Retired Indian Point firefighter who once lived in Rosedale want to represent ward 4 on council.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 2, 2014


Steve Kempf has a very steep learning curve ahead of him but he seems determined to get himself a seat at city hall – and doesn’t seem too concerned about which ward he actually represents.

Steve Kempf's decision to buy tis property at Indian Point and then seek a severance taught him more than he wanted to know about city hall.

Steve Kempf’s decision to buy this property at Indian Point and then seek a severance taught him more than he wanted to know about city hall.

A resident of Ward 1, he lives at Indian Point where he created a ruckus when he went for a severance in 2011 that a lot of people didn’t like.

Kempf says had had the support of the planners at city hall – and that the Conservation Authority called him to advise him that the 200 foot water front lot looking over the bay could be severed.  So sever it he did.

Steve Kempf is a little on the abrupt side.  During the Indian Point character study he was pretty noisy and wonders why the city wasted $100,000 doing a study that has done nothing for the community.  Kempf says he knew the ward Councillor wanted the study done and that there were a small percentage of people who didn’t want any change.  The community knew that once a single severance was granted more would follow and that, many, thought that would be the end of the community.

Kempf clearly believes in change – and if you look at the house next to the two properties he bought – you get an understanding as to what he sees in the way growth and change.  The structure to the east of his new house is rundown and badly in need of an upgrade – certainly past its best before date.

Buildings get old, they need renewal; plumbing and electrical services need to be upgraded – and, Kempf maintains, you need to make changes to the outside of the building – sometimes the whole building.

So – why ward 4 when he lives in ward 1?  He thought of running in ward 1 “but there is already at least one good candidate and a very strong incumbent.”  He looked at ward 6 as well, believing that Blair Lancaster could be beaten, but he had no affinity with that ward.  Kempf wonders if he is going to end of running against Jack Dennison, who has yet to declare  and tells an interesting story of the evening he was at the Golf and Country Club sitting at a table in the dining room and was there by himself – except for Jack Dennison.  “I really wanted to go over and ask him if he was going to run, but I didn’t” said Kempf.

Candidate Kempf knows he has a steep learning curve ahead of him.  He will be taking a lot of notes in the next seven months.

Candidate Kempf knows he has a steep learning curve ahead of him. He will be taking a lot of notes in the next seven months.

What does Steve Kempf know about how city hall works?  When it comes to how council works – he doesn’t know very much and faces a very steep learning curve but points out that all the others who were new to council had to learn.  He quickly adds that he can tell you a lot about the way the departments work: Way too much red tape and it takes forever to get a permit.

Kempf who was a fireman in Mississauga for 28 years will tell you that in that city two things were exceptionally well done.  The building department worked and the Mayor did her job.  “If you had a problem in Mississauga you called Hazel – and the problem was looked into” said Kempf.  “You may not have agreed with the answers Mayor Hazel McCallion gave you but at least you knew she had looked at your problem.

Kempf maintains he had a problem with Burlington Hydro and called the Mayor’s office. “I never heard back from him”, said Kempf.

 Kempf says he called the Mayor’s office. “I never heard back from him”, Kempf, born in the west end of Toronto, spent some time with his family in Owen Sound and will tell you that he “has some history with the city”.  He bought a property on Indian Road and sought a severance – his was the first anyone had asked for since 1929 – so you know that ruffled some feathers.

Kempf has lived in Milton, Mt Nemo and Roseland.  He has built a number of homes – five he thinks.  He found that Burlington, from his point of view was a mess in terms of getting anything through city hall.

When Kempf finished high school in Owen Sound he moved to Toronto and got a job in a factory as a labourer.  He saw an opportunity to get a job as a fire fighter – went for it and spent 28 years fighting fires and retired as a Captain.

Like many firefighters his schedule left him with time to build home and to run an electronics importing business on the side.

Kempf loves the Performing Arts Centre - not a fan of the Hlaf Chilly marathon.Kempf saw Mississauga as a very well managed city and the fire department a place where staff was encouraged to bring forward ideas; :there was a reward system where we would get a day off if an idea was accepted.  We had input and felt the operation was something we not only worked at – but something we contributed to as well.”

Married in 1980, Burlington became home because that’s where his wife’s parents lived.  They lived in Millcroft and Campbellville as well for a period of time.

Steve Kempf isn’t a Rotarian, doesn’t serve on any committees – he builds.  The opportunity to buy the two properties on Indian Road came up in 2010. 

Kempf doesn’t like government sticking their nose in his business.  He understands that government is needed but he doesn’t think they should be doing studies like the Indian Point Neighbourhood Character study.  He believes that market forces will bring about needed changes.

The lack of a post-secondary education shows when it comes to complex financial matters.  The running of a city is complex and understanding how the budget is created is not easily absorbed by high school graduates.

