We lost John Boich 13 years ago

By Pepper Parr

March 15th, 2024



It has been 13 years – yet I can still hear him bellow: “Ya think?”

Boich passed away on March 15, 2011.

The Gazette would not have been started were it not for John.

John Boich dressed for Canada Day.

I met him at an early campaign meeting when Marianne Meed Ward had decided to run for the ward 2 Council seat.  He was sitting to my right; one of us said something about the Habs and that was it.  From that point on we talked every couple of days.

John had a very tight relationship with then Mayor Cam Jackson.

At the time John was involved with David Auger and his efforts to get a radio station operating in Burlington.  At one point the station was going to be located in the Freeman Station building that was still looking for a home.  No one wanted the building – the city couldn’t even sell it for scrap wood.

John was having difficulty getting a business plan out of Auger.  During our frequent walks; John and Arlene had three shiatsu’s that had to be walked a couple of times a day.

John Boich with the little sweetheart who lived across the street.

During one of those walks I had said to John that the business plan he wanted could be written on the back of an envelope.  Saying that was a mistake. Boich said “then do it”.

When I began to think about a radio station, I knew that it wasn’t possible.  You need a license from the CRTC and convincing them to issue a license was close to impossible.  The CRTC does issue local permits, usually to universities: McMaster has one.

At the time the Shape Burlington report was about to be released.  It was a document that shook up city hall. Several of the General Managers (at the time that was the title for what are now Executive Directors) wanted the document withdrawn and changes made before it was made public.

The report was written by John Boich and Walter Mulkewich. They were given the task by Cam Jackson.

It was accepted and endorsed by Council unanimously. A link to the report is HERE I doubt that the city has a copy of the document – even in their archives.

From the Shape Report:

Transforming the culture at City Hall – City Hall must reinvent itself.

As social, technological and demographic trends alter the face of every community, municipal governments are struggling to adapt their long-established practices to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving new world.

Burlington is experiencing a period of rapid growth and change. Citizens are more literate, more educated and more connected than ever before. They are also busier, more distracted and require more from those who represent them, develop the policies and provide the services in their community.

Engagement: Transform the City Hall culture to promote active citizenship and civic engagement

Promoting active citizen engagement and meaningful public dialogue requires a culture shift at City Hall. A crucial first step is the development an Engagement Charter – a plain language policy document developed with public involvement that incorporates benchmarks and accountabilities, and describes the value, purpose and opportunities for citizens to influence city policies.

The charter would explain how to navigate City Hall and its services. It should stipulate best practices for various kinds of public consultation and affirm the city’s commitment to inform citizens and respond to their ideas and contributions. It would address the question of reaching out to a diverse population.

The sorry story of the Engagement Charter is HERE

Plus ça change.

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4 comments to We lost John Boich 13 years ago

  • Joe Gaetan

    How fitting that the “Shape Burlington Report” dated April 2010 that addressed the size of council is being looked into 14 years later.

    Burlington now has a population of 186,948 and 7 members of council, 43% of whom reside in Ward 2.

    We can save ourselves $200,000 to study the issue, by simply dividing our current population by 20,000 people resulting in the need for a 9-member council.

    Given people have the right to live where they wish we may want to question why we need a Ward system versus an at-large-system.

    Finally, there is the matter of how we address regional representation, doubling the size of council is not the answer.

    In any event, many thanks to John Boich (R.I.P) and Walter Mulkewich (R.I.P) whose report to this day continues to inform and carry weight.

    Below is an excerpt from the “Shape Burlington Report” on the size of council.

    “Governance – size of Council
    There was a widespread view that the size of Council should be re-visited. Many citizens felt that Council members were too overburdened to make good policy decisions or be able to respond as well as they should to public demands for input and service. However, Council has been the same size for 13 years and it appears that only in the past few years has the concern about its size become a major factor. So are other factors at play? There were some suggestions that the issue is not so much size as one of establishing better standards, measurements, and process for accountability. There were some suggestions that Council members need not spend as much time on service issues and they should restrict their time and efforts to focus on policy directions and major issues, and show greater trust in City staff to do their job.”

  • Penny

    So,”It was accepted and endorsed by Council unanimously. ” don’t think much has changed.

    It’s one thing to accept and endorse, it’s quite another to implement the changes needed.

    Seems it was simply another report that is sitting on a shelf getting dusty.

  • Grahame

    Always wondered why a school was named for him.

    • Tom Muir

      On Google it says;
      John Boich was a former teacher, principal, and Halton District School Board superintendent (1972-79), who dedicated his career to education.

      He was real.