Year in Review: February 2019 - Council passes a 2.99 % tax increase; first cannabis shop application made.

background 100By Pepper Parr

December 28th, 2019



February, the second month of the last year of the second decade in this new millennium.

February 1st, 2019: – The plight of those less fortunate than most of us made the front page with a resident deeply concerned over how homeless people were managing to survive and the Mayor offering more of a platitude than anything else.


The homeless in Burlington – city is still looking for a policy that reflects its values.

Marilyn Ansley gave money to a homeless person earlier this week; he was soliciting at Fairview and Brant St. She said: “We must recognize and provide support to the many homeless people in our affluent city.”

People are not permitted to beg on the streets of Burlington – and begging is what it is – let’s not do the Burlington polite thing and call it soliciting.

“I asked him where he would be tonight in extremely cold weather. He said Burlington has nothing and all shelters in Hamilton are full.

Ms Ansley said she followed up with calls to the Region and was told she should tell people who need help to call 311.

The Mayor’s office sent a comment to the Gazette via her Chief of Staff setting out what the city was able to do.

“Resources are available so that there is no reason for anyone to spend a night on Burlington’s streets. The City of Burlington staff and leadership are always open to feedback from the community and continued evaluation of the programs that exist along with their use and effectiveness.”

The Gazette had asked each member of Council for a comment on homelessness and what could be done to help. The response from the Mayor was all that was received – it was a sign of the kind of relationship that was going to exist throughout the year.

There was a reason for this new relationship that no one was talking about.

February 2, 2019

Festival of treesThe Festival of Trees put on by the Performing Arts Centre to raise funds for the use of the Community Theatre by different arts group was a bright spot that will be appreciated throughout the year.

More than double the funds raised last year were brought in this year – they actually sold out the draw tickets they had.

Described as a massive success, the event brought 8000 visitors between Nov. 22 and Dec 20, and $7,305 for our Community Studio Theatre initiative, which provides grants to local artists and arts organizations to offset the cost of renting the Community Studio Theatre.

February 5th, 2019: – The City’s 10-year Capital Financing Strategy is heavily dependent on both annual dividends and interest on the note receivable from Burlington Hydro – but the financial statements weren’t given even a wink at the Standing Committee Monday night. The report will get looked at again at a city council meeting on February 25, 2019.

Last night the best council could do was Receive and file finance department report F-04-19 regarding the 2019 Business Plan for Burlington Hydro.

Burlington Hydro is owned by the city – 100% of it.

Burlington Hydro Inc (BHI) and Burlington Electricity Services Inc (BESI) are affiliate companies both of which are 100% owned by Burlington Hydro Electric Inc (BHEI). BHEI is 100% owned by the Corporation of the City of Burlington.

February 10th, 2019
The city lost one of its more impressive business leaders when Pasquale (Pat) Paletta passed away this date. His many business interests through his hard work, perseverance and vision, have all contributed to the growth and prosperity of Burlington. His incredible legacy as a self-made businessman will continue to carry on now through his family.

February 11th, 2019

Meed Ward H&S

Mayor makes herself perfectly clear.

Mayor Meed Ward presented a motion that she said would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications.

Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.

Meed Ward once again put out the word that the city “will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we are absolutely clear on our direction.”

Joe Dogs tables with snow Feb 2-15

The 2019 winter had arrived.


February 12th, 2019
As of 4 p.m. today, the City of Burlington is closing all city facilities and cancelling all city-run programs and rentals for Tuesday, Feb. 12. The City will work with sport user groups and renters to reschedule times.

Residents are strongly encouraged to avoid traveling as the roads are unpredictable as the city’s snow-fighters plow, sand and salt the primary roads.

All vehicles parked on the street must be removed and parking exemptions are void. Failure to remove vehicles from residential roads could result in being ticketed or possibly towed to allow snow plows and other heavy machinery to safely navigate the narrow streets.

