Helping youth and young adults transition into a changing workplace - Burlington Foundation event.

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

February 12th, 2018



Automation. The gig economy. Skyrocketing debt. Limitless social connectivity. These are just some of the challenging realities Canadian youth, parents, employers, educators and government face as we help youth and young adults transition into a changing workplace.

Burl Foundation eventThursday, March 8, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 pm at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre

Join Burlington Foundation, in partnership with RBC, for a night of timely conversation featuring renowned McMaster educator, author and Top 30 global management guru, Dr. Nick Bontis.

Nick Bontis is chair of the United Way Campaign for Burlington and Greater Hamilton. He teaches at McMaster where his mile a minute delivery dazzles his students. Bontis dazzled an Economic Development luncheon earlier this year.

Nick Bontis  teaches at McMaster where his mile a minute delivery dazzles his students.

Following his high-energy presentation, Nick will moderate a lively panel discussion with business, government, education and young adults. This vital talk will shine the light on opportunities, obstacles, collaborations and actions we have before us now, and in the future as we help young Canadians achieve personal and professional success. For when young Canadians prosper, business and community do.

Panel members include:
Eleanor McMahon; MPP Burlington, President of the Treasury Board, Minister Responsible for Digital Government
John Romano; Co-founder, Nickel Brook Brewery Co.
David Santi; Dean, Engineering Technology, Mohawk College
Roman Turchyn; Vice President, Human Resources, L3 WESCAM
Erinn Weatherbie; Co-creator of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe & Best-selling Cookbook “Made With Love”
Charlotte Zhen; Analyst, Deloitte Canada, Young Professional

Burl Foundation Talk sponsorsThis is a FREE event open to all, with voluntary non-perishable food donations being collected in support of Burlington Food Bank.

Register here.

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4.36 % tax increase in the city's operational budget.

Budget 2018 ICONBy Pepper Parr

February 1st, 2018



Council added more money for transit and sports fields maintenance to the 2018 operating budget after committee deliberations January 18th and approved an operating budget at city council on January 29th that sets the operating budget with a 4.36% increase in the tax to be collected over last year.

Circle all spendingBurlington tax increases have been hovering at the 3 to 4% annual tax increases for much of the two terms the current council has been in office.

This year the city manager had to deal with three cost increases that they should have seen coming.

The arbitration that gave the fire fighters significant increases.

$1.2 million, or an additional tax increase of 0.78 per cent for impacts from the 2014 arbitrated Fire Department settlement

The provincial decision to set a minimum wage increase.

$1 million, or an additional tax increase of 0.65 per cent for legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts (Bill 148)

The need to improve transit service.

$1.55 million, or an additional tax increase of 1.01 per cent for changes made in transit to provide operational sustainability and increased reliability of service

The pressure from these three requirements meant there weren’t going to be any business cases put forward for new services. The departments were told to look for way to cut spending – a 5% tax increase was something that had to be avoided.

The 2018 operating budget focuses on:

Infrastructure - Mainteance• Investing in infrastructure and maintenance – in accordance with the city’s Asset Management Plan, the dedicated infrastructure levy has been increased by 1.25 per cent or $1.9 million. Of the $160.1 million collected through the tax levy, $34.72 million will fund the capital program and renewing Burlington’s aging infrastructure.

• Transit and transportation – strategic investments to improve the city’s transit service, including $1.55 million for changes in transit to provide operational sustainability and to improve reliability of the service.

Community onvestments• Community investment and growth – to provide an additional investment of $320,000 to enhance the maintenance of sports fields.

Sustaiability• Financial sustainability – Burlington’s operating budget is committed to ensuring the city has competitive property taxes. Since 2011, overall tax increases in Burlington have averaged 1.9 per cent. In a comparison of property taxes in municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Burlington’s property taxes are the third-lowest for a residential single-family detached home.

There is a little creative license blended into that 1.9 % increase. It reflects the Regional and Education taxes – what matters to the people at city hall is how they determine what the city tax rate is going to be.

The increased spending on transit became necessary when a new employee with an MBA began to look at and analyze the transit spending – he discovered a number of serious problems that the city manager realized he had to act on. City hall has not been known for its commitment to transit. The problems that were brought to the surface had to be dealt with immediately.

Not to mention that the council members talk about the public having to learn to use public transit and bicycles but not putting real dollars into transit. That situation has changed.

When Burlington learned that it was going to have to come up with $60 million for the re-development of the hospital city council put a special levy in place which was shown on the tax bill. When that was put in place the indication was that this was just a one-time thing.

Good luck on that one. When the hospital levy has raised all that was needed to cover the $60 million – the levy will stay in place and be directed to bringing the infrastructure up to standard.

Councillor Sharman said at a budget meeting that Burlington went for seven years without a tax increase (that was well before he was elected to office – in his first year as a Councillor he pushed his colleagues into a 0% increase) and that we were now paying for that decision. The infrastructure was not given the resources it needed and it was time to catch up.

City of Burlington property taxes for a home assessed at $500,000 are $1,783.45. When combined with the proposed Halton Region increase and no change for education, overall property taxes for a home assessed at $500,000 are $4,074.45.


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How the 421 Brant project got to where it is - now where does it go?

background 100By Staff

January 3rd, 2018



How did the 421 Brant development get to where it is today?

The developer took a proposal to city hall, the planners talked about it and suggestions were made.

Then the Tall Building Guidelines were introduced and the developer found a way to revise a plan and convince the Planning department that it was worth recommending.  )See the Muir note on Ridge negotiating)

The letter from the developer to the Planning department set out below shows how the two sides managed to come together.

The visuals used in this article were not provided by the developer – they come from the Burlington Gazette photo data bank and are used to lighten the narrative which can be pretty boring at times.

January 12, 2017,

City of Burlington
Planning and Building Department City Hall
426 Brant Street
P.O. Box 5013
Burlington, Ontario L7R 3Z6

Delivered By Hand

Attention: Mary Lou Tanner, MCIP, RPP
Director of Planning & Building

Dear Ms. Tanner:

Subject: Official Plan & Zoning Amendment Application Redevelopment of 421 – 431 Brant Street & 2007 – 2011 James Street (“421 Brant”)
Northwest Quadrant of Brant Street & James Street City of Burlington
421 Brant St Inc.

421 Brant St Inc., the acting owner of the above noted properties (the “subject land”), is pleased to submit this application to amend the Official Plan for the City of Burlington and Zoning By-law 2020, as amended, to facilitate redevelopment and revitalization within the core of the Downtown area.

421 Brant

A development project had a lot going for it in the early stages – then the public took notice and said they didn’t want it.

Purpose of the Applications:

To permit the redevelopment of the subject land to allow high density mixed-use redevelopment within the Downtown core of the City of Burlington, official plan and zoning amendments are required.

Description of the Subject Land:

The subject land is located within the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Brant Street and James Street, immediately across the street from Burlington’s City Hall. Comprised of a total site area of approximately 0.20 hectares, the subject land fronts onto Brant Street, James Street and John Street. Several commercial buildings and operations currently exist or have existed on the subject land since the 1950’s. The subject land is

significantly under-developed for a site that is ultimately one of the most prominent and significant redevelopment sites in the Downtown area of the City of Burlington.

Project History:

421 Brant St Inc. has been assembling these lands for several years and has considered many possible redevelopment scenarios over this time. More recently, Brant St Inc. has been working with its consultant team to formalize its redevelopment proposal and bring it forward for approval. The project team includes:

Fothergill Planning and Development Inc.;
Turner Fleischer Architects Inc.;
Ferris+Associates Inc.;
S. Llewellyn and Associates;
Novus Environmental Inc.;
Paradigm Transportation Solutions Inc.;
Terraprobe Inc.; and,
AT. McLaren Limited.

Prior to submitting the requisite development applications to the City of Burlington, 421 Brant St Inc. presented a proposal to the City as part of the standard pre-submission consultation process. This proposal is generally summarized as follows:

Original Proposal:

The original proposal was designed in the absence of contemporary development standards for Burlington’s Downtown and specifically to consider expectations of the market.

Carriage Gate team

The 421 Brant project got a more than favorable response at the first public meeting. Two private sector planners and a Carriage Gate executive.

The original proposal included:

• Approximately 23,226 sq. m. of total gross floor area within a 25 storey building – representing a floor area ratio of 11.71;
• A tower floor plate size of approximately 870 sq. metres;
• Approximately 195 residential units and parking at a rate of approximately 1.1 spaces per unit and 0.1 spaces for non-residential uses respectively;
• A three storey podium with retail at grade, office space on the second floor and residential units on the third floor;
• Podium setbacks from the edge of street pavement as follows: Brant Street – approximately 4 metres; James Street – approximately 3.9 metres; and, John Street – approximately 4.5 metres;
• Promoted a strong streetscape as a result of the positive relations created by the massing of the podium and the width of the setbacks/streetscape provided;
• Tower setback from northerly property line – Minimum 12.5 metres;
• The condominium entrance and lobby area was proposed at the south corner of the site; and,
• Loading, service bays and underground parking ramps accessing John Street.

