The Ho, Ho, Ho man giving you a gift; free parking for three days. Some Brant Street locations seem to have forgotten the holiday.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011 They are getting ready to talk about a tax increase of 2 1/2 to 3% with the possibility of it going to more than 4% if they decide to buy all the goodies staff has put before them – but for now your city Council is going to give a bit of a break – FREE parking in the downtown core at all meters and municipal parking lots and the Waterfront Downtown Burlington parking garage on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, the 26th and again on the 27th of December.

Note: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.  The one place that most people will want to go to – especially if the ice skating pond manages to freeze over – and, you guessed it; that one isn’t free.  Now you know what they mean by looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Not much Christmas Spirit at these Brant Street locations. Photo taken December 13th - maybe they are waiting for snow. Burlington Downtown Business Association needs to work on its membership.

I suspect the downtown merchants would have liked city hall to spread that Christmas Spirit a little further and include a couple of days before Christmas Day.  It’s not like downtown Burlington has a tradition of great Boxing Day Sales now is it?

City Hall itself will shut down from Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 and will re-open on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. During this time, a number of city administrative services will not be available.

Parks and Recreation:

This service provider managed to brighten up a display window - and for the most part they don't have walk in traffic. Right Spirit here.

There are many opportunities the whole family can enjoy over the holiday season at city pools, arenas and community centres. Hours of operation and services available vary at each city facility. Call your local pool/arena for specific swim/skate times and check the Tim Horton’s Free Holiday Skate Schedule for skate times available in the Winter Wonderland events schedule.


Burlington Transit and Handi-Van service will operate under a holiday season schedule from Dec. 25 through to Jan. 1 and will resume regular operating hours as of Monday, Jan. 2.  For details, please call the automated 24-Hour BusLINE at 905-639-0550 or visit the city’s website at:


Roads and Parks Maintenance will provide basic and emergency service over the holidays. The office will be closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2012 and will resume regular service on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012

Court offices:

The Provincial Offences Court offices in Burlington and Milton (Halton Court Services) will be closed between Dec. 26 to 28 inclusive, and on Jan. 2, 2012. The Court offices will be open on Dec. 29 and 30. Please note that there will be no court hearings scheduled between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, 2012 inclusive. Justices of the Peace will not be available between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 inclusive.


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Santa’s helpers – and we’re not talking about a bunch of little elves; big guys who know how to give back.


The Ho Ho man himself - didn't let the consistent drizzle lighten even one of his laughs.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 6, 2011  Santa Claus has been coming to town for more than 45 years as part of the annual Burlington Christmas Parade.

The event is the result of the efforts of a community based committee that liaises with the city but is not a city committee.  These guys don’t get as much as a dime from the city.

Message carriers for a gymnastics group - they loved their wigs - so did the crowd.

The city’s Festivals and Events office has two of their people who sit in the seven member committee as liaison but that’s it.

The parade that has more than 65 floats is run by a team of seven people.  They are: Gunther Kaschuba, who has been involved for the past nine years; Don Basingdale, Allan Hale; John Thomblinson; Louise LeBel; Rob Henderson and Robin Kimberley.

Henderson was one of the truck drivers and when the committee member who used to handle the getting of the trucks from different trucking companies around the city – Henderson got the tap on the shoulder and he now handles the trucking stuff.  King Paving has been providing trucks for the parade for a number of years.

Applause is always welcome - you just know this Dad is watching one of his kids or a club he volunteers with -pass by.

Cogeco Cable always does a show on the FYI to promote the parade and then they provide on the street camera coverage of the event.

Kaschuba, who comes across as a chair that is wide open with his committee members – each knows what they have to do – and they just do their jobs, he said.

We get a big boost from Burlington Transit who let us use their transit barn to decorate the floats and get the displays up and in place.

The parade has that warm, fuzzy small town feel to it with people always turning out – even in the light drizzle we had this year.  Kaschubba did say that one of the bands dropped out a few days before the parade – the threat of heavy rain wasn’t something they wanted to deal with.

“We get people who do the same thing every year.  Don Warwick has been coming out for as long as I can remember in that suit of armour” said Kaschuba.  The kids love it.  This year there was a little girl in pink sitting on the curb, totally transfixed by the man in a suit of armour striding down the street.

Hoofing it!

Patiently waiting.

The parade operated on a budget of between $12 and $15 thousand with funds coming in from sponsorships, parade entry fees.  “We have two fee levels; one for community groups and another for the commercial community” explained Kaschuba.

And he added, the project is a Rotary Club initiative as well with all four Burlington Rotary Clubs taking part.

But the parade committee has to pay for the garbage pickup after the parade and the setting up and taking down of the traffic barricades.  The Burlington Teen Tour Band participation doesn’t cost the parade group anything.  “We were particularly grateful for their participation this year – those people went home just a little on the damp side this.

The Santa sleigh is rented from people in Hamilton.

If you’ve a hanker to help or think your organization could sponsor a float or your group take part in the parade – make a note that applications have to be in before early November and space is made available on a first come, first served basis.

For an application package and further details, visit Go to the Events and Promotions section, Major Events and click on the Christmas Parade. The cost to enter the parade is $35 for not-for-profit organizations and $100 for businesses.

Bruce Marsh of the Burlington Old Timers Hockey Club manages those guys who walk along the edge of the parade with old socks attached to the ends of hockey sticks asking for loonies or twoonies to help defray the cost of the parade.

Community service at its very best.

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Aldershot residents don’t like, look or the feel of a proposed project in their neighbourhood – want council to nix the idea.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 24, 2011 The good folks in Aldershot were before a council committee last week asking that a zoning by-law change not be given to New Horizon Homes who want to proceed with Phase two of their development on Plains Road West at Falcon Boulevard.

Here was the issue as set out by planner Silvina Kade who gave a brief overview of the application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-Law 2020 for lands at 980 and 986 Falcon Boulevard and 396 and 410 Plains Road East by New Horizon Homes.

The applicant, said the planner, has purchased two single-family dwellings facing onto Falcon Boulevard in order to build a four storey residential building. Several neighborhood meetings have been held over the last four years and some area residents are unhappy with the application and the location of the proposed site.

The neighbours saw the changes the developer was asking for as a precedent that would be used to significantly change the community and they wanted none of it.  For the most part Aldershot people attending the committee meeting behaved well, no noise – they just quietly make their case and depend on the council member to defend their interests.

Developers Jeff Paikin and Joe Giacomodonato with an award for best something. They aren't being seen as the best developer for a property at the intersection of Plains Road East and Falcon Blvd.

Jeff Paikin, chief cheese of New Horizon Homes, who got himself in the news earlier in the month for bulldozing what were believed to be close to the last of the fruit trees in the Orchard community.  A pair of upset neighbours managed to get their picture on the front page of a local newspaper pointing to the trees that were ripped out of the ground.  A bit of a kafuffle followed with the council member for the area getting involved.  That issue seemed to be resolved but it did suggest the developer had lost touch with the community he was building in.  Good developers maintain good relationships with the neighbourhoods they build in.  Paikin is now back at Council with a project that does have its problems.

Basically the developer was not able to assemble the land he had hoped to pull together and was left unable to use the lot on the south west corner of the Plains Road West and Falcon Blvd. intersection.  He had purchased two bungalows south of Plains Road and had come up with several approaches to putting up the second four story building of what he is calling the Westwood Development.

To do so – he was going to demolish the two bungalows and build a structure that would have three levels facing Falcon Blvd that would rise to four levels at the back with parking for a number of cars in front of the building.  It was an imaginative solution to the problem – but the residents didn’t think it should be allowed to take place.

The owner of the property at the intersection didn’t want to sell and couldn’t be persuaded to do so even with intervention from the ward councillor Rick Craven.  Does a developers inability to complete a land assembly have to result in a less than acceptable development?  It’s a question that is fairly asked.   That intersection can and should be developed but the owner doesn’t want to sell – which should get translated into – no development.

The white dots outline the area the residents are concerned about. The piece of land in the upper right within the dots is what gave Jeff Paikin 'heart-burn' when he wasn't able to purchase the property as part of his assembly. The result is a development that is not really in the best interest of the community but is legal.

The local residents felt that if the city went along with the changes being requested then every street running south of Plains Road would become part of a development application which would eventually work down to the lake – and they wanted none of it.  Bruce Krushelniki explained that the building of the structure the developer wants to put up would not become a precedent and he explained that: “Each development application is considered on its merits based on the policy context, unique site characteristics and details of the development proposal. It is staff’s opinion that 980 & 986 Falcon Blvd. can be distinguished from most other R2.1 zoned properties in South Aldershot. This is because assembled with the adjacent Plains Rd. properties they have direct access to an arterial road on a site served by efficient peak period transit, and if approved, would result in a consistent depth of the mixed use corridor along this segment of Plains Road. The majority of the Residential Low-Density lands in South Aldershot would not satisfy the criteria of the mixed use corridor designation.

Speaker after speaker spoke of the “precedent” that would be set.  More than a handful lined up politely at the podium and spoke their piece.

New Horizon Development bought the two bungalows as part of a land assembly that was to include the corner lot at the street intersection. Owner didn't want to sell - result, a rather awkward development with a low rise commercial building that will be orphaned. In the background is phase 1 of the development. Parking for both phases is underground.

Murray Thompson, 885 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to this application. He indicated that the residents in the area where not made aware of the plans for this development until 2010. Mr. Thompson stated that he believed this outcome would set a precedent for future developments of this nature.

Bill Paynter, 967 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development plans. He stated that the number of attendees at the neighborhood meetings was an indication of the opposition for this development. He encouraged Council to consider the level of opposition when this application is presented to Council for approval.

Two storey commercial building on land that could not be assembled - owner didn't want to sell, which was their right.

Ann Cook Petz, 819 Forest Glen Avenue, spoke on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the single-family environment of Aldershot. Ms Petz questioned if this development crossed the border of mixed use by coming down off of Plains Road. She indicated concern for preservation of the community and noted that the 1997 Plan for the area should be considered. Ms. Petz wished Council the best when determining the solution for this area, but noted that she felt that this development would be setting a precedent for the area.

Manuel Bastos, 369 Finch Avenue, spoke in opposition to the application. Bastos encouraged the City not to be anti-development but was concerned with where development occurred. He indicated that this development would destroy the character of the community. He encouraged development on Plains Road that would not face onto a residential street.

Murray Charlton, 974 Glen Acres Court, stated the developer had put a nice design together, but that it was unfortunate that the development affected a residential area. He expressed concern with the setting of a precedent, the future development in the area and how other developers could then do the same in different neighborhoods.

Teresa Ferguson, 981 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development. She advised the Committee that she was the homeowner directly across the street from the two residential properties purchased for development. Ferguson stated that she believed that as a taxpayers, property owners in Burlington were entitled to the same consideration as the developers. She indicated residents might have shown greater opposition had they known that the Mixed Use Corridor was intended to go beyond Plains Road.

Roland Salmon, 936 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development application. Salmon thanked Councillor Craven for his consistent communication to the residents. He indicated that the traffic in the community was horrible, lacked policing and that people travelled at excessive speeds along the roadway. He stated that he thought the new development would compound those issues and was concerned with developers encroaching onto residential streets two or three houses at a time.

There you have it – decent people appearing before their local government asking that the development not be permitted.  No one other than the planner and the developer spoke for the project.

Where does it go from here?  It will probably be approved by City Council on Monday because the city needs to do as much infill development as it can to meet the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to add a mix of office space and residential housing units in the next 20 years.

The province has a Public Policy Statement that requires:

Settlement areas as the focus of growth, supports development within settlement areas based on densities and a land use mix that efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and directs that opportunities for intensification and redevelopment be identified and promoted where this can be accommodated. It further supports promotion of development standards “which facilitate intensification, redevelopment and compact form, while maintaining

appropriate levels of public health and safety” and directs planning authorities to “establish and implement minimum targets for intensification and redevelopment within built-up area.

Add to that the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to manage Population and Employment Growth will be accommodated by

a) directing a significant portion of the new growth to the built-up areas of the community through intensification

b) focusing intensification in intensification areas

d) reducing dependence on the automobile through the development of

mixed-use, transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly urban environments

 The Plan further requires that by 2015, at least 40% of all residential development occurring annually shall be within the built-up area.

Tough for any community to overcome that kind of a requirement – is it good for the community?  Can the city do anything to challenge these requirements?

Developers use this provincial requirement to persuade planners and city council that they should get the By-law and zoning change they want.  Is it good planning?  It is legal.  Is it good community building?  The residents don’t think so.

And if the zoning change is given – what happens to that lot at the intersection of Falcon Blvd. and Plains Road?  It becomes an orphan.  Good planning and good community building would dictate that the zoning change be denied and that people wait it out until the owner of the lot at the intersection is ready to sell.  Will we do that?  Probably not.




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Mayor snags honoured speaker for Inspire series; Andre Picard to speak November 23.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 12, 2011

Going out on a high note is the best way to leave the stage – which is what Mayor Goldring is doing with his Inspire series when, Andre Picard, Health reporter and columnist for the Globe and Mail will be the featured speaker at the last of the 2011 series the Mayor instituted during his first year in office.

Attendance has been good and it will grow as people get used the idea of speakers coming to Burlington with new ideas that stimulate and offer new and different perspectives and begin to recognize the quality of the speakers the Mayor is bringing to the city.

The series started with Christopher Hume, Architectural reporter and columnist for the Toronto Star who told his audience that McMaster University`s behavior in the way they handled building of their Burlington campus on the South Service Rd., was a moral outrage.  There was no doubt in his mind where he stood on all this.

Gil Penalosa was the second featured speaker in the Mayor's Inspired series.

That was followed by  Gil Penalosa, a passionate advocate for improving quality of life through the promotion of walking and bicycling, and of parks, trails and other public spaces as great places which foster vibrant cities with healthier communities and happier residents.

Penalosa earned a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from UCLA’s Management School. Following years of private and public sector senior managerial experience, the Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia (pop. 7 m), appointed him Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the city.

Penalosa led his team to design and build over 200 parks, of which the best known is the Simón Bolívar (360 hectares). They were also successful in opening 91 kilometres of car-free city roads on Sundays, the Ciclovia, where over 1.3 m. people come out weekly to walk, run, skate and bike. They also created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending and since the first year has become the main recreational event in the country.

Tom Rand, author of Kick was the third speaker in the Inspire series. He advocated ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Penalosa was followed by Kick author Tom Rand, a successful software entrepreneur who survived the dot com bubble in 2000. Rand now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization plus public advocacy. Rand is the Cleantech Practice, Lead Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and sits on the board of a number of clean energy companies and organizations, including Morgan Solar.

One speaker was on the platform the night of an NHL playoff game – but the crowd was still good – in the 150 + range.

The series have in the past been held at the Ron Joyce Centre of the McMaster DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road.  The Mayor has decided to keep the business in the family and this last event for the 2011 series will take place in the Community Theatre of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  The event starts at 7 pm – the Mayor`s office likes to get a handle on possible attendance – the room holds just over 200 people.

