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

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 22nd, 2017



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



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



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 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



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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How does one change the minds of city Councillors on transit spending? The only one that uses transit is the Mayor and then usually for a photo op.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2017



Bfast poster with BG logo

The third annual Bfast Forum had its highest attendance ever. Just the one city Councillor plus the Mayor bothered to attend.

The Gazette met with Collin Gribbons and Doug Brown to talk about what got achieved during the Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (Bfast) event recently.

The event was the third Open Forum held on transit and recorded the highest attendance ever. “But have they gotten anything done” asked one commentator.

Good question and both Brown and Gribbons had much to say.

“First” said Brown, “is that the transit people were in the room. We have never been able to get them into the room and say something to the audience.”

The issue about transit has always been about funding – more money has to be put into transit to increase the level of service; to add additional services and to begin to come to the realization that transit is a serious part of every urban city, said Brown.

Everyone thinks that means adding to the tax base explained Brown. There is all kinds of money going into transportation and road maintenance. We have situations said Brown where some maintenance work is being done on a cul de sac that gets less traffic than my driveway.

Transit service - ridership decline

Ridership has fallen – due, according to Doug Brown, to the changes in the schedules and the level of service. Anyone attending the April Form on transit would have needed two hours to get from the north east part of the city to the library on New Street where the event was held,

Transit funding - Burlington lags chart

Burlington has not adequately funded transit for close to a decade.

Transit funding - comparative

On almost every metric Burlington fails.

Burlington has been  consistent in always being lower than comparative municipalities in terms of how much it sends on transit.

Doug Brown has tried his best to explain to city council how much damage they do to transit when they change schedules or kill a transit route.  It takes years for people to return to a service that gets arbitrarily changed.

What irks the Bfast people the most is that city council talks of modal splits and includes transit in that split but then fails to fund it adequately.

When given an opportunity to try to some changes on a pilot basis – city council finds a way to get out of trying anything different.

Advocating fr better transit is a disappointing task – that the Bfast people keep at it is a testament to their tenacity.  These people are volunteers – many of them know more about transit than people at city hall – yet they continually  fail to get the hearing they deserve.

There has been a small improvement – the city manager is now at least meeting with them.

The city does maintain an asset status system that sets out the condition of every street in the city including when it is due to have some work done on it.

It is that list which is used to determine how far behind the city is in keeping the roads up to a pre-determined standard. City council just has to give the Director of Transportation a Staff Direction – cut back on road maintenance by a specific percentage because we are moving those dollars into transit.

It is really that simple.

Transit report card 2017Transit report cardWhat isn’t as simple if finding the political will to do that. Phone calls to a Councillor from a large house in that cul de sac has more weight than a call from a single parents who has trouble getting to work because the bus schedule was changed.

Gribbens Collin A Bfast

Collin Gribbons, a Toronto transplant who was stunned when he found that he really couldn’t get around the city without a car. That’s not part of the story the city tells when they use the tag line: Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive in all their media releases. They seem to believe that if they say it often enough it will become true.

Bfast as a grass roots organization has grown. Collin Gribbons, a Toronto transplant who used public transit everywhere he went in that city, was a little stunned when he realized how limited public transit is in Burlington. He got involved in Bfast.

His background is in communications within the union sector – work he said he can do from almost anywhere. He moved to Burlington with his family to be closer to his wife’s Mother.

The Gribbons approach to community organizing is to create coalitions that can collaborate to achieve an objective.

The car drivers have a voice – listen to the complaints about the road diet that is being played around with on New Street Gribbons suggested.

His approach is to create coalitions of people who don’t have a voice and join them together to take a case forward to city council – that is where the change is going to get made.

Doug Brown has been toiling away at doing just that for years. When Bfast was formed they began to invite speakers to Burlington to talk about transit issues. “We were never able to get anyone from city hall or the transit service to attend these events. It was almost as if they didn’t want to hear ideas from leading transit thinkers, said Brown.

He will have some difficulty pulling the Burlington city council into that circle where they coordinate and collaborate.

Bfast Transit group logoIf Gribbons is right and he can succeed in creating a coalition that is large enough to offset the impact of those who believe that God gave them the right to drive their cars to wherever they want to go the Bfast people might manage to bring about some change in the way transit is funded.

The city -will spend $24,785,000 on roads in 2017 – the budget for 2018 is projected at $32,065,000 and in 2019 they want to pump $45,428,000 into roads. Council consistently argues that they are years behind on keeping the roads up to the expected standard.

The transit people would like to see some of that roads maintenance money sent their way.  Brown thinks that about $6 million would solve a lot of the transit problems.

Burlington Transit is currently without a Director.  Jeff Black serves as the Acting Director.  He is one of the staff at transit that is worth keeping an eye on.

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Three developers doing their bit to ensure the city achieves its intensification target. We are 3/4 of the way to the 2031 target date.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 9th, 2017



According to Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward Burlington has 73% of the intensification it is going to have to take on by 2031 – which is beyond the scope of the much vaunted Strategic Plan. She seems to be saying we are already there.

Does that mean we can stop building? The developers certainly don’t think so. There are currently a number of developments taking place in the city – and not all of it is in the downtown core.

The Adi Development Group is in what looks like close to the mid-point in their Link – a rather adventurous looking set of buildings on Dundas and Sutton; cheek to jowl to Bronte Creek.

The Adi group has always had strong design; nothing beige about these people. Their buildings should take awards for the look and, except for the Martha and Lakeshore project that is mired down in Ontario Municipal Board hearings, locations.

The project on Guelph Line just north of Mainway is a fine building.

The Link will appeal to the people who like to live in buildings with a smart progressive look. No word yet on just where the project is in terms of sales. But the cranes are in place and the building is rising floor by floor.

Link2 sutton side

Link2 – seen from the corner of Sutton and Dundas.

Link2 Dundas side BEST

Link – seen from Dundas Street. The eastern side of the project borders on a path that runs along the side of Bronte Creek.

The development does have some OMB history attached to it.

If the information on the ADI Development web site is accurate this project is very close to be sold out.  The offered 1 BED, 1 BED + DEN, 2 BED, 2 BED + DEN, 3 BED + DEN and 4 BED + DEN.

Not much of anything left but developers may play the game the big show entertainers play when they announce that a new block of whatever they are selling has been released.  The development business calls for a lot of cash up front – they do what they have to do to manage the demand for their product and keep the prices where they want them to be.

As scrappy as they can be on matters regulatory and legal – no one can take away from them the design flare they have shown.  The are brash, direct and know where they want to go – and are in the process of creating a brand that will signify value and a certain flare.

Linx2 will have 154 units and is scheduled to open Fall of this year.  That could actually happen.

The Molinaro Paradigm project on Fairview is in the process of changing the city’s sky line. Tower A has reached its full height with just the mechanical that will sit on the roof to be completed. Towers B and C are under construction.

Paradigm April 2017

Tower A of the Paradigm project has reached its peak while Tower B and Tower C to the east begin their climb to 21 and 19 storey heights.

Paradigm - A B C across the back April 2017

Towers B and C of the Paradigm project on Fairview next to the GO station and across a parking lot from Walmart.



It is a large site that will eventually consist of five buildings.

In the downtown core the Carriage Gate people are close to the bedrock level they need for the three levels of underground parking.  The condominium will  be a combination of a 3 storey stone and precast podium that will accommodate a select group of upscale retail establishments at ground level and professional offices on levels two and three.  Atop the podium there will be a 17-storey glass tower with condominiums.

Medica One or the Carriage Gate project - pick the name you like best - will go up at the top of John Street and consist of a medical offices building, an above ground garage and an apartment/condo complex. It will bring significant change to the intersection and drive redevelopment of the plaza to the immediate north, A transit hub a couple of blocks to the south then makes a lot of sense.

This is a three part development with a condominium tower, a parking garage and a medical center. Each has its own name. Berkeley for the condo – garage for the garage and Medica One for the medical centre. The development will get build in stages.

The project is to consist of three buildings when completed. The condominium will be the first to get built, followed by the eight level parking garage and then the eight story medical building that will border on Caroline.

Berkeley at bedrock - yellow demarcation line

The Berkeley at bedrock – bottom floor of the three levels of parking with 19 storey’s of condominiums. The yellow line at the top is the demarcation point for the condominium and where the eight level parking garage with a grass roof will be.

The project will give John Street a bit of a much needed boost in terms of what the street looks like.

Parts of the street look more like a back alley than a street that will have one of the mobility hubs at its base.

The city is going to get a chance to learn more about just what a mobility hub is and how it fits into the development of Burlington in the longer term.  The draft of the Official Plan that was released last week suggests that major development is going to be located around the four mobility hubs.

At least one developer who was coaxed into putting funds into a creative and much needed development in the east of the city got a bit of a shock when they learned that the project might not get lift off.  There are others that see the mobility hub concept at somewhat limiting.

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The politicians romance transit users - now to get them to put some real money into the service. Prospects don't look all that good at the city council level.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 3, 2017



It was the third annual Burlington for fast meeting – the audience was much the same, the issues were the same, there were fewer politicians on hand – The Mayor the MPP and one ward Councillor.

Staff from Planning, Director Mary Lou Tanner and Transportation Director Vito Tolone were on hand.

What was very different was – the transit people were in the room and they made a very positive presentation.

Vito Tolone

Director of Transportation Vito Tolone on the left with Transit supervisor Bob Mennell on the right. Mennell did a great job of telling transit users how good things were going to be in the future. Time will tell on that one. Mennell would make a very convincing member of Council.

A former transit driver and now a supervisor Bob Mennell gave a presentation that was sprinkled with shout outs to many of his former customers. He kept referring to those occasions when he “looked the other way” when someone didn’t have the full fare.

Acting Director of Transit Jeff Black did a fine job of bringing people up to date on the changes that have been made.

Aiding Doug Brown, who has carried this project on his shoulders for the past couple of years was Collin Gribbons who moved to Burlington from the Pape and Danforth part of Toronto where he could “catch a bus or a subway to anywhere. “Can’t do that in Burlington – the system just doesn’t work,” was the way he put it.

Mayor Goldring positioned himself as a transit supporter who proudly announced that he had taken the bus to the event and added that while waiting for the bus to arrive someone had pulled up and offered him a lift. The Mayor declined and then went on to tell the audience how much money the federal government was pumping into transportation. Tonnes of dollars going into the GO system.

Which was fine according to Doug Brown who added that the dollars the Mayor was talking about were for capital projects – new buses and major upgrades to the GO system.

What Burlington needs is an operational contribution to transit and that is something city council can do. They haven’t done it yet.”

Funding COB lagsFunding numbers by cityThe gas tax rebate the city gets was at one point split 30% for transit and the rest for roads maintenance is now at 20%.

The audience learned that the population of Burlington was now 183,000 souls – Regionally there are 548,000 of us – that is projected to grow to 1 million by 20141

The draft Official Plan just released talks of 15 minute service for transit.

There are even plans to upgrade the downtown bus terminal that was going to be torn down less than five years ago.

The gas tax the province pays out now total $2.1 million for the province – that’s scheduled to rise to $4.2 million.


More Handi-vans are to be part of the improvement in the fleet.

There are going to be more Handi-vans

There was just no end to the things that transit was going to get.

Mohamed had come to the mountain,

There were significant cuts to the transit budgets in 2012 and schedule changes that did serious damage to ridership.

Bfast polls the audience each year and produces a report card.

Here it is – not much to be proud about.

Transit report card

The first report card – funding, the critical element has budged.

Transit report card 2017

Some improvement. The data comes from the people who use the service.

Jeff Black said the transit people needed to hear this – true enough. Bfast has been telling them often enough – they just weren’t listening.
During an interactive voting process that allowed opinions to be put on a screen instantly we learned that just 26% of the audience took transit to the meeting – the other 74% used some other mode of transportation.

Ridership decline

The reason for the decline has been poor service, lousy funding and a change to the schedules that drove passengers away from the service.

The city own 53 buses and 10 Handi-vans that carried 1.9 million riders in 2016.

It was all mind-boggling. Almost too much to really believe.

At the meeting was coming to an end Joey Edwardh, president of Community Development Halton was given the microphone. She linked arms with the Mayor, a symbolic way to pull him into her comments about just how much more needed to be done for transit.

Transit - unhappy customer

Do you get the impression the two on the right are actually listening?

The Mayor didn’t say much – while he may have become a transit convert – he is part of a council that has yet to understand the direction the civic administration is taking.

Four of the seven Councillors just don’t have much of an appetite for transit: Craven, Dennison, Taylor and Lancaster probably have not taken a Burlington Transit bus this Council term. One wonders if they own Presto passes.

Jim Young

Jim Young

The Mayor talked about all the funding that had come in from both the federal and provincial governments – didn’t say a word about municipal funding

120 people attended the Bfast forum, a record attendance.

Jim Young, that irrepressible promoter for better transit service said: “I think we are winning, but I’ve felt that way before” and added that ”present City Staff and management are very good at absorbing and paying lip service to engagement while quietly ignoring external inputs.”

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Transit riders get a chance to be specific about their complaints over bus scheduling.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 2, 2017



After completing the report card on Burlington Transit service and listening to transit staff, the Mayor and some of the people involved in Bfast it was time for the breakout sessions where transit users got down to the specifics. What worked and what didn’t work?

Jim Young

Jim Young listening to the complaints about scheduling.

There were so many different breakout groups that they had to use additional rooms for these sub meeting.

Jim Young a passionate advocate for better use of the existing transit facilities handled the breakout table for schedules. He had a long line in front of him

Here is a summary of the scheduling comments he took in:

1. No East/West crosstown bus along the most logical Plains Fairview corridor. Old route now breaks at Maple, transfer is erratic, requires walk from stop to stop, is outdoors in winter and Mae to Appleby section winds all through lakeshore/downtown/ new street making a former 20 minute journey into a 45/50 minute trek.

2. Community Bus start/depart/arrival times at Seniors Centre are completely out of synch with program opening/start/stop and closing times. This issue also came up at the seniors breakout.

3. Saturday bus service has approx. 19 to 20 buses on the road at times and on routes where weekday service has 33 to 35 buses, how does the city expect increased ridership at half the service.

4. Driver adherence to schedules is erratic and not monitored. When questioned drivers suggest schedules are too tight and make no allowance for changing traffic conditions.

5. On many days the #5 route shuts down early with no service after suppertime. Complainant suspects there are many non-commuter, local services with the same issues making visiting family in the evening difficult if not impossible.

6. South east of the city the #50 does not go to Oakville at nights forcing a much longer journey via city bus to GO and same on return journey.

7. The #20 New Street to Burloak & Appleby GO does not service some of the residential areas that the #40B serves. The #40b only runs as a morning evening commuter service which covers much of the same route as the #20 but goes deeper into residential areas. Can something be done to look at combining these two routes with improved all day service on both?

8. There were several comment on synchronizing services at GO stations and from bus to bus when a journey requires 2 buses and transfer. Again this highlights the too tight scheduling that others mentioned previously.

Jeff Black

Acting Director of Transit Jeff Black

This is something the Gazette will return to in three or four months and learn how the transit people have responded.  It must be said that the transit people who did the presentation were keen and where there to tell their story and listen.

Transit is currently led by Jeff Black as Acting Director of Transit.  The city manager might want to think about taking th “Acting” off that title.

We heard a transit staff that was “stoked”, “pumped” and wanting to do a better job.  Perhaps all they needed was better leadership

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Failed schools: The challenge now is for citizens who’s neighbourhood schools face closure, to transition from protest to vision.

opinionandcommentBy James Smith

April 2, 2017



The next few months will be difficult for many Burlington parents and students as the Public Board decides the future of several schools. This issue is hardly new to Burlington or Halton, the phenomenon of is being played out throughout Ontario, Canada and North America. For example, Hamilton has closed 14 schools since 2003. Shifting demographics call for creative solutions. Some change is coming to Burlington Schools, what that change will look like is far from determined at this point.

Old school

While Burlington’s high schools are not quite this old – these old country schools have disappeared and been re-purposed.

In the past, boards have taken the relatively easy route (if closing a school and the ensuring protests they cause can be called easy) when a school is determined to be redundant; they have applied to municipality for re-zoning, then sell the land to the highest bidder. South East Burlington in 1987, when we moved there, had two separate schools, one high school and five public schools within walking distance. Soon both Elizabeth Gardens and Breckon Schools were closed and St Patrick School, the school our kids attended, hung on by its fingernails. At one point only having 75 students!

Having fought hard to keep our local school, I understand what parents are now going through in their attempt to keep a local school. In our case we had a little bit of luck on our side, many of the original empty-nester home owners were selling to families with a couple of kids, so more children were moving into the neighbourhood. More importantly, the former Shell refinery lands west of Burloak, north of New Street meant expanded enrollment significantly. Neither new development nor is intensification is likely going to be an answer to expand enrollment for the schools at risk. The challenge now is for citizens who’s neighbourhood schools face closure, to transition from protest to vision.

Once the decision to close a school has been made, the challenge is to question some deeply held preconceptions; no easy task. The first preconception parents especially need to rid themselves of is the myth of the local school, especially when it comes to a high schools. Local schools, the kind that parents will often define as those as “within walking distance” are more and more not places children walk to. Sure some kids walk, but a significant number of children of all ages are now chauffeured to and from school. One just has to look at the infrastructure put in place to accommodate the pick-up delivery of children in cars. Passing by a school at opening or dismissal, makes one pine to be at the Mall the last weekend before Christmas by contrast. How do local traffic jams add to a community?

Many will talk about the loss of so called open space. Schools often have rather than open space something more akin to a green deserts surrounding the school building. Rarely used manicured lawns, a landscape design element left over from the plan books of Victorian through post war planners that serves little or no purpose; we’re just used to having them. We are used to seeing these areas with nothing there, so we want to keep these green dead zones. The green deserts surrounding all schools, but especially those to be closed, are resources that presently goes wasted. Overcoming these and other preconceptions and understanding the opportunity in school closures is a big and difficult first step. I have no illusion this will be an easy process to undertake, but citizens need to be ready to embrace this change, even reluctantly.

Once the decision has been made to close a school; who best to plan and execute the redevelopment? As stated the old model was a quick rezoning to Single Family Residential, and sell twenty or 30 residential lots to the highest bidder. While the “take the money and run” approach has served the board in the past, times have changed. Given the time and effort of those who have participated in the PARC exercise have demonstrated, and the controversial nature of the decision to close schools, the Board owe the communities and the city a more inclusive re-visioning exercise.

The board of education, by ownership and necessity must be a partner in the process, and realize most of the financial return, but the lead should be taken by the city of Burlington as the city will have to manage the results of the process. I’m rarely a proponent of the 3P model, but in this case I feel a public private partnership is the best way to maximize the return to the board and the city in developing these assets.

Did I say the city? By the city I don’t mean the politicians nor the planning department. As professional and well meaning as city planners may be, this exercise should be taken up by an outside urban planning firm who doesn’t develop and plan track housing. Preclude those firms with a history of developing planning with, and for, the city of Burlington should also be a condition. In other words, an open competition rather than one from the usual suspects. One consideration would be to fund a competition where three semi finalist firms are paid to work-up general, order of magnitude proposals. This way citizens can wade in on what firm’s vision is in the best interest of the the city at large.