As this concept was being finalized by Turner Fleischer, the City of Burlington released new draft city-wide guidelines for tall buildings in the City of Burlington in August 2016. Tall Buildings Guidelines were approved by City Council on September 13, 2016 as interim (the “guidelines”). These guidelines include critera that are new to the City of Burlington and had not been previously implemented in most high rise developments in the City.

Through our pre-submission consultation meeting with City staff, we were advised of the City’s intent to implement the “guidelines”. In light of this dramatic change in philosophy and approach towards tall buildings and to respond to other comments received from City staff (as noted in the minutes from the pre-submission consultation meeting), 421 Brant St Inc. went back to the drawing board with its project team to investigate ways in which the new guidelines could be addressed while at the same time addressing market expectations and the economic feasibility of the project.

Further to significant additional analysis by the project team and 421 Brant St Inc., the redevelopment proposal has been significantly revised. The revisions that have been made demonstrate the will and desire of 421 Brant St Inc. to cooperate with City staff and Council to bring this project to market as quickly as possible. The revised proposal is summarized as follows:

Revised Proposal (“421 Brant”):

Nick Carnicelli

Nick Carnicelli

Dramatic modifications have been made to the project to promote compliance with development standards included in the guidelines and to respond to comments received from City staff:

• The FAR has been reduced from 11.71 to 11.24;
• To accommodate wider streetscapes around the project, as requested by City staff, the podium setbacks from the edge of street pavement have been increased as follows: Brant Street – from approximately 4 metres to approximately 6 metres; James Street – from approximately 3.9 metres to approximately 6.08 metres; and, from approximately 4.5 metres to approximately 5.87 metres on John Street.
• While the increased podium setback accommodate a significantly wider streetscape/pedestrian realm and may be visually attractive, this has resulted in the elimination of a significant amount (over 300 sq. m.) of valuable retail and office floor space;
• A three storey podium;
• Tower floor plate – reduced from 870 sq. metres to 799 sq. metres;
• Residential units sizes and dimensions have been significantly modified;
• In response to the Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines, the height of the development has been revised from 25 to 26 floors;
• In response to the modifications noted above, the total residential unit count has been reduced from 195 to 183;
• To improve and reinforce the relationship of the proposed re-development to the street and the civic open space adjacent to City Hall, a substantial cut-out has been made to the southwest corner of the building at the Brant Street and James Street intersection;

• To reinforce the significance of James Street, the entrance to and lobby of the residential component of the development has been relocated such that the main entrance is located “mid-block”; and,
• In response to City comments in respect of the visual prominence of the loading and service entrance on John Street, overhead doors have been included to screen these operational functions.

Impact of Proposed Modifications:

a) Satisfies the intent of the Official Plan and builds upon the evolving planning policy framework for the Downtown and the mobility hub;
b) General compliance with Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines;
c) Superior streetscape and relationship of the building to the public realm – promoting animation and vitality on the streets;
d) Building height and floor area ratio are suitable and appropriate for this landmark location located at a gateway to City Hall;
e) Improved relationship between the project to civic open space at both the north and south ends of City Hall;
f) No adverse wind, noise, sun light penetration or shadow impacts;
g) Enhanced access to residential condominium from the middle of the block along James Street – promotes and enhances the prominence of James Street;
h) Improved entrance to the office space from Brant Street;
i) Effective screening of loading and service facilities and functions on John Street;
j) New retail space at the corner of James and John Streets provides new and improved options for retailers and enhances the economic vitality of the area as one moves east from Brant Street;
k) Frames and compliments the view of City Hall from most directions;
I) To assist the City in its efforts to minimize the use of private motor vehicles and promote TOM standards and the use of public transit, reduced parking rates are to be implemented;
m) The underground parking garage that satisfies all City design standards;
n) Improved outdoor amenity space promoting interaction with Brant Street at multiple levels;
o) Promotes the revitalization of the Downtown Core;
p) The proposed redevelopment is compatible with neighbouring uses and activities;
q) The building architecture has been refined;
r) Mixed-use building setting a new standard for the Downtown while expanding the City’s tax base; and,
s) To improve and reinforce the relationship of the proposed re-development to the street and the civic open space adjacent to City Hall, a substantial cut-out has been made to the southwest.

Existing Planning Permissions and Amendments Required: Official Plan for the Regional Municipality of Halton:
The Official Plan for the Regional Municipality of Halton designates the subject property as being located within an “Urban Area” within the “Urban Growth Area”. This permits a range of urban uses which are to be designated in accordance with local official plans and zoning by-law. The proposal, as described, satisfies objectives for Urban Growth Centres in the Region and helps to achieve policies in the Plan promoting redevelopment and intensification of Urban Areas, and is in conformity with the Regional Official Plan. No amendments are required.

The Official Plan for the City of Burlington:

Concept 2 - looking north from Lakeshore

A visual of one of the concepts shown at a city sponsored public meeting.

Official plan policies promote and encourage the form of redevelopment that is being proposed, which achieves stated policies with respect to infill and housing intensification. At the same time, the policies are clear that consideration must be given to the issue of compatibility with existing neighbourhoods and surrounding development. The extent to which the proposal can achieve these objectives is considered in more detail in the Planning Justification Report prepared by Fothergill Planning and Development Inc. and the Urban Design Brief prepared by Bousfields.

While the proposal meets the general intent of the direction of the Official Plan, there are specific policy provisions that are required to be amended in respect of building height and permitted floor area ratio.

It must also be noted that the City of Burlington has commenced the process of undertaking a comprehensive review its Official Plan. This exercise recognizes that Downtown Burlington is one of the key areas within the City which can, and should, accommodate significant redevelopment and intensification initiatives. It is our understanding that the redevelopment proposed is consistent with the policy directions currently being considered by the City of Burlington. Therefore, the proposed amendments to the Official Plan appear to be representative of the policy framework being developed and as such do not challenge the overlying goals and objectives being promoted.

Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines:

The City of Burlington has also confirmed its new direction to promote “tall buildings” through its adoption and implementation of “Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines”. While it is recognized that these are guidelines, City Council has demonstrated its support for new development and redevelopment that satisfies these guidelines and further that these guidelines are in conformity with and are intended to reinforce and implement official plan policies for the Downtown in particular.

Zoning By-law 2020, as amended:

Zoning By-law 2020, as amended, zones the subject land DC (Downtown Core) and DC- 434 (Downtown Core – Modified). This zoning permits a mix and range of uses including an apartment building, retirement home, offices, restaurants and retail units. Special Exception Number 434 allows for a maximum height of 17 storeys and 21 metres as opposed to the standard requirement of 4 storeys and 15 metres in a DC zone and a floor area ratio of 4.5:1 as opposed to the 4:0:1 permitted in a DC zone. A zoning amendment is required to implement the Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines and the proposed redevelopment.


Aerial of 421 site

Aerial of 421 site

421 Brant St Inc. has made significant revisions to its redevelopment proposal to accommodate comments received from the City of Burlington and we are of the opinion that the proposed redevelopment represents good planning and satisfies the intent of all Provincial, Regional and City policies and guidelines while effectively promoting the evolving planning regime pursued by the City of Burlington for its Downtown Core.

Included with this Submission:

• Application fees;
• Application form;
• Architectural site plan drawings, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Shadow Analysis, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• 3d model, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Waste Management Plan, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Planning Justification Report, prepared by Fothergill Planning and Development Inc.;
• Urban Design Brief, prepared by Bousfields;
• Transportation Impact Study, Parking Study and TOM Options Report, prepared by Paradigm Transportation Solutions Inc.;
• Conceptual Landscape drawings, prepared by Ferris+Associates;
• Pedestrian Wind Assessment, prepared by Novus Environmental Inc.;
• Environmental Noise Assessment , prepared by Novus Environmental Inc.;
• Functional Servicing Report, prepared by S. Llewellyn and Associates;
• Phase 1 Environmental Report, prepared by Terraprobe Inc.;
• Environmental Screening Checklist, completed by 421 Brant ST Inc.;
• Geotechnical Engineering Report, prepared by Terraprobe Inc.; and,
• Boundary and topographic survey, prepared by A.T. McLaren.

We look forward to working with the City of Burlington on this project.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.

Yours truly,
421 Brant St Inc.

