Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns meets with constituents in a live, socially-distanced meeting

By Pepper Parr

September 23rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We saw the first occasion where a ward councillor met with constituents both virtually and in person last night.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns met with her community on Facebook live while at the same time talking to small audience at the Art Gallery.

There were just 8 people in the room – it was pouring rain which tends to keep people at home. Those in the room had solid questions – the most pressing being traffic.

Lisa Kearns, Ward 2 Councillor

Several referred to the 20 to 30 storey towers in various stages of development – from pre-application to a crane on the site that would be dumping hundreds of cars on the streets in a city that already has serious traffic problem.

Kearns opened her meeting saying that real people in the room was essential if city council is to get the feel of what people think. The body language and the buzz when people are together is essential and we “are not getting that right now” said Kearns.

What was surprising to the eight people in the room was the sense that it was really nice to meet with people you know but haven’t seen for a long time. The Councillors’ administrative assistant responded to someone who said: “ I haven’t seen you for a while – answering “actually it has been years” – which was so true.

More on that in a separate story – city council is struggling with a decision on when to open things up. The Mayor seems quite content with the way things are, telling people that the public gets more work out of her when she can work from home. Councillor Galbraith seems to like the idea of working from home as does Councilor Nisan who is able to do his fathering thing and take part in virtual meetings at the same time.

The number of cars on the streets was not the only traffic related complaint – vehicle mufflers have become such a nuisance that the Regional police have assigned two officers to patrol the streets – they have issued 1400 tickets so far.

Traffic on Lakeshore reduced to one lane during an event. With the development of several high rise towers traffic will be much worse than this.

Kearns told her audience that there are no plans to make Lakeshore Road any wider than it is – it is really quite narrow in several places.

With the Bridgewater development now completed and units filling up – traffic from that building’s garage empties into Elizabeth Street which feeds directly onto Lakeshore Road.

While the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment is just at the pre-application stage traffic from the four levels of parking in that building will also empty onto Elizabeth. The total number of vehicles from the two developments will exceed more than 1000 that have to feed into Lakeshore Road.

THAT is a traffic jam.

When we talk to politicians as they meet with their constituents the inevitable question is – will you be running in the next election which is just over a year away. One can see individual council members setting themselves up to run for re-election.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and Ward 3 councillor Nisan as well as ward 4 Councillor Stolte will be running again.
Councillor Kearns has been coy – not saying yes and not saying no.

There is at least one person preparing to run against her. Given the level of indecisiveness over accepting a request to run for the Liberal seat in the Legislature and then withdrawing the moment another candidate jumped in – one can wonder – is Kearns really committed to the job? More on that at another time.

This event, the formation of ECoB, was what launched the Kearns campaign. She has advised colleagues (but not the media) that she intends to run again.

Asked about the budget this council is going to have to approve in the coming months – before year-end if they stay on course – Kearns was not prepared to say just how high a tax increase she will support.

There is little doubt that there will be a tax increase – how high? Was a 6% increase over last year acceptable to Kearns ? She didn’t have a comment.

What we did learn however was that Lisa Kearns is now a Celebrity – having been on Breakfast TV and noticed by people as she walked the streets of the city. A minor celebrity but a celebrity nevertheless. Kearns did not say that anyone has yet to ask for her autograph.

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4 comments to Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns meets with constituents in a live, socially-distanced meeting

  • Cathy

    David Barker is asking the right questions.

    I’m sure there was a collective eye-roll with the over-the-top *celebrity* comment.

    I know of a few Ward 2 residents who are not so enchanted. One comment I’ve heard: “she is the best councilor St. Luke’s has ever had, but ignores the rest of Ward 2”.

    Another stopped going to her meetings because she does all the talking, rarely soliciting input from residents.

  • David Barker

    It would have been nice to have had in this “news report” of the Ward 2 meeting sum actual substance as to what Councilor Kearns had to say both in her opening statement and in her answers to questions from the floor. For example was the proposed holiday market discussed? What is the Councilor’s position or those of attendees?

    Editor’s note: In due course David. There are only so many hours in the day and unlike you I was in the room and had to drive home in blinding rain while you sat warm and dry in front of your TV set.

    • David Barker

      Yeah well poor you. I guess that is the life of a reporter. Though you had the opportunity to participate via Zoom. Sorry no tears here for you. LOL.

      I though was not watching telly. I was participating in the monthly Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee meeting. It’s a pity those meetings are never covered by the Gazette. I would have loved to have attended Councilor Kearns’ meeting. Just not possible. Hence the interest to get some substantive reporting of that event.

      Editor’s note: WE are interested in just what you do at the Heritage meetings and wondering how, or if recused yourself on a matter that came before the committee. Can we follow up with yo on that – soon?

  • John Purkis

    Many of the folks I have spoken to would like to see the council members back in their council chamber.

    When the restaurants opened for indoor dining, the Mayor was quick to post a picture of she and her husband dining indoors. I’m sure several of the other council members have also enjoyed this dining experience, so I have trouble understanding why they are hesitant to sit in a large council chamber with social distancing in place.

    It is time for these folks to seriously focus on the business at hand and deal with the many difficult issues facing the city. As someone who watches many of the virtual council meetings, my sense is that some councilors are much more engaged then others, in the ongoing discussions.

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