Now – the speaker – Andre Picard.

Picard is the Globe and Mail’s public health reporter and columnist who was recently named the Conference Board of Canada’s CIBC scholar-in-residence.

The program has funded scholars since 2005, enabling them to carry out research on issues that resonate throughout Canada. Picard’s research topic is The Path to Health Care Reform: Policy and Politics.

“He’s the top health journalist in the country,” said Anne Golden, president and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada. “He’s able to cover both the policy issues and the politics because he’s been so engaged on the whole range of issues around all our health-care systems.”

The College of Family Physicians of Canada named Picard a recipient of its 2011 CFPC/Scotiabank Family Medicine Lectureship Award.

Mr. Picard has been recognized for years as one of the country’s top public policy writers. His books, Critical Care: Canadian Nurses Speak for Change and The Gift of Death: Confronting Canada’s Tainted-Blood Tragedy, were best-sellers.

Among Mr. Picard’s previous awards are the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism, the Canadian Policy Research Award, the Atkinson fellowship for public policy research and the Centennial Prize of the Pan American Organization. He was named Canada’s first Public Health Hero by the Canadian Public Health Association and was honoured as a champion of mental health. He is a four-time finalist for the National Newspaper Awards.

Picard said being named the CIBC scholar-in-residence at the Conference Board will give him new opportunities and called it “a nice challenge.”  “This one allows me to do some journalism – some long-form journalism,” he said. “It allows you to do the work that you usually do but in a different way and more in-depth.”

In a recent column Picard had this to say:

Andre Picard, Globe and Mail columnist and perhaps the most prominent speaker the Mayor has brought to Burlington. His views on our health system may include some comments on the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. He will be a very direct speaker.

One of the fundamental structural problems in Canada’s health system is the lack of a clearly identified front door.

Put another way, there is no place where patients can routinely go to access the care they need promptly and efficiently and that tracks them throughout the health-care “journey.”

Traditionally, we have depended on family physicians to serve as that home base. Almost 30 million Canadians have a family doctor, but roughly four million others have none. Still, even for those with a regular caregiver, prompt appointments are hard to come by and same-day access – the gold standard – is a rarity.

So the de facto entry point into the system all too often becomes the emergency room (where patching and dispatching, and long waits, are the norm) or walk-in clinics (tremendous money-wasters that specialize in passing the buck back to ERs or family doctors).

Using these inappropriate points of access is the equivalent of entering your home by clambering up the fire escape or crawling in through a basement window, only to find that the door into the main floor is locked and you have to start over again.

It’s a terribly inefficient and expensive way to deliver health care. Among other things, when there is no front door, there is no real gatekeeper and, with the proliferation of ever-more-expensive drugs and technologies, the gatekeeper function has become more essential than ever.

Worse yet, regardless of what door patients use to enter the health system, there is little continuity in their care.

One of the principal reasons for this disjointedness is the lack of electronic health records. If someone has a heart attack and ends up in the ER, or is prescribed antibiotics at a walk-in clinic, or gets to see a specialist, his or her family doctor is unlikely to know.

This situation is not new.

The Inspire Series is one of the best things the Mayor has done for the city. It ranks right up there with his decision to tough it out and continue with the building of The Pier.

Primary health reform has been talked about for decades. In fact, with the publication of the Lalonde report, a ground-breaking document prepared by health minister Marc Lalonde in 1974, Canada became a world leader in the concept of primary care (but sadly not in the practice.) Every one of the dozens of health commissions since has dedicated a good chunk of its recommendations to the need for primary-care reform.

In the 2004 Health Accord, the provinces received $800-million to bolster primary care, but it was overshadowed by the politically motivated focus on reducing surgical wait times, where billions were invested to produce modest results.

The good news is that there has been a lot of progress of late on the notion that every Canadian should have a clearly identifiable primary-care provider for preventive care, sickness care, and some quarterbacking and follow-up when a patient needs acute care.

In the 21st century, this kind of care can’t be provided by a single physician à la Marcus Welby.

Today’s patients require episodic care occasionally, but mostly they need chronic care. Consider that 81 per cent of people over the age of 65 have at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc. For the most part, they need a team to provide health care, not a single physician.

Thankfully, in recent years, there has been a significant shift to providing primary care using interdisciplinary teams. Alberta has Primary Care Networks; Ontario has Family Health Teams; Quebec has Family Medicine Groups and; most other provinces have variations on these names with similar philosophies.

We shouldn’t forget either that excellent primary care has been offered for decades by CLSCs (community health clinics) in Quebec and Community Health Centres in Ontario, but these pioneering initiatives have always been chronically underfunded.

But the process needs to be accelerated and valued. And, practically, that means shifting resources from acute-care hospitals to community-based primary-care practice.

Picard is a prolific writer who works from his home in Montreal as the Globe and Mails Health columnist. He has been given some very significant awards for his work.

The notion of creating a clear front door into the health system got a significant boost recently in a report from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which represents the country’s 35,000 family doctors. (Canada has another 34,000 physicians in specialties other than family medicine.)

The CFPC calls for a model that has as its foundation a concept called the “Patient’s Medical Home.” The PMH is described as a family practice that serves as the “central hub for timely provision and co-ordination of a comprehensive menu of health and medical services patients need.”

The PMH is, naturally enough, centered around the family doctor (after all that’s who the CFPC represents), but, to its credit, the group fully embraces the need for interdisciplinary care, the belief that a patient requires a team or network of caregivers, including nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, and other health professionals, located in the same physical site or linked virtually from different practice sites throughout the community.

The report also makes some key points that are not emphasized nearly enough in our continuing discussions about health-care reform. To wit:

The foundation of good healthcare is good relationships between providers and patients, and among providers;

Timely access to both prevention and treatment is an essential component of good health care, and Canada’s waits are among the worst in the world;

Patients themselves need to be active participants in their care. They need to take responsibility, not just be passive recipients of care;

Continuity of care has to be a priority because it is in the transitions – from the family doctor to the specialist, from the ER to the ward, from hospital to home, etc. – where all the bad things happen.

In Canada, we have a terribly knee-jerk reflex when responding to problems: We throw more money and bodies into doing more of the same, no matter how inefficient.

With primary care, the opportunity for reform lies in actually doing things differently and ensuring that patients have access to the right care, at the right time, from the right professional.

That can’t even begin to happen if there is no front door, no medical home for them to call their own.

Burlington is in for a treat.  The Community Room at the Performing Arts Centre has seating for just over 200 people – this could be a SOLD OUT event, which by the way is free.

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Reader writes: Traffic lane configuration on Lakeshore at Brant is all wrong. Let’s change it.


Eva Amos, a Burlington resident would like to see stronger traffic controls along the Lakeshore, especially at Brant and Maple where she feels the right hand lanes are used by aggressive drivers to rush ahead of the traffic flow. She thinks making those right hand lanes, right hand turns only.

By Eva Amos

BURLINGTON, ON November 11, 2011  –The concern I have and have been expressing to council for years now, since Lakeshore Road was reconfigured in the downtown core is the bottleneck this has created in the core and especially the aggressive driving behaviour of many drivers in this particular area.  The reply I get most often from council members is that Lakeshore is not a highway and the intent is to slow traffic through the downtown.  This is all very commendable but in my opinion this configuration does nothing but cause road rage and encourage aggressive driving behaviour.

As a driver I have been cut off too many times to count, by the aggressive driver roaring up the curb lane, just to get in ahead of the long line of drivers, patiently waiting in the middle lane, as the signage instructs us to do.  Putting signs up and painting some lines on the road simply doesn’t work.  Most drivers do stay in the through traffic lane but at every light change there is the driver(s) waiting to beat the traffic and put the rest of us at risk.  This to me is like saying most drivers stop at a red light, only a few run them.  This is not OK.  It is not a speeding issue.  It is an aggressive driver issue, which I thought we were trying to cut down on.

If the configuration is to remain, which it seems it will, let’s make some changes to the traffic flow.  Some suggestions I have made but have gone unanswered are:  make the curb lane going westbound at Brant and Lakeshore a right turn lane only.  This would allow the driver, patiently waiting to turn right at Brant, but stuck behind the driver waiting to roar up the curb lane to cut off the through traffic, to make his turn, thus taking the aggressive driver out of the lane.    The same could be done at Maple and Brant coming eastbound.

Also make it a no right turn on red at Brant and Lakeshore.  Also at Maple and Lakeshore, turning right.  Again the aggressive driver is in no position to come up the curb lane when traffic is coming through.  This would all slow traffic down I realize, but isn’t that the intent of council.  It would certainly make it safer for all.  Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

It is my understanding the engineering department has recommended the configuration remain until 2019.  I understand from an earlier e-mail from Jack Dennison that council would probably review this recommendation in 2011.  It is now November 2011.  I don’t think it

There was a time when Lakeshore was known as Water Street and traffic was a little slower. But Burlington isn't a sleepy little town anymore - traffic has to be controlled.

has or will happen this year.

I am not suggesting Lakeshore Road should go back to 4 lanes, although this could be done with parking meters put along this stretch of roadway, with parking only in off peak hours.

This would add some much needed parking in the downtown core and add some revenue for the city.  It seems to work well in Oakville.

Ideally we would get everyone on transit and bikes but the reality is, this is not going to happen.  We are not a sleepy little town anymore.  We are a big city with a large population.  Let’s try and get our residents around safely.

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They all got together; they all got strategic. They all worked harder than they expected to and lost a city manager along the way.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON November 8, 2011  Burlington now has a Strategic Plan.    It is a good plan – not the plan some had hoped for – but a good plan and much better than other plans that have been foisted on the public.  The last one Future Focus 7 , was not much more than a collection of pictures with a bit of a wish list.  This plan is not a wish list. It is the result of more than ten half day long meetings as well as a couple of just staff meetings where issues were further refined.


These are the guys who did it. Over a period of seven months and more than ten meetings that lasted more than half a day each. They worked as a team but they didn't set aside their differences. What they managed to do was respect their differences and produce a Strategic Plan that will move the city forward for the next decade at least.

Like everything done at council committee meetings there is a procedure to be followed and that often results in amendments and then maybe even an amendment to an amendment.  Then there are “friendly” amendments and when it gets really serious a council member will call for a recorded vote – which is when everyone has to stand up and be counted.  And last night – they all stood up and voted for the Plan.

Something very different about this plan is the Council’s commitment to review where they are in getting the plan implemented.  That task falls to Allan Magi, Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives, who now has to get a sense of what can be done and the time frames things can get done in – Magi has his work cut out for him.  He didn’t play much of a leadership role during the ten public meetings, one never got the sense that he was managing any part of the process.  In his defence he was working with one of the best facilitators the city has employed in the past few years and it will be tough to follow that act.

The plan is going to be treated as a dynamic document that grows and changes to meet the city’s changing needs and Magi has to manage that process.

So – what’s in the document?

It has several parts that all link together to form the Strategic Plan city council will now work towards implementing.  Last year during the budget sessions there were a number of spending areas the city didn’t want to make decisions about until they had a sense of what the bigger picture was going to be.  Now they have the big picture in place – so lets go through the different parts and explain what they are and how the city council and senior staff arrived at their conclusions.

There is a vision for the city. Where people, nature and business thrive.

The Strategic Planning Team (SPT) then set out three values in which they said:

1: We are a caring, friendly and inclusive community.

2: We value innovation and trusted partnerships

3: We demonstrate respect by being fair and ethical.

These are what you might call the philosophical base from which the city is going to work to become what it wants to be.  Keep those in mind and perhaps ask yourself if you see yourself and the city as you see it reflected in those statements.

The SPT then created three Strategic Directions.  These were very broad wide ranging statements.  They were not intended to be detailed – the detail follows.  The Strategic Directions were:

Vibrant neighbourhoods


Excellence in government.

See those as very high level statements – again, no detail.  These are the high level objectives  being set out.  Within each of the Strategic Directions there are the following questions about the future we are striving for:

What will it look like ?

How will we measure success?

Those two are followed by an Action list.  The Action List is pure detail; these are the thing the city is going to do and they will align their budget to that Action List.

It is at this point that the document gets into detail which we will cover off and comment on in future articles on how the Strategic Plan the city has now approved came into being.

Councillor Taylor and KPMG facilitator Georgina Black often set the tone for a meeting. They worked well together.

It was not that smooth a process.  Both city hall staff and council members worked very hard and learned much more than they expected to when they got started at that first meeting back in April  at Paletta Mansion.  That first session was a primer on the different ways a Council can interact with the community it was elected to serve.

When city council decided to look for outside help in putting together a Strategic Plan they settled on KPMG, an international consulting firm that has a significant municipal client base; they know municipalities.  Burlington was very, very fortunate to have Georgina Black put in as the lead facilitator on this assignment.  The original expectation was that there might be five, perhaps six sessions – they ended up needing ten sessions and that of course took the project over budget.  Whatever the cost – it is money well spent.  Everyone got a graduate course in how to put together a Strategic Plan and they had one of the best teachers in that business leading them.  Black was tough.  She would lead and when she realized her students weren’t keeping up she would back track and get them all up to speed.  Some were in a bit over their heads but she was a good shepherd and didn’t lose any of her flock.  At one point she said to a Councillor who had made a statement. “No Councillor, you’re wrong. Let me explain …”   Everyone in the room gulped a little but the ground rules were in place; the facilitator was not going to run a “feel good” class.

This Council tends to want to do the right thing – but when it gets down to the short strokes – they sometimes  fail themselves.  In one of the earliest sessions Black introduced them to a BHAG.  That acronym stands for “big hairy audacious goal”.   The goal was to be something that was bigger than anyone would have thought possible – sort of like that Sunday school lesson: Dare to be  Daniel.

But the Strategic Planning Team never managed to get their head around that kind of an idea.  They tended to fall back on the lake and the escarpment as the defining aspects of what Burlington is.  “Those are just geography” Black would point out.  Kitchener-Waterloo is technology, Guelph is advanced agricultural research, Hamilton is a steel city transitioning to something that is not really clear yet but that they are transitioning is very clear.

What the Strategic Planning Team couldn’t come up with was – what is Burlington?  Black realized that the team wasn’t ready to tackle a question quite that big.  Due partly to the wrong kind of leadership; the city manager at the time wasn’t working from a vision that was shared by Council.  He was more of a strong administrator who knew the numbers and the procedures.   The Mayor was still new to the job (realize that this was late April and he’d not been in office 120 days yet) and while Goldring knew a Strategic Plan was vital for the city he hadn’t grown enough into the job to be able to formulate that big hairy audacious goal.  Don’t hold that against him: that the city took on the task of setting out to create a Strategic Plan was Goldring’s doing.

Councillor Dennison used his MBA to tangle with facilitator Black just the once. He soon realized this was her event and he fell into line quickly. Dennison however brought a perspective that his years of experience on Council made invaluable.

