Young on the first 100 days: Give the new city council some time to breath.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

They get sworn in on December 3rd – tell us what you think has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in.

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department and worried about annual tax increases of around 4%

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.


By Jim Young
November 15th, 2018

The first thing Burlington has to do is to breathe. Everybody just take a deep breath. We have voted to change council in a massive way that has replaced not only most of the Councillors, but hopefully has transformed the viewpoints and attitudes that previously prevailed. We, and they, now need a little time to digest this.

If I have learned only one thing in my years of committee involvement and delegation at City Hall; it is that municipal politics move slowly and when we consider the importance of city actions and decisions that is probably a good thing. So where is the need to rush?

On October 23rd, we awoke to a new mayor, five brand new city and regional Councillors and one returned incumbent. Our new mayor is smart, savvy and brings eight years’ experience on council to her new role. But, with the utmost respect and support for her, she needs time to adjust to her new role which I have no doubt she will accomplish.

Our new Councillors need time to get their feet under the table, understand their new roles and some of the procedures and protocols of the job. Even the returning Councillor Sharman may need time to adjust to a new and very different council in which he may now find his views in the minority.

Individually we may have voted for or against them but they are now our democratically elected City Council and, as such, deserve our backing and support, at least until we get an honest and reasonable opportunity to judge them in action. Let us not rush to criticize or condemn.

City staff also need time to adjust to their new reality too. If our new Councillors hold true to their promises of change, this will create a seismic shift in many of the directions they have been following up until now.

Like a large ship, any city needs time to change course. This is not a time for recriminations or wholesale staff changes. We need an orderly transition to the new citizen/city paradigm we have been promised.

Our Regional Councillors will do almost anything for a photo-op; this time they are showing you the new 2 gallon blue boxes.

Regional Councillors displaying the new 2 gallon blue boxes. They have one more meeting as a Regional government before their term of office ends.

Perhaps more important than the first 100 days of the new council are the few remaining days of the outgoing council. Until the new Councillors officially take their seats on December 3rd, we are at the mercy of outgoing City Councillors who also double as Regional Councillors. This leaves them with a major say in the Regional Adoption of the New Official Plan which the majority of them favoured but was the main reason so many of them are no longer city Councillors.

We must demand that they accept that the people have spoken finally and emphatically against the adoption of The New Official Plan and conduct themselves accordingly. For them to vote at the Region to adopt the Plan, while perfectly legal, would be morally repugnant and an act of unparalleled vindictiveness on their part.

The outgoing Regional Council should must defer to the clearly voted wishes of the people of Burlington. They have spoken and deserve that the outgoing council take the high road on this matter.

Meantime let us not rush to oppose our new batch of city Councillors or demand immediate answers to long term issues but support them in their transition and give them the opportunity to live up to their promises.

We elected them, let them prove themselves worthy. In order to do that they need and deserve a little breathing room.

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8 comments to Young on the first 100 days: Give the new city council some time to breath.

  • Susie

    Not sure on the legality and timeframe of the 31 supposed applications for hi-rises, but I’m sure the developers have been nicely coached and are presently sitting comfortably with their proposals. A year ago, about this time, there was a huge number of applications flowing into City Hall, and that has now been a year in making. With no transparency given to the public, I have strong feelings that such slight changes might be possible with the new Council, but so little to make a real difference. All “new” applications for scrutiny and change, yes , but the developers/planners on the present (31) are probably one step ahead and sitting very comfortable. With the 31, (if that is the correct number MMW mentioned), then I believe that takes care of all available land for development in the downtown. Time to breathe, or has our breath already been taken away?

  • Don Fletcher

    I agree with what you have said … somewhat.
    The new councillors will have had 6 weeks from the election to official installation and the Christmas/ New Years season affords another week or two of slack.
    These are not entry level jobs and I think we should rightfully expect the successful candidates to get down-to-business and triage/ deal with critical & urgent matters immediately.
    The developers, their lawyers and urban planners are certainly not taking extra time to breathe right now. They are probably doing just the opposite!

  • steven craig gardner

    Wealways measured elected officials on first 100 days be in US president, Canadian PM etc. Not sure why Burlington folks elected should be gven any special treatment. Hopefully the advantage of the lengthy delay in swearing in from October to December is these newly elected folks are doing their homework during this 6 week period so they can ht the ground running s 4 years is not a long time if you don’t enter office with your ducks already line up. I am hoping this new council does not behave like Mr. Ford or Trump and undo everything the previous council put in place just because they put it in place. they need to evaluate everything careful to ensure each decision they make is the right one for all of Burlington if a city decision and all ofHalton if a regional decision. Not just their ward or their electorate.

    • Jim Young

      Hi Steven… The first ever 100 day judgement was FDR in the thirties when the depth of the depression and the dust bowl demanded urgent action.
      While intensification is a huge deal for our city much of the zoning amendments are difficult to undo and the New Official Plan is currently at tbe mercy of outgoing regional councillors.
      Most of the issues, even the possible reconsideration of The OP, do not have tbat 100 day urgency.
      The one exception may be the budget which has been prepped by staff and outgoing council and may need some reconsideration by a new council.
      I appreciate your thoughts and opinion but sometimes wonder if we: “Act in Haste……Repent at Leisure” as my dear old Mom used to advise me.

  • Judy

    I am trusting that the sitting councillors will vote against the official plan for all the right and moral reasons.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Wise words, Jim, although I expect there will be some pointed conversations behind closed doors with some of the senior bureaucrats to reinforce the message that times have indeed changed. I do agree that staff should be given the opportunity to adapt although in my experience, changes in staff are ultimately necessary.

  • joe gaetan

    Perhaps we should consider emulating Newfoundland and Labrador where a term of office shall begin within two weeks of being elected and that before starting a term of office a councillor must be sworn-in.

  • bonnie

    Jim, thank you for this insightful article. I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts.