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The ward 6 debate takes place this evening - Lancaster, the incumbent will not attend.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

The following are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of Pepper Parr, publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

The second ECoB debate takes place in ward 6 this evening where there are three candidates; the incumbent Blair Lancaster, her strongest opponent in the 2014 race Angelo Bentivegna and Ken White a first time candidate.

The debate is to take place in the theatre in Hayden high school. Event starts at 7:00 pm with the doors opening at 6:30 pm

The event will be moderated by Deb Tymstra a popular Cogeco TV personality who has produced several programs and is a regular interviewer on The Issue.

Unfortunately, Lancaster has announced that she will not attend, because, she claims, the debate’s facilitator, is extremely biased. “While ECOB initially responded positively to my request to change the facilitator, they immediately went on to share information about my private correspondence with the Burlington Gazette—to discredit me and my concerns.   The Gazette then proceeded to write an article citing threats of violence against me. (The article Lancaster is concerned about are attached below.)

Lancaster, a two term member of city council was a member of the Shape Burlington report that was one of the attempt to get city staff and council to be more responsive to citizen concerns.  Lancaster did little to advocate for any real changes.

Considered part of the more reactionary wing of the current council Lancaster has a couple of achievements that need to be remembered. Her decision to work with ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward (she is now a candidate for the mayoralty) on saving the Freeman Station – they succeeded. The station is close to complete and is expected to be open to the public on a regular basis soon.

Were it not for the efforts of Lancaster and Meed Ward the Freeman station would be kindling burned in a fire place somewhere.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

Lancaster brought another significant issue before council during the current term. Lancaster realized that the city was losing a couple of the long term care facilities – the Mt. Nemo operation was moving to Hamilton –and there was no land available for new facilities.

With a growing seniors population there is going to be a desperate need at some time in the near future.

Lancaster thought that long term care facilities could be built on land that was zoned as Employment Lands. She argued that the patient staff/resident ratio made these facilities significant employers and as such could be built in the Employment Lands the city has.

She didn’t get the traction the idea deserved.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

She has a tendency to rely on Councillor Sharman, who sits next to her at council, for advice and direction.

She didn’t cover herself in glory on the air park matter. She was far too close to the owner of the Air Park at a time when the city was involved in expensive court proceedings

Lancaster can be scrappy at times and gets dramatic on occasion.

The evening she gave a demonstration on the use of Epi pens was a bit of a flop; the expert in the room politely told Lancaster that she wasn’t demonstrating the use of the pen properly..

Angelo Bentivegna came a close second to Lancaster in the 2014 election. There were 10 candidates in the race then. Lancaster took exception to the debate being sponsored by the Gazette. She has always had difficulty with media – it goes back to her days as a beauty queen.

To her credit she did tell the publisher of the Gazette after the debate that she thought the event was fair to all the candidates.

Bentivegna has done little since the 2014 election. In his campaign literature he said he “will create a ratepayers association in each community of ward 6 (Rural, Alton Village, Millcroft, and Headon Forest) to engage citizens in what’s happening in their area long before the ink dries!”

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Ward 6 candidate Angelo Bentivegna

There isn’t a reason in the world why B couldn’t have formed those association the day after the last election. Saying you are going to involve people and actually doing so are two different things.

The  Bentivegna family worked hard to make a wonderful contribution to the Joseph Brant hospital.

In December 2009, Diane, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor and began a regime of chemotherapy and radiation proved to be successful. The family wanted do something special to thank our physicians, nurses, caregivers and the hospital.  They decided to raise funds to purchase  State of the Art Digital Mammography unit with a Biopsy attachment.

The goal to reach was $450,000.00. In 2012 they raised $75,000.00. In 2013 they raised $101,000.00 plus $88,000.00 on a Bobby Orr autographed Bruins color Corvette.

In 2014 they raised the balance to achieve our goal: $450,000. The equipment was purchased,  delivered and installed at Joseph Brant Hospital in 2014.

Bee covers all the bases in his campaign literature – but other than delegating on the signage that was to be permitted by candidates for council seats the Gazette hasn’t seen much of him.