A recent newspaper headline about Hamilton said: “Because the city of Hamilton is heading nowhere, it’s likely to get there.” That statement cannot be said of Burlington.  We know we are heading somewhere and in the next two and a half years we will be able to look back and see where we were and where we are – and we will surprise they heck out of ourselves when we see the trail behind us.

Council is very proud of the significant amount of public involvement in the plan and use the phrase “more than 5000 touch points” with people in the city..  That is a somewhat inflated number unless senior staff are counting people who walked by outside the room a meeting was taking place in.

The ten sessions were held at several locations: Paletta Mansion, Burlington Art Centre, LaSalle Pavillion, the Conservation Authority offices in the rural part of the city and included television call in shows and structured interviews.  Different interest groups met at Tansley Woods and, disappointingly brought the same old, same old special interests to the table.  Mayor Goldring led that session and moved things along quite briskly.  It was evident then that this Council was not going to buy into same old, same old.  They wanted a bigger vision and while it was early in the process one could sense that they were all going to learn much more than they expected about what it meant to think strategically.

Council members grew individually and they grew as a unit.  Georgina Black was made a partner of KPMG, a very well deserved reward.  She will go on to do some very significant work in the municipal sector.  Burlington can take some satisfaction that she was with us before she was made a partner.  she was a good one.

Our Burlington sat in on almost every Strategic Planning session – we were the only media to do so and in the days ahead we will take you through the sessions the Strategic Planning Team went through; some of them a little on the torturous side; others quite  disappointing and some filled with promise.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison put it very well Monday evening when he said: “This is the best Strategic Plan the city has put out – and I’ve gone through seven of these things.”  What Jack didn’t say was that he was part of six plans that were not worth the paper they were printed on.  And he had his problems with the creation of the plan we now have – but he also made an absolutely vital contribution which we will tell you about during this series of news features.

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An appraisal of the three Council members and the Mayor. How are they doing as they near the end of their first year in office.

Three new council members were elected to office just over a year ago and one former  Council member got elected as Mayor.  In this feature we look at how each of the four has done during their first year in office.  We`ve left comment on the three “old timers”; Councillors, Taylor, Dennison and Craven to the mid-point of this term of office.

Our Burlington has attended literally every Council and Council Committee meeting; the only media in Burlington to do so.  We have watched and listened as the new members ‘learned the ropes’ and developed their unique style. Here is what we observed.

By Pepper Parr

A year ago they were wondering which office they would get and waiting for December 1st to arrive so they could assume office as members of  Burlington City Council.  Marianne Meed Ward had beaten Peter Thoem for the Ward 2 seat, Blair Lancaster had beaten back Mark Carr for the Ward 6 seat and Paul Sharman, to the surprise of many,  came out on top of a list of five candidates for the Ward 5 seat.

Rick Goldring was elected Mayor; but that was more Cam Jackson losing than Goldring winning.

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera faces off with Councillor Meed Ward at a Strategic Planning session. Each councillor was new to municipal politics and each brought different personalities and styles to the job. They both add to the colour and flavour of Council

The most exciting race was Mead Ward – not that it was close, but exciting because of the expectation attached to her candidacy.  She was forward, brassy and had attached herself to two issues that were wrapped around each other – saving the waterfront from developers and resolving the Pier issue.  She was supported heavily by the Save our Waterfront association – served as head of that organization during the election, and then quietly threw it under the bus rarely to be heard from again.  An action voters want to keep in mind, when Mead Ward declares her candidacy for Mayor of the city – and she will declare that candidacy at some point.  At her peril in 2014 with better prospects in 2020.

Mead Ward fully expected to win her race, but she didn`t let up for a moment and when the votes were counted, she pulled out her Agenda and carefully set her sights on the next rung of the political ladder she expects to climb

If the municipal election were held tomorrow Meed Ward would be back in faster than a slam dunk.  She is the noisiest council member, she pushes every limit there is and asks more questions than all the other council members combined.  She is seen as a real pain in the neck by both many council members and even more staff.  However, it is the platform she ran on – and she is doing everything she said she would do – and then some.

Her most impressive performance was when she asked for a recorded vote on a series of matters – there were six of them – before Council and she stood up all by herself and voted no each time.  Her fellow council members were beside themselves with anger – but Mead Ward was as proud as punch.  She wasn`t going to be pushed off her position by anyone.

While she is difficult –she is also effective and is making some differences that are evident and will soon be seen and appreciated by residents across the city.  She has brought about changes in the way development proposals are brought to the city and the manner in which they are processed by council committee.   No longer will a developer get away with putting forward a couple of dozen changes to a development and then have the changes brought back before a committee in as little as ten days.  Mead Ward has put a stop to that practice – something old timers Craven, Taylor and Dennison could have and should have done a long time ago.

Meed Ward is also changing the way Section 37 funds are spent.  A section 37 is a section of the Planning Act that allows a municipality to give a developer a larger amount of density than the Official Plan or a specific zoning by law allows in exchange for a benefit to the community a  developer will provide.  The practice in Burlington has been for the Planning Department to handle all the negotiations with the developer, usually in private meetings.  Meed Ward wanted that process opened up – wide open. She wants the community to be at the table when the value of the community benefit is determined and then also involved in deciding just what that community benefit will be.

Mead Ward runs a Community Advisory Council that is well run and very real – she listens to her constituents.  And she doesn’t draw just the rag tag people who have nothing else to do with their time.  She has raised the bar when it comes to communicating with her ward.

One sees a very “gung ho” Council member at her ward meetings.  For the first one she wanted it to be just perfect and laid on cupcakes, coffee and juices for those that attended.  City hall staff did get to her on that one and advised that kind of spending wasn’t in her budget.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward made her presence known to Council well before her election to office, the city knew what they were getting and she has delivered on that promise.

Meed Ward, who brings a journalism background to her work, put together a Newsletter and made it available to everyone electronically and told anyone who didn’t have email to give her office a call and she would mail a copy to them.  She managed to use up her mailing budget the first month in office.  What we were seeing was an inexperienced but very committed Council member going the extra mile to communicate with her community.  She respects the people she represents and genuinely wants to represent their interests.

What was important was the way she interacted with her constituents and would tell them how much she loved her job.  And she does love the job.

What isn’t clear is if the Meed Ward followers are a “fan club” limited to a couple of hundred people or a following that is city wide.  She sees herself as a Councillor for the city – not just ward 2.  Other Council members would prefer that she tend to matters within her own borders and leave them to take care of problems in their ward.

Blair Lancaster has been the quietest of the three council members.  She doesn`t say much, tends to use the same phrases – best practices is her consistent clarion call.  Nothing surprising in her efforts so far – if anything a little on the disappointing side.  She doesn`t appear to go to bat for people in her ward who have issues that are before Council.

What Lancaster has done however is beef up the way this council handles conflicts of interest matters.  Lancaster owns a Spa in the downtown core that is professionally managed for her.  When there was a report on The Downtown Core initiative – and it wasn`t much more than an update – Lancaster left the Council horseshoe and sat in the public gallery.  We`ve not seen that done in the past year by this Council or the one that preceded it.

Blair Lancaster brings a soft approach to Council. Doesn't speak nearly as much as the other members. To early to tell if she is effective as the constituent level.


While Lancaster really didn`t have a conflict, she chose to take the position that while the conflict may not have been real it could have been seen to be real and she chose to stand aside and absent herself from the discussion and any vote taken.  Within a couple of weeks Councillor Dennison, for the first time that I can remember, recused himself from the discussion and any vote on a matter he had a conflict with. It was a very minor conflict.

When Lancaster chose to stand aside she raised the bar for every member on Council.   A needed action for any municipal council but that one contribution in itself won`t be enough to get Lancaster re-elected if the next municipal election were held tomorrow

Lancaster is strongest as a public spokesperson for the council.  She handled the microphone at the Escarpment meeting held at Mainway Arena very early in this term – and she was close to stellar.  She has the experience and the poise to handle large audiences and I suspect she would do very well even if a meeting got rowdy and out of hand.

Paul Sharman got himself elected on transit issues and the problems that challenged Sherwood Forest Park in his community.  He slid in between a host of very acceptable candidates and when he got to council it didn`t take him long to insert his brisk, sometimes loud, always very direct approach to matters into the workings of the Council.

He took on the General Managers and the Directors in a way they had not been taken on in some time – there were a couple of very bruising council committee sessions early in this term.  He stunned everyone when he called for a 0% tax increase and asked that staff return to their columns of numbers and come back with just that.  One could see senior city hall staff gulping when the proposal was put forward.

There was the memorable meeting, when he made it very clear to a General Manager that the office space Council members used on the ground floor level was not acceptable, and that Council members were to be allocated space that was more suited to people, who were after all the equivalent to a Board of Directors.  Staff soon saw that Paul Sharman didn’t take prisoners.

Council members now have space on the seventh floor where each has a spacious office with a window and a small conference room that is much different than the “bunker” they used to have to use on the ground floor.  The space was drab looking, had no daylight – it was embarrassing.  It looked more like a police interrogation room, than something city council members used for meetings.

Sharman has softened a little and now tends to talk intensely with the Mayor, in that small huddle council members go into, when they talk to each other with a meeting going on. Budget discussions for 2012 will begin soon and a Transit Master Plan is due to come forward soon – we will see then what, if any, change there has been in the way Sharman makes his point.

While Sharman is strong and direct – he hasn`t really done his homework on council procedures and is not a very effective chairman of the Budget and Corporate Services committee.  His Clerk has to bail him out too often.  That and support from his vice chair, John Taylor gets him through the procedural part of meetings.

Sharman had not been a resident of Burlington for all that long.  He moved to Burlington from Oakville, joined the Chamber of Commerce and got involved in their Political Action Committee, got onto the Board of the Shape Burlington Committee where he shook a number of people to their roots.  Declared his candidacy for Mayor in the 2010 election and when Goldring declared a few days later he withdrew the Mayoralty candidacy and filed papers to run in Ward 5 as a

If Councillor Sharman doesn't agree with what you are saying it doesn't take long to sense his displeasure. He wants people to get to the point and know what they are talking about - and have numbers to back up their statements..

Council member.   He is aggressive, direct and there is seldom any doubt as to where he is coming from.  He is not a strong constituency man but it didn’t take him long to get a firm grip on what the issues were.  He deals with problems better than he deals with people and brings a solid “business mind set” to what he does.

He is a bear when it comes to facts and figures and consistently goes after staff when the numbers presented to him look a little fishy. He has this ability to be seen as outraged when there are numbers that don’t add up.  City hall staff  have by now learned to go over data more carefully knowing that Sharman will catch anything that doesn’t appear to make sense and will make his views and feelings known at their expense.  It isn’t that staff is sloppy, but he has raised the standard and brought forward a much different level of reporting to Council.

Rick Gold surprised himself as much as anyone else, when he defeated then Mayor Cam Jackson. He needed a couple of months to get the feel of the job he now has and is proving to be a much more effective Mayor than his predecessor.  He just may be seen historically, as one of the best we have ever had.  While a politician he doesn`t seem to need the limelight.

He isn`t all that hands on; he doesn`t have to be all over an issue.  He speaks when he has something to say and is inevitably positive without sounding like some kind of a city booster.  He asks questions of staff for clarification.  He doesn`t put forward stunning or startling ideas.  With a year under his belt we are now getting some idea as to the kind of Mayor he is going to be.  He is using the power of his office to strike out on his own.

The environment has always been a Goldring concern and he pushes to keep that viewpoint on the agenda but he doesn’t always get his way.  He has bumped up against Council members who have been at the horseshoe much longer than he has, and has been outmaneuvered frequently during his first nine months.

One doesn`t get the sense that there is a strong, forceful personality at work; that he has to dominate.  That is not to suggest that he is weak.  He has a much more collaborative style, but when there are tough decisions to make he doesn’t shirk them for a second.  A former City Manager learned that lesson.  One slowly realizes that Rick Goldring has fashioned a council that works well together with each member having all the room they need to be their own person.  This mayor brings a sense of humour to the proceedings and while he doesn`t appear to require people to refer to him as Your Worship, the title he is entitled to during Council meetings, other council members have begun to use the honorific when addressing or referring to him.

What comes across again and again is the man’s basic sense of decency.  It is seen in the small personal gestures where he helps people out when they are making a delegation.  There was the memorable moment when a woman speaking to a Council Committee and got lost in her notes and wasn’t able to follow where the conversation was going.  The Mayor left his seat, gave the woman his copy of the document they were working from and picked up a new copy for himself.

Goldring created the Inspire event, a series of speakers he brought to the city to inform and educate citizens of Burlington on important issues.  Christopher Hume, the Toronto Star architect critic, had some scathing comments to make on the way the city was built and was very blunt about the manner in which he thought McMaster University had treated the city, when they built on the South Service Road instead of in the downtown core of the city. The comments had people in that audience cringing.

Goldring wants people in Burlington to hear points of view that are different and to expand the dialogue that takes place.  He doesn’t want a sense of insularity to take hold in the community.  The turn out at these events is small but it grows; too early to tell if it is having any impact.

Mayor Goldring pays attention, listens carefully and usually reads a room quite well. With some experience he now has a better feel for his job.

The wisest move Goldring made was to appoint Frank McKeown as his senior aide.  McKeown had filed papers to run in Ward 4 but withdrew when Brian Heagle filed his papers.  McKeown felt that he and Heagle would split the anti-Dennison vote.  Heagle then failed to actually run for office and Dennison was back at the Council table for another term.

When Goldring woke up as Mayor, he probably needed some time to think through what had happened to him.  But it didn’t take him very long to realize he needed to add some strength to his bench and asked McKeown to serve as his principle aide, while he learned the job.

There were some very mean, nasty remarks made by people at City Hall who should have known better about the nature of the relationship between the Mayor and his aide.  Wise people are smart enough to know what their strengths are and where they need help – and they then go and get that help.  Rick Goldring brought in a man with a strong understanding of organizational principles and an ability to see and understand the political realities that exist in Burlington.  He didn’t do the Mayor’s thinking for him but served as a solid sounding board for the Mayor.

McKeown’s job is now close to done – his time on the eighth floor is probably nearing an end.  There is no need to ask what the Mayor will do without Frank at his side; the transition that had to be made is now close to complete.

Goldring decided to run for the office of Mayor because he felt that his predecessor had developed a Council that was divisive and would only get worse.  It was perhaps an impulsive decision, we will never really know, but when Rick Goldring found he was Mayor, he dug down deep and did the job.

Rick Goldring may over time prove to be one of the best Mayors the city has ever had.  He is certainly a two term Mayor – would he serve for three ?


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Looking for your Council member ? Want to see the Mayor ? They`re busy hiring our next city Manager.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 31, 2011  It`s going to be a little tougher to get through to your Council member during the month of November.  They will be meeting at an off-site location (a local hotel) to interview prospective candidates for the job of City Manager.

A usually reliable source, who sits around the horse table,  says there are some very good candidates – not quite sure how this Council member knew that before the closing date for applications – but the person did.

