Who is ECoB - and why do three members of council put in so much time ridiculing a citizens group ?

council 100x100By Staff

September 10th, 2018



There are people out there who are doing their darndest to scupper the candidate debates that ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington have organized in all six wards and a debate for those running for Mayor.

The three city council incumbents seeking re-election: Councillors Sharman, Dennison and Lancaster have said publicly that they will not be taking part in the debates – because they don’t see ECoB as credible.

We asked Engaged Citizens of Burlington ( ECoB). Who are you? What are the organization’s objectives, and what is the role you feel you play in Burlington?

These are the questions that some have been asking.

Here is the response we got:

Engaged Citizens of Burlington ( ECoB) was formed in November 2107 by a group of citizens who were concerned about the approval of the development application for a 24 storey condominium at 421 Brant Street. With donations received at that initial meeting we were able to incorporate as a not for profit.

ECOB logo

While the city talked about Engagement – a group of citizens formed an organization and invited others to take part. Close to 100 people showed up on a winter’s night to listen – and donated enough money to let them incorporate and organize election debates.

ECoB , a totally volunteer organization, could not have accomplished anything without the continued help and guidance of loyal supporters.

The objects for which the corporation is incorporated are:

a) To advance the rights and interests of citizens of the City of Burlington, Ontario by engaging and informing those citizens in affairs which concern and affect them.

b) To enhance communications and access to information for citizens of the City of Burlington, Ontario by collecting and disseminating information on topics which concern and affect them.

c) To liaise with other non-profit community groups and associations, government and governmental agencies and organizations in encouraging citizens of the City of Burlington to participate in community decision-making.

The special provisions are:

The corporation shall be carried on without the purpose of gain for its members, and any profits or other accretions to the corporation shall be used in promoting its objects.

People who are leery about ECoB ask: why isn’t there information on their Facebook page?

The person who handles the Facebook page has been away.

The twitter account was suspended by ECoB when the password for the account was in the hands of a member of the Board who had resigned. That password is being recovered and our understanding is that ECoB will begin tweeting again soon.

ECoB’s : Accomplishments:

– Held public meetings to encourage public engagement.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

People interested in running for office attending an ECoB event.

– Held a forum for residents considering running in the Municipal Election.

– Met with the Downtown BIA.

– Met with the Chamber of Commerce.

– Met with staff of the Planning Department, The Transit Department and some of the ward councilors to bring the issues of the residents with regard to intensification in the downtown core.

Ecob model #2

People delegating at a city council meeting asked if staff could provide some kind of a drawing showing where these new high rise buildings were going to be located and how they measured up against what the city looks like now. Staff said they couldn’t do that – so the ECoB people made up a to scale model using Lego blocks. It was a creative solution to a simple, reasonable request.

– Built to scale a 3D Lego Model to show the impact of the approved and proposed buildings on Brant/James Street.

– Held a rally at City Hall to show citizen support for not adopting a New Official Plan until crucial studies, i.e. transit, transportation had been completed.
– Delegated at City Hall.

The comments above came from ECoB – they are well aware of their shortcomings

ECoB’s Failures:

We failed to proceed with an appeal to LPAT with regard to the approved development of 421 Brant Street.

ECoB came to realize that citizen engagement has to start at the beginning of the application process not when a report is brought to Council to approve. Delegation should be the last avenue of engagement not the first.

Citizen Engagement in Burlington has been an issue for many years. In 2010 Shape Burlington, a committee that was headed up by John Boich and Walter Mulkewich brought forward a report to re-shape the way citizens interact with elected officials and staff. Unfortunately this report seems to have been put on a shelf and ignored.

ECoB takes the recommendations that came from Shape Burlington as a cornerstone for Citizen Engagement. The ward candidate debates were organized with that in mind. The purpose of these debates is to inform not to influence.

There are many residents of Burlington that are presently working diligently to help candidates with their campaigns who feel strongly about citizen engagement.