Kempf is a put up or shut up kind of guy who understands the city needs to bring in more business to town and can’t understand “why we don’t have good people out there selling the city.”  He is the kind of guy who just wants to get it done.

Bridgewater site is the kind of thing Kemp likes to see happening.  He isn't a build for the sake of building but he is a build for growth kind of guy.

Bridgewater site is the kind of thing Kemp likes to see happening. He isn’t a build for the sake of building but he is a build for growth kind of guy.

He likes the Race Around the Bay even though it impeded his ability to get out of Indian Point for a bit but he isn’t a fan of the Chilly Half Marathon that closes Lakeshore Road.

Loves the Performing Arts Centre – would just love to see them doing more.

Regional government – has a lot to learn at that level.

Knew nothing about the squabble over selling city waterfront land to private ownership.

Big on multicultural issues.

Would like to see taxes tied to the cost of living.

Thinks the waterfront is under used.

Wants to see a lot more economic development.

Notebook under his arm, pier in the background ward 4 candidate Steve Kempf would like to see the city getting more use out of the waterfront.

Notebook under his arm, pier in the background ward 4 candidate Steve Kempf would like to see the city getting more use out of the waterfront.

Kempf felt that the Habitat for humanity project in Aldershot should be required to compensate people who have to give up some of their privacy when a development impacts them negatively.

At first look – Kempf is untested.  He has time on his hands and has personal issues with the way city hall handles people who want to build.  It would be interesting to watch him in a debate with John Sweeney and Alexandra Kubrick – and possibly Jack Dennison.  Is there another candidate out there?

The candidate for the ward 4 seat expects to have a web site up soon.  This business of getting elected is new Steve Kempf – he is going to have an interesting seven months – let’s see how he does.

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Drilling down into parts of a multi million dollar capital projects budget.

By Pepper Parr

February 10, 2014


With the city budget determined as both capital costs and Operating costs – it can still be very confusing.

Council members have tons of questions. Rather than have some questions asked several times city staff pull

together all the questions and consolidate them – letting staff dig out the answers and put the collection in front of council

– it runs to 25 pages.

Markings identifying portions of the street intended for cyclists.

Future plans for bike lanes:

Setting aside part of roadways for cyclists is still a work in progress in Burlington.  The cycling advocates

lost the battle to have dedicated lanes on Lakeshore Road – something to be remembered come the

civic election.

 Question:     Provide a consolidated breakdown of capital funding sources and total cost to install bike lanes for the projects identified in the capital budget.

Response: Preliminary Bike Lane forecasted costs

Ref #        2       Appleby Line @ Harvester Intersection

$ Costs if part of road expansion
Standalone costs (no planned expansion)

Year 2018                                                                                $22,000                     $822,000

Ref #


Harvester Road @ Guelph Line IntersectionYear 2017 $22,000 $148,000
Ref #


Harvester Road – South Service Road to CenturyYear 2017 Drive$161,700 $823,200
Ref #


Harvester Road – South Service Road to WalkersYear 2017/2020 Line$365,200 $699,500
Ref #


Lakeshore Road – Maple Avenue to City LimitYear 2015/2017 $451,000 $957,000
Ref # 11 North Service Road @ WalkersYear 2014 $187,000 $277,000
Ref # 12 Waterdown Road NorthYear 2016 $528,000 $818,000
Ref # 13 Waterdown Road WideningYear 2014 $72,600 $312,600
Ref # 16 Plains Road Reconstruction
Year 2015 380 m @               $220 /m = $83,600 $1,005,000
Ref # 17 South Service RoadYear 2016/2017 $52,800 $209,600 *
Ref # 19 Brant Street @ Plains RoadYear 2017 $22,000 $66,000
Ref # 20 Harvester Road @ WalkersYear 2016 $22,000 $272,000
Ref # 21 King Road – SSR to NSR
Year 2019 $57,200 $2,532,000 *
Ref # 23 Walkers @ DundasYear 2016 $22,000 $52,000
Ref # 24 Walkers @ Upper MiddleYear 2018 $22,000 $122,000
Ref # 25 Waterdown Road Bridge Widening at Hwy 403 $17,600 $1,500,000 *
Ref # 28 Burloak Drive Grade SeparationYear 2020/2021 $44,000 $2,000,000 *
Ref # 31 Lakeshore Road ReconstructionYear 2019 $37,400 $179,100
Ref # 32 Plains Road @ York Blvd RoundaboutYear 2023 $33,000 $83,000
Ref # 33 Walkers Line – Hwy 407 to No 1 SideroadYear 2020 $239,800 $824,800
Ref # 85 Eastport Drive Cycling ImprovementsYear 2017 $11,000 $1,000,000 *


$2,473,900 $14,702,800

Harvester Road corridor:

Question:     Harvester Road Corridor Improvements and Widening. Provide the total cost of all works proposed along the Harvester Road corridor.

Response:   The total gross cost of projects along the Harvester Road corridor is $ 27,489,500.


