for the corner of Brant and James Street – across the street from city hall.

They set out a number of charts and large blow ups at the front of the room of the 27 story tower they wanted to build – one got the impression that the developer was going to talk about the project. Everything seemed to be out front.

Three years ago the Adi Development Group was in the same room. There were no large blow ups of the project they were about to explain to the public and the audience was in no mood to listen. That project kept going downhill from the moment the architect began to explain the project and is now before the Ontario Municipal Board.

From civic sq

Twenty seven storey’s high – directly across the street from city hall.

The mood was so positive that if the Carriage Gate people had had some sales agreements on the table there were people in the room  quite prepared to sign on the dotted line and put down a deposit.

There were some who thought it was a “terrible” idea and the issue of traffic and parking reared its head. Burlington and cars have always had an awkward relationship.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is no fan of tall buildings, got the meeting off to a decent start. The Mayor and ward 3 Councillor John Taylor were on hand along with a couple of other people from the city’s planning department.

Mobility hubs

Four mobility hubs are in the planning process. The plan appears to be to focus on the downtown hub first.

The public got to hear about the group that has been created to study and develop the concept of “mobility hubs” – something that has become the most recent buzz word for planners.

Kyle Plas, the senior city planner on this project explained where the project was from a planners perspective and took the audience through the process of getting it before city council where a decision is made.

Carriage Gate is looking for both Official Plan changes and zoning changes. This project would come under the existing Official Plan which is now more than 20 years old and as Mark Bayles, the Carriage Gate manager who would be overseeing the development of the project, explained in his opening comments “the existing plan no longer reflects where development is going.

Carriage Gate team

From th left, Robert Glover, an urban planner, Ed Fothergill, planer and Mark Bales, project manager with Carriage Gate

Carriage Gate has assembled a solid team to shepherd this through the approvals process.

Ed Fothergill, a planning consultant who has advised on many of the Molinaro projects and was the advisor to the Carriage Gate people on this project explained the planning environment that everyone has to work within.

Statements PPS, Big Move - Greenblt

Policy documents that set out the rules planners have to work within and comply with.

It includes the provinces Provincial Policy Statement in which the province sets out where the growth is going to take place; the Greenbelt policy, which for Burlington means the Escarpment and The Big Move which is the framework that the GO transit people work within out of which comes the mobility hub concept.

The GO train service west of Toronto is going to be improved to 15 minute service and eventually it will be electrified.

The improvement in GO frequency is intended to get cars off the QEW and handle the expected population growth.

Podium portion along Brant St

Close up of the Brant street side of the building. The city wanted smaller shops at the street level; the developer had no problem complying. The restaurant on the site is to be included in the building.

Many in Burlington don’t like the idea of growth – but the population of the city is going to grow – the province has said that is what is in the cards, and because we can no longer grow out, – there isn’t much more left for development within the urban boundary for new development the growth will be up, not out. Thus the high rise.

Given that there are going to be buildings in the 27 story and higher range where should they go?

Robert Glover, an architect and planner with the Bousfields, a community planning firm that has handled some of the more impressive developments in Ontario gave the audience his take on how Burlington and high rise buildings are going to learn to live together.

Where big buildings are

Tall buildings in Burlington tend to be away from the downtown core and on either side of Brant Street.

He explained that Burlington has a lot of tall buildings – mostly in the 8 to 12 storey range that are set out in different parts of the city with a concentration along Maple Avenue.

Glover said his view was that with buildings all over the city Brant Street was sort of an orphan with very little that would attract pedestrian traffic. The view he put forward was that Brant needed to become the spine that buildings would be anchored along. The Carriage Gate project was to be the first. The development that is known at this point by it’s address  – 421 Brant – they have yet to release the name for the project.

View from John Street side

The view from the corner of John and James.

Glover set out how he thought the city and the high rise development that is on its way would evolve.  Brant Street would become the spine on which development would be anchored.  The Street would have one of the four mobility hubs at the bottom one block to the east and a second mobility hub at Fairview – a part of a block to the east.

The public in general doesn’t know all that much about mobility hubs – the city has planned a public meeting for April 12th where people can get to meet the Mobility Hubs Team.
The houses in the city are now so expensive – we are seeing $1 million homes in what are described as normal suburban communities.

Nick Carnacelli

Nick Carnicelli

The principles in any development seldom take to the stage.  They sit in the audience and listen carefully trying to get a sense of the audience and how they feel about the project that is being explained.  Nick Carnicelli sat off to the side and seemed satisfied with the way the meeting had gone.

He had every reason to feel satisfied – his people had put on a good presentation; they answered all the questions and didn’t duck any of the issues.