In such a process the city’s role should be limited to setting the general goals and parameters. These guidelines should be as loose as possible to allow the bidding firms as much creative leeway as possible. By awaiting proposals from the winning planning firm prior to changing the zoning of former school property, the city can avoid the mistake of regulation that limits development of a novel proposal. Interesting creative uses shouldn’t be precluded from the beginning due to zoning constraints. Plan, then zone. Part of any redevelopment should include re-purposing some or all of the existing school buildings wherever practical, and the development of the site of community amenity assets should be based on input from the neighbours and citizens in general

Many people find the idea of giving up on what they see as “their school” surrender. Many will feel at this point surrender is premature. Change is likely coming. The best way to prepare for change is to start considering and examine one’s prejudices and to start to imagine what the second best alternative might be. Burlington might be a better place as a result of this kind of exercise.

James Smith is a  is a former resident of Burlington and is a contract Designer, who includes Phillip H Carter Architect and Planning as one of his clients.


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Seniors organization has loads of money but no mission, no direction and badly in need of some lessons on participatory democracy.

seniorsBy Jim Young

March 29th, 2017


I attended the “Getting to Know You” session for Burlington Seniors Community Incorporated (BSCInc.) on Tuesday at Central Library. For those of you who do not know, BSCInc was, until recently, the organization that helped run some parts of Burlington Seniors Centre. They and the city parted company last year.

The Bistro, the heart of the Seniors'entre and the focal point for many of the administrative problems. The new agreement with the city didn't resolve this problem but they have agreed to give it a year to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

The Bistro, the heart of the Seniors’ Centre and the focal point for many of the administrative problems.

Their separation from the city has left BSCInc with a lot of time on their hands, a lot of money, apparently, and in search of something to do with both. Their experience in running the Bistro and the Events Programs at Seniors Centre has given BSCInc lots of organising skills and some really good ideas but a lot of residual bad blood between Seniors Centre Members, former Seniors Centre Committee Members, City Recreation Staffs and the newly reincarnated BSCInc still exists as was obvious at the end of Monday’s meeting .

Essentially BSCInc is an incorporated company with a big bag of cash left over from their Seniors Centre days, some good ideas on promoting seniors issues but sadly with so much baggage from the fallout with the Seniors Centre it may be difficult for them to recover the trust of a large number of seniors in a way that will let them carry out their big plans.

The first half of Monday’s meeting went reasonably well as various BSCInc committee members outlined plans for their new seniors’ advocacy group. A more experience eye might have foreseen the coming debacle at the end over voting rights and the BSCInc balance sheet. The qualifications for voting suggest that only BSCInc committee and former committee get real votes. Some volunteers will be eligible for voting rights but only after a six month qualifying period which will be well beyond the next AGM.

There is nothing fancy about the place. It's simple, serves the purpose with a bus stop almost outside the door and plenty of parking. And the kitchen will rustle you up a sandwich if you're hungry. The Seniors like it the way it is.

There is nothing fancy about the place. It’s simple, serves the purpose with a bus stop almost outside the door and plenty of parking. The city abruptly took over running the Bistro and programming when there were staffing problems.

That left many questioning the openness or democratic nature of the organization. The subject of finances was only vaguely hinted at with a promise to reveal all at the AGM in the fall. The amount BSCInc inherited from their Seniors Centre departure is rumoured to be between $180,000.00 and $200,000.00 but we will not know how much or its purpose until the AGM. This vagueness did not sit well with many of the audience.

This was the elephant in the room that consumed almost all of the question and answer period. The fuzziness of BSCInc answers did nothing to ameliorate the anger felt by some Seniors Centre Members and former Seniors Committee Volunteers. The meeting ended in disarray when, unable to continue fielding questions with non-answers, the Chairman, Fred Hendriks abandoned question time and adjourned the meeting.

It is entirely possible that the money and the plans for its use are in good hands and intended for good works; but unless BSCInc can be more forthcoming about why the break-up with the city occurred, how much money there actually is, where it came from, how they intend to use it and how open and democratic they will be in electing the guardians of that money, I fear they will find it difficult to regain the trust of many seniors groups.

At the end of the day, BSCInc is an incorporated entity with no legal obligation to open their books or their membership and voting criteria to the public. But unless they do so, and do so soon, many Burlington Seniors will continue to have reservations about the group.

Meanwhile Burlington Seniors Centre continues to flourish, The Bistro still sells great lunches and the vast majority of seniors living in Burlington are blissfully unaware that BSCInc exists, why it does or who they are supposed to represent. The answers rest with them.

Jim YoungJim Young is an Aldershot resident who is passionate about the rights of the people being recognized and the man with some of the best ideas on better transit for seniors than most people in th city.  He is an occasional opinion writer for the Gazette.

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Third annual conferene on transit to be held April 1st - hopefully the date does not perpetuate the joke that transit has been in the city for the past ten yars.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 14th, 2017



Bfast, Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit, perhaps the most effective citizens voice in the city, has been holding annual events that review the state of public transit and gives people an opportunity to voice their views – and voice them they do.

April 1st Bfast will be holding their third conference in what is billed as a Transit Users’ Forum will grade the performance of the system through the second annual transit report card.

Bfast poster with BG logoUser voting will determine the results of this year’s report card, an initiative that was promised several years ago at city council but never implemented.

Burlington Transit staff are slated to make a presentation to the forum on the upcoming Integrated Mobility Plan that will help guide the direction of the system. Using interactive technology, staff will conduct an instant poll of transit users that will help shape the conclusions of the study, mandated in December by Burlington’s city council.

Spicer + Ridge

City manager James Ridge on the right with the former Director of Transit listening intently.

Transit staff were missing in action during the first conference; the city manager attended the second conference with the Director of Transit sitting beside him. Several months later the then Director of Transit departed for an easier working climate.

“Burlington Transit is reaching out to its users, and we are more than pleased that the opinions of the people who use the system will be a part of the Integrated Mobility Plan,” said Doug Brown, chair of Burlington for Accessible, Sustainable Transit (BFAST). “We find it very encouraging that the staff of Burlington Transit want to engage users in the process of establishing a system that will better serve our community.

Transit - seniors with Gould

Seniors discussing what transit hasn’t been doing for them – the third annual conference will give them an opportunity to comment directly to transit staff who will be attending.

“For too long, transit users have lived with continuing cutbacks which have hurt our city. We welcome the opening of a dialogue about the growth of transit, the major component of a greener transportation system in Burlington.”

BFAST is taking the lead in organizing the forum, which has thus far been endorsed by 10 community organizations, including:

· Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council,
· The Burlington Gazette,
· Burlington Green,
· Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee,
· Canadian Federation of University Women Burlington,
· Community Development Halton,
· Halton Environmental Network,
· Poverty Free Halton, and
· Voices for Change Halton.

As in the past, users will have the opportunity to discuss system-related topics in detail in smaller breakout groups that will cover the needs of seniors, commuters, the disabled, underserved northeast Burlington and the system in general.

Organizers are looking forward to another large turnout for the meeting, which begins at 10:00 am April 1 at the Burlington Central Library. Last year, nearly 100 people attended the forum. Doors will open at 9:30, when a free continental breakfast will be offered.

Mayor Rick Goldring addressed last year’s forum and has been invited to do so again. Will he take the bus to the event?

Members of city council and area MPs and MPPs have also been invited.

The conference will wrap up at 12:30.

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2641 names on a petition to kill the idea of bike lanes on New Street

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2017



The New Street road diet is one of those stories that just does not want to go away.

Each day we see new information dribble in while two woman continue to collect names for their on-line petition that now has 2141 names plus 500 signatures on a paper based petition.

The petition is at:

Ruth Langdon, one of the two retired teachers behind the online petition, said one of her concerns is that this road diet will be continued onto Burloak Drive.

Do you measure

The idea was to share the road – motorists were taught to respect the signals painted on the road.

“The plan seems to already be completed for bike lanes on New Street from Guelph Line to Burloak Drive.” She adds that she believes “the city has started working on a road diet for Maple Avenue from Lakeshore Road to just south of Mapleview Mall – pilot project for next spring.

“And that they have started working on a road diet for Lakeshore Road from water treatment plant to Eastport Drive. Are these really pilot projects or done deals?

One of the problems is the city hasn’t provided the level of information people need.

New Street bike lanes - long pic

The city did hold an information night at Robert Bateman high school with a number of impressive aerial photographs that set out what city staff thought was possible in terms of a road diet. There were almost as many photographs as there were people.

The city did hold a public meeting at Bateman high school where they had impressive drawings laid out showing some of the options that were being considered for New Street. The meeting was poorly attended.

This all began when the Regional government announced they were going to upgrade the water mains along New Street – which meant re-paving the road. The work between Martha and Guelph line was done last summer.

The balance of the water main work, from Guelph Line to Burloak was to be done at a later date. The city has a commitment to a better modal split between cars, transit, cycling and walking and saw this as an opportunity to put dedicated bike lanes in just a portion of New Street and measure data they would collect. Were cycling accidents reduced? Was traffic relay slowed down? What differences in the flow of traffic were observed?

The cycling lanes on that part of Lakeshore Road that begins at Maple and runs along the edge of the lake to Eastport is a part of the redevelopment of the Beachway Park.

Cycling lanes on Maple was not much more than a thought.

The city did a very poor job of getting the long range story out to a public that was concerned about traffic congestion.

New street north side at Bateman Hs

Many think that if there is going to be a cycle lane it could be on the median between the sidewalk and the road. One staff engineer told the Gazette one of the reasons for the medians was for possible bike lanes.

Members of council who voted for the New Street road diet (all did except for Councillor Sharman) didn’t do much better. There is a confused public out there – they want answers and they aren’t getting them.

