Do you want to get your council member’s attention? Put up a web site and hold a meeting – guess who shows up?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 9, 2013   Are things heating up in Ward 5?  At the Capital Budget debates in February, the suggestion that something bigger and better could be done with the Skyway Arena site if it were tied to the Lakeside Village  Plaza and offered to developers.  The words were no sooner out of the mouth of Jeff Fielding,  the city manager,  than Councillor Sharman, Ward 5,  was on top of the idea and talking about how he would craft a Staff Direction.

That caught the attention of people in the ward who are rather fond of their one pad ice rink and wanted to ensure their views were heard and that they would be at the table when discussions took place.

The SAVE SKYWAY ARENA website, with the headline:  Because city hall doesn’t listen to its residents, was put together by Ward 5 activist and former candidate in the ward James Smith, who is also very active on transit issues in the ward and president of the Friends of Freeman Station where he has been very successful in keeping that structure out of the hands of those who wanted to make kindling out of the structure.

Seems as if Smith has a bit of a track record in the community.  Is he lining himself up for another run at the Council seat.

We’re not opposed to improvements to Skyway Arena, just the opposite.  We’re not opposed to redevelopment of Lakeside Plaza, just the opposite.  We are opposed to City Hall arbitrarily deciding to close Skyway before  the community has its say.  We want the South East to be treated the same as the rest of Burlington.   It is reported that six people showed up at the community event, including the ward councillor.  The important thing, commented one person, was that the Sharman “for the most part did not attempt to take over the meeting.  The group also believes it won the “concession that any Request for Proposals or Expressions of Interest would include the ideas that we’ve drummed up – not his , and that community involvement will be part of the process.”

Sharman is reported to have done a lot of qualifying as to what the city can or can’t do and the impact of budget restrictions.  One obviously biased attendee said:  “No one came away impressed with the fellow.”  As one said after the meeting: “Sharman would not be listening to us unless you launched this – thanks”.

It looks like things are heating up in ward 5.



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