ECoB will be approaching them to join with the object of forming independent ward level advisory groups. These groups would work with staff not only when a planning application comes into the city, but also on an ongoing basis to provide a voice for the residents.

ECoB was formed to fulfill the promise that members of the current council has been talking about for the past eight years. Now that those members of Council have to “walk their talk” they have chosen to avoid having to stand before their constituents and be truly accountable and engaged.

The irony of all this is that two of the three; Lancaster and Sharman were members of the Shape Burlington committee.



The Shape Burlington Report.

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6 comments to Who is ECoB – and why do three members of council put in so much time ridiculing a citizens group ?

  • Philip Waggett

    The bottom line–Dennison, Sharman, and Lancaster don’t like ACCOUNTABILITY for their dismal records on council. Choosing not to participate is a gutless cop-out!

  • Tom Muir

    The only people who are not “credible” are these three not so artful dodgers.

    It’s just unbelievable made-up CRAP coming out of their mouths.

    The issue is not ECoB, but their fear of facing the voters, and opponent candidates, to answer for their deeds as Councilors.

    It clearly shows them behaving in a non-transparent, and non-accountable way.

    In the way they are accused of by some significant number of citizens for what is really the first time, but that they deny. Based on this evasion performance such a denial is laughable.

    And now they are trying to project the blame for this on ECoB, and are stiffing the voters to boot.

    I must say, I have always tried to be respectful to these people, but this performance clearly shows my respect was misplaced.

    I would not have expected such an opportunistic failure of trust, and democratic norms as this.

    It smacks to me of a failure of fiduciary duty – the duty and obligation to provide answers to the questions that citizens and voters have about how you have performed and what you have done.

    It’s also known as accountability, the duty to explain yourself publicly.

    What are you afraid of and what do you have to hide?

    Shame on you all.

  • Stephen White

    If candidates choose not to participate in a public forum based on who the sponsor is then I suppose that is their prerogative. By avoiding an opportunity to engage with the public they sacrifice a chance to explain their platform, rationalize their decisions or generally inform. That is their loss.

    However, please don’t turn around and then castigate the hosting organization or those in attendance that they are somehow misinformed, misguided, or have misrepresented or ill-informed positions on issues. An election is about “give and take”. If you don’t give…information, data, ideas… then don’t expect us to take (i.e. your feedback and perspective). By the same token don’t expect our vote!

    • Well said Stephen. I would add only this … every organisation that organizes debates at election time generally has ‘an axe to grind’. Burlington Green’s questions to candidates have a focus on the environment. The Chamber of Commerce always focus on business and tax. BFAST have provided a questionnaire all about transit. That is natural and entirely healthy. And yet it is only ECOB who have been singled out repeatedly for opprobrium.

      We are seeing, to borrow a phrase currently being used in a different context, a personal vendetta against a community group who have dared challenge the status quo. The irony is that ECoB is attacked for not being ‘open’ about their directors by a Facebook Page and Twitter Account which operate entirely anonymously! You couldn’t make it up.

  • C Jester

    There once was a kingdom with a beautiful queen, who never saw a mirror she didn’t like. She was treated like the royalty she was. Yet she cared not for the “little people” she ruled.

    There was also a shaman in the kingdom who knew only evil spirits and loved to tell his people that things were either too complex or too simple for them to understand. He would interpret for them and all would be well.

    When these two joined forces, there was no limit to the harm they could do. Until they were no more. You see the people rose up and removed them. They realized they could look after themselves.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      C Jester:

      I love allegories and I get the Lancaster/beauty queen thing and the Sharman/shaman thing (nice alliteration btw) – particularly if we are in some sort of time warp (sorry Blair). I think you might have done a Lord of the Rings spin-off with Craven as Grima Wormtongue, Dennison as Sauraman, John Taylor as Tom Bombadil and Goldring as Gollum. It all works – or doesn’t.