The New Street plan was to be a one year pilot project that got off to a poor start and didn’t get any better as the public began to learn more about the plans.

The understanding is that in a Phase 2 the city will look at physical separation between the bike lanes and vehicle lane – cement barriers

Ruth Langdon wants to know if barriers are going to be put in to protect cyclists from traffic whizzing by at 60km – how much will barriers cost? Will they be removed in winter, if so how much will that cost? If not removed how will plows work around them? Where will the bus stop, how will handicap vans function? How do they sweep debris from the curb lanes, do they need to buy another machine for that?

All reasonable questions – just no answers.

Langdon has arrived at the conclusion that “intensification plus implementation of bike lanes = more congestion.”

Alternatives to putting bike lanes on main roads is to improve existing bike paths(multiuse) and , pavement beside sidewalk-boulevards.

Chris Ariens, an avid cyclist and a member of the city’s Cycling Advisory committee said he wonders how many people on the on-line petition are non-residents. He said he had heard in conversation that some of the petition comments were from non-residents, but can’t say how many. He said he did read the petition a couple of weeks ago. “No indication of how many were from neighbouring municipalities but I did see Philip Waggett’s name there 3 times.

Ariens added that: “I understand that many people are upset about the situation, and there is a feeling of there being nothing in it for the 1/3 of the public who have zero interest in cycling and focused on getting where they need to go quickly.

“The payoff for them is many years away, which explains some of the negative feeling towards the project. The road diet is mainly a scapegoat for the larger issue of congestion – particularly on the QEW / 403 that plagues our city’s commuting experience.

What's wrong with this picture?

Is the New Street road diet a scapegoat for the larger issue of congestion – particularly on the QEW / 403 that plagues our city’s commuting experience asks a Gazette reader.

“That congestion is the root cause, which providing more convenient multi-modal options should help address in the long run. That is why the data from this project is so important. But we can’t ignore the feelings either, because as we have seen, it is feelings that drive action at the ballot box, not data.

Ariens has said previously that he isn’t committed to bike lanes on New Street – he just wants to see data that supports any decision made.

The public does get bits and pieces of information from Dan Ozimkovic, Transportation Planning Technologist through his online communications. Nothing with any consistent detail from the city which is causing much of the angst. There is a sort of ‘if they aren’t telling us – then there is something wrong’ attitude prevailing.

Ozimkovic is pretty clear when he says: “The new street bike lanes are absolutely not a done deal, it will depend on if there is a reduction in accidents in that stretch and not a significant increase in travel times, all of which will be reported on.

Bike lanes - New street

Existing traffic lane set up on the left. Pattern during th road diet for New Street. The drawing suggests there is some form of barrier between the cars and the cyclists – there isn’t – at least not during the trial phase.

Ozimkovic is as strong with his words when he tells a resident that “I can guarantee you that New Street isn’t a done deal. This is a pilot project and staff will write a report to Council Fall 2017.

This report will include all of the feedback received regarding this pilot project as well as the traffic data that we collected prior to the start of this pilot project and during the pilot project.

In another email to a resident Ozimkovic reports that: “We have 3 months’ worth of data. You are absolutely correct, we aren’t able to collect any data now for the reasons you stated below (less sunlight to power the batteries that run the data collection equipment) but we will start collecting data once again as soon as the nice weather rolls around. From that point, we will collect data until the end of this pilot project.

“We recorded close to 53,000 travel time trips. This includes prior to pilot project and during the pilot project. We recorded these trips using the Bluetooth technology. The only other way to record travel time trips is by going out there with a stop watch and driving on New Street. We would never be able to get that sample size if we chose to record travel times that way.

Ozimkovic reports that all of this info is available on our project website –

Eva Amos, the other retired teacher who organized the on-line and the paper based petitions with Ruth Langdon asks: “Why not reverse this decision now based on 2141 signatures on an online petition opposing the New Street Diet, plus 500 signatures on a hard copy of the petition, add the many comments councillors have received directly from residents?

“Drivers do not feel safer, cyclists tell us repeatedly they will never ride their bikes in these bike lanes. They prefer Spruce Avenue, Lakeshore Rd or the Centennial Path. Residents on the feeder streets say traffic and speed have increased on these once quiet residential streets.

“The short merge lane is a major concern. Emissions from idling cars now sitting in the backlog at Walkers and New Street at peak times is also a concern. Trying to get onto New Street from Pinecove especially is a problem.

“At the beginning of this diet we were told data was being collected by the city transportation Dept and we could get updates there. Trouble is, this data has never been updated. The technology being used cannot collect data now in the winter months, the days are too short and the batteries are not charging properly. Data will again be collected once the nicer weather is upon us. So at best we will have data for a portion of this trial and none in winter?

“I also have trouble with the technology being used. It may be the best we have at capturing most cars but it does not capture every car. How many are missed. We have no way of knowing. As I understand it, a mobile device has to be turned on in the car in order for it to be captured and counted. I for one drive with my phone on. My husband turns his off when in the car, as does my neighbour.

New Street traffic data Jan 23-17

Time to travel between Guelph Line and Walkers Line with the road diet in place on New Street. A lot of people are going to experience heart burn when they see those times. Data comes from the city web site.

“I find it almost insulting to the many drivers and residents of south Burlington trying to get from the east end to downtown or simply get home after a day’s work in a timely, safe fashion to tell them it only takes 72 seconds longer now to travel the distance between Walkers Line and Guelph Line.

“Based on resident’s daily experience it should read, after waiting in gridlock at Walkers and New Street or after waiting several minutes to make a turn onto New Street, it now takes 72 seconds longer to travel the distance.

“I don’t think we would have so many signatures on the petitions if it simply took 72 seconds longer to travel the distance as reported on the city website.

“Burlington is a bedroom community. People out of necessity have to drive to work or to the GO station. Burlington was never built as a pedestrian or cycling friendly city. Distances are too far between, shopping, services, appointments, sports activities. When I go to Toronto I take the GO train, and subway or buses to get around or walk. There is no comparison between the ease of getting around Toronto to Burlington on public transit.”

Eva Amos and Ruth Langdon have each lived in Burlington for more than 40 years. They are the epitome of decent people who expect decent services from their municipal government and straight answers to their questions.

Both were school teachers who met each other at the curling rink and now play golf together.

“New Street was a functional east/west road for years. Now with the population growing, Councillors decide to narrow this major east/west roadway.  “I fail to see the logic. It seems I am not alone” – there are at least 2641 people who share that view.

This story isn’t over yet.

The online petition is still open and can be found at: new - yellow

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Jim Young is going to give it another go at council on Monday - he wants the city to properly fund transit.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 15th, 2017



Sometime Monday forenoon Jim Young will take to the podium at city hall and brief members of Council on the 28 page document he prepared on what the Senior’s Advisory Council would like to see done with transit.

Jim Young has been advocating for better transit for some time. He came close to getting a change during the budget debates in 2016 when he wanted the city to make transit free for seniors on Monday’s.

The ward four debate gave Rick Goldring a lot to think about - he was never challenged like this when he ran for the office of Mayor in 2010

Mayor Rick Goldring voted for the transit pilot program in the 2016 budget.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster thinking through the answer to a question. Tends to be cautious.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster voted for the pilot transit program in the 2016 budget


Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward voted for the transit pilot program during the 2016 budget.

The Mayor, Councillor Meed Ward and Councillor Lancaster voted for what was to be a pilot program. The Director of Transit at the time wasn’t for the idea. He has since left the city.

Councillor Craven is reported to have told an Aldershot resident that he liked the program – but he did not vote for it – that may have been because almost anything Councillor Meed Ward puts forward, Craven opposes. He didn’t speak at any length on the matter during the debate.

Councillor Paul Sharman voted no – he wanted more data. Councillor Sharman always wants more data before he makes a decision – there does come a point when a decision has to be made based on experience and wisdom. There was the sense that the asking for additional data was punting the ball off the field.

Councillor John Taylor voted no – saw free transit as social welfare which most people didn’t need. Councillor Taylor couldn’t help but see free transit as some form of social welfare; his mind is still stuck in that old style thinking.


Councillor Taylor saw free transit as part of the social welfare system – a Regional responsibility.

One wonders why Taylor does not label the $225,000 that is forgone in terms of parking fees for the free parking members of staff get every year. With that kind of money the city could make the transit service free to everyone.

Councillor Dennison voted against the proposal.

Young personifies persistence and so he will be at it again on Monday asking council to put more money into transit.

The paper he has presented was adopted by the Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee: November 14, 2016.

The chances that every member of council will actually read all 28 pages is slim.

Here is a short summary of what Jim Young wants your city council to do to improve transit.

Improving Transit for Seniors Improves Transit for All
Improved Frequency and Reliability of Transit Service
Synchronize Smaller Community Buses to Larger Bus Hub to Hub Routes
Routing community bus services through satellite Seniors Centres
Restoring Service Stops in Major Malls
A Return to 70/30 Division of Transit/Roads Gasoline Tax Funding
Filling the City’s Buses During Off-Peak Hours

At busy holiday shopping periods buses get trapped in Maple View Mall - killing schedules. City is in talks with the Mall management.

At busy holiday shopping periods buses get trapped in Maple View Mall – killing schedules.

The Major Objectives of the BSAC Paper are:

To improve service and increase ridership of Burlington Transit.
To get more people out of cars and on to transit.
To move the city towards achievement of its 25 year Strategic Plan.
Contribute to growth in our city.
Reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety in Burlington.
Reduce CO2 emissions and help limit global warming.
Provide a safe, dignified means of transport for many who suffer restricted mobility.
Address the paradox that those most in need of public transit are those least able to afford it.


“Public transit is one of the most complex issues facing cities and indeed nations today. It poses a series of problems that are complicated and difficult to solve. Every city, every politician wants successful transit systems.

