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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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-city-hs

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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.

netflix-streaming-3-1500x1000

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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-with-buses

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, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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-with-buses

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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 thecentre.on.ca/SkilledTrades/GetInGear/

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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.

www.communitycarshare.ca

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

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-strong

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.

pearson-nursery-playgropund-full

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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Part 1 of a series: Schools to be closed - Director's conclusions.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education sent a 40 page report to the trustees he report to and included 18 appendices with it.

It is a document that is not going to keep everyone happy.

The basic recommendation is to:

Bateman - crowd sceneClose: Robert Bateman High School to be closed June 2019 and students re-directed to Nelson High School and M.M. Robinson High School.

The International Baccalaureate Program to transfer from Robert Bateman High School to Burlington Central High School, effective September 2019.

 

 

pearson-high-school-signClose: Lester B. Pearson High School to be closed June 2018 and the students re-directed to M.M. Robinson High School commencing September 2018.

French Immersion program to be moved from Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School as of September 2018, beginning with the Grade 9 program.

Students from the “Evergreen” community (currently undeveloped) will be directed to M.M. Robinson High School.

There’s a one-page exec summary, 40-ish pages to the report and 18 appendices of varying length. It comes in at well over 200 pages.

The Gazette is going to break the report out into sections and report on each.

Bateman closing rationale

Pearson closing rationale

The selling of Board of Education property

The financial implications.

The bigger picture

We start with Miller’s conclusion:

The Burlington secondary Program and Accommodation Review (PAR) has been a challenging situation for both the Halton District School Board and the communities they serve. It has been especially difficult as all of the schools impacted in this process have served their communities and students well for many, many years.

Miller prep at Central

Director of Education, Stuart Miller.

However as challenging as the process has been, and the resultant perception of its outcome, Burlington’s low enrolment in secondary schools and their projected continued decline has created challenges for the Halton District School Board in providing the same equity of opportunity for these students relative to others in the Board. The students who attend Halton District School Board secondary schools in Burlington deserve the same opportunities, both in range of courses/program offerings and in co/extra-curriculars as those in other areas of the Board.

As a consequence, the Halton District School Board of Trustees approval to initiate a PAR process was based on the two criteria of the policy that are directly related to student opportunities.

School closures in any community are a great challenge for school boards around the province. The Burlington Secondary Program and Accommodation Review is no exception and has without question resulted in many Burlington families feeling anxious and concerned with respect to their community schools and their own children who attend them. It has been especially difficult for the students who currently attend these schools as much was unknown.

However, school closures also present opportunities. The recommendations in this report will create two composite schools, one in the northwest and one in the southeast that house a variety of regional programs, and serve a wider range of students. These recommendations will allow some students in regional programs to be closer to their home, and spend less time on a bus.

Additionally, the recommendations will provide more funds, through both proceeds of disposition and reduced operational costs, to allow for facility upgrades to the remaining schools. They will allow for a geographic balance in the City of Burlington.

The recommendations will also allow for a greater number of students in most programs, but in particular the mandatory Ontario English curriculum, which will also allow for greater breadth and range of course selections. They also allow for a more flexible timetable supporting student choice. The recommendations allow for a greater number of co-curriculars and extra-curriculars, again allowing for greater student choice.

There is still an issue with the low enrolment at Aldershot High School. This will continue to be an issue, and the Halton District School Board is committed to supporting these students as it does with all others.

The location of Aldershot High School made it much more challenging to address the declining enrolment; however as with other municipalities within the Halton District School Board, the recommendation is to support one school in Burlington with low enrolment. Moreover, the school will be explored as a magnet or thematic school, which may potentially increase enrolments in the future.

The specific recommendations in this report will continue to support community schools, allow the majority of students to walk to school, will enhance program offerings, reduce course conflicts, enhance co/extra-curriculars, and most importantly continue to provide high quality instruction and support of Burlington’s secondary school students. The recommendations contained within this report are intended to improve and enhance the equity of opportunity for all Burlington secondary school students. This will allow the five remaining Burlington secondary schools to thrive as dynamic, engaging learning environments for decades to come.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Miller engaged students throughout the public process.