Parking seemed to be the one that bothered people the most.  The plan presented called for 183 parking spots; one for each unit in the building.  If there is going to be a problem with this project that is probably where the city will ask for changes.  The design calls for four levels of parking.

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Budget was a bit of a snooze - but they did delivery it - deficit looks like it is going to become a permanent feature.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 31st, 2017



The federal government brought down a budget last week. Did anybody notice? Well if you drink wine it’ll cost you a little more. The tax credit for taking public transit is gone and you’ll have to pay the HST on your next Uber ride. There is also supposed to be more money for infrastructure, innovation and child care but these benefits will not be as noticeable as the taxes, nor immediately applicable to many of us.

It was all a bit anti-climatic. Even the people’s broadcaster (CBC) muted the Finance Minister’s speech and plugged in one of their own reporters instead. Why hear it from the horse’s mouth (no offence intended) when there is some reporter, barely exhumed from the pre-budget ‘lock-up’, who can ramble-on quoting second-hand information from his notebook of cryptic scribblings?


Prime Minister Trudeau congratulating Finance Minister Morneau on the delivery of the 2017 budget

I recall watching Flaherty and Martin being allowed to wax on poetic, why not Morneau? Over a thousand journalists, independents from think-tanks, and other influential people spend budget day together locked in a big room and not released until the budget is read out. But since most of the budget has already been leaked by budget day, it might just be the expensive feeding and watering that has them coming back each year. Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? Perhaps it’s time to get rid of the budget lock-up.

Pre-budget speculation had investors worried that Trudeau would impose a higher tax rate on income from capital gains. After all income is income, and that might help slow down the crazy inflation in the housing sector, particularly if homes selling for more than a million were included as taxable, which was one rumour.

It was Justin’s father who first introduced capital gains taxes and taxation had been applicable to 75% of that income in those days gone by. Anyway, that rumour was false, though that extra cash would come in useful for a government mired in red ink. That old saw, that you have to be crazy not to borrow at today’s ridiculously low interest rates, doesn’t sound so reasonable when one considers that even a balanced budget, let alone surplus, isn’t expected before the end of this decade, and well beyond the next election.

If this budget was designed to keep folks on-side with the Liberals it mostly failed. Despite its glossy front web page, it is long on minutia and mostly short on substance and vision, certainly compared to the last one. But then this is only a mid-term instrument, tailored to not steal the spotlight from the more important one coming in the election year. And perhaps we’re all too demanding and our expectations are too high – or maybe it’s the rumour mill that keeps whetting our appetite for more.

Liberal leader and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau takes a selfie while greeting people at a subway station in Montreal, Quebec, October 20, 2015. Trudeau, having trounced his Conservative rivals, will face immediate pressure to deliver on a swathe of election promises, from tackling climate change to legalizing marijuana. REUTERS/Chris Wattie - RTS5CCS

Trudeau has been a media darling ?

Trudeau has been a media darling since coming to power, in fact even more admired abroad than at home. Though when it comes to that domestic audience, his boat is starting to leak and according to one poll is now listing and behind the leaderless Tories for the first time since his solid win in 2015. How could that be? That voters saying they’d prefer a party with no leader to the current government? Well as Diefenbaker used to say…”polls are for dogs”.

Halfway into an election term, the public usually gets antsy – that mid-term itch. And there are some reasons for the public to start to back-off from their leader. Trudeau has done himself no favour with this on-going cash-for-access thing. And his expensive Christmas holiday, at our expense, in the Bahamas has proven unpopular among those of us who never seem to make the Aga Khan’s guest list, no matter how hard we try. And, like Harper before him, those idealistic promises on transparency are getting harder to fulfill once in office. Small things but still….

Bombardier's CS100 assembly line is seen at the company's plant Friday, December 18, 2015 in Mirabel, Que. After years of delays and cost overruns, Bombardier's CSeries commercial aircraft has been certified by Canada's transportation regulator. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Bombardier’s CS100 assembly line is seen at the company’s plant Friday, December 18, 2015 in Mirabel, Que. After years of delays and cost overruns, Bombardier’s CSeries commercial aircraft has been certified by Canada’s transportation regulator. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

There was this Castro fiasco a little while ago, and then elbow-gate showed a lack of composure in a leader we’d assumed had it all together. Some folks resent his subsidy to giant Bombardier, particularly as the company’s management has just given themselves whacking big (millions of dollars) raises while simultaneously laying off a chunk of their the wage-earning labour force. Lately some folks are unhappy about the business dealings between the government and Trudeau’s close friend Tom Pitfield.

The government has just dropped one of those white papers on parliamentary reform, which would give MPs a four day work week in Ottawa and require the PM to only show up one day a week for question period. There is the carbon tax, though at least environmentalists will appreciate the government cutting a subsidy to the oil sector. After all, why carbon tax the public so they’ll use less oil, while simultaneously encouraging more oil development with an almost instantaneous rapid capital write-off.