February 16th, 2019:
Earlier in the year, after dismissing the City Manager, Council hired Tim Commisso to serve as an Interim City Manager for what was described as a six month contract, while City Council figured out what it wanted in the way of a new City Manager.

Commisso stare

Tim Commisso: He was brought in as an interim – got an offer he couldn’t refuse – a five year contract.

Commisso had earlier been employed by the city of Burlington for a number of years and left holding the title of General Manager. He left  Burlington to return to Thunder Bay, the city he was raised in, to serve as City Manager and retired from that job.

Then out of nowhere, with nothing said publicly, Commisso is described as the Acting City Manager.

We didn’t know then that he would eventually be hired as the City Manager with a five year contract after a competition that was said to have attracted 70 applicants.


The first high high rise development to be approved. The change in the city skyline was going to change.


February 18th, 2019:
The initial development application and concept for 2085 Pine St. that would have increased the height from the 5 storeys to 11 storeys was approved. The site was sold and the new owners came back with a proposal to 40 units. The issue for this location has always been the retention of the heritage structure.

The immediate area has a number of development applications that have either been approved (ADI is at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore 24 storeys) or are in the process of being considered by the city’s Planning department. They include plans for an 11 storey development on the east side of Martha south of the James – New Street intersection, the Mattamy development – 18 storeys at the corner of James and Martha

A proposal for 29 storeys – (the highest so far for the city) at the intersection of Pearl and Lakeshore Road.


City Hall BEST aerial

Civic Square was going to get a makeover – it wasn’t clear just how big a change the new council had in mind.

February 20th, 2019:
To the surprise of many a request for comments and ideas was released. The city had plans to upgrade the Civic Square.

The flag poles will be moved further up Brant Street opening up Civic Square.

The overall design has been determined and artists are being asked to come up with some ideas on what kind of shading there should be and what it could look like.

The competition was to close on March 15th.  There is a fee of $115,000 for the artist(s) chosen to do the job.

The contractor for the Civic Square shading project is anticipated to be complete and off-site by end of September. The artist will be expected to install the shade structure in October/November 2019.

Things didn’t work out quite that way.

Kearns with Mike

Kearns creates a Registry identifying those she meets with.

February 22, 2019
During the first month she was in office ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns said she was going to create a Business Registry. Anyone wanting to talk to her about a business matter would have to sign the Registry so that her constituents would know who she was talking to. We don’t yet know how detailed that Registry is going to be – just that there will be one and that it will become public starting at the end of March.

February 22nd, 2019

A statement from the Mayor on development:

My office recently received a letter from Minister Steve Clark of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding their work on the provincial government’s Housing Supply Action Plan.

Minister Clark outlined their desire “to take swift action to streamline the development approvals system” and “speed up the time it takes to get the right kind of housing built in the right places”. He further explained that “land use planning and development approvals are critical to achieving housing and job- related priorities” in our communities.

Mayor Meed Ward“I agree with these assertions and am glad to see their continued commitment to expediting these processes. As part of the new Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force that my office has initiated to support local business attraction and growth, I am committed to cutting red tape for development applications that are supported by council and the community.”

“The Minister’s office continues to consult on proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and review the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement as well, with the intention to bring forward legislation and policy changes in the coming months.

“While Minister Clark’s letter advises local municipalities to consider pausing on activities that may be impacted, such as Official Plan reviews, I want to reinforce that until we get more specific details from the Province related to the municipal land use planning process, the City of Burlington will continue to move forward as planned with our review of the Official Plan as per the motion approved by City Council on February 5th.”

The best way to save time and money is to eliminate the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal altogether. The tribunal, like the Ontario Municipal Board it replaced, provides unelected and inefficient involvement in planning matters that are best left to local councils, unnecessarily slowing down the development process.

Leaving planning in local municipal hands would not only speed approvals and remove red tape, but also provide more incentives to the development industry to work with municipalities and their residents to plan full communities rather than just build housing.

