Are we ready for 2019?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 1st, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

2019 New Yr graphic

What kind of a year is it going to be?

A number of resident offered their thoughts for the year – perhaps they were wishes.

Don Baxter, who at one point was the Economic Development Officer for Burlington offered two suggestions.  He is a little shy when it comes to cameras – thus no photo.

My two suggestions are simple; and if they get these two right, then all else eventually falls in place.

First, you cannot have functioning democracy if you do not have freedom of the press. So many great articles have recently been written about freedom of the press because of the brutal slaying of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi.  Anything I could say would pale in comparison. How does Burlington expect to be a responsive if people are not provided with different perspectives? Sure, Pepper, you sometimes get things wrong; but now, the City Hall version of the truth is a mollycoddled newsletter.

This is what people want in Burlington. Most of these trees are on city property. Should there be a bylaw to protect trees like this on public property?

This is what people want in Burlington. Most of these trees are on city property. Should there be a bylaw to protect trees like this on public property?

Second, All I really want for Christmas is a coherent tree policy that is actually implemented in 2019; in other words, stops dithering and just do it. For 5 years we have been pushing this rock up a hill? Why?

When working with the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium, for example, members freely and efficiently steal policies from one another to get the job done – they do not try to break new ground every time, only when it is competitively necessary. So, steal a needed policy, make sure all departments understand Council’s intent, and then, work together as a team.

Implementation of a tree policy would start with a review and increased understanding of the official plan tree policies, and then, implementation of a coherent tree policy involving many department including planning, building, tree, legal, budget, finance, and  hydro folks working with the Mayor and CAO to regulate tree-cutting and tree-planting on both public and private lands – finding reasons to save trees, not cut them down. This dynamic (read – not silo) will eventually build  the corporate culture, and staff will begin to feel good because they are doing good things.

After each municipal election, it is like the start of Maple Leaf hockey season – they have great players, and you have a faint hope the team will make the play-offs; but then, the team never really gels. The job for our new Mayor,  and CAO (once she is hired), is to be responsible for a corporate culture aimed at getting things done.  There is a saying, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, everyday. The last Council and senior staff put a lot of effort and research into a 25 year strategic plan that resulted in “dynamic inaction”.

Not original – but just do it!

Foxcroft tight face

Ron Foxcroft

Ron Foxcroft, who was made a Member of the Order of Canada in December took a serious note as well:

On a serious note

The Provincial government must tackle a growing and serious problem that is over the highway gridlock in and out of Burlington to and from the GTA

It is effecting commerce, trade and everyday enjoyment of lives. Burlington people who do not work in Burlington are worn out spending 3 plus hours a day in traffic

Kudos to all political parties over the past 30 years for their strategic planning to enhance public transit

Not everybody can reach their home or employment by public transit so solving over the highway gridlock must commence in 2019

IGNORE is NOT A SOLUTION. Enough talk. Let’s have an action plan as our Provincial and City resolution for 2019. Smart people live in Burlington. Let smart people be smart, and work on this problem with government. Let’s establish a sense of urgency.

In an ideal world it would be nice to live and work in Burlington. That is a dream for many but not realistic.

Burlington is a good City. Let’s make it great and solve over the highway gridlock in and out of our City.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner

Roland Tanner, a candidate for the ward 2 city council seat painted a bigger picture saying:

The biggest stories in 2019 are likely to come from the province, not Burlington City Hall.

There are rumours of amalgamation being on the premier’s agenda, and we must hope that the fatal damage this would do to the PC’s electoral position in Burlington will keep it off the table here. The premier may have a strong electoral mandate, but he should remember that nobody voted for a reduction in local democracy on June 6th.

The first full budget of the new government will also have enormous implications for what was intended to be Phase 2 development at Jo Brant, Burlington Transit and our local schools.

At City Hall I hope 2019 will see the new council be courageous in it’s approach to change. I’d like to see Councillors going back to the 2010 Shape Burlington Report and adopting overlooked recommendations, but also taking the opportunity to go beyond that document.

If Council wants to establish Burlington as a City that listens, it should embark on a complete overhaul of citizen advisory committees and make them the primary tools for citizen engagement. The committees should have an independent appointments process, they should be properly funded, given a remit to reach out and engage the public and measure public opinion, and their recommendations should be accorded a level of respect equal to staff recommendations.

It would then be the job of Councillors to vote for solutions which combine staff expertise, strategic planning, and public preferences. Building rigorous citizen engagement into City Hall processes would prevent any future Council from simply choosing to ignore the voice of residents.

The Gazette is now wide open to whatever you have in the way of ideas and predictions for what is going to be a tumultuous year.  Hang on!

And Happy New Year.

There will be major changes for the Gazette and nice changes for the publisher.

 

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