Trudeau - real change

How are we liking this so far? Sunny ways?

Oh yes, and then for those who really care about electoral reform, there was that broken promise on ridding us of the unfair first-past-the-post system. While one can accommodate foot dragging while a government slogs through the mud of its agenda, this was a veritable ‘balls-up’ and a breach of faith.

It’s a long road in political life until the next election. And what really matters are the first and last budgets in the cycle. Tweeners, like this one don’t really count much. And whether this is a made-in-Canada budget or not, Trudeau had to be looking over his shoulder at what is happening south of the border. Trump is just beginning his own tax reform process so it may have been sensible for us to wait. After all our guy doesn’t want to get too far out of sync with our greatest trading partner and best friend.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Budget –     Child Care Promises –     Lock-Up Lunches –

Trudeau Popularity –     Broken Promises – 

Parliament Reform –     More Parliament –     Even More Parliament – 

Transparency –      Oil Subsidy –      Bombardier –      Pitfield –

Deficits –

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Burlington's MPP getting hammered by people who don't think she is stepping up and helping them on the matter of school closings.

highschoolsBy Staff

March 27, 2017



People write the member of city council, or their Member of the provincial legislature (MPP) or the member of Parliament (MP) when they have a beef.

Sometimes they write a “thank you very much” letter.

Burlington’s MPP Eleanor McMahon hasn’t seen too many of the thank you notes recently.

If it isn’t hydro rates they are complaining about then it is the mess at the school board where they are trying to determine which schools to close while parents are asking that none of the schools close.

The following is the correspondence between Cheryl De Lugt, a member of the PAR Committee representing Lester B. Pearson high school.

From: cheryl []
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2017 8:15 PM
To:; McMahon, Eleanor MPP CO
Subject: URGENT REQUEST for Eleanor to vote on Tuesday March 7 to stop the PARC process across this province it is not right to be closing schools which are the heart of the communties

Good Day Eleanor McMahon:

My name is Cheryl De Lugt a very concerned parent in Burlington. As you are well aware the Halton District School Board is under a PARC process of all secondary high schools in Burlington triggered by the Liberal Government that you belong to.

Girl with T-shirt LBPH

Pearson student let people know where she stands.

This process has become incredibly stressful to the citizens of Burlington, parents but more importantly the students that will ultimately affected by any decisions.

I am very concerned about this whole process with a child who has a learning disability and who would be affected the most if her school closes which is Pearson High School as she is in grade 10 and would have to move to a new school in her last year most important year of high school grade 12. As a parent with a child with a disability I fear her transition to high school from the elementary school system fearing she would be lost in the crack, but it was far from that at Pearson. In a smaller school environment she has flourished because every teacher knows every student and they took her under their wings. Wow she would not have had that in a larger mega school environment that this Liberal government is in favour of.

I understand that there is an urgent debate and vote that will be occurring this Tuesday March 7 asking for a moratorium to this flawed process called the PARC. I know first hand being a parent selected to represent Lester B Pearson High School on the PARC Committee, this has been a true eye opening of the recking spending and the lack of accountability and transparency of our school board that we as parent entrust with our children.

I am hoping that you will listen to your Burlington constituents and vote to stop this process and stop closing schools across this Province as they are the heart of the community. I know that the voting rating for the Liberal Party is at it’s all time low and this is time to listen to the people who can or will vote for you.

I appreciate your time but more importantly hope you will vote to stop this PARC process in the legislation on Tuesday March 7, 2017. I do appreciate a response back to this urgent message



From: Eleanor McMahon, MPP (Constituency Office) <>
Sent: March 23, 2017 11:56 AM
To: ‘cheryl’
Subject: RE: URGENT REQUEST for Eleanor to vote on Tuesday March 7 to stop the PARC process across this province it is not right to be closing schools which are the heart of the communties

Dear Cheryl:

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding your concerns related to the pupil accommodation review underway in Burlington. It is important for me to hear from constituents about issues that are important to them. You have clearly outlined your concerns regarding the process and also about Pearson. I was also copied on an email from Jillian to the Trustees and Director – I am assuming she is your daughter – and I very much appreciated hearing from her with the student perspective.

McMahon office - worker facing

The only thing that hasn’t happened is picket lines outside the MPP’s office.

In my role as MPP for Burlington, I have spoken with other parents, students, teachers and residents concerned about the impact of the PAR process. School closures and consolidations are some of the hardest decisions faced by our school boards given the critical role that schools play in the lives of Burlington families and our community more broadly.