February 23rd, 2019:
Taking part in LPAT hearings: Gary Scobie attended a Local Planning Act Tribunal (LPAT) case conference meeting recently.

It was the follow up to a meeting at which he presented a lengthy document on why he felt the Reserve Properties appeal of a city council decision that permitted 17 stories the developer wants 24 – same as the one on the other side of the street.
Scobie had applied to be a Participant in the LPAT appeal back in January and he submitted his views to all Parties as required and filled in all the proper paperwork.

Yesterday the LPAT representative Chris Conti agreed with the Parties that they should all wait for the outcome of a pending trial in Toronto that will better define how LPAT functions going forward.

Scobie finds he is still a Participant in the appeal hearing, as far as he understands, but was told that his role may have ended with his submission. He apparently has no ability as a Participant to further expand or comment on the submission he made nor will anyone ask him any questions on the document.

February 24th, 2019

Burlington’s Best program comes to an end.

Burlington-Best-Header-847x254The deadline for what has been an annual event for the past 53 years is February 28th. The city asks the citizens to nominate people they feel have served the city well in eight categories.

This, the 53rd event, is reported to be the last.  Gazette sources have advised that the program will come to an end this year.

Established in February 1965 as the Civic Recognition Committee it may have outlived its usefulness.

February 19th, 2019
The site is just yards away from where Marianne Meed Ward officially threw her hat into the ring for the office of Mayor.
The application is to change the Official Plan designation to High Density Residential to allow the development of a mid-rise, 6-storey apartment building, with 160 dwelling units at a density of 258 units per hectare. A rezoning application has also been made to change the corresponding zoning.

Clearview rendering

The development was seen as very much out of place with what existed.

The lands are currently designated as low density residential in the City’s Official Plan which allows for detached and semi-detached dwellings, and other forms of ground oriented housing not exceeding 25 units per hectare.

The Meed Ward campaign was about sensible, responsible development. Yards away from where she was speaking to a small, enthusiastic audience at the top of Clearview Avenue overlooking the site on which the ADI Development Group is building the Station West community that will amount to a new neighbourhood that will align with the mobility hub.

February 26th, 2019
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO) has received an application for a retail cannabis store in Burlington at 103-4031 Fairview St.

Council ALL 2018

The 2019 budget was very much the Mayor’s production.

February 27th, 2019: 
The tax increase for the 2019 budget will be 2.99%.   They did it.  Today the Mayor  got her first budget approved – and make no mistake about it – this was the Mayor’s  budget.  The Operations budget is set at $165,960,609.

The Fire Chief didn’t get his $50,000 drone but the Manager/Supervisor of the bylaw enforcement team did get $35,000 for a car.

There were some incredible decisions made – those people who live below the poverty line are going to be able to get bus passes that will allow them to use transit totally free of charge.

Staff had brought in a request for 3.99% – nope said this council. Make it work on 2.99% – and they did. At the end of the year there was a surplus of $900,000

February 28th, 2019
That time of year again – when hundreds of runner take to the pavement and run the Chilly Half Marathon. This time it is really going to be chilly. There were transit route disruptions on routes 3, 10 & 20.

Related news story:

 January 2019 in Review


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2 comments to Year in Review: February 2019 – Council passes a 2.99 % tax increase; first cannabis shop application made.

  • Philip Waggett

    Wow—the “tax and spenders” increased taxes by 3% this year and another 4% for next year! How many people in Burlington got a similar increase in their income? Once again, this Mayor and council have voted to cut taxpayers’ disposable income and lower their standard of living. How much more of this can we take?

    • David

      Especially when the greatest portion of property taxes are for wages and benefits….And those wages and benefits go to city employees who manage things that most of us actually don’t have the time to use, due to the fact they are physically and emotionally drained trying to keep up.

      Its really only the 9.9’s hiding within the middle and working classes that have no problem paying these increases and pushing for even more frivolous extravagances that have to be managed by even more overpaid bureaucrat’s.