Comparing the changes that were made between the original proposal and the final submission shows the degree to which the developer was prepared to accommodate the requests from the planners.

What no one saw coming at the time was the public reaction to a 5-2 city council vote approving the project.

Related Gazette content:

Muir and Ridge talk about negotiated developments.

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Finance department tells council a tax hike of 4.19% will be needed to keep the doors open in 2018

Budget 2018 ICONBy Staff

January 2, 2018



The announcement from city hall was pretty straight forward – the review of city’s proposed 2018 operating budget will take place January 18.

Then the kicker – Proposed city tax increase of 4.19%

How much longer can Burlington smack the tax payers with property tax increases of more than 4%.
It just isn’t sustainable.

The 2018 operating budget delivers a base budget to maintain city service levels.

Operating budget - what you getOther impacts to the 2018 operating budget include:

• $1.9 million or an additional tax increase of 1.25 per cent dedicated to the renewal of city infrastructure as outlined in the Asset Management Plan.

• $1 million or an additional tax increase of 0.65 per cent for legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts (Bill 148) including increases to minimum wage.

• $1.3 million or an additional tax increase of 0.84 per cent for changes in transit to provide operational sustainability.

• $1.2 million or an additional tax increase of 0.78 per cent for impacts from the 2014 arbitrated Fire settlement.

• $320,000 or an additional tax increase of 0.21 per cent to enhance maintenance standards on city sports fields.

Capital budget 2018The total city tax increase in the proposed 2018 operating budget is 4.19 per cent. When combined with Halton Region’s proposed tax increase and no change for education, the overall tax increase is projected at 2.49 per cent or $21.03 per $100,000 of Current Value Assessment.

There is an ongoing fallacy that gets trotted out each year by Joan Ford, Director of Finance: “Despite a number of significant budget pressures like the increase to Ontario’s minimum wage effective Jan. 1, 2018, and funding needed to address operational challenges in transit, Burlington’s proposed operating budget continues to ensure our assets are renewed and maintained in a fiscally responsible manner. Since 2011, overall tax increases in Burlington have averaged 1.9 per cent. In a comparison of property taxes in municipalities in the Great Toronto Hamilton Area, Burlington’s property taxes are the third lowest for a residential single-family detached home.”

Every word of that is true – however neither Burlington’s finance department nor its city council can do a blessed thing about the demands the school board or the Region make on the pocket books of the tax payers: Burlington is asking for an increase of 4.19% – they have been asking for more than, or very, very close to 4% for the past four years.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman was tough enough in 2010 to keep the tax increase to 0.

There was a time, back in 2010, when the tax increase was zero! Councillor Sharman was the driving force behind that effort. Council did it once – they should be able to do it again. It’s called belt tightening.

Members of the public who would like to speak at the Committee of the Whole budget meeting as a delegation can register by calling 905-335-7600, ext. 7481 or visiting The deadline to register as a delegation for the Jan. 18 meeting is noon on Jan. 17, 2018.

Council approval of the proposed 2018 operating budget is scheduled for Monday, January 22, at 6:30 p.m.

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Planner made deputy city manager - Mary Lou Tanner wins the search for a deputy - this will mean changes to the planning department

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 7th, 2017



The City of Burlington announces that effective December 21, 2017; Mary Lou Tanner will assume the position of Deputy City Manager. Tanner was the successful candidate after a comprehensive internal competition.

Tanner is currently the Chief Planner and Director of the Department of City Building for the City of Burlington. Tanner has been with the city since November 2015 heading the department responsible for planning, building, by-law and culture.


Mary Lou Tanner will assume the position of Deputy City Manager.

Tanner is a well-recognized and experienced leader in municipal planning and development and is a Past President of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and a graduate of the Planning School at Queen’s University.
The Deputy City Manager role is a new position at the City of Burlington which will report to City Manager James Ridge.

Key responsibilities of the Deputy City Manager include:

• Serve as the city’s representative for all Agencies, Boards and Commissions; acting in an advisory and liaison capacity for each organization and helping plan and coordinate major capital projects.

• Being responsible for the diversity and inclusivity portfolio; ensuring a strategy is developed, and implemented across the organization for all services and programs;

• Overseeing the Project Management Office, ensuring the priorities of this office are aligned with the Strategic Plan and corporate work plans and work with the Senior Leadership team to identify and establish priorities across the organization.

A transition plan including an acting Director of City Building will be announced in the near future; however in the meantime Tanner will continue to lead the work on the completion of the city’s new Official Plan.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge on his first council meeting as city manager.

Prior to city manager James Ridge being appointed Burlington had three General Managers. One was shown the door, another retired and a third Scott Stewart took a position as deputy city manager in Guelph. Stewart was a candidate for the city manager position.
Ridge has been running the city with his office being the report to point for all the Directors.

Sometime will be needed to think through just what this small level or re-organization is going to mean to the citizens of the city.

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Finance department gives Council an Operating budget with a 4.19% increase over last year.

Budget 2018 ICONBy Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2017



Budget time.

City staff presented an Operating budget with a 4.19 % increase over last year – this will be the xx year that tax payers have seen increases in the 4% range.

Future tax

The disturbing part of this budget is the prediction going forward for increases that are wll above inflation at a time when the economy is very healthy. The line that is solid yellow is the one that tax ayers need to focus on

The proposed net tax levy for the 2018 fiscal year for the Operating budget will amount to $159,855,656. Staff propose that Council approve this amount on January 22, 2018.

Staff did a line-by-line review of the base budget and found $600,000 in savings.

James Ridge

City manager James Ridge.

The strategic review of the Operating Budget is done by a Leadership Team comprised of the City Manager, Director of Finance, Director of Human Resources. The Director of Planning and Building and the City Clerk took part as rotating member.

The following were events that impacted the Operating budget:

The estimated impact from legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts (Bill 148) of $1 million results in an additional tax increase

The annualized impact of changes made within the Transit Service to provide operational sustainability of $1.3 million results in an additional tax increase

Impacts from the 2014 arbitrated Fire settlement of $1.2 million results in an additional tax increase

The increase for the dedicated infrastructure levy of $1.9 million results in an additional tax increase

A business case to increase maintenance standards on city sports fields for $320K

Where the money gets spent

Where the money gets spent

These events plus the base budget already in place result in a total tax increase to 4.19%.

The following table provides a breakdown of the city’s tax increase.

Tax impacts from budget croppedThe cost increases put upward pressure on the budget; more money going out. The lower than anticipated assessment growth meant less money coming in. The difference between those two numbers is found in the pockets of the tax payers.

Spicer + Ridge

Former Director of Transit Mike Spicer sitting with city manager James Ridge – the facial expressions tell the story. Spicer resigned several months later.

Council learned on September 7, of the “challenges facing the department’s operations”. Those challenges are going to add s approximately $1.3 M to the proposed 2018 budget.

Municipalities are service organizations that rely heavily on human resources to deliver the range and quality of services that residents have come to expect. Human resource costs (including benefits, training, etc.) as a percentage of the City’s gross budget has changed from 50.5% in 2004 to 46.2% proposed for 2018.

Local Boards include the Burlington Public Library, Burlington Museums, Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC), Tourism Burlington and the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC). For 2018 a base budget increase of 2.0% was provided for local boards, equating to $295,910.

The city continues to make good progress on its infrastructure renewal needs as Council has provided Predictable Infrastructure Investment, in the form of a dedicated incremental infrastructure levy. The proposed budget includes a 1.25% ($1.9 million) levy as recommended in the city’s Asset Management Financing Plan.

A recent review of the Vehicle Depreciation Reserve Fund (VDRF) recommended that the annual contributions to the reserve fund be increased from 3% to 4% per annum to ensure long-term financial sustainability. This increased contribution has an incremental $32,000 ongoing impact to the operating budget.

The city revenues in 2018 will, in part come from the following increases:

• increase in registration fee and rental revenues of $181,000 to reflect increased volume of participants as well as increases to fees

• increase in Building Permit fees of $186,000 to reflect an increase in the costs to administer enforcement of the Building Code (Bill 124)

• increase in Development Application and Approval Processing (DAAP) fees of
$140,000 to reflect an increase in volume and a 2% increase in fees

• increase in parking fines of $215,000 and daily parking revenues of $150,000 to better align with historical revenue trends

• increase in Transit advertising revenues of $170,000 as a result of a new advertising contract.

How budget gets done

The process for putting a city budget together.

A tax bill doesn’t always translate into cash in the city coffers. The city budgets annually for tax write-offs based on assessment reductions or property class changes agreed to by MPAC and/or the Assessment Review Board (ARB).