Our schools have an impact that extends far beyond the classroom, which is why all residents deserve the chance to provide feedback so their input is reflected in the decision-making process. In my discussions, I have heard from constituents who feel that they have not had adequate time or opportunities to provide meaningful input. I have listened to these concerns and shared it in discussions with constituents, community leaders, trustees and the school board, outlining my expectation that Burlington residents have the chance to participate in consultations.

Decisions with respect to schools and school closures are made at the local level by local decision-makers: school boards (staff) and trustees (elected officials). There was a time, not that long ago, when schools were closed without due consultation. Our government changed this and has empowered local decision-makers to review school accommodation needs, entrusting our school board staff and trustees to ensure that student well-being is the number one priority.

School boards are now asked to ensure these decisions reflect consultations and input from impacted members of the community. The Ministry of Education’s pupil accommodation review guideline provides a framework for this, mandating that meaningful consultation take place.

Local input is essential for local decision-makers as they act on behalf of their community. I expect the Halton District School Board to listen and respond to requests from Burlington residents for more extensive consultation and ensure that their concerns are understood and dutifully addressed. This will ensure that Burlington residents have confidence in the process and therefore, the outcomes.

Encouraging community input is a fundamental principle in important decision-making processes like this and as the MPP for Burlington, I will continue to advocate on behalf of my constituents to participate and have their voices heard in these important discussions. Providing our students with the best educational opportunities remains a priority for me, and I expect that a meaningful consultation process will support a robust, high quality education system in Burlington and across the province.

Thanks again for reaching out to me.

Eleanor McMahon – MPP, Burlington

De Lugt wasn’t buying the response she got and shot back at McMahon:
Thank you for your email response but as a concerned parent in Burlington I am not naive in this flawed process that the Liberal Government has created for Local School Boards across this Province to follow. I am not satisfied with your “its not my issue” answer and that this is a decision of the School Board and local elected officials.

Protest outside board office

Central and Pearson high school parents were outside in the cold weather demonstrating consistently.

As a concerned parent that has witnessed first hand this flawed PARC process in Burlington watching communities pitting against communities to save their own school has been a true eye opener to the irresponsible reckless spending and the lack of accountability and transparency of our School Board and Provincial Government that we as parent entrust with our children with.

I work as a nurse in a hospital. We have adopted “A TIME OUT or Patient Briefing” prior to any major procedure such as an operation. The whole team from the surgeon, anesthesia and nurses in the operating room take a momentary pause prior to any operation making sure they ask these questions ( is this the right person, the right surgery, is it the right procedure) this allows the whole team to be on the same page making sure they are delivering the best care to the patient and to carry out the right procedure.

I encourage the Halton District School and the Provincial Government who’s popularity rating is at an all time low at 12% to take “A TIME OUT” which is a momentary pause in closing any schools in Burlington and across this Province. Please be patient and take a time out for approximately 3-5 years wait and watch approach and you will see your student numbers go up. With seniors downsizing and moving out of their homes young families are moving in the students will come.
Burlington is growing and there is projected growth north of the QEW that will be taking place in the next 5-10 years so we will need our schools

Closing schools are not the right thing to do. Schools are the centre of our communities and if the School Board closes one or two schools in Burlington it will severely impact the way this city looks and operates for many many years to come.

Each school has its own stories and its own unique programs and clubs that are important to their communities

I encourage the Provincial  Government, Halton District School Board and the elected School Trustees to think very hard about any decision to close any schools in Burlington with the growth that will occur in Burlington and the lack of green space left to develop there will be a new look to this city with high density development which in turn will yield great number of students.

Sincerely, Cheryl De Lugt

Expect to see a lot more mail like this.  The parents in Burlington have been putting up some very stiff resistance to the closing of high schools.

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Draft of a NEW Official Plan has been released - will it be approved by the current city council?

OPdraft ABy Staff

March 27th, 2017



At just about every city council meeting when there is a recommendation that council accept a request to change something in the Official Plan residents ask:

“Why bother having an Official Plan is almost anyone can come along and ask for a change and get it?

That has been the way things got done at city hall in the past. Most recently there have been two projects, both from the same developer that city council didn’t buy into.

The city has been working its way through the creation of a new city plan. It has been a long labour and it is nowhere near birth yet.  A review of the plan started back in 2012 and seemed to stumble again and again when there were staff changes in the Planning department, sudden departures, the resignation of the Director of Planning and the imposition of a 25 year Strategic Plan.

Then the city decided to scrap the review of the existing Plan and write a brand new plan.

All that got us to where we are today.

The document is now on the table in DRAFT form ready for public consultation – all 530 pages of it.