They move people, contribute to growth, reduce congestion, improve road safety, reduce CO2 emissions, help limit global warming, provide a safe means of transport for many who would otherwise suffer restricted employment and social mobility.

The paradox is that those most in need of public transit are those least able to afford it. The elderly, the young, the working poor, students, single parents, physically and intellectually challenged citizens and, returning to the elderly, those who have had driver’s licenses rescinded due to age related health issues.

Putting aside any notion of “seniors entitlement”, Burlington Senior Advisory Committee (BSAC) wants to add the voice of seniors’ experience, knowledge and love of our city to the transit debate. Of course we recommend improvements in transit that benefit seniors, but we do so very firmly from the perspective that: “Whatever Improves Transit for Senior’s, Improves Transit for Everybody”. This philosophical principle improves transit for our children and grandchildren, improves transit for Burlington and improves Burlington as: A City that Grows, A City that Moves, A Healthy and Greener City, An Engaging City, achieving all of the elements of our city’s 25 year strategic plan.

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

Burlington Transit getting new buses – to deliver less service.

Among politicians there is an almost universal love affair with the benefits of public transit. This is logically offset by concerns about how cities will finance the level of public transit required to achieve all of our lofty goals. The dichotomy has always been whether to wait for increased ridership to justify the cost of improving transit or, to invest in improved transit and trust that the ridership will follow.

This BSAC position paper hopes to point a way that allows Burlington to take some simple, relatively inexpensive actions that will increase ridership, contribute towards some of the social and environmental issues facing every city, and offer medium and longer term improvements that might make Burlington Transit a model for other medium sized city transit systems which becomes a showcase for the city worldwide.

A number of weeks ago Young upbraided city council for forgetting just why they were eleted. At that time he said:

When you deny constituents the reasonable opportunity to advise you during council term at meetings such as this, you leave them no other option but to voice their frustrations through the ballot box at election time.

Look at recent election results, where voters vented their frustration at the perception that politicians are not listening, do not provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, a perception that has given voice to the Fords, the Trumps and the Brexiteers who, bereft of policy or vision or even civil discourse, at least pretend to listen, pretend they will be the voice of the people.

Then proceed to undo all the good that has been done, the community that has been built by that slow and frustrating democratic process.

I will finish by challenging each of you who wish to limit the participation of citizens in the affairs of our city:

Will you please explain to this gathering tonight how limiting delegations to 5 minutes is good for our democracy, good for our city?

Will you then publish that explanation in your Newsletter for all your constituents to see and to judge for themselves?

Will you stand at your regular town hall gatherings and tell the people of your wards why you want to silence their voice?

Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

The motion to reduce delegation time at Standing Committee from ten minutes to five was defeated – in some measure due to the comments Young made.

Will he manage to convince council to re-think the way they fund transit?getting new - yellow


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ADI - OMB citizens

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2017



Burlington has always choked when it comes to matters that go to the Ontario Municipal Board.

And yet when the Nelson Quarry took the application for an extension of the quarry on Mt Nemo PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) fought that battle and managed to win.

It took $2 million out of the legal department's budget to pay for the tear long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be poermitted. It was rural Burlington residents who were the force behind that battle - they were not to be trifled with.

It took $2 million out of the legal department’s budget to pay for the year long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be permitted. It was rural Burlington residents who were the force behind that battle – they opposed an expansion – shown as the lower part outlined.

The cost to the city was $2.1 million.

Is Burlington’s problem with the way the planners make decisions and write their reports? Or is the problem with the legal department who don’t effectively read the lay of the land?

Whichever, and it might be something altogether different, there is a problem.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016The city now faces a local developer, the ADI development Group, on two development proposals – the Nautique that they want to build at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road and the two 19 storey apartment buildings with a collection of townhouse they want to build at the edge of the Alton Community just south of the 407 at Appleby Line.

There is an interesting emergence of events that is worth watching.

The Burlington Planners recommended approving the Alton development after a lot of negotiating and the involvement of a deelopment designer in the process. Anne McIlroy’s group has done some solid work for Burlington in the past, quite why she didn’t say this is the wrong place for this project is difficult to understand. One gets the sense that the planners and the design consultant went into the review exercise committed to make it work – when the community was adamant that is just didn’t work.


Two towers 19 storeys high – in a community made of up two storey homes – being proposed in the name of intensification. Residents didn’t buy it and convinced council to reject a staff recommendation.

The Planning department, after considerable negotiation with the developer recommended that city council approve the requested changes to the Official plan and changes to the zoning that had applied to the property.

The result would be a property that was zoned for a possible ten storey height being increased to 19 storeys – and there would be two of them.


Tammy , planner leading the xxx

The community was incensed.

City council did, in their wisdom, vote against the staff recommendation.

Before the ink was dry on the city council decision the Adi Development Group had an application in to the OMB asking for a ruling – they were cheeky enough to ask for an expedited ruling.

When they took their Nautique project to the OMB they argued that the city had not made a decision on the development application within the required 180 days. When that application did get in front of the OMB, Adi, the developer asked for a delay while the city considered what to do with the abutting piece of property Adi had bought which made it a considerably different application.

Adi then asked for a mediation by the OMB. Are you getting the picture?

With this going on in Burlington, the province is doing a review of the way the Ontario Municipal Board operates. Burlington along with many municipalities that want to see some reform made in what the OMB can and cannot do.

The province is holding a consultation on Ontario Municipal Board Reform that has five key themes.

• Theme 1: OMB’s jurisdiction and powers
• Theme 2: Citizen participation and local perspective
• Theme 3: Clear and predictable decision making
• Theme 4: Modern procedures and faster decisions
• Theme 5: Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings

The review process details and background can be found here: at:

The Regional government wrote a Joint submission on behalf of City of Burlington, Town of Oakville, Halton Hills, Milton, Conservation Halton, Grand River Conservation Authority, and Credit Valley Conservation that identified three key recommendations, as outlined below:

1. Scoping appeals
Amend the Planning Act to restrict the scope of matters that can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (e.g. municipally-initiated comprehensive and area wide official plan amendments)

Amend the Planning Act and OMB procedures to effectively scope matters under dispute to restrict appeals that are broad and without basis (e.g. require appeal letters to provide a sound planning rationale for the appeal and include specific policy wording and mapping for those changes being requested).

Restrict appeals (especially third party appeals) that implement municipal comprehensive reviews establishing urban structure.

2. Mediation
Amend the Planning Act and OMB procedures to utilize Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a ‘first’ solution to resolve land use disputes rather than OMB hearings.

Service delivery of mediation – improving timelines to expedite resolutions.

Apply a merit based approach to appeals.

3. De Novo Hearings
As a decision making authority, the OMB currently has the ability to hear land use planning matters “de novo” (i.e. from the beginning) even though the matter was previously considered by a municipal council.

Amend the Planning Act to limit the opportunities for de novo hearings at the OMB and give validity to Council’s decisions on land use matters.

The Halton staff report contained a detailed response to the OMB Review Public Consultation. That document was approved November 9, 2016 and is commonly referred to as the “Halton Joint Submission” signed by Region of Halton, City of Burlington, Town of Oakville, Halton Hills, Milton, Conservation Halton, Grand River Conservation Authority, and Credit Valley Conservation.

Burlington added comment of their own to the Halton joint submission in which they said:

City staff concur with the recommendations of Halton report LPS118-16. Staff have also identified the following additional items for the Province’s consideration:

1. The current time frame before an official plan or rezoning amendment can be appealed to the OMB based on “Non-Decision” is inadequate; extension of the time frame should be extended to 12 months for OPAs and 9 months for rezonings.

Currently, an applicant can appeal a development application to the OMB if Council has not made a decision within 180 days of an Official Plan amendment application or 120 days of a Zoning By-law amendment application being deemed complete.

This was the justification the Adi Development Group used when they appealed to the OMB on the Nautique development at Martha and Lakeshore.

While it is acknowledged that Bill 73 has provided the option of extending the timeline by 90 days for OPA’s, the City remains of the position that this is not an adequate extension.

Burlington is a municipality that is accommodating the majority of its growth within the built-up area of the city. The applications being received within intensification areas are increasingly complex, requiring significant public and stakeholder engagement, as well as supporting technical studies. The current 180 day and 120 day time periods are inadequate for processing development applications in this context.

Further, the current time frames do not consider the realities of internal report review processes or Committee/Council meeting cycles typical in municipal government.

To place a report on an agenda for Committee/Council consideration typically means that the report is complete up to 1.5-2 months previous to that date. This shortens the period of “Non-Decision” even further to a 4-5 month processing window, placing the municipality in an even more unrealistic position for processing complex applications.

The existing 180-day and 120-day time frames have a number of impacts:
• It puts more applications before the OMB, when the ultimate goal should be to keep applications within the local decision making authority where best efforts are being made to resolve issues outside of the OMB system.

• It penalizes a municipality for striving to conduct a meaningful public consultation process.

• It penalizes a municipality for striving to ensure that quality technical submissions are received to appropriately assess an application.

• It places the municipality in the position of recommending a refusal to Council, taking an adversarial position with the applicant, when in fact, there could still be the opportunity and interest in working through the issues with the applicant, stakeholders and community.

• It places the municipality in a position of risk and uncertainty for making best effort to continue work through issues beyond the 180-days/120 days with increased risk of appeal for every day that passes.

• It does not recognize that it might be advantageous for some applicants to only fulfill the requirements for a complete application, with the intention of triggering an appeal so that a decision would be made through an OMB hearing rather than by a local Council.

• It places a municipality in an unrealistic position for processing a complex development application as it does not consider the time it takes to: resolve issues with the application; fill information gaps in technical studies; consult with the public; and consult with stakeholders and agencies some of which have their own challenges in resourcing application review and preparation of comments.

