Scrambling for seats at the Burlington Lands Project Selection Table.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 10th, 2021


The following series is lengthy.  It sets out what the city has decided it wants to do on development projects that will put tax money at risk.  None of what is now known as the Burlington Lands Project was discussed, nor even mentioned, during the last municipal election. It bears watching

Part 4 of a 4 part series.


When talking through the Terms of Reference for the latest hot idea from City Hall – members of Council were not shy about looking for a way to sit on the Selection Committee – the place where the decisions are going to be made.

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Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns preparing to take the Chair of a Standing Council Committee

The document that set out who would be on this all-important committee had the Mayor, the Chair of the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) who, this year, is Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns.  The Chair of the four Standing Committees change each year.

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Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Vice Chair of the CSSRA is Shawna Stolte who has made it clear that she feels she should be on the committee for several reasons.

She has a strong commitment to the concept of affordable housing and points to her private sector experience in the field and the fact that she is still a licensed realtor. And, she added, as the vice chair of the CSSRA she would bring some continuity to Council representation on the Burlington Lands Project because she will be chair next year.

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Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman – wants to sit on committees that have clout and influence. He misses the Economic Development seat he held – why did his term on that Committee end?

Councillor Sharman didn’t see the Stolte bonafides quite the same way. He went so far as to say there had to be some merit in adding someone to the Selection Committee and that experience is important.

The original plan was to have two members of Council on the Selection Committee. Adding the vice chair of the CSSRA to the two would take it up to three which was not quite what City Manager Tim Commisso had in mind when he structured this latest initiative for the city.

He was rather firm when he said that there was not going to ever be four members of Council on the Selection Committee – that would have amounted to a Council quorum.

The decision as to the membership on the Selection Committee as it is set out in the Terms of Reference appears to rest with the City Manager and the Clerk.

The decision on the final Version of the Terms of Reference will be decided when the issue goes to City Council on the 19th.

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Mayor Meed Ward has managed to put the members of Council in roles they were ready for and kept those with depth and experience far enough away.

The Mayor would rather do without Councillor Sharman. She’s not at all interested in giving the only real competitor on Council for her job as Mayor any oxygen.   The next election is just 20 months away; all kinds of things can happen in that period of time.

There are people prepared to run against at least some of the incumbents and there are at least two members of the current Council who are at risk.

Marianne Meed Ward will run for re-election and win – providing she doesn’t slip on a banana peel and slide under a bus and providing she finds a way to come up with a budget that enough residents can live with.

At this point there is no reason to expect a strong contender from within the development sector.  Some of the decisions coming out of the LPAT might change that.

There are two members of Council who have their eye on the Chain of Office but they are at least another term as Council members before they have the credibility to take a run at the job.

Sharman will run for Mayor if he sees an opening he can exploit. He will have been on Council 12 years.

Despite how polite the members of this council are to each other – this is not a bunch of really happy campers.  Meed Ward has yet to find a way to bring them around to the point where they buy into the dream she has and also a way to coax the five newbies into her tent.

We will know before the end of the month who will join her on the Burlington Lands Project Selection Committee.

Part 1 of a 4 part series

Part 2 of a 4 part series

Part 3 of a 4 part series

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