Annual write-offs have traditionally been approximately $1 million. In 2017 write-offs are estimated to total $2 million due to continued processing of longstanding appeals being resolved by the ARB. These write-offs have depleted the allowance account which will require a provision to be made at year-end as part of the retained savings. The budget for write-offs has been increased by $50,000 to $1.175 million.

These growth costs and other inflationary increases have been offset by assessment growth which allows a municipality to finance increased costs without increasing taxes.

Over the past five years Burlington’s weighted assessment growth was:

2013 0.87%
2014 0.58%
2015 0.97%
2016 1.16%
2017 0.15%

Staff continue to believe a portion of this is one-time in nature.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

The first of the five tower Paradigm on Fairview will begin to be occupied in 2018 – adding to the tax roles.

There are three major projects under construction that will be at least partially completed in 2018 – with people moving in – tax get levied and assessment growth improves.

The 2017 Approved Budget included $200,000 to implement the first phase of the Enhanced Sportsfield Maintenance Strategy. Included with the 2018 budget is a business case to provide the remaining funding requirements of $320,320 and 3.2 FTE to fully implement this strategy. This business case aligns with the city’s Strategic Direction of a Healthy and Greener City. It will result in improved turf resilience and playability as well as demonstrates environmental leadership and stewardship of our natural assets.


Services the city provides.

The proposed city increase of 4.19%, for urban residential taxpayers translates into a tax increase of $21.03 for each $100,000 of residential assessment.

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Loads of federal money pouring into the city. $75 thousand for a Bus Rapid Transit study on Plains Road - what's that all about?

News 100 redBy Staff

October 24th, 2017



Where does all the money come from?

3 things - Gould with adult

Burlington MP Karina Gould with a constituent.

The federal government is pumping a lot of money into Burlington – which means our Member of Parliament is doing her job.

A new list of transit projects has been approved under the Canada-Ontario Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) agreement, which is designed to address key infrastructure priorities with a focus on repairing and upgrading existing facilities and assets.

The Government of Canada is providing Ontario with over $1.48 billion under PTIF, and will fund up to 50 per cent of the eligible project costs.

Federal dollars for transit Oct 2018

$75,000 for a Bus Rapid Transit on Plains Road – Fairview – where does that fit in?

As part of the bilateral agreement with Ontario, the following projects in 28 municipalities have now been approved for federal funding amounting to more than $202 million.


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Burlington Foundation releases 2017 Vital Signs report and a partnership with the Royal Bank that will focus on young adults as they transition into the workforce.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 16th, 2017



The Burlington Foundation shared the 2017 Vital Signs report last week.

The document is issued every two years and is seen as an important road map for where we are as a community and where the community can work together to make change happen in the areas of youth and young adults, mental health and wellness, housing, the environment and seniors.

Highlights from Vital Signs® 2017 Report part one:

Youth copy

• Connecting young people with opportunities is at the heart of building a strong and sustainable social fabric within the community. In Burlington, 16.5 per cent of the population is aged 15 to 29 years.
• Vital Signs finds that Burlington’s workforce is more highly educated than the Ontario average. Of those aged 25 to 44, 72 per cent have a post-secondary college or university education. This is good news as trends indicate that two-thirds of Canadian job openings in the coming decade will typically require post-secondary education or be in management occupations.Student debt

Mental health copy
• The number of reportable mental health-related occurrences was 1,656 in 2011 and rose to 3,102 as of 2016. This means Halton Regional Police have experienced a startling 87 per cent increase in mental health-related occurrences involving police.
• In 2016-2017, Joseph Brant Hospital’s Emergency Department had a total of 2,156 visits, an increase of 15% over 2011-2012, and 302 visits among those less than 18 years of age, which represent a 63 per cent increase over 2011-2012.Mental health

Housing copy
• Average housing prices rose from $454,627 in 2012 to $785,851 as of June 2017 – a staggering 73 per cent increase.
• 51.5 per cent of Burlingtonians live in single detached homes, 23.2 per cent in row houses or semis and 25.3 per cent live in apartments.Housing
Environment copy



• Halton Region is excelling at waste diversion – in 2015 alone, almost 57 per cent of the region’s waste from landfills was diverted. Efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle have led Halton to be ranked tenth amongst 243 Ontario locations.
• Local waters are cleaner. Hamilton Harbour has benefited from aquatic health improvements as well as improved water bird habitats. Vegetation has returned to Cootes Paradise Marsh and a multi-year habitat restoration project is being led by BurlingtonGreen in Beachway Park.environment

seniors copy
• Burlington’s senior population is growing – so much so that seniors are now our single fastest growing demographic. In the past five years alone, Burlington has seen a 18.9 per cent growth in our senior population compared to just a 1.3 per cent increase among those younger than 65.
• The wait list for long-term care housing is on the rise. Since 2013, wait lists have increased by more than 20 per cent. This means that right now, 2,616 people are on the wait list for one of 1,279 spaces. On average, only 32 spaces become available each month.seniors


Foxcroft tight face

Ron Foxcroft, Chair of the Burlington Foundation.

“Vital Signs serves two significant purposes,” says Ron Foxcroft, chair of the Burlington Foundation Board of Directors. “First, it enables Burlington Foundation to focus our leadership efforts and granting program on the most critical areas of need. Second, it’s a valuable reference tool for other local stakeholders to connect the dots between people, numbers and opportunity.”

“Vital Signs is about connecting people to numbers in ways that foster new understanding,” says Colleen Mulholland, President and CEO, Burlington Foundation. “As a community convener, the report helps guide us in our leadership role where we encourage conversation and support collaboration around pressing issues. Whether it’s championing access to mental wellness programs which continues to be a focus for us, helping seniors live more independently, or helping young people transition to the workplace ensuring a greater sense of belonging to community, we’re connecting opportunity to action.”

Due to the release schedule of the 2016 long form Census data, Vital Signs will be published in two parts. In early 2018 the Foundation will share the latest local information about Poverty, Transportation, Work, Newcomers and Inclusivity.

As part of its commitment to incorporate learnings from the Vital Signs Report, Burlington Foundation announced a one-year partnership with Royal Bank of Canada that focuses on supporting youth and young adults as they transition into the workforce. This one-year commitment will focus on bringing together leaders from diverse sectors, as well as young adults, to engage in dialogue and address the opportunities and obstacles youth face as they seek employment.

Foundation - foxcroft - Lever +

Ron Foxcroft on the left with Francine Dyksterhuis, Regional President of Southwestern Ontario, RBC and retiring Royal Bank vice president John Lever.

“As leaders within our communities, both RBC and the Burlington Foundation, have the ability to bring attention to issues impacting the Halton community through research, speaking and convening,” says Francine Dyksterhuis, Regional President of Southwestern Ontario, RBC. “Working together has never been more urgent. All sectors must join forces and mobilize efforts, energy and expertise to improve near-term employment outcomes as well as develop the evolving hard and soft skills of our young people that will be required across all sectors.”

The partnership will include an innovative educational event this winter.

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Is Netflix too big a part of our communications culture?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 15th, 2017



A couple of weeks ago Canada’s Heritage Minister, Mélanie Joly, announced the country’s new creative industries strategy.  There was more money for Canada’s creative sector but for the most part she and her announcement have largely been ignored or panned.

Melanie Joly 2

Heritage Minister, Mélanie Joly

One reason could be how she has been dealing with Netflix and internet streaming more generally. With virtually unlimited global access through the internet, Netflix and Amazon can be broadcast right into anyone’s home and not be subject to the (HST) as are the TV and cable broadcasters. And by the same token these streaming companies can escape Canada’s outdated domestic content rules.

So the government wrangled some Canadian content into Netflix by getting the US based company to invest half a billion dollars over the next five years into Canadian productions. Details are scarce as hen’s teeth, leaving the impression that this is a deal still at the concept stage. But what about the taxation issue?

NNC landingAnd what was really missing from her announcement is an indication as to how the government plans to deal with the evolution taking place with the daily news. The dailies are a dying breed as advertising revenue, circulation and employment are all in a downward spiral. And once the papers go, so too will the press associations which they support, the ones which provide front-line reporting of events upon which we should all depend.

Some broadcasters like our own CBC utilize their own staff reporters for many stories, and don’t rely solely on the Canadian press service. But broadcast news is also facing challenges, especially in the US, where the president has called what the networks report as ‘Fake News” and has threatened to pull their broadcasting licenses.

Of course he can’t really do that, given the arms length relationship between him and them, and those in that country who do manage media policy. And besides there is that constitutional first amendment. But what he has done with his bluster is erode the public’s confidence in conventional news media and create confusion about what President Trump’s people have called alternate facts.