Sealing cracks on roads is one of the preventive maintenance tools before a road has to be rebuilt. Shave and pave have proven to be money well spent – and we are spending a lot of money on this tool.

 Road repairs – sealing cracks:

Question:     Provide the list of suggested roads that will be crack sealed.

Response:   The following table identifies the proposed 2014 crack sealing candidates


Road From To

 Downtown street lights:

Question:     Is the sum of $884,000 in addition to the $1.9 million included in previous budgets to complete Decorative Street Light Restoration works on the downtown?

Response:   The sum of $884,000 is new funding. The restoration project is to start in 2016 and continue yearly for 4 years with an expenditure of $222,000 per year. The previous Capital funding was for the reconstruction of Brant Street, burying utilities and installing Decorative Street Lights.


Central Arena Facility Renewal/Enhancements – Skyway

Question:     Is money needed for these arenas? What is the future direction of Skyway?

Response:   Funds for Central Arena are identified for 2015 and funds for Skyway Arena are identified for 2017. Staff will be conducting an ice needs review in 2014 to determine if the current inventory will meet customer needs for the next 5-10 years. The results of this review will be presented to Council. If the review warrants major renovations to either arena, staff will submit a business case in conjunction with the 2015 budget submission.

The capital budget will be recast in 2015. As such, the 2014 capital budget and forecast focused on 2014 projects. The project in the capital budget assumes a revitalization of Skyway Arena based on life cycle renewal requirements. However, prior to proceeding with this a strategic review of the need for this facility vis-a-vis ice user needs as well as other community needs will be under taken as directed by Council.


Longer term thinking has city hall being replaced but for the immediate future improving the sound system in Council chamber – FINALLY! and improving some of the meetings rooms is where capital dollars will be spent this year.

City Hall:

Question:     What work is being done on the city hall building  for the $250k in 2014?

Response:   A City Hall Administrative Study is underway which will provide a recommended strategic option for City Hall needs. Funding identified in 2014 is to advance the high level option recommended in this study to design development including costing for capital budget purposes.

Looking at what to do with city hall long term doesn’t mean it will be left to disintegrate.

Question:     Provide the detail of the work being done in 2014 for public meeting rooms and council chambers.

Response:   (a) Meeting rooms on 3rd floor: Replacement of carpeting, furniture and technology. (b) Council Chambers: Audio equipment only.


Now the biggest park the city has – and the furthest from the bulk of the population.

City View Park:

It is now the biggest park the city has – but very few people get to use the place tucked away as it is in the north-west sector of the city – easier for Waterdown people to get to the place.

Once you are there – the site is wonderful.  Many don’t like the plastic grass and argue that we will rue the day we have to pay for its replacement and cost of getting rid of it.  It was hoped the location would be a big Pan Am Games attraction but all Burlington is going to get is a decent chunk of rent money for space soccer teams use to practice.  The public will not be allowed onto the site during those practices.

Question    Outline the need for the 1.8 FTEs and $158K of operating requirements in 2016 and 2017.

Response:   2014 request of $5K supports the portable washroom facility required at the site. The amounts for 2016 and 2017 should be adjusted as follows:

Move request for $15K and 0.3FTE from 2016 to 2015 to provide a student for maintenance of the 3 premier sports fields starting in the Pan Am year. This student will work weekends and will provide a presence in the park, collect litter, groom fields as needed, inspect the trails and ensure the fields are being used as permitted. Three artificial turf fields have been built out and the large investment in this infrastructure requires a greater level of oversight and service.

Move request for $143K and 1.5FTE to 2019 when the Pavilion construction is scheduled. The FTE’s are for one permanent staff person (Equipment Operator) and one seasonal temp. With the build out of the pavilion, the washroom building will be open and the picnic areas. Much like other city parks (such as Central, Nelson, Sherwood Forest, Millcroft, Lowville) the investment in infrastructure combined with high use require increased staff levels to ensure that maintenance standards are met.


Information technology is everywhere – but not always something you can put your finger on. Done well it will save most people time and the city administration a tonne of money. Expensive – yes – but we couldn’t exist without it.

 Information technology:

City hall is going to use the internet as much as it can to both improve its communication with its citizens and to reduce its costs.  The Information technology department will be charged with delivering on the policy that Council decides upon.

There will be some bumps along this road – we don’t have an IT department that manages to be ahead of the curve in the IT field – to be fair few municipalities are able to keep up with the change.  Major corporations stumble on this one.  Add to that – that technology takes longer to complete – almost every time.

 Project:        E-Government Strategy Implementation

Question:     a) How much funding has been committed to the E-gov’t program (to date and future)?

b)  How many FTEs (permanent and temporary) are assigned by year?

c)  With the money being spent, what will be the outcomes / transactions?