The students likely to have the greatest concern with respect to this report are those presently at the schools recommended to close, and who will be transitioning to a new school.

It is incumbent upon the Halton District School Board to ensure and support a smooth transition of these students. This is paramount. Funds will be made available to support both the transition and integration of these students into their new school.

For students yet to attend Robert Bateman High School and Lester B. Pearson High School, their home school will be either Nelson High School, M.M. Robinson High School or Burlington Central High School. Prior experience would indicate these students will see these schools as their home school.

There is still much work to do, not the least of which is the transition and integration of the students. This process will be tasked to a diverse committee under the supervision of a superintendent.

There is no question this has been a challenging process for the entire community of Burlington secondary students and their families. However the Halton District School Board was facing, and indeed had faced a challenge in providing equity for those very same students for the foreseeable future.

The choice was to allow a situation that deprived secondary students in Burlington the same opportunities as other students in the Halton District School Board, or to address this inequity and make a recommendation to enhance these students’ secondary school experience.

The primary focus of the Halton District School Board’s secondary schools is to prepare students for what comes after (post-secondary, career, pathways) they leave our schools. It is essential the Halton District School Board prepare our students with a broad range of pathways and program opportunities.

In the Halton District School Board’s Multi-Year Plan, the vision is “Every student will explore and enhance their potential, passions, and strengths to thrive as contributing global citizens”. The intent and spirit of this report and recommendations is to fulfill that vision for every student attending Burlington secondary schools now, and for the years ahead.

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City invites residents to help plant 2,400 trees - kick off is on the same day as the Burlington Green Clean Up Green Up.

News 100 greenBy Staff

April 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

REVISED

A close to Classic example of the left hand not talking to the right hand.

The city announced earlier today their hosting of six tree-planting events across the city in April and May.

BurlingtonGreen is the strongest advocacy group in the city. They have put Burlington on the may environmentally.

BurlingtonGreen is the strongest advocacy group in the city. They have put Burlington on the may environmentally.

Burlington Green is holding their annual Clean Up Green Up event when tens of thousands of Burlington residents take to the roads and ravines and clean up the city on the same day as the first of the six tree planting events.

Planting trees is a great initiative – but why would the city kick off this event on the same day that Burlington Green is doing its Clean Up Green Up.

The tree planting events will be held on:

Saturday, April 22, 2017
- Sherwood Forest Park, 5270 Fairview St.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
- Kerns Park, 1801 Kerns Rd.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
- Paletta Lakefront Park, 4280 Lakeshore Rd.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
- Ireland Park, 2315 Headon Rd.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
- Thorpe Park, 1140 Stephenson Dr.
Saturday, June 3, 2017 – Brant Hills Park, 2300 Duncaster Dr.

In their media release the city invites residents to be a part of adding to the urban forest through these free events by planting a total of 2,400 saplings.

All events begin at 10:30 a.m. with the exception of the planting event on May 6 at Paletta Lakefront Park, which begins at 9 a.m. No pre-registration is required but attendees are asked to register upon arrival at the event.

This event is great for families.
• Saplings are in one-gallon pots that can be easily carried to planting spots
• No experience is needed. City arborists and planting experts will show attendees what to do.

What to wear/bring:
• Check the weather and dress for the conditions. We will be outside and will plant rain or shine.
• Wear sturdy footwear – no sandals or flip-flops, please.
• Bring your own work/gardening gloves.
• Bring your own snacks and beverages, and plenty of water, especially if it’s hot.
• Bring your own shovel, if possible.
• Consider going green to the planting; walk, bike, carpool or use public transit.
• Bring your volunteer hour form if you’re a high school student looking for volunteer hours.

Burlington Green tells its side of the story:

I just saw your latest posting and wanted to let you know that not only is BurlingtonGreen  fully aware of the City’s great community tree planting events taking place this Spring but we have been actively promoting them and will be participating as well, including having a few of our volunteers joining in the fun at Sherwood Park this Saturday.  We are very happy they are hosting a tree planting event this Saturday and the City kindly consulted with us before including the April 22nd opportunity in their line up of event dates.  It will be wonderful to have people both cleaning up our communities while others plant some trees.  Those planting trees will be wrapped up around noon with plenty of time to head over to our Eco-Fair Celebration to have some fun there too.

Hope to see everyone on Saturday.  Bring some sunshine please

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Transit Advocacy group welcomes appointment of new Director for Burlington Transit

News 100 redBy Staff

April 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Bfast Transit group logoBurlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit (BFAST) welcomes today’s announcement that Sue Connor, general manager of Brampton Transit, has been appointed as Director of Burlington Transit.

She has impressive credentials and has been involved in some interesting initiatives to improve service and increase ridership in Brampton. Congratulations to both her and the city.

Under Connor’s direction, Brampton Transit introduced Züm, a rapid-transit route that features plush seats, heated shelters and laptop plugins. Last year, it became one of eight Ontario communities to participate in a trial of zero-emission, electric buses. And ridership in Brampton has risen the most of any community in the GTA over the past few years.

Connor Sue

Sue Connor, newly appointed Director of Burlington Transit.

Her new approaches will be welcome in Burlington. But her biggest challenge will be to get anything done with a city council that has been extremely hostile to transit. Brampton Transit’s $1.00 senior fares, for example, would hit a brick wall at Burlington’c city council, which recently refused to experiment with free off-peak fares for over-65s. And she’ll have a tough row to hoe in trying to restore the provincial money that council took from transit to “shave and pave” residential streets (a move premised on highly suspect long-term savings).

doug-brown-with-buses

Doug Brown of Bfast doesn’t smile that often – a Director of Transit with a proven record brings a grin to his face

“There are really big challenges ahead for transit in Burlington,” said BFAST Chair Doug Brown. “I hope the City gives her and Burlington Transit the additional resources needed to improve and grow. (Burlington spends less than one half per capita than the average of GTA municipalities on transit).”

While Brampton’s transit ridership has increased some 15% over the past three years, Burlington’s has plummeted by about the same amount. Ms. Connor will have the challenge of her career to restore Burlington’s transit system.

 

BFAST also wishes to thank Jeff Black, who brought a breath of fresh air as Burlington Transit’s Acting Director over the past few months. Jeff was open to new ideas and to meeting with transit users. We appreciated his attendance at this year’s Transit Users’ Forum and his commitment to Burlington Transit during his short tenure. We wish him well in future.

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City announces the appointment of a new Director of Burlington Transit - Sue Connor takes the wheel May 23rd.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The city claims it has found the person who is going to clear up the mess over at Burlington Transit.

In a media release the city announced that “After an extensive search and evaluation of highly qualified candidates, the City of Burlington is appointing Sue Connor as the new Director of Burlington Transit.

Let’s hope the right choice has been made – the staff over at Transit have been thirsting for a solid, experienced innovative transit leader.  Transit users would dearly like to see some innovation and consistency to the service and city hall will certainly want to see the ridership numbers climb up rather than continue the current slide.

Connor Sue

Sue Connors – newly appointed Director of Transit – she will take her fist bus out for a test run May 23rd.

Connor began her career in 1976 working for Canada Post, moving quickly through the ranks of the government agency over her 12 year career in a series of managerial posts. In 1988 she made the move to the transit industry working for Mississauga Transit in a number of positions in their Operations department and finally leading that department.

Currently, Connor is the General Manager, Transit for the City of Brampton the ninth largest city in Canada, a position she has held since 2003. Connor is currently the Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association and Chair of Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium.

Connor’s first day with Burlington Transit is May 23, 2017.

James Ridge, City Manager says he is “… delighted to have Sue as part of our team. She brings a wealth of information and experience and is coming to us at a critical time as we are in the beginning stages of our Integrated Transit Master Plan which will shape the direction of our public transit for years to come.

Ridge thanked Jeff Black for his interim leadership of the Department. “He has not just been a caretaker leader, but has initiated a range of important work, including the beginnings of the Integrated Master Transit Plan.”

The city wants to keep an eye on Black – if there is going to be a deputy director – he is your man.

Tag line - accountability

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