The forward of the document says:

“The City of Burlington is at a turning point in its evolution and is transitioning from a suburban to an urban community. The City’s growth is shifting from building new greenfield communities to accommodating more residents and jobs within existing areas through re-development. This intensification is being directed to targeted areas in the City. This is to ensure that denser land uses are carefully co-ordinated with infrastructure, either by encouraging development in areas that make efficient use of existing or planned infrastructure, or to effectively co-ordinate any infrastructure enhancements to accommodate future growth. Also, this targeted approach ensures that existing residential neighbourhoods of the City are protected from major change.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting. Peter Gordon isn't the only one who doesn't agree with the city planner.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting in 2012 Has anything changed since then?

“The focus on accommodating growth through intensification within the existing Urban Area aligns with the City’s interest in protecting and strengthening the rural community and in retaining the special character of North Aldershot as a distinct, identifiable area. It supports the protection of agricultural lands and agricultural operations and the protection of natural heritage and water resources in line with the City’s Strategic Plan and Provincial plans and Policies.

“Provincial plans and policies have directed that Burlington must grow and must grow within the existing Urban Area. The City has developed a new Official Plan in recognition of the challenges and opportunities ahead as it continues to evolve into a complete city. A complete community provides for all of the daily needs of its residents, providing convenient access to an appropriate mix of jobs, shopping and personal services, housing, recreation and open space.

“The Official Plan is a policy document that sets out the City’s directions for growth and development, and continues the commitment to building a complete City. It was developed through planning analysis and research but also through significant collaboration and dialogue with the community as well as internal and external stakeholders. The Official Plan fuses the local community interests with Regional and Provincial policy direction and articulates the City of Burlington vision to 2031 and beyond. It includes policy to manage physical change in relation to land use and development, transportation, infrastructure, the natural environment, heritage, parks, and social, economic and environmental sustainability.


Citizens let the Planning department know how they felt at a public event in 2012. Has anything changed?

“The Official Plan sets out a clear vision and establishes strategic priorities for sustainable growth, complete communities, environment and sustainability, economic activity, infrastructure, design excellence, land uses and public participation. This Plan sets out development-ready provisions and guides development within certain parameters allowing for private sector flexibility while ensuring the public interest is maintained. The Official Plan also includes criteria for when and how changes to the Plan are to be considered. At times, refinements to policies of the Plan may be appropriate. The Plan will be used to guide the decision making and approval processes of the City, ensuring that all new development contributes to Burlington’s long-term vision.”


Look carefully at where the red dots are and where the green dots are. This was what people thought and felt in 2012.

The content and details of the DRAFT Official Plan cannot be covered in a single article. The Gazette will endeavour to break that task into smaller pieces and explain as much as we can and then follow the process that has all the interested parties commenting on the document.

The Planning department set out a number of principles that will guide all land use decision making to achieve sustainable development a complete community in accordance with the City’s four key strategic directions.


The city planners felt it was time to take a stronger, bolder stance and came up with a name for the process: We were to Grow Bold.  The public was given a couple of name choices and they settled on growing bold.

In the DRAFT OP there is a paragraph that is indeed bold.

No by-law may be passed, and no public work undertaken by the City, which does not conform with this Plan. The capital works program and the capital budget are intended to provide the infrastructure required to implement the land use vision, objectives and policies of this Plan.

There will be some gulps from the development community over that one and the remark that “I will believe it when I see it” from literally hundreds of citizens who have experienced situations where that just did not happen in Burlington.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington's commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of commercial zoning and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed - all the way to the Ontario Muncipal Board - where they all too frequently win.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington’s commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of Employment Lands designation and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed – all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board – where they all too frequently win.

Part of the Planning process is setting out the zoning of specific pieces of property and determining what land is going to remain as Employment Lands.

We will return to the DRAFT OF THE Official Plan Again – shortly.

The document gets presented to city council officially April 6th.  while the planners may have a schedule in mind for getting the Official Plan approved by city council – the seven that are in office may nit be there by the time the document gets passed.  It then has to go to the Region and chances are that someone will appeal it to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Going to be a long ride.

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Rivers sees a different future for Hamilton - he is mum on Burlington.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 24th, 2017



In a couple of weeks the City of Hamilton will be hosting its Big Picture event, an opportunity for the arts and cultural industries to come together and tell city government how to make arts and culture the city’s engine of growth. It’s all part of the economic evolution taking place in Hamilton, a city known as a poor cousin to it’s noisy neighbour, Toronto.

Smoke stacks steel plant

Decades of pollution that fouled the air and polluted the water and created some immense wealth for a few – certainly not the steel plant pensioners will pictures like this be in Hamilton museums only?