Response:   a) The E-government program funding is:

Approved to-date:

$1.21 million (2011 – 2013 capital budget requests for software, hardware, implementation, IT staff costs). The projects supported with this funding are the web portal, e-commerce, public involvement, community calendar, service requests.

$490,000 (current budgets for business project staffing costs). These staff are supporting projects for recreation services, web design and migration and overall e-government program implementation. (one-time expense)

2014 capital request:

$240,000 to support projects in development services, open data and staff support.

Total of $1,940,000. This reflects what was requested in the 2012 budget in a 3 year capital program (2012 – 2014).

b)    Staff assignments to E-Government Program:

Program manager 3 years, Business Analyst – 2 years, Application Analyst

– 2.5 years, P&R Business Lead – 1 year, Web Specialist – 1 year. The Program Manager and Application Analyst positions finish in 2015 and all others end in 2014.

All of the positions are temporary assignments done through secondment or contract.

c)     E-Government Program deliverables are focused on enhancing and expanding our customers’ online experience. Our goal is to introduce more electronic service options for the public and enhance the information access/search ability with improved navigation.

Services delivered to date include:  The online Live and Play guide with direct connection to program registration, Public engagement through MindMixer, Tax bill/statement electronic distribution and payment through EPost,   Online Tyandaga tee time bookings, P&R program waitlist notification and receipt printing, Online facility availability, Online P&R membership registration.

City information data sets available through our Open Data project for developers and interested community members e.g. our transit schedule is now available through free apps to make it easier to know what bus to take based upon where you want to go.

Our future deliverables are:

Providing a single online reference point for Public Involvement opportunities with the City through a new web page

Online facility availability to meeting rooms and picnic spaces

Revitalized map views to make them easier to use and understand

More data sets for developers to create apps for our citizens to use e.g. cycling routes, construction plans, approved budgets

A new website with the ability to put more services and information online in an easier to access format e.g. service requests, development service permits and applications

An enhanced community calendar

A more user friendly and flexible e-payments solution

Emerald Ash Borer

This is one of those projects where we often don’t know that we are doing – but then no one else in the field knows all that much either.  It is complex, based on science that we are still learning about and it is expensive.  The hope is – and that’s basically all we have at this point – is that we can keep ahead of it.  Not much of an upside but the downside is to lose thousands of trees – and if tax payers are concerned about property values – imagine a street that loses all of its ash trees.  This is a tough one.


This little creature is costing us a fortune – and we are not at all certain we are going to win the battle to stop the infestation.

Question:     a) How effective is the current program?

b) What were the results of the pilot program in Oakville?

Response:   a) Although the effectiveness of the current program is still being understood, observations indicate that treatment has contributed to the prolonged life of ash trees. To date, the trees requiring removal have been primarily those that are untreated and there has not been a significant impact to treated trees. In some cases, non-treated trees have been removed beside treated trees that are still standing.

How much damage can the Emerald ash bore do? Trees in Cambridge that are lost.

b) Staff will request information from Oakville staff about the results of their pilot study and provide Council with this information as it is received.

The above are a few of the items in the capital budget for 2014.  The numbers are for the most part place holders while the city totally re-casts the capital budget for 2015 – which is when the new budgeting tools begin to come into play.  Service based budgeting, Result based accountability and new Business process management tools will become THE approach used at city hall.

Will they make a difference.  You want to hope so – there are some costs coming our way that could cripple the 2020 taxpayers.


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Burlington a “banana republic”? At least one well informed citizen suggests that’s what he saw at a Committee of Adjustment meeting.



By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  May 22, 2013.  The surprise wasn’t that Jack Dennison, Councillor for Ward 4,  lost his application for a severance and several minor variances to his property on Old Lakeshore Road but how two members of the Committee of Adjustment conducted themselves.  We will get to that.

Dennison was applying for a severance to his property that would allow him to create a separate lot on which a two-story house could be built.  He required permission to sever the property and needed a number of variances as well.

A staff report did not recommend the application.

The vote went 3-2 against Dennison with Chair Malcolm Ramsay, members Grant Newbury and Robert Bailey voting against and members Dave Kumar and Sam Sarraf voting for.

Burlington’s Committee of Adjustment. All appointed by city council to serve a four-year term. From left to right chair Ramsay, members Bailey, Newbury, Kumar and Sarraf.  Peter Thoem, also a member was absent.

Five members of the community delegated starting with Dave McKay who gave the committee an overview of how Roseland got to be the community it is today.  He was  followed by Diane Gaudaur, president of the Roseland community Association who set out the case for saying no. Gerhard Gerber who lives right across the street from Dennison talked about the impact the requested severance would have on the streetscape which was a major part of the opposition to the application.

Christine Dwivedi followed with a very, very lengthy presentation during which the chair asked if she had anything new to add.  Mrs. Dwivedi stuck to her guns even though it was clear that at one point she had the members of the committee following her and taking in the many trenchant points she made but after more than an hour it was clear she had gone too far.