Those alternate facts have abounded on social media, particularly given the intrusion into the US domestic social networks by the Russians. Even if we disregard those kinds of malicious and fraudulent cyber postings as transitional, there is a plethora of blogs and opinion pieces which masquerade as facts, and serve only to distort the truth.

Trump + tweets

American President’s used to hold “Fireside” chats and talk to the public. Donald Trump chooses to tweet and tweet and tweet.

Trump, is reported to only watch the Fox News TV channel, a network many mock for its misnomer of a moniker – ‘fair and balanced’. And he prefers to release his own news reports via Twitter from the peace and comfort of his inner sanctum in the White House, rather than at a news conference where reporters can clarify and ask questions. After all, he is the president.

Democracy resides on a three legged platform. Universal suffrage is one leg, the freedom to run as a candidate another. And the free communication of accurate information makes up the final support. Facts are critical, and it is fair game for opinion writers to interpret to their hearts’ content, within the bounds of reasonableness. But there is no such animal as an alternate fact.


Does Netflix dominate?

Canada has been well served by our traditional mixed media, a government owned public broadcaster provides balance to the private paper giants – and they in turn provide a check that the GBG/Radio Canada sticks to the message and doesn’t get seduced by who is providing the pay cheques. Perhaps that is why consideration of this aspect of our communications sector escaped the Heritage minister’s attention.

But even the giants are hurting and there are things a government can do help slow down the bleeding, such as greater advertising purchases. And fair taxation is just as important among the internet and other media as it is for small incorporated business owners.

That is something our negotiators need to keep in mind as they plod their way through these difficult NAFTA negotiations. After all, as the old adage goes, news is what’s in the newspapers.

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

Background links:

Turkey Talk and Rookie Ministers –     Canadian Content –     Canadian Content Updating –     Canadian Press –     Periodical Fund –     Newspaper Ask

Media Funding –     Faking News –     State of US Media –     Threat to First Amendment

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Premier gets tour of the new part of the hospital - checks up on a patient.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 10th, 2017



It was promoted as the “Official Opening” of the Joseph Brant Hospital; the television cameras were on hand with more guest chairs than one usually sees set out for this kind of event.

The Premier wasn’t on hand to turn over a cheque – the hospital has gotten all it is likely to get from the provincial government for some time.

ynne - patient was the photo op

Premier doing one of those Photo Ops – while checking in on a patient.

The Premier was there to do a tour of the new digs and to have one of those photo op conversations with a patient.

This was the first occasion we had to tour the new building – and it is very smart looking. A lot of effort went into making it look and feel like a nice place to be if you aren’t well.

People comment favourably over the view – most seeing the lake as the best side. Once you’ve seen a stretch of water what else is there to see other than a sunrise.

The view from the escarpment side are very very nice.

The corridors are wide, the colour scheme is soft, welcoming.

The rooms are large, really large.

Vandewall and McMeekin

Hospital president and CEO Eric Vandewall and MP Ted McMeekin

It is certainly a huge, huge improvement over what people had to put up with. Eric Vandewall has every reason to be proud of what he has done. Vandewall is quick to credit the team he had working with him – the job wouldn’t have been done as well as it was done without Vandewall’s leadership.

The Hospital Foundation now needs to round up a couple more million to complete the raising of the $60 million they were tasked with.

The next step for the hospital is to make itself a Centre of Excellence and show that this hospital is a lot different than what the public had to put up with.

Wynne - JBH tired looking

The Premier seemed to be a little off her mettle this morning.

Wynne JBH - tired #2

She didn’t sparkle. She seemed tired.

The Premier seemed to be a little off her mettle this morning. She didn’t sparkle. She seemed tired.

Ted McMeekin, her Loyal Servant and Subject was on hand to greet her when she walked in the new entrance.

He was joined by Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, Eleanor McMahon, Burlington MPP and Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport along with Eric Vandewall, President and CEO of the Hospital and Chair of the Hospital Board Kathryn Osborne.

The Premier was in Burlington to tour the hospital and comment on the end of another busy construction season, celebrating significant progress on many hospital, school, transit, road and bridge projects across the province.

For this she came to Burlington?

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Brown calls for an inquiry into the state of city transit service.

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 13th, 2017



The chair of Burlington for Accessible. Sustainable Transit (BFAST) says he wants an independent inquiry into the reasons for the mess the system finds itself in.

Bfast Transit group logo“ ‘Disgraceful’ is not a strong enough word to describe the extent to which Council has overseen the decay of Burlington’s transit system,” said Brown. “We need an independent inquiry as to why this has been allowed to happen.”

“Not only has the transit system been starved of funds with the result that ridership has plummeted, but it has deteriorated to the extent that the safety of its passengers and other users of our roads has been called into question,” Brown said.

“Council must be accountable for this lamentable state of affairs and must get serious about Burlington’s transit service.”


Doug Brown,chair of Bfast, knows that a well run bus service is a beautiful thing.

Brown has long questioned the information Council has received from City staff on the transit file and says he was “not surprised” to find that the facts confirmed the system is in crisis.

Brown says the City needs a transit study that’s part of Burlington’s overall transportation plan. He says Council’s penchant for robbing the transit budget and “micro-management” of the system have been primary causes of its decay.

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Shape of city's transit service gets mauled at city council meeting. Several council members say they knew nothing about it.

News 100 blueSpecial to the Gazette

September 13th,2017



Burlington Transit violated provincial laws concerning hours of work and followed unsafe maintenance practices following cutbacks made by City Council to the system’s budget, according to an explosive report by City Manager James Ridge and senior staff at the beleaguered transit agency.

Ridge, Director of Transit Sue Connor and Business Administration Manager Colm Lynn painted a picture of a system stretched beyond its limits at a meeting of Council’s Committee of the Whole Sept. 7.

Councillors expressed shock that the cutbacks for which they had voted caused such chaos at Burlington Transit and directed staff to come up with a budget that would at least stabilize the system at its meeting on Sept. 11.
Ridge told the presentation that the deterioration of the transit system occurred under the City’s mantra of “doing more with less.”

Spicer + Ridge

City manager James Ridge with Mike Spicer who at the time was the Director of Transit. Much of the damage done to the transit service took place on Spicer’s watch. The city manager does not appear to be amused.

“With every exercise [in doing more with less] there’s a line you cross where you just provide crappy [transit] service that people don’t want,” Ridge said. “And I think we passed that line some time ago.”

Among the revelations in the staff report:

• A significant number of Burlington Transit drivers worked above the maximum weekly number of hours allowed by provincial legislation without a permit. BT never applied for such a permit, even though some drivers had worked more than 60 hours per week.

• Two thirds of the time, BT’s mechanics work alone, without supervision. The system has had to cut back on preventive maintenance and has the lowest ratio of mechanics to vehicle miles of its peers. If a bus breaks down, there are no replacements available. Reliability has plummeted, and BT’s new Director and staff have used their own cars to rescue passengers stranded by breakdowns. Ridge called these “fundamental safety issues [that] have to be addressed.”

• Drivers who are classed as casual employees are working an average of more than 40 hours per week, with minimal benefits and compensation below the level of Halton’s living wage. Of these employees, the annual turnover is more than 50% because Burlington pays its transit operators less than neighbouring municipalities.

• The City provides no capital funding for transit. All capital funding, which buys replacement buses, among other things, has come from federal and provincial grants and special programs.

• Ridership has declined by 16.5% as service has become less frequent and less reliable.

Citizen call for a public inquiry of the city’s public transit service.

Councillors expressed shock that the cutbacks they supported had caused such a mess.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison has his own form of transportation. Isn’t believed to have been aboard a bus for more than a decade.

“I didn’t realize that the sky was falling as badly as it appears to be,” said Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, who supported diverting funds from the transit budget to “scrape-and-pave” projects on little-used residential streets.

Councillors voted to take money out of transit’s share of the money the city gets from the federal gas tax to fund the shave – and-pave projects.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster both expressed shock, dismay and concern over the state of the city’s transit service.

“Every budget over the last four years, we’ve talked about gas tax split and every year, I’ve asked the question ‘Do we have sufficient funds going into the … vehicle renewal fund that makes this [service] viable?’ And every year I’ve been told ‘yes’,” said Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster said she was “just as shocked as anyone” by the information from Ridge and the transit staff. But she said councilors knew that the data they had been getting in the past was “compromised and not necessarily reliable.”

Transit - unhappy customer

Citizen taking part in a transit Forum put on by Bfast vents his concern over the quality of the service to the Mayo and the Director of Transportation.

“I think there’s an extreme urgency” to address transit’s problems, said Mayor Rick Goldring, but the next budget cycle was “pretty soon.”

