The old order changes ....

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2018



The old order changeth.

This evening a new city council will be sworn in: five of the seven member council will not be returning – two retired and three were defeated.

Burlington City Council Group

Just two left standing

We can’t find anyone who remembers seeing anything like this in Burlington’s history.

The Mayor was defeated, replaced by ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

Councillors Dennison and Lancaster were also defeated.

Councillors Craven and Taylor retired.

Two issues dominated the election: the approving of an Official Plan that did not have wide public support and the demand for a change in the way city council engaged the public – failed to effectively respect people who delegated at city council is a better way to put it – and the lack of acceptable public engagement.

The distance between council and staff and the public made itself painfully evident in the remarks made at the final meeting of the current city council when Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner commented on the outgoing council and its working relationship with Staff.

City Manager James Ridge was absent.

Tanner spoke of the excellent, professional way that Staff and Council were able to work together. Saying a strong positive relationship existed doesn’t mean it did.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

Plains Road; an old suburban highway transitions into a vibrant urban main street.

The contribution made by Councillors Craven and Taylor deserve comment: Plains Road is a different place today than it was when Rick Craven was first elected. And the developments taking place in the community are an improvement over what was in place when he got there.

Craven didn’t have the best of relationships with sectors of his ward; the Beachway people wish he had never been elected. A number of people don’t think he understood the mix that was needed along Plans Road.
He could never come to terms with Marianne Meed Ward who ran against him in ward 1 – he prevailed and Meed Ward moved into ward 2.

There is the suggestion that Rick Craven just could not live with the idea that he would have to work with Meed Ward on her terms. Some have suggested that is a large part of why he chose not to run for another term. Had he run he would have taken more than 50% of the votes.

The piece that he wrote and made public about Meed Ward was regrettable.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMAster jacket would ward off some negative comment. Don't think it did - every member of Council had their ears bent by the 125 people who showed up at the Mainway Arena SAturday afternoon.

Councillor Craven may have felt his McMaster jacket would ward off some negative comment.

There will be more tall buildings but nothing any higher than the Drewlo Development that lost its building permit for a period of time when the played fast and loose with the development that had been approved.
Developers found they could work with Rick Craven. Did he compromise himself in doing so. One would be very hard pressed to point to anything that was just plain wrong in the ward.

Craven was tireless in his efforts to make sure that Aldershot was not forgotten. He has superb relationships with Staff.

He was the best chair of a Standing Committee this city has seen in some time. Yes, he was abrupt even dismissive at times but he kept the agenda going.

Publicly there was nothing touchy feely about Tick Craven. All business.

Privately he could be a funny.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

More candidate than Craven could manage? Sandra Pupatello on a trip through town looking for local support for her Liberal leadership bid. Craven was prepared to let the party romance him.

He once told this reporter as we sat outside the Council Chamber at Conservation Halton that he had thought about running for Mayor.

He took a serious look at running for the provincial seat as a Liberal. Sandra Pupatello was a little too much for his taste.

Craven was usually able to take the long view and see the bigger picture – where he fell short was in explaining that bigger picture to people.

Craven is now, officially, a senior citizen. He isn’t going to sit at home and read old city council agendas. He will be a valued observer and hopefully he will tune in with comments from time to time.

There has been word that he will join one of the development organizations in the province.


Taylor was always a careful listener

John Taylor, the Dean of City Council, found that the job was getting harder and harder to do. Keeping up was proving difficult and he had the strength to realize that it was time to move on. For John Taylor the moving on is not going to be as smooth.

He will miss the people at city hall; his job as a Councillor was his life.

He was one of the true liberal voices on council and always went more than the last mile to solve a problem for a constituent.

He was probably working the telephones in the forenoon while his assistant packed up his papers for him.

Taylor wants to stay involved, has his eye on a specific appointment that he will get.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

If the public was in the room – so was John Taylor – listening carefully.

He has a huge store of knowledge, he was there when the big decisions were made.

He could be cranky at times but for the most part he was genial, available and he cared.

He worked for the rural people in the North West side of the city. The provincial plans for a highway that would run through Kilbride and Lowville was not going to happen while John was the ward 3 council member.

He was the rural voice on council. His constituents loved him; community meetings in his ward were more like family get togethers.

The three members of council that were defeated at the ballot box had failed to connect with the public. Rick Goldring just didn’t hear what the vocal groups had to say. He will never be forgiven for selling that part of the waterfront between Market and St. Paul Street.