Many commercial institutions have long deserted Hamilton, following the sweet smell of money and drifting to that other big smoke. Even the ‘steel-town’ moniker no longer fits since Stelco was raped and dismembered by a US competitor. Hamilton has struggled with its identity for decades, suffering economic malaise and some of the highest property taxes in the province until just recently.

And even twenty years after a forced amalgamation of surrounding area communities, intended to fix the city, it still struggles with its identity. It is not uncommon for suburban politicians to occasionally play the parochially divisive card of what’s-in-it-for-me, threatening progressive initiatives such as transit systems not in their wards. And there is still the odd die-hard anti-amalgamation separatist in the sticks, where I live.

Steel plant - Hamilton

When the steel plants eventually go – will this become an interesting residential development?

Still, the city’s leaders have come to a genuine consensus that Hamilton’s road-map to future prosperity follows the route of developing its emerging arts and culture sector into a thriving industry. After all they’ve seen the numbers. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that municipal investment into the arts returns anywhere from $7 to $12 on the dollar. That beats trying to keep the old steel plant alive.

The Chamber of Commerce agrees with Council, but switching to the right-side of the brain for a community too often focused on steel, coal and electricity is not without its challenges. And there is a lot of competition out there, including a growing list of other communities also looking to break into the arts business big league, and attracting all of that talent for themselves. Recall that good old Hog Town has more than 120 professional companies performing on more than 40 stages, and is third in annual ticket sales globally, just behind New York and London.

Hamilton philharmonic

The Philharmonic doesn’t get all that much in the way of funding from Hamilton’s city council

Another issue is money. The Hamilton Spectator recently reported that Hamilton remains far behind most other cities in arts funding per capita. It points out that the Art Gallery, the Philharmonic Orchestra and Theatre Aquarius get less municipal funding than other similar organizations across the country. And with Hamilton expected to outperform the national economy this would be a good time to correct that financial imbalance.

But money is not the only impediment to attracting artists and their audiences/customers. City bylaws, zoning and building codes, transportation routes and parking all have a role to play and no doubt will be on the table as part of the discussion of the Big Picture. Then there is the matter of where artists work and sleep – workshops and housing. That used to be an easy problem to solve given Hamilton’s traditionally low housing prices and rental rates.


There is certainly a base market for the arts in Hamilton.

But while we were sleeping Hamilton-Burlington has ballooned into one of the fastest growing housing markets in the country, rivalling and even exceeding Toronto and Vancouver, by rate of change, if not actual value of transactions. Sky-high home prices, low rental vacancy rates, and gridlock are the proverbial chickens coming home-to-roost in TO. So would-be home buyers are heading over to nearby Burlington and Hamilton, driving up prices and driving down accessibility.

AGB presentation McMahon

Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport has brought home some bacon for Burlington.

Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, recently announced a new provincial strategy for cultural industries. She points out that the culture sector adds more than $25 billion to Ontario’s economy, supporting approximately 280,000 jobs, and including almost 60,000 folks directly employed in the arts across the province. This is only a strategy, though one expects it will eventually come with some hard currency for that bigger picture the province is promising to paint.

And one has to recall that Hamilton has deep roots and credibility in the cultural arts sector. Karen Kane, James Balfour, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Lawrence Hill, Steve Paikin, Daniel Lanois, Neil Peart, Rita Chiarelli, Stan Rogers call or called Hamilton their home. Even Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, the Hawk, claims he got his start at a local bar in the city. And he’d be a great opener of the event.

rivers-on-guitarRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Big Picture –   Economic History –   High Hamilton Taxes –     Vacancy Rates

Housing Prices –    Hamilton Hot Prices –    Hamilton Economy –    Arts Drives Hamilton

Hot Housing Market –    World Theatres –    Ontario Strategy –    Hamilton Artists

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Elgin promenade is being called The Knot by the planners. Might be more appropriate to call it a Shortcut to the Poacher.-

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 14th, 2017



The City of Burlington has begun construction on an exciting new project. “The Knot” (or Elgin Promenade) is the name of an urban pathway connecting the downtown to the Centennial Multi-Use Pathway.  It might have been called “Shortcut to the Poacher” but that would have been too exciting for Burlington, the town the late Jane Irwin, the city’s best advocate for keeping our heritage once referred to as ‘Borington’ when she delegated to city council.

Knot photo rendering

The Knot – no idea why that name was chosen – will create a pathway linking the Centennial Trail in the east to streets that will get a bike rider as far west as the canal – basically the city limits.

This multi-use pathway will service more than 10,000 people every year and provide public space for a wide range of leisure activities, community events and easy access to shops and restaurants. It will also ensure that public space is preserved and celebrated for years to come.


Al the property inside those yellow lines once belonged to the city. Ownership of the middle section was shared with an Ontario Ministry. The property was sold for a pittance. The two pieces at either end were turned into Windows on the Lake.

