When will the Public Participation and Engagement in the Robert Bateman 'Adaptive Re-use' Project Take Place?

Jim Thomson

December 14th, 2022



In a presentation to council yesterday, in the Engagement Matters, there is no mention of there having been any public engagement or input into this project. Public engagement is something that is planned for later when it will be too late for the Citizens of Burlington to have their say on the project and the expenditure of $80 million dollars.

Jim Thomson: less than impressed with the way public engagement is taking place on the Bateman High School “adaptive reuse” project that is going to cost $70 million plus. Much of that will come out of the taxpayers pocket.

This is not in keeping with the Burlington Community Engagement Charter

There was no “Early and Widespread Notification” of the magnitude and scope of this project.

Well you now have a complete report isn’t it time to have a public information session to explain the project and allow the public to ask questions of staff.

There is plenty of time between now and when the actual price comes back to council for approval.

You have kept the public in the dark for over a year.

Time for Council to step up and ensure that “Engagement” actually happens on this project.

In addition to the Code of Good Governance the Corporate Policy is that ” the City of Burlington will engage stakeholders throughout the decision-making process which will be open, visible and transparent to the public.

It doesn’t say that stakeholders will be consulted later, it says throughout the process.

So it’s time to have real public engagement about this project.

Editor’s note: The city at times does not see the public as stakeholders; the school board, Brock University, the Library and Tech Place are seen as the stakeholders.

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6 comments to When will the Public Participation and Engagement in the Robert Bateman ‘Adaptive Re-use’ Project Take Place?

  • Penny Hersh

    I listened to Mr. Thomson’s delegation which also included asking what the cost would be to remove the Asbestos from Robert Bateman High School. He was told that he could not ask any questions, but the Mayor when permitted did ask this question on his behalf.

    The City Manager turned the question over to Allan Magi, Executive Director to answer after indicating that the cost was included, but never mentioning what this cost would be.

    Mr. Magi to his credit did 2 things he kept referring to the Asbestos as “Designated Substance”, and that the “Abatement of the Designated Substance would be done in the initial Stage. The second thing Mr Magi was able to do was to talk on and on but never mention the cost to remove this “designated substance”.

    There must be classes given to staff on how not to answer direct questions.

    Not one councillor listening to his response pushed for the answer. This could leave one to believe that they know the cost but are not prepared or permitted to share it with the public.

    After all, if indeed the public who will be paying for this project through taxpayer dollars is not considered to be a stakeholder why would they?

    • Joe Gaetan

      Given the word “asbestos” can refer to any of the following fibrous silicates, Actinolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Chrysotile, Crocidolite, and Tremolite; (“amiante”). One can see why “Designated Substance” was used.
      Kind of like saying “shower activity” versus its raining.

  • Jim Thomson

    News Flash
    The Mayor is looking forward to engaging the community on Bateman
    She says so on her website.

    Amazingly she only heard about the solution to the asbestos problem from staff at the Council Meeting on Tuesday.

    • Joe Gaetan

      Despite the fact that the word” asbestos” being referred to 7 times by the Integrity Commissioner in his April 8, 2022, report that was presumably read by all councillors and The Mayor, per below?
      [7] In particular, it was alleged that:
      The Councillor must have disclosed the presence of asbestos in the school, a fact which had only been discussed in closed session, as evidenced by comments made on social media by a family relation who could only have learned of it from the Councillor, as all discussion of the presence of asbestos in the building had been confidential;
      [49] Given that the presentation was made in public and addressed at least in some measure the issue of park space/green space associated with the project, Councillor Stolte’s remarks did not give rise to a breach of Rule 14, even if that topic had at some previous point been the subject of closed session deliberations.
      Disclosed Asbestos contamination as referenced by a family relation on social media
      [50] The Councillor has denied being a source of information for a posting on social media by a family member which spoke to the presence of asbestos at the Bateman High School.
      [51] She has advised that an eight-year old decommissioning report which is publicly available discloses the extensive degree of asbestos contamination at the school.
      [52] It is apparent that any Burlington resident closely following developments surrounding the Bateman High School would likely be aware of asbestos issues at the property, and there is no reason to believe the Councillor was the source of that information.
      [53] We find that the Councillor was not the source of the information referenced on social media about the asbestos contamination at the Bateman High School.

  • Perryb

    The public is definitely a stakeholder. Who pays the bills (taxes!)?

    • Taxpayers would no doubt unanimously agree Perry. The point made is the City are selective in who gets treated as stakeholders. We were in Chambers when Jim made his very to the point delegation that Council were out of order according to the Engagement Charter in terms of Burlington residents. His delegation could well have not happened for all the attention paid during the opportunity Council had to discuss the significant issue with their Governance process. Taxpayers need to make their voices known in large numbers that they find the Council attitude unacceptable. Problem with that is these Council members saw fit to make this very difficult for most to do with the abolition of evening Committee and afternoon Counncil meetings. Council will continue to treat us as they do – as a group that does not need to be considered – until we show them they got it wrong and Burlington taxpayer stakeholders will not be ignored.