There is one known candidate from within city hall staff interested in the job.  Current acting city manager and full time General Manager, Community Services, Scott Stewart has indicated his interest and got his resume in before the deadline.  Stewart hails from Hamilton where he honed his management skills;  and if you can manage staff and council members in Hamilton, you can manage anywhere.   Stewart has a very direct approach to tasks.  To paraphrase the man – he will say: `Ya know what has to be done, so just do it.  If you don`t know –ask, and I’ll make sure you know”.  Stewart is not big on holding hands.  He tends to get things done and in the past year we have seen his handiwork in a number of areas – most tellingly The Pier.

Scott Stewart, the only known candidate for the job of City Manager from within city hall, brings a brisk, sometimes brusk approach to his job as General Manager Community Services where he gets things done.

Stewart will never get a job as a diplomat, but he will get the job done and knows how to develop staff.  He can spot the winners and he isn`t shy about placing a bet on someone he believes needs just a little nurturing.  He has a great sense of humour, knows how to have fun and really believes the Maple Leafs can win the Stanley Cup.  That belief could handicap his job application.

There is also a staffer whom many thought was sure to go after the job but he has made it very, very clear that he is not in the running.  The  “no I am not interested in the job”  is Frank McKeown, who currently serves as the Mayor`s right hand man.  McKeown has been with the mayor since the beginning of this term and is responsible for much of the growth the Mayor has shown as he transitioned from a ward councillor (Ward 5) to Mayor.  Goldring is much more of a Mayor today than he was the week he was sworn in.

While many felt Frank McKeown would be a first rate City Manager, they didn’t know the man when they made those comments.  McKeown is a project person and an immensely successful serial start-up entrepreneur.  He works best at situations where there is a clear objective and a goal in sight.  Give Frank McKeown those two things and you`ve got the equivalent of a pit bull on your hands.  The long arduous meetings filled with a lot of silly talk – that ain`t Frank.  So he will not be the next city manager.  He may not be with the Mayor that long either.  Frank`s job is done – and it has been done very well.

There will perhaps as many as a dozen people who apply for the job.  Burlington is a good city to live in; a great place to work and the money is good (above $200,000 a year plus perks). The challenges the city faces are exciting..  There are some problems but the city has all the resources it needs to meet the challenges.

The City Manager is the most important person a Mayor has to work with at City Hall.  It is vital that the Mayor and the City Manager be singing from the same song sheet; that the City Manager understand the vision the Mayor and his Council have and is fully behind all the objectives the Council has set out.   Burlington is about to officially pass its Strategic Plan – which is a useful tool for an incoming City Manager.  That document, the best this city has produced in some time, will be read several times by all of the job applicants and if they are truly aligned with its contents – then they deserve serious consideration.  Stewart was a part of the team that crafted the document.

A couple of reliable sources advise that the first round of interviewing will be wrapped up well before the end of November with round two taking place in December and a decision perhaps as early as mid-December.  There just might be a candidate that is so sterling; one that just jumps out as THE person for this city.  Should that be the case – the city just might direct the recruiting firm they outsourced the hiring to – to make a job offer.

Every member of city council was interviewed by the recruiting firm as well as members of the city`s executive committee to determine just what they each felt Burlington needed in the way of a city Manager.  Those interviews produced a protocol, which is basically the job description for the new city manager.  You can read that document here.

Tim Dobbie, Burlington's third city manager, worked exceptionally well with then Mayor Rob MacIsaac but left the job at about the same time McIsaac found what he thought were greener pastures at MetroLinx. Dobbie now works as a consultant.

Former Mayor Rob MacIsaac had Tim Dobbie as his City Manager – they worked like a tag team of wrestlers but it was always clear that the Mayor was always calling the shots – Dobbie just did his bidding and at times that wasn`t always easy.  Dobbie left the job for health reasons and the city had hired a new city manager, Roman Martiuk, before the 2006 Mayor, Cam Jackson, took office.  Jackson and Martiuk never saw eye to eye.  The Mayor came from a Queen`s Park environment where as a Minister he could do whatever he wanted – all he had to do was clear it with the Premier and fellow cabinet members and then direct deputy ministers to carry out the plans.

Roman Martiuk former Burlington City Manager, was often described as someone who thought he was the smartest man in the room - quite often he was and many people couldn't deal with that.

Martiuk came from a solid municipal background and had great difficulty accommodating a Mayor who didn’t really understand the way municipalities worked.  One Council member referred to Jackson as a Mayor who thought he was a Premier.  Needless to say it didn`t work out for either Jackson or Martiuk, who may have thought life was going to be easier when Goldring defeated Jackson as Mayor.  While Goldring was part of the Council that hired Martiuk and should have known what he had to work with when he became Mayor, it didn`t take Goldring long to realize that a Martiuk-Goldring team wasn`t going to materialize either.

Goldring should have had some sense, even as just a Council member, as to how Martiuk managed things.  The learning curve for the new mayor was steep and it was tough going for him in the first 45 days, but he found his footing and with McKeown at his side he grew into the job.  There were some nasty, tasteless comments about Goldring’s reliance on McKeown, made by people on staff, who should have known better. It wasn`t dependence, it was a wise move by a man who found himself with a job he wasn`t fully prepared for and knew enough to bring in the support he needed.

When Council learned early in its first term that the city had a surplus of more than $9 million that they had not been warned about – Goldring, with the aid of McKeown, saw faint words written on the wall and over time those words became clearer.  During the several staff/council Strategic Plan meetings the differences between Council and the City Manager  became clearer.  At that point Martiuk’s days were numbered.   Martiuk, who is no stranger to city hall politics, decided to find out just where he stood and met with the Mayor to review.  That review meeting ended up with Martiuk deciding to “step aside”  then rather than face a full scale review of his contract with city council.  That allowed council to look for a city manager more attuned to the style of the new team.



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Parking – Craven says you will never satisfy everyone. Is overnight street parking coming ?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 29, 2011  In Burlington – you don’t get to park overnight on the streets and according to Councillors Dennison and Lancaster – that’s the way Burlington wants it.  Ward 2 councillor Marianne Meed Ward thinks the city should look at extending the amount of time people can park on a residential street at night, at least on the downtown streets, and asked her fellow council members to support her request for a Staff Direction that would look into the problem.

Council members can ask city hall Staff to look into a problem and report back to a Council committee with ideas and options.  Any council member can put forward a staff direction but they have to get their fellow council members to go along with the idea.  Frequently, the council member will work with Staff to craft the wording for the direction – and so it was on Wednesday Councillor Meed Ward put forward a Staff Direction that would look into various options to allow residential parking in the downtown core – which no one actually defined at the meeting but everyone seemed to know what it was.

The Staff Direction went as follows:

Does Burlington want on street parking 24 hoiurs a day? What about those who just don't have the off-street parking they need?

Direct the Director of Transportation Services to bring forward a proposed study scope, public participation process and budget as part of the 2012 current budget process to examine the feasibility on increasing Burlington’s 3-hr on-street parking limit between Friday evening to Monday morning, on select streets, to accommodate visitors; and

Direct the Director of Transportation Services to include in the evaluation of extended on-street parking duration, the pros and cons of changing the time limit, including the criteria for assessing which streets should be included or excluded, hours covered, experiences of surrounding municipalities with similar by-laws, and other matters staff feel are pertinent to the decision-making.  (Councillor Meed Ward) (CC-15-11)

Councillor Taylor pointed out that parking on residential streets had not been looked at for the last three terms of council so “perhaps it is time to review the three hour parking limit on residential streets”.

Taylor however wanted to know what it was going to cost to get the outline for a study put together and when he heard “about $7500.00” he relaxed.  The Direction went through a number of changes before it got to this point. And it was during this process that one could see the different views of what kind of a city the individual council members want Burlington to be.

Meed Ward talked of her time in Toronto where people paved parts of their front lawn to park on, or bought a permit that let them park on the street.  She saw this as part of urban living – just what you had to do if you had a car and needed place to park the thing.

As the comment and debate went around the horseshoe there were suggestions that people be able to park in the public parking lots overnight or in those lots next to parks.  Nope – that wasn’t possible – those lots had to be plowed when there was snow and the cars would get in the way.

Councillor Taylor said he wasn’t on for this kind of parking.  “Nefarious things happen in cars that use those parking lots” he opined – which led his fellow councillors to much mirth and the question: “Was he speaking from experience” to which the jolly council member mumbled something about that “being a long time ago”.

Councillor Dennison wasn’t on for overnight parking either.  He just didn’t want to see cars on any Burlington  residential streets overnight.

Councillor Lancaster didn’t want cars on the street overnight either. “We’re not Hamilton” she explained. “I don’t want to go there.”

Dennison and Lancaster were speaking for the older more sedate Burlington that has a view of itself as very different than Hamilton.

Councillor Sharman didn’t have a viewpoint he wanted to put forward other than to say that parking was a “horrendous” problem for people in his ward.

Councillor Craven came up with the most striking comment when he said that parking arrangements amounts to a “fragile balance”.  “When you upset the balance all you do is change who is complaining.”  That’s the kind of wisdom that comes being on Council for more than ten years.

There are a number of parking programs that are available for those situations where a resident has relatives or friends staying with them for a couple of weeks – they can get a 15 day permit.  These would apply to situations where a driveway is being repaired or renovations are being done on a house.  You can get one 15 day permit per vehicle – per year, which means you’re kind of stuck if your renovation takes more than 15 days.

While Council members debate residential parking in the city the Burlington Downtown Business Association is coming to Council with a report developed for the Downtown Parking Committee – that report is due to be released early in November for discussion at a meeting November 16th.

All this discussion around parking – what happened to the cutting back on the use of cars; getting everyone on either a bus or a bicycle? Meed Ward made the comment that Burlington was in a state of “transition” between our reliance on cars and the move to public transit.

Viewpoints can get pretty ugly. We are going to hear many different opinions on street parking.

Meed Ward pointed out that there is “an opportunity to ‘repurpose’ and ‘recycle’ the asphalt we have for parking.  It was a cute phrase and would go down well with the environmentalists but Burlington isn’t going to buy that one.  Our environmentalism gets limited to the Escarpment.

Burlington, like many Ontario municipalities has had a 3 hour limit for the past 20 years.  Behind that regulation was a policy to encourage residents to provide off street parking for the number of vehicles they own; to allow road maintenance and snow removal as well as the collection of residential garbage.  It would also control the problem of derelict vehicles and result in clear and uncluttered streets.

The city does have a policy that would accommodate on street parking if enough people in a block petition for it.  No one was sure what the policy was – other than Councillor Taylor who knew that it had a name with a lot of  SS’s in it.  That policy was approved in 2001 and amended in 2003.  Called the NOSSP – Neighbourhood on-Street Parking Program – allows a minimum group of 10 residents (both sides of the street) or an entire street block to apply for extended on-street parking.

Any “parking zone” within the city may apply by picking up a package from parking services.  A minimum of 75% support must be obtained within the designated zone in order to qualify.  There are three different categories of NOSSO’s:

Category 1:  weekends only which would be from Friday at 6:00 pm to Sunday at midnight

Category 2: 7 days a week, 24 hrs. a day.  This one is to accommodate residents who are faced with inadequate off-street parking.  In order to get this category residents must demonstrate to city hall staff that a problem exists.  City hall defines inadequate as “1 or less spaces designated for off-street parking”.  That seems like a very limiting definition – you might want to talk to people at the parking department about that one.

Category 3: Overnight which would allow parking on the street from 1 am to 6 am and to get this you must be able to demonstrate inadequate off-street parking facilities exist – which means 1 or less spaces designated for off-street parking

You can get an information package by clicking here.

You can get what the city calls a resident survey form by clicking here and you can also get the Designated Street Representative check list by clicking here.

This is your tax dollars at work.

The Staff Direction calls for an outline for a study that will gather facts, inform and consult with citizens and come back to Committee with a list of options.  This one will be contentious.

On street parking makes for a much different city. But one needs a car to get around Burlington - what are the other options. City council is going to revisit their parking policies.

Programs like NOSPP meet needs – some of which are created by your council when they approve building projects that have inadequate parking space to begin with.  Your Council is caught between the realization that we need to cut down on the use of fossil fuels if we are to do anything about global warming, and the fact that you need a car if you are going to live in Burlington.

The city was built during a time when land and gas were cheap.  The city has yet to come up with policies that will result in a transit system that works adequately.  A former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson,  is going to be in Burlington in the middle of November for a book reading.  The social class that wants to hear what she has to say is just not going to take transit from their homes south of New Street out to the Royal Botanical Gardens on a cold winter’s day.  And I just can’t see this crowd sharing a taxi from their condo’s on Lakeshore out to the RBG.

We have some distance to go on policy development and coming to terms with the reality we face before we really resolve the transportation problem.  It’s about a lot more than parking on the streets overnight.


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Citizens group lays out the facts and the real issue when it comes to the Escarpment.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 29, 2011  –  For Burlingtonians the two issues are the hospital and the Escarpment – one at the bottom and the other at the top of the city.  The citizens have heard what each of the political parties has to say – but no one is really sure that those politicians will deliver on the promises or on the priorities as some politicians are calling them.

Thus it is good to hear from an interest group that has one objective – No highway here – thank you.  The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition

This is the part of the country side the environmentalists want to keep the highway makers away from.

(SEHC) has been consistent in their opposition to any new road.  And they bring  with them 13 organizations with 8500 members on the mailing lists – all a part of the coalition.  In the world of politics – this is called clout.

So here is what they have to say about the position the politicians have taken:

Plans to build a costly Horseshoe Mega‐highway from Fort Erie to Vaughan that will saddle Ontario taxpayers with an estimated $16 billion bill are being fought by a growing coalition of citizens’ groups. The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC), with 11 member groups from Niagara to Oakville, will now be acting in concert with Sustainable Vaughan and Concerned Residents Against Superhighway in Halton Hills (CRASHH).

While Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne has announced that Ontario’s Liberal government would not move forward with part of the planned highway from Niagara to North Burlington, other portions of the highway are still on the table and background work and environmental assessments for all portions are still ongoing. As well, opposition leader Tim Hudak has said he would build the highway if elected as Premier.

“We aren’t fighting highways, we’re fighting a transportation planning philosophy that only looks at highways,” says SEHC spokesperson Geoff Brock, adding that efficient, modern, multi‐modal transportation options across Ontario need to be considered including rail, shipping, and many types of public transit. Brock notes, plans for the Horseshoe Mega‐highway, have been announced in stages, with costs relayed separately for each portion, so it hasn’t aroused the public concern that it should have.

Yet, throughout the entire proposed route of the superhighway, citizens’ groups, and in many cases, local and Regional governments have risen up to oppose it and advocate for a better way.

“The problem is the mandate and focus of the Ministry of Transportation precludes this type of planning,” says Brock. “Traditionally, the Ministry has been focused on building and maintaining a road‐based, car and truck focused transportation system.  Ministry staffs know a lot about roads but we need experts who understand integrated transportation networks that include shipping, rail, light rail, buses and subways,” says Brock.