During her delegation we did learn that Dennison attempted to buy 10 feet of the west side of the Dwivedi property for $120,000.  Mrs. Dwivedi also reported a nasty dispute over work Dennison had done when he installed a new in-ground pool.

With the clock past 10 pm legal counsel for the Roseland Community Organization summed up the reasons for not granting the severance which included an Ontario Divisional Court ruling which is a binding decision.

Applications like this include levels of detail that can be mind numbing and that was certainly the case Tuesday evening.  There were some very interesting points made and they will be covered in detail at a later date making them part of the community record.

 The process has the applicant stating their case, the members of the community who oppose the application stating their case.  The applicant is then given an opportunity to rebut whatever those opposed have to say.

It then goes to the chair who asks each member if they have questions.  Once all the questions of the member of the Committee of Adjustment have been asked each is then asked to make their comments.

It is at this point that members of the Committee make it known if they are going to support or oppose the application.

The chair then polls each member individually to hear them say publicly and for the record that they are supporting the application or opposing that application.

Last night three opposed, two supported – one member was absent.  Peter Thoem, a former council member was absent – spending his time at Point Peelee watching birds.

Other than the lengthy presentation made by Mrs. Dwivedi , the hearing was like any other that is contentious with significantly different views on either side.

Councillor Dennison neighbour Christine  Dwivedi and lawyer Mark Nicholson prepare to delegate at a Committee of Adjustment hearing.

Where things went off the rails Tuesday evening was when committee member Sam Sarraf began to ask his questions.  He first directed a question to David McKay on what the boundaries of the community were and then literally fired a bunch of questions at city planner Jamie Tellier who was on hand to answer technical questions and support the report staff had prepared.

There was question after question on specific definitions.  Sarraf had clearly prepared and was directing Tellier to specific parts of the Official Plan and having him read them aloud.  On several occasions Sarraf  asked Tellier: “Would you not agree.”  It became clear that Sarraf had an objective and he began to move from being a committee member asking questions to a person advocating on behalf of the applicant.

At one point Sarraf asked a question on a piece of evidence that had not been introduced by anyone.  He asked if the property Dennison was seeking to sever was not at one point three separate lots.  Where did Sam Sarraf get that information?  Did he research the issue?  And if he did – why would he do that?  His role is to be an impartial adjudicator who hears evidence presented and makes decisions on the merits of the evidence and adheres to the procedures used by a Committee of Adjustment.

Dave Kumar had questions that were related to how this matter would be seen and treated by the  Official Plan.  His question was very technical, not something that would normally come from a person with a financial background. Kumar’s questions were also beginning to take on the tone of an advocate.

Committee of adjustment members Bailey and Newbury stuck to the issues.  They asked questions of staff that were intended to clarify a point.  Bailey had very few questions, Newbury asked for some clarification relating to the original design of the lot when it was first put together.

When Chair Ramsay was about to ask the members of the Committee for their comments, which is the time they get to say if they intend to support the application, Sarraf suggested to the chair that any decision be “deferred” until the applicant had a chance to return and address some of the issues raised, particularly relating to what any house built on the severed lot would look like.

Things like this are done for the applicant by the applicants agent.  It is not the role of the committee members to suggest possible actions for an applicant.

There was a time when Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward once advocated for a constituent at Committee of Adjustment.  The city’s Solicitor was brought in to read the rules to what were then newbie Council members.  Might be time for the city Solicitor to have a chat with the boys on what’s kosher and what isn’t kosher in terms of ethical behaviour.

It  was a long meeting, the room was far too warm and everyone was getting tired.  The hands of the clock were getting close to 11:00 pm and Chairman Malcolm Ramsay was letting things slip a little.

Jack Dennison usually goes all out for what he wants. Did he go too far at a Committee of Adjustment meeting on Tuesday?

One observer with experience in matters like this wondered why the chair did not move the meeting into an “in camera” session and have everyone clear the room and once the doors were closed, turn to the two members who were offside by a country mile and ask them: “What the hell is going on here?”

Was there collusion between Sarraf and the applicant?  That was certainly a question on the minds of many as they talked after the meeting.

While Dennison was reading his comments he was working from a document he had not made available to those opposed to what he was asking for.  In quasi-tribunal hearings such as Committee of Adjustment opposing parties make documents available to each other.  In higher “courts” lawyers are required to do so.

When Dwivedi was making her presentation she asked that Dennison not be given a copy of her comments because he had not shared his.  The chair didn’t disagree with Dwivedi but once the documents were in the hands of the committee members, Sarraf immediately passed a copy to Dennison who was sitting next to him.

There was the sense that these two guys were part of the same team.  It smacked all of that small town, old boys network stuff.

Both Dave Kumar and Sam Sarraf have run for public office – both in Ward 5.  Sarraf ran in 2006, Kumar in 2010.  Kumar is also a former city hall employee where he worked in finance.