“But I don’t believe we should be waiting two cycles before we get the fix,” he said. “I think the sooner we can get our head around this and how we’re going to address it, the better.

“We don’t want to wait. We know we have to do something.”


Related news stories:

Transit riders get specific about service.

Politicians try to romance transit users.



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Mayor hitting the radio waves to tell the Burlington story - part of it is apparently bubble wrapped.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2019



He is in the process of becoming a media star, the “go to guy” if you want a comment on how municipalities are going to handle the demand for housing.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor’s 2015 Christmas card picture.

The Mayor was on CBC twice this week- once with Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current, where we learned that the Mayor was one of the Regional Council members who voted for a program that would have the Region paying for a large part of the cost of a back flow valve, that prevents water from your home’s sewer line from flowing back into the plumbing when there is heavy rains.   On August 4th 2014 there were heavy rains.

The Mayor told Tremonti that he as one of the Regional Council members who put his hand up and voted yes.

Unfortunately for the Mayor he was not one of the people who took advantage of that opportunity and when the city was severely flood on August 4th, 2014 he got five feet of water in his basement while his next door neighbour, who had a back flow valve was reported to have been dry.

Goldring on CBCHaving told the The Current audience (the program is broadcast nationally) the Mayor was then heard on CBC’s Metro Morning with Matt Galloway where he explained what the city manager meant when he said Burlington was not going to be able to build any more single family dwellings because the city has run out of land.

Land use in Burlington is made up of 50% rural, 34% traditional suburban housing, 11% employment lands and the 5% of the city that is not going to have any high rise structures.

The Mayor told the world that a decision was made in 2006 to protect the escarpment and not allow the creation of sub-divisions north of the Hwy 407 – Dundas roadways.

The full interview is HERE

During his conversation with Galloway the Mayor said there was a range of views on the change that is taking place in the city. He used the phrase “bubble wrapped” to describe those who did not want to see any change in the structure of the city.

Interesting interview – worth listening to. You can arrive at your own conclusions as to whether this Mayor reflects your view of your city.

Goldring tweet

In one of his tweets the Mayor appears to be telling his followers that he is going to run for mayor in 2018. Why else would he put quote marks around the word “running”

The Mayor is clearly upping his game and doing everything he can to get a bit of a leg up on the race for the Office of Mayor that will be decided in October of 2018. Expect at least two people to run against him.

Goldring selfySometime ago he wanted the citizens of the city to know that he was a transit advocate and once rode the bus to work – and posted a selfie so that people would know he was actually on the bus.

The releasing of this picture to the public is something the Mayor might have run by his communications adviser.

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Burlington Transit introduces route changes to be effective September 3rd.

News 100 greenBy Staff

August 17, 2017



Changes to a number of Burlington Transit routes will take place September 3rd, 2017

A brief summary of the changes:

Transit - unhappy customer

A transit rider gives the Mayor and Vito Talone. Director of Transportation a piece of his mind. Seniors seem to be allowed to do that.

Routes 2, 3
Routes 2 and 3 will stop at the Highway 407 carpool lot all day during weekdays (currently peak-time only).

Route 3 will provide direct southbound service to downtown; extra morning trips to the Burlington GO Station have been eliminated.

Increased connections with GO Transit, Oakville Transit and Burlington Transit routes for improved travel and better access to key shopping locations, Notre Dame, Corpus Christi and Dr. Frank J. Hayden secondary schools.

30 minute all day frequency until 9 p.m. (currently 20-minute frequency only during peak time) and changing to a 60-minute frequency in the evening until 10 p.m. (currently 30 minute frequency until 10:30 p.m.)

Routes 6, 11

Scheduling has been improved for better on-time performance.

No transfers will be needed between Routes 6 and 11 at the 407 carpool lot; 6 becomes 11 and 11 becomes 6

Route 6 midday, weekday frequency will change to 30 minute frequency from 60 minutes.

Route 6 Saturday frequency will change to 60-minute frequency from 30 minutes.


Doug Brown, the best transit critic Burlington has ever had has never seen a bus that he didn’t like. These buses get a Doug Brown smile.

Route 12

Route 12 will be rerouted to improve scheduling and on-time performance and will be relocated to Appleby Line from Sutton Drive with service in both directions. Sutton Drive will still be serviced by Route 11.

Route 12X will be removed from Itabashi Way. Itabashi will still be serviced by Route 302.

Route 25

Scheduling adjustments will be made to improve on-time performance.

Route 80

Schedule adjustments will be made for morning and afternoon peak-time partial-trips to the Burlington and Appleby GO stations.

The Gazette will wait for responses from its readership on how effective these changes are. No mention was made of asking for more transit money in the 2018 budget

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Centre for Skills Development & Training gets $1,931,884 over three years to help students become part of the middle class.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 28th, 2017



It was MP Karina Gould’s job to fill in for her Cabinet colleague The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and deliver the announcement that The Centre for Skills Development & Training (“The Centre”) in Burlington was going to be given $1,931,884 over a three year period.

Centre - Gould - Rizatto - student

From the left: Burlington MP Karina Gould, Lisa Rizatto, Centre CAO and a Get in Gear student during the funding presentation.

The funds are to be used to assist youth in determining a career path, introducing the skilled trades, building confidence and getting a paid work experience are the hallmarks of Get In Gear (GIG) – a program funded by Skills Link, part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy, and delivered by The Centre for Skills Development & Training.

Skills Link supports projects that help young people who face more barriers to employment than others develop employability skills and gain valuable job experience. This helps them in making a successful transition into the workforce or to return to school. These youth could include those who have not completed high school, those who are unemployed or underemployed, low-income single parents, Indigenous youth, young persons with disabilities, youth living in rural or remote areas, or newcomers.

In a media the federal government explained that “Developing Canada’s youth is a priority. This project is a concrete example of what we can achieve for youth by working in partnership with organizations across the country. Projects like this one can help put regular paycheques into the reach of those who need it. But more than that, they give young Canadians the chance to change their future.”

Lisa Rizatto - The Centre’s CAO,

Lisa Rizatto – The Centre’s CAO,

The Centre’s CAO, Lisa Rizatto said the “program is a solid stepping stone. The three-year funding represents a strong investment in our youth. It provides them with choices to gain valuable real-world experience and to make informed decisions to positively impact their future, which not only improves their lives but also gives life to the economy.”

The working title for the program is Getting in Gear (GiG); it is free with a limit of 15 seats per session. Participants interested in the 10-week, in-class program which is followed by a 10-week paid work placement, can call 905-333-3499 x182 to find out more about the application procedure, or visit

Get in Gear logo


Eligibility requirements for Get in Gear participants include:
· Between 17-30 years old
· Legally entitled to work in Canada
· Not attending full-time school, work or training
· Not in receipt (or never have been in receipt) of Employment Insurance benefits
· Motivated to succeed
· Looking for help to overcome difficulties finding and keeping a job

Graduates of the GIG program have many options from pursuing full-time employment to undergoing formal training such as The Centre’s pre-apprenticeship skilled trades programs. The next GIG session will run from September 25.

The Centre for Skills Development & Training is a not-for-profit incorporated affiliate of the Halton District School Board with locations in Burlington, Milton, Oakville and Mississauga. The Centre helps people at all stages of life get on a path to career success—from youth just starting out, to older workers who have been laid off; from newcomers to Canada who need to improve their workplace English, to people interested in the trades who need to build their technical skills; and from small business owners looking to hire staff, to large companies who need help developing and transitioning their workforce.

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Car share service in Burlington - they come in pet friendly versions and with a 407 transponder if you need one.

News 100 greenBy Staff

July 18th, 2017



The move is on to get you out of your car. Use a bike, take transit – try walking.

There are those who will tell you that you don’t need a car – hard to justify that in a city like Burlington. But do you need two cars? Especially if one of them sits in the GO station parking lot.  Could you share a car – more on that below.

With the city pushing for more balance in the transportation modes we use one wonders why there hasn’t been a real push to have Burlington transit experiment with different service opportunities.

Having a dial up service that lets people order up a bus that picks them up and drops them off at the GO station for a fee that has a bit of a premium on it seems so obvious to everyone we have mentioned it to – nothing that has the potential to give the public better access to transit service seems to get past the current council.

Jim Smith put forward a solid proposal for a service that would be free to seniors during the off peak hours – council found a way to ignore the advice or take a deeper look at the idea.

The private sector seems to be able to do a better job. There is an organization that is in the car share business that already has vehicles on private property in Burlington in an arrangement with a developer.

Car share

Wide range of vehicles available.

There is another developer that gave a small car to a condominium it had built – that arrangement didn’t work out but it is clear that people are looking at different options.