Many would have loved to see the same approach taken to some of the most precious land the city once owned – that stretch of property between Market and St. Paul Streets on the south side of Lakeshore Road.

The location of this new pathway is where the city’s transit terminal was once located

The design of the new park will be led by a team of architects – yet to be named – who will work with the city’s Capital Works Department and provide input into the overall design of the pathway with specific attention paid to core place-making elements.

Knot - elgin promenadePreliminary design of the pathway will begin in early April 2017 with construction expected to be complete by March of 2018. This project is on an accelerated timeline due to Federal Canada 150 funding. The selected artist(s) must be available to attend regular meetings in Burlington, Ontario from late April – August 2017.

Deadline for Expressions of Interest is March 31st.

The project has a budget of $20,000

Click HERE to download the Request for Expressions of Interest.

Related news story.

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On possibly closing the high school - I think it’s a terrible idea said Robert Bateman and it doesn’t make common sense either.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 6, 2017



The heavy weights are beginning to have their say about the closing of high schools in Burlington,

World-renowned artist and Robert Bateman High School namesake is speaking out against the possible closure of the school.

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman

“The times that I’ve been there I’ve been just amazed at the things they’re doing that no school has ever done before but that were being done at Bateman,” said Robert Bateman, who taught at the south east Burlington school from 1970 when it opened until 1976.

Mr. Bateman now lives in Salt Spring Island, B.C. and still visits the school once a year. When he learned that Bateman HS was one of six schools being considered for closure by the Halton District School Board as part of the Program and Accommodation Review (PAR), he expressed concern about the impact it would have on students and the community.

“I think it’s much better for the kids and much better for their education to have schools in their neighbourhoods so you have the same geography and you have the same feeling for the history of it,” said Mr. Bateman.

“It’s extremely important for the emotional and human component of children.”


Bateman high school students during a cook-off with Burlington fire fighters.

Bateman High School has had more than $2-million in upgrades over the last six years, and with existing accommodations in place for the Community Pathways Program (CPP) it is the most up-to-date for AODA requirements. It fills a unique void in the city’s education system because of its wide range of diverse programming including: International Baccalaureate (IB) program; the self-contained CPP for students with special needs; LEAP Program to help transition students to grade nine; specialty facilities that include a highly customized kitchen for a culinary program and a specialized auto body paint booth for one of the many Ontario Young Apprentice Programs (OYAP).

There is also an Autism Social Skills and Drama Group, Robotics Specialized Course and multiple design/tech rooms. Having all program pathways under one roof is critical to student success as it allows movement between the pathways. Scattering those programs would effectively limit the opportunities available to our most vulnerable student population.

“The school has all kinds of departments that are getting kids much more prepared for life.”

“I think it’s a terrible idea (to close it) and it doesn’t make common sense” says Bateman.

Closing Robert Bateman would also result in the closure of the on-site YMCA Lord Elgin Day Care and could impact Centennial Pool, which had costly renovations last year.

Bateman - crowd scene

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City hall forgets to use the words road diet or bike lanes in an announcement on the water main work to be done on New Street.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 3, 2017



Here we go again.

It is hard to believe how obtuse some of the people at City Hall can be.

A seven paragraph media release with the word pilot project slipped in but not one use of the work bike or the words road diet.

Here is what the city sent out.

“Water main work with Halton Region will begin on New Street between Dynes Road and Cumberland Avenue on March 7, resulting in lane closures and scheduled water service shutdowns. The construction is scheduled to be completed in May.

“The installation of a new water main between Guelph Line and Dynes Road began in October and November 2016. The work to install the rest of the water main between Dynes Road and Cumberland Avenue will start earlier than scheduled due to mild weather.

“Residents and businesses will be given 48 hours’ notice for scheduled water service shutdowns. Water main installation will include the replacement of curbs, gutters and the boulevard to restore any damage from the water main works.

“New Street between Walkers Line and Guelph Line is the site of a pilot project that began in August 2016 for all street users.

“Completing the water main installation in May will reduce the disruption to New Street into two shorter, two-month intervals rather than one six-month construction period originally planned for the spring and summer of 2017. This will allow for longer, uninterrupted traffic data collection.

“The city is collecting data, and will continue to collect data after the water main work is done and until the end of the summer to ensure the city has the data needed to assess the pilot. That information, along with travel times on nearby residential roads that run parallel to New Street, will be included in a recommendation report to Burlington City Council this fall.

“Creating more travel options for the community means thinking differently about how our city road network looks and functions. The one-year pilot on New Street is an example of how some existing roads in Burlington could be redesigned to give people more travel options to get around the city.”