This is the part of the province that all the huffing and puffing is about when Burlingtonians talk about protecting the Escarpment. The province has wanted to build a new highway from Buffalo, New York all the way around the western end of Lake Ontario and into the industrial parts of the province North of Toronto. The good folks of Burlington have no problem with that idea – they just don’t want a highway built through the Escarpment. The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition thinks the province needs to re-think transportation and see beyond just building highways.

In a global economy, Ontario has to compete with places that are investing heavily in fast, cost‐effective, multimodal transportation systems for people and goods, Brock notes. “We need a transportation plan that’s faster and cheaper than one based on cars,” says Brock. He cites a recent study that showed Toronto’s commute times are quickly becoming the world’s longest while cities like Barcelona, that have just completed a massive public transit system, have the world’s shortest.

“We can’t afford to be left behind,” says Susan McMaster of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE), a Member of the SEHC. She notes that the creation of Metrolinx, and increased Provincial funding for GO expansion, are steps in the right direction but those plans are limited to the Greater Toronto to Hamilton Area (GTHA).

“Many people are commuting from the Kitchener, Brantford and Niagara areas to the GTHA. A lot of goods are moving through the border in Windsor and Sarnia to all parts of the Province. We need a greater vision for transportation in Ontario that will keep people and goods moving now and into the future,” says McMaster, citing the escalating costs of fossil fuels as a major reason to focus on creating a multi‐modal transportation network across the Province.

The cost of building the superhighway is also a major concern, says McMaster.  With the world’s economy in a tailspin the Province is under a lot of financial pressure and there is only so much money to go around. “Funding this proposed highway will cost billions of taxpayer dollars. And given current budget constraints, every dollar spent on new highways is a dollar that won’t be spent on building the kind of efficient, integrated transportation network that would make us competitive,” she says.

COPE, which has been fighting the construction of a Niagara Escarpment highway for years, is also deeply concerned about the new and expanded quarry operations the highway would generate. “By Provincial policy, aggregate must be sourced as close to the area under construction as possible. That means a lot more and bigger quarries; a lot more blasting in the Niagara escarpment and adjacent areas,” she says.  This is a large part of what the Nelson Aggregate OMB hearing is all about.

Country side that was not meant for highways.

Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna didn’t even know what the Nelson Aggregate hearing was even about – which is kind of scary.

Brock argues that:  “Until we hear the announcement that the government of this Province is committed to creating a Province‐wide, multi‐modal transportation network, SEHC will continue to expand our membership and our efforts to make this necessary change happen,” he says.

SEHC also wants the Federal Government to step up to the plate. “The bottom line is the Province can’t do it alone. The Federal Government has an important role to play

especially in terms of providing funding but also in helping to integrate, rail and shipping, and in easing congestion at borders. They need to step up to the plate, like other federal governments have around the world, and recognize that having an efficient, multi‐modal transportation network in Ontario is in the national interest, says McMaster.

“Let’s face it, we can’t get our economy moving if people and goods aren’t,” she says.



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Peggy Russell makes her case. “We believe in putting people first.”

By Peggy Russell, New Democratic Party candidate.

Our Burlington was created to reduce the information deficit that was described and defined in the Shape Burlington report.  As part of this initiative we asked the Progressive Conservative, the New Democratic and the Liberal party candidates to provide material on two features.  The first was an opinion piece on what each candidate thought was not in the best interests of Ontario and Burlington in the other  party’s platform.  The Liberals and the New Democrats participated in the editorial feature.  The Progressive Conservatives declined.

 The second editorial feature was an opportunity for each candidate to set out their political party’s platform.  Today our readers hear from NDP candidate Peggy Russell. Later this week you will hear from Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran and and Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna.

BURLINGTON, ON  September 25, 2011  Burlington is my home.  It is where I raised my children and it is where I want a great future for my grandchildren.  It is the community where we have so much to be proud of, but also a community where there is still work to be done.  I am proud and honoured that this community chose me to represent them for the past 10 years as an elected school board trustee.

At the board of education and on Provincial committees I helped to deliver results for Burlington.  Working with other great people, we had 10 consecutive balanced budgets, we added resources for vulnerable children, I voted to end fees for basic school needs, and I worked hard to ensure that neighbourhood schools remained open.  I am now once again asking for the trust of Burlington residents to send me to Queen’s Park as your Member of Provincial Parliament so that I can continue to advocate and work hard on behalf of you and our community. Having been an elected official in Burlington where I met so many people and where I have listened to so many concerns and ideas I understand what still needs to be done to make our community even stronger.

The Russell family: With twin boys Russell was thought to have a bit of an advantage – they make a great election sign team.

As I write this, I know that there are many Burlington families that are concerned about the state of our economy as we continue to hear reports of a potential downturn given some of the problems around the globe.  There are young people and families that are concerned about jobs, seniors concerned about their pensions, and small businesses concerned about their future.

These are just some of the concerns and a strong reason why Burlington needs experienced leadership at this time.  As an elected official for the past 10 years I understand how to navigate through the complexities of government to get things done.  Governing can have a steep learning curve and we in Burlington and across Ontario don’t have the luxury to time if an economic downturn is at our doorstep.  We need experienced leadership now that can hit the ground running and get the right results for Burlington and Ontario.

I understand that there will be some of you that will be skeptical and I accept that.  Governments have not always made the best decisions regardless of the party they belong to.  The Ontario New Democratic Party has grown and evolved over the years into a strong, stable force at Queen’s Park and has been a leading advocate for families in Ontario.  The NDP understands that the old politics of the past don’t work anymore and that it is time for new ideas, and a new way of doing politics at Queen’s Park.  The NDP believes in politics that puts the partisan games aside and instead works in the best interests of those who elect us, the people of Ontario.

We believe in putting people first.  Jack Layton understood this and as a result many Canadians took notice and put their trust in the NDP.  It is that pragmatic leadership that drew me to the NDP and it is that style of leadership that I want to bring to Queen’s Park to act on your behalf.

Andrea Horwath, myself and our Ontario New Democratic Party Team have a plan to help youth, families, seniors, and businesses.  Our plan calls for,

 -Removing the Provincial portion of the HST off of hydro, home heating, and gas to make life more affordable for families,
-Freezing tuition for post-secondary education and removing the interest from student loans,
-Ending ambulance fees and other basic medical costs,
-Providing stable funding to municipalities for transit while freezing transit fares,
-Reducing the Ontario small business tax to 4% to ensure that small businesses have the resources to create jobs,
-Helping businesses by creating a tax credit up to $5000 for all new hires in Ontario that are sustained for at least one year,
-Expanding the home energy retrofit program and enhancing energy conservation in Ontario,
-Cutting emergency room wait times,

-Eliminating wait-lists for homecare with an addition of one million hours of home healthcare over 4 years and providing an additional 7.5 million hours of non-medical

Peggy Russell is a very forthright speaker, she makes her point and seldom backs down. Expect her to excel at the all candidate meetings

, home-making care for things such as preparing meals and shoveling snow,

-Capping out of control Public CEO Salaries and ending the million dollar/day payouts to consultants,

-Balancing the Ontario budget by the year 2017 in a responsible manner,

In Burlington there are two other big issues that have been on the minds of families in this community for many, many years; our hospital and preserving rural Burlington.

Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is long overdue for an expansion and modernization.  That is why I have made this issue my number one priority.  A hospital is not a political pawn to play games with.  As your next MPP, I will fight to ensure that shovels are in the ground as soon as possible for our hospital expansion and modernization.


Burlington is extremely fortunate to be situated in a position where we have a beautiful lake to our south and a natural treasure to our North.  We need to preserve this.  Ever since discussions began under a previous PC government to build a highway through Rural Burlington, the Ontario NDP has held a strong position that we are opposed to a Mid-Peninsula Highway and any new highway through Rural Burlington.  No other major party has made such a commitment to Burlington.  As the next MPP for Burlington I will ensure that there is no new highway across our escarpment.

In this election you do have a choice.  You can choose the partisan games of the past or you can choose a new kind of politics at Queen’s Park.  I am asking the people of Burlington to once again put your trust in me so that I can continue to deliver for you.  It is about putting our community and people first.  I hope that I can count on your vote on October 6th.


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City hall staff romp on Brant Street, raise $3300. of their $60,000 target for United Way.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 23, 2010  The city kicked off it’s part of the United Way

Campaign with a great romp out on Burlington Street while they enjoyed a BBQ on the plaza –

and in the process sold 450 hamburgers at $5.00 a pop to put $2250. into the pot that is holding

the money staff will raise for the 2011 United Way Campaign.  The target for 2011 is $60,000


Corporate giving is a large, large part of what the United Way needs to raise each year.  Burlington’s city hall staff show how it can be done by giving it more than the old heave ho – this year different city hall departments took turns pulling a water truck down Brant street for a stretch.  Some of the times were impressive and while many think the fireman would have made a slam dunk of this – turns out the Roads and Parks Maintenance turned in a slightly better time.  Fire Chief  Shane Mintz will be getting his people into the exercise room a little more often.

The competition came down to rivals Roads and Park Maintenance and Fire. Fire clocked in at 11.something-very-fast, and then RPM clocked in at 11.something-even-faster. It was literally 4/10 ths of a second difference. So RPM wheeled away with baked goods and bragging rights, while a smoldering crew from Fire vows to really bring on the heat next year… or some clunky thing

There were nine teams out on the street pulling the water truck – and each team put up $150. Of their own money just to be in the event.  Some might mutter that – is that all they have time to do – play games on the main street – but this isn’t game playing.  City hall staff have committed themselves to raising $65,000 in 2011.  The target for the 2010 campaign was $60,000 and they came within $500. of achieving their target.

When the final numbers are tallied, yesterday’s event will have raised approximately $3,300 dollars for an incredibly good cause. And by the time the campaign is finished Chair Tracy Burrows feels certain they will reach the  $60,000. goal

The 2010 campaign was successful in raising funds for United Way.

Employee donations:              $49,110.00 – 297 pledges

Special Events:                        $10,388.10

Grand Total:                                        $59,498.10

The 2011 campaign has set the same target as 2010 – to bring in $60,00.  This year the campaign is being led by Tracey Burrows, Chair of the employee United Way Campaign committee. Food for the Kick off BBQ event was  provided by Recreation Leisure Services Ltd. & Sysco Food Supplies, refreshments provided by Pepsi, and BBQ provided by Pat’s Party Rentals.

The campaign slogan for 2011 is – Change Starts Here.  From Poverty to possibility – Healthy People, strong communities, and all that kids can be.

There are more than 50,000 families are at risk of becoming homeless or are homeless due to limited or no income.  The United Way supports the basic needs to improve people’s emotional and physical well-being, moving them from crisis to stability, enabling them to achieve their potential.  Over 10,000 people receive professional social work services and more than 12,000 seniors have accessed United Ways programs and supports.  These services recognize and build on individual strength – the foundations required for independent, healthy living.

More than 77,000 children and youth accessed the United Ways programs allowing children and youth to engage is safe and supportive environments – overcoming barriers and build positive relationships and develop skills for life.  Last year alone over 218,000 people in our region accessed one or more of the 133 United Way funded programs.


Clerks give everyone that funny look all the time - and take best costume prize during the 2011 United Way fund raising event. Lee Oliver, lead scribe is on the right.

The campaign team for 2011 consists of: Chair: Tracey Burrows, Planning and Building, Vice-Chair: Joanne Hyde, Clerks, Kim Phillips, General Managers Office, Andrew Maas, Corporate Strategic Initiatives, Wanda Tolone, Clerks, Bryan Hermans, Finance, Lynn Williams, Human Resources, Steve Fyfe, Information Technology Services, Michelle Walsh, Legal/POA, Ashley McCallum, Engineering, Marg Lambert, Parks and Recreation, Brian Adriaans, Roads and Parks Maintenance, Louise Allard, Transit, Greg Grison, Fire, Kathy Pavlou, Building, Be Nguyen, Planning, Leah Bisutti City Manager’s Office. Other staff assisting:  Jewel McCabe, Parks and Recreation

City Hall staff have chosen the United Way as their charity of choice because they feel the work of the United Way is grounded on an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our

Community.  This is reflected in the three investment priorities of the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton:

  • From poverty to possibility
  • Healthy People, strong communities
  • All that kids can be

When you give to United Way, you are helping to support a network of health and social service agencies throughout our city. Our community agencies provide vital services to thousands of people. It is a funding source for 133 programs and services in Greater Hamilton and Burlington, delivered by 73 agencies. At work across our city every day, they understand how to meet the urgent needs of the local community. Your gift to United Way provides core funding and program support to those agencies, giving them the flexibility they need to respond effectively and ensuring that your donation gets to where it is needed most.

Eighty cents (80 percent) of every dollar committed to the 2011 United Way campaign will go directly to local community building initiatives and program supports, including what United Way uses for its community building activities.

As well, employees who choose to participate in the United Way payroll deduction program may direct their contribution through United Way to any Canadian registered charity of their choice.

United Way reduces costly and time-consuming fundraising efforts for agencies so their time can be spent helping others. The United Way raises funds far more cost efficiently than most agencies can for themselves. United Way analyzes community needs and invests for impact. When the City of Burlington chooses United Way, we are choosing to help the entire community.

This year we are again seeking support from Senior Management for the Early Bird Draw event that the committee has planned.  In past years, Directors, General Managers and the Office of the City Manager have supplied draw prizes for employees who submit their completed contribution form by a specified date.  The Early Bird Draw is a great way to entice donors to have their forms in early. It is our hope that Senior Management will be leaders when approached by department representatives.

The committee has planed the following events for 2011 with all proceeds going to the United Way.

Clothing Drive – Between October 2 and October 14, 2011 inclusive
Pizza Days – October 13, November 10, December 8, 2011Art Sale – November 17, 2011
Gift Basket Silent Auction – December 1, 2011
Early Bird Incentive Draw -TBD
Dress Down Days – last Friday of each month
Kernels Popcorn Sale –TBDRaffles – TBD

Many staff donated their service award dollars to the United Way and there are donations from  NFL Football Pool.  How do people who aren’t on the city payroll get in on that football pool?

What does it all mean?  Staff at city hall are leading and showing the private sector what can be done if you really put your shoulder to the wheel –which is what nine city hall departments did on Brant Street last Thursday afternoon.

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Mayor’s Inspire program brings top notch, international level speakers to the city.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON September 13, 2011 The Mayor is ready to put on the third in a series of Inspire sessions that he holds at the McMaster University DeGroote School of Business on Thursday September 29th – 7 pm. This time we get to hear Tom Rand, one of those successful software entrepreneurs that survived the dot com bubble in 2000. He sold his company in 2005 when it had reached the xxx level

Rand is the Inspired speaker – part of Mayor Goldring’s efforts to bring intelligent debate to the city.

Rand is the Inspired speaker – part of Mayor Goldring’s efforts to bring intelligent debate to the city.

Rand now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization plus public advocacy. Rand is the Cleantech Practice, Lead Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and sits on the board of a number of clean energy companies and organizations, including Morgan Solar.