The car sharing business is growing – there is now a group of people, organized as a co-operative, who now have vehicles in nine Ontario cities – Burlington is one of the nine.

They have vehicles hat are pet friendly – vehicles that include a 407 transponder.  Gas is included in the share/rental with a gas card in each vehicle.

Known as community car share they offer quite a bit more than an economical car rental service. As a co-operative you become a member and can take part in choosing who the members of the board are and what the corporate policy and rate structure is going to look like.

Matthew Piggott – membership services manager is the contact point.

What impressed us was the range of the vehicle offering. If you need a small van for a couple of hours – they have one. Of course everything isn’t available all the time but at least there is one.

The co-operative organization speaks to the corporate values that drive the company.

Car share logoWorth looking into. Check it out!

There is a video with all the information you need to make a decision.

Related article:

Jim Young on seniors and transit

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Trustee Collard now begins the hard part - making the Board decision to close two schools actaully work for her constituency.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 12, 2017



The decision to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools took place just over a month ago.

Parents with children at the two schools, Lester B. Pearson and Bateman, are still recovering from the shock of the 10-1 vote that closed Bateman and the 8-3 vote that closed Pearson.

The single vote against closing Bateman was cast by trustee Amy Collard who fought valiantly for a different decision. Many are still stunned with the way things worked out.

Amy Collard HDSB trustee

Amy Collard the night that four parents showed up for the public meeting that was held to explain just what the Program Accommodation Review was all about.

Collard was devastated and still does not understand why her fellow trustees could not see the merit in the ideas she put forward.

She felt there was merit in keeping Bateman open and making it part of an arrangement that would have Bateman and Nelson linked as one school with two properties.

Collard saw this as providing a better service for the students from both schools and an opportunity to not spend the $12 million that would be needed to upgrade Nelson for the influx of Bateman students.

Collard’s task now, as she explains, is to ensure that the transition serves the students at Bateman – her job for the balance of this term of office is to hold the Board administration accountable at every possible level.

Bateman parents are fortunate to have a trustee that will go to the lengths Collard has on their behalf. While she was personally devastated with the decision – Collard has accepted it and now wants to get on with the job of serving the Bateman parents and their children.

There was a time when Collard thought she might take a shot at running for the ward 5 seat on city council, currently held by Paul Sharman, “I have abandoned that idea” said Collard. There is work to be done to ensure that the students at Bateman are cared for properly when they are forced to move to Nelson in 2020.

Collard and Miller

Amy Collard the evening it became clear to her that she had the fight of her life on her hands to persuade the Director of Education and her fellow trustees that Bateman could be kept open and should be kept open.

For Collard, the ward trustee, the task is to ensure that the Board lives up to the promises that were made and that the transition benefits the Bateman students.

Not many knew how complex the programs are at Bateman for the disadvantaged and how vital those programs are to the parents. The impact the move is going to have on those parents is hard for most people to fully appreciate. The Board staffer who explained that “it is just a program and programs can be moved” just isn’t aware of what the Community Pathways Program means to hundreds of families.

An issue that no one really wants to talk about but that is critical to the success of any merger of Bateman into Nelson is the environment at Nelson.

Nelson mascot Mar 7-17

Nelson high school has always seen itself as the school to beat. Cocky, confident and with great school spirit.

The early comments on social media about some of the Bateman students were rude, crude and totally unacceptable. Nelson’s culture is significantly different than that of Bateman. It is going to take a principal with a remarkable skill set to oversee the merger and Nelson parents prepared to ensure that the school and their children adapt.

Done poorly this merger could become a disaster.

The Community Placement Program is made up to a large degree of students who need special attention and care. Bateman had a total of 42 Educational Assistants (EA’s) to work with those emotionally disadvantaged students.

The day before our interview with Collard she attended the Bateman graduation ceremony that included a child who is severely disadvantaged from a family that has more than its share of challenges.

The child and her mother were one of the delegations. It was painful to watch the child in a wheelchair struggle to control her body movements – she spoke in short outbursts that was close to impossible to understand. The pride in Collard’s voice when she said the student who graduated wanted to be a writer was palpable.

And why not Stephen Hawking tells us what he has to say from his wheelchair.

Kelly Amos

Halton District School Board chair Kelly Amos.

Collard has served as Chair of the Board of trustees for at least one year.  She ran for that position again this year but was defeated.  She is not seen as a popular person by her colleagues – she doesn’t do the social stuff – for her being a trustee is important and she tends to take the work more seriously than the others.

That is not to suggest that the other trustees are all slackers. There are some promising newcomers; there are others that shouldn’t even be in the room and there are some that have served for some time and served well.

The Gazette does not include Oakville trustee Kelly Amos, the current chair among the latter.

A group of Bateman parents have filed a request for an Administrative Review of Board’s decision to close their schools.

The Pearson high school parents filed their report earlier this month. A copy of the report was published by the Gazette.

When asked if she was involved in the preparing of the Administrative Review request Collard explained that as a trustee she believed her job was to support the decisions made by the Board; not exactly the approach one would expect from a person who worked so hard for a different decision.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Amy Collard, on the right, is persistent and at times insistent – the probes and makes it clear that she expects informed answers to her questions.

Collard is serving her second term as the trustee for Ward 5 – she was acclaimed in both the 2010 and the 2014 elections.

She views her role through several lenses – ensuring that the promises made by Board staff are met; working with the parents to ensure that their grievances and concerns are addressed and then working with her fellow trustees to do some of the healing she feels needs to take place.

During the lengthy- nine months – process there were very few who spoke publicly for the closure of any schools. There were two – perhaps three people who spoke for the closure of Bateman; one a delegation made by a Central parent who said that keeping Central open and closing Bateman served the best interest of the city.  That was perhaps one of the most gratuitous comments heard during the whole process.

Collard AmyCollard is not popular amongst the other trustees. Being a trustee is not a popularity contest; Collard believes the trustees are there to ask hard questions and to hold the Director and his staff accountable.

One seldom hears tough questions from the other trustees – few come forward with well thought out suggestions. Photo ops are part of the job, visiting schools and being treated with dignity and respect is part of the job.

What the public seldom sees is a trustee asking – Why? They tend to take their cue from the Director of Education and for the most part have failed to understand that the public put them in place to hold that Director accountable for what he and his staff do.

During the nine month period that the PAR process was taking place the trustees chose to say very little. Most said they were collecting data and listening carefully to everything that was being said.

At the same time these same trustees spent well over an hour closely reviewing plans for a new high school that was to be built in Milton. They concerned themselves with the width of hallways, where windows would be placed – the only thing they didn’t do was try to choose the colour of the paint for the walls.

It would have been wonderful to see these same trustees take as detailed an interest in what was about to be done to Bateman, one of the most effective high school operations in the city.

Bateman parents have reported that some of the trustees did not even visit Bateman during the tours that were arranged for them. The Gazette had asked if they could take part in those tours – we were told that taking part would not be appropriate. We would have had an opportunity to see just who did show up.

While not all trustees will agree that their board is a fractured one with policies and procedures that have not served the public well, Collard thinks there is a need for some healing and an opportunity to work together in a setting that is more collegial and informal than a board room.

A retreat would be an excellent idea – the trick is going to be to get everyone to agree to attend and then to have a trained facilitator in the room to draw out the differences and moderate the discussion. Done properly it could be the smartest thing this Board of trustees does.

School board matters get relatively little media attention. Their meetings often run long – very long. They meet more frequently than Burlington’s city council and oversee a much, much larger budget.

The eleven woman who sit on the Board have been known to take part in meetings that have run into 1:00 am in the morning.

Voting by hand

Trustees voting by hand when the vote recording system had been shut down.

During the final debate on the school closing the meeting went past midnight which was when the system that records the votes electronically went off line – the trustees had to hold up their hands to vote.  Time management is a trustee issue that needs to be dealt with.

What the Board of trustees needs most is a clearer sense of purpose and mission. Despite some very impressive evidence and dozens of shortcomings in the Program Administration Review process none of the trustees questioned the process – they chose to remain mute and refusing to get involved until all the evidence was in.

But when the evidence was in – and there was a lot of it – the public saw nothing in the way of trustees asking hard questions and setting out their views on the process that in its final stage required them to make a decision.

They did have the option of directing the board staff to look at the problem in more depth and comeback with detailed recommendations in specific areas.

This is whar classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side walk outside.

This is whar classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side walk outside.

What was never made crystal clear was just how many empty high school classroom seats are there?

What was possible in the way of boundary changes to take the pressure of Hayden high school that is well above capacity which would have given Pearson a better chance at staying open?

And would the trustees explain why they voted for a decision that is going to require a $12 million spend to replicate at Nelson high school what already exists at Bateman?