Dennison - second house

The house on the right was built when Jack Dennison to an appeal to a Committee of Adjustment decision to the Ontario Municipal Board and won.

Blair Lancaster should perhaps not have run; health issues were making it difficult for her to do the job.

Jack Dennison was able to stay in office because the number of voters on the ballot allowed him to split the vote. This time there was just the one candidate running against him and she did very well.

The house that Dennison built on the severed piece of the Lakeshore Road is up for sale; the house next door with the historical designation has been rented.

In his closing remarks Dennison said: “See you around”. Wonder where he will live?

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6 comments to The old order changes ….

  • D.Duck

    But, Ward One electorates kept re-electing him back into office.

    Just saying……….so what does that mean?

    I’m Ward One, and even with all his obvious negative character traits, personal interactions and possible innuendos about Mr. Craven……..I believe if he ran, he would have succeeded in capturing the Ward One nomination again. Go Figure!! Now he will be a tax-paying delegate who will demand his appointed council minutes with guns firing. Guess at whom??

    This makes me wonder about constituents thought processes. I guess we will see what happens in 2020 for Trumps re-election.

  • Roger

    “City Manager James Ridge was absent.” – hopefully a trend that continues to the unemployment line

  • Tom Muir


    Please spare us an uninformed and biased praise of Craven.

    I can’t bear this without a gag response and comment. The thing that Craven mostly brought to the Ward is condos and the possible promise of more. That’s of new stuff, but much was lost.

    Check a latest print newsletter outlining all the projects that are the source of his pride.

    You did not have to deal directly with his closed style and arrogance for an 18 year tenure.

    Under his watch, Plains Rd has been basically de-commercialized, walk-to grocery stores all closed save one, far from Aldershot center, and turned into condos, and shoe box hair parlors, tattoo parlors, spas, and the like. More of this waits in the wings.

    He stood aside as all this was done – no visible effort can be seen to replace what was lost with the planning tools available. He called it all business decisions, so too bad for displaced existing business who were his residents.

    He actively encouraged over-development, scorned resident concerns, and was called out for this at meetings where the noise and rancor almost led to meeting closure by the planners there.

    He served only his own agenda, in his own name as a Councilor who was a self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent and stone-walling man. He had no qualms about misleading residents with untrue statements in order to support his development wants.

    He never missed a chance to spear MMW because she said no to his wants, and engaged openly with citizens. I heard him to personally and maliciously denigrate her several times for no other reason than her being who she is.

    How many times did you point this malice out in your observations of Council meetings?

    Craven wanted as little time with citizens speaking to issues as he could get. Just check the Procedural by-laws crafted with his hand, or with failed attempts to reduce Committee delegation time, and you can see how he worked at this.

    It was MMW that alerted citizens to this attempt, and he did not like her for this either.

    You call him the procedural expert, but he used it to his advantage.

    I could go on and on at length tracing back on my long paper trail of trying to deal with him and get some representation. It never happened, and I really don’t like having to recount it here to rebut your praise of the man.

    He had the base resident votes and he knew it, and so he had the power that was unaccountable. He used it with glee.

    Now we are hoping we can put a lid to his most egregious deeds that you seem to consider accomplishments – maybe yes, but only for his landowner and developer friends acquired over the years.

    Thank God he retired. I don’t know how I could have endured 4 more years.

    • Phllip Wooster

      Thank-you for this realistic appraisal of who Rick Craven really was. Just another councillor, along with Jack Dennison, who represented themselves and their own special interests. This City will not miss them.

    • Stephen White

      Definitely one of your better postings Tom!

      Aldershot used to have some character, quaintness and charm. Now it is nothing but an amorphous sea of condos….bland, stale, grey pillars that are a testament to a lack of architectural imagination, mundanity and uniformity. Councillor Craven’s so-called “legacy” will likely result in Ward 1 residents cleaning up the detritus he leaves behind. Hopefully, the new Mayor will plant lots of trees to obscure the ugliness that is now Plains Road.

      As they say “Don’t let the door hit you in the behind as you are leaving”.

    • D Walker

      Craven had the opportunity to retire with grace, but he chose to use his final turn at the soapbox to speak unprofessionally about our new (and clearly very welcomed) Mayor. I’m convinced that his views and actions on development in Aldershot would have been significantly different if he actually lived where the bulk of the change was occurring. It’s easy to shout down at people’s concerns when your own neighbourhood goes untouched.

      His paternalistic style of “leadership” will not be missed.