2. Alternative dispute resolution should be supported by additional provincial funding, and not downloaded to municipalities.

The City is supportive of avenues that reduce the need for an OMB hearing and that places more decision making authority within the local context, and is therefore supportive of the alternative dispute resolution process. However, the dispute resolution process also requires resourcing which should be supported by the Province and not downloaded to municipalities.

3. The period in which to conduct an interim-control study should be an automatic 2-year period, rather than a 1-year period and subject to renewal.

A municipality typically only invokes an interim-control by-law planning tool when a significant matter arises. A significant matter, is often a complex matter, requiring time to conduct a study.

Components of a study process include: issue identification and project scoping; potentially outsourced procurement for technical assistance; public and stakeholder consultation; research and analysis; policy analysis; formulation of recommendations; and, preparation of a staff recommendation report to Council. A one year-time frame can be aggressive, particularly if outsourced consulting support is required as part of the study due to timelines and requirements of the procurement process. The study period should be revised to an automatic 2- year period, rather than a 1-year period, subject to renewal.

4. The scoping of matters that can be subject to OMB appeal should be further expanded and clarified.

To avoid the necessity of re-hearing of local Official Plan matters which have already been resolved by the Province or the Board at the Senior Plan level, the Province should specify that the following matters are not eligible for appeal:

• Regional official plan conformity through local official plan amendments;

• Any local official plan or amendment which is designed as a conformity exercise to an approved provincial plan (except for those provisions of the local plan that may be more restrictive than the senior-level plan).

5. Further clarity should be provided on the Province’s proposal to restrict appeals of planning applications for development that supports provincially funded transit infrastructure such as subways and bus stations.

Staff support, in principle, the restriction of appeals for applications that support transit infrastructure; however, staff question how such appeal restrictions would be implemented. There are many aspects of local official plans, such as the City of Burlington’s current Official Plan, which support transit infrastructure, and many of these aspects will be continued in expanded in future planning, such as the new impending Official Plan and the Mobility Hub Area-Specific Planning which is currently underway. Staff question how to feasibility separate out those aspects of a Plan which are transit-related, and therefore not subject to appeal, from other overlapping aspects of a Plan which are designed to achieve other objectives, and which would be subject to appeal.

6. The Province’s proposal to require land use decisions to reflect current Provincial policy is strongly supported.

Since 2007, the Planning Act has required that land use decisions on applications made after that time must reflect provincial policies in place when the decision is made, not when the application is made. The Province is proposing to extend this change by requiring that all planning decisions, including those for applications made prior to 2007, be based on planning documents in effect at the time of the decision.

Staff strongly support this Provincial proposal. At the present time, there are some dormant pre-2007 applications in the City that were originally submitted in anticipation of new future planning policies coming into force. These applications were essentially submitted as “placeholders” in order to ensure that the previous planning regime would continue to apply, and these applications could be re-activated at any time. Some of these applications are incomplete and do not reflect current planning policies and practices. This proposed Provincial change would ensure that decisions on these applications, if and when they are re-activated, would be able to reflect the current policies.

There will be changes made to the way the OMB works in the future but it is going to take some time for the process to actually see a change.

Will any of this impact the two matters that has the city and the Adi Development group battling it out before the OMB. Hard to tell.

There is one small tidbit of information that makes this really interesting. The Ontario Municipal Board is part of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario which is now led by Bruce Krushelnicki who was at one time the planner for Burlington.

At some point all the data and all the public input gets placed in front of Burlington's Planner, Bruce Kruselniiki - who will issue a report and city council will make decisions. Creating the downtown the city wants and needs has not been an easy process for Burlington.

Bruce Krushelnicki – former Burlington Director of Planning is now the Chair of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario that oversees the work done by the Ontario Municipal Board.

The city wasn’t happy with the way Bruce Krushelnicki was doing the job and after ten years with Burlington he moved on.

He now chairs the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario (ELTO) which oversees what gets done by the Assessment Review Board, the Board of Negotiation, the Conservation Review Board, the Environmental Review Tribunal, and the Ontario Municipal Board.

Burlington lost a fine planner but that is proving to be the province’s gain.
Krushelnicki wrote the textbook on OMB procedures. He will direct the process that reforms the OMB – it will just take some time – but it will get done – properly.

getting new - yellow

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Developer is shocked - Mayor hasn't seen anything like this before - two 19 storey apartments in Alton lead to some less than friendly words - in Burlington?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2017



The Mayor hasn’t seen anything like it in his ten years in office and the developer is shocked.

The two are now trading strong words. A Burlington developer is telling it as he sees it – the city is playing “pay-back time” against the Adi Development Group when they rejected a staff supported decision to allow the creation of a development in the Alton community that would include two 19 storey apartment buildings in a community where two storey homes are the norm.


A graphic of the [proposed Adi development proposed for Alton. The graphic came from the web site of Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward – no friend of the Adi’s.

A Planning department report approved a 612-unit housing project for the Alton community last month. City council voted against the project and the developer now claims that this vote was a pay back for Adi taking the city to the OMB on another project.

Tariq Adi, CEO if the Adi Development group is reported to have said: “Oh yeah, absolutely. “Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, I know what’s going on here.”

Them’s fighting words.

City Council voted against the project located just north of Dundas Street in north Burlington.

Burlington’s planning staff had negotiated with the developer and thought they had a deal. Feelings are now hurt.

City planners recommended acceptance of the project after months of negotiations with the developer to modify the original proposal. The ward Councillor, Blair Lancaster, told the residents she would not support the development.

Residents of the Alton community, turned out in large numbers for a meeting in December and expressed their anger about the existing congestion in their neighbourhood, traffic issues and overcrowded schools.

Adi has now taken the city’s rejection of their Alton project to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Adi has a proposal for a 26 storey unit at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road that is also now before the Ontario Municipal Board. It is currently in an OMB guided mediation that took place December 15th and 16th. The outcome of that mediation is not yet known.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brohers, Tariq on the right, Saud on the left. It was Tariq who was shocked into taking their development to the OMB.

Tariq Adi is also reported to have said: “Yes, 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.”

The Mayor is reported to have denied that the votes against Adi are politically motivated and said the vote was based on the delegations made to city council.

Burlington is in the process of writing a new Official Plan. The decision to write a new plan rather than concentrate on revising the existing plan was to have it reflect the 25 year Strategic Plan that was approved last year.

The Planning department is also working up the rules and regulations that will apply to proposed mobility hubs at the downtown transit terminal, at the Appleby and Aldershot GO stations as well as at the Burlington GO station where the Molinaro Paradigm development, currently well underway with sales exceeding the original projection.

The Adi Development Group is relatively new to Burlington. They have a number of projects in different stages of development.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

A view of the Adi development on Guelph Line just south of Upper Middle Road is a project with a very contemporary look.

The Station West development in Aldershot has yet to break ground. Their Moder’n project on Guelph Line was completed more than a year ago and fits into the community very nicely.

ADI Link development

The Adi Link development at Dundas and Sutton in north east Burlington.

Their Link project at Dundas and Sutton is well underway.

There are still disputes with the organization that paid for the initial infrastructure work in the Orchard community. The Adi people appear to not want to pay their share of those costs at this point in time.

Tariq Adi is reported to be shocked at the rejection of the Alton project and is quoted in the Spectator as saying: “The mayor is not a fan of me and I’m not a fan of the mayor, period. He’s walking around preaching intensification and he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Goldring + Jivan and son

Mayor Rick Goldring talking to an Alton resident during the last municipal election.

“He says this is not a good site for intensification when staff is saying this is the perfect site for intensification.

“We were proposing something that we believed was fair and reasonable and from a planning perspective conformed to all the official plans and growth plans that the City of Burlington was trying to do,” Adi said, “especially with the whole preaching of the intensification gospel.”

The city and the Adi people will now hire lawyers to argue before the OMB.

The one consistent factor in all this development activity is that if Adi is the company digging the hole in the ground – there will be major differences of opinion and, so far at least,  two of their developments are going to the OMB.

They are quite quick to sue when they don’t get what they want.

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Holiday Transit Service - walk on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. You could use your bike on New Street!

notices100x100By Staff

December 19th, 2016



There will be no Burlington Transit service on December 25 (Christmas Day) and January 1 (New Year’s Day).

For information on the level of service provided from Dec. 24, 2016 through to Jan. 2, 2017, please see our Holiday Service page which contains last trip departure information for early end to service Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) and extended trips on select routes offered on Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve).

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Public answers 25 questions put to them at a public meeting - many that took part didn't expect this approach and they had no input on the creation of the questions.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2016


The data set out below is now correct.

It was the first public meeting of the Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC).  There was an audience of about 300 people.

The audience was told that the meeting was to gather the perceptions of the people attending.  This was going to be done by an interactive process that would put questions up on a large screen.  People in the audience would use hand held devices to click a number indicating their answer.


There were not many empty seats – and there were few satisfied parents.

The first question was – who are you and where are you from – phrased a little differently – here is what went up on the screen – the results are shown in BOLD RED

Question 1: Which high school are your representing tonight?  The number beside the school was the number people in the audience would key in.  The screen displayed a number that indicated how many devices had been handed out and another number showing how many people had responded.

7. Aldershot    7

6. Dr. Frank J. Hayden   43
5. Lester B. Pearson     43
4. Nelson Public           6
3. Robert Bateman       5
2. Burlington Central     150
1. M.M. Robinson     2

It was clear from the start that the auditorium was filled with Central high school people.

They were asked 25 questions that were broken out into four different themes..

Programming and enrollment
Physical state of existing schools
Geographical and transportation issues
Fiscal responsibility and future planning

There was some discussion after each theme was covered off. The Ipsos facilitator made a strategic error in cutting off discussion in order to keep the meeting within the two hour time frame he had. He did loosen up later but by that time he had lost the confidence of the audience.