One of the most contentious projects the city has decided to do – lessen the amount of road space for vehicular traffic on New Street and put in bicycle lanes. It was set up as a pilot project and public opinion views were all over the map.

It was so contentious that the Mayor couldn’t get some personal private time at the Y – residents kept approaching him to bend his ear.

In future they should take him by the ear out to the woodshed.

New street - as far as they eye can see

New water mains being laid down on New Street west of Guelph Line.

One of the reasons for doing the pilot project on dedicated bicycle lanes was because New Street was going to have significant water main work done and then a new layer of asphalt laid down – it was thought that would be a convenient time to install bicycle lanes and see how they worked.

To not even use the words “road diet” or bike or bicycle is sneaky and only adds to the cynicism over the way city hall works.  Do they think that by not using the words that people will forget?

Transparent – accountable – please!

Transit - Vito Tolone

Vito Tolone, Director of Transportation

They transportation department should be ashamed of themselves for letting this kind of media release get sent out. The close to 3000 people at have signed a petition have every reason to be angry – city hall has been exceedingly disrespectful

Vito Tolone, Director of Transportation is quoted as saying” “A lengthy and uninterrupted time-frame to collect all the data needed for the New Street pilot will be beneficial to staff when incorporating this information into our report to City Council.” He can’t say the words either.

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Very high turnout at the public meeting where the Board of Education sets out the options for high school closings.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 1, 2017


It was hard to get a real fix on the size of the crowd – but it was a crowd of people who wanted to know more about what the Halton District School Board meant when they talked about possibly closing two of the city’s seven high schools.

Engaged parents

It was a large fully engaged crowd – who will wonder for the next while if they are getting all their questions answered.

The Board has had a PARC in place for more than three months. This group of 14 people – two from each high school – had been tasked with coming up with a recommendation on which, if any, of the high schools should be closed.

The issue was that Burlington has 1800 + empty high school seats which it does not expect to fill for some time.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the city’s newest high school is filled to overcapacity and that other high schools might need portable units.

The problem is to some degree one of changes in the boundaries that were created that determined which high school a student would have to attend.

When the PARC process started in December the focus was on the recommendation that Central and Pearson high school be closed.

Parents in front of maps

Large posters with maps showing possible high school boundaries were set up for public viewing.

During the PARC process there were recommendations that Bateman and Nelson high schools be closed – and that brought a lot more people into the discussion which resulted in the very high turnout Tuesday evening.
People were engaged and asking a lot of questions. The data that was put in front of them was not as clear as it could have been.

Tuesday evening the public saw people from Nelson and Bateman wearing their school sweaters; one parent paraded around wearing a graduation cap.

The discussion and explanations at the six different information stations was directed by senior board staff who touted the board line.

The members of the PARC were present and many of the trustees attended as well.

Girls with tablets

Which high school will these two attend?

Director of Education Stuart Miller was not at the meeting. He is away for a short period of time on personal matters. The last thing that can be said is he is ducking the issue. He is in this up to his eyebrows and he knows how serious a problem his board faces.

There are decisions that were made six to seven years ago that created the problem he faces; he however has to deal with the reality that today there are 1800 empty seats and the province will not give the Halton Board the funding it needs to keep them empty. Miller points out frequently that the Halton Board is pretty close to the bottom of the list on the amount of funding per capita that it gets from the province.

Pubmeet politicians BL-JT-PS

Three city Councillors in this picture – two others were floating around as well.

Many people wanted to see city council involved in this process; just as many felt it was a school board matter and none of th city’s business.  And up until now city council members said very little.  That has changed.  Every member of council could be seen walking around chatting people up; the exceptions were the Mayor and ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven.

School board trustees for Burlington have been almost glued to this process; the other seven were seldom seen.  Last night there were four or five from other communities.

Scott P - close up

Scott Podrebarac, chair of the Program Accommodation Review Committee explaining some detail to a parent.

There were no introductory remarks. People just walked in, were given a four page flyer that explained what the information on the walls was all about and people were left to walk around and ask questions.

Part of what is taking place is each high school arguing why they should not be closed – there was no higher level look at what Burlington will look like should some high schools be closed.

Burlington is in a state of transition. The city’s population is ageing and the cost of housing is mushrooming.
There will be a lot of discussions taking place in thousands of households across the city in the weeks ahead.

Pubmeet HDSB staffer + MMW

Ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, on the left, is also the PARC representative for the Central high school parents, listens while a Board o Education staffer explains some of the information on the posters.

The second public meeting, with an agenda that is identical to what took place Tuesday evening at Hayden high school will be held at the New Street Education Centre on Tuesday March 7th.

If there were 400 people at Hayden last night look for an even higher turn out next week

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