She is the best hope we have - but that doesn't mean she can walk on water. Meed Ward now has to demonstrate that she is the leader the city needs.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2018



The first thing the members of the city council you elected a week ago are going to have to do is show the public that things are going to be different.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Meed Ward thanking the crowd at the Polish Hall.

That the respect for each other will be there – and when it isn’t there they will make sure that those who are out of line are brought into line immediately.

If the new council is truly new – citizens will be watching for this.

Without that civility and respect for each other the city is looking at four years of chaos.

The holdover from the council that is on the way out is Paul Sharman. Many found the man to be difficult to work with and at times seemed menacing to people who were delegating before council.

The Gazette has learned from a number of sources that Sharman is now reaching out in an effort to create bridges to the new members of Council. That is a good sign.

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward is going to need some of the skills Sharman has always had in matters of finance and organization. The problem is going to be the radically different ideological differences between the two.

Meed Ward election night 4

Gives a whole new meaning to Standing Room only.

Some will say that ideology should not be the issue – when that is precisely what the election last Monday was all about.

With a voter turnout of less than 40% – this new council is going to have to be transparent in a way that this city has never seen. They are certainly up to it and if the election promises were real – this is the kind of municipal world all of the newbies want to work in.

It is not going to be easy.

What the Gazette is watching for is the first few steps that Meed Ward takes as Mayor. If she can be seen as moving forward on several issues within the first 30 days and pulling the whole city together there is a chance that she can actually pull this off.

Meed Ward has time working for her. She get sworn in on December 3rd and begins budget deliberations on the 10th. She then has 12 days to make announcements, take positions before they all head off for the Christmas Holidays.

She has quite a bit of political capital but it doesn’t come from a very broad base. 60% of the population didn’t vote and while Meed Ward had a very convincing win over Rick Goldring and Mike Wallace it isn’t all that wide in terms of the population.

The Gazette’s early thinking on which of the three, Meed Ward, Goldring or Wallace would best serve the interests of those that were vocal – one can only guess what the complacent 60% had in mind – was that

Meed Ward was the best hope the city had.

MMW Mike and Goldring 2

Rick Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward and Mike Wallace debating on TVO’s Agenda

Her thumping the incumbent the way she did suggests that those who were focused and engaged felt she was the person to go with.

Thus we watch closely and carefully how Marianne Meed Ward re-directs the city she chose to live.
In an exclusive interview with Meed Ward before the ballot were cast she told the Gazette her role models were Hazel Mccallion and Bernie Saunders.

If she can focus on the best of both of them and convince her Council to follow her – it just might work.

It is the best hope we have.

Pepper - Gazette shirt - no smileSalt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Gazette.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 comments to She is the best hope we have – but that doesn’t mean she can walk on water. Meed Ward now has to demonstrate that she is the leader the city needs.

  • Penny

    Residents need to realize that no one “can walk on water”. Some things cannot be changed. This new Council can do its best on future development. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

  • Jim Barnett

    Very interesting. Hazel was no debt and Bernie is all debt. How can she follow both role models.

    • Shannon

      Mayor McCallion was definitely more business minded. She knew development was necessary but made sure her city was getting enough money through increased development charges to finance new infrastructure without debt. I hope our mayor-elect is willing to build the kinds of business relationships that will be needed to allow her to get a whole lot more from developers for our city without causing them to take their business right out of town–to places like Toronto, Milton, and Hamilton, where growth will be more welcomed.This is a real risk that a lot of people haven’t thought about. At a time when Burlington’s growth has actually been at historic lows, continued stagnation will have a serious impact on our tax bills and/or our municipal services.

      When Mississauga reached build-out, McCallion realized that all that sprawling growth was expensive to service and had created the need for a much better transit system, yet not enough density to support it. She learned from those mistakes, educated herself, evolved, and became an enthusiastic advocate of smart growth: increased density with compact development and rapid transit, She didn’t resist it to placate change-resistant residents. She knew the need was there, that planners knew their stuff, and that it was the right thing to do for a healthy, sustainable city. She recognized that the city needed to move forward even if public support wasn’t quite there yet. THAT’s real leadership, and in that sense, she would be a very good role model.