The first 100 people at the Inspire event to be held at the DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road on September 29th will be given a copy of Kicking

The first 100 people at the Inspire event to be held at the DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road on September 29th will be given a copy of Kicking

Tom’s book Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our Word, will be the focus of his talk on the 29th. In a different approach to getting his books into the hands of people Rand is giving away 100 copies of his book at the event.

Rand has a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, a MSc in philosophy of science from the University of London / London School of Economics and an MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. He speaks publicly about the issue because it is his belief that we have yet to have a serious, public conversation about the threat of climate change, and the economic opportunities afforded by the global transformation to a low-carbon economy.

“I’m really just a guy trying to slow our gallop toward an over-heated climate. Doing what I can with what I’ve got.” Is how Rand explains what he does.

Tom Rand is a part of the group of people who work out of one of the most impressive operations in the country.  The MaRs centre is an incredible learning place that brings new ideas to the market.  Log into

Tom Rand is a part of the group of people who work out of one of the most impressive operations in the country. The MaRs centre is an incredible learning place that brings new ideas to the market. Log into

Kick is richly illustrated and accessible. It addresses achievable solutions that will have a real and meaningful impact on the future for our children. It’s been conceived to appeal to a broad range of readers on multiple levels. For those who skim read and pull quotes and captions, Kick provides an engaging glimpse of this fascinating subject. For those who seek deeper understanding, the lively, factual text provides an easy-to-understand summary of the technologies and supports all claims with scientifically verified end-notes-from a politically neutral technology expert. Kick will engage, entertain and educate the public about one of the most important subjects of our time. The book deals with Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biofuels, Hydropower, Ocean, Smart Buildings, Transportation, Efficiency and Conservation and the Energy Internet.

Rand has an interest in the Planet Traveler – North America’s Greenest Hotel. The building was an abandoned structure in downtown Toronto when Tom and his partner Anthony Aarts bought it. During 2008-2009 it was converted into a low-carbon hotel. The target was to reduce carbon emissions from business-as-usual by three-quarters. Using existing technologies, and leveraging only 5% of the buildings value that target is being met. Technologies deployed include geo-exchange heating and cooling, solar thermal and PV, high-efficiency lighting and drain-water heat recapture. The geo-exchange pipes were the first to be buried under a public laneway in the City of Toronto.

It’s a different hotel – Tom Rand thinks it is one of the best examples of how we can cut down on carbon emissions.

It’s a different hotel – Tom Rand thinks it is one of the best examples of how we can cut down on carbon emissions.

The overall lesson? “Buildings are really low-hanging fruit when it comes to emissions reductions”, says Rand. “Not only can we reduce emissions by three-quarters or more, we can make money doing it.”

Rand points out that we ” have just left the hottest year on record. While experts again try to ring alarm bells, our media still gives voice to the pseudo-intellectual pursuit of climate skepticism. Perhaps while Rome burned, some bravely questioned the finer qualities of fire. Perhaps on Easter Island, as the last trees fell, some elders courageously debated the necessity of wood. These days, Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail columnist and Rex Murphy, CBC voice, sing in tune with the likes of Glenn Beck, sincerely believing their skepticism to be a form of intellectual virtue. It is not.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel calls the low-carbon economy the “third industrial revolution.” A new energy internet supplied by clean energy sources like biomass, wind solar, hydro, and geothermal has spread across the continent. There are new storage technologies like compressed air and low-friction flywheels. Large-scale efficiencies make economies more competitive. If Canada gets it right, we’ll sell this stuff to the rest of the world.

The transition to a low-carbon economy brings huge economic opportunity, but it is not optional.

While Wente asks whether humans can control the climate, global average ocean temperatures hit record highs. More ominously, as the oceans have warmed since the 1950s, plankton levels have dropped 40 per cent. As goes plankton, so goes the rest of oceanic life.

Skepticism becomes a vice when applied to a broad consensus of expert opinion warning of existential danger. The policy commitments demanded by climate science need broad public support. Skeptics erode that support without intellectual justification.

Let’s be clear, says Rand. We have known since the early 19th century that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, insulating the earth like a blanket. In 1965, the U.S. president’s Scientific Advisory Committee warned the build-up of carbon dioxide would cause changes in the climate. By 1989, then U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher declared to the UN General Assembly that climate change was the single greatest threat to our very existence. There are other informed opinions.

Thatcher, no shill for the environmental movement, was scientifically literate. The same cannot be said for those who scoff at the accumulated wisdom of our scientific elite. All national academies of science in the developed world have endorsed the basic premises of human-caused climate change. The only scientific argument remaining is not about whether climate change is real or imagined, but whether the results will be catastrophic or merely disastrous.

Yet untrained skeptics assure us that the dangers of which the scientists speak may not be real.

For Murphy, public acceptance of expert opinion on climate change amounts to religious indoctrination. Wente asserts that climate cannot be controlled by human behaviour. Beck argues that it’s a Communist conspiracy. The purported dangers are at best hypothetical constructions of a few scientists, at worst mere monsters under our bed, easily dismissed with a dose of adult skepticism. The skeptics explicitly cast themselves against the orthodoxy of our time, as noble knights standing up to society’s pressure to conform.

This is nonsense. Climate change is not like politics or a painting. The opinions of laypersons are not relevant. It’s hard science, and the truth of the matter has been settled by those qualified to make the judgment.

But we’re far past the complex theoretical models now. Ask an Australian farmer what climate change means. The same climate instability that brought Australia the longest drought in human memory, now unleashes catastrophic flooding. To B.C. foresters, it’s the pine beetle destroying their timber. Lloyd’s of London, like most insurance companies, faces escalating costs due to extreme weather events. Russia’s scorching summer, which temporarily ended grain exports, and the floods in Pakistan are but appetizers before the main event.

The pseudo-intellectual pursuit of climate skepticism delays Canada’s participation in a new economy, and it makes it harder to have that public and adult conversation we so desperately need: the one about how volatile nature has become, and how angry it will get.




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For Burlington, Liberals choose hospitals, not highways.

By Karmel Sakran, Liberal candidate, Burlington.

We asked each of the candidates to tell you, our readers, what they thought was wrong with the election platforms of the opposing candidates. We asked that they write about “the other guy”. In a future feature each candidate will write about their party platform. We wanted to attempt to create a bit of a debate between the candidates. The Progressive Conservatives advised that they “will not be participating in the first half of our request. “We will get back to you ” they advised “with the 2nd half of the request regarding the PC Party Platform and what it will do for Ontario and for Burlington.” Here is what the Liberals had to say. The New Democratic comments appeared earlier.

BURLINGTON, ON September 12, 2011 – For weeks now, on doorsteps and events all over Burlington, I’ve been working hard to bring the message about our party’s positive approach to health care, our world-beating education system and the green jobs of tomorrow.

But here’s my main message for Burlington: it’s hospitals – not highways.

Jo Brant Hospital – not the mid-Peninsula highway

True to form, the Ontario Liberal government has approved the redevelopment plan for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, while clearly stating that the mid-Peninsula highway that PC leader Tim Hudak wants so badly, will not pave over north Burlington’s valuable agricultural and sensitive environmental lands.

Karmel Sakran in front of his campaign office, which is located north of the QEW – a change from the usual campaign office locations on Fairview.  Sakran says the decision to be north of the QEW was strategic.

Karmel Sakran in front of his campaign office, which is located north of the QEW – a change from the usual campaign office locations on Fairview. Sakran says the decision to be north of the QEW was strategic.

The recent Jo Brant Hospital announcement was a long-awaited one that will benefit all Burlington residents. It came after two years of hard work by hospital officials, the City of Burlington, citizens and a group of private donors.

Rather than celebrate this decision as a good for Burlington, the opposition PCs and NDP chose to attack the efforts made by their fellow citizens, calling the announcement’s timing pure politics. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As someone who sat as a Hospital board member for five years, I know the province requires a “state of readiness” before providing capital funding for a project of this nature. As a community, we rose to the challenge and did just that – and within the all-important five year funding window.

That we now have a commitment for provincial funding is a huge step forward for Burlington, one that I’d hate to see disrupted or revoked by a Hudak-led Tory government, a regime that favours highways over hospitals.

We build hospitals – not close them like the PCs

This Liberal government builds – not closes – hospitals. In its first two terms, this government has built or launched 18 hospital projects. Compare that to the previous Mike Harris Tory government, when Mr. Hudak was a minister, which closed 28 hospitals.

As a founding board member of Burlington’s Carpenter Hospice, whose 10 bedrooms provide end-of-life care to about 110 residents annually in a home-like setting, I was delighted when our government increased its funding, August 31. The additional $320,000 added to base funding will strengthen Carpenter’s nursing and personal support services and enhance its ability to deliver palliative care in Burlington.

We strongly focus on education

The government’s relentless focus on education is paying off in our schools and the economy. Test scores are up: 69 per cent of grades 3 and 6 students are mastering reading, writing and math – a 15 point increase since 2003. We’re expanding online math tutoring for students from grade 7 to 10 and doubling teacher education to two years to give student teachers more practical classroom experience. Ontario Liberals are the only party with a plan to keep students on track, from full-day kindergarten right through post-secondary and into a good job.

Home care strengthened

The government continues to strengthen health care by bringing back house calls – a boon for some Ontarians with ongoing medical issues that make it hard for them to arrange office visits. Seniors especially will benefit because it will be easier to stay in their own home and remain independent while enjoying better health through regular check-ups and medical attention.

Tuition grants for university & college students

By creating a tuition grant that takes 30% off the average undergraduate tuition in Ontario, the Liberal government is moving Ontario forward by keeping the cost of post-secondary education within everyone’s reach. Annually, the grant will save families $1,600 per student in university and $730 in college.

Contrast this with the Harris-Hudak PCs, who cut post-secondary education by $435 million, slashed student aid by 41%, allowed fees to skyrocket by 67% and provided no help to middle-income families.

Karmel Sakran is a lawyer by profession and so it wasn’t all that difficult to convince the provincial attorney general to pay the city a visit.  It was apparently a relaxing day for all.

Karmel Sakran is a lawyer by profession and so it wasn’t all that difficult to convince the provincial attorney general to pay the city a visit. It was apparently a relaxing day for all.

The Hudak PCs’ $14 billion hole in their platform means they won’t help middle-class families afford post-secondary education, and will make deep cuts that send tuition through the roof, again. The current NDP platform barely mentions education but their legacy is clear; they were the party that eliminated up-front student grants, before we brought them back.

Let’s build on our progress & continue to strengthen Ontario

No question: Ontario needs the strong, steady hand of the McGuinty Liberal government to keep moving forward.

Over the past two terms, this government has hired thousands of doctors and nurses, built 18 new hospitals and improved access to primary care. Our health investments helped us go from having the longest to the shortest surgical wait times in Canada and 1.3 million more Ontarians now have a family doctor.

We lowered early-year class sizes, improved school buildings and introduced the continent’s first full-day kindergarten program. We’re also increasing post-secondary attainment by adding 60,000 new spaces – including three new undergraduate satellite campuses.

And to further help seniors remain in their own homes – in safety and dignity – we’re introducing a Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit for things like ramps and walk-in baths.

Our platform also promises to create 50,000 new clean-energy jobs through Ontario’s world-leading FIT program. And we’re reducing electricity bills by ten per cent through the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.

Liberal platform fully audited. PC & NDP platforms: hundreds of uncosted promises

The Hudak PCs’ platform – with its $14 billion hole – has 229 uncosted promises. And that will mean deep cuts to health care and education. The NDP has 119 uncosted promises in their platform and a crushing $9 billion tax increase.

Our platform features just 45 new, fully costed commitments to help Ontario families stay on track.

We’re the only party with a platform that has been audited by an economist – Scotiabank Chief Economist Warren Jestin – who confirmed that our numbers add up.

McGuinty Liberals support Burlington commuters

I also don’t hear any positive emanations from the PCs or NDP about the major transit and highway programs that have helped Burlington commuters go to and from their jobs. What we do know is that between 1999 and 2003, the PC government contributed nothing to GO transit leaving municipalities to carry the load. During the NDP time in office, they invested less than a third of what our government has invested and were the first to privatize highways.

Since 2003, the City of Burlington has received more than $48.8 million to support public transit plus nearly $13 million in gas tax funding. As well, the government added 600 new parking spaces at the Burlington GO Station, new weekday bus trips from McMaster to the Burlington GO, and a seasonal weekend and holiday Toronto-Niagara Falls train service with one of the stops in Burlington.

We’ve committed to $434.1 million to Halton Region for highway improvements since 2003. All this with a dedicated gas tax to municipalities. Not only are we improving transportation in Burlington and Halton Region, we’ve brought in tougher penalties for drinking and driving, speed limiters on most large trucks and banned the use of hand held devices while driving.

Powerful reasons to vote Liberal on October 6th.




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Another Liberal election promise – improved GO train service. Great idea – ahem, when will we see this?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 12, 2011 It looks like it might be choo choo Dalton. The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, told the Toronto Board of Trade today that his government was going to create 68,000 GTA jobs as the province expands GO train service.

“Our goal is to build a high-skills, high-wage Ontario economy. To get that, you need to keep goods and people moving,” said McGuinty. “That’s why we’re expanding GO train service to two-way service, all day, on all corridors.”

Two way service – all day. What exactly does that mean? Will we see a schedule during the off peak hours that is better than the basically hourly service we have now? This government is throwing the words jobs, jobs, jobs around like curses in a grungy bar. A little more detail please. We get that we have an economy that is under a little stress. And there are people out of work – we have something in the 7%+ unemployment range – so new work is good.

Improved GO service is another election promise.  Mark that one down and see if they come through on it.  Will this promise take as long as the hospital to come through ?  And by the way the hospital funding is just that at this point – a promise.

Improved GO service is another election promise. Mark that one down and see if they come through on it. Will this promise take as long as the hospital to come through ? And by the way the hospital funding is just that at this point – a promise.

The upgrade to the GO service will mean jobs in construction and engineering. Good high paying jobs – but there were no times lines attached to the announcement.

According to the Premier there are some 45,000 people from communities like Hamilton, Barrie and Oshawa take the GO train to Union Station. If all those people drove to work instead of taking transit, the GTA would need to build four more Gardiner Expressways and four new Don Valley Parkways to accommodate the extra cars. We certainly get how packed those four lanes on the QEW are and what a mess when there is an accident.

All good news – but why do we have to have an election to hear all this good stuff?

The Premier said the province has invested $4.7 billion since 2003 to build new lines, improve stations, add new trains and increase service. Now, there are 12 million more people riding GO than in 2003 — a 28% increase. Today, 94% of all rush-hour trains are on time and passenger satisfaction with GO is 82% — up from 59% a year ago.

The Premier used the occasion to remind us that the last PC government recklessly gutted transit — and made a mess of GO Transit in particular. First, they downloaded GO to the municipalities, then uploaded it again. Now, the Hudak PCs are at it again. They have a $14 billion hole in their platform — which would mean deep cuts to transit at a time when transit is most needed.

