Taylor talks to constituents – will run again – event almost like family gathering where local gossip gets shared.

November 21, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Each Council member has their own style and their unique relationship with the people who elect them to office.  They bring their personalities and their working style to what they do.  They all hold meeting in their wards and hope that someone will show up.

Councillor Meed Ward has a following; she comes close to filling a room with groups of people around tables working on issues of concern to them.

Others have difficulty attracting groups of more than five.  Councillor Dennison insists on holding his meetings at his place of business where there is a room with a fireplace and bowls of popcorn on the table

John Taylor pulled together a group of about 25 people at the Conservation Halton offices on Britannia Road Wednesday evening.  It was almost like a family gathering but then he has been representing them for more than 20 years.  We erroneously reported that the meeting was to have both Councillors Taylor and Lancaster taking part.  We regret that error and regret that there wasn’t an opportunity to hear what each Council member had to say about progress with the legal differences on the airpark and what their individual thinking was on the role an airpark plays in the development of north Burlington.

Ward 3 residents use the occasion to hear what John has to say and at the same time get caught up with their neighbours.  Rural life doesn’t have those places where people congregate naturally – given that a local Post Office is a thing of the past.  There probably isn’t a coffee shop north of Side road #1

It was interesting to observe how people from across the rural part of the city look to Taylor for comment.  People who are naturally in Ward 6, Lancaster territory, look to Taylor for comment and direction.

John Taylor, in the red shirt, always an attentive listener, sits with Councillor Lancaster on his left and General manager Scott Stewart on his right.

Taylor is not very big on agenda, he tends to roam from subject to subject and he often gets his facts mixed up.  But his constituents like him and they trust him.  You can observe that they realize he has been at the job for a long time and that perhaps another term is stretching his capacity, but they are loyal and unless there is someone they know well – Taylor is not in trouble politically.

Because Taylor doesn’t set out an agenda questions about anything and everything pop out.  The mail boxes on the side roads, the speeding problem on Side road # 1, the Britannia traffic that zooms towards Waterdown and, of course the pier and now the Airpark.

Taylor tells his constituents that the settlement of the pier dispute will go to mediation in January – and hinted that he expects a settlement. He stated he would insist the public get all the financial details. The observation deck on the pier we have yet to pay for completely has no cap on it – Taylor thought it looked like a champagne glass and liked it that way. The deck doesn’t have a wind turbine on it either but that wasn’t Taylor’s doing.

The city will get into mediation on the pier – because it has to.  A trial cannot be held unless mediation has taken place.  All the parties involved in this – and there are five of them, have basically completed the discovery portion of the deliberations.  Everyone now knows who did what when – and they now have to think through what their individual legal strategy should be.  Burlington is not in a strong position.  Mistakes were made – not by this Council but there are members of this Council who were around when the mistakes were made.  Meed Ward, Lancaster and Sharman were not members of Council when the really dumb decisions were made.  But they were there when there was an opportunity to resolve the design problems and complete the pier for far less than it eventually cost and they were there when a settlement opportunity was turned down.

Taylor and Dennison have to take responsibility for those early decisions. They were on Council in those heady days when the province and the federal governments were handing out money faster than it could be counted.  Everyone was excited and there were ideas flying around like balloons at a New Year’s Eve party.

Then reality took the bite it usually takes when the rubber hits the road – and we begin to see where staff, especially those in the Engineering department made some major errors.

Taylor would insist that the full cost to the city be part of the minutes of settlement and that the city publish those minutes.But all those details are stories for another day.  We are now in that reckoning stage – the settling up as it were and it is going to cost.  We asked Councillor Taylor what his position would be if there was a settlement that had a gag order attached to it.

Taylor responded that if the city found itself able to resolve the problems during the mediation stage he would insist that the full cost to the city be part of the minutes of settlement and that the city publish those minutes.

 Justice Fitzpatrick, the judge that will hear the case if it goes to trial,  is pushing all the parties on this case.  He wants them into mediation in January and our information is that no one appears to be against mediation – the problems have to do with dates.  Everyone has to be in the room when the mediation takes place.  The issue seems to be one of getting all the calendars to work together rather than one of attitude and the dragging of heals.

Burlington’s city council would like this out of the way well before the civic election next October.  It is going to cost the city and the political objective is now – get it out of the way before campaigning gets serious.  Each candidate will create their own smoke screen to keep the smell away from them.  Stay tuned on this one.