The political class tend to hang together in Burlington.

Councillor Jack Dennison’s application to sever his property was not approved by Burlington’s Committee of Adjustment.  Two members of the committee came very close to becoming advocates for the application.  Did this amount to collusion?

When running for public office Sarraf said he had completed five years study at Mohawk College in both Construction and Civil Engineering he worked from 1983 to 1999 as a Land Surveyor and was responsible for surveying many of the development projects in Burlington during that period of rapid growth. These included The Maple Community, Mapleview Mall, Tyandaga, and Millcroft communities as well as The Orchard.

In 2000 Sarraf  became Project Manager & Planner for a local Engineering consulting firm and was instrumental in the development of several residential and commercial projects and subdivisions in the GTA including the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine.

Kumar ran in Ward 5, hoping to succeed Rick Goldring who was running for Mayor in 2010.

Running for public office is noble – it isn’t easy work.  Those elected or appointed are in place to serve the people of the city –they are not there to serve their own interests or those of their chums.

Last night we saw what one observer described as what he expected from a “banana republic”.  “I never thought I would see that in this city”.

This observer added that Burlington needed an Ethics Commissioner.  That would put us on the same footing as the Senate in Ottawa.  Would that help us keep our Best City ranking next year?

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Indian Point neighbourhood gets first of several close looks by planning department as city creeps toward a new Official Plan.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  April 3, 2013  –  The first hint that there were going to be neighbourhood character studies was when the Planning department held a very small workshop at the Performing Arts Centre where they gave three groups of people the same very large map and asked them to define the neighbourhoods on the map.

Each of the groups came up with vaguely similar boundaries but there really wasn’t much in the way of a clear expression of just what a neighbourhood was.  Little wonder: according to Alan Gummo, formerly with the planning department and now retired, the word neighbourhood doesn’t appear in the Official Plan, a document the city was setting out to review as required by provincial legislation.

The city’s Planner had decided the 2013 review would be much deeper than past reviews, doing so for a number of reasons.  Bruce Krushelnicki now had Provincial guidelines he had to adhere to and he had a much more robust Strategic Plan to adhere to as well.  That document was crystal clear in its viewpoint – there were to be “vibrant neighbourhoods” and while that concept has been used to slip through some pretty dodgy spending, there was no getting away from the fact that it was something that had to be dealt with.

If there are to be vibrant neighbourhoods the planners needed to know just where those neighbourhoods were located.

Fifteen acres, 30 homes, three streets are all part of the Indian Point enclave felt to be the oldest neighbourhood outside the Burlington core.

Krushelnicki explained to the residents from Indian Point Tuesday evening,  that Burlington was a core city that just added neighbourhoods as it evolved.  Indian Point was probably the very first neighbourhood that got described as an “enclave” with 30 properties that were made distinct by large lots bounded by a creek on the north and Lake Ontario on the south.

Aldershot evolved. Roseland came into being, Millcroft, the Orchard are a few of the others that followed.  The most recent is Alton Village that came about when the 407 was built which created a piece of land that was no longer north of the rural boundary.   Other than some housing to be included in the Tremaine Road/Dundas development in the eastern part of the city and the Eagle Heights development in the west, the city is pretty well-built out and  as Krushelnicki put it “we now have to better manage what we have.”

Anne McIlroy, standing, talks to Indian Point residents about their views and vision for the community that is part of an Official Plan review character study.

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Big changes taking place in the Burlington retail community. Zellers closes – Target begins the makeover to open in April, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 19, 2012   We knew the Zellers store was going to close – we told you that in May of this year.

Now the closing is very real – the signs came down today and the stores have had almost everything taken out of them.

The Zellers sign comes off the store in the Burlington Mall. Store will get a total makeover and re-open as a Target store in April 2013

During the months ahead there will be a total gutting and then Target, the new store brand, will begin to put their equipment, sales counters, check out aisles and racks to display merchandize in place.  Burlingtonians will flood into the new Target store sometime in April of 2013 – which will be a month or so before the pier opens to the public.

Two Zellers stores are closed; the one in Millcroft Centre and the one in the Burlington Mall.

Not a sales clerk in sight. In April, 2013 the space will be filled with new merchandise in the kind of store Burlington hasn’t seen for some time.

All the Zellers staff lost their jobs.  Target didn’t buy the Zellers store – they assumed the lease, which means they now pay the rent and can do whatever they want to do with the space.  That space is now empty and in the next five or six months the store – two in Burlington, will get new equipment and new staff will be hired and trained.

Target is a very different kind of retailer.  They bring a different product line and they operate differently.  Tough on the people who no longer have jobs.  Some of them may get hired by Target but the betting in the retail community is that Target will not want people with Zellers training.