The last NDP government also cut GO service and now would introduce a crushing $9 billion in job-killing taxes.

Those are acceptable comments during an election. Are they true ?





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Three cultures managed to overcome differences and agree on a unique approach to creating a community centre.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 12, 2011 — It was a unique idea – why not put a school, a library and a community sports complex all in one place and attached to each other ? And why not do it in a brand new community. Do you think it would work?

Burlington is in the process of finding out if three organizations that are in place to serve the public can adjust their operating procedures enough to be able to work together. Cindy Mercanti, Manager Recreation Services for the city of Burlington speaks glowing of the process and how well it has worked so far.

Getting this project to the point where shovels will begin to dig into the ground had to work its way through reams of paper – and you know what that means: lawyers. There were so many lawyers on this file that they had to hire a law firm to write the definitive agreement to ensure that no one party favoured themselves. Nancy Shea Nicol advised a city council committee that herding the lawyers was not quite as difficult as herding cats and that except for some concerns with the drafting of the operating agreement – it went pretty well.

Organizationally it was quite a challenge but fair minded people with willing hearts put together a collection of committees and got on with the job of making it happen.

The last major housing development in Burlington is well underway.  Occupancy should begin late in the year.

The last major housing development in Burlington is well underway. Occupancy should begin late in the year.

At this point, August of 2011, construction on the skate board park is well underway and should be opening sometime in the fall. Off in the background of where the skate board rink is being built one can see the frames of new houses going up and construction vehicles running up and down Tim Dobbie Drive, the street that dissects the location which is immediately north of Dundas and west of Walkers line.

The Skate Board park and playing fields will be to the east of Tim Dobbie Drive with the combined library, community sports centre and the school will be on the west side along with additional playing fields. The North Burlington Skate Park is being built as part of the Norton Park development. It is targeted to be complete mid-October, 2011.

Manager Recreational Services for the city of Burlington, stands in front of the transit being used by engineers as they work on the construction of the skate board rink that is part of the Norton development across the street from the high school, library, community centre complex.  The only thing not on the site (yet?) is a Tim Hortons.

Manager Recreational Services for the city of Burlington, stands in front of the transit being used by engineers as they work on the construction of the skate board rink that is part of the Norton development across the street from the high school, library, community centre complex. The only thing not on the site (yet?) is a Tim Hortons.

The Alton community was the last large greenfield residential construction project for Burlington on land that had been zoned for housing. At some point in the not too distant future some of the lands that are designated employment lands may get re-designated and become available for housing but at the moment Alton is the last big one – and big it is.

The city of Burlington, who are not the lead on this project, insisted that all the agreements be in place, signed and approved by the various boards involved before any tenders were awarded.

The community site is on the eastern side of Tim Dobbie Drive north of Dundas.  A sports fields and a skate board rink are on the east side.  Rink is expected to open in September.

The community site is on the eastern side of Tim Dobbie Drive north of Dundas. A sports fields and a skate board rink are on the east side. Rink is expected to open in September.


The lead on the construction side of the project is the Halton District School Board. The project was tendered and the best bid came in from Bondfield Construction at a cost of just over $40 million. Burlington’s piece of that cost is $13.9 million. The bid is good until August 17th – the same day that the city will open bids from construction companies for the completion of the Brant Street Pier. If all these project get completed on time 2013 is going to be a ‘gang busters’ year for Burlington. We may not be able to live with all that success. Shovels are expected to go into the ground for the community centre part in September. The project has yet to be given a name. Please not another politician, there is a veteran who got passed over just awhile ago – maybe time to remember him?

At a July Council committee meeting council members were brought up to date and advised how well the project was going. The only hiccup was mention of a budget shortfall. There no panic, but at the time the HDSB was still shy close to $1.7 million for their part of the project.

The Burlington Library, The Halton District School Board and the City of Burlington are all part of this unique arrangement with Burlington Hydro in the mix as well. They are installing the solar panels that will be on the roofs collecting sunshine and pumping that energy back into the electricity grid.

Architects rendering of what the three part complex will look like.  A high school, a community centre and a library are all linked together into a single complex.  Construction is scheduled to start in September.

Architects rendering of what the three part complex will look like. A high school, a community centre and a library are all linked together into a single complex. Construction is scheduled to start in September.


So – what’s the big deal about this project. To most people it would make sense to have a library, a school and a community sports complex all in one place. The students could use the library, which would be part of the complex and evening sports events could use the gymnasium facilities that are part of the school. Common sense was written all over the idea. The stumbling blocks were at the organization level, where the operating cultures are quite different.

A high school principal runs one kind of organization and has obligations that must be met under the Education Act while the Chief Librarian runs a significantly different origination which is, yet again, quite a bit different that a community centre. Parks and recreation has a totally different culture and operating procedures. Each had to be identified and understood by all the parties involved and then adjusted enough to be able to work together seamlessly. Getting them all pulling together at the same time and in the same direction was much easier said than done. But in Burlington – it looks as if it is going to get done.

The people behind this are thinking well outside the box are not just linking up a couple of buildings. Heating and air-conditioning – vital – but did there have to be three separate systems? Why not just the one – sure but then how do you figure out how much each participant pays when the hydro bill comes in and who gets the benefit of those solar panels on the roof ?

Are you getting the sense that there were a lot of committee meetings going on. You betcha there were. And the lawyers were in their big time. First there was an all party Joint Development Agreement that set out the sharing of the design ands construction costs. Care to guess how many drafts that went through?

The project came together when Leo DeLoyde, GM Development and Infrastructure, asked then newcomer Scott Stewart if he would talk to the people at Parks and Recreation to see if anything could be done

This project however is planned as much more than a collection of organizations coming together to benefit from synergies and scale and the cost savings that come from a larger project. The group involved the Burlington Tourism office which was the first signal that something quite a bit bigger is planned.

Once the building is open and operational the layout above give you a sense of what will exist and how all the parts are linked together. One wonders where the hallway monitors at the high school will end their rounds.  Maybe no monitors?

Once the building is open and operational the layout above give you a sense of what will exist and how all the parts are linked together. One wonders where the hallway monitors at the high school will end their rounds. Maybe no monitors?


The city wants to create a centre where provincial level sports events can take place and Burlington is being positioned as the community that has it all. The focus is going to be on floor sports: basketball, badminton and volleyball are the original focus. Meetings have already been held with the provincial sports organizations and while there are no events scheduled for the facility yet – those 32 foot ceilings and four courts all in one large space with up to date change rooms and a large venue – will certainly put Burlington on the map for the provincial level sports community. Burlington Tourism will finally have something to sell – I mean Spencer smith Park can only take you so far.

While having a flashy new facility with all the whistles and bells will certainly draw flies, it has to work as a single entity – and that is where the magic in this initiative exists.

There was a Steering Committee, a Construction Team as well as an Operational Team, and various sub-teams. The Steering Committee has representatives from all three organizations and is overseeing the project and the development of the various agreements. The Construction Team deals with all aspects of construction and has representatives from all organizations as well as the architect.

Cindy Mercanti stands before the bill board that shows what is about to be built on the site north of Dundas and West of Walkers Line.  Major change for that part of Burlington.

Cindy Mercanti stands before the bill board that shows what is about to be built on the site north of Dundas and West of Walkers Line. Major change for that part of Burlington.

The Operational Team assisted the Construction Team with detailed design and has led in the development of the operating model and operations and maintenance agreement.  Similar to the Construction Team, representatives from all three organizations participate.  And there are sub-teams all over the place from the three organizations. As Cindy Mercanti explained it: “This was a very collaborative process” The city team included Parks and Recreation, Roads and Parks Maintenance and Community Strategic Initiatives

The three groups of people from three significantly different organizations made this happen. Let us return and tell you who they are and how they managed to make it all come together and work – so far.





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City manager to leave. Was he pushed or did he jump? Neither – he stepped aside.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 27, 2011 He has been with us for four years and is in the last stretch of his five year contract with Burlington as City Manager. Early in the year he approached the Mayor to get a sense of what his thoughts were on a contract extension – found that there probably wasn’t going to be one and discussed a number of options – one of which was to step aside – and that is what he did. Roman Martiuk leaves his office at the end of August.

Roman Martiuk listened and when he had a contribution to make – he was always heard.  Here he communicates with Georgina Black during the Strategic Planning Sessions

Roman Martiuk listened and when he had a contribution to make – he was always heard. Here he communicates with Georgina Black during the Strategic Planning Sessions

What did he achieve while he was with us? Was he worth the $215,000 + we paid him? Is Burlington a better place because of what Roman Martiuk got done – and did the city ever really get to know the man?

For the most part he ran a happy ship. He is a great numbers guy and he knew the rules of the game better than anyone else on campus and has to be credited for developing his staff and introducing new systems, procedures and approaches

In a memo to his staff he said: “Throughout my career I have tended to stay with organizations for no more than five years, as I firmly believe that a key part of being a successful change agent is taking the organization as far as you can and then transitioning to a new manager who can build on your successes and take the next steps.” Was Roman Martiuk a change agent?


“The decision to transition to a new City Manager was one that was made after extensive discussion between myself, the Mayor and Council.  In fact, it is a discussion that was in large part initiated by me and a decision which I fully support”, said Martiuk.

“In the last four years we have had a number of successes.  These successes are even more impressive given the challenging nature of the environment and economy under which we were operating.  Our accomplishments include:

  • Implementing a new budget system with a strategic focus
  • Introducing a cost containment program with $27.5 million in savings since the start of the program.
  • Developing a new 10 year capital plan achieving $69 million in savings
  • Implementing  the asset management approach to capital budgeting
  • Increasing reserves from 6% to 10% of own source revenues
  • Designing and constructing a $40 million performing arts centre
  • Completing a corporate reorganization
  • Work load measuring and redeploying staff in response to the recession, and
  • The relocation of the McMaster school of business to Burlington

While Martiuk was involved in all of these accomplishments – he wasn’t the leading force in many of them. He lead a team that got these jobs done. He was a sound financial manager and he constantly hammered away at the significant infrastructure shortfall of more than 30% He never let an opportunity to make that point go by without a comment from him.

He came in when a very dynamic Mayor was leaving office and had to work with a Mayor who was very intrusive and a staff that was not as in sync with the community it served as it needed to be. Significant changes were made on his watch. All of his top line manager – the General Manager levels were changed while Martiuk was city manager.

The Pier fiasco took place on his watch but one can’t fault Martiuk for that one. A lousy contract was entered into before he had the keys to his office. The best he could do was attempt to manage a situation that went from bad to worse. In a somewhat plaintive tone, Martiuk says he “wishes the Pier had been completed while he was city manager. I would have liked to dance on it.”

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre got built on his watch but to be candid the BPAC Board raised the money and got the building in place on time and on budget. The project was designed and tendered by the city.

Martiuk came to Burlington from Prince Albert Saskatchewan and had to fill the shoes left under the desk by Tim Dobbie, who was Mayor MacIssac’s right hand man. He faced a staff that had to undergo significant refurbishment and at the same time work with a Mayor with a very distinct personality shaped by years as a Minister at Queen’s Park and absolutely no municipal experience. The two didn’t even know each other.

In leaving Prince Albert, Martiuk said: “I really hadn’t been looking. I was contacted by a professional in the (human resources) business and he told me about this opportunity,” said Martiuk. His first day on the job in Prince Albert was March 21, 2005.

The thinking it through was always part of the job – here Martiuk does his homework alongside staff and Council members.

The thinking it through was always part of the job – here Martiuk does his homework alongside staff and Council members.

Martiuk had family in Ontario and a daughter at McMaster and the money in Burlington was a lot better than that in Prince Albert.

During Martiuk’s tenure with Prince Albert, he established new systems, reduced costs, improved the city’s competitive position and recruited a number of new department heads. Which is basically what he has done for Burlington.

The guy has a remarkable education and, based on his resume, a pretty decent track record. He is clearly a solid administrator. The bulk of his career was with a Burlington Mayor that he found it very difficult to work with. Cam Jackson didn’t understand municipal government and Martiuk didn’t yet have the grip he needed on his team. Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor described Jackson as the Mayor who thought he had been elected President of Burlington.”

So – why did Roman Martiuk offer to step aside? He is adamant that he did not resign. resign – probably because he didn’t think he was going to be offered a contract extension. This Council works quite well. The newly elected Mayor knew he was going to need help and brought in a trusted colleague to help him steer his way through a thicket he wasn’t all that familiar with. The decision to bring in Frank McKeown, a very experienced corporate operative, has resulted in a more hard nosed approach to the way things get done. Add to that mix Paul Sharman, a new council member with significant corporate experience and not the least bit shy about making blunt comments and you now have a council that needs much different care and feeding.

The Mayor’s announcement – and notice that is was the Mayor’s announcement and not a joint statement by Martiuk and the Mayor, sets it out pretty clearly. The city wanted a different kind of manager and this was an opportune time to cut their ties with the existing manager and go looking for someone who was more “corporate”, prepared to work with a Council in a different way, get critical data in their hands in a much more timely manner and someone who bought into the concept of community engagement in a way that Martiuk wasn’t comfortable with. Many at City Hall thought the Shape Burlington report that Mayor Jackson commissioned and had done by an independent committee, was unfair to city hall staff and it took them some time to get comfortable with the report. Martiuk deserves credit for pulling his team together and holding their ground while the battle for supremacy took place.

Martiuk would frequently say that staff is in place to serve council and all they could do was give their best advice. It may have been very good advice but Council didn’t want another five years of it.

While this Council is backing away from parts of the report they all ran on in the 2010 election and supported it unanimously and they have a community group watching them carefully to ensure they live up to the eight recommendations in the document.

While Roman Martiuk is all business he has a well developed sense of humour that was evident in the costume he wore one Halloween – he came dressed as the devil. His was a happy ship.

The child of immigrant parents who met each other in Canada, Martiuk always worked after school and worked hard at school. He earned a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering degree; is a Professional engineer; is a certified Management Accountant; has an MBA and holds two certificates in Human Resource management.

What then does Martiuk’s resignation mean for Burlington? That we are losing a well qualified man for sure. But there is more to all this than just that. Council has a very clear agenda and a direction it wants to take Burlington – and they just didn’t think Roman Martiuk was the man to help them get there. There are others at the senior level that don’t fit in with the agenda Council has. Can we expect to see more resignations?

Somewhere out there, there is a municipal council that needs a manager who can fix whatever financial mess they are in. Google Roman Martiuk or track him down in LinkedIn – he’s available




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Finally, it is official – Peggy Russell is to seek NDP Provincial Nomination for Burlington.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON June 17, 2011 – She was Vice-Chair of the Halton District School Board and served on that Board for ten years and has decided that it was time for a move up the political food chain. Queen’s Park was her choice with Peggy Russell today officially announced her intention to seek the nomination for the New Democratic Party in Burlington for the Ontario General Election this fall. Good luck!