Were it not for the strong delegations Vanessa Warren made to both city and Regional Council there would probably be trucks running along Appleby Line with loads of landfill from who knows where with who knows what in the fill. Warren will become a member of the Burlington Green board this evening – she will not be a candidate for the Ward 3 seat in the 2014 municipal election

Vanessa Warren, who lives over on Bell School Line, showed up and we learned that she will not be a candidate for the Ward 6 seat in 2014; part of the reason for that is there are two other possibilities for someone to run against Blair Lancaster.  One will announce sometime in December, the other is meeting with various people and sounding out her potential.

The first is working through a number of family concerns with his wife – serving as a council member means big changes in the way a family lives its life. 

The second candidate lives in the Alton community which is seen by many as key for a win in Ward 6.  Both potential candidates are focused on their being just one person who runs against Lancaster, they do not want to split the vote.  Mark Carr will not be running in Ward 6 in 2014.  With much deep unhappiness with the way city staff and council handled the Air Park matter before Warren formed her Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition, the community wants to see some accountability.  They would also very much like to see more room between Councillor Lancaster and the president of the Airpark Vince Rossi.

Taylor believes the city is in a good position on the Airpark matter however he didn’t talk much about what should happen with the Airpark long term

Taylor explained the changes that are taking place at the Economic Development Corporation where the Executive Director was asked to leave and the “good times” board of directors is being replaced with a much smaller board that will focus on bring new corporations to the city that will hire local people.  Taylor was of the view that Burlington economic development went nowhere for the last ten years while other communities “ate our lunch”.  Ron Witton, a builder, raised his voice and said – no not so – the reason no one wants to build in Burlington is because of the development charges are close to the highest in the GTA.  Taylor’s explanation for that was a little on the weak side.

Dundas is eventually going to become a six lane road; Burlington’s population is projected to reach 190, 000 + by 2013 and a lot more people are going to be using public transit.

What is interesting to observe is that while meeting as Standing committees and as a Council the level of detail one hears at the media table is quite a bit different from what one hears at a community meeting.  Part of that is because Taylor has been around for so long he has a much deeper understanding of the issues – there is something to be said for longevity.

Ownership of the Regional roads: Guelph and Appleby stretches as far south as lakeshore. City has to pay for the upkeep – and it ain’t cheap.

He explains that many of the major roads are Regional property and gave Appleby and Guelph as examples – however the ownership, and therefore the responsibility to maintain them stops at Mainway and only recently has the ownership extended to south of Fairview.  Those are major roads and they require a lot of upkeep and maintenance  – which the Region pays for.  If the ownership of those roads extended all the way down to Lakeshore there would be a considerable savings for the city but Taylor contends that there are “powers in the Burlington core that don’t want the Region messing around with those roads”.  Is Taylor talking about special interests?

The average driver stuck in traffic on Guelph Line who has to wait for two cycles of the traffic light to be able to make a left on Fairview doesn’t care a hoot who owns the road – the just want the traffic to move.  This two tier level of government makes things complex and most people know next to nothing about what the upper tier- the Region does for them, or more importantly,  to them.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 comments to Taylor talks to constituents – will run again – event almost like family gathering where local gossip gets shared.

  • parrking

    1) Privatize everything… i.e. PPP or sell off non performing assets, resources, land buildings etc
    Lease back or privatize bus transportation (why do we have such large busses with no one on them ? would not smaller ones do?
    or, sub contract with the school boards to use them for school busses, ( we get 5 different school busses on our street every day )
    Hamilton has just leased the running of its performing art ctr to a professional company for the next 5 years, could we not do the same?

    2) Cut back / downsize/right size city hall, as you said , service levels
    have to decline.

    3) Partner or sub contract to the region our building and planning dept’s …if in fact we are slowing , we should not need the same amount of staff and resources to support a slow growth / no growth environment as we have over the last decade, so out sourcing or downsizing is needed. (see item 2)

    4) Use volunteers: Burlington has a large and dedicated group willing to get involved. The hospital proudly states that their volunteer organization saves them the cost of 43 full time equivalents each and every year .
    Explore the use of a ” volunteer core” for everything from Parks maintenance , library, to economic development ,and while on BEDC, if we have land available and others don’t, they will be beating a path to our door , so its just a matter of time until others are built out and they want to come here because of the local work force ,assuming they can move goods along the parking lot that is the QEW.