Ipsos was serving as a third-party gatherer of information. Both the facilitator and the meeting chair Scott Poderabac, a HDSB Superintendent, pointed out again and again that they were in the early stage of discussion and information gathering and that there were multiple ways to provide feedback:

The audience was told that a final decision on a school closing lies with Board of Trustees and that the PARC served as the official conduit for information shared between Trustees and school communities.  It also provides feedback on options considered in Director’s Preliminary Report (option 19)

Board staff would be compiling the feedback from PARC and broader community to make up Community Consultation section of final staff report to Trustees.  There would be a minimum of four working meetings of the PARC and PARC members will solicit input from the communities they represent.
The audience was told that the work being done is rooted in the 13 PARC Framework factors:

• Range of mandatory and optional programs
• Viability of Program – number of students required to offer and maintain program in an educationally sound and fiscally responsible way; Continuity of placement and possible relocation of regional programs within the review area
• Physical and environmental state of existing schools
• Proximity to other schools (non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
• Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms
• Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources, and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and underutilization of buildings
• Expansion and placement of new ministry or board programs
• Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent boundary changes
• Cost effectiveness of transportation
• Fiscal responsibilities
• Existing and potential community use and facility partnerships
• Goals and focus of the current multi-year plan

There was very little explanation on these 13 factors and there didn’t seem to be much in the way of opportunity to revise them.

The option that had been determined by Stuart Miller, Director of Education was what has been named Option 19 which was:

Lester B. Pearson HS closes
Burlington Central HS closes
Remove French Immersion Program from Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS
and redirect to M.M. Robinson HS
Add French Immersion program to Robert Bateman HS, expand catchment for Robert Bateman HS and alter French Immersion catchment for Nelson HS

The meeting then moved into the first theme 1: Programming and Enrollment

Qx 2: How important is the availability of mandatory / core courses for your child(ren) within your home school?

3. Very Important              187
3. Somewhat Important      58
2. Not Very Important           12
1. Not at all Important          3

Qx 3: How acceptable is it to attend a school outside of a home school for mandatory / core programming for your child(ren)?

4. Very Acceptable   22
3. Somewhat Acceptable   42
2. Not Very Acceptable   64
1. Not at all Acceptable   135

Qx 4: How important is the availability of optional / elective courses within your home school for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important     94
3. Somewhat Important      117
2. Not Very Important         38
1. Not at all Important       14

Qx 5: How acceptable is it for your child(ren) to attend a school outside of a home school for optional/elective courses?

4. Very Acceptable             37
3. Somewhat Acceptable    92
2. Not Very Acceptable       70
1. Not at all Acceptable     62

Qx 6: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a mandatory/core course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  55
3. Somewhat Willing  54
2. Not Very Willing  57
1. Not at all Willing  96

Qx 7: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a optional/elective course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  90
3. Somewhat Willing  74
2. Not Very Willing  46
1. Not at all Willing  49

Qx 8: How important is it for you high school to offer a full range of pathway programming (e.g., workplace, college, university)?

4. Very Important   120
3. Somewhat Important   89
2. Not Very Important  33
1. Not at all Important   15

Qx 9: How concerned are you that your child(ren) has access to appropriate learning facilities (e.g., kitchens, science labs, gyms, libraries)?

4. Very Concerned  165
3. Somewhat Concerned   58
2. Not Very Concerned  16
1. Not at all Concerned  19

Qx 10: How concerned are you that some high schools have large amounts of specialized learning spaces that remain underutilized?

4. Very Concerned  18
3. Somewhat Concerned   56
2. Not Very Concerned  92
1. Not at all Concerned  92

Qx 11: How important is it for your home school to have a full range of extracurricular activities (e.g., drama, arts, athletics, clubs) for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important   121
3. Somewhat Important  92
2. Not Very Important  35
1. Not at all Important   13

Qx 12: How likely are you to support your child(ren) participating in extracurricular activities at another school?

4. Very Likely  72
3. Somewhat Likely  69
2. Not Very Likely  49
1. Not at all Likely  68

Qx 13: How important is it for your child to have access to the highest level of competition in athletics?

4. Very Important   19
3. Somewhat Important   30
2. Not Very Important   170
1. Not at all Important   141

Peter Menet wanted to know if the board was collecting the data as raw information – it was.  When another speaker commented on how bad the questions were there was an immediate burst of applause.  The audience was again told that this was an early stage of the process.

Some speakers said they felt answering the questions the way they were put was to be working against their own interests.  Others felt the questions were “sketchy” and that just about everything was weighted towards the “bigger is better” approach.

Theme 2: Physical State of Existing Schools
Qx 14: How important is the physical condition of your existing school to you (e.g., environmental sustainability, energy consumption, safety)?

4. Very Important  75
3. Somewhat Important  37
2. Not Very Important  32
1. Not at all Important  95

There was a lot of comment from the audience on the above question – they felt it was a “faulty” question.  The facilitator began to lose the trust he needed with the audience at this point.

Qx 15: How important is it to you that the board ensures schools have an up-to-date, fully-accessible learning environment (e.g., elevators, air conditioning)?

4. Very Important   56
3. Somewhat Important   38
2. Not Very Important   32
1. Not at all Important   116

Qx 16: How important is it you to preserve existing community partnerships at your child(ren)’s current school (e.g., swimming pool, library, community centre)?

4. Very Important   97
3. Somewhat Important   36
2. Not Very Important   49
1. Not at all Important   69

Qx 17: How important is it you to minimize the use of portable classrooms?

4. Very Important   159  
3. Somewhat Important   27
2. Not Very Important    27
1. Not at all Important   39


When the question off portables was on the screen one parent asked in an almost sarcastic tone Really?

Another parent said she felt the questions were insulting.  The facilitator’s tone began to change, he began to speak a little more crisply and started correcting himself.

Another parent said the board’s neglect is not a reason to close a school.

Another parent said she didn’t feel the questions were being asked in good faith.

The audience was told that the questions and the answers were material for the PARC.

Another parent told the audience that if the parents were confused can you imagine what is going on in the minds of the students.

Theme 3: Geographical and Transportation Issues

Qx 18: The Board’s current walk distance is a maximum of 3.2 km. How important is it that your child(ren) are within the Board mandated walking distance to reach school?

4. Very Important     198
3. Somewhat Important   22
2. Not Very Important     21
1. Not at all Important    12

Qx 19: Which of the following is your child(ren)’s most common form of travel to school currently? (list methods)

6. School Bus  37
5. Car (drive or drop off)  32
4. Public Transit  0
3. Walk  176
2. Bike   17
1. Other   4

Qx 20: How important is it to you that the Board be fiscally responsible by reducing transportation to reach school?

4. Very Important   151
3. Somewhat Important   44
2. Not Very Important      22
1. Not at all Important    30

Qx 21: How important is it for your child(ren) to spend their secondary school years in one school community?

4. Very Important   238
3. Somewhat Important  14
2. Not Very Important   6
1. Not at all Important   0

•Proximity to other schools (i.e., non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
•Cost effectiveness of transportation
•Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent changes

Theme 4: Fiscal Responsibility and Future Planning
Qx 22: The Ministry does not fund empty pupil places. To what extent do you agree that the Board should reallocate its limited budget to fund these spaces?

4. Strongly Agree   122
3. Somewhat Agree   50
2. Somewhat Disagree  32
1. Strongly Disagree   28

The facilitator described this as the opportunity to do some problem solving – here are a lot of empty seats that the board will not get funding for – where will the money come from.

The audience was asked what they would be prepared to give up.  One parent said she didn’t understand what the PARC can do – she didn’t get an asnwer.

Parents asked why they weren’t being told about how the board was cutting back on its spending if the students to fill those empty seats didn’t exist.

The sense was that the Board was looking to the parents to come up with innovative approaches to the problem.  These parents are not at that point yet – and they may not get to that point.

Parents wanted to see the facilities their tax dollars pay for are optimized.  They care about their community and want their children to be able to all attend the same school.

Central is the only school in the system that has students attending from JK through to graduation – and this is something these parents do not want to give up.

Qx 23: The Board’s MYP states it will maintain a minimum overall average of 90% building capacity. To what extent to do you agree with this goal around future sustainability of Burlington secondary schools?

4. Strongly Agree   20
3. Somewhat Agree  34
2. Somewhat Disagree   53
1. Strongly Disagree   134

Qx 24: The goal in the current MYP is to use innovative approaches to student learning spaces (e.g., classrooms, gymnasiums). To what extent do you feel the current situation of Burlington high schools is sustainable?

4. Very Sustainable   91
3. Somewhat Sustainable   55
2. Not very Sustainable   20
1. Not at all Sustainable   25

At this point people began walking out.

Qx 25: Of the four themes, which is most important to you?

4. Programming and enrollment   0
3. Physical state of existing schools   0
2. Geographical and transportation Issues   0
1. Fiscal responsibility and future planning   0

With the data gathering part of the meeting over the facilitator opened it up for questions.  He got more than an earful.

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller. He did not stay for the meeting.

The audience did not like the setting out of a specific option.  There was no mention at all of the other 18 options.  That to them left the feeling that a decision had been made.  They asked if the questions had been tested.  They wanted to know if the large ESL classes were included in the school count at Central – no one could tell them and that is what bothered the parents the most.

The were very vocal in wanting answers to questions and on a number of occasions pointed out that the people who could answer the questions were in the room.  Peter Menet who earlier had said he felt the audience had been misled wanted to know why key questions were being asked and the audience was being told that there was no one present to answer them when Associate Director Boag and Planning Manager Renzella were in the auditorium and could have answered questions

Menet said he was very disappointed which was basically the mood the the audience

The Ipsos facilitator said the purpose of the meeting was not to answer questions but to get feedback.