Board staff said what they build will be better – for $12 million one would certainly hope so.

Trustees are elected to represent the interests of their constituents – other than Collard and to a lesser degree Grebenc, it was a dismal demonstration of elected officials serving their public.

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Canada Day transit and shuttle service

notices100x100By Staff

June 30th, 2017



Canada Day event organizers have arranged for Burlington Transit shuttle service with three pick-up points:

Haber Recreation Centre,

Mainway Recreation Centre

and the north side of Burlington GO Station.

The buses will begin at noon and run until the fireworks end.

This is great for the people in Alton – parking will be impossible downtown – take the bus – there should be plenty o parking at the Haber Centre – schools are closed.

For specific departure times and more event information, please visit the Canada Day event website.

Burlington Transit is also operating a regular Saturday service schedule on July 1, which includes late night routes 50, 51, and 52.

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Has the Planning department got more on the plates of the average citizen than they can comfortably eat?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2017



A comment from an experienced staff member of a developer doing some work in the city highlighted a concern that many have.

“There are so many concurrent planning activities going on in the City, it is quite something” said this well-placed source.

MMW with mob hubs in background

The Downtown mobility hub sits in Councillor Meed Ward’s political turf – some of the outcome of the community engagement exercises may not square with the way she thinks the city should evolve.

Quite something indeed and quite a bit more than the average person can handle.

There is an Official Plan that is being circulated.

There are mobility hub proposals that are getting a serious look – all four of them

There is a transportation study that is also going the rounds.

The Go Bold statement that came out of the planning department some time ago has turned out to be more than just a tag line added to media releases.

Centre ice - fully engaged audience

Planners are besieged with questions from a public that wants to be engaged and wants to understand the bigger picture as well.

The work has to be stressing the planning staff; it certainly has the development community watching carefully.

There are a number of development proposals that are sitting in planner’s limbo while the Planning department works on the bigger picture.

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

Is this to be the epicenter of the downtown mobility hub?

There are developers who feel they have shabbily handled who claim the planners have gone back on their word on projects that were progressing quite well – at last the developer thought so.

Add to all this are the Ontario Municipal Board hearings that relate to some of the ADI Development Group Projects. Things were never tight with the Adi people and the city – when Tariq Adi said:  “Oh yeah, absolutely. “Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, I know what’s going on here.” and added that “… what happened at Martha absolutely has something to do with this. That’s fine, that’s part of doing business. We’ll just deal with it.”

Any good will that might have existed between the city and this developer went up in smoke with not much more than bitter feelings left on the table.  Adi will want to describe the Mayor as biased and unfair – words the Gazette has heard before.

Spat between the Adi Group and the city over the Alton project.

Community meeting that had planners listening to the public.

A closer look at what the public had to say about a Downtown mobility hub

There are said to be two development options for the Downtown Mobility Hub that will be presented to the public on Wednesday evening at the meeting scheduled to take place at the Art Gallery of Burlington at 7:00 pm.

What will the city have in the way of surprises for us?

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School board trustees hear 24 delegations - fail to engage the people they were elected to represent.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2017


Revised:  This article has been revised based on information sent to us by trustee Papin

The first wave of delegations to the Halton District School Board were heard last night; twenty four people made their case for keeping different schools open.

The eleven trustees listened – three – just three asked questions. Amy Collard, perhaps the trustee with the experience needed to ask pointed questions of Board staff didn’t have much in the way of questions for any of the delegations,

Delegation May 8 HDSB

Those delegating before the trustees were in one building, those there to just listen were in another location watching the events by an internet feed.

Ward 1 and 2 trustee Leah Reynolds had a question that was more technical in nature, Trustee Oliver out of Oakville had the best question – she wanted to know more about what would be involved if Bateman were to be moved to Nelson.

Other than that, the trustees didn’t really engage with the audience. They didn’t ask any of the delegations how they might resolve the question the trustee they were faced with.

As the evening wound down one could easily get the impression that the trustee’s may have felt that they had gotten through the evening with most of the skin on their backs.

Kelly Amos

School Board trustee chair Kelly Amos

Chair Kelly Amos seemed a bit flustered when she opened the meeting and maintained a polite veneer throughout the evening, hesitant at times that the whole thing might blow up in her face.
Stuart Miller, Director of Education who is going to have to work with whatever decision the trustees make maintained a calm observant demeanor throughout the evening.

There were some excellent delegations. The trustees were given new information, some of it very relevant, but one never got the impression that anything that was said was sinking in.

It was as if there was a line drawn in the sand and each group maintained their distance on their side of the line.
The parents, especially those from Bateman, certainly made their case about the value of the programs that school runs. The Board staff have taken the position that anything Bateman has today they will have when the transition to Nelson is made. The evidence heard last night suggests that is not going to be the case.

The senior staff at Nelson are going to have to work hard at changing the attitudes of a small number of Nelson students and ensure that the welcome they give the Bateman students, if that is where they are going to end up, is genuine. There has been a tremendous amount of exceptionally negative comment made on twitter by Nelson students.

The Nelson pride that Casey Cosgrove, a Bateman student in his high school days, spoke about is going to need an attitude adjustment if the decision is made to close Bateman and march all the Bateman students along New Street to their new digs.

What Cosgrove did do was remind the trustees that they had some amazing people in the community who could and would pull together to find a solution that keeps the schools open. “These are amazing people” said Cosgrove “use them”

Cosgrove wanted the trustees to vote for option 7 – don’t close any of the schools until the real work that has yet to be done can get done to figure out what the possibilities are for making a better decision than the one staff gave the trustees,

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie – don;t close any of the schools until you have better data.

Gary Scobie, a Burlington resident who delegates often at city hall, pointed out that “Past estimates of student location into the future have not always proven correct, so it is still questionable whether it is worth the risk of losing high school properties and facilities when it will likely be impossible to place new facilities back into the existing neighbourhoods if the estimates are wrong and if demographic projections are incorrect.

“I believe that you the Trustees understand the politics of what you are being asked to vote on. You are aware of how funding works and how it doesn’t work, and how the PAR process is deeply flawed. You are in a difficult but also pivotal position to put students first.”

Scobie asked the trustees to vote for option 7b – don’t close any of the schools – not at this time.

Lisa Bull, a Bateman parent, was very pointed in her remarks when she said: “The Director’s report in front of us now dismissively suggests that the new locations for the SHSM’s and OYAPs currently located at Bateman are “to be determined” as though they are just another course you could take on-line or pick up along the way. As though moving these programs and putting them in the hands of new teachers would be without consequence.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Lisa Bull sits in the middle of a group of parents and students protesting a possible closure of their school.

“The Director couldn’t be more wrong. These programs change the course of students’ lives. And it is the availability of these programs alongside of the Essentials and Applied programming which create opportunities for success- personal and academic, efficacy, and happiness for students who might not otherwise experience such success. They should not be treated like afterthoughts.”

At this point the trustees are hearing parents advocate that the school their children attend not be closed – and they give some compelling evidence.

What the trustees are not hearing is comment on the larger picture – where is high school education going in Burlington?

Does anyone have a clear idea what may happen in the years ahead? If the senior Board staff have a vision and a deep understanding of what is really taking place – they have not communicated that to the wider community and they certainly haven’t given the trustees the data and information they need to make wise decisions.


Central made their case – and they were heard. There are other cases that are just as strong.

The Central parents made their case – take a high school out of the downtown core and you are hollowing out a significant part of the community. Board staff seem to have understood and they changed the recommendation to the trustees.

Lester B. Pearson has a strong case – which was put forward rather well by Rory Nisan and Fiona Wielhouwer.


The nursery at Lester B. Pearson has a long historical relationship with the city that funds part of that operation. A delegation argued that some of the assets don’t belong to the board.

Were they heard? Wielhouwer’s delegation raised some critical questions related to the city’s involvement at Pearson – none of the trustees followed up. Richelle Papin, the trustee for Pearson said she didn’t get the copy of the delegation that Wielhouwer said was sent.

Addition: Papin said in a comment that she “I did get a copy of Fiona Wielhouwer’s delegation report by email on Sunday night. What wasn’t clear was who was to share the report with the other trustees. Normally, any delegation report goes through the director’s office. I assumed a copy would be sent to the director’s office. At any rate, a copy was shared with all trustees last night.”

If the parents of this city feel that the trustees they elected are going to do the really hard work that has to be done to resolve the problems – they may want to get ready for a bruising disappointment.

The public didn’t see much in the way of trustee engagement with the audience at the Board of education meeting last night.

The Gazette will publish more detail on what the delegations had to say.

The majority of the 24 people who spoke last night have every reason to be very proud of the job they did.

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