    5) Partner with the Region: Years ago the province “amalgamated” cities into regions, we need a “sugar daddy” to fund our programs and that’s the region , so as per your suggestion, “up load” our costs and services to the larger entity that is enjoying the revenues from fast growth areas like Milton

    6) “E” everything : go online for every service possible . private enterprise did and the city needs to follow . In person should be the exception and cost more than doing it on line .

    Not sure if that helps or contains anything you haven’t already considered.
    Again , thanks for asking and sharing the info.
    I think you do a great job and we are lucky to have you minding the store!

  • Stephanie Cooper-Smyth

    To paraphrase and reiterate what a very clever poster on this site said months ago here: “A piece of wood would be a better Councillor to the constituents in Ward 6 than Lancaster”.

    • Carol Jamieson

      ….a piece of wood, a toad, skunk, a big bag of hammers, compost, illegal fill,..anything but a Lancaster!

  • Laura durrant

    At least he is Honest, fair and speaks FOR his constituents unlike several other council members INCLUDING the fence sitting mayor!!! Craven and Lancaster and Goldring need to GO!!!!

    • Carol Jamieson

      What good is it being honest, if you have become ineffective in keeping up with what all the issues affecting this city? Goldring needs more legal opinions to figure out the fence thing; Lancaster is dangerous because she has no abilities to do her job. Craven probably could use some time off also.

  • Carol Jamieson

    Taylor may be a nice man and a good ol’ boy. But, in these modern times, we need council representation that is a bit more knowledgeable about economics, business development, and real estate matters. Taylor has never left the city for over 20 years to truly gain an understanding about how transportation infrastructure, intensification, and economics interplay with one another. Burlington is full of commuters who suffer the transportation challenges; Taylor has probably never had to commute to work. He also has little knowledge about development; not his fault since he has never had the experience or exposure to real business dealings in this city. He doesn’t get it anymore, and this city is moving faster than ever before. We really could use some fresh blood to support the economic development activity in this city. Taylor should do the right thing and exit with a relatively decent reputation before he gets chewed up and spit out over the next four year term.

    • Concerned About Burlington

      Fresh Blood – do you want another Lancaster! Careful what you wish for!

      • Carol Jamieson

        ….simply wishing for some brain power. I’m talking about someone with diverse political and business experience and/or senses. Lancaster has no qualifications, even from a fresh blood perspective.

        • Councillor John Taylor

          Just for the record my university career in science included several courses in economics and I graduated with first class honours and a full National Research Council Scholarship to purse my Doctorate. I decided to pursue a business career and for the next 24 years had a diversified business management career with two well known Fortune 500 companies. And yes, I commuted from Burlington all of those 24 years.

          • Carol Jamieson

            Wow John, you were a good student completing some assignments and multiple choice questions for an obsolete economics course in 1968. Commuting between years 1970 and 1994 was different than now; you could actually use the QEW back then; slightly different now. Try putting your education onto a resume today for a fortune 500 company.

            As a self-esteemed economics major you can easily reference economics 101 where it says that an efficient movement of goods and people is fundamental to the health and strength of the economy. Yet, you refuse to support the extension of 407 through north Burlington in exchange for the preservation of the fantasy agricultural industry.

            You really have no experience in business development, real estate development, and economic development, because you have been a councillor for 20 past years. This city is suffering from stagnation, and you will be making excuses as to why the next tax increase of 5%-10% is justifiable.

            Step aside John, and let some fresh brains take a hold of development of business in this city, including transportation infrastructure, Section 37 benefits, intensification, sound planning, more efficient and smaller government and zero tax increases.

            Your generation’s participation in the application of age friendly keynesian economics clearly has not worked, and we are all paying for it.

            My property tax bill cares little about your education. Respect the concept of term limits John, this is no longer about you. Step aside, its time.

  • Concerned about Burlington

    Hopefully, someone will run against Blair Lancaster, Rick Goldring and Rick Craven!

  • Mary Bozelli

    A little light on facts and insights.
    More than that running in w6. Then again, do you really know who the political strategists are who live in Burlington?
    Probably not.
    Editors note: This suggests there are others interested in the ward seat. Are there that many people who think the sitting member is that vulnerable?
    The sender of this email used a false address – that tells you something doesn’t it?