Zellers is no more – Target is now king.  The Bay and Sears along with a number of other retailers in Burlington will see a bit of an uptick in their sales which they should enjoy while it lasts because the moment Target opens its doors – the customers they had will flee in droves to Target who will do everything they can to make them loyal customers.

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A “sharrow” on your street? Should you be worried ? Not if you drive a bicycle.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  Sept. 5, 2012— Watch for painted signs along the side of more than two dozen roadways in Burlington.  The city is installing 285 new sharrows throughout the city on streets identified in the city’s Cycling Master Plan as proposed bicycle priority streets.

At $95 a pop – tax included – the city is putting in a couple of dozen of these. They are called sharrows and they tell drivers to share the road with cyclists.

Sharrows are bicycle use road markings that are painted on the road where a complete bike lane barrier cannot be installed.  The markings are meant to attract cyclists who prefer to ride on less busy streets and help increase driver awareness.

“The city’s efforts in improving our cycling infrastructure demonstrate our long-term commitment to promoting and encouraging active transportation in Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure.

Burlington received the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition last August. Share the Road is an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

Work crews are installing 285 sharrows on the following streets:

•         Millcroft Park Drive from Dundas Street to Walkers Line

•         William O’Connell Boulevard from Millcroft Park Drive to Upper Middle Road

•         Jordan Avenue from Walkers Line to Headon Road

•         Headon Road from Palmer Drive to Headon Forest Drive

•         Forest Run Avenue from Walker’s Line to Bianca Forest Drive

•         Bianca Forest Drive from Forest Run Avenue to Pincay Oaks Lane

•         Headon Forest Drive from Headon Road to Northampton Boulevard

•         Northampton Boulevard from Headon Forest Drive to Dundas Street

•         Duncaster Drive from Upper Middle Road to Cavendish Drive

•         Coventry Way from Cavendish Drive to Guelph Line

•         Tyandaga Park Drive from Brant Street to Kern’s Road

•         Kerns Road from North Service Road to Canterbury Drive

•         Mount Forest Drive from Brant to Fisher Avenue

•         Fisher Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Mountainside Drive

•         Mountainside Drive from Fisher Avenue to Guelph Line

•         Mountain Grove Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Dead End

•         Martha Street from Centennial Bikeway to Lakeshore Road

•         Pine Street from Brant Street to Martha Street

•         Northshore Road from Belhaven Crescent to LaSalle Park Road

•         Pearl Street from Pine Street to Lakeshore Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Kenwood Avenue to Hampton Heath Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Goodram Drive to Appleby Line

Motorists may experience some delay while pavement markings are put in place.  The work is underway and will be completed this week.

Each sharrow costs $95 to put in place.  The city expects to spend approximately $31,000 this year on sharrows.

$55,000 is budgeted for cycling each year. It is used on minor cycling improvement projects……this includes installation of new bike lanes (grinding of vehicle lane pavement markings and applying new bike lanes)…..curb cuts, sharrows and signage.

Hopefully drivers will see the markings on the roadway and recognize they are expected to share the road they are using with those who choose to cycle.

Once the sharrows are in place we can perhaps see more people using side streets and locations where they can fel safe and be safe.  The REAL challenge for Burlington is coming up with ways to make it safe to use a bicycle on Guelph, Walkers and Appleby Lines.




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Budding Picasso’s have had their careers stalled: police call it graffiti and that’s a no, no; pre-charge diversion for these lads.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON February 17, 2012  Police have identified a trio of Burlington youths as responsible for a number of graffiti  ‘tagging’ incidents over the past month.

Beginning in the month of January, The Orchard and Millcroft communities experienced an increase in incidents of graffiti. The graffiti, in the form of spray painted ‘tags’, were popping up on park benches, Canada Post boxes, as well as cable and hydro boxes.  The majority of the ‘tags’ were one word in nature.

It isn’t public art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kids with too much free time on their hands and parents not fully aware of what their children are doing.



In a planned response to the increased incidents of graffiti, both uniformed and plain clothed officers were utilized to patrol affected areas. This initiative included a collaborative effort with residents, school officials and students who alerted police to tagging locations, provided timelines and potential suspect information.

This resulted in the identification of three Burlington youths ages 16 and 17 years who were responsible for the vast majority of the recent tagging.  The youth, whose identities are protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are all entering a pre-charge diversion program operated by the Burlington Youth Bureau.

Such acts of vandalism have significant costs associated to them and police are asking parents to be mindful of youths in possession of tagging tools such as spray paint cans, graffiti art and wide-tipped markers.

Anyone with information regarding those responsible for such acts of vandalism are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Wake me up when it’s over!

By Casey Cosgrove

BURLINGTON, ON September 28, 2011  – Is it just my imagination, or does there seem to be a noticeable lack of interest in Burlington over the coming provincial election ?  Naturally, those working on a campaign, directly for a candidate, or as advocates for a specific issue (like the hospital or mid-peninsula highway) probably won’t see it this way as the city serves as a daily campaign battleground until October 6th.