Russell said she will make hospital funding her number one priority followed by will be to secure provincial support for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital followed by concerns about development and intensification in the community. “McGuinty has forced growth upon Burlington” said Russell, “and has not provided the necessary supports for that growth. I plan to be a strong advocate to secure Provincial funding for the infrastructure needed to support growth in Burlington.”

Long time Burlington community activist Peggy Russell is answering the call again – this time she wants to sit at Queen’s Park.  Her vote count in the municipal election was more than respectable; question now is can her leader,  Andrea Horwath, provide enough in the way of coat tails for Russell to ride into office on.

Long time Burlington community activist Peggy Russell is answering the call again – this time she wants to sit at Queen’s Park. Her vote count in the municipal election was more than respectable; question now is can her leader, Andrea Horwath, provide enough in the way of coat tails for Russell to ride into office on.

Russell also cites what she calls the growing centralization of decision making at Queen’s Park as another reason for her decision to run for Provincial office. She provides two specific examples.

“The McGuinty Liberals took a heavy handed approach to planning in our region in their push for a new highway through Rural Burlington,” said Russell. “Both the McGuinty Liberals and Hudak Tories have failed to listen to Burlington residents who are overwhelmingly opposed to a new highway over the Niagara Escarpment.”

Another example of the Province dictating to communities in Ontario is in Education. Russell said, “As a Halton District School Board trustee I fought against Bill 177. This bill limits the ability of trustees to address the concerns of our community. As the MPP for Burlington I will fight to ensure that our community has a greater say in the education of our children.”

Russell and the NDP will also work to make life more affordable for families. This includes removing the provincial portion of the HST off of hydro and home heating, making gas prices predictable for consumers, and by eliminating ambulance fees.

Russell is a member of Shaping Burlington, the successor organization set up to follow through and advocate for the recommendations in the original Shape Burlington report.

She is currently a member of the Burlington Transit Advisory Committee and Poverty Free Halton as well as being involved in fund raising for the United Way via Burlington’s Amazing RACE. She has received numerous awards including being named the Halton Woman of the Year.

Russell was also a candidate for municipal office in the 2010 civic election when she ran in Ward 5 and earned a more than respectable number of votes. Had the field been smaller (there were seven candidates) Russell may well have come out the winner.



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Portland had many lessons for Mayor Goldring. Two million bus riders and an 80% voter turn out impressed him

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 13, 2011 – The Mayor spent three days in Portland, Oregon last week and came back with a briefcase full of literature and a notebook filled with thoughts and ideas to follow up on.

“Portland is a much more different city than Burlington but I wanted to meet people there because they have a transit system that works and works well and they have an approach to solving their problems that made a lot of sense to me’, was his opening comment during our interview..

Burlington Mayor Rock Goldring with Portland Mayor Sam Adams.  Like minds meeting each other.

Burlington Mayor Rock Goldring with Portland Mayor Sam Adams. Like minds meeting each other.

Goldring met with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and with the Mayor of that city as well as the Portland Bureau of Transportation later in the same day. He also met with the Neighborhood Involvement groups and then with Portland’s BEST Business Centre (our BEDC) and then First Stop Portland

“They have their share of challenges” said Goldring “but what impressed me was the way they solve their problems – and he added “they run that city with a Council of five members.”

There was one statistic that really threw Goldring and that was their election turn out. In the United States voters first register, sort of the way we get our names on the voters list except that in Ontario the names of property owners are placed on the list automatically.

In Portland there is no list that is automatically created. Your name is on the voters list because you did something to put it there. In Portland – 80% of those whose names are on that voters list turn out to vote. Goldring came close to drooling when he quoted that statistic.

It isn’t exactly the view of Burlington from the Skyway bridge.  Tgis is downtown Portland Oregon where our Mayor went to exchange views and approacheds to developing a sustainable city.

It isn’t exactly the view of Burlington from the Skyway bridge. Tgis is downtown Portland Oregon where our Mayor went to exchange views and approacheds to developing a sustainable city.

What worked most for the Mayor was the way the Portland city administration and the elected Council in Portland managed to put a “different lenses” on things that came up for discussion. “They consistently look at things differently. When a problem crops up they go out of their way to look at it differently – they would put a different lens on their camera and try to see things differently and not get trapped in older, less successful ways of resolving problems.”

Portland has 95 neighbourhoods that are very well organized, explained the Mayor. “The city is a very ‘grass roots’ community with the neighbourhoods organized into seven coalitions that are strong forces within the community and are not only heard at Council but listened to as well. The neighbourhoods are engaged.”

Portland has 2 million transit passengers that use a system that has all the technology in place to tell people when the next bus is coming – real time. There is no traffic congestion in Portland. There is a fare free zone in the downtown core. Their downtown is vibrant with a Pioneer Square that is heavily programmed by the city with an amphitheatre and a speakers corner. They have bike lanes as well as lanes for people who use roller blades.

Portland is a sustainable city which is a large part of the reason the Mayor stopped off for three days on his way back from a short vacation and a family wedding in Vancouver.

“Portland does not have the challenge that Burlington faces – which is the need to retrofit suburbia’ explained Goldring. “That city is made up of clearly defined neighbourhoods that live up to the 20 minute rule – getting to whatever you need in 20 minutes. It is also a much more diverse community 26.9% of the population is described as diverse – Burlington has some distance to go on that level.

Portland wasn’t always a healthy city. In the 70’s their downtown core was decaying badly and the neighbourhoods were not as clearly defined and didn’t have as much of a voice at city hall. Portland is a city with basically three parts. S solid downtown core with healthy neighbourhoods on either side of a river that cuts through the city. But ti works because they changed the way the approached their problems.

There was a statement in one of the Portland publications that seemed to sum up everything the Mayor brought back from his visit. Expect him to read this out frequently as he goes about the city talking to different groups.

The remarks were made by a member of one of Portland’s city commissioner’s and an announced candidate for Mayor of Portland in their 2012 election. “Other cities build landmarks to put their city on the map, Portland builds them to make life better for those who live in the city. Other cities use transit primarily to alleviate traffic congestion. Portland uses transit primarily to support neighbourhood street life.”

Had Burlington decided that landmarks didn’t do much for a city in the late 90’s, we might not have the mess that exists along the waterfront. The structure that has been approved at the bottom of Elizabeth at Lakeshore, that is now stalled because the developer hasn’t found the right hotel partner yet, was to be the “landmark” that would put the city on the map.

At a Waterfront Advisory meeting last week, committee member Michael O’Sullivan passed around a copy of a 1994 – yes 1994, seventeen years ago, newspaper article of a development that was going to transform that part of the city. So far they haven’t even begun to dig the hole in the ground. All we have is a motel that is a disgrace to look at and probably needs a visit from the health department.

Staff` at city hall talked of a Mayor who had returned from Portland “buzzed and really pumped up” over what he had seen and heard. Expect to hear more form him.

“I basically ran out of time. There were other people I would have liked to have met with but – I had to get back to Burlington.”




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He now sits in two Halls of Fame and will still blow the whistle on anyone who doesn’t get it right.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 9, 2011 – You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy, which is part of the reason Ron Foxcroft will be recognized as the Burlington Entrepreneur of the Year Thursday evening. Foxcroft tells people he lives in Aldershot – it’s where he parks his Mercedes at night.

Foxcroft will join Michael Lee Chin, Harry Voortman, Mark Chamberlain, Michael deGroote Sr., Ron Joyce and Murray Hogarth, previously recognized entrepreneurs who built their organizations from a small idea into a substantial organizations that employ hundreds of people.

Millions sold in more than 100 countries.  The Fox40, a Canadian product that dominates its market worldwide – made in Canada as well.

Millions sold in more than 100 countries. The Fox40, a Canadian product that dominates its market worldwide – made in Canada as well.

The now near legendary tale of the 1984 pre-Olympic basket ball game in Sao Paulo Brazil when the pea in the whistle he was using as referee got stuck and he wasn’t able to make a call and the fans rioted. Foxcroft, who makes decisions as fast as you can turn a dime, resolved to make a whistle without a pea in it and found a designer who would take on the task. Three years and $150,000 later ( which he didn’t have at the time) and there were two prototypes. Chuck Sheppard stuck with him and today that whistle is sold in more than 100 countries. They manufacture 40,000 of the whistles in a day

When the prototypes were ready Foxcroft and his wife Marie, who counts the cash for the company, traveled across the country to sell the whistle. Two months later – and zappo, not a single sale. “Marie told me I had the two most expensive whistles in the world – $75,000 apiece.

Foxcroft is no fool though – he knew the whistle was what the sports community needed and decided to catch the ear of the guys who would actually use the thing and attended a convention of sports referees – slipped into the hallway at two in the morning and walked around just blowing the whistle. Angry faces popped out of doors and Foxcroft had there attention and sales bean rolling in. There was no looking back after that stunt and today the whistled is used by not only sports people but by the US Coast Guard and numerous other organizations. You see the things in small water craft everywhere – legally every boat on the water is supposed to have a whistle.

It has become the whistle of choice for the world’s pro-sports leagues and minor league officials alike. Why is it called the Fox40? “I was 40 years old when the whistle was made.”

It is used by the NHL, NBA, NFL, CFL, NCAA, FIFA, and FINA. Because its effectiveness is not altered by water, it has been endorsed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Life Saving Society of Canada, American Red Cross, NATO forces, and many more organizations.

Being a basketball referee was a full time job for Ron and that allowed him to get into other businesses without needing to take an income from the companies he was building. But serving as a basketball referee meant 35 years of being away from home far too many Saturday nights. You pay a price for that kind of thing.

He bought Fluke Transportation from the Fluke brothers (actually he conned them into selling to him because he knew they wanted out of the business) and because he didn’t have any money they took back a mortgage on the rolling stock, which at the time was three trucks. He guaranteed Bobbie Fluke a job for life and was now in the transportation business where he drove the tractors, loaded the trucks and made sales calls.

Foxcroft bought the rolling stock and also bought the name of the company which he turned into one of the best known corporate logos in the business: If it’s on time, it’s a Fluke. The best sale Foxcroft ever made was on the telephone on the Friday of a holiday weekend. The caller needed 30 trucks at a location Tuesday morning, explained Foxcroft, and wondered if I had any equipment. “I asked how many trucks they needed and they said 30 and I said where do you want them.” Foxcroft didn’t have 30 trucks but he had chutzpah and he had friends in the trucking business. That call from Proctor and Gamble 30 years ago paid off – they are still a client today.

Shortly after he bought the truck fleet from Newman Steel – again with no money. “Benny Newman wanted out of the trucking business so I bought his 20 trucks and he gave me a contract to cart steel for him. The revenue from the steel hauling covered the mortgage payments.” A classical Foxcroft purchase. What made it work was his commitment to never fail and his drive to keep his customers.

Foxcroft does client relationships like few others. The art of the deal – not the slick deal but the kind of deal where the solutions aren’t all that obvious. And THAT may be why Foxcroft is gong to be honoured Thursday evening because it was Christmas Eve of 2010 that Foxcroft called together a group of people to talk about the Hamilton Tiger Cats moving to Aldershot. Foxcroft knew all the players and he was prepared to not only referee but have some skin in the game as well. Time was of the essence and so the Christmas Eve call was made and the Paletta’s, our newly minted Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and the people from the Tiger Cats gathered “right in this room – Pat Paletta sat right there”, said Foxcroft as he slapped his hand on the small boardroom table “and we ironed out the basics.”

There was a lot of skepticism about the deal at the time and the deadlines didn’t help but the idea that a massive sports complex could have been built doesn’t look as far fetched today when we see an NHL team going to Winnipeg and even the league mumbles about a second team in the GTA market. Foxcroft will tell you that it was a missed opportunity and that the decision to stay in Hamilton was a dumb business decision.

He might be impulsive but he knows what he’s doing when he lines up a shot.

He might be impulsive but he knows what he’s doing when he lines up a shot.

Foxcroft’s entry into the world of business and his ability to get faced to face with the people that run the Fortune 500 companies comes through his being a basketball referee. No one wanted him to referee anything but they did want tickets to games and that Foxcroft was able to deliver on

This is a guy who failed high school and went on to buy a business with a couple of dimes in his pocket. He is one of those self made entrepreneurs who learned to let people who know what their doing run a company – he doesn’t have to micro-manage today but you kind of know when it “hits the fan” Foxcroft is one of the first people in the room cleaning up

Foxcroft proudly tells you that the whistle was invented in Canada and is made in Canada and then asks: “How many companies can you name that dominate their field world wide, not many” he tells you. But the Fox40 dominates its field. Having a patent on the product sort of keeps others away.

Getting to where he is today was not an easy road. A driven man who knew he was on to something good – Foxcroft couldn’t keep his hands off the trucking company and he micro managed like crazy until he realized there was a problem and that it was him.

That was the day he began to very difficult transition that many entrepreneurs fail to get through –letting the dream go and allowing others with different skills take the helm. Foxcroft made the transition. He learned to hire people who “were smarter than I am and then give them the room to do what they were trained to do.”

Foxcroft was the first, last and only Canadian to referee in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA). They don’t give out work permits for Canadians anymore he tells you. What he doesn’t tell people is that in 1999 he was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Foxcroft learned that people do take advantage. “Some people mistake fairness as weakness. Good relationships, or even great relationships, can turn sour, and you must provide for it in your plans. I am very cautious, but not to the detriment of a good deal. I learned that I was a very impatient person that needed to learn not to be impulsive.”

He can sink a ball and he can chase a ball.  And if you’d like to see how he does it – pay him a visit at his Stoney Creek office where he will play a quick game with you on the small court on the ground floor.

He can sink a ball and he can chase a ball. And if you’d like to see how he does it – pay him a visit at his Stoney Creek office where he will play a quick game with you on the small court on the ground floor.

The Foxcroft group of companies use all the technology that is available to modern business organizations. “We can track everything, we know what has been sold and we know our costs down to the dime – that all part of doing business but what I regret” said Foxcroft “is that we are losing the art of communicating. Email is fine but it isn’t communicating. We need to put more emphasis on people to people communications skills.”

And that is what you can expect to hear from Ron Foxcroft when he stands before his peers at the Burlington Convention Centre and gets placed into the Burlington Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. “This ain’t about me” Foxcroft will tell you; “this is an evening to tell young entrepreneurs never to give up on the dream and to be who you are while you build great corporations.”

Today Foxcroft is still impulsive – but cautiously impulsive. He will jump into an idea if he thinks it has a chance – if an attempt to bring the Tiger Cats to Aldershot wasn’t impulsive then nothing is. He runs Foxcroft International, the whistle business from an office in Stoney creek; Foxcroft Capital is run out of an office in east Burlington and Fluke Transportation out of an office in Hamilton.

Ask Foxcroft why he still pushes and why he even bothered to get into business and he will tell you openly: “It was hunger and fear.” The days of fear and hunger are gone but for Foxcroft it’s the challenge and “I’m having fun. The day I stop having fun, someone else will be at this desk”. Sounds like a pretty good exit strategy but don’t expect that to happen tomorrow.




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