      • Stephen White

        Comparing Mississauga to Burlington’s experience isn’t exactly a fair comparison. Mississauga was an amalgamation of several disparate communities. When Hazel McCallion came to office the city was essentially a greenfield development. When the Square One area was developed, which is probably the closest thing Mississauga has to a “downtown”, it was essentially a cornfield. Burlington, on the other hand, was a pre-existing community with a downtown surrounded by well-established neighbourhoods. So, comparing their approaches to development doesn’t reflect the differences in their origins, history or development patterns.

        To characterize the issue of intensification as a debate between “change-resistant residents” vs. those favouring greater intensification is a bit simplistic. Everyone I have ever spoken to acknowledges the need for growth. That isn’t at issue. It is the scope, magnitude and scale of development that is at the heart of the matter. Miss the subtleties and you not only mischaracterize the discussion but you also lose the basis for reasonable compromise. Several incumbent and aspiring municipal politicians forgot lesson during the last election and ended up paying dearly for the oversight.

        Personally, I’d be more impressed if Burlington made a greater effort to attract newer businesses to the city and fewer developers. I was delighted to hear our new Mayor reference the criticality of business growth during her campaign. Maybe she can light a fire under the Burlington Economic Development Corporation who seem inordinately fixated upon Tech Place and hosting endless networking forums rather than achieving any measurable success in attracting major employers to relocate here. Given this City’s many advantages (e.g. educated labour force, available land, close to major transportation networks) it is astounding to me that we aren’t more successful in landing sizeable employers. That, I’m sure, would dramatically help our municipal tax base.

  • Tom Muir

    I can say that she has her work cut out for her.

    Last night I went to a developer organized Open House on a not yet officially applied for proposal to build a 6 story 162 unit condominium building at the end of Clearview Ave in Aldershot, next to the GO.

    MMW was the Council leader that organized Clearview area residents to appear at Committee and Council in July.

    At the decision meeting, MMW and the residents convinced a majority of Council to direct staff to change the proposed precinct density zoning for all of Clearview from 6 to 11 stories back to low density residential as part of the Grove-St Mathews neighborhood, which is one of the oldest in Aldershot.

    This includes single family, semidetached and street townhouses, topping out at 2 to 2 1/2 storeys.

    The developer knows about this Council direction to staff, and has been aware since the decision in July. Despite knowing this from pre-proposal consultation with staff, they have decided to proceed, at least to last night.

    Nonetheless, the proposal they presented last night is still for 6 storeys and 162 units. It requires OP and zoning amendments, that are likely major.

    I listened to some of them telling people that this area is in the Mobility Hub, and that is what they are basing this proposal on.

    I heard them tell several residents in a group that the amendments proposed on one of the poster board display panels are because of the Mobility Hub.

    When one of this group asked for confirmation that the amendments were due to the Mobility Hub, the answer was yes.

    I can say that I never heard a single happy voice cheering them on in the time we were there.

    This kind of conversation was all around us despite the fact that we have no approved Mobility Hub, and no approved new OP, and no approved new OP with approved Mobility Hub(s) inside.

    So the developer has to get the existing OP and zoning bylaws, which designates the area as low rise residential, as I noted, amended. I did not see the overall listing of all the amendments needed.

    My wife and I were there from 6:30 to 7:10. We did not see the Councilor-Elect Galbraith there, although some were expecting him, and I was hoping to meet him.

    Craven was there but we only saw him as we left.

    So here we have the game continuing. What can I say except it seems nothing has changed with the developer attitudes, despite Committee and Council directions to staff that arose from a MMW led residents contingent appearing and delegating.

    Like I stated at the start, the Mayor-Elect Marianne Meed Ward, and the new Council, have their work cut out for them.

    One thing the Mayor-Elect has stated several times is that this residential neighborhood must be taken out of the Mobility Hub. This will have to be a first order of business action.

    Once in office, we see what these folks are made of.