The mainstream media is covering the election as usual, but on the ground here in Burlington, there seems to be very little buzz.  One usual predictor of interest – lawn signs – also tells the story.  Take a drive through the city and you will see relatively few lawn signs staked into the grass Burlington.

A  reading of local newspapers, blogs, campaign brochures, and discussing the coming election with neighbours, friends, and a network of young families in Burlington in recent weeks, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the level of interest among Joe Voter.

I conducted a small, informal survey with 41 busy, working, middle-income individuals, mostly commuters, and most with school-aged children.  These folks are common working Burlington families – a demographic each of the political platforms I have read appear to be targeting on paper.   Of the 41 respondents, 26 will vote in the Burlington riding, while 15 (who live in the Orchard or Millcroft) will vote in the Halton riding.  All are Burlingtonians, but none described themselves as politically ‘active’, or are involved in any of the campaigns under way in either riding.

I asked five basic questions.

 1- Will you be voting in the coming election? 

2 – If you are voting, have you decided whom you will vote for?

3 – How will you determine who will get your vote? (local candidate, party itself,

      party leader, party platform, a combination, a specific issue, or other).

4 – Have you seen a candidate at your doorstep yet?  Does that matter to you?

5 – If you are not voting, have not decided, or are reluctant to vote, why is that?

 19 of 41 respondents (less than 50%) said they will definitely be voting in the coming election.  12 said they might, while 10 said that they won’t bother to vote.  Interestingly, 14 of the 19 who will be voting have already decided whom they will be voting for.

Of the 19 sure voters,

10 said they vote for the party itself,

2 on particular issue,

3 for the local candidate,

1 the party platform,

2 the party leader, and

 3 indicated it was a combination of all of the above.

 Of the 41 respondents, only 1 has seen a candidate show up at their door.  When asked whether this mattered to them, 16 said they’d  like the chance to talk to candidates while 25 said it does not matter to them if a candidate shows up at their door.  Some even stated that they would prefer if they did not see a candidate.   It is worth mentioning that only two respondents were seniors, the rest were younger families, which may better explain this particular result.

As you might guess, the most intriguing, and disturbing responses were to the last question – ‘if you are not voting, have not decided, or are reluctant to vote, why is that?  The responses to this question included

 ‘why bother, they break their promises anyway?’,

 ‘I cannot tell the difference between them’,

 ‘my vote wont count in Burlington anyway’,

‘I do not trust any of them’,

‘I do not feel informed enough to vote’,

‘I do not like politics’,

‘I do not know the options well enough’,

‘there is no issue that I feel particularly strongly about’,

‘I waited 2 hours last election’ and

‘they are all the same, so I do not care who wins’.

 We often focus on the percentage of people that do not vote, but we spend little time analyzing this reluctance or refusal to participate in this

Platforms are full of smoke and mirrors, and are like moving targets. There are plenty of reasons to be disillusions and even disgusted with elements of our electoral process.

democratic right.  It seems clear that many people in Burlington are feeling a lack of engagement, a lack of trust, and a feeling that their vote does not matter.  Why is this?  Are those that do not vote just plain lazy and unappreciative of this right that was fought for?

Perhaps a few, but many have good reason to be fed up.  Election promises are often made and broken. Partisan ‘spin’ has become a prime tactic in campaigns.  Loca

l candidates often ‘hide’ behind the leader, not sharing much about their own credentials and vision.

Once elected, representatives are basically forced to toe the party line, or else they can expect to get comfortable in the backbenches. A vote for a truly independent thinker may be a ‘lost leader’ if that party ends up governing.

Elections seem to be used as much to confuse people as to bring clarity, as the lines between the existing parties have blurred substantially, fighting for a piece of the ‘middle’.  Aspiring candidates spend much of their time obsessing about those in power, rather than trying to engage people with their own ideas and vision.

Platforms are full of smoke and mirrors, and are like moving targets.  There are plenty of reasons to be disillusions and even disgusted with elements of our electoral process.  Getting elected is the  prime goal of those campaigning so there will be no acknowledging these issues during a campaign.  Smile, stay on message, disregard and poke holes in the opponents platform and ideas. Just win.

I am among those that have never missed an opportunity to vote.  I am sometimes offended during elections, and I don’t always have a clear choice that I feel great about, but I always vote.  I care enough to find something I feel strongly enough to vote for.  This is not simply about getting people to cast a vote.

Rather than berating people for not exercising their right to vote, perhaps we should spend more time engaging citizens, exploring things that they do care about, and making them feel heard.  If one really cares about something, and feels ‘heard’, they will vote every time, guaranteed.


Casey Cosgrove has lived for all but five of his many years in Burlington where he has been active in the community.  He ran as  city Councillor in the 2006 municipal election. He  teaches leadership a the University of Guelph and is on leave as a Director of the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy.




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