Budget public Angelo Benivenuto and Carol Gottlob

Angelo Bentivegna and Carol Gottlob at a 2015 city budget meeting.

He did appear at a presentation of a city budget one evening during a snow storm when there were more people at the ice pad next door than there were in the room the budget was being explained.

Bentivegna was available for media interviews during his 2014 campaign – he has chosen not to be interviewed by the Gazette this time around. That puts him in the same camp at Lancaster, Sharman and Dennison – not the right side of the political spectrum to be on in this campaign.

In his campaign literature Bentivegna lists his issues.  He includes the schools which has nothing to do with the city, as a former educator one would have thought he would know that.

Taxes: We need to focus on industrial and commercial opportunities to reduce the dependency on raising residential taxes. Taxes over the last two terms have been excessive to say the least…4.3% this past year alone! This council spends our money recklessly. They have demonstrated throughout their term of office that this trend will continue!

Our city is reactive, when it comes to compliance, as to who follows the rules and who doesn’t. Our city leaves a ton of money on the table…would you…I will work to recapture lost revenues!

Traffic: Every day I hear from our residents…Please help us move traffic around our city!Our roads get busier and busier each day, drive any major road north to south or west to east and vice versa. Intensification added to Ward 6 and to our city needs to be planned better! We need to incorporate with help from developers (community benefits..section 37) and resident input, solutions to move traffic flow smarter, easier, and timely…

The Transit System: Put Transit where the cars are!!!! Transit needs to be easy for users…needs to be frequent and reliable…needs to be simple to use, even if you are not a transit user! We need to develop a trust in the system…a trust the allows frequency, on time and reliable service when we need it! Let’s create a workable plan and work with our stakeholders to lure riders.

OP & Development: I am not against development, we need it to become sustainable and to attract people and Jobs to our city…What I am against is ” the “NEW” way we do business in our City. Our Official Plan & our Zoning Bylaws moving forward will not only act as guidelines, but they will now become targets for amendments! There was a time when an ‘amendment” was a change to fill a need that was somewhat minor or insignificant…now amendments are serious “ASKS”…10 stories to 17 stories…is that the “NEW NORMAL”.

Rural: We need to actively revisit our Official Plan to give our farmers and rural residents the tools that create flexibility to effectively manage their lands for the future. Together we can make this a positive economic issue in our City.

Seniors: In the next twenty years our senior population will double. We need to have more places for seniors to interact and stay connected in our City. We need to design all inclusive amenities that allow seniors to stay connected & comfortable with aging.

Our schools: How will our schools stay viable and at capacity in the future. What will happen to the school buildings that may struggle or lay empty. Now is the time to work cooperatively with our province, region, and school boards……City Council as a whole needs to voice a collective opinion. I said this during my last campaign in 2014 and we still need to pay attention to these issues looking forward.

Recreational Facilities: A need to re-examine how we can be more productive in our arenas, parks, gyms and libraries. We are not maximizing potential revenues from our City owned facilities. We have an opportunity to be creative in partnering with the private sector to find ways to increase revenues and reduce overhead.

ken-white-clicker-problem

Ken White delegating at city council.

Ken White is an Alton Village resident. He takes a very tough approach to what he thinks a new council will do.  He is for firing the city manager

Alton skating - two boys + dad

A Do it Yourself community hockey rink that White was instrumental in creating.

White has been active in his community – that involvement had him out late at night flooding a do-it-yourself hockey rink.

White, unfortunately, got himself on the wrong side of the city’s Heritage Advisory committee who found they had to send him a cease and desist letter when he was linking an idea he had for heritage fund raising to the Heritage Advisory web site.  At the time his wife was on the Board of that Advisory committee – hashtag awkward.

Among the issues he wants to promote:

Responsible development:
The future of our fine city is in our hands and right now Burlington is in crisis. The choices we make today will have far-reaching impact and it is critically important that every decision be thoroughly examined, well balanced and sustainable. We want growth, prosperity and advancement, but never at a reckless pace and never at the expense – or exclusive benefit – of any one stakeholder.