One parent explained that if French immersion was pulled from Hayden her child might well just give up French to be able to stay at Hayden

Another parents explained that students will not take a bus to get to another school to take part in an extra curricular event.

One parent wanted to know what was going to happen to a day care that had been in Pearson for more than 35 years?

Many thought the boundary lines were seriously flawed.

This was an audience that did not fully understand that the meeting was to gather data – it was not a meeting to answer their questions.  So far the only opportunity to ask questions was an online Q&A.

The next step in the process is for the PARC to meet and determine how it is going to proceed.  Those 27+ people are not going to be quite as pliant.

In the meantime parents want to print out this report and go over their responses to the questions that were asked.  Miller, the Director of Education appears to be amendable to additional public meetings.

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Transit advocates suggest city manager is going to have a tough time finding a new leader for the bus service.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 8th, 2016



City manager James Ridge is now on the lookout for someone to lead the Transit system

Former Director of the Transit service Mike Spencer decided to follow his former boss, Scott Stewart, who left Burlington to become the Deputy CAO in Guelph and then began poaching staff.

The Gazette interviewed two strong transit advocates in Burlington and asked what they thought the city manager should be looking for in the way of a new Director for the transit service.

“Well he wants and needs someone who is a transit champion and who has deep transit experience” said Doug Brown.

Jim Young, who advocated so effectively before city council recently on their need to listen to the people who put them in office, wants to see a transit service that understands the needs of the people in the city and a service that will try new ideas.

Brown was asked if there was anyone currently working at transit that could rise to the position of Director. “There are a couple, but no one is going to take that job until city council decides that it is going to fund transit properly”.  Brown added that no one with municipal transit experience in the province is going to apply for the job in Burlington because this city council is not going to provide the dollars needed to provide a service that can meet the need.

Both Brown and Young are not at all sure than city council actually understands transit. “We had a member of this council casually lop off $2 million from the transit budget and use it to “shave and pace” roads.

Brown points out that there is no clear direction for transit – “where does it fit in” he asks. Then adds that there is no economic analysis on what our transit spending is doing – all Councillor Taylor can do is see the costs.

Brown points to the $10 million budgeted for road widening – take those things out of the budget he suggests.

Brown almost winces when he explains that the federal gas tax money the city gets is poorly distributed.  30% of that money used to go to transit – this city council cut that back to 20%.  That loss shows said Brown.

Young tried to convince the city to make transit free for seniors one day a week – they didn’t buy that idea saying there wasn’t enough data to show that such an idea would make a difference.  This despite the fact that data from Oakville made it very clear that free transit will get people to use the bus service.

The relatively small group of people in Burlington who advocate for better transit have a lot of work to do getting people to understand that transit is a must – there is no need or economic justification for the spending we are doing on roads.

But if you follow the discussion on the “road diet” pilot project on New Street it is clear that people in Burlington don’t want space given to bicycle riders – the car is still the king of the road in this city – and as long as that is the culture this city is not going to attract the transit leader it needs.


The Gazette interviewed two strong transit advocates in Burlington and asked what they thought the city manager should be looking for in the way of a new Director for the transit service.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city's bus schedule.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city’s bus schedule.

“Well he wants and needs someone who is a transit champion and who has deep transit experience” said Doug Brown.

Jim Young, who advocated so effectively before city council recently on their need to listen to the people who put them in office, wants to see a transit service that understands the needs of the people in the city and a service that will try new ideas.

Brown was asked if there was anyone currently working at transit that could rise to the position of Director.

“There are a couple, but no one is going to take that job until city council decides that it is going to fund transit properly”. Brown added that no one with municipal transit experience in the province is going to apply for the job in Burlington because this city council is not going to provide the dollars needed to provide a service that can meet the need.

Both Brown and Young are not at all sure than city council actually understands transit. “We had a member of this council casually lop off $2 million from the transit budget and use it to “shave and pace” roads.

Councillor John Taylor, war horse on Escarpment issues got a round of applause before he said a word at the community meeting held to voice once again Burlington's opposition to a highway through any part of the Escarpment.

Councillor John Taylor seems to have trouble really understanding why better transit is necessary suggests advocate Doug Brown.

Brown points out that there is no clear direction for transit – “where does it fit in” he asks. Then adds that there is no economic analysis on what our transit spending is doing – all Councillor Taylor can do is see the costs.

Brown points to the $10 million budgeted for road widening – take those things out of the budget he suggests.
Brown almost winces when he explains that the federal gas tax money the city gets is poorly distributed. 30% of that money used to go to transit – this city council cut that back to 20%. That loss shows said Brown.

Jim Young

Transit advocate Jim Young

Young tried to convince the city to make transit free for seniors one day a week – they didn’t buy that idea saying there wasn’t enough data to show that such an idea would make a difference. This despite the fact that data from Oakville made it very clear that free transit will get people to use the bus service.

The relatively small group of people in Burlington who advocate for better transit have a lot of work to do getting people to understand that transit is a must – there is no need or economic justification for the spending we are doing on roads.

But if you follow the discussion on the “road diet” pilot project on New Street it is clear that people in Burlington don’t want space given to bicycle riders – the car is still the king of the road in this city – and as long as that is the culture this city is not going to attract the transit leader it needs.

Background links:

Young on listening

Young on letting seniors use transit free

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Director of Transit to turn in his keys later this month.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2016



They come and they go.

The people who run the city are people we rely upon to come up with the solutions to solve the problems.

In the five years the Gazette has been reporting on this city we have seen four city managers. Currently James Ridge, a former Canadian army veteran who served in the Military Police.

James Ridge - looking right

City manager James Ridge

There was a point when the city had three General Managers who reported to the city manager. That level of management no longer exists and the city manager has a team of Directors who meet with Ridge as part of what he calls his Leadership Team.

And as long as you do things the way Ridge wants you to do them – you get to stay on the team.

Spicer + Ridge

Retiring Director of Transit Mike Spicer on the left attends a community meeting with city manager James Ridge. One of these two is not a happy camper.

Mike Spicer, Director of Transit will be leaving the tram November 18th.

The Gazette got a note from a reader who brought Spicer’s resignation to our attention. It took a few days to get comment from Spicer who we found to be usually available for comment.

We asked Spicer if there was any truth to the rumour we received.

Here is the flow of the conversation:

Gazette: Got a note from someone saying you had been shown the door.

Spicer: I was not shown the door. I resigned. Last day is November 18th.

Gazette: Where are you going and what are you going to do next?

Spicer: Seeking new opportunities, don’t have anything concrete at this moment but am looking at a few opportunities.

Transit wkshp = Edwardth = Mayor with cell

Mayor Goldring reading a transit app on his cell phone. To his left is Joey Edwardth of Community Development Halton and Doug Brown – the guy who knows more about transit in the city than anyone else. He seldom gets a call.

Good luck to Mike. He had a difficult job – he was expected to provide a transit service without the funds he needed and the full support of city council.

He did slip up on a number of occasions – failing to attend meetings that were put on by transit service advocates was a killer.getting new - yellow

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Cyclists tell us how the city plans to count traffic on New Street. Did the Transportation department lose their tongues or did the communications people lose their pencils?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 30th, 2016



A number of the articles we publish draw comments from readers – where the debate can continue for some time. The cycling lanes on New Street is one of those debates that isn’t over yet.

Will this MAyor on this bike ever get to ride on a separate and safe bike lane on the LAkshore Road? Not if they MAyor folds at city council this evening.

Will we see the Mayor on his bike driving to city hall along New Street?

We usually leave the debates in the comment section however a comment from Chris Amiens, a cyclist for whom we have a lot of respect, is one we decided to pull from the comments section and put it into the ongoing news category.

Responding to a short piece I wrote about the traffic I experienced on New Street during a rush hour earlier this week Amiens said:

“Not one of your best articles, Pepper. Did you ask anyone from the city what they are doing to measure? More investigative journalism and less supposition is required.

He went on to say: “ At Tuesday’s (September 27) Cycling Committee meeting, the Transportation department shared an update on the New Street pilot.

“One of the recommendations we made to Council was to “measure everything”. I came away from this update encouraged that the city’s Staff are doing just that.

“They aren’t using the tubes in the road, because those are less effective. They are using Bluetooth technology to measure travel times and installing cameras that will count vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians 24/7 (including both the street and the sidewalks). They will be installing the tubes on parallel and side streets like Spruce to measure traffic impacts there. They are even having drones capture video of rush hour traffic. They are getting feedback from not only the public, but transit, police and emergency services to measure the impacts.

“Whatever your position on the New Street project, it is clear to me that staff are doing their utmost to capture all of the relevant metrics so that the City can make the most informed decision.”

This is great stuff – but why is the public learning about it in a comment made by a member of the Cycling Advisory committee?

I am impressed with the lengths the city is going to – what’s it going to cost?

However, I want to know why there hasn’t been a single word from the Transportation department on what they plan to do.

Mayor Goldring: Is there an event he won't attend? He doesn't have to get out to everything - but he usually does.

Mayor Goldring: Thinking it over?

Given that the cycling lanes are one of the hotter issues for a number of people.   Given that the Mayor said he is approached by citizens on this issue constantly – is this not an issue that the city’s communications staff could get something out on?

It is an issue – not all that big when compared to others – think budget, Strategic Plan and the Transportation New Directions that have been put on the table, but it has people agitated.

What is particularly telling is the city’s inability to get in front of a story and just tell people what they are going to do.

Could they not just talk about being accountable and transparent and actually ‘walk their talk’ rather than continually being reactive ?

Peter Paul and Mary made the point in their song: “When will they ever learn?”

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