“I for one do not want to sit on the sidelines and watch as potentially poor decisions bring on deterioration of the services, lifestyle and values we currently embrace”, Ken explains. “I am committed to be part of the solution, where growth is measured, analyzed for the common good and always well planned.” Today, we are already well ahead of provincially mandated intensification goals. Accelerated high rise development without corresponding infrastructure improvement will be harmful in the long term and we will all pay through skyrocketing taxation.

Responsible development.

Every one of us is responsible for making sure that our voices are heard and our opinions considered.

We also expect prudence, fiscal restraint, transparency and accountability.

It is troubling to see that these expectations are not currently being met by our City. Burlington’s budget increases have averaged almost 4% a year since 2014. The City’s “human resource” cost is now $141,000 per employee. With the new Joseph Brant Museum being built at an incredible cost of $650 per square foot, the existing City Council has demonstrated a total lack of restraint or prudence.

As a financial executive, Ken finds these statistics an assault to the principles of his profession. That’s why he advocates changes that would help the City operate in a manner resembling a responsible, successful business – thereby holding the line on tax increases.

Consider just a few of ideas on his low-cost, high-impact slate:

Improve efficiency by appointing a City Manager who would receive a modest base salary supplemented by a variable compensation for meeting aggressive cost-cutting goals.

Engage an independent body to investigate where the City wastes money and where it performs well. The province’s Auditor General is very effective at keeping both politicians and government employees thinking twice before spending money on White Elephants.

The Joseph Brant Museum is being built at a cost of $650 per square foot. While I support a greatly expanded museum for a City of Burlington’s size the construction costs alone exceed the cost of buying a house in Millcroft at less than $500 per square foot including the land!

The time for accountability is now.

Every proposal for a zoning change, development project or building permit must receive the City’s approval. That stipulation gives City Council enormous influence.

Existing Council has failed to exert that influence to the benefit of our children’s education. Its unparalleled access to School Boards is an indirect lever to ensure responsible planning, yet Council has refused to voice their opinion or speak on behalf of their constituents. Even the City Manager was silent while he sat on the Halton District School Board’s Program Accommodation Review (PAR).

The HDSB has chosen to close two high schools with one just outside Ward 6. Frank Hayden High School in Alton Village has 16 portables while, 3.8 kms away, Lester B Pearson is being closed. School Board Trustees are voting favourably to build a new $23 Million Administration Centre. Councillor Meed Ward took her fight to Queen’s Park and won the right to keep Central High School open. The rest of Burlington Council, including Blair Lancaster, voted to NOT send a letter to the Provincial government to stop the closures of more schools.

Other municipalities in Ontario demand that their School Boards and developers provide a cogent plan with respect to where, how and how many children are going to be schooled when a building or subdivision is approved. Acceptable development demands intelligence.

Burlington needs to step up and take its zoning responsibilities seriously.

Deb Tymstra

Deb Tymstra will moderate the ward 6 debate

Those are the ward 6 candidates – two of them will be debating this evening.

Deb Tymstra will be moderating.

Related articles:

Defending dumb decision

Lancaster announces she won’t show up at the debate.

 

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4 comments to The ward 6 debate takes place this evening – Lancaster, the incumbent will not attend.

  • Marie

    Pepper, just a kindly intended suggestion: you need to do better with quotation marks and formatting to separate quotes from your words. It’s confusing to the reader when you write “Unfortunately, Lancaster has announced that she will not attend. because, she claims, the debate’s facilitator, whom I believe to be extremely biased.” The sentence begins with your words and appears to finish with Lancaster’s words, but there are no quote marks to indicate that.

  • Gord

    Why would they face residents, when they can hide and not be forced to attend a debate. Changes need to happen

  • Lynn Crosby

    Absolutely disgusting display by these incumbents. Complete disregard for their constituents and those who pay their salary! Then again, it’s not a surprise. We’ve seen time and again the disdain they show to citizens – heck, we have a city manager who threatened to sue the citizen group! Most cities would be proud to have an engaged group of residents like ECoB. What it really comes down to is Lancaster and Sharman et al. not wanting to face the residents and answer for their own actions and behaviour. Disrespectful and arrogant.